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I'm never bored. If I'm not knitting or spinning, I'm gardening or reading. Always up to something!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Minding my own Mitochondria?

I just finished watching Dr. Terry Wahl's video regarding her magnificent healing from her secondary progressive MS. There are other websites that recommend the same protocol - the Paleo diet - and others have experienced similar results to Dr. Wahl's. Some questions I've been pondering about my own health have now been answered. I've made significant lifestyle changes in the two decades +  since I was diagnosed and apparently have been co-incidentally reaping the benefits.

I quit (was healed of) smoking.
I started eating many more vegetables (especially broccoli, cabbage and kale) than the averageAmerican.
I started taking fish oil supplements ( try to eat fish but I don't eat enough of it).
I started taking co-enzyme Q10.
I use almost exclusively olive oil and some butter (for baking).
I've mostly dropped dairy - I use almond milk.
My naturopath has recommended deleting as much wheat as possible from my diet (it's difficult but it's greatly decreased and will be phased out after watching Dr. Wahl's video.
I'm a regular exerciser - usually vigorously 3 times a week and have been since before I was dx'd.
I eat a little cereal on my wild blueberries every morning for breakfast.

Have I been minding my own mitochondria without realizing it?  I look younger than my chronological age and feel pretty good most of the time.  I can't explain why my symptoms are lessening through the years and my neurologist can't explain it either.  When I asked my neurologist why this could possibly be happening, his response was that I perhaps had a benign form of MS.  That was a ridiculous comment based on the first 15 years of my experience with this disease.  Dr. Wahl's video provides encouraging information and I can only hope it goes viral for all our sakes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent

We anxiously await the "Morning Star", the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Treasures & Simple Pleasures

A table set for the ghost of Christmas Present.  His robe and ivy crown draped over a chair to the left. A horn for a wine toast, a table overflowing with Christmas puddings, fruits and nuts. A merry-maker on the right enjoying the house tour. If I'd had any idea that I'd be blogging this Dickensian scene I would have waited for her to move on.


White feather tree on a vanity table in the master bedroom.


German paper ornaments, white lights and white candles in the sunroom.  Sweet and tranquil.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Simple Pleasures - Osborne Homestead Museum

Not my kitchen but a simple scene created by a garden club in the Naugatuck Valley a few years ago.  This kitchen is in a farmhouse in Osborndale State Park.  The home was donated by Frances Osborn on her death and has been maintained in its original state.  Twilight tours are Fridays through December 16 from 4 to 6:30.  There is a minimal donation for the tour and it's one of my favorite holiday treats.  I made up the dough for gingerbread last evening - gingerbread boys in their embryonic state waiting until I have the time to bake them off.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Something Sweet


So it begins.  It wouldn't be Christmas in our house without these.  I made 6 dozen Swedish Spritz for a bake sale at church, 2 dozen for us. 4 dozen Peanut Butter Blossoms.  The goal is to have enough for us, enough to share and enough for dessert on Christmas Eve with Eggnog and Candy Cane ice cream.

More Sweetness...

                               

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What are the MS Researchers Missing? Vitamin D and MS

I received my copy of MS Connection in the mail yesterday, a publication of the Connecticut chapter of the MS Society.  There were a couple of very interesting articles in this issue.  One described a massive international genetics study with a major breakthrough.  Scientists have now successfully confirmed 23 previously known genetic links and identified 29 new ones and strongly suspect 5 others. They confirmed that a number of autoimmune diseases share many similar genetic variants. And 2 genes linked to vitamin D were also implicated with research increasingly pointing to low vitamin D levels in patients as a risk factor for developing MS.
It probably cost a fortune for these scientists to figure out what many of us already knew. I can't count the number of people with MS that I have met who have close family members who also suffer from various autoimmune diseases.  My own father passed away due to complications from Crohn's disease.  Has my neurologist ever asked me about my family history? Has yours? Has your doctor ordered a test for your vitamin D levels?  Mine never did.
The second article really left me shaking my head.  "Study: Bone Health a Concern In Early MS".  Doctors at Oslo University Hospital have reported their findings to Neurology magazine.  So newly diagnosed patients with MS are showing low bone mass compared to a control group without MS.  What?  Most of us get diagnosed in early adult-hood. Might this suggest a Vitamin D deficiency, probably since birth?  Mine had not been checked until I visited a naturopath six years ago.  My D3 was a 6....off the charts low.  I take supplements, sun, calcium, exercise and eat a healthy diet and I'm still low normal.  And surprise -  I've just been diagnosed with osteopinea, a forerunner to osteoporosis. I'm not a scientist but my guess is that MS is genetically linked to other autoimmune diseases, including Crohn's, and that vitamin D (described by some as a hormone) has the ability to prevent the onset in at least some of us.  With this limited knowledge, would it be wise for all of our family members to have their vitamin D levels checked once a year, including the kids?   

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Joy in our Lives

Our new little grandson was born this morning.  It seems like yesterday that I was bringing his daddy home from the hospital.  Of course it was almost 28 years ago to the day.  Blink.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Any Moment...change again


Change is change. Some good, some not so good. Some change is momentous. Some goes barely noticed. Autumn in Connecticut this year was going by barely noticed until a very big storm suddenly got our attention. There's a nicer way than shutting off the lights!
Change. My step-son started college in August. So far, so good. He seems happy, he's close enough to come home when he wants to. He's gaining the independence he's longed for. It's still out as far as his studies go. We're hoping he's doing well. We're semi-empty nesters and we've settled into our new status very nicely. I'm cooking too much but I have a freezer so nothing goes to waste. We're free to go to mid-week concerts or even farther if the mood strikes. Nice.
Change. We both got medical reports that weren't so great. We both have osteaopinea. My thyroid's a little wonky, my triglycerides a bit high, so is his sugar. Change. Not so good. We're getting older. 
Change. We became Gramma and Papa almost 2 years ago and we love it. But he's changing so quickly we can barely keep up. He crawled, he walked and now he runs like a little elf, practically clicking his heels together as he hops around. He talks in complete sentences and remembers what we played with the last time he visited. He's changing way too quickly but we can't slow him down, nor would we really want to.
Change will come soon for even him when his sibling arrives in March. Wondrous, miraculous change.
Our world will change again any moment now. My youngest child is about to become a father. That's when you really know time's flying. When your youngest birthling marries and reproduces, that's big. I'm holding my breath in anticipation of the birth of this baby. He's going through the greatest change a human can experience and survive....his entrance into our world. And I can't wait.   

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Sale at the Church







You don't have to go far in this little town to find someone re-enacting someone.  Ben Franklin finished his graveyard tour and stopped by to purchase a pumpkin.  We must have had the best price around - "A penny saved is a penny earned...".

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Snips and Snails

Life is so good right now...waiting impatiently for my second baby grandson to arrive.  I know his mother is uncomfortable and can't wait to welcome our newest addition.  The shower is over, the nursery ready.  The baby will come when he's ready.  In the meantime his cousin is keeping us constantly charmed.  He won't be 2 until January but he's already full of questions and answers.  Our love for this little one and the two that are on the way fills our hearts to bursting...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Support



A few years after I was diagnosed, I attended a support group for people with MS and our significant others.  It had been established by two men in their forties and their wives and was scheduled to meet monthly in the recreation room of a local church.

At this time, I nobly (and mistakenly) believed that although I was doing fairly well, I could be of some support to others who were not. Of course, this was ridiculous.  I needed support at least as well as anyone else.  However, I found out rather quickly, that this was not the group for me.  The broad spectrum of displayed symptoms and petty bickering over who was going to buy a missing member a get-well card, eventually sent me heading for the hills.  The following are my personal recommendations when it comes to seeking support in living with the ups and downs of MS.

If you would like to try a support group, find one that has a qualified, professional leader with experience facilitating groups of individuals with serious illness or disability.

Find a group that specifically focuses on newly diagnosed patients if you are newly diagnosed.  If you're numb and tingly, the sight of men and women with advanced cases of MS will scare you half to death. And...

    when you complain about feeling fatigued, others with more serious disabilities may roll their eyes and rev the engines on their scooters.

Attend free seminars/dinners put on by the pharma's.  You may end up in a conversation with someone with whom you can identify, with similar symptoms, situations and experiences.  Consider meeting in a public environment for coffee and informal casual support.  You may be able to share information comfortably, without feeling like you're constantly unloading on your family and friends.  You may even develop a meaningful friendship.  If your new acquaintance turns out to be an emotional vampire, change your cell phone number.

If you attend religious services, try to continue even when you're not feeling your best.  However, don't allow any well-meaning person try to make you feel guilty because you're dealing with a disease.  You did not bring this on yourself because of a "lack of faithfulness" nor is God "testing" you.

If you don't participate in any religion, it's not a bad idea to explore spirituality at this time.  Remember the mind/body connection.  It's there.  And when we're feeling our weakest and most down-trodden may be when we receive our clearest revelations and greatest gifts.

Last, and most important - if a friend offers help, try not to refuse.  Don't be too proud and independent to ask for and take assistance.  You may be able to give back simply by allowing another individual to feel helpful.

Where do you receive your greatest source of support?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

But you look so good...

So, I was diagnosed in 1986.  I had a 2 year old baby and a nine year old child.  I felt awful.  I had suffered with a sinus infection that came out of nowhere, followed up by a strep throat 2 months later.  The MS had been relapsing and remitting for a couple of years but returned with a vengeance in August of 1988. 
We were invited to attend my husband's brother's out of state wedding  to be held in October.  I could barely hobble.  I was numb in one leg up to my hip and the other up to my armpit.  Cute pumps to go with the dress I had searched the mall for were not in the picture.   I could barely pick my feet up and walked stiff-legged like Frankenstein's monster.  I dragged myself to the local library and checked out a book called The MS Diet.
Now, I had just finished losing 30 pounds on Weight Watchers and was pretty much on a low fat diet anyway.  So I decided that taking cod liver oil sounded like an idea worth trying.  I also read some basic information about the neurological system and added Inositol to my daily regimen.  I couldn't even pronounce it properly.  I read that Inositol was required for the repair and restoration of myelin.  I was self-treating.
My neurologist never recommended any vitamins or supplements, nor had he even mentioned physical therapy.  But I got on my exercise bike when I didn't feel too sick and popped a few supplements.  It was all I had.  That and a little plaque with a bible verse from Philippians that my daughter had carefully crafted with glued-on alphabet macaroni...."I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".  I kept taking my vitamins and looking at that little plaque which I placed on the shelf above the kitchen sink.
And guess what? A couple of months later  I wore patent leather pumps with my new dress to the wedding in October and I walked like a queen. I looked just fine so there was absolutely no appreciation of the trouble I went to just to be able to attend that event.  My sister-in-law (now deceased) told me I didn't get a corsage since I wasn't an immediate family member (as she pinned one on my daughter and a boutonniere on my son and on my late husband).  I was left out of a family group photo while I was taking my 5 year old to the ladies room.  When that picture came in the mail,  I threw it away. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Italian Chocolate Truffles


I really like this recipe for truffles as it doesn't include eggs as some other truffle recipes do.  I made them for my daughter-in-law's baby shower. They kept in the fridge in an air-tight container for over a week and the recipe was requested several times, so here it is:
                                                          Italian Chocolate Truffles

              6 oz. dark chocolate                                        3 Tbsp. sweet butter
              1/2 cup ground almonds                                  1/2 cup confectioners sugar    
              2 Tbsp. orange flavored liqueur                       1 3/4 oz. grated chocolate

Melt the dark chocolate with the liqueur in a double boiler, stirring until well-combined.
Add the butter and stir until melted.  Stir in the confectioner's sugar and ground almonds
Leave the mixture to cool until firm enough to roll into 24 balls.
Roll in grated chocolate to coat.
Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  You may substitute Amaretto for the orange liqueur.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Construction Themed Baby Shower

My daughter and I hosted a baby shower for my daughter-in-law on Saturday.  We started with a construction theme based on the decor of the nursery and ran with it.  My son is an equipment operator so it was also with him in mind.  I arranged buckets with mostly yellow roses and white, green and tan mums.  Large bows of yellow caution tape we tucked in on picks.  Little backhoes dug mounds of chocolate rocks.  There was even a dump truck with pale blue and yellow rock candy.  The mommy-to-be was radiant and received many nice gifts.  A beautiful day for a beautiful girl.







I Promise...you will grow up to be beautiful!

And so will you...


Eat your vegetables and be patient...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Disease was Gone! Not.

After I was diagnosed with MS, my initial response was denial along with depression. I went to three different neurologists hoping they'd tell me the first guy was a quack. I was actually hoping it was Lyme's disease. Of course, I now know that Lyme's is no picnic either. However, at the time, I believed I could deal with a malady that could be treated with antibiotic. I quit was healed of my cigarette addiction. I cringe when I talk about it, but there it is. At the time, I thought it was wonderful but sort of lame on God's part. I was praying for a cure to my big problem and that was the best He could do? About six months after the symptoms of MS began, they went away. The fog lifted, my energy renewed, I felt exhilarated. It was gone!  Not.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Living Large - Gardening Small


I grew as much as I could handle this year.  We enjoyed several meals of green beans and froze some.  We had a couple of meals of broccoli but probably could have planted fewer plants and still had the same number of meals - they were planted a little too close together.  I had twice as many tomato plants as I needed as a result of a kind gift from my sister-in-law who had more than she needed.  I think the crowding there also reduced the production of the original plants I put in.  I enjoyed the beets tremendously but they were strictly for me. I wanted to put zucchini in but it's wandering habit would have choked everything else out and I would have had nothing but squash to show for my labor (as minimal as it was).  Then along came Renee's Garden seeds with a container variety of zucchini.  It appears they pretty much stay in the pot and stay small (just the way I like to cook with them!) I got so excited, I've already ordered seeds for next year!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I am not my disease




I am not ms.  I have been ms but I am not now, nor have I been ms in a long time.  When I was first diagnosed I instantly morphed  from being a woman, wife and mother to woman, wife and mother with MS.  I didn't like it.  I felt ashamed of having a disease as if it was something dirty, something that marked me as less than a whole person. I dreaded telling people, especially people in my church.  I felt cursed and abandoned by God. I felt that I had slipped lower on His list for some reason, as if God keeps a good and bad list like Santa Claus.
I felt very sorry for me.  I was dizzy every time I stood up.  Pains in my face came in waves that made my eyes tear.  My eyes crossed on their own any time they felt like it.  My arms were too weak to hold a hairdryer to fix my hair in the morning.  I was so exhausted I felt like I wore a lead suit all day.  Then I went to bed, woke up the next morning and felt just as bad.  Well-meaning folks sent me literature from the MS society that included information about wheelchairs, braces and techniques for sexual relations when normal relations were not possible.  I had a 9 year old and a 2 year old baby and didn't know if I was going to be able to take care of them.  I had visions of wearing diapers myself.  There were no medications available - not much hope the neurologist could offer.  I was 33 years old looking down a long, hopeless road of illness.  It sucked to be me in 1986.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Harvest Time!

What fun would harvest time be without a little beet-blood letting? 
They do look kind of nasty but they taste so good (steam the beets first, then add the chopped up greens).  Add a little butter and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Yummy - I try to spread the word even if it falls on deaf ears!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Baby Sweater Finished (and before the baby!)

Our second baby grandson is due in November and I actually finished the sweater before the baby arrived!  It's an Erika Knight design and I made it in Rowan Milk Cotton in the color "Water Bomb".  Most of it's knit on #1 size needles so I think it has as many stitches as most adult hand knits.  I found the cute teddy bear buttons at Jo-Ann Fabric. I'm still a beginner so I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.
The next grandbaby isn't due until March.  I might have time to make something for myself!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hummingbird

Our hummingbird made his appearance today.  It was rainy most of the day.  We were having a glass of wine (husband  prefers a light beer) and watching the rain, wearing sweaters and talking about how quickly the weather had changed from heat and humidity to a chilling, rainy afternoon. The hummer appeared at the feeder and we both froze, glasses in hand. He drank his fill from the plastic feeder of sugar water and lit on top of the shepherd's crook. After a while he flew down and took another sip. Then back to the crook to sit and watch us for a while. He sat for a very long time, looking around, craning his neck, sizing the place up. It's too close to migration season to be just hanging around, checking out the scenery. I bet if we keep a close eye on the feeder, he'll be back with wife and kids in tow. There are plenty of red and pink flowers left for him to enjoy - the impatience are healthy, the mandevilla a tempting red delight. We're going to take a ride tomorrow to get a bushel of some of the best peaches in Connecticut. I'm making a note to myself to make more sugar syrup for the feeder so it will cool off in time.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Frustrated Spring Gardeners - Now's your Time!

This innovative gardening style - I occasionally come up with a good idea - is perfect for someone like me with limited energy and heat sensitivity.  I call it "Patch Gardening" and you can start right now!  Clear away the old, dead, wilted and mildew-covered cuke and zucchini vines and get going! Reach back for all the excitement and sense of wonder you felt in March and get down to your local garden center.  Grab yourselves a couple of bags of composted manure (preferably organic - although I don't know how they can really call old horse dung organic) and throw it right down where you just pulled all that dead plant material.  Don't compost really bug-riddled mildew-covered vines - send them on down to wherever your town crew takes them.

Spread the compost around - don't get fancy but one large bag will make a nice patch about 3 x 4 feet.  I planted some seedlings I started under lights to see if I could grow some brussel sprouts and kohlrabi but you don't need to go to that extreme.  Simply open your packet of greens seeds - lettuce, mixed fancy greens, spinach, rainbow chard, whatever.  Fling them around or make a nice row - it doesn't matter much - and cover them with about 1/4 " of compost and water lightly.  Keep this all nice and moist by watering a bit every day and you'll soon have seedlings jumping right up out of your little fall garden patch.  Here in Connecticut, since the hurricane passed, we've been having temps in the 80's during the day and down to the high 50's at night to about 60.  I planted my greens in the shade of my fence and they popped up in only a few days.  They're going to get a little sprinkle of bone meal and eventually some fish emulsion... but not much - they're only tiny at the moment and don't need much from me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

End of Summer Blues

You can feel it in the air, even though it's still stinky hot in the afternoon.  You can see it in the light.  The plants know it. They're still pushing out blooms but you can tell it takes some effort.  The tomato plants are all thrilled to be giving it all they've got and more. They even taste like it's now or never.  Brilliant, tomato ecstasy, so acidy and sweetly in the moment.  It's almost like they know they've only got today. One cold night and they'll be flat on the ground, dead. So will the impatience plants who finally look like they're enjoying the season. Summer only just arrived. How can it be on it's way out?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Keen to be Green

Finally, the first of the broccoli - and we ate it all with our dinner.  And, here's the big miracle, we ALL ate it. Some of us took a smaller portion than others, but the organic broccoli from our own garden was enjoyed by all of us.  I pretty much cleaned off the beans, picked a lot of tomatoes (mostly small yellow pear tomatoes) and worked my way around the blackberry bush.  With the rain, a lot of the berries that were perfect a couple of days ago are completely covered with mildew.  I tried to remove the ones that were bad so they wouldn't contaminate the good ones that haven't ripened completely yet. If there's a trick to blackberry picking, I'd like to hear it.  It seems that as soon as they're ripe and really taste like a sweet berry, they're almost too ripe and won't keep more than a day. Maybe I should pick them sooner and just cook them down with sugar. The berries on the canes are actually starting to smell like wine!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gardening Take 2

I wish I could remember what I put in these peat trays. I know I planted some brussel sprouts and kohlrabi. I believe I put in the miniature lettuce seeds that were kind of old because they were slow to come up. Then I planted another pot of basil and some newer lettuce seeds which all came up. Now, they're still under lights until I bring them outside to spray them lightly with the hose and let them hang out in some bright shade for a while. Today was a little less humid and a lot less hot so I started weeding the back of the garden bed to make room for all of these guys. I don't know what kind of luck I'll have but I'm going to give it a try.

The bees are really enjoying what's left of the hydrangea. I'm starting to trim some of the flowers back as they start to look fried.
Now, really, if you were a hummingbird, wouldn't you love to hang out here? Apparently after weeks of growing red vining things next to red hanging things (I even threw in my grandson's little chair) the hummers are starting to visit the feeder. The sugar water is starting to disappear and a tiny bird swooped in for a visit and swooped out just as fast when he noticed me sitting on the patio with the dog. I will catch sight of him but I really doubt I'll be able to get a picture with my point-and-shoot Nikon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Kids are Doing Amazing things this Summer!

My step-son's acting debut playing the part of "Cameron"


...and my daughter's radio debut on a public radio talk show talking about a website she's involved with:

http://cptv.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ypmwebcontent/Commodore%20Skahill/Colin%20McEnroe%20Show%2008-01-2011.mp3

It's okay to live somewhat vicariously through your kids, right?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Around the Back Yard

Hanging Geranium

Young & In Love


St. Francis
                                                                        

Coleus & Fan Flower