Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Nightmares Come Like Seasons

The nightmares come like seasons. Waking in the night soaking in sweat, the terror and faces of the dead. The accusations, “you did not do enough”.  “You failed me like all those before you,” the suicides shout circling, disembodied faces and shrieking voices.  Life was not enough. Why didn’t you convince me. It was your job to save me. You failed me. You failed me.  The wraiths are there in black whispery gossamer chanting angry anxious spectres invading the depths of my sleep, tearing me from peace and making me a morning zombie.  I review the cases over and over and over again.  Ask what I could do different.  Know that the wise avoid such end stage lives.  The cherry pickers never go near those dying of a thousand pains and repeated rejections on rejections with bodies and brains not up to the task of survival.  And yet I tried.  Trying wasn’t enough. The thousands saved in forgotten wars don’t count for the dozen or more are there to accuse.  You did not do enough. I had no resources. I was alone I said.  The hospital discharged you. You hung yourself. I didn’t even know you were free. I was on holiday. I say to another. You didn’t wait for my return.  Borderlines on borderlines on borderlines. And now the angry say I should kill them and beg euthanasia and marijuana and opiates and say I don’t care. You don’t care. You have never known despair. You don’t know my pain. You don’t know my truth. You’re like everyone else. Your medications and your words don’t help. There is no reason for living. Life is a lie. The judges and politicians and bearocrats and institutions are all bought. There is no life without money. You don’t know poverty. You’re a rich doctor. You don’t care. You’re only in it for the money. You don’t care. You don’t listen. You don’t understand. You don’t help me. You don’t know your pain. Take the needle out of your arm, I say.  Take your lips from the bottle.  I need this, you say. It’s killing you.  If you knew my life you’d want to die too.  Let me die. The teen agers are begging me for euthanasia too and they were given marijuana and ritalin and opitates before.  But there’s no solution in running away. But what do I know. I get up and go in the ring and box each day with death and there’s no money in it. There’s no crowds. There are no sponsors, no contracts. Just me and someone saying I want to die and whatever audience there is says give them euthanasia. Who are you to judge life is better. Let them die.  Be kind and let the girl whose boyfriend left her kill herself on you tube.  Why do you interfere.  Let them die. Kill me she cries. Kill me he begs me. And the media is missing the point over and over and over again. Death by cop. Death by suicide. Drama and 20 minutes of Andy Warhol. I stood in the carnage of epidemic reservation suicides and stopped the teens from offing themselves in sensationalism.  Cutting down the hanging boy.  Looking at the face lifeless now in the morgue. Overdoses and overdoes and overdoes with an occasion jump from a bridge or stepping in front of the bus. In the nightmares the throats of those who hung are red and scarred while those that dove off high rise buildings have faces crushed like they did at impact.  And I was there in the front lines.  The aids patients who killed themselves in shame and misery. The children who failed their parents. The godless. The homeless. The sad and angry but mostly angry.  Occasionally there’s a gun and the exit wounds remain a memory like funerals that are subdued for a life so young.  Now more are suicidal and there are no beds. Their is no profit in the already marginalized.  My colleagues avoid them or reject them.  I’m there in the end but what is there to offer and what I offer they refuse. More and more they can’t afford the solutions that might change the course of history in this small important way but there’s rationing and so many people were unprepared for the party to end. Old age. Disease. Lovers leaving. No work because they thought there would always be jobs and the cost of housing rose and their pay didn’t and they waited too long to move back east. It’s lovely here in the summer. People kill themselves in the rain.  The faces accuse me.  I failed them.  I failed myself.  Even better I’m told I was wrong to care. I cared too much. I should have worked with healthier people, done more ‘prevention’, seen far fewer people, refused to see the very very very sick.  There’s only so much one doctor can do.  Each of us talks like this. I tried to share my nightmares but he was as frightened as I.  I saw that my horror triggered his horror and it wasn’t like soldiers. Ours is a dirty war. It’s like Vietnam. There’s no honour in stopping suicides and suicides want to distance themselves from you and their near escape with the abyss. Eventually death gets all of us. Why rush headlong. But the depression and the pain is like the rain. It’s sometimes 40 days and 40 nights. The long dark nights of the soul. The winter the men and women killed themselves with cabin fever. And my sleep is broken. My sleep is disturbed.  I have nothing more to offer her or him. There are no asylums any more. They closed the doors. The patients don’t even have homes.  There are no shelters.  The psychopaths and sociopaths steal the shelters and the homes and the money and the resources.  The corruption in the system is putrid but in the end they’re all so far away from the cries and accusations of the dying and the dead.  We’re going back to ECT and neurosurgery. All the pills and talk have been used and there are no further restraints.  Euthanasia is the only ‘medicine’ the single health care for profit government service will pay for says the truly cynical. I hold out hope. Offer yet another trial. I’m like an oncologist suggesting different treatments for the cancer of the soul.  Suicide.  Addiction. Depression. Schizophrenia.  I’m crying in the night again.  This too will pass. It always does. It lasted longer then but not now.  I know that tears are punished. There is no use in crying.  One shouldn’t care.  One shouldn’t advocate for the lonely and those in despair.  It’s all punishable. They punish those who feed the starving in America.  Do not feed the poor. Do not feed the animals. Do not stop the death. CO2 is the enemy. Stop the breathing. Save the planet. The rocks are more important than the life.  There’s billions for the spotted owl but not for the young man or woman not wanting to live in pain but worse not for the old.  The drug addicted psychotic with the false promises don’t even know which way to turn in their smoke filled haze.  They choose death like they would an ice cream bar or a toilet. Drugs and alcohol blur perception till death is like a bowel movement. Who cares.  Why are you stopping me.  Shut the fuck up. Don’t tell me death isn’t sublime. I’m going to kill myself and there’s nothing you or anyone can do about it. And there isn’t.  It used to be I could lock him up till the rage and insanity went away but there are no beds.  The hospital beds went to the jails.  The mentally ill are criminalized.  Marginalized. Stigmatised. And now I wake in the night with nightmares again. Dammit! Dammit! There’s nothing more we can do. There are no more resources.  There never were that many to begin with.  I’m old too.  I know more than I ever ever knew. I’m at the top of my game.  I’m a master and yet the challenges just get greater. I scaled the foothills as a kid but now each case is an everest of pain and disease and mental illness and lack of resources and addiction and suicide and crime and infectious disease and fear and anger.  I’m done in in the morning, worrying about details.  Did the shepherd count all the sheep. Did all the children come in from the playground .Are all the swimmers out of the lake.  Is there something new in medications I didn’t read about. Have I tried everything.  Should I have done a urine screen. How could I know the patient was smoking that much marijuana and drinking that much booze.  How come I didn’t do a home visit to check their medicine cabinet.  They were buying the benzos on the street. They got the opiates from several different sources. Why didn’t I see it coming. You did see it coming but you couldn’t stop it. They’re like bullets now but the speed of fire is machine gun.  You used to have only one person referred to you suicidal in a month but now it’s weekly. Everyone is suicidal and they’re all older and all the medications have been used by the gps and everyone has provided a consult but no one has time to sit with the patient and hundreds are clawing at your arms and legs and begging you for more time and I ask myself am I giving the time to those who need it most. It’s all triage now.  The ones that scream and scream and have seen everyone but won’t do anything for themselves may never get better but the one who needs just a little help might be missed but with just that hour or that day of care might get up and walk another year or more.  But this one can only have an offer of a detox but they’re refused the hospital and I know they might die. I’ve seen death. I’ve smelt death and I’ve known too much death.  But fresh out of school the boys and girls flock to the administration jobs. No one wants to work the front lines. No one wants to do more tours than the least possible with the chronics and the dying.  The rich are so much cleaner. The poor are so dirty. I scratch myself for days after some patients.  The scabies, lice and fleas and bed bugs get to me as much as the threats of suicides.  The threats of homicide are there as well. The bullying and the guns.  Sometimes they even point a syringe.  And it doesn’t bother me for weeks or months and then someone gets through the armour and I wake crying in the night remembering the judge condemning her for loving her child and her death in the morning papers.  And i couldn’t do anything about it so they condemned me as well.  And funny as it seems I’m sometimes visited by the old man that died because the hospital didn’t fill the oxygen tank and I was pumping dead air into dying lungs and he was looking at me forgivingly because well, ‘pneumonia is the old man’s friend’ .  So maybe the bureaucrats and for profit insurance folk in the space station offices are right euthanasia and give them a toke is all they need. The psychotic 20 year old Chinese genius smoking dope and never again to complete another brilliant year of university but convinced for ever that people are out to get him off in some schizophrenia ward when the drug dealer promised him nirvana.  MArijuana is good for you. It’s a herb.  I can’t forget the teen age boy hanging in his room, his clammy skin.  I didn’t even know him except to cut him down. Another doctors nightmare. Now a shared nightmare.  Silly now. I’ll go back to bed. It’s all so overwhelming but it’s just the rain.  And once again hearing ‘we have no beds’ .  Vancouver is not a place for old men, the mentally ill or the poor.  It’s a fast and tough city for the very best.  The old, and mentally ill and poor should move.  Die already.  Losers.  Here take some change. Move along.  And the money goes to the drug dealers and for booze.  There’s always money  for critics too.  And reports.  And special reports.  And committees.  I’m alone for an hour listening or talking or selling life and I’m the last one who will see the person.  “I phoned 37 psychiatrists and you’re the only one that would take them.” I’ve heard that dozens of times.  “I’ve no where else to go.”  And it’s not that I want to see them but I’m a people pleaser and I have trouble saying no. I have trouble collecting unpaid bills from patients or their rich lawyers or their rich families.  I have trouble saying no and trouble with accounting and thinking what’s in it for me and where’s the most money and how can I best use my time for my betterment not the betterment of others. I’m missing some special gene of self interest that would allow me to focus on the healthy and wealthy treating the worried well like health food stores and appearing compassionate with the broken fingernail. I’ve been bleeding out my butt for weeks he told me. His fistula smelt in the office but I didn’t say just taking out the aerosol after he’d left. The bandages must have slipped. The surgery went well. I’m so glad. He’s such a fastidious fellow. He was so ashamed of the smell.  I do hope the cancer doesn’t return. i’m praying ever day for my patients. I’m praying for them to be well.  I’m dying too. We’re all dying.  Life is finite. There’s not eternity here in this little compartment of infinite reality.  Why be so attached. Wear life like a loose robe.  Listen to the whining and the crying and the rage and leave it all at the office.  It’s easy. You do it most days. But then the nightmares come again.  I hate the nights of sleeplessness. I hate going to work bagged again knowing there will not be enough time and no more assistants and never any resources.  The boxes of kleenex and soap are an exorbitant cost.  The chairs have been worn out by sitting and waiting.  I’ve just ordered a new desk. The desks have come and gone as have the chairs and I’m still there.  It’s not all that much longer.  A decade, two at most.  It’s not like the beginning facing the 50 years before the gold watch, I’ve done 30 years.  Tens of thousands of strangers have become known and close and gone and they’re the sad, angry, sick and unhappy ones. So many are thankless. So many are just always ornery. Were born that way. Lifelong histories of difficulties, failures, crimes, divorces, lost jobs, illness.  So many people have let them down, used them, abused them and then there’s me and I’m just another one of them. The paranoids have given up differentiating friends and foes. Everyone is foe. It’s easier that way. Sometimes they take the medication. “It takes the edge off”. Other times they slash their wrists and bleed till they’re sutured in emergency.  She called me today and said she was suicidal and she’d told another helpless worker that she was suicidal and another hospital emergency had said they had no beds and I’m awake in the night wondering how I’ve failed, how I could have somehow stopped her jumping off the roof. They blur.  The boy with the gun.  All the ones on the suicide wards. The ones in the asylum. The soldiers here and overseas.  I’m depressed, doctor. I’m thinking suicide.  In the courts they get us to criticize each other dividing the doctors into the good and the bad so they can get ugly. The media loves the ugly. There’s sensationalism everywhere but in my office itsl just despair. It’s making love to same unloving woman or man day after day week after week. Everyone is good at the sprint. It’s the marathon that takes it’s toll.  I’m tired now.I’ll go back to bed.  The nightmares forgotten. The faces are gone.  I’ll go to graveyards. I ‘ll talk to trees. I’ll pray and meditate. I’ll sit alone in churches. I read and study some more . I’ll learn more and more about the latest drug and wait till some hotshot academic tells me I don’t know anything or some doctor police condemns me for not doing enough. There’s a shitload of critics and all manner of back benchers doing the light lifting but there’s way too few of us at the front lines.  There’s no resources.  It takes a village to raise a child.  They’re children. They’re humans.  They’re mentally ill.  I beg each day for my patients to get them food, shelters, medications, beds and it’s all unpaid. The begging the authorities and badgering the authorities. There’s no money in that. All I should be doing is writing a prescriptions and saying good day.  That’s where the money is. That’s what the smart doctors do. Those are the doctors who get ahead. They’re the ones that go on to police the doctors. They’re the smart ones who stay as far from the patients as possible.  8, 10, 12 hours of direct patient contact most days and for 30 years.  You should have stayed in that government job where everyone just met and talked about the patients in committees after committees but no one actually saw the patients. it was such a good job with all manner of perks and pension and health benefits.  you’re an asshole to have left the good things in life, the easy times. It’s your own fault you insist on seeing the really sick and accepting these end stage losers in your practice. you should be ‘selective’ like I am.  I ‘ve heard it all.  Dinner with the other old warrior doctor was good for the soul. We laughed when he told me he ‘d got scabies twice when I told him about getting TB .  Scars.  Silly silly scars. Memories.  I saw another TB today.  I didn’t know what that rash was and was so thankful that a colleague was there to look and recognize it.  Little mercies.  It’s so late. I’ve got to get some rest.  It’s a long day and the week has just begun.  They’re always dying around Christmas and then it’s a deluge till March or April. When the crocuses and tulips come, the suicidals lessen.  Until then it’s depression .  I’m just adjusting to the winter rains.  It rains tears in Vancouver this time of the year. I’m so thankful for all the other front line workers and doctors and colleagues.  My friend copes by riding his bicycle a hundred miles after work.  Now that’s one way of shedding demons. My other colleagues goes for day long drives. I’ve been out in the woods and really should be sailing.  But it’s just another day and another week.  it’s so much better than other years.  There’s the hope of death one day as release for sure.  Aging makes everyone seem less important in a different way.  It’s not so intense. And I can share it.  I don’t have to hide from those so superior they don’t ever cry and suck the life out of rooms when they swagger through the doors.  There’s so many working It’s worth it to remember that. So many things to be thankful for. So many nights of fitful sleep. So many good things and good friends. All the other patients weren’t suicidal this week. It’s just the one that’s triggered the deluge. The one that was phoning every night in the wee hours desperate has survived their storms this month and are smooth sailing, another job, a place to stay no longer crying in the phone and coming to the office desperate. The angry still hide behind the tears of self pity. The blamers and shakers still claim they’re innocent. There’s karma and retribution and no doubt you’ll come back as a butterfly. Someone has to be a caterpillar. These are the best of days.  So what if you wake in the night screaming soaked in sweat. It’s been an adventure. It’s a good year. Life is grand. God is good. Thank you for whole and everything and all. Thy will be done not mine.  God help me be the best I can be each day.  Be with me now as I go back to bed and help me through this night.  Thank you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

East Van Roasters

East Van Roasters is a delightful little store where the finest of people make chocolate and sell coffee. The coffee is delicious. I’m sold.  The chocolates are to die for. I’m sold.  The atmosphere is almost as delicious.  A wonderful addition to the community. IMG 7047IMG 7045IMG 7043IMG 7041

Cache Creek - more game viewing

It was the last weekend of moose hunting in Zone 3.  Tom and Gilbert and I got a head start by driving up Thursday night. Friday morning early we were at the A&W grabbing the breakfast Sausage and Eggers with thermos of hot coffee.
Driving in on the logging road we didn't see any moose. They're there. They have bird reconnaissance and squirrel security letting them know our movements.  They might even have satellite coverage.  We did see mule deer. Not close enough to shoot.
We drove around a bit.  I shot off some targets.  Later we got back to the Motel.  I read I Sniper.  Tom played ball with Gilbert.  We saw some logging being done. We also did some fine 4x4ing along some frozen marshland ground.
The next day we saw more mule deer but none with 4 points and no moose.  We did miss a half dozen blue grouse.  I'd not had the 20 gauge handy.  By the time I was firing the birds were flying.  It was clearly a case of birds 1, hunters 0.  Gilbert was not impressed.
We ate great meals.  Cache Creek is chock full of  restaurants and motels.  I had to go to Ashcroft to get long johns at the Fields.  It was cold.
I saw a lovely three point.  The scenery was great. It was a terrific time in the woods. Tom and I talked about God and politics and everything else. Gilbert ran circles everywhere. I hiked and sat in ambush.  We had met with other hunters and jawed a bit.  It was that kind of good weekend.
Not what I'd call 'hunting' , just more 'animal viewing'.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day

This morning is a hard start.  Hard start refers to an engine that won’t turn over.  It refuses to spark.  I’ve slept in.  First time in months.  Usually I’m in this robotic routine that gets me up and out of the house to work approximately on time.  Thousands of days of work. Thousands of before dawn days.  Today the sun is shining.
I got up and moved to a chair to meditate. My mind wasn’t on God, or Peace or Bliss. I wasn’t ‘mindful’.  I wasn’t even able to focus on prayers.  My soul had attention deficit disorder.  The monkey mind staggering through its various concerns.  Nothing compelling. Just distracting. No energy apparently to focus.  I lack the passion for God. I want my bed instead.
I am the monk who went back to bed.  
I napped on the couch.  Eventually,  the dog, impatient,  climbed all over  me.  I'm a dog mat.  He  licked my face.   Alright, already.
I got up again.  I let mutt out.  It's a crisp day.  He peed,sniffed,looked about and came back in when I called.
I have the day off. A tabala rosa day.  Remembrance Day. November 11.
Remembrance Day.  My father was RCAF.  World War II Royal Canadian Air Force.  Thanks to the sacrifice of the soldiers I’ve lived  a life of relative peace dealing only with self righteous smug and power abusing bureaucrats rather than facing the more judgemental nature of bullets and bombs.  All I have to complain about is the silly grade school officiousness of the stupid and arrogant.  Elsewhere, outside of Canada, children are being killed by random suicide bombers with bad hair and bad attitudes. Mothers and fathers are keening.
I remember my father at the cenotaph.  I was with Laura then.  The RCMP were resplendent in red serge.  Dad was proud to be among his fellow soldiers. He was a west coast bomber in WWII.  He said they  thanked him for bombing a submarine.
“I think it was a whale”, he said. The fog of war.  The humility of my father.
I’m thankful for the privilege of the years working with Veterans Affairs. I saw the old men and women,   heard their stories of being young.   They told me they knew no better than to do as they were told.  They followed orders and nearly died rescuing friends.   It was a hellish time.  They were heroes.  They held their heads high.  They knew the meaning of friendship.  They had solid values. Their houses were built on strong foundations.
Now the veterans I see are more often from forgotten wars of other countries where petty tyrants fought their neighbours, all of it more like medieval jousts with people as peasants.    They saw no glory in their service. Their countries have forgotten them. Regimes have changed.  They escaped.  They live here now.  In Canada.
Here the silly and stupid  forfeit the very rights my father fought for.  The leaders made promises. They've reneged on them now.  They hide behind  the fashion political correctness. They're all up the skirts of girls using them as puppets.
“We’ve aborted more of our own people than the Nazi killed in the war,” she said.  The nihilism of the atheism of our secular age is so in contrast to the robustness of the last generation.   I look around and see the  Germany or Russia of  1930’s.  Except we have shopping malls.  The cathedrals and temples go empty but the parking lots are full.
Dad believed in the working man.  He didn’t know his creed was ‘meritocracy’.  Reward those who work for the common good.  He actually liked the politicians of his day.  Mother celebrated the city leadership.  There was a pride in achievement.  They worried about the greed of their neighbour and were furious about the encroaching taxes. Overall they enjoyed life.  They were  family.
 I was a part of family, still am, even though I fall apart.   It's just the way I'm wired or maybe it comes with my work.   The existential angst.  The scream on a wood cut bridge.  I have some sort of spiritual seizure disorder. I see myself flailing about when everyone else seems a happy cabbage in the happy cabbage patch.
Right now I've attached my discontent to growing old. I could as easily stick it on a political party or a winter season, a lover or just about any fact of life.
Who is that hairy white bearded straggly haired wrinkled thing I see in the mirror.
I don’t think my father wondered at the mirror. His was a more accepting bent.  He complained about the aches and pains of labour but he wasn’t concerned with mirrors. His wasn't a selfie generation.  The facade was critical.  Their generation had the lawns and picket fences. Ours has plastic surgery.  No one is without pretention.  Even the priests like their gold laced robes.
I’ve saved a lot of lives.  I’ve been present and trained for a lot of crisis, emergency and mystery. I’ve repeatedly, thousands of times now ,convinced people not to die, either by cutting out something, physically tying off something, stopping the actual bleeding or starting up the lungs again by thumping on a dozen chests or more.  Sometimes I just took away a bottle of pills, or  hid the knifes. I've been forever convincing people it’s worth it to live.  I've fought morbidity and mortality daily sometimes hourly for 35 years.   I do hope I'm right.
When I die I could meet a whole lot of angry people in paradise hating me for keeping them in their jobs and marriages, paying taxes and supporting the latest liberal regime.  In that personal nightmare of mine it doesn't matter how you got 'there' .  There are no conditions. You just have to get out of 'here'. The babies are the greatest winners in that afterlife. In that dream I'm the greatest evil there is. Satan selling life in this materialist secular Platonic shadow world when over the hill in the promised land, with no conditions. Unconditional love for all. Kill yourself and you still get a harp. Everyone has a personal cloud. There is no hell.  No hell. No purgatory. No loss or grief. But rather you awake in wonder and hate that 'fucking psychiatrist' who kept you chained to misery all those years.  And here I thought I was a saviour when really I was nothing more than a prison guard making sure everyone filled their allotted sentence, my own fear of death, holding others here.
Mostly these days I use all my training in motivation, analysis, hypnosis and pharmaceuticals to convince people to let go of the needle. I counteract the slavery of the pin prick.  It's all in the ritual. The blood letting, the injecting, the heating, the transaction, the sleep, the passion to avoid the pain.  The myth of Sissyphus. And then again the vultures come to pluck at the eyes of another Graecian hero.  They’re as fixated on their self made myths as my dog is fixated on his yellow tennis ball.  Their lives are reduced. Obsessions.  Compulsions.  Addictions. Slaves to the drug dealers.  I ride in on my white pony, more a jack ass, a harley davidson actually. I wrestle the man from the dealers. The dealers are actually kind of  glad to give him up now that they've taken his house, his home, his wife, his kids, his job, his dog, his health. There's so little money and will to live that our struggle for this remnant is ritual itself. They're interested in a new loser. They want a celebrity or a banker, maybe a doctor, or a lawyer, a younger heiress. That's who they'd rather devote their time to. So they let this one go.  I good samaritan him back to wholeness and hope he doesn't look back knowing he'll turn to salt if he does.
And I must reassure myself that I should live each day.  Each day I must reaffirm life. Sometimes many times in the day I must do this.  All day long my office is an argument for defeat.  It’s about suicide or addiction or leaving a marriage or a relationship or getting into another abusive marriage or relationship or not working or working in an abusive relationship with a satyrical boss or becoming a terrorist, or slashing.  Losing direction or faith and not knowing where the detour occurred. I come into the abyss and join the darkness to find you thn hope we  find our way back together.  You bitch and complain all the way and when you get into the light and have the strength to stand on your feet you will curse me forever for taking you out of your rabbit hole. There will be enemies of mine who will join you. Those are the ones whose finances I've affected by criticizing their hypocrisy.   I believe I'm  helping rebuild in a world bent on destruction.  I'm  helping lose  the needle back in the hay stack.  I'm suggesting we look for love and work instead.
What is the meaning? What is the reason?  
Death is stalking me.
I’ve been in the shadow of the valley.
I’ve held the dying in my arms. Now I am the dying. We always were. But didn't think of it that way. A daily dance.  A song of songs.  A cruel or kind embrace.
I’ve known the last words.
I’ve been the last face.
I’ve had little reason for doubt in those times.
There is a certainty in reality. I’m among ideologues, talking heads who can’t find their ass with both hands.  I’m unduly judgemental. I know their fear is like fingernails on glass. There’s a whine and screech I hear. I see it in their bodies. Their hypertension and the organ failures speak to the war they’re waging. It’s hard for everyone to go on.  I don't imagine others can know the sheer volume of experience, the screech of emotions as they talk and shout so many things, yet really think they're being 'discrete'.  The ones in uniforms are the loudest. They have the shortest fuses.  They judge themselves as they judge others. Harshly.
Even the rich and privileged come to their ends, face death.  The money men and women lack the equanimity of philosophers or poets.  "You can’t take it with you.", they even say ,unknowingly.   I hear their screams in terror in the anger of their skin. I see the pulsations of troubled arteries. The vessels in their eyes betray them. Their pupils are worth a thousand words.  They lie to themselves.  There is such terror in the death of materialists.  I’m bolstered by my spiritualism. I’m comforted by my faith.  The faithless flounder before life and death.   Lies no longer serve them in that last encounter.
He hung himself.  I knew him well.
I knew him and could not convince him that there was more to life than a needle in his arm.  I failed him as much as I failed the woman when I held her dead baby in my hands.  Oh I know there were others.  It takes a village to raise a child. The baby was dead before I was called to the hospital.  I was only there to witness. I recorded the man's passing as well. Our conversations about the 'culture of addiction' and the need for 'self medication', his 'right to die' and all that other stuff.  Armchair philosophers love to talk. He was a wonderful man.  So young. A mere 50 year old. Old for the dark ages but so young today.  So sad. Such tragedy.  The dealers had long ago stopped giving him money and fast cars. The good time girls had gone.  He was so sick he hardly stole enough for his needs.  He was alone in an SRO when they found him.  Hanging.
So many live their lives in jail or asylums. I don’t know how I could go on with out the wilderness or the sea.  I escape to these empty wild and full reaches where sometimes hardly a bird or an animal interrupts my solitude. The hum of the anthill city is far away. The illusion of the substance of crowds is behind me. I’m hanging on a mast or sitting in a clearing with a rifle watching and waiting.  The solitude washes over me healing like gentian violet.  The sickness leaves for a while.  The suffering is less. God the chimney sweep has taken away a load of soot.
Desire remains.
I miss her scent, her nakedness, the loveliness of her.  I miss the dying between her legs that resurrected and restored my faith as much as any time in the wild.  Before she lost her faith and way.  Before we slid apart.  Sweat is slippery.
He told me of the men on the upturned life raft in the North Atlantic, the freezing numbing cold, others slipping into the dark, then later the sharks.  He remembers the faces of the men..  He didn’t know why held on or why he lived.  Remembrance day is special for him.  He gives thanks and mourns his comrades long lost.  One day he expects to meet with them again.
I don’t know why, he says. I don't know why I never let go.
She thought it was all ‘luck’.  Mine was good. Hers was bad.  She was a victim. I was a victimizer.  I just remember the work.  I don’t like that they deny the work today.  Fatalism.  I prefer ‘karma’ and ‘retribution’.  Yet I really don’t know why I was born to parents who loved me or why I decided to always to work for the benefit of my fellow man while she set out to serve herself and her own and today is lonely.  I explain today it's for the money. That's the reason they understand.  It's only when I explain how to make money they see the reason in my serving. Was it only about the money?  How can they understand that it was little about the money. If you can save a life you can make a million but what's a million to a dying man.  I dream of being alone at sea again crossing oceans facing challenges and adventures, but going where.  It's always here.
I don’t know why I didn’t rest when there was ‘enough’. Like my grandfather and father I worked longer for the times of trouble and saved as they did.  All around me there were parties.  All around me there were ‘easy schemes’ but instead I just got up before dawn and went to work and returned long after dusk.  When I was "taking time off" I was learning other skills.
The government gets votes with redistribution schemes.   Steal from the rich and give to the poor.  More and more I see my counterparts working under the table,  working scams.   The rewards gone out of honest work. The sacrifice and work are no longer  redistributed.  Only the rewards are redistributed. The pay off is in the complaining.   The thugs steal the potatoes of the farmers till all is like Africa where no one ‘saves’ because ‘savings’ are stolen.  Like children.   It’s become that here with the banks and the greed of bankers.  My father told me of the men who hid coins in mattresses because they couldn’t trust the banks of his day.
Only the nouveau rich flaunt their wealth.
I’ve stored my earnings in education and now am aging towards dementia.  All the lessons of survival and success I’ve learned will be fore naught when my mind is lost.  Forget about the banks.  Insaniety erodes all much quicker.
So what is dementia. Not the silly materialist explanation. But Lethe.  What is the forgetting.  The stupid are always happier than the smartest.  There’s blessings in mediocrity that the mediocre cannot know.  Intellectuals are a morbid lot.
God doesn’t want our ideas as much as he loves our dance.
It’s not called the ‘song of creation’ for naught.  The celestial spheres make music.  I may lose my mind but I’ll not lose my inner ear.  I’ll always dream.  To dream that is the rub.
These days my dreams have been happy and adventuresome.  The nightmares still occur but less so.
I did like this coffee.  What a miracle the world of distribution is.  This global product is my miracle. My fridge is sacred. It runs on propane or electricity.  I have this wonder of a gas stove I’ll light again and make another cup. To savour a morning cup of coffee. This is true wealth.  It’s not the myriad of things but rather the ability to enjoy them. To have the presence and peace of mind to languish in the moment and love the celebration of creation. That is the elixir of youth.
What will I do today?  I’ve been reading this brilliant book by a new French Canadian author. I’d surely like to finish it before I see him next.  The dog definitely wants a walk.  There are meetings to go to, church services and gatherings of those who are honouring our soldiers.  It’s Remembrance Day.  I can’t help but remember my father.  I miss him.  We all missed my mom when she went first.  I was such a fool when I was younger.  There was so much I wanted to know.  But he knew I’d learn it soon enough.  There’s somethings one can’t learn with words alone.  Experience has taught me his wisdom.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Journal - Nov. 9, 2014

I’m on the sailing vessel, GIRI.  Gilbert had me throwing the ball for him for quite a while. I made coffee and soup. That took getting the propane going.  But great coffee.  I love this boat.  I bought a new $29 Likewise ceramic heater from Canadian Tire and it’s booting out the BTU’s.  Almost toasty.  Just came by after church to check things out and decided to hang out for awhile. So homey.
At St. James Anglican Father Mathew gave a moving sermon on peace.  The choir was particularly uplifting.  It had been a while since I was present for mass.  Gilbert loved by all.  Sad new though.  Father Mark announced he’s moving to Wales in the New Year.  He’s been truly inspiring. I remember when I first came to the church saying I’d been kicked out of Christ Church because they don’t like dogs.  Gilbert’s a therapy dog but there was just that ‘anti dog’ development.  I’ve watched places lose their heart as they turn on animals especially in churches where Jesus is viewed as a shepherd.  The Bishop even blessed Gilbert.
But when I came to St. James, I told Father Mark, Gilbert and I were unwelcome at Christ Church and Father Mark replied, “Gilbert is welcome.  We love dogs here. You can come along if you’re with Gilbert, even!”  So Gilbert fell in love with St. James and I came to throughly enjoy the deep Anglican spirituality of Father Mark.  It’s a wonderful parish.  Today I told him that Wales was going to be a difficult Sunday commute for Gilbert and I.
It was great to see Kevin, AJ and the kids. I’m reminded of when my brother and sister in law had rug bunnies, my now big and tall nephews. I didn’t quite differentiate them.  I think this reflects my bachelorness. They’re all ‘kids’ until they’re talking to me.  Despite delivering a hundred or so and treating thousands of children I really am most impressed with Kangaroos.  Kevin and AJ are such loving parents while I’m waiting till the kids are able to play chess.  My nephews in their late 20’s and 30’s are quite human and formed.  Kevin carried the baby on his chest while AJ beside me at the alter had the toddler held between her arms as she accepted host.  A little later one of the three was beelining for the door and caught in passing by one of the church elders.  Over coffee, he quipped later it takes more than just parents to keep an eye on these little bullets.  “That’s why they say it takes a village to raise a child.”  I’m thankful Gilbert’s fine on a leash and mostly accepts commands. When he was a little tyke with his own curious agenda and no fear, Laura was around to tackle him when I was trying to keep him from rushing headlong across a street to visit a new dog.  Today he stops for my screams, obedience training still evaporating when there’s a female critter about.  The young are so vulnerable and stupid.
I just learned that there are a billion and half muslims in the world and 30% are radicalized.  There are millions in north america and 30% of these are radicalized as well.  Jihadist muslims want to destroy everything in western civilization, and Canadian young have been going to Syria to fight for Sharia Law.  It’s different in a way from the days when Hemingway went off to fight for the left wing against the fascists in Spain.  There’s such romance in the young but war is always about money and old women and old men scheming.  I’m thankful that Canada is so peaceful.  Our prime minister is off trying to improve trade with China, our second largest trade partner.  The lost in politics for Obama may mean more markets for Canadian oil in the states. People forget that the production of electricity involves environmental costs no matter what. I’ve had solar panels for 25 years, along with wind generators and water generators. My new diesel engine really gives me joy because of it’s power and reliability.  I’ve 8 marine deep cycle batteries on this boat and have had to change them at $100 a pop every few years for maximum efficiency.  Right now I’m using dock electricity 120 V to run the heater. Heater’s are very demanding.  It doesn’t surprise me that northern countries turned to nuclear power because heat is so demanding.  My brother just put in a 220 V plug to run his washer and dryer.  I had to turn off my heater to run my microwave. It all becomes even more interesting when I’m running of the converter.  I have hoped that people with iPhones and computers will become more aware of batteries and charging so that they can be less stupid about environmentalism.  I have a stove that converts burning wood to charge my phone but the efficiency is something less than electricity from a plug.  Phones and computers use the least juice. I encourage people to imagine if they had to charge their home heater with solar panels in winter considering how much juice heating takes. In the south our air conditioner was the great consumer.  I’ve been doing this ‘practically’ for a quarter of a century and in my country house we used a wood stove with various vectoring to heat the house efficiently.  The trouble with the media and academics is that they’ve not ‘lived’ these things. I remember the failure of my electric bicycle early days.  I went back to a gas scooter because of the demands of charging.  Thankfully things are improving dramatically.  The power pack on my computer is lighter and longer lasting by far than a year ago.  Right now I’m enjoying this ceramic electric heater.
I was asked when I was going away at Christmas.  I’ve just visited my brother and know I’m always welcome thanks to the graciousness of my sister in law.  It was truly at joy to be with Ron at his new Napanee home. He’s bought a couple of albacore sailing dinghy’s so I look forward to getting out with my nephew Allan (who threw back the fish I caught this fall) and racing him on Hay Bay.  Graeme and Andrew and Tanya are always enjoyable to see.  I just love Ron and Adell’s new place and maybe next spring or summer will get back there with Gilbert who loves Allan’s cockapoo Eva.  I’ve friends inviting me to join them in Mexico and Hawaii.  Going to the hot is the sane and healthy thing to do in winter.  I used to enjoy skiing at Whistler , getting above the clouds and enjoying the sun on the slopes.  I keep thinking that there’s a limit to trips so why Hawaii and Mexico where I’ve already been often, why not Manilla Phillipines. I mentioned this to the fillipino girls at work and they said, “Don’t go at Christmas. That’s when all the Fillipino’s are there.”  We laughed at how that came out but what they meant was that Christmas was when the third of the Phillipines who work overseas came back to visit family.  Conjestion and chaos so not really the best time to tourist there but maybe January.  Then I thought South Africa, clearly hot, and my nephew and brother went on Safari there with great photographer joy.  Gilbert wouldn’t be welcomed which he is in Mexico.  I’ve enjoyed sailing my boat to Salt Spring, winter sailing being so peaceful but my diesel heater is connected to the diesel tank which we’ve disconnected waiting for an inspection plate to be put in.  If I fill it I’ll have to suck it out before I can put a plate in.  The Stem to Stern folk who put in the new volvo penta engine last year were concerned with the quality of fuel that might come from that tank since we’d not been able to truly clean out the sludge from the bottom without an inspection plate.  My RV needs to go in for repair too so it would be good to coordinate travelling with when it’s being repaired.I did stay in a hotel in Vancouver last year for a couple of weeks.  I’ve thought of South America but I really would like to go to Egypt, Ethiopia or Turkey , all hot but which Christian roots that interest me. I loved being in St. Petersburg and Moscow given the history of Christianity.  The trouble with the countries I’d like to travel to is that they’re decidedly not safe now.  While I no longer worry about being raped as I might have been concerned as a kid, I’m worried about being kidnapped and held hostage and Gilbert getting a demand for a ransom, or worse being beheaded.  The jihadists do that then sell the organs from the bodies right after. I don’t want to be a forced organ doner.  I’d love to go to Ireland or Scotland but the weather there is as inhospitable as Canada.  Meanwhile I’ve so much work to do, David, my doctor friend said, “I’m thinking of a ‘stay cation’ . that’s where you just stay at home.”  What an idea?
We call these cadillac problems?  In contrast to concerns about tsunamis, world wars, jihadists, having a job, Canadians with less than 7% unemployment are mostly concerned with ‘choices’.  I used to go winter camping, no cost in that, very exciting and exhilarating, very very dramatic and adventuresome, but Canadians like to complain they don’t have the money to go to South Africa.  $3000 air fare versus a 10 day hotel and air fare vacation in Mexico for $800.  Indeed I was in Palm Dessert and thought of going there because return air fare are as low as $300. So for the warm, there’s Arizona as well or just hoping in the car and driving down to LA in a couple of days.  I heard of 4 kids who did that last year.  Christmas in LA.  All sorts of possibilities but then it’s really attractive to veg on the couch and maybe make a turkey. I miss the parties I had for years , dozens and dozens of house parties with dozens and dozens of guests and huge spreads of food.  That was what I did during the 20 years of marriage. All the married people eating tougher thing and our big houses being the popular destination and my enjoying cooking.  I think of the 30 or 40 deer I’ve shot and the 8 moose , elk and bear I’ve shot and how many mouths I fed over the years.  Then there were the hundreds of fish.  As a single person I don’t “entertain’ as much.  I’ve a friend who invites me to dinner and I reciprocate by taking him out to a restaurant or show.  In another scenario, a couple of prairie guys get together monthly for our dinner out at a restaurant, neither of us wanting to cook and clean up.  I’ve had folk out on the boat and have made a lot of sandwiches when friends drop in this last year but it’s been a decade since I cooked a meal for a dozen or more and I used to do that all the time.  Part of the reason I have some disposable income today is that I’m not entertaining like I did.  I give more money to charity and indeed like the charity functions that feed me at high cost so that a portion of the ticket gets channelled to the charity.
They’re all cadillac problems. Having a dog I don’t go to restaurants like I once did. We do eat at places where there’s a balcony and where he’s welcome. Muslims don’t generally like dogs and increasingly I’m seeing that anti dog movement infiltrating the world.  Canada is changing so much.  Growing up everyone here had a dog.  Every boy had a dog.  Every girl wanted a pony.  Now the robots have taken over.  Children want hazmat suits for Christmas.
There is so much to do and see in Vancouver.  I revisited Banyan Books this year and was astonished I’d been so many years since last being there. I was only in the Library a couple of times this year and once it was a place where I pretty well lived. Life can be an adventure.
I feel a bit betwixt and between. Hunting season coming to a close.  The stress of work perhaps letting up before the onslaught of Jan.  Financial concerns not nearly as troubling as just recently.  I could have a deadly disease.  World war may break out.  Aliens might invade. But right now things are copasetic.  I enjoyed Ballet BC.  I dropped off my Harley for winter hibernation. I got the Yamaha Outboard in for repair.  I was going to get the blue tooth fixed on the mazda.  It’s been wonky.  There’s a list of things to do on this boat and with my vehicles but I’ve just got to get Gilbert’s update on his rabies vaccine.  Nothing pressing. Interviewing staff this week.  A major report to do.  My new book is at the printers.  This is a sunny day.  It’s been so long since I could just sit at a computer and ramble. I normally like doing this on Commercial Avenue in an out door cafe looking at the mix of characters that pass. I thought of Jerusualem for hot and how I’d love to study Biblical Hebrew mornings like I did when I studied Medical Spanish in El Salvador. Hebrew is an amazing language. I was talking to a beautiful woman last night who spoke Arabic and told me how she could understand so many dialects of the middle East and northern Africa and what a beautiful language Arabic was.  I wish I’d more life just to study these.  I envied my friend who learned Mandarin.  I loved my friend in Russian chastising me about my lack of knowledge of ‘alphabets’.  I was annoyed by the cyrillic alphabet and she was gently bringing me to the realization that my myopic view hadn’t encompassed the vast number of sounds and symbols that occur around the world. I love Sanskrit too but would really love to know Gaelic.  Studying Hebrew I could see so much confusion in the translation to English.  The old languages lack the starkness of modern translation.
Oh well, I now think a bit of a nap is in order. Maybe 20 minutes then I’ll take Gilbert for a walk. He’s been napping this whole time.  I could go swimming. I am thinking about supper.  I really should do something. There’s so much I could do but it’s a rare sunny day in Vancouver november so a bit of a laid back approach to it seems mildly in order.
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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hibernating the Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Trev Deely has a great storage plan. I used it last year for the few months of winter.  This year they’ve even dropped their rates. I love that the experts ‘winterize’ my bike. Then in spring before I take it back I ask them to check it all over so that I am reassured of  a summer of safety.
I bought my 2009 HD Electraglide from Trev Deely when it was a year old and had very low mileage.  It’s been a great bike ever since.  Motorcycling all over BC, Washington and Oregon before the Sturges South Dakota trip last year I’ve had no complaints. It’s the greatest American freeway motorcycle ever made. I’d rented Electraglides in New England and Texas before buying myself one too.
Gilbert, my cockapoo, has grown up on this Harley.  He’s 4 and 1/2 year old and began riding on a motorcycle when he was only a puppy.  Last summer he did 5 hours on the back of my bike when we drove north to Merritt to attend the Sturges North motorcycle rally and hear Burton Cummings incredible music.  It was a sunny day so we detoured to Ashcroft and just rode round the high country before heading to the campsite and fair grounds at Merritt.
Today Gilber rode with me on our this ride of 2014 season.  Until March 1, 2015, the Harley is hibernating at Trev Deeley where the crew take good care of all the babies.
A Trev Deely fall sale was going on today.  Great deals on 2014 and 2015 Harley’s.  I loved the new Street Glide.  
Great end of the Harley season sunshine biking day.   IMG 7062IMG 7070

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ballet BC No.29

Ballet BC has again out done itself in originality.   Choreographer Jacopo Godani’s A.U.R.A (Anarchist Unit Related to Art) was minimalist futuristic and almost birdlike inhuman. Movements and forms taken on by the dancers seemed nearly impossible as they flocked together then separated in pas de deux, retreat, primitive war like stances mixed with the elegant and otherworldly.  Truly explosive. The company of dancers were spectacular.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” my ballet loving friend John said during the intermission.   The music was 48nord.
White Act, a world premiere, choreographed by Fernando Hernando Magadan with music of Schubert arr. Mahler: 1st movement, Quartet #14 in d minor of Death and the Maiden, and Urmas Sisask was such a sweet work utterly different in style from the first.  Lovely white attired female dancers on point floated across the stage  while men dressed in what might have been prison grey writhed about them reaching out for the ephemeral. Sometimes they almost came together, the white clad ladies leaving the tradition for the modern.   This contrast of traditional and modern was incredible. The set design was a beautiful black and white photo of a wood land trail. A dancer  entered the art while mist poured across the stage.  It was magical. Gilbert Small, Perter Smida, Connor Gnam, Livona Ellis,Kirsten Wicklund,  Alexis Fletcher were for me, personally especially interpretative.  But the whole company was enchanting.
An Instant with choreography by Lesley Telford and music by Michael Gordon was again, so different and catching.  Rachel Meyer and Christopher von Riedeman held my eye.  Yet again the whole company was in the sync and flow of this unusually expressive surprising collective. The music and dance was hauntingly coupled with stark poetry.
I don’t know where the time went.  Emily Molnar, Artistic Director was announcing the evening’s ballets,  telling us of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet ’s Nutcracker at  Christmas , then it seemed we were all standing as the curtain rose after the final act.  The applause was resounding as the company took bow after bow and  and shouts of bravo rang out through the Queen E.
I had been a long day at the end of a very long week of clinic.  I’d feared I’d be too tired to stay awake.  Applauding, I felt alive in a way only the most finest  art can make one feel.  I was there with four friends.  We all were beaming.  Something special had transpired.  We’d been touched by the precious and magnificent. Such is the grace of dance.
oIMG 7055utstanding and so rewarding evening.  IMG 7054IMG 7059