Posted in Baking, Fiber, Pain, PTSD

Too Much Excitement and a Zippered Pouch

Ah, the adventures I’ve had this week! 

Last weekend, I made Madelines. They are a French cookie. I wanted to follow the recipe exactly, and I browned the butter. I’ve never done that before. Did you know that when butter is sufficiently browned, the butter foams, climbs out of the pot and explores the top of the stove? This is why I have a gas stove with enclosed burners. 

Next, the recipe said to chill the batter at least 20 minutes, then pipe the batter into the wells of a Madeline pan. Except the batter was too cold and there was no way I could pipe it. So I spooned the batter into the wells. I had used goop on the wells, but I didn’t use enough and the cookies stuck to the pan. Jim did something magic and got the Madelines out of the pan. I used more goop, and the batter was sufficiently warm to pipe. These came out of the pan easily. More goop, and more piping except I didn’t have enough batter to fill every well. Baked on goop is nasty. Getting it off the pan sucks. 

The Madelines tasted good. The next morning, I had some Madelines for breakfast. I felt something hard and swallowed before I realized what the hard thing was. It was a gold crown. Knowing it would be cheaper to have the crown reattached than to have a new crown, I spent the next week pooping into a strainer. Jim did the search and rescue part. The plan was to retrieve the crown, wash it off, then use my Instant Pot as an autoclave. No crown. Finally, I gave up and called the dentist. 

My birthday was on Thursday and we wanted to celebrate. Except I had a naked tooth that was starting to bother me. I could only chew on one side. We went to Denny’s because you get a free slam on your birthday. My mother tried to force feed me a fried egg when I was little. She told me I wasn’t getting anything else until I ate the egg. After a couple meals and me not eating the egg, she gave up. I don’t care for eggs. Slams come with eggs. I ordered the slam. Jim ordered French toast. When our food arrived, we swapped plates. I had something I could eat. I had to show my driver’s license to prove it was my birthday so we could get the slam for free. Starbucks is next door to the Denny’s, and I have the Starbucks app. If you have the app, you get a free treat on your birthday. I got my Frappuccino for free, and Jim got his two Frappuccinos for half price because it was happy hour day. Dinner and desert for two for a total of about $11. Do we know how to party or what? 

The next morning, I went to the dentist. He said he needed to do additional prep on the tooth, and I got to enjoy two things I hate. I detest getting Novocain and I got two shots. At the end of the drilling, they took an impression of the tooth. I detest having impressions taken even more than I detest getting Novocain. The inside of my mouth is small and the trays never quite fit. They are always a little too big. 

Now that I had a temporary crown and I could chew on both sides of my mouth, we could eat at a restaurant and I could order real food. Except I couldn’t. While my mouth and tongue were numb, I bit my tongue. My tongue hurt, and I needed to take an NSAID to make the pain and swelling of the gum around my tooth stop. We went to Starbucks and I discovered that Frappuccino is a great way to apply ice to a tooth. 

The next day, with a not sore mouth and a tongue that was almost normal, we went to Olive Garden for lunch. Olive Garden will give you a free dessert if you tell them you are celebrating your birthday. I ordered the Brownie Lasagna. Thin slices of brownie with cream cheese frosting between the layers and on top. Chocolate shavings on top and a raspberry drizzle. Starbucks again. I needed to order one more item to get the extra stars. The problem with the Starbucks app is it’s so easy to order far more often than I would order without the app. But I get a free Frappuccino with 150 points. I save up the points; and when we travel, we have free Starbucks drinks. 

My classes started on my birthday. I’m taking cell biology and immunology this semester. My immunology teacher said we may have talked to our grandparents or great-grandparents about life before vaccines in the 1950’s. Hey! I’m 67. I was born the year of the last polio epidemic in the US. I got all of the childhood diseases because there were no vaccines for them. I am not old enough to be a grandparent.  My brain is 35. The rest of me isn’t. 

One of my teachers was astonished to learn I’m not working towards a degree. She asked if I were taking the class for fun. Yep. We get 6 credits free each semester because Jim works for the university. I’ve got two undergrad degrees, a law degree, and no desire to have another piece of paper. One article I came across while researching PTSD was the fact that learning something new would repair the damage done to the hippocampus. It must be working because I’m finally past the worst of PTSD. No more nightmares. No more memories that take over my brain. Now, I only have uninvited memories that have no power to hurt me. They annoy me, but they don’t’ hurt me. 

I take class notes on my iPad. I’ve got an iPencil so I can make drawings in my notes. The iPencil comes with a little adapter for charging and a spare point. Both are little and easy to use. I decided a zippered pouch would be good to have and would keep the tiny parts safe. I’ve got lots and lots and lots of fat quarters and I picked out two that I thought would look nice together. I worked out the pattern. What I wanted was the contrasting fabric on the back of the pouch to continue over the top of the pouch and an inch or so down the front. Except I didn’t make the pattern right. 

Version I, front
Version 1, back

I still have lots and lots and lots of fat quarters, so I picked out two fabrics, tweaked the pattern and got the zippered pouch I wanted in the first place. I’m not sure what I will do with the second zippered pouch.

Version 2, front

Version 2, back.

Today, I’m making my birthday cake – red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I’m going to be learning how to use Wilton’s Icing Gel and to work on my piping skills. I’ve always used the grocery store food coloring that comes in little bottles. I chose the red color that has no taste. This baking stuff is fun and helps keep down the anxiety. As long as the butter stays in the pan, the batter can be piped, and my crown stays attached to my tooth. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com. Take a look at what other artists have been making.

Looking for a gift? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art. http://www.debthumanart.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t.

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

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

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

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

I’ve never run from bipolar disorder.

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

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

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

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

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Garden, PTSD

Home Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rushford Lake 2 8-2-18

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

Rushford Lake 3 8-2-18

I buried the ghosts in an unmarked grave.

Rushford Lake 4 8-2-18

Bright spots in a dark world.

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

Koi 8-1-18More koi 8-1-18Yellow Flower 8-1-18

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

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

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

Buffalo Psych Center as is 8-3-18

The administration building which is now a hotel.

Buffalo Psych Center 20 8-3-18

Detail from the administration building.

Buffalo Psych Center 16 8-3-18

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

Buffalo Psych Center 2 8-3-18

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

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

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

I buried ghosts. I brought new ghosts home.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

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

Posted in 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 bipolar disorder, Pain, PTSD

Crud

I have the crud.

The Friday before Christmas, we tried to get together with a friend to celebrate her birthday. Jim had the crud, so he stayed home. The Friday before New Years, we tried to get together to celebrate Jim’s birthday and my friend got the crud and couldn’t make it. This week, we tried to get together for lunch, but I have the crud. We’ll try again next Friday.

Crud sucks. The federal regulations for pseudo-ephedrine are absurd, ineffective, and a flaming nuisance. Claritin-D used to come in 750 mg strength. It was great. Now with the current regulations, I can only get Claritin-D in 270 mg dose. These are 24 hour pills and there are 15 in the box. They cost $20 if I buy the Walgreens version (which I did). I have to take at least two of them to get any relief. I can only buy 3.6 grams per day and only 9 grams in a 30-day period. Jim bought a box shortly before Christmas. I bought a box today. If I need any more, I may have to have the cat go buy them. And what does all this do to stop the production and use of methamphetamine? Not a darned thing. Why? As a client explained, it’s too difficult to extract the pseudo-ephedrine from Claritin-D. As for the number of meth addicts? I don’t see any progress there. I’m basing that on drug cases I’ve handled.

I’ve been dealing with slamming into both depressed and manic states. After the last trip to the neurology clinic at the medical school in El Paso, I had blood drawn. Lots and lots of blood. The good news: the ANA test is negative and I don’t have an auto-immune disease. The expected news: My A1C is in the pre-diabetes range. The glucose monitor will arrive this week. I’ll be monitoring my glucose, keeping a food diary, and hoping to have a better A1C result in a few months. The unexpected news: I got a call asking if I wanted financial aid to pay for a blood text that got sent out of network. How much is the blood test? $4,000. Nope – no financial aid and don’t run the test. Next, I got a letter telling me the out-of-network lab can’t use the blood that was sent because it was drawn at a hospital rather than in my doctor’s office.

I recovered from that, and called my HMO to see if the prior authorization request that was submitted early December for my appointment at the neurology clinic at the medical school in Albuquerque had been authorized. No, because the paperwork from my doctor’s office was wrong. I called the doctor’s office and asked for a call back or I would camp out in the office until I got a satisfactory answer. Turned out I had to camp out in the office. The doctor’s office sent in corrected paperwork late December. My appointment is for January 18. I get to call later this week to see what progress has been made. If I have to cancel this appointment, I won’t get another appointment for about 4 months – if I’m lucky.

I’ve decided I don’t want to go back to the medical school in El Paso. I had been wondering most visits if I were the only one in the room who had ever taken cell biology. I had a nerve conduction series that left me furious. First, I had to deal with a resident who is clearly hearing impaired and clearly too arrogant to do anything about it. He’s going to kill someone eventually. The neurologist supervising the test, after I asked in frustration how she would feel if someone told her she would be in pain for the rest of her life, said, “You’re not managing your pain well enough.” THIS ISN’T MY FAULT YOU TWIT. I didn’t say that. I asked her who was doing research on peripheral neuropathy. “No one here.” When I got home, I did a google search and found 496 clinical tests. There’s a pretty nice one in France, but I doubt the cheapskates at the HMO will authorize trips to France. There is a clinical test in Salt Lake City and in Albuquerque. That they might be willing to authorize.

The next appointment, I was in severe pain. When the pain hit a 5, I took a double dose of gabapentin and sat hooked up to a TENS unit for an hour or so. That’s when the pain hit a 7. I took another double dose of gabapentin. That meant I had taken a full day’s dosage in a span of 2 hours.The pain dropped back to a 5. I was walking into walls, stoned out of my mind, in pain, and pissed off. The neurologist said he could raise the dose. “No you can’t, because I won’t take it.” The gabapentin works sometimes, but not always. There’s no pattern that I’ve been able to spot.

After being told the nerve conduction series showed damage to the axion, I started asking microbiology type questions. Turns out, I really was the only one in the room who had taken cell biology. It was clear that the neurologist had no idea what I was asking about. I told him that I thought I figured out the problem. He’s used to dealing with big things and I’m used to microbiology. He told me neurology wasn’t rocket science. I strongly suspect the $4,000 blood test was retaliation. The test if for a genetic abnormality. No one asked me if anyone else in the family has neuropathy. And if this were genetic, it would have shown up 40 years earlier.

All of this excitement caused an outbreak of hives. It took me a couple days to figure out the redness and swelling was hives. Usually, stress hives start on the insides of my arms. This time, it was on the outsides of both arms. One antihistamine cleared up the hives.

I’ve been working, now and again, on designing the perfect purse. I know what I want…zippered pockets on the outside, the top with a recessed zipper, and a flap with a zippered pocket. I also need a pocket on the end that will hold a water bottle. I need a purse large enough to hold my 12.9” iPad Pro. I was trying to work out a pattern yesterday when Tinker decided to help by insisting on sitting on the drawing paper. He wants to be by his humans and he likes the sunbeams in the sewing room.

One odd thing has been happening. I’ve been having flashbacks of crap that happened to me when I was growing up. My psychologist, when I asked him if flashbacks ever end said it was finite. Got news for you. PTSD is for life. It’s been more than 45 years since I lived in an insane asylum run by a violent drunk and a violent narcissist. I’m still having flashbacks. Years ago, I stumbled upon a way to deal with the flashbacks – look at the memory, acknowledge that what happened was horrible. Since then, the flashbacks haven’t been debilitating. They seem to have less power. They also seem to show no signs of ever stopping.

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

Please stop by my web store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Emotions, Photography, Pottery, PTSD

Pottery & Pondering

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

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

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

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

I gotta stop making boob soap dishes.

Soap dishes 2 9-9-17

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

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

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

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

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

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

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.

.

 

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Grief, Judiasm, PTSD

Depression. It sucks.

Depression. It’s not fun. It hurts. It kills. It destroys. It renders a person unable to function. Other than that, it’s no big deal.

My youngest sister died June 24, 1997. She was 35, 10 years younger than me, and left behind a husband and a 3-year-old daughter. Melanoma killed her. I didn’t know any of that until a friend read the obit in the newspaper and called me to ask how I was doing. My mother had decreed that my surviving siblings not tell me that my sister was sick or that she died. Penalty for doings so was being cut out of the will. My revenge is that my mother spent the last years of her life in a nursing home so there was nothing left to inherit. They had sold their humanity for nothing. No, they haven’t apologized. They decided not to call me when my mother died. I only found out she died when I saw the obituary. I subscribe to Legacy.com and I get a list of all the people with the last name Thuman who have obituaries published each day. My siblings were surprised when I crashed the funeral. They haven’t apologized for that, either.

Now, I have two difficult days each year. April 1 which was my sister’s birthday and June 24. I thought I’d get past grieving by now. Guess I was wrong. Some years are better than others. This isn’t one of the better ones. The flashbacks started a couple weeks ago. I get them in clusters rather than one at a time. Long ago, I discovered that if I look at the flashback, acknowledge that what happened to me was terrible, the memory would sink back down into my brain and leave me alone. It’s a great technique and I urge anyone who has PTSD to give it a try. Except it’s not working for me this time.

Usually, I can bury myself in art when I’m depressed or upset and I find myself back at center. Not today. I’m working on ceramic lanterns and bowls. I stopped mid-lantern because I was too depressed to continue. I don’t like to have music playing when I work, and working with mud makes very little noise. Critters come right up to the patio. A bird nearly stepped on my foot until it realized that a human was sitting there. Rabbits come up to the patio and eat whatever is growing. A small bird perched on plant stand and drank water from the saucer under the pot with chives growing in it. Maybe 10 feet from where I was sitting. Normally, close encounters with critters is a wonderful, special thing. Providing the critter isn’t a rattlesnake and I’m not about to step on it. This morning, it was just something that happened.

Years ago, a friend suggested I do something to honor my sister’s life. I thought perhaps if I could put my feelings into a piece of art  I’d feel better. Except I can’t figure out how I want to do this. What do I make? A giant, stuffed malignant mole? Then what? Take it out in the desert and shoot it? A mangled foot to commemorate the day my mother watched my sister play with oven cleaner, then washed her off, put the oven cleaner soaked sneaker back on her foot and then yelled at her for the next 4 hours to stop crying? Finally, she took my sister to the hospital. Second and third degree burns from her waist down. The worst was her right foot. The scar covered nearly the entire top of her foot. No, there was never any plastic surgery to remove the scar. There was also never any report made to child protective services. We’re white and we had private insurance.

Maybe a quilt of a woman skiing. My sister skied. She tore wild down the mountain as if she were Franz Klamer attacking the downhill race in the olympics. Her friends asked her where she learned to hot dog like that. In those days, flying over moguls and other fancy stuff was called hot dogging. My sister replied that she didn’t know how to ski.

Maybe I can attach a maxi-pad to the quilt. When my sister had her first period, she looked under the bathroom sink, found feminine supplies (there were always feminine supplies under the bathroom sink), pinned the pad in her pants, and went on with life. She didn’t think she needed to tell anyone. That’s what convinced me I never needed to worry about my sister. I knew she would always figure out a way to handle any situation in which she found herself.

She graduated from high school, but she didn’t go to the ceremony. Our mother couldn’t be bothered so my sister’s passage from high school to adult woman went unnoticed and undocumented.

The grief never goes away. Some years, like this one, the grief is unbearable.

Tonight, kaddish is being read during services for my sister. Jim will go with me. Maybe I’ll be able to get through the prayer without crying. Next week, Jim and I are going to Albuquerque to buy clay and shop for some other art supplies. Maybe that will help me feel less depressed.

This wasn’t the best week to do this, but I bought a domain name and opened an on-line shop. Getting the shop up and running was frustrating, and I’m not handling frustration well this week. I do have an etsy shop, but it gets no traffic and I have to pay each time I list something. So I opened my own shop, Deb Thuman Art. You can get there from here. Stop by and let me know what you think. I’m still getting inventory loaded into the shop and at the moment, there are only photographs.

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