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!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Address Books Should be Kept in Pencil!

While cleaning out my basement, I found an old loose leafed address book, with another whole set of refill pages. I remembered the call I had just made to a friend of mine to again ask for a common friend's most recent phone number only to discover that I already had it, but was confused between all the different numbers in my old address book. I confessed to my friend that I already had that number but that my address book was too messy to be clear, she simply commented,  “I finally learned to do my address book in pencil”.

How stupid that after all these years, I still was trying to keep an address book in ink! Then I chuckled to myself, as I remembered all the care that I have taken in setting up my address books. If you were my friend, you were permanently added to my address book. You would not only remain my friend for life, but you were supposed to be "permanently located" as well and not move more than once, as my extra spaces for names and addresses were limited in my address book!

Yes, I am a control freak, and by writing in permanent ink, I thought I could keep people from moving, and even from dying?! I was young then and had a whole life ahead of me and I figured that everyone else did as well!

My address book had also become filled with the awful details of those dreaded phone calls telling of serious life-threatening and urgent health issues,hospital numbers, numbers of relatives to call, and next to their birth days, the dates of their death and their address scratched out when they departed to heaven! My address book became a biographical historical journal as well! My notes were not how I wanted to remember my family and friends, though for some time, I couldn’t bear to let these details go along with my loved ones.

As I recopied my address book, I realized that many names can simply be deleted. I now know that not every acquaintance becomes a friend-for-life.Taking care of my mother in her last years, as well as the demands of my own illness limited the time I had to spend with friends. Relationships require time and love to keep and our lives have a way of taking their own courses. I am learning that this need not be cause for regret. All of life is a journey and sometimes the best we can do is flow with it versus trying to hang on to what isn't any longer.

I now content myself with a clean and well ordered address book with all names, addresses and phone numbers written in pencil, ready to be altered as needed. I keep the numbers for public service, the local plumber, sewer service,  library and my church, along with those of my friends, though fewer in number.  I am figuring that this address book should be a nice quick reference for the next twenty years or so. My old address book will be stored in the history section of my basement for when I get around to updating the family tree started by my father years ago.

I am more mature now and know that nothing is permanent, not even friends or family. We are all temporary at best. I will work to keep in touch with my friends, as I can, but will also be accepting of those that take their leave. I will hopefully make new friends to add to my book, though the number isn't critical! Living and enjoying the present is really the best that any of us can do and it is nice to have the updated numbers of my friends, easy to find.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Ordinary Time in the Studio, Seasonal Tasks and "The Stupendous Steve N. Garage and Kitchen Project"

It is "Ordinary Time" in my studio.  This is time between sales, when I have planned and cut out many projects and am now simply stitching--some machine stitching, and then some hand-sewing, and sometimes moving between projects to keep me motivated. I still have quilt blocks cut and they are calling me to be laid out and stitched up to create quilt tops, though my focus for now has been to prepare items  for my holiday sales that will start in October and finish in December.
Assorted Varieties of Tomato Needlebooks

Hat and Strawberry needlebooks

Variety of Pumpkin Needlebooks

Wool Fruit and Vegetable Pincushions

Yet more fleece socks?
Ordinary Time in the summer brings seasonal tasks and projects that need to be done before winter. Hannah's garden is producing well and so there is always something to put up by canning or freezing. Hannah has been out picking strawberries and blueberries and freezing them, and she has just put up a large batch of roasted tomatoes that will be added to tomato sauces.  She has even done a batch of garlic dill pickles.
This summer we also are taking time to tackle cleaning out the garage, a job that was so overwhelming that we have put it off for two years. It is a seriously out-of-control mess. We have faced a similar accumulation when we first moved into our house.  The basement rooms were being finished off and all that went into them was stored in the garage, along with the remnants of our move.

This time it is what is left of items that were stored in our sheds, when their roofs caved in under the weight of too much snow two winters ago, along with items from my youngest daughter's move from one apartment and to another, leaving behind what she didn't have room for, thinking we did? There are also items taken from cars brought into the garage but not put away. We are serious collectors, though some would say that we boarder on being hoarders? We have certainly reached our limit to store anything else and so we will organize what stays and the rest must go. I am eager to have the garage function again as a garage. I can only dream of keeping my car in it again, making snow removal unnecessary in winter weather!

Pinterest has been a great resource that has given us many ideas for better organizing and storing equipment of all sorts. Because much of what is in the garage is what others use, I am being the follower versus the leader, besides which, I am not brave enough to face this task by myself.  It is a job that will have to be undertaken incrementally with my husband and daughters' busy work schedules. I consider my job to be much like a sheep herding dog...rounding up the workers and nipping at their heels to keep the process going, along with scheduling the incremental tasks that will take only brief periods of time and keep us chipping away at the bigger goal until it is done. Did I fail to mention that I will also be getting rid of a few of my accumulations that are merely taking up space?

Beginning is always the hardest part of any large undertaking and literally I sat in the garage to study what was there, what to get rid of and how to organize and consolidate what is to be stored. My mind couldn't begin to make any sense of this mess and so I snapped pictures of it instead. They are less than artistic shots. They will serve to remind me of what there there is to sort and/or dispose of. Afterwards I faced the wall attached to the house, trying to find a place to start and how to best use this wall for storage. I talked over ideas with my daughter and then made sketches that look like maps of what will go where. I made lists and will be thrilled when any single task gets done and can be checked off, though at this pace, it may take us years to complete the overall goal.

My daughter has a business trip this next week, and will stay on for a few days to visit friends, and so it will be a pause for me to put all of our ideas and plans together in a notebook, jot down short-term objectives to complete this goal. We WILL work hard when she returns. With faith and prayers completing small tasks, we will get the job done by October!  I have a friend visiting then and it is my goal to have it completed by the Friday before Columbus Day.  I am dedicating this job to this friend, Steve N. who is a friend from high school.  Who knows if I will be at my best, but my garage will be!! I hope to have our kitchen curtains dry-cleaned by October as well.  Who is stupid enough to make curtains in their kitchen that have to be dry-cleaned anyway?? Visits motivate me to take pride in my surroundings that I might not otherwise and this will be known as "The Stupendous Steve N. Garage and Kitchen Project". My last projects were "The Exciting Emmett McCarthy Painted Doors and Studio Storage Project".
Work  faster and we will soon have pictures of a clean garage to post?

I think I will have to schedule another important guest to get our deck sanded and painted next summer! Anyone want to come? Of course there are other projects as well that perhaps someone would like their name attached to, like The Rooting Out of My Daughter's Rooms Project?  Think of the fame and glory having your name attached to such an undertaking....not unlike the creation of the Grand Coulee Dam, I think? You will note that I added nice adjectives to these projects, so as to add fame to those names that are attached to them!Perhaps there should be a contest to name the redoing of my deck project, complete with a prize of coming to visit this grand location?

I dedicate this writing to T.B. Dodd who was one of my dad's best friends as well as his insurance agent. He knew first hand of my dad's anguish and grief while being the contractor for the form work for the unusual tent-like construction of Denver's airport years ago. In good humor, he had a clear plastic plaque engraved with "The Disaster That Did Not Happen at Stapleton International Airport Concourse B 1962". My dad disliked architects that designed difficult buildings to build, and this project proved to be a major headache for him! Perhaps I need special plaques created for each of my rooms where major accomplishments have been undertaken and completed and perhaps special ones to be attached to my children as well?