Posted in Baking, Fiber, Photography, Quilts, Sciatica

Dangerous Time

I think I might be seeing a glimmer of light hinting the end of the tunnel is closer than I thought. A couple weeks ago, I tried to sew a quilted tote bag and made about every mistake that could be made. I forgot how to thread my machine. I forgot how to attach the free-motion quilting foot. I finally remembered I had to lower the feed dogs, and then couldn’t remember where the button that raises and lowers the feed dogs is located. 

One of my quilting friends commented that sewing is like riding a bicycle and my sewing skills will return. With that in mind, I decided to make something simple. I checked JoAnn’s on line to see what size pillow forms they carried. I chose to make a pillow cover to cover a 24” x 24” pillow. I love the fence rail quilt pattern. It’s simple, has no tricky seams, and I like the way it looks. I pulled two pieces of fabric out of my stash, and they worked perfectly together. Usually, I have to spend a few hours trying to figure out what fabrics I want to use. I’ve sewn the blocks together. I need to cut batting and backing, quilt it, attach two pieces of fabric to form backing, and it will be done. Then I have to buy a pillow form. 

The colors aren’t accurate. The green is more intense in real life.

I also like the churn dash pattern and I’m thinking I’ll use that for a pillow cover when I finish this one. 

My chiropractor explained that something I can do today isn’t necessarily something I can do tomorrow. I took the last week off from school. When I went to classes the Monday before, I had pain towards the end of the day. On Wednesday, the pain was worse. On Thursday, I came to my senses and decided I needed to heal for another week. Thank God the grades in my classes don’t matter. I’m not going towards another degree; I’m taking classes that interest me. In part it’s for the joy of learning, in part it’s to keep my brain working. Jim works at the university and I can take up to 6 credits a semester for free. Free fits into my budget and being retired, I have the entire week free to fill with school. I’ll go to classes on Monday and see how I feel. It’s tough to find the spot between doing nothing and doing too much. I know if I do nothing, I won’t heal. 

If I have to use a walker for another month or so, I need a more practical walker. I now have a 4-wheel drive Rollator with a seat and a basket. It’s going to be easier for me to get around school with four wheels rather than two. The wheels are bigger than the ones on the first walker. That should help me avoid many of the death traps plaguing sidewalks and parking lots. 

I’m now at the critically dangerous stage of healing. I’m tired of using a walker. I want to be independent. I want to be able to do the things I could do a couple months ago. And so I push myself and relapse. I’ll be back at school next week, and I’m planning on going to the gym. I’ll push my walker through the gym and I’ll only work on upper body. If I’m feeling particularly brave (or being particularly stupid), I’ll lower the weights and work on my legs. 

I bought a bunny cake pan. The pan makes 6 little bunny cakes. Three poses, and two bunnies for each pose. But I can’t stand long enough to bake. So Jim made the little cakes using King Arthur Flour vanilla pound cake recipe. If you’re making little cakes, they will bake in less time than a big cake. This makes sense, but my psych meds are still messing with my cognitive ability. And so the bunnies were a tad over done on the edges. But they tasted good and they are cute. 

The bunnies…

And the pan…

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

If you’re looking for one of a kind art, please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com.

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Sciatica

A Dangerous Time

I have entered The Dangerous Time in my recovery from an angry sciatic nerve. I feel good. The pain is nearly non-existent. I think I can do things. Like walk through the grocery store. That walk is what started the relapse. I had some pain on Monday as I pushed my walker from one class to the next. I had more pain on Wednesday as I pushed my walker from one class to the next. I won’t be doing any more pushing for a while because I’m taking another week off from school. I don’t like doing that, but I really, really, really don’t like the idea of having to push this walker around for a few more months. This was week 5. According to the articles I’ve seen, sciatica is supposed to clear up in 6 weeks. That’s not going to happen . Yes, I have had this conversation with my sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve isn’t paying attention to me. 

I broke down and ordered a new walker. Buying a walker is not the best time to be economy minded. My current walker has 6” wheels on the front legs and end caps on the back legs. It’s not designed for use on pavement. What I ordered has four 7.5” wheels, hand brakes, a seat and a nifty basket under the seat. I’m thinking that the larger wheels will help avoid the death traps on the sidewalks and pavement. The smaller wheels on my current walker would get stuck in the sidewalk joins and in low spots on irregular pavement. The campus is rife with death traps. The seat will allow me to move baking ingredients from the pantry to the counter. I doubt I’ll ever sit on the seat, but I wanted a seat so I could put stuff on it rather than try to push a walker while holding something in my hand. I suspect I’ll need to use the walker for at least another month.

I discovered a leftover from the cognitive deficits that were part of the withdrawal from Cymbalta. I tried sewing, and couldn’t remember basic things. Like how to thread my machine. How to attach the free motion quilting foot. I forgot I needed to lower the feed dogs when I quilted. I forgot where the button is to lower the feed dogs. As a result, I made a quilted tote bag filled with technical errors. I always cut the batting and backing larger than what will be the top side of the quilt. Not this time. I cut the batting too short and too narrow. I had to diddle around joining additional pieces of batting to what I had cut out. The backing was also too narrow. I had to sew a strip onto the backing. I wanted to do a pillowcase type quilt. Sew all three layers together leaving a hole on one end, pull the inside of the bag out through the hole, and sew the hole closed. Ta da! No binding needed. I sewed the seam too narrow in spots and the backing didn’t get caught in the stitching. I did a row of top stitching around the quilt to fix that problem. Except it didn’t fix it. Deciding I wasn’t about to go crazy making this quilted tote bag, I left the gaps. I folded the quilt in half, sewed up the sides and proclaimed it finished. No, there will not be photos. I really don’t want something this filled with errors on the internet. Yes, I will use the tote bag. It’s a tote bag – not an art piece.

I get to find out in the coming week if my sewing brain has returned. When we were on vacation last August, I bought patterns for quilted purses and a quilted wallet. Last week, I bought a pattern for a quilted messenger bag. I was having a minor manic episode and that’s about the extent of my shopping spree. That and the bunny cake pan which makes six little bunny cakes. It is beyond cute. Manic episodes are supposed to be when those with bipolar disorder spend vast sums of money. I’m always careful when I’m manic and my spending sprees are limited to about $100.00. The other part of my manic episodes is culinary. I bake. I cook. I make home made pasta. The bunny cake pan hasn’t arrived yet and I’m looking forward to making little pound cake bunnies when the pan arrives. Yes, there will be bunny cake photos.

I decided to make the quilted wallet first and the messenger bag after that. The wallet has a long strap on it so it can be used as a mini purse. This is a great idea. When I’m at school, I put my wallet, credit card case, and assorted purse stuff in the backpack. If I want to go someplace after school, I need to move purse stuff from the backpack to my purse. I’m thinking that a wallet with a strap could double for a purse when I want to go somewhere after class.

I’ve had a lack of ambition lately, and I think maybe making art will pop me out of the blahs. It’s worth a try.

I’m finally able to stand long enough to block and photograph scarves. Being confined to the couch is conducive to knitting. I’m now playing with cotton yarn that I hand dyed. First, I knit some of the yarn. Then I dye the yarn. Then I unravel the yarn and get a mottled effect. I think there’s more life in yarn that isn’t a solid dye.

Hand dyed cotton scarf.
Playing with cables
Working on designing lace patterns.
Closeup of lace pattern

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

If you are looking for one of a kind art pieces, please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art,www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Fiber, Pain, Psych meds

98% Of The World Is Not Accessible

If you have ever wondered just how accessible the world is, try getting into and out of a restroom without using your hands. Putting a blue sign outside a restroom does not make the restroom accessible. There is only ONE restroom I can use on the entire New Mexico State University campus. It’s on the first floor of Foster Hall. The handicap entrance to Foster Hall is on the second floor. I have to be careful how much water I drink and when I drink it. It can be a long walk to the only restroom that has a door opener. 

Sidewalks are death traps. Expansion joins that have moved will stop the walker’s wheels. Then I try not to go flying over the top of the walker. Elevators are death traps. There’s a gap between the elevator and the building. That gap also stops wheels. Area rugs are death traps. Try wheeling over the edge. The rug lifts up and refuses to lie flat. Throw rugs are death traps. They are worse than area rugs. Construction zones are death traps. A main road on campus is torn up. There’s an 8” drop to the exposed dirt that used to be under the pavement. I’m not supposed to try to use the walker on stairs. Getting across that road was a near death experience. 

For some reason, the handicapped entrances for buildings on campus are the farthest from the sidewalk. Go to the college book store? Nope. The parking lot is on one side of the building and the handicap entrance is on the other side. The curb cutout for the sidewalk that will take me around the building is on the far end. I’d have to wheel myself across the parking lot, walk along the entrance to the bookstore, walk down the side of the bookstore, turn the corner, and there’s the handy handicap entrance. 

I got a cup holder for my walker. That allows me to bring tea from the kitchen to the office. I have to put the tea in a travel mug, but at least I can have tea. I thought the cup holder would allow me to go to Starbucks by myself. I could order my drink, put it in my cup holder, and wheel myself to the table. That works if the Starbucks isn’t crowded. Not that Starbucks has a door opener. I’d have to wait for someone to come along and open the door for me. The never crowded Starbucks is on a road that has been ripped up for the last year. It’s quite the driving experience. That’s why that Starbucks is never crowded. I tried going to Starbucks without my walker. My leg feels better and I can walk short distances without the walker. I discovered that I can’t stand long enough to get my drink. I was in pain by the time I could hobble to the table. I had an hour in which I could drink my mocha and hope my leg recovered enough to get out of Starbucks. Fortunately, I could get back to my car. 

I wanted to go to Sprouts, a wonderful grocery store here. It’s got the best produce, a large organic produce section, and a large selection of fruit. Except I can’t push my walker and a cart at the same time. Yes, they have the little motorized things for people who have difficulty walking. I need the walker to get from the car to the store entrance. So what do I do with the walker if I use the motorized thing?

Taking the shuttle bus from the free parking lot to near where I have a class is…..interesting. The newer busses have a ramp that unfurls and makes it easy to roll onto the bus. The older busses have lifts. The bus this morning had a broken lift. My choices were: try to get up steep stairs (not in this lifetime) or wait for the next bus. I waited. Frequently, I have to tell the driver to unfurl the ramp. No, I can’t jump from the sidewalk to the bus while pushing a walker. 

I had a botany lab this morning. The lab isn’t designed for a walker. I managed to get around without the walker catching on a cord and knocking a microscope off the table. Getting prepared slides was easy. Prepared slides have the specimen and the cover slip permanently glued to the slide.  I got the slide, put it in my pocket, and wheeled my way back to my table. A slide I prepare by cutting a thin piece of fruit, putting it on a slide, adding a drop of water and putting a cover slip over the wet fruit required imagination to move from the counter to my table. Which is across the room. The ability to hold onto a slide and the walker simultaneously is a useful skill. I managed. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. 

This week, my leg is significantly less painful. I can take a shower standing up. I can get from the living room to the bathroom without using the walker. No, I can’t ditch the walker. I’ve tried. And regretted it each time when the pain returns. 

Three weeks down, three to go. I will be bitching a whole lot for the next three weeks. 

My psych meds have been tweaked so I can avoid serious depressive episodes. Last week, I had brain fog. This week, the fog is gone but I’m having a hard time remembering how to do things.

I finished another scarf. And I can’t stand long enough to block it and photograph it. And so it won’t go in my store for a while.

Having exhausted my supply of Shawl In A Cake yarns, I got out my hand dyed yarns. I did the hand dyeing. I knit a length of what looks like a scarf. Then I dye the length of what looks like a scarf. This requires measuring water, salt, dye and fixative and taking the bucket out to the back yard. Put the length of what looks like a scarf into the bucket and wait. Eventually, fetch the length of what looks like a scarf, rinse it, wash it, and let it dry. Then, I unravel the length of what looks like a scarf and wind it into a ball. 

I worked out a lace pattern and I’m now knitting a for real scarf with one of my hand dyed yarns. Yes, this scarf will be priced accordingly. 

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

Looking for cool, one of a kind fiber art or jewelry? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Fiber, Pain, PTSD, Sciatica

Some days, I just don’t feel like slaying dragons.

I can’t tell if I’m depressed or just royally pissed off. The muscles around my hips got tight enough to effect the sciatic nerve. I can’t get around without using a walker. I can’t take my vitamins because they are in a cupboard and I can’t reach them. I can get a glass out of the cupboard, but I can’t carry the glass to the sink to fill it with water. I can’t bring a drink from the kitchen to any part of the house because I need both hands to use the walker. My cupholder for the walker will arrive in a few days. 

I didn’t go to school last week because I was waiting for my walker to be delivered. I won’t be going to school this week because about 98% of the buildings are inaccessible. I only know of one restroom that’s accessible. There’s an office set up to “help” accommodate students who have disabilities. Yeah, right. The office is only to protect the university in the event of a lawsuit. Even if the office actually gave a shit about students, they couldn’t help me. I’d need someone with me all day to open doors for me. The someone would have to be a woman so I could use the restroom. The restroom by my first class has two doors. One door gets you into a sitting room. The second door gets you into where the toilets are. There isn’t a handicap stall so I would be forced to use the toilet with the stall door open.

I’ve been working on a bag to tie onto the walker so I could carry stuff. I used three placemats piled onto my cutting mat so I could iron the seams. I am not sure I can put the bag together. I need to cut out a backing, cut out batting, and sew the whole works together. But…the batting is not in the sewing room. It’s in the guest room. I bought 10 yards a few years ago so I’d always have batting when I needed it. I can’t lug the batting to the sewing room because I need two hands on the walker. I can only walk a few steps without the walker. Cutting out an 18” x 36” piece of fabric requires standing up. I can only stand on my own for a minute or two before the pain in my leg becomes unbearable.

I need to photograph a scarf I knitted so I can put the scarf in my on-line store. But I can’t get the white board out of the closet and get it over to the sliding glass door and I can’t stand up while I focus the camera. This is the best I can do…and it’s not very good.

So much of my life right now is restricted. I see the world in terms of what I can’t do. I can’t make the bed. I can’t change the sheets. I can’t do laundry. I can’t put away my clothes after Jim washes them. I can’t stand while brushing my teeth or blowing my hair dry. I can’t bake because I can’t get the mixer or the ingredients out of the pantry.

My appointment with my doctor arrived before my walker was delivered. I got as far as the reception area where I could check in and doubled over from the pain. I think I may have traumatized the poor woman who asked if I was all right. No, I’m not all right. She offered to get me a wheelchair. Did you know that driving a wheelchair is a whole lot harder than it looks? I found that out real fast.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I found videos on Youtube for exercises to help with the pain of sciatica. The exercises work. I had a deep tissue massage yesterday and that helped. I have rice bags that I made. I put them in the microwave, then wrap the hot bags in a dishtowel. I put the bags under my right hip and right calf. That helps. I thought when we had the house built that a ledge in the shower was luxury. I thought it would only be used when I shave my legs. Now, I sit on that luxurious ledge in order to take a shower. Jim put a chair in the bathroom so I could brush my teeth and dry my hair.

Still, even with all the help, I can’t do so many things. I can’t fix myself a cup of tea and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t fix myself a bagel and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t cook because I can’t get ingredients out of the pantry. I can’t open a can of soup and nuke it. I can get up to nuking it if I can reach the proper size container, but I can’t carry my soup to the table.

This misery came about after two major depressive episodes within three weeks. The pain started last Sunday and got worse over the next few days. My doctor tweaked my meds with the hope that the new doses will keep the depressive episodes away.

I never let bipolar disorder or PTSD stop me from doing what I want to do. I almost never run from my PTSD triggers. The two exceptions are a series on Amazon Prime that deals with treatment of veterans who have PTSD. I could see a problem starting as we watched the show. Fortunately, the show sucked and we switched the channel before I had an attack. The other time I ran was watching the news. I couldn’t bear to hear a teenager express her admiration of her parents because they got her help when she was suicidal. I had to mute the TV.

I’ve never run from bipolar disorder.

Mental illness never kept me down. My sciatic nerve is keeping me from doing nearly all the things I want to do. 

That’s why I don’t feel like slaying dragons today.

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

Looking for one of a kind art? Please stop by my store Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Fiber, Grief, Suicide

Feeling Better, still…upset? Sad? Angry?

I’m still woking my way to understanding and sanity. I’ve written more conversations that I’ll never say out loud and that no one will ever read. Maybe. Someday. Right now, the feelings are still too raw. 

I’m closer to center, and I feel…solid. Like being centered is going to stay. Bipolar disorder is a lifetime full of mood surprises. I’ve no idea how long this solid feeling center will last. I do know that it won’t last. Sooner or late, I’ll have another mood surprise.

I did a google search to find a way to make sense of suicide and came across this site:https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900

It’s from the Mayo Clinic and I trust this website to have decent information. There’s a whole lot of inaccurate junk on the internet. So much of what is described in the article is an accurate description of what I felt and continue to feel. I’m troubled by the knowledge that I was brought back from the edge of suicide by a thin thread. Depending on your theology, this was either pure luck or divine intervention. Jim and I went hiking and I suddenly felt good. When we got home, the good feeling left and I realized I was depressed. I went on antidepressants immediately. I had no idea I was depressed. Yeah, right, Deb. How the heck can you be suicidal and not know you’re depressed. It’s easy. And that terrifies me. At the time I was aware that I was having a manic episode. I wasn’t aware I was having a mixed episode where both intense mania and intense depression coexist. Why am I allowed to continue life and John wasn’t? I want the world to make sense, and the world doesn’t make sense. The world has never made sense and will never make sense. I read murder mysteries and watch TV police dramas even though I know the shows are inaccurate. The world makes sense in murder mysteries and on television. Innocent people don’t go to prison in novels. Innocent people go to prison in courtrooms every day.

My world doesn’t make sense and I can’t figure out how to make the world make sense. And so I knit. And bake. This week, I made puff pastry. Um…..I’m not wild about puff pastry. I suppose it has its uses, but I don’t care for it.

I’ve made another scarf and bought yarn for four more scarves. So far, I’ve made 11 scarves and sold 5 of them. This one is listed in my store Deb Thuman Artwww.debthumanart.com

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

Posted in Fiber

A Bit of Shameless Self Promotion

Art heals. The day before Thanksgiving, I started having breakthrough bleeding. I’m well past menopause and I knew this was serious. I did the research. I knew the incidence of cancer for each of four typed of hyperplasia. I was terrified enough that even after 40 years of insisting I’d never see another male gynecologist, I agreed to see a male gynecologist. I would have been put on a waiting list if I had insisted on a woman gynecologist. On December 20, I had a biopsy. Although I had two indicators and four risk factors for uterine cancer, the cheap bean counters at my HMO waited until December 19 to authorize the biopsy. On December 28, I learned I didn’t have cancer. On January 20, I finally stopped bleeding.

Through all that, I chose to knit. And knit. And knit. So far, I’ve finished 8 scarves and sold 2. Knitting helped.

Last week, I went to a funeral. He had committed suicide. I bought three more balls of yarn.

I have an online store, and I’ve put the finished scarves in my online store Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com

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

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.

img_9234img_9233img_9232img_9231img_9230img_9229img_9228img_9227

Here is my current scarf project.

img_9226img_9225

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, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Psych meds

Withdrawal Sucks

I had read about how getting off Cymbalta is hell. I thought people were overstating it. Turns out, they were right. Getting off Cymbalta is hell. I’ve now gone through 8 weeks of withdrawal, and I’m not done. I had a couple weeks where the cognitive deficits were bad enough that they mimicked dementia. Dementia feels terrifying. Although I walk from the parking lot to my class, three days I turned down the wrong street and had to scramble to figure out where I was. One night, I had a hard time finding the street on which I live. And I’ve lived on this street for 17 years. Last Sunday, my brain started to feel better. I had five good days before I had a withdrawal relapse. This time, I had vertigo followed by “flu-like symptoms.” Today, I feel good again although I have to slow down, sit and think, before I can remember something I did – like where did I put my water bottle.

I’ve been sewing.

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I used the Slouchy Tee Shirt Blouse patter from Hotpatterns. You can find the pattern here.

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The pattern calls for a rib knit cuff, but I don’t care for rib knit cuffs. The ribbing always wears out and looks nasty. The point of sewing your own clothes is so that you can have what you want. I folded the sleeve in half and added a button hole. Then I sewed on a button, and the opening at end of the sleeve is now comfortably small. You may have noticed the buttons are different. My blouse, my buttons. A friend sent me about 20 pounds of buttons, and I couldn’t find two of either of these so I decided to use the two I could find.

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I wanted to make holiday earrings but didn’t want to make earrings that screamed CHRISTMAS!!!! Angels can be worn all year long. These two pair, along with other cool stuff is in my store.

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

If you’re looking for angel earrings (or other cool stuff), please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Fiber

A Different Halloween Costume

My animal physiology teacher said we could come to class in costume on Tuesday if the costume had something to do with animal physiology. My costume is a mitochondria quilt.

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We learned that both sides of the lipid bilayer don’t have to match, so I embroidered each side in a different color thread. There are pores and ion channels in the lipid bilayer, so I used beads to represent them.

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My quilts the past couple years have been autobiographical. Mitochondrial DNA is used to trace a person’s ancestry back several thousand years by determining the hapolog. Mine is U3b. The Hebrew letters dalet and lamed are my initials and it’s how I sign my artwork. By Jewish tradition, if your mother is Jewish, you’re Jewish. That has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with pograms.

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Now, I need to figure out how I’m going to quilt it. I have considered swirly lines to show the liquid cytoplasm in the background. I’ve considered quilting “K” in several places on the background. I have a potassium deficiency which contributes to the peripheral neuropathy and K is the symbol for potassium. I’ve considered just doing meandering quilting.

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

If you’re looking for a great gift for yourself or a loved one, please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Fiber, Quilts

Getting Back My Desire To Make Art

Although Cymbalta sucked all the joy out of life, I have managed to do a tiny bit of art. When I realized that I had no desire to go to class, no desire to read, no desire to do my homework and, most telling, no desire to make art, I knew it was time to come off Cymbalta. I’m now going through withdrawal. Withdrawal sucks. If I were coming off heroin, I’d puke and poop for three days and be done. With psych meds, it’s a minimum of 6 weeks of misery and I’ve had withdrawal last as long as 12 weeks. So for the duration, I’ll be having hot flashes, balance problems, daily surprises. Like the surprise I got yesterday when I woke up, sat up, and watched the room spin. Clockwise. I’m in the northern hemisphere so rooms only spin clockwise.

Anyway, I did manage to make some boxers. I took leftover fabric and cut out legs. If there was enough fabric for both legs to match, that’s what I did. If not enough fabric for both legs but enough fabric for one leg, then there’s a leg of this and a leg of that.

The first pair, I made some mistakes because I had forgotten how to put the boxers together. I got better with each pair, and now I can’t remember what I did so I get to go through the learning curve yet again when I start using up leftover fabric for boxers for Jim.

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You can see the mistake if you look closely.

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Of course I had to use my fancy stitches.

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I wasn’t trying to match the print. If I had tried, it wouldn’t have matched.

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For the first time in a long time, I want to make art. I’m working on finishing up the nerve regeneration quilt and I’ve got a mitochondria quilt designed. I need to pick out fabric for that quilt.

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

Looking for art to buy? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Clay, Fiber, Pottery, Quilts

Bring Back The Original Asylum

I’ve been thinking about the Buffalo Psychiatric Center which was originally known as the NYS Asylum.

The original purpose of the asylum was to give those with a mental illness a calm place in which to heal. New therapies were used. Patients were allowed to work on the farm and in gardens. They were allowed access to the library. They were encouraged to create useful things via weaving and woodworking. The halls were wide and the windows large. Patients were discouraged from staying in their rooms and encouraged to interact with other patients by sitting in the chairs lining the hallways and chatting. It was thought fresh air and sunshine would be a benefit and there were verandas where patients could sit outside. The purpose of the asylum was to cure patients so they could return to their families.

Eventually, the asylum turned into hell. A good portion of the land was taken over and became the campus of Buffalo State College. The farm was gone. Crafts were gone. Inmates were housed in the hallways because the facility that was designed for 600 patients suddenly had 3000 patients. Patients were tied to their beds, confined in ice baths, given insulin treatment, given electric shock treatment, given lobotomies. Inmates were dumped into what was called the Buffalo Psychiatric Center and forgotten about. No one was cured. Everyone was warehoused, mistreated, and likely over medicated. Nothing like Thorazine to keep the tortured inmates docile.

Now, we know that damage to the hippocampus – the part of the brain that is damaged when the brain’s owner suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – can be healed. The damaged neurons in the hippocampus can regenerate and heal. We know that regeneration is triggered by learning something new – such as how to manage a farm and by creativity such as weaving cloth or making items from wood. We know that fresh air and sunshine is beneficial. We know that being social is beneficial and an antidote to depression. We know that lobotomies did harm and never helped. We know that electric shock treatment was horribly overused and had little effect. We know that confining someone to an ice water bath is torture.

Can mental illness be cured? I think so. I think so even though I take a mood stabilizer and an anti-depressant every day and likely will always need to take psych meds. I believe the bipolar disorder can be tempered to the point where I need significantly lower doses.

I am going through withdrawal because I need to come off cymbalta. The drug was sucking the joy out of my life. I didn’t feel like going to class. I didn’t feel like doing any reading. I didn’t feel like doing my homework. Most telling, I didn’t feel like making art. I cannot and will not live in a joyless world.

I felt bad enough one morning that I considered going to the hospital and asking to be admitted to the psych ward. While considering my options, I remembered the two psychiatrists I was forced to see – both of whom insisted that I take more drugs and higher doses. I don’t need more drugs now; I need fewer drugs. And so I didn’t go to the hospital.

Choices for those of us living with a mental illness shouldn’t consist of misery of the illness or in the alternative, misery of treating the illness and being told there’s nothing anyone can do for us besides feed us more drugs.

For the first time in months, I want to make art. I’ve got designs for two quilts worked out. One is based on an exercise done in a drawing class. I model for the art department and I get to sit in on critiques. As I learned about the drawing assignment and listened to the comments made about each drawing, a quilt started to form in my head. Yesterday, my animal physiology teacher mentioned we could come to class on 10/30 dressed in an animal physiology theme costume. Got a dandy quilt in my head for that day. I’ve also got to figure out how to do the final quilting on the nerve regeneration quilt. This weekend, I’ll do a glaze firing and maybe even make for little ceramic trays.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

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

Posted in Fiber

I needed a caftan

I wanted to make a caftan, but things didn’t work out as planned. First, I discovered my commercial pattern was for a size way larger than me. I couldn’t find a pattern for what I wanted. So I went online and found free caftan patterns. Still not what I wanted.

I took a pattern that wasn’t too bad, and started to tinker. I didn’t want just a rectangle with arm holes and a neck opening. I borrowed a bit from a free kimono pattern I had. I left 9″ for the sleeves, and removed 4″ from each side below the sleeve. I used a French curve to put in an 8″ x 5″ neck opening in the front and a 5″ x 2″ opening in the back.

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The caftan is ankle length. If I make another one, I’ll make the sleeves a bit deeper and take in the sides a bit more. I also will make the neck opening deeper.

Still, it’s easy to wear and comfortable.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

Interested in seeing some great art? Please checkout my online store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

Posted in Fiber

What if………

When I was a kid, all girls had to take home ec. All boys had to take shop. No exceptions Any girl who wanted to learn how to fix a car or weld was out of luck. Any boy who wanted to learn to cook or sew was out of luck. Then along came Title IX, and we got some really good things – athletic scholarships for women, equal educational opportunities for women. Women, like me, went to law school or medical school. Men could become chefs or tailors without anyone questioning their sexual orientation. All good stuff.

But there is some bad stuff. No shop classes. No home ec classes. None trained in building trades. None trained in couture.

I was in Victoria’s Secret recently. I hadn’t been there in 18 years and I was shocked. Where are the pretty camisoles? Where is the silk lingerie? Instead, I saw cheap polyester, badly sewn items, serged hems rather than a rolled hem, straps attached to lace in such an incompetent manner that the straps were guaranteed to come apart from the lace. One style of panty had no elastic at the waist or the leg openings. Just unfinished edges. Victoria Secret prices for quality that isn’t even up to Walmart standards. If I want crappy underwear, I certainly don’t need to pay exorbitant prices.

I caught part of a PBS show about Donegal, Ireland. One segment was about a man who is the last weaver. There were blazers for sale in his shop and I could see the skilled tailoring just from looking at how the sleeve was attached to the body of the blazer.

Garments sold in the US are made in the Mariana Islands (so they can carry a “made in USA” label), Vietnam, and other Asian countries. The garments are badly sewn and the fabric thin and poor quality. People buy this junk because they don’t know better. They have no idea what a well-sewn garment looks like.

So lets have a quiet revolution. Any student can take a shop class. Any student can take a home ec class. Any student can learn building trades. Any student can study plumbing, electrical wiring or carpentry. Let’s learn what quality looks like. Let’s learn how to produce quality items. Let’s leave the crappy underwear on the racks at Victoria’s Secret. Let’s leave the badly sewn garments on the racks. Let’s learn to do for ourselves.

I’ve been learning my Pfaff Quilt Expressions 4.2 and making all sorts of garments.

Undies.

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Jim’s shirts. I haven’t put the buttons on them yet. Shirt 1 7-22-18Shirt 1 detail 7-22-18Shirt 2 7-22-18Shirt 2 detailShirt 3 7-22-18Shirt 4 7022018Shirt 4 detail 7-22-18

 

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Another scrub top  for me.

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A blouse for me.

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I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

Looking for a well-made gift? Please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.