Friday, October 31, 2008

A Slimmons Halloween

Halloween comes but once a year. Once upon a time, I dressed up my dogs (the ones from then, not now), handed out candy, and ate at least several bags myself over the course of the evening. But those days are gone. I know myself. I cannot have candy in my condo or I will go through it like nobody's business. And I know my dog Cosmos. Presented with repeated visits by unearthly beings at his door, he would probably swallow his own tongue in fright. And so we are locked up tight here, lights off at the front of my unit, windows closed against sound, and the patio gate barracaded. A quiet night.

But it wasn't so last night. Even though it was yet another Cimzia day, I had decided long ago that I was going to the Halloween Party at Slimmons, and I was a-goin'.

My costume started with "Duck" tape and tin foil. Am I nuts, or didn't this used to be "DucT" tape. For taping up air ducts and such? Is this like the "Unabomber" who started out as the "UnIbomber" for sending bombs to professors at universities, only to be misspelt by the media?
For the hat, I used the Elizabethan Collar that Sunny refused to wear after his surgery last year.
And my costume was "Crazy Tin Foil Person."

Halloween at Slimmons:


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Ghost Story

My thanks to Becky, who sent this story to me just in time for Halloween.

This happened about a month ago just outside of Bamberg , S.C. , a small town on the banks of the Edisto River, and while it sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock tale, it's indeed real.

An out of state traveler was walking along the side of the road hitchhiking on a dark night in the middle of a thunderstorm. Time passed slowly and no cars went by. It was raining so hard he could barely see his hand in front of his face.

Suddenly he saw a car approaching, moving slowly and appearing ghostlike in the rain. It slowly and silently crept toward him and stopped.

Wanting a ride very badly, the guy jumped into the car and closed the door; only then did he realize that there was nobody behind the wheel, and no sound of the engine to be heard over the rain.

Again the car crept slowly forward and guy was terrified, too scared to think of jumping out and running. The guy saw that the car was approaching a sharp curve and, still too scared to jump out, he started to pray and beg for his life. He was certain the ghost car would go off the road and into the canals, and he would surely drown! But just before the curve, a shadowy figure appeared at the driver's window and a hand reached in and turned the steering wheel, guiding the car safely around the bend. Then, just as silently, the hand disappeared through the window and the hitchhiker was alone again.

Paralyzed with fear, the guy watched the hand reappear every time they reached a curve. Finally the guy, frightened nearly to death, had all he could take and jumped out of the car and ran through the storm to the nearby town.

Wet and in shock, he went into a lighted tavern and with voice quavering, ordered two shots of whiskey, and then, shaken, he told everybody about his supernatural experience.

A silence came over those listening and everybody got goose bumps. They realized the guy was sober and was telling the truth. And the sounds of the storm continued outside.

About half an hour later, two guys walked into the bar and one says to the other, 'Look Billy Bob, there's that idiot that rode in our car while we was pushin' it in the rain.'

Sunday, October 26, 2008

All That Glitters is not Gold, Sometimes it's Beads, and Sometime's it's a Campfire

Leading campfire songs:

Well I saw the thing comin' out of the sky
It had the one long horn, one big eye
I commenced to shakin' and I said "ooh-eee"
It looks like a purple eater to me

Singing along:

It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater
(One-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater)
A one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater
Sure looks strange to me (One eye?)

Story Teller. I'm not sure whether this one was about "The Hairy Man" or "The Duck." But the story teller asked the audience if we knew what the only thing the Hairy Man was afraid of. Eric responded "The Barber." The correct answer was dogs.

Miles appers to be enjoying the tale:

Gabby and Ian were transfixed too:

After the show was over, we all went out to Islands, a restaurant chain in our area.
Adele demonstrated something that, to me is just wrong. She ordered Thousand Island dressing for her salad, and had the request turned down because they do not make it in their restaurant! And no, our waitress could neither confirm or deny the fact that they don't have it on their menu because there are not 1000 locations in the chain yet.

My haul from the Bead Society of Los Angeles semi-annual bazzar. I will talk more about it later.

Size 11 Czech and Japanese Seed Beads:

Unusually shaped Japanese seed beads. I don't know what I'm going to use them for yet, but they were beautiful:

Size 15 Japanese Seed Beads:

Hand blown decorative beads by Suzanne. I had the good fortune to meet her today. I have some ideas what I will use these for although the prices will force the resulting finished jewelry to be a bit higher in price than I would have hoped in today's economic times. Ah well. I'll figure it out in the end.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pushing It

I'm pushing it. Although there's no question at this point that I am getting better, I am incredibly fatigued at almost all points during the day. I barely can get myself out of bed in the morning; and am even too tired to do mundane things like brush my teeth or eat breakfast once I do. When I'm not interested in food, all is not right with the world.

On the other hand, once I do force myself into motion, I kind of work like a flywheel. The energy from that initial push forces me to keep moving and get at least a certain number of tasks done in a day. Once the energy is spent, I drop into bed like a boulder (I'd say a rock but the collapse is more profound than that), and all I am good for is maybe watching some TV. But at least there is a lot of good things to view right now. This presidential campaign, no matter who's side you are on, has been the most entertaining thing I've ever seen. Good stuff... thank you gentlemen and lady.

Last night, I made my way to Slimmons for exercise class. The motion of the flywheel already was slowing down upon arrival and I questioned my sanity for taking it on. But surprisingly, I was able to do 3 or 4 songs before settling down in a seat to watch the rest of class. I was a bit fuzzy in the head; my clasmates noticed and worried and helped me on those occasions that I needed to move.

I'm not sure what was going on. I attributed it to not having eaten enough before attending, and that is a real possibility. Paula was a doll and found/produced three snyder's pretzel rods and one stick of red licorice. You know that I am grasping at straws when I actually ate red. I didn't really feel any better after eating, but I lied and said I did because they all looked so worried. But after making my way to my car and driving through the canyon, I stopped off at Ralph's Market and bought, amongst a few other staple things, some sushi. I do admit to a small surge of energy after eating that. Enough to make it home on.

I'm worried. Is this fatigue a result of disease? Is it a result of medication? Is it just a part of recovery and because this go-around was so different than anything that I've experienced, so is the recovery? Or is something else going on that nobody's diagnosed?

For the time being, I'm just going to keep pushing the envelope. I have a list of tasks that I want to get done every day. For a normal person, they would not be all that challenging but for me... I don't complete them. I do accomplish some of it, though, and some of it is way better than a couple months ago. Then, all I could do is lay in bed, 24/7.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Time to say Good Bye

It's time. Ruth, aka Twisted Spinster, has been gone since last July. In deference to her, I let her blog remain on my "Great Reads" list. She was a wonderful woman with an interesting perspective. She was always involved and had a great thirst for knowledge. She was also just plain funny and good.

But her last post was written the day before she died, and her last comment/response to that post on her death date. It's kind of macabre to continue to look in on her when I know what I'm going to find. The last post before she died. And the comment on the day.

So I'm going to take it down in a minute. But I wanted this one last chance to say good bye to her before I do.

Blind in One Eye

Eric & I spent a lot of time with his mother Anne in the past several days. It was an emergency; no she is not ill but there was a situation that is not for public consumption which needed to be addressed and addressed immediately. For whatever reason, Anne has liked me right from the beginning (Eric told me then that I had an unfair advantage because she absolutely hated his ex-wife and that anybody who came around after that would be accepted on first sight - lol), and her feelings seem to have intensified over time.

At any rate, it was very tense and the problem required long hours over days to be fixed. Eric was in charge and did most of the work; my job basically was to sit there and provide moral support for both sides. I apparently did my job well.

In the end, Anne grabbed me and hugged me and kissed me all over. Yes, she was wearing lipstick. Bright, greasy, old-lady lipstick.

Eric & I walked to the car, got in, and I started to laugh. "What's so funny?" he asked.

I moaned. "I'm blind in my left eye."


"Your Mom, when she was kissing me, gave me a great big smack-a-roo right on the left lense of my glasses. I can't see!"

You should know that I have, for the time being, resorted to using my old reading glasses. I don't have the heart to take the loving grease off of my bifocals yet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Changing Plans

I thought, yesterday, that I would push myself this morning and go to exercise class. When I got home from visiting with Angie, I even did a single load of laundry - exercise clothes - so that I would not have any excuse when I woke up. But when I woke up, I did not need an excuse not to go. I felt absolutely horrible; like I had been run over by a steamroller. I did too much in the last two days. I was not physically ready to take that much on. Instead of going to class, I stayed in bed.

I thought this morning that I would be going to Christan and Hung's wedding reception with Eric. I was a little stressed about what I would wear because most of my clothing is tight and it was going to be a dressy affair. But I figured that my brown dress pants with my olive suede jacket would fit, and that I certainly had a tee and a fancy necklace to go with it. But Eric called, stressed out and coming down with a bug, and decided that he (we) were not going. My reaction is mixed. I'm tired and the event would be a stresser since I barely know anyone, so in that sense it will be easier not to attend. But this is a repeated pattern with Eric & I. We never make plans. We never go anywhere. We never do anything. Even when we (I) make suggestions, there is always a reason to end up not doing it, or anything. This pattern is old and established and I am a little tired of it.

I was fairly certain this morning that I would not attend the dance party at Slimmons tonight. That Eric's event was more important to attend, that it would be nice to do something with him, and that I would be drained of energy before the dance began. I was uncommitted to showing up, but still flexible and hopeful that we might stop by for a short time to say hello to the people that I know. But now that everything else in my day is off, I am going. On my own. For how long, I don't know as I am not in great shape, but I will definitely show. I will turn off my cell phone and not take calls. I will not decide in advance what time I will be showing up, or how late I will stay. I won't even determine whether or not I will go to any of the after-parties. I need to be amongst people, people who want to have a good time, and in the world.

What will happen tomorrow in terms of recuperation will be what it is. It's likely that I will pay the price for this evening's activity. But it's not like I have any other plans that I can depend on anyway.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What I have been doing for the past two days

For anyone who has been seriously ill for an extended period of time, you know that recovery is hell. You're weak and tired all the time, and the whole path back to health is paved with obstacles. But you also know - or at least I know - that the only way to get past all of this is to forge on. Push yourself physically to the very brink, take a rest, then push again.

Enter Angie. She has helped me push myself hard for the past two days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wheeze, Hack, Cough...

No longer fire related, my second air filter - which I installed in the bedroom - seems to have done the trick. My condo's air is quite breathable. Also, the two fires in who's smoke plume I resided seem to be contained or out, and the wind is dying down. All and all, the environment is improving. And one of the added benefits of the new bedroom filter is that it handles dog gas admirably. Wow.

But I am still hacking away here. It seems that I have picked up a bug. Of course I'm miserable with it, and will be leaving for the pharmacy shortly to pick up a Z-Pack. But there's such a difference between your garden variety cold-flu and autoimmune issues. Tylenol and rest helps the former, and I was even able to get some "work" done today.

This piece is beaded embroidery and will ultimately end up being a necklace. Click on the image to see the detail.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Fire season in Southern California is upon us again. Mix a year of drought with sunny weather, add wind. Sometimes a sparking electrical wire, and sometimes human intervention - aka arson - and this is the result.

As is usual with Los Angeles area wildfires, as the crow flies, I'm close. But because of the location of my home, I am not and will not be in any danger. Unless you consider smoke inhalation combined with an asthmatic condition danger. Then I have a problem.

For the wind in the case of this particular fire is taking the smoke directly over where I live. My whole home smells burnt; it's raining ashes outside, and visually it's a cross between an extremly smoggy day and fog. Freeways have been shut down because of the smoke, and as I understand it, one motorist died due to a lack-of-visibility accident.

My air filter is on high, but does not seem to be doing the trick. As soon as I hear from Eric, I will head to Home Depot and see if they still have Hepa Filters on the shelves. They tend to sell out quickly this time of year, but if there's still one there, I will buy a second.

Breatheable air is a precious comodity.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Post by Cosmos

Dear "Dolly Ann",

Or whoever you are:

I have been enjoying getting the occasional update and e-mail about your progress out there on the farm. You know, city dogs have a whole different picture of what "the farm" is, and it is not a good place to go. But it sounds like your farm is a really nice place to live.

I approve of you bending so many rules to meet your own puppy purposes. That you now enjoy people food makes me very happy although why you would waste your time on vegetables is beyond me. I hear that you are escaping and going upstairs and have laid claim to a bed. You are becomming more and more in control of your humans. Good girl!

But then, I received some new pictures, purportedly showing your progress. And my world went upside down. There is a new dog in town and it is claiming to be you!

I know what you look like. Exhibit 1, of which I approve of because you are eating: Exhibit 2: Who is this? This is not a dog who is eating, but it is a whole lot bigger than you are. It appears to be laying on the same floor that you occupied before. It is listening to me. Look at how it's ear is cocked. It looks a little bit worried. Does it know that I am on to it?
Exhibit 3: There you are again. You are laying on your back looking very cute by the kitchen oven. I love the oven. Good things come out of it.
Exhibit 4: The new dog is trying to pretend it's you by lying on it's back in the same position as you. But they don't say "she lied like a dog" for nothing.
Exhibit 5: Look at how calm and sedate this dog is. Nothing like the stories that I have heard about you.
Dolly Ann, are you out there? Or has this new dog come in and eaten you, then taken your place? It is so much bigger than you that the impersonation is certainly a fraud.

Your friend in barking always,


Friday, October 10, 2008

Artist's Meeting

One of the things that I love the most about Slimmons is that you never know who you're going to meet there. Richard draws people from many walks of life. There are famous people - I'm not a name dropper as a rule but the TV appearance of Ricki Lake at Slimmons last fall was not a one-time publicity stunt - as well as professionals from many walks of life. A Doctor, a legal eagle, a college professor, a fashion designer all can be counted amongst my friends. Also several nurses, children's teachers and advocates in many fields, and so on and so on. I'm the schlump in the crowd, being a child of disability for so many years.

But my friends and classmates don't see me that way at all because I do my best to remain productive. They think of me as an artist (few of them know of my published writing 'career' or my past in Motion Picture Studio Home Entertainment Management) and an equal. Believe me, I appreciate that. To my knowledge, though, I am the only artist in the crowd. At least I was until last night.

Enter Hanna. "Hanna-Bananna" her father Greg said. Hanna is 12 years old, in the 9th grade, and she made her own bag. Before we met, I eyed it across the table we sat at in the lobby even as she eyed some of my own work (I was showing it to Sue). Eventually, Diane came in and since she is much more effervescent and outgoing than I, she got the official round of introductions started.

Hanna was extrordinary during class. I know; I watched her. This was only my 2nd foray back into the world of exercise since the last round of major illness. I spent most of my time planted in a chair rather than dancing. I observed what everyone was doing.

But Hanna is extrordinary in another way.

I wasn't eyeing her bag for no reason. She is good. Very good. I saw real talent there available to be developed further in the future. I saw the creative spirit embodied in the way she dressed. And, as her father told us proudly, she is already starting a business making tutu's. All she wants to do now is go to Mr. Chow's restaurant in Beverly Hills so that she can find a celebrity willing to wear one and get her business off of the ground. A spectacular idea, if I say so myself.

Somehow, I have a feeling that Hanna may end up being a major designer of the future. She has the talent, and she also has the business sense that is necessary. I wonder how young they allow contestants on Project Runway to be?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In which Richard Simmons holds my Sock

It was The Yarn Harlot's idea. I've knit a gazillion things including about a million pairs of socks. I've knit cheap yarn and expensive, handspun and commercial. I've knit flourescent bright colors, subdued naturals, and even black. I've knit metalic yarn and I've knit beads into my products, and I've handspun yarn with beads in it and then knit it up. I've carried my knitting all over creation, and often my spinning wheel too. But even after Stephanie -The Yarn Harlot - McPhee posted a link on her blog to yet another one written by Tracy (a friend-or-fan-I-don't-know-which)featuring pictures of Barack Obama holding her own sock in progress, I admit it never occured to me to take a picture of the man holding my knitting. This being true even though he's seen me knitting and doing all sorts of other crafty things many times over the years. Even after seeing Stephanie post pictures of pretty-much everyone and everything with her own sock in progress, it just didn't seem right. "The Sock" was a Yarn Harlot thing. I was amused and delighted by the whole concept, but I did not equate it to my own life.

But then on October 4, 2008, The Yarn Harlot blog issued a challenge to her readers. Try to replicate the feat. Get a politician who is nationally recognized to hold our own work, and post a picture to prove it. For every photo successfully taken, a donation will be made to
MSF, a Nobel Prize-winning international organization dedicated to medical relief and witnessing-reporting human rights violations.

I read the rules with interest. Not knowing any politicians (although I will admit to knowing somebody who IS going to be one in the future and WILL be recognizable on a national basis), I was amused but not moved. But then I read the caveat in her musings. Celebrities count too.

I am not shy about saying that
Richard Simmons saved my life. Physically, by believing in me and my ability to lose more than 200 pounds way before I believed in myself, but also by seeing me through dramatic emotional growth. He knew me when I was a very angry woman - was the butt of my anger on more than one occasion - and stuck by me all the way to present times while I still struggle with my health and even my emotions, but am a fully functioning person. He introduced me to my best friends, taught me the merits of make-up and appearance, and enabled me to meet my love. He IS the man.

But Stephanie is the WOMAN. I have not had the pleasure of meeting her yet. In fact, when she last passed through Los Angeles on a book tour, I had tickets to her event but was too sick that day to attend, and it kills me even now. She is the rock star of the knitting world and, if she's ever taken any notice of my very-occasional comments on her blog, she probably considers me a little bit nuts and somebody maybe to be avoided. If true, she's right on the 'little bit' part, but I'm safe and not a stalker. Really. Honestly. NOW STOP LAUGHING AT ME!

Anyway, by virtue of the fact that I have lost a lot of weight thanks to Richard, I consider him a great friend as well as a mentor. I know him to be kind and compassionate and a good sport about photo opportunities. And I knew it the second I read Stephanie's post. If I knit it, he would pose.

So I called some of my friends as I excitedly put my handspun yarn that I've been saving to make socks with into a bath to set the twist, and they pointed out to me that Richard may be a celebrity, and Richard may be my mentor and friend, but Richard also recently testified on Capitol Hill about Physical Fitness and re-establishing P.E. in schools
. Although not a politician per se (he threatened to run for office during his testimony), he qualifies as a major participant in government!

We qualify on two fronts!

So I put aside my beading when my yarn was dry,

made balls,

and started my sock.

I conferred with Eric and Beth and Vennie... "You don't really think he will mind, do you? He won't mind having his picture taken and posted on my blog? I can't tell him why I need the picture in advance. It's against the rules." And they all assured me that he not only would not mind, but has already endured far worse hazing than that from me and my friends, all in good humor. (If you decide to click on this link, my apology. I built it way before I knew how to reduce the megapixels of pictures, but I promise you it's worth it.) And so I knit the first few inches of my sock. And worried just a little, although not enough to deter me from my purpose. I was going to rise to the challenge that The Yarn Harlot had put forth. If posing with a sock-in-progress was good enough for Barack Obama, certainly Richard must be seen doing the same. He should have been first. It's my fault he wasn't. I just didn't think of it!

I do admit to e-mailing him in advance of exercise class to ask him if he would pose. Richard is a very busy man who still makes time to teach classes himself at Slimmons (his exercise studio). The rules said that I couldn't tell him why - I didn't - but didn't say that there couldn't be advance notice. I wanted to make sure he had the time when I brought the sock to class. And so he did.

And now, without further fanfare, I present... Richard Simmons holding my sock.

You should know that after I took the pictues, Richard turned to me and asked "And why am I doing this? Why am I holding this sock?" to which I answered "I can't tell you. It's against the rules, but I'll send you the link later tonight."

I turned away from him, and then turned back again. "Don't worry," I said. "Barack Obama posed with a sock too."

Stephanie, I will also make a donation to MSF to honor the challenge that you presented and I thank you not only for your continuing wisedom and wit, but for the opportunity to have some fun.

And Richard... what can I say? You always rise to every occasion. I love you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


A very short post tonight; I've just finished the Cabechon necklace that I showed you yesterday. It was very labor-intensive, and I'm proud of it. 30" of chain, and in the chain - excluding the fringe, three different kinds of beads and four colors. Click on the picture for a larger - and more focused - image.

I'm going to put my beads aside for a short time in deference to knitting. I have a very special challenge that needs to be started. Stay tuned for details on that. ;)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Making Even More

Even as I felt like Road Kill after my trip to Slimmons, I know things are better because I was, from bed, able to continue on with my jewelry. I managed to finish up several pieces in the last day-and-a-half, and get another what will be "large" piece, meaning very labor intensive, started.

Necklace (was originally going to be a bracelet but I mis-measured and it was too big, so instead of taking some of it out, I just went longer. Matching earrings. Another Bracelet.

Another Necklace.

And finally, a beaded bezel - with fringe - Cabechon. The Cab is a piece of art in and of itself, made by a woman named Karen Lewis, owner of a bead store called The Spirited Bead in Tehachapi. That is about a two hour drive north from where I live. I purchased this and one other cabechon w/ adornments (separate, I'll bead them into the piece) last Christmas. Karen is amazingly talented and kind, and her store is so unique that I will need to plan another trip out there when I feel better. Hopefuly soon.

I should check her class schedule out before I decide to go, though. Since it's already a full day's worth of driving and shopping, and there's very little else out there of interest to me, it wouldn't hurt to make my visit a learning experience too.


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