Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weaving with Cattails

Don collected some cattails the other day when we were kayaking. He thought I might enjoy weaving with them but truth be told I found it a bit tedious and frustrating. Probably because I had no idea what I was doing and I am still operating under this cloud of fatigue. I did it though, mostly to please him since he was so thoughtful to collect them for me. Having woven my first basket I can say with all confidence that basket weavers need not fear my talents in this area LOL. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Butterfly Saved Me From Drowning

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Sometimes when we feel like we are drowning, being pulled under by the currents of our struggles, God sends us the smallest of His creatures to pull us up from the depths and breathe new life into us. When that happens the story is often too big to tell, to full of mystery, Spirit and the undefinable, to put into words. But still we feel the need to try and share these magical resurrections that bring us from the dark into the light.

This latest Autoimmune/Lyme/MSIDS relapse I have been having has spiraled me into an intense depression and a lot of physical and mental pain. I have felt so short tempered and unloving to those around me that I have, once again, shut myself off from the world to protect others from my suffering and to try and rest and find balance within my self. Don wanted to go kayaking yesterday but I was in a lot of pain and my fatigue felt incapacitating. He said he wouldn't go without me and looked so disappointed when I told him I couldn't go. So I went because he has been working so hard and I wanted him to be blessed with a day spent on the water. I was hurting so much that no matter how hard I tried, I know I was not at all pleasant to be around.

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We got to the pond and headed out in our kayaks, sometimes hanging out together chatting other times going off to explore alone. We were both enjoying our paddle when a flock of geese flew directly over our heads. We both started taking photos and then the geese landed at the end of the pond. We both started to quickly paddle towards them to take photos when something tiny and yellow caught my eye and caused me to turn back and paddle in the opposite direction. I called out to Don to come see but he was too excited about the geese so he headed of towards the flock.

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What I saw a a swallowtail butterfly struggling to fly above the water. He would flutter his wings in a massive effort then drop down almost landing in the water. His motions were jerky and clearly panicked. It was clear that he was is serious trouble. Then it happened, he dropped down lower and lower until he hit the water and his wings were flat and unmoving against the surface of the pond. I was still a ways off so I raced towards him with a whisper in my heart that said "Please let me get there in time. Don't let me be too late".  As soon as I got close enough I stretched out my paddle as far as I could and scooped him up.  He clung to the paddle but as I drew it in towards the kayak he once again tried to fly. The same thing happened, massive, panicked, effort only to collapse on the water.  Closer now, I reached out again with my paddle and this time, too exhausted to fly off, he just dropped onto the floor of the kayak and laid there, unmoving.

His wings were badly tattered. There was a landscaping company in a large field across the road, (the direction he had flown from), clearing some brushy land with mowers and multiple weed-wackers. I wondered if they had damaged his wings with weed-wackers.

After a few moments of complete surrender and rest on the floor of the kayak he began to slowly crawl up my leg. I can't even begin to explain to you what it felt like to have him walking so gently and delicately up my leg but it was so much more amazing than I would have imagined. One of the hardest parts of this relapse is that I have been having so much pain and weakness in my legs again that I very much fear that I will end up having to use a walker and wheelchair again. My legs are very swollen and numb from the lymphedema and painful from the autoimmune/Lyme issues, but I could feel every gentle step he took and while he was walking on me I was not aware of my pain, just his gentle trusting steps as he climbed closer to my heart center.

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 I paddled over to the shore, from which he came, with him resting on my lap. Then he crawled onto my hand and for a while it felt like time stopped as he looked me right in the eye and clung tightly to my fingers. Both of us wounded, both struggling to survive, pushed to a place of trusting that something bigger was guiding us safely to the shore. As we looked at each other I felt a very palpable sense of kindred understanding and connection.

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 After quite a long while he turned his gaze towards the field from which he had flown. 
Then looking back towards me he began to slowly flap his wings.

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Still clinging to my fingers he continued to test his wings. 
This time they were beating steady, confidently and strong. 

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A last glance back towards me as if to say goodbye, then he turned away from me. In a single moment he let loose the tight grip he had on my finger and rose high into the air.
He was airborne so suddenly that I let out a little gasp for the wonder of it all. 

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I watched him fly away, chanting a silent prayer in my heart for his wings to carry him safely home. I watched as he flew up the bank, across the road, and back over the field. Strong and steady he made it all the way back to the tree line at the end of the field.

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The little yellow spec I circled in this photo is my beautiful butterfly entering the woods on the other side of the road and field. This photo was taken with a zoom lens so he is much farther away than it appears in the photo. A long flight on damaged, but still strong, wings. Sat Nam, my beautiful friend, you saved me from drowning today. 

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: 
For thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 
~Hebrews 13:2

Snatam Kaur singing Ardas Bhaee

“Normally there is no power in the human but the power of prayer. And to do prayer, you have to put your mind and body together and then pray from the soul. Ardas Bahee is a mantra prayer. If you sing it, your mind, body and soul automatically combine and without saying what you want, the need of the life is adjusted. That is the beauty of this prayer.” — Yogi Bhajan

DICAPac Waterproof Camera Housing for DSLR Cameras

Don and I test drove our DICAPac waterproof housings for our cameras today while kayaking. Since we were in our kayaks we didn't shoot underwater, well I tried a couple of shots but it was tricky from the kayak so I focused my attention to above water shots. Don used the Canon G11 and I used my Canon 70D.

The housing for the G11 was super easy to use but the one for the 70D was very frustrating at times. Both produced a lot of vignetting  so we need to be sure we push our lenses up tighter to the plexiglass lens in the housing next time. There were also focus issues but I think that is for the same reason, allowing the camera lens to slip back too far from the housing lens.

The DICAPac for the G11 was a snug fit that made operating the camera through the soft plastic very easy. Aside from some vignette and focus issues Don was having it worked out great.

The DICAPac for the 70D was HUGE. The camera slipped around making me wonder if I had purchased a size too large. The finger openings had little gloves and operating the zoom was extremely frustrating. The finger glove for the shutter worked much better but it was still tricky fishing around for it in the mammoth case.

It was hard to keep the lens pushed up to the plexi lens of the housing so I did get some vignetting and focus issues as well but I think that will improve with practice.

 It does look a bit odd but I felt very secure having my camera safely housed in the case while we kayaked. I was not at all worried about the water damaging the camera.

Here you can see the vignette Don was getting with the G11 case.  

 More Vignetting, but even if it happens you can crop it out later. 

This pond was too murky and buggy for good underwater shots. I need to find a clear lake or stream to experiment in. Also as you can see the lens was not pushed forward enough.

Having said all that, you can get some good photos with these DICAPacs so it is worth the effort of experimenting with them until you get all the kinks worked out. Remember this was my first outing with one so I am sure I will get better at using it. 

This was the first dip, before all the junk got on the lens. I was leaning out of the kayak and it was getting quite tippy so this was actually a misfire shot but I kind of like the etherial quality it has. 

More info on the DICAPacs We Used

UPDATE: The smaller WP-S5 was a tighter fit for my 70D but I couldn't use my zoom lens with it. So I'm sticking with the WP-S10.

Info from the B&H website on the:  DiCAPac WPS10 Waterproof Case for Digital SLR cameras
The DICAPac WP-S10 Waterproof Case will protect your SLR camera when you are using it at the beach, swimming, kayaking, skiing, fishing, sailing, snorkeling or diving. This is a PVC vinyl housing with a polycarbonate lens. It can be used with SLR cameras. The housing meets JIS IPX8 requirements for underwater usage.
The case is compatible with SLR cameras that have a length of 7.5" (120mm) or smaller. The lens can be 2.0" (50mm) to 6" (150mm) long.
Waterproof underwater housing usable up to 16.4' (5.0 m)
Meets standard requirements for JIS (Japan Industrial Standards) IPX8 at 0.5 water pressure (underwater 5.0m), tested for 30 minutes
Has port for lenses 2.0" (50mm) to 6" (150mm) long
All controls are accessible
UV coating polycarbonate on the lens for clear pictures

Ideal for taking pictures in the rain, at the beach, or on the ski slopes

Info from the B&H website on the:  DiCAPac WP570 Waterproof Case for Canon G11
The DiCAPac WP-570 Waterproof Case will protect your digital camera when you are using it at the beach, swimming, kayaking, skiing, fishing, sailing, snorkeling or diving down to 33' (10m). This is a PVC vinyl housing with a polycarbonate UV coated port that allows access to all camera controls. It can be used with larger point & shoot digital cameras such as the Canon G11. The lens port allows the lens to extend out to 1.4" (35mm) and has an internal diameter of 2.1" (54mm). The housing meets JIS IPX8 requirements for underwater usage.
Waterproof underwater housing usable up to 33' (10m)
Has port for zoom lens to extend out 1.4" (35mm)
All controls are accessible
UV coating polycarbonate on the lens for clear pictures
Ideal for taking pictures in the rain, at the beach, or on the ski slopes
Compatible Camera Models
  • Canon Powershot: G7, G9, G10, G11, SX100IS, SX120IS, SX200IS, SX210IS
  • Nikon Coolpix: P5000, P51000, P6000, L5
  • Olympus: C55z, C70z, C7000, C730, C740, C745, C750, C755, C760, C770
  • Sony Cybershot: H3, H10, H20, H30, DSC-V1, HV-5V
  • Panasonic: LX1, LX2, LX3, TZ1, TZ2, TZ3, TZ4, TZ5, TZ6, TZ7, TZ8, TZ10, TZ15, ZS1, ZS3, ZS5
  • Kodak: Z915, Z950, Z148IS
  • Samsung: S1050, S850, WB500, WB550, WB650, HZ10W, NV5, NV7 OPS, NV11
  • Leica: D-Lux3
  • Pentax: Optio 750Z
  • Sigma: DP1, DP2

Below  is a video review by CameraRec Toby on YouTube. I highly recommend following Toby on both YouTub: Toby's YouTube Videos and on Facebook: Toby's Digital Photo Recommendations Page on FB  He has a multitude of tutorial and product review videos with loads of free info for every level photographer. He and Christina also do photo critiques via their Flickr group. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Latest Painting in the Series

This is the latest painting in my series on Saints, Angels and Prophets. This one is a digital painting created on my iPad. It was inspired by a concert I went to where Snatam Kaur and Ajeet Kaur preformed. 

Channel of Light

Friday, August 15, 2014

Snatam Kaur and Ajeet Kaur in Concert

I feel totally blessed after going to see Snatam Kaur and Ajeet Kaur at a benefit concert at the UCC church in Keene, NH. I even got to meet Ajeet's Dad, Christian author, Thomas Moore, whose writing I have adored for decades. The night was filled with ecstatic praise, chanting, singing, dancing and praising God. It left both Don and I feeling abundantly blessed. 

At the end of the evening right before we left I met Ramdesh Kaur. I have been a huge fan of her Spirit Voyage Podcast for ages and it was a huge blessing to meet her. She was incredibly generous and loving and shared some powerful healing information with me as she has some knowledge of chronic Lyme and other chronic health challenges that have been healed through yoga and the sacred sound current.  

The concert was a benefit to raise money for a children's home in India called Ramana's Garden  It was also a CD release party for both Snatam and Ajeet. Ajeet's new album is called At the Temple Door and Snatam's is called, Light of the Naam: Morning Chants

Randesh Kaur and I at the end of the evening. I think it was nearly midnight when this was taken and I was exhausted and in a fair amount of pain but I was so blissed-out to be in this space so filled with love and worship with people from all faiths and walks of life. Ramdash Kaur is a brilliantly loving and compassionate soul and I feel so blessed to have spent some time chatting with her.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Daily Art Journal Painting "Guardian of Pure Light"

Here is the daily art journal painting I did for today. I called it Guardian of Pure Light

I am also sharing a video of Snatam Kaur singing Long Time Sun

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August Art Daily & Creating for Healing

Lorie Hancock McCown is hosting the August Art Daily on Facebook 
I am a little behind but here are a couple of journal pages I did over the last couple of days. 

"Healing Prayer" is painted on top of a page torn out of an old handwritten recipe book

 Detail of Healing Prayer

Moonlit Flight

I am going to try to continue to do at least one page a day for the August Daily Art Challenge but it is difficult to get in the studio since I have had this MSIDS (Chronic Lyme/Autoimmune) relapse. For a while I felt like I was in a blissful state of remission so this relapse has taken a real toll on me emotionally. I really believed this was all behind me and that I was headed into full healing. Will this nightmare ever really be over for good?  It is impossible for those that are not living with this disease to know how horrifying it can be every moment of every day. I am sure that to some we seem weak and are viewed as whiners or complainers but all I want is to wake up one day without pain, without the incomprehensible fatigue, disorientating confusion & brain fog. 

I miss my career as an artist so very much and I miss spending every day in the studio creating beautiful things for people to buy. I absolutely cherish the few good days I have but the "Unknowing" certainly makes the relapses harder. I guess that's why they call it faith. Living with this disease is the hardest thing I have ever done.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Not much for words today, just sharing this little piece that is on my loom right now