‘To be very accomplished': Learning to draw

‘It is amazing to me,’ said Bingley, ‘how young ladies can have the patience to be so very accomplished, as they all are.’

–Pride and Prejudice

I often joke that I was born in the wrong century. Not medically–in any other century I’d be dead–but socially. A lot of my skills are in the old-school definition of ‘accomplishment’, as Bingley talks about in Pride and Prejudice (and which we will be talking about on Thursday in the Jane Re-Read!). I can cook, knit, sew (cross-stitch and mend), play the piano, sing, etc.

‘A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’

‘All this she must posses,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’

–Pride and Prejudice

I certainly have the extensive reading down, but I’ve never been able to draw. Really. My brother could do it, and my grandfather, but not me. Art class in school was never a subject at which I excelled. As I got older, I thought I’d never be able to learn it.

But then Melissa turned me on to Sketchbook Skool. This is an online art school, taught by professional artists and teachers. It’s video-based, and each class lasts six weeks. I enrolled in “beginnings,” and I’m in my last week of the course.   I have definitely learned to draw!

My first Sketchbook Skool assignment.

My first Sketchbook Skool assignment.

Learning to draw at Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

A drawing I did at my grandmother’s house, a few weeks into the class.

(I don’t know why the second one is wonky…sorry guys!)

Anyway, yes, I am really happy with the progress I’m making. The classes have been so informative and I love the teachers. I’m enrolling in another class next week, because in ‘beginnings’ we haven’t covered everything. We’ve done watercolors, pen, pencil, colored pencil, and we’ve learned a bit about technique, but I really need to work on perspective and depth in my drawings.

Learning to draw with Sketchbook Skool @emily_m_deardo

There are times when it’s really frustrating–don’t get me wrong. Some of my drawings are much better than others. But I see something good in every piece I do, so that’s definitely a step forward.

SBS is a great example of how the Internet can be awesome. I never would’ve tried to do this if I hadn’t gotten the recommendation from Melissa, and I never would’ve found these great teachers. I can move through the classes at my own pace, right tin my house. It’s not something I have to leave my house to do, which is nice.

Summer is a great time for experimentation and learning new things–are you doing anything this summer like this? Or can you draw much better than I can? :)

Yarn Along No. 27

This is going to be a quick installment. :)

 

 

Wednesday #YarnAlong! @emily_m_deardo

So I’m still working the same two projects, the scarf and the washcloth/dishcloth/dust rag (whatever you want to call it!). I’ve been knitting while I watch Outlander or Breaking Bad, and I can knit for about a half hour at a time during those. I did find another skein of yarn, called Chipmunk, that I think will be great for the next VA scarf project. It’s the same type of yarn as the one I’m currently working with, which you can read about here.

Wednesday #YarnAlong time! @emily_m_deardo

Isn’t that a cute name for this color? And it looks Chipmunk-ish.

As for reading: I’m saving The Girl on the Train and A God In Ruins for the Charleston trip, which is fast approaching. I want to have new books to read in the car. :) I just finished The Astronaut Wives Club, which was pretty good. There were a lot of wives to keep straight, eventually, but I think the writer did a good job giving us insight into their lives. The book I’m currently reading is Pride and Prejudice, for the Great Jane Re-Read. 

Starting the Ten Year Party

So far, the “official” markings of my 10 year transplant anniversary have been good. My tests all came back beautifully from clinic, so that’s excellent news. We test not just the lungs, but all my vitamin levels, kidney function, bone density, and things like that, to make sure that the meds aren’t causing problems in other areas of my body, and I’m glad to report that they are not. So that’s fantastic.

Yesterday, I went to Lifeline of Ohio’s monthly staff meeting to talk briefly about my transplant experience. Lifeline of Ohio is my local organ procurement agency, and they’re the people that do the “grunt” work, so to speak, of organ donation, for my area of Ohio. They promote and coordinate the donation of organs, and I’ve done a lot of volunteering with them since my transplant. Normally, I connect with the communications and education people, who organize talks and volunteer opportunities, but the meeting was for everyone who works for lifeline–about 60+ people, and includes nurses and medical staff and a host of people in other areas.

I didn’t talk long–about five minutes or so–but it was great to share my story with them. They have a new person come in every month to talk about their experience and I think that’s a great idea. It shows the staff the results of all their hard work! There were a few questions after:

Do I still have CF? Yes, I do. I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have a lot of other CF problems. I don’t have diabetes, my kidneys behave, and my sinuses are good. I am pancreatically sufficient, so I don’t take enzymes and I’m not malnourished (hahaha, malnourished. Ha. Right. So far from that now.) Other people aren’t quite that lucky, but for me, my CF problems were mostly confined to my lungs. But since CF is a genetic disease, I still have it–the transplant didn’t change my genetic code. But my version (so to speak) of CF was helped enormously by the transplant.

How long was the wait and what was it like? The wait was about 40 days, give or take. It was hard to do everyday things like brush my teeth. Think about that. Brushing your teeth isn’t exactly hard. But I couldn’t do it and breathe at the same time. After, of course, totally different story.

I also talked about the advantage of having a center so close to me. In central Ohio, we’re blessed to have two lung transplant centers within a few miles of each other! If I’d had gone to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or St. Louis (the other centers that my CF team sent people for transplant), my mom and I would’ve had to relocate, for months, leaving my dad and my two siblings (who were both still in school at the time) to fend for themselves. It wouldn’t have been pretty. It was so much easier to be twelve miles away from the center and to be able to go home right after my discharge, and not stay in an apartment or Ronald McDonald house sort of thing for months on end.

The anniversary, officially, is in about two weeks. We’ll be in Charleston the day of, and I’m so excited for that!

If you’re not an organ donor, please be one? Please please? You can find information and sign up here.

Seven Quick Takes No. 79–A Trip to Pittsburgh

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo

I.

We spent last weekend and part of this week in Pittsburgh celebrating my grandma’s 85th birthday.

Me and Grandma

Me and Grandma

 We celebrated by taking a dinner cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, which was a great meal and boat ride around the three rivers of Pittsburgh. We sailed by PNC Park, Heinz Field, the Point, and other Pittsburgh landmarks. Quite a bit of the family– though not all–was there, and it was a fun way to celebrate.

 

Dad and my cousin Diane's youngest child.

Dad and my cousin Diane’s youngest child.

II.

One of the best parts was seeing my cousin Diane, and especially meeting her newest baby (above with Dad). She has two older daughters, whom I’d met before, but I’d never met this little guy, who turns 1 in August.

Diane and I with her little guy.

Diane and I with her little guy.

III.

The next day we went to PNC Park to see the Pirates beat the Phillies in extra innings. I’d never been to a Pirates game where they won, so I was pretty excited about that! Dad taught me how to fill out the scorecard that was in the game program, so I feel very educated in the Ways of Baseball. (Sort of. I find baseball always has new ways to confuse me.)

Our seats were behind home plate and under the overhang of the upper deck, so we were in shade, which was great when it was 85+ degrees.

Pirates win and the Parrot takes the mound.

Pirates win and the Parrot takes the mound.

III.

 After the game we had another party at one of my aunt’s houses. She has a pool and her husband grilled, and there was, of course, jello marshmallow salad, because it’s not a family gathering on my mom’s side without jello marshmallow salad.

Kids like cookouts.

Kids like cookouts.

These kids....

These kids….

Grandma received cards and presents, and then there was Bethel Bakery cake, which is the Best Cake in the Universe. Not kidding. Our swimming was curtailed because of a huge thunderstorm that opened up, but that didn’t deter the youngest from having fun….

ballooooonnnnns!

ballooooonnnnns!

IV.

Diane’s oldest girl (seen above, in the pink glasses) and I:

Me: So, Susie, what’s your favorite movie?
Susie: Frozen.

Me: OK. What’s your favorite song?
Susie: (As if I am deeply, deeply stupid) “Let it Go.”
Me: Well, there are other songs in the movie.
Susie: No there aren’t.

V.

Monday we went to Kennywood, where I hadn’t been in over ten years, so it was nice to be back, and Diane’s husband had never been there at all. Susie and I had fun riding rides, but when I took Bridget on the carousel, she seemed a bit wary, until the ride starting going. She also really enjoyed the ice cream cone.

I had to rescue this ice cream from hitting the pavement more than once.

I had to rescue this ice cream from hitting the pavement more than once.

 VI.

Kennywood really does have things for everyone, which makes it fun, but my grandpa’s favorite ride was “The Restaurant”, so we had dinner there. It’s a large cafeteria style place and it has good food and, the real winning point, air conditioning. It was hot, so we got a lot of water rides under our belts, and then dried off with roller coasters.

VII.

Of course, some of us couldn’t handle all the excitement:

Being this cute takes a lot of work.

Being this cute takes a lot of work.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo

(If you’re new here, read the beginning of this post to get the ground rules/ideas.)

I wrote this about Northanger Abbey last year.

My favorite movie version is this one, from the BBC (click the photo for details):

OK, so let’s talk about the book:

I really like Catherine–do you? I mean yes, she has some silly moments, but generally, she’s not a bad kid, especially for one who has never been away from home before and is thrown into social situations she’s never been in before. She’s much more sensible than, say, Lydia Bennet! (Whom we’ll talk about in the next installment.)

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

Henry and Catherine.

 

I just wanted to throttle the Thorpes. I always feel that way, but this time it was with special vengeance. Isabella is just so silly and stupid! Not to mention money grubbing: “Oh, I love James! Oh, no I don’t, his income is too small. Oh, wait, I love him again! Because no one else will have me, la!”

And John? How in the world does he think Catherine wants to marry him? He rivals Mr. Collins in his stupidity of women, but at least Mr. Collins was never as outright rude and coarse as John is.

General Tilney is a really interesting character, isn’t he? He terrifies his daughter and obviously Henry has his own problems with him. He’s not a model father, that’s for sure, although I don’t think any of the readers ascribe such villainous deeds to him as Catherine initially does. :)

Speaking of that, I love the scene when Catherine finds out that the papers are just laundry lists. It’s sort of like Ralph in A Christmas Story: “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine? A crummy commercial?!”

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

“LAUNDRY?!”

Have you read The Mysteries of Udolpho? It’s still in print, amazingly–Oxford World Classics has an edition that I’m pretty sure is only still in print because of Northanger Abbey. It’s not a bad read, if you’re interested in digging deeper into Catherine’s favorite genre.

The next time Jane will set a book in Bath will be Persuasion, her last completed novel, and the novel isn’t entirely set there (much like NA isn’t entirely set in Bath–it’s funny that we have to wait so long to get to the titular abbey, right?). Anne Elliott is not quite as sanguine as Catherine is about being in Bath, that’s for sure.

The Great Jane Re-Read: Northanger Abbey @emily_m_deardo

Northerner Abbey, the Tilney home and the novel’s namesake.

Catherine’s family seem so jolly, doesn’t it? 10 children, but also her parents seem to be really down-to-earth, practical sort of people (Although I imagine you’d have to be, in order to have 10 children and not be completely nuts.). She might be–I’m just now considering this–the most practical mother in Jane’s writing. Mrs. Bennet is not. Mrs. Dashwood sort of gets there by the end of the novel, but she has her moments of crazy. There is no Mrs. Woodhouse in Emma, nor is there a Mrs. Elliot in Persuasion, although Mrs. Elliot seemed to be a very lovely person, based on Anne’s remembrances; but Sir Walter wasn’t exactly a peach to live with. What do you think?

Yarn Along No. 26

Let’s talk yarn and book, shall we?

In the last Yarn Along, I was working on a lot: the scarf for the VA, and the last of the housekeeping gift of washcloths. I’m still working on both projects.

Scarf and dishcloth projects on the needles @Emily_M_Deardo

So the scarf is on the left and the newly started final washcloth is on the right. This yarn was sort of a bear to knit for the first few rows, and I don’t know why this yarn (Comfy worsted from Knit Picks) can be so back and forth when it comes to starting projects.  It gets easier as I progress, but sometimes it’s really smooth right off the bat, and sometimes it’s not. This color is called blackberry, and it’s on the harmony rainbow needles.

 

It's Wednesday! Join me for Yarn Along, where we talk about knitting and reading. @emily_m_deardo

For my reading, I’m working on Fr. Michael Gaitley’s The One Thing is Three, which is about the trinity and a lot of other theological things, namely the Summa Theologica (which I’m studying in a group at church right now, so yay!). I’ve previously read his Consoling the Heart of Jesus and I’m going to be reading his 33 Days to Morning Glory later this month.

Daybook No. 97

(it’s back!)

daybook tag

Outside my window::

Sunny through thin white clouds. It’s not going to be very warm today–well, warm for June–so swimming is probably out, but that’s OK!

Wearing::

Jeans, a bright blue v-neck t-shirt, and flats.

Reading::

Working on Northanger Abbey. I finished Prodigal Summer yesterday, and man, I wish Barbara Kingsolver would write a sequel. It’s that kind of novel where you want to stay with the characters for a long time, even after the book is finished. I’m reading The One Thing is Three for my spiritual reading. The rest of the fiction pile includes The Forsyte Saga and A God In Ruins, and then I’ve got What Matters In Jane Austen and Jane Austen’s England. So a variety of things on the reading pile!

In the CD player::

The Light in the Piazza, celebrating Kelli O’Hara’s Tony win.

Writing::

This week I’m doing something different with LA–I’m going back to doing the link-ups/weekly features that I’ve sort of been neglecting amidst the new writing plan. So tomorrow is the Yarn Along, Thursday I’m talking about Sketchbook Skool, and then Friday we’ll have Quick Takes. I’m also going to get some things pre-written because I’ll be in Pittsburgh until Tuesday.

The Dominican section of the memoir continues apace. It’s sort of a complex section to write but the goal here is to get it down into a physical form on “paper” (or, in a Pages document). Then I can revise it. I’m hoping to have the section done by the end of the month so that in July, when I’m back from Charleston, I can start sending out queries and book proposals. (EEEEEK)

Creativity::

You’ll have to come back tomorrow and Thursday to read about that. :) But really, it’s been really interesting in this area lately.

Health stuff::

So yesterday was my Annual Clinic Day of Testing for Transplant Guys. :) Basically, all the yearly tests we do, I did yesterday. That involved lots of blood-letting, full PFTs (Pulmonary Function Tests–“full” meaning more than just the basic test I do every visit. We checked gas diffusions in my lungs and some other fun things), a CT scan of my lungs, bone density scan, and an abdominal ultrasound, which looks at my spleen, liver, kidneys, all that sort of stuff.

I lost five pounds “officially” in clinic (I told the dietician that I had lost 10 lbs at one point, but the loss doesn’t want to stay there, sadly), and the PFTs went up four points. So win to that correlation. Everyone’s happy with that. I haven’t gotten the results back yet from the other tests. (Other than things like my regular chest X-ray, which looked fine and dandy–we saw that in clinic.)

Today I’m going to see my ENT so he can check out my sinuses. I see him about every six months, and about every two years, we do the sinus surgery. This is because even though my lungs don’t have CF, the rest of my body does, so we still have to keep the sinuses happy. They tend to fill with the CF-quality mucus and that can be a huge breeding ground for infection. Fortunately, I don’t have nearly as many sinus issues as some other CF folks I know.

Pondering::

I normally don’t talk to many–if any–other patients when I’m at Children’s. Part of that is because I don’t really talk in waiting rooms, at all, and partially because a lot of the time, I’m alone. In clinic, I’m in my own room, and in radiology, the transplant/cancer patients sit in the radiology hallway itself, not in the general waiting room, because of concerns about sick people.

I’m really familiar with the radiology hallway. It used to be main radiology for the entire hospital, so I’ve come here as an ER patient, as a CF outpatient, and in the days after transplant, at 6 AM, before the hospital was really “up”, so I the chances of me running into a sick person (or anyone else) were really slim. I know all the radiology techs really well, and know some of them by name.

There are three chairs set up outside the main waiting room door for transplant/oncology patients. Sometimes it’s me and other transplant patients who are being seen that day (we all have the same routine–blood work, x-rays, clinic), but mostly it’s just me.

Yesterday there was a small family: a boy, a girl, and the mother. The kids looked to be in high school. I knew the boy was a transplant patient because 1) he was wearing a Dash for Donation shirt (it’s the annual Lifeline of Ohio race), and 2) he had a mask on. Most of us wear masks in the hospital. I hate wearing them so I generally don’t. (yeah, I’m a rebel.)

But the boy looked so sick. I couldn’t tell if he was pre or post-transplant. He was so thin I could see the ligaments in his legs around his knees, the tendons popping out. His shirt hung on his, and he was in a wheelchair. He didn’t really look anywhere, other than vaguely at his lap. His sister was plugging away at Facebook on her phone, but he just sat there, vaguely thinking about something.

I knew that look. I’d been there. It’s the look of not really having the brain power to do anything else but tend to the function of your body. Breathe, sit up. Breathe.

He went back for X-rays, and I talked briefly to his sister–small things, about the waiting area, her sparkly phone cover. Her brother came back quickly and they were gone, heading up to clinic.

The radiology technician called me to a room. “He’s rejecting,” she told me.

“How far out is he?”

“Five years.”

Ah, five years. Five is a magical number. About half make it to five years–it’s a little less than that, for girls. UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) doesn’t even have 10 year stats on their website, yet, for lung transplant patients. At hitting 10 years, I’m sort of a statistical anomaly. Five years is becoming more common, but 10 is still out there, and the people I know who are 15+ years have had two transplants.

I am extremely, extremely lucky. And it could all change, but right now, the fact that I’m this far out, and that I’ll be celebrating my 10 year mark in a month, is incredibly fortunate. am incredibly fortunate.

Plans for the Week::

I have a Summa Theologica class at church on Wednesday–this just started last week–which means I have to read Question 2 of Part 1 today so I’m ready to talk about it tomorrow. :) On Friday I have another doctor appointment and then I leave for Pittsburgh on Saturday!

(note: that lovely photo of bluebells? Elizabeth Foss took that. :) I hope she doesn’t mind that I borrowed it from her website! It’s just so gorgeous.)