Thursday, September 9

Of Chemo and Silver . . . . .

Willow one of the house fairies, in pensive mood

The problem with chemo therapy is that it doesn’t differentiate between your good fast growing cells and those pesky naughty ones that you want to get rid of.  Which basically means that every now and then, my treatment has to be put on hold whilst my blood cells that only take a matter of days to develop and grow, are given a breather to regroup.

Following  the drama of the fluid being drained from around my lung after a transfusion of  platelets, treatment  was postponed for two weeks.  Being  chemo~free is a mixed blessing. It gives my body chance to catch up, even gather a bit of energy but in the back of my mind I can feel the fingers of the disease start to claw their way out of the deep dark pit that I’ve banished the cancer in to.  This illness is particularly pernicious  . . .

But to keep my mind on far better and brighter thoughts, I have been working on a commission piece.  The brief was quite open, to make anything that I felt appropriate for a wonderful young lady.  So I asked for a ‘mood board’ to describe the recipient and this was what I produced based on the the pictures, words and ideas that I was given.

Air on a G note
Commission Brooch for a friend.

PMC+ fine silver, with hand painted slip 'G clef', hand carved staves and copper staple, riveted onto base of brooch.

Pearl and glass beads on fine silver dangles, with cotton thread and lavender quartz beads on hand made sterling silver fibula pin.

Coloured with liver of sulphur and coated with Ren Wax.

Brooch ~ approx 45mm x 27mm Fibula ~ approx 65mm

Tuesday, August 31

Of Autumn and Rosettes . . . .

The weather is beginning to change and I don’t just mean that Autumn has arrived.  Over the bank holiday weekend, we even managed to see a bit of sunlight ~ although unfortunately for my husband  the one full day of great weather was spent with me in hospital. Charley spent the day at home and was none too impressed either . . .

But getting back to the Saturday before all the nasty stuff started husband, dog and I went for a short stroll on the moors.  I needed to walk very, very slowly and with the help of one of my many sticks, but that didn’t stop Charley from racing ahead and sniffing at every bush, rock and piece of moorland furniture that was available.  After all that excitement we needed a cup of tea and stopped off at our favourite dog friendly cafĂ© in Princetown, the Fox Tor.

Then, as we were driving home the long way round we came upon signs for the local Sheep Dog Trials.  If you are not familiar with this wonderfully piece of human and animal interaction, then do have a look at the wiki page which gives you loads of info.

Having been brought up on the BBC series of One Man and HisDog as a youngster, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see these amazing displays in person.  So I convinced husband to stop off, and we watched several shepherds (male and female) work their beautiful dogs in the ring.  Let me tell you, those sheep are sneaky little devils!

But as we were wandering around after (another) cup of tea served by the lovely ladies from the village, we were accosted by some friends to take a walk over to the other side of the field to have a look at the local dog shows.  And before we knew it we had been talked in to entering Charley for the next competition! Bearing in mind we had come from a jaunt on the moor, he was a little bedraggled covered in burrs and mud, plus we hadn’t brought his grooming brush with us so we were not expecting to come anywhere in the judging. 

But the expert had other ideas!  Look at that proud boy (with an even prouder husband) displaying a bright red First rosette.  Charley was deemed best in condition, which I’m really pleased about as you can imagine.  But as the whole thing took ages,  I have a feeling that his show ring career was short and sweet . . . . .

 Charley was more impressed with his bag of treats than the rosette

Friday, August 20

Of Puppies and Parrots . . . .

Knitting chipmunks wearing their Victorian inspired swimming costumes seems to be the closest I can get to joys of Summer right now.

Okay, what has happened to the rest of the Summer?

The weather here on Dartmoor is atrocious, with thick white mist and constant rain.  Charley is staring out of the window with a look of complete disbelief wondering why he can't go outside and get completely drenched, as is obviously his right. I am wondering why the season has changed so rapidly and in the middle of August?  Surely we can expect some sunshine around about now?

We've been very lucky recently, with visits from friends and a trip to meet up with Charley's family.  We have kept in touch with Charley's breeder, and in fact have become friends with Jane and her household of many animals. When we knew that two of her poodles were about to give birth, we offered to selflessly pop over and help 'socialise' them prior to their departure to their new families.  So, one afternoon 2 weeks ago we drove over to Newton Abbot and along with Charley, met up with 16 standard poodle pups. It was adorable!

A puddle of poodle pups, 6 weeks old

Charley was congratulated on dealing so well with all the puppies but really made it plain he wasn't into the youngsters, although the three kittens did hold his attention.  He was far happier though being with his mum and sister ~ although you can see from his sisters face that she wasn't too keen on being photographed right then!

We've also had a couple of visits from the ever fabbie KnitNurse  and her wonderful travelling parrot! Pippa gets rather bored and now has a swish backpack cage so she can accompany her owner on trips out and about.  It is a bijou travel case, just perfect for those times when you want to nip along to see a friend or two . .

Needless to say Charley was very interested in Pippa. And luckily she reciprocated with lots of wolf whistles and calls.  It seems that these two are going to be the best of buddies . . . . .

Thursday, July 29

Of Treatments and Creating . . .

Playing with the macro setting

It’s been a tough month. My breathing got so bad that I needed the fluid removed from around my lung. It wasn’t a nice experience, but after a few days I felt the benefit and whilst it is building up again I’m able to breathe fairly easily most of the time now.

Then the chemo had an enforced rest for 3 weeks. I had the usual week off after 6 continuous treatments, but afterwards my body didn’t bounce back as quickly as usual and the chemo needed to be halted until my bloods showed I was ready to take the onslaught yet again.  It’s been frustrating mainly because I actually felt quite well, but now that I am back on the regime again with the lack of energy, nausea and hot flushes I am beginning to wonder why I got so annoyed at not having the Toilet Cleaner™?

See, I’m never satisfied . . .

But I have been making things. Little things that can be picked up and put down easily whenever I have the attention span and the energy to make them.

I was asked to make some crocheted granny squares for the delightful Vicky who is making a friendship blanket for P. I was honoured to take part in this collaboration and it reminded me just how much I enjoy crocheting. I have ideas of making my own blanket at some point . . . .

The fabbie and dangerous Melted Rachel and I entered in to a DeCluttering challenge last week and whilst I lagged behind quite dreadfully, as part of the clearing of my desk I managed to complete a couple of projects that had been lying around for months, one of which was this textile box which during its construction had broken several needles, my sewing machine and my patience! Having finally completed it, I was more than happy to send it out as a birthday present to another lovely friend.  In the mean time Flame Thrower Rachel and I are still DeCluttering our lives and our work desks . . .

And remember that lovely little knitted chipmunk? Well, the KnitNurse sent me the pattern and not content with making one, I actually made two of them. :)  Plus, as part of a Knit A Long challenge on Ravelry, I made a 1920’s swimming costume for Twitch who has now happily gone to live with the KnitNurse and her menagerie of many animals. I hope that they will all get along together . .  

   Doesn’t Twitch look dapper?

Saturday, June 26

Of Metal Clay and other Worlds . . .

One of my metal clay hollow beads

And now time for a serious post . . .

An online blog buddy is having a rough time right now, having spent the last 10 years trying to speak up for the ‘small people’ who are coming into the new world of Metal Clay. I admire Kate Mckinnon for her determination and doggedness to make her voice heard in a closed knit world where one or two others are the be all and end all of the Metal Clay Universe. I am in awe of Kate's personal crusade to make this wonderful material as safe as possible for everyone ~ and as someone with a much reduced immune system, that is most definitely me she is talking about.

10 years ago, I wish I had had the determination and candour to do the same. My position was very different, being the voluntary chairwoman of a Science Fantasy convention, but our paths were similar in that we both had information. However unlike Kate, I chose to keep the info I had very close to my chest in an attempt not to involve the general fandom and get into a very public fight. When the convention was heading into obvious overdraft, I took the very difficult decision to pull the plug and cancel it for that year. A lot of people were disappointed ~ I was devastated but I felt it better to do that than to have a convention that was going to be £20 000+ in debt. I walked away with my head held high, but left my reputation in tatters and have never been able to read or enjoy the books since as the bad taste has never left my mouth.

What I wish is that I was more like Kate. That I had decided that everyone needed to know all the details; of the fact that I had inherited a convention from the previous chairman that was already in debt, strangely enough by the exact amount of money that had been generously donated by the convention goers to the charities from the previous cons. That the charity money only got paid by the generosity of the major personality of the convention, but the deal was that that was never to happen again and by the way, he wasn't going to help in anyway whatsoever from then on. That the other personalities were all at loggerheads with each other, and that the whole thing seemed to be a battle of epic proportions where one slight misheard comment could cause a catastrophic engagement of wills.

I had walked into the position with such high hopes, looking forward to challenging myself with new experiences and having a great time doing it with so many friends at my side. I walked away with nothing but head and heart ache and an inherent distrust for the cult of celebrity. The major celebrity then happily went back to working with the previous chairman. I only worked on the convention for a few years, so I cannot imagine how Kate has maintained momentum to continue her work for 10 whole years. Admittedly this is her career choice, whilst mine was a voluntary position alongside my full time job as a theatre nurse, but still the continuous barrage of negative criticism? I only had that behind closed doors and never in the public arena ~ at least, not until I cancelled the convention. In retrospect I wish I had included the fans but I wanted to attain the moral high ground. 10 years on, it's not done me any good. Mostly I can ignore that part of my life, (no matter that it was such a huge part of it at the time) but there are moments when it comes back to haunt me.

Kate's crusade has reminded me of so much. I applaud her and wish her the strength to continue as long as is necessary. For all those people who don't know what is going on, there is always so much more than you will ever know. So you don't like the way things are being portrayed? Get used to it. Life is unfair, and there are as many ways to say something as there are beings on this planet. Just because you don't like what is being said and the way it is being said, doesn't mean that it is wrong. Listen with an open mind, research on your own, question and only when you have the facts in front of you, make a decision.

Take responsibility for yourself.

Be a responsible individual.

Sunday, June 20

Surprise Guest!

Surprise Guest!
Originally uploaded by purple_ebren

I know it's meant to be unlucky when a bird flies into your house, but to be honest it was more of an inconvenience for this young woodpecker than anything else. He was most indignant at being handled, and I got the woodpecker 'yak!' when I released him.

Not particularly Professor Yaffle material at all . . . (and if you don't know what I mean by that, then you need to look up Bagpuss on Wikipedia! *chuckle*)

Monday, June 14

Of Strawberries and the Seaside . . .

Tiny wild strawberry in my garden

The summer is almost here, although there are days when the sun flies away for a while and you begin to imagine you’ve imagined it all . . .

I’m getting back into the swing of hospitals, chemo and regular tests again. This time it’s weekly treatment, which means that at least one day a week is completely eaten up with waiting for pharmacy or nurses. Every department is short staffed and I’ve already had one treatment delayed for 24 hours because they didn’t have enough people available to give me the appropriate toilet cleaner (aka chemotherapy!).

Last Friday I ended up spending another afternoon at the hospital thanks to a combination of 2 hour wait for an Oncology appointment, a chest x-ray and then the scheduled MRI. All in all it was a long day, and that was on top of the usual treatment day. But, I’ve got in to the habit of wearing my fabby new earrings, putting a bit of sparkle on my face and donning my most colourful clothing whenever I have to go to the hospital. I make it an event and that way it is not the trial that it could turn in to . . .

In between days, whenever I’m not too nauseated I’ve been enjoying myself. We went to the beach for a few hours last week where Charley had a great time not going into the sea! For a water dog he is surprising disinterested in the water . . .

I was typically overdressed, complete in hat, long sleeved t-shirt and fleece, but I wasn’t as bad as the lady in the fur boots who was sitting between the bikini clad grokkles! *lol*

The previous weekend, I managed to pass my Art Clay Certification Level 1. Not I hasten to add because I want to join the teaching pyramid scheme that it seems to be, but as an add on to the Diploma in Silver Metal Clay Proficiency that I already have through the MidCornwall School of Jewellery. When I complete the 2nd level I can convert the qualification to a Higher Diploma. It’s something I have been working on over the last 4 years and I am pleased that the majority of it has been completed during this illness.

I am nothing if not determined!

But oh, the course itself was a pain. We had no input in to the projects themselves as these were set down by the Art Clay company, and to be honest I just completed the items and felt no love for any of them. Thank goodness there was no deduction of marks due to clunky rings, unpleasant brooches or naff earrings! *lol* Now that I am home, I can remake these pieces whenever I want, but please don’t expect me to publish the awful original pieces here ~ I am far too embarrassed!

And yes, that was another item in my Goddess year book. I'm achieving so many of my goals even with the burden of illness.