Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

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All change at Newbury

Caught in the act.

Lots of birdlife on the canal. Wendy caught a heron in mid flight, and swans come round wherever we tie up. Obviously narrowboats represent food to them, and they can get quite pushy. Jim was nipped on the arm walking by the open window by an indignant swan.

Swan armada
Chasing male Mallards, who were probably trying to distract the swan from going after the female and her chicks.
Begging from us
Fending for itself
Taking a breather while the lock is emptying
Cousin John at the tiller. He joined us on day 4, Thursday.
Mike in one of his happy places
And another

So many great photographs of the countryside and sky taken by the crew:

Elli’s amazing photograph of the Bruce Tunnel

Five years ago when I travelled this canal, this house, an old lock keepers house, was derelict. Now it a cosy canal side home.

When we got to Newbury it was all change. Our first visitors had to leave and our second ones arrived. And we had to turn back. There were RED BOARDS up for eastbound on the Kennet section of the lock. A month of rain and storms had caused the river section to be too high and there was damage to locks. As well, a tree had fallen across the canal and needed specialty equipment to remove it. We did not have the time to wait. We had pushed each day to try and achieve our goal of getting as far as Windsor on the Thames, and now we are in tick-over, the lowest speed of the boat, 2 miles per hour, and taking in the countryside as we meander back to Bradford on Avon.

From the left, Jim, Karen, Leslie, Pam, sister Sally, Sue and Maggie in the Dundas arms for lunch
The view from my bunk window in Newbury
Sue got very comfortable at the tiller very quickly.
Sally brought her knitting
Pam relaxing
Leslie, working in the rain, and relaxing afterwards while Sue braids with paradores for our windlass’s
Who could resist a photograph of a boat named after me!
And now for the flora
And lastly, Muscovy ducks, actually geese, hanging beside the canals

A Family Affair

There were a lot of moving parts to get this three weeks of life on a narrowboat underway. My cousin Jim, third from the right, and his wife Karen, on his right, took a cruise around the North Atlantic to get to the UK. After a week in London they visited with my brother Charlie, far right, and his wife Ann, on his right. Charlie drove them to my sister Jane’s, far right, and her partner Martin, taking the photo. I joined them after visiting with my sister Sally, top picture. Sally helped me gather together herbs, spices, and other essentials for the boat which we have used extensively. Jane and Martin prepared an amazing Indian meal, which has set a high benchmark for the trip.

Then we all journeyed to Bradford on Avon, and stayed at the first of three Barge Inns that we have visited so far on this trip

The next day we met our boat, Dundas, and piled on.

And so we are underway.

Above is the second Barge Inn of the trip, where we had lunch on the second day. We did the Caen Flight on day three. It is considered one of the gems of the waterways. We tackled locks both before and after the main flight. We went from lock 23 to lock 50 that day. A huge sense of accomplishment was felt by all. Below is the before shot with the flight behind us. From left to right, Elli, Wendy, Jim, Mike, Maggie and Karen, the crew the first week. Wendy is Jim’s niece and Elli is her daughter. Mike is now honourary family, joining us from my new home of Owen Sound.

The lock gates closing.

The original living wall. We were a well oiled machine, each taking different roles all the way up the flight, from boat driver to lock lackey, and an advance crew who set up the next lock.

Going through locks is hard physical work, interspersed with time to contemplate the beauty around us as the lock fills or empties. And of course the challenge of landing the boat to unload lock crew, then entering the lock without banging on the sides of the lock. My cousin John joined us after missing the opportunity of participating in achievement of the flight but photographs of him will have to wait until the next blog. I need a good long session in a pub with better wifi to transfer photographs via the cloud from my phone to my laptop, so until next time.

I Went on a Knitting Cruise

Symphony of the Seas, Labadee, Haiti.

No smirking in the peanut gallery, it is a real thing, created by Treena and her right hand man, Bob. They both work in the travel industry, and Treena wanted to open a yarn store when she retired. Bob said, why not now. So she did. Spin Me A Yarn in Etobicoke. For the brits reading this, don’t pronounce the k in Etobicoke. And then they put the two together, SMAY (Spin Me a Yarn) Knitting Cruises. Cathie, from my Monday night zoom knitting group, is a SMAY customer and told me about it. I was intrigued, and I inveigled my cousin Cathy to come along. What a lot of fun. My first ever cruise.

Miami Beach from the Symphony of the Seas, as we left port.

Cathy and I had an afternoon and morning in Miami and Miami Beach before we got on the cruise ship, and we stayed in the Art Deco area of Miami Beach. Not for the last time on this trip I was like a kid in a candy store. I love Art Deco.

And couldn’t stop taking pictures. Must have driven Cathy a little crazy.

In the afternoon we walked to the beach, Miami Beach! Quite honestly not somewhere I ever thought I would find myself. The politics in Florida scare me. I think Trump is the worst possible choice for president, but Ron DeSantis is a close second worst choice, now out of the race and back to being governor of Florida. The following is from Wikipedia, March 7, 2024. “DeSantis opposes abortion and has denounced Planned Parenthood.” “On December 15, 2021, DeSantis announced a new bill, the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act, which would allow parents to sue school districts that teach their children critical race theory.” “Throughout his political career, DeSantis has opposed bills and judicial rulings upholding the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, and his political campaign has refused to clarify his position on the subject.” No my taste in politics. I could go on, but why, I can’t do anything about it, and there are more fun things to say.

Despite US politics, the walk on the beach was lovely.

The morning of the cruise we went for an extended walk from 20th Street to way down Miami Beach, from North Beach to Mid Beach and maybe a bit of South Beach. We walked down the activity trail next to the beach and back up on the road set back from the beach. It was a lovely day, warm and breezy.

How cool, to photograph the current rescuers in front of the Art Deco headquarters.

We broke the walk with a lovely latte, and then went in to use the bathroom.


Can’t get enough Art Deco:

Walking back up the street we saw the back of the Beach Patrol Headquarters


Had to go in to the Official Art Deco Gift Shop, and yes, I bought a few things. Miami Beach is in full rejuvenation mode and many of the old Art Deco buildings have been or are being renovated and brought back to their former glory. I really enjoy Art Deco, Art Nouveau and the Art and Craft style. They were all close together in time, such a creative time in history.

Just a few more pictures of Miami Beach:

As you can tell, Cathy and I have to up our selfie game. Actually, it is me that has to do that.

Back to the hotel, and then off to the boat.

We had a charmed time getting on the boat. No line ups to speak of, and we were in our cabin in no time.

A balcony is a must, and we slept with the door open, to the sounds of the ocean as the ship created waves.

Even before we met our fellow knitters and their friends, Cathy and I had gone down the water slide, twice. Kid in a candy shop time again for me. Such a hoot.

We did it on the last day aboard as well. We missed our chance to use the Flowrider: By the time we looked into it the line up was loooong and it was hot. We played mini-put instead.

We met our group for sail away, and again for dinner in the dining room where three tables were reserved for us each night. By then we had seen an ice skating show, and after dinner we enjoyed an outrageous, but not sexist, comic. Adults only.

Have you done a cruise? They are a curious mix of everything being laid on with a spatula, and a hard sell. Let’s talk about the “being laid on with a spatula” first. Dinner in the dining room, a luxurious, three floor affair. You are seated, you have a changing menu every night of delicious food. You order, eat and digest. Yum. And the service is impeccable, tips on your cruise bill are mandatory. If you order a bottle of wine and don’t finish it they bring it back to your table the next night. They remember whose bottle was whose each and every time. You pay for each alcoholic beverage unless you buy the alcohol, fancy coffee and soft drink package. (Those that did buy that package were easy to distinguish around the pool areas, had to get their money’s worth) At the end of dinner you get up and leave. No bill.

All of the shows are included and there are endless ways to entertain yourself on board, games, trivia, gym, swimming (avoiding the people drinking Mai Tai’s in the pool), rock climbing. You can pop into the buffet day or night, or go the bistro on the “Buy Me” deck. So much to choose from and all included And the bars. Many of them. All themed.

Staircase down to the Buy Me deck, aka deck five

Ah, the Buy Me deck. It was a strange mixture of very expensive items, including high end jewellery and alcohol, and tat, often overpriced. Not too much in between. And lots of ways to entice you to buy buy buy, which of course is universal. More of that in a bit. It was hard to avoid, it was a major through way from forward to aft, some other decks were blocked by theatres, ice rinks and by the smoke emitting from the casino. So strange to be around smoke, we have such strict laws in Ontario. Apart from the Buy Me deck, which also included the Excursions Desk, there is the Customer Service Desk. So even if you tried to avoid the Buy Me area but had an issue with a charge on your account you had to go there. On another deck was the Next Cruise selling area. What better time to get people to commit to another cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean than when they are on a very enjoyable cruise? And deep in the ship, deck two, where the conference area is, is the Loyalty desk where you can become a member of the Crown and Anchor Society. Now, this is my first cruise, which as I said, was a lot of fun, and I have never been to an all inclusive resort, or many resorts of any kind, so all of this is likely to be par for the course. But all new to me, and interesting to observe, a combination of sheer enjoyment and a cynical mind.

Our first day was a sea day, and we were in class at 10 am. We began by correcting mistakes, we had had homework where we intentionally made mistakes which were to be corrected. Except I didn’t. I had been willingly enticed into a jewellery promotion for a free bracelet, and off I went with Sherry to stand in line to claim it. Get the bracelet free, and buy the first 5 charms for $5, US. After that each charm was $5. I got one for Cathy as well, whether she wanted it or not. It was her birthday after all.

The bracelet in question

It took almost 1.5 hours. Later I found out I could have gone after class! So annoying. Not so lucky with the bracelet being given away by the jewellery store. It was a time limited giveaway that afternoon and I missed it. For those that did manage to get one, when you went back to get a charm each day (theirs were free) you had to go into the jewellery store. Clever. And they had a plan for buying things on “tick”, aka payment over time.

So, back at the class. I missed fixing mistakes, but not the big reveal. At the end of the class Treena unveiled her what we were to knit, a mobius cowl, i.e. a cowl with a twist, and showed us an ingenious way to cast on 200 stitches, and then double them to 400. You knit from the centre out on both edges at the same time. Very clever.

Karen modelling Lambert’s Smooth Sailing Cowl, designed by Treena
Ingrid having fun
And me being delighted. The yarn was hand dyed for the cruise by L’il Red Kettlehead. Catching a Wave, blue, and Stripes Ahoy, white. Very soft and cushiony.
Treena tutoring us on the cast-on in the hour before dinner, when we would meet for drinks.
Cathie, who got me into this. Happily so.

Getting the hang of it.

Very focused. Wish I had taken more pictures, but I too was trying to get the hang of the cast-on.

This picture pulls at my heart strings. Mike holding the yarn for his wife Norma to wind. Just like my dad used to do. Doesn’t he look like a pro?

Cathy’s birthday was on our first full day on board. Treena and Bob had this photograph taken of our table that night and gave it to Cathy at the end of the cruise. I think it is a lovely one. Treena and Bob are on the right, Kayleigh and Ron are the couple in the middle and Norma and Mike are on either side of them. There was a chorus of singing by the waiters and many other cruisers besides our own tables.

Day two and three were excursion days. I can’t say I have “been” to Jamaica, but we did have a very good guide for the hour journey to Swimming with the Dolphins, and the time we spent with the dolphins was magical. I realized as we interacted with them that they probably see humans as a the means to an end, getting lots of treats. For each time they did an action that was requested they received a fishy treat, which they insisted on if they felt it was delayed. Just like training Tucker, but they are way more successful. We both thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and the dolphins seemed very happy to perform. We couldn’t take pictures, but we took them of other groups.

Notice the cooler, full of treats

Hard to stop taking pictures


The matriarch was 60, usually they survive to 20 in the wild, and she had a baby at 55! She had separated a baby from its mom, and they had to isolate her to get the baby back to mom. So they decided she should have one of her own. She had been in a travelling show and then brought here. It was probably her only baby. I asked if she was retired, but our guide said she was still very happy to perform.

Try as I might I could not find a pair of dolphin earrings, that I think would have been a big seller at the cove, but no luck anywhere.

I am sad to say that the excursion at Labadee was not as enjoyable. Labadee is a cruise company developed resort, not really for Haitians, and we did not know what was misery was developing for Haitians at the time. Both Cathy and I signed up for the Snorkel Safari. But sadly, as Cathy said, it was snorkelling in a graveyard. The reef was dead. I saw a small amount of pale yellow brain coral, lots of dead coral and few fish or crustaceans. Not the cruise line’s fault, we humans really have soiled in every being’s nest.

Just to lighten the mood, more pictures

Loved that balcony


Approaching Falmouth, Jamaica

Aren’t we relaxed:

No doubt we are related

Despite my sometime cynical observations I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am very glad I went. Thank you Treena and Bob for a great experience, and Cathy, for coming along for the ride.

The last picture is the whole gang of knitters. Sadly there wasn’t enough time to get to know everyone. One participant preferred not to have her picture published, but this is such a great shot I had to make it work.

You don’t know what you’ve got…

til it’s temporarily gone. I have a broken down knee. There really is something about reaching my mid sixties. For most of my life my health has been good, very good really, when I think of what others have had to deal with. I enjoy cardio classes, aquafit, walking Tucker and all over town, Tai Chi, yoga. I eat well, or at least I think I do, and sleep, well poor sleep as we age is the big secret that we are never told about. And then, mid sixties, health irritations started to creep in. Besides my knee, mystery teeth pain, mystery sinus pain. Back, shoulder and arm pain. The last three are inevitable I think, for a massage therapist after a long career. But my health seemed to go from being good to being a pain in the neck, literally. I suppose I knew it would happen some day, but not yet. Mid sixties? The new 40’s?

Going up the Caen Flight at Devizes

The final straw for my knee happened during Tai Chi! The last place I would have expected it to happen. One second I was fine, then a ping and the pain was overwhelming. There was a paramedic in the class, Jim, that tied three bandages together so I could support my leg while sitting in a wheeled chair that was designed to help people into a swimming pool. The chair was driven by a respiratory therapist, Patty, who kept telling me to keep my arms in because I was frightened I would hit the door frame, or the elevator door, so was reaching out to stop that. She was a good chair driver but it was a beast to move. I got into the back of Dan’s car, a third volunteer. I had to bum my way back to rest my leg on the seat, I am glad they were all in class that day. And then off we went to the emergency department, where the security guard brought out a broken down wheelchair for me to get into. After a relatively short wait I saw a doctor. I was referred for an MRI, given pain meds and sent home with crutches and a brace. In two weeks I will see an orthopedic surgeon and hopefully a few months from now they will clean out the floating bodies and torn cartilage in my knee. I am being well taken care of by a medical system that is vastly overstretched and understaffed. BUT, what a difference having mobility issues makes. Argh. No driving for a bit, limited walking, no cardio. Everything takes longer, it’s tiring and a blasted nuisance. When I owned my own business and someone asked how I was the answer would be how the business was. Now, it is about the knee. Or not. I am really trying not to be the person you dread asking how they are because you will get a litany of their health woes, and now I understand why! I guess we are all a bit self obsessed.

View from the Tithe Barn in Bradford-on-Avon

It is not going to stop me going on the two trips I have planned. A short knitting cruise. Yes, you read that correctly. A Caribbean cruise with a group of knitters. I found out about it and persuaded my cousin Cathy to join me. My first cruise. Wonder if I will like it. We are going to be knitting a neck cowl on the blue Caribbean seas.

Going through Newbury

The second trip is three weeks back on a Narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon canal. My cousin Jim, who had been on Little Star with me for a week along with his wife Karen was all over it when I said I was getting itchy to go on another trip, so this May we are. Along with more friends and family rotating through. That is why there are photos of narrowboats on this blog. You don’t exactly want to see the inside of an emergency room, or a swollen knee!

Somewhere on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Love the view through the door.

So it was my knee that finally prompted me to finally write another blog. To follow up on my last one about getting my life in order in preparation for death. Or incapacity.

Reading, first night on the Kennet and Avon. Big city lights

The new Will is done, my doctor has the contact info for my POA (Power of Attorney) for health, and has my wishes for end of life care in my health records. My lawyer will be my executor as I didn’t want to put the burden of wrapping up my estate on family or friends. Being an executor is a heck of a lot of work. And you pay the lawyer the same as you would pay the executor and they have more experience with these things, so can do things faster. At least that is the hope. The lawyer also knows how to contact my POA’s for health and property, and vice versa. So it is nearly all done. What is left is disposal of my personal property and I am working on that. It is sad to know that my collected possessions will probably not be treasured by family, but they are mostly far away and have no sentimental attachment to any of it. I may try to force some family “treasures” on them, including some family jewellery, and they can do what they like with them. I am smiling as I write this. And why would my friends want it? They have enough stuff of their own. We are all trying to get rid of things. So it will be dispersed out in to the world by an estate sale or given to charity, and I guess some items chucked away. I will continue to enjoy them for the foreseeable future though.

Turf lock, Kennet and Avon Canal

Along with tangible possessions are the intangible. Email accounts, websites, social media accounts. I have just found out that gmail will delete your account after you have not signed in to it for 2 years. I was trying to figure out how to delete it but couldn’t get back into it because the cell phone number I had used for a verification code was no longer valid. After going around in circles for a while I did some searching and found the above info. So hopefully those gmail accounts that I no longer use will eventually go away. Facebook now has a system in place to delete accounts so will look into it. Two friends accounts are still around many years after their deaths. It is the last hurdle.

Filling the lock. Kennet and Avon Canal

It has taken well over a year to get to this point. And when I reflect on why the best reason I can come up with is because of all the decision making that has to be made. And all the thinking about it. Which is something that is easy to not do. Some of the sticking points were: Deciding who to choose as POA for health. Having a conversation with my POA for health about exactly what I wanted, not only when something drastic happens but going through a variety of scenarios where I may be incapacitated and unable to make decisions for myself. For my POA for property, writing down information so that they can easily step into my shoes to keep my life running financially. Not easy when so much is electronic now, and computers and phones are locked by a code. Thinking about what I want my estate divided, what percentage for each beneficiary and making sure that the lawyer has the correct contact information. Choosing a lawyer whose values align with my own, and choosing an executor. And how to dispose of my “stuff”. After helping friends with their family member’s possessions I don’t want to inflict that on anyone. Then of course how I want my body to be disposed of, green burial please. I am glad that it is almost done, and glad to know it is done.

A right angle bend in the canal to go over an aqueduct. Kennet and Avon Canal

I intended to write about this tidying up process in an ongoing way, and I haven’t. So sometime over the next little while I will write a blog about the specifics of what was involved hoping that it may be useful to you and others. I will include references to organizations and forms, check lists I developed etc. And if after that I still want to I may put a workshop together. Will wait and see on that. Don’t hold your breathe, there will probably be a knitting cruise blog and narrowboat trip blog before that.

Bath, of course.

Embracing life, preparing for the inevitable

Last year the brother of a friend of mine died suddenly. In his sleep, and for no apparent reason. Under 60. And he did not have a will, nor did my friend have any way of getting any information from his computer or cell phone because they were locked. My friend, while working as a social worker for a school board (read: huge workload, dealing with kids in difficult circumstances) began a bureaucratic nightmare with multiple institutions while also grieving the last member of her family of her generation.

Eleven years ago I went to Ghana, Africa, to volunteer for my friend Peta who was building a vocational training school there. It seemed a slightly daring destination, after all I had to get special vaccinations for exotic diseases such as yellow fever. So I decided to finally write a will and get Power of Attorneys set up for health and property. I felt like a responsible adult, I had completed a task that most of us feel intimidated by, facing our future death or possible incapacitation. Now, I thought, it would be easier to wrap up my affairs if I died, and for my appointed Power of Attorney’s to look after my affairs if necessary, or so I thought. After taking a short workshop last summer I realized that I had only given them half or less than half of the tools they needed to make their jobs easier and more efficient, not to mention how much stress, anxiety and frustration I had unwittingly potentially inflicted on them.

The workshop, given by Bill Bruce at Trinity Annan United Church was deeply enlightening. Now anyone who knows me knows that formal religion is not my bag, but I immediately knew I had to update my will and POA’s, the workshop was spot on. Thank you Bill for your time and information.

I also knew that I would find it difficult to complete this process on my own, I would be more motivated if others were going on the journey with me, so enter Glenda and Mike. They are friends I have made since moving to Owen Sound. We do the same classes at the YMCA (gym). It took us a while to set a date when we could meet as life kept on getting in the way, but we finally did. As a small group we can divide up some of the issues that have popped up in our discussions. How and who can determine incapacity, what are the current rules about MAID. In Canada we have legislation in place that allows us to have medical assistance in dying, MAID. In some ways it is a straight forward process, very well delineated and regulated. Over 10,000 people have taken advantage of it in the first five years it has been legal, 2016 to 2021. There are many lovely stories from the families of those that have chosen that option. The one that stays with me is of an older couple, in their 90’s, married forever. They had multiple health issues that made them both eligible for MAID. They discussed it with their family, and they chose to do it at the same time, surrounded by family, all goodbyes said and love surrounding them. The husband or wife could not bear be the one left behind to grieve. They were holding hands at the end. I digress, but MAID is an option I am glad that I have. So Glenda, Mike and I have our research tasks and we will meet again after my trip to England. I am writing this, at the moment, from the bed at my sisters house in Durham.

Seaham Harbour, County Durham. The spray is higher than the lighthouse on the harbour wall.

One of the first things that hit me as a result of taking the workshop is that if I had a medical emergency at home and dialled 911 and then passed out the paramedics would not easily be able to get information about my health status, such as medical conditions or medications without rummaging about in my home, wasting time. Once at the hospital the staff would not know who to contact or what my wishes were concerning my care should I be unconscious or unable to communicate for any reason. That is important to me as I have definite views about what care I want and maybe more importantly, don’t want. They wouldn’t know what medications I take, by blood type or if I had any major medical conditions. You get the picture. I was happy to discover it is not rocket science to solve these problems.

How about a sheet of paper in an easy to find place with such information on it? Apparently paramedics look for a piece of paper or envelope on the fridge or near a front or back door. Titled IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, ICE. Easy peasy. Mine is now in place.

Now, what about finding me unconscious while walking my dog. Tucker would bark his head off and attract attention, but how would they know who I was. I have learned that cell phones, both iPhones and androids have ways that pertinent information can be accessed from a locked screen. Paramedics and other first responders know that, but from my conversations with others many people do not. On an iPhone it is accessed

I am sure Tucker would bark and bark and bark if anything happened to me. He does anyway.

and completed on the health app. We did find it on one android quite quickly, so good luck everyone with finding it on yours should you wish to and haven’t already done so.

In the weeks after the workshop it hit me that I had tied the hands of my Power of Attorney for property and health behind their back, so to speak. They needed more information than they presently had access to to act effectively on my behalf. It was a bit of a shock when I thought things through. The POA for property did not know, among a lot of other things:

  • My phone or computer password
  • Where I banked
  • What are my income sources
  • What my expenses were and how I pay them, automatically, manually, and do the bills arrive by mail, email.
  • My credit card or banking pin numbers

Many of these things we are told to keep secret, but my POA for property would need access to them to keep my financial life ticking along if I had an emergency and could not do it for myself.

My POA for health had a general idea of what my wishes were, but mainly in worst case scenarios. What about the not so worst case scenarios, but ones that would significantly alter my quality of life. We had a breakfast meeting and discussed it. We used forms that the Province of Alberta had produced to provoke exploration of various scenarios. Then we went into the nitty gritty of what I absolutely do want, and maybe more importantly, what I absolutely do not want. Interestingly Alberta seems to be the province that has produced the best information to help explore POA for health issues and Bill gave us the one we used as the basis for the discussion. I will now discuss these wishes with my doctor so that it is in my medical record.

I don’t know quite why I feel so compelled to dive into this topic, and then to share it as a blog. Life is good and life is full. I am happy and feel incredibly lucky to have the life I have. For all the usual reasons, family, friends, a dog, an adequate retirement income, where I live, my ability to travel, and time for doing the things I want to do. Some people say “you will be dead, it won’t be your problem”, but I think that statement partly comes from our fear of the inevitable. It is too scary to think about, and plan for. Maybe I want to control things from beyond the grave or while being incapacitated, but is that a bad thing if it empowers my POA’s and executors to confidently act on my behalf, save them time and the stress of wondering if they are doing the right thing? After all, they are people I love and who love me. I want to make their burden as light as possible.

So I have started out on this journey to try and tie the details of my life up with fancy ribbons, beginning with an IN CASE OF EMERGENCY information sheet. Done and on my fridge, and new POA forms signed.

I feel inspired to write about this process as we go through it, and I have developed some forms, and will do more. Presently I have an ICE form and another for Power of Attorney for property. They are Microsoft Word based and I would be happy to email them to you to customize for your own use.

Thinking about why I want to share this information as a blog, as mentioned above is interesting. I want to do a series of them as I go through this process. There is so much to look at besides the POA’s and ICE forms. How do we choose POA’s and executors. I have already mentioned incapacity and it is a bit of a winding road. Then there is dementia and how if affects the eligibility for MAID. Hopefully that will be sorted out in the next review of the MAID law. Then what about our relationships and our belongings and our legacy. Thinking about all that will help me write a much better will, and on a personal relationship level guide me as to who I may want to bring back into my life. Covid has already brought some very old but distant friends back into my circle, but there is more to think about.

I would really enjoy your thoughts about this blog and its contents, don’t hesitate to contact me. It is a big conversation.


I read a book about a Doctor who changed from delivering babies to delivering MAID: This is Assisted Dying by Stefanie Green which I found was very thoughtful and compassionate.

Others recommended at the end of that book:

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Knocking on Heavens Door by Katie Butler

The Inevitable by Katie Englehart

Physician Assisted Death, What Everyone Needs to Know by Wayne Sumner

Link to Power of Attorney booklet for Ontario:

Alberta’s personal directive kit:

All the very best in 2022

Bradford On Avon on the Kennet and Avon Canal. A walk down memory lane in November 2021

I am very pleased to write and say that I have made donations to both the The Women’s Centre Grey Bruce and to the David Suzuki Foundation, for those not Canadian David Suzuki is a long time environmental and climate change crusader. The donation, of over $100s comes from 10% of the sales I made during this year. Thank you for your purchases so that I can make these donations.

I chose these two organization for the following reasons:

Women have been very adversely affected by the Covid pandemic. They were trapped in abusive homes, and some were murdered. Many lost their jobs in the service and other sectors and the wage divide between men and women is reported to be widening. They are now talking about women not getting promoted as they may choose to work from home longer due to childcare responsibilities and will not make the contacts and be able to shine in person that encourages promotions. Very frustrating to see hard wins lost like this. Apart from this ongoing plague women are also loosing their right to have an abortion when they need one by right wing politicians who still want to control women via their reproductive systems. When will this fight ever end. There is a very good book exploring the push of right wing conservatives and evangelical religious men against the equality of women, All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister that I highly recommend. Well researched and very insightful.

2021 has been the most tumultuous year in terms of weather that I have ever witnessed. From heat domes and fires to winds and floods and more all over the world. I got a registered letter from my insurance company this year saying that my home was no longer covered for overland water damage, i.e. flooding. Luckily that is not likely to happen to this house, but what about the people that it will affect. A good reminder that insurance companies only real goal is to make money. David Suzuki has been a long time champion for the environment, and hopefully more of us are listening and changing our ways. Walking a little more lightly on the earth. It is not surprising to me that people such as Greta Thunberg are up in such arms about climate change and mad at the adults in charge. Children have been educated about climate change, environmental concerns and reducing their carbon footprint with such initiatives as litter less lunches and re-usable water bottles for years. My friend Alan taught some of those lessons, yea Alan and all the other teachers.

Walking lightly on the earth is not a simple as it seems. It is challenging to keep believing that the incredibly small things I do such as recycling, composting, re-using, refusing plastic bags etc has any affect at all. And then there are the larger issues, should I fly, and if so, for what reason. Is the desire to visit exotic far away places justification? Or is visiting family and friends? And what about my fossil fuel burning vehicle? Is an electric car the answer, but how is the electricity generated? Are we on the verge of a sharing society, such as cars and tools, or is that an idealistic folly? I suspect that those much younger than myself will determine that.

This post seemed so negative it was hard to send it out into the world, so I am going to end by recommending another book. It is called Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard. As usual, I listened to it and it is also available as an ebook as well as in print. I found it in my library. She is a forestry researcher and has revealed the complex cooperative relationship among trees through complex Mycelium (fungus) networks connecting roots underground. The Mycelium facilitate transmission of water and food to trees in need and particularly younger and stressed trees. More recently she is investigating the ways that trees signal danger to each other. The Mycelium are being likened to the nervous system of plant life. I find this thrilling as I first read about bushes warning other bushes about approaching deer eating their leaves. Other bushes made themselves less attractive by increasing tanins in their leaves, but the route of the warning was not known. At the time I wondered if it was airborne, such as an essential oil being evaporated from the leaves as it is with Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, rosemary and thyme, but it is through the roots and Mycelium. Her work is changing the way that forests are managed, and in the future may alter the forests vulnerability to infection and forest fires such as we have seen in recent years due to single species planting. I will never walk in the forest in quite the same way again.

Denise and I enjoying a visit at the Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts cafe before the latest Covid closures.

Til next time…..

Creations for Christmas

Well, I certainly don’t have marketing under my belt as it just occurred to me to day that I should be letting the world know that there are still a few pieces available of the Sauble Collection.

It has been a year of thinking things through in terms of my desire to create items and then how to put them out into the world. Creating and not dispersing would fill my home very quickly. The website and Sauble collection were a good beginning, but I am realizing I do not want to be limited to one medium. I have bought leather and have made some bags, which did not make it to the website, so I have to find a way to streamline all this. I think if I was a computer native it would be easier, but no, I have to plod my way through figuring it out. But I am having fun creating, which is the important thing, to me anyway. I really like my tag line, a Meandering Maker. Meandering all over the place, literally and creatively.

Here is the last bag available. Hand stitched, veg tan leather which I dyed myself. Very organic, not at all the style I made in Florence.

It is based on a bus or train conductors ticket bag and has three sections inside. I am offering it at $90.00 as a prototype. Can be cross body or a shoulder bag. The one I made myself two years ago is now soft and supple and I got a compliment on it just today!

I hope everyone has a great holiday season however you celebrate it, and what better way to end than a picture of Tucker and Piper at play.

Taken by Piper’s dad, Dave Landry of

If you build it, they will come, take two

Available Creations

This August Tucker and I drove from Owen Sound to St. John, New Brunswick to visit long time friends that had recently moved there from Prince Edward County, Ontario.

I broke the journey up into three days in each direction, but they drove from Kingston, Ontario to St. Johns last fall in just one day. In two cars, so there was no switching up drivers. Even dividing it into three days, did I experience much of what Ontario, Quebec or New Brunswick has to offer along the way, no, because I mainly drove on highways. It started to make me think about childhood journey’s by car.

Flowerpot Rock, Fownes Head, Fundy Trail

I would not describe my parents as intrepid travelers, but we had a VW campervan, and the only way that we could see the world as a family of 7 was to camp. And we were lucky enough to have a university lecturer as a father. That meant we could travel for the whole six weeks of our summer vacation from school. In 1965 and 1966, yes, an age ago, we went to the south of France. It took us a week to drive through England and France, and a week to get back, which left us four weeks to play on a Mediterranean beach.

Although I was very young, I distinctly remember arriving in France. Everything was so different from England, immediately. We did not drive by highway, which, if they did exist, and I am not sure they did, we certainly did not use them. Each village had a sign indicating you were entering the village, not unusual anywhere, but when you left the sign was repeated with a red line going diagonally through it. You were out of the village. No inviting sign asking you to return soon. And the villages did not look like English villages, even apart from the style of buildings. There were women walking around, mainly older women, wearing head to toe black, permanent mourning was de rigueur . They were often carrying a baguette, a form of bread that we had never seen before. Bought fresh daily. And the vehicles, Citroen, Renault and goodness knows what else, did not look like vehicles in the U.K.

We stopped every day for lunch, often by the side of the road in a pull off, and it was very common for anyone riding by on a bicycle, yes, were were on very small roads, to call out bon appetit.

So we meandered through France, stopping to look at things along the way. One time is was the Bayeux Tapestry in Normandy. It depicts the Battle of Hastings, 1066, the last time was Britain was successfully invaded. It is 70 meters long, and when we saw it it filled three rooms. Even at the time I wondered at how long it must have taken to create it. I wanted Mom and Dad to rent one of the listening devices you carry round to hear about the tapestry, but Mom quickly dashed those hopes by saying that Dad would be able to tell us all about it. I also remember wondering why the tapestry was in France, not in England, and I have to admit that it just dawned on me that it is there because they were the victors! The Battle of Hastings is such a seminal date in British history, but I never think of it as a defeat!

King Harold, with an arrow in his eye. There is still dispute as to whether this is how he died.

More exciting was the visit to the to the Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct in southern France. We were able to get to the highest level that is now closed to the public.

Pont du Gard
I thought is merited two pictures

It was built to bring water to the city of Nimes. It carried 8,800,000 imperial gallons of water a day (thanks Wikepedia). An amazing feat, created two thousand years ago! However, for us it was just something to climb all over, which we did. One advantage of being young back then is that a lot of things were easier to explore, now, as I said, the only part you can walk on is the lowest tier. When we visited Stonehenge, again, sometime in the 60’s, it was not fenced. We parked on the road and walked right up to it and played on and around the stones.

Dad made the journey as much a part of the holiday as he could. Not so the trips that my sisters and I took driving across France in more recent years. We definitely used the highways, and we drove as far as we could each day, making it to Provence in two days. As we drove off the ferry into France the cars were no different. Now all makes are available everywhere it seems, and they all look the same to me. Now the French are very clever. Most of their highways are toll road. They make the tourists help pay for them. And yes, if they build it, we will come. There were cars from all over Europe, and we would have opinions as to which were the worst drivers. And as we drove along we passed all kinds of signs for places of interest, but we forged on, just seeing the country immediately next to the road.

On my return trip from New Brunswick one sign in Ontario did catch my eye, and I did go and have a look. It was a lock on the St. Lawrence River, and a freighter was going through it as I watched.

It made me very nostalgic for my time on Little Star, and fueled the stirrings I have for another narrowboat holiday in the future.

Two things before I go.

Firstly, my friends Caroline and Arlene want to spend some time exploring using a camper van, and while we visited Nova Scotia from New Brunswick we went to see a 1985 (or 86) VW Westfalia, or a Westie as they are now known apparently down in Chester Basin.

Although they did not buy it, it sure was a walk down memory lane for me, and probably got me thinking about my childhood holidays. While they chatted to Jeff, the mechanic that restored it, I had lunch at the Seaside Shanty. I had previously had a lovely dinner there years ago with friends that my friend Lori and I met up with while traveling the east coast. The best scallops, and Blueberry Grunt anyone?

Secondly, I am going to be part of a Pop-Up Studio Sale at my home on Saturday, September 25th. Would be great to see you if you are in the neighbourhood.

Fixing the glitches, oh, and here is the website address

Is it a river, delta or landscape?

Wow, I am really happy with the response to the creations. There are little boxes going out in the mail tomorrow. It is exhilarating to know that my pieces are striking a cord and going out into the world.

I am really glad that I am not responsible for the website of a multi-national corporation, but I am sure that they would run a beta version past lots of people first. It was just Kailey and me, and even with Kailey’s experience there are glitches to fix. It was fun today to go through them and find solutions. So, here we go again.

When you get the latest Meanderings there will be an icon you can click on to go the home page of A Meandering Mann and Made by Mann. From there you can click on Available Creations. If you just want to go to the webpage it is I wanted to keep the Meanderings, or blog, as the first place you land when one is sent out.

Some of the pieces have numbers, some don’t. If you want to buy one quote the number and the area, e.g. Stacks, when you email me, and include your address for mailing, and a telephone number you want me to call if you want to use a visa or mastercard.

Now I will be tidying up my studio getting ready for my next endeavour. Nearly all of the Sauble pebbles are now jewellery, just a few haven’t found their home with another pebble or two yet. Some of them are lovely so I will have to think of more ideas. It will probably be a while before pebble jewellery will be on my bench again, although I do have some from the North East Coast of England and other styles of jewellery that will go up in a while. Getting the Sauble pebbles up was enough of a hurdle. But a happy hurdle. My tag line is apt, A Meandering Maker, I will be meandering from one thing to another.

The last blog was a long one, I hope you didn’t get bored before the end. It felt important for me to write so your thoughts and responses are always welcome.

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

When I learned how to drill holes in pebbles and stones a couple of years ago I knew I was hooked.  The idea of combining a love of searching and finding interesting stones on beaches with an end use, creating interesting and unusual items of bodily adornment was irresistible.  I had owned a Dremel for years and hardly used it, now it is a favourite tool.

The pebbles themselves each have their own story that began millennia before they were picked up on a beach by me, and the exploration of their origin has captured my imagination and curiosity.

The stones in these creations are from the shores of Lake Huron, specifically from Sauble Beach.  Sauble Beach is on the east side of Lake Huron and south of the Bruce Peninsula. It is the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and slowly taken away from them in treaties that said that they “ceded” their land.  Ceded always sounded to me like a reluctant action, and I think it was, they were pushed into it, but the white settlers wanted more land and their needs were triumphant.

It is likely that many of you know Sauble Beach as a summer beach destination with great distances of sand for sunbathing, building sandcastles and generally having a carefree time.  Maybe you  have even had a summer holiday there.  I could tell from the stores that were closed for the season when I was there, that during the summer it is a very popular beach resort.  The stores were full of beach wear, beach toys, gifts and other memorabilia not to mention numerous food outlets.  Ice cream, hot dogs, cotton candy.  However, until the day I searched for pebbles there I had not stepped foot on it.  And the beach was full of amazing small, flat or slightly rounded pebbles for which the coast is renowned.

Searching for pebbles with Zoey

The first beach pebbles that I collected for drilling were from the Beaches area in Toronto near where I used to live.  I usually collected them in the winter when my dog could run around south of the snow fence as free as a bird, or at least a dog off leash.  I would bob my head between keeping an eye on her and searching the ground.  At the time I had this fantasy that the stones on the shores of Lake Ontario began their life way up along the chain of the Great Lakes.  That they were chunks of the Canadian Shield, which was formed during the Precambrian era which lasted until 570 million years ago.  Yes, lasted until 570 million years ago.  Very old rock which began as mountains and was worn down to what it is today, a shadow of its former self, by glaciers.

To go back to my fantasy, I imagined the stones being moved by the currents and worn away by rubbing against each other in the water and on the beach.  I imagined them flowing over Niagara Falls, traveling down in the swift current of the Niagara River, through the mighty whirlpool in the Niagara Gorge and coming to rest at my feet on the shore of Lake Ontario so that I could pick them up.  Sadly, this is probably not the case, but being eroded by water and friction against other stones is true.

Escarpment rock and tenacious tree

Very likely the majority of the pebbles that I picked up on Sauble Beach began their life as part of much bigger rocks formed much more locally.  Sauble Beach is on the west side of the Niagara Escarpment that extends from Niagara Falls, to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.  It arcs slightly east, getting quite close to Toronto as it travels north and then returns west to form the peninsula.  I find the stone formations of the escarpment quite fascinating, especially as it relates to Niagara Falls and how the falls are eroded.  However, I can’t talk about that here as it is not very relevant.  Maybe when I make pieces from pebbles from Georgian Bay.  But I digress. 

More escarpment, natural, not made by man

When the glaciers advanced, and hit the escarpment, instead of grinding them down they went up and over them.  Seems amazing to me that they went up and over as the glaciers can grind down granite and the escarpments rock layers are not nearly as strong as granite.  So the west side of the escarpment, the Huron slope, and the Huron fringe, including Sauble Beach have deposits left behind by retreating glaciers.  So my best guess is that the pebbles that I have made my pieces from are predominantly dolomite and granite, dumped by glaciers that retreated 17,000 years ago.  Now, I would love some wonderful geologist who knows this area well to come along and correct or supplement my knowledge.

All in all, I find it a very sobering thought that the pebbles that I pick up did not just appear overnight, but have a long, ancient really, past. I am picking up geological history without really giving it a thought.  It reminds me of my brother in law, Trevor, picking up a piece of ice in Iceland.  It had broken away from a glacier and landed on the shore.  As he picked it up he said “ancient ice”.  As I said, sobering, and very thought provoking.

Talking about the ancient history of the pebbles makes me think that my own process of creating wearable pieces is short and trivial, but it too has a story.  Little did I think when I got hooked on drilling pebbles and make wearable history, as I now think of it, what was involved.  Everything seems so simple at the beginning.  Get pebble, drill hole, make piece, present to the world.  Getting ready to present these creations to the world has been as complex as it was setting up my previous businesses, whether a massage therapy clinic or a massage therapy products company.  And it has been a challenge, and I must say a pleasure to do so.  Re-using the hands originally created for my massage therapy practice business card gives me a sentimental thrill.  Yes, business cards are still used, although brochures have been replaced by web sites.  So I have to have one of them.  Now I really thought that I had avoided the necessity of having a web site, but then again, I also remember looking through the window of the IBM store in the Royal Bank Plaza in downtown Toronto and looking at the desk top computers, $10,000 a pop, and thinking I would never need one of those.  Now I can’t tell you how many computers I have owned.

Dragonflies, or Damselflies eat mosquitoes. They are a good thing.

While pricing the pieces I used the same process using excel spread sheets to calculate the total cost of all the components and the time involved in every process.  Each pebble is washed, drilled, washed again, polished using a museum quality wax, and then assembled.  And of course the stones have a shape all their own.  It takes a lot of trying out combinations to get one that satisfies, that give me that feeling in my solar plexus that says yes, this is it.  After all that, and the piece is made, it has to be photographed and measured and written about.  I am still struggling with the photography, not a natural environment for me.  Then I had to think about how I was going to ship the items.  The boxes were finally ordered and are ready.  And I had not anticipated all of the minute details that goes into creating a web page.  The blog page had been set up professionally by Linn Farley Oyen in Toronto before I began my travels, but now it needed to be expanded for my creations to an outlet to release them to the world.  I have enjoyed the process, working with the multi-talented Kelly Laing, and by the time you are reading this it will be complete and launched, and when I have something new to offer I hope it will be a much simpler process to do so, and that I will be able to do it without having my hand held every step of the way.

Thinking about how the indigenous people of this area, the Saugeen Ojibway, were pushed onto and smaller amounts of land until there are now two small reservations and restricted fishing rights made me think about this in a larger context.  Here in Canada there was a concerted effort to kill indigenous people, and if not all of them, then their culture. The children were taken from their families where they lived a traditional lifestyle, trapping, fishing etc and put in residential schools, largely run by religious orders, forbidden to use their language.  They often did not see their families for many years, if they did not die at the school, so family life and traditions were completely disrupted.  In the sixties was the famous Sixties Scoop, where children were removed from their parents and adopted by non-indigenous families, against their or their families wills.  Horrific actions that have taken place in my lifetime.  So much damage.  Now, however, there is resurgence in first nations peoples reclaiming their language, traditions and culture and building on it.  The languages were almost lost, but now they are being spoken and taught again.  It made me think of my own original country, England and Great Britain and what is going on there.  Growing up, Gaelic was almost a lost language, almost treated as quaint.  Now it is thriving, and the Gaelic culture is being nurtured, taught and celebrated both in the original Gaelic countries, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany, and in the diaspora.  Ireland has made Gaelic its second official language. The 2011 Canadian census found there were 7,195 speakers of “Gaelic languages”, 1,365 of them in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward island, mainly Scottish Gaelic.  Thank goodness for Wikipedia to be able to confirm knowledge that is vague in my brain. 

In Britain, successive successful invaders imposed their language and culture on the population.  It amuses me that we are called Anglo Saxon as the Angles probably came from the Angelne peninsula, part of the Jutland peninsula, today northeast Germany, Schleswig-Holstein.  And the Saxons came from the south Jutland peninsula, Westfalia, Lower Saxony. (

And that is only part of the British heritage, before the Angles and Saxons there were the Romans, and mixed in with this morass were the marauding Vikings, and the rule by the Danes.  And the final successful invasion, the Normans, from Normandy in 1066. Each invader imposing their own language and culture.  The winner takes all.  And who knows who I have forgotten, picts, for one, and Queen Boudicca, the Celtic queen of the Iceni tribe who tried to defeat the Romans.   There is a wonderful statue of her on her chariot across from the Houses of Parliament in London, but no postcards of her that I could find, only punks with mohawks. 

The Roman Baths, Bath
The Georgian Pump Room, built above the Roman Baths

The Romans, I know, had a clever trick of relating a local god or goddess to one of their own.  They would give them a double name for a period of time, mollifying the locals, and then eventually dropping the local god.  So the Celtic goddess Sulis, of the hot springs in Bath, became Minerva over time.

I do not remember seeing signs like this when I lived in England.

So we Brits, and Europeans in general, are not of a single bloodline, we are mongrels, a common term for mixed breed dogs when I was growing up, from all over the world as people now immigrate from the four corners of the planet. How a round planet has four corners I am not sure. I have a suspicion that although there is some mixed blood in indigenous people and some European blood thrown in occasionally that they will have a much less mixed up genome than most Europeans. But I am not recommending 23 and me testing to find out. And I may be wrong.

Two mongrels at play
Tucker and Piper. They really were having fun.

Language and culture are important to us, and with the resurgence of both in Great Britain, there is a growing desire to break it apart. The Scottish people will probably have another referendum, there are rumblings in Wales, Ireland is getting antsy again. Soon it may not be Great Britain, but four different countries, and so history rolls into the future.

Phew, that was a long one. I hope you enjoy perusing my creations. 10% of the sales of these pieces will be donated to the following charities:

The Women’s Centre Grey Bruce Inc.

David Suzuki Foundation

Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides

Doctors Without Borders

I will update the amounts donated as I make sales and send these pieces out into the world.

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