Memories

The summer of 2017 is passing by very quickly. One minute you are anticipating an event, and before you can blink, it is just a memory.

We celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary in the middle of July, and a week later, our daughter turned 50. We took her to High Tea at MacKenzie King’s Estate (he was Prime Minister during WWII), and then walked around the grounds enjoying the flowers and birds and the stone ruins, brought over here from many buildings in Europe which had been bombed.

Then, a few days ago, our whole family, eighteen of us,  got together for the first time in nine years. My husband and I, our 4 daughters, 4 sons-in-law, and 8 grandchildren! Our daughter who lives in Vancouver, was on her way back from a trip to Sweden, to visit her husband’s family.

Two of the sons-in-law had had birthdays in the previous week. Then there was our daughter’s 50th, and one of our grandsons had turned 18 a few days before. Lots to celebrate!

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At the top are our two oldest girls, followed by our two youngest. We had dinner together and our waiter kindly took the bottom photo.

Nine years is too long to go between these larger reunions. In 2008,  our girls were in their 30s and our grandchildren were aged 2 – 11. We were a sprightly 63 years old, but these people are keeping us young. In spirit if not in body!

No matter what the next nine years brings, I will treasure these moments in my heart forever!

Thanks for sharing in our celebrations. – Maureen

 

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Canada’s 150th

Tomorrow Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary.

I live in Ottawa, the capital city, where 500,000 people are expected on Parliament Hill, to watch an all-day concert, starting at 9 a.m. Around noon, there will be a fly past of Canadian Military planes.  I always find this part very exciting. The jets come out of nowhere and fly fast and low.

Prince Charles and Camilla are here and I feel certain there will be a speech in there somewhere. Probably a couple more from Canadian government officials.

Security is tight this year, due to recent world events. There will be two entrance points to the Hill, and every one of those half a million people have to be scanned and have their bags searched. That is 250,000 per security post!

In front of city hall, a mobile hospital has been set up to deal with any possible medical problems, from heat stroke and overdoses, to situations requiring minor surgery. Apparently the EMTs will transport patients in golf carts, since dozens of downtown streets have been closed to traffic,

All across Canada there will be parties and flag waving followed by fireworks in the late evening.

Today I brought two of my grandchildren to the mall to buy Canada Day “stuff”. Everything is red and white. We got a frisbee, a cowboy hat, temporary tattoos, stickers, a baseball, cookies, cakes, a wind sock, cup-cake holders, pennants, and flags. Our house is decorated and I am sure when they got home, their house was next on the list. Everyone at the mall was smiling and you could just feel the excitement.

Here we are, married three days, and leaving for Montreal, en route to Zambia.

We were in Zambia in 1967 when we celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday, waiting for the birth of our first daughter a few weeks later.

Canada’s motto is “From Sea to Sea”.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic, Canada is a wonderful country. I pray that we will always follow the principles upon which our country was founded, back in 1867.

One cautionary note. On the 6 o’clock news tonight we were told that there would be plenty of bathrooms. There are 36 temporary toilets set up on Parliament Hill. I did the math. It works out to 13,888 people per toilet! I don’t care for those numbers. I am glad I am going to celebrate with family. There will be eight of us and two bathrooms. I prefer those numbers.

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Our 13-year-old grandson with his Canada Day cowboy hat from Dollarama.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Stay safe.

Maureen

 

 

A Tender Moment

One day in Montreal.

It’s funny how a specific moment can tug on our hearts decades later. This little story goes back to another time, another place, and another family.

More than 40 years ago, we moved from Ottawa, to Montreal. I was eight and a half months pregnant the day we moved in and gave birth to our fourth daughter two weeks later.

A few months later, a new family moved in next door. They were originally from the Philippines and their children were close in age to our own. When they moved in, they had five children, and she was pregnant with their sixth. She had a boy to bring their family’s total to four girls and two boys.

They were a lovely family, whose names all began with the letter “R”. Roberto, Regina, Raquel, Rowena, R…., and Raphael.

A couple of years later, their cousins from the Philippines moved in with them for a few months, until they found a home of their own. This family had six boys. They called themselves the MAPSERs, because their names started with those letters. So there were now five adults (including one Nanny) and twelve children living next door.

As far as we could tell, they all got along and there was never a moment when the kids disturbed the neighbourhood. A couple of days after the MAPSERs moved in, in the middle of May, we had several inches of snow, and those boys were all out playing in the snow in their SOCK FEET!

The youngest boy had a twisted foot, so he limped when he walked. From my kitchen window, I saw the twelve of them walking to the school bus every day. One day this little boy was having a difficult time because the school bus was coming and he had fallen behind.

His cousin, Regina, looked back and spotted him limping along. Without a word, she stopped, went back to him, crouched down, and waited patiently while he climbed on her back.

I think of all of them often. I think of the boy’s surgeries and hope that they were successful and that he now walks straight and sure-footed. I think of Regina, wordlessly offering her back to her little cousin. I pray God’s blessings on all of them.

A house full of adults and children.

A house full of love.

I was privileged to see a tiny example of this, one day in Montreal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Have a wonderful day. – Maureen

 

HELLO! It’s Me Again

It was recently brought home to me that I haven’t posted for about a year. Well, I aim to rectify that, starting now.

I don’t know if any of you have experienced this phenomenon. While I was still regularly posting, I was asked by a well-known site, to contribute posts to their site, and I froze. It has taken me a long time to thaw out and that opportunity has probably dried up, but I think I can do this again. For me.

My art has been taking up a lot of my time and I have been really enjoying my acrylic paintings. I’ve done larger pieces and some very small ones. Even though I am a woman of “a certain age”, the creativity has been flowing. I did a couple of “clothesline” paintings that I really like. The first one brought back memories of my mother hanging clothes on the line, summer and winter.

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In the middle of January, she would bring in the laundry and stand it up on the kitchen floor. Then of course she had to iron everything, and with a family of eleven children, it was no small task. Mom used to say that the only time she got out of the house was to go to the clothesline!

The first clothesline painting gave rise to the idea for the second, which had to do with Canada’s 150th birthday, being celebrated this year. I have even had some interest in buying that particular one, although the sale hasn’t gone through yet.

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In any case, it’s not the selling that thrills me, although it would be nice, but it’s the actual creating the painting, from the initial idea, the first sketches, and the final product.

I’m not a great artist, not even close, but I can’t tell you how painting makes me feel. I just wish I had started earlier in life. My small house is full of paintings. The walls are bending under the weight of them.

Last week, we had our youngest grandchild for the day, and she and I painted together. We  had so much fun. It was a dream come true for me and she brought a very nice seascape home to show her family. Her brother wanted to buy it from her, but she wasn’t selling!

Our finished paintings. Which one was done by an 11-year-old, and which by a 72-year-old?

How are you creative?

Thanks for reading and have a good day.

Maureen

A Playlist for Me

Because John, my husband, is a techno-whiz, I know very little about the electronics in our house.

We have a “set-up”. There is a 55″ high definition TV, a sound system, a DVD player, a set-top box (?), a computer, and really about six or seven other black boxes. They are all connected through hundreds of wires and cables, and they all have their own remote, and I can’t even turn the TV on. We don’t have cable or satellite but we have 12 channels and we have Netflix (the Canadian version, which doesn’t have as many shows as the American version, which really makes little difference since there is very little we want to watch anyway). We also have Filmon, which allows us access to some British shows, among others, and I do enjoy some of their mystery series like Midsommer Murders. We can also use YouTube to play shows and music.

So here is what my husband of 49 years, 11 months, and 20 days does for me on a typical evening. He sets all of this up on his phone and they form a queue and play one after the other.

We start off with one or two ABBA songs to get things going.  Then maybe he’ll play a couple of songs by the Travelling Wilburys. I just love them. Next we might watch Escape to the Country, a British home-finding show. The last one we watched was set in Cornwall, UK.

Then we settle in with beautiful classical music playing while paintings by Claude Monet are shown on the screen. It takes my breath away! Another favourite is The Flower Duet song from Lakme, sung by Anna Netrebko and Elena Garanca. It is so beautiful.

We then go flying possibly in Norway or British Columbia, or maybe experience a terrifying landing at St. Martin. We come back to earth with some gorgeous piano music played by Ernesto Cortazar. He is my new favourite artist. He has written and performed countless pieces all of which are stunningly beautiful.

I don’t want to make anyone jealous, but often all this is played to the accompaniment of John giving me a foot rub while I relax and look and listen.

This is my Playlist. Why would I want to learn to turn the TV on anyway?

What  would be on your Playlist?

Have a great day! – Maureen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules at Grandma’s House

On Friday, teachers in Ottawa are having a holiday  professional development day.

So tomorrow evening my daughter is going to pick me up on her way home from work, to I can spend Friday with her two children and their dog.

The last time there was a PA Day, they came to our house and we went out on the buses, which they loved, and went to Tim Horton’s, which they loved, and to A&W, which they loved, and came back here to play video games, which they absolutely loved! We had a great day.

I told them that at Grandma’s, there is a different set of rules.

  • You can eat what you want when you want to.
  • You can read Archie comics all day if you want to.
  • A visit to Tim Horton’s for hot chocolate is a must.
  • Cookies are in the jar and you can have as many as you want.
  • Our TV and Netflix can be accessed all day.
  • Video games can be played for as long as you like.
  • You can sit whereever you want to on the bus.
  • You can change seats as often as you like.

It’s a wonder my daughter and son-in-law still want us to watch the kids!!!

But on Friday it is going to be VERY cold and I don’t want to be outdoors at all, especially not waiting for a bus. So I am going there, and the rules are different. Can you believe it???

I am looking forward to spending the day with Owen and Brynn. And Chip, the dog. The very cute dog.

I am going to stay over into Saturday so that I can go to watch the Moms play hockey against the Daughters. It should be a close match. On the one hand, the girls have been honing their skills all season long, but on the other hand, the Moms have size on their side. The girls are strong skaters. The Moms CAN skate (at least most of them can). The girls are good at passing. The Moms will try to pass, if their sticks ever touch the puck. The girls have energy. The Moms have energy bars.

Owen is coaching his Mom and putting her through the drills he himself practices before a big game. Apparently he is very encouraging. Brynn has been getting secret coaching from her Dad. I think she is going to try to get a penalty!

I just hope there is no fighting during the game. I’d hate to see how that would turn out!

I’ll have a recap of the game highlights in my next post.

Thanks for visiting. Have a good weekend. – Maureen

 

 

 

Exercise for Seniors

I have given myself a challenge!

Recently, because I am a senior on a fixed retirement budget, I gave up my gym membership to save money.

So what things can I do to get exercise several times a week, which will cost me little or no money at all?

  • Mall walking. There are several indoor malls within a short bus ride of my house which I can take advantage of if the weather outside is too cold or too hot (which is often the case).
  • Walking on the trails around Ottawa. We have the beautiful Greenboro Trail which is half a block away and is kept plowed all winter by the city.
  • Cycling. When the weather is good and the trails are free of snow and ice, nothing is better for making me feel like a 17 year old, which is great considering that I am now 71!!!
  • Skating. There is the world-famous Rideau Canal, and every neighbourhood in Ottawa has an outdoor rink where one can skate free of charge. People of all ages take advantage of these rinks.
  • Wii. I have a Wii console with Wii Sports and Wii Fit. It only takes a few minutes to set up and gives me the opportunity to practice my stretches and balance skills as well as tennis and bowling, which I enjoy.
  • Fitbit. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and am able to track my exercise throughout the day. It gives me a running total of things such as number of steps, heart rate, stairs climbed, and total number of “active minutes”.
  • Gym mat. Years ago I bought a gym mat which I rarely used but I got it out the other day, dusted it off, and started to use it to stretch and do exercises like crunches and planks.
  • Weights. Another item bought years ago and almost forgotten. They are proving useful but I have to take care as the first time I used them, my shoulder problem resurfaced. Take it easy, and start (or restart) slowly.
  • Stairs. Because of my Fitbit, I have made a little “circuit” in my house where I start with stretches, and then go to walking and stair climbing.

So far today I have walked more than 6,000 steps, which is 4.5 km. I have been “active” for 24 minutes, and climbed 11 floors.

I know there are probably other inexpensive ways to motivate myself to exercise. Can you think of any that I missed?

I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes last April and I know that exercise helps control blood sugar levels. I have lost 20 pounds since then and should lose 10 more.

I really hope that at my next check-up, my doctor will agree that I am making good progress toward my goal of good health.

Thanks for reading.  I hope to be making posts on a more regular basis. – Maureen

 

 

Just Walk

As I get older, I also get wiser.

And one of the wisest things I have ever done is to start walking.

My mother told me that I actually first walked at six months. At nine months I was running rings around my four older brothers. Well, probably not, but you get the picture.

Over the years, I walked less and less, and when I was approaching forty I drove pretty well everywhere.

Then an amazing thing happened. Our daughters’ school was sponsoring a “fun run”, where people who signed up walked around our neighbourhood in routes set out by the school. One route was one mile. Up Isbister Street and down Stradford. One mile. One!

My husband and I and our four girls signed up and started to walk along with scores of other families. And guess what? It was HARD!

Okay, first of all, I didn’t own running shoes and did the walk in strapped sandals. Second, it just seemed so long!

I bought sneakers and we started walking every evening. It felt amazing. Liberating.

Walking has so many benefits.

  • It gives you time to think.
  • It makes you feel young.
  • It improves your mental outlook.
  • It improves your circulation.
  • It improves your appreciation of nature – you notice flowers, signs of spring, autumn leaf changes.
  • You meet and greet neighbours.
  • You find out what the kids in the area are up to.
  • It helps with weight loss and flexibility.

If walk to the store to buy milk. you get the added benefit of weight-bearing exercise which is good for your bones.

If you walk to your favourite coffee shop or fast food restaurant you actually “use your calories before you consume them”.

I am now seventy years old and I walk (or cycle) everywhere. I do 90% of my errands on foot.

In 1997, Bill Bryson wrote a book about walking the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. Apparently it was or is going to be made into a movie, starring Robert Redford. I just finished reading the book and I highly recommend it. Funny and touching and also inspiring.

But you don’t have to make a commitment to walk 2,000 miles. Just do more than you did yesterday and count the benefits. You won’t be sorry.

A few things can help:

  • A companion. Even Bill Bryson didn’t walk alone.
  • A tracker. A pedometer or even your iPhone can count your steps for you. Work up to 10,000 steps a day.
  • A Fitbit. You wear it on your wrist and in addition to step counting, it calculates heart rate and calories burned.

I notice that when I walk either outside or inside malls in winter (I live in Canada), I usually pass people much younger than I am. It is important to walk quickly to enjoy all of the benefits of walking.

Today I read an article in our local newspaper written by Brynna Leslie called, “Want to live longer? Pick up the pace.” The article quotes research that explains how walking quickly is good for you.

If you can find a copy of this article, read it.

Then go for a walk!

See you on the trail! – Maureen

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes – Two Visits

Last week, I had two appointments, one after the other. The first was with a dietician, the second with a nurse specializing in Diabetes.

Each appointment lasted an hour and they were very informative.

I am very happy that I live in Canada where all medical care is covered by the government (and our taxes).  

I brought a notebook containing the list of meals I had had during the previous week. I also noted my exercise including two bike rides of 12 km and 14 km respectively. I wrote down my water consumption as well. The results of my blood glucose self-testing was also noted.

It seems I have been doing quite well. My total weight loss is 15 pounds and all of my glucose tests have been in the normal range.

Here are a few things I learned from Alia, the dietician:

  • It is important to eat meals at regular hours.
  • They should not be more than five hours apart.
  • Each meal should have approximately the same amount of protein (30 g.)
  • I need to eat even more vegetables.
  • No processed food as it turns to sugar very rapidly.
  • Instead of white bread, rice, pasta, substitute brown.
  • Use seeds and nuts, and cinnamon to help flavor food.
  • Berries are recommended.

The dietician also gave me a “recipe” to be eaten every day. One-third ground flax-seed + one-third oat bran + one-third psyllium. The goal is two tablespoons a day, starting with one tbsp. I was able to easily buy these items at our local Bulk Barn but I am sure grocery stores carry them. Today I had a serving of plain Greek yogurt with blackberries and blueberries and 1 tbsp. of the mixture. Not the tastiest but I am sure I can get used to it.

The nurse, Kelly, gave me a lot of helpful facts and advice. She told me to share this with everyone I know.

Uncontrolled diabetes can cause various other serious problems:

  • Kidney problems and failure
  • Circulation problems, which can lead to amputation
  • Problems with the eyes which can lead to blindness
  • Problems in the brain, which can cause Alzheimer’s

With Type 2 Diabetes, the glucose sticks to your red blood cells. This is bad. What else can I say?

I was originally diagnosed with T2D about 20 years ago. Since that time it was totally controlled with diet. But in the last couple of years, since retirement, the weight crept back on and my sugar levels began to rise. I guess at age 70, it all caught up to me and I was prescribed Metformin, which I take twice a day.

Metformin helps your cells use the sugar your body produces but it also encourages the liver to not make so much sugar.

Here are a few of my goals:

  • lose more weight (5 – 10 pounds in the next few months)
  • continue to exercise every day (walking, cycling, weights)
  • share my (limited) knowledge of Type 2 Diabetes with friends and family
  • get good results on my blood glucose tests
  • incorporate all the important information received from Alia and Kelly

When I was finishing up my appointments, Kelly gave me a card with their direct phone number and their email addresses in case I had concerns and/or questions. I have a follow-up appointment with both of them on October 14th, but before then I will be having blood tests for which I have a standing order every three months. I certainly hope that my next doctor’s appointment will be one of good news.

Thanks for reading about my latest baby steps on my Diabetes journey. Have a nice weekend. – Maureen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes – Another Step

The journey is continuing. But the path is not always easy. This past weekend, I ran into a rough spot.

On Saturday night, into Sunday morning, I was sick. The Metformin I have been taking has been giving me digestive problems on occasion, but this was the worst yet. I was up for two and a half hours and in agony.

I hadn’t exercised much in the previous few days and I don’t know if that played a part in that unpleasant scene. All day Sunday, my whole tummy was shaking and I still had pain. I didn’t eat much during the day, but after I went for a 15-minute walk on our local trail, I felt a little better. I was able to eat a small supper and it felt good.

After supper, my husband and I went for another walk on the trail, this time for about 20 minutes. Last night was much better and today I feel back to normal.

August 9, 2015 – 1 p.m. Blood Glucose level – 8.3

August 10, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. Blood Glucose level 6.4

My average level over the past couple of weeks is 7.3

Now I have a few questions.

  • What part did my lack of exercise play in my feeling of illness?
  • What role did my eating play?
  • What fasting BG level should I be aiming for?
  • What level should I be aiming for after a meal?

I will be seeing a nurse for an hour and a dietician for another hour on August 18. I hope they can answer my questions and help me feel confident that I am doing everything possible to minimize the effects of this disease.

The worst part about getting sick the other night? I had to cancel a visit to my sister’s house for dinner and a “mystery evening” to say good-bye to my brother, David, who is leaving for the States quite soon.

I have been planning my exercise sessions over the coming week and have been to the local farmer’s market to buy fresh veggies. This morning’s breakfast was sautéed zucchini, an egg, and a clementine. And lots of tea.

By the way, my computer’s spell checker wanted to change “Metformin”” to performing”.

Have a healthy week and thanks for reading. – Maureen