Author Archive for Visual Mama



See more stickers | Share this sticker!


New Artwork

K. Mena, Acrylic 11x14


The Sevens Have It

It’s Monday night, so get out your dancing shoes and get ready for Dancing with the Stars.  First up, Jake and Chelsie.  They look great out of the gate.  He even had a quasi-sexy presence that caught my attention.  Which is kind of gross when he is probably my son’s age.   Once again, however, Jake trips over his own feet.  At some point during the dance each week he trips.  My guess is that by the end of the season they will wind up on the floor at least once.  Chelsea seems to have that kind of luck with her partners.  Remember when Louie Van Skater-Dude dropped her on her behind?  Poor girl.  

Next up Evan and Anna did a gorgeous looking dance.  She looked cute in her white outfit, and Evan was all grace:  long beautiful arms, stunning lines.  The only problem was the judges said it was not the samba it was supposed to be.  Who knew?  I was captivated.  That is the fascinating part about watching shows like this.  I don’t know a proper samba from a hole in the wall.  I just know what looks pretty to me.  I voted for them anyway.  Anyone who suffers a mild concussion in rehearsal gets a pass from me.  One last observation:  he is the most polite contestant ever.  He smiles in the face of criticism to the point where I sometimes wonder if there is anybody in there.  Not even his eyes change.  It’s probably his Olympic training, but I must confess sometimes my favorite contestant creeps me out a little bit with his mechanical demeanor. 

 Niecy looked beautiful for her tango in a black sparkly dress, the best she has looked all season.  Alas, the “jiggly parts” and food jokes have run their course.  The beauty of their dance was overshadowed by the same old shtick.  It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor.  I do.  But as much as I enjoyed her at first, it’s time for Niecy to take her jiggly parts home and get off my last nerve.  When Louie is reduced to stuffing cookies in his mouth during an Argentine Tango, something ain”t right.

Ah, Erin and Maks.  What a pretty couple they make.  I don’t buy the internet rumors that they are dating.  I think it’s designed to drum up votes, not that they don’t deserve votes anyway.  Or maybe it’s because they look and act so natural together that we just want them to be a couple.  I thought the best part of their samba was Erin’s unbelievable purple costume.  Most beautiful dress of the evening.  Len yelled at them again, and as much as I enjoy seeing Maks without his shirt I definitely think it’s a bit of a gimmick designed to dazzle.  It does.  I read that in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, after the show, Maks basically said Len was too old to be judging the show.  You gotta admire a guy who says what’s on his mind.  I personally liked their Pulp Fiction inspired jive on last week’s Movie Night better.  

Chad and Cheryl did a steamy Argentine Tango.  I think Cheryl has an amazing ability to make the hot dances look hotter.  Their performance was ruined for me by the video that preceded it.  Chad was complaining that the judges have been hard on him for some unknown reason.  Maybe it was your dancing, Chad?  This whine fest was followed by a scene with numerous fans at some unnamed function shouting that Chad is the best dancer.  No he’s not.  Some of these young athletes come to expect that everyone is going to put them on a pedestal.  They are special and different and treated accordingly everywhere they go.  Len, Bruno, and Carrie Ann didn’t get the memo. 

I guess Derek and Nicole’s samba was everything it was supposed to be.  Derek is my favorite pro.  I think he is an amazing dancer, and the best choreographer on the show.  Nicole is a great dancer and a stunning beauty, but there is something about this pairing that leaves me cold.  I haven’t put my finger on it yet.  Maybe I’m just jealous because they often out-dance my favorite, Evan.

The final couple, Pamela and Damien, appeared ready for their Argentine Tango.  As I said, I don’t know the technicalities of these dances, but her legs and feet definitely didn’t look sharp enough.  I think this is the first week she didn’t really dance well.  Maybe it was the scary 1960’s Sophia Loren wig.  Ugh!  They were the fourth couple of the night to earn three sevens.  She is not a crowd favorite based on previous result nights and may go home, but with DWTS you never know.

The culmination of the show was a Swing Dance marathon.  It looked to me like the couples ran out of time to practice for this.  Even though it was expected to be less tightly choreographed and more spontaneous, everything looked too willy-nilly.  Some of the stars spent an awkward number of beats kind of standing there like the didn’t know what to do.  Kind of like me in high school Modern Dance class.  Of course I think Evan and Anna were tapped out too soon.  When the final two were standing it was fun to watch them.  Erin and Maks versus Nicole and Derek.  I wished there had been a few more seconds to watch the final two battle it out.  Nicole and Derek surprised me by being my favorites this time around.  They were fun and dynamic to watch. 

Tonight I am going to enjoy the results show and work on my snarky attitude.


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

I just finished reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.  It is the story of several generations of a family that breeds and trains dogs.  The “Sawtelle dog”, is carefully bred and then kept and trained by the Sawtelle family until they reach their first birthday. The result is a highly sought after animal who is a good pet, a good worker, and uniquely in tune with it’s “people”.   The author follows key family members and we see how that vision is developed and evolved in them and then transmitted to their dogs.  Edgar is the youngest of the Sawtelles and we experience his birth and coming of age.  He is a very unique young man and we watch him evolve and come to understand himself and the world around him through his animals.

The book is about family, our relationships with our animals, and communication.  How do we communicate with the world around us,  including our pets?  What do we ever really know about another person, and are they really presenting their true nature to us?  The book is also about intuition, passion, and vision and how they are developed and honed in Edgar.

The most beautiful aspect of this book, and it’s hard to find just one to focus on, is by far the way the author brings these animals to life.  I was astonished at his ability to describe intricate nuances of a dogs behavior, and bring to life the individual personalities they each possess.  He also reinforces the suspicion that some of us have from time to time that our pets know more about life than we do.  Even if you are not a lover of animals this book will be enjoyable.  There is plenty of substance about human nature, intrigue, family relationships, and the ever familiar coming of age story presented from a totally unique perspective.

The language of this book is beautiful.  I could see the colors.  I could smell the smells.  It gave me chills, and tears, and a few good laughs.  A word of warning.  The beautiful language of this book is long.  It is a very long book.  For the first quarter of the book I struggled with it.  Nothing happened and at times I was a little bored and frustrated.  I stuck with it because this book got such stellar reviews.  After being almost lulled to sleep by the author, the book explodes.  It is a powerful moment made that much more powerful precisely because of  the lull of ordinary life that precedes it.   The author very purposely and very deliberately illustrates how life can change in the blink of an eye when we least expect it.  From that point on I struggled between wanting to hurry up and find out what happens and never wanting the book to end.  This was a very satisfying, unique, and beautiful book.  I highly recommend it.



I’ll Just Take the Escalator

When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the early 90’s I was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  The rheumatologist was not too worried about it, said it might even be sort of intermittent.  He prescribed for both the fibromyalgia (FMS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but mainly focused our discussions on the FMS.  When he retired a year later, my family doctor took over managing my fibromyalgia and arthritis, and did so for many years. 

I was recently reading a book on fibromyalgia and discovered I am on the very most antiquated treatment.  Two of the medications I am taking have weight gain as the primary side effect, which certainly applied in my case.  Plus I just felt bad all the time.  The book, From Fatigued to Fantastic, planted a seed of “Maybe I can feel better.” in me.  So I sought out a rheumatologist.

Enter Dr. S.  Two weeks ago she examined me for the first time and told me that I have sustained considerable damage to my feet and hands, because I haven’t been properly medicated for my rheumatoid arthritis.  She goes on to explain to me that RA is most likely the culprit in terms of my chronic exhaustion.  Debilitating exhaustion has been my PRIMARY complaint for years. Have I complained to my M.D.?  Yes.  Have I asked him what’s wrong with my feet?  Yes.  Does the funny little chart he carries around and flips open every time he sees me include RA in the diagnosis?  Yes.  Does he prescribe Plaquenil for my RA?  Yes.  Why hasn’t he taken some sort of action?

That I couldn’t answer.  How could I point the finger at my doctor when I haven’t pursued the matter myself.  Besides, I go to a teaching hospital and have never seen the same doctor twice, so I wouldn’t know who to be upset with.  To be honest, in my ignorance, I blamed it on the fibromyalgia.  I blame every twinge and bump on the fibromyalgia.  It creates such a wide array of symptoms that it’s easy to do that.  Ideally my doctor would not have taken that stance, but quite honestly I feel most health care professionals see fibromyalgia patients with a big fat “HYPOCHONDRIAC” stamp on their foreheads.

So now, I am on an additional drug for the RA.  It”s kicking my behind (nausea, fever, chills, and a funny metallic taste in my mouth-ugh!), but I like having use of my hands and feet, thank you very much.  So I believe I’ll stick it out.   It’s funny  how things creep up on you.  Have you ever started a diet and had someone tell you that you are losing weight in your face when you are wondering why you can’t get the same comment about your caboose?  After the first shot of this stuff, my husband tells me that I am “losing weight’ in my feet.  I had gotten used to my feet looking like balloons all the time, and had long ago made peace with not being able to wear girlie shoes.  Now the tootsies don’t seem to be swollen all the time.   I wake up in the morning and can wiggle my toes.  I have shed five pounds (a mere grain of sand off the beach, but a start).  I’m not always begging for a foot massage and amazingly I can ride the escalator at the mall.  I can’t really explain how I had rationalized to myself that I couldn’t step on and off of an escalator anymore.  I thought I had just gotten stiff and clumsy.

After going to the mall and riding up and down the escalator just for fun, I began to get very grateful.  I also began to abandon my natural propensity to engage in unwarranted bouts of self-pity.  Good thing I saw that book.  Good thing I took myself back to a rheumatologist.  She tells me that a few more months of treatment I will most likely be able to take walks again.  I can see the pounds melting away already.  My dog will be so happy.  Life is good.  But in the midst of goodness I feel a little grief.  I guess I never really dealt with the RA diagnosis.  I focused mostly on the fibromyalgia and blamed everything on that.  Between escalator rides, I’ve been kind of curled up in a ball moaning and groaning.  But I refuse to stay there.  I am catching up on my blog.  I am spring cleaning and making a path in my art studio.  I am flirting with my husband.  I am catching up on phone calls and emails.  I am listening to friends tell me what’s going on in their lives.  All of the little things that make me feel connected, that make me feel joy.  So I see myself well on the road toward acceptance.  The gratitude tells me that I am.  The coping mechanisms are coming back out of the toolbox and I’m remembering a few things.   Chief among them is that any loss must be grieved.  Then it must be embraced and accepted.  When I have done that in the past, it always opens my eyes to the enormity of what I have to be grateful for.  Gratitude breeds faith, and then I become just a little bit more whole.  I change and grow.  This has been my experience with the ironic nature of loss or hardship.  And every day, no matter what, there is always some bright shiny package waiting to be opened.


Twice the Scores, Half the Entertainment

Something was in the water at Dancing with the Stars and it must have been a tranquilizer.  Last night’s show was a snoozer.  The only dancer who didn’t appear to be in a comma was Evan, and even he is getting boring.  I told you I like to root for the underdog, and the other dancers are not even giving him a run for his money.  (I still love you, Evan!)  The double score, one for technical and one for performance, seems to be a bad idea.  It was clear that everyone was off their game, and quite frankly nobody seemed to be having any fun.  I thought Nicole was going to cry.  I thought Pamela Anderson was going to curl up with a pillow and blanket.  Gregarious Erin seemed tentative.  Bubbly Niecy Nash took on the appearance of a Stepford Wife.  Chad and Aiden were the equivalent of Stepford Husbands.  How can two vibrant attractive young men present such an unappealing picture?  And what is with the ring Chad gave Cheryl Burke?  I didn’t even get that.  Jake seemed like he was on a hot streak with his Tango, until her stumbled over his own feet.  I will give him credit for a very tricky series of movements down the stairs, and for at least appearing like he was alive.  Kate also gets credit for a vast improvement.  The Tango suits her, and she seemed very proud of her efforts.  Her costume, hair, and makeup this week were much less distracting.  Did anyone else find last night lacking, or am I just turning into a grouch?


Sanjaya Returns

Does anybody remember Sanjaya from American Idol ?  He was a cute young man with a proclivity for wierd hairdo’s and the inability to carry a tune.  He grated on the judges’ nerves.  He grated on the viewers’ nerves.  And yet strangely, inexplicably he survived week after week of eliminations.  The subject of conversations at work, on the day following eliminations, was why Sanjaya didn’t get voted off.  There were jokes on radio and late night talk shows about Sanjaya. 

It seems that Kate Gosselin is going to be the “Sanjaya” of Dancing with the Stars.  She has survived two eliminations.  Everyone is moaning and groaning about how horrible she is.   There is an internet campaign going around that calls to “Free Tony” (Dovoloni).  They have t-shirts and everything.  I think that is kind of harsh, but I am even seeing it on reviews by Entertainment Weekly and other sites that review television shows.  And the message boards-forget it! 

Yet somebody is voting for her.  Apparently Kate Gosselin has fans.  They are willing to overlook her dancing abilities, or lack thereof. I understand she has had a difficult year.  Being the mother of eight, and going through a very public divorce can’t be easy.  Now it seems her ex has decided to capitalize on her decision to do DWTS.  It seems after she did not get eliminated on Tuesday night, he filed a petition requesting full custody of the kids, and spousal support.  What a creep.  I almost feel sorry for her.  Not enough to pick up that phone.  Anyway, this new development almost guarantees that Kate is going to be around for a while.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1 other follower