Monthly Archives: February 2022

The Three Women In Charge

Chrystia Freeland- Canadian Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister

“Russia’s barbaric attack cannot — and will not — be allowed to succeed.

We stand with the brave people of Ukraine”

Melanie Joyl – Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I summoned the Russian ambassador and I looked him right in the eye and told him what I thought.

“Our goal, and I’ll be very blunt, is to suffocate the Russian regime.”

Anita Anand -Canadian Minister of National Defence

“This is an attack on sovereign democracy and it will not go unpunished.”

“Putin is responsible for needless deaths and Russia will face harsh consequences.”

Many people say we are at a turning point in history right now. The world is in the most dangerous position it has been since World War II.

Here in Canada three women hold the vital government portfolios related to the current conflict. They are in charge of Canada’s financial, diplomatic and military response to Russia’s aggression.

People may have very different opinions about the capabilities of these women as we often do when it comes to our political leaders. But it is historic that all three of these key positions in the Canadian government are held by women right now. Canadians need to support this resolute female trio as they work to find ways to help bring stability back to the world.

Other posts………..

Women Should Be Leading

Why All These Old White Men?

Does a Female Finance Minister Make A Difference

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Filed under Politics

Seal Skin Astronaut

An artwork with loads of appeal for kids in the current INUA exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Quamajuq) is Sealskin Spacesuit by Jesse Tungilik. The piece never fails to spark the imagination of young gallery visitors but adults will enjoy learning about it too.

Note the sealskin mitts and the fringe work on the jacket.

Iqualuit-based artist Jesse Tungilik created the unique artwork during a residency at Concordia University in Montreal.

The inspiration for Sealskin Spacesuit comes from Jesse’s childhood. His mother would sew him outdoor clothes made from caribou hide for Jesse to wear when hunting. As a kid however Jesse liked to imagine he was in a spacesuit when he wore his caribou outfit.

The clothing his Mom made for him was bulky and heavy and hard to put on just like he imagined a space suit would be.  As he walked outside on the tundra he could imagine himself exploring the surface of some yet undiscovered planet.

The beaded patches on the space suit were made by Glenn Gear. This one features the flag of Nunavut.
This patch on the sealskin spacesuit is much like the NASA emblem

Once he got the idea of creating a space suit out of sealskin Jessie paid a visit to the Canadian Space Agency for further inspiration. Then Jessie had to figure out how to make his sealskin suit. His friend Julie Alivaktuk helped him design the pattern and another Inuit artist Glenn Gear helped him sew it. Glenn also made the beaded patches for the space suit. In an interview with CBC Jessie said he really appreciated the fact that the final artwork was the result of a team effort.

Although Inuit kids today may get their space information from the latest Star Trek iteration on television or from movies like Dune and Captain Marvel, stories of the stars, moon, sun and even shamanic travel across time and space are part of a long tradition of Inuit storytelling.

Sealskin Spacesuit includes these hand sewn boots.

Jessie is hoping that his artwork will inspire Inuit kids to think about unique and ambitious career paths rather than relying on traditional employment opportunities in the north. As he sewed the suit he allowed his imagination to wander through an alternate reality where an Inuit space program was developed. Jessie said it was fun to imagine an Inuit space explorer discovering new worlds.

Besides Jessie’s inventive art piece there are many other beautiful works to explore in the INUA exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Quamajuq). The exhibit will be on display till February of 2023.

Other posts………..

I’d Like to Own This Vest

The Four Seasons- INUA Style

Good-bye Pitaloosie

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Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery

A Different Kind of Puzzling

My latest puzzle. It was completed just this week.

I follow the blog of Canadian writer Carrie Synder and lately she has been posting about her obsession with jigsaw puzzles. Carrie says by now it is definitely an addiction. Carrie is part of a current Canadian trend and although I don’t complete puzzles with her speed or tenacity I’ve just finished my 25th pandemic jigsaw puzzle. I have been averaging about one puzzle a month since March of 2020.

Thank You to Essential Workers Puzzle I did a year ago

My two favourite places to shop for puzzles in Winnipeg are at McNally Robinson Booksellers and Kite and Kaboodle a toy store in the Johnson Terminal at the Forks. Early on in the pandemic, I noticed their stocks were sometimes pretty depleted. Jigsaw puzzle manufacturers have struggled to keep up with the demand for their products during the last two years.

Puzzles have taken off during COVID 19 with sales rising by 400%. Apparently the last time there was such a major spike in sales was during the Great Depression.

According to Marcel Danesi, an anthropology professor at the University of Toronto in stressful times, jigsaw puzzles are a form of escapism. He says that “not only do puzzles take one’s mind off of problems and dangers, they also provide a means to accomplish something, as its own reward.”

A puzzle featuring female artists I finished in December

I feel that way too. If I don’t have a puzzle on the go I almost panic. I need it there to give me brain breaks from my writing assignments and soothe my spirit often edgy from isolation or panicky in response to what is going on in the world.

My Mom and my niece working on a puzzle at our family cottage

In the past, I puzzled more as a social activity as did the rest of my family. When my mother’s sister Viola came to visit Mom in Manitoba from her home in Saskatchewan they almost always did a puzzle together during Viola’s stay. My sister and I like to puzzle together too especially when we are on a vacation together. A family puzzle was often on the go at our family cottage and everyone contributed to finishing it.

Our sons working on a puzzle at Christmas

Puzzles are a staple of our Christmas get together as a family. Since our grandchildren can help with puzzles now I often get a family one with three different sizes of pieces so we can all work together.

I have a group of friends I get together with regularly for an activity of some sort. At one of our meetings, we did a jigsaw puzzle together as we visited.

However, in the last two years, during the pandemic, I’ve been puzzling on my own and there is something about that I appreciate as well.

If it’s too cold to go to the beach you can puzzle your way there.

Puzzling alone gives me time to think. I can work through the plot of my latest novel, dream up the topic for a talk I am scheduled to give, run through the information for my latest tour at the art gallery or figure out the title for my next blog post.

And…………… puzzling alone also provides an opportunity to simply zone out if I want to or need to. To just focus on my hands and the shape of the pieces and spaces in my puzzle.

I got a little nostalgic doing this puzzle of Hong Kong where I used to live.

I am looking forward to a time when I will be able to puzzle with friends and family again. But for now, I am content to puzzle alone. I have learned to appreciate a different kind of puzzling.

Other posts……….

Life Lessons From Puzzles

Bopping Around My Condo

Lagom- Just Right


Filed under COVID-19 Diary

Thinking of Kyiv

Waking to the news that Russian troops had entered Kyiv made me think of the time we spent in that beautiful city. How will the fighting impact all these places and people?

St. Michael’s Cathedral and Monastery. The original, constructed in 1108, was destroyed by the Soviet regime in the 1930s for having no historical value. The reconstructed cathedral was completed in May 2000. 
Dave was interviewed on national television about our impressions of Kyiv. Where are those television reporters today? Can they still do their job? Are they safe?
A man feeding pigeons in a city square
Kyiv is full of unique and interesting public art
The Uspenski Cathedral built in 1073
Dave points to Ottawa on an art piece in Independence Square that shows the distance from Kyiv to other major places in the world. Especially today it is important to remember that in the global community we are all neighbours
A street musician who entertained us
Monument to the victims of the 1932 famine in Ukraine
The beautiful and intelligent university student who served as our guide on a walking tour through the city.
Museum in Kyiv that honours the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Russian troops captured Chernobyl yesterday.
We light candles and pray for our family in St. Michaels Cathedral

Today I will light a candle and pray for the people of Kyiv.

Other posts………

Thinking about The People in Ukraine

Dad’s Samovar

The Disappeared

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WANTED- Trial Run Participants

Next Thursday, March 3, I start teaching an online course for Canadian Mennonite University via Zoom. My class is called Learning About Biblical Women Through Art. Recently I asked a well-known author with plenty of experience doing online teaching what were the keys to a great Zoom class. She said Preparation, Props and Practice.

I have prepared. I’ve written my class notes. I have props. I have made slide presentations with all the artwork we will look at in the course. Now I need to practice.

If you are free for an hour this Saturday morning at 10:00 and are NOT taking my course but wouldn’t mind a peek into what it will be about can you message me at or via messenger or send me a note at the end of this blog post and I’ll send you a link for a zoom practice session.

Some of the Biblical women whose stories we are going to explore in the six-week course are………

Aseneth who is depicted in this beautiful painting by Rembrandt.

The Daughters of Zelophehad whose story is illustrated below by Israeli artist Iris Wexler

Susanna as seen in this 1621 work of Valentin-de- Boulogne.

Anna who is captured in a work by an artist’s collective in Cameroon.

If you think you could help me by attending a short trial run for my course I’d love to hear from you today.

Thank you in advance.

Note: If you still want to sign up for the course you can do so here.

Other posts………..


Mary’s Childhood

God of Eve and God of Mary

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Filed under Education, Religion

Canadians Need A Civics Lesson

I saw a Twitter comment a few days ago by a social studies teacher who said recent events have made it clear many Canadians need a basic refresher course in how government works in our country. Here are a few examples of why they might think that.

  • A Manitoba MLA Nello Altomare said over the weekend his office had received many e-mails and calls asking him to vote against the Emergency Measures Act being debated by the House of Commons. Mr. Altomare had to explain that he represented his area of Winnipeg in the provincial legislature but it was the federal Parliament that was voting on the Emergency Measures Act.
  • Yesterday the Governor General’s office issued a clarification statement in order to alleviate the pressure on their phone lines which were being overwhelmed by calls from people who thought there was some kind of official registry in place that allowed them to file a request asking the Governor General to remove the prime minister from office. The Governor General’s office explained that such a registry does not exist.
  • People were protesting outside City Hall here in Winnipeg earlier this month waving signs about ending masking and vaccination mandates. They didn’t seem to know that health measures come under provincial jurisdiction and the civic government has no authority to establish them.
  • Dwayne Lich husband of arrested convoy leader Tamara Lich, told the judge at his wife’s bail hearing a few days ago that he was relying on his first amendment rights. Mr. Lich an Alberta resident was confusing the American Bill of Rights with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I have had many questions myself in the last several weeks about which level of government has the power to act in different situations and who is responsible for various laws and regulations in our country. I will be the first to admit I am in need of some basic civics lessons.

For example, until I read this explanation by a former Canadian Supreme Court Judge about the meaning of freedom as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms I probably could not have told you in a clear sentence or two how we define freedom in Canada or who has the right to interpret the meaning of that word. Now I know.

Perhaps a silver lining of the most recent Canadian democratic crisis is that it has forced us all, no matter our political stance, to learn more about how the Canadian system of government works.

Other posts………..

Architecture Asks Questions About Government

The Wisdom of Kids

Prayer in Parliament

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Filed under Politics

Lost on the Prairie In Australia and Saskatoon

My book is on the shelf at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon

I have been in Saskatoon a number of times in the last while and on one visit I popped in at the McNally Robinson Booksellers store there to pick up a gift for someone. It was neat to see my novel on the shelves and especially cool to see it placed right above the novel Tainted Amber by Gabriele Goldstone, who is a fellow member of my Winnipeg writers’ group The Anitas.

On one of my visits to Saskatoon, I was invited to give a presentation about my book to a seniors’ group in the city. It was a delight to talk to the twenty or so folks who attended and sell them copies of Lost on the Prairie and sign them.

My friend and former colleague Sharon just received my book in Australia this month

Lost on the Prairie is in Queensland Australia, now. My friend Sharon Singh ordered a copy and when she received it last week did a lovely Facebook post about my novel. Sharon and my husband Dave and I were colleagues at an international school in Hong Kong. It was such a pleasure to get to know Sharon and her family during our time in Hong Kong. Thanks to our six years working in an international school my novel is making its way around the world to such interesting destinations.

I just can’t say enough good things about what my publisher Heritage House has done to promote my novel. Recently they included it in a series of media posts they did about Family Literacy Week.

Lost on the Prairie was also featured in the most recent newsletter of Friends of the Winnipeg Public library along with my friend Harriet Zaidman’s novel Second Chances. You can read their newsletter called NOTES here.

I am always receiving new comments from people who are continuing to buy my book and are reading it. I so appreciate everyone who takes the time to connect with me and tell me what they thought of Lost on the Prairie. Below is a sample comment from a former college classmate of mine Peggy Martens. You can read more of the comments I’ve received here.

This book was difficult to put down. It will hold the attention of younger and older readers as Peter moves from one adventure to another at a rapid pace. No need to read through chapters waiting for the next exciting escapade. It is so very well researched. I felt I was in the Minneapolis train station in 1907. I loved, loved, loved the inclusion of Mark Twain. But, what will stay with me the most, is how the book gives a central place to First Nations people. Peter sees them through eyes of wonder and curiosity as a child. He is not afraid or suspicious. The fact that they are heroes and friends in the story is wonderful. Peter sees what is similar to his own family and is respectful and appreciative of the differences. The fact that he cherishes the moccasins made by the grandmother for him speaks to this. This is how I wish adults, as well as children, could view those of different cultures to our own. This book is not only a great read but a must-read!- Peggy Martens (Altona, Manitoba)

I keep thinking that at some point there won’t be enough new things to write about my novel to do a monthly update. But it hasn’t happened yet.

You can read all of the Lost on the Prairie blog posts here.

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Filed under Lost on the Prairie

Louis Riel Day- Ten Images

A statue of Louis Riel faces the river on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg. Riel is wearing a traditional Metis sash and holds the Manitoba Act in his hand. The act admitted Manitoba as the fifth province to the country of Canada on May 12 of 1870.

It’s Louis Riel Day a holiday first celebrated in 2008 to honour a man who was the leader of the Metis people on the prairies in the 1870s and 1880s and is considered the founder of our province. Louis Riel wanted to preserve and protect Metis land rights and culture from undue influence and direction from the federal government of Canada.     He was elected to Parliament several times.

I decided to search my albums for photos related to the man our province is celebrating today.

The Diaries of Louis Riel is one of the books featured in a sculpture at the Forks in Winnipeg that celebrates the writing of Indigenous authors. The artwork is called Education is the New Bison and was created by Val Vint.

Deeds are not accomplished in a few days, or in a few hours, a century is only a spoke in the wheel of everlasting time.  – Louis Riel

This Louis Riel quote in the shape of a wheel was displayed as a touchstone at the heart of a groundbreaking exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario I visited in 2017 that celebrated the artwork of the Metis as well as other minority groups in Canada. It was called Reframing Nationhood.

Louis Riel’s Metis sash

Louis Riel’s Metis sash is on display at the St. Boniface Museum in Winnipeg. The sashes were first used by the French voyageurs who transported furs for the Hudsons Bay Company. The Metis, a people with both a French and Indigenous heritage, adopted these sashes from the voyageurs and called them ‘un ceinture fleche’ or ‘arrowed belts.’ Today the sash is worn by members of the Metis nation as a symbol of pride. 

Also on display at the St. Boniface Museum is one of Louis Riel’s three coffins.

The esplanade which walkers use to cross the Provencher Bridge in Winnipeg is called The Riel Esplanade in honour of Louis Riel.

At the end of the Provencher Bridge is Joseph Royal Park. It honours Joseph Royal a journalist and lawyer who defended Louis Riel in court when he was accused of treason. He also defended Louis Riel in editorials in his newspaper.

This statue of Louis Riel on the grounds of St. Boniface College once stood on the Manitoba Legislature grounds but was considered too controversial and was replaced by a more conventional one in 1995.

A third Winnipeg statue of Louis Riel sits on the grounds of the St. Boniface Museum. The museum is housed in a former nunnery for the Grey Nuns. The Grey Nuns provided Louis Riel with his early education and they facilitated him going to Montreal to study further at a college there. Louis Riel’s sister Sara joined the order of the Grey Nuns.

Louis Riel is buried on the grounds of the St. Boniface Basilica. According to documentation some 700 people gathered for Louis Riel’s burial service on December 9, 1885. It was a bitterly cold day Eight men wearing Metis sashes and buffalo coats bore his coffin on a six-mile walk from St. Vital to the basilica. By the time they arrived their beards were covered in frost. The pallbearers were followed by a cavalcade of some 75 sleighs.

In 2008 when Manitoba wanted to add another provincial holiday to its calendar school students across the province were invited to submit suggestions for what this day should be called. The winning submission came from Acadia Junior High. Thanks to those young people we are celebrating Louis Riel Day today.

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Filed under manitoba

Watch Movies Together and Spend Time Apart

On Valentine’s Day, Tara Parker-Pope published a piece in the New York Times exploring ways that couples can make their relationship last based on research and scientific evidence. Two of her points resonated with me.

  1. Watch movies together and then discuss them. Research has shown that couples can have a much less contentious discussion about issues and ideas on which they have different opinions if they are talking about how characters in a movie dealt with a problem or conflict rather than how they themselves would deal with it.

Dave and I enjoy watching movies together but we have very different tastes and often have very different points of view on the motivations of characters and the value of the ethical decisions they make. Until I read the Parker-Pope article I would never have thought that our post-movie discussions may have helped us stay together.

Dave and I enjoy our shared friendships with other couples
But we also foster friendships on our own

2. Ask less of your relationship instead of more. Parker-Pope says studies show that people who invest substantial time in nurturing bonds with family members and friends have a stronger relationship with their partner because they don’t depend on their spouse or partner for everything. It eases the pressure on a marriage relationship if people have others they can turn to for emotional support. Relationships can be enriched if couples spend time apart pursuing their own interests and friendships.

This is something Dave and I did lots of before the pandemic. We each had our own friends and interests in addition to the friendships and activities we shared as a couple. However during the pandemic, we had to rely on each other more, and while we have handled it frankly better than I thought we might, I think our relationship will be healthier once we can return more fully to our separate activities and friendships.

Valentine’s Day may have passed but advice about maintaining long-lasting relationships is timely year-round.

Other posts………

Missing the People We Used To Be

Bucket List For Marriage

The Big Picture and Finding Your Own Happiness

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Filed under marriage


Kids with less than traditional body shapes often face cruelty and correction not just from peers but from their families. Ellie the heroine of a new award-winning novel for young people called StarFish has been enduring taunts from classmates and judgemental comments from family members for as long as she can remember because of her weight.

Ellie has created a list of Fat Girl Rules to make sure she doesn’t draw too much attention to herself and they just broke my heart. Ellie is a terrific kid, a dog-lover, a poet, a dancer, a loyal friend and a swimmer. She is at the top of her class academically, keeps a journal and is secretly learning to play the piano.

But despite all these great attributes she is constantly being teased and bullied and judged because of her size not only by her peers and perfect strangers but also by her mother and her siblings.

Luckily Ellie has her Dad in her corner and he arranges for her to see a therapist who helps Ellie learn to recognize her own beauty and strength and stand up to those who don’t bother to look for it.

Starfish author Lisa Fipps- photo from her website

What is really sad to think about is that Lisa Fipps the author of StarFish says every incident of bullying and teasing and cruel judgement Ellie experiences in the novel is based on a similar experience of her own.

I thought the free-verse form of this novel worked well with the story. I loved that Ellie found sanctuary in the school library and that she had both an old and a new friend who supported her and accepted her, someone she could truly be herself with.

Body-shaming is not an issue that really has been addressed in many books for kids and StarFish does that. The novel provides a catalyst for teachers, students and families to dialogue about acceptance of those who may not fit the traditional view of what a normal body looks like.

StarFish was recommended by members of a book club I belong to as one of the best and most important novels for young people published in 2021. I can whole-heartedly agree with that evaluation.

Other posts ………….

The Undercover Book List

Three Books- Three Great Sources of Information

A Book is a Dream You Hold In Your Hand


Filed under Books