Tag Archives: procrastination

Two More Sleeps

What, Wednesday again? Not only is it Wednesday, it’s Christmas Eve Eve. If you read last week’s post, you might be wondering how far I have progressed in my Christmas preparations. I would like to be able to say that everything is done and all I have to do now is sit around and drink eggnog, but that would be a big, fat lie. Not the eggnog part; I do have eggnog in the house, but I am not sitting around drinking it. I drank some earlier today as I was wrapping presents. I also drank some as I was baking cookies.

Don’t worry; the cookies are fine. I don’t like alcohol in my eggnog. I like calories, lots of calories. As you can imagine, I’m having a little trouble managing regular meals. I’m not sure how long one can live on cookies and eggnog, but I’m hoping it’s more than a couple of days. I just need to get through a couple more days.

My cookies are done and the ones that I made for folks outside my immediate family have been delivered. My tree is completely decorated and makes me feel happy every time I look at it. The family taffy pull was this past Saturday and the weather was perfect – sunny and cold with low humidity. Taffy making demands low humidity and we usually have to create it artificially by turning on the air conditioner, but not this year. This year there has been only one cold day in North Florida in December and it came exactly when we needed it.

If it weren’t for wrapping, I would be in great shape. Wrapping is what I should be doing now, instead of writing, but I’ve kept my Wednesday blog post commitment all year and I’m not going to let it slide the last half of December. I can still get up before dawn and wrap all day tomorrow, right?

I need to get back to wrapping.

I need to get back to wrapping.


Right. Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace, love and light to you. I’ll see you on the other side.

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Another Wild Wednesday

Last week, I was pretty sure this week’s blog post would be easy. Last week I wrote about my lack of Christmas preparations. I had no tree. I hadn’t baked the first cookie. I hadn’t shopped for presents, which meant I hadn’t wrapped any presents. I was worried enough about it that I thought I would finally stop procrastinating and get something done. This week’s post would be all about my dozens of finished cookies, my beautifully decorated tree and my perfectly wrapped packages.

Well, there is a tree in my house now. My husband is putting lights on it as I type this. It’s evening, so that’s as far as we will get today. Once the lights are on, the next step is to put the burlap angel on top and that has to be done by a grandchild. No other decorations can go on the tree until we get a grandchild over here to put that angel on top. That’s a tradition, and we aren’t going to break it. Not this year.

Cookies? I have baked two kinds of cookies. That’s two down and ten to go. I do have dough for two more kinds of cookies in the refrigerator. I’m trying to decide whether I’m ahead of or behind last year’s cookie-baking schedule. This time last year (according to my morning pages) I had three kinds of cookies completely done but no extra dough in the refrigerator. I guess I’m ahead on the dough-mixing and behind on the baking. Being ahead on anything is not that much of an accomplishment. Last year was the most frantic last-minute Christmas of my life.

I keep reading my old morning pages to see how this year compares to last year. Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m doing when I could be baking cookies or shopping or decorating. I’m reading that I was even further behind on this date last year. I’m also reading direct messages from my 2014 self to my 2015 self, messages that say, “Don’t do this to yourself next year!”

For any normal person, that would be the takeaway from last year’s morning pages. I, however, am not just any normal person. I am a seasoned procrastinator. I read about what I went through last year and all I see is that I managed to pull it off. Somehow, the baking got done, the tree got decorated, and the presents ended up under the tree by Christmas morning. I did it last year and I can do it again, even if I end up doing it in another mad last-minute rush.

Lights

Lights


I’m afraid that might be my most cherished Christmas tradition.

Waiting for a Train

Wednesdays keep showing up, even in December. This is the second Wednesday in December and I still haven’t begun my Christmas preparations. My husband has put lights on the outside of the house, but we have done nothing to the inside of the house. We don’t have a tree. I haven’t baked any cookies. I haven’t done any serious shopping and all the wrapping supplies are still in the attic.

I’m starting to feel a bit worried that this is going to be another frantic, last-minute Christmas, but at least I’m keeping up with the sketch-a-day challenge. Every day, I pick up my sketchbook and my colored pencils and I take a little sketch break. So far, I’ve drawn a lot of leaves and a couple of fruits and a nut. That’s what we have around this time of year in Florida.

I took my daughter to the grocery store today and I finally remembered to pick up some small, round fruits while I was there. Soon I will be adding more drawings of fruit to my sketchbook. An unexpectedly magical thing happened on the way back from the grocery store. Our route crosses a railroad track and we saw as we approached it that the bars were down, though we couldn’t see a train yet.

The person in front of us decided it was time to turn around and choose a different route. We stayed, waiting to see if it would be a freight train or a passenger train. We listened for the whistle. When we heard it, we turned in that direction to see what kind of train was approaching.

“Hmmm…,” we said, “…not a freight. Must be an Amtrak.” That thought made us happy because an Amtrak goes by a whole lot faster than a freight. We waited. As the train got closer, we started to see that it was not an Amtrak. It was way cooler than that.

Circus Train

Circus Train


It was longer than an Amtrak but we didn’t mind.

December Drawings

I was at my chorale rehearsal the other night and one of my fellow altos asked me if I was still painting. I didn’t know what to say, because I want to be painting, but I haven’t painted anything since before my big trip out West in September. I don’t know why I’m not painting. I’m just not painting. I am now officially way behind on my blog goal. I set the goal of painting fifty plein air paintings before my next birthday. I had to clean up my painting gear to make my house pretty for the big Thanksgiving gathering and that gave me a chance to count my paintings.

I have done ten. Ten whole paintings, from February through November. That means I have to come up with forty between now and next February eighth. I haven’t counted the days between now and February eighth, but I know that a lot of them happen in December. So does Christmas. We are a family that celebrates Christmas, so I tend to be ridiculously busy in December. There’s the shopping and the baking and the decorating and the wrapping. There are chorale concerts, the ones I love the most and look forward to all year.

I am beginning to be afraid I will find myself trying to paint every day in January. January, even in Florida, is a cold month. I live in North Florida, so we get honest-to-goodness freezes in January. Some days will be balmy, but most will be cold or, at least, chilly. I knew this was a real possibility when I set the goal, but I hoped the possibility would motivate me to paint more often during the year.

I didn’t expect taking my paints outdoors to be so much more intimidating than painting in my dining room. The paints dry faster outdoors. Bugs fly into them. The wind might blow the canvas off the easel. I need to be able to choose pretty days for this, but I have procrastinated myself into a corner and now I will have to take whatever days come. Trial by fire. Trial by ice. I brought this upon myself and I will see it through, but there is one special thing this month that will help me work up to it.

Every December, my niece, Grace, invites me to participate in her Sketch-a-Day Challenge. When I think of forty plein air paintings by February, that seems daunting. One sketch each day in December seems much more manageable. It’s a commitment I have made for the past two years and I found that it gave me a nice little break, each day, from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I do simple drawings so my inner critic stays quiet, and I give myself permission to do them badly.

Today is the second day of December, so I have done two drawings. These have reminded me that I love drawing and I love color. They give me hope that I will find my way back to painting.

Yellow leaf

Yellow leaf


Green leaf

Green leaf


Meanwhile, I need to go shopping for some round fruit. I’m going to get tired of drawing the leaves I find in my front yard.

Jeans

I didn’t really mean to wait until the day before my vacation to go shopping for new jeans. I tried to start the quest earlier. A couple of weeks ago, I needed clothes appropriate for jury duty. I was spending time in department stores, looking for plain black pants. It made sense to look at jeans while I was out and about. It made sense, but it was depressing.

Jeans aren’t jeans any more. When I want new jeans, I want five pockets, straight legs and one hundred per cent cotton denim. Dark blue denim, not faded or stone-washed and certainly not already worn out. Why in the world would anyone want to pay good money for jeans with holes in them? I can wear holes in them all by myself, thank you very much. And don’t even get me started on embellishments.

So I looked at jeans a couple of weeks ago, but my real goal was to get black dress pants and that was a whole lot easier, so I gave up on the jeans. I had time. I had weeks. Surely there would be better hunting after I fulfilled my obligation to the judicial system. That’s what I thought.

I kept putting it off. I remembered a previous jeans-shopping trip when I tried on twenty-four pairs of jeans without finding even one that fit. I didn’t want to face it, but I needed new jeans for this vacation. There will be canyons. There will be deserts. There will be hiking. My old jeans were getting so frayed, they were almost trendy. I’m an old lady; I don’t wear trendy jeans.

This morning, I set out. My usual first stop on a quest for jeans is the local thrift store. Manufacturers don’t seem to make classic jeans any more, so I try to find them gently used. I drove to the thrift store, but it was closed. According to the hours posted on the door, it should have been open, but there was another sign on the door, a handwritten sign that said, “Store is closed.” Succinct. Undeniable.

I was forced to move on. To a real store, with actual new blue jeans. Two stores. The first store had some interesting knit pants, but not a single pair of jeans that I even wanted to try on. Not only did they all have spandex in them, they were all “skinny.” I don’t do skinny. I did buy some knit pants, in a size I couldn’t believe was really my size. The brand runs small, that’s what I’m saying.

Fortunately, the next store had jeans. They even had some with straight legs and some that were boot-cut. I was thrilled. They’re not perfect jeans. One pair is too long and the other pair has odd pockets. Both pairs have a tiny bit of spandex in them, but neither pair is frayed or slashed or faded or skinny. I called it a successful shopping trip and hurried home to pack. Yes, I washed my new jeans first. I don’t want to be hiking those canyons in jeans with odd lint patterns where the size stickers were.

One More Painting

I couldn’t stand it. I just couldn’t stand it. It had been weeks since I had even tried to paint anything and I was starting to feel as if I would never do it again. I opened up my Sta-wet palette and it had stayed wet enough to smell musty. Should I just dump the whole thing and start over?

Well, yes, I should have but the paint was still wet, doggone it. I didn’t want to start over. If I started over, I would get bogged down in preparations and never paint. I didn’t want to never paint. Never painting again seemed like a real possibility at that point. I had wet paint. I had tiny canvases. I had a back yard with plants in it. Somehow, I would paint something.

First, I grabbed a large brush and slapped some light green paint on a tiny canvas. Then I washed that brush and changed into my painting clothes (which are also my tie-dyeing clothes) while the green paint dried. I took my moldy palette, a container of water, a paper towel and two small brushes out to the back yard, along with the now-dry canvas.

I looked around. My husband had cleared the overgrown garden patch I had painted a few weeks ago, but there were still some of the tiny red flowers on the fence. I decided to paint a couple of those, along with some of the heart-shaped leaves. If I tried to pull up a chair, I would not be able to see the flowers I wanted to paint, so I decided to paint standing up. It was a tiny canvas. How hard could it be?

Pretty hard, actually. I didn’t have a table, so I ended up putting the palette and the container of water on the ground. Yeah. Bend down, grab some paint; stand up, brush the paint on the canvas. Squint at the flowers. Squint at the canvas. Bend down again, grab some more paint; stand up again, brush some more paint on the canvas. And so on, in the heat, for about an hour. It may look as if I slapped it together in ten minutes, but I didn’t. This tiny painting took some time.

Tiny Flowers

Tiny Flowers


Sigh…
This is what desperation looks like. It’s still better than never painting again.

Baby Step

My Sta-Wet palette has stayed wet for a week now. I was sure I was ready to start painting again but I kept procrastinating. Well, Saturday was Independence day and we were planning to have our kids and grandkids over for a cook-out, so some housecleaning was necessary. My kids know how I live, so I didn’t have to go crazy and take the knobs off things to clean behind them, but I did want to clear the clutter from surfaces and make the floors navigable for a two-year-old.

There was a lot of clutter on my surfaces. It took me days to relocate or toss it, mostly because I’m not good at deciding to toss it. Sweeping the floors was a satisfying task because they definitely needed to be swept. It’s not really much fun to sweep a floor if you do it every day. I know that’s what good housekeepers do but I don’t know how they can stand having so little to sweep up. You have to squint to see if there’s anything to brush into the dustpan.

That is a problem I will never have. I had fun sweeping and vacuuming and making the house safer for grandchildren, but I did not manage to fit in any painting time before the holiday. I couldn’t do it on the holiday. I had a house full of people and some of them were small enough not to know better than to grab pretty things I should not have left where small hands could reach them. I need to see my grandchildren more often. They always turn out to be taller than I remember.

Well, that’s why I didn’t paint last week. Sunday was a day of rest after staying up late for fireworks (okay, they were on TV, but still…) and Monday was laundry day. Laundry and painting don’t mix. It seems as if Tuesday could have been a perfect painting day, but somehow, painting did not happen. Some bill-paying happened. Some grocery shopping happened. No painting.

And then came blog day. This day. Can you even imagine how much I did not want to blog about procrastination again? About not painting? I had to do something but I was still irrationally resistant to painting outside. I needed to take a smaller step. I walked into my kitchen and looked around. I found some tomatoes my husband had brought in from the garden. I set them up in my old painting space and I got out one of my tiny canvases and I painted them.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes


I didn’t paint it outdoors so it doesn’t count towards my total, but it sure felt good to paint something again. I’m hoping this little still life has broken the block.