Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Blooming Life

Fair warning -- this post contains an abridged version of unpleasant medical realities. Don't read if squeamish.

It's been a very long and exhausting year. No, I'm not finished with breast cancer treatment, yet. Yes, I'm finished with chemotherapy. Yes, I've had my mastectomies and lymphadenectomy. Yes, there were good results from the surgeries. Praise God. Yes, I've had radiation. But I have three more infusions of herceptin for a total of 17 infusions every three weeks since last August. Whew. My body is tired. My spirit is tired.

 Trying to bloom where I'm planted
One month after radiation ended I started experiencing minor swelling in my hands and feet. The plastic surgeon thinks this is normal -- thinks that my body is still recovering from major surgery last December and that I need to give it more time. The physical therapists (yes, I'm in physical therapy) think it is cause for alarm. They think it's lymphedema, which is just one more crappy take away from everything else that is happening to my body. In physical therapy, we're working on my range of motion, but mainly the therapists are manipulating my lymph fluid around so that it can properly drain through my subclavian veins. It's complicated. And tiring.

After all cancer treatment is finished in early July, (I can't wait), then I have my next surgery, breast reconstruction, (at the end of July), which is a little terrifying, though I'm trying to be brave. The plastic surgeon is going to make substitute boobs for me from my belly fat, which means that I'm basically going to be cut in two from hip bone to hip bone, just below my belly button, just so I can feel and look "normal" in the long run. Normal meaning that when someone looks at me with clothes on, I will look like a woman by having boob like protrusions. Right now, I have prosthetics where my boobs used to be, which have been expanded to a point so that there will be enough skin to put my belly fat underneath it. But here's the freaky part, (like the rest of it isn't freaky), belly fat remains belly fat no matter where it is in the body. So if I gain weight in the future, it will go straight to my belly, which will have been rearranged to my chest wall. Belly boobs. I know, science! Crazy.

As demanding as this last year has been physically and emotionally, to prepare my heart for the stress of the next surgery, Tilly the Wonder dog and I are out walking and seeing our 'ole dog walking buddies. (!) The next surgery will put me out of commission for a while (again), so the Amazing Reese and I are also saying yes to small social engagements, if feasible. It's been nice to connect (reconnect) on a small level in the midst of such a difficult year.



Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Return to Life

A month ago, I finished what is now referred to as the "worst part of my breast cancer treatment" so far -- radiation therapy. The experience was so bad that I quit in the middle of it, only to coax myself to finish a negotiated reduced treatment course. I NEVER want to do radiation again.

Cancer treatment is not over. Every three weeks, I still have infusions of a drug called Herceptin. Herceptin is the only drug available that effectively treats my type of breast cancer, so I'm exceedingly glad that it was developed. Five more cycles of infusion therapy (which puts me finishing all treatment in July), and then I can focus on breast reconstruction surgery, which, I think (hope) will be the last step in this journey. According to blood work, almost all of my numbers are back to normal, which means that the good days outnumber the bad, though I do tire easily. Also, hoping to improve flexibility and strength in my upper body (post mastectomy), I will start physical therapy later this month.

The vibrancy of spring as new growth appears on the trees and blossoms bloom after a prolonged winter convalescence is the best encouragement -- that and the continued kindness of friends who remember me in their prayers and written messages. Every day, I'm trying to return to life and thankful for my little part of it/in it, however small.

Enjoying an impromptu visit at home from some young neighbor friends 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My Driving Force

Exposed, hurting, lying on what seems like a narrow mortician's table in a cavernous room, alone, encapsulated by an enormous machine shooting me with targeted radiation all in the name of cancer -- I am a science experiment. Technicians come and go, twisting and adjusting my body, laying a heavy gelatinous slab over the scar where my breast used to be, asking if I am OK....I'm not. Every day. It exhausts me. I think I am strong, and yet when the all clear is given and it's time to rise off the table, to leave my torture chamber, it feels exactly like trying to run away from a monster in a dream. My legs want to move but walking is slow and labored. I'm spent. Even though I have been technically released from the shackles of treatment, the heavy chains have really been piled in my arms, handed to me to carry until the next day, when I will be locked to the table once again. Day after day. Week after week. I hate radiation.

Friends drive me to and from the treatments. They sit in the small waiting area and do just that -- wait. Yesterday, my driver was my neighbor and her precious four year old daughter. The four year old asked me how it was when I was finished with treatment. I told her that it was not fun, but that the doctor said it was medicine that I had to take, and that it makes me cry, and she said that she had a flu shot. Empathy -- so sweet. "And did it make you cry?" I ask. "Yes, I did not like it." "But was your mom there to hold your hand?" (To which mom said, "I was there to hold her whole body.") "Yes," she said. "And you know that she loves you, right?" "Yes." "That's what it's like to have friends like you drive me to the doctor and wait for me and drive me home afterwards. It's like the love you feel when your mom holds your hand when you are scared but have to take your medicine anyway, like your flu shot. I feel your love for me and it comforts me. So, thank you for taking me to the doctor today. You helped me take my medicine just by going with me and waiting for me."

The entrance to my torture chamber






Monday, January 22, 2018

Gravity

It came as quite a shock when I was in the clinic the other day, that getting a tattoo was part of the preparation process for radiation treatments. Actually, it's five little tattoos marking the area that will be zapped for 15 minutes a day for six weeks. (Oh, by the way, radiation treatments start later this week.) I was really hoping that with my "pathologic complete response" report after surgery that radiation could be avoided altogether, but since the cancer is/was HER2 positive, and in my lymph nodes, radiation is still recommended as part of the overall treatment plan. To be honest, I'm more than a little apprehensive about radiation. It's just one more small step for this woman, but it feels like a giant leap. It all feels like a giant leap. Like I'm on the moon and a mission control room full of doctors and insurance agents are deciding my future, whether I live or die, from thousands of miles away. Each decision they make directly impacts whether or not I'll make it back home, to loved ones, to live life on earth. But here I am today, with my feet on the ground, and about to get zapped with radiation. I very much feel the gravity of the earth AND the situation. God bless them, I have enlisted a few friends to help with transportation to and from the radiation appointments -- transportation, yes, but also for the moral support. (I don't think I've told them that.)

In addition to radiation, the oncologist has added another drug to my infusion schedule, one which has caused a whole new round of side effects, though still not as bad as the chemicals used during the first six cycles of infusion. All of it -- EVERYTHING -- has slowed me down quite a bit -- starting with the port placement last July to chemotherapy to surgery to more infusions and now to radiation -- but I'm making it and doing as much living as I can when I can.

The doctors are pleased with my recovery from surgery and as such, I'm starting to use my arms beyond tiny t-rex motions again, and feel confident and well enough to socialize (on good days), and have a fuzzy selfie to prove it -- proof positive that in between all of the bad, there's a whole lot of good.

Looks like we all went to the same barber! 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

To Lose by Winning

Four weeks post surgery, my "social life" consists of doctor visits and not much else. Doctor's orders have severely limited my activity level which is a trial in and of itself for someone who likes to DO stuff. The doctor said not to lift anything heavier than a fork, after which I asked if I could have food on the end of the fork! (The answer was yes.) The instructions are really not to lift anything heavier than five pounds. A half gallon of milk is four pounds, so really, I'm not doing much at all....except browsing the internet....which has gotten me into a little bit of trouble. I can't believe what I'm about to admit and I can't believe that I fell for it.

It's no secret that I enjoy all things vintage. Our home is very modestly filled with furniture found in estate sales, consignment shops, and garage sales. More than once I've "rescued" items from curbside (trash) and refurbished them and or repurposed them. The new term for this is upcycling. So, with that mindset in mind coupled with my limited mobility, the majority of my distractions in hunting and gathering has been on the internet -- the great world wide web.

One can search for very specific items on the world wide web....for instance, vintage and estate jewelry. It can be very tempting to look, for instance on Instagram.....no harm there, remember, I'm restricted from manual labor, but Instagram led to Etsy. Oooh, look at all the pretty vintage jewelry on Etsy! So lovely, but, and this is how the thought process went, I bet I can find it cheaper on eBay. I wasn't even SHOPPING for anything, just looking, but I'm very competitive, and when I saw a too-good-to-be-true auction item for .01 (plus $37.50 shipping),  I bid on it. And won. And got excited and bid on something else....plus $37.50 shipping. And won. And now, I've got two cheap pieces of probably plastic cracker box jewelry due to arrive anyday and I have regrets. Big regrets. Spending $37.50 x 2 is not fair to the lovely friends who have come along side us to support us in grand and small ways during this cancer journey/battle. It's not fair to Reese who works hard every single day taking care of me in grand and small ways.

Reese is, of course, kind, gentle, and forgiving about the eBay purchases, which I hope to return. He understandably doesn't want me bidding on anything else, but his grace towards me after I do something so foolish is one more example of why he IS the Amazing Reese.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Life After Surgery

Surgery to remove my breasts and lymph nodes was a little over a week ago. The surgeon called yesterday to tell me the results of the pathology. I burst into tears during my conversation with her. I immediately called Reese and burst into tears. And, moments later, burst into tears again while trying to relay to my parents what the surgeon had said on the phone. The news? Pathologic complete response after neoadjuvant therapy. What that means? In layman's terms -- no evidence of cancer in either of the removed breasts or lymph nodes! The tears were tears of relief. And joy. So much joy.

Doctor's orders have me using my arms very little -- think of tiny t-rex arms and their limited range of motion and you get an idea of how much I can do for myself (not much). There are a few other unpleasantries associated with recovery from the surgery, but they are manageable with lots of help from the Amazing Reese, and both mom and dad, who came to help after surgery. I'm overwhelmed in a good way with the super, terrific, incredibly great report from the pathology. I'm alive with the probability of an extended life, AND I'm home for Christmas. These last few months of hell have all been worth it.

me and dad and our matching hair dos

Monday, November 27, 2017

In Sickness and in Health

Hard to know what sort of update to post reagarding the cancer devil. Life isn't rosy these days, but it is still sweet. Even though I was not in best form, my (54th!) birthday and our family gathering around Thanksgiving still happened. Laughter, tears, goodwill, love, conversation, and friendship were in abundance. Reese and I have been accepting the help offered to us from friends and especially family -- help in the form of meals, cleaning, laundry, dog walking, and even Christmas tree installation. We're much more accustomed to being the helpers instead of the helped, so everything seems out of whack, but that's just the way it is for now.

The tumors aren't shrinking from the chemotherapy as much as was expected -- not great news. Other options are being discussed in addition to the already planned treatment path. Surgery is scheduled for the second week in December. Everything feels unnatural....almost like it is happening to someone else's life, but it's mine. Ours. The Amazing Reese and I are very much in this together. We certainly didn't expect this tragedy in our lives, but years of loving one another for better or worse (this is definitely worse), for richer or poorer, in (this horrible) sickness and in health as long as we both shall live (how long do any of us have?) is making it easier to bear. Not easy, just easier.

In other news, a couple of my flower paintings are in an exhibit at MotherDog Studios in the warehouse district of downtown Houston through mid February. Knowing that I wouldn't feel well enought to attend the opening during Art Crawl, I took some time before my last chemotherapy treatment to go see the show. It was well curated by John Runnels -- no surprise there -- and the studio is more that happy to welcome visitors and patrons of the arts during regular business hours.

Peonies Envy in MotherDog Studios 












Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Heads Up

There are no days where the bulk of my thought processes are not somehow centered around the breast cancer in my body. Though none of us know the time or the place of our death (generally -- there are a few exceptions), I certainly have been thinking of my life with a newfound awareness of its tenuousness. If I die tomorrow (not of cancer -- just some random accident), I'm 98.9% content that I've lived the life I should have lived with the gifts, talents, place, time, and resources that have been entrusted to my care. That's not to say that my life is 98.9% perfect, just that I'm content. There are a few more thank yous to voice, a few debts to pay, a few more things to do, and a few places I would have liked to visit on this earth, but by and large, it's been a great life -- including the adversity. So when I die, preferably later rather than sooner, know that I was grateful for my time here, for my place, and especially for my people, including everyone reading this. Thank you!

With my time yesterday, one of the sweet good days between chemotherapy treatments, I painted. (Only two more chemos to go -- yay!) It's something that I've wanted to do since my chemotherapy induced alopecia started -- not only to document this incredibly personal event, but to take away some of the power it holds over my fragile ego. This feels like kind of a big deal.


It's 18" x 14" oil on linen.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Round Three

Sitting in the infusion chair is scary. People think I'm brave....but I'm not. I cry every time. In order to live, I have to do it, sit there and take my medicine, but it's not easy. The Amazing Reese has been able to join me for every treatment so far, God bless him, but that's a luxury and likely will not last. So today? I'm alive and grateful for it. In this year long journey, the first half of phase one is finished. The tumors have shrunk -- significantly from the first treatment to the second, not so much from the second to the third treatment, but still shrinking. That's a good thing.

Thank you to the community of people both near and far who continue to reach out with offers of help and kindness. Though it's difficult, I'm trying not to compare my journey with others, because life isn't fair, and in any other circumstance, I'd sit and empathize with you about your aunt who lived for five years after a breast cancer diagnosis but died, right now I just can't afford to listen to those stories. For whatever reason, even the good stories can be overwhelming. I love people and value kindness above all, and appreciate that people don't know what to say to me, but maybe just being kind is enough. Maybe we don't always have to talk about cancer. Maybe we can just be.

Thanks for understanding.



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Short and Sweet

Wow. I'm alive and in that sweet spot on the back end of the chemotherapy cycle, that one week of "wellness" before the next cycle of poison begins. After being in bed and in various stages of pain and discomfort for most of the day for the last two weeks, this feels like paradise.

Because of the distress of seeing clumps of hair fall out, I decided on an interim hair do of short -- because somehow it's less stressful to see little wisps of hair falling out than clumps of long strands. My wig is on standby as this short do likely won't last more than a few days.


The closest analogy of exuberant gratitude for this temporary feeling of wellness that I can think of is Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. Though I might not be bouncing around on the outside like Tigger, I'm jumping with giddiness on the inside. I feel well enough to think in complete sentences and paragraphs, so I write. I feel well enough to walk the dog, so I did. I feel well enough to go for a therapeutic float in a friend's swimming pool, so I will. I feel well enough to laugh, so tell me a funny story.

P.S.  As silly as it sounds, I've just gotten permission from the infusion nurses to unplug for a while during my August 21st chemotherapy session so that I can go outside and experience the solar eclipse first hand. I don't know if I'll feel up to it when the time comes, but there's a chance I will. Ever hopeful.



Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A Week One

(This is Reese writing this entry) It has been one week since the first chemo infusion. Our nurse, Lisa, at the Baylor College of Medicine, Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, was simply wonderful. It was a very long day; 8am to 4:30pm. Sarah was a champ throughout the entire event. We visited, played on the Internet, read and sent e-mails, watched two episodes of Bob's Burgers (it always makes Sarah laugh), the time sort of flew by mainly because Sarah and I were enjoying being together. At the very end when they were unplugging the infusion pump, having Sarah fill out some papers, and having her watch an instructional video, it was like someone let all the air out of her tires. She was suddenly very exhausted. I thought we might need a wheelchair to get her to the elevator ... but we didn't. She made it under her own strength down to where her precious sister, Elizabeth, was waiting in the car. Elizabeth came all the way from San Diego to help with the first day of treatment. Week one has been very difficult. The chemical cocktail that was infused has done a harsh number on Sarah's ability to function. We are exceedingly grateful to everyone who has helped, offered to help, and most of all prayed.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Exhaustion

In the span of a few weeks, I've gone from training for an 8 mile race to barely being able to walk to the end of the block. It's certainly humbling. Without delving into the nitty gritty, the first cycle of chemotherapy was no piece of cake. Days later, and I'm still exhausted. 

Thank you so much to those who have reached out and offered support and comfort to me and my family. I've read every note and taken to heart the kind thoughts. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ImPORTant Day

Dear friends,

Please forgive the impersonal nature of sharing this news. Nine days ago, I met with an oncologist who confirmed the sobering results of several biopsies from my right breast and armpit -- breast cancer. The days are starting to run together -- so much is happening so quickly -- I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of my diagnosis and the impending treatment.

Today I will have a small surgical procedure to implant a port to administer chemotherapy, which begins August 1st.

The treatment plan will start with 5 - 6 months of chemotherapy, followed by a mastectomy, lymphadenectomy of the nodes in my armpit, 6 weeks of radiation, then a drug called Herceptin for one year during which time, presumably, they will perform reconstructive surgery on my breast. My breast cancer is HER2 positive, which means that it's unreasonably aggressive.

Please remember me in your prayers as I begin this arduous journey.

Much love,
Sarah






Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Stable Friends

Last week, with permission, I borrowed an image (to paint) from a friend of mine whose horse and dog clearly get along well. The subtleties of the friendship between the horse and dog, the similarities of their coloring, as well as the neutral warm tones of the wood in the stable made for interesting, albeit complicated to paint, subject matter. As the painting has dried over the last week, the colors have continued to develop a certain richness. Who knew neutrals could be so exciting!?


"Stable Friends" is 18" x 24" oil on linen.

Since a well known gift giving time of the year is in the not too distant future, in case anyone is interested, all of my paintings are listed at $2 a square inch. And, for a limited time, all of my paintings sized 12" x 16" or less will be $1 a square inch, which includes everything in the photo below, which means that the paintings in the photo range in price from $35 - $180. (There are four 12" x 15" 's on the table.)

Come have a look.


Ever thought about commissioning a painting? There's still time for the work to be finished before the holidays, and I'd love to paint something specifically for you. Commission work is $3 a square inch.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Voices of Trees


Last week I stopped by MotherDogStudios, a 22,000 square foot warehouse space, to view a very impressive show that John Runnels has gathered and curated called Voices of Trees. 91 artists' works are on view, I personally have three pieces in the show, so that gives one an idea of the scope of show -- it's huge. The cavernous space lends itself to presenting large pieces well, and the smaller works are carefully curated to not diminish their appeal to the observer, as noted by the five smaller paintings flanking my own "Cottonwood". (above) (That's Andy Dearwater's pear still life to the right of Cottonwood.)



"Glenwood Oak" is another of my paintings in the show, surrounded by cutouts and what appears to be black and white photography. To be honest, I was distracted by the conversation, John Runnels was a thorough tour guide, and spent more time listening to his musings than contemplatively looking at the work.


"Hermann Park Trees - 3" is my final piece in the show. It's a piece that I started in 2009, but recently reworked. It was hanging in our dining room before this show, and seemed to become more nuanced daily. Isn't that what happens when we fall in love with something/someone? Each day, we are more amazed than the day before, and we find new things to accept, embrace, admire?


"Hermann Park Trees - 3" is on the wall beyond this multi tiered tree branch chandelier. Very cool.


These are some works in the front gallery space. Apologies for not remembering or recording the artist's names for the corresponding works. The above photo is NOT upside down. Those bare trees are hanging from the ceiling!

The show is on view now, open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (ish) (or by appointment 713 229 9760)  at 720 Walnut Street in Houston's downtown warehouse district. The Amazing Reese and I plan to be at MotherDogStudios for a couple/few hours during Art Crawl on November 19th, probably late afternoon/early evening. (I'll verify times as the date draws nearer.) In the meantime, I'd be more than happy to meet anyone there to view the show together. Let me know.




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Failure 101

Recently, I watched two separate talks by two different people on the value of failure. Back in late July, a mere three blog posts ago, I even wrote about several of my failures regarding the building of our little blue house library. I honestly thought that all was well, and that after a rousing successful soft opening of the little blue house library in our front yard, where neighbors came and borrowed books and left books for other neighbors to read, including me, I'm here to say that failures, while they might be character building, don't go hand in hand with building a teeny tiny house.



One rainy morning was all the proof needed to discredit any success of the durability of the little book house. The rain caused several areas of the roof to swell and split, which is really not good. In fact, it's quite bad. So, yesterday, after a journey to the hardware store with the intention of building a new roof, I realized that I needed MORE. More of everything and anything that would help protect the little house from rain.



Another trip to the hardware store yielded a sack full of waterproofing supplies, which, upon exiting the car, the doubled plastic sack ripped and all of the contents of the sack fell into the goopy gutter, and gentle reader, remember, it had just rained the day before.....the can of primer paint burst open, spilling 7/8ths of its contents in said gutter, and splattering everything in its vicinity....all of those new waterproofing products. But wait, there's more.....


One of the products that I got at the hardware store is this liquid plastic stuff in a spray can called flex seal. (As seen on TV, just not by me. It probably would have been wise for me to have seen that "as seen on TV" commercial, but alas, all I did was read the back of the can, which, presumably, should have been enough, but, not in this instance.) Two people had recommended the product, which is why I bought it. As per the instructions on the can, I cleaned all surfaces to be treated, and sprayed the surface that I wanted to coat from 8 to 12 inches away in a side by side motion. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and all the saints -- this is not what I thought it was and isn't doing what I thought it would do.  Some of the product accidentally got on the window of the front door, and the plastic coating is not coming off of it....not with alcohol, not with turpentine, not with salt or baking soda, not with Windex, not with Scrub Daddy....nothing.  And there are flecks of plastic all over the surface of the little house, and the whole thing looks pitiful, is pitiful. Oy vey what have I done? Maybe, hopefully, the library is/will be protected until I can build another roof, but in the meantime, I've made a huge mistake. Like the sign above says, library temporarily closed.   :(

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tiny Blue House

Thanks to an extensive amount of help from our daughter, Anna, a couple of weeks ago, and a copious amount of work since then, our little free library is finally up and running! It hasn't be officially registered with the Little Free Library people, but it will be soon.


This is the beginning of mixing paints to get more or less the right shade of blue.

That yellow square is the future front door, made from a scrap of wood leftover from a dresser mirror.


Front door installed, which is surprisingly difficult -- this took the better part of a morning to finish.
These tiny things are going to be the shutters.

The Amazing Reese is a blur of activity. He dug a starter hole, and then pounded the four by four into the earth. Next, he screwed in the platform for the little blue house.

Installed with books! I'll admit that I got a little verklempt at this point. 
Look how cute those shutters are, with books visible through the windows.

Even though it's been less than 24 hours since it was installed, I've already had several readers stop by to get some books.


In the meantime, take a book, leave a book -- and to that end, the Little Blue House would appreciate  any book donations, especially children's books, but anything really. I'm really looking forward to sharing this with the community. Come on by!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Little Beginnings


The Little Free Library is nearing completion, and to that end, a dear, sweet, kind hearted neighbor has donated a great batch of books to the cause, one of which is a biography on e. e. cummings that I've already started reading. Look for more updates soon!

Friday, July 29, 2016

One Man's Trash


Looking into my neighbor's trash heap a few months ago, I had an eureka moment. The scraps so carefully placed by the side of the curb would be the perfect stuff to build a Little Free Library! The Amazing Reese and Tilly the Wonder dog were with me, and helped me haul it all back home after our run. Well, Reese helped. Tilly was nonplussed. First order of business was to see if any of the scraps were usable. Some were. (Yay!) Then, I had to piece together bits here and there to build walls and re-shingle the roof. A trip to the hardware store yielded Plexiglas for the windows, which Reese graciously re-cut for me because I had measured the space incorrectly where the windows were to be installed. I am not entirely sure how to properly seal these little Plexiglas windows, and for the life of me can't figure out a way to attach a front door, and don't even have a front door because, well, just because I can't figure it out.....for the life of me. The space for the door needs to be at least that big, (see above photo) so that the future librarian (me) can put in the books, and random strangers (and friends) can remove books to take home to read, when the time comes. The books never have to be returned. The idea is that anyone walking past can just grab a book to go. We live near an elementary school, so one of the things I'm most looking forward to is having a kid section, though there will be books for all ages and tastes, fiction and non. The thing is to have variety! Back to the "building it" story, the most recent obstacle, I thought, was making the little house water tight. The fella at the hardware store suggested caulking the cracks with silicone, which is water tight, which I did, but it just so happens that you can't paint over silicone, which, of course, I plan to do, half of the fun has been deciding how to paint it, so guess who gets to sand off all of the silicone that I just spent hours squirting into every nook and cranny? Yep, me.

So, even though I haven't been painting as much as before the great creative mind drought of Sarah Hazel of 2015/2016, I have been hatching other ideas, just not pursuing any of them as fervently as before the brain cloud. And, I'm tentatively happy that this Little Free Library will be finished by the end of the year.....that gives me time to make and hopefully fix a few more mistakes, which, seems to be a regular occurrence these days. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm happy to make the mistakes, because it means that I'm finally doing something.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Accepted

Who can explain a creative drought? Even as I sit here and try to think of clever words to type, my mind is blank, so perhaps I'm not totally out of this wilderness of unspiration. Artistically, I've been at a complete loss of what to do. That's not normal for me.

So, it was incredibly confirming, when, after not painting for a year, that this painting that was barely dry off the easel, was accepted into the Eighth Annual Juried Exhibition for Archway Gallery! The juror was John Runnels, seen here with me in this photo. The show will be in the gallery until August 3.


 The Amazing Reese was graciously taking photos, an inordinate amount of photos --  this one is my favorite.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Self Portrait at 52 and a Half


After months of inactivity in the studio, I did it -- I spent the afternoon painting. Since starting painting 12-ish years ago, I've never gone this long without painting, or writing. Suffice it to say, it's been a weird stage/place to be. Hopefully, this is the start of a new beginning, a renewed focus, and inspiration to continue toward a pursuit in the arts. This took heart, hands, intellect, and all of the bravery in my soul just squeeze paint on the palette. Phew. What a day!

The subject matter was chosen because it affects no one but me if it's a lousy painting. #selfieportrait


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lucille Two

When the Amazing Reese and I first got married, when we were just baby adults, way back in 1984, our family car was a 1950 Chevrolet panel wagon named Lucille, christened after BB King's famous guitar. I loved her.



Lucille was faithful in spurts. Not withstanding the rusted out floorboard, which we covered with newspapers, she did get us from Colorado to California to Texas, but she preferred cold weather, and she really needed a push to get started, preferably a small hill so that we could give her a few good tries before reaching the bottom of the slope. It's neither cold nor hilly in Houston, so, not too long after we moved to here, we sold her. From that day till this, I've missed her. My one consolation is, as silly as it sounds, that the famous monster truck Grave Digger is actually the reincarnated Lucille.

For almost as long as I've lived in Houston, there has been an Art Car Parade. We've attended many, many parades, volunteered in a few, but what I've wanted for years was have/create an art car of my own. It's been on my bucket list for some time now.

Last week while checking my twitter feed one evening, I saw this:

Looking for a sweet ride to turn into an art car? This could be yours if you get it out of my driveway. pic.twitter.com/kv4ML68Tvk

What? Is it really true? Is someone really giving away a car? All these years of wondering if I'd ever actually have an opportunity to create an art car of my own, and this one is falling in my lap? YES! YES! YES!

Arranging for a tow truck felt like planning a surprise party. To add to the fun, the tow truck driver couldn't have been more delighted. All the way home, people would nod or wave to him from the streets and he would honk his horn and wave back. Reese and I were both giggly on the way home, and a little horrified that our "new" car was going to fall off the end of the tow truck bed. (Roads in Houston are a bit bumpy, to say the least.)



We are SO pleased to announce that we are now the proud "almost" owners (still have to sign the papers) of a 1980 Buick stretch limousine, affectionately named Lucille Two, in honor of our 1950 Chevrolet Panel Wagon, and a gentle nod to Lucille Two (Lucille Austero) in Arrested Development.


She's parked in our driveway RIGHT NOW!!!


Lucille Two, being a 1980 vehicle, needs quite a bit of TLC. The Amazing Reese has already started the process of changing/replacing various fluids and we did crank her up for a few minutes, but she's not quite ready for the open road -- not even close. For one thing, she needs new tires.


Then, we need to figure out how to do body work. We're clueless, but ready to learn. Reese thinks with all this work ahead of us that she won't be ready for the 2016 Art Car Parade, but I'm ever hopeful. *fingers crossed*

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Portrait of a Homeless Man


This painting first began churning around in the the cavernous spaces of my brain back in 2009. Some paintings are like that -- I think and think about them, sometimes dreaming about how to convey what will go on the canvas without getting overly bogged in details, instead to focus on the big picture and (perhaps) a smaller message, if that makes any sense. For this one, however, it wasn't until last summer that I actually put brush to canvas and started on it. Started is the key word in that last sentence, because it was left VERY unfinished. It languished on the floor of the art studio for the last year collecting dust. It got shuffled around the studio, finally, firmly wedged between a pile of paintings stacked against the wall. Recently, someone reminded me of it, and last week or so, it got put it back on the easel just to see if any inspiration would unclog the enormous mental block experienced every time I glanced at it. This process took several attempts at painting something, then wiping it off, painting something, and wiping it off again. This is about the fourth attempt at the background and thankfully, it was a successful one, if not exhausting. I'm VERY pleased with how the background completes and complements this painting, and brings out the clear green of the eyes. And good grief, it's so much better than the other three attempts.

 Portrait of a Homeless Man -- Louis is 20" x 16", oil on linen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Edison


This is the commissioned portrait I've been working toward completing for the last few weeks. It's done. All I need to do to "finish" it is paint the edges black and sign it. It's a 16" x 20" oil on linen.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

This Present Drought

It's been an inordinately long time since I posted, for reasons not fully understood, even by me. Hence, the silence. My creativity seems to have slipped into a black hole -- a vortex of vagueness and emptiness. Well, maybe not emptiness so much as a deep earthen cavern where one stumbles in the darkness and where the damp coldness chokes any spark of light. It has been excruciatingly difficult to find creativity. Sustaining it has been nigh to impossible. That said, I am working on a commission, a portrait, that is slowly evolving into the likeness of the person, but the work has been long and hard. This struggle is probably a normal part of any creative person's process.....though blessings of creativity in my past have FAR far far exceeded this present drought.

The drought seems to be confined only to the creative aspect of my life. It is all encompassing -- writing, painting, cooking, gardening, playing music -- all has suffered. I can pull an occasional rabbit out of the hat, but mostly, the tricks are old, tired, and exposed.

This isn't a complaint -- honestly -- it's just an attempt at an explanation. Only my creative life has been disrupted -- I'm more stunned than anything, surprised that the normally fertile soil of my brain is such a parched desert of a landscape. Hopefully, just explaining this vacuous mind suck will revive something.....anything to reconnect my normally creative mind and hands to my heart, soul, and spirit. And hopefully, soon, I will find beauty in this desert.