Thursday, January 22, 2009

Freezing in Florida!

Yesterday morning I looked out my kitchen window, and to my surprise there were 4 men in a small boat huddled up with fishing poles in hand on the canal. It was 30 degrees out! I got my binoculars to see what kind of brains it took to go out at sunrise in freezing weather! These guys had on big heavy coats, winter hats, gloves, leg warmers . . . I laughed. I thought " it must be pretty bad at home or these guys have no common sense at all." The fish live out there all day, you do not have to go early in the morning to catch them. We catch them at noon, or late in the afternoon . . . These poor guys, 4 of them, not one or two as you might commonly see, 4 freezing guys hunched over with coffee thermoses and fishing poles (and no room to move around), sat out there in one spot for five hours! Most fishermen keep moving, they go up and down the sides of the canal and keep finding new places to catch fish. I never saw them pull up anything! Every time I looked out the window I just laughed again. You know they went home to tell a miserable tale!

We have had cold spells, once it even got in the lower twenties, ice and all! It was Christmas eve and Christmas day and everyone hoped for snow. The power company had to shut down every hour for 20 minutes or so to keep up with the demand for heat. That was back in 1989!

This past October, yes I said October, we had the first round of frost warnings, and again in November, for most of the month off and on it was in the forties most mornings. Sometimes the thirties. The week before Thanksgiving we had frost and freeze warnings again. It warmed up some for Christmas and New Years, This past week it has been in the forties most mornings. Now it is very cold, upper twenties this morning, thirty degrees yesterday morning and tomorrow it is to be in the upper thirties! For Florida this is just way colder for way longer than usual.

Not complaining, just wondering what happened to the global warming I keep hearing about???!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Painting Violets, step by step

Prime a small piece of hardboard, at least two coats then sand lightly with fine sandpaper. Or use a primed canvas and sand it lightly with fine sand paper to make it smooth. Take pictures at different angles of the flowers you want to paint.

The sun was coming through the window on these violets in my kitchen. It made vibrant colors and strong shadows, so I thought it would make a nice painting. I put the image on my computer, zoomed it in and cropped it to this format.

Draw some rough thumbnails on scrap paper to get compositon ideas. I placed the flowers a little off center for a stronger composition. The photos had the flowers too centered which makes the painting less interesting in most cases.

I am using acrylic paints.

(Click on the images to see a close up)

Step 1: Rough in basic shapes with a medium to large flat brush. Use water to make the paint thin and easy to apply.

Step 2: Decide on a background. The photo was pale orange and white and the leaves did not show up well, so I went with blue. I also strengthened some of the colors in the leaves.

Step 3: Make corrections. I changed one of the leaves in the background and put some base color on the violets. I used redviolet, purple and ultramarine blue with white to get varying shades of colors.

Step 4: Lay in thick paint. I used thick amounts of color, first in the back ground, then on the leaves.

Step 5: Add details. I start using a small brush when I add details, but I am still using thick paint.
My attention here is on the violets. I want them to stand out the most and be the focal point.
Hint: Take a break when you think you're done, look at some other things and come back with a fresh eye. Turn the painting upside down, or look at it in a mirror to see the overall color balance.
Almost finished, but I need to fix the leaves on the right and the one just below the bottom flower. I also want to finish up the flowers with more details. After the corrections are made, I use a very small brush to add a few extra details and sign my name.
I put important information on the back (copyright, full name, date, medium used, etc . . . ) and keep the front with a small signiture using a color that goes with the painting.

Here is the finished painting:

6 x 6 inches
Acrylic on hardboard
By Fawn McNeill Barr

Click here for more painting tips!  Happy painting!

Doctor's report

Robert had a good series of scans, the shunt is working and the headaches are easing off. The Doctor told him he could wait until he is fully recovered to begin any radiation therapy or radio surgery. The tumor in his inner ear is very small and non-cancerous, and is growing very slowly.
In the meantime he is trying to get his strength back and keep food down. He has lost more than 13 pounds the last three weeks, because the headaches make him nauseous.

The shunt was put in November 21st, 2008. It has a valve that regulates the pressure in his brain. If the ventricles in the brain swell to much the valve opens and the excess fluids drain through a small tube that runs under the skin from the top of his head down into his abdomen, where his body absorbs the fluid. The valve makes a bulge under his skin on his head, and the tube runs through a small hole they drilled in his skull and through his brain into the ventricles.

It is all very amazing to me!

The ventricles usually drain fluids away through small channels in the back of the head. The tumor in his inner ear is close to this area and next to the brain. It can cause swelling that shuts of the normal draining process. This causes the ventricles to fill with excess fluids and the brain swells too. It shuts down the nervous system.

In the week before the surgery, Robert lost the use of his legs, his bodily functions, and his ability to communicate. I thought the brain damage would be permanent, and I am so glad I was wrong! He is making a full recovery! He does have tremors in his hands, which started about a year ago, but were very mild. now they are much more prevalent. No one seems to know why.

Some headaches are expected from the shunt surgery, (after all they drilled a hole in his head!) but these usually don't last so long and get better not worse. The other factor is that when they do surgery they tip your head way back and put a tube down your throat. Robert has an old injury to his neck that is really hurting now, and the headaches run up from the back of his head to the shunt area, then spread out.

The Doctor said they will probably come and go, but they should get better now, And his chiropractor has been helping with the neck injury.

On top of all this Robert has had shingles since September! I have never seen a more miserable thing happen to a person. After the blisters go away the nerves inside his body get easily agitated and he said he feels like someone has hooked him up to an electrical current. If I hit a bump in the car and don't slow way down, he grabs his chest and moans.

So I keep asking God, how much can one person bear? Why does he have to suffer so much? Well, my mother sent this book to me, called "The Shack," and there it is!!!! The answers to so many questions. It opened up my mind to new ideas and new understandings. I thought maybe Robert was so hard headed and so stubborn, that God had to let all these things happen to teach him a lesson. I am sure he will be forever changed and learn many things from all this, but my understanding now is that our own choices, our own independence that we value and declare to God so often (that we can do things on our own) can cause us to reap the painful consequences.

I have truly been challenged to the very core of my faith. I am selfish and demanding, and very impatient. I am so wrong to think that God wants us to suffer. Father God is faithful in spite of it all. He may answer "No" sometimes, and even worse, "wait." Yet so many times he does answer "yes" too!!!!