Springtime in Oklahoma

Spring and Fall have been my favorite seasons, but springtime in Oklahoma has a special appeal. It starts so early, compared to Connecticut. The harvesters have already arrived to harvest the massive fields of wheat. Root crops, like carrots, potatoes and beets have been in the ground since the middle of March. Other garden crops, like tomatoes, squash and watermelon are planted around April 15.

We did not plant a garden, this year, but our peach trees are doing well.

IMG_1505

I have spent my leisure time, when I’m not sewing or writing, working in the flower beds. I love seeing things grow. I and my siblings inherited this love from a displaced Tennessee farmer, our Dad. He left the farm for the military and ended up marrying Mom and settling in rural Connecticut. He couldn’t kick off the sod, though, and produced beautiful gardens every year of his life.

I feel at peace in a garden. I enjoy watching the soil improve year after year. When we came, five years ago, I didn’t find worms or insects in our soil. Working and mulching have now produced healthy scores of the helpful subterranean creatures.

Morning glories IMG_1510  Lillies IMG_1511

and violas  IMG_1509  have made their appearance in all their splendor. If you’ll notice on the yellow petal, even the lady bugs are out in full force.

Flowers give life. Life for the butterflies and bees who visit but also life to us. God knew we needed things like this to stimulate our eyes. To lift our spirits. Take time today to enjoy God’s nature.

Flower bike

Advertisements

Surgery and Side Effects

I had major surgery last March to reconstruct my ankle. I have CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth Atrophy). It has destroyed a lot of nerves and muscles in my feet and hands. There is no cure and no treatment but new advances can help correct the damages of the disease. Because of the weakness and instability in my ankles, I was walking mostly on the side of my right foot. They cut a bone, straighten the ankle and screwed everything back together. It has been a long year. I no longer have constant pain in that foot and now walk on the sole and not the side. Thank God.

I was prepared, somewhat, for the post surgery pain. I wasn’t prepared for the depression. Facing limitations have always been hard but facing a future with a crippling disease was something I wrestled with this past year. Besides having the surgery, in the last 2 years I have lost the use of my little fingers and most of my ring fingers. This might not seem like a big deal to most, but as a writer it’s hard to adjust to typing with five fingers instead of nine.

I was also following the blog of Julianna Yuri. A precious, precocious little five year old. Her mother wrote her outrageous, hilarious comments. I enjoyed her wit and wisdom. Julianna also had CMT. Probably the worst case known. The sweet child passed away this past year. I felt her loss as if I were a close companion.

But with all this year has thrown at me, I am alive and will continue to go on and adjust when it’s needed. I will try not to mourn the losses ahead but be creative to overcome them.  I face reconstruction of my other foot in the fall but know it will give me more mobility. I wish my dad could have had the advances that I am enjoying. I also know some great writers only typed with two fingers. God is still in His heaven and all is well with my soul.

Please read the article on Charcot Marie Tooth  Atrophy.

Please check out my books. You’ll find them under categories.IMG_5663

Charcot Marie Tooth Atrophy

The photo is my foot after reconstruction.

This disease is named after three doctors who were able to describe it in 1886 – Jean Martin Charcot, Pierre Marie and Howard Henry Tooth.

It is hereditary caused by a mutation in chromosome 17 which causes defects in neuronal proteins. This disease damages nerves and also the myelin sheath (which surrounds the nerve). It effects 1 in 2,500 or approximately 2.8 million people.

Symptoms include: High foot arches; curled toes; foot drop; weakness in legs, ankles, feet; weakness in hands and arms; hearing loss. Extreme cases can effect eyes; speech; swallowing; and breathing.

Some people who have the CMT gene mutation have no symptoms at all.

There is no cure for CMT but researches are getting closer to a procedure to try to break the CMT continuing.

For more information go to cmtausa.org.

 

Hazardous Ingredients In Hygiene Products

In the early 1990s, I worked for Christian Book Distributors. They were a forward thinking company that cared a great deal for their employees. Periodically they gave out health brochures. In one of these, I read about Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and how these chemicals were in our hair products and caused hair loss. I went home and checked, finding out that my hair products did indeed have these chemicals in them.

IMG_1068

I did a personal test. When I used them I had a handful of hair, when I used products without them, two or three strands. Needless to say, I watched what I bought for a long time.

Unfortunately as time passed, I became less vigilant. So recently I decided to look these chemicals up to find out if what I read so long ago was true. I find that it’s worse than just a loss of hair.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) are foaming agents called surfactants. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is the worse. These chemicals are found in shampoos, conditioners, soaps and TOOTHPASTE! They can damage hair follicles, skin, give permanent eye damage in children, and cause liver toxicity.

IMG_1069

The Journal of the American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that 5% concentration of SLS could cause skin irritation. 10 to 30% caused skin corrosion. Some soaps have 30%.

Why would companies use these dangerous products? – They’re incredibly cheap and Americans associate suds with clean. Please google these products and read for yourself then check your health care products and make better choices.

 

My Greatest Regret

We went to Elementary School together, played hop-scotch and jump-rope. She was a beautiful platinum blond with a friendly smile and a kind heart. In junior high I moved away for a couple of years. When I moved back, we were in our third year of High School. We attended Norwich Free Academy which had a school body of about 3300 students. She, being from a well-to-do family, was in the upper crust clique. I was a natural loner and belonged to none. When we ran into each other, our childhood friendship would emerge and we would have wonderful conversations. Sometimes I felt she was dissatisfied with her life. She once shared that she rarely dated. I was shocked. She was gorgeous. She said it seemed guys were afraid to ask.

Thinking of her always made me smile. That is until a couple of years after graduation, when I found out she had died, trapped in a horrific fire in a disco in Connecticut. I realized in my immortal-minded youth, I had never shared the most important information in my life. I don’t believe in forcing God on someone but I didn’t even give her an opportunity to decide if God was who she wanted.

Poems are not my forte, but I  wrote this one to help me deal with the loss of my friend.

Cindy

 By Carolyn Torbett Johnson

 Why did she have to go so fast

Her very life slipped from my grasp

 

I did not realize that she

Was part of mere humanity

That’s gone before us through that door

Marked death to live forevermore

 

But I was blind, I would not see

Her fate it seems had rest on me

 

I always meant to tell the plan

That God gave down to fallen man

I never seemed to find the time

The blood-stained hands I see are mine

 

Why did she have to go so fast

I would have told her at the last

 

I would have told of Jesus’ birth

Of why He came to us on earth

Of heavenly scenes, of beauty rare

Of hope, of joy beyond compare

 

But life is gone, she can not hear

And I am left here with my fear

 

Why did she have to go so fast

Her life is gone, my chance is past

Largest Active Volcano in US – Yellowstone?

When our kids were young we were able to take a month and visit most of our country’s major national parks. We traveled to Mount Rushmore through the Black Hills to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, up to Montana and down through the Redwoods and the Sequoias. Ending our trip, we visited the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Cavern. It was all exciting and very interesting.

Yellowstone was fascinating with Old Faithful and other geysers soaring high.

yellowstone-national-park-beautiful-photo-desktop-wallpapers-in-widescreen

The numerous hot springs had colorful mineral deposits glowing in their depths.

We enjoyed the woodland and the many vast roaming herds of bison and antelope that live there.

yellowstone2

Little did I know, we were walking and driving on an active volcano. Yes, Yellowstone is an active supervolcano! AND it has erupted! Of course, as you may have guessed. that was ages ago.

But scientists say it is still possible today and may even be overdue. There are two massive chambers of magma miles below Yellowstone. (Magma is what lava is called while it’s still underground.) One chamber was measured in 2013 to be fifty miles by twelve miles. The second, underneath this one, was found later. The heat and pressure, geothermal activity, from these chambers are the reasons for the superheated geysers and springs. If that pressure were to build up, an explosion, much worse than Mount Saint Helen, would devastate several states.

Scientist believe we would have ample warning if this was about to take place. For which we are all so very thankful. So, if you get the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend going to Yellowstone. Enjoy the amazement of walking on top of an active volcano.

Sgt. Stubby – Dog Hero of WWI

Born in 1916 he was an average mixed breed with signs of Boston Bull Terrier. Just a homeless mutt who attached himself to a training unit at Yale University in Connecticut. Little did the troop realize, when they befriended him, how beneficial this little dog would be to the troop.

437px-Sg_Stubby

He became the most decorated war dog of the first World War. He was the only dog issued a rank and became a sergeant due to combat. He became the mascot of the 102nd infantry division, assigned to the  26th Yankee division. He served for eighteen months and was in seventeen battles.

_73412601_2001-877_smithsonian_stubby_with_robert_pro_photo

Though the regiment befriended him, he had one special friend, Corporal Robert Conroy. Conroy hid Stubby on the troop ship when they were deployed and smuggled him into France. When he was discovered by the commanding officer, he was given a salute and permission to stay.

Stubby entered combat February 5, 1918. He was under constant fire, day  and night, for over a month. In April, he was wound in the leg by a grenade. He was sent to the rear to recover. While there he raised the troops morale. When he recovered, he went back to the front.

That year, he was also injured by mustard gas and issued his own gas mask. With his sensitive nose, he learned to warn the troops at the slightest detection of mustard gas. His dog hearing also allowed him the ability to warn the troops of incoming artillery. He also would find injured soldiers in the trenches and signal for help, while staying with the soldier.

He was once approached by a soldier, who he attacked and held till troops came and found him to be a German spy.

Then he was once more injured in the chest and leg by a grenade.

After the eighteen months, Conroy smuggled Sgt. Stubby home. Sgt. Stubby had been in many newspapers and came home a hero. He marched in parades and actually met Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding.

In his retirement, he went to Georgetown University Law Center with Robert Conroy and became the school mascot.

Sgt. Stubby died in his sleep in 1926. His obituary was printed in the New York Times.

sgtstubby2
Original caption: Washington, DC: Meet up with Stubby, a 9-year-old veteran of the canine species. He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924

 

Quilts of Valor

In 2003, Catherine Roberts’ son was in Iraq. While he was there she had a dream. She saw a young soldier sitting on his bunk. His head hung low in despair. Her heart went out to this young man. As she watched the scene changed. The man became wrapped in a quilt. His countenance changed to hope and comfort. When she woke up an idea was birthed in her heart. Quilts of Valor soon became a reality.

logo

Their mission statement – The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

Quilts of Valor now has over 10,000 quilters who agree with their mission statement. As of today they have given 133,473 quilts away. These quilts are all top quality, made by women and men around our country. All quilts are either hand quilted or machine quilted, none are tied.

My sewing group has started meeting once a month to work on Quilts of Valor. There are now eight ladies in the group. We have five quilts completed and will be awarding our first quilt in the next week. So many of our service members have had to face the horrors of war. We want them to know, we care.

IMG_0720

For more information go to http://www.qovf.org

 

 

 

Women Soldiers in the Civil War

I have always held a fascination with the Civil War. Having a northern mother from the Green Mountains of Vermont and a southern father from the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, I had a hard time understanding how one country could be fighting against it’s own brothers. I had never known there were sisters fighting, also.

No one knows how many there were, as women were not allowed to enlist. But it is believed to range from 200 to 500, women disguised themselves as men to enter the southern and northern ranks. They had many reasons including patriotism, not wanting to be separated from their loved one, desire for glory and even just a refusal of being left behind.

Here are just a few of the known women:

Loreta Janeta Velazquez. She took on the name of Harry T. Buford. But when her husband discovered her, she was sent home. When he was killed in battle, she again joined the southern ranks. She served as a spy and sometimes commanded troops.

 

Sarah Emma Edmonds. She took the name Frank Thompson. Sarah was born in Canada to a very abusive father who had wanted a boy. She ran away to avoid the abuse and an arranged marriage. To hide from her father, she donned the disguise of a man. Fearing she still might be found, she traveled to the United States where she enlisted into the army. She worked as a hospital attendant, mail carrier, and orderly. She deserted in 1863, due to Malaria and fearing she would be discovered by the doctors. After her recovery, she became a female nurse to the troops.

 

Elizabeth A. Niles. Her husband was called to war on their honeymoon. She fought beside him and was mustered out without the military ever learning of her gender.Niles

 

Frances Hook. She was twenty two when she enlisted. She and her brother were orphans, they decided to enlist together. She continued serving even after her brother was killed.

 

Florina Budwin. She enlisted with her husband and fought by his side. They were both captured and sent to Andersonville prison. Her husband died there but Florina survived. She died a year after her release due to illness.

(no photo)

This are just a small representation of the women who fought and died for the things they believed. They were, also, great Civil War soldiers.