Archive for April 2009


Blog #3 Where is publishing going?

Submitted a major creative writing document to a publisher today. My submission was in good order: well-edited and presumably well-written. One is never sure. Will see what publisher thinks about the submission in three or more months. For $400.00, the document will be printed with related book markers, cover included and simple photos or illustrations. When proof completed, reread by writer, and returned to publisher, 100 copies will be printed. Publisher only prints what is needed. Publisher takes different amounts at different times. Book signings managed by the publisher 100% for writer; reading at Chapters 60% for writer. Other publishers take more and charge shipping on top of that. Stockpiling and shipping is how the commercial interests such as and Chapters make their money. Many publishers are not taking MSS unless certain that the market will be lucrative. They survive on grants and need to make money. My publisher is independently owned. Looks as if selling books from one’s website is the best way NOT to waste money with overprinting, stockpiling, and shipping. I registered today. Could not get .com because an American writer John J. Dunphy has registered for .

Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon Tour

Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Grand Canyon Plus


Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal


Whale Cove, Nunavut


First Excursion to the North!

North, Arctic, Regions of Nunavut–Same Place?

In my ignorance I am going to the Arctic.  I am going to the Kivalliq region of Nunavut along the west coast of Hudson’s Bay which does have territory north of the Arctic Circle. In fact, Repulse Bay, the site of the third Management Communications course is on the Arctic Circle.

Packing has been a strange experience: more food packed than clothes and more paper than one should try to carry. What do you do? Print materials before you go and then you do not have to rely on machines that may or may not be in operation when you need them.

I took one big bag for food and clothes (wheels) and one carry-on bag with wheels holding the laptop carrier, the electronic projector for Power Point presentations, and my camera. Worked well from Ottawa to Rankin Inlet—not so well from Rankin to Whale Cove. Kivalliq Airline charged me $60.00 for excess weight. From Churchill to Rankin on way up north, I took laptop out, and the bag went through fine. At Rankin, they tried to say there was no place to put my laptop on the small plane. Nonsense, I think. [Flying to Repulse Bay, I simply carried my computer bag. Charge for my big, heavy bag was $30.00

Brian had a big red bag on wheels (bit like a hockey bag), a backpack, the electronic projector carrier, and his parka in hand.

Advice: I had more paper by the time I left Rankin than I should have taken. The paper tightened the packing and added the excess weight. In both Whale Cove and Repulse Bay photocopying would have been just fine. Anyone who has been a teacher, however, “ain’t gonna believe it!”

Food: needed the soups during the arctic storm in Rankin [should have stuck to soups not needing milk]; needed munchies (trail mix) not for me but as a pick-me-up for participants during the day. The Ritz-with-cheese packs were especially popular, but the trail mix went every day it lasted. I really appreciated my bottled water, but I am not sure it was worth the weight. Keep a set of plastic utensils from Tim Horton’s. I really needed them time and again. Brian had them; I did not.

The wrap-up party, I had mentioned to the group the first day. However, I made a mistake by not seeking a volunteer to look after the shopping. So the first two who were finished the final exam went shopping with my $100.00 bill. Little money came back in change. Purchases were enlightened and nutritious. The biggest hand of bananas I had ever seen, one bag of McIntosh apples, two Sara Lee frozen desserts, two packages of cheese, and a case of drinks. What amused me was that I saved my favourite crackers—stone wheat—and every cracker was devoured in minutes. They really loaded up with leftovers to take home, and that was worthwhile.

My second wrap-up party at Repulse Bay worked much better:

1. I bought 2 cases of pop on sale (my contribution) + 60% whole wheat fig bars +crackers

2. I asked my contact person to set up an account so that I had a PO # and then bought sufficient grapes, bananas, apples, oranges, two pkgs of cheese (cheddar and marbled). Again they went home with ample, suitable leftovers. I even threw in my leftover soup pkgs. All were snapped up!

Clothes: Late October means winter—not so much bitter cold, but serious gales. I packed long-johns and micro t-shirt, insulated sweaters and jeans, underwear, socks, and carried my parka with snaps on the mitts and cap deep in my pockets. Brian had a spanking new survival parka with balaclava, mitts, scarf that was so compressible, it fit in a plastic bag which he carried with his other small bags.

In Whale Cove, which is one of the smallest hamlets in the north, everything was close by. Needed the parka, but the thermal underwear was not necessary most days. Needed no extra food in Whale Cove as the three meals per day that were served in the co-op Hotel were hearty. By the way, pay for your meals at the end of the week at the Co-op.

Transportation: Time went very fast as Brian and I talked shop most of the time we were together (4 days). In flight, John realized that a portion of his ticket and itinerary was still on the photocopier at home. Calm Air lived up to its name. “Your name is on our manifest. No sweat.” We examined the itinerary to and from [ as if times of departure really meant something]. As things turned out for us, flying out of Rankin to the villages was impossible because of a blizzard. Whale Cove is only a ten minute flight from Rankin, but there is no alternative route—no road.

Pick up your luggage in Winnipeg and be prepared to wait a while to check baggage into Calm Air (only open two hours before flight departure.). Eat at Tim Horton’s so that you can keep your luggage in sight. Upstairs may be better choice of food, but you cannot take luggage up the escalator. [Whoops, elevator is next to Tim Horton’s!]

Flight to Churchill was an eye-opener. First, saw the end of the tree line; second, we saw snow-covered fields around Churchill… Disembarking from the plane was shocking: wind, wind, wind. The terminal was a bit bleak, but a busy spot. Travel groups—primarily British—were coming and going from some Polar Bear festival at Churchill. First glimpse of Hudson’s Bay. No food at Churchill terminal, so we were hungry when they served us on the plane to Arviut.

Flight to Arviut left 30 minutes late with no discernible cause for delay. Very casual. [Can you imagine in Ottawa calls from airport to check on your whereabouts? Airport called Kivalliq Hall in Rankin twice looking for passengers Brian and John. Plane would leave when they got there. [I digress: My second trip from Rankin to Repulse Bay had a surprise. I called a taxi, which would not promise to pick me up within 20 minutes and then said OK we will be there in 10 minutes. I was waiting almost 30 minutes when a Kivalliq Airline employee stopped by to pick me up and drove me to the plane. “Oh, don’t count on taxis,” he says. ] Back to our trip to Rankin: only 8 people left on board to Arviut. Three got off there. One got on. Prop plane was fine. Windbreaker over door. Steward warned us that a blizzard was on its way and that we would never get past Rankin. “Hope you have accomodations!” Wanted to take photos, but during repacking in Winnipeg, I put my camera in the luggage. There was a beautiful sunset above the clouds of Arviut. Arviut is small, but charming at night. (We never did see the town of Churchill.) Arviut terminal is small. No deplaning here. At least at late dusk the lights of the hamlet are visible. Last ribbon of red slips into horizon. 30 minutes to Rankin. Nap time.

Darkness as we take taxi to Kivalliq Hall, Nunavut Arctic College. NAC has three campuses Rankin, Cambridge Bay, and Iqualuit. Security Officer Bill Gower signed us into the residence. We got into a computer lab, transferred files from one to another with use of a memory stick. Worked well. Exhausted, we left the computer lab.

Sunday morning panic! Brian forgot his power cord with modem in the locked computer lab. No security guard on until after Brian’s flight departure to Coral Harbour. We worked on some PowerPoint slides for a while. Then we went prowling through KH looking for a power cord or someone with keys. A guardian angel, Janice Seto, met us in a hall accidentally, got us into the lab, organized a mature student Brian Macdonald to take us to breakfast at the hotel, made a town map for our use, and set us up in the college reception office with email and phone access so that we could arrange our exits to the villages. As well, she opened a staff lounge with coffee maker, microwave, fridge, etc.

We spent the afternoon cocooned in the office communicating with Ottawa about our cancelled flights and impending delay perhaps for days.

At breakfast conversation at the hotel, Brian Macdonald gave his slant on what southern presenters should realize about the Innuit.

Brian Macdonald’s Advice

  • Go on fieldtrips around the town with participants introducing people and helping you with photos

  • Invite them to bring family to wrap-up party

  • Respect the religious spirit of most Innuit

  • Be gentle; they have a hard life, often crowded conditions

  • Innuit pay income tax; not on welfare, though they get assistance

  • Bring food to the presentations

  • Be flexible on lates and partial absences (usually sound reason)

Stormy Weather: Winds were filled with snow, but gale force winds never allowed snow to accumulate on the ground. Temperature plunges. Decide to order dinner in, but restaurants have closed down by 3:3 pm because the storm has become dangerous. Brian (the mature student from Clyde River) went out to get pizza. On way back the horizontal pizza boxes went vertical as he turned around the corner of one of the buildings.

After dinner, Brian and I used the time to rehearse the set up and presentation of our Power Point presentations. Brian was happy to use the mouse. I was determined to use a remote. But the one I took from Compulite did not move slides ahead or back. Other functions worked. In desperation, Brian took a walk and met a computer geek. Paul, a genius, worked with the remote, but could not get it to work. I produced my universal remote from Future Shop and Paul got it to work. We rehearsed a couple of presentations, and then studied how our presentations and activities matched the final examination.

Re-entering the office, we emailed spouses, James, Mac, hotels and contact persons to provide updates.

Mon. Oct 18 was supposed to be first day of course in the hamlets. Woke in the middle of the night; wind was howling. Complete whiteout. By morning the storm intensified even more. The security officer could not go home even though he lived only two streets away. People die when disoriented by ferocious winds. He would not take a chance. He was supposed to be off for a week. His replacement did not get in. His dog (whippet/husky) was tied outdoors with no way to rescue him. Put North Atlantic sea gales with a Sahara Desert Storm and a prairie snowstorm together and one may approximate the intensity of an Arctic storm. [I digress: While reading a back issue of Kivalliq News, I bragged to someone that Cathcart and I had weathered the storm in Rankin that everyone was talking about. They were impressed. When I looked at the date, it was earlier in October and that storm broke records.]

Whole morning spent canceling reservations, creating new ones, and completing correspondence.

Breakfast: coffee and muffin; lunch: leftover pizza. Learn that KH is evacuation centre for Rankin.

From emails, we knew we had to stay, teach courses starting days late and stay longer; it started to look as if John would have to go to Repulse Bay because Brian could get there but could not get back in time for other responsibilities in Ottawa. Made new reservations depending on when we could get to the hamlets.

Attitude: At this point, we were sensing that working in the north requires a bit of acceptance that the whole world does not operate as if the service industry is completely at the beck and call of the consumer. In the north, nature rules and consumers and workers there have to back off and let nature take its course. In the south, there are always alternatives. Cannot travel one way? Go another. Options seem unlimited. In the north, there are times when there are no options. Mike Shouldice at Nunavut Arctic College embodies the new north. He has studied in the south and knows what is like. So he can be amused as he watches southerners getting used to the north. He has high standards, but perhaps what he respects more is that one has to be flexible enough to meet walls at times and find alternative ways of keeping sane until one can go on.

Noon was nuts. Brian and I were sitting down to send the sad news that we could not get out to the hamlets. Mike Shouldice comes to the lab and tells Brian he has ten minutes to get to the plane. He went to the airport, checked his luggage and came back to KH. Then I was taken to the airport. Good bye Rankin Inlet for a while.

Whale Cove, here I come! As I flew over the watery coastline between Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, the silly travel agent who told James and Anne Hill that I could take a taxi from Rankin to Whale Cove really had no idea. No wonder this is whale country. The water inlets and bays are deep and long. Nodirect road could ever be built from Rankin to Whale Cove. In the long range plan, a road will go forever west out of Whale Cove and then turn right for a lifetime until you reach Rankin.

I landed with people I would meet time and again in the village over the next week. At the airport someone asked if I had a ride. Sophie, a woman I would meet at church on Sunday and on the street in Rankin after I left, made a call and I was picked up by my contact person. Imelda, the Senior Administrative Officer (SAO) or town clerk, is a very gracious person, capable and supportive to a stranger trying to get a course underway. She gave me her keys for a few days so that I could return at night to refine presentations and prepare handouts. She left me alone which is what I needed to make a council chamber into a training centre.

Just before sunset I walked around the village trying to get some photos and to say hello to all the stakeholders in Whale Cove. Went into the co-op, the high school, the nursery school, the dock, the arena, saw the church, the water trucks going by, and the snowplowman. Everyone waves and speaks. Kids gravitated to me like Santa Clause. Nice.

My first roommate at the hotel was a drywaller from Edmonton. We lasted one night, because a fellow tradesman was coming to town and they needed to talk shop. The dinner scene was amazing. Seats were assigned by the cook, Irene. Great lady, a native woman from St. Francis. Excellent cook. A widow with rules. No naughty talk while eating. Now this scene had to be witnessed. Irene’s boys were all tradesmen from the major reconstruction site at the high school. Turned out to be fine gentlemen, but they would sit the entire meal without uttering a word. Even my new roommate and I did not speak at table. Irene became quite a case, picking out my roommate and I, both instructors and both churchgoing guys, as deserving of special treatment.

We ate it up. She spoiled us with special lunches or access to the phone before the “lonely boys” started lining up for love chats. Things were said by Irene that made clear that religiosity was a very strong value for her. She stopped talking about church, however, when the guests at church the night before (and who had flown in from Churchill) turned out to be flaming Pentecostals and they scared the devil out of her.

Nine people signed up for the Management Communications course and nine turned up and stayed for a labour-intensive experience. They were all responsible people with good jobs. But few had much schooling and lacked self-confidence. My approach was that they had struck it rich and lucky. They had their very own communications coach on hand for a whole week. My role was to give them demonstrable skills that would help their confidence to grow. They admired my unlimited patience, it seems, and they milked me for all I was worth. In the end, there were wonderful success stories. Two of my weakest and avowed quitters not only stayed, but chipped away at improvement until they appeared in the top five results on the exam. Everyone worked very hard; it paid off; all succeeded; all got their certificates.

Marking was easy, but writing the report was not. Took much longer than I expected.

Polar Bears

One morning, the place was hopping. One of our participants, Daniel, had shot at a polar bear at 11:00 p.m. the night before. Unfortunately, two other hunters were in boats and shot and claimed the bear as their own. The hide was stretched outside the co-op and for sale for $600.00. The elder in the group explained to me what was involved in skinning a bear and how proud he was that his daughters had been trained in this procedure. His daughter was the SAO. It was also explained that they may have one polar bear sighting per season. Not only did dozens of people go out to Daniel’s place to see the shot bear that night, dozens more went out to his house two mornings later to examine the huge bear tracks that encircled his house at six o’clock in the morning.

Met a game warden at the hotel who explained the migration of polar bears. They go from northern Ontario in Sept-Oct to Churchill until late Nov. Then they go farther north.


Facing Carvoeiro

from the Atlantic

at sunrise,

the village looks like

a huge birthday cake—

one slice already eaten.

Chimney-top candles

count a thousand years;

white-icing houses top

a golden layered cake.

Carnivale time

on Shrove Tuesday


the spirit of this

ancient fishing village.

Children and teens,

dressed as brides and devils and angels,

remind us of Halloween,

the autumnal blend of

pagan and Christian customs.

Winter visitors

like butterflies from Madeira

flutter to shops and cafes.

Canadian ones

At Smiler’s


in marvelous numbers

sharing stories,

helpful hints,

touching base.

When sun sets

in the Atlantic,

the village is a haven

holding the heat of the Portugal sun,

hosting visitors at dinner or drink,

housing everyone for one more scene

of miraculous serenity:

In cosy comfort

on our balcony,

we check out vermilion skies,

the rising moon,

the crystal-clear constellations.

Fireplace smells

remind us of winter at home

for one second.

Then amber lights replace

birthday candles

for the night.

Mornings in the Algarve

Waking to see


every day:


Listening to


with eyes closed

on the sundeck:


Feeling the

sun rays


skin and bones:


Smelling sea salt

tasting oranges

hearing waves fall

embracing the heat:



In Ottawa

it’s Winterlude;


it’s Carnivale.

At home,

cold blasts as

I squeeze out the door

for the papers.

Coffee on,

we read the news.

In Portugal,

we read the village,

the tide at the beach,

the clouds. The news:

Clouds have cleared out;

sun bathes the village.

On the mountain,

we hear a workman’s hammer

bang the message from the village:

The sun is here to stay.

Dawning sunlight


the west side of the steep slope

of the fishing village;

painting a collage of

white and green;


the beach has more bars

than bait sheds and

more sitters than fishers.

In Ottawa,

few people we know

show themselves

in the snow and the cold.

they huddle inside

or they jump in their cars




In Carvoeiro,

people walk their dogs down

to the village

or bask in the morning sun

or open shops for the day.

Someone kind phones to welcome us,

neighbours watch the parade with us,

another neighbor invites us to visit.

Thursday at Smiler’s

is Canada Day:

red wine, cold beer, and company,

talking about eating and sightseeing,

moments of laughter and cheerful chatter,

challenging one another on the Canada Quiz,

new acquaintances from across our land

winter in the Algarve

finding their respite

from the ice and the snow.

Blog #2 Google says a blog is…

What is a blog? I entered on Google. Google concisely noted what I wanted: Define blog. A series of similar definitions or descriptions were listed. Best definitions appeared near the end. First, a blog is short for web log. So blogs, brief web pages, appear on websites. They may be casual (like this) or formal as in Full (for National Post writers).

They are public so that visitors can interact with the writer. Visitors can get hooked on a writer’s personality as revealed in the writing. Writers can win fans through blogging. Visitors also can get interesting information or at least the writer’s digest of information or take/slant on information. Visitors expect personalized handling of information. Visitors know the message is being massaged by a real, thinking being.