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

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. \