Fairy Wand

One of the groups I belong to on Ravelry for people with chronic illness decided we should have a fairy wand swap. The idea was to make something fun and sort of whimsical to cheer each other up and maybe have to take to doctor's appointments and hit people with.
Every one who participated got assigned a random recipient and we had some basic information about likes, dislikes, allergies, etc.
My recipient is a fan of ribbon and feathers and pink, blue, and teal.
I started with a wooden dowel cut down to size and made a marbled polymer clay handle. The handle was sealed with Mod Podge and polyurethan sealant. I painted glitter Mod Podge onto the rest of the wand and sealed it as well.
I found the rose on top in the $1 section of Michael's crafts - it was supposed to be a sort of bath poof thing. I cut off the hanging loop and glued it to the end of the wand.
I drilled a hole near the end of the wand and ran some beaded cords and various types of ribbon through, along with the pink maribou feather boa thing.
Then I made the grip decoration. I dyed some white feathers with food coloring to get the blues and teals and made some bows with more ribbon. And I made a little polymer clay brooch sort of thing and stamped it with some meaningful initials.
Amazingly, I had this done well before the due date and managed to send it off.
The recipient seems to really like it. I had a blast making it. I definitely went for the nearly ridiculous level of silly fun with it.

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Sudan gold miners vie with archaeologists for desert riches

Sudan gold miners vie with archaeologists for desert riches

We actually had a Sudani guy pan for gold with some soil samples from one of our sites.
Interesting that the gold rush is going on. I understand the concern for archaeological sites, but most of the guys who served as archaeological workmen probably realize that there usually isn't much left in the way of gold in most of the cemeteries - they were typically robbed in antiquity.
Competent excavators were finding the different colored in-fill after removing the tomb superstructures that showed exactly where ancient people were tunneling to grab valuables - usually they went right for the head/neck, sometimes near the pelvis for belts or girdles.


James Hance - Relentlessly Cheerful Art

James Hance - Relentlessly Cheerful Art

Some fabulous stuff here and the prints seem very reasonably priced. We have a few bare walls that need decorating...


First Day

I had my first day of work today after being out of work for about 2 years.  It was only about 5 1/2 hours, but I feel like a zombie. Probably the combo of lots of information to take in and having to pay attention for that long at a stretch.  And I'm tired lately anyway - I think doing my PT exercises 3 times a day is a bit too much for me.
Everyone was very nice, though, and it was good to have a fairly thorough run-through of the basics of the job.  I am fairly confident I can manage even an 8 hour shift, especially if I have a day or more of down-time in between.
I'll do a bit more training later in the week and talk about schedules, etc.  I'll be subbing for people much of the time, so I may not have a super-consistent schedule. 
Tomorrow is physical and brain therapy day.  Wooo.

And it seems the heat-wave has finally broken so I should be able to get some chores done and spend some time crafting without worrying about heat-stroke or stuff melting or felting.

Also, we established within the first hour that I'm not allowed to hit or clothesline people with my cane.  The fact that the response to that question was laughter is a very good sign.  :P



Papyrus Migraine TherapyImage via WikipediaI think I understand why people used to use it as a solution for migraine.  I'm finding the idea rather appealing myself, right now.
For unknown reasons, my migraine frequency and severity has shot up this summer.  After flipping through my calendar I realized I've had a migraine every day this week and over the weekend.  A few of them have been ones that lasted more than a day.  Others hit later in the day or afternoon after several hours of blissful normality.

This is not cool.  Worse, I'm not getting good response to my usual abortive med - Excedrin.  This is a bit complicated by the fact that I've had more arthritis pain lately for which I usually take naproxen which hangs around in the body for 8-12 hours during which you're not supposed to take another NSAID.  Suck.
I've been using an ice pack.  I've been using my Neti Pot.  I've been lying down, doing gentle stretches, trying to relax.  I've been trying to have pain-med free days so as not to trigger rebound headaches or medication overuse headaches.
I'm in the second month of trying butterbur extract as a preventative (obviously with no result).  Unfortunately, the very hot, humid summer we're having along with lots of allergens are probably what's causing the problem and those aren't exactly triggers I can avoid without moving (which would be fine except for that whole we need jobs and a place to live thing).

This is bad enough as it is, but is now a really major problem as I've gotten a part-time job that starts next week.  (Yay!)  I can't really get to, let alone do said job at times when drilling a hole in my head to let the pain/demons/cerebrospinal fluid out seems like a good idea.

Nor does this ancient Egyptian remedy of tying a clay crocodile stuffed with herbs to my head seem all that appealing.  Well, actually pressure plus heat or cold does help sometimes, but I suspect if there isn't already something in the dress code about that there would be after I showed up with one.  (Though having rules made/added as a direct result of my actions is usually entertaining.)

In the past, I was on nortriptyline, one of the tricyclic antidepressants, for depression and discovered happily that it also prevented migraines.  Unfortunately I also gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time and had some weird blood pressure issues and a few other less worrisome but mildly annoying side effects, so I switched to Cymbalta.  So today I emailed my neuro and begged for help, suggesting maybe a low dose of the nortriptyline would help prevent migraine and not interact overmuch with the Cymbalta or be as likely to cause side effects.  She got back to me and agreed to phone in an Rx.   I'll check with my psychiatrist tomorrow to be sure they have no objection and hopefully my clever plan will succeed.  It may take 1-3 weeks to really notice a difference, but that's fine.  Hopefully the combo won't tip me into serotonin syndrome or cause any other nasty problems.  At this point, the risk is worth it, especially since I know what to look for.

Failing that, I may well try to start a fashion for clay crocodiles as hipster head-wear.

Either way - job!  Should be fairly low-stress, no one I met during my interviews seemed sociopathic, the job is done when I leave and I'll be bringing in some money to help pay down some debt and other stuff.  I can do other stuff like knit while I'm there so long as it doesn't distract me too much (so, stockinette in the round) and I'm hoping I'll still have the energy to keep slowly plugging away at getting some crafts ready for sale.
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Post-Exertional Malaise in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Post-Exertional Malaise: Perception and Reality
Very interesting synthesis of some recent finding regarding fatigue, specifically "post-exertional malaise" in CFS. "Post-exterional malaise" refers to extended fatigue and general craptastic feeling after exertion - exercise, work, whatever - that lasts longer than would otherwise be considered normal. It's a very common issue for people with CFS.
The article notes that there are now some ways of actually quantifying and objectively identifying differences in PEM among patients with CFS vs. normal control groups.
There also seems to be a connection between aerobic exercise and PEM for people with CFS, which is not so much the case for people with other conditions with a large fatigue component, like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and MS.

I have a tendency to avoid aerobic activity because it's in the category of exercises that "suck; a lot" for me. I tend to have more physical discomfort and feel generally shittier after things that I consider highly "aerobic" (what I think is "aerobic" and what actually is may be different things). So, things like the Obstacle Course, Step Aerobics, Running, etc., in Wii Fit Plus or in "actual: practice tend to make me miserable. Actually, in general, anything that significantly elevates my heart rate and breathing tends to make me miserable and tire me out a lot faster. I thought that just meant I was a wuss. :P
Yoga, stretching, walking, range of motion stuff I can do for longer and tend to feel less discomfort during and after.
I may need to try paying attention to this more. It may be that I'm out of shape or it may be CFS-related.
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Elvis statue diner 1Image via Wikipedia
I woke up today with full-body tremors and Elvis-Pelvis has returned.  I've been bowing or having my lower back arch forward on and off the past hour.
Fun times.
I don't know if I over-did it yesterday or if something else is going on or what.  Joys of Functional Movement Disorder - no one can tell you why you have it, why you have symptoms, when you'll have symptoms, or really what to do about it.

Now to decide whether to deal, drink some valerian tea, or take a Klonopin.  The later two options are likely to lead to varying degrees of space-cadet-ness.  Doing nothing will just make me sore and grouchy.

On top of this, my right elbow is a mess of itchy rash and I have eczema on my palms.  Awesome.
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Happi amigurumi kokeshi

Happi amigurumi kokeshi
Originally uploaded by dustymom
I haven't featured an amigurumi in a while, but Happi caught my eye. She's part of a beautiful series of dolls with some really lovely detailing with beads and embroidery.

Be sure to check out dustymom's Etsy shop for her amigurumi.
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NAMI Walks

Wow!  Less than 24 hours and I've already hit my fund raising goal of $100.  Big thank you and kisses to my sponsors!

I had kept the goal low because I know money is tight for a lot of people right now - I was expecting $5 here and there, but some lovely friends have been wonderfully generous!

You can still sponsor or join the team!  We still have 47 days to go.


National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago Walk

Tom and I and some friends will be walking in the National Alliance on Mental Illness walk in Chicago on September 19. This is an important cause for me in particular for a lot of reasons.
One is that regular therapy over the past few years has probably been one of the most, if not the most useful treatment I've received in terms of learning to cope with becoming disabled, having chronic health conditions, dealing with the unknown and unexpected, etc., etc. I'm deeply appreciative of all the professionals who have helped me and continue to help me.

Another is that I am all too aware of the stigma associated with mental illness. I understand it to a certain degree but I don't like it. I like it even less now that if affects me personally. I want to walk to show solidarity with others who have or have had mental illnesses of any kind.

A third is that the state of mental health care, particularly access to mental health care is in many ways absolutely pitiful. Public funding has been cut in many circumstances. Some of the people who most desperately need help and support whether it be crisis intervention or long term care often have little or no access to the help they need. I have been remarkably lucky in that our health insurance covers mental health care at all and that our coverage recently removed the yearly cap on office visits. Others are not so lucky.

Here is the link to my personal walker page: http://www.nami.org/namiwalks10/GCH/shovelingferret
And here's the link for our team page: http://www.nami.org/namiwalks10/GCH/jamesgang

Any support, whether it be moral support, sponsorship in any amount, or joining our team if you're in the Chicago area will be immensely appreciated, not only by me but by all the other people your donation will help.

I'm hoping to figure out a way to stick a permanent link/gauge over on my sidebar as well...
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Evolution of the Alphabet

The Oriental Institute Museum has a regular series of special exhibits.  At the moment, the show is Pioneer to the Past about the trip of the OI's founder, James Henry Breasted through Egypt and the Middle East visiting various significant sites, many of which the OI at the time had projects exploring.

Coming this fall will be Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East.
Should be pretty cool.

My husband has been working on various behind-the-scenes stuff for the show, one of which is this awesome, awesome video showing the evolution of signs from Egyptian hieroglyphs to our own alphabet.  The link goes to the OI's Facebook page, which you should be able to view even if you aren't a member of Facebook.  There are some other sneak-peaks of the upcoming show there too.

It's both an excellent explanatory tool, but I'm also very impressed with the video in general.  Very awesome. 

I know many of you are interested in the origins of writing, etc., so I thought you'd especially enjoy this.  Even if you can't make it to Chicago for the show, I do encourage you to check out the OI Facebook presence and the website for all kinds of fun photos and videos and other snippets of info.
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Motivation - I needs some

Crater from the 1962 "Sedan" nuclear...Image via Wikipedia

I mentioned I felt like I was spinning my wheels health-wise a few days ago.  I feel like I'm spinning my wheels in general lately too.
Lots of plans and ideas, but no action on them.
I think this is partly a matter of fear - of failure, of wasted time and money experimenting (because my perfectionist self insists that "failed" experiments are wastes), of wearing myself out.
It's also an issue of TOO MUCH STUFF running around my brain.
I want to start selling crafts online. 
Do I go with Etsy or Artfire.  Or both?

I have ideas about branding and packaging and photography style and theme (an overall archaeological theme).  Do I do that stuff now or wait until I actually have an inventory of stuff to actually, you know, sell?  Also, I am intimidated by Inkscape and Scribus, etc.  I have a start on part of my planned logo, but I still have Inkscape-fear.

What about bookkeeping?  Will I go nuts with that?  I already have some excellent spreadsheet setups, but, but, numbers are the debil!

Oh, and what do I actually sell?  The overall theme here is archaeological/Egyptological inspired stuff (I'm being vague out of an additional fear that someone will steal my ideas!!!eleventy!)  :Looks around shiftily:
- Amigurumi patterns (that I need to actually make and write and layout and test and make look purty)
- Jewelry (that I need to actually make to be sure it isn't hideous because at the moment all the designs exist solely in my head and run around and mock me when I'm trying to sleep).  And do I stick with all polymer clay (with the exception of findings) or do mixed media pieces?  There's a learning curve here as well  - I haven't done much jewelry.  How much experimenting (and therefore time and money spent) am I going to need to do?
- Fascinators and hair bobbles (that won't necessarily fit with the rest of the theme, but are easy and fast and fun to make)
- Hand printed textiles?

My hands shake.  I suck at photography.  The light is bad.  I hate fiddling with stuff.  I do have awesome ideas for settings and composition though.  And a tripod.  And a husband who is a photography hobbyist.

So, in general, I look at all of the above, get overwhelmed, twitch a little and then go back to aimlessly surfing the internet and reading about nuclear weapons or UFO accounts or mid-19th Century European royalty and politics instead of doing anything productive.  I read various blog posts from various awesome people in the crafty world talking about a lot of the stuff (the crafting, not the UFOs) above, but I still do *nothing.*
It's a little bit like the classic paper-writing conundrum of getting so caught up in research that you never actually write anything.  Or getting so caught up in collecting sources you don't so much read them as acquire them.

So - how do I kick myself in the ass/brain?  And how do I do it in a way that doesn't wear me out physically or mentally?
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