My Biggest Fear

Most of us, as we get older, harbor fears of our declining years. I don’t really mind the idea of growing old but I still have a few fears about it. My biggest fear is Dementia and Alzheimer disease. I took care of my father the last few years of his life (until the very end – he died at home as he requested). He suffered with dementia and the last year needed 24 hour supervision.

It may somehow still find me but about 5 years ago I started making choices and changes. They are doing so much research currently looking for drugs that will help and just as much on how our diet, style of living and habits affect our brain and how it ages.

There is a wealth of information available to us online. Do some research and reading; both are great for your brain. There are some things we can do, as simple as doing puzzles, to keep the grey matter exercising but physical exercising is important too. I won’t bore you with my physical exercise side of things but thought I would share a few of the ways I try to keep my brain healthy.

Changing hands. Lots of things we regularly do with one hand or the other without thinking about it. Make an effort to do it with the other hand and force your brain to create those new neural pathways. Practice writing with the other hand, brush your teeth or just holding your soup spoon in the other hand. If it is new or odd to you it is new to your brain. Something new forces our brains to add additional pathways for this new thing we are doing. Every little new-thing helps.

Doing my puzzles. I love Sudoku, can sit for hours doing them if I am not keeping track of time. I love to play with all kinds of puzzles. They are mini mental challenges. I do admit that I struggle with crosswords and wish I was better at them but they too are excellent brain food.

Learning a language. I started learning German in 2010 because I missed hearing my dad speak it. English was his second language. It is a familiar language to me even though I don’t know many words. I stopped for three years and picked it back up earlier last year using two wonderful language sites – Duolingo (free w/ads or premium w/o ads) and Babbel (who gives you a taster for free but any more costs a reasonable amount). I do a bit everyday but I will also (not every day but regularly) listen to German radio (online) or listen to German audio books and lessons.  I have also taken up learning a bit of Spanish on Duolingo. Being originally from California it is a language I grew up hearing and reminds me of my younger years.

dsc_2297Learning to play an instrument. This is something new to 2019. I received a guitar for my birthday several years ago (by request) and decided this is a good time to dig in my heels and get learning. Have only been at it a few weeks using Youtube as a teacher but hope to get myself to a few private lessons soon (once I toughen the tips of fingers on my left hand up. Don’t want to embarrass myself too much). 

MOOCs. Massive Open Online Classes. I have been enjoying learning using MOOCs for years Some I have finished and some I have not. Some I achieved with good standing and a few I barely made it through. No matter why you take a an online class, enjoy it and learn what you can, want or need to from it. I am registered with edX, FutureLearn, Coursera, Open Learn , Novoed and a few others. They all have something for you and they are for the majority of the classes they are free.

The list of things we can do, whether big or small, is endless and I will keep doing what I can, as often as I can and for as long as I can.  A lot of how well I grow old is my choice.

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An Adventure in Eco Bricks

Its in the news. It’s a new fad and as fads go I am not one to pay much attention to them unless they make sense or are useful.

Eco Bricks tick both those boxes for me. They have been in the news for some while. I have been watching but was giving my ability to reduce plastics without them a fair shot. I have reduced some by taking paper bags to put my veg in at the store, buying glass bottled anything over plastic bottled whatever (often paying a little extra for the decision) and more. It just doesn’t feel like enough and honestly it isn’t.

My biggest hold up on doing plastic eco bricks was – what to do with them. Seeing as I have no plans and not enough room in my house and garden to do building projects, who would I give them to. I did some research (more information is popping up regularly on the net to help guide us in our desire to stem the plastic flow) and had a lightbulb moment. Insulation!

I have an attic space and you can never have too much insulation. They would be under the current insulation which needs topping up anyway. They would not be load bearing lying flat because the wood sheets we walk on up there rest on the beams, not the insulation. It seems I have ticked my boxes and eco bricks, in our house, are all go.

_20190103_121452.JPGIf I do find somewhere that takes them for projects, I will gladly take them over or they can come pick them up.  So I have started my first brick roughly on the New Year. It is my test brick and it slowly filling up with everything from meat trays to candy bar wrappers. So far nothing has not fit with a little scissor work (even the black plastic toilet cleaner bottle (well rinsed of course) is in there now).

I have a dedicated kitchen bin for plastics or other non-recyclable items. I am rinsing out and drying off what needs it. Then when the mood strikes I spend a few minutes stuffing the bottle (which I also keep handy in the bin). Somethings might take a few extra minutes (ie black plastic bottles, plastic and Styrofoam/polystyrene trays etc) because they must be reduced in size to fit through the top but they are going in.

Any time invested is time my descendants deserve. I honestly question our ability as humans to remove plastics from our lives as far as it has imbedded itself in our day to day living. Maybe someday it will happen but in what is left of my lifetime, we can certainly find a way to put some serious control to its flow into our environment.

I have included a few of websites I read in reference to eco bricks but there are so many more available out there.

https://wasteaid.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/9-How-to-turn-mixed-plastic-waste-and-bottles-into-ecobricks-v1-mobile.pdf  A PDF from Wasteaid.

https://www.ecobricks.org/why/ Loads of information and articles.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0200574 I little more scientific but worth a skim if you like to know a bit more.

https://www.expertskiphire.co.uk/plastic-bricks A different kind of eco brick

 

Decorating for the Holiday

Some unexpected circumstances have attempted to put a damper on this holiday season. I was stricken with a temporary illness, a bad respiratory infection a few weeks ago. I am well on my way to recovering but my paycheck for December shall be dismal for my affliction.

Where I work, as with many companies, there is no pay for sick leave the first week and very little for any weeks to follow. Between feeling drained from the infection and dismal at the prospects of having the physical side (money) of Christmas more or less put on hold, I fretted about putting decorations up.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

We do not always put decorations up. When we haven’t it has still been a time of good spirit and frivolity. Christmas decorations do not make Christmas. It is the outlook and pleasure of being with those you love in thought and presence for me.

Last year I was genuinely looking forward to putting up decorations for our first Christmas in our new home but it was thwarted. Not by myself but by a colleague who decided to cause upheaval by going off on stress with the plan of taking the leave to find a new job and quitting before his leave was up at the start of the holiday season. Leaving those left to cover shifts often amounting to six days a week for many of us.

I was devastated. I had been forced to abandon my decorating for the Holiday because of my work hours. There was just no energy left in me. We did celebrate, my husband and I, but our first Christmas in our new home felt tainted by the spite of another. It was nothing more than spite toward management that caused all this grief.

It is one thing to choose to do or not to do something, it is another to be forced.

This current state of affairs is of no one’s blame but my own. (Last year was not really anyone’s fault but my own either to be honest. I allowed someone else’s actions to rule my mood and attitude.)

The only possible setback this year concerns money. Money is helpful in easing the way for things, true. Yet the spirit of the season is truly not dependent on any one solid thing. It is only dependent on one’s mind, heart and desires to create an atmosphere worthy of the holidays.

It is for that very reason that we spent a day moving the decorations down from the attic and several days finally getting them up. We may have to count our pennies (more than usual) this Holiday Season but I am determined not let that stand in the way of finding that special feeling and reveling in the spirit that this time of year brings.

African Violets

We moved into our new house a year and a half ago and over the last few months I have been rebuilding my indoor plants. I had to pass on my plants before the move because we would be in transit anywhere from six months on and I didn’t want them to suffer. I have been choosing plants based on air quality and maintenance so some of the varieties I have chosen are new to me.

A couple have been just good old favorites and one of those is African Violets. They can be tricky I am told but I seemed to have found a knack with them. Water when dry, find a spot they like and leave them (not too much sun), avoid touching them and always water from the bottom – those are the rules I was given, when I given my first one decades ago.  I no longer have those first ones (for various reasons) but I recently bought a new one and it is bursting in its pot.

I remembered a little article I had read years ago about using the leaves to start new plants and as I love trying new growing and gardening things. I looked around for more info on the net and have given this a try. The old instructions required a few more steps if I remember correctly but times have advanced or we just got lazier.

_20170710_065850-1Instructions:

Cut leaves with plenty of stalk on them.

Push into pot with well draining soil until the bottom of the leaf is touching soil.

Keep moist but don’t drown and ….

Wait.

My Patience seems to have paid off. One leaf has sprouted and there is another that still may but the two that are yellowing probably will not sprout. One out of four is still success!

Houseplants – An Investment in Health

I have recently been rebuilding my repertoire of house plants. We had a few in the house but they were just ones I had saved from demise at the hands of others. Some people do struggle with house plants for various reasons. I have found success by ignoring them (water wise) until they are on the edge of drooping. They also get the occasional cool temperature shower – it keeps the dust off them. This works for a majority and sems to keep them thriving.

My interest in house plants has always been aesthetic but more recently it has become a little health oriented. I read an article someone shared on facebook and did a bit of research. Certain species filter certain particles from the air, some plants filter more than others. So my choices have become more than just eye pleasing their presents is selected not only for looks but also for filtering. Bonus!

I have obtained from the list a few old favorites –

  • Boston Fern x3
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Peace Lilly
  • Dracaena

Still others I want to add to my home are a Snake Plant (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue), Aloe Vera, Spider plant and Heart-leaf Philodendron.  If we had a large lovely house with lots of space I would include a Weeping Fig tree and some Bamboo but alas my other half is not ready to move in to the shed.

Below are a few of website from a google search. As with any research I recommend reading a variety of sources (more than just two) to get a broader outlook on the information you are seeking.

Houseplants That Clean Air

Mother Nature Network – A Breathe of Fresh Air

NASA Clean Air Study

My ultimate goal is to have one or two different plants in each bedroom as well as a variety in the kitchen and living room. Love having a little nature indoors.

Found a London Gem

Yesterday on the way back from Camden Market (via the canal) to King’s Cross Station we came across an easily missed gem of nature. 
The Camley Street Natural Park (part of the London Wildlife trust) is like a little oasis in a sea of asphalt and cement.

I am not good at judging land areas but it is a few acres along the canal. Lots of benches to sit and relax under the trees. Places for young ones to hunt wild animal (bugs) and do activities. Lovely rough and natural. Even saw a turtle sunning himself on a patch of reeds.

If I lived nearby it here in Greater London I would make it a regular spot for relaxing with nature.

The New Shadow Selfie

DSC_0458 (2)   I am a bit camera shy, mainly because I always seem to screw up my face as the shutter opens. When I do selfies, I am identified as the head topped with white hair because I generally make sure only the top of my head is included.

Well we were at a steampunk weekend market in North Yorkshire and I discovered a new fashion selfie I feel totally comfortable with. The sun was out and my shadow gave a well set outline of myself. It was quiet the hit on Facebook with friends and family. I think they were tired of seeing just the top of my head in my selfies.