Thoughts on turning 69

It seems that every woman has a birthday she dreads; an age that she has trouble accepting. For me, that age was 60. The whole time I was 59, I dreaded turning 60. It was such a big number and sounded so old, but then the day came and nothing really changed. It was just another day, another new beginning, and I’d wasted an entire year worrying about it!

Now, nine more years have passed and tomorrow I turn 69! My 60s have not been easy. They brought three different cancer diagnoses, relationship trauma, the death of both my parents, and now a worldwide pandemic, but through it all, I learned endurance, perseverance, and resilience. I also learned to live one day at a time.

Learning not to count on the future, but to see every day as a gift and a blessing, was a very valuable lesson. When I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer shortly before my 61st birthday, I really didn’t expect that I’d still be alive today. Four years later, I threw myself a “still alive at 65” birthday party and now, just one year short of 70, I’m still here and still going strong!

One thing I know that I won’t be doing when I’m 69 is wasting time worrying about turning 70. Instead, as long as God gives me life, I’m going to be busy living it to the fullest and doing my best to accomplish whatever it is that He is keeping me here to do!

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It’s pumpkin spice time!

 

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I’m always sad to see summer come to an end and this year is no exception. With our long, cold winter just around the corner, fall is bittersweet. Thankfully, it’s also pumpkin spice time! There’s something about a pumpkin spice latte that warms the tummy and the heart. I’ve always said it tastes like hot pumpkin pie in a cup!

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Sadly. when I learned that I was prediabetic and had to start seriously limiting my sugar intake, I had to stop indulging in these fabulous autumn treats. “Don’t drink your sugar,” is the advice given to those of us on the diabetes spectrum. 

There are sugar-free pumpkin spice recipes online that use artificial sweeteners, but I haven’t tried one of those yet. What I have been experimenting with and perfecting lately is a simple pumpkin spice smoothie recipe that I’ll share with you today. It’s not sugar-free, but it’s low-sugar, healthy, and delicious.  

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (for one)

  • 1/2 cup cold canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tbsp artificially sweetened maple syrup substitute
  • 2 tbsp unflavoured protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Put all seven ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!

If sugar and/or fat content are not a concern, you can use whole milk, regular yogurt, and/or maple syrup instead of the low-sugar, low-fat substitutes that I use. 

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I’m still using hubby’s laptop to blog while the WordPress Happiness Engineers do their best to figure out a way to help me. My fingers are gradually getting more accustomed to his keyboard and I’ve figured out a way to transfer photos from my computer to his, but the whole blogging process is slower and less satisfying than usual. I’m not giving up, however. I will persevere until the problem is resolved or I have to buy a new laptop! 

 

Still walking, but not enough!

It’s been two months since I last posted an update on my summer walking challenge. On May 2 of this year, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2. Five months to walk 300 km. Easy peasy! Right?

I got off to a really good start reporting 87.07 km by June 2 and another 63.59 km in the month that followed. Two months into the challenge, I was already half way to my goal. In my third month, I walked another 68.83 km for a total of 219.49 km.

That’s when I slipped off the rails and I’m sad to say that in the past month I walked and/or hiked only 38.41 km! What happened? Well, I could make plenty of excuses. There was time spent with grandchildren. We did go hiking while they were with us, but other than that, I didn’t take time away from them to go for regular walks. We’ve had some rainy days. I do own an umbrella, but it’s easier to stay indoors on those days. And then there’s the fact that I hurt my back again. That one was a pretty good excuse for a few days, but even though it’s still not 100%, I could be going for short walks. In fact, they might even be good for me.

Most of all though, I’ve just been lazy! When it became obvious that I’d be able to reach my goal well ahead of schedule, I slacked off. Now it’s time to get off my butt, lace up those walking shoes, and finish the job! With only 42.1 km left to go and a full month until our anniversary, there’s plenty of time to get this done!

Stop exploiting Holocaust symbols!

I’m going to jump into another Covid controversy. Perhaps I shouldn’t, but sometimes there are things that just need to be said!

For several months, people protesting proposed mandatory “vaccine passports” have been comparing them to symbols that the Nazis forced Jews in occupied Europe to wear and to the numbered tattoos forced upon the prisoners who were abused and murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Last Wednesday, US Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky tweeted, and then appears to have deleted, a black-and-white image of a clenched fist with a number tattooed on the wrist. “If you have to carry a card on you to gain access to a restaurant, venue or event in your own country, that’s no longer a free country,” the meme stated. That tweet echoed comments made in May by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, a conspiracy theorist and QAnon enthusiast, who compared mask mandates to the Holocaust.

One of Massie’s staffers, Andrew Zirkle, took to Twitter the morning after the objectionable tweet appeared to announce his resignation, citing it as his reason for quitting. “I quit. I wanted to let everyone who knows me personally to know that as soon as I got in to work this morning, I resigned my position in the Office of Congressman Thomas Massie because of his tweet comparing the horrors of the Holocaust to vaccine passports.” Now that’s a position I can respect!  

I have since seen the Massie meme reposted on Facebook several times. To put it bluntly, these thoughtless analogies are ignorant and incredibly offensive. They trivialize the deaths of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. I can only imagine how painful it must be for survivors who are still alive today to see people, including elected officials, making flippant comparisons between what we’re experiencing during this pandemic and the unimaginable atrocities that they witnessed or endured.   

What really breaks my heart is when I see Christians posting these things. Though the Bible calls us to unity, to be like-minded, it embarrasses me to be lumped together with those who so casually and thoughtlessly spread such hurtful messages and, while I probably shouldn’t, I feel a need to apologize to my Jewish friends on their behalf!

There’s nothing wrong with respectfully expressing your opinion, just stop exploiting Holocaust symbols to do it. Please, people, be a little more creative and a lot more respectful!

 

At Gram and Grandpa’s house

After more than a year of Covid restrictions, spending time with family was our highest priority for this summer. We’ve been blessed with seven beautiful grandchildren (and one more on the way), so it was a delight to be able to spend the past two weeks enjoying five of them. First, our daughter and her three children spent a weekend with us at Camp Harmattan and then the kids came home with us. The day after they left, we went to Edmonton for a medical appointment and stayed a couple of days with our youngest son’s family. We spent an entire day at Fort Edmonton Park with his two children, and then brought them home for a visit with us.

Our days with the grandkids were filled with afternoons at the beach, fun times on the golf course (driving the golf cart is a highlight), wiener roasts in the backyard, picking raspberries and eating them with ice cream, playing games, and reading stories. We also took both sets of grandchildren to one of our favourite hiking spots, Big Knife Provincial Park. On the way, we stopped at the Diplomat Mine Interpretive Site.

Some enjoyed checking out the enormous machinery…

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Can you find our oldest grandson in the photo?

while others had fun on the smaller equipment!

On both occasions, we enjoyed a picnic lunch before hitting the trail. While most of us hiked, this one did cartwheels!

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The best part of the hike for all five children was climbing around the hoodoo area.

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Now they’ve all gone home. The laundry is done and the beds remade. Gram and Grandpa are getting back into routine, but the house is very quiet and I’m missing the other two more than ever. We haven’t seen them since before Covid and with case numbers increasing in their province and ours, I don’t know when we’ll be able to. 😦

Ferry Point

In the very early 1900s small settlements sprang up across the Canadian prairie, but with the coming of the railroad many that weren’t located close to the new railway lines disappeared or were moved. One of these was Ferry Point, so named because of the ferry service that shuttled settlers back and forth across the Battle River at that location from 1902 until 1907 when a bridge was built. 

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Though it was once home to several businesses including a store, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, a pool hall, and a feed mill, the last major building in the community, the Ferry Point Hall, was moved to the nearby town of Rosalind in 1921. Now, there’s nothing there to mark the spot except a small unserviced campground operated by the Ferry Point Historical Society. 

Though it’s less than an hour from here, I had never heard of Ferry Point until last night when I decided to search for a new place to go kayaking. Upon arriving this morning, we discovered that the campground has an excellent spot for launching a canoe or kayak. 

There are many stretches on the Battle River where a person could do an all day or even overnight paddle, but that requires a lot of planning and a second vehicle, something that we don’t have. Instead, our trips on the river are always in and out, back to our starting point. We usually begin by paddling upstream, saving the easier downstream stretch for the return trip when our arms are getting tired. As we made our way upriver, however, we discovered that it was shallow and very weedy as far as we could see. It was a haven for ducks but just about impossible to paddle! 

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After about 15 minutes of tangling the paddles in the weeds and making very little progress, we decided to turn back and try going downstream instead. Though there were still weedy patches, it was much better and we enjoyed a good outing, stopping along the way for a picnic lunch in the boat, and paddling a total of about 7 km.  

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If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that I’m fascinated by the old decaying buildings that dot the prairie landscape. Though there are none left at Ferry Point, we passed an old house very close to the road a few kilometres to the north on our way to the campground. On the way home, I asked hubby to stop so that I could take a few photos. One end is leaning precariously and it looks like it could come tumbling down at any moment! 

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If walls could talk, I always wonder what stories these old houses would tell. Who climbed those corner stairs? What joys and challenges did their lives hold? 

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Today the old house is home only to the flock of pigeon who, surprised by my sudden appearance, flew from the windows when I came close. I was as startled as they were! 

New Missions: The Next Generation

In 1983, the late George DeTellis, his wife, Jeanne, and their children left the United States for Haiti with nothing more than what they could carry on the plane. They lived in tents pitched under a grove of coconut trees and started a church the first Sunday they were there. Now, 38 years later, New Missions, which also branched into the Dominican Republic in 2000, has over 30 churches as well as elementary schools, high schools, medical clinics, a Bible college, and a professional trade school.

For just $35 a month, child sponsorship through New Missions provides a child with quality education, a daily hot lunch which for some is their primary meal of the day, and medical care. New Missions also provides a number of community development initiatives including clean water, vocational training and local employment, all vital in this poorest part of the western hemisphere.

Khetsia

We started sponsoring Marie Kethsia in 2004 when she was a 10-year-old student in third grade. In a country where only 2% of the children finish high school, she went on to graduate! Knowing that she didn’t want her education to end there, we were able to arrange to provide a scholarship that enabled her to pursue training as a laboratory technician. It was a proud moment for us when she graduated last December. Now a beautiful young woman in her 20s, she has completed her practicums and is actively seeking employment in her chosen field. Though our financial commitment to her has come to an end, we have been Facebook friends for the past few years and will continue to keep in touch.

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Four and a half years ago, when Khetsia was nearing the end of high school, we decided thatRodolson 2019 it was time to begin sponsoring another child. Rodolson, who lives with his family in a different Haitian village, was 7 years old when he joined our New Missions family. Now 11, he has just completed grade 6. We look forward to receiving his letters just as we did Khetsia’s.

Since we are no longer supporting Khetsia, a new era began today when we chose yet another child to sponsor. At 7 years old, Dayanah is just a few weeks older than our youngest grandchild. Isn’t she adorable? She just finished first grade. We’re anxiously waiting for her introductory packet to arrive to learn more about her and her family.

Our relationship with New Missions truly entered a new generation a few months ago, however, when our daughter and her family decided to sponsor a little boy named Wendy!

Wendy

If you are not already sponsoring a child or children through another organization, I strongly urge you to consider New Missions. For little more than $1 a day you can make a huge difference in the life of a child, a family, and a community.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Halfway there!

On May 2nd, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th anniversary on October 2. Some days I really look forward to walking. Others, knowing that I’m going to be reporting my progress here on the blog is the only thing that gets me up and out the door!

This month, I’m a couple of days late posting an update because we’ve been camping without internet for the past few days, but I’m happy to report that by July 1, I’d logged another 63.59 km. That’s over 20 km less than I walked in the first month, but I’ve walked a total of 150.66 km. Two months into my five month challenge I’m already halfway there! At this pace, I should be able to complete my 300 km well ahead of schedule.

Again, most of my walking has been on the streets of town, but we hiked just over 9 km while camping at Big Knife Provincial Park in mid June.

In last month’s update, I mentioned that I needed to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. I tried on several different pairs, but as soon as I put these ones on, I knew I’d found what I was looking for!

It was obvious immediately that these were shoes I’d be able to walk many miles in! They’re very supportive, but incredibly lightweight, and as the name implies, they’re like walking on a cloud! That’s thanks to the flytefoam cushioning in the sole and the soft gel unit in the heel. I also love the fact that at least 20% of the primary material of the shoe’s upper is made with recycled material!

So, even on those days when I don’t really feel like it, I’ll keep on walking and report my progress again next month.

On the river again…

There isn’t going to be a Fashion Friday post today. We spent the last few days camping at Big Knife Provincial Park and when I’m camping, fashion is the furthest thing from my mind! Instead, I’m going to share a couple of kayaking experiences with you.

The weather forecast for Monday called for extreme heat, so after a leisurely breakfast we decided to head for the river before the day got too hot. The sun was shining, the air was almost still, and everything was so fresh and green!

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At this time of year the water is high, so we were able to leave the Battle River for a bit and paddle up the much shallower Big Knife Creek. It was like entering another world; a world of untouched and incredibly peaceful wilderness. Unlike last year, we spotted just one beaver and heard only one mighty tail slap. The rest of the time, the water was like a mirror and the reflections were amazing. 

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Returning to the main river, we continued upstream. On the way, we chose a spot where we’d pull ashore for a picnic lunch on our way back. 

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It was there that we had the most amazing experience. We were just returning to the boat when we heard a loud splash just upstream from us. A moose was swimming across the river and I had the camera in my hand!

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She even stopped on the hillside and posed for me before heading into the bush!

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When we started kayaking four years ago, I could only paddle for about an hour and a half before feeling like my arms were going to fall off. On Monday we paddled for almost four and the GPS told us that we’d travelled 10.5 miles (16.9 km). We were pretty impressed with ourselves, but also glad to be back in camp by the time the temperature rose to 35ºC (95ºF) later in the afternoon! 

Our second kayaking adventure was quite different and I didn’t even think to take any photos. We’d done some hiking on Tuesday and left camp for much of the day on Wednesday to go to Camrose for medical appointments, so we decided that we’d go for a short paddle yesterday morning before packing up and heading for home. There’s a bridge not too far downstream from the campground where Secondary Highway 855 crosses the river, so we decided to kayak there and back. The river widens in that area and when we got out on the water, we realized that the wind was MUCH stronger than it had appeared back in the campground which is quite sheltered. It was at our back, so we had no problem getting to the bridge, but when we turned around we quickly realized that there was no way that we were going to be able to battle our way back to the boat launch. Paddling as hard as we could, we were barely able to move forward. Water was splashing over the bow and I was immediately soaked from the waist down. Thankfully, we knew that there was a small road down to the riverside by the bridge that people use to go fishing, so we found a spot to land the kayak nearby and only had to carry it a short distance to that road. Of course, the vehicle was still at the boat launch and now one of us had to walk back to get it! Since I’m trying to walk lots anyway, I volunteered. Richard waited with the kayak while I walked almost 3.5 km (2.16 miles) back to the vehicle. That’s not a lot farther than I walk most days, but much of it was uphill and that horrendous wind was trying to blow me off my feet; the feet that were wearing only water shoes! That definitely wasn’t a fashion statement, but I can say that I’m very thankful that I don’t kayak barefoot! 

 

Walking challenge update #1

This is just a quick post to update you on the walking challenge that I wrote about in this post on May 2nd. My plan was to walk (or hike) 300 kilometres in the five months leading up to our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2nd. The anniversary actually has nothing to do with the challenge other than giving me a good end date to aim for! I wrote about my plan because knowing that I’ll be reporting my progress on the blog makes me accountable. It gets me off the couch and out the door on days when I really don’t feel like walking! 

So, how have I done so far? In order to meet my goal, I need to walk at least 60 km a month. For my American readers, that’s approximately 37.3 miles. In the past month, walking 6 days a week, I’ve actually covered 87.07 km! 

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Most of my walking so far has been on the streets of our small town, but I also explored some of the Hardisty Nature Trails and this week we’ve been camping at Dillberry Lake Provincial Park where we did a short 2.3 km hike on Monday evening and then hiked 8.93 km on Tuesday. With a small group of friends I also took part in a 5 km fundraising walk for multiple sclerosis on Sunday. Together we raised over $2500! 

One thing that I’ve discovered in the past month is that I need to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. So far, I’ve been wearing old ones that don’t have much life left in them. I do have my trusty Merrell hiking shoes, but I don’t want to wear them out walking the streets of town. I could also use the ASICS running shoes that I bought last year specifically for the treadmill, but I want to save them for indoor use. Hopefully by the time I update again a month from now, I’ll be able to show you some new shoes as well as reporting another 60 km or more.