Saturday, March 25, 2017

All (or at least some) is revealed

"And then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be."

Today (March 25 for those in different time zones) is reveal day for the Bead Soup Blog Party - Bead Hoarders Edition. The Blog Party is the brainchild of Lori Anderson of Bead Soup Cafe and the blog Pretty Things, where you will find a linked list of all the participants. Should you be interested in seeing lots of eye candy, please visit the linked blogs and Pinterest boards.

This time I finished two pieces, using a mix of beads from the two soups my partner, Andra Weber, sent me, plus some from my own stash. Andra sent me two soups - see them here and here - and I loved both of them, especially the focals. The theme of the swap was to send a focal bead that you'd personally loved and hoarded. Sending additional beads was optional but always adds to the fun

I still have a lot of beads left to play with, enough for several more pieces, and a lot of good intentions to go with them. I'd say that two days of jury service this week put me behind but, face it, I would have found other excuses, I mean reasons, to run out of time. The best reason is the truest one. Jewelry design takes both time and inspiration. Time is never unlimited and inspiration, well, as I may have mentioned, that muse of mine is a flibbertigibbet.

Actually putting a piece together takes the smallest amount of time, compared to thinking about it, planning it, laying it out, deciding you hate it, starting over, thinking, planning, hunting through your own stash for those perfect beads you think you remember having, maybe finding them, maybe not, maybe finding something else you'd forgotten that suddenly demands attention. At some point you just have to bite the bullet and make the piece and hope you stick the landing.

I have pieces I've taken apart and remade as many as five times over a period of time. Since I make my own lampwork beads, I've been known to wear a piece for a while, then take it apart and sell the lampwork. I have other pieces that date back to the beginning of time, by which I mean time since I first learned to make jewelry with beads.

My first piece to show was made with the focal bead from my first soup, the bronze daggers and cranberry crystals from my second soup, some round pink Czech glass beads that came from my own stash, plus a clasp I liberated from another necklace. The piece almost made itself. I knew right away how I wanted to use the focal. It's simple, easy to wear and pretty I think.

My second piece uses the focal and matching pair from my second soup, as well as the green crystals and pink opalite from my second soup. I already had the peachy agate rounds, AB cubes and wine seed bead spacers. And the clasp came from my first bead soup exchange. Yes, I took apart one of the pieces from that swap. My skills have evolved since that time and I wanted to use the pretty clasp in something more worthy.

This piece was harder for me becasue I could visualize so many different ways to play the focal. I'm happy with the way it all came together.

And at the eleventh hour, I decided to make one more quick piece, a bracelet using the carnelian nuggets from Andra and some random beads from my stash.

Every now and then that muse steps up to the plate and pulls a long ball.

Oh, my life
Is changing every day
In every possible way

And oh, my dreams
It's never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems

I know I've felt like this before
But now I'm feeling it even more
Because it came from you

And then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be

I want more
Impossible to ignore
Impossible to ignore

And they'll come true
Impossible not to do
Impossible not to do

And now I tell you openly
You have my heart so don't hurt me
You're what I couldn't find

A totally amazing mind
So understanding and so kind
You're everything to me

Oh, my life
Is changing every day
In every possible way

And oh, my dreams
It's never quite as it seems
'Cause you're a dream to me
Dream to me.

(Dolores O'Riordan and Noel Hogan)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Exposure leads to more exposure

"And why do you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you
Why do you sing with me at all?"

No surprises here. The nodule above my nostril turned out to be a big nothing. Big being the operative word, albeit I concede somewhat subjective.

Since I was less than one percent worried that it was something, I was happy only to be able to name it. A benign fibrous papule, or angiofibroma. I could tell immediately from the cheerful telephone voice of the newsbearer that it wasn't anything concerning.

You don't have to do anything further, she said. I of course said, but what if I want it gone? She said, we can remove it. That was good news.

I asked if it would be problematic to remove it, considering my shave biopsy hasn't healed yet. She said, that's no problem, we can't get you in until the end of the month anyway, you should be healed by then.

I asked if I'd be trading in my scar for a bigger scar. She said, the new scar would be linear, which as far as I'm concerned is better than a pancake shaped scar. I asked if Dr. E. would be doing the removal and she said, no, we have specialists that do these surgeries.

So it's booked. My nose goes under the knife, again, on March 31, with Dr. P. doing the honors.

And naturally part of me wonders if we couldn't have skipped this interim misery and gone straight to an excision, if a more experience doctor would have been able to diagnose it with reasonable certainty, instead of having to be sliced first.

I'm still dealing with ointment and bandaids on my nose, and I get to do it all again right about the time I get shut of all this aftercare.

Since it's a case of cosmetics, not cancer, I shall officially stop complaining about it now. At least between now and March 31 you won't hear one more nose peep from me. After that, all bets are off. If they weren't, you'd be pretty safe betting that I'll be whining again after the knob job.

It's been a quiet interlude here, so I only had to go out socially once with a bandaided nose, to a dinner with a former colleague of Neil and his wife. Concealer and powder worked more recently when we met friends for Dim Sum, but now I'm back to the ointment-bandaid rigamarole. Nothing much is on the calendar between now and month-end, except an eye doctor appointment and a baby shower.

April is wide open right now as well. It's looking like our next North Carolina trip won't be until mid-May at the soonest. We'll be picking out the granite slabs for our counters, making landscaping plans and designing closet upgrades.

I've been jonesing to plan one hiking trip between now and moving time.

Bead sales have picked up a bit, at least compared to the last slow spell. I did another round on the bargain bead site, and once again I did really well for a week or so and then things tapered off.

So I guess that's how I'll play it. Stay off it for a while and if things get impossibly slow, give it another go.

I had a few buyers leverage the heck out of their $3.50 shipping, causing me to pay for priority shipping because their boxes weighed more than one pound, and paying for insurance to boot. But I'm not complaining about that.

Because on the flip side, there are always a few people who sit tight with a $6 purchase and I wind up having to print an invoice and a shipping label and use tissue paper and a bubble envelope. Hypothetically that cost is built into my shipping fees but just barely. It's more of a psychological thing though, to have someone win what should have been a $12 pair of beads for $6 and then they are done.

I know, think of it as a loss leader. Hopefully they will get it and love it so much that they will come back for many more, at full price. Except, no, it doesn't work that way. Someone said it well the other day, in the context of being asked for a bead donation to a good cause, in return for which you get "exposure." She said, exposure just leads to more exposure.

I'm pretty sure I've never made a sale on the basis of any beads I donated to a good cause. Yes, it's nice to know that fish bead that I would have happily sold for $25 raised $200 for the cause, but it won't pay the power bill or buy me any new glass.

I've been playing with silver leaf and frit and feeling chuffed with the results, but, as has been my chronic recent history, focal beads don't sell for me. Not even pretty ones like these.

Today, both Neil and I had jury duty. What are the odds of that? We drove together which naturally meant that I was called for a panel and he was dismissed. And, why yes, I was seated. Hello Juror number 5.

It's a criminal case and that's all I am allowed to say right now, except that the trial is only expected to last for one day. I go back tomorrow and with luck we'll get 'er done. The judge did tell us to make arrangements in case we need to stay late.

I'll be back with a full report. And don't forget, Saturday is the Bead Soup Blog Party reveal day. I've got one piece made and one more in progress in my mind.

Am I procrastinating? Guilty as charged.

We might kiss when we are alone
When nobody's watching
We might take it home
We might make out when nobody's there
It's not that we're scared
It's just that it's delicate

So why do you fill my sorrow
With the words you've borrowed
From the only place you've known
And why do you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you
Why do you sing with me at all?

We might live like never before
When there's nothing to give
Well how can we ask for more
We might make love in some sacred place
The look on your face is delicate

So why do you fill my sorrow
With the words you've borrowed
From the only place you've known
And why do you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you
Why do you sing with me at all?

(Damien Rice)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Souped up

"You can't bargain with the truth
'Cause for those who were deceived
There'll be no reprieve
There'll be no time to believe in the end."

That's the first picture of work on our new house. The basement walls - which had just been poured - to be precise. Shit is getting real. You know that's true when they bring in the porta potty.

A few days ago, I got a second bead soup from my partner, Andra Weber, in the Bead Soup Blog Party. Andra felt like she'd second-guessed herself and, after looking at my Facebook page, had sent me beads that weren't her original intent for the exchange. In the long run, she decided to go with her first instincts and send me the soup she'd originally planned to send.

If this sounds inarticulate, it's because I sincerely appreciated the first soup, but rather than look a gift horse in the mouth, I'll just say thank you and shoulder the challenge of making at least two creations for the March 25 reveal.

Here is the second soup Andra sent me.

There's a beautiful lampwork focal and matching pair, along with Czech beads and crystals and some sweet pink opalite. There's also a strand of gemstone beads and a strand of large pink crystals.

Here's another look at the focal set, the rest of the beads and a tube of seed beads that were in the package.

I have my work cut out for me. You know what I'll be doing on March 24.

So, as I mentioned about 5 or 6 posts ago, it was 102 degrees the day Chelsea was born. After we found out, at 37 weeks, that she was transverse breech, we were resigned to having a C-section. I asked my OB about trying to turn her and she was adamantly opposed.

My original due date was August 16, 1988. A friend pointed out that if I had my C-Section on the eighth, her birthday would be 8-8-88. The idea appealed to me. I asked my doctor about it and she was agreeable. But there was a hitch. She was taking a week of vacation, returning on August 7, and she wouldn't schedule the surgery without doing an amnio to test lung maturity. I'm clueless why this would have been an issue at 39 weeks. But it was what it was.

The hospital would only schedule C-Sections in the morning, so my doc came up with a plan. I'd go in for the amnio that morning, and when she got the results, we'd get me in by saying that my water broke. Oh, I talked the doctor into signing me off work for the week she was away so that I could put up my feet and sip wine to ward off labor. With a face-down, transverse lie, you definitly don't want to go into labor. Nothing good happens when the cord is born first.

So on the morning of August 8, Jon and I went to the hospital in the small hours to have the amnio. We went home and I let my pediatrician know that I'd be having the baby that day. Mid-afternnon we got the amnio results and the game was afoot. The doctor sent me to the hospital, saying my water had broken.

The hosital staff was suspicious. Apparently my pediatrician had called to ask if the baby had arrived. They asked me a lot of questions, I made up answers on the fly. No I hadn't brought along any soaked garments. Yes, I'd felt a trickle of liquid but I'd taken a shower. They did some sort of test but got an equivocal result. My doctor showed up after office hours and took charge, She said, I'm not taking any chances. She said, prep her.

There was a lot of rigmarole, being hooked up to monitors, meeting the anesthesiologist, getting an IV, a catheter, an epidural. They wheeled my into surgery, My arms were strapped to some sort of boards, presumably so that I didn't try to assist the doctor. The put up a little curtain at my midriff. The lights were very bright, there were a lot of people in the room, including neonatal specialists for higher risk deliveries. It was loud, people were talking about pre-season football, I was pretty much that patient etherized upon that table.

Then my doctor breezed in, all suited up and gloved, and this is what she said to me. I told you I'd have to do a vertical incision, right? Well, no, you didn't. I thought I'd have a bikini-line incision like everyone else. She eyed me. She said, well, I can do that, I can just make a really wide cut, but if you get a bad baby, it isn't my fault.

I am not making that up. Those were her words. You don't forget words like those.

And what are you gonna do? Take risks with your babie's health before she's even breathed one breath. No, I didn't think so. I said, do the verticle incision.

I remember I did a lot of screaming. I didn't feel any surgical pain, but I felt my organs being rearranged. I felt lots of unpleasant pulling and tugging. The circus roiled on around me, and eventually I had a baby. No one said, it's a girl. They showed her to me, but I was too agitated to appreciate the moment. They took her away to clean her up, they stapled me up and took me to a recovery room. And finally it was quiet.

Jon came in and I wept. I was so angry. I was angry that my doctor didn't tell me about the verticle incision until I had needles and tubes in multiple places and my hands were bound to boards. I felt mutiilated. I wanted to sit up. Jon, who had actually seen my incision, encouraged me to keep lying down. He had seen Chelsea, cleaned up, weighed in at 7.4 oz. and responding to his voice. I was eager to get her back.

And once I had her back, I refused to let them take her away again. I spent four nights, from Monday to Friday, in the hospital, and she never left my room. They wanted to take her and give her a bath. I insisted they bring in a warmer and bathe her in the room. I would not let her go to the nursery so I could sleep. I just slept when she did and held her the rest of the time.

Our sitter brought K.C. to the hospital to see her baby sister. K.C. held her on a pillow and said, I'm already the big sister. I have this all on VHS tapes, but since VCRs are almost obsolete, I should have them converted to DVD or accept that I am the only one interested in watching them and I still have two working VCRs, we're probably good.

Most of what I remember about that week was how hungry I was. I'd had only a banana on the birth date, knowing that I'd be having surgery. The hospital kept me on a liquid diet until I passed gas. I would have killed for a cheeseburger. Finally, around Thursday, when nature was still refusing to take its course, they gave me something to let it all go. After that I got to eat food again.

We went home on Friday morning, but before we left Chelsea's bilirubin levels spiked up. I had a choice of leaving her in the hospital or taking her home and having home health set us up with light therapy at home. Of course I took her home. My pediatrician wanted me to bring her in for a recheck. After lunch I told K.C. we were taking the baby back to the doctor. She burst into tears.

She said, you told me we were never taking her back.

We spent a pretty miserable weekend. I was terrified that the little felt goggles the nurse put over her eyes to protect them from the lights would slip. Jon slept in a rocking chair with her so I could get some sleep. I held her whenever I wasn't sleeping. The nurse came daily to take blood from Chelsea's little foot. By Monday her bilirubin levels had come down. The lights were packed up and sent away.

And we started on the brilliant adventure of raising two daughters, two little girls. Sisters.

"You can't bargain with the truth
Whether you're right or you're wrong
We're gonna know what you've done
We're gonna see where you belong in the end

You can't bargain with the truth
Whether you are black or you're white
We're gonna know who's right
We're gonna see you in the light in the end

Every little thing you do
You better know it's coming back to you

You can't bargain with the truth
Cause one day you're gonna die
And good's going high
And evil's going down in the end

You can't bargain with the truth
Whether you're old or young
We're gonna see what you've done
There'll be nowhere else to run in the end

You can't bargain with the truth
Whether you're rich or you're poor
You're gonna meet at the same door
You're gonna know the real score in the end

And if you want to help your fellow man
You better start with what is in your hand

You can't bargain with the truth
Whether you're right or you're wrong
We're gonna know what you've done
We're gonna see where you belong in the end

You can't bargain with the truth
'Cause if the world you chose
No further than your nose
Will be where the doors will close in the end

You can't bargain with the truth
'Cause for those who were deceived
There'll be no reprieve
There'll be no time to believe in the end

Oh every little thing you do
You better know it's coming back to you

You can't bargain with the truth
'Cause one day you're gonna die
And good's going high
And evil's going down in the end."

(Yusuf Islam)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From molehill to mountain

"And it gets darker every night
Spread-eagled out among the stars, she says
Somewhere in this tunnel lives a light."

About a month ago, I noticed a small bump under the skin on the tip of my nose, right side.

I'd guesstimate the nodule was about 1 mm. I work with beads. I've learned my mms. 1 mm may sound quite small but it's enough to make an earring pair unmatched.

Anyway, this thing felt sort of rubbery and there was no tenderness or redness. Googling was useless to help me figure out what it was, but did lead me to some pretty gross photos and videos. Whatever you do, don't google bump in the tip of the nose and then watch any Youtube videos.

Neil said that skin cancer grows on the skin, not under it, but there's a history of cancer in my family and when I was a kid, my father's sister died of skin cancer in her mid-40s.

Even though I was pretty sure this little lump was nothing serious, it began to grow like kudzu on my mind. I couldn't stop checking it, to see if it was still there, had gotten smaller or bigger, had moved or done anything interesting.

It was pretty boring, always the same, always there. So I made an appointment with a dermatologist.

Last year I had a xanthelasma biopsied (i.e., removed) from my left lower eyelid. Before the biopsy, my dermatologist told me that it was benign and that I didn't have to do anything. I said, you don't understand. I want it gone.

He did a fantastic job. I can't even detect a scar.

Since then Dr. F moved his practice uptown, so I made an appointment with a new dermatologist, Dr. E. I saw her a couple of weeks ago. I was relieved when she diagnosed it as an inflamed hair follicle and elated when she suggested that injection of a steroid would take care of it. She gave me the shots in the schnoz.

For an hour or so I thought I'd had a complete recovery, but as soon as the swelling from the injection subsided, I could tell it hadn't worked. That rubbery little bugger was unabated. I gave it a week. If anything, the steroid shrunk the surrounding tissue and made the nodule more evident.

So I went back last week, and Dr. E. performed a shave biopsy. She didn't do it to remove the Thing. She said that would leave a serious scar. She did it to send a specimen off to a lab to see what we are dealing with and determine whether to refer me to an ENT or a plastic surgeon.

I wish I had done some homework on a shave biopsy before I had it done. For one thing, it hurts. For a wound smaller than a pencil eraser and fairly shallow, it has been splitting my head apart in a shockingly large way. If I put a bandaid over it (have you ever tried putting a bandaid on the tip of your nose?) the pressure is distractingly painful. If I leave the bandaid off, any air circulation rampages my nerve endings. Who would have thought there were so many nerve endings in your nose?

For another thing, it looks terrible. It's angry and red and despite my best wound care efforts - washing with gentle soap and water, annointment with ointment, keeping it moist and covered - I'm sure I will have an impressive scar. I don't mind that so much. I do mind having a scar and still having the fucking lesion. If I have to have a scar, I'd just as soon have gone straight to a plastic surgeon and had the bump excised.

Neil tries to talk me down. He says a plastic surgeon would most likely have done a biopsy first anyway. I'm not so sure. He says, it's done, it's not the end of the world, move on and forget about it.

Easy to say when you don't have continuous throbbing reminding you continuously.

Maybe I'm naive, but I really wasn't expecting this disfigurement, this much discomfort, this much making a mountain out of a molehole.

There's a small part of me that thought, maybe Dr. E. did get it. Maybe making the area so angry would make it go away. Maybe the healing process for the biopsy would heal that mother right out of town. I knew that was a stretch. Exploring the area gingerly leads me to conclude that the mass persists. Now I'm just hoping that Dr. E. got into the meat of it enough to determine what I'm dealing with.

Oh well. Just another first world problem. I'm waiting for the biopsy results and to see where we go from here. I'm optimistic that it's nothing malignant and pessimistic that my choice will be to live with a lump and a scar or to go under the scalpel again for the sake of vanity and sanity.

Sorry, no photos this time.

Good news, photos next time, including a snap of our house in progress and a second scoop of bead soup.

Her new name was tattooed to her wrist
It was longer than the old one
Sealed in the silence with a fist
This night will be a cold one
Centuries live in her eyes
Destiny laughs over jack-booted thighs
Work makes us free, says the sign
Nothing leaves here alive

She steps out of line to the left
And her father to the right
One side's a cold, clean death
The other is an endless night
Gold from a grandmother’s tooth
Mountains of jewelry and toys
Piled in the corners, mailed across the borders
Presents for the girls and boys

And it gets darker every night
Spread-eagled out among the stars, she says
Somewhere in this tunnel lives a light
Still my beating heart
I have never known a man
What man will want me now?
Am I still alive, somehow?
If I can survive, somehow

Soldiers from the other side
Liberated them at dawn
Gave her water, gave her life
She still had all her clothes on
She lived until she died
Empty as the autumn leaves that fly
Surgeons took the mark
But they could not take it far
It was written on her heart
Written on her empty heart

(Janis Ian)