10:07 PM, Day #4

Today I felt less stoned, except that there was an event that needs to be acknowledged and considered. While showering, the deck caught fire. I was so surprised to see flames on the porch, I couldn’t quite grasp that it was real and not just a reflection of flames in a mirror. (What??!) Would or could this have happened during a normal day without Phoenix Tears? Is my simple-mindedness, what I’m currently calling my “high” or “altered state,” disabling me from thinking and acting like a responsible adult?

When I shoveled the ashes out of the stove, they seemed cold. One had a sight spark to it, but it was a few hours since the fire had gone out, so I put them in the plastic bucket and sat it outside on the deck. When I came out of the shower an hour or so later, there were flames on the deck coming from the wool rug, the wooden deck itself, and the now-melted, plastic bucket.

I know. I know. My first mistake was putting ashes, cold or not, in a plastic bucket. it’s all I had, and finding a cheap metal bucket or something the right size, takes awhile. I’ve just started back into this fire-building lifestyle, and don’t have all of the accoutrements, yet, sorry. It was wet outside, I figured the rain would have put it out if there were any live coals.

IMG_7144But I was wrong. I had a nice thing going on out there  on the deck, just outside the front door. I had a tall, white plastic bucket that I found in the wood shed. I used it for my recycling, which was easy to lift into the car, because it had a handle. That tall, white plastic bucket was sitting beside the small white plastic bucket with the ashes in it. When the small bucket began smoldering and caught fire, it soon spread to the big bucket. As soon as I got out of the shower, I started smelling a funny burning smell. That wood smells weird, is what I said to myself. But no, by now the two buckets had melted and burned down to almost nothing and a circle was burnt into the red boards of the deck.

I’ve asked Paul if he can fix  it. We’ll see. Messing around with fire has been a real joy and pleasure these past two weeks. I’m knowledgeable and capable and do a pretty good job of building fires and keeping them going and keeping the house nice and toasty. But now I’ve started to imagine that this means I am untrustworthy around fire, and that I can’t be trusted to do the Phoenix Tears without being a danger to myself and/or others. It’s a good argument for having a husband, someone who is very dedicated or simply a best friend that’s willing to help out. There really isn’t anyone around I can ask or who has offered, but I can visualize this as if it has already happened. That’s a fun past-time. What a concept! Full-time people around full-time: brothers, cousins, nieces and nephews, lovers, friends, etc.



Early Days of Phoenix Tears


Surrealistic Sam

This is Day #3. Here’s how it’s been so far:

It came in a plastic oral syringe, 5 grams of very sticky, gummy rendered oil from the cannabis plant. I knew to start out with, the recommended dosage is the size of ½ a grain of rice, but once I gently pushed on the plunger it was hard to get it to stop, plus, the little brown worm was very thin so I went ahead and took the whole ½ inch and rubbed it on my gums.

Don’t do that. Well, unless you like a sort of mild burning action on your gums. It didn’t hurt but it was clear how powerful this medicine is. Throughout the next 5 to 6 hours I became ever-increasingly high, which in my case, is: a sense of vibrating throughout my body when I tune in to it, especially the stomach and chest area. I needed to stop to sit and rest a couple of times and occasionally worried if I’d be able to talk to a certain person coherently or not. I did talk on the phone with no problem.

Day #2 was a little milder with 3 very small (½ grain rice) doses spread throughout the day. The first dose at 9:14 a.m. and the second at 1:00 p.m. and the last around 10:30 p.m. Totally felt high the whole time, but it didn’t stop me from doing anything (except qigong). A little bit more munchies that I’d like, don’t want to get too off track with the food. Loving the curry sauce on fresh sprouts, purple cabbage and red pepper, sprouted seeds and hemp. Delish!



Sam & Will at Saxe Point

One thing that came up on Day #2 was the backache. Upper and mid-back so tired and achey, especially around the bottom of the bra. Now today, Day #3, it’s gone.

Today’s first dose was around 8:30 a.m. and I just took the second at around 3:30 p.m. I’m getting better at tiny ½ grain rice-sized squirts into an empty capsule. Definitely high all day and enjoying my walks even more than usual: yesterday at Montague was beautiful and today, up Winstanley and down Warbler and around to the top of Winstanley. Beautiful settings of small trees growing and fallen, and the ground, too, all covered in moss. Such a vibrant green.

I wonder, of course, about the repercussions of being high everyday for three months. Will I be addicted and unable to quit? Totally dependent and not even know myself without PT? Will my mind become simplified and boring even to myself? Will I cease to enjoy the feeling of being high or will I see it as the new normal? Interesting how no one ever gets attached or addicted to chemotherapy. How much better is it to enjoy your medicine than to be debilitated and humiliated by it?


Sticky reddish-brown gummy goo,

the blood of the cannibis plant is here to heal me.




Death of a cynic . . . or confessions of a self-healer

Hmmm. How to start? Writers tend to blab everything, or they select the best bits to blab at the right time. I don’t want to make this about the illness. It’s  about seeing myself as whole and complete and already healed, get my drift? Direct the energy to the healing state that is already occurring, or as the hypnotherapist said, “If you keep saying ‘I’m sick,’ your subconscious will work to make it true.”

Ah, but at the same time, I think, I thought, I am/was, a cynic. Perhaps not any more. I’ve seen some things and felt some things and I don’t want to create that reality for myself any longer. If this sounds New Agey, I forgive myself, because I discounted so much self-help for years, (and rightly so), but there’s a basic underlying message there that is simple and true: whatever keeps us from loving ourselves and knowing that we’re worthy is the same thing that makes us sick.

Twenty years ago I received my first diagnosis. At that time I took a year off work and did a year-long detox diet called Living Foods and lived on a small gulf island off Vancouver Island. After I went back to work I went on another strict, but more worker-friendly way of eating, macrobiotics, and stayed in the healing-diet mode for two more years. All was well for 20 years, well, 18, since I suspected something two years ago, but that test came back negative. This May it was positive, not as in positive thinking, however, not really, not yet.

Now it’s August 15 and things have gone from terror due to the reoccurrence diagnosis on May 26; a sad break-up; no place to live on Galiano until September 1st; oncologists and surgeons and GP’s that take their time and leave me hanging; to a two-week retreat that opened up new possibilities. I mean, in a sense, the surgery and healing diets had worked the first time, for awhile, but why did it come back? The scientific answer is, or could be that the margins were not clear from the mastectomy (the present tumors are both on the scars from the previous surgery) and a few stray cells were left behind.

But what if it’s more than that? Certainly I’ve had problems with addiction (cigarettes, sugar, over-work, stress) during those 20 years. Tragic love affairs seem to be the norm, listless and unsatisfying relationships with my brothers, friends, co-workers and a lack of passion when it comes to my life in general, and particularly sadly, when it comes to my love of writing, painting and learning the piano. Everything feels difficult, like work, “and for what?” I seemed to be secretly asking myself.

Cue the trumpets, because I’ve been having a reawakening of sorts since my retreat. It was held on Cortes Island at an old, rundown Tibetan monastery, now a hostel with all of the tankas and buddhas still intact. It was a Healing Tao retreat based on the work of Mantak Chia as taught by 30-year teacher, Minke de Vos. At first I was cynical, hated the schedule and felt that at my age, and since being retired, I don’t want to follow anyone else’s orders or schedule. I felt I should be able to attend the sessions I wanted and sleep through the ones I didn’t. But Minke and Dave had different ideas. I don’t think I missed any sessions during the whole two weeks, and I really started to enjoy the sessions during the second one.

Without describing the practice or the thousands-of-years-old Taoist philosophy, I’ll tell you  what really got through to me and reset my spiritual healing mode. First, it was the idea of us holding emotions and high virtues in our organs. Let’s leave that there for now. I’ll tell you more about that later. Another part that really got me was the “unwinding” which we did at night before bed. It’s a practice that’s done after some intense “bone-building” chi gong and is done by allowing the chi or energy that runs through us to guide us in movements that the body needs or wants to do for healing. It often involves repetitive movements, spinning, rocking, any type of movement you can imagine. I found I worked most of the time on the floor doing “baby/child-like” movements, lots of crying and allowing of this physical, emotional, spiritual being to do whatever it needed to do.

The third thing is the extent to which this practice uses positive imagery to bring universal and earth energies into the system to be converted and refined for our use. There’s no reason why anyone, anywhere, would have to be depleted! There is a universe full of energy if we know how to access it. And images of our own star above our crown, the top of our heads, to beam energy down into our master glands, the pituitary and the pineal, is just one of the many beautiful images that bring these Taoist practices to life.

Stay tuned! To be continued . . .

I Am Your Birthday Cake

I am your birthday cake.

Words like sweet and love

roll off your tongue

although you know little about me

those words are chocolate sauce

poured over me

you’ve already lit the candles,

can we fall head first into this cake,

is it time?

No, not yet, someone announces

with wine-coloured lips,

and stars in their eyes, maybe me.

My hands know nothing

but how to hold yours,

seems I’ve always known you;

my clothes are around my feet

and I can’t take my eyes off you,

even when you’re miles away.

I’m drenched in sweat from the heat

off hot rocks in this lodge,

now steam rises and I lay low to breathe

because now you’ve followed

another guest out the door

as a breeze blows out the candles,

all but this one to light a new fire.

Recycled Glass Day

When the recycling truck comes

to pick up our newspapers, cans, glass

they break each bottle, POP!

the skittering of shattered glass

down the chute.

You sometimes broke me

when we cracked together,

I would crack and cling

my shards, glistening dangerous beauty

would slide down,

whole structures broke apart

slide and settle down onto one another,

overlap, dissolve

sink into the bottom of it all



The sky looms, slants close.

Just inside the plate glass window

my new tv smiles at me.



I carry the spider out

on the white postcard

sent from your visit in hell.



Nothing is harder than this rock,

blanket under me,

but I doze off, held.



An animal, black, glossy

swims among these rocks.

Head up, tail follows him down.



The animal climbs over

kelp-covered rocks, sniffs,

swims by, chewing fish.



Sunny June morning.

I am silent as the moon,

I bleed with the moon.



Seaweed undulates below.

A man and chainsaw

hack through this day.



Wind presses me back

forces cedar, dry grass

past me. Not you.


Angela Lee McIntyre, written approximately 1993, Victoria, BC



More Fear

Mostly my fear of Detroit began in 1967. I remember dark TV footage of snipers on rooftops, reports of the governor sending in the Michigan National Guard, images of the US army’s temporary camps — sent in to get the riot under control. People had 6 or 7 p.m. curfews, banned from being out of doors after that. Innocent people died — either by snipers, crossfire, or intentional shootings by the riot squads. A woman was shot as she stood by a window to light what she didn’t know was her final cigarette, and a 4-year old girl was accidentally shot by an army sharpshooter who was aiming for her father because he stood in plain view just inside another window. I remembered images of the view through that window into that hotel room and images of people looting shops.

But that was far away, and not really real, until  a year later, in April, 1968, four days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. when 125 U.S. cities had already broken out into riots that my hometown, Kansas City, Missouri shut down due to sniper fire and an 8 p.m. curfew. This was a new level of terror for me and for most of the city’s citizens. I was living downtown at the time, having left university to work at a job in the city. What I saw on the first day from the bus was my beloved Country Club Plaza and my favorite park, Loose Park were both taken over by the army and I was banned from the streets. Afraid to stay in my own apartment, near downtown, I went to my parents’ house and hid under the covers with the rest of my family in the “white” north, across the river from the fires burning in the streets and the bullets that took down disenfranchised black citizens.

My second semester at college I met some people, including my boyfriend and one of my professors, who were involved in organizing a Civil Rights Rally in this town. I knew that this was the most important event to happen in this town of Springfield, Missouri, possibly ever. What most impressed me was that a black man, one of my professor’s friends, who was active in organizing it, was doing it from a wheelchair! This was astounding to me, a 19-year-old white girl in 1967.

I’d grown up  with my own bedroom, but my six brothers had to share a regular bedroom, and a makeshift one, in the basement. We had very little money, most of which came from my mom’s job at the cable factory. But, and this is a big “but,” we lived north of the river and I may have never seen a black person, or for sure, ever been near one or spoken to one, until the fall of 1966. As my mom and I carried my stuff into my dorm, I was still “color blind,” and the fantasy continued into my dorm suite, as all 5 of my suitemates were white. It wasn’t until I began going to classes that I walked near, or even saw up close, fellow students of color.

That first semester, one of those boys actually spoke to me and I spoke back. He was handsome. He called me in my dorm room and we had long conversations. After discussing a possible date, and then, simply a meeting, he was the one to end it — he couldn’t be seen with a white girl, he’d been fooling himself — he’d be beaten up, or worse.That was my first taste of racism and so a year later, I saw the importance of a Civil Rights Rally in Springfield, Missouri and later, felt the crush, had an inkling of what was being unleashed, and what was being fought for on those rooftops, in the darkness,


in the light of those fires.


Unnatural Paths to Liberation, Part 2

We didn’t see it as adventure. I’m not sure why or why not — probably because of the fear. We’d both had friends who had died in Vietnam, people we’d gone to high school with. Pat, one of my best friends, had a boyfriend who had joined the Marines, Mel, I think his name was. We all thought he was the most gorgeous guy we’d ever seen. I remember he had the most beautiful skin. We’d seen their beautiful skin, gone with them to 3.2% bars in Kansas to drink beer, seen them in their uniforms, laughing, and then a year or so later, learned that they had died — over there — in Vietnam — for some strange reason — and eventually realized they wouldn’t be coming home.
That’s hard on a teenager. Especially relatively pampered teenagers who always had food and water and had never seen a war up close. So now we were also afraid of our government — a system that wasn’t protecting us but allowing our brothers to be used as target practice.
We were afraid of the day that the draft lottery would be called, December 1, 1969 — the first in 27 years — to discover who would be drafted first and who would be the lucky ones. The first third called were goners, the middle third would be living with uncertainty, and the last third called could almost afford to breathe a sigh of relief.
We were afraid of the orders that arrived in the mail a week later to report to the US Army for a physical, the last step before induction. Afraid of what could happen to a man who was drafted, but equally afraid of what could happen if that man was caught by those representatives of that country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if they avoided, or how about ran away from, being drafted.
We chose Canada because of more fear — the fear at 21 years old of the separation from family/country and the belief that he could never return. Our minds could not court or comprehend ideas of the Netherlands or France, for example, as some did. Canada was as exotic and as foreign as we could imagine — and, just in case he could return or visit, it was closer.
So, we fled to safety — a safety created by the out-stretched arms of Canada and that impenetrable wall that would rise up and protect us and everyone like us from FBI agents with badges and guns, but also keep us willing prisoners in this northern limbo. We saw no adventure ahead of us — just a desperate need for safety.