Carrie FIsher and Debbie Fisher, RIP. So sad. At least they are together. They seemed to be the happiest of friends as well as a mother/daughter duo. Such funny people. I love and truly respect Carrie Fisher for her strength of character and wit -- her ability to talk straight about issues of aging and beauty, in particular, resonate well with me. As someone who’s face is taking a beating from this aging thing (Ma’s ever-present wrinkles are showing more and more each day), Carrie reminded the world to stop thinking about that and move on to more important aspects of a woman’s character. Bless you, you smart woman. Life is too short to worry about wrinkles and how old I look. I will be 50 in September, and will try to enter cronehood with some dignity and acceptance. And lipstick. Just to take attention away from the deep fields athat are being hewn in my forehead.
Saw the rheumatologist yesterday who started me on a new biologic. This one is primarily for Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylopathy, but can be used for other inflammatory conditions. IT is currently in trials for RA and there is evidence it treats UC, too. Jury is out on how effective it is, so I am being a bit of a guinea pig by trying it. One epi-pen like shot per week (yay, no copay) and then will assess whether it is helping or not. Also got a second Vectra DA test to measure a broad range of inflammatory markers. This test is only allowed once a year due to cost, and since I’ve been off meds for a long time, it made sense to do it. Last time it came back with markers for high inflammation, providing the first blood test evidence that RA was rampant. Judging by how I have been feeling, I expect the same results this time. Yesterday I was shuffling like Tim Conway and really hurting. Doctor reminded me that muscles are surrounded by the same cells present in joints, and they become inflamed, which explains a lot. Got a iv shot of prednisone and already feel a bit better. Grateful to not be working this week and getting a little extra rest. Slow mornings are wonderful. Inflammation and flares seem to creep up slowly, building until they feel overwhelming. Pushing through takes lots of energy.
Today there is a snowstorm to our west, rain expected here. A nice quiet day indoors. I have new spider plant babies that need planting, and lots of chores. Hoping I can sit comfortably and bead, too (tried last night but just couldn’t sit.) As a tribute to the beautiful power of stitch, here is a short video from the V&A Museum featuring artist Rosie Taylor-Davies recreating a medieval styled stitched piece. So beautiful. Love the split stitch -- always was my favorite for wool work. Enjoy!
Day of Mess! Day of “What do I get..._____” liberation! Day of Cleaning! Also, thankfully, a day of late sleeping. Extra rest is essential today. And I started the morning by doing a Bad Thing.
There are a couple squirrels that live in the trees next to my house that I see all the time. Love them, really. Yes, they are rodents. Yes, they are near my home. They’ve never done Bad Things (okay, one dismantled the bird nest in my mailbox last spring and ate the eggs. That was Very Bad) and generally keep the environment perky out there. Today one was sitting on my trash can looking so cold and forlorn while a second was rifling through the over-picked remains of a pumpkin they gutted last week, looking for edibles. It was sad. The look of the little fella on the trash barrel was most definitely sad. I actually thought about it and tried to assess his emotional state.
Against my better judgement, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a handful of mixed nuts (lightly salted - bonus!) and tossed them onto the ground. The sad squirrel looked at me, then the nuts, then me, then seemed to say “Really?” and scampered to the ground. He tentatively picked up a peanut and began nibbling, holding it like treasure between his little fingers. Taking tiny bites and savoring each one. It was precious, His entire body language changed. He turned his body around to be facing me directly, and we looked at each other as he ate his little treat. He was a happy little squirrel. The other squirrel had left, so this guy got to eat his fill this morning without interruption. Merry Christmas, little guy. And please don’t invade my house!
That one silly interaction made my day. That says a lot. !!
So now I sit at the computer, which has a grinding hard drive warning me of impending doom. I let Hapi out to share my coffee time, but he let Cairo out, so now as I type I have a 12” bird hopping from forearm to forearm, and sitting on the edge of my coffee cup. My house is a mess -- both clutter and abject filth, so my day is pretty much spoken for, If I work at it today, I might have more time to do art, later? Ah, but there will be new mess tomorrow. And the next day. Running a Canine Nursing Home and Avian Pet Emporium has this effect on domestic life. But, as Cairo leans over, gently touches my hand and makes a sharp, loud kiss noise, can’t imagine it any other way.
Onward, onward. For an art link today, here is an image by the AMAZING Megan Nedds, who creates astoundingly lifelike animals from felted wool. This is a parakeet because I couldn’t find a squirrel. More of her work can be found here. Incredible stuff - literally!
At last, December 24. Have to say the kids were really well behaved despite the excitement and week long drag to Christmas. Glad it is here, glad it will be over! My house looks like a post-tsunami nightmare, the dogs need baths, and I need time to wake up and let meds hit the legs before starting the day. What a combo. I realized this morning that I can no longer straighten out my left leg completely. Fun. This time off RA meds is definitely having an effect...ugh.
Today is a special day for a different reason, though -- it is Hapi’s “Gotcha” day! That day when I went into Pet Life pet store in Stoneham to get the dogs cookie-presents and came out with Hapi! I had no idea what was in store for me when bringing this little fella home. Here’s to SEVEN years of surprises, laughs, and a few challenges along the way, all worth it. Love the grey menace to bits and couldn’t imagine life without him. Today I came into the dark kitchen to hear “Hey, how are ya?” and then the sound of water filling the kettle. Hapi, you know me better than I do. He audibly precipitates my morning routine without missing a beat. How many people have a parrot remind them of what they should be doing when confronted with morning brain fog? Atta boy, Hap!
For a stitching link today, here’s a link to the gorgeous traditional Indian wedding skirt embroidered with a love story by the bride (Kresha Bajaj, who is a clothing designer.) In case you missed it! What a beautiful garment. The gold stitching is so fine and plentiful -- a truly beautiful piece. The artist plans to frame it in the couple’s home. So much of why we select and wear garments is because of how they look -- but then they hid in the closet where we can’t see them. I think I just found a justification for the laundry strewn across the floor…! I love Indian stitching and fabric. So colorful, glittery, patterny, beautiful.
Well, Hapi is hollering for breakfast as he has not yet learned how to look at the calendar and doesn’t realize this is a much needed slow morning. The mess can wait, the routine can wait. His literal rant right now:
“Hapi want nut.
I love you so much.
No bite - gentle.
Hey! Stop it.
I love you so much.
Nothing like living with a parrot, especially an African Grey. Cheers and appreciation for this crazy difficult life. If only he could say "Hapi Christmas!"
This has been a tough year, and I know it is not just me reporting. Everyone I know has experienced some sort of unexpected and harsh difficulty, and the world itself has seemed to conspire to become a cauldron containing a hurricane. Just an ugly, ugly year. The bad times began for me last fall with The Back, though, so maybe I started early. With 2017 nearly hear, I hope the change in the calendar signals a change in direction for all the tough happenings.
Things are showing signs of relenting, though. The colitis hasn’t come back, making me feel more and more that the Rituxan (that I was taking for RA) was part of the problem. And finally, this morning, the cats ate together on their feeding table. They were more hungry than sociable, but the only one howling was (you guessed it) Hapi. They looked at each other as if to say “Did you do that?” then went on eating. Miracles and peace after a long, drawn out war! Most happily, I can say I am actually excited about making art again after quite a gap in enthusiasm. I look forward to an hour or so every day of immersing myself in threads and beads, and am happy with the results. I am “seeing” ideas again for larger works and hope that someday I have time to make them. Being an art person is a wonderful thing in this ugly and difficult world. Working on the next pot piece. I like the quilting on the pot itself a lot and am not going to cover it up too much, I think. Challenging colors to integrate, too. Interesting piece to delve in!
For a link today, I again return to the awesome and exhaustive site TextileArtist.org for a look at six artists that use recycled materials in their art. I am putting together a new unit for my students based on the artist that I previously posted about (Bryant Holsenbeck) and these artists will fit right in to students’ exploration of the concept. I like the installation work of Susan Stockwell and can see the kids’ work being arranged in such a manner. Also, the paper sculpture work of Jennifer Collier is great, too -- I have two students who built a mock computer out of cardboard but can’t seem to know why or identify the artistic purpose. This artist’s work might bring insight, and at least a little discussion. The combination of trash and innocent treasure that Louise Baldwn creates is also very appealing (below.) So much art, so little time. Off to make the day happen.
Up early, after being woken by several dreams that were too intense to handle while sleeping. Not even going to try to interpret those. Up for real at 6:15. Hearing a snowplow in the distance, but finding only a couple inches of pretty snow outside. Tilly needed outs immediately, so sans coat for either of us, outs we went.
Once on the ground, Tilly did his Perfect Lively Puppy thing and investigated his spots, did his business, and tried taking me for a longer walk. Would have been nice but I didn’t have a jacket and the legs weren’t working right. It was worth it to get him out like this, though. His little paw prints broke the surface of the pristine snow, leaving a delicate pattern of happiness and zest. And all four of his legs worked. As I scuffed along next to him, I left a path, too. My right foot drags a bit, leaving an uneven pattern in the snow. Tilly’s got a little curve to his path now, too.
As I mentioned before, I am feeling less than Christmasy this year. Seeing our shuffling gaits marked in the snow helped a bit this morning, though, as I became acutely aware of how grateful I am that he is still here, is walking, and despite the effort needed on my part some days, we are walking together, still. LIve long, little TIll. You are so loved.
Then I ask myself...why does he still need a haircut? It’s long overdue. As is everything! Havnen’t started Christmas shopping yet in pure avoidance of it all and because I haven’t felt well enough to deal with it. Will have to do something this weekend, as well as throughout next week. Will be busy.
Need a haircut as all the curl has left along with the medicines leaving my system, and I have flat hair and feel like Mama Cass again. The usual chores await and then there can be a few minutes of art time...sigh.
Hapi is howling like an angry cat and now follows it up with a “Noooo!” in my voice. Repeated three or more times an hour. Ugh. Theo and his brother briefly were together last night as Seamus attempted to eat with him. It was the closest they’ve been since the battle began. Eventually the reuniting was shut down with an ugly hiss. It is a sign, though, that true reconciliation isn’t too far away.
For an artist’s link today, I found the work of Bryant Holsenbeck, an environmental artist that focuses on making people aware of the issue of plastics in our world through her art. These adorable birds have flighty energy because of the medium -- the thinness of the plastic suggests feathers. But the birds that have more fibers seem trapped or tied up, restrained. Interesting feel to these little things, Her blog is also thought provoking and can be seen here. As an artist that almost shudders when a plastic bead accidentally makes it into her stash because of it’s temporary, chintzy feel, I am surprised that I like these sculptures so much. I will try to do a project with kids this year focusing on recycling refuse into a well designed art object.
Peace out and enjoy the snow.
Brrrr. Baby i’ts cold outside. Three degrees this morning, not counting wind chill. Last night the wind howled so much I thought the roof of my house would peel off. Was grateful to sleep but then found strange dreams onm the other side involving a flooded back yard filled with unusual wildlife. Horses were playing in it last night. Pretty, but there were other creatures, too. This is a recurring dream. Strange.
Awake, tea made, waiting for meds to kick in so I can move well enough to do cages and get the kids fed. Hapi is howling like a feral cat still, every few minutes, making Theo run from the room as though there is another cat hiding under the couch. I think Theo will have to be removed physically from the bird room to recover from this conflict. Hapi is so not helping...oy. I wanted to bring him to school but the extreme cold might not be good for him, even in the short bursts needed to get him from here to there. No birdie heart attacks needed, thank you.
TGIF is all I can think this morning. Get through the day, I stopped writing because I felt like my posts were nothing but physical complaints. And that’s what I feel the most of right now. Back to art!
Here’s a link to an artist that creates wonderful little embellished sculptures of parrots. Seeing as I have a real one pacing on my hand as I try to type, it is appropriate. Mirjana Cesar’s art is beautifully embellished and lovely. Enjoy her ETSY page here! Makes me want to go 3D again. Never enough time, is there?
Full moon for sure. My dear old lady PT Cruiser wouldn’t start in the morning. THis has happened lately when I haven’t run the car for a while and it has been cold. So, called Geico for yet another jump and luckily got a battery before the store closed. Woot!
Once home, I gathered Hapi and Kizzy to the front room and indulged in a couple hours of beading. Was nice to relax a bit and the birds like being in a different room. Hapi has learned how to howl like a fighting cat because Seamus and Theo are engaged in a battle of wills right now. For an unknown reason the feline duo are angry with each other, spitting and hissing when they even see each other, and howling like feral beasts. I am wondering if Hapi’s howl is prolonging the fight -- when he howls, do they think a third cat is lurking around? Oy vey. Hap howled in the classroom yesterday which was really freaky. Very realistic feline scream!
A neat link today to a book that I came across on Amazon that is right up my alley. I have an affinity for old encyclopedias and dictionaries because of the the illustrations. I’ve always loved the random juxtapositions of illustrations on a page, and the way such a tiny little line drawing can actually illustrate so much. This book, Pictorial Webster's: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities by John Carrera is a collection of line art illustrations produced for Webster’s dictionaries in the golden era of illustration. It is a small, thick book designed to look a bit antiquarian, stuffed with small illustrations that bustle with detail and interesting new contexts. Maybe now I can stop accumulating big heavy volumes that fill my bookcases…!
Seriously...ten days until Christmas? Nooooo…..!
The realization that Christmas is so close hurts my head. I’ve done a good job of avoiding the concept so far -- no wreath on the door, circulars tossed in the recycle bin, most sales ads ignored (ok, the bead ones got my attention.But that is therapy.) Have only buckled and played Christmas music for one class so far, and managed to block it out. For some reason I am seeing all the decorating and materialistic crap (that I used to love or at least not be bothered by) as being a waste. Maybe because I don’t have the energy anymore to decorate (let’s be honest...one has to clean first, and even that is a challenge) but the China-produced holiday detritus is just fake and icky to me. I mean why the heck does one need an inflatable Santa on their lawn or enough lights to look like a cruise ship? I just don’t get it. Bah humbug, I guess. If people decorated a little less and donated a little of that excess cash to charities...well..hmmm. I think my life has become so basic in the need to just get through every day I can’t relate to feeling good and having extra resources to “celebrate” a season. Happy for those who can, though.
So, now, I am forced to address the Christmas Issue. I used to love the holiday when I was younger. My ex and I made big deals out of surprising each other with gifts (ok, he used to surprise me with cool stuff but hate what I gave him, but it was still fun.) I had parents to buy for and spend time with, and my sisters and nephews. I still visit the latter, which is nice, but the rituals of Christmas have dissolved and as my health has declined I appreciate a good sleep in more than anything else. Sad, really. I hate shopping now and avoid crowded places (and all the flu and cold germs that inhabit them. Could knock me out for weeks.) Add to it the first anniversary of my cousin’s death, and this year holds no great promise of joy. I hope there is some universal equation of happiness and my neutral/lagging state allows someone else to have a better holiday. If only!
Waiting until school break to have my PFAFF embroidery machine looked at. My aspirations to be an English Textile Artist are on hold as long as the machine lies dormant and non-functional. I think I am three modules behind in the coursework at this point. Lots of work to do. I am focusing on the series I am embellishing by hand right now instead, and truly enjoying it. That is more important, anyway. I love the challenge of making a design work even when it feels like it won’t. This week’s piece had a very plain background and was mostly shades of purple and green. Making the design work relied on adding more colors, but it has do be done in a subtle way. It is coming along, and am happy to at least be on the bead step after lots of stitching. Metallic embroidery floss is pretty but is hard to work with as it frays easily and is relatively stiff.
Off to work where the kids will certainly illustrate the theory that “The week before the week before a holiday break is worse than the week before a holiday break.” Kids are a popping with all sorts of behaviors. Which also makes it feel like Christmas is on the way. Cheers.
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!