Wednesday, December 30, 2009

672 is the International Dialing Code for Antarctica and a song by the Dresden Dolls. We all know what Antarctica is, and for the benefit of the uninformed , the Dresden Dolls are Brechtian Punk Cabaret that are part of the dark cabaret movement. I have no idea what that is either, but thank God for Wikipedia. Have you made your contribution yet?
But 672 is also my Bib Number. It was intended for the Resolution Run but since that race is deferred it is going to be my Bypass Bib. And why not? I am going to have to work and sweat and cry and hopefully laugh and stumble and go forward and go backwards and have fun and have not so much fun and look at something in the mirror that will be less than charming, and reach my hand out for help and take that help and be afraid and have faith and have the willingness to trudge that road of happy destiny.
So I am number 672. So there!

December 30th, 1999

  1. Live in Thornhill Condo just off Young Street, about one km away from good coffee.
  2. Christmas was spent at my mom’s house in Gravenhurst.
  3. One cat lives with us.
  4. Worries include the dreaded Y2K – how will the world survive the click into the new millennium?
  5. If a Canadian Solider died in a training exercise, it would be the lead story on The National.
  6. The occasional glance at the RRSP profile was reassuring.
  7. Main exercise was walking around the block – maybe.
  8. Ticking off wedding anniversary dates by the month.
  9. Had major dental surgery earlier in the year – whew!! That was rough, Valium and Demerol drip, laughing gas, and Novocain. Had to take day off work.
  10. Wondering why I pay all that money into OHIP.
  11. Appalled at guns and gun owners.
  12. Still used Walkman.
  13. Goodie, Goodie, we are flying to Tampa – we had better get there at least an hour early in case the airport is busy.
  14. Thought that Prorogue was just a mispronouncing of the band Pogues.
  15. What I would not do to be Conrad Black.
  16. A solid group of friends that I can meet up with any night of the week for counsel and wisdom.

December 30th, 2009

  1. Live in the country, west of Ottawa about 12 km away from really really good coffee.
  2. Christmas spent at our house – just the two of us. My wife’s parents died in the nineties as did my father, my mother died in 2001.
  3. Three cats officially live with us, one cat boards with us, one beagle does whatever he wants.
  4. Worried about terrorism, Afghanistan, global warming, financial meltdown.
  5. We are not so blasé and “used to it” that the news does not report a military death, but still …..
  6. Just getting back to looking at RRSP statements.
  7. Up until late October active kayaker, runner, walker, cyclist. Still “all of the above” - just in holding pattern.
  8. Ticking off wedding anniversaries by the year with train rides.
  9. One less than competently done stress test, one colonoscopy, one echocardiogram, six + ordinary cardiograms, one myocardial perfusion scan, one angiogram and I have lost count of blood samples.
  10. OHIP – why is so underfunded?
  11. Still not a fan of guns, but sure glad that the neighbours got ‘em.
  12. Embarrassed that my 2008 iPod is so big …. Just gotta swallow my pride and live with it.
  13. Flying to the US? Ahh, maybe we just cash in the tickets and buy a slimmer iPod.
  14. It must be winter so Parliament is being prorogued.
  15. And the punch line is ……. Conrad Black.
  16. A solid group of friends that I can meet up with any night of the week for counsel and wisdom.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It is a dark December Monday the 28th. A lot of workplaces are closed as it the celebration of Boxing Day as the 26th was on a Saturday. But of course if you work in retail, hospitality, medicine, and the like it is just a workday
I cleaned out the medicine drawer / cabinet today. Year old ASA, two year old Contact C; I even learned that liquid bandages have a shelf life. I am sort of cleaning out the old and out of date, in anticipation of getting new, mind you prescription medicine. But it is good to be rid of the old for obvious reasons.
I ordered up my third nitroglycerin spray. I feel a bit guilty as it is covered by my employer’s drug plan and I have not used any of the spray, except in the early days when I was a little more than usually paranoid. But if I ever do need a shot of spray I want to be bloody sure it is close by … that is the reason for the extras.
I am reading a perfect book for a gloomy December’s day: Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. It is the tale of what it was like to live in Nazi Berlin during the war and tells of a couple sending out subversive, anti Nazi postcards and the havoc that creates. I am only half way through but the characters are so scary and so real: from the petty sleazy informers, to the sadistic SS and Gestapo thugs. The resistance people are not of the movie fantasy type but real, brave and stoic. The book was written in 1947 in a mere 24 days by someone who was there , albeit while having an alcohol accelerated psychotic breakdown, which likely adds to the book than detracting from it. What is so nerve jangling about the book is that I think it describes what could easily happen today , here and now. I am only half way through but I will have to compare what my notes today to when I finish the book.
I have no idea of course how I will fare and what I will do during my days of convalescence and recovery. As illogical as it sounds, part of me is reluctant to even speculate on it for fear of jinxing something that I don’t even know. ( I told you it is illogical). But one of the things I hope that I can do is read. I really would like to assemble a list of books that I should read. I will be convalescing during the Olympics and at the risk of being branded an unpatriotic, apathetic, cynical flake the Olympics do not interest me one iota. I cannot name one athlete who will be there (with the exception of a handful of hockey players) . I do not watch or care about luge ordinarily and I certainly do not care about it in Olympic Years. I hope that there is no terrorism during the games, I hope that Canada wins a hundred gold medals, I hope that CTV and the Bay make oodles and oodles of money, I hope that it goes down in history as a Great Games, but none of this is going to happen on my recovery time. I want to walk and talk and get better and do all the doctors say to do and read. Note to self – start soliciting reading suggestions from friends. Note to friends - be aware.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Everything happens in a time and a place so here I am Christmas 2009 in Canada in the Ottawa Valley. It is hard to not think of blessings. In terms of time, 2009 is handy.

The environment has not crashed and burned in any way that most people notice. “Running Out of Oil” is still in everyday lexicon, considered more as crank idea than worry. The economy is supposed to be coming back and the specter of high interest rates is somewhere beyond the horizon.

I can take cheap shots at the Prime Minister and the woman who claims to be our Member of Parliament without going to prison for 11 years. No one knocked anyone over at Mass yesterday, at least where I was.

I got a nice bounty of presents for Christmas including a fancy bowl for my bread making, a plaid shirt so I can look country while keeping warm, some chocolates that I have vowed not to eat until after surgery, a little bear called Henderson, and a nice black hoodie with a tiny little University of Ottawa Heart Institute Logo on it.

Ah, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute: How can I not be grateful about them? The plan (and I am smart enough to know that plans change) is that a month today I will have my surgery. I can accept that intellectually but emotionally it is beyond me. Thank God for One Day at a Time.

I live in a warm house. We had Apple Pancakes for breakfast. There is food in the pantry and refrigerator. I have spoken to friends today. I even got a really sweet call from the owners of a cabin that we stay at every October. They wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas and ask how I am doing.

My wife is in the kitchen making tourtiere for tomorrow. (yes, yes, yes - it is low fat , made with turkey and minimal salt, I am ignoring how much Crisco in the crust). We have been married ten years. She annoys me and I annoy here. I have bad habits. She has bad habits. But the love and strength and hope and inspiration and humour and support and conversation and corrective suggestions she offers makes whatever journey I have to do one I can do with confidence and freedom of fear. (and she does not do that many corrective suggestions for me .. I just had to toss that in)

When you have so much, you (well at least me), can’t help about worrying about losing it. I do think that we are not paying enough attention to the planet nor future energy needs. The government seems to be managing the economy by just paying Visa the minimum balance. And despite my despair on the PM and his cronies, he is in charge fair and square by our choice.

Health comes and health goes. I have every confidence that I will have a great outcome in this journey but it is not in my hands. It is funny what goes through the brain at two in the morning.

But all this is a function of time and space just like I said in the opening to this. I cannot imagine being in a better time or better place. I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I have been good busy lately, so have not blogged (if indeed that is a word and verb) for a bit. I ended up getting an unexpected cash bonus at work today that, after taxes, ends up being about $1000. Since this was “found” money, really not anticipated at all, I first thought of getting some sort of iPod , speaker link, radio gizmo that I figured would be handy during my convalescence.
There is a scene in the movie “The Polar Express” that is the “Graveyard of Broken Toys” or something like that (I apologize to the real PE fans for not paying attention) . Anyway, there is a whole train car of abandoned and broken toys. I have a Graveyard of Broken and Abandoned Electronics. I very quickly decided it would be immoral for me to add to that so instead I am going to give the money away. Some to the Salvation Army. (my favorite charity and I am not the only one that thinks that and some to something else. Maybe Bicycles for Humanity, maybe the local hospital, maybe just to the food bank – I don’t know but it is really fun trying to decide. I am backing off anything to do with hearts until I get fixed!! (I just hope no one from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute is reading this!!)

This may sound nuts but I am really looking forward to my bypass surgery. I feel like I have been chosen for some greater purpose. Some may think that pretentious, some may think it wishful thinking on my part and for all I know that greater purpose may to be the punch line of a joke. But I just think that I have been given an opportunity to look at what is important to me, what I value, what I stand for, what I fear, what I love, what is important, what I have faith in, what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, what I think about God. How great a gift is that?

Believe me, I am not running around saying “La la la, I am getting a bypass, I am betting a bypass”. I am frightened at times and replaying my life to figure out how I got here. But that is background noise. The main show is this real excitement and gratitude that I have for this.

Life still goes on in all of its glory. We put up the Christmas Tree on Sunday. Okay, my WIFE put it up. On Saturday we bought groceries including baking supplies and smoked salmon. I put the baking stuff on the table in the bag knowing that we would need them. The problem was that we did not really need them until Monday when I discovered the smoked salmon was there as well. $15 in the trash!! Work goes on. I had Indian food for lunch. (not always the heart healthiest stuff in the world) The Prime Minster does his annual CTV kissy-kissy. Maybe snow on Christmas, maybe not. I am off to see good friends in White Lake tonight. Annie Lennox and Al Green on the radio with “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”. I love the song but it is too small for me, I want a lot of love.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I don’t live in my house alone which is a very good thing. I am getting tired of moaning about surgery (I will get back to that) so I would like to talk about my house mates. The most important is my wife but I will get to her later.
We have one dog and four cats and the Head Cat is Mikla. It is a long story. My wife and I married only ten years ago. I had no pets and she had one Calico Cat who moved in as well. The Calico and I never really became bosom buddies but we had an understanding. I was not a cat person but we got along in our own way. The cat became ill, and we (meaning my wife) had to put the Calico down in very early December 2004; in fact it was a Thursday. I was out of town but returned on the Friday.
My wife had dropped of the cat’s toys, left over litter, food and the like to the local animal shelter and told me how impressed she was with the cleanliness of the shelter and the enthusiasm and professionalism of the staff. She had told one of the managers that she would be back in the spring to pick up two female kittens from the same litter. My wife told me that we should drop into the shelter on the Saturday morning to “just look around”. I said “no way” as 1) it was take your picture with Santa and a Pet Day and I knew the place would be crawling with people and taking your picture with Santa and Pet was silly and 2) my wife, being emotional would be at risk for coming out of the shelter with a cat.
My wife is not perfect but she does not nag. But she did mention again that it would be nice if we dropped in just to look and being accommodating I agreed. I was right. Kids, Santa, pets, cats, dogs. I , being not an ogre, sat on the floor in the Kitten Cuddle Room. A cute little white kitty cat with some little orange markings made a bee line towards me. He ran up my arm and nestled under my neck in my jacket. He purred and purred and purred and nuzzled nuzzled nuzzled. He licked my chin with a perfect little tongue and stared at me like I was his long lost father. Some dust got in my eye and it watered. My wife said that we may as well get another cat to keep this little one company. She picked a grey two year old cat.
As we paid the adoption fee the manager asked about the two female kittens in the spring. My wife pretended not to hear.
Anyway, the white kitten became Mikla and the two year old became Tumsa. Poor old Tumsa became ill after about one year and had to be put down and I will come back to that. But Mikla is the Alpha Animal of the house: In charge, the Boss, but still likes to cuddle and warm his toes on your pillow. Okay, enough on Mikla, there are three more cats.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today a bunch of stuff came in the mail from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute:

Your Guide to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (I had better start calling it by the proper name) : I did not know for example, that the UOHI “is Canada’s largest and foremost cardiovascular health centre dedicated to understanding, treating, and preventing heart disease”. It talks about mission, values, and all that sort of lofty stuff as well as the nitty gritty of stuff like who does what, infection control, educational services, and really all that you need to know.

Cardiac Surgery – Important Information for Patients and Friends - This is the real stuff you need to know, like how long you will be there ( 4 – 7 days), the tests to pass before you get to go home (walk 120 meters and climb 9 stairs), what you can hang on during surgery (just what God and your mama gave you) , estimated surgery time ( 4 -6 hours), and visiting hours (it depends where you are at).

Anesthesia Patient Information - God Bless the Pain Relievers!!! You get to pop pills before and of course they take care of you while you are having surgery. Funniest Line – “You will still be connected to the breathing machine when you wake up from surgery, You will be not able to speak and the breathing tube may be somewhat uncomfortable”

Cardiac Surgery Clinical Pathway – The game plan:
Surgery Day – Shaving and Special Shower: Then drugs, then briefly meet the OR team, then more drugs, then blackness, then awake to breathing tube down trachea, monitoring equipment and intravenous lines, a tube that goes into your snout and down into the stomach to keep it empty, a tube in your bladder, a chest incision and drainage tubes, a few body incisions and temporary pacemaker wires. Plus more drugs. I am not sure if I should cry or laugh. There is a chance the breathing tube comes out that day or maybe early the next morning. You get oxygen from a mask and do two things: Meet Teddy (who I think is your pillow) and learn what DB & C means : Deep Breathing and Coughing Exercises,

Day I

The big task is to walk 32 metres and you get to sit in a chair. You get to drink fluids. I read this with a sort of disbelief. I have walked a few 15 kilometer hikes this summer past, regularly went on 20 K bike rides and my jogging took me about 3.5 K four times a week. When my father was dying he said that the thing that really amazed him was the incredible fatigue that took his body over. I hardly will be dying but just the weakness is one of those things that my mind cannot imagine.
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C.

Day II

The funny line here is not to forget to let your nurse know if you are in pain. I think I have that covered. The big task today is sitting in a chair while you eat and you walk 60 metres. You graduate from oxygen mask to oxygen prongs. I get one of my long standing fantasies fulfilled – Gymnastics in bed, albeit in a different way than in Penthouse Forum (does that still exist?)
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C.

Walk 120 meters. ( at this rate by Day 16 I will be walking 938,040 metres but I imagine the curve is not exponential). Reminder to let the nurse know if you are in pain.
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C.

Day IV
The Frankenstein wires are removed and you get to take a shower. Now the taskmasters want you to do stairs.
Continue relationship with the mysterious Teddy and more DB & C

Day V
Home!! (maybe, my Source of All Positive Energy may have other plans)

There was more information but I suspect my guest readers will not want to know about anal swabs to ferret out (maybe poor choice of words) Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus.

Interesting reading : I am going for a walk in the park – well, to paraphrase Winston Churchill just a bit Some Walk ….. Some Park. .

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Be warned all ye faint of heart (figurative as opposed to literal) – it is time for me to venture onto the minefields of religion. If your shadow darkened the light from a stained glass window in a Canadian Roman Catholic Church this weekend past, here is what you would have heard read:

Zephaniah 3.14-18

The talk here is of God’s promise to the people of Judah to be hopeful as there is a coming time of redemption and joy. In fact, one day their troubles would be over.

Philippians 4.4-7

Paul is writing from prison to these Northern Macedonian Greeks: be glad, don’t worry about stupid stuff, be gentle with people, and pray for serenity. Do this and you will have this inner peace that most people will not understand.


John , Crazy John the Baptist, is telling people to be honest, to share, don’t rip people off, don’t extort money from weaker people. And then he tosses in a little warning: He, John, is a nobody but there is someone coming right behind him that really pays attention, and will hold you fully accountable for all you do and don’t do. So there!

So what does all of this mean to me?

Well, I think that the texts acknowledge that people have been fearful, stressed, and full of apprehension since the beginning of time. But this darkness of the Black Dog is not our ultimate destiny. There is in some form an ultimate time of goodness, satisfaction, contentment, and joy.

There are instructions on how to get there. Try not to spend too much tome worrying as that is unproductive. Give thanks when thanks are due. Guidance is a good thing to pray for. Be honest. Share your resources. Don’t hoard. Deep down you know what to do – in a lot of ways it is innate.

Be warned that a Power Greater than me will hold me accountable for all I do and do not do. It happens every day, and my measure of this judgment is the amount of serenity I have when I go to bed.

But is will also happen at the end of my time. It is my task to be ready for that. Do I have the courage to take my measure of the ultimate joy and serenity?

I don’t overly care what people think of me. Okay, that is not true at all but I try to pretend at least. One of the many peculiar things that I do, is go to church early and read the day’s readings in two translations. Then I make my notes and sometimes I share them here. So why do I do that? Well, I used to not really be a fan of church – in fact I sort of thought it as boring and a waste of time. But when I started reading the texts, doing notes, and doing my own personal interpretation I felt an immediate connection over the thousands of years with the millions of people that tried to do the same. Are there criminal priests? Of course. Have churches been involved in genocides? Yes. Do religious people take the word and name of God in vain? You can’t count the times.

But here is the deal for me – Just over 2,000 years ago a Jew heard the same reading from Zephaniah that I referred to above. The reading would have not gone in one ear and out the other. He would have taken the time to reflect, to see how he should apply the reading to his life today, what it perhaps meant to his father’s father and what it will mean to his grandchild. Somehow, his thoughts and thinking jump in a very, very, very, small way over to me. I find that little link very cool. That is why I find an hour in church wasteful but two productive.

I wish I were religious but I am not. I even wish I had a greater measure of spirituality but I am short there as well. But I am happy with the little ember that I have. It sure beats that black deep freeze.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Well, another day and another call from the Ottawa Heart Institute. Today it was a call from part of the prep team. I have to be on the second floor at 8:30 in the morning on January 21st, 2010. X-ray, blood test, cardiogram, meet with cardiac surgeon, meet the anesthetist, the nursing team, some recovery people and maybe a few surprise guests. It is an all day affair – well until 3:30 anyway.

It is strange to get my head around all of this. To all the health professionals that I am seeing, it is another day at the office. They would go mad if they looked at it any other way. But to me it is aaaarrrrgggghhhh, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious yowza!! I keep trying to figure out how I feel and I think I am 10 years old and about to go on a roller coaster. I can see it in the distance and I want to go on it. I have told my father and he has agreed. The ticket is bought and out of the corner of my eye I see the little elf guy with the outstretched hand. You have to be taller than that, and I make it! But I am not sure if I am totally happy that I made the cut. So we are now in line. I hear the rattle, I hear the screams. I soon will be on it! Wonderful! Dreadful! I wish it would speed up! I wish it would slow down! I want to be on! I want to be off!

What if the cardiac surgeon doesn’t like me? What if he says he can’t do anything? What if there is a nurse’s strike? What if we get a flat tire on the way to the hospital? What if they made a mistake? What if they are right? What if God is mad at me? What if God does not pay attention? What if God is testing me? What if my whole existence is to be a warning to others? What if I write a book and it gets picked by Oprah and I go on the show but I accidentally insult her and she yanks her endorsement? What if the cardiac surgeon is perfect but due for a mistake? What if Stephen Harper decides to get even for all the cheap shots?

The only good thing is that I am still totally rational.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One of the great failings of our medical delivery system in Canada is the lack of family doctors for all who want one. By family doctor I mean a physician who is your doctor, someone who you can see when needed about great woes and not so great woes, someone who knows you, someone who you trust, someone who is your health partner.
I have an incredible family doctor. She came into the life of my wife and my life by accident. We had moved to a new community and the doctors were simply not taking patients. I was in a local pharmacy, happened to ask the cashier if she knew of any doctors taking patients and she told me of a clinic a few towns over that had a new doctor who was taking new clients. I drove right over and she took us.
She has always been good but my admiration of her really reached a new height in this recent journey. She was the one who sent me off to the hospital for the myocardial perfusion scan. She is the one that phoned me at home twice in one week to talk about the results and ask me how I am doing after the initial results came back.
She was very supportive of my running programme and told me today that she in fact was proud of me today. Okay, a cynic would say “hey, she says that to all the patients who were planning to do a 5K race on December 31st and found they have severe blockages and now are having major cardiac surgery that could kill them” but I don’t care..she said it to me. We had a very frank discussion and she showed me the report for my procedure. She even printed the thing out. She asked me how I feel and what I fear. I told her, and don’t mind saying that I had excess saline liquid in my eyes. That is man talk. A woman would call it crying. There were tears of fear and tears of worry and tears of gratitude. Stuff also came out of my nose but likely no one reading this wants to know that.
She told me that I must promise her not to hesitate to call if I had any worries or fears or concerns. She would gladly take the time to talk with me and explain what she knew. She offered to refer me to psychologists that deal with issues like fearful middle aged men. She asked how I am sleeping and told me to let her know if I ever had problems so we could discuss solutions. She asked me about my medications and my reactions to them. We spoke about pain management options as I recover. She gave me some insights into the world of cardiac surgery.
How do you know the value of something? A new Kindle has more value than a box of matches until you are stuck in a howling snow storm in a cabin with a nice woodstove full of dry firewood. Reading the latest rant from Dr Phil ain’t going to keep you warm. I am learning every day the value of love, family and friends. For too long I had thought of these a bit like that book of matches – there, but sort of ordinary.

Today I really learned the value of my family doctor. She is what she is because of her family, her teachers in public school and high school, her instructors in university, her mentors, her colleagues, and her friends. I will never meet these people but they have my everlasting appreciation.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas. Maybe it is the first snow storm of the season that’s forecast for tomorrow. Maybe it is because there are more Christmas Specials being advertised. Maybe it is because Costco has Christmas stuff in it - no that would be August.
Oh I know why – I got a Christmas present today. It is the most expensive present I have ever received. It is a present that will take all the things that I am trying to learn at Advent (anticipation, waiting, patience, ADVENTure) and really truly apply them, not in some academic, yellow foolscap sort of way, but truly and fully. It is really appreciating that Christmas really represents something that goes well beyond a display at the local mall or even a snappy sermon on Christmas Eve.
My bypass surgery is scheduled for January 25th, 2010. I have it in my planner. I even am planning to return to work on April 19th, 2010. I have no idea if this will happen. A lot of my very good friends talk about Living One Day at a Time and yet this does not violate that. Living One Day at a Time does not mean that you cannot plan and anticipate and hope. In fact, if I view the start of this part of my journey as being today, it will cover Advent, Christmas, Lent , and Easter. All that I think about these feast days will really distill in the crucible of my soul. I wonder if I will like the taste of what comes out. But this I must say – for a pretty non religious, non spiritual sort of person it is going to be quite the journey.
I am recording this for the future. The call came in at about 3:30 in the afternoon from what they charmingly call the Triage Unit. They told me my surgeon’s name, told me he is good, told me that my wife and I have to come in for assessment and information, told me to let them know if my condition changes. They called me young, which I liked, and called me Sir which made me feel like I was at the bank. They filled me with hope and anticipation. It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I see signs everywhere. No, I am not flashing back to the Five Man Electrical Band, but I think that the world is full of solutions and answers to our woes and problems. That is where my God comes in : Source Of All Positive Energy or SOAPE. I mean the Bible is full of references of how squeaky clean everything in heaven is, so I may be on to something.

Anyway, today I was in the Doldrums, as cheerful as the Ancient Mariner himself and only lacking a dead albatross. Okay, maybe it was not that bad, but here was what was getting to me, in no particular order. 1) the ever darkening days, 2) no calls about my surgery, 3) trying to deal with the day to day stuff in work which increasingly wanes in importance at least to me 4) my inability to deal with adjusting stuff in the time space continuum around the house to meet the needs of recuperation period that I anticipate 5) my low physical energy today and feeling of malaise , and 6) the imminent return of Stephen Harper to Canada. (okay, that last comment was uncalled for, it was immature and wrong )

I was shuffling songs on the iPod and Song for Sarajevo by Judy Collins came up. It is my blog, I can do what I want so I am showing the lyrics. This is not a cheery song at the beginning but it changes as the song ends (I think Collins did a rewrite) but it put things into perspective very beautifully for me. As I heard the words, I had to think for a second “Oh yeah, Sarajevo … that was back in the 90s” I had to think back that the 1984 Winter Olympics were there. Can anyone in 1995 have imagined that in 2010 Lonely Planet would have named it as a Top Ten Travel City in 2010 (along with Vancouver for what it is worth)

Song for Sarajevo
There's no where to hide, no where I can go
I reach out my hand touching death itself
just another holy day in Sarejevo

Hiding from the planes and from the bombing
Fire in the sky burning down my life
There is no more love no more longing

I dream of Peace
I dream of flowers on the hill
I dream I see my mother smiling

When I close my eyes I dream of Peace
Once my mother sang to me and held me
Then the fire came falling from the sky
There is no one left who can protect me

Feeding on the dreams of all the children
War's an evil bird flying in the dark
Every holy promise has been broken

I dream of Peace
I dream of flowers on the hill
I dream I see my mother smiling
When I close my eyes I dream of Peace

You are tall and strong and I am just a child.
Can't we live in a peace stop the flowing blood
Make a blessed world where I can be a child.

Do you dream of Peace?
Do you dream of flowers on the hill?
Do you dream you see your mother smiling?
When you close your eyes do you dream of Peace?

You have struggled here in Sarajevo
Courage you have shown to the watching world
We have prayed and wept for Sarajevo

Children dance again in Sarajevo
Now the sun can shine
Now the birds can sing
Let the peace continue, Sarajevo

Do you dream of Peace?
Do you dream of flowers on the hill?
Do you dream you see your mother smiling?
When you close your eyes do you dream of Peace?

Words by Judy Collins
Music by Judy Collins
Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP)/ The Wildflowers Company (ASCAP)

So what am I trying to say? Just this, Sarajevo was an unbelievable, depressing, catastrophic disaster 15 years ago and today is on the “must see” list for the ubercool Lonely Planet crowd. Bad days come and bad days go. We all have them , but it is nice when you get pulled out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I bought my wife’s Christmas present this afternoon. Since she may well read this, I can’t really say what I bought her, but she will figure out …maybe , as I may not have followed her hints. If any cousins are reading this, I may share in a separate e-mail.
My wife is conducting a Christmas choir tonight, but I feel a little low energy so I am staying home, cat and beaglesitting and baking bread and making soup for tomorrow.
Nothing from the OHI and I am going to lay off talking about that and instead write about ordinary stuff that makes live worth living.
One thing that makes life worth living is the ability to rant. Okay, so why in a grocery store that is in the heart of the Ottawa Valley is the only garlic that I could get today from China? I needed garlic to make ginger / garlic / chicken soup. I am assuming the chicken is sort of local and must confess that I am not sure where the ginger came from, but of course it came from somewhere temperate. But garlic, from China …..come on! I live in an area that has an annual Garlicfest. Why, oh why, cannot local be bought in the local store ,and why does the garlic have to come from the other side of the planet?
Our Prime Minister is up and at it in Shanghai as I write this (somewhere in China anyway). I know that Wen Jiabao whacked him on the nose already with a rolled up newspaper but later made nice with the tour group thing. I know that Mr. Harper is not in a position of strength and that I have been guilty of perhaps making sport of him in some of these postings. But please Mr. Harper, make some concession to them; they can’t go on sending junk garlic full of green sprouts to us. Give them uranium, I mean they got the Big Bomb (many of them) already, what difference will a bit more make? We gotta stop the garlic before it kills us.
Scary stuff – I was just about to hit the post button and the phone rang … it was someone calling on behalf of the madwoman who is our Member of Parliament. Surely they can’t read a blog before it is published??????

Thursday, December 3, 2009

One of the little gifts from the Ottawa Heart Institute last week was a prescription for Nitroglycerin Patches. You stick one of these little suckers on at 8:00 in the morning and take it off at 8:00 in the evening. I often have to leave the house before eight but I of course I know that the magic is not in the “eight in the morning” but in keeping it on for only 12 hours.
Straight off the web: Nitroglycerin Patch is a nitrate. It works by relaxing (widening) blood vessels. Chest pain occurs when the heart needs more oxygen than it can get. Relaxing blood vessels allows blood to flow more easily. This reduces the heart's workload and the amount of oxygen needed by the heart. I have been lucky (at least I think lucky is what to call it) that I have had no chest pains but my two cardiologists thought that I should give the patches a go. As long as I did not get headaches or faint, they figured it was a good thing for me.
So the patch joins the emergency nitro spray , the beta blocker, that small aspirin, the statins, the multivitamin, the fish oil, the vitamin D, the psyllium and the …. I guess that’s it. I don’t pay for most of this, I am on a drug plan, but someone does. This is just a guess but I would imagine that the cost of my drugs is at least five bucks a day. That is in many ways modest, but it makes one think of what $5.00 a day , $35 a week, $150 a week could do for a family in Africa. Or where would I get $150 a month extra if I were unemployed.
And yet here I sit, warm and comfy, listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing Christmas carols and my only worry is to make sure that I take the patch off in time. If nothing else, I have leaned how lucky I am in all of this. Here we sit in North America, at the very top of the consumption pyramid, bickering about e-mails that maybe get us off the hook for global warming, spending the money of our future generations, and the biggest worry seems to be Kindle or Sony eReader.
I am no different. I am a consumer. I sure as anything want my expensive surgery. It is just all of this Christmas Music that is maybe getting to me …… I just wonder if the story of the Nativity took place in 2009 how Luke would describe the likes of me. I fear that I am more Herod than Wise Man....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I met with some good friends tonight and we ended up talking about some diverse topics including two that seemed dear to me: 1) God’s Plan versus Our Plan and 2) Gratitude.
It is not my place to tell the stories of others in a blog, but boy these topics hit home for me. My plan was to be running a 5K on December 31st. The reason was to stretch myself physically, mentally and spiritually. What can be better than making your body, mind and soul do something that they have never done before and go beyond their normal limits? Well, obviously God agreed to all that. I suppose part of me wished that he had restrained his eagerness for me to have my wishes granted so fully, but I can’t complain that I am not getting want I wanted.
And in the process, God is saving my life. I don’t think that I have to explain the gratitude part. And God certainly has a sense of humor as well. Wishes granted, life saved, and a good chuckle – does it get any better?