About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera - You're It

Josie has tagged me with this meme and since it's sort of different, I'll play along. I absolutely love to read and had just finished "Atonement" last week, but hadn't yet decided on my next read. So now I've chosen "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for this book in 1982. Apparently, it's an ageless and deeply human story about two young people, Florentina and Fermina who fall passionately in love. However, Florentina eventually decides to marry a wealthy and well-born doctor and Fermina is devasted. The book will tell me of the next 51 years, 9 months, and 4 days until he is able to again declare his love for her.

Here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. Open it to page 123.
3. Find the first 5 sentences and write them down.
4. Then invite 5 friends to do the same.

Page 123 reads:

One night, a short while after the serenade by solo piano, Lorenzo Daza discovered a letter, its envelope sealed with wax, in the entryway to his house. It was addressed to his daughter and the monogram "J.U.C." was imprinted on the seal. He slipped it under the door as he passed Fermina's bedroom and she never understood how it had come there, since it was inconceivable to her that her father had changed so much that he would bring her a letter from a suitor. She left it on the night table, for the truth was she did not know what to do with it, and there it stayed, unopened, for several days, until one rainy afternoon when Fermina Daza dreamed that Juvenal Urbino had returned to the house to give her the tongue depressor he had used to examine her throat. In the dream, the tongue depressor was made not of aluminum but of a delicious metal that she had tasted with pleasure in other dreams, so that she broke it in two unequal pieces and gave him the smaller one.

Wow! After reading these 5 sentences, I can hardly wait to get into the book! Now who to tag? Who do I think has a book on the go? Okay, I'll tag the following to make this a worldwide attempt, but don't feel obligated to do this.

jmb in Vancouver, BC
Nancy in Panama City, Florida
Mike in London, England
Meggie in New South Wales, Australia
Claudia in California

Happy reading, everyone!

Skywatch Friday - Trying something new

After reading David's blog today, I decided to try an experiment with one of my photos that I took one night last fall. I took the original photo and then used Adobe Photoshop to increase the contrast.
Original Photo

I cropped out the clock tower and I increased the contrast by 50%.

In the next one, I increased the contrast by 75%.

The contrast is increased here by 90%.

Finally, I increased the contrast by 100%.

I feel as though the picture becomes more and more like an abstract but I'm curious to know what you think.

(Skywatch Friday is brought to you by Dot at Strolling Through Georgia.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mental Illness and Recovery

(Taken from the National Alliance for Mental Illness)
Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

1. Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.

2. Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans — who suffer from a serious mental illness. It is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 5 families in America.

3. The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
4. Mental illnesses usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.

5. Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.

6. The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.

7. With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.

8. Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.

9. Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.

Oscar Levant said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. I can truly relate to this from having had a father with (undiagnosed) obsessive compulsive disorder, a husband with diagnosed OCD/paranoia/manic depression/borderline personality disorder, and one of my children with Bipolar Disorder. All three of these family members were/are highly intelligent and creative individuals.
My Dad was an athlete and because of his personal insistance on excellence, his "disorder" helped him to become famous in his sport. However, at work and on the home front it did cause a lot of dissension when no one was ever able to live up to his expectations.
My husband was highly gifted in art and written expression. He had a quirky and highly developed sense of humour that he was able to share with family and close friends. However, his "other" self was shy, afraid of strangers, insecure, and hostile. The good old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
My daughter is also highly creative - she has a beautiful singing voice, writes poetry and song lyrics, paints abstracts in acrylics, has an excellent eye for photography in which she prefers black and white, and designs jewelry. She's a free spirit who has tried unsuccessfully to adapt to the "accepted" lifestyle of advanced education and the workplace. However, since accepting her limitations and faithfully following her health plan, she's working part time and now has access to funding to aid in her creative endeavours. Some of her creative works will be displayed at the annual art show entitled "Frames of Mind" in July of this year.
Lately, there has been a lot of ink about mental illness in our city, mostly about people who are dual diagnosed - also being addicted to either drugs or alcohol. I truly feel for these people because they are caught in the middle, being told to get off the drugs/alcohol before getting treatment for their mental illness or vice versa.
However, the focus on these people takes away from the majority of people who do have a chronic neurological disorder and perpetuates the myth that all those suffering from a mental illness are dangerous and unpredictable or possessed by the Devil. In future, I hope to shed more light on what it's like to live with this illness, both from my own (so-called healthy) perspective and from the sufferers' perspectives.

F is for FATHER

ABC Wednesday - Today is brought to you by the letter F. For more information on ABCW, see Mrs. Nesbitt's blog.

There was no doubt in my mind about what I'd post about today. As soon as I realised it was the letter "F," I knew it meant my Father. My father was a Famous soccer player and is in the BC Sports Hall of Fame as part of the St.Andrews Football Team. They were champions in 1947 and were the team to beat in the fourties and fifties. Here's a portrait of the young man around age 20.
Dad is 2nd from the left rear (no tam) with his team.

Here is the football team at Niagara Falls, late '40s. Dad is 3rd from the right at the rear.

When the Word War II broke out, Dad joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and became a flight instructor. Thankfully, he didn't have to go overseas, but he did fly the Atlantic Coast patroling for enemy ships and submarines.

Dad is on the left with others from British Columbia.

Here he is walking down the street in Vancouver, BC, on furlough, aged 21.

This photo of Dad flying his plane was taken by a buddy in another plane.

After the war, Dad returned to work for the British Columbia Telephone Company where he made a good living and provided well for his family. His wife and three daughters were his number one priority in life, along with continuing to play soccer until he became a linesman and then a referee for many years. He also became Commissioner for the sport for a while, too. My sister was born while he was away in the RCAF, but upon his return told my Mom he wanted them to have another child. Here I am - his favourite! (well, maybe not really but I "was" the only one they planned.)

We loved camping every summer and here we are at Wasa Lake in the Kootenay region of BC, an extremely hot spot where all you could do was stay in the water to keep cool. And Dad always made it fun.

And here I am (on the slide) and my Dad is helping my younger sister on the teeter totter at the campsite in Banff, Alberta.

Of course my father walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, but instead of posting the typical formal photograph, here's one of us at the reception reacting to something funny. You can tell my father had a wonderful sense of humour.

And finally, here is a beautiful floral arrangement given to me by my church family when Dad passed away last September. I was lucky to have him as my father for fifty-nine years. I'll always miss him.

John Richard (Jack) Jones

January 18, 1921 - September 21, 2007

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Elvis is Alive and Well...

and entertaining folks at the Planet Java 50s Cafe in Fort Langley, BC. It was a glorious sunny day today, so I took Daughter #2 and we headed 45 minutes east to the town of Fort Langley for lunch and a stroll. This delightful small town, with a heritage focus, is easy to walk around to enjoy the many old buildings, antique dealers' shops and, of course, the Fort itself, which we bypassed having already been there. This Fort is actually the birthplace of British Columbia, the exact location where, 150 years ago, a huge fur trade organization called the Hudson's Bay Company established a small post to trade with the First Nations of the West Coast. The enterprise grew, evolved, and influenced history, leading to the creation of the colony of British Columbia. In the town, gift shops, galleries, fashion stores and artist's studios abound and the observation tower near the bridge has an outstanding view of the river. There are several excellent restaurants for a snack or a meal, many with sidewalk tables but we always eat at the Planet Java whenever we visit. Hope you enjoy this virtual visit and I'd be delighted to accompany you if you come to town and would like to go and see the village and/or the Fort.

I love this shot of Jaclyn by the juke box - we played "Lollipop" and "Good Golly Miss Molly."

This is a mural painted in "Gasoline Alley" depicting the history of Fort Langley.

Here's the Antique Shop.

and the Stained Glass Studio.

We took a moment to smile for the camera before heading along the main drag where we saw a house with this weird fence.

Here's the old Fort Langley Railway Depot

and the railway tracks that run between the village and the Fraser River.

the south bank of the river by the railway tracks

We crossed the bridge (built in 1932) to get some shots of an old church we spotted.

The church from the south end of the bridge.

and a bit closer.

I kind of like this shot of the church through the trees.

Jaclyn got this shot of the mountain peaks from the car as we drove past some dried blackberry bushes at the side of the road.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Photo Hunters Theme: Wooden

Today's theme is "wooden" so I thought I'd post a few shots from Centennial Beach and the Boundary Bay Dyke area, both parts of Boundary Bay Regional Park.

1. The wooden walkway over the marshy area of the inner regions of Centennial Beach.

2. A woodsy area near the above photo where you will always be able to catch sight of wild bunnies. Stay alert and walk quietly.
3. Driftwood washes up on the beach and workers drag it down to a more secluded area of the beach.
4. Piles and piles of driftwood can be seen all along the beach.
5. The day I took all these photos (last April) I noticed these older teens busy building something with the driftwood. They'd been working since that morning building what they called "The Ark." You should have seen it!
6. More driftwood washes ashore off the Boundary Bay Dyke. This was last weekend.
7. And more driftwood off the Boundary Bay Dyke looking towards Tsawwassen and Point Roberts in Washington state.

Hope you enjoyed my take on "wooden" and I'm looking forward to seeing all of yours.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The following is from spine-health.com: The term “stenosis” comes from Greek and means a “choking”. In lumbar spinal stenosis, the spinal nerve roots in the lower back are compressed, or choked, and this can produce symptoms of pain, tingling, weakness or numbness that radiates from the low back and into the buttocks and legs, especially with activity.

In rare cases, lumbar spinal stenosis can go no further than to produce severe persistent disabling pain and even weakness in the legs. Most cases, however, have pain that radiates into the leg(s) with walking, and that pain will be relieved with sitting. This is called claudication which can also be caused by circulatory problems to the legs, as discussed later in this article.

Spinal stenosis can occur in a variety of ways in the spine. Approximately 75% of cases of spinal stenosis occur in the low back (lumbar spine), which is called lumbar spinal stenosis, and most will affect the sciatic nerve which runs along the back of the leg. When this happens, it is commonly called sciatica.

What is spinal stenosis? The vertebral column in the spine and sacrum (at the bottom of the spine) is like a stack of blocks that serve to support the structures of the body. Each of these bony structures has additional bony attachments that serve to help stabilize the spine and to protect the spinal cord or nerves passing downward from the brain to organs, muscles and sensory structures of the body. Each vertebral body and its attachments and the disc between the adjacent vertebrae are known as a spinal segment. The entire length of the spinal column has a large central canal or passage through which the spinal cord descends, and holes to each side of the canal to allow emergence of spinal nerves at each level. The spinal cord stops at the upper part of the low back, and below that the tiny contained nerve rootlets descend loosely splayed out - like a horse’s tail – and are protectively enclosed in a long sack. All central nerve structures are protected further by membranes, with a tough outer membrane called the dura (tough) mater (mother).

Major types of stenosis include:

Foraminal stenosis. As the nerve root is about to leave the canal through a side hole (lateral foramen), a bone spur (osteophyte) that has already developed from a degenerating disc can press on that nerve root. This type of stenosis is also called lateral spinal stenosis. This is by far the most common form of spinal stenosis. 72% of cases of foraminal stenosis occur at the lowest lumbar level, trapping the emerging nerve root (which comprises a major part of the sciatic nerve).

Central stenosis. A choking of the central canal, called central spinal stenosis in the lumbar (low back) area can compress the sack containing the horse’s tail (cauda equina, or cauda equine) bundle of loose nerve filaments. Central spinal stenosis is more common at the second from the lowest lumbar spinal level and higher and is largely caused by a bulging of the disc margin plus a major overgrowth or redundancy of a ligament (ligamentum flavum) which is there to help protect the dura. This overgrowth is caused by segmental instability usually from a degenerating disc between adjacent vertebrae. The ligament arises from under the flat laminas of the vertebrae and the inside part of the facet joints (stabilizing joints located on each side at the back of the spine segments).

Far lateral stenosis. After the nerve has left the spinal canal it can also be compressed beyond the foramen by either a bony spur protrusion or a bulging or herniated disc. When this happens, it is called far lateral stenosis.

Here's a GREAT video that explains it in very simple words.

So what, you may wonder. Well, this is me living with chronic pain. I go to massage therapy every week for relief and I thank God for my therapist. Back in 1986, I had major back surgery and had one disc removed along with bone spurs that had wrapped themselves around the sciatic nerve, touching it every time I moved. Have you ever gone momentarily blind from pain? Since 1986, my back has never been the same and I live day to day with some level of pain. The last time I had a CT scan (in 2004) it showed that I had "essentially unchanged multilevel spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis) and interval progression of facet hypertrophy bilaterally at L4/5 and L5/S1." As my therapist works on me, we laugh as I joke about going to my "happy place" as the pain rises to a 10+ before it releases. I've learned to breathe through it and allow it to hurt because I know the relief will be so blessed. The next time I see my GP, I'm going to ask him if it might be wise to get another CT scan. After faithfully attending massage therapy for years and in the past two years losing over 50 lbs., pain levels haven't changed and I can only stand in one spot for a moment or two without losing the sensation in my left leg. One day as my friend and I were chatting with others after the church service, I suddenly realised that I couldn't feel either of my legs and had to excuse myself. Walking quickly over to the nearest seat, I almost fell into it and it took several minutes to get the feeling back.
Maybe in the 22 years since my original back surgery, they've come up with a far less invasion procedure to either fix this condition or at the very least minimize the pain. I know I'm not the only one who lives with this chronic suffering and I would do anything to stay on my feet and out of a wheelchair. Because of what I call my "invisible disability" I'm much more patient with strangers. We might "look" like we're normal (whatever that means), but who knows what each of us lives with in our daily lives.
Thus ends today's health lesson.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


In law, defamation (also called vilification, slander, and libel) is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressively stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism.

Someone in cyber space is writing defamatory posts about a certain person and linking to that person's site . This person is also going around to bloggers and making comments that are defamatory and slanderous about other bloggers. There are laws about this, even on the internet. If in doubt, check here.

I urge everyone NOT to take this lightly. Blogging is/can be a fun pastime and a way of meeting others with similar interests. When you go to a blog site, consider it the same as if you are entering someone's home. Be polite. If nothing interests you or if you dislike what the owner is writing about, quietly leave. If you come upon a site where the site owner is defaming or slandering another person, I suggest you leave there quietly as well. Do not comment or argue back. Ask yourself, "Would I stay in this person's home and listen or argue with them?" If someone comes on your site and makes rude, insulting, or slanderous comments about you or anyone else, simply delete them. Ask yourself, "Would I welcome someone like that into my home?"

Inaction could be considered the same as condoning the actions of those who slander. However, in cases like this it's better to move on and hopefully, in time, this person will get the message that they are not welcome. Don't allow this person to ruin our enjoyment.

True story: "Parent advocate, Sue Scheff™, was recently featured on i-Caught in an ABC News sponsored podcast, as well as the Mike and Juliet Morning Show, which is broadcast from Fox studios. Both productions feature segments on internet defamation and slander, and discuss the incredible ordeal Sue Scheff experienced when faced with vicious online attacks from a disgruntled parent seeking revenge. The media has notoriously dubbed this: e-venge."

This is a serious issue and needs to be taken seriously. Read more on Sue Scheff's successful lawsuit HERE. Click where it says Click here and read the two posts on this page. It talks about an organisation called Reputation Defender.

Atonement - the book

atonement (ə-tōn'mənt) = amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong; expiation.

From Wikipedia: Atonement (2001) is a novel by British writer Ian McEwan. It is widely regarded as one of McEwan's best works and was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize for fiction, an award he had already won for his previous novel Amsterdam. In addition, Time magazine named it the best fiction novel of the year and included it in its All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels,[1] and The Observer cites it as one of the 100 best novels written, calling it "a contemporary classic of mesmerising narrative conviction."[2]

I received this book for Christmas from Daughter #1 and just finished it the other day. I haven't started reading anything else yet because the whole story keeps running through my mind and I'm enjoying mulling it over. In 1935 England, a precocious 13-year-old girl manages to ruin the lives of many people by telling a lie about her older sister and the son of a servant. I cannot even begin to describe how the author draws us into the the young girl's mind and how she twists the truth in her childish desire to hurt those she loves. Here are some quotes about the book:

The Economist : "A work of astonishing depth and humanity....It is rare for a critic to feel justified in using the word 'masterpiece,' but [Atonement] really deserves to be called one."

The New Yorker: "A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama."

Chicago Tribune: "Astonishing....Lush and heavily populated, [with] one of the most remarkable erotic scenes in modern fiction...{It} is something you will never forget."

The Wall Street Journal: "Enthralling...extraordinary....Ambitious....With psychological insight and a command of sensual and historical detail, Mr. McEwan creates an absorbing fictional world."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Not since the nineteenth century has a writer stepped in and out of his characters' minds with such unfettered confidence."

The New York Observer: "Magical....A love story, a war story, and a story about stories, and so it hits the heart, the guts and the brain....McEwan is eerily convincing. When he's writing at his best, he's invisible, and he's never less than elegant and precise...."

The Weekly Standard: "Atonement can't be laid down once it's been picked up...McEwan writes like an angel and plots like a demon...."

I'm not sure now whether to see the movie or not. I'm afraid it might ruin my passion for the book. On the other hand, I'd love to see it acted out. I know it's up for Best Picture of the year and there have been rave reviews. I can certainly vouch for the book. Can anyone vouch for the movie?