Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Struggling Artist

Now typically when someone hears the term “struggling artist” they picture an eccentric, and eclectic individual. Living in a small dwelling that should not house a human of normal proportions. Spending every waking hour perfecting their “craft”. Lost in the poetry and meaning of their latest creation. And Top Ramen. Lots of Top Ramen.

I on the other hand, am a more literal translation. I am simply struggling with my art. Actually I am struggling with being able to get anything done.

About a month ago I purchased a Singer Golden Touch and Sew 620. This thing is about fifty years old. It's beautiful! (see below) All the original accessories, and the ability to sew through more than three layers of garment leather. This is why I bought it. I wanted a machine dedicated to sewing on leather so I wouldn't destroy my high end machine. And I knew my light machine was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Just one more piece of fabric even aimed in its direction, and it was going to crawl up into a sewing machine fetal position- crying about its intended use, and issues with its mother.

Now I know the idea of three sewing machines sounds like I have some shopping,or hoarding disorders. And well, I will neither confirm nor deny these allegations!

What I will say is these machines had a very specific purpose. The light one I am learning on. The high end one that can embroider was a gift from my mom. And the heavy duty one was going to be as I said, for repeated use on heavy fabrics. Because I am going to be the next best designer, and time period dress aficionado! (which in reality translates into learning how to make a skirt and sewing costumes).

One of my goals is to have a my own store online, and to travel to different time period events such as renaissance fairs and classic car shows. But we'll see.

My summer of productivity came to a screeching halt when the brand new-old machine didn't work. Right from the beginning. Lets skip the obvious questions and things I should have checked on. I got it fixed, and about two weeks later it stopped working again. To add insult to expensive injury, my light machine has finally abandoned me to the world. I hope to resurrect them both, but funds at the moment will not permit it.

So I am left with the high end machine. That has been sitting, unused for years because it scares me. I don't want to break it. I am still learning (I should actually say that I understand the basics and concepts of sewing, I just lack experience.) So, I stare at it. In its cream colored case. Sitting all alone. Wondering what it did wrong. I wish I could make it understand- I haven't forgotten about it. I haven't abandoned it, like the evil light weight one has me. I just have insecurity issues. Honest....don't cry snazzy machine. One day I will give you the attention you deserve. I swear it!

Beyond my sewing woes, I have had technology ones as well. Computer was down for a bit, so no editing photos (till now) that I owe people. Also lost my web cam (I don't even know how I managed that one) so no filming- or editing for that matter.

My garage has been a mess, so no leather carving or painting. Scrapbooking supplies are buried under a stack of junk. And so on.The only thing I have been able to do is brainstorm for an upcoming web-comic.

At this point you are probably asking (and rightfully so) “How many arts/crafts do you do woman? How many do you need????” Yeah, go back and read my first post. There you will hear my hidden “I told ya so”.

It is frustrating to have so many interests, so many ideas, and so many unfinished projects. I can feel the failure of each one judging me from shelves, storage bins, closets, and digital files. “You are the worst crafter in history”- they mock me. Like a coloring book mocks the kindergartner who can't stay in the lines.

Well ya know what unfinished projects? Keep up that tone, and I will let you sit there. Collecting dust till the end of time. Or until I donate you to some thrift store..you remember what happened to the old Christmas decorations, don't you? Yeah, you better watch yourself!


By now you have realized I have many an argument with inanimate objects. Some of them even have names. Some are lawful good, others evil, and a great many are just neutral and boring.

But I am happy to say that after this weekend I will have shot some footage, taken pictures, worked on the comic some more, lyrics for a few songs, and so on. More "thinking" projects at the moment. And next week, its on!

I have a phrase I now love. “Cleaning like a mad Irish woman!”.  Basically I need to finish up getting things where I want them to be. I want to focus and dedicate time on setting up my various art stations before I start any new....er I mean finish, yes FINISH all my other projects. Maybe that's what the Lord wants from me. To teach me discipline and dedication before I go off all wild and willy-nilly crafting away into the wee hours of the night. Damage control I guess. 0=o)

(a year from now I will have to check the ceiling for glitter. If there is none, I will know that I succeeded in my quest, and didn't go crazy- simply throwing my supplies about in a moment of craft turrets)

So next craft focused blog, I promise will actually have pictures of a current or finished project

Till then a preview of some of my previous work. Some leather carvings.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Experiment Part 2

Now let us enter into the wonderful world of Gluten Free. Two words of diet and nutrition that I think most of America fears, and doesn't understand. You see there is a slight difference between Celiac Disease, Gluten Allergies, and a Gluten Intolerance. All of which creates reactions to, you guessed it! Gluten. One of the main points of origin for gluten? Wheat.

Again as a teenager, I would notice after eating bread that my stomach would swell. Not just the typical female whine of bloating. But like “it's alive!!!”- alien chest burster -type swelling. Fine, not that bad, but still worse than just a little water weight-it was centralized, and noticeable. (TMI yet?)
No bread for a while, things went back to normal,and I haven't had issues since. Uh huh. At least that's what I have thought. (I will take a moment and encourage people to investigate complications that can all be traced back to eating gluten, its scary)

I know a number of people who can't have wheat. One of my closest friends has educated me over the past year or so, and reminded me of what foods she can't have. Which at first you think, no bread? Ok, so don't eat bread and you will be fine. Hehehe..oh how simple we can be sometimes.

I decided to have a little experiment, to try wheat (gluten) free for a few weeks to a month and see how my body reacts. And if I feel better, I will make it permanent. One of the issues I have had recently is what is called brain fog. Basically after eating, especially anything with gluten, it feels like you are not quite drunk. That first rush when you can feel alcohol hit your system. First there is the warm feeling that extends outward from your belly to your limbs. Then your head gets a little lighter, you are relaxed. But with brain fog it is a bit different. You have a hot flash, and you are light headed, and a bit dizzy. Almost trapped inside your own body, detached from your senses. Brain fog.

With further reading, a number of people have expressed this brain fog, and that after eliminating gluten from their diet it went away. As did their headaches. I was diagnosed with migraines when I was 13. The first few years were horrible. Then I discovered what foods trigger them, so I could manage, and fake my way through them. Then I moved from Florida to California after high school. And it seems like since then my health has been one roller coaster of medical hell after another.

My headaches and migraines have varied. A few years ago I had a migraine for 3 weeks straight. Over the past two years I have developed silent migraines, which is all the other symptoms of a regular butt kicking one, minus the actual pain in your head. And then two weeks ago I had the worst migraine I have ever had. I couldn't move my body with out feeling sick and took a 4 hour “nap” as a result.

Those are just some thoughts on part of my gluten free motivation. I am on day four of no gluten, and can already say that I feel different. I don't have the fog anymore, and though my headaches are not completely gone, it is easier to tell why I have them. Say because I just haven't eaten at all, or my neck is tight, too much computer, sitting for too long....so on. It's not food related.

But now let me return to the actual food related headache of eating gluten free, the shopping. It dawned on me when at the movies with a friend. I thought I would get a little scoop of ice cream ( which turned out to be two BIG scoops, but oh well, hehehe) and I wanted to get cookies n' cream. Cookies. Made with flour...made from wheat...GLUTEN!

I swear my brain had a temper tantrum for five seconds when it realized all the extra thinking it was going to have to do beyond the subject of bread.

       Brain:  You mean I now have to worry about ICE CREAM! Seriously??!! I can't process every side dish, meal, snack, and beverage with FOUR food allergies! Woman are you insane??!!!!

Me: Oh shut up. Look, they have  pecan praline

Brain: Oooh! Pecan praline? YUM!

Me: sigh... (to the clerk) Two scoops please.

But I realized this really is going to be a life changer. But I choose to see it as a positive. I found a rather popular blog called the “Gluten Free Girl, And The Chef”. A husband and wife. It is cute, educational, and practical. With recipes mixed in with her thoughts and a peek into her life, plus a community of other gluten freebies. So far I love it. http://glutenfreegirl.com/recipes/ .

She made a good point, that substituting gluten free packaged foods for the real stuff is just as bad for you as the allergic reaction to the gluten. Kinda like having lite beer instead of regular. Beer is beer. Junk is Junk.
I found her blog because I was looking for whole foods that are gluten free. Guess what folks, turns out there are grains out there other than wheat. No I'm not just talking about the nutrient sucking corn ( I will spare you that rant for now).

So now I get to play with new foods, er I mean experiment with new recipes. I will have to be creative in my outings, but that just lends to more chances to grow in responsibility, and learn new things. Its kinda frustrating, but honestly its exciting.

Because now I have an excuse to get my family to buy healthier foods, and not complain about it..MWAHAHAHA!

Ahem. Sorry. I think now is a good time for a break. More thoughts,recipes, and failed experiments to come. 

Preview of next post: Something crafty, I promise.

Experiment Part 1

(I have decided to jump around a bit with my categories of discussion, or “themes”. Because I have had some set backs in the art department, the first is going to be food/health.)

I imagine the following to be narrated by some great actor, with a warming voice. One that oozes eloquence. Or as one friend likes to say, the “Papa Bear” type voice. I will let you decided which actor or actress you would prefer to hear in your head.
Narrator: “The human body: a collection of cells,fluids,muscles, pathways, and sensors. All working together to bring our daily lives into fruition. Functioning like a perfect, well oiled machine that seamlessly completes simple tasks, with complex movements. All without our having to “think” about it. And yet, our brain is thinking all on its own,with out our knowledge or in put. That is...until something goes wrong.”

And cue dramatic music. Fade to black.

Cut to the image of an x-ray, MRI, a nurse drawing blood from a patient. The cliche plastic bag of intravenous fluids being clipped to a stand. The patient and loved one holding hands in the office, waiting for the doctor.

Fade to black.

Fade up to- the dinner table?

Yes, food. Oh glorious food! That which provides comfort and energy to so many, and is a metro-train full of poisonous passengers for the rest of us. Let us skip past  weight and struggle of for a moment- that will be a different post. Today I want to discuss allergies. Food allergies.

Now, I do not have an allergy to peanuts. I will not turn into a balloon and suffocate at the mere sight of a jar of peanut butter. I love shrimp, and can eat it happily without getting hives, or needing to stab myself in the thigh with a needle in order to survive. Instead I have asthmatic reactions to two foods, joint pain from another, and who knows what from a fourth.

What am I allergic too? Well funny you should ask..or at least expect me to say already (geez this broad can ramble). I am allergic to Lemon- NO NOT CITRUS!! For crying out loud..it is possible to be able to eat oranges, and NOT lemon. I am also allergic to Basil -sigh- yes I can eat parsley,sage,rosemary,and thyme. No I have never eaten them at Scarborough Fair, but moving on!

These two seemingly innocent items cause what I like to say, my lungs to shut down. Not anaphylactic shock. Okay I don't know the true definition of anaphylactic shock and at what point it is officially called such, nor how to spell it. (I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to the little “abc” button at the top, most people thank spellcheck, the “program”, but I don't think the actual button gets the credit it deserves. Rock on little button!).

What happens feels like my asthma (the too much fluid kind). I can breathe, but not breathe at the same time. And I will admit, over the past few years the reaction has gotten quicker and stronger, with smaller amounts needed to initiate complications. Also..yes my throat has started to tighten. So I guess its like having the distant cousin of anaphylactic shock come over for dinner, and threaten to invite the whole family over to your house for their reunion, because he just LOVES your window treatments.

Mr.Reaction: Ooh! Is that tv 3-d?
Me: No. Good day sir.
Mr. Reaction: But I just want a quick refill.
Me: I SAID, good day!

I discovered the basil allergy in my early teens, eating a personal sized basil and tomato pizza. A few slices in I couldn't breathe and had a horrible migraine. Lemon was in my later teens. For the most part I stopped drinking soda when I was twelve. The only one I would still drink was root beer, 'cause its awesome. You know it is. I would drink tea, lemonade, juice, milk, but mostly I just had water with a slice of lemon. For six years. Then at 18 I had the same lung issues. So...now no Italian restaurants for me. Or fish that I haven't cooked myself. Although, I'm not a big fan of pasta, or fish...so, okay I can deal.

I love, love LOVE onions. I think every meal, every dish, needs onions.White, purple, yellow,green..I don't discriminate. And until a few months ago, I would have them in a salad, caramelized, as a soup that apparently the French invented, or in their famous dip form. That is until my brain correlated the joint pain I have had every day for years with my love of onions. Now, I know this sounds odd, but I have researched (and by that I mean used the Internet to read other peoples problems to diagnose my own, you know you do it to, so.. again, moving on!) and I discovered that one of the main reactions to onions for those allergic to it, is joint pain.

This was after I didn't have any for two weeks, then had a ridiculous amount for two days, and spent the rest of the next three days wishing I could lay on a bed of dry ice if only it would help with the pain. So now I enter into the crud portion of food allergies. Try finding a premade tomato sauce that doesn't have onions in it...ok, I like Alfredo..that's cool.

And restaurants? They love onions as much as I do. A salad bar shouldn't be any problem right? Well so long as I don't get any broccoli,potato, or Chinese chicken salads. Okay..no premixed stuff..ok I can deal. Dishes that they cook onions with, I can pick them out..no biggie... Oh! Wrong!! So meat cooked with onions, ANYTHING cooked with onions, in a broth, sauteed, broiled, fried, simmered or canned. Still no.

Alright, so I just have to be very careful, selective, and creative.


Cue my random picture of a tree 
to inspire hope and tranquility!

Would that be a "Tranquilitree"? 0.o *giggle*