Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And so it goes...

I was a stringer when I started in this business. I wrote stories about the happenings at Bonneville High School for The Post-Register in Idaho Falls and got paid a whopping $6 a week. I thought that was big money especially since I loved what I was doing and the clout it seemed to give me with my teachers and pals. That all seemed to think because my picture was in the paper I had power.
I tended to let them think that, by the way. In high school, you need all the help you can get.
Later on, I started working for The American Fork Citizen, again, as a stringer. I walked in and announced that I would be happy to write for them on my terms. I could come and go as I pleased and get paid when I turned in stories that ran.
For me, at that time, it was an ideal relationship. I had six small children and a husband who drove truck and was rarely home. I needed something to occupy my mind and places to be and go. The correspondence work was perfect. If I was so inclined I did a story. If I was not, the paper had no real hold over me.
Now, here I am, at 59 years of age, after working in the industry full-time for more or less 35 years and I'm going to be a stringer again.
The Deseret News has asked me to continue to supply copy (stories and pictures) after my departure on Dec. 31. I will be paid per piece and I can come and go as I please.
Hmmm. I like the come and go part. I like the being able to continue to write and review and take pictures part. I even like still being associated with the Des. News.
I'm just wondering about the fact that I've come full circle with only a slight raise in the pay.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

what to do, what to do

Just when I've reconciled myself to being unemployed after New Year's Eve, I get this little e-mail asking me to meet one of the CEOs on Monday.
I'm to be in his office at 11 a.m. with my immediate supervisor.
There's no clue as to what the topic of discussion will be but of course, my heart leapt.
Does this mean they're going to realize I'm indispensable after all?
Will they ask me to stay on and keep writing — something I love to do and count as something as necessary as breathing for me?
Or will they tell me it's time to get out?
Maybe they'll simply say "Stop blogging about this!"
The options are many and it makes my head hurt to consider some of them.
Now that I've seen the future picturing myself as a retired person living on a pittance, I'm not sure I can go back to looking at driving the commute from home to work for another several years.
It would take us, Marc and I, from facing an uncertain future together to a present that has me employed and him not, again. We've done that already.
It's a puzzle and kind of like getting a call from the ward executive secretary asking you to come in and see the bishop.
Your worst fears come to the forefront: teaching the teenagers or working in the nursery.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whipping out an oil painting

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for a Community Education Oil Painting class for beginners and intermediates.
I took a lot of art classes in high school, majored in art and communications in college and have always enjoyed art.
I thought, how hard can it be? Sure, I've never worked in oil but my son-in-law does beautiful work in the medium and he makes it look easy.
I picked out a picture, bought the paints and medium and brushes listed on the class supply list and headed out.
My first clue that perhaps I was in over my head came when I noticed that most of the people around me were planning to paint the apple and the orange and the banana on the table.
One lady was painting a vase.
I showed the teacher my picture, a landscape picture of two moose wading through a beautiful mountain lake with reflections in the water, trees on both sides and gorgeous, rugged mountains providing the backdrop.
She did a double take.
"Well," she said, "That's ambitious."
I plowed ahead.
First, we had to tone the canvas. I whipped out my Burnt Sienna and painted. Then I whipped out my rags and wiped it down. Even after serious wiping, my canvas was now a bright orange.
I came back the next week and tried painting the sky using a blue paint my teacher later told me was better suited to abstract and modernistic studies.
My teacher helped me tone it down.
Then I tried the water and again, the blue I'd chosen was way too bright.
Over the next few weeks, I learned a lot.
When working with oil, one works in layers and slowly. The paint has to dry and one works backwards.
After several weeks of hauling a painting in and out that looked very amateurish and odd, I finally pulled out my dark green oil and started painting leaves. At least I could do something that looked liked it would in the end.
I learned to add color to white rather than white to color.
I learned to carry along a big roll of paper towels because oil point migrates and travels.
I learned some patience and I've developed a whole lot of respect for my son-in-law and his work.
This is hard and although the end result of my effort is something I'm pleased with, I'm quite aware that I'm truly a beginner.
I love it but I'm a beginner.
At 59, that's something to admit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My father the teenager and grandkids he ought to meet

My elderly dad is proving to be a difficult parent.
He's evasive.
He doesn't do what he's told.
He's defiant and you never know for sure what's he's going to do next.
My brother and I feel like we've suddenly inherited an 87-year-old teenager.
Because the two of us live the nearest to him, it falls to us to help him now that he is no longer able to take care of himself. We need to get him to the doctor, the bank, the post office and the grocery store. There's also the barber shop, the library, the VA hospital and the church.
He can't drive himself although he's pretty sure he's still sufficiently able.
For years, he's been a pretty self-sufficient albeit disinterested father.
He came and went pretty much on a whim, only stopping by occasionally and briefly. He was not really into hanging around the grandchildren.
However, he was always quick to point out that a man's value can be measured by his grandchildren. (Apparently one has to skip the children. We're just so much chopped liver. Actually, that's come out more cynical than I intend. I know he means well when he says things like that.)
He's been a spendthrift and not too careful with his resources.
At one point, he bragged about running up credit card bills that he would never have to pay because he'd die and it'd be impossible to collect from him.
It's been somewhat worrisome but he was living his life and we were pretty much left to live ours.
Now that he's of an age and health that we're having to help him get anywhere he wants to go, things are different.
The doctors have told him not to drive. The Veteran's Administration has told him not to drive. Those who've ridden with him anywhere tell him not to drive.
But he's convinced that because the expiration date on his license says it's valid until 2012, he can drive despite the advice of experts. He's sure the VA examiner had it in for him (I was there when the poor guy had to tell him he missed pedestrians and road signs and backed up traffic behind him for blocks. His reaction time was 8 times slower than it should've been.)
So despite our best efforts as a family, we can't keep him from stealing the car and driving away.
My brother bought one car but there's another in the garage and when cabin fever gets too great, he and his wife slip out to nearby restaurants across busy roads and into heavy traffic.
What is a family to do?
You can ground a teenager, put a child in time out.
What do you do with a full-grown parent?
And what happens when I'm one of those?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The first of many

I'm calling this blog the first of many when in actuality it's the second of many blogs I intend to write. (I set up a blog months ago but lost the address, how brilliant is that?)
Since The Deseret News has determined I'm an expendable employee as of the end of December, I wanted to find a place where I can talk. My daughters and step-daughters all blog and I enjoy reading them so I have decided why not?
I can't talk about the workplace or the circumstances thereof just yet but I can talk about grandkids and husbands and children and ideas.
So this blog site will be a place for ideas, mostly about things to do and observations triggered by our grandchildren although since it's my place, it'll be open season for just about anything.
Hopefully, those of you who visit will come away enriched and enlightened or at least mildly entertained.
If I include any of you, I'll pay you a quarter for every time I use your name.
Years ago, when I wrote a column for the American Fork Citizen, my children lamented that they deserved to be paid for the many times they were embarrassed in public.
Little did they realize, I was paying the bills at the time with what I gleaned from their life experience.
I want to include tips for dealing with children and grandchildren and husbands, mostly what not-to-dos, based on my trial and error life.
But enough about beginning. Let's go, ready or not!