Thursday, May 28, 2009

Knuckle Update

It's been a long time since I posted an update about my mother, The Irish Knuckle. At 92, she's still with us but, as I heard today, probably not for much longer.

When David died, we wondered what the effect would be on her, but she seemed to manage quite well. But at 90 (then) it's really just a matter of time and placing bets on which habit, good or bad, is going to get you. Her independence and excellent health allowed her to stay in her house until Christmas of 2007 when a half fall/half slide to the floor put the X on her head. She's always had a weakness in one knee and a tendency to self medicate with over-the-counter drugs. Two not working? Take four. That fall, which put her on the floor for two days, sent her to the hospital and rehab. (documented here)

Placing your parent in a safe retirement home makes everyone feel much better but I have to admit that without the house and yard to sweep and the pretense of independence to maintain, the Knuckle reverted to an understandable laziness. She refused to use the gym at The Oaks or push herself and suffered a steady diminishment in muscle tone and mental wherewithal. Though she was still pretty feisty, ungrateful to my sister-in-law and firmly attached to the notion that her strength and her handwriting would magically return with no effort on her part.

About two weeks ago, the knee let her down. Probably as she was dressing for bed and she wasn't discovered until the morning. That's a vast improvement on two days but there's no coming back from a night on the floor. Possibly, she suffered a mini-stroke. In the rehab, she fell again, trying to use the bathroom without an attendant's help. 

My sister and brother-in-law drove down, bullied her into eating and participating in physical therapy, but she's tired and apparently down for the count. J. told me this today as she and S. drove home, certain they have seen her alive for the last time.

I'll be driving down this weekend if I can wait that long. J. thinks she'll time herself to June 6, the day our father died. But there's no telling with the Irish. The Knuckle has always wanted others to make her decisions for her. But I don't think I can tell her what to do this time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Off the Grid: 10 Things About Being at a Crossroad

I don’t remember where I heard the phrase “at a crossroad” used this week but when I did, I felt a hit of accuracy.

  1.  I wish my book art skills were better.
  2. I wish I wrote with more passion.
  3. I wish I had a consistent mind.
  4. I wish I could focus on the work I’ve been given.
  5. I stand at the crossroad and forget to breathe.
  6. I talk to people and forget what they tell me.
  7. I ride a momentary high and tuck its souvenir in a library book.
  8. It may do someone else a lot of good but here am I
  9. Sending smoke signals from a new-mown butter circle
  10. At the crossroad

Someone, a fairly devious rescue artist and former acquaintance once asked, “Don’t you ever just “be”?”  My inner Portia DeMarco raised a face and said, “What the fuck are you talking about?” He didn’t hear her.

At the crossroad, with its blessed lack of a Starbucks or a bar, I  just be. It can be oddly confining. Just being.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Life Off the Grid - Busy Week

I hope it's a busy week. This is Monday and I've placed all the introductory, request for interview emails out to the executives I've been hired to interview. These aren't search and seizure interviews of the sort I did in thankfully long-gone reporter days, but thoughtful follow ups for a new client who sounds fairly perfect. I've also made requisite set up for other interview, a profile for a previous employer. That's all set for tomorrow. So now what? 

Is my time any more my own now than it was a 
month ago? All the business owners I've ever met, including the very kind ones who took time last week and the week before to chat with me and, in one case, throw me a bone to test my catching skills, work a good 60 hours a week. I haven't started tracking where those hours are but at a guess I'd say a couple are at the beginning of the day when you turn on the computer en route to the kitchen and another couple at the end when, because there's no commute, you just keep on answering emails or trolling the Internet. I suppose when there's actual work to be done on the jobs you took the time to get, you can do that. Then, because TV and even the Netflix choices are paling (palling?), there's that time. Then, I guess they work one weekend day.

By Friday aftern
oon last week, I'd had it. Over-dosed and needed a trip to Trader Joes and some time in the midday sun that didn't include the parking lot in front of Staples. (cuz I've been updating the tech around here.)

Yesterday, I started to do some prep work but couldn't keep my eyes open so took a nap. Fortunately, because I really wanted a 'normal' (i.e., free) Sunday, an old friend called with a lot of catch up on.

I've had one job interview that piqued my interest but the red flags were flashing like the arm bands on a thousand Chinese solders. Anyway, I'm kind of excited. Surely, if the universe didn't want me to work for myself, I wouldn't have enough work in the pipeline to go another month...or two.

The rule for this week is to finish what I've started. In another hour that will mean telephoning the people I emailed this morning, but right now it means finishing the sewing on "How to Distinguish Scents" so that all six editions are complete and then making a start on some fun books I want to make using recycled covers of old Nancy Drew books. Who wouldn't want a Coptic-bound blank book with a bright and familiar flash of the past as a cover? I found a slightly battered roll of heavyweight drawing paper at Pearl's yesterday and snagged it at a great discount. This will enable me to cut paper to the right size for the recycled covers without wasting perfectly good 81/5 by 11 inch writing paper.  And it's nice, too. I drew on sample below with some color pencils (Blick's brand) and it felt great.

See me on Etsy soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Life Off the Grid - Week ???

Top Ten Most Curious Things About Being "Un-employed"

10. I'm busy all the time.
9.   Saturdays feel just as good as they ever have.
8.   Now that I have time to sit with my bagel at Belly, I still get it to go.
7.   I'm mistaken for retired.
6.   The facial twitch has faded considerably.
5.   I'm so excited about self-employment, I rolled through a job interview without getting fake smile headache.
4.   And when the hiring person asked me if I was still interested in the job, I said, "More than I thought I'd be."
3.   Willingness to figure out Skype for Mac
2.   Spent afternoon "helping" J. photography my artist books AND IT FELT LIKE REAL WORK.
1. But it didn't feel like a job.

I'm so happy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sticking with Eden - What the Garden Has to Say

On a cloudy day, the garden is all about color. What was brown is now a slick mercurial black; what was white shines like a full moon and what was coming in green is an eyeful of jewels. Nothing sates the l
over of green more than a rainy day in spring. Blue skies and hot suns may please the eye and warm the skin but they distract from the green, the emerald, the grass and leaf and wet wet weeds. 

Early in the season, as we still are despite those few weeks of warm temps, my friends, L&S, have an abundance of winter greens in the form of crinoline-stiff kale. So much, in fact, that I'm not sure they know what to do with it all. I cruised the Web and found that kale, which is so full of vitamins  you can taste them going down, is a staple in many Italian and other Mediterranean soups, coconut-based soups. It's also good with goat cheese. DP (pictured) sauted a mess of the stuff in garlic, butter and oil for a bite of vitamins and iron more virtuous than pleasing (though they were very good while hot). Here's my favorite recipe, though: Kale Chips.  Baking kale leaves in oil and salt would go a long way toward
 offloading, I mean, sharing, such an abundance. 

We picked very ready spinich, lettuce and an assortment of salad greens L. called 'mescalin' but I don't think that's quite it. It's a delicious mix of soft, crunchy, tangy, bitter and sweet greens. And just look at all the shades of green.

We would not be human, I think, if we hadn't wondered how the carrots and beets were doing and egged L. on to pull up a few, oh at least one, to see how much longer it would be. And so she did pull one carrot head but shook her own head in some disappointment though without surprise. Not yet, not even a stub. But they'll come and they'll feed the family and the horses (though why I separate the two, I don't know.)

On Sunday there was no respite from the rain longer than five minutes so we sat on the porch and watched the fog lurk. I tried to paint the green wall of mountains in the distance and had a great time trying but even for this Irish girl, there were too many to count. Green in spring is like love in youth. The shades and potential for shades are infinite and beyond measure. Best just to  let it have its benign way. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Off the Grid - Week Two Top Ten Goals

After taking a couple of skills, satisfaction and entrepreneurial assessment tests that might have been better crafted as Cosmo quizzes, it appears I have the ambitions and aptitudes of a 19th century civil servant. That can't be right. I'm deeply customer service-oriented and creative in my approach to problem solving.
And anyway, don't most people want to work in supportive environments where the occasional pesky mood swing won't matter much one way or the other? 

In an effort to see the glass as half full (and doesn't that really depend on what's in the glass and when the bar is closing?), I've switched this series (sadly not fictional, though thanks, Chickory, for thinking I worked as an apartment manager) from the victimized "Life as a Statistic" to one of my goals "Life off the grid." Though how I'm going to grow much more than kale in my sunny high-rise, I don't know. Maybe one small hen???

Top Ten Goals for Week Two
10. Send out four resumes/contact emails a day
9. Register for unemployment. Bring all materials
8. Reduce tension-related swelling in face
7. Finish artist books for Denver gallery's call for artist books
6. Use "differentiator" in a sentence without heaving
5. Finish reading novel draft
4. Attend Blog Optimization webinar
3. Start posting other novel
2. Get back to fundraising for 3Day
1. Complete at least two online applications to places I'd really like to work