Sunday, December 1, 2019

'Tis the Season

Welcome to December! May it be a good one.

The busyness of November is carrying into December with many different things going on.  I started my Aqua size class and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is only going to be 6 sessions long.  The class is really just to get you used to the type of exercise you could do in the pool so you can decide whether you want to continue on your own at a public pool.  The pool is heated and not too deep and the exercises are much different than what I’ve seen in most of the Aqua size classes organized by the community centers. Perfect for me.  So I’ll enjoy it while I can.

I’ve also been busy shopping for gifts for Christmas, graduation gifts, winter boots and a few casual and dressy clothes for the holidays. I’ve already been able to use much of what I bought and so that is great as I know the money has been well spent. 

I was invited to a friend’s convocation ceremony and spent almost a full day with him and his family at the convocation, taking photos afterward and joining at the Alumni Centre for cake and coffee.  Later we went to their home for tea and snacks, then they invited me (and a few others) to dinner at a fabulous African restaurant downtown called Simba's.  Some of you long time readers may remember that I took members of the Kenyan Boys Choir there several years ago when they were in town.  There are several African restaurants in town but I think the one downtown is best for consistency and the owner is very nice too.  The food was delicious as always.

My friend has been looking for a job the past weeks now that he has his Ph.D. in Linguistics. I was very pleased to hear he already has an interview lined up and pray it all works out for him. I've become very close to he and his family over the years that they've been in Canada and his wife and I try and get together as often as we can.  She is a wonderful woman who amazes me with her phenomenal energy.  She has a very kind heart and looks after her family and work, participates in community events, church and related activities and so on.  She is always looking to fulfill a need when people don't have family or friends here.  She will see a need and do something special for them like organize a bridal shower or a baby shower.  She is a darling and I don't know how she does it all.  In the new year she will be even busier as she will return to school part-time while continuing to work.

It’s also been busy with the missions in Kenya. My friend Eunice is still in hospital and has her ups and downs health wise. I thank God she is still with us and that her son watches over her and oversees every aspect related to her care.  We are still looking for a donor to help Ernest (the guy who was run down by a motor bike taxi) to start a small barber business and/or repair his humble home. We are also still investigating Alcohol Rehabilitation Programs to see if we can afford to sponsor a man named Charles to get treatment. The Alcohol Rehabilitation programs are very expensive especially as he needs at least 3 months in residence and another 6 months or so of follow up. If we cannot find an affordable program we will have to wait until we have the funds or until we can get someone who would step up to help him.  The Go Fund Me campaign link remains on the side bar for those who would like to contribute to any of these needs. I also continue to help Alvin with all aspects of finances (budgeting, budget forecasting, tracking spending, problem solving for needs) and some investigation into programs on offer here at the university. I do some preliminary research and he does the detail research in regards to graduate school here in Vancouver.

I have a lot of appointments coming up in the next while so I’m not sure how much I will be blogging for the rest of this month.  However I always make time to read and comment on other blogs as most of you will know.  My schedule is full up to the middle of December though mostly with things that have nothing to do with Christmas.  Then in mid-December a friend and I will attend Chantez Noel at one of the church's in the city.  We are both looking forward to it. We've already decided that next year if we are able we would like to splurge and go and see the concert called Winter Harp.  If you like you can google it on You Tube and see what it is all about. 

Yesterday I decided to pare back the schedule a bit in favour of getting more rest and to finish the year strong.  One of the things I want to do this week is to put up the Christmas tree and a few lights. My decorating is not over the top.  There will be just enough to add some sparkle and glow to my living space. In the meantime, I've got a  lot of gifts to prepare as I take them with me to dinner at a friend's house next weekend.  I can give out several gifts to various people I know will be there.  Otherwise it will be very difficult to deliver gifts before Christmas.  I also need to alter some of the clothing I purchased for my niece because she usually need sleeves and leg hems lifted.  I may actually deliver the gifts in person after Christmas which requires a short trip out of town. How I deliver will be decided based on time and energy after Christmas.

We are expecting snow. It may even arrive tonight and it has been super cold all this past week.  I'm well prepared this year with the addition of comfortable winter boots and my long faux fur coat.  I've had the coat for several years but seldom have a chance to wear it. It  only comes out on the very cold days when it isn't raining and I know I'm going to spend time outside.  It keeps me toasty warm.  I find it chilly indoors too.  I've got the heating on 24/7 which I never, ever do because of the very high cost of heating and electricity in general.  The rates have increased twice in the last 2 years and I'm keeping a very keen eye on things due to the significant increases in other costs (car insurance, strata fees, condo insurance and property taxes).  I also wear socks, slippers, puffer vest indoors or sit with the heating pad on. As the years go by I think more and more of moving to a warmer apartment or out of the city altogether. For now I am here because it is not only a lot of work to move but my city has the best access to medical services in the entire province and I would hate to lose that.  So far, I haven't seriously thought about a move but it comes to my mind every so often. Don't get me wrong.  I am grateful to have indoor heating. I just have to manage it properly to make it affordable.

For relaxation I'm reading books number 51 and 52 or watching recorded television programs (Dancing with the Stars, The Marylin Dennis Show, Y & R, New Amsterdam and whatever new and interesting series may be on) .  I have another few books in my reading pile but doubt I will finish them all before 2020 arrives.

Last night, in between running errands, I stopped at a new to me restaurant called Cafe D'Afrique, an Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant. Since I had not been there before I decided on a combination dish in order to be able to sample as much variety as possible.  The main part of the dish (as you can see in the photo below) is beef  stew surrounded by rice, spinach and beet salad on far left and lentil stew on the far right. It is all served on a plate of injera bread and the small dish of rolled up things is more injera bread (a type of fermented bread).  I've been to Ethiopian restaurants before but this is the first time I had the food delivered on a regular plate.  It is also the first time I've had the beef stew.  Usually I order something called tibs which can be ordered in goat, beef and other meats. The beef stew and side dishes were very tasty.

Wishing you all a very beautiful season as you prepare for Christmas however humble or spectacular. 
May you have moments to pause and reflect on the reason for the season. 

I have been reminded so many times in the last few months to give thanks for all the many blessings I have and not to take even the simplest of things for granted. One of the many blessings I have is faithful blog readers who have become like friends.

I wish each you of you good health, love and happiness.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Wildlife of Kenya

Horned wildlife in Kenya.

Impala bucks
Water Buffalo of Kenya. In the background are pink flamingos and pelicans.

These photos were taken some years back on a trip to the Lake Nakuru National Park.

I'm signing off with a very heartwarming video about unlikely friendships between animals.
I hope you enjoy it.
Watching it I was reminded of how the animals one lived lived together in peace with all other animals and with early humans in the Garden of Eden.
I believe that one day the animals will be able to live like that again.

Joining up with Eileen
Saturday's Critters

Have an awesome week ahead.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Misty Mountains

Happy Friday everyone,

I wish you all the very best that the weekend has to offer.

North Shore Ski Hill and lights, Catholic Church steeple in foreground.
(click photo to enlarge)

Joining in with

Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dusk in the City

Joining in with Skywatch Friday.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Hello blogging friends,

We just finished observing Remembrance Day here in Canada as many of you did in other countries. The various holidays of the year have flown by and we just have Christmas to celebrate before the end of the year.  Usually on Remembrance Day it is raining heavily in my city and I always feel badly for the veterans when that have to stand or sit in the rain or shiver in the cold (when it doesn't rain it is usually quite frigid). I was grateful that this year there was no rain for Remembrance Day and in fact the sun came out. It seemed warmer than usual.

However, we are expecting more rain this week after a few weeks of wonderful sunshine. Apparently we broke a record for 14 consecutive days of sunshine.  I had to laugh when I heard that and wondered what must go through people's minds when they live elsewhere in the world and hear that.

I do live in the rain forest area and we get a lot of rain. It's what gives us fantastic forests and lush green grass most of the year.  But this year we had such a deluge of rain in September and October which is a few months earlier than usual.  I don't like to complain but when Fall is your favourite season and you can't really enjoy the colours due to the clouds and rain, it isn't my happy time. But next year is another year and I hope I will be able to enjoy the foliage then.  I can always hope.

I've done a bit of reading and completed the book on Jackie Kennedy Onassis, her mother and sister which I enjoyed though it may not be everyone's cup of tea. I have now finished 48 books this year and expect to finish 50 books before 2020 arrives.  I am about to begin the Book of Philippians in the New Testament (NT) as well. I've already read 1 John and Revelations so there isn't much more to read before I've completed my reading of the NT.

Right now I'm enjoying watching Dancing with the Stars on television. It amazes me what amateurs can do when they are paired up with professionals though the younger ones have an advantage in terms of flexibility and ability to bounce back from injuries. It's fun to watch them all and see who will be voted off and who will remain until the final show.

Earlier today I did a bit of baking.  When the weather turns cooler, I always crave something home baked to have with hot tea while I read or watch television.  These muffins are my current favourites because I'm trying to use up some corn meal a friend gifted me.

Corn meal muffins on left and with added cranberries on right

Banana bread
If you'd like to try the muffins you can find the recipe here.  I also had a few frozen bananas I wanted to use up.  I've tried many different banana bread recipes over time and they are never quite to my liking so I keep trying.This one looks like it might be better than others I've used but I'll know after I try eating it. If you'd like to check out the recipe you can find it here.

Tomorrow I go to the hospital for assessment of my knees. I can tell by the questionnaire they sent me that I likely won't be considered a high priority candidate for surgery because I am still very independent. I do hope though that somehow getting this process underway will stand me in good stead for when I do need to have surgery.  I'll know more in due course.

Christmas shopping is almost done. It seems there are always things and gifts I think about at the last minute. It usually means I start enlarging the circle of friends I want to gift as Christmas draws closer. It is always a heart warming thing to consider a special gift for those you love.

I'm also reflecting on the accomplishments of the past year and looking ahead to 2020 which I expect will be a very different kind of year.  The year 2019 was a year of cleaning up and clearing out. It was also a year of dealing with lots of unfinished business in preparation for the future. I am still in the process of dealing with old business but have made significant progress.

  • Travelled to Paris (a long awaited dream) and to Kenya (a long delayed trip)
  • Completed x-rays on knees & scheduled assessment and evaluation for surgery
  • Dealt with major dental needs, including all communications with insurance cos (and will finish these before end of year)
  • Completed legal paperwork for a relative to oversee her personal and medical care
  • Changed financial advisors
  • Cancelled financial products
  • Drafted a new Last Will & Testament
  • Read many books and more than met my reading goal for 2019
  • Visited with family members near and far (made one long journey for visit)
  • Implemented a schedule for consistent Bible study and prayer/praise
  • Slowed down the hectic pace of activities
  • Studied numerous topics of interest through webinars in preparation for future plans
  • Decluttered clothing, knick knacks, books and papers - work is ongoing
  • Reconnected with various friends from afar
  • Assisted numerous needy in Africa: 4 sponsored boys in Africa, 3 graduates of Kenyan universities & 4 adults requiring significant help with medical needs, food and shelter. This work is ongoing.

In terms of the Kenyan missions and outreach I'm working on a number of things as we close out the year. The needs are always more than I can handle on my own.  But I am always willing to see what I can do and to see if there are others who might join with me here and there or even longer term.  I understand if you can't or don't want to help, there is certainly no pressure to do so. My feeling is that God speaks to certain people to prompt them to help and it is between them and God whether they obey. Then too there are people who are not Christian who may also have a heart to help and that is good too. 

Going forward these are the needs:
  • Assist Eunice monthly with her medicines ($250 US/$335 Canadian) and special food ($180 US/$240 Canadian) to treat acute anemia. She has improved and when she has a set back she bounces back more quickly. 
  • Send Charles to an alcohol rehabilitation centre for 3 months ($1500 US/$2000). Charles is a chronic alcoholic with a wife and several children. He has not worked for quite some time and needs professional intervention to get beyond his addiction.
  • Monitor Ernest's recovery from leg injuries and his nutritional and monetary needs (any amount is helpful).
  • Help Ernest with a small business venture  ($270 US/$360 Canadian bare bones budget) to start a barbering business).  He has experience in barbering and the start up costs are minimal.  If he can get back to work he he could at least provide for his own food needs in the longer term. 
  • Repair the leaking roof and walls in Ernest's house. The tin roof needs replacing and the walls need replastering (approximate cost is $200 US or $270 Canadian). Right now he is bunking at his mother's home but this won't work longer term. 
There are other needs but these ones are the priority needs. If any of you would like to help with one or more of these needs please let me know or send donations to the Pay Pal link located in the side bar to the right of this blog.
In other news, Alvin, the Engineering graduate, has passed his English as a Second Language test with flying colours. He is now working on finding a thesis supervisor at a university here in Vancouver. Kindly keep him in your prayers so that he can find a supervisor, get admitted and obtain a scholarship to further his studies.

Levi is the other Engineering graduate I was helping but he has now gone off to India to do a Masters degree.  Fortunately he received a scholarship to study abroad.

Last but not least, Carolly graduated with a medical degree and fulfilled his licensing requirements. His graduation was last Friday.  Carolly comes from very humble beginnings and has worked very hard to get this far. Currently he is working as an ambulance attendant.  Now that he has his medical license he can look forward to working as a doctor. Physicians are best placed to find work in Kenya it seems, otherwise unemployment levels in Kenya are extremely high.

That's it for now blogging friends. 
I hope to see you in Blog Land soon. 

Skywatch Friday ~ February 23, 2024

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