Monday, May 18, 2015

Simplicity Part 2 or CHEMCIAL SENSITIVITY !

So I left you hanging for a month. Sorry..but it has been that long that I am still trying to figure out what chemicals I am still in touch with that are making my body crazy.

A month ago I landed in the dermatologist's office for blisters and redness of my lips. This had happened before with a lipstick, and I threw out all of that brand, and five years later, bought another one by the same company, but a different chemistry. Shortly thereafter, same story, different year. Only this time it was not going away even when I stopped using all lip products. I had myself dying of lip cancer, and horrid images were running through my mind.

My doctor said "hmmmm contact dermatitis, we need to find out what you are reacting to", so I had one of the tests where 80 substances were put on my back in big bandages, removed in several days, and I was then marker-ed with a purple body marker with boxes around each substance.   The reactions were monitored, and it was revealed that I was allergic to gold, benzoil peroxide, Balsam of Peru, Fragrance Mix #1, and Propolis.  Propolis is a bee product, which comes from the pollen of poplar and fir trees, and can be mixed into beeswax which is in many products especially lip and body products. Fragrance mix #1 has 8 chemicals which are in nearly every fragrance/oil/perfume that you can think of.

Forced simplicity: I had to get rid of every personal care and household product,perfume or fragrance. Candles, shampoos, lotions, make up, soap, cleaning supplies (all of Mrs. Meyers had to go). As a result my bathroom, closet, and dresser are much cleaner. I have boxes of items awaiting new homes as they are toxic to me. And I still testing what I can and can't use. I don't like the hair shampoo bar, it does not clean my long hair to my liking. I am using Argan Oil (pure and organic) for my face and hair. Cocoa butter in the stick seems to be OK, though I am not sure if my lips like it yet.  Baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide are my cleaning products. If there is a bad smell in the house I run through with a piece of sage and hope that I don't have an allergy to it. I no longer use Turpenoid Natural for cleaning my brushes in any enclosed space...the oil from the citrus gives me a migraine- walnut oil is the only cleaner used in my studio.

The lips are still reacting. Three of the reactions from substances put on me a month ago are still red and scaly. My immune system had sent up flares, and hopefully ones that were saying STOP NOW BEFORE I GIVE YOU CANCER.

So there you have it...I wanted simplicity- I got it on one level. 

Part 3 of Simplicity: Going Boho

PS this little lovely piece of art can be found HERE 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Simplicity: Part 1

The word simplicity was jingling around in my head all day while at work at the Tibetan Shop. While CD's of chanting monks played, I made phone calls, haggled with the cable company and tried to track down the automatic payment trail of my gym membership. I was making deeper cuts into my lifestyle. I kept telling myself that this is all good - I am leading a simpler, more authentic life.

Well into the second year of my reinvention,  the bank account was yelling for me to put my brakes on. So back went Sadie, my lovely sexy convertible.  My gym membership. That wasn't too hard as I never had time to work out there. But it was a defeat that I wasn't pumping iron or spending an hour on the elliptical machine.  My drink and dinner budget shrank to a once-a-week "starving artist"  late afternoon meeting with my business partner where we get a slider and a local mud beer for 9.50. I have no clothing budget, and I am grateful that I have a husband who saves his lunch money to buy me a new shirt or sweater for my birthday,  Christmas, or anniversary. I have decided to let me hair be its natural color, a mixture of red and the ever growing grey that is creating interesting patterns and texture. As I find creative ways to shave off our expenses, I keep convincing myself...this is a simpler life.

Yet my life is by no means simple. I work 6 days a week from when I get up until I go to sleep. Though I may be leading a more authentic life it is not simpler. I am not taking time to sit, to listen, and to watch. I am not taking time to read the wise words of others, or to take action in things that can make a difference.  I am not making the body of work I promised myself, being too distracted by the 10,000 other things I have to do.

 I am fooling myself, and  others in preaching that I am living a simple life.  So what do I do, where do I start?

I googled "How to Live a Simple Life"....and then life dictated a drastic change... (Part 2)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Playing Detective: The Thomas Cole Jr. Story



January was a period of recovery from my Business class, 4 shows, and the holidays. February is a tough month; I have a new saying "every time the snow flies, a dollar dies" as students cancel, or I am unable to get to my very part time job. So when the going gets rough, I sell on eBay.

I have been selling on eBay for 16 years and have made around 3000 transactions. I have excellent ratings, and it has kept my studio heated and business bills paid when I needed money. I have joked that I would sell everything in the house if I had to.  For the most part I enjoy it - from the treasure hunt/junking to find things to sell, the research, and then the excitement of the auctions.  I have an entire education from it, and have become quite knowledgeable about many things, from illustrated books, ephemera, to photography and more.

The most recent exciting research came from photographs I started listing from an album that  I've had for a long time.  So long that I don't remember where I bought it. I broke the photos into subject matter and listed them. A lot of farm animals, a lot of people in theater costumes, lots of mines and rock formations.  I made a lot of images of Trinity Church in Saugerties, NY, and the surrounding homes. I was curious about whether the homes still stood, so I asked a friend on Facebook about them, who referred me to a local historian. We started piecing things together about this lot. Some of the photos were taken from the windows of the attic and office in the church's rectory. When the historian mentioned that the son of Thomas Cole, (the father of the Hudson River School of Art) was a minister in that church for 40 years, I began to wonder....were they his photos?  A photograph held a possible clue-the photographer had taken a photo of a women, down hill from him/her, and there were cast shadows. The photographer's shadow looked like the photographer had a dress on. Or, was it a cleric who wore robes? Then the other clue came up in my research- someone had a rock collection owned by Thomas Cole Jr., which would explain all of the photos of various rock embankments that were photographed in Saugerties, Glasco, Vermont and Massachusetts. I started piecing things together. The clues point to one of a two things: the photographs were either taken by Thomas Cole Jr., or someone who had similar interests and access to the rectory. I may never know. 

Thus far the auctions have bought me enough money to cover some of my business bills as some local collectors bid well on the lot. I still have some photographs left to sell, and I will keep a few; the photograph of the photographer's shadow, which is as close as I will get to having a portrait of the photographer,  a few snapshots of the Catskill Mountains and the creek, views which no longer exist due to overgrowth and construction. There's magic in those mountains.....which have inspired writers, photographers, artists....sculptors and historians like my new friend. Now off to research the little town of Eddyville, a place that I lived for a while...he sent me lots of interesting images and information. Ah, eBay--a lifetime learning online university!