Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Old Birds and Winging It

My brother Franklin used to have cockatiels and canaries as pets. At the same time, he had his mother-in-law living with him and his wife Carol. His mother-in-law lived to be 105, I believe it was. Franklin said that whenever he put something new in the cage with his birds or even moved something from one side of the cage to the other, the birds would get into an uproar. They just couldn't stand anything new in their little world. It was the same reaction, he told me, that he got when anything changed in his mother-in-law's room. She would go into a tizzy the same way that the birds did.

Eleanor's magenta turkey

Wednesday afternoon my mother got a new electric recliner delivered to her room at the nursing home, courtesy of another brother, Robert, and his wife Carol. (All three of my brothers have wives named Carol - pretty confusing.) So the bird/old person frenzy was in full swing when I arrived after work on Wednesday. I understand her reaction to something new and fully appreciate that a person's world can become so small that she's like a bird in a cage. She was not happy at all and kept moving the chair up and down with the remote trying to find that elusive comfortable spot. I kept trying different things - pillow, no pillow, forward, back, forward, back. It was making us both crazy and after an hour or so had gone by in complete frustration, I left thinking this was going to be a problem.

But by the time I got there on Friday, the new chair had become one with the old chair in her mind. "How's your chair doing?" I asked her. "Oh, fine," she said, "it's just like the old one."

 "Don't get old," she keeps telling me. If she used the word, she would say that getting old sucks. I know that's what I'd say - with a few more pungent adjectives.

Eleanor in her new chair (at age 93)

Anyway, due to her memory problems and limited hand mobility, she's unable to crochet, read or do puzzles as she used to. Her new pastime is coloring, but her color perception is way off. She sees magenta as brown. It makes for some interesting images and maybe we'd all be better off if those beige/brown/tan living rooms that you see on all the home shows were actually magenta/fuchsia/hot pink. My mother took up landscape painting in her 70s, by the way, and was the one who inspired me to pick up some oil paints and canvas boards at Ann and Hope and start painting. What a strange beginning for my illustrious art career.

Eleanor's vision of the classic beige/tan living room

Tied Up
Last week I was chained to the computer making a new website for myself. The result is well worth it, but it does take a lot of tweaking, twiddling and long hours. (By the way, if you are interested in making a website for yourself, try icompendium.com - simple and not too much technical expertise required.) The new site has the same old address nancynatale.net. You will see much larger images and a more roomy look. Also I have used the professionally photographed images of the Running Stitch series. (Photos by John Polak of Easthampton, who also does a lot of work for artists from Boston and elsewhere in New England. I highly recommend him.)

Bandito, 24" x 24" (click to enlarge). This is the revamped Bandito with red added.

One good thing is that this has pushed me to polish up a statement I wrote recently and to write a short bio. I still have to retype my resume and get it looking better. That stuff is always such a pain. Now I'm working on a postcard and then writing grant applications. Fortunately I have started listening to the instrumental soul station on Pandora Radio and it does make computer time a lot more fun. But who said that all artists do is work in the studio? It feels like years since I've been there.

Happy Thanksgiving to All
From the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. I, published this week:

“Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for — annually, not oftener — if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side, consequently it was proper to thank the Lord for it.” (quoted in the NYTimes 11/20/10)


Karen Jacobs said...

Your mother and her new chair brings back memories of our two mothers... for their last twenty years we had both in residence near us, each with her own apartment. Totally different, they would never have chosen to be friends, but they became like sisters over the years. Difficult at times but they added great depth and character to our family. I miss them most during the holidays.

Wendy Rodrigue Magnus said...

This is a wonderful post, Nancy. Thank you for sharing. I love your mom's purple turkey! My mother-n-law lived with us until she died at age 103. She used to hide cake under her bed.

GREAT quote by Mark Twain. Might have to borrow that one....

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Nancy.
Your new website looks great. I enjoy so much the new series, Running Stitch.

Anonymous said...

Love the new site!