So between September 2007 and December 2008, it turns out I lost 50 lbs. (nearly 23 kg). Before you say something fatuous such as "Oh, gee, I wish I could lose 50 lbs.," please remember that I only lost about 10 lbs. in autumn/early winter 2007 via improved diet and exercise; I lost the other 40 lbs. on the world-famous Life-Sucking Cancer Diet.
(Please forgive me if I don't care to reveal the regimen. Ask a movie star. I'm sure one of them is having a book all about it ghost-written even as we speak. I'm sure it will be full of recipes, inspirational stories, and tips on barf bucket hygiene for when company visits. It will probably also be packaged with a CD, a T-shirt bearing an appropriated Asian symbol intended to telegraph serenity and hope, and an awareness ribbon of some sort. But I digress.)
The important part of this story is that, once again courtesy of the good people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (thanks, people; really great Christmas present), brilliant and fabulous Bob Emerson and his team have provided me with a new suction socket. This means I can walk again, and quite well, something I haven't been able to do for about three months. ("So why didn't you go in three months ago?" you may wonder. And the answer is that I was just way too ill.)
Action Barbie's new svelte shape is shown in the photo above right. You also may notice that she has undergone another transformation: a new wardrobe.
I wanted to stay with the "ars gratia artis" ("art for art's sake") theme; it suits my life just now. However, as much as I enjoyed my last experiment using a lettering style based on a commercial script font which I hand embroidered in cobalt cotton thread over rhinestone-studded pale apricot-colored synthetic satin, and as much as I enjoyed the bright orange result with all the backwork of the embroidery showing through like so many roots and vines, this time I really wanted something more exuberant, yet more controlled, and above all more my own. So I returned to the use of my original freeware font Summertime and created a pattern based on its lowercase letters and floral graphics. I rendered the pattern by hand embroidering with a light satin stitch (letters) and line stitch (flowers) in white thread on pale lilac synthetic satin, but this time I doubled the fabric, embroidering through two layers, in order to see if I could effectively mitigate the translucency that develops when essentially plastic fiber melts during the lamination process.
This is how my work looked before Bob's crew got busy with it: (Click to enlarge.)
And this (below left) is what it looks like now. Notice how the fabric has darkened to a delicious grape popsicle color. I knew it would darken; I just didn't know to what exact hue, nor did Bob. I am very pleased with this result. The double layering did the trick, opacity-wise, but was no doubt helped by the fact that I used a less vehemently contrasting thread this time. The overall effect is subtle and elegant (sez I) while still funky and handcrafted-looking and, of course, totally original. You won't see anything like this walking around just anywhere.
This new socket cost the Commonwealth's taxpayers approximately $7,000, give or take a few hundred. Custom lamination of provided materials is always free of charge at Bob's joint, and I appreciate the opportunity to collaborate experimentally without feeling guilty about costing anybody anything extra. It's as close as I'm ever going to get to being tattooed.
I hope I don't lose a significant amount more weight between now and shorts season. Maybe I just imagined it, or maybe folks around here are just getting used to me, but when visible, the bold presentation of Action Barbie's bright orange socket and various shiny black and royal blue components really did seem to result in a significant reduction in the number of expressions of pity and fake (objectifying) admiration vomited forth upon me by random strangers over the summer. Of course, I was pretty much down for the count for much of both July and August, but when I did manage to crawl off the couch, I do think the orange, blue and black made kind of a fierce looking presentation, a blatant visual clue. If I'm still walking and this new socket still fits come May or June, I'll be very interested to see what, if anything, this more subdued color scheme will bring.
Art! Science! Risk! Truth! Whee!