Posted in Fiber

Took a little break from writing.

It has been a while. We went on a tiny vacation the week before Memorial Day and both of us got food poisoning. We either got some bad lettuce or someone didn’t wash her/his hands after using the restroom. It took a week for me to feel human again.

My 15-year-old Kenmore Elite sewing machine crapped out in the middle of a blouse. After looking online and Jim telling me to buy local, I bought a Pfaff Quilt Expressions 4.2. I love the fancy stitches. I’ve been doing a lot of sewing so I can learn the machine.Blouse 1 7-15-18Blouse 2 7-15-18Scrubs 1 7-15-18Scrubs 1 detail 7-15-18Scrubs 2 7-15-18Scrubs 2 detail 7-15-18Scrubs 3 7-15-18Scrubs 3 detail 7-15-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

If you’re looking for some cool art or a one of a kind gift, please check out my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

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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, Fiber, Peripheral neuropathy, Quilts

Closer To Bipolar Normal

Settling back to the kind of normal that’s possible with bipolar disorder. Yesterday, I had a manic episode. It was a small one. I couldn’t calm down. Doing things to try to get rid of the nervous energy, like vacuuming the living room and sucking up the cobweb in the corner, only made me more anxious. I tried art. Didn’t work. I took my anti-anxiety med. Kind of worked.

In desperation, I decided that I would continue working on the next nerve quilt. This one is about regeneration. I decided I was done screwing around trying to find the PERFECT DESIGN, and decided the design I had worked out said what I needed it to say. I decided I was done trying to find the PERFECT COLOR COMBINATION and decided the fabrics I picked out worked well and said what I needed them to say. I cut and pinned. I wanted to start sewing down pieces, but my sewing room doesn’t have good light and I wasn’t sure I was seeing the thread colors correctly. Today, I’ll look at the threads I’ve picked out and make a decision. Then, I’ll start raw edge applique and start some embroidery with Razzle Dazzle.

Nerve regeneration 2 3-23-18

Nerves regenerate. If an axon is damaged or dies, the nerve cell can grow a new axon. Or grow new dendrites. It’s called plasticity. The last nerve conduction study showed that the nerve cells in my lower legs had grown new axons. I got all kinds of plasticity going on inside of me and my nerves are regenerating. The neurologists who smile at me and hand me prescriptions for more useless drugs are, as I suspected, full of shit.

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

Looking for a great, one of a kind gift? Please stop by my store, 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 Beads, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Quilts

Listen To Me

I love my neurobiology class. I signed up for the class because I wanted to understand the peripheral neuropathy in my feet. I still don’t understand what’s happening in my feet, but I’m learning a ton of intriguing stuff.

I learned that the writers of the series Homeland screwed up when they wrote about the effects of sarin gas. I knew they screwed up because if the story line were accurate, the antidote for sarin would have guaranteed the person died. It’s good to know stuff like this. I did some research and asked my teacher if I had figured out the mistake right. For the most part, I had. I missed when I assumed a particular medical reaction, but I was right with the rest of it.

I learned that when a vesicle binds with a receptor, the cell membrane expands. In order to keep the cell the original size, a piece of membrane has to be removed. The process is remarkably like sewing a dart. That caused my brain to start working on quilt designs. I wasn’t happy with what I was sketching, so I started playing with lines and color. Much more satisfying, but not something I could turn into a quilt unless I wanted to spend several months hand sewing curved pieces. Which I don’t want to do.

Meanwhile, my primary care doctor noticed that no one had looked for tarsal tunnel syndrome. That’s the ankle version of carpal tunnel syndrome. I subsequently discovered that was one of the first things the eight neurologists I had seen should have checked. I’m furious. I’ve been in pain for five years. I’ve told all eight of these neurologists that I wanted whatever was wrong with my feet fixed. Find the cause, treat the cause, and the nerves regenerate. They smiled at me and handed me a prescription for useless drugs. I have another nerve conduction study scheduled for next Tuesday. If the problem is tarsal tunnel – and the nerve conduction study will answer that question – then the problem can be easily fixed surgically.

Anger and fascination merged. I want a quilt that says how furious I am, how frustrated I am, and how downright pissed off I am. I want a quilt that speaks with words a neurologist can understand. The working title is: Damn it, LISTEN to me.

Nerve Quilt use this one 3-9-18

It’s a dendrite with receptors and an axon with an axon terminal. Briefly, the axon terminal (green piece) contains the neurotransmitters in vesicles and the vesicles bind to a receptor on the dendrite (blue piece). When the neurotransmitters are released there’s a chemical communication between the nerve cells. Axons and dendrites are contained on the same neuron. I’m only showing part of two neurons here. I’m the axon and the dendrite is the eight neurologists too arrogant to listen to me. I’m pretty satisfied with the design but I want to do a little tweaking with the axon. I think it would be better if it curved more. Yes, there will be beads. Beads for receptors and beads for neurotransmitters. I need to work out what colors I want to use for the background, dendrite and axon. I haven’t decided if I want the dendrite to be darker than the axon. I know I want the axon to be bright and colorful. I’ve got a batik for the axon in mind that I think will work. Perhaps a darker, more muted batik for the dendrites. Then I have to figure out the background color. I’m trying not to rely on off-white or black. Something that would be surprising and unexpected would be nice.

Do these beads make my dendrite look fat?

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

If you’re looking for a gift or for something special for yourself, please stop by my on-line store, Deb Thuman Art here..

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Jewelry, Pain, Photography, Quilts

It’s Not Called Art Therapy For Nothing

I’m getting my energy back s-l-o-w-l-y. The infection is now gone and I don’t miss it. I’m still furious that tarsal tunnel, the ankle version of carpal tunnel, wasn’t ruled out 5 years ago. That should have been one of the first things any of the 8 neurologists looked for. But it’s so much more profitable to pat me on the head, smile when I say I want to know what’s causing the pain, and hand me another prescription for another drug that doesn’t work well. I have a nerve conduction study done on March 13. This time, I want to ask if there’s a way I can be positioned so I can see the computer monitor. I’ve now got a pretty good idea what those graphs mean and I want to see what’s going on inside of me.

I had been sleeping on the sofa because that was the only way I could keep the TENs unit attached to me while I sleep. I toss and turn which pulls the leads out of the dermatodes. There’s no room to toss and turn on the sofa so the leads stayed attached. Either I keep the TENs unit attached all night or I’m up in severe pain after a couple hours. I discovered that if I wear fleece socks, the leads don’t come unattached. This means I can sleep in my bed again. And I can use my CPAP machine which I can’t use in the living room. The outlets aren’t in the right places.

Armed with coupons and knowing fleece was on sale, I went to JoAnn’s in search of fleece that stretched in at least one direction. Some fleece will stretch, some won’t. I picked out five fleece fabrics and bought a yard of each. I’m using a Green Pepper pattern. The big thing is to make sure I’ve got the pattern pieces oriented so the stretch is in the proper direction. I finally found my ribbing so I used that for the cuffs.

Socks 4 3-4-18Socks 3-4-18Socks 2 3-4-17Socks 1 3-4-18Better black socks 3-4-18

The other day in my neurobiology class, the teacher was explaining how when the vesicle in the axon terminal binds to the receptor on the dendrite, the cell membrane gets larger. This requires a bit of the cell membrane to be removed from the side of the terminal. Ah ha! It’s like sewing a dart! And that’s when the designs started flowing.

Nerve quilt 1 3-4-18Nerve quilt 2 3-4-18Nerve qilt 3 3-4-18

Then, I took a little walk through my brain.

A walk through my brain 3-4-18

I’ve also been working on jewelry.

Necklace 2 3-4-18Necklace 1 3-4-18

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

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

Posted in Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, Sexual Assault Is Wrong

I Need A Nap

I’m exhausted and stuck in a circle. I had pain in my feet so I couldn’t sleep. That lowered my resistance and I developed an infection. Then I couldn’t sleep because I had pain in my feet. Then I did some research on the nerve conduction series I had done and discovered the paperwork I had only said: the observed results are equal to or less than the expected results. I was so angry that I had difficulty breathing. Then I read the two stories assigned for my writing class. One was about date rape. The second about gang rape. Then I had an allergy attack and needed to take a decongestant which prevented me from sleeping for 40 hours. Then I went to my doctor, got put on antibiotics and discovered I’m not pre diabetic – not even close. She gave me a referral for an orthopedic surgeon because the pain in my feet may be from the ankle version of carpal tunnel syndrome. Then I decided I was too upset about the stories that tried to portray rape as simply “guy behavior” and it’s not necessary to get upset about it.  Then I decided I couldn’t stomach going to class. Then I discovered that the ankle tunnel syndrome should have been the first thing that was checked for when I started seeing doctors about the pain in my feet. If I just spent the last five years in hell because someone forgot to check the obvious, I’m going to be beyond furious. Then I filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment against my writing teacher.

And now, I’m exhausted. I will be unprepared for my neurobiology class on Tuesday. I don’t have the energy to read the text book. I tried yesterday, but nothing I read stuck in my head.

I dyed sports bras yesterday. Jim helped. I tried to figure out how much dye to put In each bucket and miscalculated. I used twice as much dye as I needed. The colors are BRIGHT. The sports bras are now in my store, Deb Thuman Art,  here.

Ivory BraWatermelon Bra 2-25-18Peach bra 2-25-18Parakeet bra 2-25-18Orchid bra 2-25-18Blue Bra 2-25-18

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

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 Beads, Fiber, Pain, Photography

Making Some Changes and a Messenger Bag

We took a little vacation this past week. The original plan was to go up to Albuquerque, spend a day at Bosque del Apache wildlife preserve, a day in Albuquerque and a day in Santa Fe.

We drove up on Monday, and stopped at Bosque del Apache so I could do some bird and critter photography. Mostly bird. I learned a few things. It’s tough to get a decent bird in flight photo. A telephoto lens doesn’t do what I thought. I still had little birds in a big pond. I had to crop like crazy to get a half-decent shot. My telephoto doesn’t have image stabilization which makes it just about impossible to use without a tripod. And it’s just about impossible to use a tripod to photograph birds. Even on the ground, birds move fast.

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Sandhill cranes.

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I couldn’t resist an artsy shot. The water was dead still and the sun was in the perfect position to catch this reflection.

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No idea what kind of ducks these are.

I did see a bald eagle – the first I’ve ever seen in the wild. I took a shot that I knew would be crappy. I wasn’t about to leave with out a shot – even if I would be the only one who knew it was of an eagle.

Bald Eagle 1-8-18

Note the details on the eagle’s feathers. That’s okay – I can’t see it either.

Canada geese look different in the southwest. I’m used to the northeast version with much darker coloring.

Canada Geese 1-8-18

 

Cropped flight 1-8-18

My only decent cranes in flight shot – and it’s not that great.

I’m now researching zoom telephoto lenses. I want something with decent glass and image stabilization. At the moment, I’m looking at Tamron lenses. I’ve heard good things about those lenses.

We skipped Santa Fe. Driving in the old part of the city is a challenge. The streets are narrow and lots of one-way streets. Parking is expensive. The newer part of Santa Fe looks pretty much like Albuquerque.

I did get to go to a gem store and replenish my semi-precious gem supply. I saw a magnificent string of yellow opals full of fire and sparkle. Unfortunately, the string cost $1800 which is well outside my budget.

I had forgotten to pack the gabapentin, which sometimes helps with the neuropathy pain. All I had with me was the TENS unit and CBD oil – something that also sometimes helps. By Wednesday morning, I was in enough pain that we decided to head for home. A winter storm was blowing in and I can’t see spending money to sit in a hotel room and watch it snow. Few people in New Mexico know how to drive in snow. Being on the road with inexperienced winter drivers is to be avoided whenever possible. We got home ahead of the storm.

My A1C test shows I’m in the pre-diabetes range. I need to make some serious changes in my eating and exercising habits. I bought a glucose monitor kit and I’m now keeping a log of glucose results and food. I want to see which foods will cause glucose spikes and which won’t.

I made vegetarian chicken soup today. As I cut up the carrots, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I cut up the celery, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I added peas, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I added the corn, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I added the can of chopped tomatoes, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. At that point, there was no room left in the 4-quart slow cooker for the chicken, which went back into the freezer. Jim and I will be eating this soup all week.

I’m working on a messenger bag. I thought I had designed it to hold my iPad Pro. I’ve got the 12.9″ version. Now that I’m putting the bag together, I think I might have made a miscalculation and it will be a touch too small. Nothing to do but keep on going and finish it. I’m putting a zippered pocket on the flap, a zippered pocket on the back, an welt pocket on the inside, and two zippered pockets on the inside.

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

If you’re looking for a gift, or want to give yourself something nice, please stop by my web store, Deb Thuman Art here. Thanks.

Posted in Clay, Fiber, Pottery, Sexual Assault Is Wrong

Never Again

Never Again!

Never again will I be silent.

Never again will I be shamed into silence.

Never again will I be pressured into silence.

Recently, one of my classmates in my writing class wrote a story that ended with a sexual assault – a high school guy grabbed a high school girl’s breast without her permission. I pointed out – with great passion – that this behavior is a felony, that conviction results in the person having to register as a sex offender, and in NY, a state with a convoluted justifiable use of deadly force law, the girl would have been justified in shooting the jerk. I then spread out the quilt with the more or less life size, 3-D vulva and, inter alia, the words: If you touch this without my permission, I will break your fucking arm. I pointed to the line that says: For the woman who said no and got fired. I told the writer that this was me.

Since then, I’ve had pressure, twice, to cease and desist from making comments like that. Nope. Not gonna be quiet. Someone has to stand up and say the emperor is naked.

What disturbed me about the story is that the sexual assault was presented as guy behavior. No. Burping, farting and scratching your testicles is guy behavior. Annoying, smelly, but basically harmless. Grabbing a woman’s breast without her permission is not guy behavior. It’s a felony. Had the breast grabbing in the story been presented as horrible, never to be tolerated, unjustified behavior, I wouldn’t have been upset. Had the breast grabbing been done with the girl’s consent, I wouldn’t have been upset. That it was presented as acceptable behavior is not acceptable. Ever.

I was more disturbed to discover that I was the only one who was upset by the nonchalant attitude towards sexual assault. None of the other women in the class seemed to be bothered by this attitude. Or was I the only one who felt she could speak? We’ve been shamed into being silent. We’ve been told it’s out fault when some jerk grabs us. We’ve been told we were coming on to some jerk who couldn’t tolerate being told no. When, in Junior High, I refused to laugh, and spoke up against the behavior, when one of the guys pulled up a girl’s skirt. I was told, “You’re not the coolest.” I didn’t back down.

What the hell are we teaching our daughters? What the hell are we teaching our sons?

Never again!

I finally got pieces from the last firing photographed. And here they are.

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The above are experimental bowls. I used some clay I want to use up because I’m not all that fond of it. I rolled out slabs, rolled on texture, and used wreath forms for a slump mold. They are three different sizes, and the glaze combinations are experiments. The top tow bowls were too large for the light cube. I should have done some different staging. I did’t.

Firing 10-20-17 13Firing 10-20-17 12

I’ve no idea what fell on the plate while it was being fired. A chunk of kiln wash maybe?

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Another glaze experiment. Mayco flux over Potter’s Choice Shino. The flux is pretty good at surprising me. I had no idea I’d get grays and white from this combination.

Firing 10-20-17 6

The huge pinhole is gone and replaced by 4 little pinholes. It’s now my new lidded container. I’ll figure out what to put in it eventually.

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I did a bit of experimental sewing to take with me to the Farmers & Craft Market this morning.

Personal Bag 10-27-18

This is a Personal Bag. I designed it to hold: a personal toy, the charging cord for the toy, lubricant – two bottles if you like coordinated lubricant, and condoms.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing – and be sure to read Nina Marie’s post. It’s something I needed to read this week.

Looking for a gift? Check out my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

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.

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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 Fiber, Photography, Pottery, PTSD

Fiber, Clay and Ruminations

I’ve been working on different things this week. I am reading “Childhood Interrupted.” It’s about adverse childhood experiences, how they alter one’s brain and express themselves years later in physical ailments, and how to heal. I grew up in an insane asylum run by a violent narcissist and a violent drunk. As you might imagine, I had a lovely childhood. I wonder if the peripheral neuropathy and the hypothyroid are yet another gift from my mother and her husband. I’m slowly working my way through the section on healing. One exercise is to write about the adverse experiences. I’m doing that. No one is ever going to see these writings. The process is causing flashbacks.My psychologist told me that the nightmares and flashbacks are finite and would eventually stop. I haven’t had a nightmare in several years, but the flashbacks still happen. It’s been 45 years since I lived with the narcissist and the drunk. How long does it take for the flashbacks to stop?

Most kids only have one or two crappy parents. I get to have three. My father, near as I can tell is still alive. Near as I can tell, he still lives in Houston. I saw him once in 1988. Then he walked out on me a second time. For most kids, the absent parent only walks out once. My father walked out twice. How did I ever manage to be so lucky? I’ve been watching the news to learn the names of those who died in the storm. So far, my father’s name hasn’t been listed. I’m amazed that I’m having difficulty dealing with the uncertainty and the notion of his death. He doesn’t mean much to me alive, but I’m still bothered by the though of him dead. I wonder how long it takes to get over an absent parent who walks out twice. I’m angry because he’s a selfish prick who thinks of himself and refused to even remotely think about me. Hey! I’m your kid, you asshole! When I did see him, I asked him why he left. He had no answer to give me. I was looking for a rational reason. No. It’s not rational. It’s just selfish and self-centered. Yes, evil people become parents. It happens all the time. There will never be a rational explanation.

A few years back, I started working on Bedside Boxes, ceramic boxes designed to hold things you don’t want to leave out in the open but don’t want to have to hunt for when you want to use them. I still like the idea, but it’s expensive to ship ceramics. I have been making Toy Bags. This is storage for toys you don’t want the kids to find but don’t want to have to hunt for when you want to play with them. There’s a place for the toy as well as a place for the charging cable

On my first attempt, I used something akin to Peltex for interfacing. That was way too stiff. My latest attempt utilized quilt batting. That worked out much better. I was going to have the side seams on the inside of the bag, but that would have made the flap look odd. Instead, I used fancy thread, fancy stitches and sewed the side seams on the right side. I put a row of hearts along the flap. How to close this? A button and button hole would work, but would that leave enough space for the toy? I decided on a button and a ribbon. The ribbon wraps around the button to hold the flap closed. This allows the Toy Bag to expand a bit to accommodate a toy. The bag is about 12″ wide and about 4″ tall.

Toy Bag 1 9-3-17Toy Bag 2 9-3-17

Once I figure out a price and take better photos, I’ll be listing this in my store here.

I did a glaze firing on Friday and managed to misread the cones. I am now doing a glaze firing with some of the under cooked pieces from Friday and some pieces I had glazed that didn’t go in the Friday load. I won’t know what this load looks like until Monday evening. Here are a few of the pieces that weren’t absurdly undercooked. I sort of like them.

Weeping Plum Plate 9-3-17

I took some desert plates and used them as a slump mold. I took some of the crocheted pieces I did over the winter and used them for texture. I’m not all that happy with the glazing.Lavender Plate 9-3-17This one is an experiment. I used a cobalt wash under a lavender celadon. I’m sort of happy with the cobalt wash, but I’m not happy with the glazing. I wonder if I  got so many streaks because the load was under cooked. I’m using ^6 clay and glazes and when I looked at the cone packs, only ^5 was moving but not down yet. Soap Dish 2 9-3-17Soap Dish 1 9-3-17

I’ve been working on soap dishes and experimenting with the animal cutters I got a couple months back. I also used crocheted pieces and texture tools Jim had made me. Yes, I do realize the purple one looks like breasts. If I use that tool again on a soap dish, I’ll have to make three impressions. Rattling Rocks 9-3-17

Rattling rocks. They are hollow and when you shake them, they make a rattling sound. I use them for glaze experiments.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what other artists have been doing this week. You can find my web store at http://www.DebThumanArt.com, or click here.

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Posted in Beads, Bigotry, Clay, Fiber, Photography

I Think I Found A Good Antidepressant.

And it doesn’t cause suicidal ideation. No prescription required. Maybe shopping therapy really exists. I’ve been depressed, angry and anxious since last weekend. My birthday is next week, and I got a 25% off whatever I buy that’s not on sale coupon from a local sewing machine/quilt shop. I also had 3 60% off coupons and 2 40% off coupons for JoAnn’s. I needed some jewelry findings, so I went to JoAnn’s. I must have counted my coupons wrong, because I was a coupon short. The lady in line behind me had a 60% off coupon she couldn’t use, so she gave it to me.

After that, I went to the sewing machine/quilt store. I had intended to buy fat quarters, but there weren’t any. Almost not any. If I wanted to let someone else pick out my fabric, I could buy a bundle of 20 fat quarters all folded like stars. I decided to buy half yards of assorted batiks. I have a sewing room full of medium value fabrics so I focused on light and dark. I picked out 16 batiks. What amounted to 32 fat quarters cost less than the 20 pre-selected fat quarters. I’m happy. In fact, I’m no longer depressed, and I have no idea what I’m going to make from these half yards, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.

My writing class started yesterday and I was a bit anxious about going on campus. New Mexico State University has a large student body, quite a few international students – many from Arab nations, and a number of women who wear what I call traditional Muslim dress. I don’t the correct names for the garments. I will not let haters force me to hide so I wore my Star of David earrings and a necklace that has my name spelled out in Hebrew. Nothing of note occurred.

I’ve been working on learning brick stitch because I want to make earrings with dangly fringe.

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At the moment, I’m playing around trying to get good at brick stitch. Design will come later.

Yellow Mexican bird of paradise bushes grow like dandelions. They bloom like dandelions, too. The red variety is finicky. Just getting it to grow is an accomplishment. Rarely does the bush ever flower freely. We’ve had enough rain lately to cause the red variety to bloom.

Red BOP 8 8-16-17

Red BOP 7 8-16-17\Red BOP 6 8-16-17\Red BOP 1 8-16-17

R BOP buds 1 8-17-17

R BOP 4 8-17-17

R BOP 2 8-17-17

A reader had asked that I post photos of the house when it’s painted. I can’t do that. I take great care to keep my address a secret. My driver’s license lists my post office box. I am required to keep an address on file with the New Mexico Bar Association, the New York Bar Association, Federal District Court and the Supreme Court of the United States. The only address on file is my post office box. Many years ago, before I started keeping my address a secret, someone tried to burn down my house. It wasn’t difficult to figure out who did it and why. It was because of something that had happened in court a few days earlier. Since then, I’ve been diligent about not letting people know where I live. I won’t post a photo of my house, but I will show you the colors I chose.

Color corrected house color 8-17-17

Jim is almost finished painting the house. Next will be painting the front door red-violet. Then the blue-violet on the garage doors.

The semi-precious gems I ordered arrived, and I started making earrings. Most of these are in my store here.

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I did a bisque firing on Wednesday. It took me 8 hours, but at least I didn’t have any destroyed pieces. Next: spend lots of time glazing and do a glaze firing. While I was doing the bisque firing, I worked on bowls using a slump mold. I’ve got three sizes and I’ll be glazing them glossy black. I used a clay that doesn’t thrill me because it fires brown and all of the glazes are dull and uninteresting on brown clay.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.  See what some other great artists are working on.

Posted in Clay, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Photography, Pottery

Someday, I’ll be able to fire the kiln again

 

We’ve been getting some rain each day for about the last week. Nice for anything growing, but bad for pottery. The kiln house has to have ventilation which means it’s not waterproof. Rain on a hot kiln is bad. It could cause the kiln to explode. So I’ve got a load to be glaze fired and can’t fire it for a while. In this load are two experimental bird baths and an experimental planter. I’m also testing out a glaze Jim “made.” He took leftovers of commercial glazes and mixed them together. I’ve no idea what I will get.

I’ve been working on still lifes and I have to think differently to photograph them. Still lifes don’t move, aren’t subject to wind, and aren’t as easy as they look. I started with a white background but didn’t like what I got.

Thread 7-9-17 adjSewing tools 7-9-17Sewing feet 7-9-17 adjButtons 1 7-9-17

Then I tried a black background. Nice, but the light was all wrong.

Thread 1 7-11-17

Then I tried no artificial light. Much better.

Rows 3 7-12-17

I played with Sharpies, with thread, and with bobbins.

Sharpie 1 7-11-17Sharpie 1 7-12-17

I tried telling a story with the shots. What do you see these shots saying?

Bullies 1 7-12-17Bullies 4 7-12-17Bullies 2 7-12-17Bullies 3 7-12-17

Jim put a quail block and watering contraption near the sliding glass door so the cats could watch critters feeding.

These were taken through the door. Not the best approach, but it was all I had.

Dining Alone 7-13-17Breakfast with friends 7-13-17Critters 3 7-12-17Critters 1 cropped 7-12-17

This morning, I tried taking the yoga mat to the patio, setting the camera up on the mini tripod, and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. No diners.

I’m reading Eric Clapton’s autobiography. Because Eric battled alcoholism, drug addiction and had a toddler son die after falling out a window, I figured the book would be interesting. He’s a great blues guitarist, but he’s not much of a writer. The book badly needs an editor.

The cognitive problems are less, but still evident. Several weeks ago while making a pair of earrings using Swarovski crystals, I dropped a crystal snail. I searched. Jim searched. No snail. Earlier this week, I was searching for a sewing pattern and found the crystal. It was stuck between boxes of patterns. I put the crystal on the cutting table thinking that I should put it with my beads. I really should have, because I lost it again. I found it on the floor yesterday when I was ironing 4 yards of fabric I had washed. All fabric goes through the washer and dryer before I do anything with it. If it’s going to shrink, I want the shrinking done before I cut into the fabric.

Jim picked out a pattern for pajama bottoms and boxers. He needed pajama bottoms, so I dug into the stash and made a pair.

Jim's PJs 7-14-17Fly Detail

I had some tension issues. It may be time to take the machine in for a deep cleaning and tune up.

The crotch depth was too deep, but they are pajama bottoms so he’s willing to wear them. I adjusted the crotch depth for the boxers. Crotch adjustments are tricky because a tiny adjustment makes a huge difference. I guessed right, and the boxers have the right crotch depth. I used leftover fabric for the boxers. The original yardage I used to make a blouse.

Jim's boxers 7-14-17Fly detail 7-14-17

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

If you’re looking for a gift for yourself or someone special, please stop by my on-line store Deb Thuman Art.

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.