Summer, Time to Kick Back

Summer is a time when we enjoy kicking back, doing the things we’ve been putting off. We thoroughly enjoyed a neighbourhood potluck in the park yesterday evening. It’s a two minute walk from our house & overlooks the ocean & the beach where we swim in the summertime.

Word of mouth is quite amazing here in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of BC, & just two emails brought about about 40 people! There was even entertainment; our nextdoor neighbours, ages 11 & 15, on keyboard & fiddle, along with two younger girls also playing fiddles. They’ve been playing at the new Gibsons Public Market  & are very good.

Our *** Tibetan sponsorship family *** has moved into their own home & are now learning the bus routes & so on. So the bulk of our work is done, now we just need to help them with the final parts of learning to live in Canada.

I’ve been relaxing on our deck when time & weather permits, reading a lot, even for me. Here’s what I’ve been looking at:

The Circle by Dave Eggers: Found this long novel quite compelling & read it in 3 days. It takes social networking & the gathering of personal information to the nth degree. Scary but fascinating!

Sing You Home by Jody Picoult: Her writing, on a vast variety of subjects is always captivating, & her plots excellent. Not for the faint of heart though or if you’re looking for upbeat.

Big Jack (Sequel to Hot Rocks) by J D Robb: Found these in a used book store, then ordered them from a library in the town north of ours. Not one of her best, but still fun (maybe I’ve been reading too many of hers lately). Eve Dallas & Roarke are pretty cool to ‘watch’ always.

Nine Parts Desire by Geraldine Brooks: This one just showed up in my house, no idea how it got there. A true tale about Muslim women in many countries, through the eyes of a journalist who has travelled there. Much of it is anecdotes about real Muslim women she met.


Canada’s Tibetan Resettlement Project is halfway through (2-1/2 years), & only 200+ of the 1000 exiled Tibetans who won the lottery have arrived from remote northeast India. We need more sponsors, housing & donations.




In Praise of Nature

I had what was probably the best sleep of my adult life on the ground in an out of season campground outside Salmon Arm, BC. It was many years ago, I was hitchhiking with my partner from Vancouver to Medicine Hat,  where we would catch the train to Toronto, our home. On the grassy field, right out in the open, I slept like a baby, so deeply immersed in my dreams that I had to be shaken awake in the early morning when the rain came.

Most of us spend much of our time indoors, unless we’re fortunate enough to have outdoor jobs or to have finished our scheduled work careers, grabbing an hour or so when we can. I find I’m drawn to nature more each year, and this year I have the urge to sleep in my ‘outdoor room’, the sixth room of my house in summertime. But I like my creature comforts like memory foam bed and I must admit I’m more than a bit nervous of the night time visitors that often trigger the sensor light outside our bedroom window.

Coyotes…not so bad, but bears, now that’s another story. We know they don’t look for confrontations, but when a roly poly bear cub runs right past my studio door, a mere four yards from the back door of my house, in broad daylight, I’m expecting an anxious mama bear to come stomping right behind. The animal control officer in Victoria (they’re on duty 24/7 BTW), after hearing my description, told me that this was a yearling, not a cub. Bears that weigh from 50 to 80 pounds are about a year old, and are autonomous or semi-autonomous by then.

So after all this excitement, I guess I’ll soak in nature during the daylight hours, on long walks along the waterfront or meals and reading on my deck, erring on the side of caution!

The Sunshine Coast, Where the Living is Easy in the Summer

Roses in Ellen's GardenIt’s been a busy time here over the past six months. The launch of An Indian Sojourn segued into the arrival of our Tibetan sponsorship family from Arunachal Pradesh in remote northeast India, (between Bhutan & Myanmar), in mid December. They spent their first Christmas in Canada gathered around our dining room table, a traditional Canadian dinner of turkey with the trimmings, plus curried vegetables to tempt their tastebuds.

As we help our family settle into this welcoming community, walk them through bank visits, ESL classes and so on, we find our work very satisfying. It is a pleasure to assist people who are appreciative  and whose soft Tibetan Buddhist energy uplifts us.

Thanks to you, Rock for Tibet, our first major fundraiser to help bring more Tibetan people from Arunachal Pradesh, was a rousing success. We look forward to other events in the future.

Spring is beautiful this year and the summer will hopefully be a warm one. I’ve finished my deck gardening, vegetables and flowers in huge planters, and am still working on the flowerbeds, raking, then feeding the fowers. Summer on my “outside deck room” is something I look forward to all year, to the hours spent puttering, eating my meals, reading and entertaining friends.

If you would like to be a sponsor in the Tibetan Resettlement Program, provide housing or donate funds, please contact us.       or

As private sponsors, we are responsible for the settlement of our families or individuals as well as financial support for up to 1 year: $11,000 for 1 person; $26,000 for 4; these amounts include non monetary ‘in kind’ housing & donated items).

I hope you enjoy your summer, wherever you plan to spend it.








Rock for Tibet, a Fundraiser Concert Sat. May 3rd


Help us raise money to bring more displaced Tibetans to the Sunshine Coast from remote northeast India.

Join us on Saturday May 3rd at 7 pm for a fun concert in the Gibsons United Church hall. The church has kindly donated its facilities to us for the evening.

Tickets: $25

We do not expect to have tickets left by show time, so visit Gaia Fair Trade, MELOmania, Laedeli or Strait Music after April 10th to purchase your ticket.

We have a great lineup: Cornpones, John Marian, Johnny Besso, Billy Hillpickers Light & Denise Olson. Our MC is the talented singer-songwriter Kevin Crofton.

For more information contact me through this site or at 886-1916.


The people of this planet are like members of one human family. Our happiness is interrelated and dependent on the happiness of others.                                         – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
In 2007 the Dalai Lama asked the Canadian government to offer Tibetan refugees, who are currently in exile camps in India, the chance to resettle in Canada. The government agreed to relocate 1,000 Tibetans here by 2016.

On the Sunshine Coast we are raising money through Spirit Dance Centre, a local charitable organization, to sponsor the next round of Tibetan families and individuals to join the three families who arrived on the Coast this last winter. We are also involved in projects to make the Sunshine Coast a welcoming community and to promote understanding of Tibetan culture and philosophies.
Your donations to date have gone entirely toward supporting the first Tibetan families. They are now adjusting to our culture, attending school, receiving job training, doing part-time work and starting small businesses of their own.
Thank you to everyone!

Facebook Event Link


What’s Your Holiday Focus?

Ellen & Nain Christmas Dance 197_During my childhood Christmas was a family and religiously oriented event, complete with dinner with extended family and carol singing at Dewi Sant Welsh United Church in Toronto.

When our daughter was growing up she and I loved decorating the tree and we all took pleasure in watching her unwrap her gifts on the morning of the 25th.

Over the years the relevance of the season has changed for me. I still enjoy the lovely carols and this year am participating in a Church choir program. But as a “Spiritual Independent”, (Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s term), I embrace a vast variety of religious icons and beliefs, from Hinduism to Buddhism to Christianity. It’s a philosophy that has slowly unfolded over a number of years and has been influenced by Buddhism in our home community and by our travels in India and Southeast Asia.

This is the time of year many of us draw back and reassess, take time out from our busy schedules to rest, to see people for whatever reason we have not connected with during the year, and to do activities we love. Simple celebrations and more modest gift giving seem to be the route many people are going now.

Often we think of others near and far away during the Christmas season and try to help those who are marginalized. Perhaps they’re a single parent, a visible minority, maybe their life wisdom is overlooked because of their age.

We will be hosting our Tibetan family for Christmas dinner;  our daughter and a friend are coming over from Van. It’s been a whirlwind week beginning with greeting families at the Vancouver airport, late evening Saturday the 14th and ending with me singing Ave Maria yesterday at Gibsons United Church with the family in attendance. As I stood beside the grand piano, ready to begin my piece, I thought ‘It doesn’t get much better than this’. The song was my prayer of thanks, I feel very blessed.

I hope you have a joyful, satisfying holiday season as you engage with your community or travel abroad.

Seasons greetings to you from Ellen

BTW, the pic is my Nain (Welsh for Grandmother) & I dancing, with Auntie Helen looking on, circa the early ’70′s.