Wednesday, July 29, 2020

End of July 2020

Hi everyone,

I was reflecting this week that it was almost 6 months ago when this Covid scare began and the business of  self-isolating.  For the most part I've been okay and have not needed to do more than go out for food and medications. I did not go to the community garden much at all though I had planned to do so.  Things may change a bit in the next few months as at some point I'll need to have a doctor's appointment, a dental appointment and perhaps a minor hospital procedure and I really should go and get some lab work done.  But have no desire to expose myself to new people and new germs any more than I must  The hospital has been calling me to schedule a procedure on a non-urgent basis and I've basically been avoiding the calls. I will try and give them a call next week.

I've been thinking that it will be at least another 6 months before we can really get out and about and or even contemplate travelling. I thought I cannot go an entire year without seeing anyone in my circle so I'm hoping to organize a day here and there to visit with a family member and one or two friends.  Of course we will visit and keep our distance for safety reasons.

In some of my more recent posts I said I was going to adopt a (rescue) cat.  My application was accepted at one organization and I actually had virtual visits with 3 different cats.  Then I began to get cold feet. It thought it would be better if I met the cats close up and personal instead of just virtually.  That would mean two trips 1) to see the cat and 2) to pick up said cat. In the end I decided to wait until the 2nd wave of Covid 19 is well behind us. In the meantime I have a lot of jobs that continue to keep me busy.

Over the summer's cooler weather I've been catching up on paperwork and decluttering.  In between I read books or I cook and do a bit of cleaning.

I'm reading books 42, Book of Signs by Dr. David Jeremiah and 43, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey.  My goal for 2020 is 45 books which I'll likely reach in August.  At that point I hope to redirect my focus to crafting and sewing.  I also have more paperwork to get rid of before I can commence some small house projects. I wanted to finish the house projects this summer but now I may not get to them until 2021. The interior light is not good once summer is over and so some things are better left until Spring.

Last week and again this week the summer heat finally arrived.  I spent some time doing more intensive cooking than usual. I like easy dishes in general that don't require a lot of standing at the stove but sometimes I feel like trying new things. The rice pilaf and tuna steak were 'new to me' dishes and both were tasty.

Chia seed pudding, fresh blueberries and raspberries with plain yogurt and pumpkin granola for breakfast.

Grilled Greek Chicken, rice pilaf, roasted lemon garlic potatos, tzatziki sauce

Cheddar Smokies, Greek Salad, Potato and Egg Salad

Grilled tuna steak, rice pilaf, Greek salad

I took the following photos after 9 p.m. Tuesday night. The light was already insufficient. I tend to get better photos around sunrise.

The next set of photos were taken on Thursday evening.
I love the golden colour in the sky. Usually I only see this hue in the very early morning hours.

The Kenyan Missions

Since my last post, I learned that the primary crop we planted (corn/maize) won't be ready until October since we planted several months later than the norm.  Those who planted in January have been harvesting over the past few weeks but we did not plant until much later. 

In Kenya, the farmers plant and harvest corn and then they dry it in a shed.  Preferably a shed on stilts because it helps  with air circulation. Corn can get green mold or aflatoxins in the field or in storage and researchers have discovered that these aflatoxins are contributing to male infertility. Throughout the year the people take their dried corn to the posho mill to have it ground for unga (flour or maize meal). This maize flour is then made into ugali, a staple of the Kenyan diet. 
Ugali is not really nutritious but it is a common food and it helps to fill the belly. It is eaten virtually every day for the main meal and on a modest diet will be eaten with greens or sukuma wiki (fried collard greens though the Kenyans usually refer to it as spinach).  If the budget allows there might be chicken or beef stew as well. For a real treat at Christmas there might be goat meat.
Regardless of the issues with corn or ugali, Kenyans absolutely love ugali and they crave it just like in North America people where people may crave rice or potatoes. If you google the nutritional aspect of corn flour it sounds rather nutritious and perhaps it is relatively nutritious in the scheme of things. But when it becomes your primary source of food and there is little else that goes along with it, I think it leads to a malnourished society. I'm not a scientist but I'm finding that a lot of the adults we've been helping with medical needs are highly malnourished and it leads to challenges in trying to get them healthy again. First they have to have a much more nutritious diet on a consistent basis before they can start to get better. In fact, many Kenyan doctors now recommend their patients to take vitamins or eat a certain array of foods. This is all very challenging if you are a subsistence farmer. There isn't money left over for much else besides one's daily meal.

Photo Credit:  Cookpad Ugali and Sukuma Wiki Recipe


Pastor Jonah will be travelling soon to Kericho government offices to check on the status of Eunice's pension application.  Eunice applied for the pension for the elderly some years ago but has never received it. She has been in hospital for well over a year so cannot follow up on on a new application. I am hoping and praying that Jonah will be able to straighten this out for her and that she will get her pension soon.

It isn't a lot of money.
It amounts to about $18.00 (US) a month but it is paid every second month at approximately $ 37.00 (US).  If you've been to Kenya in recent years you know just how far these funds would go and how little it will buy for a foreigner.
If you are a Kenyan and you are buying food you can make it stretch and you know where to shop. It won't feed you nutritiously but it will help stave off hunger.
If you are in need or medicine it will perhaps cover the cost of one pint of blood or perhaps a month's supply of blood thinner. When Eunice gets here pension we will all rejoice as this is something that has been long awaited and much deserved for Eunice has been a life long community and church worker.  She's never expected anything in return and it would be nice if her last years could be made more comfortable.
We have helped a few other elderly to get their pensions.  Some have received it quite quickly but some others have not.  I would say, more often than not there are hurdles and challenges to any Kenyan getting a document or money from the government in a timely manner. It is always a wait and see what happens next kind of story and people who are entitled give up easily at times believing it will never happen for them.  But I am so happy when one of them gets a pension approved and paid or any other kind of government document. When I first started travelling to Kenya and helping the people there was no such thing as a pension for the elderly and the disabled.  Over time the government has been trying to improve many things but there always seem to be great setbacks and challenges, some created by thieving politicians.

My young doctor friend, Carolly's grandmother is now out of the hospital and seems to be doing well for a woman of advanced her age (she is over 80 years of age). Carolly is slowly building her a new home to replace the one that was damaged during the floods in March. I do not have an update on the other gentleman and his family (7 members in total) who were flooded out of their home and coffee farm. I was not in a position to offer them any assistance at the time so I have no news.  In Kenya when you start asking questions about people's dire circumstances the expectation is that you are planning to help them. It's best not to ask questions then unless you really think you can do something helpful.
In the month of August I have been focussed on providing sheets and duvets to several households. In a few months it will be rainy season in Kenya and it will be cold.  In fact, last night I chatted with Sarah from the Kibra slum in Nairobi.  She said it was very cold.  Sarah has a few children and no husband and not enough blankets or food.  We helped to buy her some food and another blanket to try and keep warm.  Fortunately she lives very near the Toi Market so she can walk there and find what she needs.
There is no heating in most Nairobi homes that I've had the privilege of visiting and it can get rather chilly during certain times of year.  Warm bedding is a luxury in many village and slum homes and food, education, medicine and telephone air time would take priority.

Two gentlemen also received a duvet set (cotton duvet, bed sheet and pillow cases). Basically this involved researching prices and preferences as well as figuring out how to order and get the product to the intended recipients.  One of these is Alvin, the Engineering Graduate who was hoping to do a Masters degree in Canada. His application was not accepted but even if it was Covid 19 would have made it a nightmare to travel here and begin studies. He is now considering seminary and if accepted will likely continue studies in East Africa.
The other man who received funds for bedding is Ernest.  He is the gentleman with diabetes. Each month we provide him basic food and medicine.  If we could provide a more nutritious, consistent diet it would help him so much but we do the best we can.  He is the man who was run down over year ago when he was walking to hospital to get his diabetes medicine. It has been a long journey toward healing and I'm not even sure his leg is completely healed. When last I inquired he was still walking with a walking stick and his ability to walk longer distances was slowly improving. I had hoped that if he could stand on both legs he might be able to go back to being a barber and thus be able to help support himself. That is still my hope.
I had an idea to also provide some cooking equipment for Pastor Jonah; either an electric pressure cooker or an electric frying pan.  This way he might reduce the cost of buying tanks of cooking gas and it would relieve the pressure on his back of having to bend down.  He usually has a large gas tank which sits on the floor and then you put one pan on the top and you have to bend down to cook.  The tanks are not even 2 feet high so that is hard on one's back.
It might save some money to cook with electricity but even if it doesn't there will be a much greater ability to eat a variety of nutritious foods using either one of the gadgets. I told Pastor Jonah to research and pick the most suitable cooker for his needs.


Last but not least, we've sent a bit of funds to a young husband and father I met about 12 years ago when he was selling books on the street.  After graduating from university he set up a small scale tourist operation.  However with the tremendous downtown in tourism he, like many others, is struggling a lot.

Prayers continue for Kenya.
Please contact me if you are able to help any of these individuals with food, clothing, medicines, transport or in any others ways (see side bar for further information).

I'm not sure when I will write again.
It will depend on when I can get some new photos and have something newsworthy to share.
Until then, take good care of yourselves.

Joining in with


eileeninmd said...

It is great to see an update and post from you. Your photos are lovely, Beautiful flowers and a great skywatch. The Grilled Chicken and the Tuna steak looks delicious. I have not tried Chia seeds, sounds healthy. Take care,stay safe! Have a great day!

affectioknit said...

Dear Penny, glad to hear that you're bearing up's a crazy time right now for sure...
~Have a lovely day!

Pamela M. Steiner said...

Your meals look so good. Very nutritious and appealing to the eye! I am not a "fancy" cook, and we tend to get in a rut of eating the same things every week. Your meals look so good, but I don't know if the men folk here will appreciate them as much as I would. That's always a challenge. Your geraniums are pretty and healthy looking too. I had to bring mine inside because it is too hot for them outside and they were dying. They are starting to revive and bloom again inside. I have them in the only good windows for enough sun in the kitchen. Praying for your friends in Kenya. I wish I could help, but am not able to on our fixed income. But I can certainly pray. God knows who to encourage to give and prayer sometimes moves that mountain. I hope you are able to get the medical things done that you may need soon. Not a good idea to put them off too long. I am speaking to myself as well here. I've put off appointments too because of Covid, but I may have to got ahead and go this fall. Praying things will be better then. Have a blessed summer and take care of yourself. Pop in when you can to let us now how you are doing.

Annie said...

The meals look so tempting and your garden is lovely. I am praying for Africa, praying for the world actually. So much trouble.

Joanne Noragon said...

That's a tasty variety of meals you're serving up!
I'm sorry to hear you decided not to adopt a cat. It will certainly make a difference in the life of a cat. On my sidebar is a grey tabby we adopted after virtual visitations. One visit for paperwork and he came home.

Red said...

Covid puts your life on hold . Thee are a few things we can do but not much. I did have some lab work done. I will not go to my dentist and I'm not going for another haircut.

Joyful said...

Thanks Joanne. I still hope to get a rescue cat but only after everything settles down a bit. The cats around here don't seem to have any trouble being adopted :-)

Mari said...

Your photos are very pretty, even if the light wasn't good. Your meals look good too.
Very interesting to learn more about things in Kenya.

Jeanie said...

It probably makes sense to wait on the kitten although I'm sure they would be very safe about things but you still have to get there twice. And back. Your summer meals look great!

Joyful said...

Hi Pamela, I love it when you visit and leave a nice long comment. I was trying to make nutritious meals and I'm glad they came across that way. I do like a variety of foods and I too get in a rut with the meals if I don't stop and think about how to make something different like grilled Greek Chicken instead of roasted or baked. Or lemon, garlic potatoes instead of boiled or mashed. Of course I don't always like cooking so my adventures are often time limited, lol. My plants have been getting a lot of rainwater for many months and once the hot sun and temperatures came out everything started to wither very quickly. I'm trying to keep them alive for another month. I do appreciate all your prayers and encouragement. I managed to call the pharmacy today and get the medicines renewed for a month but before the Fall arrives I'll likely have a phone appointment with the doctor. I will definitely pop in here and there. God bless. xx

Joyful said...

Thanks for your visit and your prayers Ann. xx

Joyful said...

Yes it does Red. Better to try and stay safe. I really do need a hair but but will wait a bit longer.

Joyful said...

Thank you for your kind words Mari. I'm glad you enjoyed learning more about Kenya.

Joyful said...

Yes I think for me it makes sense to wait. I may even wait until I do a big trip and return so I don' have to worry about anything more than myself. I hope you get a nice rhododendron or azalea. I'm not familiar with the latter but the rhododendron bushes are very beautiful and showy.

Joyful said...

Yes it is a crazy time right now Teresa. Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful weekend.

Joyful said...

Hi Eileen. Thank you for the wonderfully generous comments. It was the first time I've tried tuna steaks and they were quite good. I almost overcooked them though. If I use the cast iron next time they will only cook on one side at a time rather than two. The chia pudding is very nice and very healthy.

ashok said...

Delecious post!

Rhodesia said...

I am presuming what you call Ugali is what we called Mealie Meal in Southern Africa. It is a staple of their diet and many people of all colour eat it there. We cook it occasionally but not on a regular basis.
I think waiting to go into hospital is very wise as the situation is at present!! Enjoyed this post. Keep well and have a good week, Diane

Joyful said...

Thank you Ashok1

Joyful said...

Hi Diane, I don't think Ugali and Mealie Meal are the same. Ugali is made with maize flour and Mealie Meal is made with maize meal. Maize meal or corn meal is a coarser consistency which in North America we use to make many things like cream of wheat, corn bread and so on. The ugali is a much denser consistency as in the photo I provided in the post. I'm not sure but I think in South Africa the mealie meal is like our cream of wheat, a porridge-like consistency. My mom used to cook a lot of this when I was young. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Keep well. xx

Tanza Erlambang said...

love rice, almost everyday we eat rice.... Grilled Greek Chicken garlic potatos so appealing...yummy.

Thank you for sharing beautiful photos

Joyful said...

Thank you Tanza. I'm glad you enjoyed the Greek theme dinner.

Aritha V. said...

Your photos are nice. The orange sky is amazing.

Joyful said...

Thank you Aritha.

stardust said...

Once rainy season is over last week, dreadful summer heat arrived. I perspire a lot outdoors. Such an active virus in hot and humid weather like the new corona changed my understanding of virus. We’ve missed something but gained something as well. Your dishes are all visually appealing and of course must be delicious. Balanced diet is good but I try not to overeat staying mainly at home. In my place, after 9 p.m. is quite dark. Take care and enjoy your summer in possible ways. See you.


Joyful said...

Thank you Yoko. I agree we have learned something new. Enjoy your break. See you when you are back on line :-)

Saucy Siciliana said...

It's 8AM here Joyful, time for breakfast. You are making me so hungry with all that lovely food, all I made is Rice Krispies and milk, it's just too hot to cook.

Joyful said...

Hi Francesca, nice to see you again. I understand that when it is so hot one doesn't feel like cooking. I feel that way too so haven't been doing much the last week or I'm cooking later in the evening. I hope you will have some cooler days here and there to make you more comfortable. Stay safe. xx

Arun Goyal said...

Wow That is a beautiful geranium ...I am starting a new Link up party pertaining to garden activities .It would be my pleasure if you participate in the link up party and share anything about your plants or anything related to gardening.
Here is the link
Thank you.

shayndel said...

Hi Joyful! The summer meals that you make look so good!! Beautiful sky photos and garden photos!! Amazingly already we are into August!!! Sorry to be late. May each day be a treasure and filled with many blessings for you and your family and loved ones in Kenya. xoxo 💛

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