This Malapert Blood

Friday, April 29, 2011

Making mini books

As I've said, I belong to the mini-books group on Yahoo. I love making these little books. There is a basic page with instructions for all kinds of books, but for some reason the writer included an image for one of my less favorite books. Still, here it is:

Vellum Pocket Book

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Try again

It must be uploading an image...

Swap-bot swap: Pocket Booklet - Plus
I swap with Swap-bot!

First picture?

This is a picture of the little booklet that Julia sent me to cheer me up. It's now on swap-bot, but the pockets will be filled with little goodies for altered art rather than ATCs or sayings. The main point is to see if the URL uploads along with the post...

First picture!

This is the little booklet that Julia sent me as a RAK -- random act of kindness, just to cheer me up. It's now on swap-bot but thee pockets will be filled with little goodies for others to use in altered art. Tha main thng is that it offered me the URL to put it on my site, so let's see how that works!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More entries in my mail art call!

I have been so excited to receive three mysterious postcards from Germany --mysterious because there is no return address. Again, I'm wondering how at least one of them reached me because it had the wrong zip code. One of them is up on the Flickr group since it arrived a day or so before the other two, which I haven't got around to scanning yet.

So far, the definite winner is the laminated postcard from Pedro Berricat. I don't know how I will frame this one for exhibition so that people can see both sides! Perhaps I could make a copy of one side and frame them both together? Or sandwiched between two pieces of glass? (But then how would people know to turn it over?)

Oh well, it's exciting that people are responding at all. Since the call for submissions has long disappeared from the first page, I wonder how many more will come? I left tags but can't imagine anyone will search on any of them except "collage". Still, that might be good enough.

Chris was kind enough to take several packages to the post office for me. Reading the USPS site last night, I was surprised to learn that you can't use a first class stamp for a CD mailer as it's not considered an envelope. An envelope can't be square, rigid, or made of something like cardboard or heavy cardstock like the CD mailers. It has to be rectangular, of certain dimensions, and flexible, and maybe some other requirements too. Oddly, I do believe I have sent several ATC swaps in CD mailers with just regular stamps, and I think they got through... at least I haven't had anyone scolding me on my Yahoo groups yet, telling me that my swap hasn't arrived.

I also entered the swap-bot call for little booklets like the one Julia sent me. I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to make one that is even all around and has the pages in the correct places! I have watched the tutorial a million times and am still having trouble. The irony is that I specifically waited for the Scor-Pal to arrive before even trying this booklet (after ruining one of another type) and it's not helping at all.

One problem is that you have to cut off the strip at the edge of 12x12 sheets of paper which identify the maker, pattern, etc. I am trying very hard to cut correctly but it's hard to get it exactly right. And one tiny mistake at the beginning multiplies as you go along. Julia gave me some tips, which I'll have to try.

I am getting so addicted to mini-books, it's not funny. Especially with my back pain. I am haunting YouTube watching tutorials -- often frustrating when YouTube stops to buffer. (It's a good thing they have a 10-minute limit because with the buffering watching a video can take 20 minutes!)

Mini-books are so cute. My main priority is making the ones for Creative Lenna's swap. (The swap is closed now, but if you scroll up you can see the books that have already arrived.) I am definitely sending the toilet-paper roll book and the Instant Book made with Basic Grey paper. (All these will be scanned in due time.) I WANT to include one of Julia's (or rather Christie Callahan's) little booklets with pockets, and also a Maze book. Or should it be the Tim Holtz book? Both of those are rather similar. Maybe I should try them first to see which is easiest...

Oh, and then there's Laura's Follow the Paper Trail 12 days of Christmas books, a couple of which I really like -- especially the snip and fold mini album. Or there's the Stamp Goddess's album with pockets too... so many to choose, and I can only send 4, with 1 more as a gift for Lenna.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mail art swap

I think one of the things contained in my lost post was that I listed a call for mail art at

So far I have received two submissions! The first one came the day after I listed the call, so the artist must have had them on hand. It's just a basket-weave photo postcard pretentiously called "Tan Lattice Klick-Klack" (sorry, Doug Galloway).

The new one which came today is absolutely fascinating. It's from Pedro Berricat in Spain. It is laminated. Would our post office accept that? The stamp is under the laminate, and the postmark is so rubbed off that it can hardly be seen.

Next, it is smaller than our postcard requirements. I guess if it gets here under the laws of its own country, our post office will deliver it.

Finally, it's a collage with several different stamps and addresses. I have no idea how the post office decided to send it to me, except that one address in the UK has the word "Digress" and there is a hand pointing to my address.

Anyway, it's quite marvelous and I love it.

As is traditional with mail art, documentation to everyone, no returns. The documentation is being published on my Flickr group "Gridded Squares" at

For some reason the small photos in the group all say "By Made Maka" and I don't kmow how to edit that to get rid of it. But when you click on the photos they are properly attributed. The only one that's actualy mine is the "ABC-123" collage.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The lost post

I wrote a post and swear I hit Publish, but it disappeared. The gist was that the chiropractor said some weird things and saw some weird stuff, but overall I improved a bit after going to her. But since Monday I've been in the worst agony again.

The awful thing is that I'm feeling, and trying to be, so creative. I joined Creative Lenna's mini book swap, and also have a Meander Maze book (check Youtube for a Tim Holtz video on how to make a 16 page book out of one sheet of paper) due on my mini-books Yahoo group.

I have made a four-page Instant Book which is going to Lenna, and a toilet paper roll book with tags and a cover-holder which is going too. Then I think I'll make the wonderful book that Julia Jacques sent me, and finally one from Following the Paper Trail. This one is a half-page (6x12) mini with eight pages, all holding tags. I just need to wait for my Scor-Pal because I don't do folding and scoring at all well.

I do have to make one comment, which is that Graphic 45 paper is the bomb -- the new Basic Grey. If you have seen an ATC, card, or anything with a steampunk theme, there WILL be an element or two from their Steampunk Debutante line. And it is wonderful; all their papers are.

I have to give a shout-out to 29th Street Market papers too, for being heavier and double-sided with quieter designs. Sometimes that's what you want. I think Julia used that paper in her book for me. She blogged about it here:

It is so darling and so addictive, I think everyone on the Altered stArt Yahoo group is making one! The design is by Christie Callahan of Christie's Creations and the tutorial is at

Friday, April 15, 2011

Feeling better????

I hardly dare to say it, but for the last couple of days I have been feeling better. Less pain, and I'm not taking more medications.

Rebecca, the chiropractor, was brisk but helpful. She talked about my kidneys and toxins (red flag) and suggested they might be the source of my pain (red flag). She also commented on how weird my ribs look on x-ray. It IS true that I've had a lot of rib pain since the PT marathon. It feels like I'm crushing them when I lie on mh side. Now, that's not normally the case. Normally, when you lie down you don't even feel your ribs. But I have points of soreness on both sides.

Rebecca did suggest some exercises to strengthen my core muscles and also the small muscles down my spine (e.g. by pressing my head against my hand). This may be what has helped. But also, strangely, the day before I felt better I had to get down on my hands and knees twice to pick up stuff from the floor. Ordinarily I'd think that would flare me up, if anything, since it would seem to bend my spine the wrong way, but who knows?

Today Marla had me get on my hands and knees briefly and stretch by putting my bottom down towards my heels. I couldn't hold myself up on my arms for long, so I put my head down. That's when she had me stretch. It didn't hurt.

Chris and I even went shopping last night at Staples. I keep knocking on wood, and God knows the pain is still there, but (as before) it's somehow more bearable again.

We'll see what happens. Marla did say that my shoulders were very tight again today, unlike the first day of feeilng better.

I got the most wonderful present from Julia Jacques in my Altered stArt Yahoo group -- a little accordion book with pockets for important sayings like "If it itches, don't wear it" and "Always ask for sprinklse". All very lighthearted and cute. She made those ATCs, too. I think I've figured out her technique for that, but I cannot see how she made the book. It has ten pages and would require 30 inche wide paper! It's the size of a maze book, but it has the pockets too. And it's bigger than a maze book made from scrapbook paper (3x3) since the cards are ATC size.

It was such a lift to get that book. I'm going to ask her for the directions.

Also, regarding my last post about mail art, I submitted a call for mail art at the site calling for submissions. I asked for Gridded Squares. So far I've only received one -- a preprinted postcard, which looks like the side of a basket but has a pretentious title. "Tan Lattice Klick-Klack". The artist mailed it the very next day, so he must have had it lying around. Anyone who is interested in mail art, check it out!

I'm also working on my litle books for the Creative Lenna swap and can't wait to get them. We are also having a maze swap on one of my Yahoo groups, but sadly the group has decided not to decorate their submissions. People want to add their own pictures and things. NOT ME! I'd so much rather get something already fabulous.

That's all for now. I have another shopping trip planned for tonight! And Andrew is comoing over on the weekend, with Sam at least. (Daniela is sick.) He sent the cutest video of Sam on his play mat mostly looking at Andrew, but you could see how much he must enjoy batting at the toys hanging overhead. Andrew says it keeps him entertained for an hour or so.

Monday, April 4, 2011

This chiropractor...

So, Marla is taking me to a chiropractor, whom she assures me does no bone cracking or manipulation, just massage, on Thursday. Today she said some things that made me wonder, though. Like if I have a pelvic tilt, I may not be able to get certain muscles to fire (and not be able to lift a leg, for instance). She also did an awful lot of work around my neck and sacrum, which is where this woman thinks pain comes from. She also referred again to "not so enthusiastic about Western medicine" which is always a danger signal for me.

On the other hand, Western medicine hasn't done anything for me. So why not at least see this woman.

I talked to Andrew Hughey, and of course he denied that he ever said I could hurt myself further (lie) and said that he never intended to hurt me and had only good intentions. Well, that sure helps. He did have one good suggestion, which was to tell me that I might try the pool at Memorial Hospital with a prescription. They don't do deep-water exercise, as they did in the St. Paul YWCA, so I wouldn't have to worry about my bottom floating up and extending my back. On the other hand, aerobics isn't what I need. I don't know what I need, of course. Maybe they will have some idea.

I got my altered matchbox from Melody Strahan today, and it's so cute. A little artist, with a tiny tag reading "ART", and inside are his brushes and stencil pounce with paint on them. I love miniatures and am really enjoying this one. People who aren't like this don't understand what a thrill it is to get mail... which is why I try to make things. To get stuff back!

When I read the book Good Mail Day, the authors wrote that you can just Google "mail art" and find all kinds of options for trading it -- but there aren't any, and even their links weren't exactly on point. Some out of date and some wanting very, very specific items. I just want to make stuff and send it and get things back. I would like to have a whole body of mail art work, like Lenore Tawney, but of course that's not going to happen. I just wish I could feel good enough to do ANY work regularly.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Okay, scratch all I wrote about the look of the blog. Simply changing the font to Cherry Cream Soda moved the description down into the tag area, and although it's not as clear, I can live with it. Awesome dawsome. Thanks for the college knowledge.

Speaking of this blog...

I like the background, which I got from The Background Fairy (click link in upper left) but why is the description above the tag, rather than inside it? I notice that some of her newer designs have the title placed such that the description would fall more into the proper area. But even using black and the Impact font, you still can't quite read the quote from which the title comes. It's "What, what? Nay, I must have..." The comma doesn't show after the Nay, and the whole thing is conspicuously outside of the tag. Which therefore looks silly just sitting there. Maybe I will change the whole thing.

So now that I've started, shall I blog? Should she paint, or write, or make her own underwear? Should I write about the centrality of my existence right now, which is pain? Unending, just about hopeless pain? I cannot convey to anyone how unbelievably awful it is to be in pain all the time, except perhaps when I lie a certain way for a while with ice or heat on my back. Then for a moment I think that it might be okay... and it never is.

What was really helpful was talking to Mary Anne yesterday. She broke her leg and dislocated her hip. She was bedridden for six months. Elizabeth had to bring her a bedpan. And then she started massage, and her massage therapist got her starting with baby steps ("Just ten steps today...) and now she's fine. A twinge or ache every now and then, but otherwise fine.

Can anyone imagine what it feels like to watch TV and constantly have at the back of your mind astonishment that these people are... JUST STANDING THERE? Walking around? Getting dressed, without pain. NOT IN PAIN!!! How awesome would that be? I can no longer imagine it.

And the horrible, horrible thing is that I was getting better last fall. I was pushing 80 lbs on the leg press. 20 minutes on the stationary bike. Calf raises, lifting weights, balancing on that ball or playing the game on the Wii where you have to navigate down the stream avoiding obstacles, or roll a ball into a hole (like that game which I could never do with my hands). Yes, it still hurt. I was still taking extra pain medication for therapy visits, and it still hurt all the time. But I could bear it. This is like when I was involuntarily confined in the psych hospital 3 months after I first broke my back and Chris and Andrew overreacted to my despairing statements about planning to kill myself when Chris went to work.

Of course, the only way out of a psych ward is to participate in the activities, go to meals, etc. I remember feeling then just as I do now -- sitting until I was shaking all over with pain. But then I could at least lie down on the bed and get relief. I could lie there for just five minutes and then be able to be upright for maybe 10 or 20.

But if something had broken again, wouldn't they see it on an x-ray? How could Andrew Hughey have destroyed my back during the therapy marathon in November? There was no instant pain, as when I broke my back. It has gotten worse incrementally -- the day after, I actually went back and did a few light exercises and the bike. I have been shopping for a Tempurpedic mattress. I sat at A&D's house when Daniela was almost due to give birth. Sat there with a pillow behind my back quite comfortable for an hour. I don't think I could do that now. But basically it's like it used to be, when I couldn't walk and needed a gurney to go to the doctor and back. Why is this LIKE that, but not showing up on any image?

Then they told me it had healed (another x-ray) and wow, it made all the difference. I sat, I walked, I climbed over a fence even (and fell out of a tree). I got lost walking Arbella in Concord and could be gone for half an hour.

Massage may help. Everyone keeps telling me that my pain centers are overwhelmed, and Mary Anne could hardly stand to be touched, and it helped her. That, and slowly increasing activity. Everyone says also that the more I lie in bed, the worse I will get. But that is what healed my back the first time, when it was broken. Everyone says it's not broken this time. So WHAT is it?

I can't believe that it's opiate-induced hyperalgesia. I mean, I probably do have OIH, even judging only from my testosterone level. But I don't for a minute believe that going off opiates is going to solve everything, like Kalra does. In fact, I am going to NEED those drugs to do ANY physical therapy for a while. I've got to convince him of that. Not lose it crying and sobbing, but explain that I do want to taper down, will taper down, but am going to need the meds for a bit longer than we thought, perhaps. We said three months. Maybe leave that open.

But anyway, this is my life. Thinking about pain, because the pain doesn't exactly leave me a choice. It's NOT something I can be distracted away from. Try telling someonee having a leg chopped off to watch a comedy. I did that last night, and was still, all along, marveling at the fact that there are human beings in this world who can live without pain. Who can do impossible things like stand for half an hour. Who can walk and run.

It must be hell for Chris -- but I wish he wouldn't get angry at me. I mean, ever. It's probably superhumanly rare that he shows it as little as he does, but why should he EVER be angry? Does he think I enjoy this? That I'm pampering myself? Why would you sound mean (which is all it is, but even that hurts) someone you supposedly love for something they can't help. Maybe it's unrealistic, but I don't think so. I could justify, in my own mind, asking for a lot more help. But I suppose it's going above and beyond for a man to be as forgiving (? Odd choice of word there), or maybe tolerant... no... as supportive as he is. I mean, he does do everything. But I wish I could too! It's not as if I use this to get out of things I don't like!

Things to ask Kalra about on Friday: TENS unit... Nerve ablation... Testing the SCS unit... Pain pump (Priote plus opiate)...

Find out about pain psychiatrist/ologist from Pang.

See or talk to Eichbaum, explain the attitude at UCSF, and ask him if he will be able to get me back there when I'm better (assuming that ever happens).

Excoriate Hughey.

Keep thinking about Mary Anne. She was in nearly the same position and came back.

TRY to spend a minute a day not thinking about the pain. I could do that in fall, although even then I was often being astonished at how much better the pain was. I was still thinking about it, just being amazed at how I felt being able to tolerate it. It WAS still there; I remember once talking to Hughey, sitting on a table, and I put my hands down to sort of lift my weight up and off my spine. He knocked my hand away and I remember saying that the pain was still there, but tolerable.

So I can get back there. Can't I? Yes, unless there's still something no one can see. It sure feels that way -- unstable and wretchedly, bone-on-bone painful. But if it were anything "real" it wouuld show up. Right? Right? I've got to believe that.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Wouldn't you know that a year after creating this blog with the best intentions, my first post is to enable me to GET SOMETHING.

And it's because I don't think doing it on Facebook counts.

Anyway, I follow the blog of an artist, Creative Lenna, who holds swaps which are also online classes. I would love to take one, but my back pain won't allow it just now. However, she has made an art journal and is going to give it away. Some people won't understand that -- and even as a longtime artist trading groups member and swapper, I am amazed at the generosity of giving away an art journal. The passion and effort involved in creating an art journal is so intense, at least in my mind, I'd have a hard time. But perhaps Lenna does them so often and so easily it's not much more than trading an ATC.

Here is her blog entry about the new class:

And here is the entry about the giveaway:

And here is her blog's button, which I hope will appear on my sidebar, and not create all the problems it did on Facebook (e.g. including a comment as the only text).