Finding a Voice

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Story of Stuff

My cousin Michael is a farmer near in southeast Saskatchewan near the town of Wawota. Last week at Arlington Beach family camp, we had several thought-provoking conversations.

Michael and another cousin, Greg, along with Greg’s wife Cathy, are thinking hard about bio-friendly farming. Greg farms the land that his dad and my dad used to farm together. Recently he’s been wondering why the crops were so good 30-some years ago, but are not as good now. Cathy, not having a farm background and being a very thoughtful, inquisitive type, asks, “Well, what has changed?” So they’ve been investigating soil quality, additives, chemicals, and other factors involved in growing crops, and discovering troubling information. Michael has also been looking into and pondering things like land trusts and living in community.

The lifestyles most of us lead are not sustainable. What will it take to preserve and/or achieve sustainable living?

One of my intentional attempts to make a difference is through selling Norwex Enviro Products, specializing in microfiber mops and cloths, along with other environmentally friendly products. These products are sturdy and designed to be used over-and-over-and-over again, rather than single usage or becoming quickly obsolete.

Today I was looking for information on Norwex in other countries, and discovered The Story of Stuff, a fascinating educational cartoon by Annie Leonard. Just over 20 minutes long, it is both convincting and encouraging. We don’t have to helplessly lament the demise of environments and societies – we can get involved.

Watch it here: The Story of Stuff.

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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 1:14 AM 1 comments

You Can't Be Ugly In Comfortable Shoes

Last fall my brother Tom asked me to write a press release for his new show store – in exchange for a sweet pair of city-style hiking boots. I can attest that these boots kept me comfortable – and healthy – during long Fridays of standing up to proofread the newspaper. They were also warm enough to take me through the winter. And I never felt ugly with so many people admiring them!



October 30, 2007


Tom Taylor (of Stride Shoes in Kensington) has partnered with Mephisto to open Calgary’s second Mephisto Concept Store, located in Marda Loop. Owner Tom Taylor, with his wife Lori, watched Mephisto shoe sales “go up and up” in the past two years at their first store, Stride in Kensington. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to open a Mephisto shop,” Taylor comments, “because these shoes are the best quality in the world.”


Founded in France in 1965, Mephisto currently serves over 18,000 customers, exporting to 62 countries, with more than 660 Mephisto Concept Shops worldwide. Their main headquarters and factory are still in France, where their products are handmade with the finest materials and craftsmanship possible. The shoes feature innovative technology and unique construction methods to provide superior comfort and protection for walking on urban streets or rugged outdoor terrain.


In addition to shoes, Mephisto produces fashion wear and accessories such as sportswear; handbags, briefcases, and wallets; insoles, socks, laces, and upkeep supplies such as shoe-trees and shoe-horns.


Employee Leslie Hossack comes to the new Mephisto Concept Shop with over a decade in retail experience. This is her first foray into shoe sales, and after just one month (the grand opening was in September), Hossack is impressed. “A lot of people have been wearing Mephistos already,” she observes, “and they tend to stick with them.” A sign in the store reads, “We had back problems. Now we wear Mephistos.” Hossack affirms this: in addition to work that requires standing all day, she has had two back surgeries, “so I know I need to have a comfortable shoe.”


Mephisto customers understand that it’s not about looks and style anymore, it’s about comfort. That said, the styles are attractive. They are also adaptable; approximately half of the walking shoes have removable insoles for wearers with special footwear needs. 


One Mephisto style is the Niro by All-Rounder, a running shoe. The Pink version, called “Hope,” has a pink ribbon embroidered on the side, with a portion of its proceeds going to breast cancer. Velcro straps in heel and across the bridge make the shoe fully customizable. Tom Taylor wore these shoes in a race to support breast cancer research after a neighbour was diagnosed with the disease.


Customers can find the finest quality walking shoes at the Mephisto Concept Store on 33rd Avenue near Crowchild in the district of Marda Loop (just past the Esso station and next door to Wanderlust). This quaint area offers a variety of restaurants and retail outlets, with free parking in front, at the side, and a parking lot in the back.



Contact information:

Mephisto Concept Store

Owner: Tom Taylor

113-2205, 33rd Avenue SW

Calgary T2T 1Z9 

Tel: 403-249-9190 (office)

        403-607-8984 (cell)

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:00 AM 1 comments

Sunday, July 20, 2008

before the 4-Door Arts forum

On Friday, July 11th, seven of the artists involved with the 4-Door Arts Forum gathered in Duval to check out the spaces. We discerned that the former United Church would be the best space for the arts. "God showed up," said Margie McConnell after we had rushed outside to see and photograph the most incredible, complete double rainbow.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:37 PM 0 comments

4-Door Arts Forum

On Saturday, July 12th, eight artists gathered in Duval, SK for a 4-Door Arts Forum in which artists of all kinds gathered purposefully and spontaneously worshipped together through their various media.

The 4 doors represent "text, voice, music and visual art". The plan was to work along side each other in a neutral setting, experiencing and revealing the sounds and colours of heaven.

The key organizers of this forum were Steve and Leanne Epp, artists-in-residence at Lighthouse for All Nations Church in Regina. Together with their daughter Shea and friend Beryl, they form Kabod Artistry in Motion.

Artists at this event included Steve & Leanne Epp, Shea-Marie, Beryl Fournier, Margie McConnell, Myrna Peterson, and hosts Colleen Taylor and Jeffrey Taylor.

Everyone came on Friday to see and pray over the spaces. Beryl and Marie stayed overnight while the rest returned to Regina. On Saturday the old school where Jeffrey and I live was the central meeting-place and we borrowed the former United Church from Karen Gwillim for the Saturday forum. The church is across the back yard from the school ... which is a good thing, since it doesn't have plumbing!


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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 11:32 AM 0 comments

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Newschool Arts Open House

Annual Summer Open House at Newschool Arts

Jeffrey Taylor invites you to see his wares.
He has been expanding his business to include photography and videography.

Framed photos will be available for purchase

A viewing corner will feature some of his video projects from the past year.

He will give pottery demonstrations throughout the day.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:19 AM 0 comments

Friday, July 18, 2008

ARTICLE Farm education (CASS) programs extended

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 9:58 PM 0 comments

From one-room schoolhouse to doctorates

Last Mountain Times, July 22, 2008

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 9:53 PM 0 comments


In November 2007 I started working for the Last Mountain Times newspaper. Early in 2008, with a strong conviction that a local newspaper should make a difference in its community, a desire to get to know more about the area I had moved to, and a suspicion that our readers might also want to know more, I initiated a profiles project. My bosses, Lance & Vicki Cornwell, liked the idea, so I designed an introductory package: 1/2 page profile for a very small participation fee and 6 gift certificates for 10% off advertising. The price was barely break-even, but I wanted to create some momentum and reward the early-adopters.
So far I have done ten profiles:
Having received significant positive feedback, I hope to revamp the program in August and continue in September.

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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 8:07 PM 0 comments

PROFILE Newschool Arts: so much more than pottery

Perhaps this most recent profile is my favourite: Newschool Arts. Not just because it's my brother, but because I recently read that the best profiles are based on interviews about the person more than with the person. So I asked several people for their impressions of Jeffrey and was delighted to hear what they said. Funny enough, I didn't actually interview Jeffrey for the profile -- I went from my experience of knowing him all his life (he's younger) and of living with him these past months, added bits from quizzing other people, then had Jeffrey check the draft.

BUSINESS PROFILE A Last Mountain Times Advertising Feature
Newschool Arts: so much more than just pottery
July 22, 2008, page 8

 Jeffrey Taylor is so well-known as a potter that people are sometimes surprised to learn of his other diverse talents. The proprietor of Newschool Pottery in Duval, Saskatchewan made his acting debut this year, rediscovered his love of painting, and has been working hard at expanding his professional arts to include photography and video.
 Growing up in southeast Saskatchewan, Taylor’s family lived on a farm near Parkman in spring and summer, and in the town of Manor in winter. Like many prairie boys, Taylor played hockey, rode bikes, and explored the countryside. Early clues to Taylor’s creative genius were copious drawings, an animated cartoon, carpentry projects like a three-storey treehouse and a nook that transformed his bedroom into a studio, and a greenhouse operation that provided a source of income.
 Taylor took grade 12 as a boarding school student in Caronport. Here he fell in love with the craft that would define his life: pottery. After two years of post-secondary education at Briercrest Bible College, Taylor enrolled in the Fine Arts program at Red Deer College, majoring in pottery.
 Reluctant to limit himself to a single arts medium, Taylor spent a few years traveling in the States with a construction crew, then working for his brother in Vancouver, BC.
 In 1997 friends informed him that Duval’s old school was available for sale. By this time Taylor had recognized that establishing himself in pottery would later free him to branch out into other media. He purchased the building, which was actually a two-room schoolhouse and a one-room schoolhouse joined together. Putting his artistic flare and carpentry skills to work, the larger original school became his home and the one-room addition became his pottery studio.
 The old school transformed into a home is full of character, colour, and texture. Some of the old school maps and health posters acquired with the building hang on walls painted gold, leaf green, deep marine, and burgundy. Taylor constructed the front steps from railroad ties, gallery shelves from old timber and his dining table out of salvaged wood from an elevator leg. Massive triple-paned windows provide endless prairie sunlight and picturesque views, with a playground, farm fields, and the Last Mountain hills on the east side and two steepled churches on the west side.
 Neighbour, co-worker, and friend, Dennis Hodgins marvels at Taylor’s creativity. “Jeffrey could be creative in any medium if he wanted. Give him a pile of junk and he could create something out of it if he wanted.”
 Take sewing for an example. Hodgins recalls Hallowe’en parties at the old school, with Taylor “whipping up costumes” beforehand. “Jeffrey could take a heap of rags and make a Joseph coat out of it.” Of course, trick-or-treaters get pottery cast-offs.
 Taylor’s pottery has always been functional art. He serves up dishes for everyday use – plates, bowls, mugs, casseroles, butter dishes, sugar bowls, creamers. While he repeats uniform shapes and sizes, no two pieces are exactly alike. Unusual tools like gear wheels and syringes produce unique imprints, splotches and strokes. Taylor has worked especially hard to design dripless teapots with snug lids, handles for easy lifting, and a special hole in the lid for dangling a tea ball.
 “It’s interesting to watch people’s faces as they look at his work,” says Cheryl Wolfenberg, co-owner of Traditions Handcraft Gallery in Regina. “His work gets fondled a lot because of the textures.” Personally she adds, “When my husband and I go camping, we always take Jeffrey’s pottery. I’m sure I’m the only person in the campground with a full set of pottery.”
 Even so, not all of Taylor’s art has an everyday function. In experiments with setting stained glass in clay, the function is in the message: a ceramic mask (part of a juried show) reflects on judgmentalism; ceramic spaceship-shaped lamps with stained glass windows consider the relationship between religion and science; large pieces composed of smaller rounded shapes illuminated by mini-lights depict human cells with a variety of colours, evoking the Christian concepts of light and of the Church as the body of Christ.
 As an active artisan, Taylor has held memberships with several professional associations. He sat on the board of the Saskatchewan Craft Council for several years. With SaskTerra, he has enjoyed artistic community and professional development in raku and wood fired pottery.
 Taylor’s work can be found in several Saskatchewan venues: Traditions Handcraft Gallery in Regina, Silver Street Jewelers in Prince Albert and Saskatoon, The Comfort Zone in Strasbourg, and his own studio gallery, of course.
 Occasionally, Taylor has taught art classes for both adults and children. One class led to a contact that led to his involvement with a heritage project at Raymore School in 2008, funded by an ArtsSmart grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Taylor delighted in seeing the kids realize they could create something.
 Hospitality is one of Taylor’s gifts. He has hosted several creative retreats for college students, and he holds two or three open houses per year – Christmas, summer, and sometimes Mother’s Day.
 Gallery shows have given Taylor opportunities to hone his craft. Traditions’ Cheryl Wolfenberg praises his work as “always pushing the limits, yet always related to what he does in his everyday work with functional pottery. He takes the pressure of a gallery show and improves on it.”
 Wolfenberg continues, “The effort he puts into the gallery work has resulted in an extreme change in what he’s doing, whether he realizes it or not. With the first show he went from pale white and blue to soft greens and creams. With the second show he moved to more vivid green with touches of blue. With the third he arrived at exactly what he does now, vibrant green and blue.”
 As Taylor expands into photography and videography, he is especially drawn to the fields around Duval for photography and to Northern Saskatchewan for video. He desires to explore, preserve, and document that land. He has also used these skills for online pottery demonstrations, weddings, graduations, and the Last Mountain Times, and is the official photographer and videographer at Arlington Beach Camp.
 A non-exhaustive list of Taylor’s other artistic skills includes drawing, painting, carpentry, singing, guitar, harmonica, songwriting, and poetry. Drama has twice put Taylor on the front page of the Last Mountain Times. He is brilliant with computers and is mechanically inclined.
 In the wider community, Taylor is an active member of the Strasbourg Alliance Church, is on staff at William Derby School as an educational assistant and special needs bus driver, and is a member of the Duval Optimists. He likes to tease the ladies at bingo by calling non-existent numbers.
 He loves the outdoors and cares deeply about the underdog. Anyone who knows Taylor finds him creative and fascinating, generous and welcoming. Dreaming big dreams, Jeffrey Taylor continues moving forward.

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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 7:59 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

summer reading: One Smooth Stone

I heard Marcia Lee Laycock speak at Write! Saskatoon and picked up her novel at the book table. Parts of One Smooth Stone felt comfortable to me, set in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver and Seattle) and Canada (Vancouver and the Yukon). Yet it was the disturbing elements that kept me reading.

Why is Alex Donnelly living so far away from anywhere else? What is he hiding? What happened to his parents? How can a young person survive so much loss and grief, abuse and pain? Who, exactly, are these people helping him? How can any of the many tangled elements be resolved?

And the ending. Oh, the ending! I left me anxious for a sequel. So I wrote to Marcia with some of my questions (which I can’t list, because they’d spoil things for you). But I can tell you her answer about a next book:

“Yes, there is indeed a sequel in the works and I’m working on it now. Whether or not it is published depends greatly on how well the first book does, so please pray that the sales are strong and my publisher will agree to do the sequel.”

There’s another cliffhanger: sequel in the works depends on sales. Buy this book … and spur Castle Quay on to the next one.

Read the first chapter and download a trailer here.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 9:30 PM 0 comments

Whatever is true ...

God has been teaching me about spiritual warfare from a new angle. In his book, Spiritual Warfare Sideways, Guy Chevrau acknowledges the reality of Satan and demons, yet downplays it by emphasizing the supremacy of God in Christ.

The devil’s main tool is deception: misleading us about God and each other. If he can get us to turn against God, if he can pit us against other people, and if he can get us to hide from God and others, his deceptive strategies have worked.

Lately, I’ve been detecting how widespread this deception is. Friends tell stories about relationships gone all wrong. They blame the other people involved. I had that experience just today. Worse, we can question and blame God. God can handle our doubt, yet it doesn’t glorify him.

Guy Chevrau doesn’t recommend taking evil head-on, instead engaging God’s truth through basics like praise and discipline. Consciously cultivating fruit of the spirit is one key in shutting out the enemy: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.

Philippians 4:8 repeats inside me: “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV). Brian Doerksen set this verse to music, blending it with Hebrews 12:2: “Jesus you’re true, Jesus you’re right. Jesus you’re pure, you are lovely. We will fix our thoughts on you.”

Jesus is the light of the world (John 1:5-9); “in him there is no darkness at all” (1st John 1:5). It is crucial to declare truth in our lives, to claim God’s truth, nobility, rightness, purity, beauty in our situations. Bringing Christ’s light, empowered by the Holy Spirit, changes the very atmosphere around us. Concentrating on Jesus, who is the light, pushes back the darkness.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 8:19 PM 1 comments

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"new" piano

I have been given a piano! Mason & Risch with a nice tone.


This piano had been sitting in the back storage area of the newspaper building in Nokomis. It was there when Lance & Vicki took over the paper and supposedly someone was going to pick it up, but they didn’t even know who to expect, so after a year of waiting, they said I could have it!


Held a “piano moving party” on Sunday. Invited quite a few people from church for lunch first. We ate fresh pizza & some leftover sausages & hamburgers from a Wednesday BBQ. Made some phone calls then waited and waited for someone to call from Nokomis. People didn’t seem to mind hanging around and visiting, but I didn’t want to keep them waiting too long. Finally we (me and the 5 guys) got to Nokomis around 3:20. There’s a garage door into the storage area at the newspaper, so Alvin was able to back his flatbed trailer right up. The piano is on good casters, so they just rolled it along the cement floor, up the ramp, and onto the trailer.  Alvin also some good straps & winches, and Steve had grabbed 2 of the futon cushions Jeff & I had slated for the dump, so the piano was quite secure.


At home the guys cleared off the cement pad in front of our house and Alvin backed the trailer right up to the steps – a most amazing maneuver! The piano is on really nice casters, so it was quite easy to move into the house, too. And it’s so much prettier than I realized seeing it covered in plastic, cardboard, and dust in a dimly list storage garage. Winona documented the whole process with her camera. I’ll post pictures when she gets them to me.


The guys stood around talking outside afterwards and the women played and sang inside until everyone was ready to go.


I am so grateful …


posted by Colleen McCubbin at 8:42 AM 0 comments

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Every day is Saturday

My brother is finished school for the summer (he’s an educational assistant and drives the special needs bus for William Derby School in Strasbourg). Today – or tomorrow – he’s heading out to Arlington Beach to be their photographer/videographer for the summer camping season (about 5 weeks). I’ll be there for family camp in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I’ve got a few things to do.

  • Cleaning to get ready for Jeffrey’s annual Summer Open House on Thursday, July 24th. (Corresponds with family camp.)
  • Sorting my accumulation of papers from the past 10 months
  • Taxes! (I know, I’m late. But I don’t owe anything this year and don’t expect much back, if anything, so that kind of took the urgency out of it.)
  • Writing, writing, writing. I’m waiting for final confirmation of a book deal for Servants Anonymous Foundation. I’m also waiting final confirmation about presenting a paper at a conference on ecumenism in early September. And I have a couple of other book ideas which need proposals written. (If you’re thinking of writing a book, or pitching one to a publisher, I highly recommend How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen.)
  • Play my “new” piano. When my bosses, Lance and Vicki Cornwell, took over the newspaper in March 2007, there was a piano stored in the back area of their Nokomis building. Apparently someone is supposed to pick it up, but after more than a year of waiting and not even knowing who to expect, they told me I can have it. Just HAVE it! It’s a decent piano, in reasonable tune, with only one broken key on the bass end. So tomorrow I’ve got a crew of guys coming to move it after church.
  • Get into a new rhythm on this blog!!!

Gotta go!  




posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:30 PM 1 comments

Mango-Black Bean Salad

I love pulses (legumes) of all kinds. I also love tropical fruits and learned to know a good mango in Taiwan, where lived down the street from some guys who had a mango tree. (They buried my puppy under it one sad day.)

Last summer, I was delighted to find a recipe on the back of the label on a can of black beans. Can’t remember the brand – Classico? Co-op? Nevertheless, it was a lovely recipe. With summer here, I’m starting to crave yummy salad recipes. A quick internet search brought up several hits similar to the recipe I used last summer, with this one from Atkins being most similar, except I have never used cucumbers.

This salad is extremely flexible for adaptation. I didn’t have lime juice nor fresh lemons yesterday, so used bottled lemon juice. I had particularly juicy mangoes, so instead of orange juice I just squeezed the pit.   

·  1 seedless cucumber, washed and cut into 1/2" dice (about 2 cups)

·  1/2 of 1 medium mango, cut into 1/3" dice (about 3/4 cup)

·  1/2 cup drained and rinsed black beans

·  2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)

·  2 tablespoons orange juice (1/2 medium orange)

·  2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

·  1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (about 1 small pepper; see tip)

·  2 teaspoons granular sugar substitute

·  3/4 teaspoon salt

·  1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes for flavors to blend. Can be prepared up to a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving).

Find the original recipe here, with nutritional stats.  

These colours and flavours go nicely with chicken or pork.


I roasted a chicken yesterday in a covered pan. Used the oven’s convection setting and thought it might cook in about ½ the regular time, but it wasn’t ready before I had to leave for the evening, so my brother took it out. He informed me this morning that one should cook meat UNcovered when using convection heat. Oops.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:14 PM 0 comments