Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Getting out of the plane in Richmond yesterday morning, I slipped and fell and would have wound up in the river had not Sean, the pilot, caught me so I was saved from a very wet and miserable few hours in Vancouver and my day went excellently.
I met Bruce for breakfast, did my errands and arrived in perfect time for my appointment with Dr. Shoja. I had real trouble getting going but once I did, there was no stopping me; I was more animated than I recall being ever before. I never stopped talking.
But every time I used the word “stopping” — as in stopping seeing her regularly — I always qualified it. Every single time I used the word I always added, “with the option to return.” She know that’s important to me and she assured me that option exists for the rest of my life.
My enthusiasm to stop and my ability to it (with the option to return) comes from one thing, I told her: “Integration” It was my ‘word of the day’ and theme for the session, I said. I told her that our two years of conversations have me feeling “integrated.”
I used to feel that there was a Chris.1 (me prior to my diagnosis) and that I’d become Chris.2 (a stuttering, seizing Chris) but that’s over. Now I feel like the same person, just different and with two symptoms I can’t control but understand. But I like who I am and I’m actually glad my voice “broke” and I got my diagnosis.
Why? Because I live on Gabriola; I live in a park in a comfortable, lovely home with a huge yard, a studio and hot tub and I have three loving, wonderful pets. And I credit my diagnosis and the insight into my condition from Dr. S. for the move and my resultant happiness with my life.
I’ve written here before of the incredible power and beauty of acceptance and difference and the love it brings. The first time was when Sahara was born with all her genetic deficiencies and again when I found out that the reason I was blessed with Leon was because the black markings in his mouth “ruined” [not my word] the show potential of an otherwise perfect Orange Burmese.”
The same applies to me: I’ve come to love my stutter because it’s a talisman of the huge and positive shift in my life — a talisman of integration and of my decision to move to this paradise called Pinecone Park.
I don’t love the seizures though and never will.
Now if I could just get Sheba’s diarrhea to stop life would be perfect. Yes, there was more this morning — but less and on the mat I put out to receive it. As long as there’s progress, it’s all good.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Back to Vancouver

Luckily I heard her walking. It was midnight, so I got up, let her out, got her back and went back to bed. And hoped.
I got up at 5:00 and the place was clean! Hurrah!
Today, Chalise will look after her while I am in Vancouver. The day is predicted to be decent so they can spend lots of time outdoors.
One thing about power failures is how good I feel when they’re over. When the lights came back on, I went into overdrive doing errands.
The last errand was to assemble the low table for the studio (I need one high and one low one for my mannequins). It has a large and practical storage compartment that makes it challenging to assemble. But I couldn’t finish. The directions stumped me so I’m gong to wait until the weekend and consult with Peter and Crystal. I’m hoping they also help me with the bed.
I had the best hot tub when I quit, though. Oh my God I love my tub now. Plus it was mild and the air smelled like Hawaii. I am so happy this place has the tub.
Because I was so taken with Ben Platt on the Grammies, I tool some time yesterday to read about the show and to listen to the sound track. (I bought it.) I love it; but then I love show tunes.
I discovered that Michael Grief directed it; he was also the director who nursed Back to Normal through its extraordinary development to its triumph on Broadway. Both shows are musicals about mental illness.
It made me cry listening to several songs. Now that I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, I’m very vulnerable to stories about mental health, self-acceptance and peer acceptance.
Easily, my favourite day of the year is the first day of Daylight Savings Time. It’s my equivalent of Thanksgiving and I like to celebrate, so I’m hosting Michelle (the woman who runs the Arts Council), her partner, Maggie, Patsy (who introduced me to Michelle) and Jay. I’m having a dinner party! But not ‘till March 11th.
It feels very nice to celebrate with Patsy and Jay. They’ve both been so welcoming and helpful since I moved here, and I like thanking Patsy for introducing me to Michelle who runs the agency where I now volunteer.
Now… I’m off to the seaplane.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Brexit Postage Stamps

No Power Again

"My" end of the new studio. And all my supplies in place.
The cabinet is full of fabulous DVDs to watch while I work.
I love having the wood stove for heat.
That big empty space will be where the sofa bed goes.
It will be against the wall and have a low table in front.
The north wall looks back at my house.

Sunday night, just after nine, the power went out so I went to bed for a great night’s sleep that was ruined when I woke up.
There was poop in both the dining room and the bathroom. Worse, she is hairy, so…. I have to wash her butt and she hates it. Sigh. And in the dark with the torch in my mouth triggering my gag reflex.
I’m being very careful with her now. I watch her constantly to see if she’s eating anything in the yard and keeping her away from Almond Roca (kitty poop from the litter box). I’d been enticing her to eat dry food — to which she’s indifferent — with a bit of wet food. So I’ve stopped that, too.
And I’m adapting. I realize that I can make my life easier if I dedicate my mornings to Her Highness. If I do that and I tire her, I can be productive in the middle part of the day while she and the cats nap.
No sooner do we seem to settle into a pattern than she grows out of it and into another phase. This is my first experience with parenting a puppy.
This morning the power was still off and starting up the generator is a big pain in the butt. I have to go out and move it into position, start it up and then bring long extension cords into the studio (to make the water pump work) and the house (for the fridge and lights). Then I have to unplug everything and switch the plugs to the extension cords and then reverse everything when the power comes back on.
At least I have music and a portable computer that function on batteries — there’s no Internet connection but I can write and do design work. I’m happier that better weather is on its way (eventually). Spring and Summer here is going to be very different without storms/power failures and having to keep the fires going.
One day I will consult with an electrician to install a “shadow” circuit in my house.  Electricians install a second outlet near the fridge, water pump, TV and computer area and these second outlets are connected to a panel on the outside of the house. I can then use extension cords with two “male” ends to connect the panel to the generator. And then, inside the house, I just move my plugs from one outlet to the other quite simply and there are not long extension cords all over the place.
As I age this kind of system will become more important.
The power came back on at 8:30 and then went off again. It continued to go on and off for the next 45 minutes which was pretty frustrating. Each time it comes back on I think, “Okay, this time….” And then it goes off again.
So, almost predictably, I had a seizure. Not only that, a pretty nasty one that left me in a zombie state for an hour or so afterward. I am trying now, not to hyperventilate. However, that seems to make spasticity worse and recovery take longer. It may be my imagination, but that’s my impression. 
The pace at Pinecone Park picks up over the next few weeks. Tomorrow I go to Vancouver, on the weekend Crystal and her family come to visit and next weekend I go to Vancouver to stay overnight and to come back with my ladies and Dwight.
I had the Grammies on TV last night as I did things around the house and I’d watch when something caught my interest — like Alessia Cara winning best new artist.  I have her CD and love it. She’s Canadian and incredibly talented and well spoken.
The opening was incredible. I have no idea who Kendrick Lamar is but his opening was remarkably powerful. I was spellbound. At one point, the stage was full of perfectly aligned young black men in blood red hoodie body suits and he shot them one by one to the beat of the music. It was a brilliant, artistic acknowledgment of the Black Lives Matter movement. 
And Rihanna. Man oh man, am I a fan. She looked incredible: She was a sexy siren in a red dress, looked gorgeous with her hair full out and curly and she can sing like a kiss or a cannon. Her set was magnificent: The costumes and choreography just delicious; the colours were inspiring.
And Ben Platt the star of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway absolutely blew everyone away just standing there singing in street clothes. He was mesmerizing and everyone in Radio City Music Hall new it.
And what a night for Mr. Mars and his crew! He’s such a fabulous man and entertainer. And can he ever dress! He won the seriously big awards: Song of the Year and Album of the Year. He was signed first by Mowtown but they dropped him. I’ll bet there are several people there with huge regrets. 
And Sting inspired me to discover where the mute button is on my new remote control. 
My reward for completing tasks one and two for the Arts Council was to receive task three. It’s another mind numbingly boring and long clerical/mathematical chore. The kind of thing I can actually love doing — especially very early in the dark morning hours.
For the past few days I’ve been listening to the Aboriginal Television Network and boy am I happy I did. I learned a lot and long-held attitudes have changed. I’ve really enjoyed my experience and I plan to keep listening. I really like it and I really like my country with policies that “forced” the channel on me.
The editorials are, to my mind and ears, brilliant. They are researched, restrained and enlightening and I am hooked. Plus, yesterday I listened to two movies; one was Whale Rider and I loved it. I watched several scenes, but the ideas, the language and the music were compelling. And the scenery of the second movie, filmed in New Zealand about Maori culture was as beautiful as the actors.