Warms Your Heart and Makes You Laugh Out Loud

Looking for a great little series on Netflix?  Look no further than detectorists.   We just finished watching two seasons worth and what a gem it was. We so enjoyed it!

detectoristsThe series follows a group of hobby detectorists in a British village.  They have a metal detecting club and look for historical treasures in the surrounding meadows and fields. They meet regularly to share their findings. 

I liked the way the series showed the caring but understated relationship between the two men who are the main characters. They are passionate about their hobby. Both are experiencing personal crisis and their metal detectoring is a way of dealing with it, a kind of therapy if you will. I found the espisodes charming and heartwarming. Each member of the metal detecting club has a unique personality and when they interact it makes for some great humour. I don’t know when I have laughed out loud as many times as I did watching this series.

My husband Dave liked the soundtrack and the great cinematography which highlighted the pastoral English countryside in a beautiful way.

My brother said he enjoyed the nuanced  gems of human interaction in detectorists.  He found the characters to be quirky but definitely relatable and said there was a kindness about the show that so often is missing in television programs. He liked the gentle pace and the way the stories unfold fluidly not in a jerky fashion as so many television programs do.  He thought the writing was great. 

If you were a fan of the old British series The Avengers you will appreciate the cameo performance by one of its stars Diana Rigg in detectorists.  Diana’s daughter has a starring role in the drama and is just as dynamic an actress as her mother. 

While watching the series I learned that it is important to distinguish between a detector and a detectorist.  A detector is the actual metal detecting machine and a detectorist is the person who operates it. 

Other posts………

Winnipeg in Televison and the Movies

Creative Television Commercial

Breaking Bad- What’s to Like? 

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Filed under Media

A Whole Lot of Organ Music With Your Pizza

dave-and-marylou-organ-stopWould you like to eat too much mediocre pizza at picnic style tables while an organ with 6000 pipes serenades you?  Then Organ Stop Pizza is for you!  Yesterday we had another one of those unique kitchy experiences that comes with the territory when you are an Arizona snowbird.  organ-stop-pizza-mesaThe Organ Stop Pizza Place in Mesa has two massive rooms upstairs and down squished full of long tables and benches, a salad bar, icecream bar, and a walk up counter where you can order pizza.  It also features the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre organ built in 1927 in Denver Colorado and rebuilt in the 1970s to provide entertainment for pizza patrons in Arizona.  organ-stopThe organ rises up above the audience on a rotating hyrdraulic elevator and all kinds of added instruments spread around the venue are manipulated from the organ console including dozens of different drums, bird whistles, cymbals, tambourines, wood blocks, bells, chimes and even an accordian. o-canada-organ-stopThe music on our visit was mostly show tunes from movies like Star Wars, Frozen and Sound of Music but also included stirring renditions of the American anthem and God Bless America during which most of the patrons jumped to their feet with mouths full of pizza and beer and put their hands over their hearts. They even played the Canadian anthem in acknowledgment of the many snowbirds in the audience. No one stood. Shows how patriotic we Canuks are. Check out the Canadian flag in the photo. There is a light show of sorts as you are entertained and the organist Charlie Balogh, who was very talented, took a break from the music to announce birthdays and other special occasions being celebrated by patrons. dave-ball-team-organ-stopWe were at Organ Stop with some of Dave’s slow pitch teammates from Manitoba and it was very hard to talk to each other with that organ music exploding all around you. So we skipped the ice-cream bar and retired to Eric and Joyce’s home in Gold Canyon for Schwann’s ice-cream, chocolate chip cookies and chance to really visit.  There was lots of laughter and interesting conversation. When we left the Organ Stop there was a very long line of people waiting at the walk up pizza counter. Our early arrival meant we’d avoided that.  It was an experience to visit the Organ Stop, but one I’m glad I didn’t have to wait in line for and something I only need to do once. I had a sore throat the next morning from trying to talk over the music.  I should have just closed my mouth and listened. 

Other posts…….

Hi Ho Tonto!

Funky Asheville 

MaryLou’s Castle

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Filed under Arizona, Food, Music

Inspiration From Dr. King

martin-luther-kind-day-talking-stick-arenaWe attended an NBA basketball game here in Phoenix on Martin Luther King Day.  Before the game started the arena was ringed with words of inspiration from Dr. King. I’ve added a photo of my own for each quote. 

decided-to-stick-with-loveI have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden. 

Photo taken in Dehli India 2007

Photo taken in Dehli India 2007

live-as-brothers-or-die-as-foolsWe must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. 

Our son with a good friend when we were living on the Hopi Nation

Our son with a good friend when we were living on the Hopi Nation in 1990

succumbing-to-bitternessNever succumb to the temptation of bitterness. 

Ringing the peace bell in Hiroshima

Ringing the peace bell in Hiroshima


Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. 

A candle given to me after my Mom died. I lit it the day of the American election.

A candle given to me by a friend after my Mom died. I lit it the day of the American election.

Other posts…….

Thoughts on Hope

And That Led Me

Costa Rica Inspiration

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Filed under Arizona, Inspiration

Should I Be More Real and Messy and Honest?

“Your post was FANTASTIC!  I loved it.”  One of my readers responded to my blog Real and Messy and Honest with those words. He told me people get far more enjoyment from reading stories about how things went wrong than they do from reading stories that include lots of details about how great and interesting and enjoyable everything turned out to be. The post Real and Messy and Honest was certainly the most popular thing I have written in a long time, garnering many views and comments.

snow-stormMy cousin Carol said this was my funniest post yet. My cousin Fred took time to write a humorous personal reflection on Facebook about each thing that had gone wrong for us. His funny responses ended with a link to the Monty Python video of the song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from the movie Life of Brian.

Reader Lori says my post was recognizable and real and she is well aware no one has a perfect life, but she still appreciates writers who highlight the positive.  Anita, who started following my blog when we holidayed in Costa Rica says while my blogs always have lots of great facts and pictures this post provided a change she loved. She suggested it is good to try and see the humour in the messy side of life.

Other readers said they appreciated me exposing the underbelly of my life. It proved I was real.  Fellow writer Dora said she had loved my honest messy blog post but she also likes the usual cheer in my posts. My highschool friend Sandee reminded me that good things can fit into the mess of life too and my friend Arlene said my positive energy lifts her spirits so I should put a smile back on my face and keep looking at the positive side of life. A former pastor of mine thanked me for sharing and said it can be a good at times to recognize the messiness in our own lives and those of others. Many readers said the post had resonated with them because they have had very similar days to mine. One of my former teaching colleagues said the post made her laugh out loud because it was so familiar.

marylou hiking quail trail

Fellow writer Suzanne told me not to pay heed to people who criticize me for being too positive.   According to Suzanne looking for a silver lining is a gift to be admired not a fault. She loves my positivity and is glad all my posts aren’t written like Real and Messy and Honest.  It would offer far too depressing an outlook on life.

One of my faithful readers Ruth said she was glad I wrote about the downside of my day. It made her laugh and realize that she and her husband aren’t alone in having heated discussions sometimes when they travel. She said she truly enjoys all my positive and enlightening posts but this realistic post was a great way to begin the year of 2017.

Heather Plett the life coach who inspired the post by asking her followers to write a real, messy and honest report about a day in their lives told me I had done a good job of completing the assigned task.

The response to this post made me think I do need to try and write my posts in a more humourous fashion and not be afraid to write about conflict or negative things at times.  It also made me realize I shouldn’t change the way I write too much because most people who follow my blog do so because they like it’s positive tone and direction.

Writing Real and Messy and Honest certainly got a lot of response from my readers, response that has given me lots to think about.

Other posts………

What Are People Saying?

An Attitude of Gratitude

Higher Ground

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Filed under Reflections, Writing

Wanted! Contingency Plans

We were late and we knew it!

 “I thought you two might have gotten lost or hurt on the mountain,” Dave said when we finally found him.

Last weekend Dave was playing in a baseball tournament with his team The Coral Sands Castaways.  My brother and I dropped him off at the ball park and drove to a nearby recreation area to hike the Wind Cave Trail.

I’d hiked it once before and didn’t think it would take us that long.  We had arranged to pick Dave up at the Coral Sands Trailer Court after the game where he and his teammates would retire to a picnic area for refreshments after their hard work on the diamond. 

Starting our hike in good spirits

We started our hike in good spirits

My brother and I started off down the trail in good spirits, but soon a burst of rain, then thunder and finally lightening forced us to turn back.  hiking-in-red-shirtAfter waiting in the car for about thirty minutes, the sun came out and we decided to give the hike another try.  I thought we still had plenty of time.  We didn’t!  hiking-to-wind-caves-2The trail was much longer than I’d thought, a little slippery because of the rain and pretty steep near the end.  resting-in-the-wind-caveBy the time we reached the wind caves at the top I looked at my watch and knew we were going to be at least a half hour late picking up Dave and we’d really have to push ourselves to get off the trail before dark.  We went as fast as we could on the downward trip even though two more cloud bursts pretty much soaked us and it was getting cold. 

When we arrived at the trailer court to pick up Dave it was pitch dark, raining and there were no ball players sitting at picnic tables anywhere. How would we find Dave?  He hadn’t given us a trailer number, he didn’t have his phone and we didn’t even know the last names of any of his team mates who lived in the trailer court.  So we drove slowly up and down the streets looking for other cars with Canadian licence plates since we knew Dave’s fellow players were Canadians like us. Finally my brother heard someone shouting, “Stop” and “Hey there”.  It was Dave.  He’d been looking out the window of one of the trailers and had seen us drive by.  

He wasn’t very happy we were so late and had been worried we’d had an accident.  We were cold and wet and not that happy to be facing a forty minute ride home in that state so it was pretty quiet till we got back to our house where a hot supper of Dave’s homemade chili and a couple glasses of wine set things to rights. 

ken-marylou-hike-hieroglyhpic-trailThe next hike my brother and I took was to the Hieroglyphic Trail and we made sure after dropping Dave off at the golf course for 18 holes with his friend Eric to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the trail, hike it, and be back to pick Dave up on time. It was a beautiful sunny day and the hike was great. But wouldn’t you know it we had another snafu with pick up because Dave hitched a ride home with his friend Eric and we didn’t know that and sat waiting at the golf course for him for 45 minutes. By 7:00 however we were all around the table enjoying barbequed pork loin and roasted portebello mushrooms my brother served up from the grill. We ended the day in the hot tub!

Since we only have one car and are each doing our own thing during some of our time here in Arizona and since our phones only work where there is wifi, Dave has suggested we probably need contingency plans whenever we need to rendezvous. I think he is probably right. 

Other posts……..

Honest and Real and Messy

Hiking With The Driedgers

MaryLou’s Castle

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Filed under Arizona

Improving Education in Manitoba-Someone Thinks They Have The Answers

mural of children broadway avenue saskatoon by denyse klette

Michael Zwaagstra in December articles in the Winnipeg Free Press and The Carillon bemoans Manitoba’s results on national and international academic tests that show our students performing poorly. According to Zwaagstra there are three keys to improving education in our province

1)more tests

2)teaching basics

3) direct whole class instruction.

Mr. Zwaagstra’s articles fail to report however on the three areas where our province gets top ranking.

1) Manitoba has the highest child poverty rate in Canada. I suspect we have more school kids who live in families lacking the basic necessities for healthy living than any other province.

2) Manitoba has the highest rate of adult incarceration in Canada. This leads one to believe we have more school kids with a parent in jail than in any other province.

3) Manitoba’s percentage of children in foster care is one of the highest in the world. It follows that we would have more school kids who are separated from their families than in any other province.

Could those three things impact children’s ability to learn and do well on standardized tests? If we focused on eradicating child poverty, on finding alternatives to such massive incarceration and looked for ways to improve foster care might that affect test scores more than the three remedies Mr. Zwaagstra suggests?

child-wearing-glasses- free photo pixabayAs a university education supervisor I have spent a fair bit of time in the last five years in inner city Winnipeg schools. Just before Christmas children in one school got free eye- exams courtesy of some caring Manitoba optometrists who volunteered to come and test children suspected of having vision issues. They discovered forty kids who should have been wearing glasses and provided them all with prescription lenses. One wonders though how those kids’ inability to see properly might have impacted their education and subsequently their scores on standardized tests in the past.

The six core area schools I know well devote time and money to providing breakfasts for children, setting up and staffing parent rooms where families can come for counseling and support, providing after school programs to keep kids out of gangs and off the street, arranging for kids to have dental work done at school by volunteer dentists, obtaining a stock pile of winter outerwear for children who come to school dressed improperly and the list goes on and on. These shouldn’t necessarily be the things teachers and administrators focus on but they know they are vital to their students’ ability to learn so they make them a priority. Could finding ways to relieve educators of those responsibilities allow schools to spend more time, energy and money on actual teaching?

children's artThat being said I am curious about the statistics behind Mr. Zwaagstra’s contention that regular assessment, teaching basics and direct class instruction is lacking in Manitoba schools. In the six weeks before Mr. Zwaagstra’s article was published I made nearly forty visits to Winnipeg classrooms. The education students I supervise must include a plan for assessment in every lesson and they do. During almost all lessons I observed, teachers were doing some whole class instruction and they were teaching the basics as best they could even though they had students whose reading and numeracy competencies were spread over as many as six different grade levels and every class had newcomers to Canada just learning English.

It is indeed troubling that Manitoba’s students have a low standard of academic achievement. Many of the reasons for that stem from long standing societal issues and addressing them will be much more costly and complicated than doing more tests or telling teachers they aren’t using the right instructional methods.

Other posts………

What I Saw in a Classroom Yesterday

Rap, Reimagining Winnipeg and Designing Fishnets

A Pen or a Wing?


Filed under Education

Related to The Bean

 the bean chicagoIt’s the fall of 2011 and I am posing with Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor in Chicago. Look how the sun and the city skyline is reflected in the sculpture.  The art piece is more commonly known as The Bean because of its distinct shape.  Once you’ve seen it you don’t forget it. So when I walked into the Phoenix Art Gallery this week and saw this art pieceinside-outside-anish-kapoor I immediately said, “That reminds me of The Bean in Chicago.”  No wonder because Upside Down Inside Out is by the very same artist Anish Kapoor. Upside Down Inside Out is shaped not like a bean but like an infinity symbol. kapoor-anish-infinityOn one side of the sculpture people are reflected right side up and on the other side upside down. marylou kissing the bean in chicagoIn Chicago my husband Dave made me kiss myself in the Anish Kapoor sculpture. 

anish-kapoor-inside-outI didn’t kiss Upside Down Inside Out. But I did take a picture of myself reflected right side up, upside down and at the bottom sideways in Upside Down Inside Out.  It was pretty cool. 

Other posts……..

Chicago Holiday- Day 3

All Boarded Up At the Winnipeg Art Gallery

A Unique Discovery Along the Banks of the South Saskatchewan


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Filed under Arizona, Art