Progress Report

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Seven weeks post op, and recovery continues. I’m walking without a walker or cane, going up and down stairs, and weaning off oxycodone use. The labs monitoring my blood supply making are coming back better than expected. Last week I was cleared for conditional driving, which means I can start swimming at the community pool very close to my home. Yay and go me.

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I live just south of San Francisco, on the coast, and the smoke from the wild fire some 150 miles north has been very bad, with air quality advisories to remain indoors. This is the afternoon sun over the obscured horizon and ocean. My heart aches for the people and animals and the unimaginable losses they are enduring.

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Fortunate to be safely indoors, I am beginning to feel curious and coherent enough to make stuff again. Here is an exploration around scaling the paper succulents up to 1:6 (on the left, nope). The middle example is what would be 1:9 scale (uh, maybe) and on the right is the existing 1:12 scale (magic). It was a good exercise to get thinking again.

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I played a few iterations with a wet molding technique on the leaves, seen here with a 1:9 scale succulent, and learned a bit about the nature of cardstock. Again, nope.

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Scarlett found her soulmate in my husband’s studio.

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And then the factory second conservatory kit(s) arrived. Even though I have no room.

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Scarlett at least approves.

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The front half in dry fit. (Keli helped solve a critical assumption error I had made on the roof.) I have spent the last two weeks or so happily researching, ideating, sketching and going through my considerably disorganized collections of accessories, materials and building components. My biggest challenge now is to get some work surfaces clear in the studio so I don’t have to work on my bed any more.

Unexpected Circumstances

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What happened was not anyone’s fault. It was not because of what the surgery team, or the hospital, or Mercury — or I — did or did not do. It was more just a clusterfuck of normal, acceptable and carefully calculated risks gone awry. Two weeks post-surgery, I ended up back in the hospital, via the emergency room. (I got some new bracelets and a gown, a mid-century scratch print in pale blue, gray and teal.)

Here I was earlier on that day, patiently healing away, legs elevated to combat the cartoon-like swelling in my feet and legs, memory foam pillow held over my stomach with just the right amount of pressure to ease the mild, persistent nausea, likewise, ice pack on brow to numb the headache.

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Unfortunately, inside my body was bleeding inappropriately, unknown to us. I was feeling increasingly crummy — a new kind of crummy — and short of breath, and very pale. Fortunately, my daughter, a nurse practitioner, was with me that day and recognized that something was seriously wrong. She coordinated with my doctors and we hied ourselves to the ER.

I wound up losing half of my blood volume and developed severe anemia —though it took eight hours of testing in the ER and two more days of various hospital tests to arrive at this diagnosis, and to rule out all others.

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I was sad and frightened and angry and very uncomfortable that long first night, and Wheelie came out to keep me company. Also the hospital had shitty wifi.

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After ruling out embolisms, transfusing two units of blood, determining the internal bleeding had likely stopped, that my shortness of breath was getting longer, that there had been no damage done to my heart when it was trying to maintain me with half a blood supply, and that all other systems were, um, regular, I was released back out into the world.

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I don’t think home has ever looked so welcome.

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The Other Side

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Greetings from the other side! All the things went, and are going, very well. I took this silly hair picture to make Maddie laugh, and to feel connected. It’s a big ol’ dose of reality. I’m sharing it here to illustrate the relief I feel, but also because I look like a vampire. Between the old reconstruction surgery scar on one side of my dangerous smile, and the mildly different set of the recent tooth implant on the other, there could totally be fangs in there. I am also taking a lot of prescribed medications, as one might expect after getting all of one’s hips replaced. And the reflections in my glasses is very 2001. May I come in, Hal? <Ed. note: check were there vampires in 2001>

The photo order is going backwards in time, and there will be NO medically graphic images or details. There may be no order in the photos at all, because it doesn’t even really matter. Everyone skims. And I only spent two nights in the hospital anyway.

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Downstairs in the Surgery Waiting Lounge (Pre- PreOp) — one of the circles of heck. The first bracelet and assimilation codes. And a hair tie to fiddle with endlessly.

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The curtains of Bay 32 in PreOp. There were very many conversations going on in all directions and dimensions. I had a good long while to study these curtains, trying not to hear the very many conversations and the carting of things covered in sheets.

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I got a soft new gown in a muted foulard, and more bracelets. Then came the long procedural afternoon. Everyone on the surgery team was witty, attractive and kind. Some of the best moments came toward the end, waking from the anesthesia (a spinal epidural) in an ecstatic dream. Brian and I were in our house, only there were no floors, just expanses of bright clouds and blue skies. Because of the no floors, we had to fly everywhere. And we did, flitting and soaring like birds, holding hands, and you know how great it is to fly in your dreams! The feeling has stayed with me.

The hospital is on a hill in already hilly San Francisco; I had a private corner room with lots of windows and views of the Bay and a eucalyptus grove. There was also this pole — a cross between a mechanical droid and a bird feeder — that held mobile machines, miles (kilometers) of tubes, and bags and canisters of fluids and secret spices, to which I was kept very attached.

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Comfortable and accommodating as it was, I was so stoked to qualify for early release from the hospital. I had to pass a series of suitability tests, including fitness, stamina, answering odd questions, and spelling “world” backwards. Everyone was proud and congratulatory. And then Brian got me the hell out of there.

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I set up my well-stocked MedBay in and around the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set — and this is not all of it — mostly because it is amusing. I should put googly eyes on them :)

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First breakfast at home with my new hips.

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Of course because all pets are strictly and for very good reasons forbidden from being on or near the Recuperator’s bed, the cats are constantly skulking up here.

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You can probably guess who the most egregious is.

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But she is also far lighter in weight than Albie, so…  …all I really know is that I’m very happy be home, with a clear path and help for recovery. The road has risen with me :)=

 

Z: Eyes on the Prize

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Z is for eyezzz on the prizzze.

You can take a hundred pictures of the same thing, as I do, and five of them might be true. Living on the edge of a continent facing due west, with a view of the horizon, I find joy in this vista every single day. This is the prize.

This also concludes my ABChallenge, with a final nod to Dr Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra —one of the most personally influential books I’ve ever read. (I wrote about it here.)

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Speaking of prizes, here is the official, distinguished Certificate of Distinction for you poets to download and laminate and proudly display. Fond regards for all who haiku’d their X hip hardware puzzle answers.

This is meaningful
Hope I spelled all the words right
And that you like fish

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Keli sent these giant pill capsule highlighters, which still make me laugh. The only thing better than miniatures are giant things.

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Scarlett finds it comfortably convenient that we got a new 3-inch thick memory foam topper for the downstairs guest bed, which is where I’ll be recuperating for the next few weeks after tomorrow’s surgery. I am so ready to do this thing.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the other side.

 

 

 

Y: Yikes

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Y is totally for Yikes! The answer to the previous X question: This is a model of the hip replacement gizmos that will be used in my upcoming procedure. Thank you for all your responses. I hope you’ve made a new friend in expression with haiku. Certificates of Distinctions available soonly.

There are three parts to the contraption: the long lower knife/cane/golf club grip that fits into my femur, a dense plastic faux cartilage, and the round pelvis-nested salad bowl.

(And yes, I was the only one at the surgery preparation class that was so awed as to take photos of these amazing devices.)

What I love the most is the coral reef/spaghetti-like parts to which my actual living bones will meld/grow into. I’ll pause here, and let you read that sentence again…
It’s all made of titanium, and yes, I will set off metal detectors.

So Y is also for Yes?

Yes, I’ll be needing to close down MMS+S for a few weeks while all the magic (and pain medication) happens, so if you’re thinking about ordering a kit or two, please do so in the next few days.

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Yes, I’ve not been getting out much, but reading a lot and appreciating the many comforts of home. This is a late-night surprise encounter of Albie (and his debris field), stretched out on the (unmade) single bed in the sun room.

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And Yes, yes, wily Scarlett. As poet David Whyte suggests,

Turn sideways into the light as they say
the old ones did and disappear
into the originality of it all.

(From “Tobar Phadraic”, one of my many favorites from him.)

Yes. Yes. Yikes.

X: Unknown

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X is for the unknown. Here is a thing. Do you know what it is?

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This is a closeup of part of the surface. Because it is amazing. And I really want to finish up my #ABChallenge with quality content before the end of the month.

Leave your answers in the comments. Anyone who posts in haiku format (5/7/5) earns A Certificate of Distinction. Puzzling begins *NOW*.

W: Weaving, Waxing, Waning

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W is for weaving. I’ve been playing with hand-tinting the looms of the round basket kits in spectral and hombré shades. I started with black weavers and rims, then went to a medium warm gray. After a few baskets, I thought the offcuts would make good banners or samples of the colorways, and then the idea was born for the Basket Circus + Exposition.

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Many thanks to Keli for participating in the totally legitimate focus group which determined this name.

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What a difference between black and gray for the contrast. I love them both.

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We’re getting to the glorious sunset colors time of year here in foggy-summer Pacifica. I remain in awe. Nature, you know she don’t mess around.

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Albie joined me a short time later on the front deck. This picture is significant because it answers the question, “What phase is the moon in?” Each September, my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our marriage on the full moon. This year, it seems we have 10 or so days to go. (Hope we remember.)

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And finally — as if you’ve ever doubted — here is proof that cats can defy gravity. Even when they’re sleeping.

V: Vagary

V is for Vagary. Fluctuation, variation, quirk, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, unpredictability, caprice, foible, whim, whimsy, fancy.

I can’t think of a better word, or set of synonyms, to describe the new 1:12 scale echeveria kit available now over at MMS+S. There are no fewer than five leaf sizes and shapes that combine to make three sizes of a charming pointy-leaf echeveria. I’ve redesigned the build method, too, to start on a fine paper-wrapped stem wire (included in the kit), which is perfect for armatures (gnarly-armed structures) and general ease of shaping the plants.

Here is a bushel basket of prototypes, using both of the base colors — white or apple green — colored with alcohol-based markers. (If you want true reds and yellows — or blues and purples — order the white stock. If you’re good with more muted tones and want to spend less time coloring, choose the green :)

Possibilities of color combinations are endless (and fun).

This is a versatile kit, and a form to make a succulent wreath is available soon!

Let Scarlett’s tail and rabbit feet, seen here in complete repose, be your inspiration.

I recently re-found this unfinished Henri Rousseau-inspired collage panel, and glued it to the side back of the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set.

The MMS+S set is in disarray, like many aspects of my life, but potentially still functional.

Zoom out now, please, to 1:1. The former owners of our house built this charming, funky wave-topped gate (seen here from the back). But, inexplicably, they painted the front of it the same dispirited brown as the rest of the decks, and completely ignored the back. For four years, it has *nagged* at me.

Yay go me. Here it is finished in four shades, by the light of the silvery security beacon.

Albie and I survey the change. You can just see that sad brown deck color peeking out under cat and mat.

This is the old hardware, atop the treacherous birdbath pedestel, for those of you/us interested in these things.

And finally. Keli and I have been challenging ourselves to … not let the bastards drag you down draw a random thing and post it on Instagram, until, for each of us, momentous events transpire. (For me, that’s undergoing replacement surgery of both hips, on 01 October, 2018.) I have chosen Crayola and ink as my drawing medium. We are #messy_k_enge and #curlymuenich, if you care to follow along (+also under our regular names @iseecerulean and @nancy_k_enge). We are expecting phat coffee table art book publishing contracts to swamp our respective agents.

How could they not?

 

U: Until

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U is for Until I Can Press Publish Again. It has also been for Unaccomplished: unfinished, unconcluded, undone, ugh. Unpleasant, as in occurrences and diagnoses. Understanding, as in where has my mojo gone? Oh.

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This is a first order Fresnel lens from the Pigeon Point lighthouse, just south of Pescadero, California.

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Here is 5-year-old Maddie Lou, draped in Kylo Ren’s leather cape and light saber, at Lucasfilm in the Presidio.

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Wheelie and I enjoying a sublime egg salad breakfast sandwich, on freshly baked sourdough in Pescadero.

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There is a new kit of pointy-leaf echeverias over at MMS+S. It might be the best ever. Check it out.

 

T: Thoughts, Things

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T is for Tobin’s Tunnel. Yesterday, it was clear and sunny. B and I walked out to Mussel Rock at low tide, and came upon the remains of Tobin’s tunnel. It was first blasted out in 1874 so the landowner could enjoy scenic carriage rides along the beach without having to detour around the headlands. Very soon the tides, winter storms, and finally, the 1906 earthquake made other arrangements of the work. This is the only section that remains. (NOTE: The geologic and social history of this area is truly fascinating; I recommend a google dive. The best is Shawn Heiser’s SFSU thesis, Living on the Edge: Environmental History at Mussel Rock, 2010.)

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T is for triptych. The view looking west, over the ocean. That’s Mussel Rock on the right, with the wooden posts sticking up, and old highway riprap, which forms part of the seawall, in the lower right. The San Andreas fault line is directly underneath us.

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T is for trails. The network of trails leading down to the beach — when there is one — are the remains of the old Ocean Shore Railroad (abandoned in 1920), and the Ocean Shore Highway (bypass over the headlands completed in 1957).

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T is for thread. I am eagerly awaiting the San Francisco pattern I ordered from Haptic Labs to hand-stitch a small quilt. Serious goodness in this shop. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say when it arrives.

T is for thought. I can’t say I’m fond of this particular enamel pin, but the copy that accompanies it struck a chord:

“Handmade is as much a path as it is a product, an ethos that creeps into every aspect of life. When we make things for ourselves, we take a singular pleasure and satisfaction from every use, sure of its provenance and intention. The creations of our hands become the warp and weft of our days, until life becomes a tightly woven tapestry inspiring us with purpose and pride.”

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T is for tea. Fermented kombucha in this instance. My daughter gave me a book of recipes and a large Weck jar at my birthday. This is my first batch, brewed with Yorkshire Gold — a two-week-process in my chilly kitchen — bottled for second fermentation. That’s Meyer lemon + ginger in the Weck, and ruby grapefruit in the cute recycled bottles. Yum and Salute!