Tuesday, January 30, 2024


Warm but wet; yesterday’s morning walk was undertaken in full rain dress. I had my rubber pants on as well as my wellies and hooded raincoat. It looks so uninviting when I’m all dressed in my clean clothes after a nice warm shower, but once I’m out there, I love being in the trails on so lovely and mild a day. 

After the walk, HH and I went into the village for groceries before coming back to Pinecone Park and the comfort of home by the fire. Sadly, I finished my latest book. It’s always disappointing to finish a book I’ve enjoyed reading. On the other hand, I get to start another. My elder solitary life with books is a bookend to my childhood, which was also solitary and filled with books. How many kids have read the entirety of Charles Dickens while I was in elementary school; the Tyrel’s were not readers. One of them must have inherited the Dickens set.

Last night was dreadful. A powerful windstorm came in and there are branches down everywhere. Our North Road is covered in branches this morning. Drivers had to frequently stop to mush large branches off the road, and my garden got badly hit. It was the first storm of this season, and it was a doozy! But last night was also the warmest night so far of this Winter. It was 11° this morning at 5:30.

Steve called in the afternoon. He was, as expected, laid off. He’s had the weekend to ponder things, present and future, so he was prepared and had questions and a post-employment plan. I’m thrilled for myself. I can call whenever I want, and he can stay longer when he comes in the Summer.

He has sufficient resources to retire. I’d move out of LA If it was me. He, however, has his partner living just down the street, and a bazillion distractions to help him pass time and enrich his life. Perhaps his partner, Tim, will retire as well. One day he will, and Steve’s adventure might change again.

In the afternoon, it was 13°!

My poor speech gets a lot of ink on this blog. Seizures would be my second most talked about subject. Physical involuntary movements are my third most common complaint. Which is to say, my condition is my obsession. But I’ve just realized I have not lamented some things: The loss of my drive, my ability to concentrate, and my love of creating. It’s such a shame that I’ve lost these things, and just as I move into a home with a detached large studio.

I have so much time to fill. But …. When I was around 12 years old, I saw a comedian named Shelly Berman appear on television on the Ed Sullivan Show. In his act, a punch line was: “My get up and go, got up and went.” It really made an impression on me. I thought it was terribly clever. It has been in my mind ever since. And here I am, happily living that joke. 

I think my spirit has died. But as I say, I enjoy my life. It’s just a different kind of life. It’s very slow and solitary in the Winter. And I really like this life. I need calmness; it’s part of my FND management strategy. And I have it.

I always said that I felt like a bubble on a river to explain my relationship with life and fate. Later, I was to say I felt like a pin ball. It was the same idea, but faster and more dangerous. Now, I feel like the bubble again, but I’m caught by a twig bending low and flat over the water. Now, the water rushes by, but I stay still and wait to burst. This is how it goes.

I was shocked when I discovered the different care practices between “innocent” babies and we “other” ones. We were the bastards, unintelligent and “deformed.” All of us born into a Catholic home for unwed mothers and their unwanted children. We were the rejects. We were housed out of sight. I found all this out when I was 25 years old when I returned to the facility. The practice offended me; the Catholic care workers undertook appalling practices, yet their public face was pious.

As I aged, I came to question some of my memories. I could remember the story, but I’d lost any sense of the actual experience. I’m careful now. I say, ‘this is what I remember’ when I am telling stories. But since the revelations of the horror of residential schools and the bodies found in their land, I have confidence in my memories my visit so long ago.

For decades, decades, after that visit, I often told the story of that day, and when I did, there was one part of it that I never forgot to include: while I was meeting with the woman representing the Caltholic Charities, she excused herself to go to the washroom, and left my file on her desk. And I sat there and never touched it. I just sat there waiting for her to come back, and got angry that everything I wanted was so close and yet unavailable to me.

The woman had begun by saying how wonderful it was the God got me into a loving family. Uh, NO! But I stayed neutral so as not to offend her in any way, hoping my politeness might reveal something valuable about my birth parents. However, her opening remarks made her the part of the institution that failed me.

But then, one day while I was telling this story, I suddenly realized that that wonderful woman had probably excused herself, leaving that file there for me to open, on purpose. I hope that’s true because it has calmed me, somewhat, lessening my loathing of the Catholic church and all churches. Oh, how I wish I could thank that woman.

This morning, late, I meet with Dr. Shoja, then I go to Nanaimo to shop and to pick up Dwight to bring him back here to visit until tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, January 29, 2024

No Atmospheric River


We were warmed an atmospheric river was on its way, but t was lovely and warm on Saturday, but the rain was heavy in the morning—dense, like a tropical rainstorm. Our morning walk was short—very short, as Her Highness hates being wet. The thick dark clouds kept the day dark. It was a day to remain indoors.

I went into the village for electrical supplies, I had one lamp and one switch to repair. I hated Industrial Arts in junior high school, but what I learned about electricity and electrical wiring has served me very well all my life.

When I got home, the rain had stopped and the clouds were brighter, so HH and I went for a long walk. I’ve never met so many people on a trail before. Between us there were four dogs. I learned from them, that ‘the river’ is due today and it’s two storms. Five days of rain. The upside is the warm Pacific air.

My neighbours, Dave and Ursula, got their construction permit. Finally. They’re going to start building their yurt in March. I’m thrilled for them. And for me. They are lovely neighbours. I’ve invited them for dinner next week to celebrate.

In the restaurant Friday night, my arms were shaking while I talked. If I stopped them, I couldn’t get sound out at all. My friends don’t care, but I do. I came here, in part, to escape pressure, I was feeling shortly after the onset of FND, to get better. Two friends shamed me for believing my diagnosis, claiming it was within my power to get my shit together and stop feeling like a victim. They walked out of my life. Steve, my beloved ex, was initially doubtful. 

Here, everyone who knows me, or about me, has only known me was non-verbal and prone to seizures. But I’ve been pretty seizure free of late. Everyone accepts me.

I’m very excited about Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday morning, I see Dr. Shoja, and I have a lot to talk about, and then HH and I got to Nanaimo to shop, and then to pick up Dwight when he finishes work. He’ll come back here, with me, and we’ll pick up pizzas on the way home to eat. He’ll go home on Wednesday, so we’ll have one day together. I’m showing him where my will is and other things he should know.


Sunday was slow. There was still no atmospheric river. It didn’t rain all day on Sunday; we’d expected a total deluge. I Zoomed at 10:00 with my BC stuttering group. They are a great bunch and I really enjoy our monthly session together. The remainder of the day involved reading, snacking (it was Sunday, after all, my day) and walking with Her Highness.

It was a lovely quiet day and evening by the fire, and with my precious pets. 


When I woke up this morning at 5:30, it was 11° outside and so I was in no hurry to light the fire. It felt cozy warm in the house. Once the fire was lit, I went back to bed for some more ZZZZs. Today will be full of nothing to do, but Steve is in for a big day today. He’s been called to a meeting at 10:00 am, and he’s concerned about its purpose. He fears a transfer, being laid off or that his boss whom he likes a lot, is going. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Finding Elizabeth

A wish that has been part of my soul for56 years, was granted last night.

When I was 19 years old, as I’ve written about here before, I accompanied a young woman just a year younger than me, to Wales where she took possession of a very impressive manor home left to her by her recently deceased uncle. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. But once I left, I never saw or heard from Liz again.

A week ago, I posted an ad on the I Grew Up in West Vancouver Facebook page, seeking anyone who knew her. The post was my latest attempt to find her. All my life I wondered how her story continued. I’d written to her in Wales (no answer, but I had the wrong address), I’d sought out her friends in high school, I tried everything I could think of to find her, but I couldn’t find Liz.

Then last night around dinner time, I got an email from my friend Susan saying she thought that she had found Liz’s email address, and she sent it to me. I immediately wrote to the address to see if it was, in fact, Liz at the other end. At 9:00, she replied. I can’t possibly put into words how I felt. I was elated. For 56 years I’d wondered, hoped and searched. Finally, there she was, and now we’re writing back and forth.

All my life’s biggest enigmas are solved. I found my birth mother, who my birth father was and two half-siblings, and lately I discovered the truth of me—the abuse. And now, Liz is back in my life. This is going to be a very good year!

Yesterday was another day in my dull, dull, but very happy life. Our walks were wonderful because it is so mild right now (I have a Dandelion blooming in the backyard). Otherwise, it was chores, reading and puttering. However, the day ended spectacularly. Kris, Steve, Nancy and I had dinner together at Woodfire. A very good time was had by all.

Today, I’ll be reading the very long letters that Liz, and her partner Patrick, have sent to friends all over the world. These letters recount, in wonderful detail, the extraordinary adventures that she has had on their boat since she sold her house if Wales. Liz has had the most exciting and scary life on board her sailboat. It’s a great, great read.

Orangutan hand.

Friday, January 26, 2024


I wonder if it is my new drug. I took a drug once long ago to relax me, and my doctor said it would take 6 weeks to become active. It’s been about that long since I’ve been taking my new psychiatric medication, so that may be why I was bursting with happiness yesterday. Or it could have been the unseasonably warm temperature that was making me feel positively giddy all afternoon. It could also have been due to another lovely email from CAYA about the technical writing I did for them. They have invited me to accept a credit on the instruction sheet three times, but I told them that technical writers don’t do that.

I feel very proud and lucky to be aware of being so happy. I feel blessed to be actively, consciously, and spontaneously happy. I’m an optimist, too; optimism may often go with positivism. For me, it comes from nature. One of my earliest memories is of making teeny bouquets of tiny blossoms, binding them with tall grasses, and giving them to women in my neighbourhood. I was four. And when we left our home later that year, I was offered a bribe to be happy about the move. My father asked me what I wanted as a house warming gift, and I chose a Double Flowering Almond tree.

Being in nature, on the trails, in the forest that borders my yard, on our beaches and on the sandstone sculptural plateaus of our waterfront, I feel part of something bigger. I feel connected to my planet and the cosmos. Nature is my church.

When I was in college creative writing course, the hardest papers to write were papers on a topic of our own choice. For one such assignment, when I saw our neighbours taking down a favourite tree, I ran over to their yard and measured all the pieces of the tree—their length and girth—as they were stripped of life. I counted rings, and the number of main branches. And I took my measurements to the forestry faculty and found people to help me estimate the volume of wood and the age of the tree. I also got, with their help, an idea of the volume of water it took to grow the tree.

There’s another potential reason for my bliss: it could also be due to the revelations of insight and nomenclature that have come to me from because of my breakdown.  Although it has been a pretty challenging 8 years since it came on, and even though I’ve had to face some harsh facts about my past, I understand myself and that has been a healing experience. Understanding my symptoms are the result of neglect, and that neglect is so heinous a form of abuse, makes sense to me, whereas telling me I have FND meant nothing to me or to anyone I knew. 

The FND experience has kind of ‘flattened’ me. I think that’s why I can now watch movies without crying or jerking or seizing. I don’t feel calm, I feel flat. It could be the drugs. Or it could it be what happens when, on the one hand, I’ve had an epiphany about who I am, which is a significant achievement, and, on the other hand, I’ve had to face the horror of my backstory.

Regardless, although it was a damp and overcast Winter day yesterday, I felt as good as a Summer day on a beach. All these days that yield nothing to write about, are healing days. I have no symptoms. I can even go to the grocery and “pass,” as long as no one tries to engage me in conversation. I can quip with my friend, Bernadette, at the grocery store, and feel ‘normal.’

Finally, my bliss could be because all the snow is gone. When I looked out over the backyard yesterday afternoon, I liked what I saw. In its deadest of deads, my backyard and its gardens looked good. And my front yard, where I tried twice, with soil and seed, to grow grass and failed, looks really good right now with its mosses and teeny weeds yielding a lovely green and natural cover.

God, I’m happy. It must be the drugs.

The last thing that would ever happen to me was going to be, going to a psychiatrist. I thought going to one was a sign of weakness or failure. My fear was based on how I saw psychiatry portrayed on television and in movies. More than that, though, I felt fine!

When I was a young teacher, I went to a school party in the home of a senior student. Well into the event, I came upon a young teenager doing terrible harm to herself in the host’s garage. The girl was the niece of the host. I went to fetch the host for help, but he dismissed me and the urgency of my concern, telling me that she was going through something that she would have to work things out for herself.

When I was with Steve, we offered our home and services to a friend who lived in a small apartment. She wanted to have a party, so we offered our home, and we did all the cooking and baking for the party. At the end of the party, our friend, her best friend and her best friend’s husband were all who remained; at that point, Steve and I joined the party.

Our friend’s best friend had a full leg cast on one leg, and she walked with crutches. It was Winter and there was ice on the patio that linked out house to the garden path. When it was determined that it was time for everyone to leave, the husband got up, fetched his coat and left. I was horrified. I got the wife her coat, fetched her crutches, helped her up, and walked her to the car.

Both the “she’s just working it out” man, and the “I’ll go warm-up the car” man, were psychiatrists. That cemented by mistrust of the psychiatric profession. And then I met Dr. Shoja, and what a trip we’ve had together.

In the movies, the psychiatrists do all the heavy lifting for oblivious patients. That is the opposite of my experience. Dr. S. gives me a woman of exceptional education and an ideal understanding of her role as a mentor to talk to. I trust and value the safe and knowledgeable partnership she offers me on my path to understanding and acceptance. 

Late last night, something wonderful happened. I’ll write about it here tomorrow.