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.