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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weather & Finances

On Tuesday night I saw some fluffy little clouds in the middle of the sky. There was an airplane making its way to the Vancouver International Airport for landing. It looks like an insect on my camera lens as it makes it's way westward.



It's been a record breaking month of sunshine and heat in this month of July. We haven't had rain for the entire month. I think that is supposed to change over the weekend though the rain is not expected to be heavy.  The persistent heat can feel oppressive to those of us who aren't used to it. It is also hard on the lawns and gardens since our plant life in these parts is used to much more rainfall to keep everything nice and green.

On my walk to the park this evening, I noticed the lawns in some places are looking a bit yellow and dry around the edges.  I took a photo of the sky from the park on my camera photo but can't figure out how to get it from there to my computer. It used to be easy to do but since I went on holiday, unlocked my phone and put back the original SIM card it no longer works properly. I think I need to reset it to the factory settings but am afraid to lose my photos. I'll have to ask someone for help first.

I notice the flowers along the streets are very full and healthy looking whereas the flowers I planted in my garden are extremely slow to grow.  The flowers only seem to do okay in containers. The vegetables are looking a bit better but the kale looks a bit skinny. I've probably left it in the garden too long now as it is going yellow around the edges.

I had a rude awakening on Monday morning.  I mentioned in an earlier post how I dislike the crows who come to my patio garden because they make so much noise, leave food and feathers in the birdbath, chase away the little birds that I like to watch and are just generally destructive.  For two weeks, I chase them away every time I see them land on my bird bath. I guess they didn't like that. Yesterday morning they made quite a ruckus and totally dismantled the bowl of my bird bath until it came loose and topped over.  What pests they are but I have to admire their intelligence.

After running errands at the local pharmacy on Tuesday night, I finally started clearing my desk of the many receipts that have been piling up for the last month. I have to sort them by month and date and put them in baggies until I transfer all the information to an excel spreadsheet. I'm not so disciplined when it comes to inputting all the information as it isn't my favourite thing to do.  I put this kind of work off until I really feel like doing it.  I have been  trying to keep a record of all regular expenditures for the last 4 months or so to get a better handle on where my money goes and also see how much I've saved.  This is part of my "package" of financial goals for 2013.  Although I don't track every expense, I do track most expenses. I don't keep track of meals out or stops at the coffee shop because these are not part of my usual expenditures unless I am on holiday.

I hope your week is going well and that you are making progress on your goals whatever they may be.If you haven't yet read my last post, please read here. I would appreciate whatever you can do to share it on your social networks; especially on Facebook as we need 10 connects to get this profile in the searchable directory. Thanks so much!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Elvis in Kenya - Update

Hello everyone,

I have often written about the needs of the poor and the sick  in Kenya and invited people to contribute funds to the various causes I write about and support. Today I ask a different favour.

I've been sponsoring a young man in Kenya to get his medical diploma from Kisii University.  I've tried for several years to find him a sponsor but no one else would step in and help him.  I'm happy to report that he is almost finished his education but unfortunately I just cannot help him anymore. My heart breaks over this as he is very near to completion. He needs a bit more help to finish his final year and will soon need to go on what they call an attachment where he goes out in the field for a practical placement. He will need funds for his tuition, his living expenses, travel and graduation costs.

In order to try and help him with this latest challenge, I have created a fundraising page on the gofundme site where I have explained Elvis' story.  I've also created a button on my side bar to create awareness of his need.

I am asking if you will help me share Elvis' story on your blog or on your Facebook page, through Twitter or any of your other social media platforms. You can share the story by clicking on the 'gofundme' button on the upper right of my blog where you will find a way to do that. At the very bottom of the page, you will  see several button that will help you share on Facebook and others social sites.  You will also see a small button called "embed". If you click on that you will find the code to post a gofundme widget about Elvis on your site or blog.

I am not asking you for donations (though I won't discourage you if you feel you want to help). I am asking you to help us spread the word of the need, or IF YOU KNOW how to raise the needed funds, please let me hear from you!

Thank you so much for your time.

Elvis in his lab coat.
UPDATE: - July 29, 2013 - So far we have one anonymous donation of $50 for Elvis' school fees. This is a start and we are thankful. I want to thank those that have shared the need on Facebook and on Twitter. Please continue to do so. If we can pay at least some of Elvis' fees for now, that means he can continue with his last and final year. Also if we get 10 (TEN) connects on Facebook, gofundme will add this need to their searchable directory.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Westward Views

The weather continues to be very hot for us here in Vancouver. When I go out for my walks and appointments I always have my sunglasses, my sun hat, my bottles of water and some paper towels. I also usually stop somewhere and have a cool refreshment along the way. Today I had an iced lemonade, kind of like a slushie drink (finely crushed ice). It was so cold it "froze" my chest. I have to drink these kinds of drinks very slowly.

Yesterday I had a Valencia Orange Lemonade from Starbucks. This is a new to me drink. I think I like their Lime refresher much better.  But it is nice to have the orange for a change and certainly better than feeling too hot!

Today my appointment was with the ear, nose and throat specialist. It was my first visit to one in 16 years. I think the specialist was about 45-50 minutes late in seeing me.  But she was very nice and apologetic for the wait. She was also very thorough and educational in her visit.  I return to see her in a few months but in the meantime have some ear medication and a good set of ear plugs (not the foam or wax types which I've tried before without success).

This is the view from the waiting room of the doctor's office.

This is the view looking toward Granville Street or west on Broadway.

The very tall building next door is full of doctors, dentists and other kinds of office. On the side facing downtown, most of the employees and their clients have a stunning view of the waterfront that is called "False Creek", a short inlet in the heart of Vancouver. It separates the downtown core from the rest of the city.

This is the view looking northwest. You can see Granville Bridge in the far distance and all the boats on the water.  This is where I took a water taxi or aqua bus last week. The high rises in the distance are in the city's West End (or downtown).

These are my sky views for Skywatch this week. You can see that there is very little cloud cover.  More beautiful skies can be found  here.

Enjoy your weekend.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Moving Forward in Kenya

Hello friends, it has been awhile since I updated the happenings in the Kenyan Missions of Hope.  My friend Jonah is currently still on break from voluntary missions as he is working on other things at the moment. However he has finally seen the fruition of working with a community near Marigat, Kenya. This is a project in which I had a (very) small hand by funding the geologists report and finding the first funder to drill the borehole.  It has taken a very long time to progress from that point but I'm happy to see that the project is now complete! 

Please continue to keep Jonah and his future in your prayers. He is earnestly seeking paid work in his field of training and passion.

You can access the full story of the borehole at Jonah's blog by clicking on the link beneath the photo. If you can visit there and leave a comment too that would be great!

God bless.

Jonah washes his hands at the new borehole.

Kenya Missions of Hope: Answers to Prayer: Years ago I brought different friends to this place near Marigat, Kenya,  to see the need for water and a borehole. We prayed mightily for w...

Friday, July 19, 2013

This & That

(It's a long post today.)

Weather continues to be very warm here and life continues to be busy.

Yesterday I was catching up on laundry, going to the Diabetes Clinic, meeting a old friend for lunch and making countless phone calls concerning my mother's medical needs. There are many things she needs that are not supplied by the new facility amd we have to go through insurance to get them.  The facility where she now lives is privately owned and very new so they have absolutely nothing on hand to properly look after someone with complex care needs.  I was not prepared for that and no one told us that before the move so that things could be properly prepared.  When mom moved in, I learned that the Occupational Therapist (OT) was not yet on board and so that meant mom had to wait several weeks to get a proper assessment in order to get the medical supplies that she really needs or uses. Needless to say she has been in tremendous pain and discomfort since Day 1 and sadly, I've seen her health and state of mind begin to deteriorate rather rapidly.

The OT started last week and she is moving as fast as she can on getting a new wheelchair but there are many other things that mom needs and so I've gotten involved.  Please keep us in prayer and especially my mother. I'm hoping we can alleviate some of her distress and discomfort very soon. I'm working with multiple parties to try and make it so. At least if mom can see some progress she will feel encouraged and her spirits will be lifted. Trust me, it is taking all my time and stamina at a very busy time and when I am not feeling entirely up to it.

But I thank God that today things seem to be moving in the right direction.  I needed this day as I've been feeling quite stressed and struggling to pace myself, get adequate reset and stay grounded.  First, I talked to a pastor that mom asked me a few days ago to call.  I couldn't call sooner because I had a guest earlier this week.  The pastor wanted me to call her and explain what mom is dealing with so she can pray more specifically.  I've talked to this pastor once before and she is such a kind and down to earth woman.  It was a delight to speak with her again and  to know that we have her prayer support at this stressful time.  She said she would like to call my mother every week and I was overjoyed! Mom will love that since the new facility where she lives has no Sunday church services.

Flowers from a community garden.

I was also able to make contact with the insurance provider to determine what they need in order to approve  new electronic wheelchair my mother needs.  Since electronic wheelchairs are incredibly expensive, it requires all kinds of paperwork and reports to be in good order before such a device is approved.  If everything is properly done, approval can be done within a week which is quite rapid.  But if things are not done right, it can delay things considerably.  Fortunately the person I spoke with today told me exactly what is required and hopefully the OT will not be offended when I try to work with her to ensure that all goes smoothly.  I feel I must get involved for my mother's sake.  I know from experience of getting mother's first wheelchair that I had to get involved then too or mother never would have gotten her wheelchair.  Despite the reports and recommendations that were made on her behalf at that time, it took me writing a letter on her behalf to justify why mother needed such a wheelchair.  Once we got the approval, it still took 8 months to get the wheelchair from the provider.

I am praying the time will be reduced as she is dire need of proper support.  I was told by one service provider employee today that it should never take 8 months and that the longest he has ever seen a person wait is 2 months.  This was good information  and gives me a guidelines.  Of course the order for the new chair will not go through the service provider who took 8 months the first time round.

In addition to a wheelchair mom needs several other items (parachute sling, trapeze, etc.) to help the staff help mom in the daily work of getting her ready for the day and for bed at night.  Private facilities don't seem to have any equipment for their residents. I guess everyone has to buy their own unlike government run facilities which provide a lot of basic things like trapezes, commodes, over the bed table trays, etc.

Other needs include finding an over bed table or two and an appropriate mattress topper to prevent pressure sores. These items do not seem to be covered by the national insurance plan and so I'm exploring other options.  For example, I learned that the Canadian Red Cross can loan over the bed tables but so far I haven't found out where I can get an appropriate mattress topper.  The insurance plan seems to classify mattresses as "furniture" even though some of them are medical devices to prevent pressure sores.

I do not want the insurance plan to purchase everything because I do not want to have to deal with them when mom no longer needs them.  Also if I end up having to move her again, I really do not want to have to move all the medical equipment with us. It would be better if some things could be rented though the wheelchair will probably be purchased.  I may be asking too much as the OT and supplier are used to doing things between themselves and not involving family in whether to purchase or rent items. I will interject myself as much as I can since I am the one who has to deal with the aftermath. It would be so much better if these places could simply involve family members but they don't seem to unless you call them. Even then it is "touch and go" as to whether they will actually listen to you.

I've had to learn a lot about facilities and medical suppliers, insurance policies and multi-government regulations since mom first became incapacitated and needed more support than I could provide.  I've learned that this whole area is a very complicated field.  I've also learned that everything that a senior person needs by way of medical devices is astronomically priced and the industry must be raking in the money with all the seniors and baby boomers who are going to be retiring in these kinds of places.  Seniors have very little say in what goes on even when residence claim to put "resident's first".  There are also a lot of appalling things that go on in these places.  If I can avoid going into one of these homes myself in future, I will but sometimes it cannot be helped.  Therefore, I now try to help other aging friends facing these kinds of decisions in the next few years. Most people don't want to even discuss or contemplate such moves while they have the capacity to do so.

Though I spent a lot of time on the phone today on medical things, I also did other mundane things. I made dinner and found some time to replenish the vegetable bins. If I'm up to it, I like to wash all the vegetables and peel what I can before storing them in the crisper for use. I don't do this task every time I purchase vegetables but it makes so much of a difference when I do. I also eat more raw carrots and celery sticks when they are already clean and stored in the crisper.

Special crispers I purchased for vegetables since I often have too many for my one big crisper.

This is my one large vegetable crisper. I use the other one for fruits and vegetable "overflow".

I washed my spinach in the salad spinner.  This helps to get the excess water out before I dry them off with a towel and put them into my small crispers.

It is now the weekend and I have to get some bloodwork done tomorrow. I hope to be able to get some cleaning done too so next week I can catch up on things and friends outside of the house and continue to deal with mom's medical needs.  It is still very hot here so I don't feel like doing too much in the heat of the day. It is cooler at night and so I am now about to wash my kitchen floor. It will be good to wake up to a nice clean floor.

I'm tempted to stop off for a foot massage tomorrow if I can get an appointment with one particular person who I've found is the best so far. If he isn't available, I will save my money as the cost adds up. I've had three massages already this month! Only 1 of them was really worth it.  In case you are interested I'm posting a chart of the different areas of the feet that correspond with different parts of your body.

Image from Acumats which sells mats you can stand on to massage different parts of your feet.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Good Week

It's been a busy, fun and tiring week with my niece.  We went to see two movies, "Despicable Me 2" and "Man of Steel".  Both of these movies couldn't be more different from the other but they were both entertaining in their own ways.  We laughed at the little minions in Despicable Me 2 and my niece almost split a gut laughing hysterically when the minions sang "YMCA" by the Village People. My niece and I love superheros of all kinds, including Superman. I thought the movie might be too serious and not entertaining enough for her.  She did get very wrapped up in the movie plot, shaking her fists at the villains who tried to kill Kal-El (the name Superman was given at birth by his parents on the planet Krypton).

In addition to going to movies, we managed to make two trips to the beach front.  One on of our trips, we stopped at a foot reflexology place before going for dinner.  My niece told me the day before that she wanted a foot massage. I didn't take her seriously because I know she doesn't like to be touched and her feet are ticklish.  While I was having my feet done, she surprised me by also having her feet massaged in the next room, lol.  After that we went for fish and chips before heading to the beach to relax and make sure my niece was able to dip her feet in the water.



It was quite an experience for her to walk barefoot in the shifting sands with all kinds of dried, prickly seaweed, small stones and shells. Her balance is not good at the best of times and her foot muscles are not strong or used walking in the outdoors without shoes.  She was very proud of herself after managing to take a walk along the beach to the water and back.  I was proud of her too because she struggled to keep her balance  but she made it.  Afterward, her feet were very dusty from the sand.  To make her laugh I told her she had "ghost feet". She thought that was very funny. 

We stayed home on the weekend as our first few days out were not only very long but very hot.  We were both tired and needed a bit of recovery.  I spent Saturday getting the kitchen cleaned and preparing salads for the the day as well as preparing for a small birthday celebration we were to have on Sunday.




On Monday we went to Granville Island and had fun walking around & eating ice cream.  It was a hot day but under the bridge by the waterfront there always seems to be a nice breeze.

After spending a few hours walking around, we decided we should have a bite to eat because we wouldn't be home for some time.  We still had some sightseeing to do, a ferry boat ride and two buses to take before getting home!



The Inukshuk  is always a lovely sight against the waterfront.
This is the small water bus that we took to downtown. From there we caught a small bus along Beach Avenue and saw a lot of the waterfront from the window.  The little bus eventually connected to the bus we needed to come home on.  The bonus was that we had a great little tour of the beachfront.


Tuesday was our last day together and we went to a local park and had a mini picnic. While at the park, my nephew came by with a football and played catch with his sister. It was nice to watch them have fun together. After that we went for a nice long walk and ended with a small sundae before coming home to get her bags packed.  The week went by quickly but we enjoyed our short time together.

We ended the day with this beautiful sunset.

This is my submission to Our World Tuesday and Skywatch Friday

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My World Today




My small garden had a slow start this year what with all the rain. There is more sunshine now but the plants are a bit stunted compared to previous years. In fact, I didn't even bother to fill all my containers this year and some of the seeds I planted did not grow. This week however, the geraniums rallied and they are now starting to bloom.  The brilliant red colour makes me smile. I see the pink ones will be opening soon but I didn't get a good photo of them.


The pot below is showing signs of flowering soon but I can't remember what this plant is. I kept the tag close by so I can look at it when I have time. I had thought the plant would grow much higher before blossoming.

The tomatoe plants are coming along. The tall ones in the foreground are big tomatoes (not sure the type) and they are starting to show their green fruits.  The ones in the background are two different varieties of miniature tomatoes which are my favourite for salads. I have a small amount of kale, hot peppers and green beans too. Not too much as my garden is quite small.

I'm growing hostas for the first time. The ones on the east side of the shaded garden are looking spindly. I see something is eating the leaves too. The hostas on the western side of the garden seem to be doing a bit better. I

I'll be busy with a visitor this week.  My niece is here and we're busy making plans for our short week together.  Lately I find that the weeks fly by.  I feel like I've got so much to do and so little time to do it all.  I'd like to make more progress on my major decluttering task (which I thought was almost done a year ago!) and on renovation plans (which are now on hold for a bit).  I will be home for awhile before I go off to visit my mom again.  I hope to catch my breath as well as try to enjoy some of the sunny days ahead.  Soon enough it will be back to rain and I need to enjoy the good weather while it's here.

I  hope you are all enjoying your summer or winter, wherever you may live in the world.  Talk to you again when I have more pics and news. Have a great week.


Checking in with Our World Tuesday this week here and Skywatch Friday here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Moving on the Hottest Day

I've been busy for some time now with plans and preparations for my mother's move.  Her move was delayed by several weeks.  Originally it was tentatively planned for mid-June.  In retrospect it worked out better having the move early this month as it gave me a bit of time to recover from my whirlwind trip to eastern Canada and New York.  I am also thankful that mom only had two rooms of stuff to be moved, (albeit there are too many things for those two rooms).  Two and a half years ago is when I had to sort through a lifetime of her accumulated treasures and try to fit it into two small rooms at the first facility.

When you move a parent from one facility to another, there are so many things to do besides simply packing, unpacking and finding a place for everything. There are also the interviews, financial aspects, preparing for services needed (hair, dentist, doctor, shopping, etc.), filling out paperwork, making sure all the right documents are on hand and transferred, notifying the insurance company about the move, transferring telephone service and making sure your parent has funds available on hand to them each month for their needs. Then there are the side arrangements just to get out of town:  preparing the car, the hotel accommodations, and thinking about meals while away (fast food is not so good for diabetics but are often the standby for a quick meal), looking after extra snacks for my mother who always has a list of "wants" when I visit since she cannot just get these things for herself.  Last but  not least, there was a shopping list and shopping for her needs (toiletry articles and such like).


This time there were a few additional things to purchase. We wanted to give mom some flowers and a card welcoming her to her new home.  We also needed a small stand or table her mini-refrigerator so it could be lifted off the floor for better accessibility.  We tried to get the new home to "loan" us one but couldn't wait around for their answer.  We had a hard time to find a new one in the right size but managed to pick up something from a local thrift store. We also decided at the last moment to buy a new 32 inch flat screen television.  Mom already had a smaller  flat screen television but I thought with her poorer vision it would be a nice treat to have a bigger screen.  In addition, the dresser top was quite large and a new, larger television fit perfectly onto it.


After all the excitement of the move and high expectations, mom's first night in her new home was not up to expectations.  She was in a tremendous amount of pain and this was largely due to the facility not being properly prepared.  The ceiling track had not been charged up in advance and so was unusable.  The bed itself had no trapeze overhead to help with her transfer and they had to bring in a manual lift which wasn't big enough and squeezed her causing pain.  I was very disappointed and was feeling quite low about it all.  The good news is that the management immediately met with us and we discussed the situation.  I was happy for the proactive approach and hope that things will improve in a significant way very soon.  However,  I think some of the issues will continue to be issues until the new occupational therapist (OT) starts working and does a full assessment of the needs.  I will also want to keep an eye on the lack of certain other medical supplies (over the bed table stands, etc.) and see what I can do to fill in these gaps.

Other than that the facility itself is beautiful and the staff seem very kind. I didn't have time to take photos but I did have a look around at some parts of the facility.  It is very high end and more secure than where she lived before. Mom also has a view of the river and the courtyard from her window.


The move took place over the hottest days of the summer thus far and I was exhausted over the hectic two days of activity. Thank goodness for air conditioning.  However even good things have their down sides.  Over the course of my sleeping I was awakened with deep cramping in my leg.  I've noticed that cold can cause these very deep, painful cramps which nothing can help.  I unplugged the air conditioning unit at the hotel as it was too high for me to set lower.  I was able to get back to sleep.

After day 2 of reorganizing her room and finalizing paperwork for the administration, I was able to get back home late last night.  I couldn't call mom as her phone hook up was delayed.  Due to to last week's flood disaster in Calgary,  I was told that many technicians from the province were dispatched to Calgary to try and help with needs there. The best I could do was to get mom's phone service operational on Day 2 of her move in. I was anxious about her not having a way to communicate with me after the trials of her first night and I did a lot of praying for her. I asked her to call me as soon as her phone was operating.


Mom was able to call me before noon today and she sounded like she was doing fine.  I called her in the afternoon and she didn't seem to be too needy on the phone. I hope she wasn't pretending for my benefit but I am trusting she will make the best of this move.  The staff were able to help her today and she had met some new residents so we are both anticipating a positive experience ahead. I think by the time I visit her next month she will be feeling more settled and hopefully things will be well underway (hopefully completed) with the OT assessment.

For more Skywatch photos, click here.

(All photos taken on the drive back to Vancouver.  Bridge photos are taken on the new Port Mann Bridge connecting Surrey to Port Coquitlam).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cream of Broccoli Soup

I hope my Canadian friends enjoyed Canada Day. I had a nice relaxing day and stayed in since I will be very busy soon.  My regular readers will know that it has been raining a lot where I live.  But suddenly the weather turned very warm a few days ago.  I think most people are happy about that.

Even though the temperature were very warm, I was craving some cream of broccoli soup. I very seldom eat cream soup and I never eat Cream of Broccoli soup so am not sure where that craving came from. So I googled a recipe and came up with this. First time I've made it and it was quite good.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 chopped onion 
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped 
  • 3 cups of chicken stock 
  • 8 cups of broccoli florets (I didn't have 8 cups. I used about 3-4 cups but if you want your soup to be greener or have a full broccoli flavour, I suggest you use the recommended amount). 
  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour 
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized stock pot, and saute onion and celery until tender. Add broccoli and broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.
  3. In small saucepan, over medium-heat melt 3 tablespoons butter, stir in flour and add milk. Stir until thick and bubbly, and add to soup. Season with pepper and serve.

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