I went on a field trip last week with a group of women from my church. We all volunteer at the Selkirk MCC Thrift Store together. Marj is our leader. Her weekly news reports via e-mail keep us in touch with each other. That way even if we miss a week of volunteering we still know what’s going on with the others in our group. In one of her newsletters Marj proposed a field trip. We all agreed it was a great idea. So last Wednesday we headed off on our little adventure.
First stop of course was another Thrift Shop. This one in Morris. A staff member who originally hailed from Newfoundland gladly took us ‘behind the scenes’ to get a better idea of how the place worked. We checked out their slick price marking system. And took note of how they organized things that came in as donations. We poked around the aisles looking for bargains and…. even tried on a mink stole that was for sale. Then it was time to head for the Jasmine Tea Room in Altona. We were in two different vehicles and each car took a bit of a detour through the town, since both drivers had Altona roots and wanted to show us sites that had been important to them when they had lived in Altona. Our lunch at the Jasmine Tea Room was delicious and since we finished eating a little early…… we headed off to Altona’s Gallery in the Park to wander among the sculptures there
Next we dropped in at the Altona Thrift Shop. It is of historical significance because it was the first MCC Thrift Shop in North America and was founded by four energetic and philanthropic women from Altona.
Altona residents Selma Loewen, Sara Stoesz, Susan Giesbrecht, and Linie Friesen started the first Thrift Shop in 1972 to raise funds for MCC’s work in developing countries.
The store staff was ever so nice to us and gave us a tour of their facilities. We marveled at the beautiful quilt room where material is saved and cut and sewn and stitched by many groups of volunteers. Then the quilts are displayed and sold.On the way home we made a stop in Neubergthal, a Canadian historic site where homes and other buildings, are maintained as they might have been in a traditional Mennonite village. Here we pose on the driveway of a home that belongs to fellow members at Bethel Mennonite Church.
After our Neubergthal stop we headed back to Winnipeg and said good-bye, but not for long since we will meet again next week on the second storey of the Selkirk Thrift Shop where once again we will be unpacking, organizing, cleaning, and pricing donated items. Of course we will also be chatting about our memorable field trip.
I’m A Shop Girl
The T-4’s Go Mennonite In Neubergthal
The fire alarm in our building went off just before 7 am yesterday morning. Dave was away on a golf trip so I threw on my bathrobe, slipped into my moccasins , grabbed my keys and headed to the front door via five flights of stairs. I went outside to be greeted by just a few of the residents from our building’s one hundred suites. Slowly more people trickled out as the alarm kept up its insistent ringing. Everyone except me however seemed to have taken time to get fully dressed and grab their purses and phones and wallets and dogs and coffee and newspapers and study notes and books and muffins and………
The only other folks in their night wear besides me were children. Soon four huge fire trucks and various emergency vehicles arrived. The firefighters went inside and ten minutes or so later told us it was safe to go back to our homes. I suspect less than half of the residents were outside by that time. The rest had all stayed in their suites confident it was a false alarm. I’m not sure why you’d take that chance. Would you?
After that rude awakening my day could only get better and it did. I spent time researching for upcoming art gallery tours, enjoyed a great bike ride, went on a long walk with my brother, had lunch with him in Assiniboine Park and welcomed my husband home in the evening.
A Fire Changed Her Life
Earth, Air, Water and Fire
Two Artists- Me and My Grandson
As a young mother I learned to do things with one hand.
Having my one arm in a cast has been bringing back memories of when my sons were babies. During those years I learned to do lots of things with just one free hand since I was often carrying a child in the other arm. I could cook, vacuum, talk on the phone, do laundry, put on lipstick, peel a banana and get dressed with one hand. I once wrote a newspaper column about all the young parents I had seen doing things ‘one handed’ after observing my neighbour mow his lawn with one hand while carrying his son on his other arm.
My father in-law serving up gravy for vereneki one-armed while holding our son.
I will be glad when I have full use of both my arms again, but the fact I learned as a young mother to do things with one arm is coming in kind of handy now.
My brother with his guitar under one arm and his nephew tucked into the other
The Beginning and End of Life
I spent a morning last week in the Winnipeg Law Courts Building as one of about seventy people selected as potential jurors for a September trial. We were a motley crew of all ages, races, appearances and demeanors. I was seated between two serious looking men. One was highlighting passages in a flight operators’ manual and another was reading a binder full of notes about how his investment company deals with international law.
We sat studying, reading, doing crossword puzzles and snoozing as we waited for the court session to begin. No electronic devices of any kind were allowed. During our hour long wait the judge issued arrest warrants for two potential jurors who had failed to show up. Officers were sent to their places of work and eventually they were ushered into court. Both apologized. They had simply forgotten about their summons. The judge was stern, reminding them all the rest of us had somehow managed to appear. He warned them he could have them sent to prison. He also gave the rest of us a speech thanking us for coming and reminding us it was our responsibility as Canadian citizens who benefited from the protection of the justice system to serve as jurors when asked.
We all had to leave the courtroom as the accused was ushered in. When we returned we sat behind him and the bullet- proof vested sheriffs who accompanied him. A clerk read the list of charges and he pleaded not guilty to each one. The charges were of a violent nature. I realized listening to evidence in this trial would probably not be a pleasant experience.
Justice- a sculpture outside the court building by artist Gordon Reeves
Each potential juror had been assigned a number and the clerk began drawing our numbers at random from a box. As each juror’s number was called they had the opportunity to approach the judge and ask to be excused from serving. It was interesting to see what reasons the judge automatically accepted and which were summarily dismissed. Single mothers who couldn’t afford childcare were excused as were people dealing with the terminal illness of a family member. A grade one teacher anxious about being absent from her classroom with many special needs students during the first month of the school year was excused, but the bank manager who felt his presence at his job was crucial was not.
After eighteen jurors had been selected they were asked in turn to stand and face the defendant and look at him fully and directly. He was also asked to look at them. After this eye contact either lawyer could challenge that particular juror without giving a reason and they were excused. I was awfully curious about why the lawyers rejected certain potential jurors but accepted others.
Once a juror had been approved by both lawyers they were asked to swear on a Bible or affirm they would carry out their duties to the best of their ability. About a half of the pool of seventy jurors were called before twelve were selected for service. I was not among them.
I wasn’t sure if I was happy about that. I no longer needed to worry about rearranging my September commitments to do jury duty. But a friend who is a lawyer told me were I to become a juror it would be incredibly interesting and I would learn a great deal about the justice system. I was kind of disappointed that wouldn’t be happening. The judge told us however we might be called again to act as jurors. Perhaps next time I will be one of the chosen.
Once in a Blue Moon
My Modeling Career
Dave’s Vision Quest
I had lunch at the new Stellas restaurant on Pembina Highway yesterday. I used the gender neutral washroom and really didn’t think about the fact that it was gender neutral till I came out of my private stall and a man was washing his hands at the sink. Sure it seemed a little strange because it’s not something I’m used to. But I had no problem with it. It made me wonder how segregated bathrooms had started in the first place.
Apparently there never used to be public washrooms for women since they weren’t encouraged to ‘go out’ in the world of men. Their place was in the home. “How archaic,” we think now. So in the early 1900s when laws requiring public restrooms for both men and women came into effect it was really a step forward for women.
I suspect my great-grandchildren will read one day about gender specific bathrooms in public places and say, “How archaic!” Many newly constructed public places are installing gender neutral washrooms and as older buildings are renovated their owners are making the change too. Within a generation or two gender specific bathrooms will be a thing of the past. As we continue to learn more about the science and sociology of gender identity, gender neutral bathrooms make sense and besides they save space and are more practical for families with young children.
The Most Beautiful Bathroom in Winnipeg
We were in the clouds and above the clouds. After our bridge walk through the cloud forest canopy we took a tram ride even further up into the sky. First we were under the clouds, then riding through them and finally we emerged up above them. Once again we had an amazing guide, this time named Edwardo whose love of nature and information about the cloud forest added so much to our experience. He pointed out two hundred year old fern trees. He had us look way down on the mountain side where a pair of baby black vultures had hatched and were waiting to be ready to fly.
Dave had taken a picture of a mature vulture in Dominical so it was interesting to see how different the babies and adults looked. Edwardo pointed out the Pacific Ocean way off in the distance. We could look down and see the suspension bridges where we had been walking just hours before. Now we were high above them. As our tram ride ended Dave spotted this white-nosed coati. What made me sad on our tram ride was hearing our guide Edwardo say that unless something is done to stop it scientists predict that within twenty years global warming could mean the end of this cloud forest.
It made me wonder as I have so often on this trip in Costa Rica, whether my grandchildren will have the same opportunity to see all this natural beauty when they are my age?
Walking in the Canopy
Walk at Hillside Beach
Walk at Louise Lake
Early Morning Walk in Saskatoon
We found a quetzal in the wild! Can you believe it? We were on the return journey of a hike to a waterfall here in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica when Dave spotted a brilliantly colored male quetzal in the trees. For nearly fifteen minutes we had him all to ourselves and Dave clicked photo after photo. There are only 80 quetzal couples left in the cloud forest here and spotting them isn’t guaranteed. Visitors from all over the world come to San Gerardo to observe them in the wild and many leave disappointed without ever seeing one. As we sat enjoying the waterfall at the end of the first leg of our hike, we chatted with a couple from Holland who taught Dave to imitate the call of the quetzal and as we hiked back home Dave kept whistling it. And then……… all of a sudden a quetzal flew into a tree in a little clearing. It was a magic moment.
Quetzals mostly eat the fruit of the wild avocado tree and farmers in San Gerardo are planting more and more of these trees to attract quetzals to this valley and keep them here. There is also a law that no trees in the valley can be cut down. Any new buildings must be erected on land that has already been cleared. There is a real effort to preserve this quetzal habitat. And no wonder. These birds considered sacred by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs bring thousands and thousands of tourists here each year. The males are much more brilliantly colored than the females and during the mating season, which has just begun now in February, they grow these long twin tails that can be up to a meter long to attract females. Males need to be three years old before they can grow a tail. Once they’ve mated a pair of quetzals use their beaks to enlarge holes in trees made by other birds and animals to make a nest for their two or three blue eggs. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and bringing food to the babies once they hatch, but many mothers abandon their babies near the end of the nesting period and the father is left alone to care for the fledglings. After about three weeks the babies are ready to fly on their own.
After finding this quetzal Dave kept doing his quetzal calls and sure enough a little further down the trail both a male and female appeared in the trees. Unfortunately they didn’t stay long enough to photograph. But we’d seen three quetzals on just one hike! We’ve given Dave the nickname ‘quetzal whisperer.’ I think he’s pretty proud of it!
My husband Dave took all the photos in this post.
Dave Driedger Wildlife Photographer
The Dawn Chorus