Questions and Chaos

Life in the 21st Century


Friday, May 20, 2016


homeless city
i stand
bare feet
on rocky ground




Your children are not your children

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Your children are not your children,
they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their soul,
for their soul belongs in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness,
for even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so he loves also the bow that is stable

–Kahil Gibran

Criticism Doesn’t Construct

Friday, May 13, 2016

Not Constructive


Anyone who wants to write, especially on the internet, is supposed to have a thick skin. Criticism, and dealing with it, is  something everyone accepts as a fact of life. Unfortunately,  I don’t have that thick skin. Not only I am afraid of criticism but I’m also afraid of being afraid of criticism.

Sometimes Google provides the most appropriate answers to the strangest question. One night I typed “Why does criticism destroy me?” into the machine. The very first result was Proverbs 13:18 from the Bible:

If you ignore criticism your will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.

Wow! What a way to powerfully inhibit creativity and social change. Here I found a new perspective.  I was raised on the Bible and,  for sure,  I don’t want to  to end up in poverty and disgrace.  But then, which criticism do you live by to prevent this disintegration into poverty and disgrace?    I was seven years old when  I was hit with a leather strap for talking in school.  Then in  high school, I was told I would never be successful in life because I was “too quiet”.  There’s no way to win this game. I know, I’ve  spent fifty years trying.

The second Google result in my experiment was a quote on the website  of psychologist  Dr. Bill Crawford.

Constructive Criticism = An Oxymoron
Criticism can be effective when there is something that must be destroyed or dissolved, but it is capable only of harm when there is something to be built. -Adapted from Carl Jung

I’m inclined to agree with Carl Jung.  Do you notice how you feel when someone says, “Can I offer you  feedback about that?”   You can feel the enthusiasm for your project sink  even though nothing critical has  yet been said.

My take home message from the wisdom of Google  is:

Constructive criticism isn’t real.

I won’t end up in poverty and disgrace.

Fear monster vanquished….. at least for the next few minutes.

Addendum – May 21, 2016

Here is a great video that talks about dealing with criticism:



Ecotourism for Jaguars

Friday, April 22, 2016

jaguar -2

photos by Petr Kratochvil from

photos by Petr Kratochvil from

I had the privilege of attending a talk sponsored by the Alberta Wilderness Association Biologist, Jim Butler was speaking about his trip through the Pantanal in Brazil and Bolivia.  The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and is teeming with wildlife. Among this wildlife is the largest population of jaguars on earth. 

The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world – following the lion and the tiger.  It is large enough to pluck a good sized crocodile out of the river for lunch which, apparently,  is  something it does quite often.

Jim Butler came back with amazing photographs of jaguars taken while on a boat tour riding the river through jaguar country. After watching this National Geographic video I’m not sure how safe I would feel on a boat, but I have to admit I’d like a few jaguar photos of my own.

Ecotourism is providing income for the people living in the Pantanal and helping to preserve jaguar populations. In some areas jaguars are now worth more money alive than dead as they provide income for thriving tourist lodges instead of being killed to protect cattle ranching.

This was the first time I had heard about safaris to the Pantanal. These trips are as exciting, or maybe more so, considering the abundance of species,  as any safari in Africa. Numerous organizations are working to create intimate wildlife observations for travellers.  Arcana Mundi Expeditions operate the Jaguar Flotel and guarantee that if you do not see a jaguar they will refund you $1,000.  Jaguars even walk in broad daylight on the riverbank within 5 meters of the flotels.  

It is my hope that these magnificent creatures continue to grow and thrive through future centuries. 




Always Be on the Lookout

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder

-E. B. White

Butterfly - Wonder


Celebrations of Spring

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spring Table

Cultures all over the world celebrate the coming of spring.  Spring is marked on the calendar by the spring equinox, or by the local season for the beginning of planting. In the Christian traditions across Europe and North America spring is celebrated as Easter. Muslims in many countries celebrate Nowruz.  Jews celebrate the festival of trees called  Tu b’shevat. Hindus celebrate Holi, the most colourful festival by far. Google images gives us a great feel for each festival.

Celebrating spring is a valuable event in a northern climate like ours, where we may have  six months or more of snow.  The Easter holiday that we celebrate in North America has evolved from various traditions across the centuries. It origins predate Christianity that has now claimed it as its own. The Persian  festival of Nowruz is an ancient spring festival that originated over 3,000 years ago,  before the existence of either  Muhammad or Jesus.  Traditionally the holiday is celebrated for two weeks with time off  from work and school.  Two weeks might be too long for modern North American sensibilities, but wouldn’t it be great to have a week of spring break for the whole country?  It could be holiday for people of every ethnic background and every religion that share our common climate.

Spring equinox is a little early for us to be celebrating in Canada. Parts of the country may still have snow banks.  It’s not a suitable time for picnics or planting. For Edmontonians “May long weekend” is the first real day of spring. It’s official name is Victoria Day but I don’t know anyone who still calls it that. May long weekend is when people plant their tomatoes hoping that all freezing temperatures are over. Parkas can safely be retired into storage and camping gear is dusted off.

Instead of a three day weekend I suggest  a whole week of spring break  to celebrate  warm weather.  After six months of snow and staying indoors we need this. What fun could be created by combining the traditions of all our varied cultures!  We could  have a week filled with family dinners, chocolates, Easter egg hunts, picnics in the park, gardening, tree planting and also water fights and coloured powder parties. A week of multicultural parties and outdoor activities to celebrate the end of winter. We’ve been a country long enough now –  it’s time to create new,  unique Canadian traditions.

You Grew out of the World

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The earth is peopled

You did not come into this world,
you came out of it.
You are not a 
stranger here.

As the ocean “waves” the universe “peoples”.
Every individual is an expression

of the whole realm of nature,
a unique action of the total universe.

–Alan Watts–

Here is a cute little video illustrating this idea.

Yarn Bombing

Friday, March 18, 2016

Yarn Bombing – Guerilla Knitting – Yes,  It’s  a thing. 

I am weary of violence and outrage. There’s a political campaign in the U.S. and my Facebook feed is filled with outrage all day long.  Just scrolling through without reading it’s clear that people are not in their happy place. Apparently some have even resorted to asking our prime minister to be their president Sorry, there’s enough mess to clean up in this country.

Graffiti is often an expression of outrage and anger. People see graffiti as something dirty and destructive.  Some knitters have decided to do a different take on graffiti. This is graffiti without harshness and without anger.  It  is soft and cuddly. Knitting or crocheting adds bright colour and softness to concrete side walks and roadways.   Instead of knitting baby blankets or mittens they have tossed knitting across the urban landscape.  These knitters are bringing their  grandmothers’ craft from the hearth into the outdoors of the concrete jungle.

Instead of just putting a blanket over their head when the world is too harsh,  knitters are putting the blanket on the world.  Our grandmothers knit to bring beauty and warmth to their families. Guerilla knitters are knitting to remind us that beauty and warmth are necessary for the whole world. They remind us that our cities need the characteristics of the stereotypical grandmother. They remind us that we all need gentleness, nurturing, and warmth, no matter who we are or where we are living.



Here Today

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Statistically, the probability of any one of us
being here is so small
that you’d think the mere fact of existing
would keep us all in a
contented dazzlement  of surprise.

                                                                   —Lewis Thomas



This Glorious Life

Friday, February 26, 2016

Do you not know
that you will die?

Would you waste your precious life
on meagre insults,
anger and hate?

This glorious life
that breathes

a thousand times an hour

Would you discard it
like garbage
dumped in the parking lot?




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