Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Joy of Walking Again

Hi friends,

It continues to be a busy Fall. It has actually been an incredibly busy year for me with lots of personal business to attend to and very little real holiday time. Instead I've just been moving forward and whenever I get a chance throughout the week I take moments to relax with coffee and a good book, watching good or funny television programs, getting together with friends and going out for movies.

This week at my diabetes group, I learned that I've made some wonderful progress on my health goals of losing weight. I've managed to lose 30 pounds.  This is weight that I gained in the last few years when I began experiencing tremendous knee pain and had problems walking. There were long stretches of time when I could not even walk one block. Suffice to say that this lack of mobility was not good for my health.

I tried many different things to regain mobility before I discovered that I actually have osteo-arthritis in the knees.  This problem seemed to come out of no where and hit me suddenly so it was rather a shock. I struggled with knee pain for a very long time and self - treatment before I finally told the doctor about my knee problem.  She promptly sent me for x-rays.

Some of you might remember me writing on this blog about the many ways I tried to deal with the pain:  cranial-sacral therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbal medicines, supplements, and pneumatic compression therapy. When the doctor learned of my knee pain she sent me for x-rays and physiotherapy which helped temporarily.  Ultimately, when I contacted a fitness helpline it was recommended that I buy myself some rehabilitation walking poles and start a walking program again.  I was very skeptical as I had tried using a cane to no avail and I couldn't walk more than a block. I thought how on earth am I going to walk with poles?  Anyway I did purchase the poles because I was desperate to try anything.  I  am very grateful that I did for they have given me a new lease on life.

Photo Credit: Urban Poling, Activator Poles

It took awhile to be able to learn to walk longer distances, stand for awhile or be out of the house for any length of time.  But I am now able to do all these things and lead a more or less normal life.  Some days are easier than others. I still get pain and stiffness but nothing like what I was experiencing a few years ago. I also can't just go out for a long walk like I used to. These days I limit my walking to errands and appointments. In future though I do hope to get back to long walks just for the fun of it. But over the summer there were many days when I left my home and forgot my walking poles behind. That is because I was walking so well and without pain and stiffness.  With the coming rains the stiffness has returned and I don't walk quite as upright. I can still get by without my poles most of the time but I take them wherever I go and use them when my hands are free of shopping or when I need the extra support.

I've worked very hard to walk again and have also worked hard at implementing various forms of health and fitness on a consistent basis.  The loss of 30 pounds has been an incredibly slow process despite all my efforts.  But I am very pleased with what I've been able to accomplish so far and try not to think about how some people would have lost the weight more quickly.  I've never been one of those people. In fact I gain weight incredibly easily so to make steady progress toward my goals is a good thing.  I'm hoping to be able accomplish much more in coming months.

One of the many benefits of walking again and losing the weight is that my blood pressure has improved a lot over time. Though I have never been on any blood pressure medication my blood pressure was on the high side of normal (134/76).  Then I brought it down to acceptable levels for diabetics last winter (130/76) and sometimes a bit lower (128/70).  Last week it was 122/77 and three months ago it was 122/66. I'm sure I can improve this reading a bit more in the coming months. My blood sugar levels also dropped from 8.4 in April to 7.4 in July.  I need to get tested again very soon.

If you are experiencing a limited form of mobility or are experiencing pain in your knees, I highly recommend you get yourself some walking poles or even two strong sticks that are tall enough to hold at right angles when you walk. The rehabilitation poles are not exactly like nordic walking poles since you hold them at right angles when you walk (as in the photo above).  Once you are experiencing less pain in the knees you can graduate to regular (nordic) walking poles that you hold at a slant when you walk. An ability to exercise or remain mobile really helps us keep healthy in  many others ways.  Of course, a good and healthy diet helps a lot too.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Views from My Perch & From the Street

These skies appeared above on Tuesday and captured from my patio (my perch). Though it may look cold, the temperatures are actually still rather warm.

The following photos were taken on Thursday during my stroll and a bit of "this and that" shopping.  Again the sky looks dismal but the sun smiled on us for a short while. I didn't manage to get a photo as I had my hands full of shopping!

John, of John's Island, if you are reading this, I took these photos of Fall leaves for you because you liked my dogwood tree in colour. I'm sure there are nicer trees in the hood but these ones were along my route. Most of them are immature maple trees. You may know that the maple tree is national (Canada) arboreal emblem and the maple leaf is on our nation's flag. I just love the brilliant orange and red hues in the maple trees during the Fall season.

Alas, when the winds blow and the rain falls we get all these lovely leaves falling to the ground and old man Winter is not too far behind.

The weather was still warm today but during the night as I sit in my living room I can feel a slight chill in the air. I turned on the fire place on for a while (yes it take a switch to turn on the gas).  It only takes  a little time to warm things up at this time of year.

I'm linking up with Skywatch Friday today.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Stormy Night

Hi friends,

We are well into Fall weather here.

It has either been pouring rain all week or at least very cloudy.

I always love to photograph outside my doors as the scene is ever changing even when the sky is very cloudy.

You can see we have a variety of trees, some with leave intact and in colour, others with most of the leaves gone and still others that will keep their leaves all winter.

This green and red leafed tree is a dogwood tree that sits in the corner of my garden.  The dogwood flower is the official floral emblem my province. My tree is rather young yet but in Spring I like to see it's white flowers.

This is what the dogwood flower looks like.

Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons

In the wee hours of the morning before I called it a night I heard a sound like glass being tapped. I ignored it at first but I kept hearing the sound.  I then turned out all the lights to peer outside my patio doors and found that my patio umbrella had broken off. The screws somehow came loose during the storm and were hitting the glass table top. I went out and brought the screws inside and laid the umbrella on the patio so it wouldn't fly through the air and damage anything. I waited until daylight to take the photo.

Right now there is no rain but it will probably be back soon.

UPDATE:  In retrospect, the storm and the falling over of my umbrella seems very symbolic.  For today (Wednesday) there was a shooting attack in Canada's Parliament Buildings after a soldier guarding the National War Memorial was shot (and sadly, later died). My thoughts and prayers are with all those who lead and/or guard our country., and particularly those that lost their loved one Corporal Nathan Cirillo.  Corporal Cirillo is the second military man in Canada to be killed this week. As the night falls here, many children in Parliament area schools and day cares and many staff and politicians on the Hill and in surround areas are in lock down while police continue to investigate and try to assure it is safe for them to leave.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Love in Blue & Red

Hi friends,

I wanted to share with you the wonderful socks that my blogging friend, Joanne of Cup on the Bus made for my mother.

I can't tell you how much these socks are much appreciated as they will help to keep my mother's feet and legs warm this winter.  While I can knit a bit and love to make dishcloths, I haven't tried any major projects besides a baby sweater (which I am far behind in finishing).

I want to send a big blogger "THANK YOU" to Joanne once again. If you get a chance go over and check out her blog.

I haven't been blogging much as I've been too busy with Thanksgiving, matters concerning my mom, helping a friend and trying to fit in a few of my own appointments.

There was a birthday to celebrate on Saturday. No big party just a nice dinner, a small cake and song,  and some well wishes. We both like chocolate and whipped cream.

It has been raining a lot but today it was dry and overcast though it is still very warm here.

I took a few photos for you.

More rain is on the way this week.

I'm joining in with Our World Tuesday this week.

Enjoy your week!

Monday, October 13, 2014


Hello friends,

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalms 106:1

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada.

It is when we mark the end of harvest season and thank God for all the bounty and blessings he has provided.

I still remember this special time of year from when I was quite young. At church  there would always be a cornucopia filled to the brim with squashes and gourds of various kinds during the month of October in anticipation of Thanksgiving. It would sit in a prominent place at the front of the church in front of the pulpit. Somehow it always brought me joy and a feeling of comfort.

At the same time my mother would always prepare a magnificent feast for the special day. Honestly I have never seen anyone do it quite like her and I'm not even sure how or why she started the tradition of feeding so many people on this day.  She would get up very early and literally prepare a hotel type buffet every year.  Though I enjoyed having all kinds of food to eat I used to tell her she prepared far too much food but she ignored me.  She would really want to give her very best and in so doing made all kinds of salad, vegetables and desserts.  She would also roast a huge turkey with lots and lots of stuffing and gravy.

We would eat our family meal together rather early.  We usually ate between noon and 1 p.m. because mother thought it a waste of the day to have dinner in the evening.  After we ate, people would drop in throughout the day and into the evening to share our table and visit.  It was always a great source of pleasure and pride for mother to entertain her family and loved ones in this way. And the guests really enjoyed it. My uncle would often bring someone from out of town to join us as he had a kind heart and didn't want people to be without friends and family on this day of Thanksgiving.

In my older years, I never saw another cornucopia again.  I also never saw anyone else prepare such a large feast and invite others to drop by all day and night long.

From time to time, I  invite others over for a holiday dinner and I do make more than an average dinner.  But it is nothing like the feast my mom would have prepared. I would like to retain that memory as something special to her and not try to emulate it.

I wasn't going to make dinner this year because next week I hope to prepare a lot of food for my church's monthly "love feast" and didn't want to do so much cooking so close together.  I am also feeling a bit poorly so am trying to take it easy. However I ended up preparing a meal unexpectedly. Instead of turkey and all the trimmings I prepared a ham with bone in. I love ham. I am kept it simple with just mashed potatoes, gravy and cabbage. I wasn't into making salads and other veggies today today and certainly don't need any more dessert.  It was just the "right" meal for the day.

This year at Thanksgiving I am thankful that my mom is still among us. I am thankful that my family is intact and that friends are still with me. I'm thankful for the love and provision of God. I'm thankful that there is another day that I am breathing and alive and have an opportunity to do good to others. I am happy too when God gives me joy and gladness and helps me to see the many ways that he blesses my life because let's face it, most of us have days when we don't feel too joyful or when we don't see how blessed we are compared to some others.  It is always good to remember one's blessings. I have learned that there is always someone else who has it much worse and I think there but for the grace of God, go I. I have also been privileged to travel to parts of the world where people literally have nothing. No shelter, no food, no idea where their next meal is coming from. I can truly say I am among the blessed and I don't ever want to take that for granted.

I hope wherever you are in Canada, you have enjoyed the day and that you too see many blessings in your life. However hard life is there are still blessings if we can see beyond our circumstances.

I know my friends in the USA don't celebrate until November and I wish you all a happy time in preparing for the special day in your country.

May God bless us all with another wonderful year with family and friends, food, shelter, joy and a chance to bless someone else.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Scenes from Vancouver's Chinatown

Today I had to go downtown for an appointment. I decided to stop off in Chinatown as I wasn't too far from there and I needed to find myself a bamboo steamer (to steam frozen dim sum).

I always enjoy the street scenes and today was no exception.  The array of product in a store in Chinatown is always astounding. There are also a lot of exotic to me things that I don't get to use or see every day. I  still remember my early days in Vancouver and how a trip to Chinatown was always such a delight. Buying simple things like Sandalwood soap (heavenly fragrance) was a true cultural experience.

Truth be told I only walked a square block and a few extra streets in Chinatown.  There is actually much more to see.

I loved the artful tree in front of this traditional looking roof top. There is even a bird perching on top (see side right as you are looking straight at the photo).  The sky looks rather gray. It was actually an overcast day today though it cleared up and became quite warm.

If you look off in the distance of the photo below you will see the sky scrapers. They are located in down town Vancouver just a stone's throw away.

These plants make a nice, colourful addition to the street. I am not sure if they are on sale or if they are gifts to the store owners for a new business perhaps.

All over Chinatown the evidence of economic decay is present. So many shops have closed up. For many years now Chinatown has been declining and many shop owners have migrated to the suburb of Richmond (near the Vancouver International Airport) where there is a sizeable Asian community.  I admire the business people who stick it out in Chinatown and try to keep things going. I know there have been some efforts over the years to try and revitalize this area. Sadly I think the revitalization is going to change the entire nature of the area.

Already today I saw several businesses that just do not match the historical charm and nature of the businesses here. I also saw evidence of numerous residential building projects that are going to bring in masses of residents and change the nature of the area too.

I know change is always happening but I will personally miss the charm of what was.

It was nice to see some beautiful murals in the area.  The one depicted in the photo below is adjacent to an empty lot which is scheduled for a condo project.

This ruby red lamplight  post with Chinese writing at the bottom is quite beautiful.

This sign alerts the passersby to the coming condo development. There are several other developments in the general area.

This fast food restaurant, Kent's Kitchen is a very well known and highly frequented restaurant. I stopped by for lunch.

I love this charming, yellow building. At the bottom of the building you can see that other ethnic businesses are moving.  There is now a Filipino Restaurant in what used to be a clothing store. In the next block I saw businesses run by Caucasians and Vietnamese people.  Chinatown is losing it's historic and distinctly Chinese ambience and I'm guessing that building owners are giving good incentives to other businesses just to keep things going.

I just hope that in years to come there will still be a distinctly Chinese flavour to this area even if things change.

Linking up with Skywatch Friday today.
My the time does fly!
Have a great weekend everyone :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My Tuesday

Hello friends,

It's another glorious and beautiful day here in Vancouver. After a period of heavy rainfall early in the Fall we have been having warmer than average temperatures and lots of mostly sunny days. I'm happy about that.

As you can see from my garden everything is pretty much finished for the year. The hardy geraniums are hanging on and their bright colours still make me smile when I look out. All the other plants are done for the year except the trees on my patio garden.

Even the pansies are done for the year. In fact the leaves look like they have some black spots on them which I didn't notice earlier.

I have an appointment on Wednesday morning so I'm using today to get caught up on my housework and cooking. First I've prepared a vegetable medley to go in the oven. It is primarily made up of cubed butternut squash, some eggplant, onions, a couple potatoes and whole cloves of garlic. I've mixed them up with olive oil and fresh rosemary and thyme. This will all be roasted at high heat, uncovered for about half an hour to an hour, depending on how small you chop the vegetables and how fast your oven cooks.

These vegetables are meant to accompany the barbeque ribs which I'm marinating in the bag (in photo below) with a mix of brown sugar, ketchup and vinegar.  Sometimes I add other ingredients like mustard or Worcestershire sauce for more intense flavour.  The ribs will be roasted for a couple hours on low to moderate heat (275 to 325 Farenheit) so they will be popped into the oven to cook for an hour or more before I crank up the heat and add the vegetable medley.  I don't usually make ribs because of the sugar that goes into the sauce. I think once in awhile won't hurt the blood sugar too much as long as I eat healthy most of the rest of the time.

Also I have a pot full of dried chick peas in my rice cooker.  I boil them for a minute after soaking for a short while. I boil them for 1-2 minutes then turn it off the cooker and let the chick peas sit in the pot for an hour or so. Then I boil them again in the same pot and water until cooked. I always have chick peas on hand whether canned or dried.  They are versatile and I never know when I will get a craving for hummus.

I used to be one of those people who was put off of using dried beans because of the time it takes to prepare them. I would soak the beans overnight and then cook them up the next day.  I found this rather inconvenient for my schedule.  Several of my readers suggested I prepare beans using the  quick method (boil for a minute, sit for an hour then boil until cooked). It does save time and doesn't require much pre-planning.  If you have the dried beans on hand and the time on any given day to prepare them, you are good to go.

On the stove top I am boiling up some vegetable stew made with the left over butternut squash, eggplant and onions. I've added green onions and carrots for more flavour and colour and a few potatoes will be thrown in as well. The base of the soup is chicken bouillon (store bought not home made) to which I will add some tumeric powder.  Finally, I will add a few cans of chick peas to make it nice and thick. This stew is intended for lunches Tuesday and Wednesday.

I hope to mix up some no knead bread before I am done for the day. It will need to sit overnight and be baked tomorrow.  I've made it before and posted on my blog but for the time being I can't locate the post. It is a nice bread if you don't like kneading but it does require time to let it rise overnight or all day before baking.

After all this cooking I still have to sweep and wash floors  and vacuum the front room. Fortunately I did most of the laundry on Tuesday. There is still more to do. Where does it all come from?

So that's what I'm busy doing today. I'd love to hear what you are doing.

Joining Our World Tuesday today.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

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