At the Saskatchewan Festival of Words, we were being housed at Temple Mineral Spa which had renowned healing waters.

They told us to bring our bathing suits.

Yeah right!

But the lady I was corresponding with was adamant. ‘Bring your bathing suit, you’ll want to partake in the healing waters!’

So I packed a spare salwar kameez (Pakistani suit) and an extra hijab, just in case.

By Friday evening I still hadn’t gone for a dip. I just didn’t think it was appropriate. People would be wondering if these were the clothes I’d worn on the street. What if they laughed or stared?

I’m used to being stared at, but this just seemed unnecessary.

Then I had dinner with two children’s authors that I admire a lot: Susan Juby and Art Slade.

Art has been my nemesis on award shortlists ever since he came out with his Hunchback chronicles and I’m quite resigned to how good his writing is. *g*

He’s very funny too, quick with the ironic statement.

Susan Juby has a down to earth sense of humour and an uncanny knack for making you feel comfortable.

On Friday night it was trivia night at a local pub where we were to be served Fish and Chips. They were BEER battered fish and chips so the organizers had informed the kitchen to make mine sans batter.

But unfortunately, because of my special order, I’m sure our table got served late. I really felt for the two little old ladies who’d had the misfortune to sit down with us. It took two hours to get our food and by that time it had been over seven hours since lunch.

Afterwards, walking back to the hotel, Susan asked if I’d been for a dip in the healing waters.

I told her I was kind of too embarrassed to go, even though my shoulders were still knotted up tight and my right arm actually hurt when I raised it above my head.

Later in my room, Susan was kind enough to call and say she’d go with me for a dip! (Probably so I wouldn’t feel so self-conscious)

It was such a sweet gesture! I can’t remember the last time someone has done something so thoughtful!

The water was very warm, and very soothing!

We floated out into the outdoor part of the pool, so that we could simmer under the dusky sky.

It was really beautiful.

And when I finally emerged, I was thoroughly wrinkled and totally relaxed–felt like I had no bones at all and could melt into a puddle.

I wanted to go again on Saturday night, but there was a fund-raising show with a poet named Shane Koyczan.

I’d never heard of him but something compelled me to go to the show and I wasn’t sorry.

I recognized him immediately from a Maxwell House commercial that features an optimism break.

Here he is with some of his slam poetry:

He really is brilliant!

And one of his pieces, the one on bullying, brought tears to my eyes.

After reading a lot of really blah adult Canadian poetry, it was SO refreshing to come across Shane’s verse!


Picked up  his cd for my son.

Next morning I had to be ready by 8 am to head off to the airport with Susan Juby’s memoir Nice Recovery, under my arm as reading material.

I’m not usually into memoirs but Susan’s was amazing. A recovering alcoholic, I finally understand, thanks to Susan’s candid insight, why middle school kids get mired into drugs and alcohol.

And I’m a bit less judgmental about it, I think.

I never went that route mainly because alcohol was such a taboo, and I’ve always been the square kind of kid who obeys the law, especially Islamic laws because I do believe.

If alcohol wasn’t prohibited, who knows what I would have done to numb my own pain?

I read most of Susan’s memoir before I landed in Toronto. A very compelling read. I highly recommend it!

Just one little regret.

Found out on the way to the airport that the set of Corner Gas, a very famous Canadian comedy show, was not far off the highway. Charlotte Gray, who was sitting in the front seat said too bad we couldn’t have left half an hour earlier so we could have taken a tour.

They really should revamp the place. I’m sure it’s a place of Canadian pilgrimage. How I loved that show! It would have been so cool to enter Corner Gas and the Ruby!

Oh well, maybe I’ll get invited back again.

Insha Allah.