Tuesday, June 30, 2015

About Tuesday and John

“I will never forget today,” he said. He was referring to our walk together around the seawall. “He” is John, a 48-year old pilot, 17-year Navy veteran (air craft carrier pilot) who is currently serving his 17th year as a commercial pilot with United Airlines. He is a father of 8-year old twins and he introduced himself to me because of my legs… and my shoes.

Earlier this week, my friend Leslie said something about my legs and a while back, so did another woman. They are, I realize thanks to their comments, buff due to all my walking. But I cannot see the backs of my legs so I never knew.

John is an ultra-marathoner. He is a serious amateur athlete and during a work-related stopover in Vancouver he chose to walk the seawall because of injuries he currently has from a fall off a bike in a marathon. He saw my legs first; then he saw my shoes. I have Koda shoes because my orthotics team recommended them. John he has them because a lot of elite athletes use them.

John's opening line to me on the wall was: "Excuse me buddy, but are you an elite athlete?" If you know me you will understand why I almost burst out laughing when he said that. But we got into talking and we wound up walking together for two hours. I will never forget it either. No last names, no: “here’s my email;” I didn’t even take his picture for this blog.

We both had a thoroughly unexpected and delightful time in each other’s company. And we could not be more unalike. But what an incredibly wonderful and uplifting experience meeting him was. He made me feel so alive and healthy of heart. What a wonderful experience this stranger delivered to me today.

I will never forget today.
When warren and I got our first contract from Shavick Entertainment, we had eighteen concerns, some of them serious.  We met with producer Brad and talked things through and then we received a new contract. Today, Warren and I went over the new contract. We have one concern that is not at all troublesome so we are ready to sign and celebrate.

I remain completely smitten with Warren. I love every experience with him. Today we—one of us raised Jewish, one of us raised Catholic and neither of us comfortable with our understanding of God—had an enriching and challenging talk about God, children and death. I yearn for more.

About Monday

I walked the wall late because of a fire inspection here at my condo, and I paid for the delay because it was hot! It was 30° yesterday with no wind. On Sunday, 36 temperature records were broken by new all-time highs. May was our driest, sunniest on record. I suspect we will hear today or tomorrow that June was the same.

I went shopping after the walk and came home to make a tart-aux-pommes for me and one for my neighbour, plus a nice fresh and cool salad for dinner. It was a lovely day, especially in that there were no moments of existential angst.

This is the lot beside my building. A new
condo tower is being built so for the next
18 months there is noise from 7:30 am to 3:30
pm every day and an abundance of dust.
This is a lovely oasis in the West End where
I see only people of my generation outside.
One of the tarts I made last night. A nice touch
this time was adding a tiny bit of red food
colouring to the water in which I soften the
apple slices to make the rosette in the middle.

Monday, June 29, 2015

About Sunday

$874.72 (with taxes) and barely smellable;
call me Mr. Dandy.

Leather running shoes for Fall.

Remember the evil queen in Show White who asks her mirror: “Who is the fairest in the land?” To face her day, she needs to believe that it is she who is the fairest and she needs regular validation that her beauty is foremost from her mirror.

I have always loved that part of the Snow White story because I believe that is how we all start our day. We all need our mirrors, implicit faith in ourselves, to excel at something and reinforcement of what we believe to be true about ourselves. We are all also as deluded as that queen.

To open our front door and step out into the world each day, we need to feel confident whether or not that confidence is deserved. We need to believe in ourselves and our worth and many of us—too many of us—believe ourselves to be better than most.

Every day I see countless instances of people putting themselves ahead of others or exempting themselves from the overt rules and regulations of society and/or the subtler conventions of socialized behavior.

One thing about myself about which I am terribly proud is the tenacity of my French self-identity. In spite of being abandon by my birth parents and surrendered to Anglophone culture, I have practically lactated over the sounds of French since my birth.

Conversely, I have always felt like a fish out of water in Anglophone Canada. I also grew up feeling “outside” because I was gay. But now I know too, that another reason I feel detached from life is that I am not someone who acts outside the rules or feels “better” than others. That, too, sets me apart from the mainstream human behavior that surrounds me.

Hence the profound existential crisis that is currently warping and wafting through my life. Yesterday was brutal. Yesterday was the second wave and I know more are coming. Yesterday I woke up deep into it so I quickly donned my shoes and backpack and was out the door to walk the wall. By the time I got home, I felt functional.

I met dear friend Mary-Lou in the afternoon and bought myself my first cologne (See above) thank you very much. My nose wants the best apparently. And more shoes. Call me Imelda.

PS:  I have had to accept that cherries are out of my life. After 67 years of loving cherries more than any other fruit (except watermelon), I cannot eat them any more. I have had them three times so far this year and been terribly sick each time. Cherries are now on my long, long list of late-life allergies—all due, according to my docs, to twenty years of ingesting psychotropic HIV drugs.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Friday Afternoon's Walk

My new plush dining room chairs arrive on Tuesday. Woo hoo.

Vera is back on television, which is very good news. Brenda Blethyn is her usual fabulous self but, sadly, David Leon has been replaced.

Endeavour is another returning detective series. It is beyond fabulous. It stars Shaun Evans as Endeavour and he is a master actor.

After walking the seawall Friday morning with virtually no pain whatsoever in my foot, I walked to West Vancouver in the afternoon and still had no foot pain. I cannot believe my good fortune and the skills of Paris Orthotics.

Stanley Park is my church.

This is how the First Nations people use traditional techniques
to catch salmon on the Capilano River.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Morning Walk

I was out the door at 6:30 am. After the absolute delight of yesterday's early morning walk, I was up for more and today I had absolutely no foot pain. 

I continue to be amazed by the power and the evocative power of scent.

Soon I will be off for a second walk deep into West Vancouver to join friends for dinner.

I don't know what this glorious plant is. 
Acanthus: The inspiration for the top floral
detail of Corinthian columns.
I love this fence.
This is one-year's growth of a Paaulonia tree.
This one is already 2 meters tall.
Me land a single Gunnera leaf. This is for you
Oksana. I am in it for scale.
Here I am standing under the leaves in
the grotto you can see below.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Early Morning Seawall Walk (Thursday)

I am going to do this far more often. I started at 7:00 am;
tomorrow I want to start at 6:00 am. The smells in the
morning are incredible—the sea, the bakery the grasses.
The wall was empty.

My shadow on the wall below the Brocton
Point lighthouse. 
Glorious Plain Tree in full bloom. 

About Wednesday

Hooray!! We had 20 minutes of light rain yesterday. The shallow-rooted plants are happier today.

Yesterday I went for a longish walk with my friend, Shel, who was an emergency physician before he retired. He is still working, but not in a hospital. He is a medical repatriator now; he flies around the world to escort sick Canadians back to Canada from abroad.

He got me thinking.

In grade eight or nine a teacher of mine, one Mr. Smith, a social studies teacher got to me. I sat in the front centre seat in the class, right in front of where he liked to stand to lecture us and he showered me with spit.

Another thing about him were his white Terylene shirts. Terylene was a kind of plastic fabric and his shirts had turned yellow in the armpits. All that—the spit and the yellow pits—plus he was not very intelligent so one day, I lost it with him.

I tossed my ring binder at him and went directly to the office to report myself and I keenly remember the kindness of the administrator who talked to me. I did not get into trouble and, even better, Mr. Pelman gave me some sage advice: He told me I should work in a meritocracy and never become an employee of a hierarchical system.

In college I had a strong desire to become a doctor. I took pre-med courses for my first two years of college as a Science undergrad, but organic chemistry bored me and anatomy (dissection) disgusted me so I quit and switched to Arts and studying English literature and I have had mild regret about that decision ever since.

But no more: After walking and talking with Shel, I am so glad I did not become a doc—rather, I am so glad I did not choose to work in a hospital.

Although I tire of solitude, it is what I am best at. I work best alone, in self-employment.

And that makes me wonder if I am as hard to be around as I find it hard to be around people. I hope not. The presence of a few fine, fabulous friends tells me, thank God, that I am okay in small doses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

About Tuesday

I recently heard that Vancouver is the second largest port, by volume, in
North America. Imagine! We have a beach full of kids right in our harbour.

Retirement: This time I mean it. Or do I?

I "retired" the first time in 1995. I believed I was "retiring" and I went into the decision thoughtfully: I visited three different financial institutions to be sure I could afford to "retire." And I believed I would never earn money again.

For the first few years of my retirement I travelled. I used my savings to finance ten months in India and three months in Africa. But then I started "working" again. I wrote my book, three plays and a screenplay. So my first "retirement" was really not retirement from work, but from working for others. Now I may have "retired" again: This time, from working for myself.

So far (after only two weeks), I am not finding life too challenging without a self-directed project. But then it has been supremely easy to enjoy life in the warmest, driest, sunniest Spring in Vancouver's recorded history. Winter is a different animal. The endless dark morning hours of winter are a killer.

I will have to determine something to do during the winter that does not involve the getting of attention. Attention seeking behaviour is my new anathema. A course seems perfect. I've been looking at Simon Fraser University's Writer's Studio and considering a year of working with them—there is both in in-class on online option to consider.
There are clouds filling the sky. They are thin, though, and it does not seem likely that it will rain. But I sincerely hope it does. It is heartbreaking to see so many plants dying in the park due to the drought we have been experiencing for the past two months.

On the plus side: We will have blackberries throughout July instead of August. That will be a first. They are already large on the vine, but green.

Also on the plus side: There is improvement in my right foot (thank God). There is still room for improvement, but I can walk without a limp now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The Rose Garden, UBC, looking west where
I rested Monday afternoon.
I am stunned by this shot of trees and weeds
(Fireweed). I love the density of the greenery.
Click to enlarge.
Monday was all about worrying about my foot. The day was weird. Standing hurt; walking hurt but I decided to go for a slow walk with lots of rests.

When I started out I kept adjusting my shoes, tying them tighter or loosening them as I tried to find a way of walking without pain. The weirdest part of the morning was realizing that after resting, my foot felt worse and that led to me asking myself: If rest makes things worse, what if I just kept walking?

I theorized that resting (and sleeping at night) permitted the bones of my feet to go into a "rest" position and that standing and walking using my orthotics forced them back into a "use" position. So in the early afternoon, after a long rest at UBC, I kept walking through the pain and voilà, that worked. Still, when I stopped the pain returned.

But this morning, I feel great relief and hope because standing and walking are far less painful today.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Walk

I did it. I walked the seawall… well most of it. And it wasn't easy. At first I was lacking in faith due to the pain in my foot. But I persevered, thinking, I'll just go to Lost Lagoon. Then: I'll just go to the totem poles. But then it got less painful and I pressed on making lots of stops to read from my New Yorker before doing another lap of walking. As long as I can walk, I'll take it. I may recover; I may not. My walking may be forever compromised, but at least I can walk.

My new super-orthopedic shoes and the
guy who follows me everywhere.

My new favourite place for lunch. It's expensive but the
food is the best fast food in the park (See below) and there
is great seating and a washroom. Plus there was a totally
delightful chansonnier singing very French salon songs.