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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Go with the flow

Life, if not always flowing in my favour, has at least been interesting.

Stewart Hall rejected both my submissions this year. It was a very tough competition this year with, at best, a 25% chance of acceptance. The general antipathy curators and judges have for small art doesn’t work in my favour, but I could repair that by working big. Not that, that will happen but I can’t fault them for liking what they like and my refusing to produce it. That’s on me.

Last week I received a nice note from Eyewear Publishing that a poem I submitted – The Moose and the Coyote – had been short listed for their fortnightly poetry prize. It was a nice bit of luck, made my day really and I wasn’t at all disappointed a few days later to find out someone else had won. The winning poem was quite good (8th Fortnightly Poetry Prize).

One of the things which I’ve come to accept, albeit reluctantly, is that I’m not particularly bright, or talented, but do manage to attract some attention by banging on well after others my age have given up. I may make a success of out of obtuse stubbornness if I can’t have one out of a gift or talent. With that in mind I entered the fortnightly poetry prize again to see how it goes. The likelihood of winning is no greater than before, but it’s better to participate and lose than not to participate at all. At least my name appeared on the last short list which might put me on some editor’s radar with a vague name recognition of some sort in the future. There must be some value in that.

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Parsimony and prospects

Enforced parsimony is exhausting in so many ways. Concern about money drives action and inaction equally. This weekend I scheduled a Sunday off because I thought with a pay coming in on the Thursday that there’d be a little something I could use to actually enjoy a day off. Yes a day off can be enjoyed without spending money, but let’s face it spending money makes it more fun. Extravagances like driving somewhere and maybe having lunch in a diner somewhere while spending the day sketching. That doesn’t look like it will be happening. The funny thing about bills, they’re like season, they just keep coming. Nothing much you can do about that. Currently I’m trying to sort out how winter tires are going to be paid for. It has to be soon, but I think I might have to push it to the end of the month in order to swing it. There are times when a credit card is a good thing.

On the artistic front the Stewart Hall show rolled around again. This year submissions were limited to two and there is only the possibility of one piece being chosen. With that in mind I chose what I thought would be two good representatives of my work post-Depanneur series.

Under Highway 20 with Starchild Stela

Blueberries poem

I’ll know by the end of the week whether the jury thinks either piece is worth inclusion this year. I’ve been thinking of doing more of the poems on watercolour as a project, just trying to figure out the best way to approach it.

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In praise of beta readers

Concrete Memories is almost finished. Started in 2015 the eighteen thousand word “short story” recently came back from Alan the first male beta reader. The story is now in its thirteenth draft and much stronger than when it arrived in his hands. That has been the case since the start of the story as it moved through various hands starting with Donna’s. Being all but finished at this point with one more professional edit in the offing seemed to have freed up something. I haven’t started a new story while working on this one, though the poetry has been flowing fast and free, but this week I started a new story. Not only started it, but the first draft is almost finished which is lightening quick for me as I find writing a difficult process. Of course then it has to go to Donna and a variety of other readers to knock off the rough bits and rein in my seventy word sentences. Donna once asked “Don’t you ever breath when you read?” I’m glad there was another story though, I don’t often have an idea for one that will last longer than ten lines for a poem. Stories are good to write even if they don’t get read all that much.

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A day ending in Y

A friend and I were talking recently and he asked when my next day off was. I confessed that it would be October 9th, Thanksgiving, but in reality not really much of a day off since the family comes over and as I am the only driver I have to pick up and later drop off everyone. That of course in addition to the regular prep everyone is familiar with when having guests over for a meal. As a special bonus this year our daughter will be returning from a short jaunt to visit friends and I will have to gather her at the airport sometime between when her plane lands and when lunch is served. I joked: if the day ends in a Y I’m working, thirteen days off in the last fifteen months.

My friend said something I’d heard before but never had a response for: I don’t know how you do it.

This time I had a response – it just sprang to mind: you wouldn’t ask someone in the middle of the ocean how it is they can keep on swimming.

It’s that simple. If I stop an already niggardly life would be sliced even thinner. Reductio ad absurdum in an economic sense. I’m still trying to recover from April’s day from hell. Our son still isn’t working. Our daughter is working and demands nothing which is a relief on many front but does still use the credit card for regular school related expenses like a bus pass at $85 a month. The van, which just came out of the shop leaving me $500.00 poorer than when it went in needs new winter tires this month so….if the day ends in Y I’ll be working.

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