Friday, February 06, 2015

Intrinsic Value

from *here*
Not too long ago I was confronted with a new challenge, a good challenge, one that would make me grow and stretch and punch out in new directions--that kind of goal.  But I didn't want it. It was time-consuming.  No, time-destroying.  Many of the easy habits of our empty-nest life would be overrun by this challenge, such as losing the time we've carved out for our early-morning walks.

Someone might look at my life and say, "Well.  You do have the time."  But this is where I confront the slippery core of my dilemma: how do I value my time?  As an adjunct professor, I receive very low pay.  In fact, most of my students make more than I do when I factor in the time spent in grading and prepping. I also receive no money for things I do in the rest of my life either--no income streams anywhere.  So how then, does a person value their life?  Value their time?  Decide how to "spend" time, that one thing that no one can get more of than another?  Do some tasks carry more "weight" than others, for example, preparing a meal versus cleaning it up? Cleaning out the garage, vs. cutting out a new quilt?  Maintaining friendships vs. time on the internet?

Enough of these stupid questions, as I always advise students that a good declarative sentence is worth a paragraph of queries.  But I have no easy declarative sentence to end with.  Maybe I think a task might be valued by what intrinsic value it carries.  And this "assigning a value" is something I have spent a lifetime trying to understand, especially when there is no outside determinant of what it is worth (i.e., a monetary valuation).  

When I was four years old, my clock was as big as the sky, reaching in all directions, limited only by naps and my bedtime.  When I was a teenager, the timepiece was a bit smaller, perhaps room-sized, filled with time to do things like figure out how to cut my hair like the models in Seventeen magazine. Motherhood shrunk that clock again, as did grad school.  Too little time for too many outside tasks.

But now I feel like my timepiece is one of those Dali clocks, limpid and wobbly, not keeping time the way it should.  Sometimes my clock size is appropriate, crisp and ticking, lots getting done.  But other days it languidly drapes itself over the sofa, a bag of chips in one hand while balancing the computer on its lap and says something to the effect of "good luck in getting anything done at all."  And when I shake it, trying to get some minutes out of its uncooperative self, I realize my clock is too small to get my hands on, shrunk not only from outside time demands but also from the shrinking horizon of my older life, my ability to power through.

So I am careful with those requests.  Too many phone calls?  Ignore the ring.  Too many IMs?  Leave the mobile in the purse downstairs where I can't hear it.  No, I won't conduct a cooking class for teens at the local youth conference.  No, I won't be cleaning out the garage, either.  I am choosing what I do in a place in my life where soon I'll be carrying around my ever-shrinking clock in a pill bottle, retrieving it with tweezers to see how minutes are left.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

I Could Watch These Kids Dance All Day Long

This video was "shot in a single take by a camera on a drone flying above the Los Angeles River bed." Be sure to watch the credits until the end.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

See Saw, Teachery Style

This about sums up my last few weeks.  Only I can't say I was as radiantly happy as this young woman was on the down stroke, nor was I as exuberant on the up stroke, knowing that the see-sawing over whether or not I'd be teaching this next semester would continue.  Tomorrow schools starts.  Today I found out that (as my Dean put it) "Your Class Is A Go" in the subject header of the first email, with nothing else in it.  The second email was a touch more verbose, with the advice to "get your stuff prepared."  He is the man who hired me lo, these many years ago, and since I know him pretty well I laughed when I read the email.  It's nice to get off the see-saw.

But I'm pretty much in denial that my lovely (unpaid) sabbatical is over.  I have a list of projects as long as my arm in the quilty arena, plus there's those housekeeping chores that need to be done as I have company coming for the next two weeks.  Things are popping, but I have to turn some attention to my class now.  I did prep up for the first day and have my copies, the stuff up on the web, but who knows if I'll have any AV equipment in a class which is in the South 40?  I've already decided I'm wearing tennis shoes the first day, since there will be a lot of hiking around campus.

All of this happened because of budget numbers, those figures that we in middle-education (past K-12, but not as high as a 4-year school) live and die by.  Just before Christmas the numbers were in the tank; now, post New Year's, we can float my half-filled class (having only 12 students in my class has got to be a record).  I chose online ebooks, as I knew the books wouldn't be here in time and the style manual from the class that was cancelled just before Christmas can be transferred over to this class. 

I'm just so relieved to know what I'll be doing.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

We typically celebrate New Year's Eve at East Coast Time, that is, when it is 9:00 p.m. here in California.  This year, a little after 8:00 p.m., I suggested we celebrate it "Halifax" time, four hours earlier.  If this keeps up, by the time we hit that old nursing home, we may toast each other with our glasses of Metimucil at noon, muttering that somewhere in the world (Australia maybe?) it's time to celebrate the advent of the new year.

Celebrating in the future in a rest home, er--Assisted Living Center, is a definite possibility, given what I feel like as I approach a birthday that brings me, as everyone knows, one year closer to death...and the inevitable Assisted Living Center (ALC).  If I were forty years old this idea would seem morbidly uncomfortable, but this year I'm thinking that I'd just better get used to the idea because there are some upsides (I'll find them yet, as I'm a Pollyana if there ever was one) to this sort of arrangement of having your social life at the big table in the dining room with many other infirmed, but not necessarily feeble-minded, and may well prove as attractive the idea of not having to cook the three squares every day.  

My husband's parents wondered why they waited so long to move to their ALC, and after she died (another inevitable component of this stage of life) he found his second wife there.  I'm not saying that I'm going to kick off after I turn my birthday and leave my husband hunting down a suitable widow to move in with, but all I'm saying is that the view (and the array of choices) from this decade is substantially different than the view from 30, or 40.  Surprisingly different.

Perhaps that's why this cartoon caught my eye.  Certainly Dan Piraro (above), a man of my vintage, doesn't look like he has one foot in the grave.  If you looked around my studio with various creative projects scattered every which way, you know I plan to be around for a while.  I'm guess I'm just trying to be practical about how the ensuing decades might unfold, like I have some say in the matter.  At my age, it's the calamaties, the unforseen health problems, the fall, the traveling blood clot that will derail the best laid plans for the future.  So it's a happy sappy birthday to me, as I'm working to adjust my expectations to more closely match my long-range realities, whatever they are.  And trying not to rush Halifax-New-Year's style into what lies beyond.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two Happy Bookends

This started off my Thursday in a good way with my husband's video on the front of his university's web page.  He'd participated in speaking about his research and what he does with the campaign Living the Promise.  Of course, I love the video and played it numerous times during the day.
(And at 1:27, you can see the blackout curtain that I sewed for him the first year he was a professor.  And yes, that Prop 65 sign about needles and pins is from my local JoAnn's store!)

I worked all day sewing on this quilt. Really I've worked all week on quilting this quilt.  More information can be found on my quilting blog,

And then this was the ending to my day: acceptance of all three quilts of my quilts into Road to California, a nationally ranked and juried quilt show, held locally.  I'd been rejected the last few years I'd entered and despaired of ever seeing my quilts hung again in a show.  To get in all three?  It leaves me shaking my head in amazement and jumping up and down on my bed in pure happiness.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Phone Calls

Recently, with the aging process going full steam in my life, I feel like I'm getting in on some of the good "old" jokes that I never understood before.  Like the phone call cartoon, my quirks and peculiarities seem to be increasing, and if I can just keep my sense of humor about it all, I may just make it through.  But perhaps I should apologize in advance to my children?