Like the rest of the nation, I watched the devastation of Hurricane Ian in Florida and up the coast this week with a mixture of sympathy, terror and awe. What would you do? What could you do to prepare? The scale of this natural catastrophe is beyond comprehension. But there are a few things you can do to help during an emergency situation.
First of all, you need a GO bag, or BOB (bug out bag). This is usually in the form of a backpack filled with some essential tools and equipment. You can buy variations of these emergency kits ready-made online or make your own. These can be tailored to your location, climate and season. Keep in mind the weight as you don’t know how long or far you may need to carry this.
I would definitely take a power bank which is already charged or can be charged from a solar-powered charger. Both of these items come in various sizes and weights. Add a solar-powered charger. And don’t forget your charging cords.
Then some rechargeable light source. Either free-standing or a headlamp so your hands will be free.
A portable radio, either rechargeable or hand-cranked.
A paper map. If the power grid goes down, your GPS won’t work. Familiar terrain may look totally different after a major event so a map could help.
Some cash money, as all the ATMs will be down if no power, as will the credit card machines.
Some high protein food, power bars, trail mix, etc. Water and / or containers, or even purification tablets.
Other items that may prove helpful would be a poncho or large trash bag, some smaller resealable bags, utensils, such as a knife or pot. Disposable lighters. Essential medications, or first aid kit. Good shoes and maybe a change of clothes. Copies of essential paperwork or at least an electronic copy on a water-proof flash drive.
As you can tell, the list is endless. It all depends upon the circumstances, the type of emergency you are expecting, and how long you expect to be on your own. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, earthquake or any number of man-made disasters. You should be able to grab your bag and get out of Dodge in about fifteen minutes.
There are some excellent websites out there, as well as some informative books. One of my favorites is Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag by Creek Stewart. You can learn a few emergency survival skills without becoming a total prepper.
A little preparation and knowledge can provide you with the confidence you may need when faced with a difficult situation wherever you live.
We were poor growing up so I don’t know how to handle money.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? What is your personal narrative? What stories do you tell yourself….or worse yet, allow others to say about you that may not be true?
I was having a conversation with someone the other day that I’ve known for years but whom I rarely hang out with much since we left school. He made a remark about how I am shy or some such. I let it slide but it suddenly dawned on me that he doesn’t know me at all. Where did he come up with this story and, more importantly, why do I allow someone else write my personal narrative for me?
I haven’t been shy since I hid behind the door when I was a toddler. In fact, I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t fear public speaking at all. I ran for office in school, worked for one of the world’s largest companies, have given numerous presentations on stage, in groups, on TV and radio. Nope, no butterflies.
This led me to ponder what other narratives do I allow people to attach to me? Or do I tell myself?
What stories do you tell yourself? Were you known as the smart sibling? Or the trouble-maker? The hard worker or the messy one? Sometimes we tell stories on ourselves or allow other people to define us. Maybe we were never like that. Maybe we tripped once, but are we really a klutz?
So, what should we do if someone starts telling our personal narrative for us? First, I think it’s appropriate to spend a little time thinking about those boxes that people have put us in, and be ready to stop the narrative. You don’t have to jump all over the person – maybe they’re just trying to find some common ground – but be ready to explain that you’re not really like that. That you haven’t run into a door since you were sixteen. But also, don’t let them argue with you. Maybe they’re more comfortable when they have you in that box even if it isn’t true. Just shrug and smile. Or give them a good long stare. They’ll get the hint.
And then give some thought as to how you would like to be perceived. Maybe you’ve changed over the past twenty or forty years. You don’t have to keep living someone else’s narrative of you. This is your own life and you are the author of your own story.
I like that quote above. There is something about being tested that makes me dig in deeper, like these gnarly tree roots. Yes, I feel the normal frustrations as everybody else, but when faced with a difficult challenge, I am not usually one to throw up my hands and give up. I’ll grouse and curse, take a break, but I always come back to a difficult problem and then figure out a way through, around, over, under.
I’ve always appreciated the Horatio Alger-type stories. Someone who overcomes the odds to end up on top. I guess I’m the eternal optimist. If so and so could do this, then I can, too. Obviously within reason and physical limitations. I will never be a center on a basketball team. Nor dead lift 300 pounds. But most problems have solutions.
This week I had my credit card hacked. A fixable problem but just an annoyance. And I’ve been dealing with the changes that Facebook made to the operations of some of my pages. I watched numerous videos, consulted a helpful friend, and decided to set the problem aside for awhile. Sometimes a fresh outlook works best. And the weather is still too dang cold to spend much time outside. The temperature was three degrees (F) this morning.
There were a few other things but they all run together after awhile.
Fortunately, I was able to spend a little time in the studio this week – keeping in mind my description of how cold it can be from last week’s post. I didn’t feel like painting so I grabbed some charcoal and began another tree study. This one is of some very interesting roots on a large tree in front of the house. I love the shadows. And the quote to match settled my attitude.
I guess we all have ways of dealing with adversity. Mine is to dig in deeper. Or sometimes step back and take a break, then find a new approach. What is yours?
Posted onJanuary 2, 2022|Comments Off on Hello 2022, good bye 2021. A year in review.
I don’t know about you but the past year has certainly been a roller coaster ride, one of ups and downs, good and bad. It seems as if we’re all in a bit of a daze and ready to say good riddance to 2021.
Way back in January, we were all just beginning to fall off the cliff into the realization of the seriousness of the pandemic. Confusion reigned. Many countries were still locked down or were thinking about it. We were getting tired of being confined homebodies. But hope reigned with the news that a vaccine was on the horizon. Some of us were scrambling to make sure we could sign up as soon as possible.
On top of this, the nation looked on with alarm at the mess in the capitol before the inauguration. Most of us had never lived through anything like this but there were some memories of the demonstrations back in the 60s and 70s. Life repeats itself.
Many good things also happened this past year. For one thing, the new Thyen-Clark Cultural Center in Jasper opened. I had a small part in working on that project for ten years before I retired. Others picked up the ball and saw it to fruition. So proud of the town and citizens. What a showplace!
Remember when people were stockpiling toilet paper and bread was hard to get? I reposted my Artesian Bread recipe. My friend Miriam said that making bread was the highlight of her spring. But I was also forced to buy 25 pounds of rye flour when I couldn’t find it in smaller packages. My husband is a great bread maker. Lucky me.
After months of playing hermit, my husband and I sneaked off for a quick trip to Florida. We rented a house so we were still hermits, just with better weather.
My big solo exhibit in May / June at the cultural center went off without a hitch. It was so satisfying to see two years’ of work on the new gallery walls. Loads of visitors, including friends from all over the state. Thank you!
Spring threw some surprises at us. We had some beautiful flowers but I held off planting. Good thing as we had a very late snow on May 10th! I covered up the things that I did plant and everything turned out well.
Then there was the cicada invasion. Thousands of the little bugs, all singing their mating calls at 90 decibels. Very annoying but it passed eventually. The birds and toads were really happy.
Our garden produce was heavy and bug-free this year. We couldn’t even put up all that we grew and tried to give much of it away. All this despite the late planting, and planting fewer plants.
We were very grateful to be living in the country where we could get outside, go for a drive, eat lunch by the river.
September saw the requisite visit to the pumpkin farm. Paintings in three shows. And winding up for the holidays. Overall art sales tripled. Time to set bigger goals.
I hope that as you take time to look back over the past year, that you have some good memories, too. Let us all hope the coming year is much improved.
I have an exhibit coming up in January and was recently asked by the gallery director what the title of my exhibit will be. Duh? You would think that a person who has spent most of her life in the creative field would be more imaginative in this respect. Uh, my name? The types of paintings I’ll exhibit? I finally landed on the title: Introspection.
Introspection seems to represent what we do at the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. How were things? What did we learn? What do we hope for the new year?
Let’s face it. It’s been a difficult year. Most of us did not expect to still be dealing with a world pandemic. Wild weather and climate change. Economic and world political disputes.
This led me to contemplate my Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series of paintings. I plan to include several of these pieces in the upcoming exhibit. Many of them represent the theme of being alone. Eating alone or limited to a close group of friends and family.
Some people seem to have handled being alone better than others. For an artist, this is a normal state to reach down deep to access my thoughts and determine how best to express them. I enjoy the time with my thoughts and am not lonely, just alone.
Other creative people – dancers, musicians, those who work in large studio groups – thrive on the lively input of many minds. What looks to me like chaos is their life blood. With theaters shuttered and musical venues closed, I can only sympathize.
For me, being alone whether spending time in the studio, reading, taking a walk in the woods, or even attending a movie or performance alone is an enjoyable experience. It doesn’t really matter who I’m with or how many people are around me.
But being lonely is no fun for anyone. And, yes, I’ve been there, too. This is a much more nobody likes me emotional state. You can be surrounded by people and yet still feel hollow and disconnected.
This has been a difficult couple of years for everyone and the holiday season is an especially emotional time. Maybe you’ve been separated from your family and friends. You’ve been working from home and don’t have any work buddies to pal around with. Maybe you’ve moved and don’t have any friends in your new city. I’m not a psychologist but I do know that people are not going to knock on your door. As a friend told me a long time ago; there are always people like you (in the area); you just have to go out and find them.
Even if you live in as unpopulated an area as I do (and it would be difficult to find many counties in the Eastern part of the United States with a more sparse population than mine), there are still some people like you out there. Go to the library, join a club, start your own club. What special interests do you have? Hiking, biking, fishing, playing ball? Maybe you like to volunteer at the animal shelter or help others. Young people who are new to a city or area often reach out through online groups to plan activities.
Whoever you are out there, I hope that you can enjoy the holidays. That you’re not alone or lonely. Let us all hold higher aspirations for a new year.
Having your art rejected from a show or exhibition can often be baffling, and sometimes a bit painful. Even for someone like me who has been entering shows for nearly forty years, there is still a little twinge when I receive that rejection letter. More often I am just puzzled.
For instance, the painting above, Italian Eating Italian which is from my Intimate Space Series: Breaking Bread, and which was exhibited for a two month show. It received a lot of attention and was a favorite among many. It exudes a bonhomie and welcoming attitude. I would watch visitors gravitate towards the painting from across the gallery. Something about the hint of a smile, the subject matter, the lighting. It was a very popular painting.
I have since entered the painting in a couple of exhibits. One in which I felt sure it would be accepted…was instead rejected. Whaaaaaa???? I’ve been in that show in previous years but not this year. That pinched a little. Also, since I have attended the show in previous years, I was aware of the quality of portraits in the show. Not too impressed. Oh, well.
The same painting was later entered into another show. It won BEST OF SHOW. That is always a pleasant surprise. But I try not to get too full of myself, either.
The whole point is that on any given day, the selection could have gone either way. Best to keep that in mind.
I have been the judge for a number of shows over the years. It is not easy and sometimes the organizations have special conditions to be met: X number of landscapes, portraits, abstracts, etc. Sometimes the shows are open to members only. On any given day, the selections could go one way or another.
Many times over the years, I’ve sat with judges as they reviewed and selected the entrants for exhibits. Some judges are cursory and flippant about the matter, speeding through so they can get to their free lunch. Others review and review and review, taking enormous amounts of time to make their selections. And there have been a few who only seemed to focus on artists who paint in their own style or medium. That irritates me quite a bit.
Over the years my work has been accepted into shows which I now realize I probably wasn’t skilled or talented enough to actually merit being in. And other shows where my work and experience exceeded the expectations, it was rejected.
It’s a puzzle.
My suggestion is….no matter what your artistic talent or medium….to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back into the fray. Maybe a review of the exhibit will help you to get a better grasp of what was considered acceptable and desirable. Maybe you don’t (yet) have the skills or professionalism to have your work hung in the exhibit. Maybe it just wasn’t your year. Many times you can enter the exact same piece the following year with a different judge and it will be accepted.
If this is what you really want, don’t give up. Be objective about your work and keep trying. It will happen eventually.
Let’s face it, if you’ve been an artist for any length of time, you will inevitably create some bad paintings. Crap is the professional term. (Just kidding.) Not everything that comes off your easel, your brush, from your pencil is wonderful. Actually, few pieces of art fit that description.
I remember when I was first getting back to my art roots after several years’ hiatus that I sat at the kitchen table one night and created a cute little flower painting. It was pink, I think. I was so proud of that piece. When I showed it to my husband, he said, “Oh, that’s nice, honey.” Such a sweet supportive liar but I certainly needed the boost to my ego.
I kept that painting for years, long after I realized what a wreck it was. I would drag it out when teaching a class and point to it and say, “See, this is where I came from. You can learn to paint, too.” I have searched the studio for the piece as I would definitely show it but can’t locate it. I’m sure that I never threw it away.
The point is, that we do the best we can with the skills we have at the time. When you know better, you do better. I have painted plenty of really BAD paintings. And still do, although not quite so many.
So what do you do with a piece of art that just didn’t turn out the way that you wanted? Here are several options.
Examine the piece carefully and determine just what you are unhappy with. The color, subject matter, composition, execution, the method of painting, etc.?
Ask yourself if there is some way to correct the mistake? Not all mediums can be corrected but many can.
Ask a friend for input. Sometimes we know something is off but just can’t see the mistake although it may be glaring to some new eyes.
Scrape off the paint or paint over the mistake. You may even need to paint over the entire canvas. I have done this many times and just started over. Or even explore a new idea rather the one you were pursuing.
Trash it. Burn it, destroy it. Some people recommend that you keep your bad work to inspire you but I think it will only haunt you. Use it as a learning experience and move on. It can be very cathartic to throw your canvases into the burn barrel. I’ve had very few regrets over many years.
One thing that I don’t recommend is to donate the bad artwork. It may come back to haunt you as when someone picks it up a resale shop or flea market. And don’t pawn it off on your friends and relatives. They’ll be too polite to tell you and will resent moving it around from place to place over the years.
Finally, don’t stress about a bad painting. It happens. That’s OK. We learn from our mistakes and just promise yourself that you’ll do better next time. It’s only a painting, after all.
A few years ago I posted about the challenges of living in a rural area during emergencies, especially if the power goes out. Living in a 135 year old house which only received electricity in probably the 1940s or 1950s has it’s challenges. I talked about having alternatives and backup plans. Like oil lamps, wood or kerosene heat, propane stoves or water heaters. But sometimes you just need a little electricity.
You could buy a huge generator but it’s difficult to justify spending thousands of dollars on equipment than you may only use once every few years. I’m going to talk about a few items which might make your life easier for about $100 or less, for most of them together.
The first are having a hand-cranked flashlight and / or radio. You can pick these up at your local big box store for under $10. They’re usually in the camping section but check around. They’re not terrific but work well in a pinch.
My next recommendation is having a power bank. This allows you to plug in your phones and USB items. You just charge them up (when the electricity is on) and they’ll hold a charge for a long time. Keep them in a drawer or place where you can find them easily. It seems the power always goes out when my phone is nearly dead. They’re smaller than a paperback book and cost about $30-$40. Useful for camping, too, but not recommended to keep in a hot car.
Another handy item is a solar powered charger. The one I have folds up to about the size of a wallet. You can set it out, or attach it to your backpack as you’re hiking. Mine also has a built in flashlight. It has a couple of USB ports, too. Costs vary depending upon size and power, but again, around $30-$40.
Finally, a little item that I LOVE is my multi-purpose flashlight / radio. This is the neatest little gadget. It comes with a lithium battery to insert and a little screwdriver. The battery can be charged by hand-cranking or it has a small solar charger on top. It seems to hold a charge for a long time. The charger flips up to show a good light for reading. In addition, it has a very good flashlight on one side and some USB connections on the other. The radio is terrific! It has AM/FM/ and weather band. Very good reception with the fold out antenna. It also has a built-in SOS alarm and light, and a motion sensor good for 3 meters. The cost is about $40.
I recommend that you keep a few of these items handy for emergencies but they’re also very useful for camping or putting into a GO bag. A small waterproof box or bag will make them readily available for use. The links below will take you to more information about some of these items.
It’s not quite the end of this dreadful year but we’re close enough that I thought I’d spend a little time reflecting. This is what I learned about myself.
I am happy to be a hermit.
I’m a sociable person and enjoy visiting with friends and family, but actually, I am happy spending time alone. Never lonely. Just alone. Quite a difference. I didn’t even notice this until my husband pointed out that I hadn’t left the property for over a week. And the problem with that is? Fortunately, he loves to do the grocery shopping (yes, really!) so I only have to venture out to the big box store about once a month for other supplies and necessities. And the post office and library.
I would rather eat Cheetos and drink wine than exercise.
I am not proud of this. I used to exercise every day and ride my bike about ten miles a day, in nearly any weather. This year, not so much. It’s just so easy to sit on the patio with a good book and some crunchy snacks and my favorite adult beverage. This will be remedied in 2021.
I love my libraries.
This is really not any news, but my local libraries have gone above and beyond the call in order to supply books to their patrons. I could order books online and they would be delivered to my tiny local library within a few days. This saved me about 50 miles round trip. Yes, books are this important in my life.
UPS delivers (and FedEx and USPS).
Except when they don’t. Isn’t it so nice to be able to order practically anything you want online and it will be delivered to your door? In this rural area, I see the same delivery people all the time. My mail carrier has a personal relationship with my “big scary dog.” These are really hardworking, conscientious people.
But…as an Etsy seller, I did have some trouble with deliveries this season. I would mail out the package – usually within a day – take it to the local post office. They would get it out the same day. And then….where did it go? Many of my shipments ended up in a great black hole. I was so embarrassed as I truly believe in providing good customer service. Fortunately, everyone was very understanding. All but two packages arrived before the holidays but it was still disappointing.
Where’s your mask?
Last spring when the pandemic started ramping up and masks were difficult to find, I dusted off the old old sewing machine and whipped up a few. Well, about 200. I sent them to friends and family. No charge, just be safe. I was even considering creating a fund raiser for local food banks but by that time everyone had jumped on the band wagon and masks were easy to find. That’s good. I decided that I didn’t want to spend all my time sewing. I mostly want to paint.
But…I can’t believe how mad I could get when I saw people who weren’t wearing masks. Either they flunked science or were sleeping in the back of health class. Didn’t they know that masks could prevent the spread of germs?! Grumble grumble grumble.
I’m really really tired of politics.
Not only did we have the challenge of the pandemic, job losses, no fun activities, no vacations, but we were inundated with political ads and pundits. It was totally crazy. But my husband and I decided to vote in person because it feels real. I even reregistered just so my signature would match the 35 year old signature on record when I first registered here.
I miss live performances.
After spending so many years as Director of a performing and multi-discipline arts center, I never realized just how much I would miss live performances. Where people are sitting shoulder to shoulder, enjoying some live music on stage. A real play or comedy routine. Even the Chinese acrobats! I can’t wait to get back to some live performance venues.
I miss my family and friends.
We’re used to hosting family and friends for major holidays or summer get togethers. Not this year. I haven’t seen my father who only lives about a hundred miles from me since 2019. And when I visit my son who just lives a few miles away, it’s usually outside and socially distanced. An elderly friend who’s been a guest at our table for over 35 years is staying home these days. But we have been taking meals to her when we can.
Living in the country is the best!
It has been such a bonus that we can get outdoors. We can go for a country drive. We can sit by the firepit and not see another soul. My heart aches for all the children who are stuck in apartments or in the city with no outdoor space. This is no way for humans to live.
I am so proud of all the people who are helping to make our lives better….or at least tolerable.
I am grateful for the food servers and grocery store workers. For the many medical field workers who put their lives on the line every day. For the public employees who still take care of the streets and water and sewers and the lights. I’m grateful for my postman and the people who are still driving trucks across the country to deliver the necessities to people in need.
I try to keep focusing on the good things in our lives. On the opportunities, not the troubles. On the smart people who are working so hard to make the vaccines and medicines which will help us all.
This has been a trying year. Yet, despite our differences, we are able to find common ground. To still remember that we are all humans who are just trying to get by. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
But I really must work on eliminating those Cheetos.
So how’s your holiday shopping going? Sending and receiving? Do things seem a little delayed this year?
I asked my Facebook friends if they’ve noticed any delays in deliveries this year. Well, guess that was a hot button. Everyone has a story or complaint.
Fortunately, I ordered my gifts online pretty early. And have actually been surprised by the speedy delivery of a couple that I’ve ordered to be sent directly.
But as an online retailer (very very small), I’ve noticed a considerable slow down of pieces that I’ve mailed. I usually ship the day after I receive an order but this year when I check the tracking, the packages seem to spend days in a regional center, and then….where did they go? I can only hope that they eventually show up at their destinations.
I spoke with my local post mistress who showed me a photo of the regional center. Total chaos! They are overwhelmed this year, as, I expect are all the other delivery companies. Everyone is doing the best they can.
I know that my UPS deliveries have been arriving after dark by a temporary seasonal employee. And my father said that his mail sometimes arrives at eleven p.m! Whoa!
Anyway, with so many people ordering online this year and the dramatic increase in volume of packages shipped, I resolve to try being a little more patient. I guess we all could practice that a bit more at this time of year.
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!