Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Figs, and why I can't believe I'll see her again.

Please don't read this post if you're down.

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Today is Figgy's anniversary. I had to let her go 4 years ago today, because of a vicious cancer. We had the tumour removed twice, but it came back faster and faster each time. Once I had decided that I couldn't go on putting her through more removals, we had just a small operation to reduce the tumour, then hang on, hoping that she would get one more summer, as she loved being out in the sun so much.

Figs loved to climb up the stepladder so in the end, we put it up especially for her, in the back garden. Sometimes she'd be running up it before we'd put it up properly!

This last week of hers, the summer finally arrived. She spent it mostly in the garden, in the sun, or lounging between flowerbeds. By the end of the week I spotted -to my horror- that the tumour had suddenly got worse. I rang the vet; the next morning was goodbye. Couldn't bear to let her go through any more, not once I'd seen that it had worsened.

Fluffy wants out, Figs wants in! I can't remember who linched whom!

I sometimes berate myself that I was selfish, and that I should have let her go earlier. I know some people feel guilty about the euthanasia part, but I don't, because I think it's kinder not to let her go through actually dying of cancer. What I twist myself up in knots about is whether she was in pain that last week. She was slower, not interested in playing. I wish I had been braver.
Figs and me, 2003

I still can't think about her without getting upset. I was crying in the night, once I remembered what day it now was. I've lost other pets, other cats, but never had the pain of loss last so long afterwards. Belly-up in the sun. She flipped to this position a lot.
She would let me cuddle her tummy, and even blow raspberries on it!!!!

I wonder if the grief is lasting longer simply because my mother made me bury her while she was still warm, whereas I just wanted to stroke her, watch her. I know she was thinking of Figgy's sibling cats, Fluffy and Scooter, and was concerned that they not get upset. But I thought of that too, and wanted to put Figs in her box and put her in the shed for an hour, alone, "resting".
Figs had a 'baggy belly'. She wasn't fat, but it wobbled as though she had had kittens, but she never had. Here she is displaying said belly, as well as her wallpaper art.

I reluctantly agreed to bury her straight away. I was in no fit state to argue and didn't want the other cats to detect my being upset.

And so there she lays: in mum's back garden, alongside Mama Cat who preceded her by 2 years (also because of cancer). I planted carnations, sweet pinks, on her spot. I brought some home to my garden at the time and they came into flower again last week.

Figs giving her mum, Snowy-Mama-Cat, a wash.

I struggle with the subject of mum moving house, as I have nightmarish visions of someone digging up my cats. Some sicko playing with whatever is left of them. Or just throwing them on the bonfire.

I just want her back. Just want to hold her again and hear her chortle.
By far the worst thing about living without religion or spirituality is the glaring end that it means death is. The ultimate comfort would be to believe that I could hold her again one day. Please don't be offended if you still hold that faith. But I can't. When your medication has proven to you that things, sensations, horrible feelings, disturbing sounds, whispers, all these that you thought were real, were in fact hallucinations, it is terribly hard to believe in things, even if you can hear and see them, let alone the invisible.

And impossible, I've found, to believe that any feeling or experience that could once have been described as 'spiritual' isn't just another product of an ill mind. Those old feelings of being watched, or of living with hauntings, these were 'spiritual' too, but proved to be false.

When what you've seen with your own eyes and heard with your own ears for decades is proven to not exist, how can what you might sense as 'spiritual' be trusted not to be false also? See what I mean? What I used to call "God's presence" I now think of as my frontal lobe.

-I don't mean any of that to sound arrogant, or like I'm refusing to believe, stubbornly, with folded arms. I used to have a deep faith. Speaking in tongues and the whole shabang. I even spent a year in a convent. So I didn't just lose a Sunday morning habit, I lost a lot. I just can't trust any of it to be true any more, not after what I've experienced with my mad head.

And so I'm left with endings. Friends, human or otherwise, gone.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

My sister

I've mentioned my sister, Christina, from time to time. She emigrated to Australia in 1996 and works in computer animation there. She's 4 years older than me, and was always brilliant at art at school. I remember, when just 14, she drew a big picture of horses running through water. It was perfect- and she did the whole thing in biro! No room for false strokes there!

This cat portrait is her latest. She emailed this to me today and said she did it when she was bored because she remembered that I "strangely like cats". She has offered me the original- it measures 24 inches x 24 inches. YES! YES PLEASE!!

I wish I were as good! Practice, I suppose. But I do feel that it runs in the family from the top down- she's the eldest so she got the biggest dose, then it diluted on it's way down to me!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Robin watching.

Our garden isn't huge but I'd be lost without it. There's nothing like watching the birds here to give me a wee lift. Nature is like a free tranquilizer.

I love the dawn chorus, too. I'm usually still awake then, and it helps soothe me to sleep, helps shut my brain down and stop it racing. Last night, I heard the first bird at 2.44am. That's early, even for a blackbird!

Let me introduce you to Newton, my regular visitor and friend. I call him Newton after a teacher I had in Primary School, Mrs Newton, who usually had her head leaning over on one side. He's quite tame (which is more than can be said for Mrs Newton). I've almost got him feeding from my hand. Almost. He comes up to about a foot or so away from me, then I give in and put the food on the ground for him. I can't bear to tease him.

At this point in my spying, a second robin came to have a bath. Friend or foe? I wondered....

Then Newton came down to eat... hadn't he seen the other one on his territory?
He took the food to her!Newton has a girlfriend!!!!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Cards from Australia :)

I'm doing a "Seasons" card swap with Feronia and hers arrived this morning:

"Spring" and "Summer"....

..."Autumn" & "Winter".

Aren't they great?

I really like the paper she's used on the Spring and Autumn cards. I think this is Japanese paper, or "Washi". It's a lovely, pliable paper with deep gold embossing. It's often used in origami, but in Japanese papercrafts it's used to make 'quilted' cards, where squares of it are wrapped round pieces of foam and mounted into a pattern on the card to make a 'quilt'...I'll have to get mine finished pronto! I won't show them here till she's got them.

Meanwhile, here's a "Thank you" card I made for Sharon Duncan, re. the prize she sent me. I used Tim Holtz Distress Inkpads, which I'd bought in a sale a while ago and never got round to using much. These ones are Vintage Photo (edges) and Antique Linen (background).It was nice to make my own design and background etc. I must do more of that.

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Today is officially the longest day. Sunsets get earlier and earlier after today. Poo. I prefer the first half of the year, when all the summer is up ahead, all to look forward to, nights drawing out longer and longer. This solstice sort of feels like the hump of a hill; downhill from here, tumbling towards winter. Isn't it daft to think like that? I'm trying to push such hunches away and tell myself that this is the beginning of summer, not the end!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A birthday card - & my prize arrived!!!

Remember I said I'd won a Photo Caption Competition with Sharon Duncan Crafts?
Well, my prize arrived: 3 sets of stamps and 2 ink pads. I was completely stunned! I never expected so much!
Now I need to get to work on a wee Thank You card....

Meanwhile, in the evenings, I have been colouring some more stamped images and putting them into a box, to be made up into cards or tags at another time. I like the birds on this one...
This next one developed into a birthday card for someone, although her birthday isn't till 15th July. I'm sure there are others that need doing before then, but never mind!
I'm enjoying water-colouring. I'd used water-colour pencils for so long I'd forgotten what it was like to use the actual paints. It's very relaxing.

I also cut out and sewed some paper hearts whilst watching CSI :) .....
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Head Stuff

I had a heavy session at Art Therapy yesterday. Lots of talk and very little drawing! Imagine a table in your head that's had stuff piled up on it for weeks. Then someone walks past it and brushes against it. Everything topples over. Nothing new: you already knew all the stuff there. But it looks different all spilled out like that.

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Other Stuff

I hope the storms blow themselves out soon so that I can get back out into the garden. I've bought two trays of bedding plants; marigolds and red salvia. What on earth possessed me to buy 60????

Having been in a low gear for a while, the house is now a tip. -When I'm low and/or physically unwell, jobs just don't get done. And as an untidy mess affects me badly, I need to get it all cleared up and straight.

At least the rain will keep me from getting too distracted. Today I started by writing a list....... ahhh that's enough for today :)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

A review of things, and a beary cook

Starting this blog was, I thought, a way to monitor how the ups and downs of bi-polar affect my creativity. And vice versa. If I am low, can I still draw? And if I can, do I draw better or worse when low or high?

I think the answer might be similar for both highs and lows- it is definitely more of an effort because, whether high or low, it is more difficult to concentrate. The outcome is different though- when high I need to pull back, create a bit less, as indulging in every whim my hyper brain wants to do just pushes me higher and higher. And 'high' does not mean happy, giggly, without-a-care, dance around and sing. 'High' can also mean shakes, racing thought, paranoia, hallucinations, palpitations and chronic fear. Not good!

When low, however, though it is an enormous effort to get the pencils out, it does help me if I can do it. It lifts me.

I suppose this means I have confirmed what I had wondered- that arty stuff lifts mood. It isn't always a good thing though!

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I have been low lately, which I think is quite a hormonal thing at the moment. But also, I seem to have a lot of worries at once; my mother's health, my cats' welfare, helping to get mum moved up to Essex so that we can all keep an eye on her.... the actual work of finding a place for her, and getting her old place fixed up so she can sell it, well it's just starting to hit home how much hard work this is. On paper it's all a great idea and exciting. In reality it's phone calls, planning, worry. Mum's memory isn't great these days, despite that she is only 67. So most evenings I am on the phone explaining stuff that I've explained 6 times before, whether it is to do with the cats' food, or how to write a cheque.

To turn to doodling seems an unimportant, frivilous pastime under the circumstances. But I steered myself into my craft room on the grounds that it is good for me. Must try to stop the downward spiral. Blogging is good too, as it is a way of keeping in touch with people 'out there'. I have to tell you, I feel so lonely sometimes. I was up last night in tears again. The slightest thing upsets me at the moment. Like I said- hormones! I wept at finding a dead woodmouse in the garden this morning. So tiny and helpless and perfect he seemed. The world seems cruel and horrible.

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Father's day is coming up, so I turned my attention to that.
My Dad was a Head Chef in the Royal Navy, so I thought a Beary cook would make him smile. The background 'cupcake' paper was free in a magazine. I wrote the greeting in the same fake snow stuff that I had used on Christmas cards last year. Still had a drop left. I wanted it to look like icing. I like the way it looks on the spoon, too! I coloured the Bear and all his accessories in water colour paint. I wrote Dad's initials on the apron.

Yeah, I reckon he will really like this one!

Monday, 8 June 2009

More pootling....

...So I cropped that picture thingy I did the other day, and made it into a card:Watcha think?
Certainly looks better smaller, I think.
I punched the flowers out of some of the remaining paper. I only did 6 as this punch is INCREDIBLY hard to press down! I hate punches like that! I think you should be able to try them out in the shop. LOL!

Looking out the window, I spotted this wee fella on the rosemary. Wasn't sure if he was nimbling seeds or insects. Cute, isn't he? Wouldn't pose properly for me though :)...that little distraction got me to dig out this, which I bought about a month ago and still hadn't done anything with. It's a big sheet of gift wrap from Paperchase. Decent weight paper, too, and tons of it for £1:OK £1 is a lot for a piece of wrapping paper that will end up torn up and ignored, but not if you use it in other ways. I've seen craft stamps around with similar bird cage designs on, and this is a much cheaper option to those! Here's the card I made with some of it this afternoon. I used bird stamps from my growing collection of stamps received free with magazines :)I quite like it :) Here's the inside:
Next, here is one I put together as an anniversary card for someone. Can't say who in case they come here and see it. Ha.I had the topper ready a few weeks ago, so it was just a case of deciding on a background. In the end I thought just using a plain brown card was enough.Some swirls inside and a 'congratulations' stuck onto it:
It was nice to do a bit of crafty pootling. I am feeling EXTREMELY hormonal (horMOANal?) right now and I needed calming down. LOL!

Finally, I had run out of blank ATCs. Rather than buy some I thought I'd just cut up some card. They have to be 3.5 x 2.5 inches. Yeah, I know, if I have lined them up I'd have got more out of a sheet of card. But where's the fun in that?I coloured them all with ProMarkers and cut them out. Now I have a wee pile of multi-coloured blank ATCs. Far less frightening than a blank white canvas. You never know, I might even produce some completed ones some time.
Wouldn't it be nice to get a swap going?
Hmmm... I wonder if we could so that... any ideas?