Preoccupations change over time.  

I tend to think that the thoughts I had as a child were always lighthearted. They weren't of course, but my mind has a way of glossing over the bad bits.  

Most are solitary memories, a state of mind. 
  • Skipping rope; leaping so high I could almost fly!  
  • Zooming on roller skates (4 wheelers); avoiding humongous cracks on the sidewalk.  
  • Concentrating and frantically swinging my hips to keep the hoola hoop spinning.  
  • Picking and eating wild bitter cherries off the trees on a nearby wooded path.
  • Smelling ponds, admiring lily pads, and thinking that frogs swam like my dad.
  • Slicing up old Sears catalogues, spreading cutouts across my bed, sitting yoga-style near the pillows, creating pretend homes inhabited by perfect pretend people.
  • Staring at ugly motifs on the living room curtains and discovering monster faces.
  • Roaring down nearby hills on my wooden toboggan, scratching my face in powder snow clouds.
  • Charging anywhere on my bike, no hands on bars.

Kids live a lot in their heads. 

My parents bought me a cheap string instrument from...wait for it...the good old Sears catalogue. I managed to make it through to young adulthood by plucking on my guitar and singing the blues on our front porch. I didn't know how to play so I instinctively tuned it to a chord and slid up and down the frets to create a relatively decent accompaniment to my voice. I remember reading somewhere that Richie Havens did the same thing but he managed to earn a living doing it, I didn't.  

I was motivated to learn real chords following my move to a women's residence in Montreal. Sister Patenaude, one of the nuns who ran the place, played guitar "correctly" and was totally perplexed at my unusual approach. I quickly realised that if I aimed to entertain the masses with a singing nun at the Sisters of Service Residential Club, it would be a plus to learn to play properly. I picked up the basics. 

Singing the blues

We put on a play at the residence, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.  I was  fragile Laura and my performance surprised the audience because they had no idea I was capable of introversion. After years of relative invisibility in my home town, I ripped through my chrysalis with flair and bravado.  

Preoccupations of young adulthood? Getting an education and hunting for a mate. 

Criteria? Smart and tall, or tall and smart. The people in the small town I came from tended to be short. I towered over most as I paced the main drag with my friends on Friday nights. To my delight, Montreal had bigger people. It felt nice to feel delicate for a change. I had overheard surreptitious comments made to my parents over the years...was she an Olympic swimmer? Did she ever play football? Wide square shoulders were not the epitome of femininity but I looked great in a jacket. Never needed shoulder pads. I learnt that by shopping at Sears.

The rest is a blur really. Raised kids, make sure they were safe, healthy, and through it all, produced as much art as I possibly could. Each decade brought new preoccupations. A graph of highs and lows plotted many more realignments including periods of singular living, new jobs, another degree, and always more art making. Through it all I ordered stuff in my Sears catalogue.

A few weeks ago, I told my sister of a new preoccupation that I have. There is nary a day that goes by without my reflecting on mortality and my eventual demise. She promptly responding with the word "depressing", but it's not really. My brief musings invariably lead to a couple of positive affirmations: 


...and since it seems to be permanently woven into the tapestry of my life... 

"May Sears stay in business for a very long time!!!"


This appeared in the Financial Post on May 14th, a few days after I published this post....Twilight Zone!!!  


  1. I love to read your musings, Diane. We share the graph of highs and lows. (I've plotted mine in Excel.) Your art is so evocative. Glad you crossed ... and keep crossing my path!

    1. Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the read. Our paths will surely continue to cross.


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