PROGRESS... lesson from a sprain

May 4th I took Koko to the park and my left foot caught a divot in the grass and I went down like a led balloon. Big ouch. Felt like the wind was knocked out of me and I recall thinking to myself “owwww, this is not good”. I’d still be lying in the park had it not been for a very kind woman who came over and helped me get up; she had witnessed the led balloon drop from where she was sitting under a near by tree with her dog. As I got up, feeling it was too fast and should have rested there for some time, I did not have my ball bearings about me but managed to get Koko on her leash and walk home. It was an operation of get home while in shock before too much shock sets in.

I went right into the R.I.C.E. treatment that I’ve been aware of since University days. There was an AGM to chair the next day so I needed to get on it pronto. Good thing I did chair the meeting the next day, with my ankle wrapped and walking with a cane, as I learned R.I.C.E. is not the treatment of choice any longer. Well with that seed planted my research began. Here I am 2 weeks later, past the shock and ready to share in the healing process. What to do when you get a VERY very bad sprain?

SAT = fall down go boom!


24-48 HOURS = R.I.C.E. walking with a cane and day 2 get on the Comfrey wraps over night. Check this out — I love this guy. In the homeland, I’ve been told they use other greens like relatives of spinach; that also works. Comfrey leaves are a bit prickly and that’s why the poultice is good, personally it didn’t bother me so I used the leaves directly onto my swollen ankle.

Monday — went to Massage and ran my research by the massage therapist. He gave me the two thumbs up so after the treatment off I went to purchase the following:

Collagen — 1 x a day; MSM — 1/4 tsp. 3x a day; Sea Vegetable powder 1-2 x a day; Bromelain 1x a day; Salmon oil 1x a day; arnica gel and arnica tablets as needed.

Friday — went to Chiropractor to get the ankle pulled and aligned. She was impressed with the healing and advised it was a severe sprain. Advised possibility of laser treatment if swelling didn’t go down in the next few weeks (I believed this would not be necessary).

The entire week the above regiment of taking all the natural powders and gels continued as well as the wraps and used compression wrapping for when I was mobile.

Mobility = steps taken daily as follows:

Sat obviously leg up and hobbling about; Sun (AGM etc..) 1,146 steps, Mon 3,217 steps, Tues 3,942 steps, Wed 4,168 steps, Thurs 4,646 steps and Friday 8,713 steps. Much thanks to those who helped me by taking Koko for walks and lightening the load of life while I progressed in healing.


Pretty much same as week 1 but reducing Comfrey wrapping by a few days and adding turmeric tablets for inflammation reduction.

Friday — Massage. Therapist super happy with healing process. He advised to use compression socks , for circulation and to keep the blood flowing in the right direction, and once the swelling was totally down to do warm/cold soaking back and forth ending in cold.

Steps = Sat. 8133 (trip to Victoria and visit to the gardens got me going) Sun. 8,727, Mon. 6,914, Tues 12,374, Wed. 12,750, Thurs 7,787, Friday 4,925. All in all going with the flow and elevating and compression continued while mobile.

WEEK 3 is where we’re at now with mobility continued (sat. = 10,332, sun= 9,152 and today 8k and counting), hopefully I’ll be back at my over 10k steps a day without pain in another week or two. It’s a slow but steady progress that is making me appreciate doing the right thing for a solid successful result. I’m noting the discipline and patience required balanced with just the right amount of push.

This week’s post is about that patient steady ride to success, like the sprain, this project has not finished but on it’s way to celebrating the result we aimed for and anticipated. It has not been without it’s shocks, unexpected challenges, slow but steady assessments, research… I’m hoping to be dancing with a good left ankle at that party!

These pics. of the stairs are for you David, who bravely questioned why the heck it was taking so long to finish them. I say to you my friend (and myself), patience it’s like your great art somethings can’t be rushed and will be amazing when they’re done! Happy dance party.

ART... enlightening readers to ARTDOG!!

This weekend we went on an adventure for Mother’s day to Victoria, a chance to spend time with family and explore. ADVENTURES WITH MAMA is a movie in and of itself, so for this week’s post we’ll focus on our non-human family member ARTDOG. As mentioned before during the process of Project851, like in February, I became a dog mama of Koda, now Koko, and now her alter ego ARTDOG. ARTDOG has the best adventures sniffing out good art as well as the elements of good art, such as color, shape, line, form…

When PROJECT 851 is completed Artdog plans to do a tour from her perspective, “never mind those architectural critics”, she says, “I’ll give you the inside scoop.” Here are a few of Artdog’s, head shots, compliments of Marina’s great camera and “portrait” option! …now is Artdog ready for a solo blog or what?

Victoria not only provided headshots for Artdog but also adventures to Buchart Gardens, sniffing heaven; family for special European bbq (under the Komin), more sniffing heaven; shopping downtown with the most dog friendly stores and galleries, a different kind of sniffing heaven. This was Artdog’s first trip to Victoria, with me, and omg what a good time we had, which was something that started out as a possible ? mark. I’ll let you in on a secret Artdog is not a BIG fan of the automobile and it can be a begrudging experience at times. Fortunately, Artdog was top form enjoying the chauffeured drive in the blue cadillac, window open and head to the wind. Of course, this is the style to which she has become accustomed — no shame there, after all it is ARTDOG. The upper deck of the Ferry met Artdog’s standards and what we thought would be “dog prison” turned out to be delightfully pleasant on the way there. Two other dogs kept Artdog company, both with personalities of respecting one another with nice human alpha’s all well groomed and calm in nature. We won’t talk about the overcrowded 5 puppy’s of the earth mama’s and 4 other dogs with various anti-social humans on the way back: Artdog went for a walk.

Let’s focus on the delights of Buchart Gardens, which was another first for Artdog and received a big 4 paws up! The Information centre provided treats and highlights of the 55 acre site, there was a dog friendly water fountain near the cove along with boom boom bags; these were just the dog friendly bonuses. The colors, shapes, scents, sculptures, landscapes and ice cream, ooppps meant variety of themes, made for a feast of visual and olfactory delights. We’ll attempt to take you there through a few visuals…

ARTDOG gave another 4 paws up salute to the next part of the adventure which was a small village feast at a super secret location with family. Straight to visuals…(we won’t talk about the chunk of cake Artdog felt free to partake in while no one was looking).

Finally, shopping Downtown turned into an unanticipated purchasing frenzy of skirts, shoes, spa items… The human alpha was busy while Artdog enjoyed the local gallery scene.

Wether you’re in Victoria or Vancouver or anywhere, "You never know, when you least expect it, ARTDOG may come up to you and say “Hey you, tow the line ‘cause I’m watching you”.

PEOPLE...when you least expect it, a story emerges

During the progress of Project 851 I have come to meet a spectrum of characters that could be a book/blog in and of itself. A friend, going through the same same but different process, said to me “If I knew what I was getting into I would NEVER have started this”. It wasn’t hard for me to respond, “I know there are a lot of times I have wanted to curse people and systems, gov’t and corporations in particular, but overall I am so very glad and grateful of the stellar people I have met. So honestly I can’t honestly say the same”. When you decide to develop, renovate, restore… be prepared for the roller coaster of emotion because that’s what you’re in for.

When people ask me how it’s going, the usual response is “Oh great, the executive camping situation is alive and well in my world”. I don’t go into how discombobulated it feels to be not done, not settled, not truly grounded because part of me thinks that’s all “first world problem whining”. The other part of me says I’m ready to bond with those homeless people and others that are displaced from the safety and security of having a home. My new mantra has become “good things come to those who wait… repeat 1 million times “.

So while riding the roller coaster of madness I’ve discovered things I wouldn’t have had without this adventure. Here’s one simple one, doing laundry. If you didn’t have your laundry room/space what would you do? Damn rights, you go to the laundromat, or find friends with laundry machines, or use a friends buildings machines… It’s made me think a lot about laundry.

Firstly, how wasteful it is that we all have laundry machines. Yes it’s convenient but the laundromat has become one of my favourite Saturday morning things to do, mind you I did have to discover where they were. Apparently, there are 4-5 laundromats within walking distance and most of them on Commercial drive. The closest one to me is the definition of “fear” itself and I only went to check it out because people in the hood told me “you do not want to go there” — sorry 700 blk Hastings laundromat you are too scary for most of us.

After checking out the Drive and laundromats of the area I settled on Williams Laundromat, which is nothing fancy but has an old school feel to it that made me feel humble and comfortable. It must be at least a few months now that I’ve been going to Williams and have slowly started to build a relationship with the place and people; the owner, his kids, staff … During my first visits to William’s I looked at those front load machines, both washers and dryers, checking out the cost. Hmmmm, $3.00 a wash for 30 min. cycle and $2.50 for the dryer working out to be a 60 min. cycle that sounded very reasonable to me; also if you don’t bring laundry soap toss in another $1 and you’re covered. If you do a drop off / pick up it’s more but worth it if you’re in a hurry with your own madness in life. I love the fact that my life madness lead me to appreciate the simple adventure of laundry.

On one of the early visits to the laundromat I asked the guy who looked like the owner if he was William. He advised me that he was not but had bought the business from William, who occasionally still came into visit. This is when I decided the new owners name was William-not-William. As I continued with my Saturday routine of visiting William’s and tossing in a coffee at Turks while walking the drive, visiting friends and exploring, my happen chance meeting with William’s children occurred.

While tossing Koko, my dog’s, toys , towels and blankets into the machines I noticed 2 young men overseeing the laundromat. I asked them if they were William-not-William’s kids and they said yes, through their obviously bored to be slave children doing their duty to the family business role. My inner Balkan immigrant child, first generation Canadian, antenna went up!!

My excitement over “the Laundromat” poured out. I went on and on (a bit) about how awesome the laundromat was and my new found experience. I went on to share how I would enjoy to run this business in a hip and fun new way. It was obvious that these young people thought it was lame and a duty to the family rather than an opportunity to spring this business into the present from the past. I don’t know if my comments and ideas of painting the place and making it a happening resonated with them or not, but nonetheless the seed was planted.

Just before Easter I found myself at the laundromat with an opportunity for a conversation with William-not-William. I don’t recall how the conversation started but during it, I discovered his adventures to arriving in Canada from Vietnam. He told me how he would be having a grateful Easter celebration because it was an adventure for him to end up in this country.

His first try out of Vietnam was one on a helicopter, operated by a relative who was determined to help them leave the country. As his relative landed the helicopter for him and his family to enter and escape, they found themselves overwhelmed by other people jumping onto the exit plan. They managed to get the family onto the helicopter, with some extras, only to discover the exit plan was one that was overloaded. The helicopter was under stress and William-not-William was in the back with family which was destined to crash. The pilot relative realized what was going on and jumped out. The helicopter crashed/ broke and that’s when the pilot relative came back in, from god knows where, and rescued William-not-William and his family. They all got out safe, but that was only the beginning of the journey to Canada.

William-not-William made 2 more attempts to leave Vietnam to come to Canada. The first one resulted in his imprisonment for 1 year. When he didn’t give up and tried again he ended up caught and sentenced to 3 years in jail. Some of his family were able to leave and others not. On his final attempt he achieved his goal and met his wife in the same exodus. They came to Canada. He has no desire to return to the Communist regime that he found so distasteful and feels that supporting it is not the way to go for the people that live there.. I did not fully share my own families story of exodus from former Jugoslavia/Yugoslavia but there was a sense of understanding that existed between strangers, that understanding and respect of a personal history of immigration, that existed. I have always felt blessed to know that about myself and my identity to place and space.

It was a part of my pleasant and unexpected adventure of this project ending in joy of a laundromat — the history of this project 851 just keeps speaking to me…(and koko)

COMMUNITY... a living legend lost

April 23rd at 10 am many from the community attended Sacred Heart Church to pay their respects to “Benny”. I’ve referred to the church in a tribute to Larry Crema (Jan 14th 2019) and shared this little treasure of a building. Also there was an August 7, 2017 post mentioning “Benny” and an article written by John Mackie mentioning his legendary status as King of Strathcona.

Ironically, last week’s post ended mentioning the idea of close looking at triangles and circles. These symbols I have used for many many years with the intention of them representing equality (triangle) and community (circle). It has been my way putting out good into the world through a signature of shape — the meaning: looking forward to a time beyond, race, gender, age, sex, and honouring the individual creating community. Ramon Benedetti (Benny) was one such person that left a positive mark on the planet from this hood. He treated people fairly and if he had a beef with you he’d tell you all done with respect and honesty. That is an important voice to have and a big voice to loose.

It’s lovely to see Benny being recognized by media and the community, 1928 - 2019 is a good run. His daughter Francesca Benedetti wrote a lovely tribute to him for the memorial card given at the service. This is what she had to say:

Ramon Benedetti was a renowned figure of Vancouver’s “East End” for decades. He was born, raised, lived and died in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood where he held court on the corner of Union and Princess at Benny’s Market.

He was born on Union Street on May 1, 1928 to Alfonso and Violet Benedetti. As a young boy Ramon attended Strathcona Elementary and graduated from Vancouver Technical high school (Tech). He was an active youth who played baseball, soccer and rugby, and held the title of “Mayor of Maclean Park”. He was an avid music lover and musician. From an early age Ramon took up accordion and played with Len Holland’s Accordion Band. At 16 he began playing trumpet and joined The Jack Smith band, which took him on his first trips outside of Vancouver and into the United States.

In the spring of 1956 Ramon married neighbourhood sweetheart, Irma Miotto, at Sacred Heart Church. In 1957 they gave birth to their daughter Janice, followed by Ramon Jr. in 1961 with Sandra merely a year later. To their surprised their youngest daughter Francesca was born in 1971. Ramon had 6 grandchildren Rheis and Quinten, Chase and Bianca and Carter and Nina AND 3 great-grandchildren Tia, Remi and Rio. Ramon’s love for and dedication to his family and his business was a driving force throughout his life.

Ramon enjoyed spending his leisure time in his condos in Palm Springs and Harrison Hot Springs, but most of all he cherished the company of his family and lifelong friends who affectionately called themselves the “Pal’s Club”. These were Ramon’s childhood friends and their wives: Ray and Pat, Louis and Dot, Joe and Cookie, Dukie and Anita, Tony and Chris, Danny and Lena, Barry and Gina, Ernie and Millie, and Alex and Maxine. The Pals spent many a Saturday night out on the town, either at Foo’s, Puccini’s or Ramon and Irma’s house sharing laughs, building memories and strengthening their friendships.

Ramon’s success can be attributed to his strong work ethic and love of people. During the war he spent his summer breaks working at the North and South Burrard shipyards as a Passerboy and Shipwright’s Assistant. He also worked as a cook on fishing boats for several years before returning to help his parents run Benny’s Market in 1956. Ramon and Irma grew Benny’s from the small ice cream parlour and confection shop of his parents’ time into a booming deli and grocery. Ramon also expanded the business into food supply serving local fishing boats and Vancouver’s finest restaurants. Until recently, Ramon was in the office 6 days a week, alongside his son Ramon Jr. and daughter-in-law Janet, either catching up on paperwork in the office or sitting on the corner chatting up customers and old friends. Ramon’s wit, charm and exuberance for life always drew people to him; whether offering sage advice, telling a joke, serenading customers or recounting one of his many stories. Over the years he and Benny’s have made the news in numerous newspaper articles and TV spots. In the fall of 2017, Ramon was featured in two short pieces by CTV’s Mike McCardell that focused on his courage to overcome adversity.

Over the last decade, Ramon has battled several heath challenges. In 2006 he suffered a cardiac arrest shortly after returning home from work one Saturday evening. Fortunately with Irma’s quick thinking, the persistence of the local fire department, and the medical staff at St. Pauls he was brought back to good health. However, in June 2016, after a long and painful attempt to save his legs, Ramon underwent a double amputation. For months, Ramon fought to recover. The constant love and support from his dedicated family in tandem with his medical team helped him to return home despite the odds. His doctors mentioned they had rarely seen patients of his age recover from a double amputation, let alone return home to live with their families.

Ramon’s generous spirit and love extended into the community of Strathcona where he supported various charities from Strathcona Elementary, to the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement to his beloved Sacred Heart Church - which his family and many Italian community members worked so hard to build. Sacred Heart is the parish where the Benedetti family members have been baptized, married and buried for nearly 100 years. During his times of struggle the parish has been there with much needed support and prayers.

Ramon was grateful to be honored as Confratellanza Italo-Canedese’s 2017 Man of the Year. True to form, he offered a piece of heartfelt advice passed down to him by Nonna Teti… “Eat your steak while you still have teeth!”

by Francesca Benedetti