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

An Interesting Brain Is Not A Boring Brain

Life is never dull when you’re bipolar. Sometimes, my moods are a reflection of what’s going on in my life, only instead of moods, I have MOODS. Sometimes, my moods have nothing to do with my life. A couple days ago, I was the most depressed I’d been in a long time. Not suicidal, but severely depressed. Jim asked if I had a pill for depression. Who, me? I got all sorts of psych meds. I took one of my emergency psych meds. Twenty minutes later, I was back at center and I’ve stayed there. Sometimes, I feel like a hockey puck after a slap shot. Sometimes, I wish I weren’t bipolar. Most of the time, I try to make something good of it. Like telling people what a bipolar brain feels like. The more we talk about mental illness, the less mental illness will be stigmatized.

Jim and I got senior passes that allow us to get into National Parks, National Monuments, and Bureau of Land Management areas for free. The pass is available to any US citizen or legal permanent resident 62 or older. Now, it costs $10. On August 28, the price will rise to $80. The passes are good for life.

I took my camera and went to Dripping Springs – a BLM area in the Organ Mountains. Having a senior pass, I didn’t have to pay the $5 entry fee. I wanted to get to both the abandoned, falling down building and to the spring at the end of the trail. I didn’t make it. I got about 1/3 of the way there and turned around. I seem to be out of shape, and there’s only one solution – go hiking more often. Jim and I have plans to hike Baylor Canyon and Dripping Springs next week.

Dripping Springs 1 7-23-17

I haven’t been able to figure out why I like this photo. When I took it, I was concentrating on the line of trees leading to the top of the hill. It looked as if the trees were marching to the top.

Ever the suppressed botanist, I found something blooming that I could shoot. Dripping Springs 4 7-23-17

I’ve no idea what plant this is.

Dripping Springs 8 7-23-17

Photographing fog on the mountain isn’t easy. This is the best out of a number of fog/mist shots I took. I really should have used the telephoto lens for these shots, but I didn’t bring it with me. Switching lenses outdoors in the desert is a great way to destroy the camera’s sensor and I have only one camera body.

I’ve been working on experimental ceramic pieces. Here’s a bird bath that’s low to the ground. We have quail, ground squirrels and rabbits who can’t reach a traditional bird bath. I used a styrofoam wreath base as a slump mold and made a hollow base.

Bird bath 1 7-28-17Bird bath 2 7-28-17

The design needs a bit of work, but the critters aren’t critical. Or picky.

I’ve also been working on lanterns. I considered the size of the pillar candles sold by Pier 1 and added an inch. I haven’t tested the lanterns yet. For the first efforts, I used a hole cutter to poke holes into the lantern. Then I bough a set of tiny cookie cutters and cut animals out of the second lantern. Yes, that lantern is an ugly color. Jim took all the glazes that had only a little bit left and combined them. I cut out little animals and put them in the bottom of soap dishes. This dish will go in our bathroom. Look carefully and you’ll see a crack in the side.

Lantern 1 7-28-17Lantern 2 7-28-17

Soap Dish 1 7-28-17Soap dish 2 7-28-17

A friend sent me 20 pounds of buttons and I’m in the process of turning some of them into earrings. I haven’t finished them because my sewing room is a disaster. We have a stucco house, and when the stucco paint fails, it rains inside the house around the windows. We’ve got 4 windows where water was leaking in. Two of the windows are in the sewing room. Things got moved in a hurry so that sewing machines and the serger wouldn’t get damaged by the water. Storage boxes got moved. I want to make sure that the paint Jim put around the windows solves the problem before I move everything back.

Earrings 3 7-28-17Earrings 2 7-28-17Earrings 1 7-28-17

Sunrise, sunset.

Sunrise 2 7-22-17Sunset 7-25-16

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

Photos and jewelry are for sale in Deb Thuman Art here.

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.