Sunday, October 9, 2011

Being thankful in these strange new circumstances...

Since finishing my contract at the Federal Court earlier this year, I've been feeling ready to go back to work full-time. I set out to find a job, and long story short, I was hired for a full-time permanent position in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Very excited, I was. Started on a contract from August 22nd to the 31st - learned a bit about my job, got a little training. JF could now finally quit his job and take his much needed break and try to bring his health back up to par (hasn't been a great year for him).

September 1st - first day of my full-time permanent position, was spent on the picket line and I have been on strike ever since, with 1700 other members of McGill's support staff union. How bizarre is that?

I have gone from feeling like a hypocrite, to trying to be supportive of my fellow strikers, to being angry (likely looking sour), to being horribly depressed, to being fed up and looking for another job. I still waver from feeling to feeling, but am doing my best to stick it out and see what this job is like! I know I work with a great bunch of people, whom I've gotten to know a little on the picket lines, so this should be incentive enough, right? I try to tell myself that every day.

I've also tried to motivate myself to be productive at the end of my picketing shift. It may not seem like much, but four hours of walking in a circle, five days a week, is exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. The uncertainty of what is going to happen next is that hardest part for me, and I feel tired and blobbish much of the time. And I want to be at work. Ok, whining is officially over.

SO, from now on, I AM going to be as productive as possible and try to use the rest of my picketing days for good stuff. Cleaning up, cooking good food, spending time with my honey, sorting out my studio and getting back to making a few new things for holiday craft shows. This is my positive voice speaking.

Drumming keeps me sane! Arashi Daiko, the taiko group (Japanese drums) JF and I are members of, performed outdoors in Baie-Saint-Paul last weekend - 10 chilly degrees (Celsius)! This was on a morning visit to the beach - no skinny dipping, but a great time!

So on this Thanksgiving Day (in Canada!), looking at the big picture, JF and I have lived with much less, and are grateful that we have a roof over our heads and more than enough food to eat. We have family and friends and taiko and community and live in a safe city in a safe country. And we have two cats that entertain us to no end. In the grand scheme of things I do have a LOT to be thankful for. Don't we all?

Pretending the sun was out in Baie-Saint-Paul... merci pour les belles photos, Manon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

New pieces for Powell Street Festival!

The 35th annual Powell Street Festival in Vancouver, BC, this coming week-end, July 30 and 31. Can't wait!

It will be my fifth year selling there and it's definitely my favourite event to participate in. It's so well-organized, well-attended, and I have return customers and friends that I get to see every year. Plus, I get to spend time with two of my brothers and their families as an added bonus; I also have the best sales assistant, my niece Mariko, for the entire week-end, so I cannot go wrong! Oh, and did I mention the amazing entertainment and the more-than-amazing food? Schedule here and programme here Really looking forward to it!

Here are some new earrings I've been working on for the occasion:

I've been having a bit of a hard time getting back on a creative track since my contract ended in May, and just recently (like the last few weeks recently!) started all-out busying myself in my studio. Feels good, and yet I'm also pretty motivated to find me-self a job too, and have been applying here and there. My mornings are for job-hunting and applications, afternoons & eves for making beads and jewellery.

Here's a cane I'm pretty pleased with, my summery goldfish! I saw some initial instructions for a lovely one at Parole de Pate, but being a lazy cane-maker, I could not see myself being patient enough to go through all those steps - so here is my quickie version:

Starting the squishing process, it just looks like a ball of flames at this point...

After reduction, here's my little goldfishie! His body is a little flat, but I like the movement of his tail which I can play with when I'm applying a slice of cane to a surface. My only regret is filling the cane with white instead of translucent clay, since I will now have many white goldfish beads (I think they look great though!). I'll make another with translucent one day!

I've been making lovely earrings and pendants out of this little guy (or gal!). I'll try to post photos soon.

It's a little challenging in my last week of prep for Powell Street Fest, to have a bit of a sore spot on my dominant hand. For the second time in two weeks, I smacked my index finger while playing taiko at a performance a couple days ago and this time the blood spatter was a little more substantial than the first time (that's the scab in the middle of the flap of skin), splattering onto the four drums I was using. It's absolutely true when we say that our blood, sweat and tears are in every one of our group's drums!

It's healing nicely (flap stays closed now), but is a little sore, and I have to stop, and stretch and rest my hands regularly. For the last several years, as a jewellery and cardmaker, my hands have been my livelihood, so I do have to be extra-careful keeping my hands and arms in good working condition. Taiko definitely doesn't help, but it's not like I'll be stopping any time soon! It keeps me sane and grounded and healthy. It's all about balance, I guess.

Ok, time to change my bandage, make a fresh coffee and get back to work...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Still miss you, Mom

It's already been five years since my mom died. Kind of hard to believe. I still miss her, but more often than not, I'm smiling when I think of her... even when I'm missing her. She was a funny, generous and warm person, a wonderful mom and the best Bachan (grandmother).

Our hip & happenin' family in 1975

She loved her games and was deadly at our family favourite, RACK-O.

A "friendly" game of pool in 1972

Pedal-boating with Evan in Edmonton

A friend to all animals, here she is with Ringo of Coquitlam

At our 2002 wedding, Mom was in her glory with her collective pride and joy, all 11 of her grandchildren!

A much-loved activity - drinks and snacks with her big sister

I'll think about you when I pass through New Westminster, as I do every year on my trip to Vancouver. Love you always ♥

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting back into the rhythm of things...

Slowly getting back to the work-from-home routine, to motivating myself to get my butt into gear, to working on some new designs that have been floating around in my leeeetle brain. Still have to work on not getting sidetracked by this thing we call the computer. For a professional procrastinator, the computer is not always my useful and practical friend - surfing has led me to many an unproductive morning. But I digress!

My contract finished a few weeks ago and after a bit of a down, followed by a mad rush of job-searching and online application sending, I am now psyched to get back into my creative work. I'm doing a couple other big events later this summer, but this Saturday is the Journée des bons voisins, hosted by Rue Publique which I'm really looking forward to! St-Viateur will be closed to traffic and there'll be food, activities, yoga in the street and a bike repair workshop :) The craft show is organized by Old Skool Crafts and we'll be in the basement of St. Michael's Church, right on the corner of St-Urbain and St-Viateur.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Benefit concert for Japan!

Been working hard on this show, and it's all coming together...

Arashi Daiko will be performing some of their favourite and most powerful pieces. Don't miss it!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

♪ ♫ Ch-ch-ch-changes... ♫ ♪

"Turn and face the strain..."

Well, it's now 2011 and I've finished week 5 of a temporary work contract which will end in mid May. I am learning to enjoy working outside the studio again and it helps that it's a pretty easy work environment to be in. The biggest adjustment is not having ANY time in my studio to make or work on any jewellery or cards; frustrating at first, but this is temporary and with time, I might even muster up some energy in the evenings to head into the studio. Another big adjustment has been getting up early and going out every day, which means having to care about my hair and if I have crust in my eyes - generally the cats and the mailman don't care about that stuff.

My first week had me marvelling at the fact that I was part of the "work force" again - a bit of an odd feeling after trying to make it on my own (so to speak) for the last few years as a self-employed artisan (again, so to speak). I now feel useful at work, which is a good thing, but I still have a lot to learn - by the time I feel like I totally know what I'm doing, the contract will over :)

I was ridiculously nervous leading up to my first day, but everyone has been super helpful and welcoming. Very different than the people I'm used to, but I am actually enjoying the daily contact with such a variety of people - in spite of my mole-like tendencies, I do like seeing and chatting with people. Really interesting too, in terms of personality dynamics and interactions.

Clothing has been a bit of an issue for me. I got lots of clothes from my sister in Edmonton (thanks Nance!) - kind of standard officey stuff and I did do a fair bit of shopping as well. I often feel like I'm wearing a costume though; I guess I should see it more as a uniform, which a lot of people have to wear at their jobs, right? Now after a few weeks at work, I'm now allowing a bit of my personality into my wardrobe, although I cannot get too granola or grungey or "way out there" since this is a government office and pretty clean-cut... anyway, it's no biggie really. Work costume, it is!

The best thing about this job is that I am contributing substantially to our household and I am so grateful for that. Jean-François has been so amazingly supportive these past several years of my very sporadic business and it feels good to have a regular paycheque to deposit. It is also a very low-stress job, in that I do my stuff when I'm there and I leave it all there once I leave the building. I guess that's a choice as well, but I have made a conscious decision that nothing is going to freak me out at this job. Little daily issues aside, I cannot think of anything at work that is worth getting so worked up over, that it will spill over into my actual LIFE (ie, outside the job).

My creative side is on hold for the moment (well, not really, but you know what I mean) but I'll be back. I cannot really complain about anything. I have my health, my honey, my family and friends, my cats, my passions, a roof over my head, more food than I can eat, more clothes than I could possibly need, a great temp job and a great job to go back to once this contract is over.

Life is good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

We know it's winter when...

... kittehs cannot see beyond the piled-high balcony. My poor Chibi was confused - alas, it doesn't take much to confuse her... Second dumping of snow coming this week-end, but hopefully it will hold off until the end of Sunday, since I'm doing my last craft show of the season:

We'll be 70 sellers strong at St-Michael's Church on the corner of St-Urbain and St-Viateur! Lots of wonderful local talent, great eats, and unique handmade gifts for your friends and family. From 11am to 6pm both Saturday December 11 and Sunday December 12.

Onsight there will be collection boxes for Dans la Rue (meal-type canned goods) and CTV's The Spirit of Giving campaign(lightly used clothing, toys, non-perishable foods), so please bring what you can to make someone else's holiday season a little more merry and bright (^_^).

The show in Edmonton, Make It Edmonton!, was great! Well organized, well attended (despite the Grey Cup parade on Saturday and the game on Sunday) and lots of fun. Tons of amazing artists with beautiful stuff, made some good purchases and trades! Had a super visit with my sister (aka Nancy, my sales associate) and her family too - icing on the cake! Thanks to everyone in Edmonton who came out to the show!_____________________________________________________________

Change is a comin'... I'm starting an outside the studio/house job next Tuesday!!! It's a temporary position until May next year which is perfect since the winter months are pretty scant for me as an artisan. I got a call a couple of weeks ago - out of the blue - to go in for an interview, so I didn't have time to freak out too much, phew!

And well, here I am, ready to start in a few days. I am nervous as heck, but really looking forward to it at the same time. I'll let you know how it all unfolds...