When I went to my hair cuttery this afternoon (for my third appointment of the day with someone), the snowdrops in their back lot were blooming with abandon. Earning their names as we had cold, cold rain drizzling down, threatening to become snow. :P
I don't know whether these flowers are escapes from the residential back yard on the other side of their privacy fence (see below for widespan view photo) or the bulbs were actually planted in this tiny verge next to the parking area behind the spa. The snowdrops don't care in any case - they just bloom where they are planted with profusion (I expect that is a pretty good analogy for some life lesson:).
I have been watching my inner thinking processes all day (see my earlier morning post for chemical/pharmaceutical insight) ... and it occurs to me that I am beginning to understand my son a tiny bit better. Hmm, a bit of background info.
There is a definitely a genetic tendancy toward anxiety and/or depression issues in my family line - many of the people in my mother's, my and my offsprings' generation of family members have anxiety or depression issues of one kind or another. Now, not to dimish the seriousness of deeply clinical problems some people have ... but, we are pretty much all above average intelligence and mostly pretty productive people (with the possible exception of my son whose occupational goal is 'hermit':). Some of us are medicated and some are not.
It is common in American contemporary culture for the average 'joe' or 'jane' to think having any kind of mental 'issue' is shameful. I happen to think that is a very uneducated opinion! If you know anything at all about neurochemisty, you know that the condition usually reflects a difference in the chemical metabolic pathways of some brain hormone or other - is juvenile diabetes (difference in insulin hormone metabolism) shameful? Not in my humble, but I guess outlooks vary. :P
Along with many other genes I have inherited from my ancestors (which include random traits such as webbed toes, high verbal acuity, unusually acute intrapersonal awareness, hazel eye color, an extreme tendancy toward arthritis and thousands of other less identifiable items), I have chemical imbalances in some of my brain chemistry pathways that make me vulnerable to depression and seasonal affective disorder. (shrug) I include this info here merely as a conversational explanation for the metacognative items I mention below. :) (remember that verbal acuity I identified above?:)
Where was I going with this ... oh, yeah. My son does not like to take medication for his anxiety issues; a fact which I have trouble understanding because the medications I have taken for so long make my life not only bearable but pleasantly stable. He says the drugs (besides being drastically nasty if not taken - they can cause very unpleasant rebound experiences) make him 'feel like a zombie.' HE prefers to deal with his anxiety issues with behavior modification and awareness. (shrug) Works for him I guess - I, myself, am not into suffering. :P
There is a common belief (possibly substantiated by research) that most truly wildly creative people are bipolar (or 'manic depressive' as it used to be called in less pc times)...and that the madness is just the downside of creativity. I am pretty sure creativity can be taught and does not have to be an inborn trait. On the other hand, I can personally testify to the fact that I am lots more productively creative when I am not medicated. :P :P Trust me that is one wicked trade-off. :(
Mark Twain made a comment once to the effect that every person has a much, much richer internal life than anyone can ever really know. Certainly my unmedicated 'inner life' is more introspecitive and analytic than my 'normal' one (well, or I'm just delusional which is a realistic alternate possibility:).
When I am 'normal', I usually spend my mental 'free' time considering my task list, mentally examining problems I feel need to be solved and trying to plan some course of action. In my unmedicated state, I am much more likely to be pondering metacognition or my observations of something I'm reading/watching (for example, right now I am enjoying watching the Masterpiece Theater series Wallander on Netflix - which has a lot to say about the inner life of the central character as well as his job as a Swedish police detective). Convergent lines of thought. :)
One of my favorite adages (probably popular on 'chinese' fortune papers) goes something like this: "When you come to a constriction in the way, transform yourself and move onward." That pretty much explains how I like to deal with problems - if I can walk all around it (mentally) and consider every permutation and possible solution I can work out ... and still find no solution that works to solve the issue ... it is time for me to change the place I am standing or the outlook I am using that causes the issue to _be_ a problem. More than one way to skin a cat as my mother often says. :)
Random brownian motion of the mind with some nature notes tucked in for tonight's post. LOL!
PS Just for reference, I happened to find a photo of the very same snowdrops blooming on Feb. 17th last year (2012). Guess spring is definitely on the way? :)
I woke up quite early this morning ... I have several appointments today and I know if I go back to sleep I will miss one or maybe all of them, so I'm up. I took photos and meant to write an entry here two days ago but have not had the time ... so I thought I would do it now, before my day gets busy.
I have been working on one of the round robin blocks I have for the CrazyQuiltInternational group - I'm almost finished with what I have to 'say' on this block so I took pictures to record my work. This block is part of the Cats-themed traditional round robin (in this case, 'traditional' means in the style of the Victorian/historical crazy quilt:). As you can see, it features a print with the 'waving cat' motif from Japanese iconography. I am the next-to-last person to work on this (um, three people before me in the round) so quite a lot had been done already when I got it.
As it happens, Asian New Year and Mardi Gras were very close in date this year - so I added some Mardi Gras beads (they did actually come from New Orleans/Mardi Gras, via a friend who went a couple of years ago:). I started off with the construction of the button cluster groups - I bought a cute little tin filled with pink and purple buttons when I was down at Material Girls last Saturday (for my new Bernina guide class:). I must have had buttons on the brain because I just kept adding them ... :)
Once I had embroidered in the buttons, I couched the bead chain into place. It looked a bit bare to me so I wound some nice purple eyelash yarn through it for additional texture, then sewed on the smaller clusters of buttons and embroidered feather stitches with silk perle cotton in two shades of pink and lavender. I love the way silk threads look (the luster and depth of color is sumptious:) but my hands are just not kept well enough to work with the thread easily. :P I hope the owner deems the stitching acceptable when she gets her block back! I do...but I know how much frustration went into it. (sad smile)
I like the overall effect - rather more like 'encrusted' work than I can generally achieve. I added some herringbone stitching above the white cat motif, too, in purple and red (you can barely see it in the photo; it adds more texture and a bit of color transition to the block). Here are some more photos of my work:
It is quite challenging to take photos of shiny threads/buttons/beads at night - the flash over-reacts. :)
In other things, I am plodding along. My health is fine, except that I have allowed two of my prescription medicines to run out. Skip's company went to a new insurance plan at New Year's - and I just plain neglected to notice that two of my daily meds were running out. (sigh) Negotiating a new protocol and getting my account set up has taken more time than I'd like (not due to any failure on the part of the company - one of the meds I have run out of is my antidepressant; without it, I am somewhat distracted and lose the train of my behavior easily).
Once every year or two, I allow this to happen to me - usually out of sheer neglect or because I am so poor at looking ahead. (more sighes!) I've been taking this drug since I was 35 or so (was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with an emphasis on depression) - it works, but has unpleasant results when discontinued. First I start to get nightmares again (had dreadful ones regularly throughout my childhood and early adulthood) ... then I get cranky and restless and short-attentioned (even more than is usual for me, which is bad enough:)...then I start to cry. :P Thank goodness I haven't gotten to the latter stage, yet - very unpleasant for all involved (usually takes about two weeks, all other things being normal). Should have my new prescription today or tomorrow (fingers crossed), so I'll be ok soon.
In the meantime, I need to watch myself carefully and keep my temperament in check. :P One of the reasons I'm writing about it here is that I need to recall how awful the process is in an attempt to prompt me to avoid it in the future!
Things are going along at my store - the economy and my state of mind are not helping any. :P I am currently attempting to establish a class schedule for the April-May-June months ... and to make arrangments for a bus trip during our shop hop (Quilter's Quest) in November. Something I know absolutely _nothing_ about!
I told my friend Barbara last night (our weekly sewing evening:) that every day is a new adventure - I never know what I will be dealing with/learning about. Yesterday it was bus trip planning, pharmaceutical logistics and the process for getting a flat tire replaced on my car (I went out for lunch and an hour later the right rear tire on my car was flat - must have punctured it when I drove to get food). Oh - and I got a phone call from my bank saying that my debit card has probably been compromised due to a theft at the bank and they are sending me a new card (my debit card is the only credit card I have).
Wonder what today will bring? I am going for my weekly weigh-in (at least _that_ part of my life is going along fine:) ... and have an appointment with a teacher to schedule classes this morning ... and appoinment to go for my once-every-three-weeks facial hair waxing ... and have to go to the post office ... and need to get my flat tire looked at at a garage, maybe replaced. (hmmm)
Isn't this a pretty background for something? At this moment, as I type this post, I forget where I got this artwork - someone blogged it this week and challenged us to use it in our artwork. I'm thinking maybe for an ATC. :)
I've been around lately, just too busy or maybe too lazy to post. Some days are good ones (like my class day I'm going to tell you about in a minute), some are tough (like the expletives deleted Sunday afternoon at my store with a group meeting, a class _and_ the computer system crashing and not accepting credit card charges) ... and some are just tiring. My diet is going fine - lost four more pounds last week! I'm beginning to feel better, too, which encourages me to keep going.
I took a class in an entirely new medium (to me:) on Saturday. Cauldron Crafts is a small bead/jewelry making shop in Ellicott City, right on Rt. 40. I've met the owner (Murph) and read their newsletter regularly, but had never actually been in the shop before. I found a listing in their class offerings for an introduction to Wire Wrapping - something I've been thinking about learning for years and years - so I took the class on Saturday (yes, I played hookey from my shop:).
I'm pretty much a klutz and untidy with any kind of media (I always get laughed at because I end up wearing any paint or glue I work with:) ... but I love to make things and I have learned, after years and years of struggle with my inherent perfectionism, to be patient and give myself time to improve (can't start off perfect the first go!). Here are some (not very good) photos of my four class project pieces.
First we did very basic wrapped/stacked circles, spread into mounts for stones:
The first one above is a piece of softly colored rose quartz (I think) on copper and the second one is a mother-of-pearl crescent on sterling silver (got better at wrapping the bale wires by the second one, but still a bit sloppy).
The next thing we did was to make a bundle mount for a slab cut from a geode. I definitely improved on the wraps on that one - but my little spirals on the front of the stone look a bit like grape tendrils instead of flat spirals. :)
The last piece we did was an irregularly shaped stone enclosed in a basket of wires. I made mine with twisted square wires for this one (the twist made the silver square wire sparkle:). I'm pretty happy with the wraps I managed to build the basket (on the bottom of the stone) and to finish the bale for hanging the stone.
I can definitely see that the wire wrapping skill(s) get better with practice ... I bought the basic tools to work with wire (we used the shop's tools during class) and I look forward to experimenting. :)
In other developements, I am still working on my Madrona Road fabric challenge piece ... and on the piece for the Cats traditional round robin crazy quilt...and on all the other stuff life throws my way. (grin)
Tomorrow is my day off - it's supposed to be mid40s and partly sunny, so I might take some outdoor time and go visit the local lake or even the big local park...maybe take my drawing stuff along to meditate on something beautiful. We'll see.
PS. I almost forgot to mention - this past week not one but TWO dear friends from the past got in touch with me (by telephone). Joe H. who is a colleague and friend from my graduate school days called to catch up with me - it was really nice to hear his voice! I heard from Sherry F., too, who has been a dear friend for almost 30 years. Very happy, happy week for social relationships. :)