Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Holidays.

30th High School Reunion at Greig Lake and Meadow Lake, SK

Victoria, BC
Hornby Island, BC

Sunday, June 19, 2011


First new e-mail address since I got the internet.

(please reach me now at

First salad of the year with lettuce from our garden.

(lettuce, two types of garden chives, strawberries, almonds, parmesan and havarti cheese)

First digital progressive eyeglasses ... I can see!

And first 20K run in the rain.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hat's off to summer.

We had a Hat Party \ BBQ on the deck on Saturday night, and everyone told a story about their hat. Great stories! Especially Anna Sewell's. She told this elaborate tale about being in the Dallas airport and running into one of her favourite musicians, Stewart Copeland (drummer for the Police). Long story short, his drumsticks were broken, she had a pair in her purse, and they swapped her sticks for his sun hat.

Here are photos of the hats and their humans.



Anna and Doug.

Coralee and Roland.

Greg and Rita.

Sarah, Greg, and Lindsay.




Shauna and Dennis.

Margaret and Sarah.

 Lindsay and Sarah.

I wore the French Foreign Legion hat my brother lent me.

Highlight of the night: About 20 minutes after telling her story, Anna revealed that the entire tale was a fabrication. She'd purchased her hat at the local Zellers for $20. No Police. No drumsticks. We were all fantastically fooled.

Kim Leedahl (and Bono) in Edmonton.

It's not every day one of the world's biggest -- if not THE biggest -- rock band plays in your neighbourhood, but we recently had U2 in Edmonton, playing at the Stadium a few blocks from home.

Kinda cool, but far cooler was the fact that it brought my beloved sister-in-law, Kim, to Edmonton with her fellow U2 super fan, Roxanne, and they stayed with us when they weren't camping out in the queue.

Kim and Roxanne saw U2 in Vancouver a few years back, and, as fortune would have it, ended up in a U2 video (in the crowd).

I've never been a passionate fan of a celeb of any stripe, but K and R's enthusiasm was infectious, and it was great fun to see how lit they were by all things U2.

Kim Leedahl (left) and Roxanne

Kim and Shelley (that would be me)

Roxanne in the queue.

So, was it worth it? The camping out ... the sleeplessness. Kim and Roxanne would undoubtedly scream "Yes!" They were in the front row, right between Bono and The Edge. So close, they got pictures like the one below.

Greg and I didn't go to the concert, but we heard it loud and clear from our house. We also walked over (U2 was playing "Mysterious Ways" when we arrived)and hung around outside the stadium for a bit with the drunks and drug addicts and scalpers, who were still trying to get $60 a ticket.

It would have been fun to be inside, but alas, U2 didn't even play my favourite, "New Years Day," which was on my Walkman, my MP3 player, and is now on my iPod. 'Tis a great tune to run to.   


Mostly we run. And we love it. But from time to time, it's refreshing to mix the routine up, as we did a few weekends back.

We cycled about 35K, exploring the extreme NE part of Edmonton's river valley.
(Then we blew all that exercise
on chocolate dipped ice cream cones from the DQ.) 

I was struck by how much it resembled
Saskatoon's north Meewasin Trail.

Cycling is akin to another sport I don't get to enjoy often enough: tennis. I get a different kind of "high" from these activities ... they're both a kind of holiday from long distance running. I've been known to say that any day that includes tennis feels like a holiday.

I do wish Edmonton was more bike friendly. If I ever live in another city (high probablity here), I want it to be welcoming to cyclists. Montreal set the bar high.   

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A short stay in Europe ... er ... Montreal.

So why was Montreal so fantastique?

Certainly it was the fact that my work was behind me and I could fully enjoy four days with my one and only daughter and her girlfriend. See where and how they live for the first time. I loved the funky apartment and the neighbourhood, and overall felt I'd transported lock, stock and barrel to Europe. 

It was the glorious weather ... the city's cycle-friendliness ... magnolias and hibiscus in bloom ... the Outrement\Plateau neighbourhoods.It was feeling SAFE. Walk out the door of Tay and Meg's and in about 200 steps you're at the shop that bakes the best bagels in Montreal -- 65 cents a bagel. (Still warm :) ).  
My daughter joined me in our first ever (as adults) run together. As I did (on New Year's Eve, 1995), she's quit smoking and has taken up running. We ran down to Old Montreal, toured a few galleries, and Taylor taught me rather a lot in a short time about Inuit art. The gallery owner seemed impressed (and encouraged Taylor to proceed directly with her pHd, not take a year off after completing her Masters ... funny how people offer advice to strangers, eh?).

We rented "Bixi" commuter bikes (first 30 minutes is free, then it's $5 for the rest of the day as long as you keep changing bikes every 30 minutes, which is easy to do, as there are countless Bixi bike stations around the city.)

We cycled to parks, to the Village, visited Taylor's friend Theresa Sokyrka, and stopped at second hand clothing stores.

Taylor at Concordia, in downtown Montreal.

Cycling past Habitat 67.
See the full view here:

Taylor and Theresa on a bright morning in the Village.

One of my favourite things to do in Montreal was to sit on the girls' sunny third-floor balcony, on Rue Clark, and watching the cyclists (and very little automobile traffic) pass by. 

The girls fed me like a queen (on quail, no less!). We hiked around Mont Royal and were greeted by tulips and a view. 

(Taylor and I did some scrambling off the beaten path, natch.)

My daughter and I happened onto the oddest secondhand shop - Eva B's - on St. Laurent, near Sherbrooke. Here's what was in the window:

That definitely catches the eyes of passersby! We had no idea if this was some sort of erotic museum, or a gallery, or what, but as we were looking at the unusual window display, a woman came out and said: "Have you ever been in here?" We said no, and she said that we must ... it was not to be missed.

In we walked, and we were immediately met by woman who asked if we'd like a coffee or tea (on the house). Inside Eva B's are racks of feather boas and masks and jewellry and, predominaatnly, good, second-hand clothing.

In the back room there is a huge -- what to call it .... a pit? -- where everything is just $1 per item. You take off your shoes, then dive in. It's several feet deep, and you never know what you might find. Taylor got a fantastic Italian suit.

Here I am finding bargains in the pit.

Taylor tries on a skirt.
We went home with a load of new-to-us clothes.It was so great, we went back the next day.

Taylor and Megan took me to hear their singer-songwriter friend Charlotte Cornfield perform -- great songwriting, and it was fun for this old boot to hang with that hip crowd for a few hours. Here's Charlotte's info:

A few more highlights:

eating at the famous Schwartz's Smoked Meats...

and getting together with my dear friend Angela Leuck, who lives in the Verdun neighbourhood, lives one of the most interesting lives of anyone I know, and serves up the best lunches ever.


How to Say Goodbye to Your Daughter at the Airport When You
Don't Know When You Will See Her Again

Busy yourself with the money or keys or passport you can't find and be sure she parks illegally.

Don't cry. (You can save that for once you're inside the building and alone ... and tomorrow .... and next month.)

Tell her you love her very much.

Don't think about the future; keep it here and now.

Download the final photos (camera to computer) and thank the angels for every second you've ever had together, and remember this: it is all a miracle.

"Walking is an ambulation of mind." (Gretel Ehrlich).

I can't fathom how people find time to do things like "Facebook." I have this one little online project--this occasional, unthematic, skitterish and scattered, come-what-may blog to attend to--and I'm hard pressed to get here even every few weeks.

May was busy. Good busy. Let me take you first to Chateauguay, Quebec, where I was invited by the Quebec Writers Federation to lead a weekend retreat at Manoir d'Youville, a stunning and pacific rural retreat centre. (On an island!). From Friday until Sunday at 3 PM, I had the pleasure of spending time with 10 writers from Quebec, Windsor, and Detroit.

"Meandering leads to perfection." - Lao Tzu

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than (s) seeks." - John Muir

"Our way is not soft grass. It's a mountain path with lots of rocks.
But it goes upward, forward, toward the sun." - Ruth Westheimer (!)

After dinner Friday, and some "Getting to Know You" conversation starters with the group, I gave a presentation on "Get[ting] the Poem Outside" (with a nod and a bow to poet Raymond Souster).

We got up close and personal with the flora and fauna, walked, wrote, read, and shared. My favourite event of the weekend was the nocturnal walk. We wandered through the shadowy woods with wildlife
--deer with fawns; a fox with a kit sharply "yipping"--warning us to keep our distance. Mist lifted off a swamp area and I was in a bayou. The bent and broken trees were sculpture-esque and eerie. Things slithered. And the frogs were in full throat: holy chorus. After, we sat in the grass by the water and told scary stories, like 13-year-olds.

The Workshop

The writers.

In Session.

Photo by Ann Stratford.

Laura Teasdale, playwright (doing extraordinary outdoor theatre).
As I said to her: "Why doesn't all of Canada know about the wonderful work you're doing? It should."
I got to watch the sun set over the water on the night American Christian radio host and evangelist Harold Camping professed that the Rapture and Judgment Day would take place (May 21, 2011). (He claimed--or still claims, I excpect--that the end of the world would\will take place five months later, on October 21, 2011.) I suppose if the world as we know it is about to end, sitting alone in the woods, being thankful, wondering at the marvel of it all, watching the sun sink into the horizon and having deer gallivant a few meters from me is not the worst way to go.

I admired blossoms in the orchard. I caught my breath (at least in snatches ... as at the Banff retreat in February, I found that when not conducting a session I was busy with one-on-ones ... it is time-consuming and energy-draining, but it really is the best way to get to know the participants and discuss their work, and they deserve that).

The participants were a talented, fun-loving, eclectic group. Another favourite moment was when writer Laura Teasdale, from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, played her banjolin and we all sang. (That song "I'll Fly Away" stayed with me for about a week.")

Thank you to the QWF, and director Lori Schubert, who drove me out to Chateauguay. Thank you to Angela Leuck, who suggested me and the location in the first place. Thank you to participant Bassel Atallah for the ride back to Montreal. And to Tiffany, Thecla, Marcia, Melanie, Milena, Julie, Anne, Laura and Rhonda (thanks for the book and CD!) -- merci. It was my pleasure, all the way around.