Posted in Baking, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Photography, Quilts, Sciatica

Baking, Quilting, and Hard Decisions

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. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.comstop by and see what other artists are doing. 

If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind gifts, please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art at www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Getting Better Bit by Bit

To all who celebrate, Happy Easter.

To my Jewish friends Happy Passover.

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. 

Fence Rail Pattern
Churn Dash

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.

Posted in Baking, Fiber, Photography, Quilts, Sciatica

Dangerous Time

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. 

The bunnies…

And the pan…

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com. Stop by and see what other artists are creating.

If you’re looking for one of a kind art, please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com.

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Sciatica

A Dangerous Time

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.

Hand dyed cotton scarf.
Playing with cables
Working on designing lace patterns.
Closeup of lace pattern

I’m linking with Nina Marie ,http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

If you are looking for one of a kind art pieces, please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art,www.debthumanart.com