Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday.

I hate the holidays. And all through my life this time of year seems to conspire to prove my dislike is correctly placed. They did it again and we are only at the beginning of the season. There is a whole other month to be gotten through.

As a kid I could never quite understand why everyone was trying so very hard to be jolly after you had heard your mother crying half the night. And underneath all the happy was all this tension. Everyone tiptoeing around to avoid a fight when being forced to see people they ordinarily didn't see, and be nice to people they were badmouthing just the week before they got the letter Aunt Louise was expecting everyone for Thanksgiving dinner.

The adults always drunk too much, you had to be nice to your obnoxious cousins, let your aunts with too much make up kiss you, put up with cousin Bruce of the roaming hands, dress in uncomfortable clothes, be grateful for gifts you thought you had long outgrown, worry that you were using proper etiquette at the table and thanked everyone you needed to thank.

And adulthood just makes it all worse. You spend money you shouldn't spend and don't even have, toil all day cooking food you would not ordinarily eat and which will vanish in twenty minutes, tap dance around subjects that come up for demolition year after year, dress up and go places when you want to curl up with a good book and ignore the world. And once again find yourself apologizing for something you said at 3 in the morning when ordinarily you would have been asleep.

And I always end up apologizing for something. Nobody every apologizes to me. It is always me that is expected to say I am sorry even when I am not sure what I did wrong. Well, here it is everyone: the blanket apology. I hate the holidays! I hate them so much. I hated them before Mom died on Thanksgiving Day and I had the ski accident that changed my entire world on Christmas Eve. And I especially hate that I have to pretend I like them. So I AM SORRY for anything I do wrong between now and the middle of January.

All that said I have a refrigerator full of food bought with the money I needed to pay the auto insurance in 12 days. I am up at an absurd time worrying about my sister that left here unable to breathe because of an illness she had not mentioned. And to make matters worse she was angry at me because of something I said about the dogs. (I am NOT responsible for what I say at 3 a.m. It is one of the reasons I stopped going to bars. Some part of my rational brain does not work at that hour. When is everyone going to get that?) And in four hours I have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed and smile at everyone for two days at a Holiday Market. This is real important because I need to earn back the auto insurance money I spent. And tonight I have to attend a reception at the gallery that represents my work.

What I really want to do is jump in bed, assume the prenatal position, and sleep till February. Stress is when you have to say one thing while your mind is screaming another. No wonder the suicide rate is so high this time of year. I am sorry but I wish the grinch had succeeded in stealing Christmas. And I think Black Friday is a perfect name for the day after Thanksgiving but not for any of the reasons the merchants think.

PS: I will be thankful when this is all over. And if I haven't been around to read and comment on your happy holidays or I am thankful post I apologize for that too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Morning Chat Over Coffee - Guests Coming

Thanksgiving is this week in case you have not noticed or you live in a country other than the United States. I usually glide past this holiday madly preparing for the Holiday Market this weekend. But last year my sister and I with her husband and the jeep started a new Thanksgiving tradition - the slaughter of helpless conifers.

Our national forests sell tree hunting permits about this time every year. I am going over to pick up ours today at the Carson National Forest headquarters.  They are $5 to $15 a tree depending on how big you think you want and can tote back. Debbie and Alan are coming up Thanksgiving day for the the second annual evergreen sacrifice. Hey, it isn't as ungreen as it sounds. It helps thin the forests and lessen the fuel load for fires in the summer months. And it increases areas where grass can grow and elks can graze. Most that partake in this bounty are forest lovers. A lot of thought not only goes into selecting the trees but selecting them where they won't be missed and in fact benefit other trees around them. When forests get to think the trees get sick.

Dianne, my good friend of decades, is also coming up for the extended weekend. She is arriving on Wednesday to help me set up for the fair. And knowing Dianne, clean up for Alan and Debbie. So nice I have not rented the apartment and have it furnished with beds and chairs. It is my guest house at the moment. I will open the connecting doors so all can come and go.

But things remain to be done like clearing off the library table where Debbie sets her laptop while here. And my studio desk where Alan locates his laptop. And there is the kitchen table that serves as a laundry folding area. The folded laundry needs to move as this is the gaming area. Once all the art I am taking to the fair is out of the studio I am setting up a folding table there for the big meals.

I have the fair on Friday and Saturday and so we will likely do the search for the perfect trees on Thanksgiving afternoon while the bird roasts if it ever thaws. Does that 3-4 days in your refrigerator thing work for you? Wednesday it goes on the kitchen counter! Friday evening my tree will be decorated by all. It will be so much fun to get out the boxes of ornaments I lovingly stored last year. And I remember where this year!

What are your plans for this week?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hopeful Dawn

Some of my more faithful followers from the Y!360 days know that I have been battling with the contractor that built my studio in part. That struggle has been going on for over two years now. This last week it consumed two of my days because of the necessity to depose one of my witnesses. The good news is that deposition went very well and my attorneys now feel hopeful I will not lose my house. I was asked to give them an idea of my dream settlement.

First thought: Give me a release of lien and get the hell out of my life.

But it got me thinking about all the hell he has put me through. And that led to a review of my life. Eight years ago this Christmas Eve I got the bad end of a ski accident. I suffered three compressed cervical disks and a closed brain trauma. I struggled with the recovery from that for two and a half years and could never get a cent out of the reckless young man that slammed into me. I crashed my mask making business. But I began to paint.

Being unable to work, losing the business income, led to excessive use of credit while I fought for two years to get Social Security disability. The good news is with the help of a wonderful SS Advocate I won that battle. That is when I came up with the plan to build my studio so I could paint, and teach and sell without leaving home. Enter the contractor from hell.

The good news is I have my lovely studio even though I had to finish it myself as those that follow my blogs know. The bad news is the contractor has been trying to foreclose on my house and have it sold to pay his unsubstantiated claims. And to add spice to life there was the stalker from my past.

I was reading the blog of a friend this morning as she talked about her struggles to get free of an abusive husband. It puts you life on hold. You cannot make plans, cannot commit to a new future, cannot feel safe and secure even within your domicile. Legal issues against irrational people can rob you of joy. So what would be the dream settlement for such a crime?

There used to be this cartoon feature in the Sunday paper when I was a kid: Halto's History. He would design his own comic hell for various offenders of his sensibilities. There should be a special place to send those that rob other people of their joy and freedom. Unfortunately all we have is an overburdened and sadly inadequate court system. Even if I win my counter suit against this animal the chances I will collect are slim to none.

But it looks like maybe at last I can at last get him out of my life and move on. But I have seen too many Friday the 13th movies to believe in the death of monsters.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Chat Over Coffee

I spend a lot of time on Facebook these days but you really cannot sum you life up in small status snippets all the time. Once a blogger always a blogger I suppose, so pour a cup of coffee and let's chat.

Last week was a busy one, and I wish I could say I got everything done I wanted to get done. But I did get four new paintings completed (two still need to be framed) making currently a total of eight new ones for the holiday market a week from this Friday. To check them out go to Creative Journey. One of my other blogs.

I also attended a cooking class at the Taos School of Cooking on how to cook winter squash. That was Thursday and on Saturday I tried out my new skills with a lovely squash based vegetable soup. Yummy. Monday was back to the spa with a friend and trying to get back into the routine of hard exercise. Tuesday a yoga class. Okay, I didn't get a lot of painting done because I was out playing around too much, but the weekend brought snow which was not as much as forecast but it kept me inside my studio.

I wanted to put nose to the grindstone this week but the lawsuit from the contractor-from-hell is preventing that. Today I must go into the Legal Aid office and help them prepare one of my witnesses for his deposition on Tuesday. And Tuesday I have to hang around there to be available should questions arise during the deposition. November 4th was two years since he had filed the lien on my property. Why cannot he just go away?

On the plus side I have been doing some monitoring of temperatures in my studio and house during this cold streak (currently 12 F) with not much sunshine in three days. The wood stove seems to keep everything quite cozy. And the house holds a good temperature even without the fire going. The hit and miss passive solar yesterday kept the studio a workable temperature even without a fire going. My goal is to use as little supplimental electric heat as possible this winter.

Saving kilowatts makes sense not merely in the pocket book (the electric coop bills last winter were awful) but it is the green thing to do. Due to the snows I did have to use my electric dryer on Saturday. Tried to catch a sunny window between storms and got caught. But once in four months is not bad.

What are you doing to save money this winter? And to be more green?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where did time go?

Alice went through the looking glass or down the hole following the White Rabbit and met all manner of creatures which wasted her time. She was suppose to be studying as her tutor directed. And I was suppose to be painting more paintings for the Holiday Market, and taking advantage of the wonderful weather to finish my fall chores before winter settles in.

But I followed the White Rabbit down the hole in time and discovered all sorts of diversions upon which to "waste my time." Mother would have said, "You need to focus." My teachers always had that little note on my report cards, "Does not use time wisely." Or "fails to pay attention in class." But I am a self-starter. I just sometimes start on the wrong things at the wrong time. I run with scissors.

I can look back at the last several days and remand myself for not applying my energies correctly. But I can also see that I really needed to run, skip and play. And there is one more day of play ahead of me - tomorrow's cooking class with friends in Taos. But it is also just two weeks before I set up for the Holiday Market and paintings are not done let alone framed. And Friday we are scheduled for a mix of rain and snow. Time to attend to the matters at hand and put my nose to the grindstone. Fortunately, I am good at playing catch up. I had to be since I always lagged behind studying rocks as others hiked ahead.

So do you pick a steady pace, keep to schedule, moderate your activities? Or do you like Alice follow a rabbit down a hole in time to find you are all so late?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My WOW! List

I like to read my horoscope as sort of an exercise. I am not all that sure I believe in horoscopes. I really only pay attention if they are predictions of doom or cautionary advise. The doom predictions usually get me to stay home but I would not cancel a cruise. Cautionary advise is always good. I absolutely do not believe I am meeting Mr. Right at the grocery store today or any day. But I take seriously Mercury in Retrograde.

My horoscope for today said:

The positive cosmic energy is flowing your way at a rate that would be alarming if it weren't so good. You'll encounter great opportunities to turn big ideas and beautiful dreams into reality, so make a list of what you want this season to bring.

I posted this in Facebook and one of my long time blogging friends said: Wow! So I immediately began work on my WOW! List. Because I do believe in WOW! lists. I have made them or decades and sooner or later, in one fashion or another the things on my lists are achieved. The studio was on my WOW! list from a dozen years ago.

I have lately fallen out of the habit of making lists of anything other than what I have to accomplish. And doing this list today kept me from doing a couple things on today's list of todo's. But I am feeling jazzed about my list. I wrote it down in my journal and will refine it over the next few days.

Do you have a WOW! list? Thinks that would just put you at the top of the world if they happened? I think we all should. Write what you want down. And hold it close to your heart.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This is About Avatars

Those that knew me from my Y!360 days will recognize Charley, my first serious avatar. We changed avatars a lot in those early blogging days so I had a whole folder for avatars in My Pictures on my computer. I was reminded of this recently on Facebook as Halloween approached. On Y!360 we had a holiday appropriate avatar so I changed to my witchy photo for a couple weeks.

Boy, that was a weird experience. Remember how you felt in high school when you wore something totally out of style per your peers. Made it even worse when you happened to really love that blouse. That is how I felt with my holiday appropriate avatar on all to serious-about-avatars Facebook. Everyone uses their real face! How dumb (and oh, so boring) is that? I still have not adjusted to using my real name there. Though to be totally honest I am far from anonymous on the Internet. The first time I Googled my name I scared myself to death.

Anyway I have a Turkey all picked out for Thanksgiving, like it or not Facebook. Meanwhile, I decided maybe it was time to do something about having a decent face shot to use. One without a ski cap and a dog. Everytime I win a prize for paintings I am asked for a publicity shot. My sister takes marvelous photos but when she is up I seem to be in front of a camera standing waist deep in a mud puddle we just got the jeep out of.

So I decided today to mount the camera on its tripod and take some photos of myself. I won't be self conscious in front of me right? Anyway this requires the self timer mode on my Nikon D70. I have done it before but how seems to escape me every time I want to do it again. So I go hunting for the manual. Then I have to remember what it is called in the manual. I always think of it as shutter delay but that is a problem that needs solved not a mode you prefer to use.

So I finally got it all together and took almost 70 pictures. There might be one or two I can use after running them through Photoshop and using the artistic blur or something. So stay tuned to Facebook or any of my blogs to see the results in a day or two.

Frankly I really love Charley above or the masked lady I have on Profiles. Why do I have to get real?