Work Should Not Be Such Hard Work

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I have all but officially given my notice of intent to retire from the workforce on the last day of September.  Of this year!  Like in about 42 days.  Just have to put it in writing and hand it in and try not to look too ecstatically happy in that moment.

It’s time.  I can’t remember the last time I was enthusiastic about my job, or truly happy to be doing it.  Situations don’t suddenly become horrible, but deteriorate gradually with ups and downs until the downs tip the balance and you just accept that as normal.  It’s not enough when a pay cheque is your only source of inspiration and joy.  And the job itself is slowly sucking the life out of you.

Okay, where did that come from?  Time to make my escape before I kill somebody, by the sounds of that.  Plus I’m very old.  Cranky old ladies eventually get cranky enough to call it quits.  And the world should probably thank them for that.

In anticipation of being home all day with nothing to do, I have made a start at setting up a place to create fabulous works of art.  This little section of the L-shaped living room was originally used as a dining area by the previous owners.  It’s too small for that.  The last thing it became was a place where W had his favourite chair and footstool and could read his paper and fall asleep.  I figure he can do that anywhere, so I moved him across the room.  This spot will have great natural light when I get around to opening the blinds.

Those little white drawers are chock full of unfinished projects.  I have three times as much stuff elsewhere throughout the house waiting to be assessed and organized and resurrected or chucked out.  W found my old easel in the rafters in the garage.  I picked up a few new art supplies.  I had forgotten how much I love a blank canvas.

Obviously I will need a chair, and something to protect the floor, and it will never look this clean and tidy EVER again once I get started.  I’m good at folk art and not terrible with acrylics, but I’d like to take classes in watercolor, and try encaustic painting (painting with hot wax.)  And mixed media where anything goes.  And then of course there’s writing about all the disasters later, and sharing a brilliant moment or two.  Hopefully at least two.

This week is a hard one at work because we’re down to a skeleton staff with the manager on holidays and no one to hire and our part-time people quitting and going back to school.  Inventory coming up.  And me in the middle of it all, having a difficult time giving a crap about anything.  It’s lovely to know it won’t be long before I can walk away.  And never come back.  Take a new path to a different destination.

Remember what it’s like to really love what I do and who I am.

Connect

Maybe this is more of a disconnect from the boring business of acting like an adult, but today I am going to make paper dolls.  Because they are connected to each other and also ridiculously cute.  I’m sure I read somewhere that it’s a good idea to connect with ones inner child every so often so we’ll just call this artistic therapy and leave it at that.

001This is a long strip of card stock paper in shocking pink. I leave the choice of paper quality and color up to your personal preference.  Nothing is written in stone here.  Fold it in half width-wise three times, and then using the fold lines as guides, fold it back and forth accordion style until your fingers hurt and it looks like this.

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Then fold it up flat again with the four folded edges where you’ll do your cutting.   If you’re very adventurous you can just cut it free hand and see what happens, or you can draw something like this as a guide.

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Find some big sharp heavy-duty scissors and cut this out.  It’s all coming back to you, right?  Now we all remember why we never used heavy card stock paper with those blunt and awkward little-kid scissors.

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Taa Daa!  A normal person might stop now, after admiring this for a sufficient ego-stroking amount of time, but the child in me can’t seem to leave well enough alone.

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There, now we’re done, because we’ve added awesome hair (some of it appears to be facial), big smiles, cute dresses and colorful mary-janes.

Come on, wasn’t this a lot more fun than a post about connecting to some dumb social network like Facebook or Twitter?  Never mind that it will be connected to both of these when I hit the publish button.  That’s completely beside the point.

Did you make these, or some variation of them when you were little?  What have you done today that’s completely silly but insanely fun?

Cin’s Feb Challenge Day 24 – Connect

A Journal Adventure

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My least successful stab at keeping a journal was in 1998.  I’m going to call it an adventure because way back then I was trying something new, unusual, exciting and fun.  My other reason for this is because yesterday and today the challenges are ‘journal’ and ‘adventure’ and I’m trying to make sense of my decision to combine the two.  I do realize keeping a journal is not everyone’s idea of breathtaking adventure.

The Kiss by Francesco Hayez

The Kiss by Francesco Hayez

Anyway, adventurous or not, I did it because Oprah told me to.  She said everyone should write down three things they are grateful for every day.  I had the perfect book to put it in too, something I purchased on a whim called “Love, A Book of Days.”  It is full of beautiful art work and famous quotes with love as a recurring theme, with six or seven little blank numbered spaces on every other page, the perfect size for recording spurts of gratefulness.

My dedication to this endeavour lasted about fifteen weeks.  However, the last four weeks probably shouldn’t count because all I was writing by then were three strange words a day – words like syzygy, fossiker and ozostomia.  I suppose we can assume I was grateful for those words, but only up to a point, because suddenly I just stopped being grateful for anything at all and the rest of the pages are blank.  Except of course for the painting reproductions and the blurbs about love by famous people.  So it’s still a book worth keeping, despite being scribbled in.

Are you watching the Sochi Olympics this winter?  The reason I ask is because in 1998 the Nagano Olympics were happening.  I would not have remembered this if I hadn’t written that I was thankful for knowing the ice dancing judges were idiots and being grateful for Olympic hockey games and never having to actually watch any of them.

Other less historically significant things on my list included being grateful for -

1.  Weekends and sleeping in

2.  Clumping cat litter

3.  Being able to recognize my boss’s insanity/cope with her mental instability (there are apparently many ways to say this)

4.  How quickly one can make spaghetti

5.  Phone calls that are for me/phone calls that are NOT for me

6. Medical terminology for transcriptionists

7.  Selective memory

8.  Bohemian Rhapsody

9.  Chiropractors and not needing one

10.  Shoelaces

11.  Shopping lists, finding my shopping list while shopping, getting things that are not on my shopping list

12.  Stat Holidays, even when they’re a joke.

I have no idea what that last one means.  One day I wrote meditation, mediation, medication.  And the boss is the one who’s nuts?  Yeah.

Did you ever keep a journal?  Are you going to burn it before you die?

Dancing in Columbia by Fernando Botero

Dancing in Columbia by Fernando Botero

Cin’s Feb Challenge -  Day 20 Journal, Day 21 Adventure

Dress Up

awesome hermit

What do you call a person who makes simple challenges either ridiculously complicated or completely uncomplicated?  Never mind, I don’t want to know.  I fall behind and I catch up.  Or not.  It’s what I do and I am accepting that today.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  If anything changes I will let you know.

I used to dress up long ago when there were things to get dressed up for, like church and weddings and New Years Eve parties.  Now I dress mostly to be inconspicuous and not naked.  And comfortable and warm.  And hopefully not too embarrassing to my children.  I must admit I sometimes catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and wonder what I was thinking and whether or not a monkey might have more fashion sense than I do.  But, you know, what good does it do to dwell on monkey brains stuff like that?

Let’s dwell on this for a moment instead.

“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.”
―     Helena Bonham Carter

 

An early childhood trauma may be the cause of my aversion to getting all dressed up, and if that’s not really why I have such a reluctance to do it, at least it gives us something to blame it on.

When I was in grade five or six our school went on some kind of a bus ride/field trip to the big city (probably Toronto) which might have involved some kind of science fair.  Yes, the historical details elude me, but that’s not what’s important here.  What’s important is that I decided to dress up for this excursion in a flouncey pink dress with poofy sleeves and a real honest to goodness crinoline.  If you don’t know what a crinoline is, count yourself lucky.  I remember my mother suggesting I was a tad over dressed, but I would not change my mind.

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This is a picture of an educational ‘ride’ similar to the one we all went on, although it’s a lot more fancy. What I remember is a round wood panelled room where we all stood in a circle against the walls.  The room began to spin and once it got going fast enough the floor dropped out from under us leaving us pinned to the wall by centrifugal force.  There was a lot of screaming.  It was very exciting.  However, I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole with an uncooperative dress when the spinning slowed down and we started to slip towards the rising floor.  I went down, the dress and the crinoline went up. There were boys there.  Staring at me while smugly wearing their sensible pants.  centrifugal force 001Stupid boys.  Stupid dress.  And yeah, my hair was pretty much exactly like that.  Growing up is such a distressing experience.

This scatterbrained post was written in response to

Cin’s Feb Challenge Days 17, 18 and 19:  dress up/create/photo walk.

Today it is a balmy minus 5 degrees Celsius here, but it’s still February with bare trees and snow everywhere so I’m not feeling any photo walk motivation.  I am however completely dressed, except for socks. I have created an incredibly awesome picture to teach you all about centrifugal force.

Huh. There you go – challenge met.

Tea Party

Cin’s Feb Challenge:

Day 8 – Tea Party

Day 9 – Brag about yourself or something you are doing

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For most people (I think) it’s an uncomfortable thing to brag about yourself, and I believe that I don’t do that a lot.  However, I could be wrong, because isn’t this blog just one great big brag session??  I guess it is what it is.

This is a picture I painted in 1997.  Yes.  Seventeen years ago.  Amazing fact – it has survived seventeen years worth of de-cluttering.  I spent a lot of time on all the fiddly details and it was one of my first tole paintings ever, but that’s not why I love it.

It reminds me of the relationship I have with my younger sister Ann, the one closest to me in age.  (There are almost ten years between me and our youngest sibling, and a fifteen year old doesn’t set spending time with a five-year old as one of her priorities.)  So the tea parties I remember are the ones where Ann and I played at being civilized grown ups for as long as we could stand it, before taking off outside again to act like the little hooligans we really were.

My hair was dark and straight as a poker and I was always jealous of Ann’s Shirley Temple curls.  Mom dressed me in red while my sister got to wear beautiful blues and chocolate browns.  I would (of course) be the one in charge of the tea-pot and the slicing of the cake, because I was older and bigger and incredibly bossy. I’m not like that AT ALL anymore.  Just ask my sisters, and they had better agree with me.

One of these fine days I will get back into painting.  For awhile I rented a display space at a little store called “Rose Tree Cottage” and sold a lot of my stuff there.  I still have the records somewhere of all the things I painted, and they number in the hundreds.  When it became more like work and less like fun I just stopped doing it.  When I have all kinds of time on my hands and no job to go to I will set up a little ‘studio’ again and see what happens, and what magical memories are still stored away in my old and muddled up mind.

There are all kinds of flaws in this tea party painting.  I could point them out to you if you haven’t already noticed them, but sometimes I think it’s the imperfections in things that make them good.  And dear.  And worth hanging on to for seventeen years.

Ask A Silly Question

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~Rumi

Publicity photo of The Supremes from The Ed Su...

Publicity photo of The Supremes from The Ed Sullivan Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daily Prompt:  When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are you now? Are the two connected?

Art class was one of the things I loved most about elementary school, a close runner-up to reading everything I could get my hands on and making up long and involved (very loosely based on reality) stories of my own.  I remember the day our teacher gave us big blank pieces of art paper and told us to paint a picture which illustrated the answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

In my short little life so far I had been asked that question about a billion times and was really sick of the people pleasing answers I felt compelled to come up with in response to it.  I usually said whatever I thought was most likely to get the adult harassing me to smile and nod and then go away and pick on somebody else.  It was my experience that grown ups really didn’t care what you wanted to be when you grew up, it was just a thing they asked kids when they couldn’t think of anything else to say.

This art assignment was less structured than normal, almost like being asked to paint whatever popped into our heads. So here’s what popped into mine.

I painted a stage across the bottom and a beautiful sparkly gossamer curtain across the back with lines and lines of flowing folds.  On the stage stood a beautiful blonde woman in a gorgeous white evening gown which looked like a wedding dress without the veil.  So I added a couple of gigantic red roses and a bow for clarification.  In her hands she held a microphone attached to a long black cord that coiled off to one side and out of the picture.  This was back in the day when microphones could be taken off their stands allowing performers to walk around trying not to get tangled up in a bunch of wires.  The lady’s eyes were closed and her mouth was a big round red O taking up half her face. There were musical notes floating around above her head.   It was a beautiful picture and I was incredibly proud of it.  Because that was going to me – drop dead gorgeous, blonde, dressed to kill and singing my heart out on the Ed Sullivan Show.

So how did that work out for me?  Actually, not well.  I can’t sing.  I don’t look so great with blond hair – tried it once and didn’t have any more fun than I’d had as a brunette.  Never in my life have I owned or felt the urge to purchase such elaborate formal wear. Or one of those big poufy wedding dresses either. Red lipstick makes me look weird.  I have never used a microphone or done anything on a stage where I was the center of attention unless you count being handed a diploma. And Ed Sullivan died before I could be discovered.  If he was alive today he’d still be waiting.

Today I work in the medical field and wear a lab coat at work every day.  Hey – it’s white!  So that part of my vision of the future was bang on.  The rest, not so much. Even as the picture took form all those years ago I’m sure I knew it was just a silly dream and simply an excuse to paint a beautiful lady in a stunning dress.

I try to make a point of never, ever, asking a young child what they want to do with their lives.  How can they possibly know?  What a kid does know is what’s fun, what makes them laugh the hardest, what games they like to play, which books are the best to read.  They’ve got years and years to live and so many things to experience and even then their life work decisions may never be carved in stone.

Now I’d answer the question by saying simply that I just want to be happy.  There’s time enough to discover all the ways there are to make that happen.

Look Mom – I Did it Myself!

These are the words that make a mother deliriously proud.  Or cause her to weep uncontrollably, depending on the situation.  Either of these reactions have also been known to follow all do it yourself projects performed by me in the privacy of my own home.  Friends and family will see and be prompted to praise the results of the successes, and the failures will die with me, along with other various missteps, fiascos and sordid secrets.

Prompts for the Promptless:  Do it yourself (DIY) is the method of building, modifying, or repairing something without the aid of experts or professionals.

What do we need experts and professionals for when we’ve got Google?  said a lot of clueless people who went on to learn that experts and professionals are not completely without merit after all.

For my do-it-yourself project today, I will be making a sun catcher.  I don’t really need or want one, but I have plastic beads hanging around which no grandchild seems at all gung-ho to string.  And I don’t want to throw them out and be all wasteful.  Better to throw out the finished product and feel good about myself for having at least given it a try.  Or file it under F for fiasco.  It’s kind of exciting to have no idea how something will turn out.

I am using an old pie tin that I will not miss if this whole thing turns out badly.

I am using an old pie tin that I will not miss if this whole thing turns out badly.

I am also using one of the good pie plates because I have way more stupid beads than I thought.

I am also using one of the good pie plates because I have way more stupid beads than I thought.

Notice the artistic arrangement in both cases with some opaque beads in one and only clear green, blue and purple in the other.  This is about as artistic as I feel like getting today.

While waiting for the oven to heat to 400 degrees, on the other side of the kitchen counter I ponder what to do with these three avocados I bought because they are supposedly so good for me.  The creative, multi-tasking side of my brain thinks putting them in a smoothie might be interesting, while the other side of my brain reminds me that I haven’t yet had breakfast.  Voila!  Coconut almond milk, a banana, scooped out avocado, key lime greek yogurt (which I bought accidentally thinking it was vanilla) and a bag of frozen spinach and kale results in this delightful looking concoction.

Before blending.

Before blending.

After blending.

After blending fuzzy close up. Do it yourself photography is a topic for another time.

The consistency and color are great, but the taste is rather disappointing.  In fact, there is no taste.  So I add a squirt of lemon juice, a shake of cinnamon and a couple scoops of frozen blueberries.  This makes the smoothie look like mud, but a lot easier to swallow.

suncatchers 005

Starbucks is in no way responsible for this goop in their glass.

I can’t say for sure whether the aroma of melting plastic is adding or detracting from the avocado smoothie taste experience.

The melting process is supposed to take twenty minutes, but I’d suggest forty is more realistic.  This number comes from my admittedly limited experience – please note that I am not a professional or expert melter of beads.

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Sun catchers fresh from the oven. Wow, look how clean my stove top is!

The next thing to do is let these things cool, slip them out of the plates (ha – I’m not optimistic about that one), drill holes in them and hang them up with something like fishing line to catch the rays of the sun.  It’s cloudy today, so I’m not optimistic about that one either.  I notice the one on the left already has a hole close to one edge, so how forward thinking was that?  Flukey forward thinking is probably an apt name for it in this case.

Oh. My. God.  They really do pop right out of the pans.  And there is a little hole in the second sun catcher as well, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no luck like dumb luck.

Now I will pretend that I was never skeptical, and expected nothing less than these amazing results.  Because that's what true DIY people excel at.

Now I will pretend that I was never skeptical, and expected nothing less than these amazing results. Because that’s where real DIY people truly excel.

Okay, all that’s left of this Sunday project (which didn’t turn out to be from hell after all), is to air out that burnt plastic smell from my house and wish for some sparkly sunshine.  Plus think up some totally awesome weird thing to do with the two remaining avocados.  That should not be a problem as I appear to be on a roll.

May Post For Peace

We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun. 

- John Lennon

Patrice Torrillo fineartamerica.com

Patrice Torrillo fineartamerica.com

Sun/Moon Art is fascinating.  Second only to my love of all things African, these delightful works of art fill me with comfort and serenity – peaceful easy feelings.  My African art does this too, but I have no idea how to describe to someone else how carvings of elephants and giraffes, paintings of beautiful black women dancing, and crazy scary tribal masks can inspire peace and joy.  For me they just do.

It will be difficult explaining the sun/moon/stars thing too. But I’ll try.  When someone is miles away, it’s nice to know we are still under the same sky, gazing at the same small glimpse of heaven.  The sun and the moon and the stars belong to everybody. Or to no one at all.  We may be quite different, but we are each tiny parts making up this vast universe.  We all shine.

Maybe we look at the sun, moon and stars with a longing to return from whence we came.  Or it’s simply the yin/yang day/night balance that is pleasing, or the beautiful colors or the symmetry that draw us in.

Explaining art is like trying to work out exactly why a joke is funny.  Some things are inexplicable and best just happily embraced for whatever emotions they may uncover.  I wish you peace, how ever you may find it.

sun moon role reverse hozukidono.deviantart.com

sun moon role reverse hozukidono.deviantart.com

sun and moon by jessica kauffman

sun and moon by jessica kauffman

wall hanging sun moon copper at giftsofart.com

wall hanging sun moon copper at giftsofart.com

moon-sun mikedubois.net

moon-sun mikedubois.net

sun moon god goddess found on tumblr.com

sun moon god goddess found on tumblr.com

 

“Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: – you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.”  –  E.E. Cummings

bloggers for peace

Monthly Peace Challenge for May: Art Thou Peaceful?

Wabi-sabi Rainbow

Wabi-sabi is the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is the beauty of things unconventional and modest.  It’s not just a style of art, it’s a world view.

“Wabi-sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, modest, natural, and mysterious. It can be a little dark, but it is also warm and comfortable. It may be best understood as a feeling, rather than as an idea.” – Mark Reibstein and Ed Young

Thanks Rarasaur for this excellent prompt for the promptless.

Imperfect, impermanent and incomplete describes so many things in my life, I found myself wandering around pointing them out to myself for such a long time that it got a bit ridiculous.  At last I have come to the conclusion that wabi-sabi is just an over all general description for everything we hold personally dear.  Might as well find and appreciate the beauty in our imperfect lives,  because imperfection is all any of us is likely ever going to get.   I suppose my cluttered mess of a house is a reflection of my scattered life, because it’s full of things I love, not for their perfection or their value (as potentially lucrative yard sale items)  but for the way they make me feel whenever I look at them.

omayjas rainbow 001

My granddaughter Omayja (pronounced by combining the meditation mantra Oohhmmm with the continent Asia) sat down at my kitchen table a few months ago and drew me a rainbow.  It has been on my fridge ever since.  It isn’t perfect as far as rainbow shapes and colors normally go, but to me it is a beautiful work of art.  Normally I clear my fridge of all the coloring and pictures after a couple of weeks of opening and closing the door and having various pieces fly off in the breeze and flutter to the floor.  That way there’s a clean slate for the next creative frenzie.

But this particular piece has survived a number of clean sweeps.  I can’t seem to take it down.  It gives me the most peaceful happy feeling whenever I look at it.  And now it has a name, as every great work of art should.  Omayjas Wabi-sabi Rainbow.

The next time she’s here I’ll ask her to sign it, and then I’m going to frame it and hang it up somewhere in the place of some perfectly aesthetically beautiful framed thing that pleases the eye but means nothing to my soul and has never touched my heart.