August 31, 2016 · 6:57 am
Two articles in last Saturday’s Toronto Globe and Mail struck a chord with me.
The first was about a new ballet that premieres today at the Art Gallery of Ontario called The Dreamers Ever Leave You. The ballet choreographed by Robert Binet is inspired by the current Lawren Harris exhibit at the AGO called The Idea of North orginally curated by American actor and comedian Steve Martin. Binet’s dancers will move between three different stages at the AGO and the audience will also have a chance to see the Harris paintings that inspired the ballet.
We have quite a number of Lawren Harris paintings on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery right now in our Group of Seven exhibit. As I give kids tours of the gallery could I get them to come up with a dance to go along with one of our Harris paintings?
Another Saturday Globe and Mail article celebrated Sonja Bata who founded the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. She and her husband Thomas were responsible for the success of the Bata Shoe empire which once owned some 1700 stores world wide. Sonja just celebrated her 90th birthday and her museum marked its 20th anniversary last year. I was drawn to the article about Sonja and her museum because Dave and I once had the pleasure of visiting the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. It was so surprisingly interesting! We discovered that shoes can be works of art too.
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Two Very Different Members of the Group of Seven
A Good Understanding
August 30, 2016 · 8:01 am
Best Laid Plans was recommended by my brother-in-law Paul and what a great recommendation it was.
This is the perfect book to read if you are feeling disillusioned with the whole political process. We are introduced to colourful Angus McLintock. He enters a Canadian election as a reluctant candidate but manages to maintain his principles and moral fortitude despite all the wheeling and dealing and corruption that typically goes on in politics.
Author Terry Fallis is a former Liberal advisor and government communications consultant and his intimate insider knowledge of Ottawa and Parliament is clearly evident in Best Laid Plans. Best of all this book is funny! The characters are unique and interesting and there are plot twists you don’t expect. There’s even a little romance.
I’ve just discovered CBC has made a television series based on Best Laid Plans and you can watch the Season One episodes for free right here. I’ve already finished the first episode.
A Book I Celebrate
August 29, 2016 · 8:26 am
My maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt were married on New Years Day, 1917 in Drake, Saskatchewan. I have a picture of them standing on a railway car labeled The Los Angeles Special- Kansas Express. They are dressed fashionably. Grandma is wearing a pin-striped coat and a wide-brimmed hat. Grandpa has a soft fedora, leather gloves and a double-breasted jacket. They look dashing and adventuresome.
My grandmother kept a journal, a daily record of her first year of marriage, which included a four-month honeymoon trip. Traveling by train, steamship, car, horse and buggy or sleigh my grandparents went west to Vancouver and then south to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. They traveled on to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas and finally made their way home via Minneapolis.
My grandmother writes about the many relatives and friends they visited, the “grand ” scenery, the concerts and movies they attended, and the various sightseeing excursions they enjoyed. She describes the hotels they stayed in and the stores where she went shopping.
The trip with its myriad of experiences was taken almost a hundred years ago, yet reading the journal you almost imagine yourself there. I’ve sometimes wondered if might retrace my grandparents’ honeymoon trip. Could I go to the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and watch the seals on the cliffs the way my grandparents did? Could I find a 400 acre orange grove to visit and take a glass bottom boat trip to Catalina Island? I know Busch Gardens is still open. My grandparents toured it on the same day they stopped in at an ostrich farm and an alligator ranch. Could I go mountain climbing in California and take a harbor cruise in Los Angeles. My grandmother loved those experiences.
My grandparents also made sure their trip was a time of spiritual growth. They spent a week at Bethel College in Kansas taking a Bible course. They attended all kinds of churches on their travels, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Methodist and Catholic. At a time in history when many Mennonites were skeptical about denominations other than their own I’m impressed my grandparents thought there was something to be learned from visiting and worshipping with such a variety of congregations.
What strikes me about Grandma’s journal is that it makes little mention of the newsworthy events going on around her. World War I was raging and in just a few months conscription would be introduced in Canada. Although my grandparents were conscientious objectors because of their Mennonite faith I know from my mother that some of their relatives served in the military. Canada held an election in 1917 but Grandma doesn’t mention it. Women in Saskatchewan had just received the right to vote. Did Grandma take advantage of her opportunity to cast a ballot for the first time? Perhaps as a honeymooning bride Grandma was so wrapped up in her new marriage relationship that her experiences with Grandpa were more memorable than what was happening in the news.
I think about someday retracing my grandparents’ honeymoon journey. I’m glad Grandma kept a journal of her first year of married life. It offers a fleeting glimpse into my grandparents’ lives and gives me an appreciation for the optimism and sense of adventure they shared.
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August 28, 2016 · 7:28 am
John Hull a British religious educator says,
“Religion is a major source of conflict in our world. People won’t be at peace till religions are at peace. It must be part of every child’s education that they learn to respect other religions and understand them.”
A World of Faith by Peggy Fletcher Stack is one resource for inter-faith education I can recommend. The book explains in “kid-friendly” language the principles of twenty-eight different religious groups. It introduces children to the founders of each faith and tells them about the practices and rituals of that particular spiritual tradition.
Even more enlightening than its words are the illustrations by Kathleen Peterson. She has created a collage of colourful images that bring to life the important aspects of each faith group. All the pictures have interesting borders which detail symbols central to the religion described on the page.
This is an excellent book for parents to read with their children and use as a starting point for discussion about how other faiths are similar and different from their own. I have placed a copy in our church library.
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August 26, 2016 · 7:00 am
We saw The Last Waltz: A Musical Celebration of The Band Live at the West End Cultural Centre here in Winnipeg on Wednesday night. What a great show! My husband Dave who grew up in Ontario where The Band orginated is a huge fan. He brought along his Music From the Big Pink LP when we got married and moved into our first tiny apartment. I’ve been hearing the music of The Band played in our home and car for forty years and of course we’ve watched the The Last Waltz the movie made by director Martin Scorcese during the farewell concert of The Band during which many great musicians performed. At Wednesday’s concert the performers covering the musical numbers from The Last Waltz did a terrific job. In particular a young man named Matthew Weidinger from Kitchener, Ontario was outstanding. His cover of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released had the crowd on their feet and the people I attended with all agreed he’d done a better job than Dylan ever did of the song.
I know this clearly illustrates how old I am but during the CBC special broadcast of the Tragically Hip final concert I only recognized one song, while at the Last Waltz show I could sing along with most of them including The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up on Cripple Creek, Rag Mama Rag, Who Do You Love and Helpless. Fortunately I was in good company on Wednesday night. Most of the people in the crowd were my age and everyone was singing along! Good times!
Old and Young at the West End Cultural Centre
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August 25, 2016 · 6:10 am
Fingering beads, reading scripture, writing prayers, cleansing with water……. what is a helpful spiritual practice for you? Traveling through the Chinese province of Yunnan years ago we learned about unique ways to pray and connect with the divine. Religiously the people of Yunnan practice a mix of Taoism, Confucianism, and Tibetan Buddhism and they introduced us to some of their spiritual practices.
In the village of Baisha, Taoist Dr. Ho offered us some of his herbal tea. We were assured that slowly sipping it would cure us of any spiritual, emotional or physical ills we might have.
Hundreds of locks adorned the railings around a Buddhist temple beside Black Dragon Pond in Leijiang. Each had a person’s name, a date and a prayer engraved on it. For a small fee a priest would etch your name and prayer on a golden lock. You fastened your lock to the fence taking the key with you. Eventually your prayer would be answered.
A lake near Jade Dragon Snow Mountain was a lovely turquoise colour because of the various iron deposits it contained. “Wash your hands in it” our guide urged me, “and you will live happily for a long, long time.”
I had never seen a stupa until I visited the city of Zhongdiang. These are huge mounds of stones each with a Buddhist Scripture to read on one side and a personal prayer written on the other. We were offered stones to write prayers and we placed them on the stupa as well.
At a Tibetan Buddhist temple the monks gave us yak bead bracelets to finger as we prayed.
Like most people in the world, the citizens of China’s Yunnan province have a firm belief that a power greater than themselves can influence the direction of their lives. We were privileged to have a chance to learn about some of the ways they present their desires and concerns to the divine.
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August 24, 2016 · 7:59 am
I have a friend who is spending this week helping to move her mother into a nursing home. She understands it’s the best thing for her mother but she told me it makes her very sad because she knows it means her Mom is one step closer to the end of her life and she is one step closer to saying a final good-bye to her.
Last week I was visiting with another friend whose mother died several decades ago and she told me that even now never a day goes by that she doesn’t think about her Mom. The same thing would be true for me.
Sometimes I think of my Mom when I need someone with a listening ear or I need some affirmation. Mom was a great listener and encourager and unabashedly proud of her children and grandchildren. Sometimes I think of her when something exciting happens in our family I know she’d love to hear about. I have photos of her at different spots in my house and when I look at them, I think of her. Sometimes I think of Mom when a certain action of one of my siblings or my children or my grandchildren makes me say, “they must have inherited that from my Mom.”
I think of her sometimes too when I am deciding how to act or what to say in a certain situation and I reflect on what my Mom would have done and said under similar circumstances.
I don’t think I’ve really said a final good-bye to my mother because her positive influence and love in my life continues.
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Filed under Family
Tagged as family, mothers
August 23, 2016 · 5:56 am
We jumped right in. This sculpture was so endearing my friends and I couldn’t help ourselves from getting into the spirit of things with The Gossips by Rose Aimee Belanger at the Gallery in the Park in Altona.
The Gossips by Rose Aimee Belanger
Ken Loewen has some amazing pieces in the park.
Heavy Metal by Ken Loewen
Totems by Ken Loewen
This piece of Ken’s was just too inviting not to get involved in it.
Missing by Ken Loewen
What is this young man reading? Let’s peek into his book and find out.
Jack’s Story Time by Gregory Johnson
Besides offering an opportunity to get involved in a physical way many of the sculptures at the Altona Gallery in the Park left us bemused, thoughtful or appreciative of the artist’s amazing skill.
Points of View by Morley Myers
The Wishbone by John Aducci
Au But by Alfred Boucher
The Plunge by Deb Zeller
Brandi by Curt Brill
Bear Cubs by Leo Mol
Buck and Doe by Peter Sawatsky
If you’ve never been to the Gallery in the Park it is certainly worth the drive to Altona. Although photos weren’t allowed inside the gallery there were many great works of art to appreciate there too. And of course a trip to Altona The Sunflower Capital of Manitoba wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the giant reproduction of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
Leo Mol Sculpture Garden
Crossing Seal River
August 22, 2016 · 7:42 am
I bought these anchor earrings as a souvenir during our trip to Ukraine in 2011. I noticed many of the Mennonite tombstones in Ukraine had engravings of anchors. This is the tombstone of my great, great grandfather Daniel Peters which I found in the village of Nikolaipol in Ukraine. It was hard to read some of the lettering on the stone but the anchor symbol on the top was clearly visible. Every time I wear my anchor earrings I am reminded of my family connections to Ukraine and our memorable visit there.
An updated version of this post can be found here.
The Station of Tears
August 20, 2016 · 6:25 am
Her dress blowing in the wind, her one foot up ready to take the next step forward, her long hair draped across her chest- it is impossible not to be moved when you look at Benjamin Victor’s statue of a First Nations woman titled Our Heritage is Our Future. Victor created the image to represent the women of the First Nations People of the Great Basin area of the United States. This includes the Shoshone, Paiute and Ute nations.
I’ve made two visits to Altona’s Gallery in the Park recently with two different sets of friends and both times we’ve been drawn to this sculpture donated to the park’s permanent collection by Hilda and Elmer Hildebrand.
The woman is dressed in clothing and shoes she no doubt made herself. She is carrying water in her arms, carrying her child on her back and from the look on her face carrying other burdens as well. I think the statue is representative of women throughout history strong, nurturing, hard-working and often the ones who most keenly feel the weight of oppression and sorrow. It’s a depiction of a woman so beautiful her image touches you and stays with you long after you’ve left her.
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