Choosing a Career, Part 2

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Before I continue my story about choosing a career, I have to tell you that there’s a downside to clearing 17 boxes out of the garage. Pain. Intense, debilitating back pain. But I know the drill: Ibuprofen, ice, heat, repeat. Move as little and as slowly as possible. Then, in a day or two, back to normal life, but with a cleaner garage.

After I dropped out of art school, I returned to my home town and spent several months looking for the perfect job. I was mooching off No.4 Sis, with an occasional handout from Mom. My boyfriend took me to see Rocky. I was so inspired, I went back to see it two more times. With “The Eye of the Tiger” playing in my head, I applied for a waitress job and got it. The world’s second oldest profession was my new career. Farming being the oldest profession, of course.

The biggest drawback of being a full-time waitress (35 hours per week, so they didn’t have to offer benefits) was the food. As in, there’s food all around, but I can’t afford to eat. You see, we didn’t get free food just because we worked in a restaurant. We worked seven hours, got a 20 minute break, and could order a meal or a dessert at 10% off. Oh, did I say no benefits? That was it, our only benefit was 10% off a meal OR a dessert.

Dessert

Dessert

With tips, I made about $300 per month. My rent (I was no longer mooching off Sis) was over $200 per month. Waitressing did not afford me a luxurious lifestyle, but I didn’t expect it to. After all, that was Mom’s career after my parents’ divorce, and, well, let’s just say the trailer park was not my idea of a good neighborhood.

But I was so thin! Sure, I would sometimes black out when I stood up too fast, and I was dizzy a lot, and the blood bank rejected me because I was anemic, but I WAS SO THIN! So many compliments, so much male attention. Ah, those were the days.

I hated that job, but I hung in there for a year, until the whole area was flooded. My income source, my slightly discounted food source, had a river flowing through it, with a nasty undertow to boot.

The county set up assistance for displaced employees. I applied for unemployment, and was told it would be 50% of what I’d been making. Are you kidding? $150? I couldn’t live on that. The county worker just shrugged her shoulders. Not her problem.

Oh yeah, definitely time to look for a new career.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I was telling my nieces about this time period when I couldn’t afford to eat. I told them that’s all changed now, I can afford to eat whatever I want. I waggled my fat underarms at them and said, “That’s prosperity, baby!”. Have I mentioned that they call me “The Inappropriate Auntie”?

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We had a few weeks without rain, so I sacrificed for the good of all and got my car, Gypsy Blue, washed. It’s been raining ever since. You’re welcome , farmers. My potted flowers did not survive the mini-drought, as I only watered them 2 or 3 times. So sad. So neglectful. What can I say?

I had lunch with No.2 Sis on Saturday, and I offered to come to her house and put more photos in albums. She said no, she wanted to work on my garage. She’s crazy, but I’m willing to take advantage of that. We spent the hot, rainy afternoon going through boxes, filling the recycling bin, and cleaning up the painting area. I had put cardboard down before painting, but the garage floor is still colorful in spots. It adds character.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

We packed the large recycling wheelie bin full of broken down cardboard boxes. We estimated that at 6 bags. We threw away 3 bags of trash. And we packed Gypsy Blue’s back seat and trunk full of 8 bags and boxes for the Goodwill! I didn’t want to procrastinate the Goodwill trip, so we went as soon as we had swept the garage floor and called our work finished for the day. Unfortunately, the line at Goodwill was about 3 cars and 1 U-Haul truck deep, so I decided the donation could wait until Sunday.

We went back to my house, cleaned ourselves up a bit, and I treated No.2 Sis to dinner. I appreciate her help so much! When I’m working by myself, I can fill up a few bags and boxes, but it takes a sister to get me to 17 bags and boxes in one day!

Garage

Garage

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The hoses are coiled and contained, the pots are ready for next year. The stuff added to the bottom shelf has to go into the car. And the white cord on the middle shelf? I found the missing drill!!

On Sunday, I went back to the Goodwill and found no line at all. Yay! I got rid of the 8 bags and boxes. Then I went to the grocery store for a pot roast. I was rather shocked at the prices, so I got stew meat instead. It’s been in the crock for 4 hours. I tasted it. I wish I’d gotten the pot roast. Well, it’s edible, just not great. Pot roast or pork roast next weekend, damn the expense!

And guess where Gypsy Blue is right now. Parked in the garage!!!!

Stay tuned…

 

 

Choosing a Career, Part 1

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I suppose most of you were given testing to help you choose what career would be best for you. I was most intrigued with the interest test. This was a multiple choice test that consisted of questions like, “Which do you prefer, creamy peanut butter or chunky peanut butter?”. My results showed I’d be interested in being a musician, or a writer, or an artist, or a Merchant Marine officer. I would have thought the Merchant Marines would be a chunky peanut butter crowd, and I’m creamy, all the way. Oh, well.

I enrolled in art school. My Dad helped me move from my smallish town to the big city of Minneapolis. He helped me carry borrowed furniture to the third floor of the condemned building in which I’d found lodging. Before he left me there, he gave me this advice, “The alley entrance probably isn’t safe at night. Use the front stairway, in the first floor porn shop”. Ah, a father’s protective instincts. So heart-warming.

I lasted there about two weeks before my uncle visited, took one look around, and said, “Start packing. I’ll be back in 20 minutes with a truck”. I lived with him, my aunt and my cousins the rest of the semester, but the damage had already been done. I’d met too many unsavory characters, and felt threatened too often. I still had to hike through bad neighborhoods to get to school, while loaded down with art and supplies. Kind of hard to run or hide when you’re an art mule. I wanted to go home, so I dropped out of art school at winter break.

Here’s an unfinished painting from my brief sojourn in art school. I call it “Still Life With Hats” or “Making Me a Target in the Hood”.

Making Me a Target...

Still Life With Hats

Stay tuned…

p.s. I posted this on chiconashoestringdecorating

 

 

Practice Makes Perfect

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My work friend, “M”, told me she practices the violin two hours every night. Two. Hours. If I had been putting two hours every night into cleaning the house, it’d be spotless by now. If I’d have done my herbal studies two hours every night, I would be a certified herbalist! If I’d have drawn for two hours, EVERY NIGHT, I’d have built upon my modest talent and might have work in a gallery!!! But I want to do it all, plus exercise, cook, read, write….. So how about 5 minutes of each every night? Oh, that’s kind of what I have been doing. That focus thing, it’s a toughie.

I figure if I can’t spend two hours cleaning, at least I can tackle the most pressing problem at home. That would be the clogged sink in the Queen bathroom.

clogged sink

Sink, before.

That’s a picture of the sink with the plug fully disengaged. And yes, I have rubber duckies, plural. Doesn’t everyone? I have a snake to clean the drain, but I find a wire hanger works better, because I don’t have to take the drain apart to use it. Well, the hanger works better until it gets stuck in the drain. Maybe the snake would have been preferable, after all. About ten minutes of wiggling and yanking later, the hanger came out. Whew. And the water drained out too. Success!

Unclogged drain.

Ducky down.

Stay tuned…

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Yesterday, I found myself ready to go to work early. Early! That’s rare enough that I had to ask myself a series of questions.

  • Did I brush my hair?
  • Did I brush my teeth? (Different brush.)
  • Did I put on deodorant?
  • Did I take my morning medication?
  • Did I eat breakfast?
  • Did I bring a lunch?
  • Are any of my clothes on backwards or inside out?
  • Am I wearing pants?

Nothing makes you feel closer to the Alzheimer Unit at the nursing home than forgetting to wear pants. But, I was good to go. Got to work early. Amazing.

Then, last night, I found more clothes! Every time I think I’m finished sorting through all my clothes, I find more. I was putting an afghan in the leather hamper by the leopard chair, and there was a stack of summer clothes in the bottom. I must have put them there when I was going through the fall/winter stuff. Here it is, mid-August, and I haven’t missed those summer clothes once. I added them to the Goodwill bag I had already started. Boom. They’re outta here!

Today I went to Stillwater, a lovely town on the St. Croix River, for a little touring/shopping/dining with BFF “C”, BFF “B” and No.2 Sis. I bought the cutest little birdcage.

 

Birdcage.

Birdcage.

I used to be able to walk all the way down main street and back, but now I can only make it one way before my wobbly knees give out. The girls left me on a bench with a bottle of water and the hope that somehow I’d find my way home. Then they walked back to the car. They were joking….I hoped. Indeed, they stopped to pick me up on their way out of town. Although “C” did pull forward a little bit every time I reached for the door handle.

I was so tired when I got home that I laid down for a short nap. I woke up 4 hours later. Oh dear, I hope I’ll be able to sleep tonight. Somehow, I think I will.

Stay tuned…

 

 

True Confessions

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I have to make a confession. The other night, when I cleaned off the Queen bedroom chair? I wanted to finish my blog post, so I cleared the chair by throwing everything on the bed. I had every intention of going back to put everything away, but after I finished posting I got very distracted by an urgent situation. An unfinished jigsaw puzzle. So the room has looked like this for the last couple of nights.

The truth.

The truth.

Um, yeah, I slept with all that crap in the bed. I just curled up a bit. Tonight, I came home from the country club (I’m finding “the country club” sounds more upbeat then calling my work cubicle “my cell”) and cleaned up that mess. For real. I’m so sorry for deceiving you. Can we ever rebuild the trust?

Cleaned up, for real.

Cleaned up, for real.

Oh, maybe now is a good time to mention that boxes 128 & 129, the old paint cans, are still sitting in the garage. To be fair, I never reported them fully gone from the property. Goddess, I feel so dirty.

Stay tuned…

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I spent the day with No.2 Sis, scrapbooking some of the photos left to us by Dad. We made one scrapbook of Mom and Dad’s wedding photos, circa 1951. We made another album with my Dad’s report cards, Air Force National Guard memorabilia, post-graduate certificates, work awards, community awards and more. My goddess, I thought I got my hoarding tendencies from Mom. Turns out Dad had a touch of it too. We threw away a bunch of the stuff he kept with all that memorabilia. A letter from the Veteran’s Administration authorizing a request to visit the dentist. An invitation to a Christmas party, with no year on it. An article about a man who caught a big fish. No idea who the guy was. If anything was in the least bit interesting, we kept it.

I’m pretty sure I have none of my report cards, but I’m glad Dad kept his. A’s and B’s in math and science. C’s and D’s in English. No surprise. He was an engineer, not a writer. D’s and F’s in physical education! Surprise! F’s in conduct! Surprise!  My dear, angelic looking Dad was a bad boy! Mr. Law-and Order was a rebel without a cause!

Sis and I found the whole experience exhausting. Was it all the old energy attached to the photos and the papers? Was it just the sorting and the decision making? I don’t know, but I’m glad we’re done for this weekend.

Meanwhile, I’m still working steadily on the house. As I continue to declutter the art studio, the rest of the house slowly slides into chaos. People warned me not to put a chair in the Queen bedroom, because it will collect clutter. What a bunch of nonsense.

Queen bedroom chair

Queen bedroom chair

 

Um….yeah, nonsense, see? Don’t worry, Bella the cat was not under the stuff.

Queen bedroom chair sans clutter

Queen bedroom chair sans clutter

 

Whew. Anyway, I pulled two more bags of recycling from the studio. That puts me at 150. I’d buy myself a present but I still haven’t hooked up the Amazon Fire TV that I bought myself for reaching 100 bags. Maybe I’ll do that tonight, after I layout the week’s clothes, and cook a big pot of something for the week, and…well, maybe next week.

Stay tuned…

I’m Namin’ Names

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My Mom, Ruth, taught me that Spirit inhabits all people, animals, plants, and well, everything. Even things you might think of as inanimate objects. She also said everything has a name, and if you ask what it is, you’ll hear the answer. That’s how her apartment came to be called Elizabeth Fairchild.

I’m my mother’s daughter, so I ask things for their names. My first experience with this was when I asked my three houseplants what their names were. The first one said “Mabel”. The second one said “Maybelle”. The third one said “Maybelline”. I’m pretty sure they were just f*cking with me.

I recently went to Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, with my sisters and nieces. Maiden Rock is a tiny town on the Mississippi river, and it has a main street with quaint shops and galleries. We stopped in at Cultural Cloth, owned by friends of No.8 Sis. Jody and Mary Ann started Cultural Cloth to help indigenous women from around the world sell their crafts, especially their weavings and other textiles. We met a couple of rug hookers (sounds wrong, but that’s what they call themselves) from Guatemala while we were at the shop. While I loved the textiles, I was totally smitten with this little drinking glass from Guatemala.

Guatemalan drinking cup

Miss Priss

Isn’t it charming? I named her Miss Priss, because of her pursed lips. Then I thought to actually ask her what her name was. Magdalena. Makes sense. I belatedly asked Peggy what her name was ,too. Fortunata. Excellent. I’m putting her in charge of my penny jar.

Peggy

Peggy

You know, I need to quit calling my little gray work cubicle my “cell”. Bad ju-ju. As soon as I thought that, the name Tabitha popped into my head. No. I can’t call my cubicle Tabitha. I have to maintain a facade of sanity at my job. That job is what pays for food, housing and Amazon Prime.

I was thinking more along the lines of the Country Club, as in “What a lovely day. I think I shall go to the Country Club”, and “No lunch for me Jeeves, I shall dine at the Club”. Yeah, like that won’t make me look crazy. Hah.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I posted this on Chic on a Shoestring Decorating, Flaunt It Friday 218.

 

 

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I want to make Christmas cards!!! Of course, what else would I want to do when it’s 90 degrees and sunny? All through January, I’ll want to plant a garden. I’m a little troubled.

I went into my art studio, currently functioning as a very crowded storage room. I started emptying one box at a time, instead of tearing through everything looking for Christmas paper and stamps. I managed to collect 2 full bags, 1 partial bag, and 1 partial box, for donating. I also collected 1 bag of garbage and 2 bags of recycling. Ho, ho, ho. That’s 5 bags, if you’re counting, and I am. The partials will be counted only when they’re full.

I did happen upon some Christmas paper, but no stamps. Even though I’m sorting as I go, I’m not really putting things in their final resting place. Oh, that sounds bad. I mean, permanent home. I need more shelves, baskets and filing cabinets. Or less stuff. Lots less stuff.

But, I’m so addicted to Stampin’ Up stamps, papers and tools. I used to be a Stampin’ Up demonstrator, but I’m SOOO not a salesperson, and I’d apologize to people for wasting their valuable time, and I’d insist that they not buy anything, at least for my sake. I went broke pretty quickly. I still buy a lot, but I don’t have any monthly minimums to meet. Much better for all concerned.

So, even if I decide to get rid of some older stamping sets, I have a hard time just giving them to Goodwill. It’s an emotional thing, as well as a financial thing. The last couple of years I put a bunch of sets in a friend’s rummage sale, and I made $75 and $90. I figure that’s a win-win, as I get some money, and I know if people pay for them, they’ll give them a good home. Sort of like charging $25 for a kitten.

Anyway, the art studio is still not functional, but it’s getting easier to walk around in there. Progress continues. I haven’t updated the photos, because it’s just hard to tell the difference at this point. But I did want to leave you something to look at. You know how ottomans are for feet? Be careful at my house, because the ottoman is booby-trapped. Or should I say Bella-trapped?

Danger

Danger

Stay tuned…

 

What a Friend We Have in Cheeses

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(After 2 weeks without internet, I’ve rejoined the 21st century. Thank goddess, I’m back).

I love cheeses. White cheese, yellow cheese, orange cheese, blue cheese – I love cheeses! That’s no surprise, as I live next door to Wisconsin, the Dairy State. Really, no matter what Minnesotans and Wisconsonites say, there is no difference between us. Well, Minnesotans never would’ve elected Scott Walker. Wait, we elected Tim Pawlenty. Yeah, no difference.

My Mom, in her final decade, became a Sant Singhi (spelling?). It’s an eastern India sect, that jived with her pantheistic, spiritualistic philosophy. I don’t believe that celibacy and vegetarianism are morally superior, as Sant Singhi espouses. I’m a pantheistic spiritualist, but I believe in earthy living, and I believe in the Force. I call myself a Geek Orthodox.

I didn’t want to know about Mom’s celibacy or lack thereof, but we shared the love of cheeses. Mom’s vegetarianism consisted mostly of cheese sandwiches. After a while, I thought of her as a Cheesatarian, more than a Sant Singhi. When she was on her death bed, we couldn’t find a Cheesatarian minister, or a Sant Singhi, so we got a nondenominational minister for her comfort. She surprised us all by asking for a priest. Well, she couldn’t eat cheese by then anyway.

I’ve rarely been let down by cheeses, but I was just recently disappointed. I bought a block of name-brand, extra sharp cheddar. I was so looking forward to that tangy taste, and that firm bite. When I sliced into it I found the texture and color to be consistent with that peel-and-stick, single-serving, faux American cheese. Unfortunately, the taste was also consistent. Gack! Fortunately, there are always at least 3 blocks of hard cheese in the fridge, and I was able to redeem my lunch without too much trauma.

I was driving home from a visit with my BFF “G” yesterday, when I decided to pull into the Pine Cheese Mart for my favorite car snack, cheese curds. I wish I could leave this post on a happier note, but this was their sign.

“NO MORE CHEESE. STOP IN FOR BREW SUPPLIES.”

No more cheese??? Jesus.

Stay tuned…