A Gentle Start to the Week

This was the view on Sunday evening as I headed out to do some late night grocery shopping and make a stop at a pharmacy a bit further afield. I was a bit tired since I have a cold so I got a late start.  I'm glad I did get out because I needed the air and the walk. It was a bit chilly and the first time I've needed to wrap a scarf around my neck.  It's been especially cold here over the past several days, especially at night.  The temperature is down to 3 or 4 degrees Celsius at night and around 7 during the day. By the end of the week it should go back up to around 12 Celsius.

 

 
When I'm tired, I certainly don't feel like making dinner so I'm always proud of myself when I manage to get dinner ready.  I usually try to keep my menu very simple.  On Sunday night I sliced up some potatoes, onions, yellow bell peppers and sirloin tip steak, seasoned with a bit of pepper and a few splashes of soy sauce,  put it all in the dutch oven and roasted it for about 45 minutes. I ate mine with a scoop of my favourite chili oil. Delicious.
 
 
 

 

On Sunday I was also able to declutter and recycle several large metal coffee cans and lots of plastic containers that fresh berries come in. I really wish they would package berries in paper containers like they used to. I guess because most of the berries are imported the juices would soak through the paper.  Sunday afternoon a woman came by to pick up a couple pair of shoes I gave away.
 
I also washed this small star quilt I gifted to my mom many years ago and which now belongs to me.  The dowel holding the quilt and the wall also needed a good cleaning from all the dust that accumulates.  All the walls need a good washing but that is a large job so I just do some cleaning here and there.  It's better to do a little at a time than to do nothing at all.  Another of the many jobs I have to do around my home is to remove the one wall sconce (I gave the other one to a friend) and put up two new ones that I purchased some time ago. The sconces I bought are black as that was the only colour available.  I'd prefer to have 2 white ones so I've been holding out until I can find them.  If I can find white ones, the black ones will be put up in my living room area and I will then get rid of the floor lamps.
 

 

When I went shopping last night I picked up some wild salmon on a really good sale. I marinated it overnight in honey garlic sauce and baked it for Monday's dinner along with roasted, caramelized cauliflower and steamed brown rice. 
 
I can see in my photos that the last two dinners look quite bland and colourless.  Usually I try to make them more colourful because one eats with the eyes first.  But they were delicious anyway and nothing was wasted. If I can get to the grocery store again before Thursday's sale ends, I will buy 2 more heads of cauliflower.  At $3.00 a head, it is a bargain.

 

In January 2019 I travelled to Paris with my nephew.  We had a great time and both of us would like to return some day, maybe during the Fall or Spring seasons.  This year I've read a number of books set in Paris.  The most recent one was written by Kate Betts, an American fashion journalist who began her career at Fairfield Publications European office in Paris.  I found the book very interesting because she met the top fashion designers of the day: Karl Lagerfeld, Yves St. Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Christian Louboutin,, Thierry Mugler and others.  I am not a fashionista and I do not follow the fashion trends but I found it interesting to have a peek into the world of Parisian fashion through the eyes of an American expat.


Unfortunately, Canada's Covid numbers have been escalating since our Thanksgiving weekend a few weeks ago.  New and various restrictions are being brought it in various provinces including British Columbia where I live in an effort to contain the virus. I continue to keep as isolated as possible and wear my mask whenever I have to go out and do business.  Otherwise there is not a lot of excitement around here in day to day life. That is fine by me because it allows me to get the tedious jobs done.

If all goes well, I'm hoping to have different scenery and photos for you over the coming weeks and months. Just bare with me for a while longer. 

What about your dear reader? What is keeping you busy and occupied during these Covid times?

Until I read from you, please stay safe and take care.

This and That

 Hi friends,


It's been a busy week and I've been fighting a cold. It is something I fight every year in October when the weather transitions from warm autumn to cooler autumn. It's a bummer but it is what it is.

This October I have been busy decluttering and I've written about it in this space from time to time, not just in October but over the past long while. Some weeks and months I do much more in terms of decluttering than other weeks and months.  This  month the kitchen seems to be getting a lot of attention and so far I've gotten rid of many items from my small cupboards.  Metal bake ware, plastics and Tupperware which are long past their prime and lots and lots of glass jars, plastic and metal coffee containers, papers, cardboard and so on have been recycled.  I also got rid of lots of small items from the bathroom and many items from the closet, dresser drawers and shoes I no longer fit or need, have been given away. Several items were taken to the storage unit in the building and one standing fan had to be taken to the recycling center. I also have 2 large metal patio chairs which are past their better days. If they fit in the car they too can go to the recycling center.  Otherwise I'm not sure when I can take them.

In between decluttering jobs, I clean the cobwebs from the corners. Literally.  I did this less than 6 months ago but the cobwebs seem to accumulate very quickly as does the dust. I've been trying to keep on top of it all.  There is still a lot to recycle and to get rid of but I'm starting to see a real difference in the spaces in my home. I will keep at it and when I am all done with the tasks I will see what I can do to free up actual floor space.  I am not aiming for a minimalist home as such. But I am aiming to pare down the items I use and keep only what I actually use.  I intend to keep doing my hobbies too and hobbies tend to take up a lot of space.  I am trying to find a happy balance for daily living and for hobbies, some of which may be more sporadic.

I'm still doing Flylady routines almost every day.  It seems to help everything run more smoothly even though I haven't implemented the full Flylady system. Once I get started on doing things and cleaning things I just keep on going.  It means much more is getting done every week.

The weather here has been beautifully sunny this past week with the exception of Friday when it poured rain.  But it has also been very cold. I took some garden photos on Saturday. I'm sharing what might be the last of my garden photos for this year.




 

It has now been about 2 months since I did any work in the garden so I'm amazed at how well the plants have done though many of them are way past their prime.  This week I noticed that the pansies and the petunias are pretty much done. I think it was simply too cold for them as our temperatures went down to 4 at night. The geraniums are still producing a lot of new blooms but I'm not sure how long that will continue. 

Something was eating the leaves in  my garden this year but they didn't touch the leaves of most of the flowers. This is the first time I've had this happen and I'm not certain whether it is pests, rodents, or my neighbour's cat.


 

In any case, I am hoping that I will put the garden to rest by the end of October and wash and cover the patio chair cushions. I don't have storage for the patio things but I do try to keep the cushions out of the rain over the winter and I move the table umbrella and the table and chairs so they are no so directly impacted by the winter elements. As a side note, I read that the Farmer's Almanac forecast is for a mild November and a very cold winter.  The other day, our local meteorologist said that this year we are experiencing La Niña.  La Niña refers to the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific and is the colder counterpart of El Niño.

The Black Eyed Susans have now lost all their yellow petals.


But the zinnias have new buds! I can't believe it. But they were very late to bloom this year and maybe they are confused.  The photo shows evidence of my neglect of the garden over the past 2 months since summer ended.

When it gets cold outside I usually start baking.  I saw this cinnamon loaf at Mari's Blog called My Little Corner of the World.  Check it out if you like cinnamon and sweets. I misread the recipe and ended up making two loaves but I only put frosting on one of them.  After trying both, I think it is better with frosting.  Overall though, the recipe is to sweet for me and I have to be careful about that due to blood sugar issues.


On Friday I went to the hospital to have a colonoscopy. I had one just under a year ago but the doctor couldn't find the one small cyst she thought she saw during that exam so I had to return in 6 months.  The follow up appointment was delayed due to Covid 19 and I also put off the appointment as long as I could.  But I had to get it over with or forfeit my spot in the GI follow up care and Friday was the day.  This time the doctor had a good look around she discovered I didn't have a cyst after all.  What she saw last time was actually a part of the colon itself. That was good news. 

She did find something, but it wasn't quite a cyst. I'm not sure what it is called but she said they are common and are often left intact. I suggested she cut it out anyway and she agreed. It will be biopsied as per the usual practice. 

The good news is I don't need to have another procedure for 5 years and I'm very happy about that.  Not only do I dislike the preparation but I get very nervous about the procedure itself. They sedate me but I am wide awake as per my preference. Due to the light sedation I didn't even need 10 minute recovery afterward.  They let me go but not before making sure my ride was there as stated.  I took a few photos but haven't posted any with people due to privacy issues.

Photo of the nursing station

Photo of the recovery room before they start bringing the patients in for recovery.


We had snow in the north and at higher elevations (none in the city) for the past two weekends. The record snowfall  created havoc on the highways and some serious accidents as well.
 
 
 
On Saturday we also had a provincial election. I voted by mail in ballot along with almost 700,000 other people.  Approximately 500,000 people returned their mail in ballots on time to be counted but the counting doesn't start until November 2nd.  Even without the mail in ballots, the election was handily won by our incumbent Premier John Horgan.  He now has a majority government by which to rule.  That was his goal when he took a gamble and called an election a year earlier than required. His win is historic in that it is the very first time that the New Democratic Party (NDP) has won 2 consecutive elections in the province.
 

In other big political news, the Opposition Party of Canada,  brought a "No Confidence" motion against the Prime Minister of Canada on October 21.  They wanted to create a special committee to probe the government's ethics and spending in response to the pandemic and a scandal related to the WE Charity.  Members of Parliament (MPs) voted 180-146 to defeat the opposition motion, with the NDP, Greens and Independent MPs voting with the Liberals.  It means we will not have a snap federal election this fall.

I hope things can settle down for awhile with all the politics here.  People want and stable governments to help steer the nation while we recover from the pandemic.

Thanks for reading my post today. Stay safe everyone and do what you can to stay happy and high in spirits. May you be blessed today and each day hereafter. May you and your loved ones have continued health or improving health. May you have the material things and the finances you need and last but not least, may you have the strength and confidence to handle whatever comes in your path. 


 

At the Half Way Mark in the Month

I had a super busy day on Monday, October 19th (approximately the half way point of the month) and it was the start of a very busy week.  While I ran my errands the rain stopped and sun came out so I snapped a few photos to share on Skywatch Friday this week.  I hope you enjoy. 








Dinner was quick:  stir fried pork cubes with Swiss chard from my garden and daikon radish (and spices) and a dish of stir fried noodles with a variety of vegetables and chili garlic oil.  I ended the day with a clean sink and all the dishes put away. I mostly wash the evening dishes, cutlery and pots and pans but I don't always finish the job. I'm trying to turn over a new leaf because everything put away makes the evening and the morning much nicer.

This month is flying by so quickly. We had two family birthdays a month apart (and celebrated them differently due to Covid).  We also celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada on October 12th and cooking a traditional dinner takes time whether it is for 2 people or 10 people .  I'm doing a major declutter of paper.  I've been going through a long, long process of fully decluttering my home and I am  now on the paper files. I've got so many that accumulated mostly while my late mom was ill. I didn't want to throw anything out. Now I've got to sort through it all and keep only what I really need of hers, my late sisters and also my own paperwork.  It feels good to finally get rid of paper that have been cluttering my space and my mind for so long. 

I have also been getting rid of larger items, not just items from the kitchen cabinet and closets. I could finally be offloading the very large power wheelchair which is taking up a lot of space near the entry way.  Friends of mine have been fund raising to replace the battery and charger and ultimately gift the chair to a paraplegic lady who can really make use of it. The fund raising efforts are very slow.  But it sounds like they have more than enough now to at least have a technician come over to evaluate everything.  I will know more in a week or two.

I've also been busy learning a new routine for running the household and though I'm not fully on board with the program it is a big help. I suppose any method one uses to keep on top of the household is helpful. I never found the household maintenance to be very difficult when I was younger.  I guess I have slowed down a lot because these days the running of the household seems to take up more time. I think the key is to find an approach you like and stick with it and consistently apply the routines.  If anyone is interested, check out FlyLady or Diane in Denmark, both of whom are on You Tube. Diane actually was a Fly Lady mentor for many years and still teaches others how to implement the system.  I enjoy her sparkly personality and motivational pep talks.  What I like about the system so far is that many things are done in 15 minute increments.  As they like to say, "you can do almost anything in 15 minute increments".

I'll be linking up with Skywatch Friday later this week. I send you my best wishes for a beautiful and safe weekend. If you missed my post about Kenya you can read it here.


Saturday's Critters ~ Another Exotic Adventure

 

This  is my post for Saturday's Critters.  If you came for Skywatch Friday, please click here.

~~~~~

In several of my trips to Kenya, I travelled to some very small villages to the east of Marigat, Kenya. 

The first two photos are of the small town of Marigat.

 

I've circled two areas in the map below. One is the town of Marigat which you see in the photos above. The second is the approximate area of where we travelled (click on the map for a larger view) and which are captured in the photos below.


On this particular trip we were headed to a very dry area to learn about the water needs of the people. They wanted to show me the area and explain the vision for the project to bring water to the community. I don't know why they thought I could help as I am just one person.  But as I believe in a good God, I gladly accepted their invitation and went to visit them.  After we explored the area we prayed over the area and for the needs. Sometimes you just have to step out in faith, take the first step and not worry about how things will get done. Just believe that they will and do what you can and let God do the rest. So it was that day.

Along the way, I also did some sightseeing at Lake Bogoria and Lake Baringo before we reached our final destination. One thing I learned early on in my Kenyan travels is that if you are going somewhere you better be prepared for a very bumpy ride.  You also need to start out early in the morning say by the break of day since it isn't advisable for foreigners to travel after the sun goes down.  The sun rises and sets like clock work each day and the sun goes down about 6 p.m every day.  the other thing to bear in mind is that it takes a lot longer to travel shorter distances than it does in North America.  I think this is due to heavy traffic and frequent traffic jams, road blocks and road checks by police, unforeseen roads conditions and so on.  Since my first trip to Kenya in 2007, the highway infrastructure has been very much improved.  But those improvements don't extend to the backwoods and back roads. Starting off early and getting to your final destination by 6 p.m. is still advisable. Otherwise be prepared with a place to spend the night.

In the first photo we are driving eastward out of Marigat and into the back country. Notice the road and we are not even out of town boundaries.

 




Despite how dry the area obviously is I found it quite beautiful.  It was very slow to travel and very dusty because we were travelling over the land and not always on roads. The earth was also very soft.

The man in the white shirt in the next photo is the local pastor, my host and escort for the tour of the borehole area.  The man in the blue shirt is my driver. They were discussing whether we should cross the stream.  In the end I walked across since the water wasn't that deep and I wanted to cool my feet.


I am absolutely fascinated by how a place can look uninhabited yet people will seemingly come out of nowhere. I'm also fascinated by where and people live and you see homes dotted everywhere in what seems to me like unlikely places but the people have probably been living there for centuries.

The inhabitants of the hut in the photo below had just done laundry and laid the items outside to dry.  It is the practice in the rural areas of Kenya to lay freshly washed clothes on the bushes and on the grass to dry rather than on a clothes line.  In the city they hang the laundered clothing on the line.  It doesn't take long for the clothes to dry in the heat. All over the countryside you will see people's washed clothes lying on the bushes or grass to dry.

I went into one of the thatched huts and was very impressed by how cool it was despite the blazing heat of the day.


The walls of the hut were decorated with news paper cut outs, the first I'd seen in a village home. Often I did see newspaper lining the walls like wallpaper, but not hung loosely as a decorative elements with the cut out designs.  I can tell by the items hanging on the wall like the kerosene lamp, the calendar with pictures, the alphabet letters and shopping bags, that this person really cared for her home. The hut was very small inside and was one round room.  It was also very cool inside.  What a relief it was to be out of the intense heat for few minutes on that very hot, dry day.


I am always delighted to see the local animals, both wild and domestic. I am not sure what kind of cows these are.   There appears to be several varieties of cattle in these photos.

 

After my visit to this area, I spent a few years trying to help these people get a borehole. Through my contacts in Kenya we found a consultant to produce a report to locate where the water was and identify where to build the borehole. 

All of this was rather expensive and I could not progress much further in the project with just my own finances.  I tried unsuccessfully to find donors through the local churches, including my own and also through my blog. I was finally able to find a group of service oriented Christians in Jamaica.  The Jamaicans travelled to Kenya for their own reconnaissance mission and the Kenyans thoroughly enjoyed hosting them, meeting them and travelling with them. The Jamaicans committed to getting the borehole completed and they were in fact able to move it along but they ultimately did not complete the project. I believe it proved too expensive for them and the major donor they were counting on in their church had to draw back. It took time and persistence but the local community in Kenya finally managed to get a group of believers in Israel to step in and bring the project to successful conclusion.

This huge ostrich was running around in the village. You don't want to get to close to an ostrich. I understand they have a very powerful kick.
 

I don't have an updated photo of the borehole as I was not directly involved at that stage of the process.  I was an interested person from afar and Pastor Jonah kept me generally updated through his contacts in that community.  I was unable to travel to the community again in my last visit to Kenya due to being very sick for much of my time there.

 
 

I did have one other connection to the pastor and his wife a few years later when they were in hospital ready to deliver their new baby, a first child. There were some complications and high medical costs and it was my privilege to be able to assist at the time. Since then most of the missions efforts have been focussed on assisting individual with the exorbitant medical costs they incur when seeking medical treatment.  The needs are very great and the available helpers is very small but the helps are extremely necessary.

In conclusion, I am very happy for the people who got their borehole after years of struggle and belief.  They have so little in the way of material things but now they have water and their daily lives have improved.  I am also happy that I didn't run away from such a big need and project. Though I cannot say that I did a lot;  I did what I could and I believe that big things come from small beginnings.  The people needed someone to listen to them, hold their hands, believe with them and try to find supporters for them so that they could one day have water. I was able to do some of those things and get them the consultant report which they really needed.  In the end, it was their sheer persistence, dogged determination, faith and their prayers and the many prayers of others, that helped to complete the project.

This is a post for Saturday's Critters.  It became about much more than the animals after I realized that the cows I was going to post about were a window into a much bigger story and I could not let the story go untold.

I hope you enjoyed it and that it inspires you to branch out in your dreams and visions of helping people.  Even small things are a huge help to someone.

 Thank you for stopping by. Have a safe weekend.




 

A Gentle Start to the Week

This was the view on Sunday evening as I headed out to do some late night grocery shopping and make a stop at a pharmacy a bit further afie...