Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Something Bookish

The Readers - 12x24 inch oil on canvas

Last year was a better reading year than I thought.  Looking back over my Goodreads page, I see that I finished sixty books, which is nowhere near the number I used to go through in a year, but better than I thought, considering the amount of time I spent napping or going to medical appointments in 2018, and the fact I started listening to Sirius radio instead of audio books in the car.

Looking back over the titles I completed did quite a lot of re-reading of titles I enjoyed in the past, and a higher than usual percentage of non-fiction titles. The older I get, the more I like memoirs. I was also interested in the book about how Janesville was affected when the GM plant shut down ten years ago.  I thought I knew more about that situation than I actually did.

Anyway, these are some of my favorites from 2018:

Moonglow - Michael Chabon
News of the World - Paulette Jiles
The Painted Drum - Louise Erdrich
War and Turpentine - Stefen Hertmans
All Quiet on the Western Front (reread) - Erich Maria Remarque
Chang and Eng - Darin Strauss
On the Move: A Life - Oliver Sacks
All Creatures Great and Small (reread) - James Herriot

Sunday, January 6, 2019

They Say It's Your Birthday...

December 29, 1951

Wow, I do not think I've skipped two months here for quite a while.  I haven't been doing much art, other than a few small collages in a sketchbook, nothing I wanted to share.

I have been considering my birthday, though.  Most of my life I've been grumpy about the date I was born, right between Christmas and New Year.  Since my birthday is so late in the year, I usually think of myself as older than I actually am. I was born in 1950, so, this year I turned sixty-eight at the end of December, but thought of myself as that age most of the year.  I have the usual complaints. I often got my birthday presents on Christmas, since everyone was already together. I don't like it that so many the celebrations are lumped together in December, a month not known for its good weather in Wisconsin. When I wanted to go out to a nice restaurant out of town, often the roads were snow covered and slippery.

Of course there are some good things too - I had a closet full of warm clothing and socks. I never had to go to school or work on my birthday. Often out of town family and friends visit at this time of year.

But this year, even though we didn't have a party, and there were no gifts, I was very very happy.  I wasn't altogether sure I'd be alive for this birthday.  My cancer diagnosis in 2017 turned my illusions about control and certainty upside down.  I still feel pretty good, but my cancer is slowly progressing.  I've had two different rounds of chemo that were ineffective, and radiation that helped well, but only for a few months.  I was excited to learn that a Milwaukee hospital has two experimental drug trials for my kind of cancer, so I did all the testing and paperwork for one only to be disqualified the day before I was supposed to start treatment.  I applied for the other drug trial this week.

This year on December 29th my dear husband and I went out to the local Olive Garden, had a nice meal, came home to watch a movie on television, and called it a day.  That was just fine by me, since slippery roads weren't a problem, and I felt good enough to eat my dinner and drink a glass of wine. Just having an average day, not counting the nearly 100 birthday greeting on Facebook, and sleeping comfortably in my own bed, was all I could ask for.  

No party or gifts required.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Irene, For Julia Kay's Portrait Party

8x 10 inches, colored pencil on toned paper

I have been under motivated to work on art lately.  I'm not sure why, except in a vague way.  I started an acrylic painting of fall trees before our Iceland trip, but have managed to ignore it nicely.  My attitude lately is that a new painting is just something more to have to haul out to  show (then remember to pick up again), or something to store in the closet.  Bad attitude, eh?  If I actually started working on it, I'd most likely get involved and everything would be fine.  

But I also have been relatively low energy lately, the result of anemia which is a side effect of chemotherapy.  Anyway, I decided that I'd just do another portrait for an online group I've been a member of for several years.  I probably should have pushed the values more, but part of me likes the softness of this portrait.  Her blouse is actually dark, but I decided to make it light so the area of highest contrast is near her face.  I also went back to a technique I used before, using a rubbing plate to add texture to the background.  At least I did some art, a welcome break from too much reding or watching recorded movies on television.