Sunday, November 30, 2014

See December's Free Give-Away Gift and Sign up to Win

This month's Common Thread Give-Away artist is Jon Katz. He will be giving away a packet of of his Peaceable Bedlam Farm Notecards.  These include four  5 x 7 inch notecards and each is personally signed by Jon. These would make a cherished personal holiday gift, or enjoy them by framing them and decorating your walls with these wonderful country critters or delight your friends and family by sending them a personal note.

Each month we feature one of the artists in our Common Thread group and as a thank you to our readers, the artist of the month offers a free sample of their work to the lucky winner of our monthly drawing.  To enter all you need to do is leave a message for the artist, and this month, Jon requests that all comments be left on his wife, Maria's website at Be sure to sign up any time between Monday and Wednesday and the drawing will be held at the end of the week and the winner announced.

Don't forget to visit Jon's Bedlam Farm website to check out his writings and photography. I start each and everyday with  a bit of good news and a wonderful view into his wholesome country life!

Our Common Thread Give-Away Artist Group consists of Jon Katz, New York Times Bestselling Author, blogger, photographer and leader of many well-loved groups on facebook; Maria Katz, his wife, blogger, multi-media and fabric artist; Kim Gifford, writer, blogger, photographer, and multimedia collage artist; Rachel Barlow, blogger and artist; and myself, Jane McMillen, blogger, soft sculpturer and sewing artist. Websites are located to the right of this website and can be visited by merely clicking on each artist's site.  My Little House Etsy Shop can be accessed by clicking beneath the small pictures featuring my work in the right upper corner. Thank you so much for your interest in our blogs and artwork.

Good luck in winning these handsome cards, and know that each first Monday of the month we feature a different Common Thread Give-Away artist who donates a free sample of their work to the lucky winner of our drawing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Over the River and Through the Woods

"Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go.  The horse  knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted sno--ow..."

I always loved this song though we were often packed in a car when we sang it and didn't have rivers or woods to travel over or through. It was always nice to think about traveling through white drifts of snow. BUT this year we are to have a nor-easter and I became a grandmother of sorts, to potential step grandchildren, and I am really too tired to think about baking pies and having company.  Everyone will soon be on their way however to my house, and between now and then there will be a turkey all roasted, and mashed potatoes and stuffing and vegetables and pies and even a birthday cake, though my daughter seems to be the one that has offered to martyr herself at the hot stove altar!!!....

It is that time of year again! Unlike Martha Stewart, with every gourmet ingredient all bought and prepared, I am just now thinking of Thanksgiving, though we do have a turkey thawing.  Just thinking of all that needs to happen, I must return for a long winter's nap before such an undertaking, and perhaps I will take my phone directory with me and see if it is too late to book myself for a reservation at a nearby Bed-and-Breakfast!

We are becoming a modern-day family, blending families together. I am sure it will all be very nice, but I forever wonder how to blend the oil and water opposites that our family seems to be blessed with.We have one that frets and fumes and has pre-worried about everything, and another that will arrive late, to be the house guest and enjoy whatever is set before her. My house has suddenly been child-proofed by my daughter and I have graciously or ungraciously taken a step back, and decided to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head to see if I can wish the holiday away! I have suddenly become the perfect Scrooge, sour and grumpy!  I remember now that I had a cousin that preferred peanut butter sandwiches to the typical turkey feast, and I have grown to be like her in my old age and I think that if I was doing all the cooking that is just what I would serve!

One year my husband was to be in China over Thanksgiving and my eldest was away from home and my youngest got an exciting offer to have Thanksgiving near Niagra Falls and who should say "no" to that invitation? I felt sorry for myself for about a day and was well on my way to overcoming my feelings of total isolation. I didn't have to struggle long! Finding a good book and pulling out my most toasty PJ's to dress for the occasion, I quickly overcame my misfortune and began to count my blessings, only to find myself being pushed into another family's festivities. Lest I become suicidal, though those thoughts never occurred to me, my family's concern for my well being made me consider at least taking "dessert" at one of my children's friend's houses. I reluctantly went at everyone's insistence!!

It was a large Italian family, complete with black sheep and all...One even brought his wife and his girlfriend. Clearly this was not a cohesive family nor did they see eye to eye or get along the rest of the year!! They played games of all sorts, and without reservation, their competitive spirit was fierce enough that I thought there might be a stabbing or throat slitting before the games began.  I was assigned to a team, for no quiet buy-out was considered an option...blood was needed for each team and the competition began. There was yelling and screaming and pats on my back for the lucky answer I was able to suddenly pull from the recesses of a mind too long not used.  I felt like I was part of their family before I was done, though I still didn't know most of them by name.

The dessert was delicious, though I can't remember what it was now, but I still remember the hurling of insults and jabs and rowdy laughing!! No delicate politeness here, though their family was no more unified than mine where water and oil forever don't really blend and rankled irritation makes for wrinkles that can fester for the entire year!

I have since learned that no family is "normal" or a blend of perfect sweetness! And here we are again, in time for another round of holidays. I think I will get out the spoons this year and insist that we all consider a round or two of my favorite game.  No brain needed at my table--just the sheer gall of being grabby and reaching for a spoon, even if eye gouging might be needed to get one! This dear granny hopes to get all that out of her system in a good old-fashioned cut-throat game or two!

Now back to bed to rest up before a last minute run to the store where I will warm up to the festivities ahead as I fight over who gets the last jar of pickled beets or the last can of whipped cream topping and Sarah Lee's heat-and-eat pumpkin pie!!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and don't forget our craft show on Friday and Saturday at the Poultney High School Gymnasium in Poultney, Vermont!  It is guaranteed to be a big one!  Our sleighs are packed and ready to it may take them to get us there this year!!....and quite literally you will find this sweet Vermont town over the river and through the woods!! Don't miss it!!

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!


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!