A Gift

A few weeks ago when I hit the one year mark on this blog I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to take it in. I’m still not sure. My life has turned into something I never expected. It’s been a bittersweet week, and although I can’t explain what that means as of yet, it involves a major change. This blog has evolved from an art project into a daily journal of our life as a family going through the crisis of unemployment. Things had come to a head as of late and I was really feeling the stress of all of it. Things are no better as I write this. Dan and I are still looking for jobs without much luck. Just the other day I received a call back from a woman’s apparel store and was excited that something might be changing for us, but I didn’t get the job. The woman on the phone didn’t feel that I was qualified because I had never sold clothing before. That in spite of the fact that I worked customer service in a retail environment for more than eighteen years. I’m not quite sure what it is that she thought I was incapable of. I’ve been a wife and mother for thirty years, I have two grown children, I obviously have been in quite a few clothing stores, and have folded more than my share of laundry. In my job at the grocery store I handled thousands of monetary transactions, balanced daily sales reports, verified armor truck deliveries, and much, much more, but she wasn’t interested in anything I had to offer.

I’ve been losing faith. Faith in everything. Lately even my prayers are disrupted in my head by moments of doubt. There have been glimmers of hope, but I have seen them snatched away as quickly as they broke through the darkness. What has helped us through all of this is our deep love for each other, and the love and support of our families.

 

I wrote the words above three days ago and then I stopped writing. I quit, I let the weight of all of this get the best of me. I had given up. It has been so long since something positive has happened for us that I had fallen into a depression nearly as bad as the one I had suffered when my mother died. That was Friday. Saturday Dan and I headed down to San Diego. He has a job interview tomorrow and we were doing a little research on the product. He is well aware of the depths of my struggle, he is and always has been my lifeline. As we drove along I told him how much I wished something nice would happen for us, it has been so very long. Then we got the mail. Inside was a card from a friend. Inside the card was a gift beyond words. Yes there was money, not enough to start our business, but this isn’t about the money I found in the card, it’s about the hope. When I saw what was inside and read the words, I cried. It is enough to allow me to take a breath and believe in the future. We have gotten help from our families, they have been as generous as they can be both in support and varying amounts of cash. What made this different was that it was from someone who isn’t family, someone who knew my struggle and reached out to help. This person doesn’t want credit, and could barely take my thanks, but I have to be thankful to someone who gave me back my life, my hope, my faith. All we can do is move ahead. As our benefactor said, “Don’t look back, only look forward.”

 

So here we go. The burden feels a little lighter. Onward to better things.

As for tomorrow? Please pray for Dan for tomorrow’s interview. We need it, but in the mean time…The Curious Cat Books & Bistro is in the works. A few photos to share tonight, hopefully new art for tomorrow.

Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

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For lunch? Grape Almond Chicken Salad & Macaroni Salad

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Afternoon Tea

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and a late night cheese plate to share…

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Everything but the bread made from scratch.

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What Makes An Artist?

I’ll begin tonight with a definition. I of course have my own theory, but I will give you one I googled, and found on The Free Dictionary.

Artist

1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.
2. A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.Nov 17th (4)

If you are curious about the food photo, the explanation lies ahead, and at the end of this paragraph a photo of our bedroom, all in an effort to prove a point. I bring this up because of the conversation that I wrote about the other evening, (OK, I’m obsessing. It’s a problem of mine) but I also had an encounter a few months back that stuck with me. I was having coffee with a friend at Starbucks, we ran into two women, one of whom I had met before. I was introduced to the other woman as an artist. I didn’t bring it up, I usually don’t unless asked what I do. Many people, including family, refer to me as a “housewife”. Let me begin by saying I have no problem with the housewife label, I don’t work outside the home except for occasional odd artistic jobs. But I am first and foremost an artist. My entire home is a work of art. There isn’t a single square inch that hasn’t been creatively transformed by me, including my garden. I work hard every single day, and every day I do something artistic. For me creativity is as natural as breathing. If I’m not working on an art project, I’m photographing something, or I’m cooking a meal that would knock your socks off, and that meal would be very artistically arranged on a plate, a particular plate since I have way too many plates, all white, in an effort to display my food in the most beautiful manner possible, and more than likely taking a photo of that meal. Whew! Long sentence, but all true. (So that’s why the food photo) When I was introduced as an artist to this woman I was meeting for the first time, she turned and said, “An artist? Are you a real artist, I mean do you sell your work?” Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that unless I turn a profit I’m not a real artist. She apparently never heard of all of the great artists whose work was worth zip until they were six feet under. The conversation of the other night was headed in that same direction. No, I don’t have training, and yes, I have nothing hanging in a gallery for sale, but I am an artist, just one without a profit sheet.Master (2)

For tonight I revisited another orphan tucked away in the studio. I chose this one in particular because tomorrow is Father’s Day. My father-in-law passed away five years ago in July. He was a really lovely man who I liked very, very much. Last year I decided to paint a vignette of some of his belongings as a gift for my husband. Like so many other paintings before it, I gave up. I have felt bad about not finishing it, but I wanted Dan to love it, and I didn’t feel like I was good enough to paint this painting. I was at times sorry that I started the project because for me, (and I never told him this) I thought that the fact that it was unfinished only proved to Dan that I wasn’t good enough to do so. He has never shown anything but complete support for me, I was putting my crap on him. So much of the world around me has not given me the respect I deserve for my work. No schooling, no paintings currently for sale, but I have more talent than many of the “professionals” can claim ownership of. I don’t care for a great deal of modern art. I am entitled to that opinion, but I would never dare to say that the people who paint them are not artists because I dislike the work. When I spoke to Dan about this subject earlier this evening he said, “A baseball player is a baseball player, not just because he plays in the major leagues.” To use his analogy, I have “major league” talent, but I skipped spring training, much of the season is past, but I think I’m beginning to realize that I might just play in the all-star game and possibly the world series. I am feeling more confident in my painting daily. Dare I say it? Even a little fearless.
Oil on canvas, and I am proud to say it is almost finished. (Only because the Hawk’s are in the Stanley Cup, and we went out to watch the game. Maybe I should have used a hockey analogy instead)
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