What If You Didn’t Have Work On Monday?

It’s Sunday evening and for many people this is the last day of the Thanksgiving holiday and tomorrow is back to work day.  Roughly 10% of Americans don’t have a job and Monday signals another week of searching for one.  From Thanksgiving until the start of the new year no employer really wants to talk or hire you.  I am one of those Americans out there seeking the next chapter in my career and I’m not going to the office in the morning.

When you are trying to stretch the budget as far as possible you really don’t like those ads that show pretty people in pretty items doing pretty things for a pretty holiday that used to be about faith but now is about spending money you may, or may not, have for gifts.

There are lists for what to get the person who has everything – a Lear jet, matching Louis Vuitton luggage,  dazzling large gemstones set in platinum. gold toilet seats and so forth.  What I haven’t seen this year is the list of what to get the people who don’t have everything including a job.  So I offer up my list of what to get the people who don’t have everything including a job.

LIST OF GIFTS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE JOBS:

1.  Large denominations of cash.  Why do people think cash is crass?  It fits every body size and shape and pocketbook and no denomination is too big.  Remember to give cash gracefully, that’s the part where good manners come in.

2.  Gift cards for groceries.  Food is good, empty stomach not good and once again… think as big a number as you can live with.  During a bad week $5 is just as critical as $500 is on another week.  Gift cards can help with those items that food programs don’t typically allow — we all need toilet paper.

3.  A personal letter of recommendation.  This item moves up to number one if done eloquently.  Not only will it help the job seeker feel better, it could help them find a new employer.  There’s plenty of information about writing a great letter of reference on the Internet if you need some assistance with the composition.

4.  A tune-up for their car.  Changing the oil can get lost when making the choice about what’s more important — formula for junior or automotive upkeep?  There are a ton of Jiffy Lubes,  Oil Can Henry’s, or similar franchises, that could use the business.

5.  Gas.  I’m not talking about the kind you have on Friday after Thanksgiving, it’s the petroleum product I am writing about.  Many brands now have gift cards and a full tank is a good investment in your loved one.

6.  Dinner.  If your loved one has been out of work for a while it’s a good bet that the entertainment budget is a package of microwave popcorn and Saturday night television.  Make sure that there’s enough funds so that it will include a tip and a martini or two along with dinner.  Doesn’t have to be Chez Expensive, but please think Chez Tasty Food when selecting a restaurant.

7.  Babysitting.  Need I say more?

8.  Dry Cleaning.  There’s something about how great a shirt looks with just a little starch.  Men and women have that “look” that fits the work they are seeking.  If they would wear a suit to the office that they are seeing to work in then dry cleaning is a big help along the way.  Volunteer to wash and iron their interview shirts/blouses for a week if dry cleaning isn’t quite right.

9.  Haircut and Color.  Haircuts become less frequent and roots get a little longer.  When you look the mirror with a fresh new hairstyle it can make you feel like a millions bucks and it shows when you walk in the room for an interview.  Styles change and an updated look is good for everyone (men get color too you know).  Include the tip.

10.  Something fun.  Life gets serious fast when you look for a work and the news has nothing to share but gloomy numbers.  Tickets to a concert, make your own root-beer kit, radio controlled truck, a flashy sequined purse.  It’s not the gift that counts, it’s remembering the human struggle and doing something about it for the person you love.

And now, my DO NOT GIVE THEM LIST:

1.  Advice.  Do not give them advice.  You can offer to help with their resume, keep your ear open and forward valid   work opportunities but if it resembles advice in any way KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

Any phrase that includes you “should, could, would, ought to and/or if I were you.”  We are in the middle of the worst economic times since 1929.  These days looking for a new career can be devastating and no person wants, or needs, to hear those depressing words.  Unless you are in the same boat you are not going to understand the challenges that so many American are facing as the year comes to a close.

2.  See rule #1 of things not to do or say.  Repeat until there are ten items on this list.

It’s Sunday evening and the quiet has come to the household.  My holiday included a visit with my 90 year old mother who recognized me — that alone made it a good holiday but that’s not all.  I saw my sister and her grandchildren.  I also saw my baby brother who is no baby but I get a kick out of having a six foot-four inch brother “baby.”

I ate dinner with my nuclear family where the menu included oyster dressing (thank you Rebecca) and we all laughed, ate, remembered when and told stories about each other.  We drank to pacemakers keeping a sister alive and feeling better.  Fresh from the Culinary Institute of America baking program in Napa, California, my niece Kira created a wide array of tasty desserts.

The rest of the weekend involved working in the studio with a friend who is a LMT that travels from Corvallis to Portland to do her glass art work.  This weekend I was gifted with the best foot massage ever (thank you Josandra).  John and I baked pies.  Sure we’d both like to have an office to go to tomorrow but our life stories are in another chapter and we are working on something new for our futures.  And, whatever it is, it’s going to be good.

And the most fun of the weekend has been watching the cats go crazy with fresh catnip… but that’s the next story.

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Green Friday

Retail “Black Friday” the day after Thanksgiving has come and gone and I spent the day in the studio.  Yes, I chose to not shop on the biggest retail day of the year.  Why?  Well, beyond the financial reasons, I wanted to spend some time with in the studio with glass.

Art/sodium glass is a small batch manufacturing process and the craftspeople that make it have my respect.  After the glass has been batched, stirred, heated and brought to a searing white hot state it is then poured onto a rolling table where a roller flattens the “glob” of glass into a sheet that heads into the annealer to temper the glass by cooling it slowly.  After cooling it is cut into sheets, goes through a quality check and then is placed on shelves for sale.  It’s an addiction for some including me.

The rolling process squeezes the “blob” and creates edges that ripple up and down and expresses the air bubbles out. Typically I trim the rolling edges off so that I have a clean cut to work with.  For the past 4 years I have been saving most of the edges from the sheets of my glass, I like how they look, meandering along the glass.  I’ve been collecting these edges since I cut my first full sheet of glass.   I’ve had this reoccurring image in my head of a project that would use these edges of ripples and texture and unique shapes.

I now have a large box of these beautiful edges in my studio and yesterday I spent time with them.  I spent the day working on a design that is baking in the kiln as I write.  The reason that this project is so important is because there is a competition that Bullseye Glass stages ever other year.  You submit your .jpg files of your work, pay a fee, and submit your work for a jury to decide whether it will be selected to show in their gallery.

My intention is to enter this piece for exhibit — the first piece go through kind of artistic scrutiny and competition from all around the globe.  Many an artist has come away from this process feeling brutalized — it takes a lot a bravada to offer my artwork up for dissection by people who don’t know me or my body of work.

During the day I was happy playing with abandon — the colors, glass, different shapes, all coming together to give me inspiration for a the yet to be named piece.  Since the construction of the piece is primarily from the edges of the sheet glass I’ve been toying of a name to give the piece.  So far I’ve thought of… The Edge of Glass, Edge of the World, Edge Not – Lest Ye Be Edged, Over the Edge, I’m sure your get the gist of this thought.

Artist usually name their pieces because they become a part of your outer spirit.  I don’t know if the jury will see it in their deliberations but I think I am going to name this piece “Stan.”  Why Stan?  Why not?  Does it really matter?  It’s a piece of my soul, fused into some glass, living with reflective light, oozing with dimension.  How could that much of me ever have a name?

My Friday wasn’t black, it was all green, mystical edges rolling across the kiln shelf, comparing pieces of glass to determine what was right and where it belongs in the piece.  I had a Green Friday and I hope all of those people who were out there shopping felt as good at the end of the day as I did?  I laid my head down to sleep last night, said my prayers as I drifted off and woke up this morning with anticipation of what would I see when I opened the kiln.

Red and Yellow vase

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It’s a Volcano Not a Vulcan

I live on an urban volcano.  They say it’s extinct though I’m not certain how can you tell if a volcano is truly extinct.  The volcano’s caldera sits about a half a mile to the south, it’s not flashy, no lava, just an asphalt parking lot that looks eerily empty in the blustery November weather.  The volcano does give Portland a statistic as the only city in North America with a volcano inside city limits.

Our neighborhood feels like a neighborhood should, filled with families, squirrels, kids and a variety of adults who enjoy a martini now and then.  I’ve developed a soft spot for our  90 year old neighbor named Nan.  I’m guessing that her Scottish accent is as strong now as it was when she came to live here 65 years ago.  Nan can be a little feisty and that’s why she’s dear to me.

I didn’t know that I was going to start writing a blog, but then again I didn’t know I was going to start school again after a 20 years stint away from Portland State University.  In my head I’m living the life of a hot coed and in real life I am a mid-life, artist with a brain that’s still quite sharp (despite what you may have heard about women over 25) that’s got one foot in the Ed Sullivan Show and the other in YouTube.

Back to volcanos, I’ve been fortunate to see many volcanos and some of them were erupting and some of them weren’t.  Volcanos cannot be extinct because I’ve seen many of them, it’s the Do-Do bird I haven’t spotted.  I wonder if Do-Dos were spotted… how will we ever know?

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