Sunday, September 30, 2012

On being easily amused

"Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the company store."

I took the day off from beadmaking. Imagine that. My workaholic husband took his first day off after something like 18 days straight working or maybe it was 21. Of course he is in his home office answering work emails as we speak, or as I type, as the case may be.

I can't really complain because I got him this way, although I think he has gotten worse. When we met he always worked at least one day every weekend, usually Sunday. Now he usually works both days, and when I say work, I mean he goes to his office and puts in 8 hours. The only time he ever really permits himself to enjoy is his 9/80 every-other Friday off.

He explained it to me once, that those Fridays were different than weekends because they were given to him, whereas working weekends was a choice or something like that made no sense to me. When I was working, by which I mean a paycheck driven day job, it made me sad that he would take those Fridays off and work all weekend. Now it's better because I can take those Fridays off too. Because while I may not be punching the proverbial time clock, I am busting my butt trying to make my bead and frit businesses float.

As I said, since he worked like a lunatic from the time I met him, I have to accept him the way he is. And if it bothers me, it is more from the perspective that I worry he will work himself into the ground, by which I mean 6 feet under. He doesn't just work, he carries the geophysical weight of the world around the clock.

He's a numbers guy, as I've mentioned before. He tells me he has 135 emails in his inbox. I suspect some of them are reminders about the safety fair or people wanting to go out to lunch, but he insists each one of them requires him to read it, think about it, take action on it. He walks around the house saying, "so much to do, so much to do." And I give my standard answer, "sorry sweetie."

He freely admits that he fantasizes about retirement. He has a candy jar into which he has counted a certain number of tic-tacs in red, orange, yellow and green and he eats one for every paycheck. Well, originally they were skittles, but my daughter's boyfriend ate some. A candy jar of skittles in the TV room looked just like a traditional candy jar of skittles in a TV room, there for the traditional reason of enjoying some sweets with your tube. (And yes, ours still is a tube.)

Neil of course was horrified, so now the replacement tic-tacs are in a jar that I made a label for. It says "Property of Neil. Do not eat. Unless you are Neil."

I think the green ones are the last to go and run out when he turns 60. But he says he won't make it that long. And I say, he will never retire. He may get to the point where he can relax a bit, knowing that he could walk out the door if he wanted to. But I just can't visualize him actually giving notice. His father retired at the age of 60, and was immediately courted and lured back to work by a competitor, after which he worked until he was 69. He woke up one January day in New Jersey and faced with the prospect of another cold commute to New York City, he said, I'm done.

Neil's career finale may take a different tack, especially since we live in Texas where there are few sub-freezing days. There are some obstacles to overcome first. For one thing, when you have been a workaholic for 30 some years, you don't have much time to develop hobbies and interests. Strictly speaking, that isn't true, Neil has hobbies and interests. Such as his interest in sports. And his hobby of collecting toys for boys. Which in itself is an obstacle because after you retire you may not be able to blow $3,000 on some piece of precious folderol without a second thought.

Honestly, Neil is easily amused, and I say that to him regularly. He will sit at a college graduation and read the program of 700 names and analyze the diversity of the demographic, or count the number of people named Neil, or people whose names begin with an N. He will research the entire cast of a movie we've watched with especial interest in how many of the cast members are still alive. OK, so we watch a fair number of vintage classics.

Tonight we watched just a few minutes of a 1948 movie called The Fallen Idol, a story told through the eyes of a young boy played by actor Bobby Henrey. Neil calculated how old the actor would be today. If he still is alive. Turns out he is 73 and very much alive. He became an accountant and retired in 1997. I love Google and Wikipedia. So I'm a lot like Neil in that respect.

Anyway, today was a nice day, a bit overcast, a bit of rain. I cleaned yesterday's beads and took pictures but didn't get as far as editing them or listing anything new. I renewed some expired listings and added another bead to my clearance section. My big goal for tomorrow is to launch my two newest frit blends. One is already available in my shop and the other will be tomorrow. They are called Afterglow and Chelsea Garden.

Afterglow is a tribute to my father, whose favorite color was "sky blue pink," the color of one of those salmon pink and denim blue glorious sunsets. Chelsea Garden is named partly for my daughter, Chelsea Leigh, and partly for the china pattern that got me interested in lampwork in the first place. I had a saved search on ebay for "Chelsea Garden" that started when I bought a Spode sugar bowl and creamer at an antique show. There are several fine china patterns by various manufacturers, and I was collecting them. A lampwork artist from New England listed a set of beads that she named Chelsea Garden.

I didn't buy that set but I did start watching her auctions and eventually bid on and won two of her sets. When I opened the package, the beads literally took my breath away. My immediate thought was, all I had to do was string them, nothing more was needed, they were so beautiful they stood alone. I have them in a box, in the tissue paper they came wrapped in, and occasionally I take them out and look at them. I still think they are pretty, but I've come a long way baby and my lampwork bead tastes have matured.

I have a collection of other artists' beads now and I'm drawn to focals, although I have some sets in my collection. I buy some with the full intent of making earrings or gifts, but I rarely do. Tonight I did restring a couple of necklaces with my own beads. I'm not sure why. I'm not really a jewelry maker. And my bead jewelry has never sold well. Even at the one "craft show" I did that wasn't a bead show, I sold more loose beads than sets. So maybe I'll give them as gifts, or maybe I'll donate them to a charity. It's just something I like to do sometimes.

What I really want to do is make some enamel pieces for mixed media designs with my beads. I have some ideas, but always the call of the torch wins the competition for my time and creative energy. But it's definitely on my list, Number Five with a Bullet. Which coincidentally is the name of a song by Taking Back Sunday, a rock band from Rockville Centre, NY.

I bought Neil a T-shirt with their logo. But it ain't happening tomorrow.

The upside is guilt-free torch time. And I won't ever complain about that.

"You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go,
I owe my soul to the company store."
Merle Travis or possibly George Davis, recorded most famously by Tennesee Ernie Ford.

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