writer traveler photographer

Giddy-up-go; Halt!

Steps leading to beach area in front of the cliffs at Joggins.

It’s been ninety-one days since I last posted here. Something I swore I’d never let happen again–let a huge hunk of time lapse before “checking in.” It’s not for lack of content, or what I think would be fun to share; there’s buckets of stuff idling in the wings. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been buckets of free time in my life since summer started. Thanks to COVID, all the projects and work commitments that were scheduled for April, May and June were rescheduled for July, August and September–on top of what had already shaped up to be a full summer. Puts me in mind of Johnny Cash and his song, “I’ve been everywhere, man…”

But I don’t mean to belly ache or complain. It’s been a most extraordinary–and wondrous–three months. Joggins Fossil Cliffs in NS for Writer-In-Residence (I’m back now for second 2-week stint); Doaktown NB to build a canoe with the folks at Miramichi Canoes, + interviews with tie-flying folks; visited folks in other regions in the Miramichi City who’ve spent years restoring old Maliseet/Mi’kmaq portage routes; scooted around various parts of Southwest NS doing photo shoots; Argyle Shore in PEI for MacGregor-Phinney-Avery-Cooper family reunion; Birchdale to co-host annual 5-day writer’s retreat; completed an intensive “Lit Mag Love” course with Rachel Thompson and an 8-week advanced CNF essay course with Darryl Whetter (and started another one with Darryl today!); hosted a group of memoir writers at our home for an annual summer meet-up; zoomed around the newly declared UNESCO Cliffs of Fundy Geopark; and attended two online annual conferences. Threw in a couple of paddling day-trips to keep me sane.

The making of “Bella.”

Nutshell: I’m operating on fumes these days. After Joggins, I’ll be heading back to Doaktown to paint “Bella” (my new canoe!) then a blessed get-away with Barrie to celebrate his birthday mid-October. Have decided to revisit parts of the Geopark so Barrie can see some of the places I’ve talked about. Hopefully, he will be spared some of the trauma I experienced the first time around. I wrote about it for Your Local Magazine (“Lost and Found”). Later in October (17-21) I’ll be giving a three-day memoir writing workshop at The Cooper’s Inn in Shelburne. It’s going to be a blast! Program outline can be found on site. Please pass the word along.

The last ten days of October? I plan to sleep. (Ahem, there will be a wee wilderness paddle in there into Quinan Lake and Big Gull–to give Bella a test run! But I plan to take a few naps in my tent.)

Age of Sail Museum (one o 30 geosites)

With the exception of the third week of November … the entire month is almost a blank slate in my daybook and I intend to keep it that way. And, lucky me, the week I do have blocked out is to go with some dear writing colleagues to the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village. We’ll be working on our personal essay projects, workshopping together, and treating each other to our favourite recipes. And, yes, napping every afternoon. I have So. Much. Sleep. to catch up on. (UGH. Bad sentence at many levels but I’m too far gone to revise.)

Now, dear reader, how goes YOU?


  1. September 15, 2021    

    Being the nit-pickin’ nerdy that I am, I was going to quietly point out that the song “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man” was originally recorded by your fellow Nova Scotian Hank Snow, not Johnny Cash, because I didn’t want you to be e-pilloried by rabid mobs of patriotic Maritimers. Cash only covered the song decades later. But then I did a fact checking and discovered that Snow adapted the song from an Australian musician named Geoff Mack, and then Cash covered Snow’s version because it was written in English, not Australian. The original starts “I was humping my bluey (means “I was carrying my sleeping bag) which Snow converted to “I was totin’ my pack …” and then added Canadian place names. The song has also been adapted by British, “I was peddlin’ me bike…” and various other nationalities, including Finland, Germany and Texas.

    Just shows that the song itself has been everywhere, man. Maybe someone should write a covid quarantine version,

    “I’ve been staying home, man
    Because it’s against the law to roam, man,
    Don’t need a toothbrush or a comb, man,
    Because I’ve been staying home, man,
    Worn my house coat to the bone, man,
    Because I’ve been staying home,

    No longer use deodorant or cologne, man,
    My groceries come by drone, man,
    The bank has called my loan, man,
    And I’m losing everything I own, man,
    Because it’s against the law to roam, man,
    And I’ve been staying home, man,

    • September 15, 2021    

      Sooo happy you chimed in Steve! Lots of fun facts you discovered. Thanks a bunch for showing up!

  2. September 15, 2021    

    Wow, what else can I say? By the time I read your story I was ready for a nap of my own. What a jam-packed summer. (and coming autumn) you have had. Could you share some of your excess energy? Glad to ‘find’ you in my inbox this morning!

    • September 15, 2021    

      I tend to work best under pressure, deadlines etc. but I realized this summer that all that’s fine for SHORT bursts (couple of weeks? a month?) but it’s really not healthy physically, mentally or emotionally to cram everything in as I did. Alas, I didn’t want to say “no” to any of those things. But shoulda. Thanks for popping into view!

  3. Susan Surette-Draper Susan Surette-Draper
    September 15, 2021    

    I have been writing my memoirs using the list of Natalie Goldberg prompts you sent. I’m calling it my COVID memoir. I have really enjoyed the process. The next time you do a writers retreat at Birchdale let me know. I have never been there. Sounds inspirational.

    • October 19, 2021    

      Yikes. think your comment fell through the cracks Susan! I thought I responded but can’t find the thread. THRILLED that you are writing your memoirs. Those prompts have produced great stories for writers! I have your name down on waiting list of Birchdale writers retreat. We’ve had a full house for the past three years but you never know …

  4. September 15, 2021    

    Great to find you here this morning Susan! Birchdale has had a waiting list for the past two years. However, I am adding you to the list as we speak. You never know! Life happens and sometimes openings come up. Happy to hear you’ve been using those prompts. Great fodder for stories!

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