Happy New Year – 2018

There was something not quite right about my numbers for the last year that kept nagging at me so I dug a little deeper and compared everything. Banks these days keep a good track of where and how money goes and make it all available online in your account. The upshot is that at the end of the year, when all is said and done and all the bills paid for 2017 in full (which they are) I lost 2900 dollars over the year. I know exactly how that happened and exactly what the money was spent on and in retrospect can see no way around it. Sometimes I think the Brothers Karamazov don’t know anything at all about juggling as compared to me. LOL. I have to hope that there are no surprises this year, there’s not much wiggle room left.

So today is the start of a new year. New Year new me? Nah. Never. Same ol’ same ol’. Resolutions? More like last year’s no committal stuff. Lose weight. Try to sell Donna’s Bear story – still trying, no takers (might self publish). Paint, draw, write poetry – try to sell some of everything. The past year has been a good one on the art front with multiple poems published, multiple paintings sold so more of the same is what I aim for. Not terrifically exciting as resolutions go, but I’m not a terrifically exciting person.

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Well it was close.

Alberta Barn – Holbein Watercolour, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook

There’s an old expression: don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Mea maxima culpa.

A few days before Xmas our son lost his phone. How does that impact me? Well if he has no phone he cannot arrange job interviews (this is a thing – they don’t even take resumes at offices anymore everything is electronic). Also he would have no phone when he went on his trip to NYC after Xmas – not a good thing these days. So Cha-Ching. Two hundred dollars gone. Moving me from the black column for the year into the red. But wait, wait, there’s more. It slices, dices and makes julienne fries.

My kids keep score. So two hundred dollar phone after receiving money to go to NYC versus our daughter who also got a new phone but no money. You guessed it. Two hundred cash to our daughter to bring her even Steven with her brother. Cha-Ching. A little deeper into the red for the year.

I almost made it.

On the upside I’m really proud of that barn sketch.

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Almost there.

The New Year is an arbitrary beginning, but useful really for the purposes of looking back and looking forward. The trick to looking back is to glance, like you do in the rear view mirror of a car. You can’t stare or you lose track of where you’re going.

We’re ending the year in a little worse shape financially than when we started – even with the huge repair bill for the van last January. We almost made it to the end of the year turning a slight profit, but it was not to be. A few days before Xmas our son visited the dentist and had three fillings done. Cha-ching. I have to wait to deposit the cheque from my second job later today to pay off the bill which will leave me about a hundred in the bank to finish the year, but with zero debt other than the mortgage. It will make for a tight next two weeks, but doable.

On the upside I’m still making art. Some lunchtime sketches over the last few days.

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More clay fun

I was pinching a small piece of clay and came up with the hairdo you see here and thought – hey that looks a little like an old time rocker hairdo. Over the next few hours the rest followed. Hollow body if you can believe it – just had to give it a try. Using Demco modeling clay which is very soft so he’s a little distorted but I think it works. Anyway he ended up funny and a little charming – at least to me.

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No rest for the wicked

I’ve realized what bothers me most about working seven on seven – no time to myself. I don’t get any alone time. There is always someone in the same space I am in. There is never a moment when I am not preparing to deal, in some capacity, with another person. All three hundred and sixty five days a year the best I can hope for is an hour, maybe, on the bike or on the hoof and even then I have to share the road (though there is sleep I suppose). My me time is at zero and has been for a year and a half. There was, for a brief instance, a flicker of hope when our son and daughter were thinking of spending Xmas in NYC. That plan got scrapped. Our son decided on New Year’s Eve and our daughter decided to stay home. Time to self still set to zero with no foreseeable change in the offing.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get to do some things I do enjoy like painting. Here are some recent sketches on Sennelier paper using Holbein watercolours.

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I think it’s kind of funny

I’m goin’ to rock this town Rockin’ it inside out

Look at me once

Look at me twice

Look at me again and there’s going to be a fight

Had a little fun with some modeling clay last night. This head took about two and a half hours. It’s funny though, like with painting, I really don’t notice time passing while I’m sculpting.

On the funny front our son came up with his Xmas wish list: he wants me to help offset the cost of a trip to NYC for Xmas with some friends. Then he got the bright idea that our daughter should go with him – which she liked. He said that he would help pay for her. I pointed out that in effect I would be paying for both of them under this model. I really need to get that third job. I finish work at 16:00 which means I could do a 17:00 – 23:00 shift at Tim Horton from Monday to Thursday. Something to look into.

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Xmas is coming

modeling clay head

Learning, learning, learning

Xmas is coming. This is most obvious due to the plethora of Cyber-Monday advertisements and the Black Friday advertisements on the web. Our daughter has only one Xmas wish this year which will set me back a little over $500.00 – a new phone. By new we are going to be going with an iPhone 6 two generations behind the current iPhone offering which is a $1500.00 phone. Our son got a new phone last year so this year it’s our daughters turn. He will get cash for Xmas this year because that’s all anyone at his age really wants unless he comes up with a list of some kind.

Still having fun with clay. I’m wondering if the clay use is going to have an impact on my drawing.

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Holiday schedule

A few modeling clay experiments

Having fun with modeling clay. I’m planning on using modeling clay to create and light things or scenes I want to draw. Models will allow me to light them the way I want and see how the shadows would cast. The irony is that I have to be a decent sculptor to accomplish this. Who knew I’d enjoy it so much.

Looks like the holiday schedule is in place now which guarantees that I will have a day off on December 25th so only another 32 days until my next day off. Then I get the 28th off which rounds out the year nicely with 16 days off over the last 18 months which is almost a day a month on average. With any luck I’ll make it through another year, or at least until March and drop in traces some time after that. Fingers crossed. I’m tired.

That’s all folks.

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November twenty seventeen

modeling clay head

Modeling clay head

The pressure on the financial front has not dwindled. It never does entirely but there’s a bit of an awkward crunch going on at the moment which makes for interesting planning. The time between last pay cheque and next pay cheque is only fourteen days. The awkward part is that I was already broke when my pay of the ninth came in. The mortgage, that unforgiving monthly payment, passes through the account on the twentieth and is just one hundred dollars shy of a full pay. Makes for exciting times.

One of the things which being poor teaches you is how to juggle and manage money in difficult circumstances. Banks and ministers of finance have nothing on poor parents.

Our son has decided that he is going to go to trade school to get an attestation in computer support and networking as a first step to getting into cybersecurity. I think it’s a good choice, but also recognize it as choosing a training that will lead to a job because it will lead to a job not because he has any particular interest in it. There’s nothing wrong with that. The majority of people in the world work in jobs that pay the bills not because they have any particular interest in the job. The funny thing is that no matter what the job is most people usually find something of interest in the job which gives them a sense of pride in what they do. Cybersecurity certainly has that going for it.

Our daughter on the other hand has dumped another English class based on the premise that she is changing programs and had more time to do English classes in the future. To me it would seem sensible to get the compulsory classes out of the way to begin with, but talking to either of our children is like talking to a gossamer winged sylph so I generally avoid offering advice.

On the art front just for the sake of it I’m giving sculpting a go. I like the feel of the clay in my hands. It’s kind of fun and reminds me that it was something I pursued briefly when I was in CEGEP. On the writing front a few new short stories have been finished and are going through final editing before being sent out. There’s also a novella competition in the offing which I think I will enter Concrete Memories into.

One of the new short stories called A May Day I plan to enter into the Fiddlehead short story competition this year as soon as it comes back from Donna. To qualify for the contest I had to edit the story down from 6550 words to 6000. I managed to drop it to 5996, but Donna’s going to read it for me to make sure I didn’t break something in the editing. It’s a fine story in my opinion and I can hope the editors at Fiddlehead will think the same thing.

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LOL, Broke

It was April since I was actually broke. I’m not flat broke, as in nothing in the bank, but damned close. There just never seems to be enough cash to go around. Sole support for three adults will do that I suppose. I had been thinking how it might be nice to have a few weekends off. LOL.

On the upside the van has its new winter tires, they’ve been installed, and I hired a snow clearing service for the winter because I am tired of shoveling snow. The few times my kids have helped shovel snow over the years vastly outnumber the times they’ve done anything else to help around the house, but it’s not help on which I can rely. So this winter a full part time job pay went towards snow clearing. C’est la vie.

Another upside, I don’t drink. This is an upside because months ago I planned for a night out with a friend from work. The last time I went out to do anything was in December of 2015 when I saw the then new Star Wars movie – I can’t remember the title, but Han Solo died. It’s is nice to actually get out of the house to be entertained by someone else – it’s great that I paid for the concert months ago. We’re bringing sandwiches to eat at Quartier des Spectacles and watch the zombie walk then we’re going to mosey on down to the venue and see the show. All I have to worry about is parking expense.

In a weird way there’s also an upside for waking up Sunday morning – you can’t do groceries if you don’t have any money so I don’t have to do groceries on Sunday. Fortunately there are cans of stuff in the cupboards and some frozen meat in the freezer. LOL.

Things will right themselves, they usually do. Either that or they won’t and then I’ll have a story to tell. Either way they will work out into something. I worry enough to plan the best I can, but planning the best you can’t doesn’t always cover all the worries. Good thing Xmas is coming!


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