Saturday, October 31, 2009

Doo, doo, doo lookin' out my backdoor...

There are no giants doing cartwheels or statuary high heels and I'm not looking at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.   What I am looking at is this:

That really is the view from my backdoor.  On the whole, I'd rather have a dinosaur listening to Buck Owens.  We got somewhere around 2 feet of snow and a lot of wind to push it around to create some interesting drifts.  It started melting today and for some reason we had power failures on and off throughout the whole day.  Ever try to paint mini door frames by candelight?  I'll wait till the light of day tomorrow and see if I painted trim or created a road map!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The humerous side of hair

Wanna see my hair?

Actually, that's not all of my hair.  There's about another foot of it that didn't fit into the picture.  A total of a little over 4 feet in all.  I'm not sure the last time I cut my hair (besides trimming the ends) but I think it was around 18 years ago.  I wore it short for about 5 years in my late 20s but other than that, I've had long hair all my life.

Mother Nature made me a natural blonde but I like playing with colors.  After my divorce, I was a redhead for awhile.  That was a lot of fun since I discovered Loreal's 7 day temporary colors.  I changed my hair color about every other week. 

When I tried Nutmeg, I knew that I'd found my happy color.  To be specific, it was Clairol #43.  It took two boxes to do all that hair but it was worth it.  It was such a pretty color..........dark brown with red highlights.  I loved it and happily put being a blonde behind me.  Bruce made jokes about artificial intelligence.   

I did notice one thing when I went brunette.  At that time I was playing in the corporate world and discovered that people took me more seriously when I was brunette then when I was a blonde.  Hmmm.  There's a whole different subject there about how appearance effects perception but I won't get into that now.

Where was I?  Oh, 4 feet of hair.  It was really thick and heavy and soft.  I took good care of it and there wasn't a split end on it anywhere. 

About a year ago I had to give up dying it because it got to be too hard to do.  Fortunately the dye I use is semi permanent so it faded instead of having a line where the dye ended.  So that wasn't a problem.  I figured I'd just let it go white and be proud of my long salt and pepper hair. 

But it's been getting harder and harder to take care of and even brushing and braiding it were really painful and so was the weight on my neck and head.  With the upcoming surgeries, I was really wondering how I could take care of all that hair for several months with only one hand.

After a great deal of thought I did what I had to do.  I cut it all off. 

Sitting in the salon chair crying like a baby was not one of my finer moments so we'll just skip on past that part.  I had the stylist braid it nicely for me and I'm sending it to Locks of Love.  That helps ease the separation.

So now I'm adjusting to having short hair again and it's been kinda funny. 

Bruce has never seen me as a blonde so he's had to make some adjustments.  We were in the grocery store and he went off to find something and lost me when he came back.  He wasn't looking for a blonde.

A clerk at the store called me "miss" instead of "ma'am".  That was nice! 

Running my fingers thru my hair doesn't take nearly as long.  I'll be saving a lot of time doing that now.  It's just sort of "ssspp" and it's done.  It's such a novel experience that I've been doing it a lot.  Just running my fingers thru my hair and thinking about what I can do with the extra 45 seconds that I'm saving on that. 

I don't have to locate my braid and shift it over the front of my shoulder when I go to the bathroom anymore.

Bruce isn't getting hit in the face with the end of my braid in the middle of the night when I roll over and flip it out of the way in my sleep.   He hasn't said but I'm sure he's a lot happier about not feeling like he's sleeping next to a horse with a hyperactive tail. 

The first couple of mornings I woke up and wandered into the bathroom, turned on the light, glanced in the mirror and went, "ACK!!!"  It wasn't the shock of not seeing my hair, it was the short hair standing up in spikes all over my head like it was trying to contact the mother ship!  It may take a little time to get used to that.

I braced myself to remember that it was gone the first time I shampooed it so I wouldn't freak out when I reached back to pull it up on top of my head in the shower.  That worked.  What I forgot was that all I needed was a teaspoon of shampoo instead of a quarter cup.  I almost drowned myself in all that lather!  I don't think that two inches of hair has ever been cleaned that well before! 

There's a certain way of dealing with long hair when you get out of the shower and if you've had hair past your shoulders, you know what it is.  If you've never had long hair, I'll explain it. 

Bending over at the waist, you towel dry the hair first.  That can take awhile and you have to stretch to reach it all, but a good towel rubbing gets most of the water out.  Dropping the towel, you bend a little further forward at the waist and your upper body compresses in on itself just a little bit like a coiled spring.  Your body shifts its center of balance down and you rise up just a little bit onto the balls of your feet. With a bit of a dip and a slight flip, you fling your upper body up and backwards, jerking your head in a backward arch.  This sends all the hair flying in a smooth movement upward and over your head, then completing the circle by landing against your back.  The weight of all that wet hair keeps your body in balance.  The whole point of this is to get your hair straight down your back without tangling and it works really well.

Okay, it works for long hair.

If your hair is only two inches long, it becomes something completely different. 

If the bathroom door hadn't been closed, I'd have flung myself clean out into the hallway.

I think I can be pretty sure I won't be doing that one again.    The funniest thing is that I could see the expression on my face in the mirror and it was hilarious. 
I miss my hair and probably will for a long time.  Long hair is like rings in a tree.  I can chart various parts of my life..........actually hold them in my portions of my hair.  This segment was my divorce years, that segment was the happy time with a certain lover, another section is the years of re-discovery of myself and yet another is the time my life began anew with Bruce.  All those memories are part of me and always will be no matter how long my hair is, but in my hair I could hold it in my hands and feel as if I were there again.  More meaningful is having to admit that I can't do something that I've done all my life.  It feels like giving up a part of my independence and that's been a hard choice to make.

But all that aside, my new short hair look is lighter, feels good and looks good.  I'll play with being a blonde for awhile and then I might go back to being a redhead for awhile or I might do something with streaks.  Oh, and the other good thing is that short hair looks better with hats.  I'm a hat freak and have a HUGE collection of hats.  Everything from funky cowboy hats to velvet and lace 1920 flapper styles to a genuine 1910 velvet lady's riding hat from Paris.  I have bold hats and demure hats and elegant hats and chic berets and hats just for fun.  I haven't worn any of them in a long time because they just didn't look quite right with long hair so I'll be breaking out my hat boxes and rediscovering the fun of having people stare at me on the street.   

Maybe that's a good way to celebrate the life change of cutting my hair.  I think I'll head to one of the antique malls and find a new hat!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hard Wiring a Greenleaf Brimbles Mercantile

When I started the Brimbles, I promised that I would show how to hard wire it as it was being built.  I'm a big fan of hard wiring altho I know others who are just as passionate about tape wire or hybrid wiring.  It's all a matter of what you're most comfortable with and what works best for the house you're building.  I've taped wired a couple of houses and then settled on hard wiring because it works best with my building style of painting/wallpapering/etc before I assemble the house.  I also like the fact that it's easier to change my mind and add, change or remove lights later on if the mood strikes me.

So, here we go!  It may look a little strange for the shelves to already have the contents staged on them, but for me it's easier to stage small items with a pair of tweezers before the shelves are put in place.  Wise Ways is a themed house so I don't intend on moving things around in it as I would with a regular dollhouse, therefore the shelf contents are all glued down.  I dust with a can of air and a make-up brush so having the contents permanently set in place isn't a problem. 

I made lamps for the shelves using grain of wheat bulbs and real sea shells.  Give that a try sometime!  My fairy house has a sea shell lamp too and they're just really cool because the light picks up the colors and designs in the shell from both inside and out.  The shadowing is killer.

I also found some really cool GOW bulbs in the model train section at Hobby Lobby that are mounted into a little black base.  How perfect is that for a lamp!

There are two lighted crystal balls on the shelves too.  My tutorial for the lighted crystal balls is here.  For Wise Ways I used jewelry findings to hide the bulb but either one works nicely. 

Anyway, back to wiring!  Brimbles shell was mostly assembled except for the roof and the two side panels that are on either side of the opening.  I mapped out my wiring diagram using a white dressmaker's pencil so I knew where everything was going to be.  Many of the lights are either on the shelves or inside display cases so it was important to know exactly where they would be located.

I started with the shelves downstairs and put the lamps in place, running the wires down the back of the shelves, taping them in place with black electrical tape.

  I positioned the shelves and used my white pencil to mark where the wires would be going thru the first floor.

I removed the plugs, ran the wires thru the floor and taped them in place with black tape, then reattached the plugs.

I did that with both shelving units and then started work on the downstairs ceiling lights.

Using my earlier marks, I drilled holes in the ceiling for each light.  The holes don't have to be big, just large enough for the wire to go thru.  Then I used my dremel to score trenches into the floor from each hole to the closest corner or wall to each wire. The trenches don't have to be perfect, just deep enough for the wire to sit down into just under floor level.  There are four lights coming thru the ceiling, two in the center and two just slightly left of the front wall.  There is also a porch lantern, so I drilled a hole thru the porch roof and then another in the front wall just above floor level.  The porch roof has a cap so the wires for the lantern will be hidden under it, I simply needed to make sure that the hole in the wall was below the level of the cap.

In each outer corner of the second floor, I drilled a small U shape large enough for a bundle of six wires to pass thru. 

I removed the plug from each light (it's a good idea to keep a small container on your workspace to hold the plugs and contact poles because those little brass poles will run away in a heart beat if you don't fence them in)  Then I ran each wire up thru the hole, applying gentle pull until the light fixture was firmly seated on the ceiling. The key word is "gentle".  After fumbling around and cussing a lot trying to get the wires thru the holes, I learned that if I shine a flashlight down thru the hole, I can almost always get the wire thru on the first try.    I'm not sure that yelling "Go to the light! Go to the light!" at the wires helps, but it amuses me so I do that too.   Laying the wires inside the trenches, I ran my finger over them to make sure they were flush with the floor and then covered them completely with black tape.

I ran the wire for the porch lantern thru the hole in the wall and reattached the plug, then plugged it into a single receptacle extension wire.  I'll show you how to hide the plug in a few minutes.

It's easier to continue working with more wires if the ones that are already in place aren't running amuck.  I've noticed that wires are actually wild things that will run all over the place, ranging with other wires in gangs and then rumbling with rival gangs.   At least that's been my experience with stereo wires, computer wires, kitchen appliances and dollhouses.  One of these days I'll so further research into the nocturnal lifestyles of wires to find out what they're doing when we're sleeping, write a documentary on it and have it put on the Discovery Channel.  Or maybe not. 

Where was I?  Oh yeah, I was subduing the wild wires.  Since I'm done with the ceiling lights, I moved all the wires to the corner where my U shape is cut and ran them down thru the opening.  I'll put them into a hiding space in a little bit, but for now I just taped them to the side of the house to keep them in one place and prevent them from tangling up.  I did that on both sides.

Cover the wiring with your flooring, bringing the edges of the flooring up to the wires running along side the wall but not covering them.  We'll do that with the faux shelves in a little while. 

Speaking of flooring, one of the best choices for flooring that will cover your wiring neatly and looks *fabulous* is the Greenleaf vinyl hardwood floor strips.  If you've never used it, you're missing out on the best flooring ever.  It looks exactly like hardwood flooring with a gorgeous laminated wood grain.  The strips are die cut and self adhesive so you pull one strip at a time off the backing and lay it on your floor just as you would a real house.  The result?  OMG, it's just like real life hardwood flooring!  I mean, it's perfect!  The fact that it's 1/8" thick means that you don't have any ridges or bumps showing from the wiring or trenches too.  You can also add a coat of poly varnish to the top and have a shine that makes miniature people tremble in fear at the idea of walking on it in their stocking feet.  I've used it on several houses and absolutely love it.  If you haven't tried it, grab a pack and give it a go.  You'll be sooooo happy that you did because it looks rich, elegant and totally real.  Since it's only sold at the Greenleaf webstore, it's one of the little known treasures in the mini world.  You can see it here.  (btw, the vinyl tiles are just as awesome and the birch tiles rock my world.  They're what I used for the downstairs floors in Wise Ways but I've also used them for parquet floors in my Willowcrest ballroom, my Beacon Hill bedroom and tower room and several others)

But back to wiring! With the ceiling wires out of the way, I moved on to the shelf and display lights on the second floor.  Again, I have the lights already attached to the shelves.  There are two pea lights in the bottom of the crystal ball display case and those wires exit the case thru a hole drilled in the back.

My favorite way of hiding wires in baseboards is to use flat channel strips that are normally used for the bottom of porch and staircase railings.  The channel groove is just the right size for hiding several wires and they're flat enough and wide enough to make perfect baseboards. 

In this corner, I have a shelf with one light, so I attached the wire to the back of the the shelf, then ran it to the corner and covered it with my channel baseboard.  The baseboard extends to the point where I'm going to be adding a cover for the plugs.  I also put a desk with a lamp under that window and ran the wire for the lamp to the same spot where it will hide with the others.

The crystal ball display goes in the middle of the back wall and I already have my baseboard installed from the right corner behind the shelf to the line I marked for the right side of the display case.  I measured the distance from the left side of the display cabinet to the left wall and cut a piece of channel baseboard to fit.  It's easier for me to attach the baseboard to the display case in a single unit so I don't have to fuss with pushing the wires into place later.  The wires are taped down to the back of the case and securely into the channel.

I put the display case into position.  You can see that the baseboard doesn't go all the way to the wall, but there's a reason for that.  The lab table will go into that space and I have some wiring to take into consideration for it.

The wires from the display case are too short to reach the corner of the wall, so I plugged them into extension cords and attached the plugs to the side of the unit facing the back wall so it wouldn't push the back of the unit too far away from the side wall, hence the reason for the baseboard attached to the display case not reaching all the way to the corner.

I put the lab table in place, making sure that the wires for it and for the display case all extend out from the edge of the table. I used a three plug extension here.

Planning ahead, I knew that my 2nd floor ceiling lights that will be installed in the roof are going to need an extension cord, so I went ahead and added the cord here (not seen in the picture), running the wire down to the foundation with the other wires.  The outlet is left up here with the others so I can simply plug in my ceiling lights when they're installed.

To hide the plugs on both sides of the room, I built very simple, yet servicable, shelves using two pieces of bass wood creating half a box.  This unit is just tack glued to hold it in place in the event I need to troubleshoot a light, replace one or add another.  For now, I left it loose until after I've plugged in my ceiling lights. (sorry the picture seems out of sequence......I forgot to take a picture of that step and had to use one of the rough drafts taken when I was dry fitting everything)

it doesn't look like much in this picture, but the end result is a low shelf that I filled with books.  I forgot to order drawer pulls when I was building but as soon as they get here, I'll make faux drawer fronts to be added to the front of the shelf so it appears that there is extra storage there.  You can see the corners of the shelves in the next two pictures to give you an idea of placement and of the space created underneath for the plugs and outlets.

Now that I have all my wires on the second floor in place, I bundled them all together neatly with strips of black electrical tape and snugged them down into the U shapes in each corner of the floor.  It's important to make sure they all sit down proper into the U because the side panel walls will be installed flush with the edges of the floors here.

To hide the wires, I used a deeper channel trim cut to fit floor to ceiling and tucked the wires inside it.  From the inside of the shop, this appears to be a nice corner moulding. I glued it to the side wall to hold it in place.

Finally all the wires are located under the floor where they should be!  I taped them all up to avoid rumbles while I installed the dormer windows and put on the roof (which is done simultaneously with the Brimbles!)  The side panels of wall on the the opening are also added to the assembly at this time so your wiring is completely covered.

The second floor ceiling lights are installed the same way as the first floor.  Drill your holes and trenches into the roof, install the lights and lay your wires into the trenches to be covered with black tape, ends of the wires running down thru a U shaped hole in the corner of the roof.  Then there's the challenge of how to cover the wiring on the roof.  I thought about that for a little while and decided that there's no need to overcomplicate things.  I measured a piece of poster board to fit the roof, painted it brown and glued it down.  Brimbles has a really cool double roof trim so you don't see the edges of the posterboard and it came out nicely.

The wires from the 2nd floor ceiling fixtures come down thru the inside corner of the second floor.  Fortunately it's nearly impossible to see this area even looking thru the windows (unless you stand on your head and how often do you find yourself in that position when you're admiring a finished dollhouse?) so you can tack glue the wires to the sloped corner of the roof down to the point where it meets with the straight walls. I used another piece of channel moulding to hide the wires from this point to the floor.  My ceiling lights were plugged into extension wires and the plugs were hidden under the faux shelves.

I made one last check to be sure that everything worked, and then taped all the wires down into place under the house foundation and plugged them all into the power strip.  I drilled a very small inverted U shape in the foundation for the cord from the power strip to run thru so the foundation remains flush with the base.

And that's it!  Brimbles is all hard wired and ready to go!

I know Kate and a couple of other people have told me that they'll be wiring a Brimbles soon so I hope that this helps.  If I missed anything or wasn't clear, leave me a comment and I'll try to clarify.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Grand Re-Opening of Wise Ways Emporium!

When I built the first Wise Ways Emporium the Brimbles Mercantile kit by Greenleaf wasn't in production. Oh, occasionally one might be found on eBay but overall they were scarce as hen's teeth and if one did pop up on eBay, it carried a price tag the size of Wyoming or was in deplorable condition. Therefore I didn't have much hopes of ever getting my hands on one. Sarah Ann was terribly disappointed but we made do with an RGT Front Opening Shoppe picked up at one of Ernie's 50% off sales. I liked the interior but the exterior left a lot to be desired. It just didn't have the personality and character of the rest of my back opening houses.

And then came the glorious day when trumpets sounded and a light shone down from the sky, bathing the Greenleaf webstore in a white glow........the Brimbles had been re-released in laser cut!  Be still my heart!  I danced around a little while, sang a few choruses of "Happy, happy, joy, joy" and danced around a little more.  Napoleon thought I'd flipped but he often thinks that so after looking up from his nap with one eye still closed, he sighed and went back to sleep.  Sometimes that cat exhibits a serious lack of enthusiasm.

On the other hand, I got a Brimbles into my hot little hands faster than a cheap dress comes off on prom night!  I opened the box and did the "junkie-inhale" of the wood smell and spent a great deal of time petting the wood and murmuring softly to myself.  Yes, it was a dream come true.

Sarah Ann observed all this quietly until her patience reached it's end and then commented, "Lovely.  Now do you want to stop acting the fool and build the damned thing?"    Sarah Ann is my Great Grandmother so she can talk to me that way.  For those of you who haven't heard the story of Wise Ways, it is a tribute to my Great Grandmother, a true wise woman.  You can read a little about her life here.  In fact, I kinda recommend that you do, otherwise you won't understand the joke about why my Great Grandfather looks like Kermit and lives in a cage. 

I sent pictures of my Great Grandmother to Gina Gagnon of Lone Wolf Miniatures and had her create a custom doll for me.  Gina did a fabulous job and my mini Sarah Ann is the spitting image of my Great Grandmother.  But you can see why it was so important to me that Wise Ways Emporium be absolutely perfect.  The RGT just wasn't cutting it, but the Brimbles.........ah, the Brimbles is everything I wanted and more.  It's a fitting home for a tribute to my heritage.

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, since the Brimbles is laser cut, it didn't take long to build it.  That was fortunate because Sarah Ann started packing up the store as soon as I picked up the first piece of wood and she'd moved half the inventory into the store before I even had the roof on!  And I wonder where I inherit my lack of patience!  LOL!  Since Brimbles has more space, we were able to expand the research room upstairs and add a garden outside.  I think that Great Grandma would have liked that a lot.  We also added lights and even made some glowing crystal balls and some lovely sea shell lamps. All in all, I think it's the perfect emporium for witches and wizards with a large inventory, a nice space to research or just hang out, and a little bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

So without any further ado, welcome to the Grand Re-Opening of Wise Ways Emporium! 

Sarah Ann is thrilled with the exterior of the shop. 

Finally a place for a rocking chair and her geraniums!

The Rose of Sharon cutting that she put in is taking hold nicely.

The garden is her pride and joy!  You can even see the famous Balm of Gilead tree growing next to the porch. 

I'm not sure if she bought the bullfrog bird bath or if it's someone we used to know.  It's probably better not to ask.

Napoleon swears that he's not going to eat the fish.  He's just counting them to make sure they're all there.  Nope, wouldn't even think of eating those little bitty fish.  He just wishes I'd get the hell out of there with the camera so he can get on with "counting" them.

I really love the Goddess statue in the garden. 

Come on inside and look around!

Upstairs is the research room.

There's a really nice converstation area where customers can sit down and relax a little bit with a cup of tea (or something stronger), listen to some music and read or chat with friends. 

Here's the lab table that Sarah Ann added to the research room.  It's turning into a very popular feature with customers who like to have space and resources to experiment with new spells.  I'm not sure if the mice are ingredients for a spell or the results of one, but it's quite likely that when the kitty on the top shelf finishes his fish appetizer, there will be a three course mouse dinner on the menu.

Phil O'Dendron popped in to say hi and do a little research.  We never ask the customers what they're working on, but Phil has mentioned something about a "jack and the beanstalk" theory.

Downstairs, the morning sun pours thru the windows just before opening time.

This is Sarah Ann's favorite time of day as she prepares for her customers.  On the wall behind her, you can see the picture taken of her on the day she received the deed to her land.

There has been lots of new inventory added to the store.  This month's special is on apples.  Sarah Ann keeps a basket of them on the counter.  If you want to put a spell on them, that's entirely up to you.  Even without the spell, they're delicious! 

Somehow a litter of ginger kittens has gotten into the store and the little fellows are everywhere.  One of them is falling off the counter by the candles and another one is batting parchment scrolls around on the table.  One has taken up residence in the chairs upstairs and there's another chasing a mouse at Sarah Ann's feet behind the counter.  Good thing she likes cats!

Maharet and Percutio have stopped in to do some shopping and visit with Sarah Ann.  Maharet has been considering a new scrying mirror and I think that today she's made her final choice.  Napoleon has been insisting on the one with the cat frame and I think that's the one she's finally decided on.

Percutio seems a little puzzled about why this plant keeps calling him "Seymour".   (Just a word of caution, please don't feed the plants at Wise Ways)

If you'd like to see more pics of the new Wise Ways, drop into my website,  

**happy dancing**  I'm really excited about the new Wise Ways.  It's everything that I had hoped it would be.  I moved it upstairs to the living room last night where it has pride of place in the center of the room.  Later on next spring (when I have time and the use of both hands) I'll be moving all three houses on Magick Street into one display and re-landscaping them as an actual street.  Until then, I'm quite content to sit in the middle of my living room and happily gaze at my little fantasy world come to life.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finding my way back

Poor little neglected blog. It's been so long since I've been here that I almost got lost on my way. There have been a lot of things going on lately and unfortunately I've had to limit my time at the keyboard.

I saw the "hand specialist" last week. My rheumatologist called him that but his real title is "surgeon". I'd held off as long as I could but will power can only do so much. I had hoped that he would have some other tricks up his sleeve but that was unrealistic wishful thinking on my part. Surgery is the only option and it's required for both hands. He'll do the left one first and then the right one after the left has recovered. I was hopeful that it would be an endoscopy but he killed that dream too. (Nice guy but he was hell on my high hopes) He's going to have to do an open incision on the palm which means a longer recovery time. He said with the myofascia problems I have with my muscles the recovery might be longer than 6 weeks per hand. Hmmpf. He don't know me very well, do he?

I can deal with the surgery. If it's needed, it's needed and that's all there is to it. We'll get it over and done and I can get on with life. He said I'm not in the best category for it to be successful since the nerve damage may be permanent already, but if it doesn't get any worse than it is now, I can learn to live with it. "All better" would be the best situation but I'd settle for "no worse". I asked him why he didn't do both hands at the same time and he replied, "Because if I did, you wouldn't be able to wipe your butt". Ooooooooooooooooooookay. That's logic that I won't argue with.

Then there was the hard part. I've suspected it for awhile but it still felt like a kick in the stomach to hear that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. The blood tests show negative but he said that happens around 15-20% of the time. When he does the surgery he'll get a tissue biopsy that will be a little more conclusive. Even without the test results, my hands tell the tale. My fingers have all three of the stereotypical RA deformities already as well as rheumatoid nodules. It's the nodules that are most concerning since they will grow in internal organs such as the heart, liver and lungs. With my auto-immune issues, I'm prone to nodules and cysts anyway (14 in my thyroid alone) so I'm willing to bet that the heart and lung nodules are already there.

I see my rheumatologist later this month and we'll start being a lot more aggressive. Actually, I'm considering finding a different rheumatologist because she *hasn't* been more agressive already. I'm going to insist on an MRI on my hips as well as one to find out where the nodules are. There's no cure for RA so my only hope is to slow down the progression and that means early and aggressive treatment. I wear hand splints now but there are finger splints that can slow down the changing shapes and I should have been in those a long time ago. We'll be discussing DMARDs too but I know we can't start those till after the surgeries are over. I think there's a lot more that she could be doing and we're definitely going to start doing them now. If she isn't willing, then she'll be replaced. I'm also seeing a new internist with hopes that maybe she can see the whole A-I picture and maybe treat me as an entire person instead of a specific body part or disease.

It could be worse. It's not a fatal disease even tho it does effect mortality. I understand that on the average it can shorten a life span by 10 years, more if the rheumatoid nodules are present. Yet it's still difficult to come to terms with knowing my expiration date has been moved up and the quality of life I'll have up to that point probably won't be the greatest.

Been crying a lot but I think that's normal. I grieve for the silly how I used to be so proud of my hands. They were my one vanity and so perfect that I could have modeled them all the way into my late 30's. I wore rings on every finger and had more bottles of nail polish than a Revlon factory. My nails were shaped perfectly and grew long without even trying. Now I look down at my hands and see aliens. I'm also upset about deciding to cut my hair. There's no way I can take care of 4 feet of hair with one hand while the surgeries/recoveries are going on and even tho my hubby would willingly help it would only prolong the inevitable. I'm having a hard time handling a brush and braiding it now. There are days that the weight of it hurts my scalp. So I'm going to look for a short style that's wash-n-wear and take comfort in knowing that Locks of Love will have enough hair to make wigs for several kids. I already feel sorry for whichever poor beautician gets me in the chair because I know I'll be sobbing the whole way thru it.

See? That's all silly stuff. But it's easier to think about that then to think about losing my ability to create. Mother Goddess, please don't let that happen. Creating isn't what I do, it's who I am. It's my heart and soul. If I ever lose the ability to create it would be the loss of my spirit.

*deep breath* Not gonna happen. I'll find a way...............ANY keep the creative process going. There are work-arounds and I'll find them. I don't like this and I don't want this, but I've got it and there's no changing that. I can either deal with it or I can sit here and cry. I don't like to cry, it makes me tired. So I'll deal with it and adjust and always, always, always keep looking toward the next project.

There are lots of those too! I'm waiting for supplies to arrive for a custom Pierce that is going to be simply heavenly. It's going to be southern and as a misplaced southerner, that makes me sooooooooooo happy. Building this house will be like taking a trip back home. I think I can get the building part done and be down to the detailing before the surgeries start. I'm pretty sure I can shingle with just one hand! And then I have three big furniture for an elegantly gothic witch, one for the world's biggest Garfield and one for a bed and breakfast........and I'm going to fit those in too. I'll have one hand at a time and I'll learn how to be left handed if I need to! After those are done, I'm building a Tennyson for myself and then a Victorian Rosedale for another customer in the summer.

Those are the things I'm hanging on to. As long as I can look even one month ahead, or even one day ahead, and see myself building a dollhouse or dressing a bed, I'll be okay.

I've definitely gone past my limit on the keyboard tonight and ended up saying a lot of things I hadn't intended to say. What is it about a blog that makes you feel like you're talking to yourself even when you know the whole world could be listening? I thought about deleting it, but decided to just let it go. It's not a cheerful post but maybe in a few months I'll be able to look back and say "See? Things turned out better than I thought!".

I have a couple of awards to pick up and will do that soon. Thank you to Corwin and Casey! Oh, and I'll try to sneak back on here tomorrow and tell you about a really cool contest being held on the Greenleaf forum. It's all very light hearted and fun!