1969 Born December 17.
1977 Jealous of 2nd grade classmate's pencil drawing of a deer; give up hope for artistic career.
1984 Go to Phillips Academy as a boarder; start making pottery with Mrs. Bensley to avoid alternative pastimes that may result in expulsion.
1987 Go to Amherst College, no ceramics, get a Fine Arts BA in painting, take a ceramics class at UMass my senior year, am reminded of my calling.
1991 Move to San Francisco and do anything to avoid getting a “real job”.
1992 Get studio space at Ruby’s Clay Studio.
1994 Go on one of those ridiculous trips: cycling for 5 months with Irish boyfriend from Guadalajara, Mexico to San Jose, Costa Rica; have cliché travelling epiphany about making ceramics my life.
1995 Sell bike to chef, Joseph Manzare; during transaction, in seeing my fabulous apartment, he orders bowls, platters and a massive vase for his new restaurant in San Francisco, Globe.
1996-1998 Get so many orders from the exposure I have at Globe. Business is booming.
1997 Apply to graduate school and am accepted, have a huge going away party during which I break my arm falling off the bar dancing to Gary Glitter.
1998 Arrive in London at the Royal College of Art in a sling and start my Masters Course.
1998-2001 Live in poverty in London eating ramen (pot noodles as they say) again.
2000 Trumpets and fanfare (literally) at The Royal Albert Hall, I get my masters degree from the Ceramics and Glass department.
2001 Bunny, my Volvo, martyrs herself to the cause of my ceramics business and gets totaled by a drunk dot-comer in a rented Jaguar. Insurance money goes to buy 2 kilns to set up a summer studio at my mom's in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts where I potted in my bikini for two months a year knowing that both San Francisco and London were foggy and wretched.
2002 Win Merit Award to do Rosen show in Philadelphia and start my wholesale career.
2003 Made pots and tried not to drop friends' new babies.
2004 Piled clay, glazes, furniture and loud Siamese cat into my brother's truck and moved to Philadelphia. Had a 5000 lb. kiln installed THROUGH A WINDOW into a ridiculously massive building that I bought but couldn’t really afford.
2005 Became one of those boring people who talked about IKEA kitchen options, drywall, plumbing, utilities, mortgages, and the benefits of radiant heat. Despite the cold, I did not miss San Francisco—just my hairdresser, my dentist, my friends, and the scintillating person I was before the above-mentioned topics consumed me...
2006 Gave birth to Jack Peter McDonald on Mother’s Day. (May 14) I married Tim McDonald, his dad, and the love of my life, on October 28. Jack Peter was the best man.
2007 Halloween! Had baby girl, Elizabeth Steel McDonald (Steel)
2008 Tried to keep it all together. Tried to have another baby. Tried not to let my clay/diaper changing induced eczema get out of hand. Tried to embrace the fact that my son said the word “backhoe” at least 98 times a day.
2009 Had Baby Toby (girl) October 16. I decided to stop having employees in the studio because I couldn't have my life be babysitting at home and babysitting at work. My studio became a lot messier and I couldn’t blame anything on anyone but myself. We moved from the loft above my studio into one of my architect husband's gorgeous houses. I felt ridiculously fancy although I had to drive at 5 am back to the ghetto to turn kilns on. The crack heads thought I was one of them; I was looking pretty rough.
2010 I had Toby in the studio with me for most of the year sitting in her little neglecto-matic listening to Terry Gross. I started blogging about the chaos of my existence. . I spent a good part of the year panicking about the Philadelphia Public School system.
2011 Did not have a 4th child...not for lack of trying. I instead put my creative energy into making a ridiculous amount of pottery and a kick-ass R2D2 Halloween costume for my kindergartener. There are so many Halloweens ahead of us. I fear I may have peaked too soon.
2012 Got the kids into a good charter school and felt free to continue living our creative, urban lives. The kids were stuck on a bus for hours a day, but I clung to a tiny little NPR clip I heard on the benefits of daydreaming for children. Tim, my husband, fell off a roof which plummeted him into an early onset midlife crisis.
2013 Made breakfasts, lunches, snacks for school. Went to studio and made pots. Picked up kids, helped sort out homework/dinner. Tried not to scream HURRY UP! too many times in the day. Collapsed on couch with Tim in front of Netflix. Tim's response to 2012 crisis was to get a teaching job at Temple University giving him 3 full-time gigs: daddy, architect, teacher.
2014 Moved to Mt. Airy to be closer to the new location of the kids’ school. Mt. Airy has all of the crime and bad schools of downtown Philly, but you can no longer walk everywhere and the restaurants are terrible. Started commuting to/from my studio 14 miles a day round trip on the bike which terrified my husband.
2015 Was asked for the first time if I was Toby’s grandmother. Contended with lice, rodents, and roaches for the first time. JP got his first of many “conduct referrals” at school. My love of alcohol was finally feeling justified.
2016 Started to notice that having 3 kids, 2 cats, fish, a husband, and hermit crabs digs into pottery-making time. I was getting a lot of orders because Michael Solomonov had his food photographed on my pottery for his Zahav cookbook. Discovered the extent of my ignorance when I’d gone to sleep at 9:37 on election night fully confident that I would arise to a forthcoming female president. Awakened to three weeping children.
2017 Made a ton of bright, cheery pottery while watching my husband begin his 4-year descent into the depths of depression over our nation’s handling of climate change. Started to worry about/get involved in my kids’ school. Lived for Friday night piano nights when 6 kids would get lessons at our house or the neighbor’s, the moms would drink, chaos and a movie night would ensue.
2018 The Eagles won the Super Bowl which felt like a win for humanity at large. We visited The William Penn Charter School the day after and decided that day to send our kids there. Painted black flowers on all of my pottery while riveted to the Kavanaugh hearings. Worried about how we would pay for private school.
2019 Oscillated between tears of relief at what and how my kids were being taught and abject rage over the immediate sense of entitlement they started to exhibit. Adopted Lincoln, our Vizsla rescue, who bit 12 people the first week we had him. Was planning to take 6 months off from pottery to write a book. Instead took 12 months off to not write a book, make soap, and learn about training a traumatized, neurotic dog.
2020 Moved into my new studio 3 blocks from the house 2 weeks before we had to quarantine. Covid was initially blissful. I didn’t have to schlep kids anywhere. My dog was a permanent excuse to be in Wissahickon Park. I had an amazing new kiln, and people were desperate for pottery to make their home-cooked food seem better. Trump lost, and the dog biting abated.