Monday, August 31, 2009

Whimsical Preserves: rare jelly and diabetic jam, a 1933 Model T Truck, Postcards and Hawaii.

Say 'Hey!' to Tanya of Whimsical Preserves.She makes organic regular and rare jams/jelles AND organic diabetic Jams and Jellies. We have tried her and her stuff is the bomb (this means it is good, like ‘really good’). She is at our James Bay Farmer’s Market and there are six more weeks until this season is over and then it is on to fall and winter (brandied cherries, yum!).

Tanya believes in getting the fruit herself or directly from a local farmer. So for her blackberry jams she picks her own vines of blackberries, the Victoria ones, which are as big as a thumb and sweet as can be. If she has to get fruit off the island, like Peaches, she gets them from British Columbia, so they are FRESH. The only thing she can’t seem to find local are Mango’s. If you want her email, let me know, and you can email her for find out if she does a flavour/flavor or preorder some diabetic jam for Saturday. I will be happy to pick up and post the jams for you. “But Beth I have my own Farmer’s markets!” Well, yes, but they might not have: Peach, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and other diabetic jams to order. They also don’t have hand-picked Saskatoon Berry wine jelly. Oh yeah, and it is $5 a jam or jelly. Here are a FEW of her better (and rarer) flavors. From the top left down that is Sangria (yes, the mixed drink from south America) Jelly, Saskatoon Wine Jelly (hand-picked berries from the north by Tanya), Raspberry-Mango Jam, Kiwi Daiquiri (Kiwi, Sugar, Pineapple Juice from Concentrate, Lime Juice, Pectin and RUM!), Nectarine Ginger Jam and Lime Marmalade (Yum). Every Jam has the ingredients and the weight, and if you give the jar back you get twenty five cents of the $5 back. Most are 250 grams but the ones with rare or expensive items like the Sangria Jelly or Saskatoon Berry (first and main ingredient in both is red wine) are 125 grams.

It is hard to get good diabetic jam, organic diabetic jam in town and she is one of the only Jam makers (all the other Jam makers I ask say, “Yeah, I get asked for that all the time.....Nope, don’t have any”) who makes it and will try to make it to order if she can. All the Jams are organic and natural so refrigerate after opening please!

That is what I did on Saturday, went down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up jam. Because these are not the types of items a person can get everywhere, and there are but a few short weeks left. And as it turned out there was someone there selling Organic Buffalo, so we ended having Buffalo Burgers all weekend (very lean!). The previous week there had been a free petting zoo from the owners of the Beacon Hill Park Petting Zoo. The owner has his 1933 Model T Ford 1.5 Ton truck with all original parts that he is very proud of. There are only 20 of these left in existence, and this one was in California. Victoria is a destination and place for collectable cars, with a recent convention of Bentleys, and us seeing 1910’s British cars with running boards, or old MG race cars as just part of a normal sunny day. Everyone brings out the collector’s and vintage cars into the sun.

I was pretty ill this weekend, and have a few medical appointments this week. So a big sigh. I did a lot of research on Hawaii this last week (8-10 hours a day some days), because it turned out that getting tickets on an airline was the least of the issues. We have to find a place to stay in Honolulu and the Big Island when $250 a night is cheap, and $400 is standard. And it happens that the week we are going to the Big Island is when the Ironman Triathlon is on. On one hand, “Cool”, on the other hand, getting flights off the island and accommodation booked much less a car rented is getting difficult with 1,000+ people and families coming. This is the biggest/important global Triathlons annually, which a involves a 5 mile swim,a 125 mile bike ride and then a marathon run to finish. So many people want to do THIS race, you have to either qualify by time or enter the lottery to get a spot (of which about 1 in 5 might get one). Here is Kelly Bruno making a record on her second Ironman in what is considered one of the toughest in the world as she runs into Kona, Hawaii.

Problem with my research on Hawaii and the accommodations, flights, vehicle rentals is that I work for many hours, then give the summation of the information to Linda or Cheryl before I forget it: brain damage means when it goes out of my day or 2 day zone, sorry but I can't remember. Cheryl has written a blog post on going to Hawaii which probably has the kind of details they hide from me. Either way this weekend I was punked bad, clocking up over 12 seizures on Saturday. There were the ones Linda dealt with, the ones Cheryl dealt with, the ones I had on my own and the ‘big one’ that wiped out that last 3+ hours of the day from my memory. Seizures are not ‘the bomb’ (they bad!) and by the end of the day I was having problems breathing due to ripped rib muscles. So I rested. Meaning, I did NOT do the 48 postcards of last week including these oversized ones with classic pulp covers. Did I do none? Well, I did a FEW (16?, 18?) but I did manage to find some BIG ones, ordered online: 8 inches by 10 inches to 8.5 by 11 inches. It turns out that doing stickers on BIG postcards take longer, like an hour longer. Gee, who knew! Yes, now I send postcards as large as a poster! So yeah, I went to bed a bit later. But next week, when I can breathe without a wince, I am going for the big score – still about 220 postcards for August. Woot!

I have to go rest again now, and will get the yarn and all the other fun stuff in posts as fast as I can. The synthoid is helping me be alert, even if my body has bits dropping off, and I have different beats/blood pressure on the two sides of my body. Hey, we can’t all have the same blood pressure right? So I hope you had a great weekend. Please check out Cheryl’s post and if you want any of Whimsical Preserves, let me know and I will give you Tanya’s email or just go buy them for you.

P.S. – due to problems with my voice at the end of the day (low oxygen rasp, slurring, and saying wrong words - it is no good for Dragonspeak) and my hand, even in the forearm holders having too much pain to type, I have added wrist immobilizer/braces to the WishList that Cheryl recommends. If anyone can recommend others, please let me know. I am trying to solve the problem of Elizabeth=blog, blog=some use of hands.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Usain Bolt revealed as female: the obsession with intersex, Caster Semenya and binary

A relatively unknown girl from Seshego, South Africa wanted to play football/soccer, and wanted to play it so badly she joined the boys team, the only girl in the football team in Fairlie, a village in South Africa's northern Limpopo Province. Her name was Caster Semenya and her dream was to play for South Africa’s women's national team, Banyana Banyana. So far, no different than most females I know who ended up joining boys teams because they wanted to push themselves in sports: they wanted the competition.

"Often I would ask her why she kept playing soccer, and with boys. All she said was 'It's because I like it'," said Dorcas (mother), who bears a striking resemblance to Caster. (Aug 20, 09 in The Star).

The box of ‘femininity’ and the default of female is so rigidly upheld, even against the reality of diversity of females, that women are constantly being thrown out of it; or accused of not ‘being female.’

This is what happened to Caster Semenya, when the IAAF announced a prolonged ‘sex test’ was needed to find out if Caster was a female BEFORE she was to run the finals in the Berlin World Championship. She is 18, and now the world is debating, or deciding, on the most surface appearances if she is a female, male or ‘shemale’ (enlightened US commentor). Because she won.

MSN news explains why Semenya was singled out as a suspect male, and athletic cheater: “in addition to her athletic prowess, it's her traits that society considers masculine: ripped muscles, a solemn demeanor and grooming perceived as dowdy”. Yes, she is not femme. She is solemn, she is shy. She even has a lower register voice and shrugs a lot in front of cameras. Unlike female boxers who demonstrate with high heels and french nails (the more traditionally masculine the sport, the greater the feeling and need to compensate with stereotypical feminine actions), Semenya acts like she does at home.

The ANC (African National Congress) condemned the public actions of an investigation if she is a man because she is muscular, strong, and fast, "Such comments can only serve to portray women as being weak," the ANC said.

So why is this post titled that, Usain Bolt, the Jamaican (male) who ran to a world record, is a female? That’s because currently ‘sex tests’ aren’t. It isn’t really an athletic test when only one gender has to do it: it is a test on social norms. So boys are stronger and faster than girls, and if a girl is strong or fast then she really is a boy. So until some IAAF official spends weeks with a psychologist, an internist, and someone sticks a gloved hand up the world champion’s ass to check for a prostate, his 9.5 100 meter world record is too fast for a man……he’s is obviously a woman. Because that is the exact binary thinking and testing now being applied and have been applied to women. Men are for exempt, because no man cares until a woman starts competing in a way that threatens social norms (Paula Radcliffe, the Marathoner whose record at 2:15:25 was getting very close to the men’s record, was accusing of cheating by running in a ‘mixed’ race with the elite male runners), then the accusations start. As one comment on the BBC said, since Bolt has the exact same things which are marking Semenya for ‘sex testing’, he should be tested for being a ‘god’. No, we don’t believe anymore in the hierarchy of animals, lunatics, disabled, children, women, men, gods (well, a lot of people do from comments but let’s move on). So if Bolt has the same issues, his sex should be tested also….since after all: muscular, speaks easily in interviews, smiles a lot, shaved legs, - obviously a female!


In a blog essay I did two years ago on this history of Athletics, particularly the Olympics, it was noted that women were never meant to attend except to applaud the winning males. And while the Olympics might have equal number of events, the committee which decides that women don’t box or do long downhill ski jumps is primarily male. The same committee which decided that “women were to be permitted no races longer than 200 meters from 1928 until 1960.” Yes, the ‘weaker’ sex.

Beyond muscles and speed, what made Semenya due for a sex test was her facial hair and the revelation that she had higher than ‘average’ levels of testosterone ‘for a female’ (again, since men are not tested, males are not reassigned to race with women based on their testosterone levels, though it would be interesting to hear the screaming from men world wide if this took place). CNN found that 20 million females in the USA remove facial hair once a week. That’s about 1 in 6 females…..or is that males? Of course not, it is the great open secret among women that we have facial hair, and some have a lot.

Menopause for example makes the ratio of testosterone to estrogen different and can bring about facial hair (Is Semenya going through early onset menopause?). But Hirsutism (a condition which causes facial hair) also causes deepening of the voice and even cessation of menstruation. Overproduction of androgens for the ovary, adrenal gland or other medical conditions like polycystic ovarian disease/PCOS (which Linda’s doctor tested her for simply on build!) which causes facial hair and irregular menstruation. Oral contraceptives (yes, the not getting pregnant ones) containing norgestrel may cause hair growth as does DHEA, which can help libido, or build muscle. There are over a dozen ways females can be muscular, have facial hair and a deeper throat and not have to defend that in world press because most doctors are aware of them. And with intense physical training, either 16% of heterosexuals in the USA are actually married to men (who also bore their children) because they have facial hair. Accept that, or realize that the idea of having a ‘sex test’ is actually a horrific ‘name and shame’ for those women who publicly look or act in traditional masculine ways, like this pro tennis player.
As good as her performance was, Semenya’s time of 1:55:45 in the final is still nowhere near Kratochvilova's record of 1:53:28. In fact, it is not even in the top ten.

But she is being punished in some ways for the definition of female beauty, which is based primarily on whites. Or as was pointed out in Body Politic, “U.S. Olympic softball star Jennie Finch appeared on Fox News. No sooner had she walked off screen than co-host Jon Scott described her value as an Olympic athlete:“A great representative: blond, blue-eyed, and extremely talented.”

It is true that if you look at Semenya competing against other black South African women, she is taller and maybe a little more broad shouldered but nothing that is significantly different. Certainly nothing to arouse the kind of comments on BBC and other US news sites from males: “Nobody is stoping Semenya from enjoying life to the fullest,…but the women's sports are for women, not for the intersex or whatever she/he is.”, (another talking about Semenya at the WORLD FINALS), “The fact that he didn't care about the other weaker/less competitive females shows how big a cheater/loser he is.” – the women at the Berlin world finals were weak and less competitive? That hasn’t been my experience. Another quote: “Man with minor female features. Hermaphrodite or intersex I'm not sure what the hell this person is but he's definitely not a female. Weird how they let him compete against "real" females.”” So now a picture of Semenya against the women at the Berlin finals, and suddenly without the flowing hair, the light body build she looks completely different. But that doesn’t make her a male.

These comments are a fraction of what has been said this last week and we now see why people with intersex conditions (ambiguous genitalia and intersex conditions are 1 in 2000 births, which means you know some, there are some in your church, there are some in your work, and so what?!) stay so secretly in the closet. And why women with facial hair are desperate to hide it. Because public shaming and not being a ‘real female’ are going to be the result, if not spoken so openly as this, it still occurs, and who knows what different doctors are going to say. If a pain doctor spent more time inspecting me, and made me open my mouth in order to observe a ‘real marfan’s female’ in the flesh than check my pain, what comments and action await someone with an intersex condition listed for any doctor, specialist or others to act on?

Ljungqvist, the head of the Olympic Medical committee says these tests are to ‘protect’ the female athletes. Errrr? From July 30, 08 NYTimes, “At first, women were asked to parade nude before a panel of doctors to verify their sex. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, officials switched to a chromosomal test.” No males have been found by these or other ‘sex tests’ but only females with the variation of chromosomal and other medical conditions as displayed in the population: “In 1967, the Polish sprinter Ewa Klobukowska was barred from the sport because she failed the chromosomal test, even though she had passed the nude test a year earlier. In the 1980s, the Spanish hurdler Maria José Martínez Patino was disqualified because the test revealed, to her surprise, that she was born with a Y chromosome. Her eligibility was reinstated in 1988.” The Olympics has dropped the general ‘sex test’ because it is a waste of time, and only produces hysterical headlines. Yet they still exist in Athletics, and they still exist for only one gender: females.

So bring in the rubber gloves and ‘cough’ say I, let’s make this an equal playing field. When people live and train at high altitude no one cares, when people like me are taller by a genetic condition, no one cares, and to the Olympic committee (and soon the IAAF) when it comes to intersex or even sex changes, no one cares. What people care about is the transgression of the females to remain looking like how society wants them to appear. That is bunk, and as long as this persecution remains, women with facial hair, women with thin head hair, women with mastectomies, women with intersex conditions, and women who do not fall into the accepted parameters of socially female will be persecuted also. So Usain Bolt, you are strong, muscular and excel at your sport, all the qualities that marks a female for a ‘sex test.’ I submit that Bolt do the right thing, submit for one of his own, or (if only) blow this whole hypocrisy open by announcing his female gender. We accept him as male, why not give Semenya the same dignity?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Desperation. Sacrifice. Fighting.

Before the very interesting posts about an original 1933 Model T 1.5 ton truck, of which there are only 20 left, as well as yarn, spindles, and other joys, before that...

Last week I started going out in my Ti-lite wheelchair daily, going out to ‘make memories’, and I rejoined the Y because if it were not for sheer will power every single day I would already be unable to leave my bed. It seems I have a small time before that choice/chance is no longer a choice, and I will not go out without fighting.
My scalp is no longer getting blood and hair and scalp are falling out. I do what I can to hide that, at least in pictures. The same is true for my arms and legs. But unless I can get my blood to flow the way it did over a year ago….this is going to be it. My neuropathy has progressed and now with a majority of pain nerves gone and sensation nerves gone, the larger nerves are being destroyed. The right side is progressing faster so on that side my hand, arm is slower. Both sides are slow, and fatigued.

I was to go to badminton tonight but I simply could not. Just going up to the Y and rolling back interrupts my nerves so much that I cannot with both arms hit the button to bring the elevator. I went twice to the Y, then to the arcade the next day, to two farmers’ markets and the next day the RSPCA and did 48 postcards and a few gifts. Those actions almost immediately started depressing my respiration to the point that any relaxation of my general muscles would either result in passing out, or a ceasing of breathing, sometimes for a dangerously extended time.

I would love to know how I can have broken toes or have my hand crushed by a door and not feel it and yetstill be yanked awake daily by the pain. My doctor (steady walk-in clinic) saw me and doubled my medication. Um…that’s lethal levels I think, but I get the point doc. Believe me, every minute I am not focused on trying to write, or watching something the pain is not just there, it is pervasive. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to move, it hurts to sit still, and to sit or lay and do nothing, nothing to distract, well that is just a bit too unpleasant. By unpleasant I mean remember that time you had your hand slammed in the car door, or when you fell or thought your ribs were broken or cracked? Remember that and how you were kind of amazed that it is possible to think semi-sane thoughts with that level of pain. Or think and speak at all? Unpleasant.

Okay, in pain, fatigued, yes, but so what?

Well, I want to live. I do. And if smashing against the wall of my body to find a way into extending the time before I can’t leave the bed, then so be it. I have been working and monitoring almost everything I do at 15 minutes intervals for months to stave this off. Talk about burnt-out! I need to get to Hawaii and I need to do that in my Titanium Chair. To go to the Big Island and Cremate myself if that is what it takes. I have Cheryl and Linda to restrain me from acting on those types of thoughts. I still plan on going to see the lava and the stars.

I would do so much, would have done so much more, if I had known how much energy it takes to simply be held upright and breath in a $24,500 wheelchair just made to support me...could I have gone on? The fatigue is a cruelty. So to do that for 10 or 12 hours a day takes a lot of energy, makes me so, so tired.

And to do that, shower, dress, go wheeling uphill, go out if not every day then several times a week, to prepare to externally retake my life of last year. Why? So I can get back into boxing. Because that is where I sweat before and if I don’t sweat soon I never will. I will risk the daily seizures, the daily mini-strokes, the stopping of breathing, the pain, God why did you make the body have this many ways to hurt, to achieve that. And I am only a couple steps away.

Yes, the last few months have been me faking it, pretending that I was in better condition than I was. Sorry. I didn’t want to disappoint you. I didn't want the disability community to move on because I wasn't any type of disabled they could identify with anymore. Plus I didn’t want to be stopped (the PLAN!). Do I pretend so I can continue to make a difference or because I am selfish in the extreme: both.

In the west, I am trying to track down a saying that ‘We don’t do suicide missions’ but all other countries built suicide subs or human guided torpedoes, even the UK and Italy. There is a culture which does not lay it all on the line – isn’t that the service to the British Empire, Gordon holding off the hordes, to lay one’s life to the better land? So what will I sacrifice to stay disabled instead of dying?

Sanity.

Fuction of limbs. The limbs themselves.

I never ask people to do what I ask of myself. Why not? We are all human. If they feel agony, then can I. If they can feel pain and loss then so must I. If they grieve over what is lost, then so do I, so do I. Except I can’t grieve for the losses which occur in a week, a month much less a year so I don’t talk about them, don’t write about those losses much. Who would understand anyway?

Why not rest? Because I have a progressive disease that never rests. And because I am only holding on that will power to get me out of bed and into my wheelchair by a thread, the one that lets me push that bit further. That 'thread' and routine get me out of bed, that and planning get me out the door. That and vanity to appear ‘okay’ to anyone passing by or that I met makes me expend a half days’ energy in a half hour. The fact that I can spend the energy that helps me breathe doesn’t make me bright when I do it, but I do.
Whenever there is a disaster, or when people start running, there is one person, me, who starts running toward the problem, and that’s the way it has always been. Even now, I still want what I recognize is the easy way: to die for another. A bullet to the head for me, to save someone, to save me...that is the easy way.

That’s why I like Terry Fox, because for him it was always hard. The training was hard. The days of cold were hard: minute by minute. The blisters on his stump end were hard. The pain, yes, the pain was hard and maybe if he had been offered regular check-ups they would have caught it early enough for him to live. But that would have meant someone, somewhere taking responsibility so while he shook the hand of the Prime Minister, he didn’t receive medical care while running 3,339 miles, more than the breadth of the USA in 143 days but only when he could not go on another day was he finally tested and the cancer found.

Tonight for the first time I read the letter, the first one he sent for fundraising, to the Canadian Cancer Society of those in the ward he left:

“There were the faces with the brave smiles, and the ones who had given up smiling. There were the feelings of hopeful denial, and the feelings of despair. My quest would not be a selfish one. I could not leave knowing these faces and feelings would still exist, even though I would be set free from mine. Somewhere the hurting must stop...and I was determined to take myself to the limit for this cause.”
I can think of no better summation. To continue to live, to keep going, to take the pain as I can't get out of bed. To go on even after speech and other functions have failed, as long as words can be recorded is my future. I will take risks to extend it, even though it is going to be hard. I don’t know what else I have to offer but my story, my day to day life, the truth of that, and the reasons why I put on the face, why we all do sometimes. And to explain why I keep going, and will keep going. I depend not on a miracle cure, or even the treatment I have been promised by the neurologists of British Columbia (still yet to appear – hello, IVIG? I’m over here!). I have had my home care reduced because my medical conditions are ‘too complicated’ and ‘there is no GP oversight.’ No one wants to take responsibility, not even those who would help me to pee, to shit, to eat, to sleep.

I take responsibility. Because someone has to start. Someone has to care. It isn't about just me but dozens to hundreds of people in this town alone dying THIS YEAR because of the poor care, the lack of equipment and tests which would be available in a first world country. I am just articulate and have access to a computer.

Medicine isn’t about ego’s, or a failure to take personal or larger responsibility but the opposite, with the opportunity to help or hurt others lives come the responsibility to do so proactively. When the staff has ‘birthdays’ for annual stays of seniors citizens (people, real people who are only a decade or two or three older than you) who are filling hospital beds because there is no place ‘to shift them’. Something is wrong.

Yes, your province may be great...today. Yes, your GP in British Columbia may be super...today. Because if you plan to live longer than a few years, you need to worry about it too. When 50% of the people GIVING me care who come in, including the temps (HALF!) have no GP of their own, then it is a story that needs to be told. And to tell that story I have to live it.That story is written on and in my body and within the DOCTOR’S charts and documents my last GP had the receptionist box up. That administrator then called Linda to tell her if she did not pick it up that day, over two years of extensive tests would be destroyed. That is how I found out I didn’t have a GP (again). Last time I went into see the walk-in clinic doctor there (for the third or fourth time) I heard her ask the front desk for my chart.

“She doesn’t get a chart here.”

Doctor, “Well, this IS a walk in clinic and she DOES keep coming here so why don’t you start one (so I don’t have to take her history every time she comes in…).”

Yeah, I could sue the owner, a doctor, for discrimination at the BC human rights court. The last trial lasted about five years. Do you think I have five years?

I am not ‘inspirational’, nor am I ‘courageous’, 'heroic' or ‘defiant against the odds.’ I know the odds, I know I will die; I am just willing to risk further impairment to extend the time before that death. I didn’t know what desperate was until now. And I will probably say that again a few months from now....if I have a few months.

No one has ever beaten death.

That isn’t going to stop me from trying.

If any doctors in BC want to get off your ass and try some of that ‘do no harm’ stuff, please join in ANY TIME.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cat Visit to Victoria RSPCA: New friends and plots of global domination

On Sunday, with postcards done, we headed over to the Victoria RSPCA for our 'treat' of playing with the cats. Nothing like a purring cat in the lap for a bit of better. There were some new additions and some adoptions. One new addition drew me, maybe because this is how I think I might be if I was a cat (but the cat is less neurotic).

Here are Pickles and Mango, who act like twins and are intelligent to the point of scary (or as Cheryl says, ‘With the TWO of them, they will figure out how to use the can opener!”). You know that secret language that twins have, well these two have it as well and they don’t meow but they are talking to each other all the time. Pickles on the right seems the ‘brains’ while Mango is more active but together....watch out. Splitting them up would be a crime since they are so good together, but imagine waking up to the steady fascinating and silent looks from these two in the morning. The question isn’t, “Am I being trained?” but “Am I being trained as a pawn for cat’s world domination?” Pickles definately has that "Once I was the pupil but now I am the MASTER!" look going. That's what I'd want to be as a cat.

We gave them a mouse to play with and Mango enjoyed playing with it, including Standing on the hind legs and bringing it up with both paws face upward for a taste. Is that normal? It is like someone tasting the wine at a restaurant. There was some wild playing while Pickles used the Cat telepathy to say, “It’s okay!” and kept a close watch on all the happenings. It ended with Mango having one foot on the ground, the other firmly on top of the ‘mouse’ (keeping it to play until later) and then grooming itself. These are lovely and fascinating cats and would certainly keep themselves occupied, but beware walking in on them while they are building the ‘Make the owner give me more treats now’ Ray gun.

What I found both heartening, disorienting and confusing was that all of the cats previously shown in my blogs were gone, regardless of time spent waiting for owners. Jasmine was adopted, that green eyed cat ‘who likes to express an opinion’ and likes to play with my finger and kill it (but not draw blood, like Harvey, who was also adopted), as well as try to steal my camera! These three cats, Jasper by the footplate and Thomas as the winner of the two shoving each other to determine who will have the prime spot under the wheelchair, even though they are black cats, ALL of them: adopted. Also Angel, the two year old white cat who loved to play and rub up against my hand and cute Rose, who always sat on my lap was also adopted. EVERY cat shown in the last post was adopted.

This cute faced cat who had two readers ready to adopt it, was adopted, even though there were still kittens left. And an orange tabby by the door, shown once in photos, who was in the same basket time after time, also adopted. As for Miracle, the grey cat that seemed to like high places and Linda’s breasts, it seems that someone else noticed Miracles’ good taste! I had noticed that 50% of the cats we showed, of the 4 or so I try to limit it to each time were adopted, which I thought was pretty good since most of them had been there months. But to have EVERY cat I had shown gone from the Victoria RSPCA even those who had been there for eight months? Was I a very lucky charm for cats? It made me feel bad I didn’t show the other cats, like the pure white one who couldn’t take snacks. But also, since it had been a couple weeks, it meant that my active memory was wiped out. I did not really know where I was, and felt a lot like I used to going to elementary school on the first day. I did not have a friend, I was not even sure where I was. This is just part of the condition, plus that loss of memory and the ability to remember medium and short term.

I looked into the kitten room and got a little bit angry. The last time the room had been teeming with kittens (literally 9 on one shelf), now there were kittens left and ALL of them were black. Over a dozen kittens and every single kitten was black. Now I understood why the woman who was an RSPCA officer didn’t like the kitten so much or the people who went there and never saw the ‘cat room.’ Because the reason people were getting the kitten was the ‘cute’ factor and when that kitten grew up and didn’t have huge eyes anymore, then back it would come, at a 50% return rate. The people weren’t there to commit to being pet owners, they were part of the ‘me’ generation treating animals as disposable toys.

Back in the cat room, there was at least one cat who wanted to get to know me and that was Carmen. They say ‘your cat chooses you’ and Carmen chose me. Carmen had a voice like a mix of Nina Simone and Tom Waites, in that it was distinctive. A low yowling rolling R would come out when she was happy and a slightly higher pitch would come out when she was unhappy. So sitting and petting Carmen makes you sound like you have a small cat sized nuclear device that is getting ready to blow. Carmen also had a sort of dower expression by nature, and Linda was like, “No, no, don’t smile, look grim” And then would say to Cheryl, “Look, they match, they match!”Linda is a little strange sometimes. We are not amused.

Carmen was fine for wheeling around in my lap but did not like being around other cats. In fact the type of cats who sit in my lap tend to be those who want a protected perch. If they feel safe, with my hand on them, then they are content to let me wheel about and stay on my lap, even to the point of when I would go down a couple inches bump like with Rose. I like these cats because they are like companions, real partners.

There was a black and white cute young cat named Hugges (who NAMES these cats?), who was listed as ‘kind natured’ which means LITTLE SHY. And was probably the reason she was not let out, due to being too timid around some of the really aggressive cats (there is one orange cat which is King Cat and actually scratches you from up on high if you don’t feed it treats, or feed it fast enough). Hugs liked to stay in the back of the cage but EVENTUALLY could be coaxed into coming down, however, it was like she had never done that before and was a little, um, experimental in trying to figure out how exactly one gets down. So I guess this stuff doesn’t exactly come naturally to cats, or at least not to this cat.

In our Victoria RSPCA beautiful cat of the week, this one was a winner. Sadly, I could not see the name, nor could Linda or Cheryl remember but it is a young cat, and an affectionate one, doing a lot of head rubbing and butting, curious and a color I am not sure what to call. But very pretty looking and a good companion for those who don’t always want to be playing the, “How do I stop Pickles and Mango from taking over the world TODAY?” game.
My time was up and we had to go until next week. I hope that tomorrow I can blog about the two farmers markets I visited and some pictures there. Plus I have blogs lined up on my calendar (where I keep blog ideas) so I might have to blog MORE, as long as my health allows. Onward!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Skeins of porn, air hockey gloaty and my foot

I have been rather ill of late. But not before I stuffed in a bit of fun. The problem is that my fun seems to stop when the world goes all blue and I pass out. (Cheryl just added “a LOT!”). So I have had a fever for three days or four or I am not sure what day this is, do those things really matter compared to the joy of Air Hockey from Friday? I went with Cheryl and we had a very intense and close game.
The first game was a tie, and the second she lead 6-4 but I caught up and we were tied at 6-6 when she slammed the winning goal disc home. As you can see, there is NO obvious gloating and satisfaction on her face here! NOT!
Luckily we played the Hydro boat game which just uses hand controls, no feet controls. While I seemed to play to win, Cheryl seemed to play to have the Sierra Club, PETA and Greenpeace pissed at her as she ran her boat over: ‘unlimited number of penguins’, an Inuit kayaker who screamed at the last moment as well as running her speed boat across the deck of a cruise ship. At the end of the game, she was high speed approaching an oil rig I had NEVER seen before and the workers were running and screaming. She says it is good to let out ones’ aggressions.

Here is some knitter porn, which I will post more of when I get a little more stable and breathing on a regular schedule. But I thought you might like a taste of skeins to come. Oh, for those who need it, Cheryl measured my foot, which has grown in swelling (she says it looks very much like the foot of a person with Diabetes II she knows who is trying to avoid amputation – gosh that Cheryl says the most cheerful things!). Circumfrence at ball – 11 inches, widest, 10 and three quarters inches, heel to around where the ankle swells around is 15 inches, ankle is 12 inches (just above the ankle bone). Length toe tip to heel is 11 inches (I have grown?)), length for up the leg is 10 inches for slippers/11 inches for socks. Back when more um....stable.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Making preparations for flight and a challenge!

I could tell you that I have been resting and pondering since the last post (I have 'pondered'). And decided that I need to set strong boundaries which include resting and accepting limitations, like maybe not doing everything all the time. But that would be a lie.

I took a shower and wheeled up to the Y to rejoin. Yes, in the manual. And was told they had ‘changed policy’ and I needed to come back the next day. And that they did not accommodate ‘power chairs’ (the next day power that be wanted to know who said that, but didn’t say one way or another). BUT, I am NOW a member of the YMCA-YWCA and have my Recreation Integration Card and am getting ready to take flight.

The shower and going up to the Y in the heat turned out not so great as I wasn’t good on the breathing by bedtime and at one point breathed unassisted between 5-7 times over 25-35 minutes. I don’t think Linda was amused, since she was the one with the ambi-bag. The next day, after waiting for the person to get my membership for an hour in a hot, unventilated room, and then on the way home, I passed out and had to be brought inside and hooked up to oxygen by the people I was talking to. Then did the, “Look MA! I don't breathe!” trick again that night too. BUT I did accomplish what I set out to. I am however firmly grounded for now, and will be sitting still for a little while. But just you wait; I am going to fly. Not anymore because I think people won’t like me if I don’t or demand it but because I can. Because I want to, and because I want to show anyone, and everyone that what is possible is only limited to what can be dreamt, desired and the willingness to try even if you fail.

This is where you come in. Oh, like you thought you were getting out of this? Cheryl, three weeks ago, after the Moss Street Artist Display complained that she was so sore from the going up and down the hill and the distance. I said, “well, better keep doing a couple kilometers or miles a week so you are ready for the five kilometer events we enter into. Having a pit crew is nice, but having a fellow PARTICIPANT would be better!” She must have thought I was serious as she HAS been doing training. Which is good as the first 5K is in 3 weeks, and the next two weeks after that. Hee hee.

Most of us in our lives, are in some ways like me, limited, but not by heat and walls but by the limits we have put on ourselves. We live a good life, we live a crappy life, we all get by, but..... And that is it, what is it that makes you secretly look out when no one is looking, and what is it you dream, that you want to do?
September is coming they say and if you want to take a class, take it! So what if you are older than other students. SO WHAT?! Or if you are like me and indoors, then is there not somewhere you want to go, whether 1 block away or 10 miles? Is there no way, with planning, with time, that you can make a dream, a goal come true? Something that will only matter to you (and me). A picnic, looking at the stars, starting a new language, starting an instrument, starting a new project, restarting an old project, reading a book you have been putting off, getting outside to a place that is special to you, or just simply going someplace and remembering, honoring. Whatever it is, it is you flying. Like I said, I would rather have fellow PARTICIPANTS.

To fly requires two parts: to dream and to try. Dreaming is something some have let grow rusty, or hidden behind shields. Because to dream is to expose yourself to hurt, to have dreams, to lose them, there is pain there but there is also joy. And to dream you must believe that you can become more than you are, that you ARE a person worth taking risks. That you matter.

We all matter, but only some will choose to dream. And fewer still will risk trying to fly. For years, I have tried in all ways, in tactile ways, in words, in everything that you are unique, and hold unique dreams and desires. And that nothing is impossible, or few things. Many are scary, some are dangerous but the greatest limit is ourselves. It is time to dream what can be.
I am not asking that achieve it tomorrow, I am asking that you start TODAY! Not that you go out and run a marathon but if you want to run a marathon, or wheel one, then you dream it, and you write up a realistic plan on how that can happen. The hardest twenty meters to run during training are the twenty meters out your own door. To do it is to try and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I try two, three, six, seven times before I simply can get out ANYWHERE with Linda besides here. If you don’t try, if I don’t try, I already know our chance of success and then a dream is just that, something we build a shell over. And something we get resentful about when we see others struggling to achieve the same. Because there will be difficulties. But then, even I am not so sure on how to fly anymore, so there might be some bumpy moments. But as Amelia Earhart said (via Life and Times of Emma), “Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.”

I will leave these walls and I will go to the Y with a volunteer, or I will be so ill from trying that I will have to stop, to gather my strength, and to try again. But I will go, I will play badminton and I will box. Yes, that’s right, I am going to box. Because if the pain of muscles ripping is so bad that I can only handle one night of boxing, that is one night more than I have had this year. That is one night that I lived my dream. And nothing will ever take that away.

So I am asking to try flying with me. And yes, there might be a big splat. But there might not….then what? Another dream to try? Lots of reason to not. Truth is that you might have fragile wings, delicate. But if you have wings and never even try to fly...? Yes, scary to try: People can see us, we can see us, we are too old, too young, not experienced enough, not ready, not this month, not this year. There is ALWAYS a reason to not do something. I am asking to please find a reason to get ready to try. I am not the kind that goes, “Don’t ‘try’ but DO!’ as my rock climbing instructor used to yell. Not a well loved person. I, on the other hand, know that the ‘doing’ comes from honest ‘trying’ and that is all we can do, is try, with all our might. And regardless the outcome, I would be interested, if you are willing, to share how things went, or are going.

So, I am going to sleep and hope that I breath independently for the start and when I get up I will start matching postcards. I am resting up, but I didn’t say I was sitting still doing nothing! As for what else, and with me, there is ALWAYS something else, well, you are going to just have to wait and watch this space.