Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On the Home Stretch to Christmas


Hello friends,

It is the final week before Christmas and I am enjoying the lead up to the big day.

I finished wrapping the small gifts I bought some time ago and will be dropping them off before Christmas to different friends. I have also decided to try and finish the lap quilt for my nephew and larger quilt for mom that I was going to gift last Christmas! These have just been sitting in the corner all year and waiting for me to add the finishing touches. I have so little to do on the lap quilt but the larger quilt requires a bit more work.

Lap quilt


Mom's quilt-in-progress
I have also just finished making two half slips for my mom. She hasn't been wearing slips for years but with the advancing age I think she feels it would be another layer to keep her warm.  When I went to purchase fabric to make the slips  they didn't have the usual colours (white and ivory) so I purchased a teal-ish green and a navy coloured fabric. These will be fine for her needs as they tend to be the colours in some of her dresses and skirts. I am also going to see if I can make a fuzzy vest for her. It is made out of slightly slinky fabric but it is a nice burgundy colour which she likes.


Earlier I asked her whether she needed any sweaters and she said a blue or green sweater would be a welcome addition to her wardrobe. I couldn't believe when I managed to find a blue sweater. It is rather a long one, probably longer than she needs but I think she will still like it because of the colour and because it is a little heavier than the sweaters I've been buying her lately. I gather from talking to her that the staff haven't been putting on the long sleeved tops and long pants I bought to try and keep mom warm. Just last week, one of the nicer staff "found" a lot of the newer clothing items I'd purchased and mom told me she didn't know she had. She does get a little forgetful now and then.



Lately mom has been having problems with her phone. My brother is visiting her for a few days right now.  In his investigations he found talcum powder that seems to have been knocked over and unfortunately got in between the key pad buttons and in the base of the phone. I'm glad he found the problem so he can buy another phone set and set it up before he leaves. Phone problems really upset  my mom's sense of well-bring. This is understandable since the phone is her connection to the outside world, including her children.



My nephew called today with exciting news. He has just finished his last exam and is now working in the laboratory with "his rats". He has been accepted to one of the top universities in eastern Canada. He is still waiting to hear back from the other 5 or so universities to which he has applied for his graduate studies, including where he is studying now. Wherever he decides to go (hopefully in the city where I live), he will be there for about 7 years so he wants to make the right decision and is planning a trip to the east to check out the universities before making a final decision.

He will also be coming with me sans girlfriend this year to visit his grandmother. So I am looking forward to that since we seldom spend time together given how busy he is with studies, work and a girlfriend.  I have rented a 2 bedroom suite with full kitchen so that my family members all have a place to stay since none of us live in mom's city. We will all have a chance to get caught up with one another and have the comforts of home at the same time. Now I just need to get my grocery list together and take some extra posts and pans on the journey.

My heart is also in Kenya right now with the poor villagers that need so much. With the help of my friend, Jonah we had a food distribution and party at one village church. Though he tried to keep it quiet, word got out to surrounding churches and many others attended for the party. A special thank you to one of my blog followers who helped make the party possible ( I won't say names as he probably wants to keep it private but he knows who he is). I will be posting photos as soon as I get them. In the meantime, plans are underway to do a food distribution to the orphans at Grace House where Grace and the 20 or so orphans she cares for need food and other things. The other place we will do a small food distribution is at one of the smaller Internally Displaced People's camps. In the end I did not have enough funds to also purchase the much needed sanitary napkins for the women and girls of the camp. Read here for more information.

If any of you wish to help with these two food distributions please contact me.

Joining in with Our World Tuesday.

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Blessings of the season to each and every one of  you.



nativity animation

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keeping Busy

It was such a gorgeous, mostly clear day today.  I couldn't help but take a lot of photos. 



This beautiful day comes after a week of coastal storms that wreacked a lot of havoc along the Pacific Coast. California was hardest hit but we saw some damage in British Columbia where I live.



The sky was clear to the north of me.

There was light cloud and a contrail above.


What a beautiful, blue sky!





Can you spot the small plane (photo below) between the tall ornamental grass (see the top)?


It's been a comfortable week or tidying and organizing the things I will take when I visit my mom for Christmas.


I have also been reading some good books.

I just finished, The King's Curse, an engaging novel about King Henry the 8th and his inability to sire a legitimate male heir to his throne.


This well researched biography of  the Romanov sisters, the 4 daughters of the last Tzar of Russia, is another book I am just finishing.  The book is actually the story of the entire royal family and not just the 4 daughters. It is a good read if you want to understand something of Russian history.


Paris in Love is a lighter read I am half way through.  The book, is written by Eloise James, New York Times best selling author and a Professor of Shakespeare.   After discovering she has cancer, Eloise and her husband sell their home, pack up the children and move to Paris.  The book is not a story per se but is written from the tidbits she posted on Facebook and Twitter while living  in Paris.



I also picked up Nomad at the library on Saturday. It is a book written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who fled her restrictive life in Africa for Holland after being promised in marriage to an older, man in Canada. The book is about the author's ideas about how to truly integrate Muslims into the West in a manner which will help avoid tensions and problems with an ever growing Muslim population. Needless to say her books are provocative and her efforts to speak up against Islam have placed her life in danger. She made a documentary with a young man who was later killed for working with her. I am just getting started on this book and think it would be a valuable read for most of my blog readers.

Last but not least, I am reading  Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren.  I had never heard of this man who is a leader in the Emergent Church movement until a friend in Kenya met him (in fact, I know next to nothing about the Emergent Church).  Now I am introducing myself to his writings. This is not a new book by the author and I am just at the part where he is searching for a deeper meaning in his walk with God. I'm sure it will be a good book as I sense this man thinks of the deeper issues of spirituality and that is mostly always a good thing.


I wrote here of plans to bring Christmas cheer to many poor Kenyans. My friend Jonah in Kenya was to start the Christmas food distributions to villagers on Sunday. I am excited and hope to share pictures later.

There is still time for you to be a part of Christmas food gift distributions to the orphans at Grace's House and to the Internally Displaced People.  If you would like to help with a monetary contribution you can contact me at the address on my profile page. Thanks!




I am late for Skywatch this week but
 contributing anyway.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas A-glow


Christmas decorating is not one of the things I excel at.

I wasn't actually planning to decorate this year because of my themes for the year of "streamline" and "simplify".  However, in the end I decided to decorate for my cousin who will be visiting.  It will be nice to have make things festive for her.

We don't get to see one another that often and it was around this time last year that she almost died. It was touch and go for a month or more and today she is a walking, living miracle.  We plan to go together with other family members to visit my mom this Christmas. She will also be visiting a sister of hers who lives just over an hour from me to the north east.

I am also busily preparing for Christmas in Kenya. Read more here.







 



My tree is not full size yet it takes a lot of time and baubles to decorate it. I like to enjoy it with the lights turned low at night.



Joining in with Our World Tuesday this week.

Have a lovely week!

Blessings of the season to each of you as you prepare for Christmas wherever you are.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Beautiful in Blue

My blogging friend, Lala of Andallusia, Spain is an artistic woman of many talents. She makes fantastic baked goods and hosts pop up stores now and then where she serves tea and her beautiful baked goods.

She is also a paper artist, Years ago when we first met through blogging I purchased some beautiful hand made paper notebooks from her. Too beautiful to use I might add.  Here is one of the notebooks that I keep close by.



More recently she has been making aprons and I decided to splurge and buy one.

It has been posted and I can't wait to get it.

Here it is.


You can read more about her wonderful creations and her joyful life here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Plans for 2014

Hello friends,

I hope you've all been doing well and keeping warm.

Since I last posted here it has been cold with a light snow fall some of which remains on the floor of my patio. It is rather early for us to have snow. Normally we have rain at this time of year but in late Fall we've been having a lot of sunshine and cold weather. It warms up when the rains fall.

A typical Kenyan village hut.

I have been under the weather again. I seem to be under the weather a lot during our rainy season. I get very tired and my body seems to be "fighting" off  a cold all the time. At least this year I haven't felt cold indoors as I often do and I'm so grateful for that. I'm working on improving my circulation and I think it's working.  One big noticeable difference is that my lower limbs aren't numb and cold as they usually are (more about all this in a future post).

I'm gearing up for Christmas both here and for sending Christmas cheer to Kenyans.  I've been discussing my ideas with my friends as to what we can do for the people in one village near Kericho and for internally displaced peoples in a small IDP camp.

My friend said that for 500 shillings (about $6.50 Canadian), we can buy rice, cooking oil & flour so that the people can make chapati (a type of Indian flat bread). This is the normal diet of the villagers. The hard part is they cannot always afford to eat a meal each and every day.  There are approximately 50 families in this one church in the village that  I would like to help. Total - $350.

These village ladies were so happy with the food supply on one of my Kenyan visits.

It would be nice to add a bit more money ($50)  so that some candy or sweets and sodas can be purchased. My friends could then call all the villagers together after church or on another day and distributes the food to the villagers in one central location.  The extra funds will provide a bit of a party/celebration.  Whether I can host a small party like this remains to be seen. TOTAL $400.

Children everywhere love a small treat especially when it is rare.
I also want to give about 10,000 shillings (approximately $130 Canadian) to a woman name Grace. She looks after about 20 orphans on her family compound.  She does it out of the goodness of her heart through her own funds as well as on land she has donated.  She has enormous needs for food and a better  dwelling for the children.  I can't help with the dwelling but I can help a bit with food this Christmas.  The funds will cover  3-4 weeks of very basic food needs. TOTAL NEED $130.

When I got to Kenya there were so many women that wanted to meet. Before arriving in Kenya my friends in Kenya helped coordinate the building of new jiko stoves for each household.

Last, but not least, are the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs). They need many things.  My friend tells me that the ladies in particular need sanitary and hygiene products.  There is no water at the camp but there are latrines so disposable products need to be purchased.  These kinds of things are a real luxury for women and girls in so many Kenyan communities. Lack of such supplies affects girls and their education because they have to stay home at that time of the month. It also affects women who are often the sole economic providers for their families.  It will cost about $200 minimum to provide one or two month supplies for the girls and women in the camp.

This is one example of the difficult conditions of IDPs. It really is important to try and help them.

It would be good to provide the IDPs with a bit of food too. There are 28 families in the small IDP camp.  If we provide the same food as for the villagers, it will cost approximately $181.00. Canadian. It would also cost a modest sum to pay for fuel for those who will transport the goods to the camp ($13.00)  TOTAL $394.

The photo above shows the distribution to the IDP camp in Christmas 2013. You can see that some of them are so joyful.
I don't actually know if I can fund all the needs I've described but I would sure like to try.

I will simply ask each of you to pray for these needs to be met.

Some difficult decisions may need to be made about what can be funded and what can't. It is hard to make such decisions when you see the true needs that exist.

I'm hoping to an post a report here about the distributions once they are made. Timing for that will be closer to Christmas.

Decorations I made for mail exchange last year with Tammy in Texas.

In the meantime, I am preparing to visit my mom at Christmas and have a lot to do before then. Several family members will be joining me for the out of town journey. We expect to have a good time and my mother is looking forward to the visits.


Do any of you send cards anymore? I've cut way back. This year I'm not sure I'm organized enough to send cards on time.


My friend, her sister and I will attend one of the free showings of the Annual Singing Christmas Tree this year. This extremely popular concert is  performed by the good people of the Broadway Church in the city.

 


God bless you as you begin to prepare for your Christmas.

If anyone reading this wants to contribute to the needs I've described in Kenya, please let me know.

Stay safe and stay warm. 

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

African Music & Happenings