Followers

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Long Weekend



Sorry the photos are not so crisp. I took them with my camera phone and I have recently dropped my camera. 
The drop seems to have shaken something up inside.



It's a long weekend here in Canada with Monday being the holiday.
Stay safe.
Have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Various Kinds of Tidying Up

The weather has been very nice here for a few weeks so have been  managing to do a bit of gardening  here and there between many other appointments and social engagements.  I'm still working on trying to finish planting then I will work on cleaning all the patio furniture.  Stage 1 water restrictions were effected on May 15th a full two weeks early due to the record breaking temperatures we've had.


Meanwhile in Kenya they are experiencing record rainfalls which are expected to continue through to June.


A friend's house was damaged and needs restorative work due to the heavy rainfall experienced in his town. They had to mop up all the water that had gotten inside the house too.  The heavy duty rains have only been occurring in the last few years and so restoration work is not a business there as of yet. Anyway I'm sure most people affected by such damage could not afford to pay for that kind of work so it is just as well.



You can see from the above photo that water had made it to the front door.


There was water all around the home.


 Though this home has been damaged, many others in Kenya have been flooded out of their homes.  Still others have lost their lives due to the torrential rains. The country's infrastructure is simply incapable of dealing with the forces of nature.

In related news, I watched a documentary last night that discussed the issue of recent extreme weather events and the scientific projections as to what we can expect in future.  In a nutshell, the weather is going to get even wilder and more extreme and cities and citizens will need to adapt.

Within 35 years it is said that Canada can expect:

• Double the number of extremely heavy precipitation events - with periods of drought in between.
• 5 times as many hot days over 30 degrees.
• 100% increase in wildfires.
• 50% less snowfall across the prairies.
• More hail and 50% more ice storms.
• More intense hurricanes.

We have certainly seen a lot of evidence of heavy rains starting earlier in the season, record breaking hot temperatures, devastating wildfires such as those going on right now in the north country and a lot more hail and ice storms than I can ever recall.  It is difficult enough for developed nations to cope with these kinds of extreme and rapid changes. It is that much more difficult for developing nations to do so.  If anyone is interested in the documentary, you may be able to watch it here depending on where you live in the world.

In addition to doing a bit of work outdoors and trying to enjoy the warm temperatures before they become too hot for comfort I am also working indoors.  I've been working on the ongoing decluttering & downsizing project that has literally been going on for years.  I seem to make so much progress and then end up right back where I started after a short while but I may have hit on a solution that will help me out.

I recently read the books, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and "Spark Joy:  An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up", both written by Marie Kondo, Japanese organizational consultant.  She calls her organizing and tidying method, the KonMarie Method.  I think it was Jeanie from the blog The Marmalade Gypsy who alerted me to this approach to tidying.  After I read her thoughts on the book I investigated and found a long waiting list for the book at the library. I put my name on the list and it took at least 8 months to get a turn to read it. I actually put my name on the list for both books.

The books are easy to read and I found many of the points made by Ms. Kondo resonated with me. The author writes about her early years of organizing and decluttering experiences while still a young girl living in the family home and afterwards. Everything she tried did not really work.  Ultimately she came up with her own method and that is what she now calls the KonMarie Method.  Up until now I've been decluttering and getting rid of things.  But I  have been decluttering slowly, a bit at a time over a long period. I also was still holding on to things that I did not use but felt bad about letting go of for various reasons.  In addition, I looked for more storage and better storage solutions thinking that would help keep good control over the "stuff".  Nothing ever worked for more than a temporary period.

Ms. Kondo's years of hands on experience led her to realize that slowly decluttering doesn't work. You need to do it all rather quickly and she recommends a time line of about 6 months.  She also takes a far more radical approach to letting go of things than I did.  Some of what she suggests seem amusing to the  average North American reader, for example, saying thank you to things that  you are letting go as they have served their purpose.  But in Ms. Kondo's spiritual practise all things are imbued with an energy so saying "thank you" to your sweaters and dresses is something that doesn't seem foolish to her or many of her in country (Japan) clients.  Even though I do not practise her religion I think there is value in appreciating those things we have taken the trouble to purchase or acquire and letting them go with good thoughts and acknowledgement that they have served their purpose. This approach probably frees your  mind not to focus on any feelings of guilt or remorse for wasted funds or for not keeping what someone might have given you. Finally, Ms. Kondo believes that more storage for your things is NOT the answer and in fact leads one to forget about what it is they actually own. I can attest that this is true in my life. I was amazed to discover just how many pair of tan coloured capris I own (*smile).

As soon as I finished the first book, I commenced clearing out my closets and dresser drawers again even though I just did a similar clear out within the last year or less. I made good progress using the method and hope to continue over the next few months to make even more progress. Ms. Kondo says to work on everything over a short period rather than a long period and the short period is about 6 months. I think I can make some good progress within that time frame.  She also outlines the sequencing of what to tackle in the process of tidying up and gives rationale for why she recommends a particular order.

I have to confess I did not strictly follow the KonMarie method in the work I've done so far.  It is because I do not like to have a big jumble of clothing piled on the floor, or on my bed.  That would be too overwhelming.  But I did try to adhere to the suggestions as closely as possible and make as much progress as possible.  For those that don't want to deal with all clothing at one time, she does recommend tackling a subset of clothing items and working through all subsets until the entire job is done.  The other suggestion I did not follow is throwing things away once I decided I no  longer needed them.  Instead I packed them up and posted them for giveaway. This requires a bit more work but keeps "stuff" out of the landfill and that is important to me. Others may find that having bags around tempts them to go and look in the bags and retrieve items never to get rid of them. I'm happy I do not seem to have this problem so bags are okay until a new home is found for the items.  I also know that there are a few things I will be unable to implement from the books. Things like having nothing in the bathtub (soaps and tools kept elsewhere), having nothing near the sink (soap and implements kept under the sink) and storing absolutely everything in the closet (like books).  These particular suggestions will not work for me but that is okay. My main objective is to pare down my things and keep them in a tidier way.




The red topped storage containers were picked up within a few hours of posting.  There were 5 of them taking up a lot of space.  Though these were purchased not so very long ago I no longer need them because I've decided I do not need to keep so many dried goods in my cupboard.  I plan to empty and give away even more containers.

I dislike throwing out virtually anything that can be used for other purposes but I also don't like hanging onto everything just in case I might  need it  later. One can have too many interests and not enough time to do everything so you have to pick and choose those things you will focus on and get rid of the rest.  I do a lot of sewing and have done a lot for my mom over the past year.  The scraps of fabric were posted for giveaway and also picked very soon after posting.  I mostly keep fabric that will be used later for quilting but I think I still have a tub of fabrics somewhere that can be given away and will need to check for it. Most of it would have been fabric I inherited and will likely never use.




Although it can be frustrating having clutter in a smaller home, the good thing is you are forced to address your possessions and make decisions about what to do with them.  Many people (myself included) mindlessly accumulate things even if we don't necessarily spend a lot of money in  accumulating them. If one is not careful, pretty soon you have far more than you need. I want to be a conscious consumer not a mindless one. I also want to prioritize those things I decide are worth keeping and other things that can be obtained when needed. Not everything needs to be kept on hand just in case it is needed.

In the past, books were hard for me to let go of and paperwork too. I tend to keep a lot of both.  I have gotten to the point where letting books go is much easier because I can get books at the library and return them. Sometimes I buy inexpensive books and give them away when done.  With papers, I don't like to throw anything out until I've deal with it and made sure it is shredded or burned. Making time to do that is difficult but it will be done.  Once it is done, I will have arrived at my goal and my prioritized "clutter" will be my crafting items.

In addition to tidying my things, I've also been busy week tidying my financial matters and planning for end of life.  I've attended a seminar about pre-planning my funeral because I saw an advertisement in the paper.  It got me motivated to make some firm plans when I learned that the cost of a burial plot in my general neighbourhood now sells for approximately $28,000 and that doesn't even cover the cost of funeral services, or any of the others costs like caskets or urns, etc.  The other thing I want to look into is ways to have a  more "green" funeral if possible.

After my meeting I will have a lot of work to do to figure out what I want for my own arrangements and hope to make some firm decisions in the next few months. This will take a load off of my mind as it is something I've been meaning to do for quite some time.

The other related areas I want to address are some adjustments to financial plans, redoing my Last Will & Testament and just getting a better handle on all these issues in general. Though I have taken care of a lot of things, I want to make sure everything is brought up to date and kept in a very organized and clear way for my executor.

What about you dear reader? 
Have you thought about pre-planning a funeral for yourself or a loved one
or do you find this too difficult to deal with?
Do you have to contend with such high costs for burial plots and funeral services?


Perhaps these are not issues that most people like to think about.  
But I think peace of mind over last wishes is such a wonderful gift to give oneself and loved ones. 
There is also the assurance that matters related to costs have been handled. 
When it is time to say goodbye, the grieving family and loved ones don't have to deal with all these decisions for you.

I'm joining in with Our World Tuesday today. Thank you for stopping by!




Friday, May 13, 2016

It's Friday ~ Yeah!!!

 This week I'm participating in Floral Friday 

It's Friday.  I always look forward to the weekend.  Even though I'm retired I find that the weekends give me a breather from the usual schedule of appointments and allow me to catch up on other things or simply relax.

I've got several things to cover today as I haven't posted in over a week.  Firstly, let me say a big "Thank you" to  those who contacted me about the raging fires in Northern BC and Alberta and inquired about my safety.  I am fine and my loved ones are fine.

The fires are happening in the far north of British Columbia,  the province where I live, and in Alberta, the province next door to us.  It is scary seeing all the images on the news on television.  The fire in northern Alberta is so huge that it even made the "Africa Live" newscast. The fires in both provinces are massive but I believe the one in Alberta is somewhat larger.  
 
The people in the far north have gone through a harrowing time but by and large they are safe. Organizations like the well respected Red Cross in Canada and many other charitable groups, all sprang into immediate action.  They are working to help the victims of loss in Ft. McMurray;  many of whom have lost homes, cars, all their worldly possessions and their livelihoods.

As an interim measure the people received cash (debit) cards a few days ago ($1250 for each adult and $500 for each child). Governments and insurers are on the ground assessing damages while the brave firemen fight the flames. Both the Premier of Alberta and the Prime Minister of Canada were in Ft. McMurray on Friday having a first hand look at the situation.

Much time will be required to rebuild but I have no doubt it will be done. Albertans are a very strong stock of people and they have massive support from other Canadians and dare I say all around the world. All this devastation brought back memories of the huge fires that surrounded the BC City of Kelowna some years back and all the flooding that damaged many communities in Alberta just a few short years ago.

~~~~~

I'm so happy to report that the young orphaned boy who had a cancerous tumour on his face and neck has been discharged from hospital in Nairobi.  He and his escort have gone home where we hope he will be able to start chemotherapy soon. It was a challenge to meet the hospital bill but we did it!!  I am so glad that his Nairobi doctors assessed him as well enough to go home to his people. Please continue to pray that his health would improve, that there would be no ill effects from chemo and moreover that the financial challenges for his continued health needs would be met.

Doctors wanted the facial wound to heal before discharging the patient.

Another young man I know from a small northern village in Kenya is graduating this summer from an Engineering program.  Right now he is on a short school break before his begins his last attachment (work experience which is a mandatory part of his schooling).  I wanted to send him on a trip somewhere as a graduation gift because he hasn't had a chance to see his own country.  In the end though he and I discussed and decided that driving lessons would be far more useful and help him as he starts looking for work and begins a career. He started driving lessons last week.  He was overjoyed and highly motivated so he is doing a crash course of several lessons per day.  HIs driving nstructor was impressed with him  said that he already knows how to drive.  It is now a question of gaining a little experience and getting his license. Apparently in one of his former attachments the student got a lot of experience driving a forklift.  I didn't realize it but I now understand that a a forklift machine has a clutch and stick shift just like a standard vehicle. The experience is helping him adapt quite readily to driving a truck and at the tail end of his lessons he will also gain some experience in a regular car.

I know another  young Engineering student in Kenya who is also in his final year of studies. He has one more semester before he starts his attachments. He will do two of them as a result of having delayed one from last year. He is a very thoughtful young man who wants to do all the "right" things in preparation for his future. Just a few days ago he asked me if I would help him with learning about the budgeting process. Of course I said "yes".  Budgeting is another important skill that young people need and will use for the rest of their lives.

~~~~~

Here at home, the weather has been absolutely beautiful.  Our weather has been unseasonably warm but this week the temperatures are "just right". That is rare occurrence and I'm enjoying it a lot because it has allowed me to do a little bit of planting and arranging of things in the garden and on the patio though I still have work to do.  You can see in my photo below that the Solomon's Seal is almost finished for the season. It comes out early and I love that it requires no work. The petunias and geraniums will fill out much more. this year I couldn't find pansies until yesterday.  There were only a few starter plants of pansies so I won't have as many pots as I normally like to have.


In a few weeks everything will look much fuller nicer.  I'll be able to sit and enjoy the evenings on the patio. While I've been out in the garden I've spotted little hummingbirds on several occasions.  This is a new thing in my garden and I hope they will come around more often and that I'll even be able to get a photo or two though I might have to sit around and wait for them outside since they flit around so fast.  Unfortunately, a black crow that hasn't been around for some time, has returned. I don't know why he went away or why he is back but I find him a nuisance and his presence ensures the other small birds stay away.


It will be awhile before my garden is fully ready so while I'm waiting for things to grow, I am enjoying flowers on my walks.  Here are a few I snapped on Wednesday afternoon.







I captured this sky today (Friday, May 13th).


As I've mentioned in several recent posts,  I haven't been on line much because I've been trying to catch up with things.

I'm feeling good about being able to catch up with numerous friends before the summer gets busy with visiting relatives. It started last Sunday at a beautiful barbecue with several friends I haven't seen in a very long time.  We all met at my former church where several of them still attend.  The food was fantastic and the company even better. We all hope to see one another again as a group and also individually. It is always a challenge to find time when everyone is free but it all worked out so beautifully this time.  I didn't take any photos of the food or gardens to share with you. Instead I just tried to focus on visiting with my friends rather than worrying about photos.

A few days later I got together with another friend for a catch up visit. We tried to get together in March but she got busy and it turns out I wasn't well enough anyway.  Luckily we didn't have too much problem connecting in person this time.  It was nice to renew ties because soon she may start working and will have less time to get together.

Last night, I had a late night rendezvous for with an out of town friend.  We got together for coffee and dessert though I was very tired.  She lives far away in Calgary and I never get to Calgary so I'm glad for the fact that she gets to Vancouver at least twice a year.  She is under a lot of stress over her husband's poor health and I worry about her.  Her husband has had several heart attacks and it is only by the grace of God that he is still alive. It isn't a question of lifestyle or poor diet but due to childhood illness his valve is (or multiple valves are) enlarged.  Surgery to repair things is extremely risky. For now the doctors are not planning surgery.

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I hope to visit yours soon. 

 Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Good News & The Bad News

Hello friends,

It's my first post in the month of May. Things have been very busy of late and they continue to be so.

I started but didn't finish planting the garden. I should finish the planting soon but had to take a break due to workmen trampling through my garden to clean windows. That is now done for another year as is the annual fire inspection. Next will come the annual carpet cleaning. This year it seems like they are doing everything all at one time.  It's all okay because it is better to get it out of the way IMHO.

The weather here has been fantastic. Perfect blues skies today. I had a wonderfully long walk. Something I haven't done in absolutely ages for many reasons. But today was a beautiful, quiet, peaceful kind of day. Not too hot and not too cold and was just right for strolling.


It allowed me to take a few photos to share for Skywatch Friday. However the sun was very bright so the photos have been touched up a bit. Nothing too fancy though as I don't have Photoshop or such like program.


The sky was a gorgeous blue and not a cloud in sight.


I took an extra long walk today and saw places I haven't seen a long time.

I thought these two old houses were a nice subject.

 
I said I had good news and bad news.

The good news is that the weather has been very lovely.  We've had a few cloudy days but we've also had a few very warm  and sometimes hot days.


I love these two old buildings. The top one with it's bay windows is nice.

The bottom one reminds me of buildings in New York City with the lovely red brick.


 I found this beautiful salmon coloured poppy nearby.




The bad news is the weather has been far too hot for this time of year and we've been shattering temperature records, left right and center all across the land.  It has contributed to raging fires in the far north of my province and in the province next door. There are devastating aftermaths and thousands and thousands of people have had to be evacuated.  I heard on the news today that the only way the fire will be extinguished now is if the rain comes. They will need a lot of it.

In my last post I provided some very brief updates  about the young man that many of you are praying for.  If you missed the post you can read it here.

 I learned that the open wound on the boy's face is caused by the tumour. It was the central point from which the tumour grew out of the boy's face and spread.  It was the "stem" so to speak.

The boys release has been delayed because the doctors are trying to ensure the wound heals first and it isn't healing that quickly so they've been trying to help dry it out.  They have also been watching his blood and giving him medicine or supplements (not quite sure which) to boost his white blood cell count. Some of you will know that white blood cells are important in protecting the body against foreign invaders that would cause illness or infections and are needed for recovery. The doctors have also been administering blood to counter the young man's anemia.





The open wound and scarring have made it difficult for the young man to chew and eat but today I heard he has graduated from runny porridge to mashed potatoes.  A friend in Kenya has also been trying to get the boy's chemotherapy administered in his hometown due to the expense of being in Nairobi for long and the expense of travelling back and forth from his home to the big city with escort.


At last today the hospital has said they would release the boy for treatment in his home community as they are satisfied the public hospital is properly equipped. That means he should be released soon pending health clearance and clearance of the hospital bill (a significant challenge).  This is good news and in the "nick of time" because his escort no longer has a place to stay in the city. He was staying with a helpful student but there have been problems with student unrest and new rules from the university administration strictly prohibits guests.


Please continue to pay for this situation if you feel led to do so.

Thank you for coming along on my walk today.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Until next time, enjoy your weekend.

As for me, I am going to try and work on the garden and join friends for a barbeque.

Joining in with




African Music & Happenings