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on overdoing…

November 24th, 2022
neutral perle cottons

neutral perle cottons

I recently sent out my “quarterly” art newsletter about my work. I say quarterly in quotes because quarterly is the goal. The actuality is more like meh, I don’t feel like doing that today and maybe semi-annually is better! It could be said I do it because people ask me all the time about what I am working on, or where they can see my work? So that is why I do it.  

Mostly readers comment that I do so much, or that I have so much energy! Apparently that is true. I have always been an over-doer, raised in a family of over-doers (also known as workaholics!) by two over-doers whose ancestors were also over-doers. Something about idle hands being the devil’s workshop! In reality my “abundance” of energy is actually self-preservation.

Overdoing kept me from losing my mind, when as a teenager I knit a sweater while in the hospital for 6 weeks. Knitting and needlepoint kept me from losing my mind as a newlywed in a frigid apartment, where the landlord was too stingy to give us heat, so we learned to bundle up in woolies; and still today thrive in a cooler home than most. And today handwork keeps my mind occupied and brings me peace of mind as I carry on the daily life of a caregiver.

I have been to this rodeo before. Over 20 years ago I was primary caregiver for 22 months for a friend with brain cancer. That journey started out innocently enough, in that it was my employer so it was in my vested interest, I thought, to do everything I could to hold his business & life together during his illness. Soon I was making & taking him to all his medical appointments, making his dinner, taking him fishing & on vacation, injecting his blood thinners, practicing seizure recovery, etc. I lost myself in ‘making’ for him.

It was life-changing for me in that I became more aware of what was truly important in life. It was not overdoing at a desk job making someone else wealthy, while I did even not make a livable wage. Only after that experience when I gained 30 lbs, stopped exercising, let my hair grow long and haggard, did I learn that I would never again do that for another person, no matter my relationship to him/her/they.

Fast forward 20 years and I am again in the trenches. I am fortunate that my husband’s debilitation from 10 years of Parkinson’s did not advance until just this last year. Only this past summer did he stop driving. My daily focus on maintaining my autonomy is equal to, not lesser than, maintaining his comfort and safety. I have not put someone’s needs before my own, this time. My needs are equally as important as his. And yet I am fully present with him during this very sad and heart-breaking part of his life; and of our lives together.

So people always say to me…you have so much energy! I suppose I do, for which I feel blessed. When I first came to ‘quiltin’ I heard the expression UFO’s which stood for unfinished objects. I didn’t have any UFO’s and never would, I thought. Oh but wait, do they mean all forms of hand-work?! Well that is a different story!

As an over-doer, I currently have four hand-work projects in progress. Four UFOs. I don’t consider them UFOs as I do plan to eventually finish them! I actually have a fifth (potential UFO) fermenting in my cranium. How can I possibly start another, I wonder? Well, very easily...squirrel!

meditation scarf

meditation scarf, tobacco linen with neutrals

I have two meditation scarves in process. One is a bias cut gray linen of flowers, inspired by my morning walks, which I started on a Road Scholar trip to NC in April.

meditation bias cut scarf

meditation bias cut scarf

The other I started in San Diego in September, mostly because I did not want to be crinkling a plastic sheet with flower patterns during a conference meeting. This one is a long rectangle of tobacco brown linen stitched with random triangles in neutral colors. This all started when I discovered a full box of neutral perle cottons in the studio! It appears I will run out of linen before I do the perle cotton, though.

Also underway is a half knit hand-dyed merino with Noro wool, bias scarf. Last year I went to my now quite small yarn stash to darn a much loved & worn pair of wool socks. Aha, there is this gorgeous hank of hand-dyed merino, I thought! I need to knit it up…and now; although it had been in the stash for a good 20 years!!!

I should have used bigger needles! I could rip it out and start over, but alas, that would be another UFO….or maybe not! And it may be beautiful when finished, and it will be finished, BUT will undoubtedly be itchy on the neck. It may well just find its way to Goodwill. Undoubtedly someone in need will not care if it itches.

wool bias scarf

merino & Noro bias knit scarf

And then there is a morning walk collage, digitally printed to cotton, which I have been hand-stitching. I had done two of these before and installed them in our bedroom, and they are fabulous! But this one? Oy…What was I thinking printing a creek-bed plant onto cotton? I stopped somewhere in the middle of stitching these countless leaves and now it rests leisurely in its own sack, on top of the overhead projector.

stitched morning walk

stitched creek bed, on morning walk

So while all this is waiting, the most recent Wisdom Gatherers quilt is blocking on the design wall. This is the one I last blogged about. It is of twin sisters for which I decided instead of doing two large quilts with the same identical images, that doing one with each filling half was the best option. The fun thing is I had already pieced the backgrounds when I made this decision, so I used the other half of each one, joined together on the back! So it is nearly a reversible work!

twin wisdom

wisdom quilt of twins Ellen & Carol, 84

And because all this is not enough, I am pondering my next artwork! Of course I have files of ideas and more that keep me awake at night…

All this is to say I am an over-doer and proud of it! It is a title I wear proudly. For if I was not to overdo I probably would curl up in a ball and wither away….or maybe knit something of it!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

October 8th, 2022

Change is coming. It’s in the air. Can you feel it? I can for sure, but not in the way you might imagine!

I have been fighting with these two pieces for quite some time. They are about fraternal twins for the Wisdom Gatherers series. Why are these two works troubling me so? One thing I learned early on in this series, is I far more enjoyed interviewing the women over 80, than I did telling their stories; which is why I stopped at six women interviewed!  So that is one factor.

Then there was the woman who hated the work I designed about her life and had absolutely no qualms whatsoever, telling me so, which further dampened my sails. I did, however, easily complete the most recent piece about my beloved aunt, which was easy to do as I treasure her so. It was my tribute piece to her. So after my last works, two strong political pieces, I decided to “cleanse my palette” with another ‘wisdom gatherer’ piece, or two actually; after which I would have only one more to do!

compilation of disasters

I resisted getting started; and resisted and resisted. Finally, just before our road trip I pieced the backgrounds & had the text for the screens prepared so I could get right on it when we got back!
Every day my intention was to go downstairs to print, but I didn’t.  I seemed to always find something else to do or not to do, anything but go downstairs & screen print that cloth. Finally still dragging my feet I MADE myself go downstairs and start. In quick order I managed to mess up 5 screens…something I have never done in over 20 years of thermo-fax printing!  And this with the mesh no longer available, I ruined five pieces of mesh screen material!
Then I waited another day to screen-print, just to chase the bad mojo away yet proceeded to leave paint blotches all over the fabric! WTH? How long have I been screen-printing? I KNEW this was a message about ignoring my own inner voice; and yet I pressed on!  We artists call those things that we will likely cover up “design elements.”  Yet how many design elements can there be in one piece?! Maybe an entire work comprised of design elements? Hey I may be on to something!!! I digress.
Again, it occurred to me that I am pushing myself do something that does not inspire me; and thus the troubles.  Later I heat-set the paint, brought the pieces back upstairs, pinned to the design wall, from which they stare at me each time I walk into the studio! I keep thinking I should do something with them but nothing happens. How many photographs do I have to cover the blotches? Can I make these smaller? Do all the Wisdom Gatherers pieces have to be the same size? The wheels turn, or rather grind but with no resolution.
And then this morning, out of the blue, while reading a magazine unrelated to art & eating my oatmeal it came to me, that I set the rules, I can change the rules. I can change this up! Why does it have to be two pieces? Weren’t they in utero together? Why can it not be one piece?! And that excites me!!! That old cut and paste really rings my bell. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.
So I photographed the two individually and sent the images to the printer. Next I will cut and paste the paper images and see where I want to go with this. Now I am excited!
I guess that either says more about my determination or stubbornness than I care to admit. Or maybe it is just one thing I can try to control in this time of endless lack of control. Living with a person with a debilitating illness and all that entails is nothing I can control. It is as if I just want one thing to go smoothly. I simply don’t need to be making art that is a struggle. And yet I seem to want to figure it out! It seems I am gathering my own wisdom on this one.

what i learned on my late summer vacation…

September 29th, 2022

my samples from “Line Matters” stitching class with Paula Kovarik

Last week I drove 1281 miles to San Diego (from No. California) and back for a 3 day art conference. Hubs rode along as extra set of eyes, as he no longer drives. It might seem silly to some to drive 4 days to stay 3, but I counted on all 7 days being an adventure! And indeed, it was.

For months beforehand, I spent many a night, between 3-4 am obsessing about driving through the LA Basin, notorious for the worst traffic in the US! I messaged old friends and new, who all live in that area, asking for their wisdom on the best times to drive it; or even the best routes. I asked a local friend who takes their RV to SD annually to rest and refresh, which way they go? Most of the responses were about timing; try to avoid commutes! So I took all that advice and filtered it down to go between 10 am-1 pm!

Although we hit heavy traffic late Wednesday morning where 101 meets 405 near the Getty, I soon discovered the HOV lane which jetted us through the area with no problem. On the return, we again chose the 405 at 10 am on a Sunday but bowed out in Santa Monica to drive the Pacific Coast Highway to Oxnard. It was brilliant! I felt so proud of myself for tackling this huge fear. Granted I had a little help from Chinese herbs, but I did it! What I really learned from that experience was that old adage of doing what scares you. Granted it had been 40 years since we drove through LA, and it might be 40 years before I repeat, if I am still driving at 114! But I faced down something that scared me no end and just did it. And really it was not so hard!

Another thing I learned was in a wonderful stitching class with Paula Kovarik. As witness to young women having incredible imaginations for designing stitching shapes, my brain seemed to lean on my old familiar shapes, the curving line or the pointed peaks. My inability to come up with any new shapes reminded me that I need to put down the nightly mah-jong and block puzzles on the iPad and sketch instead. I need to stretch my drawing muscles! I remember thinking a nightly sketch was a great idea nearly 20 years ago when I shared a room at Asilomar with my good friend Martha Grant from TX. Every evening she pulled out a (paper) notebook full of drawn circles, the size of CDs. Every night she filled in a circle with lines and shapes, just a random sketch. So now I have learned this lesson at least twice in 20 years, maybe I can actually do it!

I took Paula’s class because 1) I am mad for her work and 2) I wanted to stretch my stitching portfolio. As much as I free-motion stitch, and that is essentially all I do to “quilt” my work, I tend to do the same design all the time, the curving line, or the flame shape. Maybe one could say it is my trademark?! In free-motion stitching, I stitch forward and backwards all the time. Yet when I tried new shapes I struggled to stitch backwards. My brain just could not compute. I was reminded of another old adage about keeping one’s mind young and active by learning a new skill…square dancing, a foreign language, a musical instrument, etc.  So I learned I need to practice by drawing, sketching and stitching new shapes; learning a new skill is good for the aging brain.

Initially I had planned to drive it alone but later came to my senses, and asked my mostly home-bound husband if he would like to accompany me. I knew having him along would limit some of my activities, as his stage 4 Parkinsons restricts most of a normal lifestyle. He can barely walk, cannot taste, smell, or digest most foods, has trouble enunciating and swallowing, frequently choking in restaurants. I knew going in that having him along while comforting to me would also place limitations on my personal participation while there.  His challenges weighed heavily on me on this trip, but I persevered, often putting his needs before my own. Most everything we did together took 4x as long, but I kept my cool ever patient, caring and compassionate the whole time. What I learned from this was two-fold: how much strength I have to push a 167# man seated on a walker (because he refuses to use a wheelchair) and to come home and immediately cancel a short December trip I had planned for us to take together!

I had reserved a historic hotel in Silicon Valley to go celebrate my 75th birthday. What I learned on my late summer vacation was I do not want to work that hard on my big day!!! It is I who should be pampered, not anyone else. So I cancelled that reservation and instead am planning a spa day locally, just for me!

I also re-learned that time spent with those of like minds, is always good; but especially in this most challenging time of caregiving, was for me salve on my wounds. It filled my well to spend 3 days with like-minded souls; even without any one-on-one time. I have fought hard to maintain my autonomy throughout this Parkinson’s journey. I  have heard of far too many people, women mostly, who lose themselves in caregiving.  And when the ‘journey’ is over, they are lost, don’t know who they are or where they left off. I fight valiantly every day to maintain my sanity by making art, going to exhibits, visiting museums, seeing friends, having tea with my elder beloved aunt, etc. All of this is to maintain my autonomy.

And finally I learned I need to keep doing this.  After my week’s respite in April, I decided I should take a respite at least twice a year. Then I recanted deciding I would not leave hubs behind by taking solo “vacations” as his health declines. Our daughter is willing to come anytime to stay with him, so I learned to reframe this. I will still take sorely needed respite rather than take a “vacation” I would instead go where the folks of like minds are…take an art class, or a Road Scholar program. Go forth and learn something!

Between my nightly sketching and my caregiving, I am now looking at where I can go next!

Ms. Marion returns to Texas…

September 10th, 2022

Defining Moments 25: Homage

All thanks go to Hurricane Kay for bringing some cooler air to us in No. California. While she may wreak havoc along the way, as hurricanes are wont to do, this old woman remains deeply grateful that through her magic our temperature has dropped 35 degrees from two days ago. We have complained and moaned our way through a record-breaking six-day heatwave of temps generally reserved for Death Valley. We are north of San Francisco, just 20 miles from the ocean so it is not normal for us to have blistering heatwaves. And yet we did. Most summers we get a couple 3-day hot spells, then the fog rolls in and we all can breathe again.

This was anything but normal. We all know someone somewhere who has too much water, too little water, too much heat, too much fire. There simply are no more ‘lovely days at the shore’ anymore. This is serious business. Climate change is real and it’s happening all around us.

We rode it out thanks to frozen dishtowels for the neck & head, pounds of takeout chicken and salads made ahead of time, frozen gel packs for the feet, gallons of water consumed, wearing only linen, and two big fans that we turned on in the evening, during the Flex alerts, when the interior temp reached 90. I ate no ice cream throughout the heatwave but did eat a lot of watermelon. My joints were so much happier without the sugar! We have no AC, as we have never needed it with our “just a few hot days a year.” That is about to change; the climate is changing and so are we. We are older and the excessive heat is not only dangerous but pure & simple torment.

Today’s cooling off was actually perfect timing, as Monday I need to ship work to Texas. And for that I needed to heat up the iron. I just finished prepping the work (ironing, rolling & securing it to ship) and also tackled cutting down the shipping box, which was 15″ too long for the work. (shipping companies charge extra for that oversize length) I managed with my arthritic hands to cut and tape the box end together, to insert the prepped work and stuff the bulk of the carton with recycled bubble wrap. Now it is ready to ship, on time. While I had the iron on, I pressed the two linen outfits I wore throughout the heat wave, so they remain ready for gasp! the next one. We simply would not want to be wrinkled when in seclusion at home!!!

This work I am shipping is Defining Moments 25: Homage which is a tribute to my dear friend and series collaborator, the late Marion Coleman. We had decided in 2014 to do a series together, each making our own work, based on our experiences and perspectives growing up as black and white children in mid-century America. We titled it Defining Moments: Stitched Perspectives on Becoming a Woman. We were to start with our childhoods and create autobiographical work up to our 70th birthdays.

We had become good friends and colleagues as adult women, when there was no commonality in our upbringing. She was raised in the Jim Crow era in west Texas and I was a child of white privilege in a suburb of San Francisco. It seemed we would have nothing in common and yet we shared many of the same traits and character. We decided to do 25 pieces each and worked in our own style. We met frequently for lunch or via Skype and talked about various aspects of the series, and about prospective venues where we would like to exhibit it. We talked at great length about piece #25 and decided we would make it a full collaboration, likely something 3-D, which we would construct together.

Life intervened and she was tragically taken by lung cancer in 2019, after completing 13 works in the series. At that time I was working on #23. I continued to work, determined to do 25 while simultaneously grieving the loss of another dear one to cancer. I kept coming back to #25 as a collaborative effort, which was no longer possible. And yet I felt it extremely important that there be a piece that tied this project all together. And that is how Homage came about. It includes text, photos and words all about Marion and what she meant to me. For me it was the ideal ending to our story.

The series enjoyed two wonderful exhibitions (Visions Art Museum in San Diego and LHUCA in Lubbock, TX) and was scheduled for a third which unfortunately was cancelled, when the pandemic struck. I continue to send proposals for this series, as I feel it is such an important and relevant body of work that needs to be seen.

Meanwhile, I was contacted earlier this year by the new curator of LHUCA (Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts) in Lubbock, TX about an invitational 25th anniversary exhibit he was working on. He was seeking work that had exhibited there in the past 25 years; and wanted to know if I would participate and if so, which work from the series would I suggest he include? I offered to send Homage… for many reasons.

Marion was a native of West Texas so in a sense it would be a homecoming for her. And because the work was about her yet made by me, it was as if both of us would be represented in the retrospective. I also wanted this predominantly white community in Texas to bear witness to my friend, the most generous artist I have ever known, a kind, gentle, fierce, courageous, smart and accomplished woman of color.

So Ms. Marion is returning to Texas for autumn! Hopefully it is cooler there.

 

 

heavy decisions…

August 20th, 2022

hubs glorious garden

Coming out from under a month of making hard decisions, plus two new works about heavy-duty subjects; the clouds feel as if they are parting a bit. There is always a sense of OMG, what’s next when work is finished. It is not for lack of inspiration! I have several hand-work projects in utero. I have cloth downstairs awaiting paint. Yet I think I will cleanse my palette a bit with another piece of the Wisdom Gatherers series. I have finished three with three more to go. Two are of twin sisters and I would like to design them in tandem. Even though they are fraternal twins, there is something about having someone shadow throughout one’s life that encourages me to design them simultaneously.

This month I also had the unpleasant task of taking my husband’s car keys and selling his car. His Parkinson’s is advanced enough that I felt he should no longer be driving. Anyone who has had to stop an elder parent from driving, knows this option is no picnic. There is so much to consider, not the least of which is the driver’s independence, dignity and pride of over 60 years behind the wheel. Also factor in that he drove the crash truck on a major interstate for the last decade of his firefighter career. The man knows impaired driving all too well, but clearly did not see it in himself. We sold his car to his caregiver who badly needed one having lost hers in a wildfire a couple years ago. So it felt like a total win-win.

After researching drought tolerant landscapes in books, online and in field trips to nurseries, I interviewed two landscaping companies and hired one to re-landscape our spacious backyard to a drought tolerant oasis. That is currently underway and I anticipate fabulous color and texture coming our way. Hubs still works his front garden which is respondent in flowering pollinators this summer. He has nurtured all the gallardia from dead-heading last year’s abundance. He is now collecting seeds for next year’s crop.

I have also been asked to include 2 pieces from the Defining Moments series into two exhibits this fall. DM 25: Homage is returning to Lubbock, TX for the LHUCA 25th anniversary show.  And DM 21: Loss will be on display at Petaluma Art Center’s Dias de las Muertas autumn exhibit. In addition to the usual altars and luminarias, select member artists have been invited to include work about grief and loss. This piece addresses “Those whose absence from my life have defined my journey. Seven died, two left due to a difference of opinion and one has dementia”. This piece was made before Marion died.

I hope you are enjoying these dog days of summer!

art making in the time of Parkinson’s…

July 19th, 2022

seeing red, both in life and in headlines

I continue to be both amazed and amused that I am able to make art while living through one of the most difficult time periods of my adult life. As I bear witness to my husband’s steep decline into Parkinson’s; as he loses more and more of his independence and thus becomes more dependent on me; as my workload increases; as I assume responsibility for the myriad of tasks he has always done for me, our home, our family and community; as each day of my life is filled with more and more time consuming tasks; I make art. In fact this week I have two pieces running concurrently. Both are mostly red, which is a great metaphor for my current mood.

As a ‘recovering’ workaholic, I know I am up for the task. Actually I don’t think about it much, I just do. And do and do and do. My multitasking abilities are still on point, halfway into my seventh decade, which I find very reassuring, as dementia runs in my family. I mostly sleep well, without any medicinal help, but often wake up at 5 or 6 for the day, which is very strange for me; having never been much of a morning person. And yet I am very aware how important it is that I be present in my body, as it is when we are so distracted that accidents happen. And breathe…

Yesterday was a milestone day in that I took away his car fob. I have been concerned for a while that his neurologist said it was still ok for him to drive when he can barely stand up, hardly walk, and falls constantly. I kept saying we needed him to stop driving before an accident and not after. And yet he still drove; often too slowly and too close to parked cars, but he was ok he assured me. I was just overly cautious. It was ok, until it wasn’t.

His PT caregiver informed me he had run a red light, then stopped dead in the middle of the intersection and nearly hit two people. I immediately scheduled an assessment of his driving, and in the meantime took his car key. So far he has shown no interest in driving my new car, but just in case I hid that spare key as well. It wasn’t an hour later he noticed and complained that the caregiver and I were just paranoid. I know it was the right decision and particularly the right time, before an accident happened.

As I mostly maintain my composure at home, I am releasing tears all over town. In the car on the way to buy groceries, I cry; in a Zoom meeting I weep, in the shower I sob. People worry about me, do I have support, while simultaneously not offering any. Actually the best support I have is available 24/7 and that is the Parkinson’s Caregivers Support Group on Facebook. There I go to learn, show empathy, concern and compassion, vent and weep. What a God-send.

And still I make art…for which I am immensely grateful.

Be well,

summer exhibit at Petaluma Arts Center

June 10th, 2022

Common Threads postcardI was invited to show 5 pieces of my narrative work in the summer exhibit at the Petaluma Arts Center, June 11-July 23, 2022 . The Arts Center is located in the former baggage room of the Petaluma Train Station (now the SMART downtown station); 230 Lakeville Street, Petaluma, CA. Hours: Friday and Saturday, 12-4 pm.  Opening reception: Saturday, June 11, 5:30-7:30 pm.

Common Threads: Art & Fiber curated by Carole Barlas, Irma Vega Bijou and Llisa Demetrios, includes some of the early history of Ida Belle McNear and the nearby former silk mill; with examples of the range of plant and animal fibers locally available like cotton, flax and tencel to wool, silk, alpaca and angora. Also included are many of the spinning and weaving tools that take a fleece to garment; as well as art and wearables made from these fibers.

The curators statement: “As we spoke to the artists about their art works, there was a passion, joy and enthusiasm for what each could make with fibers. The possibilities were endless from functional to decorative, from practical to artistic, and from utilitarian to playful.  They are all very hands-on as they work. Some work by hand every step of the process of taking the fleece or fiber to the finished piece.  The artists would often iterate on an idea. There was a boundless, endless curiosity of each artist about what fibers could do.”

My works in this exhibit are Defining Moments 1: Maternal Grandparents,  Defining Moments 2: Paternal Grandparents Defining Moments 5: Handcraft Heritage (detail of which was used on the postcard, far right),  Defining Moments 18: Inner Growth, and  Wisdom Gatherers: Dorothy, 94  chronicling the life and wisdom of my own beloved elder.

It looks to be a dynamic show. Go see it if you can!

musings about the muse…

May 20th, 2022

detail, of Science Meets Math

The other night when I was awake more than asleep I gave considerable thought to shutting down my blog. My reasons were three-fold: I can’t seem to post on a regular basis anymore, do I really want to share so much of myself online and is it even read it anymore? We all have so much to digest digitally…too much really.

And then today I read a blog post by an artist who diligently posts every Sunday and has hundreds, if not thousands of readers including me now. I re-thought this idea of cutting the cord. The other thing I’ve thought about a lot is sharing personal health issues, on FB, which I honestly try to never do. I avoid it generally primarily because I often don’t want suggestions, but rather to articulate my personal struggle. And yet, from my most recent post came comments that by my being so truthful about my personal struggle, I help others. Who knew? So here goes.

After flying cross the country six weeks ago, I developed a nasty “cold,” later determined to be caused by abundant tree pollens, and motion sickness. I have NEVER gotten motion sickness, other than walking off a cruise ship after a week or more at sea; which always subsided within 24 hours. But no, this bugger is still present in various degrees of debilitation.

On that trip, my caregiving respite, I also moved into anticipatory grief over my husband’s descent further into Parkinson’s. He was diagnosed nearly 11 years ago, and is now in stage 4. It may be as heartbreaking for me to witness, as it is for him to experience.

Something has happened, or better stated not happened with my art because of both the grief and the vertigo. And that is silence. The muse is barely alive. I still do have ideas for new work, mostly inspired by grief and loss; but no motivation to design anything. I spend days doing nothing, which for me, is a foreign and not so happy place; but I am leaning into it. Possibly the best thing to come from this has been tears. For the first time in years I am crying again, and on a semi-regular basis. Before this I was angry, for several years, which sadly, is also a stage of grief.

This image is a detail of a large piece I finished just before my trip and left it blocking on the wall. It is still there, 7 weeks later. I think it is blocked now! I could take it down, but hey, it is color on the wall, so it remains for now.

After weeks and weeks of an unsettled brain, and delving into every holistic modality that has helped me in the past: i.e. chiropractic, Epley maneuver, acupuncture, homeopathy; but with no resolution, I finally went to the doctor this week. Turns out this is all part of the migraine syndrome which I have been dealing with since last fall; which in addition to diet and environment causes, is exacerbated by stress.  The vertigo is a neurological component; so she referred me to neurology.

She also gave me a handout of really great information from UCSF about headaches, migraine and vertigo. In that were recommendations for two books, both written by neurologists. I have dug into “Heal Your Headache, the 1-2-3 Program” by David Buchholz, M.D.;  and learning what I can do to remedy or partially remedy this situation. Of course it involves giving up even more foods, other than those I already have; dairy, wheat, sugar, carbonation, alcohol, red wine, fermented foods, aged foods, and my beloved chocolate. Citrus, avocado, and my other beloved smoked salmon may be next. That old adage may be so true in this case…nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. 

My morning walks have taken a hit, but on the days I am not as dizzy as others, I still do them. They seem to help, at least to lift my spirits. Otherwise, I trudge on, one day at a time, courageously making more changes to regain my health, and in particular my mental health, with art-making taking a back seat for now. It is hard not to get discouraged and yet I know, I have fought other dragons before. I will get through this. And remembering a past life lesson…Grieving is creative work…it’s just done on the inside.

where have i been, part deux…

April 30th, 2022

tulip garden at the Biltmore

Earlier this month I was blessed with a 7 day respite in No. Carolina. As we rounded the bend of what was 2021, and three years of not traveling, I recognized that I was fast approaching lala land if I did not get out of town, or at the very least get a caregivers respite. In December I asked our adult daughter if she were willing to come stay with her father, and “baby-sit” him (his words) while I took a week to clean out the cobwebs? She agreed, so I changed our joint reservation to single supplement and begin to plan how to best use my time in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I was in Asheville for just about 40 hours which were crammed full of weather extremes, galleries, good food, tour of the Biltmore and art-filled economy stimulation. An old friend from college  drove 8 hours round trip, which continues to amaze, to meet me for lunch. Additionally,  she introduced me to Ann Harwell, an art quilter I knew only from social media, who had a solo exhibit at the Momentum Gallery. What a joy to meet her, and see her work in person. A very gifted artist!

ceiling art, ATL airport

My friend dropped me off, further in the mountains at Montreat where I attended a 5 day Road Scholar program on the Scots-Irish Migration to Appalachia. The curriculum was less enchanting than the music and the company. I met a variety of strong, wise, aging women, primarily from the eastern half of the country. Had I gone with my hubs, I doubt I would have been privy to such deep and meaningful conversation.

Many had been or were currently caregivers so lots of conversation took place regarding that. You know how you think you are taking exemplary care of yourself, until someone points out that you are not?! That kind of conversation. I slept well, ate too much, battled endless tree pollen, eventually adapted to the 2700′ altitude and walked 20 miles in just 7 days.

I came back refreshed with a new perspective, which took several days to appear. I decided it was time to hire a PT caregiver, for which there has been great resistance from hubs. I finally realized that he will never agree to this, and that the caregiver is for my respite, not his. I also have experienced a deeper level of grief, as his decade of Parkinson’s takes new ugly twists and devastating turns. I remain grateful for the time away, for new perspective, and for feeling all “the feels.” And I am pondering when I can go again?!

Since I got back, I have been mostly doing more downsizing. Initially I set aside one day a month to do this, but the past two weeks, I have done a couple months worth. For example, right now I am uploading a big stack of old fav CDs to my computer, then to Bluetooth which will transfer the tunes to my car. I have gone through, culled and scanned photos from over 7 albums, sorted through DVDs and CDs. I’m hoping this inspires other people here at the old homestead to consider going through their own stuff! There is small progress, in that he stated he needs new fluorescent tubes put up in his shop, so he can “clean it out.”

I remain hopeful.

 

Lake Susan, Montreat, NC

where have i been?

March 15th, 2022

new work on climate change

Where have I been? Good question…After battling eyestrain and migraine much of the fall quarter, I made some lifestyle changes, which thankfully cleared that problem. With new tinted grey Rx glasses for the computer. I cut back on my screen time, and when I was on the computer taking breaks every hour or so. I also upped the dry eye drops. I started a neurological cocktail of CoQ-12, magnesium oxide and Vit B2, which calmed everything down. However, the most significant change was to completely give up wine, aged cheese, fermented foods and chocolate; the latter being the killer. What is life without chocolate? And what is sweet and fabulous without chocolate in it?

Slowly but surely, the auras stopped and the headaches disappeared. So until I have to learn that lesson again, I feel so much better. I say until I have to relearn it because isn’t that how life goes with us humans? We know what we should not do, but we make allowances and do it anyway? Example: I am lactose intolerant, but they make Lactaid for that. So take a Lactaid and eat that gruyere. No more, until next time, which I hope there will not be.

Additionally I volunteered for a four month project called Cool Block. https://www.coolpetaluma.org I am a Cool Block leader, guiding my neighbors with small changes we all can make towards lowering our carbon footprint. It is requiring far more hours than I anticipated, but I am learning something in the meantime, so all is not lost.

hand-stitched meditation scarf (on linen)

Also I have been hand-stitching a piece of soft linen for a meditation scarf. It is random stitching, and interesting to me where the needle takes me. My stitches are a tad tight as the cloth takes a shape of its own, but I love it the same. I am about ¾ finished and fretting because I am taking a trip soon and wish to take stitching with me. So should I finish this one now, or then, or start a new one, later? (rhetorical question) I am leaning towards starting a new one.

Meanwhile, I painted some cloth that I had commercially printed, about climate change. I am in the design process now, and really loving how it is coming out. I continue to feel immense gratitude for my own good health, and yet sorrow for so many contemporary issues, not the least of which is Ukraine.  Be well.