November 26, 2022

Today is Holodomor Remembrance Day.  I prepared the following video to show the horrible devastation and cruelty perpetrated by the former Soviet Union on its people.  We must be diligent to make sure that history does not repeat itself.

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November 13,2022

forfacebookappThis post will be different from my usual writing.  Since two remembrance days happen in November and the Soviet famine directly impacted my family I felt that I needed to post the following information.  We must not forget.

This was to be posted on November 11th but my health did not cooperate.  I figure “better late than never.”  It is so important to remember the men and women who fought in World War 1 and World War 2 and in other conflicts not mentioned.  Many of them gave up their lives so that we could live in a democratic country.  We must be diligent not to lose our freedoms.  As we experienced with COVID the world can literally change overnight.  We must make sure that our government officials are people that will uphold the laws that we hold dear.

rememberday

Holodomor was the man-made famine that ravaged the  Soviet republic of Ukraine from 1932 to 1934, peaking in the late spring of 1933.  It occurred in the growing regions of Soviet Russia and Kazakhstan. The Ukrainian famine, however, was made deadlier by a series of political decrees and decisions that were aimed mostly at the Kulaks.  The famine of 1932–34 is often called the Holodomor, a term derived from the Ukrainian words for hunger (hold) and extermination (more).  Stalin was responsible for the murder of 60 million people during his reign from 1928-1934.  Holodomor Remembrance Day occurs on the fourth Friday in November.

At the beginning of November, I had an appointment for an ultrasound with my Hepatologist to discuss the results of my blood work done a few weeks earlier.  Some of the results were higher than normal which was rather disconcerting.  Hopefully, I can get the numbers back down with diet changes and exercise.  Pain can be a hindrance to exercise.

My cardiologist is keeping a close eye on my heart issues.  These episodes of shortness of breath accompanied by a high heart rate are also worrisome.  The EKG device recommended by my cardiologist has been a great investment.  When these issues arise I take an EKG test and email the result to my cardiologist.  If the email gets to him during office hours he calls me immediately; if it happens at night he calls me the next morning.

My family doctor has been a great help by referring me to several amazing specialists.  I have been so fortunate.

Well, I have rambled on long enough until next time.  Take care and keep safe.

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October 19, 2022

Written by my talented daughter, Natasha Klassen.

I am noticing more and more as I go forward in this life that each individual day is an accomplishment for many.

We take this journey together on the lifeboat we call existence. It doesn’t matter if we share our journey through social media, in-person interactions, or other means of connecting. The fact is all of us are and need connection.

Some of our connections bring us comfort, some pain, some happiness, and some sadness. But, together we can keep ourselves afloat, look for dry land when some in the boat are blind, give warmth when some are cold, and give hope to those who have lost the will to stay in the boat.

It is how we treat our fellow lifeboat passengers that will determine if we find rescue in life. Let’s make sure we all make it till the rescue boat arrives. Trouble, the pandemic, and even life does not last forever.

It is the moment we steal from misery and pain with our humanity and kindness. It is the smile we sneak in between the tears. It is the love we share in a turbulent ocean of dissent and hate that makes our lives worth living.

Life was never a promise of ease and perfect moments. It is a journey of trials, tribulations, and many tests. You bring to it the goodness, the love, and the victory over the bad. You make the moments valuable and memorable.

Let’s do this together, fellow travelers. Let’s keep everyone in the lifeboat.

Natasha 12th Night

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September 12, 2022

singingberthaFinally, after several months of dealing with health issues, I am feeling somewhat human.  The constant pain can be very worn on both body and mind.  During three weeks, the pain became so severe that I could not put any weight on my right knee.  Reaching the bathroom a few feet from my bed was a major accomplishment.

With the addition of a new medication, my blood pressure is slowly improving and staying within tolerable limits.  The breathing issues accompanied by a high heart rate remain a problem.  My cardiologist assures me it is not a fatal condition and can be treated with medication.  There has been some talk about a diagnosis of Octopus Heart.  The description of this condition is as follows:

22022-takotsubo-cardiomyopathyTakotsubo cardiomyopathy is an uncommon condition that has similar symptoms to a heart attack. Although the cause of takotsubo cardiomyopathy is not completely known, it may happen because of a sudden surge in adrenaline and other stress molecules in your body, possibly due to triggers like severe emotional stress or other health conditions. Experts suspect that this condition often happens in response to severe physical or emotional stress. People with takotsubo cardiomyopathy typically don’t have a major blockage to their heart’s arteries, but still have a temporary, often severe, change in the heart’s pumping ability.

Though it isn’t a heart attack, takotsubo cardiomyopathy can still be dangerous. In years past, experts believed takotsubo cardiomyopathy was a temporary condition without long-term risks. While most people who develop this condition will fully recover, they are still at a higher risk for long-term heart problems, as newer research shows this condition increases the long-term risk for death or serious health problems compared to people who’ve had heart attacks.

What are some other names for this condition?

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy gets its name from a type of Japanese ceramic jar. These jars have a narrow opening and neck, with a much wider body and base, making them useful for trapping octopus. When you have takotsubo cardiomyopathy, your heart changes shape, making it look like one of these jars.

The following names can also refer to takotsubo cardiomyopathy:

  • Apical ballooning syndrome (or transient apical ballooning syndrome).
  • Broken heart syndrome.
  • Gebrochenes-Herz syndrome.
  • Stress cardiomyopathy (or stress-induced cardiomyopathy).

Are there different types of takotsubo cardiomyopathy?

While this condition is also known as apical ballooning (meaning ballooning around the apex of your heart), there are four subtypes, and only one of them involves apical changes in your heart’s shape. The different types are:

  • Apical. This is the most common type, making up more than 80% of cases. It affects the lower half of your heart and gives your heart the shape from which this condition gets its name.
  • Mid-ventricular. This sub-type affects the middle section of your ventricles (the affected area looks like a belt or ring around your heart). The areas of your heart above and below the belt still function as they should.
  • Basal. Similar to mid-ventricular, the affected area looks like a ring or belt. The difference is that the affected area is higher up. That means the area below the belt is the only area that functions normally. This type is very rare and makes up about 2% of cases.
  • Focal. This is the rarest type, making up about 1% of cases, and it involves a much smaller area than the other types. The affected area forms a bulge-like shape that sticks out noticeably from the rest of your heart, with the opposite side of the heart curving inward toward the bulge.

Who does it affect?

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is most common in women, with research studies showing that women make up almost 90% of cases. Age is also a factor, with this condition being much more likely to happen in women who are past menopause (especially after age 50).

How common is this condition?

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy isn’t common but also isn’t rare, making up 1% to 2% of suspected cases of acute coronary syndrome in general, and up to 10% of suspected acute coronary syndromes in women. Acute coronary syndromes are conditions that reduce blood flow to your heart, and takotsubo cardiomyopathy shares many of the same symptoms that happen with those conditions.

However, the above percentage may not reflect the reality of this condition. That’s because experts first named and defined this condition in 1990, meaning it’s relatively new and not well understood.

Here are some of my flowering plants that did quite well this summer.  The clematis, the red Mandevilla and the miniature rose bush was planted for the first time this spring.

Rosie’s babies enjoying the afternoon playing on the deck..

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June 27, 2022

singingberthaAs I sit here contemplating what I want to write about tonight I am watching the ever-darkening clouds pass over my house coming from the southeast.  We have had so much rain in the last few months that I keep telling my husband that we should definitely be thinking about building an ark.  

I wonder how many of my readers suffer from Restless Leg?  If so does this occur nightly, weekly, monthly, or a few times a year?  So far I have been fortunate and it only invades my world at night and once or twice every two or three months. Have any of you that suffer from this diabolical aliment found a quick way to get relief?  I have found that if I take four puffs from a marijuana cigarette the creeping and crawling up and down my legs is almost instantly gone.

Before I continue I will take advantage of my blog and put in a plug for my Zacharias Family Tree and Genealogy site.

Zachariasfeldpainting-1

Zachariasfeld, South Russia

The website includes not only the names of over 3000 descendants of Wilhelm Zacharias born around 1700 but also includes family stories, translated letters, and personal descriptions of the horrors our ancestors survived. The two man-made famines and the trauma of collectivization were only two atrocities the former Soviet Union perpetrated on its people.

Sadly history is repeating itself today. Again the Russian government is trying to force its regime on the Ukrainian people My grandpa, Wilhelm B. Giesbrecht when offered a return trip to his former homeland refused. He was adamant that the Russian government would never change and that it was ultimately dangerous to return to Ukraine. He stated many times that the Russians would one day attempt a take over of Ukraine. My grandpa was right.

If any of you have relatives that lived in the former Soviet Union between the years 1919 and 1979 whether descendants of Wilhelm Zacharias or not, you will find this website an informative and interesting read.

Back now to my sad and pathetic story.  Thankfully my blood pressure problems are slowly resolving at least I hope they are.  It has been two weeks since my last 214/115 blood pressure reading.  Now the highest numbers hover around 189/110.  Slowly moving out of the stroke zone.  My endocrinologist had good news for me today during our phone appointment.  Apparently, my thyroid numbers are perfect.  I cannot remember the last time my numbers were perfect.  I am on Synthroid 100 mcg and 88 mcg once a day. 

The subject I am about to mention is one that I have given a lot of thought to.  It is a problem that I think affects many families. My experience with split custody is on a very limited basis.  However, what I did observe was enough to make one weep.  I could only watch from the sidelines but my hands were tied when it came to making suggestions that could have improved the situation.  When I was raising my children I tried to teach them manners and behavior that would make them welcome in the homes of our friends.  I taught them that lying and deception were wrong.  I taught them to respect the people around them.  In the last few years, I have observed children that lie constantly, use deception to get what they want, throw temper tantrums, refuse to learn or attend school regularly and the list goes on.  These children have become pros at playing one parent against the other.  One can only imagine how these children treat a step-parent.  I have seen these children encouraged to scoff at, lie to and even manhandle a stepparent. What parent could possibly believe that allowing children to behave in this way is in the best interest of the child?  Sadly the situation is made even worse when one parent uses this misbehavior, in fact, encourages it, to make life hell for the other parent and step-parent.  Not only do these children live in dysfunctional homes but it seems that often one parent does not seem to care what these children will be like as adults.  Who will take care of the mess they will present at the age of 18?  Children are precious and should be cared for properly.  They should be taught how to become decent human beings who care about others and know the difference between right and wrong.  If parents do not teach their children who will?     

IMG_2440AAJust wanted to show off the Petunias we planted this spring.  We were lucky to get two identical plants to put on either side of the garage door.  They took a bit of a beating with the high winds we have had lately but seem to recover well.

Keep well and see you next time.

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May 30, 2022

singingbertha

As a blogger, I have neglected my duties and I apologize yet again. It seems as if I go through periods of writer’s block when absolutely nothing inspires me to write.

We here in Manitoba have finally been granted some nice temperatures hovering between 20C and 24C. However, checking the forecast this morning I noted a “special weather statement” for southeastern Manitoba. The statement reads as follows, “a powerful Colorado low will bring more rain to much of southern Manitoba for the start of the week. The first band of showers and thunderstorms will move in from the south this afternoon and several more are expected before the system finally departs Tuesday evening. Broad rainfall totals of 30 to 50 mm are expected, but precise amounts and timing remain highly uncertain due to thunderstorm development on both sides of the international border. Heavy downpours with much higher localized amounts are possible”.

According to Wikapedia a Colorado low is a low-pressure area that forms in southeastern Colorado or northeastern New Mexico, typically in the winter. After forming, the system moves across the Great Plains.[1] Colorado lows can produce heavy wintry precipitation, and have a general east to northeast movement, impacting regions as far north as Winnipeg and as far east as the Atlantic coast. If upper-level conditions are right, the jet stream can push the low farther south, bringing wintry precipitation as far as Texas. When pushed this far south, the system is often referred to as a “blue norther“.[citation needed] On the more typical track, a Colorado low can be similar to an Alberta clipper.[2] In the winter Colorado lows are responsible for a majority of the snow that the Midwest receives; however, summer systems can trigger long-lasting convective systems, including severe weather.[3] Spring and early summer Colorado low cyclogenesis can result in significant tornado outbreaks over the Great Plains and Midwest.

This past winter and spring we were bombarded with Colorado Lows or Alberta Clippers. We seemed to be bombarded with one blizzard after another, occasionally only days apart. One would pass and another one was right behind it.

Again referencing Wikapedia, an Alberta clipper, also known as an Alberta lowAlberta cycloneAlberta lee cycloneCanadian clipper, or simply clipper, is a fast-moving low-pressure system that originates in or near the Canadian province of Alberta just east of the Rocky Mountains and tracks east-southeastward across southern Canada and the northern United States to the North Atlantic Ocean.[1][2][3]Alberta clippers constitute a major winter-season storm track for extratropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere, tracking across the continent in 2–3 days while affecting weather in parts of the Prairies and central provinces of Canada, as well as the Upper MidwestGreat Lakes, and Northeastern portions of the United States. In rare cases, when a deep upper trough is located over the eastern half of the U.S., they can even impact the plains, Mid Atlantic and Southeast United States. They are associated with cold, dry continental air masses and generate small-scale, short-lived weather events typically producing 8–15 cm (3-6 inches) of snow in a 3-6 hour period. However, they can precipitate sudden temperature drops and sharp winds leading to local blizzard conditions, especially when interacting with moisture from the Great Lakes.[4] [5]

Ever since the pandemic hit my doctor appointments have been “phone appointments”. This type of appointment eliminates the need for a large gas purchase and the inconvenience of sitting in a car for an hour which is the time it takes to drive to Winnipeg. Another plus is that the phone appointment eliminates the need to “dress up” and make oneself presentable to the public at large. The latest phone appointment with my cardiologist was positive. The blood pressure readings I emailed him before my appointment showed an improvement. However, some worrisome spikes were noted. The ECG showed occasional periods of tachycardia. My cardiologist recommended that I continue with the once-a-day blood pressure readings for another month.

These past few months I have been researching hypertension. Blood pressure readings of 200/110 and higher scare me. These high readings are accompanied by pounding pain in my head, a tingly feeling all over my body, dizziness, and nausea. When my blood pressure spikes at night while asleep the above symptoms wake me. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation at https://www.preeclampsia.org., and quote, “women with pre-eclampsia, particularly those who develop the condition early in pregnancy puts women at increased risk for heart disease as well as stroke and high blood pressure later in life. Large population studies have demonstrated that two of three pre-eclampsia survivors will die of heart disease. That’s news to most survivors of preeclampsia and often – sadly – to their doctors.” I certainly was shocked when I read this since I suffered from Pre-eclampsia with both of my pregnancies.  People with preeclampsia — particularly those who develop the condition early in pregnancy — are at greater risk for high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease later in life.

At the present time I am taking four medications for high blood pressure as well as a medication to be used in an emergency. The medications are as follows; Amitriptyline, Metoprolol Tartrate, Hydrochlorothiazide, Cilazapril and an emergency medication called Hydralazine HCL. I take the emergency medication only when my systolic blood pressure is greater than180 or my diastolic is greater than 120.

I would really like to hear from my readers who have experienced pre-eclamsia and developed hypertension. You can email me at widebertha@gmail.com or use the Your Story link in the menu.

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January 13, 2022

Natasha 12th NightThe following was written by my daughter, Natasha.

It is what we do with the time we are given.  I mean to make every moment ring with the truth and the best of the Human Condition. To not let the frailty of my mortality limit my ability to understand and see what lies beyond the limits of our earthly minds.

And, to be greater than the flesh and bone that contains me. Perhaps then when my spirit departs it will join the brilliance of the stars above and twinkle with a thousand shining moments.

The moments that brought goodness to the world. The moments when I did not allow fear or weakness of character to break me. The times when I was able to understand that there is a well from which to drink from that quenches our spirit’s thirst better than hate or vengeance.

This is the most difficult path, to choose the hard decisions and not bow to the wicked to please the many. I come from a people who lived with an integrity honed by the mettle of their refusal to comply with hate.

A quiet purposeful stand against the worst we as humans have to give. A silent NO, a defiant refusal to be a part of cruelty. I hope that in the end I do not contribute to the unnecessary pain that seems to flourish in our world. That I can touch peoples’ hearts and minds to help them overcome their pain.

And, when my grandchildren look up into the vast array of celestial bodies in the night’s sky they will know that they are never alone, that I am there as their guiding star.

When they wake every morning they will see the last twinkle on the horizon to guide them forward. And, at night the brilliant emergence of their North Star to lead them through their darkest hours.

We never really die if in the moments we are given we give back a shining light. We just become sparks of inspiration, hope, and wisdom in a world dark with ignorance, so our children never diminish, but carry all of the light of Humanity into the future.

And, we live to shine in them.

Author: Natasha Klassen

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January 11, 2022

The month of December turned out quite differently than we had expected.  Before I continue I would like to wish all my readers a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Christmas-Wishes-Images-Merry-Christmas-Wishes-2021

My plastic surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Murray called on December 8th and informed me that he had space in an operating room at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg on December 16th.  If I was still interested in having a panniculectomy and a breast reduction he would schedule them for that day.  The surgeries had been delayed for almost two years due to COVID 19 and my answer was a loud yes.  Quite frankly I cannot believe that I was lucky enough to finally get these surgeries over with.  The reason for the surgeries was an uncontrollable skin condition.

I would highly recommend Dr. Murray.  He patiently answered all my questions.  Because I was from out of town and terribly worried about having to go home with a drain he kindly  made arrangements for me to stay in hospital the first night after surgery.  (I had one drain inserted into my abdomen). The nurses looking after me were kind and patient.  Even though they literally ran from room to room to care for patients they did not let any impatience or annoyance show on their part.  They too answered all my questions.  I went back to Winnipeg to see one of Dr. Murray’s nurses on December 20th.  She checked my dressings and bindings, gave me permission to remove the dressings and bindings so that I could shower.

She then sent me home until after Christmas.  I did not have any old fashioned dressings or stitches.  Dr. Murray placed all but three stitiches on the inside of my body which made the application of potassium chloride and polysporin so much easier to apply.  To keep the bandaids in place I had a tube top covering my breasts and a binder covering my abdomen.  My next appointment was on December 30th.  At this time I saw Dr. Murray , after checking on the healing process he permanently did away with the tube top and the binder.  Above is a picture of the binder I wore around my abdomen after my surgery.  The worst of the after surgery problems was the itching caused by the binder and the tube top.

Needless to say that because of the surgery so close to Christmas I decided to use a small tree with fibre optic lights.  My daughter made up two baskets to be placed in my urns on the front porch and fixed up the two wreaths for the front doors.

Her finished products are always beautiful.  She has an online basket business at https://perfectsentiments.ca.  Check it out.  She makes custom baskets for every occasion and every holiday.

We celebrated Christmas on December 26th at my daughter’s house.  We were the six of us.  As always my daughter prepared an amazing Christmas dinner.  Because of the COVID 19 warnings and the increase of infections in our province we spent the rest of December at home.  I slept, read several books and continued to heal from my surgery.  New Years Eve we celebrated by buying a dozen New Years cookies and devouring every last crumb in the box.  They were so good.

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One of the problems I worried about when thinking about my surgery was my occasional heart problems and at times uncontrollable blood pressure.  Thankfully the anesthesiologist who did my pre-surgery checkup assured me that my problems could be handled during surgery.  She assured me that they had medication on hand in the OR that could lower my blood pressure and heart rate much faster than the medication I took on a regular basis.  I was also very impressed with all my records that she had accumulated prior to my appointment with her.  She had records from Dr. Murray, my cardiologist Dr. Rabson and my Hepatologist Dr. Wong.  They did an arterial blood gas while I was in surgery.  I was so afraid of having this done that I asked the resident Anesthesiologist if it could be done after I was sound asleep in the OR.  He asked me why I was so afraid and I told him that when my dad had it done he had nearly broken my hand.  The resident was incredibly kind and spoke to the anesthesiologist on my behalf.  He came back and told me that the arterial blood gas would be done after I was asleep.

I am hoping that I will be able to stablize my blood pressure in the next little while.  It is scary to wake up to a blood pressure of 198/110.  Thankfully the beta blockers I got in emergency after one of my more severe episodes of high blood pressre have helped to bring the numbers down.  It does take patience since the problem is not always fixed after just one beta blocker.  I went for my six month blood work on Monday and will be meeting with my Hepatologist, Dr. Wong on January 20th.  We have Telehealth appoinments which save us a trip into Winnipeg and an hourly parking fee of $12.00.

I have rambled on long enough.  Thank you for your interest in my site.  In closing I wish you all a very Happy New Year filled with much joy, many blessings and leave you with wonderful memories to cherish.

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November 25, 2021

thanksgiving-glitter-gif-animated-picture-1Happy Thanksgiving to my American family and friends. It has been rather cold these last few days with the temperature at -11C with a wind chill of -19C.  We are certainly going to have a white Christmas.

BlogholodomorBlogholodomor2Blogholodomor3

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November 19, 2021

Front Door View Large Web viewFinally my energy level is such that I can attempt to write a blog.  I keep apologizing for being so slack with my entries however I am really trying to do a better job.  Please bear with me.

October has come and gone without any snowfall.  However we got hit with a blizzard on November 11th and 12th and it is obvious that winter is here to stay. Our daughter’s birthday was on November 12th but we had to cancel our plans to celebrate at her place.  Many of the main roads were closed and it was much too dangerous to travel to Winnipeg.  We celebrated her birthday on Sunday, November 14th. A few pictures of our daughter through the years:

 

getyourkrackenonHer television channel on Roku called Subgenres is up and running.  The address is https://my.roku.com/.  In case any of you are interested the site description is as follows:  “Steampunks! We are here for you! Subgenres is a channel that celebrates the amazing multiverse of Steampunk and the vast array of subgenres that exist within it. This channel offers programming focused on costuming, DIY upcycled props, historic and reimagined pasts/futures, creatives, music, performers, news, events, festivals, conventions, food, and a vast array of related content. Subgenres channel is for all Steampunks, we Steampunk around the world! Here’s looking at you, you beautiful Steamirific world! Join us daily for your dose of steam, we endeavour to rock your clocks and grind your cerebral gears with awesome content from all over the globe.” 

My blood pressure and EKG monitoring will continue for another three months.  The purchase of a blue tooth enabled blood pressure monitor and EKG device have certainly paid off.  It has saved me many trips to Winnipeg.  Once a week I send the results of both to my cardiologist after which he gives me a call to discuss the latest readings.

Another trip to hospital by ambulance occurred the morning of November 2nd.  For no reason that I could think of my blood pressure kept rising throughout the morning.  When it got to 199/113 with a heart rate of 135 I got scared and my husband called 911.  It took all afternoon and evening to finally get my blood pressure back to a reasonable number.  A new blood pressure was added to the one I am currently taking.  It is called Metoprolol Tartrate 25 mg.  It is suppose to stabilize both my blood pressure and heart rate.  Hopefully the medication will do what is expected.

In the last few weeks I have been reading books by Elly Griffiths.  Her novels are inspired by the work of her husband who trained as an archaeologist and by her aunt who lives on the Norfolk Coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area.  Her first novel “The Crossing Places” has been published worldwide in more than a dozen countries.  Another author whose work I have been enjoying is Thora Gudmundsdottir.  

My husband and I have been translating a Journal written by an ancestor Franz Issac, Olgafeld, Ukraine, South Russia born in 1871.  It has been time consuming and complicated at times since it is written in the old German script.  However the more you work with this old script the easier it gets.  The Journal is providing new information and confirming information received from other sources.  

Time to call it a day.  Hope you are all enjoying your weekend.  Goodnight.

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