Rufina comes home to roost, Part II: The Contest

RCHTR contest

[cont. from Part 1…] Seasons greetings! First of all, thanks for being here. This wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without the six of you reading, commenting, and “egging me on” (get it?). Now… let’s play!

The Inspiration

This contest was inspired by sweet Rufina, a blind chicken with an exceptional will to survive; changing life, or life changes; and a poem by one of my very favorite authors, Mary Oliver (copied at the end of this post).

I know a lot of people who are in transition right now: into and out of relationships, jobs, bad habits, considering new goals or appearances, learning to live differently by choice or circumstance. Moving, unfurling or folding up.

And so am I.

This blog is changing (hope I didn’t startle you!) and will soon be a combination of blog + professional web site so I can have everything under one roof. I’m also quitting raku (after 15 years and 40,000 hours over a hot kiln) in favor of learning new ceramic techniques, such as the image transfer process. So I’ve been contemplating the last two lines of the poem a lot lately, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?.  And I don’t think it’s ever too late to ask that question.

The Prize

That question combined with Rufina’s story and I made these


feather cup

Cups with Rufina’s feathers and Mary Oliver’s text. Text that is also written, of course, in braille.


The winner will receive a pair of these cups — one to keep and one to give away to someone who might appreciate it. Included with each cup will be a small card with Rufina’s story on one side, The Summer Day on the other.

To Enter

Write in the comments below what you have planned for your one wild and precious life. There is no wrong answer! One word of 15, it’s all welcome, even if you have won a Live Clay contest already! Here’s a little inspiration from Rumi:

Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.

Deadline Wednesday, December 11, 10 pm MST.

This contest will be decided by our new friends introduced in the last post, the Garcia sisters.  I’ll write each of your names on a piece of paper, arrange them in a circle on my studio floor, and put the Garcia sisters with their ridiculous big feet in the middle. The first answer to get stepped on wins! If I’m really feeling kooky I might even film the event and post the results in video format. Good luck!

The Poem

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

37 thoughts on “Rufina comes home to roost, Part II: The Contest

  1. One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
    “Which road do I take?” she asked.
    “Where do you want to go?” was his response.
    “I don’t know,” AlIce answered.
    “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

    Merry Christmas, my earthen friend. May you and yours, and the magnificent Rufina, have a great one!

    • I love that, John, thanks! I must admit I’m guilty of never having read many of the classics, and that is one, so I’m glad you had the lovely quote handy. (Three Musketeers is also on my reading list…)
      Anyway, you are entered with your quotation loveliness!
      And Merry Christmas to you 🙂

  2. I’m horribly afraid of heights. Horrible as in I have trouble on a step ladder and the thought of being in a skyscraper makes me want to shut down and be sick, in that order. So, I’m going to ride a roller coaster, the biggest, tallest, fastest one I can find, twice.

    Rufina Rocks!

    • Excellent! Please let me know where you find such a roller coaster! (I almost visited the oldest/largest wooden one this summer, somewhere near Pittsburgh but didn’t quite make it.) Love your resolve to confront your biggest fear 😉

  3. I love this poem! My mother gave me a copy many moons ago, when I was a fresh young chicken moving off to college, and it stays tacked to my board above my desk to this day. I’m terrible about making plans for my one wild and precious life, but that in itself has made for a wild ride! I want to do ALL OF THE THINGS!

    • ksnapped, how great that you’ve been toting a copy of this poem around for so many years! I think having no plans, but being open to it all, is a fine way to be. Congratulations that your ride has been wild, and thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are entered!

    • You are entered, plagiarizer and name-caller of Rumi!

      PS Did I tell you we visited his grave site in Turkey? Lovely. But I couldn’t stop saying Rumi’s Tombi. Much to everyone’s annoyance.

  4. Be creative.
    Make art.
    Continue learning.
    Be myself.
    And, along the way,
    Fulfill the destiny of the older,
    which is
    to help guide the younger
    with gentle words
    that help them understand
    their own path to becoming the older.

    • Yes Ruth! There certainly (or uncertainly) is no such thing as security — I like the way you think! The magic of the unknowable… that’s also something to ponder. Thank you so much for sharing. You are entered!

  5. Live it, keep it close, share it, be kind, rejoice in oranges at Christmas, sweat the uphills an whoop the downhills, collect rainbows and clouds, tread softly, love.

    • Mysterious commenter, I will think of your words when I eat Christmas oranges or find myself on a downhill slope whooping instead of crying (kind of like the leoburpsgarlic below… I’m guessing she really did whoop on the way down!). And if you win this contest, you must reveal yourself (or at least your mailing address). 🙂 Thanks for entering!

  6. Every morning my wonderful hubby leaves for work and says to me that I need to go for a walk, take my camera for an exciting ride, do something just for fun, sit and do nothing if I want to. Every time I hear him I think that sounds absolutely lovely. Then I turn around and work, clean, organize, feel guilty if I’m not going 100 miles per minute, but not really loving the one wild and precious life I was given. I’m starting slow, but I’m going to do it a bit more every day. It’s going to happen even if I have to put it in my calendar!

  7. This day I did not fall down upon the grass.
    Rather I fell down upon my ass. Icy cement received my bones.
    For today I am done with being wild.
    Crazy is another matter.
    For today, I sparkle like the snow with gratitude
    that my bones are not broken, that Rufina and the Garcia sisters peck and poop,
    that icy cement is now softened by salt,
    and that it’s Friday and the family will head off ror dinner, hopefully wearing rubber boots.

    • That is so funny!! I mean, not that you fell on the ice (really?), but your poetic twist on the event…. simply perfection itself. Are you a writer??! Oh, I have not laughed so hard in a while. Well, since Len’s email, but that’s a matter for another day. Thanks for scraping your ass off the ice long enough to comment. You are entered!

  8. Hoping to be worthy of all the blessings in my life, I will do what I can to help fellow travellers in this world. Feed the hungry!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Mary. The thing about blessings… maybe the reason they are such a gift is because we’re precisely unworthy of them. 🙂 What a relief to stop trying to “deserve” whatever we are given and just focus on receiving. Without guilt or agenda. You are entered!

  9. I think it was St. Robert Bellarmine, who, while playing billiards, was asked what he would do if he were to be informed that he only had an hour to live. He replied, after a moment of thought, that he’d finish his game. So, my wild and crazy (or is it wild and precious?) act would be, like St. Robert, to finish this game, in the most healing fashion possible…shot by shot.

    • I love this Jer. I knew you were a sports addict for some reason…. finishing the game in the most healing fashion possible… wonderful. Thanks for commenting, you are entered!

  10. A great poem, and a fantastic bit of pottery. The mug looks incredible!
    I’ve no idea what I’m going to do. But I plan to make a delightful fiasco doing it.

    Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

    • “Delightful fiasco”. My new favorite phrase, and a perfect one to describe a life well lived! You are entered! Thanks for the kind words about the cups too, Guap. I’m so happy that you have entered– Best of the holiday season to you and TMWGITW!

    • That’s great, Heather! On your own personal path of evolution. I guess even in one lifetime much can happen, and I like how the emphasis is on growth or adaptation. I wonder if you’ll ever have a tail? (helps with cat communication…). Just kidding. Thank your for sharing, and you are entered!

  11. I love the new direction of your work Laura. I am so glad to know the whole-poem context for the wild and precious life quote. Our chickens are weathering a week of below zero temps in Colorado, and I am grateful every morning when I go out to the coop and pick them up and feel their strong warm hearts beating. As Rufina can tell you, chicken-hearted is a grave misnomer. Chickens are bravehearts.

    I have been reading Thomas Merton lately, so here is what your challenge means to me. “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”

    And more Merton, “To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”

    • Thanks for Merton this beautiful cold Morning.
      Another reminder for this day is St. Francis:

      If you put your heart against the earth with me, in serving every creature, our Beloved will enter you from our sacred realm and we will be, we will be, happy.

      Now all I need is a chicken cup with Braille, filled with hot coffee.
      I hope Rufina and the Garcia sisters are warm.

      • Oh, this is also great! I am embarrassingly uneducated on the writings of St Francis… I have read more beautiful things in this comment section. Woo hoo for contests!

    • Such a lovely thing to write, Theresa, both your own words and Merton’s. I hadn’t read those passages before. And now I must search for warm, beating chicken hearts when I pick ours up. You’re right, they are brave…. smart, too. In their own chickeny way. Thanks for your thoughts, you are entered!

  12. I love keeping up through your blog and will look forward to its new form.

    My plan is to be myself more every year. this includes saying what is on my mind and being outdoors some every day and hanging out with inspired beings. The first third of my life has been wild, the second third quite conventional – my next trimester of life will be a combo pack of both.

    • The third trimester of your life… that’s one I never heard before. It’s usually divided into halves, so how wonderful to add a little algebraic mix-up to the notion! Is it algebra? I dont’ know, I don’t do math. Maybe in your third half of life you will be just conventional enough to get the bills paid and the cat fed and keep the paycheck stable… but that’s it!! Thanks for commenting, Ginger, you are entered!

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