Saturday, June 24, 2023

Thursday and Friday: Staining

By 8:30 am Thursday, I’d done a lot of work in advance of Ali’s arrival to start staining. I’d built temporary fences around the deck where we’d be working to keep Sheba (and the chicken that’s been living in my yard for the past four days) off the deck and our work. I’d stained all around the edges of a big part of the deck and the arrival of Ali and Pete begsn on their high of seeing how much work I’d done in the three hours before their arrival. They were very appreciative of all I’d done, which was nice, and then we all got down to work—Pete on the stairs and Ali and I on the staining.

I spent much of the day on my knees staining all the cracks and edges. There are miles and miles of them to stain. Ali did the rolling of the flat surface of the boards, following me as I did the preparatory work,  doing all the cracks and edges. When lunch time came, they went home to eat and I went to the building supply store for more stain, some lumber and 3.5” screws. Then we got back to work. When Ali’s painting tool broke, I went into the village again to get a replacement and by the end of the day, we’d done two coats on both decks. We left only the stairs and a few small areas left to do.

In the evening, I went into the village to meet Kris and Steve for dinner at Woodfire restaurant. They serve the best food on the island, and we ate al fresco and had a spectacular evening together. They are the finest people imaginable. I love ‘em.

Friday morning, I was up and at work early. I watered all the gardens before getting down to more staining. Pete arrived around 10:00 and soon afterwards we went to the building supply store for wood and more screws. By the time I got back, it was time to go to my appointment with the ophthalmologist. 

She is a lovely woman. I feel very safe in her care, and she is very gracious. I was shocked to hear that I needed a cataract operation in both eyes. I got a new lens 2 years ago in my right eye, and it’s already in need of repair. The left eye, I knew, would need an operation. I had no idea that I have an infection in both eyes, so I’m using special pads to clean my eyes and eyebrows twice a day and applying drops 4 times a day. She wants the infection gone before my surgeries. Once I’ve had the surgery, she’ll see if I need glasses. But the good news is she knows a doctor in Nanaimo who will help me with the weak muscle in one eye if I still see double after the surgery. 

When I got back, I had lunch and then went back to the village again for more supplies. And when I got back with the lumber, I had nothing to do. I was Pete’s assistant periodically, but there was little else to do. It was weird being here while two friends/neighbours worked in my yard while I did nothing. Pete had brought me some quick-spreading moss for the edges of my new footpath, so I planted that.

The staining is finished as is the construction of the stairs, and everything looks absolutely fabulous. Pete is finishing up the exposed foundation today. He will finish that job today while I spend the day on the big island, getting some plants for the new garden (where we removed the stairs) and spending the afternoon with Dianne in her holiday cabin. On Monday, he’ll help me put the plants back on the deck and the project will be entirely done.

Next will be dealing with my hip. 

I am being strongly lobbied by Pete and Ali to book at April Point while they are there. The place has dog-friendly rooms. It’d be an adventure. It’s a beautiful location, and who doesn’t like eating in restaurants. As I ponder this decision to go to April Point, I find myself tending toward going, and it has made me think about how much my life has changed since coming here.

Beth and I have been friends-at-a-distance (FAADs), forever. We travelled together and visited each other, and frequently touched base on the phone. With her, and others like her, nothing has changed except my location. My friends in Vancouver (Dwight, Bruce, John and Bunny, Dianne, and Paula) remain close via emails, video chats, and visits, but more and more, I have become an islander. I have a circle of friends here to support me. I’m not the newbie here anymore. My Vancouver friends are vital to my wellbeing, but it’s lovely to be building new friendships here.

I’m seriously thinking of getting a new outdoor dining table and chair set. I’m going to use my studio to store my outdoor furniture henceforth. And next Summer, with shiny clean roofs, the new deck and garden, I plan to do lots of entertaining.

But first, comes Steve’s visit in early August. He has loved Pinecone Park every time he has visited. Mr. L.A. loves how life here slows him down. We were partners for 14 years. I will never forget our severance day. 

I worked for the film festival at the time, and Steve loved that they were a client because the festival had 3 huge parties Steve loved over all other annual social events (except Pride). I had to work late on the day of one of the parties in 1994. When I got there, I searched everywhere for him but couldn’t find him. Later, there he was. I remember one thing. I remember saying, “This isn’t my kind of thing.” Meaning, going to big noisy parties. And he said, “You’re right, why don’t you go home.” And that’s what I did.

The following morning, we were standing in the dining room of our home, and I was talking to him about how I had felt in his company the night before. I was improvising as I spoke, I did not have a point prepared, and at one point, I said, “It’s like you have a lover or something.” I had an incredible visceral reaction to those words as soon as I said them, and I knew it was true. It had never occurred to me, ever, that he might be having an affair until the words came out of my mouth.

He told me everything and he moved out. Over a year went by before I thought to consult a lawyer about my separation with Steve. I chose one, made an appointment and saw him. I gave him an essay I had written about our relationship and my perspective on how we might best share our assets. After he read my essay, he said he wanted to tell me my story back to me to be sure of our case. He started telling me my own story but as though Steve was this vile villain, so I stopped him and asked him not to speak about Steve disrespectfully. But he did it again, so I left. Then I called Steve.

Steve told me that he, too, had consulted a lawyer that had had the same experience. We agreed to seek out a mediator rather than going to lawyers. I told Steve he could choose the mediator, and we met with her and got our agreement. When we went in to sign it and officially end our union, the mediator said our case was the nicest experience of her professional career. Not only that, she made a point of ensuring we understood the sincerity of her compliment and the value of the experience to her professional future. It was really lovely. At one point in the process of working out our agreement, I got up from my chair and went over to hug Steve and to ask if he was okay. When the mediator tried to reference that moment, she teared up.

Steve and I have been intimate friends (not sexually) ever since. We talk weekly. His annual visits are always a treasure for me. He will gush about the cleanup of Pinecone Park, and that will make all the work and money worthwhile.

It’s lucky all this deck renovation and roof work is done. Beth is always telling me, “Hire someone, for God’s sake!” That seems likely, for my future, depending on how this hip story plays out. My hip doesn’t hurt sometimes, but even then, my gait has changed.  I’m walking old now. And I get weird sensations often when I walk. I’ve been wondering how to describe them,

I get an unusual sense of “twitching” inside my leg. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s new and started after my hip became suddenly insufferably painful. I’ve an appointment with my nurse practitioner soon and for days, I’ve been wondering how to describe the feeling. And then I suddenly thought of an ideal thing to say. 

As I focused on the feeling whenever it happened, I tried to think of what words to use. I’m a wordsmith, I wanted the right words because I am doing what I always do since losing my fluency when I see a medical professional, I write an essay. And suddenly I thought of something that happened over 60 years ago.  When I was 13, I walked home from Grouse Mountain in my ski boots and got a bad case of Bursitis in my Achilles Tendon. Bursitis felt to me then, what my hip feels like now.

I’m going to take a moment here to say this: People say that the mind is a beautiful thing all the time. Well, my enlightenment is a case in point. It astounds me that my memory of Bursitis came into my consciousness. How did that happen? I have the sense that my memory came to me, I (my conscious mind) didn’t go to it (the memory). 

I credit my brain. Because smell is so evocative of memories, I think association is a big part of the function of memory, and my brain knew that my current sensation is the same, or very similar to, an injury of 60+ years ago. But I, consciously, didn’t. I find that amazing. And I recon that’s an excellent way to speak to a doctor. By saying that it feels like Bursitis is to speak his language.

Today, I’m off to Nanoose Bay. I’m really looking forward to spending another day there with Dianne, her daughter and her daughter’s partner. And on my way, I’m going to a nursery in Nanaimo to look at their stock of shade plants for the new garden area off the deck. I’m going to get a Japanese Maple from the local nursery, and I hope to pick up some bushy perennials today, and maybe some soil. 

This is how the deck looked. I had no idea
what was coming about the foundation

Pete coming out from under the deck and discovering serious 
danger and rot in the foundation.

Pete removed all the rot and laid new rot-proof footings for the
support structure of the deck. Of particular concern, was reinforcing
the part of the deck supporting the hot tub.

The rotten steps are gone here, and Pete is building the new ones.

Ali painting the sanded and scrubbed deck.

We can't paint the new wood until next Summer.
Where the short stairs end will be a new Japanese Maple.

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