Monthly Archives: June 2012


My immune system has been severely weakened after years of of fibromyalgia plus last year’s radiotherapy treatments.  Therefore, I get colds and flus very easily and they last forever.  Literally!!  I got a cold in December and I am still coughing 6 months later.  Recently, I learned that that was due to my having Cough Variant Asthma and guess what is one of its triggers?  Yes indeed,  a Cold!  Why do I share this with you?  Well, I am trying to discover some strategies that will keep me healthy on this trip in the fall.  The first important question is how do I avoid contracting a cold while sitting in a viral and bacterial infested airplane?

And if I am so fortunate to walk off that airplane with my immune system still fighting its hardest for me, how do I minimize amy multiple chemical reactions  when I walk into very old buildings- that will most likely include our apartment?  Certainly, those reactions have greatly improved since I can now venture into stores without that “adventure” tossing me back into bed for awhile.  I am hoping gone are the days when Greg, bless his heart, would go into a hotel by himself and request to see the room.  Really, he was “smelling” the room trying to determine whether there were any recent cleaning products that had been used that could negatively impact our holiday.  What will we do in France when I will most likely be bombarded by smells that emanate from older buildings?

Well, those questions have lead me to search for solutions.  My dentist’s wife has a special necklace where she can insert specific aromatherapy oils that she swears help her multiple chemical sensitivities.  The only drawback she said is that people sitting near her don’t always like the strong smell emanating from her “necklace”!

My doctor wants me to wear a filtered mask, but I have resisted that strategy.  Greg was frustrated with me when I refused this solution  since he thinks my health is more important than vanity!  However, since I am usually warm on the airplane I can’t imagine anything less comfortable than my sweating under this ugly contraption!

Obviously, another solution is necessary which is why I became quite excited when I stumbled onto this device called  Ultra-Miniature Air Supply.  It may help me not just on the airplane but wherever there may be increased demands on my immune system and on these frustrating multiple chemical sensitivities and can help prevent an asthmatic attack!  I feel rather confident by its effectiveness since the reviews all seem so positive.  World Travel Guide writes, “Air Supply, the world’s first wearable air purifier, draws in contaminated air and directs purified, germ-free air upward at about the same rate as human breathing. A terrific product for asthma and allergy sufferers.”

I also felt quite encouraged when I read an article by the former editor of Fodor’s and  present assistant editor to Frommers  as he evaluated whether air purifiers work on plane trips.  He writes, ” It’s not scientific proof, but, for example, I think my purifier, Air Supply, works. I don’t believe it’s just a coincidence that the number of plain old ordinary head colds I suffer after flying somewhere has dropped from about half the time to around a fourth of the time, a 50% decrease.”

 There may also be some scientific proof that this “does reduce pollutants, dust, smoke, pollens, bacteria, perfumes orders and allergen particles floating in the air”  Apparently, the manufacturers, Wein Products, performed two year tests at UCLA School of Microbiology, “resulting in 90% reduction in germ colon growth.”

As I was writing this blog, I received a call from my sister-in-law who lives out of town and she is coming for a visit this afternoon. When I told Greg that she had a cold, he immediately questioned whether she should come to see me!  Then he suggested that we sit outside hoping that will decrease my probability of contracting a virus. That was when I told him about this device that I was debating about. Rather than asking, “How much?”  he just responded, “How soon can you get it?”  Apparently, that is my cue to go on the following Canadian site and purchase my own Air Purifier while it is presently on sale for $99.00:


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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in France, Paris, Travel


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I would think that cemeteries would be sad places to walk when we don’t believe in God.  I watched a documentary about Pere Lachaise, a cemetery in Paris, that has the remains of many famous people. The people interviewed who visit regularly never professed any belief in God, although some commented that it would be nice if these people existed someplace else.

 And yet, there was such a respect for the dead as so many volunteers  filled  large bottles of water from the outdoor water tap on the grounds, poured it over the stones and using a cloth  cleaned and shone them.  Often, flowers were left on top of the tombstones.  Sometimes, if it was an artist, a bottle of paint or a paintbrush was left.  If he was a famous writer, a pen would be left. Unfortunately, the best cared for tombstones were those of famous people such  as Chopin, Proust, Maria Callas and Yves Montand. Therefore, there war many tombstones that were not so well kept.

And yet, many family members and friends paid their respects to their loved ones by visiting their tombstones.  Some came every week and even daily to shine the stones and to talk to their loved ones.  I wondered if I should feel any guilt that I  don’t go visit my  parents, but I wondered if I would be more apt to go there  if the cemetery wasn’t so far away.  I have memories as a young girl of my family going to the cemetery every Mother’s Day to visit my paternal Grandma.

I liked it when one tour guide interviewed said  that he has his tourists spend more time with people they  don’t know rather than the famous.  He said he wanted them to “feel a connection not just with famous people but also with people you don’t know.”  Perhaps we have even greater connections to the ordinary men and women since few of us have experienced fame. If those stones could talk, we would hear stories of love, anger, jealousy, betrayal, hard work, sickness, and sadness.  I suppose those same stories are true of the famous.  In fact, one volunteer cleaning a tombstone of a young Italian artist told the story of how this artist’s model and lover jumped out of the window and died and joined him the day after his death!

Certainly I connected to a mother’s love for her daughter who died at 21 years old.  She had all of her young daughter’s poems inscribed on her tombstone.  Sadly, since it hasn’t been taken care of, only a small portion of a poem can presently be seen.  I was moved by the tour guide’s compassion when he told this story and how he was touched when he saw that a flower had been left in memory of her.  When I go there, I would like to find Elisa Mercouer’s tombstone, but the tour guide said that it is difficult to find since so much of the stone is worn and her stone isn’t even mentioned in the booklet that tourists receive.

As the documentary continued, I watched a young pianist become emotional when she discussed her connection to Chopin.  However, the connection was particularly deep since her father loved Chopin and whenever she played this composer’s music, she sensed her dad’s presence and felt that she was playing for him.  So often our connections are held together by some common experience, some memory, or some emotion  and that is why I felt a connection to a young singer who died at 28 years old from cancer.  For some reason I thought of her story when I received today’s e-mail about praying for a cure for cancer:  ” “You can go along for years in remission and then one day it pops its head up again.  If you ever have it you will never be free of it.”  I didn’t find that particularly encouraging since I have had cancer two years in a row.  This young singer had been  living passionately and was following her dreams of becoming a well known singer until she became ill. No matter our age, that is all that we can ever hope to achieve in this life.  My connection with her through this devastating disease inspired me and challenged me to do the same.

As a Christian, I believe that my loved ones are in heaven so that I don’t believe I have a greater connection to my Mom and Dad when I sit by their tombstone.  Yet, there was something lovely to watch all of these people coming by showing their respect to the dead.

Therefore, with Father’s Day  approaching, perhaps I will suggest to my family that we go and pay our respect to my parents. I may even leave two roses on their shared tombstone. And in honour of those many people I don’t know at our cemetery, I will stop at a few and pay my respects.    And when I go to Paris, I will do my best to find  Elisa Mercouer and leave a flower on her tombstone and tell her that she has been remembered.

However, as I walk through these two cemeteries, I know that I will be grateful for my Christian beliefs.  I am confident that my Mom and Dad are spending eternity in heaven and that I will someday see them again.  I am grateful that when I think about how their bodies have returned to dust that I believe that they have souls and that those souls have left their bodies.  Ironically, as I walk through these cemeteries and possibly sense all of our humanity,  I might even sense more particularly the presence of Mom and Dad.  However, I suspect what I might see is the  shaking of their heads when they ask one another,  “Doesn’t she know that we aren’t here?”

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in France, Paris, Travel


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Why don’t Greg and I start looking for places to stay in France this fall?  We have been told that we should book at least several months ahead and yet we keep getting distracted.  First, Greg was working really hard transplanting some shrubs, mowing the grass, planting some new perennials since last year’s efforts didn’t survive.  And me, well all I’ve been doing these past 6 months is cough incessantly which has really worn me down since it has totally disrupted my sleep.  Greg finally convinced me that this was no ordinary cold and I went to the doctor.  She looked at me in disbelief when I told her how long I’ve had this cough.  Apparently, she too thought it wasn’t normal.  In fact, I have asthma.  Unfortunately, since I have waited so long, it is now taking quite a while to get it under control.

Because I was so exhausted from my fibromyalgia that worsens from lack of sleep and from the constant coughing, I decided to do something mindless during the day but that would make me feel like I was accomplishing something.  One of my goals is to reduce the paper in our house and I have begun scanning papers in our filing cabinet and in binders so that eventually I will need less filing cabinets and less shelves.

Rather than scanning or watching French movies, why didn’t I just prop my I-Pad on my lap and look for places to stay?  Well, part of the problem is that I prefer reading books about France and watching French movies  rather than doing the practical necessities of actually planning our trip!  It’s so much easier to find a quiet and comfortable spot in my house and with a cup of tea in my hand read a mystery like Murder In The Latin Quarter by Cara Black.

And I intend to continue this practice but hopefully I will also begin searching on the internet for some nice apartments to stay in while we are in France.  I also know that I must get back to blogging about what I read and watch in DVD’s.  I have a habit of starting projects but not completing them since I find another one that looks more interesting.

For example, my daughter mentioned that she would like to develop a list of activities to do with her little toddler every day.  Well, when I used to be a teacher,  I really enjoyed writing curriculum and  preparing lesson plans.  I quickly offered to help her with this.  I have just completed 4 weeks of activities that include activities in music, building blocks, crafts, playing with magnets and stickers and puzzles.  I have included physical activities, outdoor activities,  a new concept for each week, and a list of appropriate board books to read.   Today I sent her my plans and told her to try them out so that we can improve them for the next month!

In the meantime, I haven’t been writing any blogs about France.  That may not be so bad, but I think it is important that I finish this project.  I get so many ideas that I want to pursue and what my health doesn’t hinder,  my ability to get distracted by wanting to start another project does. Recently, I read that it is important to finish what you start.  Apparently, incompleteness represent instability to our brain!  Therefore, my project to read books mostly about France until we leave should be honoured even if it isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in France, Paris, Travel