My New Left Foot


Getting ready.  Getting it on! Walking! I hear the 2001 song, “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” was it?  Suitable I think for the Grand Duke of Delusion to stand up and walk. Ron was the good person and my PT for my first tender steps. 

I spent the morning familiarizing myself with the Rehab Hospital. I’m up in 525, with a bed near the window and the cool air. I found a garden in our courtyard, which I plan to visit regularly. I have lived experience with the central buildings of the HSC since 2001, and can still get lost.

Digression: Remembering the mistranslation  in “Under the Volcano;” the Consul reads, “Do you like this garden which is yours? We evict those who destroy!” I begin to imagine what the biblical story could be if Adam and Eve where lost in Eden for all eternity, with an out-of-date map and nobody but the snake to ask for directions.

My appointment was at 3:00 pm. I had no need of transport because I  could actually find my way to the main gymnasium. This time putting the liner on with that imposing screw at the end of it was easier than my first time, as was getting my stump firmly in the socket. 

Entry level prosthetic is all manual, mechanical and uncomplicated. Ron expects I’ll be walking with the aid of a two-wheeled walker by Friday. I’m staying over this weekend, their suggstion, my choice. Reminds me of staying over a weekend or a holiday at the MCI when everybody went home, except me and the students from Hong Kong.

Digression: Did not happen very often, because in the early seventies I could easily hitch hike the 75miles to go home Only once did I get picked up by a paedophile. By then I understood what they where and the damage they could only make worse. So I agreed to a meal at Burke’s diner in Morris while he was making some not too subtle hunts, maybe he was too tired to drive the rest of the way to Winnipeg, maybe he would take a room.

I worked out my escape route, leaving the table to go the washroom. No I didn’t need to crawl out the window, it was posssible to exit by two short hallways so I just deked out the one he couldn’t see. I bolted, and found a place that was safe until I was sure he wasn’t following me and continued ny journey. 

I’ve a fondness for large empty institutional spaces, a school to meet or be with my parents, the near ten years I made  University Centre my second home, and hospitals. Every fall three years running I had a fifth floor bed in the Msercordia’s children’s ward, with a view of the river. This weekend I intend to ply my trade as the Minster of Empty Spaces,  here in rehab, and read in the garden where I won’t have to get my hands dirty.


My Daily Fog: A Key to Everything


I wish sometime I could believe there is a key to open everything in the universe. Well ok, make that smaller…a key to open every lock that needs  unlocking, a key to lock every lock that needs locking …even smaller. A key that opens every lock, starts every car or van, by some high tech oogly boogly. Specifically my locks, my van. 

So this mornng everything but the kitchen sink all packed for rehab camp, just behind the wheel…no damn key. I go back to my apartment, enlist a search party, all hunting my van key. Finally I send everyone home, and make one last tour in my wheelchair (for all of this mind). Sliding a van door closed, I spot the key, just in front of the rear tire under the van within reaching distance, and dropping distance too.

Note to self; get a lanyard, make a copy of the key too for heaven’s sake. Just like I remind myself everytime this happens, and it happens more often than I like to admit, but when you enlist your neighbours, hard not to admit it, and this is not the first time I’ve drawn attention. This search made me an hour late. I’m never late. I take so much pride in my timeliness, I don’t wear a watch. Never have.

Freud said there are no accidents. So reassessing ….. did I try to sabotage going in for rehab because I’m accustomed to my lfe in a chair, maybe  I’m afraid I won’t be up to the challenge of walking again, afraid of falling. Maybe it’s like banging your head into a brick wall, because it feels so good when you stop. The adrenalin in  the panic, and then the  rush of relief, because as always, what I am searching for is always in the last place I look.






Been at work for about an hour, using the entire morning for rest and recovery. This so-called work was email, mostly to T/Ed, to sort out what will be, and whether reviving envoi is even possible for print publishing. I’ve enjoyed opening not-for-profit enterprises like Words on Wheels for mobile book distribution and sales (which never went anywhere).  With Greyhound giving up on western Canada, new “business opportunities” arise according to conservatives in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The new business would need a good-sized, safety compliant, well-insured van, a driver and a business license of $4,000 to operate in Manitoba. Yes, I checked it out but can’t imagine connecting book distribution and sales to a parcels and people enterprise.

Martini Free

There is also a used bookstore for sale in Gimli, but I try to remember what Philip Roth supposedly had on a sticky note on his computer, “no optional striving,” meaning no boards, no prize juries, no bookstores, no enterprises other than his best, writing. I could argue even running an active blog and website will ultimately destroy my ambitions to write three novels and 26 short stories, just for starters. With the advent of GoFundMe and now Patreon an opportunity to write for money becomes enticing. I was at a Writers’ Union Annual General Meeting where Pierre Berton thundered “No-one but a blockhead, ever wrote for anything but money,” quoting Johnson but omitting the notion it was captured by Boswell as an irony, for Johnson spent 15 years writing his dictionary without earning. I did enjoy swimming in Berton’s outdoor pool, martini’s on offer, and Bix Beiderbecke on the sound system the next afternoon as the social event of the weekend meeting.

So here goes, soon you will be able to Patreon me, though current plans are for My Daily Fog, and My Left Foot to be free, with my website archives available to subscribers. The other streams listed in the categories on the right, partly truth and partly fiction. This is very much a work in progress, and only you can make it “earn while I learn.”





old left foot

I was so excited about my new left foot I forgot to take pictures! A bit squeezy, until I was standing. That’s right, standing on not quite my own two feet. I walked in-between the handrails for testing and nearly worked up a sweat. I surely will in rehab. I am now on the waiting list for a bed on the 5th floor of the rehab hospital, HSC on Sherbrook. Good person Larry Lawson, Lawson Prosthetics, 610 Ellice.Will blog from rehab when I get there, until when I’m released again into the wild!

Quotation and Recommended Reading


The Letterwriter

“If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me,” thought Moses Herzog.  Some people thought he was cracked and for a time he himself had doubted that he was all there. But n0w, though he still behaved oddly, he felt confident, cheerful, clairvoyant and     strong. He had fallen under a spell and was writing letters to everyone under the sun.”  – Saul Bellow

The quotation is from Bellow’s novel Herzog, which is one of my favourites. The quotation will head a category on my website where I will post some of the many letters I’ve written  over the years and new ones. I’m trying to freshen up, while waiting for word on to extant manuscripts.

I can’t complain, but I do.



from the vault, 1985 Fifth House, Saskatoon

Me n him busting a move!


right thinking, thinking like us
us thinking we’re left looking
forward: our future, our children
ourselves, our bodies assuming
the correct posture, but not a pose
cameras are permissible, but only to gather
evidence, like us there is no more personal
scandal, just beating, abuse and aggression
showing there is strength, even in
incorrect numbers, correct numbers not
always winning numbers, but there is certain
satisfaction, knowing you are on the right side
right thinking, thinking like us, it is
a decade without soft edges, but there is still
no clear picture, everything is in a screen
pattern, everyone is trying to break
out of together, again thinking
right, to the end, of the correct line

– Victor Enns


Doing, Not Being, There



I’ve submitted my new poetry manuscript Music For Men Over Fifty: Songs of Love and Surgery, being called Love and Surgery for short. Now as the song goes “Waiting is the hardest part,” I’m also waiting for a prosthesis, first measurements on Friday at Lawson Prosthetic, 610 Ellice Ave. in Winnipeg. I’m also waiting for the results of Canada Council for the Arts grant result for my next project called “pain room.” Patience I’ve read, is derived form the French “to suffer.”

I have three disabilities on various degrees of the visibility spectrum. My physical disability is easiest to see because I have a below the left knee amputation. It will be a little less obvious when I am using my permanent prosthesis in the fall. Chronic pain is visible only when I mess up my medication or overdo it. Strangers can tell when it’s really bad showing concern and my family and friends anytime by the expression on my face. As a chronic depressive I’ve learned how best to hide my pain (that’s the third disability), but sometimes the mask slips, or my eyes go vacant with either the physical or mental pain, frustrating whoever I’m with at the moment because I’m Not Being There.

I hope to reset to write fiction and a disarming script for my part in the “Lame is Cabaret” on September 14 and 15thThe three stories include (St.) Augustine writing about his encounter with the ghost of Euripides, eventually destroying the Oedipus play, which Euripides is known to have written, but never found. This is a part of my pain room project. More about that later.

Two stories are part of a collection called What Men Do, just barely begun. “Aaron,” the first story needs a major rewrite for a second or third draft, the first draft going back to Willow Island in 2015. The other “Kehler slept with women,” has just begun, with a bit of framing.

I’m investigating the use of Patreon, a site for writes and artists providing opportunity for patron support, usually in the form of a subscription, though one time payments like GoFundMe are always possible. If I can add that feature to this website I will do it. If I need a separate path to my new work in progress I’ll put that on the Patreon platform. This is particularly important if the Canada Council does not fund me for the pain room project. I’ll have some form of subscription or pay as you go for all new work, while continuing to maintain this personal website of what I’ve done.




Ruth Wiebe, a generous supporter of Mennonite Literary Society 2.0 and its publication Rhubarb, died unexpectedly n St. Boniface Hospital June 2, 2018 in Winnipeg at the age of 71.

“I always knew I could give Ruth a call if I needed to check reality – or fantasy for that matter. It’s going to take a while for her passing to “sink in.” First encountered her sparkle, her smile, her laughter in German classes at the U of M. My university and my Ruth memories are inextricably interwoven. And then Ruth volunteered with the Mennonite Literary Society and Rhubarb Magazine and she made this a fun project, also supporting our projects generously. She is missed, but her smiles and laughter remain strong in our hearts!” – Posted by: My brother, Garry Enns (Good friend) on: Jun 21, 2018





My left foot has been amputated. To my surprise,  a great deal of my left foot pain has been eradicated. I didn’t expect it, and most health professionals, and people with lived experienced with amputation, didn’t either. I could no longer walk on my left foot, switching it out for a prosthetic will allow me to walk again, which is the outcome we’re still waiting for as my wound heels. Stage Four Flat Foot was the name of my condition, indicating soft tissue could not support my ankle from rolling in and under itself. Aye, there’s the rub. I have “lousy cartilage genetics,” and my foot was once described as a birth defect expressing itself now.

My pain continues being original to me, as everyone’s is; and there’s plenty enough to go around my body. The last couple of days were difficult because of my increased activity.  My remaining limbs are picking up all the slack. This is most notable on my right side, which already has an artificial hip. Hopefully, I’ll be walking soon, to reduce the stress on my better foot.

Bad cartilage genetics is osteoarthritis in my back that’s disk degenerative disease and spondylolylisthesis.  Sciatica (good name for a geriatric metal band,) is what my parents’ generation called it, though in that case it is primarily one nerve, the sciatic nerve that is pinched. There are more nerves between more vertebrae and disks collapsing and pinching nerves. Spondylolylistthesis.just a little different in that the degeneration of cartilage and genetics, or trauma have cause one vertebrae to tip over forward the one beneath.
It’s also damn hard to spell.

I don’t have scoliosis, which is curvature of the spine usually moving to the right, giving rise to a hump like Richard the III my Tante Neufeld (who lived to be 94), and my sister. Then there are joints with repetitive use wear and tear, which is accelerated if you don’t have good cartilage. My sister, a former pianist and me still pounding away on this keyboard as if it was the manual typewriter I used in the sixties, have bad hand pain. My sister is ten years older, and her hand pain is worse. I’m noticing my other pain centres and new ones now the biggest one has been relieved.

Doctors know this pain is often made worse by bad weather changes, though they don’t know why. So level 8 pain on Monday and Tuesday, dark and wet, only six and declining today. I do have a fantasy of a pain free day, but it is a fantasy. Today my right side is generating most of my pain for the extra use it’s had standing in and supporting my entire weight, and that of my wheelchair when I chuck it into my van. I hold onto to the van’s grab bar with my left. So today it’s my right knee, my right hip, my right shoulder wringing pain, add the hands, especially now that I’m typing again, and the sciatica thing. Well to sum up. I hurt pretty much everywhere. Hello chronic pain.

I’m grateful for the level of pain relief provided by the amputation. But I still hurt pretty much everywhere else, and on bad days it can still get to 8. No, I’m not looking for a reason to extend my handicapped parking permit, renew my pain meds, or to keep boring people with my bitch and moan.  That’s just the way it is. Pain is an everyday part of my “new normal.”




Several noteworthy deaths last week, including my cousin, two celebrity suicides, and two Manitobans who made a difference. Roland Penner, whose father was a communist and elected Winnipeg Alderman was originally from Gretna, Manitoba. His father and brother left the Communist party when they learned about Stalin’s atrocities.

Roland Penner was an elected member of the New Democratic Party from 1981 to 1988, serving as Speaker of the House, Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Attorney General, and Minister of Education during those years. He was also head of Legal Aid,  and is known for his support of LGBT issues and taught Law at the University of Manitoba.

The second is  William John Rhoda who died at the age of 97 June 4th. Born in South Africa, he went to South Africa’s only University for black people, and worked in the resistance to end apartheid, with participation in the student walkouts just one of his commitments. The government of the day made him a target for their Special Branch. He was able to get an exit (really exile) visa for himself and his family, settling in Winnipeg teaching at Andrew Mynarski School. When he returned to South Africa after the dismantling of apartheid, for the first time thirty years later, his former students and colleagues met him at the airport to express their thanks. My parents and siblings were teachers, one of my sons now as well.
I know how much it means to a teacher to be thanked by a student (long) after graduation.

My cousin    Abe Neufeld bought his first computer when he turned ninety. He like my father, sometimes he asked “Why am I here.” For all the black clad existentialists mulling this over before they turn 26, imagine raising the same questions 70 years later. My Dad died when he was 91, his sister and Abe when they were 94. A history of long livers not really a plus when you wake to pain everyday, and know you will never have a pain-free day ever again                                                     

I’ve had visitors in the last couple of weeks, and we all wondered whether it is possible to find “a reason to live and not to die, you are a lucky (hu)man,” (Alan Price) every day? A couple of times a week? I was the only person under seventy. It’s when I have such a hard day’s night, and even more on waking, that I wonder why I keep pressing. Currently I’m messing around with the idea that desire is what keeps me writing. Maybe that’s what Sisyphus is rolling up the hill. I’m at my limit for tonight so I won’t add any text about the suicides last week.








Bourdain and Spade decided, or so we hope, that seven decades, of even five decades were enough.



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