Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to Scratch

One way to end a nagging feeling of guilt is to completely remove the source.  These fabrics, all newly washed and ironed, were, until Friday, either wrapped on poles two and a half years ago for shibori or in a stack that was pre-mordanted for eco dyeing three years ago.  Everything to the left of the square is silk.  Everything to the right and including the square, linen and cotton.  Guilt at not dyeing up any of that fabric, gone.

Yes, the shibori pieces probably would have been awesome.  But I've already got pieces of shiboried silk that I haven't yet used and don't have plans to.  I've let go of the imperative to finish something I began several years ago.  And that feels great.

What doesn't feel so great a lot of the time is my back ~ actually from my neck down to my hips, I have recurring aches and pains.  Nothing major, at least not since I quit working and went on disability in 2011 from years of repetitive motion injuries to my upper right side.  Pain comes and goes and moves around.  The most difficult part for me is the fact that I'm only 65 and I feel as though I should be able to do a lot more than I really can.  Walking too far is difficult ~ my regular walk is a mile but often I have to cut it short.  I also can't stand on my feet for long periods of time.

A big part of my cutting way back on art making this year has to do with the fact that it simply hurts, physically, to do more than a little bit of anything.

The truth is, I totally burned myself out, physically, two life chapters ago.  Between 1995 and 2002, I homesteaded, solo, on rented property in the mountains of southern Humboldt.  From 1996 through 1998, I created and maintained, totally on my own, a large garden of primarily everlasting flowers on a steep, rocky hillside with no topsoil.  When I say I created and maintained this garden, which I called Rocky Rose Farm, I mean I double dug twelve 15 - 30 foot beds by hand in clay soil, continually amended them, put in a complex drip irrigation system that was a bitch to maintain because my garden water came from a low-running creek so I was constantly fiddling with the T-tape and emitter gizmos, I planted, tended and harvested twice a day in the summer around 25 varieties of everlasting flowers, I made dried flower things to sell at the local farmers market as well as marketing to stores in Eureka, I composted garden waste to the extent I was able to, I schlepped heavy bags of amendments or bales of straw down to the garden on a steep rocky path because there was no other way to get down there, I sprayed continuously to deal with insects which came from far and wide on the mountain to my organic garden, I weed whacked extensively because the plot was so wild and that weed whacking consisted of a 10-hour session done 6 or 7 times each season and was so hard on my hands, wrists and arms that I could barely unclench my fists for a week after each session.  Also, the creek inlet had to be cleaned out constantly, or the line would break, so every week I was in the creek somewhere, scrambling over roots and rocks to fix the line.

And while I was doing all that, I was also working 15 hours a week for one nonprofit or another, making beaded jewelry when my hands unclenched from the weed whacking, traveling to six or seven art shows a year to sell my jewelry, mostly in the Bay Area but also up to Bellevue, WA, Salem, OR, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, doing all the setup, tear down and booth time entirely on my own while dealing with sometimes-horrible shoppers.  And for a couple years I baked biscotti at home and sold them to all the local cafes in Garberville/Redway.  Plus, I vacuumed my 1000 square foot, two-storey cabin weekly.  And maintained my alternative power system including tuning up the generator, and changed the oil in my car.  And stacked the four cords of wood I had delivered each year and then schlepped in up to 25 armloads at a time to keep by the stove.  And gathered over 75 shopping bags full of kindling each year.  And weed whacked all around the cabin every summer.  And maintained the house water system which came from a spring and also needed to be tinkered with several times a year.  And had friends over for dinner often, baked bread regularly, and canned a lot.  And on top of all that, my landlord, who homesteaded the two parcels next to the one I rented from her, was a high-maintenance bitch. 

Holy shit!  You think I burned myself out?  There's also the fact that the intervening life chapter, between the one above and now, was also extremely stressful although not quite as difficult physically.  Still, I feel like I should be able to do more at this point in my life...although I might be out of my mind. 

13 comments:

Roberta said...

Now you got me exhausted..........yikes.

Jan said...

Good lord, girl--did you enjoy any of this?

So sorry for the effects on your body--if only we knew then what we know now...

ileneharris said...

OMG!

I will call you later today ...

Birdie said...

Crikey!

I might need a lie down now...

This may be inappropriate and is certainly unasked for, but I like to share and understand you may simply wish to ignore it! I have had great back relief from wearing shoes with zero drop (I.e no heel at all) and Esther Gokhales posture correction exercises, which are simple to do. She's easy to find on Google or a search engine of your choice...


Maggi said...

Good grief, I need to go and lie down. No wonder you feel that you should be able to do more after all that but just go ahead and enjoy what you can do.

ileneharris said...

I think I now understand your desire for simplicity, no travel and absolutely no bullshit from anybody...

The Idaho Beauty said...

Speechless, Earth Mother. ;-) I had no idea all that was in your background.

Ok, got some speech back. One can definitely wear out one's body with physical labor like you describe and have the problems you describe long before hitting 65. I'm hopeful that some of that rejuvenates when we give our body a rest and learn proper alignment for doing what we must. But I hear ya - my dad's favorite expression became, "It's hell to get old" and I'm beginning to understand first hand what he meant! I too am discouraged at finding limitations I didn't used to have, sometimes having to decide how important something is to me, if it will be worth the ensuing backlash from my body. The rest I try to stay philosophical about, much like you. Life is full of phases and that can be a positive thing.

PamelaArtsinSF said...

Yikes!!!!!! You deserve a rest!

Christine Adams said...

I think you would benefit from seeing a massage therapist regularly. I don't know if that is possible for you but I would make it a priority. It might make it possible for you to do the 'more' you'd like to.

Judy Sall Fiber Art said...

OMG, Connie... you are a wonder! It's amazing you're able to move at all after all of that. And your aversion to all things people is understandable! Wish I had a magic potion I could send along... best I can do is a virtual hug! (( ))

Jeanne Aird said...

My back just hurt reading about your intense physical work. Yikes!! I've had two back surgeries and have had to be very careful with what I do, which I hate. I want to do whatever I want to do, but know I can't. Gentle stretching before I even get out of bed helps me,bringing one knee up to my chest at a time and counting to 20, then both knees, then some deep breathing. Is there a community pool you can get to to swim a little? That's great for your back too.

In spite of your pain, you continue to create inspiring art that I look forward to seeing.

Irene said...

I think you may have overdone it for a few years back then. It was probably not the best way of going about providing for yourself, but like I said earlier in my previous comment, I don't think you opt for the easy way out. xox

Jacqueline Hodges said...

It's sad to hear that you've been stretched too thin by your condition. Don't worry, though. It should be relieved in no time, with the proper diets, medicine and attitude. I'm hoping that everything's doing fine now. Take care!

Jacqueline Hodges @ Back and Neck Center of Brick