Friday, March 20, 2009

From the waterfall to the desert

I know that I'll feel more like me again, in Weyburn, with its sunny days and semiarid climate. I was thinking this morning that at the moment I feel like one of these giant over watered coastal coniferous trees, top-heavy and ponderous. They grow huge, but have hardly any root system. They do not need roots, because roots are something a tree sends down to find water. When water is plentiful, successful trees just don't bother. However, when a big wind blows they fall right over.

By contrast, prairie trees are sort of scritchy and shrubby and short. The wind blows all the time, so the wild ones mostly just manage to cling to the least windy sides of coulees and ravines, and often appear tilted. But they have huge and extensive root systems. They are stubbornly alive - they clutch the earth with everything they have, hold the soil together, seek out every last drop of water no matter how deep they have to dig, and are very very hard to blow over, or even pull out with heavy equipment. I'm by nature and up-bringing much more a prairie tree than I am a coastal tree.

It will certainly be novel stimuli to re-learn to view a rain as a welcome relief from sun, instead of how it is now, the complete opposite.

Everything is moving fast at the Weyburn end - my mother located a condo for sale in her building, which will be perfect. Knowing her, I doubt she'll let anyone else have even a fighting chance at it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Oozing toward the move

The process of decluttering seems endless, but progress has definitely been made. I now have three empty and mostly cleaned up rooms, awaiting painting. I have thrown out massive volumes of accumulated life detritus. The Canadian Diabetes Association's Clothesline pickup service must be liking me these days. We have dated regularly for more than a month. They have carted off more than a dozen, perhaps as many as twenty huge trash bags filled with what were once treasures and may well be for someone else, "clothing and small household items."

In the end, no one wanted to buy my edited furniture within the time frame I had for selling it, so I had it hauled away. It worked out better this way - I had one potential "buyer" come by to see an antique drop leaf desk I'd been using as a phone center, but it turned out she was not interested in "buying" at all - she already had a condo full of furniture and enjoyed going to strangers' homes just to stare at their belongings. This creeped me (an introvert) out so much that I decided to circle my wagons and simply jettison.

And what a difference a few days can make.

Up until Monday, I was still thinking I'd be moving to Barrie, Ontario.

I phoned my mother, age 85 and holding, on her birthday on Tuesday. A church-going Catholic, she has always considered herself to have been especially lucky to have been born on St. Patrick's Day (no matter that she's not Irish, but is a mainly Polish-French mixture). I've mentioned her before, here. About her being Catholic, she might be the only Catholic woman on the planet who has exhibited apparent life-long immunity to what is supposedly universal catholic guilt.

Anyway, I made one of my obligatory phone calls to her on her birthday and found myself asking her what she thought of the idea of me moving to the city she's living in; Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

Clearly the idea has been rolling around in my undermind for a long time. So it finally emerged.

There is background to this: a low hum of discontent all my life with our relationship, a "breakup" with her about 20 years ago, no resolution but a definite truce.. probably all falling under ordinary Mother/Daughter life-long tension. Anyway, I consider myself a grown-up now, and she doesn't seem nearly as big or scary or mean or unfair as she used to when I was a child stuck on a farm with her as my only companion.

My needs are simple. I need time to write, a sunny window, mornings that are clear instead of cloudy, a place where I can live clutter-free in every sense, cheaply, without necessarily having to go out to work just to support a business in order to have it support me back. I need an external environment that feels safe, unlike Vancouver these days with it's gangland shootings at the current rate of about one per day.

Weyburn is this funny little city in the southern part of Saskatchewan where you can see nothing for miles and miles except ... miles and miles. Oh, and a huge upside down bowl of transparent blue sky filled with sunshine most of the year. I must not forget to mention the extraordinary skyscape available to one's photon-starved eyeballs in southern Sask.

It has been the crucible for a few prominent Canadians - Tommy Douglas, former premier of the province and architect of Canada's health care system, and W.O. Mitchell, beloved and famous Canadian humorist and author. I met both of them personally at various times. Tommy Douglas visited our home when I was a child. My father, who rarely got excited about anything, loved this man and his vision, and would have taken a bullet for him. I met W.O. Mitchell later in life, at a dinner party in the home of his nephew. I remember that no one else in the room (about 10 people altogether, maybe) could get a word in edgewise, but that no one seemed to mind. He went on at considerable length about the enormous size of earthworms in Calgary.

Weyburn is also somewhat famous for being the location of a huge mental hospital. In the 1950's it was a scary place where someone we knew worked, I think as an orderly; for some reason our family was friendly with this man, Ab Ruler, and his family. One time he took us all up a shady treed laneway to the "mental hospital" and showed us around a little. We even watched a movie there, The Ten Commandments. The hospital was able to house 900 patients, a capacity equal to a tenth of the entire population of the city, a size that seems very disproportionate to the actual incidence of mental illness in the general population, then and now. It must have represented a collection center for all mental illness patients in Western Canada east of the mountains, and a source of income for many people during the desperate dust-bowl 1930's. LSD experiments were conducted there, in the 50's, 60's... It seems the place was closed as late as 1971.

Anyway, back to the phone call.

I found these words tumbling out of my mouth: "What do you think of the idea of me moving to Weyburn, Mom?" followed quickly thereafter by "I don't want to live with you."

She was taken aback a bit, but very quickly found her footing and sounded delighted with the idea. She started planning immediately. There were condos for sale up the street. She knew a real estate agent I could contact. She knew a spa in town, maybe they'd like to hire me if I wanted to work. The new current under the surface, a swift clear current of feeling, one I can ride until it's over, is that I'm the Oldest Daughter, and can help her remain independent, something she cares desperately about, until it's time for her to make an exit. This current feels congruent with the gravitational pull I have anyway of moving further east, back out from under the cloud, fog, rain and grey dreariness of the Wet Coast.

So, it looks like some day soon I'll be living in a small city, pop. 10,000 and holding, with average age that I think must be older than middle-aged, a speed limit of 40 km. Back to the roots. Arriving "home," just a bit burnt out, with nothing but myself, a laptop, a couple of flash drives, a few special books, in a position (I hope) to be able to take a year off, soak up sun and do what I need to do next.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Progress toward "impeccablization"

Yesterday I managed to get a lot done: I figured out how to post to Craig's list and supplied some pictures to it of furniture I have to clear out in order to attractively "stage" my "home" for a quick and favourable sale. I started cleaning off a large mirrored door I once painted to match the wall, in order to make the hallway not look like such a long tunnel. I still like the shortened look more, but realize the home buyer might not enjoy the prospect of de-painting the mirror some day. Anything to leave no trace of me behind...

I "swabbed the deck" - meaning, I physically hauled several large flower and plant pots and balcony furniture down to the dumpster (from where people eventually made them their own), and washed the railing and floor. It's an extensive balcony, wrapping all the way around a corner.

I think it's been at least 6 years since I've touched that balcony. I used to like to keep a garden on it, sit out amidst the flowers on a plastic chair beside a plastic table, sipping a coffee in the morning and watching bees do their thing, carve out and maintain a peaceful urban oasis. One day I found a package of cigarettes out there. It appeared that someone who had no business on my balcony had climbed up to hang out, enjoy my second-floor garden, or maybe try to break in, had become interrupted, and left abruptly without actually smoking. The cigarettes were a mystery, in that neither I nor the roommate I had at the time smoked. Whoever it was (and it could not have been anyone who belonged on my balcony, in my urban oasis), the experience managed to put me off gardening entirely. From that point on the garden was never restored. I never enjoyed hanging out on the balcony anymore, knowing that it was too exposed, too vulnerable to feel like my private refuge.

Mold grows amazingly well in this climate, and there was no shortage of it, clinging impossibly to even shiny painted surfaces. It was a bit of a dirty mess, but nothing that several pails of warm water with bleach, a scrub brush, and some springtime energy couldn't handle. Now it's spotless and I feel victorious over that part of my tiny world.

Being very active all day like this is certainly easier than it would have been a year ago, when I weighed 25 pounds more.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Adrienne and my cranky leg

I think I lucked out at Sherwood Physiotherapy... a few weeks ago someone dropped by and left off a resumé. Once in awhile people leave resumés, usually for a reception job, but this one was from a PT. I checked it over and liked what I saw. New grad but a mature thirty-two years of age, already through one career as a professional dancer, experience with sports injuries, has already done a research project.

It seemed curious that she would pick my practice to apply to, so I gave her a call to find out more. We decided to meet so I could show her the clinic, then go for coffee. Turns out she wanted to work from my space in order to be convenient for all the dancers that live in the 'hood, where yoga and dance studios are everywhere. She had done her homework, had moved into the neighbourhood three weeks earlier, and decided to aim for employment at my place, which is the only PT clinic for blocks and blocks.

To call it a "clinic" is a bit presumptuous of me... It's more like a room in a nice office suite. A non-PT practitioner also has a practice in that suite, who I get along with quite well. Our practices have no overlap, other than we share the cost of a receptionist. My practice is one-on-one, carefully teasing the pain out of people while accompanying them for one or a few sessions.

It was dreadfully slow in Feb, so there was nothing for her to pick up, but this week is going better. She will take over my normal Wednesday off. See patients. Help pay some of the overhead.

We have been busy getting some promo material together, chatting about pain, treatment... I loaned her some books, the treatment manual I developed. Today she tried out some manual therapy on me.

Well, all I've got to say is the woman has hands on her that are like butter. My cranky right leg (which has been cranky for over 50 years) very much liked what she did to it. It's still working with what she was able to get it to let go of. It feels like it has little happy faces mixed with 7-up bubbles running through its vessels instead of blood. Walking home it felt like it was looser, stronger, longer and didn't get as tired as the left leg did, so I know my S1 cortex must have neuroplasticized a fair bit.

My cranky leg/ankle foot stems from a sprain at age 5. Age 5. I vaguely remember that it hurt for what felt like months. It was never handled, never cared for, never treated.

Lucky for me, I have the right mix of receptors or something, because it never gave rise to CRPS or fibromyalgia or anything. Most of the time it hasn't "hurt", exactly. It just felt shrunken and tight, like the antigravity suit was a bit too tight in the leg zone. No amount of yoga ever helped. Nothing I learned to do (to or with it, on my own) in over 50 years, almost 40 of which was spent being a PT, helped. OMPT certainly didn't help - in fact it made it hurt a lot for awhile. I saw a massage therapist who helped the pain, but my sense of it feeling "wrong" remained. I figured out a lot of my imaginative tape techniques by using my own leg to practice on.

This is all a big lead up to what happened today. I had let Adrienne watch me treat a few people, with their permission of course.. so today she wanted to practice a tarsal tunnel treatment, and knee treatment. Long story short, the work she did felt remarkable, and still does; all the Barrett Dorko characteristics of correction (fondly referred to as C's of C) - warmth, softening, effortless(!) movement (quite a bit of that - twitching, pulsing etc.), surprise (I've not had those sorts of results from other practitioners who've worked on me) - developed during the session. It was like my leg had been waiting for this for a very long time and was more than ready to have its nerves treated instead of its bones and muscles and joints.

So, I'm sold on Adrienne. So's my leg. Here's a little write-up about her that I attached to my website. I feel really good about the prospect, when the time comes, of leaving my practice, and all the people who've come to it for 15 years, in her very, very good hands.