Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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Going ‘round in circles

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 29, 2021


Long long ago, I had a Baby Brownie camera. It had no settings at all – just point and click. But it let me take grainy black and white pictures. 

            As time went on, I graduated to a 35mm camera that would do almost everything for me except choose my subject. It would set the aperture. Choose the shutter speed. Auto-focus on whatever I had on the screen. 

             Except that one of its dials sets “picture mode,” in which the camera automatically amends its settings to suit special circumstances -- portraits, landscapes, close-ups, etc. 

            Not long ago, I took a series of photos of our Rotary club picking up litter along a popular walking route. Somehow, I bumped that dial from “Auto” to “Art.” 

            I got grainy black and white photos that I might have taken with my old Baby Brownie.

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: aging, letting go




Retribution, rehabilitation, prevention

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 25, 2021


 “A teenage girl who stabbed a boy to death in downtown Kelowna was sentenced to one day in custody after pleading guilty to manslaughter.”

            That was the first sentence of a story in Wednesday’s paper.

            It took me aback.

            One day? Especially when that one day was the day she appeared in court?

            Part of me says that murder, even an unpremeditated murder like this one, deserves punishment. No one should get off with a verbal reprimand.

            That is, of course, the principle behind what’s called retributive justice. Make ‘em suffer for that they did.

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Learning to live with smoke

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 22, 2021


Smoke cloaks the Okanagan Valley, as it does much of North America. With wildfires burning all over B.C. and through the western states., smoke can’t help drifting through this valley.

            It hangs like frosted glass between me and the far shore of the lake. 

            To the north and south, water sky and hills merge into an opaque curtain. 

            There are no horizons. 

            Smoke is becoming a new normal. As extreme weather patterns come tumbling one after another, we can expect more heat domes. More droughts. More smoke.

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If I were a coronavirus…

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 18, 2021


COVID-19 cases have started surging again, in places like Brazil, India, Indonesia, and the U.S.. Reports blame the rise on anti-vaccine movements, distrust of authorities, misinformation, and government incompetence. 

            If I were a coronavirus, I’d be celebrating all of those.

            As a virus, I have only one goal – to get inside the cells of as many humans as possible, so that I can take over their cell mechanisms to make more copies of me, so that I can get inside more cells of more humans. 

            We viruses run the ultimate assembly line. All we need is victims. 

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Things that happen in threes

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 15, 2021


Bad things happen in threes, my Irish relatives used to tell me. 

            Some sources will tell you that the “rule of threes” derives from trench warfare in World War I. Two soldiers could safely light their cigarettes off a single match. But if you kept the match alight long enough for a third soldier to light up, enemy snipers had time to aim. One dead soldier.

            But the rule of threes surely goes back far before that. 

            Threes are endemic in Christianity. The Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In baptisms, people are dipped or sprinkled three times. Everyone knows that there were three Wise Men – although the Bible itself never cites that number. Resurrection came on the morning of the third day. Peter denied Jesus three times; Jesus countered by asking Peter three time, “Do you love me?” Jesus rejected three temptations in the wilderness…

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Threes




Trees do not grow on money

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 11, 2021


Back in May, Lorna Beecroft posted a photo on her Facebook page of a giant log being trucked down a Vancouver Island highway. It went viral.

            “I have never honestly in my life seen a tree that big on a truck ever,” Beecroft said.

            The log was almost ten feet – three metres – in diameter. It filled the entire highway lane, all by itself.

            Here in the Okanagan, I see lots of logging trucks go by. At a guess, they carry up to 100 trees per load, some of them so small it would be hard to cut a single 2x4 out of them.

            But this was just one log. A single giant spruce.

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Watering Walter’s memorial tree

Author: Jim Taylor

            Earlier this spring, a friend and I were coming down a steep trail on a local mountain. As we came around a huge boulder, we suddenly realized there was a woman on the far side of it. Sitting with her back against the boulder. Sobbing. 

            To one side of her there was a small green tree. A pretty little tree, but not what I would consider a native pine, spruce, or aspen. It looked more like the decorative evergreens that florists use for contrast in a pot of blossoms.

            A small white sash hung around the tree: “This tree planted for our son Walter.”

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: grief, tree, Walter, memorial





Author: Jim Taylor

            This poem came about by the confluence of two completely different factors. 

`           One, obviously, was finding dying sparrow on the concrete at the entry to my garage.

            The second was an article in The Conversation Canada, about journaling. If you’re not sure what to write, the article suggested (I’m paraphrasing) list what you can note from your senses. Five things you see; four things you hear; three things you touch; two things you smell; one thing you taste. 

            I tried that exercise while thinking about the bird whose body I had just moved into my garbage can, and suddenly they started forming a poem. So here it is – in part...


I pick it up, a mortal morsel cupped in my hands.

It makes no effort to flap, to fly.

It rests on my skin, light as a snowflake,

soft as a lover’s touch. 

I move it to a shady spot, where the day’s heat 

bears down on it less heavily. 


The bright beads of its eyes flick towards me.

Then close. 


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: death, Sparrow, feathers




The gift of life for someone unknown

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 4, 2021


I wanted to be the first person to donate blood plasma at the new Donor Centre in Orchard Park. 

            Over the 12 years that my wife Joan had leukemia, she received a plasma transfusion every month. She had no immune system left. So she needed what they called intravenous-immunoglobulin, IV-IG for short. It comes from blood plasma. 

            Plasma is the clear fluid left after a centrifuge filters out all the solid stuff circulating in your blood stream – red cells, white cells, platelets, etc. 

           In Joan’s case, she needed the antibodies that she couldn’t produce for herself. It can take 1,000 plasma donations to get the right mix of antibodies for particular needs. 

            Twelve years, at 12 transfusions a year, times 1,000 donors, meant that I owed a debt of gratitude to around 144,000 people for keeping my wife alive. 


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The dog who didn’t get run over

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday July 1, 2021


I took my dog Pippin to an off-leash dog park on the outskirts of Kelowna a week ago. 

            Pippin loves dog parks. She pranced off to meet with a group of other dogs, and their owners, gathered in the shade of some trees.

            Suddenly a black and white and tan streak emerged out of the cluster, heading for the gates, as if it was trying to outrun a load of buckshot. 

            I expected the double gates at the park entry would stop her. They didn’t. She slid under the first one on her side. Then under the second. And out onto the highway. Running north, as if she were demented. Running, running, running. 

            I started running myself. 

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: dogs

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