Ill Prepared…

When my wonderful partner informed me she was intending to transition to womanhood I had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. How naive! Last week’s visit to her doctor resulted in an increase in her hormone medication and dire warnings from her doctor that, “The first seven days will be hell!” Well clearly the doctor knew a thing or too about the adverse effects of hormones. We are in fact only in to the third day and last night was traumatic by any standards with my poor partner sinking in to the depths of anguished hormonal despair that had both of us wrestling demons practically all night. I’m bracing myself for more to come and hoping step by step to better equip myself in coping with this new experience.

Meanwhile I seem to have fought off another cold,bombarding it with herbal teas and the ever-effective wild oregano oil. Just as well as I was having serious misgivings I might have to ask my doctor for antibiotics, which she is more than pleased to prescribe at my slightest suggestion. In fact she advocates I take them on a daily basis as the only alternative to the ARV medication I refuse to take. Talk about grim choices….

On happier themes I continue to view property in NS ever hopeful I will one day be able to afford a purchase and return to my most beloved part of Canada. Right now I have found a delightful century farm with 13 acres and two barns, one huge, nicely nestled in gentle hills and blueberry acres and agreeably isolated but amenable to emergency services.

Of course relocation would present certain obstacles, obvious and less obvious and in particular I am painfully aware one needs to give some consideration as to the availability of doctors and hospitals; a sad necessity as one gets older. There is for example another wonderful property for sale in Cape Breton, its many assets reading like a dream-list fulfilled for such as myself: 160 acres of natural isolation with a delightful heritage property, including a beautiful barn and seemingly devoid of neighbours for miles around. The fact it is also without plumbing is of course a minor detail. I went to Google Earth to further educate myself and I have to admit, while zooming across Canada I was painfully aware, in the event of any health or fire emergency I would be pretty much on my own! This thought would not have troubled me even 10 years ago but as I now approach retirement a little trepidation hovers overhead!

Oh well, I dream on!

Noise pollution or in this case a form of torture…

The polite woman who returned my call Saturday evening assured me the problem should be resolved today, Monday*. Apparently she had been unaware of the terrible noise emanating from her building’s sky fan until Friday by which time it was too late to have any maintenance person fix it. True or not her neighbours have been suffering the most ghastly assault on our hearing, to say nothing of our fraying nerves for nearly a week. The piercing screech of metal on metal screams from the rooftop of the new building complex behind ours and reverberates down the alley ways and rebounds from neighbouring buildings to such confusing effect one at first had difficulty pin-pointing its source. Even with all the windows shut it was impossible to block the tortuous sound and only by thinking of it as not dissimilar to the chorus of summer cicadas did I manage to sleep..

I have just dared to open the French doors, tentatively hoping the problem has already been fixed, but alas no. Perhaps even as I write a skilful technician is already on the roof investigating. I’ll take a look when Max gets his mid-morning walk. While doing so earlier a neighbour, busy watering her desperate garden popped her head above the wilting shrubbery to give her up-date. She too had phoned the building manager but evidently got a rude husband rather than his very civil wife. This lovely neighbour, who devotes her free time to rescuing distressed wildlife wasn’t having any of his nonsense. She promptly phoned City Hall to complain and was assured they take these matters seriously. The important thing is to keep phoning apparently, thereby moving the complaint further and further up the registry until the bureaucratic wheels physically head in this direction to investigate. She recommends I do the same which I shall certainly do before much longer.

I have to say it amazes me just how much city noise one manages to blot out, not least considering my ideal habitat by comparison is in the woods of Nova Scotia where only the delight of Nature’s chorus assails one’s ears. In the space of an hour the other evening a building fire alarm down the road suddenly sprang to life but since the building is new and evidently unoccupied only the emergency services responded. Thankfully they managed to silence the wretched thing. But understandably they didn’t respond 30 minutes later when a near by car alarm inexplicably came to life, and neither did its owner. Does anyone pay attention to car alarms? All this of course in addition to the daily hubbub of fire engines and ambulance sirens. I suppose we are meant to hear these whereas the clanging of the train bells and cruise ship horns from the port somehow register in a different manner, in fact quite pleasing, especially in the dead of night. Not that our nights are ever that dead mind you; drunks, whores and party goers passing on bikes can punctuate the brief episodes of nocturnal silence at any hour. It’s all about adjustment I guess but I can’t believe consciously or not, the noise pollution doesn’t take it toll! On that sobering thought I may venture outback in hopes of seeing a man clambering about on our neighbour’s roof and if not, City Hall will be getting my call.

* Up-date: the problem was indeed fixed Monday afternoon to the great relief of the entire immediate neighbourhood!


Maths was never my forte. I like to blame poor math teachers at school but that may be a convenient excuse. The bottom line mostly likely is that I simply don’t have an aptitude for figures. Fortunately that has not greatly hampered my life. However, it has come to my attention of late, like it or not percentages now figure more prominently in my day to day existence. Is it just me or is this a general prevalence?

For example, I am frequently checking what percentage of battery life remains on my various devices, most notably the iPhone, iPad and the PC, and though I seldom ever get near to using up all my data allowance on Netflix or my phone I occasionally take a peek at that too.

Of far greater interest is my monthly blood test results which are just heaving with percentages, most of them more or less meaningless to the uninitiated which is why my doctor or naturopath has to explain their significance. That said what really concerns me is the question whether in fact they actually have any real significance. Unlike battery life on my various devices which do seem to have a very practical relevance, it seems to me those listed in my clinic results are far more dubious. And it isn’t just me who thinks this way. There is a whole body of professionals questioning the real significance for example of viral loads and CD4 counts and their application in supposedly proving this or that theory.

I was reminded of this today when watching a short video highlighting the absurdity of statistics relating to viral loads and CD4 counts and the graphs created from manipulation of same to prove this or that theory. It made me think of a recent conversation I had with my doctor when I questioned the incredible fluctuation between one month’s results and the next. What could possibly account for such variation? Ever ready with an appropriate response she explained that trials she had actually been involved in at St.Peter’s Hospital revealed that not only can one’s CD4 count be affected by all manner of random factors but will also change, often dramatically from hour to hour and time of day. How then can anyone place any real trust in such percentages as an accurate guideline to the health of one’s immune system?

It’s Raining bread….

Actually I think today the shower from our third floor neighbour looks more like tortillas; anyway the gulls, a gulping grey and white commotion of them have arrived within minutes to feast upon the unwholesome largesse. And thank God for them although its consumption can hardly be beneficial I at least have high hopes the lawn outside my window may soon be cleared of this annoying litter which rains down daily from the moron two floors up.

I assume he thinks he is doing the birds a favour and not in fact poisoning then and or their offspring with food I wouldn’t even feed to humans let alone wildlife. In any event he clearly has no regard for other residents or the fact he may well be attracting rats to say nothing of the horrid appearance of the newly cut grass. Last night I happened to look out the window as a local very fat skunk scurried past, hardly pausing to give the day’s bread remnants so much as a disdainful sniff. Sensible creature!

I know of course I could and perhaps should complain in person, and I would certainly have grounds for mentioning my displeasure to the landlord. But the reality is our predecessor frequently expressed her annoyance to this neighbour as does the woman immediately above us; all to no avail! Even the post woman bemoans his actions citing the harm it probably causes the feasting birds. All dog walkers, of which I am one, have to wrestle with their pooches who usually make a grab at the ghastly garbage, although it has to be said Max, not a canine too fussy when it comes to roadside snacks, now actually avoids the white chunks.

A passer-bye recommended I report the man to City Hall for violation of whatever rules govern the proper recycling of food scraps but how far down that combative route does one really want to go? I’ve tried sweeping up the mess but the wretched man seems to regard the absence of bread as a clear sign the birds have consumed it all and now need a fresh helping. It seems like a no win situation so as I sit here watching the house sparrows tuck in (the gulls were scared away unintentionally when I got up to take their picture) I resign myself to bread showers for the foreseeable future.

Bureaucracy: a daily virus…

Our local, and very convenient, dog pedicurist has moved away, presumably to more lucrative employment which raised the problem of where to get Max’s nails clipped. I mentioned this to a fellow Dachshund walker as we, and more to the point, our dogs greeted each other. She said she was taking Dino to Petsmart and we were welcome to go along. So this afternoon we went and presented our little treasures at Petsmart’s dog salon where our interrogation began as to Max’s vaccination record.

Fortunately he is up to date with all the essentials in that regard but obviously my word was not enough to satisfy Petsmart protocol. Since I didn’t have the foresight to bring his vaccination certificates with me they would have to confirm with my vet whose name and exact location I could not recall. Luckily I had his phone number to hand (though rather illogically listed) and a brief phone call sufficed to satisfy the young woman working on the registration desk who was more than ready to accept the word of an anonymous voice at a phone number she had not actually confirmed as that of a veterinarian. Perhaps I just exude honesty!

Once the all-clear was given Max could proceed and get the simple task of a nail clipping performed in less than five minutes. But I was left wondering whether such thoroughness was really necessary. If the goal of such requirements as current vaccinations is so vital to prevent possible contagion between dogs why was the whole interrogation performed in the very same room with other dogs already being groomed. Indeed during the process Max was sociably sniffing noses with a black labrador awaiting collection by its owner.

As one who has serious misgivings about the whole vaccination orthodoxy and who complies with it only under duress and the necessity of occasionally having Max placed in a kennel it seems to me this procedure is yet another odious example of bureaucracy controlling our lives.

Beauty is in the eye…


Beauty, it is said is in the eye of the beholder! Of course that is true but the meaning goes further I think. After all, it can also be said that all things are in the eye of the beholder. Our understanding, our comprehension of the world in the widest sense and our appreciation of it is surely the direct consequence of the way we see, the way we perceive and interpret the world through our senses. With this in mind I have found increasingly that using a camera to capture images I see has greatly enhanced my ‘beholding’ of the world.

I particualrly enjoy snapping shots of different objects, changing the range and angel of my viewing. Often the resulting images afford me great satisfaction. Last evening as I set off on my evening walk here in Vancouver, I happened to notice a familiar sight, a dumpster, often taken for granted. I took out my little pocket sized Canon and started snapping shots. The dumpster emerged as a distinct and I think quite beautiful object. see what you think.

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Metal objects in particular and especially once they begin to succumb to the elements offer fantastic photo opportunities. Here are a few taken recently:



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Little treasures….

We walked to the village shop to buy cheese,
snapping photos on the way.
No matter how often one walks the same road
there is always something different to see;
the bright hawthorn berries beginning to fade;
the texture of snow transformed by sunburst;
the old building a little further decayed!

Returning home we stopped in to see Paul,
always a pleasure,
and discussed a documentary about the Universe.

I bought three little treasures;
two old postcards to send a friend
and an old photograph of a young man
who captivated my imagination.
Who was he I wonder;
or is he still?