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.

Festive, Not Always Joyful, Holidays Wednesday, Dec 1 2021 

The merriest time of the year offers opportunities to celebrate the season with family and friends. Submerged in lights, décor, food, and drink, we toast to the bonds between one another and the hope of a bright approaching future.

But along with the festivities, we are painfully reminded of loss and hardship. Loved ones who no longer share a seat at the table, struggles with emotional or physical pain, differences and disagreements, and the trials and tribulations of a very complex and diverse world prompt raw, open wounds that can ooze more than usual in the midst of merriment. Few of us escape this life without such pain to some degree. I’ve been there myself on multiple levels and through many, many, many of my years.

Experiencing the painful emotions is natural and necessary, however, there are some ways in which we can ease the pain. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Focus on our blessings. Even in the darkest of nights, bright stars shine. Contemplate upon the good things we have, and give thanks for them.
  • Help those less fortunate. There are always people who have greater problems and fewer gifts. We can volunteer at a shelter and donate to organizations that assist those in need.
  • Reach out to a lonely neighbor. Be present to those who are alone and lonely.
  • Pray for those in physical or emotional pain. Prayer works. Shower others with the positive thoughts, words, and energy we can send.
  • Smile. Our mood changes when we smile. It’s such a simple little way to lift our spirit.
  • Remember and give thanks for the good times in the past. We focus so much on what was lost, but rarely do we look back with appreciation and gratitude.
  • Pamper ourselves. A luxurious bath with fragrant candles, a special treat of a chocolate, or a few minutes to savor the soothing warmth of a cup of soup or beverage can heal and rejuvenate.
  • Exercise. Exercising releases happy endorphins, loosens up the muscles, and gets that oxygen flowing.
  • Meditate. Concentrate on slow, even breaths while allowing your mind and body to relax and release the tensions of the day.
  • Remember that you aren’t alone. There are people all around you who will be there for you. You only need to call on them.
  • Read. Read books that offer hope and inspiration or an escape into a fictional world of fun.

*Grieving with Mary is my all-time best-selling book since it was first published in 2009. Perhaps you know someone who can identify with the suffering and yet trust of Jesus’ mother discussed in this book.

*We all care for someone at some point. Inspired Caregiving was written for the caregivers in your life.

Sweet Twisted History Wednesday, Dec 12 2018 

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With the progression of the seasons comes the move from everything pumpkin to everything peppermint. But if the iconic Christmas peppermint candy canes aren’t your thing, you can appease your sweet tooth with your choice of an array of other flavors. Sour Patch, Jolly Ranchers, Orange Crush, and A&W are some, as well as–believe it or not–rotisserie chicken and pickle.

Legends about the origins of candy canes link a preacher and his lessons on Christianity to the candy. The story is that candy canes were designed with red to represent Jesus’ blood, white for the Resurrection, and the J-shape for the name, Jesus.

None of this is true, but it didn’t stop an elementary school principle in Nebraska from banning candy canes for these reasons. Most likely, the basis of the legend came from someone who indeed did use candy canes to teach about Jesus, but artwork shows images of candy canes long before these stories first circulated.

White, straight candy sticks date to the 17th century and came in several flavors, including mint. The twist of red and white began showing up around the turn of the 20th century. And the hook shape may have begun as a means to hang them on decorated Christmas trees, a German custom that became more popular when Queen Victoria and her German husband displayed them in their home in the mid-1800s.

What’s your favorite flavor? I’m still a traditionalist and like the peppermint, especially  when it’s crushed and mixed with white chocolate.

(Have you seen my latest posts on my other blog including: Save it For Those Who Listen, Soulful Connections, and The Alzheimer’s Teacher?)

Candle Safety Thursday, Nov 29 2012 

When I was a child, my family lived across the street from Our Lady of Angels Church in Chicago. The Our Lady of Angels School stood on the opposite side of the church. On December 1, 1958 a small fire quickly accelerated into a massive torch consuming the old building and claiming 92 children and 3 nuns.

I was only four years old but the memories are vividly etched in my brain – the thick black smoke, fire engines and flashing lights through the late afternoon and evening, and most of all, the street filled with body bags.

Two years later I attended first grade in the new Our Lady of the Angels school along with upper classmates physically and emotionally scarred from the fire. Their hand-me-down coats and books reeked with smoke. Those students and a neighborhood of tearful parents were a constant reminder of what the fire stole and what it left behind.

Massive changes were made in fire safety as a result of the loss of so many young lives. Sprinkler systems, fire doors, and regular fire drills became mandatory in public buildings.

Fire safety laws also were mandated for new home construction. But once homeowners settle into their living quarters, these precautions are often forgotten. More than 40 home fires are reported every day due to candles alone, and many of these fires result in death. Most of them are caused by candles placed too close to other objects or left unattended.

Candles add an atmosphere of festivity around the holidays. This also is a time our homes are more crowded with people and decorations. We are busy and easily can forget our lit candles. Here are a few safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration to keep in mind:

  • Avoid using lighted candles all together. Instead, consider battery operated flameless candles.
  • Use sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • Never use near medical oxygen.
  • Use a flashlight, never a candle, for emergency lighting. Have flashlights and batteries on hand at all times.
  • Never put candles on a Christmas tree.
  • Extinguish candles before going to bed.

Also, be sure to have a sufficient number of working smoke alarms.

Should a fire occur, escape first, and then call for help. Have a fire escape plan and practice frequently with your family. Designate a meeting place. Make sure everyone knows two ways to escape from every room. Crawl low under smoke, keep your mouth covered, and never return to a burning building for any reason.

The Our Lady of the Angels fire instilled a tremendous level of respect for fire in me. I realize that I forget my lit candles so, most often, I use large candles in jars and place them on my flat, electric stove top or in the unlit fireplace.

Please weigh the ambiance created by candles against the dangers. The season cannot be festive if it isn’t safe.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

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