Building Community Online

I’m part of several online writing groups, and in one of them the moderator checks in daily with a neat picture and the question: how did your writing life go today? This particular moderator, let’s call her Kathy, posted these daily check-ins for quite a while until she had a relapse of a chronic illness and couldn’t do it anymore. An example of one of the check-in photos (by Ken Chandler). I had been responding…

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COVID Music

Yesterday a friend shared this beautiful piece of music. It’s a quintet for cello by Samuel Barber, entitled “Adagio for Strings.” In this version, it’s played by 278 cellists from 29 countries via Zoom. In the last movement, each player shares an image in memory of someone they’ve lost. This is timely given the installation art on the lawn facing the White House, where COVID survivors have set up over 20,000 empty chairs to represent…

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West of the Mountains

This week we celebrated our 18th anniversary and the birthday of our first flat-coated retriever, Jasper, who died in 2011. We also remembered the early passing of my sister-in-law, Theresa, back in 2006. These kinds of events are a time to think about everything that’s happened since then, and whether things are going as planned for the future. We got married at Hilda Glacier, a small glacier in the Canadian Rockies, just at the northern…

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Camping & Memories

This past weekend I set up our Trillium 4500 trailer in the back yard for a two-night camping adventure. Since we have 2.5 acres, the “back yard” is relatively big, and there is a nice private spot to set up the trailer without being seen from the house or by the neighbours. I had originally planned to go camping at our local campground, but wasn’t sure I wanted to share a campsite – especially a…

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Camping & Memories

This past weekend I set up our Trillium 4500 trailer in the back yard for a two-night camping adventure. Since we have 2.5 acres, the “back yard” is relatively big, and there is a nice private spot to set up the trailer without being seen from the house or by the neighbours. I had originally planned to go camping at our local campground, but wasn’t sure I wanted to share a campsite – especially a…

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Saying Goodbye – Again

This past week we unexpectedly had to say goodbye to one of our flat-coated retrievers. The American Kennel Club website notes that “Flat-Coats were first bred in the mid-1800s…(they) were once Britain’s most popular retriever, before being overtaken by Labs and Goldens, and (were) once called the “Gamekeeper’s Dog” because of their widespread use on the sprawling estates of the English gentry.” They are descended from Newfoundland dogs, setters, sheepdogs, and water spaniels. They’re considered…

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Rough Magic

Recently I read Lara Prior-Palmer’s Rough Magic, about the Mongolian horse derby she entered on a whim and ended up winning. It was interesting to see how she wrote a book where readers already knew the ending (that she won), but didn’t know how she got there. I’ve never been one of those horsey girls, who mooned over horses as a child and wanted horse lessons and played with My Little Pony. In fact, I’m…

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A Writer Must Write

If you asked me what I would describe myself as, I would say I’m a writer. But that label seems disingenuous these days, as I am hardly able to write. I write emails, I write notes about my garden, I write weekly blogs. But I have been struggling with writing for months now, and I’m definitely not feeling like a writer. There are a few culprits that are sucking the writing life out of me.…

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Desert Notebooks

Ben Ehrenreich’s Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time, reminds me of the Desert Fathers, early Christian monks who lived in Egypt’s Scetes desert around the 3rd century AD. Their spare life in the desert was considered ideal for attaining insights about life and connecting with God. Like the Desert Fathers, Ehrenreich is a desert dweller, having lived in the Mojave desert of Joshua Tree, Landers, and Las Vegas. His insights in…

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Thunderbolts and Lightning

On Sunday night we had a rare sight for southern Vancouver Island: a lightning show after a day with record-breaking high temperatures. It started out with just intermittent flashes, which I first thought were from the TV show I was watching, then realized they were coming from outside. An hour later the thunder arrived, sounding like massive rocks rolling in the bottom of a large river. In between I heard a screech owl, hoo-hoo-ing from…

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