Sunday, August 25, 2013

Getting Old - er

It's amazing how life just continues moving on -- faster and faster.  I'm considered to be -- (looking around to see if anyone sees what I'm writing!) -- a "senior" now.  How in the world did this happen?  Why, just a week ago, I was thinking that I better enjoy life more, do more, play more, experience more, love my family more, you get the picture -- and now, I'm thinking I'm nearing the end, what is there left for me to do in the relatively short time I have left.  I figure, if my health continues to be tip-top, I've got around 10 good years left.  Notice I said "good years."  Who knows how long I'll live -- or if I'll want to live so long that I'm miserable and waiting for the end to happen.  In my family, you either go early (my grandmother was 56, my mother 77, my father 53) or very, very late (both my great grandparents that I was fortunate enough to know lived into their late 90's.)  I'm shooting for somewhere in between.

Well, reality is what it is.  One of my favorite (and existential, I realize) sayings is:  "What is, is."  It's that simple.

So what am I going to do about my "good ten years left"?   I'm still thinking.  But I can tell you one thing:  It's time to consider very seriously my "bucket list."    Twenty years ago, I lived in France as a graduate student.  It was a really difficult thing to do.  My husband had just recently died, I had a nine-year-old daughter, but I was given the opportunity to study in Toulouse, so despite a lot of reasons why maybe I shouldn't have done it, I did it.  And my only!!! regret is that I came back to the USA.  It's not that don't love the USA; I do.  But I also love the adventure, the thrill, the "being alive" feeling of living in a totally different environment.  And, let's face it, no matter where we go in the US, everything is pretty much the same as it was "back home."

I also had the opportunity to be able to live, albeit a much shorter time than I had anticipated, in Denmark a few years ago.  (The length of time there is another story I don't want to talk about -- or even think about.)  But being there just shy of three short months was glorious.  We, my family and I lived on a small island called Langeland.  I'm hoping that someday before too long, we'll be able to get mended what got broken and I'll be able to go back, at least for short periods of time.)

With all that in mind, I am hoping, and planning, to be able to return to Europe again in the fairly near future.  Remember, for me, the clock is ticking louder and louder all the time.  There are many, many details to figure out for this to work, but it's the highest item on my to-do list, so I just have to make it work.  I will.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's been a long time . . .

It's been a really long time since I've written anything.  I'm afraid there's nothing much interesting or new to report.  We're (my daughter and I) working away on our ceramic artwork and are really enjoying the process.  We're selling them at art shows and amazingly well online, on Etsy primarily.  We still have several bugs to work out regarding selling them online, but we have a pretty good system going now.  It is just awfully hard to keep up with what's going on and getting the purchased items, which nearly all of them end up having to be made as they're ordered, out in a timely manner.  Closer to the Holiday Season, I think we'll be listing only one-of-a-kind items and not taking any more "custom" orders until things slow down in January.  As it is now, a customer can make many customizations on each piece, so it's really keeping us jumping.

Regarding my new landscape painting venture, I'm plodding along a lot slower than I had expected.  That's partly because I've been too busy with the ceramics work and partly because it's turned out to be much, much harder than I had expected it to be.  Yes, I can copy what's before me rather well; but I don't feel that's enough.  I feel that I have to put more of me and my personality into, well, into what's before me.  I hear that will come with experience, but for me it just hasn't happened yet.  There have been a few times in my life where I have been doing something where I felt a "shift" into another mode of behavior as I was learning something new.  The way it was for me is the shift happened and then some time later, I realized that it had happened.

One instance, oddly enough, was when I was studying statistics both in undergraduate and graduate school.  I was doing okay in the course and found it only mildly interesting; but being a good student, I kept plodding along at the subject, trying to find some "big meaning" in it all.  Then one evening while I was still in undergraduate school, as I was reading something, it hit me:  I saw the "big picture!"  I can't explain it now -- or you wouldn't want me to -- but I suddenly realized that I had, so to speak, put all the puzzle pieces into place, and I fully understood what had been eluding me for many, many months.  After that, I fell in love with statistics and even taught it not only to struggling fellow undergraduate students but to people far ahead of me in graduate schools who had to pass or do well in statistics to get their advanced level degrees.

Okay, that was really off-subject!

Anyway, I'll keep struggling with landscape paintings, and someday maybe I'll be pretty good.  I've put custom pet paintings on hold, as I think I've mentioned before, as well as any animal paintings.  I really needed a break.  I just finished, after a many months' delay, a final custom dog painting, which will actually be shipped tomorrow.  I think it came out quite well, and it's a high note to take a long break on.  He's a mixed breed, beautiful black dog with soulful eyes, and his "parents" love the painting.  That makes me happy.

Oh, one more word:  I am working in oils now on my landscape paintings, and it, too, is a struggle to master.  But I do love the feel of it and the way it moves on the canvas, and I am finally, finally getting a bit of a grip on how to hang onto it -- it seems to want to slip away from my grasp sometimes.  In the end, I think it is a very wise move for me.

Okay, I'll try to get back to keeping you up on what's happening.