Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cost of Cancer

My hair is growing back and that is the first and quickest sign of recovery. My appetite has returned and after losing over 40 pounds I can now eat anything I want, so that is really nice. Sometimes we don't appretiate a good meal until we can't eat it. My hands hurt a lot and I am told that this is common with cancer survivors! Part of the cost of the cure! The other "cost" is cash,
about $130,000 which, of course, I never had. I am one of the lucky ones and have an excellent insurance policy - they paid $129,000 and I only paid $1,000. I sometimes wonder what I would have done without the insurance? I own my house so any type of assistance would not have kicked in until that was gone and I was living on the street. I love life but I don't think I would have done that. It is not just my house, what would my wife do and where would she live? I know people who have died agonizing over these same decisions. What is a life worth? How much would you spend and how much pain would you accept to cure cancer and be a survivor?
You really can't answer that question until it happens to you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pain Management

Ralph liked my butterflies so I found another one.
These are stainless steel over copper sheet and then powder-coated in clear. There is a lot of hand work involved in making these, a lot of fitting and grinding and I am unable to do that now. I wake up early in the morning and it feels as though my hands were in a pressure cooker all night long. I am not sure what to do about this. It is discouraging for an artist not to be able to work. I still get ideas and things I want to do but the pain is pretty constant and throbbing. So, I have begun my day complaining and that is not a good way to start! I do comparative therapy and realize that there are a lot of people worse off than I am. I could be in Haiti and have my tent, my only home blown down in the rains. And I think it is only my hands that hurt; the cancer is gone and I am healing, it is just that I want to run with it, lose myself in my shop and build things! I should be thankful that I have the desire. The ability will come. Vicodine helps, at least it offers a distraction and when it kicks in, the throbbing subsides and I am able to work for fifeteen minutes at a time. Time is my friend now, I am getting stronger every day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This is "old stuff" done a year or so ago but I wanted to show you some of my copper and stainless steel pieces. This piece became the center of a gate at a local winery. It is powder-coated clear coat and has the feel of silk when touched. The copper and polished steel catch the sun and this can be seen from blocks away! It was a fun experiment and because of it
I built a 16' Entry Gate for a different winery with a lot of copper in it,
five foot panels of copper plate! I have never before or since seen this use of copper with ornamental iron and the local powder coating factory had never clear-coated copper before! This piece is what really inspired me, maybe I could be an artist after all?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hands of an Artist

Going back to work is not as simple as it sounded. This is my thumb nail, my big toe nails are gone. What I used to build in a day will njow take me a week. The chemo-therapy that cured my cancer has left a lot of damage in its wake. The neuropathy in my hands will let me work for maybe fifeteen minutes and then I want to cry! At least I sit and give them a break! It is going to take some time, I am at the starting gate, waiting for the sound of the bell.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Doctor's Visit

Yesterday I had a visit with my real doctor. Real doctor in the sense that he is the one I have seen for years and he is the one who discovered my cancer. My cancer doctor, the one I call my "voodoo doctor" doesn't really look at me much and talks to me even less. I get a blood test from him and then he is after statistics. He is like a cook, adding so much of thisand a little of that to this chemical recipe. My real doctor actually talks to me, looks at me and touches me! Anyway,
apparently once someone gets neuropathy then they ave it forever! That is the bad news, the good news is, over time it will get a little bit better but ostly it is a case of getting used to it. I believe that. My hands feel as though I am picking through cut glass but already I am so restless that I am beginning to ignore them. I began a painmting the other day and already I will put it aside. I get to build a garden gate! Maybe my hands won't like this so much but mentally I am so ready for it that I don't care. It has been months since I have touched steel and I long for its expression! So, sore hands or not I am going to "forge ahead" (nice expression for a welder, huh?) and I get to make something this week! How fun!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Where I Work

This is my shop! I showed you mine, I want to see yours! I have a great shop/studio in my backyard surrounded by my garden, about a million flowers it seems and my tomato plants.
These photos are "the old days" about a year ago, before I discovered the cancer. Now mostly I work on "little art" and try to get better at painting. I love the strength and weight and permanency of steel but for now the neuropathy in my hands won't allow me to work with it.
But I am getting stronger every day, so, soon, I hope!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I thought I would show you some of my "metal art". The assignment for this job was to create an Entry to this garden. Tradition and protective and Big is what I saw so that is what I did. With metal work my "canvas"is often big. This total "piece" is about 30 feet wide and eleven feet tall.
I have so lost the strength to create this kind of art but it is nice to know that I did a lotof it and it will far outlast me! That is what artists want, isn't
it? Immortality!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Free to Paint

Sunday Morning. I can never say that I have learned to paint. I am retired, my experience is with welding, joining steel together at the atomic level. Painting is altogether different, far more subtle but no less expressive. I am liking it a lot but haven't a clue as to what I am doing. I do this in my metal shop on the welding table or most often hanging on the steel wall I use for fabrication. I began just about a year ago, painting on sheets of copper because that is what I had.
Painting on metal is not like canvas at all where the paint absorbs fast and you can't move it around. The paint on metal is alive, mixes mysteriously and has a will of what it wants to be. I eventially ran out of the copper sheets and did this painting on kitchen foil. In a digital world I took a photo of it and it exists only in my computer. The original foil painting became gift wrap on a present to a friend.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Morning

It rained so hard last night, the early Fall kind of rain that marks the end of summer, cleans the air and creates the first mud puddles marking Winter. Oregon is a wonderful State and we are lucky enough to have all four Seasons. The times are changing.
I haven't "done art" in over seven months. No welding, no painting. Cancer is mentally consuming and chemo-therapy is darnright painful. I am getting stronger every day but my hands feel full of cut glass. Everything I touch is like picking up razor blades. Art of some kind and the will to do it is boiling up inside me and I am learning to live with the pain. Yesterday I got my paints out and found a large canvas to work on. It is stretched on my welding table, gessoed now, about five colors of red and waiting for me to do something with it. Like "The Call of the Wild" it will tease me, waiting patiently, calling for me, and sometimes screaming, until I get to work on it. Nice to be wanted!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cancer Free

Good Morning, today will be a great day! Ralph, and soon I will learn to link to his site, has
inspired me to get back on to this blogging site. I am calling this blog "Cancer Free" because that is what I am! I just finished seven months of chemo-therapy, voodoo medicine, and I am alive!
NOW, what will I do? It is a little like being taken to the edge of Hell and then allowed a second
chance! I'll be re-telling that story a bit on here from time to time, so bare with me if you have heard it before! that will take you to my earlier blog if you care to skip ahead. I'll talk a little about my art here, just a little because that is what I am producing these days. I might talk of politics and our economy because we are all effected by that right now and I find it interesting what we are doing about it. I love my garden and myu shop/studio space and my shop kitty so you will bne hearing about them.
What will keep me going will be your comments! Feel free to tell me I am on the wrong track,
or just that you stopped by! Thanks so much, Jerry