Saturday, 1 April 2023

living with uncertainty

 The world feels fragile, with fault-lines widening.

Cracks to step over

reminding me of the childhood sidewalk chant we sang as we walked.

 "Step on a crack, break your mother's back."

We didn't quite believe it, but we were still careful to avoid the lines.

646 killed in mass shootings this year in the United States

Ukrainian cities reduced to rubble

10s of millions displaced

floods and drought 


and Alabama trying a new method to kill people on death row by cutting off oxygen until they die.

I turn off the radio when news-time draws near

I don't want to listen 

I feel impotent. 

A kind someone gave me $50 to donate wherever I wish. 

I can't decide so it sits in an envelope 

on the dresser

in my bedroom.

I want $50,000


50 million dollars to give

and still there will be suffering.

I can't post this blog entry as I haven't yet discovered the hopeful bit 

to hold gently to my chest

and sing to. 

So I think of the sunshine dancing among the trees

and remember the gifts of laughter 

wrapped and satin-bowed.

I hear the words "I love you Nana" 

while walking on the beach 

and gather rocks to ground me on this earth.

I so appreciate your comments and please add your name in the text 

Monday, 20 February 2023

still and yet

Last evening, as I was rubbing cream on my legs, I was once again horrified by their appearance. Every colour and variety of veins were plentiful, shrouding the area from  my thigh to ankle.

This coming summer,  even capris might not cover this vein rainbow.

"Remember," I muttered to myself, "these are just veins."

I thought back to when I first began my blog. 

While walking with a much younger friend,  I mentioned my upcoming birthday and my age. 

She was aghast. 70!  

She went on to say that in medieval times this age was the beginning of what they called "decrepitude."

Sure enough, when I googled it, it was indeed the final stage before death!

Surprised that they were still available,  I quickly seized the domain names "" and "

Still trying to imagine what the focus of my blog would be, I decided that my site was not going to be focused on aging, but rather would be:

"Observations from an up-front woman on the other side of seventy. Collector of random thoughts and interesting stones. Maker of art in the studio and garden. Purveyor of the ordinary and the magical."

This allows for a great deal of space and room to wander.

I've been lucky to have two walking partners, two women to be wide-open-honest with and who also walk as fast as I do.

However, with health and family issues, neither is available right now,  so I've been pushing myself to walk alone.

Not every day and not usually fun.

So I set out early this morning and surprised myself by enjoying the gentle shower and the occasional gust of wind. 

Everything seemed fresh and as if seen for the first time.

                                             these photographs were taken last week      
There were several houses for sale along Landsdowne Road and in front of one sat a walker and two bright yellow paddles.

 I walked on for a few minutes then turned back and knocked on the front door.  It was early, but I had seen the light of a television through the front window.  

The woman who answered the door said the walker was available so I placed it in her closed-in porch and said that I'd be back in less than an hour to retrieve it. 

Somehow this sighting seemed important.

She said that this was the last of four walkers that had belonged to her mother and father. She had been clearing the house, readying it to sell.

Returning to Landsdowne, I twigged my back while fitting this treasure into my Fiat. 

I'll be out walking again tomorrow; my veins and sore back merely an inconvenience.

*Tomorrow, Brian will take the walker to SOLID Outreach Society

Thursday, 26 January 2023


 I can tell I'm stressed when in two successive loads of laundry there is a rogue Kleenex.

I seem to be going going going and push myself even when exhausted.

I remember about 30 years ago, when we still lived in the Cowichan Valley, I took part in a three-day workshop in Arizona called The Possibility of Women.  

Along with a great many curves and ah ahas,  the issue of procrastination came up and many of the women in the group lit up in recognition.

Not me.  

I didn't put off doing, but rather I simply did things, never believing that it was a big deal. 

our property in Duncan

 When we bought two 25-pound boxes of beautiful organic peaches, of course I canned them. 

Likewise apricots, that I cooked to make amazing jam.

No big deal.

We had a 1,000 square-foot greenhouse where I started my 25 tomato plants and a half-dozen peppers from seed. 

I grew them on and planted them  out, then picked them to eat and to make salsas, sauce and quart jars of whole tomatoes.

No big deal.

The 20 or so basil plants that I grew, I converted into pesto or added to sauces.

No big deal. 


          on the lower left of the herb garden are two beds of basil

And all of this done while also having a herb business called Harvest Herbs, selling plants and several kinds of tinctures. 

During the women's workshop with some individual attention focused on me, I saw, for the first time, that I accomplished a huge amount but never considered its value.

 I was assigned to a coach and instructed to phone her every weekday morning for a month. During this five minute call,  I was tasked with telling her everything I had done the day before. All she said was "thank you" when my list was complete and the call was over.

During this month I became aware of what I did every day; the numerous things I had previously scuffed away. 

The "no big deal" surfaced less often.

Back in the "now" I see that I have slipped once again into disregarding my activities.

Working in the garden yesterday with a man similarly aged to my daughters, at the 2 1/2 -hour mark I thought "what the hell am I doing?" Still I continued for another 10 minutes.

This was after doing 2 loads of wash before 7:30 a.m. working on the series of collages I've been creating, taking the compost and garbage out, finding and printing out all of the emails relating to our upcoming heat pump installation and the information relating to the federal and provincial grants we applied for. And finally I phoned a plumber to set up an appointment. *

This was before gardening at noon! 

I am more than twice the age I was in Duncan when I took part in the women's workshop, and now I wonder why I am tired!

I'm going to attempt to reproduce those five-minute phone calls with a small notebook.  Five minutes at the end of the day listing what I have done. 

A notebook that may help me make some changes.

And that would be a Big Deal!

these are some of my new collages

*I forgot to add that I walked with a friend from 9:30 until 10:30 a.m.

Monday, 26 December 2022

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

I'm holding tight & letting go

"I'm holding tight & letting go" are words from a poem in my last book, Collages & Letter Poems.

Today, this week, these months and these last few years slip silently into these words.

Screaming in the silence.

Every morning I listen to the news on CBC radio, often listening to NPR for a few minutes as well, to follow what our neighbour to the South is talking about.

But today I again turned off the radio before the newscast was over.

                                                                                   Too much pain.

Too many shootings of people in public places.

Too many missiles raining down on civilians, destroying cities and tearing families apart.

Too much conflict that I have no control of.

Even when I turn off my radio so as not to hear about the famine, floods and murders, still they happen.

My heart hurts.

And now, some medical experts are "worrying about a potential “tripledemic.” writes that "There’s no scientific definition for this term; it simply refers to a collision of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), flu, and COVID-19 to the extent that it might overwhelm hospital emergency departments. "

I remember many, many years ago fighting for abortion rights in Canada. Supporting CARAL in its fight to allow abortions without the approval of a hospital Therapeutic Abortion Committee. 

And abortion laws were changed.

When I was at college in Boston, I marched supporting integration in the schools. And our efforts led to some changes.

Now injustices around the world seem out of reach. 

I donated to the Red Cross and wear a sunflower pin to indicate my support of Ukraine, but nothing changes in this brutal and destructive war. 

My support of climate action doesn't make crops grow on parched soil today or tomorrow.

So, I am doing what I can locally. 

I am a member of Avodah, the social action group at Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria, and we are active in supporting local organizations and schools. "Briefly, we presently are engaged in an ambitious and broad-ranging set of initiatives to bolster food security, to address housing challenges, and to promote health and well-being among youth"**

We are in the midst of a fund-drive so we will have the funds to continue with our financial assistance to organizations benefiting people in our greater Victoria communities.

And, with this work, we can actually see the benefits. 

Avodah has supported a local school for 2 years, helping to fund "good food boxes" which delivers fresh fruit and vegetables monthly to 3 families in a low-income area of the city. Foods I buy for my own meals, regardless of rising prices.

Through two local community centres, Avodah is contributing to housing assistance.

We were told that a local family has avoided eviction because of our recent contributions.

While I can't stop the horrid murders in shopping centres in the United States or the destruction of whole cities in Ukraine, I can make a real difference in the Victoria community.

While my heart still hurts, these local opportunities allow my shoulders to relax just a little, and the pain to subside a small amount.  

I am actually doing something at a time when I often feel so useless and unable to do anything at all!

If you would like to make a donation to help us continue our commitment and assistance to local organizations please phone Congregation Emanu-El at  250-382-0615  Please indicate it's for Avodah.

                                          Until January 1 all donations are being matched.

*Canadian Association for Repeal of the Abortion Law (CARAL) was a coalition of abortion rights activists, created in 1974, to protest the incarceration of 
Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who was jailed for providing safe, yet not legalized, abortions in Canada.

** from the high holiday issue of Koleinu, from Congregation Emanu-El

Tuesday, 18 October 2022


Occasionally something happens that makes me go "WOW!" Something unexpected or simply just perfect.

This occurred today.

I will be giving three art workshops through Quadra Village Community Centre and, in preparation, I've been gathering my supplies together.   The classes will introduce groups of women to creating small collages on 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch cover stock. 

I'm packing two small fruit boxes with pages of various colours and designs that I have torn from magazines over many years.  I've also gathered an assortment of cards that I've made, again over the last several years, to give the participants an idea of what's possible. 

I call these Blessing Cards as I glue letters to form a word on the other
side of the card.   Some of the words I've chosen are: dreams, joy, courage and laughter. 

My original intention was to pick one each morning and to hold the word throughout the day.

I've made a few cards with large letters and numbers, mixed with colour, to show the possibility of incorporating text.

Today, when I looked at one of my selected cards, I thought "Oh no!" The cutout word spelled NOWHERE.  No Where. This seemed negative which was certainly not my intention! Nor did I want to use it as an example.

As I imagined how I could alter the word, perhaps covering part of the letters, the WOW happened.  

NO WHERE shifted and became 


From being lost to being fully present in the moment

       It's often just how we see things!

Friday, 23 September 2022

in my pine desk

My dresser is really an antique pine desk with 4 drawers, or what calls a "drop front secretary desk". The drawers hold my clothes and, in the upper part, there is organized clutter. 

There is some jewellery tucked into small boxes and a blue travel soap container holding a strand of moonstones. A ziploc bag holds charge cards I seldom use (one from the Bay another for our bank in Sedona) and  holds Brian and my records of vaccination.

Behind these cards is a small stack of yarmulkes, some from bar mitzvahs, and a single black one that was my dad's. 

There is also a heart-shaped cookie tin with Superman on its lid where an intricately carved ivory necklace and a simple ivory bracelet reside, no longer worn because of the ivories' origin.

My father's watch, unable to be repaired, is there too.

But what I see first when I open this desk is a photograph of me.  

It is part of a passport photo.  Removing my sister's and mother's images from this photocopy, I had used this single picture of me in a tiny collage, 

I look perhaps 5 years old, wearing a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar and bangs cut in the manner popular then, and never seen today.

The passport allowed us to travel to Tucson, Az where my mum and I spent one or two months for me to get relief from my asthma.  

Memories of that time exist solely through photographs of me in jodhpurs sitting atop a horse named Jigger and a now-missing image of me with braids tied with beautiful ribbons, standing in front of a Christmas tree at the nearby clubhouse.

Yesterday, when I told a friend of the strong attachment I felt to this photograph of my young self, she asked me what I was like then.  Was I quiet? Shy? Outgoing?

 I said that I didn't know but that I remember my dad telling me that sometime during my time in the desert, I had started lying "rigid as a board" (his words) refusing to let my mother help me to dress.  

So I conclude that I was already strong-willed and stubborn!

But my attachment to the photograph rests less with who I was and more with the not knowing.

I think of that little girl just beginning her journey, not looking to her past or imagining her future.  

Unaware of the challenges and joys and disappointments that lay ahead.

Unaware too of the choices she would make.

                        I am proud of her!