watercolor and ink painting of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | tumors & tears

Well I’m not sure where to start this post. I’m sitting in my big bro’s hospital room on the neuro-care floor at UCSF, looking over at the row of incision-closing staples that snake through the top of Jamey’s noggin like an aerial view of a row of dominoes set up to topple. The incision stretches almost ear to ear, and indicates where surgeons entered his skull last Friday to remove an avocado-pit sized malignant tumor, of the same variety as John McCain’s. He’s sleeping a lot which is good, so when he does I get out my laptop and do my life. 

I spend most of my time here (good timing on NBA playoffs which he loves) and he’s a little better every day though still stuck in bed and unable to walk. His sentences are getting longer and he’s a bit less confused. But progress is very slow as he recovers from this “insult to the brain”. It will take time, and he’s 78 years old and has Parkinson’s (he assumed his sudden symptoms were his Parkinson’s getting worse). He’ll go into a rehab facility in a few days and treatments will be discussed in a week; palliative care may be in his near future but we can’t know quite yet. 

Will I be the last sib standing? It’s entirely possible, but my own brain can barely take in this information. 

But I’m good in a crisis. I stay clear-headed and know what to do (or how to find someone who does). Then at some point I melt down, which I did when they wheeled him down the hall for pre-op last week. I completely fell apart, not sure I’d ever see him alive again. A kind nurse held her hand on my shoulder as I sobbed. As I started to recover, a Cooper’s Hawk flew past the hospital window. A bit later I sat outside in the sun, near the hospital, having a latte and collecting myself, and the SF parrots flew overhead (they are hard to miss, very noisy). Since surgery would take hours and hours I went to Ocean Beach, not far from here, as beaches always soothe. After my ocean visit, as I drove home on Lincoln Ave which is alongside Golden Gate Park, I was stopped in traffic and I looked over at the thick greenery on the park’s edge and saw a Peregrine Falcon perched in a tree. I cried some more but got home safely. 

[Did this class demo for a watercolor workshop several weeks ago.]

10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | workshop bouquet

Last Saturday I taught a watercolor workshop and did several demos, referring to a lovely bouquet of posies I pinched from a few Alameda office building landscapes. It’s a delight to teach a painting class to students who are so open and willing and hard-working. Though I felt sadness from missing grandkids on Easter, coming home to my warm floating home community after class filled up my achey heart — especially when, as I was literally roaming online searching for local bakeries to find a gluten-free treat, a neighbor dropped by to bring me some delicious macaroon-like gluten-free cookies that she knew I loved. Brought tears to my eyes — the timing was remarkable. What welcome medicine that was (I gobbled up the last of them this morning).

Sunday came with an Easter visit from my son. I made us some brunch and we visited and I learned more about his bipolar challenges as he openly shared his thoughts with me. How I wish I could wave a magic Mother-wand and fix his brain, as I could feel his concerns (and he never, ever complains). Lovely moments together with my grown boy and I am happy he was willing to drive from Sacramento for time with his mom. All the bits of my heart and soul and mind are sloshing with thankfulness.

10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of bouquet by emily weil

daily painting | TJ bouquet

I feel like I don’t know how to gather my thoughts and feelings today in this world of war and aggression and tumult. So I’ll do what I do — bounce along and hang on. Can’t seem to get my bearings so practicing self-compassion is in order (I get a lot out of Kristin Neff’s website, https://self-compassion.org, which has comforting meditations). When everything is blowing up, how do we find our feet under us? On some days it’s OK not to. It’s just not possible. I put my hand on my heart and do Neff’s mantra: May I be safe, may I be peaceful, may I be happy, may I be kind to myself, may I accept myself as I am. And I call on the angels and gods and medicine animals to bring succor and support to those amazing, brave Ukrainians.

And making a gooey chocolate dessert today is definitely in order.

(If you need a good cry look up SNL’s Feb 26 show on YouTube; they opened with the Ukrainian New York chorus.)

Peace out.

9″ x12″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor painting of nasturtiums by emily weil

daily painting | lynda’s nasties

Don’t you think that nasturtiums are about the sweetest posies ever? So accessible, with their cheery bright oranges and yellows. As a kid I remember walking home from school and along the way there was a riot of nasties in a neighbor’s front yard, and if you plucked a blossom, you could suck the nectar out of the little pointy end of the flower. Sweet and delicious, and it was a slightly naughty thing to do (maybe I was imagining I was a hummingbird). My kind neighbor Lynda grows these and sent me a lovely photo of her bouquet. I find fresh flowers lift my spirits. Their beauty is temporary, fragile and fleeting, and must be appreciated in the moment. 

Today’s grief update: I don’t mean to brag, but I totally got out of bed today. 

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen on paper = $90

 

 

 

watercolor of wilted rose by emily weil

daily painting | droopy blossom

A wonderful and supportive friend brought me a lovely bouquet from her garden the other day, including a lush and gorgeous rose. The rose was getting droopy today, and I wanted to paint it. As a follow up to my sister Diana’s rose drawing in my last post. A rose that is done. Over. Spent.

If you have read my last blog, you will know I lost my sister Diana to suicide several days ago. And here is my request, my dear friends — please toss out hesitancy to talk about mental illness. Diana had any number of diagnoses, from depression to schizophrenia to anxiety disorders. A long list. She suffered a great deal and was hospitalized at times. While I am angry she could not or would not be more aggressive about her own care, it’s important to break down the taboos about being mentally ill. It’s essential we talk about it; most of us have been touched by it either directly or indirectly. I have had my own battles with depression and as a teenager considered suicide but decided it was too scary; I knew where mom’s full bottle of Seconal was (one of the things that pushed me close to that cliff was idiot parents of fellow teens in high school who gushed, “Oooh, these are the happiest times of your life! Enjoy them!” I thought, jeez, if this is as good as it gets I think I’ll check out now). Instead I found solace in the born-again Christian belief system which I no longer practice. People who commit suicide don’t want to die. They want the pain to stop.

It’s good, to be honest about these things and discuss disturbances and disorders and craziness and suicidal ideations. Put it all out on the table; there is nothing to be ashamed of. Someone who is bipolar or schizophrenic didn’t choose that any more than someone chooses a brain tumor or cerebral palsy. It’s physical. It’s a messed up brain. 

So. Please talk amongst yourselves.

.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen on paper = $90

 

 

 

watercolor painting of bouquet by emily weil

daily painting | bike ride bouquet

Just noodling around today. Keeping myself distracted helps keep me a safe distance from the grief sinkhole, and getting out my paints is probably my #1 choice for staying occupado (nabbed a few flowers from a recent bike ride which provided today’s subject matter). I poke my nose into news shows occasionally, plan dinners, go to the beach, make dates with friends. This morning I HUGGED MY SON. Wow! First time in a year (outside, masks on; I am fully vaccinated, he had Covid months ago). It was heaven as he’s the best hugger on the planet. It was great to see him as he kindly helped me lug heavy propane tanks, my source of heat on the houseboat. Now there is a lovely cool breeze, I can hear bird songs out the window, and the laundry is getting done and my house is peaceful. Thanks for stopping by today.

.

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $90