Monday, November 30, 2015

Tips on Communicating With Older People...

My mother's nursing home provided this interesting article on: "Tips for Communication with Residents." I found the list interesting, so I'm passing it along...

Approach from the front.
Establish who you are.
Get permission to enter the person's space.
Sit down, make eye contact.
Focus on the person. Slow the pace...let them set the pace.
Take time...make time.
Speak so the person can see and hear you.
Be clear in what you are saying and how you say it.
Listen, remember - silence is golden.
Be sensitive to feelings.

Don't tease - remember they will take it literally.
Don't call them "funny" names.
Don't patronize.
Minimize distraction.
Use an object as an intermediary.
Go with whatever subjects they suggest.
Listen to the same old story as often as it is told.
Always thank them for the great privilege, fun, experience, and nhonour it is to be with them.
Understand how the person communicates.
Assume that the person understands - especially with regard to emotional messages, even if they don't respond.

(Taken from "Gentle Care" Hush No Rush 1999)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent: Preparing for Christmas

I think this is the first Sunday in Advent - when Christians look forward to the coming of the Christ-child. (I gave never been good at remembering dates on the Christian calendar!)

I recently came across a meditation booklet for Advent, taken from the writings of Henri Nouwen, a writer I admire. So on December 1st, I plan to begin my advent "journey" with him - through his writings - to Christmas.

My rationale? Celebrations - like weddings and large birthday parties - don't just happen. They involve planning, shopping and lots of thought.

The wise men who came to see the babe Jesus must have left weeks, if not months, before he was born. They would also have had to prepare for their long journey, not knowing quite where it would take them.

That is the spirit in which I'm beginning my "journey" as well, not knowing where this time of Advent meditation will lead!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Milk Bag Mats

 In Ontario, milk is sold in  bags.

A bag like this holds three smaller bags that we put in pitchers.

(I mention this because visitors are sometimes surprised to see how we serve our milk!)

A while back, I heard that volunteers in the city recycle these milk bags by weaving and crocheting them into sleeping mats for disaster relief.

I began collecting milk bags for them until I had quite a few...

Then a few weeks ago, I delivered my hundreds of bags to the group that meets - once a month in a nearby church - to make them into mats.

Here are some of the mats they've made...

Maybe I'll have to join them sometime, just to see how it's done!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Oblate Cookies

I don't do a lot of baking anymore, to my family's chagrin. The reason? I'd be tempted to eat more than my share. But I do buy baked goods - especially for special celebrations.

I recently noticed - in a supermarket "kitchens of the world" aisle - that Christmas baking had begun to appear. I decided to try some "Oblate" cookies from Germany.

The name intrigued me... Why oblate? (To me an oblate is associated with a convent or monastery.)

I tried them - they were so good I could have finished them off in one sitting! Round, soft gingerbread. Some had a sweet white glaze on top.

But what was the white on the bottom? It looked like icing but it didn't taste sweet.

I did a google search for Oblate Gingerbread Cookies - and discovered that these cookies have been made for hundreds of years. In the middle ages, monks baked them on communion wafers so that they wouldn't stick to the pan. That's what the white bottoms were - unsweetened wafers, like those used in communion! Hence the name.

I plan to go back and get a few more packages. (Hopefully they'll last till Christmas!)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Now That the Leaves Are Gone...

The things you notice once the leaves fall from the trees...!

Like this ramshackle bunch of leaves on the branch. Is the squirrel on the edge of the branch building a nest?!

What about this nest? A birds' nest? Or a wasps' nest?

I suspect a wasps' nest - though I've never seen one that big! This one is almost as big as an inflated balloon...

Taking walks with my camera makes walking much more interesting!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Garage Door Art in Toronto!

Just off College Street in Toronto, I came across an interesting collection of street art...

A row of garage doors each had a painting on it...

They were all very different...

Then I came across this sign - the art had been done by school students as a project...

I wonder if doing these paintings boosted the students' self-confidence...

... to see their work publicly displayed like this...

Or did it encourage them to become graffiti artists?!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Air Plant Arrangements

When I recently saw these air plants in a vase, I was reminded of my air-plant experience.

I once bought three "air plants" at a flower show. They don't need much light - and they can be put into any kind of container without soil. They do need warmth and humidity, as their natural habitat is the jungle.

I gave one plant to my mother, who at the time lived in an apartment here in the city. I gave the second to my daughter, who then lived in a small Toronto attic apartment. And I kept the third for myself.

This is a test to see who is the best gardener! I jokingly told them. My mother's lived the longest! She took it into the bathroom whenever she showered. Otherwise it sat in the living room. She also had the habit of talking to plants! I wish I'd have thought to create an arrangement as lovely as this one! I simply kept it in a saucer on the bathroom sink.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Quilting Class With Cheryl Arkison

I recently went to Toronto to take a quilting class with Cheryl Arkison from Calgary.

I was looking forward to meeting her as I have several of her quilting books, and I love her quilting style.

The class I signed up for was "log cabin" - made modern. Our first attempts at "modern" log cabin squares were taped to the wall...

Here's a close-up!

One of the first things Cheryl told us was that modern quilts break the rules...

That suits my style: I always modify recipes in cooking - why not quilting?!

I spent a fun day at the Workroom - sewing... Time flew by!

But, of course, quilts are never done in a day! Now to find the time to finish it at home!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Taking Time to Help...

I have again started reading my chronological Bible. (It took me six years to slowly read through the last time...) I love the sense of history it brings.

I'm still near the beginning, in the book of Exodus... The Israelites, fresh out of slavery in Egypt, are now wandering in the desert and God is giving them rules to live by. As I read some of these 3,500-year-old rules, I am struck by their generosity of spirit:

 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, you are to certainly return it to him.  If you see your enemy’s donkey lying helpless under its load, you must not abandon it; rather, you are certainly to return it to him."

In today's terms, it would be a little like saying, if you see someone you know but you really don't like stopped at the side of the road with car problems, rather than passing by with a smug smile,  you should stop and help...  

Taking time to help... a simple kindness.

Other rules worth noting?

Do not spread a false report... 
Do not follow a crowd in doing something wrong...
Do not accept a bribe...
Be kind to strangers living in your midst...

Like all rules followed, they have the power to change the environment in which we live. Three thousand five hundred years old - but still good rules for life today.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Making Time for Walking

One of the challenges of my daily routine is making time for walking, even though I know it is an integral part of managing my type 2 diabetes. Last winter, I didn't walk a lot - due to cold winter weather and my fear of falling on icy roads and sidewalks. Yet I also neglected my indoor exercise bike - for no good reason! Over the winter, my glucose readings edged up and up. By spring I realized that - if things didn't change - medication would be the next step.

Fortunately, before taking the step of prescribing medication, my doctor referred me to a diabetes clinic, giving me a bit of a reprieve. Now I meet with a dietitian once a month who questions me about my eating and exercise habits, making suggestions for improvement.

As part of the program, I am expected to take a brisk 40-minute walk every day. I recall that being part of my program 10 years ago when I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but over the years I have eased up on the daily exercise part.

This time of year is really great for walking! It's not too hot, and not too cold. Yet one thing has become clear to me: Unless I plan a walk, it isn't going to happen. Unlike dog-owners, who are daily reminded that they have to exercise their dogs, nothing forces me to take a walk. So if I want to do it, I have to plan it... usually early in the day before I get tired.

So shortly after I get up, as I think about the day ahead, I ask myself if there is anything I need to do - like shopping, banking or going to the library - that could involve walking instead of taking the car.

I've been pretty good about following through with my plans - for now! (Snow hasn't arrived yet!) Sometimes Terry comes with me. I've been rewarded with more energy during the day. My walks are gradually getting longer, too. I'm trying to walk as much as I can before the inevitable arrival of snow. I'm not sure how I'll manage once snow arrives.

Friday, November 20, 2015

What's Taken Me So Long?!!

I often read self-help books with wonderful ideas... The problem? All too soon I forget what I have read!

My new solution?

I've started taking notes again! Here's my orange and white spiral notebook... and two books I'm currently reading.

Why did it take me so long to think of doing this?!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New (Free!) Walking Circuit

It's a problem - in winter - to find a safe surface to take walks on. One option is mall walking. My mother did it for years when she lived across the street from a shopping center.

I recently discovered that the city has built its first walking circuit in a new sports facility in Barrhaven, a neighborhood south of ours.

I drove over to check it out.

I was really impressed. The city-owned facility houses not only this two-lane walking circuit...

... but a skating rink and a swimming pool as well.

It's a bit of a drive from our house... but well worth remembering in winter weather!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Second Set of Eyes

My goal, the past month or so, has been to paint a quick watercolor picture every morning - following a free online lesson (on You Tube) by the British painter, Alan Owen.

It's been a lot of fun. I particularly appreciate the quickness of his painting, as I follow along. Most take about half an hour. After this "loose" little painting exercise, I move on to other things...

I often get so caught up in painting that I fail to see my own work objectively. That's when a second set of eyes comes in handy!

In this painting, the focus was on painting trees.

Is it a forest fire? my daughter asked when I sent her a picture of the day's exercise...

I don't think it was meant to. But, you're right. It does look like it!

Maybe if I add some branches. Would that give the impression of red-leafed bushes?

After playing around for a while, I decided that this was as good as I could make it! It now looks - to me - like trees and grass in the snow...

Unfortunately I didn't totally eliminate the idea that there could also be a fire!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Snow Boots!

Snow hasn't arrived yet as I write this... But winter is on my mind!

I don't really need new snow boots - I have several pair. But when I saw these shiny red ones, with built-in metal studs that can be flipped over and hidden if not needed - I couldn't resist.

So if you're out walking and you encounter ice, you have to find a place to sit down and adjust your boots...? Terry asked, somewhat skeptically.

I guess so - or find something to hold on to and do it standing on one foot. They even come with a gizmo for flipping the hard plastic over. And extra warm insoles.

Do these studs really work? 

Well, they aren't going to tell me they don't, now, are they?! 

I guess I'll just have to wait and see!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Quilting Decisions!

I signed up for a workshop in Toronto - given by a Canadian quilter whose books I love...

Getting ready for the all-day workshop, I headed upstairs to my fabric stash. For me, the hardest quilting decision is what fabrics to use... Color is everything! I'm not confident in my ability to choose colors that go well together, so I look for one multi-color fabric and base my color choices on that. That way a professional has helped me decide!

The quest: To find 15-25 fabrics in three colors for a "modern" log cabin design. (That's quite a few!) I was hoping to use up what I had rather than buy more fabric.

I narrowed it down to three choices: The one above. This one. And the one below.

After consulting with my daughter on skype, I decided to go with this one! I have quite a few fabrics in colors found in the cute illustration.

Hope I like it! These aren't colors I'm usually drawn to. I usually favor greens and blues.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Liberating Thought

Reading the book, The Art of Possibility, I came across a liberating thought, in the quoted words of a retiring US Supreme Court judge.

When asked what accomplishment he was the most proud of, he replied: "That I did the best I could with what I had."

As I read that, it occurred to me that most of us can say the same thing - that we have spent our lives doing the best we can with what we have.

My parents spent their lives doing the best they could with what they had - even if, at times, I didn't agree with them. The teachers I liked - and those I wasn't so fond of - were also probably doing the best they could with what they had. A lifetime of neighbors, friends and co-workers, too...

Time to cut them all some slack - and to forgive myself, as well. Rather than live with regret, I choose to accept that throughout my life, I simply did the best I could with whatever insight, patience, knowledge I had at any given moment. And I want to pass on the same acceptance - and forgiveness - to others whose lives have touched mine as well.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

At Montebello City Park

On our way home from a few days in the Mt. Tremblant area, we stopped for lunch in the town of Montebello (known primarily for Chateau Montebello, its large, luxurious hotel).

We headed over to the city park to enjoy the view...

The Ottawa River was calm...The park was almost empty.

Boating season was apparently over - the wharves  had been moved away from the shore.

There was an end-of-summer silence in the air...


Is that a drone? Terry suddenly asked, pointing to a large spider-like object in the air.

It was!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Old Tremblant Village

Talking to a waiter at the Mt. Tremblant village resort, we discovered that there is a second Tremblant village - now referred to as the "old" village, as it predates the Mt. Tremblant village resort.

Many resort workers live there.

As it was only a 5-minute drive (or a 45-minute walk) away, we decided to drive over and check it out.

The new resort village - where we were staying at the edge of the ski hill - is a pedestrian only space. "Old" Tremblant village, situated on Lake Mercer, is a pleasant country town...

A bike path that doubles in winter as a cross-country ski trail runs along the lake and up to the ski resort.

We wandered over to an old church, which is now a theater...

"Old" Tremblant... also a lovely place to explore! I wish we'd had more time - enough to try the bike trail along the lake!