Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why Do I Blog?

I have been blogging now for almost one year. My first entry was on June 6th, 2007.

When friends or family have discovered that I am blogging, they have asked, "Why do you blog? .... Just exactly what do you get out of it?"

Let me try to answer that question.

This world of blogging is a wonder to me, somewhat like looking up into the heavens. There is no end to the millions of words to be devoured in "blogland". So many different people journaling just like me, sharing their life and views.

Throughout this time I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring different areas of thought, sharing pictures and feelings about my family, sharing my crafting adventures, views on decorating, dressing, a little creative writing and offering my thoughts on a more natural approach to living and health.

Although I don't have the following that some bloggers do, I appreciate the few who regularly come for a visit and leave a comment. Isn't this world a wonderful way to meet people from all over the world? I recently had a visitor to my blog from Denmark. We have exchanged comments and I so enjoy her views on her life and travel.

We are so privileged to live right now and have access to this wonderful technology that gives us the ability to converse with others around the world. Without leaving my home, I can watch travel videos, see other countries through the eyes of fellow bloggers and get to know them through the words in their blogs. With a webcam and Skype we can even call around the world and chat face to face. And yet just two generations back were witnesses to the introduction of the automobile, air travel, the telephone, the television ... things we all take for granted.

There are a few other blogs that I follow religiously, and I'd like to think, made some wonderful blogging friends. My morning coffee just isn't complete without reading the words of these friends blogs.

Recently I offered the quilt I have been making (which doesn't quite fit with my decor) to one of my blog friends. Her enthusiastic comments each and every time I posted a picture of my progress on this my first quilt always made my day and encouraged me to continue on my quilting adventure. Although we have never met I feel a kinship with this person and look forward to the day when we might meet.

I enjoy this forum where I share my feelings on books I have read, movies I have watched and hope in some very small way that my words encourage someone who happens by for a quick visit. I do not post to get comments, but they certainly help to reinforce why I continue to write and share my thoughts and feelings on certain subjects.

I would like to share here below the beautiful reply I received from my friend in response to my offer of the quilt:

OH MY GOD !!!! Barb, I can't believe my eyes as I am reading this email (actually, I'm having a hard time reading because of the tears in my eyes at the moment). Seriously, my heart is pounding 100 miles an hour. I am so excited, thrilled, happy and all those words that you are offering your first quilt to me - I am speechless. But most of all I am so very touched of such a kind, selfless act that you are doing.

But Barb, are you sure you want to part with it !!!!! believe me, it will be very much cherished and used. I am a firm believer that those possessions we love and cherish so much are meant to be used and enjoy the love we feel from those treasures.

And yes, from the first time I set my eyes on your quilt I fell in love with the blue colors in it.
OK, I have to take 5 deep breaths and get a Kleenex.

Thank you a million times.

Keep in touch.

This is why I blog!!!

Six Months Later

Here are MY pictures from a much anticipated six month checkup with my orthopaedic surgeon today.

The first x-ray is my knee pre-surgery.

As I cannot understand the shadings and variations on an x-ray, the doctor explained to me that this picture displayed severe Grade 4 arthritis which is about as bad as it gets. There is no cure and no getting better from Grade 4 arthritis.

And here is the new and improved picture of my knee after the surgery showing my bionic knee.

It has taken me a while to feel comfortable looking at this, knowing that I have an artificial prosthesis in me, but I've finally arrived, so I felt comfortable sharing my insides with you.

Although my fibromyalgia has impeded my progress, I have still done very well in my therapy surpassing the 120 degree bend threshold.

Today the doctor bent my knee, extended it and was very pleased with my abilities at this checkup. As well, he was very happy to see how the keloid scarring has gone done and flattened out somewhat thanks to the multitude of acupuncture treatments I have had directly into the scar.

So no more checkups with the doctor for another six months and as well I have dropped down to one physio-therapy treatment a week.

Tonight I feel that I deserve a little bubbly to celebrate crossing this monumental milestone.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Soul of Evil

Have you seen "The Last King of Scotland"?

I finally watched it yesterday after many months of waiting, waiting, waiting to watch it with my hubby.

After going to Ethiopia to bring Gabriella home last year, I have felt Africa and her pain deep in my heart. I cannot explain why. The country and her people touched me in more ways than I can say.

Having said that, I have seen many of the movies demonstrating the sad state of affairs with regard to different problems in Africa .... The Constant Gardener, Rwanda, Blood Diamond and now The Last King of Scotland.

This was a most disturbing movie.

Idi Amin known as The Butcher of Uganda, joined the King's African Rifles, KAR (Britain's colonial African troops), and served in Burma, Somalia, Kenya (during the British suppression of the Mau Mau) and Uganda. Although he was considered a skilled, and somewhat overeager, soldier, Amin developed a reputation for cruelty.

He took power in a military coup in January 1971, deposing Milton Obote. His rule was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extra-judicial killings and the expulsion of Indians from Uganda.

During his regime the number of people killed is unknown; estimates from human rights groups range from 100,000 to 500,000. Dissent within Uganda, and Amin's attempt to annex the Kagera province of Tanzania in 1978, led to the Uganda-Tanzania War and the fall of his regime in 1979. Amin fled to Libya, before relocating to Saudi Arabia in 1981, where he died in 2003.

This movie was loosely based with fictional liberties on the beginning years of his regime.

It graphically displayed the evil deep within the soul of this man.

After this movie was over, I sat physically shaking. I looked at my husband and said, "How can one man hold so much evil in his soul?"

The only part of this movie that was amazing was the ferociously commanding performance by Forest Whitaker. He was extraordinary. He conveys the charismatic appeal of a popularly-elected official and the oppressive, paranoia of a merciless dictator. He helps the audience understand how a man with so much power can delude himself into believing that his well being benefits the populace.

Whitaker's performance is one of the fiercest, least predictable performances of 2006, so fully on edge that he becomes the movie's edge.

He was so believable that I could feel the evil emanating from this man.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Coat is Finally Finished

Here is the finally finished Berrocco™ coat/shrug I've been working on. You will need to click on the picture to see the stitch work and cables in the coat.

The first picture shows the back which I think is rather interesting. It is knit in an elongated triangle and then each side/ front is picked up down each side of the triangle and then knit side to side.

This was a challenging sweater to knit. Designed by Norah Gaughan, her ideas are quite thought intensive, so there were many sessions of taking back my knitting until I got the hang of her thought processes.

As well, I've hung it so you can see the length. It wears somewhat like a very long shrug. It only comes together on the top part of the yoke and then each side gently pulls away all the way down to the bottom. Should be quite nice when the weather turns chilly again (not that I'm looking forward to that - just getting prepared) and I just need a little something to keep me warm.

The Peruvian yarn that I used is incredibly soft and knits up beautifully.

I am quite happy with this and look forward to wearing it ....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago today I was very fortunate to be invited to the birth of this beautiful boy.

I still remember my excitement as I watched him come into the world, my overflowing heart as I held him my arms for the first time and looked into his precious little face.

Today I am still so fortunate to have this beautiful child in my life.

My first grandchild ..... Ryan.

Happy Birthday my beauty!

A Challenge

This beautiful picture was on a blog owned by Patrice which I found recently and although quite different from my blog style has provided me great reading pleasure.

Her post simply said, "There is a poem here, I'm waiting patiently."

I too agree. This lovely picture begs for descriptive words.

Do leave me a comment with your poem.

Let's see how many we can accumulate and also let's see how many budding poets are out there.

Here is my submission.

See how peacefully the water swirls
about the rocks which curl
and cradle the moss as it unfurls
its' fingers to breath in ....... life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yikes - This is Scary

Okay, this post is to express my extreme discomfort with the Medical/Pharmaceutical community, and the chemicals so freely given out.

Think for just a moment about the crisis we are reaching with super bugs and why this has happened. Thanks to the Medical/Pharmaceutical industries overuse of antibiotics, we now have superbugs that do not respond to any antibiotic on the market today.

Today while I was having my lunch a commercial came on for a new birth control product called "SEASONIQUE®".

Never having been in favour of birth control pills because of the fact that they interfere with the bodies natural ovulation cycle, I was completely shocked when I listened to this commercial and it's very slick marketing enticing women to try their exciting new product. Their targeted audience ... women who are tired or do not want to deal with monthly menstruation cycles. By using this product, they can eliminate 8 cycles a year. This is shocking to me!!!! How can anyone with reasonable thinking capacity possibly think that eliminating or suppressing 8 menstruation cycles a year is safe to their female reproductive system.

Prescription chemicals scare the daylights out of me when I read the side effects, when I think of what they are doing to my body, but this commercial really got my attention when a wonderful positive spin was placed on interfering with the female reproductive system.

Why on earth would anyone want to have a period every month when all they need to do is take this birth control pill and voila only one period every 4 months.

Here's a little of their information from their site about this product.

"When you’re on a birth control pill, the period you get every month isn’t a real period. It’s what’s called a “Pill” period. When you take a birth control pill, you don't have a menstrual cycle—your body doesn't prepare for pregnancy because you don't ovulate. As a result, your uterine lining doesn't build up, so there's no need to shed it. This is the reason you don’t need to bleed every month when you take the Pill."

This is an extended-regimen birth control pill—which means it’s designed to lengthen the time between your periods so you have fewer periods—once every 3 months instead of every month. The easiest way to explain how its extended regimen works is to compare it with a typical monthly birth control pill.

And of course this products carries all the risks and complications of any other synthetic hormone products, blood clots, stroke, heart attack, etc....

How smart is this - messing around with what nature intends our body to do each month ... prepare our womb to carry a life.

Women consistently suppressing their ovulation is providing a wonderful financial opportunity for fertility clinics & egg donors.

There are so many other methods of birth control that are safer to our reproductive systems. I realize, they may be a little more inconvenient, maybe not quite as effective as the pill, but what is more important - your ultimate long term health or a few moments of inconvenience.

I'd like to pause here to interject a little personal history with hormone replacement therapy.

Having been surgically forced into menopause about 10 years ago I have been on a journey through prescription synthetic hormones and the subsequent effects to my body.

Pregnant mares urine - really now - am I a horse????? Not to mention the cruel conditions under which these mares are kept in order to continue collecting their urine for menopausal women.

Along the way as I journeyed towards my optimum health, I discovered a wonderful doctor - Dr. Alvin Pettle, an M.D. who believes in a more natural approach to menopause. He introduced me to natural progesterone / estrogen which gives the same benefits as the synthetics hormones. Bio-identical hormones are made from botanical plants such as soy and yams. The human body is not able to convert soy or yams directly into natural hormones, so the natural plants are processed by a chemist to produce natural bio-identical progesterone and bio-identical Bi-Est and Tri-Est, the estrogens. The body responds to the hormones as if they were the naturally produced hormones of the body, rather than a foreign substance which occurs when synthetic hormones are introduced.

Although this is a little off the path I originally started on, it shows that there are natural ways to treat most any health issue, so why not view our needs for birth control in a more natural way, instead of suppressing the very part that makes us unique as women.

Carpenters have a saying, "Measure twice, cut once." Let's apply a similar principle to our health .... research & then research again before you rush to the doctor to get a chemical solution which only suppresses the health problem and does not treat what might have caused that problem to start with. Understand your health issues before you see that doctor, research the ways you can treat it (the Internet is a treasure trove of information), then make an informed decision.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Living In The Present

Having recently read "The New Earth" by Eckhart Tolley, I find my new found skills being put to the test.

Yesterday I spent the day until 11:00pm last night at the hospital with my mother. She is 83 and has suffered from high blood pressure for over 15 years. In the past few weeks, she has experienced some rather odd events. We had thought they were slight strokes with symptoms of dizziness/disorientation, out of focus vision, extreme fatigue after the fact, head pain, etc.

This was ruled out when yesterday her blood pressure sky rocketed to over 200 (the top number or systolic reading), which puts her at a very high risk for stroke or massive heart attack. The specialist said it was her blood pressure and as well her heart which has considerable damage from the years of high blood pressure.

During the day she was experiencing dizziness, numbness and tingling as well as a very severe head ache.

The cardiologist decided to keep her in the hospital for a few days to experiment with some new medications to try to bring her blood pressure down to a more manageable level.

This brings me to the point of my post.

I must stay focused on the present. I was wakeful all night projecting myself to the possible future and of course thinking of all different scenarios.

- What if she doesn't survive this episode? We talked in the hospital about the possibility of her death and she was clear that she did not want to be resuscitated should she suffer a heart attack or stroke. These things are extremely hard to discuss but necessary.

- How would my father cope should my mother not survivie him ... he is very disabled and she does everything for him.

- How would we as a family help him?

- How will I fit in spending time with my mother, possibly cooking some meals for my dad with my therapy which I still have 4 times a week.

With my parents ages at 83 and 88 it is difficult to not project into the future, especially when one of them is not well.

The doctor expressed great concern last night about my mother's very high blood pressure and as well getting it down to lower the high risk factor for stroke/heart attack.

Today I will pick up some personal articles and spend a little time with her before coming home to cook meals for us as well as my dad.

Also, I need to some "still" time today to try to refocus on the present and not continue projecting to what may or may not happen in the near future.

I must remind myself that my worry or concern for the future will not change the outcome.

What will be - will be ..............

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

Are you grateful for what you have???

I do not get out of bed in the morning without expressing my gratitude for the day, for my fortune in life, for my family, for my friends, for my home, for my health.

This week my health has been particularly poignant for me.

Friends of ours endured the gut wrenching wait through four hours of brain surgery on their eight year old daughter. She had a benign but growing brain tumour which was causing her to seizure.

Fortunately all went well and she actually came home yesterday.

Then on Monday my sister Fran called to say that hubby Bob was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and pancreatitis.

How fortunate I am to have my health. I guard it well with a good diet (although I do succumb to carbohydrates rather frequently - my guilty sin), herbal supplements, probiotics and EFA's. I am not so much a medical community person, but always look towards the natural world before I see an MD. Regular chiropractic adjustments, I believe keep me quite well by keeping my spine in perfect alignment and allowing all my life force to flow up and down feeding my entire body with its' energy.

As previous posts have said, I do suffer from fibromyalgia (FM) and arthritis but I am fortunate in my life to be able to stay home and take good care of my body. The lack of career stress helps me maintain a modicum of control over my fibromyalgia.

I have a strong belief that when one door closes another one opens. I have a very optimistic and positive attitude about life. I don't worry about the future ... the future will take care of itself. I try very hard to live in the present moment because that is really all that we have.

My husband, Don came into my life 23 years ago after a divorce. I do believe that our relationship was meant to be. He has been my angel as the FM and arthritis has taken away a great deal of abilities over the past 20 years. He has worked to give us a comfortable life and is wonderfully understanding and helpful when I need it. When I had my knee surgery, he took time off work and looked after me with cooking, cleaning, nursing and just being there.

So for Don, I am so grateful.

My family ... how blessed I am. Two healthy children and four beautiful, healthy grandchildren. The love expressed by my grandchildren whenever I visit is so sweet. I can't go anywhere without Gabriella following me and wanting me to pick her up. When I sit on the sofa one if not all three of the boys clamour around to snuggle. When we sit down to eat there are arguments about who will sit beside Poppa and Mammy. Then when it's time to leave, the begging starts .. "Why can't you stay" "Can you come back" "You could stay and sleep in our bed". Their love is quite sweet and innocent and makes my heart ache with love for them.

My heart swells with pride for my daughter whose parenting skills are unsurpassed. I always considered myself a good parent, but Sebrina's devotion to her children puts me to shame. I saw in Ethiopia how much her life is intertwined with her children. They are her very breath.

And what would my life be without my dear friends. Friends with whom we can enjoy lovely, leisurely meals and fellowship. A friend who is always there if I call and need to just chat.

I am so grateful for my home, more so since having visited Ethiopia when my daughter adopted Gabriella.

Having a roof over my head that protects me from the elements of our harsh Canadian weather, the ability to get in my car and drive to the grocery store to buy whatever I need ... how fortunate I am. Thousands sleep in the streets and beg for every scrap of food they eat in Ethiopia.

I am so rich in love from family and friends, rich with lovely surroundings, rich with what is stocked in my kitchen and rich in good health.

So with an attitude of gratitude I start this day and send out my thanks to the universe for blessing me with all of my riches.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Memories of Long Ago Knitting

Do you remember when wool came in hanks like this rather than the ready wound balls so commonly found in craft stores today?

I have recently starting working with lovely Alpacas, Peruvian and Merino wools ordered through online wool manufacturers.

My last purchase was 500 grams of natural cream colored Peruvian wool straight off the sheep (well - washed, carded, spun and plied, of course) and very soft with the cushioned feel of hand spun.

How surprised I was when it arrived to see the large tied and twisted hank of wool ready to be wound into a ball for me to start knitting.

This took me back to my childhood when my mother would have me sit on the floor with her wool around both of my hands, rhythmically swinging my arms back and forth while she slowly wrapped the wool around her fingers to start the ball, then took that small roll off her fingers to start the ball. I got quite proficient at dropping my hand at just the right time to prevent the yarn from tangling in my fingers. We worked in synchronization ... me swaying my arms back and forth and she methodically wrapping the yarn around and around first in one direction and then in the other until this perfectly round ball of yarn was created and ready for her needles.

Last night I sat with my husband with the hanks draped across his hands, trying to show him how to rhythmically move his arms back and forth to my wrapping so the yarn wouldn't get caught in his fingers.

I think we need to work on winding a few more hanks before he gets the hang of it.

I did however get three balls wound and they are patiently sitting in my knitting basket with my bamboo needles for my next knitting project, but first I must finish my coat which is almost complete, about 3 inches left on the collar, then sew it together and hopefully I will get to wear it before the weather gets too warm.

This is the vest that I will use the newly wound balls of Peruvian wool for.

It's just so hard to look at the beautiful yarn sitting my basket with the needles, almost taunting me to pick them and start casting on the stitches.

Maybe I'll just cast on the stitches for the back, knit an inch or so to see how it knits up and then put it back the basket.

Oh .... who am I kidding, if I cast them on I'll just keep knitting until the back is done.

I may need knitting therapy .... I can't control myself when I see beautiful yarns, and then to feel that beautiful yarn run through my fingers as my bamboo needles click, click with each stitch that is made.

I love knitting, casting on the stitches, starting that first row of pattern, seeing the shape grow before my eyes, feeling the weight of the garment on my lap as I work the yoke or sew it together and then the pièce de résistance ..... trying on my new creation .... ahhh heaven.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The ABC's Of Spring

Well, I think that it's time to for the ABC's of Spring.

We are looking at double digit temperatures coming for the next week.

Yesterday I noticed that there were actually swollen buds on my Ivory Silk Lilac tree in front of my home.

The creek behind our home, was rushing furiously over the small water fall from the fast melt we have been experiencing the past couple of days.

A - Al Fresco dining

B - Buds, Birds, Butterflies, Bare feet, BBQ

C - Colourful spring clothing

D - Deck, Daffodils, Dandelions

E - Easter

F - Flowers, Fresh air, Frogs

G - Grass, Green, Gardening

H - Hamburgers, Home DIY Projects

I - Insects, Ice cream

J - Johnny-Jump-Ups

K - Kids playing outside

L - Love, Laundry drying outside

M - Masses of cumulus clouds, Magnolia blossoms

N - New Life, New Beginings, No SNOW, FREEZING RAIN, ICE, COLD, No more socks

O - Orange Popsicles, Ornaments for the garden, Open windows

- Patio Furniture

Q - Quite simply my favourite time of the year

R - Roller skates, Radio Flyer Wagon, Ribs

S - Scooters, Sun , Sandles, Sand

T - Tulips, Turtles

U - Unbreakable dishware in luscious colours

V - Violets

W - Washing the cars

X - Xanadu - the summer capital of Kublai Khan. The poem below About Xanadu makes me think of spring.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery

Y - Yellow - definitely a colour that says Spring to me

Z - Zipping around on my bicycle

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Big Stair Dilemma

This is how the stairs looked in our home when we purchased it 3 1/2 years ago.

Then we had the carpet removed and hardwood installed. As the golden oak spindles and handrail did not look very nice with the dark oak treads, I painted the spindles Benjamin Moore Cloud White™ and the handrail Black Satin™.

For some reason, I just was never happy with that look, the spindles seemed very stark in comparison to the dark treads.

So recently I undertook the painting of the darn thing again .... Only 48 spindles at one and one half hours per 12 with 3 coats of oil based paint - that should only take ....... get back to me next year on the completion date.

This time I did the entire thing including the spindles in Black Satin eggshell finish and am much more pleased with this result. It is a lovely soft black and the finish looks almost hand rubbed.

As well, I think the dark spindles & handrail blend together very nicely with the dark treads. Because the contrast is not as great as the white, the entire handrail is not as obvious as it was when it was white. I also think the soft black has a much classier look that the white.

Well, back to more painting ........


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