Sunday, February 26, 2012

February This and That

In my last post I reminded myself not to use "busy" as an excuse. After all, I am happy to be able to be out and about every day and involved in interesting activities. Blogging has taken a back seat in this interesting life. Here is a little rundown of what is new lately...

Last year I received a coupon from Trip Advisor for a free Shutterfly book. (I wrote several reviews for Trip Advisor and this was my reward). Shipping was free in the USA so I sent my book to family.
During my recent trip to Mexico, I saw the book and some calendars I had also designed. I was very impressed with the print quality. I did three more books of my Mexico time with family and decided to design others with pictures from holidays in the past three years. Back in "the day", the cost of buying and developing film would exceed the cost of these books. Shutterfly has special pricing posted frequently (I got 40% off in January) so you can complete your project and save it until the price comes down. I have been uploading and arranging photos from our Western Canada trip and will start on our Nevada-Arizona-California trip soon.

I started working on a new unit this month and have gone from treating strokes, hip fractures, amputees and the like on a slow rehab unit, to a caseload of geriatric assessment and mental health patients. The work is physically easier for me but I find I need to research and upgrade some skills with this different population. There is so much stigma with mental illness. These people often present with physical symptoms from their disease and the medications they take. We have a new longer term mental health unit at our hospital and the staff are enthusiastic and interesting to work with. They treat the patients with respect and dignity and I look forward to getting to know the team.

Last night we drove home after dark through the countryside and admired the crescent moon and the bright, bright light of Venus. This week is superb for skywatching. My dad told me he was out looking at the night sky in Mexico but in our part of Canada, the skies are cloudy much of the time so I am not in the habit of star gazing. Tonight Jupiter is the planet nearest the moon. You can check the skies at this site. 

This on again-off again winter has led to the earliest start of maple syrup production in our area. Birds are moving in different patterns as well. We have driven around looking for out of the ordinary birds. Yesterday we visited our daughter in London, Ontario where a Ross' Goose had been seen all week near her home. We walked through Springbank Park and did not see it, but this pair of Hooded Mergansers was on the Thames River and a mature Bald Eagle flew above our heads. It was very icy for walking (and driving) so I wasn't as thorough in my searching as I would be on a warmer day.

It snowed twice this month and I made a snowman for the birds with the packing snow. Raven enjoys running around outdoors in the yard, the dog park or the woods. She sheds like crazy and her feet get full of frozen ice and snow. She likes mud and digging and throws up easily when she eats or drinks too fast. But we love her anyway and most of the time she is no problem at all.

This is my third year enjoying a vegetarian (mostly vegan) diet. My meat-loving husband likes most of the dishes I serve even though he eats them as sides. The internet is full of great ideas and I rarely use cookbooks anymore. Here are two yummy recipes I tried this month (1) (2). And talking about print media... We have decided to stop our newspaper subscription after 35 years. It costs $16 a month for paper delivery and $4.95 and month for full internet access to our local news. With a computer, Kindle and iPad, I seldom turn pages of a paper book anymore.

Here are some of my favourite iPad apps and most are free. You will have to look them up in the Apps Store.

Word Ladder by Sporacle- fun and fast word game
BBC iPlayer- I just watch free stuff
All Recipes- I paid $4.99 for this and use it often
CBC Music- Free streaming of many musical genres
Apollo Browser- great free web browser that syncs with my computer's Firefox history and bookmarks
Notability- Write with your finger, a stylus, or use the keyboard
My Fitness Pal- Track food, exercise, calculate nutritional info of recipes. It even allows you to scan barcodes with an iPad or iPhone camera...very cool!
Dell Voice- A free phone! You get a number and can call landlines free of charge across Canada from your iPad or iPhone

That's all for now folks!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Too Busy ??

View in my side mirror at sunset

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Ginger posted a link on Facebook today to an article by Lynn Casteel Harper called “The Elimination of Busy: The Spiritual Discipline Of Being Present”. The author described how she aimed to remove the word busy from her vocabulary. She went on to say how we use the word busy as a badge of honour, how we need to be perceived as being busy even if we do not enjoy being busy. The article is worth reading in its entirety and excerpts below are in italics.

Our fixation on busy -- the ubiquity of keeping, staying, being, appearing busy -- seems to me a symptom of our societal obsession with productivity. If we are not always and forever productive (usually measured in economic terms), then we risk a societal demotion.

Busy often becomes an excuse, a cop-out, a matter of pride, a barrier to forging meaningful relationships, and a vantage point from which we judge others who are not as busy as we are. Busy people may not take time to observe, to listen or to reflect on events around them and often have difficulty choosing priorities in their lives.

Desert landscape near San Pedro, Coahuila MX

During my recent visit to Mexico, I enjoyed a slowing of time. Each day seemed twice as long as my usual work days at home. Good holidays should be like that. Since returning home, time is once again flying by at double speed. The days are not long enough to complete my “to do” lists. In contrast, I work with patients who have a succession of endless days and nights with no “to do” lists at all.

“Those persons who fall outside the framework of busy -- those whose lives are not productive in the ways we often determine productivity -- are too readily devalued and pushed aside. I am thinking of persons with cognitive impairment, physical disabilities or who otherwise cannot endure busy-ness. Many older adults fall into one or more of these categories, which may help explain why ageism -- the systematic negative rendering of the old -- rears its ugly head too frequently. We disdain the seemingly unproductive, those whose being outstrips their doing."
The solution to our busy-ness comes first with recognizing our state. Many people fail to see that their self-worth is tied up in doing rather than being.  I stopped working for a time to stay at home with our young daughters and became over extended in church activities because others thought I had the time and I did not know how to say “No”. There is a danger in becoming bitter and resentful when we are too busy doing even good things for others.

I saved my Amaryllis bulbs from last year and planted them in a pot about a month ago. They have been slow to sprout and a couple of weeks ago I pulled one bulb out of the dirt to see if it had rooted. Sure enough, there was lots of growth below the surface but my impatience almost destroyed the roots which were there. Busy-ness can impede the growth of personal relationships which must be nurtured, not rushed. And in the end, is there anything more important on earth than our relationships with others?

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before starting his work, conquering the demands of his flesh and resisting the temptations of Satan. The 40 days of Lent allow us time to draw away the from the busy demands of our consumer society, to recognize our spiritual neediness and to build our relationship with God and mankind. Growth takes time and cannot be rushed.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
Psalm 139: 4-6 NLT

Saturday, February 04, 2012

How We Found Winter and Some Gold Besides!

Photo taken by my DH
Around home, winter shows its nasty side every couple of weeks or so with a dose of freezing rain, sleet or lake effect snow squalls. Then comes a thaw leaving brown and green as our predominant seasonal colours this year. Our search for the real Canadian winter started at 4 AM this morning with a three plus hour drive in the dark toward the Haliburton Highlands of Central Ontario's Canadian Shield. Our first "pit stop" was just north of Orillia and there we crossed a boundary into snow and cold. The temperature dropped as we climbed toward Algonquin Park, from -3 C to -16 C within the park. The sun rose over clear skies and hoar frost on the trees sparkled like silver in the early morning light. A lone wolf climbed from a river's edge into the bush, Ravens flew overhead and flocks of winter Finches and Grosbeaks picked through gravel at the road's edge, flying up as we passed by.

Pine Grosbeak(f), White-winged Crossbill, Purple Finch(f), Blue Jay

Sparkling snow, clear air, no wind, bright sunshine...

Let winter sports begin...

Snowmobilers, cross country skiers, dog sledders, ice fishers, hikers and joggers enjoyed the day in and around the park. (Dog sledding within the park and snowmobiling outside the park)

My sport was birding and my goal was gold. I wasn't disappointed and added a new bird to my list!

Evening Grosbeak

Birds seen in Algonquin Park today: 
Evening Grosbeak (life bird), White-winged Crossbill*, Common Redpoll*, Gray Jay*, Blue Jay, Am Goldfinch, Red-breasted Nuthatch*, Pine Grosbeak*, Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Purple Finch*, Hairy Woodpecker, Pine Siskin*, Pileated Woodpecker
*First of Year