Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting ready for a new year.

As I think back on past things
I try to remember
what I'm doing TODAY!

Thank you to my friends and readers!

And come back 
January 1st
for a bunch of "thank you" giveaways
you won't want to miss.

It'll be a giveaway to help
make your memories of yesterday
improve your todays.

(powered by pie)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup".

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Santa Needs GPS

This was originally posted in 2011.  I thought you might enjoy one of my favorite pieces of humor, my present to you.

Disclaimer:''No reindeer were harmed during this post.  They're all stunt reindeer.  I can't say the same for the jet pilot."

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Day at the beach, this is not.

A week or so ago I went back to my Lyme doctor to discuss the latest set of tests and yada yada ad nauseum.  An hour later Rick and I walked out with that deer in the headlights look. Thankfully, he's completely on top of everything now, but I'm less so.  So I write.  I write about my illnesses here not to get pats on the back or anything like that.  I just write what I'm living, and this is what I'm living with.  It's not all happiness and beads and pie.

I'm actually quite lucky.  I have a good, knowledgeable doctor, a husband and son who put up with all the many changes Lyme disease and an active mold infection/invasion/whatever you call it brings, and I try to remember there is indeed hope.

But knowing I'm lucky and acting like I'm lucky are two entirely different things.  I've been trying to process what's going on with me and I find myself being sad, angry, hopeful, back to mad as hell.  I think that's probably normal for anyone who gets bad news about their health.  I also think a lot of people in similar situations are afraid to say they're mad, because so many other people have a life that is much worse.  I know this.  I mean, I *really* know this.  But it doesn't help when you're shaking like a leaf from pain or so sick to your stomach you can't move.  To hear "this is good, this means the bad bacteria are getting clobbered!" doesn't do me a bit of good then.  It makes me get all bitey and stabby. 

I guess I'm just not an inspirational kind of person these days, and that makes me all kinds of sad (and mad).  Right now I'm not the kind that can be joyful in the midst of swallowing 15 pills, thinking "at least I don't have to have an IV every day."  And I don't like me anymore, either, which is pretty sad, too.  It's not surprising to me that many people have backed away as if I had a toxic waste tattoo on my forehead.  I don't blame them.  I'm a pain in the ass to deal with right now. 

I miss me.  

My latest appointment brought up a lot of new issues, all of which mean I can be treated that much better, but none of which felt like particularly happy news.  I have an active mold infection (I guess that's what you call it) three times the toxic level expected.  We have no idea where the mold is coming from, and mold is in all sorts of forms.  Most people think of icky black mold, but I learned that all my books, especially my antique books, and pretty much anything antique or vintage I've brought into the house, could contain whatever it is I'm infected with.  I need to see an allergist to find out, but worst case scenario, I'll have to discard a LOT of treasured things.  My life is more treasured, but I don't think there's a single one of us who would cheer to see your carefully curated things go in the burn bin. So we're getting a home inspection, and will go from there.  

I try not to think about it.

Ha.  Actually, trying not to think about it is getting easier.  The doctor said I had the worst case scenario of Lyme and mold together because they both can mimic each other and make it difficult to know what you're actually killing.  And my tests showed that both the mold and the Lyme has entered my brain.

To which I say, getoutgetoutgetout I did not invite you in.  Get OUT.

(OK, time for a station identification where Lori reminds herself why this is all worth fighting.)

That little boy is the love of my life and I have to be here for him.  But many days, I'm not. Adding new supplements and medications to fight even harder has rendered me on some days almost incoherent.  I sleep for hours and hours and don't remember where I am or what day it is or what time it is when I wake up.  Again, all this is good because it means my body is really giving it the good fight.  But I HATE it.  I hate missing an entire weekend of seeing Zack, reading to him, ANYTHING.  

Having this stuff in my brain means it's harder to hide, too.  I stumble, bump into walls, need my cane, walk with stiff legs, all until I can sit and get under control for a few minutes.  I can't go for long drives anymore, which used to be a way I got my grouchies out.  It's difficult to read because I can't remember what I read.  I can't remember if I got all the right presents for the holidays and they're certainly not wrapped.  And I'm having my pretty long extensions, all that lovely pink and purple, taken out tomorrow, in part because I just can't take care of it.  I'm afraid I'll cry when I see what's left.

We also discovered I have a genetic mutation that means I can't process folates, and the medicine I was given when they thought I had lupus was actually toxic to my liver.  Yay.  

But really, I should say YAY! with all sorts of enthusiasm because knowing all this, finally, means I can start to heal.  The doctor says at least 18 months.  That seems short sometimes, forever other times.  And I'm bitter about the year I lost, getting sicker and sicker and not knowing why.  But some people go years without knowing.  I'm trying to be chipper, I swear to pie I am, but it's very, very .... very difficult.

I have no idea what next year will bring.  I know I'll do the Bead Soup Blog Party but it will probably be a little different.  I can't make any real plans, as far as dates yet.  I'm sitting upright at this moment, typing, but tomorrow I could be flat out again.  Or not.  I just don't know. And I HATE that.  I'm going to try to be more cheerful and be easier on myself.  I hope.

I'm just really frustrated.  And I can't seem to put it into proper words.  It all sounds whiny and pathetic and I can't seem to make the lemonade out of Lyme right now, today, but who knows about tomorrow.  

I have absolutely no idea if this post made any sense.  I'll leave you with my best boy, making his mark in the world.  I hope to join him soon, making our marks together.  Ya know?  And I have to fight in order to do that.

(powered by pie)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup".

Friday, December 13, 2013

Handcrafted Christmas Ornament Blog Hop 2013

This is my first year participating in an ornament swap.  I was excited to receive Becky Pancake as my partner, and first and foremost, I have to thank her for her patience in waiting for me to Express her ornament to her.  Dates are all catching up on me and I really didn't want to miss this, especially after the beautiful and meaningful ornament Becky sent to me.

The rules of the blog hop stipulated that an art bead had to be used in the making of the ornament, and it had to be handmade in general -- no store bought ornaments.

I have a tradition in my family where on Christmas Eve, we all open a box, and it's a new ornament for the tree.  I started that when I became an instant step-mom to two wonderful boys and then a mom to Zack.  The idea (in my mind) was for each child to have a box of ornaments to take with them when they had their own place.  It's always fun to see what we picked, except for last year when I hid them so well from myself that the only one I could find was (luckily) Zack's!

I'm still looking for those ornaments.

One of my Radko ornaments Rick gave me when we first married.

Becky not only sent me a handmade ornament, but one with a lot of thought.  She designed the ornament herself after looking through books of old-fashioned ornaments, and she made sure to add dangly bits because she knows how I love that in my jewelry.  She also wrote me (hand wrote!) a letter that made me tear up and cry, in the good way.  That letter is very special, Becky, and a keeper, of course.

Becky is a seed-beader, someone I already bow down to in awe.  So the fact that she made her own pattern, AND incorporated my favorite colors, AND shared a special art bead, is very special.  It's obvious she put time into this.  LOTS of time.  

She said the deep pink art bead reminded her of candy from her childhood, and it's certainly pretty enough to eat, for sure.  And I'm not sure if this was the intention, but .... I've been reading a lot of fantasy novels to Zack lately, and I recently read one that reminded me of the Wizard of Oz, which is the first "big girl book" I owned in Kindergarten.  So this ornament immediately reminded me of the hot air balloon Oz and Dorothy used to leave the Emerald City.  

I made her an ornament with a large hollow lampwork bead and her favorite colors of pink and aqua -- pearls, crystal, and Czech glass.  I was seriously late in getting it to her, (she just got it yesterday), so I apologize for the delay big time.

I made Becky's ornament with a Keysha Koy hollow glass bead (LOVE her work and have a lot of her jewelry to wear).  I made an armature with 14 gauge wire and with hair thin wire, started adding teeny tiny pearls, 4mm pink rose A2X crystals (which I hoard), and new Czech glass beads I got at the latest BeadFest, then added top-drilled pearls at the bottom of the ornament.  I hung the hollow beads with DMC thread, and added a few love knot links of jump rings as anchors.

Now Zack wants one.  I guess I'd better get busy finding more beads!  I showed him how I did the wire wrapping, that it's not that hard, and I may, just may, be able to get him to try it this holiday.

Becky, thank you so much for so many things.  The letter -- that will stick with me forever and you have no idea how much it meant to me.  I read it when I'm down.  The ornament -- sheer bliss.  What a work of art!  And your patience -- I nearly blew this hop and I'm so glad it worked out.  And than you, Sally, for this annual tradition!

Happy Holidays to all -- hug the ones you love, 
write the ones you can't hug.

Becky can be seen at 

Other participants and their magic can be seen at:

Sally Russick (hostess with the mostest) and Beth and Evie McCord

(powered by pie)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup".

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Beauty of Hidden Treasure

The past months have been very intense on many levels.  One of the things that happened was the incredibly untimely death of a dear, treasured, much-loved friend, Stan.

Last month, Rick and I had just come home from a weekend away when the phone rang.  I was helping Zack with homework when Rick walked into the bedroom with a stricken look on his face and said, "We need to talk."  

That's never good.

And it wasn't.  Stan passed away from a chronic disease and only a few members of his family knew and then only a little before it happened.  It rocked our Air Force family of linguists.  Rocked it to the core, I dare say.  He was an icon, someone people knew about if they didn't know him personally.  Those who knew him personally were forever touched by him in some way -- by his amazing talents, how he always had people's backs and wasn't afraid to stand up for friends, by his dry sense of humor.  

I knew him not only from Korea but from reuniting for a time after I left the Air Force and started college.  The photo above is from my first trip to visit him after leaving Korea in 1991, so that places the photo from 1997.  (That smile!  Why does it make me cry now?)  

It was an amazing trip for a million reasons, but one was the intense conversations.  We kept up those intense conversations via email and letter, and I'm so lucky to have kept paper copies of many of them.  At the time, we were both pretty damaged souls, and I feel that during those visits, we helped heal a few hurts.  

When I left Korea, he and I had started to really bond.  It was bittersweet, my leaving the Air Force, but I knew I'd done my tour, and as much as my heart tugged at me to stay in and make it a career, I suppose my brain knew I still had a lot of things to do in life.  Stan believed the same thing for me.  

One night, before I left, he gave me a present.

Stan gave me a book from his own shelves, a book by the philosopher Nietzsche.  He had marked it all up, underlined and highlighted passages, written in the margins -- it was his favorite book, he said, and he was passing it on to me.  Those kinds of gifts are just intensely personal and amazing, and indicative of the type of person he was -- generous to a fault for those he cared about.

When I took the book off the shelf the day Stan died, a letter fell out.


I have opened and closed that book so many times.  Yet I had never found the letter he hid between the pages until the day he died.  A love letter, and it tore my heart up.  I had other such letters from him, but to have one show up, suddenly, hidden since 1991..... chills.  A message.  I needed it.  No one can tell me that wasn't divine intervention.

Sigh.  This post really stinks as a eulogy to him, but I've tried writing it a million times and this is what I can write.  The rest is in my heart.  I left out far more than I could have put in, but I've shared it all with his son and will be sending him copies of the letters and pictures I have.  And I hope his son doesn't mind me sharing the following photo, because it helps heal my heart to know that Stan's last years in particular were so joyful to him because of his grandson.  I've never heard him talk with such complete and total peace.  

I miss you, Stan.  You are loved.  Not were.  Are.  

(powered by pie)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup".

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

When Life Gives You Lyme Instead of Lemons, You Can Still Make Lemonade, Right?

Just a quick note from the comfort of my bed.

I know it's been a long time since I last wrote, and for those of you who follow me on Facebook, you already know the what's up.  Forgive me for using Facebook rather than my blog, but my blog post about everything that's been going on in the past few weeks may or may not happen.  Facebook forces me to be a bit brief, and my blog has always felt like a sanctuary to me, a place where words take time and marinate (along with decent photos) and frankly, I've just withdrawn a bit because my blog was starting to be "Icky Things No One Really Wants to Hear About" instead of "Pretty Things".

However, and however, and yet still ... however.

I'll give you one of the reasons I've been remiss.

In a nutshell, after seeking a second opinion on my Lupus diagnosis, I hooked up with a doctor who specializes in Lyme and related diseases.  For the past year (yep, it's been almost exactly a year) I've felt so sick, so tired, so Not Right.  I've been taking Lupus drugs for a while but didn't  get that much better.  I always wondered about Lyme disease, but whenever I was tested, it would come back positive, and then the secondary test would come back negative, and none of the doctors felt it was worth pursuing because more extensive tests aren't covered by insurance and are pricey, so they said, "Nope, not Lyme."

Enough of that nonsense.  I wanted to get better.

Sixteen vials of blood later (which included the expensive out of pocket test) showed I absolutely do have Lyme disease.  It also showed a whole myriad of things I wasn't expecting....My mold exposure count (or whatever you call it) was high.  Platelets too high. Estrogen too high.  Vitamin D not being absorbed.  And insulin resistance, which explained why I kept gaining weight so rapidly, with or without help from pie.

Quite a lot to take in!  And quite a lot to treat.

I'm currently under a rigorous antibiotic regimen as well as using some more holistic approaches to handling everything else. I've been on a restrictive diet and have learned to embrace the nebulous quantity that is the kale smoothie.

But I am tired.  Nay, freaking grumpy and exhausted.  I have enough energy to get Zack to school and that, folks, is about that.

Me being me, I feel incredibly guilty for missing deadlines, being totally zoned out, and feeling I have absolutely nothing to contribute right now except excuses.  I have so many ideas, so many things that need to get done, so many plans.... But right now my body is running the show, and it's telling me to slow down or I'll make things worse.  It's telling me it's OK to be in a vile mood sometimes when all I can do is stare at the ceiling fan.  My life isn't over.  It's just stalled for now.  I have no idea how long it'll be until I feel more like myself.  (Months, say some.  Years, say others.)  I'm trying to embrace the chance to rest,  But it already feels like it's been a lifetime of resting, and I'm kinda over it.

I guess you could say, things sort of suck right now, and oh, I know, I should be very glad I'm being properly treated (Lord, let's hope so this time), but I'm not going to lie.  I'm Bitter, Party of One a LOT of the time, and the effort it takes to be brave and cheerful -- right now, I do not have that.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe next week.  But not today.

Which, in a rather larger nutshell than I intended, is why I've been absent.

I'm trying very hard to make lemonade out of Lyme.