Posted in Cognitive problems, Fiber, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Getting My Brain Back

I’m still working on remembering how to sew. So far, I’ve gotten two pillow covers quilted, and it has been quite an experience. I couldn’t remember how to fix some common free motion quilting mistakes so I spent time on YouTube looking for advice on how to do free motion quilting. I had forgotten about tension and how to correct the tension based on what kind of problem I was having. I needed to lower the tension more than one number. Plus, I needed to work on keeping a steady needle speed and quilt movement speed. Some parts of the two pillow covers I’ve quilted are better than other parts. 

For the first pillow cover, I fused the top to the batting. That was a mistake. The Wunder Under life span has been exceeded and the fusing material doesn’t fuse all that well. The top had and still has, puckers. A friend on the Quiltart Facebook page suggested making my own fusible spray from water, flour, and alcohol. I haven’t made this concoction yet, but I like the idea of using simple ingredients and formulating an adhesive that not only doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals, but can be completely washed out after quilting. Instructions to make this adhesive are here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVRrFGFXXfc.

For the second pillow cover, I pinned the layers using long, straight pins. That was an improvement. I haven’t started the third pillow cover. 

I don’t recall using more than one color thread for any quilted piece before. Not finding one color thread that worked, I used a different color on each part of each piece. That was feasible for the churn dash and fence rail designs. That’s not an option on the variant of log cabin cover. Never having been much good at free motion quilting, I will use the log cabin variant to work out at least one new to me design. 

These pillow covers were never meant to be great art or even mediocre art. They are meant to help me recapture my sewing skills. I won’t try sewing a garment until my sewing skills are recovered.

PhotoScape X is a free photo editing app for Mac, and it has just been upgraded. To celebrate, I took what I thought was a boring photo to play with and see what new things the app will do. Once I started playing, that boring photo got interesting. The original photo is a shot of a lace knitting pattern chart. 

One of the members of the Digital Photography School Facebook page wrote about learning to see the entire surrounding area to find the best location for a given shot. I looked up photos of the pyramid at the Lourve and got to see the same photo done about a hundred times. No one, or at least no one who posted a photo, bothered to think about how to shoot the pyramid differently. The main pyramid has an opening at the bottom that can be walked through. I think it would be interesting to take a shot of the inside of the pyramid while flat on the ground and shooting upwards. The Lourve is a huge building loaded with architectural accoutrements. Taking a shot showing the entire building or one “leg” of the building loses all of the accoutrements. I’d like to take shots of individual accoutrements. No one who posted did. Or maybe I was looking in the wrong place. 

Neuropathy flare ups, like the one I’m having now, suck. I get to sleep for 2-3 hours before being awakened by pain. Yesterday, the pain only got down to ignorable after having the TENS unit connected for eight hours. I got maybe three hours sleep. I took a gabapentin. Didn’t help. I took CBD oil. Didn’t help. I tried virtual reality. Didn’t help. 

Tonight, pain woke me after two and a half hours sleep. I’m trying art this time and hoping writing this will make the pain disappear. Yesterday, I read an article in the New York Times that made me wonder about the correlation between free radicals and nerve damage. I found an article from 2003 online describing such a correlation. Why didn’t any of the eight neurologists I saw mention this correlation? Seven of the neurologists worked in medical schools where research is financed by drug companies. The focus is on handing out prescriptions for useless drugs. The other neurologist had every drug company freebie available adorning the walls of his office. His solution was to try to get me to take Lyrica. If you watch the commercials closely, you will discover that even the manufacturer admits Lyrica doesn’t work. 

Nerves regenerate. The regeneration is slow, but it does happen. So why are neurologists so focused on handing out prescriptions and ignoring the questions I asked? Could it be because funding for research is the child of drug companies so treatment is focused on handing out drugs? So often when I saw a neurologist I found myself wondering if I were the only person in the room who had taken cell biology in college. One day, I realized I really was the only one in the room who had taken cell biology in college. Sometimes, modern medicine is scary.

I haven’t finished reading the article on research of the correlation between free radicals and nerve damage. Once I finish the article, I’ll start looking more at foods and supplements that remove many of the free radicals. Three of the foods I’ve found so far are three of my favorite foods: chocolate, strawberries and beets. 

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

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

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

An Assortment Of Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hate Mothers’ Day. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Fiber, Photography, Quilts, Sciatica

Way too old, and I’m way to young

This sciatic problem is getting old. Really old. I’ve just finished Week 9 of a problem that was supposed to be gone after 6 weeks. I am not old enough to be this old. Yesterday, I felt really good and decided I’d go to the gym today. I couldn’t go yesterday because I saw my chiropractor and I can’t work out with weights after getting adjusted. This morning, I had pain. So much for the gym. I did yoga instead. I’d like to have a bolster to use when I do yoga. I’m not about to buy what I can make so I’ve been looking for bolster forms. I guess there aren’t all that many people making bolster pillows because there’s little choice in bolster forms. I’ll keep looking. 

My laptop is 5 years old, which is ancient in computer years. For some reason, the E key is starting to stick. Not all the time, just about half the time. I don’t want to buy a new laptop at the moment. And no, my iPad won’t replace the laptop. Whatever else Steve Jobs was, he wasn’t stupid. Make sure none of the parts can replace any other part and people will keep buying Apple products. Reminds me of Bernina where the feet for one machine won’t fit on another Bernina machine. The iPad and iPhone and iPods are all Apple. They almost talk to each other. The photo editing program I have is for Apple. It won’t run on windows. So switching to another brand of laptop isn’t going to help much. Plus, Apple is nearly virus free. Not completely free, but a whole lot better than windows which seems to attract viruses. I keep wanting to upgrade my camera, but the photography fund keeps getting used for something else. The first year, I had a stalker and needed to buy a security system. The second year, my 14-year-old sewing machine crapped out in the middle of a project. I had to buy a new sewing machine. The Canon Rebel T3i is an antique, but it’s still working. So I spend the photography fund on what I need rather than on what I want. 

I belong to the Digital Photography School Facebook page. Each week, there’s a photography challenge. This week, the challenge was dogs. No one specified what kind of dog. 

I could have sworn I had removed all the lint from the feed dogs. I use a small vacuum cleaner to vacuum up any lint in the machine when I’m done sewing.

Here’s the third quilted pillow cover block. I couldn’t get all of it in one photo. I had wanted to make a different log cabin variant, but I made a mistake when I was cutting fabric into strips. Design is what happens when you put the quilt block together “wrong.” I like how this worked out. 

The two photos should give you an idea of what I’ve got sewn together.

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 www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Photography, Quilts, Sciatica

Baking, Quilting, and Hard Decisions

Someday, I’ll be able to bake again. I’m still having sciatic nerve problems. I start feeling really good, then I push myself and set myself back. The baking I like to do, cakes, cookies, croissants, requires standing at the counter for longer than I can stand right now. Between now and someday, Jim is doing the baking. Today he made two different kinds of pound cakes. The bunnies and shamrocks are lemon flavored, and the one done in a standard bundt pan is orange and raspberry flavored. Jim makes really good pound cake and his flavor experiments are right tasty. And he likes to bake so I might never get my kitchen back. Too bad neither of us likes to cook meals. 

I’ve been working on quilted pillow tops using traditional quilt patterns. I’m still having some cognitive problems and I’m hoping that by using tradition, simple patterns I can get all my sewing skills back. At least now I can remember how to thread the machine and how to lower the feed dogs. 

I chose to use a log cabin variant. This was supposed to be a bento box pattern, but I made the first square wrong. Design is what happens when you put the square together wrong. And when you run out of fabric. 

I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out and I’m ecstatic that nearly all the seams lined up right. I did something a bit different with this photo. I calibrated the camera using a medium gray card for my custom white balance. The colors in this one are pretty accurate. 

Because the last time I tried a quilted project and had problems with cutting the batting out too small, I decided I’d lay out the quilt blocks on the batting, put painter’s tape around each block, and I’ll cut between the tapes. This should give me a extra 1”  around each block. A few years back, JoAnn’s had a sale on batting sold by the yard. It was half price so I bought 10 yards. It’s a bugger to roll out and get the batting to lie flat. I have been doing this on the floor. I had to lock Tinker in the office so he wouldn’t “help” me. I let him out when I took the photo. 

We’ve got ceramic tile through most of the house, and I was crawling around on my hands and knees. I didn’t feel anything indicating I was causing myself a problem while I was crawling around. The problem became apparent when I stood up. Lower back pain and I had to use my walker most of the time. I have a yoga video with a special section for poses while my back heals. I did the poses and felt better immediately. 

I made a hard decision to forgo the last two weeks of classes and final exams. I tried twice to come back to class. I’d be in class on Monday, find myself in pain, and take the rest of the week off. This happened two weeks in a row. I’ve missed so many weeks that I can’t catch up in time to take the final exams. I sent both of my teachers emails explaining what I was doing and why. I hate missing classes, but at least I’m not working towards another degree. 

I managed to get both classes I wanted for the fall semester – immunology and cell biology. There was an article in today’s paper about a professor at New Mexico State University getting a $1.48 million grant to pursue work on figuring out why some women with breast cancer are not helped by Tamoxin and why Tamoxin will work for others for a limited time and then become ineffective. The article explained that there’s a hormone that triggers the synthesis of a g-coupled protein that binds with estrogen. I actually understood that. As many problems as I had when I took neurobiology, I managed to stick enough in my head so I could have these  Ah Ha! moments. I’d love to work on another degree in biology. I’d love to be a research assistant. But…I don’t want to teach and I don’t want student loans. I’d apply for a position as a research assistant, but I think those jobs should go to students who are working towards a degree. 

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

If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind gifts, please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art at www.debthumanart.com

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, Garden, Photography

Getting Better

I’m now able to walk short distances without the walker although I’m still leery of trying any significant walking. I’ll be taking the walker with me when I go to school next week. I discovered I’m doing way more walking on campus than I thought.

I bought a yoga video that’s supposed to have poses that are good for your back. I suppose they are. I overdid it, and strained something. No lower back pain today, but the leg feels weaker. Sigh. I’ll be glad when this is over.

I finally got to do some baking yesterday. There were seriously over ripe bananas on the counter and the pastry chef textbook says the secret to great banana baking is to use very over ripe bananas. The muffins came out really good. The recipe is here:http://www.firsthomelovelife.com/recipe/maple-banana-muffinsif you want to give the muffins a try. We loved them. 

The iris is blooming! Here in the desert, iris blooms last only a few days. These photos are straight out of the camera. Today is the first time I’ve been able to do photography since the sciatica started.

This closeup is me playing around. I wanted to see if I could get a good shot of the innards of the flower. It’s sort of successful.

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

Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for one of a kind gifts? Please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Rolling On

I have sciatic pain. Apparently two major depressive episodes in three weeks is not healthy. The second episode was scary because I caught myself thinking being dead wouldn’t be so bad. I called my doctor and now have my psych meds tweaked. Meanwhile, I woke up in severe pain last week Monday. I couldn’t walk more than a few steps. I had to push a chair around because I didn’t have a walker. 

Now, I have a few life adjustments. I use a walker and will likely need it for at least 4 more weeks. I have to consider how far I can walk. I tested out my walking ability in the grocery store this morning. I want to go back to school on Monday and I needed to know if I could walk from the shuttle stop to my class. I’m pretty sure I can get that far. I was afraid I’d get halfway to where I need to go, my leg would give out, and I’d be stuck. I’ve missed two weeks of school and I don’t think I can catch up. I know the grades don’t matter; I’m not working towards another degree. I’ve seen too many retired people taking classes and all they are doing is taking up a place in the class. I don’t want to be like that. I want to get as much as I can from my classes.

One of the main roads on campus is torn up. As in removed right down to the soil. I have to cross that road to get from one class to the other. I’m not looking forward to pushing a walker through an uneven, messy, wet, muddy road. I’m not looking forward to trying to get in and out of buildings that don’t have door openers. The university is asking the state for a few million dollars and one of the projects to be funded is $40,000 for a patio outside the football coach’s office. I’ve been taking classes since 2000 (I’m the poster child for the over educated) and in that time, I’ve seen only one student in a wheelchair and only one student using a walker.

If you ever need a walker, get one with a seat. I didn’t, and I’m regretting it. If I have to stand for any length of time, it sure would be helpful to have a seat on which to place my knee. My walker came last Friday. My cupholder came a few days later. That cupholder allows me to go to Starbucks by myself. Such a little thing but means so much to me. I’m used to being independent. Now, I have to wait for someone to open the door for me so I can get in and out of buildings.

We now have a collection of night lights. I got up in the middle of the night Friday night because my foot hurt and I wanted to get my TENs unit. I’m not sure how this happened. I lost my balance, went flying to the floor, banged my head on the wall, and scraped up my hand and arm. Then the lamp fell down on top of me. Jim had to rescue me. I have positional vertigo and I do what I call ear exercises. The exercises help to reset the fluid in my ears. I did my exercises after my deep tissue massage and I feel steadier. I’m not old enough to be this old.

Eating dinner at Chili’s was….interesting. The fellow who was about to seat us asked if we wanted to sit in the bar. I asked him if he saw me using a walker. He did. “Do you really think I can climb up on those stools?” If I gotta be disabled, I’ll make darned sure to educate people on how not to be stupid.

I so wanted to make something for Pi Day, March 14. But I couldn’t stand long enough to bake anything. I wanted to make decorated cookies for Hibernian Heritage Day. I’m that rare combination of Scott-Irish and Polish Jew. I can’t bring myself to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I can celebrate Hibernian Heritage Day. I still can’t stand long enough to make cut out cookies and decorate them. No, Jim doesn’t want to bake per my instructions. He likes his own version of baking. We have a running discussion on whose oatmeal cookies are better. Jim adds chili powder. I use dried cherries rather than raisins. Adding chocolate chips is also good.

I finished another scarf. I can’t stand long enough to block it or photograph it. On this one, I played around a bit. I had worked out the lace pattern for the blue scarf, and the lace pattern on this scarf is based on the blue scarf. I kicked it up a notch.

My doctor tweaked my meds. I go from 3 mood stabilizers a day to 6. I’m supposed to add another pill each week. I go from 1 antidepressant to 2. The change left me with brain fog. Yesterday was the first day I could think clearly since I increased the doses. I’m thinking waiting two weeks rather than one week between increases will make it easier to adjust. I feel….safer now. I’m not worried about sinking into a dangerous depression or becoming suicidal. I feel….solid. Like I’m not going to fall below center.

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

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

Posted in Baking, Photography

Round Bread With Seeds & Croissants

I’m from western New York and now live in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I miss good baked goods. If I want a really good bagel, I have to make it myself. If I want really good rye bread, I have to make it myself. If I want really good sourdough, I have to make it myself. If I want to keep the anxiety level down to manageable, I bake.

This weekend’s baking included sourdough bread with King Arthur Flour Harvest Blend seeds. Jim had asked me to make “the round bread with seeds” because he bought a life-time supply of tuna fish on sale. I’m allergic to seafood, so he has to not only eat all the tuna fish, but also make the tuna fish spread. I can’t tolerate the smell. He’s partial to tuna fish sandwiches.

Finding a good croissant in New Mexico isn’t easy. So I made croissants this weekend. I learned how to make the multi layers of dough and butter. I sort of learned how to cut the dough to shape into croissants. I rolled the triangles of dough up and gave them a bit of a bend. I took them out of the oven, and discovered the richest croissant I’ve ever had. I’ll put that in context. I’ve eaten croissants in Quebec City. I’ve eaten croissants from Wegmans where the store recipe won over other croissants in Paris. I’ve eaten croissants in a French pastry shop in Miami – French enough that I could order my food in French. None of them, although tasty, were as rich as the croissants I made. I used the recipe in my pastry chef book. This is the first recipe I’ve tried from this book and if all the baked goods are this rich, I’ll have to have at least two weeks between pastry explorations.

For my next batch of croissants, I’ll have them proof longer. I let them proof for an hour, which is the time I use for all my breads. Alas, I neglected to factor in time for the croissants to come up to room temperature. Croissant dough has to spend quality time in the refrigerator between each turn and before shaping. I had some butter leakage which indicates I didn’t let the croissants proof long enough. I had thought I didn’t roll the dough thin enough, but the videos on youtube show croissant dough about as thick as mine. I’ll also lower the oven temp a touch and I’ll bake them for a bit shorter time. The bottoms were a bit over done. And maybe I can even learn to take better food photographs by the time I make the next batch although it’s difficult to concentrate on photography while smelling right from the oven croissants.

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Looking for something unique? Check out my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

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

Posted in Photography

It’s not cancer. It is a mystery.

I finally got the pathology results. It’s not cancer. It’s not hyperplasia. It’s a mystery. While I’m happy I don’t have cancer, I’m not happy to have a cause for breakthrough bleeding.

The results were supposed to be ready on Wednesday. They weren’t. So we went to JoAnns where I bought medicinal yarn. Enough medicinal yarn to make four more scarves. I had put the crappy photos of the first two scarves on my Facebook page, and one sold the first day. Yes, there will be more photos as I get the scarves done and all will be for sale. $30 includes shipping within the US. I’m having fun using the Lion Brand Yarn Shawl In A Cake. I like how the colors variegate and how I can make a good size scarf with just one “cake.”

We went to Sam’s Club earlier this week and came home with an Instant Pot. I had been looking at Instant Pots, comparing features, reading reviews, and finally bought an Instant Pot. It was on sale. Now, I have to learn how to use it. Before we moved to New Mexico, we had a huge vegetable garden. The garden started as 30’x90′ and got bigger each year. I canned everything and used a pressure canner. I’m acquainted with the inherent dangers of a pressure cooker – which is what an Instant Pot is.

Several years before I was born, my grandmother and her sister were canning peaches. I am sure my grandmother had a death wish on that day. She was married to a violent drunk who beat her on a regular basis. My grandmother went through life insisting she was stuck, she had no where to go, and on and on. It was how my grandmother avoided taking responsibility for her life. Eventually, my grandmother’s husband died and she remarried a few months before I was born. On the Death Wish Day, my grandmother used a pressure canner as a hot water bath canner. She had the lid partially on. Right. So partially that it was locked on and she had put the petcock on the lid. Pressure built up. It required considerable strength for my grandmother to get the lid off that pressure canner. When she did, 7 quarts of peaches flew up to the ceiling causing glass shards and hot peaches to fall on my grandmother, her sister, and her sister’s twin toddlers. My cousin still remembers that day although it was more than 60 years ago.

It snowed over night and the snow was melted by 10:00 AM. That’s how snow in southern New Mexico works. We get one or two days like this each winter. I’m trying to learn how to photograph snow in flat light. If you do outdoor photography, you get the light nature supplies. If you wait for perfect light, you will only have, at best, 3 hours in which to shoot. Learning to work with less than perfect light seems a better use of my time than waiting for perfect light. Although I had the camera set for auto exposure, I found the early morning shots to be under exposed. There’s some secret trick to photographing snow and I have yet to learn that trick.

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These shots were taken during the brief time between the sun coming out from behind a cloud and the snow melting.

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Tinker has a new toy. It’s the box the Instant Pot came in. He let me take his photo – something he’s never done before. He must have really impressed with that box to let me photograph him.

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

Looking for cool stuff? Check out my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Photos, Meds, And Secrets

More med adjustment. Wellbutrin is now replaced by Cymbalta. The point of Cymbalta is to relieve the neuropathy pain. It’s an antidepressant which, for some odd reason, helps with nerve pain. Sort of. It sort of helps me. I’m still having to take gabapentin and still having to sleep with a TENS unit attached to me. Cymbalta is acting like Prozac. I can only take it every other day and I have no appetite. The no appetite part is difficult because I have to take antibiotics for another week and I have to take them with food.

I make no secret about being bipolar, and I’m finding people who have mental illnesses are willing to ask me about medication. While I don’t mind the questions, I do mind that these people are firmly in the closet. I never have and never will out anyone. Still, the stigma of mental illness isn’t going to go away until we all come out of the closet. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26% of the population in the US has a diagnosed mental illness. This doesn’t count the number of people who haven’t been diagnosed. The next time you are in a room with 4 or more people, do the math. I’m in a class with 20 other students. Per the math, at least 4 other students have a mental illness. We are everywhere. Even if you aren’t aware of our mental illnesses, we are everywhere.

Jim and I did some hiking during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

I bought a new lens for the Canon. Tamron 18-400mm. I wanted an all-in-one lens because changing lenses in the field when one is in a desert is not a good thing to do. Sand, dirt, dust, and crud aren’t good things to have inside your camera. I also didn’t want to schlep lenses every time I go hiking. The more I use this lens, the more I like this lens. Jim kept borrowing my camera so I have no idea who took what shots. Here’s the best of the lot.

Jim and I did some hiking at Aguirre Springs and White Sands during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

Aguirre Springs.

Aguire Springs 14

East side of the Organ Mountains. Aguirre Springs 7

Bunny Ears of the Organ Mountains.

White Sands National MonumentWhite Sands 1

Where the white gypsum sand meets the desert. The white part in the middle is a dry lake. White Sands 3

It’s amazing how much grows on the white sand which is really powdered gypsum.

White Sands 7

Once vegetation takes root, the dune becomes solid.

Bosque del Apache.

Bosque del Apache 1 3-31-18Bosque del Apache 3Bosque del Apache 4 3-31-18 Cropped

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

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please visit my online 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.

IMG_5418IMG_5422

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, 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, Jewelry, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, PTSD

Art And Other Stuff

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

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

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

Purple peacock earrings

Glass peacock feather earrings.

Oblong green earrings

African opal and glass.

Heart earrings 1 2-2-18

Brass hearts.

Green peacock earrings

Glass peacock feather earrings.

Green glass earrings

Recycled green glass earrings.

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

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

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

Posted in 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.

Cranes 1 1-8-18Seriously cropped crane 1-18-18

Sandhill cranes.

Reflections 1-8-18

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

Duck 1 1-8-18Swimming ducks 2 1-8-18

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.