A Blend of Life, Family, Awareness & Tales

Archive for July, 2011

Eighty More People a Day.

Approximately 80 people in the U.S. each day join a club nobody wants to be part of. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 40 kids and 40 adults every day are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In addition, it is estimated that as many as 3 million people may have Type 1 Diabetes. While this is a large number, it represents only five percent of the total Diabetes population. 

Dr. Denise Faustman, MD, PhD

Research is ongoing worldwide for both new treatments, and a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. One scientist that I have been following for the past couple of years, Dr. Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, has recently released some very promising news in her quest to cure Type 1:

“… (June 27th) I presented additional results from the Phase I human clinical trial testing BCG vaccination as a treatment for advanced type 1 diabetes.  These data show the potential of BCG treatment or a similar therapy to turn the pancreas “back on” briefly, even in people who have had type 1 diabetes for many years. 

Data from the Phase I study show that BCG treatment:

  • Eliminated the disease-causing T cells that attack the pancreas
  • Increased the number of beneficial regulatory T cells (Tregs)
  • Restored the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin for a time

Notably, these participants had been living with type 1 diabetes for an average of 15 years.”

 Dr. Faustman’s research gives me hope. Using a the generic drug BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guerin), which has been used safely on humans as a vaccination to prevent tuberculosis and as a treatment for bladder cancer, she has found a way to turn restore the body’s ability to produce insulin. Of all the research out there, to me this seems to be the most promising.

Could this be the answer?

Thank you Dr. Faustman for all you have been doing. While you don’t know our family, our family feels like we know you. I speak of you and your work often, sharing your achievements with any that will listen. I donate when I can, and while the amount is often small, I hope that it can help.

If a cure is in the future, then prevention is just around the corner. Hopefully someday soon we can all see the Type 1 Diabetes club disband as current membership wans, and new members cease to exist. 

I haven’t written about Diabetes much lately, but I was reinspired this afternoon after checking out a blog by a fellow “pancreas,” another Type 1 Mom named Julie Colvin. She has a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes, is an excellent advocate for the Cure and is soon to release her book, A Cure For Emma.


The House on the Rock

Last week my husband’s brother, wife and daughter visited from North Carolina. We live in Wisconsin, and my husband and his brothers grew up in a small town in beautiful Southwest Wisconsin. His brother’s wife is from North Carolina, and when she visits she is often only exposed to that corner of the state.

Now if you have never been to Wisconsin (or even if you have!), you might be inclined to think that we have nothing but cows, cheese and beer. I have a feeling my brother-in-law’s family feels the same way. But we have more, and we shared it with them last week – we have the House on the Rock.

When I was a kid, I remember my grandparents (dad’s parents) talking about the trip they were taking to the House on the Rock. I remember not understanding what they were talking about, not being able to picture what it was exactly they were going to see. Well, after three trips there as an adult, I am still not sure what it is I have seen.

How I felt much of my time in the House on the Rock.

The House on the Rock is a fascinating destination that is well worth the visit. In fact, it is reported a half a million people visit this attraction every year.

I don’t know how to describe the House on the Rock. It started as a weekend home built by a gentleman named Alex Jordan. He built the original house on a rock column that is approximately 60 feet tall in the hills of Spring Green, Wisconsin. According to the House on the Rock history, he never intended the home to become a tourist attraction, but so many people came to see the “architectural wonder” that he began to charge 50 cents a visitor.

Alex collected stuff, massive amounts of stuff, and in my opinion some weird stuff. Now the House on the Rock is an attraction that contains 16 buildings (yes buildings) to display all of it.

A couple of the hundreds (thousands?) of dolls in the collection.

I am not sure how to sum up the house in a literal sense. It is like nothing you could imagine, no matter how much I try to describe it to you. It is much like the first time you see the Grand Canyon. Sure you heard it was big, but no one is able to explain the majesty of that canyon. The House on the Rock is much the same way, except instead of the majesty of the canyon, it is awe and bewilderment wrapped up in an eerie sandwich. Our kids loved it, the adults loved it, but none of us could really explain why.

Did our North Carolina guests like the house? Absolutely! Would I recommend you visit to the House on the Rock? Definitely, it is one of those things you should put on your list of “must sees.” Would I spend the night alone in there? Not a chance.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The next time you get to Southern Wisconsin, take a day to check out the House on the Rock. It’s a visit you will never forget.

A chandelier in the organ room.`

A carving made out of ivory.

The World's largest carousel.

What’s In a Name?

So yesterday I came down with the dreaded Summer cold. There is something so depressing about having a cold during beautiful weather. We just came off of a great week with family (more about that in a future blog), and thankfully everyone felt good until they headed for home! I felt so crummy yesterday though, that I didn’t want to get off the couch, not even to see which new daylilies may have bloomed.

I napped a good portion of the morning, and then as boredom set in, I decided I needed to do something besides watch TV or play a game online. I decided to try the Ancestry.com free 14 day trial, and see what I could come up with for a genealogy search.

Well, if you have never done this before, it is quite fascinating! I started with a history that my Grandpa had put together a few years ago, and the rest was from memory. On both my husband’s and my side I have researched back to Germany, Poland, Belgium and Norway. I forced myself to set the laptop aside at about 10 last night, and I have barely scratched the surface!

Ok, so I went to Ancestry.com about an hour ago and got sucked in again. I simply went there to catch a fun screen shot…Oh yeah, so anyway here is one for you.

Lots and lots of people I don't know.


 This is very fun and I highly recommend it, however be aware of a few things:

  • This is the biggest time-eater I have come across yet on the internet.
  • There is A LOT of information out there, and much of it appears to be incorrect. Dates, spellings, locations, etc. are often different, and really who am I to know which one is correct?
  • There are a lot of people with the same name. You really have to study to make sure you are  not attaching the wrong person to your family tree.

If you too decide to take this journey, I hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

Learn Something New Each Day(lily)…

In May of 2007 I was looking at the GardenWeb site, trying to learn a little bit about the plant Clematis. I stumbled upon the Daylily forum, though I am not sure why, because up until then I thought daylilies were just those yellow flowers that bloomed in front of every bank in America. My mom had a couple of them in other colors, but I was too stubborn to admire them.

Anyway, as I said, I stumbled upon the Daylily forum, and after viewing a couple of hundred photos and learning I could hybridize my own daylilies, I was hooked. Daylily cultivars (varieties) are all clones of the original plant. Usually these clones are produced  by simply dividing the plant, but there are times when tissue culture is used though this is not something the daylily enthusiast desires. So if you own Stella De Oro, it is an exact clone of every other Stella in the world, a piece of the original Stella hybridized back in 1975. 

Now, what I didn’t know before I stumbled on the Daylily forum is that there are about 50,000 different daylilies that are named and registered with the American Hemerocallis (Daylily) Society. What I also didn’t know is that if a daylily produces seeds, even if it was fertilized with its own pollen, it will create a unique plant with each and every seed.

I always knew that plant breeders were hybridizing, but I never realized how easy it could be. Daylilies have very accessible reproductive parts, the pistil and stamen. It is very easy to remove the pollen and apply it to the tip of the pistil, which is really as complicated as it gets. Now of course it takes more research and organization than that, but that is the fundamental science to it.

So starting in May of 2007 I became a student of the daylily. That summer I began buying different daylilies, reading the forum daily, making my own crosses and collecting the seeds, and finally allowing myself to make a couple of seed purchases on the Lily Auction.

Four years and hundreds of daylily seedlings later I am starting to get some daylilies that I am proud of. Below are some of the results that have bloomed in the last week and a half:

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I am by no means an expert, but this is very fun stuff. If you are ever in the area, please feel free to stop by and take a look!

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