Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tubes Out Tomorrow

Tim's tubes come out tomorrow. It looks like we have managed to get through part two.
We find out what part three is tomorrow morning.He is raw and uncomfortable with the tubes but he is up and making me coffee.

I had hoped to enter a miniature show in Parksville but will have to wait for next year.

First things first.

Will try and catch up on my books today.

Can\t wait to write about cloth again.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lillies and Laughter

Christine arrived today bearing beautiful live lillies. She made us laugh. Tim has to use a pillow to hold his innards in when he laughs but he managed to chortle away. She jumped on a plane to see them, they were horrible and she jumped back on plane the next morning and came all the way home to Vancouver.

What could be funnier than other people's distress at crazy relatives? Mine are crazy enough for all of us and hers are good companions to mine.

Today I let obligations fall by the wayside, rented movies, and ate take-out. Tonight I still have the laundry and dishes but they will get done. Tim looks safe and well.

Tim's sweet cousin Margaret phoned from Canforth in Northern England and told us not to visit the south again. She said we are born Northerners with our radical ideas and need to laugh. She is a professor in Cumbria. I love it there and don't have the heart to tell her I was born in Quebec to an Irish mother. She thinks my family all live in Yorkshire for some reason. My Chauncey ancestors came from there centuries ago and the house still exists but my English cousins live near London in a place called Rickmansworth. Same street since the 1300's or something.

Turns out that Tim's Aunt Alberta told Tim's father George that old Aunty Margaret had died and George thought it was Cousin Margaret and sympathy calls arrived at Aunt Alberta's house. Everyone went into a panic because they thought Cousin Margaret had died. Cousin Margaret called to assure us she was alive and kicking and that Aunt Margaret died a good death in her sleep at 93.

Also turns out that Cousin Fiona is about to marry a man from the Nederlands. This now means we have likable family in a favourite country in Europe.

Will have a toast for old Aunt Margaret and one for Cousin Margaret just to celebrate life.

Here is to gene pools!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Did I tell you how very tired I feel?

Future Planning

Tim is very aware and bright now. His ability to move from close to death to fully alive has been astounding. All tubes will be removed on June 1. He is no longer taking opiates for pain and is managing with a mild pain killer. He insisted on having his hair washed today and went out of the house for a small walk. He wanted to go alone.

This means transitioning from full care nurse to watchful companion and help mate. Very hard to do because I am naturally hyper-vigilant. Did it anyway. It is his life and he needs some privacy now that there is little danger from his lowered blood pressure and drugged state. His tissues are healing beautifully. So is his spirit. He asked me to sit down and start making future plans today.

Plans are a good idea but we are not sure what is required for him medically yet. It could mean more surgery, radiation and chemo. I learned that planning needs to be very flexible when going through something this big but that planning creates hope.

I haven't had much time for art because I am it right now. I start working solid from early morning until late at night. Clothing changes happen a few times a day. So do sponge baths, feeding, cleaning up, tons of laundry and sterilizing. Tim has to eat five times a day and have lots of fluids that need to be prepared. It is rather like looking after a small baby who is completely articulate and able to express both pleasure and displeasure. He isn't completely helpless but knocks me off kilter when he tries to "help". I am so tired that I need to maintain a rhythm and create energy to get everything done.

Tim looked after me for a very long time to get me well. It worked. He knows what he is doing.

Watched Avatar tonight and had hoped for more. Wonder about the need for such awful battles.
Like the idea of coming together for healing and energy and loved the images of the earth wrapping around those needing healing. Octavia Butler also uses that kind of imagery in healing using plant vessels.

I need more plants!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tim is Home!

Tim is home.

Pass the peaches!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Up and Nearly Home

Tim is up and walking and nearly home. He is dragging tube, bells and whistles everywhere he walks. He had a tantrum today and swung around in a fit of peak and disconnected his urine contraption. Christened everything in sight! He calmed down and behaved after that.

Tim's surgeon came running back to the hospital at noon to tell us good news. Most of the pathology is in and the margins look clean. More about that later.

The old gangster left today. He left us his treats and said we could come and visit him. I think I will. He definately livened up the place.

Kids have shown up and made life easier. Am now busy removing every ornament and peripheral object on site to keep a sterile surrounding for Tim. I thought I got rid of lots of stuff.
I now know it breeds.

Ate chocolate and whiskey for supper. Had a bath and curled up.

Memories of a visit to New York. I rented an apartment and my traveling partner had a date, abandoned me and was very late home. Wouldn't have mattered much except the doorknob came off the old, enormous bathroom door, locking me inside. I was in there for almost five hours, shivering cold until I kicked the door down or loosened the lock or something. Said roomate arrived soon after because he couldn't get me on the phone and had a feeling something was wrong. I was still shaking when he arrived and was kind enough to calm me and feed me tea and bickys.

Tea and bicks are always a good idea.

Thanks for all the kind words and support. It has been really great to find out so many people keep track of me on the blog.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


So this is what exhaustion looks like!

There are really remarkable people all over the hospital. Tim's fellow ward mate is an old gangster who is about ninety years old. He can curse like no one I have ever heard and I used to be a street social worker! He can also chuck food, medications, bedpans....etc. Occasionally one of his equally challenging friends come by and pull out huge wads of fifty dollar bills.
He plays the track and bootlegs from the sound of it. His name is Nick and he is clearly one of the old Italian guys who used to live all around the Drive.

I had finally had enough of his tantruming and went over and sat on his bed and told him to "shut up" and then started rubbing his head and combing his hair. I told him I would tell him which one of the Nurses put out and would go get him a bottle of wine. I also told him my husband was asleep and he was kinda cute. I also told him I had just broken in and that he was my next victim if he wasn't nicer to the nurses.

He was completely silenced and then cracked up and completely fell apart laughing. I stole him a muffin from the tray and said that I would take out the next nurse who bothered him.
Two nurses came in and asked if he needed anything. I told them that he wanted them to shut-up and that I wanted him to shut-up before he woke up my husband. Nurses scurried out. Old Chinese mother in the next room gave me a little sweet.

Sometimes it take very little to make an old gangster happy! I will probably be happy for the next week. If he shuts up. Else I am going to have to take him out or give him another head rub!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surgery Done

Tim is now resting comfortably after what appears to be a successful surgery. He barely bled and the surgeon said it went as well as can be expected. Everything looked clear and contained so they were able to proceed with the radical surgery. We won't know about the lymph nodes and surrounding tissue for at least a week.

In the meantime he is enjoying the benefits of a liberal morphine pump. The man is so funny when wavering between twilight and concious.

How can anyone be that handsome with tubes coming out of his nose?

Just exhausted!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


The worst part of this whole cancer business is the waiting. Waiting, waiting and more waiting.
It is only two days more until Tim's surgery. He is having radical surgery on May 18 and will be in the hospital from 6:00am. His surgery is being done at Burnaby General Hospital and his surgeon is Dr. Warner. Expected surgery time is about 4 or 5 hours. Expected recovery time is about one month with a hospital stay of 3 - 5 days. They will first look at his lymph nodes and determine whether there is any point to continue with surgery. If so, his bladder will be detached and his prostate and lymph nodes removed. They already know there will be fairly extensive nerve damage. They hope to be able to reattach his bladder.

Prostate surgery is normally a simple enough process. That isn't the case if the cancer is more advanced. His cancer is advanced. His surgeon is capable and has a good reputation. He will have good care. One of our sons is an advanced paramedic and he will make sure that things are going well. I was a practical nurse in the long distant past and have experience caring for very ill people. I can still make a bed and do a patient transfer with my eyes closed.

Tim is a very strong and dynamic man. At this moment he is painting the back deck so he has somewhere pretty to be while he is healing. We planted salad and flowers for the near future.

Friends have been calling and are starting to show up and reassure him. He is in a mood that can be described as like the character "Data" from Star Trek. Straight ahead, no humour, eyes front, and literal. I am finding this a bit hard. He is a Brit. Very Brit. I am a Newf and Irish. Very Newf.
He cuts off an arm and say,"Oh bother!" I get a scratch and scream for last rites. Both processes work. I am rarely disappointed and he is just a little bothered.

Want all of this in the distant past. Soon!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Had a great day. Tim dragged me out for breakfast take-out at the beach and Bren and Meg came over and brought lunch consisting of samosas, an incredible quinoa salad, halva and bliss balls from Sweet Cherubim. Dane called and chatted.

Presents included a rosemary bush, a toast brander with the image of the Virgin Mary and a Unitarian Universalist bumper sticker. Impossible to find. Who knew you would get presents just for having the kind of kids you wanted?

Tim and Chrissy and I celebrated far too much last night by drinking organic potato vodka and eating Greek food. I was fine but Tim wasn't. Brendan dragged his sorry butt out to the hockey game. The first moment I have had alone in weeks.

Found my room, sorted and got rid of extra clothes. Now have one closet, one dresser, and one armoire. That is for both winter and summer. Have one basket of shoes and one of boots.
I only have the office left before tackling the kitchen. Who needs fourteen bread pans? Rarely eat or cook bread anymore. I am really loving having all this extra breathing space. Purpose of all of this is to make more room in this tiny house. I grew up in big houses and have never adjusted to living small. The exception to this is the few years I traveled with backpack, lived vans, boats and tents in the early seventies. I prided myself then in being able to move with a backpack and a shopping cart. Now the grocery delivery truck might be challenged.

Simple living will take some time but I am looking forward to it.

Tim looks really good. A little more than a week until his surgery.

Sometimes I read over this stuff I write and realize I sound like a prissy old woman. Shocking considering I used to sing with Sluts for Social Justice and don't think I have a prissy bone in my body. Except that I like people who have clean hands. Hmmmmm. That Virgin Mary Toast brander has got me to thinkin'.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Finished a roaring trip to the desert. We drove from Vancouver to Pendleton, Oregon where some of my family story still is alive. Walked around town and felt the influence of the place on my continued family history. Dropped into the Pendelton Woolen Mill and bought a blanket that wasn't patterned but all white because it reminded me of the sheep my Gran raised both in Pendleton and Alberta. Understood so much about her while standing in the place. Bought the balcony railing from the old hotel in Stanfield for my house and found baby shoes circa 1900. Same as Gran. If they weren't her shoes they belonged to someone she knew.

Drove to the Great Salt Lake from there and journeyed to the Spiral Jetty and waded in the salt water. Had to drive miles along a ranch road, dodge a grumpy bull and keep shooing ornery cows and calves out of our way. Tim was a little shocked to hear that I could still use the appropriate tone and poster to shoo livestock. Ran into a Wiccan Celebration when we arrived, saw a flock of buzzards, a Golden Eagle, and an Azure Butterfly. Tim went walking and I perched on a rock overlooking the Jetty and was kept company by a blue skink. Gorgeous thing.

Returned to the Tabernacle but had to leave because it felt so oppressive to me. Salt Lake City is a testament to order and control. It is also in the most beautiful environment.

Left for Nevada and ran into a place called Rolling Mountain Thunder which is the most remarkable achievement of folk architecture in the desert. Couldn't leave but the winds were howling and we were warned the roads were going to close if we didn't hoof it. We ended up in Reno which was a complete trip. Ended up thrift store shopping but was overwhelmed by all the showgirl props and clothing. Favourite by far was a pair of hip high pink Suede boots that were high heeled wedges and pink mink from half way up. Decided to leave when I watched to e;elderly blue haired women dressed in pink pants suits do a drug deal with Amyl Nitrate and LSD.

Got stuck in the Donner Pass in a blizzard with high winds and impossible roads. Being Canadian, we trooped through. Saw a truck driver cry from the stress of the journey. Saw more than one person weeping in the road stops from fear!

Drove through the fruit farms and wondered if the USA would fall apart without the effort of the many Mexican and Central American workers and without old women having to deal drugs to survive. Met a woman whose mother refused cancer treatment because she didn't want to wipe out her husband and children financially.

Arrived in San Francisco for a real holiday and ate Tapas and toured one of my favourite towns. Bought a beaded velvet jacket to remind my self that Janis Joplin and the Haight still resides in me somewhere.
Got stuck on top of a double decker bus on top of the Golden Gate Bridge in a gale and hailstorm and discovered a new will to survive or at least have a warm toddy. Walked for miles home and through Fort Mason and saw the bottle brushes and huge Agaves. Entertained myself with the funny amusement automatons at the Musee Automatique. Ate sandwiches and Chowder on the Wharf. Listened to blues in the streets and watched a young man play his guitar while standing on his head and thought about the Reno grannies and the farm workers. Watched a crippled street beggar push his wheelchair down the road at the end of the day.

Saw the beautiful Oregon Coast and awoke to a pounding surf. Ate the bread pudding of all bread puddings. Found Myrtle beach wood like bones on the beach.

Listened to the hate of the "Tea Party" people while they were planning to protest the protests against hate in Oregon. Met a caravan of the group " Jews for Jesus" who were also planning a protest and hoping to join with the "Tea Party " people. They were worried about paying taxes and thanked us for sharing our table . I explained that that was okay because we were Canadian and real Canadians shared everything!

Embroidered a white work, dug for rocks and rusty bits. Attended just a few museums and art shows and travelled like there was no tomorrow. Enjoyed my man, good food and coming home!

Pictures will follow.