It’s been a rough few days. I wanted to decrease the Wellbutrin because I’m taking a prescription form of folate that is formulated to cross the blood brain barrier. The folate helps keep me above suicidal but doesn’t cause brain dropouts. I tried cutting the Wellbutrin pill in half. Nope. Bad idea. I felt myself sinking below center. The rate of suicide for people who are bipolar is 20 times that of the rest of the population. I find that terrifying. I’ve been suicidal 5 times in my life. How many times can I walk up to the edge of the cliff and not jump off? I’m back to the dosages I was on and much closer to center.
Bipolar disorder means having moods that have minds of their own. I’m in a foul mood, but there’s no reason why I should feel this way. Working on art helped, but I’m still not at center. I had ordered some impression jasper. It’s a stone that gives the impression of jasper. Except it’s not jasper. These two are dyed. I liked the color, so I’ve been playing around.
I don’t usually just have a pendant on a silver chain, but this particular Swavorski crystal would be overwhelmed if I added any beads.
I played a bit with making a book mark.
I can’t just sit and watch TV; I have to be doing something. I’ve been crocheting circles. Eventually, I’ll roll out a slab of clay, arrange the circles on the slab, press them in, and cut out little trays.
I wanted to make a quilt to commemorate the murders at the temple in Pittsburgh last October. I’m not sure I’m all that happy with the chai, but I’m not about to wash this piece. I had to figure out how to make blood spatter for this piece and I can’t remember if I set the blood spatter.
I’m trying to force myself to relax and have fun with my classes, immunology and cell biology. I spent college having to be the best in my classes. I spent law school having to be the best. I spent a career practicing law having to be the best. Now, I’m taking classes that interest me. I’m not going for another degree. The grade doesn’t matter…..except it does matter. I’m feeling burnt out because I’m putting emphasis on getting a good grade rather than putting emphasis on enjoying the class.
Last weekend, I made Madelines. They are a French cookie. I wanted to follow the recipe exactly, and I browned the butter. I’ve never done that before. Did you know that when butter is sufficiently browned, the butter foams, climbs out of the pot and explores the top of the stove? This is why I have a gas stove with enclosed burners.
Next, the recipe said to chill the batter at least 20 minutes, then pipe the batter into the wells of a Madeline pan. Except the batter was too cold and there was no way I could pipe it. So I spooned the batter into the wells. I had used goop on the wells, but I didn’t use enough and the cookies stuck to the pan. Jim did something magic and got the Madelines out of the pan. I used more goop, and the batter was sufficiently warm to pipe. These came out of the pan easily. More goop, and more piping except I didn’t have enough batter to fill every well. Baked on goop is nasty. Getting it off the pan sucks.
The Madelines tasted good. The next morning, I had some Madelines for breakfast. I felt something hard and swallowed before I realized what the hard thing was. It was a gold crown. Knowing it would be cheaper to have the crown reattached than to have a new crown, I spent the next week pooping into a strainer. Jim did the search and rescue part. The plan was to retrieve the crown, wash it off, then use my Instant Pot as an autoclave. No crown. Finally, I gave up and called the dentist.
My birthday was on Thursday and we wanted to celebrate. Except I had a naked tooth that was starting to bother me. I could only chew on one side. We went to Denny’s because you get a free slam on your birthday. My mother tried to force feed me a fried egg when I was little. She told me I wasn’t getting anything else until I ate the egg. After a couple meals and me not eating the egg, she gave up. I don’t care for eggs. Slams come with eggs. I ordered the slam. Jim ordered French toast. When our food arrived, we swapped plates. I had something I could eat. I had to show my driver’s license to prove it was my birthday so we could get the slam for free. Starbucks is next door to the Denny’s, and I have the Starbucks app. If you have the app, you get a free treat on your birthday. I got my Frappuccino for free, and Jim got his two Frappuccinos for half price because it was happy hour day. Dinner and desert for two for a total of about $11. Do we know how to party or what?
The next morning, I went to the dentist. He said he needed to do additional prep on the tooth, and I got to enjoy two things I hate. I detest getting Novocain and I got two shots. At the end of the drilling, they took an impression of the tooth. I detest having impressions taken even more than I detest getting Novocain. The inside of my mouth is small and the trays never quite fit. They are always a little too big.
Now that I had a temporary crown and I could chew on both sides of my mouth, we could eat at a restaurant and I could order real food. Except I couldn’t. While my mouth and tongue were numb, I bit my tongue. My tongue hurt, and I needed to take an NSAID to make the pain and swelling of the gum around my tooth stop. We went to Starbucks and I discovered that Frappuccino is a great way to apply ice to a tooth.
The next day, with a not sore mouth and a tongue that was almost normal, we went to Olive Garden for lunch. Olive Garden will give you a free dessert if you tell them you are celebrating your birthday. I ordered the Brownie Lasagna. Thin slices of brownie with cream cheese frosting between the layers and on top. Chocolate shavings on top and a raspberry drizzle. Starbucks again. I needed to order one more item to get the extra stars. The problem with the Starbucks app is it’s so easy to order far more often than I would order without the app. But I get a free Frappuccino with 150 points. I save up the points; and when we travel, we have free Starbucks drinks.
My classes started on my birthday. I’m taking cell biology and immunology this semester. My immunology teacher said we may have talked to our grandparents or great-grandparents about life before vaccines in the 1950’s. Hey! I’m 67. I was born the year of the last polio epidemic in the US. I got all of the childhood diseases because there were no vaccines for them. I am not old enough to be a grandparent. My brain is 35. The rest of me isn’t.
One of my teachers was astonished to learn I’m not working towards a degree. She asked if I were taking the class for fun. Yep. We get 6 credits free each semester because Jim works for the university. I’ve got two undergrad degrees, a law degree, and no desire to have another piece of paper. One article I came across while researching PTSD was the fact that learning something new would repair the damage done to the hippocampus. It must be working because I’m finally past the worst of PTSD. No more nightmares. No more memories that take over my brain. Now, I only have uninvited memories that have no power to hurt me. They annoy me, but they don’t’ hurt me.
I take class notes on my iPad. I’ve got an iPencil so I can make drawings in my notes. The iPencil comes with a little adapter for charging and a spare point. Both are little and easy to use. I decided a zippered pouch would be good to have and would keep the tiny parts safe. I’ve got lots and lots and lots of fat quarters and I picked out two that I thought would look nice together. I worked out the pattern. What I wanted was the contrasting fabric on the back of the pouch to continue over the top of the pouch and an inch or so down the front. Except I didn’t make the pattern right.
I still have lots and lots and lots of fat quarters, so I picked out two fabrics, tweaked the pattern and got the zippered pouch I wanted in the first place. I’m not sure what I will do with the second zippered pouch.
Version 2, back.
Today, I’m making my birthday cake – red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I’m going to be learning how to use Wilton’s Icing Gel and to work on my piping skills. I’ve always used the grocery store food coloring that comes in little bottles. I chose the red color that has no taste. This baking stuff is fun and helps keep down the anxiety. As long as the butter stays in the pan, the batter can be piped, and my crown stays attached to my tooth.
I learned some things this week. I learned that saving up quilted tops until I have 4 laptop totes to quilt is not the best idea I’ve had. I’m really tired of free motion quilting. I learned that it’s possible to put too much Sewer’s Aid on a spool of thread. I learned that an incredible amount of lint builds up in the bobbin area when quilting. After I bought my machine last summer, I bought a little vacuum cleaner specially designed for cleaning sewing machines and sergers. I’ve been vacuuming out the lint from the sewing machine after each time I use it.
I learned that I was right when I avoided the cloud. The feds don’t need a warrant to go through everything you’ve got stored on the cloud. Don’t bother telling me you don’t have anything you wouldn’t mind the feds seeing. That’s not the point. We’re guaranteed the right to privacy and we need to be careful never to take that right for granted. I couldn’t get the music I downloaded from the iTunes store to go from the laptop to the iPad. I thought I had configured the cloud to only take my music. Wrong. Damn cloud sucked in my documents. I’ve got legal documents stored on my laptop. I’ve got drafts of the novel I’ve been working on stored on my laptop. Crap. And my iPhone keeps telling me I have to set up authentication to allow what’s on my phone to go on the cloud. NO!!! NEVER!!! If my phone is seized by the feds, they need a warrant to search my phone. Put my phone contacts on the cloud, and no warrant needed. This is serious stuff. Remember, people died so you could have the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
I learned I don’t care for Dijon Wasabe salad dressing. Too hot/sharp for my taste. For years, I grew horseradish and made fresh horseradish. I’m from Buffalo – home of Beef on Weck adorned with fresh horseradish. I understand horseradish. I like horseradish. I don’t care for wasabe.
I played with different colors and different ways to lay out the squares for the laptop totes. I’m always amazed at how much the pattern changes depending on color choices and how the squares are put together.
I’ve done FMQ quilting for the top three. I was working on the bottom one when the thread got persnickety and I put too much Sewer’s Aid on it.
Last Saturday, a man armed with an assault rifle walked into the Walmart in El Paso and started shooting. 22 dead. 24 wounded. I was in shock and not doing too well for a couple days. I’d turn this into a quilt, but I don’t think I could stand to look at it.
My friends have been telling me I need to slow down and that I keep trying to do too much. I should have paid attention. Now, whether I like it or not, I have to slow down.
Jim has two tears in his rotator cuff and needs surgery. One tear is “medium” and the other “major.” We’re waiting for workers comp to approve the surgery. Once Jim has surgery, he won’t be able to move his arm for 6 weeks.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on little ceramic trays because they are a huge seller for me. I’ve got a fully-manual, gas fired, top loading kiln. I’m short. The kiln is deep. Jim has always loaded and unloaded the kiln for me. There’s concern that I won’t be able to load the kiln by myself. Jim won’t be able to load the kiln at all. I’ve got two dozen little trays made. They need to be bisque fired, glazed and glaze fired.
I was looking forward to setting up at the weekly farmers market in November and December. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is a remarkably profitable day for me. Jim helps me with the market. I could probably get the EZ-Up set up by myself – provided I did enough swearing. What I cannot do is drive the truck. The truck is a standard and because of the peripheral neuropathy, I can no longer feel the clutch. It’s too dangerous for me to drive the truck. The EZ-Up won’t fit in the car. Worse, we needed both vehicles to get everything – EZ-Up, tables, jewelry, ceramics, fiber art – to the market. Setting up at the farmers market this year won’t happen.
Jim won’t be able to drive the Mini, also a standard or the truck because he won’t be able to move his right arm. So much for shifting. My car is an automatic. We’re going to be a one-car couple with wildly different schedules. We have gym memberships, but we don’t go to the same gym. I picked the gym that’s right on the way from school to the post office where I get all my mail. Very convenient. It’s not convenient for Jim which is why he has his membership at a different gym. Jim works at the local university and I get to take up to six credits for free each semester. At least we’ll be going to the same place. I’ve got classes two days a week. Although I’d love to have an 8:00 class, just about no one teaches an 8:00 class. Jim has to be at work at 7:30. My classes are both in the building next to the library so I’ll have something to do for three and a half hours before class. I’ll need to find something to do for two hours after classes and we can go home together. I have a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of hand quilting this semester. There’s only so much studying I can do before my eyes fall out of my head.
I have my online store, Deb Thuman Art. I was considering making laptop totes to sell. Fiber art is easy and relatively inexpensive to ship. I never have to worry about fiber art getting broken. I don’t sell ceramic pieces online because of the chance of breakage and the cost of shipping. I now need to spend quality time making laptop totes. My sewing machine was in the shop for its 60,000 mile checkup and I brought it back home Thursday. I need to pick out fabrics from my 3 miles of fabric collection then start piecing a laptop tote.
I physically cannot do the things I want to do so I will have to learn to slow down. This slowing down is going to take some getting used to.
Wednesday evening, there was weird light outside so I grabbed the camera.
I’m depressed today. There’s a reason for the depression. On Friday, while eating French toast at Denny’s, a crown came off. That’s annoying. I called my dentist’s office wanting to ask for an appointment to glue the crown back on. My dentist is on vacation. The remaining tooth is sharp and has irritated my tongue. I have a hard time talking. I have a hard time swallowing. I’m stuck with a liquid diet. I tried eating a cracker, and had to eat like a chipmunk. Chew the cracker into dust with my front teeth. Then hope I could swallow it. Starbucks chai fappuccino helped. I’ll call my dentist’s office first thing Monday morning and take the earliest appointment I can get. I’ll be fine once the crown is back where it belongs.
Yesterday, I got out the clay, tools, and sat down to do some work. A few weeks back, I bought some fondant tools. Great tools for working with clay. I made little trays, cut out thin pieces with the fondant cutters, and put the cut pieces in the little trays. They need to be cleaned up. I’ve no idea how I’m going to glaze them.
We went to Tucson last week for a few days. On Tuesday, we went hiking in the state park and I played with the camera. I worked on moving around to find the best angle for a shot. I had some success. We came across a few critters and I tried photographing them. I would have liked to get down on the ground and shoot them at their level, but I was afraid they would move. I discovered something interesting. I started to have twinges in my leg as we started hiking. Not wanting to push a walker up a mountain, I decided to keep walking. The pain went away! And it didn’t come back!! Instead, I annoyed the achilles tendon in my left foot. After we got back to the hotel, I put my heel on ice for a bit. Then I soaked my heel in the hot tub. No more pain and it hasn’t come back. I’d like to go back to the park and explore more of the trails. Something to plan for the next trip.
Yesterday, I was the oldest of four children. Last night, I became the youngest of two.
On Monday, I got a notice from 23 & Me that I may have a half brother. I’ve been in emotional shock all of this week. I checked the 23 & Me DNA analysis – we share 23% of our DNA. We also share a father is is/was a selfish jerk. Both my brother and I were born in 1952. My brother is six months older than me. No, our father wasn’t married at the time. Apparently he stuck his dick in every vagina he found. Then he walked out of our lives. If our father is still alive, he’s 88. I did meet him once. I wanted a nice reason for why he abandoned me. He had no reason to give me. Eventually, I realized his reason for walking out is he’s a selfish jerk. My mother had two talents in her life: welfare fraud and attaching herself to horrible men. She eventually married a violent drunk. When I discovered I was adopted and searched for my father, my only fear was I’d find either a republican or a drunk. At least he’s not republican.
I have a brother I didn’t know about. And he’s older than me. That I have a brother is a shock, but not a surprise. It’s likely we have more siblings we don’t know about. Eventually, I’ll work my way through the emotional fallout of discovering a brother.
I have a new MacBook Pro. I bought the one with 512 gig storage, 16 gig memory and a 15” screen. It should last me a few years. I’ve been working on a quilted tote for the laptop. First, I played with squares….and managed to make one that looked like a swastika. Nope. Can’t go around looking like a neo nazi.
I put the three blocks together, and the swastika disappeared.
I like the finished result – mostly. I am not in love with the binding and I had problems with the handles. I wanted to sew the edges together then turn the handles right side out. Except I couldn’t manage to turn the handle. Next try: fold, press, and sew without turning. The handles aren’t too bad but certainly not great sewing.
I like how putting together different versions of a block make wild patterns. I’m considering making a lap quilt using the basic pattern. I have a couple miles of fabric and I need to start using it up.
I needed new oversized tee shirts to sleep in. It’s cheaper for me to buy from Dharma Trading than to make a tee shirt. That leaves me to experiment with color and dyeing technique. I wanted to shoot these experiments outside, but we are having WIND. Spring in the desert features wind gusts of 50 mph. One day, the wind got faster than 100 mph. Indoor shooting has restrictions because I put the experiment on a piece of white board and shoot while standing up. These are hardly great art.
For my Shibori experiments, I tied one tee shirt in knots, used bulldog clips on another tee shirt, and clothespins on a knitted piece. Shibori is traditionally dyed indigo blue. Not my Shibori. I’m a color junkie and need to be surrounded by lots and lots of different colors. Fortunately, color is legal and doesn’t affect my ability to drive.
For hand dyed yarn, I knit a blank from 100% cotton yarn, dye the piece, unravel the piece, then knit something. I’m curious to see what happens when I knit a piece from the Shibori experiment.
I made the mistake of rinsing out the orange piece with the purple piece. It’s going to be interesting to see how this knits up because this isn’t the only purple spot on this piece.
I have mixed feelings about the oversized tee shirts. Manipulations were only on the bottom of the red tee shirt. I like that idea and I’m thinking about how to expand on it. The purple tee shirt was a surprise. I didn’t realize the dye was going to separate and dye the tied parts a light red. I like the effect, but I’m not sure I want to have clothing that resembles tie dye.
There are six more clothing blanks to dye – 1 tee shirt, 2 caftans, 2 blouses. I’ve been thinking about how I want to fold the fabric and what I want to use as a resist. Clothespins are nice, but once the clothespins are dyed, they shouldn’t be used to hang laundry. I’m afraid if I used dyed clothespins to hang wet clothes the dye would bleed into the clothing.
Once I finish dyeing the rest of the blanks, I’ll work on dyeing yardage and I’m thinking of folding the fabric on the diagonal. A Shibori scrub top could be interesting. So could a pair of boxers for Jim made from the leftover fabric. The blanks and the yardage are from Dharma Trading. The quality is good, but the blanks and fabric aren’t pre-shrunk. This time, I’m going to be hanging the tee shirts on the line each time I wash them. Maybe that will keep the shrinkage to a minimum.
I’m not in a chatty mood today and I’m not sure why. I may be just a bit below center – a bit depressed. Earlier, I was doing some online research for the novel and found some sad pieces. Thus, the depression. This isn’t a serious depression and I’ve no suicidal thoughts.
After the last major depressive event wherein I found myself thinking that being dead wouldn’t be so bad, I talked to my doctor about tweaking my meds. She doubled the dosage for both Lamictal and Wellbutrin. That solved the depression problem, but left me stoned out of my mind. I’d be driving and wonder where I was. I went back down on both prescriptions and felt weird feelings in my head. It took a couple days to figure out I was going into withdrawal. I went back up to my previous dosages for both meds. That eliminated the withdrawal symptoms but left me snarling at Jim and the cats. I doubled the dose for Wellbutrin putting me back on the dosage my doctor recommended. I’m not snarling, but my brain isn’t working all that well. Words get lost in my head and I haven’t figured out where they hide. One time, I couldn’t remember “body wash.” I described the word I wanted by saying it’s a liquid and you use it to wash yourself. Today, Jim was driving us home, and I was bewildered. I couldn’t figure out where we were or how we got there. I may have to cut the Wellbutrin back to one and a half pills a day rather than two pills.
I’ve been going to the gym a couple times a week and doing yoga on the non-gym days. It’s helping and I feel like soon I won’t have to worry about a relapse. Which is dangerous because this is the time when I push myself too far and cause a relapse. It’s hard to know what I shouldn’t be doing until I do it and start to hurt.
I’ll be back up to center tomorrow. Or maybe after I start working on my new gym shorts later today. I’m using a cotton/lycra blend with 4-way stretch and I’ve got the fabric cut out. Just need to start sewing the pieces together. The gym shorts are necessary because the management of the gym I go to hired a man to clean the locker rooms. He’s the world’s slowest man and he’s always cleaning the locker room when I get to the gym. My solution was to wear gym clothes to the gym, work out, and go back home to shower. It’s a good solution, but I need pockets to hold my keys while I work out and to carry my iPod to and from the gym. I have two pairs of shorts that are both stretchy and have pockets. I’d like to not have to do laundry each time I go to the gym so I’m making gym shorts.
I’m still working on remembering how to sew. So far, I’ve gotten two pillow covers quilted, and it has been quite an experience. I couldn’t remember how to fix some common free motion quilting mistakes so I spent time on YouTube looking for advice on how to do free motion quilting. I had forgotten about tension and how to correct the tension based on what kind of problem I was having. I needed to lower the tension more than one number. Plus, I needed to work on keeping a steady needle speed and quilt movement speed. Some parts of the two pillow covers I’ve quilted are better than other parts.
For the first pillow cover, I fused the top to the batting. That was a mistake. The Wunder Under life span has been exceeded and the fusing material doesn’t fuse all that well. The top had and still has, puckers. A friend on the Quiltart Facebook page suggested making my own fusible spray from water, flour, and alcohol. I haven’t made this concoction yet, but I like the idea of using simple ingredients and formulating an adhesive that not only doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals, but can be completely washed out after quilting. Instructions to make this adhesive are here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVRrFGFXXfc.
For the second pillow cover, I pinned the layers using long, straight pins. That was an improvement. I haven’t started the third pillow cover.
I don’t recall using more than one color thread for any quilted piece before. Not finding one color thread that worked, I used a different color on each part of each piece. That was feasible for the churn dash and fence rail designs. That’s not an option on the variant of log cabin cover. Never having been much good at free motion quilting, I will use the log cabin variant to work out at least one new to me design.
These pillow covers were never meant to be great art or even mediocre art. They are meant to help me recapture my sewing skills. I won’t try sewing a garment until my sewing skills are recovered.
PhotoScape X is a free photo editing app for Mac, and it has just been upgraded. To celebrate, I took what I thought was a boring photo to play with and see what new things the app will do. Once I started playing, that boring photo got interesting. The original photo is a shot of a lace knitting pattern chart.
One of the members of the Digital Photography School Facebook page wrote about learning to see the entire surrounding area to find the best location for a given shot. I looked up photos of the pyramid at the Lourve and got to see the same photo done about a hundred times. No one, or at least no one who posted a photo, bothered to think about how to shoot the pyramid differently. The main pyramid has an opening at the bottom that can be walked through. I think it would be interesting to take a shot of the inside of the pyramid while flat on the ground and shooting upwards. The Lourve is a huge building loaded with architectural accoutrements. Taking a shot showing the entire building or one “leg” of the building loses all of the accoutrements. I’d like to take shots of individual accoutrements. No one who posted did. Or maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
Neuropathy flare ups, like the one I’m having now, suck. I get to sleep for 2-3 hours before being awakened by pain. Yesterday, the pain only got down to ignorable after having the TENS unit connected for eight hours. I got maybe three hours sleep. I took a gabapentin. Didn’t help. I took CBD oil. Didn’t help. I tried virtual reality. Didn’t help.
Tonight, pain woke me after two and a half hours sleep. I’m trying art this time and hoping writing this will make the pain disappear. Yesterday, I read an article in the New York Times that made me wonder about the correlation between free radicals and nerve damage. I found an article from 2003 online describing such a correlation. Why didn’t any of the eight neurologists I saw mention this correlation? Seven of the neurologists worked in medical schools where research is financed by drug companies. The focus is on handing out prescriptions for useless drugs. The other neurologist had every drug company freebie available adorning the walls of his office. His solution was to try to get me to take Lyrica. If you watch the commercials closely, you will discover that even the manufacturer admits Lyrica doesn’t work.
Nerves regenerate. The regeneration is slow, but it does happen. So why are neurologists so focused on handing out prescriptions and ignoring the questions I asked? Could it be because funding for research is the child of drug companies so treatment is focused on handing out drugs? So often when I saw a neurologist I found myself wondering if I were the only person in the room who had taken cell biology in college. One day, I realized I really was the only one in the room who had taken cell biology in college. Sometimes, modern medicine is scary.
I haven’t finished reading the article on research of the correlation between free radicals and nerve damage. Once I finish the article, I’ll start looking more at foods and supplements that remove many of the free radicals. Three of the foods I’ve found so far are three of my favorite foods: chocolate, strawberries and beets.
Jim started baking. And baking. And baking. He found a sale on the Nordicware site and bought four fancy cake pans. Two will make loaves with fancy tops. One will make mini cakeletts. One will make regular cakelettes. I tried to convince Jim that we need the Kitchen Aid Pro 600 mixer with metal gears and a BIG bowl. Two bakers need two mixers. He didn’t accept that argument. Sigh. Someday.
Today, I went to the gym for the first time in months. I only worked on my upper body because I’m not sure I should be using weights to work on my lower body yet. I want to have a couple more pain-free weeks before I ease into using weights on my lower body. My theory is if I am stronger I won’t be as prone to back and sciatic misery. If I’m wrong, at least I won’t have flappy arms. I’ve also been doing yoga designed to restore back strength and that seems to be working well.
I’ve been seeing curtains of light in my right eye. That can be an indication of a torn or partially detached retina. Twice the retina in my right eye has been glued back down and I’ve been told that if my retina tears or detaches again, I will have to have repair work done in the hospital. I looked up the surgery. A sharp instrument is inserted in the eyeball….. and I need about a quart of valium to hold still for that. After seeing my eye doctor and a specialist, I learned my retina is fine and no one needs to poke me in the eye with a sharp instrument. The curtains of light could be an ocular migraine. Jim has those. They are a nuisance, but they don’t hurt. And so I’ll ignore the curtains.
I did a bit of work on the novel. I need to get the novel finished, and it’s taking a whole lot longer than I thought. I switched from first person to having a narrator. That solves the problem of how my female character knows things.
I have not worked on the quilted pillow tops this week and I’m having small guilt attacks. Next week. I’ll work on them next week.
I read an article in the New York Times about research that’s being done using virtual reality as a means of pain management. The theory is the brain is bombarded by so much stimuli the pain doesn’t register. So I bought a virtual reality headset. It works. I like how realistic and three dimensional the programs are. I started with the aquarium program and watched dolphins, sea turtles, clown fish, and sharks swim by. I detest rollercoasters in real life, but I decided to try a virtual rollercoaster anyway. It’s not a good idea to ride a virtual rollercoaster for a half hour. Actually, it’s a really bad idea. My stomach didn’t like being on a virtual rollercoaster.
I hate Mothers’ Day.
I grew up in a family run by a violent narcissist and a violent drunk. My mother not only hated and resented me, she made sure I knew she hated and resented me. Don’t ask me to honor someone like that.
I have a uterus. I don’t have children. Don’t assume I am a mother.
Tomorrow, I will stay home. I will avoid clerks and wait staff who insist on wishing me a happy mothers’ day.
Too bad there aren’t greeting cards acknowledging women who don’t have children, or worse, lost a child, women who grew up in abusive environments and women who have lost their mothers.
This sciatic problem is getting old. Really old. I’ve just finished Week 9 of a problem that was supposed to be gone after 6 weeks. I am not old enough to be this old. Yesterday, I felt really good and decided I’d go to the gym today. I couldn’t go yesterday because I saw my chiropractor and I can’t work out with weights after getting adjusted. This morning, I had pain. So much for the gym. I did yoga instead. I’d like to have a bolster to use when I do yoga. I’m not about to buy what I can make so I’ve been looking for bolster forms. I guess there aren’t all that many people making bolster pillows because there’s little choice in bolster forms. I’ll keep looking.
My laptop is 5 years old, which is ancient in computer years. For some reason, the E key is starting to stick. Not all the time, just about half the time. I don’t want to buy a new laptop at the moment. And no, my iPad won’t replace the laptop. Whatever else Steve Jobs was, he wasn’t stupid. Make sure none of the parts can replace any other part and people will keep buying Apple products. Reminds me of Bernina where the feet for one machine won’t fit on another Bernina machine. The iPad and iPhone and iPods are all Apple. They almost talk to each other. The photo editing program I have is for Apple. It won’t run on windows. So switching to another brand of laptop isn’t going to help much. Plus, Apple is nearly virus free. Not completely free, but a whole lot better than windows which seems to attract viruses. I keep wanting to upgrade my camera, but the photography fund keeps getting used for something else. The first year, I had a stalker and needed to buy a security system. The second year, my 14-year-old sewing machine crapped out in the middle of a project. I had to buy a new sewing machine. The Canon Rebel T3i is an antique, but it’s still working. So I spend the photography fund on what I need rather than on what I want.
I belong to the Digital Photography School Facebook page. Each week, there’s a photography challenge. This week, the challenge was dogs. No one specified what kind of dog.
I could have sworn I had removed all the lint from the feed dogs. I use a small vacuum cleaner to vacuum up any lint in the machine when I’m done sewing.
Here’s the third quilted pillow cover block. I couldn’t get all of it in one photo. I had wanted to make a different log cabin variant, but I made a mistake when I was cutting fabric into strips. Design is what happens when you put the quilt block together “wrong.” I like how this worked out.
The two photos should give you an idea of what I’ve got sewn together.
Someday, I’ll be able to bake again. I’m still having sciatic nerve problems. I start feeling really good, then I push myself and set myself back. The baking I like to do, cakes, cookies, croissants, requires standing at the counter for longer than I can stand right now. Between now and someday, Jim is doing the baking. Today he made two different kinds of pound cakes. The bunnies and shamrocks are lemon flavored, and the one done in a standard bundt pan is orange and raspberry flavored. Jim makes really good pound cake and his flavor experiments are right tasty. And he likes to bake so I might never get my kitchen back. Too bad neither of us likes to cook meals.
I’ve been working on quilted pillow tops using traditional quilt patterns. I’m still having some cognitive problems and I’m hoping that by using tradition, simple patterns I can get all my sewing skills back. At least now I can remember how to thread the machine and how to lower the feed dogs.
I chose to use a log cabin variant. This was supposed to be a bento box pattern, but I made the first square wrong. Design is what happens when you put the square together wrong. And when you run out of fabric.
I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out and I’m ecstatic that nearly all the seams lined up right. I did something a bit different with this photo. I calibrated the camera using a medium gray card for my custom white balance. The colors in this one are pretty accurate.
Because the last time I tried a quilted project and had problems with cutting the batting out too small, I decided I’d lay out the quilt blocks on the batting, put painter’s tape around each block, and I’ll cut between the tapes. This should give me a extra 1” around each block. A few years back, JoAnn’s had a sale on batting sold by the yard. It was half price so I bought 10 yards. It’s a bugger to roll out and get the batting to lie flat. I have been doing this on the floor. I had to lock Tinker in the office so he wouldn’t “help” me. I let him out when I took the photo.
We’ve got ceramic tile through most of the house, and I was crawling around on my hands and knees. I didn’t feel anything indicating I was causing myself a problem while I was crawling around. The problem became apparent when I stood up. Lower back pain and I had to use my walker most of the time. I have a yoga video with a special section for poses while my back heals. I did the poses and felt better immediately.
I made a hard decision to forgo the last two weeks of classes and final exams. I tried twice to come back to class. I’d be in class on Monday, find myself in pain, and take the rest of the week off. This happened two weeks in a row. I’ve missed so many weeks that I can’t catch up in time to take the final exams. I sent both of my teachers emails explaining what I was doing and why. I hate missing classes, but at least I’m not working towards another degree.
I managed to get both classes I wanted for the fall semester – immunology and cell biology. There was an article in today’s paper about a professor at New Mexico State University getting a $1.48 million grant to pursue work on figuring out why some women with breast cancer are not helped by Tamoxin and why Tamoxin will work for others for a limited time and then become ineffective. The article explained that there’s a hormone that triggers the synthesis of a g-coupled protein that binds with estrogen. I actually understood that. As many problems as I had when I took neurobiology, I managed to stick enough in my head so I could have these Ah Ha! moments. I’d love to work on another degree in biology. I’d love to be a research assistant. But…I don’t want to teach and I don’t want student loans. I’d apply for a position as a research assistant, but I think those jobs should go to students who are working towards a degree.
The sciatic pain was supposed to last only 6 weeks. I’m on week 7. Once again, I tried going to classes. I lasted one day and I had more bones shifted out of place than the previous week. There are only 2 weeks left in the semester and I’ve missed 4 weeks. There’s no point in taking the final exam. I’m not going for another degree so the grade doesn’t matter and I am done for the semester. I loved my plant physiology class and we had gotten to the part I consider fascinating when the sciatic pain started. I wanted to take another class from this teacher, but he’s teaching weed science next semester. I just can’t manage to get excited about weed science.
Although I’m not happy about this, I am using my walker more often. I got a walker with a seat and a basket. I can sit when I need/want to and I can use the seat to transport something from one place to another. And the wheels are bigger than the ones on my original walker. Bigger wheels mean fewer death traps when I’m outside.
Following the cognitive deficits last fall when I was in withdrawal from Cymbalta, I lost my sewing skills. The first time I sewed, I couldn’t remember how to thread the machine, attach the free motion quilt foot, and where the button to lower the feed dogs was located. Fortunately, the manual was close by. I’m trying to find my sewing skills again. To achieve that, I’m working on quilted pillow covers. I started with a fence rail pattern. Next, I graduated to a churn dash pattern. That pattern is one of my favorite traditional quilt blocks. The photos suck, but you can get an idea of what the pieced part looks like. I need to cut batting and backing for the blocks, quilt it, and proceed to turn it into a pillow cover. For the fence rail block, the first two fabrics I picked up went well together. For the churn dash pattern, I had to do a whole lot of looking through my fabric stash. I have no idea what the next block will be. I think once I’ve made quilt blocks, my sewing skills will return.
My cutting mat was 25 years old, littered with cut marks, and just not working right any more. Armed with a 60% off coupon, we went to Joann’s and bought me a new, self healing mat. The rotary cutters are behaving more like they should behave. I needed to have Jim with me because I can’t wrestle with a cutting mat while pushing a walkr.
I’ve been working on the novel. I vacillate between liking what I wrote and hating every word. I suspect that’s common among novelists. Having the semester end two weeks early gives me more time to work on the novel, the pillow covers, and eventually clay. It’s really nice out, but it doesn’t warm up enough to work with wet clay until the afternoon. Plus, this time of the year we get WIND. A couple weeks ago, we had 50 mph wind and the San Agustin pass featured wind clocked at 105 mph. Wet hands, cold clay, not quite warm enough and WIND is not my idea of a great combination. That’s the joy of being a multi media artist. When one art toy isn’t working, I can go to another art toy.
I’m linking with Nina Marie. Stop by and see what other artists are doing. http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com
Looking for one of a kind art? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art. www.debthumanart. com.
I think I might be seeing a glimmer of light hinting the end of the tunnel is closer than I thought. A couple weeks ago, I tried to sew a quilted tote bag and made about every mistake that could be made. I forgot how to thread my machine. I forgot how to attach the free-motion quilting foot. I finally remembered I had to lower the feed dogs, and then couldn’t remember where the button that raises and lowers the feed dogs is located.
One of my quilting friends commented that sewing is like riding a bicycle and my sewing skills will return. With that in mind, I decided to make something simple. I checked JoAnn’s on line to see what size pillow forms they carried. I chose to make a pillow cover to cover a 24” x 24” pillow. I love the fence rail quilt pattern. It’s simple, has no tricky seams, and I like the way it looks. I pulled two pieces of fabric out of my stash, and they worked perfectly together. Usually, I have to spend a few hours trying to figure out what fabrics I want to use. I’ve sewn the blocks together. I need to cut batting and backing, quilt it, attach two pieces of fabric to form backing, and it will be done. Then I have to buy a pillow form.
The colors aren’t accurate. The green is more intense in real life.
I also like the churn dash pattern and I’m thinking I’ll use that for a pillow cover when I finish this one.
My chiropractor explained that something I can do today isn’t necessarily something I can do tomorrow. I took the last week off from school. When I went to classes the Monday before, I had pain towards the end of the day. On Wednesday, the pain was worse. On Thursday, I came to my senses and decided I needed to heal for another week. Thank God the grades in my classes don’t matter. I’m not going towards another degree; I’m taking classes that interest me. In part it’s for the joy of learning, in part it’s to keep my brain working. Jim works at the university and I can take up to 6 credits a semester for free. Free fits into my budget and being retired, I have the entire week free to fill with school. I’ll go to classes on Monday and see how I feel. It’s tough to find the spot between doing nothing and doing too much. I know if I do nothing, I won’t heal.
If I have to use a walker for another month or so, I need a more practical walker. I now have a 4-wheel drive Rollator with a seat and a basket. It’s going to be easier for me to get around school with four wheels rather than two. The wheels are bigger than the ones on the first walker. That should help me avoid many of the death traps plaguing sidewalks and parking lots.
I’m now at the critically dangerous stage of healing. I’m tired of using a walker. I want to be independent. I want to be able to do the things I could do a couple months ago. And so I push myself and relapse. I’ll be back at school next week, and I’m planning on going to the gym. I’ll push my walker through the gym and I’ll only work on upper body. If I’m feeling particularly brave (or being particularly stupid), I’ll lower the weights and work on my legs.
I bought a bunny cake pan. The pan makes 6 little bunny cakes. Three poses, and two bunnies for each pose. But I can’t stand long enough to bake. So Jim made the little cakes using King Arthur Flour vanilla pound cake recipe. If you’re making little cakes, they will bake in less time than a big cake. This makes sense, but my psych meds are still messing with my cognitive ability. And so the bunnies were a tad over done on the edges. But they tasted good and they are cute.
I have entered The Dangerous Time in my recovery from an angry sciatic nerve. I feel good. The pain is nearly non-existent. I think I can do things. Like walk through the grocery store. That walk is what started the relapse. I had some pain on Monday as I pushed my walker from one class to the next. I had more pain on Wednesday as I pushed my walker from one class to the next. I won’t be doing any more pushing for a while because I’m taking another week off from school. I don’t like doing that, but I really, really, really don’t like the idea of having to push this walker around for a few more months. This was week 5. According to the articles I’ve seen, sciatica is supposed to clear up in 6 weeks. That’s not going to happen . Yes, I have had this conversation with my sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve isn’t paying attention to me.
I broke down and ordered a new walker. Buying a walker is not the best time to be economy minded. My current walker has 6” wheels on the front legs and end caps on the back legs. It’s not designed for use on pavement. What I ordered has four 7.5” wheels, hand brakes, a seat and a nifty basket under the seat. I’m thinking that the larger wheels will help avoid the death traps on the sidewalks and pavement. The smaller wheels on my current walker would get stuck in the sidewalk joins and in low spots on irregular pavement. The campus is rife with death traps. The seat will allow me to move baking ingredients from the pantry to the counter. I doubt I’ll ever sit on the seat, but I wanted a seat so I could put stuff on it rather than try to push a walker while holding something in my hand. I suspect I’ll need to use the walker for at least another month.
I discovered a leftover from the cognitive deficits that were part of the withdrawal from Cymbalta. I tried sewing, and couldn’t remember basic things. Like how to thread my machine. How to attach the free motion quilting foot. I forgot I needed to lower the feed dogs when I quilted. I forgot where the button is to lower the feed dogs. As a result, I made a quilted tote bag filled with technical errors. I always cut the batting and backing larger than what will be the top side of the quilt. Not this time. I cut the batting too short and too narrow. I had to diddle around joining additional pieces of batting to what I had cut out. The backing was also too narrow. I had to sew a strip onto the backing. I wanted to do a pillowcase type quilt. Sew all three layers together leaving a hole on one end, pull the inside of the bag out through the hole, and sew the hole closed. Ta da! No binding needed. I sewed the seam too narrow in spots and the backing didn’t get caught in the stitching. I did a row of top stitching around the quilt to fix that problem. Except it didn’t fix it. Deciding I wasn’t about to go crazy making this quilted tote bag, I left the gaps. I folded the quilt in half, sewed up the sides and proclaimed it finished. No, there will not be photos. I really don’t want something this filled with errors on the internet. Yes, I will use the tote bag. It’s a tote bag – not an art piece.
I get to find out in the coming week if my sewing brain has returned. When we were on vacation last August, I bought patterns for quilted purses and a quilted wallet. Last week, I bought a pattern for a quilted messenger bag. I was having a minor manic episode and that’s about the extent of my shopping spree. That and the bunny cake pan which makes six little bunny cakes. It is beyond cute. Manic episodes are supposed to be when those with bipolar disorder spend vast sums of money. I’m always careful when I’m manic and my spending sprees are limited to about $100.00. The other part of my manic episodes is culinary. I bake. I cook. I make home made pasta. The bunny cake pan hasn’t arrived yet and I’m looking forward to making little pound cake bunnies when the pan arrives. Yes, there will be bunny cake photos.
I decided to make the quilted wallet first and the messenger bag after that. The wallet has a long strap on it so it can be used as a mini purse. This is a great idea. When I’m at school, I put my wallet, credit card case, and assorted purse stuff in the backpack. If I want to go someplace after school, I need to move purse stuff from the backpack to my purse. I’m thinking that a wallet with a strap could double for a purse when I want to go somewhere after class.
I’ve had a lack of ambition lately, and I think maybe making art will pop me out of the blahs. It’s worth a try.
I’m finally able to stand long enough to block and photograph scarves. Being confined to the couch is conducive to knitting. I’m now playing with cotton yarn that I hand dyed. First, I knit some of the yarn. Then I dye the yarn. Then I unravel the yarn and get a mottled effect. I think there’s more life in yarn that isn’t a solid dye.
I’m now able to walk short distances without the walker although I’m still leery of trying any significant walking. I’ll be taking the walker with me when I go to school next week. I discovered I’m doing way more walking on campus than I thought.
I bought a yoga video that’s supposed to have poses that are good for your back. I suppose they are. I overdid it, and strained something. No lower back pain today, but the leg feels weaker. Sigh. I’ll be glad when this is over.
I finally got to do some baking yesterday. There were seriously over ripe bananas on the counter and the pastry chef textbook says the secret to great banana baking is to use very over ripe bananas. The muffins came out really good. The recipe is here:http://www.firsthomelovelife.com/recipe/maple-banana-muffinsif you want to give the muffins a try. We loved them.
The iris is blooming! Here in the desert, iris blooms last only a few days. These photos are straight out of the camera. Today is the first time I’ve been able to do photography since the sciatica started.
This closeup is me playing around. I wanted to see if I could get a good shot of the innards of the flower. It’s sort of successful.