Alas, 2015

Twenty years ago, I toasted the first dawn of the new year alone from the quiet solitude of my porch on Ohio Avenue in Warren, Ohio.  I was truly on my own for the first time in years, having moved two counties north over Christmas week. Previous attempts had failed. I needed geography to help me break free from an unhealthy relationship with a man who had divorced me twice.

My excuse was my car, an old beater that I had purchased at a yard sale for $500 and kept running with prayer and a Chilton’s book. The daily commute was too much. If my car broke down, if the winter was too harsh, if I could not get to work, I could lose my new job… I needed to live within walking distance to the firm that had hired me just months earlier to do electrical drafting and design.

It was a good excuse.  Jobs were hard to come by, especially for women in Appalachian regions of Ohio in the late 1980s and early 90s, and one of his excuses to divorce me the second time was some nonsense about how he needed a wife who could work, that it was too hard to survive on one income, and his buddies had told him that it did not matter what my scholastic accomplishments were, the fact was that no one would ever hire me.  In time, I tripled his income.

I cannot remember if I painted that first year. It was the first year I could, so maybe I did?

I know I did the next year, and for years thereafter.  I had this idea that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Eve is what will set the tone for the new year, so I would set up an easel with a fresh canvas and paint through the night. Then, as birds chirped anticipation, I would make myself an Irish coffee and slip outside to wait for the first rays of light so I could toast the dawn of the new year.

Some years were bitter cold, crisp and frosty, or blanketed in snow.

There is no snow this year.  The sun is bright.  I have not painted since before Winsor & Newton discontinued their Finity line of acrylics, so buttery and smooth… I haven’t tried their new line.

Last night, I took my granddaughter to First Night Youngstown so our New Year’s Eve celebration included face painting, African dancers, pizza, ice sculpture, origami, balloons, clowns, and two fun packed trips to the Oh Wow! Science Museum for Children.  We walked back to my apartment here in downtown Youngstown before 8:30 and she was asleep by ten.

Pizza time at 20 Federal

Pizza time at 20 Federal

As for this grandma, I was snuggled warm in my own bed texting with an old friend when the ball dropped at midnight, drifting out soon thereafter.

Twenty years and seven moves later, I am still on my own.

A lot of changes have come and gone. I have survived and thrived, crashed and burned, been up and down and turned around. Yet, tick tock life goes on. Good things are coming.

Alas, it is 2015.


Holiday & Hybernation

wpid-IMG_20140104_085441.jpgI have provisions:  milk, bread, beads, coffee, cigs, pencils, cereal, etc.   It is January.  And it is frigid  COLD here in Ohio.  The sunlight pouring through my windows is deceptive.   As I write, it is only 10 degrees Fahrenheit out there, but it feels like minus 4.  The day will warm up, but the bitter is coming.  Bing weather predicts Tuesday as the worst with a minus 14 at 8AM, then warming up to flat zero by 6PM.  Of course, that is subject to change.  Every time I glance at the weather predictions, the numbers seem to have shifted slightly.  I don’t think they really know enough to accurately predict by hour so many days ahead.

Anyway, I don’t do bitter cold well.  My bones lock up and nerves complain, so I am just going to hibernate until the weather breaks.   I will leave my apartment, but I am not leaving this building unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

So, how was your holidays?  Happy New Years, and all that jazz.

I had a good holiday.

We had a little Christmas Eve gathering with the grandchildren at my place, then I went down to Salem with the Xman.   We hung out at his new house for awhile.   It is not exactly new anymore, just new to me as I hadn’t seen it before.  He moved there after his house burned down in 2012.  With his permission, I snapped a photo of this old photo to post on Facebook with an “anyone remember these boys” just for grins, as children of two of the young men in the old photograph have children on my friend’s list.  

Left to right, the late Buck Brown, the Xman, and Billy Joe Van Cooney.

Left to right, the late Buck Brown, the Xman, and Billy Joe Van Cooney.

It’s a bad photo, but considering it is a photo of a photo that survived a fire… not bad at all.

I like this photo because it shows all three of them together. I don’t know what year this photo was taken, might have been a year or so before or even that same summer; it is hard to tell trying to base time by the Xman’s balding pattern. Bill moved to Holmes County years ago and Buck died two… no, it’s been three years now.

One of the reasons I posted it was because I wanted my daughter to see her dad as he was when I met him. Kids should get a glimpse of time before them, to see their father as just a boy hanging out with his friends.

I stayed a couple nights at my sister’s house, spent Christmas day visiting with family who lives in and around Salem, and celebrated New Year’s Eve at First Night Youngstown.  (I gave the spare badge to a neighbor who was planning on going and had yet to buy his ticket.)   At midnight, I was already home snuggled in my bed so if what you do at midnight influences the coming year, I should get plenty of rest in 2014.

If I have any resolutions for this year, it will be to make smaller art again…  here is a cell phone photo of the drawing I chopped down to 5×7 and finished on New Year’s Day.  There is a story behind the Two Faced woman, but I shall tell you that another day… a case of life infiltrating art.

Two Faced

Two Faced

Two tickets


Score!  Two tickets to First Night Youngstown for the price of one.   It was a “two for $10” sale in the lobby of 20 Federal today during the Christmas Festival.    I asked, “How much for one?”  $10.  Oh.  One for ten or two for ten, guess I’ll take two.  Now I have an extra ticket in case I want to ask someone to go with me.  Oh.  I might have to think about who to ask as asking someone out for New Year’s Eve is kind of like saying, “I want you to kiss me at midnight.”   That’s not such a bad thing, but it kind of falls under the category of “be careful what you wish for”  so I don’t want to just give it to anyone.  Maybe I will wait to see if First Night ever comes up in conversations, play it by ear.

I took lots of parade photos with my trusty but now so obsolete a pawn shop won’t even take it Konica Minolta Maxxum D7 but I cannot share them because the pictures are stuck in the camera until I find (or buy a replacement) USB cord.   I used to just pop the memory card out and stick it into the slot on the computer, but my new pc only has slots for smaller cards.   The photo here was snapped back at home by cell phone.

Curious.  How do you eat chestnuts?

They make great pocket warmers.  There was a guy uptown roasting chestnuts over an open fire.  He said to just peel it and eat it.  It’s hard and tastes a little like coconut.   Is it okay to grate it over something?