Picture this. A mountain-ringed campsite beside the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park. A crackling fire. Sun slanting down through the trees. River rumbling over rapids. The occasional crow chorus. (The resident clan regularly sends scouts to check if we’ve forgotten to take the dog food in.) Soft music playing from one of the randomly … Read more Home
Nostalgia was once thought to be an illness caused by clanging cowbells. We know better now. Photo by Max Itin on Unsplash. Believe it or not, nostalgia was once considered a disease. If you had it, you might be “treated” with leeches, opium, blood-letting, bullying or even bodily harm. A Russian general once threatened to … Read more Nostalgia Is Good for You!
I ate the most delicious cherries the other day. I only buy cherries if they’re from neighbouring British Columbia, and I make a point of stuffing myself when they’re in season. Eating cherries always makes me think of my Kamloops family. Kamloops, B.C., is where my dad’s oldest sister lived. Every summer, my Auntie Jessie … Read more Why Not Bake a Cherry Pie?
I am not a religious person. Frankly, I’m a bit jaded by the terrible things people do to one another in the name of religion. But I do try to be a good person. That’s a lesson I learned from my parents and grandmothers. All were devout churchgoers who never missed a Sunday, and they … Read more Doing Good Is Good for You
Did you ever play cat’s cradle when you were a kid? I did, with clever friends in elementary school, but I could never recreate the game when I tried it at home. I could blame this on my little brother’s clumsy fingers, but really, it was because I could never remember how to do it … Read more The Invention of String
I don’t think of myself as a materialist. Not especially, at any rate. I am a Taurus, so I do love beautiful things. But I don’t have to have a lot of beautiful things. Just some beautiful things that do, in fact, make me happy. I wrote about the power of things in a blog … Read more The Importance of Things
Okay. It’s true. History was once pronounced ’istory. And hotel was once pronounced ’otel. When you don’t pronounce the h, it flows better to say an ’istorian or an ’istorical. But that was in the 18th and 19th centuries. English speakers today are likely to sound the h in both these words. We say history, … Read more It’s History, Not ’Istory
A storyphile is someone who loves stories. It’s not a word you’ll find in the dictionary. Yet. But it’s a good word nonetheless—especially for a former classics* major like me. It combines the word story with the suffix –phile, which means someone who loves. It’s from the Greek philos, which means beloved or loving. The … Read more What Is a Storyphile?
I’ve always been a word nerd. I was born that way, I think. I love the sound of words. I love to play with them. I love learning about their origins. And I’m compulsive about looking up the meanings of words that are new to me. So it always shocks me, a bit, when I … Read more Wacky and Wonderful Words
Are you the designated guardian of your family photos and archival treasures? If you are, I hope you’re protecting things properly. Edmonton historian laureate Marlena Wyman and the Provincial Archives of Alberta offer some great tips. 1. Make sure your treasures aren’t being damaged by sunlight and damp. (Keep them out of your basement, if … Read more Take Care of Your Stuff!