Monthly Archives: December 2017

It’s Beginning To Feel Like Christmas

There have been signs this week that Christmas is on the way. t-4s xmas partyI had a Christmas party with my friends the T-4s on Saturday.  christmas dessert egg nog tartWe had delightful egg nog cheesecakes at Oakridge Nursery in Steinbach and opened our gifts to each other. Some Christmas cards have started arriving at our house.  I went to a Christmas craft sale at my friend Audrey’s house and bought this beautiful birch log decoration she made. I am wrapping the Christmas books I will take to my grandsons in Saskatoon this weekend.  I always give them a new Christmas book during the first week of advent.  I’m including some Christmas socks for each of them. My son already sent me a photo of my grandsons in their new Christmas pyjamas in front of their advent calendar. A beautiful Christmas wreath arrived courtesy of a friend who was selling them as a fundraiser for a worthwhile charity.  My husband Dave is practicing the guitar chords for the carols he will play at his men’s choir Christmas concert on December 15th.  Invitations to Christmas parties are flying into my inbox.

There are still a few weeks to go till the official holiday arrives but it’s beginning to feel like Christmas. 

Other posts……….

A Forty Five Year Old Necklace and Scarf


Christmas Poker


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A Very Personal Story

Isn’t she incredibly lovely?  This is my favorite image in the Pitaloosie Saila exhibit currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  The self-portrait shows the artist as a young woman.  Although in reality her face is not tattooed, in this image she has portrayed herself with tattoos in the South Baffin Island style.  Pitaloosie remembers her aunts having tattoos like this.  Pitaloosie has put her portrait on a ulu, a traditional Inuit woman’s knife.  Pitaloosie has a personal collection of ulus of many different kinds. Pitaloosie Saila is 75 years old and has been drawing and making prints since the 1960s.  The exhibit currently at the Winnipeg Art Gallery provides a wonderful retrospective of her work over the years.  What I like so much is that it gives us a glimpse into Pitaloosie’s personal life. 

She has made a lithograph of her grandmother dancing a reel on one of the whaling ships that came into port in Cape Dorset.
In this lithograph we see four generations of Pitaloosie’s family.  On the far right is her great-grandmother chewing a seal skin to soften it.  In the middle is Pitaloosie’s grandmother with a more modern hairstyle and clothing.  On the far left is Pitaloosie’s mother.  She died when Pitaloosie was only two years old so the artist never really got to know her mother but she has dressed her in an even more modern way than the other two women. Could that be little Pitaloosie in the amauti in her mother’s parka? 

Pitaloosie Saila answers questions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on October 28

Pitaloosie was in Winnipeg for the opening of her exhibit and she told us stories about the various pieces on display. 

In this stonecut Pitaloosie is playing with her wooden dolls.  They were made for her by her father and uncles. The dolls had heads and bodies and legs but no arms. Pitaloosie cherished her dolls and she made clothes for them which helped her to learn sewing skills. 

Pitaloosie and Aqsatunnguaq 

There is a sad story behind this gorgeous watercolor of Pitaloosie and her sister. As a child Pitaloosie was sent south to hospitals for seven years because of a back injury and complications from tuberculosis.  While she was gone her dear sister Aqsatunnguaq died.  Pitaloosie didn’t find out till she returned home to Cape Dorset. 

Arctic Madonna by Pitaloosie Saila

Pitaloosie said her artwork is a way to leave parts of her heritage to her children and grandchildren.  Her artwork also provides a beautiful glimpse into her personal life for the many people who love and admire her work. 

Other posts……..

The Globalization of Art From Japan to Cape Dorset

Inuit Fashion Show

Inuit Games

Another Shameful Chapter in Canada’s History


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Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery

Cambodia Revisited

first they killed my fatherI just watched the movie First They Killed My Father directed by Angelina Jolie.  Based on the first person account of a young girl who survived the brutal years of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia it is a moving and almost unbelievable story of survival. Shot entirely in Cambodia and in the Khmer language with English subtitles it features all Cambodian actors.  Sareum Srey Moch the little girl who plays the main character had no acting experience before shooting the film but she does an amazing job of bringing her character to life. 

mom and dad cambodian refugees

My parents attend a wedding for a member of their Cambodian family.

I knew nothing about Cambodia till 1985 when my parents sponsored a family from Cambodia to come to Canada.  I happened to be at home on maternity leave that fall awaiting the birth of my younger son so on weekdays I went to the home of the new arrivals to give them English lessons. My parents’ connection and involvement with the family continued and my eighty-nine year old father is still included in their family celebrations.  

It was that connection with a Cambodian family that prompted me to buy the book First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung when it first came out in 2000.   It was while reading this autobiography of a young girl who had survived the Khmer Rouge regime that I really began to understand what had happened in Cambodia and to have a much greater appreciation for what the family my parents had sponsored had experienced. 

Taking a guided tour of a landmines museum in Cambodia in 2004

When we moved to Asia in 2003 traveling to Cambodia was a high priority on my list of destinations.  In 2004 I made my first trip there and learned first hand how the carpet bombing of Cambodia by the United States led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime and how the devastating policies of that regime resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population. 

Photo I took at the Killing Fields in Cambodia

In 2011 I returned to Cambodia this time with a group of high school students. On my first trip I had only been to Siem Riep but now I visited Phnom Phen as well and together with my students learned so much more about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime, the culpability of the United States in what transpired there and the lasting danger of the landmines that are an ongoing legacy of the war years in Cambodia.

I learned so much from this elementary school principal in Cambodia when I worked at her school

I also spent time with my students working in a local school in Cambodia and as I learned more about the lives of the teaching staff and students I realized how the legacies of the war and Khmer Rouge regime continue to impact people in Cambodia today.  

Watching First They Killed My Father brought back many memories of Cambodia for me.  But most of all it reminded me yet again of the futility of war, the never-ending legacy of war and the way war always has its most devastating effects on children.

First They Killed My Father is available on Netflix. 

Other posts about Cambodia…………

Visiting a Land Mines Museum

Visiting Another Land Mines Museum


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Filed under cambodia, Movies

Did You Enjoy the Game?

With my sister at the Jets game

I went to a Winnipeg Jets game on Friday courtesy of my generous brother-in-law and sister.  My brother-in-law who thought a professional sporting event might not be my first choice of entertainment asked me after the game whether I had enjoyed it.  “Of course I did,” I replied. 

I may not notice the same things others do at a Winnipeg Jets game but I’m still engaged and fascinated with the experience.

I loved, loved, loved watching that huge screen over the ice that shows the camera panning to different people in the crowd. I love the moment when they finally realize everyone in the arena can see them.  At the game, I attended I saw a mother and father with tiny black-haired twins waving and smiling. The little girls’ ears were covered with huge headphones to muffle out the roar of the arena crowd. Of course, I saw Winnipeg’s iconic Dancing Gabe having a great time.  He wasn’t the only spectator that broke into a unique victory dance when they realized they were on the big screen. I loved the little boy whose eyes grew huge as the moose mascot approached him and the two guys both dressed as Elvis look-alikes who tried to act so cool when the camera focused on them.

I loved hearing the talented Stacey Natrass’ voice soar during the two national anthems. She does such a professional job. I also liked listening for the different kinds of music they played during different situations in the game and wondered how the organist decided when he was going to chime in with his own contributions to the sound track.

I loved watching the players fly across the ice, guessing who they were going to pass to, keeping track of the goalies’ little rituals and watching how the different teams celebrated when they scored a goal.

I loved visiting with my sister, catching up on family news and grandchildren’s latest exploits.

I loved watching the people around me and how they interacted with each other during the game, parents and children, people and their partners, grandparents and grandchildren, groups of female friends, groups of male friends and folks I guessed must be work colleagues. 

I loved reading the story printed in the Jets program about Nikolaj Ehlers a young player from Denmark.  It was very inspirational the way the modest young man paid tribute to his mother and father and his sister and brother, giving his family credit for much of his success as a hockey player.  He is most appreciative of their support and openly acknowledges he wouldn’t be where he is without them.  It was also refreshing to read about how seriously Nikolaj takes his responsibility as a role model for young hockey players, especially those in his home country of Denmark. 

Did I enjoy attending a Winnipeg Jets game?  I loved it! 

By the way, the Jets beat Las Vegas 7-4. 

Other posts……..

My First and Last Jets Game of the Season

White Noise

Rubbing Mr. Eaton’s Foot


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Filed under Sports, Winnipeg

Why Do We Still Like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?

We saw the sumptuous production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre this week.  As I left the theatre I thought about why people are still so attracted to Dickens’ story in 2017.

One reason may be because it gives us hope the world can change.  Just as the rich man Scrooge in the Dickens play becomes more empathetic we like to think the current wealthy and elite one percent of the population can become less selfish and become more empathetic and generous.  This goes against the body of research that shows wealth reduces compassion.  But in a time when the disparity between the haves and have-nots of this world is widening and when our American neighbours are legislating a tax bill to make the rich even richer, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol gives us hope people can change and realize they might actually feel better and happier if they share their wealth and use it to improve the lives of others. 

In A Christmas Carol a very wealthy man learns that all of his wealth can’t make him happy.  It is relationships that provide well-being.  Scrooge is positively giddy with happiness when he starts reaching out to others. In a time when research shows that loneliness is reaching epidemic proportions in our society A Christmas Carol reminds us we need to build relationships with others, care for others and help others if we want to have happier lives. 

A Christmas Carol may have been written nearly 175 years ago but  it speaks to concerns that are still very relevant in 2017. 

Other posts………

Getting Out of Our Holy Huddles

Make New Friends But Keep the Old

Stealing the Play’s A Thing

The Costumes Were Worth the Price of Admission


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Filed under Books, Theatre

The 4 Ms

Dave and I had supper at an Academy Road restaurant last week.  Adjacent to us a young family was having a meal.  Throughout the supper the parents were talking with one another but the two children were on their i-pads the whole time.   They put down their devices only to take bites of their food.  That’s a phenomena I also observe often with children who are traveling on the bus with their parents.  Both parent and child have their eyes fixated on their phones and don’t interact at all.  

canadian pediatric society screen timeThe Canadian Paediatric Society has published sensible guidelines for the use of electronic devices for kids with warnings to minimize, mitigate, be mindful and model  behavior when it comes to screen time.  Sometimes I feel like printing  copies and handing them out in restaurants, on buses and in other public places. 

Other posts…………

Technology and Family Time at a Resort

Technology Transforms Travel

What’s the Best Way to Raise Children? 


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Filed under Childhood, Media

Cooking For Picasso

cooking for picassoI just finished reading Cooking for Picasso by Camilee Aubray.   I wouldn’t give it a thumbs up.  Yes the descriptions of food and food preparation are tantalizing and seductive. And it is intriguing to read about the beautiful young French woman Odine who in 1936 could have been the subject of one of Picasso’s famous artworks Woman With A Watch. 

woman with a watch picasso 1936

Woman with a Watch by Picasso 1936

But my loathing for the way Picasso treated the women in his life wasn’t mitigated at all as Celine the modern- day narrator of Cooking for Picasso tells us how she discovers her grandmother Odine not only cooked for Picasso but also had an affair with him.  Celine finds out Picasso is her grandfather.  Although that means she inherits one of his paintings and a great deal of money, it also means she inherits the knowledge that she is the descendant of a man who considered himself ‘a beast’ in his relationships with women, a man who said he liked his women to be “submissive and shorter than he was.” 

still life by picasso page84

Still Life with a Pitcher by Picasso another Picasso painting featured in Cooking For Picasso

As I read the book I thought about how maybe even a year ago I would have liked it  more.  But last summer as I did research for the tours I gave of the Picasso exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery I learned  just how misogynistic Picasso was and what toxic relationships he had with women. That changed my view of his art completely. 

I also read Cooking for Picasso just when the news was filled with stories about famous men being taken to task for inappropriate sexual behavior.  Picasso would never have survived such scrutiny. 

So while Cooking for Picasso is about two things I love- food and art it is not a book I would recommend. 

Other posts……….

Picasso -Not Really A Family Man

Picasso’s Grandmother is Canadian

A Slightly Tipsy Bullfighter


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Filed under Art, Books, Food