Sunday, 28 December 2014

the good, the bad and the ugly...

 ...more or less.


I love Tofino...summer winter and fall.  The expansive South Chesterman Beach, the peacefulness and the exquisite beauty; we are so very fortunate to live on this beautiful Island. We arrived back in Victoria yesterday after a peaceful and exhilarating 4 1/2 days; the piles of laundry and the square glass plate heaped with shells and other bits from the sea, remind me. Otherwise, this day, filled with business and traffic, would have me forget.

The weather was October-beautiful and my frantic Victoria search for rain pants proved unnecessary. Even I saw humour in the rain gear hunt: first searching MEC, Capital Iron and Robinson's and finally buying a kids size 14 at Patagonia, overpriced and way too big.  The next day, while buying some hats and scarves for people living on the street,  I literally bumped into a pair of like-new MEC rain pants at a thrift store. Half-price, reduced from $4 to $2! (I returned the others)

I spent the days in Tofino doing just what I love best: walking on the sandy beach.   Gum boots instead of bare feet.  Smelling the ocean, and seeing the patterns in the water and in the sky.

                        Taking photographs and gathering shells.

Enter the more or less 'bad'. Because my attention was divided between shell-collecting and photography, my fingers dropped a grain or two of damp sand onto the lens of my most favourite Panasonic DMCZS30.  I didn't realize at first, until the automatic lens wouldn't close completely.  Nor would it open fully. The sand was truly imbedded. I warned Brian that I would be in deep mourning and severe upset for at least a day, so to be prepared.

I have said before, how my camera helps me see more clearly, to find texture and intricate detail.  To notice the soul in things. Without it, I seemed to see less, not more.

Moving towards 'ugly', this morning I spent over an hour at London Drugs looking for a new camera.  As is the way with technology, every year when a new model comes out, the old is discontinued.  Never mind that the ZS35 is inferior to its predecessor in every way and that the brand new ZS40 has some serious limitations. The small cameras I saw with better lenses had less zoom capability.  Not suitable for me. So, in the end, I took a camera home on a 15 day trial. (Panasonic DMCFZ200)  It takes beautiful photos.  Absolutely. It is heavy and definitely not pocket or purse size. The really ugly bit is that my arthritic thumb is aching from just holding it at the store.

I will go on a photo shoot trial tomorrow-  ironically just after an early morning appointment at the Arthritis Centre with an occupational therapist, who will fit me for a thumb brace!

These photographs are from our first morning in Tofino
If anyone has a used Panasonic DMCZS30 for sale please let me know!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

with 'the handicap of sight..

...never rely on what you can see.  Not everything can be seen.'

Pew, who is blind, talking to the child Silver, in lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

Saturday, 6 December 2014


The convergence of four Events in five days was the basis for this post;  like a dot-to-dot children's puzzle, they connected to create a circle so obvious, it was difficult to ignore. It's as if the molecules bumping into me were saying 'Do you get it?' and then a bit louder, 'Do you get it now?'

The occurrences were:
-The play '17 Stories'  by Caroline Russell-King (Sunday)
-Brian Andreas's wood block message (Tuesday)
-An unexpected compliment (Wednesday)
-Distribution Day at St John the Divine Church (Friday)

Zelda Dean is the director of 17 Stories, and the force behind this series of fast-paced vignettes concerned with loss.  She had long dreamed of launching a Jewish theatre group in Victoria, and Bema Productions' inaugural play is intense and deeply moving.

 Loss through suicide and disappearance, loss of a relationship and the tragic loss of childhood and identity experienced by First Nations children as they were forced into the Residential Schools.  Loss in numerous voices, speaking out and being heard.

As the week continued, the theme of loss was woven into my life

Event Two was seeing a quote that Brian Andreas, the creator of Story People, posted on his site. The wood block print read:

So, when will the critic on my shoulder tumble and be booted aside? Andreas says 'NOW'.  oh.

I guess this time around I won't know much about history or spelling or be able to count without using my fingers.  I won't be a marine biologist or sing in tune. Though I am creative and take chances, I certainly won't be tall.  I am energetic, often loud. I don't ease my way in, bounce or butt might be closer to the truth. I am honest, compassionate and generous. (oh my god, can I really publish this?) I am not as patient as I had hoped I'd be, but I'm kinder. I am true to my friends and becoming a wee bit more tolerant of people whose opinions are opposed to mine.  A wee bit. I am also older and wrinklier and definitely more decrepit than I could ever have imagined.  Yes, Andreas, loosening my hold on 'fantasy Jackie', I am on my way to become who I am.

I will keep Wednesday's Event in my pocket to pull out every now and then. In line for the buffet at a private club, myself and two friends were chatting. A gentleman, perhaps in his 60s,  turned around and spoke to me: 'Your necklace is very beautiful.' ('thank you') and he continued  'and it looks wonderful with what you're wearing.' ('thank you')  Later, at our table, my friend commented on this, saying how unusual it was for a male stranger to comment in that way. 'He was hitting on you!' she said with delight.

I guess he didn't notice that my hair was growing thin and that I needed some sort of face cream to hide blotches and the circles under my eyes. Just two hours earlier, staring in the mirror, I had confronted the loss of my youth. And then a stranger's compliment; a gift to me as I am now.

The fourth Event was at St John the Divine Church, where I volunteer on distribution days, at their food bank.  Clients choose approximately 15 non-perisable food items and help themselves to fresh produce.  They may come only once during the month. At St. John's, they are welcomed and honoured, however, our good humour and politeness does not give these men and women the money they need to end their unwanted dependency on 'charity'.

When I sneak a second thin roll of toilet paper into a woman's shopping bag, I am furious that she needs to benefit from my stealth in order to take care of her most basic needs. I apologize when we run out of peanut butter or coffee when there are people still awaiting their turn.

However much I try, my graciousness does not give food security to the people using the food bank, nor does it undo the loss of dignity that poverty imposes.

Loss comes in many forms.

 *see the article by Peggy Wilmot in the Times Colonist Comment section, Thursday, December 4.  'Food banks a Band-Aid on a gaping wound'