Monday, June 15, 2015

Plein Air Painting - Watch Out For Ticks!

Sorry no art photos with this post but please take the time to read, as it may save you some grief this summer.

This is my version of a public service announcement.  As the title of this post reveals I'm sending out a message to all my fellow plein air painters, travel journalers/sketchers, and just plain anyone who's out enjoying nature.

Ticks!  Eeeekkkk, their creepy crawly, annoying, and more than just plain Yucky with a capitol Y.  They can be dangerous, and I wanted to remind all of my readers to take precaution when you plan to go out to paint or sketch!

Why the concern you ask?  Well you see before I left on my cruise I was Plein air painting my first Oil (see "Norwood's Buttercup Fields" A Plein Air Study, 5" X 7" Oil on Canvas Panel.) And quite a few ticks hitched a ride and had lunch at the Gloria Callahan Diner AKA my legs!  And I was not very aware of them until I showered late in the day.  They were tiny, seed like specs!  SIX of them Eeeeewww.  But I removed them within 8 hours of their catching a ride.

........................OR SO I THOUGHT!...............................

Two days later, the morning we left on our trip, I found that two more tiny seed like in size had hitched a ride, undetected.  They had been on me for 3 days!.  It's recommend by the CDC to remove ticks before they have been attached for 36 hours.  Well this was not good!  But hey we booked a cruise and paid for it so I disinfected myself and took some antihistamine for the itching and planned to enjoy my trip.

The fourth day of our trip (8 days after being bitten) I developed the bullseye rash typically associated with Lyme's disease and was feeling tired.  But no this couldn't be, we were almost to Jamaica, in the western Caribbean, I told myself, "It would wait till I got home.  I had deserved this trip and I was just run down from my hectic schedule".  I won't bore you with the details of how I progressed over the next week and a half.  But suffice it to say I had all the symptoms of Lyme's, my Dr. said.  So she began the two week treatment by antibiotics right away.

If you want to know the all the symptoms click here.  But here is the important facts I learned:

1.  The rash only develops in 70-80% of people who have it.

2.  And the blood test only comes back positive regularly after 6-8+ weeks of it in your system.

False negative results can keep you from getting the treatment, so my Dr. thought it best to treat me and not wait.  AND I was feeling badly,  exhausted, very confused and disoriented .  So please be careful.  I finished my treatment this past weekend and I'm still tired a little achy but hoping it clears up soon.  But overall way better than before the treatment.

YES, I will continue to go out to plein air paint, sketch and enjoy the outdoors.  But I have a new bug spray WITH DEET in it.(see below).  And I will use a scrubby when showering IMMEDIATELY after I get home!

DISCLAIMER:  I'm not a specialist/professional in the health field so please investigate on your own, see your Dr.   I have posted a few links here to help inform you and info I have learned from the reading I have done.   
Obvious Tick tips: 
Avoid Contact with Ticks

Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

Walk in the center of trails.

The following is from: CDC at
Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin
Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent  DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.

Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may provide longer-lasting protection.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body 

Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. 
Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. 
Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and day packs.
Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

Removing ticks
Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. 
Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers. 
You may want to save the tick in a small jar of alcohol. If you get sick, having the tick can help with diagnosis.

Helpful Hint

icon of a tickAvoid folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible--do not wait for it to detach.


If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A well deserved vacation! Travel Journaling For Memories.

My intent was to get back from a lovely vacation for my husband's birthday and our upcoming 40th wedding anniversary and get these pages in my Travel Journal posted onto the blog before now.  But do to unseen delays I'm a bit late in accomplishing that.  (More to come in my next post on why.)   

On The flight to FL

A much needed trip after a grueling spring of Art show fundraiser organizing and teaching.  My artistic juices were in desperate need of refueling, and it was time to celebrate as well as chill and relax.  What better way than to spend a day and a half in Fort Lauderdale before setting sail on the Carnival Cruise ship "The Breeze", one of their newest and largest.

While in Ft. L, we noshed on some great crepes and then toured the historic Bonnet House, circa 1920, home of artist Frederick Clay Bartlett, a muralist from Chicago.  This home's property became Ft. Lauderdale beach, and the home now sits in the midst of the urban growth of hotels and beaches.  For more info see Bonnet House: here   I had a ball touring this home and getting to see his working studio while in FL for the winters.  His second wife Evelyn started painting in her 50's and became, in my opinion a better painter than her husband.  It is a must see spot if your in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
                                                               Orchids attach to all the trees in the beautiful gardens.

Departing from Miami, Day One and Two of the cruise aboard ship, towel animals and open seas.  Sleeping at night was good with the gentle sway of the Atlantic.

Day Three - "Jamaica Mon!  No problem!" Excursion Day to Dunn's River Falls from Falmouth our first Port of call.   A thoroughly wet and wild climb to the top of the falls, rapids body surfing and light rain in the rain forest that surrounds this beautiful spot.  Then off to the Bamboo Beach Club for lunch and Jamaican rum drinks, champagne cocktails and surf!  I sketched the cove and the turquoise water.  Steps ascended up the cliff to a cave, I'm told by our tour guides, Heather and Damar.   They loved my sketch and signed on the page!  It's fun to get others involved in your journaling.

Day  Four - Grand Cayman and a walking tour of town, shopping then a quick taxi to HELL and back.  Met the devil, Tom bought a T-shirt to prove it.  

 He was actually a nice guy, ex-merchant marine from Norfolk, VA,  a small world.  Chickens and roosters ran loose here, after escaping during a long ago hurricane. We stored up energy for Thursday and went back to the ship early enough to sketch the shore from our balcony.


(Also known as climb a Mayan pyramid day.)

COBA - the tallest Myan pyramid/temple, and only one still open to tourists to climb.  

Thurs. was Cozumel - A three hour trip - Two ferry rides, a 1.5 hour bus ride and we were at Coba, the Mayan city's ruins.  A Rickshaw ride through only a fraction of the restored ruins brought us to the tallest Mayan pyramid, and the only one you can still walk up - My goal.  Walk is a relative term, 138 ft. with 112 steps, most a good two steps tall, it was 90% humidity and 89 deg., and we were given 30 minutes to go up and back down.  The steps crumbled in areas, so I stayed in the center, looking up twice, it seemed like it could take forever, but I made it!!!!  My son Chris was waiting to take my picture.  Did I mention Chris is a fantastic travel planner :))

At the top was a great view of the rain forest, so I closed my eyes, centered my breathe and emptied my thoughts, as the Mayan guide suggested, to invite the power of the gods.  Not sure if it worked but I didn't have a heart attack!     Now for the more difficult trip down, with quivering leg muscles.  All my on the ship training/stair climbing,  proved no preparation for this climb.  So I used my best ass-et in this case, which everyone else was doing.  Young and old, we came down on our butts.  Slow but efficient, and with the slippery steps, a sound decision.  

                            In the picture below - that's me bent over climbing up!  
Our Mayan rickshaw driver/peddler (Manuel) was a god send, he spoke little English but laughed when I told him I was 20 lbs. lighter after the climb from all the sweat, so the ride back should be easier.  Our time was limited so this sketch was done after I recovered on the way back home.  Tom and the boys were proud of me from my trek up Dunn's River but they were very proud that their newly celebrated 60 year old Dad and 57.5 yr old Mom went up when many younger people on our bus did not.  

Shopping for some "Mayan bling" was accomplished right on the bus ride home, an obsidian necklace with my name spelled in Mayan characters to commemorate the Day.  Apparently Mayan couples exchange these necklaces with each other's name on them instead of wedding rings.  

Carnival held the ship for us as our three hour trip back was delayed by a late ferry.  Even though this was my bucket list item the guys all were glad to tuck this climb into their "Life Experience memory list "  And I was glad to add it to my journal.

Day Six back on the Breeze, and at sea heading home, I was quite sore, muscles joints and the hot tub felt great.  

And Day Seven - 6:40 AM back into the port of Miami, and the trip back to the airport, and to Richmond.  Ending with Chinese food back home.  

I hope this summer you too will go out and sketch your travels, whether they are at the beach, in far away lands or right in your back yard.  It's worth writing those memories into your subconscious.  Looking back at my journal pages I can smell, taste and envision my experiences and you can train your memory muscles to do just that too.  

The best part was coming home to my faithful Studio Assistant "Bacio" who enjoyed himself at the Countryside Bed and Biscuit here in VA.  He's just not sure why he couldn't go, and promised to do better in puppy class if we promised to take him next time.

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