Tag – you’re it! Facts without figures

Mrs. Stepford asked me to write 8 facts about myself. Now, there’s a task!

After all, when you are talking about a person, what is a fact?

I could start with height, weight, age and hair colour, but I suspect that is not what she is looking for. Besides, sometimes that’s just too much information. Like any self-respecting woman, we can’t discuss two of those; and my hair is ash blond and my height is five foot six.

I could add details about jobs I have had, but that doesn’t really tell you who I am, just what I’ve done to earn money. I’ve taught art in high school and at college level. I’ve dealt in antiques. I’ve sold shoes; counted widgets in a parts store – screws, nails, door handles, gaskets, you name it – very boring. My first paying job besides babysitting (oh! when I think of the responsibility I had and what I knew then about tending children, I blush in horror at the possibilities of ill that could have occurred. But they didn’t, and everyone is still safe and sound) was working in a deli for Mr. and Mrs Lyons for seventy five cents an hour, and we had to come in early to set up, unpaid, and stay after to sweep up and wash the counters, also unpaid.

I’ve just retired in the past 6 months. Where did the time go? I’ve been so busy! How did I find time to work? I am very glad to have finished with that highly professional administrative job that I worked at, that gave me a pension finally, but if I hadn’t finished with the job, the job would have finished me, with its high pressure and insane expectations of responsibility. I’m glad that’s done.

I could tell you that my Gran gave my mother to send me to Art in the Park when I was ten, but that tells you more about my grandmother than about me. The fact that I remember it always and that I am a visual artist attests both to my love for my grandmother and I learned to love messing with paint.

I could tell you that I got a grade of C in Phys Ed. and that is a fact. But it doesn’t tell you whether it was because I was just lazy or shy about joining in, or because I was from a family that didn’t emphasize exercise as part of daily requirements. We were an academic family and we studied in our family but did not run around the block for fresh air and aerobic health.

I would rather tell you about me through some things that don’t fit into the fact category or information, but rather are soft and fuzzy, touchy feely things or emotional things, or goals and aspirations.

1. I’m blessed in my strong friendships with women who have supported me through my growing up and my continual growing, through my teeter totter marriages and my successes and failures. They encourage me. They envourage me to get up when I’m falling down; they share their lives in idle chatter and in profound ideas.

2. I’m not so good at marriage. That’s one of my life lessons to work on.

3. I’m passionate about art – both viewing other people’s art and making my own. I don’t like commercial art, the common stuff you see in galleries; I like thought provoking and emotional art. I look for the essence in things and try to express that in a simplified and austere way. Art is a meditation for me as well as a solace. In the making of images, I find it a constant challenge and therein lies my continuing passion because there is always something to learn.

4. I’m passionate about music. More often than not, you would find me in the classical section of the record store, although I like some jazz and some cool smooth songs. In different eras of my life, I’ve concentrated on different composers, matching, perhaps, my general state of being. Early on, I liked Beethoven and played it on the piano too. It was regular in tempo and easy to understand the form of it.

I moved on to Brahms, Schubert and Schumann, then to the French Impressionists, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Saint-Saëns and others. I just looked up Saint-Saens in Wikipdeia and his life is amazing. If you want a depressing Google experience, just see what that kid could do before he was ten.

When I went teaching up in the Slocan Valley in the Seventies, I listened to the Russian composers daily – Prokofiev was my favorite, but there was Stravinsky, Borodin and Rimsky Korsakov. But I was also listening to the Beatles, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Jose Feliciano and a whole gamut of different music styles. There were people in the area creating music also, in jazz, blues and Kentucky blue grass styles. All that was very enriching.

After I left Franc, I listened to Chopin and I remember coming home from work trying to sing along or whistle with a tape cassette that I had on repetitively. It’s hard to sing his Etudes, but there are simple tunes hidden in between his complicated chording. His work was so different in his day, I think of him as the jazz pianist of his era. Perhaps he was the founder of jazz improvisations! Or was that Bach. And yes, I’ve always loved Bach.

Lately, I’ve been listening to Rachmaninoff, some of his Etudes and Preludes. I like listening to it while I write and when I drive on long journeys.

5. I can tell you that when I went to Europe in my late twenties and stayed for seven years in France, that I was a spoiled brat, but also a naive one. I grew up during that time on my own. I was lonely and found friends. I learned to speak French fluently. I saw more art in those seven years than I can tell you and I miss the opportunity to see such huge exhibitions of major artists’ works. I’ll have to go back to France.

I travelled through several European countries before I came home. I learned to be independent and to appreciate what I have. I learned that Canadians are rich and don’t know it. I learned that we won the lottery being born with a Canadian Passport in our mouths. We have a great security net in our social contract with our citizenry.

I met wonderful people and correspond with a few of them to this day. I was welcomed into homes with warmth and generosity in France. Twice, I was so lucky to attend the “Pierre, le Canadien” day in Clermont-Ferrand, in memory of a Saskatchewan boy who joined the French Resistance and was killed by the Germans as he fled through territory he was unfamiliar with. The French of that area have not forgotten his bravery and his sacrifice. They paired their city with one in Saskatchewan and exchange visits every year. I find that endearing.

6. I’m half way between a Luddite, those early nineteenth century rebels against progress who smashed machinery because they thought the changes the industrial revolution brought were ruining a fine way of life, and those pioneers of advanced knowledge who are reaching for new discoveries and revelations.

In other words, I’m still struggling with my computer which I would like to boot with my foot some days instead of rebooting with the on-off switch. The advance in technology allowed me to take 264 pictures at a conference this afternoon and evening without changing film once! And they all fit in a memory stick that is smaller than my hand. On the other hand, I love to draw. The physical activity of having a charcoal stick in my hand and manipulating it over the surface of a good piece of paper is very satisfying, just as it must have been to a man or woman drawing beasts in the Lascaux caves.

I love to write on the computer which allows for all kinds of editing changes with ease that a typewriter could not perform. Yet, I love to have a hand written letter; I’d rather short one of these than a long, garrulous one that’s been composed for fifty friends on the computer and sent out in a mass distribution e-mail. And I’d rather receive this latter, than none at all.

7. I love to cook. Take one look at me, and you know I like to eat, too. La joie de vivre!

But don’t ask me to do baking. The limit, in this category, is pies. Franc taught me a relatively painless way to make pastry and the French method of apple pie. I don’t do cookies and squares. I much prefer the savory.

8. I’m running down, here.

I love gardening because I’m awed by God’s creation of flowers and plants. Truth be told, I like watching some bugs too, as long as they stay outside, though. I’ve just bought a new house with a big garden. I’ll see how maintaining it goes. I’m not getting any younger.

There are large beds of phlox, irises, poppies and other stuff in between. There is a sweet smelling rose that just keeps pumping out beautiful blooms and several other kinds of flowering shrubs. I’m going to be able to have lots of cut flowers in the house.


And that’s my eight facts.

One Response to “Tag – you’re it! Facts without figures”

  1. suburbanlife Says:

    What a lovely way to write about yourself! I hope you recieve many good responses to this – I mean who would not want to know you as a friend? G

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