Saturday, 31 January 2015

Dirty words

There will be a number of dirty words in this post.  Prepare yourself.  Maybe grab a beer or something.


I'll start with my least favourite dirty word.  My beloved tabby, Cameron, probably has the Big C.  He developed a large lump near his jaw a few months ago and it didn't respond to antibiotics, so my vet is assuming he has cancer.  In order to get a diagnosis, Cameron would have to have a biopsy to remove the tumour.  This means general anaesthetic and a big old scary trip to the vet school at U of S.  He's old (if he were a human, he'd be about 85 years old) and has an existing health problem, so the surgery may actually cause more harm.  It would also be outrageously expensive and my intuition tells me that my money would be better spent on spoiling my boy in the time we have left together.  I'm so glad the vet told me that it's okay for me to decide not to have the surgery, which helps immensely with guilt.  I wasn't surprised by all of this but it's still stressful and sad.  This cat has seen me through a lot and offers a level of unconditional love that continues to give me a boost everyday.  I will miss him so much when he's not here to greet me when I get home from work.  So now I'm in a new phase of pet ownership, where I have to monitor Cameron's quality of life on an ongoing basis and prepare to decide when it's time to let him go.  Right now he's comfortable and happy.  His kidneys and thyroid are in good shape, and he's still eating.  No problems with his appetite at all, although he's lost weight in the last year.  Every time I walk into the kitchen he's right behind me, surveying the dry food situation and demanding treats.


This isn't really a dirty word for me, but it is for other people.  I've decided to give up on dairy and eggs.  Dairy is not agreeing with me and I've had a love/hate relationship with eggs for a while.  I've been eating vegan a good deal of my time as a vegetarian, so it's not a huge deal and isn't anything new.  I even hesitate to use the word "vegan" but we're all hell-bent on labelling diets, so if people ask from now on this is the word I will use.  What I really want to emphasize here is that if I go out for dinner with you or have a meal in your home, I don't want to make what I eat/don't eat a big fat hairy deal.  If I eat something with cheese or eggs in it, no one is going to die.  I'm not going to projectile vomit or spit it out across the table or have a hissy fit in the restaurant.  I accidentally ate chicken back in the fall at a library social thingie, and I chalked it up as a "shit happens" kind of situation.  That said, I also appreciate it when people don't look at my food like it's landed on the plate from outer space.  It's just plants.  I eat what makes me feel best, and you do the same.  I'm sure there are more interesting things to focus on anyway. 


I took my flute in for a check up a couple of weeks ago.  It came back feeling much better...the keys close at the same time!  I don't know what happened to it, but half the instrument was in really bad shape.  The repair guy said he wasn't sure how I was getting sound in the low register because nothing was sealing properly.  He worked his magic and all is well again.  Now I can't blame the instrument for any problems that I encounter, which means if I want to get back into good playing shape I'm going to have to stop messing around and start playing my scales again.  All those annoying technical exercises I did for years and years really did help; all the music I play is made up of scales, arpeggios, etc. and if I don't practice them everything falls apart quickly.  I once had a lesson with a flute player who said that any problem (ANY PROBLEM) in a piece of music could be solved with a technical exercise, and I believe him.  Not all musicians agree with me, but I know myself well enough to realize that I need to haul out the daily exercises again if I have any hope of getting back to where I was a few years ago.  I need to find my tuner too...that's another dirty word.  *shudder*

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

I hate January

There.  I said it.  I actually say it almost daily, and it has little to do with this post, but getting it down in writing is always a good thing.  This winter isn't nearly as bad as last year: it's much warmer here in Saskatoon and my anxiety level has dropped dramatically.  I feel more settled and can function after 8pm most days.  We're in for a thaw tomorrow, which means I should also be able to avoid the intense cravings for meat I had last year around this time.  (True story.  Take me out for a beer sometime and I can tell you all about it.)

Anyway, I've been making stuff and it's been much easier/less scary/more fun than I thought it would be.  It's the same old story: the anticipation of creating is a good deal more frightening and uncomfortable than the actual act of getting it done.  And though I've given myself permission for my makes to be ugly, most have been quite pretty.  Here is my hand cut snowflake made out of a page from Vogue magazine...

If you look closely, you can see super twit Kim Kardashian in there.  I specifically chose pages from the Kim and Kanye article to cut up, as I can't think of two people more deserving of being shredded.  Three of my snowflake creations now hang in the door way to my kitchen.  How stylish.

I also wrote haiku with random words people selected for me.  If I ask you to give me a word, you now know what I'm on about (other than being annoying).

Frigid river walk
Cauterized my aching heart 
Deadened senses drift


Scarborough subway
"Boondoggle" say the critics
Too late?  We shall see

My favourite makes so far are these rude cross stitches...

I have no words.  They make me giggle every time I walk by them.  And I haven't even framed them yet. 

I took a big, brave step and sent my flute into the local instrument repair shop to get a check up.  The last time I did this I spent an outrageous amount of money getting it adjusted, oiled, cleaned, and having some pads replaced, then I got it home and it felt exactly the same as it did before I took it in.  (Did I mention I even drove the damn thing to Toronto to have it serviced?  Seriously.  It was practically a suicide mission on the 401.)  I'm hoping for better results this time out.  My Powell deserves better, you know?  Another big step was contacting something called the Galliard Foundation here in Saskatoon to ask to perform in one of their upcoming Classical Variety Night concerts.  The next one is in February, which is too soon for me to get up in front of an audience, but I'll be playing in the spring edition.  I'm ditching the Baroque music and picking up a few French pieces from the late 19th and early 20th century.  I always felt most satisfied with my playing when I performed Faure, Gaubert, etc., so it's a fitting way to get back into it.

Other miscellaneous tidbits from my life (you can stop reading now if you don't care to hear about the boring stuff)...  1. My building had two break and enters in the past week, yet the property management company seems a bit reluctant to, you know, make the building more secure by fixing the locks on the front and back doors (their suggestion: make sure you have insurance!).  I pity whoever breaks in here, because they'll find I live a pretty basic existence.  If they want a crappy food processor, I'm their woman.  Hopefully it doesn't come to that.  2. I'm on the brink of giving up dairy as my body is throwing out signals that it really can't deal with it anymore.  I took a break from it for a couple of weeks, then felt like complete shit for three days after eating cheese pizza.  I'm sure I'll get over the loss, eventually.  3. Librarian-ing is still fabulous.  There's always lots to do, problems to solve, programs to plan, and bizarre things going on.  I love my job.  4. The fur children are doing well for a couple of oldies.  I can't believe Cameron will be 17 in March.  He still has that funny bump near his jaw and I've been putting off taking him back to the vet as I'm always convinced the next visit will be the one when the vet tells me he's living on borrowed time.  I know...bad cat mom.  I'll call tomorrow to see what we can do to (hopefully) fix him up.  Cleo is her usual princess self.  I've decided she only really wants me to get out of bed in the morning so she can have the whole bed to herself, not so she can enjoy my company over a cup of tea.  Bitch.

Friday, 2 January 2015

2015: Make it ugly

What am I doing with this blog?  I've been lazy about posting, as I feel that my life isn't all that exciting to write about.  And there are many days when I feel like I never want to touch a computer ever again (thank you, work email!).  It started out as a way of keeping people in the loop about my move to Saskatoon, but when the initial upheaval subsided and I got the job I really wanted, it seemed boring to give a run down of my week all the time. 

I'm coming out of a weird place.  There was a lot of change in a very short period of time, and it messed me up.  If I told you I was okay in the past three years, it was probably a lie.  I spent most of last winter paying for the time I went on autopilot, which perhaps wasn't the healthiest thing I could have done to deal with library school, job interviews, the move west, and other stressful, sad things.  However, it got me from there to here and I'm still alive, so I suppose that time I spent with tunnel vision did what I needed it to do.  I guess that's what happens when your survival instinct kicks in.  My creativity took a beating during that time and through the past year of retreat and recovery.  I haven't made much of anything, except the stuff I 'make' at work.  I miss it a lot.  I'm envious of my coworkers who go out and make music regularly, or write, or sew, or whatever.  I've been encouraged to make stuff, but I ran away from it for whatever reason.  I just wasn't ready to create again.  Then I starting reading this book...

It's called "Make It Mighty Ugly: Exercises & Advice for Getting Creative Even When it Ain't Pretty" by Kim Piper Werker.  I ordered this for Fine Arts because it seemed quirky and down-to-earth.  I'm reading it because I thought there was library program potential in it (turns out the author thinks so too, as she has an entire section on her website devoted to librarians who want to run the Mighty Ugly workshop), but now I'm into it because I think it will give me the kick up the backside I need to start making stuff again.  I've been feeling out of sorts: digestive upheaval, my skin is breaking out (but only on the left side of my face...WTF?), and I'm having an insanely hard time getting a decent night's sleep.  (Seriously, if I could get seven evenings of excellent sleep in a row I would be able to die happy.)  This kind of thing happens when I'm shifting from one place to another, and though it's uncomfortable, it's generally a sign that I'm moving forward.  And right now is the time to move forward creatively.  I'm going with the suggestion in the third section of the book: make something (anything) for at least 15 minutes a day.  This is where the blog comes in...I can create daily, and share weekly.  There are lots of blogs and websites out there that chronicle people's journeys through creativity, and I hate to follow the crowd, but it makes sense to do this at the moment.  It goes back to the Seven of Wands.  To me, that tarot card is all about feeling the fear about doing something and carrying on despite those uncomfortable feelings. It's what got me where I am today, and it's the right time to channel that energy into bite-size creative goals (rather than huge, life-changing goals, which is exhausting...I'm done with that for now).

So off I go, making stuff no matter how ugly or disastrous it may be.  I haven't decided exactly what to make each day, probably a mish mash of things, but I've already started.  This week I got out my flute and made Bach.  It wasn't great, as evidenced by the number of times I called poor J.S. a bastard.  I've never had a good relationship with Baroque music and despite the fact that I'm learning pieces that are at a grade level far below what I'm capable of playing, it's still a challenge.  And I forced myself to play in a manner that exposes all my tonal deficiencies, which was even more painful.  But then I hauled out a concerto by Quantz that I learned almost twenty years ago and was delighted to discover it's still under my fingers.  So I'm not a lost cause after all.  Onward.