Saturday, 21 October 2017


Out of our class of 23 who graduated from UBC School of Nursing, Vancouver, B.C., Canada in 1967 there were 17 of us who gathered at Harrison Lakes Hot Spring for a 50th reunion. 

After 50 years I wish to state we are all wearing very well!  Group photo is on Facebook  here:

If that doesn't work go on [not .uk] and search   'UBC nursing 67'

Our group would make a very interesting study: all were born in 1943 or 1944 and finished high school in or around 1962 at the age of 18 years.  Most of us grew up in British Columbia and therefore we were part of basically an immigrant culture, i.e. everyone came from somewhere else.
This had implications for education, particularly of women. Parents, schools strongly encouraged 'education'.  The word 'drop out', common in my youth but not known in the UK, meant that the default position for education was IN, i.e. you stayed and finished Grade 12.  And, indeed, looking back, if anyone at school 'dropped out' it was something really serious like the girl got pregnant.

And that brings me to another observation.  It was so interesting to hear everyone's stories about their life, i.e. being a teenager in the late 50s and early 60s with all the social sanctions of Victorian or Edwardian society that operated at that time especially for girls!  For example, as one person pointed out one got married in order to have sexual relations with one's boyfriend.  Quite true.

Then in the early 60s when we were turning 20 oral contraception was available.  'The pill' changed everything for women.  We were the generation that were on the cusp of the end of the old social mores and the beginning of the new liberating ones.

So 3 days of chat with a great group of women who, 50 years ago, spent a lot of time together in a very tough course was very uplifting.  It validated some of my experiences e.g. I thought some of the lecturers were very unfair in handling some of their situations... I wasn't the only one as it turns out!

Also pooling memories of events proved illuminating: things I do not recall were vivid for others perhaps because they were more directly affected ... and vice-versa.

For example: Thursdays had an extended lunch hour. We joined with the engineers (as we were in the same faculty, i.e. Faculty of Applied Science) for their annual football game.  The idea was to grab the ball, stuff it up your jumper and run with it.  This photo is of Alice in the foreground.

Other memories: I recall having to hold a patient while Electroconvulsive Therapy was being applied; one of the lecturers was married and carried on lecturing while expecting her first baby - unheard of both counts!... I remember living in the Nurses Residence at St Paul's and not getting a message that a VOC fellow came and called for me on his scooter.  I was furious about this and not long afterward I moved out to live with Alice and Jean on 4th Avenue. And the rest is history!

The view of Vancouver Harbour from the house where we 3 girls lived on 4th Avenue (Point Grey near the university).
 UBC Blazer badge

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Mary and Pat took me out to Peterson's orchard where we spent an hour buying some apples and reminiscing about the days when we had a similar orchard.

These photos say it all: our back yard had the same stack of Mac apples piled up in exactly the same apple boxes.

In the shed some of the the box end brand labels were arranged on the wall.

And, of course, the ladders.  My father was very tidy in the yard: "a place for everything and everything in its place".  Large ladders stacked together; medium ladders next them; short step ladders last in the line. I recall that picking bags were hung up high from hooks. Buckets?  Used but were for the cherries.

 * * * * * * *

Mary's new residence is in Andover Seniors Residence on Lakeshore Road.  Having booked myself into an AirBnB next to the hospital I simply went down to the CPR railway crossing and walked the lakeshore trail along to her place.  

As well as finding the excellent AirBnB I discovered that there is now a bus service which does several circular routes in and around town.

* * * * * * *

Mary and her friend Mary M's thrown pots!

Andover Seniors Residence - very nice!  It's large and spacious and very new.  Mary has a small garden area adjacent to the kitchen in her little apartment.

Sunday, 15 October 2017


We love Orkney! We were there in September enjoying their week long Science Festival based in Kirkwall organized by Howie Firth.  Iain gave a talk on 'Bridges'.  Lots of (other!) interesting speakers and mostly retired people who made up the audience.

The final event was topped off by this chap, Peter Higgs (of Higgs-Bosun particles), who was interviewed on the stage by Dennis Canavan, one of his old physics students*. A legend in his own lifetime.  Photo: CERN.

We stay in a cottage on a farm (Tenston Farm) on Mainland Orkney, near the Stones of Stenness.  Extensive new archaeological work going on there this summer.

These photos show the landscape... fertile soil, healthy animals, not many trees. Fields of barley were being cropped that week.

Eynhallow Sound on the east side of Mainland Orkney.  In the past we sailed through this narrow stretch of water between two islands.  Or rather we didn't sail but 'stood still' while caught in the 5 knot tide going against us. The engine showed us going nowhere fast at 5 knots!  Finally after about 40 minutes the tide turned and we were able to make out way forward!
On the west side of Mainland Orkney at Yesnaby it is possible to study the geology. When quarried the rock slabs can be: laid on the horizontal for roads and pavements, paths, stone walls, burial chambers; sloped as roof tiles; lastly, upright as 'fences', gate 'posts' and, of course, stone circles or monoliths.

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* Prof. Higgs shared the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics after the discovery of the particle he predicted mathematically. Dennis Canavan [Scottish politcal figure], graduated in mathematical physics from Edinburgh University in 1967.

Friday, 13 October 2017


Lots of leaves these days...
A good way to keep Harriet and Ellie amused is to get out the broom, deck brush from the boat and the buckets.  They both love to be busy, busy, busy.

Iain built a woodshed which is just the business.  He chopped the various bits of wood we get from people felling trees.  He seasons it first; now it is stacked for the winter.  Happiness for me is a neatly stacked woodpile!

One pathetic sunflower! My Canada Goose wind-sock looks equally bedraggled.

An example of Scottish sunflowers.  The French must laugh their heads off at this... they who enjoy fields of waving yellow heads!

Table flowers from the James Watt Annual Dinner which are managing to stay upright on our front door entry area.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


Catch up time! 

We enjoy having visitors and no more so when former students of Iain's turn up.  What started out to be a Sunday dinner this week with one gentleman from Syria joining us ended up being a table full of folk from all the airts and pairts. 

We enjoyed seeing Nabil again and hearing about his life in Aleppo. He now has a grown up family. It was good to talk about his time in Glasgow 30 years ago.

John and Debbie from Calgary are visiting Scotland just now so it was good to have them join everyone for dinner.  John has taken many photos of us or our family over the years. (More of this in future posts.)  Here is one he took on Sunday.   I have just been pulled out of the kitchen so am appearing a bit florid!

John took this photo of Mairi and the gang.  Over the years John and Debbie have often hosted us, or Mairi, when we pass through Calgary. (Ellie, 2; Ishie, 10; Me, Harriet, 4; Mairi; Alastair, 8.

Rogue's Gallery Update: 
Ishbel and Alastair come to us early every Tuesday before school.  We are now into a routine: Ishbel cooks bacon, Alastair times the boiled eggs ... Yes, Typical Boy... here is he timing the eggs!

This is Ishbel's last year in primary school.  She starts secondary school next year. As Alastair goes into his last year at the primary school Harriet will start.

 Ellie, otherwise known as Miss Personality Plus.

Harriet.  John took this photo ... if you can catch her when she is not looking at the camera she is a great subject.  A natural beauty!

This is Indy (6) about a week ago on a California beach.   He has started school and Alastair (to whom we speak on Skype every week) says he has a very good teacher; he is coming on well!  They now live in Los Angeles.

Thursday, 31 August 2017


The new Queensfery Bridge opened today. It joins the south side of the Firth of Forth (Edinburgh side) to the  north side providing a trunck route to the north-east of Scotland.

BBC photo

BBC photo

Iain showed me this article which is about an Edinburgh man who came up with a design 200 years ago.  The bridge is uncannily similar however it was never built.
Times Article August 30, 2017

It has been described as a “feat of modern engineering” but the Queesferry Crossing was first imagined by a little-known engineer whose 19th century plans have been found ion a vault at Edinburgh University (Gurpreet Narwn writes).
The designs drawn up by James Anderson in 1818 look remarkably similar to the crossing, which opens to the public today after almost ten years of planning and six years of construction.
Mr Anderson, the son of a textile worker in Edinburgh, envisaged “A Gridge of Chains proposed to be thrown over the Frith [sic] of Forth.”

The blueprints were discovered in the university’s archive by Bruce Bittings, a researcher.

The plans for a roadway linking North and South Queensferry were proposed 72 years before the completion of Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker’s Forth Bridge, which still carries the railways across the famous waterway.

Anderson’s design and the new Queensferry Crossing are both suspension road bridges, with their supports extending as straight lines from the towers.  Anderson’s scheme has the roadway supported by chain cables, forged from iron bars.

He drew inspiration from Thomas Telford’s bridge across the Menai Strait in north Wales and proudly suggested his timber-decked crossing would “facilitate the communication between the southern and northern divisions of Scotland.”

The project would have cost between £200,00 at the time, which equates to about £840 million today - substantially cheaper than the £1.4 billion Queensferry Crossing.

Whilst his ambitious plans were beyond the capabilities of early 19th century bridge engineers, he has been credited for his visionary design.

A civil engineering biographical dictionary said he “deserves credit for visualising what the suspension=bridge principle would eventually achieve, and for incorporating in his designs some provision against oscillation of the deck.”

Anderson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1836 and died at his home in the city in 1861.

Monday, 28 August 2017


I have just finished reading a remarkable book. Details below * and **
The title comes from a Japanese saying which relates to persistence.

It is a translation of a story written by a Japanese lad, Naoki Higashida. This is him. Photo from the Guardian article here: 

 Photograph: Jun Murozono

As the reviewer Charlotte Moore states: "Naoki Higashida is a 24-year-old man with severe, largely non-verbal autism. Though he cannot hold a conversation, he uses an alphabet grid to build up sentences, which are taken down by a transcriber. By this method he produced his first book, The Reason I Jump, when he was only 13. It quickly became an autism classic."
I have not read the first book (stated above) in which he describes his non-verbal autistic childhood. In this one he is speaking as a young adult; for me  it was an eye-opener. 
The translator, David Mitchell uses the term 'neuro-atypical' for people like Naoki and 'neurotypical', i.e. we might call 'normal' people.

The book contains a collection of Naoki's observations, inner thoughts and suggestions for helping to deal with people like himself.

"The word for 'autism' in Japanese is jiheisho and conveys an image of poeple locking themselves up inside themselves. This is misleading."  He describes life  without being able to get a word or words out.  Where he eventually began to start getting a few words to come out after many years, he describes the mental process to get there and the effort it involved.  He also gives lots of example of things that really throw him e.g. change of plan in, say, a journey.
He says that trying to change behaviour that is causing distress is like asking someone to stop vomiting.  
I realize now that I used to baby-sit for a family whose middle child was like this...but as far as I can remember the word 'autistic' was never in use.
* Details:

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism is a book written in 2015 by Japanese author Naoki Higashida when he was between the ages of 18 and 22. [Wikipedia] 
Author: Naoki Higashida
Page count: 240
Publisher: Random House

Preceded by: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
Published in English: 2017

** This book is published 2017 in UK by Sceptre