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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Wear a mink coat underneath a bearskin coat, wrap your head in cashmere scarves, then head outdoors in the minus 40 weather wearing flip-flops on your bare feet. That's what it's like for the mighty Riven, my gorgeously coated Australian Shepherd with the most tender paws on the planet. Meanwhile the horribule varmint Piper, clad in her medium-thick coat, acknowledges no snow or ice and gleefully tears up and down the wintry landscape on her scrawny chicken legs. So not fair, Riven's whimpers seem to say.
Having lost most of my own insulation, I must say I've been doing a bit of whining during Calgary's current deep-freeze snap. I'm really not used to being this cold, ever. Or to double-bagging myself before heading outdoors. It brings back memories of living up North, and let me just say that I do not miss the winters up there one bit.
Two days to Mad Melvin: Dad's in Alberta this weekend, hurrah. We're going to endure a production of "Oliver!" at my niece Marilla's high school on Friday night, then possibly Dad will make it to Calgary before driving back to Vancouver Island. Not holding my breath on that last bit. Still, it should be fun to see Marilla performing onstage, and just damned wonderful to hang out with the old devil after the past few weeks.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Yahoo to the nth! Dad's CT scan showed no metastases, not even on the lung where the x-ray had indicated a spot. As he said, this is the best news he's had since this nightmare began. Of course, an MRI would be a better determination of what he's got, so I'm hoping he can get one asap. Guarded optimism is the mood not only of the day, but the foreseeable future. Way to go, Mad Melvin. Way to go.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Getting on. Mad Melvin goes in for a CT scan in Victoria today, so we should know more in the next few days. His chest x-rays showed a spot on one lung, likely a metastatic spot, so we hope the CT scan will give more of a clue of what he's facing.
The bleak coincidence isn't lost on me. Both my parents' cancers were discovered during operations for other conditions -- Mom for gallbladder, Dad for piles, to put it delicately -- and both are/were extremely rare cancers. Mom's cancer had been so advanced and had spread so far that she wasn't offered any treatment at all. Dad's situation is different, but we still don't know the whole picture. Yet I still have hope.
The delicate thing for me is knowing what to do next. Dad's never been comfortable with anyone putting emotional demands on him -- for example, showing distress about his condition in front of him, requiring him to comfort you. So I've told the relatives to hold off with the calls and visits for the time being, just to give him time to adjust to this shitty, shitty deal. But I keep thinking I should haul ass on a plane and go out for a weekend. I'll probably do this in the next couple of weeks, Dad permitting.
Yeah, yeah, life. I'm in early middle age, so it's not a complete surprise that this is also the time when one's parents are apt to hop the twig. I really hope Dad doesn't hop quite yet, because despite me being older and more mature, etc., there is no time of life at which this doesn't completely suck.
I had another unexpected gift: figuring out why Dad and I have had our troubles. We're too much alike. It's that simple. He always teases me about being just like my mom's family, but people in my mom's family have commented that I am more like Mad Melvin. More than just that we look alike (except my nose is cuter and I have more hair). Logically, the more you're alike, the better you should get along, but life gets in the way. But the annoyances, the hurt feelings, etc., are trivial compared to the elemental reality, that Dad and I love each other to bits.
Another whom I love to bits: me big bruddah, Lawrence. Happy birthday, as happy as it can be, you nearly old young coot.
Friday, November 17, 2006
More gifts. My brothers and sisters-in-law. After talking to my sisses-in-law last night, I was finally able to sleep. Up just once last night, and then only briefly, before sleeping the hell in and getting in to work over an hour late.
Another traffic peeve: Ooh, you people who wait until you're in the intersection before signalling for a turn! Spontaneity has its charms, but not for the people behind you. Boneheads.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Open, closed. Open. Falling asleep at desk at 4:00 p.m. Home for chores and dinner. Exhausted at 9:30. Up at 11:30. 2:30. 3:50. 5:25. At 5:55 a.m., took the mutts out for an hour-long walk, which was lovely and refreshing. Got back to the condo. Had a brief cry. Did some yoga. Ate breakfast and kept it down. File early morning under "Getting on with things."
Haircut (goodbye, Lyle Lovett) at lunch today. Came back to an update from Dad: bad news. Still, all is not known, and many options lie open. The waiting period is still on. E-mails from old friends have helped.'s 3:54 p.m. and I'm still conscious. Unusual.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Hey, gang. The waiting period is here, and of course I'm adapting to it with the usual Jane aplomb:
  • Waking up every two to three hours
  • Contemplating hauling up stakes and moving to the Island
  • Or staying here but getting an Air Canada Flight Pass (not cheap)
  • Barfing again, dammit
  • Feeling numb
  • Feeling that there's something unfilial about this emotional numbness
  • Realizing that no, it's not unfilial, it's just part of the waiting period
  • Wondering. Wondering. Freaking wondering.

Elsewhere in Janeland: BEES! That's right, the little darlings worked their fuzzy black and yellow bums off and I now have seven jars of Karo Bee Rooftop Honey sitting in my office. Some jars are spoken for -- and at least two are destined for the kitchen of El Condo Non Grande. But honey largesse is in my future, oh yes.
Monday, November 13, 2006
A Gift, in retrospect. My four days on the farm were idyllic in the extreme. I romped with the five riotous dogs, went riding, did the chicken chores, fed the livestock, went for long walks, watched the complete Season 1 DVD of "My Name is Earl," read, drank a lot of coffee, stayed up too late, napped in the afternoons in front of a crackling fire, made bread and soup...the absolutely perfect Jane vacation. One that will live forever in amber-tinted nostalgia. One that turns out to be a gift of how good life can be, now that I've had news that throws everything out of order while imposing a merciless perspective.
I laughed about it at the time: Mad Melvin really knows how to enjoy his birthday, because this year he's having his "fundament" operated on to take care of a few thromboidal veins, the Farries birthright. Heh heh heh, poor old Dad, not much of a birthday, eh.
And not much of a gift. The surgeon found a growth. We don't know all the details yet, and of course we can't know anything without the test results. Tests that are taking place over the next few weeks. So when I know, and with Dad's okay, I'll post details. Probably I've already violated Dad's privacy by posting this much, and if he or the family members who read this are upset by my writing, I apologize. Writing my thoughts down in this blog has become an automatic habit.
Years ago, after qualifying for general surgery, my brother Lawrence once quipped that bums were his bread and butter. He knows a great deal about the kind of condition that Dad may have, and his conversation with me was frank and stoic, as befitting a skilled, experienced surgeon. Certainly it was a great relief for Dad to be able to phone him and get some straight answers.
I talked to Dad today, a brief but friendly chat, and we discussed a few things like potential visits. I've never felt that Dad was comfortable discussing personal matters with me, or family matters either, so his straightforward attitude was a help today. He'd also e-mailed me yesterday with details of how he found out the disquieting news.
My mind is still reeling at the variety of changes that life provides, but at heart I feel quite hopeful for the old devil. I'm more worried about my brothers, to tell the truth. I worry about them a ton.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Lord willin' and the crick don't rise, all will go well with my latest farm-sitting expedition. This time I'm wrangling the various livestock of my pals Jean and Tyke, who are off to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. Dogs, cows, horses, chickens, and multiple cats...if they only knew what was in store for them. Of course I can hardly wait to get out there with my citified dawgs and go for long walks, bike rides, horse rides (weather permitting), and much too much sitting around reading and knitting.
The Accidental Night Owl: Now I find that I fall asleep easily at 10:00, but wake up morningly between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m. And I mean wide awake. Instead of lying under the covers, fretting, I've been getting up and pottering around the condo, making a cup of tea, and then trying the bed thing again, usually with success. This morning, however, sleep disdained to return, so I headed to the kitchen and baked Vin's recipe of Star Anise scones. Took them to the office later and watched them disappear. Next sleep-free interlude: pumpkin scones.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
You don't want to know. Eight days of a gastro-enteric virus, oh joy! "Betch've got the Norwalk virus," says a colleague. "It's in town, y'know." Three days of work, gone. Sicker than a spaniel, sicker than I can remember being for about 26 years. Today is my second full day back at work, and the first day I've felt mostly normal. What the hell WAS that, anyway?[Update: it was a rotavirus.]
Hail to thee, Tea Bags: Despite the malaise, the long-awaited traditional Afternoon Tea took place at El Condo Non Grande on Sunday afternoon. If Vinnie and Karyn hadn't been there, probably it would have had to be cancelled, but they rallied around their wilting chum and turned the afternoon into a gracious success. Vin's cucumber sandwiches were so good I was able to eat two, the first solid food in a couple of days. [Shuttup, Farries. Shuttup about your stupit bug now. Don't bore folks.] The company was charming, the treats were irresistible, and Karyn spoiled us all with the best tea in the world, left over from her former teahouse in Three Hills. We toyed with calling the gathering "Tea Club," although I was pushing for "Brew Crew" at first until I thought of "Tea Bags." Long may the genteel and well-fed tradition continue.