High Time

High time for me to show up at my blog.

High time? It means “the time that something is due (bordering on overdue)” and alludes, I learn online, to the warmest part of the day, when the sun is highest in the sky. Which, gauging by my watch, is more or less this moment of writing, though the air is filled with smoke from British Columbia’s numerous wildfires and the sun is hidden and the light has an eerie cast.

In the steady turning of time from low to high and round again, H. and I have reached and passed a year here in Tsawwassen, and are still pleased to be here. We’ve also just reached and passed another year in our marriage, to 43, and are grateful for that.

There’s a strange eeriness in world happenings at the moment, with North Korea high in the news again, as it was just before Charlottesville and Hurricane Harvey. During that iteration of tension and high time for something better than bluster and threat and “locked and loaded,” why not buy a painting? Or a good quality print, at least? I stepped into the local thrift shop, where secondhand art of various kinds adorns the walls, and was immediately compelled by a 1996 piece by Randall Lake, who to be honest, I’d never heard of. But like I say, I was compelled by the work, both price and quality higher than often in the shop, so I looked up the artist. Turns out he’s a Utah painter of fine landscapes and portraits and also searing social/political commentary with an interesting story. The print was framed in New Jersey. I have no idea who had it before it ended up in a Tsawwassen thrift store, but we have it now and I’m very happy about it, its sense of blue and serenity and invitation—an invitation that feels like the biblical psalms of trust to me for some reason—now hanging in our bedroom.


About the same time I was purchasing the R. Lake print, David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic, noted on Twitter that in October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, his late father bought on credit a painting he couldn’t afford, figuring that if John F Kennedy could find a way to save the world, he’d find a way to pay for the painting. And, “If we’re going to die, let’s die with great art on the walls.”

edna-o-brienHigh time, yes, in so many ways, but never time not to enjoy art, pick blackberries, read a book. I’ve recently enjoyed Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs (if you don’t have time to read it, do listen to Eleanor Wachtel’s interview with O’Brien) and The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler, whose novel A Whole Life I raved about here. Both books are set in hard, high times in history.download

Time too, to walk. My brother Victor Doerksen is avid for walking, so if you’re a hiker, or prefer reading about hiking while curled in a chair, check out his new blog Beautiful Feet. I think you’ll be inspired by the photos and stories.

Words will be wanted

I was so ready for this. For this weekend. A festival of women writers called “Growing Room,” put on by the ROOM journal collective.

I’ve been happy in our move, I can certainly count the ways I like Tsawwassen, but I was unusually excited about the opportunity to be in the middle of writers again. Never mind that I wouldn’t know anyone. Or would have to plan and plot my getting there on a map. I was reading at the launch of ROOM’s latest issue (below) on Saturday evening, since it contains a creative non-fiction piece of mine (“Notes Toward an Autobiography”). Why not spend the day at panels and workshops? Why not spend the next day too? Just to hear the familiar vocabulary of writers’ talk. Just to hear them read, even complain, about their work.

Why not indeed? And a rich two days they were. A highlight: a panel on writing about trauma with Evelyn Lau, Christine Lowther, and Sonnet L’Abbe. Another: a panel on “rewriting the stories we tell about our bodies” with Lorna Crozier, Francine Cunningham, Nilofar Shidmehr, and Juliane Okot Bitek. Continue reading


Last week we spent a couple of days in the Waterloo area with my brother, street photographer Al Doerksen, and sister-in-law, artist Agatha Doerksen. First up was the opening of Agatha’s stunning new show, “Off the Wall,” at the Red Brick Cafe in Guelph. The first pieces in this series were inspired by layers of peeling posters in downtown Toronto. Agatha gathers material life wherever she finds it–lists, wallpaper, bits of text, buttons, old photos, and much more–which she then maps and collages in new arrangements. These “remnants and discards” of daily life are variously re-layered, re-configured, revealed, perhaps covered again, perhaps painted upon, but thus preserved. The result is sometimes whimsical but more often–to my view–boldly provocative, and deep. Here’s “A Single Leaf,” one of my favourites in the show. If you live in the Guelph area, do stop by to view the exhibit, or see more of her work at Agatha Fast on Facebook.13645115_830262967108427_4770586795850250156_n


The opening itself had a layer of unexpected drama when one of the largest pieces was stolen the day before the opening. CBC told the story.

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