Category Archives: Ginnie

Jan’s “Stand Uppity Garden” …(Part two)

A year ago I introduced you to my friend Jan who was in a severe auto accident back in the 70’s.  She was told that she would never walk again but she didn‘t accept that verdict. Now she needs a wheelchair on long ventures but for the rest of the time she stands and walks on her own two feet.


Her great love is gardening but bending over or sitting on the ground, or even on a low stool, is almost impossible for her so, with the help of some friends, she built her first “Stand Uppity Garden” in 2009.stand Uppity part 2

However they didn’t use treated wood as it would have affected the produce so it didn‘t stand the test of time.  She still loved the idea though and last year she mightily improved her idea of a standing high garden by using a 100 gallon Big Bag Bed from Smart Pots.

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Jan swears by Smart Pots because they come in a variety of sizes and can be used for any and all of the projects in her amazing garden.  The largest bag opens to a diameter of 4 feet and holds as much potting soil as a 4×4 garden.  It is extremely sturdy and she can make as many “uppity” gardens as she wants by just putting a Big Bag Bed on top of a sturdy base.

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And the smaller bags?  They come with the complete endorsement of the many cats who roam and relax in this outdoor paradise!

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It’s never too late …

it's never too late
In last week’s blog entry I mentioned my sister Mary and I’ve had her on my mind ever since then. She was the oldest of 5 girls (I the youngest) and we were brought up in the depression and WWII years. I tell you this because it resulted in all of us being very frugal and that plays a part in what I am relating here.

Mary was an amazing woman who actually got her Masters in Social Work at the age of 65 and worked up until her mid 70’s. The reason that she started a career so late in life is that she was tied into a very unhappy marriage to a doctor and, as is the case with so many women, she chose to stay for the children’s sake. Mary was always shy but her ex saw to it that her self esteem went down the tubes too. It took her a long long time after her divorce to finally resurface as a viable human being.

I remember that we, in her immediate family, were very worried because she was so depressed and nothing we did seemed to help. It was into her 3rd year as a single woman again that I finally got the call that I’d been hoping for. It sounds so silly in the retelling but it’s true.

“Guess what?” said Mary in a bubbly and happy voice, “I am finally free !”
She went on to tell me that when she and dorko split up she couldn’t resist taking the gallon of liquid soap that was in his office because it was almost full and, although she hated the smell, she just couldn’t justify getting rid of it. Well…she finally did it. She poured it all down the drain and replaced it with a lightly scented lavender soap and that’s all it took to get her started on the long trek back to a contented life. !
As we grow into our 70’s and 80’s many of us forget that we can still have an interesting and exciting life. I can only speak for myself but I find that getting rid of excess baggage is crucial for me. It clears the way so that those things that are really important in my life can flourish.

If you find yourself buried in “stuff” take a good look and start getting rid of the excess. You will be amazed at how good it feels. It works, it really does.

Taken for a ride …

When I first started writing a weekly blog entry for Unlimiters my niece Wendy gave me an idea that (although I thought it clever) I was hesitant to write about because it had safety problems.  Her mother, my oldest sister Mary, was in a nursing home and whenever Wendy wanted to take her  out for a drive she found it very hard to transfer her from the wheelchair to the car.  She had Velour upholstery and Mary would have to lift up and inch across the seat to get comfortable.  It was a cumbersome and slow process to say the least.

Wendy finally thought up the idea of using one of the large, heavy-duty plastic garbage bags.  She would spread it over the bottom of the car seat and tuck it in.  This way my sister, with Wendy’s assistance, could slide onto the seat and it worked pretty well except for a few mishaps when the bag slipped.  Luckily they were not serious but, nevertheless,  I was very pleased when a blogger friend made mention of her solution to this problem.

She has a car with cloth seats too and finds it difficult to get in and out because of a bad hip that she is scheduled to have replaced soon.  She purchased a leather slipcover just for her side of the car and she says it works great.  She says she can now slide in comfortably. car seat The seat she chose is by Automotive Innovations and she’s pleased with her choice.  She says it was easy to install and the stretch polyester on the sides and back gave it a firm and secure fit.   It is also easy to keep clean … she just wipes it down  with a damp cloth and, on the off chance that she would damage it she figures it was inexpensive enough that she’d just replace it.

It never fails to amaze me that there is an answer to every question if we just look for it.

Transporting made easy …

fold up shopping cart2fold up shopping cart
I love my fold -up shopping cart but I don’t use it for shopping.  I keep it in my front hall closet where it stays nicely tucked away until I need it to lug something around …either in my house or outside.

Now that I’ve relocated my bedroom on the main floor I don’t have to carry things up or down the stairs.  However, I still have much that is cumbersome and it really helps to have my cart handy.

The steel frame construction means that the cart is very sturdy and I needed that recently when I changed a lovely framed picture from the den to my new bedroom.  The picture is 3 x 5’ and quite heavy but I straddled it atop the cart and, although it looked awkward it worked really well.  (Then I just had to wait for one of my sons to stop by and help me hang it !)

I also love the fact that the nylon canvas bag is detachable and water resistant.  That came in very handy when I used it outside recently and tipped an open bottle of vinegar over everything inside.  It was a mess but I just took the bag off and, after I dumped the contents on the deck, I used the hose to wash it down, inside and out.  It air dried in no time at all and I was back in business.

Lastly I like the fact that it has a cover.  No matter what I have in the cart it always looks neat when covered.   So, I’d highly recommend this fold up cart.  Even when weeks go by and I don’t use it I know it is there … taking up very little room in my hall closet.

Her Opticare Eye Drop Dispenser

EYE DROPMy friend Martha wanted me to tell you about this product that has been such a help to her.  She is almost 90 and for the past 3 years has been treated for glaucoma.  She is still living at home and can handle most household chores but she struggled when it came to administering her eye drop medication.

Like many of us as we grow older Martha also suffers with arthritis in her hands.  This made it very difficult for her to hold the small bottle and she would often see the drops rolling down her cheeks instead of into her eyes. She also had a hard time not blinking.

Martha’s opthamologist had made it very clear that it was vital to get the correct dosage in her eyes but that seemed to be impossible for her until he suggested she purchase the Opticare Eye Drop Dispenser.   It has made all the difference.

Martha says she just takes the top off the eye drop bottle and then inserts the bottle into the dispenser. When its closed it becomes an eye cup and the larger size makes it comfortable and easy to handle.  A light squeeze is all it takes to dispense the single drop that is prescribed and she never has to worry about missing the target.
So, once again, we have a very small item with a very large impact !

Utilizing my Spirometer

spirometerTwo years ago I fractured my hip and part of my post-surgery procedure was using the item that you see here. It is an incentive spirometer and is used to help open the airways and prevent fluid or mucus from building up in your lungs.

I had completely forgotten that I had this until I came across it while doing a thorough cleaning of my bathroom closet a few weeks back. When I saw it I decided to test myself. I put my lips around the flexible tube and took a long, slow deep breath in. As I did so the piston inside the large column moved up registering my lung capacity. I was surprised to see that I didn’t get it up very far.

I could barely get it to the 1000 mark and that was less than what I could do while still in the hospital. This really annoyed me but it scared me too. I realized that I did not have the lung capacity that I thought I did. It was a wake up call for me to take some action.

I decided to put the spirometer in the one place where I couldn’t help but see it … on my desk, next to my computer ! … and I’ve challenged myself to using it as often as I can every day. There is a little arrow attached to the big tube and I can set it to the number that I’ve reached. This is my reminder of how high I have been able to raise the piston with my breaths and I strive each time to get it a little higher. I’m happy to report that I can see real progress in the two weeks that I’ve been using this and I plan to keep on doing it.

The spirometer that I have is made by Airlife. It’s very light-weight and the tube comes off for easy cleaning. I highly recommend it to any of you seniors out there who, like me, are living a more sedentary life than you have in the past. Lung capacity is critical to our health and this is such a simple and easy way to increase it.

It’s the little things …

EZ key turner…like this EZ Key Turner that, although very small and inexpensive, greatly   improve the quality of my life.

I can’t tell you how many times I would put that darn house key in the lock and then have to struggle to open the door.  It was very frustrating.  But now with the key turner I find that I have the additional leverage that I need to open the door with ease.  I don’t know how they designed their product to do this but I don’t really care.  All I know is that it works!

There’s nothing complicated about the turners.  You simply snap them over a standard key and you’re set to go.  The EZ Key Turners come two to a pack and in differing bright colors that make it easy to identify which key to use…in my case,  the house key (red) or the post office box key (yellow) .

The other thing that I love is the fact that my two keys with the turners attached don’t get lost in my purse !  No matter how careful I was to put them in the same little pocket I always seemed to lose them among all the rest of the stuff that accumulated there.  Now that’s a thing of the past.

This may seem like a silly little item but I love it.  I guess that’s one of the perks of aging …it doesn’t take much to make me happy !

The ROMEO’s …

RomeosThe last three years of my sisters life were spent in a nursing home.  Her husband was very attentive and, unless he was sick, he was by her side every day.  It was there that he met three other men who were experiencing the same thing.

When I visited Peg my brother-in-law introduced me to his friends and told me that they were the ROMEOs.  I thought it was a cute name for a bunch of elderly men but I learned that it was much more than that.  This was his support group …Retired Old Men Eating Out ! They had been meeting once a week for a long time and had developed a trusting and convivial rapport with each other.  They could compare notes, share stories for managing all sorts of difficulties and, best of all, they never had to feel alone.

Nowadays you can find a support group for just about everything but, as in the case of my brother-in-law, many men are reluctant to join them.  I think this is especially true of senior men.  They don’t feel comfortable talking in groups and often have the stoical attitude of, “I’m doing fine.  I don’t need support”.

Then, of course, you have the men who claim they have no time for a support group since they are so busy caring for their loved ones.  This was the original attitude of the men who formed the ROMEOs.  Their days were full of care giving but they figured that a good meal out once a week might be OK.   Little did they think of this as a “support group” but that’s exactly what it was.

I knew that Peg was being cared for in a loving way by her husband of almost 60 years but it was a relief to know that he was being cared for too …thanks to a little group knows as the ROMEOs.

Shakin’ it up …

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I don’t know about the rest of you octogenarians but I find that I have less and less of an appetite the older I get.  Living alone just exacerbates the situation.  I knew that I needed to keep up my strength if I wanted to stay well but food, or at least the right things to eat, seemed to elude me.  It took a loving daughter to get me on the right track.

She introduced me to Protein Shakes and now it is my breakfast of choice every morning.  It is an easy way for me to get the essential vitamins and nutrients that I had been missing.  (Before I continue I want to caution that shakes may not be for you.  If you are still eating a balanced and whole food diet that will suffice. Obviously I was not.)

My daughter was careful to choose just the right combination of ingredients for me. She knew that I was on a restricted diet that did not include soy, milk, whites (such as white potatoes, white rice etc.) and cut way back on sugars.  The 4 items that you see in the picture are the ones she chose and they work well for me.

Here is my recipe.  I take the juice of one orange, ½ large banana and one tablespoon each of the Vegan Rice Protein, the Aloe Vera juice, the Flax Oil and the Source of Life Liquid and combine them all in my blender.  I then add about ½ cup of unsweetened Silk Almond milk and 4 ice cubes.   When it’s all mixed together this is what I get:

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I have to admit that it took me a few tries to get used to the flavor but now it is part of my morning routine and I look forward to it.

I owe my daughter a lot for doing all the research and thought I would show my thanks by featuring the Protein shake in this cute glass that promotes the business that she and her husband have in Stanfordville, New York. If you are ever in the vicinity searching for antiques or used items drop in to Bowen Barn and tell them “Ginnie sent me.”

Arthritic hands (continued)

Last week I wrote about Ellen and her arthritic hands. She had some good hints about managing simple kitchen tasks. Now I will take it a step further with the help of another friend.

Terry is only in his late fifties but he is already plagued with painful arthritis in his hands and wrists. He is also a man who doesn’t give up and sit back feeling sorry for himself so I was anxious to hear what he could recommend. He swears by the Xtensor Hand Exerciser by Clinically Fit, Inc. and he couldn’t wait to tell me about it. Xtensor Terry was introduced to the Xtensor exerciser two years ago when his doctor recommended it to help him relieve the tendonitis is his wrist. It was while using it that he realized he had less pain in his hands too. He has been using it ever since.

Like so many people Terry has a job where he is using the computer constantly. This repetitive action is really rough on his hands and, on top of that, he is a fine guitarist and that just exacerbates the problem. He says that the Xtensor is different from most hand strengtheners that exercise the muscles that close the hand. It is actually the exact opposite. The Xtensor Hand Exerciser is a gentle resistance training program designed to strengthen the finger extensor muscles that open the hands. This improves the finger joints and makes them more flexible.

Arthritic hands can be unsightly, weak and very painful but at least there are products that make it easier for those of us who suffer from it. The Xtenser Hand Exerciser is one of them.

All hail to ….

mayo

DUKE’S mayonnaise? Yes, I can’t say enough about this wonderful product and let me explain why.

Over a year ago I was diagnosed with SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) and it completely changed the way that I had been eating for over 80 years. Perhaps the biggest challenge was the elimination of sugar. I had no idea how much sugar I consumed in a day and cutting it out of my diet seemed like an impossible challenge.

White flour and milk products were also “no-no”s so that eliminated all cream based recipes. I was frustrated to say the least so when I finally met with a nutritionist and she mentioned that Duke’s mayonnaise was OK because it is sugarless I almost hugged her.  It has made it possible to simulate so many of the old recipes that I’ve relished since my youth.

Chicken salad with nuts and dried cranberries is delicious when mixed with Dukes and served on a bed of lettuce. Salmon brushed with the mayo and fresh lemon juice before broiling takes on a tantalizing flavor and, of course, a combination of Dukes and either beef or chicken broth simulates a cream base that works for hundreds of main dishes.

No matter what age we are it is a good thing to cut back on sugar but it is critical in our senior years when a sedentary life style is so often the case. Now when I invite my elderly friends to share a meal they are amazed at how good it tastes and I give Duke’s the credit.

I hope you will try Duke’s mayonnaise too and perhaps you will share your favorite recipe with us.

Students … a great resource for the elderly

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This is one view of the lovely Community College in my area. It is not only a beautiful place to take a walk but is a wonderful source for obtaining inexpensive cosmetology services.

I have a few friends who don’t think twice about paying $40 for a haircut and wash … or $30 to have their nails cut and painted. However, I live on my social security monthly check and this is more than my budget can handle.

Not to worry. I’ve found that there is a great alternative to those costly beauty salons and I’ll bet there’s one in your area too. It’s at the Cosmetology Department at our Community College.

The students are very anxious to please the customers so they try extra hard.

It’s usually a hodge-podge of customers … elders, like me, and then a lot of their fellow students in the teens.  It’s a fun mix and I enjoy listening to them as they work.

I’ve been very happy with the cost and the results. A shampoo, blow dry and style costs just $7. Of course I include a tip but it’s still only $10 and that’s $30 less than what my wealthier friends pay. If I add a manicure to that it would be an additional $5.00.

Speaking of tending the nails I know that so many of us in our senior years find cutting our toenails a real chore. It’s very important that we keep our feet and toes in good shape so, at just $12, I can well afford to do that.

Check out the Colleges in your area.  I would bet they would have the same services.

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