Monthly Archives: October 2018

Where I’m From

Where I’m From

I am from sausage smoking,

From shoe polish and Easter bonnets

I am from “swords into plowshares”

The wind rustling the Russian olive trees round Grandma and Grandpa’s house

And Mom playing the piano for hours on Sunday afternoons

 

I am from swimming in seaweed and reading endless books

From Paul and Dorothy

From ‘use your common sense’ and ‘I was just thinking of you’

From ‘it will be better by the time you’re a grandmother’

And ‘oh piffle.’

 

I am from Diedrich and Margaretha and Peter and Annie’s branch

Sommer borscht and chili soup

From Grandma’s arm getting caught in the washer wringer

And Grandpa baking bread for thousands of soldiers

 

In the closet in the second bedroom

is an old battered bin

Jam packed with photos and slides and stories

I am from that jumble of memories

If I can arrange them just right will I find my place in the family landscape?

I’ve used this poem pattern from George Ella Lyon before on this blog.  The poem above is one I wrote as a sample for a women’s retreat I’m spoke at on the weekend. 

marylou kaaren and carol

My cousin, sister and me in Easter bonnets

christmas-with-schmidt-grandparents

With my maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt

parents 1955

With my parents and sister in 1955

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A Writing Inheritance From Two Grandparents

For my  birthday my aunt took me out for a lovely lunch and gave me a present that had belonged to my grandfather.  My aunt was doing volunteer work in California in the 1960s when my grandparents visited her there. My grandfather was very interested in the state’s giant redwood trees. So my aunt gifted him with this redwood pen stand. She kept it when Grandpa died and decided to pass it on to me for my birthday, since I like to write. 

redwood pen setI love this gift.  I had never really thought of my paternal grandfather as a writer till we moved to Arizona for a year in 1989 and Grandpa took to writing me letters, perhaps with this very pen.  They were interesting letters and full of words of wisdom and advice. grandparents writing tools

I have placed Grandpa’s pen set on a shelf in my living room next to a letter writing set that belonged to my maternal grandmother, Annie Jantz Schmidt. I inherited it when she died.  It has a holder for a pen, an ink pot, a small stamp container and a rack for envelopes.  My mother often talked about what beautiful handwriting my grandmother had. 

I love having these two pieces of writing memorabilia from my two grandparents.  

Other posts……..

A Lament For Letters

A Pen or a Wing?

The Writing Life

 

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The Same Race

“We are all running the same race.  We are all going to the same place.”

The_Once_band- wikipediaOn Tuesday night courtesy of my cousin and her husband we attended a concert at the West End Cultural Centre featuring the talented musical trio The Once.  The Newfoundland band members have a wonderful on stage chemistry and blend their voices in rich and interesting harmonies.  I enjoyed many of their songs but the one whose lyrics stuck with me was called We Are All Running.

The line in the song that is repeated over and over is………

“We are all running the same race.  We are all going to the same place.

I did some reflecting on the meaning of that line.

We are all running the same race.  

 

Golden_Rule_by_Norman_Rockwell public domain

The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

Whether we are Caucasian or African or Indigenous or Asian we are all participating in the race of life hoping to find happiness, security and peace of mind. 

Whether we are rich or poor or middle class we all running the race of life to achieve the very best outcomes for our families and those we love. 

Whether we are Conservatives or Liberals or New Democrats or Green Party members we all involved in the race of life with the goal of making our communities, our country and our world a safer, more prosperous and more peaceful place to live now and in the future. 

Whether we are Buddhists or Muslims or Christians or Hindus we are all pondering the race of life in order to find meaning, hope and spiritual blessing. 

Whether we are men or women or transgender, straight or gay or bisexual we are all journeying together on the race of life desiring to discover who we are and how we can connect to others in meaningful ways. 

We are all running the same race and in the end we are all hoping to arrive at the same place- we all basically desire the same outcomes for ourselves and our families and our communities. 

street mural canada's children saskatoon

Mural of Canada’s children on Broadway in Saskatoon

 

Listen to The Once singing We Are All Running. 

The song’s lyrics can be found here .

 

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It Caught Georgia O’ Keefe’s Eye Too

desert flower“What a beautiful flower growing in the middle of the desert.”  I was on a hike with friends in the Red Cliff Desert Reserve in St. George Utah, when I caught sight of this lovely flower. I took several photos and since it was a bit windy one friend even held a blossom still so I could photograph it better. jimson weed red cliffs desert reserve st. georgeA few days later I was visiting an art gallery and saw a reproduction of a painting by famous southwest artist Georgia O’Keefe. “That’s the same flower,” I said recognizing the flower I’d photographed in the desert. georgia-okeeffe-painting

Turns out it wasn’t a flower at all but the Jimson Weed, a  plant that originated in Mexico but has now spread throughout the southwest and…… Georgia O’Keefe was just as enamored with the flowering plant as I was.  She painted several different versions of it. 

jimson weed 2 by georgia o keefe

Kind of made me feel special to know I shared an artistic eye with someone like Georgia O’ Keefe. jimson weed utah

Other posts………..

Desert Walk

Georgia O’ Keefe Inspired Me

 

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A Great Exhibit – A Great Book- And a Great Coincidence

The next novel in the Books and Brushes series at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.  Our book club meets on November 13 at 11:30. I am leading the session this time and the book that’s been chosen is a perfect fit with our current exhibit The 80s Image.  I have just finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home and already have lots of ideas for ways to connect it with the art on display.  

220px-Tell_The_Wolves_I'm_Home_cover_pageTell the Wolves I’m Home takes place in 1987. Fourteen year old June Elbus has just lost the person she loved most in the world her uncle Finn Weiss who was a famous artist.  Finn died of AIDS something that people don’t really want to talk about in 1987.  

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is filled with intriguing cultural connections.  The musical South Pacific plays a role, as does The Cloisters art museum in New York, the Middle Ages and its literature and art and……….. Mozart’s Requiem.  LestWeForgetPosterv2And by happy coincidence the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir is performing Mozart’s Requiem at the St. Boniface Cathedral on November 11 just two days before the Books and Brushes session on November 13. You can learn more about that performance here. 

AIDS by the art collective General Idea- 1988

So you can go and hear the requiem and then come to the WAG to see pieces in our 80s Images exhibit and talk about the role the art as well as Mozart’s music played in Tell the Wolves I’m Home.

You can register for Books and Brushes here.   Our Books and Brushes program at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is a joint venture with McNally Robinson.  You can buy the book at their Grant Park Store.  Hope to see you on November 13. 

 

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Zion National Park- A Place of Worship

trees zion national parkWhen pioneer Isaac Behunin saw the rock formations in what is now Utah’s Zion National Park in 1863 he is said to have exclaimed “These are the temples of God, built without human hands. You can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any church. ”  He called the place Zion because it is a religious term used to describe a place of worship, refuge and sanctuary. We spent last Sunday in that place of worship.  

tree roots and shadows zion

I loved the gnarled roots of this tree and the design the leaves made on the  path

rainbow zion national park

Rainbow on the rocks on the path to the Emerald Pools

river walk zion national park

On the River Walk hike

mountains zion national park

waterfall zion national park

Water cascading down over our trail

dave zion

zion utah

Other posts……….

Sunday Worship on the Skerwink Trail in Newfoundland

Sunday Morning Worship with Quakers in Costa Rica

Sunday Worship in Quebec City

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And The Moral Of The Story Is?

Along with a group of friends we saw the movie A Star is Born in St. George Utah where we were vacationing. After the film we went to eat supper at a Thai restaurant and chatted a bit about the film. Someone asked  “What do you think was the moral of the film’s story?”

star is bornMy husband quoted a line from the film about the importance of having something to say that other people want to hear.  Could the moral of the film be that the reason we are here on earth is share an important message in a way that will make people listen.  Someone in our group said that in order to do that you need talent. He didn’t think he had the neccesary kind of talent.  

I countered saying everyone has talents but we don’t all cultivate our talents or use them to the best of our ability. The wife of the man who said he had no talents supported me and told her husband just what a talented man he was in many ways. 

So there you have the moral of the film.  

We need to believe we are talented.  We should recognize and cultivate our talents. We need to use our talents to share a message we think is important.  

Other posts…….

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

What If You Could No Longer Do the Thing You Love the Most?

What a Great Dad!

 

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Wife Number 50

young house st. georgeWe toured the winter home of Mormon leader Brigham Young in St. George Utah.  Although our guide informed us Brigham Young only had 16 wives ( he had children with sixteen different women)  Wikipedia records 55 wives and Harriet Amelia Folsom Young is listed as number 50.

amelia and brigham young

Photo of Brigham Young and his wife Harriet Amelia in their winter home in St. George

Harriet Amelia was  twenty-four years old when she married the sixty -one year old leader of the Latter Day Saints.  Harriet Amelia changed her name to Amelia upon her marriage since her husband already had two other wives named Harriet. 

brigham young house st. george

One of our guides shows us the rear of the Birgham Young House in St. George

Amelia was rumored to be Brigham Young’s favorite wife and so it is not surprising  she was the one he chose to have travel south from Salt Lake City with him each winter during the last years of his life when he spent several months in the warmer climate of St. George. amelia's piano brigham young houseOne of our guides at the house showed us Amelia’s piano and told us how musical she was. Our guide said the reason Amelia was chosen as the wife to travel to St. George with her husband was because she was a good nurse and Brigham suffered from multiple ailments in his last years.  Also Amelia was childless so traveling with Brigham didn’t neccesitate her leaving any children behind in Salt Lake City as might have been the case with his other wives.  

dining room brigham young house

The diningroom where Birgham and Amelia entertained guests. The china is embossed with a gold Y.

Apparently Amelia was not only musical, but charming and intelligent and at ease with entertaining guests to the Young home. I wonder how Brigham’s other fifty-four wives felt about the special privileges granted Amelia.  

children's bedroom brigham young house

Brigham Young’s grandchildren slept in this trundle bed when they came to visit

Apparently none of the other wives came to visit in St. George although Brigham’s children and grandchildren did. He is said to have fathered 56 children 46 of whom lived to adulthood.  

brigham young portrait

Portrait of Brigham Young in his office in St. George

We don’t know how many grandchildren he had but apparently The New York Times determined that 25 years after his death Brigham Young had over a thousand descendants. prayer stool brigham youngOur guide told us this was Brigham’s prayer stool beside his and Amelia’s bed.  With a family the size of Brigham’s his knees would have gotten very sore by the time he’d prayed for everyone of them if he’d have been kneeling right on the hard floor. 

During my time in Utah I learned a great deal about the history of the Mormon church and I grew ever more interested in the women of the faith who despite their lack of official power in the church and lack of official recognition at the time, still cultivated their individuality in different ways and contributed greatly to the future of their church and indeed to the future of the state of Utah. 

Other posts……….

It’s His Wives That Impress Me

Hot Wives and Christian Leaders

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Which School Trustee Candidate to Vote For?

I’ve done my research to figure out what city council candidate I should vote for in the upcoming election now it’s time to figure out which school trustee candidate I should support.  It wasn’t really that easy to find out which of the nine Winnipeg wards I live in but thanks to the maps on the Winnipeg 1 school division site I figured out I live in Ward 6. Our former school trustee Cathy Collins isn’t running this time but thanks to the Open Democracy Manitoba website I was able to find out that Rey Sangalang and Jennifer Chen are both candidates. 

jennifer chenJennifer Chen is the mother of two young children who came to Canada in 2009. She wants the voices of all families to be heard at the school board table. Ms. Chen has a masters degree and her thesis focused on the health and well-being of communities. She is active in numerous community organizations. She has been campaigning since August and talking to as many people in our ward as she can to find out what their concerns and hopes and ideas are.

Ms. Chen knows parents would like better gang and drug abuse prevention resources, more support for newcomer and refugee children, safer walks to school, more help for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and after school progamming to keep kids away from negative influences. Jennifer wants to help grow math, literacy and science knowledge for kids and improve their health through more robust physical education programming.

She recognizes the economic, cultural and ethnic diversity of Ward 6. It includes indigenous families whose ancestors have been here for thousands of years as well as refugee families who have just arrived in Canada. She would like to build bridges between the many diverse communities in our ward. She sees her role as a school trustee as an important and long term commitment and believes it is time for some changes in the way school boards operate. Julie takes the campaign seriously.  She has a Facebook page and website that provide important information about her qualifications and policies. 

ray sangalangRey Sangalang is the other trustee candidate in Ward 6.  As of my writing this he had not yet filled out the candidate questionairre on the Winnipeg Election website . He does not have a website of his own where one can easily access information about him.  However when I sent a request for information to the e-mail address on his online poster he quickly responded.  

Rey Sangalang immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 1994 and has three children.  He and his wife are very active in a Catholic Church program called Worldwide Marriage Encounter. They were the Asian coordinators for the program that offers support to couples to strengthen their marriages and family life.  Currently Mr. Sangalang works as a consituency assistant for MLA Flor Marcelino.  He is active in numerous community organizations. 

Mr. Sangalang would like to see more collaboration between parents, students and teachers and advocates involving grandparents in the school community as well. He would like to see an aggressive cultural and physical education program in schools and hopes schools will be welcoming to refugees and immigrants and help them speedily integrate into Canadian culture. He thinks every school should offer early learning and child care services. 

I commend both Mr. Sangalang and Ms. Chen for running for the office of trustee and for the work each has done in the community. I have to say however that Ms. Chen articulates her policies and priorities in a much clearer and more detailed way than her opponent and her academic credentials in a related field are an impressive plus. She is also much more conversant with social media as a way to spread important information. I would also lean towards voting for her because I really believe it is important to have the voices of women  represented in much greater numbers in civic leadership. 
Other posts…….

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A Perfect Last Day in Utah

lunch at coyote gulch art villageSangria loaded with fruit, a frosty beer, perfectly grilled brussels sprouts with mango chutney, super spicy hummus, fresh veggies and piping hot pita triangles. Those items created the best food experience we had during our time in Utah.  We enjoyed it on a sunny patio in the Xetava Gardens Restaurant in the Coyote Gulch Art Village just a few miles from St. George, Utah. 

view of our air b and b in veyo

Our lodging just outside the community of Veyo, Utah

I had really hoped we could go to Bryce Canyon our last day in Utah but it was a six-hour round trip from our unique rented casita high in the hills and we figured that was too much driving  just before we began a long seventeen hour plane journey back to Winnipeg. 

free spirit georgia johnson

Free Spirit by Georgia Johnson

So……….we had a more laid back day in and around St. George and it turned out to be lovely.  After a good breakfast at a restaurant called The Egg and I Dave spent the morning clothes shopping while I explored some of the unique public art in downtown St. George and popped into the local art gallery.  

giant spider by deverin farley

Giant Spider by Deverin Farley

flight time gary lee price

Flight Time by Gary Lee Price

opening 1 by christopher thomson

Opening 1 by Christopher Thomson

Then we were off to explore the Coyote Gulch Art Village in Ivins.  coyote gulch art villageWe strolled through all the shops looking at the work of local artists and enjoying some of the unique outdoor pieces as well.

aimee bonham

Artist Aimee Bonham has created a chalk drawing that makes it look like you are standing on top of a giant rock arch

wind sculptures coyote art village

Dave sits among a collection of wind sculptures by Lyman Whitaker

Then we sat in the sun savoring our delicious lunch for a long while.  It turned out to be one of our nicest days in Utah weather wise. During our ten days in Utah the weather was sometimes warmer in Winnipeg than it was there. 

sign jenny's canyonWe headed next for a leisurely drive through Snow Canyon State Park and stopped to hike the Jenny’s Canyon Trail.  hiking jenny's cayon utah

dave heads into a long narrow cave on the jenny canyon trail

The trail had this long narrow cave you could walk back into

It was so beautiful and we were all alone on the trail. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful and the scenery was spectacular.  

dave at the end of the rock tunnel jenny canyon

Dave at the very back of the rock tunnel

The day before we had hiked at Zion National Park.  Although it is an amazing natural wonder the paths and rest areas and parking lots were jam-packed with people and that made for a very different experience. 

high in jenny canyon

The climb down from Jenny’s Canyon was a little steep so I took my time. Dave of course jogged down and took this picture of me way up top.

The Jenny’s Canyon Trail was just perfect!jenny's canyon

Then we headed home again to our little casita where we drank wine, ate chocolate and watched a compelling if not slightly sad and macabre film on Netflix called The Kindergarten Teacher in which Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a stunning performance. 

We had a lovely last day in Utah. 

Other posts………

Let’s Play Ball

Desert Walk

Ladies Only

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