Monday, January 20, 2014

Just the way I feel right now

Bill is still in hospital.  Since the day of his surgery (January 9th) I have spent the hours between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. sleeping on a chair in his room, and still I miss him.  His sister, Phyllis, arrives at 9:00 a.m. and stays with him until I return.  She greets me with a smile when I arrive in the late afternoon and she greets the two of us with a smile when she returns in the mornings.  She has been a rock and I will forever remember this time as one that has brought us closer.  My sister, Sherrill, has been a rock as well.  She is far away in Ottawa but she has texted and emailed so frequently, our conversations are as close to "in person" as any could be.  I will forever remember this time as one that not only clinched the sister bond, but the friendship one as well.  In my "off" time, I'm supposed to be resting, sleeping, rejuvenating.  I do that but mostly I wander aimlessly, taking photos, yearning to have Bill and our carefree life back.  The surgery went well, but hospital-life has taken a toll.  I think he's coming back to me but sometimes, there have been doubts.  Doubts that this has changed us.  I have been as frightened as I can ever remember though I haven't given up hope.  I know that if the old life is not to be, the new one will have a different and perhaps even richer texture to it.  This post reflects my need to record the past couple of weeks.  I share it with Our World Tuesday, where you can be tantalized by glimpses into the lives of people from around the world.  If you have even a few extra minutes in your day, it would be well worth your time to stop by for a visit.

The owner of Bean Around the World in Yaletown makes a latte under my watchful eye.  The day before New Year's Eve, he said as we were leaving, "See you next year."      
He shared with us that he will be going home for Chinese New Year's for the first time in 12 years.  Gung Hay Fat Choy to him and to all of those who celebrate.  (This photo shows the display at Urban Fare grocery store, also in Yaletown.)
I'm not sure what this is, but it's on the ceiling of the same grocery store and I love the way it picks up reflections and seems to reflect a time before Yaletown became (and I say this with true fondness) Yuppy Town.
 Here's a close-up of the dragon.
  But, back to those magnificent lattes made with such care.
Delicious works of art.
We walked along the False Creek walkway a couple of days before the surgery, and knew the boats would soon shed their Christmas lights.
We also walked to Gastown to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  It was probably illegal that I snapped this shot from our seats.  Something about..
riding those rolling hills that made me feel I must surely be tagging along right behind Walter. 
The Vancouver Police have a Mounted Unit and every once in a while, I happen to catch sight of them riding through the streets and parks around me.  This was the day before Bill's surgery and the first time we had ever seen them in David Lam Park (across from our apartment).  In the Chinese calendar, 2014 will be the year of the horse.
The morning of Bill's surgery as we prepared to walk up to the hospital, Black Jack took a moment to tell him she loves him and will miss him.
Then she took advantage of the moment to check for leftovers on the table.
Bill felt very well the day after the surgery and was highly amused by that sign at the lower right of the photo.
Here, he almost runs through the halls.
A few days later, he was feeling less well, but he walked to the lounge with me.  As I tried to catch the street lights below, I realized our reflections were quite clear.  I loved that Bill's sense of humour emerged.  You will have to look very closely to see the joke.
I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with St. Paul's.  I love the honest, hardworking people who truly want the best for their patients. 
I hate that one seems to enter a maze of death-defying traps, no matter how well-intentioned the caretakers are.  Okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but let's just say, should I become ill, I will do everything possible to "fix" myself on my own.  No hospitals for me unless it is to put together broken pieces (I can't forget that I am alive because of the surgery after my bike accident).  I hope that doesn't sound bitter.  I appreciate the nurses, doctors, residents, students, housekeeping people and security people.  They take their lives in their hands every day when they go to work.  But, I hate the system. 
Some of the photos from my wanderings:
I think these are American Wigeons.
They have beautiful wing patterns.
No idea what this is but loved the way the red stood out and yet blended as well.
Looking through the girders of The Granville Bridge to a mural on a building.
From Bill's hospital room.  Sadly, he was unable to enjoy it.  I will show it to him one day.
I love "my" crows..
in David Lam Park.
This juvenile on the right is demanding to be fed.  S/he made me think of an article I read recently: "What Really Happens When We Give Kids Everything They Want."  I come back to the old pendulum.  It keeps swinging from one extreme to the other.  A quote attributed to Oscar Wilde comes to mind: "Everything in moderation, including moderation."
Reflections in False Creek,
a seagull..
that approached close enough for my small lens to capture,
a talented fellow..
with serious goals..
and enormous concentration..
and focus..
and willingness to try many times..
before gathering himself for yet another attempt were among the sights I wished I could share with Bill.
I stopped at the cafe in Harrison Galleries and drank a latte through a huge lump in my throat, but loved that this is a place where one can sit quietly amidst art.
I walked home and saw more art..
around me.
Funny how that gallery continues to draw me, even without Bill.  In a way, I feel closer to him there..
than I do at the hospital.
I guess I want to deny "sickness" the pleasure it takes from us.
I will not let you be a "sick puppy" Bill.  We will shed the image together in favour of tangled lines and humorous shapes..
and clamourous music..
and we will look down the road..
to former haunts..
and new explorations.
Thanks for letting me vent, everyone!  To TexWis, Penelope, Jean, Daniel, Jim, Ron, Raven, Bev, Chris, Leslie, Fun60, Sherrill, Phyllis and all the others who have been so kind in letting me know you hear me and send us your best, my heartfelt thanks.  And now, take a minute to check out Our World Tuesday!  Have a good week, everyone! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bill and Carol's Post #12 Welcome to 2014!

For the benefit of any new readers, I am repeating an introductory paragraph.  Bill began contributing to the blog twelve posts ago.  He is recovering from the affects of delirium that resulted in cognitive dysfunction after surgery at the end of April for colon cancer.  His short-term memory suffered at first but is now completely back to normal.  A book called "Over My Head" by Claudia Osborn helped us to understand the "initiation" and "flooding" challenges that still crop up from time to time.  However, these, too,  are showing steady progress. The journey back to health isn't over but the trend is very, very encouraging.  Bill will have surgery on Thursday to reverse his ileostomy. We are nervous and optimistic at the same time, but having done everything possible to make sure this second surgery goes more smoothly than the first, all we can do now is to put our faith in the medical team and go forward with hope and determination in our hearts.  Thank you to each one of you for your good wishes.  They are deeply appreciated.     

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

This is a catch-up picture from our supper on December 18th.  The particular shade of red that comes in Red Chard is unmatched by that in any other food/flower/item I can imagine.
Thursday, December 26th
We walked downtown in the late afternoon.  On the way home, I took reflection shots along False Creek as I have done many times lately, but this was the first attempt to incorporate the fence patterns.      
.  And, one shot looking towards the Cambie Bridge.
Friday, December 27th
We walk by Chintz and Co almost every day and, though we are the inveterate non-shoppers, love something about the artistic displays and constantly changing decor.
I don't require a new set of dishes, do I?  
How did Carol and Bill get inside this glass case?
Saturday, December 28th
I couldn't believe we were back at Chintz so soon, but Bill's longtime friends, Bev and Geoff, came downtown to spend some time with us and to hunt for treasures.  After enjoying treats at Harrison Galleries we walked over to Chintz to offer our opinion on the two patio tables that Bev was trying to decide between. It was fun to see Chintz through their eyes.
Bev, Geoff and Bill admiring the giant dinosaur eggs on Bev's possible new table. 
This is out of focus but I love it.  My dear sister sent Bill this cool pair of pyjamas and Bill tried them on that evening. 
Bill and Black Jack both have the same dentist.
Trying the pyjamas on brought out Bill's comedic side. I've put a complete set of his martial arts moves on facebook.  They are hilarious but also heartening in that they show that his sense of humour and strength are back!  You can check them out at this link.
Bill doing karate, or is it tai chi?
Monday, December 30th
We walked to English Bay..
and admired the.. 
Burrard Bridge.
 Tuesday, December 31st (New Year's Eve)
We had lattes at Bean Around the World before walking downtown to see a movie.  Check out my new ring from my sweet sister, Sherrill.  As for us, aren't we adorable?
I love the architecture and ambience in this part of town..
and had fun taking crazy angles of the Sun Building.  Those shots will continue to appear throughout the next section of this post.
The movie, 12 Years a Slave, adapted from an 1853 autobiography by Solomon Northup, tells a true story.  Solomon was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery.  Twelve years of indescribable suffering ensued before he was able to make his way back to his family.   
It was a beautifully made movie and important to see, though tough to watch.  
This review is the only one of the many I've read that discusses some of its negative aspects.  
Bill and I feel that the points made in that review are valid, though we both appreciated the stellar acting and the Brits' courage in dealing with a subject so raw that American movie-makers have yet to find a way to address it adequately.
A little before midnight, we decided to go for a New Year's Eve walk.  We ran into this fellow and learned that his name is Dave.  He was ending the year with a flat tire but his attitude was upbeat.  He told us he is a recovered addict and has been clean for a year.  Bravo, Dave!  It was fun meeting you!
We regard this is as "our" tree.  It is in George Wainborn Park, and a year ago, we took quite a different shot of ourselves in front of it.  For 2014, it was delightful to meet some young people by the tree who said their only wish for the new year was world peace.  We took pictures of each other and exchanged thoughts about our common wishes for a peaceful world.  I can't think of a better way to welcome the new year.
Wednesday, Jan.1, 2014
On New Year's Day, we again walked downtown and admired this mural showing Johannes Gutenberg.  Our knowledge was a bit scanty but we later googled Gutenberg :)  Here is what we learned: "The world's first movable type printing technology was invented and developed in China by the Han Chinese printer Bi Sheng between the years 1041 and 1048. In Korea, the movable metal type printing technique was invented in the early thirteenth century during the Goryeo Dynasty. In the West, the invention of an improved movable type mechanical printing technology in Europe is credited to theGerman printer Johannes Gutenberg in 1450."  I hadn't realized that moveable type printing technology was first developed in China and then Korea, before Gutenberg introduced printing to Europe.
Various sights along the downtown streets caught our attention. 
My Camera and I were happy to click away.
This church's steeple stood out, even a street away, and Bill suggested I try this shot between tree branches.
Our lattes and Eightfold Eats vegan treats at The Coffee Bar were excellent, but sadly, I left my camera bag on the back of our chair.  The camera was around my neck, so that wasn't a problem but we had brought along the new Kindle my sister had sent me for Christmas and discovering that loss later in the evening was upsetting.  A quick email to the coffee shop netted an immediate response from Naj.  They had the bag and my kindle and would keep them for us to pick up the next day.  They even wished me a good night's sleep!  Thank you so much, Naj!
More sights on the way home..
included the Hotel Europe and a very handsome gentleman posing in front of it.
This shot of the Millennium Gates at the entrance to Chinatown also included the Sun Tower on the left and other famous Vancouver landmarks that some of you might be able to spot.
You can learn about The Healing Lodge and this magnificent totem pole at this link.
The "W" over The Woodward's building made its own beautiful reflection in the apartment windows at its right.
In the darkness, this shot of a young girl on her skateboard was a bit fuzzy but the camera did catch her energy and balletic grace.

Friday, Jan.3
We discovered a new room at Harrison Galleries.  
Having coffee there feels like home.

Saturday, Jan.4
We walked all the way to Stanley Park, our longest walk since Bill's surgery.  This tree by English Bay has been catching my eye lately.  It appears earlier in this post.
I took many shots of Black Jack running on the beach.  
Here are a few of my favourites.

She looks so lean and mean in this one.

Getting air in this one.  I never stop appreciating her athleticism.

This gives you an idea of the lovely long distance we had for Black Jack to run between us.  Can you see her?  She's just a speck in this one, on her way to Bill.
I thought it might be a good idea for Bill to test out his regained strength and balance by doing a bit of boulder hopping.  He started out with a suave pose.  
Before long, he was virtually running over the rocks.  He jokes about this next shot but I have to say I was impressed.
Bill reaches the summit of the "Pile of Rocks Mountain" at Sunset Beach
Bill singing "Climb every Mountain" from "The Sound of Music".
When we reached the lagoon, reflections seemed almost Autumn-like.
Is that seagull about to land on my head?
I thought that making it to Lost Lagoon had been a milestone in Bill's recovery and we agreed that it might be wise to take a taxi home.  Later that day, Bill helped me pick up some groceries.  He accompanies me on almost every shopping excursion and below, was collecting some organic walnuts to put on our morning cereal.
So many bins, so little time.
Sunday, Jan.5
We took the aquabus across False Creek to Granville Island and then walked in beautiful weather to the Cambie Bridge, where we caught the ferry home.  These reflections were mesmerizing.  
The picture below shows the derivation of those reflections in the photo above.
Very rare capture of a bird flossing its beak.
As you can see, Bill's sense of humour is alive and well and his physical strength is nothing short of astounding.  I am concluding this post just before midnight on January 7th.  This afternoon we saw "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and this evening, Bill read to me for well over an hour from the new Kindle that we are both enjoying immensely.  (More about the books we are reading in another post.)  I think we have prepared ourselves as well as we can for the upcoming surgery.  I will do my best to keep the blog updated with Bill's progress.  Keep your positive thoughts coming in whatever form works best for you.  We surely do appreciate them and will add them to the bank balance of positivity  that we plan to draw on to meet this next challenge.   I am going to post this to Our World Tuesday, an inspiring blog meme that allows people from all over the world to share their stories.  Drop by to read some of them if you possibly can.  In the mean time, thank you so very much for stopping by.