four Wednesdays hence

… I will be wishing I could get comfortable in my cramped Lufthansa airline seat so that I could sleep away the 10-hour overnight flight.

Lufthansa long-haul flight

I will also want to stay awake to watch icy white Greenland slide along below us, 41,000 feet under those wings.

Four Wednesdays hence I will be living my dream of spending a solo month in northern Italy.   I have the round-trip ticket, I have registered for the 5-day classical mosaics class in Ravenna on the east coast, and I know where the flight sets down outside Bologna, but I still don’t know where I’ll lay my jet-lagged head the first night or nights thereafter.  I don’t know if I’m renting a car at the outset or at all.

I do know I will be celebrating my 55th birthday in Italy.  Cinquante cinque ani!

This dream of going to Italy has haunted me for years.  Perhaps once I’m there I’ll be able to articulate the tremendous magnetic desire to be in that tiny country.  Life experiences to now have narrowed like a funnel to point to the concluding reason for the disparate events that all seem to make sense now:

Mom had us studying Latin when we were kids and I continued to study in college.  Gaudeamus igitur, etc. and so forth!

We lived in Taranto way down at the heel of Italy when I was a wee thing and apparently my brother and I spoke conversational Italian to our housekeeper, though we apparently refused to speak Italian to our parents!  Dov’è Laurio?    Andiamo bambini!

The Ancient Italians, those amazing, warring Romans, have had my attention for decades.  They knew how to use concrete as well as any modern concrete contractor!  Amazing!  Underwater!

Some years ago I wanted to learn mosaics, but since I wanted to do outdoor installations, I stopped what I was doing with mosaics to teach myself about concrete as a substrate for those mosaics.  I love working with cement!  I love the smell of admixture in my cement and sand mix in the morning!

Four Wednesdays hence, as I fly to Italy, it will be two years ago almost to the day that I was laid off from a quite fine job, a job from which I believed I would retire with a nice little 401k.   I at least have the little 401k!

These last two years have been an exploration, a rediscovery of the guts I possess that have allowed me to simply try something!  How hard could it be?!  

In an effort to become employable once more, I studied landscape design, but after the third quarter of commuting to school in unfathomable traffic, I called Uncle! and stopped.  Simply stopped.  Panicked.  Didn’t panic.  Wondered and thought and pondered in that nonmoving space and time.

Recovered from the exhaustion brought on by being caught up in the too many people in too-close quarters driving aggressively at 70 mph!   As I came out of the exhaustion, I returned to my spot in the garage and poked around with my concrete stuff again.  Created some oddball stepping stones.  Became inspired, at last being rested and refreshed after a difficult 1-1/2 years, to work on mosaics along with the concrete.

Full circle.  I know concrete as a substrate for outdoor installations.  I learn mosaics in leaps and bounds, absorb knowledge and wisdom from the teachers who have written books.  Knew I wanted badly to go to the seat of Byzantine-era (around 600 CE) mosaics and learn at the feet of master mosaicists.

Still have to earn a living and wondering what in hell to do at my age when I’ve effectively been shut out of the job market.

Boing!  Clink!  Bing!   I shall be a concrete and mosaics artist and I will call the business Concrete Couture (TM).

Four Wednesdays hence, I shall be on my way to Italy, to tie together those disparate experiences, to bring to the fore all the courage I’ve ever had, to try something new, to take a leap of faith, the only net being the Universe, which has cared for this Earthling all these years, kept me alive and showed me how to thrive.

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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Proof that my brain got zapped some time along the way

I’ve been spending a lot of time out in the mosaics and concrete workshop, happily playing with thinset and tiles and daydreaming about the riches that will come my way as a mosaic artist.  (I’m approaching my second year of unwilling unemployment.)

I play music when I’m out there because it inspires me and it drowns out the sound of the buzz of those damn overhead flickering fluorescent tube lights.

Bob Dylan is my hero so I’m always listening to something of his.  The music player is an old tape player, which is convenient since I recorded a boatload of tapes off my record albums (LPs to you young’uns), which should tell you the vintage of the music–late 60s through early 80s.

Hard Rain by Bob Dylan

There I was listening to Bob wail about some lady he loved who hurt him and I had my “brain was reset sometime when I wasn’t looking” moment:

These rock-and-rollers sing about love!  About broken hearts and hopeful hearts.  It truly was news to me, brand new, and I revelled in the realization.

Then, I wondered, how come I didn’t always carry that knowledge with me since I’ve been listening to music since the 60s.   Why was this new?

Because my brain has been cleared of umpty-ump years of memories and new ones are there, wiping out the knowledge that was my foundation.  No wonder I’m confused these days.

You know what helps?  To walk around saying, in a slightly bemused, over-the-top-happy, sing-song voice:

Every day is a brand new day!

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gypsy

A long time ago a friend called me, in Spanish, gypsy.  Other people from time to time, in English, have also referred to my spirit that way.

I have viewed myself as a gypsy, but thought I had more in common with a quixotic search than a roaming life.  Life is an enormous search to feel the breeze of the bits and pieces of existence against my brain.   Because of this internal wiring, I can’t have a sedate life, a life full of predictability and assumption.  I want to be like the other kids, sometimes, but I’m not.  When I was a kid, I would beg the Universe for a boring life.

Accepting limitations is anathema.  Again, I try to fit in, but that internal wiring jolts me.

When I follow that roaming instinct, I feel joy and fully alive.  Parts of my brain feel connected to the parts of the world I’m tasting.  As if the wiring circuits become complete and I’m functioning on all 4 cylinders.  (Can’t be 6 or 8 cylinders because that’s just too much!)

It’s time to make a list of those Taste of the World experiences.  Just for grins.  Just to remind myself that I really am having a good time even though the daily grind does grind.

Time to dash (!) into Big City along the repugnant, incomprehensibly-wrong freeway (free?  hahahaha! huge price to pay to be among humanity that way) to pick up my design drawings from the last class.  Which is another thing.  Hokey-smoke, Bullwinkle!  Do I really have to make a 40-mile trek one-way to go to a class where I am taught for 2 hours, then for the remaining 3  I am teaching myself??!!   Don’t get me going!  I’ve had lots of formal education and this new piece is sposta be preparing me to get back into the workforce, from which I was forcibly ejected because of the economy 1-1/2 years ago!  Yeah, right.

However, those attempts at preparing to return to work have shown me my roaming-ness again.   I prolly need to have a bunch of income-producing activities rather than one job, even though that one job I had was pretty darned good.

How about concrete art?  Garden design?  OK.  >:-D

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ah, weddings…

So, I can’t decide which I appreciated more:  the Standard Poodle being dragged down the aisle by two 5-year-olds or the bride who had to watch that unplanned spectacle, as well as the dog’s leisurely return UP the aisle, and then, on HER trip down the aisle, rather clearly and audibly expressing her dismay:  “F***in’  A!”

We had a lovely time anyway, probably partly because of, and I snagged some bridal flowers to press into the concrete stone I’m making for them.  The stone could be called a stepper, but it is 24 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick!   I’m making a bunch right now that will serve as parts of a patio under our newly finished pergola room.  (Click on the pics to enlarge if you want.)

The Manly Man of the House finishes the pergola room

The finished room

I have five of these stones curing right now.  Into each, I’ve embedded a foam and chicken wire sandwich to lessen the weight–sand is very heavy in this quantity!  [Construction math:  volume of a circle = (2*pi*r) * depth.]

Peony leaves and fish gravel!

See the foam and chicken wire? It's almost covered with the final layer of mix.

Out I go to unmold the fifth stone and see what’s what!

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Collecting rocks

Concrete and cement seem, in hindsight, to be part of the natural evolution of my life.

I’ve always collected rocks and other bits of life seen at my feet.  One time, a 70-year-old friend was helping  me on my 25th move and he lifted one box, groaned, and said, What do you have in here?  Rocks?  I am honest, so said yes.  At least some of them were volcanic from an Alaskan adventure.  I think I wasn’t sposta to collect because I was in a park.  Oopsie.

In college, I tried to stick to the course of study prescribed, but it should have been proscribed because it was a poor fit.  I wandered anyway and took classes I wanted to take like human anat and physiology, Latin, and a class called Greek and Roman Private Life.  Turns out that those pesky Romans knew all about concrete and even used it underwater!  Who knew?   Our puny minds right now think we’ve invented EVERYTHING!  I gather more humility as I age; do you?

So then concrete seeps into my life a hundred and five years later–I can’t remember how–it has been almost 5 years and my brain is filled up with other stuff now.  Probably had something to do with Gaudi’s work in Spain and my desire to mosaic a mansion!

Rats!  I have to go now, but it’s for something fun–meeting and eating with a group of community gardeners and being introduced as someone who is going to present a new design for their work area.  This is unpaid work in the form of an internship and finally a real-life situation for design.  It’s hard to make up designs in class; I do really well listening to other people and hearing what they have to say.  (And that is related to my former career (read:  bad economy) as a technical editor!)

(Finished the gardening meeting–gardeners are a swell bunch!  Now, it’s off to a wedding to watch young people say I Do!)

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rockin’ the Purple

Playing with concrete creations, learning garden design, puttin’ purple in my hair, and that’s just this year.

I’ve had an interesting life so far and have had a richness that I appreciate only now, at 54.

I want to tell how it feels to remove myself from chronic injury, pain, and illness as I work with concrete.  How mixing the concrete reminds me that I understand it a little because I’ve been a baker most of my life.  It helps to be fearless and to have a constant How hard could it be? attitude.

There’s a reason I studied Chinese in college and excelled at it.  It plays directly into garden design–the Chinese characters have life and meaning, rules, and art.  Garden design is like that–understand the language of design, be artful, work within prescribed limits, and take joy in the expression of the intricacies.

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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