I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 16 health destroying years.
Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at: www.debthumanart.com.
It snowed on Tuesday night, and we had a snow day on Wednesday. Almost a snow day. The university was on a 2-hour delay. We don’t have plows here, and the snow is usually gone by 10:00 AM. My class is from 9:30 to 10:20. No point going in for 20 minutes. The teacher must have agreed with me because she cancelled class. So, we went to Aguirre Springs to do some snow shooting. Aguirre Springs is a multi-use area run by the Bureau of Land Management. And it was closed on Wednesday.
I learned that fog plays havoc with auto focus. Fortunately, I frequently prefer to use manual focus. I tried photographing the strange light, but I wasn’t successful. I got some interesting shots, but all the editing I could think of didn’t make the photo look like what I saw.
I learned how to make collages and combine photos in PhotoScape X. It’s a free app for use on a Mac. The resulting photos make intriguing fabric designs.
For Valentine’s Day 1980, Jim gave me my first SLR – a Canon AT1, the last fully manual camera Canon made. Today, he gave me my second DSLR. I have a Canon T3i that came out in 2011. My Canon 90D, which just came out, will arrive in 2-3 days. The 90D has some features I’m going to love. In camera focus stacking so I can get every bead of every piece of jewelry absolutely in focus. There are 40+ focus points. I like to use manual focus and when a focus point lights up, I know what part of the frame is in focus. It’s handy for macro photography. I bought extra batteries, because one can never have too many batteries. I do a whole lot of outdoor photography and if I don’t have spare batteries, I can only shoot until my battery is dead. I bought an extra memory card because it’s impossible to have too many memory cards. I shoot in RAW and those files are huge.
I waited too long to photograph fabric outside. We’re having WIND. I was stuck with either not photographing my latest fun stuff, or taking crappy photos. Herewith are some crappy photos.
As many of you know, I have a Spoonflower shop. If you click on a fabric design, then click on “All Products,” you can see how the fabric looks as table linens, bedding, curtains and wallpaper. I am having so much fun playing around, manipulating photos and creating fabric designs. Before I can sell my designs, I have to order proofs of the designs. These are the proofs I’ve gotten back.
I’m taking a yoga class this semester and I needed yoga pants. I altered a yoga pants pattern, got out the binders, dye and bucket, and made yoga pants. I put patch pockets on the pants, but I’m not thrilled about where I put them. Next time, I want to try welt pockets.
In case you’ve ever wondered, it’s not a good idea to try to do photography and bake simultaneously. The timer kept going off.
Sourdough cherry coffeecake with crumb topping.
I don’t run from my triggers because I don’t want painful memories to own me. I have been binging on ER. The other night, I watched a couple episodes that dealt with the suicide of one of the doctors. Having been suicidal and knowing someone who committed suicide, I respond to such stories on an emotional level. I had to spend quality time writing after watching the episodes. My first emotional art was ceramic. I didn’t understand what I was feeling until my feelings came out of my hands and into clay. I’m now having the same understanding by letting my feelings come out through my fingers and into my laptop. I was a writer long before my art meandered into clay, fiber and beads. Oddly, it has only been the last year that I’ve created emotional writing.
Jim and I went up to Aguirre Springs on Friday. I wanted to work with my macro lens, so that’s what I put on the camera. I wanted to experiment by using only one lens. My macro lens is a 90mm prime lens. It’s the only prime lens I own and I’m having a hard time adjusting to just one focal length. My other lenses are all zoom lens.
I was surprised at how detailed the lichen shots were. I didn’t bring a hand lens with me, so I couldn’t see all the details on the tiny lichens until I downloaded the photos.
I also got some shots of dead fronds that make for interesting fabric designs.
I’ve been playing with the photos to make fabric designs.
I wanted to do some portrait work while we were out hiking. I broke all the rules with this one, but I like how it turned out. Portraits are supposed to be done in portrait orientation, the person is supposed to be centered, and on and on and on.
I’m still having grief fallout. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the funeral for the person I knew who killed himself. I watched Law & Order SVU last night. The story line was about police committing suicide. The show was well done and realistic. And it sent me into a grief spiral. I never knew suicide was so hard on those left behind.
The pain is gone. The hurt is gone. The struggle is gone. All gone. All quiet. All without feelings, fear, or loneliness. Gone. But not missed.
“Why would she do something like this?”
I did this because I didn’t want to live in pain any more.
“Too bad she couldn’t find a way to exorcise her demons.”
I didn’t have psychic demons. I had physical pain. I had days when death would be a relief.
“I never thought she would kill herself. She seemed so happy.”
I don’t understand why everyone is surprised. All of you knew I was in pain. All of you knew the pain was permanent.
“I thought she believed in God.”
I did and I do. That didn’t make my body or my perception of who I was hurt less.
“Why didn’t she reach out?”
Would you have done anything if I had? It was so rational deciding how to kill myself. Pills aren’t a good approach. Too easy for the body to decide to puke up the poison. Hanging. Nope, I don’t want to hang around dangling and waiting to die. Drowning like Virginia Woolf. No. My sadistic, hateful, drunken stepfather frequently threatened to hold my head underwater until the bubbles stopped coming up. I didn’t want to kill myself in the house. Too messy and the house can’t be sold until all the blood and tissue are cleaned up. I wonder who does that kind of cleaning. I didn’t want to kill myself outside. What if I wasn’t found within a few days? I didn’t want animals to eat me. Silly, isn’t it. Worrying about animals eating the body that doesn’t contain me any more.
“How did she die?”
I killed myself during my appointment with a neurologist. I kept asking neurologists questions, and they kept refusing to answer me. Instead, they smiled, told me to take designer drugs that did not work, and hurried out of the room.
“Women don’t shoot themselves.”
Except when they do. I held the pistol an inch to the left of my sternum and shot myself in the heart. I wanted to be dead when I killed myself. No having doctors trying to put Humptyette Dumpty back together again. No being on life support. If I’m going to kill myself, I want to be dead when I’m done.
“If only I had known; I could have saved her.”
No, you couldn’t. Only God or I could have saved me and neither of us wanted to do that.
“Did anyone know she was depressed?”
What a stupid question. Of course I hid my depression. I didn’t want to be taken to a hospital where I’d be heavily medicated for as long as my HMO would pay. Maybe three days. Then I’d be dumped out and sent home to await a bill for the co-pay. I’d still be in pain. I’d still want to die.
“I wonder what she thought just before she died.”
I stood on the edge of life and looked down into death. Death looked inviting.
“I wonder if it hurts to shoot yourself.”
Not really. I felt something hot, then nothing.
“I wonder if you’re still in pain after you kill yourself.”
No. The pain is gone. It’s peaceful here; the kind of comforting peace that reaches my soul. Being dead isn’t bad. Had I known I’d be at peace, I’d have killed myself long ago.
“Nice photo montage of her life.”
Who picked out these photos? Me dressed up for the Renaissance Faire. Me as a little kid. My first Christmas and I was four months old. Everyone in that photo looks like they are at a funeral. I guess that’s an appropriate photo for my funeral.
There’s only one, unimaginative arrangement of red roses. Just red roses. I prefer white roses. It’s a big arrangement so I suppose it was expensive. There should be more flowers.
“The Lord is my shepherd….”
Christ. Why do people recite that psalm at funerals? The psalm isn’t about death, it’s about life and faith in God.
“What I remember most about…..”
Wait, what? You never talked with me. You never spent any time with me. You never knew me so what’s to remember?
“She had such passion for her work.”
While I was alive, you told people I was too emotional and that I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Bet you thought no one would tell me about your hypocrisy.
“So many people loved her.”
Where was your love for me when I was alive? You never asked how I was doing. You never wanted to have lunch with me. You never talked to me unless you wanted something from me.
“She gave so much of herself.”
I gave and gave and gave until the empathy well was dry and the compassion well only slightly moist. No one gave back.
“It’s so hard to say goodby to her.”
You never said hello to me while I was alive. Why bother saying goodby when I’m dead?
“God full of mercy who dwells above, give rest on the wings of the divine presence in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure who shine as the resplendence of the firmament of the soul…”
I love that prayer. Soul. The never beginning and never ending part of me.
“May the all-merciful one shelter her with the cover of his wings forever and bind her soul in the bond of life. The Lord is her heritage; may she rest in her resting place in peace and let us say amen.”
I was hoping that’s what happens when you are dead – being sheltered by God’s wing. I’m here alone, although I don’t feel lonely. I do feel protected. None of you can ever hurt me again.
“Yitgadal v yitkadash..”
How odd to hear people recite Kaddish. I feel like I should have my kippah and tallit. Except I have no head or shoulders.
The Middle – because I can’t bear it to be the end of you. Because I keep writing to you even though you aren’t there. Because you left behind a hole filled with my grief.
You shot yourself. I don’t understand. You have family who love you.You have friends. You have work you love.
And you shot yourself.
I don’t get it. I’m the one who is supposed to be dead. I’m the one who has been suicidal six times. So often there was pain, and not even a marginal form of happiness existed for me. Except I’m alive. And you’re dead. How did that happen?
I used to believe that God alone was in charge of death or birth. I don’t know if I can believe that any more. How could God let you kill yourself?
This isn’t real. There’s some mistake. You’re really alive and just hiding from all of us. If you’re dead, there’s nothing left of you. Did I miss a clue about your unhappiness? I’m sorry. Come back. Please. I promise I’ll do better. Please come back.
I think about you being all alone and in pain, pain you never let anyone see; and I’m sad. I ask why you killed yourself, but you don’t answer me.I think about you being cremated and all of you being nothing but ashes. As if you had never been alive.
Did you think you couldn’t talk about the pain? Did you think you were weak or had a character defect? Is that why you said nothing? Were you embarrassed by your vulnerability? Did you think I couldn’t understand? Or did you know I would understand but you wanted to die so you said nothing?
One time, you told me about all the people you had to take care of, but who took care of you? You needed someone to take care of you. Except I never said that to you. Is that why you killed yourself? Because I never told you how much I cared? I would have taken care of you if you had let me. I would have taken care of you and you wouldn’t be dead.
I wonder what you thought before you pulled the trigger. I imagine you looked at your gun, said “Fuck it,” and squeezed the trigger.
I don’t want you to leave. You’ve already left. I want to help you. You’re not here to be helped. I want to tell you that I cared, that you were important to me. Except I didn’t. Now, you’re dead.
I want you to live in my imagination. Because you’ve lived in my imagination ever since I met you. That’s not you; that’s you who I would like you to be. Did I do something wrong? Did I not listen well enough when morsels of pain dropped into your words? We lived in different worlds. I never entered your world, and never invited you to enter my world. I’m sorry. I wish we had explored each other.
I’m sorry. Please come back. I promise to do better this time. I promise to revel in real you rather than imaginary you. I promise to love real you rather than love imaginary you. I’ll listen to you. I’ll rejoice in the differences between you and me. I’ll compromise. I’ll walk in your world sometimes. Even if it terrifies me. You’re worth my effort. I’m sorry I never told you that.
Still the middle because I still can’t bear it to be the end of you. I didn’t know I’d mourn you a year later on your Yahrzeit. I didn’t know I’d still hurt a year later. I didn’t know how much suicide hurts. Please come back. I promise to do better. I try and try to understand why you killed yourself. I have no understanding. I want the world to make sense, but the world isn’t cooperating. I want to love you, but you’re gone. I still ask why you killed yourself, but you still don’t answer me. You’re gone. Just ashes. There’s nothing left of you. I light a candle. I say Kaddish. I still hurt. I still mourn.
A year ago on this date, someone I knew and cared for committed suicide by shooting himself. Above, is the quilt I made to help heal my grief. It’s called Beneath The Wings Of The Devine. I quilted an eagle wing on top of the arc of his life.
I’ve written a short story about his death, which is what is at the beginning of this post. I’ve written healing passages that won’t ever be shared because they are too personal.
According to the National Institute of Health, 26% of the population of the US has a diagnosed mental illness. That doesn’t count the people who have a mental illness but haven’t been diagnosed. It took 35 years for me to have an accurate diagnosis. I am bipolar. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t bipolar.
I have a fascination with the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. This grand, old building is a monument to a time when mental illness was properly treated and a monument to the hell that mental institutions had become by the 1960’s.
The original building had a main building in the center and a wing with five sections on each side. One side was for women, the other side for men. The sections farthest from the main building were the smallest sections and were for the most violent patients. The theory was that mental illness could be cured by treating mentally ill people humanely. Work was considered a part of treatment. Men worked the gardens and in the wood shop. Women worked at fiber art. The hallways were wide with high ceilings and huge windows. Benches were placed in the hallways because it was thought, correctly, that isolation was harmful and that interaction with the other patients would be healthy. There was a library. There were lovely grounds with both flower and vegetable gardens. Sunlight was considered healthy and the huge windows let in as much sunlight as possible. Patients would gradually, as they became healthier, work their way towards the main building. The idea was to heal patients and then release them.
By the 1960s, the Psych Center had become the hell we think of when we think of mental institutions. Overcrowded to the point where patients were tied to beds in the hallways. Patients were over medicated and treated like something awful to be hidden away. When I lived a couple blocks from the Psych Center in the 1970’s, we had to go into the Psych Center to vote. Someone’s idea of a weird joke. God forgive me, I was reluctant and scared to enter the Psych Center. I had been taught, as had everyone else, that mental illness was evil, scary, and mentally ill people had to be locked away. I was taught that mental illness was a character flaw. My grandmother insisted that people could snap themselves out of depression and that seeing a psychiatrist was shameful and to be avoided no matter how ill a person was. She was horrified when I sought mental health treatment. She had been dead for 17 years by the time I was finally, accurately diagnosed. Probably a good thing. My diagnosis would have killed her if she had known I was mentally ill.
I think about how, if I had parents who actually cared, I would have been a patient in the Psych Center. Then I think about how, if I had parents who actually cared, I wouldn’t need mental health treatment.
In August 2018, I photographed the Psych Center. Attitudes, beliefs, and empathy flooded my thoughts. Part of the men’s wing had been demolished in the 1960s to make room for a “modern” hospital. It’s an ugly, square, lifeless brick building. There’s a high chain link fence surrounding the basketball court adjacent to the ugly building. A man, just one man, was on the court taking shots at the basket. I didn’t photograph him. He was entitled to privacy and to be treated like a human being rather than a freak in a zoo.
Lately, I’ve been going through my photographs and picking out shots to be manipulated and turned into fabric designs. I played with some of the Psych Center shots this morning.
Meandering Through Madness. The title reflects my personal journey through the mental health care system and my own mental illness.
I won’t be selling this design. It’s too personal. It’s too much of a gut punch. It’s too much my life. Eventually, I’ll have it printed on fabric and turn it into a quilted wall hanging which likely will never be hung. My emotional art isn’t pretty. It’s raw. It’s painful. It’s something no one in their right mind wants to look at. It’s also something that I have to make and something people should look at. Something people should feel. Something people should talk about.
You want pretty? Go to Walmart and buy a bad reproduction of an insipid painting that nicely matches the sofa.
You want art? Be prepared to be kicked in the stomach. That’s what art is supposed to do at least some of the time.
Some miracle happened, and I can now list my designs for sale at https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/deb_thuman Prior to listing designs for sale, Spoonflower requires designers to have proofs made so any color tweaking that may be necessary can be done.
Here are some of the proofs.
You can also see the designs for which I haven’t yet had proofs made so they aren’t for sale. Eventually, they will be for sale. If you see something you like that isn’t yet for sale, let me know and I’ll have a proof made right away. It takes about a week for me to get proofs back and then a couple hours to list the fabrics that are for sale.
Every few weeks, I’ll be listing more of my designs for sale. I’ve been having so much fun playing with photos, making abstract designs and figuring out how best to translate the abstract photo to fabric. The designs for sale can be ordered in an assortment of fabric ranging from cotton to silk and even upholstery fabric. My designs can also be ordered in wallpaper. https://www.spoonflower.com/en/products/9578592?product=wallpaper On that page, you can see how the design looks as fabric, as wallpaper and as kitchen décor, as living room décor and as bedding.
In other creative news…… I was thinking last night about where my art has led me. I started out writing short stories when I was still in high school. I knew I was a good writer when a teacher handed back stories we had written, handed me my story and said, “Wow!” This was also the time I learned a lawyer was in me. The assistant principal thought I had drugs in my purse and asked to search my purse. I didn’t have drugs, but without thinking I looked him in eye and asked if he had a warrant. Fifteen years old, and I sounded like William Kunsler. It would be 23 more years before I would go to law school.
I wrote a lot when I was in college. One teacher told me she always put my work on the bottom of the pile because she knew I was a good writer and she had my work to look forward to as she read the other students’ work. Then I became a reporter and later an attorney. I went from fiction to fact to weird, stilted legal writing. I was good at all of it. One day while sitting in a mandatory, boring seminar, I began writing a novel. The novel isn’t finished yet and I’m amazed at the changes the novel has gone through. In a weird way, writing a novel is like getting to know the characters that exist only in my imagination. I started writing short stories again. Little things at first. The last two short stories are serious and I’m working out my feelings about suicide through these stories.
During the return to creative writing journey, I learned to work with clay, and to work out my feelings in ceramic sculpture. I learned more about working with fiber, learned about art quilts, and played in my sketchbook working out abstract designs. I learned I loved working with beads and began making jewelry. Now, I’m designing fabric. It’s been a wild art journey since I got my first thesaurus when I was 14.
This wasn’t supposed to be complicated. I ordered proofs of 30 fabric designs I had made from Spoonflower. I got the proofs back this week. I attempted to list a design for sale, and couldn’t. I verified my address. I followed the steps to verify my email address. I tried to fill out the W-9 form. After much frustration and swearing, I accidently managed to get the vile form signed electronically. Hint: you can’t sign the thing using an iPad and iPencil. Thinking I had everything worked out, I tried to list a design for sale. I can’t because I’m in an infinite loop. As soon as I try to list a design, I’m told I have to follow the verification process. When I try to follow the verification process, I’m told my address and email have been verified. The problem is the W-9 form for which there’s no way to submit. Why can’t I just have a form to print out, fill out, sign, scan and upload? Why do I have to be stuck in an infinite loop? Yes, I have sent an email to Spoonflower. No, I haven’t gotten an answer yet.
I’m having a bad bipolar day. I’m snarling at Jim. I get impatient over nothing. And this episode is coupled with introversion. Every personality test I’ve ever taken shows I’m both introverted and extroverted. This makes sense. The extrovert comes out when I’m manic and the introvert comes out when I’m depressed. No, there is no specific reason for being depressed. If you know someone who is bipolar, if you love someone who is bipolar, if you live with someone who is bipolar, spend time learning about bipolar disorder. It’ not easy having a brain that has a mind of its own.
I have ordered beads from Lima Beads. Lima is the only online store with semi-precious gems I trust. What I see is what I get. With Firemountain, the semi-precious gems are C and D quality. In my opinion, they aren’t worth buying. I’ve been buying pearls from Lima and I’m amazed at the quality. First rate at extremely reasonable prices! I had run out of amethyst beads, was running low on sodalite beads, and wanted to have some goldstone beads. I also splurged on pearls of assorted colors and sizes.
Larimer used to be affordable. Gem prices float just as gold and silver floats. At the moment, Larimer is expensive and I was surprised to find these so reasonably priced. So far, Larimer has only been found in the Dominican Republic.
Feldspath is something I bought a while back. I liked it more than I thought so I bought larger beads this time.
Goldstone. I have magpie tendencies and I love things that sparkle. Maybe because they reflect the extroverted manic part of me.
When I was picking out beads, I concentrated on size, color and price. I didn’t think about the name when I ordered peace jade. Now, I think about having beads that are both pretty and a political statement.
When I was a kid, I had nightmares about the hydrogen bomb and skeletons burning. The nightmares are back. This time, the nightmares aren’t about gut terrors of an unthinkable event as when I was a kid. Then, we had a Cold War and the certain comforting knowledge that if both sides had nuclear weapons, no one would be silly enough to start a war. Now, there is no comforting knowledge. Now, I have nightmares about a narcissistic sociopath president who thinks starting a war with a dangerous, fanatical, and likely mentally ill leader is a great way to get re-elected. Long ago, I decided if ever there was a nuclear war, I would kill myself. I’d rather die fast than die from radiation poisoning. Even if there were an antidote, there would be no medical care available. Doctors and hospitals aren’t immune from nuclear attack. Don’t kid yourself; hospitals will be, as they are in all wars, a major target. Thoughts of suicide mixed with bipolar disorder is terrifying. Do I need an extra antidepressant? Do I need a permanent adjustment to my psych meds? Am I having an abstract conversation with myself? Or am I suicidal? I don’t have an answer. Instead, I’ve decided to be extremely careful what I read in the New York Times each morning. I can’t stop what’s happening. I can’t change what’s happening. I don’t have to make myself physically sick by reading about what’s happening. Instead, I’ll make beautiful jewelry with peace jade beads.
It took about three years, but I finally filled up my external storage disk. When I do photography, I shoot in RAW. A lot of my work is outdoors, and I want the most amount of digital information my camera will give me. I have more and better editing options if I shoot RAW. However, RAW files are HUGE and it takes almost no time to fill up the space on the laptop. I’ve been putting RAW files on the external storage disk, then changing the photos from RAW to JPEG, dumping the RAW version from Photos and replacing that with JPEG version. That way, I have a portfolio of photos without using much space. Once photos are edited, there’s no visual difference between a RAW edited photo and a JPEG edited photo. I also backup my laptop to external storage.
Yesterday, I bought a 5 TB storage disk for less than the 3 TB cost me when I bought it on sale. Storage is becoming remarkably cheap. Today, I’m busy creating folders on the new disk and transferring files and photos from the laptop to the storage disk.
The fun just keeps coming. The washer is broken. Jim did some research, ran diagnostics on the washer, and ordered a part to solve the problem. He paid extra for expedited shipping that was supposed to take 2-3 days. It’s taking longer and I have a mountain of laundry. According to the tracking, the part is supposed to be delivered today.
I wear fleece socks because my feet get so cold. A couple years ago, I made five pair. They are all in the laundry basket waiting for the part to arrive so the washer can be fixed. I bought a yard of five different fleece fabrics when I made those socks. A yard of fleece makes 4-5 pair of socks.
I dug out my fleece and made five pair of fleece socks yesterday. I wanted to be able to differentiate between the original pairs and the new pairs, so the sole of each sock doesn’t match the rest of the sock.
Tomorrow, I’m going to have to make me more panties because I’m running out of those, too. No, I can’t just go to Walmart and buy new underwear. I intensely dislike buying something that I can make.
I’ve been working on jewelry and finished a number of necklaces. I’m not wild about these photos. Fortunately, I’m not buying film and paying for developing.
This one, and the one with the green pendant below, is made mostly with recycled glass.
I belong to the Digital Photography School page on Facebook. One of the members suggested I use spot metering. I have a Canon T3i. I went to the menu, chose metering mode, tried to change the mode from evaluative to spot, and the camera refused to cooperate. I looked up the manual and, according to the manual, I was doing everything right. What the manual fails to mention is that the camera must be in manual mode in order to change the metering. Having the camera in aperture priority isn’t manual enough for the camera to understand what I want. When it warms up a bit, which is supposed to happen over the weekend, I’ll take my jewelry outside and see what happens now that I’ve changed the metering.
When I bought the Tamron 150-600mm lens, I bought it as a bundle which included two very good filters – UV filter and polarizing filter. The filters run about $90. They filters were on back order, and they arrived today. We need to schedule a trip to Bosque del Apache so I can shoot wildlife. Because I live at 4000 feet above sea level, I need a UV filter in order to get color that isn’t washed out. The polarizing filter will help with swimming duck shots and sunlight bouncing off the water.
I took this shot the other night. The menorah is next to the window, as is traditional, and I liked the way the flames were reflected in the window.
Tonight is the final night. I’ll light candles and think about a tiny handful of fighters who banished an entire army. Just one of the many times someone tried to wipe out the Jews. We keep bouncing back. The title of this post is also the title of a Woody Guthrie song. His mother-in-law was a well-known Jewish poet. The song is one of her poems and Woody put the words to music.
I made latkes yesterday. I only make them once a year. After I made them, I remembered why I only make them once a year. The entire house smells like a latke. To remedy that, I made a batch of chai tea. Now the house smells like cinnamon and cloves.
My great-great-grandparents left Dittersdorf, East Prussia in 1888. They were Jewish, but arrived in New York cleverly disguised as German Lutherans. By the time my grandmother came along, the family thought they really were German Lutherans. I grew up Catholic. When I discovered my grandmother’s really bad German was actually Yiddish, I returned to my Jewish roots.
I grew up in an insane house run by a violent, drunken narcissist and her violent, drunken husband. It was not a good way to grow up. I’d go into a depression in mid-November and the depression would last until New Year’s Day. Holidays were hell. The fighting. The screaming. The drunken bigot spewing hate. That was just the first hour. The celebration went downhill from there. I no longer celebrate Christmas. The Jewish holidays, Hanukkah and Passover, hold no baggage for me. Except this year. The flashbacks started Christmas day and continue haunting me. I thought I was done with this kind of misery. Apparently PTSD is a forever condition. It gets easier to live with, but it never goes away. I’m convinced children should be able to sue their parents who should be made to pay the never ending therapy bills.
I’ve been working on making necklaces as an antidote to psychic, seasonal misery. It’s not called art therapy for nothing. Eventually, I’ll get the necklace, featuring Swarovski crystals, pearls, Adrian opal, agate, yellow opal, onyx, African jade and gold stone, into my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com
I’ve been working on taking macro shots and still getting used to a shallow depth of field. I’m playing with color, texture, and wild editing. Eventually, I’ll be turning the photos into fabric designs. This process is taking longer than I thought. Meanwhile, my laptop is filled with wildly edited shots.
My cookie scoop died so I bought a new one. I haven’t tested it out yet, but I did use it to take a self portrait.
Do NOT eat lettuce. Doesn’t matter where it’s from. Just don’t eat it. We had lunch at Olive Garden a week ago. I made the mistake of eating the salad and got the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had. According to a clue for the New York Times crossword puzzle, E. coli replicate 72 times in 24 hours. That explains why it’s so dangerous. I didn’t go to the hospital although I should have. I was badly dehydrated, and was having a violent reaction to the E. coli. It’s tough to have rational thought when laying on the bathroom floor after five hours of festivities. I wish I had gone to the hospital. They would have cultured a sample and found out exactly what I ate that did me in. The CDC is still warning people not to eat romaine lettuce. Contaminated lettuce has sickened people in 25 states.
There was a humorous part. I asked Jim to get me the Pepto Bismal tablets that I was sure we had. After searching frantically, he handed me a bottle and asked if that was what I wanted. No, I don’t think I need a stool softener. He eventually found the Imodium. Four days later, I was still running a fever.
Do NOT eat lettuce.
I finished up a necklace I had been working on.
Today, I forced myself into the kitchen to bake. I made marzipan shortbread and mixed the dough for eggnog rum cookies. I’ll roll out the dough tomorrow and use my Star of David and dreidel cookie cutter. If I’m feeling extremely ambitious, I’ll make royal icing and decorate the cookies.
Hanukkah starts tonight. I want to make latkes but I don’t think I’m going to be making them today. Fortunately, Hanukkah lasts eight days so there’s plenty of time for me to make latkes. I prefer to bake them so they aren’t so oily.
I am bleary eyed. We went to Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and shot 837 photos. Even culling out the best shots, I’m not remotely close to halfway through editing and I’m bleary eyed. I’ve been having problems with Affinity, an editing program designed for Mac. It’s difficult to learn, difficult to use, and a PITA when I had to re-download the program. It’s a good program if you can learn how to use it and don’t mind being frustrated.
I usually shoot RAW because when I’m shooting jewelry or wildlife, I want the sensor to pick up the most amount of data. That’s why RAW files are so huge. To free up space on the laptop, I first sent all my RAW photos to external storage. Then, I converted the RAW photos on the laptop to JPEG and deleted the RAW version. I freed up 100+ gig of space on the laptop.
I bought a Tamron 150-600 lens recently and we went to Bosque del Apache to test out the lens. This is a 4-pound lens, which I knew when I bought it. I needed to brace my arm on whatever was handy in order to hold the lens reasonably still. Fortunately, the Vibration Control is incredible and most of my shots didn’t look like I was struggling with a heavy lens. The lens is designed to be used with a tripod. I don’t mind using a tripod, but I don’t like using one when I’m shooting wildlife. The wildlife will move way to fast to respond with a camera on a tripod. Spending more time at the gym will likely help with my ability to hold the lens still.
I’m still having problems with insomnia. I just don’t get tired so I go to bed well after midnight. Then I sleep late the next morning. I haven’t been able to get myself onto a sane sleep schedule. Because it gets dark about 5:00 PM and I prefer to shoot jewelry outside, I’m losing a whole lot of photography time with this off-kilter sleep schedule.
Some of the photos I’ve been taken are being used to design fabric. I manipulate the photos to make abstract designs. It’s a fun project. Eventually, I’ll sell my fabric designs on Spoonflower. First, I need to pick out the most suitable photos and order fabric proofs. Then, if the colors don’t need tweaking, I can offer the designs for sale.
I’ve been working on jewelry, photography, and designing fabric. My Tamron 150-600 lens arrived this week. I’ve done some experimenting, but the best use for that lens will be when we go to Bosque del Apache and I can shoot eagles.
I never knew there was so much growing on top of that mountain. Those are part of the Dona Ana Mountains.
I made two necklaces for me using pendants I bought from an artist who does wire wrapping.
I’ve been playing with editing in photos to see what wild designs I can create.
We were at Bosque del Apache on Monday and Tuesday getting in some shooting and a little tiny vacation before Jim’s surgery.
Jim’s surgery on Friday went well.
I’ve been playing with the macro lens to learn what it will and won’t do. The portrait of Jim was taken with the macro lens. I focused on his face rather than his eyes and I didn’t pay attention to the background. I’m working on eliminating my tendency to take snap shots and concentrating on taking photographs. Some days are more successful than others.
Still working with the macro lens, I took some extreme closeups. Then, I played around in editing to see what I would get. I’m working my way towards designing fabric. I’m not sure I’ve gotten the fabric I want yet.
With an overlay.
I worked on some jewelry this week and spent a moment photographing the jewelry. I like the jewelry more than I like the photos.
I’ve got another necklace laid out, but I’m not sure I like how I have the beads arranged. I’ll leave the necklace alone for a day or two. It’s amazing how different a design looks after leaving it alone for a day.
People have asked me where I get my art ideas from. Most of the time, I’ve no idea. Sometimes I see the finished piece in my head, then I work on the design in my sketch book. Lots of times, I figure it out as I go along.
Recently, we went to Bosque del Apache. I worked on shooting birds in flight. It’s harder than it looks. I had one shot I liked, but the sky was gray and the photo looked washed out. Here’s the unedited version.
I tried to fix the shot, but nothing seemed to work well.
It still looked washed out. I tried again.
Still didn’t like it.
So, I started to play with funky overlays and weird adjustments.
I didn’t like what I had created. Until……I made the funky edited version my profile photo on Facebook and it had been my profile photo for a few days. Then I started to see the funky version. Really see the funky version. It would make an interesting quilt. I’m working on the design on my iPad. iPad and iPencil make for a never ending sketchbook.
I haven’t figured out how to handle the background. I like the washed out sandy, pastel colors in the photo, but I haven’t figured out how to translate that to fabric. I’ve got some water color pencils and those might work. I’ve also got water color crayons. Maybe they would work. I’ve got fabric paint which might be the best approach. Now that it’s cooler, dyeing results in pastels rather than saturated colors. Saturated colors require sunlight and heat. Two things that are in abundance in the desert during the summer.
On Friday, I gave a talk on suicide – from the perspective of nearly killing myself, and my emotional response to the suicide of someone I knew. There were only five people in the audience and, rather than attempt power point, I used two quilts I had made. The first quilt was made when I was suicidal. The second is what I saw in my mind after someone I knew had killed himself. I’m used to working without a net and never write out what I intend to say. I speak from the gut. Sometimes, from the heart. The talk went well although I didn’t have time to say all I intended to say. I suspect for me to get everything in, I’d need an hour. I only had a half hour. I was asked what to say to a 20-something person who is suicidal. I stressed the necessity of taking the person to the hospital. If you take a person to the hospital and you are wrong, you get embarrassed. If you don’t take a person to the hospital and you’re wring, you’re going to a funeral.
I got home and depression snuck up on me and grabbed me. Friday was rough. I found myself looking for Amazon Prime movies about suicide and mental institutions. Now, I find myself looking through Amazon to find books about mental institutions. I don’t know why this fascinates me. Maybe it’s because there but for having junk for parents, go I into a mad world run by mad men and mad women disguised as psychiatrists. Maybe I’m looking for validation for my refusal to be dumped into a locked ward.
Bipolar disorder sucks. For so long, I didn’t mind being bipolar. I finally had an accurate diagnosis that explained so many of the confusing bits of my life. I finally had proper meds. And then I nearly killed myself and bipolar disorder started to suck.
I’ve discovered that once one admits to being suicidal, one needs to speak carefully. I’m having wild mood swings and something is clearly out of whack. Either my thyroid med needs adjusting, or – please, God no – my mood stabilizer has stopped working. Coming off a psych med means going through withdrawal hell that lasts three months. This is followed by four to six months of med adjustment. Please let it be my thyroid. I saw my doctor last Wednesday and saw the bloodsucker on Thursday. Later this week, I’ll pick up the lab results. I described the mood swings and told my doctor I can’t live like this. I then had to tell her I’m not suicidal. I’m frustrated. I’m scared. I’m waiting for the next mood swing to arrive and blow through my head like a hurricane blowing through Florida. But, and this part is critical, I don’t want to die. Today, I don’t want to die. I’ve no idea what I will want tomorrow. That’s the terrifying part of bipolar disorder. I know my mood will swing wildly; I don’t know when or in what direction. Manic and more insomnia? Depressed and worried about becoming suicidal?
We went to Bosque del Apache on Saturday. I like the nature preserve, but I dislike being restricted to only a few roads. I’d like to do some serious exploring. The sandhill cranes have arrived and I had fun shooting them. I use a Canon rather than a gun. I worked on photographing birds in flight. It’s harder than it sounds. I use manual focus and it was tough to focus fast enough to get a clear shot.
I also worked on composing the scene when I’m doing landscape photography. I want to move away from snapshots and start taking photographic art.