Two Bowls, Two Knives, and a Body Brush

Sometimes it’s the little things that mean a lot.

Take my 20 ounce serving bowls from Jepson Pottery, for example.  I am happy when I can make a big salad or side dish and serve it in these substantial, artsy fired vessels.  The deep blue glaze compliments most food hues and the pottery keeps the dish a little warmer or cooler until the feasting is over.  A simple pleasure.  Sweet.

Having a sharp knife in the kitchen can make the difference between injury and expertly prepared veggies, especially when those rooted puppies are parsnips!  These are tough to cut yet soften nicely when browned in avocado oil and cooked down to almost mush with lots of salt.  A simple pleasure on a special diet.  Savory too.

And nothing wakes me up better than a gentle rub down with a stiff body brush in the shower.  Many people with chronic illness write about dry brushing and all types of lymphatic and therapeutic massage using this or that technique or device.  Just give me my natural bristle, wooden brush, will ya please?  No coffee needed to get me going for the day.  A good natural bristled brush on a long wooden handle is a simple tool to wake up the largest organ in the body.  Nice.

When estranged from my home due to mold restoration work, I find that the little things mean a lot.  The hotel room is unfamiliar, cold, and dark on these wintry days.  So I had to decide what items I should bring to my “home away from home” when the whole darn house wouldn’t fit into the 600 square feet where I must lie my head at night.  Little by little, I’ve narrowed it down to the items that make me smile in addition to my hubby, Bible, devotional book Jesus Calling, treatment journal, and stash of plantain chips.  Yes, I think that’s it:  2 bowls, 2 knives, and a back brush.

Wonder if I could sneak in a German Shepherd too?  :J

A Pause in the Middle of the Storm

Best ceremony photo

I am grateful to report that I received my Advanced Master Gardener designation from the Cooperative Extension Office of Purdue University, Fort Wayne yesterday. God is good.

To become a Master Gardener in a University-affiliated program in the United States, a person takes a three-month course, six hours per week, successfully completes all class assignments and projects, takes a comprehensive exam, and completes 48 hours of related volunteer work.  Each additional rank of recognition, requires additonal volunteer hours and educational classes.  For me, the volunteer work and training was accomplished while undergoing treatment and complications of Lyme Disease!  How does that work?  By the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ alone!

Sometimes I would stop at the Extension Office to water the Vegetable Garden in the cold or extreme heat because it needed me to do so as one of the members of the Vegetable Garden team.  Sometimes I went to an educational class a “shred-over-nauseous” in the evening just to get out of the house and be around people.  And the Lord allowed me to sit at my computer last Winter and research a beautification project for my housing association . . . to help me get out of bed!  I remain grateful for this opportunity to accomplish something meaningful to me and even more grateful for the love and support of my husband, Steve.

Steve encouraged me to cut back on my work schedule and take the Master Gardener class before illness first struck in October of 2011.  After that it was the friendship of our special project group within the class that kept me going as viral hepatitis set in:  Jim Battin, James Poiry, Sue Hauck, Cindy Trygg, and Beth Fiato.  Sue Hauck is in the picture above, to my left (I’m the gal in black) and Cindy Trygg is in the audience:  two sweet gardeners extraordinaire that took an interest in me and kept the friendly connections going after the class ended.  When I began treatment for Lyme Disease in January of 2012, Fran and Karen Yorio and Bill Diedrich joined what was to become the Willow Run Community Association Beautification Project and kept it all going with great support and feedback when the going got tough for me.  Later in the year, Cindy, Jim Neuhouser and Jo Ellen Smith allowed me to work at my own pace and sometimes alone late in the day to hang in there this past summer with the Veggie Garden team.   These crazy hours of volunteering and ongoing training, with the support of kindred spirited Master Gardeners and Interns, helped me earn this designation.  Thank you!  You da best!  I could not, would not have been able to do anything without your friendship.

Last night was a pause, a moment to reflect, despite the ongoing chaos that is in our home right now.  We ate banquet food and listened to a presentation on prairie management from Blue Heron Ministries, Inc.  Just that we were out for a special night then returned to the hotel room to crash while our home begins the mold restoration process.  Throughout this past 1 1/2 year, I am grateful to know that gardening, one of my favorite passions (with Steve being number one, of course!) will be there when the dust settles (and goes away!) in our home.  Maybe this Spring I’ll plant a commemorative specimen to represent this amazing journey of discovery, of healing.

Hmmmmm . . . Any ideas what that should be?  :J

Temporary Stability at Last!

DSCF7494
Steve and Julie at Sunset Beach in Tarpon Springs, Florida, January 13, 2013

Looks like I’ll be staying at a local hotel for at least the next week now.  Whew.  Eight days or more in a row in one place, glory be to God!  Eight days in a row, that is, to get stronger since taking a turn for the better from a devastating neurotoxin illness complication of Lyme Disease.

After checking out the apartment options I could find in our town, a visit to my top pick this afternoon yielded another neurological collapse.  That rules out the apartment option altogether now.  Temporary displacement will need to be in a hotel-type of environment instead of an apartment or home with a history of water damage/chemical use.  Maybe someday I will become a human noxious mold or smell-o-meter.  Or maybe not!

I have not had this neurotoxin-type of collapse reaction since 1) touring a friend’s home last weekend who didn’t know he had mold in the basement or 2) since relocating from my home January 9th.  I must avoid these exposures for awhile if I am to get well.  Mold is dearth for me at this time.  Chemicals like carpet cleaners in a newly cleaned apartment that is closed up for the Winter is a close second!  Gratefully I recovered from the chemical/unknown toxin exposure today within 30 minutes and had a nice dinner out afterwards with my beloved husband, Steve.  He even had difficulty breathing in both the apartment and stairway up to the unit.  Geez.  All in a day.  How was your day today?  Sometimes I wonder how people tolerate so many chemicals in their living environments?  Then again, I’ll bet some of them pop a lot of pills and don’t even think about it.

I hope you gentle readers think about it!  I have lived using environmentally “clean” products most of the time for about 15 years now and never regret the extra expense or hassle.  Most everything a person needs is available at Walmart or similar Big Box Stores for just a little more money.  Baking soda is cheap at the warehouse discount stores and is a great bathroom cleaner!  With so much toxicity in our environment from pesticides to genetically modified foods and household chemicals, it’s worth it to reduce the load on our systems when we can!  May we never know what we prevent, no?

Sure miss my home, my husband’s sweet daughter Christina, and my dog, Elle.  I had fun tossing the ball for our pup in the backyard tonight then had to donn my respirator mask again to come back into the house.   My home!  Hopefully we will hear the verdict from the insurance company this week.  Hopefully they will cover the expense of restoring the mold damage from an incomplete clean-up from water damage they paid for in January of 2009.

Gratefully, the Lord has provided extra special support from three couples these past two weeks and we are humbled.  I’m sad it didn’t work out to stay with two of these fine families.  I’m sad that I am missing the casual “house time” with Steve as husband and wife.  We are together most nights; it’s just not the same.  Sometimes it feels like we are dating again with sweet reunions when we meet up again.  Maybe it’s time for some renewal five years into our marriage?  I do feel that being on my own more has strengthened my self confidence more quickly as I have needed to become quite independent when living at the hotel suite!  After all, I lived successfully as a healthcare professional in the Chicago suburbs before meeting Steve.  Flash forward six years and this serious illness zapped my confidence.  The restoration of my health has helped a lot:  I am so so blessed!

Things have happened so fast, recovering 65% from serious illness in a matter of days.  I have had to rely on Steve for so much for the prior 15 months since becoming ill October 11, 2011.  That’s getting fixed now and that is good.  I love being Steve’s wife, Steve Horney’s life partner.  I love being strong for him too, more of an equal partner.  (The kitchen floor desperately needs cleaning you know!)  We have had our long season of illness and it’s been an unimaginable strain at times.  However, never did I feel less loved.  Steve is my hero, my Jesus with skin on.  Like I’ve said in the past, he is my “knight in shining aluminum.”  (Now that’s another cool story!!!)  I’m looking forward to loving him, serving him even better now.

Temporary stability is a good thing.  In the end, it’s all we have, this moment in time when our feet are on the ground where we are sitting or standing, considering every good thing.  King Solomon lamented in Ecclesiastes that most of the stuff of life is meaningless in this vapor of life on Earth compared to eternity with the God of the Bible.  Hmmmm, I do believe in Jesus Christ as God and my Lord and Savior; hold out for the hope of heaven; and am glad to say that this moment in time is a good one!

I think I’m going to go find someone to hug.  Oh Stevers . . . .

The Drama Continues: Sleeping Location #12 in 16 Days

“Praise You In This Storm”  (Casting Crowns)

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still rainingAs the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away[Chorus:]
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus]

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

[Chorus x2]

Listen Live:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ype1xE0wzsg

Reference:  Psalm 121

When in doubt, take a nap!

Gotta Sleep Some More!
Gotta Sleep Some More!

I must apologize for the wacky edits on this posting!  I’m on a borrowed computer, borrowed time.

The Bible tells us that man makes His plans and it is the Lord who orders our steps.  Proverbs 16:9.  Indeed. I was hoping to do so much yesterday in my home to help my husband and myself.  Today marks 2 weeks of displacement from our home, first from a vacation then second due to complications of Lyme Disease.  Yesterday I had hoped to return home for a few hours wearing my trusty pink respirator mask and pack up the Christmas decorations with the help of a dear friend.  Er, no.   Instead my husband and I suddenly moved me out of the hotel and into the home of a sweet family and their baby.   I had to leave the hotel because the furnace wasn’t working and the maintenance guy triggered the spewing of burning electrical wires into my room trying to fix it.  We temporarily moved to another room in the middle of the night and 5 degree weather just to sleep.  Just seizure attacks this time, in both rooms, no neurological collapsing and a temporary headache.  I guess that’s good?  Still, time to move on again!

This family where I am is as sweet as it gets.  I am safely tucked away in the gun room with the worldly possessions of a nomad all around me.  We could make this work.  Only problem is that I woke up with a dozen seizure attacks this morning.  What could it possibly be now?  I had unplugged the electrical cords wrapping around the bed and it bought me another hour of sleep.  This is a newer home with no known history of water or mold damage.  Is it the smell of gun oil?  Or the new insulating drapes on the window?  Lord, have mercy.  I gotta live somewhere! Time for a nap then a Dr. appointment later this afternoon.  Maybe the Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) can help me figure it out.  My husband and I are at ourwits end.  I have tasted relief for 36 hours a couple of times in a few of the ELEVEN BEDROOMS in which I have slept this past month until something noxious happened.  All I want is somerest.  Is that too much to ask?  Well maybe I really want to be well.  Maybe I want it all.  Yeah, that’s it. Must be time for a nap . . . on the couch!

Stay tuned.  By now this blog is reading like an action-packed work of fiction with just enough plot reversals to keep us all guessing — and you are my editors, gentle readers.  Let me know if you have any ideas, eh?  Seeya later!  :J