Just saw a poignant play tonight called The Mark. A three person, interwoven three act piece that moved me to tears in the final act. One of the characters had breast cancer and it was a little too close to home,down to the same breast and the same arm pit with it attacking the lymph nodes. I could only shudder and am unwilling to consider,to put into words, make out loud thoughts, that what happened to the character could happen to someone I love. It’s too soon.Too real. Too painful.

since I’ve written in here.

For many distracting reasons I suppose but the main one being in March I tried for a second time to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization. Which means in the last two years I’ve been pregnant twice…in a petri dish….not quite what I had envisioned for myself as a mom but when the elusive maternal drive beckons one answers the call as best as one can.

However, satiating it’s seemingly unquenchable thirst is more difficult than I had imagined or considered. I knew at 45 my chances were slim at best,miraculous at most, but I wanted to believe that I was in the 3 per cent of the population that succeeds in this endeveour. After all haven’t we been taught that in this day and age as women we can have it all and then some! Don’t the tabloids scream out with success stories of improbable births!
It’s a very hard pill to swallow to discover that indeed you are NOT part of the three percent. In fact I’m in the zero percent zone. According to my doctor there are no real stats for some one my age trying to get pregnant using her own eggs.Who knows how accurate any statistic is anyway. Whether it’s old eggs or old sperm it’s hard to know. IVF is such a crap shoot when it comes to the probabilities of success even for folks much younger than I am. However science would seem to be working against me this time.

I took a cleaner,more holistic approach while embarking at the same time, on the better living through chemistry route. I ate well,didn’t drink alcohol,exercised every day. I went to see an acupuncturist on a regular basis throughout the process.
For over a year I have been seeing a wonderful cranial sacral practitioner Deigna (although Marie is my all time fav), and it felt like my body was in as good a place as it could be to receive any embryo’s that might come my way.

My friend Carrie reminded me every time I called her to give her an update, that I didn’t want things to be exactly like the first time. A sage piece of advice when I was fretting about one thing or another. I really wanted to be excited about this attempt, but was also wary because of last time’s disappointment.

It was doubly tough because Joe was not inclined to try again, although a testament of his love for me to see through this strong desire, was to allow it to go through rather than call the clinic and tell them to destroy the remaining vial of sperm. Which he admitted,in moments of despair, he considered doing.
Thankfully he saw through those moments.

However as luck and timing would have it, Joe was travelling the week of harvesting the eggs and transferring the embryo’s back into me.
I was lucky though to have my friend Margie ferry me back and forth to the clinic each time, and extremely grateful to have my friend Jennifer around to play housemate with me. She made sure Jera got walked,made meals,got me hot water bottles to ease my cramping abdomen,and generally provided much needed company for the three days,post transfer,of clinic imposed bed rest.

This time they harvested 17 eggs(last time it was 21) only 8 of those were mature enough to be injected with sperm(19 last time).
By day two 4 embryo’s were doing well,stage 4 and 5 blastocytes,(compared to 11 last time).Because there were fewer this time, both the Doctor and Embryologist recommended I transfer those four sooner than later. They felt the zygote’s would do better inside the womb than outside in a petri dish.

Last time because there were so many fertilized embryo’s at day 3(11 of them) we waited till day 5, so that we were down to a manageable 6 embryo’s to choose from. After much deliberation we went for all of them.
This time there was no question of whether or not we would put all 4 back in, so going ahead early made sense. Plus following Carrie’s logic of not wanting it to be the same experience as last time reinforced the notion to go ahead.

But like I said earlier it’s a tough pill to swallow when you discover you might be denied the chance for your own progeny. At our follow up visit with the doctor he admitted it was unheard of a woman my age attempting to get pregnant a third time with her own eggs.
That leaves me with three choices, adoption,donor eggs,or relinquishing the notion of being a mom. I know where Joe is on this,however I am still working my way through the grieving process. Some days it feels unfair,while other days I recognize all the good things I have in my life and feel blessed.

I watched someone give birth the other night in a movie and it made me cry knowing that might not be my experience. I realized too I am sad not only for myself but for my mom too. Call me traditional but it seems a natural course of events when there is a daughter, and when it is possible, for her to have children. And while mom has never expressed that her eight grandchildren from my brothers were anything but terrific I always felt she might like one from one of her daughters. My stuff, my projection not hers,but a real feeling for me.
And while I know my feelings are not to be down played,they take a backseat when you hear about a fine young mother of two children under the age of five who is diagnosed with stage II breast cancer and requires a radical double mastectomy in less than a week of her diagnosis. Kind of knocks the wind out of your sails.

Makes you realize even more how important it is to cherish life with all it’s various machinations. It also makes me realize how important it is to find a calling that will be satisfying, fulfilling, productive and needed in the wider world.
So in the last two years I’ve been pregnant twice in a petri dish….not quite what I had envisioned for myself as a mom but I guess now the search is on to find new,different, but ultimately satisfying ways to create and be creative. It is spring, the garden beckons loudly, it’s a good place to start…to muse things over….

This email came in from my step-niece Sarah today. Some of you might have met Annie in Muskoka last summer and will remember her as a bright, laughing,sparkling individual with a zest for life and a deep love of her family. Please send them lots of healing energy.

Thanks,janie

Dearest Friends-
I am writing to ask for your help. I received the shocking news last night that my sister-in-law, Anne was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer on Monday and is going to under go a radical double mastectomy this Thursday, April 13. She is the mother of 2 darling kids, Oliver 4 and Ruby 2. She is a spunky tenacious gal but anyone in this situation needs as much extra help as they can get. Please keep her and my brother, Dan and their kids in your thoughts and prayers in the next days and weeks as they will need any positive energy you can send in their direction.

As always, I am so greatful for your love and support!

Sarah BH

13.jpg11.jpg10.jpg9.jpg8.jpg7.jpg6.jpg5.jpg4.jpg3.jpg2.jpg1.jpg0.jpgI can’t believe it is a month since we spent a weekend with Hannah,Chris, Blake and Ethan at Disneyland…. What a blast…..not to mention somewhat overwhelming,noisy,crowded,fun,and exhausting!
It was great to hear Ethan say “That was awesome!” and for Blake to face some scary rides and walk away feeling good about having done them afterward.We spent three days between Disneyland and California Adventure….you would really like some of the better rides…actually you may have already been.
It was my first time,Joe’s too…not bad to hold out for 45/58 years hunh?!Or as we say in Canada…eh!

One of the rides at California Adventure is called “Soaring”. It’s a tribute to California’s aviators and it reminded me of an Omnimax screen (isn’t there one at the Planetarium next to the ROM in Toronto?)
You sat in these rows of seats three tiers high and then they lifted you off the ground and moved you forward so that the screen fills your vision and then you soar/fly over all these great sights of California.
The seats can tilt side to side so you feel like you’re in the aircraft following whatever is in front of you. It was cool. We were on the bottom tier when we went but the kids went a second time after we had to go to catch our flight home and they sat in the top row which they said was even better!

It even smelt like lemons when we flew over the lemon orchards!

It was pretty amazing to see the rides from the fifties and know that they were the state of the art then and then compare them to the newer more sophisticated rides. Some of the newer ones had shorter lines than the old ones! Really!
You have to hand it to them too….the art direction is pretty awesome all around…the details were fabulous..sure some of them looked a bit tacky but overall they provided the goods each time.

We’re not in a huge hurry to go back but maybe some day!

okay enough disney whirled for now.

MLH SHOWFull PineHigh NoonSunrise236kb1.jpg

I’ve uploaded a press release and a few sample photographs of my friend Lindsay Holton’s Pinhole Camera Exhibition that is taking place in Hamilton,Ontario from March 23rd through to May 4th at the J.W. Bush Gallery.

Just click on the image for a larger picture or the MLH Show for further info.

My favourite photo is of the sun through the screen although I love the ethereal quality of each of them. Pinhole photography has experienced a resurgence in interest perhaps as a reaction to the digital age in which we are now so enmeshed.

I hope those of you who are in the vicinity can take the opportunity to visit Lindsay’s show. I know I will if I’m back in the country.

Well thankfully my yellow Labrador, Jera, isn’t going to get the boot! Nope I’m allergic to smaller nastier things that you can barely see like… Mites! Yuck Have you ever seen how ugly those critters are?And totally microscopic… Best suggestion was to start by buying these tightly woven pillow case covers to go over my down pillows so next stop is Linens and Things. Hopefully it will give me some relief without having to pull out the big guns..like regular allergy shots or bathroom cupboards full of Claritin. I may need to get a cover for our duvet too but the technician recommended I wait till I’ve tried the pillowcase covers for a bit before shelling out even bigger bucks for it.

Mites were the winner with a score of 11, then a couple of moulds but nothing too severe,8’s I think,a pine mix at 7…which I’ll need to greater clarification with that one. Anything 7 or higher is considered troublesome. I believe that is the size of the welt that forms on my arm after being injected with the allergen….in millimetres.

I wasn’t tested for any foods and will have to decide if that is necessary further down the road.

Tomorrow Joe and I are heading to Anaheim California where Hannah,Chris, Blake and Ethan are meeting us Saturday morning to take Disneyland by storm for the following three days. I’m pretty excited. I’ve never been and I am totally pumped to see Ethan and Blake’s expressions as we tour around the two parks,Disneyland and California Adventure. We opted to stay just outside the maingate and I hope that is a good decision. It’s going to be a learning experience for sure.

We’ve made reservations to have dinner at the Blue Bayou restaurant which is inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I can’t believe I’ve fallen for the whole nine yards…American Consumerism at it’s best…. but how often do you get to have this kind of fun with your three year old grandson. I suspect Blake at nine might be a bit more subdued but hopefully not! I’m excited to be going with the two of them,just to experience it through their eyes will make it all worth while.

So see you next week!

ciao

So I saw the doctor on Valentine’s day and she is quite pleased with my progress thus far. The only thing she noted was an appearance of allergies which curiously enough presents itself as a pale interior nostril with clear discharge as opposed to red skinned with a nasty discharge.
So I going in for allergy testing this week to determine what/who/where/when. It’s the kind of testing where they skin prick you to see what hives may or may not develop,plus I suppose the level of sensitivity to the antigen. One comment the doctor made that caused my neck to snap to attention was the mention of a possible reaction of anaphylactic shock when exposed to each substance.

Allergy testing…it sounds so benign but in reality…we’ll see.

ciao

I probably should have done it years ago. I must say I feel a whole lot better since the surgery and am glad I did it.

Well I’m finally back at it. The skiing was so good the Thursday I went. Sunshine and fresh snow in spots. I never got to catch up with my friend Mark because he had to teach a class,but it was fun to be back on the boards again after a nearly two year hiatus. I loved the freedom of exploring the mountain without any real preconceived notions of where I should be or what was the best run. I managed to roam from one end of the resort to another in half a day which was pretty good,considering Deer Valley’s size.
Friday I went over to the Eccles which,for those who have never been there, is the largest screening space in Park City. It’s attached to the high school and is used for all sorts of theatrical presentations and assemblies. It holds over twelve hundred people and screens all the big premieres with the huge entourages. I usually try to see atleast one film there through the festival. Out of the ten possible theatres screening films this year in PC I made it to eight of them. Of course three of those theatres are at our venue while another two of them were press and industry venues. So in reality I was only at three other physical buildings.
I saw two films that day at the Eccles, “Wristcutters:A Love Story”, and “Little Miss Sunshine”, the three o’clock TBA.
Wristcutters was a quirky look at the world of suicide where everything is grey and no one smiles. The protagonist finds himself hooked up with a wacky Russian whose whole family has ended up in this odd universe,and a young woman who is convinced she is there by mistake and needs only to find the guys in ‘white coats’ to get things straightened out. They set out on a road trip in a beat up station wagon with a black hole under it’s front passenger seat,discovering a few things about themselves along the way,not to mention a miracle or two instigated by Tom Waits’ character,Kneller.
Little Miss Sunshine follows the antics of a dysfunctional family under pressure to get its youngest member,Olive, to a LMS beauty pagent in Los Angeles in time for the registration and competition that Sunday afternoon. Climbing into their battered VW van,Saturday morning, they travel from New Mexico through Arizona to California. There’s grandpa who was kicked out of the retirement home because of his penchant for heroin,Olive’s 16 year old brother, Dwayne who has taken a vow of silence until he can become a fighter pilot,her uncle Frank, a leading Proust scholar,just out of the hospital after an attempted suicide with no place to go but his sister’s,Olive’s dad a motivational speaker with a nine step program that noone wants to really hear about,and her mom stalwart and calm(sort of) supporting Olive all the way.There are predictable moments but overall it was a sweet study of a family thrown together unwillingly,then pulling together for one of their own.

Saturday the 27th I actually managed to drag myself out of bed after about four hours sleep to take in two more documentaries,and despite my exhaustion I was really glad that I had.

The first one called “American Blackout” was about the historical disenfranchisement of the black vote,zeroing in on in particular the 2000 and 2004 elections in both Florida and Ohio. Woven into the film is the story about Cynthia McKinney, an African American Democratic Congress woman from Georgia. She is someone who asked difficult questions about the election irregularities in Florida, 9/11, and the handling of it by the Administration,wondering out loud how much was known before the strike, not to mention what connections it had to Iraq before the war started. She paid dearly for those questions…losing her primary in 2002…then regaining her seat through hard work and grass roots organizing in 2004.

Her aim has always been to get at the truth, something the Bush Administration has been loathe to provide.

I think every eligible voter black,white,latino,whomever,but especially the young voting public, should see this film, mostly to be reminded of the importance of our right to vote and how easily it can become derailed by a few well placed people willing to subvert the democratic process.

The second film I saw that day was called an “An Inconvenient Truth”. An equally powerful and disturbing film about global warming and the inconvenient truth that science presents regarding its existence.

The film follows Al Gore in his round the world powerpoint presentation of the global warming crisis. One of the reasons I really liked this film was despite his obvious Democratic connections it was a non partisan film. It was strictly presenting the facts as he and most of today’s scientists see them. He lays them out in a calm ,cool, collected,manner but with an understanding that there is an underlying urgency to change the way people think about global warming. He is  ultimately persuasive,outlining the indisputable correlation between CO2 emissions with exponentially rising temperatures, which in turn are wrecking climatic havoc around the world.

It’s ” activist cinema at its best,for it serves to popularize and demythologize a problem long obscured by those most threatened by the solution….inaction is no longer an option – in fact, it is immoral.”(Caroline Libresco)

Truely this is a film that needs to be seen or better yet, get your high school, church, university,community centre, local chamber of commerce,city council,state or provincial government,etc. to sponser Gore and his presentation in your neck of the woods. From what the director said after the film Gore is constantly updating and adding the latest facts and figures to his presentation. That means you are getting the most relevant and recent information available not something that is stagnant or stale. Go for it..I mean it…
Another thing… if we could all become carbon neutral,ie., expend the same amount of carbon we produce we could have a huge impact on the environment….for the better.

Saturday night after our shift a few of us ended up back at our condo where we imbibed and laughed and took photos and were generally silly until very late or should I say early in the morning….Oh my aching head the next day when housekeeping came bright and early to boot us out.

I met up with my sister and a friend and after getting organized and out of the condo we headed over to Powder Mountain about an hour north west of Park City, very near Snow Basin where some of the skiing for the 2002 Olympics were held.

We rendezvoused with more Colorado gal pals and had three fabulous days of powder skiing..untracked runs until the lifts closed at four pm. Our signal that the day was over was when the signs would go up in the liftie’s booths…. “Ski back to the lodge”…which we dutifully did…I happily, as I am a mere flatlander! But boy oh boy I was feeling pretty chuffed by the end of the three days…good food,good wine, awesome female company….Joe called us the middle aged women’s Olympic ski team. Thirteen hot mamma’s going for the steep and deep.

Skiing under a lift on day two someone going up the lift recognized us and yelled out wondering where all thirteen of us were? How did our reputation get so far so fast? Especially since none of us knew who he was…. Needless to say we were amused:)

We had over two feet of snow dump on us over the three days which meant the heli- skiing enthusiasist’s were thwarted but we managed to have good days anyway…cough cough.

Going up Lightening Ridge behind a Snowcat was an experience and a half. Two or three ropes about fifty or sixty feet long with loops spaced at five foot intervals  dragged behind the cat. We were instructed to slide our poles through the loops and then sit on them(more like lean against) like a T Bar while the cat pulled us up the ridge. It was very cool. Snowboarders would just hang onto the loops flipping their boards back and forth if they got tired.

It took quite a while to dig out my car before heading home Thursday morning. Thankfully the conditions were much clearer this trip and it was an easy drive to Boise where I met Joe. We spent the night in Baker City,then drove through Pendleton where he and Kathy lived for several years before they moved to Portland. I met some of his old neighbours and visited an old favourite haunt where I met another old friend. Luckily for me he drove most of the way home…while I got to snooze.

Ciao

We got some fresh snow last night and fortuitously a friend has offered me a pass to ski at Deer Valley today so I’m heading out to get a few runs and take in the snow and sunshine.
Here’s a brief rundown on the films I have seen since I’ve been here.

Jan 21 “What Remains” was a very interesting documentary about a photographer heralded as a US treasure,Sally Mann. She garnered controversy around her first big show called “Immediate Family” in the early nineties.This film looked at her more recent work which revolved around death and decay.Beautifully shot and compelling.

Jan 22 “DeNadie” and “God Grew Tired of Us” were both documentaries that shared one similar aspect, emigrants moving to the USA .

Denadie focussed on the trials that Central Americans trying to escape the crushing poverty in their respective countries experience traveling to the US while passing through Mexico. Many of them travel via train despite having to face horrors from beatings to rapes to extortion at the hands of rail security,police,or violent gangs called the Maras. Gangs that come from El Salvador principally but who are not held in check by the authorities.

God Grew Tired of Us followed the stories of three Sudanese men who at a very young age had been forced to leave the Sudan along with 27,000 other young “lost boys”, ranging in age from 3 to 13, during the major civil unrest that occurred in southern Sudan in the early 1980’s. They trekked thousands of miles across the desert, first to Ethopia staying until it’s government collapsed when they were forced to move once again this time to Kenya.
They landed in a refugee camp called Kakuna for ten or more years until the US opened it’s doors (pre 9/11) to provide some safe haven for them.
It was quite endearing and sweet to watch as they experienced the culture shock of airplane rides,running water,electricity,refrigeration,supermarkets,etc.
With their efforts to improve their lives here through hard work and perseverence they find themselves increasingly isolated from the comraderie they knew from home and learn to juggle their spiritual and emotional survival with their financial ones. Never forgetting the boys back home they stay in touch,send money back and are working to have schools and medical clinics built for them.
An Aside ….not in the screening I attended but at our theatre, two women were so taken with them they each wrote cheques to the tune of 30,000 dollars for the medical clinic John is building in Sudan. WOW

Jan 23 “The Giant Buddhas” was a story about the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in the hills of Afghanistan. It also looked at the larger picture of the why the west didn’t get involved before hand (as in create it as a World Heritage site prior)instead of when it was too late to save them.
“The Trials of Darryl Hunt” searched for the reasons of the injusticeness of the justice system here in the US in Winston Salem North Carolina. Despite DNA evidence proving his innocence Darryl Hunt,an African American, lost trail after trail in the murder of a young white woman. Never giving up he and his lawyer were only succesful in obtaining his release once they found the real killer. Incredible testament of faith on Darryl’s part and perseverence on the part of those who never gave up his cause.

Jan 24 “Unfolding Florence:The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst. A story about an Australian woman who managed to continuously reinvent herself finally landing on her feet as a designer of exceptional wallpaper and fabric, and her still unsolved murder from 1977. It was the style of filmmaking that grabbed me the most. I liked their use of animation and dramatization in a documentary.

“Black Gold” a very thought provoking and disturbing look at the coffee industry of Africa.
Did you know that coffee originated in Ethopia? me neither.
We follow in particular one man,Tadesse Meskela, who has organized a farmer’s cooperative and is tireless in his efforts to improve the lives of the farmer’s he represents.
This film looks at the unbalanced trade practices of the western world. Africa has only 1 percent of the world market. In the last 20 years as other lesser developed countries have managed to move forward some what, Africa has managed to go backwards and receives more aid now than ever before. If they could increase their world share by only 1 percent they could take in 70 billion dollars.
When will Multi National Corporations recognize that a hand up is better than a hand out?

An Aside…the Holiday theatre is going to become known as the charity theatre. In the premiere screening of this film a patron wrote a cheque for 10,000 to go towards building a school for the cooperative’s children.

Jan 25 “The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends” this is a must see.
While it uses Iraq as its starting point, it’s really about the men and women who go do the killing for the rest of us. However the problem is in today’s war there isn’t an obvious enemy…any civilan could be a terrorist… and because of this soldiers find themselves having to deal with the guilt and confusion of killing innocent people. Post traumatic distress disorder is a common ailment that many return home with,yet the army continues to dispute it is truely a consequence of armed conflict and is slow to help those returning with it. Many groups have sprung up in an effort to help where the government they go to war for will not.

“So Much So Fast” It’s incredible what a family will do when one of their own comes down with a horrible and incurable disease…ALS..Lou Gehrig’s disease. Stephen Heywood at 29 was diagnosed and given a 3 to 5 year life span. His whole family refusing to give up hope jumps in and creates a foundation searching for a cure. It’s an compelling journey to follow….and so far Stephen while now in a wheelchair living with the aid of a respirator and a voice machine is fighting the odds and winning.

Animation spotlight included ten short films ranging from 27 minutes to 4 minutes. Some more amazing than others all fun to watch despite some morbid topics. More on these later.(sorry Chris)

ciao

So the thing about being new to blogging is that items written can disappear without you even being aware of it. I am distressed to discover a blog I started Sunday and finished yesterday didn’t get saved even though I thought I had. So my descriptions of working the night shift along with films I had seen have disappeared into the thin cyber air! Damn! I’ve been having some internet connection trials which has taught me the hard way that you can’t try to send without a good connection. Oh well live and learn.
I’ve seen some terrific doc’s since I’ve been here. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait to hear about them because it’s time for my shift!
ciao

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