As someone who bikes all over Winnipeg I am thrilled to see so many new designated bicycle lanes like this one on Sherbrooke being built. Another thing we need in the city however are more bike racks and stands where cyclists can lock their bikes as they shop or dine or visit public spaces and buildings. Last week we joined our children for dinner at The Grove restaurant on Stafford. There were no bike racks in sight and all the street signs around already had a couple of bikes locked up to them. We ended up walking a few blocks to find a street sign that we could use for locking up our bikes. On Saturday morning we went to Hildegard’s for coffee and right in front of the bakery and coffeeshop was a bike stand. Perfect! I am not sure who is responsible for putting up bike racks and stands- the city or businesses or community groups. But if we want to encourage more people to cycle it is important to give them places to lock and leave their bikes.
Biking the Beach in Costa Rica
The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island
Slathering on sunscreen and getting on our life jackets for the journey
On Saturday we went on a canoeing adventure with our friends Ed and Millie, paddling the Assiniboine River from Ed and Millie’s home near the perimeter highway in St. James all the way down to the dock at the end of the block where our home is located in the downtown Exchange District of Winnipeg.
Ready for launch
Ed parked his van in our garage around noon and then we drove to Ed and Millie’s where Dave and Ed put our canoes into the water. We decided to paddle the Mennonite way – men in one canoe and women in the other.
Millie did a great job of steering our canoe and adjusting to my sometimes less than stellar and steady paddling skills
The more experienced paddlers the Hildebrands provided the steering in the back of the canoes and we Driedgers sat in front. It was neat to view the city from the river perspective especially all the grand homes along the banks. We saw deer and pelicans and herons and signs of beavers at work. People were so friendly- saying hello, reminding us to drink water, commenting on our paddling strokes, waving and shouting greetings to us from bridges. During the first half of our journey the river was very shallow and we went aground a couple of times on sandbars that extended on for quite a distance. At one point when Millie and I couldn’t seem to free ourselves from a sandbar a kindly gentleman who lived along the water donned his hip waders and came out to help us, showing us the channel of deeper water where we could get through. We stopped for lunch at Omands Creek Park. Millie had made delicious cheese and vegetable biscuits and brought along some of her homemade spicy pickles from this year’s batch. Mostly though we just drank and drank- plenty of water and a little beer. I hadn’t brought along a water bottle which was silly and I was actually a mite dizzy when we got out of the canoes at lunchtime. It was 36 degrees on Saturday but during most of our journey we had a little bit of a breeze to cool us. For the second half of our paddle the river was much deeper, but the current was a little harder to navigate and we encountered some larger boats that created waves for our canoes. The distance from Ed and Millie’s house to ours is 15 kilometers as the crow flies so I am thinking we probably paddled at least 20 or more kilometers along our winding river route. Once we reached the dock on Waterfront Drive we loaded up the canoes one by one and returned them and then we went back to Ed and Millie’s. Dave and Ed took a dip in the Assiniboine to refresh themselves. Then we had appetizers and drinks down by the river in Ed and Millie’s lush and lovely back yard. A marvelous meal of barbecued pork, kale salad and fresh garden vegetables followed and it was dark before we headed inside for a piece of Millie’s delicious homemade apple pie and ice-cream and a last glass of wine.
It was easy to fall asleep Saturday night. We’d had lots of exercise and fresh air, lively and interesting conversation, excellent food and a great time with good friends.
Kayaking in Laos
A Serendipitous Sail
A Gourmet Sail
On our visit last week to my brother and sister-in-law’s cottage at Moose Lake we took my 89-year-old father out for a boat ride. As we circumnavigated the lake in my brother’s sleek, spacious boat we recalled the other boats that had been at the cottage in years gone by. When my grandparents owned the cottage in the 1960s we had an old yellow and white wooden boat called The Pepper. It was named after my father’s youngest sister Nettie. Her family nickname was Pepper no doubt because of her lively, fun-loving personality that added plenty of spice to our family life.
My father and our older son fishing on the KenMark
During later decades when my parents owned the cottage my father purchased a more modern motorboat he called The KenMark. It was named after my two brothers Ken and Mark. I had not remembered any family controversy about The KenMark name but my siblings had vivid memories of it. Apparently my mother was not consulted about the boat’s name and when she saw it emblazoned on the hull she confronted my Dad.
My mom at the cottage with our younger son
Why had he not named the boat the DoMaKa? My mother’s name was Dorothy, my sister is Kaaren and if you combined the first two initials of their names with the first two of mine MaryLou you would get DoMaKa. I’m sure Mom’s response was partially humorous. She was not really a confrontational person. But it’s kind of neat to know that although the boat remained The KenMark throughout its decades of use at the cottage at one point my Mom stood up for the women in the family and suggested an alternative.
My Mom with her only granddaughter on her last visit to Moose Lake in 2011
Many Women Are Pastors But Our Language Still Excludes Them
What a Difference
Dora Dueck ended a recent post on her delightful blog Chronicles of Aging with the statement “writing is the way I think and the way I remember.” I could resonate with that completely! Writing about an event, a book, a movie or a trip helps me to process it and to remember it. During a recent clean up of his home my father found two small daily diaries that belonged to my maternal grandmother. Grandma’s journals made me suspect that the need to write about life experiences is something I may have inherited.
Writing in a house we rented in Iceland
Someone I know who is trying to help a partner struggling with memory loss is encouraging them to keep a journal. There is evidence that journaling not only improves memory but also helps your emotional and mental health.
I often consider whether it may be time to stop writing this blog, to end a nearly 35 year assignment as a newspaper columnist or to take a hiatus from other long standing writing gigs. But I think even if I did give up those public forms of recording and reflecting I would need to journal privately in order to keep on living in a meaningful way. I know many people who have other ways of thinking through things and remembering them- whether it is through photos they take, sketches they do, discussions they have, songs they compose, collections of memorabilia they treasure, time spent in meditation, scrap booking or prayer. But for me writing is the way I think and remember.
A Honeymoon Adventure
Mailboxes of Distinction
I was once an eighth grader myself and I parented two sons through that phase. Those experiences however have little in common with what it is like to be an eighth grader today in a world dominated by technology, where navigating relationships on Instagram and Snap Chat is perilous and where trying to figure out who you are apart from your social media presence seems impossible. The movie Eighth Grade which I saw on Monday night with friends does an amazing job of taking you into the world of young teens and showing you just how strange and difficult and awkward it can be to find your way through that social milieu.
The young girl at the center of the film Kayla lives with her father who has been her single parent since she was just a toddler. He is such a good dad! Concerned, caring, trying to give his daughter space to make choices but at the same time letting her know he is always there for her. Kayla is at a point of such low self esteem but her father makes it clear he thinks she’s a great kid!
The father Mark Day played by Josh Hamilton clearly believes being a good father is the most important thing in his life. He has a job but he doesn’t appear to let work or his social life interfere with his clear priority to just ‘be around’ so whenever his daughter does want to talk or she is upset he’s there.
The movie is great on many levels- from fifteen year old Elsie Fisher’s amazing performance as Kayla- to wonderful but cringe worthy scenes like the one where Kayla has a date with a loveable but totally nerdy boy she met at a party- to the truly scary scenes like the one where a highschool guy tries to take advantage of Kayla’s need to be liked and accepted.
I’d recommend the movie first and foremost though for parents of young teens because the Dad in this movie although he is bumbling and gets it wrong sometimes, and can drive his daughter wild, is basically stoic and caring and provides a textbook example of how to parent an eighth grader with unconditional love and a reassuring presence.
Why Adults Are Reading Teen Fiction
Why Do We Share Our Worst Selves With the People We Love the Most
My grandparents bought a cottage at Moose Lake in 1960. Later my parents owned it for many decades. Now my brother and his wife own it. This week my siblings and I gathered there with our Dad and some of our partners to plan my father’s 90th birthday celebration this fall.
Where I’m From – Moose Lake
At the Lake
Lord You Have Come To the Lakeshore
Posing with a statue of dissident artist Ai Weiwei at the Art Gallery of Ontario
The news on Saturday that dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s studio in Beijing was being demolished by Chinese authorities without any notice reminded me of visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario I made five years ago to see a stunning display of Ai Weiwei’s work.
Ai Weiwei has curried criticism from Chinese authorities with exhibits like this snake he made with school bags to commerate the children killed in the Sichuan earthquake because of shoddy construction of their schools. The Chinese government refused to investigate or release the names of the children who had died so Ai Weiwei launched a citizen’s investigation project to compile a list of the victims. They were on a paper covering an entire wall in the exhibit I saw.
These Han Dynasty Pots are more than 2000 years old. By decorating them with bright industrial paint Ai Weiwei reminds viewers of the wholesale destruction of artifacts from China’s past during the Cultural Revolution.
Here he decorates a pot with the Coca Cola logo to show how globalization is changing China, making its history of less value and perhaps hinting at some of the health concerns created in China because of globalization.
Called Brain Inflation this piece shows the x-ray of Ai Weiwei’s head that was taken to determine the physical damage he suffered when he was beaten by Chinese authorities prior to his arrest and imprisonment in 2009.
In this famous photo the artist gives the finger to Beijing’s iconic Forbidden City. Work like this is probably why Ai Weiwei has been living in exile in Germany for the last three years ever since his four years of house arrest in China ended. It may also be why his Shanghai studio was demolished by authories in 2011 and maybe even why his Beijing studio was reduced to rubble last week without any prior notice, although government officials claim it was all just part of a program to get rid of unsafe old buildings in order to make room for new rental properties. Sadly other Chinese artists’ studios were destroyed as well.
Ai Weiwei with an installation in New York called Fences Make Good Neighbours. It opened in October of 2017 and is a commentary on the refugee crisis.
What has happened to Ai Weiwei is a good reminder that freedom of artistic expression should never be taken for granted.
Thoughts on Hope
A Controversial Statue
The Family of Jesus Portrayed in a Controversial Way