An Epic Adventure

Eight rice and bean dinners, with dried kale, red peppers, onion and cheese powder from a box of Annie’s mac & cheese. Eight scrambled egg dinners, with dried green chile and salsa bark and more cheese powder. Three dehydrated green chile stew dinners. Twenty-eight one-cup bags of quick-cook steel-cut oatmeal, with milk powder, cinnamon and dried fruit. Four bags each of dried banana circles, apple slices, and sweet potato leather.

This dehydrator pulls so much current Vancouver authorities will probably think I’ve started a grow-op. Thankfully I bought my vacuum sealer locally and not on Amazon. It was a lemon. A quick exchange and I’m back in business. Now 28 days’ worth of food is in the lightest, most compact and odor-free condition possible.

No, I’m not being prudent and stocking up in advance of the Big One that experts predict has a 33% chance of obliterating Vancouver in the next 50 years.

We’re heading for the hills. Continue reading

Revolutions and Revelations

This body I’m inhabiting has now accompanied the Earth on fifty turns around the Sun. Yes, that’s right, fifty years ago my little eyes first encountered our star and I began my journey.  Every summer, when the planet tilts its northern pole forward in homage to the fusion reactor that keeps us all alive, I eat cake in celebration.

(Can you tell I’ve been translating a book about astrophysics and space travel?)

It’s an epic moment, to be sure. On a number of levels. Epic enough that I have decided to finally reveal what Gydle means. Continue reading


After these first few months volunteering in the hospital, and now in the hospice, I am starting to come away with impressions. Things that stay with me, things I find myself thinking about offsite, things I am trying to learn how to digest.

The most important one is connection.

When you’re vulnerable like this, in the hospital or dying, things get pared down to the absolute essentials. Bodily functions, simple things. I got a good night’s sleep. A dish of ice cream.

The people whose suffering haunts me the most are those who don’t have anyone there for them. They are alone, navigating a system full of strangers, at a time in their lives when they are at their most vulnerable. Their suffering is amplified because of this. Continue reading

Thoughts on Baltimore

a house in Guilford

I was saddened to hear of Baltimore’s erupting into riots this past week over the death of a young Black male taken into police custody. But I can’t say I was surprised. Baltimore, where we lived for seven years as the century turned, felt to me a place of simmering racial tension, of fear and finger-pointing on the verge of conflagration. Continue reading

Listen up!

Arnold Lakhovsky, The Conversation (circa 1935)

Have you ever been talking to someone and had the feeling that they were just waiting for a pause in your narrative so they could jump in and start talking about themselves? Have you ever been interrupted in mid-sentence ? Have you ever had the feeling that the person you are talking with is completely bored by what you’re saying? Have you ever revealed something personal and important to you, and then told that you were completely wrong about it or that your listener had had that exact same experience and this is what you should do?

I’m sure you have. We all have. It’s called relationships.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, other than the fact that we will all die someday, it’s that everyone wants to talk about themselves. If you can really listen — listen so people feel heard — your relationships will be much deeper, stronger and healthier. Continue reading


Remember when I first got my hearing aids? I had such a hard time with the harsh, brittle, crashing sounds they made. I was so disappointed – I had been expecting things to sound more beautiful and instead they just crashed and bashed.

Well, now I take it all back. Continue reading


One of the things I have wanted to do since coming back to the land of English is volunteer with a hospice organization. Hospice, in case you don’t know, is caregiving for people who have a terminal illness. When there is nothing that can be medically done to turn a disease around, when there are no more treatments left, then patients and their families are eligible for hospice care. A hospice team – in a facility or in your home – makes sure that you are comfortable, as free from pain as possible, and supports your family as you make the transition out of this world.

Volunteers are a part of this team, doing nonmedical stuff like listening, bringing water or coffee or tea or warm blankets, wheeling patients outside for fresh air, and generally trying to be helpful while at the same time not making things worse than they already are. I just completed a 26-hour training program for hospice volunteers. My first shift at the hospice on the UBC campus is tomorrow afternoon.

The reason I wanted to do this? My dad.

Continue reading

The Saga of Smokey the Cat

smokey1It has been a very long, dry spell here on Gydle. My apologies. But like I’ve said before, I’m not going to waste your time and mine by putting up meaningless drivel.

I decided to break the fast with a cat story.

I know it’s taboo to write about your cat on your blog, but it’s also taboo to have a blog and not post anything for four months, so while I’m breaking the rules I figured I might as well go all the way.

But you said you weren’t going to put up meaningless drivel! you say. Good point. But just because it’s a cat story doesn’t mean it’s meaningless. Whether or not it’s drivel, well, you’ll have to make that call. Continue reading


IMG_0915Happy Thanksgiving, Gydle people! One of my favorite blogs, Gone Floatabout, written by friends with a serious sailing affliction and unparalleled wizardry with a camera, mentioned that some of the blogs they followed are posting the 50 things they’re most thankful for this year. Seems like a good idea. After all, it has been scientifically shown that being grateful is good for your health.

One of the most popular TED talks of all time is by a super-smiley guy named Shawn Achor. He says that if you spend just a few minutes a day thinking of just three things you’re grateful for, you’ll be much happier. Imagine how you’d feel after listing fifty!  Continue reading

I am …

We were having dinner with a group of people, one of Marc’s work things, introductions were being made, and someone said to me, “How about you, Mary? What’s your career?”

It caught me by surprise, and I burst out laughing. I knew it wasn’t very elegant of me, but I couldn’t help it. “That’s a very good question,” I said. “I wish I knew.” Continue reading