by Jan

Our karma for posting all the flower buds coming up in January with bright sun shining days, is biting us in the bum.

There’s at least seven inches of snow in our front yard.
The hummingbirds are furious with me in the mornings for allowing their food to freeze. And while I get to them sooner than later…. It is what it is.

I had a bit of a melt down, and started crying in gratitude, when I heard about the chaos in Horseshoe Bay the other day. The storm caused havoc and BC Ferries cancelled several sailings, leaving stranded passengers, and so many plans in a mess. I was so glad we were not part of that shit show.

My gratitude soars that the hard part for us, is over. We are on the right side of healing. (Forgive me as I do use the “Royal We”. Ken is the main player in all this — but “we” are fucking doing it.)

It is day six post surgery and progress is being made. Ken is to take it easy for another week, and the good news is he can.

My dad used to say, “It’s not bragging if it’s true!”  And still, I know I’m bragging when I say, I’m a super trooper! The house is warm, we are fed, chores are being taken care of, nurse Jan is on call, and don’t tell anyone, but I am planning my escape!

When we are finally on a new topic, and Ken is back to his handy and handsome self – I plan on stealing away all by myself for a bit. I’d like to go somewhere nice, with room service, massages, and have some sort of spa day.

Well, a girl does dream.

I am happy to report, that I’m back in the sewing room.

I had an idea and actually made a bit of a plan. So far the quilt is as beautiful as I thought it would be. The only problem with this quilt is …. It is so boring to work on!

I’m making the same square over and over and over. Totally old school quilting.

Alas, I see a pattern here — no pun intended —

I like the process of creativity and life. The product is besides the point.

Lately though, everything we are doing has been a process with the final product in mind.

While we do the next right thing… be it super hard, painful, and at times boring, The end product of good health is what we are really focused on.

Like a pretty quilt, it is a fine pay off indeed.


by Jan

Time is a funny thing.

In 1983, Ken and I stood next to each other, and pledged to love each other, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad, for as long as we both shall live.•

I don’t think, we really knew what we were in for, but I’m so glad we did that.

The last 36 years have flown by much faster, than the last three weeks have. And, last Tuesday was one of the longest days in my life, but it wasn’t as long as the hour, it took me to drive to the ferry last Sunday!

Einstein has some theory about the relativity of it all.

Lately though, time has been a bit of a blur for us.

While some hours lately have lasted for days, the last few weeks have passed in minutes. It’s all very confusing.

Was just October when Ken told me to get in the car, as we need to go to the ER?

That trip started us on this adventure, yet we got side tracked from the main problem, when they found a tumour in Ken’s bladder, and chose to focus on that.

That was a good thing, but little did we know what was ahead of us.

I remember Dr. Hoag asking Ken if he would be open to have surgery on his prostate at some point in the future, then he prescribed some medications and dropped the subject, until all hell broke loose in January.

Looking back, we were pretty ignorant to what was in front of us. So much has happened in a relative short period of time.

In just five short months, Ken’s had two surgeries. We’ve been to four different hospitals, and seen six different doctors. There have been a buttload of tests, scans, prescriptions, TAP forms, catheters, sleepless nights, ER runs, worry, relief, fear, comfort, friends, snow, sunshine and solutions.

Now, we are definitely on the right side of recovery, and our time at UBC hospital seems like a million years ago, instead of the other day.

Honestly, I look forward to a 24 hour day again.

• I’d also like to point out that in our marriage –  in health is better, that in sickness. The richer is more fun, than poorer, and the good times are way better, than the bad.
AND – I’d sign up for every day of the last 36 years, again in a heartbeat.


by Jan

My friend Leslie reminded me of something Master Wen Mei Yu said to us years ago.

It was something like:
“The most important things are breathing, peeing, pooping, drinking, sleeping, eating (in that order)– if you can’t do those, your life is bad.  If you can do all those, it’s all good.”

Today… It’s all good!


by Jan

I read a thing that mentioned, something like 80% of the people, feel they are better than average drivers.

Math is not my strong suit, yet even I know that doesn’t add up.

I admit to being one of the left over 20%. I am a good driver, my record is clean, but I’m not comfortable driving.

I do not like having the power and responsibility that is needed to control a car. And the trust I hold for other drivers is well below average.

I’ve not always been this way — but over the years, more and more, I’m less and less comfortable dealing with cars.

I liked having a small car with little power. I think other drivers don’t expect much from little cars, and will happily go around, without shaking Mr. Middle Diget out the window. However, today we have a good and reliable Subaru capable and expected to keep up. (my own fault)

Over the years Ken and I do our fair share of household chores, by doing what we are better at than the other. I’m a better cook and bottle washer, Ken is better at hauling wood, and opening peanut butter jars. Oh, and he drives!

The last few weeks things have temporarily changed around here. I’ve been hauling wood, not eating peanut butter, and I’m driving!

Living on the coast it hasn’t been too bad. We only have one busy road from Langdale to Eggmont. If I do drive — it is to and from the store, a twelve minute round trip adventure.

Last week, I drove to and from Vancouver. No problem. Hands, at 10 and two, shoulders on my ears, I was on high alert, and did a fine job. I even went over the speed limit to make the ferry cut off by five minutes!

Today, the next right thing is to get to the ferry again, (a 35 minute drive) then across West Van on the highway, over the bridge, down through Kits, and out to UBC.

We’ve got all day to get there!

It’s fucking snowing!

No laughter from the peanut gallery, please. I know most of North America is in a polar vortex, deep in snow, and cold as hell. I know in comparison this is nothing, but here on the coast we usually see the first signs of spring in January, with buds popping up all over.

Still, history repeats and in February – it fucking snows.

The next right thing — Get out of my way. We are doing this!


by Jan

Ken and I are fortunate enough to have Patti and Jessie show up every two weeks to give our house a good scrubbing. We are extremely grateful for them and the work they do. I did warn Patti yesterday, that she may need a hazmat suit as, the last few weeks have been, what I can call, different from our normal!

Ken has been feeling better, so I thought we’d get out of their way, and get some fresh air. I packed up Ken and Cathy, and we took a drive up the coast.

There is a cute little thrift store in Madeira Park, so we putzed around in there for a bit.

Ken then waited in the car as I headed off to the store to pick up some groceries. He’s making progress everyday, yet, there is no need to push it. Plus, I can zoom around a store in no time —grab what we need and be done.

As I’m picking up the last items at the store, I look up and there’s Ken standing in front of me. He says, “Guess what I have?”

Oh shit… my mind went to the worse place possible. Cathy is giving him trouble, he’s in  pain again, what???

“I have surgery on Tuesday!”

There was a cancellation! He was bumped to the front of the line!! Woot-woot!

I swear we did a jig right there in the store.

Then, reality kicked in…

When we told Christine at Dr. Paterson’s office that we were flexible, and wanted on the cancellation list, we realized we need to start flexing right now!

No problem!

We came home, made a few phone calls, secured a place to stay right at UBC, cancelled a few of our own appointments, packed and well… Let’s go!

We’ll head in tomorrow.

Now, while we are so friggen grateful for the speedy care. The fact that Ken is going in for surgery is not lost on me. Yes, this is the next right thing, and surgery is not to be taken lightly. Yikes!

Ken will still have some recovery time ahead of him. I can continue being chief cook and bottle washer, as well as fire keeper, wood hauler, driver and nurse. But, we see the light at the end of this tunnel.

It won’t be long now that we will say, “Buh bye and so long” to Ken’s “friend” Cathy and we will return to our Parker “normal.”

Once again, I salute the public heath system of Canada. Knowing full well, we will not get a bill for any of this care is just grand. And seeing first hand, the fallacy of wait times being the price you pay for “free” health care is even better.

Let me also give a quick shout out to the poor guy who, for whatever reason, needed to cancel his spot in the queue, making it possible, for Ken to step in.

On we go – we’re doing this!


by Jan

One right after the other.
This time of the year is full of memories of the heart for me.

Me+Kim. I miss her beyond words.

Linda, taught me about Rhinos. (They aren’t afraid to charge!)

Brother Bill.

And then… there was Peet.

Today, a shout out to a few I’ve loved; who died at the end of January, beginning of February and middle of March.

I remember with love.


by Jan

There was a shift in the action yesterday as we finally got a date for surgery for Ken. I admit, my shoulders dropped a little and we were able to exhaled. I slept a solid 10 hours last night! I told my friend, I never even heard Ken last night, so he is either fine or dead — I promise to check on him soon either way.*

It was a big day for us in the city. Our small town nature was in full force and we took taxi’s to and from the hotel to the medical centre instead of dealing with the traffic and construction and looking for parking that driving in Vancouver entails.

As most of you know, I’m spoiled and rarely drive, so Ken and I decided as long as we are doing “hard,” the things we can do easy, we will. Taxi’s are easy.

As a side note: I surprised myself by driving 110 on the upper levels highway, hell bent for home when it was over. I’m glad to say, we made the ferry with 5 minutes to spare! (Again, shoulders down!)

The medical centre we went to yesterday is incredible. Our appointment was for 8 a.m. and I worried we’d be waiting outside for the doors to open! Ha! The place was buzzing, full of people, and going full tilt by the time we arrived at 7:30 a.m. I wondered if they had been open all night.

Before Ken could finish his paperwork, the latest doctor we’ve been referred to, call us in 20 minute before our appointed time! Nice!

Long story short – Ken is a perfect candidate for a particular laser surgery that Dr. Paterson will perform on Ken’s mega large prostrate The prognosis is good and risks are minimal. The hard part now is we wait.

I found it interesting to hear the doctor talk about the “public heath sector”. That’s what he called our Health Care system. Public health. I guess it makes sense, I just never thought of it like that.

Anyway – Dr. Paterson said, because public health is political, surgery time is now going to those with hip and knees needs. He said the back lash of wait times for those surgeries have finally caught up to the politics of the times, so more life threatening surgeries like bladder cancers , etc. Can have a wait time up to 6 months.

Now, while Ken’s surgery is a priority, his situation is not life threatening, (Whew) still the best date for the procedure we could get was March 5th!

I did blatantly try to bribe the receptionist who schedules things with a quilted shopping bag. And while I think she would have done it anyway, she did put Ken name on the cancellation list so, if by chance someone does cancel, he could get moved up. We will keep a bag packed just in case.

We use public health in Canada and right or wrong, it is swayed by politics. I will say again, how grateful we are to be in Canada. I cannot imagine what any of this would cost if we were in the states.

Yes, we need to wait now, yet with all Ken has been though the last few weeks, this is really the first long queue we have been in.

Life is good — even when it is hard.

*Ken’s up and at it!


by Jan

That is how I tend to answer the question – How are you and Ken today? We are better than some, not as good as others. We are certainly not as good as we like either. Please note – I use the royal “we” all the time now.

It’s not a secret, but it’s also hard to broadcast and write about – Ken’s having some serious health troubles.

The reason it is hard for me to write about and post is, when I tell anyone, I then need to stand in the love offered. Then there are the questions, concerns and suggestions that comes full force back to us and, honestly, I lack the juice needed to interact much.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, I’m not. We are very fortunate to have so many generous friends who care. We are so very lucky in how well loved we are. We love you all so very much. I also know I would hate it if you didn’t respond!

I find it hard to keep everyone in the loop. I know I could do it here, yet it’s difficult to write and concentrate. Ken will be okay in the long run, but right now, it’s rough.

This coming Tuesday, will be the third hospital and fifth doctor, Ken’s seen in the last 11 days.

There have already been a torrent of ER visits, tests, scans, blood work, as well as, a buttload of medications, and excruciating pain to go with sleepless nights. Ken’s been poked and prodded and sent to this guy and that. He’s wearing a catheter and has such a relationship with it — he’s named it Cathy. We both look forward to the day they quit hooking up and Cathy is out of our lives!

We are told that the next doctor we are lined up to see, will be the one who can finally really help. It looks like prostate surgery is in order, and this particular doctor can do it with a laser and not cut Ken open.

Thanks for your support and good wishes. Forgive me when I either don’t get back to you, or when I do it is with a copy and paste update. We are doing the next right thing each day and more will be revealed.

I think of all the tests Ken has had, the nights in the ER and hospital, there are the doctors visits, and the amount of care and attention he has received, and more to come  — and I give a HUGE shout out to Tommy Douglas and the Canadian health care system. AND, thank YOU for your love and concern.


by Jan

While looking for inspiration and a topic to write about today, I came across this golden oldie from the Today’s Step vault.

If at your first qigong class the instructor said to you, “With regular practice of this art, you may experience some serious side effects, including a good night sleep, better digestion, lower blood pressure, and stress reduction. You may even experience a powerful self healing, you could meet wonderful friends, and enjoy the harmony of your body, mind and spirit”.
Would you try it?

Even though, I don’t teach much these days, I do have a wealth of experience, as well as, the hubris and habit of telling others what they “should or could” do to make life better.

I also know the answer to the above question is quite often, No!

Practice is a bitch, and change is hard. Especially if it’s not my idea.

I used to think showing up was the important part. But, now I’m not so sure.

I don’t think I’m that different from any one else but, having someone else tell me what to do is the worst. Especially, if it is “Good for you.”

The battle cry of, “Don’t tell me what to do, and you’re not the boss of me,” is rarely heard from adults, but often seen.

If I don’t want to do something, I will nod and smile, then silently turn away and not show up.

I might make a half-hearted attempt when someone I love points out — how good X,Y, or Z will be for me. And, believe me, I know, I really know, that with lessons, and practice, the world opens up.

Yet, even when you show me all the benefits, even if you make a good case for what I should do, — Even then, I might still say no.

Maybe it’s my age and experience, maybe I’m stubborn or silly, but more and more, I notice the real pay off and reason to practice anything, comes, when it’s our own idea.


by Jan

Pajarito Mountain in Los Alamos has some of the states best skiing ever. I would say the hill is second only to Taos as far as challenge and beauty. It’s where I learned to snow ski.

I never took lessons, my dad would tell us to ski behind an on-going lesson, eavesdrop on the instructor, then do what they said. More than anything, we just let loose and skied. Being young, what could happen? (Plenty did, but that’s another story.)

The way I remember a day of skiing, was to ride the T-bar to the top of the mountain, (we didn’t have  chair lift in those days), then start on one side of the mountain, and ski down each and every slope. When you had hit them all, the day was done and we went home.

I remember, some runs were exciting and challenging, some were easier than others, some had moguls, some were super steep and others, almost flat. It didn’t matter, we skied them all.

When Ken and I met, we went skiing together in Colorado. When we got off the chair, I went to the first run on the right and Ken said, “No way — that’s a black diamond run!” I didn’t know what he was talking about.

Yesterday, I took my new compass and map and went hiking in the West Sechelt matrix. On the map besides the names of each trail I saw the marking. A blue square, a black diamond, even a double black diamond. Today, I know what these mean, but because I rarely look at maps, I don’t paid attention to them. I just know some trails are easier than others.

I went on a double black diamond trail yesterday.

A while ago, I told Becky, I couldn’t keep up with her when we hiked up and up! I needed to hike on “easier” trails, and she has since, accommodated me.

Well, I wasn’t in 10 minutes yesterday, before I was literally on my hands and knees crawling up a mossy trail, and saying to myself WTF!

I kept going and started talking out loud to myself. “Easy does it. Take a rest, watch your step. OMG! This is crazy steep!” At one point I started laughing — remembering Ken all those years ago — saying, “No way, that’s a black diamond.”

This particular trail was not really set up for hikers, it was more of an extreme mountain bike trail. It had trestles, and bridges, and all sorts of obstacles, that no sane person would walk on, much less ride a bike on. And yet…

Becky said you have to climb for the views, and oh my, as I took a lot of breaks, I had to agree, the view was incredible.

I used my compass several times during the hike. I wanted to get my bearings. I figured out north. I saw my place on the map. Yay me! Then I came to a choice on the trail. Another super crazy steep slope, or a logging road. I checked the map, and couldn’t find my place, so I tried to get the google to show me exactly where I was with the google maps thing. No signal.

I choose the over grown logging road. My legs had had enough of the double black diamond shit!

As I hiked on the road, deep in the bush, I had to jump over flowing streams, and wade through one. I duck under fallen branches, and kept the bell around my neck ringing, to let any wild life know I was there. (I also sing when hiking alone.)

At one point I realized I had one of those “runners highs.” Not that I was running, but being out in nature, on such a lovely day, in such a lovely place. My endorphins had kicked in and were coursing through me. It was … nice!

Back at the car, I talked to two young men on bikes, and asked them about the trail I was just on. They both laughed and said, that isn’t a hiking trail — that’s a double black diamond mountain bike trail.

My legs are sore this morning. I’ll probably take an “blue square” hike today!