Friday, January 18, 2013

Riding into the sunset - not yet

Well, well, people. It has been a month of Sundays since I blogged at all. Just a few things have happened since May 2012: In 1983 I had cancer. Hodgkins Disease to be more specific. Back in the day when I was treated -- there were two choices: radiation and chemotherapy. I was lucky enough to get the worst of both worlds. Our kids were 10, 8, 7, 5, 3 and one. It was time when the rule was "kill the cancer at all costs." So they aimed a bazooka filled with radiation at my chest -- and fired. If only we had known the consequences then. During my treatment I didn't let it slow me down. I even dressed as "Baldy Smurf" for a kids show at our elementary school. I had the "scenic route to Chicago" in India Ink on my chest and back -- as I laid under the radiation machine -- holding my breath and praying for the best. I went into remission in February of 1984 -- and lived each day "like I was dying" for over 30 years. People thought that "surely the cancer will return." It didn't dare. Or they thought that I would have other issues -- which I did. Everything from "lack of venal capacity in my feet" to low thyroid -- to being thrown into menopause at 34. All bad things. I graduated from college with a degree in communication. I became a professional clown and started the OLA Rainbow Clowns -- comprised of kids ages 3 to 15. I danced with Susan from Sesame Street when she came to St. Louis. I was the editor of a children's monthly newspaper. I became a reporter. I did speaking engagements for folks with cancer -- even got to meet Patch Adams. I raised our family, with Jack's help, and began acquiring llamas -- then alpacas. In other words -- I had a life. I learned to spin fiber into yarn. I took my animals into parades -- to nursing homes -- to schools. Loved every minute. So now we're at July 2012. In the beginning of the month I was unloading and stacking hay bales 100 at a time. I was picking up 50-pound bags of grain and stacking 1500 lbs at a time. Due to the awful St. Louis heat wave -- 107 real temp for days -- I went into congestive heart failure (do ya think the radiation aimed at my chest had anything to do with that?) and went to the ER in the middle of the night. A couple of days later I had a pacemaker. I went home from the hospital STILL gasping for air. Felt like I was drowning. Read the next blog for "the rest of the story."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Goodbye Betty Ford 8n

She came into my life about 12 years ago.  That scruffy little gal named Betty Ford -- the 1950 Ford 8n tractor.  Nevermind that she was an "old gal."  She could still cut that pasture with the best of them. 
Once the cutting deck was installed I spent many happy hours driving lazily back and forth across the pasture.  The birds would swoop down in front of me -- in anticipation of the bugs, including grasshoppers, that would be hearing the ground shake and moving out of the way.
The llamas and alpacas would look up -- and sometimes not even move away -- because they didn't see Betty as any kind of threat.  She was just another farm helper -- making their grazing more delicious.
I readily admit that I baby-ed that tractor.  If she got too hot -- I shut her down.  If she had some labored breathing while climbing the rolling hills in the pasture -- I let her "set a bit" until she could catch her breath.  Sort of like me.
On Saturday, May 5, 2012, she took her last breath.
I started her up in the covered garage -- and she blew a piston.  Her guts literally blew out of the trtactor.  I spent Saturday -- and most of Sunday -- crying.  My life will never be the same.
Some people would say that it is silly to cry over a tractor.  I'm not one of those people. 
Goodbye Betty Ford.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 71 of the "hat a day" challenge

So after not blogging for ages -- here I am with two blogs in the same day!

This is about day 71 of the "hat a day" challenge. So far so good -- I'd like to report. I have managed to make a hat or headwarmer every day since Nov. 14, 2011. The variety of my hats amazes even me.

Some are ski style; some have flowers; some are two or three colors; some are made from alpaca; some are made from llama; some are acrylic or wool.

Sizes have included infant to children's to adult size hats. It's been an adventure so far. I've even added a couple of scarves to the mix -- with both crocheted scarves and tube-knitted scarves (on the loom).

My grandkids remain delighted to come over and pick out hats when they need something new. It's great.

My youngest grandson, Lincoln, is now wearing the hat I made for his older brother -- a soft, black and white alpaca cap. It is adorable on him. My granddaughter, Isabella, is wearing a blue hat -- that brings out the color of her eyes (if they were open).

So I'm excited, still, about this adventure into hat making. Let's see how I feel about it on Nov. 14, 2012!

New animals

I recently traded 314 pounds of fleece for some animals. The "trader" was generous with the animals that no longer fit into her breeding program, so I was delighted with two gorgeous suri female llamas -- Sumertime Santana and Silvia Rose. They are straight, correct llamas and look like show girls at the IL State Fair to me. I can't wait.

I also came across some wonderful alpacas -- both suri and huacaya. There's Amber, Bess and her boy Indie, Lucy (a part llama/part alpaca crossbred), and several others. It is really nice to add new bloodlines to my herd through trading. No money is involved -- and that is good for both of us.

The new animals are settling in nicely -- and they will soon be officially welcomed into the girl herd. They now can roam on 33 acres of pasture and are pretty happy about that. I saw them bouncing around a couple of evenings ago and the joy in their leaps was evident.

I'm a sucker for these wonderful camelids. I can't help myself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Mad Hatter

Just call me The Mad Hatter.

I have crazily decided to challenge myself to make a "hat-a-day" for 365 days. I'm on Day 31 of the challenge.

I am addicted to knitting on the Knifty Knitter Hat Looms. I can whip out a hat in a short period of time -- and the feeling of having "gotten something DONE" is extremely rewarding.

So -- you ask -- what am I going to DO with all these hats?

1. I tend toward having a generous soul. I want to gift people with hats that have been lovingly made from my own animals.

2. I have 8 grandchildren -- ALL of whom have one of Grammy's hats. Several of my daughters and daughters-in-law also have my hats. Two of my sons have hats. I have a big family.

3. I will sell some of the hats to support my herd. Buying winter hay this year is no joke. Grain, dewormers, halters, leads, blankets for the old girls -- all of these things cost money. Selling some of the hats will support my wonderful herd of llamas and alpacas that gift me with their fleeces each May for the purpose of making my hats.

4. And then there's the other reason: 11 years ago our granddaughter, Ashley, was born -- and she was a twin. Her sister, Jessica, didn’t survive -- and actually stopped growing 2 months before birth. I will never forget the beautiful hat/sweater that Jessie was dressed in when we held her for the first -- and last time. It was the kindness of strangers to gift the hospital with those beautiful little hats and sweaters. Time to pass it on, "pay it forward" -- if you will.