Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Tribute to My Dear Zeldie

Last Sunday afternoon Zeldie started crying.  I thought at first she was simply upset with me as I shut her out of our bedroom so she couldn't bite holes in my new quilt, but she persisted and her cries changed. When I put her down she was wobbly on her legs and acted very frightened.  We now know that these are neurological signs. We called our vet and later when her condition worsened we called the local emergency vet. We had an appointment with our vet in the morning and the emergency vet concurred that we wait until morning for her to be seen by her.

It was a very long night.  She went into seizures of different forms. I am a nurse and there is no mistaking clonic movements as neurological seizures.  We worked hard to keep her safe through the night.  She wanted to hide, as that is apparently how cats act when they are not OK.

She was put to sleep by our vet, the following morning. We were prepared by her bad night, to let her go, not because we wanted to but because we didn't want her to suffer, especially as there was no fixing her according to our vet, who was as supportive to us as to Zeldie and we soon saw her relax in our arms and go to sleep.

Returning home, we found it so empty and realized that there was no where for us to hide from her absence.  She was a constant companion to me and to my husband as well.  We often called her The Queen of Little House for she would boss us, and we would work to meet her every command. We long to be bossed again by her, but it is not to be.

She was an integral part of my life, so much so that I am posting pictures of some of her various quilts that she took to redesigning with her teeth! She would rip and  I would stitch.  We made quite a team! Patchwork hearts cover both sides of one quilt, and a few butterfly patches were added to another, and still on another I added a dedication block commending Zeldie and myself on the work we both did on a wool log cabin quilt. She had bit several holes on its back side, bless her heart.  Of course now that they have her mark on them, they have grown ever so much more valuable in my eyes! And did I mention that when I made a whole batch of wool doorstop hens and left them covered by a sheet on my dining room table to keep them safe from her, she chose to lay across their backs to take her nap. Perhaps she dreamt of hatching them?  She also took to hiding my mini fruit pincushions while I was working on them...When ten of them were found hidden under a chair, I realized that I wasn't crazy after all! Stitching hard, I didn't seem to be making much progress in terms of my count!? I understood why when they were later found by my house cleaner!

She always took a roosting position in whatever room I was working in, to be at least at eye level, if not higher, than me. She knew how to dominate, and command, but she also knew how to love, and no matter if she was sleeping, she would answer me with a quiet little "mew", and wag her tail. She was "my mostly companion" and I will greatly miss her.

I will however seek to find another kitty to love, for that was Zeldie's greatest gift to me. She taught me that her companionship, loyalty and love bites were her gift of love to me.  I know that another cat will not "replace" Zeldie, but I hope that I can give to another kitty some of the love that Zeldie bestowed upon me!  It will be my tribute to her!

I have asked my mother to watch out for Zeldie in heaven.  My little companion needs another quilter in her next life that she can "help", and I know that my mom and others will enjoy her as much as I did!  "Know that I will miss you, my little Zeldie Pooh, but will plan to see you again some day! Meanwhile, Mom, please put the shades up so she can take her naps in the sunshine!"

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!

Wishing you all a Happy Easter, Passover and Spring! Here are pictures from our annual Easter Egg Dying Party, a very messy but fun and creative time! We try new techniques every year, but have so much fun that we forget to take pictures until near the end of the party.  Everyone leaves with an assortment of fun and different dyed eggs.  We even do egg swapping and share an Easter gift or two!

We always start with a delicious dinner and end with an even better dessert. Sorry, no pictures taken of our delicious taco dinner with tiramisu dessert! This year my daughter, Hannah hosted this fun event and hands down, she is the best cook ever!
These are some of the fashion egg colors of the year (or not?)!

A close up!

Drying...Waiting to be fully finished.

Perhaps this end of the table had a better assortment of dyes?!

Some preferred softer colors!

Some mixed their colors up leaving more blue and mud colors?

Green, blue and brown ones here!

She picked this egg to model! Which is "the good egg" here?

Very artistic!

Process is everything, this picture showing the near final outcome!

Painting using a tablet of dye (earlier in process).

Egg painting obsession here (earliest picture).

Almost  done here!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Writing my Own Obituary-- Very Sic Humor!

Humorous headstone in Key West Cemetery--credit to Trip Advisor*
A few weeks ago I came down with a cold. This is unusual for me, for I have not had an acute illness since I started the Marshall Protocol, over eight years ago. Eliminating Vitamin D by using medication and diet revved up my immune system and not getting acute illnesses was the most positive effect of this treatment... until I discontinued it!

I wrote to a friend that it had to be a manifestation of God's sic humor, that after years of working to kill off Lyme's superbugs, I feared I would succumb to a mere "killer cold".  He enjoyed my sic humor and got the message that it would be an insult to my warrior-like spirit and suggested that I practice writing my own trial obituaries to be sure that what I most treasured about myself, not be lost when I die of something simple and ordinary! He then gave me a example of the fun irony awaiting such writings and wrote, "weakened by decades of fighting Lyme disease, Jane slipped on the ice and cracked her head open" and then added, "I hope you don't mind my macabre humor." 

I didn't mind his humor at all, and it made me laugh! I am clearly not as ready to die as I had thought, for as yet my obituary is not written! But I appreciated that when I have worked so hard to fight the good fight, it will take a special obituary to sum up  my heroic defiance in the face of Chronic Lyme Disease! Sadly my whole persona has been caught up in my battle with this illness! Perhaps I should hire him to write it? It would at least put a smile on everyone's face to read it and that by itself would be a positive and fun message to leave with my friends and family when I go?!

Years ago, I wrote and delivered my dad's eulogy and am now questioning if I dwarfed his life in the words that I wrote about him, though his final illness was short when compared to his moderately long and productive life so my eulogy of him wasn't all about his fight against his final illness! Nonetheless, how important final words about a person can be!

I just wrote to a friend about my younger brother who died when he was thirty-three from pneumonia, I realized as I wrote that, I just stripped him of the glory of his battle against an atypical and severe MS that had also become the hallmark of his life's journey. He bravely died with bed sores to his bones, and no one could ignore that his character had been formed by his sweet and non-complaining spirit as he took whatever time was left him in his short life! Naming the cause of his death as pneumonia didn't capture his courage and fortitude and I then added detail to what I wrote. and proclaimed his good and courageous attitude and heart as he faced eight years of being tormented by a horrible disease that never let up! Context is everything!

In a six year correspondence with another who has a severe and chronic illness like my own, we often laugh about what isn't funny in our lives and recently we have talked about the irony that we are never seen as the heroines by our family members or friends who are sick of sharing the daily ups and downs of our illnesses. It is those surrounding us that instead get the sort of credit we think we deserve as they put up with us with patience and fortitude!

Many who live with invisible illnesses face this irony! We muster the faith, only to look like the fragile and mortal beings that we are...and our faith, courage and humor are often over-looked despite the fact that we often face diseases that suck the very needed energy to deal with each single day. Some think that the answer would be to find a Dr. Kevorkian to hasten our dying, put us out of our misery and give a welcome relief to our care-takers, but no, we "bravely" carry on instead, though some like me, whine as well!  We preciously cling to every bit of life that is remaining in us, no matter the effort it may take to get dressed on some days! We can be teased and even abused by friends that dare to tell us that "we just aren't fun anymore!"  There is more irony still that when we are moms or nurses, or in some other caring position, we are not even seen as sick, and are expected to perform the roles we always did, no matter how we feel!

The friend who advised that I practice writing sample obituaries, wrote, "we certainly want to credit your Lyme with your future death, regardless of the exact cause" and added that T.S. Eliot once said that "our world will end, not with a bang, but with a wimper"! He understood the insult of our life ending without drama and fanfare after defiantly giving the middle finger to an horrific life-robbing disease for so many years! I have beat the odds, at least so far!

Sic humor is truly the strength of those of us who beat back The Grim Reaper, no matter that he does get us all in the end! In the middle of my cold, I watched The Walking Dead series, and laughed about how my breathing sounded like their's and that I didn't look too different either! I put myself into all those scenes of giving "the walking dead" their final release by stabbing them through their eye sockets!!

Mind you, no one with a serious illness is out looking for sympathy, but kindness is always welcome and, I add, that respect for the battle we fight is most appreciated. Some are granted good health, no matter what, while others of us may do all the right things with all the wrong results!!  As the photograph of the tombstone of the man who at least made his final point that "he really was sick" suggests, even being believed and affirmed is kind!

Restraining from giving obvious advice that diminishes our own intelligence is also kind. We are sick but not stupid! We have tried a zillion times to get well and it is clear that those that offer such simple advice are clueless as to how complicated a difficult disease can be!  I can't tell you how many times, "dieting and exercise" have been recommended...Duh!! Even doctors make inane recommendations, and if they don't understand, who will? Fortunately research is showing at last that exercise begets exhaustion versus creating energy for those that are ill! Fatigue surrounding our illnesses means that our bodies are NOT functioning normally! Duh again!

The irony of asking to take care of another when you aren't well is also unkind, or asking that you donate money when you bluntly, but honestly tell the solicitor that you are disabled, on a limited pension, and unable to afford the out-of-pocket expenses that our chronic conditions necessitate! They are clueless and heartless as they persist to squeeze out our last dollar by decreasing their request by five or ten dollars and continue to to push!  Sadly, I often have apocalyptic thoughts for unkind or unsympathetic "friends, family and such solicitors" that if I only had a wand such that I could grant them perhaps a month or two of living with an incurable disease to wake their hearts of stone, though they would likely reap the get well cards, flowers, balloons and boxes of chocolate that don't come to chronic malingerers anymore, if ever?

I do plan to register my complaints to God if I get to heaven, though likely he has heard such complaints before. Holy Scriptures tell us God's answer might be like his response to Job, "I am God and you aren't!!"...and then I wonder if He sometimes laughs, after all, He is most likely the King of Sic Humor?

I have heard that Christ actually had a very good sense of humor, and so I hope he will appreciate my own, though I truly want to believe that His response is to come running, administer hugs, share my tears, apply  balm and healing miracles, or at least come with genuine sympathy and kindness and then perhaps tell a really good joke to at least make me laugh! Scripture also says that some are healed and some are not. I imagine myself to be the one that He commands to get up and walk, and instead of doing so, simply lies there wondering about his sanity? It really isn't for us to make the decisions as to whether we get well or not, despite our positive attitudes, but merely do the best that we can do with what we have.

Meanwhile for those supporting others with chronic illnesses, I do hope that you will listen and acknowledge their health issues, whether they suffer in silence or are more loud about it, like myself! Appreciate that while you may dread being around those that suffer and are tired of the "same old thing",  that we are tired of it as well. Invisible illnesses are very real and may in fact be more debilitating and life threatening than visible ones.

Mockery and unkindnesses are very cruel,  along with offering superficial and false reassurances that negate our experiences. Spare us simple advice. We have already tried everything we know and picked the brains of those most knowledgeable already! Recommended treatments are too often ineffective and can even exhaust and worsen our conditions. There are no easy solutions or we would be well already! And if you have good health express gratitude for it, as it is truly a gift that is not equally given to everyone!

For those of you who suffer with invisible or visible chronic illnesses and must depend on others, know that there are many who share your journey and that no matter who around you "doesn't get it", many of us understand completely!...We see the courage and bravery within, the silent heroes and heroines inside those that courageously take each day! Hang in there as I believe that we have a great deal to teach those that take their health for granted! Keep your faith and persevere and never forget to nurture and keep your humor too, no matter how sic it might be! Humor keeps our perspective and is indeed a valuable treasure!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

One Finished and a Whole Bucket List to Go!

Stand back and don't look too closely and my quilt looks pretty good
Finished at last, my own 9 patch, 9 patch quilt made from a collection of materials that a friend sent to me. Her mother, like all good sewers, went to her grave with many fabric left over! It is one of three of my first machine quilted quilts and I cannot lie, it was pretty discouraging. I had no idea how much work Quilt-As-You-Go Quilts can be.  Yes, I am still whining about NOT having a big quilting machine but nearing seventy years old, I have to wonder about whether or not it is worthwhile to invest in a pricey big table quilting machine, besides which where would I put it? I would be glad to give it my bed space, but then, I have to consider my husband, who already claims that his house has turned into a sewing and quilting studio!!

I realized some time ago that "finished is better than perfect!", but recently I have realized that at best I fit into the "beginner category" and that I will likely never produce prize-winning quilts!  This was and remains a very humbling realization  that wounds my quilter's pride! My quilts are lessons to me and I am continuing to make them all just a little bit different, so as to find ways to overcome my shortcomings. Navigating a large quilt on a small home machine is not as easy as some of those blue ribbon-winning quilt-makers make it look!

To quilt large quilts on a small home machine, sometimes the quilter does so by breaking them into smaller sections to quilt and then joining the sections. They put sections together by using "joining seams" where you stitch the front and back separately.  The front is simply seamed together like sewing any other seams with right sides together. To use the "quilt-as-you-go" technique, you have to carefully trim your batting so it lays flat over the front seam and then fold under and hand-stitch the back seam. If you are quilting "stitch-in-the ditch", which is quilting in, or right next to the seam, you will find that most often the seam on the front and the one on the back don't match, and so as you sew your stitch-in-the-ditch quilt seam on the front side of your quilt you often are left with quilt stitches on the back side that don't come close to being next to the seam. You then cover this imperfect quilted seam by sewing on "fake" sashing strips by hand to cover this quilting on the back side.
Back side with hand-appliqued "fake" sashings to cover the joining seams.

The work involved is amazing for joining seams have two individual seams to sew, and then another to quilt next to the seam and then hand-stitching cover strips on both sides of the joining seam on the back side, making five seams for every one joining seam...Yowie!! That is a lot of sewing, and all so you can quilt faster by machine than by hand?? NOT so sure about that!?....I think I have just added years for each quilt waiting to be machine quilted, and I was already wondering if I would live long enough to finish them all! No wonder I call it "my bucket list of quilts", for I am sure to kick-the-bucket after all the years it will take to quilt them, and I don't seem to be getting faster either!!
Fake sashing strips cover the less-than-perfect back quilting stitches.

Fake-sashing strip is sewn on by hand and covers my many sewing sins!

In the end you want your quilting lines to look continuous if you pick a quilting pattern that is quilted to the edges of your blocks. But for me, a beginner, this meant picking out some stitches along the edge to make room for joining seams.  A very big whoops on my part!  This is not a quilt suitable for a quilt show, though it will likely keep us warm while we sleep, if I just remember to shut the lights off, so as to focus on sleep and not my imperfect quilting!

I am learning that no matter whether my quilts win contests or not, there is value in every quilt! My hand tied comforters are treasured items among my relatives and some are still waiting for one of my less than perfect, but completed comforters! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so I will find those that will treasure one my home-made comforters for its lofty warmth and will think fondly of me for sending them one and appreciate my colorful patchwork done to suit them in their personal colors. They are not looking for perfection but enjoy receiving something tangible and appreciate that it was stitched with love, despite my frustration in all its imperfections! I will not, however, give up on challenging myself to create more perfect machine or hand-quilted quilts as well!

I am also learning that children's quilts past-due are not so fashionable when they no longer fit the child that grew up too fast and is now an adult! Favorite patterns and colors can change during a lifetime and so quilts need to be timely as well, especially when they are now shared with a mate!

This quilt taught me that the overall look is what scrap quilts are all about, sometimes less than coordinated fabrics can be charming when mixed altogether. It also taught me to try to relax as I quilt, as hanging on too tight can create stitches that are too small and have a tendency to pop when we gently tug on it to cover our shoulders! Regular weight thread may also NOT be sufficient for the weight of the quilt. I do worry that despite how many seams are in this quilt, I am not sure how long it will stay quilted, though likely, with care, it will last our lifetime?

It is the process that counts and maybe when I have sewn many quilts, each designed to correct the previous quilt's errors, I just might create a show-worthy quilt? I will content myself for now to simply enjoy the process using varied designs and fabrics, and not focus on winning any ribbons!

I will continue to look for a quilting machine that will expedite my quilting, and hope to find one that will capitalize on my limited talents! Of course it must be at the right price, simple to operate and have a long enough sewing arm to allow for bigger pieces to be quilted!  I will continue to go to quilt shows and dream of still more quilts to make.  It isn't about having the right number for our beds, but rather about the creativity and love of fabrics!  Did I ever mention that my name is Jane and I am a fabricaholic and a full-feldged member of Fabricaholic Anonymous! It is true and so I can expect a bucket list that will never grow shorter!