Monthly Archives: June 2020

Assiniboine Park


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

It seems that every time I go to Assiniboine Park I discover some little treasure to remember or I tuck away some new memory.  My parents got engaged in Assiniboine Park, my brother got married in the park pavilion and I have spent many happy hours there.  

Here are just a few photos from the many I have that were taken in Assiniboine Park. How grateful I am especially during this time when being indoors with people can be dangerous to have beautiful outdoor spaces like Assiniboine Park where we can meet friends and family in a safe way.

This photo was taken with good friends in Assiniboine Park 2015

I took this photo of my friend Meena with the Winnie the Pooh statue in Assiniboine Park in 2014

Our grandson checks out the polar bears swimming at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in 2018

Clouds reflected in the water in a pond in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park. I took this photo in 2016

Posing with Lady With the Book statue in the Assiniboine Park English Gardens 2018

Dave and me on a bench in Assiniboine Park 2012

Posing with my friend Beena by a statue of Moses in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in 2014

Other posts…….

Go to the Park

A Quick Visit to Assiniboine Park

The Qualico Family Centre- Assiniboine Park



Filed under Art, COVID-19 Diary, Nature, Winnipeg

I Left My Golf Tees in the Bathroom

On Saturday morning Dave was getting ready to head off to the golf course. He was looking for a few special golf tees he has been using lately.  I do have a drawer in our bedroom reserved exclusively for golf paraphernalia I find around the house.  If Dave is missing a golf ball, tee, glove, ball marker, club headcover, water bottle, golf towel, or old scorecard he knows I’ve probably picked it up from wherever he plunked it down in the condo and put it in that drawer reserved for his golfing stuff.  

During the pandemic, partly because we have had no company, I admit I have become very lax about tidying up our condo.  On Friday however, I was fed up with the state of our home and whirled through it putting away lots of stuff including Dave’s golf tees which I tossed in the golf drawer in our bedroom.  During the pandemic, Dave has become accustomed to me leaving things wherever he drops them. So on Saturday, he couldn’t figure out why his golf tees weren’t beside the sink in the bathroom where he had left them when he emptied his pockets after his previous golf game. “Where are my golf tees?” he fumed. “I left them in the bathroom.” 

His consternation made me realize there are lots of little collections of his scattered about our living space that would have irritated me in the past and I would have itched to organize and clean up and put away.  Now I just let things accumulate.

Case in point his hand sanitizer collection nestled in amongst a display of treasures from our time living in Asia. Dave bought hand sanitizer from Farmery Brewery near the beginning of COVID-19 because it was unavailable in stores. The sanitizer came in beer cans and needed to be transferred to other kinds of containers. He scoured the house for various suitable bottles, bought funnels to help him fill them up and then covered the containers with black duct tape because he’d heard exposure to light decreased the sanitizer’s effectiveness.

Normally I would consider a display such as this an eyesore and would have whisked all these lovely containers into a cupboard.  But now I’ve just let it be.

We must own more than a hundred CDS and one of Dave’s pandemic projects has been trying to listen to them all. On his regular trips to Steinbach to golf, he will take a stack out to the car to listen to as he drives. He brings them back in after each trip and piles them in various places around the condo. Normally I would return the CDs scattered around the condo to the drawer in our living room shelving unit I have designated for them, but because I’m pretty sure all of Dave’s CD piles represent some sort of organized system in his mind I have just left the stacks alone. 

I don’t know if I will be able to restrain my itchy tidying up fingers from putting away Dave’s various COVID collections once we can have visitors in our home again, but I am thinking one of the reasons we have been getting along so well during our time of relative isolation is because I haven’t been cleaning up as much and he can create collections of stuff wherever he wants to. Maybe one of the lessons I’m learning during COVID-19 is that a happy marriage partner is more important than a tidy house. 

Other posts……….

Can Your Marriage Survive Lollygagging? 

Why Do People Collect Things? 

Marriage Advice

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Family

Recognition For My Favourite Winnipeg Band

 Our son Bucky is a member of the  Winnipeg band Royal Canoe . They had two honours come their way this past week.  Their album Waver has been nominated in the recording of the year category for the Western Canadian music awards. The producer of the album John Paul Peters has been nominated for producer of the year. The awards ceremony and an accompanying music conference were to have been held in Winnipeg September 25- October 4. This year the awards ceremony will be virtual.  Royal Canoe won a previous Western Canadian music award in 2014 for their album Today We’re Believers.

Royal Canoe on the red carpet at the Juno awards in 2014- photo purchased from the Winnipeg Free Press

The band was also nominated for a Juno award in 2014. 

Royal Canoe performs with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 2017- photo purchased from The Winnipeg Free Press

In honour of Manitoba’s 150th birthday, the Winnipeg Free Press cover story yesterday was called Sounds Like Home. It listed and described the 150 most important songs by Manitoba artists. Royal Canoe’s song Bathtubs was included in the list. You can watch the very cool video of that song here. 

Royal Canoe just before their phenomenal show on ice instruments at The Forks in Winnipeg in January 2020

In a year when touring and performing is on indefinite hold due to the pandemic, Royal Canoe has managed to garner some well deserved recognition.  In January they performed a show entirely on ice instruments to huge crowds at The Forks in Winnipeg and in May a documentary film about that performance called Glacial had its debut. 

Other posts………

Waver A New Album From Royal Canoe

So Cool


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Filed under Music, Winnipeg

Has Fox News Made the Pandemic Worse?

On Thursday the top six stories on the front page of my electronic version of the New York Times were about the coronavirus and its continued wild spread through the United States. In addition, there were four links to op-eds about the virus in the sidebar.  

I checked the Fox News web site immediately after that.  Of the thirty-some stories featured on their main page, only one was about the virus and it was about Joe Biden making a gaffe when quoting the number of coronavirus cases in the United States. 

Sean Hannity

New research is showing that the tendency of Fox News to downplay the severity of the pandemic might be impacting the spread of the disease and the deaths it has caused.  A writer in the Washington Post says infection and mortality rates are higher in places where Fox News commentator Sean Hannity is the most popular. Hannity continually dismisses the severity of COVID-19. 

In an oped in the New York Times, Kara Swisher says some people have suggested possible legal action against Fox News because particularly at the start of the crisis they dished out dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 that might have caused their loved ones to die. 

In his commentary for the Boston public radio station WGBH, Dan Kennedy writes about what he saw one April evening while watching three of the top Fox News personalities do their shows.  Each reported on the pandemic in a variety of ways. 

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson had Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick as his guest.  Patrick had suggested that the United States re-open its economy and that seniors would be willing to die for a better future for their children and grandchildren.

Hannity was into China-bashing that night and praising President Trump’s travel ban on China, even though we have since learned that the ban was largely ineffective because it came too late.

Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham scorned the government’s COVID-19 bailout saying there were people who might make more money than they did before the pandemic and playing numerous clips from physicians claiming COVID-19 wasn’t that dangerous. 

I am not sure if you could win a court case claiming that Fox News has made the pandemic worse because of course people have the freedom to watch or not watch it and to make their own decisions about whether they believe what they hear. 

I check the Fox News website every day because I think it is important to know what a variety of news sources from a variety of points of view are saying but sometimes the experience is more than a little scary.  

Other posts…………

Countering Conspiracy, Thinking About Bali and Fox News Surprises Me

Who Writes History?

Like Father Like Daughter?


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Filed under Media, Politics

Is Favoritism Just Another Kind of Discrimination?

On a recent episode of The Human Brain podcast titled How Favoritism Leads to Injustice, Mahzarin Banaji a psychologist who studies discrimination told the story about a fellow Yale professor who cut a long and deep gash in her hand when she dropped a crystal bowl she was washing.

Her partner rushed her to the hospital where the attending physician was kind and competent and said she shouldn’t worry they would take care of her wound.  The professor explained she was a quilter and really needed all the feeling to return to her hand and fingers.

As the doctor began to stitch her up one of her students happened by and recognizing the professor stopped for a moment to greet her.  The doctor listening to them talk asked his patient, “Are you a professor at Yale?”  When the professor nodded the doctor stopped his stitching rushed the professor to a different hospital wing, called the best hand surgeon in New England who along with a team of other doctors operated on the professor’s hand for several hours. 

Mahzarin Banaji says the professor was not refused service because of her gender, race or some other difference because that would have been discrimination. No, the emergency room doctor treated her in a professional and positive manner but……..when he knew she was a professor she received preferred and better treatment.  

Mahzarin wants us to consider whether favouritism is really an often overlooked act of discrimination. 

favoritismDiscrimination is illegal. Favouritism is not against the law even though the consequences can be just as unjust. 

In the workplace, favouritism might be a boss giving promotions to people who attend their church, or assigning the youngest most attractive people for high profile tasks, or tending to hire those of certain national origin. 

An article in the New York Times about book publishing during the pandemic suggested to me that editors will show favouritism towards agents and authors who are part of the inner circle in the industry, those they hobnob and lunch and have cocktails with. Getting your book published means “knowing the right people” and being favoured by them.

illustration by Liam McFadden of The Pitt News

Illustration by Liam McFadden of The Pitt News

A study by two American psychologists Tony Greenwald and Thomas Pettigrew found that most discrimination isn’t caused by an intention to harm people who are different than we are but by showing favouritism to people who are similar to us. They say we all have a kind of “in-group”- people who we feel comfortable with because they are the same age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, live in the same neighbourhood or went to the same university.  We can identify with these people and so we will do favours for them and they will do favours for us.

But we also all have an “out-group”, people with whom we really can’t identify in most ways. By not doing the same kind of favours for them we are being discriminatory and prejudiced. 

I have been thinking about who is part of my “in-group” and how I might have favoured them. I have been thinking about how favouritism has influenced my life both in good and not so good ways.  How has favouritism played a role in my work life, my work as a writer and journalist, my community life and even my family life? 

How has favouritism impacted you and how has it influenced the way you treat others? 

Other posts……………. 

Are You A Performance Ally? 

Memorable Final Day

Two Lessons From Mom




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Filed under Politics, Reflections

A Possible Alternative to Tearing Down Statues

Beyond the Myth of Benevolence” 2014 painting by Titus KapharThis painting by Titus Kaphar has been haunting me since I read that New York City council members are asking for the statue of Thomas Jefferson which stands outside their city hall to be removed.  Thomas Jefferson became the President of the United States in 1800.  He wrote the American Declaration of Independence and doubled the size of the country by negotiating the Louisiana Purchase.  

He was also a slave owner and in Kaphar’s painting called Beyond The Myth of Benevolence a traditional portrait of Jefferson is peeled back to show Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves with whom he began a sexual relationship when she was just fourteen.  He fathered her six children.

thomas jefferson city hall new york

This image on the Twitter feed of The New York Post shows the city council meeting with the statue of Thomas Jefferson pointed out and highlighted

In an interview,  Titus Kaphar said he was inspired to make the painting after he heard an American history teacher try to mitigate the fact that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner by saying he was a benevolent slave owner.  Because Jefferson treated his slaves kindly he shouldn’t be judged too harshly for owning other human beings. 

photos of Titus Kaphar from the MacArthur Foundation

Photo of Titus Kaphar from the MacArthur Foundation

Titus Kaphar says he is not against taking down statues of slave owners but he wonders if another solution could be creating works of art that tell a different story and displaying them in juxtaposition to initiate conversation.  

Why not hire a contemporary artist to make another sculpture of Thomas Jefferson of equal size and display it right next to the current one? Like Kaphar’s work, it could honestly depict the fact that Jefferson was a slave owner.

Our view of history is always changing and as it does our public art needs to reflect that change. Kaphar’s suggestion would make that change visible and certainly would precipitate plenty of discussion.  

Check here to see Titus Kaphar’s recent Time Magazine cover and his reflection about it. 

Other posts………

Old Sun and Emily Carr

A Man Affectionately Deplored By His Wife

A Different Kind of Nativity Scene


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Filed under Art, Politics

Insight and Wisdom From My Daughter-in-Law

My daughter-in-law Dr Karen Leis was on CBC News yesterday offering some important perspectives on sending Canadian children back to school in September.  Karen is the Saskatchewan representative on the Canadian Paediatric Society Board of Directors.

children sitting on brown chairs inside the classroom

Photo by Arthur Krijgsman on

It is still more than two months before schools will start their fall semesters and Karen reminds us two months in the COVID world is a long, long time. There is always new data coming out that may provide additional insights into how COVID-19 relates to children.

 Karen says what we have learned so far is that children around the world have not been as negatively affected by the coronavirus as adults. In Canada, they account for less than one per cent of hospitalizations and there have been no deaths. Researchers will continue to discover more about if and how children may be transmitting the virus asymptomatically as well as symptomatically. 

Dr Karen Leis is the Saskatchewan representative on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Paediatric Society

Karen says the Canadian Paediatric Society is asking governments to carefully consider the balance between the need for public health measures to combat COVID-19 with the risks that social isolation can present for children. While Karen was careful to point out that some children have thrived in isolation with their families she has also seen patients with anxiety, moodiness, behaviour problems and sleep issues related to the current crisis. She reminds us that for some at-risk children school is their safe space where they have relationships with adults they can trust.

Not all parents will feel comfortable sending their children to school in the fall, particularly children who may have chronic illnesses and families will need to make those decisions, perhaps in consultation with their health care provider. 

school children in taiwan channel news asia photo

Karen was asked about children using masks in her radio interview and she said while they are recommended for children over two years of age for short periods in specific situations, masks may not be as effective for children as adults because children tend to touch their masks more and adjust them more frequently. Masks also hinder children from seeing other people’s facial expressions and those expressions play a key role in effective communication. 

In her radio interview, Karen emphasized that governments need to consult teachers as they plan for school re-opening and must make sure schools are provided with the resources they require to implement health guidelines. 

Karen is a fine example of how dedicated health care providers are working hard to learn all they can about COVID-19 and offer the best advice possible to the public.  I’m very proud of her.  

Other posts………….

An Important Letter

Watch Schools and Daycares for Signs of Reopening

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Education, Health

Ten Good News Stories

A photo I took in Dehli

A Facebook group in India called CareMongers has assisted 16,000 people during the pandemic by providing them with important information, connections to essential services and concrete help. (source)

Dave and I took advantage of the free transit in Tempe Arizona this past winter 

Free transit services are taking off in cities around the world. They increase transit use by 50-85%. This may be a good way to encourage people to use public transportation again once the pandemic is over.  (source)

Jacinda Arden the prime minister of New Zealand is being praised for her leadership during the current pandemic

More women are in Parliaments around the world than ever before. (source)

These micro homes located on a churchyard in Cambridge England provide overnight shelter to the homeless. (source)

Creative solutions to homelessness are being launched across the globe.  In Australia, they are providing mobile shower and laundry service for homeless people and….. chronic homelessness is actually declining in many American states. (source)

A photo I took of a dragonfly at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Endangered species protections are now being extended to insects as well.  Although insects may annoy us they play a vital role in the cycle of life on earth. (source)

Volunteers in Detroit make masks for hospital workers Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

 Millions of people have volunteered to help during the pandemic. (source)

Female inmates taking classes- photo from Wikipedia

More and more prisons are offering high school and college course opportunities. Prisoners in these programs are much less likely to return to jail and at one New York prison, 85% of graduates from their college program find jobs shortly after leaving prison.  (source)

Doing a beach clean up in Hong Kong with my high school students

New projects are constantly being launched and innovative ideas being tested to clean refuse out of the ocean. (source)

Photo by Harrison Haines on

A program called 8 Can’t Wait which offers eight reforms to the way police handle violent situations has reduced deaths during interactions with officers by 72% in some cities.  (source)

Alicia Dibble, Amber Barron and Ashlea Patterson, science and engineering students at the University of Utah who helped develop a new sanitary pad

A 100% biodegradable sanitary pad has been developed by a team at the University of Utah.  Sanitary pads go to landfills where they can take centuries to decompose. (source)

Other posts……..

Two Films About Menstruation You Need to See

India Assaults the Senses

A Bad Choice of Words

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Filed under good news

The Stories We Choose Not To Tell

barracks amache colorado history centre

A re-creation of the barracks at the Amache Japanese Detention Camp at the Colorado History Centre in Denver

Several years ago Dave and I visited the History Center in Denver where we learned about Amache, a Colorado detention camp where American Japanese citizens were incarcerated during World War II.  

Families lost their homes and businesses and lived in close quarters, guarded by soldiers till the war was over.  Because they were Japanese they were seen as suspicious and dangerous.  This incarceration of Japanese citizens remains a disgraceful episode in both American and Canadian history. 

kelly with her book

My friend Kelly with her book. Kelly and I worked at the same school in Hong Kong.

My friend Kelly Fumiko Weiss, who lives in Chicago has written a new novel called The Stories We Choose Not to Tell.  In the book, which I just finished reading yesterday, we see how three generations of women from a Japanese family are impacted by their matriarch’s World War II incarceration at Amache. 

The Amache story is a personal one for Kelly because her own grandmother was imprisoned at Amache and in the foreward to her book Kelly tells us about her grandmother’s experience. However for a variety of reasons Kelly has chosen to create a fictional family for her novel.  

Kelly uses different narrators to tell her story. Front and center is Angela a young television news producer trying to figure out the puzzle of her family life. The key to that puzzle may lie with Angela’s mother Judith, Angela’s aunt Pamela or Angela’s grandmother Aiko. Kelly uses journal entries and the script of an interview with Aiko to fill us in on the family’s past.  marylou with kelly's book

As the title of Kelly’s book suggests the stories from our past we choose not to share with our family members can have just as big an impact on our relationships with them as the stories we do decide to share.   The book will you have you thinking about those kinds of stories and the role they have played in your family’s life. You can learn more about the complex and interesting family in Kelly’s story by ordering her book here.     

Other posts………      

The Cube

Chicago Visit                                 

An American Nightmare


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Filed under Books

A Gift For My Father

I made a book for my Dad for Father’s Day.  It contains over a hundred photos of Dad with my Mom, with his children, with his grandchildren, and with his great-grandchildren. Each photo is labeled with the names of the people pictured with Dad and a statement about how he is related to them. 

dads photo ablumLike so many people in his age category who have been isolated and cut off from family during the pandemic, my ninety-one-year-old father has found it harder and harder to keep his connections to all the people in his family organized in his mind.  

He is used to seeing us in person on a very regular basis and now for months and months, we have only been able to talk to him on the phone.  Dad is not very computer savvy so using a screen to connect with him hasn’t been a possibility.

grandchildren dad

Dad with two of his grandchildren

When I noticed Dad struggling to recall all his family connections , I decided to design a book for him.  I found multiple photos of him with individuals and small groups of his immediate family members and then arranged them in different categories and in different ways, to make it easy for him to see where everyone fits into the family.

I sent Dad’s book to the printing company more than a month ago but when it arrived just ten days later it had gotten damp in the shipping box somehow. The spine was buckled and the colors on the photos had run.  I was so disheartened. My Father’s Day gift was ruined. 

I used all my best writing skills in an impassioned e-mail to the photo book company to explain how my Dad REALLY needed this book and it had arrived in such bad shape I couldn’t give it to him. 

They were very apologetic and printed and shipped another book by expedited mail immediately. It arrived yesterday and I was very happy. 

dad great granddaughter

Dad with one of his seven great-grandchildren

Rules have changed at Dad’s assisted living facility so we can see him now for outdoor physically distanced half-hour visits. That means we will be able to be with him on Father’s Day and I can give him his book.

When I told Dad it was Father’s Day on Sunday and we wanted to celebrate with him he asked if he should be getting gifts ready for his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I told him that Father’s Day was a day to celebrate him and so he would be the one getting gifts not the other way around. 

I am glad my gift for him arrived on time and am hoping it will help maintain a strong connection with the family members Dad cares for and who care for him. 

Other posts……….

My Dad Is……..

Good-by Dad

Dad’s Treasures- A Cowbell


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Filed under Family