Monday, March 31, 2014

Let the Fun Begin!

Have my schedule:

22 vials of blood drawn.


Ammonia x 3 makes for an awful headache!


Waiting for step 2:

But the CAT scan for contrasts broke.

Day 1 not going well so far.  Send prayers please!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cold, Cold Rain

Flying in, we found we were arriving in a very cold rain:

I was surely glad the pilot was able to see the runway - even if it was 10 seconds before touchdown...

It is a day later and:

Yup!  Rain!

But we had a great breakfast made by friends:

Who even provided live music!

Wonderful way to start a day!

As an extra bonus (and good luck charm) I met a 'Scrapal' friend today.  Steve and I drove to Waldorf, Maryland (!) and ate lunch with Cheryl Baez.  We had a wonderful visit!  Thank you, so much, Cheryl, for meeting up with us.  What a terrific treat!

Today has been a great start to our trip - may it all go so well.

How about this?  I am blogging from my phone!  Is it working?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Adventure Begins!

I am off on this new adventure; seeing where my life goes from here, the plans other people will make for me, meeting the team that has become my friends for life - literally.

How do I feel?  Apprehensive.  I am afraid of what more I will find out and my life expectancy.  I am afraid they won't be able to help my reactions to antibiotics - which with no immune system, I obviously need to live.  I am afraid there are so few of us to try to help that there is no reason to bother.  I am afraid I will never be able to go overseas again.  

So many fears, so many questions.

Answers may be coming... Am I prepared?

I have Steve with me... It'll be ok.

SWEET calls from family and friends... From all over the world.  

Thank you all.

I love you!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Underground Railroad Quilt Sampler - Finished!

Several years ago, my partner in crime, Sharon, told me this story about a quilt called The Underground Railroad Sampler.  She shared a bit of the history that came with it and said that she would love to make the Underground Railroad and give the quilt to someone special she had in mind.  

Sharon and I were 'new' friends, and I was a 'new' quilter, but I offered to share that adventure with her.  We bought the book spend hours shopping for our fabrics, put a brazillion miles on our vehicles for 'just the perfect piece':

 We laid it out over and over again auditioning and regrouping:

Finally, when we felt brave enough, we pasted our final selections into the book, assured that it would all come together with ease:

And we would finally have a quilt that we could proudly display that somewhat looked like this:

And we started our adventure.  Nearly every week we would get together and work through a block.  Some weeks it was a breeze.  Other weeks, we found that even though Eleanor Burns is a terrific quilter, she sometimes doesn't document her measurements correctly - or her publisher doesn't transfer them correctly.

On those weeks, we would try and try again to make the block work.  Once we were convinced it was not Sharon (or more often me) making the mistakes, we would race to the Public Library and ask my beloved (and famous quilting) friend, Claudia Plett, to help us figure out what we had done wrong.  Claudia would get out her trusty little pencil and whittle away on the numbers and hand us the CORRECTED version of what Eleanor Burns had given in her book and we would start our trusty little block again. And with Claudia's help we were actually able to finish it!

Nearly two years later.

So with no further ado, I will let you decide how my quilt came out:

Started in August 2012 and finally finished March 25, 2014

I am super proud of this one!  It was my first ever quilt that I actually had a pattern to follow, one to correct, and a quilt that I actually accomplished making!  Oh sure, I have done my Batik quilt, but friends had made treasured blocks for me; so while it was mine, it was not all my work.

I have also made rag quilts, and finally finihsed the faux quilt, and some lap quilts - but this is one that is... well, it is special.  I love it for all the hard work that went into it, for all the wonderful hours I have spent with a very dear friend, all the tears and laughter we shared getting through it and I love the colors I chose.

Thank you to these people for helping me make this quilt:

Hillside Stitches 
4407 E 480 Rd
Pryor, OK  74361

You did an amazing job quilting my precious quilt!  I have never been disappointed in their work and dedication to our art.

Claudia Plett for helping us through the author's mistakes and for hand-stitching the binding for me since my hands don't work so well.  I have only one question for you - how in the world do you make those itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie perfect stitches?  You did an amazing job and I can only aspire to be as good as you are!  I can't wait for you to join our Wednesday group so you can share some of your wisdom!

Sharon for taking me on this amazing adventure; for sharing the laughter, the frustrations, the tears, the curses, the miles, the celebrations - and finally the success!  We will remember the adventure for a lifetime - don't you think?

I must say this;  Last I heard, Sharon had decided so much blood, sweat and tears have gone into her quilt that she just might need to keep this for herself!  Personally, I think she has the knack now - she needs to make the another one for her friend!

And finally, thanks to Eleanor Burns and Sue Bouchard who inspired Sharon to start the Underground Railroad Sampler!

And we forgive you for the mistakes - it added to our adventure!   ;-) 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rockin' Around...

Steve got 14 pallets of  native rocks from where he was working.  They were removing them from the front walls of the building and remodeling.  He asked what they would be doing with them and it so happened they were taking them to the dump!

Enter Steve, who offered to take them all to our place!  FREE native rock for the taking - and of course chipping cement off of them.  Steve, spent hours chipping the cement and then we started making our flower bed:

I have never done anything of this magnitude, so as I said a day or so ago, we took a hose, layed it out in a pretty fashion and we started laying rocks beside it:

Not sure about the final flower bed, but we are sure trying to add character to the place:

Now to just remove the patio blocks, then move those stinkin' pots, till it up, add dirt, flowers, mulch...

It is going to be soooo worth it!  This is the north side, so it is shady most all the time.  The west side gets morning to noon-ish sun.  Research, research... and work, work, work! 

Trying to stay busy for the upcoming Bethesda adventure - and it seems to be working!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Little, Two Little...

Two little chickens gone...  :-(

Remember these chickie doos?

I went out to tuck my chickies in, and counted to six.  Two were gone.  So I went out to the yard to see if they had gotten locked out of our automatic door and found one dead - and it had been dead a good while.  I never did find the other, but I know *when* my chicken disappeared because I do a head count morning and night - and often a couple of times a day. 

We were gone all day Sunday.  We have had stray dogs (dumps) running around and a few weeks ago, Frankie, my Roo chased one off.  I guess this time, they critters got one and left the other - probably because Frankie was not being nice to them.  On his best days, he isn't a nice guy:

Anyhoo, that is how chicken math works... you gain a few, name a few, loose a few.

Sad for this chicken mom, but I have learned that is part of farm life.  We were amazed we got those eight babies to this stage without losing any.

And I cannot be here all of the time.

It was probably two hens they got - just my luck.

But I will never know.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Making a Flower Bed... Can We Do It?

We are finally getting around to making our place 'ours' by making flower gardens.  Today I will start showing your our progress.  This is what we started with - nothing!  Those ugly planters were in front of the house when we moved here. I put chrysanthemums in them, but they are still butt ugly.  I left them just because... I was too lazy to move them:

My chickens wreak havoc in my flower beds.  This used to be all nice and pretty, complete with gorgeous hostas, but between the chickens and the winter, it sure leaves a lot to be desired now:

So we set about trying to figure out a design for a garden with a water hose:

As you can tell, we might not be gardeners...

But we are gonna give it our best shot.  

Tomorrow we will see if we made progress!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Proud Moma

Every single night, I 'tuck' my chickens in.  I count heads, make sure everyone is inside, roosting and safe.  I have never, ever missed a night.  It is part of what a chicken moma does.

I went to tuck my chickens in last night and found all eight of my 6-week-old chicks had figured out how to roost all by themselves.  

It is the little things that make me smile:   :-)

Meet my chicks:  left to Right:  Sara and Hazel.  I haven't named the little peeps yet - I still don't know which are boys and girls.  The yellow one is a guy - I am almost certain.  And psst!  Just so you know, he doesn't look like the others - he is YELLOW.  Something is amiss in the chicken pile.

I wish you could see Sara's fluffy cheeks.  I will have to get a picture of them soon...

My big chickens were roosting happily under the 'family portrait' wall: 

From left to right:  Ella (she is my 'special' chicken - she isn't the brightest crayon in the box), Clara (she is the eight little peeps moma), Aunt Bea, Frankie, Cole and Gloria.

Yes, I love my coop and my chickens.  They might be a bit spoiled.  I might be a tad insane decorating their coop, but, it is mine and I love doing it.  I am always watching out for chicken portraits. 

Those are all my chicky doos that I have right now - all except one - who is broody and sitting on 6 wooden eggs... I keep telling Charlotte that her eggs will not hatch, but she keeps them warm just in case.  Silly girl!  I have no idea where her picture went - I took one, but it didn't download. 

Just imagine a black chicken in a dishpan 'growling' here...

I have 5 more babies coming in the week of April 15th.

And tomorrow, I promise, it will not be about chickens.

But it is true - my life revolves around my chickens.  They make my world twirl.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Good Morning From the Farm

These are my 'farm smiles'... the many reasons I love being a 'country girl':

Some mornings, I simply sit outside and enjoy the chickens chattering and pecking...

Thought I would share a few moments of my day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Very Loved Cookbook

The best Banana Nut Bread recipe ever:

A well loved cookbook with a triple tried recipe and a few adjustments:

One hour in the oven:

A few minutes to cool and cut:

A nice slab of butter on the warm bread: 

Makes for "YUM!"

Just in case you want to try it out:

My Banana Nut Bread
½ c margarine
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 c flour
1 c mashed bananas (about 3)
1 teaspoon soda
3 Tablespoons buttermilk OR 3 T milk mixed with 1 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cut up PECANS
Melt margarine, mix margarine and sugar, add eggs and mix.  Add remaining ingredients. Fill greased loaf pans a bit over half full and bake in 350 degree oven for one hour.
Let the bread cool for about 15 minutes then take a couple of tablespoons of margarine and put over the top.  I usually just take a dab of margarine, stab it with a fork and run it over the top of the warm bread.  It melts and makes the bread even more yummy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The 'Berryhill' Sale

I entered an estate sale with a couple of friends of mine who actually make a living hosting estate sales. We had decided we would go junking on Fridays; estate sales, garage sales and junk stores just to entertain ourselves.  So we enter this estate sale with anticipation, but, once we got in, we saw the enormous amount of stuff this family had.  Walls and walls full of things, loot stacked to the brim on everything in sight, junk leaned up in stacks against the walls, beds overloaded with piles of... stuff.  Nooks and crannies had items in it - there were years of collections stuffed EVERY where!

Most estate sales are very organized, well priced and it's easy to access all the items.  It was obvious to my friends and I that this person was a hoarder and even though everything had been sorted, cleaned and priced, there was entirely too much to be able to display it nicely in this very small home.  

Each room we strolled through got deeper and deeper. Customers were having 'cheek talks' to get around each other.  At one point, I looked at my friend and thanked her for not taking THIS sale.  We laughed about that sale for the next month or two. 

On one Friday, I picked her up and she was unusually quiet.  She kept looking sheepishly at me, until she finally said, "I need to take you to Berryhill".  Come to find out, 'Berryhill' was the sale she had accepted the day before.  So she took me to Berryhill.  

Let me back up a bit;  she has been in business for 40 years doing estate sales and was my mom's best friend.  Since I am near her, she asked if I would be interested helping out.  As my energy allows (it mostly doesn't), I go to her newest estate sale and help (?) organize for it for the upcoming sale. 

I was not prepared.  Her daughter was not prepared.  Browsing through the top floor, it was a piece of cake.  They (we?) could easliy whip it out in no time. 

Ha!  Then we went downstairs...

It is actually pretty fun going through other people's loot, however, this latest - "the Berryhill sale" - was overwhelming!  It is quite a (hoarders) challenge.  

Here is what we were faced with going in:

Two floors, two outdoor patios and one barn chock full of STUFF.  

Yes, she had taken the job.  As I said, I try to help, but until I get to Bethesda and find out what I need to know, I have not forced myself beyond what I feel like doing.  Until then, I go when I feel like it, whip through one itsy, bitsy pile or corner and pray I never hoard things like this woman has done.

I cannot even get IN to take pictures in most of the rooms!

Yes, the lady who has this house is still alive.  She is 92. I figure she has been hording for 72 of those years in this very house.  Yes, she still comes in to see what we have uncovered.  And yes she still takes some to her new home.

Thankfully her daughter brings most of it back.

And we laugh about it being my fault my friend accepted this sale, because I started it that fateful day by saying, "Thank you for not taking this sale!"

She did.  

Only worse.

'We' hope to have the sale ready by May 1st.

I think it may be a pipe dream.

It will definitely be a challenge.

Challenge accepted.  

And blamed on me.  Lol... 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Long Story of Why

It never seems enough... what I have to say about things going on in my life these days is a struggle.I love where we live, love my hubby and my family, so that isn't the problem.  The problem is whatever is going on with my body.

I have trouble seeing now, my eyes are blurry from lack of tears. Not from crying, but from whatever I am dealing with... my mouth stays consistently dry, and no I don't have diabetes.  Literally, my tear ducts have gotten smaller and smaller as the eyes get dryer and dryer. Because of that, I have trouble focusing - and some days are much worse than others.  For that reason, I don't get on the computer much at all - which is also the problem with blogging.  I do miss doing it, but to be honest, about 5 minutes on the computer is all I can master right now. I went in to an eye Dr and he gave me some drops to use after Bethesda. We don't want to mess up any testing being done there... we will see how the drops help.

I go to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD in April to see if they can help me.  So many problems... I have trouble holding things and typing now.  My hands don't work from some kind of weird arthritis (?) that set in after taking sulfa drugs.  I have been off of them for months now and I still have this problem, which also adds to me not being on the computer.  Typing has become an issue.  I can do it for short terms, but not for long and so many mistakes...  Between that and the eyes, I just don't play on the computer.

I swear I feel like I am falling apart.  Some days I get up and know it is an awful day. Unfortunately, they are getting more and more common. It breaks my heart to see Steve in the morning and have to tell him it is another crappy day. I am sick of me - how can he not be?

So about Bethesda.  How did I get to go there?  It all started with sinus problems. One side of my sinuses stays blocked all the time.  I went to an Ear/Nose/Throat Dr and he tried helping me with no luck.  He referred me to an immunologist/allergist.  I went, she questioned me and immediately said I had an immune problem.  However, she did allergy testing on me, but told me prior to testing that she suspected it would come back negative.  It did.  Even the false positive was negative.  I ran into that problem at another allergy clinic in Baton Rouge YEARS ago.  However, this immunologist didn't let it rest with, "hmmm, this is weird..."

She took blood.  And she called for me to go back and give more blood... and more... I have LOTS of blood.  59 vials when I finally started counting!

My blood work looks all peachy and great... my bad cholesterol is good, my good cholesterol is good, sugar is great... everything looks super - until you get to the lymphocytes.  I have gone for an extensive health exam every year for 10 years now.  There have always been some questionable things on my blood.  Lymphocytes were always a 'little' off, and my C-Reactive proteins were always way off.  However, not one Dr questioned the lymphocyte problem.  Not one!  Apparently, maybe they thought I had a little infection going on each time, but no one realized I had 10 years of crappy lymphocyte counts!

This Dr saw my lymphocytes were down and she did a subset count - dividing the different sets of lymphs and seeing which part was down.  My CD4+ count was non-existent and another set was low.  She didn't believe the results and tested again.  They were lower.  So, she tested for AIDS/HIV.


She called another Dr.  They retested for AIDS/HIV.


They did other testing and a different blotter test for AIDS/HIV. Ask me if I am panicked at this point.


EVERY test has come back NEGATIVE on AIDS/HIV.  Confirmed negative, cross checked, double checked and triple checked by every AIDS/HIV test available.  The tests are negative.

So my blood work was turned in to the CDC.  They confirmed all the results.  I am definitely AIDS/HIV negative.  They turned it over the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD.  Ask how scary it was to call Jewish Medical Center and National Institute of Health (NIH) and they already had all my records and they have been 'confirmed'...

When I finally braved it up enough to contacted NIH, they were already in the process of putting together a 'team' and were getting ready to call me.  HUH?!  They took 1.2 nano seconds to 'invite' me to Bethesda for further testing.  So, that is how I got accepted.

I am scheduled for multiple CAT scans, blood work, DNA testing, x-rays, a biopsy of my saliva glands (complete with stitches), numerous other tests and I will see at least 7 Drs while I am in Maryland.  They are going to try to see if there is some other reason my CD4+ count is so low.  They suggest I may have a mast cell problem as well as my blood disorder... or Sjogren's Syndrome.  Not sure what the mast cell problem is and too skeered to ask.  Sjogren's makes some sense - and I do have 10 of those symptoms - but it is a result of my CD4+ count -  not the cause of it.

Anything I have is secondary to my blood disorder.  My blood disorder, in case you are interested is once again; Idiopathic CD4+ Lymphocytopenia.  If you read up on it, it is not serious - unless you have a CD4+ count like mine - it is 61.  300-350 is critical.  There is no cure; IGiV's will not help, blood transfusions won't help... nothing to help the count grow.  Apparently, once it is this low, there is no fixing it.  Had it been discovered before the 'critical' level, they could have helped.  Not now.  Every stinking Dr I see says the same thing.

So, since October 31st, Steve and I have been 'processing' what is going on with my body and what to expect.  We have stayed on top of my continuous sinus infections, bladder infections and any other infection I might have pop up. Simple little things like if I get a scratch that gets inflamed, my body cannot fight infection because it doesn't have a clue there is a problem.

That leads to another problem I am having.  ANY antibiotics I take seem to make the 'arthritis' problem worse!  I have to take antibiotics to live, so how can we deal with this other problem?

We are trying to find Drs to work with Bethesda when I return.  Not an easy chore... no one knows what to do with me exactly.  I have a few good days, but mostly really crummy days where I feel like crawling under the covers and sleeping it off.  We both agree staying busy will help.  I try to stay as busy as I can, but sheer exhaustion stops me in my tracks.  I have never felt fatigue like I do right now.

So that is my long story.

Steve and I had a weekend where we talked a good bit.  I am discouraged because I have let my blog go as long as I have and I don't really know where to start it.  I decided to let you know the crappy things going on in my life and start there first so you can have some idea of what we are dealing with.

I will post as soon as we get the results from Bethesda.  Thankfully, I am staying with a dear friend over there.  We will try to see a bit of DC while we are there, but I don't think we will try to see much.  I am just not up to it. 

The next few months will be sketchy posts with random stuff that has happened in the last six months and what is going on now trying to catch you up.  It probably won't make a lot of sense, but I am bound and determined I am going to get it up and running again so I can regularly post.

I guess that is all I can do unless you have other suggestions.  Feel free to offer them.  This post has taken me weeks to finally get out.  I want to blog!  But I had to get this crummy stuff out in the air.

And say a few prayers for me. I think my blood could sure use them.  :-)

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