Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Road Trip Goes Awry

I was home from Lake O'Hara only a couple of days before we set out on our B.C. road trip. To celebrate my 70th birthday and our 49th wedding anniversary our first stop was Island Lake Lodge for two nights. We arrived September 12th, right on time for me to go directly to the 2.5 hour spa treatment/massage I'd booked. The clouds were down to the ground and it rained for most of our time there. On the heels of the O'Hara hikes (which I will never regret) I confess to not being up for the steep trails at Island Lake. I may have mentioned that both my knees need replacing, well patella resurfacing for sure. My left knee constantly radiates pain up to the hip and down to my foot. Until surgery (likely in the new year) I'm managing with T3s and Diclofenac cream.

On the porch of Red Eagle Lodge (our lodge, one of 4) in a brief moment of sunshine on my birthday, September 13th, 2018

The food at Island Lake Lodge is extraordinary. We'd eaten a substantial lunch en route, so we simply grazed on sumptuous appetizers that first evening. On our day, we indulged in a full-on decadent dinner that night ...
Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary in the Tamarack Lodge Dining Room at Island Lake Lodge, September 13th 
September 14th, leaving Island Lake Lodge.  The eco system on the west side of the Rockies is entirely different from that on the east 
Next stop was four nights with Win and John. Meg and Paul, from Canmore, timed it so they would be staying in Creston at the same time. It had been two years since the Skimmerhorn Sextet had assembled at the Dinn's. Unfortunately, it was too cold to sit on the winery's amazing patio - which affords a view to rival any in Tuscany. Their food and wine more than made up for the weather plus the company was in fine form.

The Skimmerhorn Sextet after yet another fantastic luncheon at Skimmerhorn Winery
At this time of the year one must wander through the vineyards!

The boys were left to their own resources while the gals played with paint in Win's new studio - they've moved since our last visit ...

Lots of industry but nothing was completely finished!
Of course there were the daily happy hours!

It was while we were in Creston that I began feeling 'off'. I couldn't get through a day without having a nap, nor could I focus on making more than backgrounds.

On the 18th, we bid farewell to our pals in Creston to embark on a long travel day along Highway #3 to Tsawwassen where we caught the ferry to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. A half hour drive from there brought us into Victoria. Promptly on arriving at our accommodation I vomited for the second time that day.

With Sharlene in Victoria's Chinatown, September 19th

After gallivanting, with me/us, all day long, hitting all the art supply stores, and other favourite haunts, Sharlene went home to prepare a fabulous dinner for us. The meal stayed down and I even braved some wine ...

With Sharlene and Ray at their place

The following day Bill drove me, Carole and Sharlene to Sidney for lunch and a look see. On our arrival, at 11am, I was so tired that I crawled into the back seat and slept for an hour while everyone shopped. Driving back into Victoria we stopped in to see "Oh the Places We've Been!" Sharlene was one of the artists in the three-woman-show exhibited at the Coast Collective.


With Sharlene and Carole.  You'd wouldn't know that minutes before this photo was taken I'd barfed up my lunch

Over the next two days the gals pleaded with me to go to the ER but I held off. I stopped thinking I had a flu bug when I vomited white rice. Then overnight, when I got up to go pee, nothing came. Still unable to pass urine Saturday morning (October 22nd) we took me to emergency at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

It was a few hours before I got to see a doctor. The results of the blood work, which was done as soon as I arrived, indicated that my kidneys had failed. Not being able to void was frightening enough but imagine suddenly being told I was looking at dialysis?  The Foley catheter they installed produced nothing, my ureters were obstructed. 

My blood pressure has never been high but that morning it was off the charts at 197/89. It remained high during my eight day hospital stay even though I was put on a beta blocker, Metoprolol, which I am to take for one month. My blood pressure has since returned to normal.

Bill keeping the girls informed.  I spent a day and a night in the hall of the emergency room

On the morning of September 23rd, I had nephrostomy tubes installed. The right kidney drained copious amounts of urine while the left seemed to have little to give. Neither the CT scan nor the ultrasound detected tumours and scar tissue was suspected to be the reason for the blockages.

I missed the last two nights of our Airbnb booking and when Bill left the accommodation he moved in with Carole, who has lived a four minute walk from the Jubilee for the past thirty-eight years. It was Carole's husband, Chuck, whose memorial we missed, in May, because of my hospitalization and subsequent surgery.  

The nephrostomy tubes drained into my urine 'purses'

There was also bloody, foul smelling discharge from both my rectum and my vagina. You'll recall that both are truncated; I no longer have a uterus and with the colostomy bag my rectum is not attached to my colon. I honestly thought I might be dying. It certainly seemed as though I was rotting from the inside out.

For five days, I was pumped with IV fluid, supplemented with magnesium and potassium. My kidneys responded beautifully and on September 28th the external nephrostomy tubes were internalized as stents from my kidneys to my bladder. I stayed in hospital a few more days to insure all was stable and that I was voiding smoothly in the normal way. I contracted a bladder infection and left hospital armed with a ten-day regime of antibiotics.

Our Island friends were so kind and supportive, many visited me daily and I did get to go outdoors on fine days ... 

With Arlene in the Royal Jubilee's charming Japanese garden courtyard
The west coast was showing off its autumn colours

I was discharged October 1st. Excited to be free, we met Joe and Carol for lunch before wandering Fort Street and Oak Bay Avenue. Forgetting that I'd been mostly bed ridden for a week I expended too much energy. By days end I crashed. It was apparent that our plan to stay on the island for a few more days, with Mary and Tom at their place, had to be cancelled. We spent that night at Carole's and caught a morning ferry back to the mainland on the 2nd. We took two days to drive home, narrowly missing Alberta's freak October 1st blizzard.

On October 4th, we were to have flown to Saskatoon to spend Thanksgiving with Denise, Larry and Avery but that too had to be cancelled. I was delighted when they said they'd make the seven hour drive here to be with us for two nights ...

October 6th after our Thanksgiving feast, cooked by Larry

We also celebrated Avery's and my birthdays

Since being home I've had another CT scan (October 10th) which revealed that my kidneys have made a total recovery but that the cancer has returned, this time in my liver. Dr. Glaze, my surgical oncologist, tells me that without treatments I won't be fairing very well by March. We meet with her October 29th to discuss the course of action. For my family and because I myself want to 'buy' more time I've reconsidered and I'm prepared to undergo chemotherapy, again. In spite of the anger I have over all this, I'm in a  good head space and have no physical pain, beyond the leg. I prefer to say I'm living with cancer as opposed to fighting it. Please root for me in any way you wish - thank you.   

I'm thrilled to report that Laura is coming (solo) for ten days, arriving from Manila on November 11th. Denise too will be here with us for the weekend that falls within her sister's visit.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Lake O'Hara 2018

Lake O'Hara viewed from Sargent's Point, September 6th, 2018

Lake O'Hara never disappoints. We paint the same vistas and hike the same trails because they are all just so incredibly beautiful. Although I haven't been on all her expeditions this was the 12th year running that Patti Dyment arranged a painters/hikers trip to O'Hara. With the increasing numbers wishing to visit the area combined with Parks Canada's lottery system (to keep the area protected from over use) it has become increasingly difficult to arrange a stay at the Alpine Club of Canada's, Elizabeth Parker Hut. This year, Patti was given seven spots for three nights, September 6th to 9th.

On day one, five of us set to painting the classic viewpoint at Sargent's Point, again. Dave and Sharon Williams arrived the following day.

Pat and Bob Alin created watercolour /pen and ink sketches
Ralph Temple joined us for the first time and worked in oils

Patti and I painted in oils
We so enjoy working together!
Patti's oil from Sargent's Point, 12" x 16", is likely framed and hanging in a gallery somewhere ...

... while my oil from Sargent's Point, 12" x 12", remains unfinished languishing on a shelf!

Day two, we set off on the Oesa Trail with Victoria Lake and Falls as our destination.

Mount Odaray reflected in Lake O'Hara
With Pat on top of Sargent's Rock with Mount Odaray as backdrop

Our lunch spot, Victoria Lake and Ringrose Peak

Victoria Falls, just below Victoria Lake, is a particular favourite with all of us!

Ralph had his own adventure hauling all his oil painting gear, up to Victoria Falls, but ultimately caught up to us. We crammed into what little space there is, at this point along the Oesa Trail, to paint the Falls. Patti, Pat, Bob and I brought our watercolours for  their manageable size and weight. Here I made the worst painting of my entire life. No, you can't see it, my pride won't let me post it. Times like these are needed to keep me humble!

With Pat and Ralph at Victoria Falls. Even with my wretched painting I'm thrilled just to be there

Coming down from Victoria Falls, Pat spied this solitary mountain goat

Day three, was cooler, the clouds rolled in and the wind came up but the rain held off. It eventually cleared off entirely. Everyone, except Ralph who opted to paint from the shore of Lake O'Hara, hiked up onto the Opabin Plateau.

On the West Opabin Trail Pat is along side my favourite trees. Mary Lake below and Cathedral Mountain in the background
Pat, myself, Sharon, Dave, Bob and Patti at one of the many pools on the Opabin Plateau
While the rest of us hiked, the keeners (Sharon and Patti) painted.  The larches were just beginning to turn
A larch tree well on it's way to it's spectacular autumn colour
The O'Hara Lodge dock with canoes perfectly posed, on our return from Opabin

Day four dawned rainy and gloomy with no prospect of the weather improving so most of us called the expedition a wrap and caught the 11am bus out. As is always the case, it was a wonderful time leaving us with delightful memories.

I'm over a month late with this post because there was another trip, immediately on the on the heels of Lake O'Hara that presented something quite undesirable. Stay tuned.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Out of Art Hibernation

Canmore, Flora and Fauna, 12" x 24" cradled panel with images painted in oil on a vintage topographical map from 1980

Canmore's Mountain Avens Gallery, as The Avens Gallery was initially called, represented my art from the time Arlene Curry opened it in June 1986, through two subsequent owners, for twenty-four years. Almost a decade after leaving the gallery, when we returned, last year,  to Canmore (from Claresholm) it was both an honour and a terrific boost to my ego when the current gallery manager, Betti Irwin, invited me back.

December 16th, 2017, The Avens, staff, owners and some of their gallery artists. Betti Irwin is second from right

It isn't likely that I'll resume painting sizeable, traditional landscapes which did and would again work so perfectly in the Avens. Much has changed with me. After considerable soul searching I met with Betti to explain what I wanted to do. I had asked Cheryl Baxter, owner of Elevation Gallery and The Hive, if she would represent me. Betti is a compassionate and understanding individual who wished me well. Cheryl accepts that I may be sporadic in suppling art. She asked for my alternative works, on cradled panels, and could I deliver five to seven of them for Labour Day?

Credit must be given where it's due. It was Win Dinn who inspired me to incorporate mixed media elements and techniques into making art. It was Patti Dyment who conceived the notion that we could paint on topographical maps ... 

Covering cradled panels with topo maps and other assorted, fun, commercial papers, March 4th, 2018

Without a proper studio in our Canmore townhouse, I paint at our kitchen table where the light pours in from the window above the sink and the east facing patio doors. In January, I invited myself to paint with Patti in her ample, open concept kitchen/living/dining rooms. Thinking it would be a one day play date, imagine my delight at being invited back on a regular basis. While painting is a solitary act even when we are together, just being in the same space with another artist doubles the energy. We share ideas, help each other in exploring potential ways to resolve painting problems and we explode in laughter frequently.  

Working on 'Bighorn Range' at Patti's, March 5th, 2018

Being a real last-minute-Jenny I was truly under the gun when Patti welcomed me to her place for and a three-day painting binge, August 25th, 26th and 27th. These dates were sandwiched by two days of painting at home where I both started new and completed unfinished paintings. 

August 25th, 2018, while Patti worked on two large canvases I furiously painted small pieces for Elevation Gallery 

On August 31st, I delivered eight new paintings and two older works ...

Bronze Beauty - iris painting in oil on a commercially printed paper background 12" x 12" $700.
Canmore Flora and Fauna - oil vignettes on a vintage topographical map (from 1980) 12" x 24" $1260.
Chickadee Song - oil on vintage sheet music (Oh Mother of Mine) 8" x 8" $560.
Bighorn Range - oil on a vintage topographical map (from 1980) 10" x 10" $700.
Mule Deer and Aspens - oil on a vintage topographical map (from 1980) 12" x 12" $840.
Swan Elegance - oil on commercially printed paper background 12" x 12" $840.
Great Horned Owl Stare - oil on a hand marbled Italian paper background 12" x 12" $840.
"Red" the Bobcat - oil on commercially printed paper background 8" x 8" $560.
Etherial Beauties
oil irises on an acrylic background 12" x 6" $630.
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
oil day lilies on an acrylic background 12" x 6" $630.

Cheryl and I shake on our new association
Had to show you both of these photos

Please stop in to see my new works. You'll find some in the street level Elevation Gallery as well as The Hive upstairs. Do visit The Avens Gallery while you are in town as well.