Support Tuesday, Nov 29 2022 

Dig in,

and brace yourself.

Learn from those who know more.

Then be part of the system of

support.

(Tree Roots on Cliff, Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby, IL)

***The holidays are exhausting for those of us in the best of health. Protect your loved ones with dementia from fatigue that will result in frustration for them and you by limiting time out of the home and the amount of people for them to interact with. See more helpful hints in my books Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Inspired Caregiving. And please, if you’ve read any of my books, please write a short review on Amazon. I’d greatly appreciate it.

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.

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.

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.

Magnificent Mandevilla Tuesday, Jul 5 2022 

Dipladenia or Mandevilla? I received a stunning, tall plant with brightly colored trumpet-shaped flowers for Mother’s Day from my son and daughter-in-law.  The plant was tagged “Mandevilla.” I loved it so much that I bought a second tall one and a small one in a pot.

I later noticed the small one was labeled dipladenia. With a little research, I found that dipladenia is a type of mandevilla. However, the taller variation is simply noted as mandevilla.

Mandevilla plants are evergreen, tropical vines, commonly known as Funnel Flowers or Rock Trumpets and bloom from June to October. They can be grown as annuals or perennials. Those typically noted as mandevilla crawl upwards to 16.4 feet. They have larger flowers and broader shaped leaves than dipladenia.

Dipladenia belong to the mandevilla genus. The plant grows bushy with downward growth rather than upward and vine-like. The leaves are fine, pointed, deep green, and slightly glossy. Dipladenia grow well in containers and hanging baskets.

All mandevilla plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and well-drained, moist soil. They may be grown in or outdoors. If grown indoors, the plants should be kept warm and watered deeply and thoroughly about every 8-10 days. Plants do best when dead and damaged leaves and blossoms are removed. They also may also be trimmed to maintain a desired shape.

Hummingbirds and bees are attracted to the enticing blossoms of these beautiful plants. So, not only do we enjoy the flowers in our gardens, but we also have the birds and bees to watch, as well.

I’ve read that dipladenias are easy to propagate and will try to do so myself. Instructions say to cut a short length of healthy vine and remove the lower leaves. The cutting is then to be planted in a free-draining potting mix and placed in a bright, warm spot. The soil should be moist but not too wet or it will develop root rot.

If plants become infected with spider mites or aphids, the leaves may be wiped gently with a cotton swab and neem oil. 

Mandevillas are toxic to humans and pets.

* Information for this post was gathered from Plantophiles, Gardening Know How

*Peace begins within us. See Grieving with Mary, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, and Fatima at 100. Fatima Today.

The Book of Which I’m Most Proud Tuesday, Jun 14 2022 

A question I’ve been asked over the years is which of the books that I’ve written is my favorite. This is a question that is as impossible to answer as which child is my favorite. Each book is special to me. I’m proud of all of all of them for different reasons.

Each was written with an intent to fill a need. Each book was sent out into the world with a mission to offer information and consolation to a particular audience. Most have won awards and sold consistently well over the years. And now I’m very excited about a new book coming out this year, which I will tell you about at the end of this post.

Mentoring Heroes was my first book. Published in 2000, this book centered on my recognition through newspaper articles I’d written that successful people attributed their progress to the mentors who helped them along the way. I also recognized that women’s lives are complicated and multi-layered with family, household, and work responsibilities, and therefore, more challenging in finding ways in which to be mentored. Mentoring Heroes was widely used in university Women Studies programs and by clubs and groups. Today, I know that the book is dated in the way that it was printed–with copper plates and blue-line editing as opposed to today’s digital print method–and due to men participating more in household responsibilities and technology offering more ways in which to be mentored. Yet, the overall benefits and need for mentoring remains relevant.

The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, Grieving with Mary, and Fatima at 100. Fatima Today were inspired by a devotion to the Virgin Mary. These were the types of books I wanted to write since childhood. Praying with Mary should always lead to a greater devotion to her son, Jesus. Mary is our heavenly mother, and like a good mother, she loves us dearly, promotes peace among all creation, and encourages us to care for one another as Jesus does. Praying with her offers a sense of calm in a world where this type of alliance is greatly needed.

With the The Rosary Prayer by Prayer readers can pray along simply by following pages showing the placement on the rosary, the prayer to be prayed, illustrations by Joseph Cannella, and a reflection. Grieving with Mary is a best-seller that aligns praying with Mary in a wide variety of ways during times of loss. And Fatima at 100. Fatima Today is a little booklet that reviews Mary’s messages in Fatima, Portugal in 1917 and how those messages remain vital in attaining peace.

Seven Principles of Sainthood Following Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God are books about a woman who immigrated to the United States to teach children and young woman. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, also known as Saint Theodora, and a small group of sisters opened schools throughout rural Indiana and Illinois in the mid to late 1800s, a time when Catholic schools were greatly needed and in which this band of women faced great obstacles. The sisters also opened a school for the higher education of women when women had little-to-no choice for such an opportunity. Seven Principles was written for adults and Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God was written for children. I was inspired to write these books after attending Saint Mary of the Woods College, the school Saint Mother Theodore founded, as well as her canonization in Rome, Italy.

Young in the Spirit was published in 2013 when I was closing in on one of those big decade birthdays (I was 60 in 2014-Yikes!). Big birthdays spark contemplation on where we came from, how we arrived at a particular point in time, and where we anticipate the future to bring us. One of the areas of contemplation for me was in regard to my faith—how it changed through the years and what I could offer the Church now. Those thoughts are at the heart of Young in the Spirit.

Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated by The Message was part of a series initiated by my publisher, Greg Pierce. The series offers a unique way to promote prayer by pairing Scripture verses with passages from classic writings. I chose Hans Christian Andersen in remembrance of my mother and her childhood book, a 1936 edition of Anderson’s Fairy Tales, the same book from which my mother read to me.

Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Inspired Caregiving was born from a need recognized by Pam Sebern, the director of a memory care home where my husband resided in his last years. Pam asked for books to help families understand dementia and better care for their loved ones while caring for themselves along the way. She felt that the books available at that time were too medical and needed a perspective from one who lived the experience. As my husband suffered from symptoms from Alzheimer’s disease for more than 15 years, and I was an author with substantial writing experience, Pam believed I could fulfill that need.

Navigating Alzheimer’s covers the basics of Alzheimer’s and ways in which we can work with our loved one. It offers family members and caregivers a clear overall of the changes they’re likely to notice. The Alzheimer’s Spouse also covers the basics of the disease but from the perspective of the spouse. Alzheimer’s touches every aspect of both spouses in devastating ways. Inspired Caregiving provides readers with a daily/weekly boost of inspiration. Each weekly reflection follows a rotation that includes a photo, prayer, thought, activity, stretch, affirmation, quote, and bit of humor to offer guidance, encouragement, improved self-talk, and maybe a smile. All three of these books are recommended by memory care facilities across the country.  

My next book, which currently is in publication, is less serious. I believe readers and I are in need of opportunities that promote peace, beauty, love, and inspiration. For this reason, my newest book, tentatively called The Gifts of Public Gardens, showcases vivid photos of nature that I have taken at public gardens paired with short, thoughtful poems. My intent is for readers to escape into the positive, wonderous gifts around us. I will keep you posted on when this book will be available.

If you’ve read any of my books, please post a review on Amazon. Readers rely on these comments to find books best suited to their needs.

Tulip Timing is Everything Thursday, May 5 2022 

Have you ever experienced a time when everything you did turned out perfectly? You set out for an adventure, and with each step, you happened to be at the most opportune moment for the ultimate outcome. Everything you hoped for fell right into place.

Well, this week, my boyfriend and I went on a quick three-day get-away, and most everything we experienced, wasn’t that. In fact, the trip was quite disappointing.

Paul and I drove about three and a half hours to Holland, Michigan, a sweet little town on the east side of Lake Michigan. The plan was to enjoy the views and experiences of Holland a few days before their annual tulip festival. We imagined discovering a tulip haven, a mini paradise with tulips growing everywhere prior to the expected crowds.

We arrived late afternoon on Monday and checked into the Staybridge Suites on James Street. The hotel was very nice with friendly, accommodating staff. We had a full kitchen with counter seating, a sitting room, and a comfortable bed. The price was reasonable as our reservation was a bit off-season, and they offered a military discount. So far, so good.

We unpacked and went out to find a restaurant. Initially, we only spotted fast-food chains, which rarely are our food of choice. Google showed most of the local restaurants to be on a main strip, but with so many one-way streets, it was tricky to get there. We could see where we wanted to go but had difficulty figuring out how to get there. Later, we learned that U-turns are a thing in Michigan for just this reason.

When we arrived at the four-block downtown area on 8th Street, our next challenge was to search for a parking lot that had an open spot that wasn’t reserved. After touring several of the area’s public lots, we finally found a space and walked over to a lovely street with trees in bloom and attractive shops.

Restaurants were scattered throughout. To our dismay, they were closed on Mondays. At the end of the downtown area, we found an Irish Pub that was open. Damp and chilled from the drizzling rain, tired, and very hungry having only eaten snacks all day, we got a comfy table by the fireplace. A friendly waitress served us a couple of beers and a delicious, hearty dinner of Irish stew for me and shepherd’s pie for Paul. Rejuvenated, we were ready to go again.

Since tulips were the reason we ventured to Holland, we headed out to the main parks. We expected the town to be decked out in the blooms. Surprisingly, few homes showcased them. More tulips are blooming in my own neighborhood.

The main location to see tulips in Holland is Windmill Island Gardens. Unfortunately, we arrived a few minutes after 5pm and were told that the last tickets for the day were sold. The ticket vendor said that we could come back after 6pm when the windmill closed (a key viewing spot) and wander through the gardens. However, she added there was little to see. Because of the unusually cold and rainy weather, only about 25% of the tulips were open.

The lady suggested we check out a nearby park called Window on the Waterfront that had more open buds. The tulip photos shown here were taken at that park. The location claims 100,000 tulips. The winding paths were pretty, but it was difficult to take a photo that didn’t include the cars and buildings on the streets surrounding it. And much like Windmill Island Gardens, the majority of tulips were yet to open.

We woke Tuesday morning to heavy rain, and the forecast stated it would continue like that all day. We searched online for museums only to find ones of interest were not open. We did try one that some online information indicated was open. After running through a downpour from the lot behind the building to the museum door in front, we discovered it was closed until Friday.

Soaked and frustrated, we decided to pack up and return home. Paul was just getting over a bad cold, and the weather was not good for him especially. Plus, I had a work event to attend on Thursday and a meeting on Friday.

The drive home took us two extra hours due to the weather and a truck accident, which thankfully, did not include us. We crawled in traffic long enough for me to read through my hundreds of emails.

In retrospect, we should have done more research on the sites and restaurants in Holland, their hours and days of operation as well as ticket prices, and considered the weather forecast. We also could have checked this online tulip tracker to learn how many flowers were currently in bloom. No doubt, the parks will be beautiful next week.

Holland wasn’t what we expected but probably is a good destination for young families. The beaches along Lake Macatawa are said to be clean and fun. There also are some activities, such as the wooden shoe factory and Nelis’ Dutch Village, a cute, albeit small, Dutch-themed park that young children would enjoy.

Do you have any advice on where to or not to go for a little getaway? I’d love to hear about it.

***

Alzheimer’s disease is frighteningly common. Help out your friends who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Give them the gift of information and understanding with the books, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Navigating Alzheimer’s, and the Inspired Caregiver.

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