25 November, 2020

Desensitizing my inner self

The first time we went into lockdown, I avoided any contact with people. Since we live in the city, that meant going grocery shopping at 7 am when the store opened. Going for walks at times or in weather where not many people were around. It wasn't really so difficult. 

What happened after a few months, is that I started to get anxious whenever anyone was near me. Also, I started getting really upset to see people disregarding any or all the social distancing guidelines. Situations when someone would bump me aside so they could reach over my shoulder to get some spaghetti sauce from the shelf in front of me. Or, men not wearing their face mask properly, just resting it on their chins in case some store person came by. I could go on for a long time... what I am trying to say is that I became ultra-vigilant about social distancing practices. 

It became such that I would save these stories of all the dissidents for my return home and then tell them to my husband at length. As you can imagine, this was not healthy. 

Eventually, the numbers started to go down. So, I started going out on the streets when other people were there and "misbehaving". I felt that regular exposure would be a good form of desensitizing myself. The theory being it would be easier to learn to be less anxious when the numbers were down; when there really wasn't such a big risk. 

Thank heavens I did this. The numbers are now unfortunately very high. The hospital IC units are full. The health care personnel tired. Still, I go outdoors every day and move to the side when I see someone not wearing a mask properly, or I am more likely to tell the person crowding me to please wait. I am once again someone who tries to be civil to strangers. I am endeavouring to take care of myself and my fellowman in small ways. 

As my husband says, "This is a social experiment and not a race that any of us can win".   

23 November, 2020

Embracing your inner hippy

 MeWhat is a quote you follow for living your life to the fullest?

Friend: Sometimes the dreams that come through are the dreams you never knew you had.

22 November, 2020

Day-to-day work (venn diagram)


Over the years a practice
Of good intentions and 
A belief in a shared purpose
Has bridged 38 years of 
Work at various jobs and with
Different people, but still
Only one belief... carpe diem.

21 November, 2020

Hadley Story Corner: #12 Grandpa Hadley A Pioneer (Lia)

Grandpa Hadley cutting a neighbour’s hair in his back garden 

This story is not so much a story, but some ramblings about how Grandpa Hadley was a pioneer or role model for all of us who aspire to reducing our ecological footprint. 

He and grandma lived in such a thoughtful way. Grandpa gardened and grew vegetables. 

Here’s a photo of Auntie Barbara in Oxford Mills in the spring, collecting the tree sap to make maple syrup with Grandpa.


He also made furniture such as tables and lamps and, as you can see in the photo, his own garden furniture.

Thank you, (cc) Andy Blackwood for your music. 

18 November, 2020

Quilt comfort

My grandmother used to sew and crochet quilts. She would make one or two a year. She donated these quilts for her church's yearly Christmas bazaar. Her quilts would often "find" a buyer (usually someone of the Ladies Auxiliary Committee) before the bazaar began. We would tease her about how popular her quilts were even though no one at the bazaars ever saw them.

15 November, 2020

Hadley Story Corner: #11 Hadley Halloween (Karen)

(Grandpa, Barbara, David, Grandma, Gordon)

The Hadley family used to live in a beautiful house on Lakebreeze Drive in Montreal. Not only did the Hadley family live on this street, but two other houses were own by relatives as well. 

Karen tells a short story of what Dave and his siblings would do for Halloween to scare the children who came trick or treating. 

Thank you, (cc) Andy Blackwood for your music.

Hadley Story Corner #10: Easter Hats (Lia)

(Kim, Lia, (I think my friend) Arlene, and Karen with out Easter hats on)

A spring breeze on Maundy Thursday 
Then the holy palm frond on Sunday
Which I hold with wonder until 
We arrive home for lunch. I bring the
Now brownish dry frond up to my bedroom 
With my children’s bible, whose pages are 
Never worn enough to make me feel holy.

Then another, or is it the next, Sunday
Easter hats that look so very very lovely
When lying on our beds next to our 
Easter dresses, which our mother sewed 
On a machine taken out of her bedroom 
Cupboard to sew wonder and beauty for
The procession down the church aisle
To a pew in the front, though never the first.

How the church smells of everything
Old and new. Mothballs wafting through
the incandescence and washed souls.
Halleluiah, it is the altar boys’ day-to-shine
They start out so bright, swishing the incense
Down on knees, heads bowed, straight backed.

Yet, like our Easter hats that begin to pinch horribly,
No matter how the boys try, the priest loses his
Patience and sends them withering looks
Sometimes, thrillingly, he swats one across 
Their head when he thinks no one is watching.

The poem above is missing the whole point of Easter. Which is, of course, the Easter Egg Hunt. Pat used to make an Easter Egg Hunt that all children in the neighborhood were allowed to participate in.

What I love about the picture above is, first, we are all wearing petticoats under our dresses. Secondly, take close notice our homemade Easter baskets. You can see that they are actually paper lunch bags with some coloured construction paper taped around them and an air balloon hanging from the side.

13 November, 2020

Tender mercies and HLG


A few years ago, I took a course called, The Science of Happiness. It was a wonderful learning experience. There was a lot told about positive psychology and the meaning of daily rituals. My grandmother taught me one of her daily rituals and even though I probably have mention it a few times over the last years I would like to mention it one more time.

Every night before my grandmother went to bed, she counted, what she called, her tender mercies. She would think of three acts of kindness she had given those around her and also three acts of kindness given to her by others.

I also have a daily ritual I do most mornings before starting work, HLG. I write down the one thing (highlight) I really wish to accomplish that day, the one thing in all likelihood I will not be able to do (let go), and finally one thing that at that very moment I am grateful for (gratitude). 

* This post is part of my "Growing Up & Growing Old" project.  

12 November, 2020

Feeling grown up


A friend answered the question "What experience or moment made you feel like you were finally a grown up?" so....

I would like this answer to be more profound or quirky, but not having to rely on a monthly allowance from my parents felt like I was finally a "real" grown up. I know equating financial independence with growing up is a bit of a tired narrative, but I didn't see it as a "final step of liberation" from them. Rather, previously I saw money (or lack thereof) as a trigger for my anxiety, making this a topic I never wanted to talk or learn about.
Finally having some of my own money coincided with so many other "grown up" developments such as paying rent and bills and student loans, getting my first job, etc. And yet, just being in change of my own money, organizing my budget, saving up and learning about financial intelligence has made me feel more grown up and in-charge of my life.

* This post is part of my "Growing Up & Growing Old" project.  

11 November, 2020

A friend's parents' philosophy for raising children...


... Don’t be one of the sheep - think for yourself and don’t be mediocre.

This is how a friend of mine parents raised her. It is strange to think that at one time the idea of "don't be one of the sheep" was a warning parents told their children. How do you measure mediocracy? How to avoid it?  

So many Millennials experience such anxiety and depression. Was this the first seed that started to form their expectations that they had to be perfect and ahead of the crowd?

* This post is part of my "Growing Up & Growing Old" project.  

09 November, 2020

What my mom told me...

Me: What did your mom tell you over and over about life?

Friend: Life is no picnic.

Me: What do you tell your son about life?

Friend: Life is a picnic!

* This post is part of my "Growing Up & Growing Old" project.  

08 November, 2020

Hadley Story Corner: #9 Pat’s first communion (Lia)

Grandma Buckley went to mass at least once a day, often more than once depending upon the holidays. As such, Pat, uncle John, and uncle Peter were raised in a very strict catholic tradition.

This picture of Pat on her First Communion, is touching in so many ways. She looks so proud, but also so scared, yet really amazing. I wish we had asked her what she felt. Did any of you talk to her about it?

The other touching thing, is her communion dress and veil. They were handmade. The question is whether they were handed down from one generation to another, in the manner it was with baptism attire. Who would have worn it before she did?

Or, did grandma make those clothes for her? How could she afford to do so considering they were still very poor at that time? How important the occasion must have meant? Grandma spent so much time and money on making something for Pat that was only to be worn once.

Lastly, please take notice of the gifts Pat received. Her first piece of jewellery, a gold necklace with a cross on the end. Her own children’s bible and a rosary held in her gloved hands.

This is the only studio photograph I know of with Pat in it. She would have been seven years old at the time. The center of attention. The belle of the ball. A role she continued to embrace throughout her life.  

Hadley Story Corner: #8 Childhood Memories of Venezuela (Karen)

Today’s story is told by Karen about childhood memories in Venezuela. We moved from California to Venezuela in 1956.

I can’t believe I managed to find a photo of Dave and Karen inland traveling in Dave’s VW Beetle!

This was the most favourite car he ever had. He would often tell of how he could take that car over every terrain, even through streams and rivers. I think this is what Karen is referring to when she says they drove through something with water on both sides.

Karen ends her story with us getting robbed. This was a very central experience in our family.

I wonder whether that robbery was the impetus for Dave deciding to move away from Venezuela. 

(Lia, Karen, and Kim, 1951 in Venezuela)

Dave was hired by a telephone company who was installing the first telephone system inland. Not only did he go for extended periods of time inland, he also travelled all over South America and the Caribbean. In particular, he loved the times he spent in Cuba.

Since there was a political coup in 1958, they were very troubled times. For this reason, whenever Dave went out into the field, Pat would take the three girls and go any live for those weeks or months in Grenada.

Thank you, (cc) Andy Blackwood for your music. 

04 November, 2020

Pretty Princess


Some things I no longer feel anymore that I have grown up:

  • feel sad that my neighborhood bully doesn't like me
  • feel overlooked or bossed around by my older sisters
  • feel as if I just might be able to fly if the wind was a bit stronger
  • feel like a pretty princess who is waiting to be discovered
The last two feelings, I kinda wish I could experience again.

* This post is part of my "Growing Up & Growing Old" project.  

03 November, 2020

Autumn into winter

The autumn leaves, the autumn of life
Bright phosphorescent yellows
Turn Halloween orange then burnt
And ever so frail, these last leaves
Tenaciously hold on to the very
Smallest of brittle branches and
This takes my breath away.

How much we want to live
How precious is this moment
Before winter, when we are
So hopeful that what comes next
Will be gentle and kind, a time to
Faithfully test our ability to survive all.

Though sometimes, I do question
My ability or common sense to hold
Tight to those small brittle branches,
To venture on... one step at a time, 
With love and affection, every single day
Is one more chance to get it right.

* This post is part of my "Growing Up & Growing Old" project.  

Hadley Story Corner: #7 Our Dog Bonnie (Kim)


Kim tells the story of Bonnie, the only dog we ever had. She was a Welsh Corgi and she lived a long and good life.


Kim talks about how the sisters rivalled to give Bonnie the most attention possible.

Yet, you can see why. Bonnie was very cute.

Here is Daniel and Dave giving Bonnie more attention years later after they had moved to Grenada. Dave’s way of doing petting Bonnie was scratching her sides with his toe.

Thank you, (cc) Andy Blackwood for your music.

02 November, 2020

Loneliness and Aloneness

Having left home at 14 and lived on my own until 32 (when my son was born), I have experienced many of the nuanced feelings of loneliness and aloneness single-hood provides. The full gambit... despairing that I would never belong anywhere or to anyone... to sitting on the bow of a boat crossing an ocean and blissfully, joyously, knowing how large the world is and insignificant my concerns. 

What a journey those nearly 20 years of single-hood were. Looking back on them, I am thankful for them. They taught me much, in particular, the valuable lesson about the balance between self-sufficiency and vulnerability. Sometimes I wonder what past life I must have had to come to this world with this lesson to learn.

I am not lonely. I am alone in my being. All the while, forever connected to my family and friends.

* This post is part of my "Growing Up & Growing Old" project.  

01 November, 2020

Hadley Story Corner: #6 Dave and his boats (Kim)


Dave fell in love with sailing at a very young age. He lived on a street that ended at the shore of Lac St. Louis, in Quebec. He and his siblings spent many a day playing in and on those waters.

Kim tells a wonderful story about all the boats he captained over the years. I wish Dave knew about Kim living on her boat in Gibson. I think he would have gotten a kick out of knowing this. 

Here is the boat Dave and Gordon built. He told me once that it was one of the first “kits” that you could buy. Grandpa Hadley was a carpenter and engineer, so he probably did a lot of the work in building something that stayed afloat.


I love this photo for two reasons. The first is the relaxed no-care-in-the-world pose Dave has. It didn’t matter if this was a sunny Sunday afternoon sail or in the middle of a regatta… he was always in his element. Secondly, it looks as though someone told him to put on some sunscreen and instead of doing it properly, he just slathers on a generous amount around is forehead and cheeks.


Babs and Uncle Norris with Pat and Dave on their first Tiempo. Dave and Norris are obviously looking for something, but what can it be?

The Nestucca. It was owned by someone Dave knew (not sure how). Dave would go down to Seattle early summer and help the owner bring it up to Vancouver.

Their deal was that the owner and his family would have to boat for June and July. Dave and Pat would then go up to where the owner left the boat and take the boat for August and a bit of September. They were to return the boat to Vancouver and then the owner would take it back to Seattle for winter.

The owner and Dave shared the costs of the upkeep. Dave thought this was a great deal.


Dave teaching (maybe) David how to use one of his navigation devises.


Dave at the helm. Lia at the bow ready to drop the anchor. Not sure who is on the winch, might be Kim or Chris Mast. What a lovely lovely boat that was!


The wonderful Otter One. Dylan catching a fish. Notice the absence of life vest. Notice Dave’s foot resting on the door fame. He is obviously sleeping or reading, but not really overlooking what was going-on on deck.

Thank you, (cc) Andy Blackwood for your music.

31 October, 2020

Sunshine coast


Certain amount of irony in today's title. If any of you have visited northern Germany in autumn and winter (sometimes spring and summer too), you will have probably noticed the prevalence of grey stormy skies and cold winds.

If you ask someone "How are you doing?", they will often answer with their opinion of the weather. Which puzzles me. It is as if you can or cannot be happy only if the weather is in sync with you.

One of my now best friends, who moved 10 years ago to Germany from Cameroon, first question to me when we first met was "What's this about the weather?". I told her that it was a German's way of doing small talk. Her response, "That is so stupid. What good conversation can come out of talking about weather?". 

It is true that all good conversations usually start with a good dose of small talk. Yet, in Germany, small talk is considered a superficial, and thus not useful, form of communication. So, in the end, many are left with only the weather to fill up the void.  

30 October, 2020

Another quilt

Another quilt... I think drawing them taps into my engineering soul. Piece by piece. Patter upon Pattern. 

I am starting another project today, "Growing Up & Growing Old" (gugo for short). Like the Hadley Story Corner, the end date is undetermined. Even the level of progress is questionable. One thing, is that whatever finds its way here, is only a first draft. Eventually, I would like to make it into some sort of visual book.