Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Life and Sky Updates & Thoughts on Happiness

Hi friends,

The rain, gray skies and coldish weather has continued all week so far. It means I didn't get out for new photos.
I'm sharing some from a few weeks ago when I baked some bread and took some photos of the sunrise.

I'm kept fairly busy with trying to ration the food stuff in the home so we don't need to go out to shop that often. I  also kept busy trying to find something to plant in the garden. This wasn't as easy as in years past due to the line ups to get into stores and also just the fact that there seems to be less on offer or things are sold out.  At least the things I want. I spent an hour in line on Friday to get what I hoped was the last of the things to put together a semblance of a garden. I may need to go once more to find the rest of what I'd like but I'll try to make do.  Here at home it looks like some restrictions will ease soon.  Personally I will continue to take great care until we are more assured of the future outlook. In the meantime I've got plenty to keep me busy.

In addition to being busy baking, cooking and tending the garden  I'm also spending a lot of time in contact with people in Kenya that I try to help.  The end of the month keeps me very busy in that regard. Many had difficult lives before Covid - 19 but the restrictions and curfews make finding daily bread even more difficult, very difficult. If any of you would like to help with a donation toward the Kenyan needs kindly be in touch at the email on the right side bar. I know not everyone can help or even wants to help. But if you do then the option and opportunity is available.

 I am often awake at sunrise.  This is usually the best time to get my sky shots.  
I love it when the gulls are flying around in the morning before the day gets busy. 
I always wonder what they are doing, seeing and even whether they think about what they are seeing. 
They seem to enjoy circling around in the air before everyone else comes out to make 'noise'.
I get the sense of their enjoyment by the way they fly and glide around and make a lot of bird calls. 
They seem to know exactly when it gets busy with traffic and people because they abruptly stop flying around until next morning returns.


It is also a joy for me to see a sky full of different clouds and colours.
This is one of the
more beautiful ones I've captured in awhile.

I found this little graphic that lists 10 ways to be happy. 
  I've employed many of these strategies in my own life though I hadn't seen this graphic, lol.  I have to say that I very seldom suffer from unhappiness.
I know some people find it easier to be unhappy than to be happy.
Unless one has a serious mental disorder or is grieving the loss of a loved one, I think happiness is a choice one makes and an effort to do certain things to avoid feeling down and depressed.  Happiness takes some effort because many people, including me,  are not chipper by nature.  I don't roll out of bed each morning and greet the day eager to get at it.  But I am thankful for each and every blessing including the simple act of waking up each day.  The alternative of not waking up and having another day to enjoy on this earth is one I hope remains in the far distant future.
Being happy takes effort but at the end of the day I think it is well worth it.


I will link up with Skywatch Friday later this week.
Thank you for taking a moment out of your day to stop by and visit my blog.

 Stay safe and be happy.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Kazan Blossoms

Time unfolds and marches on quickly and often in ways you don't expect. 
One of the things I did not expect this year was an inability to make time for taking photos of the beautiful cherry blossoms.

I missed out on the opportunity to photograph the Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry) tree blossoms in late March and during the month of April I stayed inside more than ever.  So I was pleasantly surprised to capture these beautiful Kazan blossoms on a late night shopping expedition (between 7-8 p.m.).
I had to lighten them a bit because the sun had already set.  They aren't as clear as I'd like but they bring me joy nonetheless.

The Kazan blossoms are very beautiful especially on a clear sunny day because of the double, showy blossoms.  Apparently this tree can grow to heights of 30 feet and can also spread for 30 feet. They are definitely beautiful to look at but the leaves and blossoms are poisonous to dogs.  They contain Cyanogenic glycosides, which is a toxin that prevents oxygen from being properly absorbed and transported by the cells.

The forecast is for pouring rain all weekend. In fact I felt a few drops Friday night. 
If the weather clears I will see if I can get any photos of Kazan blossoms next week with my camera as opposed to the phone camera.

Have a wonderful weekend.
Stay safe

Thursday, April 23, 2020

There Is Life Out There

Sitting indoors and not seeing anyone, one can start to think nothing is happening out there. But as I worked in my garden earlier this week and looked up, I saw the birds flying and the trees opening their buds.

It seems a bit late for the buds to be blooming this year but the timing is good for me as I'm only just now getting the patio garden in.

Stay safe.
Have a blessed Friday weekend.

Linking up with Skywatch Friday this week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

My World Tuesday

Hi friends,

I hope you are all doing well and finding ways to keep happily occupied.  What follows is a general summary of  how I'm coping with the lock down and how the province as a whole is coping.  It is  not a pity party or a complaint, just the reality of things at the moment. It probably looks and sounds quite similar to what is going on in your part of the world.

Since we've been told to only go out for essentials I really try to stay home. I don't even go for a walk. In the beginning I went shopping once a week and went to 2-3 places to try and buy everything I wanted.  Now I don't bother with that.  If I don't find something at one place, chances are it isn't at the 2nd or 3rd place and I don't want to expose myself to too many people.  These days I am going out about once every 8-10 days to one grocery store.  I also go to the pharmacy every other week for eggs, milk and some small things I may need.

Just before Easter weekend I noticed that we had to queue at all the shops and pharmacies. I thought it was due to larger numbers of people out on a sunny, long weekend.  But I've learned that it seems to be the new normal for grocery shopping.  It helps with social distancing inside the store when they limit people who can go inside at one time.  They also mark where to stand in the line outside and that helps too because no matter what there are always those that just don't do the right thing.  For some reason this seems to make most people behave better and do the right thing.  I've been fortunate that the lines I've been in have been short and fast moving.

According to our head doctor who along with our Health Minister, gives a daily update on Covid 19, we have been flattening the curve in British Columbia over the past few days. She thinks that some restrictions can begin to be lifted by mid-May.  Even so she has been cautioning us that things will not go back to the way they used to be and there won't be any larger gatherings of probably more than 50 people throughout the summer (concerts, fairs, festivals, sporting events, weddings).  Our Prime Minister has also been saying that things won't be going back to normal until there is a vaccine available.

Right now all schools and universities are either closed or carrying out activities on line as best they can.  Governments are mulling over how to return children back to school but say that it won't be back to regular classroom sizes. More information to come in future for those parents who wonder.  Sadly many businesses are probably bankrupt. Though the government did provide assistance to many individuals and for many different purposes, I'm not sure exactly what happened as far as places like restaurants and small retailers go. Those are the ones that struggled almost immediately.  Then in the last few days we've been hearing about drastic reduction in public transit services (buses, sky trains/subway, sea bus and trains). There are also layoffs in many places. I'm sure this is a similar situation the world over so things will look very different in our communities in months to come.

I came across what I thought was an interesting short video about what Vancouver, British Columbia looks like during this time of quarantining. It may look like a ghost town and though most people are staying home there are people on the streets each time I go out.  I know there are people walking on the beaches where permitted.  The provincial parks were closed until further notice just before the long weekend to prevent people from crowding at the parks.  The large downtown park, Stanley Park is not open to the public at this time either though I think the smaller city parks remain open for the most part.  The community gardens in a park near me remain open for gardeners though I haven't been to mine yet.

My nephew who is doing his Ph.D. here has said his life is actually busier with all the teaching and other requirements that now have to be done on line. The university is even planning for graduation ceremonies on line.  I'm not sure what will happen to admissions for foreign students.  I  have a young friend in Kenya waiting to hear if he will be accepted to study at University of British Columbia. Sadly he did not receive an offer from the Vancouver based program.  He is waiting to hear about the program at the Kelowna campus of the university.  Kelowna is a resort town located about 5 hours north east of Vancouver.  If he gets an offer I think there will be other challenges that did not exist before Covid 19. But we take one step at a time.

The quarantine has brought out a lot of creativity in the way Canadians try to stay connected.  Have a look at this short video.

On Sunday I waiting for a cousin to come by with her friend and pick up 6 dining chairs which I've been holding for her for many weeks.  She lives about an hour and a half away and  I haven't seen her since my dear mom's funeral.  We couldn't even hug and so we just did our business at a distance and she left.  I am so glad that she took the chairs though.  The chairs were a gift from my mom and I really didn't want to get rid of them.  But after years of hanging on to them and not using them I just wanted to find a new home for them.  My cousin absolutely loves antique furniture and items with sentimental value so I know she will appreciate them.  Moreover she lives in a small town where people appreciate old time things antique furniture and decor items and quilts made with fabrics and yarns. She also says she knows someone who can do the minor repairs that the chairs need.

Sunday was the day I also started working in my patio garden. There is so much work to be done to clean all the debris from the garden and the many containers I have. Everything also needs to be washed, the patio tables and chairs as well as all the cushions and tablecloths. I do not bother washing the container pots since they quickly get dirty if it rains even once.  The furniture and containers have to be moved around and some of them are very heavy.  Then of course the 40L bags of soil amendment material is also heavy.  Even 20L weights quite enough.  The next day I could barely move or get up and down without a lot of pain. The past weeks of inactivity resulted in more impact on my slack muscles than usual but this too shall pass.  I did only a very little work on Monday and need to do a lot more before the patio garden can be considered ready.  I like using starter plants in the container pots but I was only able to buy 5 pots when I went out on Friday.  They were too expensive and the variety was just not there. Much of what was on offer was in baskets (lots of hanging baskets) and big tomato plants in buckets at a steep price.

I am not sure what I will find when I try to go out later this week. I do have some seeds but have basically run out of time to start the seeds. I bought them before the Covid 19 pandemic was announced and I just didn't have the get up and go to get started before now.   In fact I don't really have the get up and go now or even all the tools and materials but I have to get rolling or just forget about it all for this year.  Hopefully I can get everything planted soon.  I think I'll be spending a lot of the summer sitting on the patio. It it will be a good place to have my coffee, read my Bible and listen (quietly) to music.

Today I made some turkey rice soup with dumplings. I used the leftover turkey chunks and turkey bones from the Easter dinner. I didn't try to pretty it up so you can see some tendon or sinewy chunks in the soup.  I fish them out and throw them out after cooking.  This is only the 2nd time I've made dumplings in the pressure cooker. The first time I added the dumplings  at the beginning of the cooking process.  That didn't work.  The cooking time was too long and the dumplings fell apart.  This time I added the the dumpling at the end on the soup settings but without putting it under pressure.  The dumplings turned out well enough but next time they should be even better.  I read that you should let the batter rest before putting them on the soup. It is supposed to give time to the baking powder to work and make the dough fluffier.

I made big dumplings. The photo shows the soup after 2 dumplings were removed.

I used this recipe for a guide and added some herbs.
The recipe doesn't use butter but I saw a variation of this recipe using butter.

Take care and have a wonderful week ahead.
Stay safe. 

Joining with Our World Tuesday today.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sunday Scripture

This scripture (Isaiah 41:10) might give some of you comfort today.
(Please click the photo for a larger view).

Where I live we've had a few days of slowly flattening the curve regarding Covid 19.
We are told that some restrictions might lift as of next month but that there will be no large gatherings for the entire summer. For sure that means no festivals and no Fall Fair.


Have an awesome day and continue to stay safe.
I am hoping to spend some of my Sunday in the patio garden.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Sky Heaven

These photos were taken at sunrise on Tuesday.

 I never tire at looking at the sky.  There is usual something beautiful to look at up there and the colour and the clouds are always changing.

If you missed my last post and would like to read it you can do so by clicking here.  I appreciate you for your support of my blog and for your always kind comments. It has kept me blogging this far.

Joining in with Skywatch Friday this week.

Take care and stay safe. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

What Do We Do in These Times?

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

I trust you had a good Easter weekend and found things for which to be grateful and happy in this unique and somewhat trying time. Some people cope better than others. Introverts and people who don't mind spending time alone probably cope better than others who like to be around a lot of different people all the time.

Taken mid-April 2020

Personally, I am finding the quiet and curtailment of activities easy enough to deal with and I am not going stir crazy.  I am keeping myself occupied and in good spirits.  I think it is a combination of being an introvert and also a by product of my faith in God and his plans for my future.

I am also finding that I do not have as much free time as one would think. I'm keeping busy enough just trying to find the healthy foods I want at a good price, keeping up with food and house essentials which are usually not at a good price and cooking and finding creative ways to use what is on hand or what is available.  Then of course there is the time it takes to cook and prepare for meals and snacks every day and all the clean up afterwards. I think the clean up part is the most time consuming and some days I am more on top of it than others.  These basic tasks are enough to keep me busy but of course there is all the other household stuff to be done, loved ones and friends to check in with, and keeping on top of health and other needs. These activities are not really any different from what I would ordinarily do, but for some reason they seem to be taking more of my time.

I also do a bit of reading, a bit of planting or repotting of plants and binge watching Netflix or movies and other shows I recorded from the television. I am happy to say that my sleep has actually improved.  I now mostly sleep through the night and since I no longer have to be out, I can sleep until my body says "wake up".   In between I am doing "projects".  Just a little at a time as the ones I really need to get to are not fun projects and they require a lot of  thought and attention to detail.  At some point soon I also have to plant the gardens.  A relative promised to bring some top soil for me this weekend so it will likely be another week or two before I get to gardening.  I am a little bit behind my hoped for schedule but that is okay.  I'll likely have more time this summer to tend to the gardens if we continue to be restricted in our day to day activities. So far that seems to be the direction in which things are headed.

This was my community plot at the end of March 2019

I am also keeping busy with the Kenyan missions. The needs continue to be great especially during this time of Covid-19. God promises that we can put all our anxieties on him and it has kept us going through the challenging times. I  always envisioned  getting others involved in helping out in Kenya with the very very needy in the small villages.  So from time to time I try to encourage others to get involved.  If any of you are inclined to help I would be happy to hear from you. You can reach me with questions, comments or donations at the email located at the top right corner of this blog.

When others make an appeal for my help I like to know what the most important needs are and how much it costs.  I've provided a short summary of this information for you.  There are always other needs in addition to these key ones so feel free to give for other purposes (fertilizers, medicines, help with school tuition, food for orphans and widows etc.).  There are always other needs but the ones I've listed are the key ones.  Just a brief note about school tuition fees. Students and their parents paid tuition and school fees at the beginning of 2020 but shortly thereafter the schools were closed to in person attendance. However most students have been assigned homework and in some cases submit their homework on line for teachers to review. This is not  possible for the very poorest who have no internet access and the government hasn't yet put a plan in place though they said they are considering what to do for the students in this situation. In the meantime, in another short while I think the schools will want to collect tuition again since learning and services have been provided albeit in a different manner.

Currently the key needs in the Kenyan missions are:  monthly diabetes medications ($60 Canadian) for Ernest, hospital provided vitamins ($35 Canadian) for Ernest & nutritious foods ($45 Canadian) to help keep his  health stable.  Many Kenyans have very poor nutrition and when they get sick the results can be very bad due to an unhealthy body and weaker immune system.  Eunice is still in hospital and also requires a special diet.  Each month the cost of the food provided by the hospital is $225 Canadian.  Medications to regulate her blood pressure and to thin her blood cost a combined $80 Canadian each month.  Last but not least, we need seeds and fertilizer to plant corn and a few other crops very soon before the long rains arrive (the rains help grow the crops). Corn or maize is a staple of the Kenya diet and they eat the corn and they also mill the corn to get maize flour to make a staple dish called ugali.  The planting costs are about $100 Canadian.  The harvest will help feel 3 households for 1 year.  A lot of people still don't know what ugali is especially if they have not travelled to East Africa. You can see ugali in the photo below. The way you eat it is you take a piece of it and work it with your fingers then you scoop some cooked kale or meat.
This is ugali made with white corn flour.

Please keep the nation of Kenya in your prayers in general. The government has imposed a curfew rather than a strict lock down.It is difficult to have a strict lock down when the majority of the population ekes out a living on a day to day basis.  Even the curfew and other measures put in place like social distancing, masks on public transport etc. are making it very difficult for the people to earn a living and to have daily bread. If you can help in any material way, your help would be a huge blessing and very possibly save lives. This is not an exaggeration.

If you like you can leave a comment telling me what you are doing with your time and whether you have more time for things, less time or about the same. Take care and please continue to keep yourself safe.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Happy Passover and Happy Easter

Hi friends and fellow bloggers

I love this time of year. It's a time when the cold of winter starts to vanish and the warmth of spring begins to appear. It is the promise and the hope of better days ahead.

I am not enamoured of summer which is the season most people in the northern hemisphere enjoy.  It's far too hot for me. But give me good old Spring with all it's new growth and blossoms, bright sunlight and longer days and I'm in heaven on earth.

I missed the blooming of cherry blossoms but more blossoms will be out in the next few weeks. Hopefully I will be able to go out and capture some. Right now though we are pretty much discouraged from going anywhere except to do essential grocery shopping or to pick up pharmaceutical needs. I am also trying to spread out my grocery store forays so I don't go out as often and that means we go without a few things here and there for a little while longer.

Indoors I've been keeping busy. Surprisingly I haven't been reading that much. I've only finished one book in the several weeks of social distancing. It's a book about an American expat in Paris. I've read a few books of this type but this is my favourite one so far. I found it very touching; especially the final chapters. Check it out if you can.

Our local libraries are completely closed until further notice so we can only borrow from the digital library. My latest book is a cosy murder mystery called The Long Quiche Goodbye. I know a lot of my followers enjoy cosy murder mysteries.

Since it will be Friday tomorrow I thought a nice sunrise photo would be in order. This was taken from my balcony on Thursday morning.

I haven't been able to get out and garden yet as it has been too cold for me. I hope to get out soon but time will tell. In the meantime I love to see plants that come out whether you prepare anything or not.

Black Eyed Susan poking their way through

Solomon's Seal

I close my post with a few photos from April of 2019. These beautiful blossoms lined the streets where I went to hear an Easter concert at a church near a friend's home. Lovely blossoms like this never fail to bring me joy.

I want to wish you and your household a Happy Passover (April 8-16, 2020) 
and a Happy Easter (April 12-14, 2020).

May the peace of God rule over your hearts and minds.

(Joining in with Skywatch Friday this week).

Neighbourhood Street Scenes

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, I hope you are well today. These are photos I took on a recent walk in the neighbourhood. You can see the...