I am an ordinary person in an extraordinary
life, as many are.
I began with this travel site in
Mainland China in 2001. And of course, though I am forever indebted to many wonderful people in China, it was not really the
best place to do Major Internetting.
My childhood in Canada
was both secure and eventful. My grand-parents came from Dublin, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Catford,
Kent, and I am British Isles by racial ancestry. Three of them were Protestants, my grandmother from Dublin was an excommunicated
Roman Catholic. The family story goes that upon
hearing the local priest was hitting schoolboys with a ruler, my Catholic grandmother raced right down to the schoolyard and
gave the priest a hit with his own ruler.
My father entered Air Canada at
the age of eighteen, and gave himself his university education by attending night school. My mom worked as a secretary
in Montreal before she married Dad.
Those were boom times in America
and Canada, and Dad rose fast; we travelled extensively on our Free Air Canada tickets.
I was a middle-class girl, and
cleaned, babysat, shopped for food on Saturday, and even enjoyed these adult activities. Except for the cleaning!
Ice skating and hockey in the winter,
summers at Lake Sturgeon in Ontario, swimming and walking along the CNR train tracks to the Bobcaygeon penny candy store.
Christmas trees and Easter egg
hunts and Girl Guides, and ballet lessons, and the Tooth Fairy.
In my early teens, disaster struck.
My father left my mother for another woman, and my parents entered into prolonged and bitter litigation.
To those astute enough
to ask: was there money? I can only answer this: Yes, there was money. But divorce
lawyers make a huge dent in family savings.
I will cut to the next major life
World Travels For Free
Oh, yes, all those free Air Canada passes!
Four free tickets a year.
"My last girlfriend was a stewardess," confided
a Vancouver friend, "She was the second airlines staff I went out with - and they are the most flaky people in the world
- Just hop on a plane and go off somewhere!"
I felt admonished for a moment, then recognized
this flightiness in my father, and perhaps others in my family - !
We knew the planes to London and Paris left
Canada at the crack of dawn, and you arrived in Europe, tired, full of food, and airplane non-air. We had to get
up at five in the morning to get to the airport in time, and it was another five hours to reach the UK.
Where did I go?
I went mostly to Europe, the Caribbean,
and quite a bit around Canada and the USA. If you played your card right when travelling on free airlines employee tickets,
you could also get "bumped" into First Class, easier than winning than the lottery, with that same rush of feeling that you
are irrationally blessed by life.
You would proceed to board the plane
graciously before all the full paying customers, mindful not to tell them your dad was a federal government employee. The
meals in First Class could take up almost all of the five or six hours from Eastern North America to Europe.
I just remembered a fortune teller, a good one,
who said to me - you will be travelling around the world your entire life, though I have seem to have got stuck in East Asia.
I left home at 17, from
a family full of friction residual from divorce. Needless to say, my brother and sister too had trouble with our
new stepmother, a British needlework expert. As well as with my mother's new boyfriend, an American military type whose
imperial style differed from our dad's easygoing ways.
With free airline tickets, travel
came easily. At least we could run away from our problems.
I moved to London where
I showed paintings and drawings on New Bond Street, and made many friends.
Full of every crazy thought wave coming down
the ideological turnpike,
I believed that young people
banding together could change the world. London was the place to be.
Already doing too much, in too
many directions, with writing poetry and stories as well as making oil paintings, I was drawn into a third interest:
astrology, and began studying with a famous astrologer, Jeff Mayo.
The French Artist
The first love of my life
entered my world when I returned to Vancouver, Canada.
His name was Chard Chenier and
he was older than me, and from a huge and friendly French Canadian family who still lived in the village of St. Boniface,
He was as calm and tranquil as
my family was turbulent.
He was a talented artist and musician
with many art shows to his credit, and worked with great discipline and devotion.
We were not competitive with one
another, contrary to myths about artists, and shared all our money, problems, challenges, and triumphs.
A week before he entered my life,
a Tarot card reader of great skill and reknown sat at the house in Burnaby I shared with my Cousin Barbara, and told me
I see a fair haired man,
The Page of Cups,
this will be a long love for
We were ambitious artists,
and vastly social. More than half of the nights of the week, we were out at movies, art gallery openings, piano lounges,
or jazz clubs. The films were at universities, the
gallery openings were our own friends, and Chard played music at clubs so I got in for free.
One of our first joint projects
was to make video films of our lives as artists for local cablevision television.
His psychics were less able than
my own, as almost all of the predictions for my own life have come true, and scarcely any of his. Later I saw this dependence
as troublesome, for the stories that never come true at all.
Apart from our television films,
he worked on a super-8 full-length movie that told a story about an actress called Zoey that he himself wrote.
We respected one another.
Our lives were peaceful, as we rarely argued.
Into paradise came some trouble.
I was falling ill, iller and iller
from my earlier car accident on the Lion's Gate Bridge. Soft tissue injuries to my jaw and neck activiated a painful
problem called TMJ, notoriously difficult to solve.
In Chard's childhood, his sister
Paulette suffered from a rare childhood illness, requiring a freely given patience from Chard as a brother.
He was the right person for me
to be with, as the illness went on and on.
The name of my illness: temporomandibular joint dysfunction. It is excruciatingly painful. It was
to last for 76 months to the precise month.
Major physical illness is one of the formative
aspects of what I became, after other chapters:
Art World: London
Partnership With Chard
Major Illness: Jaw & Spinal Injuries
The illness became like a sort of prison.
No matter what you do you cannot escape the time that it runs. I tried everything, to cure myself, and read hundreds
of DIY books on health from the library and health food stores.
I became on expert on youth and beauty, yet failed to cure the key illness.
Megavitamin therapy, juice fasting, copper necklaces
to alleviate the pain, aspirin, and prescription drugssoon
ditched as they almost caused me to have a second car accident when I backed out of a parking lot in a tranquillized state.
I close this with a miracle. Chard phoned
me late one Saturday night from a birthday party down the road from where we lived in Notre Dame de Grace. On his way
home from playing blues at the Yellow Door with some friends, the musicians stopped at our neighbour Ellen's to have
chocolate cake. It was her birthday, and they phoned me.
On the days our life turns around, we remember small details. I was wearing a faded
blue and white striped nightgown, bought at Marks and Spencer's in London, England. Watching an old Peter Sellers movie, on
a portable black and white TV in my writing room.
I got dressed, liking chocolate cake, and walked
down the street to the party. There I told my friends how ghastly my health was, and they referred me to a Miracle Therapist.
I was dubious, but tried everything.
When I went to see Marilyn - her home was full
of exotic birds, which her boyfriend collected. I lay down on the therapy table, and at the moment she delivered a healing
snap to my body, a bird flew through the air, and sat exactly on my heart.
What are the odds of an exotic bird, flying to
your heart, the moment that your life is returned to you?
Only days before, life told me life isn't
worth living, and now, it changed its mind, and told me, yes, it is.