Monthly Archives: July 2018

Japanese Art and the Impressionists

As I studied the impressionist artists of the late 1800s to prepare to give tours of the current French Moderns exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, one of the things that fascinated me was how many of the impressionist painters were influenced by Japanese art.  In 1854 Japanese ports opened to trade with the west and Japanese items began coming into France. A shop near the Louvre called Le Porte Chinoise sold all kinds of Japanese items. In 1867 Japan held an art exhibition in Paris and Japanese woodblock prints became all the rage. Two pieces in the current French moderns exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery illustrate this Japanese influence.  the wave courbetThis is The Wave by Gustave Courbet.  Many argue that Courbet was directly influenced by the print below. 

the wave Hokusai

The Wave – a woodcut by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai


The Letter by Mary Cassatt- 1890

Another artwork where the Japanese influence is clear is this one by Mary Cassatt. After Mary had seen the exhibition of Japanese color woodcuts in Paris in 1890 she was inspired to make ten prints of her own using the aquatint technique. The Letter was one of them.

Many other French painters were also influenced by the Japanese printmakers, including Monet, Manet and Degas. 

Other posts……….

Tantalizing Tidbits

Without Him We Might Not Even Recognize the Name Monet

A Tale of Two Portraits


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A Dedicated Fringe Volunteer

Dave working hard at the back alley venue at the Manitoba Theatre Centre to tally up ticket sales at this year’s Fringe

The Winnipeg Fringe Festival ended yesterday. If the number of people packing our Exchange District neighborhood has been any indication the 30th annual festival has been a great success despite downtown construction and a couple of nights of pouring rain. The Fringe features some 180 different shows each playing multiple times over a twelve day period. The reason our city can stage this kind of theatre extravaganza is because of a crew of some 800 volunteers who faithfully turn up to sell tickets, usher, do clean up, help performers and entertain kids.  

Dave working at the Fringe in 2015

One of those volunteers is my husband.  Dave is a theatre aficionado who has been a fringe volunteer since the summer of 2012 when we first moved to Winnipeg. This year he was in charge of ticket sales and operations at three different fringe venues.  I love hearing his stories about the interesting people he works with and his encounters with all kinds of unique patrons.

Dave volunteered at the Fringe in 2013 despite having just had hip surgery. He managed to see twenty plays as well. 

Dave’s had a busy time of it the last ten days or so trying to keep up with this commitments to playing baseball, his three different regular golf groups, his part-time job as a professional driver and his fringe volunteering…. never mind trying to fit in seeing some plays himself. 

Dave volunteering at the Cinematheque Venue at the Fringe Festival in 2012

I just love the excitement and fun and positive aura the Fringe Festival brings to my downtown neighborhood.But I realize that only happens because of hundreds of people like Dave invest their time and energy giving back to their community. 

Other posts…….

Oh To Be A Kid At the Fringe Festival

Stories From the Fringe

Fringing Time Four


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Kindness Therapy

When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick- Matthew 14:14

We were sharing stories about our mother with the pastor who would speak at her funeral.  My brother recalled a time of brokenness in his life. He said that after he’d poured out his sorrows to Mom she said gently, “I wonder if you are doing enough to help other people.”

the dance of salome by gozzoli wiki commons

This painting by Benozzo Gozzoli in 1461 illustrates the scene in the first part of Matthew 14. Salome dances. To her left is the executioner. John the Baptist’s head is presented on a platter to Salome’s mother who is in the red dress sitting near the back of the room.

The story of John’s gruesome death in the first part of Matthew 14 has few if any redeeming elements.  A brave prophet is beheaded. A young girl Salome is objectified before men. Herod goes against his conscience to save his reputation and his vengeful wife acts on a grudge against John whose advice has struck a little too close to home. 


Miracle of the Bread and Fish by Giovanni Lanfranco -1620-1623

To learn something from this tragic story we need to keep reading and see how Jesus responded to news of his beloved friend John’s horrific death.  Jesus goes out in a boat alone to grieve but crowds follow him. When his boat reaches the shore there they are.  Jesus begins to heal people and when he finds out they are hungry he performs a miracle so they have food.  In his time of brokenness Jesus does exactly what my Mom advised my brother to do, “help other people.”

mom's picture at grace

A plaque at Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach pays tribute to the work my mother did to support young children and their families

My Mom dealt with serious health issues for over thirty years. Yet the stories of people she served and supported with her love and care during that time could fill a book.  When we face times of brokenness in our lives it may be that the best and most crucial question to ask is…. “What can I do to help other people?”

Other posts……….

Dorothy’s Room

Dorothy Garden

An Artist’s Date for My Mom


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The Lady With A Book

On Monday I was waiting to meet a friend at Assiniboine Park for a walk when I discovered this intriguing statue of a woman sitting on a bench reading a book. She was dressed as someone might have been in the 1950s.lady with a book statue The sign on her park bench said her statue had resided for many years at a home on Wellington Crescent owned by Israel and Babs Asper. Israel or “Izzy” Asper was the founder of Can West Global Communications. He was also the former leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba and was instrumental in the establishment of the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg.  “Babs” or Ruth was the co-founder and chair of the Asper Foundation which supported philanthropic activities in the areas of health, education, culture and human rights.  Now that both Izzy and Babs have died their statue of a reading lady has been donated to Assiniboine Park in their memory.  It sits just inside the gate to the English Gardens. The quote beside the reading woman is from Cicero. “If you have a library and a garden you have everything you need.”

Other posts……..


Hopeful Families in South Korea

Rubbing Mr. Eaton’s Foot



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Filed under Art, Books, Winnipeg

Fringing Times Four

I’ve made it to four fringe plays at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.  I decided to look for one or two valuable insights or ideas from each play. 

My husband and I when we had just started dating 

 How My Light Is Spent

Relationships are what keeps us truly alive and visible in this world. Work hard to maintain your current relationships and don’t be afraid to foster new ones. 

With my two brothers at an Easter family gathering in 2010

The Merkle Sisters

Your siblings are a great gift to appreciate. 

Zip Lining in Costa Rica- I was pretty terrified.


The quality of the last third of your life is in many ways dependent on your attitude and your willingness to take risks, try new things and deal positively with health problems that come your way. 

Marching in the Pride Parade in Steinbach. Photo credit- Grant Burr

Hot Thespian Action

It is a good idea to clean your purse regularly. Don’t be duped into buying things and services you really don’t need. Think carefully about what social justice issues you will support.  You can’t support them all. 

Other posts…………

Oh To Be A Kid At the Fringe Festival

A Roof With A View

Lessons from Leonard

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Filed under Theatre, Winnipeg

Checking Up on the Guerilla Gardener

One of my most popular recent blog posts was about my husband Dave becoming a guerilla gardener by planting some tomatoes in a flower bed near our house.  I thought it was time to check in and see how his plants are doing.  

This is how his tomato plants looked just after he planted them. And this is how they look now.  In this photo Dave is showing off his tomato plants to our brother-in-law.  There are lots of green tomatoes on the vines already.  Won’t be long before we are having some fresh tomato sandwiches. 

Other posts……..

Exploring the Cork Forest

Linda’s Garden

Art In Bloom

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Oh To Be A Kid At the Fringe Festival

marylou working at the fringeOn Friday and Saturday I worked in the Winnipeg Art Gallery tent at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. The kids section of the festival is set up just beside Old Market Square.  What a fun place it is to be.  snakes and ladders at the fringeThere are expert face painters on hand and there is a giant snakes and ladders game.  four square at the fringeYou can play four-square, hang out and read books in the Winnipeg Public Library space or do a little movement and dancing and drama with talented and entertaining instructors.  fringe for kidsThere are all kinds of tossing games to play and of course you can visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery tent and make some art.  On Friday we made paper bag puppets and on Saturday the children were doing water-color paintings.  One little girl did ten paintings in a row all so creative and colorful.  It was great fun getting to know the children and helping them with their art.  self portrait at the fringeOn Saturday my colleague Marion made a water-color painting of me.  

Marion my colleague from France

Marion is from France but has been working at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for the last four months.  In a few days she heads off to the Yukon on the next leg of her Canadian adventure  I will miss her.  

tossing games at the fringeI had never visited the children’s area of the Fringe Festival before.  I am glad I got to work there and see all the kids have such a great time.  

Other posts……..

Two Artists

Olympus Inspired Art

A Children’s Masterpiece


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Filed under Art, Childhood, winnipeg art gallery

Women in Politics


caroline mulroney public domain

Caroline Mulroney is a Harvard educated lawyer who has worked as a financial advisor for a global financial institution and headed many major philanthropic initiatives.

In his Carillon column two weeks ago Michael Zwaagstra praised the new Ontario premier Doug Ford for making some astute decisions in choosing his cabinet.  Zwaagstra highlighted two women, in particular, Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliot who ran against Mr Ford for the leadership of the Conservative Party.  Ms Elliot has been named Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Ms Mulroney is the province’s new Attorney General and Minister of Francophone Affairs.

Christine_Elliott public domain

Christine Elliot has nearly a decade of experience as a member of the Ontario Legislature, served as the auditor for one of Canada’s largest banks and has an international award for being an outstanding citizen because of her pro bono legal work.

As Mr Zwaagstra suggests these two women are highly qualified and experienced. In fact, a quick read of their biographies and then of Mr Ford’s makes it abundantly clear the two women are much more qualified and experienced than Mr Ford himself.  Both women have advanced law degrees from prestigious universities, belong to families with a long history of political service and have impressive resumes when it comes to experience and to accolades received in both government spheres and the international worlds of business, philanthropy, and finance.   

doug ford public domain

Doug Ford opposed the building of a home for disabled youth in his civic constituency while on the Toronto City Council. He said it would ‘ruin the neighbourhood.’

Mr Ford, on the other hand, graduated from high school but dropped out of a technical college without completing even one year. He has a little civic government experience and runs a family business. According to articles in the Toronto Globe and Mail that business has struggled both financially and operationally. 

It leaves one wondering why Mr. Ford was elected leader of the Conservative Party and not one of the two vastly more qualified women running against him.  Kudos to Ford, for putting Elliot and Mulroney in his cabinet but shouldn’t one of them be the premier?

Interestingly Mr Zwaagstra’s column of two weeks ago is all about how the most important factor for choosing candidates for jobs should be their qualifications and experience, not their gender. Yet in choosing Mr Ford, the Conservative Party of Ontario clearly ignored the highly superior qualifications and experience of two female leadership candidates and selected a much less qualified and experienced male candidate who was short on substance but for some reason big in popularity and bravado.

 This brings to mind the Carillon’s editorial last week in which Grant Burr wonders aloud why Susan Penner is not a candidate for the upcoming mayoralty race in Steinbach.  Burr who is a regular observer at city council meetings says Penner, an eight-year veteran of the council, is imminently more capable and articulate and has much stronger leadership skills than the male councillors who are running for mayor.  Since she holds many of the same viewpoints as one of the men who has thrown his hat into the ring, Burr says it is unfortunate she isn’t the one representing that political perspective in the race. Burr speculates that Penner may not be running because she would have little chance of beating the male candidate. He appears to be short on substance but for some inexplicable reason big in popularity.

rona ambrose public domain

Rona Ambrose the former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada who at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is currently lending her strong and experienced voice to Canada’s NAFTA negotiation team.

In a Maclean’s essay former Conservative party leader Rona Ambrose addresses some of the public attitudes that continue to impact the number of women we see in political office. She claims voters have different expectations when it comes to women.  She wonders for example if a woman with five young children would have been elected the leader of a political party as Andrew Scheer was.  Ambrose talks about her personal experience in politics.  She was mocked, dismissed, insulted, threatened, underestimated, disrespected and ignored because of her gender.  Despite this, she encourages women to run for office.  Canada needs their diverse talents and their intelligence. Perhaps there will come a time when expertise and experience win the day in the political realm and gender is irrelevant.  We aren’t there yet.

Other posts…….

Could I Join The Conservative Party?

International Women’s Day

What A Difference

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You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  Deuteronomy 10:19

In the 1920s my father’s parents arrived in Canada from Ukraine. They were frail after surviving a famine and penniless after losing everything to marauding bandits. They couldn’t speak English. Canadians took these strangers in. They received transportation loans.  People found jobs and homes for them.

Recently my husband and I took my father to a party hosted by the son of a family my parents sponsored to come to Canada from Cambodia in 1985.  Everyone in the family calls my father “Grandpa”.  The family has grown, its members have prospered and have become valuable contributing citizens of Canada in many different areas. They still include my widowed father in their social gatherings because they have not forgotten the help my Mom and Dad gave them when they were strangers in a new country. 

A couple from Rawanda that Dave and I helped sponsor to come to Canada

Like my father, many of my grandparents’ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have been very active in supporting refugees. I think we are all motivated at least in part, by the thought of what would have happened to our grandparents if they hadn’t received assistance when they were strangers in a new country. Helping refugees is part of our family’s legacy. 

Some fifty Scripture passages reference the need for a generous attitude to strangers. In Deuteronomy 10:19 God reminds the children of Israel to show kindness to strangers because they were once strangers themselves in Egypt. In Matthew 25:38 Jesus says that when we welcome strangers we are really welcoming him. Romans 12:13 lists hospitality to strangers as an attribute of the faithful.

According to United Nations data there are more than 65 million refugees in the world today. There is no lack of opportunity for us to act on the Biblical imperative to love the stranger.

Other posts…………

Standing Up For Children

Supporting Refugees Before It was Trendy

Thoughts on Refugees


Filed under Religion

Making Memories

My brother-in-law John is facing some serious health challenges and that prompted our recent trip to Ontario.  We wanted to make some memories.  

As they have on so many past visits my brother-in-law and sister-in-law Paul and Shirley opened their home to us. They are so incredibly hospitable.  Two of our nephews hosted family events that were lots of fun.  

We were able to make a couple quick visits to Dave’s aunts and uncles. We attended my brother-in-law John and sister-in-law Linda’s anniversary party, went to watch a great-nephew play baseball a couple of times, went to the Dairy Freez where a great-niece works, enjoyed a barbecue with steaks grilled to perfection by my brother-in-law Bill and golfed.  

We also spent several hours on two days staying with John and visiting with him while Linda went out to do errands.  Our last afternoon in Ontario we went to pick up a wheelchair equipped van and took Dave’s brother John on another outing, this time to a local winery.  

During our visit to the winery this praying mantis got up close and personal with one of the wine corks

The Muscedere Winery has special memories for our family.  family photo hannah's weddingIt was while taking a family photo in the vineyard there seven years ago that our older son and his wife told us they were expecting their first child.  


My niece being led down the aisle by her Dad

My niece got married on the winery grounds in a ceremony and reception that turned out to be very memorable.  On our visit this time we enjoyed four of the Muscedere  Winery’s delicious wood fired pizzas and  two kinds of their white wines.  There was lots of visiting and reminiscing and joking and story telling.  at the winery leamingtonIt created another fine family memory. 

Other posts……..

Treking to the Tip of Canada

The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island

Driedgers Hiking in Arizona

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Filed under Family