December 21, 2008

The Longest Night


Here we go again. A perfect winter scene for the winter solstice.

Along with pretty much all of Canada, we're buried in snow today. I'm thinking that, when Irving Berlin wrote his White Christmas, he clearly forgot what a pain it is to have to shovel snow three times a day.

Yeah, yeah, it's beautiful and the garden looks like a fairy tale. And I've been swimming in nostalgia; the cold weather has sent me tripping down memory lane, revisiting my memorized Toronto Christmases and looking back, Scrooge-like, at images of my kid self. Oh look, there's me skating on the outdoor rink at High Park and there's my dad, with his strange hat and a cup of hot chocolate waiting...

In my present reality, I finally got around to Christmas cookies yesterday afternoon, finishing my baking marathon this afternoon accompanied by CBC radio's annual "Joy to the World" Christmas broadcast and snowflakes falling outside the windows.
A cozy scene for sure except that behind, and despite, all the Christmas icons, Oliver seems to be dying: silently battling through the string of his nine lives with whatever sudden thing seized him four days ago when he stopped eating and drinking and pretty much moving.
The antibiotics and pain killers the vet gave him haven't helped; he struggles against the water and watered down food we force into him, and spends his days crouched in the corners of the house purring weirdly if we touch him and moaning if we pick him up.

This year, with the prediction of an additional 10 cms overnight, it's not a white Christmas I'm dreaming of. This year, more than ever, as I cope with a collection of minor calamities and the dying cat, I dream of childhood innocence.

December 09, 2008

Ten Thousand Miles to the Top

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
Thomas Edison
An article in the Dec. 1st issue of MacLean's magazine, entitled How to be a Success, picks up that same theme and expands on it. According to author Malcolm Gladwell:
"The idea that exellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000".
Gladwell cites the names of a number of well known people who have achieved success and offers his examples of the 10,000 hours they each put in, in one way or another.

R pointed out the article to N and me to inspire N to greater levels of diligence but, of course, it got me to calculating just how much time I've put into my printmaking (at 2 hours per day for the last 3 years) and how many days I have left to go before I manage to arrive at excellence. I figure that, at the same rate I've been going so far, I have over 10 years of practise left to get through. Hmmm. Sometimes, it's better not to think about stuff too much but just do it.

On that note though, the doing is being interferred with these last couple of weeks. As if Christmas around the corner and me with no baking, no shopping, and no enthusiasm for doing either wasn't bad enough, the hot water tank exploding and flooding my parents' suite downstairs last week now adds to my angst. Between dealing with the clean-up and then the restoration issues there's been little time for any art work.

This week it seems to be the restoration company who's striving for the 10,000 hour mark by proposing to spend the next six weeks in the basement suite, getting things back to normal. Maybe sometime between Christmas and January I'll find some time for my next print. Until then, I'm reviewing theory and reading a couple of Andrew Loomis books I downloaded and had printed.