This painting by Jack Baumgartner portrays Jacob Wrestling the Angel from the book of Genesis. It’s a central metaphor for this blog – wrestling with life, health, urban issues, and even with God.
I’d turn south on River Street. It’s here I’d recognize that while I’ve only cycled 5km to this point, that I am in a different world. I’d ride through Regent Park and see girls at 7am working the sex trade; they seemed so lost and broken. As I rode past them they looked at me often hoping I might be their next customer.
So many stories. So many real people with real blood running through their veins. Homelessness is not the entire CV/resume of the folks we see on the street. My life has been so enriched by the privilege of being able to hang out with very real, caring, compassionate, intelligent, broken people.
Now that I’m learning myself what it’s like to be in a wheelchair, I too have a different view of things. Not only a different view on life, but actually a different view of the things that I see in front of me. I’ve taken some photographs of how things look for me from this perspective and thought I would share them.
On landscaping, swimming, cemeteries, physical distancing, and whatever else comes to mind (part 3 of 3)
One of the things we wanted to do was to elevate the yard so that I could actually reach the soil and pull out a weed or two along the way. It’s kind of an accessible yard now which is kind of cool. But before that could happen things had to be turned upside down.
On landscaping, swimming, cemeteries, physical distancing, and whatever else comes to mind (part 2 of 3)
With Erinn being on holidays these past few weeks, we’ve been taking longer walks together. It’s been quite lovely to check out different parts of the city.
One thing I love to do is go through cemeteries. There’s something about them that grounds me I guess. And in the city, a cemetery is like an oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life.
On landscaping, swimming, cemeteries, physical distancing, and whatever else comes to mind (part 1 of 3)
The first time we went to see Cate at camp, she had it all set up so that I could possibly go swimming that day. I was incredibly excited and a little scared as I haven’t been in a lake or a pool since I’ve been in this wheelchair, which has been 2 1/2 years. The guys that are working there were willing to put me on the lifeguard board and haul me down the hill to the lake. I’ve done this many times before when I was using the mobility scooter but it’s been a few years since doing that and my body is not quite the same as it was then.
It’s been a decent month overall. Still no COVID, knock on wood. It’s been an incredibly hot summer. Many days over 100°. Thank God for air-conditioning I guess.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve been here so I thought it would be a good time to put something up. There is so much happening in the world right now and it’s hard to know even where to start with random COVID-19 thoughts. But anyways, here are a few;
1. Racism. Even though I am now a visible minority given that I am in a wheelchair, I still have very little idea what it’s like to be a person of colour. Yes I do now know what it’s like to be judged just based on appearance, and I know how much that hurts and pisses me off, but I don’t know what it’s like to be afraid of authority just because of the colour of my skin. I’ve never been pulled over for a traffic violation and been worried that something horrible could go down just because I was black. So I have been doing my best to shut up and just listen and hopefully learn.
2. My wheelchair is fixed thank God. So that’s dealt with. But then we have already had two heat waves this spring end all of a sudden our air conditioner died. Given that it was 25 years old and doesn’t owe us any favors, we had to replace it. Such is life I guess. But what a pain in the ass these things are.
Still first world problems I guess.
3. My aunt died today. My dad’s brother’s wife. They were married for 51 years. She was one of my mother‘s best friends to the very end. They went for walks pretty much every day. She has been a part of my life since the day I was born and it was sad to hear of her passing today. She has two sons, one of which was in my class all the way through grade school, the other being a little younger but became one of the best trumpet players and nicest people I knew. One of them lives in Alberta with his family and the other lives in Korea with his. COVID-19 will not allow them to be at their own mother’s funeral in Newfoundland.
A sad day for everyone involved.
4. One of my very good friends is a bit of an expert in leading mindfulness groups. So now that the weather is nice, a few of us are meeting, with appropriate physical distancing of course, in his backyard every couple of weeks to do some mindfulness together. I am so very pleased about that, not just for the mindfulness exercise, but because I get to see good friends in real life and not just in cyberspace. I was also hosting a communal contemplation group before this whole pandemic thing struck. We are soon going to meet in a park to give that a shot again. I’m looking forward to that.
5. I’m trying to train my moustache to curl up at the ends using wax. I’ve been growing it out for a while now. Lots of ugly stages but with not going out in public too much it’s been a good time to try. Still not there but getting closer.
6. After what feels like a gazillion years of promising myself I would try to write a book, I’m finally doing it. At least hopefully…
COVID-19 is giving me the time and space to focus my thoughts. That’s why I haven’t been blogging as much these days. I’ve been writing stuff for this alleged book. We shall see where that goes.
7. This past week I would have celebrated 23 years on the current job that I had. I loved my job. I am sad that I can no longer work. When I posted this on Facebook, I got so much love from people in different spheres of my life. I didn’t post it seeking that kind of affirmation, but boy did it mean a lot to me.
I still hopefully feel the same way as I did when I could work which is summed up in my thoughts below.
So much hate.
So much racism.
So much fear.
So much violence.
So much finger pointing.
So much exclusion.
So much homelessness.
So much politics.
So much sickness.
So much death.
We need more
These are a few of my random COVID thoughts this past week as I have felt the tension of being both happy and angry at the same time.
1. I will start with angry. My wheelchair is broken. It has been for over a week now. One of my foot rests has broken off. Also, the legs don’t go all the way down making it impossible to do the things I need to do without someone having to put my actual legs underneath the wheelchair legs so that I can get into my elevator. I also need someone to put my actual legs down in order to eat a meal. And yes; that is frustrating for the girls, and dangerous for me.
So when the maintenance guy came in, charging me money to make an appearance of course, he proceeded to tell me that there was nothing he could do to fix it and that I would have to order a whole new leg contraption. So when I called the office to order it, they told me I needed to pay up front and that they couldn’t tell me how long it would take to get it. Then they proceeded to tell me that it will cost a few thousand dollars. And me being me of course, I couldn’t stop myself from being sarcastic and very frustrated on the phone. Not that it mattered.
And as I am completely dependent on the wheelchair, I had no choice but to pull out the old visa card and pay it with no real sense of how long it will take before I actually got the part replaced. More so than even a car, these folks know they have you by the short and curlies, so to speak. Thankfully today, I got a call saying that they will be by either on Thursday or Friday to fix it.
As frustrated as I am, I guess that’s something…
2. Speaking of angry and happy at exactly the same time, there is the conversation about homelessness. The awesome part this week is that the folks at the shelter are used to run, Gateway, helped to house a whole lot of people this week. 27 people who were living outside in an encampment got their own apartments this week. Gateway staff helped each and every one of them move into their new places. Then, 18 guys who were living in our actual shelter (I’m noticing I still use the word ‘our’ even though I haven’t worked there in years. I feel very protective over the place and still a part of the work, as distant as I am) moved into hotel rooms, making social distancing much better and safer for them as well as the guys left at Gateway. I’m so proud of Jake and his staff at Gateway. Such great work on behalf of folks with no home during this strange time.
But the part that makes me angry is seeing the pictures of the crowds at Trinity Bellwood‘s park. They seem so oblivious and uncaring of the fact that people are dying from this disease. They are, and are acting, so privileged. They all have places to go and seem to just not care about whether they start spreading this disease all over again. And none of them got tickets even though folks on the street are getting ticketed for simply sitting on a park benches too close to one another.
And they literally have no place to go.
And their encampments are being bulldozed by the city.
Then the mayor of Toronto had his picture taken in the park with his mask down over his chin talking to folks far too closely behaving as though he didn’t care as well.
Such blatant hypocrisy.
So anger, frustration and Joy are filling my spirit this week. All at the same time.
I’m going to do my best to choose joy over the others.
As hard as that is…
I really lucked out when she agreed to marry me.
She had a birthday this week. I believe she’s getting more beautiful, inside and out, with every passing year. The earth has rotated around the sun 45 times with her on it and it is a much better place because of it.