Arlene Powers Bird Art and Discussion Site

Black Necked StiltAfter several months of thumb arthritis, and cancer pain, I am needing to do some ART, so………………….. to heck with all the pain stuff, here we go! This Drawing is going to be a couple of Black Necked Stilts. Holding a brush or pen is not working, so it is back to pastel pencil, which should be a good medium for these little cuties. I can maneuver the pencil without bending the thumb with light pressure using wrist motion, so onward and forward! The blending is painful, but I will work through it since these little pastel drawings don’t take as long as a painting or large charcoal drawing.

This is resting week as you have probably guessed. We see the oncologist Monday and should get an updated CEA count since the resumption of chemo. I am back to my Rip Van Winkle impressions during chemo week, probably won’t have a blog update until late in the week after waking up.

We had a nice little rain this evening, which hopefully will cool off some of this 100+ degree weather! Hope it is a LOT cooler for the next blog. Signing off from Bird/Kitty Central…………

Round Two Begins

Hunting Heron

Hunting Heron

How do you wage a war being very cool, calm and collected when the enemy is so vicious! Cancer is cruel, it does not give 30 days notice, it causes pain, horrible side effects, death and disrupts lives. Cancer does not care….it is relentless. Normal emotions you feel when confronted with this war do not help. Denial, anger, fear, and depression can paralyze you and pull your efforts out of the war, giving cancer a battle victory.

Stilt

Black Necked Stilt

From day 1, my husband has helped me organize this War. First of all having a plan is the way to start.

Fighting the unknown is scary, so we educate ourselves on the specific cancer we are fighting, and plan treatment to knock out the enemy. We take it one day at a time knowing that we are working the plan. Focus on the plan! We celebrate each goal as it is met then move on to the next goal. Build flexibility into the plan, this is real life…..So if this means missing your daughter’s wedding in Hawaii to start round 2 of chemo to win the war, you just do what you have to do and continue to put one foot in front of the other foot. Focus on the plan.

Enlisting your allies in the war is another great step in winning the war. My husband is my number one ally. He is always there; if I need a hug, to shed a tear, help with any little thing and most of all, to love and to laugh. We have a great medical team, a great family & friend team, a great prayer team, a wonderful positive thoughts team, the amazing birdie and kitty team, and the awesome team”Mother Nature”.

Avocets

Avocets

SO here we go into round two of chemotherapy. This is the stage where we hope to make THE big knock out. Twelve cycles of chemo week/ resting week. Same treatment as last round. The pain in my right hand is subsiding, so I am planning some new art works already. AND Treatment 1 of 12 is done and treatment # 2 starts next week, we are almost 1/6 of the way! Thanks to all of you for the company, comfort and support on the journey!

Cute Kiss

This week, I had to say UNCLE and get the chemo treatments moved up, instead of waiting until September. The pain and nausea are back. So I do not pass “GO”, do not get to collect a trip to Hawaii, and have to go to chemo jail. My awesome friends are going to throw a “picture” reception after the kids get back from the wedding, so that George and I can see all the photos and videos and hear all the stories from the wedding!

The Trip to Texas to see family is postponed again, but the weather will be better in spring anyway.

The flock is happy that I am not going away for ten days, even though, they do not like for me to be nauseous. So here we gooooooo! The next battle starts!

BuglingGot the word today, Friday’s CEA count was 92.1, about doubled from last month.  Scheduling chemo the end of this month, so we are trying to get the trip to Hawaii for my daughter’s wedding in before chemo, if the pain levels stay down. Also, if they stay down, will get to Texas to visit family for a few days after we get back. Next blood work scheduled for Aug 21, then Oncologist Appointment scheduled Aug 31.

At least I did get in one kayak trip down the Salt River. We usually kayak a couple of times during the summer. This was one of the most amazing trips. We saw 4 herds of wild horses. One group had babies and were on both sides of the river. It was just awesome to hear them calling each other back and forth across the river. We saw a bobcat, raven nest, beaver lodge and many bird species, including cardinals, vermillion flycatchers, peregrine falcon, great blue herons, green herons, egrets, red winged blackbirds and others I am forgetting to name. This trip was just balm to the soul getting ready to go back into chemo. I will hold those memories close until we can get back out to the river again.

No art to post this week, arthritis has restricted the use of my right thumb and forefinger, so will get back to it, as soon as the pain and swelling recede. In the meantime, have tons of photos to work on in photoshop and will get more ready to post as I have energy. SO enjoy a couple of my favorites taken in Rocky Mountain Park, Co.

Everything seemed to be going fine after the surgery. I was preparing for the six week appointment with the surgeon in a few days, and I started having abdominal pain. At first just thought I had slept wrong or hurt a muscle or something, but the pain kept getting worse. Hubby took me to the Emergency Room at the hospital, where we discovered that I had a blockage. It turned out to be an inflammation at the surgery site. These usually happen close to surgery, it is rare to have them happen this far out after surgery. They gave me relief from the pain, and lots of fluids. The inflammation cleared and I went home after a  four day stay in the hospital. For those of you who have never experienced a bollus(a large amount of fluids pumped into the system rapidly) Let me just say Fred Flintstone fingers and toes. The poor little fluid machine is buzzing away pumping fluids as fast as it can, sounding like it may explode at any moment. In the meantime, your body starts swelling. You watch your ring disappear under swollen flesh, and you are amazed that you do not explode. A call to the nurse gets the reaction, “You are just fine dear, your skin is not dimpling yet”. Another fun experience to chalk up into the archives.

The next week, abdominal pain appears again. We do another emergency room run, only to find out they cannot find a cause. After a week, the pain starts to subside.

The long awaited visit to the oncologist finally arrives. We are expecting to hear that the CEA count has remained stable or is still dropping. So it was a shock for us to hear that the count has gone up to 42 and that I will be starting another round of chemo in September. The good news is that the cancer in the colon is gone, and the remaining tumors are half the size they were and are flat, not swollen. So we will be starting this round of chemo a lot better off than last time. However, this news is still hard to hear. Hubby goes back to work with his eyes tearing up, and I go home holding mine back. Friends commiserate with me, and I indulge in a whole day of self pity. By the end of a day of this pity party, I have enough and decide to pull my head out of my butt and look around.

It is time to put on my warrior face and kick some cancer around again!

THE BAT ADVENTURE

Bat Adventure

Bat Adventure

So we were just sitting at the bookstore, reading on our IPADs, and hubby comes up with a local article about the Phoenix Bat Caves. Ok, so they are not really caves, but a drainage pipe that goes from 24th St to 40th Street.

Bat Tunnel

Bat Tunnel

We are not talking small pipe, here, it is a tunnel big enough to have a two lane road in. Apparently, the Mexican Free Tail Bats have found it, and make their homes here  during their yearly migration for the summer. We decide at the drop of a hat to go on a bat adventure. We make the trek to 40th St and Camelback, park in a shopping center and start walking along the canal. It is sunset and the canal is beautiful, ducks are swimming in the water reflecting the sunset.

Trying to get a cell phone pic.

Taking a cell phone pic.

We walk about a quarter of a mile along the canal and come to the “Bat Caves”. At first just a few bats exit, fly around and go back into the tunnel. Apparently these are the scouts checking it out to make sure it is safe to come out. We are very excited to see them, along with four or five night hawks who are flying around feeding on the insects. We watch for a while as the bats make their way out of the cave and then leave, thinking that his has been a great adventure. As we are leaving we enjoy all of the bats flying around swooping over our heads, then come to the fence at the end of the drainage area. Bats are pouring out and it is absolutely amazing. Because it was dark at the end of the tunnel, we had not seen how many bats were really coming out of the tunnel. We stand here for a long time, just being amazed at the number of bats coming out and swooping around us. Talk about Nature Therapy!

Yummmmm!

Yummmmm!

Hummingbird Talk

Hummingbird Talk

MORE NATURE THERAPY

The next morning we get up at 4:30 AM to make sure all of the parrots and kitties have their morning meal. We hit the local Starbucks and get to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens at 6:00 AM. Those of you who know me well, KNOW that only a chance at getting a good bird photo will roust me out of bed this early, LOL. Members are allowed into the Gardens an hour early on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which allows you time in the gardens with very few people around and the wildlife is all out and about their morning business, making for some excellent photo opps. Here are some of the photos, hope you enjoy! Don’t forget to click to see a larger file!

Sleepy Young Great Horned Owl

Sleepy Young Great Horned Owl

Ouch!

Ouch!

Verdin

Verdin

Quail Chick

Quail Chick

Short and sweet, the count was 25.6 which is still going down. Good and bad news. Good that it is going down, bad in that the oncologist wanted it under 10. We will see how it is next month! But down from original count of 2000 – way good news.

Buffalo Dream Catcher

Buffalo Dream Catcher

Four weeks on Tuesday from the surgery date and I am almost recovered. Energy levels are up and only a little bit of soreness. So almost to the “New Normal”! Monday will be the first blood work since March, so we are waiting very un-patiently for that test result. This will pretty much define the “New Normal” and give a baseline for the chemo markers after surgery. I will post as soon as we get the results. It is usually two to three days after the blood is taken, since they have to send it out to a lab.

To the left is a photo of the Buffalo Dream Catcher. It is leather with the watercolor ground, then watercolor and colored pencil. Na ner na ner na ner to the guy at the store where I bought the leather, LOL. Watercolor and colored pencil do work pretty well on leather with a little help from the watercolor ground.

We got up at 4:30 AM today to get to the Botanical Gardens at 6:00 AM to get some photos before it was too HOT. Left there at 8:00AM sweating. It is supposed to get up to 107 degrees today. Pretty soon it will be too hot to even get up early to go anywhere (except maybe the mall which has fabulous a/c). This too shall pass! When we are crying about the heat, remind us about the wonderful winters without snow and ice, LOL! We may hibernate for the summer. At least will be staying in the A/C as much as possible.

That is it for now, stay tuned for next weeks blood work results………. it is time for a siesta,……….. it is WAY too hot to type……….Even the parrots are quiet…….the cats are asleep as usual…….. Too hot to draw…….definitely time for a nap.

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.

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