Monthly Archives: June 2018

Knowing the Future

“I wish we knew a little more about the future.”  I was chatting with another church member about my age during the coffee hour after the service yesterday.  She said if she and her husband knew how long they were going to live they could plan a little better for the future.  If they knew they would die at a relatively young age they would use their savings to travel more now. If on the other hand they knew they would live several more decades they might have to save their money to cover their living expenses in their last years. I got the feeling from our conversation they were leaning towards living more in the here and now, enjoying some traveling and not worrying excessively about how they’d survive in their nineties. 

My grandmother once told me when she was a young girl growing up in Ukraine gypsies camped outside her village. They would tell your fortune if you gave them a watermelon.  She was glad she had never taken them up on the offer.  Her life had many difficulties and challenges and she was glad she’d only had to face those when they appeared and hadn’t had to worry about them ahead of time. 

walden pond signIn the early 1990s our family visited Walden Pond where the famous writer Henry David Thoreau made his home. We each wrote our dreams for the future on the rocks there. Supposedly the rain would wash our dreams into the water of the lake and they would come true.  The wishes I wrote that day still haven’t materialized but I’m glad I don’t know what my future holds because that allows me to live in hope that someday my dreams will be fulfilled. 

writing wishes at walden pond

Our son writing his wishes on a rock at Walden Pond

I think a lot about the future.  Like my grandmother I am glad I don’t know what it holds. It allows me to live in the here and now and enjoy life like my friend in church has decided to do. Not knowing my future also allows me to hold out hope that the dreams I penned at Walden Pond so long ago can still come true.

Other posts……..

When The Coin Rings Luck Springs

Lucky Locks

Making Wishes in Sedona

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Filed under Reflections

She Persisted

she persistedI’ve just added She Persisted Around the World to our church library.  The book written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger tells the stories of thirteen women from around the world who persisted despite all kinds of barriers placed in their way.  marie curieSome of the women are familiar like Marie Curie twice awarded the Noble Prize for her discovery of two new scientific elements. She persisted despite the fact she had to leave her home country to study.  j.k. rowlingAnother familiar woman is English author J.K. Rowling who persisted in writing her award winning series of Harry Potter books despite being rejected by dozens of publishers.  caroline hershelOther women featured in the book are not so familiar like Caroline Hershel an astronomer who discovered two planets.  She persisted in studying astronomy even though her parents thought she should try to get a job as a servant.  Sissi lima do amorAnother woman I hadn’t heard about before was Sissi Luna do Amor one of the first women to play soccer professionally in Brazil.  She persisted even though she got in trouble for wanting to play because she was a girl.  viola desmondThere is even a section in the book about Canada’s own Viola Desmond who persisted in retaining her seat in the “white” section of a movie theater even though she was black. 

Elizabeth_Warren_2016“She Persisted”  is the famous phrase directed at American Senator Elizabeth Warren when she insisted on reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Senate as a way to defend her objection to the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  Sessions had an abysmal record on civil rights which had previously prevented him from being appointed as a federal court judge.  The Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell called for a vote to silence Senator Warren. He said he had no choice because she wouldn’t listen to him. “She persisted” he said and kept reading the letter. The phrase “she persisted” has quickly come to refer to women’s persistence in breaking barriers despite being silenced or ignored. 

kate sheppard

Kate Sheppard who persisted in getting the vote for women in New Zealand.

There are so many interesting women profiled in She Persisted Around the World and they come from every continent and every area of endeavor.  I think the book will be an inspiration for everyone who reads it and not just children, but adult as well.

Other posts……….. 

 

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Filed under Books, Childhood, History

What’s A Twitter Pitch Party?

On Thursday I was part of my first Twitter Pitch Party. A Twitter Pitch Party is a way for writers to try and get their work seen by potential publishers.  The pitch party on Thursday was for picture books.  Here’s the idea.

Writers of picture books create a 280 character pitch or summary of their story written in a way that they hope will intrigue book publishers, editors and writing agents.  They post it on Twitter.  Then publishers, editors and agents who are interested in your book based on your description can ‘like’ your pitch and if they do you can send them a query or submission asking them to consider your book for publication.  

I followed the Twitter Pitch feed during the day and literally hundreds of different pitches for picture books were being posted each hour.  What was the chance an editor, publisher or agent would even happen upon mine in an amongst the many thousands posted ?

I realized that just like the more traditional avenues I’ve already tried for getting a picture book published you have about a one in a million chance your twitter party pitch will lead to a book deal. So why do people participate when the odds are so stacked against them?  I guess many of the authors are in my position where they have submitted their picture books to dozens of publishing houses and contests and explored endless avenues for publication.  They may have received lots of positive feedback and accolades as I have, but no interest in a book deal. At that point you are willing to roll the dice and try a Twitter Pitch for getting your book published. 

The next step for many of the picture book authors as well as me may just be self-publication – a pricey and time consuming option because you need to hire an illustrator and book designer and pay all the publishing costs yourself.   But that option is becoming more and more common. 

It was good practice for me to have to pitch my book in one short phrase but I don’t think I will participate in a Twitter Pitch again.  Finding success there I think is kind of like planning your future around a winning lottery ticket. I need to pursue more concrete avenues for publication. Getting a picture book published is still on my bucket list and for now it’s staying there. 

Other posts………

The Cube

Learning From Judy Blume

The Artist’s Way

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Filed under Books, Writing

Sketching in the Park

sketching assiniboine parkOn Monday my friend Esther and I met in Assiniboine Park to sketch.  Esther had picked a spot with a great view of The Pavilion.  We spent an hour and half or so creating our own versions of the scene.  

esther's sketch

My friend Esther’s sketch.

Assiniboine Park has a special significance for my family.  My parents got engaged in the park close to seventy years ago. My Dad was in the middle of his proposal when a guard knocked on the window and told him the park was closing for the evening.  The Pavilion was also the site for my brother and his partner’s wedding over a decade ago.  

sketch assiniboine park

My rendition of the park pavilion.

Assiniboine Park was a great place to sketch.  Esther and I have decided we will try to sketch together once a month. I wonder where we will go next? 

Other posts……..

I’m Trying to Draw Cartoons

When Did You Stop Drawing?

Don’t Be Scared to be Creative

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Filed under Art, Winnipeg

Getting Involved at the Human Rights Museum

 

me and nelson mandelaOne of the things I really liked about the Nelson Mandela display at the Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg is the way it provides the visitor with a variety of experiences to draw you into the story of the fight to end apartheid in South Africa.

south africa park benchYou can sit on a park bench clearly labeled For Europeans Only and read information about what it was like for a black woman to work as a domestic servant or a black man to be a miner in Johannesburg. Photos show how they were given unsanitary cramped living quarters and made to wear an identification bracelet with a number assigned by their employer.

mandela cellYou can stand in a cell like the one where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for twenty- seven years. As silhouettes of Nelson appear on the walls you almost feel like you are with him on Robben Island where he was imprisoned because of his activism and leadership in the anti-apartheid movement.

interview room mandela exhibitYou can sit on chairs in a secret hideout and watch Nelson Mandela do a television interview with a British journalist at 2:00 am in 1961. nelson mandela interviewMandela had gone underground after been convicted of treason for his peaceful protests against apartheid.

apartheid postersYou can make a poster.  A display features a whole variety of posters that helped to advance the ideals of the anti-apartheid movement. posterOn an interactive board you can choose from many different options to create a background, wording and illustrations and create an anti-apartheid poster of your very own. If you take a photo you could even print up your poster at home.

mailbox mandela exhibitYou can write a letter.  As you leave the display you watch young South Africans share their hopes and dreams for the future of their country.  After being inspired by what Nelson Mandela did to bring about change in his community you have the opportunity to write a letter saying what you will do to change your community for the better. Letter writing paper, felt markers and even colorful envelopes are available and once you have written your message you can either keep it or ‘mail’ it to the world in the mail slot provided.

letterThe Nelson Mandela exhibit is informative and thought-provoking and provides opportunity for hands on involvement.  Since experiencing the exhibit I’ve been thinking a lot about how the South African colonizers knew ending apartheid would also end their comfortable and successful way of life. Their story reminds us that people are always susceptible to following their basest instincts of self-survival and self- promotion even if that damages others and is not fair or ethical.  Sadly it is still a timely message in our present day.

Other posts……..

Images of Apartheid

An Inspiration

Not the Harlem I Expected

 

 

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Filed under History, Winnipeg

Who Is She?

marie laurencin woman in scarf“Who is she?”  On Saturday after I gave my first tour of The French Moderns exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery a woman stayed behind to ask me about a painting that intrigued her.  It was called Femme au Foulard or Woman With A Scarf. She thought the woman in the painting looked sort of mysterious and melancholy. The gallery visitor had never heard of Marie Laurencin the artist and I had to confess I hadn’t either.  I thanked the woman for her interest and promised I’d find out more about Marie Laurencin.  

Marie_Laurencin,_c.1912,_Paris

Marie Laurencin in 1912

I’ve since learned that Marie was a French artist who lived from 1883-1956.  She was an illegitimate child raised in Paris by her aloof and authoritarian mother and a mostly absentee father who was married to another woman. Like the great impressionist painter Renoir who got his start painting porcelain, Marie did porcelain painting in Sevres France before returning  to her Paris birthplace and studying oil painting.  

marie-laurencin-group-of-artists-1908-trivium-art-history.1200x0

Group of Artists painted by Marie Laurencin in 1908 features Marie with artist Pablo Picasso to her left and writer Guillaume Apollinaire to her right. Picasso’s model and muse Fernande Olivier is leaning on her hand.

In Paris Marie met the painters Pablo Picasso and Henri Rousseau and began a six-year relationship with Guillaume Apollinaire a poet, playwright and short story writer and a great fan of the cubist art movement. Their relationship ended in 1913. Marie married a German baron in 1914. She would later divorce her alcoholic husband and never married again. 

alice in wonderland illustration by marie laurencin

Alice in Wonderland illustration by Marie Laurencin

Marie was a painter, printmaker and stage designer.  She illustrated the 1930 edition of Alice in Wonderland.

Portrait of author Somerset Maugham by Marie Laurencin

In 1936 she painted a portrait of her friend the British playwright Somerset Maugham who had a home on the French Riveria. She usually charged men double what she charged women for portraits but her Maugham portrait was a gift to him.  

Le Bal élégant, La Danse à la campagne by Marie Laurencin- 1913

Marie often exhibited with Cubist artists but her paintings weren’t typical of that art movement. Her work has been described as soft, pastel and feminine a real contrast to the vivid, geometrical work of many Cubists. A friend once said….. “there is something of a fairy wand in the brush of Marie Laurencin.” 

Marie_Laurencin-Tete_de_Jeune_Fille_1909_

Tete de Jeune Fille or Head of a Young Girl by Marie Laurencin 1909

Interestingly in 1983 a hundred years after she was born the Musee’ Marie Laurencin opened in Nagano, Japan to display more than 600 pieces of Marie Laurencin’s work collected by Masahiro Takano. The museum has since been relocated to Tokyo. 

ile-de-france-1940

Ile de France 1940 by Marie Laurencin

There are only a handful of women whose work is displayed in The French Moderns exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I knew about three of them, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot and Gabriele Münter, but thanks to my inquisitive tour participant on Saturday I will now be able to tell future visitors I guide about a fourth woman artist Marie Laurencin.

Note: An excellent article in the Women in World History Biographical Encyclopedia provided a great deal of information about Marie Laurencin. 

 

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Filed under Art, WInnipeg Art Gallery

What A Difference

school trustee
Here is a photo of the board of trustees of the Hanover School Division in the 1960s. This is the school division where I attended school and worked almost my entire career as a teacher.
hsd-board
Here is a photo of the current board. Notice any difference? This second photo includes three men who serve as the division’s superintendents. If you factor that in it means that in 2018 there are more female trustees than male trustees.

In an interesting article called Why Women Need to Be Elected to Office writer Dawn Hucklebridge notes that the United States has an abysmally low record when it comes to electing women to political office compared to other countries. But the one exception is that women comprise 40% of elected officials on school boards. 

The same article makes some interesting claims.

    1. Women are more likely to run for office because they feel called to serve and want to make a difference in their community. Men report running to fulfill a life long dream.
    2. Women are more productive and progressive in political office than their male counterparts.
    3. They are more likely to champion policies that support women and families.
    4. They are more likely to work across the aisle with political opponents.
    5. They introduce more new legislation and policy.
    6. There is less corruption during their terms of service.

The article suggests that women’s desire to serve and make a difference on school boards should make those boards fertile ground for candidate recruitment for other offices. Women who have served on school boards view political office as a way to fix problems and improve their communities. And those are exactly the values needed in higher political office.

Other posts………

Thankfully Times Have Changed

Women Were Honored? Think Again. 

Are You This Determined to Vote?

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Filed under Education, Politics