Star Power

Cancer brings gifts. Opportunities. Stardom, even. I’ve been seriously ill before–almost died several times–and nobody much cared except one doctor and a couple of woo-woo practitioners. Even my husband didn’t bother to come to the hospital until Day 5. At the time, such cool dismissal of life-obstructing symptoms seemed the result of my own inadequacies, my unimportance–perhaps my gender. I must be a bad or unpleasant person–a lesser person–I couldn’t help thinking. The diagnosis of a permanent, long-term illness turned people off. Like many chronically ill persons, I felt abandoned, left to take my stroll through the valley of the… Continue reading

Rocky Road

"I’m not the cancer type." I believed that sentence with all my heart, the heart being the organ that is supposed to end my existence–many, many, many years from now, of course. I must have said that sentence a hundred times, whenever the Big C came up in conversation. I don’t need to let the medical establishment squash my tits. I can handle these little moles that look as if they’re planning on becoming bumpy or ornery with some goop made of yucca plants. I’m healthy…essentially. Not cancer. I’m not supposed to have cancer. Cancer is for people who…suppress their… Continue reading

A Switchback in Time

In preparation for entering a PhD program, I wrote a little essay, "A Bend in Time", describing the experience of turning the corner in life. One corner. The corner. The curve where you switch your focus from the life you have lived, i.e., your youth and upbringing, to the life left to live. The switch felt good at the time. I regarded it as a benchmark of maturity. The future stretched before me, another five decades of smooth, competent driving in the direction of eternity. No more stupid marriages or detours around destiny. I looked forward to a half century… Continue reading

Through the Colon with Gun and Camera–and Bag Balm

When I was a kid, my parents subscrived to catalogs from Dover Books, many of whose items were out of print, out of copyright, or too quirky for the big publishing houses to care about. One of the quirkiest books to end up in our living room was George Chappell’s 1930 classic,Through the Alimentary Canal with Gun and Camera, "a profanely comic and bodily disrespectful tour through the helpless interior of an anonymous citizen," says a wikipedic reviewer. (Wish we still had it–it’s worth fifty bucks US now!) I wasn’t too squeamish to dip into the book, but I think… Continue reading

The Real Poop

I was napping on my cushion after a mildly strenous morning chasing the raccoon away from the compost and then hanging out with the guys who have a smoke and a coffee outside the convenience store across the street. I’d even directed traffic for awhile before coming home for breakfast. Pack Leader was already hard at work at the computer when I heard the postie open the gate and clump up the steps, swearing lightly at the climb. I knew the feeling. At my age, I have to pause to gather my skirts before tackling that steep flight. The stairs… Continue reading

Ruff Month

It’s been a rough month Our resident wolf, ambassador of love, felled by his own heart, laid his life down at the feet of Kwan Yin My mother died… almost… again center stage more than the girl in her ever dreamed My daughter draggled home her heart in her knapsack in two or three pieces "Mommy!" she says I have a cancer intending on ending me but for an educated knife Every hour repeats, our beloved dog died, left us bereft of wildness, bewildered by the quiet of a hollow house There is no tendon in the heart, nothing to… Continue reading

How It All Began

The cancer saga began the night I tripped over Major in the dark. The cancer itself had apparently begun years earlier, but I had no idea of that. Major and I were watching a movie on the computer, in the dark. I paused the movie to head for the bathroom, unaware that Major had shifted from his usual spot on his 60-inch round cushion to a conveniently nearby place on the thin but fine carpet or our living room. Looking back, I can guess why: it was a little cooler there, and even in the winter, he sometimes felt hot… Continue reading

Sad, sad day

My dear one is gone. Yesterday was a fine day for him, his last, but none of us knew that. Tonight, no one will turn around three times before sinking down on his middle-eastern rug and sheepskins beside my bed, with a contented sigh, waiting for me to say, "You are the best wolf in the world; you are the best dog who ever lived; I love you so-o much…." No-one to cuddle with, to entrain with, to appreciate. No thick black fur to work my fingers into, no velvet ears to pull ever so gently, no silver paws to… Continue reading

Feeling Sick

The sounds of people eating nauseates me. The sight is even worse. I can’t find a spot on the ferry where masticating jaws of my particularly disgusting species of ape do not obscure the blue view of mountains and sea. My appetite is too small to describe. I took the cooler down, as usual, to Vancouver on another trip to see Mom, who’s not feeling too chipper. Brought her chocolate, which she has foolishly given up at 92 because of "cholesterol". Also brought her the right recipe for fruitlax. and other minor thoughtfulnesses….what else can one do? I ate nothing… Continue reading


Were I not living in a more or less sensible country like Canada, this Mother’s Day could be my last. It could be, anyway, but for my faith in our medical system, friends, and myself (probably in reverse order), but that doesn’t bear thinking about just yet, since I don’t know, and can’t know, the extent of the mischief crawling through me. I’m content to reflect that, if we still lived in the US, I’d have no clue that anything’s amiss, since tests like the one my doc foisted on me some months ago are not available to the uninsured… Continue reading