Monthly Archives: May 2018

Contrasts

Aging

I like the freedom of it, constructing my days as I like, an extra cup of coffee in the morning, maybe a massage in the afternoon, an extra glass of wine in the evening

Exploring the wide world, the delight of a grandchild’s love, stretching my comfort zone, reading books in stacks, time to create and think and write and volunteer

No longer at an employer’s beck and call, I can defy convention, have opinions of my own, spend time with those I like, do things my way 

More cavalier about my appearance, less attached to “stuff”, open to new adventures, long walks

The twinge in my knees, knowing my mother only as a memory, a friend’s cancer diagnosis

Lost keys, a missed appointment, the forgotten name of a former student

Repeating stories, mourning lost ideals, confusing screens bombarding me with Twitter and Facebook and What’s Ap and Instagram

Like the screen on the heart monitor erratic and then slowing to a flatline. 

When I taught high school English I used the poem about smoking below to introduce my students to the art of contrast poetry. Then they had to write their own contrast poems.  This last week the Glaser poem inspired me to write the contrast poem about aging that opens this post.  

Smoking                        by Elton Glaser

I like the cool and heft of it, dull metal on the palm,

And the click, the hiss, the spark fuming into flame,

Boldface of fire, the rage and sway of it, raw blue at the base

And a slope of gold, a touch to the packed tobacco, the tip

Turned red as a warning light, blown brighter by the breath,

The pull and the pump of it, and the paper’s white

Smoothed now to ash as the smoke draws back, drawn down

To the black crust of lungs, tar and poisons in the pink,

And the blood sorting it out, veins tight and the heart slow,

The push and wheeze of it, a sweep of plumes in the air

Like a rack of horses dragging a hearse through Old,

London, at the end of December, in the dark and fog.

Other posts……….

A Fine Balance

Forgetfulness

Growing Old is Not for Cowards

 

 

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Filed under Poetry, Retirement

A Serendipitous Coincidence

manitoba history journalI have a book review in the latest edition of The Manitoba Historical Society Journal and the magazine couldn’t have come out at a more serendipitous time. no man's land

The book I was asked to review was No Man’s Land- The Life and Art of Mary Riter Hamilton, by Kathryn A. Young and Sarah McKinnon.  Mary Riter Hamilton a Canadian artist working in the first half of the 1900s led a fascinating life and was instrumental in helping to establish an art gallery in Winnipeg in 1912. 

easter morning by mary riter hamilton

Easter Morning-La Petite Penitente by Mary Riter Hamilton- c. 1900

The serendipitous thing is that an artwork by Mary Riter Hamilton, painted when she was studying in Europe at the turn of the century, is part of a new show that just opened at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Defying Convention. That means I will have the perfect opportunity to share everything I learned about Mary’s interesting life story while writing my book review, with the people I take on tours at the gallery. 

What a wonderful coincidence!

Other posts……….

Talk About Defying Convention

Women Painting Men

A Serendipitous Sail

 

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Filed under Art, History, manitoba, winnipeg art gallery

Are You A Book Hoarder or a Book Minimalist?

On Sunday I was busy in the library at my church doing my annual weeding of the shelves. A man came in and watched me.  I told him what I was doing. “I never give away books,” he said.  “What if I want to read them again?”

bethel library“I only discard books from the library if they haven’t been read in five years,” I said.  I could tell he was nervous just watching me.  “Are you sure you should be getting rid of that one?” he asked over and over as I selected different books to discard. Then he strode over to some shelves in the Mennonite History section of the library and selected several volumes. “Surely you’ll keep these?”  he said. I was glad when he finally exited the library.  I could tell he was a book hoarder. 

church libraryI have a friend who gives me lots of new books to put in our church library.  She loves to read but as soon as she finishes a book she gives it away to someone else who might enjoy and appreciate it.  She is happy to part with her books realizing that she probably won’t read most of them ever again and besides she doesn’t have room in her house for them all.   She is a book minimalist. 

I admit I used to be a book hoarder and had an entire room in my house lined with shelves from floor to ceiling filled with books.  Numerous geographical moves and house moves in the last decade have forced me to become a book minimalist.  And I have to say I have rarely, if ever, regretted  giving a book away. 

Are you a book hoarder or a book minimalist?  

Other posts………

Winnipeg’s Millenium Library

She Persisted

Book Lady

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Looking For Love

Robert Indiana died on May 19th.  He’s the artist who created this iconic design of the word LOVE.  You’ve probably seen it somewhere in some form.  It was orignally made for a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has been featured on postage stamps as well as in sculpture form in many cities, including New York and Philadelphia.

Love sculpture in JFK Plaza in Philadelphia

The news of Robert Indiana’s death had me searching through the media library on this blog for images described with the word love.  

Photographed at an April 2012 Earth Day celebration in Winnipeg this placard exhorts people to LOVE creation. 

This statue of Joey Smallwood the first premier of Newfoundland depicts him with his hand over his heart to show his LOVE for his province. Photo taken in Gambo Newfoundland in October 2016. 

This declaration of  LOVE was photographed on the side of a building when I was in Austin Texas in March of 2014 watching our son perform at the South by Southwest Music Festival.

A child made this drawing for me about her LOVE for art in August of 2016 after I had taken her on a tour of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

I saw this statement about LOVE from Dr. Martin Luther King in Phoenix Arizona at a professional basketball game in January of 2017 on Dr. Martin Luther King Day.  I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden.  Bob Marley had a song called One LOVE. I photographed this image on his former home in Jamaica when I visited it in February of 2014

Thomas Edison was good friends with Helen Keller who autographed this photo for him with the words…..
Not loudness but LOVE sounds in your ear my friend. Helen Keller. I photographed it at the Thomas Edison Museum in Florida in February of 2014

I photographed Wayan in Ubud, Bali in March of 2008. Wayan is one of the main characters in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, LOVE.

This sculpture called LOVE of Learning by J.D. Lees is outside the site of one of the city of Steinbach’s first schools. I photographed it in October of 2013.

My husband made me give the sculpture The Bean in Chicago a kiss of LOVE in December of 2011.

Other posts…………

Meeting Wayan From Eat Pray Love

A Lovely Day in Steinbach

Holding Joey Smallwood’s Hand

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Filed under Art, Culture, Reflections

An Evening At The Forks

Last week on a beautiful summer evening I pedaled my bicycle down to The Forks to pick up a book I had ordered from the new McNally Robinson store there.  As I rode through Steve Juba Park another woman pulled up beside me on her bike.  “I love your bike,” she said to me.  I told her I had won it in an Arts Junktion raffle and she was impressed.  “I know all about ArtsJunktion,” she said.  We talked about the important work they do. She wondered where the bike was from and I told her White Pine Bicycle Company had donated it. We chatted about the lovely weather and then parted ways at the ‘under the bridge’ path that leads into the Forks. “Enjoy your bike,” she said as I drove off. “It’s a beauty!”

After picking up my book I decided to have a chai latte and read for a while.  The barista at Fools and Horses was interested in my book which was about Impressionist Art.  I talked about working at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and told him how much I liked having a McNally Robinson branch at the Forks.  He really liked that too, but said he still enjoys going to the Grant Park Store for events and meeting friends. I told him my writers’ group meets at McNallys and I still love going there too.  We chatted a bit about why we like McNallys so much. 

On my way outside I saw an older woman in a colourful sari sitting with a tiny newborn in her arms. I smiled and said, “What a beautiful baby.”  A young woman in shorts and a T-shirt nearby who I assume was the baby’s mother pointed to the woman holding the baby and said, ‘grandmother.’  I pointed to myself and said ‘grandmother too’ and then showed the women a picture of my grandsons on my phone.  They smiled. Before I left the younger woman pointed at us both and said, ‘grandmothers.’ 

I sat on a park bench reading for a while and a woman came to sit beside me.  She was clearly frustrated, sighing and reading messages on her phone.  She asked me where a certain Winnipeg street was and I gave her directions for getting there. She told me she was in Winnipeg with a couple of girls from out-of-town who are in foster care. They were in the city to see their mother whom they had met at the Forks. They weren’t supposed to leave the Forks but they had anyway, going to a place in the city the woman beside me thought might be dangerous for them. I wished her well as she set off to find her charges. 

Later at home when I got out my pencils to do my daily drawing, I thought about the people I had just met and how interacting with them had made for an interesting evening. 

Other posts……….

Canada Day at The Forks

Sun Dogs and Steam

River Boat Tour

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A Woonerf In My Back Lane

john hirsch place signDid you know Winnipeg had a woonerf? The lane behind my condo building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District is actually a street called John Hirsch Place. It runs from Main Street to Waterfront Drive parallel to Bannatyne Avenue.  Part of the street has been redeveloped into a beautiful area for sitting, walking, bike riding and parking.  It’s called a woonerf, which is a Dutch word for a living street.  A  woonerf is an urban design that changes streets from being car prioritized to being shared spaces for all kinds of transportation including pedestrians. 

creek bed john hirsch placeThe woonerf in my back lane is a winding tree-lined pathway which used to be the site of Brown’s Creek. The creek was named after Alexander MacDougall Brown who founded the City of Winnipeg Archives. The creek used to run down to where Waterfront Drive is today and then flowed into the Red River.  

With an increased demand for land in downtown Winnipeg at the turn of the century, the creek bed was filled in to make way for roads and buildings. The paving stones on the newly developed street recreate the winding path of the former creek.  

A unique drainage system has been installed under the street. It retains and filters stormwater runoff to hydrate the trees. 

biking in my back laneI love the bicycle shortcut the newly developed street gives me to Waterfront Drive.  It also provides extra parking spaces and…… john hirsch placeincludes park benches where I often see people visiting, reading, napping or enjoying their lunches. lion alexander hotelThere are other interesting features along the path like these stone lions which used to be at the Royal Alexander Hotel before it was demolished in 1971. 

I appreciate the initiative the city of Winnipeg is taking to create green, multi-use spaces that are attractive and quiet in the busy downtown

Other posts………

Really Looking

A  New Winnipeg Coffeeshop Named For a Saint

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Tully

february baby 1979If you’ve given birth you probably have a photo like this too.  Don’t I look all beaming and on top of things?  I wasn’t.  These kinds of photos of new mothers hide the truth.  I was actually exhausted after a seventeen hour labor during which I had done some of the hardest work of my life. At one point my pain seemed so bad I told my husband I was never having another baby. When this photo was taken my body ached and throbbed and was so sore in so many places. I was also sooooooo in love with that little bit of a thing in my arms it totally overwhelmed me. I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to look after him properly. 

An exhausted Marlo leans against the  hallway wall for a minute after dropping her older son off at school

I saw the movie Tully this week. It doesn’t attempt to hide  the fact that pregnancy and early motherhood is full of messiness and hurt and hard work and anxiety.  Marlo the new mother in the film is not only looking after her newborn but two older children as well. Her husband is nice and well-meaning but is working constantly and has little time to help her. Marlo doesn’t care about her appearance, throws frozen food warmed in the microwave on the table, and loses her temper easily. Her life is an endless and exhausting round of breast feedings, school drop offs and pick ups, diaper changes, making school lunches and household chores. 

This photo was taken when our son was still tiny.  The reason I look as happy as I do is because of my mother. I remember the first day I was home alone with my infant son after my husband Dave had left for work.   The baby started to cry.  I was still so stiff and sore I had to roll out of bed and crawl over to his cradle. I felt too weak to even pick him up, never mind feed him and bathe him.  I crawled over to the phone and called  my mother.  “MOM………….” I sobbed into the receiver.  “I’ll be right there,” she said. For the next few days Mom took care of me and our baby and my house till I had a handle on things and could manage on my own.  I don’t know what I would have done without her. 

A young woman named Tully arrives to help Marlo.

Marlo the new mother in the movie Tully doesn’t have a mother to help her but she does have Tully a night nurse hired by Marlo’s rich brother who helps bring a measure of sanity back to Marlo’s family life.  Tully, a young and vibrant woman, cares for the baby at night so Marlo can sleep properly and she also cleans Marlo’s house, cooks for her family, gives her relationship help with her husband, and listens to her problems and concerns.  Marlo doesn’t know what she would do without Tully. 

The film Tully presents a more realistic view of new motherhood than we may have seen in movies in the past. Despite the challenges Marlo faces one never doubts for a minute the honest and passionate love in her heart for her children.  I won’t say too much more about the film because it would be easy to spoil it for you.  Take my word.  It is worth seeing.

Other posts………..

What Does Your Mother Do?

Mothers at the Met

Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians?

 

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A Walk Down Selkirk in Lilac Time

I smelled them before I saw them.  I was walking down Selkirk Avenue yesterday, deep in thought, when all of a sudden I was overwhelmed by the heady scent of lilacs. One of the houses I was passing by had a huge lilac bush lining its front yard. It was covered in blossoms. 

selkirk street lilacsSelkirk isn’t necessarily the prettiest street in Winnipeg.  Lots of the buildings are kind of run down and old, some abandoned.  But those lilacs made the block they were on a thing of beauty.  

lilac bush selkirk streetFor some reason I was reminded of the lines from an Alfred Noyes poem. I don’t know where I learned them.  The lines just popped into my head as I inhaled that lilac smell.  I had to look up the poem when I got home so I could find out who wrote it.  The chorus of the poem goes……..

Go down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!)
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!)

And then I thought of……….

Walk down Selkirk Street in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Walk down Selkirk Street in lilac-time (it’s at the heart of Winnipeg)
And you shall see such blossoms there, in a place where beauty’s sometimes rare 
Walk down Selkirk Street in lilac-time (it’s at the heart of Winnipeg)

Other posts…………

The Palace Theater

The Break

I’m a Shop Girl

 

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Stories in Stone

The skylight area of the Winnipeg Art Gallery is currently home to eight stunning pieces by Inuit sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben all made from Brazilian soapstone. 

Raven Creation by Abraham Anghik Ruben

Many of the Ruben sculptures depict Inuit legends and stories. On his website Ruben writes: “I have chosen to be a story teller for my people through the medium of sculpture. . . . I no longer speak my mother tongue, yet I need to do my part in carrying on the stories and cultural myths, legends and spiritual legacy of our people.” With his art Ruben is carrying on in the tradition of his mother Bertha Thrasher who he describes as a story teller and a keeper of traditions.  

Sedna the Enchantress by Abraham Anghik Ruben

The story of Sedna is told in the piece Sedna The Enchantress.  Sedna was a young Inuit woman whose father put her in a boat to try to help her escape from her husband who had turned out to be someone different than she thought when she married him.  When the vengeful husband tries to sink their boat the father cuts off all his daughter’s fingers and pushes her into the sea in order to save his own life.  Sedna becomes a mermaid and the ends of her fingers turn into all the creatures that live in the ocean.  

Raven Creation Myth by Abraham Anghik Ruben

The story of The Raven is illustrated in three pieces in the current Ruben display.  The Raven created the world from a snowball that formed on his wing. The snowball grew and grew. As Raven landed on the snowball his beak moved back to reveal a human head and his wings moved back to reveal feet and hands.

Raven Creation Myth by Abraham Anghik Ruben

Raven formed the plants and trees from bits of clay.  A pea pod plant burst open and people came out. Raven made animals from clay.  One that didn’t turn out as Raven planned was a large serpent and Raven killed it to protect his human creations. He threw stars into the sky to remind human beings that he was their creator and protector. 

First Flight- Abraham Anghik Ruben

Two contrasting pieces in the exhibit depict a shaman.  In one the shaman is joyfully turning into a bird

Silent Drum by Abraham Anghik Ruben

and in the other the shaman has died and has been buried in a shallow grave.

Shaman and Bear Spirits by Abraham Anghik Ruben

In an interview given for a  2013 article in the Arctic Journal Ruben says both his grandparents and great grandparents were keepers of the shaman tradition. ”The shaman is an intermediary between the physical and spiritual world. But also carries on oral traditions, myths and legend,” Ruben explains. 

Shaman’s Transformation by Abraham Anghik Ruben

Ruben traveled by dog team as a child with his parents hunting polar bears, caribou and beluga whales.  In 1957 when he was seven years old he was sent to residential school and remained there for almost a decade. It was an experience Ruben describes as “the dark night of my soul.”

Raven Spirit Protector by Abraham Anghik Ruben

After leaving school he went to the University of Alaska and studied at the Native Art Center there.  He has gone on to become one of Canada’s most successful and well-known Inuit sculptors. 

His work is displayed next to that of Norvel Morriseau at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in an exhibit entitled Shaman Stories. 

Other posts……..

Oviloo Tunille

Bright Bold and Beautiful

 

 

 

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Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery

Play Is the Highest Form of Research

I took a picture of this fabulous quote from Albert Einstein in the children’s play area in the Saskatoon airport and then looked for photos I had that might illustrate it. “Play is the highest form of research.”

Our son playing in a fort he built under the diningroom table

Kids playing on tree branches in Laos

tea party outside marylou

My sister and I playing tea party at our grandparents’ house in Drake Saskatchewan

inukshuk by children

Inukshuks built by children playing with blocks at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

school boys in vietnam

Boys playing on sand hills in Vietnam

children's art clay face

The result of kids playing with plasticene at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Boys playing in a stream in Bali

Our son playing with a telescope he built

Children playing with a skipping rope on their floating home in Halong Bay Vietnam

Boys in Delhi India playing ball

Our son playing with a beaver puppet at Lower Fort Garry

My Mom and her sisters playing with their dolls

Playing dress up with my cousins on my grandparents’ farmyard in Gnadenthal, Manitoba

Other posts………

Stopping By Woods- A Children’s Masterpiece

Helping Children Become Writers

Amazing Kids

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Filed under Childhood