Friday, October 31, 2008

Ay, Carambola!

#106 - Draw something tart or sour

It sounds vaguely like a Spanglish cussword, but it's Averrhoa carambola, a.k.a. starfruit. The seedling I planted in my backyard years ago is now probably over 25 feet tall and veerrry productive. Why, I'd wager its annual yield exceeds the Gross National Product of some small countries! But the fruit is so sour as to be inedible. I know, I've tried. Last year, muttering the family motto "waste not want not" under my breath all the while, I marched out there and picked a dozen of the fattest, ripest fruits. I ran them through a juicer and kept adding sugar, an obscene amount, until I could force a glassful of the green-gold liquid past my lips. It made my molars itch, and the back of my throat felt as if it had just been massaged with a wood rasp. I told myself that a draught so -- uhmm -- bracing, must be very good for me! Over the course of the next 24 hours my digestive tract did all it could to dissuade me of that theory.

There are a couple of things I've learned in the meantime. First, fruit trees grown from seed, as this one was, might hearken back to some far less civilized ancestor and not produce usable fruit. Second, the acrid aftertaste I attributed to an overabundance of citric acid (Vitamin C, as in, protects you from colds) was more than likely supplemented with a strong dose of oxalic acid (as in, shreds your kidneys!) Normally there's not enough to hurt a healthy person, but most likely the process of juicing concentrated what was already, due to the poor genetics of the tree, an overly large amount.

This year my wicked carambola tree is flaunting another huge crop. I look at the heavy clusters of beautiful fruit with disdain. I'm married to a man with a chainsaw -- I could easily have it whacked!! But it is just so pretty. That should count for something, shouldn't it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Subtle Art of Pricing

#191 – Draw Some Paper Money

I was at a yard sale where a bubbly woman had a small table of kitsch and bric-a-brac under a hand printed sign saying "35 cents each." What I next saw sent me into a tailspin. It was a tiny origami shirt fashioned from a dollar bill. I took it to the cashier's table to show the sweet but obviously math-challenged lady her mistake.

“This is a dollar.” I said.
“No,” she countered, “it’s thirty-five cents.”
“But it’s made from a dollar bill!” I sputtered.
“But now it’s a paper aloha shirt.” says she. “Isn’t it too cute?”

We proceeded to have a debate. I had it in my head that “legal tender” must mean I was engaging in a crime if I bought a dollar for thirty-five cents. She was determined that if someone paid less for it, they would not think of it as a dollar, and she didn't want it unfolded and spent. I retorted that the average person, paying a reduced price for a dollar, would be all the more motivated to spend it. Eventually I bought the paper shirt for the asking price and no more, still feeling karma will someday get me for it.

I was at another yard sale where a little girl was hanging a crayoned sign over a box of kittens saying "$2.00 each, or 2 for $5.00." We proceeded to have a debate during which I pointed out the logical marketing intent of two-for-one sales and bulk buying, and how she had the idea all wrong. She graciously acknowledged my advantages in education and life experience, even admitting her own mother had told her much the same thing, but trumped me with her Daddy’s words. He had opined they were her kittens and she should sell them however she pleased!

Not being one to give up easily, I had a brilliant idea. I could buy one kitten for two dollars and take it too my car. Then I would come back and buy a second kitten for, again, two dollars, thereby proving beyond all argument that the fair market value for two kittens could not POSSIBLY be more than four dollars. Hah!! But... then I would be left with two kittens I really didn’t want to live with, despite their obvious appeal, and one husband I really had to live with despite his total lack of appeal (once he found out why I'd bought them, I mean, and got all outraged about it) so there was no more debate.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Round and Round and Round She Goes

#151 - Free choice

This summer I spun out. That is to say, I had too many paintings, projects and fanciful ideas going at once and consequently I couldn't seem to make progress on any of them. So I returned to the circle. I try to have a mandala design going when those phases sneak up on me. If I have a complex circular design drawn out, then coloring it in is mindless, soothing and repetitive work. I can handle that, when facing overwhelm.

I finished this mandala painting last week, though it has been in progress for a very long time. It started as play. I picked up a marvelous little low tech Spirograph-like toy in a dollar store. That produced the center rings. Once enlarged, the rest I built on, using templates cut from thin plastic.

I'm finding much meaning in this mandala even though it started as "just a design." Basically it speaks, to me at least, of the chaotic and distracting stuff between the calm center (my true purpose and potential) and the encroaching darkness outside (what I am able to make manifest; bring to fruition.) I could go on about the directions of spin, the significance of colors and numbers and all manner of symbols popping out, but that's like trying to explain a dream -- most likely the one explaining is the only one enthralled. So, I'll sum this up as I began. This summer I spun out.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The One With Boats

#129 - Draw People Doing Something; #192 - Draw Something That Floats

Newcomers to our fair little city, those of a nautical bent that is, might wish to join a yacht club. If they hook up with the oldest and most venerable they can enjoy tennis courts, a swimming pool, a fine restaurant, bar, and other amenities (for an upscale annual fee, of course) but chances are they will not be able to find co-members who want to talk about trimming the sails and love of the sea and objects floating thereon. Being a fan of irony this amuses me no end! I did some research into the history of the Hilo Yacht Club because I had it in the back of my head that there must have been a time in its 95-year history when an obvious connection to yachts was lost. This is what I found:

HYC was conceived in 1913, to create a social club promoting "aquatic and other athletic sports and pastimes." Surprisingly enough, the aquatic sport then of choice was "the lively interest in competitive rowing!" Up until the tsunami of '46, which evidentially swept it away for good, this club maintained a boathouse and some rowboats. Any other connection with yachting as a sport is confined to the fact that in 1962 their governing board voted to change the official title of chief officer from "president" to "commodore." I ask you, does a fleet of rowboats, gone nearly 20 years, actually require a commodore?

Na Hoa Holomoku of Hawaii Yacht Club on the other hand (it's a mouthful, but the other name was already in use) owns and maintains several sailing vessels and actively promotes sailing. If you have even so much as a whim that sailing might be fun, show up at their Sailing 101 Sundays, held without charge once a month on the bayfront. They will gladly give you a taste of the sport. Join, take classes, and help out with maintenance chores for the fleet and you can be a sailor - aargh! But, they don't have a clubhouse and swimming pool.

To be fair though, I must give credit to the Hilo Yacht Club for being politically correct. Why, as early as 1984 they voted to allow women to hold membership "under their own right!"