Friday, December 31, 2021

MORE Snow!


This is a photo taken through my bedroom window to show you the incredibly photogenic icicles of my roof. They are everywhere, but I didn’t want to go outside to take a better photo because it snowed, yet again, last night.

I truly love learning ASL. The thought of being able to communicate with people while, at the same time, retaining my dignity thrills me. Talking requires such an effort! I hate talking, so learning ASL is thrilling, even though I have no one with whom to sign. That can come later. First, I must build up my basics.

But talk about effort: learning ASL is going to be a long-term big-time commitment to effort. It will involve endless memorizing. I learned French with the same eagerness and did most satisfactorily. I expect learning ASL will be similar, and down the line, I’ll be able to Zoom with people. The new iPads have a special feature for people who sign.

Poor Sheba is foot sore again. She’s got two damaged paws. It could have been because her feet got wet and then she stepped on ice. I don’t know. But she’s being a good girl and I hope she heals quickly.

Last night, dining with Stacy, was a blast. My car doors froze closed again, so hot water came to the rescue, and I got to her place on time. I got home at 9:00, built up the fire and then decided to go to bed because I was so tired. And I slept until 7:30 this morning! I cannot believe that I slept so soundly for so long—ten hours. And I’m the guy who, for decades, lived happily and healthy on four hours sleep a night.

It’s just gorgeous again this morning. Golden orange light makes the treetops look like they are on fire. It’s another stunningly beautiful morning. But it’s predicted to snow both today and tomorrow. 

Sunday, it may rain and then next week, it’s back to cold and snow on top of the wet of Sunday that will freeze before the new snow falls. What a Winter this is tuning out to be! I feared this after our record-setting hot Summer and record-setting wet Autumn. Between Covid and a vastly more extreme climate, I wonder if things will ever be what we used to call “normal.”

I’m about to wrap Sheba’s bad feet and take her for a walk. The rest of the day will be taken up with memorizing signs by the fire. Tonight, of course: television.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

ASL Begun!

A few more inches of snow fell here last night. Yowza, there’s a lot of snow accumulation!

I set up the little heater—actually, just a light—that keeps my Hummingbird feeder water from freezing. Now all my birds are properly cared for during this big freeze. But what a gorgeous morning we had yesterday!

The snow is clean, and it’s stuck to the trees. None of it is falling. (See photos below.) And the sunrise filled the sky and treetops with light, turning the few clouds a bright, glorious orange. The show in the trees is blinding bright. It could be one of the most beautiful Winter mornings that I have ever seen.

I chopped some wood. It burns so much hotter when I burn smaller pieces instead of the whole big pieces that are delivered. And I loaded a day’s supply of wood into the house in the morning. I stacked it on the hearth, so that I didn’t have to go in and out all day to keep the fire up.

Word of the day: Pathographesis: n. Writing inspired by illness.

My session with Dr. Shoja went very well; she explains aspects of my condition that confound me. For example: when I pass strangers on the trails, walking with their pets, I am fluent with them. But if I talk to Dwight, which I do, almost every day, it is very, very hard for me to speak with him. The more I care about someone, the worse my speech. It seems particularly insidious. Dr. Shoja said that this aspect of my speech is consistent with my condition, and she explained why.

Another example: the harder it is for me to speak, the more spastic my arms get. She explained that too, as consistent. Her explanations are not cold and clinical. She uses clinical words but speaks to me colloquially and checks to see if the explanation is satisfactory or not.

There’s a chance that things could get better. There’s a chance I could lose my speech. I’ve started to learn ASL.

Learning ASL gives me something positive to do that takes my mind off my condition. Movies and television are high-risk activities for me; there are just too many triggers in the storylines of a great many movies, so I’ve lost that source of distraction. 

Learning ASL will be practical if my speech gets worse. My hope is that if I sign as I talk, once I learn the basics, my arms won’t do things on their own, they’ll be too busy doing what I want them to do—signing. I started a year-long course yesterday.  

Dr. Shoja explains everything about me as typical of a person with an attachment disorder. Everything wrong with me, in her understanding, is due to how I was parented. I didn’t know what went on in our home did not go on elsewhere. I just learned to make the best of things. I thought I was doing a good job of being a person. I did not expect my past to come back to bite me, as is said, the way it has. I feel like I’m on a television show, and I’m the character who’s weird. I did not expect this condition to worsen. 

I was project oriented in my career. I loved two-to-three years of intense engagement, followed by a break. Learning ASL is the first project I’ve taken on in a long time. I hope I can stick to it, and I hope one day to be able to experience the spontaneity of ribald conversation together again.

A letter to the Daily Telegraph, Feb. 26, 1913:


Everyone seems to agree upon the necessity of putting a stop to Suffragist outrages; but no one seems certain how to do so. There are two, and only two, ways in which this can be done. Both will be effectual.

1. Kill every woman in the United Kingdom.

2. Give women the vote.

Yours truly,

Bertha Brewster

I am through my first lesson of ASL. I got my files installed on my iPad as well, so that I can work on ASL in the comfort of my living room, by the fire. I absolutely love learning to sign and I’m happy with my progress. I’m delighted by how much I love it. I’m going to do well with signing I reckon. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Booster Shot Done!

Just before 8:00 yesterday morning, Kevin arrived at my door. He has a four-wheel drive car and he offered to drive me to my booster shot! Think about that! He was offering to go through the waiting for the ferry, there and back, and waiting for me while I got the thot. What a great neighbour, eh? I declined his offer. I felt confident about being able to get through the day on my own, but I was really touched by his kindness.

Getting through Nanaimo was a challenge. The roads were sheet ice. At one stop light the car ahead of me started coming backwards towards me as it tried to go up a slight incline. On the highway, people were driving at 40 clicks or less.

It was rather chaotic at the immunization clinic. My appointment was for 11:45. There were a couple of hundred people waiting. They called people in by our appointment times. As soon as I joined the line, men were griping about the delay and about how we were being managed. Their language and all they said was revolting. They were all-knowing assholes; one had a mask with burning skulls on it. It took about half an hour to get into the clinic, but once in, everything went quickly and smoothly.

Driving home, dark, dark ominous clouds had rolled in, but there was clear sky over the ocean, and I could see the distant mountains, all white with snow, from sea level to their tops. It was a magnificent sight. They were positively shimmering in the sunlight. And then, disembarking from the ferry, our trees, with their branches bending under the weight of the snow, were stunning. Snow is gorgeous on a sunny day.

I came home to a cold house and our third power failure in a week! I re-lit the fire and got a roarer going and then I lay down on the couch, exhausted from the busy morning. And I took pride in having successfully got all four doors of my van working. But I could not get my mail; the lock is frozen I reckon.

Finally, it’s the 29th, and I get to chat with Dr. Shoja. I’m going to ask her if I can see her once a month for a while, as I make decisions about life with more severe symptoms. And tonight, I was to dine with Stacy and her dog, Otis, at her house, but I cancelled because I wanted to be on my own all day after seeing Dr. S. I’m looking forward to seeing Stacy tomorrow night instead. 

And it’s a beauty of a day! The sky is clear. But man-oh-man it is cold! And tomorrow it’s supposed to snow again. My poor plants, the poor Deer here, and the birdies! I feed my bird family twice a day. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

F'en Cold!

Yesterday was mighty cold. It was -8° when I went out to start loading in wood with which to keep the fire raging all day.

I read the day away and only took short walks in the neighbourhood with Sheba because it is so cold. She loved running around in the snow, though. And mid-day, the snow plow cleared out street, giving me more confidence about my plan for today.

At five, you might have heard my sigh in Vancouver. The power went out, yet again, just as it did on Christmas day. Instead of dallying, I got up and got my boots on right away to go out and get the generator going, and just as I did up my coat, the power came back on. Oh my God, I was glad. 

I have a string of clear Christmas lights on the sill of my big living room window, and I have two clear bottles with long candles in in each one that I add glowing light higher up in the window.  The soft glow of light from the window, plus the flickering light of the fire, plus the abundance of thick wool blankets in every surface, make the room very, very welcoming and cosy. 

The cats always come down from their aerie in the evening and seeing them curled up on the blanket, soaking up heat from the fire makes the room look even better. Plus, it’s dead silent here—dead silent. And dark as coal. I play music very very quietly. This cocoon is ideal on these long dark nights.

Strangers sometimes politely ask me why my speech is hampered. I tell them I have a neurological disorder and they nod their heads, satisfied with my answer. After almost six years of living with a neurological disorder, and with three years of monthly meetings with a psychiatrist I respect deeply who answered my every question, I still don’t really have much of an understanding of what a neurological disorder is. I do know what my experience is, so I understand my own specific form of FND. 

I didn’t know how to explain myself to people for the first five years since FND took over my life. They saw my symptoms. I had no answers for myself or them. I didn’t get my FND diagnosis until five years after the of onset of my symptoms. But now I have that phrase, “neurological disease”—just two words—and my brand new business cards. These tools are like armour for me as I do battle with the overstimulation of the city.

The cards give me courage.

I realized that I have two problems: My speech and my shame. I can’t fix the speech. Tomorrow I get to talk with Dr. Shoja. I’m going to ask her how to stop feeling so ashamed of my speech. I have absolutely no idea of how to fix myself. It makes me afraid of doing anything “out there.”

It’s really cold here this morning. My thermometer says -10°. The good news is that I got into the car. I got two doors working and got it going, but I’m rather dreading the business of catching the ferry and getting to the place where I’m to get my booster shot today. I haven’t left yet and I’m already looking forward to being back home, nice and warm and cozy by the fire.

For the first time, I have a means of introducing myself with a card—my “nice to meet you”/speech explanation card, as I go for my booster where I’ll be interacting with clerks, welcomers, nurses and, perhaps, others.

They cancelled all the Gabriola ferry trips between 6:00 and 11:00 last night. I’m hoping all things are a go this morning. What an effort today will be, all for my booster shot.