Monthly Archives: August 2019

Supporting Each Other

On one of my trips to Malaysia, I noticed these two elderly women strolling along the beach in Kota Kinabalu. They held my attention for a long time. They both were very tentative about walking in the ocean, carefully putting one foot in front of the other in the sand and holding hands for support. They seemed to be enjoying each other’s company, their lovely surroundings and the beautiful day so much. It made me hope  I will have supportive companions in my old age so I can continue to enjoy new experiences. 

Other posts………


A Realistic Look At Aging

Growing Old is Not for Cowards

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Filed under Borneo

Go To The Park!

With my parents and my sister in Assiniboine Park in the 1950s

The Washington Post reported this week that researchers at the University of Vermont have discovered visiting a park can improve your mood and give you a jolt of happiness much like the one kids receive on Christmas morning. Cranky folks who live in the city will be cheered by spending time in a public park.

With my husband Dave in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

That increased positivity will stay with them for several hours after the visit.  The larger and/or greener the park the greater its benefits.

With my daughter-in-law in Point Pelee National Park in Ontario

One of the authors of the research findings says it is definitely true that there is something restorative about being out in nature.

In a park in Taiwan with my cousin Dirk

The great outdoors has something you can’t buy at a store or download onto your screen.  

In Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland

In the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Park in Costa Rica

In Sai Kung County Park in Hong Kong

Looking for tigers in Ranthambore National Park in India

With the guide who took us on a tour in the Whiteshell Provincial Park

Skiing with my family in Banff National Park Albert

With my friends in Assiniboine Park Winnipeg

On a park bench in Savannah Georgia

At the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park

Other posts………

Living Beings Just Like Us?

An Ancient Sacred Site

Thin Places

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Filed under Nature

What’s a Fingerling?

Last week I was introduced to Fingerlings.  The child who taught me all about Fingerlings has a dragon, but the popular toy also comes as a monkey, sloth, panda, cat, dolphin, and unicorn.  Fingerlings are really kind of cool because they react in some forty ways. Rock them and their eyes close. Turn them upside down and they laugh. Pet them and they coo and blink their eyes. Clap your hands and they sing. They will grab onto your finger too which may be how they got their name. 

fingerlingCreated by a Canadian family-run business in Montreal just in time for Christmas 2017 the battery-operated creatures have received the Good Housekeeping seal of approval as a safe and creative toy for kids over the age of five. It certainly seemed the source of plenty of imaginative interaction and play for the child I observed with it. 

How the Fingerling was developed is interesting. 28-year-old Sydney Wiseman, a brand manager for WowWee, a company run by her uncles, came up with the idea after seeing a popular photo on Facebook of a furry little monkey called a pygmy marmoset hanging on someone’s finger.

An artist spent weeks creating the original drawings for the toy and then engineers spent months designing the workings of the Fingerling which is really a rather sophisticated kind of mini-robot with a motion sensor, software to block out background noise and a microphone.

To keep the price point low, the toys were manufactured in China. WowWee used an interesting method to release Fingerlings to the public in August of 2017.  They hired people with popular YouTube channels or large Instagram followings to feature Fingerlings on one of their videos or posts. These went viral and by Christmas, WowWee was hiring planes to get their product to stores on time for holiday shoppers.  They have since opened a third factory in China to make the toy. 

Our son with his Cabbage Patch doll in the 80s.

The Fingerling reminds me of the pet rocks of the 70s, the Cabbage Patch dolls of the 80s, the Beanie Babies of the 90s, and the Zhu Zhu pets of the 2000s.  We are approaching the beginning of a new decade.  I wonder what the cute, loveable toy of the 2020s will be. 

Other posts………….

What in the World is a Fidget? 

Dorothy’s Room

Inuit Games


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Filed under Childhood

Does Your City Need A Butt Blitz?

Did you know that cigarette butts are responsible for around 40% of the litter in the Canadian cities? A recent CBC story describes a campaign the city of Hamilton has started to try to encourage smokers to discard their cigarette butts properly. New garbage receptacles with eye-catching designs placed in many strategic spots will hopefully mean more cigarettes get tossed into them rather than tossed onto roadways, sidewalks, and flowerbeds. Hamilton also hosted a ‘butt blitz’ this past April where volunteers combed the city picking up discarded cigarette butts. I think we might need a butt blitz here in Winnipeg too. Yesterday morning we went to a friendly coffee shop we like to frequent. Just before going inside I noticed all these cigarette butts near the curb in the coffee shop parking lot.  Yuck!  Not exactly the thing to whet your appetite for the tasty baking inside the coffee shop. When we got back home I photographed a couple of reminders like this in the flower beds outside our condo. The beds are planted and lovingly tended by a volunteer gardener in our building. She has had to pick endless cigarette butts out of the flower beds so each one is now adorned with one of these signs she has made.  

Not only are the butts unsightly they contain plastics that are not biodegradable and their chemicals can be harmful to birds who pick them up and ingest them, and also to marine life when the chemicals from the cigarettes seep into waterways. 

When I visited Lisbon a couple of years ago I thought it was terrible the way cigarette butts lined the beautiful cobblestone designs of the streets.  But we have a cigarette littering problem right here in Canada too and right here in Winnipeg.  There are laws against littering but they don’t seem to be working when it comes to cigarette butts. Perhaps Winnipeg can follow Hamilton’s lead and find ways to get cigarette litter out of our public places. 

Other posts………

Too Much Smoking

Cleaning Up My Neighborhood

Sitting is the New Smoking


Filed under Health, Nature, Winnipeg

My Polio Vaccines

One of the interesting things I found while helping my father downsize for a move was this copy of my polio vaccinations.  

Currently, children are vaccinated for polio four times spread out from the time they are eight weeks old till they are four years old.  

So why did I receive only three vaccinations and all within a few months of each other in 1957 when I turned four?

Dr Jonas Salk administering a vaccine

That’s because the polio vaccine was only discovered by Jonas Salk in 1953, the year I was born.  The vaccine needed to be tested and it was only in April of 1955 that the government approved the administration of the vaccination to all six to nine-year-olds. I wasn’t old enough to get it then.

Between 1949 and 1954 nearly 11,000 people in Canada were left paralyzed by polio. In 1953, the year I was born there were nearly 9,000 cases and some 500 deaths in Canada.

People with polio in iron lungs

The incidence of polio in Winnipeg in 1953 set a world record.  Close to a hundred people in the city were in iron lungs because their breathing muscles were paralyzed. The 1953 epidemic was the most serious the country had experienced since the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918. 

By 1956 it was clear children who had received the polio vaccine in 1955 were much less likely to get polio or experience paralysis than those who hadn’t been vaccinated.  Although not every province decided to go ahead with vaccinating more children, thankfully the province of Manitoba did as the official notice above indicates.

Photo from the Manitoba archives showing St. Matthews Church where I had my vaccinations

That’s why in 1957 at age four I received the potentially life-saving vaccine. My mother had to take me to the St. Matthew’s Church in Winnipeg for the shots.

This photo was taken at Easter in 1957 the year my sister and I had our first polio vaccinations

I am sure my sister who was sixteen months younger was also vaccinated.

I just read recently that thanks largely to the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation polio is now on the verge of being eradicated throughout the world. 

Other posts…….

The Pandemic Story Behind A 105-Year-Old Photo

Vaccinations Aren’t Just For Babies




Filed under Childhood, Family, Health, Winnipeg

5 Things I Believe About Children

I will attend a professional development session this afternoon related to my job as a university education faculty advisor. To prepare I’ve been asked to write a list of beliefs I have about children.  Deciding what to include in my list was quite a bit harder than I thought, but after plenty of consideration here is what I came up with.

Children at a school I visited in Vietnam

  1. I believe all children are unique and their individuality must be acknowledged and respected.

    Dave and me with our older son

  2. I believe all children are entitled to love, a safe and secure home, a quality education and the physical necessities of life.

    My husband Dave with the basketball team he coached at a school on the Hopi Nation in Arizona

  3. I believe all children have potential and deserve an opportunity to develop that potential

    My husband Dave with kids he taught in Jamaica

  4. I believe adults have much to learn from children.

    With my first class of students in 1974

  5. I believe children are our future and investing heavily in their health, education and well being is of benefit to all of society. 

I’d love to know one thing you believe about children. 

Other posts………..

Meeting the Street Children of Dehli

What’s an Amauti

I’m Glad My Taxes Are Paying For This


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Filed under Childhood, Education

Two Poets on Prayer

Small stones I photographed at The Arches in Newfoundland

It  doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

― Mary Oliver from the poem Praying

Wicker basket of oranges I photographed in a shop in Lisbon

I pick an orange from a wicker basket
and place it on the table
to represent the sun.
Then down at the other end
a blue and white marble
becomes the earth
and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin.

I get a glass from a cabinet,
open a bottle of wine,
then I sit in a ladder-back chair,
a benevolent god presiding
over a miniature creation myth,

and I begin to sing
a homemade canticle of thanks
for this perfect little arrangement,
for not making the earth too hot or cold
not making it spin too fast or slow

so that the grove of orange trees
and the owl become possible,
not to mention the rolling wave,
the play of clouds, geese in flight,
and the Z of lightning on a dark lake.

Then I fill my glass again
and give thanks for the trout,
the oak, and the yellow feather,

singing the room full of shadows,
as sun and earth and moon
circle one another in their impeccable orbits
and I get more and more cockeyed with gratitude.

– Billy Collins from As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse

Other posts……….

Artist’s Prayer

Prayer for a Golf Tournament

A Prayer for the New Year

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Filed under Poetry, Religion

What Are People Saying?

It has been almost seven months since I have done a post cataloging responses I’ve received on my blog. So here are some that might be of interest. Mary who is one of my most faithful blog readers was intrigued by my post on Warli art.  She used the technique to make a birthday card for her grandson. 

Probably my most popular post in the last while is the one I did about my husband transporting a pineapple crisp on the back of his bicycle.  My great-niece Isabella and her grandma, my sister-in-law Shirley, told me that after they read the post about the pineapple crisp they were inspired to make a peach crisp.  My Auntie Mildred read the post about my grandmother’s honeymoon journal and told me she remembered my grandparents as wonderful, sweet people who were such fun. 

When I did a post about A Men Working sign wondering why it didn’t include women, my friend Millie said it was because women don’t need a sign to let people know when they are working. 

My post about Thin Places prompted a blog reader named Dean to write that his thin place is Tsawwassen British Columbia. 

My cousin-in-law Joanne could identify with the post about my Dad and my aunt spending time together.  She said she and her three sisters are very close.  They get together all the time and help and support one another. 

My former colleague Perry who lives in Halifax now liked my post about Peanut Park in Winnipeg. When he and his wife were first married they lived right across from the park. 

I got quite a few responses to my post on the word Yeet.’  My friend Jennifer who lives in Hong Kong said her pre-teen has been using the word and she’s glad now she knows what it means. A former teaching colleague said she had learned the word from her students.  An art gallery colleague who considers herself a linguist said she was surprised she’d never heard the word.  My friend Heather said her teenagers just roll their eyes when she tries to use ‘yeet.’

Billboard created by a woman’s rights group in the Niagara area of Ontario

Probably no post in recent months had as many likes and shares and comments as the one I wrote called Pro-Life or Anti Woman.  Abortion is clearly a topic that people feel very strongly about. Interestingly that post led to me meeting with a woman who identifies as being pro-life and we talked about all the things we had in common. I wrote a post about that too. 

My post about Miriam Toews and her relationship with her hometown received plenty of responses and was shared on many different sites. One Facebook responder suggested we put up a sign in Steinbach honoring Miriam Toews, but writer Armin Wiebe reminded him that it took ten years after Margaret Laurence’s death for her hometown of Neepawa to honor her in any way. 

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog and especially those readers who take the time to write comments.  I appreciate them all. 


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Filed under Writing

Good News- Part 7

Orca whale photographed on our kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait British Columbia

Did you know that it is no longer legal to keep whales and dolphins in captivity in Canada?
It’s true.

All Good News Posts

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Filed under good news, Nature

5 Reasons Why I Liked The Movie The Art of Racing In the Rain

1. The movie is based on the best selling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. My husband and I read the novel with a book club we belonged to in Hong Kong. The film brought back good memories of having a lively time discussing the story with a great group of book lovers.

2. We saw The Art of Racing in the Rain on our anniversary with friends after a delicious meal, a glass of wine and some lovely conversation.  I was in a good mood and this charming easy to watch film fit the bill for the evening perfectly.

3. I liked the metaphor of racing in the rain. One of the main characters in the movie is a race car driver and he specializes in racing in wet conditions.  He needs patience and strength and courage to drive on a wet track and he needs those same characteristics, as we all do, for driving through the storms in his personal life.  

4. I loved the Jack Pearson character in the TV series This is Us and the main character in The Art of Racing in the Rain is played by the same actor the handsome Milo Ventimiglla. His character here is much like the Jack Pearson one. He is a man who loves his family devotedly and has a romantic heart.

5. This movie has a dog as its narrator.  I am not really a dog person but despite that, I was quite drawn to the loyal and loveable Enzo whose voice is provided by actor Kevin Costner.  His voice was perfect for the part. 

Other posts…………

Coop the Great

Fifteen Dogs and Writing Caradec Poetry

Between Dog and Wolf



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Filed under Movies