Checking In

Greetings, friends!

I hope and trust you are all doing well.  It’s been a while since I last blogged, and at the time, I’d been discussing some of my life’s new changes.  One of the changes since that time was that I started taking chemo pills for my Lupus, and they made me so sick and sore!  I was on them for sixteen weeks, and they were causing me so much pain, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t walk well, and it was excruciating to use my hands.  About six weeks in, my rheumatologist actually increased the dosage because she thought the Lupus was the problem, not the medicine.  But I became much worse over the next ten weeks, so she took me off everything except the drug that protects my organs, and I got Cortisone shots in my shoulders and wrists.  Fast forward a week, and I’m currently feeling the best I’ve felt in the two years since I was diagnosed!  There’s still a bit of pain, but it’s not nearly debilitating as it once was.  Anyhoozle, I’m not here to focus on that today, but rather to share some cooler things…

I mentioned the time before last that I’d been working on decorating the new house (as well as remodeling, renovating, remediating, etc.!).  From my medical status mentioned above, you can probably guess that I’m growing increasingly frustrated that this project hasn’t moved along faster than it has.  I’ve got several rooms in various stages of repair and decoration, and I have several art projects in various stages of completion.  Two of them will require a trip to the beach for sand and shells to complete, so I’ve been quite anxious to feel good enough to venture out.

Today’s post will just feature a few of the projects that have been finalized.  Nothing as far as the remodeling is completely finished yet, so I don’t yet have before/after photos of that hard work.  Anyway, here goes…

As you can probably be able to tell from my living room, Joanna Gaines is my hero!

The only clock that is actually running is the red one.  Actually, they’re not all clocks:  One’s a barometer, one’s a thermometer, and one’s a hygrometer.  The other clocks are all set to different “secret codes.”  (The codes aren’t that secret, and in fact I’ll share them with you now:  They’re set to birthdates of all of us in the house and a couple of important anniversaries.)  Above the clocks is one of those 1990s shelves they call “dust catchers.”  I intend to drywall that closed, but we’re considering leaving a secret door when I do and putting a time capsule inside since the wall is themed with time.

The initials are also for the people in the house, myself, my sister Michelle, my son Jeremy, his girlfriend Jahanna, and her 7-year old son (my sweet little buddy!) Cameron.  (Cameron doesn’t realize that the “C” also stands for my son’s, sister’s and my last name.)  The top left “J” is Jahanna’s.  It was white when I bought it, so I painted it and added the diamonds.  The “C” was orange, so I painted it.  My sister’s “M” was purple and wood colored!  That was a little trickier to paint.  Jeremy’s “J” was a lot rustier than I wanted, so I cleaned it up quite a bit.  And my “R” was plain white.  After I painted it grey and sanded it to grunge it up a bit, I covered it with chicken wire to give it texture.  (Don’t worry; it’s nothing psychological like I feel caged. LOL!)

(This is Cameron.  Isn’t he adorable?)

This bit of work was a bit trickier.  I went to the library and copied an old map book of the area where my new house is.  (Back when this map was printed, my yard was actually part of a large phosphate pit!)  I then printed the map sections out in red and, here’s the tricky part, I made the canvasses.  My sister cut the wood for the frames (I hate using the chop saw!), and I stapled then gessoed the canvas to the frames.  Then I painted them black, ripped the edges of the maps, and Mod-podged everything.  And to finish it off, the old-fashioned key is where my house would be built a couple of decades later.

Moving on to my bedroom, it has (or rather will have) a writing theme.  Or, as I like to call it, a “writerly” theme.  [WARNING: THIS PART MAY ANGER SOME AVID READERS.  Because I have transferred my library almost exclusively to digital, I gave away a bunch of books a few years back, but I saved some favorites, knowing I’d be using them for art.]

This “R” is made out of “Gulliver’s Travels.”  I got the initial idea from this “W” on Pinterest, but I didn’t want the flower, so I had to rack my brain to think how I could theme it to the book.  That’s when the giant nails and string hit me like a ton of bricks.

This copy of “1984” is mounted on a board, and, no, the camera mounted on the book is not real.  (Though it’s funny how many people are actually tricked by this.  What’s not funny is that when I explain that it’s just art, more often than not, the people I’ve come across then have a vacant stare because they don’t realize why a camera on a book is art.)  The backboard is just covered with book pages and a few of my favorite excerpts are outlined in black paint.

If you can’t guess from this one, it’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”  The roof was a bitch to make!  I used comic book collecting backer boards to cut the individual circles, but I should have used card stock.  The thickness of the material made it difficult to work with.  I glued cut out book pages to the circles, then painted a black wash over them, then painted the edges of each “shingle” and attached them all to another backer board to make the roof.  I don’t know if you can see it well in the photo, but there’s a little bird on the roof, and a cat and a lantern in the upstairs windows.  The fence is partially whitewashed and partially dirty, and that’s Tom’s fishing pole waiting to be used on the left.  For the base of this, I actually glued sand to the wood.  (I was going to use sandpaper, but it was a little too small.)  The “grass” is floral moss.

Finally, here’s “Alice in Wonderland.”  I used the 2, 5, 7, Queen and King cards because, if you know the story, those are the key players.  I don’t know if you can see everything on the teacups, but there’s a flamingo, a key, a keyhole, a “Drink Me” vial, a white rabbit’s head, a tag that says “In this style 10/6” and a pocket watch with the numbers going counterclockwise.  I wish I wouldn’t have spread the embellishments all around, but placed them where you could see them all from the front.  I didn’t think that though at the time.

Well, that’s all for today, friends, but I hope to be back soon with some more updates as well as to check on all of you.

Let’s talk:  Would you deface a book in the name of art?  (Do I really want you to answer that?)  Have you created anything that hangs on any wall in your house?  If so, what?  Do you know why the camera is significant to “1984”?

All in all it’s just another brick in the…. closet door?

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’ll share with you one of the ways I used to exercise my creativity besides writing.  When I was fourteen, I loved the band Pink Floyd.  My favorite Pink Floyd album was “The Wall,” not necessarily because of the music, but I think because of the amazing double album cover art inside.

Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” cover art

As I’ve shared before, my grandparents raised me, and they were excessively strict when it came to the matter of me socializing with other people.  But when I asked my Granddaddy if I could paint The Wall on my double closet doors, he was more than happy to comply.  (Looking back, I now realize that was because he knew it would take me months to complete, and in that time, I’d be happy to stay home rather than asking constantly to go hang out with my friends.)

I started in June of that year, and didn’t finish until December.  It was not the easiest painting to replicate because my doors were different dimensions than a double album cover, and they also had panels in the middle that weren’t flat.

At any rate, at least once every couple of days, I had to walk to the art store to buy more acrylic paint.  (All told, I used over fifty bottles!)  But I always went straight home afterward and painted until bedtime.  (See, Granddaddy was right!)

About three years later, I really wasn’t much into Pink Floyd any longer, but I still planned on keeping my doors as they were the largest art project I’d ever done at the time.  However, when my daughter was small, my Grandma was babysitting her once and allowed her to scribble all over them.  And a few years later when my birth mom moved in with my Grandma, she painted over them without first asking me if I cared to keep them!  Regrettably, I only have one photo of my masterpiece, and that photo is grainy and has a glare.

MY Pink Floyd “The Wall” replica art closet

Time to talk:  What’s the largest art project you’ve ever undertaken?  Would you allow your child to paint a picture on their bedroom wall or door?  What’s your favorite Pink Floyd song?

I’m No Martha Stewart

Have you ever watched Martha Stewart?  She can rip open a turkey and stuff it with her bare hands, then while it’s cooking, she tends to her garden, sews a new dress, and crafts some fancy place settings for her dinner party.

But I’m not her.  First of all, I refuse to touch a dead bird.  Ever.  (And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t eat dead birds ever, either.)  I also don’t garden.  I’m allergic to just about everything outside and especially grass, so the last thing I like to do is get down in the grass to plant something.  I did take home economics in middle school, plus I lived with a grandma who sewed a lot of my clothes, so technically I do know how to sew, but I just don’t like it.  And finally, while I do enjoy doing art projects such as making crafts, drawing, painting, etc., I don’t like to keep that stuff in my house.  I think it has something to do with my Asperger’s Syndrome, but while I admire and appreciate the artistic efforts of crafts, I just don’t care for that kind of decor in my own home.

However, Thanksgiving is the one time a year when I throw caution to the wind and let my hair down.  Because in November, I start making my place settings and name cards for our Thanksgiving meal.

As many of you know, most of my family doesn’t speak to me, so besides my sister and me, we usually have one or both of my kids, their dates, and a bunch of friends.  So for years, it’s been my tradition to surprise everyone with what kind of place card they’ll get.  Then afterward, they can be thrown away and I don’t have to keep any of that craft clutter in my house.  So while this year’s place card will be a surprise, I’m going to show you some previous years’ work.

This time, everyone got a turkey pinwheel.  These were a lot of fun, and the pinwheel part was different for each guest and was made with a paper pattern that reflected their own personalities.  Almost everyone started blowing them right away, and it was funny to see who got overly zealous and broke theirs before their food was even served.

This time, everyone got a pine cone turkey.  They seemed like a good idea in my head, but making them was something else.  It wasn’t as easy as I would’ve thought to find pine cones that weren’t crushed, and I pricked my fingers a lot while I was gluing the paper feathers in them!  Plus, after I made them, I then started fearing they might have bugs in them which would get in the food.

This time, everyone got a pilgrim’s hat or bonnet.  I also made a sign for the door that said “Ye Olde Pilgrim Cookery – Didst Thou Bring Thy Appetite?  Signage By New World Printing Company,” and my sister sewed us both pilgrim dresses.  (However, we looked exceptionally dorky, so I won’t be sharing those photos!)  We tried to get my son to wear a pilgrim man outfit or even a hat, but he refused to take part in our insanity.  Also, we spoke only in Olde English which was pretty fun.  Or funny.  Or dorky, depending on who came.  But most of the guests seemed to like it, or else they were too polite to laugh at us to our face.  Either way, we had a good time.

So, while I admit I’m no Martha Stewart, she’s no Rachel Carrera either.

Let’s talk:  What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions?  White meat, dark meat, or no meat?  What was the last thing you ever made with your hands?  Would you ever speak in another accent in front of guests for an entire day?

Happy Autumn!

Well, as of today, we’re officially two days into autumn.  Summer is officially over.  Let the cold weather begin!  (For those of you that want to kill me for summonsing the cold weather, please take a good look at the kind of temperatures I live in, below.  And keep in mind, that does not reflect the humidity factor which makes it feel a good ten degrees hotter.  For those of you NOT in the U.S., this is Fahrenheit, not Celsius!)

For my throwback Thursday today, I’m taking a break from this month’s game theme and am instead just talking about something fun that’s seasonally appropriate.  Submitted for your approval, I offer a piece of autumn art I made when I was four years old in kindergarten.

My teacher, Mrs. Cook, helped us shave crayons.  Then she helped us cut tree trunks out of construction paper, and we added the crayon shavings.  She placed a piece of wax paper on top and ironed it in place for us.

This was one of my absolute favorite projects as a little kid for several reasons.  First, I loved all the colorful leaves.  Here in Florida, we get two colors: green or dead.  I also loved the look of autumn trees because I loved the shape of Maple leaves.  We don’t have trees with much of anything other than the standard football shape leaves here.  (Besides orange trees, we have a lot of Oaks.)  And finally, I loved making stuff, so using crayons for something other than coloring was an extra special treat.

When I got home from making this project, I excitedly told my Grandma exactly how it was made and asked her to help me make another one at home.  We didn’t have a regular pencil sharpener.  (My Granddaddy used his pocket knife to sharpen pencils.)  So, I used the sharpener in the side of my Crayola crayon box, and I made my own shavings.  I made a lot of shavings!  Then I had a difficult time getting the shavings out.  I had to tear apart the box!  Of course, I didn’t have any crayons left, so I didn’t need the box anymore anyway.  Grandma didn’t have time to help me cut out a tree, so mine didn’t come out nearly as good as the one Mrs. Cook helped with.  And finally, we didn’t have wax paper.  So Grandma substituted plastic wrap.

As you can imagine, the home version of my project went from bad to worse when the plastic melted on Grandma’s iron!  She yelled, I cried, and I never got to make another autumn tree.  Worse yet, I didn’t have my crayons anymore, and I had to dress in wrinkled clothes!  But at least I still have this one to share with you.  Happy Autumn!