Monday, February 18, 2013

My Hobby Horse


Okay.  I am about to make a sweeping generalization and I know it, but I must:

Men Never Forget to Play.  They always carve out "me" time.  They have "hobbies".

Where I grew up, in a very small town in a very small province in Canada, Men's hobbies typically took them away from home:

"Going fishing with the boys, see you Sunday."
"Going hunting with the boys, see you Sunday."
"Going to the hockey tourney with the boys, see you Sunday."

Men who had neither fishing or hunting licenses would still go along in order to "get back to nature."  It was all very heart-warming.

Those men who did not pursue the interests described above had golf in the summer and curled in the winter. 

In other words, they kept having FUN.  And no, not FUN. like the pop group I just found out the name of who performed last week at the Grammys:


Am I the only one who worried they would get electrocuted at the Grammy's?  I have become my mother..
This kind of fun:

here

Oh those boys.  They left behind our mothers and they had a good time.  My mother did not work outside the home, but even if she had, I imagine that her "hobbies" would have been the children, cooking and cleaning and carpooling kids places.

My husband has had hobbies as long as I have known him.  First there was skiing.  That was replaced by mountain biking.  That was replaced by cross-country skiiing, then by snow-shoe-ing, video games, playing guitar with the boys, golfing, flying model airplanes, hiking and backwoods camping, and now at age 50, by getting his pilot's license.

But I have never really had a hobby until about 4 years ago when I got more seriously into gardening.  Even before I had children, when I had the time, I tended to tag along on his hobbies.  Along the way, due to my own intertia, the fact that when I grew up there weren't as many sports for girls (and I wasn't all that athletic anyway), I lost the ability to really play or to put myself at the centre of things.

I thought at first that this was because I was a mother.  Every waking hour that I wasn't at work was involved with them.  And it wasn't because I HAD to, it was because I wanted to and well, because I felt guilty when I didn't.  But then I met other women along the way who don't have children who tell me that they, too, do not have "hobbies" per se, or interests that really engross them, besides everyday maintenance of the house. 

I do want to be clear that I LOVE keeping my house.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it - would do it for a living (and may have to!). 

Now I know I am being very sweeping in my generalizations here.  Some men have no hobbies, some women have many.

But I stand by my assertion that most men are much better at playing then women.

As I get ready to become an empty nester (my children are 21 and 18 after all), I am reminded that I have not worked hard at the old hobby muscle.  I need interests besides reading (much as reading delights me!) and gardening (in case Weeds-R-Us, wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tabitha-GetFreshPress-WMM Consortium, call 1-800-TGWPULL) does not pan out.  And even if it does, unless we become migrant weeders, chasing the sun around the world, we are likely to have only a good 6 months of work/leisure a year.

So.  What will be my hobby? 

In the old days, women of good breeding learned needle work, played the piano or sang and dabbled in painting. 

So I can't play the piano.  And I can't sing at all, though I sing with great gusto and at the top of my lungs when I am alone in the car.  I have been caught doing this by other drivers.  They mock me.  I soldier on.
I used to knit a lot before children and I even needlepointed my daughter's Christmas stocking.  But I have not done it in ages.  However, I did get out my knitting basket (actually my mother's basket from the 60s) and am thinking of starting again:

 
Yes, that is a book called Glamour Knits that I bought and knit a sweater from several years ago.  However, my friend Knityarns has told me all about Ravelry.com so I am now looking for a new project!  I agree with her and Kathy - knitting can be very meditative!

I have also taken all of 6 watercolour painting classes in my life, but I love to paint, and so am starting to play around at home myself again.  I have two friends who are artists (three if you count Kathy!) and I so admire the ability to express oneself through art!  My great-grandmother, August Turner, loved to paint and we have a couple of her paintings in the house.  We have forgotten that it used to be a lovely pursuit to paint and draw, what with terrible cuts to Arts programs in schools across North America, but I find it very soothing to wile away the time in such a way.



No close-ups Mr. de Mille, don't have a clue what I am doing!

My great-grandmother, was really and truly a gentlewoman artiste.  You can see one of her paintings tucked behind the bottle of wine (if you recall this picture from last summer - that wine is LONG gone..)


I do not think of this blog as a hobby - it is part therapy, part friendship circle - if I accidentally call any of you "herr doctor" you will excuse me..  It is also a way for me to get back into the habit of writing for myself.  Years ago, 27 in fact, I used to write fiction.  Then life and children intervened.  This blog is really flexing my writing muscles!

So I need to learn to play again now that I am in my 50s. I am making that a #1 priority, since I believe that putting myself last (anyone else see themselves in that picture?) is part of the reason I eventually over-extended myself.  We all need outlets and women and mothers need those especially, as I think we tend to be natural caretakers and many of us are in the sandwich generation, taking care of two groups of people.

So what do you think?  Do you have a hobby?  Does your significant other have a hobby?  Do you make enough time for yourself?

In the meantime, I will be riding into the sunset...



Happy Monday - and stay safe out there!

36 comments:

  1. Fortunately for me, my husband has no all-consuming hobbies. He runs everyday for about an hour, but there are no "boys" trying to steal him away every weekend!

    My sister tried to show me how to knit a few years ago. I was hopeless. :)

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    1. HI Merry Wife. I am lucky that my husband has hobbies, but he isn;t like my dad - he isn't a guy to go out very often, which is nice! You sound like with me crocheting!

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  2. Wow, I think your painting is wonderful, I have zilch artistic ability.
    Hubs doesn't have any hobbies, and he rarely has fun, I feel sorry for him sometimes, he is so tightly wound, he just can't let himself go at all or show his true feelings, no 'boys' calling on him either, just TV!

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    1. Well I think he and I could be twins - I am just teaching myself to have fun again in my 50s! He sounds a lot like my B-I-L - I think we all need to learn better to play!

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  3. Oh me too! I loved the rocking kind as well, and the ones with the metal springs! I only had a stick horse. Of course, the history of those is much more dramatic than the other kinds isn't? I was reading all about them yesterday when I was looking for photos!

    I am going to take a picture of the snow today and send to you! It was an amazing storm!

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  4. My husband really doesnt have any hobbies,sometimes i wish he would. For me i have been so busy with kids and family and thats where i concentrated all of my energy on.
    The only thing that i do since apprx. 10 years(to keep my sanity)is boxing.It clears my mind and lets me get my energy out.

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    1. I think boxing is a cool hobby and tough!!!

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  5. My husband and I both debated in college--a really time consuming hobby when you are doing it at the highest levels. Lots of research, planning, practicing, and then travelling to tournaments (I think we went to 12 my senior year, over 2 semesters, between late September and mid-March).

    So here's how lucky I am--I get to do my high school/college hobby as a JOB! And my husband helps me as his main hobby--does research, helps with practices, travels to tournaments, and just likes to listen to me talk about it.

    I actually picked up blogging as a second hobby because I was worried I was getting too consumed in my job. I love it but doing it 24/7 with nothing else pleasurable (except my family, of course!) is an easy way to burn out. As a student I wrote a lot (English/Philosophy major in college, then a law degree), but my teaching position doesn't require publication and I'm too busy with debate to write much for fun. I find it relaxing to just dash off a few quick, (hopefully) witty lines, coupled with a pic or two.

    I also crochet in the summers, when I'm not teaching or coaching, just for something to do. All I can really do is straight lines, like a blanket or a scarf, but I've found some new stitch tutorials on pinterest so I may branch out this summer!

    I think your painting is BEAUTIFUL. For real. I am so amazed that people paint as a hobby--I could do it I guess but it would be, um, "abstract". I can't wait to see what else you paint, please keep sharing!

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    1. Well I am amazed at your debating skills. I get so easily tongue tied!!!

      Well thanks on the painting - it was just a playing around kind of thing - more like a test to see if I could even do it. I have never painted with acrylics and oil and may try that too. I just like to make things to please myself. Have only done one "true" painting. I would like to be able to paint my garden this summer and I have always dreamed of being able to paint things I see while I travel (how very 19th century of me!)

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    2. Oh my, hadn't realized I'd written a novel!

      Travel painting is a nice idea! We buy watercolors of landmarks from places we've visited--Rome, New Orleans, New York--but would be much nicer to make them myself. Plus I'd never have to buy souvenirs. Even if you can't take your paints with you (a pain if traveling by air, perhaps?) you could always paint from a picture?

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    3. Agreed! I bought a travel watercolour kit to take with me, but forgot it last summer!

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  6. "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain one once he grows up" ~ Pablo Picasso.

    I believe this quote to be totally true. Making art is not about skill, it's more about freedom of expression and freedom from fear of judgements. I think the bit you've showed of your painting has a lot of charm and life in it. Just go for it Wendy, and anyone else who's drawn there, forget about so-called "skill".

    Just have fun - isn't that what hobbies are for anyway?

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    1. Agree completely! What a fabulous quote!

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    2. I highly recommend this book called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. Check it out on Amazon. It's terrific and I followed a lot of the exercises when I began to paint in my 40's.

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  7. HOLLY HOBBIE WMM, charmed by your inherited knitting basket and the hobby horses. My DH does his current main hobby pretty much year round (yep occasional ice fishing too) to the extent that he helps run an urban group for disadvantaged kids and has been asked to maybe do his hobby competitively (tough and expensive.) So he's all in, but very good about scheduling - and limiting - the time it takes.

    We'd already resolved, come May, to get back to a former pursuit we both enjoyed, kayaking. Now I need to find something concrete to replace my old make-it relaxation. Simple sewing was a firm favourite - tea towels, curtains, pillow covers, dolls, not clothes - but it requires set-up space that's mission next-to-impossible in an open plan condo. Knitting doesn't appeal the same way - think maybe it's the end product? Anyway, thank you for the thoughtful reminder and inspiration. (Always amazed by "grandmas" who did all the household stuff, plus painted, played, knit, crafted etc. etc. Did they ever sleep?)

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    1. Hollie Hobbie! I found one of my Hollie Hobbie dolls yesterday! I have to do a post on her!

      Yay for your lovely husband's hobby - that is a real compliment that they want him to do it competitively! You know - I have never kayaked. Have canoed but never kayaked! I used to sew years ago, but I have a learning disability at time about reading sewing patterns (bizarre but true)

      My grandmothers could both do anything they set their minds to. But I also think they were well trained in these things, not only from their mothers, but also from their schooling. I do think we have lost something by eliminating home and technical arts from our school system and making them optional. WHen I go grocery shopping and see what people put in their carts, I know that they probably don't really know how to cook and are not used to necessarily eating really good food. Another hobby horse of mine!!!

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    2. LIFE SKILLS With you and Jamie Oliver on the cooking Home Ec., ditto re. basic budget in addition to all the calculus etc. Re. sewing it would take me forever to get the pattern pinned efficiently with grain, so paranoid I would make a friend or my cousin actually start to snip the pieces out. That's why I stuck to stuff that only takes panels, very simple shapes.

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  8. Another great post. I really think writing is your gift. It is ok to have many hobbies- you do not need to perfect your skills, just enjoy them.. They are hobbies, not work. Thanks again for the lovely mention. Did you like Ravelry? It takes some time to figure out all of the wonderful places to go, and it can seriously eat away at you free time because it is so comprehensive. I never put any of my personal finished work up- just published work, but one day I will. I could web browse there for ages. Painting is wonderful too. If you have any knitting(or any type of needlework) questions, just send me a message and I will be glad to help. I am looking forward to seeing your hobby choices.

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    1. No ravelry yet - our internet was wonky and being fixed right now! Am having to access site through my BB right now! I have signed in though and plan to play later!

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  9. Hi WMM, I don't really have any hobbies per se - I can knit, but only at a basic level, I have a sewing machine, but nowhere to set it up right now, and I don't have much patience for it anyway. My husband loves music and started learning how to play guitar a few years ago - now he has a small collection of guitars and can usually be found in his study strumming away (he has graduated from what I used to call 'plinky-plonkying'). Your painting is lovely - I think I wouldn't mind doing an art class to learn the basics, such a lovely skill to have. (I like your idea of painting or sketching while travelling.)

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    1. Patricia - you really should! I can't remember a blessed thing I was taught but I am playing around and may even take it online till my artist buddy comes back from his caribbean vacation!

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  10. I think your painting is great, and maybe you don't consider your blog your hobby, but your writing very may well be. I don't have any creative hobbies, but I enjoy sporty things like skiing and tennis (and I did like to run but can't now, used to hike a lot, mountain bike, cross-country ski and snowshoe). I'm going to make a terrible old person if I outlive my ability to enjoy active hobbies. I have zero patience for anything that requires me to sit still. I love the idea of learning to knit or crochet, maybe one of these days I will learn how.

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    1. Cate - I think you will always be able to be active in some way - I was watching the PBS show about Chatsworth the other night and the Duchess of Devonshire was just a-trotting around, well into her 90s - look at Tab's mum! Maybe you won't be mountain biking though...

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  11. My dream hobby is making pottery. Did it in high school, loved it, but don't have the facilities/resources to do it now. Hopefully someday I'll live near a big university or have the resources to have my own studio!

    I hate to admit it, but hobbies have totally fallen by the wayside because I spend the majority of my time at work/commuting to work/cleaning the house/cooking/doing laundry. Must work on that!

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    1. Also, I admire you for taking up painting again! Half the battle is getting started.

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    2. I hear you! I find once it is all set up, I do much better! I am glad I am not the only one who let their interests slide; towards the end I wasn;t even reading for pleasure, it was all work, work, work!

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  12. That's great that you're getting into "things." I like your painting.

    Inspired by this post, I just had a hilarious dinnertime conversation with my husband about what counts as a hobby and whether or not I have any.

    I don't really know if sports count, but I do rock climb. I don't think of it as a hobby, more an activity that I'm serious about.

    I read a lot, I knit a tiny bit - I decided that I don't want to knit as a hobby, so now I just do it to keep my hands busy on the train or when visiting family. I sew a bit, mostly mending. I want to learn how to do more mending and alterations, but for pragmatic reasons. I'm trying to "green" our home, and I think that has become a bit of a hobby as it has led me on some adventures including yogurt and soap making.

    I have a bit of a language-learning hobby, I guess, though at the moment it's more a question of need than general interest.

    I also really love to "learn" cities, and I spend a lot of time exploring. I really like art history and go to art museums whenever I can. I think I'm more of a "learner" than a "hobbyist." :)

    But, in answer to the big picture question, I don't have trouble taking time for myself. I'm childless (so far) and a newlyish wed, so that could be a product of my current situation. I've always been quite good at doing little things for myself, though - stopping at a favourite coffee shop to read, going to a museum after work, etc.

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    1. I think hobbies and interests can be interchangeable, depending! I am so impressed on the rock climbing - takes a lot of skill and no fear of heights!

      I like to learn cities too! I bet you are really enjoying being in Europe for that! How is the German coming?

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    2. Oh, German. It is so slow! Mostly because Swiss German is not High German, so the whole "immersion" idea doesn't really work that well. Thanks for asking :)

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  13. I am fortunate that I can garden 9-10 months of the year. My husband and I are taking ballroom dancing classes again. A lot of fun. We are determined to do more than the high school prom "hang on each other" dance. We would love to hike more but our schedule still resolves around daughters. Last year before she heads off to college.

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    1. HI BB! Hubs and I took ballroom dancing 20 years ago - I forget it all, but I bet it would come back! Funny enough, I always want to lead!

      I would love to be able to garden 9-10 months of the year!

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  14. My predominant hobby is knitting. I'm addicted. Meditative if the pattern is challenging and also if its a mindless "wine friendly" pattern. You've heard the expression, "I knit so I don't kill people"? It's so true of me sometimes. Ravelry can suck the hours out of my day if I'm not careful, and I'd really rather knit, cook or read.

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    1. Well my inernet is now working, so I am off to go troll around ravelry right now! I had not heard that expression, but I think it a good one!

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  15. Hello WMM! I can always find something to do around this house. Have major decluttering to do and everyday chores, which always seem to distract me that I can never sit down to do the things I love - sewing is my favorite. I have a few items started, on dress forms in my sewing room, and I can't get myself back there to finish them! I need to work on this pronto.

    I was wondering if you could help me find your post (approx date?) where you outlined where you stayed/visited in Paris - some, I believe, recommended by Danidp? We're heading to France this summer!! And will have several days in Paris. Thank you so much for your help!

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