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.

A Different Kind of Folk Festival

At the Folk Festival in 2011

If 2020 had been like other years Manitobans would have been attending the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park this past weekend.  The event was cancelled due to the pandemic but the Folk Festival organized a virtual concert for July 11 and encouraged people to get together outside on their yards to watch it on Saturday night. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a country property near Lowe Farm for an alternate Folk Festival evening hosted by our friends Roger and Ruth. A screen and speakers had been set up on the yard for watching the performers and listening to the music. We parked our cars alongside the grain bins. Tie-dyed sheets billowing in the breeze and a painting of a quilt on the barn gave the farmyard a ‘folkie’ kind of feel.


Before the festivities sponsored by the Folk Festival hit the big screen Roger our host favoured us with four numbers he had written himself, accompanied by two members of his family.

Roger tells us about the songs he has written

One of Roger’s songs had been inspired by a trip on the Trans Siberian railroad, another by a trip to South America and one celebrated a barnstorming baseball team from the American Negro Baseball League that came to play a game in nearby Roland Manitoba when Roger’s father was a young man. Roger’s band also shared a piece about his father’s perspective on the world when he was over a hundred years old. The evening included a fabulous meal and………….. an opportunity to explore a labyrinth that had been cut into the field behind the house. You could pick up some stones, that represented your hopes or wishes to hold as you made your way down the paths. I was all alone in the labyrinth as I wound my way through the beautiful wild prairie grasses and flowers.  I basked in the beauty of the yellow fields in the distance, the sound of the wind in the grass, and the endless blue sky above me. 

labyrinth entryAfter the music was over some of the guests engaged in games of catch with ball gloves and balls supplied by Ruth and Roger’s neighbour.  We left as the sun was going down. 

It wasn’t the same as being at Bird’s Hill Park for the Folk Festival but it was a great alternative in a setting every bit as beautiful. Thanks, Roger and Ruth. 

Other posts…………..

Knuckleball- Think Mennonite Corner Gas

Inspiration at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Winnipeg Folk Festival- It’s Who You Know

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Filed under manitoba, Music

Inspired By My Brother and the Dalai Lama

My brother was spending time at his cottage recently and posted some beautiful nature photos on Instagram.   Each photo was accompanied by a related quote from the Dalai Lama.  That inspired me to look for meaningful quotes from the Dalai Lama and find photos in my photo library that might illustrate them.

My husband and friend walking in Gross Morn National Park Newfoundland

People take different roads seeking fulfilment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.

I photographed this man sitting and thinking on the shore beside his boat on the Mekong River in Laos

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

I photographed these schoolboys in Vietnam

Look at children. Of course, they may quarrel, but generally speaking, they do not harbour ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.

Ringing the peace bell in Hiroshima

Work for peace in your heart and in the world

With my Advanced Composition class in Hong Kong

Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.

Kissing my husband on the day of his university graduation

We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.

Hugging a redwood tree in Yalta Ukraine

Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity.

My Dad in a garden he grew on the grounds of his condo building. He called it  The Dorothy Garden in memory of my mother

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation.

Our daughter-in-law with some of her patients in South Africa

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.

A capuchin monkey photographed by my husband Dave in Costa Rica

The creatures that inhabit this earth-be they human beings or animals-are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.

Other posts……….

Seeing Things In A Different Way

Chi Lin Nunnery- Hong Kong

Let Me Count The Ways

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I Was Just Thinking About You

I found this sign my brother made for Mom’s birthday when I was helping my Dad go through my mother’s things.

Today is my Mom’s birthday. My siblings and I used to joke that almost every time we called our Mom she would start the conversation by saying, “I was just thinking about you.” In fact, for one of my Mom’s birthday celebrations, my brother Ken made all these signs with our Mom’s favourite sayings and “I was just thinking about you” was one of them. I was blessed beyond measure to have Dorothy Marie Schmidt Peters as my mother. Her children and their well being and happiness were constantly in her thoughts. Now not a day goes by when I don’t think about her. Here are a few photos of Mom.

My Mom as a baby in 1925

Mom with her siblings in the 1930s in Drake Saskatchewan where she grew up. Mom is second from the left

Mom on her wedding day in 1952

Mom with our family in the 1960s.  Mom sewed the dresses my sister and I are wearing. 

Mom with three of her grandchildren in the 1980s. She provided so much support as we raised our children.

Mom with her family in the early 2000s.

Mom dancing with her oldest grandson at his wedding in 2006

Mom with another one of her grandsons the Christmas before she passed away. That grandson is getting married today on his Grandma Dorothy’s birthday and how she would have loved to have been there.

Other posts……………

Dorothy Marie Peters

Dorothy’s Room

Dorothy’s Garden

 

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1619

My son recommended the podcast 1619 to me. It was an excellent place to start my quest to learn more about systemic racism.  The series aired in August of last year and won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize, the first podcast to ever be given the coveted award.

1619 is narrated by Nikole Hannah-Jones and I loved the way she interspersed incidents and people from her own life with the information she presented in each episode.  One of the stories she told was about a favourite uncle who dressed in red from head to toe for Nikole’s university graduation.  He was SO proud of her. He died of cancer at age 50 because of systemic racism in the American health care system. 

The podcast’s name comes from the fact that the first slaves were brought to America in 1619.  In an article in the Michigan Daily  Nikole talks about how every American schoolchild knows the name of The Mayflower the ship that brought the first Pilgrim settlers to North America in 1620 but few know the name of The White Lion which was the ship that brought slaves there a year before. 

Although you learn lots of history from listening to 1619 the thing I liked most about the podcast was the fascinating people I got to know. 

Angie and June Provost

People like June and Angie Provost, sugar cane farmers from Louisianna who lost their family farm because of systemic racism against Black farmers in the banking industry. They are fighting back and taking their case to the public so other farmers won’t have to experience what they did. 

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

People like Rebecca Lee Crumpler the first Black woman to graduate from medical college and become a physician in the United States. She had a practice for poor women and children in Boston but after the Civil War, she moved to the south to provide medical care to freed slaves. She was subjected to intense racism and sexism but remained dedicated to her profession. 

I can highly recommend 1619 as an engaging and eye-opening experience on the road to learning more about systemic racism.  You can listen to the episodes here.

Other posts………. 

Are You A Performance Ally?

Racism -Pure and Simple

A Possible Alternative to Tearing Down Statues

 

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Filed under History, Media

More Than A Cake- It’s a Memory

glenys and her cakeWe celebrated my friend Glenys’ birthday on Tuesday in the gazebo in her backyard.  My friend Debbie had purchased a cake from Jeanne’s Bakery for the occasion.  Glenys told us cakes from Jeanne’s Bakery had been a tradition for birthdays in her family since she was a child. 

Turns out Glenys’ family isn’t the only one for whom Jeanne’s cakes were a tradition as I discovered when I listened to a podcast about the bakery.  Jeanne’s cakes are iconic to Winnipeggers and there are hundreds of families who wouldn’t think of celebrating a special occasion without one of Jeanne’s cakes.

The bakery was founded by Flemish immigrants Achille and Jeanne Van Landeghem in 1938. It remained in their family for 80 years till the Van Landeghem’s grandson Donald sold the bakery to Jerry Penner in 2003 after Donald’s brother and business partner Alan died of a heart attack. 

jeanne's cakeWhat Jerry realized after he bought Jeanne’s Bakery was that he hadn’t only bought a bakery he had bought a part of Winnipeg history.  He said it really struck home when a woman came into the bakery needing a cake for her mother’s funeral.  She had flown all the way from Vancouver to get the cake because her Mom had requested they serve Jeanne’s cake at her memorial service.  The daughter told Jerry a cake from Jeanne’s was more than a cake- it was a memory. 

Jerry has the recipe for Jeanne’s cakes in his safety deposit box and uses it to make the 1500-2000 cakes they bake and ice a week.  Jeanne’s Cakes certainly have their critics. The podcast I listened to interviews Free Press food writer Alison Gillmor. The only thing she can find to praise about the cakes is the chocolate curls that cover their sides. But despite some negative reviews the cakes continue to have legions of fans. 

megan's cocktails

Glenys’ daughter Meg made special strawberry cocktails so we could toast her mother at her birthday celebration

  My friends and I  hadn’t seen each other in person for more than five months because of the pandemic so we drank a toast to being together again and a toast to our friend’s birthday.  We made some great memories eating Glenys’ birthday Jeanne’s cake. candles cake

Other posts……………

Not A Meal- It Was An Experience- Another T-4 Adventure

Burger Week-2019- You Win Some-You Lose Some

The Tale of the Traveling Pineapple Crisp

Hildegards

Gunn’s Bakery

 

 

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Filed under Food, Winnipeg

Gloria

I was really rocking it on the elliptical trainer at the gym yesterday morning. I was listening to a new playlist of workout music I’ve compiled and the song Gloria by Laura Branigan came on.  What an inspiring beat! There were only three of us in the whole gym so I sang along, mouthing the words and fairly dancing on the boat-like pedals of the trainer.

laura branigan

Laura Branigan

Listen is my word for 2020 and one of the ways I have been trying to live up to that word is by adding lots of new content to my music library.  I downloaded Gloria after listening to an informative and entertaining podcast by Mo Rocca about Laura Branigan the recording artist who made Gloria famous. In 1982 the song stayed atop the pop charts for 36 weeks and earned Laura a Grammy nomination. 

Laura died in 2004 but just last year in 2019 her signature song earned her another claim to fame. It became the unofficial anthem of the St. Louis Blues as they made a historic comeback from last to first place in the NHL over the course of the season. Some players had been in a bar listening to the song repeatedly the night before they clinched an important victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. So after the game, the players listened to Gloria in the dressing room as they celebrated. They figured the song had brought them luck.

Some St. Louis Blues Fans even sported Laura Branigan jerseys with number 82 the year her song Gloria was a hit. 

Soon the DJ at the Enterprise Centre, home of the Blues, began to play Gloria on the speakers whenever the Blues won a game. As the team launched into a winning streak that took them to the top of the NHL standings local radio stations in St. Louis started playing Gloria regularly and soon it had become the official anthem of the team. Immediately after they won the Stanley Cup Gloria came blaring through the speakers as the team celebrated their exciting Game 7 victory. 

Last year Laura’s Gloria inspired the St. Louis Blues to give it their all on the ice and this year she’s inspiring me to give it my all during my workouts at the gym. 

Other posts………..

Mobituaries

Word of the Year-2020

Trying to Become A Winnipeg Jets Fan

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Filed under Music

After Life and American Son

We just finished watching the first season of the Netflix series After Life.  It has received both critical acclaim and a resounding thumbs down from various viewers.  It made me laugh and cry and truth be told get angry, very angry at the main character sometimes.  

Starring Ricky Gervais as Tony Johnson it tells the story of a man whose wife has died and as a result, he has lost his will to live. Tony keeps watching videos of his wife and longing for the life they had together.  He really doesn’t want to go on without her.  Tony works as a reporter for a small local newspaper and the stories he covers had me laughing out loud they were so bizarre.  

But be forewarned Tony is caustic, foul-mouthed, insulting and downright horrible to other people. He simply doesn’t care, engages in all kinds of self-destructive behaviour and makes questionable ethical choices.

Tony is well down the path of utter callousness and impeding suicide but……….. the kindness of the people around him who genuinely care about him, finally breaks through in heartwarming fashion.  In fact, so heartwarming that my husband and I were compelled to give each other a huge hug during the season finale.

Actor Ricky Gervais with actress Penelope Wilton playing a character who helps Tony regain his will to live

There is a second season of After Life which we haven’t started watching yet and in a way season one ends things so well I hardly think there is a need for another season.  After Life reminded me a lot of the book A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. We also recently watched the movie, American Son.  It stars the luminous Kerry Washington who I so enjoyed in the series Little Fires Everywhere.  The story revolves around a couple who know their son has been involved in some kind of incident with the police.  They are at the police station waiting to hear what has happened. Their brilliant talented son has been admitted to a first-class college.  He is black and they are terrified that like many other young black men he may have been the victim of police brutality.

But be forewarned that American Son is based on a Broadway play and has been filmed like a play. All the action takes place in the police station and consists of dialogues between just a handful of different characters.  In 2019 when the film came out it was criticized for being too heavy-handed when it came to the subject of racism.  In the current political and social climate I don’t think it would be considered over the top at all. 

Other posts………..

10 Observations after seeing the movie Parasite

Just Mercy- Not An Easy Movie To Watch

I Cry Ever Episode- Chef’s Table

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Filed under Media, Movies

Why Do Men and Women Vote Differently?

woman votingA recent Macleans magazine article reported that if only women had voted in the last Canadian election the Liberal Party would have 226 seats in the House of Commons and the Conservatives only 63.  Right now the Liberals have 156 seats and the Conservatives 121.  Women would have given the Liberal Party a healthy majority. 

A recent poll in the United States showed that if their election were held today about an equal number of men would vote for Joe Biden and Donald Trump but if only women voted, Joe Biden would win by a handsome margin.  

Why do women vote differently than men? An article in Psychology Today says women are more supportive of gun control and same-sex marriage and more opposed to capital punishment than men. They vote for the party that best represents those beliefs. 

women voting boothAn article in the Atlantic says in the United States women vote Democrat because women are more likely to live in poverty than men and so they favour governments that provide more social supports. Also, women are more likely to be employed in education and health care than men and they vote for governments that will increase rather than decrease spending in those sectors. In the United States, more women graduate from college than men and more educated voters tend to support the Democrats. 

Last fall Global News looked at the issues women in Canada cared about the most as they decided who to vote for in the federal election.  Those issues were health care, affordable child care, diversity, greater female representation, LGBTQ rights, poverty, and violence against women. Since so many more women voted for the Liberal Party than the Conservative Party they must have felt the Liberals would do a better job of addressing these key issues that were important to them. 

It is interesting that women and men vote quite differently.  Women have had the right to vote in Canada and the United States for about a hundred years. But it is only in the last forty years or so that such a gap has emerged between the way men and women vote.  As women have gained more independence in every sector of society they have also begun to exercise their independence in the voting booth. 

Other posts……………….

What Happens When A Woman Takes Power?

Women Were Honored?  Think Again. 

The Famous Five

 

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Filed under Politics

Lagom-Just Right

I’ve been doing lots of puzzles since COVID -19 began and in the process, I’m coming to realize which ones are just right for me. grandma moses puzzleI did this one recently and although it was enjoyable it was too easy. lawren harris puzzleI attempted this one but it was way too hard. puzzle from kaaren food bowlsMy sister gave me this one and it was JUST RIGHT.  Enough of a challenge to keep me thinking and engaged but not so hard I became discouraged.  

There’s a Swedish word lagom which essentially means ‘just right.’  I love doing puzzles that are lagom for me. 

marylou tour winnipeg art gallery

Doing a music activity with kids at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of my job there. 

I am kind of the same way when it comes to working.  Before the pandemic, I had a variety of part-time jobs.  Sometimes when demands were high at all of them I felt way too busy.  But when demands were low at all of them or non-existent like at the height of the pandemic I didn’t feel nearly busy enough.  I loved the times of lagom however when my jobs kept me just busy enough but still gave me time to explore other things I love to do. 

Psychologists say lagom is the reason Sweden is usually listed as one of the happiest countries in the world.  People work hard but not to the detriment of other important parts of life. Swedish society operates on the principle that people should have what they need, but not too much or too little.  There is a Swedish proverb, “Lagom är bäst”.  It means, “The right amount is best”.  

How might I apply the quest for ‘just right’ to my life besides picking jigsaw puzzles that are the right level of difficulty?  

lunch at coyote gulch art village

A just-right lunch at the Coyote Gulch Art Village in Utah

Eating a moderate but satisfying amount- savouring and enjoying food as a sensory experience but not overeating. 

walking in iceland

A just-right hike near Selfoss in Iceland- interesting but not too difficult terrain and just the right length

Exercising enough so I feel energized but not so much that I am bone-weary. 

At the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I need lots of experiences like this to create a just-right balance with my computer time. 

Spending time on the computer writing, learning and keeping up with what is going on in the world but not becoming so immersed in that I neglect other ways to inform myself like viewing art,  reading, observing nature, visiting museums, listening to podcasts and talking with friends. 

Everyone’s lagom is different.  We each need to find our own levels in the various areas of life, levels that keep us feeling content and peaceful. We need to find that balance, that sweet spot, that just right place. 

Other posts…………

A Perfect Last Day in Utah

House With a View and So Much More

Hygge

Self-Care- What I Think It Is For Me

A Poignant Book

 

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Filed under Reflections

COVID Hot Spot

driedger homestead

My husband Dave’s childhood home in Leamington. His brother and sister-in-law own it now.

I almost feel like Leamington Ontario is my second hometown because I have been there so often.  My husband Dave was born and raised in Leamington and we have returned to the area annually since our marriage in 1973. Many years we’ve visited more than once.

The Heinz factory in the heart of Leamington was taken over by Highbury Canco in the fall of 2013 and has become a thriving success

Last weekend when we chatted with family in Leamington I was surprised to learn that while many other places in Ontario are reopening businesses and services Leamington and neighbouring Kingsville remain closed because of their high number of COVID 19 cases.  My sister-in-law suggested I read an article in The Windsor Star to help me understand why there is such a concentration of cases in the Leamington area. 

tractor and tomato wagon

Tomatoes from a Leamington farm heading to the factory. Leamington is a vegetable farming area often called the tomato capital of Canada. 

According to the news story, most of the COVID cases in the area are in the migrant worker community, where the crowded and unsanitary living quarters provided by some employers has facilitated the spread of COVID-19. The more than 8000 migrant workers in the Leamington area from Central America and Jamaica say another factor is that not all employers provide personal protective equipment for their employees.

My husband’s family working in the tomato field in the 1960s. In those days family members did all the labour so migrants workers weren’t as common. Now it is hard to find people who want to do these jobs which is why farmers depend on the migrant worker population. 

On some farms and in some greenhouses migrants come to work even if they are sick or should be in quarantine because missing work means less money to send to their families or even worse job loss and deportation. If workers do test positive but have no symptoms they are encouraged to keep working because their labour is essential. The CBC says some 2000 of the workers in the Leamington area are undocumented and suggests their employers’ have not been eager to open their farms to government testers who want to evaluate the extent of virus transmission. The July 2 news story reported 175 new cases found on just one farm. 

My husband chats with some migrant workers in Leamington on a 2014 visit

Although the majority of the employers in the area run ethical operations and treat their workers well a few bad apples are causing what federal health minister Patty Hajdu calls a crisis. 

Hopefully, protocols will be soon be established to keep the migrant workers safe and the local year-round residents of the community safe as well. Local businessman Peter Quiring says this is a time for people to work together so that the important contribution the area farms make to providing food for Canadians can continue.

We have many family members and friends in the Leamington area and their health and future well- being depends on finding a successful way to deal with the COVID outbreak. We hope solutions can be found quickly. 

Other posts………

2015- Canada Day in Leamington

2016- Family Visit in Leamington

2018- Goodbye John

Getting Nostalgic and Just A Little Sad

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary