Saturday, November 21, 2015

Caring for the Elderly by Sandra Kent

My mom will be 94 years old in December. People say she looks seventy. She has never dyed her hair and I think it still looks healthy.  She has a spark in her eye that says I've lived a good life.  I had a husband who loved me with three children to raise.  She adores her two grandsons who are now in their twenties.

 She is in a facility that gives her 24 hour health care. She has taken good care of her body most of her life and has never had a serious illness.  But when your body is almost ninety four years old it's going to hurt.  The doctor says her heart is still doing fine. Her mom's heart was the same way.  I say it's the Scottish side of the family.  The McPherson's live a long life.

The question is how to make her feel comfortable?  She doesn't like taking pills.  So when she got an infection a shot was the best solution.  The pain pills make her loopy.  She always did crossword puzzles to keep her mind sharp.  She tries to go down to the dining room for her meals.
The meals are the highlight of her day.  There's a backdrop of Texas Cowboys herding cows to eat by .Fort Worth is part of  wild west history.    She sits with her roommate who is from Bosnia.  She doesn't speak English but she has the warmest smile.  I feel I know her intimately even though we have only exchanged small words like," Hi how are you doing?"  She says," thank you," if I give her a treat.  I have no idea what she has lived through but she is nice to my mom and that's important to me.

They share a common window to let the sunlight in.  The cactus is always blooming with an amazing pop of yellow.  Her pink and black teapot that matched her kitchen is a reminder of her home with green leaves growing in the water.  I grabbed the pot from her windowsill kitchen window.  It overlooked a wire for hanging laundry.  Stay at home moms hung the sheets to dry to save electricity.  Every penny was important.   Her home was built in 1956 the year I was born.  It was a time in the United States where children could play in the street and cars would stop for a game of kickball.  I brought her a McDonald's Happy Meal one day and she saved the toy from the box.  Little things bring her joy.   My mom's bed is the closest to the window so she has a view of a beautiful courtyard.

When I visit I stroll her around the halls with her wheelchair.  There are sights to see like yellow canaries in their nest.
They come out to say tweet, tweet.
Little things break the monotony.  Bingo is another favorite thing to do.  Now I point to the numbers and she puts the marker.  Lately she says I can't make it today.  She lies in her bed and listens to her roommates TV.
When I come to visit she always mentions the photographs on the wall.  They are a reminder of her past.  My favorite photo is the black and white one of my mom with a backdrop of white Oklahoma Snow.  She looked beautiful with her dark hair and hazel eyes.  She remembers things like the Chatty Kathy doll I had as a child. She says it's still on the top shelf in your bedroom.  I think why does she always mention the doll when I talk to her on the phone or come to see her?  Maybe it's a way of remembering the times she raised her children.  She's a link to the past.  

As Thanksgiving approaches there will be many loved ones being cared for by facilities. My mom wants to see her home one more time so on Thanksgiving the plan was to pick her up and take her there.  But when I called today she said I don't think I can make it.  Her body is fragile  with age.  She doesn't want to get hurt.   Life is fragile.  Every day on earth is a gift from God.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson, Texas

The Cottonwood Art Festival is an art lovers tradition located north of Dallas in a community called Richardson.  It is rated as one of the top art festivals in the United States and a jewel for North Texas. It feels like a neighborhood festival with so many people bringing their dogs for a stroll or their children in the stroller viewing the colors from a child's perspective.  There's a lot of stimulus for the young and old because 240 artists from areas all over the United States come to share their creativity.
The competition is fierce for artists to even show their talent because they compete with 800 submissions.   A jury decides who comes to the Cottonwood Art Festival.  The artists compete in several categories: 2D Mixed Media, 3D Mixed Media, Ceramics, Digital, Drawings, Pastels, Fiber, Glass , Jewelry, Leather, Metalwork, Painting, Photography, Sculpture and Wood.

 It's located in a beautiful North Texas setting on a canal of water.
Ducks are swimming as if to say come and enjoy the creativity of minds.  It's a river of art waiting to be explored.
The first artist that caught my eye does wonderful things with the medium of clay and color. Randy O'Brien  finds pleasure in exploring infinite possibilities in ceramics.

  He has done thousands of clay tests to achieve his goal.  He melts different materials at different temperatures to achieve his results.  
The glazes he uses takes his work a step further from a 2 dimensional surface to a 3 dimensional surface.  

Elizabeth Dunlap awakens the soul as she uses glass and metal to create sculptures of art.  
A combination of steel, aluminum, copper, brass,and bronze are her canvas for sculptures she creates.  
 Glass is the main focus of her creations because it acts like a backdrop to color.  Her pieces sparkle with individuality and luminescence.  Love and light are her goal as each person takes home a piece of energy.
Time clicks as Martin Design Works creates artistic expressions of time passing through space.  Martin works with his wife to display a gallery of wall clock art.  Although Martin repeats styles they are never exactly the same.  His color palette varies with the time piece.  I  loved it so much I bought the wall art for my husband to celebrate his 35 years with the same company.  
Creative art sparkles with colors of the rainbow as you stroll the lanes of Cottonwood Art Festival.
Thank you Cottonwood Festival Volunteers who help sponsor a wonderful event each year.
Artists pack up at the end of the day of creative expression.  It's time to carefully pack each precious item so the next festival will be successful.  

Monday, September 28, 2015

Super Blood Moon Eclipse Sept. 27 to 28

Super Blood Moon Eclipse

The world unites as eyes look up to the sky.
People talk it's special
It's a family event as binoculars point to the sky
I hear neighbors chatter in the distance.
Look, I see the moon is changing.
It's a rare event
The next time this happens is 2033

I remember when our world turned 2000 AD
My sons were 10 and 9
I visualize the table of party hats and sparkle confetti
The anticipation as the countdown started
People feared the computers would stop

September 27 and 28 feels like that
A countdown to something that doesn't happen very often
Some say it's a warning
Keep our earth safe
Some say if you look at past events
The Timeline says there's a change in history

Our hearts cry out;
Dear God  let famine stop
Dear God let disease stop
Dear God let poverty stop
Dear God let war stop

We all want peace
We all want a home
We all want a family we can call our own
We all want love
We all want a place to call home

It's the Northern Hemispheres's Harvest Moon or Full Moon nearest the September equinox.  It's the Southern Hemisphere's first full moon of spring.  The full or harvest moon is also called Blood Moon because it presents the 4th and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad or four straight total eclipses of the moon spaced apart at six month intervals or full moons.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Advancing Hubbard Glacier Viewed From The Celebrity

On our Celebrity Millennium Alaskan Cruise this summer we saw the fastest moving glacier in Alaska, the Hubbard Glacier.   Nasa says it has been  growing or advancing into Disenchantment Bay for 100 years.  The thickening of the Hubbard is bucking the worldwide trend of shrinking glaciers.

The loud speaker came on to announce our ship is close to the fast approaching glacier. It is 76 miles wide and plunges 1,200 feet into the depths of the Disenchantment Bay.

With anticipation the guests awaited as the fog lifted to unveil the massive chunks of flowing ice.
It was as if a mighty force blew and the clouds vanished.

We started to get a closer look.  It is 300 feet above sea level.

We passed floating chunks of ice.
We passed beautiful green mountains with ice carving out valleys.  It's home to brown bears, moose and black tailed deer.
We were watching for seals, whales and otters catching fish in the cold ocean waters.
The sun came out and reflected  the outline of majestic lush green mountains.
Finally we saw the massive Hubbard Glacier with blue hues of color.

Captain Kostas was so excited he invited the crew to join the guests to see the glorious sight.  He said this is the best view he has seen in a while.

  Hubbard Glacier originates in the Saint Elias Mountains in Canada and flows a 76 miles, ending in Yakutat Bay in Alaska.
It takes 400 years for the ice to traverse the length of the glacier so the ice at the foot is about 400 years old.
The Hubbard Glacier calves off icebergs the size of a ten story building. Calving is when the ice breaks off.   It was dramatic to watch the ice fall into the cold ocean waters.  Ships must keep their distance for safety.
It seemed Captain Kostas was so thrilled with the weather cooperating we stayed a little longer so everyone could take a great photo.   It felt the Millennium was doing donuts in the waters.
Everyone was out taking photographs.  Some had elaborate lenses to capture the beauty.
All generations appreciated the wonderful sight.  It was as if nature united everyone.

My family and I will cherish the memory.  Thank you Captain Kostas for guiding the ship and keeping us safe.  
In May 1986 the Hubbard Glacier surged forward blocking the outlet of Russel Fjord and creating Russel Lake.  All that summer the new lake filled with runoff so its water level rose 82 feet or 25 meters.  At around midnight the dam began to give way,  Water gushed through the gap and caused the second  largest glacier lake outburst flood in recorded history.  It was the force of water flow of 35 Niagara Falls.  It shows the force of power water and ice can have.  
People lingered to cherish the act of nature.  
It was time to say goodbye.
As the mighty Millennium left a wake of white bubbles to say we were here.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Salmon Fishing in Ketchican, Alaska

It was a glorious day of salmon fishing on the bay of Knudson Landing in Ketchican, Alaska.

Tony greeted us with a friendly hello.  Instantly I knew he was the perfect sea captain, guiding us with every step of our adventure.
He had been fishing for thirty seven years and was the age of my husband. They had a common bond of same month and year  Fish -n- Fun was the name of the boat to guide us in Alaskan waters. He had the latest gear of finding where the fish was located.

The depth of the ocean went to 184 feet,  The orange spots told the boat where the fish was located.  
He gave us a lesson about what not to do.  I quickly made the decision to let my two sons and husband do all the fishing.  
He told of a time a guest got caught with their hand in the reel.   It was a bloody mess.  He said you just have to treat it with respect.  He guided the boat with a remote control in the back.  
I was glad to find that out as no one was steering the boat at the helm.
It was time to bate the hook of krill.  
He gave expert instructions how to cast the reel.  It was important  to let the drag out to loosen the tension.  A mechanism on the gear controls how much leeway the fish has to bite.  
The ball of metal or weight allows the line to be stable.  It acts like an anchor for the bate.  
The equipment on the reel showed the proper amount of line to be let out. 
The same was done for all four fishing lines.  It was now time to wait and see where the fish were biting.
We waited to see the pole moving back and forth.  
Alex, our oldest got the first bite.  He grabbed the reel to pull up tight.  The skill is to snag the fish without letting it go.  Tony was ready with the net to make sure it was not lost.  

It was a beautiful Pink Salmon We'll ship it home says Tony.  Okay says my husband as the thrill of the first catch went through the bones on everyone on board.  
It was time for my husband to have a nibble.  But in Alaska it's not just a nibble but a big bite.  The battle between fish and man started and Jim pulled hard.  His muscles turned the round device as his arms pulled up to master the fishes movements.  The fish fought hard but couldn't over come the mighty pull of the line against his fins.  
The struggle was worth the fight because we landed a large Pink Salmon.
Now it was time to re-bait the hook and try again.

Michael cast out his reel to the ripples of ocean water. 
Michael got a bite and the battle was on.

Michael caught the largest Pink Salmon of all.  

Tony got the bait ready for more catches.
More were caught.  

Alex and Michael imitated Tony and started to use the net to capture fish.

Michael and Alex kept catching more fish.
There were times of waiting as we watched other boats.
Each became more confident as the expertise flowed.

I caught another one.  
It's time to set home.  It was a glorious day of fishing.  
We saw a butterfly in the middle of the ocean waters.  I said every time you see a butterfly you can say, God loves you.  

It was an amazing day of working together for a common catch.
We got to shore and counted 19 Pink Salmon.