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

Pretzels & Pinch Pots

Rolling out dough for a big, soft pretzel is a cross between rolling out a coil and pulling a handle. I’ve got a sourdough recipe for English muffins. I can’t fit more than 8 English muffins on a pan, so I’m making 8 English muffins and 8 big, soft pretzels. I had ordered some pretzel salt from King Arthur Flour Bakers Store and I’ve been wanting to give it a test bake. Rather than cook the English muffins on a griddle, I’m baking them in the oven. I have English muffin rings (King Arthur Flour Bakers Store). I put parchment paper on one cookie sheet, grease the rings, put a glob of dough in each ring, cover with parchment paper, and put another cookie sheet on top of the raw English muffins. As the muffins rise and later bake, the muffins are confined to their rings and end up the size and shape of commercial English muffins.  I put parchment paper on top of that cookie sheet, and made dough ropes to form into pretzels. There are pretzel makers who can flip the dough into a pretzel. I’m not one of them. English muffins and pretzels are rising at the moment.

I’ve been working on little pinch pots to be used as glaze experiments. I put the bottom glaze on the inside and part of the outside of the pinch pot. Then I put the top glaze only inside the pinch pot. No runaway glaze disasters if the two glazes are only on the inside. I was aiming at a Wednesday glaze firing, but that’s not going to happen. I have no energy today and I’ve got a half dozen mugs, a plate, a rattle, and two large planters to glaze before I can fire.

I’ve had an energy problem the last few days. In some ways, it feels like before I was diagnosed with hypothyroid. In other ways, it’s just weird. Normal manic events have a culinary nature. I have an incredible urge to cook and I’m buying things for making whole grain baked goods. Normal manic events come with too much energy. I have to be careful not to get too wound up or I won’t be able to wind down. This time, I hardly have enough energy to walk across the room. I think this is a mixed episode. Whoopee.

In an effort to become healthier, I’ve been pushing exercise on myself. Last night, I was about to get on the elliptical machine when I looked out the sliding glass door.

Sunset 1 11-4-17

So I took time to do some photography. I’ve been trying to get the sky and the ground to look in a digital image how it looks to my eyes. I’m still working on that.

Mountains 1 11-4-17

Yes, I did get on the elliptical machine after taking 54 photos.

Thursday, I stopped into JoAnn’s. I have my writing class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I have no intention of paying for a parking pass for one class. I park in the strip mall parking lot nearby. JoAnn’s is in that strip mall. I was armed with sales fliers and coupons. My original intent was to fondle the JoAnn’s version of a fabric called Minky. I need a longer kimono (the one I have is knee length). I thought Minky would be a good choice. I never found the Minky. What I found was this.

Flamingo fabric 2 11-3-17

The bolt on the shelf didn’t have the 5 yards I needed. Fortunately, there were two full bolts up on a high shelf. I told the clerk to give me 6 yards. Then there was one yard left on the bolt and I got it for half price. The fabric, a cotton knit, was on sale and I had a 25% off coupon. It will be a kimono and a jacket when it grows up.

Then I found a fake fur that I think will be a nice purse. I bought a yard and it, too was on sale.

That’s about all I have energy for right now. Can’t wait for this episode to be over. I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for a gift? My online store, Deb Thuman Art, is here.

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Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Clay, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Jewelry

Why is life so complicated?

I’m still having withdrawal from the antidepressant. While I know this is part of withdrawal, it doesn’t feel like any previous withdrawal I’ve endured. Physically, I’m pretty much okay. I get tired a lot, but I don’t feel as if I were jumping out of my skin any more. I am finding my brain is working better. But my brain feels….squishy??? Things aren’t quite right. I have moments of utter stupidity. I was bouncing off the ceiling the last court appearance. Ceiling bouncing doesn’t usually happen in court. I couldn’t concentrate in my writing class on Tuesday.

About a week ago, I had to read a story for my writing class. The story was about a sexual assault, but the story was written as if the breast grabbing was just boys’ behavior. I had a visceral reaction and said so in class. Subtly is not part of my skill set. I told the writer than what he described was a sex crime, a felony and requires registering as a sex offender. I then plopped my sexual assault quilt down in front of him, pointed to where it said “For the woman who said no and got fired,” and told him that was me. Oddly no one else in the class was disturbed by the story. That is disturbing. I haven’t decided how I feel about my teacher refusing to look at the quilt. It’s the quilt with the more or less life size and more or less anatomically correct 3-d vulva in the middle and the words: If you touch this without my permission, I will break your fucking arm. Sometimes, I wonder about this class.

Next, I had a court appearance where I was in the same courtroom with the jerk who has been stalking me. That had more of an impact on me than I expected. I had a deputy walk my client and I out to my car after the hearing. The jerk was waiting for us in the parking lot and didn’t leave until he was sure the deputy wasn’t going back into the courthouse. That’s both scary and infuriating. The next batch of stories contained a story written from the point of view of a pedophile. This was accompanied by #Me Too and an episode of Law & Order SVU about rape, hazing and bullying. Plus I watched an old episode of Roseanne and was deeply offended. The episode was about Dan’s mother having to go into a mental hospital and about mental illness. The writers made mental illness sound so horrible. I wouldn’t recommend being bipolar, but it’s hardly the end of the world. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s a disease to be treated just like any physical disease.   And I wonder why I’m exhausted.

I had to take one day this week when I worked on art just for me. Not art for sale. Not my novel. Not writing for a class. Not healing writing. Just art for me. I had reached an interim weight loss goal while I was on the Broken Tooth Diet, and my reward was to buy me Swarovski crystal.

Reward set 10-20-17Reward set 2 10-20-17Reward set 3 10-20-17

I’ve worn the earrings from each set, but I haven’t had a chance to wear the necklaces.

I fired the kiln. Twice because I misread the cones and didn’t get the kiln hot enough the first time.  I’ve been working on some chili ornaments. IMG_4134IMG_4130IMG_4126

I used a copper wash on these to make the texture stand out. The chili on the left is Amaco Jade Celadon over copper wash. The other two are clear glossy over copper wash. I’ve go to make more pieces with copper wash in the texture. I like the effect.

IMG_4123

I can’t remember where I read this, most likely on Facebook, but a fellow clay artist wrote about putting a piece of plastic wrap over a slab of clay before using a cookie cutter to cut out ornaments. I like how the edges are rounded over. I had a piece of eyelet fabric and I rolled it on a slab of clay to make texture.

Scrub Top 10-18-17Detail Scrub Top 10-18-17

While I was making art for me, I decided to use fabric I bought a couple months back. Yes, those are alligators and ducks in the fancy stitching. I couldn’t find my ribbing for the cuffs, so I grabbed some spandex that coordinated and used that. What a PITA to sew onto the bottom of the sleeve! But I got the scrub top finished. I wanted something funky and arty to wear when I set up at the local Farmers & Craft Market.

Ring 10-20-17

I bought some memory wire for making rings. And I bought the BIG bag of it. It’s hard to get the ends bent around. I ended up making a ring that is too wide for me to wear. My hands look funny when I try to wear large rings. I’ll take it with me to the Farmers Market and see if it gathers any attention.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by her blog and see what other artists have been making.

Looking for a gift? Stop by my web store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

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Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Clay, Cognitive problems, Photography

Pain Sucks

I saw the neurologist on Thursday and demanded to know what caused the neuropathy, the extent of the damage and how this can be reversed. I’m having a nerve conduction series next month. I was in pain from 3:00 AM on Saturday until Tuesday afternoon. Then I had a reprieve until about 2:00 AM today. The pain was bad enough that if I could have been sure I wouldn’t have gotten caught, I’d have bought something on the street. You might think that after 23 years as a criminal defense attorney I’d know where to buy street drugs. Nope. I haven’t a clue. Probably just as well….I couldn’t stand to hear the cop laugh when I got arrested. Plus a felony conviction gets me disbarred from all my law licenses. 

The problem with neuropathy is that there’s nothing causing the pain. The pain doesn’t even exist. What feels like horrible pain is damaged nerves sending a scrambled signal to the brain.

It takes an hour and a half for the gabapentin to take effect, so I went outside and did some night photography. We’re at about 4000′ elevation here and when we have a full moon like last night, it’s BRIGHT. Everything had sharp shadows. So I played around with ISO and exposure length.

Adjustment 2 10-7-17Stars 1 10-7-17Stars 3 10-7-17

I got maybe four hours sleep last night; I’m exhausted, and I can’t fall sleep.

Every time I think I’m done with withdrawal, I find out I’m wrong. I stopped taking Wellbutrin completely last week Friday. I was bouncing off the ceiling during my class on Thursday. It was embarrassing. I thought I was okay, provided I didn’t have to be around people, until yesterday. I experienced severe anxiety. I tried art. I spent a couple hours in the mud making another large planter. I listened to my relaxation music. That helped, but not enough. I finally broke down and took a klonopin. For some reason, I feel like a failure when I need to take meds. Silly, I know. I still feel like a failure. I’m making progress, the feelings of failure used to be a whole lot worse.

Meanwhile, I’m having difficulty spelling. I know how the words are spelled, I type 72 words per minute, but I can’t get the words typed correctly. I’ve no idea how to solve this problem. I think I’m just going to wait until the withdrawal is finished and my brain learns how to work without Wellbutrin.

I’ve been experimenting with earrings.

Yellow:green leaf earrings 10-7-17Rootbeer earrings 10-7-17Purple & crystal earringsMulti purple earrings 10-7-17Irridescent purple earrings 10-7-17Greens earrings 10-7-17Clear & crystal earrings 10-7-17Black earrings 10-7-17

This is the necklace I made to go with my amethyst earrings.

Amethyst necklace 10-7-17

These are necklaces I’ll be selling. I was going to set up at the Farmers Market this morning, but that’s not something I can do on four hours sleep. Next week, God willing! 

Green leaf necklace 10-7-17Green fan necklace 10-7-17Green circlie necklace 10-7-17

Monday, I get the prep work done for the crown to fix the tooth that broke in half lengthwise. I’ll be glad to be able to eat food that isn’t either liquid or really soft. I’m so looking forward to eating crunchy food again.

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

Looking for a gift for someone special or for yourself (you’re pretty special, too)? My web store is here.

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Jewelry, Photography

Mental Illness Is Not For The Feint of Heart

I was going to correct the spelling error in the headline, but I kind of like it. It matches how I feel. I am going through withdrawal. Wellbutrin stopped working and started causing me to have hallucinations. Because the hallucinations were not interesting and were annoying, I decided to go off Wellbutrin. I went down to ½ my usual dose. This worked great for a few days. On Monday, I felt as if I were trying to climb out of my skin. I downloaded anti-anxiety music which did help. By Tuesday, the climb out of my skin feeling was gone.

I had a couple good days, then on Friday, I was walking into walls. I thought it was positional vertigo, so I did my ear exercises. Eventually, I looked up the symptoms of withdrawal from Wellbutrin. Nausea – which had developed by then, and dizziness. Saturday, I was better.

Today, I did fine until I fell onto the counter that holds the bathroom sink. Landed on the corner of the counter. I’d have been fine if the room hadn’t moved. Now, the nausea is back.

This is what life on psych meds is like. First, I feel bad enough that I know I have to go back down the rabbit hole and have tea with the Mad Hatter. Then I have to go through med adjustment which lasts 2-3 months. During this time, I walk into walls and I get to feel my brain change a little each day. Then, for a period of time, the med works properly and life is great. Then the med stops working and starts causing enough problems that the problems are worse than withdrawal. Withdrawal lasts 4-12 weeks. I’m in Week 2. I get to repeat this process for the rest of my life. It’s not easy being mentally ill. I’ve had clients bitch they don’t want to go off methadone or stop using heroin because they’d go through withdrawal. If withdrawal from psych meds were like withdrawal from heroin – puke and poop for three days – I’d be thrilled.

Meanwhile, I popped a crown off on Tuesday while simultaneously breaking another tooth in half lengthwise. My dentist was on vacation last week, and the earliest appointment I could get was for this coming Thursday. I’m on a liquid diet and wishing I could eat something that required chewing. So far, I’ve lost 3 pounds – all of which will return when I can once again eat solid food. With a liquid diet, liquid in means liquid out. The last time I had to pee so often, I was on lithium. Lithium is processed through the kidneys and I had to drink lots and lots and lots of water each day.

I’ve been working on earrings, but I haven’t gotten them photographed. I finally managed to do a decent job with a brick stitch and made dangly earrings with long fringe. At the moment, I’m learning Russian Leaf earrings. I ordered beads from Lima Beads and my order arrived on Friday. I put together some earrings – which also aren’t photographed. I bought a number of pendants and now have to make necklaces. I can’t find my crimp bead covers. I’ll have to order some of those.

I have been doing some photography. Considering the dizziness, I’m amazed that I can hold the camera still.Moon smile 9-17-17

I’ve been wanting to take a smily moon photo for a while now. I finally got the chance a few mornings ago. I had the camera on the tripod when I took this shot.

Stars 2 9-24-17

The neuropathy acted up last night and it takes an hour and a half for the gabapentin to kick in. Nothing to do but grab the camera, pop it on the tripod, aim at the sky and play around.

Sunset 2 9-23-17

Sunset a couple nights ago facing east. The western view wasn’t that exciting.

Sunset 1 9-24-17

Tonight’s sunset facing west. I am really liking that graduated neutral density filter. The filter darkens the sky so I don’t have blown out sky when I’m taking landscape shots.

Nasturtium 2 9-24-17Nasturtium 1 9-24-17Nasturtium 3 9-24-17

When I was taking shots of the nasturtiums, I was intrigued by the bright white lines in the leaves. So I took a leaf shot. I’m not sure if that was an art moment or a withdrawal moment. I’ll be fine in a couple months.

Zinnia 1 9-24-17Zinnia 2 9-24-17

I like taking the shots other people ignore. So here are a couple darned near dead zinnia shots.

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

Looking for a gift? Check out my web store here at DebThumanArt.com.

Posted in Bigotry, bipolar disorder, Photography

Skinheads, Photographers & Bipolar Disorder

Jim and I went hiking on Friday. He was on vacation last week and he used his time off to paint the house. The leaks around the windows were caused by the paint failing and water seeping into the stucco. So, the house is getting painted. The white is now a soft green. The trim is going to be peach. The front door, which faces south, will be red-violet. The garage doors which face east will be blue-violet. Any paint with red in it will fade in direct sun. I’m hoping that the blue in the blue-violet will outweigh the red and the doors will stay purple longer. The garage doors get hit for a half a day all year. The front door is under a roof and never gets direct sun.

Back to hiking. We went up on the Organ Mountains. The last time I set up at the Farmers Market, a lady asked if I had any photos of the Organ Mountains. Um, no. I needed to remedy that. The traditional, and over done, view of the Organ Mountains is the view one sees from downtown Las Cruces. The mountains were named Organ because they look like organ pipes lined up. We were on a different side of the mountains and I got photos of a part of the mountain most people don’t see.

Dripping Springs 18 8-11-17 use this one

Dripping Springs 17 8-11-17 use this one

I tried getting a decent shot of a few hummingbirds, but I wasn’t successful. I have a collection of Where’s Waldo shots.

Dripping Springs 20 8-11-17

Dripping Springs 19 8-11-17

I had the 18-55mm lens on the Canon and I really needed the 75-300mm which was home. I can’t do decent close shots with the 75-300mm and I can’t shoot birds with the 10-55mm. I don’t take both lenses because I don’t want to change lenses when I’m outside. This is a desert even though everything looks green. Dust, sand, pollen, and any other crud that’s blowing around damages the sensor.

This morning, I got into a posting match with someone on Facebook. The thread was about people who just have to come up to you when you’re shooting and start talking to you. Personally, I dislike that. Actually, I detest it. Art is a way for me to return to center when I’m either depressed or manic, a way for me to heal emotionally, and a way for me to heal physically. When people come up to me and start asking questions, I want to ask them if they would appreciate it if I came up to them when they were working and demanded they stop what they are doing and talk to me. Whereupon a troll emerged. I’ll skip the truly nasty stuff although it was amusing when he told me to stop responding to him. I tried hard to point out that if I could control my moods, I wouldn’t be on psych meds. I kept telling myself to stop responding to this person because I’m never going to convince a troll of anything. Part of my brain wanted to keep posting because I had an opportunity to tell people who don’t know much about bipolar disorder what kind of struggle it is at times to get back to center.

Why not just tell people I don’t care to talk to them right then because I’m working? Because it’s not that simple. “Leave me alone. I feel like jumping off a cliff,” is not something I’m ever going to say although it is something I do feel on occasion. Such a comment would precipitate a call to 911 and the situation would deteriorate. If I think you’re trying to take me to a hospital, I’m going to try to kill you. That’s not an overstatement. Have you ever been in a locked ward? You lose all control. Someone else decides what meds you will take, and you will take those meds or you aren’t getting out of the hospital. Telling the glorious doctor the meds aren’t working doesn’t work. I’m the crazy person so what do I know about what I need? Under no circumstances will I let you take me to a hospital.

The manic version would be worse. “Look you fucking idiot, I’m working so leave me the fuck alone.” That’s particularly pithy if the person at whom I’m snarling is accompanied by a three-year-old.

I wouldn’t bother any photographer. The one time the situation came up, we were in the Everglades at the edge of a pond looking at water birds. I asked the photographer – who got there first – if I would be in his way if I stood where I was standing. He said no. That was the entire conversation. I don’t know why he was there and it’s none of my business. All I know is his equipment cost more than mine and that he knew the Latin name for the ducks we were looking at. I made a comment to Jim about the coloring of the ducks – it really was spectacular coloring. That’s when the photographer told me what kind of ducks they were.

So, if you see me and the Canon trekking about, wait until I’m done shooting to talk to me. We’ll both be a whole lot happier.

I’m deeply disturbed and frightened by the national news. Skinheads marching because a statue of Robert E. Lee was to be taken down. Counter demonstrators. Things got ugly, the police intervened and the governor called out the National Guard. Later, a bigot drove a car into a group of counter demonstrators killing at least one and injuring at least 19 others. There’s a photo in the New York Times of the car plowing through the crowd. The photographer was behind the vehicle and there’s a nice shot of the license plate. There’s also a shot, not so nice but very well done, of a black man flying off the back of the car after the car had run into him. A white man is upside down in mid air after he had been struck. The photo and article are here.

These are equal opportunity skinheads. They don’t just hate blacks, they hate Jews as well and probably a slew of other groups of people. That’s scary. That’s infuriating. That’s wrong.

Being upset, angry, and scared, I turned to art. I started making beaded Stars of David. Once I get the technique worked out, I’ll be putting Star of David jewelry in my store,  DebThumanArt.com.

Star of David 2 8-1-17Star of David 1 8-13-17

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

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 bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Photography, Pottery

I’m pretty sure it’s Friday

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

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

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

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

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

Jim's shirt 7-7-17

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

Deb's Blouse 7-7-17

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

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

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

Bird nest 7-5-17

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

Moon 7-5-17

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

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

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

Look Me In The Eye

I’m terrified.

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe I should put that into a quilt.

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

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

Reflections 6-20-17 JPEG

Reflection 3 6-18-17 use this one

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

Lantern 1 6-23-17 jpeg

Lanterns 2 6-23-17 jpeg

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

Suculent Planter 6-23-17 jpeg

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

Rattle Rocks 6-23-17 jpeg

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

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

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

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

Depression. It sucks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in bipolar disorder, Photography

Bipolar Disorder Adds Something to Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunset 1 6-6-17

This is the sunset as it appeared in real life.

Sunset 1 6-6-17 edge light leak grunge

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

Cactus seed pod 2 6-9-17

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

Cactus flower 6-8-17

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

Cactus blossom 6-9-17

This is what the cactus looked like this morning.

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

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

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

 

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Photography

Coping Without A Coping Saw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like this one above the best.

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

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

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

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

Agave 3 5-11-17

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

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Photography

Photos and an etsy store or What I Learned At The Farmer’s Market

I’ve been documenting the progress of the bud on the agave that is about to bloom. Jim & The Agave 4 3-25-17

Two days earlier, the stalk was only as  tall as Jim. He’s 6’2″. Soon, if I want to get Jim and the entire stalk in one photo, I’ll have to be taking Where’s Waldo shots. You know the ones – there’s an itty bitty person in the enter of the photo and way too much stuff surrounding the person. Agave, sometimes called Century Plant, only bloom once. Then they die. Yes, there will be a photo record of the bloom and death of the agave.

IMG_6925

I took that photo about 7:45 PM and had problems because the only way to avoid getting a house in the background was to put Jim between me and the sun. That’s why the sky is blown out. I got some great advice on how to avoid this and I’m looking forward to testing out some of the suggestions.

We were going to go hiking yesterday, but it was a touch too cool and too windy, so we went to the Farmer’s Market instead. Las Cruces has a Farm & Craft Market every Saturday and Wednesday morning. I took some street shots and some shots to play with.

Agave are my favorite subject to turn into art.

Agave 4 3-25-17 grunge edge 2 grunge neg vintageAgave 5 3-17-18Agave 6 adj neg grunge 3-18-17Agave 4 3-25-17 grunge edge 2 grungeAgave from top 3-25-17 negAgave from top 3-25-17 neg vintage grunge edge grunge dehaze use this oneAgave grunge x 2 vintage erode vignette 3-18-17

Some scenes from the Farmer’s Market:

Sun catcher 1 3-25-17Sun catchder 2 3-25-17

I found a couple dogs who were willing to pose for me.

Poodle 3-25-17Black dog 1 3-25-17 vintage vignette

This one was intrigued by the camera. Note to self: carry a cloth to wipe the dog nose prints off of the neutral density filter. At least I had a filter and the lens was protected.

What is this? 3-25-17

I played around a bit with a few shots.

Tree 2 3-25-17 grungeTree 1 3-25-17 grunge vintage watercolor texture

Lots of flower venders on Saturday.

Flowr booth 3-25-17 vintage grunge watercolor pencil edge

I have some new photography equipment – a light cube, four LED lights, and a dandy mini tripod with a fast release. After turning the tripod around to get the Canon screwed to the tripod, and taking several photographs, I wondered what this little lever was for. Oh. So that’s what a quick release is.

I also got a shipment of new beads and I’m working with two-hole beads. I tested out the new photo equipment along with the new beads.

IMG_6932

I’m keeping this pair of earrings and I’ll be making another pair to sell. Because I only make one of each kind of earring, the next ones will be with very different colored Swarovski crystals. Or maybe small pearls. I’ll have to see what fits.

IMG_6938

I’m ambivalent about this pair. That’s why they aren’t on earring hooks yet.

I’ve got earrings listed in my etsy store here.

I love the new photography equipment.

I’m feeling more calm and centered each day. It’s amazing how interesting life is when one is bipolar.

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

Posted in bipolar disorder, Photography

I Feel Much Calmer

I’m back on my regular dose of meds, and I feel closer to center. I still pop up to manic more than and quicker than I’d like. Still, it’s good to feel more settled. If I had to choose between manic and depressed, I’d choose depressed. Manic is when I move at warp speed and can’t slow down. A bad manic event is when I’m so far above center that I can’t function. If I’m below center and depressed, I just withdraw.

I did some photography this morning. Cactus do bloom, but the blooms don’t last long. Here are photos of the Claret Cup cactus. I don’t know what the proper name is.

Claret cup closeup

This is my favorite shot. I’ve no idea how I got the background so dark, but I like it. I had waited a bit too long to take these shots this morning and I was dealing with harsh sunlight. Seeing the LED of the shot was tough. I got down on the ground to get this shot.

Claret cup de haze

Same cactus but shot from above. If you look closely, you can see some itty bitty baby cactus.

Blooming agave 3-17-17

This is an agave that Jim rescued from the trash pile. Usually, the plants are bigger before blooming, but this one wants to bloom now. Agave bloom only once and die after blooming. Yes, there will be photos to commemorate the progress of the strange, eerie bloom.

In other news, my Etsy store is open for business. You can reach my shop here.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other great artists are up to. I love checking out all the blogs that link with Nina Marie.