Friday, March 25, 2011

Outdoor wheeling: Tales of the Neighborhood and Beacon Hill Park

When the rare alignment of sun, a ready wheelchair, and me dressed and with energy occur, I head outside even if I have to pay for it with an erratic heart for the next 36 hours.

For clarification, my heart problems which stopped fencing and started wheelchair use was POTS plus autonomic failure (postural hypo--tension) which meant my heart went above 170-240 beats per minute if I was upright even for a minute or two, plus spikes in blood pressure which caused tremors and mini-strokes. Now, I have a collection of upper and lower heart erratics, which are not only painful (for example, if my ventricles, the lower heart, don’t beat while the upper heart does, it is like water filling a balloon to bursting – where bursting is chest cavity bleeding: that is one of the eight to twelve erratics) but indicate that my autonomic system, the part which does the stuff you don’t have to think about, does not have the ability to exert itself AND maintain a steady heart beat for the rest of the day. The rule now is ‘1 day, 1 activity’ whether that is a shower, or an appointment, and even then, I can overexert myself. But I am trying to find boundaries which allow me to do something and go on to live another day.

Last weekend, a late sun through cleared clouds allowed me out to wheel a block or two with Cheryl and show her some of the ‘tales of our neighborhood’. I am sure your neighborhood has local characters and things of interest. Thankfully the guy with the long beard who used to be on the house by the corner and comment on my clothes, ass, and breasts has moved on to where-ever lechers with poor impulse control go. Across from us is a short closed off street which has old houses and this lovely garage, showing that all one need do is stay still long enough and you too can be on of William Hope Hodgson’s Fungus people. It also shows a ‘Canadian VW camper van’. While parts for cars are regularly made on both sides of the US, Canada border (and now that our Canadian dollar is higher, expect Canadian plants to open up to exploit the cheap US labor: “They seem good chaps, by jove, but use some local lingo, and not the Queen’s English.”) in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s there were particular colours of paint only used on Canadian sold Vehicles. Orange, yellow, and green all had separate shades, and the Canadian colours tended to look like faded photos from the 1950’s. One of the ways I could tell I was back in B.C., Canada from Los Angeles, were the car colours from my childhood everywhere with the yellows, browns, oranges, and odd green cars paint colours unseen south of the border. I have searched and searched but found no reason why Canadians were given different colours.

There are several squirrels that use the old 70’s apartments in the area as good places to store food, since they have large gardens. Here is one black squirrel with a red chest (??) who is busy rearranging the soil. All squirrels seem to have OCD tendencies. With the green spaces taken over, the barn owls, I have not seen for a while, nor the family of raccoons, however, our fence is still part of the squirrel highway and Linda saw a bald eagle sunning a while ago. I have seen a hawk in the park (beacon Hill), and an owl, and there is supposed to be a heron there somewhere. Deer has been seen within four blocks of our apartment.

When we moved back to Victoria, and found out that our apartment rented while in the UK was in the area we wanted (lots of trees, open space, all in walking distance), but had been, until we moved in, a crack den. We looked around as we still wanted this area but more space and privacy. We saw a sign advertising for ‘ladies only’ rooms, and thought it might be a boarding house. This is only a few doors up from our current apartment, while an actual boarding house was round the corner (which I called 'The Addam's House' due to number of Ambulance trips from there), in the heritage house they tore down to build the condos across from us. Once we answered the ad we found that it was not a female renting the room, but an older guy....who liked older women. There was a lack of seperate cooking or bathroom facilities. The rooms were furnished but the male older owner required that women NOT retreat into their rooms and shut the doors but that they must stay in common areas until at least 8:00 pm AND keep the door open to their room. This did not sound like a room for rent but an elderly voyeur who could not get out to peep in windows anymore so hired rooms to ‘ladies’ and required them not to close the door. Too weird, no privacy and we ended up finding our apartment. Five years later, the same sign, like a venus flytrap, has remained up the entire time. It also looks like some of the extra ‘Canada Green car paint’ was sold to do the trim on this house.

This week, another sunny day, the day after showering meant a trip out to Beacon Hill Park. It was very GREEN, and in the open sunny areas, where the mud flats reflected the heat, the Sakura blossoms of this cherry tree had opened.
The other trees were just starting to open.

In the shady grove, you can see two squirrels, a grey and a black on either sides of the tree. The squirrels were out due to the sun but young and skittish, except for the older squirrels, who knew what the sound of a plastic bag meant. The older squirrels however would retreat up a bit into a bush and then slowly gnaw down the peanut.
The flowers on the sun side of the vegetation islands where the squirrels hid and played had opened. Meanwhile, young squirrels mostly stayed in the shade of the grove, where the overhead canopy hid them from crows and owls. Here they leapt and raced like hyperactive younger brothers. This also included getting distracted from peanuts and suddenly getting into fights with each other.

Here for example, one squirrel is stretching out, finally taking the peanut from my hand, and above him you can see a streak of brown in motion. This picture is a still from a short film Linda took and up in the tree, just out of sight, is a black squirrel who took the peanuts and went up there to eat them. When this grey stretched and grabbed the peanut, the black squirrel threw the remaining shell and one of the two peanuts still inside down and nailed the grey, bouncing it off of his head. Oh, the lovely woodland creatures, and people say how they reflect the glory of god. It appears then that god is like a sibling on a long car trip who can’t stand to see anyone but themselves get any treats. I do remember one birthday party very young where the young girl spent most of the time running around trying to make sure none of the children her parents invited (that included me) got to eat or take any of all the lovely food. She ended up licking most of the icing off the cake before being carried out screaming by her parents. Squirrels can be like that.

After an hour, we headed back, and I just now remembered that Linda promised me a butterscotch sundae for going out. She used the ‘oh dear, out of time’ routine to escape ice cream payment then, but I am definitely owed one ice cream from the Beacon Hill Drive in! I like going out as the sun and new growth is full of color and the young kids are brought out in droves, very cute – however, going to the park, even in a wheelchair to take pictures of small children is a good way to end up on the neighborhood watch list, and then I would be a local tale (the bad kind).

In Surrey, B.C., in first grade, the fifth graders, the ‘older’ kids, swore they was a body buried in the woods behind the school. And the one guy most adamant in telling us the tale said that whoever found the body FIRST would get a NEW BIKE. The ‘body behind the school’ is common (we had that in LA at the elementary school there), along with the woman with lots of cats being a witch, but since then I have never heard of a reward for a six year old finding the body. Maybe we were a little TOO starved for entertainment out there (a scar from childhood is from when I hid under the trucks at the plant across the way, raised my head up, cut myself on my crown, felt blood and then ran screaming home, shouting over and over to my mother, “HELP! HELP! I CUT MY HEAD OFF!”


SharonMV said...

Beth, so glad you got out to the park and saw the cherry trees & squirrels. We seem to be getting more squirrels on our street. In the past we only saw grey ground squirrels with scrubby flat tails. Now we've seen some with bushy, upright tails. I haven't heard any owls for some time.the local red hawk is still around. I only recall one raccoon walking across the deck in recent months.

We had a haunted house as kids (or so we thought) in our area. I think it was just a somewhat delapidated large old house. There was a strange older man on the way home from scholl. He was quite large and often shirtless and spent his days digging up his front yard which consisted of nothing but dirt. And we had an old lady who lived 3 houses down from us. She was always yelling at us from inside behind closed curtains as we passed by.We were convinced she was a witch. She lived on the corner of the street & we had to walk by to go to the store, the library. In later years she had a change of personality & became quite nice.


Baba Yaga said...

Getting out is a good thing. One I haven't done enough of lately. And cherry blossom! (I shall forever associate cherry blossom with you.) Scotland cannot be very far behind, and the birds are bustling and rowdying, which is always a pretty fair sign of spring.

The heart troubles sound wuss and wuss - which I suppose makes sense, but good heavens!

Now to find out whether blogger lets me post this, in the current less-than-well state of the 'puter. I can get in to some places, and not others. It's only inertia which stops me sorting it out.

Linda McClung said...

I am glad we were able to go out and see the squirrels this week. It was so nice to get out in the sunshine and see what was in bloom. The squirrels antics always amuse me. I agree about all squirrels seeming to have OCD. That and ADHD.

I'm sorry none were brave enough to climb onto your lap. That's always fun to see.

How about ice cream tomorrow if it's not raining?

It's not very often that I see the 'Canadian' colour cars any more. I don't know why they were such weird colours. Maybe there was some chemicals in the dye that Canada wouldn't allow to be used? I'm glad we have the same colours of cars most countries do. My favourite since I was a teen was the cherry red that has sparkles in it.


JaneB said...

Sakura! SPring is coming, and I'm so glad to hear you are getting to go out a little in it.

wendryn said...

I'm so glad you got to go out into beautiful weather and visit the squirrels again! We're just starting to have bulbs come up, and it is very nice to know that spring is finally coming.


Raccoon said...

The gray squirrel in the tree looks like Rabid.

Your braid is getting long! I'm jealous...

The weather looks fantastic. No rain. Here, the last two weeks it has rained every day. Blech.

On days when it's not raining, we end up chasing squirrels away from the bird feeder half a dozen times. There are mourning doves, and some small birds, and because of the blooming of the trees, some hummingbirds.

And a couple of times there's been a raptor perched on the fence.

Aviatrix said...

I had no idea that they were Canadian colours, but I certainly remember them. I called them "plastic colours." They aren't as bright anymore, though.

cheryl g said...

I enjoyed the walk with you and hearing the tales of the neighborhood. It is good to see spring again with fowers and squirrels.

Where I lived we had stories about a long lost cursed indian burial cave. I suppose if we had lived more in a city it would have been abot a haunted house.

Anonymous said...

It all sounds lovely, and I'm glad you were out and about. Cheers!

Lorna Bob and Liam said...

Ummm, that breathtakingly pithy last comment was mine...

Noisyworld said...

I'm glad you're enjoying spring, I love the cherry and apple blossom too, my mum and I tend to know them as the pom-pom or candy-floss trees (depending on how the mood strikes us!)
Where we are in the "home counties" (sounds posher than it is!) we have grey squirrels ruling, well, everything, they bully the birds, the cats and the humans if they think they can get away with it :(
Reminder to self: must get out in the sun more :)

Olivia said...

I was impressed by your braid too! Did Linda do it? Thanks for the local tour. I am left wondering if we got the same car colours in Australia. Those greens look very 70's to me.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Olivia and Raccoon: Linda does the Braid, I don't have the hand useage or strength to do it, but it helps, particularly with sleeping twice a day to keep tangles at a minimum.

Raccoon: a raptor? That should keep the squirrels away.

Sharon, Cheryl: I think having only 4 houses and a corner store limited the 'haunted house' possibility. There were ruins of a house a quarter mile down the road, an old driveway and stone chimney and floor, some evidence of it burning down. Never knew the story about that. Not the kind of place a 5 year old goes alone. Our Neighbor had lots of cats, like over a dozen, and the daughter babysat us, and my first crush, or wanting to imitate her in everything. Also my first introduction to a bead curtain/doorway - it made her house seem exotic.

Linda, Avaitrix: I noticed that the Canada colours stopped in the 80's, though often the regular colour choices were called different names after that. They seem to be associated with nature: yellow, orange, brown, green - I did read that Mexico also had slightly different colours, but why, I could not find out.

Neil said...

Well, I WAS going to be unique and comment on your lovely braid, but I see that would be somewhat redundant.

In the last 12 years or so, we've been seeing more and more squirrels in Regina. Some people feed them, and the City wants them to fend for themselves, so they'll maybe move somewhere with more free food. Nope, ain't gonna happen.

Is that a recent outing? If so, I'm definitely jealous, since we've had snow several times in the last couple of weeks. LOTS of snow yesterday, white streets today, and more light snow today. I'm SO tired of snow and winter; I think I'll win the lottery and go somewhere exotic - and take you two with me, of course!!! If you want to come, that is. After I win the lottery, of course. Yeah, right.

Love and zen hugs,