Venice, Italy and Lake City, Colorado

My husband and I were in Venice, Italy this October, just 24 days before the worst flooding in 50 years. I really connect with Venice. Venice is a delicate island ecosystem and it reminds me of home. My husband and I live at almost 9,000 feet above sea level, in the tiny mountain village ecosystem of Lake City, CO.

Last October began an unprecedented snowfall for us that continued through May. According to our local weather man Phil, we received approximately 55″ from November 2018 thru February 2019 and approximately 43″ in March of 2019!!! (Which beat the 1906 record)

Unprecedented avalanches followed. It was mind boggling and heart wrenching for me to see where we had just been walking around Venice, was now flooded. This past winter, it was mind boggling and heart wrenching for me to see, about 20 minutes after I had driven out of our valley, an avalanche pushed down the mountain and into that exact same spot where my car had been.

And oh yea, as I write this, it’s been snowing for 24 hours now.

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This November 30th picture is a month or two ahead of what I’d say is ‘normal’ for the river on our nature trail to look like.

Many Venetian churches and museums have flooded. We were recently enjoying the historic beauty of St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, which have since flooded. The damage the salty sea water does to centuries old mosaics and buildings won’t be known for a long time yet.  In Lake City, our sheriff’s house was destroyed by an avalanche as he and his family slept – mercifully, everyone lived.

More than 20 million visitors visit Venice each year, compared to its permanent population of 55,000. Lake City has about 300 permanent residents. In the summer our population swells to around 3,000.

Venice has seen loads of cancellations. Many would be tourists saw the floodwater footage and decided not to go to Venice. The waters have subsided, and most of the museums are open again. The city is as beautiful as ever — even more beautiful, locals might say, with its current lack of visitors. I understand the beauty of having your home to yourself; as it gets tiresome being inundated with visitors. Our mountain’s natural peacefulness returns when the visitors finally leave.

 

But the Venetians have suffered devastation, and what they need now is to be busy with visitors — people need to make money to survive the losses they’ve had. If tourists decide not to come, people who desperately need money will suffer, because Venice is based on tourism.  

 

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This past year Lake City was expected to be devastated with flooding as the unprecedented snowfall melted – thankfully the flooding didn’t happen. Still, tourism was way down and businesses suffered as would be visitors listened to the reports on national news and newspapers, of probable floods.

 

It’s late November now and it is cold. Our glorious Indian summer days are over. Highs of 32 and much lower will be the norm, along with the onset of single digits and negative temperatures. But dressed in warm layers, with calm sunny, blue sky days, bringing up firewood, walking with the dogs in the mountains, our days are generally delightful and cozy.

 

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However, as I write Lake City is not having a cozy day. It’s just nasty outside – windy cold – an awful combination. It has been snowing all day today. Prayers Venice will not continue with flooding rains. Prayers we are not having another harsh, very snowy winter!

 

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Our little sheltie girl Joy out walking today.

 

Too often visitors come to Lake City and don’t show respect for our environment as they ‘forget’ / don’t care / think it would be fun to see a bear – and they leave food out on their grill or campfire or in their non-bear proof garbage container. They don’t care about the noise or the carbon footprints they make – it’s their vacation! Likewise visitors have been offensive in Venice with swimming in the canals and  demonstrating  private, bedroom behavior, in public places – like under the Rialto Bridge. It’s not just your vacation – it’s home to some of us!

 

Good and services are much more expensive in remote places like Lake City and Venice, where everything has to be brought in. Though cold, I can imagine how beautiful Venice would be at Christmas. Though cold, Christmas in Lake City is adorable and romantic. It is neither easy nor inexpensive to live in these secluded spots. However, for some of us this is our choice, our home and we feel blessed.

 

“May you live all the days of your life.”  J. Swift
julie@handsbestrong.com

Living in the Mountains

Celebrating Thanksgiving and Being Grateful

IMG_4898.jpgCelebrating Thanksgiving and Being Grateful

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving! I love that there’s a holiday centered on being grateful; with no pressure to send cards, buy presents or even decorate. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It’s interesting to me to think about people all over our country doing the same thing – sitting down to a feast of turkey, cranberries, potatoes and pies – with friends and family and being grateful.

As life changes, so do holiday celebrations…when Bruce and I were 1st married we lived in Tulsa, OK and our parents lived in Ft. Worth, TX. As young newlyweds we were so glad for the ‘breathing room’ between us and our parents.  Generally, we didn’t really even notice that there were other people in the world. We went to Ft. Worth for either Thanksgiving OR Christmas and totally enjoyed having the other holiday completely to ourselves.

David, our 1st born, was a January baby – after his birth we started going to TX for ‘all’ the holidays. Decades later, after parents could no longer have the family gatherings at their home, we were the host for numerous years; until we moved. A cousin then took over hosting. Eventually, Bruce’s folks were in their 90’s and too fragile to take out. We then went to the ‘retirement center’ where they lived and finally, it was just Bruce’s dad.

Howard died in late October 2017. We were too spent that Thanksgiving and ignored a potential invitation. Last Thanksgiving, 2018 it was again just the two of us and I felt – kind of sad, missing the gatherings we use to have with more people.

I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving this year with other people. I thought of our widower friend Don, being alone, as well our new friends, Sylvia and Bill. Everyone was pleased and accepted quickly. For various reasons, after some back and forth, it was finally agreed that we would all go to Sylvia and Bill’s new home for Thanksgiving. Daughter Terry has just moved back to Lake City and she brought friends Mike and Parker to Thanksgiving dinner.

Sylvia, your daughter, Terry, is so like you: vivacious, interesting and pretty, too. I felt like I just made another girlfriend! Thanks Sylvia for all of your wonderful, delicious efforts and warm hospitality! It was fun!

Today it’s really, really snowing – hard and long. All of us Lake City folks, living here at 9,000 feet, are doing the same thing – dealing with the snow. I’m thinking, those of us not removing the snow with a vehicle and plow, we are using some of those extra calories we stored up yesterday.

I am thankful for healthy bodies and being strong enough to move snow and bring up firewood. And yes, I am thankful we get to live here! And too – as in a romantic comedy, but this is my life, as we are shoveling snow my husband of 42 years calls out to me, “I love you Julie!” Aw!!!!!

Something else to be incredibly thankful for is our local veterinarian; knowledgeable, personable Linda – who also makes house calls!

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, I was able to text with Linda and she communicates that the medicine we need for Joy, our sheltie, is in the picnic basket between their garage doors – I love living in Lake City! This morning, before it was really snowy, Linda came to our home to check on Joy. Thank you again Linda!

I am also really grateful for my readers – thank you – thank you!

Do you have dogs? What kind? How’s your veterinarian situation?  How was your Thanksgiving? What are you grateful for?

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“May you live all the days of your life.”  J. Swift
julie@handsbestrong.com

Living in the Mountains

Overcoming Osteoporosis

 

MOST EXCELLENT NEWS!!!

Listen Up!

Had Osteoporosis

Now I Don’t!!!

 

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I am not telling anyone what to do. This is simply information I have gathered, made as straightforward as I could make it,

along with my experience:

I am (my birthday was days ago) 63-year-old, Caucasian, female, who has always been physically active. I have never been a smoker or drinker, and have a healthy body weight and healthy eating habits.

When I was 60 I freaked out when I was found to have osteoporosis. I didn’t like the idea of being on medicine – it has been my observation that too often medicines, especially over a long period of time cause horrible side effects. Also, as much as possible, I want to be in control of my health and change any part of my lifestyle as needed, rather than pop a pill.

I live in a little mountain village and have a good, personal relationship with my health care provider – so that I am not just another patient who gets the standard treatment – because that’s not what I want.   

***I know where I made my health mistake – I wrongly thought that with my healthy life style I could forgo supplements.  

Information on taking supplements varies. For me it is vital to take supplements along with my healthy lifestyle to maintain my health.

 

When I calmed down I heard that I was just over the line that marks having osteoporosis. My health care provider agreed with the advice I had from my good friend and retired nurse Judy – take 2 calcium daily, 1 in the AM and 1 in the PM making sure vitamin D is included. Keep up my healthy active lifestyle and healthy diet.

 

Just FYI an OB/GYN I saw in a nearby town automatically thought that the pharmaceutical recommendation of being on meds for osteoporosis for 2 years (before making a new assessment) was the way to go. ***She and I had just met and did not have a close, individual health care relationship as I do with my health care provider here for years – vital to me.

 

***Yesterday I got the report from my bone scan 2 days before, that I no longer have osteoporosis!!!

 

Osteoporosis is a disease in which there is loss of bone mass and density.

Risk factor for osteoporosis that are uncontrollable: gender, age,  and ethnicity

Women are 4-times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.

After age 30, bone mass naturally begins to decline with age. 

Caucasian and Asian women are at the highest risk for the development of osteoporosis.  

Risk factor for osteoporosis that are controllable: smoking, excessive drinking,  underweight, lack of exercise

 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH): A BMI of less than 18.5 means that a person is underweight. A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is ideal.

 

Calculate BMI by dividing weight in pounds (lb) by height in inches (in) squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703. When using a handheld calculator, if your calculator has a square function, divide weight (lb) by height (in) squared, multiply by 703, and round to one decimal place.

 

Two easy BMI calculators below

https://bmicalculatorusa.com/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/in-depth/bmi-calculator/itt-20084938#

 

 

Researchers have shown a direct link between smoking and decreased bone density.  

 

Research has shown that regular consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of developing osteoporosis.  Consuming more than four alcoholic drinks per day may double the risk of osteoporosis related fractures.  In the United States, a standard drink is defined as 12-ounces of beer, 5-ounces of wine, or 1.5-ounces of distilled spirits.

 

 

Studies have shown that women who sit for more than 9-hours per day are 50-percent more likely to have a hip fracture compared to those who sit less than 6-hours per day.  Bone, like muscle, becomes stronger with exercise.  The stress of exercise stimulates bone cell activity.  Exercise also promotes balance, which can decrease the likelihood of falls and fractures.

 

Two types of exercises may help prevent osteoporosis:  weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.  Examples of high-impact weight-bearing exercises are dancing, hiking, jogging, and tennis.  Examples of low-impact weight-bearing exercises are elliptical machines, stair-step machines, and walking on a treadmill.  Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises are lifting free weights, using elastic exercise bands, and lifting one’s own body weight with pull-ups or push-ups.  Walking is the best exercise for me. I walk with our dogs, in our mountains, on and off throughout the day(s) I also keep hand weights in my bedroom window seat and lift them 3x’s off and on throughout each day. I do a video of Tai Chi. I climb stairs and carry firewood, etc –

 

At least 30-minutes of exercise most days of the week, provides the greatest benefit to bone health. I wear a Fit Bit.

 

In addition, the National Osteoporosis Foundation reports some medicines may cause bone loss.

 

Life is hard enough. Aging is hard enough. Being healthy and strong is everything (to me) doing all I can to stay as healthy and as strong as possible is vital to my happiness! I am getting up from the computer now and bring up firewood and going walking with our dogs again on our nature trail. *Life is Good!

How about you?

Venice, Florence, and Rome

In October 2019 Bruce and I went on a Rick Steves Tour Group to Venice, Florence, and Rome

 Burano, an island off Venice, Italy

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” -St. Augustine

Venice was founded over 1,500 years ago on 117 different islands that are linked by 150 canals and 400 bridges.

Venice: uniquely picturesque, absorbing, romantic, historic, a pioneer, and definitely a survivor.

I find it fascinating that the current buildings are built on the original wooden piles!  How can that be – well, the wood is secured because the soil is so water logged that there’s no free oxygen in it, so there’s no decay.

To make the islands fit for living, Venice’s early settlers drained areas of the lagoon, dug canals and supported the banks in preparation for building. On top of these stakes, they placed wooden platforms and then stone and then the buildings.

Venice is at constant risk for flooding. The city has survived Napoleon, and two world wars. When the plague struck, Venice invented the concept of quarantine. What a survivor!

Michelangelo’s David

This centuries old original sculpture of the David is in the Accademia Gallery of Florence. David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, created in marble between 1501 and 1504, by the Italian artist Michelangelo

Being practically alone with Michelangelo’s David was a tender hearted, mind-boggling experience.

Some interesting little know facts about Michelangelo’s David:

Michelangelo created David from a piece of marble that had been  discarded by other sculptors. The block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces proves the cliché: one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

 Agostino di Duccio gave up on a project using the block, after which the marble was untouched for 10 years. Then, Antonio Rossellino tried to work with the block of marble but also gave up on it.

The block of marble had been waiting for 40 years when Michelangelo was up to the challenge of carving the marble. 

Also, something like 8 million visitors a year tread through the Galleria dell’Accademia to take in the sculpture of David. Studies show that all this foot traffic creates vibrations that are tearing at the centuries old marble.

Our Rick Steves tour group in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

Many more ponderings to come…