Author Archives: maryloudriedger

About maryloudriedger

MaryLou Driedger lives in Winnipeg Manitoba where she works as free lance writer, a tour guide in the school programs department at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and a faculty supervisor for the University of Winnipeg's education department. She is a retired teacher who moved to Winnipeg after living and working in Hong Kong for six years.

Dad’s Treasures – Part 7

My brother and I were visiting my Dad yesterday and we both left with some treasures as a result of Dad’s continued efforts to downsize in preparation for a move.  My brother took home several boxes of tools, nails, screws, wires, cords and other items Dad had been keeping just in case he needed to repair something. I took home a samovar.  Dad said he wanted me to have it because I am the only one of his children who has visited Ukraine and that’s where he got it.  In 1971 my Dad made a trip to Ukraine with my grandfather.  They travelled with a tour group of other Mennonites and the emphasis was on visiting sites that related to the history of the Mennonites in Ukraine.  My grandfather was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Canada in the 1920s.

This is the only photo I have of  Dad and Grandpa on their trip to Ukraine. Grandpa is second from the left and Dad is second from the right and I imagine the others are local residents of Ukraine. 

In 1971 travel in Ukraine was still fairly restricted. My Dad said although he and Grandpa were offered a chance to travel with a guide to the small village of Gnadenthal where my grandfather’s family had lived, Grandpa was leery about leaving the larger tour group.  He wasn’t sure it would be safe. His experiences prior to leaving Ukraine had been so violent and his escape so narrow that he still felt a sense of risk being back in the country.  My grandmother who also immigrated with her family in the 1920s had absolutely no interest in going back to a place she had left amid a time of conflict, famine and terror and I think she worried the whole time my father and my Grandpa were gone that they might not come back. By the time Dave and I visited Ukraine in 2011 we traveled freely and even had a picnic on my grandparents’ farmyard in Gnadenthal.  

Having the samovar in my home will be a good reminder of my family’s roots in Russia and the trips both my father and I made to the country that was our ancestors’ home for over a century. 

Other posts………

Dad’s Treasures Part 5- A Tender Photo?

Dad’s Treasures Part 1- The Cowbell

Dad’s Treasures Part 6- My Polio Vaccine

Dad’s Treasures Part 2-Medical Bag

Dad’s Treasures Part 3- A Hymnal

Dad’s Treasures Part 4- A Fern

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Filed under Family, Ukraine

Why Is It Called Remembrance Day?

A child’s burned tricycle I photographed at the Peace Museum in Hiroshima

Adult: Tomorrow is Remembrance Day.

Child: Why is it called Remembrance Day?  What should we remember?

Adult: We should remember that many people have died in wars, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War I and World War II, the Boer War, the Crusades, the battle that Joshua fought at Jericho.  We should remember that whenever there is war soldiers die, grandparents die, parents die, and most sadly of all children die. 

Child: You mean children like me? 

Adult: I mean children like you. 

Child: I’m glad those wars are over and children aren’t dying anymore.

Adult: But they are.  Right now in many places in our world there is war and violence and children are dying. 

Child: That’s very sad, but I guess there is nothing I can do about that.

Croatian child at his father’s funeral during the war in 1991. Photo by Ron Haviv. I photographed it at a museum in Dubrovnik last month. 

Adult: Oh but there is. 

Child: There is?

Adult:  Yes, on Remembrance Day the most important thing for each person to think about is what they can do to bring peace to the world. 

Child:  I’m just a kid. There’s nothing I can do to bring peace to the world. 

Adult: You’re wrong about that.  Have you ever thrown a little stone into a pond, or a puddle or a lake?

Child: Sure. Lots of times.

Adult: And what happens?

Child:  The stone makes a splash and then these little ripples spread out around it and keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. 

Adult: That’s just how peace works. Our world would be a much safer and happier place if everyone would try their very hardest to get along peacefully with the people they work with and play with and live with. 

Child: You don’t mean people like my sister? She’s not always so easy to get along with. 

Adult: That’s exactly what I mean! Peace in the world starts by trying to bring peace to families and schools and playgrounds and neighbourhoods.

Sisters playing with a skipping rope on their floating boat home. I photographed them in Halong Bay Vietnam

Child: You mean trying not to fight with other kids at school or home is going to make a difference?

Adult: You bet it is! Countries are made up of families and communities. Peaceful homes and communities make for peaceful countries and peaceful countries make up a peaceful world. 

Child: So what you are saying is that I can be that little stone that starts all kinds of peace ripples out into the world? 

Adult: Absolutely!

Child:  Hey that’s pretty awesome! I can be a peacemaker. 

Adult:  Not just you. Everyone can be a peacemaker; children, teachers, parents, neighbours, communities, cultures and countries. 

Child:  I guess it’s not that easy a thing is it, for everyone to live in peace with each other?

Adult: It’s a very hard thing. People have been working at it since time began. 

Child: Is it possible?

Adult: We have to believe that it is. 

Friends I photographed at an elementary school in Bali 

Child: So it is up to me to try to get along peacefully with my friends, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my teachers and the people in my neighbourhood. 

Adult: That’s right!

Child: I’ll sure try. 

Adult: That’s all anyone can do. 

Child: So that’s what Remembrance Day is all about. It is remembering that war is a terrible thing that causes sadness and pain. It is remembering that I can do my part to bring peace to the world. 

Adult: You’ve got it exactly right! Now you know what to remember on Remembrance Day.

Soldiers graves I photographed at the Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong including those of many Canadians 

Other posts…….

Remembrance Day Images

Utah Massacre Remembered

War is Hell For Children

 

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Filed under Holidays

What a Saskatchewany Place

 We spent a couple of hours at the new children’s museum in Saskatoon last Saturday with our grandsons. It is called The Wonder Hub. What I thought was so cool about the place is how ‘Saskatchewany’ they have made it. Potash is one of Saskatchewan’s key natural resources. In this photo, I am wearing my hard hat in the potash mine in the basement of the museum where kids can drive mining carts, examine mineral samples under microscopes, shovel potash up a conveyer belt and ride the elevator down the mine shaft. Upstairs there is a play area with bridges designed to look like the ones in Saskatoon, a northern lights display near the ceiling kids can manipulate and change with levers and an area where kids use all five senses to explore Saskatchewan’s national parks.

Log cabin my three-year-old grandson built

There is a North Woods area where visitors can build log cabins, go fishing in a real boat complete with life jackets, hang out in a tent or read books under trees.  

I have been to a number of children’s museums with my grandkids but this one in Saskatoon really stands out because it is so ‘Saskatchewany’.  The next time you are in Saskatoon check it out.  It’s for kids of all ages!

Other posts…….. 

A Pool of Possibilities in Our Own Backyard

A Unique Discovery on the Banks of the Saskatchewan

Beauty in Ordinary Things

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Filed under Childhood

Looking at the Positive

Someone posted this meme on Facebook this week along with the comment that things in our world are spiralling downward. They wondered what had happened to kindness, respect and lending a helping hand in our world.  I responded to this meme which I think is probably being promoted by those who have strong opinions about the abortion and assisted dying issue by saying……….

“It is important to keep in mind that things are improving. The abortion rate in Canada has been steadily dropping for almost a decade now. The infant mortality rate in the world has been cut in half in the last two decades.

There has been a steady increase in the number of hospices and death doulas in North America. These services help families as a loved one’s life ends and the opportunities we offer seniors for quality of life would be envied in many countries of the world I have traveled to.

As to your comments on this meme- my experience has been that most people are basically kind and respectful. A recent study showed that 90% of people will stop to help a stranger they see in trouble. I know we still have a long way to go but I think it is important to not only look at the negative but also the positive to give ourselves hope and faith in a brighter future.”

I think that rather than wallowing in ‘how bad things are’, and I will admit I can easily do that too, we would be better served by taking actions that give us hope. If you think life in the womb isn’t being respected advocate politically and in other ways for free birth control, more comprehensive sex education in schools, more daycare spaces and financial support for struggling post-secondary students. These are all well-researched ways to lower the abortion rate.  Give money to organizations bringing better health care, prenatal care, vaccinations for childhood diseases, better sanitation facilities and clean water to places in the world where too many children still die.  These agencies abound and we can support them with our donations. 

My husband taking his Dad for a walk

If you are worried about seniors you can volunteer at a nursing home or make sure you are visiting aging relatives as often as you can. You can advocate for more services for seniors in your community or volunteer to offer those services using your skillset. You can raise money for a hospice in your community or provide support to a family that is dealing with the terminal illness of one of its members. 

And as far as kindness, respect and lending a helping hand goes- teach those values to your children, make sure they see you behaving in that way. Find opportunities to highlight, applaud and thank people who do extend kindness, respect and a helping hand. 

I don’t think things in our world will get better if we paint a dark picture and fail to look for goodness, light and forward progress. It’s there.  We just need to see it and talk about it and keep things moving in a positive direction. 

My Facebook connection who posted the meme respectfully read my comments and she responded in a positive way, seeing the value in my sentiments.  I appreciated that. 

Other posts………

Good News

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Filed under Reflections

The Color Purple- God in Every Living Thing

God not some gloomy old man like the pictures you’ve seen of him.
God, not a man at all.
God is inside you and everyone else
That was or ever will be.
We come into this world with God.
But only them who look inside find it.
God is the flowers and everything else
That was or ever will be.
And when you feel the truth so real,
And when you love the way you feel, you’ve found it
Just as sure as moonlight bless the night.
Like a blade of corn,
Like a honeybee,
Like a waterfall,
All a part of me.
Like the color purple,
Where does it come from?
Open up your eyes,
Look what God has done.

We saw the musical The Color Purple at the Manitoba Theatre Centre on Wednesday night.  The signature song The Color Purple brought tears to my eyes and as soon as I got home I looked up the words and purchased the music. Then I scrolled through photos I’d taken to find the color purple in nature. 

I keep thinking what a different world it would be if we all believed as the song says that God is in us, in other human beings and in every living thing. 

Other posts………

Two Poets on Prayer

Go To The Park

Living Beings Just Like Us?

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Filed under Religion, Theatre

Kindred Spirits

Last week I spent a morning in Carmen Manitoba talking to a group of some twenty -five women about my life and travels.  Susan Mooney had invited me to speak. She and her husband Tom are long-time residents of Carmen, but Tom’s parents Isaac and Lottie Mooney lived in the Steinbach area from 1944-1980.  One Christmas Lottie gave her son Tom and his wife Susan a gift subscription to The Carillon and they have been subscribers ever since. Susan has been reading my newspaper column Viewpoint since I first began writing it in 1985.  She had always wanted to meet me and decided inviting me to Carmen, as a speaker for her women’s group, would be a way to do that.

I was interested to learn that the group, which meets at the Carmen United Church, has been in existence for almost forty years. Every Wednesday they invite a speaker to make a presentation and then they ask questions and have a discussion. In the weeks prior to my October visit, Theresa Oswald, a former Manitoba Health Minister had been a speaker as had Jean Friesen a university professor and spokesperson for the Treaty Relations Committee of Manitoba. The week following my visit Nilufer Rahman a Muslim community builder and filmmaker was scheduled as the guest and after her retired Canadian senator, Joanne Buth was speaking.  I was told authors Miriam Toews and recent Governor General award winner Joan Thomas had presented in past years.

The women began their meeting by introducing themselves and then answering a question posed by Susan Mooney. She said since she had always wanted to meet me she wondered who might be a person the other women had always wanted to meet. A number thought they would like to meet Queen Elizabeth while several named favorite childhood authors like Lucy Maude Montgomery, Beatrix Potter, and A.A. Milne. Others mentioned the Dali Lama, Michelle Obama, Margaret Atwood, and Eric Clapton. One woman was looking forward to meeting a refugee family that would be arriving in Carmen shortly. Hearing the women’s answers was a great way for me to get to know the group a little better. I told them I already felt like we were kindred spirits. 

In my talk, I used examples from my own life to expand on an idea I was first introduced to at my son’s university graduation many years ago.  On the journey of life we have a choice to be pilgrims or tourists.  Which will we be?   After my presentation, the women asked questions and made comments and their ideas and contributions were thought-provoking and meaningful.  During our lively discussion, I learned more about the women’s families, travels, reading preferences, community work and faith affiliations.

The women take turns bringing soup for lunch each Wednesday, so I was treated to a hearty bowl of hot vegetable soup and some fresh bread before beginning my drive back to Winnipeg.  The women in the group are busy with all kinds of other interesting things.  The woman to my left at lunch had come to our meeting from her yoga class and the one on my right told me she was headed off to a community choir practice.

Before I said goodbye the women posed for a photo with me.  I wanted a reminder of my morning with them. I gave Susan Mooney a hug and thanked her for inviting me. Two other women who also happened to be near the church door as I left gave me hugs too.  I left Carmen enriched, blessed and delighted to have spent a morning with such a group of caring, engaged and intelligent women. 

Other posts…………..

Strong Women

I’ve Been A Newspaper Columnist for Decades

Women Were Honored?  Think Again John Kelly. 

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Filed under manitoba, New Experiences, People

Thanks Michael for the Memories of Macau

Last night I went to a photography show created and curated by a talented colleague of mine from the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Michael Veith. Although Michael went to university in Winnipeg and lives and works here now, he grew up in the city of Macau and his parents still make their home there. Most of his photos were taken on a visit to Macau last February. They give you a fascinating taste of this unique city.

Here I am in front of the St. Paul’s church facade in Macau

Since I lived in neighboring Hong Kong for six years I made many visits to Macau. I loved to tour the old parts of the former Portuguese colony, wander through its cemeteries and streets, visit its museums and shops, marvel at the new massive casinos, eat wonderful food, go to shows and people watch.

Stone Skyline by Michael Veith

One of Michael’s photographs captures old and new Macau so well.  It is called Stone Skyline and its focal point is the old stone church of St. Paul’s lit up at night. You can see all the high rises and skyscrapers in the background and way down in the front of the photo is a beautifully lit building in the traditional Portuguese style. 

I loved Michael’s ninety-nine photos of mailboxes in Macau.  He included 99 because 1999 was the year Macau was handed back to China. Like Hong Kong, Macau is a special area region of China. 

Transport by Michael Veith

Another one of my favorites in the exhibit was this unique shot of a bus stop.  

Michael and I had a lovely chat about Macau. We both love an excellent traditional Portuguese restaurant in Macau called Fernando’s. Michael was there just last year and assured me that while many things about Macau have changed Fernando’s has not.  

Michael’s wonderful photographs brought back so many memories of Macau. They have me rummaging through my southeast Asia photo albums, opening old journals, and scanning my computer photo library for images and memories of the city.  You can expect to see them in an upcoming blog post. 

Mainland Calling by Michael Veith

I think Michael’s show is on for at least a couple more nights at The Forth coffeeshop on McDermot in the Exchange.  Why not head on down and learn more about Macau from Michael and his amazing photos. 

Other posts……..

St. Boniface and Macau Have Things in Common

New Laws for the New Year

A Walk in My Old Neighborhood

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Filed under Hong Kong