20 June

Summer Solstice 2023: Wild Fire

In early May when the smoke was so heavy over Edmonton, the air quality at 10 or 10+ for days, I was weighted by the reality. I stayed inside, used the gym, kept my windows closed. Waited for respite. Rains came but so did high temperatures. And then when wildfires gradually spread across the country […]

19 March

Spring Equinox 2023: The Pull

I was out walking on Saturday on the way to the grocery store, lost in thought, when I came alongside a young man (who from the looks of it was homeless), stopped for a smoke. He was excited, watching something above him. “Look at this!” I heard it first, in the poplars. The magpies talking […]

20 December

Winter Solstice 2021: A Pot of Green Lentils

Posted in Books, Food, Nature, News

As I set out to write this midwinter reflection, I cook a pot of lentils. (This is our earth.) Cooking my way to clarity. Or as Montreal writing friend Kate Henderson said in her Christmas card to me the other day, “writing” these days “takes the form of thinking.” Thinking. Cooking. Reading. Listening. I’ve been […]

21 September

Autumn Equinox 2021: Living Tween

I have a friend who is living with a chronic and progressive illness. It is difficult to communicate at times, especially since the pandemic. The illness impairs speech and movement. The last time I phoned, I asked how he was doing. For a moment his words were surprisingly lucid: “It’s like I’m here, but I’m […]

19 June

Summer Solstice 2021: Waking Up

The 14th century German mystic Meister Eckhart said that spirituality is waking up. On the brink of this Summer Solstice and National Indigenous Peoples Day, the longest day, this day of light, I want to acknowledge the sorrow of the families of the 215 children whose graves were found in Kelowna in May, and the […]

19 June

Summer Solstice 2020: The Fullness

COVID-19. One word with so many contradictions: death, innovation, anger, selflessness, anxiety, adaptation, depression, creativity. The fullness of life! To date, at least 8,457,305 infections; 453,882 deaths. We hear the counts every night like reports from a war zone. We know it is not gone. The financial fall-out we haven’t begun to comprehend. The isolation […]

21 September

Fall Equinox 2016

Enjoy the trees blowing in the wind while reading a book on the couch, my favorite thing. Those were the parting words of the owner who last lived in my condo. I too enjoy the sound of the leaves in the wind. I notice them more in the fall, maybe because the leaves are crisper […]

8 March

If I were a writer in Cuba

Posted in Books, Reflections, Travel

I often pondered this question when I was in Cuba. While there, I was able to attend the 24th International Festival of the Book in Havana, one of the largest book festivals in Latin America, founded in 1982. For ten days, the city diverts buses from their regular commuter routes to transport thousands of Haberneros to the […]

21 December

The Winter Garden 2014

Recently I read the first volume in a series of books by the Norwegian author, Karl Ove Knausgaard, called My Struggle. It’s about the struggle of an ordinary man, and though we don’t often speak this way to one another, the book reads like the struggle of everyman/everywoman to come to terms with human suffering. About […]

28 July

Letter from Sage Hill

Posted in Books, Food, Reflections

Well, from the Sage Hill Writing Experience actually. As Philip Adams, the Executive Director, likes to joke, the name sounds like something cooked up by a bunch of hippies sitting around a circle smoking their favourite leaf. And may have been, but it is an experience. First there’s the people: the writers who come here […]

1 June

When the Rain Stops Falling

Posted in Books, Reflections

Last weekend I went to see When the Rain Stops Falling, a play by an Australian, Andrew Bovell. It was mounted by the U of A Studio Theatre, whose productions I have always found daring and top-notch. One of the opening scenes sent a shiver through me.  The year is 2039. It’s the middle of a storm, […]

7 May


Posted in Books, Reflections

I spent my lunch hour today listening to a podcast panel discussion on George Elliot’s masterpiece, Middlemarch, first published in 1871. The panel of Elliot scholars, all women, were interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio months back. I can identify with the young women in Middlemarch who hold a fierce idealism about marriage and family and […]

16 February

New York Valentine

Posted in Books, Reflections

A year ago at this time, I was in New York for seven days. By mid-week I was hunting in earnest for an I HEART NY sticker, suddenly understanding the meaning of all those I HEART stickers from around the world, derived, I realized, from this Mother of all HEART stickers. New York is a […]

2 January

The Layers

Posted in Books, Reflections

New Year’s Eve I was at a small party with friends in the neighbourhood. There was food and drink and fire: candles in the snow, candles in the windows, and a bonfire out the back porch. The bonfire was best of all. On small scraps of paper, we wrote down the things we wanted to […]

20 December

A Thousand and One Doors

A Thousand and One Doors

  Lately, I’ve been reading The Arabian Nights, or what has been traditionally called The Thousand and One Nights, translated by Husain Haddawy from a 14th century Syrian manuscript, the oldest there is. Haddawy grew up hearing the Nights around his grandmother’s hearth on long winter nights in Baghdad. The book could easily be called The Thousand and One Doors. Doors open: […]

10 November

Writing Food

Posted in Books

I’ve recently discovered Ruth Reichl,  who some will call a food writer; I think she’s first and foremost a storyteller. She’s the author and editor of  several books, former restaurant critic for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine and other lauds.  I’ve just finished Comfort Me with Apples and For You, Mom, Finally.  Her books are about food (there […]