Thursday, March 12, 2009

In My Life

1. My Work

It's been so long since I posted any pix of my paintings, that I'm starting right off by showing one.

This is "Antares" from 2007, encaustic and mixed media on panel, 12" x 36". It hangs in my living room on a deep turquoise wall and I pass by it all the time on my way upstairs. I always get a whiff of beeswax as I go by. I've never shown it anywhere outside of home.

2. Death of a Giant

This huge maple tree grew in the yard of my next door neighbor until she had it cut down this week because she thought it threatened her house. The base must be about five feet across. It took three guys a day and a half to cut up just this part of the trunk that was left after they had already worked on cutting down the tree for more than two days. I tried to find out something about the relationship between tree diameter and age, but couldn't, although it does seem that the tree must have been there for a very long time. It seems a shame to bring down this big specimen when we need all the carbon dioxide exchange we can get. On the brighter side, our yard gets more sun and our neighbor's house is likely to be a lot hotter this summer.

3. Dealing with my mother's aging

My mother is now 92 and lives alone in an elderly housing complex near Cape Cod. About a year and a half or two years ago she stopped driving when her car broke down, and then she gradually stopped going out at all. She has deteriorated since then both mentally and physically but has been very resistant to receiving any help. After battling with her and then insisting, I have been able to get someone in to do some cleaning and assist her with bathing and changing her clothes, but now the situation is coming to a head. I should mention that she takes no medicine - rarely even an aspirin - and is apparently healthy - or as healthy as a 92-year-old can be.

(My mother, center, a couple of years ago eating shrimp and talking to my cousin at a party.)

The problem now is that I have to take her to the doctor next week and I had to announce this to her today. We had severe drama for quite a long while, but I believe I prevailed. Just in case, I'm bringing my brother with me next week to help. He'll have to manipulate the wheelchair we'll rent anyway.

All this is so stressful and brings up so many emotions that I think I'd better go to the doctor, too. Maybe I can get a twofer rate next week.


M said...

I feel for you with your mother. At a certain age we are brought to this point in our lives. I keep telling myself that independence is good and I will be the same way as I age. The most difficult part for me is the reversal of roles. I'm now the "caretaker".

Nancy Natale said...

Margaret, you are so right. That switch over is very difficult to deal with - for both sides. This is the price we pay for not dying off at 35 or so as they did in the good old days.

Karen Jacobs said...

Very interesting post, Nancy, on many levels. The spot about your mom brought both memories of past and glimpses of future. My mom could always find a reason to visit the doctor, but I will be more like your mom, I bet. These are not easy years.

Love your studio, your tool skills especially. I've a bit of envy there. J has the tools, but I'd love to give them a go!

Mary Buek said...

Love your work. And the blog about your power tools and the panels that you made. This is wonderful. My problem was always mitering the corners. No matter how carefully I measured and cut, I was always off, just enough to be noticeable. There must be a secret to that. I was told by a carpenter that you can tell a good carpenter by his (her) mitered corners. Bad ones (like me) use a lot of crack filler.

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for your comments Karen and Mary.

Karen, I'm sure you won't be as difficult as my mother. If I manage to get her to the doctor, it will be the accomplishment of the year. She does make me see how difficult aging is (not that I needed that much help). That loss of control is really a hard circumstance to be faced with. She is realizing it herself more and more despite her compromised mental state.

As for the power tools, mastering them is giving me a sense of control. So long as all my fingers are still there when I hit the off switch, I consider it a success. Carpentry is definitely not my strong suit, but I do the best I can. Most of the time it's good enough and/or I'm the only one who notices the imperfections (I hope)

Mary, I gave up the mitred corners. Boxed or lapped corners do just as well on the panels and are actually stronger. I usually paint my sides or frame so it's not an issue. One trick I did learn about mitres is to cut both side lengths together so that they are exact (the long sides together and the short sides together. They are still much more work and not worth it to me - too much wasted time and wood.

Ingrid said...

I discovered your blog and was touched by your writing about your aging mother. I just spent a week with my Gram, 92 and living alone as well. For me it was a special visit of connecting to my place in her history. Being a granddaughter gives me the distance that my mom and aunts don't get as her caregivers. But it does open up the dialogue of how to proceed in the future.

Love your studio too-mine looks much more like the before pic.

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for your comment, Ingrid. It's great that you could connect with your grandmother and get that sense of inherited history.