I often wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes I wake up because there is something on my mind. In those sleepless hours, I’ve resolved business problems and come up with ideas for
growing my business, then gone peacefully back to sleep.
Sometimes a new idea awakens me and I’m excited. Once I created a complete outline for a novel that would have been a best seller – if I hadn’t gone back to sleep and remembered not a word of it in the morning.
But the mornings I hate are those when I go from totally asleep to wide awake in an instant and know there is no hope I’ll fall asleep again for hours. I toss and turn. I get up, roam around the house. When you’re too awake to sleep and too sleepy to think, three o’clock in the morning is a boring time – even with 500 plus TV stations.
You know your insomnia has hit a new peak when get up the next morning and realize you’ve spent two hours posing and reposing your Christmas Moose, naming the poses, and taking poictures of him — perhaps for a giant coffee table book.
Have you ever created a, “tempest in a teapot?” I have. This old saying describes a state I’ve put myself into I don’t know how many times.
Some minor problem comes up (minor means it doesn’t have any big effect on my life, my family, or my business) and I overreact. I fume and fuss and get myself all worked up to a lather. The only good thing about keeping your tempest in a teapot is you usually don’t involve anybody else in it.
“That’s the last straw!” which is, of course, “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” (Charles Dickens)
I’ve been intrigued by that image since I was a little girl. It’s incredible that it was just one straw that did it. Every single straw up to that one was fine. Then came that last, all-powerful straw — and bam!
“Little pitchers have big ears.” When I was little, that’s what one of the grownups would invariable say when they were going to talk about something they didn’t want me to hear. I’d always thought somebody in my family made it up. So I was surprised, and a little offended, to hear a stranger say it. “Little pitchers have big ears.”
But when the stranger said it I heard it in a different way. I reflected on the words and it occurred to me, pitchers don’t have anything that could be called ears. Some ancient amphorae had two handles that could be called ear-like, but they didn’t say amphorae. They clearly said pitchers.
Maybe pitchers wasn’t the right word. I suppose it could have been pictures – I’ve heard people pronounce the words the same way. But pictures don’t have ears either. So did they mean the people in little pictures had inordinately large ears. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be unkind to not only say it but turn it into a maxim?
“Root hog, or die.” Now there’s a great one. It gets right down to where we live. It’s about self-reliance, taking action, and standing on your own two feet. It proves another of my favorite quotes. “How you feel and what you have to do today have nothing to do with each other.” (author unknown)
I asked a few people about it. Thet’d never heard of it and didn’t get it. I told them I”d seen the hogs on Uncle Gus’s farm rooting around in the ground for food. I looked it up and thanks to Wikipedia learned it came from colonial times and has inspired several songs including one written in 1856 by G. W. H. Griffith
I’m right from old Virginny wid my pocket full ob news,
I’m worth twenty shillings right square in my shoes.
It doesn’t make a bit of difference to neither you nor I
Big pig or little pig, Root, hog, or die
And a folk song:
Sometimes it’s dreadful stormy and sometimes it’s pretty clear
You may work a month and you might work a year
But you can make a winning if you’ll come alive and try
For the whole world over, boys, it’s root hog or die.
I had what I thought was a great idea – to draw cartoon faces of all the people on my staff for the website. I figured it would be a quick and fun project so I jumped right in. That was 17 months ago and I’m almost finished.
The first I drew was, of course, the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Magoo, soft-coated Wheaten terrier.
He was easy – he has no bad side.
The next was going to be my business partner, Jenni O’Toole. But she wasn’t so easy. Drawing after drawing went, crumpled, into the trash. I couldn’t get her whole face to come together and I totally couldn’t get the mouth right. The best one looked like the Cheshire cat. I decided to put her aside and go on to draw the staff.
Maura and Colleen were easy. Get the hair right and the nose and mouth will follow.
I thought I did a pretty good job with Alex, but he said he would really prefer to have a professional do his face. I hadn’t
captured his essence.
I gave up on his essance and went on to Andrew and Emily, our recruiters in the temporary division.
Wendy was by far the easiest, because she obliged me by posing
which allowed me to capture her best side.
I had just two more to do before I had to face Jenni again.
Drawing Leslie, our resident fashionista, wasn’t too hard,
but she was disappointed
that I didn’t do justice to her outfit
Then I came to Marcia. She’s our business manager. She’s scary. She demanded over a dozen proofs. After she finally chose one, I had go back and add a soft lighting effect. Talk about prima donnas!!
At last she picked one and I had nobody left to draw except Jenni.
I tried but STILL couldn’t get Jenni’s face to come together.
Then I got a brilliant idea that meant I didn’t have carry the burden of drawing her whole face.
All I needed was to draw a wall and have Jenni
looking over it.
Collection after collection, it’s a rollicking trip through portraits of American leaders, heroes, cowboys and Native Americans, and two of my favorite Edward Hopper paintings, to the gilded age and a grand piano from the Teddy Roosevelt Whitehouse, and monumental Pac Man games. I saw my first, live and in person, Grandma Moses painting!
With all the wonders of the collection, what I can’t quit thinking about is not the art. It’s the people who work in the museum. I’ve rarely experienced anything like it. From the woman at the front desk, to the guards, to the clerk in the museum store, they all had something special and rare that is a lesson for everybody who has a job anywhere. They loved their jobs!! It showed in their enthusiastic answers. It showed in their curiosity! It showed in their pride.
I asked the woman at the front desk if there was a map. Such a pedestrian question, but she reacted as though this was her opportunity to share the wonders of the museum with me.
Later, we were looking at a display of Tiffany glass. A guard came over, not to tell us we were leaning too close, but to say, “Tell me. What’s with this glass? What’s so special?” He and my son went on to have a conversation about the delicacy, the colors… I moved on – too intellectual for me.
Finally we went to the bookstore. I asked the clerk if there was a book on the folk art collection. “There are two. This is the book on the current collection. I always tell people we have two and this one is my favorite, but come over here. This is an old one but it has the full collection, and it’s on sale — a great deal.” He stopped to tell another couple they could find a better book on artists of the blacklist in another room.
I bought both of the books he recommended and took them to his desk. He asked, “Did you see the Lichtenstein sculpture?” Alex asked if it was the cowboy in front?
“No. It’s out this door and around. Go see it. New York gave it to us! They gave it to us FOR FREE! And it’s a Lichtenstein. Go see it!”
There’s a question here: Do you love your job this much? If you don’t, quit, go find one you do. Not only will it change your life, but all those you encounter.
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- MR. MAGOO AND THE CHRISTMAS MOOSE
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