It’s been such a long time since I’ve updated my blog. My time has been consumed for the last 18 months by my parents’ health (or lack thereof). Counting hospitalizations, rehab facilities, and moving into assisted living facilities, poor Mom and Dad slept in eleven different rooms in a year and a half — sometimes alone, sometimes together. Disorienting for them, exhausting for me! Actually — disorienting enough that they both developed anesthesia-induced dementia following surgical procedures. Dad died at the end of May. Mom remembers Dad’s gone on some days, and spends other days with him yet. 61 years of marriage causes old habits to die hard!
I keep waking up with a recurring nightmare: My mother is in constant uncontrolled pain with a broken back. My father has Alzheimers.
My mother has been admitted to the hospital four times in the last two months, has been in an emergency room seven times, and in an ambulance six times. In the midst of this, I’ve moved her to an assisted living facility, put her house up for sale, switched her doctors, and taken control of my dad’s care. She’s been on pain medications since July 4th and isn’t quite sure where she is or how she got there. Or who’s on her side.
My always-fastidious father is alone in bed for this first time in his 60-year married life, in a home that isn’t his, among dozens of caregivers who flit in and out of his little apartment like fireflies, speaking in accents he can’t comprehend. He doesn’t know where his hearing aids are and the staff is in constant flux and don’t understand that he doesn’t hear anything but indecipherable noise without them. He’s got macular degeneration and is legally blind. He’s become totally incontinent in the last eight weeks and there’s a faeces stain on the carpet next to his bed. He’s surrounded by dirty laundry — I’m paying this place a fortune but his laundry day is Thursday and his shower days are Wednesday and Friday. (What Nurse Ratchet character decided that a 180-lb. six-foot-tall incontinent adult needs a shower two days a week?)
In May of last year, Mom read an article in the local newspaper about a heart surgeon who had discovered a minimally-invasive way of performing open heart surgery. My parents met with this hot-dog surgeon and signed up for his services. He told my Dad he’d have the bounce back in his step and feel like a 60-year-old man again. Dad was 84-years-old at the time and three years in remission from surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer. Anyone who looked at him knew he was not a candidate for open heart surgery. Dad is now less mobile than he ever was, suffering overall weakness, tremors, and anesthesia-induced dementia. I’m not making this up: that’s what it says on his 12-page cognition report.
Scrolling through BBEST listings on Etsy confirmed that BBEST is a gifted team of artists and crafters. Some of my recent favorites:
You can always count on ZudaGay to come up with elegant clay forms. If anyone could make a black bird whimsical, it’s Zuda. She’s quite a master of her medium.
Colours and Textures has such a lovely light touch in her watercolors and silk paintings, they always look like fairy gardens to me.
Vivid color and abstract shapes make this painting by Heronkate a real standout. The collage-like textures show Kate’s skills as a trompe l’oiel artist.
Of course in my humble opinion, nothing says whimsy quite as well as Make Your Presents Felt’s egg cozies. I think she actually pinched these off the tiny heads of the elves that must watch over her garden.
And when speaking of gardens, it’s mandatory to mention The Filigree Garden, whose jewelry is inspired by her magical garden. Her work and her blog are always wonders to behold. Perhaps Liv and Chrissie share the same elf gardeners? Hmmmm . . . . .
Apropos of nothing, I really enjoy this picture from Liv’s blog:
Trying to make a web business go on a ten-year-old computer was causing me no end of headaches. In an act of total kindness, my hub decided to get me a brand spanking new computer last fall.
Well . . .
My web site crashed. Windows 7 uses a file storage system called “Libraries” so Dreamweaver software couldn’t find the trail to the files.
Hub spends hours on the phone with HP tech support.
The new computer’s video card shut down Illustrator, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver.
My kids upload a newer version of Photoshop and Illustrator. Illustrator doesn’t have any fonts. I can’t figure out how to do the simple things I used to do on Photoshop and can’t deal with the new Bridge and InDesign functions. Windows 7 doesn’t recognize Photoshop or Dreamweaver file extensions and only gives me the option of saving them into “Adobe Bridge.” Before I know it, Windows 7 converts all .htm files to Firefox files, thus preventing me from actually editing them.
I’m advised by friends to buy an Apple. Hub points out how expensive they are and how I’d have to learn all new software. I have absolutely no inclination to learn anything new.
Hub spends hours on the phone with HP tech support and replaces phone batteries.
I perform a system restore to my stand-alone hard drive, so as not to lose any files. From this point on, whenever I open a file, I go thru the following breadcrumb trail:
- Free Agent Drive K:\
- System Recovery Files\
- 2010-02-07 123812\
- Documents\ etc., etc.
I gradually start moving files to my desktop so I can find them.
HP sends a specialist in January to replace the video card, but the screen still blacks out and shuts down programs repeatedly.
Hub spends hours on the phone with HP tech support.
In February, we did another system restore to the hard drive, boxed up the new computer and sent it to HP. Two weeks later we got it back and I again started moving the files I was working on to the desktop so I could keep track of which files were the most recent updates.
The computer continued to suffer spells — it puts the back of its hand to its forehead and swoons. So do I. It is arbitrarily shutting down, freezing up and blacking out. So am I. I’m advised by friends to buy an Apple. Hub points out how expensive they are and how I’d have to learn all new software. I have absolutely no inclination to learn anything new.
I spend hours on the phone with HP tech support.
I spend hours on the phone with HP tech support and replace phone batteries.
I spend hours on the phone with HP tech support and get mad. I’m transferred to a specialist who only knows one line: “I’ll send you a box and you can return the computer to us for restaging.” I point out that my hub has found all kinds of forums online discussing the fact that HP’s video card doesn’t work with Windows 7, so I don’t see the point of sending the computer back again. He doesn’t know anything about that and sends me a box.
I don’t send the computer back. Seems pointless.
I decide to just take a step at a time and redo my web site. I spend hours on the phone with GoDaddy.
I replace phone batteries and spend hours on the phone with GoDaddy.
I get my new website up and my two domains communicating with each other. Eureka.
I go into Dreamweaver to update all dependent site pages. Dreamweaver launches but won’t respond to any commands.
I spend hours on the phone with Adobe Dreamweaver tech support and am informed that they don’t support old versions of Dreamweaver with Windows 7. I’m advised to buy the new Creative Suite for $1800.
I log onto my old computer which is now hub’s new computer. When I log in under my name I can access Dreamweaver and old file sites, but can’t access the separate hard drive.
When I try to log in under hub’s id, it asks me for a password. Hub is out of town. I’m advised by friends to buy an Apple. I have absolutely no inclination to learn anything new.
I go to the library and then to the bakery.
Experimenting with new processes in color makes for a really fun collection of spring scarves!
If you be a lover of instruction, you will be well instructed.
When I insisted on attending art school instead of a traditional university, my mother balked. She kept insisting that I at least study teaching art, so I’d have something to “fall back on.” However well intentioned and practical her advice was, I determined never to be a teacher. So — how odd to find myself teaching now that I’m in my 50s and have much less patience than when I was younger. I tend to be less than organized, to be polite about it, and often can’t see the forest for the trees, but I’m learning. It never dawned on me that a grown person wouldn’t know you had to rinse your brush periodically, until a student asked me why her entire painting was brown.
I thought it was lip service when I heard teachers say they learned as much from their students as the students learned from them. It’s true! Preparing lessons forces one to really think through their process, and watching others come up with solutions for their ideas can lead you in all kinds of new directions. Creating ways to teach what you do in a limited time frame is also a great exercise. I’ve been silk painting for over 20 years and was stumped when Jerry’s Artarama asked me to teach a two-hour class. After wandering around the store with my hands in my pockets for a while, I came up with a short project idea that would whet students’ appetites. It came off quite well and each student’s project was completely different from mine or anyone else’s.
Sharing knowledge does not diminish one’s talent.
Which leads me to a point often brought up by artists and crafters: why teach someone else to do the thing you’re trying to make your living at? Aren’t they just out to steal your ideas? Am I shooting myself in the foot by sharing my ideas? No, no and no! Teaching a person to read doesn’t mean they can write your story, does it? Teaching someone a skill can often make them appreciate more fully what goes into the making of your art. Altruism pays!
+Isocrates the orator, not Socrates the philosopher, in case you were worried about that.