A Passport of Her Own?

grandma-and-grandpa-schmidt-passportA treasure I found while helping my aunt move recently was my grandparents’ passport from 1945. It was interesting to note that my grandmother did not have a passport of her own but traveled on my grandfather’s passport. My grandmother is simply known as wife on the passport and no profession is given for her even though my grandfather’s farming enterprise could hardly have survived without her many contributions.

When my Mom and her sisters were in their early twenties they accomapined their parents on a trip to Kansas.

When my Mom and her sisters were in their early twenties they accompanied their parents on a trip to Kansas.

My aunt says my grandparents never traveled outside of North America but in 1945 my grandparents and their three daughters did make a trip to visit relatives in Kansas so Grandpa may have thought they should have a passport for that.

Both my grandparents immigrated to Canada from the United States as teenagers and for their honeymoon in 1917 they traveled to California and Kansas to visit relatives.  They did not go back to the United States till 1945 when they took their daughters to meet all their American relatives.  passportThe passport states that my grandfather only became a Canadian citizen in 1941. This was long after my grandfather immigrated to Canada in 1907 and nearly 25 years after he married Grandma in 1917.  I wonder why he stayed an American citizen so long. 

One other interesting fact I discovered from my grandparents’ passport is that they both had blue eyes and my grandfather was nearly a foot taller than my grandmother. 

I am glad my aunt kept my grandparents’ passport all those years.  It has helped me to learn more about them. 

Other posts……..

My Nephew! My Hero!

A Lost Passport

A New Passport


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Music to Soothe the Soul

choir-programI always appreciate the Garden City Collegiate choir programs but the one on Thursday night was especially fine. So many of the song lyrics evoked a real sense of peace. Seeing all those beautiful young people enjoying their chance to sing and hearing them perform pieces of music with such meaningful texts was very inspiring. 

garden-city-choirThe lyrics of Eleanor Daley’s beautiful piece In Remembrance reminded me how blessed I am to be surrounded by people who love me and whom I love. It also made me think about how their influence can continue on in my life even after death. 

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am the thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight-ripened grain,
I am the gentle morning rain.

And when you wake in the morning’s hush,
I am the sweet uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

garden city choirThe lyrics of the piece Ubi Caritas by Ola Gjeilo reminded me that wherever and whenever people show love and care for one another God is present. 

Listening to the voices of three talented soloists soar on The Storm is Passing Over by C.A. Tindley was inspiring.  The words of this song evoke such a sense of hope. 

Courage, my soul, and let us journey on,
Tho’ the night is dark, it won’t be very long.
Thanks be to God, the morning light appears,
And the storm is passing over, Hallelujah!

choir-from-garden-cityI had to look up the lyrics to O Lux Beatissima. At the concert I just closed my eyes and reveled in the lovely sound of the music. Knowing the English translation of the words made the song even more meaningful. 

O light most blessed,

Fill the inmost heart
Of all thy faithful

Enkindle your light in our minds

Infuse your love into our hearts

img_3981My  gifted daughter-in-law is one of the teachers at Garden City and marveling at the beautiful sounds she and her colleagues elicted from hundreds of talented young people added to my sense of enjoyment and peace at the concert.  It was a great way to begin advent. 

Other posts………..

That’s How Light Gets In

How Diverse!

Flunky Jim and Gopher Tails with Grandpa


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All Boarded Up at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

border-xThe Winnipeg Art Gallery is all boarded up these days. There are surfboards, skateboards and snowboards on view in our Boarder X exhibit. The works by indigenous artists get you thinking about our relationship to the environment and other people in new ways. The bright surfboards in the photo above come from Australia and were created by artist Vernon Ah Kee.  They have aboriginal rainforest designs on the front and use the colors from the Australian aboriginal flag. On the back of each surfboard are black and white portraits  of Vernon’s relatives. Only half of their faces are shown.  racism-quoteThe colorful surfboards are surrounded by texts that were chanted during race riots in Sydney Australia in 2005

surfing-videoand accompained by a provocative and at times jarring video.  

roger-craitYou can stand in front of this cityscape of Winnipeg for a long time finding new and interesting things in it. It was created by Roger Crait, who was a passionate skateboarder as a teen and young adult.  To me the wings on the planes and insects look like painted skateboards and there are skateboards hiding in other places too. Both skateboarding and painting are activities that require lots of practice if you want to become skilled at them.  

jordan-bennet-workThese cedar boards were designed by Jordan Bennet who is from Newfoundland.  They were inspired by stories he heard about the land and the history of his people. 

jordan-bennetI had some elementary school students in the art gallery this week and I gave them a whole variety of felt shapes to make designs of their own in Jordan Bennet’s style.  They came up with some pretty creative stuff. meghann o brienThere’s a fascinating trio of pieces related to snowboarding. First this digital photograph by Mason Mashon where the tiny snowboarder surveys the route ahead and…..


and then these two pieces Sky Blanket and Clouds by weaver Meghann O’Brien.

mark-igloliorteMark Igloliorte shows viewers the similarities between kayaking and skateboarding in his  video installation

Skateboard-Kayak- Flip- Roll. 

Boarder X brings together elements you might not think have lots in common but you’ll be excited to see how they do and you’ll find lots of personal connections of your own as you walk through the exhibit. 

Other posts…….

The Dakota Boat

Parfleches for the Last Supper

A Controversial Statue

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A Christmas Carol Saved Our Lives- Christmas Question #1

For a Christmas party I hosted last week I had printed out holiday questions.  Guests took turns taking them out of the bag and answering them.  I thought it might be fun to write about my own responses to the questions and hopefully some of you will reply with yours.

Question #1

What is your favorite Christmas carol?

Singing Lo How A Rose with our family in 2002

Singing Lo How A Rose with our family in 2002 at my parents’ home

My favorite Christmas carol is Lo How a Rose e’er Blooming.  That carol may have saved our family’s life.  Our children came to Hong Kong to visit us for Christmas in 2004.  We planned to spend part of the kids’ time in Asia in Phuket, Thailand holidaying at a resort there.  Initially Dave booked us to fly out to Phuket on Christmas Eve.  We would check into our resort on Christmas Day and we planned a snorkeling excursion for the 26th.  When the pastor of our Hong Kong church heard our children were coming for Christmas he asked if our family would sing at an international carol service on the 24th in the evening.  We thought that would be a nice thing to do, so Dave moved all our bookings up a day, changing our flights to the 25th and our snorkeling trip to the 27th . That probably saved our lives since the tsunami struck on the 26th and we had initially planned to be out on the ocean snorkeling that day. Luckily the resort we checked into on the 25th was high on a cliff so we only felt some trembling from the tsunami and were safe. christmas singing tao fong shanThe carol we sang at our Hong Kong church Tao Fong Shan at the Christmas Eve service was Lo How a Rose e’er Blooming. We chose it because we had sung it together before.   We still sing it together every Christmas as a reminder of just how fortunate we were during the Christmas season of 2004 .

Other posts……

Christmas in Hong Kong

Christmas Carol Inspiration

The Nun’s Christmas

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So Excited

canscaip-logoThe official announcement came out this morning.  A manuscript for a picture book I submitted to a competition for new children’s authors in Canada was one of four finalists from among hundreds of entries. I am so excited!  I submitted to the contest last year and although my manuscript made it to the final jury I didn’t crack the top four list.  So I edited the story again and again trying to follow all the advice the contest judges had provided, and submitted it to this year’s contest.  And I was a finalist.  The really wonderful thing about being in the top four is that my manuscript will now be given to three Canadian publishers – Annick Press, Kids Can Press and Scholastic Canada for their consideration and I will receive feedback from their editors about how to improve my manuscript. Since these publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts the only way  for me to have them read my story was to be a finalist in this contest. 

I first wrote my story as an assignment in a writing course three and a half years ago and since then have been refining it and changing it constantly to improve it.  I read somewhere that if a picture book gets published it usually takes from five to six years, so I am on the road.  

I owe HUGE thanks to my friend and former Winnipeg Art Gallery colleague Perry Nodelman who gave me such helpful feedback on my manuscript and was the one who suggested I enter my story in this contest, and to the members of The Anita Factor, my writers’ group who have listened to my story many times and offered such wise advice. 

Other posts…….

Writing For Children- Not As Easy As I Thought

Picture Books Have Changed

Talk About Being In Good Company


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Wash Day Tragedy

Version 2I recently found this photograph of my maternal grandmother on the back porch of her farmhouse in Drake Saskatchewan doing her laundry. It fascinated me. You see I had known since I was very small that Grandma had experienced a tragedy while doing her laundry and this photo reminded me of that.

When I was a little girl and would sit on my grandmother’s lap I noticed that the skin on one of her arms was laced with scars and hung down from the bone in a crepey and twisted way. My grandmother was a very attractive petite woman who always dressed beautifully so this anomaly in her appearance intrigued me. Grandma explained to me that once her arm had been caught in the wringer of a washing machine and that had permanently scared her arm.

The inside of my grandmother's right arm was full of scars and twisted skin

Here I am with my grandparents. The inside of my grandmother’s one arm was full of scars and twisted skin. 

I asked my aunt about the accident when I phoned her yesterday and she said it happened in the mid 1940s  in summer on the back porch in a scene similar to the one in the photograph.  My aunt already had a teaching job in a nearby community where she spent the winter but her summers were spent at her parents. She remembers being inside and hearing my grandmother screaming. She and her sister ran outside to find their mothers’ arm caught in the wringer of the washing machine. Somehow as she fed the clothing through the wringer her hand got caught in the moving rollers and her arm up to her elbow was crushed.  My aunt doesn’t remember if they called the doctor and my grandmother’s hand and arm eventually healed.

My sister and brother and I with my grandmother. Her arm was definitely healed enought to hold a baby.

My sister and brother and I with my grandmother. Her arm was definitely healed enough to hold a baby.

I never noticed that grandma’s hand lacked mobility. She crocheted, painted, hooked rugs and wrote letters in a lovely hand so aside from its appearance her arm seemed normal. She was not at all embarrassed about her deformed arm and let us touch the loose skin. We asked her to tell us the story of her laundry accident over and over.  My grandmother was a beautiful person through and through and her scars only made her more interesting. 

Other posts………..

Earrings and Tombstones

Rural Roots

Baseball Legacy


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Cut in Stone

The Owl stonecut on paper by Lukta Qiatsuk- 1959

The Owl stonecut on paper by Lukta Qiatsuk- 1959

Stone block for owl by Lukta Qiatsuk 1959

Stone block for The Owl by Lukta Qiatsuk 1959

For me the most fascinating room in the Our Land exhibit currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is the one featuring a series of stone cut prints. There are many different ways Inuit artists make prints but stone cuts are unique. In the Our Land exhibit we are fortunate enough to be able to see not only the prints, but also the stone cuts used to make them.  The Owl is interesting because the same artist, Lukta Qiatsuk drew the image and created the stone cut to be used for the print. Often however the artist who creates the image for the print is different from the carver who recreates the image in the stone.

Wier at Shartoweektok by Pitseolak Ashoona- 1975

Weir at Shartoweektok by Pitseolak Ashoona- 1975

The image for this print was drawn by one artist…

Stone block for Weir at Sharoweetok by Sagiatuk Sagiatuk and Timothy Ottochie-1975

Stone block for Weir at Sharoweetok by Sagiatuk Sagiatuk and Timothy Ottochie-1975

But the stone block was carved by two different artists. Once they had carved the image in stone the printmakers applied colored ink to it using a tool called a brayer and then laid a sheet of paper on the inked block and rubbed the back of the paper using a flat tool to apply even pressure. After the ink had soaked into the paper, the paper was peeled carefully from the stone block to reveal the printed impression. The image on the print always appears in reverse of the original drawing.

Angakuk's Tent by Ikayukta Tunnillie

Angakuk’s Tent by Ikayukta Tunnillie

The art of stone cut printmaking is new to Inuit artists. It was introduced by James Houston an artist who went to the Arctic to work after World War II and in 1958 traveled to Japan to study woodcut printmaking with Japanese masters of the art. Houston shared what he had learned with Inuit artists and they adapted the woodcut technique for stone. 

Stone block for Angakuk's Tent by Qabaroak Qatsiya 1975

Stone block for Angakuk’s Tent by Qabaroak Qatsiya 1975

Normally when a printmaker has made about 50 prints the stone carving that created it is ground flat. So we are fortunate the ones in the exhibit have been preserved for us to see. The exhibit Our Land includes a film showing how the prints are made and a display case with some of the tools used in the printmaking process. 

Other posts……

The Globalization of Art from Japan to Cape Dorset

Learning to Print

Transferring the Real to the Unreal

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