Only Wednesday. Fabulous. So happy to be knee deep in artwork already this vacation - so good for the soul! The only difficult part is that I am listening to the last Mo Hayder book that I haven't heard yet. Horror! I love her as a writer. Unpredictable plot twists, visceral descriptions, and she isn't afraid to "go there" with her storytelling. Powerful stuff. This last book, Pig Island, is not connected to her usual series. It is going by too fast. Sigh! If that is the worst thing about the summer, I will take it.
Today I have got to tackle some cleaning jobs, painful leg be darned. Floors. All of 'em. The recent spate of humidity brings out all olfactory memories of past canine sins to a degree that I can't handle. Time to replace the front room rugs again, clean all the ceilings of cobwebs, and get to the floors, whether I feel up to it or not, Which I don't. Maybe the movement will be helpful...
Happy to report that I finished backing the skully piece yesterday! Took hours longer than I thought it would, and didn't come out as well as I'd like, but it is ok. While I like the backs to be pretty, I look to my usual refrain of "Do you flip a Picasso over to look at the back?" on this one. The beading on this one has launched a new series and I am motivated by that. Onward! Beaded on my pottery piece for a couple hours after the birdies went to sleep. Heavenly process that is truly grounding for me. As I worked, I thought about what would happen to these pieces after I am gone...they will end up in a landfill somewhere, fibers rotting, beads detaching and forming a pile in dirt. Funny enough, that is okay with me. It is part of the process. For whatever reason in this crazy world this way of working makes me feel good, and I am proud of the result, so that has to be enough.
Sad day yesterday in Istanbul. Suicide bombers hit Ataturk International Airport, International Departures terminal. Many dead and wounded. ISIS to blame. The whole world seems to be unstable. Orlando, California, Istanbul. Heartbreaking. And hard not to live with a little bit of fear. Makes travel a whole lot less appealing.
Off to get the birdies and pups fed, and to medicate my Hapi bird, who is anything but happy when he gets his meds. He will not take the med without being wrapped in a towel. The first time I tried it he grabbed the syringe and threw it far to my right, I have still not found it! So, on with the towel, loud squawking like an angry chicken until wrapped, then he peacefully takes his meds. I am thrilled to finally be able to hold my guy without getting bit (famous last words!) As soon as I put him down and unwrap him, he makes a kiss noise and says something to let me know he is ok. Hoping to hear about the bloodwork results and what could possibly be going on with him soon. Just one more challenge.
Off to try to do SOMETHING productive with this overcast day. Cheers.
Reviewing yesterday's pain rant made me feel like my ranting is as out of control as the pain seems to be these days. While I might not be able to control the ouchies, I can (hopefully) control the ranting. Apologies, three readers, will try harder to leave this stuff at the curb and focus more on art and life here. Though it is a challenge. Mornings are the worst...maybe I should write at night...!
Getting ready to complete the skull piece for Create's participation in an exhibit in Wakefield next week. Have procrastinated on that one, and today's rainy day, sans all obligations, is perfect. My least fave part of any quilt project is this part, so it is good to be forced indoors. Hoping it goes quickly and doesn't get aggravating so I can get back to Beadathon2016 -- the current piece I am beading right now. Boy, I love my beads. I have so many ideas in my head I wish I could work 20 hours a day. Seeing as laying down for a night's sleep is becoming problematic for the body (dodging a pain rant here!) I might start inserting a quiet work session at 2am, at least for the summer. Would be really peaceful with all the babies asleep and not needing things from me then, too.
As my pups get older, they are becoming more needy. Ellie barks at anything, inside and out, and the others join in to support her. Everything is a big, exciting deal. They also are glued to the underside of my shoes, as every time I try to walk I seem to step on someone. I feel like a moving amoeba of twelve tiny dog feet as I try to do things in the house. Add a few pairs of wings when the birdies are out, and well, it's gonna be a long summer! Da pugs really can't go for a good walk in temps over 80 for fear of overheating, so the pent up energy is spent chasing phantom sounds and elderly thoughts that I can't perceive. At ten years old, the dynamic pug duo is still full of surprises. Seems like they were squirmy little things with round bellies and sweet puppy breath just yesterday.
Yesterday, Hapi went to the vet and had blood drawn to check for anything that might be wrong. While being restrained, we were able to check his legs, wing-pits, and neck more carefully. He's been at himself all over. His skin is inflamed and sore looking. She said he has an issue with an air sac too, that it bulges a certain way when it isn't supposed to. Possibly an injury of some sort? I haven't seen any injuries occur but who knows what he is up to in his cage when I am not around. He is on an antibiotic and anti inflammatory as we await results. My poor, poor baby -- I thank GOD that he can be under Carol's wing, so to speak.
Also under Carol's guidance right now is a zoo of wildlife. The noisy, smelly, and very lovable baby raccoons were adorable, as were the baby robin and sparrows. I stood in wonder like a two year old as one hungry fledgling sparrow sat on my finger and fluttered its wings while screaming for its meal. So tiny, almost weightless. Beautiful. The owls and hawk are still there, doing well, but now are joined with more raccs and a pair of neat ducks with punk hairdos. The most worrisome baby there was a young female brown hare that was brought in after being bitten by a dog. She was receiving treatment but was showing signs of a potential spine injury. Then she delivered two stillborn baby bunnies. Maybe more on the way. To see this wild rabbit, like the ones that scamper through my yard, usually keeping a safe distance from all humans, crumple onto Carol's shoulder and close her big brown eyes as her head was massaged, clearly loving the hug and gentle whispers of "It's ok, momma, I'm sorry," was too much. The bun bun knew she was safe and being helped, and that in this case, being close to people felt pretty good. Carol, you rock. Many people would not care one way or another about any of these critters. I am so grateful that you do.
Off to the day with attempts to not complain. The leg feels like it is fighting a battle with the rest of my body on par with the 1940's French Resistance, but there isn't much I can do about it. IT'S FINE. :) Cheers.
sWarning. Another pain rant ahead. I am sorry!
A screwdriver to the hip. A long icy hot intense nerve pain going from hip to foot. That's what every morning feels like these days, for at least an hour before meds kick in. Unbelievable. At least it can wear off a bit as I get moving, but the instability in the right leg is still there -- a feeling like it will buckle if I land on it a certain, unknown, way. Making an appointment to get my pain meds refilled got lost in the end of the year shuffle and I am about to run out, too. This will almost surely mean disability for days. Lost days. Days of not having the dampening of pain signals to my legs, feet and arms which will keep me from moving and living without a manageable amount of pain. Why? Because some people take drugs recreationally, and end up taking too many. Because some people, a lot of people, see this stuff as a way to escape life. I see it as one of the only ways that I have been able to hold on to mine.
I still feel pain daily, sometimes so significant I wonder why I am not giving up. Just because I don't say anything doesn't mean it isn't there. Life has become a game of distraction and avoidance of anything stressful. I repeat in my head "And this too shall pass," several times a day, yet it doesn't. Yes, many people have physical and mental challenges far worse than mine, I know this. Far worse, and I have empathy. But pain is not a competitive sport. I have empathy for all people who live with unrelenting discomfort, and can't see the point of forcing people to suffer by withholding pharmaceuticals that can help. Medication has been the ONLY thing that has alleviated some of my physical suffering. I am not addicted. When the pane wanes, I do not take pain meds. I take as little as possible but can not deny that fact that taking meds has made a huge difference in my life and makes me feel like I have a life. I didn't feel like I had one when living on my couch watching the toes on my feet dislocate and trying to walk.
Someone who doesn't live with this day in and day out, may not understand what it is like. Maybe that is why I feel the need to repeatedly write about it. It is not to dwell on it, beg for pity, or live as a victim. It is to shed light on what it is like to constantly have pain. Education is a good thing, even if the three people that read my blog are more than aware of the results of pain as they've got their own issues to deal with!
It feels cruel to be treated by the medical system like someone who is trying to "score." I can't call my doctor and say "The pain is really exceptional today and I am having trouble walking, can you help?" because they can't. Or won't. Their medical licenses are on the line, and each doctor tells me to go to the other for treatment. Let the other doc put their practice on the line for you. Aren't their pain clinics? Sure, if you can afford them, both financially and emotionally. I went to one when my foot was deforming from RA and told I could have a seven day supply at a time, and was responsible for the cost of having my urine monitored for additional drug taking behavior at each visit. I was also told, but the doctor with thick gold rings on every finger, that I was not guaranteed adequate pain control without repeated monthly visits. With a high copay and medical bills, this was not a good option. Even the pain clinics don't want to help.
Where does that leave the patient?
Sitting here devoting time to writing about the frustration of being a chronic pain patient, if you can call it that. As I am not patient about this issue! Counting pain medication doses out against a calendar and hoping to get through the non-medicated times without too much trouble. Like a big wave, I know it will be coming. It just is so unfair. I don't want my life to be spent shuffling around my house and laying prone on a couch. My dad lived this way for years -- I mean YEARS. Not only is it unhealthy physically to be so immobilized, but the mental torment is immense. I have things to do. Meaningful things. I don't want to be laying still to avoid more untreated pain.
I could have been focusing on art related writing this morning, but this issue needed some exploring, I guess. I took my tablet at 6am and the pain has gone down from about a 8/10 to a 5/10. I'll take it. Is that too much to ask for from the medical world?
A fine Sunday morning, begun at 6:30 with Kizzy calling for me to get my painful butt out of bed with a jungle scream. That does it every time. After hobbling downstairs, a whiny bark persisted. I started making coffee, then realized I'd forgotten something. Poor Tobes was still in his crate in my bedroom. Oops. If only he could stay in it all day...lol. Up the stairs again, freed the monster, then another hobble down the thirteen steps. Hoping the pain meds kick in and I can move soon. On coffee cup #2 right now, and waiting...ugh. And this too will pass, I tell meself.
An absolute testament to patience was posted on a parrot group on Facebook yesterday -- a cross stitch portrait of an African Grey parrot. The artist said it took a year to make, including a few breaks. Wowza. I can't imagine stitching the background let alone the bird. A gorgeous piece! Artist Sarah Buckley stated that 18,000 stitches were involved. Hallelujah.
Slow morning, Indulging a bit. Isn't that what Sunday mornings are for?
Hapi just asked for toast, so I think not. Game on and cheers!
Cousin Fifa has arrived again, and our first night together was spent again Watching the Kitty sleep. Seamus seems to revel in his performance -- lolling on the windowsill flicking his tail, then dropping to the floor and taking a long, drawn out accordion stretch, with Fifa's liquid eyes fixed on the movement of his every hair. The dog doesn't sleep. As usual, I was up every 2-3 hours and never came across a sleeping Fifa. Funny though he unwittingly took over Seamus' spot on the bed, but I think the pleasure the cat derives from driving the dog crazy is almost worth it to him. When Theo the Long Haired One pops up for a morning snuggle, his poofy tail grazes Fifa's little face, causing a lower lip trembling equivalent to Hollywood's best. Cats just know how to play this game called life.
I am trying to learn how to play it, too, and so far am out of the gate with a bang. Ran errands in the sunshine yesterday, car top down, with perfect weather. Not to hot, not too chilly, bright blue summer skies. Route 128 never looked so gorgeous. Driving a convertible makes me appreciate the weather like I'd never done before. Like travelling in an open cart. On the highway. I see sun, clouds, hawks, birds, and the occasional rainbow. This car is one of my special joys in life. Tackled a clothes reorganizing chore when I got home producing two bags of things I should never contemplating wearing again. Finally, despite wanting to bead all night, I collapsed in a tired heap on the couch and found the movie Spotlight to watch instead.
It was excellent -- the story of the story building with a pace that kept me from even hitting pause. I love the Boston setting. The fact that Bernie was signing my paychecks in 1994 when all this was going on kind of makes me ill. I taught at Cathedral High School in Boston and took the kids to mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Cardinal Law's church. The number of priests involved and the illegal and poor way the system handled it has alienated me, and many others, from organized religion. Not very Christly, boys. The acts of a few do not take away from the many good things that people involved with any organized religion do -- but this sort of corruption is like a sick cancer that eats away at the overall sincerity of the system. Ick. The above photo is a quilt made to represent the numerous abuse victims of an LA Archdiocese. Disgraceful.
While I had "Complete three beading Pomodoros" on my to-do list yesterday, I only completed one. A Pomodoro is a timed 25 minute work session, followed by a 5 minute break. using an app to monitor work time like this helps me keep focused and track of time, especially when not working the Day Job. Shooting for at least four today. Which will never happen if I am sitting here.
To counteract today's Spotlight energy, here's a link to a cool exhibit of contemporary embroidery -- including slides -- and some very unusual stitching grounds. Enjoy!
Coffee on? Check. Grey parrot eyeing me suspiciously from his perch to my left? Check. Said parrot saying "I love you" and whistling a Squeeze song? Check. It'll be a good day! The thought that I can take my time is such a foreign one...but oh oh oh so good. The early morning began with my friend from the UK posting a video of her radio as it broadcast Squeeze playing a classic hit and a short interview from Glastonbury Festival. So thoughtful of her to do that! With all of the UK in a tizzy over the Brexit referendum, it is nice that music can still go on. Thank GOD for good music.
Had a nice class last night at Create with the gals. It was funny as the class is supposed to be about stitching to chill out and be happy but it sort of turned into a stitch and bitch session. I suppose a little of that can lead to happiness in a backwards sort of way. I introduced a new stitching project based on the art of Mary Ruth Smith to try to bring in some new challenges. So far it seems like a fun project. In the hands of Judy and Barbara (when she feels like working, lol!) anything less is impossible.
For some strange reason, I've been thinking about getting a small African Grey heiroglyph-like tattoo on my ankle. Kind of like this, but adapted a bit. Hope this is a mid-life crisis that passes...I imagine a little anklet with symbols for all the kids circling my cankle...at least I could focus on something besides how swollen it is! Hapi might end up looking like an ostrich on bad days though, so maybe I better rethink this plan...
For an art link today, here is a review of what had to be a really cool embroidery exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. It features a piece entitled "Ten Thousand French Knots." I love the layering and color variety in the piece. It does look a bit like a mole or skin artifact in shape, but I think the process is the important part, here. Did the artist, Jeana Eve Klein, actually count as she went? Hmmm... Maybe I need to make ten thousand French knots before deciding about an ankle tattoo...cheers.
Finding the good amidst the hard parts is the secret to living well. Looking around at my open schedule and my horrendously discombobulated house, it is daunting to know where to begin. Add to it a load of artwork that needs making, and birds that need loving, and well, where do I start? In talking with other teachers I know, there is a phenomenon of "summer anxiety" that can creep in -- the lack of structure and pure openness of many days on end after being tied to a strongly structured schedule for the school year. Think Pavlovian bells, here. Daily. Then, nothing...at first it is "Ahhhhh...." but this can turn into a state of overwhelm. I used to think it was just me, but I know other teachers who experience this.
So, I am trying to be proactive this year to literally squeeze every drop of time out of this summer for both work and pleasure. I want to go back in the fall feeling like I used the time well, but also enjoyed the days doing meaningful things (yes, naps count!) Since as a teacher I rely on a daily plan book that outlines classes and objectives each day, I thought this might be a good start. I've tried every personal organizer/planner I can get my hands on, with limited consistency on my part. On my phone, I've used the app Chaos Control for my daily "todo" list" with some success, but again something is missing. For the summer I wanted a physical book that would anchor me visually, and let me hand write in it (there is something about writing...)
Yesterday I designed a summer book that lets me both plan and keep track of the many projects I want to work on. I have pages for mental "dumping" (listing all that has to be done) for home, pets, income, school, and art. I have blank lined pages in there for whatever. I have calendar pages for June, July, and August. And I have a cutesy page spread with just enough space for each category to jot down to-dos and reflections of where to go from each action. I dated each page like a plan book, added some beautiful Indian (I think?) paper as section separators and some tabs, added plastic covers, and had it bound at Staples. Ta-Da! I feel ready. Can't carry this sucker around, but it is a home base for my over-active brain which is under-engaged in summer. Here's a peek:
Sometimes it is helpful to have a visual record of the way we spend our time. This is not designed as nicely as I'd do it if I were sure it was going to work, but it'll do!
Onward to get the birds up and off to school this morning to continue tying up loose ends. Cheers.
Savoring every moment of a day sleeping in until 7:45 and NOTHING on the calendar all day. Knowing this repeats throughout the summer is breathtakingly wonderful. Sure, there is a load of work to be done for school and home, but at my own pace. Such a civilized way to live. I think everyone who works full time should have this option. The country would be so much more sane!
One major summer goal is to get Hapi's feathers back. Monday he is off to the vet for more testing. His cage will be scrubbed from top to bottom. All his toys will be cleaned and I will get extra things, such as the chains that remain from happily destroyed toys - out of there. He will spend more time with me out of his cage, a personally delivered spray bath at least once a day, and I will put together a new extra cage for outside sunshine, which he will hopefully have daily. Right now I have him sitting on the hula hoop that hangs from my kitchen ceiling (doesn't everyone have one of those?) so that we have some "just me and him" time before all the birds come out. Whatever this is, I need to get to the bottom of it as it is literally heartbreaking to see the bald patches grow on this gorgeous creature. In reading about it last night I was not surprised to learn that greys are so smart that some will use plucking to manipulate their owners to gain more attention, while others pluck because of hormones or nervousness and need more sleep, time alone, or toys. I have to be a birdie psychologist, here. After reading through one very good article on the possibilities for plucking, the author stated that the best way of getting to the bottom of it was through her telepathic abilities which were for hire. Jeesh. This is not an easy problem to solve.
So much art to be made this summer! Not just in my head, but in fabric. I am not working a lot, so this should be possible. Ah, summer, I love you.
For art today, here's a visual thought about summer. There are so many wild birds around my yard right now it is a joy to sit out there. I put together some old lawn furniture and bought a snazzy new umbrella to make sure there is a place to sit outside and get fresh air while working on things. Here is an article about the artist of the work above, Betzi Sylvan. I like the stained glass look to this piece and how "painterly" it is. Ah, summer again!
So today, taking the day as it rolls, lucky to be dressed by noon, methinks. The Leg is still weak and very painful along the nerve line, so taking it slow is not a bad idea. I know staying still is worse, which is good for productivity. Game on!
Hooray! The day is here! The last day of school for students today. A day of cleaning my room, prepping for next year, and thinking about all the possibilities that await for the next crew to come aboard the Parker ship. Last night I presented the 8th grade Art Award to a super student, and thought I wished I could have acknowledged a dozen fine students, it was a nice night. To see all the former little chicks gracefully walk across the stage and get their graduation certificate, all dressed up in suits and dresses as the Big Dance followed the ceremony, was wonderful. In as ducklings, out as swans. I am stunned at the amount of growth that kids this age present over three short years. I am also stunned at how girls so young can walk so well in incredibly high heels! Amazing!
I tried to write a post yesterday but it was usurped by the computer demons upon hitting the post button. I tried again later in the day, and again, when I went to add an image, the same thing happened. I gave up and decided that someone somewhere was telling me not to post anything at all, so let it go. If you don't have anything nice to say... don't say it at all, I guess. Seeing as the visual I was going to post was a bowl of cherry pits, it probably was a good idea.
For an art link today, I am still in fascination mode over the Junko Oki pieces I've seen on the web. Such intriguing little textural things. Here's another image, and a link to an interview (which I have yet to read as it is getting late!)
Amy Ropple is an artist and art educator who believes engaging in visual art can make life happier and more meaningful. This blog is a daily journal of creative habits and interests, as well as reflections on living with chronic autoimmune disease.
Disclaimer: Yes, there may be parrots on this site. I live with five of them and they tend to work their way into everything I do!