How could I not know that once again I have thrown myself into the jaws of death?

End of Benjamin Franklin Junior High, Long Beach, California. Canadian author W.O. Mitchell told me he went to the same school during his years in So. Cal. I was a public speaker and a proselytizer even then.

1970. Our first trip to B.C. in the Mercury Montego MX, with power steering and power brakes, that I brought up when I immigrated in 1976. Good snow car, eh?

Mary Queen of Scots. Amateur plays in The Langham, to big audiences before DVDs and satellite TV.

Before. May 1977. Mercury Montego MX still here.

It begins.

Toronto years: Caroline the cat had her own frequent flyer card, Caroline Rubinsky, thanks to Yuri, who, though he was deep into a company, the stakes getting high, still amused himself. The photo was taken in the apartment on Bloor Street, near Stan Bevington and Coach House Press.

I bought the black cowboy hat during an amateur drama festival in B.C, and when Yuri moved to Kaslo, he commandeered it. Here we are as pioneers.

Sitting in the Dragoon Mountains, southeast Arizona. Strange people out there where the Apache chief Cochise hid from the American and Mexican armies. Adjacent to the very birdy Chiricauhua Mountains.

Amateur birding brought moments of surprise and wonder. These Evening Grosbeaks were at the feeder in the yard.

Highlight of my career was working with Louise Dennys on At First I Hope for Rescue. Yuri had just died; my ability to write and edit were at a low. Louise was very kind.

This rose is from my bush outside the back door. Some of my ashes will be in it, not distressing company, I hope, for the song sparrow who overwinters there.

Holley's Life

Rule of life: Never pass up cake. My elaborate four-year-old party, planned by my parents. particularly my father. Next to me is my brother, called Richie at that time, one year younger. Never sure what happens to adults in the family, but there were no parties after this one that I recall. Southern California.

My first husband, Carroll Ballard, and I create a baby, Robin. Here she and I are, at an early bemused stand-off. Robin is three and I am twenty-five.

Dreams of flying may be repressed sexual dreams, so someone said. In my case, I wanted to get up there and fly. I received a scholarship from the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization for Women Pilots, and sold an article to Cosmopolitan Magazine, called (oh, originality!), "Learning to Fly". These funds paid for my lessons in a Piper Cherokee 140 at Santa Monica Airport. In the picture are Carol Heap-Smith, her daughter Manissa, and my girl, Robin. Manissa Pedroza found this photo among her grandmother's things.

Kootenay Lake with a 6-horse aluminum car-topper. In the days of chi-chi overalls. Yuri may have taken the picture.

Kaslo Elementary Secondary School staff, approximately 1980. I loved teaching children with learning disabilities, whose minds looked at problem-solving differently. One day a week I would drive up the lake in the Mercury -- some scary moments there -- to work with children and aides in the Meadow Creek School. With Val Brenton, Bobbi Huber, Mary Garnett, Gerald Garnett; Margaret Dallyn, Aya Higashi, Alan Hoshizaki, Andy Leathwood, Milt Stanley, Yvonne Gevers, Ben Borley, Bob Douglas and principal Jack Humphries, whom the school is named after now.

2011, taken by a fellow who used to live in the house when it was using coal and had chickens out back. Sorry I forgot his name. Young people are working an organic garden in the field.

The Banff years: In the photo are Alistair MacLeod, me, Sandra Birdsell and. on the first step, Richard Lemm. Alistair and I became great friends and corresponded for years. W.O. Mitchell started the Writing Workshop, where I met Yuri while he was setting up the Banff Publishing Workshop. We had “bunheads” in the ballet studio, writers in the downstairs offices of the Max Bell, cellists and violinists in every corner, plays at the Margaret Greenham rheatre, camaraderie everywhere.

Yuri and I had family from France to England, east coast U.S., and Canada. He had fun designing the “year’s warning” notice in the Pennywise, yet still people who didn’t check out the date of the announcement asked my mother why I had married and they weren’t invited.

After the vodka toasts and speeches, the reception at The Langham was in full swing. Fern Van Horn made the dress, complete with pearls, lace and satin. We did it with me running around lower Spadina to fabric suppliers. I look so determined about getting cake into the groom.

Us in Manhattan. Robin thinks we were in a diner when she took the photo.

Writer on tour, Victoria.

Swiss trains with boys, Sebastian and Jasper and I travel to Solothurn.

7 Cakes for 7 Decades. Sometimes you know what you don’t know. My last fete had great timing – speeches and readings from South of Elfrida, fabulous cakes and champagne too.