Monday, November 29, 2010

Day Six - A Midday Report

Day six is proving relatively uneventful, but not in a bad way.  I brought a coffee and lunch with me, so I'm keeping starvation at bay.  I've made myself 2 cups of herbal tea at my desk and am working away on my pile of worky, work, work.

I started the day nicely with a mindfulness class.  I am hoping that it will become increasingly useful and natural for me to use mindfulness.  I would enjoy, for example, being about to routinely do the dishes mindfully rather than full of anger and resentment at the universe for such a drag of a task.  In fact, it's all about what's in your head as you do dishes.  So, wish me luck with my next batch.  If I can just keep my mind on the dishes not the unfairness of doing dishes, it'll all be fine.

As far as No Spend Week goes, my main issue is that I am scraping the bottom of the barrel with my lip balms.  I'm desperate to get a new one.  I have about 3 used up tubes and I'm literally scraping up a bit of balm with a paper clip and putting it on my mouth.  I've had an addiction to lip balm since I was about 19 years old.  It's not going anywhere, so I need to plan better.  Last night I couldn't find my tube and I was forced to use dabs of olive oil.  It's a sickness.  On Wednesday I will be shopping for lip balm, spare lip balm, and back up to the spare lip balm.  (Incidentally, those were the three items I said I'd want on a deserted island).

Back to work,

xo Tara

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Five - No Spend Week

The sun has set on day five.  This was another day where my wife made my life easier.  I slept in, and she woke me with coffee and asked if she could treat me to a movie.  We went to see Harry Potter.  It was fun, but hard to end it in the middle of the book!  Does anyone know when the final film is coming out?

I'm doing creative cooking this evening; experimenting with the ingredients I have on hand and a couple of ideas my dad gave me on the phone.  I also have been working on some of my mindfulness homework, like trying to really be present for the experience of doing dishes or something mundane like that.  It was my stepmother's birthday today and I'm working on making her gift, which will come late along with her Christmas gift, which will hopefully come on time.

Last night was a very fun evening, and I'm considering my art form playing word games.  It did involve being creative, so hopefully that works for you.  Only two days to go until spending is once against sanctioned, whether or not it's affordable is another story :)


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day Four No Spend Week

Today is the hardest day so far.  My wife and I are going to visit with a new girl couple for the first time tonight at their place for a game's night. Since I don't know them well, I wish I could splash out and just buy stuff to bring.  Instead, I am having to cobble together snacks from what we have here (wish I hadn't already opened that brick of cheese, etc.), and figure out what to do about drinks.  Damn!  I should have picked up a bottle of wine or two for just such emergency social situations.

I think it will be fine and fun, and hopefully we will end up with some new pals to hang out with.  I think my wife is going to use the money I gave her when I turned my pockets inside out and gave her the contents - so I wouldn't be tempted to spend this week - to buy a couple of drinks to bring along.  She's not doing the challenge.  So, it's a bit of a cheat, but feels better than going to their place quite so empty handed as I might dare to with old friends.

In other news, I spent today organizing for an annual event for homeless women I am involved in for International Women's Day.  We were sorting our donations thus far to see how it's coming (the event is in March) and to separate out some of the inappropriate ones.  Sometimes donations are 'used' which we don't like for this party.  We want to only give the women new presents, so we divert used things, or things homeless women probably don't need at the shelter (like wine racks etc.) and also things with overt Christmas packaging, we send on to other agencies to use for Christmas parties.  As always, we end up coming home with a few cool things ourselves.  I got a sweet vintage clutch purse that one of our volunteers brought in and handed off to me personally - I think I'll dress like a girl tonight and bring it!  I also got a yellow Sony Walkman cassette player.  I'm very delighted with this, having just read how they finally killed the Walkman.  I sure hope it works.  I am looking forward to walking down the street or riding the subway while rocking my Walkman.

Art for today:  I haven't decided.  I'll have to let you know tomorrow.  It will either be more knitting, or else some writing.

xo Tara

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day Three of No Spend Week

We are struggling a little with some clarification issues for our week of not spending.  We did not proactively address the thorny issue of spending in the workplace/volunteer place.  In retrospect, I could have thought this through more beforehand. But let's say that, when unavoidable, spending on a direct work function with money from work is not cheating.  And volunteering is really just unpaid work (so it should be included in a broader definition of work).

But it does not sanction the stuff we spend at work just to make it through the day like buying fancy coffees, chocolate bars, cabs because we slept in, or new shoes etc.

Hope that makes sense to everyone. 

Today I got off lucky with a friend making me a delicious free lunch.  Tonight I'm looking forward to my brother-in-law making me American Thanksgiving Dinner.  To both events I arrive empty-handed but, I like to think, full-hearted.  And oh so thankful for the kindness of others.

xo Tara

Day 26 of Art Every Day month will be more slipper knitting :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No Spend Week - Day Two

Well, today was tough and easy in different ways.

It started with my wife looking at me with alarm and commenting how tired I looked.  It was true, I'd had almost 10 hours sleep but still looked like I'd flown in on the red eye from really far away.  Not sick still, but just not fully well yet.  It was also one of those days that gets slightly high jacked out from under you, where you are running from thing to thing. And someone else keeps adding to your to-do list.  Every time you get a chance to have a glance, it's grown.  A bit like those nightmares I used to have working at the Keg restaurant.  I'd go back to my section after picking up some one's coffee, and bizarrely my section now stretched into the horizon, with no end in sight.  All the tables suddenly full of angry people banging their forks and knives and yelling for service.  Such an unrestful dream to wake from.  We called them Keg-mares.

But actually, today wasn't quite that bad, only that it felt so very full. And any time I thought I had a breather, someone had snuck another major thing into my schedule.  But while the day was busy, it was also really interesting and parts of it were even fun.

I got to take a cab today using a work taxi chit, so I got the luxury without the spending.  And since I was racing from work thing to work thing, my conscience is clean.

I do have a grey area work situation to relate from today though, spending wise.  At my part time job an event was planned where my coworker and I would take some tenants out for soup and tea this evening.  Our usual cooking group was not happening, so it was a kind of healthy, free meal late in the month for our low income folks.  My coworker (who does this job full time) hauled out her company MasterCard to pay.  (I only do the job part time so I don't get a MasterCard - I just have to submit receipts.)  It turns out the diner did not accept it. She had no cash, so I had to put the soups on my debit card.  I don't like that it happened, but I am choosing to view it as a technicality.  I will submit the receipt to work and get reimbursed. So if I want to get really nit picky, I would say I was spending work's money, just in advance.

Feel free to throw rotten tomatoes at me if you disagree!

And, I got to end my day with Art!  I'm calling it art, but in a court of law it might not hold up.  You can decide:  I sang karaoke - several songs - and I'm not known for my singing skills.  So, it was brave, creative (?), and a bit against the grain.  But I got encore requests from the generous audience, so it was easier than it could have been.

I'm off to unwind before Friday.

xo Tara

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not Spending, Day One

Yee Haw!  I still have loads of provisions and fizzy water, so aside from feeling sick like a dog with flu, I'm still riding high on a wave of optimism for No Spend Week. Thanks for joining in, ladies.  Please report back on how it's going with y'all. 

That was my glass half full side talking.  My glass half empty side would have loved to take a cab today, between my aching guts and my four overflowing bags 'o stuff I dragged into work with me.  It would also like to take a cab back home again, but I'm not listening to my half empty side just now. 

No money to spend makes it easier to not spend this week, and also means more time to devote to art every day month. Yet another benefit.

So, I'm cutting out because I need to take it easy and recuperate. 

For Art: I'll be doing some brainstorming for a bit of my sister's novel as art tonight. Kind of like 'guest hosting' in her writing. 

Oh!  I had a really nice gift today.  A bit box arrived and I thought it was a delivery of flip chart paper.  It turned out it was a very cool painting from my work wife (who I left in September when I started my new gig), Shannon.  It is a big 3D black heart, cleaved in two, and sewn up with red laces.  It is on a purple backdrop and has the caption, 'You broke my heart'.  I showed it to all my new coworkers to let them know how popular and missed I am at my old job so they will think I'm cool. It's pretty awesome. I miss having a work wife, but these guys are very nice to me. Too bad I don't have a camera at work.

xo Tara

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Spend Week Is Here at Midnight!!!


Between making Art Every Day, having a 2 year wedding anniversary, and working two jobs, I can safely say that it took a Herculean effort today to get ready for No Spend Week which starts tomorrow - as in midnight.  I got home from a busy outing with job number two, grabbed my granny cart (that my own mother refuses to be seen with) and hustled out to No Frills to get groceries and some Lubriderm for my wife's new tattoo.  I also squeezed into the liquor store just before closing to grab a bottle.  We have two parties to go to this weekend.  We may need to ration it out in wine skins.  Anyway, I am safely back home, knackered and still have to do some prep for work at main job tomorrow.  I am starting a new group, and am a bit nervous about it, plus my days at New Job (a.k.a. main job) are seriously busy so prep time is limited there.

Let me introduce you to my fearless and noble comrades in this journey:

1. Tena, my twin, who will likely find this challenge very challenging.  No offense, Sister.

2. Rollerscrapper, who I am delighted is joining us, and is a new online pal.  Her blog is very fun and eye-catching.  She's also very crafty - I am going to get more tips out of her re: my own crafting, and she just bought a house days ago...

3. Stella, who is a regular on this blog, does not have her own blog.  She is very cool and was the friend who lent/gave me 'How To Be Free' by Tom Hodgkinson.  She enthusiastically replied to the call: "I'm in!"

4. Jo, who is new to me and also blogless, joins us writing: "Okay, I can do this too.  I don't have a blog though.  I had a look at my spending spreadsheet and the last week when I bought NOTHING was the first week of August.  I checked my calendar (prompted by Tena's comment) and I *think* the garden guy will skip that week but if he does mow my lawn during the challenge, I'll need an exception to pay him on the same day.' (My advice is to mail him the money tonight before midnight or else next Tuesday at midnight :))

5. Elizabeth, who also has a great blog 'chronicling a year outside the mall'.  How perfect for our challenge and what a great person for me to connect to this year while I am also avoiding malls like the plague!

6. Moi.  If you're reading this, you probably know a bit about me, but if not, this is my second No Spend Week this year, and I'm also almost 11 months into a year of not buying anything new.  My original No Spend Week inspiration is Consumption Rebellion, and I joined her similar challenge in April and you can read more about my call to arms for tomorrow's challenge here.

As far as No Spend Week goes, by now you may know the drill, but here goes:

We are not spending anything from midnight tonight until Tuesday Nov. 30th at midnight.  A full week of not being consumers.  It will foster creativity, bartering, and learning to be satisfied with what we have. Hopefully.  It may also bring on anger, boredom, frustration, and the evil eye from our spouses.  But, I think it's a worthwhile endeavour.  It also covers Buy Nothing Day, which you may consider participating in even if you are not doing the week-long-haul with us.

Keep your fingers crossed for us and if you see us looking parched and desperate, maybe offer to buy us a fizzy water...

P.S. for Art Every Day, I'm knitting on my slippers for gifts.  And just for you, this treat from my American pal, David Monteith, who was inspired to share after my example of Haiku.  Thanks for sharing David.

Art Every Day, my friends.  It's everywhere.  It's in you to give:

Heard you been writing some haikus.
I'm a big fan of the form.
I wrote this one on the subway a couple of days ago.  Thought you might like it.

Sadly, I just learned
I'm not the only one who
farts in subway cars.

~David M

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cotton Anniversary Arrives

At midnight last night we decided to begin our anniversary celebrations. Today is our 2 year, 'Cotton Anniversary'.

As you know, I haven't been buying anything new this year, but am allowed to get supplies for do-it-yourself projects.  So I thought the floppy hat thing was going to be a perfect gift, thematically appropriate; labour intensive and loving enough.  As you can see by the photo where I am modeling the hat, (taken after soaking it in 4 kettles of boiling water and drying it on high for 2 hours), it is still big enough to be a toilet seat cover.  I will be making another hat for my wife, but I need to get a lesson in what went wrong.  I know our heads aren't that small.  I may use it for a thinking cap.  Inspiration and plenty of room for brain growth.

I scrambled for another cotton gift, and decided to make a pillow with a couple of old favourite t-shirts.  One side is from a t-shirt that we got on our honeymoon that is like an old tattoo that says 'Love is all', the other side of the pillow is from the first 'Cheap Queers' show my wife took me to.  It's an outrageous, annual comedy and anything goes show during Pride Week.  The cost is kept ridiculously low (I think the tickets were $6.49) and they make shirts that they stamp their this-year's-logo on, from a pile culled from thrift stores.  Actually 'Cheap Queers' is also thematically appropriate to me not spending a lot this year.  I even got some buttons that looked like old fashioned tattoos.  Dawn used images of old tattoos as inspiration when making decorations for our wedding way back two years ago.

So that was my cotton part, and then I wanted to do something else but one of my high tech creative projects is 'stalled in post-production'.  A fancy way of me saying I need to haul my butt out and get a tutorial from someone other that my wife so it can be a treat for her.  I ended up making a funny, not so complicated animation video for her (from a website).  Since I'm not buying anything, I chose the only two 'free' characters from the human-looking options.  They happened to be one male and one female.  They were sitting at an anchor desk, and I thought that was kind of cool, since hey, our wedding might be considered 'newsworthy' on our anniversary.

(Speaking of Newsworthy, here's a little article from the Toronto Star about our wedding.  There are a couple of errors, as in it was my first foray into online dating, and my dress had a gold thread, but the warmth and gist of it were very sweet.)

Back to my animation debut: I gave both my cartoon characters female British accents, since my wife loves a British Lady Voice.  And then I created an animated video of our wedding vows.  It gets better.  The day before the big reveal, I showed it to my twin sister, since I was so proud. With some surprise, she asked me why I chose Larry King's signature stage set, and picked Larry King and Sarah Palin to 'read' our vows.  As you might gather, I don't watch much News TV.  She pulled up Larry King's show on the television, and sure enough, it looks just like it's cartoon version.  The video of our vows is almost 4 minutes in length, and it was pretty hysterical to watch Larry and Sarah mouth our words like Girlish British Robots.  But, I guess in truth, if I'd realized that's who they were, I'd probably have gone with the bunny and cat characters. But it got a good laugh, and my wife cracked up, especially about the fact that I didn't even realize who I was 'casting'.

I gave Dawn my homemade gifts first and she was suitably delighted. She went last; I'd sensed her gift might be 'bigger' than mine and thought some dramatic waiting and build-up was in order.

Dawn was clearly chomping at the bit to show me her gift.  She kept asking, 'Are you sure you don't know what I got you?'  And I genuinely did not have a clue.  (The real tattoo is not reversed as in the pic below, but after trying to make it work forever, I decided to go with this so it could get posted while it's still our anniversary)

Tonight she has an audition and a show, and we will revisit the site of our first date afterwards to toast our  marriage and inspired courtship.

So happy anniversary to me and she.
xo Tara

p.s.: No Spend Week starts on Wednesday, so I (and my fellow participants) have two shopping days to get sorted for that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Creative Cooking

I spent the day in bed after about a 90 minute stint at work.  It wasn't working for me, I felt pretty cruddy.  Not to worry, I feel much better after a session with my Neti Pot, followed by a long nap.   It is a very strange sensation to pour saline into one nostril until it comes out the other, but soothing nonetheless.

When I got up I decided to combine art and cooking by trying out a new recipe from Budget Bytes.  This was a pasta with butternut squash, spinach and blue cheese.  I improvised because I like my food more chunky and was too lazy to puree the squash after roasting it in tiny bites in the oven.  It turned out rich and sweet and savory and delicious to both of us.

I was able to share a laugh with my wife when I showed her my original anniversary gift.  I knit her a 'floppy hat' out of organic cotton (year two is the 'cotton' anniversary).  It turned out about the size of a toilet bowl cover and I haven't had a change to get a tutorial and retry it.  We both had a laugh as she tried it on and it came down over her shoulders.  I'm going to try and shrink it.  I did stay up late last night making her another kind of creative gift.  It will be a surprise for our actual anniversary date on Monday, November 22nd.  I'll share more with you then.

Okay, I'm off to bond with two of my sisters.  One is in town briefly and we are meeting up at my twin's house.  There will likely be more arts and crafts there as well as hanging out and having a laugh.

Happy Friday,
xo Tara

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resources Depleted

I'm feeling a bit under the weather, like my resources are depleted. Kind of sniveling and sorry for myself.  So, I must admit, I took the easy way out by again using the hi/lo art form of Haiku today.

I am considering rebranding it as a new therapeutic modality. Therapeutic Haiku.  Cure for writer's block, the common cold, and whatever ails you.  Give it a shot.

Must get some sleep.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 17 of Art Every Day Month - Poetic Plums


It's getting late so I won't tarry long.  To be frank, I still have to do my mindfulness homework, -- a 30+ minute body scan.  But I will check in re: my day and my day's art.

The day was good and creepy.  An education session about Bed Bugs at job 2 in the a.m.  Then off to job 1 for the p.m.  Busy, Busy, Busy.  Then back to job 2 for evening part of p.m.  It could have been fun -- a film festival, but one gal who showed immediately got a scary nosebleed that wouldn't let up.  I ended up bringing her to emergency.  Ended okay eventually, but no film fest, and much blood later.

For art, I decided to go tres simple.  I took a stack of cue cards and decided to write some haiku between shifts in that tiny window of opportunity from 5:15pm to 6:00pm.  It's kind of funny because a novel I just finished (The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker) has a main character who is a poet that speaks a bit dis-ingly of haiku. I can't remember why. He also calls a poem that doesn't rhyme a 'plum' not a 'poem'.  But it seemed like a quick and easy idea.  As it turned out the structure and brevity lent themselves well to me being creative in a short window of time.  I wrote 20 haiku poems during less than 45 minutes.  The Fast and the Furious, my friends.  The structure is 3 lines: 5 syllable/7 syllable/5 syllable.

I know you want a sample, so here goes:

Read a book that did
nothing to promote the form
of Haiku as art.

At Zeller's last night
got the bargain of the day.
Clerks all atwitter.

Clandestine beer in
between shifts.  Waiting for the
Mill whistle to blow.

Today is the day
that draws a line in the sand.
10 months till quit date.

My novel sits in
clear blue plastic waiting for
me to dive back in.

Lauren is moving
across our world to be with
the boy who loves her.

Mom carries in her
backpack a letter which resigns
her to peace of mind.

Fifteen bucks burning
a metaphorical hole.
Time for second pint.

and the list goes on...


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

6 Takers So Far

With 7 full shopping days left until NO SPEND WEEK begins on Wed. the 24th of November, I have 6 takers thus far!  You still have a week to commit if you are on the fence...As for me, I am so happy to have some company on this and look forward to hearing people's updates as we go.

I did make that long awaited health purchase today.  You may remember I said a while back I was going to be buying white runners for working in buildings with bed bugs.  It was recommended as the best way to spot them and prevent them from traveling on your clothing etc.  Ugh. Well, the cheapest comfortable ones I could find at Zeller's were $49.95.  I brought them with a heavy heart up to the cash.  I knew I had to have them for my peace of mind and my aching back at work.  Well, I'm still cackling with delight over what happened.  They scanned at $5.00.  The sales clerk double checked then called her supervisor who scuttled off.  She came back and said, 'She gets them for $5, but get the rest of them off the shelves now!'  Two stock boys were dispatched post haste to get my bargain shoes off the shelves and all the nearby cashiers came over to examine the shoes and shake their heads and exclaim, 'You sure got lucky!'  I've become a bit of a cheapskate about spending this year, so this definitely tickled me.

For art everyday month, I'll catch you up on yesterday and today.  I've begun a mindfulness course, so part of my homework is doing things mindfully, which I've discovered kind of turns everything into art.  I will be mindfully making some spaghetti sauce shortly...  But in a more traditional fashion, I've been furiously and artfully knitting away the last two days.  I plan to do more once I'm done blogging, before I start cooking.  I've also got homework of doing a body scan meditation daily until next Monday's class.  It is interesting to note how much our minds wander when we try to focus on our body or our breathing or the present.  Also, it ends up being quite deeply relaxing, which is not the purpose, so I have to work a hard at times not to doze off during it.  But, ending up feeling relaxed, intentionally or not, I am all for.

My efforts at upping my non-passive leisure are continuing as well as my friend outreach.  I've had lunch with one coworker-friend last week and will have lunch with another this week.  I'm also meeting up with 3 coworker-friends for after work drinks and catch up on Friday, then seeing two sisters later on.  The countdown is also on for my two year anniversary and I am busily working on some sweet little plans for that.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Update

Hey there,

No Spend week is fast approaching and so far I have Tena, Stella, and Jo joining me for it!  That is great.  It's never too late until it starts.  In the meantime, we have two weeks to get through and that week to plan for.  Jo, if you are able, a tip I used, was to pay for things either before the week or after.  i.e.: I paid a little late for a couple of things, and in one instance paid someone before they did the thing so I was not spending during my time period.

In other news I really got my art on this weekend!  Friday I knit a lot until my hands were sore and I was no longer experimenting with being well rested.  I also took on a fun assignment from my sister.  She asked me to pinch hit some ideas for her novel to give examples that would make a character lovable and friendly.  I brainstormed some examples to get her started.  It was fun to have a specific, novel thing to work on over the day.

Saturday we went out of town and my wife taught as arranged by friends who own a theatre school in Peterborough.  We got the b & b experience staying with them, and I got the long awaited, somewhat feared experience of being a participant in a workshop of my wife's (on the fundamentals of stand-up).  It was all women and we really connected and did some interesting and creative work and also got a joke or two out of it.  I've been wanting to be a fly on the wall in the class, and Dawn said I had to participate if I came, and I'm sooo glad I did.  I was glad I didn't let self consciousness hold me back.

Today's art has been more knitting.  I have a lot to do to make Christmas gifts.  I couldn't find pillow stuffing at the store I was at, so my t-shirt pillows are on hold.

I'm dropping in my traces, so I'll keep this brief.  Have a great night,

xo Tara

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Spend Week Challenge

Guys, I need some other people in the universe to try this challenge with me.  It creates a sense of community, camaraderie, and also energy about making it to the finish line.

So, I'll be laying down the gauntlet right about now:

No Spend Week runs from Wed. Nov. 24th - thru until midnight on Tues. Nov. 30th.  Another benefit is that it will include Buy Nothing Day, Nov. 26th, traditionally the biggest spending day in North America.

The rules are that for the duration of No Spend Week you do not spend ANY money.  The only exceptions are: automatic bill payment that comes out of your account on a certain date, or a genuine health crisis.  If you actually need to buy crutches that week, we are not going to count it against you.

That's right, this week involves that dread concept:  Planning in Advance.  If you plan in advance, you can make sure that you have all the things you Need to survive and even thrive during No Spend Week.

This will help with one of the big benefits we get from participating in such a wildly unpopular challenge.  That is, getting a sense of how much we take spending on our whims and wants for granted.  Not only will you learn about your own cravings (we notice them much more when we don't succumb to them in milliseconds-much like postponing a cigarette), you will learn some self sufficiency.  You will definitely save money.  You may reach out to others.  You may do things you have been putting off or not gotten around to (i.e.: catch up with family or neighbours, clean the house, cook a massive batch of nail soup from the far recesses of your cupboards, read a whole book, etc.).  You will discover the power of not needing to be a consumer.

Just in time for Buy Nothing Day, you can cheerfully stick it to the man by NOT giving in to the relentless onslaught of advertisements that try to make you dissatisfied with who and what you are.  You may even achieve enlightenment, nirvana, and ... Hmmm, I can't think of another lofty, somewhat unlikely, but still kind of groovy goal.  But you know what I mean.

If you want to participate, let me know and I will post a summary of who all's in, and if you are blogging about it, a link to your blog so people can check out your progress.

You have nothing to lose except your status as a consumer.  For more motivation to get off the consumption treadmill see: The Story of Stuff video; Tom Hodgkinson's book 'How to Be Free'; or your online bank statement!

So, lemme know if you want in.  The more the merrier.

To read a little about my last No Spend Week experiment back in March check this out...and this and this and this.  Basically a series of my posts between March 24 and April 2nd or so.  It was worthwhile enough to do again.

xo Tara

P.S.: in Art Everyday news:  I am going to watch female comedy students my wife teaches perform their 'class show' of stand-up tonight.  Rah Rah, Comedy Girl :)  I will be doing some writing of my own before the show begins.  I still have to put some sweat equity into that blasted joke about the guy in the droopy drawers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Can Do Anything, But I Can't Do Everything

I walked home tonight with my amazing coworker.  She's the woman that I decided to shake up my work life (to be able to come to this new job and get to work with) for a year.  An incredibly energetic, positive, knowledgeable force of nature.  She walks to and from work EVERY day.  To give this some context, I'm feeling proud for getting in 3 such walks (either to or fro, but not both) in a row.  She has worked in mental health for around 3 decades without getting burnt out or jaded.  She is cutting edge, cool, and great to talk to.  And she is the person who recently taught me the great title of this post.  I said, 'I think you can do anything!' and she replied, 'I can do anything.  But I can't do everything.'  She sets a few limits.  But it's also pretty empowering to think you can do anything, if you pace yourself and put your mind to it.  I've been embracing this motto along with my efforts to: do art daily, not spend, do more non-passive leisure, etc.  So, I guess the take home message is to be gentle with myself, while still working to be a work in progress.  To not be stagnant.

Also, I am always reminded of the urgency of doing, being, becoming.  I don't want to postpone happiness until I have spare time.  I might never have spare time.  So, I keep inching my way, in more or less, the right direction.  Hopefully.  Art for tonight will be a pleasure.  I will be working on finishing a knitted gift for someone as I simultaneously enjoy watching a movie my wife downloaded for me: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, in case you're wondering.

I'm looking forward to squeezing in a 4th walk in a row, and to getting out of town this weekend to somewhere with a bit more nature.  My wife will be teaching out of town and I'm going to tag along and use the time to work on my own writing projects.

The days are zooming by and I have only 51 days to go to make it to the end of my buy-nothing-new year.  Pretty cool.

xo Tara

Art of Showing Up

Hi there,

I ended up doing the not-so-conventional art of babysitting last night.  A good friend asked me to pinch hit at the last minute.  So my art for the day ended up being not what I intended.  I feel good about helping out a pal and also I walked to work yesterday and the day before, for a grand total of 2 days in a row.  This is just 19 days short of a new good habit, if my sources are correct.

Monday's art was more on track.  I worked on one of my jokes from last week while I was waiting for my wife's comedy show at the Rivoli to start.  Part of art, I'm told, is just showing up and working on the stuff you've got.  Sometimes that is harder work than just pulling ideas out of thin air, but worthy of effort and necessary.  My seedling joke still needs lots of wordsmithing.  It's interesting how what makes me laugh out loud about that guy with the droopy drawers doing the hip-hop walk down the street is so hard to put into words.

I've started making social plans for my No Spend Week.  The plans need to be at people's homes, unless they are free events, or else my temptation-resistance skills will be tested severely.  Also, when I run out of supplies at home (or get bored of my choices) visiting others will be a way to get me some variety.  Particularly in the food and beverage categories.  I remember the harrowing events of my last No Spend Week where I had to fling myself on the mercy of others to get fizzy water more than once.

Talk to you soon,
xo Tara

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nov.8 Art is Everywhere

Hi there,

Still haven't bought anything new, sticking to my guns and all that jazz.

Yesterday my art was more knitting and this time I did it with one of my most creative knitter friends, Su.  She does things like create gnome villages and felt them, as well as knit me a gorgeous shawl for my birthday, etc.  So I was able to combine some friend outreach with some crafting. 

As for today, I walked to work, and walking through Parkdale and Dundas West areas I noticed how much art is on the go everywhere.  I'm still not too sure what kind of art I'll make of today, but I am doing a couple of artsy things, though they don't really count, since I'm being an audience member.  I'm going to check out 4 artists talk about their mental health experiences and how it's related to their art as part of the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival.  A very cool and free event.  The films in it are amazing, varied, and very reasonably priced.  Apres artist talk, I'm going to watch some pay-what-you-can comedy.  I'm sure these events will inspire me to something artistic.  And, if it's not something brand new, I still have novel editing and knitting to finish up.

I guess I need to get crack-a-lacking on my No Spend Week.  I haven't had any feedback from Consumption Rebellion and I see she just posted after a long while away.  I've just sent her a note.  I'd like do do my No Spend Week from Nov. 23 or 24 for a week.  A firm commitment and specifics to follow soon!


Saturday, November 6, 2010


Day 6 of art everyday month.  And a just plain nice day.  I had brunch with sissy junior (the pet name for all of our baby sisters).  Our sister and her beau were in town so we had lunch at a locovore type place near me.  We also got to hang out with our youngest cousin.  The one who is about 40 years younger.  Pretty cute.

Then, we got to party with my great aunt Joan and her friend Georgina.  They came to visit my wife and I.  My twin came too.  This time we got to be the 40-years-younger ones.  Well, not quite 40, but you get the gist.  I made them dinner while we got their news.  I also got gifted a bunch of extra knitting needles in sizes I didn't have, a nice new candle, and some tips on how to make slippers.  I had lost the pattern I had scribbled from when my Nanny showed me back in January.  Great aunt Joan wrote out the pattern - she knew it by heart. The ladies knit while I cooked up a 'salt-free supper'.  It turned out very well.  I made my own shake and bake with bread crumbs, lemon zest, Mrs. Dash, and dried oregano; plus I tried a mushroom rice recipe and roasted a whack of vegetables in the oven.

Having my great aunt Joan over was very nice, but a little sad.  She is the youngest sister of my Nanny, who died in June and sometimes when she laughs she looks  a lot like her.  I also showed her our wedding album.  My 2 year anniversary is coming up.  I have a few regrets about only coming out to her recently, and therefore she was not included in our wedding etc.  I was too chicken to talk to her about it for a long time - afraid she'd tell my very religious grandmother, her sister.  I probably will never be sure I did right by not telling Nanny such an important thing about myself, but we'll never know.  We did have a sweet relationship to the last, so that is something.  And in the meantime, I am renewing a real relationship with full disclosure with Aunt Joan.  We can make life so complicated.  Or so simple.

I guess for today's art a few things went down.  I cooked artfully, since I tried a new recipe.  Also, after everyone went off, I hauled out my little bedazzling jewelry tin and made a couple of pairs of  earrings in black and silver.  Not too flashy, not too complicated, but they fill a definite gap in my earring wardrobe.  It's harder than you'd think to try and take a visible picture of your earrings.  Now I'm going to sit back with my feet up and a hot drink and work on some more knitting.

At Stitch and Bitch last night, we had fun and stayed up too late.  I got to teach my sister's roommate David to knit and how to make my famous t-shirt scarf.  Our knitting friends joked that since he's new in town he obviously didn't have many options for his Friday night.  But he was a great sport about it.  My friend Sarah said she thought I was doing a lot with working so much and then trying to do all this daily hobby craft kind of stuff.  But I think it's been paying off with me feeling good this month.  If all I do is collapse after work then I don't get to enjoy any richness out of my time. All the good stuff I do is for the office or others.  I'm definitely enjoying feeling like a creator in my small micro way.  Starting to create a pile of homemade gifts for Christmas.  I'd better get the word out to all my relations so they don't buy me a car or something then feel stiffed when they get their fuzzy, woolly, handcraft from me. 

xo Tara

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nov. 5th the Art of Knitting

That's right.  It's that magical time again - tonight is Stitch and Bitch at Jennifer's house.  A rotating location with a core cast of skilled, hilarious, and even tattooed lovelies. I will be hanging with all my knitty friends and hopefully getting neck deep in a delicious new project.  I will make sure to put up a photo when it's done.  So, for today, art is easy, since I don't have to think up what I'm doing, I know and I am looking forward to it.

I did get to shop today, because according to my own Ground Rules established in December 2009 for my year of nothing new, I decreed that occasional supplies for do-it-yourself crafts like knitting or sewing were sanctioned, but that the bulk of these tasks should be done using recycled/found etc. supplies.  I've pretty much honoured that. I don't think I've bought yarn once this year until today.  And I must admit it felt like a treat to buy something pretty and new and sashay out of the store with it in my bag. 

Tonight, I will be making something new, from a pattern.  Thank goodness I've got spotters at S & B to keep me on track.  Hopefully once I've made the prototype following the specs precisely, I can find more ways to improvise on that theme using my stash of free yarn. 

It's quitting time at work. I can almost hear the mill whistle blowing.  In Corner Brook, Newfoundland the whistle from the pulp and paper mill is heard all through town and helps regulate people (mill workers or not) in various aspects of their day whether it's time to pick the kids up, time to head home from the park for supper, or time to book out of your shift etc.  I'm not in Corner Brook, but it's moments from 5pm, so I'll bid you a lovely Friday night and talk to you soon.

xo Tara

Nov. 4th Art AND my 200th post!

Wow, guys.  This is my 200th post.  That's got a sweet bit of substantiality to it, don't you think?  Anyway, I'm high five-ing myself as I write this, just so you know.

This has been an interesting day on many levels.  I worked hard, and as part of second job ended up attended an event for the Holocaust Education Week hosted at St. James' Cathedral.  It was called my Grandmother's Musical Testimony, and was a combination of video testimony and songs (sung and played by incredible musicians) depicting her experience surviving the holocaust.  So moving and emotional and informative.  It is my first time attending, and I was very struck by the young man who is a doctor who wrote this musical tribute during his university and residency.

I decided for my Art today to do 2 things.  One was cook.  For me, it is more 'artful' to cook using a recipe, because I try something new and get excited.  So, I tried another recipe from Budget Bytes.  My wife came home and sung it's praises so much it was almost comical.  And it was a kind of art.  But I also wanted to do something simple, more straight up artsy, and not too time consuming.  I did a 'focused free write' using as a prompt a sentence chosen at random from a page chosen at random from the novel I am currently enjoying.  Thanks to Zoe Whittall for writing 'Holding Still For as Long as Possible'.  I am loving it.  I ended up landing on this sentence on page 103:
"I love you too," I said back to her, rotating my glass and watching the syrup swirl and wave.
I haven't actually gotten that far in the novel yet, which maybe good for my own creative writing.  What I can tell you about her writing is this:  READ IT.

xo Tara

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Art is Jokes

The Internet was on the fritz last night, so I'm only able to post now.  I wanted to tell you about day three of art every day November.  I decided that, since after work I was going to a comedy show my wife was performing stand up in yesterday, I would write jokes for my 'art'.  It seemed thematically appropriate and a fun stretch.

The only time I have purposely written jokes before was for our wedding show almost two years ago (a few of which I ended up getting up and spontaneously sharing in Stage Time last month).  That time I laboured for two months in the writing and was very nervous and pressured.  Yesterday, my goal was to pull ideas from what I saw on the way to the show, or else just think about what was going on for me in general.   It was fun - almost like a game.  I had 5 'seedling' ideas by the time I was eating my supper and sipping on a drink waiting for the show to start.  I ended up with 2 jokes and 3 things to look at another day.

Since you've been kind enough to visit this page, I'll share one with you, but be generous.  I'm a novice.

Sometimes you notice things in your life that seem to point to the passage of time.  For example, I used to get pretty excited about putting on a leather kilt and going out to a fetish party.  Now, I get excited if I can use up all the vegetables in the fridge before they go bad.  

Anyway, let's see what today brings me.  I'm looking forward to it.

I got lots of compliments on my new t-shirt scarf yesterday.  And my great aunt, who is coming to visit for knitting and dinner on Saturday just called to offer me some extra knitting needles, so I'm going to go through what I've got and tell her the gaps in my collection so perhaps she can fill then for me, so I won't need to buy new ones...

xo Tara

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 2nd Photo Update for Upcycled T-shirt

I just turned a blue one of these:

Into one of these:

Using only my hands and a pair of scissors, in less than an hour.  You can't really see how long it is, but it looks great with a coat too.

Yay.  Daily art mission accomplished.

xo TaraPublish Post

November 2nd Upcycling as an Art Form

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because it's 10:45 pm and I've yet to get down to arting up today.  Well, not entirely true.  I've done some editing of my novel, which is somewhat arty.  I also wrote a 'sample prose paragraph' being as artistic as possible for my sister to use as a demo for her grade 6 English class.  The topic was the Chilean Miners and I had to try and write using a variety of sentence openers.  Kind of fun, but not really my own project.

Today's art:  a t-shirt transformation.  I'll put up a picture when it's done.  I'm using a pattern from a book I have here.  This kind of upcycling fits very well thematically with a year of not buying anything new.  Take the stuff you've got and magically transform it!


Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1st

November first is a day to celebrate twofold.  Today marks 10 successful months of me not buying anything new.  Yee Haw.  Also, today is the first day of my 'November is Art Every Day Month' goal. 

For today, my art began on the bus with enjoying reading the 'manuscript' from my 4 years-in-hibernation novel.  Such a great way to spend the bus ride compared to feeling crowded and grumbly in the morning.  But, I will end my day with actually creating 'art'.  I will be writing on the novel (cleverly working titled 'My First Novel') picking up where I left off 92 months or so ago.

Feeling decadent, all I've had for supper is chocolate from coworkers, and I'm going to go to a pub to do my writing once I get off work.

xo Tara