November 30, 2012

Party Cat

Party Cat

Party Cat can sing and dancein every country - even France
When you have friends to entertain, a festive aura he’ll maintain

During my year long plus battle with what has been tentatively described as CFIDS, or Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, there were long periods of time during the day when I just couldn’t do much of anything. During those times I took to watching videos - silly senseless ones at first, then educational ones when I could concentrate better. I dedicate those times to my illustration, Party Cat, who fills up the gap of energy with his own brand of entertainment. The large drum in the picture is the top of my actual djembe. The horn is a nineteenth century cornet.

November 29, 2012

Days of Either/Or

Disability Tip of the Day: If you are unable to do your own shopping and you live in a small town that does not deliver food., you must rely on hired people or friends to bring in sustenance. When someone takes the time to pick up supermarket food for you, it is best not to respond to their delivery with the comment “Wrong brand.”

Before I got sick, I would wake up in the morning fresh with ideas for the day - plans for teaching, plans for painting, plans for the construction of musical instruments. I would balance these against household chores - which I usually did with joy, and backing - which I did with relish.

During my several months of severe illness, about the only thing I could do was to lie awake in pain and wonder whether I would even make it through the day. Today I can do a bit more than that but my active times are still limited to a few hours in the morning and a few in the late evening with a range of sick attacks as day filler. What this means is that my limited energy has to be carefully parceled out and choices must be made: clean the floor in the bathroom or cook breakfast, make a drawing or fill out disability reports. What used to be done in an hour now takes a day. What used to be done in a day now takes three days to a week. Life has become an either/or challenge of a limited energy budget.

The illustration above from my Small Long Book of Marvelous Cats are the Mechanical Cats (just occurred to me that they should be called Meowchanical Cats) and their verse goes like this:

Mechanical Cats do all the chores
They clean the oven and mop the floors
They roast the chickens and grate the cheese
And just about everything as you please

November 27, 2012

Massage Cat

Handicapped Person’s Tip of the Day:

Should you be required to have a spinal tap, the medical staff will have you rest flat on your back in recovery for one half hour in order to avoid getting a low spinal fluid pressure headache. If, however, you are prone to headaches - especially migraine - better make lying flat and drinking caffeine most of the next day your priority.  But best to hope that you won't need the procedure at all.  But if you do, the procedure itself is quite okay and nothing to fear.
Picking up on the last line of verse from the Small Long Book of Marvelous Cats and the reference to aching bones, I introduce cat number two: Massage Cat. His image is above. Note the accouterments of his trade. His verse goes like this:

Whether your sport is football or dressage
Your aching muscles will need a massage
Massage cat does as he is bidden
While carefully keeping his sharp claws hidden

November 23, 2012

Cats Marvelous Cats

Handicapped Tip of the Day: When shopping, be sure to get a handicapped cart that has been plugged in and charged. Otherwise you may find yourself stranded in the middle of the store in a dead mobile full of groceries.

That is just one of the myriad challenges I’ve been facing during the past year as I deal with a body gone haywire and a brain not fully what it used to be. Fortunately, although my professional career is most likely over - at least until I and my limited abilities can perhaps find a new place in the world - I continue to produce art work. The slow pace of my production and my lack of mobility has changed my art work considerably. For one thing I rely much more on imagination. The drawings I do are no longer made with the market in mind but rather just to be a creative human being expressing herself. I find that at times I become more attracted to pattern and detail and I will post more examples of these.

Thanksgiving was quiet but good. I was able to do a few things during the day and even make a mince pie. So I’m thankful for what I can still do, and grateful that I have friends and a good husband.

I’ve taken to making small pencil illustrations for books of poetry. The complex poetry I illustrated was written well before I got sick. The present ones are short, humorous verses. Finding myself getting into a funk one day thinking about all the physical things that once used to be easy and enjoyable but now cause great strain, I came up with a book of “useful” cats who would do all the chores while I rested. I call the book the Small Long Book of Marvelous Cats. The first cat is illustrated above.  Garden Cultivator Cat does all the yard work and his verse goes like this:
Set him loose in your back yard

and Garden Cat works long and hard

raking, weeding, seeding, feeding

Your old bones won’t take the beating

November 6, 2012

Wrestling Men and a Swinging Ape

I am posting my drawing of battling men and a large ape in honor of election day. I was going to use this drawing as a springboard for a discussion of chronic illness again but I think I’ll take a break from that.

This drawing was remade from a sketch of a Roman copy of a Greek marble of wrestlers. Later that day I visited the zoo and made sketches of apes. Out of laziness or frugality (perhaps a bit of both) I sketched the ape on the same page as the wrestlers. I did this frequently because at the time I only thought of these drawings as material for ideas. Now I see the disparate subject matter as connected in a surreal way.

November 2, 2012

Big Cat in New Jersey

Having a rich, artistic imagination is one way to fend off a protracted debilitating illness. During my convalescence I invented imaginary “helpers” who could do all the things that I no longer had the strength to do. My latest creation in that vein is a small book of illustrated verse called “The Small Long Book of Marvelous Cats.” Even the notion of cats being useful is somewhat amusing. The book is full of cats that do the yard work, the house work, entertain, and even give massage therapy. One of the cats, Guardian Cat, was originally created as a protector of home and property. Today I revised the verse for this cat to honor governor Christie and New Jersey in their dark and cold hours of need. The cat is pictured above. The verse for the day is as follows:
Guardian Cat puffs out his furry mane
Opening wide his watchful eyes
Not for selfishness or political gain
But to protect his Jersey gals and guys