Before the effects of multiple sclerosis left her wheelchair-bound, Anne Norskog would stand at her easel and paint portraits in her free time.
Portraits of her four sons, her husband George Norskog and herself hang on walls in her Centralia home. Norskog said she considers the old paintings to be the most prized possessions in her house.
More than a decade has passed since Norskog could comfortably paint portraits at her easel.
“The more limited I have become with mobility, I can no longer stand up at an easel,” Anne Norskog said.
Since being diagnosed with advanced MS in October 2003, Anne Norskog turned her artistic focus to computer art using the programs Paintbrush and Photoshop.
“I was not going to let MS take that away from me,” she said.
Norskog, 64, can now sit at her computer and draw artwork of flowers, birds, lighthouses and one of her self-described best works, a lightning storm.
“I was a child in Wyoming and lived in a place called Lightning Alley,” Anne Norskog said. “Every summer we would have dozens of these storms.”
Norskog, who lost her job as a medical transcriptionist at St. Peters Hospital in Olympia after being diagonised with MS, sells her computer art at www.fineartamerica.com/art/all/norskog/all.
Norskog is a 2013 Wish List recipient with 44 other ailing people in need around Lewis County this holiday season. The wish list is organized by the Information and Assistance/Case Management program, operated through the Lewis-Mason-Thurston Area Agency on Aging.
LMTAAA maintains a Special Assistance Fund, and during this time of year, donations to the fund will be distributed for specific clients, who may need warm clothing, pet care or household items that are outside the budgets of those on small or fixed incomes.
Donations will be accepted until Dec. 13.
Anne Norskog is asking for assistance with her utility bill and a Walmart gift card to purchase printer ink for her computer art. In past years, Anne Norskog has received ink, Walmart gift cards, a robe and a blanket from locals donating to the Wish List.
“There are some real nice people here,” George Norskog said.
George Norskog has health issues of his own, including heart disease and diabetes. He had to retire after 17 years as a data clerk for St. Peters Hospital.
“We are living on less than one-third of what we had when we were fully employed, and that’s hard,” Anne Norskog said.
Along with losing the income, the Norskogs lost their home in Lacey four years ago when the bank foreclosed on it. The Norskogs lived in their Lacey home for more than 20 years before having to move to a smaller house in Centralia.
They are now living on a fixed income and struggling day to day, Norskog said.
“We are growing older, but the cost of living goes up by leaps and bounds,” she said. “Any hope of use picking up any extra work is out the window. I had to medically retire several years ago.”
Anne Norskog was always healthy prior to the MS, she said. She worked for the United States Postal Service and walked a 10-mile route while delivering mail. Working for Providence St. Peter Hospital, she had to work fast with her hands typing medical records.
She never wanted to have to retire so soon.
“It was something I did not want to do,” Anne Norskog said. “The speed that my hands move any more is simply not there and a transcriptionist has to put out the work.”
Without being able to work at her former level, Anne Norskog uses her computer art as an outlet and potential income by selling it online.
Working on the computer art has kept her mentally strong, Norskog said.
“It’s imperative,” she said. “I can’t imagine not working on my art.”