Friday, December 22, 2023


Although apropos, my word-of-the-day calendar seems out of sync with this particular Western-Canadian Winter: it was +4 C today. Climate change much? Yikes. 

And our December thus far? Mostly above zero temps without much snow. skiing. No sledding. No snowmobiling. No fun. 


So are we Canadians bummed without snow in the Winter? Kind of. However, there's always something to celebrate. For example, those bastards commonly known as Canadian geese are still gone for the Winter whatever the temperature. Thumbs way up. That perk, my friends, is brumal. 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Let's be honest...

a chai latte is lit: warm, fragrant, it's even more delicious with my toddler granddaughter (she had a lollipop and we "read" the newspaper together). 

Where's your favourite coffee-shop? What's your signature order? And who's your favourite coffee-shop pal? 

Monday, November 13, 2023


(ground) chicken soup
     Thanks to a good friend, my daughter, and my wifeand their kitchen fearlessnessI can now make a delicious chicken soup. It's pretty easy: I think the secret is the right combo of garlic and ginger. 
     So why was I intimidated? Probably because chicken soup has a legendary reputation: it's basically medicine, right? And we all need some medicine occasionally, especially at this time of the year. As winter here redraws the landscape white and shades the sky grey most days, we must find our medicines where we can, in the kitchen and otherwise. 
     Poet e.e. cummings described Winter as a "murderer" standing over a "snowstopped silent world." Yikes. There might not be enough chicken soup in the world for that mindset. As a Canadian in the North, I can appreciate, even respect Winter, but sometimes it messes with my mindset: ongoing darkness, roadway stress, vague dis-ease. 
     Yet my worrisome Winter mindset is just that: one perspective. It's reframe-able. It's the difference between distress and eustress. I find this language helpful. As you know, distress is longer-term stress with negative impacts, like a break-up, financial problems, or work-demands; but eustress is short-term and beneficial stress, like moving to a new community, or flying for the first time, or learning something newit helps motivate us, builds character, inspires growth.
     If only the words themselves made it that easy, eh? Although the distinction provides perspective, too much snow can be less of an opportunity to go sledding down a steep hill and more of just much too much snow. Sigh. 
     Dear friends, I encourage you to consider how you react to the snow, (inevitable struggle) and to make, or find your medicine where you can.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

More, please.

Every child matters. 
Each year I see more people in my community wearing orange shirts. Plus, Manitoba just elected Canada's first First Nation premier, Wab Kinew. I am so tired of people who ignore or make excuses for Canada's appalling history toward Indigenous peoples. 

Progress. More, please. 

Thursday, August 31, 2023


This past July, I fell in love with Galway—an ancient arts and festival city on Ireland's west coast. 

Our walking tour guide began Galway's history with a special nod to Pádraic Ó Conaire—born in Galway in 1882—a writer and ally of the Irish language and independence. His statue is situated in the main square; due to politics, it has been revered and ridiculed, moved several times, and once beheaded. Despite everything it has overcome since its establishment the statue has persevered. Like Ireland itself, Pádraic has endured a lot, yet remains robust and undefeated.  

Speaking of enduring individuals, while we traveled in Ireland, Sinead O'Connor died. Coincidentally, I was listening to her memoir in her own voice: this experience felt so bittersweet, like a surprise gift I didn't deserve, and a poignant reminder of how much art means to me personally but also stirs and sustains us all. 

I feel compelled to share something from her memoir, Rememberings. She explained that when her career ended after SNL, she felt free! The music industry suppressed that she was a protest singer so they could market her as a pop star. She aimed to use her unparalleled voice to spread light through songs, but also shed light on darkness—a darkness she experienced personally as did so many in Ireland but a darkness no one wanted to acknowledge at the time—abuse, racism, greed. Her words: “They broke my heart and they killed me, but I didn't die. They tried to bury me, they didn't realize I was a seed.” Indeed.

Monday, August 28, 2023


My spouse and I tend to travel all over the world then return with photos of trees. (I recommend this practice.) These beauts are in Ireland's Blarney Gardens (which are sublime). 

Ireland is charming and friendly and indefatigable. I recommend its trees, its cliffs, its trails, its music, its dancing, its textiles, its Guinness, its cider, its stew, its fish, its friendly folks..."very good very good it's wicked inn't?"

Friday, July 14, 2023


Recently, our daughter, our toddler granddaughter, and our newborn grandson stayed with us for two weeks. Pure fun. Also, pure energy. Breaks were essential and that meant walks,  parks, drawing, reading, singing, also an inflatable kiddie pool, plus TV and movies. 

With my daughter's approval, I introduced my two-year-old granddaughter to Pixar's 'Up.' Although I hadn't watched it for a decade, I remembered Carl and Russell, the "little mailman" sidekick, Dug the talking-dog, and that indelible image of hundreds of balloons tied to Carl's precarious house floating us all away into adventurea perfect representation of childhood imagination, and also a poignant metaphor for time and how we can't hold on(to) forever. 

I was rapt. With new eyes, I realized that this film introduced the "Squirrel!" distraction meme, still common in our language mores. I (re)recognized the pain of discovering your childhood heroes were not so heroic. I remembered Carl's transformation: growing stronger (less grief-stricken and, dare I say, younger) with each conflict—he tossed his walker and eventually spit out his dentures! Rewatching 'Up,' I also realized I'm now 65% Carl, ha! 

And my granddaughter? Likewise rapt. She (and her pillow) crawled in so close to me; she barely said a word except in one dramatic part where she turned to me with alarm in her eyes and yelled something like "go bird go!" But I didn't remember, nor was I prepared to relive Russell telling Carl about his broken family and a favourite memory of sitting along the street eating ice-cream with his DadHomesick for the past, he notes others might find his memory boring, yet Russell longs for those simple, shared moments with his Dad, "I like that curb." 

Indeed, Russell. I miss some curbs too. Don't we all? Some I'll never forget. But friends, we can like new curbs too. Maybe 'Up' will be one of those curbs for my granddaughter and her Popsthe story of an old guy and a kid and what they can learn from each other if, together, they are willing to keep looking up and seeking new adventures.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Live in the moment?

We all agree it's important to live in the moment, but some ask, how?  


We humans struggle with living life in the now. Why? Honestly, how could we not? Who has the luxury of living in the moment? People without responsibilities? People without goals? People whose needs are easily attained? Billionaires? There's always something making us busy now, often for good reasons such as, others. True living in the moment might be achievable for toddlers only. 

Maybe it's legitimately better to live for the future? Isn't this why we study? Isn't this why we raise children? Isn't this why we schedule holidays? Isn't this why we train for marathons? There's always something making us busy now, for then

I think living in the moment is the right intention, but perhaps the wrong idea: I can't surrender to consistently living in the moment, but I can surrenderand recommendliving in the moments. I read Alice Walker's book: notice the color purple. It's a cliché but it's true: stop and smell the roses, or linger after the kiss, or go ahead and swim in the lake, or take the day off to be with a toddler (personal favourite) aka live in the moments. And how? 

When I'm mindful, it goes like this:
1. I decide
2. to stop,
3. and revel.

And then I forget. And then I'm mindful again. And then I get busy again. And then I forget. Rinse and repeat. But when I remember steps 1, 2, moments...they lift me. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

Does anyone else recognize this tree?! Despite being nowhere near Hollywood, it is clearly the "gnarled tree" featured in the1982 horror film classic, Poltergeist, written by Steven Spielberg. I love trees but this tree? Yikes. I would not live in this house. Likewise problematic: these trees. 😨

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Friday, June 23, 2023

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Things one should never outgrow:



This is my family: me, our son, my spouse, my son-in-law, and my daughter, plus our TWO grandbabies! Our newest grandbaby arrived in May, a brother for M. (Also, their feral cat, August.) To quote the Lego Movie, "everything is awesome." 

Saturday, April 15, 2023


Odd, but among all the ASL I've taught myself since my granddaughter was born, I just learned the sign for "sorry." (I could legit lose my Canadian card for this oversight.) 

Always impressed by ASL's iconicity, this circle over my heart says so much more than the casual throwaway "sorry" we all tend to use. In one gesture, it encapsulates the essence of an apology much more eloquently than the hearing version. 

Whether a painting or a poem, a film or a farce, I'm always energized by analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating textall genres and mediums. It's a classic English teacher flex. I love to poke around in story: inciting incidents, character motivations, internal forces, flaws, and consequences. 

It's like dissecting a frog. One of my favourite essays highlights the serendipitous yet ultimately meaningful nature of the scientific process. Entomologist Samuel H. Scudder's professor advised him repeatedly to "look at your fish" (c) 1874. Scudder wondered, for what, exactly? Like Scudder, I am rarely certain what I'm looking for but I know when my nervous system reacts, there's something to be found. Whether a frog, a fish, or text, I must examine how tiny organs connect, otherwise how would I find the life within them? And that's the most important part in understanding anything: the looking. 

ASL inspires me to look at text anew: it's a window into language I stopped gazing at. ASL's "sorry" wisely connotes both the act and the outcome of a long-churning heart. In other words, without examining the churning that prompted it, "sorry" may be rote, or empty, or even unnecessary.  

Poet Mary Oliver famously said, "you do not have to be good, you do not have to walk on your knees, for a hundred miles through the desert repenting." 100% agree. I am tired of people claiming to be the arbiters of good. (I've made that mistake many times too.) At this stage in my life, I am more interested in being real than good. "Good" by whose definition? Black and white notions of good and evil may make things simple, but life has taught me that if I truly hope to understand myself and others, I should look for the spectrums where I once saw categories. 

In my ongoing quest to avoid the atrophy I call "becoming a grumpy, old man" (old yes, grumpy no) I aim to embrace evolution and that requires applying a little Socrates-inspired self-examination; to "know thyself" means I must do the hard work: dissect my churning heart. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Fave Reads 2022

Happy Hogmanay. I'll be honest: the last several years, my reading criteria has narrowed. Is it under 250 pages? Did someone I love recommend it? Life is too short to finish an underwhelming book. None of these underwhelmed me for one second. In no order (three are Canadian), I loved these books and these authors made me miss books, again. and I'm grateful for their lessons. 

It will gut you. Like
its comedian-actor-author,
this memoir is painfully
& proudly honest as well
as ferociously funny.
This is grief dialed up
and it will heal people.

In less than 250 pages,
Toews thoughtfully
presents us with a 
group of vulnerable
Mennonite women & one
 man as they dissect the
violence and ideology
that minimizes and
marginalizes them.
In other words, it's a
thoroughly modern
and on-going story.

Come for the truth &
the reconciliation; stay
for these characters' 
resilience, hope, and

These Canadian children
and those who love them
will break your heart.
This Canadian novel
should be the 
first read in a social
work degree. 

I saw the film first. 
Cinematography at its
finest. Written in 1967(!)
For readers who love
complex and broken
characters in pain,
and for those forced to live
with their bullies or endure
imagined bullies.  
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