It Doesn't Get Any Better!!

The Queen, Diva-in-Training and Best Friend at lunch after Diva-in-Training's kindergarten graduation

Sometimes things happen and we can't explain them. In my case this is usually not good news. For some reason my life follows Murphy's Law - anything that can go wrong, will. I don't want it like that - and I've even joined a Yahoo! group a friend of mine runs in hopes of changing my thought patterns.

If you've followed my blog (and really, who hasn't??) you know that best friend has been in a coma since last August. (For more on that, click on the title of this entry and it will link you to past entries about this subject.) She's been very ill and I had kind of accepted that this was it. Her condition forced me to admit I probably wouldn't get to see her again - and I know this has contributed largely to my depression. She is absolutely my best friend - there are so many times I don't know what I would have done without her. She's amazing...and I hope everyone has one friend like her at some point in life. She is the kind of friend whose presence changes your life for the better.

I haven't written about her in a long time - mostly because the details of what was going on were personal and I wasn't comfortable sharing them in this forum. I've stayed in contact with her doctor and he's kept me up-to-date on her condition. I knew she had made small steps of progress over the last few months - but I was carefully optimistic. I tried very hard to balance my enthusiasm with reality. However, my heart couldn't help but jump every time I heard she'd done something the doctors said she would never do again.

Well...I got online this morning to check email and saw a note from her doctor. This isn't surprising in itself - we communicate as often as his hectic schedule will allow. But this was different - the subject of the email? "Good News". I couldn't get the computer to open that email fast enough.

Are you ready for this?? Best friend has begun breathing on her own and will be moved out of ICU today. YES, TODAY. Those are all the details his email contained - but I'll take what I can get! Of course I quickly wrote him back begging for more information - can I call her? Will she be returning "home" (to our city)? When do I get to talk to her??

I can't tell you what good news this is! This is AWESOME! I can't believe it. I'm actually speechless - which never happens!

I was originally going to post about a new technique I invented last night - but wasn't going to give details away about it until I could play with it a little more today and then post pictures with my new methodology. The invention of a new technique seems very...bland! comparison with the news I got though. So I've done a "double" post - the celebration of best friend's incredible progress AND the announcement of a new technique. WOW! What a day!

The Sick-o's Have Taken My Sanity

I originally started this blog with the intention of only writing about my art. Well that didn't last long! I guess just keeping it about art wouldn't be my *style* - but throwing everything into a discombobulated pile suits me much better. So here we sit.

I'm stuck in bed today. Not by choice - but because my 10 year old is sick. 103* fever sick. The good news is that my oldest son is feeling better - so I've booted him off the couch and into the shower. (Thank gawd!) He had almost become permanently attached to the couch - thankfully I forced him into the shower before that happened. Although I caught it early, I'm still pretty sure my couch will never be the same again.

Poor childebeast. He's going away on his 5th grade trip next week - which is a rite of passage. Since I went to the same elementary school my kids attend, I remember that trip well. When I was a student there the school went to sixth grade - so we went in sixth. Seeing how fast these kids grow up now, fifth grade seems appropriate...I guess. He's never been away from home this long - and I'm a little nervous. I know he'll have a great time - and he doesn't seem concerned about it at all. Wish mama could say the same. What is it with things like that? You want to strangle them (or at least tape their mouths shut) when they're home...but when they leave, a piece of your heart goes with them. Oh well. I'm sure I can *force* myself to get over it and enjoy four nights of having only two childebeasts at home. It'll be tough...but I'll try.

I've decided that as adults, you make friends in the oddest of places. It's easy to make/keep friends when your a kid - school guarantees you'll be surrounded with peers...whether you like them or not. I suppose work fulfills the same purpose when we're adults - we're surrounded by people we may/may not like. This social interaction provides us with the chance to make friends. What happens when you don't work though? Or you work with mind-numbing idiots and derelicts? (No - I've never had a job like that. Just for the record.)

I haven't worked outside of the home in eleven-and-a-half long years. Which means I've spent most of that time with little people. Childebeasts. Which is all fine and good - especially if you're one of those amazing people who always wanted to be a parent and can't imagine not having them. It's also good if you have a low threshold for mental stimulation. Unfortunately, I'm don't meet either criteria. Not even a little. That's not to say I don't love my kids - I do. With all my heart. But do they drive me absolutely insane? Yes. They've absorbed every brain cell I used to have - without even saying "thank you". Like it isn't enough they call me "mom" when we're in public.

So I've been left to make friends in other ways. One of my favorite ways - or at least the most convenient - is online. I don't know what people did before this computer thang cam along. They probably had to actually get all made up and go into the world and...ack...socialize. The horror! Does that mean that people with childebeasts like mine just didn't leave the house - therefore accepting they'd never have friends? I know I choose to stay home a lot of the time because I just don't have the patience or cajones to take my offspring out in public. I guess some of my reluctance to take the 'beasts out in public is also due to my annoyance with other parents. You know the ones - the people who look at you like you have five heads just because your child is throwing things and screaming. (Not that I find this behavior acceptable - or tolerable. But isn't this what happens when you take small people out to the local WalMart? Or is it just mine??) I have grown tired of the looks I get - and of the comments people make "under their breath" - which is a stupid term. If they made these comments "under their breath", would I hear them? I think not. My observation has been that the more expensive the store we're in, the more intolerable adults are within earshot, or the more I threaten my children that they'd better behave, prior to embarking on an outing...the worse they behave.

So I don't chance it anymore than I absolutely have to. Instead I prefer to stay at home and put up with their astonishing antics by myself. Which leaves me pretty isolated. Without the computer, how would I meet the incredible people I have? Not to mention that having childebeasts means you have absolutely no money - so my life would be void of the color my friends in far-away places weave into my life.

All of this is the result of the seemingly endless support my online friends give to me. The laughs they bring to my days. The way they relate their own experiences to me - especially on the days when they are living lives parallel to mine. What would I do without these people? Without their support? Without their humor?

If I didn't have these phenomenal people in my live - even if their presence only exists in the cable line that runs into my house - my childebeasts would certainly have driven me to a padded cell by now. With no return ticket. Laughing all the way.

It was a long way around...but I owe a huge thank you to all my Internet friends. Without your humor and love I would have flown this coup a long time ago. A local friend of mine actually moved - and left no forwarding address - when her last child turned 18. I doubt I would have made it til my last one turns 18. Or I would have become the town drunk...which would have been quite the accomplishment in a town this size. I'm incredibly blessed to have these kinds of people enriching my life - and I know that even though I'm completely broke, my life will always be rich with friends like I have. I love you all!

And that's about as much as poetic waxing as I can take for one day. ;)

How Life & Art Correlate

So I've been thinking. It's almost 1:00 and I've gotten absolutely nothing done today. Why? I've been addicted to checking out everything online. You know the days I'm talking about...where you go to look at one thing and that thing leads to something else, which links to another neat site, bringing you to a (totally unrelated) fun spot...

I suppose I'm desperately trying to keep from organizing my studio and clean the house. The oldest son is home sick for the second day in a row - and is flopped out on the couch downstairs. I'm avoiding the area like the plague - do you have any idea how much it sucks to take care of childebeasts when you're horking? Just the thought makes me shiver.

I've been giving some thought to how my life correlates to my art. I've been stuck in this space of not being able to get the studio organized (if people would stop posting cool stuff online I'd probably be a lot further!) - but I've been really trying to spend at least 15-20 min a day sorting through supplies and getting things put away. I'm so frustrated by the process - no matter how much time I spend on things, I have heaps of supplies left to go through. I swear I could open a store...but that would mean parting with my awesome supplies. This probably won't happen - unless someone wants to trade for even better supplies!

I was reading a post in a group I belong to and it finally hit me - I'm not into organizing because I'm not taking the time to create! There is so much going on in my life right now that I should be taking time to take a break and create. But I haven't done that in...waaay too long. There's the problem. Me thinks I shall ban all ex-husbands, childebeasts & extended family and just have an art fest. That may do wonders for my dwindling attitude.

A good friend of mine (Judi) has a blog with tons of her art posted. She does some really neat things with just basic materials - stuff I've definitely got in the royal stash. (But really - is there anything I don't have??) I've been drooling over her art since we met and I really want to try some of her innovative techniques. I think that's what I'll spend tonight doing...assuming the childebeasts zonk out and aren't being demanding. (Bahahaha - that's funny.)

I'd also like to make some of the things that Susan lists on her blog - it's just too bad I'm not Queen of the Kitchen. I hate to cook. Love to eat but hate to cook. It just seems like a total waste of time - whatever you spend hours creating ends up gone. I just can't get that strawberry shortcake out of my head. The recipe looks so good that I've decided I'm going to actually do it.

Hmmmm Maybe that's my problem...I need a wife! Oh wait - I think that's what the Kingdom expects out of me. Being the Queen means I don't have to follow the rules though - and a wife would certainly make my life easier.

This post has absolutely no point - I'm just not in a chatty, creative space today. Maybe I should just continue my quest to find the end of the Internet today. I think I'm well on my way.

A Trinket Box & Fun Trunk

It's amazing what you find when you organize. I came across some more things I made over the last few months and thought I'd post them here.

The first one I'll post is the "fun trunk" I made for my daughter, the Diva-in-Training. It took me a long time to make the trunk because the paper mache base is covered in handmade paper - in pink, of course. The "straps" are covered in purple paper pulp. I had a terrible time getting the paper pulp to stick - and looking back, I probably should have roughed-up the surface with sand paper.

There are tons of little embellishments all over the trunk. I can't list them all and unfortunately the pictures aren't accurate representations. I hope you are able to at least get an idea of what they look like. The purpose of the trunk is for Diva-in-Training to have a special place to put her "treasures". Of course, because it took me so long and was so difficult I won't let her touch it now - maybe I'll give it to her when she's a little older.

I also found a small trinket box I made. It is also a paper mache base covered in handmade ivory paper. I mixed in some gold flakes while I was making the paper pulp - but the flakes seemed to disappear into the pulp. I ended up adding individual flakes randomly around the box. This box also has those sticky beads adhered to the top, gold ribbon and bells hanging from the upper lip of the box and different colors/shapes of rhinestones adhered in a flower pattern. I carefully used the sticky beads in gold to cover the sides of the flip-top lid and to make a border around the bottom.

On A Roll...and Everything Else!

When your space is such a mess, it's hard to move without being on something. The title for this entry comes from being on a roll for posting so much lately...but also because when your house or studio or whatever is such a mess, you just might be on a roll - a dinner roll, that is - and who knows what else! my art supplies have gotten completely out of control. That's why I've been so stressed about getting my studio together. After reading about the struggles other people have with organizing their supplies, I know I'm not alone. I also know I'm not the only one embarrassed because of the mess. So I decided to do something brave. Something bold. Something outrageous.

I'm going to post a few "before" pictures. Hopefully this will lend comfort to other artists who feel like they are drowning and will never get it all together - and possibly provide some comic relief! I know that looking back at these pictures makes me realize just how much I've gotten done - a major accomplishment since I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. Be sure to check a couple of entries back - you'll get to see the work I've done. And I'm nowhere even close to being finished!!

So those of you who are stuck in the never-ending cycle of trying to organize all your supplies, take heart. Even the Queen struggles wildly with this issue!

The Creative Bug

Like I was talking about in my last post, I came across two things I'd done lately but hadn't posted. Since I took the pictures in the middle of the night they are terrible...but hey. I can't be perfect all the time. ;)

This is a small box I bought unfinished. I got it at Hobby Lobby for $2.00! The knob from the middle drawer was knocked off - but it was still with the box. I painted that also - I just haven't attached it yet. It's hard to tell, the box is navy blue and I doodled dotted swirls with teal paint around the sides and back. The top rim has more doodles in teal, yellow, pink, purple and silver, with the inside of the top decoupaged with torn denim-colored paper.

The top portion of the box is a little dotted floral border; the top drawer is purple with flowers painted on the right side; the middle drawer is pink with coordinating dots; the bottom drawer is yellow with a different dotted pattern; and the bottom support of the box is squiggled and dotted with the same paints. The knobs are painted teal with different designs on them. This will be a great little storage box for my desk - perfect for ephemera, loose beads and odds-&-ends.

This is a picture I painted on foam core board. It actually goes lengthwise - imagine it flipped 1/4 turn counter-clockwise. I couldn't edit it that way because it cut the top of the painting off. I call it "Dreamy"'s an abstract woman. (Again, imagine it!) I had a lot of fun painting this - it only took me a few minutes and I used liquid acrylics. Once it was dry I took a black Sharpie and doodled swirls, flowers, dots and various geometric patterns all over it. It's finished with glossy acrylic medium. It's really fun in person - I wish the picture captured the shine and details better.

Sleepless Nights

Unlike the Diva-in-Training...

Unlike "Baby Sissy"...

Unlike Sweet Pea & Princess...

I cannot sleep.

It's frustrating not being able to sleep. Especially when you were busy the previous day and know you have to be busy the next day.

I don't sleep well. It's a fact. I haven't slept well in about 11 years and 8 months. The last time I slept well was before I was injured at work. Ever since then, to varying degrees, the pain has either kept me from going to sleep or - more often - wakes me up in the middle of the night. I've tried various prescription medications in an attempt to override the pain and knock me out. The problem is taking medication like that - although it allows me to finally sleep - throws me into a deep sleep. I don't wake up for the kids. I can't wake up in the morning. I feel groggy all the next day. It is because of these problems with the medication that I've opted not to take any sleep aides. There is a trade-off - not taking the medication means the pain keeps me awake. I go through these cycles - trying to sleep, finally dropping off for an hour or two, waking up because of my back and legs, trying to get the pain to go away. This continues until my body finally conks out. It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing - when my body has finally had enough, it simply shuts down. I've been known to fall asleep in the middle of conversations, movies, while at the park with the childebeasts. Embarrassing!

The up side to all of this? I've learned I need to do
something when I'm awake. Laying in bed only allows me to focus on the pain, making the pain seem even worse. Trying to get my mind off of it by involving myself in different activities seems to help. It's a catch-22. I can't do anything physical because of the pain - but I can't lay still either. So I've taken to spending these long nights, when everyone else in the country is sleeping, to work on my creativity. Playing with art is the only thing I can lose myself in. Which is why I'm posting this.

I had worked on these two projects a little while ago - but hadn't posted them. I hadn't realized that until I was looking at the painting I did - at 1:45 in the morning - trying to decide where to hang it in my developing studio. I'm going to post both projects in the next post...I just wanted to give a little background into why I'm posting things in the middle of the night!

A Little Progress

As promised, I took a few pictures of my never-to-be-finished studio. Believe it or not, I've actually accomplished A LOT. Unfortunately, several of the pictures I took are stuck on my camera. They didn't transfer to the memory card - and the childebeasts lost the cable I need to connect the camera to the computer. Never fear, I still have a few very sorry pictures to show you.

Even though there's a bunch of junk in the pictures, this is the armoire that houses my ribbon collection. Yes, I have that much ribbon. On top is the mail sorter that keeps my card stock safe and away from childebeasts. My overflowing paint caddy is on the floor - it's for liquid acrylics. (I think I need 3 more and I'll have places for the paints...but I don't have room for the caddies!)

If you could only seen where I started...but thankfully I can't find those pictures. (I admit I haven't looked real hard!) But believe me - this IS an improvement. A large one. I've had the pegboard hanging for awhile now - but nothing was on it. I added a bunch of stuff (that still needs to be organized) so at least it's off the floor & I won't keep tripping on it. I also got the shelves hung that I made for my rubber stamps. The problem now? I don't think I made nearly enough - so I don't really know what to do with the rest of my stamps. Most of them are mounted, which takes up a lot of space. We'll see what happens when I get further along.

(The rod hanging in front of the shelves used to hold a photo montage I had hanging - now it will hold paper that's drying and finished artwork.)
I made the stamp shelves out of foam core board and a glue gun. Once the foam core was cut down and adhered to another piece of foam core to form the shelves, I decoupaged torn paper to a piece of poster board. Once dry, I doodled in black Sharpie and then cut the poster board into strips. I stuck the strips to the fronts of the shelves - this covered the ugly foam core board cuts and keeps the rubber stamps from accidentally falling off.

As for the pegboard, I went a little doodle crazy on one (with help from the childebeasts) and just painted the other.

I still have so much work to do - you can see the sloppiness in the pictures. I didn't take pictures of the floor on purpose. I painted 4 shelves that I still need to hang - and I think that will take care of a lot of my storage problems. I've still got a long way to go - so if anyone is free...
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