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January 30, 2010

Two Weddings, a job and a funeral

I've come up with a new idea in what is my never ending quest to cover all the bases in terms of trying to expand the on-island writing work. The Write Occasion, "Two weddings, a job and a funeral" is my new service where I'm going to offer  my writing abilities to anyone who might need some assistance in writing their wedding vows or writing an obituary (for people and/or pets) with resume writing thrown in to add to all the other types of writing I'm doing anyway.

I have no idea whether there will be a market for such a thing but there seems to be a lot of weddings held here, and funerals, but that goes without saying. Death and taxes, baby!

I was telling Karin this the other day, showing her my new postcards that I created off Zazzle and she found it hysterical thinking about me meeting with a young couple trying to craft their wedding vows. Having just written that, it cracks me up just thinking about it as well but I CAN DO IT! I can!  Nobody ever gets that I'm a romantic at heart. Besides, there's no better place for black humour than at weddings or funerals if you ask me!  Why two weddings? she asked (so naively). Because, I say, (like duh!) that's the most likely number of weddings that someone will have in their lifetime.

It got me thinking about practising on myself. They say it's a good idea to think of your life backwards, and to write your own obituary to really clue into what matters to you and what you'd still really like to do.

Anyway, I am putting an ad in The Driftwood newspaper and more importantly, I'm sending out a letter with the post card targetting all the other businesses on island that might connect with people who would need to use the service: Church  ministers, wedding officiants, flower arrangers, wedding planners, caterers.

Anybody need their obit written in advance? If they have living wills, why not living obits? I mean, have you thought about who would write about your life when you die? Are you going to leave that important task to some family member who depends on spellcheck to check spelling and the only thing they normally write are cheques?  Eeeeks!

January 26, 2010

Post-Traumatic Microlofting

Vancouver has a “test case” micro-loft project, a whopping don’t swing the cat or you’ll break its back, 270 sq. feet in the Downtown Eastside. If comments on The Globe and Mail’s website are any indication, space - our right to it and how we get it - is a macro topic.

I’ve lived in a few small spaces in my day. In fact, I’ve only ever really lived in small spaces except when I grew up in New Westminster in one of those big, old three-storey, full basement, two fireplaces, den, window seats, beamed-ceilinged family homes. My childhood bedroom was bigger than the space I currently live in.

I lived for almost 5 years in a bachelor suite in an old building on Haro Street in Vancouver called The King George. I couldn’t see anything out my windows except the sky and the neighbour across from me whose windows were no more than 20 feet from mine. I kept my blinds at the proper angle and so did he. Not open, not closed. It was all good, except for the time we were entertained by his date’s 20-minute 3:00 am  stereosound orgasm. I opened the blinds just a shade wider the next day.

Last year I lived in a cottage  on Salt Spring Island that was about 750 square feet with two decks, a hot tub, surrounded by forest. It was nice. Friends descended.

Now, a scarcity of coin called for a change and now I live in less than 250 square feet. I live in a room in the basement of the home of an elderly woman and four nights a week I sleep upstairs in a bedroom beside hers in case she needs some assistance. No financial exchange takes place between us. I have stopped saying “it’s free.” There is a cost. It's called sleep.

I’m typing this at my 4 ft x 1.7 inch table sitting on my 12 inch-wide stool in my less than 250 square foot room. It has my double bed, a dresser, a bookcase, two living-room style chairs, a kitchen table and two chairs. There’s a stove and a sink and a bathroom. The fridge didn’t quite make the cut, it’s in the adjacent unfinished room which doubles as my storage area. Now that I think about it, my junk actually has more room to move around in than I do.

Luckily, I'm an Aquarian who lives more in my head than in the world and as long as I have my computer and my bed and it's warm, I can handle it.

Yesterday, because I like to keep my options open, I went and checked out a cottage here on Salt Spring. It was owned by a greedy Vancouverite undoubtedly trying to pay off two mortgages at the expense of his humanity perhaps. Note to owner: It’s not a cottage actually; it’s a box on your deck. Okay, so it's not a cardboard box. It’s made out of wood. It has one tiny, square window.

If you’re going to live in less than 500 square feet, windows are an absolute necessity. If there are no windows, or just one, check to make sure you're not in jail or that there wasn't an intervention  by your family that landed you in detox.

My less than square feet has a lot of windows and an expanse of golden field to look out on. His did not. His had no closet. His had no storage. He was charging $550. Good luck with that. If I were you, I’d just use it as your man-cave, the place you need to go when it’s your turn to sleep on the couch.

I don’t mind small spaces. You can always find your corkscrew in small. It’s perfect if you hate housework. Not so good for parties. Loud sex? Nope! Any type of socializing with people over 6 ft who weigh more than 200lbs, forget it. In 250 sq feet, your home truly is your private getaway because it works best when you're alone. There's no leeway for screaming arguments that end with your shrieking "Mother f...er!

Every day is a lesson in non attachment. You try to go out a lot when you live small. You talk quietly and inevitably you catch yourself whispering to yourself and signing (using American Sign Language), very emphatically, "I’m gettin’ the hell out of here!"

PS: I've always thought size matters. Still do.

January 25, 2010

Just Surrender

Things have begun to go a little sideways with "my lady" and as a result I am very tired and feeling like, what now, what now, and worried about my living arrangement. A recent fall means she requires more assistance than when I started and more than I had in mind that I'm happy to do in exchange for "free rent." Predictable by those of you who thought I wouldn't last a month doing this I'm sure. Luckily, everyone - the other caregivers and her family - is very understanding about why I might be feeling the way I am.

As a result, since the first time I've been on Salt Spring, I have been feeling less than happy - worried, troubled, and tired. The other day, Thursday, I ran into this guy who sells at the market. He makes these amazing twig chairs and furniture fit for eco-kings and queens.

His name is Tom. I said hi to him and he proceeded to tell me how wonderful things are for him, and how as a stonemason and a furniture maker he pretty much just gets to work for people who he loves - his friends and neighbours. Then, he just pronounces: "You just have to surrender." He wasn't really saying it to me as advice as much as just throwing it out there, as if he was reminding himself and me and the universe.

That statement stopped me. We'd only chatted for about 2 minutes before he said it. I looked at him and said, "Wow, it's as if you're my messenger for today or something."

 "You just have to surrender." We talked a bit more about that concept, how it's not a one-time thing. When I walked away, I was wondering what exactly that meant in relation to my problem at the moment. Surrender to what I know? I don't want to do this now. Surrender to where I'm at? You're here, just go with it and see what happens next? Could the message be a little more directive? Not quite gettin' the jist of it. Dontcha hate that?

Let's all just surrender. I do know that when things are going the way they're meant to be going that it is quite effortless; things fall into place. When you find yourself trying way too hard for too little outcome, that's always a sign, I think, that perhaps you're just not meant to be doing what you are determined, bang your head against the wall, get out of my way before I kill you are trying to do.

Have you ever had the experience of surrendering and having circumstances transform? Any other sage advice?
Share your wisdom in a comment.

January 20, 2010

The Cultural Phenomenon that is Salt Spring

Until you've been to a dance at Moby's on Salt Spring (who apparently from the looks of that copy on that link should have hired a professional writer for their website but didn't bother) (and a janitor to better clean the washrooms would be a good idea too) you have not really experienced the cultural phenomenon that is Salt Spring Island. Of course, there is also Carmen, the opera, being piped in from The Metropolitan Opera in New York at the other end of the spectrum at Art Spring.

This past Saturday night, at Moby's, the band consisted of Tal Bachman playing guitar, really well, as you can imagine. The drummer was from the band 54-40 (Matt Johnson) and Tom Hooper (Grapes of Wrath) played bass. Throw in the occasional vocals from Stephanie Rhodes, oh, and I almost forgot, Bachman's other son (whose name escapes me) who has a great voice for Reggae music, and the place was hoppin'.

Because of my day job, and because I guess I am way more private than I thought, especially when I'm surrounded by people who I know "too much stuff" about, it feels really weird for me to be dancing with them. I don't know why, but it feels like I'm supposed to be "professional" at all times, which, of course, is ridiculous since it's hard to be "professional" at the best of times.(kidding!)

There's the quintessential hippie-woman dressed like a gypsy, her long hair held back by a flower-power headband. There's the 20-something wanna-be models who look like they're heading off to some club in Vegas, all glitter, sparkle and high-heeled. All dressed up with nowhere to go you might say.

You have the drunken, grizzly-bear of a guy with a Teddy-bear heart whose sweat reeks so badly because he's been doing his aerobic dance work-out in a wool sweater (a new weight loss technique perhaps?) and you can't help but think it's only a matter of time before he's going to lose his balance and like a big bowling ball, go down, like a big, hard Evergreen tree, taking out a swath of bopping islanders with him. I have the greatest image of him, I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. He was jumping up and down, all 6 foot four inches of him, like a huge white human orangatang. For some reason, I just couldn't stop looking at him and smiling. Just watching him made me laugh. But, it kinda made me sad in a weird way at the same time. Why you ask? Because of my part-time job, I know TOO much!

It's just a weird feeling to be somewhere socially and know too much about people and they're not your friends. You shouldn't know this much about people who are not your friends.  It's like being back in high school! Except, they were your friends. Note to self: Never join a commune! Polygamy probably wouldn't work either. Eco-village? No thanks.

I don't think I could handle being a counsellor in a small town because it's like what I imagine being ADHD is like, or watching a psychedelic stream of information on a ticker tape in your brain. Suddenly, it's as if a million thoughts, questions, observations, annoyances are streaming through your consciousness. Why is that young woman with that really old hippy guy. What DOES she see in him and does he actually own a mirror or what? Why doesn't he do something with his eyebrows. He should get a haircut. Man, that girl has so much ENERGY! Is she ON something? Why do people come to a dance like this and just sit there all night? And, gee look at how much fun they seem to be having doing that. Oh, there's Karin. Who's that hot guy she's with? If they had babies, with her Afro and his red hair, those babies would be SOOO cute. There's the village easy girl (not that there's only one) and the drunken big, bad boys. There's two guys kissing each other but, hey, why are they doing that, they're straight?  There's the woman whose midriff is, I swear, the size of one of my butt cheeks. She's dancing like a fiend practically making love to Tom Hooper's bass while carefully avoiding the amp because there is hardly any room to move. At some point, Tal Bachman has to confront Grizzly Adams because Grizzlly almost fell into him while he was playing. Silly boy!

Best of all however, there's my "date" for the evening. A guy from the prairies who moved here to set up, what else, the one-millionth B&B only to discover that his partner, who had moved earlier, has found herself a new man (richer) (I thought she just used Plenty of Fish as entertainment he said in a statement too stupid for words) and now all three of them are living in the same house (not as a threesome he claims) but as three people with him now being the odd man out, confused, dazed perhaps and desperately seeking some new woman  to look after him and presumably move in with which I'm sure he will have no trouble finding on this island full of women as desperate as he is. Those of you who know me will know that he couldn't have picked a more unlikely candidate in me, if he's looking to be "rescued". The thought of it makes me laugh to myself, hysterically! Why? Because, I know TOO much!

Welcome to this freakin' little paradise where the beautiful sunsets streaming across the ocean onto the Arbutus-tree covered hillsides sprinkle gold dust and maybe that's why nothing is what it seems on the surface even if the music and the art and on occasion, the food, can be fantastic! But, then again, after merely a year and 2 months of living here, I know TOO much! And, here's the kicker: I'd rather not!

January 17, 2010

Facebook Reconnections a Friendly Bonus

I am beginning to see the value of Facebook. Within the last 2 weeks I have had really enjoyable times with 3 people who, if not for Facebook, I wouldn't have connected with. Afterall, Facebook enables connectivity between people even when face-to-face connections are really tenuous.

In 1993 when I first got out of Journalism school, I got my first journalism job at The Royal City Record in New Westminster. The woman who hired me is above on the left. Pat is the editor of the community newspapers in New Westminster and Burnaby.  I worked for her on call for the Spring/Summer of 1993.

It just so happens that Pat lives with her partner on a floating home and at the time I was just getting involved with Mac who also lived on a floating home. The floating home communities where they lived are small and people know each other.

In fact, Pat's partner Janna, used to walk their dog and go for a walk with Mac with his dog on the dyke almost every day for a few years. The last time I saw Pat and Janna was November 1998. I remember it dinstinctly because I was standing in Mac's dilapidated living area on his float home. I was having an almost hysterical meltdown, crying, barely able to spit out the words, "Look at this place, no wonder he killed himself." Janna was trying to comfort me and Pat said something like, "It's not that bad."  We could all laugh at that now." At the time it was heartbrakingly painful to me and that memory is still one of the most vivid, still able to evoke a tinge of sorrow in my heartcentre as I think of it.

When Mac died, Pat and Janna adopted Mac's dog Molly whom he had adopted from the SPCA a few years earlier. Molly was this really gentle, beautiful, medium-sized, calico-coloured fluffy dog with the saddest brown eyes. Apparently, I found out today while being treated to breakfast by them, that Molly had a wonderful life with them living to a ripe old age and enjoying life on their many camping trips and walks by the river.

Pat saw me on Facebook because she is connected to someone else I know, a reporter, who works for The Vancouver Sun, also on my Facebook page. On Friday morning, I saw Pat's post that she was worried about the ferry's capability of dealing with Friday's winds and she couldn't wait to get to Salt Spring. When I read that I extended the invitiation to meet up with them for a coffee if they felt so inclined since they were going to be on island! 

We met this morning for breakfast at The Treehouse and I really enjoyed catching up. It was a true gabfest. Turns out the friend they are visiting lives less than a minute up the road from where I now live. They also own a cottage on the ocean in Newfoundland where they spend about 7 weeks in the summer. They bought that in 3 days on a cross-Canada trip a few years back where they pulled (Desi and Lucy Arnaz-style, a fifth wheel trailer). Check out the movie from 1954 The Long, Long Trailer, if you don't know what I'm talking about.

The other person that Facebook enabled the connection to was Byron, whom I'd met just once when he bought one of my photos at The Saturday Market.  He came back to Salt Spring over Christmas for another week-long silent retreat and we had lunch on New Year's Day. It's not like we keep in touch directly on an ongoing basis but it's nice to know that when he comes to Salt Spring he can always contact me and if we feel like it we can get together and enjoy each other's company.

Facebook really may transform virtual relationships into face-to-face interactions and that, for the most part, is the ultimate connection dontcha think?

What's your best Facebook re-connection/connection story? Leave a comment!

January 13, 2010

Dimensions of Seeing

(If the person who entered this spaghetti squash into the Fall Fair had seen only a vegetable, they would not have created this delightful little character).

There have been some issues arising with "my lady" and yesterday, after my day job, sitting in Barb's Buns with a friend, I noticed another of her caregivers who I rarely get a chance to talk to privately. She was just coming off her shift and I wanted to touch base with her briefly so I did that for 5 minutes.

When I asked her what she was thinking, she said, "I'm coming from a totally different perspective than everyone else else. I'm a buddhist. I've spent years in India. I lived with a "master".

I looked at her when she stated this because, to be honest, it came across as a little bit arrogant, but in the little that I know of this person, I know arrogance is not her thing.

It seems to me that interacting and caring for an elderly person whether they are our parents, relatives or a friend,  requires every bit of our life experience and challenges all our interpersonal skills.

While I've only been quite concerned and focused on "my lady's" safety recently, this person, in a very gentle way, reminded me that she was really mainly focused on spiritual health.

It was such a timely little reminder. It made me realize that when confronted with any scenario - our work, a relationship, friendships, children etc. there's so much more than their physical well being to be concerned about.

We can get caught up in believing that we know what someone else needs - whether they're looking for work or contemplating how best to be cared for in their later years - only to realize that we must have faith that each of us has our own internal wisdom and life experience to help us on our unique journey which is a spiritual one first and foremost. I believe this to be true of everyone, including people who may be suffering from some sort of mental restriction whether it be mental  illness or a mental disability.

When I was severely depressed in the past, there was always an internal compass; a little flicker of a pilot light that remained lit, waivering at times but still there and I believe that our spirit or whatever you want to call it, will guide us even when our conscious behaviour is seemingly diminished.

If my lady is safe but she is completely miserable then what is the point of her safety?

So, I guess  it's very wise to remind ourselves that regardless of the situation a multi-dimensional approach to it, is always desirable and possible.
  • Physically, is this safe?
  • Emotionally, will this allow us to be kind to others and to ourselves?
  • Intellectually will our participation result in expanded understanding?
  • Spiritually what will we learn about ourselves or what are the messages inherent in the situation?
  • Socially will it add to our feeling of being a part of a community or separate.

January 08, 2010

PSYCH-K: King of the Subconscious

From a story I wrote for The Driftwood

“Ever wonder,” says Johane Sinclaire, a registered massage therapist for 17 years, “why affirmations don’t really work; why you find yourself standing in front of the mirror repeating, ‘I am wealthy’ only to hear a little voice in your head saying, ‘Ya, right. Take a look around!’” At a time when collective human insight is at an all-time high, why is the gap between most individuals’ insight and their experience still so great?

Robert M. Williams, M.A., an American counsellor who developed a technique in 1988/89 called PSYCH-K® (pronounced sigh-kay) explains in his book, The Missing Piece Peace in Your Life!, that affirmations and talk therapy target our conscious mind while self-limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviours are rooted in the subconscious. In an eight-part YouTube video, Williams explains the techniques of PSYCH-K where the “K” refers to kinesiology or muscle movement used for some time in chiropractic and nutritional practices but rarely as a psychological tool to access the subconscious as is done in PSYCH-K.

Sinclaire, a resident on Salt Spring for the past 8 years, complements her massage therapy practice by offering PSYCH-K treatments. She heard about PSYCH-K from a colleague and enrolled first in the two-day basic workshop followed by a four-day advanced course.

“Hold your arm up, look straight ahead, and chin aligned,” she says to me as she demonstrates the muscle testing. “Cast your eyes downward, keep them open. It’s easier to emotionally engage to your subconscious that way.” My right eyebrow rises ever so slightly. “Repeat after me,” she says. “My name is Gayle.” She muscle tests. My arm remains strong. Now say, “My name is Johane.” She muscle tests that statement and, because it is not true, my arm cannot resist the pressure she puts on it. The autonomic nervous system will always deliver a weak response to conflicting information. The statement is not true and my subconscious knows it. With this pre-test behind us, Sinclaire has a baseline to move on to “balances.” Typically, in the first session she’ll balance for 13 core beliefs using paired priority statements which will quickly pinpoint what isn’t true for you. The priority statements are affirmations, i.e., “I am free to be healthy and happy,” and can relate to anything you choose.

You might think you love yourself. Only your subconscious knows for sure. The muscle responses – weak or strong - act as a biofeedback communications loop. Acquiring permission from the super conscious (higher self) is important. “Is it safe and appropriate to balance for this goal at this time?” She muscle tests. “Is every part of the system ready, willing and able to balance for this goal now?” Sinclaire likens herself to a detective, the process as one of unravelling personal mysteries. Activating a whole-brain state – left and right hemispheres – is another key part of the process.

The PSYCH-K website lists the technique as appropriate for self-esteem issues, relationships, personal power, grief and loss, health and body, spirituality and phobias. For many of us, the most challenging aspect of the technique involves its ability to work on issues even if the subject(s) are physically remote (by using a surrogate). It can also be used with animals. Understanding these claims, not rejecting them outright, requires some non judgemental curiosity about how altering our beliefs at a subconscious level can quickly altar a relationship or resolve a phobia, especially where there is agreement from the subconscious of two or more parties to do so, and where a purity of intention, not manipulation, is at the core. Sinclaire says that it’s not necessary to believe in the techniques on a conscious level for them to work. “It doesn’t matter whether the negative beliefs have been part of your repertoire for 30 years or 30 minutes,” she says because the subconscious is literal and operates in the present. Outcomes, however, exist only in the form of anecdotal testimonials, not backed by any empirical research studies.

Salt Spring resident Laura Moore, a self-described cynic, tried Psych-K for a disturbing family problem. Her grandson had been mistreating the family dog with the dog attacking the 8-year-old on more than one occasion. As a result, the dog was relocated to the grandparents’ home on Salt Spring. When the boy visited, it wasn’t safe for the two to be together. Sinclair stepped in as “surrogate” (practising the techniques at a distance). Within a short time the dog and the boy had no further problems. Moore has also used Sinclaire as a surrogate related to anxiety issues and her son, who has experienced long-standing depression, has noticed a shift in his life since the treatment.

Certified PSYCH-K instructor Darryl Gurney in Victoria refers to a “paradigm shift” that has been building momentum ever since the release of the book, The Secret, with its premise that “your thoughts determine your destiny”.

“We’re brought up to think of ourselves as separate from each other, not as part of a whole,” says Gurney who also reminds us that a lot of things (radio waves) reside outside our perceptual range. He refers to cell biologist Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., and author of Biology of Belief. In his research, Lipton discovered, says Gurney, that one receptor site on our cells was different. He called that site the self receptor. “We exist within a field of energy and we each have a unique energy signature.” He refers to the super-conscious – our wise and higher self. We’re at a time in history that ancient civilisations - Mayans and Hopis – prophesied. “People hear 2012 and think death and destruction when in fact it’s about renewal,” says Gurney. “We’re moving from a place in which the underlying assumptions are fear-based and born from the illusion of separation into one that is Love-based and connected.”

“Thoughts create reality.” If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Such beliefs have made a long line of well-known alternative healers famous. Louise Hay, Dr. Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra to name just a few. Dr. Bernie Siegel’s 1986 book, Love Medicine and Miracles reinforces the strength of the mind-body connection as does The Placebo Effect’s power of suggestion. There’s the researched efficacy of the healing power of prayer and alternative insights that have cost some their profession in mainstream medicine. Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer and his “German New Medicine” come to mind. Hamer believes all disease arises from a traumatic and unexpected shock that affects the psyche which corresponds to a part of the brain that connects biologically to the specific trauma.

Even our recent cultural references indicate a shift represented most exaggeratedly in the popularity of the 2004 movie, “What the BLEEP Do we Know!?” which, to much controversy and the chagrin of scientists such as Richard Dawkins, equates the principles of Quantum Physics, (greatly simplified) to the power of human belief/perception upon physical reality.

As we look ahead to 2012 wondering what the end of the Mayan Calendar really means for collective human consciousness Sinclaire has some good advice based on her experiences with PSYCH-K. “Just be curious”.

E-mail Johane Sinclaire at: johanesinclaire@gmail.com

Psych-K workshops are held internationally with one scheduled for Victoria, February 13-14. Visit the website: http://www.psych-k.com/

January 04, 2010

Monkey Mind needs Taming on Day 4

Crazy monkey mind day where it was out of control playing hula hoop and jumping rope and darting over to the hop scotch pasteled on the sidewalk of the right side of your brain and being the last one on the merry go round and seeing yourself as a child being dropped to the ground on the teeter-totter when your brother purposely got off while you were suspended  in mid air until BANG, looking at the cobwebs wondering where the big spider is that created that long black one, doing the dishes, enquiring about Qi Gong classes, throwing leftovers into a strange lunch concoction of spinach and cheese and rice, writing e-mails, not being able to get away from that stupid never should have signed up for FACEBOOK timewaster, following up on money that has still not arrived for work done two months ago, thinking about three queries and not being able to start even the first sentence, finishing a story for The Driftwood that made me wonder, What about 2012 anyway? Wondering where I put the phone number for that massage therapist.
Ever have days like this where you really need a crow in a tree, still and suspended, to remind you to STOP and pay attention, lock up the monkey, sit down and be quiet.

January 01, 2010

New Year's Eve Salt Spring-style

This person may hold the dubious distinction of being the only guy I have ever literally "run" after, after meeting him for 10 minutes. We spent a mere 10 minutes together, if that, in the summer when he bought one of my photos from my market table. I saw him again at the market that day just a short time later heading for his Harley and it was just a feeling but I was compelled. "I can't just let him walk away," I said to myself. He was just off a meditation retreat from Stowell Lake Farms.

If he's here on island, I want to get to know him a little better I thought. He said he was heading to Gabriola but we would do lunch when he returned some day.Turns out he wasn't just being polite. He tells me that I am the only person he has ever purchased a photograph from and if you were to see his photographs you would know why. He says I should be honoured and I am.

 But, mostly, I'm thrilled to think that my first instinct about someone, that happened in less than 10 minutes, was working so well. We had a grand time today, at lunch and afterwards, and I don't believe I've ever started off a New Year so happily. He's headed once again to his brothers on Gabriola but if I'm meant to see him again, I will. He says he'll be back in August.

Last night while Byron was alone with his thoughts and his memories on the last day of his silent retreat having to work through what he describes as a little bit of boredom on the last evening of the year being alone, I did up New Year's Eve Salt Spring style. Fulford Hall was decorated to the max with lights and off white linen sheets hanging in billows from the ceiling.

Our entourage included Karin, Pauline and I. As soon as I arrived, I walked into a man I'd met at my job that day. He is new to the island. I invited him to join our table when I discovered that he had no where to sit.  It's so great to be part of a New Year's celebration where instead of only knowing the people you're with, you know so many people who are dancing around you.  The canteen was selling lentil soup, salad rolls and so many desserts: chocolate cake, cheesecake, apple/bumbleberry pies. Beer and wine tickets. It was a fundraiser actually, for a thing called Wolf Kids, a naturalist program that emphasizes the significance of gaining knowledge to be able to be comfortable in the natural world and gaining survival tools that one would assume translate to the man-made world.

When the music started with Harry Manx's back-up band and an amazing singer named Emily, the dance floor was packed almost immediately. Pauline was up at the front, Karin was dancing beside me and the guy I'd met that day became my steady dance partner. Five hours disappeared really quickly. 
Harry Manx's music has got a middle-eastern twinge to it and it's great for dancing.

In true Salt Spring style, Valdy came up on stage around midnight. He had on a tye-died shirt, his trademark red suspenders and a kermit toque with little kermit frog legs hanging out the side. He joined the band and did the count down, hugs and kisses, and the dancing continuing on for an hour after that.

I crashed at Pauline's. It's heaven to sleep upstairs in her loft surrounded by birds nests and quilts and the wonderful light from the meadow out the front streaming in while the raindrops are pounding against the skylight. I was woken up by Griffin and Maggie, (the dogs) needing to be let out by Pauline.  We had coffee and toast and laughed about the previous evening. Around 10:30 am, I headed in to have a shower and get ready for my auspicious, eagerly-anticipated meeting with Byron and just halfway down the hall, my bare foot stepped on something cold and squishy. YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!   GRIFFIN! You bad dog! 

I ask you, Is it good luck or bad luck to step in a piece of dog shit on New Year's morning? I'm thinking, as Byron said, the first mis-steps of the New Year are over. Let's hope it's all good from here!