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I'm never bored. If I'm not knitting or spinning, I'm gardening or reading. There's so much to learn and never enough time. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Birthday Wishes

The day after tomorrow I will turn 63. Yikes. Thirty years ago I couldn't have imagined my life as it is now.  At that point I had poor health and little hope. Living with my young family in a small apartment on a tight budget, I had suffered illness after illness before being diagnosed with MS. I had a baby with year-round asthma and a young daughter dealing daily with a teacher who should not have been around children at all - ever. My health ebbed and flowed. I took a full-time job with the knowledge that I would have to come clean or lie about my health. I came clean and my first job led to two more before I stopped working full-time at the age of 52.  Pre-existing conditions prevented me from seeing a doctor for the MS for my first year of full-time employment. It didn't matter much. There wasn't anything they could do for me anyway. I was on a lottery list for Betaseron with no coverage for injectables. Scroll forward. Things worked out for the children as they tend to do. The baby outgrew the asthma and into size 12 shoes, a good job, a pretty little house and a nice family.  It wasn't that easy but it all worked out. My daughter blossomed into a capable, bright young woman who traveled to The Hague this past year to make a professional presentation. And she also has a nice family and a home of her own.  The husband I had 30 years ago passed away from cancer at the start of 2002. Sometimes I can hardly believe the life I've lived. It seems like there were two. I married my wonderful new husband 10 years ago and then there were three children as he came with one of his own. The youngest has just finished college and soon he'll be off into his own adventures. I've been off MS meds for years. I take numerous supplements. I have a new auto-immune disease, micoscopic lymphocytic colitis. But I will deal with that as I've dealt with MS. Nobody believes I'm as old as my license says I am. I have to prove that I'm eligible for my senior discount. Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with my family around me. The kids and grandkids splashed around in the pool for a while and then gathered around to help me blow out my candles. "Wait!" somebody said, "You didn't make a wish yet." I didn't have to. I have everything I could ever wish for.

gathered around

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spirit of Gardening

Figs forming
Cheyenne Spirit Coneflowers

Lace cap hydrangea tree in the shade garden
Japanese painted fern in the shade garden
Eye searing Hosta
Little bee alone and appears to be sleeping
Lady in Red Hydrangea looks very blue this year

When you look around, how does your garden make you feel? I don't mean the weeds popping up - or your tomatoes wilting with blight. I was rearranging some plants in the shade garden and realized there's very little color, other than the eye-searing green of the Hostas. My daughter and I came around the corner of the house and she hadn't seen the cool little spot, tucked away from the rest of the house. I want to put a chair there so I can sit and meditate but it's not a great place for a solitude with cars and walkers going by. It calls me to be quiet and alone. The bright, bold reds and oranges of the coneflowers are lined up in the herb garden and most visable from the pool and patio. They look like summer fun and excitement waiting to happen in the bright, blazing sun. My fig tree is setting tiny figs which will be ready when summer ends. I don't know if it's a myth that figs grow best when they're snuggled up against a home. My little tree was ready and producing its first crop when it was still in the garage where it lives during the winter. If it could speak, it would have certainly be asking to go outside.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Do You K-2?

 I do. I'm only on my second bottle of K-2 but I will take it every day until I hear that the claims being made about it are totally unfounded. Here's what I've read and heard about K-2. I am not a health professional and do not give out medical advice. I am sharing some information and strongly suggest that anyone interested in learning about this vitamin contact their naturopathic physician. Vitamin K-1 has been studied and understood for many years for its blood-clotting ability. Without it, we would be unable to control bleeding from wounds. However, people who take blood thinners are not able to ingest too much K-1 because it would counteract the benefit of their medication. Apparently, Warfarin also interacts adversely with K-2 as well as K-1 so it's very important to discuss all supplements (including herbs and teas) with a health professional before proceeding with self- medication. The interesting thing about K-2 is that without it, all the calcium and vitamin D3 in the world won't help prevent or treat osteopenia or osteoporosis. Before modern farming methods, we were able to get a nice dose of K-2 from grass-pastured animals, organ meats and cheese made from the milk of grass-fed animals, including chicken and eggs. Unless we make the effort and pay the extra cost, the animals the provide our meat, milk and eggs are all grain fed. I grew up on grass-pastured meat and we ate liver a couple of times a month. We were also dosed with cod liver oil all winter (and played outside all day in the summer). Those days are long past so now it's time to up my game. I buy grass-fed meat, butter and free range eggs. I just bought Gouda cheese, a fairly good source of K-2 and will buy brie next time, another good source. Vitamin D-3 helps pull calcium into the bloodstream but K-2 activates the mechanism that locks it into the bones and teeth (osteocalcin). K-2 may help support our nervours system so it's particularly important to those of us who have MS or diabetics who have nerve damage. It supposedly also helps keeps calcium out of our arteries (20% of arterial blockages are calcium) and keeps our skin more soft and supple. It's been said that you can look at wrinkly skinned people and predict how brittle their bones are -  that the correlation is that strong. Smoking and sun damage can't be excluded from the equation so I'm not sure about that one. There are two common types of K-2 - MK4 and MK7. MK-4 is from animal sources and MK-7 from vegetable. MK-7 is a longer chained chemical and is metabolized more slowly so only needs to be taken once a day. There's so much information about the need for vitamin K-2 in our diet and yet all we hear about is vitamin D. Add some vitamin A and we have the perfect trifecta for our bones, cardiovascular and nervous system. But check with your naturopath or functional medicine doctor first. Here are some links for further investigation:





Saturday, June 27, 2015

So Sweet, Too Smart!

It doesn't seem possible but my husband and I saw it with our own eyes. I opened the wire fence that surrounds my little garden and found Mrs. Bunny digging her little warren. She had removed the grass from a circular spot where she planned to make her little nest. She looked up at me and held her ground with no plans to move. Knowing that she'd be having her babies soon, I gave up and sat down in a comfortable chair to knit. She had won. I wouldn't be putting down straw mulch today. As we watched her hopping around, it started to gently rain. Our little wild bunny hopped over to the gate, which I had hooked lightly, jumped up and pushed it open. She then hopped out of the open gate and left for the day. My husband remarked that he had recently hooked the gate closed at night and found it open in the morning. He thought I had been leaving the gate open. We don't feed or encourage any wild animals to make their homes here, and we actually clap our hands and encourage them to move along. I think it's time for a stronger latch.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Everybody Needs to Feel Special

My husband and I were invited to attend "Special Persons Breakfast" at one of my grandsons' pre-schools this morning. I've been thinking about feeling "special" lately, having read a few essays by women complaining about the hoopla surrounding Mother's Day and the negative emotions that that "holiday" evoked in them. One was a mother, the rest were not. I compared that in my mind to the woman I used to work with who said she and her husband thought Valentine's Day was ridiculous and refused to engage in the "artificial" displays required by that "Hallmark holiday". I get it. I really do. I've told my husband of 10 years that he does not have to shell out $75 in roses on one day in February to prove undying love for me. He can bring me a bunch from the grocery store and I'll be just as happy. This past Mother's Day, our son graduated from college. That was his special day. I got some very sweet cards from my husband and son and phone calls from my grown children. Hubs and I will visit my favorite nursery when time permits and buy an extra lovely basket to hang on the patio. I'm not neglected. I buy clothes more than I really need. I went on a retreat this month with one of my best friends and came home with lovely yarn to knit. I had a great time, enjoyed spiritual refreshment and good food that I didn't have to cook or clean up. I guess that this all means is that I feel filled-up. I don't long for attention or flattery because I have people around me who love and support me. If I had an empty place inside, I'd need a special day to make up for the rest of the year. I will never criticize a women who needs a special day like Mother's Day. Everybody needs to feel special.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kind Yarn for a Sweet Bundle of Joy

I'm so sad to say I couldn't get to my great nephew's baby shower today. I've been down with a virus since before Easter. I made it through Easter Sunday and fell apart the next day with another sore throat, swollen glands and stuffy head. I've rested and guzzled lots of tea and vitamin C but still felt runny and stuffy today. I couldn't expose the rest of the family (or tire myself out) so I stayed home. I'll pack up my gifts for the wee one and mail them to my niece and nephew next week. In the meantime, let me tell you about O-Wool "Balance" the yarn I used to make a little sweater and hat.

I used a free pattern from Ravelry called "Little Coffee Bean" for the sweater and Susan B. Anderson's basic baby hat from her Itty Bitty Hats book. I used almost 3 skeins of O-Wool "Balance" in the Jade colorway.
O-Wool "Balance" is 50% organic wool and 50% organic cotton put up in 130 yard, 50 gram worsted weight skeins. "Balance" is also available in a chunky weight. The information card that was included in my shipment states the following:  O-Wool is sourced from organic merino sheep farms in South America where they are freely ranged and non-mulesed.  The organic cotton in the blend is grown in Texas.  If you want to know what non-mulesed means, please Google it. Now that I know about this common practice for sheep farming in Australia (which is where most of our Merino wool comes from) I will carefully consider who I purchase my knitting yarn from in the future.
O-Wool yarn is spun either in Massachusetts, Wisconsin or Maine and skeined and dyed in Maine or Philadelphia. It's processed with biodegradable soaps and combed to remove veg matter, rather than carbonized with an acid bath. It's dyed using low-impact acid dyes recommended by the Organic Trade Association. These dyes contain no heavy metals and use a minimum amount of water to ensure minimal environmental impact.
If you'd like to know more about O-Wool, please listen to the "Woolful" podcast, episode #13. The more I've learned about ethical wool, the more careful I'll be in the future about my yarn purchases. If you'd like to learn more about ethical wool farming, here's a link with the names of some supplies and farmers that you  may find interesting. https://exchangingfire.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/what-about-the-sheep-a-guide-to-ethical-yarns/  I'll get off my soap box now and go lay down.