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New seasons always bring new surprises – I knew that it would be wet here in Monteverde at this time of the year.  As I said in the blog yesterday, it has been really wet – although that is very recent, as in the day arrived.  The rains came late and they were getting desperate for water here.  Hard to believe for a rainforest but true.  However, since I’ve been here, I’ve seen much more rain than sun… and I think I’ll be heading to the beach soon. It’s all panchos, hats, umbrellas and rubber boots. I sure wish I had Lori Yates’ flashy red flowered rubber cowboy boots…man, they’d be styling here!

The big surprise for me though was the delicate gossamer beauty of a termite’s wings. For most, termites is only a real big problem. Such as at Wolf’s house.  In the chapter of Walking with Wolf, All Trails Lead to Home, you will read about Wolf and his termite problem in his house…well, basically waiting for them to bring the house down before he gets around to fixing it.  So now his son Antonio is building them a new apartment (a barn penthouse I call it) over top of the barn.  Once it is finished and Wolf and Lucky move there, they may fix up the house they have been living in for 40 years or they may just let the termites finish with it.  In many places the wood is paper thin, cleaned out internally by the little pesks. What looks like wood planks and posts are now hollow paper beams.  So there is a push on to finish the new living quarters before the walls literally come tumbling down.

In the meantime, as the rains begin, the termites come out and fly about and mate and lose their wings and die and….well, I don’t know what all…but I can tell you that last night as a bit of sun broke through the clouds at sunset, the sky filled with clouds of winged termites.  Lucky systematically emptied her beautiful blue, green and gold glass bottle collection out of her windows and vacuumed up the termites that were resting on the ledges.  I walked into my room, which has a skylight, and saw all these delicate floating petals – termite wings, tiny translucent feathers floating down from the ceiling.  They were landing all over my clothes and I actually found the whole effect quite magical…but then, this isn’t my house that is hosting the hungry little critters.  I doubt many people here find them delightful, but I’m trying to think up an art project that could use their shimmering beauty as a detail.  Termite wings, who knew?


                             Bruce the delivery doctor

Good things DO come to those who wait…and wait…and wait…

This morning Bruce, the delivery doctor, (a lot of Bruces in this story), arrived around 10 a.m. and brought me the skid of books. I think Mr. Bruce was very touched by the profound role he played in this little drama.  My friends Rick & Treeza were here yesterday to help with the carrying of boxes into the house – but all we ended up doing was waiting – and eating and drinking wine – and no books.  Instead, I was alone to receive the truck this morning.  The sky looked like it might erupt in tears any minute (not a little bit unlike moi) and so as soon as that skid hit the ground, I moved the 42 cartons of books into my house. Amazing what adrenalin can do!  I then took a breath (one final big one) and opened a box to see Walking with Wolf.  And there it was! Beautiful!

I have much too much to do to go on right now, but wanted to at least make the big announcement before I run out to take care of some things – after being held captive in my house for two days waiting on the truck, I need to get some food.  I called Wolf to let him know, but he had just left the house to go to meeting (that’s the Quaker meeting for those of you who haven’t read the book yet or aren’t familiar) so I could only leave a message with his son Benito, who was appropriately delighted.  He said he’d track Wolf & Lucky down by phone somewhere and let them know.  Another almost anti-climatic moment, but I’m real good at working with whatever I get!

Now that it is here, I’m almost not sure of what to do next – but eating is a good idea.  I am, needless to say, a very very proud mama!


Thanks, but once again, to another kind, generous-with-her-knowledge person, Carolyn Burke at Integrity Incorporated in Toronto, I’ve managed to overcome a stumbling block in blogland. So more pictures will appear amidst my babble. I’m trying to set up the Paypal system on this blog so people can order and pay and then be sent their copy of Walking with Wolf.  I’ve arranged with my good friend Kathryn Johnston to take care of this while I disappear to Costa Rica. Hopefully she’ll be so busy she’ll have an assistant hired by the time I come home at the end of July.

Today is a day of multi-tasking while I await “THE BIRTH” – trying to stay calm and take care of business as I wait for the sounds of a big truck coming down my quiet street.  Unfortunately, it’s also garbage day, so there are actually a lot of big trucks rumbling around out there today – but one of them will be THE ONE! 

I’m sure that the whole birthing analogy may be wearing thin (especially to all the women who have really delivered babies and are just shaking their heads with each new post) but for someone like me, who has never given birth, well, this is as close as it’s going to get. The fact that I live in midwivery-alley here in the Hammer isn’t helping the situation. I’m surrounded in my neighbourhood by three midwives, the closest being the lovely Genevieve Romanek, who supplies me with birthing terms and metaphors on a regular basis and she has supported me through many of my labour pains. However, I promise that once the book is in my hands, I’ll stop with the baby images before I get to slapping the bum, planting the placenta and breastfeeding.

Excuse me, I hear a big truck…

False alarm.  Keep pushing…

For those people reading from Costa Rica, I’m heading that way next Wednesday, May 21.  I’ll be there until July 30, distributing books, hopefully selling books, celebrating with Wolf, Lucky and the rest of the Monteverdians – and I can guarantee that much dancing will be done.  After eighteen years of extended visits down there, it’s hard to imagine that I won’t have the same reason to go each year. But I’m sure I’ll come up with something – the Spanish translation for instance.  

And then there’s the movie – but hey, whoa chica, let’s get back to today – and keep pushing…

I keep breathing, trying not to get ahead of myself, filling my days by checking off tasks from my list, my nights with song and dance as much as possible, taking last minute delays in stride, knowing that Walking with Wolf is but days away from being born. The only other event in my life that required this much patience was when I had cancer.  I never considered myself particularly patient – I’m not normally anxious either – I just like to get things done.  Pro-active, that’s how I’d describe myself, and it is when I can’t do anything to expedite a situation that I start to lose patience.  In 1991, when I was beating cancer with chemotherapy and then radiation, I had to learn how to live one day at a time, that you couldn’t rush the process, and that being relaxed was much more effective than being antsy.  I learned how to wait.

Back in the 1980s, I became friends with Gary Potts, who was the Chief of the Ojibway of Bear Island, the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, on beautiful Lake Temagami in northeastern Ontario.  We were all concerned with the future of the area – the health of the lake, the survival of the forests, the fish, the moose, the people. Gary’s concern came from his blood, his heritage and his spiritual tie to the land that his people had lived on forever.  I lived a couple of hours further north of Temagami, and came into the area as a visitor, loving to swim in the cold deep clear water of the lake, canoe past the craggy rocky shoreline, walk softly on the pine-needle floor of the forest.  I became involved with the Temagami Wilderness Society, initially concerned about the environment and the pine trees, but soon learned about the native’s struggle for social justice.  After much public debate, soul searching, and through the experience of knowing the local inhabitants on all sides of the issues, I stopped calling myself an environmentalist and started calling myself a social activist.  Ever since, I have tried to proceed in any activism I’ve been involved in with the well-being of all parties – human and non-human – as my motivation because I just can’t accept that only saving the trees, important though that may be, is the answer.

Although there were stresses in the relationships between local landowners, the government,  forestry and mining companies and their employees, the natives, and the environmentalists – we all had our own “agendas” afterall – somehow I managed to forge a respectful, warm relationship with Gary.  And because of knowing him, I learned a lot.  One of the things he taught me, which came in very handy in the years that followed when I was fighting the “big C”, was about patience.  We were in the middle of the blockading of a logging road – an action instigated by the environmentalists but ultimately controlled by the Anishnabai – and even as we stood our ground, tall pine trees were being cut, some by industry, some by activists with a different idea on how to manage the situation.  In the final days of the environmentalists’ blockade, after I had been living in a tent in the bush for several weeks (this, about a year before I would be diagnosed with cancer), having dealt with actions and controversy on a daily basis, my physical energy was ebbing and with each blow to the forest around us, my spirit suffered. 

One day, on the shore of Lake Wakimika, I had a conversation with Gary. When he realized that I was losing faith and strength, he reminded me of how long the native people of North America have been working to see the treaties that were signed honoured, to reclaim their lands, to right the many wrongs that were imposed on them.  He said “Kay, if we cried over every tree that has fallen, every plant that has been stepped on, every battle that we’ve lost – even though these things are important – we wouldn’t have the energy to continue the struggle. You say a prayer for the loss and then pick up and carry on. And laugh alot. It has taken an incredible amount of patience and  perseverance to sustain our energy and continue on our path. If your path is a just one, you can keep going forward despite the many roadblocks.”   

His words have stayed with me and supported me now through many of my own struggles – most profoundly during my cancer treatments, and again, during these last months, his voice has been whispering in the back of my conscience.  I will always love Gary for his kindness and admire his tenacity and his heart. Whenever I manage to get back onto that glorious Lake Temagami, seeing this man, whose beauty equals that of the land he is so much apart of, is a gift. We’ve laughed together much more than we’ve cried, but there have been many tears as well.  And many lessons.

So I repeat his words now, in these final days of waiting for Walking with Wolf. I will be fine, before I know it that book will be in my hands and I’ll be on that plane to Costa Rica. Patience, Kay, patience. However, may I say that if there is one more delay, I just might be heard screaming “Give me an epidural – PLEASE!”

Well, the phone did ring, but it was at the last minute of the business day and only with semi-bad news…the shipping would be delayed by a day, press problems.  For me, after eighteen years, what’s another day? So I took it calmly, mostly wanted to know when I need to be here to receive information or the books themselves.  I spent yesterday waiting around for the phone call, afraid to leave my house – and that coincided with 150 Hell’s Angels and other bikers and their women descending on my neighbour’s home for a wake after the funeral of one of their friends.  Within fifteen minutes, just after noon, my normally quiet street filled with Harley’s, my front yard filled with beer-drinking leather-clad bald heads and long hairs, and I felt like I was held hostage in my little home – I couldn’t go anywhere since I needed to be here and I couldn’t go outside as I didn’t want to particularly mix and mingle. My main concern was that they didn’t step on my flowers while using my little front lawn as the party overspill since they couldn’t all fit in the neighbour’s yard.  But I digress…(and no harm was done except cigarette butts left in their wake).

So today I’ll work at getting together a Paypal account, a new email address, a new bank account – all those things that you need to run an online business, thru my company Wandering Words Press.  There is never a shortage of things I can be doing, I find making the decision of what to do is generally more complicated than just the doing! I’m having a problem putting photos on this blog so will hopefully take care of that too. One more day waiting on the book is nothing, just an extra day of preparations – it also gives me time to pick up the cigarette butts.

Any minute now the phone will ring and it’ll be Pierre, at Transcontinental Printers, giving me the final amount of the bill that I need to pay before they release Walking with Wolf.  Thanks to the power of VISA, that little transaction can take place instantaneously and very shortly after, a skidload of books – 1280 to be exact – will be sent by truck down the highway to my home in Hamilton. I am trying to visualize how many books that is – one skidload doesn’t sound like so much, but in the confines of my small house, it might just seem like a mountain. I think I’ll make furniture with the boxes, throw a few blankets over the cartons, and rearrange my home to be a functional and comfortable book warehouse.  Some of those books will go with me on the plane to Costa Rica so that we can get right to the celebratory launch shortly after I arrive. I have considered and reconsidered the numbers – how many to ship where – another in a long line of decisions that, at the time, seem extremely important. In the end, I’ll live with whatever I’ve done. So the other 720 books are heading down on a leisurely boat cruise to Limon, hopefully arriving a few weeks after I do, to be sold around Costa Rica.  I’ve had to make arrangements to store them in “dry closets” – in the humid land of the rain forest, you need to keep a lightbulb burning to keep the moisture down or I’d be the proud owner of a buncha musty books in short order.  The Hammer is a pretty humid place too, but nothing like Monteverde, up on the wet, green mountain, and here, dehumidifiers tend to do the trick.

One of the details I’ve been consumed with before I leave Canada is to decide on when and where to have the official book launch when I get back.  At this point it is looking like Saturday, September 6 at the wonderful Pearl Company.  A grand old three-storey brick factory building close to downtown Hamilton, it has been renovated with love & spirit by Barbara Milne and Gary Santucci and now houses not only their loft living space but a stunning art gallery, art shop and performance venue.  The couple also runs a fantastic service – the Art Bus. It heads out on the first two Fridays of the month when, for a very reasonable $15, you are driven from gallery opening to gallery opening in the greater Hamilton area, exposing curious art-lovers to a wide range of studios and spaces, local creations and culture. The bus leaves from the Pearl Company, and it was when I went on the bus back in January and saw the beautiful old building that I first thought what a great place to have a launch party for Walking with Wolf.  So I went the other day to talk to Barbara and we came up with the September 6 date. I’ll actually be having a trial run at my 50th birthday party on August 23, but that’s a whole other story.

Last night I went to the Lionshead Pub to see my friend Lori Yates play along with her friend Lynn Buckshot Bebee.  Heart-grabbing voices, irreverent spunky women, great great songwriters. They played a set together, along with Chris Houston, as the Evelyn Dicks – named after a notorious murderess from Hamilton’s past – and blew me away.  And this was only part of their band that I saw. I immediately got the idea that this would be a great band to play on the night of the launch – some real hometown Hammer hustle, with lyrics full of literary story lines and surprises, and rocking women (Mistah Houston was the exception). By the end of the night we had a plan, to collaborate on a great night in September, celebrating Walking with Wolf, and cranking up the steel city attitude with the Dicks.  Lynn started her last set with a song that ended with the line “Going to read a good book” and I gasped.  She later told me that she just finished writing that song the night before – and I found it totally prophetic.  I hope that this all works out – Walking with Wolf – Book Celebration with the Evelyn Dicks – Musical Event at the Pearl Company – Community Center – in Hamilton, September 6, 2008.  Many more events will follow, but I’m feeling like this is the just the best way to introduce the book in the Hammer.

Suggestions are coming in from friends further afield: the Chat Noir Bookstore in New Liskeard, the Moon Cafe in Mattawa, Gullivers Bookstore in North Bay – if I can line up some local music to augment the book presentation in each case, my work will be done! In my little world, you can never have too much music, and no night is complete without at least a little shimmy on the dancefloor. Dave Patterson of the legendary Wabi Delta Band in the Temiskaming area has offered up his services for the New Liskeard show. I’m loving the generosity and enthusiasm of people towards the coming out of Walking with Wolf. For my part, I plan on creating a multi-media kinda presentation while I’m in Monteverde.  It will feature images from the tropical forest, video of Wolf and a variety of Costa Rican music.  I hope to add a little colour and character to your typical book-reading.  I believe so strongly in the value of telling Wolf’s story that going out in the world and talking to people about the book is easy.  If I can make a connection between the book, the past and the future of conservation, be it in Costa Rica or anywhere else, while plugging the book, then it will be even more satisfying.

Now why hasn’t that phone rang? 


July 2020