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December 09, 2013


Love the photos, Beth. Especially the first one (perfect cat pose). I guess we all struggle to find balance in our life. I feel great at the end of the day when I've accomplished a lot, but I don't like feeling things have gotten out-of-control. I may retreat after busy times for some peace and quiet, but I get itchy if things are too quiet. Does anyone find a perfect balance? Is it possible to have consistently balanced work/play days? I expect my balance comes in spurts of alternating days or weeks: throw myself into being busy and productive; retreat to recharge the batteries; charge back in.

Last year was definitely too busy for me. Too many vacations with associated health problems, too many major outdoor house projects, the death of my father, eye surgery. I went on most of our vacations dreading that we had to add one more thing to my schedule, only to realize once we arrived at our destination that the change of pace was exactly what I needed. For now, despite the holiday bustle, I welcome the peace and quiet of being home and in charge of my own schedule. By the time the family gets together I will be delighted with the commotion.

Congrats on your new projects, Beth. Sounds like a great beginning to a new year.

Wonderful post. I have slowly learned that what I like is having projects with clear goals and deadlines, but great flexibility within that framework. If I have nothing to do - or am tasked with inventing things for myself to do - I get stir-crazy and unfocused. On the flip side, I do poorly with micromanaging and rigid daily schedules. So having projects where I'm accountable to someone else, but allowed to pursue them in my own way on my own schedule day to day, works best for me. I also like it when being efficient means greater freedom and time to do my own thing, rather than more work.

Yes, isn't this day beautiful? I have a friend of 35+ years headed this way from Toronto today and am especially pleased she'll see the city looking better than it has for the past few weeks. I love projects, but not deadlines; does this make sense? Maybe not.

You have so many lovely things to do and a perfectly beautiful cat as well. Rejoice!

Having arrived back from 'relatives-caring', we can now look forward to doing our traditional things, listening to carols and the Messiah on TV and CDs, Christmas dinner with all the trimmings with just Lucy, me and Molly. A good bottle of wine or two, mince pies and Christmas pudding sent from England will round things out very nicely.

No stress, well not much anyway. I rather like to work to deadlines but do not like stress particularly. As the years pass, my quiet time, meditation time, become more and more important.

Thanks, Jan​. I know exactly what you mean about travel and vacations​​ -- but somehow it works out. I'm sorry you've had a rough year and hope the next one is easier.​​ Thanks for continuing to check in here in spite of the busyness!​​ Your photographs always give me a quiet moment in my day, and I treasure that.​

Rana, great to hear from you! Yes: that's why I've always felt happier being self-employed.

Duchesse, yes, everything got covered with a fresh coat of snow and looks so sparkling and white, it's lovely! And what you say does make sense. However, deadlines are rather necessary...

Hattie, I do rejoice, and this little furry being reminds me to keep things simple and take time to just "be."

I hope your holidays are just the quiet time you and Lucy want, Tom. When we get back from my dad's I hope we'll have some days like that too. I made the Christmas cakes yesterday!

To that final question the answer is to become enormously old so that people check to find if you're still sentient before broaching the most modest of proposals. Within the carapace of old age one chooses an occupation that will last to the threshold of oblivion (in my case you can guess, in VR's case it's painting) and pursue it manically. The adverb is important; some kind of imperative is vital even if fabricated.

There is alas one missing element. For a few months during our early married life we lived in a basement flat in Gloucester Place, within walking distance of Oxford Street in London. Both of us had odd days off within the working week. We usually contrived to combine them and would then, still abed, listen to the sound of footsteps along the flag-stoned pavement as people hurried to work. It was there I think I developed an ultimately fruitful fetish for alliteration and for that special ringing tone of stilettos at speed.

The pictures are nice. Bleak, stark but beautiful.

What's difficult is the situation where one has to be productive without the time available to be productive in an useful/worthwhile manner, especially when the timelines are forced on you by another.

At times I like time that meanders around me and teases my inaction, and circles around me before falling asleep itself.

Manon is the most photogenic cat ever and seems to know it. She purposely gets into these heart-melting poses and opens those big green eyes so you'll be sure to reach for the camera. Queen of the cat-walk.

Moi, I love it when work is like play and vice versa. What stresses me out is forced inactivity or unwanted social activity. Deadlines are good, as long as nobody's looking over my shoulder.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.