Sunday, October 4, 2015

DIY for Me is Telling Others What to Do

I love design, watch the Design channel on satellite, and sometimes fantasize about implementing some of my design ideas. Why do I fantasize? Because unfortunately, I am not talented enough to implement any of my ideas, can't make anything useful with my "two left hands" other than food. And this is every bit as frustrating as it sounds. This is why it took time until I lost any hope in this direction and finally admitted the reality to myself. Better late than never.

I love to relax on the recliner in the corner of our living room and read newspapers or books. There is lots of light coming from behind, through glass doors covered by sheer, faintly golden curtains  (with a heavier curtain on the side with lots of gold in it). This means I can only read during daylight, while there is natural light from behind. When it gets dark and I switch on the ceiling lamp, the paper blocks the light coming from the lamp's direction. I imagine you grinning and suggesting to read some clever back-lit electronic device instead of paper. So before we go any further, let me state that I enjoy reading both paper and electronic.

We were planning for ages to buy a standing lamp to solve the problem, although there is no socket nearby. We'd figure that out later, we thought. The plans were so vague that we never got around to even start looking what's available, but as John Lennon put it, "life is what happens while you are busy making other plans". In our case, we were offered a used standing lamp as a gift and took it with thanks. It is a simple, IKEA-style lamp with an opaque, bowl-like glass shade on a silver-ish pole.

I immediately thought of adding some design touches to make it work together with the other items in that corner, first of all painting the rod gold and somehow customizing the shade. To figure out that "somehow", I googled for ideas, even signed up for Pinterest and found many lamp makeover projects, but none of them clicked. The only positive outcome was that I've enriched my vocabulary with the term "torchiere floor lamp" which is what these lamps are actually called. I refined my search by using the newly acquired term, but still nothing. While hopelessly gazing in the lamp's direction, it suddenly hit me. Not the lamp, the idea I was waiting for. I would spray paint the heavy curtain patterns on the shade to make them connect by subtle repetition.

Now, to the implementation. Painting the rod was the easy part. After two coats (hubby doing 90% of the work), it looked acceptable. But how to go about the shade? The first challenge was copying the pattern to paper and cut it out. I emptied the top drawer of my bedside cabinet, placed a headlight in it, covered it with glass dismantled from a framed picture on the wall, placed the fabric on the glass and a sheet of paper on top of this construction. This way, the fabric became translucent and Tom was able to trace the pattern with a pencil on the paper. Then he cut it out in pieces. The real challenge was placing the flat paper patterns on the hemispheric glass shade. After a lot of futile brainstorming, Tom decided to wrap the shade in 2 pieces of wet A3 sheets to get a "glued on" effect. Then, I randomly placed the cut out patterns and traced their inner border with a pencil. Tom cut the drawings with small scissors making sure the paper stays glued to the lamp shade. Lose parts were glued with egg white. All that remained to do is spray paint the shade and remove the "mask".

The result is a unique lamp I like and a resigned self.


Friday, February 27, 2015

My Cheesy Bragging Post about Three Closures

Haven't blogged for quite a while. I have lots of good ideas for topics that seem worthy to share, usually related to my life experiences. However, shortly after they happen, I'm starting to have doubts about their level of interest for others, and my enthusiasm fades away. Perhaps I should fear less and write more.

One of my fears is to become one of those old ladies who only talk about illnesses and grandchildren. I know it's too soon for this, but who said fears must be based on reality? Or logic.

As I'm pretty certain that today's topic will grow stronger in my heart and not fade away, 'nuff with this meta text and let's get to work.

Forty-four years ago, after struggle and humiliation, I left my hometown Oradea in Romania, penny- and clueless about my new life in Israel. With all my belongings representing my parents' work of a lifetime left behind, all I came with was Zionism and motivation. I managed to build a new life and family, raising two wonderful, loving sons. Last week, my son was received in Romania like a VIP and made me proud beyond words. What a closure!

Planning a diplomatic career, Dan went to tour guide school to better know and be able to represent Israel. After obtaining his license in Hebrew, English and Hungarian, his career plan changed and he is primarily a freelance ITIL consultant, but the burning passion for representing Israel has remained.

The happy participants of a Hungarian-speaking tourist group he guided in Israel last year, invited him to Brasov for a visit. And they (a cultural organization) are sending another group this year.

Prominent members of the Hungarian and Jewish minorities, drove, guided, accompanied, hosted and entertained him like a VIP, and enveloped him in immense affection. He was interviewed by the local Hungarian paper prior to his arrival and he held presentations in churches, a high school, and at the Jewish community center, where during the Israeli-Hungarian evening thrown in his honor, the community choir sang Hebrew songs (a moving experience) and the dance ensemble of the high school presented traditional folk dances. He handed out brochures he arranged to be sent in advance by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, he showed photo albums and video clips and talked about contemporary Israel and the history, archaeology and importance of the Holy Land for the various religions and denominations. De-facto ambassadorship and closure with the abandoned career path.

But my pride goes beyond this successful trip. I also admire Dan for his other activities. In parallel to his work as an independent ITIL consultant to prestigious organizations, he is a last year pol-sci student at the Tel Aviv university. After earning his BA diploma this summer, he plans to continue towards a Master's degree in technology and IT management. He also volunteers a lot for LGBT organizations, conducting educational activities in schools and organizations, and he is a founding member of the National Youth Council Alumni NGO, mentoring current national youth council members for the Ministry of Education. Dan is a true time multiplexer!

He is an improved version of myself, a genuine Erika 2.0. I have the seeds of his talents and ambitions, but they could not develop in my childhood environment. It took miraculous Israel and Dan's industriousness to become what he is. And let's not forget his Yiddishe ma'me and mensch father. And this, my friends, is my closure with myself through Dan.

PS: I have enough love for Tom as well, in case you were worried.