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 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

An Ancient Sacred Site- Do You Know What Petroforms Are?

We spent Saturday night at our friends’ Jan and Mitch’s cottage at Jessica Lake. Sunday morning we headed out to Bannock Point with them to take a guided tour of a petroform site estimated to be around two thousand years old. We were surprised when our friends from church Carol and Vern and Marge and John showed up. They have a cottage at a nearby Brereton Lake and Marge was the one who told me about the Bannock Point tour. Our guide Adam said the Anishinabe people still consider the site a sacred one and continue to hold ceremonies there. He asked that we treat the site with the same kind of respect we would afford any place of worship. Our first stop was at a rock where people leave offerings of shells, bundles of tobacco, sweetgrass and many other things as a way to pay tribute to the spirits while coming and going from the site. Adam had brought along some tobacco for us to sprinkle on the offering rock if we wanted to. We saw many prayer ties in the trees. Adam told us the colorful pieces of material tied to the branches represented people’s prayers.  At the end of the season, an Anishinabe elder collects them and burns them sending the prayers they represent to the creator spirit.  

Petroforms are features formed by the careful placement of stones to create the outlines of figures or shapes.  The first kind of form we looked at was called a power line. Adam suggested it might represent a story or a song with each stone a chapter or verse.  It might also symbolize a person’s life with each stone representing an important event in that life. Our next stop was at a turtle formation.  Adam told us the familiar Anishinabe creation story about Turtle Island but he also said the turtle formation served a practical purpose since the head of the turtle pointed to the nearest lake.  Following the head of this turtle formation would lead you straight to Heart Lake. Snake formations, like this one, provide directions to rivers and this one’s head points to the Whiteshell River which would have been the route people used to visit this site before the highways into the Whiteshell were built as a ‘make work’ project for unemployed men during the Great Depression. This formation is a woman giving birth to a child. Adam told us that sometimes the stones in a formation can be moved by animals or weather elements and also by vandals who might visit the site. Anishinabe elders are consulted about whether to replace the rocks in their original positions or not. Ceremonies are still held regularly at the Bannock Point site including ceremonies for murdered and missing indigenous women.  This red dress has become a symbol of the movement which tries to find a measure of justice and peace for the families who have experienced this grief. Although Adam had told us not to touch the rocks he said we could touch this Grandmother Rock. Many people come to this rock to pray. Adam also showed us some of the newer petroforms like this medicine wheel with arms pointing in all four directions. Our last stop was this more secluded spot. Adam said there are those who believe ‘little people’ live here. They come out at night to fix any of the petroforms that may have been disturbed.“Those granite rocks are billions of years old,” Adam told my friend Marge as she posed atop one of them. 

I was so glad Marge had told me about this interesting site, a great place to learn more about the religion and culture of the Anishinabe people who came to the Whiteshell long before we cottagers and vacationers discovered it.  

Other posts………..

Zion National Park- A Place of Worship

Aboriginal Spirituality

Giants Elves and Jules Verne



Filed under Canada, Nature, Religion


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. 

Other posts………

Writers All Around

A Carol for the Sunrise

Reading Aloud to Teens


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Filed under Writing

What a Fun Night!

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. 

Other posts…………

A Dedicated Fringe Volunteer

Oh To Be A Kid At The Fringe Festival

Take It Easy But Take It


Filed under Theatre, Winnipeg