The Grand Canyon

Well, I did it!  I made it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the back of a mule.  Yes, I rode a mule down to Phantom Ranch, along with Wynn and a good friend of ours, Jake.  My mule was called "Sassy", Wynn's was called "Able" and Jake's was called "Charlotte". 

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We rode the Bright Angel trail on the way down.  It is 5 1/2 miles long and took us about 5  1/2 hours to do.  We stopped at a place called "Indian Gardens" on the way down and were given a simple box lunch.  There were also several other stops to quickly dismount and either go to the bathroom or just stretch our legs; but not for very long. Our trail guides, Mattie and Alison kept us moving.

The scenery was just as you would imagine, fantastic.  It was a little scary for people who were afraid of heights; but I loved it.  To add to my excitement, Sassy liked to walk on the outer edge of the trail.  We didn't take pictures on the way down as they told us there would be lots of opportunities when we travelled back up, the next day.  The reason we were given was that the mules would be needing to stop and catch their breath a lot.  The mules are very well trained and fit but it is quite a workout, nonetheless.

When we reached the bottom of the canyon, we had to cross the Colorado river.  We went through a tunnel first and then across the bridge.  On the other side we rode another 10 minutes to Phantom Ranch.

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We stayed in a cozy, little cabin, complete with a bathroom. 

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We arrived about 2:30 p.m. and were told to walk a lot, enjoy the scenery, etc.  They did not want us to be stiff the next morning.  We were all a little saddle sore, to be sure.  But Wynn and I did walk, when we got our land legs back.  LOL!!  This was one of the walking trails at Phantom Ranch.  It follows the    River that runs into the Colorado River.

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In the evening, we were fed a steak dinner complete with all the trimmings and chocolate cake.  Breakfast the next morning was at 7:00 a.m., and we had the works, bacon and eggs, sausage, toast, waffles, orange juice, coffee, etc.

We were saddled up and ready to go at 8:00 a.m. on the journey back up, this time following the Kaibob trail.  This trail is 7 1/2 miles long and it takes 5 1/2 hours with the many stops for the mules, no lunch this time.  Each stop gave us plenty of opportunity to take pictures.  Here are a few for you to enjoy.  You will see the Colrado river and some of the trails that we travelled.

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Our trail guide, Alyson, leading the pack of 7.

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At the end is Mattie, our other trail guide.  I am behind Alyson and Wynn (with just his nose showing, LOL) was behind me; then, our friend, Jake.

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On our way back up to the top, we saw a pack of mules taking supplies down to Phantom Ranch.  Everything that the ranch needs is taken in by mules and all garbage, recycling, etc, is brought back out by mules.  Take a look at the dust and you can just imagine how fast they were travelling.  We just couldn't believe how those mules could stay on the trail at that speed; but they do.  Everyday, there make a trip down and a trip back up.  Trust me, our mules did not do anything but walk.  Thank goodness!

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This was just the grandest ride ever, the benefit being that you get to see the Grand Canyon from a very unique perpective - astride a mule!  We are now official members of the renowned "Order of the Master Mule Skinners of the Grand Canyon Trails".

 


The Wonders of Coconut Oil

Did you know that 30 % of our daily nutritional intake should be made up of fats or oil?   Many of you probably know the benefits of olive oil; however, you should not really cook with it.  So, along comes coconut oil.  After receiving such a bad rap for years, it is now proving to be one of the healthiest oils you can consume and a very good one to cook with.  It is such a great oil to cook with because of it's high burning properties.

A while back I wrote about liking my butter; but it is high in saturated fat.  Coconut oil is also high in saturated fat.  Saturated fat is bad for you, right?  Yes and no. Current research has shown that not all saturated fats are alike.  Saturated fat is a vital ingredient for a healthy body. The saturated fat in coconut oil is good for your health; while the saturated fat in butter is not good for you and should be avoided or at the very least used in moderation.  What makes the difference?  Coconut oil is unique in its structural make-up.  It is not only the highest source of saturated  fats (92%); but, included in this,is the highest source of saturated Medium Chain Triglycerides 62%) of any naturally occurring vegan food source.  Furthermore around 50% of these MCT’s are made up of lauric acid, the most important   essential fatty acid in building and maintaining the body’s immune system.

 Research shows that cooking with coconut oil generally creates a more favorable HDL/LDL ratio.  This oil has antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiprotozoal properties  and, like all whole foods, contains nutrients for a healthy body.  Apart from coconut oil, the only other source of lauric acid found in such high concentrations is in mother’s milk.  Tropical oils and mother’s milk are by far the richest food sources of medium chain fatty acids.  The closest other source of these vital building blocks for our immune  system would be milk fat and coconut-butter comprising around 3% of its content. Any other vegetable oil is completely deficient in these medium chain fatty acids.  It should also be remembered that the negative research done on coconut oil in the past was the result of one study conducted four decades ago, using  hydrogenated oil (which has been processed and altered from its original form), not on virgin coconut oil.  Research shows that some saturated fat is in fact necessary for human health and modern research shows that the medium chain fatty acids help to increase metabolism and are more easily  digested than fats found in other oils. This is because they are processed directly in the liver and immediately converted into energy. There is therefore less strain on the liver, pancreas and digestive system and these MCFA provide the body with a wonderful, quick source of energy.  This wonder oil is truly the healthiest oil you  can consume. Being rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, coconut oil is  also classified as “functional food” because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content.  Some of its uses are for cosmetics and skin treatment.  Virgin  coconut oil is a natural healing oil and doesn’t remain in the blood  stream as other fats do‚ instead, it goes directly to the liver where it  is converted into energy.  It also enhances the boy's absorption of calcium and magnesium, elements that are crucial to healthy bones.

 It has no trans-fat that it helps to  promote normal platelet function and is very much recommended for those  who have heart disease. To keep our bones healthy and strong, we must ensure adequate nutrients  are absorbed within our bodies. Medium chain fatty acids assist the body with this process.   Virgin coconut oil contains fat, but has fewer calories than other fats  and does not cause the related weight gain that others do. The potential for weight gain from the consumption of virgin coconut oil is equivalent to that of  protein‚ something we consume regularly with no repercussions. Virgin coconut oil is a natural healing oil and doesn’t remain in the blood  stream as other fats do‚ instead, it goes directly to the liver where it  is converted into energy.

In fact, I have a jar in my bathroom as well as in my kitchen.  Why do I keep some in my bathroom?  Well, it is a wonderfully rich skin care oil that is readily  absorbed into the skin.  It helps to  reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Coconut oil will aid in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin  smoother.  Let me say from experience that you should use just a small amount.  A little goes a long way; besides if I put on too much, Chloe will lick it off. She loves the stuff and actually, it's good for her too!

Now, coconut oil does add a different flavour to foods.  In my opinion it is very good for cooking pancakes.  It is also delicious dribbled over popcorn and adding cinnamon.  Yum!  I have to admit Wynn doesn't like it, although my daughter, Tricia, does.  So give it a try; you might just like it. :)

I hope this post has not been too wordy for you.  I found it fascinating when I read about it. 

By the way, you can buy unflavoured coconut oil.

 


Home Again!

After 4 weeks in Uganda, it is good to be back home and see all my family and friends.  However, I find myself wondering what I should be doing with my life, now.  I keep thinking, if I were in Africa, I would be playing with the children or visiting with people, teachers, or even relaxing.  Here, I feel that I should be doing something and yet I don't know what.  Oh, I have a lot of things I could be doing and probably should, but it doesn't seem fulfilling. I look around and see all the stuff that I have and wonder what is it all for?  Why have I accumulated so much?  And yet, I know it is nothing compared to what some people have.  But I'm not really concerned with what other people have, so why, I ask myself again, do I have so much stuff?  Some of it does make my life easier and, dare I say, is almost necessary, in our culture.  We are so blessed and we have so much to be thankful for.  The question then becomes, Are we?  Are we thankful for what we have or are we always looking for more?  Am I a good steward of what I have been given?  Can I be content with what I have or will I seek more?  Does it make me happy?  Is that why I have so much stuff?  People in the area of Mityana and other villages have so little, and their lives are hard.  I think they would be shocked to see the amount of frivolous things that we spend our money on.  They spend their lives just making sure that they have enough food for their families and a shelter over their heads.  For many, it is a real strugggle to find extra to send their children to school.  We take so much for granted.  Many people in North America are in debt way over their heads.  There is an attitude of entitlement here, that we must have it now.  I'm not sure how I ended up in this discussion,  but I must find something worthwhile to spend the rest of my life doing and it can't be accumulation.  Looking in my china cabinet, I see that most of the special things it it, were bought on holidays.  Ahhhh! there is the answer!  No more travelling!  And I know what to do now - make dinner!! 


Uganda

I just realized that I have mentioned Uganda in one or two of my posts; but have not explained what is happening.  I am taking the opportunity to go a 3rd world country and bless the people there. I am traveling with another couple and will be joined by a second couple in the new year, Jan 2nd.

We are leaving on Dec. 24th and I will be returning on Jan. 21st.  We will be spending a day in London, England on the way over, Christmas day, in fact.  Then, we will arrive at Entebbe airport in Uganda on the 26th and spend the night and next day in Kampala, to buy supplies for the school and to bless the people.  Then, we will drive to Mityana, Uganda where we will be staying for the next 2 weeks.  I will be visiting the children of King's Kids school and will most likely be assisting the teachers.  I have been given permission to come into the classrooms and teach whenever. 

Then, we will be traveling to South Sudan, where we will spend a week among the people in a little village called Wakatujong.   We will also be visiting a leper colony and taking much needed supplies to them as well.  The last week will be spend back in Mityana and then I return home.

I know that this trip will be a stretch for me, emotionally, spiritually and physically.  But, I am looking forward to the challenge and growing in my awareness of what the great commission is really all about, to go into all the world and spread the message of God's love through Jesus.

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My vegan diet

Well, it has been a few weeks now into my vegan diet again.  I feel terrific, but I have lost 10 lbs.  Yeah!  some would say.  Not so for me.  I have lost it on my face and now it seems I have even more wrinkles than before!  Ugh!  So, what to do.  Get good quality products to plump up wrinkles?  Maybe!  Drink more water to hydrate my skin?  I'm already drinking about 2 litres a day.  That's enough visits to the bathroom!  Build more muscle weight to compensate?  Working on that.   

The funny thing about being on a vegan diet for me is I don't feel hungry.  My stomach shrinks, at least it must on the inside. I don't see evidence on the outside.  So, consequently, I don't eat enough and when I do I fill up quickly.   Aha!  I need a timer that tells me to eat often throughout the day.  I was carrying around energy bars or supposedly healthy food bars; but they are so high in sugar.  I'm going to have to work this out somehow, especially before I go to Uganda.  Apparently, people who go lose weight.  Yikes!

That's enough rambling for now.


A Vegan Lifestyle?

Well, yes, maybe!  I am considering being a vegan again.  Just recently, I found out that my cholesterol is high.  I have a fair to good range of HDL but my LDL is too high for the doctor's liking.  Apparently, because of family history, I am considered high risk for a heart attack or stroke.  It doesn't help that both of my carotid arteries are slightly clogged.  What's a girl to do? 

"Let's get you started on Lipitor." is my doctor's advice.  As you can imagine, if you know me, it was not received with much enthusiasm to say the least.  I did agree to try Niacin.  I am starting out small and have still not experienced any niacin flushes.  Thank goodness!

But, of course that is not enough.   I need to do something.  The first step is to exercise more.  I have been saying that I am going to do this for a very long time.  I start; but I am not faithful.  I need motivation; so I joined the gym, just around the corner from me.  Today, I worked on a machine similar to a stair stepper, only a little easier, she told me.  I lasted for 30 min, with a break every 10 min.  My knees were not happy;  but it was a start.

The 2nd step is, of course, my diet.  I think I eat pretty well; however, I do indulge more than not.  So, I am eating my last piece of pizza as I write this.  Then, I am going to try eating only vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds for a while.  I am thinking my body will thank me; if only I can wrap my mind around it!

 


Something about Nothing

I need to write more.  But often times, I sit and think!  What should I write about?  Coming up empty-handed many a time, I decided that today I would write something about nothing.  So here goes.  How do you do that?  Another dilema, but because it is about nothing, hey, I have nothing to lose.

Today it is hot; registering 31 degrees outside.  That is almost unbelievable weather for September and in B.C.  I remember when we came to Vancouver Island, approx. 8 yrs. ago; it took me 2 summers before I felt I could put on a pair of shorts. The weather was always a bit cool, it seemed. (even though some people wear shorts all year long out here).  Such a contrast to this year; it has been the best summer for lovely, hot weather.  That is, if you like it hot and I do. 

However, I am often not sure of what to do on days like this.  For one thing, I am not a gardener; I have tried and thought I would like it; but alas, I do not.  I do like to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  I tried to take the dog for a walk; but she wouldn't go.  Really, she planted her feet firm and was very happy when I turned around to come back home.  Now what?

I decided to ride my bike.  I could hear my dog voicing her disapproval at being left alone, as I pulled out.  I rode down town Sidney.  As long as I was moving, there was a bit of breeze.  But when I stopped and waited for traffic, (there are a lot of 4 way stops in Sidney) it was very hot, especially with the helmet on my head. Perhaps, I should have headed down Lochside Trail.  At any rate, I came back home, to the somewhat cooler temperature of my house.  Thank goodness for insulation.  I am enjoying a nice, cool glass of water and writing this post. 

Now, I am going to read. No cooking, baking today.  I think we shall have a nice, big salad.  Perhaps, my favourite kale recipe!!  Yum!

 So what is your weather like, today?  What do you do on a hot summer day?


Clutter! - indecision?

Clutter!  I imagine that everyone deals with this problem at one time or another.  However, the following quote made me stop and think about my clutter.

"Clutter is the manifestation of an inability to DECIDE."

So that's my problem, I can't decide where to put things and so they don't get put away.  Why?  I ask myself. Is it because I don't have a place for it; not usually, it's because I can't find the right spot.  Therein lies another problem for me.  There is no right or wrong spot; I just need to put it away for goodness sakes. I need to 'get a grip'.

I must admit, the same thing applies to my mind.  It is often cluttered with things that I just don't make a decision about because I am concerned that I might make the wrong decision.  Whose to say what is a right or wrong decision?  So I delay making any decision.  The next thing you know it is either too late, or the situation is worse all because of indecision at the time.

Why is it that I can't make decisions quickly and promptly?   What is the root of the problem?  Sometimes, it is because there are too many choices, but more likely than not, it is the FEAR of making the wrong decision.

I need to get over this; it's not the end of the world, if I make a wrong decision.  You just learn from the experience, apologise to anyone you’ve hurt, make a new decision and keep moving.  Actually, I need to be more concerned about not making a decision at all.

 So, I'm off to make some decisions!

Even writing this post has been a sign of indecision - should I say this or that?  Does it matter, it is my post and I should be able to say what I want.  But what do I want to say?  Does this sound right ' what about this, I aks myself.  Ugh!

 


Rejoice

Another dull and rainy day here in B.C. on Vancouver Island.  What do you make of it?   Well, you could stay in bed for the day, curl up and read a good book or bury your head in the sand.  Seriously, though, if you let it, the weather or any unhappy circumstance in your life could get you down.  You may begin to feel a "grump" coming on or at the very least want to complain.  That's how I started to feel this morning.  Fortunately, I caught myself right away and remembered that this is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. Immediately, I began to smile and even sing. I had a great day, working a few hours at the preschool.  Later in the day, I had my annual check-up at the cancer clinic and was declared "cured" by the oncologist, who said he doesn't need to see me anymore. I am overjoyed.  And, yes, it is still a dull day and raining, but not on my parade.


Epsom Salts

I found the following article by Melissa Breyer, Care 2 to be most interesting!


Most of us know about the importance of iron and calcium for our bodies, but what about magnesium? It is the second most abundant element in human cells and the fourth most important positively charged ion in the body. It helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.

Most of us are deficient in magnesium, so I’m going to put on my wise-granny hat here and tell you this: soaking in a bath with Epsom salt, which is high in magnesium, is one of the easiest ways to get a boost.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, American’s magnesium deficiency helps to account for high rates of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive maladies, stress-related illnesses, chronic fatigue and a number of other ailments. Who knew?!

Our magnesium levels have dropped by half in the last century due to changes in agriculture and diet. Industrial farming has depleted magnesium from soil and the typical American diet contains much less magnesium than that of our forefathers. And in fact, the modern American diet with its fat, sugar, salt and protein actually works to speed up the depletion of magnesium from our bodies.

Another factor in decreased magnesium levels has been our focus on getting enough calcium. It’s a delicate dance–calcium depletes magnesium yet calcium functions best when enough magnesium is present. Studies indicate that taking a calcium supplement without enough magnesium can increase the shortage of both nutrients. Researchers have found that many Americans have five times as much calcium as magnesium in their bodies, although the proper ratio for optimum absorption of both minerals is two to one.

With such widespread magnesium deficiency one might think that magnesium supplements would be called upon, but studies show that magnesium is not easily absorbed through the digestive tract. The presence of specific foods or drugs, certain medical conditions, and the chemistry of a person’s stomach acid can render magnesium supplements ineffective.

This brings us to Epsom salt. Known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath enriched with Epsom salt! Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants.

Researchers and physicians suggest these health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels, as listed on the web site of the Epsom Salt Industry Council:

  • Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
  • Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
  • Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
  • Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
  • Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
  • Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
  • Improved oxygen use.
  • Improved absorption of nutrients.
  • Improved formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.
  • Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.


All this from a bath? Hurray! While there are many different brands of Epsom salt, they are all the same product chemically, and can be found at most drug stores. Add two cups of Epsom salt and soak for at least 12 minutes. Do this three times weekly.

If you are pregnant or have any health concerns, please check with your doctor before using Epsom salts.