Tuesday, July 31, 2012

aging nastiness—"cottonmouth"

In the last few years I have found I often wake up during the night with a very dry mouth. I never connected this with aging, however, until one day my husband came home with a mouthwash sample from his doctor designed to help with this very thing in aging specimens like us. So dry mouth is another symptom of aging? Who knew?

A little sleuthing around on the internet led me to some interesting information about this rather common condition. Here are a few fast-facts (gleaned from the article "Dry Mouth and Its Effects on the Oral Health of Elderly People" from the Journal of the American Dental Association—JADA.

Causes of dry mouth (the medical name for the condition is xerostomia)

1. Drugs
The street drug methamphetamine is notorious for producing dry mouth. So is alcohol.

2. Aging
The aging of the saliva glands per se may not be the problem, since aging brings along with it a lot of other baggage, such as:
  • Chronic illnesses like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Sjogren's Syndrome.
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs given for conditions of aging. Some known to cause dry mouth are anti-depressants, diuretics, alpha and beta blockers and many more (consult the article above for a more complete list).
  • Nighttime dryness. I quote from the article above: "Nighttime mouth dryness is most common because salivary output reaches its lowest circadian levels during sleep and the problem may be exacerbated by mouth breathing."

3. Chemotherapy

4. Radiation therapy

Why is dry mouth a bad thing?

1. It's uncomfortable.
2. Saliva is necessary for mouth health and tooth preservation.

What can you do about it?

1. Visit the doctor to discover the cause behind your dry mouth symptoms,  especially if this is a major, continuing, quality-of-life problem.

2. If it's a problem during the day, chew sugarless gum, mints or candy to stimulate saliva production.

3. To guard against tooth decay, brush teeth at least twice a day, floss, and visit the dentist more often.

4. Use mouthwashes and rinses. I've been using the Biotene rinse my husband's doctor recommended (with indifferent results, I might add;  I'm not convinced it's making much difference).

5. My solution: park a bottle of water on my bedside table. Then when I wake at night with cottonmouth, pasties, drooth,  or doughmouth I just take a sip and look forward to morning when my mouth will feel normal again.  


Xerostomia (Wikipedia)

Dry Mouth (Dr. David Fox)

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012


(On display at the Quilt Museum in La Conner, Washington)


Thursday Challenge

Next Week: TOUGH (Strong, Durable, Difficult, Conditioned, Mighty, Hard,...)

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

promptings potpourri (grumpy old people etc.)

My brain needs a break from dwelling on its degeneration. This week I have a potpourri of links so you can read what others have to say about the topic of aging from a variety of perspectives.

On Physical aging:

From the Globe and Mail: "For Diane Keaton, aging is to laugh."

Also from the Globe and Mail: "Why is walking in the woods so good for you?" (I'd say at any age!)

On Social aging:

From BBC NEWS: "Grumpy old people 'can't help it'" (an article about why oldsters don't get the joke; don't miss the comments).

On old thoughts and ideas:

As someone who is of a different generation than the movers and shakers of today, do you sometimes feel like the younger generation views your thoughts and ideas as irrelevant? "Like compounds and breakfast items, all ideas do not expire equally. We are thus badly mistaken to dismiss a thought solely because it is old," writes Jill Carattini in the article "Expiration Date" on the RZim.org site.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

book review: Ascent From Darkness by Michael Leehan

“One Saturday afternoon as I sat on my red corduroy couch my heart filled with anger toward a God who seemed distant, even cruel. My tiny snatches of knowledge about this God of the Bible had built the picture of a tyrant in my mind’s eye…. Hadn’t God created a fear-based system with the threat of hell that forced people to bend their knees to Him, not out of love, but out of self-preservation? ….

Finally, I said, ‘God, I will not serve You. I will not serve a God of fear and punishment, who forces His victims into submission. I will serve the dark side.’ And I blurted out, ‘Satan, come into my life. You are now my god. Use me, have me, and control me for your purposes.” (Michael Leehan, Ascent From Darkness, Kindle Location 478)

Michael Leehan describes the incident, above, in his book Ascent from Darkness: How Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior. His decision to serve Satan that Saturday was the culmination of years of disappointment and turmoil. His painful, undisciplined childhood was followed by a youth dominated by pain-killers and alcohol. His marriage began happily but ended in divorce after nine years leaving him hurt, lonely, and missing his three young kids. It was shortly after the divorce that he decided to give his life to Satan.

Most of Ascent From Darkness is a description of the next 20 years of Leehan’s life, spent in satanic servitude. It is a disturbing account of occultic entanglement, showing a dedication on his part that would put many Christians to shame. He did things like buy and carry copies of the Satanic Bible to put in church sanctuaries and Sunday School room, and infiltrate Bible studies and home groups to sow theological confusion and seduce women. At one point he observed a long fast to gain spiritual power. His arms were scarred from the numerous cuts he inflicted on himself while absorbed in spirit communication. His deepening involvement led to daytime blackouts when he channeled spirits and nights disturbed by spooky phenomena, fear, and torment. He obsessed over how to carry out his assignment to kill his girlfriend’s pastor and then commit suicide himself.

He eventually broke free in a miraculous encounter with God—an ending that made this dark book worth reading. Though some have criticized it because it deals almost exclusively with the dark years of Leehan’s life, I found the book a worthwhile read for other reasons as well:

  • It disclosed the fearful price that Satan exacts in loyalty, obedience and servitude.
  • It showed how Satan's promises are lies.
  • It illustrated, by contrast, the light, life, freedom, and joy we have in Christ—things it's easy for us to take for granted, until we've experienced (vicariously, through reading about it was experience enough for me) what life on the dark side is like.
  • It gave insight into what may be behind many of our society's bizarre and self-destructive behaviours (like the prevalence of cutting, the spirit of lust that has not only taken down lay-Christians but many pastors too, and rampant suicide) and gave clues as to how to minister to demonically oppressed people.
  • Mike's spiritual zeal for and commitment to the dark side puts me to shame as I compare it to my zeal and commitment to Jesus.

Mike Leehan’s own words about why he wrote the book are powerful and instructive for those curious about the occult and those wanting to warn loved ones about the dangers of getting involved in it or help them break free from it:

"I have learned the only thing that evil can take over is darkness. Darkness invades our lives when we shut out the light of God's love. But where there is light, there cannot be darkness. Light pierces darkness and illuminates the truth.

We must realize that we are in a world that is spiritually intertwined. There is more to our existence than the obvious. We must open our eyes to see the spiritual realm, which is very real and very powerful. And we must learn the weapons of our adversary, not only to avoid becoming ensnared by darkness but to be able to reach into that darkness to rescue others, like me, with the light. We are instruments of change. We are powerful vessels carrying an eternal cargo of either life or death.

The reason for sharing my story in this book is to demonstrate the power of God over Satan and to show how merciful a God we have in heaven. To give Him the glory and praise, and to demonstrate the power of love over fear, to show the love our Father has for us, to let God's light expose the darkness—but mainly to facilitate the hope that by reading this story, people might turn to the King of Kings!"
- Mike Leehan, Ascent from Darkness, Kindle Location 3462.

Title: Ascent From Darkness: How Satan’s Soldier Became Christ’s Warrior
Author: Michael Leehan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, October 4, 2011, Paperback, 272 pages (Kindle version 441 KB).
·  ISBN-10: 0849947030
·  ISBN-13: 978-0849947032

I received this book as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

Linked to Semicolon Blog - Saturday Review of Books: July 21.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Green Sea Turtle basking in the sun 


The Green Sea Turtle is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle, according to Wikipedia and The Hawaiian Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) site. What was this turtle doing on the beach near our Polynesian Shores condo (Maui) on the sunny January afternoon we saw it? According to the Hawaiian Green Turtle site above, it was probably basking:

"One interesting behavior of the Hawaiian green turtle is its fondness for crawling ashore at isolated sites in order to bask. Basking is rare among marine turtles, and has been observed in only a few populations in the Pacific. Hawaiian green turtles bask, but this behavior seems to be limited to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It is thought that they do this for thermoregulation (they like to warm up in the sun), resting (they like to sleep in the sun), and perhaps for protection from tiger sharks (they don't like to be eaten). Sounds just like people to us."

Thursday Challenge

Next Week: SYMMETRY (Balanced, Similar, Rhythmic, Centered, Harmonious,...)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

the aging artist

"America grows older yet stays focused on its young. Whatever hill we try to climb, we're over it by fifty — and should that hill involve entertainment or athletics we're finished long before. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but supermodels and newscasters, ingenues and football players all yield to the harsh tyranny of time. They turn on Fortune's wheel. Look what happens to the overnight sensation or pick of the week or fashion of the season or rookie of the year. First novels have a better chance of being noticed than a fourth or fifth. Although we're aging as a nation we don't do it willingly: The face-lift and the tummy-tuck are — against the law of gravity — on a commercial rise....

"This book is about tribal elders in the world of art. What interests me is lastingness: how it may be attained. For obvious reasons, this has become a personal matter; I published my first novel in 1966 and very much hope to continue. Too, such hope feels representative: a "generational" problem in both senses of the word. An ever-growing number of Americans are middle-aged or elderly; no natural catastrophe has thinned our swelling ranks. And the habit of creation does not die, so there are more who paint the sunset or take piano lessons or hunt the perfect end-rhyme at day's end. Our generation, like all others, yearns to produce some something that continues — and the generative impulse, when artistic, lingers on."

So begins the Introduction to Nicholas Delbanco's book Lastingness: The Art of Old Age. In it he explores how aging affects artists. He extracts thoughts about aging artists, their processes and persistence from people like Monet (who had cataracts) and John Updike who was still at work on writing projects when he died  in 2009 at 76 years of age.

An article about Delbanco's book on the NPR site explores some of the book's ideas as well as treating us to a 6-minute interview with Delbanco.

 The three questions Delbanco asked John Updike were:

1. How have your work habits changed at present from the days when you were an apprentice to the trade?

2. How have your aspirations changed; do you think of a day's work as "more of the same" or have you set yourself different goals?

3. Can you point me to a passage — or passages — in your own writing which deals with these issues, either head-on or obliquely?

Here's a snippet from Updike's answer to #3.:
"By and large what lasts best is the most concrete, the most actual, delivering to the reader a piece of earth and humanity. Aesthetic flourishes fade and wrinkle, though they may get attention when new. A blunt sincerity outlasts finely honed irony, I would think. An ability to see over the heads of important contemporary issues into the simple truth of daily life is what we can respond to a century later. . . ."
Read Updike's complete answers HERE (partway down the page).

How would you answer the questions Delbanco asked Updike?

  • A Bible thought:
"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."  - Galatians 6:4-5 (Message)

  • Liesel Mueller has written a wonderful poem about Monet and his vision problems. "Monet Refuses the Operation" begins:
Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being . . .

Read entire...

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Thursday, July 12, 2012


Squirrel in Motion


Thursday challenge

Next week:  SUPREME (Largest, Tallest, Best, Highest, Fastest, Ultimate,...)

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Thursday, July 05, 2012


A delicious meal with water


Thursday Challenge

Next week: MOVEMENT (Dancing, Jumping, Running, Falling,...)

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

family special (#1024-1036 of gifts unending)

"Put a grain of boldness into everything you do." - Baltasar Gracian

I can hardly believe that the first long weekend of the summer is already history. Hubby and I packed up and drove east to visit the kids for part of he Canada Day long weekend. Of course they figure largely in my list this week.

1024. The new shed and grassed back yard are the perfect place to play.

1025. We're so proud of Liam who has learned to ride his bike in the last few days.

1026. Little Myelle is getting cuter every day. Love the trendy leggings to go with her green top. Yes, it's summer, but those baby knees need protection even in summer during the crawling stage.

On Friday Ernie and I explored a new-to-us park - McArthur Island.

1027. I loved the Butterfly Garden (which was partly underwater).

1028. ...and the Saskatoon berries found in the native plants section.

1029. But the real treat was sighting a painted turtle lounging on the log with the ducks.

1030. Along with a lot of flickers.

1031. and a bold little beggar.

1032. Plus the marmots. I think they basically own the park.  I took so many marmot photos, I've put together a little gallery.

1033. The weekend had some special hours of Grandma time—like Saturday morning when the kids and I lounged about on the hide-a-bed, watching Bambi.

1034. I came away wishing I had young eyes again. Liam and David see everything! Liam spotted a moth on the ceiling and another well-camouflaged one on the stair rise.

1035. On Saturday Ernie and I took a walk along the dike beside the North Thompson as well. Though we managed to get to the riverside trail and travel along it for a bit, the water soon chased us to higher ground. Here's a spot where the path normally dips to lower ground—washed out of course.

1036. Saturday afternoon we all went to McArthur park for another walk. Here is the little family, out walking in their various ways.

1035. We saw the turtle again too!

1036. This week I am waiting for my shipment of books to arrive. While I wait, I'm doing a little promotion. Pre-order Destiny's Hands by Saturday, you get it for only $15 (regular retail $17.99) and I'll pop it in the mail for you as soon as they arrive.  Email me to set it up.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

seniors with eating disorders

The headline, "Eating disorders can hit at any age" snagged my attention and I read the fascinating intro:

"Some starve themselves all day so that by night, the restraints are off; once the eating starts, they can't stop.

"Some women who never had an eating disorder in their lives are suddenly engaging in bulimic behaviours: throwing up, restricting food intake and exercising obsessively.

"Others are abusing hormones—the very pills women once abandoned in droves over studies linking their use with an increased risk of invasive breast cancer—to try to stop the weight gain that is their body's normal response to menopause.

"It is the new look of eating disorders: middle-aged and older women who are struggling with abnormal eating behaviours and attitudes once only seen in girls and younger women" - Susan Kurkey, "Eating disorders can hit at any age," The Province, June 22, 2012.

The article goes on to describe research and conclusions (U.S.-based but I'm sure applicable to Canada too). I'll list some of the highlights Kirkey touches on:
  • This new preoccupation with weight has seeped into even the Baby Boomer generation (defined as those born in 1946 and on).
  • There are few eating disorder services for this age group.
  • A main cause for this fixation on appearance and weight is what this group (we) are being told in the media and commercials:
- That we shouldn't look like we're aging.
- That we should do almost anything to hide the signs of aging.
- That with enough effort, we'll remain young-looking forever.
  •  While at the same time
- Our metabolism is changing
- Hormone changes mean we're packing on weight in different places. (The article reports complaints about disappearing waistlines.)
  • Social factors also contribute to this trend:
- Divorce
- Empty nest
- Re-populated nest (when adult kids come home to live with us again—sometimes even bringing their kids).
- Sandwich stresses of caring for our own kids and aging parents at the same time.
  • Symptoms of an abnormal fixation on weight and appearance encompass a wide range and can include:
- Weighing every day
- Intentionally skipping a meal a day.
- Constantly counting calories and fat grams.
- Excessive exercise.
- Binge eating
- Purging (making yourself vomit after you've eaten).
- Abusing laxatives.
- Using diuretics.

If we find ourselves here, it's important to get help. Because continued disordered eating can lead to osteoporosis, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular problems. Anorexia has been associated with sudden cardiac arrest.

I don't know about you, but I relate to such behavior more than I'd like to admit. It's nice to know that I'm sort 'normal' for my age. Yet I ask myself, shouldn't the fact that I am a Christian with Jesus as the Lord of my life make a difference to all this?  While one aspect of that is being a good steward of my body (giving it regular exercise and proper nourishment) too much focus on how I look is a sign something's out of whack.

If my eating disorder is an aspect of relieving stress (and I used to eat to relieve stress, so I know a bit about that), perhaps I need to get to the root of my anxiety, remembering God invites me to bring it to Him. My life verse (Philippians 4:6,7) has been a constant reminder to me about this:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

If my eating disorder is an aspect of wanting to look good for self esteem, perhaps Romans 12:1-2 is a good reminder. Here it is from The Message version:

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
As you think about these things, I'll leave you with two thought-provoking bits from Dale Hanson Bourke's book Embracing Your Second Calling.

Something to do:
"Have you had a physical lately? Do you have a doctor you can talk to about what you are experiencing physically and mentally as you go through this stage of life? Find a doctor you can trust and be sure he/she takes time to listen to your concerns" - p. 39.
Something to think about:
"In what ways have you been proactive in life and how have you been reactive? As you look at the next phase of life, how would you define a healthy proactive outlook?" - p. 40.
  • Do you see any aspects of yourself described in this article? 
  • What are you doing to maintain a balance between letting yourself go and being over-concerned about your physical appearance, especially as it relates to weight?

Read the entire article: Eating disorders can hit at any age
Related articles:  
- Fact sheet on eating disorders
- Why it might be healthier to accept our natural sizes

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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

Pause for a minute to listen to our national anthem, accompanied by a moving slide show, created by photographer Mario Dimain.

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