Pre-road Victory Dance!

I’m leaving in two days and so (of course) am ridiculously busy, and (of course) shouldn’t be taking the time to blog. However, yesterday, I found reason to be glad for all the medical tests that added to my schedule: a personal victory!

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The Morgan in festive mode last October.

Here’s the story: when I had my own magic health insurance card after becoming a full-time employee of an academic corporation (the acquisition of said card being a motive for signing on), we workers were required to have yearly health screenings that included blood work, in order to identify potential problems.  My screening results were consistently excellent until 2008, the year that the chicanery leading to my leaving shot into high gear. At that point, my risk factors also suddenly shot up into alarming ranges; by January 2009, they were termed dangerous, and there were little red flag icons all over the report.  At the end of 2010, when I regained health coverage through Paul, the problems had not abated much, and (scary-to-me) drugs were prescribed.  Given my history with extreme reactions to seemingly innocuous meds, I just did not want to take them, so I swore I would alleviate the problems on my own. When I was hospitalized overnight in October 2011 (the last time I had blood work done), even though I’d brought the risk levels down by 30 points, they were still too high and the meds were still prescribed (and I still refused to take them). Though I’d left the toxic workplace at the end of the 2009 academic year, I was still enmeshed in an odd way with the corporation. In spring 2012, I ended that involvement voluntarily, simply to cut that malevolent presence out of my life once and for all, and then I decided to slow down and spend these past six months at home.  Yesterday, the current blood work results arrived, and all of my risk factors were in the ‘optimal’ or ‘near optimal’ range once again. I’m back! And I did it without Big Pharm.

It’s sad – and in itself sick – that one of the ‘rewards’ of 15 years of dedicated work was five years of high health risk. I never made the connection at the time, and (typically for targets) didn’t even recognize  the situation for what it was. As I later learned, it’s a common phenomenon.  Even though I didn’t come by the information on sites like this until it was too late to use in the harmful situation, I’ve still been able to use it to understand and heal. I hope that awareness grows, and that people involved in similar situations will be able to identify them early, and protect themselves against the condoned effects of corporate culture. I am one of the very lucky ones: I’ve not only survived, I’ve been able to eradicate the damage and regain my health.  That is something to celebrate! I’ll begin doing just that in two days, with visits to healthy, thriving, exemplary work environments: making stops at the Morgan Conservatory and Women’s Studio Workshop on my way to Haystack, and then Seastone Papers, Penland, and the Morgan again.

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My backyard in festive mode right now.

In another better world, I’m very happy to be participating in Emily Martin’s wonderful Pantone Postcard Project. I love the idea, and volunteered the second I saw the call for participants, but was already too late; they were all gone.  But, someone’s had to drop out, so I am now the post-deadline pinch-hitter.  My default card arrived yesterday and it is the perfect color for me, a deep luscious forest green! It’ll be my very first project in Maine.  Stay tuned for News From The Road!

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And something else to celebrate.

The lull before the road

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Somewhere in the sea of arriving mortarboards is our new engineer, with a nice job waiting for him, too.

The past week has been a time of mostly non-art activity, save for a whole lot of e-mail and one (mostly) pleasant exhibition opening. There’s been family time, and being very proud at our nephew’s graduation, time with friends, and too much time within health care system red tape. Getting my hearing checked and hearing aids tweaked before I return to a public summer is essential, but even though I’m never not going to be deaf, that still requires a referral from primary care, which in turn led to the barrage of yearly tests that come with being Of A Certain Age With Health Coverage: I hadn’t had them for about three years, which earned me a few exasperatedly polite lectures. Three years seems reasonable to me so I complied with almost all, even though I feel fine (and even though I’m fully aware that if I were unable to produce the magic card, no one would care. I have an uninsured friend in her 70s who has never had a single one of these tests, ever.) Just one more remains, and on Monday I can finally visit the audiologist for the thing I needed in the first place.

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It was very hard to hear in the gallery; but that’s one of the things the show is about.

I will be on the road in one week. Now is prep time, checking off the list of tasks and making the list of things to be packed, all of which seems much more extensive after a long home stay. I’m actually having some mixed emotions, and a disinclination towards blogging / facebooking / web site updates or really, working at any public presence.(Hopefully, that will change next week.) I’ve liked being home, very much; I’ve enjoyed deliberately slowing down, and I have utterly valued this time of turning my full attention to Life rather than Career for once.  That is an outlook I definitely want to maintain during my travels, my time teaching, and from now on. I hope I’m ready; I’m very glad to be beginning with a residency, where I can use part of my time to form good holistic habits to carry with me through the summer.

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I do know that I’ll be very glad for one of the things awaiting me: new, open ocean views.

Mostly quiet, all good.

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Truth in the garden…

I’ve had a fine few days in the back gardens; lovely, mild weather. Losing myself out there is a satisfying ritual. Each year, as what I’ve planted becomes more and more self-perpetuating, there’s a little less to do, but always enough to keep me happy (except for the fact that I may very well have actually killed my kozo: a difficult feat, I’m told).  A friend I hadn’t seen in a long time took some of this year’s thinning off my hands to begin her new yard, the third Chicago garden started entirely out of mine (which also makes me quietly happy). I still have seed-planting to do, and small bits in the front and side beds, but today I’m glad for some soft rain, both for the plants and to get my head and heart back into the studio for the six months’ wrap-up. The spring garden is a tough competitor for my attention!

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These volunteer chives are quite tasty, and this is the spot where they have decided to thrive each year. I see no reason to argue with them.

Tomorrow evening, this excellent show, juried / curated by Riva Lehrer and a part of the Bodies of Work Festival, opens here in town at Woman Made Gallery. I’m mighty pleased to be included.

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This week’s alley find: urban antlers (of extruded plastic, like the Adirondack chair).   

Other Work

 

Disclaimer: Don’t read this if you’re not interested in aging, or if you don’t want to think about that yet.

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 In the late afternoon, the Mystery Reflection moves up the wall, and consolidates into one sphere.

The work of the next few weeks: finishing things up and getting ready for leaving, as well as putting final touches to the fall / winter schedule, though I am still awaiting word on a couple of key aspects of that. I didn’t get as much done during my six months as I would have liked on house projects, but hey: old-home-owning is an ongoing process. I am quite pleased with the art / work I did (some of which still falls under ‘finishing things up’) and a few of the experiments: discoveries made.

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It might be coming from this little metal vent on the neighbor’s roof. But I can’t see how.

There has been considerable Other Work done during this six months that I haven’t written much about, involving my personal physical plant; old-body-ownership is definitely another process.  A couple of months ago, I became a vegan, in order to address several ongoing problems. I’m happy to say that it’s working on them all; I feel absolutely great (worth the considerable learning curve: I had to work at eating enough!).

I also worked through a course of physical therapy to solve a problem that had been keeping me from doing the ‘regular’ p/t exercises, the ones that I need to do for the knees for the rest of my life. During the past three months, I’ve finally been able to resume that work of training my muscles to shift bones.

Body work is definitely work. In my case, it’s an all-too-literal daily grinding, popping, pulling and, yes: sharp pain and later, ache. Much worse, however, is the certain loss of mobility (and even greater pain and ache) without it, far scarier to me than deafness ever was.

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Paul and friend Pat put this whirlpool in for me years ago; I finally finished the trim this past winter, and added art.  It’s an absolute luxury that truly, truly helps after the p/t; I will miss this while on the road!

The most important work was learning to incorporate it all into daily life, to make this work happen in concert with the art, admin, and all the rest.  It’s been successful, here at home. What I have yet to learn is how to maintain and sustain that mix while on the road, and especially while teaching, during which I tend to jettison everything else. So, that learning will be a vital part of the summer’s Other Work.

But now, after a fit of heat then cold, we are back to a mild lovely spring, and today and tomorrow, the work is: gardens.

Joyeux vieux jeux

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Drawing with two translations.

I am a happily anachronistic geek: not only an artist who works with her hands, but one who still always makes working drawings, particularly when I am puzzling out the colors of any given piece.

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Often,  I bring colors home with me. Immediately after I made the drawing, I found this on the sidewalk, with no similar plants nearby. I only used portions, and not that vibrant pure green (but that will happen).

You see, the interplay of color and shape is music to me, something that still makes me feel the exquisite multitude of sensations that being able to hear music once provided. I walk outdoors without hearing aids, and prairies, mountains, seashore, woods and even alleys become symphonies; the tiny details of plants, fungi, lichen, bark and rocks are poignant intimate passages, loud and blatant or infinitely subtle, and sometimes I am blessed with the sight of a clear perfect note that can just pierce the heart and gut with delicious, soaring impact.

Back in the studio, deaf with my colored pencils, paints and dyes, I reach for a replication of the sensation I felt while experiencing particular passages.  The  drawings are my scores, the finished work a recording of the playing.

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And then, I go back out to fill my eyes, to listen. Happy May / Beltane!

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