A soldier’s voice

Tim Isberg. Visualz photo, Isberg website.

He was supposedly the warm-up act. He was Tim Isberg, a singer-songwriter from Fort Macleod, Alberta. And I was supposedly the main event, offering a talk about veterans’ stories, and how I came by them. But, as I sat there waiting for Isberg to finish his set, I was mulling over a problem in my head. I wasn’t quite sure where to start my presentation. Suddenly, I paid attention to what Isberg was singing.

“Listen to the voice,” he sang in a calming sort of way. “Listen to the voice calling me … calling you.”

Who is on the dark side?

Press releases by the thousands flow daily between public relations people and journalists who use them as research for news stories.

I recently took a call from a Humber College student. She asked if I was a working journalist. When I informed her that I both wrote and taught, she asked if I could help her with an essay she was researching. In her studies, one of her instructors had directed her to answer this question:

“Can public relations people get along with journalists? And conversely, can journalists get along with PR people?”

“It depends,” I told her on the phone.

From small town ideas

Lancaster in front of Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta.
Lancaster in front of Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta.

I had hardly oriented myself to the place. Wood smoke from the recent B.C. fires had left Nanton, Alberta – a small prairie town south of Calgary – in a palpable haze. Nevertheless, aviation enthusiast Karl Kjarsgaard, who lives and volunteers there, had something he wanted to show me. Inside the newly renamed Bomber Command Museum of Canada, he led me to a storage area above the workshop. He opened a cardboard box and pulled out a metal bar about 18 inches long.

“This aluminum ingot has Canadian blood in it,” he said. “There’s 1,400 pounds of melted down aluminum in this box… and some of it is about to become famous.”

The spirit of writing

It was a reverent moment. Our host entered. We had all enjoyed our first meal in the dining hall together, while on the wall over our shoulders a painting depicted Christ and the apostles at The Last Supper. Our host – a middle-aged monk – apologized that not all seven Franciscans normally resident there could be present; two of them – men in their late 80s – had recently been moved to hospital for elder care, he said. Nevertheless a younger 70-ish Brother Dominic bid us welcome.

Brother Dominic
Brother Dominic

“We are brothers of prayer,” he said. “But we welcome you here to St. Michael’s, your home away from home.”