Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bill and Carol's post #11: The days before and up to Christmas

For the benefit of any new readers, I am repeating an introductory paragraph to fill you in on some background.  Bill joined the blog eleven posts ago.  He is recovering from the affects of delirium that resulted in cognitive dysfunction after surgery for colon cancer.  His short-term memory suffered at first but is now excellent.  Still, we keep a memory journal and are employing quite a few strategies to deal with "initiation" and "flooding" challenges that are described in a book called "Over My Head" by Claudia Osborn.  Bill continues to improve and as you will see, we have been able to attend quite a number of cultural events since our last post nine days ago.  The journey back to health isn't over.  There is a surgery coming up on January 9th to reverse his ileostomy so all of the good wishes and thoughts that you have been so kindly sending our way will come in very handy.  

Important note: Blue font indicates writing by Carol and Black Font indicates writing by Bill. 

Today is Christmas Day, 2013. Or at least, it was until the clock struck midnight and kept right on ticking.  (I will continue to write as though it were still the 25th.)  How to express some of the deep appreciations as I take stock of my life: 
1. Bill, Sherrill (my sister) and Black Jack. I never for a moment take their presence in my life for granted.  They are precious and loved deeply.
2. New and old friendships including those formed via internet.  I do not take these lightly either.  There are too many of you to name, but you would be surprised how your lives are part of my thoughts.
3. The fact that a piece of music, a photograph, a smile, a leaf, a sweet thought, a story can inspire passion.  How good that I wake up excited to meet most days.
4.  There are more.  Perhaps this will be continued.   
You are all so very much appreciated.  
May this Christmas season be one filled with peace, laughter and love.
And now, Hee-ee-er's Bill! 

Hello.  Welcome to Harrison Galleries with Sheila Neufeld's work displayed above me.  Carol likes the colours in this picture.  Black Jack..   
just likes posing for pictures cause she's so darn cute! 

December 17th
Here's Tupper, our favourite seagull with the uplifting tail.
 He comes to meet us every time we are out and about.  I am happy that his unusual tail  doesn't hamper his flying in any way that we can detect.
 Did you hear the one about Santa, the bear and the penguin?  If you did, please pass it on.  Bill noticed these friendly critters on a balcony in the West End.
 These legs are not made for walking.
They stand guard over the fire escape ladder of a house on Davie Street.

December 18th
Tupper makes a perfect two-point landing.
 This is not a crop circle but a rock circle.  Seen along False Creek.
 If I had wings, I could fly!
 Let's see.  Is this a modern painting worth millions or just some leaves floating near the bottom of a fountain?
 Just to give you some context for that rock circle.
 Genny, a friend and former colleague of Carol's, does her Titanic imitation.  I wasn't available to pose, but Genny does a bang-up job, don't you think?  
 Shake a paw, Niko?  Niko and his mom, Tanja (another friend and former colleague) joined Genny for treats with us at Harrison Galleries.  Niko and Bill had an instant connection.
 The window at the left looks like a painting, but it was real life Vancouver along Homer Street.  Carol liked the photo because of that window, the painting on the right by Bill Schwarz, and the warm expressions and colours.  
Here I am at the escalator to International Village Cinema after seeing Philomena.  It was our first movie since I became ill and it was a good one!
   It was a beautiful, still night..
 with stunning reflections..
 of False Creek lights and Cavalia tents
 and Cambie Bridge as we walked home.

Friday, December 20th
This was the morning view as I looked out the window before dawn broke. 
 Snow laden trees just outside our apartment balcony an hour or so later.
 Yippee, I get to be a snowman for at least another day!
 Winter wonderland in Vancouver.
Forget the snow.  What's in your pockets, Bill?
Same day, a little later, we were warm and dry in Christ Church Cathedral listening to one of our favourite vocal ensembles, musica intima.
 This nativity scene was very popular at Woodward's store, last century.  You can read about it below.  I wonder if any reader remembers this as a child.

musica intima members can always make me smile.  Here, they relax after an amazing concert.

Saturday, December 21
The lady duck has to do all the work breaking through the ice.  The male follows freely as it floats behind, hot on her tail.
We noticed lots of different art had gone up on the first floor of the gallery.  The artist, Bill Schwarz, practices as a lawyer but balances that life by developing his artistic talents.
Winter Solstice celebration as seen from our balcony.
Sunday, December 22
St. Andrew's Wesley all lit up in anticipation of Bramwell Tovey's (conductor of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra) appearance for Jazz Vespers.
Bramwell's piano playing is every bit as impressive as his conducting.  He and Jaime Croil jammed Christmas themed jazz that had the audience on its feet.

Monday, January 23rd
On Friday, there had been snowmen.  On Monday, we were back to Springlike conditions.  The snowmen were history.
Here, we're on the bus for Uncle Vanya at The Cultch.  I felt my first taste of Chekhov would be my last but as I lay in bed that evening, I had to reconsider the fact that I was most impressed by how the plot unfolded and spoke to universal values and emotions.  A play that keeps me thinking long after it is over is, I feel, obviously a success.  

I wanted to take a taxi to the theatre but Carol talked me into taking transit.  You sure see a slice of life on transit which is in its own way enriching.  Certainly more enriching than a taxi ride.  A very nice lady saw Carol taking a picture of me, and to our surprise, volunteered to take this picture of us together.

Christmas Eve
An extra Jazz Vespers in honour of Christmas Eve proved to be the perfect beginning of Christmas.  The Three Queens encouraged the audience to sing their hearts out for two of my favourites, "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night."  I felt happy with my candle.  The beauty is that you don't have to have any religious fervour  to have this feeling.

Christmas Day
Black Jack gets a run in George Wainborn Park and rewards us with a one pointer.
Nice Christmas Day meet-up with two of our favourite people.  Jimmy carries McKenzie (left) while Simon carries Mimosa.  They live in the area but always drive to David Lam Park because (claims Jimmy with a shy smile) they need the car to pick up groceries.  Mimosa and McKenzie also know that walks in the park are fun no matter which legs are doing the walking.
Carol's sister, Sherrill, and her family sent a large Christmas parcel from Ottawa.  We waited until the afternoon to open it.  Here we are posing with the thoughtful gifts they sent.  Can you tell we were pretty happy campers?  Black Jack looks on from her bed, wondering why she hasn't been permitted to join all those carefully arranged items on Bill's lap.       
It was her turn to pose a few moments later and she made the most of it.
From us to you come heartfelt thanks for stopping by and for all of your good wishes.  We send hugs and happiness right back to each one of you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bill and Carol: Post #10 "Having fun for Our World Tuesday"

For the benefit of any new readers, I am repeating an introductory paragraph with changes noted as they become evident.  Bill joined the blog ten posts ago.  He is recovering from the affects of delirium that resulted in cognitive dysfunction after surgery for colon cancer.  His short-term memory suffered at first but is now excellent.  Still, we keep a memory journal and are employing quite a few strategies to deal with "initiation" and "flooding" challenges that are described in a book called "Over My Head" by Claudia Osborn.  Bill's case is very different from Claudia's.  We have now read 21 of the 26 chapters and I am struck over and over again with both the similarities and the differences in their symptoms.  All I can do for now is observe, respond and strategize, using Claudia's experience when helpful, the advice of experts whenever available and my own instincts as a supplement to this information.  Bill is a courageous and cooperative survivor and I feel fortunate and honoured to have him in my life.

Important note: Blue font indicates writing by Carol and Black Font indicates writing by Bill.     

Tuesday, December 10th

Cuddling Black Jack exactly a week ago.  Still wearing my I.D. bracelet from St. Paul's after a test by Dr Raval that proved my colon to be healthy and ready for surgery in January to reverse my ileostomy.

 Black Jack looking adorable.
 Wednesday, December 11th
Smelling the flower pot under the Burrard Street Bridge.
Community gardeners set up this inviting spot where some take a moment to indulge in creative thinking under a city bridge.
Our David Lam Park crows who recognize Bill and Carol.
 Canada Geese flyover.
Photo of the shirt that we bought in a Yaletown boutique (Mavi) later that day. The salesgirl said it matched my blue eyes!  Am I having fun yet?  Along with the initiation and flooding issues that make shopping even more stressful than it is for many men, Bill suffers what I believe is a mild form of adynamia.  Sometimes, his expression lacks animation and this gives me a great excuse to take lots of pictures of his beautiful face.  Looking at the photos shows him how he appears to others.  Bill is a quick study.  He needs some reminders but you will see in the next photo of him how drawing attention to his expression had wonderful and very speedy results. 
Picture of Carol's daily staples plus a newbie Christmas tree cauliflower.  A caring relative suggested that adding probiotics to Bill's diet could be helpful.  I bought Sauerkraut with this in mind, but so far, we have been unable to open this jar.  I like to think of myself as fairly strong but declare myself beaten this time.  Greens, orange-yellow veggies and lemons are a staple in my diet.  Less so for Bill, but we're working on it :)  The cauliflower has a name (now forgotten) and I tried it for the first time, attracted to its lovely mini-tree shapes.
 Close-up of the Christmas tree cauliflower.  Isn't it beautiful?  I might add it was delicious!
Do the colors match?  I believe that salesgirl was absolutely right.  As for Bill's smile.  It warms my heart!
 Friday, December 13th
"Hey Bill, pay attention to adorable me."
 "Hmm, I guess his journal is more adorable than me!"
 "My adorableness not working today."  "But, I can adjust!"
Saturday, April 14th
A neighbor and I are having a conversation at our annual Christmas party. I wasn't smiling but Carol said I was having fun :)
We are lucky in our building administration to have Deborah, George and Nancy. They put in many hours to make life good for all of us.  I second that!  There is one tree in the lobby and another in the activity room, each decorated with TLC.  Add to that delicious treats for the party, friendly greetings every time we enter or leave the building and the fact that Deborah can name every single tenant and give their apartment number.  Sometimes, she can even name their grandchildren!  This is no ordinary apartment dwelling.
Sunday, December 15th  
I confess to feeding the crows more than I should.  It began with one but now includes friends and family :)  My only saving grace is that I give them Black Jack's healthy treats.  No sugar or junk included.  I love this photo with one crow dipping the treat in False Creek to soften it.
Bill noted these buds opening in the dead of Vancouver's winter season.  Magnolias, I think.
 Santa Claus multi-tasking on False Creek.  Yes, that is a cell phone in his hands!
 Carol tricked me..
 into attending..
the Jazz Vespers concert at St. Andrew's Wesley United Church.  Black Jack agreed it was a good idea. I thought you were my friend, Black Jack!
Social/cultural events are not my favorite these days, but the Alan Matheson Septet proved to be very enjoyable. Carol was right; it was a lot of fun.  I only sort of tricked Bill.  We decided to go for lattes at Harrison's Galleries.  I thought in the morning that it would be fun to hear the concert but only mentioned that to Bill after the lattes when we were already half way there and the concert would start in about 40 minutes.  No time to build up anxiety.  Hardly tricking at all.  More like showing the way to a good time.  Wouldn't you agree?
The drummer was hidden behind the other musicians but I found a way to catch this shot.
I got a bit carried away with angled shots, but like this one of Alan Matheson, the multi-talented director of the septet.
This picture fascinated me because of the floating turret up on the right.  We both came out of the concert feeling energized and enriched. The side view of St. Paul's Lights of Hope seemed very different from the front one (shown in the previous post).  I hadn't really noticed that floating turret but Bill's observation brings new interest to the photo for sure.  One more sign, I believe that his brain is healing.
And on that note, we bid you adieu for today and thank you ever so much for stopping by.  For more stories and photos about people from around the world, do check out the Our World Tuesday blog meme.    Thank you to all the hardworking volunteers who have kept this meme going since the late Klaus Peter began it three years ago.