Monday, Jan. 4, 2016: My life (Part 1 of 2)


This morning I woke up to a light dusting of snow, the first flakes of this winter. Then for the fourth day I did my morning practice. It was a day to take care of business, including going downtown to sign a stack of cheques as a director of our cohousing community’s development company. And I picked up a wifi printer I plan to use in my new home.

Born in the Old Country – Winnipeg

I always say I was born in the Old Country – Winnipeg, Manitoba, where my parents, Hy and Molly Mallin, were also born. We moved to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby in 1947 when I was nine months old. My sister was born in 1950. My dad sold TVs and we had the first TV on the block in 1952. All the neighbourhood kids crowded into our living room.

We were a secular family. But I believe that because my mom’s father, a Russian-born Orthodox Jew named Abraham Shuer, also moved to Vancouver, I had some Jewish education at a weekend Hebrew school. I became Bar Mitzvah at his synagogue, Schara Tzedeck. And then I dropped Judaism, typical for Jewish teenagers.

I found expression in playing saxophone and writing poetry. Burnaby South High School offered an extra English course in journalism. I could see it was possible to be a writer and make a living. At the University of B.C. in 1964 I spent all my time working on the student newspaper, The Ubyssey. When Simon Fraser University opened in 1965, I launched the first student paper, The Tartan. The Vancouver Sun offered me a part-time job as a reporter. Just 18 and writing for a big daily; I was in heaven.

At 20 I travelled by train and ship to Israel to study Hebrew. There I met Betsy, an Irish Catholic-American, on a kibbutz and we ran off to Paris. We lived together for five years in London, Vancouver, New York and Beirut, and then were married for only six months when we lived on Quadra Island off the coast of B.C.

Being alone over a winter on Quadra led me to look inside for the first time. And when spring came, for the first time I marvelled in the miracle of creation in the sweet blossoms on the apple trees, the tiny strawberries growing on rocks high above the water’s edge. At 27 I began searching for who I was and found some tools to work with in a mystical school called the Arica Institute.

I was part of a group opening an Arica teaching house in Toronto in 1975. But teaching meditation and other workshops did not pay the rent and in 1977 I was hired as an editor at The Toronto Star. In the Star’s cafeteria, I met Shoko, who had immigrated from Japan, and we were married within a year. A few months later, I got a job at The Province newspaper and we moved to Vancouver.

More tomorrow.



Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016: Click on me

“Click on me” to the tune of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me”. Judging by the plummeting number of likes, readership dropped off a cliff when I stopped posting directly to Facebook yesterday. Today I’ll present the link from my blog in a way that may attract more friends to read on.

Today’s photo is the brunch I laid out on my sun-splashed dining table for an old friend who visited late this morning to talk about internet dating. I served omelettes with goat feta, Kalamata olives and fresh tomatoes, beside the Moroccan carrots I made yesterday, with a side salad of baby power greens. He brought my favourite poppy square from Sabra kosher deli. He is tentatively entering the world of online dating and wanted to learn more about how it works. I’ve been mostly single since 1993 and began online dating about 1997; I have a lot of experience on a number of sites. No enduring success, but I did meet my last girlfriend on

At brunch, my friend asked how my heart was able to handle date after date in the search for a partner. Facetiously, I said I’ve become insensitive, but more seriously I said I’ve learned to be emotionally resilient. In university days, we rubbed shoulders in classes and campus events with many people we could potentially get close to romantically. But outside of that environment there are much fewer opportunities to connect.

Of course, I keep my eyes open doing the things I love, like tennis, sacred chanting, music festivals and being involved in my spiritual community. But internet dating sites give me access to much wider circles of possibilities. First meetings are usually at a cafe, and if there is mutual interest, we may move on to a first real date. With no spark, we can wish each other well and try, try again. I’m not looking for perfection, but I remain optimistic that I will meet a wonderful woman who I can connect with on every level – emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual.

This afternoon, I drove to the Savary Island Pie Company in West Vancouver to meet M., who I had written to through OKCupid. She’s an attractive and interesting woman, but I could tell she wasn’t interested in me. That’s never clear until you actually meet. In any case, we may play tennis sometime, and she suggested one of her friends might want to meet me. You never know.

Yesterday’s post drew a comment from Pat, who I met on a press trip for travel writers: “How about a background profile. Who is Lorne Mallin and what got him to 69.” I’ll take a crack at that Monday.




Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016: Separation anxiety


Changes already – I’ve modified how these posts now appear. Instead of writing them as Facebook status updates, I’ve set up this simple WordPress blogging site and then I’m putting a link to each blog post in a Facebook status update. So I’ll own the content, not Facebook, although I’d still love to get your encouraging likes and comments on Facebook. At least for now as I figure this out.

Leaving the home I love

The photo shows just a portion of the expansive ocean view and spectacular sunsets typical of what I enjoy from my light-filled, eighth-floor apartment in Kerrisdale, a leafy West Side Vancouver neighbourhood not far from the University of B.C. The southwest vistas that nourish my being will be very hard to leave. The place I’m buying in Vancouver Cohousing on the East Side at 510 square feet is 40 percent smaller, has almost no direct light, and what I see is the apartment across the courtyard.

Now I’ve always said that if I couldn’t have a view, I’d like to be in a courtyard setting. There’s a beautiful mountain view and acres of shared space in our huge common house, including a studio for yoga and other activities, shared office space, guest rooms, community kitchen, lounge, and much more. And most especially, there are the amazing people who make up this collaborative, self-selected community. Over the almost four years we’ve been developing Vancouver Cohousing, we’ve made all of our decisions by 100 percent consensus – everyone agrees – increasingly efficiently, without going crazy, and with lots of hugs and laughter. In my life I’ve had a lot of acquaintances, but not many close friends. In cohousing I’m looking forward to deepening my friendships in our community.

Part of the reason for moving into cohousing is in lieu of partnership. The search for such a connection led me this afternoon to another blind date, this time with S. from North Vancouver, who contacted me on Truth in advertising this time. We had a very nice conversation at the Elysian Room cafe on West 5th and will probably do it again.

This morning I woke up before 7, in time to see Canadian men’s tennis No. 1 Milos Raonic lose an exhibition final in Abu Dhabi to Spanish No. 1 Rafael Nadal in straight sets. At least I put in more than an hour on the treadmill desk watching it on my computer monitor. Then I did five minutes each of chanting, meditation and yoga, before preparing a Moroccan Spicy Carrot Salad for the kiddush lunch after Shabbat services at Or Shalom, my spiritual community not far from cohousing.



Friday, Jan. 1, 2016: Beginning daily practice

Born in 1946, made it to 2016. So far, so good, I’ve been blessed with excellent health. The maternal line of my family has not been so fortunate. My grandmother died at 52, my mother at 50 – both from cancer – my sister has MS and her daughter has had health scares. I visited my sister today and her spirit is still strong. I pray for a miracle that she can walk away from her wheelchair.

I brought in the new year at a party near my home with old and new friends. I enjoyed meeting Saeed, who came to Canada as a refugee from Iran in the ’80s. His daughter is half-Korean, while mine is half-Japanese. The party greeted 2016 at midnight with hugs and kisses, and formed a circle to chant in Sanskrit while I banged on a drum.

Have you made New Year’s resolutions? Sadly I’ve never sustained a daily spiritual practice. Today I began with five minutes of chanting, five of meditation and five of yoga with the intention of building that to 20 minutes of each over the year. When I took the two-year chant leadership training with Rabbi Shefa Gold in 2004-05, she gave us the assignment to spend 20 minutes a day in the silent presence of the Divine. This morning I chanted along with Shefa on her “Flavors of Gratefulness” app, available at the App Store. It’s 36 different daily melodies to the chant of Modeh Ani Lefanecha, Ruach Chai V’kayam (I gratefully acknowledge Your Face; Spirit lives and endures), our prayer for greeting each day. I was delighted to find that today’s melody was one of the first chants I learned after experiencing Shefa at a Jewish Renewal retreat in 1995.

In the afternoon, I baked triple-chocolate brownies and brought them to Al’s place, where he graciously hosted a drop-in New Year’s Day potluck that flowed into a Shabbat dinner. Shabbat Shalom. Photographer Alan Katowitz snapped the photo with my iPhone. And yay, the Canucks beat the Ducks in a shootout tonight.

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015: Sitting is the new smoking

Last night a friend asked if I was aware I was posting in Public mode. This morning a family member questioned why I was chronicling my life on Facebook: “Does it have to be public? A) Facebook owns all of your content, B) privacy and C) security reasons.” I suggested I might post instead to my lapsed blog site, and then update my status on Facebook with a link to each post. Please help me navigate these new waters. Any advice? In the meantime, I’m posting now in Friends mode.

Two years ago, I gave myself a Hannukah gift – a treadmill desk. They say sitting is the new smoking and I was spending too much time sitting at the computer, especially when logging many hours of editing work. With the treadmill desk, I can walk slowly while working, and quickly watching the news or Netflix. It’s very effective for burning off calories. My weight tends to yo-yo. Last spring, I got down to a lean 175 pounds on my six-foot frame. The last several months I put weight on – generally late-night snacking, filling an emotional hole. Monday, Dec. 21, I was 194.2. This morning, I broke through to the 180s hitting 189.8. Tennis, racquetball and yoga, and eating less, also help.

As the construction liaison for my Vancouver Cohousing community, I spent time this afternoon at the building site photographing progress and getting an update from our project manager. Cohousing is a style of living, first started in Denmark, where people come together to develop and own their own homes while sharing considerable common space – in our case a 6,500 sq. ft. common house. Our community started with a public meeting at the WISE Hall in February 2012 and our 31-unit complex at 1733 E.33rd Ave. between Knight and Victoria Drive is scheduled for completion at the end of next month. All 29 owner-occupied units are sold; we’re accepting applications for two rental units at our website. Tonight a party with new friends. Blessings for a Happy New Year everyone.


Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015: Turning 69

Today I turned 69. This is the first of an intended year of diary posts marking the experience of entering my seventh decade on the planet on the leading edge of the baby boomers. I’m inspired by Globe & Mail writer Ian Brown, who did something similar on Facebook when he turned 60 and turned his posts into a new book, “Sixty – The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning?”. I’ve edited and designed books, written a small chapter in one, but never created a book of my own.

The photo was taken through the rain-splattered window of the 8:30 a.m. ferry from Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver to Departure Bay near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. I’m celebrating my birthday with a potentially romantic adventure – a blind date with D. from Courtenay, who is picking me up after contacting me through the Plenty of Fish dating website.

I know that long-distance connections are extremely challenging and usually foolish to pursue, but I have a hunch. As my darling daughter says, “Dad, you’re a dreamer.” There are some red flags: D.’s lovely photos are not dated and she had no time to Skype. If nothing else, I will have a mini-cruise on my birthday. Stay tuned.

Part 2

Perhaps I should pay more attention to my red flags than my hunches. When D. picked me up at the Nanaimo ferry terminal, she was lovely but clearly older than her photos. And when we sat down for coffee, she admitted she wasn’t the 62 stated in her profile, but actually 71.

I understand why people fudge ages – they want to be included in dating site searches. But old photos are harder to forgive – mine are recent and dated – and D. avoided my questions about when they were taken. I didn’t belabour the point, and we talked amiably for almost four hours. In the end, it turns out she’s an atheist and I need a spiritual connection.

The spark of mutual attraction can be a blessing, but connecting at a distance can be a curse. It stretches the heartstrings so painfully tight. When you’re together it’s like you’re married, and when you’re apart you can’t even have a cup of coffee together.

Back in Vancouver this evening, my buddy Roni Rachmani took me out for a birthday dinner at Cazba, a bustling Iranian restaurant on Davie Street in the West End. Same place we went Christmas Eve after a movie. I enjoyed his good company, and dill rice with broad beans, a tender shank of lamb and a good glass of pinot noir.

Well, that’s Day 1 of Being 69. I don’t have much discipline for doing things on a daily basis beyond eating, sleeping and brushing my teeth. But your encouragement is very motivating – thank you.


 With Roni Rachmani at Cazba, a great birthday treat.