Friday, May 30, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Photo of Self


This week's theme for Photo Hunt is a photo of yourself (or a part of yourself if you are shy). Usually I don't post recent photos of myself on this blog, for obvious reasons. While not recent, this one I like and I call it my funeral photo. It's a very candid snapshot taken at an engagement dinner for a friend and for some reason it is me. I was in my late forties, still with copper-brown coloured hair, probably retouched a bit, still with a face covered in freckles which were the bane of my existence when I was a teenager.

Anyway I have told everyone I want this photo displayed at my funeral, plus I want Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes. I'll maybe get around to planning the rest someday. Much later I hope.

Sorry the quality is not brilliant. It did not scan as well as I had hoped. Click
to enlarge if you wish to see those freckles!


Thursday, May 29, 2008


This post is more for me that my blog readers but in case you are interested the commemorative afternoon tea for my friend who died was a great success. Eighteen people in all gathered to remember him, while some colleagues from the Faculty of Pharmacy sent a lovely floral decoration which was a total surprise and took pride of place on the dining room table. I was too busy to take photos of the table set for tea, but the photo below was a collage put together by the "old scientist" for the event. They are photos from the time my friend was four years old until several years ago.

I used the photo on the bottom right for his obituary in the newspapers. In a suit, as almost always, looking relaxed and happy, I thought this represented him very well.

Almost everything now is in the hands of the trust company. All that remains of this family is in a small public storage locker and will be sold off, as were the contents of his house several years ago. Everything was carefully appraised and auctioned off and frankly it brought a very small amount of money in comparison to what it all had cost. Several things I bought myself since I knew that they meant something to him, especially his grandfather clock, which he carefully wound each week and kept in excellent working condition until his later years. I bought it for my son and we had it repaired and now it has pride of place in his home. He remembers it from when he was young and we used to visit my friend's house. I also bought a large oil seascape by a local artist which now hangs in my dining room. He loved this painting and I could bring myself to let it go to the auction.

The other day I gave the trust company officer his Rolex watch which somehow I ended up keeping for him. His initials are engraved on the back, which actually lowers its value quite remarkably, but this was his last personal possession. I put his framed degrees and framed awards in the storage locker and they too will be discarded along with the photos and the family bible. Almost every trace of my friend and his wife, who was my friend, will disappear.

We spend so much of our life acquiring things. But we can't take them with us and no one else values them the way we do. When we no longer have use for them they are discarded or sold to someone else for a song, to someone who sees only the bargain and not the special meaning this object had for us. I am realistic enough to realize that even my children will not value some of my possessions as I do. They are just things that appealed to me or someone, a treasured friend perhaps, gave to me and thus gave the item meaning. So that's why now I tell people, don't give me anything I have to dust, just consumables thank you. I already have too much stuff which will go for a song or into the landfill when I am gone.

So the above photo collage and the two photos below are all that are left of my two friends besides the items I mentioned.

My friend at 19, in 1943, in his RCAF uniform. The other is his wife, my dear friend, in her fifties. This photo usually hangs on my bedroom wall.

But I have one last thing left to do. When my friend's house was being cleared out of the "junk" we found his wife's ashes in a cupboard in the basement. I had no idea that he even had them. Now I have them and while my friend's ashes were taken care of by the funeral home, I still have this to take care of. I have decided that I will take them to the Botanical Gardens at the university and scatter them there. Both my friend and his wife were involved in the set-up of the Physick Garden there so it does have some meaning for them. I have checked and while it is not officially allowed they turn a blind eye and told me to come at the end of the day when there are few people about.

This is the last in the series of posts about my friend and his journey with Alzheimer's disease which I shared with him. Thank you for reading and my fervent wish is that may none of us be so afflicted.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Update on the Theft from the Museum of Anthropology

Yesterday, as a member of the Museum of Anthropology I received an update on the situation regarding the theft of the Bill Reid art objects from there this past weekend. It did indeed include the box I featured in my post yesterday along with 14 other objects, photos of which can be found here and the image below comes from that site. This is a wonderful example of his work which combined his talents as an artist with his skills as a jeweller, his earlier profession.

MOA ID: Nb1.702
Object Title: Bracelet
Artist Maker: Bill Reid
Materials: Gold
Description: Bracelet with grizzly bear design
Date made: 1958

Since the theft included three gold Inca necklaces, along with the twelve works of Bill Reid, I am sure that many people believe they were taken for the gold content. With that in mind the University of British Columbia has offered a reward of $50,000 for information which leads to the recovery of the stolen items.

While they are valued at $2 million dollars as art works they have a total gold content worth a mere $15,392 at current gold prices, which is a quite sobering thought.

“The theft of these art objects is a loss of cultural patrimony for the whole of Canada,” MOA Director Anthony Shelton said today. “We are working with the RCMP as they conduct their investigation, and are hopeful that these cultural treasures will be recovered safely.”

To this end, the University of British Columbia is posting a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the safe return of the stolen artworks in their original condition and the arrest of any suspects involved in the theft by June 30, 2008.

Referring to one of the stolen Bill Reid pieces, an extraordinary gold box with a sculptured, three-dimensional eagle on top, Shelton said: “This theft is the equivalent of a kidnapping aimed at one of the signature pieces of First Nation art that carries and communicates the creative genius of the whole of the Canadian people. The perpetrators must realize it is the Nation that will be their judge.”

Of course perhaps the thieves already had in mind a buyer who would quite happily hide them out of sight, keeping their beauty for himself alone. Let's hope they are not already melted down. Someone, somewhere, will know something. Hopefully it is not too late and we will see them returned to their display cases in the rotunda at the museum where Bill Reid's monumental carving of the Raven and the First Men resides.

I look forward to giving you a final update on this situation with the good news that they have been recovered. We all know that the Mountie (RCMP) always gets his man and may this not be an exception to that rule.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Major Theft from the Museum of Anthropology

This is not the style of post which usually appears on this blog, but I am shocked and heartbroken that the Museum of Anthropology has been broken into this past weekend and a dozen gold items by the famous Haida artist Bill Reid have been stolen, along with several Incan gold bracelets and necklaces.

Because they were so difficult to photograph in situ the only item I tried was this small gold box when I did my series of posts on this, my favourite local museum, here and here. The works are priceless for Bill was a master goldsmith. He trained first as a jeweler and later became a carver.

Obviously the security system in place at the museum was not adequate to stop this burglary and I'm sure many questions will be asked. Apparently it is not known how the thieves entered but perhaps the surveillance cameras will be of some help to the RCMP, UBC detachment, who are investigating the break-in. I'm sure the art community are as shocked as I am and one can only hope the pieces are not melted down for the gold content and will eventually be recovered, although I suppose that is fairly unlikely. More detail can be found here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Shoes


I'm pretty sure we've done shoes once before since I began Photo Hunt, but that's all right because you can never have too many shoes now can you. Out and about today, I hastily snapped a couple of shoe photos, the first of which is a window advertising summer Rockports.

I have no idea what the significance of the garden hose is.

Now I wonder if this will go with my new outfit, says the shopper inside another shoe store.

Naturally I had to have some new shoes to add to my collection
of 75 plus pairs of shoes,
although mine are Clarks.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Commemorative AfternoonTea

This week, Friday between 3 and 5 pm, will be the commemorative afternoon tea which I am hosting for my friend who died recently. Although I am ordering most of the food I do have to get my house in order, so that people do not think that I spend all my life online, either with blogging or trotting around in Second Life. Which as you all know, I do.

No, I am not serving scones with jam and clotted cream, for I haven't made scones in years and probably have lost my touch. But in most other ways it will be a traditional English afternoon tea. Well the sandwiches will not be watercress, but there will be absolutely no coffee served I can assure you and there will be no teabags used, only loose tea. I don't have an elegant silver teapot either, but I do seem to own many teacups and teapots. I wonder how this happened. I own too much stuff!

In my part of the world which has a strong British heritage there has been a resurgence of the service of an English style afternoon tea in special tearooms which have sprung up around the city and at all the elegant hotels. The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, is famous for its traditional afternoon tea which has been served there every day since 1908. In fact this is such a popular event that it is advised to reserve up to two weeks ahead of time and if you just appear it is quite likely that you will be disappointed. Oh did I tell you about the dress code for the Empress Tea Lobby where the tea is served? And the fact that it costs between $49 and $60, plus taxes, plus gratuity, which is very expensive indeed but does not seem to affect its popularity? They do present you with a complimentary canister of their special Empress blend of tea so I suppose that helps to offset the cost a little. Twenty dollars is more the going rate which I think is still rather expensive for this event.

When I was a stay at home mother with my two young children, afternoon tea was a very big thing in my circle of friends. We got together regularly for this so that my friends and I could enjoy some adult conversation and our children could play together. It wasn't a traditional tea as such, just a cake which the hostess had baked and cups of tea and lots of fellowship. I remember these times quite fondly and although things changed and they fell by the wayside, the friendships forged over those cups of tea have not. Now we seem to do lunch.

So hopefully with this traditional afternoon tea I will bid my friend a fond farewell with some of his other friends. I have no idea how many people will be attending. There are some definites with a lot of I'll try to make it's, so we shall see. Either I'll have lots of food left over or run out and be scrambling for cheese and crackers but I'll never run out of tea, I can assure you of that. Earl Grey, Keemun, Oolong, Assam, Pu-erh, Darjeeling, Jasmine, green tea, different kinds of flavoured Rooibos teas, herbal teas all find a place in my tea cupboard. I'm sure that everything will go well but for now I have to go make my house presentable.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vancouver Spit or the Four Hour Lunch

I guess that title takes a bit of explaining. I talked long ago about dunnetworks, a listserv group to which I have belonged since the early nineties and which later morphed into a Yahoo group. Its sole purpose is to discuss the works of the Scottish author Dorothy Dunnett and for a long time it was rather inactive. Recently it has sprung into life again and in an exchange of emails with a member in the UK, he mentioned about the group of Dunnett fans who live in Vancouver and meet quite regularly. What? Who? I had no idea about this.

They belong to a Canadian Dunnett Yahoo group and he put me in touch with one of them and I was invited to join. Since the moderator of the group was coming to Vancouver for a visit the local contingent was arranging a lunch get-together or VanSpit and I was invited to come along.

Over the years when Dorothy was still alive there were several Dunnett gatherings or conferences really with extensive programs which were attended by many fans from around the world. The last of them during her lifetime was at Edinburgh in 2000 and was to celebrate the publication of the last of her books in the House of Niccolo series. I had always planned to attend this gathering in Edinburgh however, in the end, it coincided with my mother-in-law's 100th birthday and I had to go to Australia for a large family celebration instead.

Since then there have been other mini-gatherings, including one in Malta in 2005, where most of these Vancouver Dunnett fans seem to have met each other and continued to keep in touch. OK, OK, I'm getting to the spit part. One of these gatherings was held in New Orleans in 2003 and was named the Y'all spit which no doubt is some local colourful term unknown to me but since then any gathering of Dunnett fans, large of small, is called a spit. At the moment a gathering is being planned for Paris in 2009 or 2010 and of course is appropriately titled Le Spit and has its own Yahoo group. Maybe I'll make that one, if all else works out.

However, yesterday, on a gorgeous, almost summer day for Vancouver, I met up with seven other Dunnett fans to have lunch on the outside deck of Monk McQueen's Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar, affectionately known as Monk's which you see in my photo above. It is a wonderful place to appreciate all Vancouver has to offer on a fine day with its location on False Creek, along from Granville island and with its adjacent marina and views of the domed Stadium, BC Place and the geodesic dome of Science World around the shoreline.

One of the things I have always found when I meet dunnetworkers, even for the first time, is that there is never a lull in the conversation. While it was true they all knew each other, they were extremely welcoming and the conversation flowed back and forth, non stop for almost four hours. Admittedly the service was unbelievably slow for some reason but the food was delicious when it came. I had the crab cakes with shrimp and organic Spring salad and a cheese and fruit plate for dessert. Sorry, too busy talking to remember to take photos.

Yes, we did talk about the Dunnett books intermittently but the conversation seemed to flow from one thing to another and I have noticed that dunnetworkers always seem to have similar taste in many other things including books, consequently there was also some time spent discussing Patrick O'Brien books which always seem to have a great appeal in the group. In fact many excellent book recommendations have come to me from the digests of dunnetworks. I was very happy to hear all about the group's visit to Malta and there were some funny tales told. I'm sure we were a rather noisy, unruly group in the eyes of the other patrons, however being outside on the deck made it more acceptable, I hope. All in all, a very good occasion.

I hope you will allow me to do a little prosetylizing for my all-time favourite book, Niccolo Rising. A very fine review and teaser written by Judith Wilt can be found here and below is the first sentence of the work itself. What a merry ride you will take if you follow Niccolo, a Renaissance hero who rises from being an apprentice to an influential man of trade.

"From Venice to Cathay, from Seville to the Gold Coast of Africa, men anchored their ships and opened their ledgers and weighed one thing against another as if nothing would ever change."

The great thing about reading this book is that when you have finished there are seven more in the series to read. Will you be another one of my Dunnett converts? I do hope so.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Candy


Along with all the other things you can find at Granville Island Market CANDY features prominently and below you see a young man making fudge at the Old World Fudge stall.

This is what they sell at the stall and is it ever good.

The CANDY apples look good at this stall along with the chocolate CANDIES.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Good Skin and Shape make all the Difference in Second Life

In real life you can make some changes to your skin and your shape. With buckets of money and time you can improve your skin with facials, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser treatments, photorejuvenation, acne therapy, skin tightening, botox injections and so on.

For your body you can have liposuction, your breasts increased or decreased, a nose job, tummy tucks, all kinds of lifts like face and eyes and even increase your height with some judicious silicone implants. If you are willing to get a personal trainer and put a bit of effort into it you can improve your shape quite a bit.

But in Second Life it is so much simpler and the choices are limitless. Or so it seemed to me. So much so that as usual I am paralyzed by indecision. It's not that I'm not trying. I seem to spend an incredibly boring amount of time researching this subject in Second Life.

One of the first things you do in Second Life is to change the appearance of your avatar but you are a bit limited by the software. Of course the "clever" people got involved very quickly and using their skills in third party software created new skins and shapes which they are only too happy to sell to you.

Now in real life your skin and your shape are rather intimately connected. Not so in SL. They are separate and you buy them separately. Plus you put them on and take them off like clothes. It's strange but true.

What you get with the body shape is head, nose, eyes, mouth, cheeks, chin, neck, torso, breasts, waist, hips, butt, legs, hands and feet. All created just so. Ideal, you might say, all perfectly proportioned if you desire or even resembling a real person, for example Angeline Jolie or perhaps Princess Diana might take your fancy.

While your skin consists of colour, nipple colour, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush, pubic hair colour. Mostly make-up for your face as you can see but skins are very difficult to create and command high prices so you must choose carefully. The problem is they tend to look so perfect I find them rather off putting. I know that since you can be anything you like in SL in theory, you should be bold but it seems that my blazing red hair is my limit in boldness.

The consensus seems to be to get a shape first so off I went to a place recommended by a SL friend. There are dozens of choices on posters on the walls and consequently it is very overwhelming. One rather interesting thing about this place is that there is a catwalk in the front of the store with half a dozen models of various sizes standing in a row to demonstrate some of the various options available. They make gentle motions with their arms and legs, not moving far from their designated spots. There is a quite amusing reminder notice that the models are robots and do not engage in conversation. "Excuse me Miss, but do you come with longer legs, or a smaller butt or bigger boobs?"

Decisions, decisions. There are no demos for trial with the body shapes so you have to jump in with both feet. Finally I made my choice and paid my money. Jaquelyn Smith was the one, for I thought that under all that hair, which is not included, her face had a vaguely similar shape to mine. So back to my "grace and favour" apartment to try it on. I bought the version with three bust sizes, B, C and D which seems to be the default bust size in SL. I wanted the smaller size since all the tops for sale seem to be rather low cut and I don't care to sport an in-your-face bosom, not even in SL. So on it went, toute de suite.

Well it seems that Jackie has a large head and my usual hair does not fit. There are bald patches in amongst the red and neither the body nor the hair can be modified! Plus she has a big butt! I guess I should have bought Raquel Welsh who was my second choice. Although I must say I was cheered to read the other day over at Critical Faculty Dojo in Booty is in the eye of the beholder that moderate amounts of subcutaneous fat on the buttocks and thighs may actually be good for you but more importantly the average guy (according to anecdotal evidence) actually prefers a girl with a little padding especially on the derriere.

So Jaquelyn has been stuffed back into my inventory and I'm back with my own carefully designed shape and I'm certainly not willing to shell out the big Linden dollars for a skin and have another disaster. At least no one can say I'm too perfect.

I think I'll have a rest from this endeavour and go visit some galleries or museums. Or chat up some other folk and find out where they bought their shapes and their skins. I'm very good at networking.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stats and a Blog Thing

Just like everyone else out here in the blogosphere I obsessively track my stats and according to Sitemeter, today someone from Brainerd, Minnesota, became my 50,000th visitor. Of course I am pleased, even though I am very realistic and I know that most everyone comes via Google searches, including this visitor.

The more posts you publish the more you are likely to increase your daily stats, for the very reason that you have more topics for Google to find. I am often amazed at the things that bring visitors here via that route. Why do people come to my blog to find Rodin sculptures for example? With all the wonderful sites which cover that topic how do they ever get to mine? They must be really drilling down quite deep through the results from such a search to get to my post on the topic. Other very popular topics include the Blue Man Group, Japanese maples, Vancouver real estate, the Liberty Bell and Australia.

Today turned up an interesting one: "John Menzies harness racing." I do not believe I have ever mentioned John Menzies, whoever he is, or harness racing. Although Sienna raises horses for harness racing so perhaps I did mention the latter.

Of course, the bottom line is, depending on which statcounter you believe, I have between 20 and 30 returning visitors every day. All the rest are just meaningless numbers. But make no mistake about it, I am very thankful for those 20 to 30. I really do appreciate your visits, silent or otherwise.

Now let's turn to Page Rank. Although everyone talks about it often, I had no idea what Google page rank was until recently when Vic Grace explained it all. So dutifully I checked mine out: 5. Others seem to be ecstatic when their ranking changes from 4 to 5 or in despair if it moves the other way. Why, I just noticed that I have the Page Rank thingie on my Google toolbar. Who knew? It's all totally wasted on me. I still don't really get it.

As I've said before I have no idea what I am doing in the blogosphere, nattering on about this or that. I just try to follow the No 1 Dino's three rules of blogging: Write well (grammatically speaking) , say something and mix it up. Well today could be the exception to those rules.

Recently I have watched as a meme wandered from blog to blog. The six word memoir meme. Sum up your life in six words. I have been amazed at the clever things people have come up with and could not think of a single thing. Struck dumb! Eventually it reached here, via Vijay, the radiologist at Scan man's Notes who summed his life up most seriously: Aiming for accuracy in grayscale images. Of course, she says tongue in cheek, he can't spell greyscale but that is neither here nor there. Another blog friend, Ramona, is a plastic surgeon and a quilter and she went with a very neat one: My life is full of stitches. New York physician, The Blog that Ate Manhatten, or TBTAM, who is a woman after my own heart, said a little defiantly: I want to do it all, and indeed she does.

Well, for better or worse, here is my six word memoir:

Trying to do the right thing

I'm not going to tag anyone with this meme but if you have not already been tagged and want to sum up your life in six words, knock yourself out. Oh a photograph or image is optional. I had another meme to do but I think you've had enough for today, don't you?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

To all mothers, I wish you a very happy Mother's Day. To the rest of you, go phone or visit your mother and if she's no longer here give a thought to the one who nurtured you and loved you, no matter what....

Here are the mothers with their daughters in my family.

My mother with me, in 1959, at a friend's wedding where I was the maid of honour in my posh frock. She died in 1993, aged 85

My daughter with her mother, around 1970. It wasn't easy to find one of the two of us.
It seems I am always the photographer.

My granddaughter with her mother, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 9, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Share any Photo


Do you know I think this is harder than any theme? Total freedom to do whatever you want always paralyzes me with inaction. I certainly cannot think of anything special to photograph and I've looked through my archives for something I haven't already posted.

Well I'm caving and posting something that's been on the blog before before but I would like to share for Photo Hunt. I consider it one of my most interesting photos of a truly amazing work of art, so if you've seen it before I hope you don't mind seeing it again.

The Raven and the First Men

This is a monumental sculpture in yellow cedar carved by Bill Read, First Nations world renowned artist. It sits in the rotunda on a bed of sand in the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. This lovely golden image interprets a local Haida legend of Raven discovering the first men emerging from a clamshell. Should you wish to know more I wrote about this work previously with additional photos.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Can you help Mrs Carr?

I don't live in the UK, as everyone knows, but I am certainly aware of the problems in the healthcare system there. Being a medblog reader, I follow several UK medical bloggers and they constantly rant about their frustrations with the system, which with a massive budget of 80 billion pounds still fails to deliver satisfactory healthcare to the people who fund it with their taxes.

But it has become more personal for me as I follow one incredible saga of the NHS inadequacy in which one of my fellow Blogpower bloggers, Calum Carr has tried for the past year to get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment for his wife who is suffering with eating disorders and depression. After trying every avenue, including contacting his local member of the Scottish Parliament who also tried unsuccessfully to get them help, Calum has started a web campaign to bring attention to this terrible situation.

A turning point came for Calum when his wife was treated very harshly by a consultant psychotherapist who was supposed to be assessing her. He decided that perhaps publicity by fellow bloggers might make a difference. So he asks bloggers to read about his situation and add a link to his campaign. He says:
We can help Mrs Carr. We can help others get a much better mental health treatment through our NHS.
Let's help make that statement come true if we can. Please consider adding your voice to the numbers who have supported Calum and Mrs Carr and do read his latest heartfelt post.

Whatever happened to compassionate and caring health professionals?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thanks to Everyone

My friend, AMG, aged 19, in his Royal Canadian Air Force uniform

Thanks to you all for your best wishes and condolences.

In fact my friend's dying was more of a blessing for him, for he certainly had a very low quality of life, well by our standards. Although he was pretty cheerful and at ease in his own way and I am truly grateful for that.

For me, my friend had passed away a long time ago. Earlier I did not mind that he did not remember my name or called me by some other name, for he always smiled and I felt that he knew me. But when he no longer did that, when he wheeled past me without any spark of recognition I knew that my friend was really "gone".

So it was more a relief than a sorrow that he was finally at peace. What a journey it has been, as together he and I dealt with this disease. Nine long years. At first he refused to admit that there was anything wrong and being a highly intelligent and well educated man he developed coping mechanisms. I was rarely in his house as he came mostly to mine or we met elsewhere at social gatherings. However he fell and broke his jaw and I was called to the hospital. In this different environment it was obvious that there was a problem.

When I took him home, what a shock. His house was absolute chaos, with papers and unopened letters and piles of unread periodicals everywhere and notes stuck on everything. This man was not coping with everyday life. Then I learned of his Alzheimer's Disease from his physician who had been advising him to get help but was being ignored. Slowly, tentatively, for he did not want to admit the problem nor accept help nor give up any control, we began to get his life more organized with outside caregivers and his lawyer drew up documents giving me care of his person and medical decisions and a trust company care of his financial affairs.

Well I've written about this previously and here so I won't bore you with more. Today I am writing his obituary for the papers. Luckily many tasks have been taken over by others as the trust company is his executor and at the moment of his death, my representation agreement was no longer valid. I thought I would have to do more now but it seems that many tasks will be done by the executor and I have contacted a person at the university who will notify all the correct people and arrange for the lowering of the flag in his honour.

There will be no burial or service as those were his wishes. But I believe that some closing ceremony is required on a death for those who are left, so in a couple of weeks I will give an afternoon tea in his honour for his neighbours and colleagues. Perhaps we will swap stories of the man we knew for so many years and remember the fine person of former days. Many of them had not seen him for a very long time, as sadly only myself and one other female friend continued to visit him. Well I do understand that, for there was no joy in it, not for either party.

Today I took flowers and boxes of chocolates for the staff who had looked after him for these past 15 months. Unfortunately the ward is under quarantine regulations for they have now a confirmed outbreak of Norwalk virus, so they will not be able to enjoy the chocolates until later. In fact the virus probably started the dying process for my friend since he had minor symptoms for a few days before he went into the coma. I think his body just gave up the will to live and you know, all in all, it was not a bad way to go.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tribute to a Gentle Man

This evening my friend with Alzheimer's disease passed away. Fortunately, I was not called upon to make any decisions, as nature seemed to take its course. He fell into a coma three days ago and I'm very happy that the staff were able to keep him comfortable as he slowly slipped away. As I spent part of each day with him I know this was so. When I left the hospital this evening his breathing rate was high but not distressed. I put my hand on his forehead and squeezed his shoulder but there was no response. I did not expect to see him again and indeed just two hours later the nurse called with the news. Thus my custodial job is done for this man.

So let me tell you a little about him. He was born in Toronto in 1923, son of a pharmacist who sadly lost his pharmacy during the years of the Great Depression. He went from high school into the Canadian Air Force and served several years as a mechanic, at first in England and then in Germany.

After discharge from the Air Force he studied Pharmacy in Ontario and eventually went to the University of Saskatchewan to earn a degree in the subject. There he met the woman who was to later become his wife although they did not marry until they were 35 years old. He continued his education in Pharmacy with a Master's degree at the University of Toronto and finally, at the University of Purdue, earned a PhD in Pharmacognosy, which is the study of medicines derived from natural sources.

Then he was able to marry his love who had been his instructor in Pharmacy in Saskatchewan and after a year in North Carolina they returned to Canada in 1960 to take up positions in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of British Columbia . In 1961 I came to Vancouver and worked at the Faculty and thus they entered my life, with his wife becoming one of by best friends. In fact she always called herself my big sister for she was 12 years older.

When she died of a brain tumour in 1986, my friend took early retirement for he could not bear to go by her former office every day. Childless and with no relatives, he became part of my family and I was his "next of kin". He spent his time with his various interests until he was overtaken by Alzheimer's Disease, which I wrote about before.

He was a very formal man, such a contrast to his wife who was from the Prairies. He always wore a suit when he left the house, even to go to a doctor's appointment. He had a great sense of humour and was a very social man so the years after his wife died were not easy for him. He loved to cook until his disease prevented that and every year he made a Christmas cakes and gave them to his friends. Gardening was his joy but the disease took that from him too, however we hired a gardener to look after his garden and they became great friends until he left his house. He had many interests and he seemed to be a subscriber to many periodicals which I discovered when I started to help him sort out his affairs. He was also a very charitable man who gave money to many causes and to the various universities he had attended.

I am so grateful that he retained his good disposition throughout it all, for his caregivers all liked him and today as I was speaking with his aide she began to cry. She told me she had grown very fond of him. I am so grateful to the people at that facility for the wonderful care they gave this man. Even when I worked in the Acute Care Pavilion at the hospital I always said the people who worked in Extended Care were saints for the loving kindness and respect they showed towards these elderly residents. I thank them for making this man's dying process as comfortable as it could possibly be.

Peace be with you my friend, your journey is done.

Actually my job is not quite done as I do have tasks to finish this week. I know you will forgive my intermittent visits as I take care of these matters.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt ---- Time


The thing that immediately sprang to mind for this week's theme was a find of the "old scientist" for $10 at an estate sale. For some reason this old TIME piece appealed to him and he carried it home, cleaned and polished it very carefully, although the brass is beyond redemption in some parts, and popped in a new battery. It now resides in our bedroom, along with two clock radios, the clock on the VCR, the one on the TV digital box and the clock on the programmable thermostat. Yes another clock in the bedroom. Just what we needed, not. Just as well we don't have to rely on it, for sometimes it goes and sometimes not. It stops and starts according to some schedule known only to itself. Plus when it does run, it gains ten minutes a day despite altering the little bell adjustment.

Kundo Mantel Clock under Glass Dome

All the clockworks are completely visible so here's a closer look
without the dome to detract

Just in case anyone is remotely interested, details from this clock museum site:

Case: Brass base and Glass dome.
Size: 8.5 inches high

Movement: Kundo transistorised battery electric type.

Notes: Very collectable. I think it dates from the period around 1960, the earliest transistor switched clock having been made in 1957. Kundo is a trade name used by and derived from the makers full name "Keininger und Obergfell" in Western germany.

The curved bar on the pendulum is a hollow rod containing a magnet at its right hand end. As the magnet swings in and out of the coil assembly, the current induced in the trigger coil switches on a transistor and delivers impulse through a second coil.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Canaussie -- AussieCan!

Usually I think of myself as Australocanadian, but Sienna, to whom I reintroduced you yesterday has posted some additional amazing photos on her blog in a post dedicated to me called Canaussie - Aussiecan and this is her new name for my status. Here are a couple of teasers to get you to visit her new photos and check out why she and I both love the flora and fauna and landscape of Australia.

A white boomer, a very unusual sight indeed

Sienna has to upload all these photos using dial-up, which is a true labour of love. Living out in the country means you have to try to create your own broadband service but as she says it did not turn out well. Sorry Pam, but I had to laugh when you left this comment on my computer woes post.
I made the move (rather) tried to make the move from dial up to wireless broadband, with a 9 decibel aerial creating magic, then promptly lost the aerial and the steel pipe it was bolted to in the first storm we had after putting it up on the roof! (and a sheet of roof) they sure make dem dere bolts tough!

Another thing she had to say on my liking for koalas.
People think the koalas are cute, but they don't do anything, I think eucalyptus must space their poor brains out, it is the wombats that are truly the chracters of Australia..
Yes there's a photo of a wombat at Sienna's and an Australian dingo and even an emu. Some very good news from her part of the world is that rain has come after many months.
We had 6mm rain yesterday, 24 points, more forecast next two days, it is the most amazing stuff rain, we just went and walked in it, got soaked but it was so much fun.

She closed her post with one of her famous sunsets. Thanks a million Sienna.

Good night JMB, love from Australia.