Friday, November 30, 2018

A Lemon a Day...

My mother strongly believed that an apple a day kept the doctor away...

A doctor I saw recently recommended drinking a glass of warm water with lemon juice in it every morning... (though I can't now remember why...!)

What about lemon juice from a bottle? I asked.

No, she replied... The juice of a real lemon - in a glass of warm water...

So I've bought a bag of lemons and I'm giving it a try: Will I feel better? Will my fasting blood sugar readings go down? Will I magically lose excess weight?!

Any - or all - of these results would be great!

After drinking my warm, unsweetened lemonade, I cut up the rind of the lemon and add it to a pitcher of water - to drink for the rest of the day...

I think of all the other natural "wonders" I've tried over the years - aloe vera, green tea, coconut oil, avocado, apple cider vinegar, to name a few...

I'm sure they're all beneficial... But apart from apple cider vinegar - which I credit with keeping me cold-free for two years,  none made a dramatic impact on my health, as far as I could see.

But... (like my mother before me) the possibility of better health keeps me ever hopeful and ready to try something new!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Putting Up the Car Tent

As days get cooler, Terry and I each pull out our "to do" list - things that need to be done before winter. For me it means looking for our winter boots, hats, jackets and gloves, hunting down our flannelette sheets and other winter "essentials"!

Terry has his list, too: organizing sheds from summer to winter mode - which means putting away the barbecue and lawn mower, checking the gas and oil in the snow blower... and putting up the car tent we use all winter long.

This event requires careful monitoring  of the weather forecast. A warm day is needed - before the snow flies! Help is also needed - our son comes over to help.

We've done it so many times now that it doesn't take all that long anymore.

A few hours later, the frame ready for the first major snow fall...

Then the wait begins again - for the ideal day to put the cover on. If Terry puts it on the frame too early, he worries that strong winds may knock the tent over or blow it away! There needs to be an adequate amount of snowfall in the forecast to hold the tent down...

This year, we didn't have to wait long. A few days later a sufficient amount of snow arrived...

(Preparing for winter is a chore - it's also a fine art!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Early Sunsets

Daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter.

Then around December 21, the turnaround begins - and daylight hours increase...

But that's almost a month away! We have weeks of even shorter days before us!

The problem with a 4:40 pm sunset - as seen here in the picture - is that, by 7 pm, my body tells me it's time for bed!

Maybe I do need the extra sleep!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Books I Have Been Reading

I don't remember how I found out about Frederick Buechner's latest book, The Remarkable Ordinary.

But I ordered it online - then passed it on to a friend for a quick read, before taking it to my daughter in Guelph. I thought she'd enjoy the chapter on Maya Angelou.

I then ordered a few more of Buechner's memoirs online.

The topic he returns to time and time again is his effort to make peace with his past. I find it fascinating...

Getting older, I've revisited childhood memories and attitudes that have held me back, and tried to make peace with them, too.

Telling Secrets was a compelling read...

(I took six pages of notes on his first chapter. I rarely do that!)

Monday, November 26, 2018

"Do Not Disturb"

"Do Not Disturb" hotel door handle signs used to say, back in the day...

Recently I've noticed new ones, like "Snoozing" and "Pet in Room."

But this one really made me smile:

"Privacy, please. I'm watching Ted Talks"...

(Not something I do every day!)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Seeking Comfort...

I have been reading about the ergonomics of knitting, and, in the process, have learned about more than simply knitting! (Interesting how one thought leads to another!)

In defining ergonomics, author, Carson Demers, writes: Comfort is a benchmark for ergonomic success. No one likes to be in an uncomfortable environment. Whether the discomfort is physical, emotional, social, or psychological, we tend to move away from uncomfortable environments unless a competing priority keeps us there. As knitters, the joy of knitting often outweighs any environmental discomfort...

I had never given much thought much to comfort being a motivator in life, but I guess it is!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

My First Pottery Sale

A week ago, I had my first pottery sale!

I have been making pottery for quite a few years now, mostly in winter - so my collection of handmade pots grows annually!

I use a lot in the kitchen - my daughter occasionally takes a few.

But more end up in boxes in the basement!

Time to think of selling some...!

A church in our community hosts an annual craft sale as part of their Snowflake Bazaar.

It was the perfect location.

My display was in the foyer next to the church sanctuary.

Friends stopped by... Terry helped...

He eventually went off for lunch in the tea-room... (coming back with a pie and several jars of homemade jam!)

We really enjoyed the day!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Cute "Toy" Car!

Whenever Terry sees a really small car, he marvels that anyone would drive one.

We could never fit!

We recently saw one that made us smile. The owner must have a sense of humor: He added a "key" to the roof!

Does he get a lot of comments about owning a "toy" car?!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Books on Aging

From time to time, I pick up books on aging... I don't usually get too far into them before putting them down.

I recently borrowed this one from the library, Parker J. Palmer's latest book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace Gravity and Getting Old...

I was a little curious about the word "everything."

What does he mean...?

I guess I'd have to read the book to find out.

I read the introduction and the first few pages, before closing the book...

No! That's not what my brain wants to think about - though I sense the author optimistically shares my gratitude of still being around to appreciate each day.

(I'll return the book to the library early - a dozen readers have placed holds on it.)

But I did notice - as I put the book away, that the sky outside shared the book cover's color palate.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Museum... of Illusions?!

I didn't know that Toronto had a Museum of Illusions until I saw this picture posted on Instagram.

(No wonder I'd never heard about it! Googling the name, I discovered that it only opened this month!)

I'd definitely like to go sometime! Bringing a camera would be a must!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Waldorf Salad

My mother believed in eating "an apple a day" - to keep the doctor away... I don't remember to eat one daily - but it recently occurred to me that a Waldorf salad (which contains chopped apple) is a perfect low-carb salad - and gives me a serving of fresh apple!

Equal amounts of chopped apple, celery, walnuts and grapes (or raisins) - mixed together with a dressing of lemon juice and mayo.

Add a dash of pepper...

So easy... and delicious!

It can double as dessert!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Back to Buechner!

Frederick Buechner is one of my favorite Christian writers...

His autobiographical books are fascinating: His family never attended church, yet he was drawn to the church...

Eventually he even studied to become a Presbyterian minister - though he spent most of his career working as a writer and teacher.

Has he written anything recently? I asked myself not long ago - and discovered that he had!

In this recent one, The Remarkable Ordinary, he revisits significant life experiences from an older perspective... 

He again touches on his father's suicide during the Great Depression - for him, a life-changing event...

I'm so glad I discovered this recent book! After I lend it to a few friends, I plan to read it again!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Creating Goals for Happiness

In her book, Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin recounts her eight-month attempt to create a happier personal and family life. Every month, she focused on one "happiness goal" - something that would make her and her family happier.

Her first monthly goal was to create pleasant places in the apartment... I don't remember exactly how she expressed it - I was too busy knitting while I listened to the audio-book -  but it involved going through her apartment shelf by shelf, getting rid of what the family no longer needed, then reorganizing, consciously creating pleasant spaces within the house...

(Hmmm... Does happiness always begin with easing clutter and getting a sense of control over one's life...?)

This was a project I could readily identify with! I began to look around for places to organize in our home as well...

In subsequent months, she tackled other impediments to her happiness. One month she focused on dealing with her fear of driving in New York City. She had a drivers license, but hated to drive. She ended up taking a driving refresher course with an instructor known for instilling calm and confidence in his students. Then she made a point of driving regularly, so as not to lose her nerve.

Another month she focused on making her family feel more loved - by making a point of greeting her husband and children whenever they arrived home - even if she was busy working in her home office...

Listening to the audio-book made me reflect on whether I too should set goals to create a happier home - and to feel more fulfilled at my stage of life...

What goals could I set for myself? Organizing, of course! But what else?!

Do I make a point of greeting Terry when he gets up in the morning and when he comes home from running errands...? (It's all too easy to take for granted those we live with, especially in retirement, when we're so often together...)

What do I fear doing - that I would really love to be able to do?... Maybe it's not too late to face my fears, either...

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Unhelpful Warning

I need reading glasses... so I keep pairs of inexpensive ones scattered around the house - wherever I might need to read something.

Every few weeks, a pair breaks, so I'm often shopping for more...

Recently I headed to my local Michael's store with a discount coupon...

A favorite pair had lost its arm (or "temple")... Time to replenish my supply.

I was heading to the cash with these glasses - which were very similar to others I've bought there...

But these had a warning attached... (Of course, the print was small...)

I asked the young cashier what it meant...

The cashier couldn't tell me.

Go to the website on the tag, she suggested.

As soon as I got home, I did...

Apparently, the frames contain some material (like lead) that could lead to reproductive problems in pregnant women... But important details were missing, like:
Which hazardous product? 
How much did it contain? 
Was it enough to be a serious concern to the general population?

The label didn't say. But apparently California law insists that all products containing hazardous material be labeled.

What I'd like to know is, Do these glasses pose a threat to me or to anyone who touches them...? What about my little granddaughter ...who likes to try on her grandma's glasses...?

I could find no details...

This is definitely an unhelpful warning... It doesn't give me enough information to assess the danger... Just enough to make me wish I hadn't bought the glasses!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Pear and Parship Soup - Delicious!

I recently discovered the amazing deliciousness of Pear and Parsnip Soup!

It is also extremely simple to make...

  • Lightly fry one chopped onion and garlic in olive oil.
  • Add peeled and diced parsnips - I used a pound, because they come in one-pound bags where I shop.
  • Add 2 chopped pears... I didn't peel them.
  • Add 6-8 cups vegetable stock. (I used about 2 liters.)
  • Optional: Add a little thyme. (I didn't have any on hand the first time I made it - and it was still delicious!)
The recipe I linked to above mentions that apples can be used instead of pears... I haven't tried that yet.

Cook until the parsnips are soft. Then remove the soup from stove and blend it to a creamy consistency with an immersion blender.

Add milk or cream when serving. (I froze some of the soup before adding the  milk.)

Some of my chunks of pear and parsnip evaded my immersion blender. The soup still tasted great with a few pieces of fruit / vegetable in them.

No sugar is added - but the soup is sweet. It could be a healthy dessert...

So delicious! (If you like the flavor of pears.) A new personal favorite!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Life After Cancer: Learning More

Last June, I had a hysterectomy to remove a small cancerous growth. It was caught so early that neither chemo or radiation were deemed necessary. I was asked, however, if I wanted to attend a class where I could ask questions and learn more about life after this surgery and about the 6-month check-ups I'll need for the next five years. I agreed.

But as the date of the class approached - I seriously wondered if I wasn't wasting my time. After all, I've managed to live quite well for the past few months. I'd also read a lot about endometrial cancer online.

"I guess if I learn even one more thing, it won't be a waste of time," I commented to Terry as I headed out the door.

The class was held in a pleasant homey building used for "cancer counselling." The nurse who conducted the meeting had worked with cancer patients for many years. Both her parents also had been touched by cancer...

Half a dozen women who'd had the same surgery in June attended. (An interesting "sisterhood"!) We were all at the same stage of life - retirement, or close to it.

Not one - but two - points in the nurse's presentation made me sit up and take notice. The first was that 100% of patients with our type of cancer have abdominal fat, where estrogen is stored in post-menopausal women. This estrogen is thought to contribute to endometrial cancer...

(Uh-oh! Maybe a little abdominal weight loss will help this from happening again...)

Another comment had to do with calcium supplements: Apparently new guidelines suggest that calcium supplements should not exceed 500 mg daily, as they contribute to plaque in the arteries. The rest of the 1200 mg of calcium needed daily should be supplied by food...

(Hmmm. Which foods are high in calcium? I'll have to find out how much calcium they provide per serving and try to eat more of those... The next day I cut my  calcium supplements down, from two pills to one!)

Definitely time well-spent! And to think I considered not going!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Multigrain Date (or Raisin) Quickbread

I've reconnected with a recipe I made often before I was diagnosed with high blood sugar... and was told to limit my carbs.

I recently made "Multigrain Date Quickbread." a recipe in Anne Lindsay's Lighthearted Cookbook.

(My favorite of her many cookbooks...)

Here is the recipe online...

I wonder how it would taste made with soy flour and spelt flour (which are higher in protein)

Maybe I'll experiment another time...

My recipe comments indicate I first made it in July 1993!

Over the years, I've added notes like: Delicious even with 1 1/2 cups of oats and 1/2 cup of flour, instead of one cup of each...

This time I made the quickbread in muffin tins. I plan to freeze most of them, thawing them individually to eat as a special treat.

As colder weather approaches, I sometimes long for the comfort foods I enjoyed before I paid attention to my carb intake.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Changing Seasons, Changing Attitudes

For the first time ever, Terry mentioned going south for the winter...

I know we won't go - he never likes to leave the house in winter, even for a weekend away. It was easier when our son lived with us and was able to keep an eye on things...

But  I find it interesting that he talked about it...

The weather isn't all that cold yet, so we shouldn't really complain. Some mornings we awaken to find fresh snow on the ground. Not much, so far. A few hours later, it has mostly melted...

A few days ago, the college dome was put up, changing the soccer field into an indoor playing field. This picture shows it beginning to be inflated.

It's a big job, requiring lots of student help.

We've had to do a mental shift... Sunlight hours have become shorter. It's now dark by 6 pm... (By 7 my body thinks it's bedtime!)

Compared to our long summer days, life is very different now.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Do I Need To Set a Few Goals?

The beauty of retirement is that one doesn't have to do anything... But that can be boring!

The book "Happier At Home" made me wonder if I shouldn't set a few more personal goals. (Would I be happier if I did?!)

I do have some long-term goals: using up all my yarn and my quilting fabrics, sorting through books and clothing to get rid of things I no longer want or need. Eating more veggies. Walking more. Posting something on my blog every day...

What are some things I'd like to do more of? Bake - thought it's hard to find delicious low-carb cookies and cakes. Travel...

Then there are things I should do... sometime... Like get rid of (perhaps sell?) my remaining 300 copies of my Write it Right! spelling workbooks...

... and my excess pottery. (I have boxes full in the basement.)

Hmmm. Goal setting involves setting a time frame...

But I don't really want to deal with deadlines!

The beauty of retirement is giving myself permission to do whatever I want whenever I want!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

How Quickly We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada - a day when we remember soldiers who fought and died in recent wars, starting with World War I.

The date of Remembrance Day is based on the day World War I ended - November 11, 1918.  That really wasn't that long ago.... before my lifetime, for sure, but a mere eight months before my mother was born. My father, a few years older, lived in Europe and remembered visiting his father, a cook on the front lines.

Every year, Remembrance Day would bring to mind those terrible times, World Wars I and II...

I've never been a serious student of history, so a lot of what happened must have gone over my head... because I was shocked to read - in the autobiography of Glenn Clark, a man born in the 1880's - that although World War I took 10 million lives, the year the war ended (1918), more than twice as many as that were killed by influenza!


A Google search confirmed that the pandemic Clark refers to in his autobiography was the Spanish Flu, which in two years killed an estimated 20-50 million!

The war and then the flu... Such great tragedies! I can't imagine living through all that!

How those events must have altered the world! And how quickly we forget!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

New Gold Armistice Coin

For several years I studied botanical drawing and painting with local artist, Kerri Weller.

I recently found out that she designed a new gold coin that is being issued for Remembrance Day this year...

A whole collection of coins have been minted for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice at the end of the First World War.

I'd love to buy Kerri's coin - too bad they cost almost $3,000. At that price, I'd be afraid to keep it in the house!

Instead of admiring the coin, I enjoy this picture of it!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Signs of a Season Changing

Our beautiful autumn weather is still here.

But there are signs that winter is just around the corner...

Last Sunday we switched our clocks back to "regular" time. It now gets dark around 5 pm...

And two Sundays ago, we had our first snowfall.

Happily (for me - a non-skier) the snow disappeared a day later.

But my son reminded me that as soon as there is a significant accumulation, we'll go dog-sledding. A personal dog-sledding "voucher" was his Christmas gift to me last year.

I'm looking forward to the adventure... I even bought snow pants for the occasion.

But for now, I'm ready to wait... I'm in no hurry to see the return of snow.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Avoiding Knitting Pain: My New Approach

I have been an avid knitter for many, many years. For a few years now, my wrists have become sore whenever I undertake a new knitting project.

Any new (and exciting) project invariably makes me want to keep on knitting, even after my tired wrists begin to hurt.

(I know any non-knitters reading this might laugh at the idea that knitting could be "exciting"! But fellow knitters understand!)

A number of years ago, a friend who is an occupational therapist suggested I wear removable wrist splints, to keep my wrists still - and thus avoid painful twisting movements.

I tried... and I still wear them from time to time.  It works to a degree...

But not being able to move my wrist is not comfortable. I keep wondering if the new hand movements I am forced to make with the splints on will create new muscle pain.

For the past two years, when the pain becomes unbearable - when I wake up at night in pain - I've gone for physiotherapy. My hope was that physio would completely heal my wrists.

Unfortunately I never reached the point of total comfort. Wrists take a long time to heal. There is no quick fix. Equally bothersome is the fact that once I start knitting again, the cycle of irritation and pain begins all over again.

This year I'm trying a new approach: Online I've found some hand-stretching exercises for knitters. I do these daily. I've also bought a book on the ergonomics of hand knitting, hoping to learn what I'm doing wrong - what's irritating my hands - and how to correct it.

This may mean learning to knit holding the needles or yarn in a different way... Which makes me wonder if - after so many years of knitting - I can learn to knit in a different way and still enjoy it. My hands have developed their own "muscle memory": Will I be able to change how I knit?

For now, I've taken a break from knitting as I begin to read the book...

(Expect further updates to follow!)