This long and lonely walk

February 25, 2014

Rhiannon Johnson walked 2,209 miles (3,555 kilometers) from the US border with Mexico north on the Pacific Crest Trail toward the border with Canada. Although stymied in northern Washington by sudden and dangerous snows, which prevented her from reaching Canada, she nevertheless accomplished her goal of walking alone, confronting her fears, pushing herself anywhere from 15 to 30 miles a day, footstep after footstep. 

Forester Pass, California, 13,153 ft. elevation. Rhiannon estimates she totalled 400,000 ft of vertical elevation, in both directions (eg, the equivalent of climbing 400 Empire State Buildings with a loaded pack).

My mother’s courage

February 17, 2014

She's ninety-one, a veteran who served with distinction as commissioned officer (Lieutenant) with the Women's Royal Naval Service. A respected, and now retired, executive director of Vancouver's largest homemaker agency, she was a champion lawn bowler who raised three children on her own at a time when single parents were the exception. 

Rising Waters

December 26, 2013

June 20, 2013: Warm weather and heavy rainfall causes the snowpack to melt and the rivers whose headwaters are in the Rocky Mountains to rise rapidly to record levels. Downriver, communities brace for the flooding, not expecting it to be as devastating as it would be just 24 hours after the warnings. Many areas of Calgary, through which the Bow and Elbow rivers flow, had to be evacuated.

The staff at the Calgary Zoo, on St. George's Island in the Bow River, were suddenly tasked with removing hundreds of animals while the river continued to rise over the island, working overnight in glacial water.

Dr. Malu Celli standing in what was the South America building at the zoo. (Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald)

In this podcast, Dr. Malu Celli describes the overnight rescue of the animals, and what it was like for her and fellow staff to do what had never been done before.

The closing song is by Blake Reid (

Making a better life with less

December 17, 2013

Becoming Minimalist is Joshua Becker's mantra, his website and his family's guiding philosophy. After years of living as a "normal suburban household" with piles of stuff in the garage and every room, Joshua, his wife and children began a slow and steady process of de-cluttering their lives, and found a new simplicity which he began sharing, initially with friends and relatives worried about their new-found minimalism, then more widely. Today, has thousands of readers and Joshua has published two books (available on his site) about the challenges and rewards of living with less stuff, and how to go about it.
My Skype interview with Joshua took place on the "Black Friday" weekend in November from his home in Arizona.  Length: 16:59

A list of the 10 most important things to simplify in your life

Closing music: Ann Alee, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, courtesy

Reverend Frank Schaefer: the courage of his conviction

December 4, 2013

Several years after officiating at his eldest son's same-sex marriage, Reverend Frank Schaefer of the United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, faces a church sanction which may cost him his credentials to preach.

[Reverend Frank Schaefer. © The Washington Post]

Schaefer lost support among some in his congregation for his support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people and their right to practice Christianity in his church. When a member of his church lodged a complaint against him, suddenly he and his family became news.

"I did not want to make this a protest about the doctrine of the church. I wasn't trying to be an advocate," The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a father of four, testified Tuesday in a hearing to determine his punishment. "I just wanted this to be a beautiful family affair, and it was that." 

Rev. Schaefer took a visible and increasingly clear stand over the course of Tuesday's proceedings, wearing a rainbow-colored stole on the witness stand. He declined the church prosecution's offer to "repent of and renounce his disobedience to the (Methodist Book of) Discipline," the Associated Press reported, and refused to promise that he wouldn't officiate at more same-sex unions. [Fabien Tepper, Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2013]

My conversation with Frank Schaefer was recorded on Friday, 29 November 2013.

Leon Phillips

November 27, 2013

Vancouver artist Leon Phillips grew up in a small farming town in Saskatchewan, "making snow angels instead of playing hockey like the other boys." Unusual for the time and what we think of as a conservative Prairie community, his mother fiercely defended his right to be who he was. Now she has advanced dementia and Alzheimer's, and Leon with his sister must fight an entrenched healthcare bureacracy to give her the care she needs--and deserves.

CLOSING MUSIC: Carrie Akre singing "Courage"

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[Podcast edited with Hindenburg Journalist Pro]