Emigrating to Canada? With a Pre-Existing Condition, Maybe Not.

RCMP Musical Ride, Parksville, BC, 21 August 2018

Friends, I’ve had a rough week. An incredible high followed by a crash. I’ll share it with you because I found out something interesting and relevant as a result.

I’ve dreamed of living in a tiny house for years now. I spent my 51st birthday weekend at a Tumbleweed workshop in Vancouver. It’s not practical to try to build it myself; with my physical issues, I’m not...


Readers’ Choice: Standing in Line

The response to last week’s post showed that it really hit a nerve. Many of you mentioned standing in line as a problem too, and when that many of you mention it, it means it’s time to talk about it.

Standing in line is one of my many downfalls too. It was bad enough before my knee injury, when all I had was 3 healed spinal fractures with heavy nerve damage around the upper one. Oddly, my lower back pain improved a lot after the sacral fracture. It displaced slightly and my body is happier with the new layout. The upper fractures, though, seize up suddenly after a long wait in line. I call it “The Clamp,” and only prescription pain medicine will even touch the sides.


Excluded From the Table: Ableism in Restaurant Seating

When discussing restaurant seating for singles on Community of Single People (the online group I belong to), it occurred to me that it’s an intersectional issue. Solo diners are typically made to sit at counters on high stools, often with no back. Many solo diners are older; it’s not just young people they’re relegating to the cheap seats.

In one local lunch café a few years ago, I sat in a booth and was asked to move to the counter because they anticipated a lunch rush within the half hour. I said I was sorry, but that was a deal breaker. I have two healed spinal fractures, and spending half an hour hunched on a stool at the counter wasn’t going to happen. I asked them to cancel my order. They let me stay at the table.


I Survived a Weekend Conference!

You would think it would be easier, not harder, to write a column after a weekend spent at a writers’ conference. I was trying to extract a larger point to write about from my weekend, but I’m a storyteller. I do much better making points with my actual story than by trying to step outside it and generalize to the world. I think readers prefer a personal story too. I know I do.

I’ve had trouble with big events recently and I finally had one go well, or at least not disastrously. It can be as useful to analyze what went right as what went wrong. Maybe you’ll pick up some tips for managing your own big events.


Limitations: When Something Has to Give

So far, despite my bum knee, this has been like Seinfeld’s “Summer of George.” You’ve come with me on my adventures, first to VegExpo in Vancouver, then to Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island. (If you’re sensing a theme here, it’s not your imagination. British Columbia is my Happy Place.) I’ve managed to do my favorite things, albeit differently, despite more physical limitations than usual.

Today I’m pouting because I had to break a grown-up play date I’ve been looking forward to for 6 months. I belong to a Facebook group called Community of Single People. We are about celebrating the best parts of single life, not dating or the assumed quest to become unsingle. Many, though not all, of us identify as Single At Heart—we live our best, most authentic lives this way. Whenever possible, I like to meet my group members in person when we’re nearby. My friend Craig is in Seattle, visiting from New York where he is a college professor. Craig is a cat guy, often proclaiming “My son’s name is Chester.” He does not go to enough concerts (his other tagline). Of course I want to hang out with him! I even bought him 3 boxes of Canadian Girl Guide cookies, which he thinks are as cool as I do. (They’re way better quality than US Girl Scout cookies, no fake ingredients.)


The Bike Trip Diaries: Episode 2

Last week I talked about the difficult choice to bring my car on an annual trip I normally do on my bicycle. I had planned to use bus support on the trip, but that wasn’t enough; my knee was really damaged and it was down to two choices:  take the car or stay home. I took the car.

Getting on the ferry with a reservation was a breeze, but I missed my favorite part of every bike trip—riding across the auto deck before the cars get on. As I roll across the smooth metal floor, my inner 8-year-old shrieks with delight and sometimes my outer adult actually weeps with joy. I lock up at the bike rack and scoot up to the passenger deck before the first car rolls on. This time I waited for the elevator with the parents with strollers and older people with walkers. I got The Look—why is that seemingly able-bodied woman taking the elevator?


The Bike Trip Diaries: Episode 1—Moving to Plan E

Dear Readers, if you didn’t know this about me already, what drives me is my annual summer bike trip. Oh, I don’t usually take just one, I go on lots of 3-and 4-day jaunts, but my annual loop of the Coast Cariboo Trail is my touchstone.

It started after my rehab. My goal, which I set while still on the ventilator, was to ride my bike to Free Spirit Spheres in Qualicum Beach, BC. The Spheres are round treehouses; they’re just magic. It had been on my bucket list for a while. It’s not that it was such a hard thing to do; my pre-crash body would have thought nothing of it, but it’s high-budget, and going north of safe, easily accessible Victoria on Vancouver Island seemed so extreme. I told myself that if I could get back on my bike and ride again, I could go to Free Spirit Spheres. From the moment I struggled to breathe on my own, I was in training for that ride.


Support Networks: A Must For Us

There’s been a lot of buzz about loneliness lately on news and social media. A great deal of importance is placed on “IRL” (in real life) support networks. For people with invisible disabilities, support networks are even more important.

Here’s a point of intersectionality—I’m single and live with no other humans, and many people would consider that a increased challenge in forming a support network. I think it’s the opposite—because I live my life more in the community than in the nuclear family, my support network is bigger and richer.


Fending Off the DIY Power Squad: When It’s Not So Easy For You

My local radio station has a Facebook page and they often run memes with cute questions about your opinions, like “Overhand or Underhand?” with a photo of a toilet paper roll, or related to holidays, like “
Where are you spending the 4th?” Recently they had one that asked, “What can’t you do that other people think is easy?” This one made me feel a little isolated, because there are so many things on that list, but I’d have to explain why, like “using twist-off caps” because my hand is reattached, or “sitting on a barstool longer than 5 minutes” because I have 3 healed spinal fractures. I’m forever explaining myself to people. Once at a party, a friend asked me to open a wine bottle and handed me a waiter’s corkscrew, the kind that folds flat and was about as useful as a Q-tip for getting me into that bottle. I handed it back to her and said she needed to find someone whose limbs had all remained firmly attached since birth.


CSA: A Game Changer

You know those bins of organic produce that people have delivered from farms? You get a random assortment of what’s in season, along with recipes for vegetables that might be less familiar. I used to see those bins delivered to my coworkers and I was so jealous. I always wanted my own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), but the bins were so big, they were designed for at least couples if not big families. After losing my office job, I didn’t have the opportunity to share one with anyone.