Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

Becoming Embedded

Skinner Bluff hike on the Bruce Trail

I think it is safe to say that we humans are afraid, maybe too strong a word, perhaps hesitant, about change. Especially if we do not choose it voluntarily. It is easier to stay with what is known, certain, comfortable, than to embrace, step into, leap into, a new job, new town, even a new country. We do take a chance when we give up the familiar. I did choose to give up the familiar, and after a year of traveling in the UK on a narrowboat, and studying leather work in Florence I moved from Toronto, where I had lived since 1976 to Owen Sound, where I knew only a handful of people. And what happened next? A pandemic, leaving me feeling very alone. Not so bad when everyone was staying home, but when six people could meet I was sunk. I hardly knew six people.

Skinner Bluff hike on the Bruce Trail

But despite knowing so few people at the beginning of the pandemic I now feel embedded in this community. In fact I could call it several communities as mini communities exist within the larger one. For instance Owen Sound has a fishing derby (in non-covid times) but you will never see me on the river bank with a fishing rod. Just not my thing, but you will see me at the Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts, taking a course, having lunch in the Palette Cafe (otherwise locally and affectionately known as the Bingo Cafe as the bingo sign is still outside) or doing a couple of hours of volunteering. I call myself a GBARTS groupie, not sure they approve of that. It is inspiring to be around the centre at close to its earliest beginnings. Every week something is re-arranged, cabinets added, working spaces more formalized. What a challenge they have had, opening just before Covid, but they have pivoted and pivoted to keep themselves going. They have pivoted so much it is almost a pirouette. A cafe/restaurant was not part of their original plan, but there it is.

So I have become embedded. I was going to draw my version of a ven diagram by hand, and then thought, I should be able to do that in Word. Oh, how I have forgotten my skills, and oh how frustrating that I can’t just ask a colleague. Between us all we could usually figure out how to bend those word processing programs to do our will. Then I had to figure out how to put a word document into a wordpress blog. Not as easy a task as it should be. Yes, should be. It involved screen shots, and cropping and a lot of frustration all round. Longer than this whole piece will probably take to write! I am quite impressed and not a little surprised by how many little circles I had to make as I thought of all the ways in which I fill my days and spend my time, and I didn’t put one in for my time creating in the studio. The community garden kind of happened by accident last year, begun by someone asking permission of the city to change a small unused parkette (a word I first saw in Toronto, not sure if I like it) into a vegetable garden. He was given permission and I saw the sign inviting people to plant it up. Now this year it is more formalized and I have visions of canning tomatoes in the fall. There will be a committee, which is usually enough to make me run in the opposite direction, but happily there are competent and knowledgeable people getting involved so maybe I will be the minute taker as I am for the group listed below.

There is Syrian food available at the weekly farmers market in Owen Sound. The hummus is the smoothest I have ever tasted. Question, do you taste smooth? Maybe I should say umami, a pleasant savory sensation. The Syrian stall holder was sponsored by a group in Meaford, a neighbouring town, 5 years ago when Canada accepted a large influx of Syrian refugees. Prior to the pandemic there was a list to sign at his booth for those interested in helping to sponsor his brother, and I signed it. Of course nothing happened during the first lockdown, but I asked him how things were going when the market opened again and became involved in the sponsorship group. It is one thing to hear of the thousands living as refugees on the news, it is another to know the brother of one of them. It kinds of brings it home in a human way that it is no way to live, and certainly not with children and for a long time. So here I am, part of a sponsorship group. In some ways it seems such a small drop in the ocean of the numbers of refugees, and it sure takes a lot of paperwork, fundraising, and volunteer hours to get them over here and settled, but I have to remember that every little helps. So if you can help, the info is all available above.

Stream on 2nd Ave West that I walk by daily with Tucker. One of my visual treats

Living in a small community “cross fertilization” happens between one group of friends and acquaintances to another. I met a couple in the sponsorship group when I was Contra Dancing, and another friend helping out with Sue’s guiding group, and yet another at a covid approved gathering around her fire pit.

If you enjoy hiking here is the place to live! There are endless trails, and of course the Bruce Trail and all of its side trails. And the hikes are beautiful. Escarpment walks with views over Owen Sound, the water, not the town, and Georgian Bay, or through the forests. I am learning more about the geology of the place, so in the future will be able to say what kind of stone forms the ground we hike on, and why there are deep crevasses in the escarpment. For those not familiar with Ontario geology, what I already know is that the escarpement that the Niagara river flows over creating Niagara Falls extends all the way up to Tobermory at the very top of the Bruce Peninsula.

From the Bruce Trail Conservancy Magazine

Working with putting a Word document into a blog post has been one frustration, another has been taking pictures of my newly created stone jewellery to be able to post pictures. The end game of which is that I hope to sell some of them, so the colours can not be distorted. Sounds easy, right? Well, I have spent hours trying to make it work. I have referred back to the meagre notes that I took when Jeff, a neighbour on Hastings gave me a lesson, but that was two years ago now and I have no memory. I have taken a very good class with Kate Civiero, a wonderful glass blower, through the Business of Art course offered by the Southampton Arts Centre, but doing a class is one thing, but doing it yourself, on your own, is another. I find arranging the necklaces and jewellery fiddly, and the lighting a nightmare, and editing is beyond my present skills, but I am getting there. Who knew there was so much involved in launching my new endeavour. Well, actually, if I had thought about it for a minute I would know, because as a small business owner I was chief cook and bottle washer, and developed skills in many areas not related to doing a therapeutic massage. I thought that was all behind me, and was glad I would never have to tackle having a presence on the web, but here I am, working it all out. Including how to easily convey what size the piece is. Thank goodness I like problem solving.

Lake Huron pebbles and Zuni bear

And talking about creating a new endeavour, the products of being an artisan, a maker, a craftswoman, not sure which title fits, I am using the hands that appeared on my massage therapy business cards on the cards for Made By Mann. I am so delighted the keep on using them in this new incarnation.

I am surprised at how quickly I have become comfortable in this community, I even gave directions to the Jubilee Bridge the other day to a lost soul. So if you are thinking about big changes in your life be assured that if you are willing to explore your interests in the new community you will begin to feel comfortable in a reasonably short length of time.


It’s all coming together.


Finally, the new site is ready to go, and the pebble jewellery is ready to launch!


  1. Gwynda

    The necklace photo is perfect. Pleased you’re settling in and happy to be your friend!

    • Maggie

      Me too, me too, and glad you think the necklace is perfect. I have just been working on some editing, and have the piece for reference. It is a time consuming process, and I still feel like I am playing in the dark! See you soon for a walk I hope.

  2. Glen

    So happy to hear how well you are integrating into your new life Maggie, but not surprised given your flexibility, positivity and indomitable spirit! πŸ™‚

    • Maggie

      As I just said to Jodi, you never know the impression you give to others. Thank you for what you said. I kept meaning to respond to your email about the cottage. I can’t believe it needs a new roof, in my mind it is still brand new. Time passes in a blink. Perhaps I can visit for the day when at my cousins in Huntsville, when are you coming over?
      Hugs to you both

      • Glen

        The cottage was new, 26 years ago. πŸ™‚
        We are coming over later this year, at the end of August, in the hope that infection rates are lower and quarantine rules are eased a little by then. We’d love to see you, let’s stay in touch.

        • Maggie

          I will have had both vaccines by then, I just booked them today. It would be lovely to see you, my cousin lives near Huntsville so a day trip can be arranged. All things being better by then I hope, in terms of visiting. It should be……

          • Glen

            We’ll be at the cottage from August 23rd on and off for 4 weeks. You would be very welcome to visit!

  3. Jodi Higgins

    Oh Maggie I do love your writing. Sounds like you are really forging a wonderful life in you new community. I knew you would. You are fearless and adventurous and creative and jump into life. I can’t wait to visit and hear more about your adventures. Stay well and enjoy!

    • Maggie

      Oh Jodi, what lovely things to say. We don’t have any idea of the impression we make on others. Yes, a visit would be lovely when we can. Keep an eye on courses at the Art Centre, or I can create something to do here. It will be fun.
      And to you two, keep stay well and safe!

  4. Linn

    In my humble opinion I think you did great! I also really enjoy reading your thoughts on community here, something I’m thinking a lot about these days.

    • Maggie

      Thanks Linn, I feel a small sense of achievement for getting the screen shot. Using shift, command 5 I can edit the size of it!
      Community is such a nebulous but essential thing isn’t it? It deserves lots of pondering I think.

      • Linn

        You just taught me something new! I use shift + command + 3 (screenshot the entire screen) and shift + command + 4 (select an area of the screen) a lot, and if you hold control as well it’ll put the screenshot on your clipboard for pasting instead of saving to your desktop. But shift + command + 5 looks to have even more options, so thank you πŸ™‚

        • Maggie

          Wow, that is an honour.
          I screen shot the information when I upgraded the operating system. Otherwise I would never have remembered it! That and a few other hints I thought would be helpful!

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