What An Improvement!

Originally posted on Vast Imaginations:

writers-groupI read a non-fiction manuscript at my writers’ group meeting last week. I’d been working on the piece for a long time and had already submitted it to some publishers. I had debated whether I should read it, since a number of the group members had already critiqued an earlier draft. I’m so glad I did. There were new people in the group, and everyone, including the people who’d heard my earlier draft, had valuable advice to offer.  They made excellent suggestions. 

WritersGroupWould it be good to add more sensory detail to some of the descriptions? Of course it would. 

Could I organize the examples in my text in chronological order? Why hadn’t I thought of that? 

Might I include more varied examples age wise and gender wise? Absolutely! Why hadn’t I noticed that the examples I’d used were often similar? 

Was the first paragraph really necessary?  Reading the manuscript…

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

He Hasn’t Lost His Sense of Humour

dave and his dad

We spent some time at the nursing home in Leamington yesterday visiting Dave’s Dad who is 93.  We  chatted with Dad at the lunch table and met the women who share it. Two of them are new since the last time we visited. Gertrude is 101 years old and told us about her granddaughter who is a doctor. Margaret has a nephew who lived in Hong Kong  just like we did. Later we went to Dad’s room to visit some more. When it was time to go we said good-bye promising to return the next day. Just as the elevator doors were about to close we saw Dad coming down the hall heading our way with his walker. He joined us in the elevator. He was going down to the lobby to sit there for a bit to look out the big windows and observe the people going by. My sister-in-law Linda said to him, “I thought you would take a nap.”

Dad got a big grin on his face. “Naps are for old people,” he said. 

Other posts about my father-in-law….

Another Grandma Moses?

Autograph Book of a Conscientious Objector

Leise Rieselt Der Schnee


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Filed under Family, Retirement

Pumpkins For Sale

kids selling pumpkinsBlue sky, cornfields and these two young entrepreneurs with their big wooden box full of pumpkins caught our eye on the drive from the airport in Windsor Ontario to the home of Dave’s brother John and his wife Linda in Cottam where we are staying for the coming week. little boy selling pumpkinsMy sister-in-law Linda pulled the truck over to check out the merchandise and the kids were delighted to have a customer.pumpkins piled in a boy's armsLinda looked over the pumpkins and asked about prices. The girl did the negotiating while the little guy started piling up potential purchases in his arms. kids selling pumpkins southern ontario

Dave got out of the truck to chat with the kids.  “Pumpkins are 50 cents for small ones and a dollar for big ones,” the sister and brother told him. pumpkins in the truckThe kids helped Linda load the pumpkins into the back of the truck amongst our luggage and Dave’s golf clubs. kids at pumpkin standThen it was time to use their fingers to count up how many pumpkins Linda had bought and figure out the total price. kids selling pumpkinsProfits were kept in an old Players tobacco can. how much money is in the canAfter adding Linda’s contribution the little guy checked to see just how much money they had accumulated so far. kids selling pumpkinsThere were still a few pumpkins left for future customers.kids selling pumpkinsWe drove off and waved good-bye. pumpkin toiletriesWhen we had settled in at John and Linda’s I noticed my sister-in-law had arranged a lovely dish of pumpkins products- soap, candles, lotions and shower gel for us to use during our visit. little girl selling pumpkinsIt’s definitely pumpkin time in southern Ontario. 

Other posts about visits to Dave’s family in Ontario….

Family Reunion- Leise Rieselt Der Schnee

The Dog Ate the Cabbage Rolls

A Wedding That Was Way Too Exciting



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Filed under Childhood, Nature, People

Using the Other Side of My Brain

Talk about stretching my comfort zone! Yes I’ve signed up for a drawing class. Can’t draw. Never believed I could ! But it’s been on my bucket list to try to learn and thanks to my friend Esther I’m going to. me and estherEsther who has taken numerous art courses in the past has agreed to be my mentor and companion and has also signed up for the course offered by Winnipeg School Division’s Life Long Learning. restaurant qualico family centreTo get me revved up for our first class Esther took me to the Qualico Center at Assiniboine Park this week to try a little preliminary sketching. My first task? picasso stravinskyTo copy this Picasso drawing of composer Igor Stravinsky.  AND………. I had to do it with the picture turned UPSIDE DOWN. It was HARD. I never would have finished it without Esther’s continual affirmation and encouragement. picasso's stravinskyBut here it is! Esther told me that to complete the assignment I’d had to use the right side of my brain not the left where language resides and where I’m most comfortable. We spent a couple of hours sketching.  I hope my art teacher doesn’t see this or he may ask me to give someone else my spot in the class. It’s full!first drawing attemptsEsther bless her heart had bought me art pencils of all kinds, erasers, shading tools, pencil sharpeners, a sketch book and an instructional guide on drawing body parts to get me started.  There’s no turning back now. I’ll keep you posted.

Other posts about me and artwork …….

Finding My Inner Artist


Filed under Art, Retirement

Discovering Dali- I’m Scared

Salvador Dali is coming to the Winnipeg Art Gallery! September 27 marks the debut of two exhibits that will feature some of his major works.  I think the famous Spanish artist will hold unique appeal for the children I take on tours of the gallery.

dali winnipeg art galleryDali was very open about including the things that scared him in his work. Children will identify with that.  Dali was petrified of ants. As a small child he had a pet bat and one day he discovered its dead body covered in ants. He also saw a number of dead birds and a dead lizard being eaten by ants. He never forgot those experiences. One way he confronted his fear of ants was to include them in his paintings.  salvador dali ace of diamondsDali’s Ace of Diamonds will be in the upcoming exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  In Dali’s surreal rendition of the playing card there is an ant crawling across the face of the clock between the numbers eleven and twelve.

Dali coming out of the a metro station in Paris in 1969 with his pet anteater

Dali coming out of the a metro station in Paris in 1969 with his pet anteater

Another way Dali dealt with his fear of ants was to have an anteater as a pet.  TV host Dick Cavett recalls  the time Dali brought his pet anteater onto his talk show in this interview. 

scared of the bear

Children all have fears. I was scared of dogs as a child. My son was petrified of spiders. I have a friend who found clowns at a circus terrifying and most children have nightmares that frighten them. I think children will appreciate being introduced to an artist who had fears just like them and admitted them via his artwork. After we look at some of Dali’s fears on canvas and I ask children who come to the gallery, “What are you scared of?”  I may not have enough time to hear all their answers. 

Other posts about Dali…….

A Personal Dali

Other posts about Spanish artists and art…..

Is It Art?

Guernica Still Not Explained

Jesus is Born

Visit to the MOMA


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Filed under Art, Childhood, Winnipeg

Petershagen- Sand and Salvation

white sand in petershagenWhat am I doing kneeling down in a pile of sand? I’m in Petershagen Ukraine on the grounds of a church attended by my husband Dave’s grandparents and father in the early 1920s. I notice a pile of beautiful white sand that Victor our guide says has been hauled to the church yard for a building project. He tells me there are many sand pits all around the former Mennonite settlement of Petershagen with this nice white sand. white sand in petershagen ukraineI am excited because my Grandma Peters has talked about this sand in an interview with my Aunt Mary. Grandma is describing her paternal grandmother – Grandma Sawatzky. ” My Grandma was a very neat housekeeper- and her clay floors, carefully swept were always sprinkled with sand- very white sand. The sand which was swept together during the week would be washed and used to spray a pattern on the sidewalk from the house to the street. The sand sprinkled on the floors in the house was dry, but the sand on the sidewalk was wet. The sand added to the beauty of the house. Once the whole house and yard was swept and adorned with the white sand it was just lovely!! “ Victor is very familiar with this custom and says decorating the sidewalks with sand patterns was especially common in Mennonite homes in the Ukraine for holidays like Easter.mennonite church in petershagen ukraineBut we have come to Petershagen not to see sand but to see the village which provided  salvation to Dave’s grandparents and his father, when they were sure they were all about to die of starvation. Dave is pointing to the date near the roof top of the Mennonite Church in Petersagen which informs us it was built in 1892. Dave’s Oma and Opa Driedger moved to Petershagen in February of 1922 and lived there for two and a half years until they left for Canada in 1924. Dave’s Dad was born in February of 1921 so he will have attended this church with his parents as a little boy.

map of the village of petershagen ukraineVictor our guide has a map of how Petershagen would have looked at the time Dave’s Dad and grandparents lived there. Across the street from the church is the property of some Friesens. Could it be Dave’s Great Grandma and Grandpa Friesen? We know that Dave’s Oma’s parents, the Friesens, fled to Petershagen when they had to leave their home in Schoenfeld, because it was too dangerous there with all the gangs of bandits roving the countryside and terrorizing the outlying Mennonite villages. Victor tells us that the Schoenfeld church was a daughter church of the Petershagen Church so the fact that Dave’s Friesen great grandparents took refuge there makes sense.

Oma and Opa Driedger

Oma and Opa Driedger

Oma and Opa Driedger didn’t join Oma’s parents immediately but tried to make it on their own after they fled from Schoenfeld. They had jobs in various places but the famine of 1921 came and their oldest child, Dave’s Aunt Kaethe had died of pneumonia and little Cornelius, Dave’s Dad was sickly and weak. So they went to live with Oma’s parents, the Friesens in Petershagen. Oma says in the notes of an interview with Dave’s cousin John Braun that if her parents had not taken them in at Petershagen she thinks all three of them would have died of starvation.

Our guide Victor with the plaque that indicates this was a Mennonite Church built in 1892

Our guide Victor with the plaque indicating this was a Mennonite Church built in 1892

The Mennonite Church in Petershagen is still an active congregation. Nine elderly women from the village who have no one to look after them live there and are cared for by the congregation members. people meeting in church in peterhagenWe peek into the church and the pastor’s wife comes to talk to Victor. Some of the church members are planning a summer camp experience they are going to offer to the children of the village. It appears a form of salvation for the very old and very young is still being offered in Petershagen. 

Other posts about our family history in Ukraine……

The Station of Tears

The Disappeared

Enns Family History


Filed under Family, Ukraine

Sharing His Birthday With Someone Special

dave and baby thomasDave’s birthday was on Monday but instead of having a  celebration of his own he chose to go to a party for our friends’ Tom and Sylvia’s new grandson. It is a Chinese custom to have a big celebration when a baby is one month old and Tom and Sylvia hosted a party for friends and family at The Golden Terrace Restaurant so we could all meet their grandson Thomas Alexander, the new little son of their children Will and Violet. 

The food was amazing! Lobster, chicken, pork, scallops, beef, shrimp, vegetables, soup, rice, and taro soup for dessert. There were also eggs dyed red to symbolize happiness and new life. Little Thomas was a contented sweetheart throughout the party and I got to enjoy holding him for a nice long time. 

dave, thomas and cakeWhen they brought out the cake for Thomas his Grandpa Tom insisted Dave pose with the baby and the cake since it was Dave’s birthday too.  

Although Dave throughly enjoyed his party with Thomas his favorite part of the day was coming home and listening to the “Happy Birthday Grandpa” message on his phone from our two year old grandson. He listened to it two times that night and then another two times the next morning. 

Other posts about birthdays……

Happy Birthday Dave

Children’s Party With Aunt Olly

My Dad’s Birthday


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Filed under China, Family, Food