Friday Fave Five #113

1. Opportunity to vote Canada called an election for October 21. Recently Elections Canada has offered early polling, more voting locations for registered voters, and the freedom to vote at any location in your province with proper paperwork and ID. My husband and I took advantage of one of the early polling days and found the polling station doing a brisk business. Yay for democracy!

2. Better than last year My firbromyalgia has flared up again. While there have been no dietary, supplement, or medical changes, the weather has certainly been colder, which seems to affect my body negatively. The thing is, even though I again have pain and some muscle spasms, I am in a far better place than I was a year ago at this time. For that I am very, very grateful.

3. Facetime and WeChat Though I am firmly planted in the prairies of western Canada, I have children and grandchildren living in China and the US. Last night I was working on a card order and chatted the whole time via Facetime with my daughter in South Carolina. On WeChat my 3 year old grandson in China left me a delightful audio message and my daughter-in-law and I discussed a book we are both reading via chat messages. What a gift!

4. Growth in understanding  As we age and continue in our Christian walk we can have “aha” moments where we realize things we were taught or things we assumed about what we were taught are wrong. I am grateful and humbled that God continues to teach us and transform our thinking as we filter our lives through His word. In the past we plowed through life and ministry without regular days off  and with only very occasional times away to recharge. Studying the life of Christ and the sabbath rest does not support that behaviour. Yes, there are times or even seasons when we need to set aside those restorative times, but there is nothing sacred or inherently spiritual about needlessly driving yourself into ineffectiveness or illness by refusing to rest and restore. With renewed appreciation we are looking forward to enjoying three days in the mountains on an upcoming mid-semester break.

5. Bathroom fixed Our main bathroom toilet leaked, damaged the subfloor, and caused some of the floor tiles to break. This week a local contractor did an excellent job of fixing the problem and replacing our flooring. We were without that bathroom for about a month so it is great to have it usable again.

These are a special order card and a few other cards I have been working on. I did post some of these on my Purple Grandma Designs facebook page, but many of you may not have seen them. This week I am organizing my craft area in preparation for making Christmas cards. Christmas is coming!

Special order card

I like the layered look of the desert scene with mountains in the background and cacti in the front.

Trying out one of my new Christmas dies!

A new die for my literature collection of dies.

This was fun to add details to this pretty die.

I am fond of the silhouette dies. The cat playing with the yarn is a cute detail!

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Friday Fave Five #112

Four Seasons – Monday I ventured out to Costco to pick up my phone which had been repaired. Though officially we had no snow, there were a few flurries gently floating down. Clouds scuttered past on that chilly morning while the sun fought to break through. As I came over a slight rise the sun emerged and illuminated a stand of poplars bright with autumn yellow leaves. Immediately the scent of freshly cut grass surprised me as I drove past a country worker busy shaving down the rural roadside weeds, grass, and late blooming wildflowers.It was a delicious serendipitous moment, a rare juxtaposition of all four seasons, and a delightful sensory gift and blessing!

Strengthening While at Costco I did some shopping. I was thanking God that I could walk around that massive store for an hour and half without pain. I stopped briefly at 2 other stores on the way home and carried in my 8 bags of groceries. You may yawn and ask, “How is that mundane stuff a blessing?” well, for me it was the first time in over 2 years that I have had the strength and stamina to do something this normal without help! On the advise of my massage therapist I have resumed some of my physiotherapy. I am so thrilled that the muscle spasms which plagued me after any exercise since my surgery did not occur and I am again slowly building up and working through the soreness to strengthen my weakened body.

College football A friend of my daughters smiled when she heard I love to watch US college football. She told my daughters I was surprising. (I’ll need to investigate that remark!) Surprising or not, I am happy to be able to watch most of the games for my team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. You can take the girl out of Ohio…..

Last of the green beans We harvested the very last of the green beans, something we thought we had already done. But those hearty bushes kept pumping out my favorite veggies until this week when frost silenced their productivity.

Ladies meeting God gave me enough ability to host and teach a ladies’ study on Saturday. Though I am solidly planted on the introvert side of the spectrum, God has called on me to teach at times. I am so grateful for His grace and help to do this after these past two years of minimal ministerial activity. The fellowship was wonderful and I needed the remainder of the day to recharge and rest, but it was a great blessing to me in so many ways.

A few more of my Alberta early fall photos:

Friday Fave Five #111

Why do I begin this September post with such a wintery picture? We’ve barely crossed the portal from summer into fall and, dear friends, this weekend in central Alberta the thermometer has crawled to just above zero C. While snow is not forecast for our particular area, many places in southern and western Alberta are bracing for an early heavy blast of snow. Alas, my hopes for a prolonged Indian summer have been dashed!

1. Peaceful photography This past week my dear husband drove me around to capture rural autumn photos. Sometimes on these jaunts we grab a beverage before we head out and sometimes it’s just the two of us and my camera. He helps me look for beautiful or unusual scenes or objects in nature to photograph while we spend time together. Sometimes we chat and other times we quietly reflect on the beautiful area we live in.

2. Eye can still see! One thing I have learned to appreciate in a new way is the ability to see. A vision concern that cropped up as I dealt with many health issues after my surgery was the possibility that my retina was detaching. I was experiencing ongoing bright flashes and large, dark floaters in my eyes. My opthamologist was out of town and her office sent me to the ER for evaluation. Thankfully the retina did not detach and I was simply experiencing one of the inevitable symptoms of aging. I have had eye related issues all of my life. I was diagnosed with amblyopia (lazy eye) and severe astigmatism at age 5 so in one way my eyes have never been that great, but this new condition has me straining to see clearly at times. These floaters are interesting to get used to as there is always “stuff” swimming around in my field of vision. It reminds me of the water in a fish bowl. If you feed your fish too much or do not clean the bowl as often as you should, the water became clouded with little bits of debris. Looking through the debris field while driving at night or in a storm requires extra caution and concentration. Thankfully our bodies adjust and I am very, very grateful that I can still see and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

3. Community choir As my health improves I am working to be less wearied by social interaction. Joining the community choir run by my oldest daughter has been a step toward that. Saturday we joined her children’s choirs for a short performance in our small town. It’s been fun and challenging and I continue to learn much about music.

4. Of shorts and flip flops We Albertans are a hearty lot, and this time of year I am amused by how many folks wear shorts and sandals or flip flops as temperatures drop and snow threatens to fly. These past few days have been cold and rainy. Stalwart pedestrians I drove past were bent over, hoodies shielding their faces, but still wearing shorts and flip flops. I must admit that I do try and wear my sandals until slush and snow make it too uncomfortable to continue, but no shorts for me!

5. Farewell to gardening…until spring This week I harvested my herbs and picked the remaining green beans from our raised garden beds. I dry the herbs and use them in my cooking over the winter so that, in a sense, my garden stays with me throughout the winter. Yes, I know I can grow herbs indoors over the winter, and perhaps someday I will try and do so, but I still seem to kill off most indoor plants so I’m not really inspired to try growing indoor herbs yet.

 

Friday Fave Five #110

FFF swirly

Last year it snowed on the last day of summer. Looks like we will miss that distinction this year. We have had lovely warm weather so far this September, but fall is imposing herself on us. The trees are quickly yellowing and every slight puff of wind showers the landscape with abandoned leaves.We Albertans know that warm weather can transform into wintery in a flash this time of year so we enjoy each day of sunshine and warmth that comes our way!

1. Sodastream plus peach vinegar – yum! Our son and daughter-in-law gave us a Sodastream last year. I’m not at all mechanical and never really took the time to learn how to use it until this summer when my daughter-in-law patiently showed me how. She used it regularly but I used it only occasionally during their month long visit until……my youngest daughter introduced me to one of those fancy olive oil and vinegar stores. We went in and sampled many delicious oils, vinegars, and salts. One display had samples of soda water with various vinegars added. Sounds weird, but it tastes delicious! My favorite is peach white vinegar added to my soda stream, and boy, is it good!

2. Purging stuff We were kicking around the idea of holding a garage sale while my China family was here since my d-i-l likes that sort of thing and I knew I did not have the energy to do it myself. In the end we decided to ditch the garage sale idea and just spend time together. The diabetes group came and picked up all the stuff we had collected and now our garage is much more tidy.

3. Yeti thermal tumbler It’s fun to learn about new gadgets and devices. I was recently given a large 30 oz Yeti thermal tumbler, a brand and product that was new to me. I pretty much carry tea around with me all day and this mighty mug keeps my hot beverages hot for a very long time. I’m really liking it!

4. Slipping back into ministry After two plus years of medical chaos following my emergency surgery I am feeling stable enough to resume some previous ministries. I’m grateful for the improvement and look forward to continuing the Titus 2 model of an older woman teaching the younger.

5. Community choir I have always loved to sing but like many other things in life I did not have much confidence in my efforts. My oldest daughter leads an adult community choir which another daughter and I have joined. I am learning so much, enjoying meeting others in my community, and I get to hang out with my kids!

Here are a few rural Alberta photos from last month:

Friday Fave Five #109

fall FFF 1

It’s been a long time since I have posted. Some of you know I have had ongoing medical issues these past two years. I’m grateful that there is much improvement, though energy and stamina are still low.

I would like to jump back in to Fave Five by sharing some blessings from the last few weeks.

1.Annual visit from family in China Our son and his family live and work in China so time we can actually spend together is precious. Every year we eagerly look forward to the summer visit of our son, daughter-in-law and our three grandchildren.We’ve started a tradition of Grandpa taking the boys and Grandma taking our granddaughter out for a one on one special meal. They can order whatever they want and talk about anything they would like. It’s so much fun!Granny and Chloe at Chartier (3)

2.Family photos We had family photos taken for the first time in about five years. Our summer was cool and very rainy which created the perfect conditions for breeding mosquitoes. The evening we had pictures taken the mosquitoes were everywhere and the photographer snapped a funny shot of our daughter swallowing a mosquito!Family pics parents and siblings Emma mosquitoShayna, our photographer, captured a few other fun shots that evening.

Here’s one of all of us:Family pics everyone standing3. Travel Blessings Bud and I had to drive back to the States for about seven weeks in May and June. We have several churches we still partner with in ministry and it was time to catch up with them face to face and give a report of the ministries we are involved in. Because of my medical issues we were’t sure how I would fare on this journey but God gave strength and help and overall the trip went smoothly. We were blessed to catch up with old friends and make new ones. A highlight of the trip was taking a week to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We were married in a double wedding forty years ago and remain the closest of friends. The four of enjoyed an anniversary week on the coast of SC.

4. A garden in spite of circumstances My foray into gardening has come late in life and I am learning new things every year. This year I learned to set my hanging baskets in into a container of water to refresh them and it worked wonderfully. In the past we watered our hanging baskets only from the top and they would fade and die very quickly. This summer we deadheaded and watered and soaked those baskets and had lovely flowers for 3 months.

Our growing season in central Alberta is pretty short and most people here find it’s safe to plant at the end of May. I was hoping I could sneak in some of my plants before we drove off the first week of May, but a snowfall here a few days before we left put the kibosh on that idea!

Our daughters put in a zucchini plant and some herbs while we were away and we finished the planting at the very end of June The rains and cool weather made doubtful that we would see much of a harvest, but we have had pretty good results. Though my peas did not come up well, the green beans are producing like crazy right now. If we can stave off the nighttime frost, we should enjoy delicious green beans through the end of the month. That one zucchini plant gave us dozens of nice zuchs and the herbs, potatoes, and some other squash plants produced more than we expected. There is nothing quite like picking fresh produce from your own little garden!      thyme

5. The blessing of children I have been blessed to have my children live nearby for part of my adult life. Three of our five children have studied or worked abroad and all went away from home for university. Our youngest moved back home a few years ago after finishing her RN studies but was unable to have her RN certification recognized in Alberta without jumping through many very expensive and time-consuming hoops. At the end of August she moved back to the States to take an RN to BSN online course while working as a nurse. We dedicated each of our children to the Lord at their birth and are grateful they seek to honor HIm in their choices, even when that means they live far from home.                                                                                                                                              Friday Fave Five is hosted by Suzanne at  Living to Tell the Story  https://susannesspace.blogspot.com/

Friday Fave Five #108

On Fridays I post FFF to be intentional about recounting blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

1. Family time – Since our family from China is with us for such a short time each year we need to pack in a lot of togetherness in just a few weeks. Family brunch, kiddy pool, and games day made for a lovely gathering this week.

2. More family time – Our daughter and son-in-law hosted a family BBQ last week for his family and ours. It was so nice to touch base with Tim’s side of the family again and to spend a few hours together.

3. Garden joys – Because I came to gardening quite recently I am still learning much about making my garden flourish. This year besides my herbs, I planted kale for my smoothies, and a small amount of zucchini, onions, green beans, and peas. We have a couple of deck rail planters for flowers and a small ground level triangular bed near the confluence of two sidewalks. Sadly, I cannot get down to weed that bed at this point, so I rely on others to help with that bed. However, the raised beds and rail planters are easy for me to access and I have learned more about pruning and deadheading this year which has resulted in a more verdant garden. I have not yet cooked any of my delicious peas. By the time I pick them and shell them with my grandchildren we have managed to enjoy every single sweet pea that we have picked!

My beloved built me raised bed planters which allows me to tend to my garden even with my limited mobility and this week he and my son and daughter-in-law finished a third planter for me. It’s a bit late for planting up here in central Alberta but my husband went out to nurseries and home centers on a quest to rescue some end of season vegetable plants. After much searching he found some dilapidated tomato plants and our plant rescue project has ensued! We’ll see if together we can nurse them back to health and encourage them to produce some tomatoes.

4. Kids and grandkids – I am exceptionally blessed to not only have wonderful children, but also an amazing daughter-in-law and son-in-law. They are as dear to me as my own children and I thank God for joining them with our family. Our grandchildren are pretty special, too, and I love spending time with them and hearing their thoughts and dreams and observing the uniqueness of each one.

5. Health networking – It has been somewhat frustrating to try and figure out what I’m doing or not doing that has recently stalled my recovery. One element I never accounted for in the past was the gluten free aspect which has been part of my life now for over five years. Identifying and addressing food sensitivities five years ago made a huge difference in managing my fibromyalgia. Though I am diagnosed as gluten intolerant and not celiac, I have connected with the celiac community and share observations and discoveries with my fellow GF friends.

Recently a celiac friend asked me if I have trouble with raw veggies. I was surprised and relieved that I was not the only one with the GF / raw veggie digestion issue. I do pretty well when my raw greens are whirred to oblivion in my Ninja, but not so great when eating them whole or in a salad. They just do not seem to digest properly if I ingest quantities of raw veggies. Part of the problem is that I am exceptionally sensitive to the preservative that is used on most packaged and store-bought lettuce and several times have grown violently ill after eating salads made from packaged lettuce, so I avoid lettuce completely. In the summer I grow and use my own kale and in the winter I buy organic kale or organic spinach and manage that just fine. My physiotherapist mentioned using a grow lamp / hydroponics system to grow veggies inside during the winter. I’ll have to investigate that option for the future.

 

Friday Fave Five #107

On Fridays I post FFF to be intentional about recounting blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

I’ve missed several weeks due to a busy schedule and ongoing fatigue and issues with my fibromyalgia. Thanks for sticking with me.

1. Family – Our family from China surprised us by arriving a week early for their annual time with us. We had no inkling this was the plan thanks to some sneaky familial assistants on this side of the world. It is an incredible blessing to be able to spend time each year with family who lives and works so far from us.

2. Health update – Last year at this time I had just gotten home from hospital after emergency hip replacement revision surgery. Though I have had quite a few setbacks over this past year, I am doing far better than I was a year ago. I am still dealing with some fatigue and low stamina and have been surprised to realize that social interaction absolutely wears me out. My doctor is working with me to try and eliminate any obvious reasons for this tiredness. I’m not quite three months past my iron transfusion treatments so perhaps I just need a little more time for that to fully take effect.

My one-year post-surgical checkup went well. The bone grafts and range of motion look good. I still need to do physio and was warned that a revision surgery means the joint will never be as stable as the original so lifelong strengthening and caution are both necessary to help avoid another revision.

There are several other health issues that cropped up during this past year and one may require surgery. After this long year of many health issues I am willing to try almost anything to avoid surgery again. We’ll see how the surgical consult goes first. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which health issues are simply age related. A friend recently mentioned she was having age-related health problems. She told me that aging isn’t for sissies. Yep. We’re a brave lot, and not always because we want to be.

3. Infused water – While attending a conference last month I was introduced to infused water served in those lovely glass dispensers. The fruit and herbs look so pretty in the dispenser and the water is flavorful and refreshing. For my birthday my husband got me a double dispenser with a nice wrought iron looking stand. My herb garden provides the perfect source for delicious and interesting ingredients for a variety of fruit and herb infused water combos. I’m having fun with both the experimenting and the delicious water.

4. Rural living – Though we live in a small town just outside a major city, we have to drive past fields of crops regardless of what direction we go when we head out of town. I love observing the various stages involved in planting and harvesting each year. Currently the canola fields are that trademark cheerful sunny yellow. Pretty soon the flowers will disappear, and the stinky sock stage will be upon us. Don’t you love my technical terms? Canola has a stage in the growing cycle when the plants indeed smell like dirty gym socks. Don’t you wonder who ever had the idea of using the seeds from this stinky plant to produce an oil you cook with?

5. New restaurant – This week we tried a delicious meal at a Brazilian steak restaurant. The salad bar had little placards above each item listing all the ingredients and indicating whether the food was nut, dairy, or gluten free. At lunchtime there are six meats offered and special servers move from table to table providing portions of meat cut from a long skewer. Each place setting includes a small set of tongs which diners use to hold the serving of meat while the server cuts it off the skewer. The meat servers brought by three kinds of beef, one of chicken and two of pork. Our server urged us to try the Brazilian cheese buns, a Yorkshire pudding style popover made with cheese instead of pan drippings. I told her I could not have any since I had to eat gluten free. She broke into a big grin and told me the cheese buns were gluten free and eating them would “change your life!” While they did not change my life in any significant way, they certainly were absolutely delicious!