Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Another reader testimonial

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

I think it’s so cool that you and Pat see the big picture in life!

Steve Slavik, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Retreat engagement

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Good news — I’ve been invited to present at a spiritual retreat on the subject of “Living in the Moment” September 18-20, 2009 at beautiful Lake Nakamun. Makes me revisit the lessons learned aboard Cool Breezes! Here’s the brochure for any who may be interested.

Women’s Retreat Final Handout 2009-1

Writing Contracts Presentation

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

The Writers’ Guild of Alberta invited me to present a seminar to its membership on the subject of publishing agreements, based not only upon my personal experience as an author, but also as a lawyer representing other writing professionals. The seminar was held at the downtown branch of the Edmonton Public Library on April 22, 2009.

“Thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us! Contracts can be such a tricky topic to navigate — I’m so grateful you can help make sense of them for us!” — Kelly Everton, on behalf of the Board and Staff of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Cool Breezes receives reader endorsement

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Your book made taking an impossible trip look easy.

Within your excellent story about your family adventure, there is a “how to” manual that other people can use to create a similar dream vacation. You guys were exceptionally smart. Furthermore, the reveiwer who wrote about the lack of pirate invasion, well, she missed the boat! When I read how safe and connected you kept your family, how strategically you crossed the open water, you showed me, the reader/dreamer, that I could make my dream come true. I hope that clarifies the awe and admiration that I actually feel about your cruise and the book.

Deah Harrison, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

An invitation to the Carrot Cafe CNF Cabaret

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Esteemed creative non-fiction guru Myrna Kostash invited me to join 10 other creative non-fiction authors at this reading and musical event on December 7th. It was an honour to read from “Cuban Companeros”, the piece that was shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards, at this standing-room only event. The true stories presented by the other CNF writers were breathtaking.

Greetings from Cool Breezes sails into Riverbend Branch, EPL

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Three years after its publication, Greetings from Cool Breezes continues to inspire prairie-bound families to jump off the deep end. When the Riverbend Branch of Edmonton Public Library invited me to speak and present on November 18th, my son Liam and daughter Meara joined me. I’m delighted that the story of our family’s sailing sabbatical continues to engage a growing readership! Even more gratifying was the presence of at least one family in the audience who came out to hear us expressly because they too plan a sailing sabbatical this winter. Fair winds, fellow landlubbers!

Sign of Hope! 25 Years 25 Stories is launched

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

CSS_Cover_FINAL_FrontSign of Hope! 25 Years· 25 Stories was launched at Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, Alberta, on August 21, 2008. Hundreds of copies of the book have since been distributed. To receive your own complimentary copy of this book, please call the Sign of Hope Office at 780-432-1137 or write to Catholic Charities,8815 – 99 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T6E 3V3.

Vancouver bookstore The Travel Bug features Cool Breezes

Friday, August 1st, 2008

An alert reader let me know that the popular independent bookstore The Travel Bug, in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, featured Greetings from Cool Breezes as one of its top two volumes for its “Take the Kids!” theme. Yes, we certainly did take the kids (and the dog!) — that was the whole point of our trip. Thank you for the keen observation, Sari Sikstrom, and big thanks to The Travel Bug!

Jasper Is Away

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

When Jasper was diagnosed with cancer in late 2007, I encouraged the kids to devote more time to her. “You’ll miss her when she’s gone,” I said. I thought I was helping lay the emotional groundwork for our Labrador retriever’s imminent death, but truly I was preparing myself.

Jasper’s health deteriorated over the next seven months until in her last six weeks, her body resembled a bag of bones. When she turned up her nose at dry dog food, we gave her canned dog food, then canned cat food. When she refused that, too, we coaxed her into eating steak, eggs, smokies, muffins, potatoes, cheese, bits of salmon skin – whatever she would consume. In her last week she rejected food altogether, but allowed us to squirt water from a sport bottle into her mouth. Soon she was too weak to stand. She lay passively on her pillow bed in the kitchen, watching us move about, sometimes almost in a trance. She’d occasionally swish her tail in greeting, or turn up her belly for a tummy rub. We’d pull her bed from room to room so she could be with us, carry her outside on nice days to enjoy the fresh air, and turn her body from time to time for her comfort.

When in her last few days Jasper sometimes even refused water, we realized she would expire from dehydration, and we had to face the hard fact that euthanasia was the best choice for her, if not for us. We couldn’t bring her to the vet’s office for the procedure, because even in prime health, Jasper despised the place. To take her there for her last hour would be to betray her. At last we found a vet who agreed to come to our home.

Jasper’s last day, July 31st was sunny with scudding clouds and a brisk wind. We carried Jasper where she was happiest. She’d always been an outdoor dog, and in fact had rarely slept indoors, even in winter. Each of us took a special moment that day to bid Jasper farewell. I’ll neverforget Jasper’s reaction when she saw Erin, Meara and I crying as we petted her ever-glossy red coat. Her ears pricked and her eyes darted from face to face. She’d always been attuned to our emotions, had always stood by in quiet concern when any of us was upset. It was utterly touching that day to witness her altruism even as she herself was slipping away, and so ironic that she couldn’t know that it was for her that we wept.

While awaiting the appointed (and dreaded) hour of the vet’s arrival, Pat and Meara and I kept Jasper company, reminiscing about her many funny exploits. We laughed and cried as we scribbled down memories of her unruly puppyhood and her lively teens, the quirks and heroics she displayed in her live-aboard days of our sailing sabbatical, and her sheer joy to return home. We revelled to recall her river valley adventures, her unabashed bids for affection, her bliss in running freely. We remembered how she would challenge the sweep of a broom, bark at the crack of thunder, incite us to play hide and seek. I recounted the heart- wrenching day she got lost and was brought to the pound. Jasper’s 13½ years had been full.

As if she’d heard and understood all the memories, Jasper suddenly perked up. After weeks of lingering and languishing, she pulled herself to a sitting position and grinned widely, tongue hanging out, eyes bright. This renewed energy was ephemeral, and perhaps there is a medical explanation. However, I like to think it was Jasper’s way of showing us her best self, the way we’d like to remember her. It felt like a parting gift.

We chose to have Jasper’s remains cremated, so we could scatter her ashes in her favourite haunts: the nearby park, the river valley trails, and the river itself, where she’d loved to take a dip on summer runs. A good many ashes remain in Jasper’s chief domain, our backyard, a place that seems so vacant now, as achingly empty as the moment of arrival home, when Jasper is no longer the first to greet us.

Meara remarked a few days later that the blowing wind felt like a visit from Jasper. That’s a sentiment I accept when I recall my departed father and grandparents, but belief in human after life doesn’t answer for me the troubling question where Jasper is now. I cannot accept she’s vanished, I tell myself.

She’s only away.

Months later, I still feel bereft. We’ve given away leftover bags of doggy treats, and stowed away the leash and collar, the food and water bowls, the hairbrush and shampoo. I haven’t yet washed Jasper’s pillow bed, though. It still holds her scent.


Adventure Ink

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Adventure Ink – April 17, 2008

Local travel writers talk about their global adventures

The Edmonton Public Library organized this author speaker series, and invited me to present the story behind my award-winning title Greetings from Cool Breezes. Dozens of families came to learn how to make their dream journeys come true!

Adventure Ink