Finding a Voice

Monday, January 28, 2008

three foxes in winter

foxes flowing
running red
skimming snow

*A simple little poem, much like William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow." I was driving the 10 km to Strasbourg from Duval, vigilantly watching for deer, when a fox ran east across the highway, followed by another, with a third still on the west side of the highway, but in hot pursuit. They were such a lovely red, and their movement was mesmerizingly smooth, like rapids over river rocks, or a ribbon in the hand of a rhythmic gymnast. Such small, quick, and graceful creatures.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 3:49 PM 4 comments

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

upcoming event

I've been updating my Indieheaven site and website: new bio, new event, new profile pictures.

I've got an event coming up at the end of February. The information will be available on either of my sites above. And, of course, it's right here:

Event: A Celebration of Life
Date: Saturday, February 23rd

A fantastic evening of the arts to support OptionS Pregnancy Centre in Regina. There will be an art show, silent auction, musical performance, and tasty refreshments. I'm one of six performers. My brother Jeffrey is one of the artists donating to the silent auction.

Location: Western Christian College (formerly Canadian Bible College), 100-4400 Fourth Avenue, Regina.

Advance tickets: $15
Door cost: $20

I have a few tickets at $12. Contact me if you're interested. First come, first served.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 4:20 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

1000 word Tuesday

I didn't count the number of words I wrote--or, more accurately, rewrote--at the newspaper office today. My intended routine is to work Wednesday through Friday at the newspaper, with Mondays for housework and Newschool Arts responsibilities, and Tuesdays for my personal writing. Intended, because (a) this is a new plan for a new year, and (b) I've barely had time to settle into it. This week my co-worker, Linda, is in Mexico (I hope she's warmer than I was in California!), and I'm holding down the fort, which means working an extra day at the office this week. That day would be today. Tuesday.

Linda's absence also means that I will represent the paper at a meeting tomorrow evening. One more evening gone. I'm not complaining about the extra paid hours. I'm just acknowledging what's happening to my time this week.

So, words written at the newspaper do count for something. Except that I didn't actually count them up. Not an oops. Just a fact.

Jeffrey is editing video from a wedding he videographed. He'd like to watch one of the movies that arrived today from, all foreign. I'd like to watch with him. Don't know if either of us will actually get to watch, but it's a thought, isn't it?

What I am going to do is write for 15 minutes and see how many words end up on the page--or screen, as is the case here.

I am also going to try to ignore my poor, wounded nose for 15 minutes. Poor and wounded after a weekend of warring with a cold or a flu that kept me bed-ridden and miserable in almost every physical way. That's something else that happened to my time this week. I had hoped to be in Weyburn with my cousin Marilou. Instead I was home, sick. But it was just over 48 hours of complete incapacitation. I did every natural thing I could think of to take that nasty bug by the hand and usher it through and out of my body as quickly as possible: liquids, lots of liquids, fortified by yummy things like glyconutrient powder, freeze-dried fruits and veggies, cayenne pepper, garlic capsules, vitamins & minerals, antioxidants, onion soup, Epsom salt baths, etc., etc. Seems to have worked. The worst is over. So far so good.

I don't think Jeffrey and I are going to watch a movie together. His eyes are red and bleary ...

... and I came back from a phone call. I know, a hardline approach to accomplishing a writing goal would say don't answer the phone, but it was my sister, I've been waiting to hear from her for a few days, and it's late in the evening, so it was either talk to her or put it off for who knows how many more days. So Jeff and I both talked to her on speaker phone, then he went to bed and I kept talking to her, and now I need to go to bed, too. I'm not going to make any apologies for not writing a full, countable 1000 words today. This was an unusual Tuesday as Tuesdays are supposed to go in my world. The point today is that along with everything else to be done, I made a point of writing something. 555 words. Half. Sometimes you just have to say, "Good enough."

And good night. 569.

Sleep tight. 571.

Don't let the bedbugs bite. 576.

If they do, take your shoe, 579,

And hit them 'til they're black and blue. 590.

Enough. 591.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:24 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Loyalty Rewards

Last weekend I needed to buy gasoline, so considered pushing the tank until my trip to Regina on Sunday afternoon: I like to collect Aeroplan miles at Esso. But my conscience nudged me to stop at Digger's instead, Strasbourg's gas station, and the only one for about 50 km in either direction. Suddenly it hit me: Digger's may not give travel miles or product points, but there's a huge loyalty reward in buying local: it helps them stay in the community. The Diggers owners attend our church, so I mentioned this to them. It was good timing--they were a bit frustrated at people complaining about the price of gas.

The same "buy local" principle applies to other businesses, like grocery stores, credit unions, co-ops, hardware, building supplies, contractors, stationery and computer supplies, etc., etc. If they're actually doing good business (not just taking advantage of rural isolation), then our business is their reward. And by doing business with them, we cash in on the loyalty reward: keeping them local and viable. Sure their prices might be equal to or higher than big box-store costs, but they can't get the same volume discounts as big stores. And really, considering that we don't have to drive and park in the city and figure the price of gas, we may find we are saving in other ways, too.

I'm doing a project for the Last Mountain Times, the newspaper I work for. The project will be to use Wendell Berry's rules for sustainable local community as a conversation starter with local businesses, asking them which principles they're already practising, which ones they see other people using, which ones they want to see more of, etc., etc. Based on those conversations I (and possibly another staff member) will develop a series of articles profiling local businesses, emphasizing the kinds of things Berry promotes. This is the week to develop the project and next week to launch it. Looking forward to finding out more about how people think, and helping our communities ponder why and how we do what we do with and for our neighbours.


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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:04 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

new bio for websites?

Tuesday is writing day. I write and work with words every day, especially at the Last Mountain Times newspaper, but Tuesday is to be particularly dedicated to writing at least 1000 new words ... and maybe a song. If I can do that just once a week, perhaps it will prime the pump for the rest of the week.

Last week I wrote this bio to introduce myself on a network I've joined. I'm thinking of posting it as my official bio on my websites: and WHAT DO YOU THINK? Please share your feedback as a comment or HERE:

I've always been musical--grew up in a musical family, started singing, playing piano, and writing songs early, picking up other instruments along the way (clarinet, guitar, penny whistle, small percussion). Did a lot of music in college & grad school, including touring groups.

Even so, music was always a nice sideline, a hobby. My career was in higher education. Recorded a CD of my own songs in 2000--just for posterity, as I thought I was going to China (for the 5th time) to teach English.

Didn't get back to China. Instead, quit my day job--teaching & admin at a Christian college--to finish an MA thesis and reorient towards a career in ... the arts! Spent the year writing, and preparing things like mission statement and website (, joining sites & groups like Indieheaven, doing some local performing. Had a casual job on the side to help pay the bills. Suddenly in August 2007 I realized that the next 4 months were wide open, so went on a house concert tour in Sept & Oct, driving across three western provinces and flying to Ontario. Exhausting but exhilarating and worthwhile. Got in on the GMA Canada conference in Calgary at the end of the tour--inspiring, educational regarding the business & ministry of music, especially 3 out of the 5 workshops with Steve Bell ( Love that guy!

While on tour the Lord revealed the next season: living with my brother Jeffrey (professional potter & photographer, & helping with his arts business. Gives me space for my own artistic pursuits in music and writing, including a part-time job at the local weekly newspaper!

I'm starting to plan regular weekend concerts. My message and mode is "SIng RElease TO NAtions" (Siretona), which includes worship/spiritual warfare and social justice: I sing about making a global difference, teaching about and offering ways to do that. Instead of t-shirts I sell fairly traded coffee and fruit (, with 50% of proceeds going to Servants Anonymous' Cups of Care program ( to help them get their training materials online.

Note: 50 percent of proceeds is $1 - $2 per pound of coffee. Let me know if you want some coffee for your office, church, or home. It's the same coffee as Ten Thousand Villages carries.

I've been blogging my journey:

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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 11:31 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Making Ready, Reviewing the Old Year

Tonight's goal was to set up and install the shelves that Jeffrey and I brought back from Spiritwood: some in the closet, hutch for my desk (table), and headboard for the bed. Then there's supervising the gnomes I've recruited to help clean the kitchen, bathroom, and floors.

Okay ... so there aren't any gnomes. Just me. Jeff is out at a New Year's Eve party while I, having had more than enough parties before Christmas, have elected to stay in this evening. Tonight is about physical and internal housekeeping. For the internal part, I pause to look back on the past year.

One year. Feels like 2007 actually stretches all the way back to July 2006 when I quit my day job at Briercrest. I took one year off to finish one project, my thesis, and discern direction for the next season.

- Health problem--cysts--finally resolves. Much relief. Good to have my energy return.
- Lots of training shifts with Spiritwood's homecare office.
- Work on the thesis.

- Continue to work on the thesis
- A few shifts at homecare office
- Help deliver singing telegrams with my mom as a fund raiser for the nursing home on Valentine's Day. Make front page news with it--twice!

- Birthday!
- Still writing.
- Sing with Mom at the Grand Ol' Country weekend in Spiritwood.
- Search and apply for lots of jobs.

Final cram to finish the thesis. Get sick in the last days.
- Defended thesis successfully on Monday the 9th. Mom came with me.
- Interview at a small Christian college. It seems like such a good fit, love the school and they seem to love me, but we can't agree on one key doctrinal point, so I don't get the job. Confused. Wonder what's next.

- Present paper at Research in Religious Studies Conference in Lethbridge, AB.
- Attend and facilitate CACSD Conference in Calgary, AB.
- First house concert in Red Deer, AB. Good experience. Want to do it again.

Home in Spiritwood. A few shifts at homecare.
- Planted some herbs, especially excited about stevia, spearmint, basil, and lavender.
- Have a quiet month.

- Second house concert in Medicine Hat, AB. Another good experience.
- Sing at The House, coffee shop in Calgary.
- Several shifts at homecare office.

- Lots of shifts at homecare.
- Realize it's time to go on tour ... start emailing people
- Realize it's time to say good-bye to my cats. Have a good cry. Take them to a farm near Spiritwood. (Apparently Delilah has disappeared. Sigh.)
- Final revisions on thesis. Drive to Caronport in the last week to consult with proofreader and submit it to the print shop. Forget my USB stick in Mom's computer. Panic for a moment, but Canada Post comes through with overnight delivery from Spiritwood to Caronport!

- Plan for house concert tour.
- Set out on tour September 15th. Drive to BC, stopping along the way to sing and/or visit.
- Feel like something new is going to happen in November. Don't know what. Pray about it ...

- Touring, touring, touring. Delightful, exhausting, exhilarating. So many lovely reunions with old friends and introductions to new ones.
- Praying about the next step for November.
- Thanksgiving weekend, my brother Jeffrey invites me to live with him and help with his arts business: pottery and photography.
- Attend CACSD executive meetings in Ontario; take guitar for a couple of house concerts.
- Attend GMA Canada (Gospel Music Association) conference in Calgary, attend 3 of 5 workshops by Steve Bell. Learned much.
- Final house concert is in Caronport--fitting and nostalgic.
- Hallowe'en: arrive in Duval, hand out candy and pottery seconds.

- Rest on the 1st, apply for job at newspaper (Last Mountain Times) on the 2nd, get the job on the 3rd, start the job on the 6th! Supposed to be 2 days a week, but it's Christmas rush so end up working 3.
- Help Jeffrey get ready for Open House on the 10th: cleaning, pricing pottery, cleaning.
- Sing at the Open House.
- Invited to join a worship team at
Strasbourg Alliance Church.
- As with touring, all this adjustment and orientation is exhausting and exhilarating.
- Take my "free" trip to California to see friends Jean and Becky. Take only carry-on luggage, a good book, and my journal. Good to be unencumbered and not responsible for anything.

- The newspaper's proofreader resigns, so I'm called in for another day per week, making it four now. Glad for the hours and the experience.
- Help prepare for Christmas pottery sales.
- Sing at a Ladies' Night at the Pentecostal Church in Imperial, SK.
- Involved in Christmas events at Strasbourg Alliance Church.
- 23rd - Jeffrey and I go to Spiritwood until the 28th. Just the single siblings with Mom and Dad for Christmas--Jeffrey, Starla and me. The Christmas feast table is filled out with Grandma and Mom and Dad's international boarders (two from Mexico, three from the Philippines).
- Work three days at homecare--last ones. Feel wistful.
- Meet Dominique of Servants Anonymous Foundation. Feel sure this is a divinely orchestrated introduction ...
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 1:18 AM 0 comments