Posted in Uncategorized

Drowning In The Desert

Wet. Wet. Wet. Wet.

We’re in what New Mexicans call Monsoon Season. We get roughly 6” of rain a year on average and most of the rain falls in July and August. It’s been raining at least once each day for more than a week. I have a load of pots that need to be fired, but I can’t fire them until it stops raining. Water and a hot kiln are a dangerous combination. Best case: the kiln gets damaged. Worst case: the kiln explodes.

I let the builder talk me into accepting vinyl windows when we had our house built 16 years ago. I should not have done that. We now have 4 windows leaking. Jim has tried caulk, but the windows still leak. Now, we have to find a contractor and we’re probably going to have to replace the windows. If so, they won’t be vinyl windows.

A portion of our roof needs to be replaced. It had ceramic tile. It’s going to have metal roofing. I’m only making this repair once.

When it rains, flying ants (no, they are not termites – we checked) swarm. They picked the vent for the stove as a good place to swarm and it was raining flying ants for a day. Jim sprayed the vent with insecticide, taped a plastic bag over the opening in the vent, while I vacuumed up the falling ants as fast as they fell. We’ve had no problem since.

I finished the shorts. Here’s the fix on the seam that is on the outside rather than on the inside. By the time I realized I had made a mistake, it was too late to rip out the leg seams or the back center seam. Design begins when problems arise. I’m a bit disappointed in the fabric; it’s much more lightweight than I anticipated. Still, they are cool and comfortable.

Shorts 1 7-21-17Shorts 2 7-21-17

I started an embroidery project. After reading suggestions from other fiber artists, I decided to put my anger into art. Not having a transfer pencil, I had to get creative about getting the lettering onto fabric. I typed out what I wanted and printed it. Then, I put a piece of water soluble stabilizer over the paper and traced the printing onto the stabilizer using a Sharpie. Then, I basted the stabilizer to the fabric.

Embroidery 1 7-21-17Embroidery 2 7-21-17

I ordered my new glasses on Wednesday and they won’t be ready for a week or so. My vision has changed since last year and I’m having a terrible time seeing up close for detailed work. Can’t wait to get the new specs.

I’m still working on critter photographs.

Quail & Thumb A 7-17-17Thumb 1 PS 7-17-17

Quail nest near our back yard, and we get to watch the “thumbs,” juvenile quail, grow. We call them thumbs because when they are very young, they look like thumbs with feet. The thumbs in these two photos are the equivalent of teenagers.

Squirrels 3 7-21-17

“All the good parts are under here.”

This isn’t a chipmunk, although it’s the same size. It’s a ground squirrel. It looks like a tiny prairie dog, behaves like a squirrel, and is fun to photograph.

Bunny 1 7-21-17

“If I look real cute, maybe the human will put out more corn.”

Critter 7-16-17

Critters don't pose 7-16-17

If you wait long enough, critters will pose.

Creosote Sunrise 7-18-17

Sunrise in New Mexico is either boring or SPECTACULAR! Here’s a boring one so I decided to photograph sunrise through the creosote bushes.

Sunrise 7-21-17

This is what I woke up to this morning.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what other artists have been creating in the past week.

Looking for a unique gift? My website with an online store is here.

Posted in Clay, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Photography, Pottery

Someday, I’ll be able to fire the kiln again

 

We’ve been getting some rain each day for about the last week. Nice for anything growing, but bad for pottery. The kiln house has to have ventilation which means it’s not waterproof. Rain on a hot kiln is bad. It could cause the kiln to explode. So I’ve got a load to be glaze fired and can’t fire it for a while. In this load are two experimental bird baths and an experimental planter. I’m also testing out a glaze Jim “made.” He took leftovers of commercial glazes and mixed them together. I’ve no idea what I will get.

I’ve been working on still lifes and I have to think differently to photograph them. Still lifes don’t move, aren’t subject to wind, and aren’t as easy as they look. I started with a white background but didn’t like what I got.

Thread 7-9-17 adjSewing tools 7-9-17Sewing feet 7-9-17 adjButtons 1 7-9-17

Then I tried a black background. Nice, but the light was all wrong.

Thread 1 7-11-17

Then I tried no artificial light. Much better.

Rows 3 7-12-17

I played with Sharpies, with thread, and with bobbins.

Sharpie 1 7-11-17Sharpie 1 7-12-17

I tried telling a story with the shots. What do you see these shots saying?

Bullies 1 7-12-17Bullies 4 7-12-17Bullies 2 7-12-17Bullies 3 7-12-17

Jim put a quail block and watering contraption near the sliding glass door so the cats could watch critters feeding.

These were taken through the door. Not the best approach, but it was all I had.

Dining Alone 7-13-17Breakfast with friends 7-13-17Critters 3 7-12-17Critters 1 cropped 7-12-17

This morning, I tried taking the yoga mat to the patio, setting the camera up on the mini tripod, and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. No diners.

I’m reading Eric Clapton’s autobiography. Because Eric battled alcoholism, drug addiction and had a toddler son die after falling out a window, I figured the book would be interesting. He’s a great blues guitarist, but he’s not much of a writer. The book badly needs an editor.

The cognitive problems are less, but still evident. Several weeks ago while making a pair of earrings using Swarovski crystals, I dropped a crystal snail. I searched. Jim searched. No snail. Earlier this week, I was searching for a sewing pattern and found the crystal. It was stuck between boxes of patterns. I put the crystal on the cutting table thinking that I should put it with my beads. I really should have, because I lost it again. I found it on the floor yesterday when I was ironing 4 yards of fabric I had washed. All fabric goes through the washer and dryer before I do anything with it. If it’s going to shrink, I want the shrinking done before I cut into the fabric.

Jim picked out a pattern for pajama bottoms and boxers. He needed pajama bottoms, so I dug into the stash and made a pair.

Jim's PJs 7-14-17Fly Detail

I had some tension issues. It may be time to take the machine in for a deep cleaning and tune up.

The crotch depth was too deep, but they are pajama bottoms so he’s willing to wear them. I adjusted the crotch depth for the boxers. Crotch adjustments are tricky because a tiny adjustment makes a huge difference. I guessed right, and the boxers have the right crotch depth. I used leftover fabric for the boxers. The original yardage I used to make a blouse.

Jim's boxers 7-14-17Fly detail 7-14-17

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.  Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

If you’re looking for a gift for yourself or someone special, please stop by my on-line store Deb Thuman Art.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Photography, Pottery

I’m pretty sure it’s Friday

It appears to be Friday. I’m concerned about the cognitive difficulties I’ve been having lately. I have difficulty at times finding the word I want – something that started when I first went on psych meds. I have to really concentrate if I’m going to a destination via a different route. My short term memory is failing. I went online and looked up the early signs of dementia. The signs sound just like bipolar disorder and side effects of psych meds. I’d have to come off my meds to determine how much is psych med side effects, how much is a normal part of the aging process, and what, if anything, I should worry about.

I’m not going off my meds. I’m on the best set I’ve ever been on – lamictal and wellbutrin. Going off either would cause withdrawal. Never mind the “discontinuation syndrome” horseshit. It’s withdrawal. I say so. The Mayo clinic says so. Harvard Medical School says so. When I’m laying on the floor trying to figure out how to make the wall stop undulating, then have to drag myself to the toilet so I can throw up, it’s not a syndrome. It’s withdrawal and it lasts anywhere from 1-3 months. Sometimes, withdrawal comes with hallucinations. I learned to roll with the hallucinations. That removes the scariness. Doesn’t everyone wake up in the middle of the night and see a strange, underwear clad, translucent man standing in the middle of the bedroom? When I realized I could see through him, I stopped being scared.

Sometimes, withdrawal comes with nausea and vomiting. Sometimes, withdrawal comes with dizziness and walking into walls. Coming off meds doesn’t mean I can automatically go back on them. People who come off lamictal sometimes can’t ever take it again. The withdrawal is too miserable and the risks too great to come off my meds.

I’m taking gabapentin for peripheral neuropathy. It helps. A lot. I’m not going to stop taking it even though it makes me walk into walls. I take it at night so I can function during the day.

I’ve been doing a bit of sewing – no small feat when my brain isn’t working well. I made Jim a shirt – it just needs to have buttons. I thought and thought and was as careful as I could be. Then I sewed the collar on upside down. I always put the side with the interfacing on the bottom and the other side on the top. Not this time. Then I decided to do a row of topstitching and used a fancy thread. I sewed the topstitching on the bottom of the collar.

Jim's shirt 7-7-17

I found enough leftover fabric to make myself a blouse. It’s a simple blouse, front, back, sleeves, and bias binding on the neck. The pattern instructions didn’t have instructions for the bias binding for the view I made. That wouldn’t have been a problem, but there’s a button at the back of the neck. I had to figure out for myself how to make the ends neat and allow for a loop for a button. Let’s just say it’s not couture sewing.

Deb's Blouse 7-7-17

Perhaps a part of the cognitive problems come from having a holiday during the week. Being retired, days aren’t all that specific for me. Jim is still working. If he’s not here, it’s a weekday. If he’s here, it’s a weekend. He took last Thursday and Friday as vacation days, worked on Monday, and was off on Tuesday for July 4th. I’ve been struggling to remember what day it is. I’m told that’s common for people who are retired. We now work on a different schedule. We can do the things we want to do any day of the week. We no longer have to wait for a weekend.

Earlier today, which I’m pretty sure is Friday, I did some glazing. I did a bisque fire last weekend. That’s when I learned there’s a problem with the thermocouples for my pyrometer. For some reason, it took me 6 hours to figure out a temp of 125 degrees at the top of the kiln when the bottom was at 1800 degrees was an indication of a problem. Jim tightened the wires and it may be fixed. I hope.

I was shooting the sunset the other day and noticed something in the cholla (choy-ah). It was a bird’s nest. No, I didn’t hold the camera wrong. It’s a vertical rather than horizontal nest.

Bird nest 7-5-17

We have a not quite full moon, so I did a bit of playing.

Moon 7-5-17

Need to buy a gift for yourself or someone else? My online store, Deb Thuman Art, is here.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing this week here.

Posted in Beads, Photography

Ups. Downs. Sideways.

My website store at Deb Thuman Art has had it’s first sale. Thanks Delores!!! I’m still working on the learning curve for the store, but the order is in the mail and on it’s way to Delores. And I discovered I can text the tracking number to 28777 and get text updates on where the package is.

I’ve been working on bracelets and earrings. I’ll be taking good photos in the next few days but here’s some quick shots.

This is my first time working with memory wire, and I really like it. I played around with semi-precious gems, glass beads and copper beads.

Glass Cube bracelet

Glass and aluminum beads.

Copper & Glass bead bracelet

Glass and copper beads.

Amathyst & Rhodochrosite bracelet

Amethyst and rhodochrosite.

Pyramid bracelet

I wanted to try these pyramid beads. They’re a bit pricey, but fun.

Triangle Bead Bracelet

And I wanted to try using triangle shaped beads. There’s some with the pyramid beads, and here’s one just triangles.

I bought more glass beads.

Black Bead earrings

I bought some Swarovsky crystals in shapes I hadn’t seen before and in colors I haven’t used before.

Wild Heart EarringsTriangle Earrings

I’ll be taking the jewelry to the Farmers & Craft Market in Las Cruces on July 8. Whatever doesn’t sell there will go into my website store. If you’re interested in any of the pieces, please email me at debthuman@zianet.com.

I’m still working on learning Affinity. I had used PhotoScape X so often that I was almost automatically picking ways to edit photos. Last night, I took some moon shots and did a bit of playing.

Blue Moon 6-29-17Bubble moon 6-29-17Moon 6-29-17 blinds

I love taking sunset photos. In the desert, sunset can be quite subtle. Below is sunset behind Mexican bird of paradise bushes. The pea pod like things are seed pods. They pods split open making a sharp, cracking sound and the seeds fly off in all directions.

Evening 6-25-17

I noticed the sunset was reflected in a window one evening, and I’ve been working on getting a decent reflected sunset shot. I’m not thrilled with the one below. Even though it’s an improvement over my earlier attempts, this one is too grainy for my taste. I also don’t like the angle of the window. I needed to be shooting straight on and I must have been at a slight angle.

Sunset reflections 6:17

I looked out one evening and saw something I’d never seen before, sunset color in the north. The shot below is facing due north.

Northern sunset 6-19-17

I’ll be firing the kiln tomorrow. In this load will be the planter and planter stand, two bird baths and stands, four lanterns, a few rattle rocks and a few soap dishes. I’m looking forward to glazing using some new-to-me glazes.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing this week.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Clay, Jewelry, Photography, Pottery

Look Me In The Eye

I’m terrified.

What the republicans want to do to health care will literally kill me. I have health insurance now only because Jim is still working. Without health insurance, I can’t afford to see my doctor. I can’t afford my prescriptions. I can’t afford the blood tests to see if my thyroid medication is the proper dose. A couple months ago, I got a bill showing the original charge for touching a big Q-tip to the medium in a petrie dish, covering the dish, putting it on a shelf, and checking it in a couple days to see if there was bacteria in the sample (there was) was $675.00. Without insurance, the antibiotics for 10 days would have cost $85.00.

I have hypothyroid. My thyroid doesn’t work properly. This is a simple matter to treat – I take thyroid medication. Without the medication, I will die. My copay for Armour is $103.00 for a 90-day supply. I’m pretty sure the HMO we have is jacking prices so that we will order our meds from off shore pharmacies. That way, the HMO gets all the money and I get nothing for my insurance premiums.

I cannot afford my psych meds without insurance. My mood stabilizer, which is a generic, is $128.00 a month without insurance. Without my psych meds, my only hope is to sink into a depression low enough that I would have to feel better to kill myself. Yes, depression can go below Jump Off A Cliff level. Been there. It sucked, but I did live through it.

Once we are both retired, we will not be able to afford any decent health insurance. It will cost us at least $20,000.00 a year for decent health insurance. That’s nearly 2/3 of my pension. Doesn’t leave too much for luxuries like utilities and food.

What I would like to say to the republicans in congress is: If you motherfuckers want to kill me, at least have the decency to use a gun and have the balls to look me in the eye before you pull the trigger.

Maybe I should put that into a quilt.

I’ve been working on art. I need a better photo editing program than the free app I’ve got. I tried Affinity. It was on sale for $40.00. That’s the entire price – it’s not a subscription like Photoshop. I had serious problems with Affinity. It’s NOT intuitive. The instruction manual us nearly 700 pages long and it explains everything except how to edit a photo. The Youtube videos Affinity puts out are impossible. Everything goes by so fast that I can’t see where the demonstrator is clicking. Finally, I found a video that Affinity doesn’t put out but does explain what I need to know. So I bought the program. I’m now working on learning how to use it.

I played around with sunset photos a bit. As I was walking back to the house after photographing a sunset, I saw the sunset reflected in my kitchen window. I wanted to take the shot straight on; but when I tried, the sunset disappeared.

Reflections 6-20-17 JPEG

Reflection 3 6-18-17 use this one

I’ve also gotten back into playing in the mud. I’m working on lanterns. First, I used a hole cutter to pierce round holes in the lanterns. On Wednesday when Jim and I went to Albuquerque to buy clay supplies, I bought a set of itty bitty cookie cutters and used a couple of them to make cat shaped and fish shaped holes in the lantern. The itty bitty cutters fit into a round tin. But they only fit in that tin one way and I’m not fond of jigsaw puzzles. After much consternation, I got all the cutters in the tin.

Lantern 1 6-23-17 jpeg

Lanterns 2 6-23-17 jpeg

I’m also working on bird baths. I bought some styrofoam wreath bases and I’m using them as a slump mold to make the bowls of the bird baths. I’ll make pedestals for under the bowls. Jim wants to grow succulents, but the rabbits eat everything. I made the bowl part of a planter to hold succulents today. I’ll make a pedestal base for it in a few days.

Suculent Planter 6-23-17 jpeg

Just for fun, I’m working on rattles shaped like rocks. I’ll be using these for test tiles.

Rattle Rocks 6-23-17 jpeg

I put some jewelry into my store – Deb Thuman Art. You can see more of my jewelry here.

Wild Heart earrings - 1Copper 2 6-18-17

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what other artists have been doing this week.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Grief, Judiasm, PTSD

Depression. It sucks.

Depression. It’s not fun. It hurts. It kills. It destroys. It renders a person unable to function. Other than that, it’s no big deal.

My youngest sister died June 24, 1997. She was 35, 10 years younger than me, and left behind a husband and a 3-year-old daughter. Melanoma killed her. I didn’t know any of that until a friend read the obit in the newspaper and called me to ask how I was doing. My mother had decreed that my surviving siblings not tell me that my sister was sick or that she died. Penalty for doings so was being cut out of the will. My revenge is that my mother spent the last years of her life in a nursing home so there was nothing left to inherit. They had sold their humanity for nothing. No, they haven’t apologized. They decided not to call me when my mother died. I only found out she died when I saw the obituary. I subscribe to Legacy.com and I get a list of all the people with the last name Thuman who have obituaries published each day. My siblings were surprised when I crashed the funeral. They haven’t apologized for that, either.

Now, I have two difficult days each year. April 1 which was my sister’s birthday and June 24. I thought I’d get past grieving by now. Guess I was wrong. Some years are better than others. This isn’t one of the better ones. The flashbacks started a couple weeks ago. I get them in clusters rather than one at a time. Long ago, I discovered that if I look at the flashback, acknowledge that what happened to me was terrible, the memory would sink back down into my brain and leave me alone. It’s a great technique and I urge anyone who has PTSD to give it a try. Except it’s not working for me this time.

Usually, I can bury myself in art when I’m depressed or upset and I find myself back at center. Not today. I’m working on ceramic lanterns and bowls. I stopped mid-lantern because I was too depressed to continue. I don’t like to have music playing when I work, and working with mud makes very little noise. Critters come right up to the patio. A bird nearly stepped on my foot until it realized that a human was sitting there. Rabbits come up to the patio and eat whatever is growing. A small bird perched on plant stand and drank water from the saucer under the pot with chives growing in it. Maybe 10 feet from where I was sitting. Normally, close encounters with critters is a wonderful, special thing. Providing the critter isn’t a rattlesnake and I’m not about to step on it. This morning, it was just something that happened.

Years ago, a friend suggested I do something to honor my sister’s life. I thought perhaps if I could put my feelings into a piece of art  I’d feel better. Except I can’t figure out how I want to do this. What do I make? A giant, stuffed malignant mole? Then what? Take it out in the desert and shoot it? A mangled foot to commemorate the day my mother watched my sister play with oven cleaner, then washed her off, put the oven cleaner soaked sneaker back on her foot and then yelled at her for the next 4 hours to stop crying? Finally, she took my sister to the hospital. Second and third degree burns from her waist down. The worst was her right foot. The scar covered nearly the entire top of her foot. No, there was never any plastic surgery to remove the scar. There was also never any report made to child protective services. We’re white and we had private insurance.

Maybe a quilt of a woman skiing. My sister skied. She tore wild down the mountain as if she were Franz Klamer attacking the downhill race in the olympics. Her friends asked her where she learned to hot dog like that. In those days, flying over moguls and other fancy stuff was called hot dogging. My sister replied that she didn’t know how to ski.

Maybe I can attach a maxi-pad to the quilt. When my sister had her first period, she looked under the bathroom sink, found feminine supplies (there were always feminine supplies under the bathroom sink), pinned the pad in her pants, and went on with life. She didn’t think she needed to tell anyone. That’s what convinced me I never needed to worry about my sister. I knew she would always figure out a way to handle any situation in which she found herself.

She graduated from high school, but she didn’t go to the ceremony. Our mother couldn’t be bothered so my sister’s passage from high school to adult woman went unnoticed and undocumented.

The grief never goes away. Some years, like this one, the grief is unbearable.

Tonight, kaddish is being read during services for my sister. Jim will go with me. Maybe I’ll be able to get through the prayer without crying. Next week, Jim and I are going to Albuquerque to buy clay and shop for some other art supplies. Maybe that will help me feel less depressed.

This wasn’t the best week to do this, but I bought a domain name and opened an on-line shop. Getting the shop up and running was frustrating, and I’m not handling frustration well this week. I do have an etsy shop, but it gets no traffic and I have to pay each time I list something. So I opened my own shop, Deb Thuman Art. You can get there from here. Stop by and let me know what you think. I’m still getting inventory loaded into the shop and at the moment, there are only photographs.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing this week.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Photography

Bipolar Disorder Adds Something to Life

I have two undergraduate degrees, one in biology and one in journalism. I have a law degree. I passed two bar exams. Because I take a class at New Mexico State University each semester since Spring 2000, I have now spent more of my life in school that out. I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent woman.

A couple weeks ago, I set up my booth at the local Farmers & Craft Market. Yes, it’s a whole lot of work. No, I can’t do it by myself. I need Jim to help me because the EZ Up is only easy to get up if there are two people setting it up. I’m too short to get the legs fully extended. Jim does not like helping me with this. That’s because his experience trying to sell art at the Farmers & Craft Market wasn’t pleasant.  His suggestion was that I set up a website and sell from an online store. I’ve got an etsy store, but I can’t seem to figure out how to get people to visit it.

I searched on line. I read reviews. I asked on Facebook, the Digital Photography School Facebook page, the Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists Facebook page and the Clay Buddies Facebook page about websites. Two came up most often: Squarespace and Wix. Both are touted to be DIY website building sites.

After more than an hour trying to figure out Squarespace and discovering that while I can set up an online store, I cannot connect it to my paypal account, I gave up. Plus, building the site is extremely difficult. I ended up crying. Somewhere on Squarespace I’ve got two sites. If I could figure out how, I’d delete them.

It took longer than that to set up a site on Wix. And I can’t change fonts, can’t add a logo unless I want to remove my name, and I’m stuck with some of their photos. I could, and did, connect it to my paypal account. It’s been more than two hours since I went live with the site, but I’m still upset, shaking, and it’s probably not a  good idea to try talking to me. If you would like to see my website, you can here.

I had gotten some good offers from Shutterfly for photo prints. With shipping, even the free offers cost more than going to Walgreens. Plus, there’s a long wait to get my prints. One set of prints is stuck in El Paso. It has been there since June 3, 2017. I’ve sent an email to Shutterfly and might get an answer in a few days. I cannot call anyone at Shutterfly. Customer service via phone and I don’t get along. More than once, I’ve ended up screaming at the person who was supposed to help me. I think I permanently traumatized an obnoxious person at Express Scripts and a guy in Russia.  When I use Walgreens, I go online, upload photos, click on the size and number of prints for each photo, hit send and my photos will be ready to pick up in a couple hours. No lost prints. No waiting for more than a week for my prints that don’t get lost. No screaming. Other than paying the clerk, I don’t have to talk to anyone.

Earlier this week, I spent several hours getting set up with Skype. I downloaded what the website said to download. Except that was the wrong download. How was I supposed to know that? It said download for Mac and I have a Macbook Pro. Fortunately, Skype has customer service on chat so I didn’t have to talk to anyone. By that time, I was too frustrated to try talking to anyone. I need Skype only because the Volunteer Lawyers Program offers free continuing legal education seminars to lawyers who accept a minimum of one case per year. I wanted to attend a seminar, but I didn’t want to drive to Albuquerque which would require about $60 worth of gas and a stay in a hotel plus meals. For me, the only thing Skype is good for is attending a seminar. Otherwise, I’d blast the sucker off my hard drive.

Bipolar disorder makes handling frustration extremely hard. Whatever frustration you experience using customer service via telephone, magnify that by a factor of at least 5 and you get an idea of what I experience. Toss in off-shore customer service and trying to talk to someone who almost speaks English, and the experience is unbearable.

I look back, and wonder how I managed life before having an accurate diagnosis. It took 35 years for the bipolar disorder to be diagnosed and  two psychiatrists missed the diagnosis. No, I don’t know how that happened. Bipolar disorder isn’t something that can be hidden. I have a friend who is bipolar and who swears by his psychiatrist. I swear at psychiatrists. The only thing the two I saw were any good at was pushing drugs.

Art is one of the ways I can get myself back to center when I’m either dancing on the manic end or the depressed end of the seesaw. Photography is an almost instant gratification form of art. Maybe it’s instant gratification because I love all the parts of the process. I love looking for something to photograph. I love looking for the best shot. I love composing the shot. I dearly love editing and playing with the shot.

Sunset 1 6-6-17

This is the sunset as it appeared in real life.

Sunset 1 6-6-17 edge light leak grunge

This is the sunset after I got done playing with it.

Cactus seed pod 2 6-9-17

The common name for this cactus is claret cup because of the claret colored blossoms. This is what the seed pod looks like.

Cactus flower 6-8-17

This is a cactus that only blooms in direct sun which makes photographing it difficult. The light is harsh, it’s hard to show depth, and I have to be extremely careful about my shadow. The cactus are about 4″ tall, but you can’t tell that from the photo.

Cactus blossom 6-9-17

This is what the cactus looked like this morning.

Agave 5 6-9-17 color adj glass blocksAgave 4 6-9-17 edge grunge x2

Both of the above are shots of the agave in front of the house. I had fun playing with them.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have done this past week.

 

Posted in Photography

45 And Counting

Tomorrow, we celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. I feel like I’ve been married forever and that I got married just last month. To celebrate, Jim is buying me a new vacuum cleaner. No, he’s not insensitive; I wanted a new Dyson, so we’re getting one.

I’m still working on the Disappearing Downtown project. I spent one morning this week in Old Mesilla taking shots of the plaza. Because of the Spanish influence, we have plazas here rather than a downtown district. The plaza is like the town squares found in other parts of the US. I got up early so I could take advantage of the light. The good news: There was no one around so I could take my time composing shots and stand wherever I wanted. The bad news: There was no one around so the plaza looks lifeless.

Mesilla 64 5-30-17

Mesilla 9 5-30-17

Mesilla 6 5-30-17

Mesilla 98 5-30-17 neg grunge

Mesilla 99 5-30-17 grunge

Mesilla 1 5-30-17

Mesilla 65 5-30-17

There’s a Nambe shop on the plaza, and some wonderful pieces are in the display window. I wanted to play with reflections so I concentrated on shooting a large bowl that was on display. If you look closely, you can see me reflected in the bowl.

Mesilla 86 5-30-17 vintage 2

Mesilla 85 5-30-17 edge 2 vintage grunge

Later in the week, I tried taking photos inside the local shopping mall. That worked well until a security guard came running up to tell me I couldn’t take photos and that some of the merchants complained that there was “some woman taking photos.” Yes, the mall can forbid photography. Although it’s a public space, the courts see malls as private property and the mall owners can limit access and activities.

Mall 22 5-31-17 edge 2 vintage 2

 

Mall 20 5-31-17 edge grunge, glass blocks x2

 

Mall 17 5-31-17 crop for eyes

 

Mall 14 5-31-17

Mall 11 5-31-17

I had set my white balance to fluorescent and neglected to set it back to daylight. And so my first set of storm shots came out weird.

Rain 3 6-1-17

Rain 6 6-1-17

The top photo is set for fluorescent lighting, the bottom is what I actually saw.

Rain 9 6-1-17

Rain play 4 6-1-17 vintage grunge cinema x2

Playing in the rain.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing this week.

Posted in Beads, Jewelry, Photography, Pottery

Where Have All The Downtowns Gone?

I start a new adventure tomorrow. I’ll be setting up my booth at the Las Cruces Farmers & Craft Market for the first time.

Do I have enough stuff made?

I’ve got earrings hung on a display case Jim made for me.

Will people like my work?

Photographs will have to wait for next week because the display case is loaded, closed and ready to go.

Do I have enough small bills and coins to make change?

I’ve got photographs slipped between a plain mat and a cut mat then put into an archival bag and sealed. I’ve got boxes to display the photos.

Will people buy my work?

I’ve got a few mugs, bowls and soap dishes.

Will people like my pots? 

Digital Photography School Facebook page is having a world-wide event tomorrow. Those who participate will take a photo of sunrise, submit the photo along with the time and place the photo was taken.

Did it have to be tomorrow?

I’ll have to get up extra early to take a sunrise photo.

I’m working on a new project. When I was at the Farmers Market a few weeks ago, I looked around and saw how dead Downtown Las Cruces is. Downtown across the US is dead. I decided to photograph the dead downtown. Then I thought a bit. I plan on photographing the empty buildings on the major streets that were supposed to be the new downtown. I’m also going to photograph the empty stores in the local shopping mall. There’s a very old section of Las Cruces near what is now downtown. I think that’s where downtown used to be before downtown was downtown. I’d like to photograph that as well.

Downtown 2 5-17-17

An empty walkway between two old buildings. The building on the right used to house the Public Defender Department when I first came to work for them. The toilet in the ladies’ room in the back isn’t attached all that well to the floor. In the kitchen in the very back, you can look at a corner and see the street. No, there’s no window in that corner. There’s a bad joint between two outside walls. The building should have been torn down 30 years ago.

Downtown 1 5-17-17

On the left is the rest of the front of the old building where the Public Defender Department was. To the right of that is the Rio Grande Theater which has been restored and movies again play there.

Downtown 3 5-17-17

This used to be a restaurant. Now it’s just space. I hope whoever takes over the space keeps the front doors. They have gorgeous metalwork.

Downtown 6 5-17-17

Main Street looking west down Las Cruces Street. Where are the people? Where’s the hustle, bustle and life? Gone.

Downtown 5 5-17-17

A few years back, Main Street was revamped and this is where the Farmers & Craft Market is held.

Downtown 14 5-17-17

Another very old building trying hard to keep tenants. This is the corner, more or less, of Las Cruces Street and Main Street on the west side.

Downtown 16 5-17-17

When I was very little, the doors of my house were never locked. Now, windows have bars. I’m not lamenting….I like having a gas line, a water line, a sewer line, and garbage pickup. When we had unlocked doors, we had an artesian well in the basement, a cistern to hold “city water” because the well water was seriously hard, we heated with oil, the sewage went into a septic tank that regularly needed cleaning, garbage was burned in an old, 55-gallon drum, and I spent quality time sitting on a branch up in the cherry tree because we had no neighbors and there was no one for me to play with.

Downtown 18 5-17-17

This is the dumpster in the parking lot behind the building pictured above. It’s a mural that has been adorned with graffiti.

What happened to Downtown? And to the major roads were Downtown was supposed to move to? And to the mall that was the New Downtown? Some is because of people like me who do almost all shopping on line. I don’t remember the last time I walked through the local mall.

I also want to photograph the Old Mesilla (ma-see-ya) Plaza. In New Mexico, the town plaza was the original downtown. The plaza still exists and thrives in Mesilla. But it thrives because of all the funky, weird stores surrounding the plaza. I think it’s the funky and weird that make survival possible. Although we haven’t been there in nearly 20 years, there’s a section of Portland, Maine where the dead spaces were turned into funky and weird shops.

I’ve no idea what I want to do with this series, but it has taken over the creative part of my brain and now, I have to do the series.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what other artists have been doing.

Posted in Beads, Garden, Jewelry, Photography

Life Cycles and Beads

I’ve been working on photography and designing jewelry. The photography is going better than the jewelry. This week, I learned how to adjust the white balance so my yucca photos have creamy flowers rather than green flowers. I’ve got the white balance on the Canon set for sunlight, but the Canon doesn’t seem to understand white flowers.

Yucca 1 5-18-17 use this oneYucca 6 5-18-17 use this oneYucca 15 5-18-17 use this one

I’m also working on taking the shots other photographers don’t take. Blend that with an undergrad degree in biology where my work was concentrated in botany and microbiology, and you get plant photos that you won’t ever see in a seed catalog. This is a red yucca that is nearing the end of blooming.

Red yucca 5 5-18-17 use this one

This is from a Mexican palm tree. It’s the cross section of a leaf that closely resembles the cross section of a blade of grass. Palms and grass are in the same family.

Cross section 5 5-17-17 use this one

I’ve also been looking up at the sky in the mornings and I’ve gotten a couple good partial moon shots. If I get the moon in sharp, the sky gets dark. If I get the sky closer to what I saw, the moon isn’t so sharp. I like both of the shots.

Moon 1 5-18-17Moon 2 5-18-17

I’ve been working with two-hole beads and trying to come up with designs. It’s not as easy as I thought. I keep getting bad color combinations and having to remove all the beads and start over. The problem is there’s no way to know how the bracelet is going to look until I get a couple rows done. I’m working with some beads the color of watermelon, and I’m having a hard time figuring out colors. I thought flat black would be nice. It’s not. It looks like tiny mouse turds. Probably not something someone wants hanging on her/his wrist.

Bracelets that may or may not get finished. I need to decide if I like them enough.

Coral & blue bracelet 5-18-17Yellow & slate bracelet 5-18-17Green & White bracelet 5-18-17

Earrings that are complete and will be sold.

Blue earrings 2 5-18-17Blue earrings 1 5-18-17Bamboo tile earrings 5-18-17Copper square earrings 5-18-17Green & Crystal earrings 5-18-17Green rondell earrings 5-18-17Teal & Crystal earrings 5-18-17Teal star earrings 5-18-17

The agave has moved past bloom and is now in seed production. Eventually, the pods will split and the seeds will come flying out.

Agave 4 5-18-17 use this one

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what other artists have been doing this week.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Photography

Coping Without A Coping Saw

The water heater is fixed. I can now take a shower in the master bath, clean the master bath, soak in the whirlpool tub, and wash laundry in hot water. This is remarkably good. And remarkably appreciated. To celebrate, I am washing all the used towels in hot water.  My latest visit with my doctor convinced me that approach would be prudent.

I’ve been battling a mixed episode for the past week. A mixed episode has features of both manic and depressive. Meaning I feel like both knocking out walls in the house to do some major remodeling and jumping off a cliff – neither of which I will do. No, exercise does not help. If I get myself going on my elliptical machine, rather than calming down, I get more agitated.  The best I can do right now is grab my camera and take a walk.

Hearing that the vile, cheap, greedy bastards in the House of Representatives – and New Mexico’s representative Steve Pierce voted for this – I fell far below center. When Jim retires, I will be uninsurable. If I can get disaster insurance, at a cost of $2K or more a month, it won’t cover my thyroid condition or bipolar disorder. All coverage for mental illness is eliminated. Without insurance, I cannot afford the blood tests to monitor my thyroid levels. Without insurance, I cannot afford my thyroid medication – which is keeping me alive. Without insurance, I cannot afford my mood stabilizer. So. Will I die because my thyroid doesn’t work? Or will I die because I can’t escape the depressed end of the mood swing spectrum? May every one of the motherfuckers who voted for this bill and everyone in their families be barred from having health insurance and get a life-threatening illness. That would be justice. And so I am both depressed and enraged.

On to happier topics. Yesterday, I went out to photograph white yucca. On Wednesday, Jim got his eyes examined and while I waited in Walmart for him to be finished, I worked on my novel. The scene I was working on gave me the idea to photograph the yucca from below. So I did.

Yucca has a creamy white flower. The camera saw it as having yellow and green tints. I played around with tints and hues. I got some interesting results, but nothing that looked like a yucca flower.

Yucca 2 5-11-17Yucca 3 5-11-17

The sky is way too dark and the flowers have a green cast that doesn’t exist in real life.

I played around with tints, hues and other cool color stuff I could find.

Yucca 2 5-11-17 color alteredYucca 2 5-11-17 color altered grunge vintageYucca 9 5-11-18 Use this one played w:color replace sky color

After asking on the Digital Photography School Facebook page, I played around with my editing program, and found the adjustment for white balance. Then I learned how to use it.

Yucca 5 5-11-17 Use this oneYucca 7 5-11-17 Use this oneYucca 9 5-11-18 Use this one

I like this one above the best.

I played about with overlays and other goodies and got a few shots I like.

Yucca 8 5-11-17 grunge, edge, watercolor pencil HDR water color pencil

The agave is progressing towards seed production. If I had a microscope, I’d be tempted to cut a couple individual buds each day, cut longitudinal sections and watch the seed development. Agave 1 5-11-17Agave 2 5-11-17

There’s a place on the North Shore of Oahu where you can stand on the beach, peer through the trees and watch the surf. I tried recreating that idea but I’m not sure if I like the results.

Agave 3 5-11-17

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.  Check out what some other artists are doing. There’s some great inspiration in those blogs.

Posted in Emotions, Photography

Art: The Antidote to Misery

The Great Laundry Event has passed. I discovered I’m allergic to the laundry detergent I’ve been using. I bought some detergent that has very little added and then washed all the bedding, all the towels, and all my clothes. I stopped counting loads at 12.

We’re still using the guest bathroom because there’s still no hot water for the master bathroom. The part finally arrived and Jim will call the plumber on Monday to see when we can get the water heater fixed.

Because of recent events in Congress, events that will cause me to be uninsurable at which time I won’t be able to afford medication that keeps me alive, I’ve needed to find refuge in art.

I’ve been doing a bit of work on the novel which is now starting to sound like a novel. As opposed to sounding like me. Sigh. I’m not so sure sounding like a novel is wonderful although it will help to get my book published when I finally finish it. I do find it interesting that when I listen to network news commentary on officer involved shootings, the commentator clearly has done no research. This is disturbing.

I’ve been working on photography the past few days and I’ve decided to concentrate on the photos that most other people don’t take.

Yucca 2 vignette

Lots of people take photos of blooming yucca; the one above is a soap yucca – New Mexico’s state flower. Not that many take photos of the seed pods that develop after pollination and the dead stalk after the pods have spread their seeds.

Yucca 8 5-5-17 use this oneYucca 6 5-5-17

Yucca pod 1 5-5-17

 

I played with the photos of the pods.

Yucca 6 5-5-17 edge, grunge 3Yucca 6 5-5-17 edge, grunge 3 fbric

The base of the yucca is interesting so I took a shot and played. The original shot is the last one in the series.

Yucca 2 5-5-17 colored pencil, grunge 2 HDRYucca 3 5-5-17 negYucca 3 5-5-17 neg grunge 2Yucca 2 5-5-17

There’s a huge agave in my back yard, so I took odd photographs and played with the results.

Big agave 4 5-5-17
Original photo of a deal leaf from the large agave.

And what happened when I started playing.

Big agave 4 5-5-17 negBig agave 4 5-5-17 neg grunge fabric use this one

Big Agave 2 5-5-17
Original photo of the base of the large agave.

And what happened when I started playing.

Big agave 3 5-5-17 neg vintage grungeBig Agave 2 5-5-17 neg grunge 2

Big Agave 1 5-5-17
The large agave.

Big Agave 1 5-5-17neg grunge

The played with agave.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what other artists have been doing the past week.

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Garden, Jewelry, Photography, Quilts

Life Force – The Real Super Power

The desert has a life force. I’ve been photographing the progress of the agave in the front yard as it sent up a stalk and began to bloom.Agave 3 4-24-17

We have been having WIND the last week. The agave couldn’t withstand 60 mph winds, and sometime Wednesday before dawn it blew down. I tried to dispel my sadness by photographing the flowers up close, something I could never do while the agave was standing.

Agave 2 4-25-17Agave 3-4-26-17

Yesterday, I noticed that more of the flowers were open.

Agave 1 4-27-17Agave 2 4-27-17Agave 3 4-27-17

The agave is going to bloom, produce seed, and die – even lying on the ground. In that way, agave life is like human life. Knock a person down, and even damaged, the person gets back up and goes on.

The cacti are blooming.

Cactus Flower 4-25-17 use this oneCactus flower 5 4-25-17 cropped use this one

Prickly pear.

Cholla flower 4-25-17 use this one

Cholla pronounced choy-ah.

Red Yucca 11 4-21-17Red yucca 9 4-21-17

Not a cactus, but a red yucca. It’s smaller than the more common soap yucca that produces larger white flowers.

Bird 4-24-17 cropped

As I was photographing the agave, I saw this bird land in a tree. One of my Facebook friends identified it – Black Vented Oriole. It’s native to Mexico and Central America and, according to the map I found on line, is roughly 100 miles outside of its habitat.

I’ve been working on the sexual assault quilt I started a couple months ago. I’ve finished quilting NO in assorted spots and I’m now quilting around the letters of the words. I used a variegated cream thread for NO and I’m using a variegated purple thread for around the letters. The horizontal stitching with dark thread is temporary. It holds the layers together while I’m quilting. Once I get the quilt squared up and the edges sewn down, I’ll remove the lines and put on the binding.

Fucking Arm - use this one 4-26-17

Some of the rage has dissipated, but I’m still furious. This past week, Law & Order Special Victims Unit had an episode loosely based on the crap that has happened to women who work for Fox News. The ending, where there’s a criminal conviction and the jerk goes to prison, was wishful thinking. Maybe. Someday. Until then, and forever after, it’s my body and it belongs to ME.

I’m also working on bracelet designs although I need to give that a rest. The thread keeps getting tangled. I keep missing a bead with the thread. Beading is becoming more frustrating than satisfying. There will be photos when I am satisfied with what I’m making. Although it does occur to me that I should keep a photo record of the duds so I can see my progression and improvement.

Last week, I had orientation so I can sell my art at the local Farmer’s & Craft Market. I had to show the organization that runs the market samples of my work. That’s when I discovered I can get better photo prints from Walgreens than I can get from my printer at home. I want to sell my photos in which I played with editing. These are some from the past week.

Agave 3 4-24-17 water color grunge 2 tiny planet underwater 2Agave blossom 4-25-17 watercolor, HDR, vintage light, vignette erodeRed Yucca 11 4-21-17 edge vintage 2 light grungeChives 2 4-12-17 light, saturateMoon 4 4-21-17 crop use this one light leak grunge 2 edge 3

There are mundane aspects of my life. Pieces that defy art. I developed an allergy which caused itching. I thought it might be to gabapentin which I had been on just long enough that I’d go through withdrawal if I came off of it. Then I realized the itching was where my underwear was. I “washed” some clean clothes, including underwear, in just water. When I put those clothes on, the itching immediately stopped. I bought some detergent that is for sensitive skin and then laundered all the towels, all the bedding and all my summer clothes. I stopped counting loads at 12. Living in a desert, I was able to hang nearly all of the laundry on the clothes line.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what the other artists have been doing.

Posted in Beads, Garden, Jewelry, Photography

Immersing Myself in Art and Healing

Thank God for pasta! I got side tracked taking photos and processing them and didn’t put anything in the crock pot. So dinner will be pasta.

I’ve been making art and feeling a whole lot better. I’m calmer. I’m not depressed as I was a couple days ago.

I wanted to take some photos of a partial moon. When I got up this morning, the sky and moon were perfect.

Moon 6 4-21-17

Moon photos can be boring, so I played around some.

Moon 9 4-21-17 light 2 vintageMoon 6 4-21-17 leaksMoon 4 4-21-17 crop use this one light leak grunge 2 edge 3

The agave blooms aren’t all that spectacular, but I took a few photos anyway.

Agave 6 4-21-17 vintage 2Agave 4 4-21=17

The only thing to do with a boring photo is to play with it.

Agave 2 4-21-17 vintage edge 2 vintageAgave 4-21-17 cropped edge 2 vintage grungeAgave 5 4-21-17 edge vintage textue use this one

The red yucca have only a few days when the blooms are worth looking at.

Red yucca 10-21-17Red yucca 8 4-21-17Red Yucca 5 4-21-17Red Yucca 11 4-21-17 edge vintage 2 light grunge

I’ve been working on jewelry designs. So far, I’ve come up with ugly earrings, an unwearable bracelet, and I’m sort of stuck where I am making the current bracelet. I’m using two-hole beads and it gets tricky when I add rows. You think regular beads are addicting? Try two-hole beads. Even more addicting!

Yesterday, I went to orientation for the Farmers & Craft Market in Las Cruces. One can’t just pull up and set up. Vendors have to be residents of Dona Ana County and show proof of residency. Everything I get mailed to me comes to my post office box, and that wasn’t acceptable for proof of living in the county. My driver’s license lists my post office address. The tax bill, which has the physical address, comes to Jaworski, James and Deborah. Thuman is missing. Fortunately, they accepted my voter registration card.

The people who run the market have to see what it is that each person intends to sell. I showed a pair of earrings and was told when I’m ready to sell bracelets, I have to show the people who run the market my bracelets before I will be allowed to sell them.

I won’t be setting up at the market until May. The people who run the market are trying something new starting in May. The market runs on Saturday morning and Wednesday morning. That will continue. The market will start running on Wednesday night. The thought is people who can’t make it to the market on Wednesday morning because of work schedules, will be able to make it to the Wednesday evening market. It’s going to be an interesting experiment for me.

At the moment, I’m performing another type of experiment. I know I’m allergic to something. Figuring out what the something is can be frustrating. I thought I might be allergic to medication I’m taking which would be tragic because the medication is working really well. Then I started to think about where I had the worst itching…..right where my underwear is. Hmmmmm…… Wonder if I’ve developed an allergy to my laundry detergent. Fortunately, I did laundry the other day. Now, I’ve got laundry in the washer and I’m not using any detergent. The clothes are clean and I’m hoping to wash the detergent residue out of the clothes. Sure would be nice if that solved the problem.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by her blog and see what some great artists have been doing the past week.

Posted in Emotions, Garden, Photography

Terrified. Outraged. Shocked. Need Art.

I am shocked, sickened, and outraged by what my government has done the past week. The press secretary, who knows full well his every syllable will be recorded, reported and analyzed, denied the Holocaust, said gas wasn’t used against people – meaning as a Jew, I’m subhuman in his eyes, and he wasn’t fired. Stamp of approval from the Sex Offender in Chief who refused to acknowledge Holocaust Remembrance Day because only Jews are remembered. Every Holocaust Remembrance ceremony I’ve ever attended has included all groups who were targeted and murdered. I know the sex offender is evil. I haven’t decided if the fact he is an incompetent idiot is a good thing or a bad thing.

Under the shock and fury is terror. My most valuable possession is a piece of paper that says I am a Jew. If I need to leave the US in a hurry – and that fear is becoming stronger and more realistic every day, Israel has to take me in. Under the Law of Return, any Jew who asks is given “immediate” Israeli citizenship. Immediate being a term of art – it takes 3-6 months.

Yesterday, the US blew up Afghanistan except the Sex Offender in Chief isn’t taking credit/responsibility for dropping the ultimate non-nuke bomb and destroying everything for a mile in all directions. According to the press release, the government of Afghanistan knew in advance and was in agreement with this bombing. Except all of this was news to the Agfhani government. But the US extended deepest sympathy towards the families of the Syrians who where killed. Oops. Hey, mistakes happen.

Eventually, and probably sooner than we expect, the Sex Offender in Chief will piss off a foreign government to the point where someone will drop a bomb on us and make Pearl Harbor look like a day at the beach. But that’s okay. The defense contractors will make several billion dollars and that’s all that really matters.

When I was a kid, I had nightmares about a nuclear attack. Now, I have the same nightmares – only I have them when I’m awake. I have no better ways to deal with this terror now than I had when I was a kid.

And so I turn to art for comfort.

I’m still designing ugly beaded earrings, so no bead photos. Instead, we have botany. I have an undergrad degree in biology, and my concentration was botany and microbiology. And so I photograph what’s blooming.

Jim Agave 3 4-14-17 use this one
Jim and the agave.
Agave flower 2 4-14-17 use this one
The view from the ground.
Agave 6 4-11-17 use this one
It’s starting to send out branches and “blooms.”

I’ve discovered that slightly underexposing my shots of the agave allows me to bring out more details in post.

Ocotillo 7 4-14-17 use this one
Ocotillo close up of flower.

 

Ocotillo 1 4-14-17
Ocotillo – the top part of a huge bush in the back yard.

There’s a huge ocotillo in the back yard. This is roughly the top 1/3 of the plant.

Red Yucca 1 4-11-17 use this one

Red yucca.

Prickly pear 2 4-14-17 grungePrickly pear 1 4-14-17

The prickly pear are getting ready to bloom, and I wanted to play with a shallow depth of field. I like the way the background blurs out on these shots.

Bird 1 4-14-17 use this one

Mexican Bird of Paradise.

Iris end 1 4-11-17

The end of the iris for this year. I wanted to try some shots with unusual subject matter. Dead flowers are pretty unusual subject matter.

Prickly pear 1 4-14-17 edge grunge 2 water grungeIris end 1 4-11-17 neg edge 2 grunge 2Iris 1 4-14-17 negBird Paradise 3 4-14-17 edge 2 grunge

Above is the one I like best, and below is a close second.

Bird 1 4-14-17 use this one edge 2Agave flower 3 4-14-17 vintageagave 4 4-14-17 light grunge 2

And some playing around.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. There are lots of great artists and great art linked with her blog here.