Alexandra Writers Centre Society
ONLINE Writing The Seasons
Tuesdays10am-12pm June 8, 2021 (4 weeks)
Our life patterns journey around in cycles and spirals. The season’s rhythms summer, fall, winter, and spring provide inspiration for self-reflection, to celebrate personal insights, enhance our creativity, claim our unique wisdom and unlock our muse. This will enrich our lives, nourish and develop our courage as writers.
This is an interactive online class using the Zoom web platform.
Manage Your Workplace Emotions
You can't change conflict and opposing points of view in the workplace. You can, however, change the way you react. Become more emotionally aware, harness your emotions and express them positively with control, confidence and composure.
Friday 7th May 1.00pm -4.00pm

Conflict Resolution for the Workplace
Successful conflict resolvers are not born; they are trained. Build your skills as an effective conflict resolver and mediator. Learn to recognize conflict patterns and what triggers and escalates conflict in others, master strategies that reduce conflict escalation, assert yourself confidently and give constructive feedback. These skills will help you work more productively and harmoniously with clients, colleagues and superiors. See Course Outline.
Instructor: Wilma Rubens - see Instructor Profile

Fridays 4th 11th June 2021 9.00 - 4.00pm

Entangled Enchantments

Entangled Enchantments
My very first collection of poetry. These poems celebrate my journey on the uncharted waters of the feminine. For your very own copy purchase at Cafe Books, Canmore, or Pages in Kensington, Calgary or contact

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

White Christmas

We're excited to be home. Minus20 or so I haven't really been outside. The sky sparkling blue, mountains covered in snow and santa's reindeers prancing through the snow in the back yard what more could I ask for? Shona welcomed us at the airport. So great to see her after what seems like months and months. My brain is too fogged to work out the actual time. Oringinally she was supposed to be in Europe so I am extra extra happy she is home.

Did I ever think I would be so happy to see my washing machine and dryer, dishwasher, and my wonderful CLEAN home? The plants look great - thanks to Pat. Yes it is great to be back and appreciate so much of the stuff I generally take foregranted.

Now I have to pack for Revelstoke replace the swimsuits and bike shorts with skis and boots and a very warm jacket!! Then bring the Christmas baking - thankyou Shona, Helen and Lenore for providing the treats. Can't wait to see Lisa, Chris and Griffin. It will be a great day - rumor has it Chris is changing our traditional Christmas walk for a Christmas ski!! How wondrous is that?

Have a great great Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ho Ho Ho in Peking Airport

Here I am in the cavernous halls of this ultra modern Airport. We left the warmth of Kata Beach, Phuket yesterday after an early morning walk along the beach, accompanied by many joggers, local fishermen, soaring sea eagles and a mad Kite swimmer. I thought he was destined to be swept out to the distant horizon but was rescued by and elegant local long boat made of solid teak.

We spent a couple of nights on Rawa Island on a primitive resort, no hot showers and only electricity for the fan between 6 pm and 6 am. Out cabin sat on a headland overlooking the turqoise waters, and dense forested hillsides. During the day the beach scattered with day trippers who left mid afternoon. Two minutes across the island was Siam Beach even more deserted and more the reason I had made the effort to visit Thailand.

We did a couple of dives on the Island - the dive company was run by Finnish people and did not appear to be well organised. It was very windy which limited the sites that we could visit. We did one dive off a Long Boat. This entailed lugging all the dive gear down the beach and into a long boat. Then doing a strange contortion to get out of the water into the boat. Our dusky boatman headed out around the headland into choppy waters. There we had to somehow struggle to put on all our gear, 5 of us sat on the gunnels and fell backwards into the water at the divemasters command! I survived this test. Then it was DOWN DOWN DOWN. I couldn't see the bottom and I couldn't see the surface just blue water all around as I constantly blew on my nose to equalise the pressure. I thought we would never reach the bottom! But we did and then swam along the bottom for about 40 minutes amongst big boulders, angel fish, sea cucumbers, corals and many fish. Back on the surface I struggled to put my weight belt, BCD and myself back onto the heaving boat. The second dive we decided to do just from the beach was much more relaxing and enjoyable.

After a couple of days in Paradise it was back to Kata beach and the Sugar Palm resort, booked on the internet at discount prices. It was ultamodern, white tiles, white wall and white bed covers with yellow, purple and orange accent cushions. We spent our last day hooning around on a motorbike, snorkelling and kayaking. The After Beach resturant provided a superb lookout at the sunsetting into the ocean.

We had problems when we reached Bankok airport when Air Asia said they would not let us fly to Ho Chi Minh without a Vietnamese visa but we could easily get a rush visa on the internet. Well that would have worked it the internet terminals were working but after struggling for hours we had no visa. Meanwhile Clive managed to purchase new tickets from Bankok to Peking. So here we are - just in the riches to rags year we have been counting our pennies we did not want extra expenses. The consequences of not flying to Ho Chi Minh would have meant missing all our connections.

It is minus nine here outside - just to prepare us for Canada where it was apparently minus 42 in Banff one morning last week.

It is that time of year and I wish you all lots of yummy food and

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Phuket, Thailand

Freefalling in Thailand took us to Phuket town for a couple of nights and as in writing, walking around in the heat dragged me down to a shadow place I didnot what to visit. Guidebooks are good at disguising the truth of a place. Instead of lonely beaches with golden sands we have found unrestrained advertiseing and beaches covered with umbrellas and many northern euros lying like red lobsters and blubbery whales. After a couple of days of culture shock we found the relatively peaceful Serene Resort, our budget room tucked in at the back overlooking a canopy of tropical vegetation even has a squirrel. The Serene Resort has a resturant which it tries hard to invite people in. The first night the loud noise of the Elvis impersonator seemed to have the opposite effect, his booming mic a good deterrant to quiet dinning. Last night their was a crooning guy/lady, I wasn't quite sure, singing those age old beatles songs to a hardy few folk. He had to compete with the strident noise from the bar across the road - which seemed so loud I am sure you could here it in North America!

Yesterday we literally took the plunge and did a refresher diving course. After a 3 hour boat ride, reviewing some theory, I had to jump into the lumpy churning waters overlooked by a sheer limestone cliff. Then it was straight to the bottom, equalising all the way to review skills of mask clearing, taking the BCD out of my mouth and replacing it, buddy breathing. I found this quite nerve racking but I did each skill successfully then we were off to visit the sea bottom. It felt quite unfamiliar at first and at one point I started shooting up as I had forgotten how to use my breath for bouyancy. I had to remember to breath through my mouth, when I forgot I seemed to feel my lungs being crushed. There were many wondrous fish to distract me but I was relieved to be back on the boat for lunch although I was too nervous to eat. The afternoon dive was fun, I remembered how to use my breath to help me sink and was able to relax more as we watched a couple of sharks, angel fish, see anemomes, star fish and other exotice creatures of the deep. An incredible world.

We had thought we would go to the Simian Islands to dive but after yesterday decided that the long boat trip out there would not be much fun so are heading to a little island instead where the diving is more mangeable.

I managed to get sunburned on the way back on the boat so eventually headed to the masseuse who slathered my body with ice cold aloe vera. That seemed to do the trick, soothed my red hot back. I will miss my $10 massages next week when we are back in the depth of the Candian winter. In fact I would like to bring one of these skilled women back home with me!

It has been hot. The travel agent this AM told us it was even hot for Thai people! I have accepted the busy holiday resort. Last night as I walked around the crowded streets there was a traditional Thai group of 6 musicians all dressed up in santa outfits!

So we are into the last few days of our long trip. My brain will be happy not to deal with the weird money, vietnamese dhong, laos kip and thai bhat. I am hoping that the cold canadain weather will not come as too much of a shock most of all it will be clean air, family and friends I will relish.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mooonshadows in Changmai

I have been chasing for moonshadows around stupas, golden temples and night markets here in Changmai northern Thailand.
We had the most extraordinary day walking in the forest. Our female guide, spiky haired Nik began by choping me a perfect bamboo walking stick with her very sharp machete. We stopped frequently underneath tall trees ringing with birdsong to sample jungle fast food. She offered us a peice of liane to eat to cure whatever back ache we might have. The bitter taste was enought to distract us from the backache. Then some soft bamboo shoot, followed by juicy banana tree trunk, succulent red petals from a plant, sweet pure sugar cane, lemon grass, vietnamese basil, and even the bitter new leaves of a mango tree. After all these snacks we stopped at a wondrous waterfall to swim while she carefully handcrafted some chopsticks out of a nearby bamboo. We used these to eat our Pad Thai, noddles thai style,which was wrapped in environmentally banana leaves. Macdonalds take note! After lunch Nik meticulously made a cup out a peice of Bamboo.

After lunch we headed up the hill through a new rubber plantation to a small village complete with three solar panels and TV aerial. There was a pig with lots of little piglets only a few days old. The villager in an yellow teashirt and his hair cliped up announced he was going to eat at least one tonight, to celebrate the harvest of sticky rice! He said they were delicious!

We headed out of the village past a huge tree with a tall straight trunk whose spreading canopy seemed far into the sky. This was a bee tree. There were bamboo spikes hammered into the trunk to create and ladder for some extreme person to climb up and fetch the honey! That wouldn't be me!

After quite a long walk we came to the bat cave. This entailed scambling down some slick rocks into a dank cave which was actually specactular. The bats clung to litte domes in tne ceiling which were illuminated by our delightful guides flashlight. They looked like weird little mice.

Nik pointed out early on that there were not wild animals in the forest because they had all been eaten by the locals. She did catch a couple of circada and some red ants. Apparently the red termites are drunk with whiskey but only by men.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goodbye Laos, Hullo Thailand

Here I am a beautiful cool morning looking over the Mekong River to the golden roofs of the temple in Laos, waiting for a minibus to take me to Changmai. I am watching some crested bulbus, flitting around the broad leaves of a tree, beyond is a palm tree with the biggest coconuts I have ever seen. There is low hum from the computers, dogs barking, people chatting and the putt putt of the 40feet wooden canoes that ferry people across from one country to another. A faint musty smell surrounds this little computer cafe.

We have just spent two days coming up the river from Luang Prabang. Even although we were coming up river against the current, we chose the slow boat option. There were crazy looking speed boats that skimmed over the surface with all the 6 passengers wearing crash hats. With all the rocks that looked like the knobbly backs of languid crocodiles we decided not to tempt fate and the slow boat was fun enough. We past through jungles, cleared forest, road scars, fields, even saw some elephants bring their cargo to the river. On the side of the river people lived as they always have, dicated by the season, the floods and in cooperation with others.

Interestingly this AM as I walked along the road I watched a small group of boys waiting to go to school. A small boy came along and agressively attempted to kick them. Rather than retaliate the older boys quietly stepped away. It is the grace of Lao people that I will remember most. The children who lined the roads as we cycled past shouting Sabadee, hullo. And our waves rewarded with big smiles. Fathers and mothers attentive to their young children, babies straped to their mothers and fathers, and all mothers are working mothers.

On our boat with its assortment of western travellers all reading was a contrast to the local people. It was sad that I did not see more wildlife. I suspect that anything that moves here is eaten. I even ate some fried crickets one night but passed on the frogs and worms. The cricket were quite tasty but their little legs tickled my throat!

So on to the third and final part of our trip, freefalling in Thailand without a guide or a bicyle. It appears that Bankok airport is back to normal but the number of tourist is down. We hope to spend a few days in Changmai then fly south to soak up some rays, do some diving before heading back to the Canadian winter and christmas in Revelstoke with Chris, Shona, Lisa and Andrew and others.

Oh yes Chris and Lisa have opened their Bed and Breakfast in Revelstoke called the Cheeky Beaver. I am sure that it will be an awesome place to stay. The dictates of building inspectors will have made sure that the plumbing is well finished. I am sure I will not get my feet wet when I wash my hands - here the waste pipes are not connected to anything and just pour on to the floor!

Shona is in Europe again and racing a slalom in Spain but will be home for Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I did it. Finished the last two days of this monster tour. I now don't need to get on a bicycle for a while! It is a beautiful day here in Vientaine, the capital city of Laos, sun shining, warm breezes as I battle with the internet. That reminds me I will try and post this before I write tonnes and then lose it all. Watch this space!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hills, Thrills and no Spills

Well I did write a post the other day and it decided it did not want to be published and is now lost somewhere in cyber space. We are down to the last couple of days biking of this hard assed trip. I should have more sense than to go away with 9 guys and one other woman! Biking has been the focus of the trip and climbing more hills than I can possibly remember. I do remember sucking a lot of air and looking at a lot of tarmac while my knees ached and my muscles tightened.

We did have a rest day the other day at a wonderful world heritage town called Luang Prabang I think! It was full of wonderful old temples, and young monks in bright orange clothes. THere were cake shops, delicious fruit shakes and wonderful food - food is the second focus of the trip. All those hard cycling bodies consume a tonne of food. After our day off we had a 6200 feet climb. Actually I didn't do too badly until the last little bit. At the top were we stayed in a hole in the wall it was redeemed by a local party! These wonderful people know how to party and I tried to dance away my aches and pains. The young women were dressed in the wonderful outfits.

Yesterday we climbed another 4,500 feet and the highlight was a natural hot spring to refresh us for the last 20 km! And today was short - just a half day which my body was not very happy about. We did a kayak trip in the afternoon. We stopped at the side of the river while the guide cooked delicous kebabs. We ran a few rapids, floated and paddle. We came to this amazing party place were there was loud party music, hordes of white bikini clad tourists some jumping off there high platforms into the river, it felt totally bizarre. We stopped at one that was quiet and our youngest team member Jose from the philipines who lives in Tokyo did two jumps - i reckon the water was pretty chilly - far too cold for me to try plus my body is too exhausted to anything very much other than type right now.

Massages have been keeping me in one peice. They are quite bizarre clive and I had one together and the two young girls who pummelled us chatted quietly away to each other. My body did feel better for a while but then it was back on the saddle.....

Well let me see if this will now finish up on my blog. Watch this space for photos.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

North Vietnam

Well we are totally into our bike trip now. There were a couple of miracles in Sapa, the cold damp place, the hotel provided us with a heater which looked like a fan but had a white lamp in the middle that actually provided us with some heat. The day we cycled over the pass the cloud cleared and the landscape looked like a chinese painting, sun glinting off the paddy fields and the clouds. The pass was steep this was followed by a wondrous long downhill through idyllic concical peaks. We spend last night in an communist extravaganza and this morning we woke up to the sounds of the party broadcast to wake up all the good citizens and entice them to work for the party. At least that is what I imagined.

It was only this am we left the place - I am not sure of names anymore - I only know that wherever I go there I am! So here I am in a place that will not be here in a few years because the govt is building a damn and it will be 50 metres under water. It was a beautiful ride, in the few days of the trip we have climbed 4,800 feet, 4200 feet and today was a mere 3,200 feet and 110 kms. So my knees are taking on a new shape or is it my bum which I am sure will never be the same again!

It was a beautiful ride today with great stops for coffee, lunch and even afternoon tea. The locals hill women are spectacularly dressed and really know how to have babies and look after them. Although GUTTER IMMUNISATION takes on a whole new meaning. The kids all look healthy although not very clean. There is lots of healthy food again not to mention families of little piglets running around.

The biking has been great, the tarmac interupted in place with great dust bowls and the silence interupted with huge trucks baring down on us. While we are breathing so heavily the dust is certainly a challenge.

Tomorrow we head to the place of the decisive battle where the vietnamese chucked out the French in I think 1954 but I will definately know more about it tomorrow once I have cycled 106 kms to get there!! Oh my poor knees. Then we the following day we head to the border and over to LAOS.
There is a line up for the internet so I will go now and sleep. Well at least lay horizontal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sapa, North Vietnam

Well here we are finally in the mountains with clean air except the mountains are invisible and there is a thick cold fog everywhere. So much for the joys of vacations. This has been a real roller coaster of a trip. We left Hanoi last night on an overnight train which was not too bad once I figured out that my ear plugs cut down on the noise of the train trundling up the track. We arrived at 6.30 am (can you believe as I type this I can see my breath almost fog up the computer.) I am far too soft to be live in Vietnam without my home comforts. These people are amazing.

After hanging around while the others assembled their bikes I was trying not to think about the bikes which we rented here and how heavy they were in comparison to the high quality bikes emerging from various bike boxes. We are the only ones on the tour who have not brought our own bikes. My apprehensions soon played out as I worked extra hard to climb up here many thousands of feet in 40 km. I was last up here but who cares. Just towards the end a fine vietnamese couple stoped on their motor bike and very politely asked if they could be off assistance - meaning I could hold her hand and they would pull me along. Well, I was tempted but equally politely declined the offer.

The steady climb through bamboo forests and terraced rice fields was interupted by the great glee of childen laughing and running along side us. Then the closer to Sapa many of the people are dressed in the attractive costumes of their hill tribe. There is a vibrant street vendor culture. These are manly women and sell everything from traditional handicrafts, postcards, hats, mandarins, candy. We tourists are the targeted the minute we leave our hotel.

I spent my days in Hanoi visiting various museums. The most horrific was the Hoa Loa prison where John McCain was held, the americans called it the Hanoi Hilton. Build by the French at the end of the last century, it was graphic complete with a guillotine and other instruments of torture. It would be nice to think that we humans have had enough of torturing one another in such inhumane ways. And to think that we have been told down through the ages that hell is when we die!

The history museum was well laid out and gave an orderly account of Vietnams history. Housed in a beautiful French building that incorportated some eastern ideas.

I visited some old Pagoda's and was most struck by the one on a little island on the lake Ho Hoan Kiem. In the mid fifteenth century heaven gave Emperor Ly Thai a magical sword that he used to drive the Chinese out of vietnam, One day after the war while out boating he came across a giant tortoise swimming on the surface of the water. The creature grabbed the sword and dissappeared into the depth - the tortoise returned the sword to its divine owners. I wondered how this powerful story has helped these peaceful people move on from the wars of the 20th century. This pagoda felt like an oasis of calm in the turmoil of the streets of Hanoi.

The last morning in Hanoi we spent attending a cooking class. This entailed a trip around the market to buy the ingredients, much chopping, rolling, and deep frying. But just you all wait until we come home and make tasty titbits to tiggle your taste buds. I find it interesting that most shops and resturants in Hanoi and a sizable shrine to their ancestors and the bhudda, they offer up fruit and flowers every morning as the pray for the success of their various endeavours. I noticed too how nice it is as a women to walk around in this country. Interesting how bhuddhism has survived so strongly in this communist place.

Well before my fingers fall off I will take my sniffles and sneezes back to our unheated hotel and think of you all with your furnaces, wood stoves and cheery central heating. It is not all doom and gloom I just had my bicycle legs pummeled and feet massaged for $10 US althought is wasn't exactly the fanciest of spas my legs feel much better after slogging up that hill.
We stay here to morrow and then over the pass and it is supposed to get warmer - from the coldest place in Vietnam to the warmest.

The other day I spent ages trying to upload some photos only to find at the last minute they were all jumbled. I also found it hard to access my blog on some computers. Plus for some reason it is hard to edit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shona in Finland

I had a bizarre email from my daughter Shona who is currently in Finland to race a world cup Slalom today. It is minus 16, not much daylight and apart from the full moon being closer than home it doesn't sound like a place to linger.

Meanwhile Chris is on tour in Banff with his latest Movies Claim by Matchstick productions and an avalanche education movie A Fine Line. If you goggle his name you can generally see some of his daring acts.

Relaxation at the Sunrise Resort, Cat Ba Island

I am soaking up the final hours of cleanliness, fresh air and relaxation at this very beautiful resort. It feels very serene.

Yesterday we hired a motorbike and I sat on the back clutching Clive's belly. I had a system of fingering him when he went too fast down the hills. We drove out to the National Park on quiet roads. It all felt very idyllic. We walked into another world, forest on limestone, a sign informed us to the top of a little Karst mountain. We close the adventure trail and clambered over jagged limestone and slippery roots. We climbed up a rickety metal viewing tower and braved many flying insects that looked like huge wood wasps. The view was spectacular like dinasaur country. I was reminded how much I love wild places and how sad that in our lifetime they have been reduced to small pockets of national parks all over the globe. We saw one squirrel like creature, heard a few birds and spotted butterflies but there of course was no sign of the golden lemur of which there are 62 left in the world.

From there it was back to the resort to find that 91 year old Theo had walked into the town, survived the touts of many people offering him a ride on their motorbikes. His verdict was that it wasn't a very interesting town. So he spent the rest of the day lying on a beach chair and even going for a swim in the ocean. I have to say he has a truly healthy appetite and last night ate his banana split with serious intent and without looking up once!

We have been taking advantage of the $12 massages! My head was throughly massaged, pummelled and my hair pulled out of its roots. Then I had the novel experience of having this young woman, fortunately about half my size tramping with her feet on my back. She held onto a metal frame attached to the ceiling while perfoming this act. She sure was physically powerful and very skilled. My body is feeling good and I hoping it will come up with the needed effort to cycle 100 km per day when we start the next part of our trip.

So today we leave paradise back to the chaos of Hanoi. Theo leaves on Monday and we join our biking group.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hullo for Cat ba island, Vietnam

Finally I have figured out what the strange vietnamese script at the top of my blog means and how to get into my blog! We had have a fantastic few days chasing moonshadows in Halong bay and world hertiage site of spectacular natural beauty which the vietnamese have done a remarkable job of saving.

We had a couple of hectic days in Hanoi finished the Voyager Jules Verne part of our trip and had to work out this part. While the organised Jules Verne part was interesting I think it will be fair to say that neither Clive nor I are the kind of people who like to be that organised. We did see a lot of the heritage sites in Vietnam but definately spent far too much time in buses and being organised by guides that could only just speak english.

Hanoi itself while a beautiful city with lakes and french boulevards has a chaotic mess of traffic. We spent an afternoon walking around the old city and truly felt sick from the intensity of the fumes. Many locals wear masks and I know why. Crossing the road is definately an extreme sport, extra hazordous with 91 year old theo who is extremely resistant to accepting a helpful arm. So inspite of the cornocopia of shopping delights we were glad to hop on a Handspan Tour bus out of the city to Halong Bay. We did find a fantastic jazz bar in Hanoi but definately decided that big Asian cities are not our thing and thought how lucky we are to live in the pristine Rocky Mountains.

We arrived at the boat terminal to throngs of tourists, guides and very smelly exhaust from the bsuy harbour. Soon we were ensconched on a fast boat that took us to our junk our home for at least 18 hours. Sitting on top, observing the sparking sea and Karst shaped islands like a fabled atlantic the stress of travelling in SE Asia dropped away and for the first time on the trip I felt relaxed. We cruised off through the bay of islands of fantastial shapes munching on delicous fresh prawns, squid and fish. An added plus we did not have to worry about taking Granpa tottering down any steps or being run over by an army of motorbikes! I have to say for 91 he has a very healthy appetite and enjoys pudding and coffee every night.

The following day we truly enjoyed getting onto Kayaks while granpa stayed on the support boat. It was very peaceful and idyllic.

Now we are spending a few days in a fabulous Sunrise resort toping up on Vitamin D and rest before heading back to Hanoi on Saturday. Theo returns to Edinburgh on Monday and we start our biking trip.

I have learned much more about vietnam's horrific history in the last fifty years. How amazingly resisilent the populations is.

Oh well lunch time.
The sun is shining, the sea is warm and the birds sing as the multitude of butterflies dance around the flowers. What more could I want?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hoi An

It was good to escape from the crazy traffic of Saigon. The visit to the Chu Chi tunnels was educational to say the least. The ingenuity of the Vietnamese certainly won out against the might of the American's. I was glad I was there as tourist and not an American soldier - what a terrifying and alien experience it must have been for them wandering in a humid jungle into traps and guns, not to mention bugs and other poisonous creatures. This was followed by an equally disturbing visit to the War Remenants museum with grapic pictures taken by courageous journallists. It is hard for me to understand why the Americans were here in the first place. I wondered if the Iraquis and Afhganis came to take lessons on how to win a grurilla war and how long it will take us to learn that nobody wins wars. Horrific.

On a lighter note we took a trip to the fertile Mekong river delta and ate delicous pinapple, mango, grapefruit and lycees then floated on a sampan through the lush garens. They produce three crops of rice a year here.

Today we came norh to Hoi An a smaller town, a world hertitage site. We visited an original house with chinese and french influence. Every house seems to have an altar and although this is a communist country religion plays an important role in people's lives. We have visted a Bhuddist Temple, Chinese Pagoga's and strange religous sect called Cao Dai whose motto is God and Humanity, Love and Justice and claims most religous figures for inspiration, bhuddha, quanyin, jesus. This seems enlighted.
Well it's off to bed to look forward to another exciting day of touring with a group!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ho Chi Minh

Well it would be safe to say that we are definately not in Kansas anymore, not that we ever were. This is definately a huge third world city with it wild cornocupia of smells and sights. The traffic is awash with hoards of motorcycles that seem to be the transport of choice for a family of four, china vases, thousands of bottles of yellow liquid and a miscellny of other stuff. What surprises me is the equanimity of the drivers and passengers as they weave in and out of one another, seemingly with a sixth sense of what the others are up to. Not many people speak much English and there is little tourist information.
We took a little untouristy tour on the river - a brown seething mass of water with all kinds of stuff floating on the surface. Life goes on along the sides of the river - it hardly looked like exclusive real estate, dogs grovelled in the thick mud and there some intrepid fishermen up to their necks in the river shaking their nets for something edible.
In the market there were all kinds of dried fish and other unidentifiable objects. This land gives a new meaning to germs, immunity and resilence.
Tomorrow we visit the War museum which I am sure will be quite horrific.
Time to go and brave the traffic. \

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LA Airport

Well here I am in the Star Alliance Lounge in LA airport waiting in style for my flight to Seoul and onto Saigon. It has been a busy few days. Hard to think that I was in Edinburgh at the weekend visiting family. I found my 91 year old father in law healthy, entertaining family, driving his car and excited about his up and coming trip to Vietnam. What an inspiration!

It was great to meet my nephew Paul, his wife Leigh and their little busy 8 month old Zac. Then I was surprised to hear that my neice Jane is 16 weeks pregnant. So this was very exciting news on top of spending 5 days with my neice Amy and her 3 month old baby Daniel and her husband Ross in London. It is very touching to see my neices and nephew taking care of the next generation. Very life affirming.

The weather was wild in Scotland but calmed down on Sunday as I sat in a train travelling south following rainbows bright against the electic-grey clouds.

I remembered it was 30 years ago in 1978 that Clive and I decided to leave London and head to New Zealand. What a different life we might have had if we had stayed in London. I certainly did not feel any regrets about the decision that we made all those years ago.

Monday it was back to Canmore for a day - repack, clean, and even time for a yoga class. The weather was gorgeous, warm and sunny. Clive and I left at 4 am, Orion bright in the southern sky, his limbs stretched out about the Three Sisters. I was reminded how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and for the convoluted journey that brought me here.

Meanwhile I talked to Chris out in Revelstoke BC. He had just been to Kelona to pick up the wood for his hard wood floor. His long basement renovation is falling into place as they rush to finish before the snow flies and the ski season sets in. He sure has learned a lot this summer and used his seemingly unlimited determination and persistance. Everything he needed to learn he found it on the internet.

Shona is in Toronto for an Alpine Canada gala and will pick up our car that we left at the airport for her. We talked to her and was happy that her latest sponsor Panasonic had given all the team members a new camera. She will be in Canmore for a bit and then off to Finland for 5 days for a slalom race.

For anyone reading this in Calgary - the calgary launch of the story that brought me here is on Nov 21 at Pages. I am really sorry that I will miss it.

Well time to go and hit the fruit tray again before our long flight over the Pacific

over and out


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

World of grand nephew Daniel

Here I am in London reveling in the joy of my neice loving her baby-boy Daniel. It has been a few days of domesticity, cooking, washing dishes, going to the clinic,shopping the nuts and bolts of babyworld. He is cooing away quite happily in his cot and I barely remember my own kids being this well behaved! It is always fun to come to a big city like London and see people go about their daily life in such an orderly manner, planes fly on time, trains run, mums walk through the streets pushing their strollers, people cheerful as they do their routine jobs. It seems far from the drama of credit crunches, newspapers and politics. This is a diverse multicultural world. \all very fascinating.

I found a yoga class in a church hall and it felt good to stretch out some of my jet lag. I had been awake what felt like most of the night! Jet Lag.

In another few days I head up to Edinburgh to see 91 year old granpa at the opposite end of the spectrum

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An hour to departure time for London for 9 days then back to Canmore for the night and on to Vietnam. Whoopteedo! I am excited but then need to have a shower etc before I embark on my next adventure. The sun is glinting off the valley cloud, the three sister peak through the luminous cloud promising good things to come. Always rainbows and clearing after the storm. It rained all night although the weather forecast said No precipitation between friday evening and saturday evening.
Watch this space for further blogs on my adventures.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My latest poetry - first night on our Hebridean bike trip

images of my own face

a labyrinth of interconnected trails
a tapestry of coloured threads
trodden into the Scottish hills decades ago

hair swirls around my face
sun sparkles like a million diamonds
lures me over the sea
to Arran’s mountains clad in silvery cloud

fifty years ago the ferry tossed like driftwood
as wild waves washed over the side
and angry water rushed through portholes
my curly haired sister’s face twisted in panic
worried she’d be swept out to sea

I listen to the call of land
is this were the yearning comes from
it was here I touched the hard rock
with my childish hand and felt comfort

now freewheeling down switchbacks
I sing girlhood freedoms to the winds
“Hey Jude”
the road invites me south along the seashore
enticed by sweet fragrant hawthorn
fresh cut grass
a whiff of seaweed
vibrant song of thrush chaffinch skylark
come from oak and sycamore trees
I rush past hedgerows thick with red and violet fuchsia
dancing ladies we called them
bite suck the sweet nectar
perched on the hillside tumbling to Pladda and Alisa Craig
names long forgotten jump to mind
I see the holiday house we stayed in that summer before father died

on those golden beaches
Dorothy and I floated on makeshift rafts
swam in the cold ocean
played tag with purple jellyfish
decorated sand castles with white limpet shells
as father cooked potatoes in a drum of sea water
on the volcanic dykes of Kildonan
sand between my nine year old toes
I learned the earth dance

fast forward twenty years 1978
I hike down Glen Rosa
beside the sparkling peaty brown burn
red berries of the mountain rowan
accompanied by the sturdy members of the
rock hoppers climbing club from London
I worldly wise desire challenge
a few months later I climb in the Southern Alps
return dazed for my mothers funeral

spread over the darkening sky
angel clouds begin their evening blush
reluctantly I turn back
my mother always said
one should always leave the table with room for a little more

fifty years ago Dorothy and I walked these four miles
in a faded photo we stand arm in arm in our yellow sundresses
clutching wild flowers
eyes twinkling by the lichen encrusted wall
embraced by something that had no name
now rainbows dance over the mercurial waters
reflect the image of my own face

Monday, August 25, 2008

My relationship with animals

I have never been a true animal lover. My childhood goldfish jumped out of his bowl. Our guinea pig ate his way out of his cage. His bedraggled corpse discovered months later under the dripping hedge in our neighbours garden. The family wild cat Bilbo was given to a farm where it was rumoured he devoured seagulls. A year after my father died, I the level headed eleven year old calmly buried the dead hamster in the humid soil in our urban garden while my blond mother and curly haired sister were incapacitated with hysterics and grief.

Many, many years later I visited a friend in San Francisco and reluctantly announced, “I am thinking of going back to Australia to sell our house.” “I can get you a ticket on air miles. When do you want to go?” Rob enthusiastically replied reaching for his laptop. My mind spun, a free ticket. I was hesitant. I was not at all convinced I wanted to give up my lifeline to Australia and commit to Canada’s frozen prairie. To help me cope with the rigors of Canadian winters, I had been dabbling in New Age philosophy. The belief that everything is interconnected and the premise is that invisible forces or spirits that affect our lives pervades the visible world. Animals act as omens and message-bearers and each of us have animal spirit guides. I had long given up on the God of my childhood coming to my rescue. In my indecision I asked the universe for a sign. Early in the morning, the dew hung on the long grass, as the water tinkled in the pond I walked in my friends small waterfront garden suffused with the smell of eucalyptus, there on the grass was a perfect white egret feather, its long spidery tendrils waving in the breeze.
Back in Canada the February weekend before I flew reluctantly to Australia my husband Clive and I skied up to Skogan Pass in minus twenty weather. A golden eagle flew out of the tall pine tree. Eagle was my totem animal and according to Native Americans symbolized vision, the ability to see hidden spiritual truths, strength, connection to spirit, courage, intuition, and creativity.
Four year previously when I came to Canada in 1990 I constantly wore some thunderbird earrings. I was apprehensive around my stepping into teaching Conflict Resolution and Parenting, putting myself out there as an expert. The Scottish patriarchs had ensured I was a child who was seen and not heard. Their loud voice resonated in my head assuring me it was absolute audacity to think that I knew a better way of raising children, using strategies that treated them with dignity and respect and sought to understand their behaviours in terms of what they were feeling, thinking and deciding. Those dangling pewter thunderbirds brought me courage. There on the snows of Kananaskis, the eagle reassured me my trip to Australia to sell up was the best decision for me. Still the patriarch in my mind laughed outright that I should believe such nonsense that birds were messengers.

A few years later I facilitated a course called Mountain Madness to help women connect with the environment and their individual spirituality. Nine of us sat around in a circle meditating under the flanks of Mount Kidd in Kananaskis, a humming bird flew out of the forest as straight as an arrow and almost hit my back. Later that summer humming birds came to me twice. I looked up my animal medicine cards and read that humming birds meant joy. Their visitations felt like a miracle.

My life moved on busy with teenagers, work and city life. In the spring of 1999 I phoned my sister Ruth, in Scotland and was distraught to find out that she was sick. My family never wanted to disturb me my telling me the bad stuff. A week later, her sickness was diagnosed as kidney and lung cancer. The weekend before I left Canada to visit her I walked toward Vermillion Lakes, five minutes into the forest twenty feet above my head there was a screech owl. It chattered away to me for at least ten minutes. Then in Scotland driving to my sisters home I caught a glimpse of an owl flying away from a telegraph pole. A few weeks later my sister left us, her body buried under the gargoyle in the ancient churchyard. Owls represent the messenger between the worlds, wisdom, shape shifting, and reincarnation. The screech owl in particular gave me the wisdom to see beyond a mask worn and have the ability to share this insight with the person for whom the information had been gleaned. Owls are associated with the transformation of the soul’s journey and the recurring cycle of life. It is believed that the soul as an eternal spark of energy chooses to inhabit a body to learn life lessons, once these have been learned and absorbed, and then the soul transitions out of this physical plane as pure energy. Trust was the word that jumped off the page at me at this very difficult time in my life when I was confronted with terminal illness. That spring I discovered how painful it was to witness my beloved sister’s physical disintegration.

A couple of years later my niece Jane phoned, “My mother, Dorothy is in hospital, has had an blood clot in her leg and she has pancreatic cancer.” I was once again confronted with life and death. I sought support from my friend Lesley- Anne. We walked through the comforting trees in the Weaselhead, a Calgary wild area. She listened and helped me decide to return to Scotland as soon as possible. Under the wide blue Alberta sky we sat on a bench by the still waters of the river, much to my amazement I was surrounded by a flock of Chickadees. Although we were sitting side by side they twittered around me and kept their distance from Lesley. That night I read in my medicine card book that chickadees “appear to us when we need help telling the truth from fiction. If you witness a Chickadee when listening to advice, or sharing from your heart know the truth was spoken. Let Chickadee show the truth within your heart, so that you can trust your actions in life.” I felt comforted as once again I with a heavy heart boarded a plane to Scotland. A couple of months later my second sister was buried under the huge beech tree in the cemetery at bottom of her garden and I experienced profound loss and grief.
My relationship with animals has come a long way from my distant association with my childhood pets. Life has provided many challenges. Last year in my new home in Canmore with its majestic views of the mountains I was visited by a green iridescent humming bird. Many mornings I sat on my cedar deck waiting for this delicate creature that has the unbelievable ability to migrate thousands of miles. As I watched it suck nectar from my purple beebalm I felt irrepressible joy and gratitude for the magic of being alive.

The measure of my succes is my joy

Success is the highlighted word on my colourful well being card as I write with my write on sisters, Kim, Christie and Barb, in Barbs welcoming living room with sweeping views of the slate grey Lady Macdonald framed in the lime green birch leaves. The theme and passionate dialogue tonight has been journaling, journey and joy.

This afternoon I read quote by Satish Kumar in my journal with the intricate orange and gold Celtic design from the Book of Kells, “The journey is more interesting than the destination.” This idea of process not the end point being critical was reinforced for me years ago when I watched Tibetan monks create a detailed sand mandala. Focused on the present moment they poured red, yellow, green, and blue sands into a harmonious circular geometrical pattern. This procedure may take several mustard clad monks several days. Accompanied by resonant spiritual chanting their work of art is released into the ocean or a river. I was astonished that anyone would put in so much effort only to destroy the end product. This was an alien concept for me. I still have the stunted ashtrays I made in a pottery class 30 years ago. I have resisted words like surrender, letting go and detachment.

Twenty years ago my spiritual neighbour in Sydney Australia, after one our may metaphysical discussions, said to me, “It’s all about surrender Wilma.” My jaw tightened as I replied, “Oh that doesn’t work for me.”

Two decades later I feel lightness seep into my being as I let go of my expectations and judgements of my success or lack of it. It feels such a relief to have cast off the task of saving the world inherited from my religious parents, and to have resigned as mistress of universe. I have replaced these outmoded beliefs with the possibility of following my bliss as directed by the great American anthropologist Joseph Campbell.

Was it naïve of me to expect following my bliss to be easy? This week as I though of my young niece Amy in the intensity and chaos of labour I wept for her, I wept for the loss of her mother my sister, and I wept for my own long dead mother.

To honour the steps of my journey is to respect the authenticity of my human emotion, to be grounded in the present with tensions bubbling up in my abdomen, chest and shoulders. To walk my joyful path with integrity means I will experience my feelings just like the weather of all the four seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter. Success does not only come in the warm summer breezes, it is present as the autumn leaves float to the ground, as the geese honk south, as the river sculpts itself into chiselled ice blocks, and as the purple prairie crocus re-emerges in the spring.


The grey Rockies are capped in fluffy clouds. The mellow Bow River slides by silently. A red shirted runner runs around our bench. A lady in blue shorts throws sticks for her white Labrador who shakes river water all over my writing buddy and I. Flies buzz, flickers call from the pine trees, crow caws raucously as we chat about our recent experiences.

Barb has just returned from Sage Hill writer’s retreat in Saskatchewan. She loves the prairie, the people and the writing.

I have just completed a challenging bike ride from Jasper to Whitefish, Montana, and the only woman rider in a party of 8 cyclists. I feel exhilarated by literally pushing beyond my limits, long uphills, strong headwinds and rainstorms.

We are both enriched by our accomplishments. Our lives fully embodied, swelling with rich memories like the rosehips spilling over the river. Like the rosehips not yet red, we are still in process and have not yet reached our full potential as creative writers. As with the maturing rosehips, new seeds have been sewn within, and are being nurtured with the light of self-affirmation, the water of dedication, and hard work of chlorophyll that supplies the food for continued growth.

The challenges and obstacles in our lives have brought rich insights. The death of my two sisters who followed the rules and did what was expected, gave their power to the doctors as cancer ate their bodies. From this I learned it is my time to live, time to take on challenges, and take responsibility for my physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health. Integration comes in the acceptance of obstacles, and appreciating these as opportunities to stretch and expand.