My Sister – I love You

diana at the Art at the Barn faire

My sister was found to have a mass on her brain, (yesterday). She goes back in today for an MRI with contrast.

I am so sick about it.

She’d been losing her sight and it all came on within the past few months. I suspected something wrong because she was tired a lot.  More so of late. picnic

She is my baby sister.  She was the one who left her job and came out to Alabama to help me take care of our parents.  It was hard at first and we at times fought.  If you can picture 50-60 year old’s fighting.

She is/was a massage therapist and into natural remedies which is why she only went to her acupuncturist and chiropractor, seeking a “natural”solution to whatever was ailing her.  Now, that I think back on it, she has complained for some time that she had not been feeling well. She thought it was a mold issue. (She lives in Florida) She complained and yes, there was mold in her air conditioning and her landlord took care of it.Yellow Mushrooms

Even so, she’d been complaining about an overall not feeling well and we’d make jokes about how it sucks getting old.  I still kept insisting she see a doctor.  I told her that I understood her wanting to go natural, but sometimes it’s valuable to find out what is for sure going on and if there’s a natural course of attack, then she can make that decision.  She “said” she agreed with my reasoning, but she kept putting it off.

What was interesting and I mentioned this to her, if her cats got sick she’d take them to the doctor and spend whatever necessary.  She always came second.Closet Diva (1)

For a time, I talked to her less out of sheer frustration.  I didn’t want to hear about the acupuncturist and chiropractor.  Please understand, I have nothing against them, but I just suspected more.  I wonder too, if they had not recommended the same, because many do and will, but she wouldn’t say.

She finally said she had gone to the doctor.  I discover yesterday that she went to a Lenscrafter optician. When she told me about her visit, she made a joke about, “Hey, you know the big letters on the eye chart?  Well, I can’t even see those!  My eyes are really bad.”  He did recommend she see a specialist but then she said well, I haven’t heard back from him with the referral he would recommend.  I suggest she call him.  She never did. She said, no $$. She is on Medicare, but had not gotten the supplemental insurance and she was no longer working.  If you know anything about massage therapists, they are independent contractors with no benefits whatsoever, so of course no retirement income.  She said she had put some money away, but says, she doesn’t know where it went to. She wanted me to come out.  She asked me often. I wanted to but wouldn’t go.

These are my reasons.  If I’d gone out, it might have resulted in a vacation and that would have been her reasoning. Excuses. I’m not an awful sister, but… I knew if I did, my time would be limited and I knew I’d be spinning my wheels, not knowing the area and trying to find what was available. I don’t know people, services or doctors there and at the end of the day, nothing would have been accomplished.

The Tree Tea Party

I kept insisting she call her “boys” and let them know what was going on but she wanted me to come out.  I dug in my heels.  She kept saying they had busy lives and her daughter in law had just lost her dad and a few years before, her mother.  No, she didn’t want to put that on them.  Her boys are busy, with sports and raising kids.  One, has a girl in college on a sports scholarship, I think she said,  another in high school.  The college student would come on occasion and help her with things. The other son has little ones.  Both “boys” are busy.  Well guess what?  She broke down and told them and they aren’t too busy to help their mom and they are the reason she is getting help.  They know the right doctors. They got the referrals and are taking care of business… and in short order.

Blue Pumpkins

Because she couldn’t see, she had possibly mismanaged her bank accounts and they’ve had to step in to help with that. Everyone is getting involved.

The daughter in law said they’d seen her not that long ago but she behaved “normally” so they were unaware. She is not a complainer, so she never said a word to them. Even when she spoke to me, she didn’t actually complain. So when she finally did let them know the extent of her vision loss, they immediately got her help. Their doctor, did not order the tests right away because she had been taking so many herbs and potions, he said they would cloud the tests and he wanted to wait until they were out of her system before doing blood work. Now, I wait for more.

Before the MRI, the “kids” asked for our family history.  I sent that to them. Before the MRI, they said the doctor had indicated she was depressed and they thought she had begun to be forgetful.  Depression can do that too.  Just in the last couple of weeks, I had noticed a turn.  She was sleeping more and I reasoned that perhaps that was why she was losing time. She would forget things. She kept talking about how I was going to be there in a few days after I had explained I would come in October. She forgot.  THAT IS NOT HER. She was once a bookkeeper at Disney World.  She knows computation.

The doctor gave her simple equations and she could not compute them. She got angry with him for asking her to “think”. Multi Color Pots

I am writing this because for the last few days I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster and I don’t know what to do.

I lashed out at hubby. I hugged hubby. So glad I have hubby.

I feel ANGER. I am so angry. Angry at her for not going to the doctor when I suggested and how so like dad that was.  Stubborn and rebellious. How could she do that to us?  I am the eldest and yes, I can be so bossy! I know that, but it doesn’t make me wrong.  Why didn’t you go?  I CAN’T LOSE MY BABY SISTER!!!!

Then there’s the GUILT.  Why didn’t I just go over her head and enlist her boys whether she liked it or not?  I know why.  I just never guessed it was that bad and I  am feeling guilty for not having known. I want to scream!!!

And, SAD.  I am so sad.  What if it’s not a slam dunk remedy?

PAIN.  It hurts so bad. My emotions are all over the board.

Flying Carpet

Last night, I kept remembering all the good times she and I shared in our misery taking care of our parents.  Our parents had been difficult our whole lives. We marveled at how well we had all turned out despite the abuses.  She is a beautiful person and an artist and I know she’s not dead, but with the my back log of clues, the evidence may have been there longer than we knew… I don’t know.  I know as we grow older, it is inevitable we lose people we love. It’s all part of life.

I call the family on this side of the country to let them know.  I called my son in Texas only to learn he lost one of his best friends this past week of a brain tumor.  He was 38.  I guess age doesn’t matter.

Can I be royally pissed? Certainly, but I forgive her. She is sweet and loving and probably never imagined it was that bad. I sometimes wonder if children of a hypochondriac parent put off things for fear they may be parroting them?

Spread throughout this blog are pictures my sister has drawn, using crayon.  It is Crayon Art which she has won awards for. I love them.

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Shooting The Short

I just finished filming a “short”, (an under 30 minute film).

What a challenge.  The worst of it was seeing me from all angles.  Ugh! I thought I looked ginormous.

Because I did the camera set up and would have to run and take my place, I saw,  a view of my backside, way too often.  I felt like the girl in the new film, Brittany Runs a Marathon . Not huge, but she thought so. Help! fix me!!!

Still in the editing “room” ( my son’s iMac), it (the caliber of the film) appears to be less than I’d hoped for. I don’t know why I thought I could turn out a Steven Spielberg or Tarantino my first time out but… Seriously, no I knew better, but one can only  hope… hehe.  It was my first film wearing all hats. It was so much harder than I expected than when you have a pro film crew.  My camera of choice was my iPhone mounted on a Moza Mini MI Gimbal stabilizer and a standard tripod. The Moza Mini has features I thought would be great for a one man show, but for some reason, I was doing good to get it to “stabilize”.  I watched several YouTube videos to learn it’s application, then discovered that it worked best on my son’s iPhone 6 than it did on my iPhone 7Plus.  On his phone, he was able to get it to follow the subject.  The only downside is that when we used the clapper, after setting it to our subject, it got confused and the camera decided to follow the clapper instead. So, that obviously wasn’t working, so for expediency sake, we called out the scenes and takes.

My son was instrumental in figuring some of it out, but since he didn’t have time to really work the bugs out, we did what we could.

Afterglow 4

Any professional reading this is probably saying to him/herself, humorously of course, “Idiots”.  I’m not ashamed.  Everyone has to start somewhere. (If anyone reading this knows what I may have done wrong, please tell me.)

To say the least it was a bit rough going. Then as an added bonus, my phone’s storage filled up and we lost a good deal of footage that we had to re-shoot.   Sometimes, it was at the cost of losing an exceptional take.  After that and before resuming, we of course, transferred what we had to the iMac editing program.  We are using Final Cut Pro. I have friends in the business who have all the skills, but I was determined to do this on my own, so I didn’t call them. I may rethink that in the future.  After all, why have friends in the business you can’t call?  Plus, they have all the good pro equipment, not a measly iPhone.  I know films have been shot using various phone camera’s, that’s why I wanted to try it.  Plus, I figured, it would be less gear for me to haul up to SLC, where most of it was shot.   Other obstacles were weather. The weather did not cooperate, as we got thunderstorms and high winds, which made shooting trialsome. What’s more, they were not in the forecast when I looked. I did check.

Then there were the microphones.  I didn’t have booms, but I got some lavalieres for clearer sound, but didn’t remember to use them until the end.  Duh.  I’m not sure they made that big of a difference when I used them for close in dialogue.  My actor daughter, in GA, said she had a small mic and boom for iPhone, which she used for audition tapes, but we didn’t find it until the last day. I wasn’t gonna start all over for that.  Most of the sound was decent anyway.

My crew was made up of family, who all had day jobs.  That was tough. The “actors were also family plus my actor daughter’s boyfriend.  We used his law office as one of our sets. He stood in for my daughter who had a full schedule as an RN and couldn’t do the part I’d written for her.  Here we grownups are goofing off.

Afterglow 1

My little grand daughter and grandson were absolutely amazing.   When I directed my grand daughter to play dead, she did.  She is only 7 and no matter how I shook and called out to her she kept in character and didn’t break, lying there all distorted like a wet noodle. Of course, that was on the second take, because on the first take, she did get the giggles, until I clarified her part. When I yelled “cut” and praised her, she was exhilarated and I was so proud.

.Afterglow 2

Something I need to say on this account.  When you talk to a child, especially one on an autistic spectrum, remember to tell them it is only pretend.  When I first arrived, I made the mistake of telling her we were making a movie and she would die.  The first couple of days after my arrival, she stayed clear of me and was terribly moody. Generally, this little bit of sunshine is all over me, so I suspected something was up. Then it dawned on me why, so we had “the talk”. She was great after that.

It brought back memories of my daughter, Tina, at age 4.  My husband had decided he wanted to adopt her.  At the time, we were unable to locate her birth father and I knew those two had bonded beautifully and he’d been a part of her life since she was two. When we asked her how she felt about that, she sounded very agreeable. Two weeks later,  she broke down and cried and told us she didn’t want to be adopted.  She cried and said she adamantly told us she didn’t want to live with anyone else but us.  We cried with her and tearfully explained to her what we meant and reassured her she was going nowhere else to live, but would stay with us forever. How could we be so stupid?  What’s worse is she stewed about it internally for two weeks!!

So my advice, is when you work with little ones, please be sure they totally understand what is going on.  As I said, once Ally understood, she was great and did her part.

My 9 year old grandson, on the other hand, took to the whole thing like a pro.

Afterglow 3

When we got done shooting a scene, he wanted to see what it looked like, then he would say, “No, no, let’s do that again”.  “I (him) need to be doing …” this or that or put the camera here or there. He already has plans to do his own YouTube videos.  I think he’ll do well. These kids are so clever.

All in all, we had to do more retakes for me,  than anyone else. Acting is something I haven’t done in a long time and I couldn’t believe how stilted I’d become.

You may ask why I did this. Two reasons.

One: I have a friend in the business, who a couple of years ago, told me, the best way to test out my writing, is to film it, so I did. My friend was so spot on correct.  I’ve got a long way to go yet and seeing what I crafted on video was eye opening.  It really taught me a great deal. I found myself re-writing so much of what I’d originally written for something that would sound more natural, more believable.  You can see the scribbles on my script!  Is that normal?thumbnail_IMG_4216

Two: I need a reel, both for myself as an actor and as a writer. I have friends that are always wanting me to submit for parts and I have nothing. I thought I’d aged out, but from what they say, older women parts are being created and well, we could all work together.  Ya think?  They might think otherwise after seeing this. lol

Finally we will need music. Oyvey!

In the end, I’ve decided to ask my friend if I can hang out with his film crew and see how they do get the shots I so sorrily attempted to do.

As film viewers and armchair critics, it’s not as easy as you’d think. Trust me.

Oh yeah, while I was there we did the SLC FanX Com.  Here’s some pictures from that.

Ah yes and for ally’s birthday I did a repeat of my Grandma Tala, which the kids absolutely loved.