Sunday, May 8, 2016

Out of ICU

After two weeks in the ICU, my husband is finally in a regular hospital room. His endarterectomy went well. All the tubes have been removed and he is now on the road to recovery. I spend afternoons with him, mostly stitching along with a bit of sketching. I am mostly unplugged, but hope to be back soon.

We have much to be thankful for...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Getting Ready

The suitcases are packed. We leave for a Parisian hospital soon. After sinking in the quagmire for so many months, I feel like we are finally moving forward.

In line with my Finishing Rule for 2016, I completed a bag that will go with me. I did the panels for it when I made my recycled bathrobe (here) way back in January 2012 (gulp!). A couple weeks ago I added the sides and strap (old jeans), put in a lining with a zippered pocket, and sewed in a zipper across the top. I've been test driving it lately and it holds all the necessities, such as stitching, sketchbooks, and art supplies. I will be able to self-entertain for hours on end.
And so, we face another mountain to climb, but with hope. See you on the other side...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It's All in the Finishing Touches

We went to a restaurant, Fondouk al-Attarine, in the Medina (the old city) in Tunis. It was such an astoundingly pleasant surprise that I had to think about why that was. The ancient building had been renovated and the restaurant had a traditional Tunisian theme done with such good taste that it made one regret the fine craftsmanship of the past. The food was very good, the waiters were pleasant, the background music (Fairouz songs) was low, the ambient temperature was perfect, the restrooms were impeccably clean. I had a bit of time to sketch and then, inspired by the sepia colors, painted a bird statuette the next day.
Leaving the Medina, I went home still pondering. After ruminating on the experience for a couple of days, I finally figured it out. Everything had been carefully planned, every detail from the glass ceiling and ventilation to the tablecloths, and everything was finished. I haven't seen anything well-finished in Tunisia in a l-o-n-g time. The difficulty of finding qualified tradespeople defies reason. My own walls are cracking, but the masons we find never show up; there are moldings that need finishing, but the carpenter is too "busy"; the list is long.

Since the "revolution", it requires superhuman willpower to maintain anything in Tunisia. For the moment, I can highly recommend Fondouk al-Attarine if you are in the neighborhood. 

However, if they can maintain their standards, I will suspect that they are superhuman, or possibly from another planet...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

FINALLY, Good News

Yes, I can finally, finally announce good news. We are packing our bags and have a date for my husband's operation (endarterectomy) in Paris. We will soon be leaving.

I must say a heartfelt "Thank You" to all my friends: thank you for your moral and financial support. You have eased my burden considerably and the future is looking less bleak. You have given me the courage to persevere and to help my husband as best I can.

And so my thoughts turn to Paris...last December we were there to see the doctors, yet we managed a short "vacation." We tried to have some fun, which helped relieve some of our underlying anxiety. 
Besides some very slow walks along the Seine and in the Latin Quarter, we ate at some interesting restaurants.

We visited a couple of museums.
       The Fragonard exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum was beautifully set up.

Fragonard (18th century) was pretty race-y. I sketched a drawing that was relatively sedate--if you didn't read the title. Fragonard made the most of dramatic lighting and set nature into wild movement as a background for libertine "activities".

We walked through the gardens at the Rodin Museum where I managed to sketch a bit of one statue. A copy of the Thinker (sideways) was in the metro station (just time for a blind sketch). Rodin's distortions caught my eye--huge hands and feet, off-balance figures. Very daring and surprising.

A logo to encourage tourist spending tickled my funny bone.

This time around, I'll try to take in a few museums and do some urban sketching. But mostly, I'll be stitching on The Pomegranate Tree Quilt (particularly the wild weeds) while sitting in a hospital waiting room...waiting... 

Yes, there is yet another mountain to climb, but, we face the future with hope.

And at the risk of sounding repetitive, I must finish with a huge...

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Dear Friends:
I have been working slowly on "He Went to Work Everyday, Then He Retired" as part of a series on the the passage of time and aging. Last weekend, The-Man-who-owns-the-shirts (that is, my husband) received strict orders from his doctor to be sedentary. Because he suffers from a slowly, but steadily worsening, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH--the lung's arteries are clogged), he can no longer do much at all but sit in his recliner and try to breathe, and his heart will hold out for less than two years if he doesn't have surgery within the next several weeks (similar to open heart surgery; the main arteries of the lungs are scraped out), which would restore him to relative good health.

So, this is the piece I will be working on when I accompany The Man-who-owns-the-shirts to a hospital in Paris soon.
Here is the problem: the operation is not done in Tunisia. If we lived in France, the national health insurance would pay for it immediately as it is a case of life-and-death. However, in Tunisia the national health insurance, to which my husband has given 4% of his salary for over 40 years, refused my husband's dossier that requested that his expenses in France be covered by them.

I am sad for Tunisians, that this is the state of affairs for public health. We have decided to take things into our own hands and are pulling together our resources to pay for the operation ourselves. However, a large sum of money is required and we are limited by Tunisian law as to how much we can take to France. We are turning to family and friends for help. My daughter, who teaches in Tennessee, has begun an on-line fund raiser:

I am sad that I have to do something that I never thought I would have to do: ask for financial help. I have never put a monetary value on my artwork (how does one evaluate a part of one's life that comes right after breathing, eating, and a good night's sleep?), however, if you have enjoyed my blogs and my artwork, won't you consider showing it with just a small contribution? It will be truly appreciated in this sad hour.

Please believe that this is the most difficult post I have ever had to write. 
May blessings and good health be upon you, my friends. 
Thank you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rule for 2016, 1

It looks like 2016 is a year of huge changes in my corner of the world, so in order to keep my balance I have a new rule: Finish. This is a tough rule for a polymath like me, but I did start off the year right by finishing my......Ha! if you thought I was going to say the Pomegranate Tree, you would be wrong. True, it's a priority and I'm stitching everyday, but, man, those French knots are killing me. It's a love/hate relationship.

No, the first big finish of 2016 was my small (6"x4"), more-or-less-daily, out-and-about, purse journal with 160 pages (or 320 drawable pages). A gift from my brother, it sat on a shelf for 30 years until Sketchbook Skool came along and changed my drawing habits. 
The paper is too thin to take water media so I started using it for a 75-day ink-sketching challenge (mostly ballpoint pen). As the challenge was
to not use color, I decided to use a different color of pen every day. I think it would've killed me to use black ink everyday. 

I did have a thought about using a bit of fabric on each page as a sort of frame, however, that didn't last long. Inauspicious beginnings.

It developed into a diary entry, a list, a sketch for each page along with a quote. Which led me to the Paul Klee quote:"Drawing is taking a line for a walk".

I could see myself taking a line for a walk like one would take a dog for a walk on a leash.

Then my teaching life crashed into my journal...

And, no, I didn't quit, but, I should have. Things went downhill from there.

Colleagues appeared as well.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Although art has had a place in my life since I was a kid, possibly, just possibly, it became serious with boxes. I managed to find a few brief moments to paint legos when I had little people hanging around. The year was 1988.

Caught up in pattern and color, and well before I ever heard of zentangles, I decorated a number of small boxes to display in my home. Soap boxes or boxes containing medicine or toothpaste tubes, small boxes. I pulled them apart to lie flat, covered them in Canson paper and painted them with watercolors and a Rotring pen. Then I glued them back together.
And that was back in 1990 and 1991. Recently, I ran across them sitting forgotten in the bottom of a drawer, turning yellowish and looking worn.
I remembered the hours of work they required and the pleasure they gave me. I decided to recycle them into my sketchbooks and give them a second life. 
So I took them apart and glued them into my sketchbook.
And then I added some. Freedom within structure.
The wild, organic lines have been with me for a l-o-n-g time.