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.

My Talented Friends

The other day I found this photo of my talented friend Marge on Facebook with a quilt she had designed. Her niece had posted the photo of the quilt.  Marge has designed and stitched so many beautiful quilts.  

That started thinking about all the very talented friends I have. 

My friend John takes pictures of flowers. Look at one of his stunning photos.

My friend Audrey is amazing at food presentation. Look at one of the meal courses I have enjoyed at her house.

My friend Debbie creates unique and meaningful cards.  Look at one of the beautiful personalized birthday cards I’ve received from her.

My friend Glenys sets a picture-perfect table. Look at this beautiful table setting.

 My friend Ed makes things out of wood. Look at these amazing music stands he built.My friend and cousin Lynne is a wizard with the sewing machine. Look at the cool hats and scarves she made for us and for our grandson because she knew about his passion for dinosaurs. 

My friend Mitch writes stories.  Here he is reading one of his stories that is a favourite of mine. 

My friend Esther is an artist.  Look at one of her lovely sketches. My friend Christina is a very crafty person. 

Look at this unique notebook she designed and created. 

My friend and cousin Sharon makes mosaics out of broken china and glass.

Look at this detailed and breathtakingly beautiful piece of hers called Winter Sun From the Ski Trail

I have so many talented friends and family members.  They inspire me!

Other posts………

An Artist in the Family 

Prosetry

Getting Crafty for Christmas

When Did You Stop Drawing?

 

 

 

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Making Memories

It is still almost a month until my birthday, but my friends decided we would celebrate this past Saturday when we could still safely meet outdoors. And what a beautiful day we had! We were also celebrating my friend Esther’s birthday which is actually this week.
My friend Glenys hosted us in her gorgeous backyard. It the loveliest of places lined with trees filled with songbirds and there’s a pond that has soothing running water. You can choose to relax in any of the multiple arrangements of comfy sitting areas and it was easy to social distance and still have an intimate conversation.

My friends had bought me such thoughtful presents. Esther gave me a beautiful pen. She said she wanted me to use it to sign copies of my novel when it is published this coming spring. I am turning 67 so my friend Debbie had given me an embroidered bag with seven individually wrapped gifts inside- all things from the Steinbach area where the members of our friend group taught together at Elmdale School at one time. There were lots of food items from local establishments, a copy of The Carillon the local paper I work for as a columnist and a package of chocolate chip cookies Debbie had baked herself. My friend Glenys had prepared a large bag filled with fall delights for both birthday girls.  I received a tasteful autumn centrepiece for my table, some pumpkin cookies from a local bakery and a bag of flavoured coffee. 

There was a beautiful cake decorated with fall leaves. Don’t you just love the way the tree on the yard is reflected in the table glass? The cake was an Earl Grey lemon flavour.  Delightful!

My group of friends and I call ourselves the T-4s and when I don’t write about us for a while I get queries from my blog readers to do another story about one of our get-togethers.  Last winter we couldn’t meet for a long time because of pandemic restrictions and that may happen again this coming winter.  But if it does we will have a lovely September day of visiting and celebrating to remember until we are able to meet again. 

Other posts about the T-4s

 

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A Pandemic Summer

 Today is officially the last day of summer so I thought I’d do a round-up of our summer adventures. We went hiking in Lockport and visited the historic Kennedy house on River Road. We went on many walks in the St. Boniface Forest.

We had weekly golf dates together, often inviting another couple to join us. We golfed with Grace and Gerald, Brian and Merle, Rod and Lynne, Mark and Morgan, Bruno and Caroline, Les and Shannon, and Reg and Ingrid.

We went quadding and crocus hunting in the Sandilands with our friends Bill and Marie.

I signed a publishing contract for my novel.

Dave’s ball team won a provincial title.

I attended a wonderful outdoor concert in the backyard of a lovely home on the river.

Dave met regularly with his beer club. 

We went bird watching with our friends Fran and Marge. We went to an alternative Folk Festival on the farm of friends Ruth and Roger

We went hiking on Tunnel Island near Kenora with friends and family. We spent a few days at Gull Harbor Resort on Hecla Island with friends. We did tons of biking and discovered all kinds of interesting public art in the city. On a couple of our bike rides, friends came in from Steinbach to join us and were amazed at how many and varied bike paths Winnipeg offered. I visited my Dad several times a week. I went to check out one of my childhood homes and was surprised at what I discovered. I preached sermons in two different churches. We watched lots of beautiful sunsets while having a glass of wine on our rooftop patio in the evenings.

Besides that…………. we shared weekly outdoor meals with our son and his wife. I met with my book club and writers group regularly, usually by Zoom, but a couple of times out of doors.  I wrote several short stories and daily blog posts.

Dave golfed with three different groups each week and played pickleball a couple of times a week. He went birding and on long bike trips with other serious bikers at least once a week.  

We had many great meals with friends on restaurant patios or on our rooftop patio or in their backyards. We had a farewell family wiener roast for my brother and his partner who moved to Victoria. We visited friends with cottages at Hillside Beach, Louise Lake, Falcon Lake, and Jessica Lake. We both read lots of books and enjoyed Face Time conversations with our children and grandchildren in Saskatoon.  

This summer was very different than most others. I could have filled this blog post with all the things we couldn’t do this summer, all the things we would have liked to do or had planned to do but the pandemic prevented us from doing.  Instead, I decided to focus on the things we DID do.  It was a pretty good summer!

Other posts……….

A Different Kind of July

A Different Kind of Folk Festival 

Crocus Hunting in the Sandilands

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My Novel’s Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a thirty-second description that tries to hook someone’s interest. It provides a quick overview of a product, event, or person. An author uses an elevator pitch to interest editors and publishers in their book. The term ‘elevator pitch’  gets its name from the fact that a good pitch shouldn’t last longer than an elevator ride.  

As many of you know I have signed a contract to have my novel Lost on the Prairie published in the spring of 2021. Many people have asked me what my novel is about. Here are a couple of the elevator pitches I’ve used to try to sell my book to editors.

Hopefully, these elevator pitches will give you a pretty good idea of what my novel is about and will get you interested in reading it.

Pitch #1

Twelve-year-old Peter is immigrating to Saskatchewan from Kansas in 1907. He is travelling in a boxcar with his family’s horses. Peter’s car becomes uncoupled from the rest of the train on the Lake Traverse First Nation in South Dakota, leaving Peter lost and alone on the prairie. His quest to reunite with his family is filled with excitement and danger. In Lost on the Prairie Peter grows ever more resourceful, courageous, and self-reliant. His action-packed coming of age story gives a personal face to the wave of young immigrants who came seeking homes in western Canada at the turn of the century. Pitch #2

It is 1907 and twelve- year old Peter is on the adventure of a lifetime.  He will tangle with a copperhead snake, survive a Ferris wheel accident, almost drown, escape quicksand in a haunted forest, rescue livestock from a barn fire, meet the famous author Mark Twain and get trapped in Winnipeg’s Immigration Hall. Peter experiences all these things after the boxcar he is riding in uncouples from the rest of the train leaving him alone on the prairie. Will Peter ever be able to rejoin his brothers and his parents?  Lost on the Prairie is a fast-paced historical novel for middle graders, but it also tells a contemporary and timely story about an immigrant child suddenly separated from his family. 

Hope that twigs your interest and whets your appetite for my book. 

Other posts about my novel……….

Thank You Mystery Editor

A Published Novel. Can You Believe It?  

She’s Inspirational

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Remembering the Holocaust in Winnipeg

I was biking past the Manitoba Legislative Buildings and saw a monument I’d never noticed before. It was in the shape of a broken Star of David. Taking a closer look I discovered it was a monument built in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust. It was dedicated in 1990. 

The walls were designed to reflect the sunlight since the monument was to be a sign of hope, rebirth and the rebuilding of lives. The names of the 3,700 victims, memorialized on the monument’s walls, all had surviving family members living in Manitoba. 

The legislature of Manitoba was the first in Canada to provide a designated space for a Holocaust Memorial. Philip Weiss, an award-winning Winnipeg furniture maker and craftsman, led the campaign to have the memorial built. Weiss was a Holocaust survivor who was seized from his parents home in Poland by the Nazis when he was just 15 years old and sent to two different concentration camps. The names of various concentration camps are engraved at the base of the monument. 

The monument also includes a menorah and the words These we do remember and our hearts are grieved.  Some people had left memory candles in the space below the menorah. 

I’ve learned that each year on Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Memorial Day there is a service of remembrance at this monument during which each name inscribed on it is read aloud. 

Other posts about the Holocaust………

Meeting a Holocaust Survivor in Hong Kong

Taking Teens to Israel and Palestine

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Nice Guy- Not A Great Writer

Watching the game show Jeopardy is an almost daily ritual in our household. So I was looking forward to reading host Alex Trebek’s autobiography The Answer is…………….. 

The book is a collection of short vignettes. They provide glimpses into Alex’s childhood, career, and family life. Alex is certainly not a ‘woe is me’ kind of person. His childhood was rough. His Dad worked long hours at restaurants and drank heavily. His Mom left the family. His parents got divorced, but Alex is not bitter. He speaks highly of both of his parents and the positive relationships he had with them. 

Alex is a really nice guy but he is not a great writer.  What is kind of refreshing is he knows writing isn’t his forte and it’s one reason he didn’t really want to write his autobiography.  He did it as a kind of thank you letter to his fans who have shown him such tremendous support since he announced his pancreatic cancer diagnosis just over a year ago. 

Alex Trebek with his family after receiving the Order of Canada. -photo from The Answer is…..published by Simon and Schuster

Alex is not your stereotypical Hollywood star if there is such a thing. He and his wife Elaine don’t hobnob with other celebrities or hit the club scene. They stay at home watching movies in the evening and Alex likes to tinker around the house doing repairs and renovations. The couple has two children Matthew a restauranteur and Emily a real estate agent.  During COVID the two have come home to stay with their parents because it gives them an opportunity to spend quality time with their Dad before his death.  The family already has a palliative care plan in place.  

The book informs us that Alex has done lots of charity work and he and his wife are generous donors to many different causes. One of his more interesting crusades has been to save the musk ox from extinction. He is on very amicable terms with his first wife and stepdaughter who regularly spend Christmas with his current family.  When it comes to politics Alex thinks most of America’s problems could be solved if people, especially the wealthy and powerful, had a conscience, showed compassion, and were willing to compromise. 

If you are a Jeopardy fan like I am, you will have been excited this week when the program returned after several months of reruns with a new format that allows for physical distancing.  Alex is back too and wants to keep working as long as he can. In the book, he expresses surprise that no matter how terrible he is feeling somehow he always manages to still do the show.  

There is a ton of white space in this book.  There are plenty of pages with single photos or just a quarter to a half a page of text.   You can pick up the book when you have time and read a section in a couple of minutes. It contains no earth-shattering information.  It won’t win a Pulitzer Prize.  But if you are a Jeopardy fan The Answer Is………. will give you an inside look at a really nice guy who has made the best of his life and is grateful for his professional and more importantly his personal good fortune.

Other posts about autobiographies………… 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Her Worship by Susan Thompson

Becoming by Michelle Obama

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Ten Ways We Can Try To Be Like Jesus During the Pandemic

Appreciate nature- Jesus talked a lot about what we can learn from flowers and birds and seeds

Listen to others- Jesus took the time to talk with many different people with many different life experiences

Drink wine- Jesus turned water into wine for the guests at a wedding

Spend time outdoors – Jesus did most of his teaching and living outside on hillsides and by the seashore

Create – Jesus painted vivid pictures with the stories he created  to help people remember things

Make time for friendship- Jesus had a group of friends he hung out with regularly

Carve out opportunities to just sit and think, read or rest- Jesus would go out on the lake, or into gardens, or even into the desert to think about stuff and take a break

Care for the vulnerable- Jesus took time for kids. He provided healing and hope for people with mental and physical challenges. 

Be open to new ways of doing things- Jesus loved to challenge the old ways of doing things

Believe miracles can happen- Jesus helped people make miracles happen in their lives

Other posts………

Did Jesus Have a Wife? 

The Family of Jesus Portrayed in a Controversial Way

A Grandmother for Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Pandemic in Six Words

Yesterday in his evening newsletter to subscribers Winnipeg Free Press editor Paul Samyn invited readers to tell the story of the pandemic in just six words. Here are some six-word descriptions I wrote this morning.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Masks everywhere but it’s not Halloween.

A grandmother only on Face Time.

Going to church from the couch.

An extra mask in every pocket.

We have hand sanitizer on tap.

Social life cancelled until further notice.

Masks, the condoms of our time.

Choir practice alone in the shower.

Hugging and kissing put on hold.

Elderly with dementia due to loneliness.

Kids in school six feet apart.

Windows open, businesses closed, hope ajar.

 

How would you describe the pandemic in six words?

Other posts……………….

At Sixes and Sevens

Six Interesting Things About Lisbon

Six Things That Help Me Stay Positive About the World

 

 

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What An Inspiration!

What an inspiration!  She signed her first publishing contract when she was 66 years old.  Just like me! Now at age 85, Beryl Young’s seventh book will soon be out in bookstores. It’s a poetry picture book for children about whales.  In June when I began talking with Heritage House about the contract for my novel Lost on the Prairie, a writing friend suggested I call Beryl Young whose book Miles to Go had been published by Heritage House in 2018.  It was actually reading Beryl’s book Miles to Go that gave me the idea my novel might be a good fit for Heritage House. Miles to Go is a middle-grade novel about two girls growing up in 1948 in a small Saskatchewan town. They are good friends, but their life circumstances couldn’t be more different.  

Beryl who lives in the Vancouver area could not have been kinder or more helpful as she told me about her own career as an author and offered words of wisdom regarding contracts. She filled me in on her experiences working with various publishers.   I obviously wasn’t the first budding children’s author to ask her for advice. She seemed to take delight in sharing her expertise with others.  

Beryl has published all kinds of different books for children. 

Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot? is the catchy title of Beryl’s first picture book published by Peanut Butter Press. It is about a family pet who is at the heart of all kinds of rollicking adventures. 

Beryl has written two biographies. Charlie: A Home Child’s Life in Canada chronicles the life of her father Charlie who came to Canada as an orphan in the early 1900s.The other is A Boy From Acadie and tells the life story of Romeo LeBlanc, Canada’s 25th Governor-General. In Beryl’s novel Follow the Elephant a thirteen old boy from Canada gets lost in Delhi India and in Wishing Star Summer an eleven- year old girl named Tanya visits Vancouver after her family has been impacted by the Chernobyl radiation disaster in Ukraine.  

What a diverse canon of books Beryl has to her name!

I gleaned so much expertise and insight about writing and publishing during my phone conversation with Beryl and from looking at her website. Here are some key things I learned that I want to keep in mind as I work towards the launch of my own book. 

  • Beryl belongs to six different writers’ groups and associations. She takes her commitment to the profession seriously. 
  • She has become something of an expert at finding niche publishers just perfect for her books. 
  • She is an advocate for herself. She makes sure her opinions and ideas are heard and respected during the publishing process. She isn’t afraid to nudge her publishers when she thinks it’s time to move forward on things. 
  • She very actively promotes her books and speaks to all kinds of different groups about them. 
  • She has an attractive, up to date author website.
  • She networks with other authors. 

In fact, Beryl connected me to Harriet Zaidman, a writing friend of hers in Winnipeg. Harriet and I had a delightful lunch together and I had a chance to pick her brain for ideas about writing and book publication. 

Before our phone conversation ended Beryl had invited me to drop in at her British Columbia home.  I just may take her up on that invitation once it is possible to travel again. 

Beryl Young is such an inspiration.  Could I publish a half dozen more books in the next twenty years?  Who knows? 

Other posts about my upcoming novel Lost on the Prairie………..

Thank You Mystery Editor

A Published Novel! Can You Believe It? 

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Filed under Books, Lost on the Prairie, Writing

Winnipeg’s Palace Theatre

I took this photo of the theatre in 2013

I go by the Palace Theatre every week when I go down Selkirk Avenue to volunteer at a thrift shop. The theatre building is all boarded up but it looks like it was a grand place once. 

palace theaterI found out the Palace was designed by Max Zev Blankstein a Jewish architect trained in Odessa, Russia who emigrated to Canada in 1904.  He drew up plans for a number of Winnipeg theatres. The theatre was built by Jacob Miles whose family would become one of the biggest movie theatre operators in Manitoba. 

The Palace Theatre in 1930- photo by Jim Fustey from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

The Palace Theatre in 1930- photo by Jim Fustey from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

The Palace opened in 1912 and was initially a venue for vaudeville performances. According to Russ Gourluck the author of Silver Screens on the Prairie it was also used for meetings of the Ukrainian community as well as the viewing of motion pictures. 

exterior palace theater selkirk avenue

Detailed design on the theatre’s exterior

An addition was built in 1927 adding a balcony and increasing the capacity of the theatre to 800. 

Michael Koster in the Palace Theatre -photo by Raymond Koster- from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

Michael Koster in the Palace Theatre -photo by Raymond Koster- from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

Michael Koster worked in the projection room and it was sometimes so hot in the room that he wore only underwear, socks, and shoes.

the-green-hornet-serialJack Baturin a North End resident recalls kids attended Saturday shows that began at 10:00 am and many kids sat twice through the cowboy movies, mysteries, serials, and cartoons bringing lunches that consisted of chunks of bread and kubasa sausage from home. The Green Hornet was a favorite serial. 

The theatre was apparently a haunt of the Dew Drop gang who liked to run a variety of scams to avoid paying for their movie tickets. Sidney Katz talks about Winnipeg’s Dew Drop gang in his 1950s Macleans article It’s a Tough Time to Be a Kid. 

Photo of the Palace Theatre I took September 15, 2020

The Palace Theatre closed in 1964 and was, in turn, an auction house, furniture warehouse, and bargain store. Now it stands empty- a reminder of a time when the North End of Winnipeg was a very different place.

Currently, the building is owned by the University of Manitoba and a July CTV news article claims there is interest from the North End Renewal Corporation in buying it and turning it into a community arts performance space.  Perhaps the old Palace Theatre has a chance of coming back to life again. 

Other posts ………

The Beatles As A Sound Track For Life

I’m a Shop Girl and I Love It

5 T0-Do List Alternatives

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