Monthly Archives: December 2022

2022 in Photos

January- We began a six-month stint of providing regular childcare for our one-year-old granddaughter. What a privilege and a joy!!

Our oldest and youngest grandchildren heading down the hill on a sled together.

February- We enjoyed a belated Christmas gathering in Saskatoon at our son and daughter-in-law’s lovely new home. They were great hosts! We had a wonderful time being outdoors together and enjoying good food, music, games and visiting as a family.

March- I was working on one of the more than a dozen jigsaw puzzles I completed this year. Puzzles were my meditation practice and my therapy in 2022.

April- We enjoyed another fabulous meal at the Amsterdam Tea Room one of our favourite restaurants in the Exchange District of Winnipeg where we live.

It was so lovely this year to return to dining out at all the diverse and excellent eateries in our neighbourhood after a hiatus during the pandemic when we had to be satisfied with ordering take-out from local establishments.

May- We went crocus hunting on an ATV in the Sandilands as guests of our good friends Bill and Marie. We have been friends for more than twenty years.

We had so many terrific times with friends in 2022. We feel blessed and lucky to have all of them in our lives.

June- I attended a lovely luncheon hosted by my friend Marge. Marge organizes a group of Bethel Church attendees who volunteer on a regular basis at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue, cleaning, organizing and pricing goods for sale. I so enjoy both the work I do there and the company of these women.

July- Our son helps his nephew check out some birds during a family vacation at a house we rented in Oak Lake Manitoba.

August – We went to Leamington, Ontario for our niece’s wedding. Here I am celebrating with my four wonderful sisters-in-law.

September- Standing on the southern tip of Canada with my sister during a week-long cycling/wine trip in Essex County Ontario, including a four-day stint on Pelee Island.

October- We celebrated my Dad’s 94th birthday at our home. A big part of my 2022 was spending time several days a week, with Dad, at his nursing home.

November- On Mondays, I taught a course about women in the Bible and how they have been portrayed in art across the centuries in the McNally Robinson Community classroom. I had such an enriching time with the participants.

On Tuesdays in November I presented sessions on the same topic to the residents of Bethel Place, a seniors home connected to my church. It was lovely to connect with these folks and hear their stories.

With my aunt Viola and my son at her birthday party.

December – I flew to Saskatoon to celebrate my aunt’s 100th birthday with her. I have been uniquely blessed in the aunt department on both sides of my family. My eight aunties have been role models, encouragers, supporters and an inspiration to me throughout my life.

With my Aunt Nettie celebrating her 80th birthday
My Aunt Louise with the five copies of my novel she bought
With my Aunt Mary whose name I share as well as her love for family history and good books.

2022 was not all happiness and light. I could readily make a list of the challenges, difficulties and sad events that also marked this year, but I am choosing today to focus on what made this last year a joy and perhaps this post can help you to do that too.

Other posts……….

She’s Lived For a Century

Conversation and Memories

Join My Class At McNallys

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Using Newspapers to Create Art of Exquisite Beauty

Canadian artist Myriam Dion recycles old newspapers into intricate works of art that simply take your breath away. She makes tiny precise cuts in the pages of newspapers to create meaningful masterpieces. You can find some on display now in the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The name and date of the newspaper Myriam uses for each artwork are hidden somewhere in every piece. If you look carefully at the top of this photo you can see this one was from an August 2020 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

The page in the newspaper that inspired this artwork was describing the wildfires in California. Myriam often tries to pick appropriate colours and designs that convey something of the story. Here she has used the reds and oranges of the fire and the edge of the artwork looks sooty and singed.

Myriam usually includes some images that relate to the story on the page she uses for her artwork. Here you can see people in their cars trying to escape the fires.

Myriam works with an Exacto knife. With bigger works, she sometimes makes a stencil but most of the time, she doesn’t have a pattern figured out ahead of time before she begins cutting. She just improvises and lets the image and the content of the news story guide her hand. Dion says she has been influenced by handicraft arts like weaving, embroidery, lacework and other traditional handicrafts.

In this piece, Myriam has not only cut but has also folded the newspaper as well to create a collar.

If you look closely you can see an image of American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, well known for her rulings that were instrumental in gaining equal rights for women in the United States.

Myriam used a copy of a page from the New York Times June 15th, 1993 issue, the day President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the Supreme Court.

Myriam used a collar shape for her artwork because Ruth Bader Ginsberg was known for the unique collars she wore with her judicial robes.

There are other pieces by Myriam on display in the current Headlines The Art of the News Cycle exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, each as intriguing as these two. You will want to check them out.

Other posts…………

The Wheat Oracle Who Wore Pants

Perfect Companions

I’m Back At Work

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2022- A Banner Year for Lost on the Prairie

Holding my book in my hand for the first time when my author copies arrived in May 2021

Although my book Lost on the Prairie was published in May 2021 and many great things happened for my debut novel that year……… it turns out that 2022 was every bit as exciting for Lost on the Prairie.

Some highlights were………….

Being nominated for a Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award

Being nominated for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

Check out the classy refreshments served at one of the book clubs that invited me as a guest

Meeting with a variety of Winnipeg book clubs who had read the novel, and discovering that several other book clubs including one sponsored by the Envision Community Group in Steinbach were using Lost on the Prairie for a reading selection.

Speaking to the seniors’ group that meets at the Selkirk Library

Being a guest and doing presentations to six different senior groups about the novel.

Continuing to add to the large collection of photos I’ve been sent of people of all ages enjoying my book.

Visiting my son’s grade six class in Langham Saskatchewan

Receiving invitations to be a guest in school classes that were reading Lost on the Prairie.

Having a popular children’s book blog Bit About Books feature Lost on the Prairie as part of its summer reading challenge.

Discovering in May of 2022 that Lost on the Prairie had made the McNally Robinson Bestsellers List for the 14th time.

Receiving this photo from Beena Thomas in Dehli India in July 2022 confirming that my book had now been read in at least six different countries.

Continuing to get kind recommendations for Lost on the Prairie like this one I received just now in December from Carol Penner a poet, pastor and teacher whose daily verse I enjoy on Twitter.

I discovered my novel featured on the shelves of the Millennium Library near my home in May of this year.

Finding my book in all kinds of new places- in libraries and bookstores and people’s homes.

Learning a description of my book and teaching ideas for using it had been included in this catalogue which was sent to 2,500 British Columbia schools.

Developing an ongoing and deep appreciation for the way my publisher Heritage House and especially its brilliant marketing and publicity manager Monica Miller have continued to promote and advertise my novel in all kinds of places and spaces all through 2022.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the attention my book would continue to receive for more than a year and a half after it was published, but it’s just terrific.

I am so grateful to all the people who have shown an interest in Lost on the Prairie, who have read it, bought it, given it as a gift, talked about it with friends, discussed it in book clubs, shared it with school children and have reached out to let me know what they thought about the book.

I do hope that interest continues in 2023 and that the good fortune that has blessed Lost on the Prairie may rub off on my new book Sixties Girl which debuts this coming spring.

Other posts…………

A Bento for My Book

Does It Get Any Better Than This?

Lost on the Prairie in Australia and Saskatoon

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Two Different Earrings- Fashionable or a Faux Pas?

Twice in December, I showed up for work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery only to discover when I looked in the mirror on my arrival, that I had put on two different kinds of earrings at home.

My colleagues who are all much younger than I am reassured me that wearing two different earrings was very cool and fashionable. But I had my doubts. Were they just trying to make me feel better about my absentmindedness?

Then a week or so ago a Christmas parcel arrived from my dear friend Wendy who recently moved to Newfoundland. One of the gifts inside was a lovely pair of earrings that reminded me of the colourful houses I had photographed on our trip to St. John’s in 2016.

And…………the earrings were each different!

I absolutely LOVED them and realized my art gallery colleagues had been right. It was ‘cool’ to wear two different kinds of earrings!!

Visiting with Wendy when she made a quick visit to Manitoba in November

Thanks, Wendy!

Other posts………….

Earrings and Tombstones

My Favourite Necklace

Help Me Choose

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Health Care Heroes

In his Christmas message to Canadians Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid special tribute to the healthcare professionals who continue to do their vital work during the holiday season when many others have time off from their jobs.

The importance of the prime minister recognizing those who work in health care had personal significance for me as I thought about my visits to my father in his nursing home during the Christmas season.

Dad conducting along while the staff as his nursing home sing carols for the residents

At the Christmas party on his ward, I watched as the staff sang carols for the residents, danced with them, hugged them and served them and their family members food.

Dad receiving his blessing from St. Nicholas

One took the role of St. Nicholas and gave a special blessing to each resident. Volunteer instrumentalists serenaded us, while the kitchen staff provided a beautiful array of party food.

Photo of Dad and me at the Christmas party on his ward

The social workers and recreation coordinators went around taking photos of all the residents with their family members who had come to the party.

Dad with three of his children last week

I had arranged to bring Dad to my place last Sunday for a small Christmas gathering of his Winnipeg children. The nursing home staff had made sure Dad was all ready for his outing, had been shaved and bathed, was dressed nicely, had taken his medications, and had his outdoor clothing on hand.

On Christmas Day and Christmas Eve when I visited Dad some of the staff had dressed in Christmas sweaters, and others wore Santa hats. The menu included a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and the ward was decorated with a tree and wreaths and lights.

The ward was fully staffed on both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve and I realized all the people there had forfeited being with their own families to care for the family members of other people including my Dad.

Visiting Dad on Christmas Day

My Dad is in a ward for people with advanced dementia and the work is often challenging and difficult. But the staff are almost unfailingly kind and understanding and always welcoming to us as a family.

They definitely deserve special recognition not only at Christmas but all year round. They are certainly heroes in my eyes.

Other posts……….

Wraggling Along

Our Dad is Dancing

Dad’s Fern

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A Painting for the Globe and Mail

The Toronto Globe and Mail has a tradition of choosing a Canadian work of art to feature every Christmas Eve. This year it was The Bird Shop, St. Lawrence Street, by Maurice Cullen painted in 1920. Although this painting is set in Montreal the artist was born in St. John’s Newfoundland.

It started me thinking about which painting by a Canadian artist I might nominate for next year’s Christmas Eve feature in the Globe and Mail.

Here are five of my nominees.

Early Snow by Tom Thompson -1916-1917 in the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

We think of snow as white. But if you look closely it is a prism of colour. Thompson captures that so beautifully here.

Friends Rejoicing by Daphne Odjig in the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

At Christmas, we celebrate the joy of the birth of a baby. I think this painting captures that beautifully.

Doc Snyder’s House by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald- 1931
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Painted by the only Manitoba member of the Group of Seven this is such a typical Winnipeg winter scene. It makes me feel at home.

Four Generations by Pitaloosie Saliin the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Christmas is a time when there are multi-generational gatherings of families. This depiction of four generations of women by Inuit artist Pitaloosie Sali is one of my favourite pieces in the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection.

Pound Cove Mummers Crossing Coal Harbour Pond by David Blackwood 1985

I love the fact that in different parts of Canada Christmas is marked with different traditions. Here David Blackwood magically captures the tradition of mummering in Newfoundland.

I don’t know if the Toronto Globe and Mail accepts nominations for their Christmas Eve art feature. I’ll have to check it out and see if they would consider one of my suggestions for next year.

Other posts…………

Mummering With A Great Canadian Artist

Good-bye Pitaloosie

Getting to Know L L

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Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Seasons Greetings to all my blog readers.

I appreciate each and every one of you.

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Treat the World Better Than It Treated You

On my last visit to Saskatoon I noticed this quotation written on the blackboard in the back hallway in my son and daughter-in-law’s home.

When you have a bad day, a really bad day, try to treat the world better than it treated you. -Patrick Stump

My daughter-in-law told me it was a mantra often used by her twenty-two-year old cousin, a nurse, who was tragically killed in a car accident in October.

Those words on the blackboard reminded me of something the great American poet Maya Angelou once said……….

Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.

Anyone who has read Maya’s books knows the world was incredibly cruel to her particularly in her childhood, yet she went on to inspire millions with the power of her poetry and its message of love and resilience.

And then there are the words of Michelle Obama spoken at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. When they go low – we go high.

In her new book The Light We Carry she explains that phrase a little more. It means being committed to decency and dignity in everything you do- how you treat others and how you act especially when your back is up against the wall. Some people will always want to take you down but don’t stoop to their level. Go high.

All three phrases remind us to be kind even when others aren’t kind to us.

It’s a tall order but wouldn’t our world be a different place if we all acted on it.

Other posts………

I Almost Saw Maya Angelou in Person

It’s Harder to Hate Up Close

Acts of Kindness and Love

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Christmas Memories

I’ve been inspired by a Holly Harris piece in the Winnipeg Free Press where she interviews musicians about Christmas. One question she asked them was “What is a special Christmas memory you have?”

Singer Steve Bell said it was going to visit the inmates at the prison where his Dad was a chaplain on Christmas Day.

Naomi Woo assistant director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra got married at Christmas.

Cheryl Pauls, a pianist and President of Canadian Mennonite University, remembers a family trip from Ontario to Winnipeg on very icy roads.

Here are some of my memories.

Singing with my cousins at my grandparents’ farmhouse in the little village of Gnadenthal in southern Manitoba in 1958. We performed for our grandparents every year and after we’d done that we got our presents.

Eating pretzels and drinking beer in Bamburg Germany on Christmas Day in 2010.

One of my childhood memories is always getting a brand new dress for Christmas. Here I am in 1963 with my siblings in our new Christmas outfits.

Exploring the Wai Ta Poi thermal fields in New Zealand the Christmas of 2008.

Our youngest son was born just before Christmas in 1985. We had waited for him for a long time.

The pure delight my mother took in being with her family at Christmas. Look at how happy she is in this photo even though she’s probably been working non-stop for weeks to prepare all the food, buy all the gifts and decorate her home.

Visiting the Sydney Opera House in Australia the Christmas of 2009

Selling out all the copies of my book Lost on the Prairie in the Mennonite Heritage Museum gift shop at their Christmas market in 2021.

My Mom with my grandson, her first great grandchild, on the last Christmas before she passed away.

Frosty Christmas walk last year when the pandemic prevented us from getting together with our family.

Other posts………

What’s Microchimerism and What Does It Have To Do With Christmas?

Writing Christmas Memories

Christmas Presents 1971

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Christmas Music That Saved Our Lives

A question Winnipeg Free Press writer Holly Harris asked musicians from our city in her article about the holidays was what music was special to them during the festive season.

Winnipeg music performer Steve Bell said the Christmas song that was the most meaningful to him was In the Bleak Midwinter based on a poem by Christina Rosetti and set to music by Gustav Holst. 

Élise Lavallée the principal violist, for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra said one of her favourites was River written by Joni Mitchell and sung by Sarah McLachlan.

The Christmas song Lo How a Rose is one our family sings every Christmas. Some of you might know the story of how that hymn saved our family’s life. We were living in Hong Kong in 2004 and our children had come to visit us. We had a hotel in Phuket Thailand booked for a family holiday. We were going to fly out on Christmas Eve and had a snorkelling trip arranged for the 26th.

Our family singing Lo How A Rose in our church in Hong Kong

Then John Lemond the pastor of Tao Fong Shan, our church in Hong Kong asked if our family might sing at the Christmas Eve service. We had been to this service before and knew it was a special evening with attendees from fifteen or more countries sharing their Christmas traditions. We thought our children would enjoy it. So we changed our trip plans and left on Christmas Day. We rebooked our snorkelling excursion for the 27th.

Our family singing Lo How A Rose in 2000

We sang the hymn Lo How A Rose at that church service. We had sung it before as a family.

Our family on the waterfront after the tsunami

The tsunami hit on the 26th and we would have been snorkelling out on the ocean right then had we not changed our plans. Luckily our hotel was high on a hill and wasn’t impacted. Of course we never went snorkelling. Thanks to Lo How A Rose we were safe.

Our son and grandson warming up for family Christmas singing

Yesterday I wrote about our family’s tradition of Christmas stockings. Before we open them we sing three or four Christmas carols. One is always Lo How a Rose.

Other posts……..

Christmas Carol Inspiration

In A Child’s Voice

Solstice Carol

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