Monthly Archives: February 2015


Well, I’ve never seen the Ice Capades show but I figure that since half my life is lived in winter I can add “capades” to my experiences.


Well my night life just continues to evolve. Very exciting stuff – ha!

This week, in the wee hours of the morning, I woke up in the middle of a song from my current playlist only, there was no music playing in the room. It had been part of my dream and stayed with me as I opened my eyes.

I was a bit confused at first but I also quite enjoy the song so, it was a positive wake up in spite of the crazy hour.

Here’s the song. I woke up in the chorus right at the words, “Say it’s over. Say I’m dreaming …” and it just kept playing. WILD!!

Brandi Carlile – BEFORE IT BREAKS:

It’s not my favourite of her songs but still good.

It seems like unless I exhaust myself with skiing and dog walking these days, I have vivid dreams, wake up mid way through an intellectual debate or wake early and am not tired anymore even though I’ve only gotten three or four hours.

It’s bizarre yet strangely entertaining so I’ve decided not to worry about it. It must just be some phase of life.

Rookie Skiercapade

The other day I went skiing on a new trail. It feels so good to use every muscle in my body, work hard and feel strong. I’m getting better, slowly, on hills and turns without having to throw on the brakes so my confidence is growing.

The funny, rookie moment happened about half way through the 8 kilometres. I was zipping along and could see up ahead that some marsh cattails had been knocked into by another skier or maybe the groomer going by on his snowmobile. The pods had dropped pollen onto the track turning it a pale yellow but I didn’t think about it beyond noticing it.

I can now tell you that it acts like super glue. I was kick-skiing up until that point and getting faster and faster having fun and then WHAM-O! the skis came to a complete stop but my body kept going forward. I stretched wayyyyyy out over the tips of my skis and then ricocheted back. Somehow I didn’t fall over. It was very surprising and gave me a good laugh. And that’s how rookies learn. It’s not something I’ll make the mistake of doing again!


The wolves have been busy hunting this week and successfully too. When I skied on the weekend I came across a pile of deer hair. No blood but there’d obviously been one heck of a battle. Then, near the end of the day I walked True along the lake and when I looked down to see if anyone was using the ice fishing shack, I saw a deer carcass about 20 feet away from it. I figure it was the same animal who lost all the hair because its location was not far from the point on the ski trail I had been on earlier. All I could make out was the splotch of blood, rib cage and a pile of ravens cleaning up the scraps.

The next day I was walking Charlie way the other direction along the lake and a wolf was on the trail ahead of us and wasn’t budging even as I spoke loudly and told it to get going. I ended up turning and hauling poor Charlie through what was chest deep snow for him about 100 mtres up to the road.

Of course, he’d lost one boot in the snow. I went back with Piper later and was exhausted and soaked in sweat by the time I found it again in the powdery, deep snow. Of course, I missed it twice and only found it on my third sweep a whopping 5 feet from the road. Ug! As a reward for hanging out with me while I looked, I took Piper to another trail in the park for her walk

The next morning another deer was found killed directly across the street from the hotel restaurant. Apparently its body was still warm and the wolves could be seen down on the lake ice until mid afternoon hanging out, likely hoping they’d be able to return to their feast. Poor pack! They did all that hard work and lost their meal but it couldn’t be left so close to a business and people walking about.

Paradise Citycapade

It’s been cold this week. MInus 30 celsius and wind chills. I had to make a quick trip to town for a work errand and the car I used hadn’t been started since I don’t know when and no one had plugged it in. It groaned to life and took forever to warm up but the radio was queued up and the volume turned up.

“Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, oh-ohhhh won’t you please take me downnnnnnnnnnn” was pumping out of the speakers.

I tried desperately to find the tuner button to switch over to CBC but the sun was so bright (of course it was it was -30C!) that I couldn’t see a thing on the console. In the end, I surrendered and cranked the volume until the car panels were rattling.

That song is sure to follow me throughout my life and remind me of the time my big brother picked me up in his souped up Chevette that growled like a Camaro (so he said) and then proceeded to cruise along Pembina Highway in Winnipeg. First thing he made me do was roll down my window, he did the same on his side, headbanger hair blowing in the wind (my buzz cut holding firm) and then he cranked up Paradise City. I seem to recall teen girls on the sidewalk that he was trying to impress but by that point I’d slunk as low down as possible in the passenger seat so no one would see my The Cure-loving sorry ass in a souped up Chevette with a headbanger, as much as I loved him.


I made butternut squash, creamy coconut and curry soup. I botched it and had to freeze it then try to save it mid week because it was far too watery. I conferred with my soup maestro who told me to add some sweet potato or cook off the excess broth. I decided to do both and now it’s awesome and perfect for an icy cold week of Wintercapades.

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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in PonderQs


The gift of insomnia

2 a.m. and I was standing in the back yard staring straight up, the cold wind blowing right through my cotton pajamas. But I wasn’t really cold, at least, not at first. I felt alive.

I woke around 1:30 a.m. full of thoughts and when I realized I wasn’t going to fall asleep any time soon, I decided to stop fighting with myself and got up.

I headed downstairs to the kitchen for a cool drink and noticed that the night sky was alive. In times like this, I’m glad that I’m a grown up. I decided to do what I had wanted to as a chronically sleepless child but didn’t because I knew I wasn’t supposed to.

I yanked big boots on over bare feet and pulled my down jacket on, flipping the hood up before I quietly let myself outside. The dogs had stayed upstairs in their beds and I didn’t want to rouse them and wreck my moment of solitude.

The minus 30 Celsius wind buffeted my pant legs as soon as I walked beyond the back porch and into the frozen expanse of the yard. I shoved my hands deep into my pockets and felt the chill blast its way down the tops of my boots around my ankles; laces hanging loose.

An inky black sky sparkling with stars gifted me when I turned my eyes upward; the Milky Way creating a bridge from one horizon to the other.

Right away, I spotted the Little Dipper and pulled a hand from my pocket, drawing an arc across the sky with my index finger as if pouring water from it into the Big Dipper, searching the sky for the other ladle.

Suddenly lonely, I looked up at the neighbour’s house hoping for a light on signalling that she was up for baby’s night feeding, but no luck. The house was dark.

Then I looked for Orion, my nighttime companion.

Some 12 years ago, though it always feels like it happened just yesterday, I was informed that my friend Naomi and six others died in an avalanche just before the late night news aired. It turns out that I already knew she was gone, but that’s a different story and one that I have only shared with a few people.

I watched the newscast, the top story of the day about their deaths on the mountain. Unable to sit still with the details and the proof of her death, I walked for miles alone and long into the night. I struggled with the idea that it was as if her spirit, her energy, had been dispersed like an exploding star into the universe. Not gone but not whole. Not lost but no longer a tangible human being anymore either.

I searched for some sign of her but found Orion instead. For hours that night I kept my eye on Orion and felt slightly less alone with my grief.

From about November through April the constellation keeps me company when sleep eludes me. So standing in the yard, I looked for him again; a guy and his hounds protecting earth from above.

And standing there studying his familiar outline is when I realized why the sky was alive. The northern lights were waving. They weren’t distinct ribbons leaping and weaving like I’ve seen before. This time they were spread like a gauzey bedsheet being tossed out across the matress; gently floating and rolling into place and back out of place as pockets of wind knocked the sheer glow about.

I had to blink and look again to believe it wasn’t just some kind of cloud formation. It was the northern lights. I haven’t seen them in months and months. What a treat!

I breathed deeply and felt the first real bone-chilled shiver course through my body and knew my time outside was about up.

I hunkered more deeply into my coat and clenched my legs against the first stings of frost bite so I could watch the mystical lights shimmer for just a while longer.

I whispered to the universe, “Thank you for my life.”

This has become my mantra in recent years when the enormity of how precious and precarious life is weighs on my mind and reminds me to show gratitude.

Feeling small and insignificant but expansive and filled with purpose all at the same time, I finally gave in to the pain of slowly freezing and let myself back into the house.

The dogs were awake but still quiet and didn’t budge from their blankets. l crawled under the warm duvet and, finally settled in the centre of my being, allowed my body to settle down too.

Sleep found me; peaceful, empty of dreams and wholly restful.

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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in PonderQs


A mantra for the curious mind

With some frequency during the last year, I have been waking in the night mid thought. It always happens during those loneliest of hours too – 2 to 4 AM, though it’s never worry nagging me awake but curious ideas and questions.

It happened just three nights ago. One second I was in the restorative depths of unconscious slumber and the next I was fully alert thinking …

“What is a fact? What is news? Can anyone really claim to be unbiased? Are facts only facts because we determine what they are based on our biases?”

BOOM! wide awake and in a decent debate all by myself. I did see the humour in that. I remember grabbing my phone to check the time and it was something like 3:17 AM. I lay there considering the questions again, wishing there was someone to discuss it with.

I’d been reading about anchorman Brian Williams not long before I went to bed and about the whole fiasco surrounding his tall tale telling and spinning of yarns as the years of his career rolled by.

I had commented on @ansonmount’s Twitter thread about Brian Williams a couple of hours before lights out. I typed that I find a lot of news to be filled with biased story telling and opinionated anchors and that I wish I could simply be given facts and allowed to think for myself.

As soon as I’d hit send on the tweet I was frustrated and unhappy with my comment. Twitter is not the place to have a proper discussion. A tweet is so inept in its ability to capture and express all that subjects like that deserve. That irritation obviously stuck in my head and somehow got loud enough to rouse my sleeping brain.

What is a fact? Is there or are there any universal facts that everyone can agree on? And even if a journalist is completely pure in their intention to tell a story factually, without bias and they present different opinions on the topic through thorough research and quality interviews, HOW they choose to frame that story, in what order they choose to share the differing opinions, and the colour and intensity of the language they use to craft the sentences all ooze bias one way or another.

When I say, “Just give me facts and let me think for myself …” Well, welcome to the conundrum! Let two other journalists tell the same story and suddenly it might not sound like the same thing at all and you’re left wondering who’s telling the truth. Maybe they all are.  Perhaps none of them is.

Who owns the media outlet that each journalist works for? What are their political, economic, religious and philosophical leanings? What is their gender, age, social status and skin colour? How does that determine consciously or unconsciously who gets hired to report for their company and how they write or tell the news? And of the billions of stories that could be told in the news, how are they deciding what is worthy for my eyes and ears should I choose their product?

“Sufferin’ succotash!” It’s enough to make a person do nothing but watch Looney Tunes for the rest of their life.

I could be a better consumer of the news by being proactive in searching out articles and publications and podcasts etc. from sources that I normally wouldn’t listen to. That’s harder than it sounds. We all have certain ways of thinking and believing and enjoy digesting information that reinforces those beliefs. It is my assumption that is difficult for most of us to be disciplined and spend time considering opinions and facts that don’t jibe with our own. It’s tough to remain open-minded to that which automatically offends our senses or goes against our values and mores. Yet, wouldn’t that also be the best way to gain more balance and become more informed on any subject? Might it also be the way to increase our tolerance for and understanding of people, who we generally misunderstand, disagree with or even fear?

Gosh, I’d have loved to talk with someone about it that night. I pulled up Anson Mount’s Twitter handle to see what other responses there had been on the thread and noticed that he’d checked out for a holiday.

HA! Jerk! Post deep thoughts about society for people to ponder and then unplug. Grrr… but I loved that too because I live in the woods and I love to routinely unplug so I couldn’t even be mad at him. I often think the only truths are Nature’s. That’s probably why it’s the only place I don’t feel like I have to control anything because the most successful and content way through life in the wild is to learn how to adapt and accept what’s coming at you in the moment whether it’s joy-filled or not.

Anyhow, I got myself back to sleep about an hour later, but the issues of what are facts and bias and news kept running through my mind the last few days.

As I learned about the deaths of Bob Simon and David Carr, and read about the extraordinary lives they’d lived and contributions they made to journalism, I asked my mid night questions again and again and think about how to consume news less lazily so that I might be a more connected world citizen.

I want to read more about Simon. He has been a staple on the television throughout my life; one of those voices you recognize from another room just as sure as a duckling knows its mother’s quack from across the pond, but I never connected the dots between all of the conflicts and issues he’d covered to him.  I was too young to appreciate a huge portion of the body of his work, but just imagine all that he has seen. Imagine all of the world views he encountered through his dispatches abroad and at home, and the depths of depravity and height of humanity he witnessed as he criss-crossed the globe.

Carr. I am sad to say, I only learned about him a night or two before he died when he spoke to Anderson Cooper about Brian Williams. I was so intrigued that I began to research his work.

I think about Carr’s willingness to make space for forgiveness and second chances for the Brian Williams of the world because he was shown forgiveness and allowed to succeed after living a life – not just less than he could be, but who apparently lived it with negligent, selfishness and with disregard for others. But he made what appears to be a brilliant, above board comeback and never forgot that others showed him grace.

Both men would have been fantastic to talk to about these things. Maybe Brian Williams will see an opportunity in his fall from grace. I think he’d be a stellar ethics instructor for budding journalists. As Carr said to Anderson Cooper about Williams’ situation, nobody wants to be the boring guy in the room. That might have been Williams’ ego weakness.  He seems to be a true journalist a heart, but with a very human need to belong and be liked. The story telling that followed the reporting spun into the classic biggest-fish-I-ever-caught stories as the years passed by. Who of us hasn’t done that? The difference is that he is (rightfully, I think) held to a higher standard because he has been entrusted to share other peoples’ experiences, which were so often heroic and/or heart-wrenching.

I still find it hard to believe that Williams was intentionally deceitful.  Yet even if he was, it seems that Carr would still say, give the guy another chance if he comes back with a pure heart and dedication to the journalistic calling. I’ll work on that when Williams emerges from his self-imposed isolation.

As I learn more about aid worker Kayla Mueller, killed during her captivity by ISIS, and her seemingly limitless capacity for compassion and determination to seek justice for those who needed an advocate, I ask what I can do to increase my well of understanding about others who seem to be wholly unlike me, and I challenge myself to be more committed to speaking up in the face of injustice.

Being intentional about choosing multiple sources of news to read or listen to and educating my mind is a good start. Questioning what I read and hear, especially when it’s comfortable for me, is another step to making sure I am taking more than one side into consideration and not becoming complacent or blind to others’ truth. I don’t want to be one of those people who exist in arrogance, always assuming that I am right.

Maybe the universal fact is that all people will always have to agree to disagree on some things. And that’s okay so long as we make room for one another’s ideas to be heard and that we do so without causing one another harm.

Respect, Forgiveness, Compassion, Advocacy. Simon, Carr, Williams, Mueller.

A mantra for the curious mind.

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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in PonderQs


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