Tuesday, December 31, 2019

It's Been a Great Year!

For our family - and for me in particular - 2019 was a great year...

The biggest blessing was the safe arrival of our grandson - whom Terry was finally able to hold at Christmas. When he first saw the baby in November, Terry had a cold, so he didn't come too close.

The two trips I took -  to Maui and to the Grand Canyon - were real gifts! How often do we get to travel with grown-up children and their families?!

Glad I discovered that a medication I was on for diabetes was causing debilitating side effects. My legs were losing strength and my joints were stiff. I wondered if my walking days were over.

An online search for side effects of the medication informed me that a few people do develop stiffness after taking it for a while. It was a rare but documented side effect. I've been off it since mid-October, and am walking much more easily again.

I'm looking forward to a year that sounds like perfect vision: 20/20!

Hopefully it too will be a wonderful year!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Christmas Surprise...

In our family, I'm known as the impulsive parent. Terry tends to plan things well in advance...

So I was surprised - well, shocked, actually - when, three days before Christmas, he said: The weather looks good over Christmas. Why don't we visit the kids in Toronto and Guelph.

So we did!

The weather was sunny and warm!

We drove on highway 7.
From Peterborough to Toronto, we saw no snow.

After a day in Toronto, we drove to Guelph, where there was some snow...

Then, the next day, home again - before winter weather returned!

A great surprise visit for us all!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Walking Weather? Maybe Not!

So far this winter, we've had snow - then warmer weather - then freezing rain.

Yesterday was a sunny day - but as I looked outdoors in the early dawn, I noticed icy patches on the driveway and on the road. I guess my outdoor walking days are done for a while.

At least I can walk indoors... I'm thankful to have Bayshore Shopping Centre - with its indoor parking lot - a 15-minute drive away.

That's where I'll be heading several times a week for exercise until spring arrives! It's much more interesting walking there than on a treadmill at the gym!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Blanket Gift: A Travel Souvenir

It's fun to get Christmas gifts that bring back travel memories.

One such gift that I received this past Christmas was a soft blanket.

The design on the blanket is a map of  Grand Canyon National Park, which I visited in September.

Looking for the names of the places we visited on the map, I realize that we only saw a small part of this large national park.

Just the part on the bottom right of the map..

It would be wonderful to go back and drive through as much of the rest of the park as possible... It would take a week at least - and some parts are inaccessible by car.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Calcium Supplements

For quite a few years now, I've had "osteopenia" - but since it isn't "osteoporosis" I've tended to ignore it., though I do take calcium supplements.

Just how much calcium should be taken in supplement form?

Not more than 500 mg a day, I was told after my cancer operation a year and a half ago...

500 mg at a time because the body can't absorb more than that, a doctor recently told me. Take up to 500 mg twice a day with food, but not with any other medication.

Then in the brochure she gave me, I read that TUMS is one kind of supplement one can take. It even seems to have more elemental calcium than my supplements: 1000 mg per tablet.


I have TUMS on hand because I occasionally use it as an ant-acid...

I see the doctor again in February - after another bone-density test. I have a host of questions to ask her... I'd better write them down...

This is another medical journey I'll need to educate myself in.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Looking Back...

It's always interesting to go through old photos...

Last Christmas I was looking through old family photos and found this one from Christmas 1960.

The newlyweds in the picture are my mother's brother Ron and his new wife Evelyn, who got married in June, 1960.

They're still as active as ever - though these days, they often spend their Christmases in Palm Springs!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes for a merry Christmas...

Like many, we expect to see more family members today via Skype / Facetime than in person...

Thankful for the technology that makes all that possible!

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Trees

When I was a child, our family would drive out into the country to look for our Christmas tree. There were no tree farms back in those days. We usually found ours growing wild in a country ditch. My parents even had some clip-on decorations with real candles... Were we less worried about fires in those days?!

Over the years, we've come a long way in Christmas trees!

For the minimalist, there are "Charlie Brown Christmas trees," like this one I recently saw at a restaurant in Guelph.

A perfect tree for cats! No climbing possibilities - but still a decoration to play with!

Then, at my son's home, there was a "high tech" Christmas tree - with built in lights which can be changed from white to colored, flashing or not, via remote control...

I confess it has some appeal for me! But I think we'll be sticking with our "traditional" artificial tree - one we've had since our kids were young!

The tree - and the decorations - bring back lots of memories!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas (Camel) Memory

The Christmas card we received last year from my nephew Adam showed his family sitting on a camel... in Texas, I presume.

It reminded me that my mother, on a visit to Israel years ago, rode a camel up Mount Sinai in the pre-dawn dark... The tour guide's plan was to take them to the top of the mountain to see the sun rise.

The camel walked on the very edge of the path, my mother later told me. In the dark, I could hear rocks tumbling down the mountain side. It was so scary... Sitting up so high on the camel I had to remind myself again and again: The camel is the most sure-footed beast, the camel is the most sure-footed beast...

She made it to the top in time to see the sunrise. But, looking back, the camel ride was much more exciting than the sun rise on the top of that historic mountain.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Unusual Log Cabin Quilt Design

One of the first quilts I ever made was a log cabin quilt... long, thin "log" strips of fabric sewn around a central square "chimney." Traditionally, two sides of each square have darker colored "logs" than the other two lighter colored ones. Like a "log cabin" in the sunlight - two sides are in the light and two are in the shade. These light-dark "log cabin" squares can be placed in interesting patterns to make a lovely quilt.

I was surprised, however, when I saw a totally different kind of "log cabin" on the cover of this book... Modern Log Cabin Quilting by Susan Beal: How were these "log cabin" crosses created?! 

Fortunately our public library had the book and I was able to borrow it... It turns out that each cross is made of four identical log cabin squares... placed in such a way that they form a cross. Really different!

A second log cabin design really intrigued me: This blue and yellow pillow: Yellow "chimney" squares surrounded by strips of blue.

These are two patterns I'd really like to try!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Do I Need a Hearing Aid?!

A few weeks ago, I had a hearing test - not because I felt I was hard of hearing, but because Terry had had one. He had been told (much to my surprise!) that his hearing was perfect... Mine must be perfect, too!

You have mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears, the audio technician told me. It's good to get a hearing aid before the loss is too great. Otherwise, the brain adjusts to the loss and it's harder to correct.

You could try a hearing aid for two weeks and see if you feel it makes a difference...

I was very surprised - and a little disappointed... I really can't believe that his hearing is better than mine - even though, sometimes at night, he does hear sounds that I don't hear.

So I'm going to try it for this two-week trial period and see if it does make a difference.

But I still can't believe that his hearing is better than mine!!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Volunteering in Retirement

Before I retired, I thought I might like to volunteer at the library second hand book store. That way I could keep an eye on their used book selection...

But when I inquired, I was told that a six-month commitment was needed... 

But I like to travel and go away from time to time. I can't plan ahead for six months... 
So I didn't sign up...

Terry, a retired social worker, loves to volunteer... He attends local community meetings where he's been able to find occasional volunteer opportunities - like this Christmas breakfast put on by our community association at a local school.

After serving the staff and students, the volunteers had breakfast, too.

I'm glad he's found volunteering opportunities that meet his interests, no long-term commitment required.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

White Christmas

A few days ago, it snowed again...

My outdoor walking days are over for a while. Knowing that they were a limited-time treat, I did my best to enjoy them.

I expect  we’ll be having a “white Christmas”!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Downtown Construction

Last Wednesday Terry and I took the bus and rapid transit downtown.

On Wednesdays (and Sundays) the bus system is free for seniors. A lot of us take advantage of this when the weather is nice...

There was a brisk wind, so downtown streets weren't busy.

As we walked past Parliament Hill, we noticed a lot of construction going on.

Old buildings need to be repaired.

Below, the senate building is wrapped in plastic so that they can work in all kinds of weather.

A while back, we talked to a stone mason who had come from Ireland with his family to work on these buildings. Is stone masonry a trade that isn't taught in Canada anymore?

There are a lot of old buildings in need of repair. He expected to have work here in Canada for quite a few years.

Across the street from the parliament buildings, we noticed this wooden structure. Not sure what it is - but it has an interesting shape.

By the time we got home, the sun was setting - and my feet were sore. According to the app on my phone, I had walked more than 20,000 steps.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A "Senior" Problem...!!

I overheard the following comment at a "seniors' breakfast":

The problem with trying to remembering your age is that - about the time you remember it - along comes another birthday, and the number changes... Then  you have to start all over again, trying to remember the new number!

I can identify!!

Long before I became a "senior," one year - for some reason - I was under the impression that I was a  year older than my real age! I'm not sure how that happened...

When my next birthday came around and I realized my error, I felt a profound sadness of having lost a year of my youth... which, of course, is quite silly! I had enjoyed every single day!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Looking Forward to Spring!

This flower banner reminds me that...

... even in winter, gardeners are still thinking about spring!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Open 365 Days a Year...

Walking downtown Toronto, a few weeks ago, heading to St. Lawrence Market, I came across this sign, beside St. James Cathedral.

Open 365...

I don't know if the church is open during the day only...

But I walked in, sat down, and rested for a bit.

I wasn't alone. A few others, like me, were sitting in pews here and there.

I don't know about them, but I'm glad I found this quiet, sacred spot... in the middle of a bustling city.

If I lived nearby, I'd come here often...

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Chocolate Cherry Bread

One of the most interesting foods I've tasted lately was a loaf of chocolate cherry bread that I bought at a bakery/cafe in Dundas, Ontario (now a part of Hamilton)...

My daughter had heard good things about the Detour Cafe... Looking them up online, for this link, I see that they also roast their own coffee beans, which they sell online.

Waiting for a table to open up, I stood near a rack of fresh baked goods - and noticed a round loaf of dark brown yeast bread - chocolate cherry bread.

We bought a loaf - it was delicious! It tasted much like raisin bread - but, to a chocolate-lover like me, much better... Not too sweet - though I think I detected a few chocolate chips, which were a nice touch.

My next baking goal is to find a recipe and try to make some.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Toronto Christmas Market

The problem with outdoor Christmas markets in Canada is that they can be very cold!

That's my main memory of the Christmas Market I visited with my son's family in Toronto a few weeks ago...

Feeling sorry for those  (in red coats) taking tickets at the entrance, I headed for indoor shelter as quickly as I could!

It was fun to wander around - indoors!

(I gravitated to galleries...)

In all fairness, others did enjoy the outdoors!

There wasn't any snow - but the wind in the Distillery District - near Lake Ontario - was chilling...

(So glad I didn't plan to talk to Santa!)

His elves were very entertaining...

We ended our day in a lovely pub-restaurant...

The outdoor cold made us appreciate the warm food and good times!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

December Outdoor Walking Again!

It has been a real treat - the past few days - to go out walking in the neighborhood...

The ice or snow on the ground has mostly melted!

I headed over to the library (about a mile away) to return a book...

Then walked home through a neighborhood schoolyard.

I used to work in this building - when my kids were in elementary school. (We used to park on this side of the building in those days... I wonder why they don't anymore.)

My kids would sometimes stop by after school on their way home.

Then down a footpath shortcut I used to take... 

Lots of neighborhood memories!

Just as I arrived home, it started to snow - light, fluffy flakes... Then the sun came out...

Will the sun melt these flakes or not?!

I'd be happy with a few more days - or weeks - without snow!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Walking Outdoors... Again!

Snow has been melting over the past few days...

It's exciting for me to be able to get outside and walk again - even if it is drizzling...

I've been trying to take long walks at least three times a week. The past few weeks - with snow on the ground - I've headed to the largest indoor shopping mall in our part of town.

There I'd walk all three floors at least once (while Terry read and enjoyed coffee in the food court).

I was recently reminded that "exercise is medicine" for type 2 diabetics... So it's important for me to keep at it, whether indoors or out!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


The problem with being retired (if there is a problem!) is that... there are few deadlines - so I can fritter away my time... But now, as Christmas approaches, I want to get a few things done today...

Send cards, wrap gifts, mail checks...

And tidy up stuff that has accumulated on my desk over the course of the past few months.

Maybe I need to look at today as a day in the office - like in my working years - and get the tasks done that need to be done. I wonder if looking at the same "to do" list again and again - and never completing it - is demoralizing for me.

Maybe I need a fresh clean start - with an empty list! Nothing needs to be done!

Now that would be amazing!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

When we were last at Baker Bob's in Almonte, I noticed he was selling oatmeal sandwich cookies that reminded me of ones my mother used to make: Two flat oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with a paste of dates (and water).

I bought one. It tasted just like the ones I remember...

When I got home, I searched for my mother's recipe.

I found it in  her old Purity Cookbook.

Of course, I halved the recipe - the original calls for 6 cups of rolled oats and 2 cups of flour.

For "melted fat" I used half coconut oil and half olive oil - as I'm trying to eat "vegan" these days. (Everything must be plant-based... That means no butter!) The recipe is "vegan-friendly" - it doesn't call for eggs.

In spite of this, I did find it hard to manage the dough, which was sticky... Perhaps I should have added more flour when rolling it.

I baked about half the dough in flat rounds - then, taking a short cut, added chopped dates to the other half, and baked them as "drop cookies" - in mounds dropped from a spoon. Much easier!

I froze the flat rounds for a later date, when I'll make the date "paste" to "glue" the sandwiches together.

They are a lot more work than drop cookies. I can see why my mother stopped making them!