Monthly Archives: April 2023

Ten Moments of Wonder

The CBS show Sunday Morning always ends its programming with a full minute of immersion in some natural setting, where all you hear and see are beautiful sounds and images of nature.

It is a peaceful and calming moment to catch your breath and marvel at creation. Here are some of my favourite photos of those kinds of moments in nature I’ve experienced that made me feel whole and calm and full of wonder.

Watching the sunrise from our kitchen window in Praia da Luz Portugal
Coming upon deer on the Harte Forest Trail in Winnipeg
Watching a swan glide across Lake Konstanz in Germany
Chilling in a waterfall in Costa Rica
Holding a chickadee in my hand in the Assiniboine Forest
Looking at a rainbow forming from the balcony of our house in Monteverde Costa Rica
Stopping to rest on a hike on the Peralta Trail in Arizona with my friend Sue
Walking through a graveyard in the early morning mist in Iceland
Walking an unmarked trail along the ocean in Newfoundland
Watching my sons and some of their cousins gathered on the shore of Lake Erie on Pelee Island at sunset

Other posts……….

Hugging the Cliffs in Hermanus South Africa

Just to be Alive on This Fresh Morning

The Clouds of Winnipeg

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In Recovery Mode

Talking with the ever delightful, incredibly supportive and hugely successful children’s author Colleen Nelson who interviewed me at the launch of my novel Sixties Girl

I will write more about the launch of my novel Sixties Girl in a future blog post but for today I’m kind of in recovery mode.

Photo from McNally Robinson’s Twitter feed

I had a wonderful time at my launch. As the McNally post on Twitter said it was “standing room only.”

Signing a book for my niece

There were people there from my family- siblings, in-laws, cousins, children, aunties, a niece, my husband Dave, people from my church family, former teaching colleagues, lots of friends, loyal supporters from the writing community, people I went to high school with, people I went to university with, people who I taught at one time, and some people I’d never met before who had read my first book or follow my blog.

With my daughter-in-law, son and husband at the launch

My husband Dave, in a signature move, spontaneously invited some friends over after the launch which was lovely but it meant I stayed up too late and perhaps drank a little more wine than I should have.

Gorgeous flowers from my friend Harriet and marvellous pop-up card made by my friend Debbie- look at all the details in the card each one related to my book in some way

So today I’m in recovery mode. I’ll go to the gym. Do the crossword in Saturday’s paper, pop in and see my Dad and maybe even start a new jigsaw puzzle.

With my fabulous aunties- Louise, Nettie and Millie

Thanks so much to everyone who came to my launch. If you couldn’t be there you can watch it here.

Other posts……….

Launching a Book

A Love Letter to McNally Robinson Booksellers

Colleen is Coming


Filed under Sixties Girl

What Would You Tell Your Grandchildren About Your Childhood?

Yesterday I was a guest on the CTV Morning Live show being interviewed about my book Sixties Girl. I talked about how in my novel, a grandmother tells her grandson stories about her childhood.

The CTV Morning Live program always has a Question of the Day and in recognition of my interview, the question for yesterday was………

My grandparents with their four oldest grandchildren

What stories from your youth would you like to share with your grandchildren? Here is how some viewers answered.

How much I could buy with a dollar.

How we played outside for hours and hours and only went home to eat and get ready for bed.

How I loved getting my first library card.

How I took a trip across Canada with my parents.

How we drank from the garden hose.

How we drove in cars without any seatbelts on.

How we had rotary telephones with curly cords.

How we went to a one-room school and the kids in the older grades helped the kids in the younger grades.

How I went rabbit hunting with my snowshoes.

My husband’s parents with their grandchildren

What would you tell your grandchildren about your childhood?

Other posts………..

My Grandmother’s Childhood

Granny Stories

A Dress From the Catalogue


Filed under Sixties Girl

Too Nervous To Really Write

I should have written this blog post yesterday but I was busy working at the art gallery all day, then picked up my granddaughter from her daycare and had loads of fun playing with her for a few hours before sharing supper with her family.

Virtual interview on CTV in 2021 about my first novel

I spent the rest of my evening preparing for my interview on CTV this morning about my novel Sixties Girl. I’m pretty nervous about it because I know from the one I did about my last book Lost on the Prairie that they can ask you all kinds of questions that aren’t on the ‘prep’ sheet your marketing manager submitted. And this one is in person which seems far more daunting somehow than the one I did for my first book which was virtual.

I was heartened yesterday to hear that for the second week in a row, Sixties Girl has made the bestseller list at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

And yesterday I sent out my monthly author newsletter with lots of good news about the novel. You can read it here.

I know I’m going to have a great afternoon because Thursday is the day of my Art To Inspire class at the Winnipeg Art Gallery which I ABSOLUTELY love teaching. I will write another blog post about that in the future.

My writing group at our Christmas party at my house in December

And I know I’m going to have a great evening because my writers’ group The Anita’s is meeting and they never fail to inspire and encourage me.

I hope to see some of my blog readers at my launch tomorrow at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 7 pm.

Right now I’m too nervous to write a real blog post so this will have to do.


Filed under Sixties Girl

10 Winnipeg Favourites

Assiniboine Park

In Assiniboine Park with my parents in the 1950s.

The Folk Festival

At the Folk Festival with my husband at Birds Hill Park in 2011

Noodle Express Restaurant

Enjoying the best won ton mein in Winnipeg at Noodle Express on King Street

Winnipeg Art Gallery

Doing art with children at the Winnipeg Art Gallery where I work

The River Skating Trail

With one of the warming huts on the trail in 2012


Having fun with my friend Merle at the Portugal Pavilion in 2016

McNally Robinson Book Sellers

Checking out a book I wrote on the shelf at McNallys in 2023

The Leaf

With my friend Marie at the new Leaf conservatory January 2023

Between Wolf and Dog Sculpture

With one of my most beloved Winnipeg public works of art by Joe Fafard at the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden on Provencher Boulevard

Fort Whyte

Making a beard with the hair shed by the bison at Fort Whyte

Other posts……….

A Personal Winnipeg Alphabet

A Love Letter to McNally Robinson Booksellers

Bison Safari

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5 Book Questions

I missed World Book Day on Sunday but thought I’d recognize it belatedly by answering some book questions I’m often asked.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading a book recommended by author Dora Dueck. It is called All the Beauty in the World. It was written by Patrick Bringley who worked for ten years as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

This is the perfect book for me because I am a writer and I work at an art gallery and on my one trip to New York City I did visit The Met.

Bringley is a wonderful writer whose descriptions of both the art and people he encounters at the Met are delightful and moving.

I can never decide if I love working at the Winnipeg Art Gallery more because of the fabulous art I get to know intimately or because of the fascinating people I meet so All the Beauty in the World resonates deeply with me.

What book will you be reading next?

My friend Roger Groening has asked me to read and review his upcoming book Man in the Meadow. I heard Roger read an excerpt at a literary event in summer and I’m anxious to read more. I chuckled my way through Roger’s first novel Knuckleball but from the cover this one looks like it has perhaps a darker tale to tell.

What book is your all time favourite?

I’ve written about this before but without a doubt it is The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I love its independent heroine Kit, its historical significance, its touch of romance and I’ve reread it every year for more than fifty years.

Who is your favourite author?

Well that changes. Right now I’m reading everything Elizabeth Strout has ever written. I just love her spare yet richly rewarding style. She is the author of popular books like Olive Kitteridge which was made into a movie and it sequel Olive Again.

I loved the latest in her Lucy Barton series Lucy by the Sea.

I’ve started reading some of her older books like Abide With Me and she has other older books I’d like to read too.

What is a book that was turned into even a better movie?

I don’t think there are many. I always prefer to read a book before I see the movie.

I would have to say however that for me three exceptions to the rule that the book is always better than the movie would have to be Jaws by Peter Benchley, Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy and The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

Do you prefer to read e-books, hard copy books or audio books?

I prefer to read hard copy books as a general rule.

But when we travel somewhere on a plane I load books up on my e-reader because especially if we are going to be away for an extended time like we were in Africa recently I just can’t take that many books along.

I also have started reading at the gym on the bicycle and stepper and my e-reader is much handier to use there as well.

When Dave and I are on a car trip we like to listen to audio books. It makes the time go by faster and gives us something to discuss when we stop for meal breaks.

Our latest car read was The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles the author of A Gentleman in Moscow.

I’d love to hear what your answers would be to any or all of these book questions.

What are you reading?

What are you going to read next?

What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

Do your prefer e-books, audio books or the real thing?

Other posts about books……..

Mad Honey- I Can’t Say Too Much

Personal Connections For the Win

A Town Called Solace


Filed under Books

The Pacing of Time

My Mom as a baby

When as a child I laughed and wept       

Time crept

My mother with her best friend Millie around 1943 in dresses they had made for themselves

When as a youth I dreamed and talked

Time walked

Mom and Dad on a trip to Africa

When I became a full-grown man

Time ran

My Mom with her family in 2008

And later as I older grew

Time flew

My family gathers at my mother’s grave just before her memorial service in 2013.

Soon I shall find while traveling on

Time gone.

The poem above called Time’s Paces which I have illustrated with photos of my mother’s life was written by Henry Twell. It was found on an old clock in the Chester Cathedral in England and was originally published in a hymnal in 1901. I first heard it performed as a musical piece.

I think I am already at the stage described in the second last stanza of the poem where time is flying.

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the different ways I am spending my time as it flies by. Should I be making some changes?

Other posts…………

The Purpose of Life

Three Actions for a Good Life

Life Symbols

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Feeling Left Out

I currently live just a few blocks away from the St. Boniface area of Winnipeg. I often walk or drive there. I lived in St. Boniface for a year as a child and attended Marion School.

Marion School -photo from the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation website

A priest came to visit our class once a week to provide instruction in the Catholic faith. My parents, good Mennonites that they were, asked that I be excluded from these lessons. Whenever the priest arrived, I was sent to sit alone at a desk in the dark and often chilly hallway.

I had only my Dick and Jane reader for company. For thirty minutes I would shiver out there letting my imagination run wild, wondering what the priest could be talking to the boys and girls about that was so strange and disturbing my parents didn’t want me to hear it. 

My class at Marion School with our teacher Ms Bourreau.

Then came the day everyone went to the nearby St. Boniface Basilica with the priest to practice for their First Communion. Off trooped the boys all spiffy in their shiny shoes and dark pants. The girls waved goodbye to me as they flounced out of the room in pretty dresses, with their lace head squares perched atop their ringlets.

That day I was allowed to go back into the classroom after the other children had left. I sat there alone for what seemed like a very long time, with only the hissing radiator for companionship. I felt lonely and “left out.”

We moved to the town of Steinbach in 1960 when I was eight. I knew we were going to live in a predominantly Mennonite community. No doubt it would be a place where I would “fit in” a little better, at least when it came to matters of faith.  

Mural in downtown Steinbach with an image of Kornelson School which I photographed

I was soon to find out that this was not the case. My parents had taken me to see only two movies in my lifetime Bambi and Mary Poppins. I quickly discovered mentioning this to other children in my class at the old white clapboard Kornelson school was a big mistake. “People who go to movies, go to hell,” I was told by another student. 

My grade three class at the Kornelson School in Steinbach

I loved my grade three teacher Mrs Kihn immediately. She was fair and kind and seemed to genuinely like me despite the fact I hadn’t learned how to multiply in my grade two class in Winnipeg and was behind in math. Yet some of my Mennonite classmates made fun of my affection for my teacher and told me in a shocked whisper she was a Lutheran.

Did I realize they wondered, that the tin containers where our teacher kept those colourful little pegs we used to figure out our math problems, were really tobacco cans? Our teacher’s husband smoked. My classmates let me know this was another sure ticket to hell. Although no one in my family smoked, my parents had never told me the behaviour was sinful.

Obviously, I had plenty to learn about what was right and wrong if I wanted to be accepted in Steinbach. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it would probably be best not to mention the fact that my grandfather served homemade wine for Christmas dinner or that some of my aunts wore lipstick.  

The old Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach which I attended- This building has since been demolished

I also learned to keep quiet about which church I attended. The Grace Church was known as the ‘TV Church’ by many in Steinbach because a goodly number of the members had succumbed to worldly temptation and bought television sets.

I had been an ‘outsider’ in my predominantly Catholic school in Winnipeg, but I learned quickly that if I wasn’t careful ‘outsider’ status was just as easy to achieve in predominantly Mennonite Steinbach. 

Reflecting on these childhood experiences as an adult has helped me put them into perspective.  I think probably the exclusion I felt as a child made me try very hard as a teacher to include all children so no one would feel ‘left out’ in the classes I taught, no matter what their cultural or religious heritage.

It has coloured my own faith, making me more open to learning from those of other religious backgrounds. I think it has made me less ready to pass judgement.

My experiences of feeling excluded in both St. Boniface and Steinbach inspired chapters in my new novel Sixties Girl. It is available in Steinbach at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum Gift Shop and in Winnipeg at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Other posts……..

My First Home in Steinbach

Living at the Hospital

Mitchell School Annivesary


Filed under Education, Religion

It’s Earth Day

Did you know today is Earth Day? First held on April 22, 1970, it has become a global celebration embracing more than one billion people in 193 countries.

It’s a day when people are encouraged to do something good for the environment. I found a few photos that illustrated some things our family has done.

Planting trees for a reforestation project in Borneo with our students while Dave and I were teachers in Hong Kong.

Going on an educational tour to learn more about the Cloud Forest a protected conservation area in Costa Rica.

Cleaning up trash from a beach with my Hong Kong students

Trying to bike places rather than take our car.

Volunteering at a thrift store where donated items are sold for reuse.

Writing a series of blog posts about four trees in our neighbourhood over the course of a year to show the importance of appreciating and protecting the city’s trees.

Participating in Earth Day celebrations in Winnipeg.

Visiting a bird rehabilitation centre in Croatia to learn about how they are saving birds of prey and returning them to the wild.

Trying to instil a love and appreciation and respect for nature in our kids with lots of family outings in the great outdoors.

Trying to foster that same love and appreciation in our grandkids.

These are only little things and I know we should be doing more, but on Earth Day perhaps it is good to look at what we ARE doing to give us all a little hope.

Other posts…………

The Clouds of Winnipeg

Taking a Moment at the Marsh

The Lake is Like Glass

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Africa On Display

This week I have been choosing photographs from the ones my husband Dave took on our safari in Tanzania to make a wall display. I’ve decided to feature these. Which is your favourite?

Other posts………

So Many Animals- The Trip of a Life Time

Giraffes For My Granddaughter

A Rare and Momentous Occasion


Filed under Africa