Monthly Archives: July 2015

I Remember When…..

Church at the Mennonite Heritage Museum. I remember when I was a little girl my grandparents' attended a church like this and men and women sat on different sides of the sanctuary.

This is a photo I took of the church at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach. I remember when….. I was a little girl my grandparents attended a church something like this and the men and women sat on different sides of the sanctuary.

I remember when…… a young woman who attended a church in my home town was forced to “confess her sin” in front of the congregation when she became pregnant before her wedding. Her fiancée did not have to confess.

I remember when….. I was speaking at a women’s conference at a church in my home town and they told me I would need to stand behind a special microphone at the front of the church because only men could stand behind the pulpit.

I remember when….. I made a motion at a church membership meeting in my home church that we use inclusive language rather than exclusively male language when we rewrote our church constitution and the motion was defeated.

I remember when…… a young woman in our church wanted to marry a divorced man and we had meetings for months to ‘discern’ whether this would be fine. Finally she had her wedding at her parents’ home rather than in the church building where she had gone to services every Sunday since she was born.

I remember when…… they would post lists of people who would set tables and bring food and do dishes for church suppers and there were only women on the list.

I remember when….. the women in my church were referred to by their husbands’ names. They were Mrs. Henry Janzen or Mrs. Herman Epp as if they had no first names of their own.

If you would tell any of these things to a teenager in most churches today they would shake their heads in disbelief that such a time could ever have existed.

Sometimes I wonder what I remembers.….. the next generation will write decades from now, and the teenagers of that day, will shake their heads in disbelief that such a time could ever have existed.

Other posts…….

Some Mennonites But Not All

Praying Naked in Front of the Mirror

A Photograph in the Mennonite

What Will You Be Building?


Filed under Religion

He Just Disappeared !

For several weeks now the media here in Winnipeg has carried stories about a woman who simply disappeared one morning when she went for a walk.  

The news story reminds me of my visit to the Jim Thompson home in Bangkok, Thailand.  Jim too simply disappeared one morning while going for a walk.  Thompson, an architect from Delaware, was sent to Thailand as a military intelligence officer during World War II. Enamored with the exotic locale, he returned there immediately after being discharged.

Jim Thompson

During the coming years, Thompson would successfully revive a dying art in Thailand. Colorful hand-woven silks had once been a prized part of Thai culture but by the late 1940s were gradually being pushed aside by mass production. Thompson set out to change that. Armed with samples of genuine silks made by local Bangkok craftswomen he went to New York where he caught the eye of major fashion designers. Soon Thai silk was all the rage. Valentino, the dress designer began fashioning clothing with the material, raving about its luster and texture. The costume designer for the movie The King and I used Thai silk to create the outfits for the all the actors. Big hotel chains like the Hilton and Savoy featured draperies made from Thai silk. The industry took off and continues to flourish. Today more than 20,000 families in Thailand make their living weaving silk for an international market

Jim Thompson with some of the art he collected

Though busy with his new enterprise in the fabric industry, Thompson was still an architect at heart, and set about fashioning a unique home for himself in Bangkok. He purchased six old teak Thai houses decorated with hand carvings and designs. He connected them all together on a thickly- treed area of jungle land he purchased right on one of Bangkok’s famous canals. Like all traditional Thai houses his stood on stilts high above the ground. Thompson proceeded to use the substantial wealth he was accruing from his silk business to fill this home with Asian art and antiquities. Soon his collection was to be envied world-wide.

Jim Thompson House in Bangkok

Then in 1967 Thompson was vacationing in Malaysia with friends. One afternoon he set off on a walk and never returned. No evidence has ever been found to suggest what could have happened to him. Theories abound of course. Was he eaten by a tiger? Did slip down into a ravine and drown? Was he kidnapped and died before a ransom could be demanded? Did he just want a new life? His military intelligence training would have served him well in a bid to simply disappear and re-locate. The mystery has never been solved and adds an extra air of intrigue to the Jim Thompson house.

These women welcomed us to the JIm Thompson house

These women welcomed us to the Jim Thompson house and happily posed while I took their photo

Today Thompson’s home has been turned into a museum by the Kingdom of Thailand. Lovely young women, wearing Thompson designed silk skirts and blouses and fluent in many languages, guide you through the carefully preserved series of houses. 

Thompson is something of a hero in Bangkok. He was instrumental in boosting the economy a half century ago by introducing Thai silk to the world. Despite of, or perhaps because of, his mysterious disappearance he continues to be a financial asset to Thailand as his art collection, lovely home and interesting life story draw people from around the world to Bangkok.

Other posts about Thailand…….

Monk Chat

A Giant Recycling Project


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Filed under Thailand, Travel

Extra Crispy

“Wow!”   “That’s extra crispy!”  I was giving a tour of the Olympus exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery yesterday to a group of 11 to 14 year olds. They were fantastic! They knew so much about ancient Greek mythology and they were so excited about seeing the exhibit.  One boy kept remarking that each new thing I showed them was ‘extra crispy’ so finally I asked him what that meant. He told me it means something is totally awesome and amazing. When I got home I looked it up and sure enough right there in the online urban dictionary it says…….


Something so good, so hot, so amazing, it can only be described in two words; extra crispy. 

So if you haven’t seen the Olympus exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery yet, come on down for an extra crispy experience. 

Other posts……

Sunday Afternoon at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

What Talent! Olympus Inspired Art

The Goddess of Running Shoes and Olympic Medals

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Filed under Art, Culture, Education, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery

My Nephew! My Hero!

“Did you bring your passport?” Dave asked me after we’d been driving for about 90 minutes. I couldn’t believe it! I had totally forgotten my passport! I’d never even thought of it once as I packed for our trip. We planned to spend a couple of days at Moose Lake with my brother Mark and his wife and then cross the border at South Junction to head to Bemidji, Minnesota where Dave would play in a ball tournament. I would need my passport. 

When we arrived at the cottage my sister-in-law Kathy mentioned their son Dylan was in Winnipeg registering for his university classes and planned to head out to the lake the following day.  I called him.  Could he pick up a set of spare house keys from my daughter-in-law and then go to our condo and get my passport to bring along with him the following day? 

dylan and me“Sure,” he said.  It was nearly midnight by the time he could arrange a rendezvous to pick up the keys but he headed right over to our place and found my passport. The next day he brought it out to the cottage with him and I was able to make the trip to Bemidji.  Thanks so much Dylan! You are my hero!

Other posts…..

I lost my passport

A new passport

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Filed under Family, Travel

I Slept with a Champion Last Night

dave-ball-team-bemidjiI slept with a champion last night. Dave and I were in Bemidji Minnesota for the weekend where he was playing in a baseball tournament. Although the road to victory wasn’t easy his Eastman team won the championship on Sunday in fine style. Dave made a great catch that had him jumping high in the air. He had some solid hits and managed to avoid irritating the leg wound he got on Saturday diving for a ball.
giroux-athleticsDave has been a champion baseball player many times before. In fact he is in the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame.  But he is a champion in lots of other ways in my books.   After the final game yesterday he drove all the way home from Bemidji so I could work on a writing project in the car that has a fast approaching due date. Then when we got home he made me his signature spicy Caesar cocktail and a homemade pizza for our supper.  Today he’s headed off to train for a new job as a Lexus driver to earn some extra cash for our travel adventures. 

champions-ball-tournamentI guess I sleep with a champion every night. 


Other posts about baseball in Bemidji…..

Baseball Singalong

Baseball in his 60th year

Davey at the Bat

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Filed under Family, Sports

Rumi Inspiration

mom holding newborn 1953We are born of love; Love is our mother.   Rumischool class 1974-75

Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.  Rum

one of mom and dad's flower bedsBeauty surrounds us, but sometimes we need to be in a garden to know it.

santaBe a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal.

mom and dad in the flower gardenThere are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth. ~Rumi

stephen juba park winnipeg winterAnd don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous. ~Rumi

marylou in laos…rush out in the rain to be soaked with the sky. ~Rumi

with students in cambodia in mayAll religions, all this singing, one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. The sun’s light looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall, and a lot different on this other one, but it’s still one light. ~Rumi

peralta hikeOnly from the heart can you touch the sky.- Rumi

Jalaluddin Rumi, often simply called Rumi, was born in 1207 and became a widely read Persian poet who had a great influence on Muslim writing and culture. His poetry continues to be read throughout the modern world, and he is one of the best selling poets in America.

Other posts….

On Friendship

Hiking Up to Weaver’s Needle

Hong Kong Inspiration


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Frances Perkins – A Fire Changed Her Life

Did you know Frances Perkins was the first woman cabinet minister in the United States? Here’s a story I wrote for the children’s curriculum I’m authoring for a religious publishing house. This one got cut from the manuscript by the editor so I thought I’d share it here. Recently I read the book The Museum of Extraordinary Things and was surprised to find the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire making a pivotal appearance in the story just as it did in Frances Perkins’ life.

A Fire Changed Her Life
It was March 25, 1911. Frances Perkins was a young girl having tea with her rich New York friends when she heard someone yell, “Fire!” Frances was curious. She went outside and ran after the fire engines to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

It was in flames. Frances watched in horror as workers jumped out of the high windows to try to escape. Their boss had locked the doors.

147 young people died in the fire. Seeing that happen changed Frances forever.
She committed the rest of her life to making sure working people were treated  fairly.

Frances Perkins stands behind President Roosevelt as he signs the social security act in 1935 a lasting legacy of Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins stands behind President Roosevelt as he signs the social security act in 1935 a lasting legacy of the work of Frances Perkins

In 1933 Frances became the first woman Cabinet Minister in American history. As Minister of Labor she made sure people who were hurt on the job and could no longer work still got money to live. She passed laws so children would go to school instead of working in factories. She made sure old people who had worked all their lives had enough money to survive and that employers paid fair wages to all their workers even if they were immigrants and women.Frances_Perkins_TIME_FC_1933Frances once said she wanted to spend her life working for God and for millions of forgotten people. That’s exactly what she did.

Other posts….

Getting Ready to Write

A Facebook Page for Huldah

Solomon’s Knots


Filed under History, People, Politics

Sunday Afternoon at the WAG

They love Lego!  I spent Sunday afternoon at the Winnipeg Art Gallery with a great group of children, their parents and even some grandparents all playing with visiting the Lego installations which are part of our current Olympus exhibit the kids  got right to work with the thousands of pieces of Lego we had spread out on tables. 


The goddess Demeter

The WAG’s skylight space was filled with little Lego artists creating original pieces of art.


Greek warrior

We had set up two tables covered with Lego but they filled up rapidly, so we added two more and then two more.  


An angry Zeus

For the most part it was awfully quiet as the kids worked with perseverance and unending creativity.  


A house in ancient Greece

By the time the afternoon was over the staircase enclosure in the skylight was rimmed with original work.  


A ship with a Greek sailor

It did take three of us nearly 45 minutes to clean up all the Lego but it was well worth the effort to see all those children absorbed in creating and designing and having fun. 

Other posts……

Athena and the Creation of the Spider

The Goddess of Running Shoes and the Olympics

Did the Ancient Greeks Wear Underwear?

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Filed under Art, Education, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery

Stories from the Fringe

dave at fringeWhat great stories!  My husband Dave is a Fringe Festival team leader this year and I just love the interesting stories he comes home with each night about the variety of co-workers and theatre patrons he interacts with during each shift. He could write a fascinating play about all the experiences he’s had.  One night for example a homeless person came by needing money for what he said was a life or death situation and Dave gave him ten dollars. A theatre patron watching the interaction reimbursed Dave. Dave has had to call the police, administer first aid and listen to lots of interesting life stories. However his long volunteering hours means we haven’t fringed as much as we usually do during Winnipeg’s Fringe Festival. 
We have seen a few plays however.

FOR  centered on a dining room table where two couples reveal more than the audience might have hoped they would about themselves during dinner. It reminded me a bit of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf. Nicely acted and entertaining although the subject matter is pretty heavy, it starred my boss Grant Burr, the editor of the The Carillon where I write a regular column.

Channeling Kevin Spacey is about a hapless young man whose life is pretty grim. He gets through the day mimicking actor Kevin Spacey in his various movies roles, till halfway through the play when  he decides to make a character change to Al Pacino. Good acting but if you aren’t familiar with Spacey and Pacino’s film roles you might be left a little bewildered.  

I loved Tara Travis in her last fringe play about Henry VIII’s wives but this year’s offering Searching for Dick: A Paranormal Comedy was too personal, too strange and didn’t showcase the actress’ talents enough for me, although the black light stuff she did was cool.  Tara baked brownies during the play for us to eat but I didn’t have any. Her venue wasn’t air-conditioned and I desperately needed some cool air by the end of the play and couldn’t wait in line for my treat. 

The Telephone was a light-hearted operatic treat.  I knew all the cast members through hometown connections.  I took my 86-year-old  Dad who wanted to have a fringe experience and he enjoyed it too. Although set in the 1950s the play’s lessons about the use of phones and their interruption in our personal lives was certainly current. The performers were all professional and talented. 

Other posts about plays…...

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Kim’s Convenience

Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter

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Filed under Theatre, Winnipeg

Selfie with Willie Nelson

I never take selfies but just couldn’t resist outside The Knucklehead a jazz club in Kansas City. Here I am with the great Willie Nelson. Even though I’m not a big country fan You Were Always on Mind and On the Road Again are two favorites.

Other posts……

Listening to Jazz in Kansas City

Musicians Encountered World Wide

String Em Up at the Handlebar

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Filed under Art, Music, People, Travel