24 August 2013

Beating the Demon: My Survival Story

An open letter to the amazingly creative gang on Fantastical Crafters Ravelry discussion group.

Reader Be Forewarned
This story contains mentions of demons and demon hunters. If the thought of reading about supernatural creatures or tangled skeins disturbs you, read no further for your own safety.  
If Buffy the Vampire Slayer were here, surely she would cheer on the many of us who arm 
ourselves with (knitting) needles and (crochet) hooks. 

Stick 'em with the pointy end! 

Greetings, Fantastical People!

I've been less active on this board and on Ravelry.com in general during the past year. But now, I'm Baaack! I am so happy to be here again.

I've just survived a crafter's nightmare. A Demon came and crawled into my wrists. He would not let go. I armed myself with every weapon available, and yet still he came. Every time I thought that I had vanquished him, freeing me from my chains, he came back again with a vengeance.

Every day I would get home from work and I wanted to cry because the burning, aching sensation would not stop. I would lie in bed every night with my arms throbbing and pounding. It was only after three months when the Demon's visits became unbearable, that I hauled myself off to get some medical help. Sure enough, that Demon Pain was none other than the terrible Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I battled with him daily for almost of year and a half.  

Even on the weekends I battled him.  I would begin to chase my Demon away with the help of rest and ice packs, but surely as the sun rises in the East, back he would crawl every Monday like clockwork.  

Meanwhile, my knitting needles and crochet hooks started gathering dust. (I had just learned to crochet the year before this began.) Small armies of mice asked if they could take up residence in my project bag, since I wasn't using it 'n all. My Stashweasel started complaining bitterly about my yarn pile going untouched and she moaned that she was unloved. My heart was breaking. How could I neglect such an important part of my existence? I had to destroy this vile creature, no matter what it took.

My work was suffering too. My day job involves a lot of typing. I am an archivist in charge of historic collections in high demand, so I couldn't just slack off at work to save my soul for Aran and Mohair.  While I was off battling my Demon, I wasn't very communicative online in my personal time because I was trying to avoid the pain by not typing. Occasionally, my Demon would allow me a spare moment's rest to craft something tiny. In fact, the only FO* I knitted in the past year was the item I made for our Bag of Holding Swap. Even bringing this little critter to life was precious time to me. 

To win this epic fight, I had a lot of help. For knowledge, I went to a genius chiropractor-scientist, Mr. Schwartz, who taught me the benefits of certain training exercises and a clever trick with a rubber band that worked like a charm. Demon-Pain Hunter (and massage therapist) Bobbie was often at my side, offering me support, advice, and back-up. I could not have been more fortunate than having divine interventions -- often at just the right moment -- from my Super-Wonder-Goddess acupuncturist Tracy. I am convinced that only She, with her magic needle can set my internal wiring straight after battle.

Whew! It's been a long haul. The Demon is dust, and it's rare now that I even glimpse a pixie-demon-spawn lurking. I am back, baby! I really cannot thank my medical team enough. I have finally conquered this, and learned the importance of using arm rests and buying ergonomic furniture and along the way.

I know that after reading this you might think: This sort of creature always afflicts "old" people. 
Let this be a warning to crafters reading this: I am only in my mid-Forties. There were warning signs of this Demon's presence in my life that I should have paid attention to even earlier. The twinges and creaks haunted my body during my Thirties, but I blew them off as no big deal. “I'm a tough girl. I can stand up to you, Mr. Pain,” I told myself. In fact, my very first evidence of this Demon trying to steal my handwork away was when I was typing my Master's Thesis in my mid-Twenties.

Public Service Announcement:  If you love to knit, crochet, or even just to write things out longhand, please, please learn from my mistake. 

PS. I'm happy to post what I've learned for the benefit of others, so such Demons as Carpal Tunnel will not be able to walk our streets again.

*FO = Finished Object

© Maria Day, 21 August, 2013. All rights reserved.Author's note:  This work of autobiographical satire is posted by the author for your edification and reading pleasure. Please do not reproduce, copy, or borrow portions of this story or illustrations without her express written consent. Thank you! ~runningwave~ @ Pull of the Tides management

16 August 2013

Burning Bright

“The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long.”

The work on my studio table has tended to be bright and loud, like a symphony orchestra.  

I think it's happening because I am so energetic during the heat of the year. The summer months feed me and drive me to do - do - do.  It can be exhausting, but it's always exhilarating.  I guess I am making up for my lethargy and sluggishness during the dark, winter months.

In August it's almost inevitable.  Sometimes I find myself burning my candle at both ends.  I sleep less and hop out of bed in the morning -- the opposite of what I do in, say, January when I'm cranky, tired, and in a mental torpor.

Summer is with me now. And what a summer it is! The Mid-Atlantic coast has had unbelievable dry, pleasant, and balmy weather since early July.  It hardly feels like Chesapeake weather at all.  It is so blissfully perfect. I find that this unexpected and positive mini-climate change feeds my desire to be up and making and seizing the hours.  This morning is no exception. I am up long before the sun.  I am reviewing my amazing sprint of creativity this past week.

I finished an art journaling page that is a lesson taken from my online journaling course, Life Book 2013. This exercise was created by Aimee of Artsyville, who is a wonderful woman of doodling and a color genius.  I am doing the course exercises in random order based upon whim and mood.  This one seemed right for me at the peak of my frenzy.  I used the loudest colors of stamping ink I owned and plopped them down on regular printer paper to get the brilliant background tones you see here:

Things I Can Control - art journaling page by ~runningwave~
Following Aimee's guidance I then cut out a "ground" and a bunch of smaller shapes, regular and irregular. I did some detail-work in pen on the shapes. I selected my favorites and jotted or wrote or collaged pieces onto the shapes that relate to my theme, Things I Can Control. The lock and key motives just sort of happened. The printed and stamped quotations that I discovered while making this project suited my tastes, so I adapted them to fit the pieces. Once everything was glued down nicely and dry, I went over everything with some Sakura markers. Sakura gel, glitter, and glaze pens are my new favorite art tools.

Thank you gift tag
I've also been using my talents to send gifts. The "Thank you" gift tag went to my co-workers in the tech department at the endgame of a major project and the completion of the summer internships. Those folks have been working hard and I've been a demanding customer, but I am so pleased with the results. I made sure that the tag arrived on a box of French macaroons just because they have been so extra helpful.

I am also preparing a gift - *shhhh* - for a friend of mine who'll be visiting town soon. I am not showing the gift, but I can reveal the envelope.  She's an astrophysicist and a really amazing friend. I am celebrating her success; she just received a major promotion. This accomplishment is a validation of hard work that she's been slaving over for years. It's a big deal and she should be proud of herself.  

Lesson to artists:  Never leave a white envelope un-decorated.

Envelope painting for my astrophysicist friend who just received tenure

01 August 2013

A Post from Big Sky Country

When you bring a camera out to Wyoming and Montana, it is very difficult to be a bad photographer. Still, I am grateful for my commercial photography background when I head out on a trip as spectacular as this one was. In full disclosure, my husband is the photographer of a couple of these images and even without a degree in photography he did an awesome job too!

I have been hanging on to these images for a while, trying to sort out which ones to share with you here at Pull of the Tides.

I settled on a group of images that showcase the spectacular, sweeping landscapes in the Greater Yellowstone region, as well as a sample of the striking moments when my husband and I came face-to-face with a few of the wild creatures who call this Big Sky paradise home.

You are on board "Red Devil" here, called so because his ears remind the cowboys of devil's horns.
In reality, even a total horse novice had no difficulty with riding him -- although it *was* hard to
prevent him from munching on wild grasses and flowers. Red Devil loves lupines.

I keep hearing Howard Shore's soundtrack to The Two Towers here.
Especially the part when they get to the scenes in Rohan.
It's really like this in Montana.

Sunrise at Antelope Flats.
Cascade Canyon.

Red Devil would have loved this glade. More lupines!

Ground squirrel, digging up a cache?

Fledgling woodpecker waiting for breakfast.
It's Mamma came right after this.

River otter pup swimming around Trout Lake.
We saw his mother and sibling all together.

Mr. Bison is not to be trifled with.

Our naturalist guide took us to an amazing place. We spent hours just watching the landscape, and then this lovely young lady came to visit us. She was curious, and not as flighty as I would have imagined a pronghorn being.

Hungry black bear looking for lunch.

Does Montana have rainbows every night, or were we just fortunate?

My watercolor sketch of Mount Moran.

And here's Mount Moran, as it actually looked right before sunset.