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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I am sitting here this grey morning and just laughing. In the last month I have been told so many things by medical professionals and other people concerned with my health that my head is spinning. I have been told to prepare for my death and make peace with God, to take new supplements, to get up and try to get my strength back, that I am unique in my disease process to the point now of them testing me for information on my genes, informed that a drug I took for chemo years ago might collapse my heart,  that in the last month I have managed to knock back the cancer by 30 points. I am spinning.

Right now there is no new growth showing in my lungs, spine, ribs and chest wall. It is still there but it is almost stopped. I am still stage 4, palliative and weaker but I am more than holding my own.

Tim got angry at the Doctors yesterday and wanted very detailed information regarding what is happening. He has been keeping careful track of what they have been telling me. He is hung up on the numbers.
He is pissed off that the information changes from specialist to specialist. And that the fall was so uncomfortable for me because of an overdose of an inappropriate medication. That they were just brushing off the harm they have done to me. He has lost his zen and calm way of talking to them.
His protective self has kicked in overtime.

I was just sitting there leaping on and off the table, spitting into tubes, being kindly molested by caring hands and realized that I have absolutely no control. That the news is good. That they tried and the ones that don't have faith in my ability to keep living don't have any idea who they are messing with.

I have things left to do, to see and people to meet. I will no longer allow the focus of my life to be this disease. It is simply part of me. Like my toe.

I am lucky. I have everything I need. My life has turned out to be a pretty good story. And I just might get another chapter or two.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Good Birthday

I had a lovely birthday this year and it has continued for a few days.

My sweet husband came early from work and took me out to the lovely Bennett Bay Bistro for an amazing dinner overlooking the beautiful Mayne Island seaside. Maggie brought champagne. Astrid gave me homemade bottles of wine, bagels and dye moss. Pamela gave me tulips and daffodils. Calls and e-mails from all over including serenades from family, friends, old co-workers and people I want to know better.

Overwhelmed but feeling loved.

Gayla took me for labs today, dim sum, the beach, the wool store, the antique store and let me measure my new apartment which is in her house. My last Vancouver address. My niece up the street. The lake less than a block away. A wheelchair accessible entrance and a beautiful garden. Cherry  trees, an herb garden and an art studio. Quiet and with lots of light. I have visited this house for more than thirty years. My son lived here before it was redone. And was nursed here when he was a newborn. All of them enjoyed the love from being here. It is the home I waited for a long time.

I have Sweethaven and now a little home in Vancouver for Tim and me. He will not be alone when I am not here.
Wormwood found on beach walk.

Wormwood gathered up in my favourite shawl.

More cake tomorrow . 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

At The Right Time

Maggie always shows up at the right time. To remind me that I am cared about.
Even better that she showed up with treats and Champagne. And because her birthday just passed by and mine is tomorrow and we are no longer 35.

Synaptic Holes

Thought about synapses and impulses all day long.

My work is all about inner landscapes, cell functioning and life force as defined by the botanical and biological. But more consideration and research is needed to take it from object to full blossom.
More experimentation.

I am sad. Hope and future are escaping my life. Medical definitions are stunning me. I am now considered pallativie for all future care. No more healing treatment. All future treatment will be used to make me more comfortable. To try and extend things for awhile. Impossible to comprehend. No capacity to understand mortality.

I am not ready for this and I am stunned by people's push for me to be positive right now. To snap out of this sense of hopelessness. But how do you hope and plan when the other boot is perched and ready to drop. Instead I feel like I am trudging forward. Collapsing into calm and a kind of obedience that has never suited me. Take what is handed. Polite and benign.

I watched a program this week brought over by a new friend. Movie night with chai and Bailey's.
All about brain functioning. I watched intently and considered the beauty of this amazing vehicle that we drive around in for awhile. Our bodies. The command center is even more spectacular and complete. Watching each interaction of a physical and psychological being from conception to death.

Some people are generous through this. Straighten up when things become disordered. But I am lonely in this. It has taken too long. People I love fall away and I don't have time to fill any of the hole that is left. Others know it is there because they have their own and sense a vacancy sign. But there is no vacancy. There is only room for the hole.

Beach at the Georgina Point Lighthouse. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Protested the Ferry Cuts

Made it thanks to River.
A very special day.
The sun didn't fade once.

A few little clips of the day.

Rattle and Shake

I guess the radiation caught up with me. I am more tired than ever.
Latest cancer news is shite. This drug may not be working and the tumours in my chest have grown quite a bit. My cancer numbers are up. For the first time I am not popping back.

Hoping to go to a demonstration about ferry cutbacks in Victoria tomorrow with River and other new friends from Mayne Island.  River found a lovely restaurant for lunch. He is driving all of us in my car. Excited to spend time with politicos again. And to do something that might get heard or at least inspire others to use their voice.

Yesterday I had three different people just drop by. Something I love. People don't take off their shoes here. Something else I love. And they all seem to choose the same chair to sit in.  Near the fire. And everyone who visits has ideas regarding how we can use this big house. I'm glad.  They come for just the right amount of time and then leave. Yesterday I got scones, soup, cookies and cheese buns. So they bring things and do things that are helpful. Gord towed an old  car away and found it a new purpose, River showed me what to do about power and Anita dropped presents and drove Tim to the ferry and all the way home to the house in Vancouver.

Last week there was a "HOOT" in the Ag Hall.  Very old friends were there from Vancouver with a band called the "RESISTERS".  The music was great. The people at my table were great. I kept nodding off because of the cancer drug combo. They made sure I didn't slide to the floor. Even when I started to slide during an incredibly loud electric guitar roar.

I guess my new definition of friendship is those who wait to catch me right before impact or at least don't make the fall any harder.

Yesterday I got a beautiful new bed from Jeremy and Sus. It is a 19th century brass and enamel canopy bed that fits perfectly in my room. The bed came from Hard Scrabble Farm and looks European. It is old, lovely and a perfect place to lay to look out the window while surrounded by Sweethaven.

The bed was dismantled and fit nicely in the car. They labeled all the parts and showed us how to take it apart and put it back together. So intricately and practically engineered. It doesn't rattle and shake. It makes me wonder who was born, made love, slept soundly, had dreams and who died in this lovely bed.
New home and waiting to be polished.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cancer Sucks.

Today I lost another family member to cancer.
That makes more than I can bear to count.
Goodbye Terry. My ginger aunty.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crooked Sticks Two

A long time ago in this blog I told you the story of my adventures in knitting as a four year old.
I expressed a desire to knit. My grandmother handed me her twine ball from the kitchen drawer.
Twisted sticks from the field were what I was convinced I could knit with. All through life my stubborn streak has either been a huge advantage or a curse. Determination set in and I wrapped and tangled the thread for days. The results would be brought to Granny for approval which always came without question. But satisfaction in this case didn't happen for me.

I took knitting lessons in the fourth grade at the Eaton's store in town. They offered refining courses for young ladies. The instructor was a local woman who didn't like children very much. She really didn't like noisy little girls who asked too many questions, twitched with itchy and twisted lisle stockings and whose hair kept getting caught in the needles. I would sit down and try my best. I wanted to learn to knit so badly.

She put on her affected over enunciated semi-British accent and wrapped the yarn in twenty ways around her fingers. I was flummoxed. The wrapping of the yarn around fingers has so little to do with how I knit now. I tried but double jointed fingers and a touch of dyslexia really caused a stumble. No way to know I had mixed dominance then. No understanding of the gifts of having the ability to work with my left or right hand would bring. I watched her unnecessary drama with the yarn and was reminded of tight rope walkers or fancy work with a lasso. All done between the thumb and second and forth fingers.

Things got worse when I asked for help. I was being taught to knit English. My neighbour who was a fantastic knitter knit in the Continental style. The other side knit in the "Ordinary"way. Every single person cast on the wool in a different way!

I took the "easiest" which was finger cast on. A snap. Mastered in 10 minutes. And then I knit away like a pro. Straight stitch of course but with flying fingers and needles. I knew I was going to be the very best in the little class.

Pride took over. Budging the way to the front was easy being a full head or more taller than the other girls and louder coming from a family with no sisters. I was immediately sent to the back of the line as part of my lady training. Red faced me proceeded slowly to show my work to the instructor. She looked at me and at the other girls and said, "This is an example of cheating. She has had her mother knit her work and cast on in the lazy way in the first place. This is cheating."

I was truly stunned. My mother could not knit a stitch and prided herself in avoiding this kind of domestic art. She was beautiful. She avoided any reminder of her working class background. She cooked and entertained and had the cleanest house I have ever been in. But she would never knit!

I was insulted that the instructor was convinced my mother was also a cheater. Falsely accused!. I tried to protest. I was shut right down by the internalized oppression that only women can do to other women. I waited until break and went to the metal stalled bathroom and cried. And I left the store and walked the four miles home.

I was haunted by the instruction book for years. I wanted so badly to knit my family hats and mittens for Christmas. Year after year. I stubbornly wouldn't pick up a knitting needle again for years.

And then one day I was at a work placement for my course work in rehabilitation studies and was surrounded by women who were knitting with old metal needles until sparks flew all over the building. Envy rose and that sick feeling. Failure.

One morning I saw one of the young women with Down Syndrome crocheting her heart out. Beautiful colours. Unconventional but beautiful. She sat and pulled the yarns in and out of one another and I sat and watched. She generously asked me to take a turn. "You do it!"  "Now"  I told her I didn't know how. "No good." "Now". She brought me a new hook and some spare yarn and in one hour she taught me four stitches. " See. Easy!".

What was easy was her lack of artifice. Her tongue chewing determination and her patience and understanding of my own challenge. She was honestly the best teacher I have ever had. I would name her but confidentiality in that environment was required.

I crocheted and crocheted for years. And started to collect knitting needles and yarn. No crooked sticks. The first scarf knitted was a 12 foot long muffler. I didn't know how to cast off or couldn't bear ending the project. And I didn't know how to cast off. I kept adding colours. When the cast off was finally accomplished I had this enormous Isadora scarf that I wore for years. Each time brought compliments.

I go to the pub to knit when in Vancouver. Tuesday night at the WISE Club. There are a little clan of knitters there who discuss changing the world while needles click. Who share skills, yarns, techniques and beer. No stuffy mean women with phoney accents but a few real live English women.
Naughty knitters all. And all loud and a little twitchy.

 Latest knitting project with almost perfect tension and cast on in the Continental style.
I did it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


I'm awake in the night once again obsessing about anything handy.
Obviously not doing the sleeping I should.

I treasure these little night passages. I can hear the even, strong breathing of my partner in the other room. The city is nearly silent with delivery vehicles softly purring from far away to far away.
It is never dark here like it is on Mayne Island. It shimmers always.

On Mayne I get up in the big house and watch the clouds float over the moon and try to place the stars. And watch shaky little plane lights quiver from one horizon to the next.

My obsessions range from worrying about the protein balance in the mash for the chicks that are arriving this week and remember my Gran feeding them warm pablum until their little bellies swelled, their contented cheeps and watching as they fell asleep almost instantly. Narcoleptic chickens.

To wondering how they all are. All the loved ones. My children. My brothers.The Tinies. My mother.
My Love.

I can't call them. It is the middle of the night and they are sleeping.

There used to be a time when I could check on their baby dreams and know if I could hear them they were just fine. Sometimes they used to open their beautiful blue eyes and smile and go back to sleep. Like chicks. Tim does that sometimes when I am watching him in the night. And sometimes I awaken to his blue eyes watching me.

I need to crawl in the little cubby at the back where we sleep. Under the Yellow Quilt. I will just have to bring them all with me and tuck them in too.

Obsessive drawing- Egg Clutch

Night Sky Collage- in process.