Monday, July 31, 2006 is hot today! Foxtrot by Bill Amend


There is a very interesting site on Blogger called Cartography . It is the weblog of the Canadian Cartographic Association and it has many varied and interesting maps. Last week the Map of the Happy Planet was posted. Canada ranks 10th in happiness according to their polls, the USA 23rd. Denmark was 1st. Click on the interactive map to look at the ranking of other nations
On July 26th, the (Un)Happy Planet Map was posted. It measures life expectancy which is multiplied by life satisfaction. The result is divided by the ecological footprint for that country. Canada ranks 111th on this map, as we do leave a large ecological footprint. You can take a survey on the site to calculate your own happiness index.

...he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. Proverbs 14:21

Sunday, July 30, 2006

View from our deck and sandstorms...

Sandland Brother has a post today about the extreme heat and sandstorms in his part of the world. In case he forgets the colour green, this is the view from my deck this morning.
People here are complaining about the heat. Yesterday was 30C with a humidex of 40C....positively frosty by other standards in the world.
Jaspenelle said yesterday, "I hear so many people complain about the heat - in fact they are the same people who complained about the cold, and the rain and the wind."

How true!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Family Collage
My paternal grandfather came to Canada from Holland after World War 1. He had four children. The family has grown to 45 blood descendants.
My aunt just sent me a number of family photos of cousins I have not seen for a long time. Their families have grown. I put this collage together with the help of The Becka. It shows the family with my grandparents in the middle.
All 45 family members are here. Thank you to my Family Historian Aunt for sending the last 4 photos when she was busy packing and to Musical Aunt who submitted the last correction. If anyone has an improved photo, or wants something removed, let me know.
I know spouses are vital, but they are not on this family portrait.
Aug 5/06- Completely revised new collage with different grandparent photo as well other changes. Click image to enlarge.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hunters and gatherers….
Raspberries are my favourite berry. Six years ago I planted 6 canes and they have slowly spread into a nice patch in the backyard.

It is satisfying to gather your own food, whether you cut a sprig of parsley from a pot in the window, grow some sprouts in a jar, or have a large market garden.

My husband is passionate about fishing and loves a shore lunch or some fish he prepared in the smoker. Fresh caught pickerel makes the best breakfast!

El Granjero, (my brother after Sandland) has a hobby farm in western Mexico. There are well over 100 fruit trees planted on his property, including the little mango tree below. In spite of the work, he finds it a relaxing and rewarding pastime.
Grow a food plant...

visit a pick-your-own farm...

buy fresh fish from a fisher...

shop at a farmer’s market...

nothing will taste better.

Link: Slow Food Movement

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I was telling one of my patients that the doctor wanted to keep him in hospital for a few more days. They had discovered he had an abnormal heart rhythm and was at risk for a stroke if he did not take blood thinners. This widower is in his late eighties. He has had some recent medical problems and has had to give up his home, but still wants to get out on the golf course this season. He is cheerful and pleasant.

His response to me was…. "So what is so bad about having a stroke?"

The first thoughts in my mind were to explain to him that a stroke doesn’t always kill you, but can leave you alive and disabled.

But I kept quiet, because I knew what he was saying.

We try hard to keep a timely death at bay. It is hard to talk about death, or accept that it is inevitable. My one daughter is a nurse and she cannot understand why coronary artery bypasses are done on some elderly people with dementia. The families of these people push for medical interventions that are no longer important to quality of life.

I heard on the news yesterday that Ariel Sharon had been taken to the intensive care unit for dialysis. Why? The Russians have kept Lenin’s dead body in state for decades. Do the Israelis want to keep Sharon in a vegetative state for the same length of time?

So I told my patient, "I understand what you are saying. But let us get on with this one day and live it the best way we know how."

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I have mentioned Grandma a couple of times in my is more about her life.

Both of my maternal grandparents were medical doctors. My grandmother was one of the first women to graduate in medicine from the University of Toronto. I never knew my grandfather as he died prematurely when my mother was 16 years old. Grandma was one of the most influential people in my life. I enjoyed her wisdom and wit until she died in 1990, just before her 94th birthday. She loved life, traveled widely, made friends easily, and encouraged us to do the same. She used to take me to a local nursing home to help her serve ice cream in the tuck shop. I learned to be comfortable around older people. I think of her often and remember her advice when I work with my older patients.

I remember doing dissections in anatomy class, but I don’t remember having fun!
Grandma loved a game of Scrabble after dinner. I could never beat her. She had a well thumbed Scrabble dictionary that she had memorized. The only time she needed it was to prove to me that her play was really a word.
I have installed Scrabble on my computer, but it is not the same as a game played on the kitchen table.

We played an interesting game of Scrabble in Mexico with my 11 year old sobrino. The game had Spanish letter tiles, and we played in SpanFrenglish. Sobrino cleaned up with high scores as he was far more multi-lingual than we were….and very liberal with the rules!

The other picture above shows a game well played on the kitchen table in Canada…. English only.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I love Lake Huron’s shoreline. Southampton has always been a favourite vacation spot. Bayfield is a great day trip from our home. If you like a bit more action, you should visit Grand Bend or Sauble Beach.

When I told my daughters that I wanted to go to Ipperwash beach, they were shocked. For half of their lives, there has been ongoing negative press about the Ipperwash Crisis. I promised to drive on to Grand Bend if the OPP or native protesters were still at the beach.

Turn off the news for at least half of the week!

We had a lovely day, peaceful and relaxing, on another beautiful part of our Great Lakes.

(Read The Becka's reflections on the day at the beach. I love her photo of her sandals.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Steps towards independence….

The road to recovery after a devastating illness or accident is often long, rough and at times discouraging. Having to relearn movements and functions that were previously automatic is hard work. Full recovery is not always possible.

I am amazed at the resilience of the human spirit and the will many people show in overcoming a disability. Working with sick patients can be very draining physically and emotionally. But I meet many wonderful people who give me far more than I give them. It is a pleasure to help them as they work to achieve their goals.

Graham* had been totally blind for 10 years as a result of diabetes. He had several other serious medical problems. Yet I never once heard him complain about his dark world. He talked about his sons and his grandchildren with pride. His face would light up with pleasure when he heard his wife’s voice as she came to visit. There was a joke for anyone who had time to listen. He would take my arm as he practiced walking and we counted his progress in steps ….10 ….50 ….100…200. He worked on the stairs in the picture. The day came for his discharge home and I had to thank him for the privilege of meeting him.

Do I take my physical and mental abilities for granted?

Do I complain that my thighs are too fat, when my muscles work without pain or effort?

Do I focus too much on my own feelings and complain too much about my job?

Probably yes, but I’m working on it…

*Name and some details changed

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I am excited that my Sandland Brother, who is working in the United Arab Emirates, has started a blog called Adventures in Sandland. He just had a landmark birthday this month, but never fear, he is a youth at heart. He has great photos of his peaceful spot in the middle east.

Sandland and I are shown above on my birthday in 1959! Wow!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Do you need a bike helmet with a rear view mirror??
As a physiotherapist, I am always interested in finding new exercises and routines to share with my patients.

As a woman fighting half a century of the effects of gravity, I personally like a new physical challenge.

This Real Age tip arrived in my mail box this week, and I had to laugh out loud at the images it conjured in my mind. Please, please do not try this unless you are bent on self-destruction. I do know one avid jogger who has told me he runs backwards at times, but I have never seen him in action. Much of my time is spent retraining people to walk forwards.

This exercise is only for the “Young and Reckless”.

Put Your Best Foot Backward
Get more from your walking workout by putting it in reverse. Walking backward burns more calories, improves coordination, and gives your heart and lungs a better workout than hoofing it forward -- as long as you maintain your speed. The reason? It forces your leg muscles to work harder and in different ways. Just do it in a safe place (like the local high school or college track) where you won't bump into something and take a spill.
If you have problems with balance, walking in reverse is not recommended. If you think it sounds like something you'd like to try but you're concerned about falling, buy a lightweight bike helmet with a rearview mirror so you can see where you're going. Or try walking on a treadmill while holding onto the side rails; start slowly until you get the hang of it. Then, just put one foot behind the other. Step for step at the same speed, you'll get bigger benefits going backwards!

Tip References:
The metabolic transition speed between backward walking and running. Terblanche, E., Cloete, W. A., du Plessis, P. A., Sadie, J. N., Strauss, A., Unger, M., European Journal of Applied Physiology 2003 Nov;90(5-6):520-525. Epub 2003 Jul 26.The effect of backward locomotion training on the body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness of young women. Terblanche, E., Page, C., Kroff, J., Venter, R. E., International Journal of Sports Medicine 2005 Apr;26(3):214-219.

How to blog-and keep your job...

I found this article on blogging on the BBC NEWS website this morning.
I read the BBC web page daily. I like their international perspective, and often find the comments in Have Your Say very interesting. Check out their In Pictures section as well.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


One of the pleasures of spring in our temperate climate is rhubarb. I have coaxed three clumps to grow in my garden’s less-than-ideal sandy soil.

My crop was abundant this year and we enjoyed rhubarb custard pie, rhubarb muffins, stewed rhubarb, and rhubarb chutney.

Grandma always said that you should not pick rhubarb after July 1st as it gets tough and dry in hot weather.

Last week we had a lot of rain followed by lots of sunshine, and my rhubarb demanded a late picking. So I am having rhubarb coffeecake with my tea today. Yum!

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Prepare a 9x 13 inch pan for baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farhenheit.
Cream together 1-1/2 cups of sugar (I use half sugar, half Splenda or Whey Low) with ½ cup of butter or margarine. Add one egg.
Sift together 2 cups of flour (I use whole wheat), ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Mix wet and dry ingredients alternately with 1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt. Add 2 cups of diced rhubarb pieces and place batter in pan. If you don't have any rhubarb, you can use peaches or apples or pears, or other fresh fruit.

Topping: ½ cup of brown or white sugar, ½ cup of chopped nuts, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix together and sprinkle over the batter

Bake for 45-50 minutes………………..Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Children of the World

I gave a presentation about Mexico to a group of children at a summer day camp today. The children were between 5 and 12 years old.

When do we first realize how big the world is and that cultures other than our own exist in other places?

In my husband’s 1969 high school year book, it is startling to see that nearly everyone is white and of European descent. There was very little racial diversity in this part of southern Ontario at the time.

Now, the world has come to us.

Our daughters’ high school had scores of flags hanging in the cafeteria, each representing the country of origin of various students in the school. Their year books show a kaleidoscope of colours and cultures.

The older people in this community often have deep-rooted racial prejudices, but more tolerant, inclusive generations are following them.

The children in Mexico, some of whom are my nieces and nephews, are beautiful citizens of the world, no different than the children I talked to in Canada today.

See that you do not look down on one these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10
…whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18:5

Monday, July 17, 2006

Make sure your train of thought has a caboose!

I chuckled when our pastor used this quote at the beginning of his sermon, no doubt to assure us that he would not ramble on past noon. In my mind I pictured people I've met who monologue like an endless train, monopolizing the entire track, and ready to derail on any sharp turn.

Back to my train of thought....

This is an electric train that ran through our city in the early 1900's. It ran a passenger service that connected a number of small communities in the region. The train would stop in front of the hospital where I now work to let visitors, staff and patients on and off. This hospital was opened in 1916 as a TB sanatorium and was well outside the city itself. Patients with TB were treated with fresh air and sunshine on the 15 acre site near the river.

By 1957, modern drug therapy changed the way tuberculosis was treated and the hospital is now a rehabilitation and palliative care centre. It still retains its beautiful and peaceful setting.

Many people have died here and resident ghosts continue to appear to the believers.

Many people leave here stronger and more independent to enjoy life on the outside again.

The railway track still runs in front of the hospital and a freight train passes by each day.

There are no passengers on the line, except in my imagination.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

In his hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. Psalm 95:4

I was in Mexico last month visiting my family. The lower picture shows my brother, El Granjero and I climbing up the side of the Ceboruco Volcano near Tepic, Nayarit. There were several steam vents on this slope of the active volcano. We had driven close to 20 km up the winding mountain road to get to this point. At this altitude, the air was much cooler than at the base town of Jala. We did not see another human being the entire afternoon and there were no sounds of the noisy world we are accustomed to. As we climbed the last 3.5 km towards the crater, the clouds descended on the mountain. We were surrounded with mist and a stillness that was palpable. The top of the mountain was quite flat with a pine forest that reminded me of Canada. The
experience was surreal, especially when the mist obscured our visibility to the point that we could not see the crater. Thankfully, a line of stones had been placed beside the path that led to the crater for it would be very easy to get disoriented and lost up there! This was a great experience and highly recommended for anyone who likes a vigourous hike. Remember your sturdy footwear and a walking stick!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Currently reading…..Christ the Lord Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

If you decide to read this selection, start with the author’s note at the end of the book. Her life journey that led her to write this type of story is as interesting as the novel itself. “Sceptical” would describe my initial feelings as I selected the book off the library shelf, but it has been a very good read indeed. I would not recommend it as a theological thesis, but the historical and emotional descriptions are riveting.
"To help keep your brain young and prevent memory loss, avoid living on autopilot -- doing the same things day after day. If you stretch yourself mentally, you'll actually avoid brain shrinkage. The classic way to do that is to learn something new -- whether it's speaking Spanish or playing the harmonica. Like muscles, your brain grows when it's working beyond its normal routine." YOU: The Owner's Manual. Roizen, M. F., Oz, M. C., New York: HarperCollins, 2005.

So, in an effort to avoid mental decay, here is my first effort at blogging.