Thursday, June 30, 2016

July Break


Hello my blogsy people, this will be a rather personal non artsy post, so don't say I didn't warn you. ;-)

I have been a diabetic (type 2)  for about fifteen years. I may have mentioned it here at some point, but this is an artsy blog, not a health blog so it doesn't really seem relevant to talk much about it here. And since things were going well, why would I? My glucose levels varied between good and acceptable, I felt fine and my other blood results and eye checks and all the things that come with this disease were always great. No damage whatsoever. I was not fantastic in my active control (oh carbs, how I love thee), but it was good enough. I took some pills, I took some care,  and that was that. Somehow there was a workable balance.

Since about the beginning of this year however something has shifted and I'm no longer doing so great. Don't get me wrong: I felt fine, but my glucose levels got way too high. So after trying to tweak my medication without the wanted result my doctor decided it was time to start me on insuline. Well partly anyway. Some pills were dropped and one was kept and now I inject a long working insuline called Lantus every night.

Now in a way I am lucky because I grew up with a diabetic mother (there's a lot of it on her side of the family). This means that injections and things like that don't really scare me and as for checking my own glucose levels I have been doing that on and off for years, so a fingerprick doesn't scare me either. In fact if I compare the two I'd much rather shoot insulin than stick a needle in my finger for a little drop of blood. Those things can be nasty! Anyway, don't feel sorry for me about the whole injection thing, it's no big deal.

My first batch of insuline and a brand new glucose meter.


What is a big deal is that I'm out of balance and we (doctor and me) still have to find the correct dose. We are now at a stage that things are definitely improving and my fasting glucose is within limits, but my non fasting can still go too high. After weeks of back and forth with the doctor (at first I had to go to her office every time, but later we did it by phone every few days) I am to keep up the current dose for a few weeks and then we'll do an extensive blood test again halfway July to see how my average levels are now. I'm quite sure they will be better than two months ago and I'm also quite sure they will still be too high. So I'm also sure there will be more tweaking after that.

I am also fiddling with my diet and counting carbs (thank god there's an app for that) like an obsessive person trying to find a middle ground that will get things in balance again without going too high or too low. It's a frustrating process I have to tell you, because even now that  I'm being a true saint about my food my levels are still not good. This really sucks, but maybe I want too much too soon. We've only been at this for a month after all (it feels a lot longer). These things take time.

What is the hardest for me is that where my higher levels a few months ago didn't really seem to affect me, all this tweaking and back and forth is wearing me out. It's both physically and emotionally straining and I'm simply tired and have much less energy. Being so overly focused on glucose levels, food and doctor's appointments is really not how I want to live, but it's necessary right now to find my balance again.

My lowest non fasting glucose level in the past month. I took the pic just to prove to myself it's possible. ;-)


It doesn't help that the first half of this year has been pretty stressful for all sorts of reasons, varying from several  sick people in my close surroundings, some deaths even of more distant aquaintances and a bit too much stuff at work. The first weeks/months with Spooky were pretty stressful too. Nothing dramatically major, but just a lot of goings on at the same time. Enough to make me worry too much and sometimes even lie awake at night.

Now, I've always been a thinker with a full head of thoughts and ideas, but I'm really not a worry wart by nature. So this is not a good thing. I have had nights where I'm wide awake before, but that's usually when I have too many ideas for creative projects or things I could do and I'm just too excited to sleep. This is different.

Mostly though I sleep a lot. I find it harder to get up early on my days off and I find it harder to find the energy and enthousiasm for my art. If I could summarize my current condition in four words they would simply be: "I am just tired."

So as part of my self care I have decided to take it easy for a while and give myself some space and rest. Part of that is taking a blog break. I love doing this blog, but I think it would do me good not to have to think about it for a few weeks. For now I'm simply thinking of not blogging for the month of July and to come back in August. I'm sure I will miss you all before then.
I will also take a brake from my Morning Book. Not from art, but from the discipline of getting up early every morning to do that  particular thing before breakfast.  I will simply do art when I feel like it for a few weeks. Or not. It's all okay for now.

I will not be going offline. I'm not looking to escape the world or something and I have to be practical, since this is not a full vacation. I'm just trying to take it down a notch. Also posting things on Instagram and Facebook always keeps me looking for the good stuff in my life: the beauty of my island, the love for my cat, the enjoyment of drawing and colouring and other things that make me happy. So if you miss me you can follow me here or here.

If you want to contact me you can mail me at c.m.j.winkelman[at]home.nl or through the contact form in the sidebar.

I see this as a vacation for the mind and July, the midst of summer, seems a good time for it. I wish you all a wonderful and artsy month and hope to see you back here come August. I shall miss you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A bit of sketching

I don't sketch a lot. By sketching I mean drawing things from life. It's one of those things that I wish I would enjoy more, mostly because I think it's an important skill for any artist to be able to render what they see. It gives you control over the lines you draw and helps to translate visions you have for you own art to the page or the canvas, even if your art is abstract or 'doodly' like mine mostly is.

I very occasionally draw things, not nearly enough to even come close to growing a skill, but every little bit is better than nothing, right?

Here's two pages I did recently in a newly adopted sketchbook:




 


The sketchbook is a Canson Art Book 180, which opens nice and flat, and the drawings were done with a simple black fineliner.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate doing these types of drawings. It's just that when it comes to a choice I'd rather be doing things that are in my head and play with shapes and colour instead of trying to render something realistic I see in front of me.

But who knows, maybe dedicating a whole sketchbook to actual sketching will get me more into it. I'll keep you posted!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Spooky assistance

My new cat Spooky (new to me, he's adopted and three years old) has been with me for almost four months now and finally his personality is really starting to show. After a rocky start as scaredy cat and getting to know his new surroundings and me especially he is now really starting to blossom as a cat. It's a wonderful process to witness and I'm so glad I gave him the time to come around on his own and not force anything.

He's not a cat that follows me around all day, but when he's in the mood he is really affectionate and he loves to be petted from time to time. His favorite affectionate move is head butting my face over and over again. It makes me melt I have to tell you. :-)

The first months he didn't play at all, but in the last few weeks he seems to be finding his inner kitten again and is having so much fun with the toys I got him and that I was afraid he would never touch.

He's made a cat friend (also a black one, but with white socks) in the neighbourhood and watching them together is so adorable. They even have a mutual enemy and Spooky will come home from time to time with battle scars. He really is a street mongrel sometimes.

He goes outside almost every night and ever so once in a while will deem me good enough to keep me company on my bed, but in general outside nightly adventures are way more interesting. However when he is home for the night he loves to crawl all the way into the curve of my neck and its sounds like a hive of bees is sleeping next to my face for all the humming and buzzing he does.

When I'm home and relaxing during the day he often likes to lay beside me on the couch or sort of half on my lap like this:


His body is mostly on the couch, but his front paws and his head or on me. That way I am in petting position. He especially likes doing that when I'm reading.

Other times a leg hug is enough contact:


This makes me smile. It's the ultimate 'you're mine' gesture. :-)

And of course he is also starting to be a better (read 'more intrusive') assistant. He will often try to help me with my Morning Book or sit on my sketchbooks when I'm trying to take a  picture of them for my blog or Instagram/Facebook. That leads to situations like these:

"No need to finish a drawing, a handsome Spook makes everything complete."

"Hey let me help you colour code those markers!"

"I'm smug because I'm being such a great assistant."

"You'd better be journaling about me!"

"All mandalas look better with a cat promoting them."

"I'm a supermodel. Just forget about that sketchbook."
After four months I think it's safe to say that Spooky has found his forever home and is very much enjoying it. I love him to death, maybe even more so because I really had to win his trust and affection. He still is scared of strange humans, I think that's never going to really stop, but that's okay with me as long as he seems healthy and happy and trusts me enough to get in my way, haha.

As a matter of fact, if you find strange typos in this post it's because he walked across the keyboard of my laptop at least six times since I started typing, one time even making this post disappear and me worried that I had lost the whole thing (luckily blogger autosaves everything). That's a truly  dedicated assistant for you!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy weekend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

From the Morning Book

My Morning Book is my daily art practice. I work in it every morning right after getting up for half an hour, so no matter how the day goes I know I have at least done one little creative thing. I am enjoying it very much, which is about the only reason I can keep it up.

Here are some finished pages for your viewing pleasure (I hope!):







All these were drawn with a pigma pen and coloured in with Tombow dual brush markers. The birthday one was also washed with water for a painterly effect. I did that one on my own birthday and now use it a lot to congratulate people on Facebook. So sometimes there actually is a practical use for all this artsy stuff, haha.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Flowers

We are entering the time of year when the island is at its most idyllic. Everything is green and abundant, the weather is milder, the wind is softer, the winter storms are far away. And...things are in bloom.

On one of my recent walks I decided to try to take some close ups with the camera on my smart phone and I was pleasantly surprised by the very crisp results, so I decided to share some with you.










Fall and Winter (when things are much more rugged and desolate and wild) will always be my favorite seasons, but never let it be said I don't appreciate the beauty of spring and summer!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

From the Pattern Book

I know, I know! Just about every book I work in has in some way become a pattern book, but I still consider the moleskine sketchbook as the one and only original Pattern Book.

I have been doing what I call grid drawings in it recently. That basically means I start out with drawing a 1 cm squared grid on the pages in pencil and then use the lines to make up a symmetrical type of pattern. After that I draw out that pattern in dashed lines, remove the pencil lines and colour everything in with markers.

Here are some of my latest spreads:





I'm not quite sure why these drawings are so satisfying to me or why I'm so obsessed with patterns in the first place, but I guess when it comes to art you just have to go with what you love. :-)

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Movie time!

A while back I posted some short videos on this blog to give you an impression of the beauty of this island in moving pictures. The responses were positive enough for me to do another video post.

Here are some video's I've taken in the past month or so.

video

Above is a place called 'Oude Kooi', which literally means 'Old Cage'. It was used as place to catch wild ducks. Tame ducks were used to lure wild ducks into the wooden entrapment and then those wild ones could no longer get out. It has not been in use for many years, but it was fully restored a few years ago and is one of the most magical places on the island. It is surrounded by lots of ferns and small dirt roads and fully hidden from view from any main road.  

video

This is 'Nieuwe Kooi', which indeed means 'New Cage'. It was meant to be a duck catching place just  like the old one, but it was never put into use, so it just remained a pond in the middle of the woods. It's also a very quiet place. I often feel many of the tourists can come here for years without ever seeing these two 'cages', which is a pity, but also kind of a blessing, because you can be fully alone there even in the busy season.

video

This is the Posthuyswad. I have no good translation for 'wad', but I think 'floods' comes pretty close. It's on the west side of the island. The Posthuys is and old way station for the mail service that came through here back then. Now it's a restaurant and hotel quite removed from the town. It's kind of like the last outpost of the island and a very popular place among tourists. Anyway this is the Posthuyswad at low tide when a lot of it is laid dry. In the very distance you can see the part of the island that is the east side and that's where the town is where I (and most other people) live.

video

Along the Posthuyswad runs a dyke and on the other side of that dyke are the Kroons Polders. They are basically a failed attempt of making extra dry land on the west side of the island. Now it's a protected wildlife area where thousands of birds live and prosper. You may not enter the area, but you can walk along side it by use of the dyke, which is where I was standing when I took the above video.

video

Lastly I cannot give you a bunch of videos of my island without at least one look at the ocean. This was taken about halfway the island on the north side from the top of a dune on a gloriously lovely day with wind and lots of waves and foam on the beach. This is the North Sea by the way. Just breath it in!

Well, I hope you got your island fix with these little movies. I know that Blogger downsizes them, so don't try to enlarge them too much, because they will become too pixelated. Still, they should give you a good impression of this place I call home.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day!

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