Friday, May 15, 2015

Agony and Ecstasy

Pardon the emotional post today--sometimes I just have to shout, laugh and cry all at once. Lately everytime I pass by the patio door in the kitchen I expect to see Darcy sitting on the step waiting to be let in. But on April 26, I found her laying in the grass by my iris bed. For 19 years my little gray furball was a constant companion and a stand in daughter as I have no children. She kept me company in the outdoor studio and would pounce on fabric ruffled by the wind. She often drove me crazy at the house because like most "children", if she was in, she wanted out and if she was out, she wanted in. If I had a dollar for every time that patio door opened I'd be rich indeed.  

I never really expected her to stick around for 19 years. Experts say that outdoor cats only have half the lifespan of indoor cats. But Darcy was both an innie and outie and could take care of herself even with one eye. She had surgery to remove an eye that was infected several years ago and adapted very well without binocular vision. I never expected her to go so suddenly though. She had no wounds on her body. She looked like she was asleep. Perhaps a heart attack? She is sorely missed and as I face another season in the studio getting ready for three upcoming shows this fall, I think I'm going to be mighty lonely out there. I will have to talk to myself instead.  

On top of the agony of losing Darcy, over the last several weeks my eczema, which affects both hands and my feet has flared up big time. It's an accurate predictor of stress. Lots of new work to make and collaboration challenges! This on top of finishing the catalog for the last show, which I promise, dear readers, will be done one of these days!!!!!! Currently I have bandages on 7 of my 10 digits. Makes typing a challenge too. I was in real agony the last couple days because all ten fingertips were so raw and/or cracked I could barely touch anything. When I have flareups, either I can't touch the silk because skin is so rough it will snag the fabric, or my fingertips are numb with thick skin, or I'm bleeding (sorry to gross you out, but painful cracks appear often). The bandages make everything awkward.  

There is some good news however in all of this mess. I was ecstatic a week ago when I found this beauty at an antique festival in Maeystown, IL.  

I have wanted a silk and velvet crazy quilt like this for decades. Perfect ones are rare and very expensive, particularly if they are heavily embroidered as this one is.  I decided to buy this one despite the deterioration of some of the silks because the embroidery and beauty of the whole was just too good to pass up for the price. It is gorgeous and I considered it a bargain.  

I've been collecting doilies and lace for years. Fabienne Rey has contributed to my collection twice now (see the previous post). I found more doilies on my shopping sprees this week and last and also found a remarkable sheer cotton and lace vintage wedding dress.  It has a few holes and some minor stains but who could pass up such a dress when the price was $25!!  
I am amazed at how sheer the fabric is! 

There is nothing like Rust Ecstasy, however. And I've decided that I'm willing to pay the price to own certain hard to find pieces. After all it's the same as art supplies to me! Unlike a tube of paint, however, my rust doesn't get used up. I found several unique pieces this week and last at Maeystown and others earlier this year. Thank my lucky stars I was in the right place at the right time on Wednesday for sure. I got my hands on two huge pieces. 

It is too cruel I know, but I won't show you the rusty bits I purchased because I haven't photographed anything yet. I think I'd also rather introduce them to you through the fabrics. So stay tuned to see what magic will happen.


  1. Dear Pat
    So sorry for the loss of your companion. A friend of nineteen years leaves a big hole. As to your hands...I wonder if that painful condition may be related to contact with rust and acids? Having no idea whether you work gloved or not, but having seen the state my own hands have fallen into in the past it would seem entirely possible. I wish you a speedy recovery!

    1. Dear India,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I know you appreciate the fur babies in your life too. And have a lost a few. Always painful.

      As for my hands, you wouldn't believe looking at them today that last week they were raw. They look completely healthy now, but I know they can turn on me at any time. I've just about run out of my prescription so need to be prepared for next bout. My sister and my mom both had similar rashes, cracks and rough skin. Mom worked in a garment factory, my sis was a bookkeeper and later a cashier. Both of them saw their rashes clear up and go away after several years so I hold the happy thought that maybe this won't be a life long affliction as the dermatologist has warned. Neither my mom or sister ever dealt with feet like I have. Fingers healed, my tootsies have not -- yet.

      I have often wondered if the creeping crud (as my affectionate husband calls it) is related to my work. I do wear gloves throughout my process but I know that's not a complete protection. Gloves tear or spring a leak sometimes and expose me briefly. I wear gloves for any cleaning activity--even bathing. But of course I handle my dry fabric afterwards.

      I've tried many OTC ointments, creams, moisturizers. Have a prescription but can only use sporadically or it loses it's effectiveness. I should buy stock in the company that makes my bandages. I go through them pretty fast.

      I don't know the cause of my eczema--but I warn anyone who handles metal and rusty objects to protect hands with gloves always and of course to get a tetanus booster just in case you cut or scratch yourself. Since I'm also allergic to latex, I use latex free gloves and bandages.

      One curiosity though in regards to the rust--I often go weeks, sometimes months during winter without touching rust and the eczema never goes away--it just cycles on and off, usually related to my stress level as my recent bout was. Or at least I think it was. I'm great at self-diagnosing.

      OK--the pity party is over…back to work. ;-)

  2. Dear Pat,

    I started crying when I read about the loss of your beloved Darcy. I, too, just lost my feline companion, Chester, a couple of weeks ago. I'm struggling to get through each day without him, as I "see" him everywhere I go in the house. My heart goes out to you.

    Regarding your eczema, I wonder if I may make a suggestion. I have always had trouble coping with stress. It also affects me physically such as making my asthma worse. Right now, my grief over the loss of Chester is so overwhelming that my hair is falling out (alopecia). I bought a book a number of years ago that has helped me very much. It is Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness by Jeanne Achterberg. You might pick up a copy and give it a look. The author speaks at length about using imagery to help control, minimize, and sometimes, even "cure" autoimmune disorders. I am a believer in the technique because using imagery has done wonders for me over the years, when I remember to do it. ;) I simply wanted to share what has helped me through the years. I realize everyone is different, and what works for some may not work for others. I am sending you healing thoughts. Peace.

    1. Thank you RM for your kind words about Darcy. My sympathies to you over losing your companion. I'm finding all sorts of things trigger thoughts. I'm still trying to shop for things that were important for her. But I guess 19 years of habit is not going away anytime soon.

      I've not heard of the book you mention. I'll look it up.
      Best regards, Pat


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