Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Fate Game

Monday morning, I was in high gear from 6:00 am until 9:15 am. I worked in a frenzy to clean and tidy the house before leaving to walk Her Highness with my friends. It was just fabulous to come home to a pristine house, a nice warm fire burning and no agenda for the day—and sunshine blazing into the house thanks to the trees I had felled this past Autumn.

I’m reading my last Bruno novel slowly. I hate the thought of not having more of his adventures to take me through the rest of Winter. But I will move on to Donna Leon, full of hope for more fun in the world of Commissario Guido Brunetti—Brunetti, so close to Bruno.

I loved my day. I’m at peace with the clinic … and with everything. I’m consciously happy every time I go outside. I always use my back door, to my left from this desk where I work, and I exited this morning, onto my back deck. It’s about 2.5 meters wide; at the end, I stepped off it and onto the large paving stones of my courtyard where I can take in my backyard. The view is all green with my garden’s plants plus the surrounding shrubs and forest. 

I stepped off the courtyard tiles onto the gravel that lines my driveway, and I walked to the car to fetch something, and then I reversed myself. The whole time, as I was walking, a movie played in my mind of exiting my condo in Vancouver where I lived before coming here. Impersonal hallway, efficient elevator, cell-like disembarkation room, fire door, walking through a horrid underground parking garage to my car. What a change for the better the experience is here.

I successfully executed one of my duties with STAMMA yesterday. I’m now co-administrator of the STAMMA support group for adult-onset stutterers.  I’ve to undertake the second function on Thursday; the second one is much more technically challenging. However, if I do it, it’ll be easy to repeat. Having no confidence is a hindrance.

And I made another ad for another magazine for Nancy. I am doing all the graphics for the Foundation for $300/year to rent Photoshop. They’ve paid for all their past graphic services; cumulatively, it’s quite a sum. And now its just $300/year. Snap!

I’ve always dreaded December. I can find many reasons to justify my prejudice if I think back through my life. I screen printed Christmas cards one year that, on the cover, said “December, Disappointment and Depression all begin with D.” On the inside, it said: “Coincidence?” When FND set in, my Decembers got worse because my angst about the month brought on a symptom swarm.

But I feel good this year. As usual, I credit the clinic work. It’s given me purpose and fulfilment. But it’s not a smooth ride. Nancy has an encyclopedic mind when it comes to hiring policies and practices of doctors and the operational policies of medical clinics. She’s stupefying. But she’s knowledgeable about neither technical issues nor advertising.

I feel forced to write extensive emails to try to educate her, but my advice is just advice. I tell her what I think should be done, but I have neither control over her nor her respect for my experience and training, and I can’t force the issue. I’m not confrontational. 

I talk to Steve every week. He’s a beloved brother for me. We are really close friends. He trusts me, and it all is wonderful. Today, I began talking about the people I met through him over the two years I spent half my weekends in Seattle. I have very fond memories of those times and people. 

Well …. He told me an astounding tale yesterday, about one of those people that astounded me. D. was a very successful entrepreneur. He made a line of confections, and his marketing was very clever. He advertised his recipes as being those of his great grandmother from Russia. He and his brother, B. created a dynamo business. D. in the kitchen, B. in the head office. They built up their business for many decades very successfully. They sold their company for $18 million.

D., basically retired and consulted with other food producers. B. managed their joint estate. He advocated to D. that they invest in a small chain of a well-known franchise. And so, they did. And they bought some commercial buildings to rent out. D. amazed me when I was visiting Seattle so much. I’d never met a business titan before.

Well, at 74, D. is back to working a 40-hour week trying to keep the franchise chain from failing. And worse, B. hired a contractor to fit up the buildings they’d bought for office rentals and one day the police came to arrest D. and B. The police found bags of drugs and a lot of child pornography in the walls and arrested the contractor. The contractor, in a plea bargain, said he was stashing the materials for B. and D. That got resolved, but still, it was a horrendous experience to go through for them.

It hurt to hear this because D. is not the business mind. He’d retired and now all the money is gone except for the buildings, and Dana is working a full-time job.

When I think about life, I think about a pub game that I’d see in pubs and foyers at summer playgrounds. There was a game that had a plunger on the lower right-hand side of the wooden case, and when you pulled the plunger back, a silver ball would roll over the hole left by the withdrawn plunger. When you released the plunger, the ball would fly up the banked plane of the game, into a round bend at the top, and then the ball would fall down through various obstacles, making sounds and blinking lights as it hit them, and earning you points and, maybe, a free rematch.

I’ve considered that game as a metaphor of life. They both begin with an ejaculation, and the projectile creations action that leads to an outcome over which you have no control. I’ve long called that game, the fate game. Discovering that metaphor helped me to stop feeling that all the misadventure of my life wasn’t my due.

Dana’s story made me see the fate game.

It’s cold out there! We’re predicted to have snow today and all week looks cold with lots of sunny days ahead. Big fires are the order of these days. Sheba, surprisingly, is not at all fond of the cold. Yesterday afternoon, she simply refused to walk in the afternoon.

Monday, November 28, 2022

My House Stinks

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day. Our walk with the big community dog walking group was really lovely. I met a woman named Sheila Malcomson and her dog, Luca. She’s a provincial MLA and is Minister of Mental Health and Addictions., and I had a blast walking and talking with her. I look forward to seeing her again.

I went quickly into the village to do some shopping, then I came home to just chill for the rest of the day. I was delighted to have a nice quiet day to myself. And oh, the fire!

Today is a big cleaning day at Pinecone Park. I’ve been living like a slob for several days and it’s time to tidy and clean everything. My house stinks. Well, it’s the fridge really. My very smelly bottle of fish sauce fell over and leaked everywhere and it just stinks.

It’s a lovely sunny day, but of course, it’s chilly. The weather office is predicting snow for some days this week. Sigh. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022


What a rebound! We’ve impressed everyone, Dyan and I. She’s brand new to the position of chair, and right away, she/we come out with a great looking newsletter. And I am now in charge of the mailing list. I’m going to add all our 52 groups and societies that are part of the health and wellness community, and I’m also going to add donors. I’m coding everyone on the mailing list so that we can mail to parts of the list.

So, now I’m the writer, the resident graphic artist, the mailing list manager and social media. manager. How would anyone else dare volunteer to chair the communications committee. The board meeting is on Wednesday. This job was made for me. I’ve become, like all the other seven board members, indispensable! 

This is perfect timing, the beginning of a new fiscal year at the Foundation. I’ve a very meager budget, but the website renewal is its own line item. Soon, we’ll start fundraising, more writing for me, more social media, more graphics, more data, more members, etc. Whoa.

I did this kind of work for a living, but I learned it doing arts projects, entirely in the not-for-profit world, writing grant applications, interim reports, spread sheets, and final reports. It feels really good to be using old skills again. I was absolutely dreading importing the mailing list so that I could send the newsletter. I had absolutely no faith in myself. But due to incredible advances in newsletter software, I basically opened an application new to me and within a few hours I had our first newsletter formatted and ready for sending.

With no family, and at home 97% of my life, I have hours for work and no interferences. I’ve created a little kingdom at the Foundation. Dyan and I have brought active communication to the table by having a communications director. Think of this, my dear friends: I responded to the ad for volunteers because the clinic here shared nothing. Not even that doctors were leaving. Nothing. Nada. Nyet! 

Now I’m the communications guy, and we have a quarterly newsletter that invites questions, comments or suggestions, and soon, we’ll have a new smart interactive website. We are going to be extremely good at sharing information.

I once developed an incredible relationship with a magnificent woman named Marilyn Baker. I met her one day, at her request. She was the mayor of the District of North Vancouver, and she wanted me to know that she, personally, would be analyzing my expenses and evaluating the worth of my work. She was a harsh taskmaster.

I was tasked with creating a cultural centre worthy of her investment. She was watching. But I built a theatre at not a cent of cost to the District. And I changed the gallery from operating at an annual loss of fifty grand, to a profitable operation by focusing the mandate of the gallery on photography. When I was done, I started visiting Marilyn and her husband, Dick. One of their children had come out and I became a resource for the family. I grew to passionately love Marilyn.

I told you that because she pushed her kids in an interesting way. She was the mayor, don’t forget. One day, one member of the family was ranting about the ferry service. Then Dick and another kid chimed in on the subject. Marilyn turn to them and asked, “What are you going to do about it?” She made her kids write to fix wrongs in their lives, and to be a part of an effort to fix your community.

Marilyn would be very proud of me right now. I did something just as she would and she as she expected of others. This island community is awash in people doing something. Thank God I left Vancouver. I loved it, but now I am passionate about rural life. And doing something.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Newsletter & Mailing List: Check!

 I bought some free-range organic Duck fat that has no added preservatives. I got it so that I can cook like Bruno. It’s from a company called Fatworks. They say their products are for people who give a duck.

My meeting with Dyan yesterday went extremely well. She encouraged me to toughen up: “You’re a fully-fledged board member now. Don’t let anyone give you orders, you’re a volunteer. And don’t let anyone give you too much work. If someone disrespects you, speak up. You’re a very valuable member of our team.” She offered to talk to Nancy, but I said I would do that.

As a result of our discussions, I got onto MailerLite, a website that helps people make e-newsletters, and I created our first newsletter. It’s full of graphics, links and lots and lots of information. I’m really pleased with it and so is Dyan. She was very impressed when I sent her a copy. Not only that, I achieved something I would never have thought possible without some techie helping me. I imported the Foundation’s membership list into the newsletter program, so I am all at the ready to send out our first missive.

We have a board meeting next week that sets committees and chairs. I am going to volunteer to be the Communications, Community Relations and Fundraising Committee chair. Others may also volunteer, but I intend to. I’m functioning in that capacity already. I hope that leads to my becoming the Communications Director and having a seat on the executive committee.

Mr. Quitter is seriously back!

Today has been spent walking Her Highness, but since rising and until now (2:00 pm) I’ve been mad dogging on the newsletter, the mailing list and other clinic work. Sheba and I will have another walk soon, otherwise the rest of the day will be spent by the fire with Bruno.

Our newsletter is sent as an email and you scroll down it to see it all. To give you an idea of what I’ve been doing, here are some screens hots of it. (The Clinic Corner article is shite. A new one is coming from the clinic doctors. And I'm missing a photograph of Mike. Click on them to enlarge them.