Arlene Powers Bird Art and Discussion Site

The recovery from surgery is progressing. Each day is a little better. The three week check up is scheduled for Wednesday and everything is looking good. There is still some soreness and fatigue, but that is part of the “New, New Normal”.Wolf Dream Catcher

My yard is full of birds. We have been putting out seed blocks, suet , thistle and of course the hummingbird feeders. The fountain is attracting a few birds, but not the hummingbirds everyone else seems to have. Because of the massive seed consumption, we have learned how to make our own seed blocks. Hubby gets the large bag of seed at Costco, and we make and put out two blocks a day. I think those guys would eat more if we put it out! SO far we have seen house finches, sparrows, Abert’s Towhees, Curve bill thrashers, Gila Woodpeckers, cowbirds, White Wing doves, Mourning doves, Inca doves, grackles, verdins, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Black Chinned Hummingbirds. They are really fun to watch, there are always little dramas going on. I am very surprised at the White Wing doves, they are very aggressive and chase the other doves away from the seed. I had always heard how peaceful doves are. Owl Dream Catcher

Here are photos of the latest Dreamcatcher projects. The third of three “black and whites” is a wolf.  Then I bought a couple of pieces of leather to try it out. Here is the first of two, the baby Great Horned Owl depicted in “Whooo R U?”. Had to learn a lot about leather to do this project. I used a ground first, then did the owl in watercolor and colored pencil. You should have seen the guys face at the leather store when I told him I would be using colored pencil. He looked at me like I am mentally challenged…..he said acrylic or leather dyes will work best. If you are a normal person, that would be true! But he had no idea that I wanted to try the new Daniel Smith Watercolor ground to see if it would really work on leather. As you can see it works really well! So what if one person in the world thinks I am crazy, Ok, well more than one…..but we won’t go there!  I am going to check to see if there is a product to stiffen it a little more, otherwise, I am very happy with the project and am trying to decide what to put on the second one! If you saw the Raven Dream Catcher, the very first project, you will notice that I have improved and refined. There is definitely more feathers and beadwork along with the placement getting better. Of course, I could not drive yet while working on the raven, and had not thought of getting beads before the surgery. But they can always be added later!

The Parrots and cats have been VERY quiet lately. I wonder what they are up to? Hmmmmmm……….if I find out, you will be the first to know! Stay tuned!

Happy mothers day to all of you Mom’s! Especially to my own Mother, who has been so loving and supportive. It is a beautiful day here in AZ. EagleDCfI think spring is hiding here for an extended period. It has been in the high 70’s all weekend, and we are loving it here in the Phoenix metro area. Hope you are having a beautiful weekend! I have heard some people have pulled their jackets out, but I have been sitting outside watching the birds – just enjoying it. Hubby got me a red fountain for Mother’s Day, so we are just waiting for the first hummingbird to check it out.

The second of the Dream Catcher series is done, the Eagle Dream Catcher. I felt better, so got to the store and got beads for it. Am loving it so far.

Post surgery healing is speeding along. One more week to drive, and four more weeks of no heavy lifting. The pain has gone down to sore muscles and little or no pain meds are needed. Loki is offended because I am not picking her up. The instructions were, “Do not pick up anything larger than a quart of milk for six weeks.” Loki is a little larger than a quart of milk, LOL. I was thinking of taking the chance, then heard about friends who have had hernias because they did not follow the Dr’s instructions, so have decided to try to take it easy, and make up with Loki when I can pick her up consistently. If you hear macaw screaming out your way, it is just a spoiled bird waiting to be picked up. No worries. You might want to get some ear plugs though.

Catching Dreams

What a ride the last week has been! Very glad to be out of the hospital and home! “There is no place like home. Tap, tap, there’s no place like home!” The colon surgery went well, they got the original site out and there were signs that tumors had been there, but no tumors! It looks like they had to take the whole right side of the colon out, feels like it too. Whoooo Hoooo! The chemo did it’s job. I still feel like I got “runned over by the damned old train”, but feel a little better each day. Thursday, is the appointment to take the staples out, we will see what is next. Right now just taking it one step at a time.

Raven Dreamcatcher

Raven Dreamcatcher

Before I went into the hospital, I started a new project. I want to do three large dreamcatchers, each with one of my favorite artworks redone on Black Velvet Paper. I am using white charcoal pencil again and am using a fixative to try to help make the drawings more permanent. Of course the first one requires the biggest learning curve. I decided to fix cloth on the back of the drawing, to stabilize and keep it from tearing when applied to the 19″ metal hoop. After several botches, I finally accomplished this task before going into the hospital. I learned…..attach the fabric before you do the drawing, otherwise you have to redraw most of it, LOL. My friend, Noelle, took a photo and posted it on Facebook. But I was really too involved in the whole surgery prep to blog about it, and haven’t felt well enough to follow up.

Now you get the follow up! A trip to the craft store was in order while I still felt like it, so I grabbed the stuff I thought I would need. Found an awesome little hole punch tool by Martha Smith, even though pricey, it works great. Found leather cording and sueded cording. Feathers are in plenty around here, but no black, so I ordered some on the internet. 19″ metal hoops…..check. 23″ wooden hoops…….check. Well, wish I would have gotten beads, but will get them for the next one! Found some really cool little spring coils that crimp on to the ends of the feathers, so they will hang on the leather. Of course that means buying a little tool to crimp them, LOL. Dang it if I didn’t get sucked into the jewelry making aisle and drop a small fortune there. Just in case you are wondering what the final result looks like, here is the first of three – Raven Dreamcatcher! Hopefully Eagle and Wolf to follow.

The Finch in Watercolor on Arches Cold Pressed Paper

The Finch in Watercolor on Arches Cold Pressed Paper

One week until surgery! This week is going to be a busy one, finishing all the testing to get ready for surgery, and then having a colonoscopy on Friday. The surgeon will do the colonoscopy, remove any polyps, and shoot dye into the surgery site, so that it can be easily identified. By the time I get through with all of the tests, I am not knowing if there will be any blood left in me, LOL. I would stay up nights studying for the tests, but so far it has not helped, so guess I will wing it and see if that works better!

Speaking of winging it, the finch is back! He was so cute, I had to try him in watercolor. Since I started driving again, I spent the last two Tuesdays painting with Candy. She reminded me about “punching the darks” and “stepping away from the painting!” It was so nice to be painting with her again. Soon I will be recovered from surgery and we will be able to paint together again! I stopped into Liberty Wildlife to visit my “Thursday Peeps”. Once again, it was awesome seeing them all, and can’t wait to feel well enough to return to volunteering!

Hubby and I made a couple of weekend trips. The first was to Flagstaff, where we took a side trip to Bearizona and another to Walnut Canyon. The weather was fabulous and we enjoyed the scenery and wildlife immensely. Last weekend, we drove to Sierra Vista spending every hour of daylight chasing down birds to photograph. We were tired little campers when we got home, but very happy as we saw many birds for the first time and got quite a few good photos. I have enough ref photos of native birds to keep me busy for a few lifetimes! Stay tuned for photos. If you can’t wait, check out my Facebook Page for the first installments.

When we returned home Sunday evening, it sounded like a ZOO here. The parrots were all screaming, “You are home, you are home, we missed you, you have been gone forever, we missed you”. And the kitties were meowing, the guy you left to take care of us did not feed us enough, time for food, time for seconds, time for thirds, time for petting and scratching. The parrots started screaming, “No, scratch us first, we are louder and love you more. We love you more than food, but give us treats and let us sit on your shoulder, we have been stuck in these cages and on the stands all weekend!” Well, you can imagine all of the petting, scratching and feeding that took place. Scuze me while I take a nap……..ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Pastel Pencil on Ingres

Pastel Pencil on Ingres

The finch pastel drawing is done de done done! And he is spoken for. Will be winging his way to his new owner soon! He is so cute, I decided to paint him too, so stay tuned!

No blog last week because I was too busy getting pre-op tests done. Everything back so far is looking good. The tumor markers in the blood work are down to 28, and should take a good drop again after surgery, leaving them in the range we are looking for….under 10! The tumors have all shrink and some have disappeared. The chest x-ray was normal-like anything in my life is normal, LOL! So next week should be the new normal, then the following week, medical appointments almost every day, then the following week…..surgery. Hopefully I will be able to make some progress or finish the painting before surgery since I will be in the hospital for 2-4 days and the recovery is expected to take about four weeks. Most of the chemo side effects are disappearing. The chemo tan is fading, my mouth is burning less, the nasty taste is gone, energy is back and my hair is GROWING back. Woot Woot!

In the meantime we will get to see my daughter, Melissa, in “Barefoot In The Park”. Since she is playing the lead, we are looking forward to a great laugh! A group of friends will be attending, so we will probably hurt from laughing and will be in great company!! We will be spending a weekend in Flagstaff, with a side trip to Bearizona. Then will spend a weekend in Sierra Vista photographing any bird that will hold still long enough. So stay tuned for photos! Until we tweet again!

Finch - Pastel Pencil

Finch – Pastel Pencil

We met with the surgeon Friday and the surgery is scheduled for April 28th – with lots of testing until then. Colonoscopy, pet-scan, blood-work, lung x-ray and several other appointments. Fun, fun, fun! At least I will be feeling better for all of this. It gets better each day as the side effects from chemo slowly disappear.

The weather is so gorgeous now, we spent a lot of time today on the patio with the parrots and kitties. We only let Dante out when we are out, so he slinks around the yard acting like we can’t see him. He hides in the bushes, but one loud sound and he is back inside where it is safe. Loki ran around on her branch and flapped her wings and had a great time. The little guys just preen and enjoy the sun.

This week, a little finch is the subject of my pastel pencil WIP. He was so cute standing on the bird bath, he was hard to resist. Everything is pretty quiet now, so he should go pretty quickly! Stay tuned!

The Last One!!

The Last One!!

Whooo hoooo! Chemo Over! The last treatment pretty well did me in. Last week I was feeling “Happy Crappy”…..our new phrase for the time you are happy it is over, but feel too crappy to celebrate yet. The mouth sores finally made an appearance after 23 weeks of being told, I would probably get them. The nausea lasted until Monday. Yesterday, the nausea pretty much disappeared, so am left a little tired, but recovering rapidly now. The awful taste in my mouth is SLOWLY disappearing and I even have a little bit of energy. This too will pass, as every day is a little better and soon will be back to the REAL normal – not the NEW normal!!! Of course the tan will disappear, and I have to curb the eating habits, but hey, it is better than chemo! So next month is full of tests and appointments to get set for surgery sometime in April. Stay tuned for details.

The therapy kitties and parrots are all doing their jobs. Loki is getting very spoiled having me home all the time. She will not let me have a phone conversation without interrupting by yelling “Hello! Hello! Hello!” or screaming until I finally walk over and let her into the conversation. She knows – even if I am in the very back of the house, hiding in the closet – when I am on the phone. Her hearing is extraordinary.

Pastel Pencil on Black Canson Board

Pastel Pencil on Black Canson Board

Yesterday, I finally had a enough energy to do some art therapy, so here is the Fox almost done….Oh no there goes the phone…….Ok Loki, just a minute and you can say hello……where are my earplugs?

Little guy protecting hen from pigeon.

Little guy protecting hen from pigeon.

Whoooo Hooo! Last chemo starts today. It will be all over Wed, and then on to surgery. Happy Dance. Since I will be tired the rest of this week, I thought I would post the blog today. Cannot wait to see hair grow back, be able to taste things again, and have energy!!!

We went to the park again last week and I got a couple of shots of the little guys. They think they are just as big and beautiful as the big guys…they vibrate their feathers just as hard and try to protect their peahens from pigeons, LOL.

Another Little guy displaying.

Another Little guy displaying.

Here is the progress on Foxy, I may not get any more done until next week, but it is progressing well. Hope you have a wonderful week, and will blog when I wake up from this week’s chemo!

Fox - pastel pencil on Black Canson board

Fox – pastel pencil on Black Canson board

Approaching the last chemo, it seems like it takes a little longer after each treatment to get my energy back. But next week is the last chemo, so I have 4-6 weeks to recover before surgery. Happy dance! Happy Dance! Feeling a little down this morning when a Facebook Post from one of my dear friends raised me up and put me back on a good path. It is amazing to have so many people in my life who care. Thanks so much Judith Bert! Once again, Thanks to all of you for the FB messages, texts, blog replies, phone calls, and emails, they all lift me up!

Pastel Pencil on Canson Board(black)

Pastel Pencil on Canson Board(black)

Next week during my chemo, my husband and I will be having our 31st anniversary. Just want to take a time out to say that I could not have made this journey without him! He has taken such good care of me and I am so blessed to be his wife. On our first visit to the Oncologist, George told me I would not be alone on this journey, that he would be with me every step of the way. It brought tears to my eyes and I will never to be able to express how much I love him and thank God every day for bringing him into my life. He has taken me to every treatment, appointment, and test and has been there every second of the way. He has seen me puking my guts out, with chemo burn, and looking like a baby grackle with my almost bald head and still tells me I am beautiful and that he loves me. For those of you who think I am brave, let me tell you, I am not. But with a love like that, how could I not face this War on Cancer with ferocity? Love gives me wings.

This week the new WIP is a fox. We have visited Bearizona several times and this little guy fascinates me. He is so cute and furry that I just have to give him a go. Hope you enjoy! Last chemo next week… happy Dance…happy dance……

Mountain Chickadees Pastel Pencil on Ingres

Mountain Chickadees
Pastel Pencil on Ingres

Before I fall asleep, just wanted to say, this is the Next To The Last Chemo Treatment!!!! Whoooo Hoooo!

The Mountain Chickadees are matted.

The birds and kitties are fed.

Peace out!!!!

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