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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Industrial Artist

While it's true that Mr. Pottinger destroyed my bowl on the lathe, I still think he was a pretty good teacher. Despite my struggles with leather working and ceramics, he was patient and did a good job of explaining key concepts. And I still enjoy recalling his recitation of the five senses, delivered in a singsong Caribbean accent:

"What are the five senses? Taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight. But there is a sixth sense, the most important sense of all! What is this sixth sense? COMMON sense!"

One day I endured a personalized version of this short lecture. Bored and distracted, I placed a leather punch in a shallow pool of water (used to cure the leather, or some other arcane process) and started tapping it with my mallet just to see the water ripple. Mr. Pottinger caught me and said sternly, "You are not using your common sense!" He was right, and I guiltily returned to making my leather bookmark.

Mr. Pottinger's wife was a librarian, a very joyful woman, and I went to school with their children, Clayton and Nevin. Strangely enough Nevin and I wound up on the same dorm floor - Main Kelsey - when we studied at the University of Alberta a few years later. I've always been a little sad that I didn't talk with him much; he seemed like a cool guy, but our interests were fairly divergent so we never really hung out together.

I haven't thought about the Pottingers for years, but of late I find myself contemplating the past more than usual - more than is healthy, probably. But when the future seems uncertain (speaking only in terms of my career), I suppose it's natural to take comfort in what's gone before.

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