Here are links to some of my published articles:

The Writer's Union of Canada

WRITE Magazine

  • Listen Up! Speed listening as a research tool (.pdf)

    If you were to walk into my office while I am researching, you might think I was listening to a different language. That’s because I’ve been experimenting with a technique I call “the chipmunk research method,” which involves simultaneous reading and high-speed listening…

Toronto Star

Toronto Star

  • Are humans capable of cross-cultural understanding? | (.pdf)

    Raised as a Catholic Anglophone in Montreal in the 1960s, I held preconceived ideas about French people, Protestants, people with disabilities, gays, First Nations and the wealthy. Now, in hindsight, I realize how often individuals — and nations — get it wrong. Perhaps when there are no more graves of First Nations children to be unearthed in Canada, Canadians can start pointing their moral fingers at abuses in other countries. And when privately owned U.S. prisons stop using incarcerated young, Black men for cheap labour, maybe then Americans can fairly comment on the Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs. And perhaps when the brilliant contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei, no longer has reason to be critical of his government’s stance on human rights, maybe then China can fairly hold themselves as a role model for the world…

Globe & Mail

Globe & Mail

  • At UVic, I fell in love with the precise language of biology (.pdf)

    As a retirement project, I signed up for an online course offered by the University of Victoria Continuing Studies department. I hadn’t been in a biology class for 55 years but wanted to know more about the science of a worldwide pandemic. After finishing the entry-level course, I started to read popular science books noted on bestseller lists. A dozen young writers rocked my layperson’s world with the beauty of their scientific – and plain language – insights. My beguilement led me on an unexpected path …

  • A Better Way to Play Scrabble

    My mother taught me to play Scrabble almost 60 years ago, when I was 7. Twelve years ago, I started experimenting with a different way to play. Whenever I tell Scrabble buddies about it, they lower heads, raise eyes, wince and ask with great skepticism: “Reeeaaally?”...
  • I am dandelion, hear me roar (.pdf)

    In her fun-loving Newfoundland accent, the Camosun College herbology instructor announced: “For your homework, I want you to go for a walk and figure out which plant is willing to speak to you.” I rolled my eyes and silently lamented the fact that I had already paid for the 10-week course…
  • ‘Make-do’ expert Thelma Fayle once cut a mattress in half to give her son a single bed (.pdf)

    A fun-loving pal dared Thelma Fayle to dance on the table at her birthday. While mischievous octogenarian friends secured her, she climbed up and did a momentary jig. Someone snapped a picture for the lodge newsletter and for the next 20 years, guests to the Sons of Norway hall in Victoria wanted to meet the famous Thelma who “danced on the table at her 80th.”
  • Have you cried during the pandemic? Here’s why you should (.pdf)

    As a hospice volunteer of 15 years, I often witnessed the underlying beauty, elegance, wisdom and power of crying by the bedside of the dying. Unfortunately, this natural expression is commonly an unclaimed endowment for many adults at other times in life…
  • Keep your online dictionary. I want the 20-volume Oxford set (.pdf)

    In 1974, a friend paid $90 for a dictionary. While the flies were going in and out of my cranked jaw, he confided more than the price. He said his two-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was the “condensed version”…
  • We increasingly empathize with addicts. But we still tar smokers (.pdf)

    Two young Indigenous people were kicked off a train for sneaking a smoke in the bathroom during a nine-hour trip…
  • How much do I love my nine-foot-wide house? Let me count the ways (.pdf)

    Some buildings make you feel wonderful. Old train stations, for example. Or, on a smaller scale, some private homes can provide that grand, central sense of well-being…
  • Veteran and poet Andrew Guy Mulcahy Obit (.pdf)

    For decades, Andy Mulcahy was a thoughtful, smiling face of humanism. Like many Canadians, Andy tread an honourable path because he felt it was the right thing to do. He never held stock in the promise of some fancy version of an afterlife – in exchange for being a good person. But it took a World War to turn him into a humanist…
  • Transforming trouble into lace (.pdf)

    At 4:30 a.m., Mom stood on the street watching the 10-metre flames coming from the rented duplex she had lived in with her daughter and grandchildren for more than 20 years. My sister whisked her away so that she didn't see two young men jump, with auras of fire, from the neighbouring window…
  • Healing the wounds of violent crime (.pdf)

    I waited in line and watched Phil serve corn chowder. He wore those white plastic gloves that servers wear. I stared at the hands that had stabbed my sister's friend 99 times and then slit her throat…
  • Feet Aren’t Ugly/I hold your feet in my hands (.pdf)

    Bernie's 85-year-old feet spent a youth sweating through hockey skates as a competitive young athlete in the Prairies. After a sudden stroke, I gave one final massage to a stilled left foot and a right foot with a little spunk yet remaining. Bernie smiled a last crooked smile as my sister-in-law and I quietly sang Won't you Come Home, Bill Bailey to her while I rubbed her feet…

    A short film by Dr. Jessica Hemmings, inspired by the above 'Feet Aren’t Ugly’ article I wrote for the G&M. The mission for this film is to encourage people to volunteer with end-of-life stage patients – as well as to promote the power of touch.

THIS Magazine

THIS Magazine

  • I gave up television for 35 years. Why I started watching again

    In the 1980s, Dan Hubbard and Richard Catinus were two brainy young guys trying to sell Apple computers when I was working in a government office that used IBMs. While outlining the advantages of using a Mac for my work, Dan mentioned in passing that, after reading Jerry Mander’s book, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, he and his wife had decided to raise their children without a TV…



  • Evolution of Mouldy Head

    I held Nations in Darkness close to my face and smelled the molasses-like ooze on the cover of my damp old book. I wondered what it was. I felt sick to my stomach within five minutes; but didn't connect the two events. I thought I was coming down with the flu. Within 24 hours I was in Emergency on a ventilator and heart monitor…
  • Rediscovering canoeing at 90

    “Nimble," is how Linda Thomson, president of the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club, describes newest member Michael A.O. (Mike) Brodsky. The two strong and well-matched paddlers recently headed down a Vancouver Island fjord known locally as “the Gorge”…

Montreal Gazette

Montreal Gazette

  • Exposing family violence

    Dad was kneeling over Mom. Her outstretched body was lying on the floor by the kitchen sink. He held her with one hand and punched her in the face with the other. I tried to stop him but my skinny 17-year-old girl’s frame was no match for his 292 drunken pounds…

The Blind Canadian Magazine

Blind Canadian

  • Learning About the Halifax Explosion (.pdf)

    On a recent June visit to Nova Scotia, I had a chance to visit the stunning LEED-certified library, built to look like a stack of books on the Halifax horizon – a story highlighted on CNN; the moving immigration museum, Pier 21, featuring immigrants who have helped build Canada; the art gallery – full of Maude Lewis’s fabled work; and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, presenting insights from the Titanic disaster among other fascinating stories. Throughout our two touring days, guides made frequent references to the “Halifax explosion in 1917.” I wanted to learn more about the tragedy, but did not want to read through a history of the moment the munitions ship, the Mont-Blanc, exploded in the Halifax harbour. At the Maritime Museum, I found a copy of The Blind Mechanic, by Marilyn Davidson Elliott (Nimbus, 2018). Learning about one family’s experience seemed a good way to get a sense of the event that marked the growth of a city in the same way tree rings from a year of drought mark a tree even a hundred years later ...

  • Jayne Eyre Questions Fundraisers (.pdf)

    Coincidently, four of the five members of our book club are blind. That might explain why our long chat over pizza and beer kept moving back and forth between our focus on the fictional Jane Eyre and the CNIB…
  • Guiding the Sighteds by the Heartstrings (or, Another Bad CNIB Ad) (.pdf)

    GRRRRR… can we sighted Canadians please stop falling for the demeaning and highly offensive CNIB television ads? We sighteds have been well trained over the last hundred years with millions of targeted marketing dollars that have been designed to elicit one response…
  • A Blind Canadian Senior (.pdf)

    In 1965 James Brown released a raucous tune called Papa’s Got a Brand-New Bag. Most North American boomers likely remember dancing to the rowdy number. The Grammy-winning lyrics are about an old man, brave enough to get out on the dance floor of a nightclub…
  • Deaf-Blind Woman Advocates for Herself (.pdf)

    When Ann Wasserman was six years old, and got short-changed at a corner store in her New Jersey neighbourhood while buying a soda, her father (a tennis pro) made her go back in the store – by herself – and ask for the right change…
  • Ode to a Philanthropic Investor (.pdf)

    I want to write a book –
    I want to sit at my computer and write a book
    that I wish had been written in Canada
    a hundred years ago…

Times Colonist

The Times Colonist

  • Writing a Love Letter as a Christmas Gift

    Every Sunday the Times Colonist features volunteer opportunities. Last month the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House asked for volunteers to offer community workshops. I suggested a workshop on writing a love letter — or a loving letter — as a Christmas gift. A Christmas scroll, to be more precise…
  • It Takes a Village

    Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Our family has learned that it also takes a village to support an elder during a pandemic. As my mother neared 100 years old on Nov. 17, and was still at home during early days of COVID-19, we were reminded of what a fabulous village Victoria is. Thelma Fayle Sr. was determined to reach 100 years of age and she made it. I baked her a large tomato-soup cake with a hundred Smarties on it. Smarties for the Smarty…
  • Theatre pioneer is willing to do things differently

    Thousands of students and theatre goers in Victoria have appreciated the work of Lina de Guevara for more than 30 years. Originally from Chile, Lina is an actor, theatre director, drama teacher and storyteller…
  • Friends help blind woman in difficult task of finding a job

    Tepi Hughes was found as a toddler in the rubble of her famine-torn home-city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She spent 10 years in an orphanage during the Bangladesh genocide of the 1970s. At seven, she contracted smallpox, and unlike 300 million people worldwide, Hughes didn’t die of one of the most feared diseases. She did go blind, though. Life changed at 11 when she was adopted by a Canadian family

Out of 39 House Beautiful Columns I had fun writing for Postmedia, here are my favourites of two spectacular and joyful elders in Victoria, BC:

  • Convenience is Critical for Blind Homeowner (.pdf)

    Upsizing at the age of 91 is not the standard trajectory, but there is nothing standard about Michael A.O. Brodsky. Last summer, Brodsky's six-year-old guide-dog, Talbot, was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to be euthanized. While on a waiting list for a new guide dog, Brodsky had to use his white-cane skills, which are not as sharp as they once were. What had been a short walk to the bus stop became a wearisome trek from his townhouse near the Mayfair mall…
  • House Rich with Family Memories (.pdf)

    White and red rhododendrons in May form the live and large garden sentinels that welcome guests to Danuta Le Poole's home in Ten Mile Point. What warmer or more appropriate reception than nature's own offering of the Polish national colours? At 84, Danuta still enjoys the garden she has lovingly tended since she and her husband bought their retirement home 30 years ago…

The Tyee

The Tyee

  • 'Leave Your Shoes On'

    “Twenty-two kids were raised in that house,” Joni Olsen says, pointing to an elegant painting of a rickety building. “My great-grandmother put it on a piece of land overlooking the Malahat and raised 10 kids in that one-bedroom farmhouse. My grandmother was given the house and she also had 12 kids. My Dad was born there”
  • Write Your Own Obituary

    Did you ever wonder how irritated some dead people might be if they could read the local paper and see how their days had been summed up in the obituary column
  • 'The Ted Commandments': Photojournalism Tips from a...

    As I created transcripts of more than 50 interviews with Canadian photojournalist Ted Grant for a biography called Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism (Heritage House, U.S. release 2014), I stashed a slew of photojournalism tips in a file titled ″The Ted Commandments″
  • Legendary Photojournalist Ted Grant: Those Who Can, Teach

    Dean Norris-Jones has invited the father of Canadian photojournalism to speak to his Grade 10 photography students at Reynolds Secondary School in Saanich every year for the past 30 years. Ted Grant usually presents for an hour, and then Norris-Jones shows Ted Grant: The Art of Observation, a documentary about Grant’s life and work. The following semester, once the kids have absorbed a great deal about Grant’s 60-year career, Norris-Jones invites Grant back to the class for a dynamic Q&A session  

Inspired 55+ Lifestyle Magazine

Inspired 55+ Lifestyle Magazine

  • A Tasteful Awakening on Maui (.pdf)

    After 18 years of living without a sense of smell or taste due to a rare fungal infection, extensive sinus surgery re-claimed two long-forgotten sensory pleasures. But the surgeon cautioned: the awakening would likely be temporary. I took from that: Enjoy the moment
  • A Very Strange Fisherman (.pdf)

    A one-hour horticultural tour in Maui changed the way I saw the tropical landscape. Joe Ahpuck, a Hawaiian fisherman known locally for his abundance of fishing derby awards, took a detour in high school when a teacher gave each of his classmates 10 hibiscus cuttings with instructions: “to make them grow.” At the end of the term, Joe was the only student who still had 10 healthy plants
  • Back to School (.pdf)

    Mom and I played scrabble on a picnic table near the uni- versity. She looked at the nearby students and said she thought they were lucky to get a good education. When I suggested she take a university course, she looked at me as though I were daft. “I wouldn’t qualify to get in,” she said
  • Joyful Aging on an Island Getaway (.pdf)

    Rob Selmanovic may be a brilliant somatic yoga teacher, but when you hear the Hollyhock chef peal the breakfast gong, you drop your relaxation pose and dash like an upward facing dog to the dining hall. The delicious, mostly-vegetarian food is legendary, but forewarning: getting to and from the remote Cortes Island lifelong learning centre founded in 1983 isn’t easy. It’s three ferry rides from Vancouver – off the west coast of Canada. But the food alone is worth all efforts
  • A Resilient Man (.pdf)

    Long dark locks frame the sweet face of a 13-year-old boy in the picture looking down over the entrance to Les Chan’s home. The arresting photo was taken days before Les had his head shaved for brain tumour surgery
  • Dancing into 50 (.pdf)

    “Are you a dancer or here for the leadership program?” someone asks at the communal breakfast on the first morning of the five-day Hollyhock Dancing from the Inside Out workshop. “I’m not really a dancer,” I stammer. “I’m turning 50 and decided to celebrate by dancing my way into it.” I considered taking the leadership program but, after 25 years of working for the government, I decided I couldn’t bear another go at facing the latest buzzwords on “leadership”



  • Sandhill Cranes and a Photographer (.pdf)

    As a way of coping through the pandemic, I enrolled in an online biology course with the University of Victoria and learned there are 10,000 species of birds. Charmed by a description of the adaptable sandhill crane, one of the oldest living bird species in the world, I remembered a story I had heard a few years earlier...

    Thelma sitting in front of a computer with painting of sandhill cranes off to the side
    Photo Credit: Daryl Jones

  • Mastery to Misery (Les Misérables production in Victoria) (.pdf)

    "If you tell people what to do, they will remember it for a short time," Matthew Howe says, “but they are likely to forget quickly because they did not have a hand in creating the moment”…