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.

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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.

Posted in Photography

And Sometimes, It All Goes Right Even If It Starts Out Wrong

I prefer to shoot when no one is around. I don’t want people asking me questions or getting in my way. I want to be able to get down on the ground to get a good shot if necessary. I don’ want to be tripping over people and I don’t want them tripping over me.

I wanted to get some shots of the the Christmas lights in Las Cruces, so I went downtown, and discovered half the town was there. There were vendors set up on the plaza although the only ones selling anything were the food vendors. I had to dodge children and adults. I was sure my shots weren’t much good. One, that I was going to delete, kept talking to me until I agreed to really look at it.

Downtown 3 12-20-17

Not wanting to go home without taking photographs I could play with, I started shooting with no firm idea of how I wanted to play with the shots.

12-20-17 Lens flare no flare

The original shot.

12-20-17 Lens flare no flare overlay

Playing with an overlay.

12-20-17 Lens flare

Playing with a lens flare.

Lights w:leaks 12-20-17

Overlay on a close up of what made up the lighted ornament in the first photo.

Lights w:leaks 12-20-17 kaleidoscope

Turning the above photo into a kaleidoscope.

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Some of the lighted decorations. The bear’s “skin” was the plastic stuff used to wrap items for shipping.

Pizza time 12-20-17

Wood fired pizza made to order.

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City streets.

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

I have new items in my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Clay, Judiasm, Photography

A Different Kind of Stress

Christmas looks a bit different when you’re Jewish. I don’t face Holiday Hell each December. Used to be, I’d drop into a deep depression starting the third week in November and lasting until New Year’s Day. Jim and I used to escape by planning to be a few states away from the family over Christmas. I knew there was a problem when I found myself eating a leftover sandwich in a hotel room, watching Christmas Story, and thinking it was a pretty good Christmas day.

That was before. Now, no family misery – fighting, screaming, crying and that was just what happened before desert. It got worse as the day ground on. There were Christmas cookies before, but I have no idea where they came from. They were home baked, but I’ve no idea when or how. I’ve never understood Christmas cookies. I asked a woman who thought cleaning the bathroom was exciting about Christmas cookies. She told me she started baking in October and froze cookies. Why would anyone do that?

Now, after finding out my family were Polish Jews cleverly disguised as German Lutherans and reverting to Judaism, (the rabbi called it conversion), I have no Holiday Hell in December. I do have a different type of stress. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I had one of my best days at the local Farmers & Craft Market. I had made little ceramic trays and the customers nearly cleaned me out. So I worked like crazy to have a new batch of little ceramic trays for this past Saturday. I had my best sales day ever and the customers nearly cleaned me out. I don’t have time to make another batch of little trays.

Large tray 1102Large tray 1099Large tray 1100Large tray 1101

Big little trays.

Small tray 1122Small tray 1124Small tray 1125Small tray 1127

Little little trays.

Tray 1110Tray 1109Tray 1107Tray 1103Tray 1096Tray 1094Tray 1093Tray 1091

Medium little trays.

Needing to fill the table, and reading about rice pillows on the Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists Facebook page, I decided to make rice pillows. I have some black rice that I discovered I didn’t care for so I’ll use that for rice pillows. Jim said the rice pillows would make nice gifts – and he wants to send the gifts out early this week. I dug through my stash and found fabric that I could cut out 12.5” squares. I folded the squares in half, sewed around two raw edges using a 3/8” seam allowance, folded right side out, folded over the top, not yet sewn edge so I’d have a nice edge. I drew a line down the middle of the pillow so I’d have two channels running the length of the pillow. I used an empty spool from a cone of thread for a funnel and filled the first pillow 2/3 full in each channel. Then, I sewed the neatly folded under edge closed. And I was out of black rice. I’ve got about 15 more squares to sew into rice pillows and another two already sewn and need to be filled. I’ll have to stop at Sam’s Club tomorrow to buy some cheap rice. I’ll sew bags in the morning, go to the gym, pick up the mail at the post office, then stop at Sam’s Club. I’ll come home, fill the rice pillows, and try to remember to make something for dinner. These rice pillows had better sell well when we set up on this coming Saturday.

I’m having bipolar misery. I let myself get working way too fast today. When that happens, I wind up and can’t wind down. Worse, I try to do more than one thing at a time and don’t do anything very well. Yes, I know, you don’t multi task well, either. Take your experience, multiply it by a factor of at least 10, and you have how I feel when I’m wound up and well medicated. Multiply your experience by a factor of 25, and you will have how I felt wound up and unmedicated. Mental illness isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

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

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

Posted in Photography, Pottery

Does This Come In Blue?

We went up to Santa Fe so I could do some street shooting. I try to take shots that don’t look as if I were on a tour and had 10 minutes to shoot the entire city. I also like to play around.

Santa Fe 3 11-21-17Santa Fe 1 11-21-17

Santa Fe as seen through the park benches.

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The Plaza in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe 12-11-21-17

This one is a Tourist Shot. Native American artists come to Santa Fe for the opportunity to sell their art at the Palace of the Governors. A bell is rung each morning, and lots are drawn to determine who can sell their art that day. All art must be made by the artist. I was astounded at the quality of the work. The jewelry I saw was so beautiful I wanted to give up beads because my work is so inferior to what I saw.

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This was a throw away shot. I decided to make a half-hearted attempt at photographing a pigeon. Considering how fast the pigeon was moving, I’m surprised at how well the shot came out. Moral: Always take the shot.

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Fall has lingered this year and there were still roses and hibiscus blooming.

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Fun with architecture.

I wanted something cute to wear to the Farmers & Craft Market. Something that shows me as an artist. I found this fabric in Albuquerque and wanted to take advantage of the print. So…I made a scrub top. I still have no idea where my ribbing is. Last time I used this pattern, I used a piece of spandex in place of the ribbing. It worked, but was a bugger and a half to sew on. Spandex doesn’t stretch as much as ribbing. This time, I added 3” to the sleeves and put in a button hole and a button. I didn’t measure, and I left the cuffs too lose. I’ll need to move the buttons a bit.

Blouse 5 11-24-17Blouse 3 11-24-17Blouse 2 11-24-17Blouse 1 11-24-17

I had my best day ever at the Farmers & Craft Market on Saturday morning. The good news: I sold a lot of pots. The bad news: I now need to make a lot of pots to replace the ones I sold. But I have class and I’m modeling on Tuesday and Thursday. There’s no way I can get my pieces made, bisque fired, glazed and glaze fired in time for them to be cool enough to unload well before dawn on Saturday. I’ll have to take what I’ve got on Saturday and take the new pieces I’ll be making the following Saturday. Such problems!

I got to hear the famous question on Saturday. A lady picked up a small bowl glazed in blue, green and pink celedons. “Do you have this in blue?” No. She wants it in blue and with a lid. Yes, I can do that, but if I need to make a lid, I have to price the pot higher. I’m not going to worry about it.

I sold a pair of earrings from my store, DebThumanArt.com. The nice part is someone I don’t know bought the earrings. I appreciate the support of my friends and I’m glad I’m being found by people I don’t know.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Please check her blog and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for a gift? You can find my store here.

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Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Clay, Photography, Pottery

Pretzels & Pinch Pots

Rolling out dough for a big, soft pretzel is a cross between rolling out a coil and pulling a handle. I’ve got a sourdough recipe for English muffins. I can’t fit more than 8 English muffins on a pan, so I’m making 8 English muffins and 8 big, soft pretzels. I had ordered some pretzel salt from King Arthur Flour Bakers Store and I’ve been wanting to give it a test bake. Rather than cook the English muffins on a griddle, I’m baking them in the oven. I have English muffin rings (King Arthur Flour Bakers Store). I put parchment paper on one cookie sheet, grease the rings, put a glob of dough in each ring, cover with parchment paper, and put another cookie sheet on top of the raw English muffins. As the muffins rise and later bake, the muffins are confined to their rings and end up the size and shape of commercial English muffins.  I put parchment paper on top of that cookie sheet, and made dough ropes to form into pretzels. There are pretzel makers who can flip the dough into a pretzel. I’m not one of them. English muffins and pretzels are rising at the moment.

I’ve been working on little pinch pots to be used as glaze experiments. I put the bottom glaze on the inside and part of the outside of the pinch pot. Then I put the top glaze only inside the pinch pot. No runaway glaze disasters if the two glazes are only on the inside. I was aiming at a Wednesday glaze firing, but that’s not going to happen. I have no energy today and I’ve got a half dozen mugs, a plate, a rattle, and two large planters to glaze before I can fire.

I’ve had an energy problem the last few days. In some ways, it feels like before I was diagnosed with hypothyroid. In other ways, it’s just weird. Normal manic events have a culinary nature. I have an incredible urge to cook and I’m buying things for making whole grain baked goods. Normal manic events come with too much energy. I have to be careful not to get too wound up or I won’t be able to wind down. This time, I hardly have enough energy to walk across the room. I think this is a mixed episode. Whoopee.

In an effort to become healthier, I’ve been pushing exercise on myself. Last night, I was about to get on the elliptical machine when I looked out the sliding glass door.

Sunset 1 11-4-17

So I took time to do some photography. I’ve been trying to get the sky and the ground to look in a digital image how it looks to my eyes. I’m still working on that.

Mountains 1 11-4-17

Yes, I did get on the elliptical machine after taking 54 photos.

Thursday, I stopped into JoAnn’s. I have my writing class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I have no intention of paying for a parking pass for one class. I park in the strip mall parking lot nearby. JoAnn’s is in that strip mall. I was armed with sales fliers and coupons. My original intent was to fondle the JoAnn’s version of a fabric called Minky. I need a longer kimono (the one I have is knee length). I thought Minky would be a good choice. I never found the Minky. What I found was this.

Flamingo fabric 2 11-3-17

The bolt on the shelf didn’t have the 5 yards I needed. Fortunately, there were two full bolts up on a high shelf. I told the clerk to give me 6 yards. Then there was one yard left on the bolt and I got it for half price. The fabric, a cotton knit, was on sale and I had a 25% off coupon. It will be a kimono and a jacket when it grows up.

Then I found a fake fur that I think will be a nice purse. I bought a yard and it, too was on sale.

That’s about all I have energy for right now. Can’t wait for this episode to be over. I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for a gift? My online store, Deb Thuman Art, is here.

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Clay, Cognitive problems, Photography

Pain Sucks

I saw the neurologist on Thursday and demanded to know what caused the neuropathy, the extent of the damage and how this can be reversed. I’m having a nerve conduction series next month. I was in pain from 3:00 AM on Saturday until Tuesday afternoon. Then I had a reprieve until about 2:00 AM today. The pain was bad enough that if I could have been sure I wouldn’t have gotten caught, I’d have bought something on the street. You might think that after 23 years as a criminal defense attorney I’d know where to buy street drugs. Nope. I haven’t a clue. Probably just as well….I couldn’t stand to hear the cop laugh when I got arrested. Plus a felony conviction gets me disbarred from all my law licenses. 

The problem with neuropathy is that there’s nothing causing the pain. The pain doesn’t even exist. What feels like horrible pain is damaged nerves sending a scrambled signal to the brain.

It takes an hour and a half for the gabapentin to take effect, so I went outside and did some night photography. We’re at about 4000′ elevation here and when we have a full moon like last night, it’s BRIGHT. Everything had sharp shadows. So I played around with ISO and exposure length.

Adjustment 2 10-7-17Stars 1 10-7-17Stars 3 10-7-17

I got maybe four hours sleep last night; I’m exhausted, and I can’t fall sleep.

Every time I think I’m done with withdrawal, I find out I’m wrong. I stopped taking Wellbutrin completely last week Friday. I was bouncing off the ceiling during my class on Thursday. It was embarrassing. I thought I was okay, provided I didn’t have to be around people, until yesterday. I experienced severe anxiety. I tried art. I spent a couple hours in the mud making another large planter. I listened to my relaxation music. That helped, but not enough. I finally broke down and took a klonopin. For some reason, I feel like a failure when I need to take meds. Silly, I know. I still feel like a failure. I’m making progress, the feelings of failure used to be a whole lot worse.

Meanwhile, I’m having difficulty spelling. I know how the words are spelled, I type 72 words per minute, but I can’t get the words typed correctly. I’ve no idea how to solve this problem. I think I’m just going to wait until the withdrawal is finished and my brain learns how to work without Wellbutrin.

I’ve been experimenting with earrings.

Yellow:green leaf earrings 10-7-17Rootbeer earrings 10-7-17Purple & crystal earringsMulti purple earrings 10-7-17Irridescent purple earrings 10-7-17Greens earrings 10-7-17Clear & crystal earrings 10-7-17Black earrings 10-7-17

This is the necklace I made to go with my amethyst earrings.

Amethyst necklace 10-7-17

These are necklaces I’ll be selling. I was going to set up at the Farmers Market this morning, but that’s not something I can do on four hours sleep. Next week, God willing! 

Green leaf necklace 10-7-17Green fan necklace 10-7-17Green circlie necklace 10-7-17

Monday, I get the prep work done for the crown to fix the tooth that broke in half lengthwise. I’ll be glad to be able to eat food that isn’t either liquid or really soft. I’m so looking forward to eating crunchy food again.

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

Looking for a gift for someone special or for yourself (you’re pretty special, too)? My web store is here.

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Jewelry, Photography

Mental Illness Is Not For The Feint of Heart

I was going to correct the spelling error in the headline, but I kind of like it. It matches how I feel. I am going through withdrawal. Wellbutrin stopped working and started causing me to have hallucinations. Because the hallucinations were not interesting and were annoying, I decided to go off Wellbutrin. I went down to ½ my usual dose. This worked great for a few days. On Monday, I felt as if I were trying to climb out of my skin. I downloaded anti-anxiety music which did help. By Tuesday, the climb out of my skin feeling was gone.

I had a couple good days, then on Friday, I was walking into walls. I thought it was positional vertigo, so I did my ear exercises. Eventually, I looked up the symptoms of withdrawal from Wellbutrin. Nausea – which had developed by then, and dizziness. Saturday, I was better.

Today, I did fine until I fell onto the counter that holds the bathroom sink. Landed on the corner of the counter. I’d have been fine if the room hadn’t moved. Now, the nausea is back.

This is what life on psych meds is like. First, I feel bad enough that I know I have to go back down the rabbit hole and have tea with the Mad Hatter. Then I have to go through med adjustment which lasts 2-3 months. During this time, I walk into walls and I get to feel my brain change a little each day. Then, for a period of time, the med works properly and life is great. Then the med stops working and starts causing enough problems that the problems are worse than withdrawal. Withdrawal lasts 4-12 weeks. I’m in Week 2. I get to repeat this process for the rest of my life. It’s not easy being mentally ill. I’ve had clients bitch they don’t want to go off methadone or stop using heroin because they’d go through withdrawal. If withdrawal from psych meds were like withdrawal from heroin – puke and poop for three days – I’d be thrilled.

Meanwhile, I popped a crown off on Tuesday while simultaneously breaking another tooth in half lengthwise. My dentist was on vacation last week, and the earliest appointment I could get was for this coming Thursday. I’m on a liquid diet and wishing I could eat something that required chewing. So far, I’ve lost 3 pounds – all of which will return when I can once again eat solid food. With a liquid diet, liquid in means liquid out. The last time I had to pee so often, I was on lithium. Lithium is processed through the kidneys and I had to drink lots and lots and lots of water each day.

I’ve been working on earrings, but I haven’t gotten them photographed. I finally managed to do a decent job with a brick stitch and made dangly earrings with long fringe. At the moment, I’m learning Russian Leaf earrings. I ordered beads from Lima Beads and my order arrived on Friday. I put together some earrings – which also aren’t photographed. I bought a number of pendants and now have to make necklaces. I can’t find my crimp bead covers. I’ll have to order some of those.

I have been doing some photography. Considering the dizziness, I’m amazed that I can hold the camera still.Moon smile 9-17-17

I’ve been wanting to take a smily moon photo for a while now. I finally got the chance a few mornings ago. I had the camera on the tripod when I took this shot.

Stars 2 9-24-17

The neuropathy acted up last night and it takes an hour and a half for the gabapentin to kick in. Nothing to do but grab the camera, pop it on the tripod, aim at the sky and play around.

Sunset 2 9-23-17

Sunset a couple nights ago facing east. The western view wasn’t that exciting.

Sunset 1 9-24-17

Tonight’s sunset facing west. I am really liking that graduated neutral density filter. The filter darkens the sky so I don’t have blown out sky when I’m taking landscape shots.

Nasturtium 2 9-24-17Nasturtium 1 9-24-17Nasturtium 3 9-24-17

When I was taking shots of the nasturtiums, I was intrigued by the bright white lines in the leaves. So I took a leaf shot. I’m not sure if that was an art moment or a withdrawal moment. I’ll be fine in a couple months.

Zinnia 1 9-24-17Zinnia 2 9-24-17

I like taking the shots other people ignore. So here are a couple darned near dead zinnia shots.

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

Looking for a gift? Check out my web store here at DebThumanArt.com.

Posted in Emotions, Photography, Pottery, PTSD

Pottery & Pondering

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

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

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

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

I gotta stop making boob soap dishes.

Soap dishes 2 9-9-17

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

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

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

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

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

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

Posted in Fiber, Photography, Pottery, PTSD

Fiber, Clay and Ruminations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weeping Plum Plate 9-3-17

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Bigotry, Photography

Speaking of Many Things

If you’ve flown over the Gulf of Mexico along the US coast between Florida and Texas and looked down, you saw thousands of off shore oil rigs. Let’s think about this for a minute. Hurricanes are fairly common in this area. Remember the BP disaster? The oil well that wasn’t supposed to barf oil into the ocean for days? The oil well that had safety measures and took a few days to cap off because the normal ways to cap off the well didn’t work? Remember that? Multiply that by a few thousand and add a Category 4 hurricane. Suddenly the Exxon Valdez starts to look like the queen of environmental safety.

Why isn’t the military helping to evacuate people along the Texas coast? We’re paying soldiers whether they work, rescue, or sit in a chair. And we don’t have to pay them overtime. We paid for all sorts of fancy cargo planes. Wouldn’t these cargo planes have been a good way to evacuate hospitals and prisons? What, you think prisoners can just leave and go for shelter in a safe place? Don’t be silly. We are judged by the way we treat the least respected among us. If we treat prisoners inhumanely, we’re barbarians.

A hurricane shelter in I forget what city in Texas is supposed to be hurricane proof. So was the levee around New Orleans. Until it broke in more than 50 places.

A friend works disaster areas doing body retrieval and identification after the disaster has passed. She said many people in New Orleans who died were found in attics. They kept going up higher, and then were trapped in the attic where they drown.

Residents of one Texas city were asked to write their names and social security numbers on their arms. That’s actually incredibly good advice. It’s tough to identify a body that’s been submerged, then baked in the sun until found a week later. Writing your name and social security number, using a waterproof marker, makes it much easier to identify your body. A tattoo is even better.

The sex-offender-in-chief pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff in Arizona. I didn’t think the sex-offender-in-chief could do worse than his disgusting remarks about the violence in Virginia caused by white supremacists, KKK, and Neo-Nazis. I was wrong.

I wanted photos of the eclipse, but didn’t want to spend $80 for a special filter. Looking at the sun damages your eyes and your camera pointed at the sun damages the sensor. One woman on the Digital Photography School Facebook page paid $177 for a top-of-the-line filter and still damaged the sensor in her Nikon.

I like Jimmy Breslin’s theory of journalism – look at where all the reporters are, and go in the other direction looking for a story. Everyone has shots of the eclipse. I have something different. I wanted to test out my new graduated neutral density filter. I set the Canon up on a tripod, focused on the mountains behind my house, adjusted the filter, and took photos about every 10 minutes from an hour before total eclipse to an hour after. Where I am, the eclipse was maybe ¾ rather than total. I had forgotten how unnatural the world looks when the moon passes in front of the sun. The shadows in the photos appear odd.

Beginning of eclipse 8-21-17

The beginning of the eclipse. Darkest of Eclipse 8-21-17

The darkest it got. Roosters crowed. Shadows looked weird. The darkness looked unnatural.

End of eclipse 8-21-17

One hour after the peak of the eclipse.

While I had set the ISO at 100 and the aperture at f/11, I neglected to set the shutter speed. Because the camera automatically used a shutter speed that compensated for the darkness, my photos aren’t dramatic. They are different from the other eclipse photos, though.

The Digital Photography Photo Event organized for today is to take a photo of your street and post it on the page. It’s hard to have a glorious street shot when you live on a boring street and need to keep every identifying feature out of the photo. Several years back, someone tried to burn my house down. I’ve been stalked. You want an exciting life? Be a criminal defense attorney. I took some shots this morning, but I’m not sure if I’m happy with them. They’re all right, but they aren’t magnificent.

My Street 4 8-26-17

My Street 5 8-26-17

My Street 3 8-26-17

Flower 2 8-26-17

My Street 8-26-17

I did not hold the camera crooked. Look at the bottom of the sign post. The sign post was hammered into the ground at an angle.

Rocks 1 8-26-17

The original photograph. Rocks can be fun to play with in editing.

Rocks 1 8-26-17 neg kaleidoscope

The same photo played with in editing.

I’m having a problem getting motivated to work in clay. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe I shouldn’t be worried about it. Maybe I should bury myself in the media that hold my attention now. Beads. Sewing. Writing. Photography.

Tuesday was my birthday. To celebrate, I bought sliced roast beef, horseradish, made kummelweck rolls and had beef on weck. It’s a Buffalo, NY delicacy and I miss it. The horseradish was fairly decent but not the pungent, clear out your head horseradish I’m used to. It was old fart day at the grocery store, and I told the clerk I am an old fart. She asked for photo ID. I told her it was my 65th birthday and asked if she wanted to see my Medicare card. She declined. Who lies about being older than 60?

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

Looking for a gift? Check out my store here.