Words of Wisdom

photo of woman looking at the mirror

Listening to the radio recently, I was reminded of some words of wisdom my mother shared with me years ago.

iHeartRadio’s Brooke and Jeffrey in the morning show were in the middle of a second date episode.  The pretext is this: if you go on a first date with someone and they ghost you (don’t contact you or return your calls, texts, messages etc), you contact the radio show to enlist their help to find out why. The funny part is that the ghostee is on the line listening to the ghoster’s reasons for their behaviour without the latter’s knowledge. After the dirty laundry is aired, both parties are then asked if they would be willing to go on a second date, at the expense of the radio station.

The young lady in this specific episode was (in my opinion) pretty high on herself…because (in her opinion) she’s really good-looking. When she only received a text from the ghostee within the next 24hrs, she moved on to the list of other guys she “swiped.”

You might think I’m wandering off-topic here, (I do that sometimes) but bear with me this time. I will get back to the words of wisdom from my mother.

Looks will get you the  First 5 Minutes

And after that, you’re on your own.

I heard these words of wisdom many times whenever I was primping (yes, I too was a vain teenager) in front of a mirror in preparation for an evening out.

What old-fashioned words of wisdom do you remember hearing that may not be so common today?

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Osteoarthritis, a Pain in the Hip

osteoarthritis

Is osteoarthritis ruining your life? It is mine, and I am not happy. For years it represented a minor annoyance when my right hip would click or hurt occasionally and for just a nanosecond. Recently though, the condition took a turn for the worse.

Osteoarthritis Flare-up

During Canada celebrations, I was standing around lots watching some of my grandchildren enjoy the fair-like rides. For some reason, my arthritic hip does not appreciate standing around. Within a span of an hour or so, my osteoarthritis went from a twinge once in a while to 8 out of 10 painful.

I can walk for miles, at least I could, prior to this flare-up. My hip also currently doesn’t like stairs or pivoting. Or cold. It never did like cold but today the freezer section of the grocery store made it throb.

Gardening Dilemma

I had already decided to reduce my gardening hours but now I might have to give it up completely! I hope not, will have to wait to see if the pain continues or subsides to its previous, manageable level. It has been a full week already since the flare-up occurred. Just when I think I am feeling better, it acts up again.

I realize too, that if you don’t use it you lose it. Perhaps my hip is bothering me more because I am not gardening (stretching, bending, squatting etc) enough. We (hubby and I) have also not been taking our evening, hour-long walks around the neighbourhood. We have been working at the cottage though, so that should account for something, shouldn’t it? Although, I am more of the gopher and consultant and he is the worker bee in those projects. So more standing around for me and less for him.

Treating the Osteoarthritis

Honestly, I have been taking it easy since the flare-up. In fact, I have read three books in the past week. I know that rest is the best way to alleviate the pain; I’m just not used to being sedentary. And, it scares me of what is to come.

Pain medication is not a great option for me as I react to most of them. I have been trying several herbal remedies instead but most of them take a while to take effect.

Anyone I know that has had hip replacement surgery for their osteoarthritis says they wished they had done it sooner. My problem is that my doctor retired recently and I have been unable to find a new one. I have x-rays from a year ago showing that my right hip shows moderate osteoarthritic changes. Also an issue is the waiting list for arthroscopic or hip replacement surgery here in Canada.

Arthroscopic Surgery

This would be the best option in my opinion but I’m not sure I am eligible. They can insert a tiny camera and instruments through a few minuscule holes to repair cartilage or bone malformations. This procedure can be performed in a few hours with much less downtime (as little as two days) than the alternative.

Unfortunately, hips already in the process of osteoarthritis (like mine) do not benefit from arthroscopic surgery.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement is much more complicated and invasive. The femoral head (the part of the joint that is supposed to be round but gets flattened/misshapen with osteoarthritis) and damaged cartilage are removed and replaced with a prosthetic (fake) joint. Doctor Domenic Carreira says these patients require a hospital stay (a few days) and the use of a walker or cane for up to four weeks after surgery.

osteoarthritis

I think I would be a great candidate according to my age, weight, activity level, lifestyle, and medical condition:

The results of total hip replacement vary depending on the individual’s age, weight, activity level, lifestyle, and medical conditions. Typically a hip replacement results in less pain and better hip function. The implants used in hip replacement do have a limited life expectancy. A joint implant’s longevity will vary in every patient, but they typically last about 20 years.

Dr. Domenic Carreira

I would love to hear from anyone that has gone through either process, especially the hip replacement surgery. Also, if anyone has any tips on how to get a doctor and on the waiting list, I would appreciate the advice!

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Indian Spices: Turmeric, Curcumin, Cumin, and Curry Powder

Indian spices

If you, like me, are confused about the difference between the Indian spices such as turmeric, curcumin, cumin, and curry powder, this post should help…

Turmeric

Let’s start with turmeric.  Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a plant in the ginger family, native to southeast Asia and India.  It has a bitter but warm taste and is often used to color and flavor butters, cheeses, mustards, and curry powders.  Although the leaves are used to wrap and cook food in areas where it is grown, it is the rhizomes of the turmeric plant that are ground into a powder used around the world to color and flavor food.

The root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine to treat conditions such as heartburn, gallbladder disorders, diabetes, arthritis, stomach pain, headaches, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease, lung infections, menstrual problems, depression, water retention, bronchitis, kidney infections, colds, fibromyalgia, skin inflammations, as well as both fungal and bacterial infections.  Current research is hoping to prove that turmeric is also effective against cancer.

Personally, to take advantage of the amazing health benefits, I use turmeric in my custom smoothies every morning.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the main component of turmeric rhizomes that imparts the typical bright yellow color.  It stains everything it touches, so be warned! That’s about the only downside of this wonderful, healthy spice though.

Cumin

Cumin is the dried seeds of a herb in the parsley family, mainly grown in India as well as other tropical and subtropical, frost-free areas around the world.  The seeds are used ground or whole as a spice to give flavor and aroma to food. I add ground cumin to soups, stews, stir-frys, and more. Once you learn and appreciate the unique taste, you can use your imagination to decide where it should be added.

Indian spices

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a spice blend containing primarily turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper.  A similar blend of spices is called garam masala in south Asia.  Some commercial blends of curry powder also contain ginger, garlic, fennel seed, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, and or cinnamon.

Curry powder is very convenient as it contains most of the other Indian spices mentioned in one bottle. I add it to soups, stews, sauces, etc, even devilled eggs! Once again, use your imagination to add this unique flavour to just about anything.

Indian spices

Well, I learned the difference between these Indian spices (turmeric, curcumin, cumin, and curry powder) while researching this post.  I hope it was helpful.  Try some of these spices soon to add flavor and color to your cooking while preventing or treating many health issues at the same time.

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Storm Recovery

Six weeks later, there is still storm recovery activity ongoing in my neighbourhood. It is simply amazing, beyond words, how much damage the derecho caused in our region of Ontario. Everywhere you look there are uprooted or broken trees. A few days after the storm our two-year-old grandson walked through our neighorhood pointing out all the “broken trees.” After the first few, the novelty wore off. Obviously, he did not recognize the fact that this was not normal.

Hazeldean Woods, Post Storm

Hazeldean Woods is a portion of NCC (National Capital Commission) property we are fortunate to live near. We frequent this beautiful, wooded, parkland setting lots, especially with our grandchildren. On our first post-storm visit we were devastated by the damage; all four of the extensive trails were impassible….

Storm Recovery Efforts

We have been back there a few times since the storm. Each time we are able to navigate through more of the trails. Today’s trip was almost unrecognizable due to the recovery efforts, AKA lack of trees. I couldn’t stop snapping pictures, shocked at the changes. Although it is great the work is being done, (I did not expect it to happen this soon due to the low priority of the area) the changes made it almost surreal. The trails are now passable, but lots of work still needs to be done. Trees scheduled for future removal are all marked with a big red X. Others have been cut down, with logs neatly stacked.

Mother Nature’s Plan

When so many old trees are destroyed and removed, is this Mother Nature’s plan for renewal? The amount of sunlight currently pouring into my neighbourhood woodland trails makes me wonder if new trees will soon be growing in their ancestor’s former homes.

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Expiry Date, Can we Predict Our Own?

expiry date

On what would have been my mother’s ninety-third birthday, I am pondering whether or not we can predict our own expiry date. Sounds morbid, I know, but this thought has crossed my mind many times since my mom passed away suddenly and much too early at the age of sixty-five.

How Much Does Genetics Count for our Expiry Date?

As mentioned, my mother died at the age of sixty-five. My father was seventy-eight although I believe he would have lived longer if my mother had. He was devastated upon her early demise and never really recovered. His broken heart gave out twelve years later.

So, is my own expiry date closer to sixty-five or seventy-eight, or somewhere in between? I realize there are many other factors involved, but I admit these thoughts have affected many choices I have made recently as I approach the dreaded sixty-five year marker.

Is Sixty the new Forty?

I certainly hope so. I think I am healthier and fitter than my parents were in their sixties. If this holds true, maybe my expiry date will be extended for good health. Although each decade seems to bring its own health issues, mine have been relatively minor, especially since I have the wheat thing figured out.

Early Retirement

One of the decisions made due to a potential early expiry date was to retire early, at the age of fifty-two. Well sort of. I accepted a severance package to leave my position within a hospital laboratory at that age but started a landscaping business the very next day. That was ten years ago already. Time does indeed fly when you’re having fun! This season I have cut back on my gardening services to spend more time with my recently retired husband.

Retirement Plans

With both of us retired, we are hoping to kickstart the cottage renovations we have been considering for several years now. Unfortunately, these renovation plans always seem to find a way to get postponed, with one delay after another. The latest delay was due to the recent storm and the ensuing and extensive cleanup here in Ontario.

Travel, something many of us have missed over the past few years during the pandemic, is also in our retirement plans. We may need more months and years to fit all the plans in.

Enjoying the Fruits of our Labour

Thinking about expiry dates only increases the urgency to accomplish items on our to-do list, including renovations. After all, it is important to enjoy the fruits of our labour!

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Dementia: Can You Prevent it?

dementia

As I get older, every time I forget something I wonder if dementia is imminent. Forgetfulness is common as we age, but just how forgetful is normal, and what level is more worrisome? We all joke about having “senior moments” but when do the jokes become reality?

What is Dementia

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes dementia as the following:

Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal aging

CDC

Excess Protein in the Brain

Research is showing that excess protein causes a toxic, plaque-like buildup in the brain that kills off brain cells. Known medically as proteinopathies, the group of diseases that exhibit this protein accumulation includes the several forms of dementia.

Normal Aging

CDC assures that these age-related changes in our memory are perfectly normal:

  • Occasionally misplacing items
  • Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
  • Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
  • Forgetting the most recent events

This list also includes going upstairs for something, then forgetting why you went upstairs. Phew, I bet that’s a pretty common occurrence for many of us within my generation.

Worrisome Symptoms

As well as problems with memory, dementia symptoms include issues with communication, attention, problem-solving or judgment, and behavior or personality changes.

For example, if you get lost in a familiar neighbourhood, forget the name of a close friend or family member, find yourself unable to complete familiar tasks, organize or plan, notice decreased coordination, or start using inappropriate/wrong words in a conversation, you should seek medical help.

Warding off Dementia

Any activity that exercises your brain helps to keep dementia at bay. Referred to as cognitive engagement, this includes reading, puzzles, word games (like Wordle), and more.

Physical exercise also helps as it forces more oxygen into your brain. Low or inadequate levels of oxygen, medically called hypoxia, is defined by the National Library of Medicine (NLH) as:

Hypoxia, a condition where oxygen supply to tissue is inadequate, induces free radical generation leading to oxidative protein modifications and tissue damage [2427]. Oxygen supply also acts as a modulator of aging processes [28]. The cerebrovascular disorders and hypoxia-ischemia injuries in the brain are projected as a primary cause of protein pathologies that leads to cognitive impairment and dementia [2930]. In short, hypoxia-ischemia injury in the brain persuades DPMs that can lead to aging, age-associated diseases, and neurodegeneration.

NIH

Social interaction has also been shown to reduce the risk of dementia and slow down its progression if it does happen. Maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure helps lower the risk of dementia as does avoiding/quitting smoking. Avoiding or reducing saturated fats, salt, and sugar is key to a healthy diet, which in turn helps maintain that healthy weight.

Do your part to reduce your risk!

photo credit: pexels-photo-8172897

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Derecho Aftermath

Derecho

Ten days later, residents of Ontario and Quebec are still dealing with the aftermath of the derecho that hit here recently. Originally no one knew what to call it; however experts soon weighed in to label it a derecho. Google says that’s pronounced dr·ay·chow.

What is a Derecho?

The dictionary describes the phenomena as follows:

a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that moves across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds.

Oxford Dictionary

My brother, currently living the good life in Mexico, pointed out that derecho means “straightforward” in Spanish. Both descriptions make sense as the distinct path spread across Ontario and Quebec from the Toronto region heading northeast, wreaking havoc on its way. Winds were clocked at up to 132 km (82 miles) per hour.

I am still shaking my head in awe at the fact that plastic chairs on our cottage deck were untouched while three trees crashed to the ground all around the same deck. Unbelievable! Big Bird didn’t even bat an eyelash, while we were hiding out in the basement in shock.

Dealing with the Aftermath

Downed hydro wires, poles, and transmission towers as well as magnificent, mature trees ripped out by their roots or split in two (or more) are still being repaired and cleaned up. We have now reached the first day of June on the calendar. Many people just regained their electricity within the past few days while others, including our cottage, are still out. Over 900,000 homes were without power at some point. We have been keeping an eye on the (very convenient) Hydro One Storm Centre site for updates in the rural areas of Ontario so we know when to head back to the cottage to begin the massive cleanup.

One of the advantages of our (Ottawa) suburb of Kanata is that most hydro wires are buried underground. So, while we lost lots of trees, the streets and neighbourhoods within the heart of Ottawa were strewn with hydro wires, poles (last count is 200), and transmission towers.

Insurance Coverage

The Insurance Bureau of Canada advises those policyholders affected to be sure to:

document storm damage to their homes, belongings and automobiles using video and pictures. It has also prescribed that policyholders should keep the receipts if they are having a crew help with the cleanup or remediation of their properties.

IBC

In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Ten victims of the storm paid the ultimate price with their lives when they were unable to get out of the way of falling trees. Many of us were warned to take cover from severe thunderstorms just before the derecho hit. That was helpful if you were close to your cell phone or TV and close enough to a shelter from the storm.

Sadly, not everyone was. My heart aches for the victims as well as their families and friends.

Our cleanup pales in comparison. For that fact I am grateful!

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Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers

When designing summer, autumn, or winter containers be sure to follow the thrillers, fillers, and spillers rule for maximum effect. The “thriller” is the center, tallest plant. The spillers go around the perimeter of the pot; choose ones that sprawl “spill” over the edges. The fillers go in between the thrillers and the spillers to fill in the bare spots.

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Annuals or Perennials?

Most people choose annuals over perennials for their summer containers. That’s because annuals bloom all summer until frost kills them off. Perennials, on the other hand, bloom for two weeks on average, if you’re lucky. You can use a combination of both for your thrillers, fillers, and spillers. For example, perennial ornamental grasses make an awesome, inexpensive (dig a clump up from your garden) “thriller” (center) for containers.

Sun or Shade?

When designing your container, be sure to take its intended location into consideration. Some plants (both annuals and perennials) like full sun, others full shade, with others somewhere in between. Don’t try to combine these different requirements in the same container. If you do, some will thrive, and others will fizzle.

You can probably tell from these pictures that coleus and hibiscus are my favourite annuals for shade and sun containers respectively….

Fertilizer

Containers of annuals can be fertilized weekly right up until frost. This practice will keep the annuals looking cheerful as long as possible. Perennials need less fertilizer, especially those in garden beds when monthly is ideal up until August (in zone 4/5).

Deadheading and Pinching

Deadheading, or removing spent blossoms, helps to keep your containers looking nice all season. For annuals and perennials with flowers on stalks, remove the stalk right back to the first set of leaves after the flower has passed its peak. This practice often encourages repeat blooming. Others just need the faded flowers picked off.

Pinching the center of annuals and perennials encourages them to get bushier instead of leggy.

Frost Warnings

While annuals will be affected by frost, most perennials will not. Some annuals tolerate a light frost, others not so much. Of course, the first frost date varies across the globe, sometimes year to year within the same area.

In other words, frost is unpredictable.

Perennials can overwinter in your containers if you choose plants two zones hardier than what is normally hardy in your area. Otherwise, you can stick them in the ground to overwinter, to use again the following spring.

You can extend the season on both ends by heeding frost warnings in your weather forecast. In the spring I tend to start my containers early to ensure I get the annuals I want. If a frost warning is issued, I move the containers into my garage, off the (cold) cement floor, for the night in question. The same technique can be used in the fall when a sporadic early frost is in the forecast.

Once frost has set in for several days, you are fighting a lost cause. It’s then time to switch your concentration to fall or winter containers. Use the same thrillers, fillers, and spillers technique to create unique designs…

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Leashes for Cats, Should they be Mandatory?

leashes for cats

I vote yes, leashes for cats should be mandatory. Why are dogs not permitted to roam at will through neighbourhoods but cats are?

Last night we came home from a stressful day at the cottage spent cleaning up our property from the storm damage. We also spied a black cat prowling around at the side of our house. It took off when my husband chased it away. Why did he chase it away? Because last year he watched the same black cat kill a baby bunny in our (private) backyard. This morning, we discovered a dead chipmunk on our back deck. Coincidence? I think not! We’ve seen a few baby bunnies in our yard recently, so we’re hoping the cat did not get them too.

As you can probably tell, it annoys me to no end when I see cats in my yard. I believe it is irresponsible of cat owners to let their cats roam indiscriminately. Our backyard is an oasis for birds, rabbits, chipmunks and the like, so cats are not welcome. Our backyard, our choice, right?

I have a good reason for this opinion, besides the fact that cats prey on small animals just to torment and kill them for their amusement. I am not amused.

Cats and Toxoplasmosis

Years ago I suffered three stillbirths. We were told the most likely cause was toxoplasmosis contracted from cat feces. Well, we have never owned a cat. But, several cats used our front garden as a litter box back then as it was hot and dry, sandy soil. When we first moved into our home, this south-facing garden was newly planted, so cats could access the soil easily. We’ve since covered that area with a veranda and moved the garden out from the overhang of the house so it gets more moisture.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). It is one of the most common parasitic diseases and infects nearly all warm-blooded animals, including pets and humans. Although cats are a necessary part of the life cycle of T. gondii, the parasite rarely causes clinical disease in them. While T. gondii seldomly causes significant symptoms in healthy adults either (see below for exceptions), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently identified toxoplasmosis as one of five neglected parasitic infections of people due to its high prevalence. 

Cornell Feline Health Center

Toxoplasmosis is a common infection that is usually harmless. But if you get toxoplasmosis for the first time while you’re pregnant, or a few months before you conceive, there’s a small risk the infection could cause:

miscarriage

stillbirth

birth defects or problems after the baby is born – this is very rare

NHS

Outdoor Cats

I belong to a neighbourhood Facebook group where posts often discuss missing or found cats. There also seems to be a large presence of “lost cat” signs pasted on any flat surface on our streets. Am I the only one that finds it hard to believe people let their cats wander around the neighbourhood, especially with the steady increase of coyote and fisher sightings in our neighbourhood? Perhaps if cat owners didn’t let their cats roam, these wild animals would stick to the wooded areas. Instead, they are enticed by a buffet-like selection of victims.

Leashes for Cats

Are leashes the answer? They certainly would be a start. If you want your cat to walk through the neighbourhood, take it for a walk on a leash. Just like the dog owners do.

And, while you’re at it, take along a bag to scoop up their poop.

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Storm Hits Ontario, Hard but Selectively

storm

Parts of Ontario were hit hard by a violent storm yesterday. Depending on where you live or happened to be at the time, you may or may not have experienced incredible damage. Most of the damage was to trees, some completely uprooted while others literally split in half. I was one of the (un)lucky ones to have the storm visit both of my properties. The first map shows you the extensive power outages in the Ottawa area. The second one shows you those affected in Ontario:

Cottage Property Damage

We were working outdoors at our cottage when the storm hit. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the tornado that destroyed neighbourhoods in Ontario back in September 2018, came close to our cottage property too. I thought I had posted about that story, but apparently not. I’m sure many of you heard the details though and have stories of your own. In short, two sons and a friend just finished installing a new roof on our cottage and were heading home when one son called to tell us of all the trees down and power outages on their way home to Ottawa. We had no damage to our property.

Yesterday’s (? tornado, the verdict is still out) storm hit closer this time. Hubby and I were working on outdoor renovations when the skies got dark and the wind picked up. That was the only warning we had. Others have said they heard warnings on TV and on their phones. As mentioned, we were outside with neither technological device handy. Just like last time.

This picture was taken by my daughter-in-law who was visiting her sister in Carleton Place. They were hit there about 20 minutes after we were hit in Ompah. The storm was cutting a swath from southwest to northeast Ontario, at least according to my contacts. From the map above it appears to have hit further north and west as well.

We quickly stashed our tools in the garage and headed indoors to watch the approaching storm from (relative) safety. I watched in disbelief as the first tree split and crashed thirty feet in front of me, then a second snapped like a twig landing on our paddle boat that was leaning against the tree. That’s when we ran for cover in our basement. These fallen trees were tall, healthy, mature evergreens (pine), part of the skyline I love so much on our property. They now lie across our lawn, between our cottage and the lake…this could take weeks to clean up….so much for renovations……again.

Many of our neighbours were not so lucky. Right next door, three massive evergreens were uprooted, two falling on their roof and one hitting the (old, unused) antennae on our roof. If not for the antennae it would have hit our roof. The good news is since these trees were uprooted, they fell slowly, so there is no damage to the roof.

Many of our other trees remain intact and unharmed, thankfully. Walking around after the storm subsided we could see an incredible number of downed trees and wind-blown furniture. What I found amazing was the sporadicness (?word) of the storm. We have a row of plastic, kid-sized lawn chairs on our deck, a few feet from the downed trees. The deck was littered with leaves but the chairs were unscathed, not even moved an inch!

Kanata (Ottawa) area Damage

Shortly after the message from my DIL in Carleton Place, I received pictures and messages from a neighbour in Kanata. I could follow the sporadic yet destructive path of the storm from my contacts. It was eery how some trees were demolished while others missed completely. Some areas (just) received heavy winds with patio furniture rearranged, but undamaged.

The trees on our street (Katimavik area of Kanata) were hit hard, at least those on the south side of the street. We live on the (north) lucky side, let with just a few small branches littering our lawn.

Upon return home, we walked around our neighbourhood gawking at all the damage. This is a video posted today.

Ontario Hydro and Hydro One

Both hydro companies are working overtime this weekend, trying to restore downed power lines and outages across the region. Reports of downed lines, towers and power outages are rampant on social media and news stations. These pictures are from Ontario Hydro:

Tree Removal

Tree removal services are also in great demand this weekend. Davey tree services were on our street shortly after the storm, working well after dark, then back again this morning.

Update

As time goes on, we have several updates. Environment Canada now calling the storm a derecho! Huh, a new word in my vocabulary. Here’s another one… atterradora is Spanish for scary! I’ve never heard of a derecho, but I’ve survived one! My Mexico-residing brother tells me derecho is Spanish for “straight-ahead” ………..interesting!

I hope you were one of the lucky ones that could watch the storm on the news, from a safe distance.

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