Fortunately, there were some moments in Paris that were almost light-hearted, even pleasant.The "Polishing" class at Sketchbook Skool prompted me to use a comics style to record a funny conversation. True story:
And again, I recorded an interesting day in Paris that included a museum, a good meal in a restaurant, demonstrations, and falling asleep over my stitching...
Ahhhh, do not despair--stitching still takes up most of my time. I stitched my way through April and May; in fact, I did much more stitching than sketching. I'm "writing" a "Book of Etudes" ("Studies"--memories of violin practice books from 40 years ago), a sort of textile sketchbook. I needed easily portable stitching to go to Paris and this project has been tugging at me for awhile. Yeah, I know, I know, I have a rule in place that says I have to finish things, not start new projects...but this was the call of the wild--high adventure. The rules were simple: only hand work with an emphasis on abstracted, fairly simple needle-turn appliqué motifs and embroidery. I have wanted to explore the mixture of appliqué and stitching for a long time. So I cut 5 black, or black and white, fabrics 8" x 12", put two temporary safety pins down the middle to hold them all together in a book, thus having pages of 8" x 6". And I left raw edges...which I may or may not regret. I chose some fabrics and threads that sang to me and carried the whole mess around with me in a small plastic sack in my purse.
I first stitched in place small rectangular pieces of fabric onto the background, then added larger pieces to appliqué.
The back side is equally interesting, a sort of shadow page that echoes the appliqué motif and stitching on the other side. The pages can be read in any direction.
Did I say simple shapes? Admittedly, I have a tendency towards complexity. Each page in the book requires more work and ruminating--so many possibilities. And despite the constricting circumstances of April and May, I was able to fly high thanks to my Book of Etudes.
Jiggety-Jig. Of course, I'm delighted to be back home and Mr. M. is now on the road to recovery and breathing well. Although this was an extremely difficult six weeks, we met with kindness and caring everywhere. My sketchbook/journal was a recycled student's paper from last year--regular typing paper, nothing precious, do-anything-you-want type of journal. The idea of incorporating memories of Tunisia into this record pleased me. In the airport, I sketched Mr. M. in his wheelchair.
In the airplane, I played with decorative lettering on the cover.
In another sketchbook with good paper I recorded my husband's first day after surgery. Full of tubes, groggy and somewhat puffy, he had to sit in a chair most of the day to help with breathing.
They had him up and walking almost immediately and so things seemed to be going well after a week in the ICU. There was talk of transfer to a regular room.
However, there was a complication (pneumothorax) and I found him the next day sedated and once again intubated. Although I could see that the ICU staff was on top of it all and very competent, it was still a hard day. I went back to my "Aparthotel" and ate chocolate. Some days require chocolate... Another week in the ICU and then finally Mr. M. was moved to a regular room, and miraculously, all the tubes and bandages disappeared. And so, after another two weeks in the hospital, the big day came when a gaunt-looking Mr. M. could leave.
Once again, I would like to thank you all for your support during this difficult time.
And I am indeed grateful to all the people at the Marie Lannelongue Hospital who worked conscientiously and with dedication to save the one I love.
After two weeks in the ICU, my husband is finally in a regular hospital room. His endarterectomy went well. All the tubes have been removed and he is now on the road to recovery. I spend afternoons with him, mostly stitching along with a bit of sketching. I am mostly unplugged, but hope to be back soon. We have much to be thankful for...
The suitcases are packed. We leave for a Parisian hospital soon. After sinking in the quagmire for so many months, I feel like we are finally moving forward. In line with my Finishing Rule for 2016, I completed a bag that will go with me. I did the panels for it when I made my recycled bathrobe (here) way back in January 2012 (gulp!). A couple weeks ago I added the sides and strap (old jeans), put in a lining with a zippered pocket, and sewed in a zipper across the top. I've been test driving it lately and it holds all the necessities, such as stitching, sketchbooks, and art supplies. I will be able to self-entertain for hours on end.
And so, we face another mountain to climb, but with hope. See you on the other side...
We went to a restaurant, Fondouk al-Attarine, in the Medina (the old city) in Tunis. It was such an astoundingly pleasant surprise that I had to think about why that was. The ancient building had been renovated and the restaurant had a traditional Tunisian theme done with such good taste that it made one regret the fine craftsmanship of the past. The food was very good, the waiters were pleasant, the background music (Fairouz songs) was low, the ambient temperature was perfect, the restrooms were impeccably clean. I had a bit of time to sketch and then, inspired by the sepia colors, painted a bird statuette the next day.
Leaving the Medina, I went home still pondering. After ruminating on the experience for a couple of days, I finally figured it out. Everything had been carefully planned, every detail from the glass ceiling and ventilation to the tablecloths, and everything was finished. I haven't seen anything well-finished in Tunisia in a l-o-n-g time. The difficulty of finding qualified tradespeople defies reason. My own walls are cracking, but the masons we find never show up; there are moldings that need finishing, but the carpenter is too "busy"; the list is long. Since the "revolution", it requires superhuman willpower to maintain anything in Tunisia. For the moment, I can highly recommend Fondouk al-Attarine if you are in the neighborhood.
However, if they can maintain their standards, I will suspect that they are superhuman, or possibly from another planet...
Yes, I can finally, finally announce good news. We are packing our bags and have a date for my husband's operation (endarterectomy) in Paris. We will soon be leaving. I must say a heartfelt "Thank You" to all my friends: thank you for your moral and financial support. You have eased my burden considerably and the future is looking less bleak. You have given me the courage to persevere and to help my husband as best I can. And so my thoughts turn to Paris...last December we were there to see the doctors, yet we managed a short "vacation." We tried to have some fun, which helped relieve some of our underlying anxiety. Besides some very slow walks along the Seine and in the Latin Quarter, we ate at some interesting restaurants.
We visited a couple of museums. The Fragonard exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum was beautifully set up.
Fragonard (18th century) was pretty race-y. I sketched a drawing that was relatively sedate--if you didn't read the title. Fragonard made the most of dramatic lighting and set nature into wild movement as a background for libertine "activities".
We walked through the gardens at the Rodin Museum where I managed to sketch a bit of one statue. A copy of the Thinker (sideways) was in the metro station (just time for a blind sketch). Rodin's distortions caught my eye--huge hands and feet, off-balance figures. Very daring and surprising.
A logo to encourage tourist spending tickled my funny bone. This time around, I'll try to take in a few museums and do some urban sketching. But mostly, I'll be stitching on The Pomegranate Tree Quilt (particularly the wild weeds) while sitting in a hospital waiting room...waiting... Yes, there is yet another mountain to climb, but, we face the future with hope.
And at the risk of sounding repetitive, I must finish with a huge...