Kells Pasture

It’s Cozy

  • Stay for a week in a thatched-roof cottage near Waterford, where Vikings set foot
  • Watch Irish Sea fishers catch seafood to replenish what you’re eating for lunch
  • Imagine impish fairies hiding outside your door, coating the postcards you’re sending home with magical whimsy
  • Breathe in the smell of wild flowers, the bog, and pervasive, mystifying mist

It Has A Book . . .

  • Take a copy of your family memoir, A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, to the Mayor of Kells. Have faith that  “A book always finds its own readers”
  • Look at stone ruins, graves and gates adorned with Celtic art, and the refuge to which monks fled from a bloody Viking raid to pen what’s now known as The Book of Kells
  • Deposit a copy of your book for reference at Trinity College Library, Dublin, resting place of the original manuscript
  • Hope that, along with an explanatory letter, your book will be cataloged as a legitimate addition to the long and quaint path of Kells memorabilia

It’s Basic

  • Search out Ireland’s soul. Pick up a rental car at  Dublin Airport early Saturday and count on luck to survive driving on the left side into the city.
  • Stop at a central café to ‘people watch’; read the daily paper to get a handle on the pulse of the times and the place
  • After walking around and sightseeing, have a beer at the James Joyce pub. Try to grasp what he was up to with writing Ulysses, The Dubliners and Finnegan’s Wake
  • Attend a music-only sung service at Christ Church on Sunday. This Celtic church was erected in the 11th century; the choir dates back 400 years.
  • Spend a day motoring out to the Ring of Kerry on the south coast to see magnificent scenery.

It’s Irish

  • Indulge your Irish genes by telling local people your great-grandparents were poor tenant farmers in Armagh County who emigrated to America in 1850 to find a better existence
  • Go to a concert of Irish dancing in the spirit of your grandmother who expected everybody to ‘step around’ fast to do the work of the farm
  • Be careful whom you tell your grandparents’ name was Campbell; old clan warfare hatreds still run deep
  • Spend what you can on souvenirs, such as linen and lace, and take all the pictures you can to keep your visit alive and help the Irish economy

This  blog complicates the  mystery of why anyone would write a family memoir entitled  A Book of Kells, Growing Up in an Ego Void. (Our surname was Kell and I was a preacher’s kid. There’s some doubt over whether our family originated in a community of ninth century monks).

Margaret Kell Virany, lang & lit lover, Norrie Frye note-taker, journalist, editor, autho

 http://www.cozybookbasics.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

1. Keep your eye on the ‘events’ calendar in newspapers and online if you are an indie author of a nonfiction paperback book. This genre sells best person-to-person. It doesn’t sell as well as fiction does in e-book form. My income tax figures show I made 80% of my money selling books on the ground from September to December and perhaps you are the same. March is the time to start making phone contacts for another successful year.
2. Go back to your 2016 phoning lists. You may have missed some events because you were too late calling. I just phoned about one such event planned for late September each year and discovered the registration opens April 1st.
3. Many cultural organizations have annual conferences with book tables authors can rent. This is a new venue for me to try this year and I’m very excited about it. Last year I missed out on selling to the West Quebecers and members of the British Isles Family History Society but I won’t make the same mistake in 2017!
4. Even if you go into book stores for signings, it is still seasonal. You have to go when they are busiest. There’s fierce competition between authors to get one of those good spots. I was missing a receipt for my income tax return so, just now, I phoned the bookstore where I had sold nine books to get it. I took the opportunity to arrange to sell my books there again on the Saturday before Mother’s Day in May.
5. The store clerk put a bee in my bonnet by asking, “Do you really think it’s worth it? I mean, if you have already been here?” I must try to get into some bookstores where I failed before, not always the same ones. However, last time I was in her store I sold to every person I tried to persuade, except one, and I’ll try my best to do that again.

I remain optimistic. I’ll let you know. There are many wonderful readers out there and I hope you’ll have the joy of meeting and selling to them, just as I do year after year!

www.margaretvirany.com   www.amazon.com/author/margaret virany   www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

_57

In her tales, author Ronee Henson’s birth in June, 1937 is joyous for a few minutes, until her boy twin dies. Within days, so does her eldest brother — of diphtheria. From then on Mother often sighs, “Ach, ja,” and Father becomes enraged for no reason. Instead of drawing together for comfort, each person in the family mourns in their own way. Henson  writes, “Only I, the baby, prattle happily to the sunbeams that find their way into my buggy when it stands in the garden.”

Plot of Faces From Another Time
What Henson has to “prattle” about is the normal, happy childhood, good upbringing and education she had against all odds. It is an ironic book because she is growing up with a brutal war all around her and an abusive father in her own home. The village is suspicious of strangers yet absorbs a multitude of refugees

  •  She starts from a focal point in the church graveyard,  followed by a walk, and lets the names and buildings she sees revive her memory. The book darts back and forth in time.
  • The big crisis in the middle arises when ‘LittleOne’ can’t stop Father from killing Liesl, her pet rabbit and best friend, to make soup. That same night Father beats her brother severely. Both children develop fevers. Mother confronts him, makes him face up to what he has done and makes him help her wrap wet rags around them so they will get better
  • The anecdotes and characters are unified by a theme of compassionate community. Of several role models (e.g. her Mother, Oma and teachers)  one is more poignant and powerful than the next. The deep pathos of the soldier’s story is the climax just before the end of the book
  • The book ends with a wedding feast in 1997 where Henson revels in taking part in her childhood friends’ big celebration, with children of their own who have grown up to be good people. The justice of the peace makes the guests promise to support the young couple so they will do well too
  • In the epilogue, the family moves to the United States in 1949 and Henson has lived happily and compassionately for 68 years after, so far.

Style & Structure

  • Gifted with a phenomenal memory, Henson pictures the story in her mind, then sketches in facial features, gestures and minute details of surroundings
  • Deft economy of words propels the action with the reader totally involved
  • She uses the device of pathetic fallacy beautifully. It is an excellent way to express her theme.  For example, “the old intimacy of sea, wind and salt air still wove its magic for me” and “the wind roars across the countryside… like many voices crying.”

The War Setting

  • The North Sea’s North Frisian coastal flats in northeastern Germany, full of beaches, tides, marshes and meadows, have been inhabited since the Stone Age
  • When world war two breaks out in 1939 Father, being multilingual, gets a job monitoring the BBC News for the German army  from a post in the fishing and farming village of Schobüll (pop. 500.) The family’s house is on the main street
  • Heavy troop-filled trucks roll by them headed towards Denmark all the night of Apr. 8, 1940
  • ‘LittleOne’ dives into their backyard trench whenever sirens sound an alert that Allied planes are flying over. She sees a crash and explosions; the earth shakes
  • Refugees from east Prussia and every other variety of dispossessed people turn up on their door step; some steal all their garden vegetables at night
  • Villagers crowd in around their radio to hear the BBC confirm the rumor the day Hitler dies. The obligatory portrait of Hitler has already been taken down from the wall
  • Everyone suffers from severe food and fuel shortages. They wind rags around their bicycle wheels and walk on wooden clogs or bare feet
  • Returning soldiers in terrible shape straggle back. Mother is insulted and ‘LittleOne’ is bullied when the British Tommies come. They apologize; an officer comes for tea
  • The refugee flood escaping to the “free” north peaks after the Russians invade on the eastern front and Berlin falls
  • Residents revert to the churning, grinding, foraging and clothes-making methods of feudal and primitive ancestors
  • Shops are empty and money is worthless until the currency reform in 1948
  • Authorities cram two more families into their house. Everyone is malnourished. Diseases and intestinal parasites spread. They are inoculated at a clinic.

I have read this book three times and can highly recommend it. Each time I learned something new and appreciated Henson’s literary talents more. I hope it will be made into a movie because, with all the human interest and minute details recalled by Henson, the director has half of his or her work already done expertly.

http://www.margaretvirany.com   http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

 

It was much cozier in my breakfast nook on the other side of the kitchen window this week. Today the icicles shriveled in the sunlight and the overweight snow load slid off the roof. It’s time for the spring thaw and a white flag of surrender from winter. Going skiing today.

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

waltwashpost

http://www.observer-reporter.com/20170127/peters_student_honored_for_lifesaving_cpr_on_friend

Heroes don’t exist everywhere, everyday but they can spring up anywhere, anytime. One of them could even be  you. Eighteen hundred grade-ten students learned this lesson last week at a joyous assembly in a Pittsburgh school auditorium. Two of their classmates, 15-year-old Parker and Walter, had played real-life roles of  survivor and hero in a fateful disastrous instant in October.

The Fateful Event

  • The two best friends were sitting side by side on a bleacher in the local skate park on a Saturday morning. Suddenly Parker turned to Walter and said, “My heart stopped.” When he dropped his phone and collapsed onto the concrete below Walter knew he wasn’t joking.
  • He screamed his head off for help from bystanders and a call was made to 911. Walter told the dispatcher Parker’s nose and lips were blue and the dispatcher said he needed CPR right away. Walter said, “I can do that. I learned it in health class last year.”
  • For 10 minutes he gave Parker CPR and kept talking to him until the police and emergency workers arrived and took over. With Parker on a stretcher and Walter in a panic, the ambulance carried them off.
  • En route Walter phoned his father who rushed to join him at the hospital. Parker was induced into a coma and airlifted to a trauma center. Walter wanted to go with his friend but a nurse convinced him he had done all he could. His father dropped him off at his mother’s to find consolation.
  • With the help of surgery to attach an AED (automated electronic defibrillator), and rest, Parker recovered and was back at school within weeks. His heart is strong; the cause of his cardiac arrest is unknown. He looks forward to resuming playing soccer.

The Commendation

  • Emergency workers and police at the scene and doctors and nurses at the hospital showered praise on Walter for his presence of mind under pressure and trying circumstances.
  • Teacher John Valvala who had taught him CPR was “thrilled” by what Walter had done, thanked and congratulated him.
  • The chief of the Allegheny County Police department saw this as a chance to show heart and strengthen community. It could be used to inspire other teenagers to play the important bystander role which is as vital as any other to a patient’s survival.
  • He announced in January that Walter would receive a Citizen Service Award. The commendation ceremony would be at the school in co-operation with everyone else who had been involved.
  • This event would attract the attention of the community through the media. It was a rare opportunity to put the police in a good light, pointing out what people do that is right, not just what they do that is wrong.
  • The St. Clair hospital announced it would give Walter a Health Hero Award at the same ceremony.

The Heroic Drama & Inspiration

  • It was an exceedingly happy, inspiring occasion. A roar of thunderous applause and cheers went up from the student body and family members as police and doctors presented the awards and shoulder patches.
  • Parker and Walter modestly thanked everyone else, from friends to GoFund donors, in their speeches.
  • Audience happiness got noisier with each inspiring speech aimed at them. It was deafening when the three personal wellness (health) teachers were called up on stage.
  • Police superintendent Coleman McDonough said Walter’s extraordinary act “changed his life forever and changed all of us. One person who is here wouldn’t be.”
  • “It is important for all of you to see one of your peers being honored. It was a service rendered to the citizens of the county. His actions are a credit to himself and all citizens,” McDonough said.
  • Surgeon Kevin Friend said he had been inspired to go into medicine after a classmate saved his life by applying the Heimlich maneuver. He choked on a hot dog he was eating while exerting himself as the anchor man in a school tug of war contest. Ironically, up until then he didn’t like the boy who saved  him  — they had a crush on the same girl.
  • Assistant principal Lesnett got the last round of applause as he challenged the students to  “Be alert. A moment can make a difference. You can make a difference. Don’t just let things happen.”

Follow-up for Walter

  • I had a front seat at this milestone event for our family. We have been fractured by divorce proceedings for four years. This proud happy occasion brought both sides together unexpectedly.
  • Stepbrother Derek joked with brother Robert (both older than Walter), “You and I are just ‘the other brothers’ now”.
  • Father Leslie said, “I think I deserve a little bit of the credit here. I always told my boys to listen to what their teachers said.”
  • Two years ago Walter started an entertaining YouTube channel of videos about “whatever interests me.” It has a growing following among his peers. His ambition is to become an actor or film director. He is a good enough student to take any direction he chooses.  But, most of all, he wants to  make people laugh.
  • Thank you, Walter. You have succeeded.

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

 

With the infallible timing of a playful fairy-tale eager to update us with all-time savvy, the romantic family fantasy musical film Beauty & the Beast opens this March. Everybody recognizes this exciting title but with each revival the details of plot and setting change.

Audiences interpret the message in their own minds according to what they need to know to cope with universal truths under current circumstances. In 2011, novelist Alex Flinn’s Beastly gave the plot a new high school/narcissistic twist. In 1994 it was a Broadway musical based on the animated film released by Walt Disney studios in 1991. Earlier in the fifties and thirties Disney failed at two adaptations  but Jean Cocteau succeeded with his 1946 film. Many people think the whole story is based on two 18th century French fairy tales, one by Villeneuve and one by Beaumont, but this is not true. It goes ‘way back to the Roman writer, Lucius Apuleius, who created it in the second century. It was a very long story called Cupid & Psyche inserted in the middle of his Metamorphoses (aka The Golden Ass.)

It is the third oldest fairy tale in the history of western literature and influenced many other stories, such as Cinderella and Gulliver’s Travels. Florida resident and researcher Mari Ness studied it and advises that it is much too complex and long to read. She decided that Apuleius’ theme, in the end, was about woman’s survival. Apuleius wrote at a time when the Roman empire was in upheaval due to the influx of Barbarians and the proliferation of new religions that appealed directly to the public.

The promo for the ’17 variety of Beauty & the Beast says, “It looks behind the Beast’s hideous exterior, allowing Beauty to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside. A hunter named Gaston is on the loose to take Beauty for himself and hunt down the Beast at any cost.”

Let’s return to real life and this week’s presidential inauguration.

Donald Trump’s verbal monstrosities proliferate in a rabid echo chamber. But his authentic core explains the infallibility of the passionate voter guts that got him where he is. mary-trump-hairHe blew in as the brash, gigantic, orange-haired son of an immigrant pattern-maker mom and her rich Manhattan husband. Mary had been raised in a God-fearing Calvinist village on a literate peat-bog isle in the Outer Hebrides. Donald spent his formative years identifying with his father’s survival instincts as a real estate owner who stood off to the side after knocking on a door to collect rent, in case a tenant shot first through the door. Donald boarded at New York Military Academy for his eighth grade and high school education because only they could discipline his out-size make-up. In the 1980’s, his older brother died from alcoholism, first making Donald promise never to touch a drop of drink.

He worked ’round the clock, vowed to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, drugs and coffee, made a fortune and drilled the same habits into his four children. He settled into a good, stress-free marriage (his third) in 2005 with the wise and beautiful Melania who bore him a third son. She put him through the scrutiny of her family and village in Slovenia before determining he was a gentleman and accepting his proposal. Now Donald’s self-declared challenge was to become as good a husband as he was a father.

At election-campaign time 2015 he declared himself the hero with the best vision for the future of country and expressed the confidence only he could make it great again. He said he had been greedy for himself all his life but now wanted to be greedy for America. He vowed to repeal Obamacare with the caveat, “We can’t let people die in the streets.” He tempered his Mexican immigrant remarks by saying many of them were good people. He  told the Gold Star father he was sorry for the death of his son and was trying to make sure such a thing couldn’t happen again.

He accepted the surprise news he had won by saying he would “unite the country” and be the “president of all the people”.  He said on 60 Minutes he would drop his business because it was not important, “only real estate”, and the people deserved a “full-time president”. Henry Kissinger briefed the president-elect and gave the verdict he was serious, wanted to be a good president and was the only man who had ever come into the office without any “baggage”. That is, he was the most free to act in the individual voters’ interests because of his financial independence. Kissinger warned the people not to hold Trump too strictly to things he had said in the campaign because, after learning more about the job, he should be given leeway to change his positions.

The part of America which sees nothing authentic in Trump and doesn’t comprehend how anyone else could is in shock, hysterics, recoiling and denying. They saw and heard the worst of him repeated and dissected too many times on TV and the internet. On the other side, it was impossible for the people who had gotten poorer and couldn’t find jobs to genuinely, passionately, spontaneously want to prolong the mandate of the party that had been at the helm for eight years. Especially not when they had such a charismatic alternative! Many felt they had seen this very same Clinton picture before. Wasn’t this the woman who had already lived in the White House for eight years in the nineties?

Gaston, the hunter who is determined to take Beauty back from Beast no matter what is the real threat. That would create a revolution and destroy all our liberties. Such a cloud of dim prospects is spoiling the inauguration this weekend.

It’s time we all went out for a good night of magic spells, mirrors, romance and comedy at the theater. As story-telling apes at heart, we don’t personally eat or love empire-building strategies. We thrive amid family, arts, culture, history and villages where everyone knows everybody else. In this helpful atmosphere, society comes to its senses. So let’s take a deep breath and try to get things back into balance. As the old 1940’s hit-parade song goes, “You gotta accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

Marty 2

Posted by a merely human, loving, grateful, sorrowful admirer. You were too noble and beautiful to die so young.  Happy New Year to all furry friends and their two-legged owners. They humanize and socialize us too. (Achoo, achoo, I still love you.) Marty’s kind owner did not have him put down because of his incurable throat tumor but gave him a natural death, caressing him and laying his remains to rest under the snow.

A couple whose lasting love started because of an infernal war.

To present my parents’ life story and my growing-up story I hit upon two ways. First, I could combine the stories of two generations — but only if I could find a beginning, middle and end for a unified structure.

  • It couldn’t just be that they were born and died and did something fantastic as a climax near the end. I had important things to say about their effect on me as I grew up. I saw flaws in their relationship.
  • The central theme I wanted get at was one of ego. Altruism is without a doubt the greatest virtue. But babies need to suck in, see and exercise a healthy dose of ego joy in order to become competent, confident, caring adults.
  • My solution was to frame the book as a psychological detective story/family biography. I began by saying I was on a search for my parents’ lost egos. One question I wanted to figure out was why my mother denied him  one of her chocolates the week before he died, even though he begged for it.
  • That way I could keep the reader in suspense and also make the book an honest critique. That’s my way as a nonfiction writer.
  • The title was easy because our family name was KellThe Book of Kells is the famous ninth century manuscript that illuminates the gospels. I point out my parents and ancestors aimed to do that too, by the way they lived.41khlscocglSecond, I could write the book just as an inspiring love story — the quintessential Canadian romance. This approach might appeal more to a different group of readers. 
  • Like the first book, it contains excerpts from their love letters but the theme is a tribute to my mother’s courage and my parents’ idealism.
  • I tossed out the subtitle and included a dozen authentic pictures of my mother’s adventures instead.
  • The title comes from a hazardous five-day trek on a cariole toboggan made by my mother, my father and an aboriginal guide. The temperature dipped to 30-below-zero. If there was no one to take them in, they slept outside. She had to get to the hospital for her baby to be born.
  • Digital technology made it easy for me to do this. Both books are published under our V&V logo but printed-on-demand and distributed by CreateSpace (originally called BookSurge.)
  • Revisions are quick and simple to make. Then I order just the number of  books I think I can sell at bookstores, fairs, shopping malls, reunions, book clubs, seniors’ residences, libraries, book clubs, etc.
  • Most customers have a definite preference for which printed edition they want for themselves or as a gift.
  • I take my i-pad with me and can download an e-version of either book if that is what they prefer.

cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

www.margaretvirany.com

www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

Credit: Library & Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1982-124

Lucky me. I’ll be selling my books and displaying aboriginal artifacts this Sunday afternoon at a site once inhabited by the tribe who greeted the pilgrims on the Atlantic shore. No. The above picture is not a Currier & Ives Christmas card. It is a steel engraving by William H. Barlett famously published in Canadian Scenery Illustrated in 1842. As in the picture,  people will be gathering at the Lake Deschenes bend in the Ottawa River to be warmed and refreshed amid the nostalgic aura of dormer windows, conjoint staircases and veranda vistas.

  • The event this time (Dec. 4) is a light show and artisans’ sale after the Santa Claus parade down Main Street and the Christmas Bazaar at the British Hotel.
  • The Kitchi Sibi Anishinabeg first inhabited this site thousands of years ago. Chief Tessouat was a busy commercial middleman in the years of the fur trade. Champlain and his voyageur explorers rested at this pleasant spot in 1613. They thought they had found a route to China but at least were the first to get as far as Lake Huron. Charles Symmes from Woburn, MA built the Inn in 1831 and helped his uncle Philemon Wright found the townsite. Pioneer settlers made their way to Aylmer from Montreal by stage  coach and stayed overnight before continuing their journey. This was the landing place for busy steamboat traffic.
  • When we moved to Aylmer in 1976 we built a sailboat (from a kit) and berthed it at the Marina (above). One day after sailing I saw one of our municipal councilors, Denise Friend, charge across the parking lot to accost some gentlemen stepping out of a black limousine. They were officials of the Quebec government and had a purse to spend on heritage projects. Soon news came that the historic Inn reduced to rubble after being used as a flea market and consumed by a fire was to be restored. It re-opened in a good imitation of its former glory in 1978.
  • Today it is a Museum with fine exhibits as well as being a heritage gem of the Outaouais region. It will always be at the heart of the townsfolk of the Aylmer sector of the city of Gatineau. That’s why my books, indigenous artifacts and I will be smiling so happily from the inn-side this Sunday. The artifacts I have include a birch-bark basket, two birch-bark trivets, an ermine hat and scarf set and a pair of embroidered moccasin slippers. They’re from my parents’ days as missionaries on the Cree reservation at Oxford House, MN in the roaring twenties. Their story is told in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.
  • Merry pre-Christmas season to you too!

margaretvirany.com

cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

photo 2My parents lived the quintessential Canadian dream with their focus on immortality. They took snapshots at significant moments and left them behind with names, dates and locations on the back. They kept diaries, and wrote journals on special trips. My mother locked their love letters and birth certificates up in a metal keepsake box. They were both well educated; my father got an MA in history with Lester Pearson as a tutor. Because I had a BA in English Language & Literature, after our parents died my sisters delegated me to make a book out of our family.

  • The bare facts of their story are that Kay and Jack were an English girl and a Canadian boy; he joined the Navy in world war one in 1916 and was sent overseas to the Portsmouth barracks. Her high school sweetheart had got cholera while fighting in France and died at age 19. She enrolled in the London School of Medicine for Women to become a doctor but dropped out because of a nervous breakdown. Kay and Jack met when her father, a municipal councilor commended by the Prince of Wales for helping veterans, invited colonial servicemen home for tea.
    Her sister wrote to Jack for nine years on behalf of the family but then married and moved to Australia, so Kay took over the correspondence. She was 25 and thought she was going to be an old maid but her letter was perfectly timed.
  • Jack had finished studying theology at the University of Toronto and was going up to Oxford House, MN as a United Church of Canada minister to the Swampy Cree. The job came with a house and he yearned for a wife to keep him company but so far it was a hard sell. No Toronto co-ed seemed interested. He proposed to Kay and she asked him to come over so she could have another look at him. They just had six days and she said it would be too risky. He got her to agree not to make her answer final for a year during which they would write to each other.
  • Jack pulled out all the stops; he really wanted Kay; she was such an exceptional, smart person with a warm heart and an adventurous streak. Canada and the United Church, not himself, were his best selling points. This beautiful, exotic semi-nomadic settlement beckoned with brisk air, splashing waves, colourful leaves, good-looking childlike faces, gold-panning, delicious moose nose and a cosy wood-burning hearth. Enormous potential for her to do good lay among these folk desperately in need of an intelligent, well intentioned person’s interest in them. The merger behind the United Church was attracting worldwide attention as an example of tolerance. The future was full of promise; she was well equipped for whatever lay ahead so need not fear a thing. If only he had her he would be in seventh heaven.
  • She asked him to come over again and this time they got married almost the minute after she made up her mind; they flew over the English Channel to Paris for a 24-hour honeymoon before he had to hustle back 5,000 miles to work. She packed up, said goodbye to everything and everyone she had ever known and joined him in the spring. She met his family on their farm in Cookstown, Ontario and was welcomed by his friends at a reception in Toronto before they went up to the reserve 600 miles northeast of Winnipeg by train, steamboat and canoe. They lived with the Indians, as they were then called by government, helping, teaching, laughing, sharing and exchanging cultural habits, forming attachments and etching indelible experiences both sad and happy upon their hearts. Their first child was born after a five-day, 120-mile trek to hospital at 30 degrees below zero on a cariole (big toboggan for special occasions and people) in January, 1929.
  • They left the reserve in June, 1931 and became an ordinary Ontario United Church minister’s family in Nakina, where a second daughter was born, Lemonville, where a third daughter was born, Fairbank (Toronto), Cochrane, Thistletown (Toronto), Durham and Flesherton. They retired in Owen Sound in 1966 and lived there until Jack died in Kay’s arms in 1988 and she passed away in 1990. They had been married for more than 60 years and left nine grandchildren.
    Kay and Jack had little in common to start a lifelong marriage except that both were avid readers. They were familiar with biblical texts they applied to daily life. They identified with the heroines and heroes of the same classical books and had faith they would succeed if they lived accordingly, doing the right thing towards each other and everyone else in the world.
  • What Inspired Me to Do This Creative Work
    As retired editor and co-owner of my community newspaper in Aylmer, Quebec, in 1996 I took my mother’s keepsake box to a grade four classr on Heritage Day. We sat cross-legged in a circle on the floor and I began reading to them from a journal my mother wrote seventy years before as she was riding up the fur trade route to Oxford House, MN in a canoe. I told the children if they wrote something in a journal today, it would become heritage for children of the future.
  • Then I passed a page of the handwriting around the circle and pointed out that my mother had made a note in the margin saying the splotches were made by drips from the paddle. Involuntarily, I choked up and almost added a tear of my own to the page. The children were all staring at me with their eyes wide open and the teacher, a friend who wrote a column in my newspaper, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Margaret, you have to write a book.” That was the magic moment I decided to jump in and do it. For the kids. For these kids and all kids everywhere so they will know their heritage.
  • Actually I had been more or less assigned by my older sisters to write a family history but now I went about it with passion. I would do my best to make my parents immortal and please my favorite professor, Northrop Frye. Most of the content was on hand but I had to research an amazing number of facts, maps etc. to make the story absolutely reliable. It was a labor of love, an exercise of my abilities and skills, a challenge I couldn’t resist, an important project for my retirement years.

(I submitted the above as a brief to the Canadian Heritage consultation on Canadian culture and creativity on Nov. 24, 2016)

www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

margaretvirany.com

www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany