Monthly Archives: August 2015

Sometimes You Just Need a Dose of Precious

“It was difficult to see the whole business of house cleaning as anything but a use of time that could be more profitably and enjoyably spent doing something more satisfying.”

“Progress in learning a job was made through encouragement not censure.”

1_no_1_ladies_detective_agency_450hI was a huge fan of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith when they debuted. I fell in love with their main character Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s first female detective. Precious solved her clients’ mysteries and problems with uncanny wisdom all the while offering sensible and often witty advice about life. 


I bought the first five books in the series as soon as they were published but by book six I lost interest since all the plots started to sound the same and the quirky things about the characters that were so interesting initially got a little tired. The two reflections at the beginning of this post are from the 15th book in the series. It is called The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe. 

I had been on a hiatus from Precious Ramotswe for at least five years so when I saw The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe at the library recently I thought I’d give the series another try. Although the writing wasn’t any less formulaic,  I was in the right mood for a dose of the positive and realistic view of the world Precious Ramotswe offers readers and enjoyed a quick read reconnecting with Precious who seems by now an old friend. 

Precious’ view of housework offered in the quote that opens this post is exactly mine. I also know from my work with student teachers that her ideas about how to get career neophytes to make progress is ‘spot on.’ And here are two more gems I jotted down while reading The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe .

“What she had written was undoubtedly true, but there were situations she felt when it was perhaps best not to tell the whole truth.”

“Women who suffer need to know that they have sisters. It is this that makes the difference between hope and despair. And no matter how difficult your situation there are always sisters- vast legions of them ready to help you.”  

Other posts…….

A Flood of Books

But He Wasn’t Unbroken

The Magic Geranium

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Filed under Books, Inspiration


I only entered the active world of tweeting recently. I’ve had a Twitter account for years, set up for me by a colleague during a tedious meeting reviewing  institutional policies. People were tweeting sardonic comments back and forth across the huge seminar room and the guy sharing my table quickly set up a twitter account for me on my lap top so I could get in on the action. 

A little over a year ago I began tweeting links to my blog posts. Then I realized I could link my tweets to the Twitter accounts of people or places mentioned in my blog posts, and that opened up a whole new world of connections. If someone liked what I’d tweeted they  ‘retweeted’ me. I find it fascinating to see who retweets me.

I connected ten of my photos to a quote by author Neil Gaiman in a post and Neil retweeted it on his Twitter account which has 2.3 million followers. 

I often connect posts about the Winnipeg Art Gallery to their Twitter account and they retweet me to their nearly 3,500 followers. 

Donna is a fellow blogger. She is retired, loves to travel, is a free-lance writer, and lives in Winnipeg. She’s  just like me.  Her blog reminds me of my own. She sometimes retweets my posts and that always leads me back to her blog to check out what she’s been seeing and doing. 

I’ve been retweeted by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Assiniboine Park, Folklorama, Rebelight Publishing, Mayor Brian Bowman, MLA Kevin Chief, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Fort Whyte, Tourism Saskatchewan and many other people and places. It’s fun to see who my ideas connect with. 

The social media site Twitter is only five years old.  Until recently I had no idea what a ‘retweet’ was. Now I am retweeted almost every day. Life is interesting!

Other posts…….

The Politics of Facebook

What Are People Saying?

Thanks for the Memories Aunt Olly



Filed under Media

Talk About Presentation

audrey and meMy friend Audrey is a fantastic cook.  She collects all kinds of interesting recipes to try.  Meals at her house are an adventure I always look forward to.   Audrey’s food not only tastes delicious!  It looks BEAUTIFUL!   I read on a food website that a plate of food is like a painting with the rim the frame.  If that’s the case Audrey creates masterpieces. flowery table settingOn our recent visit the table setting was a work of art in itself. appetizer boardOur first course offered a whole variety of taste delights artfully arranged on wooden boards. Notice all the different shades of green and at least a hint of red hidden in every component and the rounded shape of each item.skewers shrimp chicken

Our main course was barbequed meats on a bed of risotto, each arranged in a linear way on a long plate. great hostLook at my husband Dave licking his fingers enjoying every bite. Of course Audrey’s husband Terry plays a role in meal preparation too, manning the barbeque and choosing the wines. 

American chef Giada De Laurentiis says “we eat with our eyes first so the presentation has to be great.” When Audrey makes a meal your eyes are wide before you take the first bite.  

Other posts…….

Sweet and Spicy- The Hundred Foot Journey


Tacos- The Real Meal Deal

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In Chicken Soup Again

volunteering-chicken-soupA story of mine is in a new Chicken Soup for the Soul book about volunteering.  I wrote a memoir about the two years I volunteered at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Shortly after I submitted my piece I became an employee at the art gallery. Getting a job is only one of the many positive things that happened to me because of my volunteering in the gallery’s school programs division and in my latest “chicken-soupy” story I explore the ways my stint as an art gallery volunteer enriched my life. 

chicken-soup-bookEach Chicken Soup book contains one hundred and one stories chosen from thousands that are submitted. This is the third time I’ve had one of my stories selected. As in the past besides my writing cheque I’ve received 10 copies of the book. I never know what to do with all my copies( I think my kids are getting tired of seeing them in their Christmas stockings) so if you’d like one let me know and I’ll see that you get it. 

If you are interested in submitting a story for a future Chicken Soup book you can get all the information here. 

Other posts……..

Back in Chicken Soup

I’m in Chicken Soup

Writing for Chicken Soup


Filed under Books, Writing

Inspiration in Sioux Lookout- Ontario

married-couple-on-teeter-totterMarriage is like a teeter-totter. There is always someone to help bring you up when you are down. – Corey Allen

feather in the grass

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. – Emily Dickinson

log bell tower

Don’t bother to ring a bell for an ear that doesn’t listen.  -Michael Bassey Johnsonabadoned-plane-sioux-lookoutWe are a culture of abandonment with this strange sad way of leaving things behind. -Brian Anderson

cousinsNever underestimate the power of cousins. – Cafe Press


There’s a hole in the tree outside……calling, inviting…… I’ll….. nestle there, amid the wood scent, and dream and dream. –  Pilar Mongoliandaises-sioux-lookout

Daisies are like sunshine on the ground. -Drew Barrymoredave-crouchingBlessed are the flexible because they will never be bent out of shape.  – Michael McGriffy M.D.

treesTrees are poems the earth writes upon the sky. -Kahlil Gibran

Other posts………..

Behind Every Pair of Eyes

Dave Meets Rose

Dragonfly Inspiration

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Filed under Family, Inspiration

Looking at Stuff in A Different Way

display human rights museumOne of the exhibits at the Human Rights Museum here in Winnipeg I found interesting was an art piece featuring all kinds of stuff you would probably find around your house.  Interactive panels let you explore how owning and using these things might be good or bad when it comes to human rights.  cell phones and human rightsOne example is the cell phone.

cell phones help human rightsOne thing that’s great about cell phones is that they can help to get the message out quickly when human rights issues need public attention. 

taking another look at cell phonesOne thing that is disturbing about cell phones is that they contain coltan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo child labor is used to mine coltan. 

The exhibit has information on lots of everyday objects. But there are also some items in the sculpture they don’t provide information about because they want you to go home and find out more about how that item is made on your own. The exhibit is a good reminder that we need to be thoughtful about what kinds of things we purchase and how they are made. 

Other posts…..

Dipping My Toe Into the Human Rights Museum

Residential Schools the Hiroshima of the First Nations

Connections at the United Nations

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Filed under Education, Winnipeg

Bucket List for Marriage

We are invited to a wedding at the beginning of October and it took me a long time to send back the reply. That’s because the bride and groom have included a card on which they want us to write something we think should go on their bucket list for their life together and return it with our RSVP.  I didn’t know what to write because I had too many ideas!  We recently celebrated 42 years of marriage and I’ve learned lots, some of it the hard way, about what should go on a marriage bucket list. 

kiss on the great wallSee as much of the world as you can together. family

Have children if you can and you both think its a good idea. family pictureMaintain close connections with your families. You will need their support and help. 

small grp 07Have friends you share as a couple.T-4s

But also maintain friendships of your own. 

kayaking in laos tad se waterfallFind things you enjoy doing together. at the folk festivalLook at the big picture when your marriage is going through its inevitable challenges and frustrations and weigh your choices carefully. Remember you have to be happy yourself before you can be happy together. 

So which of these is most important?  I couldn’t decide so I wrote them all on the RSVP card. I’d sure be curious to know what the other wedding guests wrote. I hope we’ll find out at the wedding in October. I could still use some tips.  As I heard in a wedding sermon just yesterday, marriage always requires hard work. 

Other posts……..

Chinese Thoughts on Marriage

Marriage Statistics and Bible Verses

Marrying an Heiress- Gilded Prostitution

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Filed under Family, Reflections

They remembered the books

I got a message via Facebook recently from a young man I taught in grade five. He is now a college graduate. He wanted to know the name of a book I had read aloud to his class about a Chinese prince who goes in search of a legendary kingdom.  The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander had left a lasting impression and for some reason, my former student wanted to find the book again. 

Because I switched to teaching high school for the last six years of my career I often had students in my grade 10,11 and 12 English classes who had also been my students when I was an elementary school teacher. When they would talk to me about the things I had done with them in class in grade three or four or five one of the first things they would always mention were the books I had read aloud to them.  ” I remember The Shakespeare Stealer or Island of the Blue Dolphins or Shiloh or Charlotte’s Web or A Wrinkle in Time or Anne of Green Gables.”   What they remembered best were the books!

I talk to many people who never had a chapter book read aloud to them by their teacher during their school years and there are still many classrooms where it is not done. I think that’s sad! Reading a novel aloud to children every day from grades one to twelve should be mandatory as far as I’m concerned.

Reading a book aloud to some of my high school students in an airport lounge while we waited to board our plane for a school trip

And by the way, I read novels aloud to my high school students too. Reading a chapter of a book aloud to my students was always my favorite part of the day as a teacher and I’m realizing that it was often also the most memorable part of their school days for my students. 

Other posts …...

Reading Aloud to Teenagers

I Don’t Want a Tax Break

Visiting a Teacher in Borneo

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Education

Paint Nite

amanda-and-marylou-1I went to a bachelorette party for my niece last weekend. Her bridesmaids had invited a business called Paint Nite to provide a creative evening for all the guests.  We each made our very own painting. paint nite teacherWith directions from our Paint Nite specialist Manda every one of us produced a beautiful painting and each one was unique.  

easels set upWe started with a blank canvas. We had to put our hands on our canvas and solemnly promise not to make derogatory remarks about our artistic skills or our artistic creations. 

getting our masterpieces startedThe first step was painting our backgrounds and the light of the moon or sun. A specially chosen sound track was playing as we worked. 

adding trees to the canvasNext we added in our tree branches and some clouds. 

delicious paint nite foodThen it was time to break for food and wine while our backgrounds dried. 

adding blossoms to our treesAdding the leaves in different colors was so interesting. unique treesEach woman there made her own tree unique with the colors she chose. 

finished treesWe all went home with our own masterpiece at the end of the evening. 

fun paint nite

Other posts……

What A Difference

My Modeling Career

My Inner Artist

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Filed under Art, Family

I Love Art

child-at-wag-i-love-artIt was pouring rain when I had to leave for the art gallery to give a tour one day. I had a big writing project to finish at home and I really didn’t feel like walking in the rain to work.  I was pretty wet and wind blown by the time I arrived at the gallery but I mustered up a smile to meet my tour group of six to twelve-year olds from an inner city community club who were at the gallery thanks to the generosity of a donor who sponsors groups like theirs. None of the children had every been at the Winnipeg Art Gallery before. They were absolutely delightful.  They asked questions. They had good ideas.  They were enthusiastic about the activities.  After lunch we made clay pots together and then just before they left a little girl came up to give me a hug and slip the paper above into my hand. ” I didn’t think I would like art,” she confided, “but I LOVE it!”  

i love you I love my job! Even on rainy days. 

Other posts….

Extra Crispy

Sunday Afternoon at the WAG

What Talent! Olympus Inspired Art

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