Celebrating Liz

Hi Folks:

Mike’s sister Liz passed away 23 years ago today. Her greatest legacy is her children, who have grown up to be remarkable people in their own right. Liz was also a talented writer; unfortunately none of her stories are in digital format, which means that they’re tucked away safely in a box somewhere. To that end we thought we’d offer two of our stories instead, as well as a story about a story. All of them have to do with butterflies. Marcia’s first: Continue Reading →

Photo of the Month – Telling Stories

Hi Folks:

As a creative challenge our local photography group undertook the following:

“Make photos of a place where something has happened. Then, in one or two sentences, tell us what happened there (even if it only happened in your imagination).

Go to places and pay attention. What does it feel like there? How is the energy? What kind of thing may have happened in that place?

Take the photo, post it, and in the caption, write one or two sentences that tells the viewer what happened.”

The image below was one of ours. You can see the rest here.

Want Ad
WANTED: One Girl. Toddler-size. Must believe in fairies and love sparkles and dancing. Lackadaisical approach to footwear a bonus. Special consideration given to those with matching shoe. No experience required.

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!!


Who am I? / Who I am!

Who would you be without your story?

~Byron Katie

Hello Dear Ones!

Something has been on my mind and in my heart of late that I wanted, and needed, to get down in print.

The past several days I have been contemplating two issues:
1. Who am I without my stories?
2. Who I am without my stories. Continue Reading →

The Spirit of Canada

Hi Folks:

Last night Marcia and I were down at ‘The Well’ on Fort Street for the semi-finals of ‘The Spirit of Canada‘ – Poetry, Spoken Word and Singers/Songwriters’ Contest.  Our friend Sheila was reading poetry in the event and has moved on to the finals on August 6!!  All of the poems and songs were to incorporate Canadian culture, politics, landscape and/or humour, and there was some excellent talent there.  Listening to the various performers, however, got me thinking about what it means to be Canadian, and I was reminded of a story shared with Marcia and me some years ago.  I think it captures the essence of Canada in many ways.  I was going to write it out for this post, then remembered that I’d already done so a couple of years ago.  Here once again, then, is ‘Telling Tales‘.


P.S. If you’re in Victoria on August 6, be sure to come by The Well for the final presentations!

Photo of the Month… Memories

Hi Folks:

Every photograph has some significance to the person who made it; there’s a ‘story’ attached to every image. Those viewing the image may have their own associations or memories that lend significance to the image, but it’s often said that a great photograph can stand on its own, without explanation. Perhaps. As both a writer and a photographer I like to think the image and the story go hand in hand. Continue Reading →

Autumn Leaves

Hi Folks:

September now and next Tuesday the kids head back to school… The days are getting shorter and the leaves on the trees are changing colour too.

Anyway, there’s been some stir online in the past few days about Dr. Stephen Hawking‘s new book where he suggests that ‘God’ is not necessary to create the universe. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Hawking and he’s certainly entitled to his opinion, but it got me thinking about the following story. Now, I must point out that I first heard this story a long time ago, and every time I tell the story it gets changed a bit, but the storyline remains the same. I’m also not the original author of this story and don’t know who is, but whomever it is, I’d like to thank him or her for it! Continue Reading →

Telling Tales

Hi Folks:

As a writer and a storyteller, I love stories. Over the centuries stories and songs have fulfilled many roles, from entertainment, education and enlightenment to geography, history, genealogy… even becoming a central core of a People. For example, the People from the Trobriand Islands can sing back nearly 200 generations of their history. I was at a conference years ago and one of the speakers was an elder who spoke about ‘ownership’ of stories, and that it was necessary to have permission from the story’s owner before one could tell them. For my part, I respectfully disagree. Stories must be told, must be shared to be kept alive.

This story remains one of my favourites. It was told to us by a man who approached us after a talk given by Dr. David Suzuki. I trust he won’t mind my sharing it with you, although I must say that I’m writing this out from memory and any errors are mine alone. For the sake of privacy I’ll call the gentleman who shared this story with us just W.

This story happened in northern Ontario, in a town named Cochrane. I’ve been to Cochrane a few times, even did a little work up there. One of its claims to fame is that it’s the southern terminus of the ‘Polar Bear Express‘, a train that runs north up to Moosonee and Moose Factory, near the shores of James Bay. It’s also the home of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat and Heritage Village.

Anyway, the story begins when W. was a boy growing up in the Cochrane area. Like many other boys he loved nature and spent half his time hanging out on the Reserve or wandering around the woods. When he grew up he went south to university and work, but at the time of this story he was back up in Cochrane acting as liaison on behalf of the local band. Cochrane has a half dozen hotels now, but there was a time there was only one, and he was staying there. One day he looked out the restaurant window and saw a large U-Haul truck, packed to the gills, stuff tied on the roof… ‘Just someone passing through’, he thought. The next morning the truck was still there. At dinner it was still there, and the following morning it was still there. He also came to associate this truck with a woman who was sitting alone in the restaurant. Finally the restaurant manager came over to him and said, “You speak city, go and talk to her.” So he did.

Turned out she was from New York state originally. Her husband had passed away suddenly and she found herself alone. She had a friend who lived out on an island off BC’s coast, and her friend suggested that since there was nothing keeping her in New York, she should pack up and move to BC to be with her friend. Well, she made it as far as Cochrane, but now she was stuck.

Before I go any further with this story I should explain that Cochrane is situated along Hwy 11 in northern Ontario, and the highway on both sides is rimmed by endless miles of black spruce forest. It’s an amazing ecosystem, but to the uninitiated it looks like one mile is the same as the next and the next and… And well, she got to Cochrane and she froze. She couldn’t go forward, and she couldn’t go back. “What would happen if I broke down on the highway?” she asked. “This is northern Ontario” was the reply. “If you break down the first vehicle to come by is going to stop and ask you what you need – food, a place to sleep, a tow truck, blankets, some gas… whatever.” “What if I got attacked?” she asked. “This Is Northern Ontario!” came the warm reply again. “People look out for each other up here.” “And all these people keep coming up and talking to me!” she said next. “This is northern Ontario… ” “Look”, he said. “You see the trees out behind the hotel?” “Yes.” “Okay, this is what I want you to do.” I want you to walk back there, not too far – stay within sight of the hotel – but walk back into the forest a bit, find a place where you feel comfortable, then sit. After you’ve sat there for a while and you’re feeling relaxed, I want you to pick out a tree that you like and I want you to give it a hug. And don’t let go until it hugs you back.”

Well, after giving it a moment’s consideration she got up and left, taking a walk toward the trees behind the hotel. She was gone an hour, two hours, three hours… and W. figured either she was doing okay or she was lost, but either way it would work out alright.

The next morning when he got up there was a hotel envelope slipped under the door of his hotel room. He opened it up and all the note said was, “It hugged me back.” And she was gone.


Thanks to W. for sharing this story with us! If you drop by here sometime, you can check out the ‘Our Stories‘ section and from time to time I’ll post some of my own experiences.