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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Things I Liked in 2011

2011... There were migraines, of course, because I always have migraines now, but I managed to find a few things I liked anyway! Here's a year-in-review that highlights some of those good things:

Mr. Gorgeous and his dog-walker,
Miss Gorgeous
During the first few months of 2011, much of my energy was devoted to being Mr. Gorgeous' dog-walker. We had a wet and windy spring and I was in the process of becoming more sensitive to changes in the weather, but even when I was feeling worn down by the persistent wind, I always got a kick out of being around that handsome collie and it gave me a great opportunity to take lots of photos of winter giving way to spring in the many parks we went to on our walks! I made this fun little video of Mr. Gorgeous (okay, his real name is Cedar) with footage taken during our many strolls. He has this lovely floaty sort of trot when he really gets going that I very much admire. My dog, which her mismatched mutt ends, is more of a wiggle-in-the-middle type of mover. Mr. Gorgeous definitely wins the prize when it comes to prancing!

Lookin' sauve and seeing red!
I got my red glasses in March of 2011, which made a huge difference in my ability to go out and about. My light sensitivity was having a significant impact on my ability to leave the house and use my computer, so the relief the red lenses brought me was huge! They bought me an extra hour or so of sitting in front of the computer screen every day and cut way down on migraines caused by incidental glare around the house, such as sunshine reflecting off of the kitchen faucet. I may get different colored lenses in 2012, but the red ones made 2011 much more manageable!

The center of a beautiful purple and gold bearded iris.
As spring turned into summer, I started moving away from photographing Mouse and into more general macro photography. The photos I took of bearded irises during the end of May and beginning of June are some of my favorite photos from this year. Many of them are up for sale the Natural Section of my macro store; you can see five of the best gathered together in my Bearded Irises Card Set. I also was having a great time photographing colorful candy (you can see some of those photos and more in this c.creativity Facebook album) and gathering all the props I needed for an alphabet book featuring Mouse.

And then, on July 6th, everything changed. That's the fateful day when I smacked my head against the stair rail and concussed myself. I spent the next few weeks in terrible migraine pain, horrendously nauseated, appallingly light and noise sensitive, and utterly fatigued. I started to see some concrete improvement after about nine weeks, but progress has been slow. Six months later, I have yet to reach 100% recovery; I remain more light sensitive, more noise sensitive, more sensitive to weather changes, have less energy, less stamina, and have a higher entry level (so to speak) of migraine pain. Only time will tell if these changes are permanent.

The presence of my beloved Abbey has been a major
source of comfort during my head injury recovery

Birds are awesome.
When I was first well enough to confront a lit screen after my concussion, I limited myself mainly to documentaries about the ocean; blue underwater scenes were about as much as I could tolerate visually. Netflix, of course, recommended many other nature documentaries I might like to watch and when I was able to handle more than just blue images, I took them up on their suggestion of David Attenborough's 1998 ten episode BBC documentary series, "The Life of Birds." Wow. That series is phenomenal! My jaw dropped so many times while watching it! I've always had a fondness for birds and respected them for being good at what they do, but the information and images in this series were really mind-blowing. It turns out birds are WAY cooler than I ever knew! You can watch "The Life of Birds" on Netflix, either streaming or on DVD, and I highly recommend it. David Attenborough has a number of other series, but only the "Insect Eaters" episode of "The Life of Mammals" had the same jaw-dropping effect. I've watched a lot of online TV and movies this year and "The Life of Birds" is definitely the best thing I saw.

My Canon Rebel T3i with a 100mm macro lens.
At the end of August, just when I was feeling really discouraged about my concussion recovery, I received news that I was granted disability. The decision was a heartening vindication of the previous two years' suffering, a load off my mind about my financial future, and the thousands of dollars worth of back benefits meant I could buy myself a fancy camera with a macro lens. I absolutely LOVE this camera. I love the quality of the photos. I love the power of the lens. I love how it makes me feel when I hold it and shoot pictures! I've already taken nearly 4,000 photos and I'm in camera heaven. It's an fabulous piece of equipment and it makes me feel confident to call myself a photographer.

The best team ever!
2011 has been all about Etsy for me. I officially opened my silvermouse store in December of 2010, so in the first half of 2011 I concentrated on growing that business. After the head injury, I switched my focus to my non-mouse photography and in a fit of hypomania, opened my ccreativity store. It's been a great project for me to peck away at, one that gives me a lot of pleasure. Another really awesome thing I've found through Etsy is the Createability Team, an Etsy team whose members either suffer from a disability themselves or care for others with disabilities. I've found a wonderful supportive, creative community there; seldom does a day go by when I'm not participating in the chat thread! It's a very positive group; you're absolutely allowed to have bad days and rant if you need to, but the overall tone is one of "we can do this, we'll get through this" and never have so many sincere virtual hugs been sent out over the internet! I'm inspired daily by the strength, determination, and courage that other team members display, getting up each day to live--and create--despite seemingly insurmountable challenges. It's an honor to be part of such a group and the Createability Team has become a vital support network.

You can check out the 'Favorites" section in either one of my stores to see what else has caught my eye, but here's a few other things I've liked on Etsy this year:

Fox Finger Puppet Set
I've fallen in love with LazyAnimals' darling felted finger puppets. The camels and bunnies and kangaroos and pandas are adorable, too, but it's the fox family that I find most enchanting. After all, they like to dig holes and pretend to be royalty! And they are wearing blue knitted hoodies! Also, if I didn't make my own cards, I would absolutely send out these ones featuring a holiday deer puppet!

I just happened upon this photo by dullbluelight the other day, but it has resonated powerfully enough with me to qualify as one of the Things I Like. You can find it here.

"these are some dancin-ass fools" <--that is the title of this drawing

Peter Harren's delightful little drawings always bring a smile to my face. The dog has just the best little groovin' look on its face! I love it when a few simple lines can be so expressive!

And I liked this photo of a strange and beautiful doll (with mouse ears!) so much that I bought it! (New Year's resolution: next time there's a frame sale, get a frame for this and all the other pieces of art that are languishing around here unhung!)

Other good things from 2011:

As of late, I've suddenly ceased to be interested in sweet food and have been craving sour/salty/spicy/briny foods. I've been really impressed by Trader Joe's frozen Thai entrees, notably their Thai vegetable kao soi and their vegetarian pad thai. The sauces are wonderfully seasoned, complex and nuanced, and taste better than what I've had in some Thai restaurants. Since cooking is hard for me and eating out even harder, it's always nice to have something microwavable that really tastes good. I mean, frozen vegetables are frozen vegetables, but those sauces/broths/curries are delicious!

The charming Chunk, a stud dog
rescued from a pit bull puppy mill,
learned how to relate to other dogs
without humping while at BAD RAP
 and now he has a home!
I owe a lot of my happiness on a day-to-day basis to BAD RAP, those Bay Area Dog-lovers Responsible About Pitbulls who do some of the best pitbull-type-dog rescue, rehabilitation, and education in the country. They also happen to write well and take great photographs!  I follow them on Facebook and am a huge fan of their BAD RAP barn blog, which chronicles the exploits of the dogs living in BAD RAP's beautiful rescue barn in Oakland, CA. Several former barn dogs have blogs as well; I enjoy all of these things, as well as following former Vick dogs Cherry, Handsome Dan, and Ginger Girl on Facebook. There are too many sad dog stories in the world; I'm better off following these funny, thoughtful, positive rescues. If you're afraid of or ambivalent about pit bulls, BAD RAP is a great place to start learning about this misunderstood group of pups. I realize that it's very silly to spend time communicating with "dogs" online, but it makes me happy and finding reasons to be happy is vital for me. At the end of the day, it's better for me to look at pictures and follow blog posts about pit bulls like Chunk, above, than read Chekhov or serious in-depth articles about social injustice or other such things that I enjoyed in my pre-migraine life.

Meece, meet Mouse.
I'm also happy to have met Meece the Chocolate Mouse this fall. I haven't recovered enough from the concussion to resume work on the alphabet book nor do I feel up to sending out the Colors with Mouse manuscript again, but I do have an idea for a Meece & Mouse children's book that wouldn't be too hard for me to photograph! It wouldn't require writing poetry, either, so my writing brain doesn't need to be working for the project to be completed! I always like to have several different projects in different stages to work on, especially since my abilities vary from day to day. I have a mouse photo book that I promised someone last Christmas that is one of my priorities (it was that head injury's fault! I didn't leave the house except for medical appointments for months!) in 2012, but Meece & Mouse is one of the major projects I expect to be able to complete within the first six months of the new year.

I think this pomegranate photo is my favorite out of all the
thousands of pictures I took this year!
Oh, and now I have an ottoman, so I can sit in my armchair here in my study and put my feet up while I watch TV on the internet, crochet baby blankets (it's a good low-stress-on-the-eyes activity), or dictate blog posts. (Confession: I am NOT dictating this blogpost with my headset and speech recognition software, but I have written others that way.) So, despite the ongoing chronic migraines and setbacks like head injuries and frequently being ill simply because the wind is blowing, I've found things to be happy about this year. I except 2012 to trundle along more or less in the same fashion, but look forward to any NICE surprises that may be lurking around the corner!

1 comment:

  1. So happy to see our print on your lovely blog, Colleen !
    We're glad you liked it !
    We wish you an amazing new year !
    Ildiko & Flavia