Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Lighter Side

Of artistic therapy, that is.

While I still intend to go forward with my painting plans, I decided as well to pick up working on dolls again. It's been a few years since I've worked on any, and I have to say I feel a renewed energy around them! (apparently others like them as well, since the first round of them sold out overnight. Yay!)

A mix of needle felting, beading (on some) and clay, somehow the name "Travelers" got stuck on them, they range in size from 8 to 12 inches, though I have plans for some larger ones at some point.

While these are all from the first round and sold out, others will be coming along soon! Have three finished completely, three more mostly finished, and five more sewn and stuffed.

When the next round is finished (hopefully early next week) they'll be able to be found at Charlie's Spot, along with a lot of other goodies from a variety of folks!

In other news, Charlie is progressing well in many ways. While he has yet to regain use of his lower arm and hand, he's able to get around quite well with the assistance of his cane. Right now his biggest obstacle is (still) the aphasia, his ability to find and use words. While I know this is fairy normal in the way stroke recovery progresses (The "Usual" in order of recovering: feet, legs, shoulder, lower arm, hand, speech)it remains the most challenging for both of us.

But, you know, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Artistic Terror

I'm curious what people think about, what their experiences are, with "transformative art." Or whatever you want to call it. Art that comes from someplace else, and taps into shit, shit that may be unpleasant and difficult to deal with. I'm not speaking of "dark art" (though obviously that touches on the same realms at times).... but art that has the potential to bring one through a process of growing.

I doubt I'll be very good at explaining what exactly I mean, so maybe I should just speak in the literal sense.

When all this stuff with Charlie started, one of the ways I found of coping was to start painting again.... but not in a style that I have in the past, working mainly in abstracts. I busted open several rather large packages full of canvas (Plaza Arts was having a 70% off sale on gallery wrap canvas a while back, and I had stocked up) and just started having at it. Some are small 6x6 inches, some are large 4ftx5ft... nothing really tied them together, though, other than the fact that they were abstracts.

Tonight, after a rather difficult few days of communication and sadness on both of our parts, I was "writing in my head", kind of working out some written stuff (before putting it to paper) exploring what all this has been like, this whole fucked up journey, and I realized that *that* may be the thing that ties them together.

Words. Threads.

I want to incorporate a continuous piece of written work into the paintings, and tie them together. Literally. Bringing both fiber work and written work into (on to?) the canvas pieces. Incorporating not just *my* words, but the pages and pages that we've filled already of Charlie practicing his ABC's, his name, his 123's... the random scratchings and scrawlings he's made in his attempts to get across what it is he needs and/or wants at any given time.

Quite frankly, the idea of undertaking such a project is daunting in more than one sense... how do you tie together 20 or so paintings with fabric/yarn/etc? How do you incorporate photographs and medical charts/exams? How do you include those spiral-bound notepad scribbles? Those attempts at communication?

It's also daunting in the emotional sense. Possibly more so. I can work my way around physical shit, one way or another, but plumbing the mental depths of all of this seems risky, and honestly quite frightening... but possibly what I need to do. I haven't processed any of it in a Big Way since it happened. I've talked here and there, I've posted updates on the FaceGook, I've done this, I've done that, but I haven't just embraced and allowed myself to go *there* fully. I've had my moments of "near freak out" but haven't... you know... freaked out. And I'm scared of a project of this sort allowing that mental collapse to occur.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Anger Issues

Woke up angry at the universe today. Well, technically, I didn't wake up that way, as I went to sleep that way. Apologies for the grouchiness, but I need to let it out.

Angry at our ex-employers. Those who promised us "You're going to be able to build five houses by the time we're done" and spoke of large payouts at the end to make it all worthwhile... what they really meant was "Oh, actually you'll just be unemployed." Angry that they managed to build their mini-mansions, while Charlie spent the last ten years not even really able to enjoy his own unfinished home, because he was on the road making sure their business ran as smoothly as could be, that they could enjoy their Go Big lifestyles.

Angry that I don't understand completely what the future holds for us. I see one place that about 40% of stroke survivors have another stroke within 5 years... and then that the average lifespan for a stroke survivor is 7.5 years... but I don't get how such factors as age play into it (I would suppose that since most stroke victims are older, that would effect the outcomes/probabilities... what about for younger folk?) How does the fact that the clot/blockage is still there in Charlie's head play into it?

Angry that we were supposed to be starting our lives right now... focusing on getting things going for *US* again. That two-three weeks ago I was supposed to be leaving my employment, so that my new "job" could be seeing to it that our home was finished, so that he could come home and stay off the road for good next year... to actually enjoy the place he wanted to be, to call home.

Angry that there are days like yesterday, when he's hurting, having headaches, and we were unsure if it's simply due to muscle tension and ongoing eye strain, or more significant.... or this morning, when he seems more confused/lethargic.

Angry that he is the person I have chosen to spend my life with, to grow old with... that we were going to look out for one another. Which is what we're doing now, but it's years earlier than we thought. I understand that many people face these same things, for many different reasons, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Angry that we're a day away from our 16th anniversary, and I have to remind him on a daily basis what my name is.

Charlie's Spot

Monday, September 23, 2013


Charlie's been home exactly a week now. I have to confess to having some rather extreme anxiety about is return, while at the same time being exceptionally happy about it.

Yes... finally sleeping in the same bed together... YAY!

But... what if something happens, and there aren't any nurses right there? We live an hour & a half from the hospital...

Yes... he can be outside, at his own home... YAY!

But... what if he falls??

That kind of shit.

He pushes himself hard, some days. Which is good... sometimes. Other times, not-so-much. Like the other day, when we went out to our place for an afternoon visit --we're still staying at his mom's home down the road for the next 3 to 5 months-- I went to put the dogs in the yard, turn around, and he's coming down the stairs on the deck. Backwards. Without his walker (it was standing at the top of the stairs). Leading with the wrong leg (As the saying goes "Good goes to heaven, bad goes to hell" meaning, when going up the stairs, you lead with your good leg, going down the stairs, you lead with your bad leg)...while he DID make it down safely (despite a chastising from me) the doctors tell you to do these things for a reason... they didn't just make it all up.

Speaking of pushing one's self, today he starts back to therapy. Three days a week in Nashvegas. Up this morning at 5am, helping him put his pants on, tie his shoes. Normally, he can do these things himself, but he's stiffer in the morning (heads out of the gutters, people), a bit more uncoordinated, and has a difficult time moving/doing the things that require more intricate movements. Like putting on pants.

Helping him with that was a bittersweet moment. I felt both the full extent of my love for this wonderful man, and anger at the universe for...well, for all of it. For using this event to remind me of how deep our love goes.

There are beautiful moments when that "couple's telepathy" thing comes into play, when I can guess what he's trying to say. When our friends are over, and there's a lot of conversation happening, and I see the look on his face as he starts to get overwhelmed, and I have to quietly say/remind them "too much right now" and he calms down, the look on his face relaxes back into a smile.

I have to remind myself of "too much" as well, mind you. Yesterday, he asked for his pen and paper (we use drawing a lot to get things across, since he doesn't recall the alphabet yet)... we've been doing word prompts, where I point to an object, and have him repeat its name with me... so, anyways, he "asked" for is pen and paper, and as I passed him the pen, I tried to have him say "pen."  He said "no" a couple of times, and I pushed him.... and then I saw that saying the word "pen" had driven from his mind what it was that *he* had wanted to get across. That it was now gone, the space occupied by the word "pen."

And for a moment, I hated myself.

Then I remembered that none of us was given a guide book for this, that we're all figuring it out together, and hating myself was stupid.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Sampling of Goodies from Charlie's Spot!

Just a smattering of the WIDE variety of artwork you can find in Charlie's Spot! Stop on by and spread the word to your friends!

Also, at a friend's suggestion, I've added a link over on the sidebar, just below the About Me space, where monetary donations can be made. I have to say, I suddenly understand why folks dislike the American medical system so much... getting a $2,000 bill for a short ambulance ride makes one cringe. And that's just for the ambulance!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Charlie's Spot and Assorted Ramblings

I keep meaning to post here... but, to be honest, days are long right now and nights are early. By the time I'm thinking I'm ready to sit down and type, I find myself fading out and ready for sleep.

It's been a long month, 3 hours a day spent in a car, driving back and forth to Nashville, and that's not even counting the time actually spent IN Nashville. That's all coming to an end on Wednesday, when Charlie returns home. Well, home *kinda*... technically, he's returning to his mom's house down the road from us, because it'll be best for him for the next few months/year while we get our living situation at OUR home to where it's easier for him to be out there. I want him home with me, obviously, but... c'est la and all that shit.

So many things going through my head, still.

It's painful to work with him on (re)learning basic things, like the ABC's, or counting past 10. Words like "water" or "bed." Shopping in the preschool section of Barnes & Noble for my 48-yr-old partner was heartbreaking. He understands concepts completely (trust me when I say he's fully capable of following a conversation, and understands all that goes on around him) but the words aren't there for him... Charlie... probably one of the most eloquent and intelligent people I know of. We look at flash cards designed for 3-5 year olds, he studies them... and shakes his head. If I say "A" he repeats it, sounds it out... but five minutes later, if I show him the same card, it's already gone, that file tucked away, but the path to it is lost. I know this one takes time, the re-aquisition  of vocabulary, but it's also one of the more challenging aspects for both of us. The physical is the easy part, muscles "learn well." They're simple beasts. The brain...

The brain is  kooky thing. We sat there one day, and he sang along to the ENTIRE Joan Osbourne album "Relish"... the entire thing he got right (except for the mumbled parts where he never knew what she was saying to begin with). But then, when asked if he wanted to go outside, he couldn't say "outside." Kooky, I tell you... kooky! That whole right brain vs left brain thing. We tried singing answers to questions, to see if that would allow the files that are hidden to be accessed, but it was a no go. So far.

Or, like last week... he'd been working on saying Ajakx (who has been in to visit him several times, thankfully they allow pet visitation at the place he's in). He'd been getting pretty good at it... but was having difficulty with "Ripley" (the new pooch). A few days later, he popped out with "Ripley" with no problem... but couldn't get "Ajakx" again. Or reading cards from friends... most, he looks at, shakes his head, and I read it to him. But on Wednesday, he gets one from our friend from Barbro in Sweden... he looks at it, and goes "Barbara." Close enough for me... but it's odd since he only knew her from when we worked in Phoenix (she was this very shy woman who was staying in the same hotel as us whom we befriended)... he gets her name, but ones from his aunts, longtime friends... ME he doesn't.

He does no know how to say "I love you" when it comes time for me to leave at night. I may have uber-pressured him into learning that one, though!

Then the financial aspects... basically both of us losing our job in essence, the ever-increasing pile of bills, yadda yadda yadda. Those weigh heavily, even when I remind myself that we existed w/out our current (well-paying) job... but then I also remind myself that we didn't have a giant pile of bills at that time, either, and were able to travel and both able to work. It'll work itself out one way or another, that I know. It's just going to mean some major lifestyle changes.

Many of our friends have been generous with donations, but it still leaves a lot to be covered. Honestly, it sends me into a bit of a panic. I recall how when I was young, my father's health issues... bitten by a rattlesnake one year (two weeks in ICU)... followed by heart surgery... followed by back surgery... broke our family in the most literal of senses. I don't think I ever realized how that scarred me in its own way until now.

Not so much a fear of being poor -I was "poor" the majority of my life- but just how fragile financial standings can be. How much impact it can have in other ways. I mean, if we were going about our "regular" lives, being poor would be no big deal... but heading into trying to finish our home, and having to reconsider/replan what the end result will be? Trying to work in those things we thought we had another 20 years or so to plan for? Or just those "normal" day-to-day expenses we now have... ongoing therapy, mainly. And making it so that he's physically able to be in his own home.


It's not all Doom and Gloom, mind you. There are many, many bright things out there, we still laugh at stupid shit (his warped sense of humor is completely intact) and give the cute nurses The Eye... it's just... different, now. I try and maintain a positive face in the more public eye (like FaceGook) but sometimes I need to let a bit out, so my apologies if the posts here get dark every now and then.

Anyways, one of the positive things: As I mentioned, many of our friends have been generous with the dollars... but many live on a budget as well but still wanted to help, so we came up with the idea of a "benefit store" on Etsy. Enter Charlie's Spot. A place filled with the art of many different folks, 100% of the proceeds of which will go towards his medical costs, as well as the renovation/reconfiguring/etc of our home to make it so that he can BE at home eventually.

I know not a lot of people read this blog any more -the dangers of getting lax with it for a while there- but if you DO read it, please share the link above, and encourage your readers to do the same! (and if you or they happen to be an artist, and are interested in donating to the shop, shoot me an email at and we can chat!)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Curveballs: Therapy

I went in this morning so I could sit in on his therapy sessions. Normally, I've been doing afternoons/evenings with him, so he's pooped out and it's hard to judge.

I was impressed with the jump I saw yesterday... I was triply impressed with what I saw today... as were his therapists.

Three laps around the entire upstairs with a platform walker, w/only a bit of stabilization from the PT. (and a break or three mixed in) Using the hemiwalker for trips to the bathroom.

The rt leg is definitely improving exponentially, the rt arm not so much. Which is to be expected at this point. Wherever he ends up with that one will most likely be the last to come, but the OT seemed happy. Well, she was definitely happy. They're working on rt upper extremity weight bearing, active range of motion facilitation, rt-side awareness (visual and otherwise, standing balance (fairly good), and transferring.

Speech is still problematic. I have to say that I'm suddenly regretting not going into ST, as it's one of the more interesting/fascinating aspects to me -how the brain works in to regard to language. Never thought I'd be applying it to Charlie... one of the most eloquent people I know... but hey, Shit happens. He's very good with minimal vocal/visualcuing for most things. Some phonetic jumps... like the earlier mentioned "Fuck vs Phone" and the perseveration is obviously still there, though it really does seem to be making its own jumps as well. Good with written word association w/pictures --write down "fork" and show him two pictures and he'll get 9 out of 10... I want to try writing down three words and showing him ONE picture, and work up from there. Also good w/singing... moderate difficulties with "point at the table/door/window/etc" He still (obviously) has difficulties with relating what it is in the physical world, with what it is in his brain, and with what it is verbally. If that makes sense. Like if you show him a pic of a door, he can match it w/the written word... but if you ask him to point to the door it stops him for a bit, and f you ask him to say it, it also causes pause. Sometimes. The files are still there (to use that terminology) it's just finding the right drawer that they're in and getting them in hand (mouth)

Oh yeah! And two trips up and down the "stairwell" (it's all of five stairs)... while I still understand that there's a strong possibility that he will probably not be running up our stairs any time soon (I'm not ruling anything out, however) it does make me feel good at his future ability to navigate our home. We'll still be doing ramps/poured-concrete sidewalks, and building a downstairs bedroom and bathroom, but... yeah.

Good things.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Curveballs: Three Weeks In

Charlie was in good spirits today, it seemed. I was planning on doing a few rounds of ten leg lifts/kicks with him, but he did 3 rounds of ten on his own, and then a round of 20. I think he may have been doing another round of 10 w/bird when I left, even.

Did some flash cards (which is both heartbreaking to be using toddler-age flashcards w/my 48-yr-old partner, but also encouraging when he gets them)... made up a bunch of my own that I think will be more useful in the day-to-day. Stuff like water, thirsty, hungry, in/out, hot/cold, various names, some numbers, me/we/I/you, house, room, bath, etc.

Some he got right off with no prompting at all (hungry and Ajakx)... but then he'd look at "house" and say "hungry" instead. Right start, at least. Funny story along that lines... he wanted something from the table, but I wasn't sure what it was... out of the blue he goes "Fuck." I said I doubt the nurses would approve of that. Eventually came around that he wanted the phone... again, right start phonetically, wrong finish.

Took a ride down to the park for a bit. Or more like I pushed up to the park. Going back...downhill...should be interesting. Anyone know where wheelchair brakes are located?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Curveballs: Returning Home

Waiting to hear from the docs about post-stroke acupuncture (just to err on the side of being safe, since I know Ginny is cautious in these things, especially involving her son).... but anyways, looking around online, it seems to be fairly well-accepted as a treatment, even by the "normal" medical journals. Though of course they follow with a "well, we can't *necessarily* approve it/back it up, but it *does* seem to work. We just can't prove why" kind of statement.

Having lunch with him and then going home tomorrow afternoon. Going to be weird... my first night alone in our bed, and likely to be the first of many. It will take a lot of work to get our home finished and ready for him to be able to use it... but I know that he will eventually want to live in the home that he designed, planned and built himself. It may be a year or more down the road before he's able to be out there full-time, but whatever. A year goes by pretty fast... and there's lots of work to do to fill that year. Thankfully this happened BEFORE we started the renovation/building, not AFTER, so things can be planned around.

For the somewhat immediate part, it's simple stuff like moving a bed downstairs that he can access if he wants to come out for an evening (though even that is still a ways out, most likely).

For the long-term, it will mean redesigning our home/planned home. Things like removing half the wall in the living room into what had been planned to be a studio room, but will now be a bedroom instead. Using what was the upstairs bedroom as the studio instead.

Things like moving our parking area to the other side of the house and putting in a sidewalk (again, if need be -we don't know what his walking capabilities will be in the end- hopefully he returns to full mobility)

A deck outside the future kitchen with a ramp down to said sidewalk.

Things like "indoor plumbing" as far as the toilet aspect goes, though we'll do a composting toilet, since a "regular" toilet would mean a septic tank... which would mean having "regular" electricity brought in. (I'm still not sure why a septic tank needs electricity, mind you.

Truthfully, the thought that he will one day return to our home is all that keeps me going most days, keeps me on the sane edge of breaking. It may not be next month, or in six months, but eventually he will be able to sleep in our home, in our bed.
Aren't they just big holes in the ground, anyways?) Personally, I think that indoor toilets are kind of gross  -I'd rather my shit [and the attendant bacteria] be in the outhouse, physically removed- than in the actual house with me, but whatever.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


(Be forewarned that this post is a bit disjointed, for reasons that should be clear)

***AUGUST 18th***
It's funny the things that life can throw your way, checking to see if you're paying attention. Not always funny-haha, though.

As those of you who know me from elsewhere already probably already know, this past friday, Aug 16th, at approximately 1pm Charlie had a fairly major stroke while out at lunch with some friends of ours. While this would have been enough of a curveball on its own, it was discovered that this stroke had been proceeded by two TIAs (mini-strokes) that had gone undiagnosed... written off as general tiredness, a headache, or perhaps occurring in sleep and not even noticed at all. Regardless of that, the damage had been done.

Because of the severity of the stroke, and the damages already done, we're pretty limited in what can be done to treat the actual clot itself. Actually we're limited to essentially nothing, so we live with the knowledge that like pretty much all victims of stroke, he will be susceptible to future strokes, but even moreso than most.

Right now we're focusing solely on the therapy aspect... or I should say, at least that's where my focus lies. Helping him to regain as much control over his body as is possible. At this point in time (a term you will be seeing me use much more frequently, as everything is still in such a stat of flux right now, on so many levels) his physical capabilities are pretty seriously limited in some aspects.

******AUGUST 21st: 10pm********

Those things that threaten to make me lose it completely. Got a hotel room for myself, sit down to use my computer... And I can't get it to come on, the power button is screwy--has been for a while---Charlie's always able to get it to stop being a pain and power up with just a few tries.

I think I may get quite drunk tonight.

****AUGUST 21st: 12:30am****

Finally, an hour later, I get my computer to come on. I've neither gotten "quite drunk" nor have I crashed out... but the space has been good. The last day/days has/have been challenging in different ways... everyone is exhausted, nerves are frayed, tensions rise. I keep forgetting all these other things that need doing (paying bills, answering emails, etc) or thinking of *this* other thing... so many things. Catching myself driving to our home... and forgetting why I made the hour & a half drive, what I'm supposed to be doing. Brain stuck (poor choice of words, I know) on what the future could hold for both myself and for Charlie and for the both of us as a "unit." Reminded by friends that it has to be day-by-day right now, but that's a hard thing for me to do, it always has been.

I almost lost it this morning, again. Swallow/speech was in, working with him, and he was asked to say his name. After multiple attempts, he finally managed it. It wasn't a smooth "Charlie" it was a "Char... Char..Char" followed finally by a "Char.... lie." That in itself almost broke me, but when they moved on to trying to say MY name I suddenly realized how infrequently we actually use one another's names in our day-to-day lives (really only to get the other's attention. Even when saying our goodnights, we almost never use the other's name, it is usually simply "love you") but suddenly it became very important to hear it. I haven't heard my name from his lips since... well, I can't recall, since I wasn't paying attention when it happened, because that's what we do... we forget to pay attention. To so many "little" things. But anyways, when asked who I was he couldn't say. He just couldn't get it out. The neural pathways were stuck on "Charlie" and wouldn't switch over, so all he could do was "Char... Char...Char" again. Eventually, with prompting, he got to "Char...Ju" And a few tries later, got it to "Ju.......dah" And two more attempts got him to "Ju..dah."

And it both devastated me and was the brightest spot I've experienced in, well, pretty much forever simultaneously, really.

So a reminder out there to all of you. Pay attention to those little things, and use the names of those you love, as much as you can. Names are powerful, they mean the world.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Food Whore: Red Rice Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Corn and Cukes

If your household is anything like ours is right now, you're either about to be -or already are- maxed out with certain summer fruits and veggies, looking for ways to use up those squash and tomatoes. (Always the main culprits. Bastards.)

Allow me to help you out a bit. Or, more accurately, allow Franny's to help you out. Then get back in e garden, because there's more You Know What out there. Waiting. Growing larger.

  • 1 cup Piedmont red rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; or more to taste
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3/4 cup mixed, halved red and gold cherry tomatoes (about 16)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (about 1 ear)
  • 4 ounces caciocavallo, diced (about 1/2 cup) -can substitute Mozza/asiago/fontina/provolone
  • 1/4 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup diced radishes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 8 basil leaves, torn
  • 4 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsey
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil. Add the rice and boil until the grains begin to split, 15 to 18 minutes. Salt the water heavily and cook until the grains are tender, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Drain the rice very well and spread it out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the vinegar and 2 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let cool.
Transfer the rice to a large bowl. Toss with the tomatoes, corn, cheese, cucumber, radishes, scallions, herbs, and the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar if the salad needs a lift. Drizzle with salad with oil and serve.

Recipe from
FRANNY'S by by Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens.

Friday, August 9, 2013

FAF: Mel Odom, Mushrooms, Sheds and Snails

I first discovered Mel Odom as a young teen, maybe even pre-teen, it's hard to say. That was a while back. I do know I was familiar with his work from an early age via assorted book covers, though it wasn't until I was a little older.... sixteen or so... that I found a book of his work, and fell in love a little bit. Maybe even a few times. Not sure what it was I liked about his style (sarcasm)

In other news, we started on the shed, so we can start on the deconstruction of the original shack/reconstruction of the future kitchen/bathing room. Gotta have a space to put all the stuff in the shack while the kitchen is getting built... I have zero desire to have it all crowded up in the living room for the next 3-5 months. So, yeah.... new shed!

We got the floor base up over the weekend... had a slight rain delay... then got the actual floor done tuesday. Hopefully the rain lets up a bit, and we can get some walls up this coming weekend, maybe even a roof?
I'm not holding my breath on that last part, since one thing  we've had PLENTY of this spring/summer is rain and moisture. Enough that we have some rather cool fungi popping up in the houseplants. (don't worry, even though it's a houseplant, it's outside for the season... not so keen on random fungi indoors, however cool they are)

The snails in the goldfish pond are happy as well. I saw some Snail Sex going on last week (which is pretty cool if you've ever seen it), then the other day I discovered an egg sack on the side of a plant that sits half-submerged in the pond. 

We're about to have a bajillion baby Golden Apple snails... assuming the goldfish don't eat them. I kinda hope they eat some of them, though because while I think they're rather lovely...

They also get rather large. And I don't have room for a bajillion of them.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Garden Goodness and The Hum and the Shiver

One of the benefits of actually being home this spring/summer? Getting to be here for the growing season... flowers aplenty, and veggies out the wazoo. Zucchini, anyone? Weeds?

Speaking of gardens in the woods, a book I read recently (and enjoyed) was The Hum and the Shiver. Ignore the cheestastic tag "In this valley, songs kill," it's not about a bunch of killer fiddlers... it's not about much, really. Well, it is, but there's not a whole lot that happens, not a lot of action. And it works.
What it's about is a broken (in the literal and metaphorical senses) young woman returning from war in Iraq to her home in rural Tennessee, and how she adjusts to being labeled a "hero," and seeking to find her place in life again... with mixed success. She also happens to be a Tufa, a race that may or may not be exactly human.

One of the things which I enjoyed about this book that made me giggle a little, was that it could kind of be summed up as being about a group of "faeries,"  fond of drink and sex and internal bickering, misunderstood by the other locals, who live just outside of Cookeville... just off highway 70... near Cripple creek.

If you don't know, I live in a rural community... of self-described faeries... in central Tennessee... just outside of Cookeville... off of highway 70 (some of us, anyways)... near Cripple Creek. It make me wonder if the author (who is from Memphis) heard about "the faeries" in the area (or perhaps visited) and just kind of ran with the idea.

Regardless, the book is enjoyable, pick it up!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Okay, Okay!

No, really... okay! I SWEAR I'm going to do better at keeping up with this blog thang. I know I said that a few months back, but this time I mean it. Really.

Quickie Catch Up:

1)  We've been home for many months now, which has been nice. It's supposedly coming to an end in mid-September, when Charlie will return to the road. I'll be leaving my job (anxiety-inducing... no paycheck!) and staying at home with a new job... finishing our home. We currently reside (primarily)in the 20x20 "existing living room" section, with an additional upstairs bedroom, and the Original Shack (which is where the future kitchen/bathing room will be)... which is primarily use as a tool room/storage right now.

It's going to be a LOT of work, but I'm looking forward to it. Moving into the modern century is kind of exciting. You know... indoor showers, a stove... a refrigerator. Thoe kinds of things are pretty nifty. We started construction on a 12x12 shed this weekend, so we have a space for all the stuff that's in the Original Shack to go when we tear it down (hopefully starting THAT in a week or two)

2) Since there won't be a paycheck coming in on a regular basis any more (did I mention anxiety-inducing?) I've been contemplating various ways of making some $ching$... which led to me breaking out the sewing machine for the first time in forever. Since our space is going to drastically decrease for the next 6 months-a year, I have to focus on *small*. There aren't any photos yet, as I've just starte, but I'm working on a series of abstracted felted dolls called Travellers, as well as some felted ornaments (just in time for the holidaze!) that I'll be putting up on Etsy, as well as at our local art/craft center (which, conveniently, a friend of ours just took over the management of).

3) Speaking of said arts center and the new management of, they're also looking for ongoing shows, so while I still have the space I've been working on a series of abstract paintings. Not to slam a style (or myself) but abstracts aren't really thing... or haven't been my thing, I should say... but I also need something that has a wider audience than Weird Alien Women, which probably wouldn't move well in Woodbury, Tennessee. But I have to admit to actually enjoying the process of them, in the end! I have to figure out how to get color-true photos of them, mind you. They don't "read" correctly for some reason.


4) We also have a new addition to the household... a foster who became a permanent resident. Meet Ripley, AKA "The Behemoth." She's going to be huge... already she's twice the size she was in this photo  --she's now 23lbs--  and it's just a few weeks later.


All righty, off to see what everyone has been up to in my absence!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Why Yes, I Do Suck

At keeping up with blogs. It's 100% true.

I'm not even going to go into all the details about what's happened since September, which is when I last updated... I'll just do the Quickie Bullet Points Update.

  1. Worked Cleveland, which I totally dug. (I think that's where I was at my last update.)
  2. Fled Cleveland just as winter set in, and came home for Thanksgiving.
  3. Fled Tennessee just as winter set in, and headed to Florida.
  4. Enjoyed a month of sunshine and warmth down south, then headed back to Tennessee for the holidaze.
  5. Made the decision to no longer travel for work, and am now going to be home full-time, except for trips that *I* want to take.
  6. Caught the H3N2 flu, got laid up in bed for 2 weeks... THEN had the pleasure of it morphing into pneumonia, which I'm still dealing with. I've managed to stay out of the hospital thusfar, but it's been tiring.
So, yup... that's the sum of it! Now that I'm home, I hope to keep up with the blogosphere a bit better.... for one thing, I hope to have things to share in said blogosphere. I haven't done anything art-related in almost six months, but just today I started getting the studio back to a functioning space again.

Finding unfinished projects, some of them upwards of two or three years old.
Ideas for paintings running through my head.
Ideas for dolls, as well.

Listening to new(ish) music (Cold Specks)... life is feeling pretty good right now, really, all things considered, pneumonia or no pneumonia. Of course, that could be me trying to distract myself from the fact that Charlie left for St Peterburg this morning, and I won't see him until he comes home in 2-3 weeks. I'm a little jealous that he's in Florida, where it's warm, and I'm home, where it's not warm... even though it's nice to be home. I have another doctor apointment tomorrow, and then a follow-up the next week, so I'm here, like it or not.

Oh yeah! We also built a new outhouse for ourselves! (well, by "we," I mean Charlie, Dashboard, and JB built it.... I supervised)

"Our downfall was, it was so beautiful. For us, who had replaced religion, family, society, ethics with Beauty, who saw ourselves as in the service of Beauty, no warnings were understood, no traps anticipated. To go down, in the service of That — that was the ultimate grace.”
(Diane di Prima)