Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Pete is THE Man

Tuesday began early. I was outside by 6:00 am to water all the gardens before going to the hardware store to ask about our next steps and get back before Pete arrived for another day of torture working on the deck. It’s another beauty of a day!

Sonja, with whom I could speak in French, helped me. She is profoundly knowledgeable about paints and stains. Pete won’t make a painting/staining move without her advice. She suggested we stain the deck with a matching colour to the paint that won’t come up, so that’s what we’re going to do. It’s an ideal solution. 

But when I got home, Ali and Pete arrived soon after and Pete decided we’d go to Ladysmith to rent a big sander. There was a 3 sailing wait on the ferry, though, so that plan was scratched, and we’re back to plan A which involved more work today like yesterday’s effort. Pete said that he wants to finish the scraping today, but then he had a change of heart and went to visit a neighbour. He came back to Pinecone Park with the neighbour’s belt sander. It does an awesome job.

Pete spent the rest of the day sanding, and I vacuumed up the dust and cleaned all the cracks between the planks. Today we’ll finish the sanding and we’ll fill the rotten spots in the deck with wood filler. Then we’ll break while Pete and Ali go to the city for a few days, and we’ll paint the deck next week. I will carry on with the crack cleaning and I will sand the places where we put the wood filler.

The deck is going to look absolutely incredible when we are done. Pete’s ambition for the project vastly surpasses the plan I had for the deck. I was just going to scrape it. His drive is going to give me a deck to be proud of. I am so, so grateful. All in all, he’s likely to put in 5 or 6 days of work, and Ali is going to help us paint the stain on, so the gift of the lodge stay was entirely appropriate. Pete and Ali really loved my gift of 2 nights at April Point Lodge, and I was thrilled that I’d chosen a gift that they value. They know Quadra Island and love it, so my choice of location was perfect. Now I can accept all this help more comfortably. 

My deck is about 35’ wide and 20’ deep. It’s about 700 sq. ft., so there are miles and miles of crack between all the planks that form the deck. My job, while Pete sands, has been to vacuum up his dust and to work on the cracks, cleaning out all the dirt and peeling paint. I’ll finish the cracks while Pete and Ali are away so that everything will be ready for painting when they come back.

I’m tired just thinking about more work today. But today is Pete’s last day for this week. He and Ali will help me paint the deck next week, but tomorrow is my first day off from deck work in three demanding days. Friday is predicted to be cloudy and there may be—I really hope there is— a few showers.

I’ve got to get through today and then I can rest tomorrow. I am so tired. But what a wonderful change to the look of Pinecone Park this sparkling clean deck is going to make! All hail Peter! 

We found rotten steps that we will fix by removing
all the wood and extending the garden.

All my plants almost, are off the deck. Sheba is our supervisor.

The wood in the front was treated with paint remover and it didn't
work, The cleaner wood in the back has been sanded to death by
Pete. He'll be going over the wood he tried to clean with paint
remover with the sander.

You can't see how handsome Pete is in this photo.
He is one HARD worker!

This wood was treated twice with pain remover and the pressure
washer and it was a big failure. It will be sanded today by Pete.

The dark wood shows you how bad the condition of the deck was
before Pete got to work. The lighter wood is sanded clean.

Above and below. The state of the wood before our work.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Adjusting and Scraping

I was up at 6:00 yesterday morning. I wanted to be sure that I had time to water my gardens before Pete arrived to work on the deck. He arrived at 9:00 and we went to the hardware store to consult with their paint expert about the efficacy of paint remover for our job, and to get some blades for our scrapers. (And milk for his tea. He’s British.) 

When we got back, we got to work. We power washed the deck, and then scraped it with metal scrapers, then power washed it again, then applied the paint remover (non-toxic), and then power washed again, but it was kind of for naught. It didn’t work very well. The deck is cleaner than it has ever been, and all the peeling paint has been scraped off, but there’s a lot of paint that did not come off the wood. 

Our alternate plan is to sand it. That involves renting a huge sander, and if we use it, we’ll then have to paint the entire deck with a clear preservative agent. But this morning, I will go to our hardware store for a consult. If there’s a stain that we can apply over the semi-cleared wood and get a clean and tidy result, we’ll do that. Otherwise it’s 2 more jobs: sanding and sealing.

Peter worked mighty hard all day. I could not keep up. By 5:00 I could not speak at all. I was thoroughly drained from all the work AND from the consultation with GF Strong staff about getting help so that I can use the phone.

That part of the day, talking with the Occupational Therapist and Speech Language Therapist, was amazing. They recommend that I see a neurologist, so I am seeing my Nurse Practitioner on July 5th for a referral. It’ll. Probably take a year to see one. And I’ve applied to CAYA, a communication assistance organization based in Vancouver. They will help me, but it may take a year as well. 

None of my tricks’ work right now. I can’t become fluent by touching my face in a certain way liked I used to be able to do. Nor can I speak in my Aussi accent. Plus, I’ve started sighing when I speak. It is so hard to speak, I sigh with frustration and sadness periodically. It’s like I’m fading away, disappearing. It’s impossible to say anything complex. All I can do is say simple things.

Here at home, I could talk to Pete. I spoke in a kind of pidgin English. By the end of the day, I could not really speak at all with him. I can be fluent if I whisper, but that only works in an extremely quiet environment. And I’ve become quite fidgety when I talk—not always, but I was very jerky when I was talking with the people from GF Strong. 

I tell people I have joint custody of my arms and hands. I use them regularly, but when I speak, I lose control of them. My hands clench and my hands kind of wave back and forth, and my arms move in and out. This has always embarrassed me. Thank God it doesn’t happen all the time. But when three people are talking with me and about me, my symptoms ramp up and my arms and hands take flight.

The OT and SLT alerted me to a BC Tel program that sounds fabulous. Kris, my friend, is going to follow up with them.  They have ‘Relay’ machines that allow me to type on them and then they speak into the phone for me. But they are much more complex than that. These two programs may eventually lead to my being able to use a phone. 

I’m so challenged right now I have ‘the sighs.’ I feel frustration with every conversation. It’s torture to speak. I have speech generating apps. They’re okay. But it’s just not pleasant to be with speaking people when I can’t speak. I’m not happy in such a situation. I feel I’m an outsider in speaking company. My friends will stick with me. For as long as I can still talk, even with difficulty, we’ll Facetime and email. With them I always feel comfortable and accepted.

Another huge adaptation effort is required of me. I feel the need for Dr. Shoja. If that need persists, I will make an appointment. When I see my Nurse Practitioner for a referral to a neurologist, I will also ask for a referral for Dr. Shoja in case I want to use it.

There’s an irony in this story of mine. All this good news—the consultation with the Occupational Therapist and Speech Language Pathologist, CAYA communication assistance program, and the BC Tel Relay Program—all this came about because I couldn’t call BC Tel to ask if they had any suggestions about how I could use a phone, so I asked Kris, who has a cousin who worked at GF Strong and knew to call them. If I could talk well enough to make the call, I would not have any of these things in my life.

And there’s a miracle in my story as well. I’m frightened right now, and worried. At the same time, I know everything will be okay because my friends will stay with me, and I have my beloved pets. That’s all that matters. But I’m not sad or angry, and that is the miracle. I don’t feel sorry for myself, I just want to concentrate on finding new ways of doing things.

Kris is also a miracle. She’s with me on this journey. She is helping me with my calls. Right now, I am changing how I communicate with the people who monitor the alarm I wear. I want them to use questions that have a YES or NO answer, and I will clap once for no, and twice for yes.

Another irony. I belong to two support groups for people with speech disorders. The last thing in the world I want to do is talk about this change with them. I want to drop out of the groups for a while. I may join, explain what I’m dealing with and tell them I want to stay on the list, but I may be off for a while. I’ll see how it goes.

If I want to see Dr. Shoja, I will need to prepare an essay on why I want to see her. That’s on my to-do list. So is talking to Kris to do several things. I don’t want to burden people, but I need a way to cope until the programs, to which we’ve applied or are applying, provide me with an alternate way of using the phone.

There’s also a chance I could get back to what I was before this lapse in capacity, as suddenly and as dramatically as its onset.

The good news: Sheba is much better. She is her usual lovely self, but her paw is still sore. I have Menuca Honey on her foot and it’s wrapped in a sock. She’ll be over the sore paw soon. It was the dreadful thing she ate in the Nanaimo park that made her so sick, but that has passed. Her temperature is normal now, and she’s eating enthusiastically. 

Today will begin with a trip to the hardware store for help in choosing what to do next. Pete’s given me his time until tomorrow. I will use my wits to see if I can complete any work left unfinished—with help, hired or from friends. Pete’s been unbelievably generous with his time and enormous effort. Yes, I helped, but he is an energizer bunny. He worked hard, all day, taking only one break for lunch.

We will finish the stripping of the deck today. What we do tomorrow is up to him.

How do I thank Pete? I reserved a room for 2 nights at April Park Lodge for he and Ali in mid-September. I’ve sent them a link to the lodge and their reservation details. If they like the idea, I’ll also set up a dinner for them on the first night. Kris will call them for me.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Deck Work Starts

I have a huge gorgeous Rhodo in my front yard. It was the only floral plant in my entire yard when I came and I had never ever paid any attention to its bed until yesterday. With Her Highness in recovery, she did not want to walk, so I was on my knees bright and early in the morning cleaning out a bed that has probably never had love.

It felt very good to be finally giving this gorgeous Rhodo the attention she deserves. I adore her, so it was love that had me so diligently applying myself to her bed and she looks much better for it. It was convenient that the Rhodo bed is in the shade until mid-afternoon.

I chilled mi-day yesterday and then decided to go to Twin Beaches to check out the LGBTQ+ gathering. When I headed down the driveway to the car, I found someone’s wheelbarrow in my driveway. It was full of work stuff, so I thought it might have come from Nancy, down the street, who’d offered to lend me her heat gun to help me strip my deck of its shitty paint.

On the way to the Beaches, I stopped at Nancy’s to see if it was her stuff, and there, in her backyard, I found Pete and Ali who told me the wheelbarrow was there’s and that Pete was planning on starting on my deck! He had plans to start the stripping of all the wood!!  Imagine that!!

He encouraged me to go to the picnic, which I did, but I stayed for less than half an hour. I wanted to come back to help Pete, but when I got home, he was re-thinking our approach with the heat gun.  He’s coming over at 9:00 this morning, and we are going to the store to get some paint stripper to try that. He’s such a mensch for helping me.

It’s going to be a hot and tiring day!!

Hydrangea Tree (Asia)

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Oh so Good to be Home

Sunday was a busy day. There was, of course, the drive back from Victoria with my beloved, but sick, pupper. Sheba ate something she found in the park. I just saw the end of her mission to eat it, and she’s been paying ever since. From the moment she got home (10:00 am) until 6:30 last night, she was asleep on the bed.

The best thing about the trip was that I was never alone. I was with Di, Val and Shirlee, or just Diane, from late Friday morning until my Saturday morning departure. I was in a protective bubble. It was such a privilege to be absorbed by these women. Dianne and I met in our last year of UBC; Shirlee is her long-time bosom buddy, and Val is Shirlee’s sister, also a good friend of Dianne.

They did all the talking for me with servers and clerks, and there was always someone to talk with. It was particularly fun in the evenings when it was just Dianne and me. The first evening, getting dinner delivered and then watching a movie, each on our own couch. A sleep over: Heaven! And then, the next night, our extraordinary dinner al fresco in cute town, Victoria. It was a perfect weekend.

Today will be a gentle day for Her Highness as she continues her recovery from eating something foul that she found on a park walk. She seems slightly better this morning, so I hope that I am with a happier and healthier dogger later today.

There is still no clouds or rain in sight in the weather forecast. It is worrisome as we haven’t had rain since sometime before April 26th. And there are still fucking Tent caterpillars everywhere eating, eating, eating. Soon they will start cocooning and it’s their moths that lay eggs and hatch into horrid nests of beasties next Spring. I ordered some spray that is effective on these caterpillars that’s biologic and not a toxin.

I also bought myself a heat torch for removing the paint on my deck. Fixing some rot on the deck and stripping all the paint is a huge job, but I’m up for it. Nothing is as bad as splitting and stacking wood. Working on the deck is a relative walk in the park.