Monthly Archives: July 2016

Freedom’s Child

“I like me!

No doubt about it.

I like you.

Can’t live without out!

We are free!

Let’s shout about it!

Hooray for freedom’s child.”

i am freedom's childThat mantra is adapted from Freedom’s Child written by children’s  author Bill Martin in 1970.  I learned it at an educational conference I attended in 1979 at the University of North Dakota. We recited it every day. 

me and bill martin

Me and Bill Martin in 1979

For a week children’s author Bill Martin and his colleagues introduced us to poetry and music and wonderful books and great children’s authors. One of the things they talked to us about was how good literature could change children’s lives by making them more open minded and caring, giving them a window into a world where people liked themselves and accepted and liked others, even if they were very different than they were.

As I  follow the American election campaign I’ve considered sending some voters and politicians a copy of I Am Freedom’s Child. They need to take to heart its message that acceptance of all kinds of people and their differences is necessary to make freedom’s dream come true. 

Other posts………..

I’m So Tired of You America

A Bible on the Ballot Box

A Fire Changed Her Life


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Filed under Books, Childhood, Politics

What Are People Saying?

Marching in the Pride Parade in Steinbach. Photo credit- Grant Burr

Marching in the Pride Parade in Steinbach. Photo credit- Grant Burr

My most popular blog post in the last few months was definitely the one called Pride In Steinbach Isn’t Something New.  It set a record for views and was shared many times.  A reader who served with me on a curriculum development committee said it provided an important counter balance to much of the media coverage of the Pride Parade. 

bully pixabay imageA fellow Winnipeg church member commented on my blog post about bullies by saying,

“Then there are our politicians. Ever listen to Question Period? The blatant bullying in the House and in the Legislature is so lamentable. Certainly not good role model material.”

A former teaching colleague from Hong Kong read my post about deciding whether to unfriend people on Facebook I disagree with and said…”I’ve gone through much the same thought process, and came to the same conclusion – as a teacher, I can’t in good conscience encourage my students to respectfully consider diverse points of view while deleting everyone in my FB feed who I disagree with! That being said, I don’t have much patience with those who make personal attacks or express things in a disrespectful or hateful way.”

461px-President_Barack_Obama,_2012_portrait_cropWhen I blogged about President Obama’s speech to the Canadian Parliament a member of my writer’s group said she hoped Obama’s kind of sanity would prevail in our world.

gender neutral bathroomWhen I wrote about my first experience using gender neutral bathrooms a fellow member of the Manitoba Writer’s Guild commented that her partner reminded her that in the 1960s, when Judy LaMarsh became one of the first women to serve as a cabinet minister in the Canadian Parliament, she had to use the men’s washrooms because there were no women’s washrooms convenient to the House of Commons.

dave and marylou tractorWhen Maggie a member of our church in Hong Kong read my post Rural Roots she thanked me for giving her a glimpse into our family’s history.unmade bed pixabay image

When I posted about not making my bed a colleague from the Winnipeg Art Gallery teased me by calling me a godless hippie and a baseball team-mate of my husband’s said he had only made his bed once in forty-four years of marriage and hadn’t been struck by lightning yet. 

dadOne of my most viewed posts in the last couple months was the one I wrote about the death of Dave’s father.  We received messages of condolence from so many people and quite a number commented that this youthful photo of Dad reminded them of my husband or one of my sons. 

valdyWhen I posted about attending the Valdy concert at the West End Cultural Centre a highschool classmate responded he had often shared a morning coffee shop with Valdy when he lived on Salt Spring Island. 

morning index art gallery torontoI’ve had lots of interest and requests for more information about the bed and breakfast we stayed at in Toronto after posting about it.  Seems like lots of my readers are interested in staying there too. 

Guardian Angel- 1900 German postcard

A former teaching colleague from Steinbach shared three personal memories that my blog post Fourteen Angels elicited for her. 

aunt vi autograph bookThe blog post about my aunt’s autograph book prompted many comments from people who also had autograph books tucked away somewhere. 

Thanks everyone for reading my blog.  I so appreciate your interest and response.  Have a great long weekend!

Other posts that have been popular in the last months……..

Dorothy Garden

Steinbach Pride Parade- Homecoming Forgiveness and Hope


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Way to Go Sarah!

“Can I just say, to the Bernie or Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.” Those lines got comedian Sarah Silverman international attention on Monday night when she addressed the Democratic National Convention.

Photo of Sarah Silverman from Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Sarah Silverman from Wikimedia Commons

Sarah certainly left an impression during her time on the convention stage but I learned something about her this week from a colleague that impressed me more. Sarah has championed a campaign to make the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem a more welcoming place for women. When I was in Israel in 2010 I was truly upset that women had to wait in line so much longer than men to pray at the Wailing Wall because the female section of the wall was only a fraction of the size of the men’s section. I wrote about this inequality in my newspaper column and blogged about it.

Photo I took at the Wailing Wall that shows the much smaller and more crowded women's section on the right

Photo I took at the Wailing Wall that shows the much smaller and more crowded women’s section on the right

Apparently having less room to pray hasn’t been the only issue at the Wailing Wall for women. For several years Sarah and her sister Susan, who is a rabbi, headlined a movement called Women of the Wall that called for legal changes to allow women to wear prayer shawls at the historic wall and sing, pray and read Scripture out loud there just as men can. In 2013 Sarah’s sister and niece were arrested when they defied the law and donned prayer shawls at the wall. In December of 2014 Sarah and Susan lit a menorah on the women’s side of the wall even after the rabbi in charge of the wall had forbidden them to do so.

In the past women had to read and pray silently at the wall

In the past women could only read and pray silently at the wall

Sarah and the Women of the Wall’s protests worked! In January of this year the Israeli government announced that a mixed gender prayer area at the wall would be created and women would be allowed to pray, read Scripture, sing,wear prayer shawls and light menorahs at the wall.

Sarah Silverman was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the Democratic primaries but in an article in the New York Times she is quoted as saying…..”I will vote for Hillary with gusto, as I continue to be inspired and moved to action by the ideals set forth by Bernie.”

Hillary Clinton is lucky to have a fighter with a sense of humour like Sarah Silverman on her side. Sarah has a proven track record of fighting for important changes that give equal rights to women.

eldery man and woman at the wailing wall in jerusalem

In the past men and women had to go to separate places to pray at the Wailing Wall

I wasn’t sure I needed to visit Israel a second time but it might be worth it just to pray again at the Wailing Wall since it is now a place where men and women are regarded as equals as they always have been in the eyes of God. Thanks Sarah!

Other posts……..

Inequality at the Wailing Wall

An Inclusive Canadian Anthem

I Never Got Used to the Guns

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Filed under israel, Politics

Happy to Pay Taxes For This

On Monday Dave and I went on a twenty kilometre  bike ride.  On our journey we drove through Kildonan Park. It was a hot day and the pool in the park was crowded with kids.  I stopped to take a photo because it made me happy to see all those kids outside being active and having fun together.  I was glad my tax dollars were paying for that opportunity.  

kildonan park poolAs I give tours to kids at the art gallery this summer I have come to realize just how many great programs are in place to help families get their children involved in worthwhile healthy activities during the months they aren’t in school.  Many tour groups come to the gallery from schools, community clubs and government sponsored programs across the city that offer fun and educational activities in summer to kids for free or at a very nominal fee.  I am glad my tax dollars are paying for this too.

If we want a healthy society we need to have  future generations of citizens who are happy, active, curious, educated and hopeful. I am glad my tax dollars are helping to subsidize programs and places that try to encourage those things in kids all year long. 

Other posts…….

I’m Glad My Taxes Are Paying For This

I Don’t Want a Tax Break


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Filed under Childhood, Education

Aunt Vi’s Autograph Book

“When you’re in the kitchen frying meat, remember me and my big feet.”

My aunt's autograph book

My aunt’s autograph book

Last month  I was helping my ninety-three year old Aunt Viola sort through some of her keepsakes. We came upon an autograph book she received as a gift in 1934. It was filled with messages from her school classmates.

aunt vi autograph book Before the advent of school yearbooks, autograph books served as a way to remember the young people with whom you had attended classes. And it certainly had served that purpose for my aunt.  first page of autograph bookI went through the book with her and she remembered almost every  person, telling me what they had done after graduation, whom they had married, where they had lived, what careers they had pursued and what kind of families they had.  forget me notShe recalled tidbits of information as well about their academic abilities or schoolyard behaviour from more than seventy-five years ago. 

teachersAunt Vi had also included a list of all her teachers from grade one through to grade twelve.

 Some of the messages in her autograph book were very funny, like the one that opens this blog post……..

funny autograph

Or this one………when you are old autograph

Others offered words of wisdom or adviceadvice autograph

Some of the poems in the autograph book didn’t apply to my aunt at all, like this one, since my aunt never married. wedding cake autographOthers did apply to with purposeAunt Vi has lived her life with purpose.  She had a long career as an elementary school teacher.  She has traveled the world.  She has served as a volunteer in her church and community in a myriad of roles. She has maintained close ties with her family and has boxes full of guest books that record messages from the literally thousands of guests she has entertained in her home. 

Aunt Vi with two of her schoolmates

Aunt Vi with two of her schoolmates

I so enjoyed looking through Vi’s autograph book. There were messages from her classmates written in German, others contained lines of poetry, some conveyed  spiritual truths and each reminded my aunt of someone who had played an important role in her school life. Here’s a couple of my favorite autographs. wood chip
parlor lamp
There was one autograph that made me cry. It was the one my mother had penned in her big sister’s autograph book in 1938 when she was thirteen years old. Mom writes about always remembering her sister. Sadly my Aunt Vi is now the only one in her family left to remember. My mother and Aunt Vi’s other two siblings have all passed away. mom's autograph


Other posts……

Autographs from a Conscientious Objector

Aunt Vi

Visiting Aunt Vi

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Filed under Family, History

Cool Cross

big red sandbags forks“What in the world is that?” I said to my friend Wendy as we walked off the Esplanade Riel on the Provencher Bridge. A sign nearby told us we were looking at an art piece called Big Red. It is a part of the Cool Gardens series of artworks found around the city. This one was made by a Saskatchewan design collaborative and artist Mark Bauche. 

big redThe cool cross is placed near the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and creates an X to mark a spot where people can come together. First Nations People came together for centuries where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet to trade and socialize with each other.

cool garden sculptureBecause the X is made of red sandbags it is also a reminder of how people have come together frequently in the past to make sandbag barricades during the flooding of Manitoba’s rivers.  A cool cross indeed. 

Other posts…….

What is Cool? 

Looking Cool the Inuit Way

Cool Stuff Outside the Art Gallery

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Filed under Art

A Religious Opinion

Although regularly asked to do so, God does not take sides in politics. –George J. Mitchell

Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump- Photos by Gage Skidmore from Wikipedia Commons

Photos by Gage Skidmore from Wikipedia Commons

I used to display different quotes for my high school English students at the beginning of each class and ask them to write quick responses. Here are some quotes about religion that tended to evoke strong opinions. 

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” “No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.” “Then why,” asked the Inuit earnestly, “did you tell me?”

~Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Artwork on the wall of a tavern in Quebec City

Artwork on the wall of a tavern in Quebec City

Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.Benjamin Franklin

Lighthouse carved from a tree damaged in a tornado in Seacliff Park Leamington Ontario

Lighthouse carved from a tree damaged in a tornado in Leamington Ontario

All religions must be tolerated… for… everyone must get to heaven in their own way. ~Frederick the Great

Holocaust Memorial on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature

Holocaust Memorial on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature

In the matter of religion, people eagerly fasten their eyes on the difference between their own creed and yours; whilst the charm of the study is in finding the agreements and identities in all the religions of humanity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tao Fong Shan our church in Hong Kong

Tao Fong Shan our church in Hong Kong

To befriend the one who regards themselves as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.

Mohandas K. Ghandi

Statue of Gandhi at The Forks in Winnipeg

Statue of Gandhi at The Forks in Winnipeg

We are punished by our sins, not for them. ~Elbert Hubbard

Faces of child victims at the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev Ukraine

Faces of child victims at the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev Ukraine

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it. ~G.K. Chesterton

Logo for the Daily Bonnet a website that pokes fun at all things Mennonite

Logo for the Daily Bonnet a website that pokes fun at Mennonites

Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Statue of Jesus Weeping at St. Joseph's Church across the street from the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial

And Jesus Wept statue across the street from the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial

Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.  ~Author Unknown

Stained glass window in a cathedral in Santa Cruz Costa Rica

Stained glass window in a cathedral in Santa Cruz Costa Rica

Other posts………

What Did Jesus Look Like? 

Getting to Know Oviloo

Do Buildings Have Souls? 

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Filed under Inspiration, Religion

Fourteen Angels and the Dallas Shootings

“When at night I go to sleep, fourteen angels watch do keep.”  In the play Eleanor’s Story which I saw at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the main character sings a German prayer from the musical Hansel and Gretel to bring her comfort while Berlin is being bombed.    Hansel and Gretel sing it together to give them comfort when they are lost in the woods. I often sang duets in church with a friend when I was a teen and one of the pieces we  performed together was When at Night . The words go…………

When at night I go to sleep

Fourteen angels watch do keep

Two my head are guarding

Two my feet are guiding

Two are on my right hand

Two are on my left hand

Two who warmly cover

Two who o’er me hover

Two to whom ’tis given

To guide my steps to heaven

Guardian Angel- 1900 German postcard

Guardian Angel- 1900 German postcard

Hearing those lyrics again in Eleanor’s Story reminded me of something I read in the media after the Dallas attack on police officers. 

Shetamia Taylor, a woman caught in the cross fire of the shootings with her son said,

“I was running ….. and I felt the bullet in the back of my leg. My son came to grab me but I grabbed him and lay on top of him. A policeman asked if anybody was hit and I said yes, but not loudly because I didn’t want my son to hear. The officer got on top of me and covered me and my son. Another cop was at my feet and another stood by us and they protected us.”

Like the angels in the song who are at Hansel and Gretel’s feet, and cover them, and hover over them to provide safety and comfort, those Dallas police officers acted as guardian angels for Shetamia and her son. 

Other posts…..

Walking on Angels

A Broken Star

I Never Got Used To the Guns

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Filed under Music, Politics, Religion

Are Men and Women’s Friendships Different?

“I don’t like to get involved in my friends’ personal lives,” a man once told me. Is that typical? And is it different from something a woman would say?  Are men and women’s friendships different? 

golf buddies on the roof topNovelist Anne Tyler writes in one of her books that men typically talk about gas mileage, the score of the football game, real estate prices, the temperature, the stock market, the age of vehicles and their cost, their golf handicap, business overhead and the salary of sports stars.

friendsA study of French women and their topics of conversation with female friends found women tended to talk primarily about their children and partners, problems and successes at work and in their families, event planning, their homes, and things to do with their physical appearance.

I read the book Friendship Processes while preparing for a talk at a women’s retreat. Winnipeg author Beverly Fehr offers insights into the differences between men and women’s friendships. She says ‘talk’ is the substance of women’s friendships, but men prefer to engage in activities with one another.

dave-and-the-two-jeffs-baseball-hkWomen look for a confidante in a friend, men seek an adventures partner. Fehr quotes research studies that found the most likely conversation topics for women are feelings and relationships, while the top three topics for men are sports, work and vehicles.

audrey and meJeffrey Zaslow in an article in the Wall Street Journal claims researchers have found women’s friendships are more often face to face–they talk, cry together, share secrets. Men’s friendships are side by side–they play golf and go to football games. Zaslow cautions however that we should not think men’s friendships are in any way inferior to women’s. Men may not be as emotionally expressive in their friendships or share as much personal information but this does not mean they don’t gain great support from their friendships.

peralta-hikeI read a study by a University of Michigan professor who says over the last century  women and men’s friendships and their topics of conversation have become more alike. I agree. I notice many women now include physical activity in their relationships and………….

men talkingmore men are introducing a personal element into their conversations.

Perhaps men and women are learning from each other.

Other posts…..

My Mom’s Friends

Better With Friends

On Friendship

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Filed under People, Reflections

Another Fringe Trio

I’ve seen another three plays at the Fringe all of them excellent! One made me cry. One made me laugh and one left me puzzled. 

Ingrid Garner has adapted an autobiography written by her grandmother, an American teenager trapped in Berlin during World War II.  It is a powerful and emotional story staged with appropriate slides in the background, complimentary sound effects and an emotional performance by Ingrid.  Just a warning. Ingrid speaks very quickly so you have to be focused and attentive to catch everything, but the story is riveting enough to make that pretty easy. I attended with a friend whose aunt survived the horrors of  war-torn Berlin during her teenage years and my friend found the play very poignant.  I can whole heartedly recommend it.promise and promiscuity Penny Ashton is very funny and very talented as she plays a whole host of characters in her unique Jane Austen story Promise and Promiscuity.  It contains many lines from Jane’s well- known works.

Penny Ashton is a funny woman

Penny Ashton is a funny woman

Penny sings original songs and she called up a man from the audience to dance in a lovely humorous scene.  I am a Jane Austen fan. I have read most of her books, some more than once, and have watched movie versions of many of her stories. But I think you would enjoy this play even if you don’t know anything about Jane Austen. 

Penny greets her fans after the show

Penny greets her fans after the show

old timesThe actors in renowned playwright  Harold Pinter’s Old Times  are superb!!  The three are all consummate professionals and deliver a script that will leave you engaged but puzzled.  What was REALLY going on?  I did a little research when I got home but to my surprise there is no definitive answer even from literary critics and reviewers who all have their own idea about what exactly is  transpiring in this play. Go and see it for yourself and let me know what you think. 

Other posts……

Fringing Times Three

Jane Austen Overload

The Real Richard III

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Filed under Theatre, Winnipeg