Monthly Archives: September 2014

Post A Yellow Ribbon

My Facebook Page is awash with yellow ribbons. They express support for the thousands of young people staging a peaceful protest in Hong Kong.  They want Hong Kong to have the right to hold free democratic elections. Chinese government leaders in Beijing say they must first approve all candidates who will run for political office in Hong Kong. 

I lived in Hong Kong for six years

I lived in Hong Kong for six years

I lived in Hong Kong for six years and still have many contacts there. My former Hong Kong students, colleagues and my friends are expressing their support for the protestors by using yellow ribbons as their Facebook profile pictures.

Some of my Hong Kong contacts do not agree with what the protestors are doing, and others are urging the protestors not to make the police their enemy, since they want democracy too. Everyone though admires the peaceful, polite way the students are exercising their right to protest. No stores have been looted, no windows broken, no physical damage done.  Hong Kong citizens supporting the strikers have voluntarily helped them to clean up garbage so the streets will remain as clean as possible. I even saw photos of protestors cleaning police cars.

A friend posted just minutes ago that she was walking among the protestors at one site and couldn’t believe how clean and organized everything was. Volunteers collected trash, directed traffic and provided first aid. People were caring for strangers and the protestors sat quietly, patiently and peacefully. 

One former colleague walked amongst the protestors last night and reported, “Those people have my respect. It was stifling hot tonight, the pollution was off the charts, and yet they all remain calmly determined.” 

Another Hong Kong friend who has been going down to visit with the protestors says he is so impressed with the way the people are caring for each other by handing out water, giving away food, providing cold compresses and helping to collect rubbish and recycle it. My friend says the community spirit he is observing is amazing. He photographed signs promoting love and peace. 

One Hong Kong colleague of mine posted an announcement for a church prayer service for the city and another noted that one church was acting as a distribution point to dispense provisions to the protestors.  A Hong Kong pastor I know posted a Chinese sign on his Facebook page.

It is in front of an apartment building near the protest site and reads…..”Flat 61 is open for the use of the people of Hong Kong! For those who need it, please go to the 13th floor.There you’ll find water, electricity, toilet facilities and a little place to rest. PEACE HONG KONG.” 

Hong Kong Harbor

Hong Kong Harbor

Hong Kong holds a very special place in my heart and in the last few days I have been watching the news of the protests with interest and concern. I am praying that things will resolve peacefully. One of my former students posted this on her Facebook page last night. 

Other posts …….

Remembering Tiananmen Square

New York Reminds Me of Hong Kong

The Swimmers of Tolo Harbor



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Filed under Hong Kong, Politics

A Winery Named After My Newspaper Column

viewpointe winery ontarioI’ve been writing a newspaper column called Viewpoint in The Carillon newspaper for nearly thirty years.On our recent visit to southern Ontario I discovered the Viewpointe Winery in the community of Harrow. viewpointe wineryWe spent some time exploring the winery with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who had stopped to buy wine for their restaurant.

vineyardYou could see the vineyards where they grow the  grapes for their Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. 

view from viewpoint wineryThe winery gets its name (not from my column) but I surmise from the fact that it is situated on a point of land jutting out into Lake Erie. Massive windows and the patio of the winery provide a spectacular view of the water. award winning winesMany of the Viewpointe wines are award-winning but unfortunately I couldn’t take a case home with me since we had flown to Ontario. viewpointe wineMaybe the next time we’ll drive our car when we visit Ontario so we’ll have room to take wine home.  I think I’ll go back to the Viewpointe Winery and show them some samples of my column and explain the Viewpoint connection. Who knows? I might even get a discount?

Other posts about wine……

Don’t Be A Wine Snob

Wine Stories

Wine Canyon

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Filed under Canada, Food

To The World Peace

westminster abbeyI once attended an evensong service at London’s Westminster Abbey. People have been worshipping there for a thousand years. My chair was beside a pillar decorated with a bust of poet and painter William Blake. 

Blake claimed imagination was God’s greatest gift to humans.

I was right near the graves of  Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Dickens, Byron and Keats. What would it have been like to attend Westminster Abbey in the company of such literary greats? Dickens once said people can be at peace with themselves if they have tried to be gentle, merciful and forgiving- desiring to love both neighbor and enemy. 

The worship hour began with the choir’s soprano soloist singing My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord. As I listened to her voice soar up into the rafters I couldn’t help but remember Elton John filling Westminster Abbey with his song about England’s Rose at Lady Diana’s funeral.

The service went quickly. We rose and sat and kneeled. We said the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed. The rector read the story of Joshua from the Old Testament and then prayed for each member of the royal family. No doubt despite their wealth and notoriety, or perhaps because of it, they need God’s grace and guidance as much as any of us do.

I walked out of the sanctuary past the graves of the first Queen Elizabeth and her sister, who was also a queen and known fondly as Bloody Mary. The siblings were archenemies in life, but they rest in peace in Westminster Abbey beside each other for all eternity.

Just before I stepped out the door I looked down and found my feet firmly planted on Charles Darwin’s tombstone.  It seems ironic that Darwin whose evolutionary ideas so many churches have railed against, is buried in the world’s oldest and most famous church.

As I exited the wrought iron gates around Westminster Abbey I looked at the blessing engraved on the outer wall of the church.

To the living-grace

To the dead-rest

To the world- peace

I quietly whispered- Amen.

Other posts about churches…….

Church of the Holy Cross – Sedona

Connections at All Saints Church

A Church and A Bar on Every Corner

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Filed under Culture, England, Travel

Perfect for Pre-Schoolers

 “Why don’t you do a column about books for pre-school children?” My friend Marilyn Rempel was responding to my annual newspaper column about novels perfect for summer reading. She suggested I create a list of recommended read aloud books for the pre- kindergarten crowd. What a great idea! 

 peek a who Just a few weeks ago I went to McNally Robinson Bookstore to buy Peek A Who by Nina Laden for a baby shower gift. On each page in the book there is a question. Who? Then on the next page you get the answer. It might be a ghost who boos, a cow that moos or a train that choo- choos. On the last page the answer to the question is YOU and a mirror so children can see themselves. It has been my experience that you can read Peek A Who dozens of times to a one year old and they will laugh out loud without fail when you reach the last page and they see themselves in the mirror.

   weregoingonabearhuntcoverGoing on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen has watercolor illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. It’s about a family going on a walk to look for a bear. The same phrases repeat themselves over and over in an almost hypnotic way and finding the bear is SO SCARY! There is a little dog on every page and children love looking for him. I’ve adapted this book for a Going On A Polar Bear Hunt activity when I’m guiding children through the Inuit exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It’s lots of fun!

      take me out to the ball game Canadian illustrator Maryann Kovalski has done a brilliant job of illustrating the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Jenny and Joanna get to go to a Yankees ball game with their enthusiastic and vivacious grandmother who makes sure her granddaughters have an unforgettable experience at the ball park. 

henri's walk to parisHenri’s Walk to Paris by Lenore Klein was first published in 1962. It’s a story about a little boy who learns just how special home can be when he sets out on a journey to the big city. The book’s unique illustrations are by Saul Bass an American design great. He worked with filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick. They say a good children’s book will target and engage both adults and children. Henri’s Walk to Paris does just that.

Barbara Reid is a Canadian illustrator who works exclusively in colorful clay. Children and adults enjoy finding all the marvelous little details in her plasticine masterpieces. the new baby calfI especially love her New Baby Calf based on the poem Buttercup the Cow by Edith Newlen Chase. I recited the poem Buttercup the Cow  at the Steinbach Festival when I was in grade three so it holds special memories. have you seen birdsNot to be missed are Reid’s Book of Nursery Rhymes and  Have You Seen Birds with  hundreds of birds all meticulously recreated. GIFTS-PBK-Eng-coverMy favorite Reid book is called Gifts. The text by Jo Ellen Bogart describes a Grandma who travels the world. As she shares her experiences with her grandchild in various ways she impacts future generations of her family.

There are so many great books for toddlers. As the school year begins and the weather cools, day care providers, nursery school teachers and parents are no doubt diving into their own favorites with the children they love and teach. What are your favorites?

Other posts about children’s books……..

Maurice Sendak

Children’s Christmas Books- Ten Classics 

Cloud Watching

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Filed under Books, Childhood

Back in Chicken Soup

chicken soup reboot your lifeI’ve sold another story of mine to the Chicken Soup For the Soul series of books and along with my cheque I’ve received ten copies of the book. Let me know if you’d like one. This time the book is called Reboot Your Life and I’ve written a story about our move to Hong Kong in 2003 which was complicated by the outbreak of SARS just after we had signed our contracts with an international school. Let me know if you’d like a copy. They are also available on I Tunes  from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as Indigo. 

Other posts about Chicken Soup books…….

I’m In Chicken Soup 

Chicken Soup For Kids


Filed under Books, Writing

They Don’t Grow Tomatoes Like They Used To

dave, ken, steve, tnate marionDuring our stay in Leamington, Ontario we visited the tomato growing operation of my husband Dave’s cousin Ken Enns and his son Steve.dave steve uncle johnnyWe took our tour with Dave’s Uncle Johnny and Tante Marion who had just served us an amazing meal at their home- cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers, zwiebach, fruit salad, vegetable salad, fresh corn, roasted potatoes, chocolate cake and coffee for dessert and of course a plate of freshly sliced tomatoes. 

greenhouse in southern ontarioThey sure don’t grow tomatoes the way they did when Dave was a young boy working on his parents’ tomato farm. tomatoes are grown in fibre glassTomatoes grow in fibre glass now, not in the ground. The nutrients they are fed are a special carefully mixed combination of chemicals that provide for optimum growth. water purified by ultra violet lightThe water the plants receive is purified by ultra-violet light. dave checks out tomato plantsIn order to avoid the use of pesticides insects are introduced into the greenhouse that won’t hurt the plants but will eat insects that are harmful to the tomato plants. bees in greenhouseBees are necessary for pollination and live in these boxes in the rows.jamaican worker

In the 1950s and 60s Dave’s parents ran their vegetable farm with only their five sons for workers. The Enns farm employs some 100 workers, most of them from Jamaica. Dave stopped to chat with one of the women whose home is near Runaway Bay where we spent a month working in a tutoring centre last year. green house workersKen is proud of the way their employees are treated. They are paid fair wages, provided with clean modern housing and have good working conditions. KEN AND DAVEThe Enns tomatoes are shipped to places all over the United States for sale in grocery stores. computer chips greenhouseKen shows us the computerized devices worn by employees that allows his manager to keep track of all hundred workers and monitor in which rows  they have picked tomatoes in the greenhouse and how good a job they’ve done. They are paid bonuses for doing their job efficiently and the green house tomatoes southern ontarioComputers keep track of when the tomato vines are growing too high and automatically lower the tubing the vines are attached to so the vines never reach the glass ceiling of the greenhouse. heating bill in greenhouseHeating the greenhouses which operate eleven months of the year can cost as much as 2 million dollars. picking cartsCarts that move along the tracks between rows carry the workers as they pick. The platforms on the carts can be raised and lowered so workers don’t need to bend down or reach up to pick the tomatoes. carbon dioxideSince there isn’t always enough carbon dioxide in the greenhouse for all those plants to breathe; extra gas is fed into the plant rows through tubes that run just under the rows of vines. box folding machineThere is even a machine that folds and assembles all the boxes the tomatoes are packed in for shipping.touring a green houseKen told us that scientists are always working to create better, healthier varieties of tomatoes.enns farms leamingtonThey don’t grow tomatoes the way they used to but seeing how they are grown today sure was fascinating. Thanks Ken for the great tour!

Other posts about growing things…….

Leamington- The Tomato Capital of Canada

He Hasn’t Lost His Green Thumb

Fair Trade Coffee in Laos


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Filed under Canada, Family, Nature

Treking to the Tip of Canada

standing on the tip of canadaI’m standing on the tip of  Canada. driedger family at tipLast week we did a bike and walking trek in Point Pelee National Park located on a spit that sticks out into Lake Erie and is the southern most point in mainland Canada. cottage on Lake ErieOur morning started at the lovely cottage on Lake Erie owned by our niece Hannah and her husband Justin. dave and hannahHannah made us a delicious breakfast of cinnamon waffles with fruit and whipped cream and and hannahWe enjoyed our hot coffee on Hannah’s lakeside deck. the three of usHannah’s parents Linda and John joined us for our morning adventure. 

dog on deck chairHannah’s dog Roxie was certainly loving the morning air. getting the bikes readyThen it was time to get the tires pumped up and the bikes ready for our ride down to the point. cycling point peleeWe cycled as many kilometres as the bike path lasted, stopping to enjoy some natural wonders along the way.  spider webA spider spinning a webbumble bee collecting nectarA bee collecting nectarwild turkeysWild turkeys crossing the roadcaterpillara colorful caterpillar on the pavementwelcome to the tip of canadaEventually we arrived at the walking path that would lead us to the beach and the actual southern tip of Canada.parking the bikesWe parked our bikes and

apples for snacks davefortified ourselves with the apples Hannah had brought along for a snackwalkingbefore setting off on our hike.42nd parallelWe were just south of the 42nd parallel near the border between Canada and the United States at this particular spot. In most of the rest of Canada the border rests on the 49th parallel. We were now as far south as Rome and Barcelona and the northern part of California. dave hannahAfter we reached the lakeshore Dave and Hannah stopped to look at Pelee Island an even more southern Canadian destination where Hannah was born and lived with her family till she was ten. 

driedger family at the tip of canadaWe’ve arrived! Other visitors told us there had been thousands of monarch butterflies roosting here the night before. The butterflies stop at Point Pelee on their migration south. They need to rest before beginning their journey crossing Lake Erie and then heading to Mexico. We would have had to arrive at sunrise however to see them before they left.hannah's fall displayThen we made the trek back to Hannah’s home. It seemed to be a little farther on the return journey.loading the bikesWe loaded the bikes which Dave’s brother Paul and his wife Shirley had lent us, back into the truck which John and Linda had let us use. (We have a generous family)at freddy's for lunchAnd headed to a nearby restaurant called Freddy’s for lunch.southern most tip of mainland canadaWhat a perfect fall morning we’d had in one of the most beautiful places in Canada. 

Other posts about being tourists in the southern Ontario area…..

Leamington- The Tomato Capital of Canada

The Heidelberg Project

The Fist

The Beatitudes Come To Life




Filed under Canada, Family, Nature