Friday Fave Five #115

You may have noticed that I rarely get my FFF published on Fridays. For now my husband’s day off is Friday and I like to keep the day as free as possible so he and I can spend time together. But since the purpose of the FFF is to recount blessings in our lives, I guess it ultimately does not matter much if these posts go up on Friday or another day of the week!

I have missed a couple of weeks of FFF. As I continue to find my new normal after more than two years of health struggles since my surgery, I am gently pushing myself to return to more responsibilities and activities. Sometimes I guess correctly and sometimes I find I have pushed myself too hard and need to sit back to rest and restore for a day or two. I also find I am much more linear in my ability to accomplish tasks. Multitasking was never my best point, but now it’s more of a challenge to do more than one thing at a time. Getting somewhat caught up on my paused “to do” list from a couple of years ago has been satisfying, but by focussing on that list, I missed posting FFF, among other things. Here are a few blessings for the past couple of weeks:

1. Not such a big problem – Our car broke down on the way to prayer meeting one recent Wednesday night. When a newer car with all the safety feature bells and whistles flashes red lights and tells you to pull over, you do it. The display indicated a major problem with the braking system, but it turned out to be an almost-dead battery. Once the new battery was installed the diagnostic was all clear and a potentially expensive repair ended up being a matter of regular maintenance.

2. Hospitality – One of the biblical responsibilities for those in ministry is to show hospitality. Illness can change how that looks in our lives so I have been blessed to slowly begin to host people in our home again.

3. Old photos – Sorting through family photos has been on my to do list ever since my computer crashed a few years ago and a friend recovered most of my pictures. Though the pictures were recovered they were no longer in any order. The past few weeks I have been sorting through the pics and thoroughly enjoying the memories these images evoked. Every person in our family has “the face” that defines them in their silly or thoughtful moments. I may make a photo book of these funny and endearing family faces!

4. Snow and harvest – We had a bit of snow earlier this week and a several inches Friday night and Saturday. All October we would look at the fields surrounding our town and pray that the farmers would get their crops in. A late spring and a cool, rainy summer made harvest time especially uncertain this year. A farmer in our church had us all praying for his harvest and we collectively gave a prayer of thanksgiving when they were able to finish before the snowfall.

5. Cards – I’ve been working on Christmas cards and photo cards the past few weeks. Here are a few of my latest designs:

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 #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!

Friday Fave Five #106

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. Quietness – I am an introvert and really appreciate and need quiet breaks after social interaction. These past few weeks have been intense and exceptionally busy for my husband and me. We left on Monday to spend the week at a cabin in a tiny lake community west of our large city. It’s very peaceful here, wind rustling through the leaves, a variety of birds singing and calling, and a general sereneness and lack of bustle that causes one to take a deep breath and sigh contentedly.
  2. Visit – On our way to the cabin we stopped and visited our daughter and son-in-law who live about 45 minutes from us. They moved shortly before my emergency surgery last year and my ensuing mobility issues prevented me from getting over to their new place for months. We rejoiced with them at their home and saw for ourselves the careful and beautiful way my daughter has lent her artistic touch to their home.
  3. Hot tub – Our cabin is a private residence with its own hot tub right outside the back door. How delightful it has been to soak whenever we want to, surrounded by swaying green birches and pines set against clear deep blue skies. My fibromyalgia responds well to the warm waters and I am grateful.
  4. Photo ops – Our schedules have not been conducive lately to enjoyable drives in the countryside to take photos. I love taking pictures of abandoned rural buildings and wonder what brought people to these remote areas and what eventually caused them to leave. This week we have captured some intriguing buildings and some pretty nature shots. It’s a blissful way to spend time with my beloved.
  5. Reading – My husband and I are reading (listening to an audiobook of) Eight Women of Faith by Michael Haykin during our time away. I appreciate and love reading about women in missions and those who have influenced church history. Some of the subjects in the book I have read about extensively while others I have never heard of before. The chapters are short enough to read one a day during our getaway and I’ve learned about some very inspirational women this week.

I’m also reading (yes, actually reading) Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. This book was recommended to me several years ago, but I am just getting around to reading it now. I’m a couple of chapters in and am finding much food for thought thus far.

Here are five pics from this week.

Friday’s Fave Five #96

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

1. Dinner out. We had a week-long guest who treated us to dinner last Saturday. It was delicious, and my petite steak was cooked to perfection. I’ve had to learn which restaurants take my food sensitivities seriously and which don’t. This place did, which made dining out a happy experience for me.

2. Shopping. Yesterday my daughter took me grocery shopping. I pushed a cart and selected my own items, something I have not been able to do for the past 4 months. I also graduated to changing a laundry load on my own, and knocked off a bunch of ironing this week. I still need help with many things, but it is wonderful to add to the list of things I can now do.

3. Unexpected generosity. Someone anonymously paid for two weeks of my cleaning helper’s wages. This young lady has been a cheerful and exceedingly capable helper to me as I continue to heal. When she told me of the gift I burst into tears of joy and gratitude. Benefactor, if you read this blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

4. Lunch out. After grocery shopping yesterday, my daughter suggested we get lunch out at our favorite restaurant in town. I was feeling quite tired from shopping, and I’m not a spontaneous person, but it sounded like a nice idea, so we went for it. My meal was excellent as usual, and I had plenty for both lunch and supper from that one meal. It was extra-special to spend some ‘girl time’ with one of my lovely daughters!

5. Evaluating I see the surgeon again on Wednesday. I feel my leg is strengthening, but I am still struggling with lack of stamina and overall strength. It will be interesting to see if one leg is longer than the other after this surgery, but it’s hard to tell that until I am walking on it normally. I’m also looking forward to adding more physio to gain strength and balance. Dealing with my fibromyalgia in addition provides an interesting challenge. If I push too hard my muscles are in agony and I am unable to do my physio for several days. If I don’t push enough, my strengthening will be delayed. I need a great deal of wisdom as I go forward, as well as listening carefully to the way my body responds to the exercise.

Photos from the past few weeks:

Vibrant colours

Balcony view

Cattail convention

Mountain corona

Prairie standard

Magnificent mountains

Friday’s Fave Five #95

My goal is to post FFF each week to make myself intentionally stop and recall blessings of the previous week. It’s amazing to me how often I have to rack my brain to think of five I want to write about when each week is full of God’s grace as well as many blessings Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

1.Warm weather October weather in Alberta can be really cold or it can be very pleasant. Though we’ve had snow a couple of times this fall, we’ve also enjoyed some beautiful warm days. With my current limited mobility I am grateful for every day without ice and snow so I can enjoy the sunshine and take my short daily walks unhindered.

2. Phone visit with a friend A dear friend lives thousands of miles away and recently suggested a phone chat to catch up. We thoroughly enjoyed talking together and plan to continue these visits on a regular basis.

3. Ride in the country I was feeling under the weather on a particularly warm and beautiful day. Since my husband has a lighter schedule this week he willingly took me for a drive in the country so I could enjoy the warm day. Though I will be so very glad to be cleared to drive again, I am thankful for my husband’s kindness in driving me around during my convalescence.

4. Healing My hip continues to heal and strengthen. I am now able to do more physio, walk around more, and put more weight on the leg. I am hoping to receive the green light for full weight bearing at my November 1 appointment. I am also extremely grateful for continually increasing mental acuity now that I am completely off the pain meds.

5. Handicap helps A century ago my hip condition would have meant I was relegated to the rocking chair by the pot-bellied stove and labeled as a cripple. I am so thankful that we live at a time when my hip replacement revision surgery was possible and for the many handicap-friendly aids loaned to me to help me have a safe and successful recovery.

Photos from this week – from the mountains….to the prairies….

Mountain view

Dusting of snow

Valley view

Larch branches

Sunlight and shadow

Autumn abates

Fence line fluff

Nature’s cotton candy

Pastoral peacefulness

 

 

Friday’s Fave Five #94

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

1.Canadian Thanksgiving We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving last Monday with family and friends, and were even able to enjoy our feasting in the lovely autumn weather outside on the deck!

2.Road trip This was a full week including a road trip to Canmore for our church’s leadership annual planning meeting. I had to take most of my temporary handicap equipment with me, which meant others had to help set it up and haul my walker in and out of the car for me. I was blessed by their patience and kindness!

3. Photography My beloved drove me around to take pictures while we were in the mountains. I have missed many things while recovering from surgery including being able to drive around and take pictures. My husband is a busy man, so his loving sacrifice to cheerfully drive me around when he has other things demanding his attention was a wonderful gift to me.

Clouds lifting over the Rockies

Autumn snow

Possibilities

Contrast

Golden autumn

Lone leaf

Autumn afternoon

 

4. Pumpkin beverage I have many food intolerances, including coffee. I really enjoy fall harvest flavours and thought it would be fun to try a pumpkin spice latte, but it has coffee in it so I’ve never tried it. While on our little trip I discovered that I can order this fall-themed beverage without the coffee. They call it a pumpkin spice crème or pumpkin spice steamer. It was delicious!

5. Mountains I love the mountains. I love the majesty, beauty, and ever-changing face of the mountains. From snow-capped, sun-dappled peaks, to howling storms, to mist and cloud draping craggy mountain shoulders, the mountains provide a constantly changing canvas for photography. Here are a few mountain shots from our weekend trip.

Layers

Mysterious

 

Fresh snow

Morning mountains

 

Friday Fave Five #90

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

1.Small town I love living in a small town. It’s not perfect, but people tend to look out for each other, greet each other, and rally together to support local causes. This week a very popular restaurant in town posted on their facebook page that they would trade baked goods for any extra mint from area residents’ gardens. How fun is that! Since my summer has been rerouted from regular activities to recovery, I have not been able to poke around in my garden, and had plenty of mint to share. Even though the baked goods were not gluten free, my family enjoyed the delicious breads, rolls and muffins given in trade for the mint.

2.More local stuff Two of my daughters are involved in the local arts council, one representing drama and one voice. Recently my daughter became aware that even though there are many families with young children in our town, there is no community children’s choir. She has taught voice lessons and coached musical theater for several years and decided to start a kids’ choir this fall. The local newspaper did a full-page piece on her which has generated even more interest than what she was already getting. This is very nostalgic for me as most of my kids participated in a community choir years ago.

3.Drive in the country Yesterday my husband took me for a drive in the country. I haven’t been out much since the surgery, which made this jaunt particularly enjoyable. We capped the drive with a take-out meal from Edo Japan. Though I could not get out and walk around, I was able to get a few photos from my seat in the car. What a refreshing afternoon!

4.Short lived flu Our youngest daughter had a flu last weekend which I picked up mid-week. Because I am still recovering from surgery I was concerned at first that the pounding headache was some sort of surgical side effect, but after talking with my daughter I realized I had identical symptoms that she did. Thankfully the headache dissipated after 24 hours.

5.Paring down on meds The past few days I have been able to significantly cut back on my pain meds. Though they have been necessary, they affect my mental state and I will be very glad to be off them altogether. Yay for clear thinking and a healing body! My next post-surgical check-up is Wednesday and I am praying for a good report.

Here are a few of those photos from yesterday.

Summer on the prairie

Roadside purple

Fading canola

Anybody home?

Prairie simplicity

Friday’s Fave Five #79

FFF heart.

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

Birds singing Our central Alberta weather has been mercurial this month. From bitterly cold to record breaking warmth, we’ve experienced it all within the same week. Wednesday was that record breaker for us and it was lovely to open windows, watch the snow melting and even hear some birds singing. I don’t care what the groundhog says, I’m ready for spring!

Reliable transportation My husband and I were reminiscing about our previous vehicle and how we had to guess when we needed a refill because the gas gauge was broken. We tracked mileage which helped, but we never mastered the refill game and ended up running out of gas several times. That is no longer a concern with our new vehicle and we are very grateful for the provision of this new car.

Family night My husband is not much of a games person, and though I really enjoy playing board games, I do not get to very often. When we were in China in December our son introduced us to the game Dixit which, surprisingly to me, my husband enjoyed. Our girls bought him Dixit for his birthday last month and we played it on Monday. It was lots of fun!

Thoughtful spouse My husband asked me to make Valentine’s cards for our daughters and since the girls are big Star Wars fans, I made them Star Wars themed cards I found on Pinterest. My husband gave them the cards with some candy and flowers on Monday night. I’m so grateful that he wanted to do something special for them on this holiday that can leave singles feeling lonely..

My thoughtful husband

My thoughtful husband

Unexpected sales One of my girls took some of my Purple Grandma Designs Valentine’s cards to work to see if anyone wanted or needed a card. I was amazed and blessed that she sold every one of them! These sales help pay for my supplies so I can also give away cards to bless and encourage others.

Here are the last of this year’s Valentine cards from Purple Grandma Designs.

img_7997 img_8000

I snapped a few phone shots of people snowkiting in some fields near our home. I did not even know what it was called – had to look up parasailing on snow and found out it’s called snowkiting. My phone does not take the best pictures, but this will give you an idea of what I saw.

Snowkiting near Beaumont

Snowkiting near Beaumont

February sunset colours

February sunset colours