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Friday, January 26, 2018

Ducks and More Ducks



These duck photos are from my archives.  They were all photographed at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC.



I love watching birds but I seldom get to see any variety. 
I have to travel a distance before I have any photo opportunities to capture birds other than pigeons, crows, seagulls and sparrows.



I guess that is true of anyone who is a city dweller and would like to photograph birds. 


I think the detail on the feathers of these ducks is so beautiful.




Joining in with Eileen and others at 


and

Thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Beautiful Nairobi Sky

African skies have some of the most beautiful sights


Today I'm featuring two fabulous sky shots taken by photographer
Curtis Masafu of Eyeland Pictures in Nairobi, Kenya.


Joining in with Skywatch Friday
 and
Friday Foto Friends
Happy weekend to you all!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Miss Sally ~ Home At Last!

I'm happy to say that Miss Sally (Part 1 here and Part 2 here) has made it home after almost a full month in hospital.  It was touch and go on several occasions but by God's grace Miss Sally has recovered and gone home.

Her discharge date was delayed by two days. The hospital had ordered some medicines from Nairobi and wanted to both administer the medicines and run tests to ensure a good red blood cell count.

January 22, 2018 ~ Miss Sally is overjoyed to be home again.


It has been difficult for me to focus on much over these past few weeks since Christmas other than Miss Sally's condition, my own sickness and praying for a few other needs. On good days I have done a lot of reading, crocheting or cooking and baking. On other days I've just managed to do a bit of house work here and there.


Lovely fields of green
near where Miss Sally was in hospital (near Bomet, Kenya).


Miss Sally is not out of the woods yet.  She will need to have a better diet and possibly supplements. If things don't improve consistently she will require more medications. If you feel led to help her in any way, kindly let me know. Otherwise we would appreciate your prayers for Miss Sally.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

While my sickness with cold and flu bug has dragged on I don't feel up to doing the usual things. I've spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the word but have also spent a lot of time watching television and programming on Netflix. I managed to watch two full seasons of The Crown and enjoyed it very much. Claire Foy does a fantastic job of humanizing the Queen while maintaining the dignity required of a Queen.  The cast of actors are all fabulous.

I'm on a free trial for Netflix and it expires this week. I would like to cancel my television channels and subscribe to Netflix or other streaming service but am waiting for high speed internet to be available in my building. I hope I won't have to wait too much longer as it has already been years, yes you read that right. I've been waiting years for the high speed internet. When I first moved into my building we had the fasted internet speed in the area and in much of the city. I felt quite smug, lol. That didn't last because now we have the slowest internet in the area. It still pretty good considering but I'll want the much faster speed if I am going to rely on the internet for watching television and movies. I would then upgrade to unlimited internet data for home use.

When I'm confined to the house during illness I tend to want junk food or comfort food, especially late at night. I haven't been buying "treats" because of the high cost and also for health reasons.  Instead I'm doing some baking here and there. though I haven't exactly made healthy options, I can do things like reduce the amount of sugar used and so on.  I can also freeze some and eat it later.  I did some baking today.  The results are in the photo below.

I must be on a health upswing as I made three different treats

First up was something called Butter Cake. It was the first time I'd heard of it.  I came across the recipe when searching for a simple, basic cake.  It was quite tasty but I doubt very much I will make it again. Too much butter for me.  I really don't know what I was thinking because I wanted a lemon cake to use up some of my lemons. I did use some freshly squeezed lemon juice in the batter but the butter overwhelmed the lemon flavour I was after. Oh well, next time I will make sure to make a plainer cake with lots of lemon.

I also made a dozen blueberry muffins and a few dozen jumbo raisin cookies. Most of these will be frozen and used as needed.  I far prefer home made muffins to store bought ones. I only like the store bought muffins at high end places. Otherwise they tend to have a lot of oil or a lot of air. I like my muffins with a bit more substance.  Same with cookies. I don't like sweet cookies and I do like to have them large so I can dunk them in tea or coffee. These are also good to take with me when I run errands and I need a snack.




The muffins and cake were baked in silicone muffin and loaf pans.  
Personally I don't like silicon pans as much as I like the tin or metal ones. 
I find they completely change the texture of the food.
If you are a baker have you noticed any difference?

Joining with Our World Tuesday 

Pictorial Tuesday

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sally's Miracles - Part 2

This is Part 2 of the story of the elderly lady named Sally that I introduced you to about a week ago. If you missed Part 1 and are interested you can pick up the beginning of story here.

I left off in Part 1 by saying how Sally began having health issues and had to be admitted to hospital more than once.  I guess that can hardly be surprising at the ripe old age of  103 years but she had been a vibrant, energetic woman throughout her life so this was a new thing.  Sally began having unexplainable fainting spells and weakness.  Once admitted to hospital she was alternatively placed in a private ward or an in Intensive Care Unit depending on her particular condition which would change if she was in the hospital for any length of time.

A week and a half or so before Christmas 2017 she was discharged to go home from one of her hospital stays.  She was extremely happy because she wanted to spend Christmas in her own home. Of course anyone can understand that. But it wasn't meant to be. Within just a  few short days she returned to the hospital and has been there ever since.

Skies above Utali College, Nairobi, Kenya, January 18, 2018.
  Now comes what I feel is a very miraculous aspect to this story.

These Kenyan skies give a feeling of peace. Taken January 18, 2018.

I  had gone to sleep rather late on Christmas Eve and was awakened at approximately 5:50 Christmas morning. In Kenya the time would have been approximately 4:50 p.m. Christmas Day.  I awoke with a song playing through my head (Song: This is Just What Heaven Means to Me).  I felt led to pray for Miss Sally.  I knew from previous experience that this meant that Sally was struggling with life and likely on her way home to Heaven.  Yet I had been roused from sleep and felt the need to pray for Sally so I did. Shortly after prayer I went back to sleep. 

Another Nairobi sky, January 18, 2018.

Later that same day, I chatted with my Kenyan friend and asked some questions. Through the process I learned that Sally almost went home to be with her maker at precisely the same time I had been roused to pray for her.  But she rallied and ultimately lived through the day and was at that moment stablilized

I was very grateful. Grateful to hear Miss Sally was still amongst the living and grateful that I did pray for her too



I remember saying to my friend that I was glad that the family did not have to lose their loved one on Christmas Day. If that had happened they would always remember Christmas Day as the day that they lost their mother or grandmother.  I also said at the time that we do not know how long Miss Sally would live and remain on earth but we knew that God had answered prayer and he would determine how many days she would have left.

Since that time Miss Sally has had a few medical ups and downs. We thought she might be discharged at one point but later she lost strength and was ultimately sent to another city, as if often the case in Kenya, for MRI and other tests. They found that she has a very low red blood cell count and have been administering appropriate treatments.  But they also think there might be some kind of a spinal issue.  The doctors are thinking Sally may be released if her blood pressure stabilizes but she will need to return frequently as an outpatient for check up and  treatment.

We continue to pray for her and she seems to be improving daily.

I conclude this story by stating how strong Miss Sally's faith has been throughout this time. On the days when she has been able to talk and is aware of everything, she prays for the needs of others, sings songs of praise and encourages her family members to walk uprightly and in a Christian manner.  Her approach to life and her approach to dealing with these difficult days has been very inspiring. In fact, her ability to bounce back has been very surprising too to everyone, including the doctors.

I do not know how many days Miss Sally will be given but I thank God that I have been able to help her and that her faith has remained strong throughout.  It is very inspiring to walk with Sally through these latter days of her life

Now since it is Skywatch Friday I want to leave you with some a few more sky photos from Vancouver, British Columbia where I live.

This is the sky on Thursday afternoon So dark and foreboding.

If I look further up, I see there actually is some blue sky above.

I was lucky enough to capture a seagull in flight.


It has been raining heavily on and off over the last few days but the temperatures are about 5 degrees warmer than the usual temperatures at this time. That's what I learned on the late night weather report recently.  Thank you for dropping by. I do appreciate each and every one of you who visit and leave a comment.



Joining  in with

Skywatch Friday 



Update: Friday January 19/17 - I've received word that Sally is to be discharged this weekend. The hospital is waiting for medications sent from Nairobi. The medications are expensive.  I am helping with the full hospital bill and required medications but I need help for future medication needs. If there is anyone that feels led to help Sally into the future please do get in touch with me.
Otherwise, I understand.
Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, January 15, 2018

What's Happening This Week?

While I've been convalescing I have been very busy with my hands. I've already shared some photos in this post but have added to my work.

Another crocheted afghan. This is another lap cover for when one is watching television on a chilly night. I've spread it across an armchair so you can see the colour and the pattern.

This is Toffee Brickle in Caron Big Cakes yarn.



It took awhile for these colours to grow on me but now I really like the blend because the brightness "lifts" the grey, cloudy days when there is little to no sunshine outside. I enjoy this pattern once past the first 2-3 rows and have already purchased yarn in Mint Fudge colour to make a 3rd and final afghan for the year. I haven't started making it yet.

I also made several knitted dishcloths. I seem to go through quite a lot of these.


It's probably because I like to hand wash all the dishes rather than put them through the dishwasher. I also use a bit of bleach in the wash water. It's something my mother did and I now do.  The bleach is rinsed off with very hot water after the dishes are washed.  When I was a young teenager in Home Ec. class I never forget the teacher telling us that "many" people got sick from germs on the dishes. I don't know where she got that information but it makes sense. I don't recall the teacher using any bleach but I do remember her being very focussed on germs and the need for sanitation and sanitary conditions in the kitchen.

Once I have a bit of a rest, I plan to make a few simple tops and pants for myself in linen, rayon and cotton. These are obviously for the warmer temperatures ahead *smile. I've started cutting out the pants but didn't feel much like working on the clothing over the past few days.

In the meantime, I finished reading this "cosy" mystery. I was correct in my assessment of "who dunnit" but the book kept the mystery quite well until the end.



The next book I'm reading is called Refuge about a daughter and father relationship written from the point of view of the daughter who escaped Iran and  made a new life first in America, then in the Netherlands.  I've started reading it and I already like the author's style of writing so I'm looking forward to getting into it further.

This is a description from Amazon
An Iranian girl escapes to America as a child, but her father stays behind. Over twenty years, as she transforms from confused immigrant to overachieving Westerner to sophisticated European transplant, daughter and father know each other only from their visits: four crucial visits over two decades, each in a different international city. The longer they are apart, the more their lives diverge, but also the more each comes to need the other's wisdom and, ultimately, rescue. Meanwhile, refugees of all nationalities are flowing into Europe under troubling conditions. Wanting to help, but also looking for a lost sense of home, our grown-up transplant finds herself quickly entranced by a world that is at once everything she has missed and nothing that she has ever known. Will her immersion in the lives of these new refugees allow her the grace to save her father?
 

On my reading list for later in the week.




What about you dear reader?
What has been keeping you busy?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments box.


For those reading Sally's story, I will post the next installment soon.
Part 1 can be found by clicking here.
Thank you for your interest. 

Joining with Our World Tuesday.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Sally's Miracles ~ Part 1

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 

Mark 1:35 (ESV) 

~~~~~~~~

Some of my long time readers know that I do some missions work in the country of Kenya, East Africa.  I've been doing small projects here and there for approximately 10 years.  The work is done on a small scale and I do not have any financial partners in carrying out the work though from time to time friends have assisted.

The sky is beautiful almost every day here and you will often find goats in the middle of the highway near Marigat (north of Nakuru) in Kenya.





During the 10 year period, I have been engaged in many different aspects of humanitarian work and in all cases I work with local pastors and lay leaders in small villages. Primarily the work has been based in and around the small city of Kericho in the Great Rift Valley but has also extended to the northern and northeastern areas of Kenya where the Pokot and Samburu peoples live.  From time to time, the work has also extended to small cities and towns like Garissa (near the coast), Nakuru (northeast of Nairobi), Olenguruone (in the SW Mau National Reserve), Narok and Bomet near the Masaii Mara National Reserve and in Nairobi City.


Street scene in Marigat, just opposite the market.


The work is challenging due to lack of financial support but for anyone who has a calling you know that you press on despite the challenges and trials and you pray a lot for God to help you meet the call.  I believe that God placed a burden in my heart for the people of Africa and for the people of Kenya in particular.  I pray for God's leading and direction and help for

No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:62 (ESV)

I want to be faithful in what I am doing but I also want to be fruitful. 
In that I must trust that God leads me to those he would want me to help and and encourage. 

The life in the villages in Kenya is very difficult indeed. 
While the country is very rich in resources and there are many well to do people, the poverty level is extremely high and unemployment is at a rate which would be totally unacceptable in the west. 

The last time I checked, unemployment was at approximately 70 percent and the World Bank reported that 45.5 % of  Kenya's population lived in poverty.  Many Kenyans have pursued higher education despite great sacrifice as a way to try and become employable but even those who graduate from university or other training have a very hard time finding a job. 

In a report I read last year, the daily newspaper stated that on average it took 5 years for graduates to find work. Approximately 80% of the country's population is under the age of 35 so you can guess that there is a very high dissatisfaction rate amongst the majority of Kenyans. 
At this moment, I happen to know several graduates ranging in ages from 24 to 39 years of age.  
Some of them have  multiple degrees but only one of them is employed and that was after years of short term jobs and trying to find stable employment. 
I hope this short overview of the country's poverty and unemployment situation gives you a bit of background into why my work though small is extremely important to those that receive it. 

Over the past decade my work has transitioned from helping with educations costs for orphans, seeds and fertilizers for widows and single mothers, food relief for starving people in the north and those in Internally Displaced Peoples(IDP) camps.

These days most of my efforts are in helping people receive medical care.
This is an area where there is great need and the cost of one person's medical care is not inexpensive. 
In fact, I would say the cost of medicines and certain treatments costs the same as in Canada if one had to pay for it. In Canada we do have great medical insurance but we do not yet have a national drug plan and there are still the odd persons here and there who do not have insurance.

It is then easy to see why people need assistance with medical costs in Kenya. Otherwise they simply die.
Sometimes they die anyway as in the case of a few people we have tried to help over the past year.




About one year ago it came to my attention that a very elderly woman who lives near the town of Bomet, Kenya (near Narok which is located northwest of Nairobi.) was having difficulty with her eyes. 
She could no longer see very well and since she was living alone it was getting more and more difficult for her to collect firewood, make fire and feed herself.
The woman's name is Sally.
Sally is 103 years old and the mother to 12 children, 9 of whom are still living.  She has been a Christian for approximately half of her life and is a staunch believer in prayer and in living a Godly life.
 I am not sure how many grandchildren and great grandchildren she has but they are all in dire economic straits as approximately half of the country's population.

I asked my youth pastor friend to please take Sally to the missions hospital in Tenwek for an eye check. 
At Tenwek they attempted treatment but Sally's was a difficult case and they referred her to Sabatia Eye Hospital in the western part of Kenya.
Sabatia Eye Hospital is only one of two eye hospitals in Kenya. The other, called Lions is located in Nairobi. 
Sabatia is located in Vihiga in Western Kenya (near Kakamega in western Kenya) and it offers both inpatient and outpatient services to patients who arrive from all over Kenya.



 (Promotional photo for Sabatia Eye Hospital)


 Going to Sabatia required a long bus journey and a stay of several days at the hospital lodgings which of course entails a lot more resources.  Time is needed to enable an eye assessment, eye surgery and follow up care.  
Sally did get the eye surgery she needed. It was very successful and she
was extremely happy.
In Kenya many of the elders do not look at the camera straight with their eyes. They mostly do not like their photos taken too and wonder what tourists and foreigners do with their photos. 
I can certainly understand that and have learned to ask first if it okay to take a photo.
In this case, my friend took photos at my request and after Sally's surgery, she gladly looked straight into the camera as if to show me that she can now see.

Sally shortly after returning from eye surgery. She was suffering from a bout of malaria in this photo.

  At Sally's advanced age, she is still able to take care of her personal needs but was finding it harder to go long distances to collect firewood and to safely cook over the fire.
I felt led to do what I could to help her in her day to day life. 
Sadly, just today I read in the Kenyan paper how an elderly woman of 77 years of age fell into the fire while trying to cook and died. Unfortunately no one heard her and her grandson found her later after he arrived home from school. 

There are many issues related to cooking in Kenya but I will say that for another day.
For now, I focus on Sally's story.

After Sally returned home from Sabatia Eye Hospital I asked my friend if he would assess Sally's household needs so she could be made more comfortable in her old age.

He let me know her house was in need of repairs, she needed a water filter, a new bed and chairs.
I agreed and I also determined she needed new bedding and some warm clothing as it rains a lot where she lives.

My friend set about getting Sally's son and other relatives to assisting in the work that was needed and he went to buy the items. One of Sally's daughters was able to take care of the clothing requirements.
My friend also found a young female relative who needed a job who could help with collecting firewood, cooking and taking care of any of Sally's other needs.
 



When you buy goods and take them to the village you must usually walk a far distance from the road up paths  and through fields to your home. When it is wet or raining the paths can be very muddy.






In Kenya there is still  no national pension for old people though it is expected to begin sometime this month of January 2018. It will be a process before everyone over the age of 70 years of age will be enrolled and start receiving funds. Once established the elderly will receive approximately $28-30 Canadian dollars every other month. It isn't a lot but it will help the elderly to buy some basic food items.

Some of the gifts being presented to Sally. Her son looks on.
In addition to hiring a helper for Sally, we purchased a bed, mattress and bedding, and warm clothing. Sally already had wooden chairs but my friends purchased some plastic chairs which are easily moved in and out of the house to sit outside when the weather is agreeable.


See into the doorway where the mattresses are propped up. These photos were taken before the house repairs.

One of Sally's daughters looks on.

My friends also helped to hire people to clean, tidy and spruce up the humble home by making repairs to the mud plaster exterior walls and the tin roof.  

Iron sheets for the roof repair.
 
This is the house after repairs. The kitchen  (see far left in 1 of the photos above) has not been repaired.




Finally we were able to locate and purchase a large water filter though I am not sure it actually works properly and the funds may have been wasted.  The kitchen which is in great disrepair is a job that I was unable to deal with due to lack of funds.

Water filter made and sold by a local non-profit group.

It wasn't too long after all this work was completed when Sally started having health problems.
Since then she has been admitted into hospital several times.

 ~~~~
Given the length of this post, I will report more on Sally's hospitalizations in the next installment of her story.

Thank you for stopping by and for reading about Sally.
I hope you will come back for the remainder of the story.

~~~~~

Linking up with Friday Foto Friends



and 



Monday, January 8, 2018

My Week

It's been a busy week of homemaking and staying indoors as I'm still feeling a bit poorly. 

Alterations for my niece.

Baked cinnamon buns

Added frosting so I could use up the cream cheese. I didn't realize I put it on so messily.

Rustic bannock bread to go with the soup in the Instant Pot.

A version of comforting hamburger soup bubbling away.

Third book finished in 2018.


Second afghan under way.
I won't be making any more baked desserts as it isn't good for  my blood sugar but it sure tasted good!
I hope you are having a good week wherever you are.

Joining in with 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Two Loaves

I was surprised to discover I hadn't made any basic white bread for quite some time. Years in fact. I more or less know how long because I inevitably post the bread images and recipes here.  This bread I've made before and you can find it by using "bread" in the blog search box (upper left corner).  My last few bread baking sessions have focussed on making healthier breads but on Wednesday I felt like some good white bread.

I didn't think to take photos until the baking was done.  I could hardly wait to taste the bread but it needed to cool first. When I finally had a taste the bread was very moist inside and crunchy on the outside. Just perfect. Is there anything better than warm bread with butter or jam or both on a cool day? Next time I go shopping I will see if there is any multigrain flour in the shop. I haven't looked for it since the grocery store changed hands. If there is none I can purchase some whole wheat flour and perhaps a small bag of white flour too. In thinking about the title for this post it reminded me of the miraculous story of the five loaves and two fish, except instead of two fish I have two loaves *wink.  Many of you will know the story very well. Others of you may not have heard how Jesus fed a multitude of people (5000 people) on five loaves of bread and two fish that a young boy in the crowd had with him.   
 ~~~~~

John 6:10-14

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

~~~~~~

What an awesome miracle.
 I have an equally awesome miracle to share with you. A miracle that occurred over Christmas.  For sure, Jesus is still in the miracle working business. If you've ever been a part of a miracle you know how exciting it is.  I will share the story here on the blog so please visit again soon.
Deb and her readers at Friday Foto Friends might be interested in this story.




This week I was also reminiscing about the beautiful walks along the waterfront that I took in late Fall. We had a spectacular Fall season. I always enjoy Fall. I have a few photos of dogs and birds which I want to share with Eileen and participants in Saturday Critters.


Can you spot the dog and the geese?  There's also a seagull in the background on the rocks.



Last but not least, I'm sharing a fabulous sky from the first day of this year, 2018.
 It was a real delight to have such a fabulous sky greet me on the very first day of the year. 
It is very unusual because it is generally rainy season. Having said that the weather has now warmed up several degrees and so we are back to some rain.  The weather can change very quickly on the coast.

The first photo was what it looked like here on New Year's Eve Day and on New Year's Day.
The last photo was taken at twilight on January 1, 2018.

I am blessed to see the beautiful mountains whenever the sky is clear.


Thank you for stopping by and sharing a piece of your day with me.


African Music & Happenings