On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

If you can't draw, just tessellate

In Julia Cameron's book, THE WRITING DIET, she has this line, "Very often you will find that you are eating instead of taking a creative action." And she goes on to define "creative action" as just about anything that isn't eating. Vacuuming the living room rug could be a creative action if that's what needs to be done. Today is my 4th day on this diet project of mine and hers so I'm trying extra hard to do things rather than eat them.

Today I took two creative actions. The first was to plan ahead for the Thursday afternoon Arts and Crafts boys at Juvenile Hall. I've always wanted to learn how to make tessellating objects and found a simple idea to work from in the USBORNE BOOKS OF ART SKILLS. I plan to make this a two week project. First I'll teach the boys how to cut the square into the shape of a bird and how to map it out on bristol paper. Next time we'll add the paint. Here's my prototype to show them where we're going with this -- but they can choose their own colors (as long as they're not gang related.... a reality I must work around).

My second creative action was to complete a short assignment for my online autobiographical writing class. The task was to briefly write about a love-hate moment. I chose this one that happened about 25 years ago and epitomized my relationship with my son, who I have always adored. Here it is:

I never have been one to keep up with household chores, but every now and then I’m reminded that I really should. When my kids were in their teens I filled the ironing basket until we were all threatened with nudity and then gave up, hauled out the old squeaky board and turned the iron on to heat.

On this particular day I was standing there, looking at the mound of wrinkles waiting for me and dreading every heated moment. I rescued a few hangers from the coat closet, ransacked our bedroom for a bunch more. Not nearly enough.

Now I had a dilemma to face. Having always respected my kids’ increasing need for privacy, I never went through their belongings. But faced with this heap of laundry and too few hangers, I went to my daughters’ room and gathered up the empties. Neatniks they, their unused hangers were tidely set to the side of the hanging bar.

I ironed forever, watched the pile diminish and thrilling myself with the growing row of neatly smoothed pants, blouses and shirts. I was on the proverbial roll.

But that naggy, not-enough-hangers problem eventually re-emerged so I went to my son’s room to find some more. I nearly twisted my ankle just walking through his debris. Every time I asked him to clean his room he would do it -- and then just let it do its thing until the next request.

I made it to his closet door and pulled it open. YIKES and ohmygod! The ceiling light was burning -- and apparently had been for several weeks. Reaching out to greet me was a six-foot marijuana plant, its five-fingered hands leaning out to shake mine.

I’ll spare you the words exchanged at the dinner table that evening. Let’s just say that the problem was solved -- and I won. And we all had freshly ironed clothes the next morning.


  1. I love this story, and how you kept the details a mystery, but you revealed the ending, and that you won. That's all that matters, right?

    I teach high school, and they enjoy tessellations-you can turn off a part of your brain and just enjoy the repetitive aspect of the tessellating (which isn't a word.)

    Have fun!

  2. I lurk on your blog, cause I like your energy and also that we share a common interest in doorways.

    So, after today's story, I had to pop in to say hello. You are a great story teller and I admire that a lot, from one story teller to another.

  3. I hope I get a boost from TWD. After seeing it on your blog I went out and bought it. Am back to MP's and, I hope, to taking actions that are beyond the scope of empty calories. Your on-line autobio course sounds interesting, too. Do you have a link to it? Must find the tesselation how-to's... It always looked too mathematical.
    Oh, and did you or did you not do chemo? I'm having "issues." ;-/

  4. Great story! You will be writing a book, right? The tessellate drawing is very cool.

  5. This is a hilarious story. The ending was such a surprise, I shouted with laughter!

    And ... The Writing Diet? I'm going to have to look into that. I like the idea of taking a creative action rather than eating!


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