Posted in Children's Music YouTube, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De-stressing, Food, Food Security, Home, Marriage & Family, Music, sustainability

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 7 at Home

tsawassen Mills
Tsawwassen Mills May 3, 2020

Went to Tsawwassen Mills for our weekly social distancing walk yesterday. I realize now what I am subconsciously doing. I’m conditioning myself for the new normal. My brain feels like it is spinning, sometimes, like it lacks traction, when I try to imagine what we will be walking into in the next months, maybe years.

I read an interesting speculative article in the National Post. “We’ll have to reinvent ourselves,” futurist Nicola Danayov says.

Regarding the measures to control the virus, Danayov says, “when you’re selling survival you can justify anything.” He adds that the public will have to weigh in on these measures with “debate and discussion and a vote.” We will need to give careful thought to the best way to move forward, calculating the risks. As I mentioned in a previous article, I pray that we will come up with new, creative solutions.

One solution I saw this morning, in an article, was body temperature scanning at a liquor store. The concern, of course, is around privacy and the storing of information. Maybe the risk is minimal if there no identifying information attached, like when your speed limit is read back to you from a road sign. I don’t know anything about this technology, but it sounds like a possibility. You can go to Science World and have your body temperature scanned without submitting any information about yourself. Maybe it’s like that.

Looking ahead I picture there will be a lot of mask wearing. Airlines already require passengers to wear masks during flights. We will continue to physical distance. Sanitization and hand washing will continue. Full face shields might be required at public events.

We will need wise leaders to guide us into the future. People who are actually thinking things through to their logical conclusions. We’ve all seen knee jerk reactions that have not proved to be helpful.

Apart from keeping the food supply chain going, and people keeping their homes and having a means of providing for themselves and their dependents, my concern is that we not be trapped by fear. That is why I am traipsing about a little now. We went out twice this week.

I see meet-ups in parking lots, distancing by six feet. I see families doing “virtual hugs” with grandchildren after a social distancing walk in a park. Face-time and Zoom are great but we need to figure out how we can move forward in closer proximity with one another, with some degree of physical connection. I read that handshakes may be a thing of the past. Let’s find a way not to allow that to happen.

I’ve thought a lot about “essential services.” Never have lowly tasks been so highly valued. I think there is a lesson in this for all of us.

What is truly essential, I ask myself? Some businesses will collapse under the strain of protective restrictions and this has made me ask the question, “What is essential?” What could we reduce or even live without?

In my youth we were not wealthy. Most of the time our family lived very frugally. One advantage we had was that we lived on a farm and were pretty self-sufficient in terms of fruit, vegetables and meat. We bought our milk from a neighboring dairy farm. We still purchased staples at the grocery store.

I think of the list of non-essentials we did not spend money on back then because we could not afford them. A lot of businesses would close today if people lived as we did back then.

I spent a number of years in the Philippines and was impressed by how well people could do with so little. I was touched by their sense of gratitude and joy, too. My parents grew up in poverty. My mother told me that her family was able to write a letter once a month when they tore the page off the calendar and wrote on the back of it. Often when I see junk mail in my mailbox I think about the fact that not once did we receive a flyer of advertising in the Philippines. The average citizen could not afford a newspaper.

What would our society look like without non-essentials? Jesus admonished us to be content with “food and clothing.” That’s really paring it down to essentials. Analysts are saying that we will be spending less on non-essentials in coming months and maybe for years. What will that look like? Can stores reopen and stay open with the restrictions imposed on them? Will there be customers? How many people will hesitate to go out? Will their spending habits change?

As I said previously, in one of my updates, I am troubled when I look at high rises. I wasn’t sure why, but I am beginning to get some clarity. They are the exterior symbol of prosperity, of modernization. But when we really think about it, they are a visual of how people are treated like a commodity. They say, all you need is a box to live in, a space from which you can go to make money and then go to all the places where you will spend your money. You are needed to keep the economy going and the more of you we have in a small space, the more money will be spent.

The economy is reeling. But suddenly the economy is taking second place to life itself.

Where I lived in the Philippines life centered around harvest, not the economy. Essentially life centered around procuring food. A good harvest provided food and a little money for essentials. If you had a job or a business, your aim was to make enough to buy food. Unlike Canada, the focus was not on bringing in as many immigrants as possible to boost the economy.

I read today that the coronavirus will affect enrollment of foreign students in Canada. Why is this a concern? Because International students contribute C$21 billion annually to the nation’s economy, according to government data.” International students “are crucial to Canada’s higher educational institutions as they pay higher fees. They make up more than a fifth of the post-secondary student body and bring in close to C$6 billion ($4.3 billion) in tuition annually, according to a Royal Bank of Canada report.” (see article)

It is essential to train students in Canada so that they can then stay and work here, which means we are draining the best resources out of developing countries. Of course, the U.S. has done the same to Canada, head-hunting our most skilled. I read recently that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) send home money equivalent to one tenth of the Philippine GDP. I have witnessed mothers separated from their children for years on end. One mother’s young son died while she was working as a nanny in Canada.


These are thoughts that run through my mind as I ponder our future and the future of the whole world.

Tomorrow we will create another Music With Mr. Sheldon episode for the children. My husband is doing a few domestic things these days. Here is the kombucha he bottled this week.

kombuchaMy mom is somewhat improved after her I.V. so this is good news. My sister’s cancer surgery is scheduled for Thursday. She will not be allowed any visitors during one week of hospitalization. As difficult as I find it not to be able to fly out and be with her at this time, it must be even more challenging for her family. She has been isolating from them for three weeks now.

While some send cheers, thoughts, sighs and best wishes, my deepest comfort arises out of the knowledge that my concerns are brought before the throne of God in prayer. The same God who pays such intricate attention to every detail of creation will care for me and those I love.

On a final note, I know families are struggling relationally while being isolated in close quarters. There are ways we can approach these challenges that can actually draw us closer together if we have a long term vision for our relationships. Show a little faith in each other. Speak words of support. Your kids and your spouse are trying. Give love room to grow.

Posted in Coronavirus, faith, Food, Food Security, Home, Marriage & Family, Self Regulation

Surviving Coronavirus Isolation – Week 1 at Home

As I watched Survivor yesterday, I thought to myself that this show is not a good example of how to survive a crisis. Everyone is out for themselves. And they lie to each other, to win! In real life we need to work together, helping each other, and trusting one another.

I’m not in survivor mode, exactly, but the hoarding reminds me of the show. Remember, if one person has all the sani-wipes, then we are not protected as well as if everyone has wipes and soap and alcohol.

At our house we are trying to stay healthy emotionally, physically, financially, relationally and spiritually.

I’m going to make this fairly brief and write about what we are doing in each of these areas.

  • Emotionally

It’s extremely important to take care of how we are feeling. Each of the other areas impacts our emotions, and is affected by how we feel.

The main emotion to keep under control is fear. As I’ve said before, fear only serves you well if it moves you in a good direction. So, for me the answer is to do things that are helpful, going forward. Focus on the positive things I can do.

I journal, plan meals, and watch uplifting YouTube videos. I stay informed of current events but limit the time I read/listen to the news. I play occasional games on my own or with my husband when I need to “isolate” my mind. I keep in touch by messaging family and friends.

  • Physically

We go for a daily walk. I use a few light weights and elastic bands to exercise. We’ve taken extended walks up and down a hill to get our heart-rates up. I need to do more, but this is a start.

We have a regular bed-time, around 10:30 p.m. I still find myself awakening frequently at 4:00 a.m. Sometimes I can fall asleep again after a couple of hours.

The big change is cooking for two people during the day. My husband has difficulty keeping his weight down so he has been on a low-carb diet for a long time. We are both making some adjustments.

It seems to work best to have two full meals a day. We supplement with snacks in between if we are hungry, such as a slice of cheese and an apple, or a taquito (heated), or frozen fruit with yogurt.

I’ve pulled out old recipes like meatloaf, beet borscht, butternut squash soup, chicken fajitas, and sweet and sour pork, this past week. I’ve also started baking bread again, because this is more cost-effective than buying. I add all kinds of healthy ingredients.

We are spending a lot more time in the kitchen. Breakfast is generally eggs, in some form. Eggs are a staple of the low carb, or Keto diet, and fairly easy on the budget, so this works out well. We cook one other significant meal, mid or late afternoon.

I’ve started to look at mealtimes as the central, highlight of our day. We are deeply grateful for a good, healthy meal. This is our new form of recreation and pleasure. Since my husband is home, he helps me out in the kitchen.

  • Financially

We are spending less. This is a positive things we are doing. It means our money will stretch further.

A month ago I wrote down all of our fixed expenses, things that don’t change every year or month, like housing costs, car/travel expenses, utilities (electric, phone, wifi), payments and subscriptions. The only subscription we still have is for Amazon Prime.

Other than these, our necessities are food, toiletries, cleansers and prescription medication. This week we spent $140 on food and toiletries. I am budgeting $600 a month for this “variable” area of our finances. Generally, other expenses can wait.

My husband is experimenting with a few online possibilities and I am helping him. There is nothing income-generating at this time but perhaps something will work out in the future.

In Canada the poverty line is $24,000. The government will help people in our situation with $2000 a month for four months, or the equivalent of a poverty level income. I think this is extremely generous. It is an effort to keep small businesses from closing permanently and jobs from disappearing when this is over.

  • Relationally and Spiritually

I am doing what I can to keep the home pleasant. Just being aware of the importance of this makes a difference.

Like others, we are unable to see our children and grandchildren, so we are keeping in touch via phone and video chats. My husband is a music teacher. You can take a look at what we have been up to here. In the past I have wished for a larger home (see photo of grandkids) but today I am very happy to live with less.

Our parents live in another province and have health issues. We do hope that they will not end up in the hospital at this time. We have great compassion for those who have a variety of health, family, and financial challenges at this time.

I try to see good in each day. I pray for the people serving on the front lines, and those with the responsibility to make decisions that affect others. I pray for our food supply chain, as I am realizing the importance of the very basic things in life, such as food.

I know there are still challenges ahead, but I trust that God will help us through this.

Posted in Abuse, addictions, Drugs, Food, Health, mental health

Don’t Make Choices That Will Weaken You


Each day we choose our path. We make choices. There are things we can choose that will enhance the type of future we will have. It is essential to our wellbeing to look down the road and think long term.

There may be small things we do that make a difference. For instance, I order water to drink at a restaurant. As a result I have not only saved a lot of money over the years, but I have avoided sugars and empty calories. When I have the option of salad or fries, I most often order salad. If I have the choice between whole grain or white bread, I order whole grain. My body thanks me for giving it the nutrients it wants and needs. My nails and hair are healthy looking and my skin is clear.

I try to keep a calm home because I like it that way. I try to be organized and prepared. This takes planning, but then my life turns out the way I want it to be.

I know the high price of addictive substances, particularly in terms of physical and mental deterioration. I don’t want to dumb down my ability to think clearly. I don’t want my cognitive ability to be impaired, so I stay away from these substances. I add to my life those things that make me feel balanced and in control. I keep a record of how I am being affected by what I allow.

Life is hard, but it is better when we make choices that strengthen us.

Posted in Eco-responsibility, Food, Health, supplements, sustainability

What is Missing?

organic proteinI find so often when I read an article, be it in the news, or in a magazine, that something is missing. But then articles are not generally written with full disclosure in mind, or the inclusion of a balancing viewpoint. They are written from a bias. I’m sure even my own articles have bias. So, I accept that.

At the same time, it is helpful to have a discussion around what is being said and what may be missing. This week I was given a complimentary Alive magazine with my purchase at a local health food store. The full title of the magazine is, Alive: Canada’s Natural Health and Wellness Magazine. With special attention to Earth Day occurring in April, the magazine features eco-conscious articles and content about eating whole foods, composting, urban gardening and re-using instead of recycling. It also has an article on food insecurity, multiculturalism and inclusion. What struck me, though, was that within the magazine there are no less than 25 full page ads for supplements in capsule, tablet, or powder form, packaged in plastic bottles/jars, and sometimes packaged additionally in paper boxes.

The connect is obviously missing. Here are two very distinct messages. One says, buy these plastic bottles. The other says, care for the environment and eat natural. The message to BUY is coming across much louder and clearer than the very eco-friendly articles. How can this message about caring for the earth be believed when there is such an obvious contradiction in the magazine?

This, to me is just another one of the many examples we have in our society of do as I say, and not as I do. We need to start talking about what is missing from the conversation. For instance…

  • How many factories does it take to produce these highly “processed” supplements?
  • How much plastic is lining the shelves of health food stores?
  • Why are there such small quantities per bottle?
  • How much bio-waste is produced by these factories?
  • What portion of their budget is spent on advertising…on bottles, boxes, paper inserts, in magazines, on websites?
  • What is their profit margin?

It seems a little hypocritical to include a short article in the magazine about the importance of “inclusiveness” and “food security” when literally every third page page screams “elite” and “privilege.” Face it, who can afford supplements at $40 dollar a bottle for a month’s worth of product? And clearly you will need to buy multiple bottles, probably at least a dozen, but it could be much more. The magazine also contains an “Alive Shopping list” to help you with your decisions about which supplements in the magazine might be for you, so you can “tackle the supplement aisle with confidence.”

I admit that for me it has been a financial strain to buy supplements and I’ve never been able to afford as many supplements as I apparently “need.” So, this magazine is geared for those who earn more than I do–probably at least twice as much–who can comfortably afford the products. Think about that for a moment. While guilting those who are consuming, it is simultaneously enticing them to consume more of the highly processed, highly priced, plastic-packaged products.

As a society we may slowly be learning to walk the talk, but we still have a long way to go. We will have to ask ourselves some serious questions, one being, do we really want the sacrifices involved in the eco-friendly, whole food message?

Posted in Children, Food, Health, Home

Are You Getting Enough Vegetables?

veggies for breakfastIt’s always been a challenge for me to incorporate enough vegetables into the family diet. I tell myself things like, There’s Tomato in the Pizza. My A&W Buddy Burger has Onions in it. I had Sweet Potato Fries.

I once served a homemade lasagna to a mother and her family and she asked me at the table, Where are the vegetables? Well, clearly there was tomato in the lasagna, and my homemade recipe has a whole package of spinach in it. But she was looking for a salad, I imagine. I didn’t serve the customary Caesar salad with the lasagna.

A friend of mine has a salad for lunch every day. I can’t seem to force myself to do that. I guess I’m still a picky eater, like when I was a kid. I know my mom worried about getting enough food into my stomach.

Back when I was a child there was not so much emphasis on a balanced diet. I had “Tomato Soup” out of a can and “Noodle Soup” out of a box for lunch regularly. Sometimes we had my favorite, “Campbell’s Vegetable Soup.” I didn’t mind the few vegetables floating around the alphabet noodles, which I loved–the bits of carrot, a couple of peas and the occasional lima bean.

I remember two things I liked when I was a kid, besides Alphabet Soup. Macaroni and cheese, and corn. That was until the day I ate too much of it.

I have to confess to having a constant level of anxiety over providing the right diet for my children when they were growing up. I tried a lot of things. For instance, I insisted on nutrients in my bread and refused to buy “white” bread. When I baked I used unbleached flour, and I added wholesome ingredients like raisins, or nuts, or oatmeal to cookies and cakes. I also made carrot cake or zucchini loaf for dessert. The kids loved these and never complained about the vegetables. When we had pizza, I sometimes sprinkled extra chopped red or green peppers and cheese on top. They never minded. And later I began to serve pizza with vegetables and dip…or no dip, just carrot and celery sticks, maybe broccoli or cucumber slices and peppers. I also made the obligatory Caesar salad with my lasagna!

We had a two spoon rule at our house. When the kids turned their noses up at a food, we would say they had to eat two spoonfuls. That way I was sure that at least they were ingesting some nutrition on a regular basis. I was always conscious of needing to get something substantial into their little tummies.

I know there are women out there who have got this, but I am not one of them. I am still very aware of the need to serve vegetables more regularly in our home. A green salad every day would be my ideal but here I sympathize with the children. Please, don’t force me.

One mother I knew when my children were little would certainly have aced the vegetable exam. She and her family had the rosy cheeks and bright eyes and clear skin to show for it. She religiously incorporated fresh vegetable salads into every lunch and dinner. From her I learned how easy it is to mix cucumbers, tomatoes and onions and add a bit of balsamic vinegar and oil, and, voila! A salad! This was a regular staple of hers.

When I go to my mom’s home the salad is often missing from the table. And this is true of my house too. But I’m doing something about it. Maybe not as regularly as I would like. I reassure myself by telling myself that everything counts. Today I cooked Butternut Squash Soup. The other week I made a Turkey Vegetable Soup. I recently added broccoli to my rice casserole which also has onions. It was delicious! Sometimes I even make a salad.

Breakfast can be another opportunity to sneak in vegetables. Mostly on weekends, I add sliced avocado or a grilled tomato to my breakfast of eggs and sausage or bacon, or fry a vegetable hash of potatoes (pre-cooked in the microwave), red and/or green peppers and of course onion. During the week I will sometimes eat leftovers for breakfast that contain vegetables.

There are days when I just start to fry an onion and then throw in some chopped vegetables, whatever I have in the house, to create a main or side dish. It always seems to turn out alright, whether I add celery and carrots, or broccoli and mushrooms, or zucchini. Eggplant, ochra and bitter melon don’t lend themselves quite so well to this method. But even shredded cabbage works!

I’ve also learned that it is relatively easy to grill vegetables. Simply brush them with oil and put them in the oven. I like to use my toaster oven. A few weeks ago I did this with brussel sprouts and they were amazing. Zucchini and asparagus work well too.

When I go to a restaurant I try and incorporate a salad into my meal. This is a time when I take advantage of having selection. Or, at the least, I will choose steamed vegetables with my main course. There is a place that serves an amazing grilled salmon salad with roasted asparagus and almonds. I have this regularly. Another thing we do is always order a vegetable dish when we have Chinese food.

I know how much better I feel if half of my food intake consists of vegetables, according to current dietary recommendations. I have not reached my ideal and I don’t know if I ever will. But, as I said, every bit counts. Even just two bites per meal.


Posted in Food, Health

6 Things You Can Do to Keep From Getting the Flu

Vit CWe all know how miserable it feels to have a cold, or the flu. The flu shot is supposed to be the answer, but I have talked to a lot of people who had the shot and still got sick. Over time I have come up with a few things that help me to keep from getting the flu.

1. Maintain a healthy diet that includes leafy green vegetables, daily if possible. Cut back on sweets and empty carbs and drink water regularly throughout the day to stay hydrated.

2. When you feel your feet getting cold, warm them. It’s true. Clammy feet seem to be an indicator of the start of a cold. I find the same is true if the roof of my mouth is cold. If wearing layers or wrapping yourself in a blanket isn’t enough, a hot drink and a heated bean bag or a heating pad should do the trick.

3. You’ve been told it a million times, but here it is again. Get enough rest. Take a nap if you feel tired. Go to bed earlier than usual if you are fatigued.

4. One of the most important things I am very diligent about is hand washing. I think we have been missing an important piece of information when it comes to hand washing. Germs on our hands don’t really seem to be a problem unless the germs somehow get into our system. For years I would get sick after going shopping. While I was out I would have a muffin or a cinnamon roll. When I stopped picking up my food with unwashed hands, I stopped getting sick. If you think about it, touching clothing items, or door handles or even shaking hands can communicate a lot of germs. Try it and see if it makes a difference.

5. Slow down. Don’t push yourself to do everything that normally needs doing if you are feeling drained. It could be that your body is telling you it is needing some of your energy to fight off sickness.

6. Pop a 500mg or even a 1000mg Vitamin C tablet as soon as you get that scratchy feeling at the back of your throat. Take it with water, every four hours, until the feeling starts to go away. I often find I need to take one at bedtime and by morning I feel fine. If you chew the tablet you should probably brush your teeth later because the acid can be hard on your enamel.

I’d love to hear from you if you find that any of these tricks I have picked up make a difference for you. Stay healthy!