Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Week, Another Sale...


Another week at Little House, and another sale.  Our holiday shows are coming fast and furiously now, one every two weeks and in December one a week for the first two weeks and then we will slide the slippery slope to Christmas. With any luck my personal Christmas sewing projects will be completed before Christmas. At this point, I am beginning to bite my nails.

I used to work in the public school system and used to have my Christmas sewing, shopping, wrapping, and cards done before I returned to school in the fall. I love the holidays and they are even more fun when all is done and ready to go, and I can focus on the holiness of the holidays, taking time to enjoy advent and the Holiday Season's festivities. It is really fun to open packages, when they are prepped far enough ahead of time that they become as real gifts from Santa, not remembering what is in any of them!!

With peace and serenity frayed, I will definitely welcome the advent season, as I grow eager again to celebrate anew the birth of Jesus at Christmas!!

Take a peak at our displays and if you see anything you are interested in and just leave me a note and I will be more than glad to get back in touch with you with detailed information.  Sadly my Etsy Shop listings have taken a second seat to my local shows.  Our next sale will be at the Poultney High School Gymnasium in Poutlney, Vermont on Black Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving. We will be including special cards handmade by my talented photographer friend, Kathryn Crockett.  They are not to be missed!

My personal Christmas sewing includes still more fleece socks, a fleece robe and two patchwork duvet covers. No problem about keeping secrets as those to get these gifts have been included in the process, down to picking the colors or specific fabrics and even doing a bit of their own design work. Be sure to visit my blog often for updated photos of my Christmas sewings and then onto my new winter sport of quilting! I hope you are all getting ready to celebrate the holidays in whatever ways you hold dear, as family traditions make for memories and bonds that carry us through the rest of the year!


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Monday, November 10, 2014

About Ebola, Lyme and the CDC....

I want to express some of my opinions regarding Ebola and the CDC's plans to contain it. Fortunately, it seems that the immediate threats have passed and all has turned out well. It is, however, an issue that touches my heart.  I am a graduate nurse and have practiced my profession for many years, long enough to know that medicine is not an exact science. No matter how knowledgeable those in the medical field claim to be, there is always more to learn.

I learned when attending a national diabetes conference and sat in on presentations about new cutting-edge medications, that it take years for the latest treatments to be researched sufficiently and pass grueling safety tests before being released for practical public use. This means that the practice of medicine is often behind their body of knowledge by as much as several decades. Sadly this can mean that even when medicine is on the "cutting edge", its practice often is not.

The CDC (Center of Disease Control), in my opinion seems to be a medical organization that is the slowest to catch on to what seems to be a common body of medical knowledge regarding various communicable or infectious diseases. It seems that it is the government agency that is to deem fact what the public already knows. They seem to truly "lead from behind" and I have personally experienced the negative effects of this organization in regards to their guidelines for diagnosing and treating Lyme Disease.

I suffer from Chronic Lyme Disease myself as a consequence of not being diagnosed early. Due to the CDC guidelines, I and a good many other were not diagnosed for a very long time. In my case it took three and a half decades, though I actively sought answers to my growing medical issues long before a Lyme-Literate doctor finally diagnosed my illness as Lyme Disease.

Since then, I have more than once considered going to my local veterinarian for more up-to-date treatment of my Chronic Lyme, for their practices are not hindered by the CDC.  Fortunately there are many doctors who have stepped away from the CDC's guidelines in recognizing and treating Lyme, though if caught doing so, they may well run the risk of having their medical licenses revoked or made to dump out their Lyme patients, or be "run out of town",  all devastating not only to the doctors but to those afflicted with this illness that seek care from doctors that are more enlightened than those that follow the archaic medical protocols prescribed by the CDC!

Why did two of the nurses who treated the first man to come down with Ebola in the US, contract the illness?  They were careful to gown and glove per typical standards used for isolation procedures. Why does it take an extreme haz-mat suit to keep a person safe from this illness, and just how far do our bodily fluids extend?  If this disease isn't airborne, can it still be transmitted by sneeze which carries bodily fluids to a distant radius around the person and when those contaminated particles land, how long can those germs survive, especially if not contained in an area that will be sufficiently treated to eliminate them?

I don't believe in cutting individual freedoms, but erring on the on the side of caution seems more appropriate to me than risking the spread of a disease that is too often fatal? Before I left nursing I tested positive for lots of illnesses that I never had full blown symptoms for, but had been exposed to in my work.  I eventually switched my profession to decrease my exposure,when I kept getting ill, as I didn't seem to have the same resistance to infection that my peers did.

When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, my doctors, with good reason, questioned if all my symptoms of thirty plus years prior were caused by Lyme, or a result of having Lyme that perhaps made me more susceptible to other acute illnesses? I was treated for co-infections that typically accompany Lyme as treatment rendered me only temporarily better. Despite negative tests for many of these co-infections, I learned that there are different strains of most infections that tests, if available are not always sensitive enough to screen for, though treatment for them did improve my health.

While giving flu shots one season, I learned that a patient's great grandfather lived through such a severe flu epidemic in the United States that being a medical student, he was taken out of school along with his peers and given shovels to bury the dead, as there were not enough people to bury them fast enough to contain the disease. I also learned that their remains would still be considered contagious if exhumed today.  Read about Plum Island and the experiments that went on there that involved animals with open pens and about the bird estuaries nearby, and the big outbreak of what has now been named Lyme Disease that broke out across the water in Lyme, Connecticut (hence its name). Medical science is smart about containing disease, OR IS IT?

I side with those that dare to err on the side of caution. I live with a disease that the CDC considers to be rather rare, though recently they have had to admit that its incidence is higher than they thought. I am one of the patients that wasn't diagnosed properly for too many years due to the CDC's guidelines, and the CDC doesn't currently even recognize that Chronic Lyme Disease exists though to be sure insurance companies do?  The CDC also believes that if you tested positive for Lyme and were treated and still have symptoms, that your illness would not benefit from on-going antibiotic treatment though vets and lyme-literate doctors believe that if Lyme symptoms persist, then active infection is still present and will and does respond to treatment. The CDC leading from behind means that many of us with either Lyme or Chronic Lyme are left undiagnosed and untreated!

From my experience, I wouldn't believe that the CDC has all the facts regarding Ebola, even though Ebola has existed and been treated for many decades.  Call me "a right-winged nut", I am not afraid of names, but I am afraid of illnesses that are hard to cure! Interestingly, I never remember having a tick bite or a bull's eye rash despite that being part of the criteria for diagnosis of Lyme per the CDC guidelines.

I don't believe that the CDC is informed that Lyme can be transmitted sexually or in utero, though both of my children tested positive for it with no history of any tick bites, and my symptoms dated back to before I was pregnant and my children's symptoms from the time they were newborns. Years later they both tested positive for Lyme after a Lyme-literate doctor diagnosed me and I described years of my kids being ill. Lyme mimics other illnesses and many doctors did not even think to test them or myself for Lyme disease, believing what they had learned through the CDC that Lyme is a very rare disease.

When it comes to contracting infections, it is common medical knowledge that some people are more susceptible than others.  A person's immunity to diseases varies greatly according to their own health as well as age. I know that my immune system has been weakened by my illness and many seniors and young also have less immunity to contagious illnesses and may also have more difficulty fighting off infections when contracted. This should be common knowledge for all nurses and doctors and most especially if they work for the CDC, such as Kerry Hickox does? Why was she so resistive to being quarantined? Perhaps she was more interested in keeping her employment by the CDC and pushing its political agenda instead of respecting that all caution be employed to prevent risk to anyone else just in case she had contracted the illness and did not yet exhibit overt symptoms?

They say that doctors practice medicine...and they have used their words correctly for that is is exactly what they do and nurses do likewise! They practice what they know, and their body of knowledge expands daily and is never an exact science, not even for diseases that they have treated for decades! Mandated quarantine for a limited amount of time to be sure that a person exposed to the illness doesn't have the illness and will not spread infection is really not that hard!

I refrain from wishing that Kerry Hickox experience a difficult-to-treat disease herself and then view this demand with a new perspective. Can it really be asking that much of her or anyone else that has had direct contact with Ebola patients to sacrifice their time and limit their exposure to the world for a short time to be in quarantine for the safety of others? She seems pretty selfish to me and no hero at all, to not be willing to sacrifice a few weeks of her life in the world at large. She might even gain some appreciation of what it is like to be sick and shut in for a while, making her an even more compassionate care-giver who better understands what life is like for her patients!

Again, I am glad that so many that had to watch for symptoms have NOT manifested Ebola, but I believe that it is when we let down our guard and vigilance that such an epidemic could happen. With all those that have been sent to help with this horrible outbreak in Africa, I think it will be in everyone's best interest to let those that govern us know that you appreciate their vigilance in exercising strict caution. What is at risk could well be my health or yours!.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Winner is....

The winner of this month's drawing is Mary Ann Cauthen.  Thank you all for your interest! Next month we will have another Common-Thread Give-Away, so don't forget to come visit us all again!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Another Free Give- Away Drawing--Register to Win Now!


It is already November and time for another free Common-Thread Artist to be featured who will give away a sample of her artwork. Kim Gifford is our Artist for November and will be giving away a package of eight note cards featuring her artwork. These blank notecards are perfect for wishing those you love a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

To know Kim is to know that she is a fun-loving, sensitive and deeply spiritual person who is kind and loving to her family, her pugs and her friends.  Her joy for life is reflective in all of her work. Do check out her website at Pugs and Pics.  For those who know Kim and have experienced her artwork before, you may be as surprised as I was as to see how her artwork continues to evolve.

Kim's big news is that she has a show that is exclusively featuring her work at the Radio Bean in Burlington, Vermont November 7th through December 3rd!  Her exhibit is entitled Once and Future Things and is a study on girlhood, in the form of her digital collage art which incorporates different mediums and textures to create one-of-a-kind artwork unique to Kim.

Don't forget to register to win her cards by simply leaving a comment along with your name, now through Wednesday and perhaps you will be the lucky winner of this month's Common-Thread Give-Away Drawing held at the end of this week.

For those that are new to our group's free monthly give-away, know that this is our way of thanking you for visiting our Common Thread Give-Away Artist's websites.  You will find them and the links to their websites listed on the right hand side of my blog.  To visit them, simply click on their names and don't forget that we do this every first Monday of the month! Our group is in process of expanding and we are excited to bring you new and diverse artists and their work very soon, so do keep checking our websites and good luck on winning these great cards!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Therapy for our Nation or Turn Away from Evil...and have fun besides!

My daughter's pumpkin art this year...from evil to fun!*
As I sew, I often sit in front of the TV and turn on either CNN or Fox News and simply leave it on that channel for hours at a time.  I only half listen to it as I sew. I have however had to turn away from doing this recently with all the scary news: serial killer confessing all with subsequent findings of women's bodies; the lack of containment of ebola; ISIS and their recruitment of terrorists from western countries; Ottowa, Canada on lock-down for all day to assure that there were no other terrorists on the loose; Ferguson and more racial unrest....Nothing seems to be positive.

For a change of programming I turned on Jon Stewart.  I needed to laugh, if even at my own political party.  Why not, I thought, this sorry world is in need of laughter and Jon didn't let me down.  He addressed what the politicians are all screaming about, "keeping America safe no matter what" and brought up the litany of things that we have to fear, and putting them all together I found myself giggling. ISIS terrorists with ebola on their backs making their way through our too porous borders, and then clips from news programs of politicians in arms about protecting America, unless it costs money, or time or effort or involves changing their carefully guarded ideology...always blaming the other party.

There is much to fear in today's world though I believe that focusing on the positive would take a giant step to abolishing the need for youth to run to ISIS for a need to belong. My daughter shared a program with me that does just that, though at first I couldn't imagine any theme less likely to spark my interest.  It is called Kim of Queens.  It features Kim, who is a beauty pageant coach, and features her working with young girls.  Mind you I have seen Toddlers and Tiaras and think putting kids into beauty pageants should be considered a form of child abuse. 

Kim's program is quite different.  She finds kids that are anything but beauty pageant sorts and teaches them to be comfortable with who and what they are, no matter how different and non mainstream they might be.  Her instruction is about building her girls into being complete and confident young women with emphasis on inner character and overcoming their fears and demons. She even emphasizes that their personal problems and imperfections may be their greatest asset for it is their connection to real people everywhere as well as community action. There is no harsh criticism for their less than perfect performances, but rather much praise when they simply do their best!

Another program I discovered that was also refreshing was the new program Somebody Has to Do It. This is a new version of the previous program, Dirty Jobs. This week a marching band was featured, and I am sorry that I didn't take notes as to its name.  It took black kids from an area known for high delinquency and gave them not only an activity that took them off the street, but gave them structure, fun and challenge and lifetime pride in themselves.  Their marching is no ordinary marching, but rather complex precision work. They have been invited to several presidential inaugurations and have traveled in Europe as well.  Their training is no less than a ballet dancer's would be with many different positions and steps that are then put together and done amazingly fast and in time with their marching drummers and majorettes! And once a member always a member!  Again, what a neat way for kids to build confidence and pride in themselves and their community!

"Small things done with great love" was Mother Teresa's motto and the above sorts of activities are just that....therapy for our nation to bind up its wounds and rebuild the nation that we love.

I fell asleep dreaming of such things and then awoke with an even better idea...picture ISIS marching like this marching band.  They might get into it so much that they would forget about their knives and beheadings and taking over the world, and decide to compete with other marching troops, and take pride in their precision moves and marching to a rhythm all their own, and then allowing their women to be coached by Kim to become as beautiful as they can be inside and out, and overcome their fears and demons, and compete in international competitions bringing pride to themselves and their country...I know it is only a fantasy, but what a wonderful world it would be...Nations full of people taking pride in themselves and their communities all working together to make the world a better place...It is a wonderful dream!

Somebody has to do it and why not us in our own ways, with our own talents right in our own communities right now...and about curing ebola?  Likely it will be done the same way, saving one life at a time and caring enough to not take any chances of spreading it to another.  That too is a dream, but I do think that we can make it happen if we try!

(*Thank you Sarah Kate for your lovely pumpkin art--another example of taking pride in small achievements...and The Joker, no less...Perfect for this blog about transforming the world...from evil to fun and pride in doing small things with great love!)




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quilting, A New Winter Sport?


I hate to see the leaves falling from the trees.  It has been so beautiful here in Vermont.  We are quickly moving into late fall, and of course, what comes next is winter.  I often think that Christmas should come at the end of winter instead of the beginning.  It is wonderful to anticipate and prepare for the holidays, but once they are over it seems that the winter season is like the one in C.S. Lewis's book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, "always winter and never Christmas". So why did we move to the north?  I am still wondering, though the spring, summer and falls here could not be more beautiful! Winter is pretty too, at least the first month of it, but after that I am ready for spring, months before the white season disappears!

Though I think that winter will be a great time to work on quilts, I do wish we could have the sun shine outside as well. I am in a Vitamin D-free treatment.  Yes, a person can live without vitamin D, at least for some of us that have a dis-regulation of it, though it is still nice to see sunshine outside! I feel a bit glum when the skies are gray! Although I have fond memories of ice skating, sledding, and skiing, this year quilting will be my new winter sport.

Small acorn pincushions in process.
Not only is the season changing but our household is too. As I continue to prepare for my holiday shows and will soon start sewing on some personal projects for Christmas, I am finding myself in the midst of big changes here at home. My oldest daughter that is still living with us, is quickly becoming attached to a very nice young man.  Although I have a tendency to count my chickens before they hatch, it is not hard to see that if this relationship becomes permanent, I may gain a son-in-law AND step-grandchildren for her friend is a widower with three children.  I will not rush the process but rather concentrate on the changes that this brings to our own household right now.  My daughter, spending more time with him and his family, is around less to cook dinner and this means that I need to re-cultivate my long-lost cooking skills.
Big acorn pincushions

I have just written about how difficult it was to think of preparing a meal for company, and returning to cooking every day also seems overwhelming.  I have been too happy to step out of the kitchen and into a life a sewing.  Quilting is my winter agenda, and so I am scouting on pinterest to get new ideas of making meals ahead of time and/or finding easy crock pot recipes, like I used to do when I was working full time. It has been so nice to have a daughter who loves to cook and try new recipes.  Our styles are different as I require quick and easy-to-fix meals that conserve my energies for what I enjoy most, which is NOT cooking.
Cactus pincushions, ready for market. Cheerful and bright for the winter!

We have acquired a used chest freezer in our newly cleaned garage and my daughter and I are scheming and dreaming of doing cook-a-thons to prep meals to freeze ahead so we can heat and eat them with little to distract us from our goals. Yesterday I tried a very easy casserole that was delicious. It was a buffalo chicken tater-tot casserole, not exactly health food but oh so delicious!! I do love Pinterest for all of their ideas and am building a file of quick and easy recipes--all gluten free! Some of my readers have heard of my plight and sent me some of their easy to fix recipes as well! I appreciate them all and meanwhile my husband is stocking up on Sriracha Sauce and ketchup, his favorite condiments to doctor my cooking!

(If you are interested in purchasing any of the items shown before they go to market, just contact me at jmcvermont@comcast.net and I will be happy to provide you with detailed information and prices. Do see my last blog for my show schedule and hopefully you can make it to one of these shows. There will be many great artists and craftspeople and I love to see what they have been busy creating. They are great places to purchase unique and different gifts for your holiday giving!)




Friday, October 17, 2014

The Last Leaf

A calendar holder painted with blackboard paint became a welcome sign!
I have been telling my readers about cleaning our house and garage in preparation for having company from out of town. Steve and I barely knew each other in high school. He dated a friend of mine and we double dated. Steve and I became e-mail friends only a few years ago through this same mutual high school friend.

Steve was married and his wife suffered from Chronic Fatigue/ Fibromyalgia an illness that shares many of the same symptoms of Chronic Lyme. Steve wrote to me about the story, The Spoon Theory, which is a classic must-read for anyone with an invisible illness (just google it on line if you wish to read it). Shortly after that his wife was diagnosed with Late Stage 4 Lung Cancer, though she had never been a smoker. I continued to correspond with Steve to give him support through her dying days and after.

The strength of his character came shining through as he took each step in he and his wife's challenging journey. He is truly a remarkable person and a good friend.  This year he planned a trip to the East to see our beautiful fall colors and took the time to come and and visit me and my family. His visit became the catalyst and motivation behind what I named The Steve N Garage and House Clean-up Project of 2014. Pictures of my nearly cleaned garage were featured in my last blog as were the before pictures a couple of months earlier.

His visit was really the excuse we needed to do what had become overwhelming projects put off for too long. He came Columbus Day Weekend and so the day before his visit became the deadline to complete these projects!

In Vermont, Columbus Day Weekend is typically peak leaf peeping season, though this year I worried that our fall was coming too early and I wrote to Steve about my concerns of whether or not there would still be leaves on the trees for him to see. Typical of Steve, he simply calmly wrote back insisting that I read, The Last Leaf  by O'Henry. For those who haven't read this story, it is truly a beautiful story of the power of hope and sacrificial love and all centered around a last leaf of the season. This story can be found on line too and is a lovely read!
Our maple tree in the front yard with lots of leaves left yet!


Steve's dry humor is great and he joked about deserving compensation for being the motivation behind our big clean-up project. While doing inventory of my crafts, I stumbled upon a tiny penny rug with a single fall maple leaf, surrounded by fall colored tabs, it was clear that this would be the perfect gift to commemorate his visit and what it had come to represent to us. It would also satisfied my concern that he get to see a fall leaf if none were left on the trees for his visit.
As it turned out, the fall colors were glorious for the weekend!

I attached a note to his gift, thanking him for the hope that he gave us all. Like the artist in the story, I didn't think this little penny rug was my masterpiece in terms of my artwork, but I did want to thank him for his friendship and encouragement, as well as him taking time to visit me in the middle of his touring New England. His friendship and visit are truly special gifts deserving of my token gift in return!! How appropriate that the last leaf in the story represented hope as his visit came to represent hope to me and my family to put our lives back together after a rough couple of years that taxed us greatly!

My husband's hope is that our difficult stretch of time is over and that this clean-up project will end with our cars tucked safely in the garage for winter. My oldest daughter's hope came to be represented in finally getting her belongings that were rescued almost three years ago from sheds that had collapsed under the weight of a severe snow storm, properly re-stored in plastic containers and returned to the sheds that had been made winter-ready again. And my hope was for a solid beginning of a “make-over” of myself, though my goal changed when I couldn’t yet physically tolerate swimming. I instead I cleaned some windows and curtains and added some decorations to my house, as it represents an extension of myself and my hope of what is yet to come regarding the return of my health after a very long treatment process!!
Some additional humorous deco signs added to our family picture wall!

Lisa Zador's animal portraits extended our family pics and made me laugh!

More deco signs remind me.that I love to sew and God sees my stitches!!

Oh dear!! If I am not positive, punishment  will follow!!


A deco ironing board cover made to match my room!!

An old sampler gets a $2 frame and hung up! (Not perfect, I know, but done!)

My penny rug framed was a fitting compensation for Steve for I came to see it as the very symbol of the tangible hope represented in The Last Leaf.  There was a reason that this one had not sold for it was meant for Steve! His friendship and encouragement has indeed been a remarkable gift!

My Last Leaf Penny Rug

Steve's recommendation of many terrific books have encouraged me in my journey through difficult days with a chronic illness! Should we all have such a friend during such times!  I am glad to report that Steve has continued on with his own life journey following his wife's untimely death.  He brought his girlfriend, Anne with him when he came to visit me. They share the bond of having both lost their spouses to cancer. Their courage and strength is an inspiration and hope that keeps on giving and reminds me that we all need to be a source of hope and encouragement to others!  Thanks Steve!