Do Buildings Have Souls?

tao fong shan mountain of the christ wind church hong kongDo buildings have souls?  I once interviewed an architecture professor who introduced me to the idea that buildings have souls. opera house 2According to him an architectural concept for any building should  be a metaphor or image for the dreams and values of the people who will use that building.

habitat northern thailandArticulating and defining the soul of a building is a process that needs to include as many of the people who will inhabit the finished structure as possible.

maori meeting houseI asked the architect I interviewed, how we could know for certain that a building accurately reflected the ‘soul’ of the community it housed. He told me the ‘soul’ of building could not be measured. It was something that could be discerned only with the heart.

Other posts…….

Taliesin West

Taj Mahal

Opera House


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Filed under Reflections


I’ve been part of several conversations lately with people who’ve struggled to recall  a certain word, name or a date.   It happens to me too.   Thank goodness for my computer where I can look things up quickly.   I wonder if I have too much going on in my mind to remember everything or if forgetfullness is just a natural sign of aging. I’m reminded of a poem by Billy Collins called Forgetfulness which I used to study with my high school English students. Just click the picture below for a link to an animated version. 

forgetfullness billy collinsOther posts……

The poetry of boxing

Red butterfly

Visiting Pompei



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Filed under Poetry, Retirement

Writing Dividends

My cousin Al sent me a link to an article about why writing is of psychological benefit. The article is by Gregory Ciotti and you can find it on his website Sparring Mind.  Ciotti has come up with a list of reasons why writing is of benefit to people. Each is backed with a link to research.  Here’s some of them. 

With the galley sheets for a history book I wrote

With the galley sheets for a history book I wrote

1) Writing leads to better thinking and communication-writing helps people convey complex ideas more clearly

I had an story in this book

I had an story in this book

2) Writing increases gratitude-  Writing about the good things in your life makes you happier and more thankful.

Working on a writing project in my office in Hong Kong

Working on a writing project in my office in Hong Kong

3) Writing exercises your mental sharpness- Writing helps keep your brain in shape even as you age

Writing a Lives Lived column for my beautiful mother-in-law and having it published in the Globe and Mail was a way to express my grief and appreciation for my wonderful mother-in-law after she died.

Writing a Lives Lived column and having it published in the Globe and Mail was a way to express my grief and appreciation for my wonderful mother-in-law after she died.

4) Writing provides an outlet for handling hard times-  writing about difficult experiences is a good way to come to terms with them

online-learning5) Writing leads to better learning-  information stays with us longer when we write about it

I often shared my writing with my highschool journalism students

I often shared my writing with my highschool journalism students

6) Writing helps you make an impact- you can influence others when you share your writing

My cousin Al said he just wanted me to know that because I’m a writer I am the beneficiary of all these good things.  Thanks Al!

Other posts…….

Barack Obama is a Good Writer

The Writing Life

The Journalists’ Prayer

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What’s in a Name?

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in Far From the Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in Far From the Madding Crowd

Bathsheba Everdene is the heroine of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd. I saw the movie version on Sunday night starring Carey Mulligan as the beautiful Bathsheba.  The first time her name was mentioned in the movie I realized Hardy’s heroine was the namesake of the Biblical King David’s wife and that she shared a last name with Katniss Everedeen the heroine of The Hunger Games books. 

Bathsheba by Artemisia Gentilesc

Bathsheba by Artemisia Gentileschi

Just like the Old Testament Bathsheba, Hardy’s Bathsheba attracts the attention of more than one man. King David had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed so he could marry her. One of the men in love with Bathsheba in Far From the Madding Crowd also kills Bathsheba’s husband. This eventually leads to her second marriage.  

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in The Hungry Games.

Suzanne Collins the author of The Hunger Games books says that she did indeed name her heroine Katniss Everdeen after the main character in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. According to Collins, “The two are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts”.

There’s more than the intriguing name of the heroine to attract a viewer to Far From the Madding Crowd.  I was completely engaged by the excellent story and the spunky, independent Bathsheba Everdene a woman who was way ahead of her time!

Other posts…….

Mennonite Names at the Movies

I’m Her Namesake

Putting Stories and Faces to Names

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Filed under Books, Movies

Couples in the Library

I was working in the Millenium Library on Saturday afternoon.  I looked up from my computer and there were couples on either side of me. 

wedding in the library On my left was a bridal party having their pictures taken on the steps of the library. 

pair of ducksOut the window to my right a male and female duck were perched on the concrete border around the pond. 

I went to the library to work so I wouldn’t be distracted. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Other posts……

The Millenium Library

Wedding in Minneapolis

Creatures I’ve Photographed

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Filed under Books, Winnipeg

Veronica Sightings

veronica jerusalem I photographed this stone marker bearing the name Veronica in Jerusalem as I walked the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus is said to have walked with his cross. According to tradition a woman named Veronica stepped up to wipe Jesus’ face with her veil as he walked by her. 
veronicaI photographed this artist’s version of Victoria showing kindness to Jesus at the Church of the Beatitudes near the Sea of Galilee.  Some say Veronica was the woman Jesus healed of a flow of blood, and others think she was the wife of an influential member of the Sanhedrin who followed Jesus secretly until she came forward publicly to offer him compassion during the last days of his life. veronica by robert campinI saw this painting of Veronica in the Stadel Art Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.  It was done by Robert Campin a Flemish artist who lived from 1375-1444.  Although Veronica is not mentioned in the canonical Gospels there is a reference to her in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus in a section called the Acts of Pilate.  Her story is celebrated as the Sixth Station of the Cross in many churches. Veronica is a Catholic Saint.

Other posts……..

A Jamaican Saint

Music for a Saint

A Photograph in a Book of Saints

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Filed under Germany, israel, Religion

How do you like living in Japan?

We saw the movie Kumiko The Treasure Hunter last night.  A delusional girl from Japan goes to Minnesota in search of a treasure she mistakenly thinks is buried there. She has watched the movie Fargo and sees a character in the film bury a suitcase of money in the snow.  She is determined to find it. kumiko and the police officerAs Kumiko walks down the Minnesota highway a police officer picks her up. She shows him her DVD of  Fargo and tries to explain her quest.  The police officer wants  her to understand the treasure isn’t real so he takes Kumiko to a Chinese restaurant and asks the owner to translate for him.  He seems surprised the restaurant owner doesn’t speak the same language as Kumiko. “I speak Mandarin,” she says. “Not Japanese.” My highschool journalism class in Hong KongThis reminded me of the years we spent teaching in the Chinese city of Hong Kong.  During our summer trips home we would meet people and tell them we worked in Hong Kong. “Oh! How do you like living in Japan?” they would say or “We know someone who teaches in Japan.”  It made me realize how little many North Americans know about Asia, its geography or the many different countries within the continent.  Other posts…..

Japanese Surprises

Japanese Pancakes

Baseball Osaka Style

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Filed under China, Hong Kong, Japan, Movies