Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010, here we come!

What a year ahead!

First we learned of our younger son's engagement, and plans for a September 2010 wedding.

Then our daughter and son-in-law told us that we are going to be grandparents in May.

Now our oldest son has asked a wonderful gal to marry him, and she has answered in the affirmative!

It's not even New Year's Day yet, but I'm ready to start celebrating! Woo-hoo!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Memories of Christmases Past

I’ve been reminiscing lately, and thinking about how blessed I am to have these memories of Christmas…

As a kid, picking out a Christmas tree at the corner lot with my dad and brother. I especially remember the light bulbs, hung across the lot, illuminating the trees.

As a dad, the adventure of taking my kids to a “cut your own” tree farm, in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

Many years of "Family Christmas" at Crabtree’s Kitchen, where we enjoyed a wonderful meal and then a horse drawn sleigh ride through the woods. Grandpa often claimed to spot Rudolph through the trees, and the "real" Santa always paid a visit.

The warmth of our home on a cold, snowy Christmas Eve.

Melting butter and paprika sprinkled on top of the mashed potatoes, served with a Christmas meal at Aunt Irene and Cousin Kris’ house.

Uncle Vern and his tape recorder.

Moving from upper to lower Edgerton Street during the week between Christmas and New Year, and having a fully decorated tree in the trailer with the rest of our belongings.

Singing Silent Night, while holding a lit candle in the darkened sanctuary of our church during Christmas Eve service.

Peeling dried, cooled wax from my fingers.

Ornaments, hand made by us kids, and as ugly as they were, Mom still hung them on the tree.

A mountain of gifts under the tree, and the anticipation of opening them.

Taking a nap during the afternoon on Christmas Eve, to make the time go faster.

Rice pudding, and a prize awaiting the lucky person to find the walnut hidden somewhere in the bowl. I never ate the pudding, but was allowed to hunt for the nut.

My mom, scurrying around getting the meal on the table, and always the last to sit and eat.

One of my fellow employees, coming to our door on Christmas Eve and asking for food.

Barney, our dog, and his appetite for discarded wrapping paper.

“Christmas lights out mom’s side!”

What are your Christmas memories?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do what you love

I initially wrote this blog a few days ago, but when my trusted editor (my wife) read it, she told me it was a real downer. From my perspective, I thought I had simply shared some thoughts about working life. My intent was not to complain or garner sympathy, but when I separated myself from the topic and reread it from your perspective, I realized it could come across negatively. So, with that in mind, and in an effort to satisfy my editor, let me try to present the subject a little differently.

We have all heard the expression, “Find a job doing what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” If I am honest with myself, I’m not sure I can say that I have loved my job consistently over the 40 years I’ve worked. By no means do I wish to be pitied. It’s not that I have hated every one of my 10,000+ workdays. It’s just that if I may have had a “higher calling,” I didn’t hear it or answer it, and I now find myself looking inward, contemplating how I would like to spend my waking/working hours. It’s an interesting process to pursue.

CLARIFICATION TO APPEASE MY EDITOR: While I have not necessarily loved every one of the 4.8 million minutes I have worked (not counting overtime), I have enjoyed many, and have been blessed with steady employment for all but 8 weeks of this period. I have liked working with 99.9% of the people, and consider some of them to be good friends even now, 30-40 years later. I still come home each day with a smile, to get a hug and a kiss from my loving wife, and a squealing, tail-wagging doggie greeting. It’s tough to beat that! No complaining here!

In my early years, I needed to work just to keep gas in my car, and spending money in my pocket. Like many others my age, I had no concept of planning for a long-term career, and my idea of preparing for the future was to plan for the following weekend.

CTAME: Yes, I admit I was a bozo, one who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life, and thought he would just figure it out as he went along!

As I gained experience in the working world, I was fortunate to move from one position to the next, always staying near the front end of graphics technology. Indeed, there were years in the 80’s and 90’s when I was receiving calls from headhunters at a rate of about 3 or 4 per year. Besides the ego boost that interest afforded me, I was able to do some traveling as I considered offers. Those calls gradually decreased as I entered my 50’s, and it is evident that older guys aren’t as highly regarded in my business.
CTAME: I don’t get many headhunter calls anymore, so what. That’s OK with me. I know that I’m at the top of my game, and my experience and knowledge is immeasurable. I don’t want to move to another state and start over, anyway! The majority of my family is here, and I enjoy traveling so I have plenty of opportunity to see the cities I’ve passed up over the years. (Besides, if I changed jobs, they would probably want me to tweet!)

So now, it’s the eve of 2010. I have successfully climbed the management ladder. I have met most of my career goals. While I have no clear desire to start my own company, I would not rule that out. I presume I have 9-10 years of full time work ahead of me, and who knows how many years beyond that to be active. It makes sense to spend that time doing something I really enjoy.

CTAME: I love the thought of having a relatively short time left to work before retirement, but the fact of the matter is that I will never stop working. I will simply change what I’m doing each day, and you’ll have a different phone number to reach me between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. While I enjoy the role that I have as the “wise ol’ boss,” and I find it amusing that younger workers sometimes affectionately call me “Pops,” I am excited for the future, and all of the unknowns. One thing for certain: from this point forward, I’ll be buying a lot more oil paint.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vroom, vroom!

Superstitions are not uncommon among athletes, and many have rituals they follow in preparation for an event. Some eat pasta or pancakes before a race. Some visualize their performance or listen to a certain type of music. There are those who wear a particular neck chain or must tap their hockey stick 10 times before taking to the ice. Some only approach the batter’s box from the left side, or offer the Sign of the Cross every time they come up to bat.

These types of activities are not restricted to athletes. Artists, writers and other creative individuals have their own superstitions, and (often strange) behaviors. The artistic process sometimes needs a good kick in the butt, either to break out of a festering rut, or to inspire new heights of creativity. Robert Genn, in his Twice Weekly Letters art newsletter, gave these examples of the odd actions of artists. Each day, before beginning to write, Dame Edith Sitwell would lie in a coffin. Poet Friedrich Schiller “kept rotten apples in his desk and inhaled them when he needed a shot of inspiration.” There is a story that 19th century landscape artist J.M.W. Turner once had himself “strapped to a ship’s mast and taken out to sea” in order to experience the drama of the elements during a storm. Accounts of eating raw beets preceding artistic pursuits, and painting naked have also circulated.

Edgar Allen Poe and Ernest Hemingway were reportedly heavy drinkers, though it is unknown if these behaviors contributed to their genius. Smoking cigars, drinking coffee, and marijuana use have all been employed as inspiration to intensify the creative process.

Many of us remember the phase the Beatles went through in the late 60’s, when they studied with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, and began writing and performing a whole new style of music.

Rituals or routines can serve as motivation, but after considering all of this, I’m afraid I am quite boring. Sure, I can never seem to get my creative motor revved up on a Saturday morning without a few cups of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, but you won’t find me with brushes in hand while wearing my birthday suit.

It’s not a pretty picture!