Thursday, November 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Habitat for Humanity

I first wrote this post in November of 2010, after my spouse and I visited the Habitat for Humanity headquarters. Today, as we in the United States give thanks for what we have, it is well that we think of those who don't share in our bounty.

Today is day 26 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Habitat for Humanity: Happy Thanksgiving

Today, of course, is the American Thanksgiving.  On this day of giving thanks we should pause.  Those of us who are fortunate enough to have jobs and family, and a warm home should take the time to think of those who don't.  I wrote this post for Thanksgiving of 2010, and I feel it is still timely.

In our March, 2010 trip to Americus, Georgia, we visited Habitat for Humanity headquarters.   This worthy organization is well known for its support of decent, affordable housing both in this country and overseas.

Besides the headquarters, on the grounds is what could be best described as (with no disrespect meant) a "slum theme park".

The first two pictures are recreations of representative "before" pictures.  The final picture shows Habitat for Humanity housing solutions.  All solutions are sensitive to native cultural requirements.  For example, where a culture would encourage a family to live in one common room, that is what Habitat will build for them.

 Clustered around some of the "after" examples were people visiting from other countries, examining the exhibits closely.
Our local chapter of Habitat for Humanity once posted examples of the work they have done in our community. (One of their homes, in our neighborhood, was flooded and, I presumed destroyed- in our September 2011 floods - a sad footnote to this post.  And, I can't help but think of all the people impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and other weather disasters, since.)

A long way from a small town in Georgia to the Triple Cities.  But in a way, we are all interconnected, are we?

We in this country have so much to give thanks for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fall Fancies - Post 2200

Yes, this is the two thousand two hundredth post on my blog.  I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate this milestone.  I could not have done it without my readers, so, if you are reading this, thank you!

Tomorrow, it is Thanksgiving in the United States.  One of our traditions is to eat a bird called the turkey.  The turkey I am about to describe may or may not be the bird my foreign readers call "turkey" but bear with me.

Meleagris gallopavo, or the domestic turkey, originated in North America and has been domesticated into a number of varieties. When I was growing up in the 1950's and 1960's, it was eaten primarily at Thanksgiving. 

But the wild turkeys, more and more, hang around suburban backyards.  My mother in law, when she lived in a New York City suburb, would commonly see them in her back yard.

Today, I feature pictures taken by my guest photographer while visiting a relative in Massachusetts.  In keeping with Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for this woman being in my life.  The amount of support and friendship she has given me is more than I have given her back, and she isn't a bad photographer, either.  No, wait.  She's good.  She's really good!
Her relative feeds these turkeys, and if they are not fed by noontime they will rap on her patio window.  The domestic versions are usually all white (although there are colored domestic versions).  Isn't that glossy bronze color majestic?

Years ago, when we lived in rural Arkansas, my spouse and I raised Bronze turkeys, which look very much like their wild cousins.  The taste - Turkey ++++.
Here, a turkey peers through the window of a storm door.  "Hey, dinnertime" the turkey says.

And finally, they are about to be fed.

Tomorrow, their domestic cousins will feed us.

And if turkey isn't enough, how about some cranberry sauce?  Here I feature my recipe for cranberry sauce - so easy to make.

Without it, turkey just isn't complete.

If you celebrate the American Thanksgiving Day, what are some of your favorite foods?

This is day 25 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why Should I Be Grateful?

I usually try to make my posts positive, even if I am not thinking that way.  Sometimes I can talk myself into feeling positive.  Today, I am having trouble.

This Sunday I blogged "This week, I plan a week of gratefulness posts.  I can be thankful for many things this week, including family and good health.".

My mother in law is getting out of a rehab facility today.  She is in her upper 80's.  In the United States, a person (especially the elderly) may be put in an inpatient rehabilitation center after a hospitalization if they need intensive therapy and monitoring to return to a normal functioning.  In my mother in law's case, she was hospitalized for nearly a week and was in the rehab facility for over a month.

When I would visit her, I had to walk down a long corridor.  The doors of each room are open to the view of anyone who walks by.  I tried to avert your eyes but it is hard.  I saw room after room with a senior sitting in a chair, if they weren't in therapy.

I thought of these people - once young, limber, hard working, vital, perhaps athletic, loving, creative.

What happened?

Strokes, falls, broken bones, cancer, you name it.

As I write this, someone I know in her 80's is in comfort care.  She fell in February and hit her head.  It's been a horrible journey - hospitalization, acute care, a nursing home.  Now, there is nothing more they can do for her.  Watching what has happened to her has been a painful process for her family.  I can not imagine the sufferings this woman experienced as her condition deteriorated.

I think of friends and acquaintances who have passed on.  Several from cancer.  One from a liver disorder.  A couple from heart attacks. They ranged in age from 13 to 63.   I could say that aging is a privilege, but, today, I don't feel that way.

Why do these things happen?  I've never been a questioning person or a spiritual person.  This is changing.

I try to appreciate the world around me in this, my 62nd year.  I express gratefulness when I wake up every morning.  I enjoy the sunrise and the sunset.  But then I think of those (mostly women) in the rehab facility.  Will I be there one day? 

I look at my changing body, the wrinkles, the deterioration of balance, the senior moments.  We like to make light of them, because sometimes they aren't funny.

And then I worry about my mother in law. 

We will see what happens when my mother in law gets out today. The staff of the rehab has worked hard with her, and she has worked hard in turn.  But will the hard work continue once home?  Or will she return to her lifting chair and her favorite TV channel?

Is there, in the end, such a thing as aging with grace?

Can I condemn someone for giving up when I have never been through what they have been through?  But, as one of her caregivers, it frustrates me because I can see what will happen if she doesn't change her ways.  She's been given this chance.  Will she take it?

I don't know if she will.

Will this be my fate one day?   I am grateful that we aren't given that knowledge, usually, until towards the end of our lives.

How do you feel about your aging?

This is day 24 of NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Music Monday - Alice's Restaurant Massacree

For many people of my age in the United States, Thanksgiving music consists of one classic, over 18 minute epic story - Alice's Restaurant, by Arlo Guthrie.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1965, Arlo Guthrie, the son of noted folk singer Woodie Guthrie, visited a friend and her husband in Massachusetts .  They needed to have their garbage taken out but the dump was closed.  What happened after that is told in a way that is - well, classic and also hysterical.

For years, we listened to this on the way down to seeing my in laws for Thanksgiving (an almost three hour drive).  Public radio still plays this every Thanksgiving.

In a way it's dated.  But in a way, it's not.  Is Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton dated?  Listen and decide for yourself.

If you have 18 minutes to spare, I invite you to listen, to get a little taste of folk America.

Today is day 23 of NaBloPoMo.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grateful for the Beauty of the Natural World

This week, I plan a week of gratefulness posts.  I can be thankful for many things this week, including family and good health.

The American Thanksgiving holiday is this Thursday.  On a news program called "Sunday Morning", a lot of the show was devoted to art and food.

It made me think about how beautiful our natural world is, and all the ways people find to appreciate it.

The show featured an artist who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who paints with coffee and tea.

I invite you to explore his art and how he gets the colors he needs from coffee and teas from all over the world. Some of the paintings have an international vibe; others feature drinking of - what else, coffee and tea.

Some of his art is public, on the grounds of Duquesne University.

But art isn't just man made.

Outside my home in upstate New York, a couple of flowers are still blooming.  This has to be some kind of record and is so appreciated in an area just days from our first snowfall. (Michigan?  Colorado?  Thank you for bearing the brunt of winter so far).

White alyssum.  Soon to be a distant memory, but taking in some of the last rays of sun before winter weather hits.  Thank you to those who invented the iPhone camera.

Purple alyssum (which came out a bit blurry) right next to it.

I can also be grateful to the blogging community and I want to share some posts on art.

First, a Canadian blogger, Laurel at Alphabet Salad, who has been sharing her adventures with various type of art - zentangles, photography, and what she is learning in drawing class.

Second, a Nebraskan blogger, Amy, who shares her love of drawing.

And finally, all the bloggers who have blogged about adult coloring books.

So many of these things I have blogged about are visual, and I also think of a man I used to work with, who lost his sight, but not his love of music.  He is a drummer, and plays in a local band.

How do you appreciate the beauty of the world?

This is Day 22 of NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Local Saturday - Drain Flies and Sunsets


How could something I had never heard of until today be causing me so much trouble?

Every summer we have an infestation of fruit flies.  Due to our mild October and November weather, they seem to be hanging on longer than usual.  Normally, by this time of year, they are a memory.

But although some of them were acting like normal fruit flies, others weren't.

Yesterday and today, I entered my bathroom to use the sink and found, to my amazement (other emotions were in play, too) little flies hanging around the drain.  And in my kitchen, the same thing.

Tens of them.  Daring me to brush my teeth and take my morning pill.

Still later later, I had something that looked like a really small moth alight on me.  I looked at it closely. 

Then I went online.

One search later, I knew what my problem was - drain flies.

This is my first experience with them, and if I can figure out how to fight them, I'll let you know.  We went to the local hardware store and their solutions were a bit on the toxic side.

But then, this evening, Nature decided to mess with me some more.

I looked up from my blogging and saw a beautiful sky.  I ran outside just in time to take a couple of pictures from my back porchlet (too small to be called a porch), with the sun reflecting from a creek behind my house.

OK, Nature, I'm not (that) angry at you right now.  The sunset apology is accepted.  But tomorrow, as far as the drain flies, it is war.

Have any of you, my valued readers, had experience with drain flies?

Day 21 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Falling Friday - Were These boots Made for Walking?

Shoes.  Fashion.  They make you feel good.  They decorate you.  They give you confidence.
Nice boots
But the ones you think are the safest can cause falls.

My mother in law learned this the hard way on Saturday.  I haven't been blogging much about the care giving portion of my life but it has been an interesting last month or so.  My mother in law was hospitalized in October for what turned out to be pneumonia and a small blood clot - and then has been in rehab for all of November.

Saturday, she fell in the hallway of the facility.

She said her shoes caught on the carpet.  She fell backwards.  Fortunately, at the ER, everything checked out.  Thankfully.  This time.

My mother in law is right - the wrong shoes can cause falls.

At the falls prevention class I attended from May to July of this year, they gave examples of shoes the elderly should not wear, and invited us to bring shoes in that we weren't sure of. 

What kind of shoes did not pass muster?

House shoes.  Shoes with smooth plastic or leather soles.  Worn out shoes. Shoes that don't give support (I had a fun time shopping for boots for her yesterday - some have absolutely no support whatsoever).  Slip on shoes (they are less adjustable than shoes with laces).

Here is some more advice on shoes that may help the elderly.

Now that I will be partially responsible for my mother in law's shoe shopping (along with other family members) I will need to take this advice to heart. 

My mother in law needs a pair of boots for the winter.  Sitting in rehab, she picked out a pair of boots she wanted from a footwear catalog - nice looking with 1 1/2 inch heels. Boots are important where we live in upstate New York, on the edge of the snowbelt.  We easily have 80 inches (2.03 meters) or more of snow in a winter.

But the description, unlike some other boots in the catalog, did not describe the soles as having "traction".  So I picked out, from a local store, the boots I took a picture of, above.  You can't see it, but they have good support and also good treads on the soles.

But now I'm not so sure.  My mother in law enjoys wearing nice clothes.  I don't want to deprive her of that.  But I don't want her to fall again, either.  My spouse will take them to her today and have her try them on.  We'll go from there.

Do you have any experiences of buying shoes for seniors to share?

Today is day 20 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.