Special House, Special People in Paamul Mexico

“You must visit Lise and Virginia’s house in Paamul,” said several Paamulites when they learned of my interest in wildlife, especially raccoons and coatimundis. “All kinds of jungle birds and animals come to their backdoor.”

It was their house that intrigued me most. On the outside it was like all the others in this small community of 400 people, a palapa house, its roof covered with drooping thatch on all sides.  Beside it, their trailer was also covered with a roof of thatch. Aswas Sue, their neighbour’s trailer. Not that you’d recognize them as trailers or caravans as RVs were called in my youth spent in one in Australia. I walked through an arched door into Sue’s home and it was as luxurious as a Victorian parlour.

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Paamul: A Little Bit of ‘Oz in Mexico

Once upon a time on a beach Down Under a couple of days before I was to leave my home in Western Australia by boat to fulfill a childhood dream of living in London, my boyfriend said, “This is the last time you’ll see a beach like this. I bet some day you will miss these long miles of powdery white sand that run for hundreds of miles along our coast with sand dunes behind, clear emerald water in front, and the reef beyond.”

Athol was right.

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Prayers of the People: St. Philip’s by the Sea- December 17, 2017

Christina Lee, a Christian blogger, calls this day in our Christian calendar, “Stir Up Sunday”. She quotes these words from the Book of Common Prayer – “Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us.”

Stirring up power and getting rid of the Romans was what the Jews 2000 years ago were expecting from their Messiah. Instead, they got Jesus Christ, a Baby born in a lowly stable manger one silent night in Bethlehem, in Palestine.

As Naim Ateem, a Christian priest and the Chair of the Sabeel organization that guided me in Palestine, writes in his Christmas message from Jerusalem, “There is something about a Baby with his mother in a humble setting that STIRS within us deep thoughts and feelings of faith, hope and love, the 3 essential qualities of our Christian life.”

This is Stir up Sunday. Let us pray.

After the words Dear God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit,

Please respond with Hear our prayers.

Dear God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit,

Hear our prayers.

We thank and praise you today for the miracle of your Son’s birth on that first Christmas in Bethlehem. Thank you for the Angel’s announcement of Good News and Great Joy.

Thank you for giving us the assurance that because you came to us in the form of a human, we who believe in Jesus can know with certainty that we will spend eternity with You.

Dear God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit

Hear our prayers.

 During a time of the year filled with many traditions, many distractions, help us to put You first, help us to emphasize the Christ in Christmas, the Holy in our Holiday. Help us to obey John’s call to “Make straight the way of the Lord”, help us to follow your Light with Love, Hope, Joy – and Peace.

When the world around us is spinning out of control, Lord, use our hands, our minds, our hearts, our voices, to bring peace to our homes, our churches, our countries.

Dear God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit

Hear our prayers

Father in Heaven, let there be no reason, no appetite for Apartheid in Israel, or Days of Rage in Bethlehem, the land of Jesus’s birth. Use us to help quell fear and the desire for power on one side that leads to anger and despair on the other. Weaken the voices of those who preach hate. Strengthen those who show love. Help us to help all people find peaceful solutions to share God’s Holy Land.

Dear God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit

Hear our prayers.

 And as many of us revel in the closeness of family, friends and neighbours around us at this Christmas time, let us pray for those who are not so lucky, those who are alone, in prison, in hospital, in grief for lost ones – whatever the reason.

Dear God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit

Hear our prayers

And as we sit or stand around laden tables at this time of plenty, let us give thanks for what we have and pray for those who have not – people in countries like Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Niger, Chad, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and so many more. What words can we use? What ways can we help? Guide us to make the right decisions. Let the Good News and Joy of our Saviour’s birth give us fresh energy to tackle such never ending problems.

Dear God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Hear our prayers.

And as we lounge in our comfortable homes, let us pray for those who have no homes – because of human hands, war, poverty, persecution, theft, or natural disasters – wildfires, earthquakes, floods.

We think especially of nearly 700,000 Rohinga Muslims who were forced to flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh as their homes and fields were set on fire, their women raped and their children shot.

Let us pray for those who came to help, please change the minds of those who did not.

Lord Jesus, we need you more than ever.

This morning, suicide bombers climbed the high locked wire fence of a Methodist Church in Pakistan, attacked and killed worshippers, mostly women and children.

This morning when we came to our Anglican church, St. Philip’s by the Sea in our quiet little village of Lantzville on Vancouver Island, we found a car parked outside the door. A young woman lay inside a car – calm and still – the ambulance was called, the first responders tried to resuscitate her, again and again, finally she was pronounced dead. Much later the RCMP would come.

I do not yet know the end of this story. But as most of us left to start our morning service and me to begin the Prayers of the People, I wondered if this woman had lost all hope in this world and a believer or not, a Christian or not, she had sought out a church as her last resort.

Stir up Your power, O Lord, come amongst us to proclaim your message of Love not Hate, of Hope and Joy when there seems little else.

Dear God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Hear our prayers.

And finally, while we worship in this holy place (or read these words), let us take a moment, either silently or aloud, to talk to Him personally of what concerns us most as His Birthday approaches.


Dear God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit,

Hear our prayers. AMEN.

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Canada now has roads that link Coast to Coast to Coast, Sea to Sea to Sea.

Today is the opening of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk all-weather road to the Arctic Ocean and I wish I was there.

I wish I was in the official motorcade, leaving the stunted spruce trees of the boreal forest around Inuvik, watching trees get shorter and smaller till there are no trees at all, passing the pingo pyramids, winding around the myriad lakes splashed on the tundra till we reach the sea and dip our toes in the Arctic Ocean, the goal of most tourists when they finally arrive in Tuktoyaktuk. Continue reading

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Prayers of the People: St. Philips by the Sea

What is happening in our world today? This is the context for this week’s Prayers of the People.

The memory of countries fighting other countries for power in World War 1 and 11.

The current reality of groups fighting other groups in the name of religion in Africa and the Middle East, ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, the threat of a nuclear war in Asia and beyond.

Individual people fighting their own wars at a concert theatre, along a busy boulevard, on a bridge, at an airport, in a mosque – in a church.

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes, wildfires, crop failures, famine … at a level seldom seen before.

Are these the Last Days prophesied by the Bible? Is this the hand of Satan?

“Keep awake,” Jesus told his disciples. “for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

In such circumstances, Paul asks us to encourage one another with God’s promise, and the hope of our resurrection in Christ.

Healing divisions, seeking reconciliation with God, our families, our neighbours, our countries, is never more urgent than today.

What can we do? Where can we go for help?

Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” He is real. He is waiting for us.

On this day, one day after Remembrance Day, I want to tell you a vivid childhood experience that I have shared with very few for fear of being ridiculed, but which has had an impact on my life ever since.

When I was eight years old and in Australia, I had a vision. I was waiting in the vestibule for a bath between the washhouse where we boiled water over an open fire and the bathroom. My father slipped and dropped a big tub of scalding hot water over my naked body.

As I sat crying on the table, unable to stand, waiting to be taken to hospital, a bright shining light lit up a dark corner of the vestibule and I saw an angel dressed in glowing white just like the angels in my Sunday School books. I cannot remember any words but I thought I was going to Heaven right then and there. I felt safe. Now 72 years later, when times are tough, that vision reappears in my memory. I know that God is real.

In our Prayers of the People today, let us realize our own visions of the Living Christ standing here in the midst of us, offering His help for our problems whatever they may be.”

After the words, LORD OF PROMISE AND TRUST, please respond with LET US SEEK AND REJOICE IN YOU.


O God, Almighty and All-Knowing, make haste to help us in these days of anger, jealousy, power-seeking, distressing political turmoil, distrust in one another, and increasing violence. Send Your Holy Spirit to breathe through us with peace, courage, understanding and hope for a better world.

Give us and our leaders, the words and the actions to inspire all who hold power on our planet, in our nation and home towns, to turn the weapons of today into tools of justice, righteousness, harmony and stability. We pray especially for leaders in the United States, China,

Russia, Europe, Canada, South Korea – and especially North Korea – to make the right decisions for all of us.



O God, Almighty and All-Knowing, as our hearts weep with those who mourn, here and around the world, help us to find and extend consolation to others in Your faithful assurance of life everlasting. We pray especially for the people of Texas and those still reeling with the recent absence of loved ones in our own community.



O God, Almighty and All-Knowing, grant our spiritual leaders the purity of heart, the wisdom of Christ, and the strength of faith to guide our soul journeys toward Your Eternal Kingdom. We pray especially for our rector and all rectors, for our bishops, our missionaries, for our doctors, nurses and aid workers, for the people of our parishes who share money and time to serve others, at home and abroad.



O God, Almighty and All-Knowing, comfort all who suffer serious physical or emotional pain, or desperate life circumstances, we each know someone in need – we name them now in our hearts – give us the willingness and the tools to help them where and when we can. Use our hands to do Your work.



O God our Source, our Saviour, our Destination, grant us the will, the wisdom, and the inner peace to rise each day to face our fears, decry injustice, and keep our souls awake and alert for the unknown day and hour when we will have a new joy-filled life with You. We ask this through Jesus, our Coming Christ, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate, who, together with You, reign as One God, in heaven, on earth, and beyond all time and space.


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The Eagles Are Renovating Their Back Yard Nest Again!

BOOKS BEGIN IN BACKYARDS is the title of one of my public presentations and reflects a lifetime of writing and taking pictures of what I see in my own backyard, literally, or what happens to me personally. Get close to your subject. Write what you know best. This has been my mantra for many years.

I could spend my days just staring out the windows that line the back of my home here on Nanoose Bay as I have spent past years staring out the window onto Mill Bay, the Mackenzie River, and in years past, Island View Beach. I have published stories titled The World at My Window and books about life in my various backyards close to civilization like There’s a Seal in my Sleeping Bag, Gypsy in the Classroom and Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon, or far away places such as There’s a Raccoon in my Parka or Winging it in the North. Continue reading

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Where Eagles Swim

This is a rare classic from the 1960s. Wildlife biologist David Hancock and his wife Lyn set out to study bald eagles and other wildlife. Their work was followed worldwide and films like “Where Eagles Swim” were screened for sell-out audiences. Continue reading

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Kneeling is Healing


Happy Thanksgiving Day and Harvest Festival Friends and Family! It was my turn to do “Prayers of the People” when we came together at Church on Sunday to give thanks to God for all his gifts –  especially the miracle of life seen in what can be harvested from a single seed or bulb.

Today or tomorrow, our tables will be laden with bounteous food which we will share with our families and friends in peace in the comfort of our homes.

We thank God truly for these blessings.But I have had trouble writing the prayers of the people this week.

Where was God during these past weeks of madness, hate, mental illness and violence, of massacres, floods and hurricanes, of ethnic cleansing of one people and their religion by another, of so much devastation in so many countries, of so many threatening words and provocative actions from world leaders that could lead to the end of our wonderful planet.

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Getting Away From It All in Sarteneja


Winching yourself by hand on a ferry across two rivers is a unique way of getting to Sarteneja from Corozal

After what happened to me on my first day in Belize (see my recent blog BETWEEN TWO BULLETS IN BELIZE) I escaped to my computer in Sarteneja, a remote Mayan-Mestizo village on the Caribbean Sea, close to Mexico. In Belize I live in a simple, humble, ‘home-made’ but strikingly coloured turquoise house, a construction project which is a story in itself. It shows what can be done with little money, scarcely any tools other than a hammer and a machete, and a lot of ingenuity and improvisation. Continue reading

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Eagles in my Backyard

Two days now and the nest tree in my backyard is empty. No chirps, no chitters, no squeals. No longer are the parent eagles winging over my lawn with long fish hanging from their talons and landing on the nest to feed their young. It is the first day of August and they must have finally left for the salmon spawning now in northern rivers. How I would love to tag along with them and see how Junior is managing to find its own fish.  I may never see Junior again but I am sure that come fall the parent eagles will be back with brush to renovate their nest for the next spring season.

I remember last October sitting at my kitchen table and seeing an adult eagle flying by with a long branch of dry broom hanging from its talons. I grabbed my point and shoot and happily snapped a picture of the Eagle Witch on her broomstick at Hallowe’en. Continue reading

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