Archive for the ‘health’ Category

this and that…

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

collage of images on my print table cover…yummy!

I got into the pool the other day. So how is this earth shaking news?  I used to swim all the time, at least three days a week for nearly 20 years. Then in 2014-16 I had this inexplicable weird thing going on in my replaced right knee, where it would fill with blood, rendering me immobile and in great pain for days, and weeks on end. I actually noted that it happened 40 times in 52 weeks in 2015, which left me useless most of the year. I had several come to Jesus moments where I understood the message I was receiving was about surrendering control. I also became even more familiar with living with chronic pain, a subject I was certain I had previously mastered.

So what interrupted my swimming was when I got into the pool one day in 2015 and my trick knee froze, leaving me immobilized in the water. It took an act of Congress to get me out of the water, and fear of re-ocurrence prohibited me from entering the water again for nearly two years.

About three weeks ago on a lazy Sunday afternoon I walked through the fear. I drove to the pool, told the guy at the desk that I was re-entering the water after a long absence and could he keep an eye on me?! Sure he said mumbling something about old ladies. I gingerly lowered myself into the pool and after a few terrifying moments actually enjoyed it and stayed in for at least thirty minutes. The miracle was my body did not hurt the entire rest of that day. That was worth noting as my body always hurts. It is just what happens when you mess with Mother Nature. Parts hurt. Always.

Three weeks passed and I rationalized from one day to the next why I could not possibly go swimming that day. Finally on Thursday I went again. And again I had to walk through the fear to get into the water. It was immediately warm and comforting. As I moved through the water I was aware of my hurting parts. I was really aware of my knees until I decided this is probably how knee prostheses feel in the water. It had been so long I had truly forgotten. As I began to relax through backstroke (oh my shoulder!) and breaststroke (why did I leave my goggles at home?) and stretching and bending, something else happened. I began to forget all the scary reasons why I put off this lovely form of exercise!

I began to think about how swimming should be mandatory for every citizen. You must get into the water and float for at least 25 minutes every day! Think of how unstressed our population would be if everyone just got into the water and moved around.

Why is it so hard to do this? How long will I allow this old fear to hold me hostage? I don’t have the answer to it except to say that my new goal is at least once a week to get back into the water, as I still get my cardio in other ways. I imagine at some point the fear will just fade away, maybe even glom onto someone else who needs it more than I do.

start of DM 20..paint blobs as potential design elements

Apparently this aqua movement not only shifted the pain, but also my brain. I finally got started on #20! How to design it has left me frozen in inactivity since before I went to OH for the Quilt National opening. I had typed the story and so this morning I made the screen and painted the background cloth, plus several remnants that will also be used for lettering. I am still not 100% sure where it is leading me, but I work well with that kind of direction. I had a little problem with the paint leaving blobs on the cloth but immediately saw it not as crisis but as design element with which I can work.

on aging…

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

The end goal for finishing the Defining Moments series of 25 pieces is my 70th birthday. Since I am now working on no.19 one could surmise that 70 is approaching. Yes, indeed this is the year, should I be fortunate enough, to reach my 70th birthday. I find that prospect both exhilarating and daunting. Mostly I think a lot about how is this even possible? How can a young person like me be turning 70?! Ha. Twenty five years ago I was in the prime of my life at 44 and 25 years ahead I could be pushing 100, which in my family is entirely possible.

the key looking great past 70 is….hang out with older people!

Aging is both a blessing and a curse. I tend to focus on the blessing, keeping in mind my three dear friends who lost cancer battles and did not have the opportunity. I left two of them behind in my fifties and another two years ago.

I tend to keep my focus on my art and seeing light, color, texture, pattern and shape in everyday life. There is, especially today, so much I could be worrying about other than the next birthday. In fact too many things to worry about, any of which make the following post both shallow and immaterial.

Yet occasionally I am reminded by media, other people or even my own mirror that I am gaining seniority. The two most recent examples were a cashier at Trader Joes who spoke to me but never looked at my face. I was down there somewhere. The very next day the receptionist where I have my hair cut took my cash, made my next appointment and not once looked at me. Initially her rendering me invisible made me angry until my glass half full mindset thought how sad is it to be her and never look anyone in the eye, to never make a connection¬†with another human being. Perhaps it’s the¬†digital mindset.

And yet there are still those little reminders; the distraction while driving to barely avoid someone in the crosswalk (is it my eyes, am I going blind?), the ‘senior moment’ where I ponder is this normal aging or dementia like my¬†sister and my father before her? The dermatologist who with her tight face mentions that ‘unfortunately there is nothing available for YOUR old crepey skin and if there was I would be rich.’ Well bitch according to this ad there is something available and you missed the boat.

If only you had been smart enough to think of this, doc

…how to avoid wrinkles…NOT!

My father used to tell me, as a teenager, that I should be more concerned with what’s¬†inside than outside. (Was this before or after I was surgically altered to have a better appearance?! hmmm…good question!)¬†Still¬†we are bombarded with the media’s obsessional images of “beautiful” with¬†few¬†of the examples over 50; although¬†now 50 seems really young compared to 70! In reality the key to looking youthful is to hang around with really old people;¬†and it did not take me years of expensive education to figure that out.

And remember when flying….sit next to the window with the shade up and take copious photos of the glorious tapestry below. I’d rather be an interesting, visually stimulated old lady than a lifeless, wrinkle free digitized humanoid any day! And it is looking less likely that I will be a ‘nice’ old lady! And get off my lawn…

it’s the little things…

Monday, December 19th, 2016

the image I wanted to stitch to cloth…just married (1971)

One of the things I most enjoy about this series work is I am continually challenged by how to convey my message or tell the story. The piece I have been working on (#16) these past weeks is about our marriage. A couple months ago I began the prep work by dismantling my wedding dress, which my mother had sewn from heavy cotton pique, lined with cotton flannel. This dress was so well constructed & sturdy, I could have gotten married in the Arctic in January, instead off spring in the Bay Area. After I took the dress apart, I made Thermofax screens of our vows from a fill-in-the-blank book gifted by the preacher.

I printed not only the dress fabric but some of the flannel as well. Additionally, I had retained one bridesmaid dress which was also made by my mother. The wedding theme was based on my Russian heritage. The bridesmaids and I wore headscarves and their dresses were of a flimsy, but lined, cotton voile in a red/white/blue paisley print.

the headscarf upon which I wanted the image

The dresses were ‘granny’ style with a wide ruffle at the bottom. Initially I thought to incorporate the ruffle into the new piece but nothing about that spoke to me. I decided instead to fuse different size squares onto the now pieced wedding dress background. That gave¬†the entire piece a bit of a whimsical feel which certainly was not my intention, but worked!

I hand-stitched a piece of the dress lace vertically to the piece. Then I basted my great grandmother’s hand crocheted lace headscarf to the base and hand-stitched that down. Only in doing so did I find a few areas of disintegration that previously were invisible to the¬†eye.

My idea was to then layer and hand-stitch my headscarf on top; but something was missing. It didn’t¬†quite feel right as the¬†headscarf was a large triangle bound in trim and¬†essentially blank¬†in the middle. So I decided to hand-stitch¬†the image of hubs and I walking down the aisle onto the headscarf before I stitched it to the base.

the reverse showing the image printed to silk organza

That became my challenge. I didn’t want to trace it and potentially ruin the one and only priceless heirloom. I thought of several options but none seemed right, so I asked an¬†artist friend and a mentor for their opinions. And voila, from that came the solution. I printed the image onto silk organza which I pinned onto the back of the headscarf heirloom. Then I gingerly placed it into a hoop and stitched the image through to the headscarf. Only after I lost the light when the sun went down did I realize I could perfectly see the image from the reverse side, so I flipped it over and stitched from the reverse, remembering to knot accordingly. Ah success.

the finished stitching of the image onto the headscarf

In today’s morning light I cut away the printed organza on the back side and voila! I have exactly what I wanted.

It’s the little things that bring so much joy!¬†Onward to the next layer…

 

2nd layer showing part of GGM’s headscarf and bridesmaid fabric on top of screen printed dress…stay tuned!

 

great news…

Monday, September 26th, 2016
detail, Defining Moments 12: No Means NO

detail, Defining Moments 12: No Means NO

Apparently I did not blog post earlier about this piece and now I have very wonderful news. The Cliff Notes version is Defining Moments 12: No Means NO has been juried into the biennial Quilt National 2017.

With just 11% of the entries chosen for the 2017 exhibit it is a highly competitive process to have one’s work accepted. I have entered other years and my work never¬†made the cut. The last time I entered was 2009 as knee replacements stole my attention after that. This year I entered just the one piece as I¬†felt it conveyed¬†a very important message as well as good crafts(wo)manship. Traditionally the rules have disallowed online publication of said work before the exhibit opens, so the piece is not on my website nor have I posted it in total anywhere. But I will give you a taste, a detail of the hand-stitching which made this work so remarkable.

The design¬†evolved¬†when the Stanford swimmer got such a lenient sentence for his sexual assault on campus. His ‘victim’ wrote a very profound letter which stirred my repressed feelings about my own campus rape over¬†50 years ago. I got really angry, and I felt shame (for not reporting it). I¬†was just about to¬†commit to fight for social justice for women on college campuses nationwide when¬†I realized I hate being an activist! I’d rather make art. So make art I did. I made a new #12, squeezing it between two previous pieces in the series.

I screen printed my own story to white cotton, slashed to represent the shattering of my sense of personal safety and trust, and then hand-stitched like crazy. As I neared the bottom of the piece my stitching became much more intense and deliberate. Afterwards I realized that was old emotion leaking though.

There has been some rumbling on social media from artists whose work was declined. Some say no one wants to see narrative work, no one wants to be told a story. They want to see only beautiful quilts, work they would love to hang in their home. To these artists I say three things.

One, everyone is different. If we were all the same and made all the same work, how bloody boring would that be? Secondly, while I appreciate a beautiful quality piece suitable for the living room as much as the next person, I feel storytelling/narrative work also has a place. It takes great courage to excavate these old stories but in doing so¬†we give others permission to think about and tell their own…and everyone has a story! This work starts conversation. Just think what a different world we would live in if more people felt permission to speak their truth instead of bury it in addiction or aggression. And finally,¬†it is simply¬†good¬†karma to be happy for your colleagues’ success.

 

overwhelmed by words…

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed by¬†all the input available to me to read, digest and potentially put into practice. When the Kindle came out I was overjoyed that I no longer had to feel guilt for the stacks of unfinished books. I could download¬†onto the¬†Kindle, out of sight, out of mind. If I still don’t read¬†them, they are not physically present to remind me of that.¬†Despite being a visual learner I seem to think I need to read everything in order to learn..crazy!

So why in the past few months have I bought 3 hardcover books, which now languish around the house all with maybe a read chapter or two? Right now there are four magazines and three books on the kitchen table for me to read. One of the books has been there since January!

Beyond the hardcopy books and the Kindle books are all the¬†emails I¬†get with stuff I need to read. Then there are the links to wisdom all over social media. How does one read all this stuff, let alone remember it and have a life? I am finding myself overwhelmed by just too much knowledge. And yet I feel if I don’t read it, or don’t follow it, I am going to become some sort of ignorant dolt.

The¬†irony in this is I am now finishing #12 in the collaborative series. This piece is about my quitting college, which was a big tragedy in my parents’ eyes; yet for me the smartest move I’d made to date. Perhaps this ‘need’ to digest every thing I can get my hands on is a hangover from that time. If I read everything I can keep up with the college graduates, many of whom have not opened a book since!

Years ago I had a healer who told me she never watched the news nor read a newspaper. I thought WOW! And now I get it. For to read some of this stuff,  particularly now in another election year, mostly just makes me angry. Why am I doing that to myself? You can call it ignorant if you want, but I think abstaining from it may really the key to sanity. And yes, I do vote, and in fact already have.

My¬†intuitive wisdom continues to awaken¬†me to the fact that I am experiencing artistic and spiritual growth by simply making art, doing the work and being true to myself. Ah “permission” to¬†just let all that other stuff¬†be. How liberating!

Upheaval 2

Upheaval 2

Today’s image is of my work Upheaval 2 which is currently in the Zeitgeist¬†exhibit at the Petaluma Arts Center (until July 10). This juried exhibit captures the times through art. My¬†work is based on the challenges of a family member with dementia. First it was my parent¬†and now¬†two others have been afflicted so it is a subject with which I have become quite familiar. I was pretty dazzled to see they installed this work on an orange wall. It’s the little things that bring me joy!

on getting out of my own way…

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

TG Series clothI have spent most of this day fighting the voice that tells me I must go downstairs (to the cold basement) and create two new thermofax screens to print cloth for #11. This sense of urgency is based on two things; that #10 is nearly¬†completely stitched and with 15 more to go, time is a wastin’. Even with all the self awareness work I have done I still seem to occasionally believe that old family mantra that procrastination = laziness. Unbelievable!

Way back last year though I began to see procrastination = process & fermentation so why should I feel the least bit poorly that I am not interested in making those screens right this minute, or worse yet applying them immediately to cloth? After all it is just January 5 and I have 361 more days thanks to Leap Year to make those 15 pieces, or at least ten of them.

So utilizing the best excuse possible of a¬†cold basement on a rainy winter’s day I chose to stay upstairs and stitch more of #10. I put on some Bach and stitched for quite some time. I accomplished a lot not the least of which was I got out of my head. It¬†occurred to me that the real reason I had not wanted to go make the screens and use them was I was not yet content with¬†my choice of fabrics for this piece. I had pinned some¬†choices to the design wall, based entirely on the available length of the fabrics. Today it came¬†to me that I could use instead other fabric I had not even considered; fabric that makes total and complete sense. For the theme of #11 is what I hope will be the last time I tell in cloth the story of my shortening surgeries.

The new cloth for #11 is already printed with imagery. It is a piece from the very beginning of my work on the TallGirl Series. It is printed with tall girl tales for¬†which I had changed the font so the stories were illegible. It was designed a decade ago when I’d just begun to find my voice, but still was fearful of the repercussion¬†of doing so. How totally¬†appropriate and relevant to use cloth from the project conception¬†to put closure on it today.

Thanks be to Johann for the clarity! We must visit more often.

 

life stories…

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
Medical Research from the TallGirl Series: A Body of Work

Medical Research from the TallGirl Series: A Body of Work

It has been nearly a month since I posted. I used to be so good at this! Well I do have my list of excuses‚Ķ As a wizen woman once told me, what good are excuses if we don’t use them?¬†

I continue to work on and enjoy the process of the collaborative series. I am now stitching #9 while simultaneously drafting the design for #10.

Number eleven will likely be the surgery piece of which I am still uncertain. A therapist long ago told me I might never get over the drastic changes made to my body. This subject has literally defined my life so it absolutely needs a place in this series; yet what to say that I have not already said?

Appropriately enough I have, for the past year had major inflammation & debilitation issues with one of my knees which was replaced four years ago. All tests have proven the prosthesis is stable but there is definitely something amiss. Some say more surgery, others say no more surgery!

This reminds me once again just how unique my medical history is and how I continue to be a medical oddity. And yet I push through, a day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. I do admit though to being envious of those who move with ease in the world without so much as a thought. Sometimes I just watch people walk, in complete awe of how effortless it seems. Yet everything is relative, as I feel cheated by those who can walk, run and sprint; there are those who have felt cheated to have been cut down in their prime.

Last week another such wonderful person, a strong and courageous friend of over six decades, died. Chris and I met in utero as our parents were university neighbors and life-long friends. Although we lived in different states, our families gathered together almost yearly. Chris and I really connected in our adolescence and stayed in touch throughout high school, college, marriages, divorce, kids, careers, retirements and cancer. Whenever I feel the least bit of sorrow for my broken body I am also aware of just how blessed I am to be otherwise healthy. I am a little slower but still putting out the art and increasingly grateful for the opportunity to do so.

unexpected nirvana…

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
the view from our room

the view from our room

I just returned from a fabulous five-day art retreat on the shores of Lake Tahoe. What could have been a disastrous turn of events actually turned into nirvana for me. The classroom I was assigned to was midway up on billy goat mountain. I traversed it slowly with cane and friend in tow four times on the first day and that night my knee cried “uncle!”

In the night I decided that the best plan was to have my sewing supply bag and workshop machine brought down from on high to our large room. There I set up shop & laid out designs on the spare bed. Sewing primarily by hand, I worked propped up on the bed with pillows and ice, with lovely Lake Tahoe out the window and Pandora cranking out the tunes on my iPad. It literally was divine! What I actually needed on this retreat, without realizing it until then, was long periods of solitude, to rest my brain and body.

The teacher Lorie McGown, texted me during the days and asked permission to come to studio solitude to check out my work progress. That too was great as I got to know her, had private instruction and got her good feedback on my work. A kindred spirit indeed!

My intention for the retreat was to get going¬†on¬†another piece in the 25 pc collaborative series I have been working on this year. ¬†This piece is about my handcraft heritage and I planned to incorporate hand-crocheted doilies, hand-knitting, my great grandmother’s hand-crocheted head scarf, my father’s christening gown, etc.

What I hadn’t been able to figure out was how to make it pop as¬†the french vanilla beige was boring to me. Lorie encouraged me to layer and incorporate pieces of my own work into it and from there it just took off.

father's christening gown on handwoven cloth

father’s christening gown on handwoven cloth

For example, this piece¬†still in progress of my father’s christening gown is sewn to my handwoven silk scarf and my great aunt’s handwoven shawl. Another piece incorporated a lovely quilted belt my mother had made for herself in the ’90’s. She was a world-class hand piecer and quilter.

layers of doilies and Mom's hand-pieced quilting

layers of doilies and Mom’s hand-pieced quilting

Now I am back and rediscovering the challenges of not being able to hand-stitch 8 hours a day!

hot off the press…

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

 

storey-book-cover

Although I have known for some time this week I received confirmation that my Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work will have a special exhibit at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA. October 17-20. This will be the second time my exhibit has been featured in one of the Mancuso shows, the first being in 2011 in Denver. It received much press and praise there so I expect that will continue.

Whenever the ‘tallgirl’ as I have come to refer to the project emerges it brings a sense of time warp with it. ¬†Since I finished the project and moved on, and have dealt with much of the debilitation by having both knees replaced and had the dreaded two MRIs my ‘tallgirl’ experience has greatly expanded. Had I not done the work I would not have been emotionally and spiritually equipped to handle the challenges that followed. And yet every time I am brought back into that time my heart heals just a wee bit more. ¬†So the exposure is a good thing.

Also I am published again!  This week I received the beautiful new Fabric Surface Design book by Cheryl Rezendes.  My work is featured on page 305 as one of a series of artist profiles: those who use paint, wax, resist, image transfer, prints etc to create color on cloth.  I started to read it last night and I am already so inspired!  The beautiful illustrations and detailed technique explanations make me  anxious to get back to making beautiful cloth again. It is always an honor to have my work featured in the books of others.

Right now I am torn between starting my big Earth Stories project, doing an altered book as homage to my parents or doing another landscape piece. So many choices!

 

the faster i go the behinder i get…

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

I hate the lapses between blog posts but in reality  who wants to read about my grief process.  I continue to put one foot in front of the other and once every so often put same foot down too soon or too late and stumble.  Then it takes me about a week to regain my confidence of moving in the world. With an ongoing focus of getting stronger in my mobility following two

privitt-babytotal knee replacements in the past year and a half, the loss of my aged father and my husband’s health issues my muse has hit the road. ¬†I have been able though¬†to do creative bits and pieces here and there but the big work just stares back from the wall. The smaller tasks do not necessarily fill my creative well but get things done.

Most recently I made a baby quilt for my cousin and his wife who are expecting a bambino next month.  I always take these on with great fervor and then quickly remember how much I hate sewing a straight line! For me it is practically impossible even with the positioning foot on the machine. About halfway through I give up control on whether the recipient will like it or not. It is my process after all not theirs. When my daughter was born we received 3 hand-made baby quilts and we still treasure each one three decades later! One by grandmother, another by great-grandmother and the third made by a friend. All treasure.

I also bought a new computer which I sorely needed and have been challenging myself nearly daily to figure out where my images are. Some are on an external drive, some on the new operating system. Some I can’t read the title line so I have to open them up to see. After spending countless hours trying to ferret out an image for someone I decided it was easier to take the work downstairs and just reshoot it. Over 3200 images I have at this point…a nightmare!

The new computer also brought me a real-time full-view of my website and I hated the dark edges of the header artwork, so some tweaks were made to that. Meanwhile I cleaned up some of the images (those I could find!) and so now it is looking spiffy once again.

In between I am painting four new pairs of ‘chucks,’ ¬†delivering work to a gallery exhibit in Oakland, preparing work and signage for my solo exhibit the month of April in Sausalito, and taking a mixed media class from a mentor. ¬†I am close to thinking about the start of 3 pieces for Earth Stories which are due this fall. ¬†I pretty much have it designed in my head. I just need to physically do the work.

And hubby and I have been watching episodes of Doc Martin as a little British humor cures all!

Funny, in proofing this before publishing I realize that even in my lowest moments I am a freaking machine! Still..I am so ready to move on to my next chapter and whatever the muse brings…