Saturday, January 30, 2021

Witchy Cooking Show

 I feel ya, Witch Hazel!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

More Fun Stuff!


I'm still having an inordinate amount of fun making necklaces for Hallowe'en lovers, witches, and Hallowe'en Brides! In between, I've thrown in some things I call suncatchers, which can be hung from rear-view mirrors or in front of a sunny window.

The cold disappeared for a couple of days, so I was back out on my pottery wheel, but then it came back and brought the much-needed rain with it! 

So back inside I went, to continue playing with ideas from my mom's old stash of beads, then adding from my own. A couple of friends have even sent some selections from their stashes they thought would work for what I'm doing, and I'm looking forward to creating fun things from them!

I feel that I can offer both the lighthearted and the darker versions of Hallowe'en equally well!

You can click on each picture to be taken to that listing, or just head on over to my ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store to browse around!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Grins All Around


New Yorker Halloween cover, November 4th, 1985.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Baby, It's Bloody COLD Outside!

And as much as I live to have my hands in clay, I can't express how torturous it is to have to wash off my tools in forty degree water! I have never missed the utility sink I bought for my old studio more than I do now!

But creativity needs an outlet, so I started playing with jewelry. Downtown L.A. has a mind-boggling amount of top-notch beading stores, run for the fashion districts needs. You can get pretty much anything you can imagine if you just have the time and patience to look. And believe me, before the plague hit, I looked!

My mom had a leftover stash of jewelry makings. Beads, findings, wire, all of it. I added some beads and chains to that stash. A dear friend sent me some Halloween pendants to play with, and those have almost all been incorporated into some new pieces!

So far, these things are the only necklaces in the ShellHawk's Creations shop, though I have more to post and will be posting over the next week or so!

I have fallen in love with agate beads, and love the blues and all their variations! It reminds me of those beautiful Hawaiian ocean waves!
I made some little suncatchers, as well. Or they could hang from a rear view mirror. Or somewhere out in the garden...

So pop over to my ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store and pick up a nice treat! (There might just be a 15% discount code for my blog readers!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

January 6th, 2021


(Please see previous post.)

Friday, January 1, 2021

Delightful Delusions of January 1st

Vintage me, circa mid-1990s. Younger and thinner!

"New Year, new YOU!" fitness center ads have screamed every year for yonks. Pre-Covid, every gym has been inundated with new memberships starting in January, most often new members striving to get back the fitness they had in their teens or twenties. 

New members swarm from January until sometime in March, when aches, pains, and the ever-shifting demands of life pulls the not-as-dedicated back into old habits. Usually whatever ground they've gained is lost, and the pounds they've lost are regained, plus a few more.

While I've been inconsistent at the gym (when it was still open, that is), I am a year-round sort of person. These past few years have been tough, and I found that working out reduces my stress levels and evens me out. I dropped about ten pounds and I feel I have about twenty to go. I've been stuck losing and gaining the same five pounds over and over for the past couple of years, though.

But when the gym was open, I loved building up my cardio. I believe we all know why, yes?

(Unfortunately, after months and months of lockdown, all I can do is pray for shambling zombies, instead of runners. With the way 2020 has unfolded, I really was expecting either Cthulu or zombies as the season finale.)

I was disappointed when Covid-19 came along and shut my gym down, since that's the only place I can get a hold of a rowing machine, treadmill, or elliptical machine, and I was actually able to be consistent for months. My knees are thrashed and I've been given strict orders by my doctor to avoid running. I ignored the order a few years ago and was rewarded with painful knees and a sudden need for anti-inflammatories. So much for the neighborhood jog! 

I am grateful I had the presence of mind to purchase a few kettle bells for working out in my room when the plague first descended. When I had my shoulder surgery a few years back, my surgeon said that the amount of arthritis in my shoulder was, and I quote, "alarming." He admonished me to keep up with my exercises so the muscles would be strong enough to support the shoulder joint. (Stage 4 arthritis at my age is no joke!) The kettle bells are really handy for maintaining my strength when my shoulder wants to sound like a fresh bowl of Rice Crispies any time I reach above my head. 

Also, a high school buddy challenged me to do one hundred pushups a day. This is a person who had to change her diet due to medical issues, and topped it off with a renewed dedication to exercise and consistency worthy of a Navy SEAL. She's in the best shape of her life and has taken up surfing, again. She's strong and can probably hold a plank for a year without breaking a sweat. She's 52 and in the best shape of her life.

It's inspiring. It's disgusting. But she's a sweet soul and I can't bring myself to detest her.

I know all this sounds sort of rambling and nearly irrelevant, but stick with me, here.

I could look like this, but there are cookies.
Another friend (a lady who, like me, has the age of fifty firmly in the rear view mirror) and I, have talked about the physical limitations which seem to come with our age. The frustrations, the pains, the realization that we just aren't physically who we were when we were twenty. She's very self-deprecating, and from time to time I admonish her to be kinder to herself because, well, being skinny is overrated and I hate to hear women talk down about themselves because they don't match the current, unreachable, physical ideals. Especially when sixty lies in wait around the bend. 

I encouraged her not to be so hard on herself, because, hey! Linda Hamilton is in her sixties and look at what she did! She got fit for the latest Terminator movie, so maybe we can, too! There's hope, isn't there?

Of course, I also pointed out that if I were paid millions and had a personal chef and trainer, along with the time to train that hard, I'd look like that, too!

I really was trying to be encouraging. I'm aware of what happens to a woman's body after menopause, and keenly aware of what happens after a hysterectomy.

Then I read an article, and then another, about what Ms. Hamilton had to do and the help she had to get there from trainer Mackie Shilstone, who has been Serena Williams' personal trainer. I read with great despair that she didn't have a carb for a year.

In any case, he made some very good points about how women's bodies age and what his expectations of Hamilton were.

"Post-menopausal women tend to accrue more visceral abdominal fat, and this places them at risk of Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. While many women don’t realize this, women in this age group have the same cardiovascular risk as a man – the result of changes in their estrogen-dominate hormone system."
"Linda had an inherent drive and determination to make a change. It is one that other women might use as a road map for their life – that you can affect positive change if you are willing to take a first step. What was that step? In the face of adversity, you must see opportunity to feel and look better, and take back ownership of your health."

Well, OK. This is all fine and good, but most of us don't have the money to get a "bio-mechanical analysis," like Hamilton. We don't have a major studio paying for our "pre-habilitation" (injury prevention) exercises so we don't get hurt and set a production back by six months while we recover from surgery and complete rehab and physical therapy.

Even so, I still think about what he said, since he's an expert, even as I encourage my friends to keep moving, keep walking, keep going. The depression which has cloaked us in lockdown can be mitigated by exercise. We all know that. We also know that making unrealistic demands of ourselves is setting ourselves up for feeling like a failure and creates yet another kind of stress. Not a feeling we need in these already mentally harrowing times.

Maybe we physiologically aren't capable of what Hamilton is, due to other health factors, but we can make small changes and take control of our health, again, like the man said.

I took up my disgustingly strong and fit friend's challenge, in spite of my arthritis. I figured if I started small and was careful about my form, I could, at the very least, give my shoulders the support they needed. Initially, I did pushups on an angle on my desk at work, then pushups from my knees. Now I can do full body pushups in sets of twenty-five, all hundred of them. All the way up, and all the way down, until my belly hits the floor. I feel I'm on a good path, even if I don't do a hundred every single day like I know I should. 

I don't have Hamilton arms, but maybe they'll lift my 25 pound bags of clay with more ease. That would be a nice result.

I think it's important to make our own determinations about what self-care looks like. There are definitely times when I need to give myself a firm talking-to, to get myself out of bed (which serves as my office, my drawing studio, my jewelry design studio...) and get moving. I know myself well enough to recognize when I'm using work as an excuse not to move. Work is, after all, virtuous, in our society's mindset. If I'm working, I'm accomplishing, right? Plus the dog is comfortable and snuggly. It would be awful to disturb her!

This is a tough one for people who had parents who made them constantly work and never allowed them to sit and relax when they were kids. Perpetual motion is a major mental illness in our culture, and one I battle almost daily. Unfortunately it bleeds over into my exercise habits. I know I need to be aware of when I need rest and when I'm in avoidance.

So while it would be awesome to be strong like my high school friend or strong and a major badass like Linda Hamilton, going off the fitness deep end doesn't feel like the right answer to me. Incremental changes? Yes. That sounds right. It'll be nice to have my clothes fit a little better. And let's be honest: it would be great to be able to survive Skynet and running zombies.


BTW, here's a board I made of exercises, complete with alternate options for old cripples like me!