Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Clay, Depression, Emotions, Jewelry, Quilts

Beads. Quilt. Clay. Bipolar disorder.

It’s been a rough few days. I wanted to decrease the Wellbutrin because I’m taking a prescription form of folate that is formulated to cross the blood brain barrier. The folate helps keep me above suicidal but doesn’t cause brain dropouts. I tried cutting the Wellbutrin pill in half. Nope. Bad idea. I felt myself sinking below center. The rate of suicide for people who are bipolar is 20 times that of the rest of the population. I find that terrifying. I’ve been suicidal 5 times in my life. How many times can I walk up to the edge of the cliff and not jump off?  I’m back to the dosages I was on and much closer to center. 

Bipolar disorder means having moods that have minds of their own. I’m in a foul mood, but there’s no reason why I should feel this way. Working on art helped, but I’m still not at center. I had ordered some impression jasper. It’s a stone that gives the impression of jasper. Except it’s not jasper. These two are dyed. I liked the color, so I’ve been playing around. 

I don’t usually just have a pendant on a silver chain, but this particular Swavorski crystal would be overwhelmed if I added any beads. 

I played a bit with making a book mark.

I can’t just sit and watch TV; I have to be doing something. I’ve been crocheting circles. Eventually, I’ll roll out a slab of clay, arrange the circles on the slab, press them in, and cut out little trays. 

I wanted to make a quilt to commemorate the murders at the temple in Pittsburgh last October. I’m not sure I’m all that happy with the chai, but I’m not about to wash this piece. I had to figure out how to make blood spatter for this piece and I can’t remember if I set the blood spatter. 

I’m trying to force myself to relax and have fun with my classes, immunology and cell biology. I spent college having to be the best in my classes. I spent law school having to be the best. I spent a career practicing law having to be the best. Now, I’m taking classes that interest me. I’m not going for another degree. The grade doesn’t matter…..except it does matter. I’m feeling burnt out because I’m putting emphasis on getting a good grade rather than putting emphasis on enjoying the class. 

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

Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Emotions, Fiber, Quilts

Shocked, but not surprised.

Yesterday, I was the oldest of four children. Last night, I became the youngest of two. 

On Monday, I got a notice from 23 & Me that I may have a half brother. I’ve been in emotional shock all of this week. I checked the 23 & Me DNA analysis – we share 23% of our DNA. We also share a father is is/was a selfish jerk. Both my brother and I were born in 1952. My brother is six months older than me. No, our father wasn’t married at the time. Apparently he stuck his dick in every vagina he found. Then he walked out of our lives. If our father is still alive, he’s 88. I did meet him once. I wanted a nice reason for why he abandoned me. He had no reason to give me. Eventually, I realized his reason for walking out is he’s a selfish jerk. My mother had two talents in her life: welfare fraud and attaching herself to horrible men. She eventually married a violent drunk. When I discovered I was adopted and searched for my father, my only fear was I’d find either a republican or a drunk. At least he’s not republican.

I have a brother I didn’t know about. And he’s older than me. That I have a brother is a shock, but not a surprise. It’s likely we have more siblings we don’t know about. Eventually, I’ll work my way through the emotional fallout of discovering a brother.

I have a new MacBook Pro. I bought the one with 512 gig storage, 16 gig memory and a 15” screen. It should last me a few years. I’ve been working on a quilted tote for the laptop. First, I played with squares….and managed to make one that looked like a swastika. Nope. Can’t go around looking like a neo nazi.

I put the three blocks together, and the swastika disappeared.

I like the finished result – mostly. I am not in love with the binding and I had problems with the handles. I wanted to sew the edges together then turn the handles right side out. Except I couldn’t manage to turn the handle. Next try: fold, press, and sew without turning. The handles aren’t too bad but certainly not great sewing. 

I like how putting together different versions of a block make wild patterns. I’m considering making a lap quilt using the basic pattern. I have a couple miles of fabric and I need to start using it up.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Please stop by her blog and check out what other artists have been doing. http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Looking for art to buy? Lots of goodies in my store Deb Thuman Art here: debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, Emotions, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

An Assortment Of Thoughts

Jim started baking. And baking. And baking. He found a sale on the Nordicware site and bought four fancy cake pans. Two will make loaves with fancy tops. One will make mini cakeletts. One will make regular cakelettes. I tried to convince Jim that we need the Kitchen Aid Pro 600 mixer with metal gears and a BIG bowl. Two bakers need two mixers. He didn’t accept that argument. Sigh. Someday. 

Today, I went to the gym for the first time in months. I only worked on my upper body because I’m not sure I should be using weights to work on my lower body yet. I want to have a couple more pain-free weeks before I ease into using weights on my lower body. My theory is if I am stronger I won’t be as prone to back and sciatic misery. If I’m wrong, at least I won’t have flappy arms. I’ve also been doing yoga designed to restore back strength and that seems to be working well. 

I’ve been seeing curtains of light in my right eye. That can be an indication of a torn or partially detached retina. Twice the retina in my right eye has been glued back down and I’ve been told that if my retina tears or detaches again, I will have to have repair work done in the hospital. I looked up the surgery. A sharp instrument is inserted in the eyeball….. and I need about a quart of valium to hold still for that. After seeing my eye doctor and a specialist, I learned my retina is fine and no one needs to poke me in the eye with a sharp instrument. The curtains of light could be an ocular migraine. Jim has those. They are a nuisance, but they don’t hurt. And so I’ll ignore the curtains.

I did a bit of work on the novel. I need to get the novel finished, and it’s taking a whole lot longer than I thought. I switched from first person to having a narrator. That solves the problem of how my female character knows things. 

I have not worked on the quilted pillow tops this week and I’m having small guilt attacks. Next week. I’ll work on them next week. 

I read an article in the New York Times about research that’s being done using virtual reality as a means of pain management. The theory is the brain is bombarded by so much stimuli the pain doesn’t register. So I bought a virtual reality headset. It works. I like how realistic and three dimensional the programs are. I started with the aquarium program and watched dolphins, sea turtles, clown fish, and sharks swim by. I detest rollercoasters in real life, but I decided to try a virtual rollercoaster anyway. It’s not a good idea to ride a virtual rollercoaster for a half hour.  Actually, it’s a really bad idea. My stomach didn’t like being on a virtual rollercoaster.

I hate Mothers’ Day. 

I grew up in a family run by a violent narcissist and a violent drunk. My mother not only hated and resented me, she made sure I knew she hated and resented me. Don’t ask me to honor someone like that. 

I have a uterus. I don’t have children. Don’t assume I am a mother. 

Tomorrow, I will stay home. I will avoid clerks and wait staff who insist on wishing me a happy mothers’ day. 

Too bad there aren’t greeting cards acknowledging women who don’t have children, or worse, lost a child, women who grew up in abusive environments and women who have lost their mothers. 

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

Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art www.debthumanart.comand check out my art. 

Posted in Emotions, Grief, Judiasm, Suicide

Post Funeral Thoughts

A deputy I knew and worked with committed suicide. I don’t know why, but this has hit me incredibly hard. I spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday crying. I wasn’t sure I would attend the funeral because I didn’t think I could hold myself together. I’ve still got that memory in my head where my mother yells at me to stop crying. Didn’t take me long to learn I needed to keep my feelings to myself.

I ironed my funeral clothes and figured that was a sign I should go to the funeral. The visitation was before the funeral and I arrived at the start of the visitation. Fortunately, or probably as a practical matter, the casket was closed. A US flag covered the casket. I had planned on having a private chat with the late deputy. Most of the chat took place in the car while I was waiting for the viewing to start. I said things in my head that I couldn’t say aloud. Things from deep inside of me. So deep light rarely reaches them.

When I got up to the casket, I put my hand on the casket and gave a silent wish…. Shalom. It’s a Hebrew word that means peace. Not just the absence of war, but an all encompassing peace that reaches to the depths of your soul. I had tried a couple times the days before the funeral to say kaddish. I couldn’t get through the prayer.

A cruel cosmic joke would be that after suicide, we’re just as depressed and hurting as before we pulled the trigger.   

I patted the casket and heard a clank. Metal casket and I must have brought my hand down too hard. Per the obit, he’s going to be cremated. I hope that casket was a rental because buying a casket for someone who is to be cremated is silly.

I wonder if the casket is empty. Just for show and the body is about to be cremated.

As we waited for the funeral to begin, we could watch a montage of photographs of his life. One photo was of a younger version of him with his very young daughter. The love he had for her was obvious. 

You had the world by the ass. You obviously loved your daughter and granddaughter. You had friends. You had a life outside of work. You had work you loved. Why did you kill yourself?

So many smiles in the photos. Every time I saw him, he was smiling. He was always so nice to me.

Why didn’t you let one of us know you were hurting?  

Actually, I know why he didn’t let anyone know.

Or did you leave me a clue when you asked me, “Don’t you just love our fucking society?” I’m so sorry; I never understood it was a clue. Please come back and let me make it up to you.

Suicide, when you’re that depressed, seems rational. Why ask for help with a rational decision?

I could have helped you. I’ve danced on the same road. It hurts so much knowing I could have helped you and I never had the chance. 

I held myself together through the funeral. I fell apart during the last radio call.

Goddamn it! Why did you do this? 

The piper, who played the bagpipes particularly well, played Amazing Grace and I composed myself. Kind of like composing a song only different. I was fine until deputies started hugging me and I started crying again.

If you’re reading this and thinking suicide is a rational option, please do a favor for the people who know and love you: TELL SOMEONE. Thinking death is a good idea means something is very wrong. Go to the hospital. If no one offers to take you, go by yourself. Proper medication gave me back my life. Proper medication will do the same for you.

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

Posted in Emotions, Grief, Judiasm, Suicide

And so it goes…..

“One day Richard Cory went home and put a bullet through his head.” 

A deputy I knew, worked with and liked killed himself last Friday. Baruch dyan ha’emet. Blessed is the true judge. 

When I read the article in the paper this morning, my first though was had I known, I could have helped him. Except that’s not how suicide works. Jim and a close friend didn’t know I was suicidal until I told them I had a detailed plan to kill myself. 

The problem with suicide is it feels normal. It doesn’t feel like depression. It feels like a rational decision. Now, the decision to kill myself feels terrifying. Then, it felt normal. 

I don’t know any of the private parts of this man’s life. I know he loved the work he was doing. Doing work one loves is rare and wonderful. I know he was full of a high-power, fast oscillating energy. It’s hard to explain, but I could feel this energy when I worked with him. It didn’t feel like a negative energy. It felt more like it was a part of him – something that made him who he was. I’ve never met anyone else with that kind of energy. Now, that energy is gone. He’s gone. I feel like he threw his life away.  Except I know that’s not how suicide feels. Suicide feels right. Rational.

I want to hold on to the stupid generalities people have about suicide; except I can’t.

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” No, suicide is larger than that. 

“He had his whole life ahead of him.” Someone who is 95 has her whole life ahead of her. 

“He threw his life away.” No, he made a rational, or what felt to him like a rational decision. 

Oddly, I don’t feel plagued by why. Why did he kill himself? I know when I was suicidal, I thought killing myself was a good decision. I put several weeks of thought into killing myself. I suspect he did, too. Why? Because life was too painful to be lived. Because suicide felt like a good decision. Because he couldn’t find the door. That’s what I mourn. That I never had a chance to help him find the door. 

Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru, Amein.
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel. Now say: Amen.

Shalom, John. 

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

Posted in Baking, Emotions, Fiber

Of Many Things…..

School started this past Wednesday. There’s a whole lot more in a single plant cell now than there was when I was in college. Thank the scanning electron microscope. I’m taking two botany courses, and all this new to me stuff in the cell is making these two classes reminiscent of my cell biology class in college. I very badly wanted to go to college, but wasn’t allowed to. College makes you stupid. That’s what my mother and her husband insisted. I started college shortly after my 25thbirthday. With no high school math and no high school science, I struggled. A lot. Now, I’m struggling. A lot. Fortunately, the grade doesn’t matter. I’m still studying, though.

Baking helps with my anxiety. Fortunately, college kids will eat anything so I have an audience for extra baked goods. I’ve been wanting to learn piping. The Food Network shows make piping look so easy. It’s not. I gave it a try this morning. I’ve discovered if I want to fill in the outline with royal icing, I need to dilute the royal icing so it will flow better. I discovered the clip I used to keep the top of the pastry bag closed didn’t do such a good job and I ended up with frosting bulging out the top of the bag. I discovered some tips are only for buttercream frosting. They don’t work well with royal icing – the shaping doesn’t hold up and everything looks like it came out of a round tip. I’ll keep trying and eventually will get better. I love the look of fancy frosted cookies and some day, my cookies will look like the photographs. I used a rum sugar cookie recipe and I put some lime juice powder in the icing to cut the sweetness of the icing. I think next time, I’ll use more lime juice powder. You can order lime juice powder here.

royal icing 1-20-19

My pastry chef book finally arrived on Friday. You can see the book here. I had ordered it on December 16. I love the book, but I dislike the vendor. I have my mail sent to a post office box. The vendor ships via UPS which wasn’t indicated when I ordered the book. There was no tracking number provided so I had no idea the book wasn’t shipped until I sent an email complaining that I never got the book. Per the vendor, they tried three times to get my physical address. Nope. Not even once. Ellenbooks was the vendor. Don’t buy anything from them. I didn’t bother to look at their ratings before I ordered the book. I’m not the only frustrated customer. In fact, less than 50% of the customers had anything good to say about them.

The book has recipes given in weight rather than volume. Fortunately, I already had a food scale. The recipes tend to be for huge portions but the author suggest the recipes can be cut in half or in quarters and they will still work. Jim looked though the book and picked out pies for me to make. On the baking agenda is sweet potato pie. I have my eye on pear upside down cake. I went online to find a recipe for a small batch of royal icing. The recipe in the book makes 6 cups of icing. I couldn’t bake enough cookies to use up 6 cups of icing if I baked all week.

Reading through the book, I discovered how all the contestants on Holiday Baking Championship are able to make all that good stuff without a recipe. Turns out there are basic recipes for pastry that can be tweaked and adapted a zillion ways.

I’m still working my way through the yarn I bought to keep the anxiety level sort of down. I’m nearly finished with one scarf and I have one ball of yarn to go. Oddly, while I had so much stress waiting for a biopsy then waiting for results, I made few mistakes in my knitting. This scarf has caused me to rip out rows at least twice each knitting session and usually 3-4 times.

We’re binge watching NYPD Blue. The law is a tad loose – in NY, once the right to counsel has been invoked, it cannot be waived except in the physical presence of an attorney. The script ignores that. One thing that may not be well known is that the antics and forced confessions on the show really were being done in the mid-90s when the show was first aired. Since then, the police have been steadily recording more and more encounters and confessions. This has led to better policing and fewer confessions tossed out by the judge.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

Looking for a special, one-of-a-kind gift? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

Posted in Emotions, Fiber

Cosmic Joke That Isn’t Funny

I’ve long said that the ultimate cosmic joke would be for me to discover, after all the effort I put into not having children, to learn I couldn’t have had children anyway. My uterus has a birth defect called a septate uterus. There’s a piece of tissue connecting the back of my uterus to the front of my uterus. While it doesn’t effect conception, it significantly (20% – 40% and as high as  70%-90% depending on which article you read) increases the risk of miscarriage. For women who don’t wish to have children, the treatment is to do nothing. The only thing this septum effects is the ability to carry a pregnancy to term.  For women wishing to have children, there’s a minimally invasive procedure to remove the septum. The defect occurs in only 3%-7% of the general population so maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.   The only way a woman would know she has a septate uterus is if she has recurrent miscarriages. My congenitally defective uterus in not the cause of the bleeding. Said bleeding started the day before Thanksgiving and is continuing. I’ve got an appointment with a female gynecologist the end of this month. 

Oddly, the knowledge of my defective uterus is…..depressing. Why that should be is a mystery to me. This is the same feeling I had when I thought I would need a hysterectomy. I never wanted to use my uterus, but its potential absence is oddly depressing. 

I’ve been knitting to help keep down the anxiety. It kind of works. Here are the scarves I’ve made.

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Here is my current scarf project.

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And there are two more balls of yarn waiting to be made into scarves. Yes, they are all for sale. I haven’t gotten them into my store yet, but the price will be $30 which includes shipping within the US. If you’re outside the US, please email me at debthuman@zianet.com and I’ll research prices for you.

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

If you’re looking for one of a kind gifts, please check out my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

Posted in Baking, Emotions, Fiber, Judiasm, Quilts

Scared, Terrified, Anxious

Who’s on first?

Where am I?

What day is it?

The day before Thanksgiving, I began to have breakthrough bleeding. I went through menopause 16 years ago, so this is serious. This is scary.

I did research. I learned about epithelial glands. I learned about tissue types: simple typical, complex simple, simple atypical, and complex atypical. I learned the incidence of cancer if the tissue is simple atypical is 3% and the incidence of cancer if the tissue is complex atypical is 29%. I learned there’s a 30%-40% chance of pelvic organ prolapse following hysterectomy. I learned about the four major types of uterine cancer. Three are easy to treat; the fourth is aggressive. I learned what the stages of cancer are. This is terrifying.

I asked a friend who had uterine cancer who her surgeon was and why she chose that surgeon. I learned there are gynecologists, oncologists, and gynecologic oncologists. If you have uterine cancer, you want a gynecologic oncologist – someone who specializes in cancer of female reproductive organs.

I had an ultrasound and learned my uterine lining is 5.7 mm thick – .7 mm thicker than it should be.

I had a biopsy on December 20. I won’t have the results until December 26. After I get the results, I will do more research.

I haven’t been sleeping well. Last night, I was watching television when I looked at the clock. It was nearly 1:00 AM and I wasn’t sleepy. I needed anti-anxiety medication to go to sleep. That’s been happening a lot since the day before Thanksgiving.

I’ve found ways to sort of keep the anxiety level down. I’ve gotten on my elliptical machine and rather than pedal for 20 minutes, I’ve been routinely pedaling for at least 40 minutes. I’ve been binge watching baking television shows. I’ve been baking. I’m about to learn how to do piping. I’ve ordered a pastry chef text book so I can learn the correct way to bake.

I’ve been knitting.

I’m still anxious. I’m still scared. I’m still not going to be calm again until I read the pathology report. Reality I can deal with. Not knowing is unbearable.

I found some nice yarn at Joann’s. It’s made by Lion and is called “Shawl In A Cake.” I gotta knit yarn with a cool name like that. So I’m working on scarves. Two are done, one is in progress, and one has yet to be started.

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The scarves are approximately 10” wide and approximately 60” long. Cotton and acrylic blend, and an open stitch is remarkably warm. Air is a great insulator – think of plastic sheeting over windows in the winter – and the open stitches trap air. Eventually, I’ll get the scarves into my web store, Deb Thuman Art. If you are interested in buying either scarf and prefer not to wait for me to list them, they are $30 each which includes postage. Email me at debthuman@zianet.comand I’ll send you instructions for paying through paypal.

I’m also working on a quilt in memory of the congregants murdered at the Tree of Life Synagog in October. I finally got around to putting the blood spatter on the background fabric. I’m happy with the spatter pattern, but I’m not enamored with the shade of red. It’s tough to come up with a true blood red. And so I will have cherry blood spatter.

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Jim used push pins to attach the fabric to a piece of cardboard and we took the fabric outside. Blood spatter is messy.  I took a paint brush, some fabric paint, and made blood spatter. I need to set the dye by ironing the fabric. The Hebrew word for life will be superimposed on the blood spatter. People have been trying to obliterate us since the time of Abraham. We are still here.

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

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Garden, PTSD

Home Again

We flew to Buffalo, NY last week for a vacation. I’m from Williamsville, a suburb north of Buffalo and Jim is from Cheektowaga, a suburb east of Buffalo. We went so we could visit with friends, see the Threads of Resistance quilt show, and bury some ghosts.

The Threads of Resistance show was moved to a later date about a week before we were to leave. No, we couldn’t change plans. School starts this Wednesday and we both had to be back for classes.

Seeing friends from law school and a friend from before high school again was fun. I had beef on weck, a Buffalo delicacy consisting of thinly sliced roast beef layered on a kaiser roll that is studded with coarse salt and caraway seed. Add fresh horseradish, and it’s a food found in heaven. Jim had fish fries. In Buffalo, an area where about 70% of the population is Catholic, every decent restaurant and gin mill has a fish fry on Fridays. New Mexico is devoid of fish fries.

My mother and her husband had a cottage on Rushford Lake. It’s a place that holds so many misery filled memories for me. My mother and her husband hated me. Nothing I ever did escaped criticism. Nothing I ever did was worthy of praise. I got screamed at and hit on a daily basis. My escape was to take a long walk through the woods. When I was in high school, my mother would take my brother and sisters out to the cottage during the week. I was left home to babysit her husband. During the day, I’d go through cookbooks searching for interesting recipes to make for dinner. I’d carefully follow a recipe, make dinner, and wait for my mother’s drunken husband to come home. And wait. And wait. Finally, a few hours later, he’d stagger in and announce he had already eaten. He was drunk enough to forget I was at home. Then he’d stagger off to bed. I’d eat by myself. One week, I told my mother I wanted to go out to the cottage, too. “You’re not going.” No explanation. Not that one was needed. She hated me and didn’t want to be around me.

When I was in law school and after my mother and her husband moved to Florida, my siblings decided to have a day at the lake. I joined them. Before leaving, I sat in the middle of the living room floor and got hysterical. It was like going back into the most traumatic memory I had and having to relive the experience of that memory. I survived the day at the lake. My siblings could go out to the cottage any weekend of the summer. My mother and her husband’s hired help got to go out there one weekend a summer. My late sister’s soon-to-be-inlaws got to go out to the lake. I wasn’t allowed. Not even on father’s day.

I wanted to go to Rushford Lake, take a walk, and bury ghosts. As we approached the turnoff for the road the cottage is on, I felt my stomach tighten and the anxiety build. We drove down to the lake and were greeted by an assortment of signs demanding we not park near the lake. We drove to one of the trails through the woods that I used to walk down. It, too, came with signs demanding anyone who didn’t live there to keep out. Jim parked on the main road. I walked down the trail. I buried the ghosts.

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The illusion of solitude. Oddly, I didn’t get bitten by mosquitoes.

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I buried the ghosts in an unmarked grave.

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Bright spots in a dark world.

I earned two undergraduate degrees in college, one in journalism and the other in biology. My interest in biology was plants. One of my favorite places to go was the Southpark Botanical Gardens renamed Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The gardens used to be free. Now, the senior rate is $10. And someone decided to remove the citrus room. That room was my favorite. Filled with orange, lemon and grapefruit trees always in bloom. The scent of that room was wonderful. I would sit on the bench and just smell the room. There’s now a single lemon tree.

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The Buffalo Psychiatric Hospital, renamed the Richardson-Olmstead Campus, was built by H. H. Richardson. It’s a magnificent, huge building. When it was designed in the mid-19thcentury, the idea was to cure mental illness. Wide hallways with natural light encouraged patients to leave their rooms and socialize. There were shops – wood and fiber – where patients could do useful work and a shop where the patients could sell their work. The original grounds, more than 200 acres, included wandering paths and a working farm where inmates could engage in worthwhile physical labor. Eventually, about 2/3 of the grounds were removed from the hospital and used as the Buffalo State College campus. Both Jim and I graduated from Buffalo State College. In the early 70’s, we lived near the hospital and that’s where our polling place was. Voting was interesting. I remember it being lots of tile and very bright.

The building itself consists of an administration building in the middle and a wing on each side. The men were in the east wing and the women in the west wing. Each wing was a series of 5 connected buildings. The farthest building was for the most violent patients. The patients would progress through the buildings until they could be released back into society. It was a humane, gentle, and dignified way to treat the mentally ill at a time when there were no psych meds and patients at other institutions were frequently chained to walls or isolated in cages that resembled boxes.

The building was designed to house 600 patients. By the mid-1960’s, the hospital housed 3000 patients. Patients were “housed” in the hallways and walkways between buildings in the wings. Bipolar patients were tied spread-eagle to their beds if they were having a manic episode.

Buffalo Psych Center as is 8-3-18

The administration building which is now a hotel.

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Detail from the administration building.

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Open balcony where patients could sit – now featuring a cage. Ostensibly, the cage is for the patients’ safety. In real life, it was to keep the inmates in and away from the rest of us.

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One of the curved connecting hallways between two of the buildings in the men’s wing.

In the 60’s, three of the buildings of the men’s wing were destroyed to make room for the new hospital. It’s the epitome of Communist Bloc Chic and damned ugly. As we drove by, we saw a basketball court and inmates playing basketball. The court was surrounded by a high chainlink fence as one would expect. The fence was surrounded by an fence impossible to penetrate or climb over. I did not take a photo. We are not animals. We are not freaks. I would not humiliate these people by turning them into a side show.

I thought about my growing up years.  Because I had junk for parents, I didn’t end up in a mental hospital. My mother and her husband were far too self-centered to even vaguely notice if any of us kids were having problems. Then I thought about how if I hadn’t had junk for parents, I wouldn’t be screwed up.

I buried ghosts. I brought new ghosts home.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

Looking for a great gift for a loved one or yourself? Please check out my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Fiber

There Are No Victims Here

I am not a victim.

I am not a survivor.

I am a fighter.

I think that’s my super power. It’s not a bad super power to have. It’s pretty good, actually. This thought train, complete with dining car, observation car, and caboose, left the mental station shortly after reading an email inviting me to a play reading at New Mexico State University that was written by students about reporting sexual assault on campus. I won’t be there. I’m pretty sure I’d want to throw something large and heavy if I were to attend. I’m disgusted enough about how NMSU handled my complaint about sexual harassment. The university’s position is that forcing students to read stories that glorify date rape, gang rape (that wasn’t really rape because the victim enjoyed it) and pedophilia isn’t sexual harassment, it’s protected speech under the First Amendment. Mind you, this decision was made by someone who is NOT an attorney. Getting legal advice from someone who is not an attorney is like having your mechanic do a root canal on one of your teeth.

I’ve been worried about how I didn’t realize how depressed I was until about a month after I had formulated a plan for killing myself, decided when and where to do it, and reminded myself to tell Jim not to accept the body so the state would get stuck with the cremation bill. What if next time, and I’ve no illusions about there not being a next time, I don’t stop myself in time? This is the fourth time in my life, and the third time in 10 years, that I’ve been suicidal. Each time is more serious. So I went back into therapy. Jim will be going to some sessions with me. He needs to understand what’s going on in my head when I get depressed – especially if I don’t realize I’m depressed. You’d think I’d know if I were depressed, but I don’t. The slide down into the black hole is so subtle and slow that I’m usually pretty far down before I realize I’m depressed.

I’ve had little bouts of depression. During one bout, I decided to do therapeutic shopping. I bought pre-cut strips of fabric to make a rag rug. Turns out I need a whole lot of strips of fabric – way more than I bought. Jim offered to cut strips out of any leftovers I happen to have hanging about. I’ll be looking for some solid color fabrics so I can have him cut strips. I’ll use what I’ve made so far as the middle of the rug.

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I looked out the back window the other day and discovered that the huge agave in the back yard is about to bloom. The plant will die after it blooms. Too bad because it’s huge and lovely.

I’m doing okay. Most of the time – probably 90% of the time – I’m not depressed. I’ve got end of the semester burnout, but that’s not uncommon after a difficult semester. My last neurobiology class, and last class of the semester is on Thursday. I am looking forward to not having deadlines for a couple months.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

If you’re looking for a cool art, please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Grief, Pain

Maybe I’m Headed Back To Normal

I thought it was just situational depression. Fearing that a nerve conduction study would show that I’m going to have to spend the rest of my life in pain is depressing. There’s a logical reason for the depression. I knew I was suicidal, and I told people about wanting to kill myself. I told Jim and a friend how I planned on killing myself. Hold the pistol about an inch to the left of my breast bone, use hollow point ammunition, and squeeze the trigger. Fast and lethal. When I went for my nerve conduction study, I had to fill out pages and pages of information. I detailed, for an entire page, that I was suicidal, that I had a plan for killing myself, and that I had brought Jim with me in case I needed someone to talk me out of buying bullets on the way home. I formulated a plan for dealing with the police who I was sure would be called. I’d remain calm, I’d be sure not to do or say anything that could possible be construed as a threat to others thereby ensuring that if I didn’t want to go to a hospital, and I didn’t, the police would need a court order to take me to a hospital. Court orders take time. I was pretty sure I’d have about an hour in which to disappear if necessary.

I had a great plan.

No one talked to Jim about me. No one called the police. No one asked me about being suicidal. Probably because no one read the damn paperwork.

I have two bad days a year, April 1 and June 24. April 1 was my late sister’s birthday. June 24 is the anniversary of her death. April 1 is approaching and I’m depressed. My mother, a horrible narcissist, decreed that no one tell me my sister was sick or that she had died. I only knew because a friend saw the obit and called to ask how I was doing. Some years are better than others. I assumed this wasn’t one of the better years. There’s a logical reason for the depression. It would pass after April 1. I just had to wait a few days and the depression would be gone.

Since March 6, 2012, the day after finally being accurately diagnosed bipolar, I had been on both a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. After the Lexapro and lithium stopped working, I came off them one at a time. I went through withdrawal, then saw my doctor. She prescribed Wellbutrin and Lamictal. I was on the best set of psych meds I’d ever been on.

I started having problems right after the inauguration last year. I was sure the problems were situational. We have a president who brags about being a sex offender. I went into the second worst manic episode I’ve ever had. I tried increasing the Wellbutrin, but that gave me hallucinations. Or maybe there really was a tiny bug pushing a huge dust bunny along the bathroom wall. Backed off on the Wellbutrin and increased the Lamictal. That worked. Once the crisis had passed, I went back to my regular dosage. Problem solved.

Except it wasn’t solved. I started having hallucinations last August and made the decision to come off Wellbutrin. Hallucinations are a good reason to suspect you’re either on the wrong medication or on the wrong dose. I went through 12 weeks of withdrawal which was not only miserable for me, it was miserable for anyone who had the misfortune to be around me.

I thought that because I am retired and no longer working in a hostile, hateful, stressful, and downright miserable environment, perhaps I could get by with just a mood stabilizer. My doctor agreed with my decision. She knows I’ll be back if I’m wrong.

Yesterday afternoon, I realized the depression wasn’t situational. It was permanent. It was a part of my mental illness. I cried because I was depressed. I cried because I felt like a failure for needing to go back on antidepressants. I grew up in a family where seeing a therapist was worse than walking naked into McDonalds at noon. A household run by drunks has one inviolate rule: Don’t tell. I was a failure. I would always be a failure.

In the midst of this, I realized I need to go back on antidepressants. I found my supply of Wellbutrin, cut a pill in half, and took it. Within two hours, I had a complete personality transformation.

I will continue to take a half pill a day and see how this works. I’ve been on a number of antidepressants, and needed to come off every one of them. I came off Effexor when I hung onto the living room wall to keep the universe from spinning out of control. I came off Paxil when I realized that I could not continue living as I was living. Take my Paxil dose, things are fine, then I was out of control and the dose had to be raised. Again and again. I came off Lexapro when my meds stopped working and I was bouncing off the ceiling. After coming off Lexapro, I looked in the mirror and wondered when I had gotten so grossly overweight. I looked around the house and wondered when it had gotten so cluttered. I looked and the clothes I had been wearing to work and wondered whatever possessed me to wear such outfits.

I didn’t gain weight on Wellbutrin. I lost weight although not enough to get down to a healthy weight. I wore normal clothes. I cleaned the bathroom although I’ve still got clutter I want to remove.

When I go back on medication, I go back down the rabbit hole. Again. I enter a cycle that can’t be broken or altered. I enter med adjustment which lasts about 6 months. Then I am in the eye of the hurricane and my life is under control. Then the meds stop working – all psych meds eventually stop working – and I enter med hell. I stay there until I am sure I cannot stay there any longer. Then I enter withdrawal which lasts a minimum of 6 weeks and up to 12 weeks. I long for the ease of heroine withdrawal where all that’s required is puking and pooping for three days. I am forced to repeat this cycle until I die.

To those who reached out to me after my last, depressing, suicidal blog post, thank you. You will never know and I cannot express how much you helped.

On an artistic note….I finished the nerve quilt. And I’m working on a design for the next nerve quilt. While this quilt is about frustration, the next quilt is about healing. I’m getting there. It’s just going to take longer than I want.

Nerve Quilt 1 3-19-18

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

Want to see the art I have for sale? Check out my website: Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Baking, Beads, Cognitive problems, Emotions, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

The Coffee Cake Cupcakes Were Good

I’m doing better, but it was a horrible week. I had a nerve conduction study on Tuesday. I wasn’t afraid of what it would show; I was terrified of what it wouldn’t show. If the study showed tarsal tunnel, I’d be fine. That can be corrected surgically. If the study showed it wasn’t tarsal tunnel, I’d be stuck being in pain with not relief.

When the neuropathy flares, the pain routinely hits 7. The last time, it was bad enough that suicide looked like a good idea. I even planned out how I would do it. I’ve got a .22 calibre pistol. The advantage of a .22 is that it bounces around inside and cases more damage than a 9mm. I figured I’d use hollow point ammunition. Hollow point bullets are designed to flare upon impact and damage more tissue. If I held the pistol about an inch to the left of my breast bone, I’d be sure to blow a nasty, as opposed to nice, hole in my heart. I figured I’d have only one shot at killing myself and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to survive this shot. Naturally I’d do this outside so Jim wouldn’t be stuck cleaning up a mess in the house. Then I came up with a better idea. I’d go back to the neurology clinic at University of New Mexico and tell whatever neurologist was handy that I was tired of being ignored, I was tired of neurologists refusing to find out why I’m in pain and I was tired of being handed yet another prescription for yet another useless drug. So, if you can’t be bothered listening, let me put this in words you won’t be able to ignore. Bang. Why should Jim have to clean up any of the mess? Maybe, just maybe, one of those genius neurologists would start to listen to patients. And if not, at least I wouldn’t be in pain any more. I would just have to remember to tell Jim not to accept my body. Let the state pay for the cremation.

That scared the shit out of me.

The closer it got to the nerve conduction study, the more anxiety I had, the more depression I had, and the more terrified I was that I was going to have to commit suicide. I had Jim come to the appointment with me in case I needed him to talk me out of buying bullets on the way home.

One of the ways I deal with anxiety is to cook or to make art. I found a recipe for sourdough coffee cake and made coffee cake cupcakes. I brought them to my neurobiology class on Tuesday morning. The class enjoyed them. Then I started working on a quilt. More about the quilt in a few paragraphs.

When I got to the doctor’s office Tuesday afternoon, I filled out a good dozen pages of history and information. I had to list my allergies on at least three pages. I had to answer how much I agreed or disagreed with a list of statements.

“I enjoy talking to attractive people.” I wrote: You’ve got to be kidding me.

I spent an entire page writing about being suicidal and having a working plan for killing myself. I warned Jim that someone would probably be talking to him about me being suicidal. I expected to be sequestered in a room and have a police officer come in and try to convince me to go to a hospital. There are three ways to get someone into a mental hospital. Voluntarily go; commitment by court order; or if the person has committed an offense for which the person could be arrested, the police could take the person to a mental hospital for a mental exam without order of the court.

Under no circumstances would I voluntarily go to a mental hospital. I’ve visited friends inside of locked wards. They all have a glassy expression, talked like they were underwater, and shuffled when they walked. No thanks. I don’t need more drugs.

A court order takes time and I knew I couldn’t be held in a room against my will. I could get up and walk out of the doctor’s office. I knew I had to be extremely careful not to do or say anything that could be construed as a threat against another person.

So what happened? Nothing. No one talked to Jim. No one asked me about being suicidal. I doubt anyone read a word I wrote.

I told the doctor, a pain management specialist, that I wanted to be able to see the monitor during testing. So he told me about his experience. Somewhere in there, I mentioned I have an undergrad degree in biology. Unfortunately, I was facing the wall when he asked, “Are you a neurophysiologist?” “No. I’m an attorney.” I would have loved to see his expression.

I did get to see the graphs for a number of the tests. Because of my neurobiology class, I had a pretty good idea what I was looking at and I could keep up with the medical terminology. The tests showed a lowered amplitude on the action potential. Translated: the electrical impulse in my nerve wasn’t as strong as expected. I have a slower velocity than expected. Translated: the impulse travels down my nerve axon slower than “normal.” The tests also showed there had been problems with the axons connecting to my leg muscles, but I had grown new axons to take the place of the defective axons. That’s nerve regeneration and it does happen.

My nerves are dead or dying and this isn’t going to get better. Fortunately, I was too depressed to be suicidal. Yes, there are levels of depression so deep that one would have to feel better to commit suicide.

The pain management specialist said he had no way to treat me. That’s okay. I would never let this guy treat me. I told him the only reliable pain killer was making art. He tried telling me that was a diversion. No, this isn’t like Lamaze. The pain stays gone after I stop making art. I don’t think he liked hearing that. It’s tough to make money prescribing art.

I did some thinking the next day.  I realized I don’t have dead nerves. I know this because I felt every one of those impulses. Then I did some research. Then on Thursday I had a chat with my neurobiology teacher. I had some of the amplitude problem figured out although I had the wrong ion. I had the velocity figured out, although the problem might not be as bad as I thought. I looked at the results of blood work done in December. I remembered what my primary care doctor told me.

The blood work showed a mild potassium deficiency and my triglyceride level is way higher than it should be. My chiropractor told me that peripheral neuropathy is a metabolic problem. The potassium deficiency at least contributes to the neuropathy. I had been monitoring my blood glucose levels and keeping a food diary. My primary care doctor told me that the glucose levels are indicating a problem. I’m not diabetic or even pre-diabetic. My doctor told me that if I continue to monitor my glucose levels and learn what foods to avoid, keep exercising and keep losing weight, the triglyceride level should go down to normal. So that’s what I’ve been doing. My nerves have already proven they will regenerate. I’m hoping that fixing the potassium deficiency will reverse the neuropathy.

Here’s the quilt I’ve been working on. I have finished putting the beads on the dendrites. I’m working on quilting it. I’m quilting by hand around the dendrites and the axon. I’ll be quilting the graph for a healthy action potential on the quilt. The axon has vesicles containing neurotransmitters and one vesicle releasing neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are how nerves communicate with each other. Note that the neurotransmitters aren’t being accepted by any of the receptors (beads) on the dendrites.

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The working polite title is: Damn it, LISTEN to me.

The real title, which would keep this piece from ever being accepted into any quilt show on the planet, is: Get back here motherfucker, sit the fuck down and LISTEN TO ME.

I’m no longer suicidal. I’m working on getting healthier.

I got a new lens for the Canon. It’s a Tamron 18-400mm zoom telephoto. I’ve tested it out and I love this lens. It gives me way sharper shots than I was getting with a generic 75-300mm zoom telephoto. I even get sharp macro shots at 400mm. I went out to Soledad Canyon to do some shooting yesterday. My brain is still messed up from all the anxiety – anxiety that was worse than I had when I took a bar exam. I forgot my phone. I forgot I had used a custom white balance and neglected to switch back to automatic white balance. I’m shocked that the colors came out right. I forgot I had used exposure compensation and many of the shots are badly over exposed. At first, I thought there was a problem with autofocus. Nope. Autofocus is nearly silent.

Soledad Canyon 6 3-16-18Soledad Canyon 5 3-16-18Soledad Canyon 4 -16-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Take a look at what other artists have done this week.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please check out my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Emotions, Jewelry, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, PTSD

Art And Other Stuff

I got up early on Wednesday to shoot the eclipse. I had good and not so good results. I was able to shoot the eclipse until only a tiny slice of moon was left. I wanted to shoot the rest of the eclipse, but the moon fell behind clouds then set behind the mountains.

Eclipse 1A 1-31-18 Use this oneEclipse 2 1-31-18Eclipse 3 1-31-18Eclipse 6 1-31-18Eclipse 8 1-31-18

I’ve been making more jewelry. I had ordered a new supply of beads and I’ve been playing with designs. These are all in my store, Deb Thuman Art. I’ve got these and a number of other pieces sale priced for Valentine’s Day. Shipping is included in the price.

Purple peacock earrings

Glass peacock feather earrings.

Oblong green earrings

African opal and glass.

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Brass hearts.

Green peacock earrings

Glass peacock feather earrings.

Green glass earrings

Recycled green glass earrings.

I’ve been having severe pain in my feet this week. I had to miss my neurobiology class on Thursday because I can’t function on three hours sleep. I love that class, but I had been frustrated by all the emphasis on the brain. I’ve got pain in my feet, my brain is just dandy. Or is it? I’ve been reading Childhood Interrupted. In the book, the authors mention healing neural pathways in the brain. The theory is that once the brain is healed, then the other diseases will also heal. I know there’s a mind/body interaction. I know that PTSD causes physical changes in the brain – changes that can be healed and reversed. Perhaps the real reason I was drawn to take neurobiology has nothing to do with my feet but rather with healing old wounds. Gabapentin doesn’t cure peripheral neuropathy or even halt the progression of the nerve damage. What it does is more or less stop the pain. Sometimes. Other times, it just leaves me stoned and walking into walls.

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

Looking for a special gift for the special person in your life? Check out the Valentine’s Day Special in my store here.

Posted in Emotions, Fiber, Sexual Assault Is Wrong

Swimming Upstream

I got the messenger bag sort of done. I measured, then made the strap a bit too short. I allowed 1.5 inches to sew into a seam so I’ve got room to fix this. It’s usable with the strap as is, but not what I really want. I wanted to sew the straps into the seam that connects the bag to the lining, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. There’s a recessed zipper, and …. oh, shit. I just figured out how to sew the strap into the seam. Guess I need to make a few more of these bags.

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Front with zippered pocket on the flap.

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Back with zippered pocket.

As I guide, I followed this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8YHMqJi3a8 This woman has a number of videos on sewing, and I find them wonderfully helpful. I’ve been sewing for 53 years, but I didn’t know how to install a zipper properly until I watched her videos.

I wanted a bag that would accommodate my full-size iPad Pro and have room for my wallet, phone, keys, and other things I need to have. I put zippered pockets in the back of the bag, the flap, in both sides inside and put a welt pocket in the inside.

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The welt pocket continues down behind the zippered pocket.

What I couldn’t figure out is how to attach a water bottle holder. I’ll have to do some thinking about that one.

I started my writing class and neurobiology class last week. After one of the students in my writing class said she was going to law school in the fall, the teacher said she’d be doing a lot of fiction writing. Even if she writes contracts, she would be doing fiction writing. So when it came my turn to introduce myself, I told him I’m an attorney, I find his comments about legal writing offensive, and how would he like it if I told stupid English teacher jokes. I’ll get what I can from this class. Only one fiction writing workshop is offered each semester and the teachers take turns teaching it. I do like the idea of having a number of teachers so I can see an assortment of approaches.

My neurobiology teacher is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. Although I find myself at a disadvantage because I haven’t taken a biology class since 1981, I’m still having my brain zip around ideas while the teacher is talking. I’m going to love this class. I’m wondering if this is going to rekindle my love of biology. One of my undergrad degrees is in biology and I considered going to grad school to become a biologist. One day, after seeing an image from an electron microscope and learning about thylocoids, I decided a thylocoid was way too big and clunky to understand. Then I realized I was calling something that could only be seen with an electron microscope big and clunky. One day, I walked out of my organic chemistry class trying hard to understand the bond between two atoms and decided that was too big and clunky to understand. When I realized what I had just termed big and clunky, I decided being a biologist would end with me in a locked ward. So I stuck with journalism until I went to law school.

On Thursday, Jim and I went up to Albuquerque to the neurology clinic at the University of New Mexico med school. I had been going to the clinic at the med school in El Paso. At the clinic in El Paso, I kept wondering if I were the only one in the room who had taken cell biology. Then I discovered I really was the only one in the room who took cell biology. At the clinic in Albuquerque, I got to talk to a neurologist who is a microbiologist. Yes! My work in college was mostly with plants, but my real passion is microbiology.

Today was the Women’s March in Las Cruces. I didn’t go. The women who organize it are too cheap to pay for security. They would have to agree to pay the overtime rate for off-duty police officers. I suspect only 3 or 4 officers would be needed. Instead, they have two women who are “trained in verbal de-escalation.” Right. Try talking sense to a skinhead or a bullet. Yes, 911 can be called and the police would arrive within five minutes. Sounds like a short time, right? Imagine a skinhead with an AR-15 or a baseball bat. Now give the skinhead five minutes to do damage. How many people can be hurt or killed in five minutes?

There’s another reason I didn’t go. I’m still raw inside. I’m still pissed we have a sociopath sex offender for president. I’m still pissed that we have to fight against sexual harassment. I’m still pissed that standing up against sexual assault in my writing class last semester resulted in me being told to shut up by both my teacher and the head of the English department. I’m still pissed that my teacher retaliated by giving me a lower than deserved grade. I didn’t think I could get through the rally and march without crying. And it would be too emotionally difficult to explain why I was crying.

I’m still going to speak out and I don’t give a crap what the cost will be. I’m still going to stand up for what I believe to be right. I’m still going to stand up for a woman’s right to go through life free from sexual assault and sexual harassment.

I’m just not about to risk death or injury to do it.

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

Thinking about a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie – or yourself? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Emotions, Photography, Pottery, PTSD

Pottery & Pondering

On Sunday, I re-fired the pieces that didn’t fire well the first time and fired freshly glazed pieces. I’m almost satisfied with the plates.

Plate 8 9-9-17Plate 7 9-9-17Plate 6 9-9-17Plate 5 9-9-17Plate 4 9-9-17Plate 3 9-9-17Plate 2 9-9-17Plate 1 9-9-17

I like what happened with the glaze experiments on the rattling rocks.

Rattling Rocks 2 9-9-17Rattling Rocks 1 9-9-17

I gotta stop making boob soap dishes.

Soap dishes 2 9-9-17

Jim did a bit of glaze experimenting and I’ve no idea what he did.

Soap dishes 1 9-9-17Soap Dish 3 9-9-17

I decided to sew up a pair of shorts I had cut out a few weeks ago. When I went to attach the waist band, I realized I had neglected to cut a piece out. So I cut another piece. Still not enough waistband. I’ll give it another try later.

I’ve been working on an exercise that is supposed to allow for emotional and physical healing. I write about the crap that happened when I was a kid and the crap that happened when I was working for the Public Defender Department. This is triggering flashbacks and leaving me wanting to curl up into a ball and never again emerge. The theory behind this exercise is that I’ve buried the feelings, the feelings need to emerge, and then I can move on. I’m reading Childhood Disrupted –  I got the title wrong last week – and that’s from where the exercise comes. Sometimes, when I look back on all the years I’ve struggled with this crap, all the wasted time in my life infuriates me. What could I have become if I had decent parents?

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

You can find my web page, Deb Thuman Art, here.