July 08, 2014

One part of Barrie's Wonderful Waterfront Parks

The guy making those circles is an Otter - at least I think it is an Otter - it has a flat tail.

July 02, 2014

A very happy Canadian family at the park yesterday - not to mention a very pregnant woman in the splash pool. Barrie sure knows how to celebrate - thousands came to watch the fireworks in the evening.

July 01, 2014

JULY 1/14


June 29, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

I also did this on my ipad in Procreate - It is my favourite umbrella and it was so much fun "painting" it. Click on it to see a bigger version. Happy Canada Day!

June 28, 2014

Josie on my friend Donna's sofa - we were in Collingwood for 5 days and 4 nights. Since we came home Josie isn't talking to me!

Quick sketch at the Barrie Art Club
These drawings were done in my ipad with the Procreate App. Fun!

June 20, 2014

Click on this to have a closer look at the Geese and their Goslings marching back to the pond. Now that the goslings are so big the parents take them for adventure walks! The 2 kids started imitating the way the geese marched and marched them back to the pond. Too funny!

June 14, 2014

Her head is away too big!!

Drawing Debbie at the BAC

Drawing Dave at the BAC

June 12, 2014

This was a cute sight but I'm not sure this mother isn't taking a risk. I wouldn't want my little girls that close to the gander. The kids are feeding the goslings in spite of the signs that say it should not be done. Picky Picky?!

June 09, 2014

More new ducklings!

So nice to see fathers caring for their children! Back in the day they were seldom seen out with their kids alone.

June 02, 2014

Drawing my great granddaughter from a photo

Strange marshmellow clouds over Barrie last night - click for a closer look.

May 30, 2014

Josie gives me my daily laugh - lining them up 2 x 2! What a crazy dog!

May 29, 2014

Now we have 9 little ducklings as well as goslings!

The first time I saw these goslings there were 3 of them - then 11 - then 18 and yesterday there were at least 24 if my count was right.

May 27, 2014

Friday Portrait Session - not happy but thats the way it goes! My only excuse is both poses were short poses! Usually I make the head too small - this time it is way too big ...

May 18, 2014

Baby Ducks in Barrie - May 17/14

 Baby geese in Barrie - the day before yesterday they were 3 and yesterday they were 6. So cute! Makes us feel maybe the world isn't going to hell in a handbasket doesn't it?
Josie and I are too close and away they go!

May 16, 2014


WOW! Until now I have been counting on the World Wide Web to eventually bring Freedom of Speech to the world. Instead I am learning it is more likely to bring us a Police State. Someone, somewhere may well be reading these words - simply because they noticed I typed the world Greenwald into my computer and Greenwald is suspected of being an "enemy of the state" because he is a friend of Snowden the hero leaker. Someday, somewhere a person who types Greenwald into their computer may have someone in uniform arrive on their doorstep one sunny morning? I believe we are on the edge of danger - extreme danger! If you too are only now realizing how extreme the danger is or will be and if you want to do something about it I hope you will take the time to read and listen to the information this site. It takes a while so fill your coffee pot! Then PASS IT ON!

May 15, 2014


May 14, 2014

Josie has added her old soup bones to her palette. She has also changed her eating habits. Instead of eating from her bowl she takes the nuggets and throws them one by one as far as possible. Then she  plays with the nugget tossing it around with her paws. Eventually she eats it and goes back for another. This little dog is nuts!! I imagine she calls the above arrangement "2x2x2"?

May 10, 2014

Pretty bad except for the top one - I thought they looked pretty good until I took pictures of them!!

May 03, 2014

This are 15 minute sketches of me on Newsprint by a woman in our Friday morning Portrait Group at the BAC. Aren't they terrific? We take turns modelling for each other and it was my turn.

May 01, 2014

How lucky can I get? Josie gifts me with her smelly old soup bones almost every night. This one was on my pillow and she can't understand why I moved it.

April 29, 2014

Time to Wrap this up?

I don't know about you but I think I am getting sick of writing this. I expect you may be getting tired of reading it too. It is simply too damn depressing and it no longer feels necessary although I think it was necessary and I am very glad I have spit it out in this 80th year. 
It WAS an awful childhood which certainly affected the life I have lived for worse rather than for better. It was worse for my brothers and sisters who did not overcome our childhood. There are no pretty endings to this story.
I have survived and survived fairly well - maybe because I spend 13 years talking to a psychiatrist - maybe because I inherited healthier genes - or did I just have better luck along the way? My guess would be that my father's love saved me and gave me the will to survive. I remember him saying "life is sweet Bet" and wondering what he meant. Maybe I stuck around trying to find out what he meant? I don't know why I survived but here I am 80+ years later. Stuttering away.
Much to my surprise writing what I have written seems to have, in fact, put it behind me. It has been really liberating to say out loud what I have said. I believe those who are abused most often feel they did something to deserve that abuse. As a kid on Tower Street I walked on wooden sidewalks and stepped on the cracks as I recited "step on a crack and you break your mother's back". OMG - the guilt!
I expect my brothers and sisters felt their problems were of their own making too. They all lived unhealthy, unhappy lives. Much death and destruction.
There is lots more to be said but it is really all the same story of abuse until I/we got out of the house. I married when I was 17 and pregnant. After my first baby was born I decided I could pretend to be anyone I wanted to be. I tied on my apron and decided my favourite person in the world was Eleanor Roosevelt so I would pretend I had her nature and go from there. I did that for years and maybe I still do it. I am not sure I really know who I am.
The symptoms of the sickness continue in my very fractured family. Watered down neurosis but neurosis never the less. What a shame.  
If you are young and also lived a damaged childhood I hope you will ask for professional help and work hard to help yourself.
If you are old and lonely don't despair. It may not be your fault or anyone's fault. It may be all about the genes we and those we care about inherited. The luck of the draw. Keep putting one foot in front of the other for as long as you can as well as you can.

April 28, 2014


I am scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to remember good things that happened in The Yellow House. There are some but I am sorry to say I can't come up with a single good memory of my mother. She was all about scenes and throwing things and sulking. I lived for my father - I think we all did. Every night he gathered us around his plush green armchair and told us stories. He made them up as he went along. There were 3 mice who decided they wanted to live in the big city so ran away from home and got themselves in all kinds of trouble. There was a nasty witch who did horrible things - so horrible that Bob couldn't stop crying after he went to bed. Dad had to get us all up, gather us around his chair again and kill that nasty witch off! Then Bob was able to sleep without sobbing.
On Sunday mornings Dad would make waffles on an electric waffle maker on the dining room table. As  the kids got older we would often get to fooling around and squabbling. I remember getting sent to the bathroom, to sit on the little chair my father had made for me, because I couldn't stop giggling. He also built me a pine desk for my 10th birthday.
I got Scarlet Fever. Dr Cameron came and took me to the hospital in his car. I had private nurses around the clock which must have cost my father a great deal of money and I am sure my mother would feel they were unnecessary. I loved being in the hospital! I was safe there. My guess is that is why the doctor put me there. However a terrible thing happened. I was in a very large isolation room by myself until one afternoon when they brought an unconscious little boy in and put him in a bed across from me. The doctors and nurses were running back and forth to him far into the evening. He had been riding his toboggan down a hill and been hit by a truck. I wanted to know all about it but my nurse wouldn't  say much. He was such a cute little guy and so still and quiet. I woke up in the morning and he was gone! Of course, he had died during the night but that had never occurred to me. I asked my nurse where he was. "they moved him to another room" … "why?" "you made too much noise so they moved him". What a stupid or cruel woman.
The doctor kept me in hospital long after necessary. I was allowed to wander around at will. My father came and took me to the movies. Bambi and Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet. I don't think I had ever seen a movie before although later we sometimes got to go on Saturday afternoon.
Bob and Mary and Billy also got Scarlet Fever. The department of health put ISOLATION signs on both our front and back door. That must have been a sweet time for them. Not!

April 27, 2014


I became the cleaning lady who got all the dirty jobs. I hung the washing on the line on freezing cold days - then took the spooky stiff frozen clothes off the line, rolled them up to keep them damp until I ironed them the next day. I cleaned the silver and the windows. If something was spilled I cleaned it up and I changed Billy's wet sheets.   The only thing she couldn't make me do were the dishes. I still had what we called my "sore hands" and they were in bandages most of the time. I'm not sure if it was exema, a reaction to the sulfur treatment or simply a psychological reaction to my pain and confusion. She would say "what a great excuse they are for you!" but never say it in front of my father. Therefore my confusion. She treated me fairly decently in front of my father and I wasn't old enough to realize she had no choice and didn't really think well of me. My father took care of my hands and she wouldn't dare have me put the bandages in the dishwater because he would know it. My father was a quiet man but he was the boss.
Before bedtime my father would take me to my room and we would do my hands. I think Dr Cameron had advised this because when the adult me asked why "you took care of my hands and why did they keep me in hospital because of my hands?" he said "because your mother wasn't taking care of you". Those were the days when doctors made house calls and took your tonsils out on the kitchen table. He knew what was going on in that horrible yellow house. My hands were soaked in a basin of warm water to loosen the places the puss had stuck to them, then they were soaked and dried and he gently rebandaged them. While we did this my father taught me how to add and subtract and later to multiply. I still think of him when I multiply figures. Think of him and thank him. Anything good that came the way of us kids came from my father.
 The hands broke out periodically until I got married and left home. One summer when I left my husband and lived under her roof my sore hands returned full force. When I got out from under that roof they cleared up immediately.
In a sense it is understandable that my mother went mad. Giving her the benefit of the doubt and the benefit of decent genes it must have been very difficult for this spoiled private school rather cultured very Catholic young woman who would have 5 unwanted children by the time she was 34 years old. Yes, she was pregnant again with Janet. You will be glad to know Janet would be her last child and also the only one she seemed to actually like. That may have been because I was old enough to change the diapers, bath and play with Janet who was 12 years younger than me. She was a joy.

April 26, 2014


Portraits from yesterday's BAC group. OMG I love doing these and they ARE getting better! I was late and had less than an hour for Debbie and less than half an hour for Arlene.

April 25, 2014


Oh damn! I lost this whole entry last night. This is the second time this has happened. I take my iPhone to bed and one finger type my thoughts into Notes. In the morning I refine (haha) my words in my BigMac and send them off to you. Twice now my Notes have simply disappeared and I am unable to find them again.
It is 5 AM and I trying again. This time I am sending my words in an email to myself rather than counting on Notes to save them for me.

It was on Tower Street that my mother came to actively hate and single me out. It is the first time I remember my father coming home from work around the same time every late afternoon. He had a new safe job at the Lakeshore. He often had candies in his lunch pail for us kids. He paid a lot of attention to us and to me in particular. I was always my father’s favourite which didn't make my mother happy. When I was older I would ask him not to talk to me because "it makes mom mad and she gets mean to me".
As I said earlier she was going over the edge. Knowing what I know now I believe she was beginning to have psychotic episodes. Billy was also on her hate list. I suppose he was about 2 and he wet the bed. She called him "that dirty little boy" and I was "that little tramp" She was still calling me "that little tramp" when I was in my thirties. In fact when I was in my fifties and seeing a psychiatrist I called my sister to ask her if I had  imagined her title for me when I was a kid. “She STILL calls you a little tramp Betty!!”
In any case when I was 10 or so she did something so unspeakable l I am not even going to tell you what it was. Ever. Don't ask me. I knew it was wrong and I knew I was supposed to keep my mouth shut about it. I didn't. My father came home from work and asked "so what did you girls do today [she had kept me home from school - I was an accomplice] and I told.  Knowing full well what I was doing but unable to see the consequences. I still see his head swivel as he told her to go to their room.  I swear she hated me with a vengeance from that day forward. I swear she said to herself "I will make her pay, I will ruin this little brats life!". She succeeded in good part. Adults can do that to their children.

April 24, 2014


I suspect our move to the yellow house at 83 Tower Street in Kirkland Lake had something to do with the strike. We may not have been safe in the Swastika house? The yellow house wasn't nearly as nice as our Swastika house. It wasn't even what I would call a house. More like 2 identical apartments side by side on one floor although I only remember one bathroom on one side and one kitchen on the other side? I had to share a bedroom and bed with Mary although we did have a nice pine 4 poster bed that must have come from The South. There were two big empty rooms at the front of each side but we never used them. Maybe they were too expensive to heat? I was in grade 2 and we all started figure skating lessons. My world revolved around my father who had been given a new job at the Lakeshore. World War 2 had started and he was testing the engines that would go in the Corvette ships. These were small fast ships that delivered food and other necessities to the larger ships that carried the troops. Dad would sometimes take Bob and I to the shop on weekend days. The engines were all humming and had to be checked every so often to be sure they continued to hum. There were pictures of King George and Churchill and signs with slogans like "A Loose Screw Could Cause A Man His Life!".
It was on Tower Street that my mother really started to go over the edge. I remember the tablecloth being lifted and all the dishes and food flying to the floor - or all the coats flying off the rack and landing on the floor. I was probably about 9 or 10 because I was old enough to notice the different reactions from all us kids. I would start to cry and busily pick up the dishes or coats or whatever while saying "its okay mom, you didn't mean to" or something along that line. Bob would disappear to his bedroom closet where I would find him curled up sucking his thumb. Mary would shout something at my mother, something close to "why don't you go to hell" and stomp out.
I really observed this and wondered why we all reacted so differently.

April 22, 2014

EIGHT or so TO EIGHTEEN - part 1

I don't know how long we lived in the White House or if my brother Billy was born in that house or in the next house which was the Yellow House and it was in Kirkland Lake which is 5 miles from Swastika.
We lived in The White House during the year long very nasty miner's strike. As I write I realize what a major dramatic event the strike must have been. I will never learn the extent of the trauma they suffered because all the players are no longer living. The strike wasn't talked about in our house and I didn't learn about it, or my fathers part in it until years after my father was dead.
Since then I have, of course, read about it and I just googled "miners strike in Kirkland Lake" and came to the following site where Marian Botsford Fraser has a lot to say about Kirkland Lake and the Gold Miners Strike of 1941 and 42. I hope she won't mind me quoting her.


"The Kirkland Lake strike was an ugly, grim strike that pitted neighbours and families, even the churches, against one another over a cold northern winter. The memory of the strike surfaces when you ask questions of the old-timers. There are still people who are not invited to one another’s picnics, and whose daughters would not be permitted to marry the sons of a certain family. People know still which grocer extended credit, whose father joined the Pinkertons to march against the miners, oh yes, people remember."

I was 6 when they went out on strike. My feeling is we didn't live in the White House for very long before moving to Kirkland lake and it probably had something to do with the strike. My father and about half the miners in town did not go out and they were locked inside the mine for months. I know he insisted my mother learn to drive [not that she wanted to - she was an only child and preferred to be driven], put the shotgun in the backseat of our 1934 Buick and told her if she got a call she was to load us all in the car and head South! My my - what a ride that would have been! A crazy woman with 4 kids under 8 and a dog on a 500 mile drive during war years when you couldn't buy a tire to save your soul!

April 21, 2014

ZERO TO 8 - part 2

The first Rosie Brown house burned to the ground one very cold winter night when Bob and I were 4 and 5. Mary had arrived by then. She must have been about a year old because she walked for the first time the day of the fire. She was there despite my mother leaving the Catholic Church after her second child. She left so she could use birth control but I guess they forgot or ran out of condoms  one night? Or maybe she was using the rhythm method in order not to sin?
The fire started in the attic while we were eating dinner. Bob and I were bundled up and carried across the street by our neighbour Mr Darling. We watched the fire from their bathroom window. I don't remember how I felt although I do remember the sight and the heat.
We moved to another house owned by Rosie Brown. In case you didn't google Rosie Brown I will tell you everyone in Swastika and Kirkland Lake knew who Rosie Brown was. A cranky old poorly dressed Hungarian Jewish woman who had a pack of dogs and usually carried a broom to shoo kid away as they walked past her house. The dogs would bark like crazy when we walked past. Years before we went North Rosie had staked a gold claim, she sold her bakery and bought a whole lot of real estate in the area. She didn't take care of the rundown homes she rented but I imagine she was more or less the only game in a booming mining town in the 30ies.
We weren't in the next house for long and I suspect the previous tenants left in a hurry because we found a barrel full of very nice stuff in the sort of sub basement. In wasn't a basement in the way you might think of it - it was more like a big hole underneath the house with a trap door to get down there. A dozen lovely pink filigreed wine glasses and an 8" high iron bear bank that sits on my counter as I write. I also found my calling in that house - somehow my father bought us a barrel of apples (not an easy feat in Canada's North at that time) and I stole a few of those apples and went out selling them door to door. The beginning of my entrepreneurship! Our dog got distemper and one night my father had to shoot him. The next day the dog was laying out at the back of the house in the snow. All alone. Waiting to be picked up by the garbage truck. I say that because I saw him or her and felt bad. Bad and scared.
I was in Grade One when they bought the solid White House. It was close to the railway track (as was most of Swastika). I loved that house. I watched a black bear carefully herd her 2 cubs across the tracks. Men were riding the rails and would jump off the train hoping to find something to eat. My mother would give them soup and a sandwich on the back porch. I was jealous - partly for the food but mostly because she was so nice to them. Laughing and smiling at them. It does feel nice to be a benefactor doesn't it? The bad years were starting for me. I was I  grade one and I got scabies. I called them The Itch and I brought them home from school. As I write this I feel like "the dirty little girl" she said I was. I was put in bath tubs of water that was way too hot for a 6 or 7 year old - then roughly rubbed down with a rough towel. As if hard rubbing would rub the scabies right off me. I vaguely remember her talk about having to wash all our clothes and of course that was also my fault. My hands broke out in sores because I was allergic to the sulfa cream she rubbed on me. I don't honestly remember but I don't think any of the other kids got scabies. I am a sad looking, poorly dressed, little girl in my Grade One School picture. I think I started blanking things out around that time.

April 19, 2014

Drawing Sheila - the Portrait Group at the BAC - we take turns drawing each other for 2 hours on Friday mornings. I'm not very good at it but that is not the point. 0I love it!

April 18, 2014


I was born to a mother who wanted no children and a father who wanted a dozen. They married in 1933 during the  Canadian Depression.  A 26 year old Catholic city girl and a farm raised Protestant 35 year old who had gone North to help pay the mortgage on the farm. They honeymooned at the Ford Hotel in Toronto as did I 18 years later.  She jumped on the bed in glee. I think she was very glad to get away from her parents. For good reason.
They moved to Swastika which is 5 miles from Kirkland Lake where my father worked underground at the Lakeshore Mines. Rented a house from Rosie Brown. Does anyone out there remember Rosie Brown? If I have time I will tell you about her later. If you can't wait google Rosie Brown of Kirkland Lake.
I was born 9 months after they were married  and my brother Bob 11 months after me. This spoiled only child who didn't want children wasn't a good mother. I once had a lovely big dog - the breeder said "she will be a good mother". It was like that. My mother was not a good mother and she never grew into being a good mother although she enjoyed some of us more than others of us. It must have been awful for both of them despite being newly married and undoubtedly in love. My father told me he bought 24 dozen diapers "because there was never a clean diaper to change you kids!"
She didn't feed me and I had convulsions - the doctor told her her baby was starving and she claimed her milk was no good. Years later My father said "don't train you daughter the way your mother trained you. You were tied on that damn po chair when I went to work in the morning and still tied there when I came home at night!" I feel the only relief from her must have been my beautiful little brother.  I was walking and talking at 11 months old and would give Bob my thumb to suck when he cried. It makes me feel very good to think of this because it tells me I must have been a kind and good little kid. Some kids are kind and sweet and others just aren't. It's all about genetics. If I was good at heart then I must be good at heart now. At times the thought of giving Bob my thumb to suck has calmed doubts about my nature.