Monthly Archives: April 2020

Missing Hugs, Opening Up and Hoping McNally’s Survives

Yesterday afternoon my son sent us absolutely the cutest photo ever of our one-year-old granddaughter outside in the playhouse in their backyard. She had been napping during an earlier FaceTime call with our grandsons, who caught us up on all the news. We heard about the ham and cheese croissants they were having for lunch, family discussions about possibly getting a pet, new sand being put in their sandbox, an online grade two math lesson from school about money, all the birds and insects seen in their backyard, movies watched, yard work done, books read, and bike riding. After the delightful call, I wondered aloud when I would ever be able to hug my grandchildren again. 

My Dad with two of this grandsons 

Turns out the Swiss government has actually issued an official proclamation about that. Yesterday they gave permission for children under ten to hug their grandparents. Swiss scientists claim there is little chance children that young can spread the virus and they think the emotional lift both generations will receive from some brief physical contact outweighs the risks.

My husband’s parents surrounded by their grandchildren. Hopefully, photos like this where grandparents have close physical contact with their grandkids won’t become something that only happened in the past

Officials from the World Health Organization, however, were less affirming. Cautionary notes also came from scientific experts in other European countries. They say we still don’t know enough about how the coronavirus impacts children or how they may spread the disease to declare hugging or close contact between the generations safe.  

I’m missing hugs from my friends

In a phone call with a friend in the evening, we talked about how both she and I love to give hugs. Aside from hugging our husbands, we haven’t hugged other people for months now and we miss that human contact. 

My husband Dave is sure happy about golf courses opening-up

Big excitement here in Manitoba with the government declaring all kinds of things can open up next week. Beginning on May 4 golf courses, hairdressers, daycares, restaurant patios, museums, playgrounds, galleries, libraries, campgrounds, dentist and physiotherapy offices, and some non-essential retail businesses will reopen but with strict physical distancing rules and other health regulations regarding sanitizing and cleaning in place.

Kids can go back to playgrounds

While making these announcements our premier reminded us however that the coronavirus remains a “nefarious, sneaky and dangerous” foe and so we will all need to remain on guard and follow rules and regulations.  If the number of cases rises again some of our new freedoms may be rolled back.  We should be rightly proud of Manitobans who have ‘flattened the curve’ here by taking social distancing seriously. 

I think it may take me a bit of time to feel safe enough to venture past the comfort zone of our current isolation, but it is nice to think about things getting a little closer to normal once again.

I went to pick up some books yesterday at McNally Robinson, a wonderful independent book shop here in Winnipeg.  The last time I went to the store there was only one chair out front on which to place customer’s orders for pick up.  Now there were five, a good indication that business is doing well.  In fact, the bookshop sent out a notice last week that you may have to wait for a bit to have your e-mail orders filled because their employees are so busy.  Phone orders and curbside pick up can be arranged within the hour though.

My friend Jodi signs books for her friends after the launch of her novel Family of Spies in McNally’s lovely, sunny atrium

I love McNally’s where my writers’ group meets, where I attend book launches, enjoy great meals in the restaurant, shop for gifts and attend interesting sessions in their community classroom.

With my friends taking a course about chocolate in McNally’s community classroom

I really want this business to survive the pandemic.

Other posts………..


Family of Spies

Grandparents Who Were Readers

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Maple Seeds, The Next Toilet Paper and Two Sobering Reads

Every time we go one of our cycling trips we find some piece of fascinating public art in Winnipeg we haven’t ever noticed before. The other day it was this unique Maple Seed sculpture on the grounds of St. Boniface College. It was created by Madeleine Vrignon and is made up of 150 stainless steel maple seeds that look like they are twirling in the wind. It was installed in 2017 as part of the celebrations for the 150 anniversary of St. Boniface College. The artist says the learning that goes on at the college scatters like seeds in the wind to create new things in many different places across Canada and the world. A poem has been included on one of the seeds………. Soaring on the breath of life…….winged seeds of knowledge whisper as they lift.. my tomorrows await

I’ve started a new 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle I got from my sister that is really a challenge! I only manage to get a small section of it done each day. It is going to take me quite a while to finish it.  

I find working on puzzles very calming during our current unsettling situation and apparently I’m not the only one.  According to an NPR article Ravensburger, one of the biggest names in the puzzle business reports their monthly sales are up by 370% from the same time period last year. In a CBC story on puzzles, Dave Manga owner of a British Columbia company that manufactures the popular Cobble Hill puzzles says puzzles are “almost like the next toilet paper.”  Apparently, there has been a worldwide surge in demand and many businesses are having trouble keeping up. I just finished the book Bloom by Kenneth Oppel.  It’s a teen novel about three kids who attend the same high school on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Deadly plants are at the root of a global crisis and Anaya, Seth and Petra,  seem to be the only ones unaffected by the creeping terror. Bloom was released in February of 2020 and so there is no way author Kenneth Oppel could have known about the deadly virus that was going to terrorize our world when he wrote the book.  Discussing it with my book club last night we all said that reading the dystopian novel during the current pandemic had a big influence on how we experienced the story.  At another time the plot might have seemed unrealistic.  Not now. 

We heard Yascha Mounk speak at a conference on American Citizenship at Arizona State University.

In February Dave and I went to a lecture by author and John Hopkins professor Yascha Mounk.   His latest article in The Atlantic about COVID-19 is not very hope-inspiring.  Previously he had three reasons for being optimistic about a fairly timely way to reach the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Now all those hopes have been dashed.  

First of all, it remains clear from ongoing research being done that COVID-19 is too deadly to just let it rip through the population and we can’t be completely certain that would even create herd immunity. Secondly, none of the potential treatments for COVID-19 has proven effective so far, and finally, most governments have not stepped up to the plate to provide the level of testing required to reopen society. Mounk has titled his article Stop Waiting For A Miracle. It is a sobering read. 

Other posts……….

Is Marriage A Good Thing For Women?  

Living in an Art Gallery

Do You Believe In Miracles? 

A Zombie Apocalypse



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Apple Pie, Comic Stories and Fresh Air in a Time of COVID-19

The getaway car just after delivering some pie to our condo doorstep

Yesterday morning our friends Jim and Bonny provided curbside drop off of two pieces of scrumptious apple pie.

This card came with the pie. You can tell our friend Jim is artistic and has a sense of humour as well. Check out his various designs for the coronavirus and his message not to drink Clorox

Then Bonny and Jim were off to do similar drop-offs at the homes of three other couples who are all part of a small group of friends that formed because of a church connection nearly two decades ago.

Some of our small group at one of our get-togethers last year

Many changes have happened in the meantime, but we are still gathering regularly. 

Dave and I are ready to zoom. 

We had a Zoom meeting set up for last night and Jim decided to bake a pie and deliver pieces to the other four households so we could all be eating apple pie as we visited. All ten of us managed to get on Zoom for a nice long conversation. 

Our group some 15 years ago at a lakeside cottage

Jim’s pie was fabulous as was the chance to be together with long time friends even though it was done virtually.

As my regular blog readers know one of my isolation projects is working my way through the lessons in the Lynda Barry book Making Comics.  My assignment last week was to take a character I had created the week before and have them star in a four-section comic. So I took Opal the Opera singer and did a little story of her swallowing a fly. I also used my character Henry the Hairdresser to tell a story about getting a COVID haircut.

Our book club in Hong Kong. Our friend Leigh who is eating peach cobbler rather than holding a book lives in Lima Peru now

A friend, former colleague and fellow book club member living in Lima, Peru posted on Facebook yesterday that even though it hasn’t been officially sanctioned yet parents are starting to take their children outside on playgrounds for short periods of time. She said after spending forty-one days cooped up in their apartment her daughter ran around in the fresh air of a small park as if her life depended on it.  According to the Washington Post  Peru is experiencing a devastating outbreak of coronavirus despite early aggressive measures to stop the spread. 

Seeing the musical We Will Rock You in Hong Kong. Our friends Erik and Heather who live in Saudia Arabia now are the second couple to the left

In Saudi Arabia, other friends have been on a 24 hour a day lockdown.  They report the only time they managed to get some fresh air was when the fire alarm went off in their home, forcing them outside for a bit.  The round the clock curfew has now been eased in some places in the country according to Reuters news service. 

Other posts…….

My Day in Comics

A Handel Meat Pie

Cocktails in a Stable

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Filed under cartoons, COVID-19 Diary

Advice From Mary Poppins, My Blog in Hawaii and Cherishing Lives

julie andrews

Julie Andrews in Australia – photo Wiki Media

Yesterday Julie Andrews was on the CBS Sunday Morning show.  Julie’s movie Mary Poppins was one of the first I ever saw as a child and I was so looking forward to seeing The Sound of Music, Julie’s other hit movie, produced as a play at the Manitoba Theatre Centre this coming December. During her interview yesterday Julie offered two pieces of advice her mother often gave her that are very apt for our time.

“When in doubt, stand still and wait till the way forward is clear. “

“This will have a beginning, a middle and an end.  So just wait it through.”

A lesser-known role that Julie Andrews had was in the film Hawaii based on the book by James Michener. I watched the movie and read the book before we made our own visit to Hawaii. 

Coincidentally I got an interesting message from Hawaii this week. 

My husband Dave and Bill on a hike when we visited him in Hawaii

My friend and former colleague Bill currently teaches English at a college in Hilo, Hawaii. He sent me a message last week that he has assigned his students to read some of my blog posts and respond to one of them. I am interested to read what the students have to say. 

marylou and ai wei wei

Posing with a statue of  Ai Wei Wei at the Art Gallery of Ontario

In a recent op-ed in the Toronto Globe and Mail Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei says what our world needs right now is a sober reflection on what it means to ‘cherish life.’  How do we best honour and cherish the lives of people who will be lost to the coronavirus because the governments of the world didn’t act quickly or honestly enough? 

forever bicycles ai wei wei and marylou

I pose with an Ai Wei Wei sculpture called Forever Bicycles at The Forks in Winnipeg in December

Ai Wei Wei was banished from China for his attempts to honour and cherish lives through his art.  After the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 Ai Wei Wei criticized the Chinese government for not properly investigating how shoddy school construction had caused the deaths of some 5000 children in the quake.  The government never released those children’s names. Ai Wei Wei led a citizen’s inquiry into the children’s deaths and created three art pieces to honour them. wall of school children's names ai weiwei sichuan earthquakeOne was this massive wall that lists the name of every child who died and includes each child’s date of birth, age, school class and home address. I photographed it on a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario. As you stood in front of the installation you could hear the names of the children being read aloud. straightened rebar memorial to sichuan earthquake victims

This work called STRAIGHT contained rebar Ai Wei Wei collected from the sites of the schools that collapsed during the earthquake. He straightened all the bent rebar and arranged it in stacks to create an eery landscape. By straightening the pieces Ai Weiwei demonstrated his desire to try to make things right for the forgotten victims of the earthquake.snake bag by ai weiweiIn this exhibit called Snake Bag he memorializes the children of Sichuan with a snake made of children’s school bags. When Ai Weiwei visited the sites of the schools that had been destroyed he saw children’s backpacks scattered in the rubble, a tangible symbol of the boys and girls whose lives had been cut short. 

What tangible symbols will we create to show we honour and cherish the lives of the people that will be lost during COVID-19?

Other posts………..

Art That is Too Opinionated?


James Michener’s Hawaii

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Trading in Love For Judgement, Top Album and Sounds of the Bayou

Basketball star Stephen Curry visits former President Barack Obama at the White House

We listened to talk show host Trevor Noah interview six-time NBA all-star basketball player Stephen Curry on his show last week.  Curry was talking about an organization he founded together with his wife Ayesha called Eat. Learn. Play.   It sponsors programs to help kids get proper nutrition, engage in healthy physical activity and have opportunities to secure a college education.  During the current COVID crisis the foundation is partnering with food banks and schools to meet the most pressing needs of vulnerable families. One thing Curry did NOT talk about during the interview was his Christian faith but it doesn’t take very long to find articles online where Curry explains how his parents’ example taught him about faith in a higher power and that has impacted his career, his family life and especially his commitment to giving back to the community. 

Ralph Drollinger- photo by Stephen Voss

Ralph Drollinger is a former NBA basketball player and a Christian minister who leads a Bible study at the White House for members of Donald Trump’s cabinet.  According to an article in Newsweek Drollinger believes among other things that the earth was created in six days, women shouldn’t be in church leadership, it is important for Christians to dress well and capital punishment is a good idea.  He has argued in a series of blog posts that the coronavirus is God’s “consequential wrath on our nation.” This wrath has been visited on Americans because of their radical environmentalism and tolerance of homosexuality. 

American religious leaders present President Trump with the House of Zion award

In an article by Jonathan Merrit in The Atlantic Drollinger and other high profile, Christian leaders are taken to task for acting out of self-righteousness judgement rather than love during the pandemic.  Merrit is puzzled as to why such a large percentage of white evangelicals support a president who is acting in a greedy, vain, dishonest and unethical way during the current crisis.  Merrit says while there are many caring Christians in America who are responding to COVID-19 with acts of compassion and love, unfortunately, the judgmental ones who follow their brash and vulgar president are getting too many of the headlines. 

Merrit ends his article with a line from a song I learned in my teen years at church camps and youth conferences “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”   He feels many of America’s most visible Christians have lost sight of that mantra and are trading in love for judgement. 

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

My husband Dave is doing one of those Facebook challenges. This one is to post the covers of your top ten record albums.  Dave tagged me but I am not really that excited about it.  However, since I love my husband I will post my top album pick right here. The instructions say you need to do that without any words or description or justification for your choice.

Biking down the Bonivital Parkway two days ago Dave and I came upon scenes like this that reminded us of being in a bayou in the American southwest.  The bare trees and the high water silhouetted against the blue sky and billowing clouds created its own stark and natural beauty. Perhaps because there is so little traffic noise these days when we stop at places like this on our bike rides we notice how we can hear the hammering of woodpeckers, the cawing of crows, the honking of geese, the squawking of gulls, the croaking of frogs, and the wind in the branches just waiting to bud. 

Other posts……….

Frogs that Sound Like Cows Bellowing

Imagine It!

Ten Things I Learned About Carol King

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Religion

Two Diverse Points of View, Saturday Morning Breakfast and Freedom From Fear

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Visits Mexico City

Three-quarters of Canadians think their prime minister is doing a good job right now

On Thursday there were two different points of view expressed on the editorial page of The Carillon, the regional newspaper I work for as a columnist. A regularly featured writer was outrightly critical of the Canadian government’s response to COVID-19. Unlike the 74% of Canadians who think Justin Trudeau is doing a good job of handling the pandemic this writer made fairly scathing comments about the prime minister and urged Trudeau to return to economic normalcy in Canada as soon as possible if he doesn’t want to lose his job in the next election.

Protesters rally in Kentucky against COVID-19 restrictions

The Carillon editor feels some of the American protestors advocating for reopening businesses are misguided- Photo by Bryan Woolston for Reuters

An editorial on the same page presented another opinion.  It asked people who are advocating for a return to normalcy to think honestly about what they are requesting. Encouraging the prime minister to ease isolation directives and open the economy essentially means you are asking for the right to expose yourself and your loved ones to the virus. You are saying your right to work supersedes others’ right to live.  The editor encouraged people to use their common sense and follow government restrictions based on science.  

It was interesting to see the diverse opinions of Manitobans in the southeast region of the province displayed side by side.  As I write my own column this weekend for the Carillon’s next issue I will be thinking about that. 
freedom from fear norman rockwell
I was talking to a friend yesterday about a Winston Churchill biography she’s been reading. The book describes the horrific bombings London endured during World War II.  It brought to mind this painting by Norman Rockwell Freedom From Fear. Loving parents in the 1940s are checking on their children before going to bed themselves. Dad is holding a newspaper where the front-page story is about the Battle of Britain. The glasses in his hand indicate he’s probably already read the alarming news.  The children sleep peacefully however, free from fear and untroubled about what is going on in the world.  

Our current times are much like that. Parents are tasked with keeping their children happy and calm even while the adults themselves are reading so much troubling news in the media. It’s a daunting task but I know many parents are doing a great job making sure their kids feel safe and free from fear even with so many fearful things going on. 

jay and sue and me

With my friend Sue and our sailboat captain during a trip together in Florida

We are finding it is important to establish rituals during this time of physical distancing.  One we practice is having a gin and tonic at four-thirty each weekday while we watch Jeopardy.  Happy hour gin and tonics is a ritual we learned from our friends Rudy and Sue Nikkel. When we travelled or holidayed together as we often did, Sue made the most marvellous gin and tonics for our happy hours. She was a master at this.

bacon and eggs on Saturday

Last Saturday’s bacon and eggs at our house

Another ritual we learned from Rudy and Sue was having bacon and eggs for breakfast on Saturday morning. 

lunch rudy and sue hecla island

Getting ready to order our Saturday morning bacon and eggs at the Hecla island resort on a golfing weekend with Rudy and Sue

When we travelled with the Nikkels or holidayed with them, Saturday breakfast was always bacon and eggs, cooked by Sue if possible but if necessary ordered in a restaurant. 

See you tomorrow.  I am off now to eat my bacon and eggs. 

Other posts……..

Must We Live in Fear  


I’ve Been a Newspaper Columnist for Decades

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Media, Politics

Women in A Mennonite Care Home Help Create a Collaborative Work of Art

There is a beautiful public piece of art along the Peguis Trail in Winnipeg Manitoba created by senior women from the Mennonite Bethania Personal Care Home in collaboration with school-age girls in their community.

The residents at the Mennonite care home teamed up with students from Hampstead Elementary School, Valley Gardens Middle School and Kildonan East Collegiate and together with artist Denise Prefontaine created an intergenerational artwork called Life’s Journey. A plaque at the site describes the mosaic project

I love this photo of the hands of the creators working on their project.  It clearly shows the different ages of the women involved.  This photo is sad too because now during the pandemic the kind of intergenerational cooperation and interaction this project involved would not be possible.

The cocoon and the butterfly in the installation reminded me of something a good friend said recently. “This time of isolation we are experiencing during the pandemic is like being in a cocoon. When it is over, we will all emerge as changed people.”  How will I have changed? How will our world have changed? How will many of our institutions, including the Mennonite Church have changed?

A beautiful sculpture created by senior Mennonite women together with their young neighbours provides lots of food for thought. 

Other posts……….

Knuckleball- Think Mennonite Corner Gas

The Constructed Mennonite

The Wittenbergs by Sarah Klassen



Filed under Art, Religion

Hope In a Song, The Toilers, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

basketball team

Dave with a girls basketball team he coached at the Steinbach Junior High in 1981

My husband Dave was a basketball coach throughout his 35-year teaching career.

dave basketball team steinbach

Dave played on men’s basketball teams in Steinbach for some twenty years.

He has played on many different basketball teams.  Our sons inherited his love of the sport so basketball has been a big part of our family’s life. toilers park winnipegIt’s not surprising then that one of the spots Dave took me to on our daily pandemic bicycle adventures was a Winnipeg Park dedicated to a basketball team. 

toilers basketball teamThe Toilers were Winnipeg’s provincial champions in basketball more than a dozen times during the 1920s and 30s.  They won the Canadian title three times during that period. toilers basketball team memorialIn 1933 they were travelling home from international competition in Tulsa Oklahoma and their plane crashed. Two team members died. 

dave cycling toilers parkToilers Park is on a piece of property that was once owned by a team member.  He had a cottage on the site and the team spent so much time there it became known as Toilers Camp. toilers parkIn 1965 the city designated the location as Toiler Memorial Park.  In 2004 the team was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and in 2015 the park was refurbished, securing its river banks, improving drainage, and adding a memorial art piece. 

I am really appreciating how our cycling rides are teaching me new things about Winnipeg. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic these rides wouldn’t have happened because Dave and I would have been busy with our jobs and our many family and community commitments. That is one small silver lining to our current crisis. 


Demonstrators, one pro-choice, the other, pro-life, hold up signs during a protest in reaction to South Dakota’s new anti-abortion law, outside the Federal Court building in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D., Thursday. March 9, 2006. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

I have been noting that many of the opinions about our freedoms being violated by the mandatory COVID-19 restrictions seem to be coming from the same segment of society that calls themselves pro-life.  Yet loosening up on our current restrictions is sure to end the lives of many people. At the same time, I call myself pro-choice but right now I believe that people shouldn’t have a choice about remaining in isolation. Too many lives depend on it. It’s interesting how circumstances can influence our interpretation of our important principles. We need to start thinking of ways to help those with these seemingly polarized opinions on these issues find some common ground. 

To end his interview with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night Michael Moore sang the chorus from a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter called Why Shouldn’t We?  You can hear Mary singing it here. The words of the song are very appropriate for our time.  Mary writes about believing in things we cannot see, believing in things that give us hope, believing we can change things that we are told can’t be changed and believing in the things that make us all the same.  She ends with a statement of faith. 

So come on darling, feel your spirits rise
Come on children, open up your eyes
God is all around, Buddha’s at the gate
Allah hears your prayers, it’s not too late
Why shouldn’t we? 


Other posts………….

Discovering Peanut Park

Basketball, Gender, Hoop Dreams and Art

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life. What Might We Have in Common? 


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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Sports, Winnipeg

Life’s Journey and Tea Parties

On Tuesday our bike ride took us down the Chief Peguis section of the Greenway Bicycle and Walking Trail. I have to admit it’s not the most scenic section of the trail but we came across this marvellous artwork!  It was created jointly by girls from Hampstead Elementary School and Valley Gardens Middle School, as well as young women from Kildonan East Collegiate and senior women who live at Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home. They worked together with artist Denise Prefontaine on this intergenerational art project called Life’s Journey. What a beautiful story of joint creativity by women at all different stages of life’s journey. I loved the photo on the nearby plaque where the hands of girls and women of all ages are spread open on the artwork they are creating together.  I found the piece particularly poignant because right now young girls and octagenarian women would not be allowed to meet and work together on a project like this. 

Yesterday during our FaceTime call with our two grandsons they taught us to do some of the yoga poses they have been learning during the quarantine.  Our one-year-old granddaughter can’t do yoga yet but she has learned to point to her nose, her eyes, her hair, her leg and other body parts when you say “Show me your…….”

Seeing one of those normal little steps of progress on life’s journey taking place for the youngest member of our family made me deliriously happy and nearly brought me to tears. Later I was telling my ninety-one-year-old Dad about our granddaughter’s achievement during a phone call, and he asked me to remind him again how many great-grandchildren he had. I told him he had six and named each one for him. “Well I guess that’s something to keep living for,” he said. My friend Marj sends out these weekly newsletters to a group of women from our church.  We all volunteer together at a Mennonite Central Committee thrift shop. This week Marj invited us to share pictures of treasures we may have unearthed while doing some COVID cleaning of our homes. I sent a photo of this tea set I found in a drawer in my bedroom. It belonged to my mother and I took it home when I helped my Dad clean up my Mom’s things after she died in 2013.  I’d always meant to photograph the tea set and write about it because I have this wonderful old photo of my mother and her two sisters taken around 1930. They are having a tea party with the set on their farmyard near Drake Saskatchewan. My Mom is farthest to the left in the picture. Tea parties used to be such a big thing. I have this photo of my sister and me having a tea party outside our grandparents’ house in Drake Saskatchewan in the late 1950s.

Afternoon Tea or The Gossips by John Everett Millais

One of my very favourite paintings at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is this one showing three girls having a tea party with their puppy. Colour the Collection is a feature the gallery is offering while it is temporarily closed. You can print up a version of Afternoon Tea to colour at home. 

I normally don’t do very much baking mostly because I don’t want to have things around in my house I won’t be able to resist eating. But yesterday I succumbed and made some chocolate chip raisin oatmeal cookies and they taste pretty fabulous if I do say so myself.  My husband who makes all the tea and coffee at our house steeped cups of tea for us to enjoy with our cookies in the evening. On one of our bike rides last week I took a photo of this large tea kettle at the Beaumont Bus Station at the corner of Georgina Avenue and Parker Street. Called Rooster Town Kettle it was created by artist Ian August in 2019. The public art piece stands on the former site of Rooster Town a tight-knit Metis community that housed some 250 folks between 1901 and 1961.  The artist says that a tea kettle like this one would have had a permanent place on the woodstove of every home in Rooster Town.  You can read more about it here. 

An old Irish proverb says………..”Life is like a cup of tea. It’s all in how you make it.”

Other posts………….

Butterfly Photographer

Butterflies in Nunavut? 

Trying Kombucha

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Winnipeg

Tataouinage, Freedom, Quiz Nights and Bird Songs

Yves-Francois Blanchet – photo by Adrian Wyld

There was too much “tataouinage’.  That was the French word Mr Blanchet the leader of the Bloc Quebecois used on Monday to describe what was going on in Canada’s Parliament.  In a Huffington Post article writer Althia Raj, quotes Mr Blanchett and explains that the French expression “tataouinage’ describes something that could have been done in a shorter, better way.  Mr Blanchett felt there were too many political games involved in figuring out how and when the Canadian Parliament will meet during the pandemic. Mr Blanchett didn’t think there was a reason for Parliament to meet at all in person unless it was to take a vote on something. The Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer argued on the other hand that Parliament needed to meet in person at least twice a week in order to hold the current Liberal minority government accountable.  

Susan Penner – photo from the City of Steinbach website

Holding the current Liberal government accountable was also the theme of the remarks Susan Penner a city councillor in my home town of Steinbach made at the most recent city council meeting. She believes some of the actions of the current Liberal government indicate they are ready to use the pandemic to endanger the freedoms we enjoy as Canadians. 

The Freedom Arches in Nathan Phillips Square Toronto

That got me thinking about what freedom means. Canada is a free society. So should people be free to ignore physical distancing without consequence even if their choice to do so might lead to the death of someone else?  Should businesses be free to remain open even if it would unduly pressure employees to return to work despite their concerns about the serious health consequences?  Should people be free to promote their own ideas about the coronavirus even if it is at odds with the established scientific community?  For example, should they be able to advertise cures for coronavirus even though right now there isn’t a proven one?  

The pandemic is forcing us to think about what freedom really means. 

Quiz night at an Irish pub in Hong Kong

The countries of Britain and Ireland are well known for their pubs, those watering holes where locals gather to drink beer, play darts, watch some sports on the tele and visit with their neighbours.  Pubs also have become extremely popular for something else in the last thirty years, their quiz nights.

With friends Michelle and Emily and our quiz master Glen at the White Stag a pub we frequented for a quiz night in Hong Kong

Dave and I used to participate in quiz nights regularly in two different pubs during the six years we lived in Hong Kong. A recent article in The Atlantic talks about how pubs are adapting to our current times including hosting weekly quiz nights with their patrons using  Zoom, Facebook, Instagram Live, or What’s App and renaming their online pandemic pubs things like the Corona Arms. Apparently, it’s a far cry from the real thing, but for quiz fans, it will have to do for now.

Photo by Dave Driedger

Since it is earth day I’ll end with a poem by Emily Dickinson in which she compares hope to a bird and tells us that even in the most turbulent, strange and unfamiliar circumstances hope remains to comfort us.   

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Other posts………..

Only in Freedom Can the Human Spirit Soar

Freedom’s Child

Dave Driedger- Wildlife Photographer

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Politics