Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Different View of the World

jackson beardyEverything is connected! During the treaty training session I attended at the Manitoba Museum last week, along with the rest of the education staff from the Winnipeg Art Gallery, we spent some time studying a painting by Jackson Beardy that offers a unique First Nations perspective on the interconnectedness of living things.

Version 3The bear represents the animal world.Version 4The flowers represent the plant world. Version 2The thunderbird symbolizes the rain, thunder and lightning. Version 5Here is Mother Earth’s heart beating. 
Version 6The grandmother and father moon represent birth, nourishment and protection.Version 8

The human being is the smallest element and is using the pipe to give thanks to all the other beings that give the human life.jackson beardy

In Beardy’s painting all the facets of the world are joined together -plants, animals, heavenly bodies, natural elements, the earth and human beings.  Beardy illustrates how we are all interdependent. 

Other posts……..

Parfleches For the Last Supper

A Bandolier Bag

Bear Witness

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Filed under Art, Canada

Back Porch News- Before the Age of Facebook

back porch news 1

Before there was Facebook my extended family kept in touch with Back Porch News.  It was a yearly newsmagazine begun by my cousin Connie and then edited by various family members for over a decade.  I haven’t kept all my issues, but the earliest one I have is from 1989 and the latest from 1999.  Every year most of my seventeen cousins, my father, and  each of his five sisters would write a letter detailing what had been going in their lives for the last 12 months. That usually amounted to around twenty letters. family-news-letterThis was before computers and e-mail so the letters were printed, hand written, or typed, and mailed to the editor for the year who then photocopied them, collated them all into booklets and mailed the finished newsmagazine out to all family members. familiy-newsletterSometimes the newsletters had themes. After my grandfather died we all included memories of him in our annual letters and we did the same thing after my cousin Connie died sharing our family memories of her. In one issue we all included lists of our favorite books. back-porch-news

In the issue shown here I found out that cousin Robert and his family had a new cocker spaniel named Sage. My brother Ken wrote about the six weeks he had spent in Peru working on an international development project. My cousin Fred was in Brussels doing editing work for a variety of non-profit organizations. My parents and my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Dave had just come back from a trip to Venezuela together. My cousin Bernie was teaching on a Hutterite colony. My sister Kaaren had been in San Fransisco presenting her ideas for nursing research at the National Cancer Institute. During the past year my cousin Charlotte had made trips to New York, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Miami and Philadelphia. My Aunt Helen reported that her wine making had gone well and there were plenty of bottles still in her basement if we wanted to try some.  I announced the news that our family was moving to Arizona for a year to teach on the Hopi Indian Reservation. 

back porch news 2Nowadays when I want to find out what my cousins are doing I just check their Facebook page.  But before there was Facebook I read Back Porch News. My copies of our family newsmagazine hold great memories and provide an interesting record of more than a decade of family life. 

Other posts…….

Drama at the Family Gathering

The Passing of Time

My Mother’s Button Box


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Rap, Re-Imagining Winnipeg and Designing Fishnets

I visited three classrooms last week as a mentor and supervisor for university student teachers.  I’ve only just begun several jam packed weeks of school visits and report writing but I’ve already had a great time.

rapper public domainIn a grade nine language arts class I listened to the music of Canadian rapper Shad for the first time.  I must admit rap isn’t necessarily my genre and I knew Shad only as the host of the CBC program Q.  But together with the students I considered the lyrics of his piece Remember to Remember and heard kids discussing among other things alcohol and drug use, life goals, if it is better to be rich or poor and whether we can rise above our past.  Later in the class the kids used Shad’s lyrics and a black out technique to create poems of their own. 

800px-Winnipeg's_City_Hall_buildingI also watched grade twos working on a list of things they’d like to do to improve their neighborhood. They are preparing to visit their councilor at City Hall in a couple weeks to present their ideas to him.  One idea they have is to create a butterfly garden on their school property to help save the monarchs, but they’ve got lots of other great ideas too. Those seven years olds made me take stock of what I’m doing to make my city a better place to live. There’s a new book just out called Re-Imagning Winnipeg.  It is written by adults who have a vision for our city.  I wonder what a similar book written by kids would look like?

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 4.23.25 PMI visited a group of grade ones who were designing fish nets.  My student teacher had a table full of supplies, pipe cleaners, plastic bags, straws, string, wool, popsicle sticks, tape ……  She talked about volume and porisity with the kids and showed them the little foam number fish swimming in a tub of water they would need to catch with their nets.  The little designers and engineers all went to their seats to draw plans for their nets and then they built them.  They were AMAZING!  Each one unique and all except one able to trap fish. 

My first week of classroom visits has me all excited about the visits that remain.  It’s going to be fun!

Other posts……

Learning Cool Things

Popping In and Out of Schools

Feeling Nostalgic

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Filed under Education, Winnipeg

They Inspire Me

gym-room-pixabay - public domainI exercise at a YMCA five or six times a week.  It’s a great place to work out.  People of all sizes and shapes and nationalities and ages use the facilities.  I particularly admire the many octogenarians who show up everyday from a nearby seniors residence.  There is one man, tall, black and wiry, who sings hymns softly as he moves from one weight machine to the next.  There is a tiny Asian lady who can’t speak English but gives me a warm smile and an enthusiastic wave every morning.  There is another white haired woman who comes onto the exercise floor with her walker.  It isn’t easy for her to maneuver onto the seat of the recumbent bike or the rower but she has a system figured out and she manages independently.  One day I was rowing beside another elderly woman with a considerable stoop in her back.  We started chatting and she said, “My children have given up on me and so has my doctor.  They think I should be in a wheelchair.  But they can think what they want.  I’m not giving up on myself.” There’s a man with a shock of white hair who reads the Toronto Globe and Mail as he bikes and another  woman in her eighties who swims, walks and bikes everyday. There’s a First Nations man with a white cane and a grey ponytail who told me he’s keeping fit because his girlfriend likes him that way. 

If I don’t feel like exercising, all I have to do is look at the people twenty or so years my senior at the gym who show up everyday so they can stay as fit and healthy as possible.  I admire them. They inspire me.  

Other posts…….

What Will You Be Building?

Being Mortal

Sitting is the New Smoking

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Filed under Health, Sports

Easter Retrospective

Easter 2008- on holiday in Bali, Indonesia

Easter 2008- on holiday in Bali, Indonesia

Easter 1961- Coloring Easter eggs with my siblings

Easter 1961- Coloring Easter eggs with my siblings

2009-Playing bridge in Koh Samui Thailand with our friends Rudy and Sue

Easter 2009-Playing bridge in Koh Samui Thailand with our friends Rudy and Sue

Easter 1956- My sister and I in our Easter bonnets

Easter 1956- My sister and I in our Easter bonnets

Easter 2010- With my two amazing brothers at an Easter family gathering

Easter 2010- With my two brothers at a family party in Winnipeg

Easter 1960- Ready for church with my brother and sister

Easter 1960- Ready for church with my brother and sister

Easter 2011- With my great niece at a family party in Leamington Ontario

Easter 2011- With my great niece at a family party in Leamington Ontario

Easter 1957 - With my sister in dresses sewn by our mother

Easter 1957 – With my sister in dresses sewn by our mother

Easter 2015- With my good friends in Assiniboine Park

Easter 2015- With my good friends in Assiniboine Park

Other posts……

The T-4s Welcome Spring

Easter Inspiration

Easter A Time of New Beginnings


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Filed under Holidays

Blood Upon the Rose

I See His Blood Upon the Rose
by Joseph Plunkett

winter in exchange district winnipegI see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

flowers-on-the-beachI see his face in every flower;                   
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

waves on rocks costa ricaAll pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea, 
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

The choir I’m part of this Good Friday morning is singing this poem in an arrangement by composer Hugh Robertson. It reminds me of St. Bonaventure who said that every piece of creation is another footprint, another fingerprint, another revelation of the mystery of the divine. The whole universe….. it’s all sacred.

Other posts……

Thinking About Mary on Good Friday

A Life That Adds Up to Something 


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Filed under Holidays, Poetry

I Sure Picked a Couple of Winners

I can’t believe it! There are only two books left in the Canada Reads contest and they are the two I chose for my first and second picks in previous blog posts. My favorite book was The Hero’s Walk and my second choice was The Illegal. One of them will win today.

a hero's walkI have to say that even though I liked The Hero’s Walk the best, Clara Hughes, the Olympic medalist who is championing The Illegal is my favorite panelist. She is so well prepared, has thoughtful opinions, and is gracious  about the other books. She looks for good in them all. I find her more articulate than Vinay Virmani who is advocating for The Hero’s Walk although they both are passionate about their books. 

the illegalIn past years I haven’t watched the Canada Reads debates as faithfully but because this year I’ve read all the books I can hardly wait to see it every day. One thing I’m really appreciating is the variety in the panelists. They are athletes and business people, entertainers and social advocates all excited about the value of reading fiction and the pleasure it affords. 

I truly believe reading fiction makes us better people, enriches our lives, and offers us an avenue for solace and salvation.   The fact that our country has a sort of annual national book club that sparks such interest and enthusiasm for books by Canadian authors reflects what a civilized, sane and progressive country Canada is. 

No matter which book wins today I think anyone who watches Canada Reads, or reads one of the books in contention is a winner! In the meantime till I get home from work around 3:30 and watch the show I’m keeping my fingers crossed for The Hero’s Walk. 

Other posts……

On Reading Lila

A Flood of Books

The Orenda

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Filed under Books, Canada