Thursday, May 19, 2016

How I'm Spending My Mail Blog Vacation

 . . . and then there's me. Unable to read much, pen letters, draw pictures, hold a heavy camera or keep it steady, what's a body to do? 

Rescue drowning toads.

Only one out of three survived.

Chart the growth of pomegranates. This is the first year my three year old trees bore more than flowers. They have a peculiar corn chip scent, their thorns hurt like sewing needles but the leaves are soft and satiny, and the sun loves them the way a photographer swears light loves the contours of a beautiful woman's face. 

What's worse than being in pain on a night or morning when you cannot sleep? A persistently barking dog is what. Dogs bark. That's a part of what they do. This is what happens to such animals when their owners are cruel and lazy. They taped its muzzle shut! Skin and fur went the way of tape. I cannot explain the bloodshot eye. If man has dominion over the Earth and its contents, who has dominion over sorry ass pet owners? 

Erin convinced me Mila, the dog wasn't trying to get at me because that's what her breed does, she simply wanted me to rescue her. I put in several calls for rescue help. The single response: Houston's SPCA is overwhelmed with reports of animal abuse and are too understaffed to respond quickly. I suppose I could write a letter to several television stations or threaten to report them for not acting, but what good would it do? I felt partly responsible for asking the neighbor to control the barking according to our HOA rules. See the missing skin on Mila's nose? The missing fur along her mouth? Well, no one has investigated yet. 

I did a snail catch and release. They don't make the best models, and they're not slow at all. This girl's a whopper but she can move. 

Snail mail anyone? I look forward to the day I can sketch again. (grin) So many ideas flooded my mind's eye the moment she was unearthed! Her shell is a bit complicated but we can work around that.

Drunk on pollen? Was it too cold? 

It wasn't there when I checked twenty minutes later. 

Alex and I dug potatoes last week. Okay. Alex did most of the digging but I encouraged him. Oh. I planted the potato eyes that grew into potatoes. Friends and relatives laugh at my talk of harvesting out of season but what can I say? The proof is in the pot!

No, I'm not recommending this FLOW. No, I did not buy it.

Erin's throwing clay. She promised to make a special holder for my dip pens. Yes!

The muscadines and grapes take care of themselves, I thank God. 

You'd think a new Mac would mean a new wireless printer, right? Not so. I heart my old Epsons. JC went to the post office for me today and there was mail! I'll share the awesomeness in my next post. I miss mail but am no longer sad or depressed because I cannot revel or participate in writing/drawing/creating like before. There's a compromise on the horizon though. Soon, I hope.

I feel the way I imagine Moses felt when he picked up his staff, only mine is a cane that doesn't do much. Still and all, I cannot use it properly anyway. It does make me feel safer on our slippery tile floor. Try to imagine how useless it is when it's in my left hand and it's the right leg that needs support, although the bone spur on my left heel prevents me from swinging my hips when I walk. (grin) Okay, it's a lovely prop more than anything else, and does nothing to help an impinged nerve. It's like having the dictation feature on my Mac open but cannot understand my accent, so using it is pointless. Both are good future letter-writing fodder, yes?

So here I am. Don't really need my reading glasses, can't use scissors worth spit, need help putting on my charm bracelets, am too vain to pen letters because my penmanship stinks much worse than my pecking and not printing, but all is not lost. JC has to help me squeeze some of my lemons but I can still measure sugar! It has to chill before it's great lemonade though, so . . . See you around the mail box? And don't forget . . . No news is better than pathetic made up news. This is proof. This is also how I'm spending my mail blog vacation. Well, almost.

Be well.
A Lame Duck's cousin,
this Limner

P.S. I'm supposed to be good to go come summer. Yea!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wait a Minute! Hold On a Second.

I am embarrassed to say it but I've forgotten how to do all this. Seems one can drag and drop photos onto a page now instead of uploading. Wow. There's no telling what else has improved since my last post but I'm sure to discover some of it in time. I've forgotten many things and learned much since I last sat here and talked with you. This sad little thing is one of the last journal show-to-tells drawn before I tapped out. I absolutely felt like the lame duck, only I had two cats on the ottoman.


During my absence I've seen so many people who were worse off that in good conscience I could not pass up an opportunity to shame myself into throwing all of me into getting better. Yes, pain and degrees of suffering are relative but I still had a good leg and a good arm to work for the rest of me. My spine looks better outside than in, but my curve and short leg aren't as curved or as short as some. Family reminded me that grandmother spent over fifty years in a wheelchair, and lived to be ninety-five. And she never complained. All the aunts have arthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic pain. So I shut up. I shut up until I could not hold onto things, lift my arm over my head, could not write well, or drive much, cook, do any gardening . . . Life said, "Girl, you better do something! And be quick about it." Since I cannot--donot want to imagine me as Grandmother, I got busy. I'm not the strong silent type any more and martyrs die horrible deaths. Remember the movie about the nun in "The Song of Bernadette?" Well, nope, she and I don't have any character traits in common that resemble movie star piety, or virtuous long-suffering. We all come to the planet with commonsense genes. They develop. We use them. And so I did. So it was back to square one again.

My primary care physician referred me to an orthopedist, who referred me to a spine specialist, who referred me to a shoulder specialist, and that's why I had to shut down and walk away. Chronic pain causes depression. Forced activity only causes more damage, which causes more pain and depression, and everyone around me ended up suffering too. My hair grew. It went from a quarter inch to shoulder length in no time. Why? Because I could not ply a comb or brush, or drive to a salon. I lived on peanut butter sans jelly sandwiches, egg sandwiches, and take-out. JC took good care of things during his once a month visits. He's home for a spell.

I couldn't read since it required bending my neck. I couldn't draw or write because of my neck/arm/shoulder, and then there was the added surprise of a heel spur, tendonitis, worsening impingement . . . I haven't seen Alex in months. I've seen Fatima twice since November. After awhile I no longer cared that I couldn't write or type or hold a phone. "No pain, no gain" is one of the biggest lies kept alive by man. Pain means something is wrong. Listen to your body. It knows. Do not accept Band-Aids when you need serious care. After I'd said something about wanting to chew off my arm or my left foot, a charming practitioner laughed and told me, "You have no idea how many times I've heard that." I wanted to tell him, "Well, this is me saying it. And I've never said it before." I asked the last specialist to imagine how he'd feel if he couldn't do what he loved. He looked at me long and hard before he told me what he was going to do to make me well. Part of it began with a lacrosse ball. He did not say make me feel better. He said, "Make you well." 

Doctors hear the same old same old every day. Most are specialists, that's why. But they need to learn to listen with new ears. Humans Races have different physiologies and require different methods of healing. As a young girl learned in Sunday school how Jesus healed people according to their degree of faith. Some were healed simply because he told them they were. Others needed more. One man needed spittle and clay mixed and used as as a salve to cure his blindness. Another heard, "Take up your bed and walk." He ran to tell others of the miracle. Medicine is not one size fits all! One good doctor was impatient with me because I couldn't keep perfect records of my blood pressure and blood sugars for ten days. He couldn't see why it was impossible for me to do such simple things. Well, in my frustration over his inability to see why I couldn't, I simply said, "You know nothing of my life. You don't know how I live," and just as tears welled up, he looked at me and said, "Yes, you are right. I know nothing of your life." And his treatment of me changed. Doctors want us to do everything they say, even if what they say goes against everything we believe in or even need. I don't want twelve prescriptions that require timers to remind me to take four pills twice a day, five pills every twelve hours, another pill in the morning and the same pill before bedtime. I cannot stay hooked to a blood pressure cuff four times a day! Don't offer me a pill for everything that's wrong with me! Fix what's wrong! 

No one told me the National Cancer Registry still has my thyroid tissue. They were kind enough to send me a questionnaire though. Their questions are simple and direct. My answers won't fit on the page because I have too many questions. Number one being, "Is this a Henrietta Lacks thing? And, "Why didn't y'all ask me if you could use my tissue for scientific study? And why are you asking how my health is after the removal of the cancer or benign tumor? There was no follow-up. And I saw the words "cancer" for the first time when medical records sent a form with the word on it. 

Several doctors have referred me to a pain management specialist on two separate occasions. The smart man said the cause of my pain could be relieved, and sent me back. He deals with cancer patients, people who are dying, deteriorating, have MS and a host of maladies that require opiates, etc.. I agreed. I don't want to overdose someday. I want the broken bits repaired. I do. So I had to take time away from my "it'll do" life of pain and dysfunction in order to slowly get well. It meant getting up from this chair, turning off this monitor, putting away the very idea of writing too many letters, and being committed to healing. And I've kept my word. Until now.


Being inside this almost-artificial womb feels so good sometimes. It's the workout that whips you. And water is easier than the land exercises but the payoffs outweigh the pain and aches. I am grateful to the sports gods and rehab demigods for inventing PT. 

See? I get started and it's really hard to stop. I know this isn't about letters, mail art or even postcards, but it's me trying to explain my absence. I love you for writing even when I cannot. I'm on a long road to recovery and none of you knew I was on it, without a map or stopovers. I have a great team of doctors this time. I work with a squad of some of the best physical therapists in Texas, I've even made a real life friend. We're pool partners in aquatic, and land therapy has made me stronger. She's about as different as I am and she cusses like a sailor, loves margaritas, and she's funnier than Red Skelton. We're as different as chalk and cheese and get along well enough. Misery loves company true enough, but empathy and competition are good medicines too. 

I'll be gone at least until the end of May, but I had to break the neck rules and stop by to say hey. So, "Hey!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Art of an Elevated Envelope

I've looked this beautiful only one other time! Isn't this one of the most beautiful envelopes ever? The ink is one the best blues ever, and I do like blue ink. It reminds me of the blue Schaffer my mother used. It's the blue of the ink I drank because it was so pretty. I was just a little thing but still recall the taste. 

The liner is so pretty! It's like a beautiful petticoat--too pretty to be hidden! I couldn't 
bring myself to take apart the envelope, so I simply folded back a part of the flap and scanned it. The detail, the detail, the detail! The colors match the front. And . . . goodness, Lindsey included some of her "Do Not Bend" stickers! I had to order some just to share. Want some too? You can get them at The Postman's Knock.

The art is in the details. Lindsey elevates correspondence to another level. Inside-out! So, who are the people in our neighborhood? In our neighborhood? They're the people that we meet when we're write. So write on!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Satisfactory Saturday Well Lived

Last night was a dark and stormy one. Rain tapped, tapped, tapped against my window pane, bringing back scary memories of Halloween Eves past. Wind blew, there were no howls, nor hoots by great white owls--but there were occasional high pitched whistles, and screams ,from old black and white scary movie scenes. I wrote three letters instead of ghost stories. I drew no pumpkins though! I've had my fill. Around midnight I fell asleep and slept like a woman with a good clean conscience.

I awoke to a damp overcast morning sky. All gun metal gray and white. It's been an easy, breezy, forget-about-housework day, so I grabbed a hoodie, and off I went. East this time. A duplicate markers went back to Hobby Lobby. A return. A refund! 

Off to Barnes & Noble. The makers of Flow lied. The new issue is not in stores! Not here anyway. Since I was there just yesterday, I decided to stay a spell. So I bought a white chocolate mocha frappe without whip, sat at a table near the window, sipped, gazed at people, and thumbed through my new purchases.

A secret pleasure. I enjoy essays. I never understood why fellow students hated writing essays in school. They were one of my favorite ways of expressing myself. Now, "The Best" depends on who gets to edit the essays for the annual offerings. I had to Google Ariel since I am unfamiliar with her work, but I like what she said on her blog about the sandwich and her words. You can read it here:  Ariel Levy Cool typewriter, huh? Wish I could have drawn it for her. Notice how I said could. Such detailed work requires a long attention span. Perhaps I will type a letter to Ms Levy if I enjoy the majority of the essays she's chosen and recommended st the best. But only if I like them. Books are always great reasons to write letters to authors and publishers.

By the way. I bought a grande frappe. I buy one a year, every other year, or every third year. I'm not a coffee drinker, and sugary, calorie-ladened drinks tend to make me hyper. An occasional hit never hurts though, especially not on a day like today. 

This is one of my favorite health magazines. I bought turmeric tea recently, had one cup, have not touched it since. I am in the habit of downing the black English breakfast teas that make uterine fibroids grow instead. I'm weaning myself off them. 

My order for borage tea, dried limes, and saffron sugar came in yesterday's mail. Yeah, tea! I heard of the benefits of borage from Persian Mama's blog. The article about thyroid health was the most appealing reason to buy this issue of Mother Earth Living. I no longer have a thyroid gland. Before I gave it up, I was tired all the time, and suffered from a host of other horrible, debilitating problems. I miss my little butterfly gland, and need to know how to take better care now that I rely on sa upplement.

I picked up this staple for the gumbo recipe on page 109! We have not had gumbo in too long. 'Tis the season. Hunger's the reason. It's time. Besides, okra is great.

Now, you know I had to pass Ace's Post Office on my way to Barnes & Noble. And I know that you know that there was mail that needed mailing. And my favorite postal friend was there! What a reunion it was. We hadn't seen each other in weeks. She works mornings now. Seeing her again felt like it was just yesterday since we'd talked. It's good to feel that way about people who are not family, isn't it? 

 Sending a note or a letter to someone I've never met feels just as good. Me writing to you says, I don't know you like family, but I like you. Isn't my writing proof?

And writing a letter is simply having a conversation on paper, which is why I wrote to friend Patty about "Chronicle." The movie blows my mind, so naturally, I want my friends to talk with me about it. But only friends who enjoy such movies. 

And books! We have this thing and a shared history of books, hence "A book is a garden carried in a pocket. " That's not necessarily true is it? Truthfully, I rarely have pockets for books, unless it's a "pocketbook." Remember your mama's? Your own? I swanee, I just smelled Juicy Fruit!

I mailed a stack of letters and packages today. And out of all that mail, the one that earned a comment and an "I like this. Wow." was this one. It looks like it's been run over by an eighteen wheeler's tire after it rolled through a tar pit. But I still like it too.


11:11 PM - P.S. I'm reading "Food & Wine." Page 20. The Hungry Crowd piece has a photo of an unfamiliar woman below the title, so curious, I read on. Well, it's Shonda Rhimes. Because of my prejudiced brain, I could not connect the photo of the barn and silo with the woman. I know, shame on me. And she's in Vermont? More shame on me.

Not reading the bits in order, I started with Risky Eating and moved on to Scandalous Nights. I commenced to Googling "Dead Letter Office Shiraz" like there was a payoff. Dead and Letter? You don't have to tell me twice! And what's a sidecar? No, no, no! Ignorance is not bliss. Friends don't mind friends knowing they're ignorant. Wish you could see page 8.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes I Won't

Do you read the same blogs day in and day out? I guess day out means at night. But do you ever want to add fresh bloggers to your tried and trues? Are you annoyed frustrated with bloggers who abandon their blogs without announcing their intent? Do dead links and abandoned blogs you've added to your list of favorites bite the dust? Do you remove the dead links, dead blogs, and blogs with more ads than content? Seriously. I wonder because I do. And now that I've gotten that out of my system, I won't feel like such a nut.

I'm happier too. I drew my final pumpkin for the season! No more exploding pumpkin guts! Hooray for the orange and black!

I like the little poem by Aileen Fisher. So I put it on the front. 

I forgot to include something in the package, so you know I had to try for a matching envelope, and the stamp just worked on its own.

The back of an envelope always has a lot of space for those of us who love a blank canvas. Besides, no one wants to waste perfectly good space, right? Work it!

Guess what. There's nothing pumpkin about this beyond the coincidence of color. It just happened to be an orange envelope with an orange matching card inside, and the perfect swan song to the upcoming holiday. 

And then there was this. I want to hold on to it but should just send it on its way. And I meant to do that today, but getting in the car and driving so far just wasn't happening. It'll be a day late, but I enjoyed reusing a bubble wrap envelope. I took my jumbo Copic marker and swiped a few passes over the surface, and wallah-wallah-wah! Such character, yes? It's prettier in person, so please try it at least once. It works only with a great big Copic though. What peeks back at you is mesmerizing, so hurry and mail it before you get spooked!

I settled down long enough to pen a little note. Some things won't wait. I've misplaced my stash of From Me to You stamps, but Charlie Brown came to town and saved the day. The new washi is from Hobby Lobby. It has a peculiar odor, so beware in case you want to try it. There's something new I'd like to share. Tomorrow, if I remember. The new season is blowing in, loud and clear. I donned my orange hoodie and hugged it for warmth on my way to get the mail. The air was warm! The wind's just playing tag with the willow. The willow's dancing with glee, while the staunch oldish oak completely ignores the breeze. 

The little white daises have all turned a lavender tint. Ant rebuilt nurseries above ground to avoid the wet left by recent rains. They love the raised bed. I'm annoyed because they've bedded in the narrow opening up through the back of the back step and into a corner pace between the back and storm door. Inside! October is spider month too, so they're seeking shelter indoors as well. All the while making my life a little hell. Thick white clumps of threads aka spider mobiles, that look like Silly String blow through the air with spiders on board. I hate it when they land on me! They'e like the boll weevil, "Just a lookin' for home." I'm sending out signals that warn, "There's no room at this inn. And, hey! By the way, this ain't no inn!"

It's getting easier to sit and write. I get to catch up to myself with time for after dinner tea. Oh! Goodness me! Wait until you see what came today in the way of tea! So many good things await to be shared between me and thee. Let us write through the fall and winter with delight. Perhaps if we do, we won't miss summer's bright light . . . too much. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Down to the Barbed Wire

The counter clerk who waited on me yesterday asked if I wanted to buy stamps to help find the cure. Although I wonder why 80 million dollars has done it by now, I bought the stamps. I used the first three last night. Two went on this envelope.

Since I'm down to the wire, I hope this one counts as a Halloween card.  Two days to go and I'm booking it to the post office again today. I didn't make it half-way through my address book. Sorry.

This favorite from the collage was a simple, non-Halloween postcard. 

I declare this to be my last official Halloween screamer. May it arrive in time. It went down to the wire, and looks the worst for wear and tear.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Finding Your Mojo

If you ever think you've lost your mojo, pretend you're not looking for it. Just do something else, and watch it find you. That's how I found my magic spider earrings before Halloween. And remember, mojo needs you as much as you need it. I mean what's mojo on its own? 

I let my mojo wander off the other day, all because I didn't believe I could draw, color and send a batch of Halloween cards before the 'ween. I said to myself, "Who wants a Halloween card on November 1, 2, or 3?" I said back, "Not me." Then I had an epiphany like the people on tv. You know what I mean. Remember the V-8 commercial that always reminds you of motor oil? 

Well, I took my lap desk, a single pencil, my case of Copics, a stack of envelopes, and some Zentangle Tiles to bed with me, then went to town. Before I knew it . . . Oh, and a packet of ATCs. Before I knew it, I'd done one letter of the alphabet, two Halloween cards, and two envelopes! 

Here's the back to match the five little pumpkins on the first envelope. I tell you true when I tell you this: Make sure you know what you're drawing when you draw. Can you see my mistake? I know the back end of a gate. I see one every time I visit the backyard.  But, wow, there it is. As plain as night. 

Deliberate mistakes are more fun than accidental mishaps! "The magic candle casts a different shadow. It is not made from simple tallow. Or wax," for that matter. No wax! Where's the wax? And the rest of the story I wrote for the back?

Embellishing the back was just as much fun. "Let there be night!" "No! Light! Banana yellow light! Light!" said the little yellow Minion. I forgot to add the night. *sigh* It's okay, 'cause strange things happen on Halloween.