A week ago I was greatly blessed to be able to attend my local quilt guild’s yearly retreat. With the expense of the treatments for the Lyme, and herx reactions to the treatments, I was not sure how things would work out… I had budgeted the cost of the retreat out of the income from my wreath making, but hadn’t paid ahead due to missing guild meetings from feeling crummy or weather cancellations. Sales of some of my art and a gift from a good friend helped me to pay for the IGenex test that isn’t covered by insurance, as well as the first herbal antibiotic treatments and supplements, so I could start treatment before the prescription antibiotic can be taken (after a test shows something positive). I was very conflicted as to whether I should spend money on the retreat or put it all toward treatment costs, until another wonderful friend (and my best customer) offered to sponsor me for the retreat. Another huge blessing!! My next worry was how I would feel during the retreat. I did put off increasing dosages of the treatments I am on, from Thursday to Monday after I got home from the retreat, which helped lots… the herx reactions lessen in just under a week for me, so things were calmer than usual while at the retreat. Ken drove me up and helped me unload everything which made things much easier than other years. I also took much less “stuff” with me since I was unsure what I would work on (I always dread finding I “need” the one or few things I left home when I get an idea). Since I have been pretty much housebound for a long time (traveling increases fatigue and the horrible headaches), I was feeling like a total hermit. Having a chance to spend time with quilty friends was wonderful. At the conference center our retreat is at, we stay in dorm or hotel rooms in the same building… Very handy… I was sure to take along all my bottles of meds, timer, chart to remind me when to take everything, lots of water from home (we have great water here), and a bunch of foods in case the dining hall had too much I couldn’t eat. I also planned to take regular naps… Between all the support from my fellow quilters, two naps a day and ignoring all the sweet snacks that are always in abundance, I was able to finish a few projects and get some ideas gelled for a few more. I was really amazed that I was able to stay away from all the chocolates, cookies, and other things I would have normally snacked on all weekend in the past. I guess spending a few weeks before that changing my diet helped a lot. I even took along a bag of dark chocolate Hershey Kisses (my former “drug of choice” has been milk chocolate) for occasional treats, and only ate about 5 in 5 days… a major record for me! Being determined to heal as fast as possible can change one’s habits in a hurry…
Dining hall meals were the biggest challenge… I ate so much raw broccoli and cherry tomatoes…. Thankfully, I took a loaf of my homemade yeast free whole grain bread… it worked for breakfasts and even a dinner with alfredo sauce on it on pasta night… I added some chopped up baby spinach to my first loaf to add some more nutrition to the bread. I’m not a real fan of spinach, but it hid nicely in the bread which toasted nicely.
Once I got unpacked and settled on day one, I took a long nap then made up 3 covers for my 10 ounce glass bottles I now use for my plain or lemon water. I made it a short day, then the following days, I made sure to take 2 naps each day, timed so that I could time my meds around meals (many have to be taken on empty stomach and at least 15 min from each other and 30 min before food… what a pain…).
Day two I made a small bag I could wear that could hold my room key and pill box for meal meds. My comfy clothes had no pockets… My first major problem occurred when starting to free motion quilt the plain colored back of the bag… as soon as I got the needle started in the fabric, my brain totally blanked out… All of my “go to” designs disappeared from my mind… Thankfully, I had a bit of cheerleading help from my neighbor quilter who helped me remember my favorite vine pattern and that got done… The front was easier since I followed the sunprint designs… This took all of day 2 to make… Crazy to think that 5-6 yrs ago I could have designed and knocked it out in less than an hour… Wow do things change… just from a tiny little tick!
Day three, I finally got my February cards made for the Arts in the Cards ATC trade group. The theme was Maps, and I had cut up maps from an old road atlas of PA, NY and Hawaii. Using an idea I got from an art project Andrue brought home from school, I made interactive cards that used hand cut stamps of mountains in shades of green with more hand cut stamps of Mountain Laurel flowers for the fronts of the cards. This represented my home now and where I grew up in NYS. I have always dreamed of going to Hawaii, so the inside of the cards were done with rippled texture to resemble waves, tropical looking flowers and tiny footprints from stamps I hand cut nearly 2 years ago. Paints and stamp inks were accented with metallic ink pens and liquid pearls. Another full day project. Day four, I could begin to play with art quilts… I had to finish the rose quilt at the beginning of the post that was already sold (remember my best customer and sponsor?)… After that was finished, I did some couched yarn work on a couple of my “play” pieces… one from a previous post… Remember this cluttered looking one??
I was given the idea to add black satin stitching between the inner sunprint and the border, so I couched black with silver yarn there and around the outside edge. Thank You Sue K! It does look much better! The colors in the photos aren’t great… the left photo shows it a bit too yellowish, the right a bit too bright white… I may try to intensify the colors of the birds…. Not sure…
This was the next piece to be worked on… For some reason, I didn’t get a photo of it after I added the black yarn couched on, but I did it the same way I did the above Lobelia piece. It was amazing how such a little touch made such a difference. It now has the black around the sunprint and for the binding.
The last piece to be worked on was this piece that has been literally hanging on my design wall for nearly 3 years since I took the photo. I had many comments on it, and decided I needed help to decide what was going to happen next… I guess that is where that was blocked….
I got a few ideas from a few of my quilty friends, and decided that it was time to put things into Photoshop to trial ideas….
These two “Random” WIP’s were pinned to the same little design wall as the Peony, and one friend thought that the way these are pieced would look good around it. I gave it a try… Another friend thought that the “stonework” like I use in my “Stones and Walls” series of quilts might look good, so I pulled pieces of other quilts and played more…
The first version is the one on the left with pieces of the random WIP’s as the border, the right one shows what it would look like with the stone wall type border with a few sprays of applique’d roses in the corners. When I polled everyone i could, these were both tied for favorite… Then I lightened the border on the left version…
This version, above, ended up getting more votes… The stonework border still was liked by some, so I am still not sure exactly which way this will end up…. I have considered making up a pattern to sell for this flower, so I may end up with a second one and do one with the stones and one like the lighter bordered one… Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite version…. It will be interesting!
Even thought this retreat resulted in the least finished work compared to past years, I believe the therapeutic value of getting out of the house and with a number of real live adults to talk to and bounce ideas off of was wonderful and extremely therapeutic and a needed change… I did crash pretty bad the day after I got home, and have had to lay low again due to adding more herbals, little by little, in addition to increasing doses of what I have been taking. With the natural treatments, the dosages are slowly increased daily or weekly based on the herx reactions to keep things from getting too bad, unlike prescription antibiotics that start out at higher dosages right away and can cause worse reactions since they can kill off the bacterial loads faster. The roller coaster continues… At least there are small peaks of better days than I have had in a lonnnggg time… Much better to keep the nasty ticks away and not have to deal with the disease(s) they cause…. Repel those buggers if you plan to wander in the woods or through tall grass…. I will be making up some repellent with geranium essential oil with a bit of vodka and water to make a spray that is supposed to work well for a natural version.
This post is being linked to Nina Marie’s Off The Wall Friday Link-up… Finally some quilt projects to show!