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At the doorstep of 2021

The year is white from ends

with flourishing green in the middle

The year

The year is what we have chosen to be our reference point. The year starts and ends in winter in places where I have lived and still live. The end and the start of the year happen to be white very often or about 85% of the time, sometimes with snowdrifts and shiny snow blanket over grasses and frost on trees, sometimes – with only ice patches and mud, sometimes bitterly cold, but always in winter. I am aware it’s not everywhere like that.

The green part of year

I am a fan of the middle: from early spring till the last green grass stem is still growing. I stop painting winter right before Christmas, and in the recent years, I am trying to stick with my decision not to paint any snow. It is easily explained: I cannot wait for the first flowers and plants to come up. I will be digging soil in the backyard when it hasn’t even completely thawed yet. That is my gym and my exercise and always has been.

Sinful idleness versus meaningful doing

The age impacts the flow of time and our perception of time settings to a great extent. The older one gets, the more serious they are about using time wisely, at least I am. I do measure my days by accomplishments, not by hours. If I haven’t managed to get anything meaningful done during the day, I’ll be upset. Therefore, spending time just exercising or walking aimlessly while I can also get done something useful in the garden, is a sin for me. Just like idle sitting around or having small talk.

No small talk for me

I avoid small talk, I certainly do as much as possible. Walking is fantastic, and I add usually a target to it: one store or another, appointment or visit. If I’m in the middle of painting, I simply cannot answer the phone. That frequently involves making small talk. Paint dries quickly, ideas vanish and mood changes. We never paint with the brush and paints only, there are a lot of other factors which go into my art.

Nobody has all answers

It’s good to believe that we know all the answers as our age grows and gets past 60, but it’s not true. The more we know, the more questions arise. I am very thankful for my medical knowledge, pharmaceutical and diagnostic skills and clinical experience. That has really helped and not only me. It keeps making life easier. I’ve also discovered how Canadian doctors are not always up to standards and protocols, and how much their diagnosis can be affected by rush, generalized assumptions and plain misunderstanding or inattention.

Superficiality

Superficiality is very widespread. The justification is that nobody has time. That is the biggest paradox of nowadays: everybody has plenty of time for fruitless scrolling through the internet on any screen that happens to be around, but no time for the good and meaningful things which make life worthwhile. Most people don’t ever read anything that’s under the picture or within the actual text, or the first 3 words at the best. Superficiality leads to sloppiness, disorganized and careless attitude in other areas of life.

Lack of quality

Quality is very quickly disappearing as the result, and lack of quality actually applies to absolutely all areas of our life. For instance, while I know that restaurants are having tough times, the restaurant and takeout food is just not for me and my family. We have gotten takeout meals a few times, and most of this food went to the garbage bin. It had no taste, no flavor, and there was certainly no love applied when cooking. High class workmanship and good skills in whatever walk of life we are looking for, are just not there. It makes no sense trying to get somebody’s help when it’s pretty clear you will have to do it over.

The year 2020

Everybody of us applies our own ratings and our own measuring tape based on experience, age, knowledge and so forth to whatever we are evaluating. Comparatively, I cannot complain about this year. The previous one, the 2019 was much worse since I lost my mom that year. Garden was doing extremely well this year. I put in many jars of preserves for winter. I had no live art classes from March to December, therefore, I was able to paint many more of my own paintings. Some of them are really excellent. Washing hands, disinfecting all items and areas, wearing a mask and staying at home was not a problem for us because we are a tiny 2-person family. Financials could be way better, but, unless one is a billionaire, that’s always an area which could be better.

December: snow and more snow
December: white and pure snow all around
Magnolias
Early spring magnolias, they blossom in my backyard
Spring lettuce
Lettuce comes up and produces early
Summer cucumbers
We were enjoying our own cucumbers in the summer and later pickles in the fall and winter
I had tomatoes from June to November, some got used in preserves
Summer flowers
Flowers in full bloom, this is already October
Bell peppers
Bell peppers or paprika were doing fine also, late October here
Last nasturtium
The last nasturtium blossoms, direct before the strong November frost
January sometimes comes with sunny days

Be patient

The COVID-19 pandemic probably will take quite a while to resolve. As we have seen, this virus mutated very quickly, thus, causing to establish whether the available vaccines still work for the new variants of this virus. It’s uncertain that more new variants won’t appear before everybody has received their immunization dose of vaccine. Only time will show how long we are staying safe and how long the vaccine actually helps keeping one safe: a year, 3 years, more years? Time is what we didn’t have so far. Being patient is very important, hence, everybody contributes to putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.

Wishing safe, healthy and good New Year!

Thanks for reading if you did!

Dimensions of time

Regardless of how fast and efficient we are, we cannot outrun time.

We learned at school how time is a measuring unit and were told later that time has more dimensions than just one and it can be bent just as any other dimension. All of us use time as a reference point. How would we be able otherwise to make an appointment or celebrate a birthday? Time is a deadline and time is freedom for some, and time is the reason we struggle so much fighting its impact.

Psychologically, time is a very complex phenomenon. Some people feel young at old age and some are born to never be young. Time becomes very relative with every single moment of our life. Waiting for something makes time go by extremely slowly and, especially, for young people, waiting lasts much longer than for the older ones. Happy moments make time sweep past so swiftly that the event might later appear as a dream. Sadness and fear slow the particular moment down. Desperately waiting for help in critical situations lasts forever.

Whether enjoyable or not, time cannot be stopped, avoided or disregarded. Certainly, everything still happens whether we know about that or not and whether we want that or not. Lack of knowledge doesn’t mean we can prevent something from taking place. There is also vice versa: we can change the flow of time and bend it in a favorable outcome for us or somebody else. Although, we are all subjected to impact and effects of time, we can still make it work for us and do us a favor.

To measure time, we do not always need days, months or years. Achievements and losses are excellent measuring units and reveal to much larger extent what and who we are and where we are going if anywhere. Zero movement in universe and nature equals regression that leads to the end of existence. Once the cells stop dividing and growing and we stop moving forward, we become captives of time and that’s the start of decline of any function. We as humans experience all dimensions of time simultaneously and in a never-ending manner.

We stick to general histories, but, in fact, the history has as many versions as is the number of people who interpret them. We carry around our stamp of time and we see the world in our unique way. So, how do we work towards a better outcome? How to make time not dash by, but stay with us in a meaningful, productive way?

Idleness doesn’t make any use of time. Meaningful activity makes it much more worthwhile. Meaningful activity is something different for everybody. Some will say that reading for pleasure is a waste of time and some will find it the best way of living. Entertainment is usually what we have made to believe we require, but it’s important what type of entertainment we are engaging in. Exercising can be useless time or the greatest achievement for somebody else. Relativity of time dimensions makes it flexible for us: bend it any way you can, just don’t throw it away.

The current time is a lesson in decision-making and responsible attitude. Blaming doesn’t help anybody. After all, it’s us personally dealing with the sequences. Being young means one can make many mistakes since they have more time to correct them. Being old comes with getting wiser: we have realized we don’t need everything we want and we are stricter with our choices. When time starts to run out, it does it very swiftly. This time is just as any other time period: while it feels people suffer for nothing, it’s never so. Until we haven’t learnt the lesson, we probably won’t be set free from bad experiences. Every single person makes difference today and now. I wish we went only for smart choices whenever possible.

Just a week ago
Fall flew by swiftly and became a memory
This was the snowy look we got 2 days ago

I hope you’re cautious and staying safe during this final stretch before the improvement sets in!

The soothing Sunday thoughts: October

If you walk in your thoughts far away enough, you could end up in a place called your past many years ago. You do not always want to be there, but as the years pile up, the memories swirl around like the falling leaves. The soft whispers have some secrets to reveal and things which you want to be always with you, are also around.

October light is sparklingly bright and untamed as it brakes through the still dense foliage and takes a spot on the backyard table next to my coffee cup. Things we want to let go and things we desperately would love to keep, yet, cannot. I always loved to paint October, but never enjoyed its arrival too much.

The question sometimes arises: did it happen for real, or did I only imagine that? The far away places of past can be anything, and it is kind of hard to keep the door to the memory gardens closed. Paging through old greeting cards is painful and sweet at the same time. I’d love to believe the ghosts are still here and silently watching over us, but nobody knows this for sure.

Things live so much longer than we do. So, we cannot throw out an old dress hence its ruffles hide some long-ago evaporated scent, and the lace fabric still remembers a touch from 40 years back. We cannot part with old souvenirs, so meaningless to people, who have no idea where they come from. Sometimes, all what remains is a small card and a dried flower or leaf between book pages.

October is like that for me: taking extended walks in the memory garden and trying to catch up with the current moments rushing by too swiftly. I, too, was convinced that I had answers to anything. That was when I didn’t have any life experience.

One more fall, one more calendar ending soon. It’s amazing how fast the years run away, but it fells like everything is still ahead. The best things which didn’t happen so far. The nicest surprises which didn’t want to come our way yet. The most adorable October which started just yesterday. Or a week ago, or maybe 2 weeks ago.

Some October leaves are meant to be kept so that our wishes could be written on them. Enclosed on a bright maple leaf is a small blessing. Simple, touchy, fading too soon. The satisfaction of this moment, the absolute essence of all things going away.

October leaves

This goes under my “The soothing Sunday thoughts” because it feels like Sunday, yet, it is Thanksgiving Monday in Canada.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Take this moment and blossom in it

The intelligence of plants and trees never stops surprising me. When we are saying: we have time we are cheating ourselves. Time allows us to be and use the moments we are in.

It’s a wonderfully warm and sunny fall morning. Quite rare pleasant warmth and undisturbed sunshine. It’s not interrupted by offensive noises, like loud music or silly human talk. This morning is filled only with birds’ chatter and soft whispers of leaves as they walk down the tree. The garden responds to the gift of the nature: everything that can is in bloom.

We as humans waste our time and do not use it in our favor. Look at the garden plants: they know what time is and they know when to push themselves to the full potential. This morning is magic with all the plants putting out their last blooms before the frost takes them away.

This post is short because words are limiting when it comes to describing beauty. The immense range of great emotions this beauty evokes is to tell us we do not have to go anywhere, but stay in the middle of this breathtaking landscape.

So, take this moment and blossom in it!

Nobody described the fall and our travels in the Universe better than Rainer Maria Rilke:

Herbst

Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,

als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;

sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde

aus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit.

Wir alle fallen. Diese Hand da fällt.

Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen.

Und doch ist Einer, welcher dieses Fallen

unendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.

I encourage you to study German language. Nothing ever replaces the original. I translated this poem into Latvian many years ago, approximately in 1985. Since most people have no idea what Latvian language is like, I won’t insert it here. However, I’m attaching a quick rendering of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Herbst” into English done by me. It’s my interpretation and how I experience this particular poem which resonates with me at this moment.

Fall

The leaves are falling as if from the distance,

as if in heavens gardens far-away are wilting;

these leaves are falling with denying motion.

And during nights, the heavy earth is falling

from all the stars into the loneliness.

We all are falling. This hand here is in fall.

And look at other one: it’s all around us.

But yet, there is One, who is holding

this falling never-ending-gently in his hands.

For illustration, I’m adding my garden gallery.

All sorts of pink blossoms

My roses

Pink climbing roses

Absolutely beautiful

Nasturtium

Bright orange nasturtium

Purple late fall blooms

Deep purple blooms

Nasturtium

… and yellow

Geranium, late fall

Extra colorful geranium

Pink hibiscus

Pink hibiscus

Beauty of backyard flowers in late fall

So many and so bright

Absolutely stunning

More geraniums and 

Nasturtium

more nasturtium

Enjoy the weather if it’s as good in your place!

 

Endless supply of seeds and how to have your own

If you wanted to plant variety of vegetables this year, you probably noticed there was shortage of seeds, at least in Ontario it was. I didn’t find any arugula, Bell pepper seeds and early pickling sort of cucumber seeds also. Green onions were not that good, they really took abnormal time to come up and, generally, they were not doing that great. It was the seed tape. What do you do if you really want some particular vegetable and there is no way to get seeds on time in the middle of pandemic? Online ordering was out of question for me because shipping would have taken way too much time.

You have probably seen and watched time-lapse videos about how beautifully seeds start to sprout if you use the real vegetable. For me, it happened accidentally with tomatoes on the vine this spring. I was digging up soil. It was also time to prepare garbage for the next morning and I had really soft and not appealing tomatoes on the vine in my fridge. They were ready to be thrown out. I simply buried these tomatoes at one end of the future vegetable bed and forgot about them. After a while, I’d say, quite a while, I noticed new tomato plants had appeared in that spot.

Tomatoes on the vine

I had read before that if you use seeds from a real vegetable, there won’t be much harvest or possibly such plants won’t produce at all. That is not true at all. It certainly took some time (May-July) to see they will produce, but these plants are actually stronger than plants which I started from seeds which I had bought. Tomatoes on the vine are doing great, they will be red soon.

The same goes for paprika or Bell pepper. I just used seeds from a real Bell pepper which we had bought at the grocery store. These plants are doing really well, they were just blooming last week, and I cannot see why these blooms wouldn’t turn into vegetables. I have used my own seeds which we normally harvest for the next year: calendula, nasturtium, dill, cucumber, tomato, paprika, pumpkin and so on, basically, anything which has collectible and visible seeds.

Basket of veggies from my backyard

I also buried pumpkin seeds from a previous year’s pumpkin in the soil. It had survived all winter, and I just never got to pickling or using it. My pumpkin plants are doing really well. The problem with pumpkin or sunflower seeds is that backyard squirrels and chipmunks will go for big length to get to them. I had to build a firm fence around, so that the roots of tiny startup plants would not be disturbed. Other than that, just place these seeds in rich soil on a small hill, and pumpkins will do fantastic.

Beautiful dill

For green onions, I cut off the part which has root, allow it to become stronger in water and plant it outside. Such green onions grow much better than the ones from seeds. I’ve been using these green onions all summer and will plant a few more as soon as it’s not abnormally hot.

Backyard gardening

Here is my rating of plant health depending on type of seeds or plant seedlings from worst to the best.

Seedlings and young plants from a nursery or garden center are usually doing the worst. Such plants are much more susceptible to changes in weather, as well as to plant diseases. I’m not buying any ready plants for about 5 years already. It might seem it is going to be much slower process when starting, for instance, tomatoes, Bell peppers and cucumbers from seeds, but that’s not true. They catch up pretty quickly providing the weather cooperates. Day and night temperatures need to be reasonably high for faster sprouting.

Second place take plants which I started from seeds, and seeds were bought at a store. Depending on what type of seeds are available: organic, not organic, colored or on tape, results will vary. I find that some seeds on tape are fine, for instance, lettuce and cucumber, and some are not, I can mention green onion. The best for me have been organic seeds with no color applied to them and not on tape. Certainly, that depends.

The absolute winner among plant seedlings are the ones for which I used either the real vegetable or gathered and prepared seeds on my own. As always, do it yourself from start to finish appears to be the best way to do anything. That includes collecting and preparing seeds or just using suitable vegetable which otherwise would go into food garbage.

Lovely veggie basket

August is time when we can still plant some seeds. In fact, we have to wait until it gets cooler and then we can plant radish, spinach and lettuce again. Depending on variety, kale will do fine also because it requires cool weather. Parsley and basil will have enough time to come up and then, you just take them indoors in October. Plant arugula since it takes no time at all. In fact, depending on your region, there are many more plant varieties, but I’m just mentioning the ones that fit the growing season for me in Ontario.

When it comes to gardening, experimenting is the best way to find out what your plants want and like and what results in rich harvest.  I’m seeing companion gardening is mentioned frequently. I must say that I have used it for as long as I can recall. That was inevitable because my gardens have been rather small and I had container gardening here and there, therefore, I could never plant some group of vegetables or one type of plants in a separate bed. Everything was always mixed up. Like I said before, some flowers literally protect vegetables, and, thus, we have much better harvest.

Companion gardening

Good luck with your garden whether it is big, small or tiny! The most important factor with gardening is the willingness of gardener to take some risks and experiment, as well as observe results. Just like in art which I’m writing about in my art blog.

Universe wishes us well, how we go with or against this plan

We, universe, nature and other people

We all create our own reality, and while doing so, we are interconnected with all other parts of the universe: the other people, nature, God and the highest power whichever one believes in. When you look at the brain activity chart, you can see numerous flashes which occur practically simultaneously. That is also how we as a tiny molecule of the universe are creating such flashes. People have tried everything: living mindfully, positively and using the law of attraction, as well as all kinds of significant rules we have invented so far. What works and what is just our illusion about living a full, balanced and abundant, life?

Our personal world we recreate every day

It is our world which we enter as soon as we wake up every morning. We do that as long as we live. We start out anew, fresh and on clean slate if we allow for that. When life is good, everything falls in place easily. We feel grateful, we feel that we are on the right path and we are sure the future is bright. The real problems start when life gives us tests and we have to overcome all kinds of obstacles.

The plan is always good

The purpose of a universal plan for us is always good and probably the best for the current situation. Can we see and understand it? Moreover, are willing to go along with it? Sometimes, one will understand the purpose of a situation only after many years and even decades. Sometimes, we will see what and why needed to happen sooner. This pandemic shows how vulnerable we are, and it really doesn’t matter what social class, financial wealth level, nationality, race or country one belongs to. This pandemic is to prove that as a human one is equal in the eye of the universe. One means no less and no more, but just the same.

Warning signs

We could argue that the current situation has nothing to do with a lesson from the universe, but it is simply the result of human negligence, error and mishandling of facts. As always, we get warnings and signs at first. Everything in the nature has been warning us for many decades. Deterioration of human health which is the result of attempts to achieve higher profits has been really alarming. Pollution and overcrowded cities, famine in some areas and wasting insane amounts of money for useless luxury items in some social groups, wrong values and mass production of cheap entertainment to keep humans in tight control, and so on and so forth. There have been many signs that the human race is on the wrong path.

Kind or harsh lesson, the choice is ours

Universe usually teaches us just like students at a regular school: at first, it is a general warning not to engage in some activity or process, then it is more targeted requirement to change the behavior, after that, we will receive strong corrective event which people, who feel like victims of situation, others or destiny, will call a punishment. In fact, the universe will try to stop you from destroying yourself while it is still possible with all kinds of means from mild warning to strong event that will change the route. Meaning, if you do not get the lesson with kind and mild suggestion, there is a need for strong means of correction.

Victim versus creator

If you see and perceive your personal world as a place where outside impacts every thought and step of yours and you have no say in the chain of events unfolding before your eyes, you are most likely feeling and acting as a victim: I cannot do anything about this. They have decided everything for me and I just have to comply and go with the stream. Now, if you are somebody who does not assume yourself as a victim, but rather somebody, who is in control of your own life and its events and who takes on the responsibility for results of your own actions, spoken words and thoughts, you will see that you can change and influence the chain of events. You can do that since you are the one, who understands that any current situation is created by you with your activity or inactivity, with steps you take or skip, with thoughts you pronounce or discard.

Patience is a virtue

Patience is something we seem not to have any more. When I hear people saying what a sacrifice that is to wear a mask, I’d like to ask them to think again. It is a preventive measure which helps us control the spread of virus and disease. From the first days we were advised no to travel, not to go anywhere, especially, not to fly and go abroad. Including March break, everybody was behaving as if nothing has happened. We heard that it’s not that scary as it sounds and there is no point in cancelling trip if one had paid for it in advance.

We are all connected

Now in the summer, people feel they cannot put off or cancel their parties and vacation travel. It’s vacation time and nothing will stop them from enjoying it. Well, we normally get what we ask for. It’s just so that this time adventure easily turns into trouble. This situation more than ever shows how connected the entire humanity is and how swiftly one person’s neglect and lack of judgement can affect other person’s life and health. You do not even know these people, but they will either work towards a better outcome or make bad outcome hit one harder.

True values

I’m not surprised big luxury brands are going out of business because this global situation reveals how unimportant it actually is for the global health to wear, drive or use a specific luxury item which is meant for show-off. Under mask, make-up becomes pointless. In the situation of social distancing, nobody really cares about one’s shoes, pants or dress. Hence, there are so many things which are of real value.

Blaming as lack of responsible approach

We might see this situation as a punishment for humanity if we feel like a victim. We might start blaming everybody and everything from government to food manufacturers, from lawmakers to neighbours and friends. That’s what a victim does: they blame something because they do not take responsibility for what they do and have done. In fact, your own health is in your own hands. That is very literary because you have to keep them in gloves and disinfect and sanitize frequently which I assume some people will also call a sacrifice. In fact, there is no punishment in the mind of the universe. There is no guilt or fault. That is an invention of the human mind to control victims and their behaviour. It’s easy to keep in control people, who fault themselves or feel guilty.

Universe wishes us well

The universe wishes us well. It will always try to work out the best scenario which meets your personal wishes and desires. I think you know that we have to be cautious about what we wish for. There is also a thing about negative sentences and the universal mind. It cannot hear what we say as a negative sentence. The same goes for small children. If you say: do not, they will only hear “do”. Therefore, sentences such as “I will not get sick” send out only one word “sick”, ‘I do not feel tired” means “feel tired” and so on. We have to use the affirmative form.

We have created every situation in our life

We have arrived at this day because of everything we have done, thought or said. That includes things we didn’t want to do or things we didn’t say out loud, or things we believed were unimportant. That includes signs and warnings we ignored. Blame is big nowadays. That means most people feel like victims, and social media and also TV strongly support that: blaming something or somebody and not being responsible for what we personally do. It is obviously a wrong way to approach any situation. It’s finally only us personally, who choose the fate of the globe. Every single person participates, and we either facilitate good outcome or cause harm for people we love most and eventually for everybody else. It’s in our hands to make things right.

Make good choices to quench thirst and avoid harmful chemicals

Deal or health

While standing in the line at grocery store, it’s impossible not to notice what people are putting in their shopping carts. There is pretty large crowd which walks around the store with flyers in their hand looking for deals and discounts. Well, it’s not that the best products or the freshest ones get into this flyer, but we can sometimes get promotional products at very reasonable prices. At least at my local grocery store, the most deals are offered for unhealthy and processed food and drinks.

Soft drinks are banned in European schools

I would say there’s a reason why soft drinks like Coke, Pepsi and energy drinks are banned from schools and their neighbourhoods in quite a few European countries. My native country Latvia has always been strict with such foods and drinks, the positive side is that we didn’t even see them or knew they existed until the borders were opened in 1991. The Latvian market was flushed with North American type of chemical foods and fast food places appeared then.

Clean food means more health

We had practically no obesity and related issues until the era of imported food begun. Believe or not, real dairy products are still available in Latvia. It’s always up to consumers what choice to make because manufacturers will try to meet the demand. When consumers show their dissatisfaction with chemically enhanced food, manufacturers and food producers have no other way, but to offer food and drinks which are in line with healthy eating guidelines and which are compliant with restrictions in use of chemical ingredients.

Think again

I read an article how people, who told Coke was a total poison and Pepsi was a pure junk, were attacked online. That makes one wonder: are there really too few obesity, type 2 diabetes, digestive, heart and blood vessel associated diseases and cases yet? Isn’t there proof enough that not real food, proteins, carbohydrates and fats make a person sick, but their chemical substitutes and surrogate ingredients?

The choice is ours

Nobody would need to ever diet or fight the unwanted pounds if all of a sudden fast food, processed food and chemically produced food and drinks disappeared. However, that is not going to happen because profits always come first. There is a wide range in standards for chemicals and their maximum contents in food products. Therefore, the choice is ours: we all can exclude chemicals, fast food and processed foods from our menu. At least to some extent, because vegetables, fruit, berries, herbs and organic products are still a subject to standards. These standards allow for plenty of variation. “Organic” on a label does not mean the product is completely free of chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. “Organic” means the amount of harmful chemicals meets the stated limits.

Hydration for heat

It has been abnormally hot in Canada, Ontario for the last 2 weeks. We are expecting one more heat wave. Everybody will need to quench their thirst, and everybody will have a choice: to use pure water, mineral water or fruit flavored water for hydration, or just grab some soft drink, milkshake or juice.

Water is the best

When we talk about hydration, there is nothing better than pure water. Water is the best for quite a few reasons: for its chemical formula, for the fast absorption rate, for its friendly attitude towards our cell structure and for its lack of chemicals. Be careful with tap water. It can can contain too much chlorine, even antibiotics, metformin which is blood sugar lowering drug, and residues of very harmful chemical elements. Anything which does not degrade naturally and fast can find its way into tap water.

Moderate and balanced amount of water

It’s enough to use moderate amount of water because overdoing anything has bad consequences. Abnormal amount of water can cause kidney failure and hyponatremia or deficit of sodium in the bloodstream. If you do not use water, but other liquids, you must be aware they contain things you might not want to overdo with: juice is high in sugar, soft drinks are high in sugar and chemicals, milkshakes and ice-cream based drinks have lots of calories. The only thing we actually need in heat is to hydrate ourselves and maintain a good functionality, isn’t it? We don’t have to intake as many calories as with meal for this purpose.

Early childhood habits

How about kids? Kids will use whatever their parents are offering them from early childhood. If a family does not use soft drinks, kid will never have cravings for them. When a family is not addicted to sugars and fast foods, kid will never know such disorders as type 2 diabetes. Some parents are very worried that child does not eat enough. Normal kid will not starve himself to the point when some disorders occur. Kid could be reluctant to drink enough water, though. I also told this in my previous post: making fruit flavored water with colorful slices of citrus fruits is a good idea because this type of drink does not raise the content of sugars much, but hydrates well and looks great. Nobody has appetite when the blood glucose level is too high. If your kid has had some sugar-rich food or drink before meal, they will refuse to eat normal meal.

My photos of fruit flavored water and ice

Adding colored ice to such drinks is also fantastic. I didn’t have time, but it’s possible to freeze any juice and make colorful ice cubes. We can place small mint leaves, berries or parts of fruit in water and freeze them, we can freeze tea and any liquid. It looks very attractive.

Fruit flavored water

Colorful, fresh and healthy

Mineral water good choice to quench our thirst

Mineral water is a good choice to quench our thirst

Add fruit and ice to regular bottled water

Add fruit and ice to regular bottled water

Sparkling mineral water

For people, who want to stay away from alcohol, using sparkling water with lime and mint and ice allows to get rid of cravings for alcohol. You can also use simple water, lots of ice cubes and small bit of lemon juice.

Still life with water and fruit

Fresh and delicious: what’s not to like?

I never like when we have to stop on the roadside for some snack while travelling, that the catering places always push one to have a Coke or Pepsi with food. When I ask whether they have sparkling water or mineral water, they quite often don’t. Well, I usually survive by asking for water with slice of lime.

Stay hydrated and use healthy water to quench your thirst!

Trying garden this year? Try these simple steps to harvest more

Gardening can be so many things: source of never-ending pleasure, good daily exercise, great hobby and so many delicious vegetables to add on your plate. Especially this year, it was hard to get even seeds. It looks like many people decided to start a garden this year when COVID-19 has made our life complicated. Why not? The vegetables we buy at store have been already sitting in a warehouse or shelf for a while. What we pick in the garden, is as fresh as it gets. You also know what is in your vegetables, herbs, berries and plants. Content of nutritious vitamins and minerals is definitely higher in fresh vegetables and herbs. You cannot lose with a garden! You can only gain.

Better harvest from small garden

The weather can be anything: very rainy, extremely dry, cool or very hot, windy and humid, as well. Our garden has to survive all weather conditions. Watering can be an issue. Watering too much and too frequently will harm plants and cause rotting of leaves and roots which later results in plant diseases. The best watering times are early morning and night when the sun is almost down or down. Observe plant reaction and check soil on touch, better not the surface only, but a few inches down. If it feels moist, leave those plants alone and water them next time.

After heavy rains or prolonged periods of dry and hot weather, some plants will die off regardless of what you do. I have observed that plants which I start from seeds will tolerate harsh weather much better and they will stay healthier much longer. If some plants have fallen out, start from new seeds again. Ready plants which we buy from nurseries, are generally weaker because most likely they had controlled conditions before. It might be too late restarting Bell pepper or tomatoes, but beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, not to mention green onions, lettuce, dill, parsley and basil will have enough time to mature.

We can give plants some extra nutrients, too, but the best is to keep it as natural as possible and you have to pay attention to type of soil and plant condition. It will be visible what it needs. If you have given some fertilizer your plant, but leaves are still light green, yellow with brown rims and similar, then these are insects or too wet/too dry or too heavy soil. Sometimes plants literally burn in too hot weather, then consider shading if possible.

How to make gardening fun

Some plants, especially herbs with strong smell, such as basil and parsley will keep insects away. They are not all pest resistant, but in my experience, they work well together with tomatoes and lettuce. Green onions work well in my garden to prevent bugs from my peas. I usually mix up plants because I have comparatively small space, so, I cannot use separate bed for only one type of plants.

Better harvest from small garden

Pot marigolds (calendula) and nasturtium grow very well between my other plants. They look great and, due to their pest attracting or insect deterring properties, they help to keep my vegetables healthy. Nasturtium flowers are edible and calendula flowers cure us from many health issues. For herbal treatment purposes, we collect new and fresh blooms and dry them.

Small garden, big harvest

I like dill all around cucumbers. Traditionally, Latvian food uses a lot of dill, parsley and green onion. Dill regulates and normalizes blood pressure. It is believed that eating decent amount of dill will lower high blood pressure. Not like a pill, but with regular use, it becomes more normal. Parsley, dill and green onion are extra health boosters. Use parsley/dill tea compress on face and it will regain useful look. You can drink it as morning drink for general tone. Dill seeds need to be planted every 2-3 weeks (the same about lettuce and arugula) if you want to have it fresh all summer and until the first frost. We collect dill seeds to use as herb and also to have it for new plants next year. Use dill seeds when pickling cucumbers, as well.

Efficient gardening

If you see that some plant is taking over and the other one is suffering, it’s time to transplant one of them. If some plant has damaged leaves, remove them right away. Observe what’s causing it: how moist or dry the soil is, are there any bugs or insects visible and so on. Pests often love the underside of leaves.

Better harvest from small garden

When tomato plant becomes too bushy, we cut out the suckers (the new branches which develop in the crook between main stem and large branch). That is very necessary in the greenhouse. My tomato plants grow outdoors. I would say do not prune them too much, especially if it is a single, separately growing tomato plant. Detach suckers if you have many tomato plants growing together and they fight for space and it’s visible that plant does not produce any fruit because of too many leaves. We can always use common sense: if you leave only bare main stem, the plant will burn out in hot sun.

Better harvest from small garden

Garden requires daily care. Many garden works are physical work. No need for any other exercise if you work out there watering, weeding, refreshing, planting daily.

Blogging: things that matter

Deciding on blog or website

I started my art blog in May, 2011 First post of art blog

Notice, there are no likes and no comments. Yes, it took a while until I had first followers and first comments. Back then, blogging was somewhat different from what it is now in 2020. By 2015, I had more than 3000 followers and lots of interaction on my art blog. I decided to move it to a self-hosted website. The move itself was nothing overwhelming, but there were numerous issues. I had already many articles with very many illustrations, it’s an art blog after all. After importing my blog, all the images were totally messed up, many were missing. The written part was ok, but the visual part required me to undo about 120 posts. That is a heck of work! It took me quite a while. Not months, but a few years, in fact. I didn’t have some images and I couldn’t find some others to place back, so, I had to undo even bigger part.

Stick to decision

I would say, you have to decide right from the get-go: if you want a website, start a website, and if you want less work and less trouble, go for blog. It’s much cheaper, too. Comments get imported onto the new site, but likes do not. Therefore, all posts until the move have hardly any likes, but they have many comments. I also lost many followers, I probably confused them big time during transition period while there was still my blog and also a website, practically the same. Moving blog to website, unless, it’s a blog which has mostly writing, is a hassle and lots of work because of all adjustments.

WordPress account, not two sites

Since I wanted to keep my art separate from my lifestyle and health blog, I started another blog in June 15, 2015 First post of lifeschool blog

For a while, I had to mention on my art website that I had another blog, too. Well, I didn’t know that this other blog won’t be an independent blog (it still isn’t), but part of my WordPress account. Therefore, some people, who never read anything do not even know that I have an art website and art blog and one more lifestyle and health related blog. Some people follow only one of them, some follow both, but the reach hasn’t been that great as it was with just having one blog initially.

Blogging for yourself or blogging for success

I’m not an obsessive blogger. At times, I don’t even care too much how many people follow my blogs and how many like what I write about. However, during all these years of blogging on WordPress, I have come to some conclusions and I’d like to share a few suggestions if you want to achieve good following and widen the circle of your readers. It is different if you intend to achieve huge numbers of followers. That will take lots of time, lots of interaction with other blogs. The most important part is still content. It should be preferably original and only in an area you feel strong and passionate about. There are many blogs which are devoted to personal struggles, journeys to health and so forth, but they still need to stand out.

Repeating and copying content is boring

Blogging can be very personal and also very general, just hitting the popular subjects and going with the stream. I do write content and share experience which is not available everywhere, but rather takes origin in my personal life. I have noticed, there are numerous blogs which only practically republish what we all know already: motivation, happiness, what to eat, what not and so forth. I’d say this is boring. I also would like to mention that people, who have zero insight and knowledge in healthcare, treatments, medical conditions and similar medicine-related subjects, should not write about it. It makes a professional medical specialist cringe when somebody republishes nonsense which has no true base whatsoever.

Followers and getting a good number of them

If you want to show your appreciation about some blog or blogger, certainly, like, comment and interact with it. Never insist they follow you back or demand to go to your blog. That is horrible. People, who like your blog, will follow and read it if they think it’s worth doing, but nobody is going to like something if you insist, they do. That’s unethical and offensive. We all have our free will. Recently, there are many bloggers, who click on 20 or even more likes under posts and never read even one of them or do not have any idea what the blog is about. I personally do not care that somebody liked 20 posts, but I love if they read at least one. There are also bloggers, who only click on “Follow” and there is absolutely no follow-up. Somebody instinctively might follow you back, but most experienced bloggers won’t follow just about anything. WordPress will also block you from following if you do it excessively or in abusive manner and are fishing for more followers WP can block you from following

Make your blog or website easy to navigate

Settings on the blog or website exist for a reason. One has to go through all of them and make adjustments which fit your personal website or blog. I sometimes would love to leave a comment or post a like, but it’s impossible or I cannot get even to their posts. Websites or blogs have either static front page or display blog posts on it. The problems often arise with a static front page. I see there is something, but there’s also no way to get to it. Obviously, if you want somebody to like your posts or leave comments, you have to make these posts accessible. Nobody is going to search for hours where your posts are. I also see frequently most viewed posts in the widget area, but no recent posts. That means, people will only react to these popular posts.

Important widgets

It’s a good idea to have Archives widget, too. Also, having the Previous and Next feature is a good idea. If you are not sure, you can test your website or blog from some other device or ask somebody else to do that and let you know what they see and how easy your website or blog is to navigate. If it’s tough to find anything, people will look at your “About me” or “Hello” page and move on. I would sometimes spend a few moments trying to find what’s where, but I will leave if I cannot find or understand anything. I am very sure; any visitor will do the same.

Non-English language blogs

That refers to blogs in other languages, not in English. I can personally use 4 languages at a native level which are Latvian (my native language), German, Russian and English. Therefore, I can follow and read blogs in these languages, but the other ones will be questionable. If it’s a completely visual blog or consists of only art images or photos, I’ll be able to know what it’s about. If the blog is written in a language, I have no idea about, I will not follow it. Google translate is ok, but it really distorts complex languages. I actually have done this: when I want to have a good laugh, I click on Translate into Latvian, and it’s really hilarious how my content comes out. There is no point reading poetry with Google translate.

Important aspects of blogging

Blogging ethics

Blogging is something overwhelmingly huge nowadays. While policies and rules change, blogging ethics stay in effect regardless of that. We have to respect others, their preferences and their opinions. If you are writing about sensitive subjects, expect reaction which might be not always what you like. Don’t put pressure on other bloggers to follow you or like what you write. I’ve seen very poor blogs with many followers and vice versa. Some blogs are created for to stay, some will cease to exist if there is no genuine passion or good content. I don’t think one should start a blog if they don’t have what to say. While I do not chase numbers of followers or post every day, I still appreciate thoughtful and educated, as well as sincere and mindful comments. I do follow back blogs which deserve that, but never when somebody tells me to.

Patched up with hope: life during pandemic

If we are lucky enough to live in some country like Canada where we have social security, fairly affordable health care and chances to get a job, some job, not always what we wish for, we stop believing in our own mortality. We know we cannot avoid passing away and it will happen sometimes, but that is a far-away event. We first enjoy, savor and are happy. After some very long time or possibly eternity, that might happen. That might happen after a great life which we have filled up with all kinds of achievements. We have fulfilled our dreams and everything is sunny in our peaceful valley of joy and pleasure-rich entertaining space. Slightly utopic, but internet says we all can do that. This doesn’t apply to time of COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, with everything being turned upside down and inside out.

The generations before cancer treatments, diabetes cures, artificial joints, artery stenting and transplanted organs, as well as efficient antibiotics, chemotherapy, fast and slow acting insulin, NSAIDs and steroids, blood pressure and cholesterol adjusting medications and antidepressants had to be more down to the Earth. Any health issue could have resulted in bad sequences and premature passing away. Therefore, people relied more on afterlife. If we didn’t have enough time to enjoy this life, we were quite sure that the best possible life awaits in a space which we had been told about depending on religion and personal belief. The shift nowadays is that we all want to experience the best possible life right now and here. We are not going to put up with anything less than paradise. This isn’t possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on most people. We hear often they cannot afford to wait; they cannot afford to buy one essential thing or another, they definitely cannot live as they used to. We also find out that virus has destroyed many lives, caused family conflicts, domestic violence and many people have succumbed to it. This might be the first time for somebody to realize that they are not bulletproof, I mean, that they, too, can become infected and have to undergo harsh treatment or even worse. The reality which threatens practically everybody, who slightly slips and stops observing the strict protocols of hygiene and physical distancing, has caused a gigantic wave of mental disorders.

While TV, social media and numerous internet sites remind us that we are not alone, that help is within easy reach, it can quite frequently remain only nice and cheering call without any follow-up action. We have to take into account that person, who is completely depressed (I am talking about clinically severe depression episode, not upset mood for a few days in a row), will take no steps to improve their condition. That is the nature of this condition: a complete ignorance of oneself, surroundings, situation and advice. They cannot do anything because they are unable to and they need some major break to become alive again.

The worst thing in pre-depressive state is analyzing everything: every word one hears, every glance, every message, every move and every reaction to what somebody else does or says. This leads to overwhelmingly negative self-assessment. The second worse thing is scrolling through social media and seeing how well everybody else is which leads to comparing one’s condition, situation and overall wellbeing to somebody else. If you do this for half a day or even longer, it is going to cause some reaction. There are usually only two types of social media messages which rise to the top: extremely attractive, extremely inspiring, extremely positive or plain bad and tragic. People will always look at a disastrous outcome. By numbers of statistics, that will be even more often than at something great and good. Have you seen how all traffic stops when there is a car accident on the road side? That’s exactly the same reason: it’s good to know that’s not our car and not us in it.

The best thing to do in a pre-depressive state is make oneself tired with physical work. Physical work with readily visible results beats physical exercise. Physical work which shows that we have achieved something immediately brings pleasant tiredness. We can look at spotless floor, bright and fresh laundry, planted flower bed, weeded garden, organized and clean room or house, sparklingly shiny windows. It’s good to split wood, dig soil and submerge hands in it. The only problem is to make that happen and start doing, overcome resistance and sometimes simple laziness.

Living in never-ending rush people forget about the energy which everything has, gives or takes. Let’s look at TV, computer, laptop or similar devices. While we believe we have got good energy watching something inspiring, uplifting and calling to activity, the radiation and energetic waves of devices actually deplete energy. The contemporary English version of ancient religious text says: “We are made from earth, and we return to earth.” I do interpret it so that also during our presence on the Earth we can draw all energy we need from the Earth. That is literary making our hands dirty with soil, walking barefoot on the grass and along the garden path, hugging tree which speaks to us and planting seeds in order to enjoy the harvest.

Patch up live, live nice during pandemic

Hug a tree, kiss a flower

The tiredness which comes from working at computer is completely different from tiredness which originates in working outdoors or indoors. More than ever, we need to clean our mind, decrease pollution in our head and let our brain enjoy fresh air. That decreases chance of shifting from upset mood days into severe and clinically treatable depression. Acting on it early, might help a lot, tremendously, in fact. Instead of scrolling through daily data and death reports, instead of spending hours reviewing progress of medical treatments and vaccines (it is a slow process anyway), one has to turn their mind to completely unrelated things.

While we might not be living the best life, we deserve, we cannot start feeling like a victim of circumstances, global or local events, pandemic and virus. Victim’s mind uses destructive energy and suffering since they believe it is inevitable and unavoidable. The reverse chain sets in, and we literally start causing what we would prefer to never happen to us. Whatever path we apply to our current situation, it will help, although, not permanently. That is fine, too.

We do have a choice: to work or refuse to work with all sequences that this decision causes, stay alone or go out, use caution or show off how brave we are, take unnecessary risks or avoid being childish. It is good to be recognized as a hero, and some people will embrace it. Most of us for different reasons will not because we are not willing to pay the price. One choice is not worse than the other. The outcome is different, and we might or might not like it. Choice always stays with us. We can call it whatever we want but it’s in our hands to manage our only life.

Patch up life, live nice during pandemic

This is a path which takes to better times

Stay well, be firm in your decisions and do not follow any doubtful trends which threaten your safety or safety of people around you!

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