Friday, August 29, 2014

Frugal Thursday & Party Plans

There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, 
But a foolish man swallows it up.
Proverbs 21:20


It was a very busy day Thursday dealing with mom's birthday party planning and financial matters.

It is only a small party but because I live out of town it is always a bit more difficult to get everything organized. I've bought her a small gift that she will really like. It is a child size pendleton blanket that she can use as a lap blanket. It will be much warmer than the one I made her a few years ago.

I hope mom will enjoy herself and feel special for the day. I've been rather worried about her as she has been feeling frail and weak for some time now.  This will be her opportunity to see those that mean a lot to her. She will be 79 on Sunday.  Many years ago I used to tell her she will live until she is at least 82 because she used to think she wouldn't make it to the age she is now.    If we are blessed to be able to celebrate her 80th birthday party I hope to try and do something special.  Maybe invite relatives from afar. I have to start thinking ahead for that one.  It would have to be a surprise or she may not like all the fuss so we will have to see how it goes.


 I sourced out the place to purchase the cake, appetizer tray and food. I also made sure my niece will be escorted to mom's residence and invited my nephew and his family and his mom (my SIL). My other nephew won't be there as he is going for a few days holiday to Las Vegas. He has been doing double duty this summer at his job and studying for his GRE exam to get into graduate school so he has long planned this one weekend away before university starts again. He told me yesterday that he will visit his grandma next week before classes begin.

Mini version of a blanket I bought mom many years ago. I have her big one.


I also undertook a number of activities to shave a few dollars from my monthly costs. I'm always looking for ways to be frugal and cut monthly costs. How about you?  Do you spend time looking for savings too and what do you do with it?

I have a friend in Kenya who could use a little help to finish his university and graduate and that is where I put some of my savings. His name is Elvis and he is finishing his medical studies in Kenya (read more to the upper right of my blog). Let me know if you would like to help him. Any amount would be appreciated by him and his single mom who looks after 3 other children on her small income as a worker in a flower factory.  If you live in Europe, just think she might have picked the flowers in your vase.! Life is very hard for your average person in Kenya. The vast majority are not privileged to have a big income or eat more than a meal a day.


Today I saved money by doing a number of things:

* cancelled my movie package on my television programming.  This is a savings of $18. (Canadian) per month.  Initially I purchased it when it was a promotional deal. I don't usually do this but was feeling extravagant at the time. I meant to cancel the deal after 3 months but ended up keeping it for 6.


* opted into another package of channels because of a 6 month promotional deal at half price ($9.00 Canadian). The cost of the package is the same as my movie package but is currently 50% for half a year. I'll decide in that time whether I want it or not. I will likely cancel it before the 6 months is over or just at the 6 months.

* switched my long distance call plan. The cost is half of what I have been paying ($6.00 a month).  I haven't been using that many minutes per month so this works out for me.  It is easier for mom to reach me when she needs me than for me to reach her. So she is the one that needs unlimited long distance calling plan. Her plan is $20. (Canadian) per month.

I also look after my mom's bills and try to save her money wherever I can. Given her many moves last year, the telephone company made a royal mess of  a number of things. After several attempts to straighten things out I discovered that they are now giving her a $10 discount each month for the next year. They call it a loyalty discount.  She really has been loyal to them in choosing to stay with them over 40 years!


* I asked my telephone company where else I can save money on my bill?  Apparently I am already paying for the least expensive options for the telephone, internet and television bundle.  But I have been a loyal customer of the same company for a very long time also so they gave me a 6 month discount of $5. for each of the services. It amounts to a total savings of $90. They said it was in recognition of the fact that I do have other options for my telecommunications needs.  I can get a much cheaper telephone rate somewhere else or cut my home phone altogether. I have Skype and I have unlimited cell service. However I keep the home phone the same for my mother's sake (reliability of service, same phone number, voice mail, etc). I would also probably be paying more on the internet and television without a bundle. Of course, I am always assessing whether to stay with the company or go elsewhere. I've determined that for my needs at this time, this company gives me the best rates and the best services for those rates. If things change, I can always change providers


* they also suggested I delete my paper bills for a monthly savings of $2. but I wasn't quite ready to do that given all the issues I've had over the last year (or so I thought with my mom's bill and my bill.  It turns out I misread my bill but I still like to check them over on paper not on the computer screen.  I dislike looking at documents on line but once I feel comfortable that things are straightened out with the service providers I can easily give up the paper bills. Update:  the very next day after posting this I learned that the telephone company has been challenged over the issue of charging people for paper bills. I also understand that they have recently stopped charging seniors, the disabled and those that don't have internet (another $2. saved on my mom's monthly bill).  In the not too distant future, the federal (national) government will prevent the telephone company from charging anyone for a paper bill. Now if only they would also stop the banks from charging us for the paper bills too and let the consumer decide how they want to receive their bills. Many would opt and have already voluntarily opted to receive bills on line to save paper and impacting negatively on the environment.  For those that can't or don't have internet usage (the economically disadvantaged, the disabled and many seniors), should not be charged for the privilege of having a paper bill.

* colouring my own hair. I have saved quite a lot of money by buying and applying henna to my roots every month. I go to the hairdresser only once or twice a year to get my entire head of hair coloured, get a few highlights and/or a trim. This usually costs $45.00 and I save $25 a month doing my own hair. I actually save more than this because my former hairdresser charged $45 a month to apply the henna, wash and blow dry and I now only pay $25 (different hairdresser).


* contacted my financial advisor to let him know I want to eliminate critical illness insurance. This costs $120. (Canadian) a month. I've been paying it for 16 years and I think it is time to stop especially since I am not working any more. I've tried to eliminate this several times before. My advisor always convinces me to keep it and to cancel my life insurance instead. I keep my life insurance mainly because lenders like to know you have insurance and I want to have a small amount for loved ones if needed when I ultimately pass.

* returned a pair of winter woolen socks and exchanged them for a different pair. Savings: $3.36 (Canadian)

* purchased an African basket from Ghana for a savings of $15.00 plus tax off the original price. Believe it or not, I purchased the basket at a postal outlet of all places.  Chatting with the proprietress I discovered that she was born in Kenya, a land that I love so much. She is clearing out old stock to make way for the new.  My basket got quite a lot of compliments as I wondered about the west side neighborhood doing my errands.

* shopping at a new to me store for a food items. I was pleased to discover that a lot of things I like are much less expensive there (examples: flax seeds, some cheeses, whole meal bread, molasses). I saved about $8.00 (Canadian) off just a very few items that I would normally purchase in my own neighborhood.

My work on "tweaking" the budget is not done. 

I still have a number of areas that I know I can eliminate and which I hope to do very soon. 

That brings me to the question how many of you my dear readers have critical illness insurance.

How much coverage do you actually have and do you think it is worth it? 


Personally, I think that once you hit 55 years or older, the critical illness is not so important. Most people are going to get critically ill before that time.  If they get critically ill when they are older then they usually have no need for a smaller lump sum for vacations or bills.  You usually have equity in your home for those purposes and some more fortunate people have more than adequate income in savings. If you don't have either of these, you probably wouldn't buy critical illness insurance as it would cost too much.


My benefit is not that great in the event I was to get very ill. When I purchased the insurance I was a lot younger but because I noted every little, small thing that was wrong with me at the time it ended up costing me a lot of money.  The primary issue was whiplash and back problems brought on by car accident and also some ear, nose and throat issues caused by a skating accident when I was a teenager.  These few problems and a bit of excess weight caused me to end up paying much more than I was expecting. Whenever I ask my advisor why I need this insurance he says to pay off bills or take a vacation if I should live long enough (3 months) after getting critically ill (cancer, stroke, heart attack...that kind of thing). When I was working and not retired it made more sense to me.  I was far too busy to scrutinize expenditures and maximize savings by implementing frugal measures and routines.  Even now that I am retired, I still don't have a lot of excess time for these two activities but I make time every year to evaluate where I'm at.  I'm retired now and eliminating critical illness insurance seems to be a good way to go. I've already notified my advisor by email so he wants to meet next month if I am free and get me to sign some papers. Perhaps he will try to convince me again but this time I am pretty certain. I also want to give up the accidental death coverage through my previous employer.


Total savings:  Approx. $265. dollars. $54 savings is spread over 6 months. The $120. on critical illness insurance won't be saved until my advisor gets me to sign papers next month. So real savings this month of August is about $91.to be used for charitable works and mom's birthday present.  Not too bad and soon I will have more savings. More tweaking of the budget and any resulting savings will allow me to continue with my ongoing charitable work in Kenya and also toward saving for household needs (renos, appliances, etc.).

 I'd like to hear your thoughts about your own experiences, if any, with critical illness insurance.

{Photos of flowers were all taken in Kenya.  Please do not use for Pinterest or any other purpose.  I hope I don't offend anyone but recently I found a number of my blog photos on Pinterest and no one had ever asked to use them. I guess this is kind of the purpose of Pinterest but I don't subscribe to that kind of usage.}

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Simple Living

 ‘Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.’
 ~Walter Hagen




Normally I do more reading over the winter but this summer with the heat I've managed to stay cool by staying put and reading.  Here is a photo of this week's reads.


I've finished the two books on top the pile but am still working on The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra CouvĂ©e.  This is an interesting story of how Boris Pasternak's classic book, Doctor Zhivago became a weapon used by the CIA in the cultural Cold War to provoke dissent in the former USSR. Read more here if interested. Though it isn't the main thrust of the story, I'm fascinated by just how much the Russian people love(d) poetry and how much a part of life it was for many.

I'm still reading The Blood Sugar Solution , The Lost Art of Gratitude and Laced with Poison, (my 3rd mystery novel of the year).  After that I have a new book I purchased called, Obama's Wars and some other books I want to take out of the library. When I finished reading The Emperor of Paris, I successfully completed my reading goal of 40 books for the year. I think this was the most books I've read in a year since I started keeping track a few years ago. I don't read every day.  I might read two days a week but when I really like a book and it is a longer one, I usually read it every day until finished.  This pace suits me because I also have time to do other things. I do like to set some goals so that I actually have a target that keeps me moving forward.

I'm still engaging in my "secret activity" several times a week. I've had a series of ups and downs, especially these past two weeks, but I persevere. I'm hoping I will begin to see some tangible benefits beyond the immediate stuff I've noticed.  I also need to see if any benefits are lasting or temporary. More to come later.

I've also been busy preparing to go out of town, keeping busy around the house to see what I can clear out and recycle & keeping in touch with family and friends. 

I had one friend move back from the prairies and has been here for a few weeks only to be moving again.  This time to the City of Toronto which is about 5 hours by plane to the east of where I live. He expects to be gone for a year or two as gets his career headed in a different direction.  Yet another friend is also looking for work again. That will make the second job this year. He is a terrific worker but needs to find a job where he isn't the only one putting in 150% of the physical effort.  Otherwise I fear he will burn himself out with all the physical demands of the job.

Our province has been having a teacher's strikes since mid-June 2014.  A friend who works as an assistant to disabled children in the classrooms has been affected by the strike and doesn't know when she will be able to return to work. All teaching staff, students and parents too have been affected. Quite likely all support staff and management staff have also been affected but I am not 100% certain of that. There is still no new deal in sight though the school year begins in a week or so.

It is a very sad situation as teachers have been terribly affected over the summer months with financial losses. I don't have little ones at home but there will be many parents who have to manage child care as they juggle work demands. Our government is trying to pay them some money that has been saved by not paying the teachers. I view this as trying to score political points against the teachers. Nonetheless I'm sure many parents can really use the funds to help pay for child care.  Hopefully things will soon change soon for the better.

An elderly friend broke her hip and underwent hip replacement surgery in late May.  We finally were able to get together for lunch at her place today before another mutual friend drove her to do some errands.  Though we didn't have much time together it was nice to catch up with her. She is looking remarkably well and is getting around very well too though she still needs to take it easy as she recovers.

Now that the weather is transitioning to Fall, I've been spending a bit of time thinking about what I need to round out my wardrobe for the coming cooler weather.  Of course I always do so on a budget this week was no exception.  I saved hundreds of dollars on my purchases and purchased everything brand new.  I have nothing against buying second hand but seldom do I ever find what I need in the colours and sizing that I need. It is always much easier for me to buy new if I can find a good sale. To give you an example of the sales, I was able to purchase a Fall jacket for $18 (original price $120 Canadian). It is something I will be able to wear for years to come so I am quite pleased.

It is still very warm here in Vancouver. Today was deceptive and a little time spent outside at my friend's place made me yearn for the cool of the fan.  But I have noticed a distinct change in the air in the early mornings. Past experience tells me that by the 1st of September there will be a definite chill in the air.  Though the days may be warm, you will know that Fall is not far behind.

I've been hoping to have some completed works in progress to post and show but haven't met any crafting deadlines. In fact, I've found it too warm to really get into crafting.

Instead, in keeping with my one of my guiding words for this year (simplify), I'm working toward simple living, not simply living, I've been making time for the things that matter to me: friends and family, reading, health and routines, and keeping pockets of stress free time to relax and enjoy the simple life.  This is actually harder to do than not. I keep reminding myself with quotes and pictures of flowers and taking time to smell real flowers.

I hope all of you are coping well wherever you are. I end with a beautiful scene from my fair city, Vancouver. Enjoy!



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Linking with Our World Tuesday

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane

When I was a child Sundays & nights were always a busy time. Family outings, dinners, church services, television and last minute home work filled my day.

Often I would have knots in my stomach because I didn't do my homework when I should have because weekends were always a busy time at my house and playing and church were more fun than doing homework.

Needless to say I didn't look forward to Monday's and getting back to classes. As much as I really did love school, I didn't like returning to school with unfinished homework and I would get so anxious about it that I could hardly get the work underway as the minutes ticked on through Sunday night.

Back then I was very much a procrastinator on weekends in so far as homework was concerned.

I don't think I ever outgrew the dislike of impending Monday mornings though I have no longer suffer "Monday blues".


Just out of curiosity, did any of you dear readers ever suffer from Monday blues or anxiety over unfinished homework on weekends? 

I'd like to think I wasn't alone in my feelings and experiences though it isn't something I've heard heard my friends admit to.

One thing I did look forward to on Sunday nights was the "The Wonderful World of Disney".  An hour long children's program featuring the work of Walt Disney. That was always a highlight of the week.
I also looked forward to watching "The Ed Sullivan Show". Ed Sullivan had a variety show in which he introduced many new acts (entertainers) which went on to be very famous in North America.  Acts like Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

Mr. Sullivan also had many established acts and entertainers on his program; most of whom I enjoyed for years afterward.

One entertainer I really enjoyed was Doug Kershaw, better known as the "Ragin Cajun". He so impressed me with his unique style of fiddle playing.  I'm sharing a more recent video of Mr. Kershaw here. He must have already been in his 70s when this video was made.  I just marvel at his energy!



I don't exactly know why I like fiddle music so much. I didn't hear a lot of it as a child but whenever I did, it was in my blood. Kind of like bagpipes. I actually heard more bagpipe music as a child than fiddle but I truly love the stringed instruments whether it be folk music, country music, or classical.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Grey Skies and Garden Greens

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend wherever you may be in the world. In my part of the world it has been raining heavily all week. I was looking forward to having rain because it has been so hot and humid for me this summer.


Unfortunately I was not counting on the arthritic pain that came along with the rains. I've been moving more slowly this week as a result and not feeling up to much of anything.  After 5 days of rain, I am feeling better today.

As you can see from the photos, we've had thick gray skies with a sliver of blue (lower photo) but so far it hasn't rained today.

I was disappointed in my garden this year. Nothing really grew as it should. Some things matured too quickly and died.  Like the corn I like to plant most years so the squirrels can have some food. The sweet peas which I planted for the bloosoms also died rather quickly.

Even container plants which have always done well for me, like pansies and geraniums, died rather quickly even though I did dead head and water them.  I thought the pansies had died altogether.  But just the other day they started blooming again so I hope they will last for a little while yet.

I can't really complain too loudly about the lack of gardening success for I don't really tend to my garden too much except to water it almost daily and deadhead the container plants.

Everything looks a bit wild, lol!

Just when I thought none of the vegetables would grow I see the kale is looking healthy and the brussels sprouts are suddenly doing better too. Even the tomatoes are finally showing signs of growth.  Perhaps all is not lost just yet. I will be glad to use anything that grows. Sadly the sunflowers I planted for the birds didn't grow very big and are almost dead now after the heavy rains this week.

Almost ready to use. I've seen smaller leaves on bunches in food stores.

The strata council where I live will soon be uprooting all the gardens to test for membrane damage.  Hopefully next year I can plant and tend my garden without worrying what will happen to it. Perhaps next year things will grow better.

I've never grown these before but they look almost ready to harvest too. I've got a few bunches of them.

I have kept very busy trying to get healthy and lower my blood glucose levels (with some success),  looking after my mother's many needs and hosting some visitors a few times.  I haven't had a whole lot of time for much else, including the garden.

Thank you to all those who commented on my last post about trying to help me find pajamas and warm socks for my mother. I had been looking on line and not finding what I needed in the right sizes.

Last night I finally made it to several brick and mortar stores to see whether the selection was any better than what I've been seeing on line.  I was able to find what I needed:  4 sweatshirts with long sleeves and 3 coordinating sleepwear pants.

These are the tops (and one cami on top). Two of the long sleeved sweatshirts have a bit of glitter. 
 
It took some doing to find the right sizing and colours to coordinate tops and bottoms. But I'm happy with what I found for now. She wants to start wearing pajamas throughout the day so she can keep warm so I've bought things that don't scream "pajamas".

I will still be looking for thicker sleepwear.  If I cannot find them I will try and make some as the fleece and flannel selections will soon be in stock in the fabric stores. I will also wait to see how mom fares wearing what I've just purchased.  I labelled all the clothing today and hemmed one of the bottoms. I put together mom's favourite snack foods since she often says she cannot eat the food served to her at the residence.  On those occasions she needs something else on hand.  My brother will be taking everything up when he goes to visit mom on Sunday.  When I see her on her birthday later in the month I will assess how the clothing has worked out and take some measurements for the socks she still needs to ward off the chills.

Last, but not least, I just want to mention that there is still time to help Elvis in Kenya (if you wish, you can read more about him at the side bar on the right of my blog).  Elvis will take his last class at university in a week or so. He will then need some help with graduation costs and some small funds to help him while he looks for work. If anyone can assist, please let me know.  I know Elvis and his mom who raises 3 other school age children will thank you so much!

Linking with Our World Tuesday

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Health Update

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

I hope you are all enjoying life wherever you are.  In my part of the world it is summer and this summer has been very hot. Believe it or not the summer has passed by so quickly for me and I have yet to do any summer activities such as picnicking, going to the beach for the day, strolling parks or having barbeques. I did manage to have a few short term summer visitors though it seems so long ago now. I also managed to have a few people for dinner in the patio garden area while my flowers were still in bloom.

My garden was in on time early this year but I haven't really had a chance to enjoy it after the first month or so. It has been so hot here and I am afraid I do not do well in the heat. I am not sure why too but the vegetables seemed to mature early and start dying off. Just this past week the flowers in containers and some of my vegetables seem to have revived though so perhaps there is still some hope for late harvest.



I've been very busy this past few months with health issues; my own and various family and loved ones.  I've also been busy with a number of needs that my mom has and trying to get her positioned for the coming colder months.  She has been having a lot of challenges trying to keep warm enough and staff in care homes do not like attending to residents throughout the night to make sure they are not too cold or not too hot. Once they have you in bed, that is pretty well it and mom is not in any way able to help herself. So I've been trying to find pajamas for her that will need to be adapted.

So far I've had no success in finding large enough pajamas or even pajamas made of flannel. I may have to take a trip across the border to Washington State to see what I can find. I also need to try and find thermal socks that won't cut off her circulation. It seems that socks are made so narrow these days.

Early summer photo.
One of the alternatives I've been exploring is knees bands that are made of far infrared material. Supposedly this material helps people who suffer from arthritic pain. It sounds to good to be true but I've read a lot of testimonials saying how much various garments have helped different users.

Ideally I would get some longjohns for mom but they would have to be custom made since they are not in her size off the rack.  Buying a garment made of this material is an investment which I'm hesitant to make.  The garments cannot be washed in the very hot water that care homes use so I might order the clothing for nothing.

I think I had better try the flannel or fleece options first but locating a seamstress who makes adaptive clothing where my mom lives is not that easy. The one person I did speak with said it would cost too much to make something from scratch.  She also recommended I purchase men's sweatpants (available locally) which she could then adapt. I will look into all these options and try and find the most effective thing to do.

Beyond that I am constantly looking for food snacks that mom can have without refrigeration. Her shared room doesn't have space for her mini-fridge. She shouldn't need all this extra food but she absolutely can't seem to eat much of what they provide her. I don't know how the other residents manage because truthfully I've tasted some of the food. Though it looks and smells fine it is usually too salty, too sweet or too mushy.

Last but not least I've been looking for mobile services such as hair care and masseuses that can help to make her feel well groomed and pretty or relieve some of her constant pains from arthritis. It all keeps me very busy. At the end of the month my brother and I will make a trip to go and see her and celebrate her birthday. I am hoping this will boost her spirits a bit as she hasn't been well with infections and chronic pain this past little while. If you are prayer warrior, please say some prayers for her.



Many of you will know that I have also been spending a lot of time on my own health and trying to get my blood sugar down. I went to the doctor today and was so thrilled to hear that I have dropped a full point in my blood glucose readings. This means I'm very close to normal! I am very excited and happy about that. All my other tests were normal too with the exception of the liver which the doctor wasn't too concerned about just yet for reasons I can't quite regurgitate. So I guess we will keep an eye on that and see where things are at later. As for weight loss, that is still elusive. I did manage to lose a few of the pounds that I had recently gained but it took months of effort. At least it is a loss and not a gain. I'll take it!!

So basically all of this to say I'm pleased with my personal progress and hope that I can keep up the effort and the good progress. I can tell you that it is taking most of my time so I'm blogging less these days.  Since it is summer and most people are somewhat busy, this is probably okay.

I am still pursuing my secret thing that I hinted at a few weeks ago. I need to give it more time to see if it is really going to help me and then I will make a special post about it because it deserves a post of it's own.

I hope you are all doing well and I look forward to reading your posts soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Chicken Lickin'


This Chicken-Cauliflower-Cheese casserole was a welcome change from plain old roasted chicken.



I used boneless chicken breast baked with cauliflower florets, diced green onions, sliced mushrooms & mushroom soup for the sauce.  I baked the chicken at 350 degrees before adding all the other ingredients. 

You could also par boil the cauliflower florets to cut down on cooking time. I added some water to my mushroom soup but if you want a thicker sauce, omit the water or use it very sparingly.

I topped the casserole with sliced cheddar and mozzarella cheese and baked for another 20 minutes. It gives the appearance of skin on the chicken.  Serve with rice and side dish. I served mine with brown rice and a side dish of a simple mango salad (diced red onions, chopped red pepper and chopped mango).

Yum!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August Begins

It's BC Day weekend here in my province in Western Canada.

Every first Monday of August is known as British Columbia Day, BC Day or B.C. Day, in the province of British Columbia. It is a statutory holiday and gives Canadians in the province the chance to celebrate their achievements or relax with friends and family members.

This is always a busy week/weekend in the city. Not only is it Gay Pride week and many gay and straight people alike come from out of town to take in the parade. I've yet to attend.  It is also the week for the Celebration of Lights, an international fireworks competition. It is rather difficult to get down to the waterfront to watch the lights unless you are capable of walking far distances.  Parking is impossible and traffic is cut off from the area unless you are a resident.  If you have a friend in the downtown core or who lives on the waterfront you can avoid the beach crowds.  The last time I took in the Celebration of Lights was a few years ago when I was staying at a downtown hotel with a view. It's beautiful to see the light show from a balcony on an upper floor if you don't like crowds.

I am often out of town on this holiday weekend but not this year. It is a very hot and so I'm staying close to home and mostly indoors. It has been too hot for me to go out and about except for the things I absolutely must do.  It is much more comfortable staying at home near my fan and watching movies or reading good books.

A friend of mine has been raving about Medicine Walk and wanted to lend it to me after her husband reads it. Medicine Walk is written by a new to me First nations writer, Richard Wagamese.

On Friday I had to go to the library to pick up a different book on hold and I saw Medicine Walk on the "fast read" shelf.  I started reading it right away and finished it the next day



Here is the description of the book from Amazon

By the celebrated author of Canada Reads Finalist Indian Horse, a stunning new novel that has all the timeless qualities of a classic, as it tells the universal story of a father/son struggle in a fresh, utterly memorable way, set in dramatic landscape of the BC Interior. For male and female readers equally, for readers of Joseph Boyden, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas King, Russell Banks and general literary.      Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He's sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they've shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son's duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.
     What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon's end. From a poverty-stricken childhood, to the Korean War, and later the derelict houses of mill towns, Eldon relates both the desolate moments of his life and a time of redemption and love and in doing so offers Frank a history he has never known, the father he has never had, and a connection to himself he never expected.
     A novel about love, friendship, courage, and the idea that the land has within it powers of healing, Medicine Walk reveals the ultimate goodness of its characters and offers a deeply moving and redemptive conclusion.

I'm finishing this pile of books I featured in an earlier blog post.  I'm at the tail end of Beautiful Ruins and about half way through  Laced with Poison and The Lost Art of Gratitude.  As I read the latter book by Alexander McCall Smith, it seems so very familiar. I think I've read it within the last two years but there is no harm in reading it again. I'm enjoying all 3 of these books and will likely finish them all this week.


I also picked up the book, That Part Was True, in large print at my local library just because it was on a shelf with Medicine Walk. I will often read the first few pages of a book that looks interesting and if it grabs my attention, I take it out. Here is how the book is described on Amazon.


When Eve Petworth writes to Jackson Cooper to praise a scene in one of his books, they discover a mutual love of cookery and food. Their friendship blossoms against the backdrop of Jackson's colorful, but ultimately unsatisfying, love life and Eve's tense relationship with her soon-to-be married daughter. As each of them offers, from behind the veils of semi-anonymity and distance, wise and increasingly affectionate counsel to the other, they both begin to confront their problems and plan a celebratory meeting in Paris--a meeting that Eve fears can never happen.

I've been going out several times a week to the Kitsilano ("Kits") neighbourhood. It is related to something new that I'm trying lately for my health (and which I may post more about later).  While I was in Kits on Friday I stopped in at the local Flight Center.

I'm now researching whether to take a trip to Europe in the Fall when the crowds have largely gone home. There is a lot to figure out first:  travel arrangements and availability of travelling companions, hotels, tours, passport renewal and visas.   If I can accomplish everything and actually get to a destination or two,  I will certainly be posting more about that later!


August too is a busy time this year for catching up with friends near and far. Three of them have birthdays this month so I managed to send out birthday cards and send birthday greetings by phone.

I  have one friend that has started a new job and has been trying to get together with me for awhile  but so far it hasn't worked out. I tell her not to stress too much as it will happen in due time. I have another friend in Colorado who I've been busy with in email and phone calls. A long time friend just moved back from Winnipeg and it took us a week but we managed to get together for a cool refreshment last weekend.  Then another long-time friend from Calgary was in town doing renovations on the family home.  Plans to get together didn't pan out but we managed an impromptu get together the night before she left which was very nice.  Finally a newer, local friend and I were able to catch up over coffee and lunch earlier this week despite a few weeks of being unable to sync our schedules.

Late this month is my mom's birthday and I hope to make an out of town trip to visit her then. My brother, nephew, niece and I always visit her for the day and get a dinner and cake organized.  This year my nephew can't join us.

Next week I will be meeting an elderly friend I haven't seen since around February. We were actually supposed to get together in May but sadly she tripped over a lamp cord, fell and broke her hip and landed in hospital for hip replacement surgery.  I didn't even know until about two weeks ago.  She is still recovering but has invited me to lunch next Wednesday. I volunteered to take lunch to her but she has hired help so she said she will be ready for my visit. It will be nice to see her again. She and I always have so much to talk about, lol.

In closing, I want to let you know that Elvis in Kenya, pictured in the lab coat is hoping to finish classes in just over 2 weeks.

If you can help him to have a graduation ceremony and possibly contribute to a small fund to help him make the transition from student to adulthood, that would be awesome.  I will continue to write about Elvis for another month or more as he makes the transition in case anyone would like to help him.  Donations large or small are greatly appreciated and can be sent to kerichojoy[at]gmail[dot]com

Please also keep my friend Jonah in prayers He is waiting on so many things right now and just praying for the doors to open.

Have a wonderful August!

Joining in with Our World Tuesday






Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beautiful Summer Sky


I'm making one more appeal to help Elvis finish his university studies. His last day of classes will be August 20th and I've managed to finish paying for his tuition and all his living costs.

 Any donations would be welcome to help pay for the graduation costs and ceremonies. Graduation will be a huge milestone for his family.

Donations gratefully received at kerichojoy[at]gmail[dot]com

In other news, the boy I was going to help go to vocational high school in Liberia has had a set back. All the schools in Liberia have been closed and there is a state of emergency due to the Ebola virus now making it's way in Western Africa.

We need to pray for these people in west Africa, all the medical staff who help them and put their lives in great danger, and for protection against the spread of the virus to the western nations.

This is very serious business.

My American friend lives just outside of Monrovia, Liberia and cares for a number of children orphaned by the civil war.  She has been sending money for the care and feeding of these children for years now but only moved there a few months ago so the children, including several teenage boys are not used to having adult supervision and direction.

All the children she looks after have now got to take care not to come into contact with outsiders (including friends) and need to stay home from all school and outside activities.

Food and extra medicine for a 2 month period have been purchased but the children don't quite understand just how serious things are.

Prayers for their cooperation and understanding would be appreciated.

Many thanks!


Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Fresh


Summer is a wonderful time for eating fresh vegetables. This crunch salad of red peppers, tomatoes, English cucumbers, radishes, avocado, red onion and romaine lettuce hit the spot. I sprinkled some fresh lime juice over the salad in place of dressing but a tangy dressing would also go well with this.

I grilled some marinated steaks and had some fried bread to go along with it for an easy dinner with a friend.

I hope you are all enjoying your days!
Have a wonderful week ahead.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Juicing

This week I had a nice treat. As some of you know I am into juicing. Earlier this year I bought a blender which allows me to pulverize whole fruits and vegetables with a little water and other goodies.  Every other week or so I put the blender to good use and enjoy making and drinking berry smoothies and green smoothies.

I seldom buy whole pineapples due to the cost.  But I found one on sale this week for $2.99. I thought it would make a nice change for juicing.

I added several slices of pineapple to a half a head of  romaine lettuce, ground flax seeds, a bit of ice and water. I pulverized it altogether in my blender and  made a green juice. It was nice and refreshing. Not too sweet because I only used a few slices of pineapple.

Pineapple has many wonderful vitamins and I know a lot of my friends who live in the tropics get a lot of pineapple in their diets.  But for those of us in Canada, a pineapple is a rare treat.

Pineapples are loaded with Vitamin C, B1, and smaller amounts of B2, B3, B5 and B6. It is also a great source of manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene, folic acid, dietary fibre and an enzyme called bromelain.

I won't go into all the benefits of these vitamins, minerals and enzymes.  I will just say that a pineapple's nutrients are good for digestion, many inflammatory conditions (like gout, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel, etc.), respiratory conditions (it dissolves excess mucous) and sore throats.



Pineapple is very sweet and must be taken in moderation by those who have blood sugar issues so if you are diabetic you will want to use it sparingly.

Enjoy!

African Music & Happenings