The News Tribune logo

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Thank You to Governor Gregoire:

Well, it happened just like that, May has come to a close. It's hard to believe how fast the months click by, especially May, with Lyme-Awareness being our focus. It's still so hard to reach the front-line doctors in our rural communities, and politicians on any level. That has not stopped the Lyme community from working our corners and wearing the Lyme-green. This year, a march of that same Lyme-green outside the White House got President Obama's attention enough to send someone out. As a senator, he had sent an aide to NatCapLyme's screening of "Under Our Skin" so I know our efforts are paying-off to reach as far as we can with our very real message. This year there have been walk-a-thons, even virtual walk-a-thons for Lyme, in many different states.

I have big plans to try and organize a "Swim-a-thon" for next May, at our Easter Seals Camp on the Key, Camp Stand-By-Me, so stay tuned for news along the way. For this year, I was a one-woman Lyme-Awareness show in Purdy for two afternoons, standing with my sign, "Lyme Lives Here," giving the passing cars my warmest smile and big happy waves. On the bottom of the sign I wrote for those who wanted a comprehensive look at both the disease and politics. I was pleased to see hundreds of conversations start in cars that were turning onto our Key Peninsula. One truckload of young people pulled into the parking lot behind me, so that one could come and ask what Lyme is! It's moments like that which give me hope.

Do you know, a surgeon I had to go and see at the beginning of this year actually told me she moved to Washington with her husband and children because she truly believed we did not have ticks out here! She promised her children that was true, after having to pick dozens of ticks off them in Missouri. This is an educated medical doctor...thankfully one who willingly sat and listened to the education I had to give her. I wish I could reach the main clinic and doctor on this peninsula, who still refuses to entertain the idea that Lyme and other co-infections may be the root of some of his patients' problems. He was sure my daughter didn't have Lyme either, when she was in the very treatable first and second stages. I don't want to blame him...but I sure as hell want to educate him, as he continues to deny Lyme as a possibility. Denying a patient's very real symptoms because lab tests aren't good enough and show false negatives, denying a patient's very real symptoms because GP's have not educated themselves in clinical diagnoses, amounts to abuse of their patients.
Poster by Dale Goodvin

Let me ask beautiful breast cancer survivors, what if the doctor told you they didn't know why you had that lump, and why don't we wait and see what, have some painkillers and anti-depressants and stop whining? What if your doc said, come back in six months, and six months after that? Yes, once upon a time my sisters were thrown away because breast cancer was mostly a woman's disease and who cared, but they fought back with those rose-blush ribbons...until there was a river of pink, funding awareness and research. We plan on doing the same with this Lyme-green ribbon, for our loved ones. Lyme imitates over 300 other diseases, including ALS, Parkinson's, and the biggie for Washington State...MS.

So let me end our Lyme-Awareness month with some good news. After four years of trying, we now have an official proclamation declaring May Lyme-Awareness Month in Washington! It was signed by Governor Christine Gregoire on May 13th, and arrived in the mail May 26th. It was championed by my husband Matthew, and the governor's executive assistant, Kym Ryan. The fast-growing Lyme community in Washington state would like to humbly thank Gov. Gregoire and Kym Ryan very much for this initial step in acknowledging the disease. Obviously I would like the opportunity to sit down with our Governor, to educate her more about tick-borne infections caught right here in this state, introduce her to many patients who can tell her just that, and the cost of Lyme in Washington. You can see, the "whereas" points that talk about Lyme "being rare in Washington and most cases being caught out of state." Well, we know better than that...and until this problem is addressed, this state will see more and more of its citizens sick and on Disability. From an economic standpoint alone, it would behoove us to step up Lyme education in Washington, especially for our doctors. Even the CDC, which sticks to the conservative, admits Lyme is being under-reported by 13-15 times the numbers they list. The conservative numbers have increased by 44 times the number of reported cases eight years ago...and if a few hundred should actually be fifteen times that number?

Summer is about to break out some blue with June, so let's get out there and enjoy this wild beauty, knowledgeably. Say it with me now...wear light clothing...tuck pants in socks...wear a hat...carry a tick tool in your first-aid kit, and learn how to properly remove ticks...check yourself and each other, especially in hair, behind ears...and put those clothes in the dryer for twenty minutes.

Be safe out there. Cheers!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reflections On Love And Service

I could not put down "Magic Johnson: How I Survived 20 Years With HIV."

I was delighted to read about his family's response to hearing that Mr. Johnson had aids:"My mom hung up the phone with me and got on a plane to come out here, my dad got on a plane, my brothers and sisters got on a place to come be with me. My aunts,my cousins-they all were getting on a plane. That's love, that's support, and that makes a world of difference in how well you fight the virus. I know that's a large part of why I'm still here today."

I found the picture of Mr. Johnson and his wife in the article inspiring. I was delighted to see that "in sickness and in health," Magic and Cookie Johnson stayed together.

I am moved by Mr. Johnson's commitment to helping other human beings, those who are suffering with Aids and other folks who are in need.

Friday, May 27, 2011

36 Turquoise Beads

Beads resting upon a reproduction of a painting by Pat Thompson

I once bought a string of 36 turquoise beads that felt so good in my hands, each one sort of the size and shape of a piece of Chiklet gum. They now hang from a hook, here on my desk, always within easy reach of my hand. When I am frustrated, sad, or struggling, I reach for this strand of 36, each stone unique and cool between my fingers, and slowly work my way around the circle.

I begin where the line is knotted and caress the first piece of turquoise, saying thank you in my heart for something...anything. On certain days I can only begin with a thank you for the cup of tea just made but, as each pale stone comes between my thumb and forefinger, more comes to my mind to be grateful for. There is always the view out over Joe's Bay, whether sun shines or rain pours. There's always a tide coming or going to soothe my gaze, always more shades of green than one can fathom. Each turquoise bead pulls me to the next and my heart begins to ease, my mind coming into this beautiful moment.

Due to my daughter's chronic Lyme disease and its neurological involvement, I have wanted to study a bit about our human brains and recently bought a small book recommended by friends called, "My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. Dr. Taylor is a brain scientist who, at 37, suffered a massive stroke. Amazingly, she was able to study herself during the event and, after years of recovery, wrote this book in layman's terms for those of us not brain scientists. She begins by explaining our two brains, left and right, how they work and communicate together to make up intricate and individual minds. Then the good doctor takes us through the day of her stroke from the inside, a fascinating study. She wraps ups with the meaning of her title, simply and powerfully. I leave it to you to read her book for the full journey, but here is something that lit up the page for me.

Dr. Taylor explains how a feeling, say of anger or hurt, runs its physiological circuit in about ninety seconds, and then, she says, we can choose to keep running the circuit, which the left brain would be happy to do...or we can slide to the right (and this time I mean in a good way, wink-wink) brain and experience the feeling of peace, in the present moment. Now, you ask, what is one way to make this break in the circuits and move to our right brain? Well, Jill goes on to say that gratitude is one of the fastest ways to make this transition.

So I come back to my 36 turquoise beads on a knotted loop and realize how precious they are to me, how they first cool my frustrations, stop the anxious circuits of worries beyond my immediate control, quiet the mind and return me to the gift of this present moment. Where turquoise is found in the earth, it is thought to be pieces from the Some days may be difficult, but I do have some choice and ninety seconds goes into 36 turquoise beads of gratitude for my peace of mind.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We Will Have Beer!

On Sunday, May 1st, my son-in-law Howard and I brewed our first batch of beer. I bought the equipment and gathered the requisite ingredients for a British style brown ale: One pound of Crystal Malt, 1/4 pound of Chocolate Malt, 7 pounds of liquid Extra Pale Malt Extract, 1 ounce each of Kent Golding and Northdown Hops and some British Ale Yeast.

I also bought five gallons of spring water for the brew. I like Tacoma water and it would be great to brew with except I would have had to boil it all first to remove the chlorine.

Before Howard and my daughter arrived I started a couple gallons of water heating to steep the crystal and chocolate malt.
Once we steeped the grains like a tea, it was time to bring our beginning wort to the boil and add the Malt Extract and the hops. All the while we kept track of the temperature.

Once we got it to boil, we added the extract and hops to the pot. After an hour of boiling, we chilled the wort down to 80 degrees and add our yeast. We then transferred the wort to the glass carboy and then added enough water to bring it to the full five gallons. So far, it smelled like beer!

We even tasted it and I gotta tell ya, it tasted pretty good.

It is now sitting in a dark corner in our kitchen covered to keep the light out. All the little yeastie critters are happily eating the sugars and turning them into alcohol and CO2.
It all went pretty well except for the occasional flood. Our first flood came when we were sanitizing the fermenter and other equipment. Sanitizing is probably the most important rule in brewing. We had a bucket on the floor full of sanitizer with the carboy bung, the wort chiller and the airlock soaking. The bucket had a spigot and I accidentally bumped it when I grabbed the last of the hops for the final 15 minutes of the wort boil. Before we realized it, we'd lost about a gallon of water to the floor. We quickly got it all mopped up and got the wort chiller connected. ( The wort chiller a coil of copper tubing that has a hose connection on one end and a drain hose on the other that goes to the drain. The coil is placed in the wort and water flows through the coil, cooling the boiled wort. )

We placed the brew pot into the sink and put the chiller in the liquid. Somehow, the drain hose got away from me and suddenly, we had another flood on the floor. Howard cleaned that up while I continued to monitor the temperature so that I could pitch the yeast at the right time.

At the end of the month, we'll bottle our brew and it should be ready to drink around the middle of June or so. We hope to brew a second batch over Memorial Day Weekend. Not sure what kind yet. I'm thinking about a good stout or porter next - who knows.

I will let you know how this batch turns out . We are so excited!



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gritty Jewelry

It's great to watch someone get the most out of what they can do, whether they're a beautiful performer or just a really gritty performer. It's something to behold.
--Actor John Turturro


At that's how I felt when I was introduced to  Gritty Jewelry by Neo Indigenous Designs.

The jewelry designs are something to behold in that, while they are gritty and super urban cool, they are also capture playfulness with an edge. Local designer wonder Kim Merritt yields her metalworking skills with artistic flair. And some.

I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong with this?

Obviously, a Gritty City Woman fave.

Or this fab design?

The deliciously clever cleaver charm necklace. Say that 10 times fast. Better yet, add it to your necklace collection. I'd like to.

Earrings? Of course. I love these delightful escaped bird earrings.


And there's so much more!

I've linked the website once, but it's so nice, I'll do it twice. Gritty Jewelry. Purchases are made though the Etsy store. Check that out as well by clicking HERE