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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!

Happy New Year!

Why the bed is not made!

Why the bed is not made!

Happy New year to all of you! Wishing you a great year full of all the people and critters you love. As you can see the cats are going to start the new year as usual and I won’t be making the bed. Hubby gets up early(5 ish) makes kitty breakfast, then rolls up two blankets into kitty beds. When I wake up …..yes, considerably later, this is the scene. These guys stay there all day until dinner time, then come out and stare us down until someone produces the gourmet meal. If you don’t have a cat, you cannot truly appreciate the power of a kitty “stare”.

Charlie1

Charlie – Hahn’s Macaw

Meanwhile back at the ranch….after the kitty breakfast is prepared, the birds start screaming for their gourmet breakfast. Once that is done and served….blessed quiet, while the parrots eat, throw food and start planning the day’s chaos.

This has been a good resting week. I am really having to rest after chemo week and Christmas coinciding. Even though it was quiet compared to a normal Christmas, we still were surrounded by loved ones. SO here is the result of this week’s art therapy. I started a colored pencil on the mixed media paper – of Charlie. My little Hahn’s Macaw is known affectionately to the rest of the family as Hannibal the Cannibal. I don’t know where they get such a name!?!?!? Charlie is very affectionate with me, but from the blood evidence on the members of my family who dare to try to handle Charlie, maybe the name fits her? All I know is she is a little bundle of feathered joy to me. Charlie and Sunny have been the excuse for many an art store binge, after they have run down my arm and chewed up brushes and pencils. Like I really need an excuse to go to the art store, LOL.

Once again, as I look back over this year, I am Thankful for all of your prayers, good wishes, and positive thoughts. This year, together, we will continue to STOMP on cancer and win this war.

Caterpillars, Ravens, and Birthdays

MonCat5a

Nom Nom Nom!

The Monarch Caterpillar is still nomming on the Desert Milkweed flowers. He is getting pretty big, not too much longer! Hope he makes it before a freeze, or we will have to put a light out with the plant blanket to keep him from freezing. We actually moved him to a bigger plant because he was running out of flowers. It is amazing watching these guys! Can’t wait for the butterfly! I posted some other shots of him on FB a couple of days ago.

Are you lookin' at me?

Are you lookin’ at me?

The raven is done, de done, done. Oh you want to see the drawing, of course you do. Let’s see where did I put that file, hopefully somewhere the cats can’t find it.  Oh yes, I remember now. Hope you enjoy!  So I am thinking a colored pencil or pastel on black paper for my next project.

Another birthday gone by. My wonderful family made dinner on Sunday, since they knew I had chemo on Monday. We had a very nice dinner with cake and presents. I now have a collection of hats to wear with my thinning hair. Beanies, Beret Beanies, Slouch Beanies, and a couple of scarves. My head will be among the best dressed this winter. Also some nice warm jammies with nice warm house boots. No chance of getting cold this year! Also another cat added to the household, luckily this one is ornamental and does not need feeding and affection, it was a gift from friends who went to the Tempe Art Fair.  It was nice to go into chemo after such a nice day. Had a rough time Monday evening, lots of nausea and filling up a couple of barf bags. Am feeling so much better today. You had better believe all through the nausea, I was saying….it is worth it, it is working! It IS worth it, it IS working. We are halfway through, only six more treatments to go!

Stay tuned, you never know what is going to happen around here!

Ravens and Transitions

Raven

Raven

SO resting week started with a migraine, which has now has subsided thanks to modern medicine, luckily, there is some progress on the raven drawing.

What is is it about cloudy days that make you want to curl up on the couch with a good book and just veg. It has been cloudy a total of two days and seems so gloomy that the couch/book idea with a nice blanket, fire, and a warm cup of cocoa sounds awesome. I have access to a ton of new books on my iPad since hubby signed me up for Scribd! Yes, I know it is in the 70’s, but in Az that is downright sweater weather! When this blog is written, you will know where to find me! I am taking my cue from Rusty, he is vegging in his new heated cat bed.

For some reason lately, I have been thinking a lot about transitions. They seem to be hard to handle as an artist and as a person. You would think, since we are almost continually in transition, we would be very good at handling them. As an artist, people rarely talk about transition, but it is one of the very important elements in a piece. How do you go from dark to light, from color to color, from line to line from shape to shape or even from texture to texture?

There are no spoiled cats in this house!

There are no spoiled cats in this house!

Each element of the art must transition and flow, leaving a path for the viewer’s eye. Focal point, shadows, and complementary colors are some of the ways I cope with transition in my art.  But in my own life, it seems like I am always behind in getting the transitions…one day I am healthy, the next day, I am a cancer survivor. Where was the transition? It took me weeks to accept the change, but only seconds for it to happen. Then more weeks for me to even realize what a big transition it is. Ok, so now we have a new normal….has it changed again while I was not looking?

Hands On

Pottery1AAlmost done, as usual, I put it up where I can see it then make a few adjustments. Still stuck in Black and White –  I am enjoying it so much, think I will work on a raven. We took a trip to Yellowstone Park a few years ago and got some good close photos of a raven. I have done him several times, but he was so good at posing, and just has that raven look of disdain which is so typical, LOL. I still have some more hand projects in the lineup, so stay tuned……

Kitty report just in straight from the art desk! While working on the pottery hands, Dante just jumped up on my desk and made himself at home. He dragged his tail over the left side of the drawing and as you can see laid down right on the top of the drawing. I guess he knows charcoal is delicate and wants to make sure it is smudged and has plenty of cat hair on it.  Cats 1 – Arlene – 0Dante2A

Time for the weekly cancer report, since it is Rest Week, I am doing well, only two more treatments before we stop to evaluate, it will go pretty fast.

Have heard a lot of complaining from my friends (and even family) this week that they are freezing. I admit, I did get out some sweaters and have started wearing the light long sleeve tops, but REALLY……..high 70’s in the day and high 40’s to low 50’s at night. Yes it is cooler than the 100’s, but look at the rest of the country, THEY have something to complain about! Guess everyone just loves to complain about weather.DanteA

On the other hand…..

PotteryAHaving had a really good week last week, I made a lot of progress on the new charcoal on black paper. This is one of those pieces which has bugged me to get going with it, but I had so many other projects that needed to be done, that it kept slipping back in line. Think I took the ref photos a couple of years ago, intending to add this one to the “Hands” series which is on display at the Beatitudes until Dec 3. There is just something about black and white which makes me want to keep my hand in and do one or two a year in between the birdies! There are more hands coming, but I think it is bird time after this one, LOL.

SO hubby and I are noticing that it takes a little bit longer after each chemo treatment to recover from the fatigue. Had a little more nausea than usual, but am feeling well now, just very fatigued. Usually by the weekend, I have recovered and am ready to go. Well, four down and eight to go, so we are one third of the way, and may get a break during Dec if they decide to interrupt after chemo 6 to do surgery. The nice thing about chemo week, is that the kitties stay close and we have a lot of kitty therapy.

Herons and Hair

BCNHfOk, so I got a little excited about the Hyacinth Macaw Party and forgot to post the progress on the Black Crowned Night Heron! It is almost done, just a few little picky details and a visit to Candy to make sure it is ready to sign!

So this is resting week, and after each chemo treatment, I am seeing improvement. The pain levels are going down, the swelling is going down and after most of the week of resting, the energy levels are going up! So when I complain about the chemo week, I just have to stop and look at my progress and put one foot in front of the other foot and keep going. As my cousin, Dina says……”put on your big girl panties”, LOL. Thanks for that saying , Dina!

So looking into the bathroom sink, I am wondering if all of my hair is running down the drain. Apparently, I am not supposed to go bald, but the hair will thin with this chemo regimen. Well, the silver lining to this cloud is, Hubby and a couple of friends have offered to shave their heads is I go bald, and I FINALLY GET BACK AT THE CATS! LOL, they now have to put up with my hair all over the place. Nanner, nanner, nanner! Ok, so they are ignoring me, imagine that. It must be the first time cats have ignored a human……….you don’t say……..that is normal for a cat…..Oh…….. ….thought it was just me they ignore. Oh well, back to the drawing board, maybe I can think of something else to annoy them…..stay tuned!

Hyacinth Macaw Party!!!!!

HyacinthParty2During my rest week, we were invited to a Hyacinth Macaw Party. Usually I don’t get out a lot, but this party Mici put on, was not to be missed! Most of my bird friends were attending, so I rested all week to be able to go for a while. Mici’s place is beyond amazing, we got the tour of the rescue horses, birds, goats and who could call the visit complete without the “Watch Pig”. Joey the celebrity bird, with his friend, Paco, crashed the party…..they are not hyacinths, but they do have some blue on them, so HyacinthPartyguess that counts. Everyone had a wonderful time, got plenty of visiting time with the hyacinths, lots of scritching, kissing and cooing going on…..then we were treated to one of Mici’s “snacks only” spreads. all I can say is if I need to gain weight, I know where to go. Noelle was still in a cannoli coma the last I heard. Lori lost her son to all the activity for a while, last I heard he was full and tired out. Well even though I WatchPigrested all week, only made it about an hour before fatigue set in, but it is an experience I will never forget. Mici and Fred are amazing, compassionate people, it is an honor to know them.

My phone decided to do a fitware update on my camera while we there, so I did not get any photos, luckily hubby took the ones here.

THREE DOWN AND NINE TO GO! Made it through another chemo week, slept until Friday afternoon and am awake and back to my new “normal”! Had a visit with the PA on Friday, and we are scheduling a petscan right after treatment six, to see how things are going and how well the chemo treatments are working. SO the fight goes on! My family is sure the chemo is helping. They see an improvement in my pain levels and energy levels, so I am sure we are winning the war. Keep those prayers, positive thoughts and well wishes going! Thanks so much!

Cat Naps

RustyOne thing about cats, they sure do know how to nap! They sleep fifteen to twenty hours a day, sometimes just dozing for about fifteen minutes at at a time. Rusty here looks pretty relaxed doesn’t he? So during “rest week” I am trying to learn form the cats and taking little naps during the day.

Since it is “rest week”, I feel way better than “chemo week” so between naps am making slow progress on the Black Crowned Night Heron.BCNH6

Friday we meet with the surgeon, so will probably have news on next week’s blog as to the schedule. Since it is a first appointment, I am not really sure what to expect, so this journey continues, as I take one step at a time.

With the big “C” diagnosis, some changes in perspective happen. I have been reflecting a little on them and have realized I have to pare life down to the bare essentials and decide what is really important. First of all of course are my relationships. Next is my sense of identity. Realizing that I have put a lot of energy into being an artist, but not just an artist…. a “successful artist” in the eyes of the world. I realized that I have been spending a lot of that energy in trying to market and sell my art to be  the world’s version of artist. That puts a lot of stress on me and eats up time and energy. With depleted reserves, I am choosing to do the art and stop the marketing and selling, so will be shutting down my Etsy site, and may make changes to the website, so that I can concentrate on the battle in front of me and keep the art as a therapy/fun part of my life. There have been a lot more changes in my perspective, but for now it is time to take a little nap.

Thanks again for all of the prayers, good wishes and positive thoughts, you all are awesome!

Chemo week or Rip Van Winkle?

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Here is the new chemo hair! Claudine was kind enough to come over and cut it for me. For some reason during the treatments, I sweat a lot, and would wake up with a sweat soaked, smelly ponytail. The fatigue was making it hard to keep up with it so decided it needed to go! It has been many years since wearing it short, so I keep wondering who that person in the mirror is! LOL.

This week’s chemo was merciful! Monday after the three hour treatment, I came home with my pump, knew from experience that the first day is good because of the steroids they add. So I did not go home and pig out, LOL. Ate moderately, took nausea medication and went to sleep. Only had one little bout with nausea on Tues am, started the meds for the cramps, and went back to sleep. Pretty well slept through Friday morning with short breaks for food and meds. SO here I am the week is over, and I am feeling like Rip Van Winkle, LOL.

BCNHgThe rest has helped a lot, I actually worked on the Black Crowned Night Heron today, here is the update. Do not panic, I am just sketching in where water and grasses will be, it is pretty messy right now…but hey! I am feeling like doing art again!!!!! Whooooo Hooooo! Thanks for all those prayers, good wished and positive thoughts!

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