Saturday, June 30, 2018

Maverick Truck Camper Journal

With the new to us  white Palomino Maverick Truck camper on the white Ford F-350 Lariat edition truck feeling like angels, we headed out on the highway for the Canadian wilderness. In the city streets Trump haters and Trudeau lovers ran about in frenzied packs only to stop at intersections to bare ass and leave hot steamy dumps of human waste in protest.  Clashes occurred between cyclists and auto drivers every block.  Every Vancouver gas station had groups of protestors carrying signs   saying “I can’t drive my BMW because of the price of gas..” Along the highway rows of middle class families slouched away from the most expensive city in the world pushing their designer baby buggies carrying their bags of Jimmy Chou shoes, their children forced to walk carrying game boys and hauling behind them diamond studded Pomeranian pets.

We shut off our iPhones and turned off the Pravda CBC and listened to cacophony of auto horns in the bottleneck of Langley.  

“Darling, “ the blond haired  vixen beside me said,” You’re so courageous to drive this big truck with this big load.”

I smiled sweetly back at her, thinking of my hero, Chevy Chase. 

Gilbert, the blind old cockapoo, sat between farting.

The first challenge was filling up with gas, wide load and high. Whenever I drove under anything, no matter how high, I saw images of the camper being torn off the truck. Pulling into the crowded gas station I made such a wide turn I could hardly reach the truck with the pump hose.  The propane tanks were outdated and needed to be replaced.

At the O’Connor RV Parts store, where the people were finest, a gorgeous young woman named Tracy helped me man handle the old mattress out of the truck and put the new mattress in.  When did I change I wondered from admiring a beautiful woman for her obvious sex appeal to liking her strong back and strong legs as she helped the old guy get the new mattress into the camper. 

At Hope we bought groceries. July Long Weekend runs were happening in the potato chip and wiener lanes and fights broke out over the last pop corn packages.  I felt blessed to get a bag of BC Ambrosia apples, steaks, and BC potatoes.

We drove on listening to inspirational IDAA tapes on the radio.  Local radio refused to carry irrelevant political maulings and instead announced pig prices and played praise music.  

Traffic thinned as we passed lovely green pine and spruce, a large golden doe nibbling by the side of road, bald headed eagles circling above in the grey skies threatening rain.   Princeton, finally, Home Hardware still open.  I bought a tiny RV barbecue with a ‘little assembly required’.  A pocket lathe for making metal bits came in the package.  I realized I’d forgotten the charger for the electric bicycle which was a nuisance to load and unload in the camper.  Electric bike chargers are not a common item outside of the city.

We headed north on a winding secondary road, fearing we’d fall over on every tight turn.  I stopped a half dozen times to check the turnbuckles tie downs.  I was vaguely headed up to a logging road Luke, Sunny, Tom and I had hunted one year. I had my Winchester 300 win mag with the thought I might shoot a suicidal bear to share with Naomi nursing the new baby Faith. Her bear hunting husband had been unable to hunt this spring distracted by the birth of his child and instant repurposing as nappy changer.  I even had a fly rod for fishing.


Chain Lakes Wilderness Recreational site appeared.  A terrific site host informed us there really was a site available though all the lake sites were taken. I love these sites with hosts living there.  Guarantees  the rowdies with loud music not wanting to be there.  Dogs and kids and families. RV’s and tents.  

I backed into a place beside a picnic table.  Gilbert and Laura had bailed.  They stood by looking terrified.  No  property damage ensued. . Only later would we learn that when the camper is on the box the jacks can accommodate a tilt to the back but not a tilt forward. I was tilted forward.  To sleep we had extra pillows . Being a sailor I’m used to walking on a tilt. 

The process of getting systems going began. The slide worked.  I disconnected the power cable to the truck so the house battery wouldn’t drain the car battery.  Laura walked Gilbert about so he could sniff and mark his new territory.  I got the propane working. The stove works. The water pumps work.  The refrigerator works on electricity but doesn’t appear to work on propane.  

The lovely wife of the host came by and brought wood so I could made a huge fire.  Laura made the bed up.  Apparently I had brought a duvet cover thinking it was a fitted sheet.  Otherwise we had a bed worthy of a king and queen.  Gilbert loves his little bed but demanded we let him join us at 6 am.  He can only get on the bed being lifted up. To shut off his begging grunts I lifted the little squirmy alarm clock up.  He promptly lay down on Laura’s face to show his love.  Now we were all awake he cuddled and went back to sleep. 

Before bed I’d barbecued half the hotdogs.  

‘Laura these silly hot dogs are individually wrapped.”
“ Yes, we had those as a kid. They must be coming back. Did you take the wrapping off before you put them on the barbecue.?”
“No,” I replied. Following up with, “Could you give me the rest of the hotdogs.”
The plastic adulterated hotdogs went into the fire and the individually unwrapped dogs went on the barbecue.

Laura had brought Cobs buns but we’d not got mustard but had remembered butter.  We ate at the sweet little table on the slide.

I was so tired after that I climbed into bed and slept most of the night waking chilled as I’d forgotten the duvet. I snuggled against Laura missing her earlier menopausal hot flashes but getting enough warmth to go back to sleep.

In the morning I got the heater working to take the chill off. The old house battery was dying faster, dim lights paling more. I couldn’t run the water pump and the heater at the same time.  But later when I heard others running generators,   I started up Honda 2000 generator and got more systems going.   Amazing what can be done with pliers, screw driver and duck tape. 


 Later I got the  hot water heater working.  I made a cup of espresso coffee with cream and honey and was in heaven.  It had rained in the morning.  I walked Gilbert in the fresh air.  The lake was serene.    I still can’t get the strut down because I don’t have a ratchet.  

I’m on my second cup off coffee. There’s no wifi or cell service. The world could have burned up with global warning and I would have missed the talking head discussion of it and the Facebook arguments about it. A nuclear bomb could have exploded in Guam or Israel and I’d not know.  I can feel myself twitching with withdrawal.  I don’t know if Justin Trudeau has given another terrorist 10 million dollars or removed any more Canadian freedoms.  Trump could have finally given in to the constant barrage of hate and shaved his head.  I am reduced to watching one silly dog and will have to survive without funny animal videos.  

We really are roughing it.  I am keeping a record of our terrible deprivation as people in Vancouver will never believe we survived this.  I can see movie producers calling me up next week if we survive and the world still exists. We really are thinking of a run back to Princeton for a new battery and a duvet and possible the ratchet to get the strut to come down.  I’m considering a book deal,  

Laura has dared to shower. I’m hoping a sudden change in water temperature will have her running naked out of the camper.  I can’t decide what’s causing the disorientation more, the lack of wifi or lack of visit to a mall in umpteen hours.  We could get a fix in Princeton. Then head out again to try another dose of supreme roughing it.  We are stowed and could be ready to go in minutes if we just have the courage.  

I’m going to have a shower after Laura.  I’m sure I touched some dirt when I was making the fire last night..  I feel grungy depending on the natural oils of my body.  A little corrosive soap will no doubt help with my decision making. I’ve no cologne with me.  I smell of  Musk Oil ,the very best solution to keeping the tiny flying vampires outside off.   





          
    



  

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Scottish Play, Bard on the Beach

MacBeth became known as the ‘scottish play’ because of a superstition saying it’s name would bring supernatural disruptions to the play.  Seeing  the performance by the three witches in tonight’s show, I’m not taking any chances in the title.

 Laura and I loved the play thoroughly. With the royal Bard on the Beach tents  in Vanier Park on Granville Island and sailboats going by in the False Creek back ground beyond the stage  I felt I was seeing Shakespeare as it would have been first seen hundreds of years ago.

Director Chris Abraham did a marvellous job of directing with great timing as  cast flowed in from aisles and tunnels, and voices rang out from around the theatre.  So much action with sword fights and kettle drums, I felt a child again, simply enthralled in the amazing drama.  

I really must repeat I loved the witches, Emma Slipp, Kate Besworth, and Harveen Sandhu. ‘ Eye of neut and toe of frog’ the famous incantation of the witches brew.  Ah to  hear again the  words, ‘Double, double, toil and trouble.’  I was in England. I was reading MacBeth by pen light in a tent as a boy.

With other Shakespeare plays I’m sometimes struggling with the language. Not with MacBeath.  So many lines are apart of our history.  It was good to see my church friend Rod in the antitheatre with his teacher friend. Rod had played in MacBeath as a boy and his friend had taught MacBeth many times. The two were finishing each other’s refrains thoroughly enjoying themselves.  

 Lady MacBeth, played so powerfully by Moya O Connell, sent shivers up my spine when she cried, ‘Out Out Damn Spot!’  I really did enjoy the discussion of psychiatry by the doctor, played by Scott Bellis,  and MacBeth.  

 I loved best Andrew Wheeler as MacDuff.  Of Course Ben Carlson as MacBeth was incredible. What a voice. What delivery. What a play. All the actors and actresses are to be congratulated and were with a standing ovation and lingering applause.  

The sword fights were best too, after the witches.  They really did a fine job. It’s not often one sees a great staged sword fight today but this was it.  I was thankful to have been there.  

Bard on the Beach delivers. Shakespeare performances continue June to September , 2018. 


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

21 years

I remember looking forward to drinking legally. 21 years of age was being an adult. Celebrating being an adult was going into a pub and ordering a beer without fear.  Drinking legally was being a man.

Then the provinces of Canada between 1968 to 1970  dropped the legal age of drinking from 21 to 18 or 19.  I felt short changed. I had sneaked into bars mostly to hear bands and be with older friends in bands but somehow when the age changed it meant that the ‘rite of passage’ somehow changed with it.  I developed a resentment.  One day I was drinking illegally, next legally, but what I’d missed is that great 21 year old party bash.  Life wasn’t fair. 

Now I’m 21 again.  Old enough to drink in my own era of thought. Ironically 21 now is the number of years I’ve not drunk. I could drink today too but I choose not to. Today like most days I pray I won’t. 

It’s a long fast.  It’s a sacrifice of the first born most desired pleasure for greater joy here and in heaven. It’s not drinking really I feel this way about but smoking. I miss smoking.  I felt a man when I had a pipe or cigar in my mouth more than when I had a pint. Indeed I quit drinking as much to quit smoking as for any reason. I was addicted to smoking and had quit three times each time starting again while I was drinking.  In retrospect I saw that most of the really rotten things I had in my life were somehow related to the drinking and the way it effected my judgment at the time or for days after. 

The last time I quit both. Smoking was bad and even evil in my mind by then, drinking not so bad.  Man was never meant to inhale smoke of any kind. We were not born with chimneys. I kidded myself the menthol was good for me. I even thought pot was good, because it was a ‘herb’ but while I could have eaten cookies or made tea I instead smoked that too. I even hot knifed hash in the east.  Hash was an east coast thing. Marijuana was a west coast thing.  Crystal meth used to be a European thing while Cocaine and crack dominated the west. Now it’s all fentanyl. I consider myself lucky I got out before cocaine and crack and crystal meth and heroin and fentanyl became prevalent. 

I think with some humility and gratitude that if I’d not quit smoking I might well have smoked crack.  Today I’d smoke fentanyl.  So many dead There but for the grace of God go I. 

I don’t miss the feeling of swimming vision, spinning rooms, the ‘not caring’ how people perceived me as I was a happy fool drinking. I don’t miss brushing people off.  Smoking I was interested in the inhaling and exhaling like a pranayama guru would be with air. But I didn’t appreciate the air and I didn’t appreciate the water. I liked them corrupted then.  Today I’m thankful for breathing. I breathe some days like it’s the best thing in the world. I’ll catch myself not breathing or shallow breathing and take a great big breath smelling the scents and fragrances and thanking my lucky stars to be alive. I love clear spring water alone, love feeling the coolness in my throat, enlivened rather than depressed.  Alcohol is a depressant. 

We say luck is God acting anonymously. I really feel lucky or rather loved by God, just to be alive when I consider where it could have gone.  We’re to celebrate God with ‘praise and thanksgiving’.  We become closer to God with fasting.  Sacrifices were not of the throw away kind but of the best. Hence the story of the man who was going to give up his child and was told not to. By contrast to the Biblical tradition other religions of a more barbaric age were sacrificing their children for prosperity.  There’s a difference between giving old used socks or new socks as a gift to someone. I get that.  

A pastoral friend commented on my life and wondered if giving up alcohol would be good for him. I had to tell him that for him he’d have to give up money. I could tell he didn’t like smoking or drinking but he really got excited around money.  Getting sober didn’t mean I gained a whole lot of subtlety or sensitivity.  I felt for a moment after my reply my friend was going to hit me.  

There’s an idea of ‘attachment’.   What attaches us to the physical or lower plane versus the world of thought, love and soul. Fasting reminds me that I’m a ‘spiritual being living in a material body’ rather than a ‘material being in a spiritual body’.

It was also clear to me that while smoking was physically unhealthy alcohol and those I drank alcohol with were no longer  people who helped me be the best person I could be. That’s what true friends are. Increasingly my drinking buddies were just that.  It had begun as fun.  We were living a great life when we were teenagers and couldn’t drink.  I didn’t smoke as a teen either.  I loved the athletics and scholarship, the music, and fellowship. The coffeehouses really were a blast. I still love coffee. But alcohol creeped into the scene.  At first it was a little something that was added to the already great event, the champagne with the celebration. Then I remember not wanting to stay at a dance because there was no booze. I loved to dance but finally dancing without alcohol didn’t seem as much fun.  Then everything I was doing socially and recreationally was associated with alcohol.  I even stopped to get a pack of cigarettes for after sex.  

I wasn’t alone.  It was the society I lived in.  Teaching at the university I was just one of the gang. I didn’t drink more or less than the next guy yet I had this whole moral thing going on. I was meditating and praying. I’d been attending church since I was a kid. I really believed in this idea of choosing between walking upright or slithering on the ground.  Sometimes drinking I really was legless.  Smoking is simply a death cult thing. It’s not life giving or life enhancing but self destructive, slow suicide. 

It seemed to that so many of my friends who had children changed. I didn’t drink more than a couple of drinks on call. I was on call 24/7 for a decade in a row. So I was what was called the ‘binge drinker’.  I’d get drunk on holidays. Studying I’d hardly drink until after the exams when I’d get thoroughly gassed.  People would comment on my dancing on tables but I danced on tables more sober than I ever did drunk. I was a dancer.  I had drunken friends who never danced, academic Ichabod Cranes, who’d try to dance on tables when we were drinking, monkey see, monkey do but they’d fall and I wouldn’t. 

 Often I thought that I was giving other people a ‘handicap’ by being a little drunk and stoned.  Not blatto but definitely one kite to the wind.  I’d think then that you probably shouldn’t drink, being stupid, or whatever, but you should thank me for drinking and giving you a chance to appear intelligent or athletic.  Only when I was drinking would I perceive myself in ‘competition’ without others. Sober I saw myself in competition with myself and my last achievement but drinking I’d compare.  There’s a special kind of egotism with drinking. I identified. I really was an egomaniac with an inferiority complex when I drank.  Sober, no.  When I smoked dope I just sat in the corner and stared a lot.  I liked music more stoned.  I was a slow lover and even fell asleep and had a partner fall asleep. Not quite like the movies. 

I took up knotting to have something to do with my hands. Smoking a pipe had to be a whole lot about the rituals and stopped me from biting my fingernails. I bite my fingernails again now.  But smoking caused me to wheeze. I also lost some of my sense of smell and taste. It’s always amuses me to hear smokers and drinkers going on about palate and taste, like blind men talking about the movie. Drinking does a lot of tissue damage, of the liver for sure, but also the heart and eventually is a serious cause of dementia. 

Quitting smoking the first thing I noticed was all the smells. I coughed up a bunch of lung for weeks then I breathed like a child again. St. Francis called his body, Brother Ass or Brother Donkey. Well when you give up smoking your body is happy.  I remember the first time I booked a motel room and didn’t ask for not smoking and was literally assailed by the stink and reek of old tobacco.  I smelt like that.  I smell the old men and women who are homeless but have enough money to smoke. They smell like ash trays. But just like me, they don’t know it. And I was wearing a Brook Brothers suit and fine cotton shirt, reeking.

Drinking I was losing a lot of time.  One or two glasses of wine are fine but when I got to three or four I wasn’t really at the top of my game. It’s why we don’t want pilots to be drunk and why Frank Zappa didn’t want people drunk or stoned in the studio. It’s non productive time.  I found when I stopped drinking I suddenly had a whole bunch more creative and useful time on my hands. I also found that I really didn’t like hanging around the conversations that went on when people got to drinking. I hate to use the word boring but that pretty much sums up what I thought pretty soon after.  Suddenly I was taking courses at the university after work, working out and writing seriously again.  I was reading a whole level higher of books. I always read but once again I was reading scientific texts, ancient tombs and studying other languages to appreciate translations.  

It all could have gone the other way.  There but for the grace of God go I.  These years have been good, exciting, interesting, useful, good friendship, wonderful dogs and memorable. I don’t forget like I used to.  My memories have a crispness and colour where as I remember them diluted and blurry.  No wonder we joke if you remember the 60’s and 70’s you probably weren’t there.

I’m here today. 21 years later. I love the learning and the friends.  It’s been a journey. I don’t think I’ll drink or smoke today. It’s hard not to some days with the government pushers working overtime.  I liked when a guy asked what is the difference between the government and any other gang. The answer was they’re not into selling children for sex, yet. Small mercies. They’re head over heels into pushing cigarettes, alcohol, gambling and now drugs.  

I was vulnerable as a young man.  My family was good, really good. Hard working,  law abiding, church going. They didn’t drink or smoke. Nothing they taught me was anything but good when I look back. Wise and fun.  I just had this anti authority thing going.  I didn’t know it then but I was afraid.  Everyone said the world was going to end.  Nuclear war, Silent Spring, Ozone Layer, Millenial Computer Crash.  It was just constant and if the world was going to end then ‘shananananana live for today.’  Be happy.  Get drunk. Party.  Carpe Diem. That bar at the end of the universe. 

But the world didn’t end.  And all around people were making families and building lives and those that drank and did drugs weren’t. I was fortunate. I got off the downhill spiral real early.  I remember being called a ‘high bottom’ and thinking these guy inviting me to join them were gay.  But by then I’d figured out that the elevator only went up or down , live or die, and I had to get off the down elevator. My partner had got hooked on coke and wouldn’t get help.  I thought I just loved the wild ones and bad ones but later learned that I had come to prefer ‘lower companions’ because it was a cheap way of making myself look good.  I’d moved away from the stirling friends, those I admired most. I’d been blessed to have the finest associations but one day I looked up and was surrounded by people who might be academics but they were drinking academics, they might be sailors, but they were the drinking sailors.  Suddenly the commonality of association was no longer the ‘best’, a true ‘meritocracy’ but rather a ‘tribal’ association.  Today I like to think my associations are the best and some even smoke or drink but no more than moderately or occasionally.  

I stil have some friends from that era too.  I like the ones who got off the merry go round.  I regained friends from before and I’ve made such very good friends since.  I’ll forever miss George and his poetry and stories.  We often laughed going to churches, dinners and meetings together, how we’d never have met if we’d not gone to the ‘bad boys’ club.  

I really am blessed.  So much is perception.  I’ve been able to study the mind and help people whose lives were in knots and who were on the verge of killing themselves. I think of ‘straightening paths’.  I’ve been able to reduce suffering and comfort people and restore people to work and family with the help of my training, my teachers and God.  It’s been a wonderful journey. I’m situated where I’ve been able to to help hundreds of people get out of the hole they dug from themselves and go off to find a new direction.  I think a lot about my parents and family and feel that in their eyes and the eyes of friends and even my dog and the cat I’m okay today.  I didn’t feel good about myself back then even though to the external world I was riding high, outwardly a true success story. Inwardly it was a different story.  

I never imagined I’d be here this long. I didn’t think I’d live this long. I’m thankful I am.  Now I could have a drink especially at my age, but really I don’t think I will. It’s like the apple in the garden. I’ve tasted it.  But I don’t want any more.  I can have anything else in the garden, even the apple but not both.  I could have a smoke too but why.  It does no good.   Truthfully, now,  I just want to walk with my Father.    

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Palomino Maverick 1000SL Truck Camper 2005

Laura doesn’t like bears.  Last year I assured her there were no bears near Pemberton where I’d hunted for years.  Unfortunately a large billboard size sign announced that we were entering the Grizzly Bear Mating Area.
“You said there’d be no bears,” she said.
“Not in the camp. There will be lots of hunters around and you’ll be safe."
Well, given the forest fires that year and the problems with media reporting the Grizzly attacks, there was only one other hunting party in the camp which normally would be full. I was glad for the fire and the Winchester 300 win mag rifle I’d brought as I set up the camp.  We were safe in the grand tent in the box of the truck. I slept with the rifle. I had the axe and knife handy but despite that I didn’t sleep all that well.   Laura didn’t sleep a wink.  Even Gilbert was restless.
At dawn I’d made coffee, bacon and eggs then  I’d left Laura at the camp. She told me she’d made a lot of noise until she gave up and sat waiting for me in the truck. I’d left Gilbert with her and she was glad for his company and her 22 rifle when she went to the nearby outhouse in the day.  Apparently he patrolled the front of the outhouse and ran around it several times to ensure she was safe. .
I was up on the mountain in my Honda Pioneer 500 side by side ATV not seeing anything. There simply was no deer and no deer sign in this area that was normally full of game. The fires had obviously caused a shift in the herds. I felt a little concerned for Laura and came back early finding her sitting in the truck.  I also saw  the one camp heading out when I was coming in.  Laura was more than elated when I suggested we leave early.
Now this year I wanted to go camping in the summer. Just to get some fresh water swimming and a little fishing in. I really like being out in the wilderness and love camping myself but don’t want bears around except in hunting season when I’m open for guests. Laura wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about camping.  She’d loved when I had the little RV trailer and we’d gone up to Boston Bar weekends.  Even when a bear circled the trailer one day while we were out in the woods north of Merrit she’d not been concerned. The illusion of walls made her feel safe.
She’s been along on cold wet motorcycle camping trips. She’s been at sea when the SV GIRI has faced a bit of a blow. She’s had a tent cave in from snow when I was out hunting leaving her shivering in her sleeping bag in the little bit of tent left standing till I got back.  By most descriptions she’s been a real trooper. By urban feminine comparison she’s Gal Gadot,  Wonder Woman.
So I thought about getting a truck camper with her in mind.  Not that I personally don’t increasingly like luxury and comfort though I’d never admit to it.  We’ve stayed in a lot of motels and resorts but frankly I prefer being in the woods.  When I’d hunted with old Bill Mewhort we’d had his truck camper and hauled back moose in the trailer he pulled behind.  I’d loved having the shower and heat north of Prince George when 4 of us guys hunted moose one fall, shooting countless grouse though no moose. I’d seen the lynx that trip.  The forest in British Columbia is serene.  I love the little lakes and ducks and loons.  Mostly I like that Gilbert doesn’t need to be on leash like he does in Provincial camps.
Also It's not like I've not paid my dues. I've stayed in arctic igloos and quince I've made myself, camped in the Sierras without a tent, back packing tenting, canoe tennis, motorcycle camping, pup tents in all weather, snow camping and enough rain and mosquitoes to transfuse a small village. We camped as a family and I watched my father and mother move out of tenting into RV's loving their Slumber Queen motorhome before falling in love with Ocean Cruise Ships.
I have a 39 foot 5th wheel but the fact is it’s meant for being lived in and I’ve not even got the endorsement yet to pull it legally. It’s beyond my capabilities as yet and I’ve arranged driver’s training so I can move it from RV park to RV park on well paved highways.
I didn’t need a new camper just something second hand and cheap enough I could justify getting  it for the limited use for it I’d have. I also needed a place to live in for a couple of weeks while I was facing home repairs later. With a dog and a cat it seemed the solution. When I’d had my boat here I’d often stayed on it.
I’d begun researching the ads a month ago learning what was available.   Laura and I’d driven around to the major dealers in the valley to see what was offered. Frazerview in Abbotsford had the very best selection.  They make their own there.  The salesman had a couple of second hand units 2015 and 2016 that were just perfect and half the price of the new ones. Jordan Buchan had showed us a really skookum second hand one at Traveland RV where I’d bought my second RV and loved the sales and service. Jordan shared a whole lot of good information about buying a camper. All the salesman really were great but I just didn’t want to spend the amount of money.  The lowest priced second hand campers the dealers had was $17,000 while new unites went as high as $80,000.
 When I was younger I might well have purchased something $5-10 thousand dollars more than I thought I could afford. My brother always a wise and cautious buyer often criticized me in a fun way but I don’t like shopping and time off from work is time I want to be using to recoup.  Learning to live more in the day I actually can like the exploration and waiting. Laura’s a good bud for these trips, happy to come along with Gilbert and good for advice.
I’m glad I waited.  Chilliwack has a lot of RV’s so this weekend we drove out with an eye to just looking about and if I didn’t see something better I’d buy one from Frazerview in Abbotsford.
We hardly saw Leica Auto Sales Ltd. 44735 Yale Road 604-537 5804.A small lot. We’d been going to look at O’Connor.  And there it was. We passed the collection of RV’s and had to turn around and go back.
 A 2005 Palimino Marverick 1000Sl. It was the only camper on the lot.   It had had one owner and no leaks the seller insisted and everything worked. There was obvious wear and tear which occurs with second hand but the price was affordable. I’d just not put more money into RRSP’s until fall and winter and maybe my accountant who encourages such responsible behaviour wouldn’t notice. I love Anil’s advice but shiny things are shiny things.
Having looked at dozens and compared them, this was exactly what I was looking for. I loved the light coloured wood, the shower and toilet in a separate room, the heater, insulation. Propane 5 cu Refrigerator, 3 burner stove, and 6 gal hot water , 31 gallons fresh water, 7 gallons grey water and 7 gallons black water. .  1600 BTU furnace.  When hooked up to electricity it has air conditioning. It doesn’t have a generator but there’s always the truck and I do have a 2000 Honda generator which will do the trick.  The bed is queen sized and the table folds down to a bed too. I really like the table and see it with the big window as a lovely place to sit write, and drink coffee, Travels with Gilbert style.  The electric jacks will make life a lot easier.
I learned that I needed brackets  for the trailer to hook onto under the truck. The 2643 lb weight goes a long way to keeping it from flying off but the tie downs do the rest.  John Hassan very personable and matter of fact,  Leica Auto Sales Ltd owner sent us down to Trademaster a short ways down Yale Road.  Good guys, they looked over my truck and booked in the installation giving John time to get the RV ready to haul.  Bank of Nova Scotia in Sardis was open and I got a money draft from savings.  Unlike a trailer you tow, it didn’t need any more licensing from ICBC, the truck being licensed and the Camper just cargo.  I called Thaun Vo at Rand and McNally. He’s an amazing guy for following up on insurance.  He’s going to insure it for theft and fire etc.
I called Eric at Star Fleet who is the very best guy for maintenance and repairs for RV’s, someone I’ve known and called for rescue over the last 8 years. Despite it being the long weekend he’s going to drop by and check it out to make sure there’s no surprises for Laura and I when we get away for 5 days next week.  Eric has been a lifesaver since I got my first RV.  I put my coffee pot in the grey sink it wasn’t a metal sink and the pot melted right through.   I remember standing there dumbfounded, finding Eric’s calling, and telling him the news.  “You’re not the first one,” he said. “I can come around tomorrow.’.  I appreciate his calm.
Laura and I driving home dropped by at Chilliwack RV Storage on Lumsden Road. The owner is a great man whose guarded my RV’s over the years, his locked fenced compound having dogs in addition to people living there.  When I first brought my first trailer to store I knew nothing and he was so kind to the  green horn.  Now he welcomed me back with a big smile.
So Laura is really excited about camping again. I’m so glad. I really want to just drive along a logging road main in the interior till I see a little lake and pull off and park. If there’s a picnic table and it’s a wilderness site so much the better. But now it’s like the  old days when I had the Vanagon.  I can just pull over and if need be take a nap. If I want wifi and cable I can pull into an RV camp. Admittedly it’s a bit of luxury for camping, fishing and hunting but really, I don’t enjoy lying on the cold ground. My back and knees don’t like it. But I’ll still be out in the wilderness enjoying my queen size 60 x 80 bed and getting up to make coffee in the warm out of the rain without mosquitoes.  Laura’s going to like the bathroom, no doubt about that.  I think that last night walking in the dark in grizzly bear territory with the little flash light despite brave little Gilbert guarding the outhouse door almost did her in.










Blind Biker Dog Gilbert

Gilbert has ridden on my Harley since he was a baby. Last year he developed hereditary glaucome which destroyed his optic nerves and required his eyes to be surgically excised. It was a tough year but he recovered running free on the Oregon beaches and has been his old self.  He still brings balls and chases them but it’s a bit slower when it comes to finding them.  George the cat became his BFF after he lost his eyesight. They chase each other and steal each other’s food and sniff each other’s butt, all the good things cat and dog friends do together. That’s been a real plus because George was stand offing before.

I was a little concerned about taking Gilbert out on the motorcycle with me but needn’t have been. One evening I took him for a short spin and he didn’t seem to mind. Now he’s ridden with me as he used to on my commutes to and from the clinics I work at. He’s really frisky after the ride which shows me he likes it again.  When I go out to the motorcycle just like before he comes up  and crowds my leg. He used to jump onto the seat but his back doesn’t allow that and blind he’s as likely to crash into the side of the motorcycle as to land up on the seat.  When I’m riding and look back his ears are flying out behind him and his nose is taking in all the glorious smells.  It’s just so good.

I think he tells Dave’s biker dog Emory that he’s back to riding and the two are happy about that.  Max, Mack’s dog next door has taken to having conversations.  I’ve noticed Gilbert barking over at Max and Max responding.  Mack said one time he observed this exchange and it was like Gilbert said, ‘Did you hear that, Max? ‘
‘Yea what was it?’
‘I don’t know. Could it be the new neighbour car door?’
‘Yea, I think that was it.’  

Max and Gilbert have got along better since Gilbert’s become blind. Mostly the other dogs are really supportive and caring. 

Of course when Gilbert’s high up on the motorcycle going 100 km an hour with the Harley pipes blaring, he’s still top dog, eyes or no eyes.  













Saturday, June 23, 2018

Gratitude, Psychiatry and World Politics

Well I’ve made it to another weekend. I haven’t been fired by the extreme left wing government. I haven’t been arrested (yet) on any of the new anti speech legislation.  I’ve not been notified by the authorities that some one has complained ‘anonymously’ about me.  I’ve survived the zero tolerance that’s now in place for being masculine. I’ve read the article in the news this week about why it’s okay to hate men.  I’ve tried desperately to be as boyish and girlish as I can be and it seems to be working.  I’m staying under the radar. In Canada the tall poppy gets cut.  The left makes themselves look taller by cutting off the heads of the right.

I’ve not been raped in Canada ( known the world over as an infamous world rape centre.).  I’ve not been shot at.   I’ve not been bombed. I’ve not been attacked on the street by rabid crowds of Trump Haters who lump anyone whose not a card carrying Pravda spouting Marxist as a Trump fan.  I’ve continued to say I’m a Christian and only been persecuted in covert ways.  It’s still not quite acceptable to persecute Christians in Canada overtly. The Jews are taking a beating there. Since Trudeau came to reign it has been open season on Christians and Jews but I’ve got through the week without being attacked or arrested. I think it helps that I’m not a very good Christian.  I hear that the finest Christians and Jews and even Sikhs and Buddhists I know are feeling the heat much more than me. It’s always indirect though. The enemies of freedom don’t feel strong enough to do more than send the Antifida Nazi Bullies to shut down speakers.

I watched the Munk Debate on Political Correctness and Steven Fry gave me hope.  I enjoyed Red Sparrow and the exposure of the thinking in the State spy schools.  It’s a way of believing. It’s all about ends and means and power. But I’ve not been assasinated or attacked in the newspapers by the big money Bud Inc Goebbels with their lies and marketting. Big tobacco and the Liberal money are so behind the marijuana legislation passing in Canada, money, money and more money.  If I was still smoking marijuana I’d see freedom to grow my own plants as an advance and not notice that freedom of speech has been stepped back decades.  Tit for tat.  Politics.  It’s somehow not affected me directly. It’s a bit removed.

The tax grab carbon tax and all the lies and corruption associated with that has affected me. I am paying double to drive and commute.  I can’t afford to live in Vancouver, the money laundering real estate and casino capital of the world.  I increasingly question whether it’s worth the commute.  It certainly wouldn’t be if I had to drive my truck. But this week I’ve been riding my motorcycle and as dangerous as that is in Vancouver where so many bad drivers reside it’s been really enjoyable and cheap.  So I’m thankful that these things in general have not been in my face.

I’ve watched the Lindsay Shepherd tapes and am so glad that these back room sociopathic administrators are being exposed. I’ve been involved in several of the those kangaroo court quasi legal affairs with exactly the same personality and lines right out of the same ‘playbook’.  It probably had something to do with the nightmares I had several times this week.  Being interrogated in a room with swaggering men and women intent on silencing opposition to their rule and gaining more power for their aberrant ideological position.  It’s been terrible watching the palace revolt and going along with it because I felt so alone.  

Yet here is my heroine Lindsay Shepherd suing Wilfred Laurier University for it’s nepotism.  It took me back to my correcting this administrator, pointing out their error, quoting and referencing the true facts only to be told “I don’t care what the facts are . This is the way it’s going to be and I don’t care what you think. Either you do as you’re told or you’re out.”  By then I’d learned to tow the line, not
question, do as I was told, collect my pay cheque and thank God I wasn’t the other guy who was getting shook down and robbed.  At times like this I’m back on the playground surrounded by the tough boys and their girlfriends having the boots put to me and getting knifed knowing all I can do is



be defensive protect my head and hope the abuse is over soon. Because if I fight back the whole legion comes forward. I’ve stopped the killing and negligence so many times but it’s just ended in pay back.  But there’s  Lindsay Shepherd standing up to these low brow knuckle dragging thugs.  It gives me hope. I am so thankful for seeing that this week.

I was thankful too for the Christian baker going free but saddened that Trinity Western College couldn’t graduate law students because the aetheist hegemony in the Canadian law society has yet again dominated the administration.  I can’t wait till the pendulum swings back to the middle and the extreme left wing Supreme Court of Canada gets a compass.  CBC news propaganda persisted so I was happy that I resisted the fried foods of journalism and listened to audio tapes this week instead.  Campbell’s series on Neurology was terrific.  I liked best the interview with the writer of Neurology for Dummies.  My gay neurologist southern friend did a great job of an addiction medicine series that I so enjoyed. His humor was infectious.  

It’s so easy to get into tunnel vision and miss the really good in the world. I loved the blossoms and taking pictures of the first black berries of the year. I loved walking with Gilbert along the river and seeing the glorious green foliage.  The winter is over and spring and summer are on us. The sunshine and heat have been so life giving. I ve enjoyed being outside. More walks for Gilbert.  Motorcycling and cycling.  It’s really wonderful to be in the green of Burnaby. I love the green of Burnaby.  It’s just that I can get in my head and miss what’s around me. I remember my sponsor Scotty telling me 20 years ago that his sponsor told him to get a wildflower book and pay attention to the surroundings. I did then and I’ve done it again.  I’ve got the app, Plant Snap and am so enjoying getting an idea of the names of the wonderful inhabitants of forest and garden. 

I think maybe the grief is lifting.  Losing my brother, my best friend and another really good friend and Gilbert losing his eyes was all so sad and tragic. I hate that any weakness brings out the attack in the hostile toxic workplace. I’ve only shown weakness a few times in my life and each time the authorities have played their ‘we’re only helping, we’re not the enemy smiling attack’. Any imperfection and you’re struck down while they’re utterly grandiose and incompetent and only
survive by being above the law that the rest of us play by.  It’s equally true that I’ve not been focussed because my hearts been broken again. When my mother died it was the same.  Get back to work and don’t pause , 2 weeks for grief and any longer and we’re kick you out. Bean counter Stalin’s . I see it done routinely in my work and do everything I can to protect the grieving. 


I’m thankful for the week I trained with Elizabeth Kubla Ross.  I didn’t know the society was so cruel then when she spoke of advocacy but I know it first hand now.  I’ve been blessed to be there helping so many parents who have lost their children and their childless bosses have been incorrigible.  I’m thankful I still have empathy. I found myself again wishing I had more psychopathic traits to deal with the authorities but I know that to be like that you have to see the world in a unidimensional way. I’m thankful for Piaget and his teachings of development and the capacity for abstraction. There’s a capacity for ‘empathy’ which is a developmental process.  The minds that jack step and fill little

boxes and do exactly as they’re told suffer the banality that was Neuremburg. 
I don’t have that ‘missing bit’.  I do judge too much and have a false idealization of authority as a Canadian. My immigrant doctor friends laugh at me because they say coming from the corrupt
countries they came from they don’t expect the management to be anything but corrupt so are more often impressed than I am who expect the beurocrats and leaders to just do their jobs without all the favouritism and nepotism and influence peddling.

I’m grateful that I know these great docs who give me perspective. I’m really blessed to be in Canad and must resist the old man thinking of ‘the way it was.’  I’ve lived with more ‘acceptance’ this week, with reality, living ‘life on life’s terms’.  I was at more meetings too. I was honoured to be asked to give a friend a cake.  It was a wonderful return to a place where I had so many years of friends and saw some of them again this night.

I am blessed to have Laura as a friend.  It’s sad there are so many lonely people, so many alienated, frightened souls, all the Elinor Rigbys of all the  genders. It’s fun to have friends’ like Kevin and Anna and the God Kids and to go to church and join wit  the other hopeful positive members of society. 

I tried to tell a ground burrowing person an air and sea story. I suspect it’s like the Air Force guys and Navy guys experience talking to the mud jumpers in the Army. I was telling them about a famous psychiatrist, now dead, one of my earliest mentors, author of dozens of books, world renowned. He had been praying at funerals for the dead to resurrect.  It’s not something he broadcast.  I heard about it from a world renowned minister and another psychiatrist.  The minister was worried for the great man’s ‘reputation’ whereas the other psychiatrist, a close friend had told me he’d begun doing the same. The latter said it helped keep him humble. Neither he or the great man had resurrected anyone. He believed however that Jesus  could resurrect a person and said that we could do what he did if we believed.

We’d all seen unexplainable miracles in our practices and we knew the great man’s idea about mind over matter and spirit over mind. He believed that the world was a collective idea, like Dr. Owen Barfield, one of the Inklings in Oxford and Dr. Carl Jung’s “Collective Unconscious’.   Like Dr. Eben Alexander, the Harvard Neurosurgeon, son of a Neurosurgeon and father of a Neurosurgeon, explained in “Proof of Heaven’ he believed that the “person idea’ , the ‘soul ‘ as it were ,continued and that perhaps it was possible to communicate with this ‘person’ despite their death.  Lazarus was by far just one of thousands of cases and Dr. Moody another psychiatrist had taken the time to study
the Near Death Experiences. 

 I was trying to explain ‘gently’ this idea in terms of the ‘information packet’ and the computer,servers , nodes and the internet. I’ve always been interested in fractals and communication but I could tell I was ‘upsetting’ this person.  Like a lot of people even the word ‘death’ upsets them It was obvious she wasn’t a psychiatrist and hadn’t read the classic text “Denial of Death’ which so informs the work of a psychiatrists communication like the other classic “the Discovery of the Unconscious’ or even “Man’s Search for Meaning.”  
She thought the ‘great man’ was ‘crazy’ and said ‘he’s wrong’. And I knew she was a ‘judgemental’
on the Meyers Briggs scale, that this was her character and that the ‘great man’ by contrast was the
opposite, a “Potential” , truly open minded sort.  I was ‘both’ and so often wished for that closed mindedness that couldn’t see the ‘possibility ‘ in people. In my work in psychotherapy I have ‘believed’ in my patients. I’ve seen the IQ increase 10 and 20 points in therapy and I’ve watched the 
become rich and the psychosomatic heal. Over and over again I see people overcome addictions and it’s always a joy to be part of this process.  If anything I know to my very bones the possibilities of people and have been so glad to see the work on ‘resilience’ catch up with our clinical observations. 

But this ‘ground person’ didn’t ‘believe’ and was even angry that the great man with no illusion persisted in trying to see the dead resurrect. I thought of the Wright Brothers and their plane. This woman would never fly no matter how important she was in her own eyes and the eyes of the Army but I love the ‘creative’. I loved reviewing Dr. Valiant , head of Harvard Psychiatry’s book on Creativity and Psychotherapy and Communication.  I was taught I must believe because the patient has given up hope.  Yet I’ve also been taught that I can help an individual who wants help and I can even according to Prochaska move their motivation along from contemplation to determination but that I must consider always the very essence of ‘triage’.  

Four of the ISIS killers Trudeau says can be ‘cured’ with ‘counselling’ have gone ‘missing’ in Canada. The veterans who fought fanatic Muslims in the Middle East think Trudeau is a dangerous fool. I just talked to one who was wounded overseas and they’ve had increasing nightmares since it was reported that this murderers were lose in Canada. Apparently there are now hundreds of them. 

Dr. Milton Erickson believed that people could be healed and changed with hypnosis but he knew that ‘time’ was a factor.  Even with millions of dollars worth of psychotherapy many hours weekly and years there were those sociopaths who simply could not be changed any more than school can teach all students to read and write let alone work computers.  A Canadian ISIS returnee has been bragging in the American papers about killing allies and raping women. Trudeau didn’t ask psychiatrists about the ‘limits of counselling ‘ and didn’t even respect the scientific, medical and public health communities concerns about the ‘legalization’ of marijuana. We have all considered ‘decriminalization’ but the Liberals and in the south the Democrats have always been keen on manipulating language.

I just learned their are 32 recognized pronouns in New York. I pity the immigrant trying to learn English.  I’ve always liked the idea of the three , masculine, feminine and other, as this idea is actually present in a lot of languages. In English it was subsumed under the ‘plural’.  He , She , They.
 No need for ‘new’ pronouns and further obfuscation just a little creative intelligence, solely lacking in law and government.  Think of all the law makers who can write 32 versions of the same law charging $300 an hour. It’s that simple really, sadly, but a major factor.  In Canada the label companies were a major proponent of the two languages because all the tomato cans in Canada needed new labels and these Quebec sign makers overnight became millionaires. 

The trouble is this all doesn’t contribute to the whole. I’m thankful though I’ve the eyes to see this and haven’t been praying for stupidity as I once did. I’m blessed with intelligence and heart and family and friends.


I can see the silliness and down right insanity without being hysterical and also know that none of
this really affected me this week. I had a good week. I had a place to stay. I had great food. I even tried SKIP this week and we had a meal delivered other than Chinese or Pizza.  The possibility and advances in home improvement are so easily overlooked. I love the Grocery Store and London Drugs. I love the city with everything available so easily. I also love Amazon. I order Kindle books and physical books. Niall Ferguson’s The Square and the Tower and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Natural CAuses. They are here  on my desk being read slowly and savoured ,thanks to Amazon.  I ‘ve even got an item I’d normally have got at a hardware store but ordered on line and got it rather than waiting till I remembered to get it in some ‘specialist store’. This is amazing.  

I love that Gilbert and George are such good friends. Dogs and cats can get along so it remains possible that people will likely muddle along as they have for at least 80,000 years. 

I love that Anita and Ganesh have married and loved so long and their family is so amazing. It’s great seeing these people like seeing the cranes on top of buildings. Naomi and Dereck and Faith are just so precious. Whenever I feel down and hope fades I just look up and see the cranes which show so many people believe in the future, just like the fabulous women having babies.  I love these ‘signs’ like the spring flowers and the first berries I tasted.

God is good.  I love jokes and animal pictures on Facebook.  I seem to be helping more than 90% of those I’m with. It takes me back to being a straight A student.  I’m still getting A and even A plus in my life and work and yet the expectation is always perfection. Increasingly the society we live in demands 100%, with words like Zero Tolerance bandied about in the workplace and the mess of social life despite every engineer in the real world understanding the true nature of ‘tolerance’ . I do think Social Justice Warriors need to be required to run a dangerous machine for a few hours to learn the importance of oil and ‘tolerance’.  

But then Professor Fiamengo from the u tube  Fiamengo Files out of the University of Ottawo so graciously acknowledged the contribution of men even if the media so discriminates against the work of men.  I’m thankful I her You Tube  and saw that the ‘worker’ and the ‘doers’ were acknowledged. I never lose sight of the importance of the ‘builders’ .  I love my refrigerator and the plumbing and freshwater. I love the contributions of science and would never denigrate them or their workers. I appreciate art and culture but know even a hair dresser with her scissors depended upon a miner, a metallurgist and an inventor to be able to have the finely honed blades.


I”m thankful for today.  I see some blue sky. That’s heavenly.  So much is perspective and I am so thankful that I know that a bad attitude just makes things worse.  I loved learning the saying this week, that ‘worrying is praying for bad things to come.”  Paradoxical but true. I am thankful for the daily learning and that while there are so many struggles I am able to rise above them and see things truly.  I loved reading the history of the Crimean War with the politics of the day and Florence Nightingale and the spread of the telegraph. It was hilarious hearing how angry the Generals were to have the politicians suddenly with telegraphy trying to ‘micromanage’ the battlefields from their armchairs.  

 So much of today’s politics remain the same, what one person called ‘monkeys in space ships’.  Cannons versus rocket launchers. But the same bickering and the same childish debates.  Lots of saber rattling. Let’s hope North Korea continues to move forward into the 21st century and I can only hope that the religious fanatics in Iran will stop their supporting attacks on Israel. Yet locally my own concern is that our city council stops increasing the city congestion and pollution with more bike lanes.  Now there’s a reminder on perspective. Things really have been good this week even if I have been unsupported in work and saddened by the ravage of the Fentanyl crisis.  

I loved the  best joke this week, “I hope they don’t find life on another plant so Justin Trudeau doesn’t start given them our tax dollars and pensions.” 

I’m so grateful when I see the humor in this place. I’m thankful for the laughter.  God really must have a great sense of humor.  Thank God for comedians.  





















Saturday, June 16, 2018

Little Italy, Commercial Drive,Grateful

I’m here on a Saturday morning.  An utterly gorgeous young woman just walked by in one of those grey tube dresses that only perfectly fit young women wear.

It’s the people watching. The coffee for sure.  I’m at Continental and it’s always been one of the best. I’m having a delicious mocha prepared for me by a barista with curly cherry died hair and blond moustache. 

I liked that he complimented my gold earrings.  India gold from Nanda Jewelers.  I was asked at a medical conference recently why I had earrings.  They’re studs.

It’s been years but I remembered the first one. I’d known this wonderful old Jewish mariner who had one large gold earring. He told me the sailors and pirates had earrings so if they died at sea and washed on a beach this would pay for the burial.

I asked ‘Which side did  a sailor get peirced?’

I,d thought it was a gay things and didn’t wish to be seen as ‘coming out’ 

He laughed, his face, wind and sea wrinkled. “Not a few of us worried when the gay crowd began that. I’ve forgotten which side. That was decades ago . I don’t think it matters any more.”

My other patient a gay man also in his 80’s had told me these ‘secret signs’ had been really important when. He was young. It was illegal to be gay. “The police were forever trying to entrap people in those days. As soon as they’d get on to what was the fashionable sign, we’d develop a new one, like cryptography. Then the artistic ‘in crowd ‘ would  pick up on the old fashion all to the amazing confusion and consternation of the super straight  homophobic police. They really were lost. If anyone got caught we just figured they wanted to. Some of the  guys didn’t mind the jail.”

I had the single earring for a long time, proud of it. Outside work my life was sailing. An executive member of Blue Water Sailing Association, I was gaining skills in off shore sailing, dreaming of sailing to the tropics of Gauguin. I identified myself as a mariner, albeit amateur, until I sailed solo across the Pacific through winter  storms . Alot of the romance was lost. It became a mode of transportation and way of life. I became accomplished and. no longer needed to declare my belonging. I just was.. I loved sailing but I no longer needed the ‘identification.’ 

One day I got the second gold stud because it spoke symmetry. Besides by then I was no longer concerned to be called ‘gay’. There were a lot of other things I’d care to be called less.

A young man dressed in a long loose fitting suit dress just walked by. He really looked like any young business pperson  but truly unisex.  Handsome, beautiful, gay, straight.  I couldn’t say. He was fashionable, well dressed, and young.  I liked that. 

Immediately following him was a beautiful young girl in a bright turguoise mini skirt. A tight white tshirt emphasized her well formed  breasts.  She was definitely looking to be looked at.In comparison the young man  seemed to walk as if he just wanted to go about his business dressed as he liked. He did know he made a statement.I looked at both identically but the latter gave me a look that said, ‘I’m glad you noticed but if you look any longer than a second I’ll be offended.’


My dog meanwhile had moved in on the two delightful young women chatting amiably at the next table.  He has no sense of ‘timing’ and invariably meeting Fifi he spends far too long getting acquainting himself with her genitals.  Neither Fifi or their owner are ever bothered, female dog owners being like the horsey set, are more down to earth, less flighty and comfortable with animal behaviour. 

I’m embarrassed. I pull him back from nuzzling the young lady’s crotch. She laughs in response, “I love dogs and he’s my little dog who was just sitting on my lap before we came out.” It being Commercial Drive I wonder if she and her friend are Lesbians. I’ll never know.

I’ve just picked up my electric bicycle from Motorino Electric. That’s the Italian connection. I immediately thought of my friend Anil, spending weeks there painting and sketching. He’s posted his work for weeks on Face Book   I loved the fine details of his architectural sketches. 

It brought back memories of reading of the greats of literature in the `18th and 19th century doing the Italian ‘tour’. Byron and others. By contrast I’d loved the BBC documentary sent to me by Graham of the sacking of Rome by the Celts. Being Celtic I love all things Celt.  Which brings to mind sitting writing at a coffee shop in Dublin when I took Laura to Ireland and we searched the graveyards for our ancestors.

Laura always comes to mind when I think of Rome or Milan. She so loved our time there making every fountain and every church special with her laughter. I loved the Vespa ride. We’d been riding from church to church trying to put together the skulls and bones, matching the relics of saints.  

I loved the narrow cobblestone streets, the crazy traffic and the dinner in the cafe with outdoor tables on the lane.  The drivers and waiters would negotiate the passage of  cars through the romantic diners.  We complain of construction in Vancouver. Evening driving in Rome is a whole other matter.

I also think of Suzanne and George and Alive on the Drive whenever I’m here on Commercial.Fond memories. Where does time go. Joe’s on Commercial Drive was the first destination I bicycled to when I first moved  to Kits in the 80’s.  It’s still very much alive. More traffic but still the best coffee shop experience in the city, my favourite people watching. , even if one has to beware of the gaze police and the anti freedom of speech social justice warriors. 

 I love listening to the conversations from other tables. A couple of Huffington Post girls are nearby with their sensitivities and emotions while two men with thick accents are further over and talking business and women as naturally as any men of the world would.  For a moment I forget I’m in Canada.  

I like the Harley parked on the street. I am impressed with the haute couture black leathers a couple are wearing. I watched as they climbed off their machine and came over  for a Continental d├ęsigner coffee.  

A lovely lady in long flowing bright coloured flowered summer gown just walked by , straight black hair. Polynesian. Before her was a 50’s lady, young but dressed like she stepped out of a magazine featuring washing machines and baby clothing. She was voluptuous with fluffy western square dance skirt and baby blue frilly short sleeved  top.  Sensible afternoon shoes. No doubt in the evening she’d change to something more revealing with high  heals. She’d want to be most alluring when she brought her man a martini or Manhattan.

Lots of Vancouver outdoors clothes. Beach wear and gym wear and hiking wear worn for the trip to the market. Vancouver’s a kind of Village People athletic wear place. There’s a suspicion looking at some of the bodies the clothing never has served the purpose it was designed for.

 I liked the little tyke riding on his mothers’ shoulders, beach hat to keep the sun off his face.  The baby buggy another mother is  pushing is so sophisticated it may as well have been made by BMW.  Probably has disc brakes on the wheels.  

It’s a politically incorrect thought but I like that VPL’s are all but absent.  The man who introduced me to that term one summer of girl watching a decade or more ago, is now Ill and housebound.. Hard to believe we once were considered frisky. ‘Visible Panty Lines’.  When they’re absent it’s leaves tantalizing thought that only the thinnest fabric separates the naked from the environment.  The young men are commonly wearing their jeans without underpants.  I did.

Not us old guys, well, things change.  I’m considering going to the Scottish Games today. The first thought was whether I’d fit into my kilt. I’d needed help from Laura getting the belt buckledfor Robbie Burns Dinner.We’d needed all her womanly expertise with skinny jeans. Lying on my back on the bed the two of us got the waist buckle done up.

Then next question was what to wear under the kilt, knowing well, “nothing’s worn under a kilt, because everything is  always in perfect working order.’  

My elderly aunt told me when I’d commented on her concern one outing about locations of the washrooms, ‘they’ll come a day when you’ll be the same ‘. So let’s just say, I don’t know if I’d want to wear nothing under the kilt in public if there’s a shortage of toilets.  I’m thankfully always from ‘depends’ . But when  Laura and I were in New York the idea of waiting on the cold New Year’s eve for many hours, without access to a toilet ,made watching the Midnight Ball fall on the hotel room tv far more attractive. 

I like the girl’s pleasant educated voice at the next table.  She’s sat down with a friend and they are discussing biology and college instructors.

Gilbert loves it here.  So many dogs. He’s blind but the smells must be wonderful. He’s such as social little fellow. I’m suspecting my parking will soon be up. I locked my electric rad bike  into the box of my white Ford truck. Despite that It has been long enough in this district sadly known for drugs and theft. My doctor friend who’d bought a condo nearby left saying it was too depressing to have to pick up used needles in her doorway.

 I love Commercial. I love the shops where I’ve bought the best Italian spices and meats.  I love the coffee shop where the men watch soccer. My Spanish female professor friend could be seen there shouting at the screen. I love the bookstore where I sometimes see my brilliant orthodox poet friend. He always knows the most original literature and so often has guide my reading to the most insightful uplifting creation.

 I might ride my Harley over to Coquitlam now that Gilbert has had a walk and outing.  I missed seeing men tossing telephone poles last year. I do like the pipes and the elegant ladies country dancing. 



  


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Godkids and White Spot

Anna is the consumate mother. She manages the munchkins.  The munchkins are Gilbert's friends.  Kendra, Alex and Izik.  The Godkids.  Kevin is working 100 hours a week. Summer is the key season for the company to do it's work.  Laura and I like their company.  Church and lunch is a tradition.  We ask Momma bear where she wants to go. Which church depends on the level of chaos.  Good Shepherd is closer to their home and a really Christian Catholic Church. Jesus is present.
Kevin says the Sunday School teacher is the best, "She really talks about Jesus'.  They're worried in Canada about creeping propaganda masquerading as education.  Anna watches their physical diet and spiritual diet.  We're just happy to come along.

Polish sermon.  Great choir.  "Really good choir for catholics."  I say to Laura and Kevin.  I believe the Baptists have the best sermons, Anglicans the best music, United the best coffee and Catholics the best ritual.  Since all the rest of the church began in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Catholic I'm appreciative of their 'emotion' and 'spirituality'.  I loved studying at St. Mark's College on the UBC campus.  Right now I"m re reading Thomas Merton

It really was a lovely service. The building is so uplifting too.

The boys went to the Sunday School but Kendra somehow didn't follow staying at the front of the altar. Kevin ran to her rescue. He took her to join the others.  Later she returned. Apparently her brother had hit her. Anna comforted her.  The brothers were angels.  There's a lot of drama going on in church when the kids are there.  I noticed other parents with their children.  That's the beauty of the church.  Family centered.

We were so impressed too, to hear the news from Luke 15 recovery house.  I know so many who speak highly of it. some who say it saved their lives.

After church we moved on to the White Spot. I love their fish and chips.  Laura loves the legendary burger. Anna likes that they have healthy food for the kids.  Kevin lead the prayers and the god kids actually joined in holding hands. It's not uncommon for one to be a 'hold out'.

Great adult conversation about politics and work and stuff.  It was a sunny day.  God is good.  God is good all of the time.  Thank you Jesus.











Sunday, June 10, 2018

Addiction is Isolation;Recovery is Participation

When someone is addicted it’s like they have separated themselves from the mainstream by their addiction activities.  Over time they become increasingly absorbed in these  activities, thinking about it, anticipating it, doing it, and recovering from it,  so that the addiction takes over more and more of their life.  At first friends who are not into the addiction are lost or avoided then family, and eventually recreation and jobs.  Normal people, successful people participate in life. They are involved in their family, work, community and their political and  spiritual life.
When doctors ‘fix’ a broken leg they don’t try to ‘set’t the leg according to the way it was previous to the break but rather set it according to the best functional possibility for the leg. This information has been acquired over hundreds of years especially from the studies of olympic athletes and obviously from healthy people.
Addiction isn’t just about the drug, the alcohol, the substance, the process. It’s like a virus that invades the whole body and can indeed be a total epidemic and public health crisis as we see today in many parts of our world.
If you consider addiction socially, really, it’s more like a religion than anything else. The addiction will have ‘no other gods’ before it. The dealer or promoter is like a priest. There are ‘places’ like crackhouses, casinos, bars where the addiction is practiced mostly.  There is a language and a particular way of thinking. “If you had my life, you’d do what I’m doing’ along with other popular cognitive distortions.  To healthy normal people people with addiction often sound like fanatics and sometimes frankly psychotic.
The most successful people in society belong. Freud said mental health is the ability to love and work.  The WHO extended this to what has been summarized as ‘love, work and play’.  In addiction the person finally have only  their addiction.  Addiction has been called the ‘great eraser’. The earlier one can intervene after the ‘it’s fun stage,’ to when it’s fun and trouble, before it’s just trouble, the more successful the outcome. Indeed those with intact family and jobs and still socially active in their communities are most likely to ‘kick the habit’.
In addition to medication, individual psychotherapy and social therapy I encourage people to ‘participate.  Studies have shown repeatedly that those who are abstinent from addiction at 5 years belong to some group that supports their recovery.
Vaillant’s work showed that those 20 years clean and sober were most likely still attending a 12 step program or some other spiritual based program.
But the cornerstone of recovery is participation. It doesn’t have to be a spiritual program.  The loner is at highest risk.  Addiction presents as a ‘friend’ just like the dealer is a ‘friend’.
I had one senior government worker  patient heavily addicted to marijuana and asked her if she had any friends. She insisted she had one friend. That friend was her dealer.  We used to joke in adolescent psychiatry that if your only friend was your social worker you were in trouble. Well, in addiction psychiatry, if your only friend is your dealer you really are in trouble.
When you drive into a town there are usually two large lists of clubs.  One is the so called ‘spiritual club’ so you’ll see a surprisingly long and wide list of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Also you will see another list of ‘social’ or ‘community clubs - Elks, Kiwanis, Odd Fellows, Masons etc.  In addition to these emotional and spiritual community clubs there’s a garden variety secular club commonly called a ‘gym’ but also called a dojo, a yoga studio or ‘running club.’  The majority of successful people without addictions belong. Addictions eventually like other major mental illnesses are increasingly isolated and alienated.
12 step programs and spiritual clubs and some physical activities don’t ‘cost’ an arm and a leg.  The Yacht Club or the Jockey Club by contrast are usually well beyond the means of the person in recovery.
12 step clubs and most spiritual clubs welcome people without expectation of any more than a ‘buck’ and please fill a chair.  There are specific recovery ‘clubs’ like the Alano Clubs, a kind of coffeehouse atmosphere hang out, or the similar Recovery Club. The Avalon Society hosts  houses specifically for women. There are a new set of ‘sheds’ for men and a wide variety of ‘drop in’ clubs for mentally ill patients which welcome people in recovery as well. Since addiction is so depressing it is common for people in recovery to come to a realization of their depression and benefit from attendance at the mood disorder clubs or anxiety disorder clubs which are increasingly part of the urban landscape. There are specific support activities commonly, fully or particially funded by government.
The self help or community based services usually have a higher functioning capacity.  The average synagogue, church, or temple or YMCA/YMHA/YWCA will have a wide spread of highly successful to marginal individuals. This is like the 12 step programs where those who have long term recovery and ‘are’ back on their feet again are encouraged to hang around to help the next person.
Society is generally set up like a membrane with only a few ‘gateways’ where the addict or alcoholic in recovery can ‘mix’ with those who don’t suffer.  Part of the function of the health care system has been ‘quarantine’.  The local golf club doesn’t advertise, ‘heroin addicts welcome’.  It may not be right but it is real.
So Im forever encouraging patients to participate. To this end I encourage all the standard ‘health care based resources ‘but then encourage what was part of the patients life before the addiction kicked in.  Just as the addiction stopped a person from working and contributing and in recovery we encourage a person to return to work I encourage a person to return to those activities that they did before the addiction isolated them.  Not those activities which contributed to their addiction but the other ones.
Over many decades of work I’ve been pleased to be a part of  real success stories. Patients who were in school but dropped out have returned to school, often starting with a night school course and often going on to completing trades, bachelors, master’s or phd programs.  Recovery is that amazing.  So many of my patients have joined gyms and this has been the take off to their return to health and self esteem.  Yoga, Tai chi, martial arts programs, swimming, YMCA are all amazing places for increasing what has been increasingly called ‘recovery capital’.  There’s a lot to be said for ‘healthy body, healthy mind’
Actual human longevity has been associated with ‘relationships’ , the more connections one has the better off one is. What a contrast to the crack addict sitting alone with pornography in a single room with the curtains drawn. What a contrast to the grossly obese person who sits alone at the smorgasbord.  Or consider the addicts whose only contact with a neighbour is sharing a needle or the alcoholic  nursing their bottle in the lonely drinking bar.
Many of my patients have benefitted most from going to AA or NA or CA (Cocaine anonymous) or OA,  Overeaters Anonymous, or GA, Gamblers Anonymous, or Debtors Anonymous or Sexaholics Anonymous, Codepents Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.   There are literally millions involved in the 12 step (or anonymous ) recovery programs. And now increasingly SMART another cognitive behavioural pseudo self help program is increasingly available.
Churches, temples, mosques and synagogues are a cornerstone for recovery. If you ever attended or your parents attended any then you’re really welcome back  Besides that being a ‘club tourists’ is always welcome and I encourage people to simply ‘drop in’ a few times to these ‘clubs’ in their neighbourhood, and put a ‘buck’ in the basket and go a few times to see if it ‘fits’. Anything is better for recovery and depression than being with ones self or one’s dealer.  We joke by saying that ‘I may not be much but I’m all I think about’ and “my brain is a bad neighbourhood, I shouldn’t go their alone.” It’s equally important to consider ‘volunteer activities’ and become involved in the countless volunteer clubs and activities increasingly available to get one outside of themselves. It’s old adage that if you haven’t shoes then you can still help a person without feet. So much of recovery is ‘perspective’.
I’ve had countless patients benefit from returning to the spiritual organizations that they attended as a child. Commonly addiction makes one critical of all those activities that don’t promoted addiction. These spiritual organizations are themselves reaching out to the recovery community with a local synagogue having a weekly group for people in recovery, countless churches of all denominations having weekly dinners and services and the various HIndu, Sikh and Muslim temples encouraging people to forsake their addictions and participate in community. In Malaysia the mosques have methadone clinics situated in their buildings with a combination of spiritual and medical personal available for people seeking help with addictions.  The local indigenous community has a variety of native healing communities involving sweat lodges, drumming societies and smudging.
A lot of my patients have been welcomed back open armed into the HIndu and Sikh temples where their extended families are so happy to see them engaging in their communities. Yoga is especially helpful in recovery while mindfulness meditation is increasingly recommended.  The taoist tai chi organizations are further ‘clubs’ where people can get healthy and learn a wholistic approach to their recovery.
Each ethnic and cultural group has it’s own ‘community’ clubs.  Where a person might have rejected their ‘catholic roots’ they might well find ‘participation’  and extended friendship in the local ‘buddhist’ temple.  The key is ‘participation’ .  Going from isolation to ‘participation’ is what works and where it begins isn’t necessarily where it ends. A number of my patients have gone on to leadership in community organizations that are at variance with where they began. A United Church minister left aetheism by joining the vaguely theistic unitarian church  to move onto anglicanism and eventually becoming a united church minister.  The key is movement.  Get out.   I have patients who have done exceptionally well in organizations like Kiwanis and Masons.  A number of women I had as patients in the country gave up drinking wine alone by joining the local quilting society.
The ‘meet up.com’ app is an amazing resource for activities for people to participate in.
I am also encouraging people to join political parties. To date 99% of those who have followed this advice have joined ones other than my own. The key is that political parties in Canada at least are ‘cheap’ to join and have a wide variety of community interests and activities.  It’s uplifting for people who once were the greatest ‘critics’ to be seen voting and participating in the political process.
Some of my patients have stayed sober in Toastmasters, others have overcome depressions and gained a whole variety of skills theres. Still others have joined a variety of dance organizations, including Salsa International, Arthur Murray’s, Fred Astaire, and all the different ethiic dance organizations including square dancing and high land dancing.  As much as we like to demonize leaders of the different parties individually they are truly amazingly accomplish social individuals.
Addiction is isolation.  It carries a large component of shame.  Recovery is participation.  Rather than a ‘phoney’ or ‘fake relationship’ with one’s substance of choice or addiction of choice, one moves out of being a mental wanker to being a part of community and participating in all the wide variety of activities that people do where addiction is frowned on and certainly isn’t a selling feature.
Some ‘clubs’ require ‘caution’.  For a while some Legions were glorified drinking clubs dominated by alcoholics though increasingly I hear that these organizations and other veterans organizations are working actively to identify and counter addictions that not surprisingly  follow combat experience. A third of those with ptsd and no other history of addiction vulnerability developed addiction. Underlying all addiction it can be said is anxiety, most commonly social anxiety and sadly ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’.  However, there's also a lot of 'yes, but' in addiction. Prochaska encouraged maximum resource input into those who were willing to be 'active' in their recovery. "Show me, don't tell me."  Many patients are indeed looking for someone to blame rather than wanting to 'change'.  It's not surprising that the phrase 'If you talk the talk, walk the walk' is so prevalent in treatment centres.  Many addicts want to say they are seeing a therapist only to 'appear' to be 'participating' and of course will get very angry if you don't 'collude' with their outright 'refusal to change'.  Not surprisingly 'drug testing' is common place in early recovery for those returning to work.
Dr. Paul O., famous for recovery, said “I can find a problem with a white wall and if you don’t see the problem, it’s an even greater problem.”  Addicts who would shoot up in a church basement without concern or get drunk at any church wedding or funeral would suddenly say they couldn’t attend AA or whatever because of the ‘god’ stuff. Thankfully SMART was developed and atheists can as well join ‘philosopher’s corner’ or ‘political parties’. Most commonly the ‘criticism’ reflects’ lack of willingness to change.  This is sadly indicative of high risk for relapse since commonly people’s previous life is adapted to support the addiction and people feel most comfortable with what they know. All change is anxiety provoking and initially discomforting. The obese are, in my experience, least likely to jump at the suggestion to join a gym.
It’s not rocket science.  It’s really very simple. Yet it’s not easy.  Those who want to change most will eventually make the effort or sadly die or end up in jails or hospitals as a consequence of their persisting addiction and isolation.  Now of course there are ‘exceptions’ and not all people with addiction are ‘isolated’ in this way. Some are merely ‘isolated’ in themselves . But that’s a specific sub group.  The generalization addiction is isolation and recovery is participation is just garden variety main stream.