I was going into a restaurant on Saturday morning for breakfast and saw this sign alerting me to the fact that window washers were working up above. My feminist antenna started quivering when I saw this uninclusive sign. MEN WORKING ABOVE
Perhaps only men were washing windows that day, but I wondered if there were no women who were window washers. I decided to do a little research. On the Window Cleaning Resource Site, I read the story of a woman window washer who has built herself a client base of 400 in just a few years. She says there are many more males than females in the window washing business but declares, “who says we can’t clean windows just as well as men?”
I found the Lambert-Mountian Powerwashing Glass Company in Rhode Island that said “We are an equal opportunity employer! We also believe in equal PAY!” That message was captioning the picture above.
Where Are The Women?
Women Were Honored? Think Again
Saturday night when we came home around midnight after our Fringe Festival show we saw all these bleachers up and down our street draped with American flag style bunting. The next morning when we went outside to go to church there were American flags flying on every light standard and pole in the neighborhood. American flags were plastered on billboards, hydro boxes, and buildings. What was going on? Had the Americans invaded Canada? Considering the wacky president who currently resides in the White House even the most unbelievable scenarios can seem possible. No, an American invasion hadn’t happened overnight. Instead, we discovered that some parade scenes from an American movie called Flag Day were being shot in our neighborhood. The film stars and is directed by two- time Oscar-winner Sean Penn. Two of Sean’s children also have roles in the production which is based on the book Flim Flam Man a true story of a girl who finds out her father is a bank robber and career counterfeiter. Maybe I should have stayed outside all day to wait for a glimpse of Sean Penn but I had other things to do. The Winnipeg Exchange District is a popular location for movie makers. I’ve jokingly told people we live in the middle of a movie set. And sometimes, like yesterday, it certainly feels like that.
I Live in A Movie Set
In the Middle of a Movie Set
Winnipeg in the Movies
Filed under Movies, Winnipeg
“What a waste of money for something so few people use.” I was coming home from the Winnipeg airport in a cab in May and my driver was complaining about the bike lanes in the Exchange District where I live. He thinks they slow down traffic and are a waste of taxpayer money since so few people cycle. I love the bike lanes because they make me feel so much safer while biking in the city.
This past week Dave and I did a morning cycling trip to train for our upcoming bike holiday in Croatia. We saw lots of bikers. I started to count all the cyclists that passed us but couldn’t keep up. As we exited the Forks I stopped to take a snapshot of this sign. It keeps track of daily and annual cyclists that pass that point. It was only nine in the morning and already more than a hundred cyclists had whizzed by that location.
I found a 2018 survey that said about 20% of Winnipegers ride their bikes either every day or several times a week in summer. Perhaps bike lanes aren’t worth it for such a small percentage of the population but perhaps the number of bikers will increase as the number of bike lanes increase.
I walked by the bike security area for the Fringe Festival one morning last week on my way to the gym. It was just before noon on a weekday and already plenty of people had brought their bikes downtown to take in a Fringe play. A volunteer was watching their bikes in a secure area to prevent theft. A quick count revealed some sixty bikes and I thought about how that meant sixty less cars downtown needing to find a parking space. Later I saw another hundred or so bikes locked up near Old Market Square and thought about the reduction of downtown traffic they represented.
I’d like to see more Winnipegers using their bikes. I know there are downsides to bike travel- chance of theft, short-season weather-wise, lack of bike lanes in some areas and the chance of accidents but there are also upsides- physical fitness, better for the environment, save parking costs and an opportunity for socializing.
Let’s cycle Winnipeg!
Exercise is a Celebration
Biking in Switzerland and Germany
Biking the Beach in Costa Rica
Filed under Sports, Winnipeg
The Overstory by Richard Powers is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel but truth be told I wouldn’t have awarded it any kind of literary prize. The book is about a group of nine characters who all come to care deeply about understanding and saving the world’s trees.
The book reminded me a bit of The Goldfinch another Pulitzer Prize winner. Both books start out wonderfully by setting up intriguing plot possibilities with interesting characters. I was completely drawn in. Then both descend into a kind of reading black hole where the characters do crazy things that are often completely unrealistic and frankly leave you frustrated when they go on and on and on. In both books I found myself plowing through the middle section. And finally, the conclusion of each book fails to satisfy. After sticking doggedly with your characters through all that trauma and mythical mess surely there will be some sort of happiness or hopefulness for them in the end. Sorry. No such luck.
Certainly, I learned a whole lot of fascinating stuff about trees from reading The Overstory but some of the information was delivered lecture-style when there would have been, in my opinion at least, more interesting ways of giving us the same information.
The book is a bit like Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, another novel about the importance of saving the environment, where you are also introduced to a group of seemingly disparate characters at the beginning of the book and then you wonder how they will all weave their way into one story. Barbara, however, has only three main characters in Prodigal Summer. Richard Powers might have stuck to fewer characters as well. The storylines of three of Richard’s nine main protagonists never really merge with the story of the other six.
I wanted to like this book. A friend had recommended it. I had heard a glowing review on the radio. It won the Pulitzer Prize. I love trees and that is what this book is all about.
Hugging a redwood tree in Yalta Ukraine. I love trees but I didn’t love The Overstory a Pulitzer Prize winning book about trees.
But honestly, I didn’t like The Overstory. I’d love to hear from other people who have read the book. What did you think?
The Religion of Trees
Up in the Trees With A Man Who Knew it All
Edge of the Trees
Filed under Books, Nature
On a visit to the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach, this display depicting a raid by bandits on a Mennonite home in Ukraine in the 1920s reminded me of some stories in a family history compiled by my husband’s cousin John Braun. He talks about two times when a bandit named Makhno and his men visited the home of my husband’s grandparents Abram and Margaretha Driedger in Schoenfeld.
This is the blended Driedger/Cornies family. Abram is third from the left in the back row and his stepfather Johann is in the middle with Abram’s mother Katherina Warkentin Driedger Cornies.
On one occasion Abram was about to be executed by Makhno’s men but one of them had worked as a farm laborer for Abram’s stepfather Johann Cornies and told the others not to shoot Abram because Johann had treated him fairly and kindly.
Abram to the right and his brother in Moscow during World War I where they served as medics a few years before the bandit raids took place
Another time the bandits came into the house and one of them demanded that Abram take off his shoes and give them to him. Abram was angry about giving up his good shoes but since he was at gunpoint he took them off and threw them on the ground in front of the man. Margaretha, my husband’s grandmother could see the bandit’s temper rising so she quickly hurried over, picked up the shoes and handed them contritely to him. After that, the bandits left.
Margaretha and Abram and their children Agatha and Cornelius just before leaving Ukraine for Canada.
It wouldn’t be long before the constant threat of bandit raids would force Abram and Margaretha to flee Schoenfeld for a safer home in Tiege, then to take refuge with Margaretha’s parents in Petershagen and eventually to emigrate to Canada.
My Father-in-Law’s Birthplace
Sand and Salvation
Filed under Family, History
On Saturday night our friends Jan and Mitch hosted a Prosetry evening on the waterfront of their beautiful Jessica Lake cottage. Prosetry is a mixture of prose and poetry and that’s what was on the menu for our literary evening by the shore. Guests were invited to share something they had written be it music lyrics, poems, short stories or essays. We had all brought along our munchies, beverages of choice and lawn chairs and we settled in around a fire that provided warmth as the evening air chilled. The view was magnificent. Our friend Mitch, who has devoted much of his time during his retirement to penning short stories which he has published widely, opened the evening welcoming us all there. Our friend Don read some wonderful poems. I’d heard Don read his comedic essays before, but these poems were something completely different. I found them touching and insightful. Our friend Hans is a prolific blogger and I have learned a great deal from his instructional online meanderings. But on this evening he shared an essay he’d written on how passions can enrich our lives. He talked about his own passions as well as those of people he has met, including one man whose passion is the study of moths. It was so inspiring. Appropriately for the evening, my husband Dave had written a song about the joys and sorrows of being a writer. As usual Dave’s humor and rich bass voice engaged his audience. Although I am primarily a newspaper columnist, magazine article writer, and blogger I too strayed from my usual writing genre and shared a short story I had written loosely based on several incidents from the 60s that happened at our own family’s lakeside cottage. Our friend Mitch read a poignant and beautifully written story about a man who fashions a toboggan race course for his young son. Other folks took to the mike to share poems and stories sent to Mitch by writers he has connected with online. My two favorites were the reflections of a 104-year-old woman on her birthday read thoughtfully and engagingly by my friend Irene and a poem about a gooseberry that my friend Chris read in a most sultry and suggestive way. Some people had to leave early for their drive back to the city but since Dave and I were staying the night at the cottage we were part of the group that gathered around the fire for conversation. We were serenaded by John who had a cadre of songs in his repertoire that kept us entertained in the moonlight. There are already rumors of a similar evening happening next year. Maybe you’d like to be part of it.
Writers All Around
A Carol for the Sunrise
Reading Aloud to Teens
I had so much fun last night at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. My husband Dave was working as a volunteer so I decided to strike out on my own. The first play I chose was Juliet’s Revenge at the Kings Head Pub. Luckily I’d headed over early to get my ticket because it quickly sold out. When I walked in the door I was surprised to see my cousin Lynne and her husband Rod were also in attendance. I sat with them, and Rod, the consummate gentleman that he is, quickly bought me a glass of white wine and then invited me to help them eat a delicious plate of nachos. So I was in a pretty good mood before the play even started!
But oh my word Juliet’s Revenge was so funny and entertaining. My cousin and I were laughing out loud. Have you ever wondered why William Shakespeare killed off so many of his female heroines by having them commit suicide? Cleopatra, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia? Well, the Shakespearean women are out to get revenge on the bard and rewrite their stories with different endings and they do so in the most comedic and delightful way!! Actress Carly Pokoradi was astounding as she jumped back and forth between the no-nonsense persona of Lady Macbeth, the sweet flighty Ophelia, and the regal Cleopatra.
Pippa Mackie played Juliet and her face during the bedroom scene with Romeo told a whole story in itself without her uttering a word. Lady Macbeth and Juliet mimed rowing a boat together as they tried to save Ophelia from drowning and we sat in awe at their physical comedic abilities. They got the audience involved at a couple points too. When the women were chasing around the theatre looking for William Shakespeare I suddenly heard Lady Macbeth’s Scottish brogue in my ear asking me if I knew where he had gone. I pointed to the stage where William was brandishing his book of plays.
If you get a chance to see Juliet’s Revenge by all means go. It’s great!
The second play I saw which also sold out was I Lost on Jeopardy. I had read the article in the Winnipeg Free Press about George Buri the Winnipeg history professor who against all odds made it on to the game show and then lost on the Final Jeopardy question. George has written a one-man show in which he describes his Jeopardy experience in an interesting and entertaining fashion. One of my favorite parts was where he demonstrates how he practiced quick action on the Jeopardy buzzer using a toilet paper roll dispenser.
George wraps up his performance by telling us a little bit about his fellow contestants and sharing the important life lessons he gleaned from his failure to win on Jeopardy. I Lost on Jeopardy was a solid hour of entertainment. George Buri, history professor turned actor, lets you know that putting on a Fringe play, like being on Jeopardy, is one of the risks he’s taken to make his life hope-filled and meaningful. His play encourages us to follow suit.
I had a fabulous Sunday night at The Fringe and look forward to seeing more great plays during the coming week.
A Dedicated Fringe Volunteer
Oh To Be A Kid At The Fringe Festival
Take It Easy But Take It