Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Harte Trail- Getting Ready For Croatia

On Monday I did another training ride for my Croatia bike trip.  I shared the middle section of a 35 km. ride with my friend Gabe.  She is training for a bike trip of her own in the Baltic at the end of August.  Gabe introduced me to the beautiful Harte Trail. I wondered how the trail, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail got its name.  I discovered the Harte Line was the first section of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway built in western Canada in 1894.  The Harte Trail runs through the forest on the old railway bed. We had the perfect day for cycling, sunny but with a steady breeze to keep us cool. The trail is gorgeous and there is wildlife to enjoy. Gabe and I ended our time on the trail with a picnic in Assiniboine Park. Besides training runs, I am preparing for our bike trip by reading books set in Croatia. The book I am currently reading is  Girl at War by Sara Novic.  I am also continuing to learn new facts about the country each week.  I have learned that………The iris is the national flower of Croatia. Croatia is famous for its strudel called savijaca. It has apples, curd cheese and other delicious things inside. Croatia holds the record for the longest strudel ever baked in the world.

Photo by Andrej Šalov from Wiki Commons

In the city of Zadar which is along the route we will drive before starting our bike trip there is a sea organ. It is an architectural sound object, a kind of experimental instrument that creates music using sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps.  This was part of a project by architect Nikola Basic to reconstruct the broken concrete wall along the sea after it was damaged during World War II.

Other posts…..

 Gearing Up For Croatia

Lots of Cyclists


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Filed under Croatia, Nature, Sports

Men Only?

 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. 

In the Sixth Tone magazine, I read a story about Quan Minmin, a high rise window washer in China. 
And finally, I found this logo for a company in Sydney Australia that features female window washers. It may be possible that there are no female window washers in Winnipeg but there certainly are female window washers in other places. Why couldn’t the sign have said WINDOW WASHERS WORKING ABOVE or simply WORKERS ABOVE? Let’s not imply that women are excluded from any profession.  If you know a female window washer in Winnipeg I’d love to hear about her. 

Other posts………

Where Are The Women?

Women Soldiers

Women Were Honored?  Think Again


Filed under Winnipeg

An American Invasion?

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.  sean penn wiki commonsMaybe 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.  

Other posts……..

I Live in A Movie Set

In the Middle of a Movie Set

Winnipeg in the Movies

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Filed under Movies, Winnipeg

Good News- Part 6

It’s true. 

Other good news stories here. 

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Filed under good news, Health

Lots of Cyclists

“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!

Other posts………..

Exercise is a Celebration

Biking in Switzerland and Germany

Biking the Beach in Costa Rica

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Filed under Sports, Winnipeg

The Overstory- I Know It Won a Pulitzer Prize But………….

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? 

Other posts……..

The Religion of Trees

Up in the Trees With A Man Who Knew it All

Edge of the Trees

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Filed under Books, Nature

A Visit from Makhno

On a recent 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. 

Other posts……….

Family Picture

My Father-in-Law’s Birthplace

Sand and Salvation


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Filed under Family, History