Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Snow Plow Artist

imageA while back, Jude Hardin asked about the difference between a hack and an artist. I've been struggling to come up with an answer, and then Ladonna's beautiful post, Soul Gifts, nudged me along.

This year we signed up for a snow plow service. We run a business from our home, and we'd previously canceled snow plow service because the driveway absolutely must be done by the time my students come, and a lot of the snow plow services we'd seen came erratically.

But last year, I watched every day as my neighbor's driveway was plowed, like clockwork, every single morning and night at 2:00. You could've set your watch by it.

So after years of shoveling snow for two hours a day, we splurged on a service that was almost twice the price of the cheapest guys.

Let me tell you.

Wow.

Not only do they come like clockwork, but they do a BEAUTIFUL job. Most snow plow guys do one or two pushes straight back.

Not this guy.

He spent almost twenty-five minutes on our small driveway, making it PERFECT. He got every single bit of snow off the driveway. He must have gone up and down our driveway eight times, and it's only about eight car lengths long with a parking area for six crammed in tight.

image Glenn and I were so excited and fascinated, we turned out all the lights and WATCHED.

With big grins on our faces.

And at two o'clock in the morning, we ran outside in the snow to check it out.

You could not get a more beautiful driveway if you spent hours shoveling.

This guy is definitely a snow plow artist.

So my answer to Jude, finally, is that I believe a work of art is one done with care and with loving attention to every detail.

What do you think? And who has blown you away, lately, with their artistry?

22 bonus scribbles:

Robin 11/25/2008 10:28:00 AM  

That is awesome. I can think of a lot of people in my life who put their all into their work, and make it a thing of beauty. I'll take Milla as an example. She is a 60 yr old seamstress from Russia, who alters almost all my clothes (necessary when you're a short little squirt like me). She understands my little idiosyncracies, like my pants have to reach the floor, and I hate when the back of my waist gaps at all. She makes them perfect even though she disapproves. (She thinks my pants are too long, and tells this to all my friends when they see her.) I love Milla.

Whenever someone puts pride in their work, it's worth the extra money for piece of mind. Whenever I try to "cut corners", I always get burned.

Melanie Avila 11/25/2008 10:44:00 AM  

Spy, my parents use a snow plow service and they love it. That's great when you really feel like you're getting value for your money.

The first people I thought of around here are the people who sell mangoes on the beach. They peel them, jam them on a stick, then cut into the fruit so they look like flowers. Most people put salsa on them and it's delicious. The cuts make it much easier to eat but it looks like art!

Jude Hardin 11/25/2008 12:06:00 PM  

I like your definition, Spy.

Robin Bielman 11/25/2008 01:23:00 PM  

Spy, that's a great story and illustrates so well that works of art come in many different shapes, sizes, colors...I think the effort that goes in to something, the emotion rendered by something grown from one's own hands, is a work of art.

Robin Bielman 11/25/2008 01:24:00 PM  

I forgot to say I love your new look! It's a work of art! :)

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 01:58:00 PM  

Robin, wow. That's exactly what I'm talking about. It's so hard to find people like that, amazing people who put such pride in their work. It seems like it's a dying trait in our social value system.

I'm normally a scrooge when it comes to spending, but when it comes to quality, I'd rather buy a shirt that will last twenty years, and pay extra for someone who will care about the work they're doing.

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 01:59:00 PM  

Yes, Melanie! I love that "extra mile" mentality. It would be just as good without that attention to detail. And they could just cut it, but they cut it in a pretty shape.

I think stuff like that is wonderful.

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 02:00:00 PM  

Robin B., I love the way you put it. There is something to that hands-on care when it comes to art. And thanks for the words about the new design! I'm not sure yet, but I'm hoping it looks okay.

Edie 11/25/2008 04:56:00 PM  

Spy, I love your new design! The colors are fabulous. That's a work of art!

We have a snow plow service. It's not a work of art, but it's better than shoveling.

I heard a Christmas song today. The voice was lovely and at first I thought it was Barbara Streisand. But the phrasing was just ordinary and Barbara Streisand takes great care with her phrasing. Having a lovely voice isn't good enough for her. Her songs are works of art.

Stewart Sternberg 11/25/2008 06:47:00 PM  

Dear God woman..I love this look for your blog. And about your posting..I was intrigued and I am thinking it through. That being said, let me give an initial response...turning it to writing.

I am a hack. At least right now. I will write to sell and will sniff the commercial breeze. However, I know that I have in me the ability to write things of note. Hopefully that occasionally comes through even my hack writing. Hopefully, it can occasionally be gleaned from my blog.

The idea of service though is the key, isn't it? Maybe I need to stop and rethink who and what I am and make a greater committment to my writing, to take that which is marketable and also make it better.

I've quoted Graham Greene many times, but he bears repeating. He said that he wrote two different forms: entertainments and literature. The entertainments were those books that were for the market, that had little substance, that were breezy. His novels, such as "The Power and the Glory" were literature.

Thanks for the post. Thanks for making me think. Now I have to go off and wallow in my guilt and shallowness.

Jess 11/25/2008 09:02:00 PM  

You...you have snow?

marciacolette 11/25/2008 09:02:00 PM  

This is so on the money.

That's why I'm thankful that my editor is lenient when it comes to my writing schedule. I'd rather put out work that I'm proud to share with others, rather than some piece of crap just to meet a deadline. If I don't believe in what I do, it'll show like a huge tomato stain on the front of a white shirt.

Verra nice blog layout, too. ;-)

Sarah Laurenson 11/25/2008 10:13:00 PM  

Hey Spy,

I can't believe I've never popped in to check out your blog. Love, love, love the artwork at the top. And this is a new look? It's priceless.

Rick 11/25/2008 11:13:00 PM  

Spy, first you should browbeat Stewart on his post- he has great talent and should try very hard to put John Steinbeck to shame. I do think he's too modest.

Second, have you ever watched a lapidist at work? A lovely art to watch where the craftsmanship is stunning. I once spent an evening watchin a woman performing this art while drinking a half bottle of wine more expensive than my next week's paycheck. I should have filmed it. To scrimp is prudent of course, but occasionally excess is divine.

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 11:26:00 PM  

Thanks, Edie! :-) I was worried about the yellow. Still am, actually.

So true about the phrasing. Same with Frank Sinatra. I mean, wow. He knows how to nuance a phrase, for sure!

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 11:35:00 PM  

Stewart! You. Are. Not. A. Hack! How can you say that? You are totally an awesome writer. It's obvious!

And there's something to be said for entertainments. I know Janet Evanovich has made me laugh when I hadn't smiled in weeks. That's no small thing.

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 11:35:00 PM  

LOL, Jess, yes, we do! Lots, and it's very pretty.

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 11:37:00 PM  

Marcia, LOVE the imagery of the tomato stain! I'm always terrified my stories look like that, and I'll be dreadfully embarrassed!

I'm kind of the opposite of you with deadlines: a deadline generally pushes me past my fears and insecurities.

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 11:38:00 PM  

LOL, Sarah, thanks! Yes, it's a new design. I have a few details to finish, but I was worried. Thanks!

spyscribbler 11/25/2008 11:48:00 PM  

Amen to that, Rick! No, I've never seen that. I've never thought about they even did that. It must be cool!

We've been saving a lot, cutting everything we can, so this splurge feels AWESOME! It gives us such pleasure to come home to a clean driveway.

Carrick hadyan 12/04/2008 01:08:00 AM  

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