Turkey Truths Tuesday, Nov 22 2022 

The popularity of turkeys in North America came about in an interesting way. Turkeys are thought to have been domesticated more than 2,000 years ago in Pre-Columbian Mexico. In fact, turkey fossils found in southern United States and Mexico date back more than 5 million years.

During the 1500s, European explorers captured turkeys on our continent, brought them to Europe, and then later brought them back to North America in the 17th century. If you think about it, turkeys could have walked their way up north faster than journeying back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean to get here!

Following are a few turkey facts. Much of this data was gathered from the Farmer’s Almanac website. This site is an excellent resource for an array of fascinating articles on animal and plant life. You might want to check them out.

 

  • Male turkeys are called toms
  • Female turkeys are called hens.
  • Baby turkeys are called poults.
  • Male turkeys gobble to attract hens.
  • Females do not gobble. They make a clicking noise
  • Turkey eggs have an incubation period of 28 days.
  • Wild turkeys can be aggressive toward humans and pets in attempt to show pecking order.
  • Wild turkeys eat seeds, nuts, insects, and berries.
  • A wild turkey lives from three to four years. A domestic turkey lives about 26 weeks.
  • The bright red, loose skin on a turkey’s neck is called a wattle.
  • A group of wild turkeys is called a flock. A group of domesticated turkeys is called a rafter or gang.
  • Mature turkeys have approximately 3,500 feathers.
  • Turkeys are cable of making more than 20 distinct vocalizations.
  • Domesticated turkeys cannot fly, but wild turkeys can fly for short distances.
  • The bird’s gizzard helps break down food and other objects such as stones.
  • 46 million turkeys are sold for Thanksgiving
  • The ratio of white to dark meat on a turkey is typically 70 to 30.
  • The average person in the U. S. eats about 15 pounds of turkey in a year.

**Jesus’ mother Mary was an extraordinary woman who understands our human pain. If you ask, she will pray your prayers with you and guide you closer to her son. See the books Grieving with Mary, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, and Fatima at 100. Fatima Today.

Modified Holidays for Loved Ones with Dementia Monday, Nov 14 2022 

With the holidays approaching, all the fun and memorable events ahead present increased challenges for people with dementia. In addition, the darker days of fall and winter present other issues related to less sunshine. As many as 66% of people with dementia are thought to be affected by the setting of the sun. Beginning in the late afternoon, these people may show symptoms of confusion, anxiety, and aggression.

Families long for the traditions that mark the holidays. Special foods, music, colors, clothing, and decor shared with family and friends trigger emotions and tie memories of the past with the ones we make today. Sadly, our meaningful traditions are likely to be too much for our loved one with dementia. Including them can be more harmful and upsetting for them than enjoyable.

Brain power continues to diminish with dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. Every level of stimulation we present to someone with this disease requires them to manage it with less and less ability. Think of all the stimulation we have this time of year–holiday lights; aromas from the kitchen; rich foods; and music, laughter, and multiple simultaneous conversations. This stimulation overload is exhausting for the healthiest people much less those already fatigued from daily living.

Maintaining a predictable routine with limited, controlled stimulation, and periodic rest periods is the key to keeping a person with mid-to-late-stage Alzheimer’s and other dementias calm. Parties that include our loved one with dementia are best limited to a handful of people at a time, close to or at home, in a quiet location, and for no more than two to three hours including travel time. Small group visits throughout the season rather than everyone at one time may be the best alternative.

Family members who do not spend much time with our loved one are not likely able to understand the change in traditions, or that our loved one may not be able to attend their festivities at all. However, celebrations with a loved one with Alzheimer’s is often more difficult for them than memorable or meaningful and therefore, need to be modified or completely abandoned. If we truly love them, the impact of our festivities on them and how we may include them in a way that is good for them rather than appeasing our emotional needs will be our priority.

**For additional guidance on living with loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, see Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Inspired Caregiving.

Seasonal Gifts Wednesday, Nov 9 2022 

Here in the Midwest, the change of seasons, especially as autumn eases into winter, can bring us down. We must bid adieu to warm, sunny days, flora, and fauna knowing it will be many months before these joys return.

Most of the leaves have fallen and the blossoms have faded. We’ve said good-bye to our hummingbird friends. Squirrels are busy storing food for the barren winter. The wind blows louder.

But nature still has surprises for us to find.

Today I strolled through Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois and was delightfully surprised.

Purples, pinks, oranges, yellows, browns, reds, and greens. Flowers, leaves, and branches.

Birds singing, chattering. Wasps searching for the last drops of sweet nectar.

My heart soared with so many treats to the senses. The most exciting was finding fragrant roses in bloom.

The frost is coming. These lovely days are numbered.

But nature will always provide us with delights. All we have to do is seek them.

* Caring for a loved one with dementia? You are not alone. I know what you are going through. So do others. Ask for the help you need. Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Inspired Caregiving.

Point and Shoot Cameras Wednesday, Nov 2 2022 

Photography has been a passion of mine since I was about 12 years-old and got my first camera—a Brownie! I enjoy documenting events and travels through the eye of a camera. Photos also are an integral part of two of my books—Grieving with Mary and Inspired Caregiving and will be more so in my next book which should be published early 2023.

Digital cameras are significantly more economical over the old film cameras. Remember the days when you had to buy enough film to get you through an event, carry the film in your camera bag, reload the camera, and wait and pay for development only to find blurry photos, people with heads cut off, or bad lighting? I sure do appreciate having a good idea of what I’m shooting and can take as many photos as I want to achieve that one perfect photo without worrying about running out of film or the expense of all the film and developing.

I prefer point-and-shoot cameras because I don’t want to carry or handle multiple lenses. I have fibromyalgia and arthritis in my hands which makes me clumsy when handling small or delicate items.

For decades, my camera of choice was a Nikon. Last year, I purchased a Minolta because I couldn’t find an affordable Nikon camera with the options I was looking for. Unfortunately, that Minolta camera lasted only 13 months. It abruptly stopped working one day, a problem I’ve since discovered is common. I called Konica Minolta for a resolution but was told that the company sold the camera division in 2006. Minolta cameras are owned by someone else, and evidently, are not producing anything like the old Minoltas. I’ve sent Minolta camera company two messages through their website but haven’t received a response.

My newest camera is a Panasonic and seems to be working well for the money. We will see how long it lasts.

I’d love to hear your recommendations for a point-and-shoot camera and even what brands you wouldn’t recommend.

**First Photo was taken with the Minolta. Second Photo with the Panasonic Lumix.

***Books make great gifts. Is there someone on your list who would appreciate one that I’ve written? You can find all of my books on my website.

Good Listeners Wednesday, Oct 19 2022 

Good listeners are rare. In fact, I know few people I could award this title. I myself am lacking here.

We talk. But listening is another matter. We interrupt and interject. We walk away or hang up when someone says something we don’t want to hear.

Why do we do this when we don’t want others doing these things to us? We aren’t listening if we are talking. And when we talk over someone, we are saying that what we have to say is more important than what they are telling us. So many of our arguments could be avoided if we heard what actually is being said and we showed one another the respect to fully listen.

Effective communicators are engaged in a respectful exchange of thoughts. We listen in ways that we want to be heard. We then are able to learn from others and solve problems together.

Here are a few basic guidelines to better communications:

  • Don’t interrupt the speaker.
  • Rather than thinking of what we want to say next, concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
  • Don’t criticize or judge, especially before hearing the speaker’s whole story.
  • Maintain eye contact with the speaker.
  • Offer non-verbal cues that we are engaged, such as a periodical nod.
  • After the speaker has stopped speaking, paraphrase so we clearly understand what was said.

*Books make great gifts. Does your gift list include anyone who may find one of my books helpful such as Inspired Caregiving, Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Grieving with Mary, or The Rosary Prayer by Prayer?

Surprise Find Wednesday, Sep 28 2022 

One of my favorite activities is to walk in the midst of nature. Pathways along rivers, lakes, and ponds offer abundant opportunities to spot flora and fauna. Treasures are to be found everywhere we look–deer, woodpeckers, turtles, moss, fungi.

One “treasure” I hadn’t considered are snakes. On a recent walk, a six-year-old nature enthusiast pointed out several snakes along a pond and stream I’d otherwise be oblivious to. I’ll be looking more closely under the rocks, tree stumps, and in the waterways on these types of walks from now on.

Approximately 40 species of snakes slither through Illinois. Most snakes have no interest in harming humans–until humans start poking them, which in my opinion, is fair. Only four species are venomous: Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, found in the northern part of Illinois; and Copperhead, Cottonmouth, and Timber Rattlesnake, found in the Southern end of the state.

Our state’s venomous snake species are pit vipers and belong to the Viperdae family. Their distinguishable characteristics include their elliptical (vertical shaped) pupils, their large sensory heat-sensing pits on both sides of their heads between each eye and nostril, their broad, triangular shaped heads, and a single row of scales under the tail.

I honestly don’t know what type of snake I encountered on that walk. If you do, please tell us!

***Take care of yourself so you can better care for your loved ones. Suggestions on how to do that can be found in my book, Inspired Caregiving. Amazon has it at a bargain price right now.

Honey, I Love You! Wednesday, Aug 24 2022 

Nature feeds our bodies and our spirits. It provides us with beauty, interest, creativity, food, and medicine. So, when we look for solutions, why not look to nature first?

Such natural generosity is evident in the sticky, sweet syrup of honey. Amazingly, honey contains antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. When purchasing honey, look for a rich, dark color as the darker the honey the greater the antioxidant properties. Honey also has vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which vary according to the nectar source.

Countless claims contest to the healing effects of honey. Here are a few:

  • It’s said to release serotonin thereby increasing one’s mood. That serotonin converts to melatonin aiding in sleep.
  • Local honey is thought to assist in relieving seasonal allergies.
  • A spoonful of honey coats and soothes a sore throat and suppresses a cough.
  • Some believe in the effectiveness of honey dressings on minor burns and scrapes.
  • A solution of honey and warm water can be applied to the scalp to relieve itching and flaking.
  • In addition to drinking lots of water, honey may assist the liver in processing alcohol oxidation and ridding toxins from over-consumption of alcohol.
  • Raw, unprocessed honey may be applied as a mask to reduce the inflammation and redness associated with acne.
  • Honey is said to reduce irritation after an insect bit.
  • Honey may improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • It may even lower blood pressure.

According to WebMd, Manuka honey, which is produced only in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush, is considered particularly beneficial. The flavor is slightly more earthy than regular honey but this type of honey offers much more in the way of nutritional and antibacterial properties. In addition, it contains methylglyoxal (MGO) and hydrogen peroxide. It may be particularly beneficial for bacteria-related digestive disorders and wound healing. Bandages containing Manuka are available over-the-counter.

Research shows Manuka honey can stimulate tissue regeneration, reduce inflammation, and decrease swelling. Studies also show it to be helpful in treating gingivitis.

As with most things in life, with all the positives, there are a few factors to consider. Manuka honey is definitely pricier than regular honey. And all honey contains calories, although, most people believe it is sweeter than white sugar and so can be used in lower quantities. Also, some people can be allergic to the pollen and/or digestive enzymes from the bees.

Most importantly, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions parents not to introduce honey to children before the age of 1 year of age. Children’s underdeveloped immune systems make them vulnerable to botulism, a serious form of food poisoning. Incorporating honey in cooked food should be safe for children.

*See more at WebMD.

*Pray for world peace. We all will be better for it. The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, Grieving with Mary, Fatima at 100. Fatima Today.

*Thank you to all who have read my books, and especially, to those who have read and reviewed them on Amazon.

Great Midwest Weather Monday, Aug 15 2022 

Rarely, are we in the Midwest United States envied for our weather. We typically experience hot summers and cold winters. The change of seasons is fun to some extent. It is just that winters can be long, bitter, and dark when we have weeks with little sun.

However, our weather is currently perfect. Unlike much of the country (our coasts are hot and dry and south has had storms with flooding), the Chicago area is in the 70s/low 80s during the day with low humidity and pleasantly cool in the evening.

Also, we’ve had a good amount of rain, so our grass, shrubs, and trees are lush and green. The flowers, birds, and butterflies are in abundance. (Except for the rare occurrence of monarchs.) And fields are plentiful with fruits and vegetables.

I love the summer–the deep greens and lavish flora and fauna that surrounds us. The best part is that I can work on the patio surrounded by wee creatures coming and going. I find it inspiring, rejuvenating, and exhilarating.

*Photos: Black swallowtail butterfly, goldfinch, hydrangea, hummingbird.

*Take care of yourself while you take care of your family. Follow along with weekly photos, affirmations, prayers, suggestions for caring for yourself, and a little humor with my book, Inspired Caregiving.

Nature Speak Tuesday, Aug 9 2022 

The trees,

and shrubs

and grass

and wildflowers

The animals

and birds

and bugs

and fish

The rivers

and oceans

and mountains

and beaches

The wind

and rain

and sleet

and snow

The moon

and sun

and stars

and sky

Speak

in whispers

and shouts

and songs

and tears.

(Photo: Michigamme River, Channing, MI, 7/3/21

Photo and Poem by Mary K. Doyle)

*

**Do you know that I’ve written 11 books? You can find all of them on my website.

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