Another Week of Doing

I am still at the gym five days a week and love walking in and seeing the painting I gave them a few years ago. It is across from the blood pressure machine and gives me something to look at and remember while the pressure on the arm gets tighter.

I wish I could find more places to give work to.

Our mornings together start here at the dam. I am able to walk in comfort thanks to someone we meet here about the same time each day. I complimented her colorful shoes and she spent a good time telling me how comfortable they were and how to find them online. So I went there and the only color in the size I needed was the same as hers….a bit over the top since I was hoping for black or grey.

She was right. They are the best support and feel like walking on clouds. Hoka brand runners with hardly any weight. Nice. Patches took over the box right away.

The small Australian sketchbooks are almost complete. The fourteenth and last one is half filled with the help of Sadie.

The messy paintbox is a magnet for her hair. Here are many of the ones finished since last week.

And a nod to the wonderful hosts over the years and their baskets, pets, etc.

Jude Walker and Barbara Rowe always had the most interesting things to sketch in their houses and would get me to places for finding just the right tools.

Anne Newton’s cat Boris is even shown in part here. Such a tall tail.

Whenever I use this bottle opener I think of Mike, the pilot who took me into the outback for a splendid five days of pure Australia.

When I finish the books I would like to go through my leathers and find simple covers for each before housing them with the pigments pages book. I think I will make a map of Australia to complete the memory satchel that will hold them all. I think the pods are my favorites, pods and leaves seem to be what my sketchbooks are mostly filled with. Someone down under said years ago that I just painted dead things. I told her that those things stayed still long enough for me to get them down.

Sadie has made her choice for favorite.

It was a good week for us. The meals get easier. Lee makes his own breakfast. I make a smoothie. At lunch it is hot dogs (his favorite) or a turkey sandwich with fruit and a shared beer. Dinner is at a time when I feel a bit more stressed. Lee does too. So I like to make a meal that will last two nights. His favorite is spare ribs. I thaw Smithfield baby back ribs earlier in the day. At three o’clock they are covered tightly with foil and go into a low oven at 325 degrees. Two hours later they are unwrapped and BBQ sauce is put on his half and covered again for another hour. Easy, and lately served with fresh heirloom tomatoes from his garden. And with the oven on I can toss in a pan of asparagus and seasoned potato wedges. A glass of white wine each and we have a good meal.

Another meal that works for two dinners is taking four meaty chicken thighs and sear them on each side in a cast iron fry pan. Remove. Place a bit of olive oil in there with some chopped celery and onion. Saute a bit then pour in about 2 – 3 cups of Pepperidge Farm stuffing and about a cup or so of water that has had chicken base stirred in. Toss in some dried sage and mix together before placing the thighs on top (skin side up) and baking at 350 degrees for about an hour. I like serving this with broccoli and a bit of hollandaise sauce.

Usually once a week we will make our own pizza halves (using bought thin crusts) that rescue anything that needs to be used up from the refrigerator.

So there is the week. Not so bad. I will get back to finishing the small sketchbooks about memories from Australia and clean up the studio.

Til later.

Coping – Doing Our Best

Light flickers a bit more for Lee now. Some times he can find the word, sometimes not. Confusion in why he went to a room, “What was I getting?” Instruction or ideas must come one at a time. I can not speak in paragraphs. A thing that would have been absolutely impossible for Marcel Proust, and I find hard to keep in mind. I get things done by doing more than one thing at a time and I get my ideas thought out by speaking them one after the other.

The one thing he does know for sure is that this thing is happening to his mind. And the one thing that I have come to realize is that it is something only we can deal with. When I read that there is a dementia support group meeting on Tuesday afternoons, I think, “And how does that happen?” Do you drag him along so he can listen to what we both are painfully aware of? No. That is not going to happen.  We stay to a routine that is familiar to him.

I have learned to accept the fact that I can no longer count on him to fix something. And it is a difficult conversation when he believes he can.  I have learned how few people there are to count on. It is me and will be me until we need to call on professionals who know what is needed and when. Until then we take it one day at a time. We find something to laugh about. We talk of what to have for dinner and what to buy from the grocery store. We try to get a walk in at the dam. We watch the news until we can’t take it any more and put in a Netflix cd of British mysteries and escape. We treat ourselves to a few pieces of Australian Darrel Lea Soft Licorice that we found we can buy by the case at a tractor supply store. And we talk. We change the subject if we get sad. We cope.

And one thing we did this week was leave the house for exactly twenty-three hours. We spent the night in Asheville at a friend’s house. Lee is familiar with them and their house. He loves their cat.

And while he napped there, I went shopping at three of my favorite clothing stores. Retail therapy they call it and I could very well have overdosed. It was great. We left their place well before dawn the following morning and were home before 8 am.  My new clothes are put away. We are back in the routine of being slower and more careful.

I have avoided reading the book titled, “The 36 Hour Day”. A friend thought it would help. If it helps, it will be later. Not now. Now I am just keeping things “normal”. I do not want to read other peoples’ experiences. We are busy living our own and keeping the cd movies, licorice and a cool glass of white wine close by. Cat videos on Facebook are something so silly and yet so good to brighten a mood. He likes those and soon forgets the ones he has seen so they can be seen over and over. I think our, or I should say my favorite is the cat in a shark suit riding a rumba machine around and around the kitchen. I identify with that cat in a lot of ways, not least of which is her shark suit.

There is still time in the day to work on those little books. Now I have only three of the fourteen left to fill with memories of all things Australian.

We have had our weekly breakfast out this morning. Lee is going in out the door upstairs, so I will need to see if he needs something. Maybe we will just sit on the porch for a while and talk about things. He will ask a question. I will answer. And he will ask it again. I will answer again and again until I change the subject to something else.

What would he like for dinner? That is a good place to start.

Til next time.

Back on Track – Sort Of

I talked Lee into returning to our walks out at Chatuge Dam. Yesterday it was sunny at eight o’clock in the morning and I could make the foot go 2500 steps.

Today it was further in the fog.

And tomorrow we will go up this path through the woods before turning back.

We have not done this for about twelve years. We loved starting our day out here and walking at least 2.5 miles. Today I got more than 3000 steps in.

And that is after one half hour on my favorite bike here at the gym at 5:30 am.

No one is there that early…just me and some walkers out back.

I do some heavy lifting or pulling or pushing in here.

And wrap it up with a good punching on this…..500 hard jabs.

It is pretty beat up but still tries to wear me down before I give it a final whack.

Lee no longer goes to the gym. Keeping track of how many sets on different machines became too hard for him to keep track of…and he has a hard time getting the words for a conversation with the ones we worked out with. So I go off good and early while he showers, gets his breakfast and feeds the deer.

At home in the studio I have been spending days trying to figure out the pattern and following instructions on you tube to get this carry all sewn together.

Of course I chose my own fabrics from my stash, and I did not like the size so made it all bigger, and ordered the wrong kind of zippers (these seem to be some sort of industrial strength, but I liked the color), I broke a needle on the machine and because I do not know where I put the manual that goes with the sewing machine, I had to go online to see which of all those attachments was for sewing zippers. Now I am waiting for Amazon to send me another longer zipper to do the final steps. Anyone who makes these with the ease of the lady on you tube has my admiration. It was brutal getting this far.

The goal here is to have this cute bag made up of three lined and zippered pockets with additional storage between each pocket…then it all zips closed and you get to carry all your bits and pieces to workshops or at least find the things you need in one place. The problem in putting it together is that it is all sewn together…nothing is added later….each piece of the bloody thing has to go under the sewing machine needle and connect to a zipper and a lining piece and then a pocket lining piece, and so on. then once you have this length of pieces, you close off the pockets and hope the zippers still run along while you cram it into end pieces and the outer case piece. I would never, ever, want to do this again. Once is enough.

Also in the studio I am back at those little books. Two more of the fourteen finished so only five more to go.

An emu, May Gibbs’ little Cuddle Pie and Snuggle Pot and more Eucalyptus, etc. These are really fun and I will be sad to finish.

The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize show is about to close and I need to contact a friend over there to pick up my artwork. I will try to find a place to donate it before heading home next March.

Lee and I are going to the brewery for lunch today and watch a bit more of the Tour de France while there.

Tomorrow a hair cut after our walk then laundry and a bug guy coming and a repair guy coming and then more kindle time.

I look forward to a weekend of just working on the little books and wondering what to do next.

Til later.

PS My physical therapist called and loved the pop up card with vaginal floor muscles moving. She’d like me to consider making her several to have on hand. I said, “no”.

Just Thinking

These are the tai chi figures that stay on one wall in the studio. They are supposed to remind me that with practice, repetition, meditation and focus, things will improve. And it is true. Just do it. But sometimes it is like force feeding yourself brussel sprouts.

Anyway the sewing spree is over. Nothing in the fabric stash left but some horrible blue that was bought only because it was on sale and fabrics that were rusted and have limited value on wearability. That’s twice so far. Spell check disputes the spelling of “brussel” and now “wearability”. I have added them both to their “dictionary”. They need to just start checking these words before jumping to conclusions.

This week my second catalog from the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Exhibit came. There were only fifty-four pieces chosen for the open entries and twenty-nine for the emerging artist category. I feel lucky indeed to have been chosen.

And here is my work among some very stellar pieces in the catalogue.

So now there are two more books, even though small, that I won’t be able to part with. Where does all this stuff go when you slowly realize that either you or it has left the other behind?

This is the opposite wall of the tai chi figures over a day bed. I need to get rid of these books. I don’t use them anymore. Most are art related. Some are beautiful blank journals that I made with the intention of filling with word and/or image. I don’t need them. What I need is a way to get rid of them. I need to throw other things away. My energy is lacking for that right now. Maybe when fall comes and I get busy just for the sake of getting busy again. But now it is summer here, hot humid summer. It is a boring hot humid summer as well.

What I would like is to pare it all down to just the presses, papers, watercolors and brushes. And nothing over five by seven inches. If I want bigger, then piece them all together. I have done it before.

Easy to do and easy to control….and easy to toss on a burn pile.

I wonder sometimes if it is just that I might have lost the passion for doing something. I don’t care so much about some things enough to do work about it. Well, Australia would be the exception. I wonder if it is since the election of such an obvious ass that not only mine but other’s energies have waned. We get sucked into the hope that maybe today is the day his incompetent party will grow some spine and say “Enough!” But it doesn’t happen. Even today when most of us are wondering if we need lessons in speaking Russian. I feel the need to get the sewing machine back out and make more of these pincushions.

So maybe the sewing spree is not over. I do want to thank two friends from Australia who read my blog and assured me that “we are who we are” and “you look just like Michelle Pfeiffer.”  Such kindness from so far away. I think I will take them each a present from the studio when I go back down under next March. At the very least it would be two less things in the studio.

And then there is this. A special glass for white wine made by our son while he visited a couple of weeks ago. made from a pinot grigio bottle. (Spell check did not like those two words either…geesh!)

Another hour or so and I can head to the porch for one of these….probably two.

That is it for now. I am going back to my little sketch books….only seven more to complete.

I did have a bit of a break this morning while the cleaning lady was here. I made a thank you card for my physical therapist who has been working with me on strengthening vaginal muscles. It was a pop up card with a scientific drawing of that particular area with the vaginal floor muscle rigged to move up and down. How many of us get an opportunity to do something like that? My therapy is over. I know what to do. And like the tai chi figures remind me…..just do it!

Til next week….or whenever I have the urge to talk about something.