Monthly Archives: May 2018

Play Is the Highest Form of Research

I took a picture of this faboulous 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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Talk About Defying Convention

“I don’t want to trickle out. I want to pour until the pail is empty- the last going out in a gush, not in drops.”

Emily Carr said that to her family and friends who tried to stop her from going to paint in the forests of British Columbia in the last years of her life.  Dealing with ongoing mental and physical health challenges Emily was determined to continue painting.  She said to a friend, “I must go into the forest again.  The forest still has something to say to me and I must hear it.” 

tree movement emily carr 1937-1938

Tree Movement by Emily Carr 1937-1938- Winnipeg Art Gallery Collection

An article in Macleans magazine written a few years after Emily’s death in 1945 says “trees danced for her and she made them dance in her paintings. Gangling tree tops were ballet dancers bowing to nature.”

emily carr in her caravan

Emily Carr and her animals in her caravan -Photo from the British Columbia archives

Never one to bow to the conventions of society Emily would camp out in the woods later in her life in a large caravan she dubbed “The Elephant” with her menagerie of animals-  her dogs- she raised sheep dogs and had many other canine pets. She also had cats, a pet monkey Woo, a white rat, a parrot, canaries and chickens. 

emily carr -cove- winnipeg art gallery

Cove by Emily Carr- Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Emily is one of the artists featured in a current exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Defying Convention.  Emily snubbed convention in so many ways. She was a troublesome child who tore her clothes climbing trees and fences. She talked to cows and embarrassed her sisters with her outspokenness. She studied in Europe in 1900 and again in 1910 but her paintings didn’t sell when she returned to her home in Victoria British Columbia.  They were too unconventional. 

totem and trees 1912

Totem and Trees by Emily Carr 1912

Spending time in First Nations communities in British Columbia was certainly an unconventional thing for a single unaccompanied  woman to do in the early 1900s, especially traveling there in a dugout canoe and by horseback. But Emily did just that. She forged many important relationships in these communities and her First Nations friends nicknamed her Kleewyck- ‘The Laughing One.’ Emily documented the totem poles and scenes of daily life in the villages she visited. 

Silver gelatin print of Emily Carr in her studio in 1939 by Harold Mortimer-Lamb

Photograph of Emily Carr by Harold Mortimer Lamb 1939 

Even Emily’s appearance was unconventional.  Defying the fashion trends of the day she dressed in loose-fitting smocks, wore orthopedic stockings and covered her hair with a net cap. 

Emily Carr with her pets in the backyard of her boarding house on Simcoe Street in Victoria BC. -Photo from the archives of the British Columbia Royal Museum

Emily made a living by running a boarding house and was known by her tenants for her eccentricities and her quick temper. She only had time to paint after a busy day of tending to her house and boarders and pets. 

klee wyckEmily’s statement at the beginning of this blog post that she didn’t want to trickle out of life certainly came true. In the last five years of her life her career as a writer flourished and ‘gushed’. Her first book Klee Wyck won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1941 and her second novel The Book of Small was named Book of the Year in Canada in 1942.  Just before her death in 1945 she completed her autobiography Growing Pains.

Even after her death Emily defied convention by becoming a success when many people thought she never would. Sadly she did not live long enough to witness the eventual popularity of her artwork. Emily usually sold her paintings for $35-$50.  In 2013 a painting of Emily’s sold for over $3 million. 

The Defying Convention exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery includes work by Emily Carr and many other women who defied convention in various ways as they tried to find a place for themselves in the male dominated art world of the early 1900s.  

Other posts………

Women Painting Men

Klee Wyck



Filed under Art, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Blaming Satan Is Misguided and Dangerous

I was troubled by an article written by Christian author Max Lucado for the Fox News network on Friday in the wake of yet another deadly school shooting, this one in Santa Fe, Texas.  Lucado tells readers it may seem as if God has abandoned people when terrible things like school shootings happen, but we are not to worry, because in essence God is just biding his/her time. The Day of Judgement will come soon and then God will get revenge on Satan who is the cause of all the evil things that are happening in the world.

Satan in Front of God by Corrado Giaquinto 1750

That kind of theology offers me no comfort and seems very dangerous.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know there is plenty of evil in this world and I realize some people feel they have to personify that evil by calling it Satan or the devil.  But when we blame everything on some other- worldly demon it becomes just a little too easy not to look inward and find the things we need to change about ourselves and society. 

In an opinion piece in The Atlantic David Frum says American high school students are 82 times more likely to die from a gun homicide than teenagers anywhere else in the developed world.  That is a statistic that should make people spring into action to change things, not wait patiently for God to exact revenge from Satan on some hoped for Day of Judgement. 

I think if God, the source of good in this world, read Max Lacado’s article, he/she would shake their head, thinking…….. I gifted these people with the intelligence, the resources, the example of Jesus to follow… so they could fight the negative and damaging tendencies within themselves, and undo the injustice and harm they have created in the world…… and now………. they are waiting for me to somehow make things right.  How sad!

Creative Commons photo taken by Lorie Shaull at the Washington DC protest organized by students after shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in February of 2018

I know that’s not true of everyone.  And to be fair I have read suggestions from Max Lucado himself for saner gun laws in the United States. But his idea that we should find a measure of comfort and hope in some future Hollywood-like showdown between the forces of good and evil is misguided. That showdown needs to be real. It needs to be happening now and we each have a role to play in it.  Seeing people come together to take positive and progressive action to combat things that are destructive is what gives me comfort and hope. 

Other posts……

I’m So Tired of You America

Thank Goodness for the Battle of the Sexes

How To Stop Abortions



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Wedding Day

It’s the big wedding day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  I thought to celebrate I’d post some photos of weddings in my family.  Perhaps not as grand as the weddings of the royals but still special. wedding 1973Our wedding in August of 1973. wedding picture 1952My parents Paul and Dorothy Peters at their wedding May 1952

mom and dad's weddingMy husband’s parents Cornie and Anne Driedger at their wedding in September of 1942.

gp gm weddingMy paternal grandparents Margaretha and Diedrich Peters at their wedding in July 1925.honeymoon couple 1917My maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt leaving on their honeymoon in January 1917.heinrich and gertrude ennsMy husband’s maternal grandparents Gertrude and Heinrich Enns pose for a wedding photo in January 1903.

All the couples pictured here had lasting and loyal marriages despite the inevitable challenges they faced.  I wish the same for the royal couple. 

Other posts……….

Anne Driedger 

A Community Affair

A Honeymoon Adventure

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Family of Spies

family of spies“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”   That quote from the Bible was the theme of a  commencement address given at a Virgina college last week by recently fired American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  Tillerson warned that when leaders lie and people accept those lies, it won’t be long before freedom is lost.  

jodi book launch

I attended the launch of Jodi Carmichael’s book Family of Spies 

Interestingly that same Bible verse about truth and freedom appears a number of times in a new novel for middle grade readers by Winnipeg author Jodi Carmichael. Much of the story in her Family of Spies is set in 1944 just before the end of World War II.  The action happens during a period of time when Hitler is trying to conceal the truth and make the German people accept his alternate reality.  

edward crawford

 Jodi’s grandfather who inspired her book

Jodi’s inspiration for the book grew out of the fact that the records detailing her grandfather Edward Crawford’s service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II remain sealed to this day. Why? Could he have been a spy? In her book Jodi imagines that three of Edward’s great-grandchildren have arrived in Paris on a family vacation. They have a suitcase of their great grandfather’s belongings and hatch a plan to try to figure out the mystery surrounding his military service. 

war medals family of spies

Jodi’s grandfather’s military service medals

I attended the launch of Jodi’s book at the end of April and she had some of her grandfather’s memorabilia on display, including his war medals and a photograph of him after the Newfoundland native was named a Rhodes Scholar. 

cookies jodi's launch

The cookies served at the book launch for Family of Spies featured the Eiffel Tower.

Jodi wrote Family of Spies while living in Europe so she was able to visit the important sites in Paris where the action in her novel takes place. That  ‘feet on the ground’ research is evident in her vivid descriptions of French landmarks. 

As Jodi’s heroes Ford, Ellie and Gavin explore Paris, trying to discover the truth about their great grandfather’s past, they also discover some truths about themselves and their relationships with one another. I really liked that about the book. 

jodi signing her book

Jodi signs books for her fans

Jodi is a member of the children’s writers group I meet with twice a month. I have just finished the first draft of a novel based on an event in my own grandfather’s life.  Jodi’s success with  Family of Spies gives me a tiny bit of hope that I may be able to get my novel published as well. Jodi is a successful writer and I so appreciate her willingness to share her expertise with our writing group.  You can find out more about Jodi and the other books she has published on her website. 

Other posts……..

A Glamorous Night For Manitoba Writing

The Cube

Who Do Family Stories Belong To?



Filed under Books, Childhood, Writing

Women Painting Men

There’s a brilliant new exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Defying Convention. It features female Canadian artists who were defying convention in the first half of the twentieth century by trying to earn a place for themselves in an art world dominated and controlled by men. 

Western Industries (Steel Pour, Vulcan Iron Works- Winnipeg ) c. 1939 by Georgie Wilcox

Western Industries (Steel Pour, Vulcan Iron Works- Winnipeg ) c. 1939 by Georgie Wilcox- an iron works would have been considered rather a hazardous place for a woman to be painting in the 1930s

This is a rich exhibition that I absolutely love so it will probably give rise to any number of blog posts but this one was inspired by a group of grade eight boys I was touring through Defying Convention. I told the boys the exhibit was a collection of work by women artists and they pointed to the painting above and asked, “Why are there men in the paintings then?”  I had to clarify that the artists and not the subjects of the paintings were women, but those boys got me thinking of how men are portrayed by women in the exhibit. 

The Village Blacksmith by Marion Nelson Hooker 1905

The Village Blacksmith by Marion Nelson Hooker 1905

It probably would not have been considered very ‘proper’ in 1905 for a woman to paint a half nude blacksmith especially for Marion Nelson Hooker who was very active in the traditional Anglican church. Marion Nelson Hooker did paint this brawny blacksmith when she was still a single woman. In 1907 she moved from Ontario to Selkirk Manitoba to marry a widower with six children. A condition of the marriage was that she would be allowed to continue her painting. Her new husband provided her with a studio for doing just that.

At the UN by Pegi Nicol MacLeod c.1945

Pegi Nicol MacLeod was a Canadian painter living in New York City  when Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson commissioned her to do a painting of the United Nations General Assembly.  Pearson was very involved with the United Nations after World War II, serving as the President of the General Assembly and earning a Nobel Prize for his work as a peacekeeper.  A similar United Nations painting of Pegi Nicol MacLeod’s  sold recently at the Mayberry Gallery in Winnipeg.   Pearson commissioned the United Nations paintings so you might think he would have asked  Pegi Nicol MacLeod to paint him at the speaker’s podium, but the person at the podium in this one looks suspiciously like a woman.  I know this painting must have been done in 1947 because that is when the second session of the United Nations General Assembly was held in Flushing Meadow New York in an old exhibition hall. The third session was held there too in the fall of 1949 but by then Pegi Nicol Macleod had died.  Pierre Berton gives a detailed and colorful description of this meeting in a November 1947 article in Macleans magazine. The photo in the magazine matches Pegi’s painting.  In the sea of men she has painted Pegi Nicol MacLeod appears to have included three women- one on the podium and two to the far right.  According to Pierre Berton’s article the wives of many of the delegates were in attendance and the ushers were women but the head of the Indian delegation was also a woman Mrs. Vijaya Lakasmi Pandit. Could she be one of the two women on the right or is she at the podium? Pierre Berton also mentions the names of some female journalists at the meeting. 

The Boy With a Red Cap by Lucille Casey MacArthur 1891-1898

This boy looks like he is must be in his late teens. He has a classic face, seems to be bare chested and his hair and cap have a a softer quality about them in contrast to his rather sharp features.  The Boy With A Red Cap was painted by Lucille Casey MacArthur who moved to Winnipeg from Mississippi with her husband in 1884. She studied in Europe and on her return to Winnipeg held an exhibition that some say was well attended because of Lucille’s nude section of paintings. She was definitely a defier of convention. 

You don’t want to miss the Defying Convention exhibit. This blog is just a tiny taste of the variety of pieces on display by nearly forty different women brave and determined enough to make their way in what was definitely a man’s world or art in the early 20th century. 

Other posts………

Children Are Going To Love Her

Klee Wyck

Transferring the Real to the Unreal


Filed under Art, WInnipeg Art Gallery

You Have to Hear Their Stories

Richard Wagamese is a beautiful writer whose work I have read before and so I knew I was going to thoroughly enjoy the prose when I started his book Ragged Company.  I wasn’t disappointed. 

Despite the beauty of the writing I admit I was a little frustrated during the first half of the novel.  It depicts the lives of four homeless people who have formed a little band or family.  Amelia One Sky has three male companions Digger, Timber and Double Dick. The book starts with relating Amelia’s history so you feel like you know her right away.  But honestly the other three guys kept getting mixed up in my head as the story unfolded.  I just couldn’t keep the three of them straight and was actually a bit upset with Richard Wagamese.  Couldn’t he have found better ways to distinguish between his male protagonists?  However in the second part of the story one by one each of the men, Digger, Timber and Double Dick share their life stories and after that I had absolutely no trouble telling the men apart.  

Richard Wagamese

I don’t know whether Richard Wagamese did it purposely but his book really demonstrates that until we hear their stories homeless people sort of seem all the same to us.  They are just struggling, nameless, faceless folks we encounter begging or sleeping on the street. They aren’t individuals with individual lives and histories and personalities till……………..we listen to their stories. 

Other posts……….

Indian Horse

Teaching Kids About Being Homeless

The Break


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