Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Small Island Life


Sunday was a perfect Sunday. I did diddly squat after our morning walk. The walk was incredible, again largely due to the forest fragrances. It wasn’t as cold as it’s been, and the sunshine was so wonderful on my skin. The walk was fabulous, and I was reminded of how fortunate I am to live here on Gabriola Island. It’s paradise. And my speech was very strong. I talked comfortably with different people as we walked. That powerful decrease in capacity is gone. I thought that I’d never recover. Silly me.

I read the afternoon away and then took Her Highness to the park to play fetch the ball. I wanted to tire her out so that when we went to Nancy’s for dinner, she’d be pooped and happy to just rest while we ate and gabbed together.

Just before 5:00, we left for Nancy’s. As expected, it was a great night with good food and lots of chatting. It was great, but getting home was a bitch. I got almost home on North Road, my usual route, and then I came upon an accident of some sort, and I had to drive all the way back to the south end and come home on South Road.

Today will be soft. It’s brilliant and clear outside, and, of course, cold. ON Wednesday the rains and warmer temperatures return. And I’m one very happy camper because my speech is very good now and the second coming is history. Unbelievable!


Monday began with a walk with my small walking group. I was full of energy so I found myself consistently way ahead of the pack, so I stopped often so that we could re-group. But what a wonderful uplifting morning walk it was. To be able to walk, in 3 minutes, from my back door to engulfed in raw unspoiled nature, is a big part of my love for life on Gabriola. 

I lived in Vancouver my entire life, and I felt blessed to have been born in the city. During the last decade of my residency there, I walked 4-5 hours every lovely day. I walked some routes several times, but every other walk was different. The average length of my walks was 10.7 kilometers. I covered a lot of ground and really got to know the city. It never once occurred to me to leave—except for extended vacations.

The onset of FND made me move here. The curse of the condition led to me making one of the smartest decisions of my life.

Twice, lately, at our local grocery store, people have signed, ‘thank you,’ to me. I deeply moved me, both times, because it made me that I was part of a remarkable and welcoming community. The island has a very small town feel because our village is so small. But it’s excellent, between the village and Amazon, I can get everything I need. I go to Walmart in Nanaimo for toiletries and pet supplies, and because it’s an adventure—and sushi.

The Nesters clerks have also asked my name and told me there’s. That never happened in Vancouver. I can’t think of how to describe the feeling, but it’s an intense feeling, it makes me tear up, and it seems to me it’s because I’m overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. It’s those things, plus nature, that makes me wish I’d come a lot earlier. That said, I had a great life in Vancouver.

Now, when I ponder things past, I understand almost everything differently since my diagnosis and the explanation of the cause. I see things that make me believe in the diagnosis, and it’s been very painful to see them in this new light. I believe I’m grieving that past and feeling the pain of understanding. I have a lot to talk about with Dr. Shoja. I’m thinking of this visit (or visits) as a ‘tune up.’

Every day, when I fetch wood, I am grateful for the splitter. I burn less wood, but I’m toasty warm all the time. And why do I have the splitter? Because of sciatica. Just as FND made me move to Gabriola, sciatica made me buy the splitter. Ying, yang. I think it’s magical, that every bad thing I endure, leads to something wonderful, and that keeps me happy and moving forward. It’s something I’ve known for a long time: I am blessed with relentless optimism. It’s a magnificent way to be.

Every day, at some point, I speak to a pet. But I don’t say much, and I’ve only not been able to do that during the second coming. I can do it again, so it’s not until I Zoom or engage with someone, do I know at what level I am functioning with speech.

After the pets, the people I speak best with are strangers on the trails where I only need 2 – 5 words, and with my small dog walking group with whom I walk three times a week. I’ve been with them for 6 years. Then there’s with my friends on Zoom or in person. With them, I’m dreadful at first, and then quite fluent for the duration of the time together.

And all that changes, depending on where we are, or what we are talking about, or environmental aspects—any number of things can change my fluency. It’s constantly in my head to monitor my speech to learn the patterns. It’s been reassuring to realize the where once I was obsessed with my feelings about my condition, I am now focused on management of my condition. Progress.

These are the things I want to talk about with Dr. Shoja. It’s not about her giving me insights, like I saw as I grew up on television and in movies where the doctor is the source of insight. The closest thing I can think of to describe my relationship with her is to say that its like defending a thesis with your advisor in college. I relate to her like a teacher, not a doctor. And the thesis I am working on with her, is my life story. She is the objective, voice. She provides a lot of insightful vocabulary.   

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Inviting David

Saturday was gorgeous but cold. Our morning walk was short but wonderful. I am constantly thrilled by the fragrances of the forest, and yesterday, perhaps due to the cold, was evocatively fragrant. When we came home, I settled blissfully into the chaise to read while Her Highness rested until lunch.

Our lunch was late, and Ron came by right after we were finished, to take Sheba for her afternoon walk. I got busy on the splitter. I can do half an hour at a stretch, but then my back is hurting, so I stop for 15 minutes of rest before taking on a second half hour. I’ve now put three hours of work on our machine. In two more, I must change the oil. I am losing my fear of machines.

I’m really chuffed by how much wood I’ve split in a total, so far, of 3 hours. I have, probably, two months use of starter pieces done. It’s very, very easy now to start a fire, and I only rarely use my maul to chop wood. Its only use is to chop kindling from wood I’ve split, and it’s a piece of cake to do.

And after all the spitting, why a spa, of course! Sunshine, hot water and me. Yes!

I had a lovely long chat on Facetime with David Jr., my young English friend about whom I’m passionate. He’s the nephew of my former boss and wonderful friend, David Sr., and he came out to me. I was the first person he told, and I’ve become his gay uncle Chris. I could not love the guy more. He is a surrogate nephew for me.

As a gift to myself for my birthday and Christmas, I invited him here for the holiday. I offered to buy his plane ticket, and to send him home with some cash to cover lost work while he’s here. The lad is an artistic obsessive. I love his work, but he makes no money from it, so he figures prominently in my will.

He seemed positive about the invitation. I’ve been trying to get him over here for a decade but he always declines. All previous attempts were to bring him over in Summer when he gets decorating work, so this invitation is the first for a Winter visit and he seems far, far more interested. So, I may be in for a spectacular December if he comes.

After 3 weeks with no appointments and just the second coming to attend to, I have a busy week coming up—busy for me is having one thing to do in a day. My, how my life has changed since the onset of FND. It’s so, so different, and much better for my body and soul. 

When young and active—stories to tell—now I have nothing to talk about except my condition. And I don’t want to talk about that except when I need to ask Kris to make a call for me. And I’m still being tentative, monitoring my speech in different situations to understand my new state of being. To me, the change is big. No one around me notices the change. 

I’m really enjoying my current reading. I’m reading novels I’ve bought before becoming addicted to mystery or detective novels. I read all of the novels of P.D. James, Louise Penny, Martin Walker, and Donna Leon. Now every book is different and I’m enjoying that. 

Today is going to be another bright and sunny day. And it’s still cool out there. Out big community dog walk will be brisk. I’m dressing warmly and looking forward to it. Then home to chill and spa before going to Nancy’s for dinner with her, Kris and Steve. 

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Night Fears

Man, it was cold yesterday morning. I lit the fire right away when I got up, and then I kept myself busy doing domestic chores until it was time to go to meet our friends for a dog walk. I wore my down coat and gloves to keep warm. I was very happy to be walking, it was a gorgeous day, but I was also very happy to get home and settled, cozy and warm by the fire and with a book.

And speaking of books, Random House is sending me a replacement version of The Piano Tuner. I had to provide a lot of data, including my receipt, to get the replacement copy. I’m very happy to be able to finish the story I was enjoying so much.

I was tempted to split more wood but didn’t. I just read and chilled all day (and I had a nap) until I took Sheba to the park to chase the ball—her very favourite thing to do. I did accomplish one thing though; I got my will done online. Now, I just have to figure out what I can do about my pets, should I pre-decease them.

I was quite thrown by the second coming, but everything feels normal again. My speech and seizures are different, but the fear of doing damage to my friendships is totally gone. I’d say that my days of monologues are over.

Prior to the second coming, my speech defect was largely blocks. A block is a stop. So I would say a few words and then stop, and then a few more, another stop, etcetera. Now, I have very dramatic repetitions. They are very annoying. They are loud, whereas blocks are silent. Yesterday morning, for example, when I was walking with my friends, I went to say the word, ‘yesterday,’ and I say yuh, yuh, yuh, etcetera for about 20 times.

It feels like words are stored in boxes in my brain, and when I want to say a word, sometimes all the words in the box pour out. It’s very annoying. Sometimes I’ll repeat the first phoneme of the word about 10 times, and then the word about 6 times. Also, annoying. And loud. Plus, there’s a lot of head jerking, arm flaring and grimacing. And worst of all, is after being silent for a while, I can go to speak and instead, I have a seizure—and often, it’s a doozy.

I see my nurse practitioner on Tuesday, so I wrote a letter about what I wanted to give her. I prefer communicating with her in writing because I can think hard about exactly what I want to say. I have an epistle for Dr. Shoja completed in draft form. I don’t see her until early November.

The one great thing about the cold weather is how great it is to come back inside to the welcoming heat of the firebox. I have wool blankets out everywhere, and I am never without one (except when company comes).

I ordered some aged Gouda cheese online. I picked a really delicious sounding variety and everything looked fine, so I hit “buy.” And my $25 cheese became a $135 order due to express shipping charges. I wasn’t given any options on delivery. I’ve learned my lesson. Next time, in Vancouver, where I get my saucisson sec. 

Recently, a local family suffered a home invasion. A man broke into their home while they were home and set the home on fire. The police arrested the man who was suffering drug induced psychosis. That story was likely the cause of my panic last night, just before 10:00 pm when a car drove down the street and stopped just out front of my house and just sat there. After maybe 3 minutes, it drove off, only to come back and sit out there again. Then it moved forward and stopped again. Each stop was a minute or two. It was freaking me out. And then it came again and drove into my driveway. 

It turned out to be my neighbour, Shelly. She was concerned about a dog in distress that I couldn’t hear because the TV was on. She stayed for a short visit and then she left, and I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep because I could hear the poor dog that Shelly had heard. But there was nothing I could do. I didn’t go in search of it because I couldn’t bring it home or the cats would freak. Thankfully, it stopped. Someone must have come to its aid.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Winter is Here

very rarely buy music. I listed to CBC 2 all day. But when I first heard Jeremy Dutcher, I bought an album of his music. I love his voice and how he uses it to advance his culture. He’s a remarkable, earnest and entertaining singer. For his show at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust in September, he wore a special multicolor coat made by French Anishinaabe artist Caroline Monnet. “It was completely woven out of recycled housing materials,” he said. “She wanted to tell a story about the housing crisis. In our communities, housing continues to be an issue, and it has been since the time that my mother was young.”

I did not talk for the first three hours of yesterday. Finally, though, just after 8:00 I spoke a fluid perfect sentence to Sheba. I had an immediate lift. It seemed to me that I had recovered considerably from the second coming. I’m really thrilled, but I also know that anything could happen with my speech, good or bad, at any time. 

So, I’m reading and enjoying the latest novel I’m reading (The pIano Tuner), when I got to page 116. Then, the page facing page 116 was numbered 119, that it’s from an entirely different novel set in the United States in modern times. It seems to be a story of farmers and that story coontinues from page 119 to 246, and then, comes page 245 of The Piano Tuner, and the Piano Tuner continues to the end of the story. I paid $25 bucks for parts of 2 different novels. 

Thrusday was a glorious and sunny day, but it was below zero most of the morning. In the afternoon, it warmed up to 10°, so I got another hour of wood splitting done. It felt great to do it, but it is hard on my back because it is so low on the ground. We may need to build a platform on which to mount it for using it.

I ran into my neighbour, Alwin, who told me the latest about our notorious neighbour. She’s in her 70s, I reckon, and last year she took her dog for a walk, very late in the day, without a flashlight. And she chose to walk on an unfamiliar trail. Well, she got lost and had to spend the night in the massive 707 park. 

The next morning, she found her way home and wrote scathing letters to our newspaper and to the two agencies that husband the park. She became notorious because she blamed everybody but herself. I had a run in with her long ago, and so I avoid her whenever I see her. She’s one of those people who won’t stop talking to you.

On Wednesday evening, she was returning to Gabriola from the big island and she got herself into a set-to with the ferry workers who called the police. Both ferries was delayed for an house because of her. She was taken into custody and not released until today.

I feel for her. I reckon that she has a mental health issue and it’s causing her to make unfortunate decisions. She could be in the beginning stages of frontal lobe dementia, judging from the way she’s acting. 

Damn! I wish the CBC would leave Buffy St. Marie alone. The woman is 82 years old and she’s a champion. She is not someone who, late in life, adopted a false personal history for gain like other Pseudo Indians. I’m deeply sad for her and I’m angry with the CBC’s Fifth Estate, even if their story is true.