NEW book by Michèle Allaire-Rowan

My friend Michèle has had an interesting life.

Born in France, she’s spent a lot of time in England, Germany, Ireland and Canada.

A professional translator, she’s studied the language and culture everywhere she’s been. Also FOOD.

Now she’s written and recorded part 1 of her story. I recommend the audio version as Michèle reads it herself.

Crossing Borders and Cultural Divides is set in Europe in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, a time when it became easier to cross European borders and settle in another country.

It is based on my life growing up in a French village, then working in England, and finally discovering Germany. Numerous details and characters allow the listener to understand the difficulties of learning a language and appreciate another culture enough to be able “to feel at home” in another country.

Tradition, wine, and oysters?

Rock ’n’ roll, tea, and fish and chips?

Or politics, beer, and sausages?

… Can she follow her heart for the English language and embrace an outlandish culture in Britain?

Or can she simply follow her adventurous streak and check out the intense culture, which is prevalent in Germany?

Can she take roots in a foreign environment?

Will she ever be able to bridge the cultural divides?

The book jumps forward and backward in time, starting with her first flight as a 15-year-old. To Beatlemania England. Her British pen friend there was already on the Pill, recently introduced.

You can buy the book on Amazon.

A few years younger than Michèle, I was touring Europe with friends in an orange Volkswagen van in 1976 while she was motoring around the continent with a boyfriend.

The book ends abruptly in 1976. I want more. Happily, Michèle is already working on a second volume.


Sept. 1990

rick_mugWhen I wrote this I had just moved from Calgary to Saskatoon, the summer of 1990 — expecting to stay 1 year.  I ended up staying 10 years. 

I was a tourist in Saskatchewan.

I drive home alone from Saskatoon to Calgary, in September, in the late afternoon. I take the smaller, stair-casing highways, speeding with impunity. There seems to be no R.C.M.P. left in Saskatchewan.

I drive through towns with great names like Bounty, Wartime and Conquest. Who got to name these places?

The prairies are a never ending stream of checkerboard fields, barns, churches, cows, dust-devils, road kill and ponderous, overloaded farm trucks. The heat rises off the roadway and seems to evaporate the mirage pools of water before I can enjoy splashing through them. The smells are … well, unique to the Prairies. And I never knew there were so many hawks in all of the world.

Grand daddy grasshoppers wing by as big as birds. Slower, less experienced insects splatter my windshield. The freshly oiled gravel roads splatters my car as well, but I don’t care.

I stop at Outlook, Saskatchewan and sit out in the middle of a sandbar in the middle of the Old Man River. The air is calm, the sun is smoking and the song in my head is called …

I never believed that I’d grow old.

The sandbar is the highlight of the drive. Glorious. The last day of the longest summer of my life. I wish it would never end.

If I could make a wish,
I think I’d pass …

Like everyone else in Saskatchewan, I listen to CBC AM radio constantly. The weather is updated every 15 minutes. They report that the canola is too dry to reap. It will shatter if harvested. But the wheat is still too moist to take off the field. Saskatchewan weather is one big Catch-22.

Driving West into the setting sun, I find myself alone with my thoughts. I dream a grand scheme.

As night falls, I approach Drumheller and the badlands. The warmth from my big mug of tea is comforting.

It’s harvest here. Dusty farmers take dinner on the tractor this evening and plan to work all night. I see the bright lights of combines bobbing along in the dark in every field.

I drive home alone from Saskatoon to Calgary in September.

Mike Sissons – Artist

Mike — originally from New Brunswick — has lived around the world. Speaks 5-6 languages. Started as a gymnast and coach. Moved into teaching Physical Education.

But is today an Art teacher at a private school in Madrid.

He lives in the neighbourhood of the major Art museums.

Mike and I have been friends for decades. I really enjoyed a recent chance to visit. Catching up on his philosophical world view and recent Art. He’s currently exploring painting on stained metal. One example:

He’s still sculpting, as well.

Mike works a lot in digital media with his kids at school.

Recently he did some commercial work — major art pieces for Cruise Ships under construction now.

Check his Instagram: sissonsart.

Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon 

I lived in the ‘toon for 10 years. After pandemic delays, I finally got back to visit my longtime friends there.

The big skies at dawn and dusk have a unique prairie beauty.

I been hangin’ around grain elevators
I been learnin’ ’bout food
I been talkin’ to soil farmers
I been workin’ on land

Warren took me disc golfing. NOW I’m planning to buy some discs of my own.

visiting Newport, Oregon

I happily joined in the Adlard family and friends vacation to Newport, Oregon following our climb of Mt Adams, Washington.

Newport only has a population of 11,000 yet is a big tourist destination. Great beaches.

Here’s the vista from their rented beach house deck.

We enjoyed cycling the HUGE beach. (VIDEO)

It’s WINDY so Kites and Kite Surfing are popular.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

That’s close to Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area. A fun stop.

Oregon Coast Aquarium is well worth a visit too.

We had 3 terrific dinners at seafood restaurants on Newport’s Historic Bayfront. Research for Chef Dave Adlard.

Local Ocean was great. Clearwater Restaurant, as well.

“Dead Guy” burger at Rogue

Tom enjoyed our stop at the Rogue Nation Brewery & Spirits factory. We did well, as well, at a boutique wine tasting shop.

Dave cycles every day. So our group cycled every day.

The iconic image of Newport is the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Art Deco and Art Moderne design motifs as well as forms borrowed from Gothic architecture.

When you have destinations like Newport, who needs Hawaii? 😀

visiting Sage and Cole

Sister and brother Sage and Cole hosted me in Olympia WA while I organized my Covid test within the 72 hour limit required for my international flight home to Canada.


Did you own a huge house, big lot and a 3-car garage when YOU were Cole’s age?

They schooled me on Anime. Demon Slayer.

One night we watched the first few episodes of Only Murders in the Building.

We went out to lunch, one day, for a HUGE meat pie.

I travelled Portland to Olympia via Flixbus, an excellent service. They carry bicycles under the bus. Recommended.