Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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That Other Form of Creativity: The New Fall TV Season

I miss LOST.

When LOST ended, I realized there would be very little on TV that interested me. In fact, as this new fall season was approaching, I commented to my hubby that I was pretty unfamiliar with any of the new shows.

Then I saw a listing of new shows in the NY Times. And I watched a few preview clips on YouTube. As of now, I still don’t think I’m missing much.

It started with The X-Factor. Perhaps you couldn’t miss knowing about this show between the online ads and media chatter. I watched/listened to an hour of the premiere while working on my new series of artwork. 60 minutes of it was all I could tolerate. I really don’t like watching the auditions. Some of it can be very painful to watch and hear.

This year was the first time I’ve ever watched American Idol. I was more curious about Steven Tyler and how he’d act on the show. Here, too, the auditions were tedious and the commercials annoying. Cut to the chase please. After while, the show began to wear on me. The judges were almost too nice. I mean, when I can hear a contestant singing off key and no judge comments on it, something isn’t right.

Anyways, singing and dance talent shows just don’t do it for me.

Person of Interest: Did you see this show? It caught my eye because Michael Emerson is in it. You’ll remember him as Ben Linus from LOST. The show is also a Bad Robot (J.J Abrams) production. Same folks who brought us LOST. So I thought it would be worth checking out.

Impression: Eh. The premise behind the show, the government tracking its citizens post 9/11, storing data, recording your every move, and using this information to stop a situation before it happens sounded intriguing. But I’m not so sure the characters are interesting enough to keep me interested. Michael Emerson was okay. James Caviezel was a little flat. I give it a B-.

Terra Nova: Another show I saw previews of over the summer. It looked like LOST meets Jurassic Park in the previews. The two-hour premiere confirmed that, right down to the tall gates built to keep the dinos out and the people in. Steven Spielberg is behind this mega budget show with the CGI dinosaurs. I like Jason O’Mara, who plays the father in this series and who I last saw in “Life on Mars” (US version.) And some of the action sequences were entertaining. But overall, just like Person of Interest, the characters aren’t terribly intriguing. In some ways the show feels a bit like “Land of the Lost.” I give it a C.

Project Runway: Okay, this show started back in August and I’d already missed two episodes before I knew it was back on the schedule. I’m a late-comer to Project Runway. I started watching a few seasons back, when they did their last show in CA before moving back to NY.  This show has become my secret obsession. However I’m not feeling very attached to any of the designers this season. No one has been a real standout. But I still watch. I like Tim Gunn. I do wish Michael Kors would wear something other than that same black outfit.

I was thrilled to see an ad for the upcoming Project Runway All-Stars series featuring Mondo from last season. He should’ve won Season 8. I think its great he’ll get another chance.

Once Upon a Time: This show doesn’t start until October 23 on ABC. It appears to be this odd mingling of children’s fairy tales and real life where the “real life” characters are the actual characters living in the fairy tales. Huh? It comes from two producers from LOST. Check out the trailers here. This one could be very interesting.

Work of Art: This is the Project Runway equivalent for artists. 14 artists compete for a $100,000 prize and a solo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The premiere season last year was pretty good and I’m glad Abdi took the competition. The show returns on Bravo on October 12

Alcatraz: Another J.J. Abrams show featuring another LOST alum, Jorge Garcia (remember him as Hurley?). Due to debut in 2012. Lots of chatter about this show but I don’t quite get the premise. A bunch of inmates disappear from Alcatraz 50 years ago and reappear in modern day CA. And they haven’t aged since they disappeared. Do they seek revenge? Do they go on a crime spree? Do I care?

So these are just a few of the new shows I’ve watched or put on my calendar. I haven’t bothered with any of the comedies or dramedies or other reality TV shows. Nothing there seemed of interest to me. And really, some evenings I’d just rather be in the studio.

What about you? Are you watching any of the new shows this season? How about the older shows, like House (now he’s in prison?) or Modern Family?

Do you even watch TV on a telly or do you watch online?


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When Life Tells You To Slow Down

Note: This post has been through several iterations since I started writing it last month. I alluded to my health issues in an earlier post reflecting on my 2010 word of the year. This post goes a little more in depth on how those weeks of uncertainty called me to slow down and think about the direction I want to take in life. Be forewarned that this post may contain too much information.

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It all started in November and got crazier the weekend of Thanksgiving.

Let me preface that by saying I’m a 47 year old female. I know changes lurk around the corner. You know, that time our mother’s referred to as “the change” or “the change of life.” Growing up, that phrase was sometimes followed by stories of women growing facial hair, going “nuts” and essentially turning into something that resembled Fiona Ogre in the “Shrek” movies.

I certainly hope time and attitudes have changed.

As I said, I’m 47 and moving toward menopause. I believe I’ve been experiencing subtle symptoms of perimenopause for the past few years. Some sources report that a woman can begin experiencing these changes up to 10 years before the actual onset of menopause. No wonder many women hate their 40’s. Personally, I’ve loved being in my 40’s. It has felt like the right age for me. Unfortunately, on the health front, it is in our 40’s when our bodies pay us back for the abuse we may have given it in our 20’s and 30’s, whether you’re a woman or a man.

I have herniated discs, bouts with GERD, creaking knees, and tinnitus. All manageable issues that do their best, at times, to make me feel, ahem “middle aged.”

And then there is the perimenopause.

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a fibroid. Fibroids are very common in women in our western culture. There is no definitive cause for fibroids. It could be estrogen overload, it could be hereditary. One statistic I read stated that up to 75% of women have fibroids. For many women, the fibroid(s) never act up or pose any problem.

And then there are the rest of us. We must be the special chosen-ones.

Everything has been manageable these last few years. My doctor and I have taken a conservative “watch and wait” approach. Then in November things got a little out of control.

There was the biopsy to rule out uterine cancer, the ultrasound to see what was going on inside, and the two sets of blood work. (Make that four blood tests throughout the month of December.)

One blood test indicated I was hypothyroid, a common diagnosis for women in perimenopause. The next blood test said my thyroid was normal but that I was anemic. By the end of the week I’d learned that the biopsy was negative (Yea!) and the ultrasound showed more fibroids.

Now the picture was getting clearer. My hormones had apparently kicked my butt, dragged me down, and shook me up.

Lucky me.

So, why would I share with you something that is rather personal? Because I believe when our bodies put us through the wringer, it is a signal that we need to slow down and regroup. You may not agree with me and I respect that. But for me, I know my body and it was definitely screaming at me.

I also share this because women often suffer in silence during this phase of life. Sure we joke with our girlfriends and cry on our sister’s shoulders. But inside many women are afraid, unsure of what is happening to their bodies. Society, and perhaps core beliefs learned when we were kids, has told us that women are to be svelte, in control, forever youthful with porcelain skin and nary a gray hair in sight. Just look at some of the “Women’s Health” magazines. We take care of others until we drop.

Menopause means we’re getting old. Things start sagging and bagging. The kids leave home. We find ourselves facing a change of roles in our life. Who are we? What do we want to do with our new self?

During these last few weeks, I found myself slowing down, not only because I felt like crap, but also because my body was telling me to do so. I returned to daily meditation and daily reading of personally uplifting passages. My dreams became more vivid and I started to analyze their personal meaning. I had my first Reiki treatment. I released myself from all structure in my schedule.

Instead of blocking out time to get this or that task done, I wrote a one page to-do list. Whatever got done, got done. If I was tired, I took a nap. If I wanted to read, I read. If I wanted to watch TV, I watched it. I wrote in my journal almost every day, sometimes three times a day. I started exercising again, even if for only 15 minutes.

And I spent a fair amount of time thinking about my business. What is important and what isn’t. What I can let go of in order to create that which is most meaningful for me.

All of this has left me feeling empowered. My health is improving, a solution has been found, and a new plan put in place for moving me forward. I feel a burden lifting and a new door opening.

This time has not been easy. I’ve had more anxiety and stress than normal. Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and 10 steps back. I keep reminding myself that I am well, that I will be well, and that all will be well.

Writing this is cathartic. I admit to having prided myself on my health; that I wasn’t experiencing this or that problem. The risk in that attitude is the shock and fear that comes when life deals you a bum card. Granted my situation is not as bad as what some other women go through. However, when you think all is “normal” and then trip on the rug, it does make you stop and re-evaluate. Writing this is also part of my process of acceptance. Acceptance of this situation. Acceptance of the challenge. Acceptance of a new road ahead.

I jokingly refer to these last few weeks as my “power surge.” You know, there seems to be a double meaning in that phrase now that I think about it. As a result of this situation, I have started to release myself from certain commitments. In turn, new opportunities are already presenting themselves to me. I am moving forward into the power that this change in life is bringing me. I slowed down and I listened.

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During this time, I found the following resources to be of great value:

A GYN’s Second Opinion

Brigham & Women’s Hospital: Obstetrics & Gynecology

BWH: Center for Uterine Fibroids

Advanced Gynecological Solutions

As always, talk to your doctor. Write down your questions and write down what the doctor tells you. Don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion. This is your body. You need to be at peace with any decision you make.


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MRI Update

Just a quick post. I received my MRI results today. I was surprised to learn that I have a small disc bulge at L3-L4 and a herniated disc at L4-L5. From what I’ve learned in some brief research, a disc bulge is considered stage 1, a herniated disc is stage 2, and a ruptured disc is considered stage 3 on the damage level.

I’m not sure if this is due to an accident, muscle weakness, muscle misuse, or some combination. (Notice I didn’t say “old age” 🙂 ) Next up is to schedule an appointment with a recommended neurosurgeon for further evaluation and physical therapy.

While I haven’t had the severe pain and irritation, I have had some tingling in my right leg and foot. Of course, after getting my results my back did start to ache a bit more. Darn that power of suggestion!

I’m going to see if I can get a copy of my MRI. I’d love to see the pictures. I’m fascinated with this stuff.

Studio

Work for Paradise City continues. Today I’ve focused mainly on another cat sculpt. No peekie until he is ready for his debut.


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The MRI

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my chronic issues with sciatic pain. Late last week I had my annual physical and mentioned my concerns to my doctor.

After a series of questions, which left me feeling like I should’ve said “Look, I have cramping/muscle tightness in my right and left glute, cramping in the back of my right calf, muscle tightness in the back of my left thigh, numbness and/or tingling in the bottom of my right and left foot and it might happen every day, a few times a week, or some combination thereof. Spin the wheel and let’s see what combination happens today!” my doctor recommended I have an MRI of the lumbar region.

Oh, oh. I was hoping for a simple x-ray first. He explained that the best way to view the spine was with an MRI.

So I left his office with referrals in hand for an MRI for bilateral sciatic pain and for physical therapy.

The MRI took place this past Saturday.

At first I wasn’t very nervous about the procedure. Then I started to feel a little anxious after talking to people about their experiences. I wondered if I could go through with it.

I tried to picture myself in the MRI. I started calling it the “hot dog bun.”

I woke up on Saturday morning at 5am in a slight panic. My head was telling me I couldn’t do this. That I was “gonna freak out” in the tube. Great! I rolled over onto my back and laid flat for 20 minutes repeating the mantra “I am calm. I am relaxed.” Sometimes, on the inhale I’d silently say “calm” and then say “relax” on the exhale.  Eventually I fell back to sleep.  I also proved to myself that I could lay flat for 20 minutes. (I knew I’d be in the MRI for 20-30 minutes.)

The alarm went off at 8am. I had to be at the hospital at 10:30am. I kept repeating my mantra silently in my head throughout the morning and while driving to the hospital.

When I walked into the MRI, I was promptly greeted with “Hi Amy, they’re ready for you.”

Oh yippee, skippy. No time to sit and wait. No time to get nervous.

Actually, this is a good thing.

I’m shown to the changing room (johnnies, pants and you can keep your socks on) HospitalJohnny

and then told to wait in chair just outside the MRI chamber. I can hear the dull thud of magnets in the distance. Thud, thud, thud.

The MRI tech comes out, escorts me into the suite and asks me a few more questions. I lay down on the table and stare at the huge skylight. I’m given a set of earplugs and headphones. I opt to listen to classical music. I tilt my head backwards and see the MRI tube behind me. Small gulp. The tech puts a pillow under my knees, gives me a little rubber ball to squeeze if I need help, asks me if I’m okay, and rolls me into the hot dog bun.

I keep my eyes open briefly as I pass under the beginning of the tube. Then I shut my eyes tight and start my mantra. I’m supposed to be in the MRI for 30 minutes. Oh yes, you have to stay very, very still.

During the course of testing I think about our trip to Nova Scotia…there is a cool breeze blowing over my head. Where is that coming from? I repeat my mantra. I start thinking odd things and actually start relaxing. I am tempted to open my eyes to see what the inside of this tube really looks and feels like. I decide that probably isn’t the best thing to do.

Periodically the tech checks in via a speaker to ask how I’m doing and to tell me how much longer I’ll be in the tube. At one point there is complete silence as he prepares to take pictures from some other angle. I start to doze and then the bang, bang, bang starts again. I feel my body jolt. And then I have to keep myself from laughing! I can’t believe I started to fall asleep during the MRI.

This is oddly meditative!

Eventually the test is complete and I open my eyes as the tech rolls me out of the tube. I imagine this is what it must be like in a space capsule. The MRI tech tells me that he got “lots of good shots.” I tell him thank you and I look forward to seeing a different side of me.

I leave the hospital relieved that the MRI is finished. It wasn’t a bad experience at all thanks to my mantra.

I’ll get the results on Tuesday and see what road I go down next.


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It’s A Dirty Job But Someones Got To Do It

On Monday our septic system was cleaned for the first time. This was a new experience for us as our previous house was in a town with a sewer system. Of course I had to do some photo documentation of the whole event. When you work by yourself you sometimes find entertainment in the small things.

septictruck

The septic company was BlueWater Septic. Nice shiny truck. A good sign.

How many men does it take to find a septic tank?

Looking for the tank

Looking for the tank

Found It!

Found It!

Once the tank cover is located, the digging begins.

Digging in the dirt

Digging in the dirt

septicdighole2

Rabbit Hole revealed

Rabbit Hole revealed

I was pleased with how neatly he removed the grass and dirt. Scores high points in my book.

Prepare for a loud sucking sound.

septichose

Heave-Ho the Hose

Heave-Ho the Hose

Oh My!

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With the hose assembled the fun part of the job is about to begin. If you look closely, you’ll see he has a remote control device on his hip. This was used to turn the hose on and off and to switch between drawing out the contents and refilling the tank with water and microbes.

septicsucking

Wonder what he is looking at.

septicsucking2

Talking Chit

Talking Chit

When the tank was cleaned and refilled the hole was returned to its original condition.

Dude, don't fall in

Dude, don't fall in

"They'll never know I was ever here"

"They'll never know I was ever here"

I chuckled as he cleaned up. He walked around the circle twice, tamping down the turf and sweeping away the excess dirt. He even brought out a bucket with grass seed and sprinkled it over the area.

I’ve been thinking about putting a labyrinth in the yard someplace. Now that I know the location of the septic tank lid, I have an idea where NOT to put the labyrinth. I don’t think a labyrinth over a septic tank would be good ju-ju.

As Erma Bombeck once said, “the grass is always greener over the septic tank” (and is the first spot where the snow melts in the winter.)


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Friday Folly

No silly pictures this time. Just some silly words that I came across in an old Signals catalog I found while I cleaning in the studio.

Scintillate, scintillate asteroid manikin
(A multi-syllabic version of Twinkie Twinkle Little Star.)

Missiles of ligneous or petrous consistency
have the potential of fracturing my gaseous structure,
but appellations will eternal remain innocuous.
(The erudite way to say “Sticks and Stones may break my bones.”)

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobic
(The fear of really long words.)


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Art in Science

Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality. -von Goethe

The 2007 Owlstone Photography Competition winners and finalists were recently announced.  This photography competition takes place at the University of Cambridge Engineering Department in the United Kingdom and is sponsored by Owlstone Nanotech.  All 2007 participants are students or alumni of the engineering department.

Among my favorites is this image of “Fat Free Fibers” taken by engineering student Kerstyn Comley.

Pig fat cell

Can you guess what this is?

To see more of the student entries, click here.

To see the alumni entries, click here.