Friday, November 21, 2014

Skywatching on Wednesday

Hi friends,

It's been busy around these parts. I'm sure you've all been very busy too, especially those of you preparing for Thanksgiving (USA) and Christmas (world).

This Christmas and in about a month's time, I will have a guest come and stay for a few days. I'm feeling the need to get cleaning and get organized though I probably won't really do much to get ready until the month begins. That is when I hope to put up the tree.  There have just been so many other things to do and the time has been flying by! I seem to say that time is "flying by" more and more. I wish it would slow down a bit.

Location: 5th Avenue & Burrard Street

This past month has been busy with lots of routine medical visits. Some are quarterly and some are annual but for some reason they all seemed to come along in the last month.  It's also a good time to try and plan ahead for extra medical costs like medical and dental and re-examine insurance plans to see how these help with the cost. That kind of thing. It takes time to do it all. One thing I haven't got to in ages is a dental visit. I haven't got a dentist anymore and keep putting off finding one. It is hard to find a good one who will work within the standard fees that are usually covered by the insurance company.  Also, my doctor reminded me last week that have two annual medical tests that I haven't done yet. I will have to find time for those.

It is not good to put things off and usually I don't but this year I just can't seem to squeeze enough hours out of a day.  We all have the same number of hours to work with. I'm always amazed at what some people manage to get done!  You have to have good time management skills and good health in order to get a lot done in the time you have.

You can see the beautiful blue in the sky in this photo.

Each week or alternate week, I manage to get together with at least one friend.  I have one friend who is especially good about scheduling regular get togethers so we get out often for a coffee and a chat or a to see a movie. This past week we went to see a movie about Professor Stephen Hawking called "The Theory of Everything".  It was based on a book written by his first wife. The movie was quite good as showed what a good sense of humour Professor Hawking has and it was also touching and inspiring at the same time. The movie is also about his first wife and what she had to deal with in taking care of her husband when they could not afford in home care giving help.  She was a woman of faith and I'm sure that helped her to carry on though that isn't the focus of the movie.  If you have a chance, go out and see the movie. It isn't about God as such but about Professor Hawking disease and how he managed a brilliant career in spite of it. One of the professor's quotes is, "While there is life, there is hope". That's a wonderful view of life for anyone.

On my way to the movie, I took a few moments to capture the sky in photos spread throughout this post. You can see we had a lovely day.  Even though it is the middle of November there are still leaves with glorious Fall colour on some trees. That day (Wednesday) the temperature had warmed up a lot and by 6 p.m., the usual Fall and Winter rains had started once again.

Enjoy the photos.

If you haven't already read my post about gearing up for Christmas in Kenya, you can read it here

I'd love to hear from you. 

I'm joining in with Skywatch Friday this week and Our World Tuesday
Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gearing Up for Christmas

Hello friends,

I hope you are doing fine on this blessed Sunday. It has been awhile since I've posted. I've been feeling very tired this week so have been trying to get as much rest as possible.

Yesterday was the day of our civic elections and voting was very brisk. I went out to cast my vote  just a few hours before the voting stations closed. I overheard a number of the workers telling voters that the turn out for voting was very good and that there had been long line-ups much of the day.Later, on the news I heard the same report about long line-ups at many other voting stations. So that is the good news.

I cast my vote for mayor, city council, school trustees and the parks board. We were also asked to vote "yes" or "no" to a variety of big spending schemes. I didn't get the results I wanted but that is okay. I am just glad that so many turned out to vote.  We will see where we are at in 4 years time and in the meantime, I hope our city gets the kind of leadership and vision that we need and deserve.

Weather here has turned very nippy. Last night as I went out to vote at the station a few blocks from where I live, I ran into my neighbour who was coming back from work. She said it was very cold. As I got out and started walking I could see that the ground was covered in a lot of frost. We had frost earlier in the week but it has gotten even colder. I was properly dressed with scarf, gloves and warm jacket.

A few posts ago I said I would share some old videos I had made and so today I'm sharing one I made years ago.

It is just a very short clip of street boys near Kericho, Kenya at a Rehabilitation Center. These are young boys that get into trouble and most have no parents. My friend Jonah worked with them a lot over the years and would bring Vacation Bible School (VBS) to the children.

I would sponsor the event and helped pay the teachers who Jonah would recruit from the local Bible school and make sure they had food to eat for the week of the VSB as well as teaching materials and small gifts for the children to be handed out during the closing ceremonies. On the day in the video, I had made a trip to Kenya while the VSB was being held and I was attending the closing. I was so touched by these children and their heartfelt singing.  My short clip was taken on my digital camera in the days when the pixels were still not that large so forgive the quality.

Christmas is drawing near once again, I would like to do something for the orphans or the community of needy people in and near Kericho, Kenya.

One year I sponsored a small, fun outing for village children to join festivities in town.

In another, we took Christmas to the local prisons.

Jonah meeting and greeting one of the prison heads.

Men at the prison gathering.

Women at the prison gathering.

Another year Jonah brought cheer to the local hospital.

In Kenya when you are in hospital, you have to have family help you and make sure they bring you food. Jonah and helpers were taking different food treats to the patients.

For several years we brought Christmas cheer to the internally displaced people of Kenya.

 These are Kenyan who lost their homes and material possessions through civic strife after one of the elections.

These small shelters are how they have to live. There is no protection.

A close up of one of the shelters.

 It is heartbreaking to see the conditions in which the people have to live while they wait for justice. . They have been waiting years for new land where they can live safely. 

No child or grandchild should have to live like this but what choice do the parents have?

Each and every day and every year there are so many ways that one can help the people of Kenya. Christmas is an especially good time to remember them.

I will remember them this year once again and would be so pleased if you could join me.
I can assure you the funds will be put to good use. 

(You can find my email on my profile page if you would like to help out).
God bless. xx

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My World This Week

There has been a lot of rain over the past week or two. I got wet on two days last week and ended up feeling poorly. I took Friday to recover as Saturday and Sunday were full of commitments. Having the one day to do nothing but rest really helped a lot though am still dealing with phlegm and fatigue.

I managed to capture a few scenes to illustrate some of my week.

I am at Heather Street taking a photo but am really in the area to shop.

I always love this view toward the city from Broadway on Heather Street.
Taking a walk in another part of town  after having some Vietnamese Pho Soup.

There is still some lovely colour in the tree leaves.

Many of the Fall leaves now blanket the streets and sidewalks.
A friend and I spent the entire day together on Sunday after attending church together.  She is an out-of- town friend and was here for a mini-vacation. We had a great time together but she ended up getting two parking tickets in one afternoon! It turned out to be an expensive day for me , paying for our lunch and one of the parking tickets.  I don't go out to lunch terribly often  so this splurge for someone I don't see too often is okay. I told her it will be our Christmas lunch since I won't see her at Christmas.

We got our second ticket just before 6 p.m. on Sunday night.  It was pitch black but we were looking out over the city lights from Queen Elizabeth Park. It was very pretty but I'm afraid my cell phone camera doesn't do it justice.

Looking out over the City of Vancouver from Queen Elizabeth Park.

This city has gone beserk with parking rates and meters everywhere.  This and lack of consultation on rapidly accelerating development will cause me to vote for a new mayor next weekend. He promises to do reduce paid parking hours, put a bit of a brake on the fast pace of development and find a way to do real consultations with communities.  If he wins the race (it's a close race), the citizens of the city will have an opportunity to see whether he made good on his promises.

I managed to squeeze in a few days of reading in this week.   After finishing a very satisfying read,  The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland, I quickly moved on to The Juggler's Children.  The latter book is a story of one woman's search for her family roots and her use of DNA testing to piece together her very interesting family background. When I borrowed the book last Thursday I didn't notice that it was a fast read so it's a good thing I had time to read it right away. I will return both books on Thursday.

When the year opened, I set myself a modest reading goal of  35 books.  I passed the goal some time ago.  I've been slightly adjusting the goal upward. every time I surpass it by 3-5 books.  My current goal is 52 books.  A few pages from now I will have read 51 books. I'm not sure what I shall read for my 52nd book and would love to hear your suggestions.

Are any of you reading a good book right now?

I'm joining in with Our World Tuesday this week.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nostalgia & Gratitude

Hi friends, It is Sunday night and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. I was looking at old videos I had made. They are rather amateur but I would like to share some in the next few weeks.

This first video is probably the best video I made and also one of my first ones. The sound quality seems to be much better than some of the later ones I uploaded.

I hope you enjoy.  There is soothing music to go along with it the photos.  It is raining here today and far from the beautiful bright days you see in the video. Nonetheless I had a good day because I was able to sleep in, rest, catch up on computer work, connect by text with a number of friends, connect with my mom and help her out by prayer and advocacy.  I also got to make plans to meet two friends,  later this week; one who is from out of town.  I'm looking forward to seeing both of  them.  I also have a busy week of appointments, errands, phone calls and will be grateful to make it through the week intact and not too tired.

Graphic credit: 30 Days of Gratitude

Whenever I have a lot to do I try to plan out my days carefully. I plan out the time so that I can accomplish what is in my calendar at a steady pace rather than a hectic pace. It usually works out well.  I also try to work in rest periods, coffee or lunch stops and time to read a bit of whatever book I'm reading. This week I must return books and need to try and finish one of them which I started long ago. It's called Currency Wars by James Rickards. Very interesting but I can only digest a few pages at a time.  I recommend you catch the author on youtube if you don't want to read the book.

Much love to you all and thank you for stopping by to visit.  I send you all loving thoughts for a beautiful week ahead.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

This and That Kind of Week

 Hi friends,

It continues to be a busy time around here.  One thing that keeps me very busy most weeks is my "secret" activity which I hinted at in earlier posts.  It deserves a post of it's own as it keeps me fairly busy.  That post will likely come in the new year after I've had enough time to assess the full benefits.

I've also been catching up to household chores (dish washing by hand, sweeping and mopping floors, laundry and general tidying). In between I am running errands and/or reading a good book.It's been awhile since I've shared what new books I've read. I've put photos on this page showing you my current reading.

Another thing that keep me busy is looking for savings every week. This week I've been looking for savings on staples for the house and kitchen. I got a great deal on liquid laundry soap for high efficiency washers at Safeway.  On top of the financial savings, I got some great bonus Air-miles points. I wanted 4 big jugs of laundry detergent which the store didn't have but they gave me a rain check and will honor the bonus Air-miles.

I also kept my eyes open for other deals. This week the best deal has to be on Honey Bunches of Oats cereal (439 grams per box) at $1.98 each.  A savings of $4.00 per box!!  I also bought 4 cans of milk at 99 cents a can. The price of evaporated milk has soared in the recent years to well over $2.00 per can.  That means the sale price is more than 50% off. It is rare to find evaporated milk at 99 cents a can these days. My other great deals of the week are: 10 kg. of Robin Hood Flour @ $9.98 and Folgers Coffee for $7.98. I usually buy Maxwell House at $6.99 per can but I haven't seen it on sale for a few months.

I also bought a bag of small eggplant (6-7 in the bag) for $1.00. They were used right away in a stir fry. Romaine lettuce, spinach and English cucumbers were this week's purchases on sale (all prices in Canadian dollars). I used the greens in smoothies. The cucumbers are for salad.

I don't have to buy any meat right now.  My eldest nephew gave me some elk meat (prepared by the butcher into ground meat, sausages, garlic coil and steaks). He also gave me some wild salmon which he caught and vacuum packed. Originally I was to get this in August but just brought it home the week before last.

I didn't mean to turn this post into "what I bought this week on sale", lol.  But as I was typing this post I realized that I spend a good deal of my time researching sale prices on each and everything I buy. Food and household shopping takes up the bulk of this time.

I try to time my purchases to get store points or Air-miles (reward miles) whenever I can so that adds more time to the planning aspect of shopping.  I kind of enjoy this aspect because it seems to multiple my savings so much.  Next I will likely buy paper towels and toilet paper at Safeway.  There is a sale on these items for a few days starting Friday.  An added incentive is that they are having another bonus Air-miles promotion.  John of John's Island asked what I will use the Air-miles for but at this moment I am not sure. It takes quite a awhile to build up points to anything of value. But I did manage to get two nights at a hotel in New York (actually New Jersey a short train ride away) last summer.

Another activity I spend a lot of time on each week is trying to improve my health.  I'm trying out this new to me powdered herb blend called Daily Turmeric. It is supposed to help with inflammation. I thought I would try one month of this blended turmeric and see if I notice anything different. I know turmeric is supposed to be good for arthritis. I do have turmeric I use in my curries and soups but this blend appealed to me.

It is quite a strong tasting blend. I tried it at the health food store where they put it in juice but I seldom drink store bought juice.  Instead I put a serving in my romaine-strawberry-orange smoothie today. I could probably just use my own turmeric powder but I don't have the black cherry to add to it in powdered form. I also do use turmeric spice in my cooking. Once I run out of the Daily Turmeric I will try just adding regular turmeric spice to my smoothies. It will be a lot less expensive.

Tonight, I have to get out my sewing machine and make an adjustment to a robe my nephew wants to wear tomorrow when he and his girlfriend go out for Halloween. He will be dressing as a judge and has his white wig ready to go.  On the news today I heard that Halloween is now 2nd only to Christmas in terms of retail sales profits.

I don't celebrate Halloween because of my faith. It's made a bit easier by the fact I never get children coming to my door for treats. My nephew says he wouldn't celebrate either but for his girlfriend who wants to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of their meeting. He is a good boyfriend; always very considerate of his lovely girlfriend. I could pass on helping with his costume but he relies on me and I love him so I will do this small favor (of course he also gets my opinions, lol).

If any of you are going out with children or friends on Halloween, please take care and stay warm and safe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Joy of Walking Again

Hi friends,

It continues to be a busy Fall. It has actually been an incredibly busy year for me with lots of personal business to attend to and very little real holiday time. Instead I've just been moving forward and whenever I get a chance throughout the week I take moments to relax with coffee and a good book, watching good or funny television programs, getting together with friends and going out for movies.

This week at my diabetes group, I learned that I've made some wonderful progress on my health goals of losing weight. I've managed to lose 30 pounds.  This is weight that I gained in the last few years when I began experiencing tremendous knee pain and had problems walking. There were long stretches of time when I could not even walk one block. Suffice to say that this lack of mobility was not good for my health.

I tried many different things to regain mobility before I discovered that I actually have osteo-arthritis in the knees.  This problem seemed to come out of no where and hit me suddenly so it was rather a shock. I struggled with knee pain for a very long time and self - treatment before I finally told the doctor about my knee problem.  She promptly sent me for x-rays.

Some of you might remember me writing on this blog about the many ways I tried to deal with the pain:  cranial-sacral therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbal medicines, supplements, and pneumatic compression therapy. When the doctor learned of my knee pain she sent me for x-rays and physiotherapy which helped temporarily.  Ultimately, when I contacted a fitness helpline it was recommended that I buy myself some rehabilitation walking poles and start a walking program again.  I was very skeptical as I had tried using a cane to no avail and I couldn't walk more than a block. I thought how on earth am I going to walk with poles?  Anyway I did purchase the poles because I was desperate to try anything.  I  am very grateful that I did for they have given me a new lease on life.

Photo Credit: Urban Poling, Activator Poles

It took awhile to be able to learn to walk longer distances, stand for awhile or be out of the house for any length of time.  But I am now able to do all these things and lead a more or less normal life.  Some days are easier than others. I still get pain and stiffness but nothing like what I was experiencing a few years ago. I also can't just go out for a long walk like I used to. These days I limit my walking to errands and appointments. In future though I do hope to get back to long walks just for the fun of it. But over the summer there were many days when I left my home and forgot my walking poles behind. That is because I was walking so well and without pain and stiffness.  With the coming rains the stiffness has returned and I don't walk quite as upright. I can still get by without my poles most of the time but I take them wherever I go and use them when my hands are free of shopping or when I need the extra support.

I've worked very hard to walk again and have also worked hard at implementing various forms of health and fitness on a consistent basis.  The loss of 30 pounds has been an incredibly slow process despite all my efforts.  But I am very pleased with what I've been able to accomplish so far and try not to think about how some people would have lost the weight more quickly.  I've never been one of those people. In fact I gain weight incredibly easily so to make steady progress toward my goals is a good thing.  I'm hoping to be able accomplish much more in coming months.

One of the many benefits of walking again and losing the weight is that my blood pressure has improved a lot over time. Though I have never been on any blood pressure medication my blood pressure was on the high side of normal (134/76).  Then I brought it down to acceptable levels for diabetics last winter (130/76) and sometimes a bit lower (128/70).  Last week it was 122/77 and three months ago it was 122/66. I'm sure I can improve this reading a bit more in the coming months. My blood sugar levels also dropped from 8.4 in April to 7.4 in July.  I need to get tested again very soon.

If you are experiencing a limited form of mobility or are experiencing pain in your knees, I highly recommend you get yourself some walking poles or even two strong sticks that are tall enough to hold at right angles when you walk. The rehabilitation poles are not exactly like nordic walking poles since you hold them at right angles when you walk (as in the photo above).  Once you are experiencing less pain in the knees you can graduate to regular (nordic) walking poles that you hold at a slant when you walk. An ability to exercise or remain mobile really helps us keep healthy in  many others ways.  Of course, a good and healthy diet helps a lot too.

Addendum, October 30, 2014:  What most people won't know is just how much I relied on my faith in God during this multi-year process of trying to get better. Trust me folks, the journey has been very difficult and not without challenges.  Especially since during this same period of time I also had a lot on my plate as a caregiver for my mother and all the many things that entails when a parent is elderly and not well. 

In addition to praying a lot, I found it helpful to set goals, stay focused on my priorities and eliminate extraneous things and distractions, actively working on relaxation, learning to go with the flow and listen to my body and last but not least, making a daily choice to remain positive.

When one is fighting a battle of any kind, one must do everything possible to remain positive and it helps to look for daily blessings in life.  Ultimately it is God who is in charge and we must learn to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves or we can become quite miserable and discontented.

A wonderful scripture that has always helped me is

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." 
Romans 8:28

So whenever things look bad or indeed are bad, I remind myself that all things will work out for the best.  By the time God is through I will understand why even the bad times and the difficulties have worked together to bring me to the right state. As I look back in life I can see that this has always turned out to be true though we never see it at the time we are going through it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Views from My Perch & From the Street

These skies appeared above on Tuesday and captured from my patio (my perch). Though it may look cold, the temperatures are actually still rather warm.

The following photos were taken on Thursday during my stroll and a bit of "this and that" shopping.  Again the sky looks dismal but the sun smiled on us for a short while. I didn't manage to get a photo as I had my hands full of shopping!

John, of John's Island, if you are reading this, I took these photos of Fall leaves for you because you liked my dogwood tree in colour. I'm sure there are nicer trees in the hood but these ones were along my route. Most of them are immature maple trees. You may know that the maple tree is national (Canada) arboreal emblem and the maple leaf is on our nation's flag. I just love the brilliant orange and red hues in the maple trees during the Fall season.

Alas, when the winds blow and the rain falls we get all these lovely leaves falling to the ground and old man Winter is not too far behind.

The weather was still warm today but during the night as I sit in my living room I can feel a slight chill in the air. I turned on the fire place on for a while (yes it take a switch to turn on the gas).  It only takes  a little time to warm things up at this time of year.

I'm linking up with Skywatch Friday today.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Stormy Night

Hi friends,

We are well into Fall weather here.

It has either been pouring rain all week or at least very cloudy.

I always love to photograph outside my doors as the scene is ever changing even when the sky is very cloudy.

You can see we have a variety of trees, some with leave intact and in colour, others with most of the leaves gone and still others that will keep their leaves all winter.

This green and red leafed tree is a dogwood tree that sits in the corner of my garden.  The dogwood flower is the official floral emblem my province. My tree is rather young yet but in Spring I like to see it's white flowers.

This is what the dogwood flower looks like.

Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons

In the wee hours of the morning before I called it a night I heard a sound like glass being tapped. I ignored it at first but I kept hearing the sound.  I then turned out all the lights to peer outside my patio doors and found that my patio umbrella had broken off. The screws somehow came loose during the storm and were hitting the glass table top. I went out and brought the screws inside and laid the umbrella on the patio so it wouldn't fly through the air and damage anything. I waited until daylight to take the photo.

Right now there is no rain but it will probably be back soon.

UPDATE:  In retrospect, the storm and the falling over of my umbrella seems very symbolic.  For today (Wednesday) there was a shooting attack in Canada's Parliament Buildings after a soldier guarding the National War Memorial was shot (and sadly, later died). My thoughts and prayers are with all those who lead and/or guard our country., and particularly those that lost their loved one Corporal Nathan Cirillo.  Corporal Cirillo is the second military man in Canada to be killed this week. As the night falls here, many children in Parliament area schools and day cares and many staff and politicians on the Hill and in surround areas are in lock down while police continue to investigate and try to assure it is safe for them to leave.

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