Grandparents Who Were Readers

annie jantz schmidtI came across these photos of my maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt recently.  In each photo they are seen reading.  peter schmidtI was fortunate to have four grandparents who all liked to read.  I don’t have photos of my paternal grandmother Margaretha Peters reading but I do remember making regular trips to the bookstore in Steinbach to buy her romance novels in German. I remember how my grandfather Diedrich Peters loved to read National Geographic. 

I had four grandparents who modeled reading as a worthwhile and enjoyable activity.  I was lucky.  I hope I can be that kind of model for my grandchildren too. 

Other posts…….

The Lady With The Book

They Remembered the Books

A Bottomless Vortex of Books

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Filed under Books, Family

Are You A Grown Up?

Judith Viorst

What are the marks of maturity? How do you know if you have truly grown up? Many years ago I heard author and poet Judith Viorst speak at the Pantages Theatre in Winnipeg.  

I have long been an admirer of Ms. Viorst’s children’s books like…….Alexander and the Horrible Terrible No Good Very Bad Day  and The Tenth Good Thing About Barney.  Judith also writes poetry for adults most of it about coming of age, whether that age be 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80. 

The night I heard her speak she used a series of highly entertaining anecdotes to illustrate the signs we should look for if we wanted to determine whether we were truly a grown up.

According to Viorst being a grown up means………..

1. Realizing you aren’t necessarily everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. Some people will like you and some won’t. That’s natural and you accept it. 

2. Understanding you cannot be responsible for making sure all the people you love are always happy. Your friends and family need to bear some of the responsibility for their own happiness. 

3. Accepting the ‘dark’ side of your personality. Knowing you have faults but not being too judgemental of yourself. Admitting that despite your negative qualities you are still basically a good person. 

4.  Being firmly optimistic even when things go wrong in life. Always remembering that even when things appear catastrophic eventually healing will come and pain will diminish. 

5. Having the ability to comfort yourself and the grace to receive comfort from others. 

6. Committing yourself in some way to making the world a better place to live in before you die. 

What next?  Judith Viorst ended her talk by encouraging us not to worry if we hadn’t achieved her six marks of a grownup. She told us when we quit the ‘growing up process’ we may as well quit the living process as well. 

Other posts………..

Start and End Happy

Life’s A Symphony

Life Symbols

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Filed under Reflections, Retirement

The Architect’s Apprentice

Tonight my book club at the West Kildonan Library will be discussing The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak.   Shafak, a Turkish author,  says her book was inspired by this image of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent which has an elephant in the background. The print created in 1559, during the same time period as the events in the book, is by a German artist Melchior Lorck and is in the British Museum.

Here are four things I found interesting about the novel The Architect’s Apprentice. 

Cristofano dell'Altissimo portrait of Mihrimah Sultan

Mihrimah Sultan is the protagonist’s love interest in the book.  Here she is portrayed by Italian artist Cristofan dell’Altissimo who lived at the same time as Mihrimah did.

Although the protagonist Jahan is a fictional character author Elif Shafak has populated her novel with other characters who are real.  Jahan is an apprentice to Sinan the renowned architect of the Ottoman Empire. Sinan oversaw the building of some 500 structures and nearly 200 of them are still standing. Jahan’s love interest is the Sultan’s daughter Mihrimah. She is a historical figure as well. So are the three sultans who are in power during the time Jahan serves Sinan the Royal Architect. In one section of the book Jahan and another apprentice go to visit Michelangelo in Italy. 

the architect's apprentice book coverThere are many thought provoking reflections in the book.  Here are a three I really appreciated. 

“If you carry a sword, you obey the sword, not the other way round. Nobody can hold a weapon and keep their hands clear of blood at the same time.”

“……Jahan understood his master’s secret resided ……… in his ability to adapt to change and calamity, and to rebuild himself, again and again, out of the ruins. Sinan was made of flowing water. When anything blocked his course, he would flow under, around, above it, however he could; he found his way through the cracks, and kept flowing forward”

“Stones stay still.  A learner never.” 

another edition cover of the architect's apprenticeJahan’s closest relationship in life is with an elephant named Chota. Jahan arrives in Istanbul as Chota’s keeper and immediately sets about saving Chota’s life.  I am not necessarily a big animal lover and will admit that I’ve never understood the deep love some people have for their pets, but I was quite taken with the way Jahan and Chota care for one another, know each other so well, come to one another’s defense, respect each other and provide each other with solace and comfort at crucial times. 

posing at the taj mahalAnd finally at the end of the book Jahan travels to Agra India to help design and build the dome for the Taj Mahal.  I have been to the Taj Mahal and my husband made me pose for this photo where I am appearing to hold up the magnificent structure by the top of the dome. 

Other posts……..

The Taj Mahal At Dawn

Do Buildings Have Souls?

A Story Board in a Painting




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Filed under Books, History, India

A Dutch Touch on A Fine Fall Afternoon

IMG_0521On Friday my friend Esther and I paid a visit to the Amsterdam Tea Room just beside Old Market Square at the heart of the Exchange District. I had been there before for tea but never for a meal.  As the name of the restaurant indicates there is a distinctly Dutch flavor to the menu items.  amsterdam tea room vegetable sandwich I had a vegetable sandwich with beet soupendive salad amsterdam tea roomand Esther had the endive, pear, grape salad with the pea, celery and leek soup.   tea selection amsterdam tea roomThey have dozens and dozens of kinds of tea on offer at the Amersterdam Tea Room.  I opted for the Pina Colada tea and Esther chose a chai blend.  We had a lovely meal at a sunny window table and caught up on what had happened in each of our lives since we last got together.  sketching old market squareWe had planned to sketch in one of the many art galleries in the Exchange but it was such a gorgeous day we sat at a picnic table in Old Market Square to work on some new pages in our sketch books.  old market square sketchingWinnipeg, we decided, is a beautiful place indeed on a fine fall afternoon!

Other posts……….

Autumn’s Beauty on the Black Sand Beaches of Iceland

Autumn is the Perfect Time for Writing

Autumn Dreams Are in the Air

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Filed under Food, Restaurants, Winnipeg

Playing Church

The last few days I’ve been going through old family photos to prepare for my Dad’s upcoming birthday and while doing so I came across this picture of me and my siblings ‘playing church.’   I am leading worship from the piano bench, my eyes closed in pious prayer. My sister is joining me in prayer but my little brother, although his eyes are closed seems to be doing his own thing, waving something in his hand.  My sister has her arm around him trying to keep his behavior in check. Behind us on the piano is a Sunday School book titled We Learn About Jesus. I see my little purse on the piano as well and since my sister and I are in nice dresses  perhaps we had just returned from a church service and were reenacting it. playing church

It is interesting to me that I played the role of the minister and leader in this  ‘pretending church’ game because in the churches of my childhood no women would have led worship or preached. Those were exclusively male roles in the congregation.

I am preaching in a church in southeastern Manitoba this morning.  Perhaps my childhood pretending game was a good omen for future changes that would come to the church providing opportunities for woman to be leaders and preachers. 

Other posts……….

Many Women Are Pastors But Our Language Still Excludes Them

More Visible But Not Equal

Doc Schroeder

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Filed under Family, Religion

Being Present

me and grandpa schmidt

Me and my grandfather Peter Schmidt

Recently at a small dinner party the conversation between the five grandparents seated around the table turned to talk of the things we liked to do with our grandchildren.  One grandfather noted that he figured the reason his grandson enjoyed spending time with him so much was because he was able to give him his undivided attention.  When he and his grandson were together the grandfather focused only on the little guy. He wasn’t on his phone or his computer. He wasn’t busy with necessary household tasks or taking care of career and other family responsibilities. As a retiree he had the time and was deliberate about taking the time to really ‘be in the moment’ with his grandson, focus on him and throughly enjoy the things they did together.

I was lucky to have grandparents who I remember taking the time to give me their undivided attention and I have vivid memories of the things we did together, a grandmother patiently teaching me to embroider,a grandfather who taught me to ride a bike, a grandmother who let me help her do an oil painting, a grandfather who told me stories.  I hope I can be that  kind of grandparent too. 

Other posts……..

On My Grandparents’ Farm

When My Grandmother Was Twelve Years Old

My Grandmother Was A Guitarist


Filed under Family

Industrial Doilies

oil drum skeletal red map cal laneIndustrial doilies.  That’s what some people call Canadian artist Cal Lane’s pieces.  Her work Oil Drum Skeletal Red Map is now on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of an exhibit called Ways of Seeming.  Like most of her sculptures this one is made from repurposed steel. Cal used a welding torch to turn an old oil can into this delicate lacy map.  Cal dissected the can and rolled it open. She’s kept the two ends of the barrel as well and has made the North and South poles with them. 

Cal Lane panty tank-smCal uses not only old oil cans, but old shovels and wheelbarrows and other steel objects to create her art. cal_lane_art

 Oil Drum Skeletal Red Map is a piece that can hold your attention for a long time because there are so many interesting things to see in Cal’s intricate lacy designs. lane oil drum map

It is going to be a fun “I Spy” piece to examine with children. skeletal map cal lane

detail red map landNote:  For younger blog readers who may not know what a doily is- it’s a small ornamental lacy piece of fabric that is often placed beneath something.  Doilies were very popular sixty or seventy years ago. My grandmothers both made doilies and had them scattered on various pieces of furniture around their homes.

grandma's embroidery

An embroidery and lace doily made by my grandmother Margaretha Peters

Other posts…………

Art From All Kinds of Things

Tin Can Art And Feeding the Homeless


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Filed under Art, WInnipeg Art Gallery