Carol Maureen Barker

Ah time the great healer.

No matter how many years pass, my memories of Carol Barker never diminish.
She - The lively strawberry blonde with such electic artistic flair - and I - the angst-ridden brunette with a withes mop of hair brooding over couplets. We bonded over our shabby treatment by a fellow artiste. Nothing like a good rant to clear the air. At the end of the day we found ourselves like minded. The artiste was never admitted to our inner sanctum.

Ours was a relationship of joy.
We had such fun. All too soon came the night when:

The phone rang.
A promise was called in.
I reneged.-
Carol walked home.

Death on Oak and 46th.
The stop light now blinking there remains as testimony to our need to make sense of her death. t flashes to commemorater our canvassing of the neighbourhood and petitioning City Hall.
Carol, no longer Carol, became a stat.

I made peace with her in the graveyard at 41st and Fraser years after her burial.

November 30th is the day she died.
November 29th is the day I reneged on my promise.

If nothing more, this day serves to remind me to be careful not to make promises.
I wear a telephone charm on a bracelet some times.


Brain Drain

I approach the coming month with disbelief. Today, Carol has been absent from us for longer than she was ever alive. Next week was her birthday and one later, mine.

This year I am celebrating by buying lottery tickets.

If I won a substantial jackpot;
  • I would immediately take a leave of absence from work.
  • I would wean myself off my meds and take up drinking single malt scotch again.
  • I would employ a keeper to keep me out of trouble. ( I am an exuberant drinker)
  • I would take my guitar up again and rock out up and down the little clubs on this coast.
  • I would get Morgostas to build me that Harley.
Mostly I would reedit my huge collection of fiction.
---and--- publish.

Silly dreams.



Comment on the pic....

Can you see the differences in the two chairs?
  • height
  • arms
  • ball decoration on arms
  • etc
The pic looks bad until you click on it and see the glorious detail.
I am not embarressed by my animal print cheesy throws.
That's why I am commenting on it! Justify, justify, JUSTIFY!

Oh!, and one shelf of my books.

Living with Creative People -or- Zen and the Art of vintage leather chair buying

Anyone living with a creative person knows what that likely means.
I live with a very creative younger person who LIKELY could win national awards for mess.
Why put up with it? For starters we are related, if you take my meaning.

My own minor creativity comes out in writing, playing games, and, yes, moving the furniture around. -heh

When I moved from my castle to the current micro-estate, there was a surplus of many everythings. It was difficult to decide exactly which of what to keep once it became apparent that this was home for a few years. My teeny tiny cozy condo was purchased for $59,900. The current value is just a lick under 200. The castle I sold for $155k is now worth a cool million.
It is a small regret since at the time I could no longer afford the maintenance, but harder to say bye-bye to that ocean view and the nature trails. Prices have soared as the masses are here. Entry homes are $300k. ( I should file this under: my real estate rant)

So now.... whilst sauntering through my local Sally Ann- what to my wondering eyes did appear but a black leather chair, twin to my beloved at home. This chair was overpriced as some Einstein told the staff that just the arms sell for $50. I dinno about that. I subdued my inner cheap gene, bought it and scratched the bejeez out of my car's leather upholstery cramming into my old pontiac to bring home. And? It is, alas, not a twin. it is a cousin at best. (grrrrr)

Now, after rearranging the living room a few hundred times, I am bracing myself for the inevitable fireworks when my firecracker comes at last home. The taste of crow is anticipated.

Do as I (try to articiulate coherently) mean, not as I (inevitably) do.


More HealthCare Musings....

Kill 'em with kindness . . . well that is my way of confronting conflict.
Health Authorities are unwittingly doing the same thing.
That pesky road to hell - being companion to good intentions, creates no end of mix-ups.

On the one hand, we want to keep seniors at home as long as possible as we know through the gathering of statistics (likely flawed surveys of the wrong people at the wrong times **) that the elderly do best when living at home. On the other hand, sometimes people really, really want to go into a situation where they get more care. Read those last five words : where they get more care.

Many times what happens is that they go into extended care where they have no peers among the demented and stroked-out residents, and they die in despair. Many more times they go into Government-assisted living situations, where they do not get more care; they get 2 meals a day, and a small room in a co-op style environment. The problem with this is that most of these people in these placements are people who could not thrive at home with Home Support assisting them. So into Care they go in Assisted Living and their care is taken away at the level they had at home. Give them 3 months and yes, it's off to extended care. There IS no Intermediate care anymore. Not really.

It is a comedy of tragic proportions. All at the top of these healthcare pyramids are people who need desperately to get out of the office and into the field. They need to send out polls to clients in service for longer than 6 months asking questions like:
  1. What are we doing right?
  2. What are we doing wrong?
  3. What can we do better to enable you to stay in your own home?
  4. Your suggestions to make it a better experience for all concerned.

Too easy I suppose.
I have yet to meet a client who is completely happy with their service as provided.
And I have yet to meet a client who was asked about it.

This needs to be on paper.
Otherwise, apparantly, it doesn't exist.

** like that famous stat that clients statistically expire within 6 months of entering a Care Facility. Kinda a no- doh when people cant get placed until they are dangerously, critically, ill or completely burned out from trying to make it on their own.

Someone talked..... (secret police...)

Poke enough people with a stick for too long and someone, somewhere, sometime will shout out loudly enough to be heard. Well: someone talked!

Going about my beeswax today, a client's daughter asked me what I thought about the paper.
"The paper?" I was clearly not getting it....
"The front page of yesterday's paper" and she handed it to me.

Someone, a very brave someone, took the intiative to call the paper and report on the results of cuts to scheduled visits. ie: from 60 minutes to 45 minutes. That particular someone exposed themselves rather too much when they commented that they were sent to a home without being informed that another worker was injured previously.
I think I went there as well but I was prepared.

You have to pick your battles.
I am pretty sure I know who this person is, but really, it is all of us.
We are not anti-employer, we are pro-client. And as we work on the Government dime, you and me and every tax-payer of the Province is paying our wage. We want to give quality care. We know where privatization leads, and it is not to over-abundances of quality. It is to caste system care- got the cash, get the perks- otherwise its wash your hands face give your privates a wipe and we are outties.

I used to call in to my Supervisor every single thing that outraged me.
She got the point.
My new Supervisor, my 6th in 6 years, knows full well what I think.
We have crossed swords in the past. I know she does what she can, and I know she is an inherently good person. I report things that can be changed. I report health and safety problems. I don't report microshit crap.

When you work the day shifts, there is always someone who has your back. Help is just a phonecall away. When you work evenings, it's catch as catch can. My regime of report-o-mania occurred when I worked evenings. Believe me, every single evening contained at least one reportable incident from violent outbursts to people fainting from dehydration, to addresses obliterated by branches necessitating getting out on busy roads to walk up and down looking for house numbers in the dark.

My compromise was to work days. I also make a point of refusing assignments that contain unsafe components. My employer would say that every assignment is safe, but with the increase in dementia clients living at home, I beg to differ. My old photo name tag has the dental imprints of a man who had a delirium. If I hadn't been wearing the tag, he would have bitten my nipple off. And what was I doing where this could be an issue? I was pushing him in his wheelchair through a door and right at the point where my hands where in a different room than his teeth he tried to bite me. Pretty savvie for a delirium I would say.

We work at risk.
All we want is to be informed.
Be safe.
Be respected.
I know the person who called the paper did it with the best of intentions, although there was one sentence that annoyed me...** We have enough legitimate provable issues to address without speculative scare-mongering.

I know, I know. What a dream!

** only the one you say?



Lady Di and I left our demons in sleepytown and ventured out to catch the matinee of Beowulf.
It was quite disheartening to discover our theatre only supported 2D. (buggerit) This gives us an excuse to venture down to Victoria for IMAX. -- perhaps even next week. At any rate once the disappointment of 2D left, we settled in to watch the epic.

I am not the kindest of critics -- all this opinionation in me bursting forth at inconvenient moments (see ""blog"") and I must constantly edit even this site to remove outbursts inappropriate, but - like Mikey -- I liked it. Lady Di liked it. We liked it - we really really liked it.

Naturally on the way home we stopped in to Chapters to check the script book and a side by side olde english and translation copy over hot beverages. I cannot wait to see it in 3D IMAX.
But for now this was cool.

A personal snort for me was when, in the car on the way back, Lady D told me that she found Beowulf incredibly attractive. I wished I could play for her right that second then, the interview on the Beowulf site with
Ray Winstone where he comments on his stellar bod.
His body is about as magnificent as mine.

--alas alas

Wonder if he takes brain meds too?

Anyway, I told her they hired him for his voice and bravado, but the butt was all special effects.

I cant wait til I can have my own CGI self.


The Honey Man

Am I the only person that did not know what the Honey Man did?

Speaking with my 93 year old client who was raised in Inverness Nova Scotia, in a time where indoor bathrooms did not necessarily mean flushable toilets, and a steam whistle served as a fire alarm, I learn something new all the time.

So the Honey Man does not deliver honey.
It is some old fashioned humour.


The Big Relax-o (continues)

It is a work day. I hear the alarm going off. In the distance, I hear one of my chiming clocks strike. *one **two *** three ****four *****five ******six *******seven
-eh? Seven?

Yuppers, seven.
Luckily today is the day I start at seven with the old Army veteran who will be up, fed, dressed, meds taken, and only wish a game or 2 of crib. I use my travel time later in the day to catch myself up. I am getting lackadaisical. Aint it grande?

Lucky doggie-boy, no time for a walk means inbetween clients many many mini-walks.
Lucky me, I get to enjoy some sunshine.

After training my brain, I pick up Sharon Kay Penman's "Here be Dragons."
A little history with my fiction.

Today Beowulf opens. Lady D and I will attend on Tuesday.
Life, she is good today.


Cleaning, clearing, and bins

Because of the dreaded dragon, cancer, and the after-effects of treatment, I have dedicated myself to clearing out junk. There are those who might believe my entire home to be thus. Some of my beloved treasures I sent to homes where I know they will be appreciated. Some 50 of my clocks I just donated to Sally Ann. This day past, my evil twin came to assist me in packing stuff up. (Thanks, P.)

After 22 boxes left the condo, I hesitated over a few books. I cant bear to give away books without telling them how much I loved them. This ceremony amuses others, but truly I have to. In one of the books was a sheath of paper with poems of Arda. My own, of course. I gazed through with a smile. I have not visited Ardan soil since my falling-out with a certain Ainu. A certain Ainu who referred to my home as a "shit-hole." ----cough I miss the place, but not enough to go back. I couldnt bear it to be honest. One of the things about cancer is that it totally sharpens your senses to what is important. Although my holiday helped immensely, I still dont have enough in reserve not to burst into tears. No kiddin. I am a wuzz.

I have a feeling that Frank Gough told this little treat to me, I dont think it's one of mine. It;s sure cute though. I wonder what Frank is doing. If he is still on this side of the sod he will be 98. The scribe. Frank was part Cary Grant, part Edward Gorey. I adore him.

" A little lace in it's place - titillation.
A little frill a little thrill - stimulation.
Doff the lot, what have you got?-- revelation."

For some reason, this little ditty was with dozens of poems about hobbits. - heh

"A Soldier in Flanders"



Third Impression, January 1945
(Total 25,000 Copies)

Saturday, November 10th, 1917, the 7th Canadian Infantry was advancing on Passchendale ridge, step by step in the soft, deep, treacherous mud. One of them, a former sailor, proud of his own strength, contemptuous of any weaker than himself, caring only for his interests,was using a Lucas lamp in signaling when he saw the enemy approaching. In the ensuing defense of his position, this man's strong body was pierced by a bullet which changed not only his outlook but the whole course of his life. His strength was turned in a moment to weakness, and he fell into a yawning shell hole half full of water - unconscious. Some time later, as consciousness returned, he heard a voice crying for help, then cursing bitterly at the apathy of all who should have offered the help he demanded, then going on into desperate prayer for deliverance. Suddenly our friend realized that the voice
was his own, and the commotion ceased at once. Hours dragged wearily and painfully by and the soldier began to lose hope of being rescued.

Enemy soldiers were seen moving over the ground making prisoners of those who could walk, and killing at least some who could not. He fired his rifle, but apparently without result, and the enemy drew closer, looking at him - but from the grotesque position his body had fallen into - thinking him dead -
the soldier passed onward. This proved that he was lying in "No man's land," and made his chances of being picked up remote.
At about midnight, he saw figures against the skyline moving away from his vicinity and called for help, only to be told that some one would be sent to look for him at daylight. Now human props were knocked away from
him. He had been many hours without food, water, or sleep and was hardly able to keep awake, yet to sleep meant
death. What to do?

Towards dawn a heavy shell struck the ground just behind him, and exploded, and, in making its own crater, almost blocked up the one in which he lay, forcing the water in which he had been lying - close up to his chin, at at last he was able to west his parched and swollen tongue. A short time later another shell dropped
right between his knees into the soft mud, with its ugly butt close enough to touch. Terrified, he waited cringingly for the explosion which never came, and as he realized that the shell was a dud, his nerve gave way and he frantically shouted for help. However, help was not forthcoming yet.

Into his mind now came the words of a song he had often sung before, "Where
do we go from here, boys?" At last the words became a sharp, demanding question, and a warning that he would soon be going somewhere, but WHERE? Then came the answer. Trapped in the mud, his once boasted strength gone, helpless; he knew now that his sould, stained with thirty years of conscious and wilful sin, was to go out NAKED
into the presence of a Holy God without covering or advocate! Terror of death fell on him, and he again made efforts to escape from what seemed now to be his grave.
"I cannot die," he thought. " I can't face God, I am not ready."

Still he could not think what to do.
"I MUST do something or I shall be dead, and then what?" "What can I do?"
Again and again he cried in despair, and then it seemed as if an answer came.
"Call upon ME in the day of trouble. I will deliver thee."
He did not see this as his answer and still wondered
"What can I do?" To every query was given again the thought, "Call upon ME in the day of trouble. I will
deliver thee.
" This must be from the Bible he thought, and it must mean God. But how call I call upon God? Yet there was no alternative, for sleep must soon end the struggle. At last came prayer, of its kind, the cry of a soul in anguish.
"Oh God, if there really be a God, and if you can hear me in all this confusion, and if you can pick my cry out of all those that cry this morning, and if you will listen to a voice like mine, this is my day of trouble, and I am calling." And fear receded and comfort came. Then he heard, "Whose calling over there?" "7th
Battalion" he answered. "Where are you buddy?" "Over here."

Finally two brave men, temporarily leaving their post- crawled to where our friend lay, and with difficulty pulled his helpless and broken body out of the shell-hole, but having done this, were not able to help further. So,pointing out the closest dressing-station, (Red Cross) they left him to reach that half-mile distant post as best he could. The wounded man could not lift his body from the ground, nor even use his hands, so he dug his elbows into the surface, and dragged himself laboriously forward a foot at a time.

Hours slowly passed. Shells fell beside him, bullets whined above him. Three time an airplane approached, machine-gunning the forward positions, but each time the place reached a point where its fire must strike that crawling worm on the surface, the firing ceased and the plane passed on. Whether this was due to to mere
"sportsmanship" on the pilots part, or to that great promise, "I will deliver thee" I will leave the reader to

The fact remains that finally he reached a point where he could be seen by other soldiers, and having attracted their attention, he again lost consciousness. But this time help was at hand, and he regained consciousness in a base hospital. Months afterward, telling part of this story to friends, he was given a Bible to read for himself these words so wonderful to him. They many be found in Psalm 50:15, but our friend found a sentence more than he had so far learned. It was ... "and thou shalt glorify ME." This became his new desire, and he has tried in some measure to fulfill his part, giving his testimony to his friends, or to careless folk brought to wonder "Where do I go from here?" He says in conclusion, "It is better to walk to God in health and strength, than to crawl to his feet through the mud of despair and in fear of death."

Mr. T has been granted the privilege of telling the story of God's love, warning of His anger against sin, and testifying from his own experience of man's helplessness in the presence of God without excuse. "Reader be SURE
your soul does not go out from you "naked" ! Shelter it under the blood of Jesus Christ - God's Son, shed on Calvary for you." "Christ died for our (my) sins, according to the Scriptures."
(I Cor. 15:3)

Rest in his finished work for time and eternity.


and THAT is my Grampa - evangelizing!


Ol Grandpa T

Having posted that tidbit on my Grandfather, it occurs to me that the picture left in one's mind would be of an obnoxious evangelical zealot, bombarding any and all with his idea of God.
Perhaps this is part of the man. Not really the larger part of him though.

My Grandpa T was named Lionel. Lionel Claude in fact. Somewhere along the conversion trail he decided that he would take the name Joseph. He referred to himself as Joe. Ol' Jo was 100% disabled in the Great War. He had his left hip shot out. But prior to those days he was a character and a half.

L.C. was born waaaaaay back in the 1880's. He ran away from home after his widower father remarried. (I can relate) His relocation project brought him to Canada but after an aggressive child find program from his publisher father, someone recognised him and he was sent back to London. That lasted another two years and he was off for good this time. He sailed on the three mast sailing ships all around the world and had some glorious tattooes including an anchor on his hand between thumb and first finger.

L.C. was one of those daredevil types who did feats of strength at carnivals. He was very proud of his physique. He fell in love with a lovely English rose who knew right away this was a man who could not be managed. She begged off as she was devoutly Christian, and he worshipped only his body.

When war came, he was in his early thirties, but he joined up anyway. True to form, he was promoted several times for acts of valour and courage, and demoted more times for insubordination. His clarion call in the trenches was after being shot and left for dead, as he heard the moans of the dying around him. He saw advancing enemy soldiers bayonetting those left. His tract said the yells and screams of a wounded man brought him to his senses and he tried to tell that man to shut up, until he realised he was that man.

A Bible verse ran through his head, no doubt courtesy of the English rose. "Call upon me in your time of trouble and I will answer you." L.C. called. He was found by medics 3 days later and brought out. He went to see the English rose and she immediatly reminded him that the Bible Verse has two parts. The second part is: "... and I will glorify you."

L.C. got the girl, my grama, and lived into the 1950's as a Salvation Army soldier and a Shantyman. He never lost the spark though, and never regarded himself as disabled. He refused to take a military pension for this reason. I see many of the traits of this man I never met in my own father, and indeed myself.

Proud. Zealous.
I am proud old Joe was my grandpa. I look forward to meeting him in other realms.
I can't wait to hear the stories that some of those old salts alluded to wouldn't divulge.




At 11:11 am, although at work, I stopped to remember those who gave their all for my freedom. On my drive home, a CBC radio segment on Passchendaele ridge was on.
This was of interest to me, as my Grandfather was grievously wounded in this battle. Miraculously, he survived and lived to tell any and everyone that God had heard his calling out from no-mans land and saved him. He believed that his duty to God was to become a Preacher and glorify God all the rest of his days. Somewhere in my home is a copy of the "tract" my Grandfather printed about his experiences. It was called "A Soldier in Flanders." One day I should transcribe it here to my blog.

My Grandfather was what they called a Shantyman. He picked up his wife and 5 kids and moved where the Lord called him. In the dirty 30's my poor Grandmother moved an astounding 23 times. I never met my Grandfather, but many many people told me he was a very charismatic gentleman possessed of an iron will and an ability to stay active every minute of every day. Since he did not condone radio, television or cards this involved human interaction. He was a well-loved man from all accounts.

After hearing a harrowing account of what conditions during that battle my Grandfather lived through, I felt very blessed indeed to ever have been conceived. Amazing really.


Burning questions answered...

Ok, ok, enough with the email.

Yes I know I do not go out of my bubble very often, it IS my life after all. (doh)

Yes, I did actually buy myself souvenirs. Perhaps not quite the conventional type.
Aside from the haircut, I bought myself a Nintendo DS and the Brain Age 2 cartridge.
(and the Final Fantasy one, and the Flash Focus one, and Mario...)

When I took the Brain Age quiz, my first results were staggering.
The first brain age test is this rock, paper, scissors thing where you answer orally.
Sometimes it asks you to win and sometimes it asks you to lose.
It, uhm, took me a few go's to get into it.

My brain age score was accompanied by a little tsk tsk-ing. "That's quite a bit more than your actual age, isn't it?" it said. My brain tested in it's 80's.
--- ouch ---

After 10 days on ye olde DS I have gotten it down to 58 years of age.
Still awful but getting there.

My neuropsychiatrist had a good laugh.

I also bought myself an amber necklace. And some dyed seed pearls.
That's all though.

Okay, back to my DS.


*Only* in Montreal . . .

Our Hotel is home to one of the best restaurants in Canada.
The second I saw it I knew I had to take a snap . . .

The name says it all.

Iconic: Vacation Snaps

During my Montreal time, I only took a very few photos. I hate having my picture taken as I am notoriously unphotogenic. Somehow, this attitude carries forth into my excursions as photo-ops agogo are missed and squandered.

Being of icon mind, I did manage to sneak some shots in the Basilica.
So this then is what I loved in Montreal: