A Bit of Sunshine

We've broken records for rainfall in 2020 and I haven't felt much like taking photos.  When we get a few days of sunshine like we have over the past several days, it is a pure joy.

There were multiple signs of spring on a recent outing.  I don't think I've ever noticed these pussy willows in previous years.




I hurriedly snapped a few photos with my phone's camera of both the pussy willows and the croci.


Croci coming up

Indoors I'm babying these small Fiddle Leaf Fig plants purchased in December.  I've managed to keep them alive through the cold winter months and they will be ready to be repotted in a few weeks time.

Two new leaves have come out since mid-December (the small ones at the top).

When I purchased the two plants this one in the top photo didn't look like it would survive.  The large leaf at the top had some holes in it. I'm not sure what causes the problem but it doesn't seem to have gotten any worse. I've called her Mary.

The other plant looked healthier but was very slow to grow a new leaf. One has come out and a second one has been looking to sprout over the past week or more. It might take awhile longer.  I've called this one Harry and he is a big brother to Mary. 

I've heard it said that one should talk to their plants.  This idea has been around since the late 1800s and has actually been a subject of a small study. You can read more about it here.  I've never been one for talking to plants but I try it now and then. Truth be told, long ago when my late mom started growing indoor plants, she talked to them because she heard from someone that talking to them helped them grow.  She had tremendous success with her plants.


The smaller, lighter green leaf in front is the new one. Can you see the little green shoot coming out?

I'll be linking up with Skywatch Friday this week.

 Thank you for stopping by.

Welcome to February

Hi friends,

Time is flying by. I'm glad to see the backside of January and say 'welcome' February. January ushered in the New Year quite rudely in my life with sickness (a lingering cold and a weird skin infection for which I've gone to the doctor and a specialist), my nephew's near death accident, a compromised credit card (usual process of investigation is ongoing and I have received my new card), very stormy weather in Canada and in my province with road closures due to heavy snowstorms (highways were closed more than once), record rainfall with accompanying landslides and other destruction (one parking lot crumbled behind a restaurant not too far from me and now the powers that be have decided to shut the restaurant down due to the uncertainty of land stability), the onset of the worldwide global health crisis (my province has tested 114 people and confirmed one case of the coronavirus; Canada has 4 cases overall with 3 in Ontario).  I thank God that through it all he has preserved me and my family and I look forward with gratitude to what lies ahead.




I want to thank all of you who have prayed for my nephew's recovery. It is remarkable how God not only preserved him from death but is helping him recover. What was first thought to be a broken shoulder was found to be dislocated and reconnected. He has been released from hospital and is recovering at home.  I ask for continued prayers that he doesn't suffer any long standing damage to bones and tissue from the heavy blow his body and that God would provide for all the needs of his family.  I give thanks to God and those who prayed for him. I do not know how long it will be before he can return to work but he is well on his way to recovery and all of his family is grateful.

In late January my friend Eunice in Kenya also suffered a setback. I somehow feel this may have been deliberate negligence of the hospital which is responsible feeding her the special diet we provide and also giving her medication and water. She became severely dehydrated and we then had to provide several bags of  IV fluid. Private hospitals and hospital in general are notorious for bilking the patients and finding all kinds of reasons for charging more money for this and for that, much of it unnecessary. Now today I learned that over the weekend she has been suffering from cold and I'm not certain whether she has not had enough blankets or whether she has malaria. Jonah has had to camp at the hospital to ensure that she is getting proper care.

This poor woman has been through a lot but through it all God has preserved her. Her blood condition is in fact improving and it is unfortunate that this latest setback had to occur and cause fear and financial loss. Please continue to pray for her. At this point the hospital bill has grown enormously as we can only afford to pay for urgent interventions (IV, special diet, blood, hormone medication) and a privately hired nurse to ensure that we understand everything that we need to understand. Jonah is there to attend to much of Eunice's needs however as a man in his culture he is not permitted to do certain things and that is why we have hired a nurse who is also from Eunice's tribal group. (The Go Fund Me Campaign is still open if you can help with any of Eunice's costs. See side bar to the right of the blog).

I do not have a recent update on Ernest since his last surgery.  However he continues to be monitored at the hospital both for his leg and for the diabetes and to receive his medication each week at the hospital. Thank you to one of my blog readers for assisting us financially so that Ernest can get the food and other care he needs. It has been a huge blessing and a help.  Ernest has monthly food needs and medication which costs about $ 150 US funds monthly ($200 Canadian) at minimum. Once he is nutritionally stronger and he can stand on both legs, we hope he could work again as a barber.  If you feel you can help him on a regular basis, kindly let me know.

Jonah himself was sick and in hospital for about 5-6 days. He contracted some kind of bug from suspected contamination of water. He got very sick and tried OTC medicine before checking into hospital. Then he checked out of hospital to try and save funds. I insisted he return to hospital until the laboratory tests were available which he did and spent a further 2 days in hospital before feeling strong enough to discharge.

Finally, I have reported before about Alvin who is hoping to come to Canada to do a Master's program.  It has been a long and very involved and expensive process to assist Alvin, a young man in Kenya, to submit his applications to a university in BC. He has now submitted to 2 programs one located in Vancouver and another located in the Okanagan.  We are praying he will be accepted and one of the programs.  He is also looking for sources of funding both in Kenya and in Canada to help him pay for his studies and living costs. If anyone would like to help this international student kindly let me know.

~~~~


I didn't get a chance to review 2019 and post my reflections. Too much time has passed for that so I only wish to state I was looking forward to 2020 and an opportunity to work on new goals. I am making slow but steady progress on them.

I also wanted to share this little graphic about my reading goal for 2019. Some of you might remember my reading goals for 2019 was a modest 25 books. I deliberately set it low so that I could focus on real enjoyment of reading and if I read more that was a bonus.In 2020 amongst other goals I hope to read 45 books and am off to a good start.



I spent a lot of time in January cooking and trying new dishes. I also made a lot of bread as a way to reduce spending on groceries. I like to make yeast bread but as any of you who make bread knows, the process can take a long time out of one's day. I found this new to me recipe that allows you to make artisanal bread in just about one hour. I then experimented with it to make regular loaves of read for toast and sandwiches.  I'm quite pleased with how the bread has turned out in my experiments. These bread baking experiments are allowing me to use a large bag of flour, a lot of expired yeast (which is still proofing properly), save money on bread buying and enjoy some home baking.


These are the artisanal style loaves.

I shaped the dough into regular loaves but had to add more flour. I let it rise one extra time.


This recipe is No Knead, No Time Bread and only takes an hour or an hour and some minutes from start to finish. 
The bread turned out quite well after figuring out how to work with the sticky dough.
Here is the recipe if you would like to try it.

In closing I leave you with a view of the mountains today. The sky had a pretty pink glow.
Click photos to enlarge.

Short Update

Hi friends,

This will be a very brief update to let you know why I have been silent.

My eldest nephew, the horseman was in a very bad accident yesterday (Sunday) in Kamloops (5 hours north of where I live).  The weather was very cold and stormy which is unusual weather for Kamloops even at this time of year. He was hit by a train while out looking for horses in distress.  My nephew's horse took the brunt of the force from the train and my nephew was thrown into the air and then the ground. The horse is dead and my nephew suffered physical damage but he is alive. He is awake and he is talking but cannot remember much. Please keep him in your prayers or send good thoughts. It is a miracle he survived the accident.

My my nephew and his wife (Photo credit: Candace C)

Also yesterday I learned that one of my primary credit cards was compromised. I signed up for email alerts every time my card is charged so I learned about this fraudulent charge almost right away.  The charge was significant and made to a university in England, a university I have never even heard of before.   I had to spend some time with the bank yesterday and it being Sunday it took more waiting time than usual. But at least the card is cancelled.

The weather is very bad across the province right now. It means that the mountain highways will be very dangerous. In Vancouver where I live, we have had snow off and on since last Friday.  The first snowfalls of the year.  There was even a warning to keep off the city roads if you were not prepared for challenging driving.  In this city the roads become like ice rinks once the temperatures drop given the dampness of the climate.  My brother and I are hoping that once the new card arrives and the snow and wind storms pass through the province we will make a quick trip to see my nephew.  He needs a few days to rest and get stronger before he would be comfortable with visitors anyway though I understand he had some today.

Downtown Kamloops in snowstorm

My general neighbourhood, note the ice on the streets.

In Vancouver we do salt or sand the roads and sidewalks but things still get very messy and icy.




* None of the photos were taken by me.

In Kenya, Jonah who I've been working with for many years has contracted some kind of bacterial infections likely caused  by contaminated food. He has been in hospital since late last week and now that lab tests are back he is on the proper medication and has also received IV fluids. My friend Eunice is still in hospital and so no one has been able to attend to her while Jonah has been sick. Still praying for her recovery. If anyone can assist with her medical costs the Go Fund Me page is still open (see the side bar at the right). Ernest, the man with the injured leg had to have a 2nd surgery as his leg was not straight after the first surgery and months of healing. I don't have an update on how he is doing at the moment but will update when I can. Last but not least, my young friend Alvin, has been busy preparing his university applications for study in Canada, study scholarships and is looking for work in Kenya. I pray for his success.


Thank you for stopping by. I hope regular posts can resume before the end of the month.


The Gardens of Versailles Palace


Hello everyone and welcome to 2020, the beginning of the new decade ahead. 
May it be a wonderful year (and decade) for us all.
It is always exciting to start a new year full of promise and our hopes and dreams.

I hope to make progress on some of my own modest goals toward living a better life.  I usually set a few goals at the beginning of each year.  It gives me a sense of satisfaction when I achieve them and when I see that I am using my time well and learning a few new things along the way.

 However big or small, may you also be able to make progress on your goals.  
Whether you set yearly goals or not, it's likely that you have some ideas about things you would like to do or see happen in the coming year.

 I will be taking a few weeks in this month to really consider how I want to approach the year and to set a few goals.
In the meantime I am in reflection and preparation mode. I spent a lot of time looking at planners and finally purchased one which should be arriving any day now.


 With the first post of the decade I am resuming my travel posts for the travel I commenced almost one year ago..
I didn't blog as much in 2019 as I normally do, thus I didn't post about as many things as I was hoping to post.

This first post is about the gardens of Versailles in Versailles, France.
It is part of a travel series on my trip to Paris and Versailles in France and to Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa in January and February 2019.
(Please click on each photo to enlarge).



In 1662, Louis 14th, entrusted a man named André Le Nôtre to create and renovate the gardens of Versailles. The work on the gardens started at the same time as the work on the palace and lasted about 40 years. Le Nôtre collaborated with a few other men on different aspects of the project and I understand the King himself reviewed each project (and presumably approved) as he was keen on the details of the gardens.


Having walked some of the gardens and taken the on site train to other parts of the garden, it is clear to see just how massive the gardens are and to appreciate what a monumental task it was to create and renovate such splendid gardens. Soil had to be moved to create level places, parterres like the one above had to be created, fountains and canals had to be dug and built and trees brought in from various regions in France. The work occupied thousands of men, sometimes even entire regiments took part in the building of the gardens.

Once you step outside you have a pretty good idea of the massive grounds you are about to cover. I decided I could not walk that far as I was struggling even with my walking poles. Fortunately I found a small train that would transport me to the next major part of the grounds, Le Petit Trianon.

The train is a hop on and off train and costs 8 Euros. The train does not cover the entire gardens. Make sure you know where it goes before you use it as many tourists get upset when they discover the limitations. For me, the train was a God send and I thought it was worth the cost to save my knees especially as I had no idea how far I might have to walk. Besides I was already tired from the hours spent walking inside the palace.

The train runs approximately every 20 minutes and you catch it to the left or west of the center of the Palace.  You will see a small ticket booth and queue to help you know where it is. Here is a link to all the information in English about the train.



Below is a map of the Gardens of Versailles.  If you locate the center of the palace and let your eye wander straight down the middle you will see the majority of what I've been showing in this post and my last travel post here.




I was very much in awe of the expansiveness of the palace and the grounds on which it sits. 
The statuary and fountains are magnificent. 
It was also wonderful to see the bird life enjoying the fountains.





 These people are walking in the direction of Le Petit Trianon.
 Le Petit Trianon is where Marie Antoinette spent much of her time.
My next post will show you a bit of what I saw there.


Thank you for your visit.
I wish you an excellent week ahead.


Just Before We Usher in 2020

 Happy New Year everyone!!!

I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas.
The time has gone by so quickly and now the new year is upon us.
I have a New Year's prayer for you as you move into 2020.



I had a nice Christmas with family members and post Christmas with friends of mine. 
It is nice to spend time with loved ones over the special holidays.

I also went with my nephew and my brother to visit my niece in Kamloops, BC.
It is about 4.5 or 5 hours drive from where I live.
The roads were great and the weather was fine as well.

The snow started falling while my niece and I were at the newest (and last) Star Wars movie.
The city looked like a winter wonderland that evening as we exited the movie theatre.

I had the very best sleep that I can recall in recent memory at a new to me hotel.
It was nice to feel refreshed and rested.

I took a few photos to share with you. 
I hope you enjoy them.

These photos were all taken along the Coquihalla Highway about 10 minutes north of the Town of Hope, BC.





 


 I haven't had a chance to make the next post my travel series because time passed so quickly over the holiday.
I hope to resume the travel posts early in 2020.


The next time I post, we will have turned a corner and entered the next decade.
My hope and prayer is it will be a wonderful, healthy and peaceful decade for each of you.

Many blessings.
♥♥♥





Christmas Happenings 2019

Christmas draws ever closer. I hope you are all enjoying the festive season thus far.

I am enjoying everything and the pace of activities. It isn't quite as quiet as I had hope but that isn't so much because of Christmas activities. It has more to do with unexpected events and timelines concerning my dental work. After all the planning and waiting for insurance approvals and so on, it turns out I can't get a bridge after all. Or at least I've decided not to proceed with it after discussing with my dentist.  One of my teeth is not so strong and over the long term the bridge isn't a good solution. The alternatives are a partial denture or an implant. I've decided to go for the partial and have talked to the dentist about possibly doing an implant in the future.  Unfortunately, this unfinished business will be going with me into the new year though I had hoped to complete the dental work in 2019.  At least I have now have a firm plan of action and I am comfortable with the way forward.

I finally completed the book on Coco Chanel. I say finally because when I really enjoy a book I can finish it within a few days even if I'm busy. But this book took me a few weeks to read. It was interesting and very detailed. I think the detail put me off a little because Coco Chanel lived a very long life.  Of course, like most people, the events in her life were repeated a few times over the decades of her life. So the book was a bit repetitive in that way but necessarily so.  Her rise to prominence is made more interesting because she lived during the WW2 and she retired for a long while before resurrecting her career and focussing on inroads with the United States.  Besides discovering these things I also discovered a lot of things I didn't like about Coco Chanel.  However, one thing is clear.  She achieved a lot and she left a lasting legacy despite not having any children of her own to carry on the business.  The author of this book did a good service in writing such a detailed and well researched book about Coco Chanel.



On Sunday afternoon I joined a friend for the one and only Christmas concert I planned to attend this year. It was quite enjoyable and different from what I usually see.  My friend and I enjoyed the concert and we exchanged some small gifts with each other.


The concert itself  featured JS Bach's joyous cantata BWV 62 ‘Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland’. It also featured Christmas works by Poulenc, Chilcott, Rutter, plus audience singing.  Next year I plan to try and see a Christmas program featuring harpists. It is a very popular concert here and generally gets sold out each night.

Some of you might remember I purchased 2 small fiddle leaf fig trees. I was a bit concerned about tending to them over the cold winter months. They are tropical plants that need very precise and favourable conditions in which to thrive. I'm happy to report that one of the two plants, the one that looked less healthy, is actually sprouting a new leaf. Can you see it in the center? I am very happy about this and I hope I can continue to nurture it through until repotting is necessary in the spring.


A few years ago I saw a humongous Christmas cacti in the window of a barber shop and it was in full bloom. It looked so beautiful that I had to find myself one and see if I can get it to that point too.  I purchased a small Christmas cacti about one week ago and right now all the blossoms are coming out. I heard that they only bloom at Christmas.



I have finally been able to coordinate and organize a short trip with close family members to visit out of town for a few days. I'm looking forward to seeing my niece and she is looking forward to going to a movie with us and a good old family visit.
🎄 🎄🎄


I don't usually do much baking at Christmas but this year I decided to make Christmas bark. Later I may also make some dream bars (my late mom's recipe).  I made the bark last night and it was so delicious and surprisingly easy. I thought you might like to try it too.



Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. (225 g) Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 pkg. (170 g) Baker's White Chocolate
  • 1 cup chopped toasted almonds, divided into 2 batches
I also added about one half cup of chopped, dried cranberries to to each batch of chocolate

Directions

  1. Microwave semi-sweet chocolate in microwaveable bowl on MEDIUM 1 to 2 min. or until almost melted; stir until completely melted. Repeat in separate bowl with white chocolate. Stir 1/2 cup nuts into chocolate in each bowl.
  2. Drop spoonful’s of chocolate mixtures alternately onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet; swirl gently with knife.
  3. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces.

TIP: Prepare as directed, substituting pecans for the almonds, and stirring 1/4 cup each dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots into the melted white chocolate before spooning onto prepared baking sheet as directed.
Substitute toasted flaked coconut for the chopped almonds.
How to Store: Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.


Joining Our World Tuesday today.

That's all for now blogging friends.
In my next post I hope to continue with the travel update.
Thanks for stopping by.
Enjoy the week ahead.
♥♥♥



The Palace Tour Continues Through the Hall of Mirrors and Out to the Gardens

There is so much to see at the Palace of Versailles, Versailles France that I doubt very much you can capture everything in photos or in sightseeing all in one day. The Palace and the grounds are the kind of place that requires you to return often to enjoy it in the different seasons. If you live close to Versailles or you happen to be visiting, you are lucky you can enter the gardens free of charge and spend the day if you like. It's a wonderful place to spend time.

As you can see by my photos, the weather was quite overcast. It was a Winter's day in January 2019 but I found the weather perfect. In fact, indoors with my coat on it was too warm but outside it was drizzling rain and I found myself dressed just right.

I left off in my last post here just as I was about to enter a very special place in the palace.


 

 The Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France. As the principal and most remarkable feature of King Louis XIV of France's third building campaign of the Palace of Versailles, construction of the Hall of Mirrors began in 1678.


 



The Hall of Mirrors or La Grand Galerie in French, is a massive room.  It measures about 240 feet long and 34 feet wide and has a 40-foot ceiling. On one wall, 357 mirrors stretch from floor to ceiling. On the opposite wall, 17 large glass doors offer breathtaking views of  Versailles sprawling gardens.  I took care not to look outside as I wanted to have my first real view when I exited the palace.
 

 The decoration of the Hall of Mirrors was completed in 1686 by  Le Brun and is a tribute to the military victories which led to the peace treaties of Nijmegen





 The palace houses many fabulous paintings, statues and furnishings. Most of the paintings are of the various battles and wars in which France was involved.
The salons are very impressive.




I honestly didn't get to spend as much time in the palace as I would have liked. After a few hours I was getting hungry and also very tired. The crowds seemed to be growing. When I exited the palace to look for a place to eat, this was my view.


I found a small bistro in one of the adjacent buildings and there I had something to eat. I don't remember what but I do remember having a nice coffee.

When I got outside to the gardens it seemed they stretched on forever in front of me.








 After assessing the size of the gardens and the time of day I had to make a quick decision about what to see next.
I'll share that in my next post.

So glad you stopped by.
Please come again soon as I'm trying to post a few more of my travel photos before the end of the year.
There are just so many photos to sort through and to try and select a few. I may come back and edit (add or delete photos and update narrative).

Joining in this week with 

A Bit of Sunshine

We've broken records for rainfall in 2020 and I haven't felt much like taking photos.  When we get a few days of sunshine like we h...