Simone de Beauvoir

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Housework in Space !

I was quickly reminded of Madame deBeauvoir's thoughts on domestic chores:  “Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

Even in space, domestic chores are futile!
For more amazing photos from space, click here

Prizes! Prizes! Oh My Prizes!

The prizes have started to arrive and my excitement continues to build about the contest.  Maybe it's the amazingly good-looking UPS man and his flirtatious ways that have me "twitterpaited" as Bambi would say. 

I know I have plenty of readers who are creative, so put on your "Re-Purposing" caps and get started.  One artistic reader offered using a beer stein as a pencil holder, a vase as a toothbrush holder (which counts as two re-purposes since the word can be pronounced with a long "a" or short one), and making a bracelet out of buttons.  Dare I say this reminded me of THE WATCH at Funky Chicken Art Project so much so that I needed a moment to collect myself before continuing to read. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Contest Prizes

Yes, my beloved readers, you may quiet your minds for I have prizes for the "Re-Purposing" Contest.  They are expected to arrive soon--my anticipation grows as does my desire to keep them for myself--and will be photographed for posting and your viewing promptly. 

It's my hope that they exceed my expectations.  Granted, an expectation is a resentment waiting to happen--something which I learned the hard way and may I also add that it's a lesson that's worth repeating, so I do it periodically--and I therefore hope the prizes do not disappoint.

All that having been said, my dear reader, I haven't heard a peep from you regarding entries.  I do hope the silence is a result of your brains working diligently on entries and not apathy. 

For  my newer readers who might find themselves intrigued and yearning for details about the contest, I encourage you to view the post of Monday, June 14 below.

Selfishly I might add that should no one enter the contest, I will happily enjoy the prizes myself and be forever grateful to you, my dear readers! 

Wouldn't that be an interesting twist on re-purposing?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Funky Chicken Art Project

I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful, inspiring, and fun place today:  The Funky Chicken Art Project.  It's name describes it perfectly.  The location is a studio and gallery with droves of artwork.  Live animals abound.  In fact, my greeter was an adorable dog named Mouse.  I felt like I was visiting family as he joyfully approached me as I stepped out of my vehicle.
My next greeter was two-legged, Christina White, owner and artist in resident.  I shared that I had visited the website and was curious to see what artistic talent lurked within the primitive barn-like structure.  Ms. White was a fountain of information about the artists represented as well as the gallery. 

The bright colors burst from artwork of all forms and media.  An artist traveled from Pennsylvania and left a number of hand-painted "people".  I think the benches were hers as well, but I could be mistaken.  If you really need to know for sure, you can send an email with your question here.  I don't think Mouse handles e-mails, but I could be wrong. 

As a courtesy, I asked if it would be alright to photograph items and post them on my blog because,  I am offering a wonderful contest for my beloved readers, and I was hoping photos would serve as inspiration.   Specifically, I wanted to see a piece of jewelry that had been shown on the FCAP website.  It was an incredible example re-purposed jewelry. 

Having ogled it on the website, planned my day around a trip to FCAP in order to purchase it, and justifying the $150 purchase with the idea that would have made the perfect accessory for every outfit I could design from my wardrobe, I asked to see the watch.  Sadly, it was no longer in the studio.  I was wallowing in disappointment, so I don't know if it was sold or if Mouse decided to learn to tell time. 

It's important to share that I haven't worn a watch in probably eight years.  Why?  There are plenty of clocks around to let me know the time:  bedroom, bathroom, computer, cell phone, microwave, car, stove, and the frequent announcement from the DJ.  Clearly this had to be some sort of watch to break my watchless rebellion. 

You might also need to know that the website clearly states that the inventory is currently sold out.  Apparently I was too busy fantasizing about the watch on my wrist that I didn't see that silly little sentence.

Enough about the watch.  I'm over it, really.  Did I mention that I was silver?  I only wear silver jewelry--or white gold and probably wouldn't turn down platinum--and find constant frustration with all those gold pieces.

Anyway, Christina enlightened me to the idea of artwork is copyrighted.  In other words, if I took a photo of something--a watch, perhaps--and someone copied the watch, they'd be guilty of copyright infringement.  She went on to share that people actually go to art shows, photograph various items, have the items mass produced overseas and leave an artist empty-handed for their time and effort.  It is my hope that my shock was somewhat masked. 

I've heard about plagiarism ad nausea.  As a photographer, I've signed copyright agreements.  Copyright for artists?  Who knew?!?  I didn't, that's for sure.  Clearly the only solution was to keep my camera safely fastened in its case and walk through the gallery, taking only memories. 

It seemed like a wonderful plan until I stepped into the sculpture garden and found myself with a trigger finger.  OK, I could photograph the animals.  But wait, does God have a (c) on His creatures?  I'd hate to go up against Him in a courtroom.  What about the plants? 

I am not making light of this.  Reproducing ideas is stealing.  STEALING.  It doesn't matter if it's printed matter or a fabulous sculpture.  Stealing is stealing.  I went so far as to Google "Copyrights for Artists" and found this at the website  Copyright for Artists

You also have the moral imperative to respect the rights of other artists, and to have your rights treated with the same consideration.

Regrettably, I can't share photos of the wonderful works of art I experienced today because it worries me.  I can share my memories Mouse, the roosters, the pheasants, and the two pieces of art that gave me pause. 

The first one is a wonderful woman with a broad-brimmed hat among plants.  The instant I saw her, I decided her name should be "Mother Earth" because, donned in a colorful apron, sitting among her beloved greenery, she epitomized a loving female, tending to her loved ones.  Her name is Otha and she is the work of Virginia Bullman and LaNelle Davis. 

A little farther down the path, there stands a marvelous two pieced work of art.  Two female figures face each other with their hands raised.  It's titled "Time Passages" and is also the work of Virginia Bullman and LaNelle Davis.  The dress of one is decorated with the phases of the moon; the other various designs of the sun.  I strolled by the piece and reflected on how time passes--all too often it passes quickly--and how Simone once said, "live with no time out". 

I can--and will--happily share the FCAP website with you and you can plan your trip. Check out  funkychicken.  If you go, tell Mouse I said hello, give my regards to the roosters, and maybe you can bring me back a souvenir in the form of a watch ?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Today is History

I just uncovered an interesting historical tidbit: on June 18, 1983, Sally Ride, a young physicist from California took her seat aboard the space shuttle and launched into history as the first American woman in space as a mission specialist on STS-7"

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Blogged is RePurposed

So far the blog postings have all been about me.  I've written about Simone de Beauvoir, a non-traditional woman with numerous non-traditional beliefs.  You now know of my non-traditional path to earn a college degree.  The idea of non-traditional books (e-readers) and its impact on traditional books has been discusses. 

Now it's your turn, dear reader.  I want to hear from you.  But, there's a catch. And a contest!  I am convinced that you are creative, intelligent, and even non-traditional. 

You are hereby officially challenged, my dear reader, to take an everyday item and not use it in its traditional manner.   I've scoured the universe--or atleast my little universe--to provide some examples.  Yes, we all know that if you need an ottoman, take an old suitcase, add table legs, available at your local Home Depot and in no time, an ottoman. Ever wonder what to do with all those dominoes ~ no, not the pizzas ~ how about a serving tray? I've personally taken a frame, added drawer handles and made a tray. I also learned the reason behind the adage, "measure twice, cut once". But enough about me; it's about you, my dear reader.

The zipper rose is provided for your inspiration by

As we all know, readers have books; therefore readers need shelves.  This is one heck of a way to re-purpose a table or two.   I'm on the verge of coveting this.  Mind you I said coveting and not creating.

Lest you think this creation was an original idea, check out my source:

Are you more into clothing design?  How's this for re-purposing some duct tape and a phone book?   
The simple addition of a strand of pearls, and viola! a delightful cocktail dress.  Bet it comes in yellow, as well :-)  Note to self:  Avoid open flames.  The dress was discovered at

Here's one that easy-schmeezy ~ right up my alley because it involved moving the item from one room to another.  Whew!  Talk about hard work :-)  All I did was go to

Now, here are the details you really want:

Prizes:  While you work on your submission(s), I'll work diligently on  prizes. . . stay tuned. 

Deadline:  July 18 (roughly a month) 

Rules:  The item(s) must be used in a way for which they were not originally designed.  Post a photo of your entry along with a few sentences about what its use(s) now are.  In other words, how has it been re-purposed.  Stacks of empty cans are not considered re-purposed into room dividers; dirty clothes on the floor are not considered re-purposed into area rugs.  We're looking for something way more creative than turning t-shirts into pillows.  You may enter as often as you'd like.

Winner Notification:  The winning entry will be posted on my blog.  The final decision of the judges is that:  final. 

So, as the song goes "show me".  I'm anxiously awaiting entries.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Truth is . . . Painful Yet Comfortable

“I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth - and truth rewarded me.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Growing up, I'd been told things about people, family members and those I'd never met; a celebrity, too, and these little facts became personal connections for me.  Links to another human being that made me feel unique.  Special.  They basically assured me, in their own way, that my idiosyncracies were "quirks" and their combination made me "character".  They validated me.  No, they vindicated me.

Ironically, I now know that two of these tidbits are fallacies.  My first discovery rocked my world.  I doubted so much of what I'd been told.  Was anything true?  My mind raced.  If that was a lie, what else was?  Why lie about such a thing?  In the scheme of things, it really isn't important.

Another fabrication was discovered earlier today when I read an email.  After some whirling thoughts, I settled my mind with the question "how important is it" and reflected awhile.  I've realized that it's not so much what was lied about but why the lie was told that has me angry. 

When these two items were "the truth", they were part of my identity, as I'd said before.  One gave me a connection to a celebrity (Patricia Neal).  It is a mere two "degrees of separation" between Ms. Neal and myself.  The connection inspired me to read her book, As I Am, and after doing so, I developed a tremendous respect for the woman.  I'm fairly certain Simone would have loved Ms. Neal, too, had they met.  Her faith in God and her tenacity to recover from a debilitating stroke encouraged me to work harder on my writing.  Afterall, Neal had a stroke; I had "Writer's Block". 

The connection has to do with her son, Theo, and myself.  As infants we were patients of the same world-reknown neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Ransahoff.  He save my life and that of Theo.  I'd spoken to Dr. Ransahoff a number of years ago and found him to be reassuring, kind, and very knowledgeable.  I'm forever greatful to Dr. Ransahoff and told him so during our conversation.  He died in 2001. 

While reading As I Am, I learned more about Theo's accident and uncovered the first untruth.  Basically, the story is that Dr. Ransahoff was given credit for doing something that someone else did.  The story circulated within my little world, so it was of no significance to any one else.

As I said before, the second lie came about earlier today, after reading an email.  Again, it's not the lie, it's the reason behind it that bothered me.  Why lie?  What was wrong with the truth?  What else is a lie?

So, it saddens me to think that the credibility of one person is just about shot.  What's that expression--once it's a fluke, twice it's a pattern, three times and it's a behavior?  I am grateful for the truth, somewhat embarrassed to have shared the lies--half truths--with others.  I console myself with the fact that I was unaware of the incorrect information. 

Ironically, as a child of about five or six, I'd learned an expression from my cousin Laura:  "Do you have the audacity to doubt my veracity or even insinuate that I might prevaricate?"  Apparently, at this point, I do have audacity to doubt someone's veracity. 

I have found myself, yet again, facing a truth. A difficult truth as it isn't harsh per se, but it rocked all that I once knew. Two truths were, in fact, lies. Someone lied. Two untruths make one a liar. Interesting math.  The truth has rewarded me.  No, it wasn't comfortable learning these truths, but, having learned them, I am more comfortable with who I really am and not who I thought I was. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Inscribed, Signed, or Downloaded; that is the question

I have always loved reading.  Vividly I can recall reading The Secret Garden and being so engrossed that during one summer evening's trip to McDonald's, I begged my parent to have the family eat in the car so I could continue reading.  Today, I can't recall the exact point of the story which kept me so engaged, but I can recall with a sour taste in my mouth the combination of pickle and mustard that jolted me from the pages.

My first childhood memory of McDonald's was having someone approach my father and taking down our order on a pad of paper.  I smile as I recall my young sister, maybe four or five years of age, confidently telling our teenaged waitress she wanted "a hot dog with ketchup."  I digress.

As a result of this passion for reading, I have joined a number of book clubs--and had the tote bags to prove it until they took over storage closets and were donated to Goodwill or the nearby thrift store benefitting a charity.  To me, membership in such clubs had its privileges, as the expression goes:  great reading and a bargain!  A zillion books for $.99 plus shipping and handling, of course. 

I've moved a time or two or three and the easiest boxes to pack were those containing books.  Small piece of free advice, here, dear reader:  always pack books in small boxes so that they are manageable.  Unpacking them made each new residence feel like home.  Once my shelves were stocked with my books, it seemed as if I'd lived in the house forever. 

One of my favorite rooms EVER was in the movie Beauty and the Beast in which Belle must climb a ladder to reach a book on the upper shelves.  If I'm not mistaken, Professor Henry Higgins also had such a room in his home in My Fair Lady.  It is my goal to have a room such as this one day.

The oldest book I own is Living Free by Joy Adamson, the sequel to Born Free.  Its jacket is tattered and lists the price as a whopping $5.95.  This hardcover, first edition, has a copyright of 1961.  These books tell the story of Elsa the lioness that Joy and her husband, George, raise and eventually return to the wilds of Africa.  My copy was that of my grandfather who died when I was a child of five.  Not only does the book hold sentimental value, it also reminds me of a childhood dream:  to go on an African safari.  I had seen the movie and decided that I was my generation's Joy Adamson.  As such, my dream developed into an obsession as witnessed by the massive quantity of stuff animals lions (each bearing his or her own name), lion-themed needlework projects, and photos of lions nicely decorating my lavender and lilac colored bedroom. 

I have two other books which remain sentimental favorites:  Lucy Gayheart and  Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather.  These paperbacks were given to me as a "Get Well" gift many years ago by my high school English teacher, Frank Tassone.  It had been a number of years since I'd been a student of his, but he'd heard I was ill and sent the gift to my home.

My book collection now is no longer vast, but significant.  The books I purchase and keep have meaning for me, as is typical for most avid readers.  My inscribed books are highly-prized.  Former New York Mayor Ed Koch personally inscribed a note in his book, Mayor, to me as did Mark Bryan (The Prodigal Father), Bonnie Robinson (He/She/Eye), Tracey Sutton (The Assignment), Anne Purcell (Love & Duty), and Deborah Smith (The Crossroads Cafe  and On Bear Mountain).  I do have a number of books that were simply autographed (Brett Butler, Elizabeth Boyle, Billy Roper, and Amy Blackmarr, among others). 

I have books that have inspired me on a variety of levels.  Ann Hood's The Knitting Circle had me glued to in an effort to learn to knit.  I have, by the way, learned the craft.  Need a scarf?  From Baghdad, With Love was the reason why we chose a German Shepherd for our family pet.  On a more personal note, he's just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo has been read a time or two for obvious reasons.  The Last Lecture ~ I DARE you to admit that book left you untouched. . . and dry-eyed. 

I've shared this inventory with you not to impress you (but feel free to be, if you'd like), not to ask you to send me an autographed copy of your own book (again, feel free to do so, if you'd like), but to have you consider the impact e-readers will have on such treasures as an autographed book.  It saddened me to think that such events as author signings are becoming rare.  Now you can befriend your favorite author in facebook.  I proudly list Elizabeth Boyle as my facebook friend ~ have I impressed you?  I follow other authors on Twitter.  It's my dream they'll follow me ~ just to see what their competition is up to :-)

Then again, is it possible that e-readers will add to the value of such a rare item as a book?   Will the elimination of books require me to take out a serious amount of Homeowner's Insurance?  Do I need a security system strictly for my bookcases?

This post is not to discourage e-reading.  At this point I have not developed an opinion either way on the devices, and, even if I had, I wouldn't impose it on you, my reader.  I just know how much I treasure my autographed books and how I can't get Kitty Kelly to autograph her latest work, Oprah,  if it's only available on an e-reader.
I thought you, my beloved readers, might enjoy a photo of Simone de Beauvoir.  As I am not fully aware of copyright issues--and deeply desire avoiding such things at all costs--I have posted the link from where the wonderful image was taken.  I am grateful to the folks who supplied the image.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Non-Traditional Thoughts

A few years ago, I made the decision to return to college and finish my degree, which I had started upon graduating high school. OK, honestly, the decision was basically made for me: my husband left, my job was being dissolved, and I wasn't able to afford the house payment, let alone gas in the car, heat and A/C, and that lovely necessity, food. It was painfully obvious that a college degree really was the key to a brighter--financially stable--future.

During my junior year of high school, I applied to various colleges--"Attempt Number 1" as I lovingly call it--with an interest in Psychiatric Social Work. Why? It sounded impressive and a very handsome guy told me that was his profession. OK, I was 17 and hormones ruled. I chose and was admitted to, the one school which had an excellent Masters level Social Work program. My youthful innocence decided that my undergrad degree would be a definite plus in my request for admission in the Masters program. Remember, I hadn't even moved into a dorm and I was already planning my Masters Degree.

Be that as it may, I began my nicely organized, purposeful plan to obtain two degrees and help everyone lead happier, healthier lives through counseling with me. Did I mention I thought I wanted to work in a hospital and NOT private practice?

One thing led to another and before I knew it my plans went awry. REALLY awry.

First there was that whole declaring a major thing. After a few classes--sessions in classes, and not completing them--I decided I wanted to be a Journalism major. Oh, the thrill of scooping a story. The rush of working under deadlines. Yes, I was no longer helping people, now I was enlightening them. At some point, law sounded good, too. As a lawyer I would fight for justice and lock up all the "bad guys". The fact that such a career involved more schooling was insignificant. Afterall, I had a moral task ahead and so what if the world would have to wait a few years. The longer the world waited, the meaner, more evil, and more frightening the "bad guys" would be and the greater the thrill of locking them all away. Clearly, prisons would need time to expand, and while I worked on my degree, the prisons could prepare for the increase in population.

But wait!

At this point, I had a roommate who was a Marketing major. I loved the creativity in that field, but an "F" in Accounting proved I was going to have to put for the some effort. Let me explain my "F". It was a direct result of the sweetest, most loving young man EVER. No, he wasn't a hunk, but he was so kind. Smart, too. Did I mention he was an Accounting major? So, I tried the Accounting class and didn't attend. Why attend when my boyfriend could tutor me and we could study together. SO romantic. OK, so I spent way too much time getting lost in his blue eyes, daydreaming about our future--five sons, a house in Connecticut, you get the picture--that I glazed over the Accounting lessons. He did most of my homework as he tried to help me. So, the final rolls around and I am clueless as to what to put in which column. Clearly any company for which I ran the books would be bankrupt in about thirty seconds.

Aha! If I was a Communications major, it would be a Liberal Arts degree--and no nasty Business courses--and I could possibly get one of those coveted positions in marketing. Another quick change of majors and all was well in the world. Or my academic world.

Then something happened: a little nasty letter from the Academic Affairs folks stating something to the effect that there were standards for continuing and if my GPA didn't reach that standard, well, perhaps, I might want to re-think a college career.

My brain was working overtime and figured out a solution: secretarial school. Yes, there is such a place where one learns those highly-coveted skills as typing, shorthand, and transcription. I was going to get a marketing job in a non-traditional way: become an Executive Assistant, learn everything and be given the position based on stellar achievements. I wouldn't even need that silly little degree. I finished the program, honed my skills, and was offered a job, which I took. I was on my a career path.

Did I mention the job was in the SHIPPING industry? I was the receptionist. A minor setback, but nothing this determined young woman couldn't overcome. I laughed at adversity.

Fast forward a few years. . . worked my way up the corporate ladder to department secretary (a whole step up from receptionist), married, had children, and settled in as Mom. Fast forward a few more years, and I'm jobless, divorcing, and just about to become homeless. What choice did I have but return to school !?! :-)

But wait ~ there was that dreaded box ~ the "INTENDED MAJOR" box. UGH! My nemesis. So this time, I've only changed three times. Yes, it's a personal best.

How does this all relate to my focus of comparing my life with that of Simone de Beauvoir?

Well, the most obvious connection is that we are both famous in our own worlds. There are probably those who may take issue with my down-playing the reputation of Ms. de Beauvoir, but can you honestly tell me that anyone who is not familiar with Gender Studies/Women's Issues/FeministTheory has ever heard of her?

Another connection is that neither of us did things "the old-fashioned way". Yes, tradition is great; non-traditional is much more fun! More on that later. Now I must have more coffee.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quotes of Simone de Beauvoir

You might enjoy reading some of Simone's thoughts directly.  If you find a favorite, share it and your thoughts here.  I'd love to read your comments!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Torture of Sisyphus

I had a choice to make today and made it.  It was not a difficult one, but one of some importance. 

I found this. 

“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

I was inspired, to say the least.  Inspired to do what?!?

Being completely ignorant of what exactly the type(s) of torture poor Sisyphus underwent, clearly it had to be less frustrating than the repetition of housework. 

Come to think of it, I wonder just how much housework Simone actually did.  Was there hired help?  Perhaps someone else did those chores.  I digress.

Researching poor Sisyphus, I read that, according to Albert Camus, gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

"Futile and hopeless labor" is, in the opinion of this author, one of the best descriptions of housework ever created. 

The late Erma Bombeck, however, said it best:  "Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.”

And so, out of respect for two writers, whose work I admire greatly, I shall not try and compete with their wit and wisdom regarding domestic chores. 

I shall, instead, pay homage to them by blogging.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just Won a Photo Contest

I am thrilled to announce another award; this time in photography!  Thanks to the judges and all who voted for me.