Thursday, Jan.28, 2016: The joy of publishing

Tonight I published the latest monthly edition of the Vancouver Cohousing Newsletter for our community, perhaps the last issue before we move in February into our 31-unit complex in East Vancouver on 33rd between Knight and Victoria Drive.

The newsletter is one of my newest babies in a lifetime of birthing publications. The absolute newest is this blog, Being 69, coming to you daily since Dec. 30, 2015. I have always loved every part of the process of publishing – the writing, photography, editing, design and production. Not so much the business side. I even had a comic strip, Wry Lines, for a while.

The cohousing newsletter is digital, created online with the MailChimp app. That’s a mind-blowing technological leap from the hot-lead era of 1964, when I was a 17-year-old first-year student at the University of B.C. editing the freshman newspaper The Odyssey. I was working with the president of the freshman class – Kim Campbell, later to become, briefly, Canada’s first female prime minister.

Hot lead refers to typesetting systems used in letterpress printing. Men known as compositors operated large, clanking devices with keyboards that cast lines of type out of molten metal consisting primarily of lead.

When I launched the first student paper, The Tartan, at the opening of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby in 1965 I went really simple using a mimeograph machine. Within two months there were three student newspapers. The surviving one emerged as The Peak, which embraced the phototypesetting technology called cold type. Machines generated text printed on photographic paper.

My next baby was Discovery Passage, a biweekly newspaper I started in 1970s hippie days on Quadra Island. We began with electronic stencilling, soon upgrading to cold-type paste-ups that we sent by bus to Port Alberni. They came back as printed newspapers.

Most of my working life was in daily newspapers. As well, over the years I’ve produced newsletters on a volunteer basis, most recently for the first two years of Limmud Vancouver, the festival of unexpected Jewish learning. The third edition of LimmudVan is this weekend and tickets are still available.

Earlier this evening, Yossi and Debbie Havusha came over with their son, a fellow fan of Canada’s No. 1 tennis star Milos Raonic, who plays at 12:30 a.m. Vancouver time Friday in the semi-final of the Australian Open against Andy Murray. Yossi produces Yossilinks, Vancouver’s online Jewish community, and Debbie blogs on the website. A recent post highly praised her experience at December’s Chanting & Chocolate. On the last Sunday of every month, the January event is this Sunday at Or Shalom at 7:30 pm. I get the word out with a digital newsletter.


That’s me, lower left, with the staff of my newspaper on Quadra Island in 1972.


Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016: Vancouver is so beautiful




With brilliant sunshine and a relatively balmy 7˚C (45˚F), it was a perfect day to stroll at Kitsilano Beach and take in the beauty of Vancouver’s natural setting. People were walking their dogs, shooting hoops, playing volleyball. On a day like today, Vancouverites’ collective amnesia is in full bloom: “Rain? What rain? I don’t remember rain.”

This is my hometown and I am pretty close to a native, having left Winnipeg at nine months old. I’ve lived on several continents, but have always considered Vancouver my home. The mountains, ocean, temperate climate, easy access to recreation, rich diversity, fellow “nuts and flakes” who have gravitated to the coast, and an attitude of “working to live,” rather than “living to work”.

This afternoon, further down the beach, hundreds of people were gathered by the water. I approached and asked what it was about. They were members of local Greek Orthodox churches celebrating the holy day Epiphany that commemorates the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist.

A sacred procession carried a cross to the water’s edge and, after prayers in Greek and English, it was tossed into the sea to symbolize the baptism. Several boys and men then jumped into the chilly water to recover the cross and bring it back to land.

It was a unique experience, enhanced by chancing to meet my old Greek-Canadian neighbours, Jim and Maria, from when we had our house in Point Grey. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up on our lives, especially our kids. I remember Jim and Maria had a bountiful fig tree with branches that reached over our back deck. Every year we looked forward to the sweet harvest.


The Greek Orthodox procession down the beach to the water’s edge.


Boys and men brave the chilly water to retrieve the cross.

This evening was another prayerful event. Or Shalom member Barry and his family were observing Erev Shloshim, which marks 30 days since Barry’s younger brother Ilan died at 58 in Capetown, South Africa. After an evening service, Barry and his two sisters told moving stories about their dear brother.

This morning I rolled out of bed to do my daily practice, which makes 10 days straight. Then I hopped on the treadmill desk and walked briskly while watching Canada’s No. 1 player Milos Raonic beat tennis legend Roger Federer in straight sets to win the championship of the Brisbane International in Australia. Using my subscription to, it was a video replay of the match that had started at 1 a.m. Vancouver time. Still, I cheered like it was live. A great beginning to 2016 for Milos.