Sunday, August 31, 2014

This Months Common Thread Give-Away Artist is....

This month's Common Thread Give-Away Artist is Veronica Hallissey. I am only too happy to tell my readers more about Veronica.  I have been so privileged to get to know her better this past year.  She is truly a kindred spirit and is quickly becoming a good friend.

This month Veronica is giving away her book, Kiss the Moon, an anthology of her best poetry.  To register to win all you need to do is go to her website and leave a comment for her Monday to Thursday. Be sure to leave enough information about yourself that she can find you if you should become the winner of her drawing to be held at the end of the week.  This is a most generous gift and one that I can speak of personally.

At the time that Veronica sent me her book, Kiss the Moon, I was in the middle of a true crime book marathon, not to be disrupted, or so I thought, but when the murderer decided to save his victim's foot in his freezer as a keepsake, I knew it was time to move onto a less chilling book. As soon as I started reading her Kiss the Moon I couldn’t put it down!!  It is better than any true crime book to be sure!!!!  It was like getting an infusion of life poured right into my soul! I loved it and have picked it up and reread it many times since and have never returned to find out who discovered this poor woman's foot in the freezer!

Unlike my own writing, Veronica has a way of picking her words so carefully that it is much like looking at a special painting that captures thoughts and feelings and pulls you right into the special moment in this artist's life, forming a special connection that makes you realize that there is a bond between us all, except perhaps, for cold blooded killers! They likely couldn't relate to Veronica's beautiful writings!

Kiss the Moon begins with a preface of Veronica's humble testimony about knowing of a special Presence in her life. There is no doubt that she has a special connection with her creator that flows through her.  Her ability to see the world with such clarity of vision and then express it with such precision and conciseness is truly an art form that is uncommon in today's world. Her poems are epic as they tenderly speak of love and of all of the seasons of a person's life.

I loved  her poem about the woman taking her dear friend, her cow to be sacrificed to feed her children after supplying them with milk for so many years. Her love and appreciation for her cow is palpable. Another favorite of mine was one about eating dinner while watching the news and her husband declining desert saying that he was experiencing a bit of indigestion that must have been caused by something he ate. Veronica's subtle humor comes forth as it wasn't the dinner but the ingestion of such a horrible stream of news events that would be enough to sicken anyone! It made me laugh as to how obtuse our thinking really can be! Her daughter-in-law's  artwork sprinkled through the book is equal to the beauty of Veronica's poetry.

For the sake of brevity in my blog I will leave yet other favorites for the subject of blogs to come, and spare my readers of my ramblings, though Veronica's writings have inspired me to open up my journal with renewed interest and try to better capture the memoirs of my own life. Her poems have touched my heart and made me realize that I am still very much alive, no matter how inundated I can be with life's pressures. Her keen awareness of all that life teaches us makes me realize that all of my life's events are full of blessings that I am sometimes too blind to see.  Isn't that the purpose of good art, to open us up and make us appreciate the richness of our own life?

Veronica's writings are indeed a very special gift that she shares with the world! Don't miss visiting her website at for samples of her work, and do treat yourself to her books and read what she herself considers to be the best of her work!  They will feed your soul! Thank you Veronica for nourishing mine!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

....BUT Sometimes an Idle Body

I felt a bit guilty posting last my blog, No Idle Hands or Brain at Little House and then writing to some of my friends that I was again down for the count.  I made it sound like accomplishments are "straight line courses" and I must confess that they rarely are.  No project seems to get done without lots of interruptions for my body to go demanded by my treatment and the herxes it causes.

Sometimes I don't heed the warnings, and demand that my body "be normal" and get myself into real trouble. It can be most frightening. My primary care doctor relocated some time ago now and having seen her just before she left, I have procrastinated finding another primary provider in the immediate area. It will be a hard and potentially expensive search to replace her. "Lyme-literate" physicians are rare, especially in Vermont where it seems that they have made an example of one of the best Lyme doctors this country has to offer.  All of us who knew him well, know that it is not by his own choice that he isn't with us still, though he never speaks of the details of having to close his practice to those with Lyme Disease to his other patients. His Lyme patients miss him terribly. It can be most frightening to have symptoms of early infection, knowing that I don't tolerate antibiotics, and have no local "Lyme-literate" doctor available to help me wade through my options to get to feeling better. I am so glad that I am, by profession a graduate nurse and apply what I know to caring for myself!

Any of us living with chronic illness knows that we live moment to moment and know our limits, though we, more than infrequently, don't honor them.  When we are "going good", we overdo it, knowing that the next day will likely be one that we have to put our feet up.

Pinterest becomes my serious occupation when I am down.  I take dreaming seriously and spend my horizontal times doing just that.  I plan and scheme and re-order my do-lists to make the most of when I am ready to challenge my body. I don't mean to complain. I indeed relish in what I can do versus what I can't, and am so blessed with a supportive family! Living with a person afflicted with a chronic disease is more than enough to try even the most loyal!

Denial is also part of my routine.  I am determined to not let Lyme keep me down.  I am still on the Marshall Protocol after almost six years.  My friends ask when it will be over, (treatment, not life,I hope?) and I avoid the question. I wonder too, if treating this disease will ever be over.  Where is the cure? And if not this treatment, what will be next?  All who suffer with Lyme ask that question and simply carry on and live as fully as they can in the "between" times!

So for those who wish that they had the time for such frivolity as to live from pincushion to pincushion and project to project, I reply, "Be careful what you wish for".  I miss working out in the world, though I am working on the goal of "being out in the world more".  I treasure my Little House and bringing you, my readers, the details of running it and making pretty things for those of you whose lives are too stretched. I remind myself and my readers as well, that it is in incremental steps that most of us achieve our dreams!

Friday, August 22, 2014

No Idle Hands or Brains at Little House!!

A lot is happening here at Little House! No idle hands or brain here! A brief glimpse at the projects ahead:

The Steve N. Garage and Kitchen Project, slated for completion before October 11th is moving right along thanks to my daughter, and husband!!

As for sewing projects, thirty-four pincushions are pushing for completion for the first craft show of the Holiday Season at Jon and Maria's Open House at Bedlam Farm Columbus Day weekend.

....And still more fleece socks for my holiday shows that will start November 1st at the Holiday Inn in Rutland, Vermont! Is there no end to the fleece sock production? I wonder that myself!! Likely not until after the last of five holiday craft shows ending December 13th.  I will be sure to tell you where and when in advance so you can come and see us in person!

And last, my New Jane Make-Over Project that began four weeks ago is off and moving ahead, albeit very slowly with needed pauses for continued "herxing". It  is a start, however, to getting my energy and strength back following my 5 1/2 years of special treatment for Lyme, that is still continuing! A new hair cut last week, along with getting new underwear, and a new "old" car.  My PT Cruiser bit the dust last week when it failed its inspection as its muffler couldn't be fixed as the entire frame of the car was rusted out. I was fortunate that it didn't drop me in the middle of the road!! My mechanic told me when I was missing it, to go to my local department store and look at the toasters, as one of them will likely be my car incarnated into its next life!  But who would miss it when I now have this new dated and pre-driven one, that is already pre-scratched, pre-dented and a bit worn, a fitting mascot for my new make-over that is once again proving that there is "new life" to what some might consider"old" and "done in"!

Still to come as part of my New Jane Make-Over will be the sewing of some new clothes to refurbish my old wardrobe (AKA the Vermont Dreaming Objective, sung to the tune of California Dreaming); an overdue dentist appointment to rehabilitate my smile; finding a new primary care doctor that is Lyme Literate (always a challenge); and getting new glasses to eliminate my need to literally "feel my way" along in life!  Life is busy and good at Little House!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Generosity or Curse? One Can't be too Careful!

My daughter's return didn't just change the atmosphere in the house, it literally changed how we navigated. Only two steps in the door, she plopped down all that had been packed in her car. The mudroom/ pantry/laundry room not only collected her bags, complete with dirty laundry and souvenirs, but also a plethora of fresh produce.  It seemed that she had taken to stopping at every roadside stand to collect fresh fruits and vegetables on her way home!

Not only would we have to watch our step but we would be thrown right into canning.  Fortunately she anticipated my reaction and quickly added that that she had a plan: she would place her smaller collections in the refrigerator,  blanch the wax and green beans herself to prepare them for freezing, then she would season and roast the tomatoes and freeze those for sauces,  and only then did I generously offer to help with canning thirty pounds of fresh peaches! The fifteen pounds of beets were carried to the basement where it is cooler in hopes that they will wait till the end of the week to pickle.

This month's housecleaning was instantly undone, and our house status is now "back to normal"...chaos reigns again! Fortunately she brought me home a new Ann Rule book to take with me to my upper tower room, where I can hide out and read about what is even more frightening than my daughter's return to rule! These stories of true crime will make me appreciate my daughter's good and generous heart, though it should be noted that I carefully watch her or my husband take the first bites of her home-cooked can't be too careful these days!  My favorite aunt used to say, "Just because I am paranoid, doesn't mean someone isn't out to get me". I quite agree and I am sure that Ann Rule would too!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Winner of This Months Give-Away is...

This week's give away winner is Becky Wells! Congratulations Becky and for those of you that didn't win, come back and visit our Common-Thread Artists' websites as every month we feature a special artist who gives away a sample of their work!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

World Conflict and a Full Moon

Last week whirred by.  My live-at-home adult daughter was gone for a week and I thought it would be quiet and peaceful. Perhaps it was the full moon, or tension spilling over from all the conflict in the world, but despite the quiet in my house, my soul seemed to be anything but serene and peaceful. Conflict found me right in the center of my being for as I shared my concern for the world with a dear friend, it seemed that another "world conflict" erupted right there between us.  I was shocked and dismayed. I thought we shared similar religious and political beliefs, but we couldn't have been further apart regarding the Israeli/ Hamas conflict.

I can be too outspoken and I have made a vow with my daughter not to blog about politics, lest my loyal readers flee. When it comes to my faith, I do less well, as it seems to fall out of me, no matter what. Still, I didn't think I was being overtly political or religious, but in response to my friend's thoughts, out spewed strong religious and political opinions, and the banter began. I spent days in anguish and torment, reading and writing thought provoking emails back and forth, for it seemed to literally "shake my inmost calm". Nothing could be done, but to discuss our differences via emails, learn from each other, as well as consult authorities on such matters and apologize for unknowingly raising conflict. Communicating concern and love for each other and peaceably agreeing to disagree, so as to not let our differences come between us was the best that we could do.

As I tried to better understand my reaction, I noted the full moon but also wondered if my increased physical activity was increasing inflammation in my body and consequently in my brain.  It is common for a person being treated for lyme disease to have such Herxheimer reactions and indeed my pain level was increased as well. With such an exaggerated upset to my whole system, I felt like I was experiencing a sliver of the religious and political war that was happening simultaneously in the Middle East.

In speaking to a rather atheistic friend about it all, she asked, "Would any of this conflict exist, if no one embraced religion?"  It was a good rhetorical question, but then wouldn't we still have conflict over something else, and after all my body and brain was clearly inflammed,...and after all there was a full moon?

I used to be a psychiatric nurse and it is a fact that there would be great escalations of psychiatric upset during full moon phases. Sadly as I finished writing this blog I am learning of Robin Williams' suicidal death. When I manned a suicide prevention line, we got more calls during full moon phases as well.

I think I will map such lunar phases on my calendar in the future to be forewarned! It will be a time to be less active so as to not bring on more inflammation and quietly retire early and alone, with a glass of warm milk, a straight jacket and unplug  the phone (being not such a great lover of cell phones) so I cannot speak to anyone of world events, religious or political beliefs! I wonder if the world shouldn't consider similar sanctions for everyone?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August's Common-Thread Give-Away Artist

Maria Wulf is this month's Common-Thread Give-Away Artist and she will be giving away four 5" x 7" note cards featuring her artwork. To register to win all you need to do is go to her website, at Full Moon Fiber Arts and leave a comment anytime Monday to Thursday and the winner will be drawn and announced at the end of the week.

Most of you know Maria, but for those who don't, I am delighted to tell you about her.  She is artist, writer, wife and farm girl.  Do take time to visit her website to see her artwork and quilts.

She has recently visited the world's famous quilters at Gee's Bend Collective in Gee's Bend, Alabama and spent several days with these well known quilter to learn about how they create their quilts. To be sure, she had tips to share  with them as well, for she is not new to quilting and fabric art. (see her May 2014 blogs).
Like the famous quilts of Gee's  Bend, Maria's quilts seem to flow spontaneously from what Maria envisions with the recycled materials that she has on hand.  Each is unique and one-of-a-kind.

Maria is also known for what she calls "streaming".  This is her free-motion quilted artwork.  For anyone who has not tried free-motion quilting, it is not as easy as it appears.  It is machine quilting that is free flowing. The feed dogs on the machine are dropped down, so the quilt-sandwich is fed into the machine by hand and in order to sew even-sized stitches. It takes steady and even "feeding" of the fabric while at the same time guiding the fabric to make the designs to be quilted.  Maria's artwork truly "streams" right out of her head and hands much like a free-flowing stream of consciousness.  Designs that incorporate her thoughts and dreams and whimsy are the results.

I have have tried a simpler version of what she does and with my sewing machine running, I "freeze up" trying to focus on both feeding the fabric evenly and creating the designs at the same time.  It is truly a talent that requires being able to do more than one thing at a time.  I laugh when I think of doing two things or more at a time, like walking and talking. I always have to stop to think. It is safe to say that Maria has no issue with doing multiple tasks at a time!  I am in awe of her talents!

Maria is also the wife of Jon Katz, a New York Times Best Seller author and photographer.They live on Bedlam Farm.  This farm is a smaller-sized version of their previous Bedlam Farm (which is still for sale). Both are beautiful locations in up-state New York.  Jon and Maria's blogs feature their life with their well-known beloved dogs, cats, chickens, sheep and donkeys and Maria is often the subject of Jon's photographs. Adorning her small stature with dresses and knee-high boots, she freely displays her love and affection for her animals and has a connection with them that is palpable, even in pictures. Her animals sense what we know of Maria: she is a gentle, loving and caring person.  But make no mistake, beneath her softness is a quiet strength that is so beautifully expressed in her artwork!