Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ladies, it might not be hormones...

Hi Everyone,

I just thought I'd let you know about something surprising that has happened to me, just in case it's happening to you and you don't know it.

For the last while I've been feeling a little out of sorts with all sorts of weird annoying symptoms, not enough to bother me terribly much.

I've been super sensitive to sounds I don't like and they turn me into a raving lunatic. My poor husband is hardly allowed to eat around me. I seem to have a hard time regulating my body temperature and am chilled a lot. I'm often asleep on the couch and then don't sleep well at night. I've also been moody. I have a perpetual eye twitch and just recently I've been wondering why my asthma seems to be kicking in all the time instead of being cold temperature induced. I've had a dry cough as well. I sometimes seem to have a harder time concentrating and my rest tremor seems to be really acting up. Also just recently I've been having a touch of vertigo when I roll over in bed.

I'm 45 and I automatically assumed that a lot of this was hormone related. When you read about perimenopause many of the symptoms are what I've got. My noise issue has always surfaced as a hormone related issue and when I was briefly pregnant it was one of the largest irritants. It's something to do with the increased pressure on the ear due to water retention. I've also been attributing some of the moodiness and depression to the upcoming second anniversary of the loss of my pregnancy. Some of the other symptoms such as the chills I've been attributing to a possibly mild case of swine flu or just being run down. Vertigo comes with my colds and I've also got a history of very low blood pressure so that was easily explained.

So last week I went to my doctor and told her that I had a whole host of symptoms and that I was going to come across as a bit of a hypochondriac. She laughed at me, said I wasn't crazy, and took down the symptoms and gave me a requisition for bloodwork. Within 24 hours of drawing my blood my doctor had left me a message.

Turns out my hormones are fine and that while perimenopause may be a contributing factor, what's been driving most of my symptoms, including the asthma are my ridiculously low iron levels. I am 10 times below normal levels! That's surprising in some ways since we tend to eat a lot of iron rich foods, but my body has been changing with age and I'm sure that I'm losing a lot of it each month since that's been another irritant (sorry Dad and other guys, I know that's too much information and I tried to write it gently).

Iron deficiency anemia and perimenopause share many common symptoms including moodiness, fatigue, and lack of concentration. But even better, iron deficiency explains the chills, the asthma, and some of the other symptoms I've been having.

I haven't had a chance to speak with my doctor yet about what this means but I'm pretty much thrilled with the diagnosis. It means I'm not a hypochondriac and iron supplements are so much easier than the "just wait it out and deal with it" type of approach that we women are supposed to take as we enter our hormonally deficient years. Supposedly I'll start to see improvements very soon and I'm looking forward to that.

So, you women in your 40s, don't do what I did and just assume that it's hormones, get your iron levels checked as well. The solution might be easier than you think.

It still doesn't necessarily explain the eye twitch, but I've got appointments to figure that out.

Anyhow, I thought this was important to share just in case others are resignedly dealing with what they think are symptoms of becoming a woman of advanced age.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An ornament for my niece...

Hi Everyone,

I thought I'd post a photo of an ornament that I made for my youngest niece. One of my sisters really appreciates the hand made ornaments that I try to make each year for her and I asked her if she would like me to start making them for her daughter who was born in 2008. She's said yes so the plan is to make one each year for Lauren. I'm honoured and joyful to do so.

Unfortunately for a number of reasons, I wasn't able to make one for Lauren last year so I've backdated today's ornament to 2008. There's an inscription on the back that says that Aunt Sandra made this ornament in 2008. Since Lauren is just over a year old, I highly doubt that she'll remember that this ornament is a year late. I'll send this off next week so that it can go on the family Christmas tree this year.

I'm currently planning to go with gingerbread theme for the next few years. I have another one in the works for this year and I'll post a photo of it when it's complete.

The trim is some residual clay that I had left over when I made Bottles of Hope on behalf of Bianca. I think it's neat that the spirit of a very brave little girl is infused in an ornament made to celebrate the first Christmas of a very special niece.

I think I got inspiration for this one from one of the other clay bloggers out there, but I wouldn't even begin to know where it was since the inspiration was from a couple of years ago. But it also may have been something I saw done in felt. Apologies to anyone who feels that I stole their idea and didn't give credit. That's not my intent.



Saturday, November 7, 2009

Canes a la Barbara!

Hi Everyone,

Last week was our Guild meeting and Barbara generously taught us how she does her flower canes. Here are the two canes that I made in class. These particular slices are going on a friend's journal cover.

Barbara prefers to reduce the petals to the size of the cane that she wants and then assembles the flower after all the pieces are the right size for her taste. I have to say, I do like that for flowers since one of the things I hate doing is packing the outside of the canes.

These flowers are about a half inch across.

The one challenge to that is that I have problems reducing an irregular shape consistently when it's 12-24 inches long. You can see that in the flowers above. It works out OK, because by the time you apply the flowers to something and mush them a bit onto whatever clay substrate they're on, it's probably not too noticeable. Assembling tiny bits of length of clay is also a bit fiddly as well.

Her technique will be something that I will use again.

Barbara is a wonderful teacher and I also have the fortune of calling her friend.



Friday, November 6, 2009

Snowflakes - variations on a theme

Hi Everyone,

Today when I woke up there was just a dusting of snow on the cars and patio furniture. It'll be gone in the next hour. But I thought it appropriate to post some canes that I've been working on.

I'm still trying to figure out if I like doing a skinner blend cane that allows for different colours throughout the cane. I thought I'd give another try for snowflakes since I'm participating in the
Clayamies Christmas ornaments and I have a lot of blue clay.

Here's the first setup. A good chunk of Skinner blend blue and an equal amount of white.


The next thing I did was cut out circles and snowflakes. If you look closely, you can see that the blue snowflakes go from a dark blue to a light blue with the light blue closest to the tile.

While I was doing this there was a little voice inside my head saying "you should be cutting out squares, not circles". I ignored it and didn't realize that I should have been paying attention to that voice more.

When you're assembling cookie cutter canes, sometimes it makes sense to cut open the outside portion. I did that here and you can see it. It then became very easy to wrap the outside around the inside. This would work for hearts, teddy bears, and anything else that you would like.

I didn't have scale on these images, but the circles are probably 2.5 inches across.

Here you can see the almost assembled cane. I flipped the snowflakes so that you can see the light blue snowflake and the dark blue surround of the white snowflake. It shows the colour differences a bit better.


Reduce, reduce, reduce. These canes are about a half inch across. I wasn't really happy with them as they were so I let them sit for about a week while I waited for inspiration. You can really see the colour differences in the final canes.


Last Saturday inspiration came and here are the resultant canes. I really liked the one on the upper right when I first put it together and then I reduced it too far. It's still nice, but it was a great cane before the reduction.

If I had gone with a square surround instead of a round surround I would have been able to assemble the canes together in a lot nicer format. But I don't regret the round surround since I filled in the spaces with some other colours and it adds interest.

The bottom canes are the Judy Belcher tesselated canes.

I'm still trying to figure out what to do with them - elements will go into Christmas ornaments for sure.



Monday, November 2, 2009

Belated Beautiful Birthday Bounty!

Hi Everyone,

When I got home the other day there was a package waiting for me. My mother had sent me two more Jon Anderson creations; the large elephant and the penguin.

Here are the photos of my collection. I've been an admirer for years but got the first piece during my travels through Arizona last year. Then Mom got me a couple of pieces for Christmas and now she's given me a couple more a few months after my birthday.

This next photo is of the detail of Jon's signature cane. Each piece is dated. You can also take a look at the cane detail.

But for cane detail - take a look at the elephant on the elephant. Jon's work is so amazing. It's the type of thing I can stare at for minutes at a time trying to figure out how he did something like he did. Beautiful!

And here's a shot of the penguin cane on the penguin.

I think I'll only collect one more piece, the roadrunner, which I saw in Arizona and should have bought.

Anyhow, had to share the photos.