Friday, June 11, 2010

On a Sad Note...Alzheimer's

I know that blogs are supposed to be upbeat mostly but sometimes there are just things that need to be said.

Alzheimer's Disease is a terrible thing. I have watched two of my most beloved family members suffer through the progression of this horrible illness now and it is just so unfair.

My Grandmother, Paulina, for which my "Poladora" Etsy Boutique is named, as well as this blog, suffered from it and is long passed now - but she's with me in spirit all of the time. She's one of my guardian angels.

Currently, my favorite Aunt Yvonne (my Grandmother's daughter), is suffering from it. Sometimes she knows me and sometimes she doesn't. But I don't care about that as much as I care that she's happy and well cared for. Well, she's both.

My Uncle Otis is a God-send. He's wonderful. I couldn't wish for Yvonne to have anyone more loving by her side at this most difficult time than him. And, I love him for it. But, I also grieve for his own personal pain.

Unfortunately, my aunt just failed a memory test that would have gotten her into a drug trial that offered hope. She only missed by a few points! But, she was having a bad day. And that's how it goes with Alzheimer's - you have good days, and you have bad days. It's only the luck of the draw that helps or hurts on the day the test is scheduled. How unfair!

Well, due to some lingering effects from anesthesia from minor surgery, my Aunt Yvonne may have an opportunity to retake the test in early July. In the meantime, and since you cannot influence the test results in any way, I am planning to simply talk to her more. I'll just keep normal, casual conversation going with her to keep her memory stimulated. If you can think of anything else I can do specifically while talking with her, (within the rules), I'd love to hear it.

Thanks for listening...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh No!, Not the Chickens!...

...Yes, Susan, I have to talk about chickens. I can't help myself!

You see, I am actually a poultry health expert. And, I just thought it might be interesting for you to find out how I got involved in this very strange subject.

First, let me give you some background. I'm 56 (see - really not that old!), have five grown children, three sons-in-law, and six beautiful grandchildren (and still counting). I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and until a year ago, served as Chairman and CEO of an international specialty chemical company.

About sixteen years ago, I was reunited with my childhood sweetheart. This was a dream come true - well, almost. Only one problem. My "sweetie" was living in the woods of Wisconsin and had vowed never to return to Illinois. Of course I was living in - you guessed it - Illinois. To cut to the chase - love prevailed and Mike agreed to move back to Illinois so we could marry. One catch - I had to move to the country. So we bought a little farm (now for sale so we can get back to Wisconsin), with all of the trappings of country living - you know, barn, silos, and coops. (If you're hearing the theme song from "Green Acres", you get it.

One day, Mike decided there was still too much country girl in me. (Not fair - I do love Farm and Fleet!) Since he raised "banties" years ago (these are tiny chickens - very cute), and had all the "stuff", he thought it would be a great idea for me to experience hatching my own little bantie eggs in a table top incubator (yes, in the house). Now he's thinking that two to three little banties running around the back yard and providing us fresh eggs for breakfast would be cute. Well, as usual with everything else I do, I jumped in with both feet and went CHICKEN CRAZY!

Long story short  (I know, too late), I soon discovered that chickens get sick, need to be vaccinated and treated, and, they do die. Two problems - one is that most people I know who have chickens love them as much as their dogs and cats. The other is that there's no such thing as a "Chicken Vet". Well, there's Poultry Research Veterinarians, etc., but that's another story.

I lost a few birds and was heart sick. Tears abounded. I tried everywhere with no luck. Then I became friends with one of those PR Vets, and he pointed me in all of the right directions. Soon, I had every veterinary text book that could be had for poultry health and research, and combined that learning with standard texts on traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats (it also helped that I had a horse and vetted her too). Soon, the Vet friends I had were beginning to call me when they had a client with a sick chicken, turkey, duck, whatever - if it was "poultry" - I got the call.

Eventually, I had a following as "KJ Theodore" of Shagbark Bantams. I had a five year waiting list for my bloodline of Belgian d'Uccles, Call Ducks, and the Malaysian Serama (world's smallest chicken), and I wrote monthly poultry health articles for the Poultry Press - the "Fancier" newspaper. (A "fancier" is someone who raises fancy poultry for showing - yes showing - just like dog shows!)

Well, all that ended when I became Chairman and CEO of my company (it's that pesky little "full-time and loyalty" clause). I gave most of it up. I didn't even look at my Shagbark site for about 6 years (and it still gets 4,500 hits a month from all over the world, and, I still get daily poultry health email questions from all over the world as well). Well, I'm back!

Even though I'm pouring myself into my new boutique on Etsy, Poladora, I am going to go back to writing occasional new articles for the Poultry Press and for my Shagbark site. My son is going to help me give Shagbark a new look and provide even more resources for poultry enthusiasts all over the world, and we'll keep the "backbone" strong so the site rarely, if ever, goes down. This is my contribution to the Fancy. I will forever be grateful to my followers for their support and the motivation I needed to learn so much about such a wonderful little creature. And here I thought all chickens were the same...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Embellishment... the spice of life...

Even something as simple as an English paper pieced hexagon cluster can be embellished with hand stitching and glass beads. It gives your work a more three-dimensional look than even quilting does. I took this cluster of hexagons and hand-quilted them to a piece of Warm and Natural batting. Then, I hand-stitched the quilted cluster to a base of (double) terry cloth to create a hot pad for a kitchen counter. (I used my new Simplicity bias tape maker for the polka-dot edge - yipee!)

This is a close up of some of the hand detail. The hot pad will be going to the daughter who taught me English Paper Piecing (after all, these are her colors and her fabric!)...

Things that sit around my house are often embellished in one form or another... look out Teddy!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What a Nightmare!...

...I had last night. It was horrible! But I don't concern myself with these events. And I thought sharing this with you may be helpful to some.

Yes, I have nightmares. But I am a happy and enthusiastic person during the day - ready, willing, and able to take on my new project - Poladora. Why? Because I have a deep understanding of why we dream. At least, an understanding of why I do.

You see, I had a very traumatic event occur in my life a little over a year ago.  People are familiar with my health issues (such as my ruptured disc), but I'm not talking about that. I'm referring to an event that tested every emotion a person can have.

I'm tough. I grew up not under the best of circumstances, which can be read about on my other blog Glass Ceiling. As a result, there isn't much I can't handle. But this was a little different than past experiences because it went to the very core of trust, betrayal, and friendship. All huge issues in the human psyche.

As usual, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and looked for the next chapter in my life, and embraced it. However, my brain was still filled with the emotions of the event. So, it lets off steam through my dreams. Well, I'd call them nightmares or night terrors, but I understand why I have them so I consider them all part of the dreaming process.

I have about 32 years of experiences, skill sets, and memories that are not always useful to me in my current life. And probably won't be needed for the future. What am I to do with all of this "garbage"? Well, if I don't deal with it during the day because I'm pleasantly occupied with something that makes me happy and fulfilled, then my brain is going to deal with it in my sleep. And it does.

I'm not saying that I am glad that I have bad dreams. But I am glad that my life is on a positive track, I'm strong as ever emotionally, and healing nicely physically. If dreaming gets rid of the garbage of the past, so be it. Talking is good too, and I have a very understanding husband and a few good friends for that. They are a blessing.

So the next time you have a bad dream, think of it as your brain's way of dumping the garbage so you can clear your head for better things. Don't ignore the dream - just take a quick peek at it's core meaning. Is it betrayal issues? Is it that you're lost? Are you out of control in the dream? These and other issues are worth looking at, if only briefly, just to take your mental temperature of what's going on. I usually look at  it as an opportunity to say, "oh ya, that's still an issue - it probably will be for a little while yet", and then move on.

A dear friend once told me "there's life after (blank)". She was so right!