Dragon Glyph from The Book of Beasts

As I was working on the editing of The Book of Beasts, I was also working on some small wood and lino-cuts, wanting to continue my tradition of publishing visual art in my books. The book designer found a real medieval tile for the book cover, and this little dragon went between the pages.

We were also on sabbatical. My husband thought it would be great to live in an 8x29ft travel trailer through a Rainy British Columbia winter with our two children, then five and two.

The only thing he was worried about was turning the thing off the road, through the narrow entrance to our bit of old-growth forest.

What I worried about was living in an 8x29ft travel trailer through a rainy British Columbia winter with two children.

We spent a month getting there, travelling through Saskatchewan and Alberta, but in September, we got a rental house.

This was the winter of the pineapple express, storms whipped up from Hawaii, high on global warming.

During the first storm, I had run inside after hearing the crack and impact of trees falling in the forest. I watched one tree that seemed to keep falling over, but kept snapping back up again. I backed away from the window when I saw the top of another tree appear above me, having fallen on our house from the other side. The next morning, after the winds had calmed, we went out to see power lines down between every pole in the area, old growth trees down, and one woman’s shed jacked 6 feet in the air on the root-ball of a fallen tree. The tree on our rental house was a relatively small one, but was attached to the root-ball of an old growth of about 4 feet in diameter that had fallen right beside the house.

It looked like some sort of angry monster had smashed through the neighborhood – why not a dragon? When something bad happens, people naturally search for someone to blame rather than a disembodied force.

During that storm, tornadoes had been sighted by many, including our Kansas neighbor, who knew what she was talking about. I began to wonder if my feeling of unease among the trees and the mountains had something to do with not being able to see the weather coming, like in Saskatchewan – also a place where people have basements to hide in.

The second storm was forecast to follow the same path. Without power or running water, with a 2 ½ year-old who had just decided to stop wearing diapers, but hadn’t yet decided that making her way to the potty was always a good idea, we decided to become refugees and fled to a friends house two islands away.

The storm turned south instead, and smashed down Stanley Park, but it was a week before our electricity returned.

Winter ended eventually. We were thrown out of the rental house at the beginning of June to make room for tourists, and went back into the trailer.

The whole thing rocked and shook when the kids jumped up and down. There was a permanent bruise on my thigh where I kept bashing into the edge of the banquette, and every time I raised my arm to dress or undress, I hit my knuckles on the ceiling.

At first I thought it was like being attacked, but it was more like after being attacked — like being digested in the hard splinter-cornered, hollow-core, plywood gullet of a wrong-side-of-the-tracks, trailer-park of a nightmare, its gas stove reeking and belching flames.

After six weeks, with a feeling of great joy, we sold it.

Now, every time we see a big trailer rolling down the highway, we yell in disgust and make the sign of the cross that’s supposed to ward off vampires and other evils, so much do we still hate the grey and black water-guts of our once-upon-a-time beast.


The Encyclopedia of Mummies, Bob Brier.

A-Z. I must be a real nerd.

Payback, Margaret Atwood.

City of Darkness, City of Light, Marge Piercy.

Villette, Charlotte Brontë.

The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

The Wisdom of Psychopaths – Kevin Dutton

Masquerade: Dancing Around Death in Nazi-Occupied Hungary, Tivadar Soros

The Rose Café, John Hanson Mitchell

Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius, A. C. Grayling

The Evolution of God, Robert Wright.

An almost 500 page book, and nowhere does the author address the evolution of the Western idea of God from anything other than a male perspective.

The God Effect: Quantum Entanglement, Science’s Strangest Phenomenon, Brian Clegg

You don’t have to be hippy or new age or religious-minded to be at one with the universe. It’s not only photons that behave like waves, as proven in the double slit experiment. They’ve been shooting large molecules (Buckminster Fullerine) at those slits, too, and getting waves of probability. This means matter is also a wave, and everything has a presence everywhere in the probability cloud of existence.

Next, scientists are going to start firing life forms at the double slits: viruses.

The probability of us is everywhere.

And coming soon, I’m sure, the common cold, which everyone already knew was everywhere.

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