Gathering the straws of life together

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Time to preserve – mangoes

Time to preserve – mangoes

This week it was time to preserve that beautiful tropical fruit, mango! My O&O and I were out shopping, and we came across a tray of beautiful R2E2 mangoes – 11 for $15. It was definitely time to preserve and for me to use my […]

Kale and vitamin K

Kale and vitamin K

Could kale be the new wonder veggie? It is something we have in our fridge, almost every week. I was buying it at the markets a few weeks ago and as I stood in the line waiting to pay for our fruit and veggies a […]

Thyme in the garden

Thyme in the garden

Our thyme in our garden is doing very well. It is also a good “time” of the year to get out into the garden and do some of those gardening jobs before the weather gets too hot.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I had planted seeds in cardboard toilet roll tubes. I found it a fiddle to get the soil into the tube. The easier part is planting out the seedlings. All it takes is to dig a hole and drop in the seedling as they are secure in the tube. My experiment was worthwhile but I concluded I am not a big fan of the method, partly because it takes a while for the cardboard surrounding the seedling to decompose. In future I will plant the seeds in a polystyrene box and then directly into the garden bed when they are a suitable size. Toilet roll tubes though should not necessarily go into the recycling bin as there are many things you can do with them – check out Mum’s Grapevine and 20 things you can do with toilet paper rolls. Some good tips here for entertaining children or grandchildren.

Although my zucchini plants and cucumber seedlings (one out of two survived the transplant), after the toilet roll tube experiment, the lettuce seeds are growing ever so slowly, as is the beetroot and tomatoes. To get things going and growing in our veggie patch it was time to take a trip to Bunnings (the new one that just opened in Toowoomba and only 3 kms away). We bought tomato, lettuce seedlings, basil (the traditional sweet basil and a purple basil), a rosemary plant and a dwarf black mulberry. The mulberry tree will likely go in the chicken run for shade however we will have to fence it off initially as our Princess Chickens will be sure to eat the leaves and all we will be left with is the trunk!

The Princess Chickens have their own space, fenced off from the veggie garden. They like to watch us when we are gardening hoping they may get a worm!

Spending time in the garden has its rewards – fresh veggies, straight from the garden patch to the plate, less than 20 metres. We have enjoyed the carrots that my “One & Only” (O&O) planted and yesterday he checked his potato crop that is doing exceptionally well. It must be something to do with my watering!

Carrots from the garden patch to the plate.
Potato plants are thriving.
Next winter we will be enjoying our own citrus including mandarins. At our previous home we had so many mandarins we would juice these…I love mandarin juice!

It does not take too much effort to grow some of your own vegetables and herbs.  A little time in the garden makes a difference and a little thyme from the garden and into a favourite recipe makes it taste so much better. If we can produce some veggies and herbs on our small patch than you can too! Let me know what you are doing in your garden this season. 

What’s up with the English language

What’s up with the English language

For regular blog followers you may have noticed I have not been blogging lately! Life has been busy and there has been no time for a regular blog. Now I am busy getting ready for Christmas.  I am decorating our tree today and other household […]

Manus Island – the Simple Life

Manus Island – the Simple Life

What type of life are the 600 men living on Manus Island experiencing? From all the news I hear, not a good life, but a life of fear and deprivation. They may be living a simple life, when they get the basics to live, but […]

Chicken Jail

Chicken Jail

The broody chicken Carmella has been in chicken jail for 48 hours. I tried a number of methods to stop her broody behaviour e.g. take her out of the nesting box and give her a treat after placing her in the run, cold packs under her when she was in the nesting box and three cold baths! Nothing worked and I felt mean making her uncomfortable. Although, she did seem to enjoy the bath water which did not have the effect of reducing her body temperature. The lengths I went to! On every occasion she would return to the nesting box, fluff up her feathers and settle into the comfort of the nesting box. It is all part of a hens instinct and hormones at work. Usually a hen would stay in the nest to keep the eggs warm for around 21 days, until they hatch. However, for Carmella any eggs had disappeared and she was sitting on her imaginary eggs, yet doing her duty and preparing as best she could, for motherhood.

Chickens are early risers – up with the sun! Carmella was sitting in the nesting box all night and then for hours before I got up. Though I was up early to take this photo!

The problem with a broody hen is they will stop eating and can lose condition while waiting for their young to hatch. In Carmella’s situation there would never be any chicks but she was not to know and her instincts kept returning her to her favourite nesting box. It was stressful to watch and manage. I did get advice from a “chicken whisperer” neighbour who suggested I let her work it out over time, but my O&O and I found it difficult to watch her behaviour.

At last, the folding wire pet cage became available at Kmart for only $29 (a bargain) and we went to work to set up the chicken jail for Carmella. Plenty of food and water but no bedding or the comfort of a cosy nesting box. The pet cage will also double as a “sick bay” if I ever need to quarantine one of my chickens. When I first put her in the cage she squawked like a banshee, for about an hour. It was so bad I thought of abandoning the idea. But I had to do it, for her sake and ours!

Carmella in solitary confinement “chicken jail”. After this photo was taken my O&O modified two tin cans as feeders. He attached them to the wire and the ramekin dishes sat in the top, one with food, the other with water. They could not be knocked over! The cage was off the ground supported by two planks of wood and there was plenty of air around to cool her down. You can see that she is a lovely chicken and would make a super mum!

After the first 24 hours I looked for signs that her broody behaviour had broken, but no, too early to take her out of solitary confinement. I could see the cage was not her favourite space but she was calm, eating and drinking, resting and going for short walks. There was no capacity to go for long walks and she had no ability to scratch around looking for a worm who was off guard. Fortunately, there was no rain, otherwise I may have had to surrender her back to the coop and the nesting box. Another 24 hours, around noon today, she appeared back to her old self. The repetitive clucking had stopped. I decided to put it to the test and see whether the 48 hours in solitary worked. If she went directly back to the nesting box then it was back to solitary for another 24 hours.

When I opened the door of the wire cage she bounded out into the big world once more! I directed her to the run, with the enticement of grain, to watch and wait.  As the hours have ticked by this afternoon she has made no attempt to run back to the nesting box. She has spent the afternoon scratching and exploring in the run and coop, eating pumpkin and dust bathing. I am glad she is over her broody behaviour, back to her old self and enjoying the outdoors with her little pal, Lucy.

Carmella and Lucy eating one of their favourite veggies, pumpkin. Enjoying their playtime!
Tickety Boo Meaning

Tickety Boo Meaning

Are you familiar with the words “tickety boo”? It is not a common term these days but every now and again it will surface. In fact, I heard it yesterday! I became familiar with “tickety boo” when I was a child. In the 1958 movie starring […]

Urban farming

Urban farming

For these past few days I feel like I am a farmer in Tasmania. It is wet and windy and my pink gum boots go with me every time I step out of the house. There is something about putting on those boots that gives […]

Older and waiting

Older and waiting

We all must wait, but when you are older and waiting there is another story! When you are older, waiting can be more difficult. The longer you sit, the harder it is to get up. Of course, I am not talking about myself, I am not that old yet! But there are many people who are older than me and need help getting out of a chair or walking, either with a stick or a wheelie walker.

No more was I aware of being older and waiting when I was at my ophthalmologist this week. The waiting room is long, seats all around the walls, we are all familiar with this! My “One & Only” (O&O) said “there are no young people here”! The room was full and as I looked around I thought we are here for a long wait!

We went to the only seats available, near the television monitor. John Denver was playing. I saw John Denver in Brisbane decades ago in Brisbane. I always enjoyed his songs. But after a while at 10am in the morning it got tiresome. We took the first opportunity to move seats to the other end of the waiting room. John Denver still singing away but it was not as loud.

Again, I looked around the waiting room. There was not much movement, we all just sat around, reading or staring into space. New people arrived, another wheelie walker. Usually, I wait around 10 minutes until my first procedure. But not today! Forty-five minutes later the faint sound, though clearly recognisable voice of John Denver singing, repeatedly. The video must have been set to re-play. Fifteen minutes later, down the other end of the waiting room a receptionist with a bright voice said to everyone “sorry for the wait”. More information would have been helpful at this point. I was beginning to think of asking for a discount, given that I had to wait so long. Even after the Medicare rebate the cost was close to $300.

I watched as all the older people continued to sit and wait. Then from another door out came another wheelie walker. His wife went to the counter to help him as when he sat down on the seat of the wheelie walker all he could see was the timber front of the counter. He stood up for a minute and then sat down again. A procedure for a later date was being arranged. The waiting time for this older couple was lengthy. Looks like there are new administration staff in the practice and a few are learning the ropes! The older couple were at the counter for at least 15-20 minutes. I wondered why it could take so long. My mind wandered back to the waiting room of a local surgeon. When we arranged a day-hospital procedure, it took minutes.

The clock is ticking away as we all wait! Then an older woman, her procedure over, arrives at the front counter with her wheelie walker to fix up her account. She was very small, reminded me of my 91-year-old mother, around 4’ 9” – all the older people reading this will know how high or short that is! This lady’s head was barely above the top of the counter. She handed over her card for payment and then whispered her pin code to the receptionist as it was too high for her to manage. A phone call was made for her son to pick her up and she took off. The doorman, my O&O (his new role), ensured she got out of the door with her wheelie walker, unscathed.

Time was marching on and it was time for me to march up to the front counter. Not too much marching, as we were only a few steps away and we could hear every personal conversation. An hour later and my good mood fading fast I kindly asked, “how much longer” and mentioned I would be fine to reschedule my appointment. I was told only a few more minutes. I did mention that had I been told of the lengthy wait when I arrived we could have gone to the café for coffee or a walk!

Within minutes, I was whisked away for my first procedure, a field test. After this finished a short wait until I went to another room for other preliminaries. The woman (new to the job) introduced herself as the doctor’s assistant (a very important role) who did a test of my long-range vision, wrote a few notes, took my eye pressure and placed a drop in each eye. When putting the eye drop in my left eye she thought she missed so did it twice again, just to be sure! The drops widen the pupils and they stay dilated like that for some hours. On this occasion my left eye was dilated for the best part of the day! How much was that account again? I asked the reason for the waiting time? The doctor’s assistant said it was due to the first week back after the school holidays. The doctor was away for the school holidays. Note to self: don’t make an appointment in the week following any school holidays. I took the opportunity to mention, that as much as I liked John Denver, after an hour it was very monotonous – comment noted!

I was then taken into a dimmed room (eyes dilated) to wait for the doctor. The time before when I was in the same room – waiting, I thought I had been forgotten. Was everyone having a long morning tea? On this day I looked around the room, checking out all the equipment, watching the computer monitor turn black and wondering whether I should move the mouse to keep it on? There was a button I could have pressed for a code red, if necessary, just to make sure my presence in the room was overlooked. I made a better decision – sit and wait.

Today all my waiting was at the beginning of my appointment and this time it was only a short wait in the room with dimmed lights. After I saw my doctor, a very good ophthalmologist, I returned to the waiting room to pay the account and make my next appointment. The appointment fell right after the Easter school holidays in 2018. As I had made a mental note of avoiding the school holidays, to avoid a repeat of today, I made my appointment for May.

There are lessons that could be learnt from today. What about waiting rooms set up like a lounge room? Water should always be available. A tea and coffee machine, like when we have our car serviced, would make the waiting time more tolerable. Some of us might even turn up early, just for coffee and to read the latest magazines. Maybe this is the reason waiting rooms are generally uncomfortable and unwelcoming.

When I looked around, in the waiting room, observing all the older people, I felt sad. Sad that there was not more respect shown when waiting times are unacceptable. Also, there is much professionals could learn about privacy, confidentiality and having space between their front counter and clients in the waiting space.  I also thought about going back to work, offering my services to the ophthalmologist to be her practice manager. I could teach the receptionists front office etiquette!They would learn how to treat clients well and make them feel welcome and respected.

To be fair to medical practitioners not all of them keep us waiting. When my O&O had surgery for a BCC in the past week he was lying down and prepped for his procedure five minutes before his appointment time. Sometimes, arriving early has its benefits. His physiotherapist, following his shoulder surgery, works well to her time schedule – no waiting there. Also, similarly with his Brisbane surgeon. Why can some medical specialists get it right?

When we are older and waiting we can take a good book to read, an iPad, cross word puzzles or knitting. Also, when you arrive ask how long your wait time will be. If it is an hour, reschedule immediately or go for that walk or coffee. I am not sure whether I should tell you my best kept secret for not waiting at the doctors? Just get the first appointment of the day! My May appointment is for 9am. The receptionist told me to arrive at 8.30am and then I will see the doctor at 9am. Is that an 8.30am appointment? What is the logic in that?

 

 

A no brainer – keeping our brain young

A no brainer – keeping our brain young

A no brainer is something that requires little effort. When we are young little effort usually goes into thinking about keeping our brain young! As our body ages though other organs, including our brain grow old. The brain is a very important organ, so much […]


My Diary

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A no brainer is something that requires little effort. When we are young little effort usually goes into thinking about keeping our brain young! As our body ages though other organs, including our brain grow old. The brain is a very important organ, so much so that it is protected by our skull. The brain needs to keep functioning in tip-top shape as it runs our body and controls everything we do, even when asleep.

While I said it is a no brainer to keep our brain young it does take some brain power and effort to look after ourselves. If we look after our brain, our brain will look after us. Looking after our brain does not help if we are couch potatoes, lying around and expecting our body to work. I am referring to those who are able-bodied. But what about those who are in a wheelchair and do a lot of sitting around? It is a different story altogether!

One person with an amazing life story who is not as able-bodied as others is Kurt Fearnley. He is my favourite Australian wheel-chair athlete and a three-time Paralympic Gold Medallist. Kurt is not just an athlete who gets around in or out of a wheelchair, he is a powerhouse of energy, motivation and inspiration. Even though he was born without the lower part of his spine this has not held him back in life. He gets plenty of physical exercise, mental stimulation and to live the way he does he would have to have a healthy diet. These are three ways we can keep our brain young as we age – physical exercise, mental stimulation and a healthy diet.

Mental stimulation keeps the synapses in our brain working and connected. Mental stimulation can include reading, researching a topic, doing crosswords or puzzles, or learning something new. When I was younger I would laugh when explaining my exercise routine to friends. My main form of exercise was mental gymnastics. It all happened in my brain – no regular physical exercise for me! But times change and I have grown older and I need to exercise. I must keep my body healthy and I need regular physical exercise.

Getting physical can help our brains be more efficient and adaptive. Exercise lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and is good for our cardiovascular functioning. Also, it just makes you feel good. Even my chickens love getting out of their coop and exercising. Hanging greens such as kale or spinach on a piece of string keeps chickens amused and moving. Just like me I am happier when I am amused and moving, except when I am cleaning the house – just finished that task an hour ago!

Physical exercise keeps the brain young

Keeping our brain young helps if we are not overweight. Keeping our weight under control helps improve blood pressure. I have experimented with exercise to control my blood pressure. I find that good diet and exercise makes a difference.

There are medicines that we can take to control our blood pressure, cholesterol and help us sleep. But how much better if we can take the necessary steps and keep these all under control without having to step inside a pharmacy.

There are other ways to keep our brains young and healthy and tobacco is off the menu! Younger people who are fit and healthy and smoke cigarettes don’t think too much about the future. There is not too much thought about ageing. If they continue to smoke into old age it will take longer for the body to bounce back to good health. Good health and smoking tobacco don’t go hand in hand.

Similarly, too much alcohol is not good for us. Alcohol can damage the brain and too many drinks over the years can cause alcohol dementia. Next time I lift that wine glass to my lips I will have to think about this! A little wine is good for us and there are studies which show that low-dose alcohol may reduce the risk of dementia in older people. Excessive consumption of alcohol may cause cognitive decline and dementia. Note, the research says “may” and more evidence is required. Nonetheless, to keep on the safe side it is probably wise to have a few days a week alcohol free so the brain can take a rest and recover!

Another way to keep our brain young is to by having a good night’s sleep. Exercise helps us sleep better and this is something I have found to work. Working on the computer, like I did the other night for hours before bed did not give me a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep robs our energy and can affect our immune system. Preparation for sleep can help. Preparation can include, allowing a few hours between eating and bedtime, no caffeine, no screen time and no bright lights in the last hour before going to bed. Lowering the lights gets the chemical melatonin in our system flowing and prepares us for sleep. We begin to feel drowsy and this is the perfect time to toddle off to bed! What about you? Do you have a bedtime wind-down routine?

I want to keep my brain young so I am on a quest to make sure I take steps to do this. My mental stimulation is at work writing this blog. I read all types of interesting articles when researching different topics. Not only does it add to my knowledge but it is healthy for my brain. A step in the right direction to reduce my risk of memory loss. Time to do some shopping. Now, where did I put those car keys!


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