Category Archives: New Experiences

Where Were You in 72?

The thrift store where I volunteer is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022. To prepare for events marking that milestone one of the managers of our shop asked us to submit a photo of ourselves in 1972. This is the one I sent her.

This photo was taken during the summer of 1972 after I had just completed my first year of college. I was working for the Mennonite church leading work camps. Teenagers from across Canada and the United States signed up to work for three weeks in a certain location and college students like myself provided leadership to groups of eight teens who lived together during their time of service.

I led three such camps during that summer. One was at a large mental health institution in Denver Colorado that housed hundreds of children and adults. Our group members did music therapy with the residents. I also led a group at a church in Winnipeg where we’d been asked to build a playground. I led the third group at a camp in Mississippi where we actually built a cabin.

I don’t seem to have kept many photos from that summer experience but did find these two from my third work camp group in Mississippi where we built and painted a cabin. In the photo of me eating in my granny glasses, I notice I have embroidered a flower onto my shirt, and peeking out of my shirt is a string of beads, my boyfriend, now husband had made me as a gift

I traveled from location to location by plane but flew standby in order to save money. The whole thing was a growing and eye-opening experience for sure.

I was already dating my husband Dave and he was working in Coaldale Alberta that summer. We exchanged letters almost every day and I still have all of them.

Where were you in 72?

Other posts……….

Where Were You?

A Lament For Letters

I’m A Shop Girl And I Love It

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Filed under Family, New Experiences, Reflections

YMMV

In a twitter comment the other day someone used these four letters YMMV and I wondered what in the world they meant. I did a little research in a variety of urban dictionaries and discovered that ……….

YMMV is short for ‘your mileage may vary’ and originates from its use in advertising for cars. Car manufacturers started using the phrase in the 1970s and 80s when they were promoting the favourable gas mileage on their various car models.

Due to truth in advertising regulations they needed to add a disclaimer to their ads about their cars’ gas mileage since they couldn’t guarantee a certain gas mileage. Weather conditions, road conditions and the habits of individual drivers could impact the kind of mileage a car received.

Currently however YMMV is used in a much wider context to compare individual experiences, opinions, and ideas and acknowledge the fact that others may have a different response or result than you did.

You can use it when you write an evaluation of a service or treatment. “I had no reaction whatsoever to the Pfizer vaccine but YMMV.”

You can use it to review a product you’ve bought. “I find my new Eddie Bauer jacket to be totally waterproof but YMMV.”

You can use it to give an opinion about a television show you’ve seen. “The series Ted Lasso often leaves me in tears but YMMV.”

You can use it to comment on a trip you’ve taken. “We found British Columbia to be a cold and very wet place on our recent visit but YMMV.”

Now that I know about YMMV look out for it in future blog posts.

Other posts……….

What Does Yeet Mean?

Extra Crispy

Chreaster Really Is A Word

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I Did It Myself!

My watch has a new strap and I installed it myself

I have a Timex wristwatch I love and have had for more years than I can count. I like the big numbers I can see without my glasses and the way its face can illuminate at night so when I wake up I can check the time. I’ve had one new battery put in over the years but otherwise that watch just ‘keeps on ticking.’

However, the watch straps always wear out, and once I almost lost the watch when the strap gave way and it fell off. So whenever I notice my strap wearing thin I have to hunt around for a place that sells reasonably priced straps and has a person on staff who knows how to replace it for me.

I used a dull pointed knife to change my worn strap in no time

Last week I noticed my strap was about to give way and just for interest’s sake googled changing your watch strap. Sure enough, there were lots of videos that showed you just how to do that. Although having a special jeweler’s tool was helpful you could also just change the strap using a pointed dull knife.

The job’s half done

I ordered a strap online and when it arrived I changed it myself in about five minutes!

It was so easy and here I’ve thought for most of my life you needed to be a jeweler with fancy tools to change a watch strap.

I wonder what other things I could do myself if I just gave them a try.

Other posts……..

Don’t Be Scared To Be Creative

Casted

Dave Makes a Mask

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Modeling Career-Different Perceptions

Can you, short of an earthquake hold a pose?  Are you willing to be centre stage for long periods of time? Are you comfortable having your body parts talked about? Can you be the object of intense scrutiny by a roomful of people for at least an hour?

I’ll never forget my first sitting as an art model. Before I took the job I did a little online research. One website suggested you consider the above questions seriously before becoming a model.

Many years ago the art teacher at the international school in Hong Kong where I worked, sent out an e-mail asking for volunteers to serve as a model for a drawing class. I was a little hesitant. Wasn’t I too old?

Then I read the story of Lala Lezli, a former dancer with the celebrated Martha Graham company, who modelled for California artists for fifty years. She was still working as a model when she died at age 92. I wasn’t too old to be a model.

I also found out art students need to learn to draw real people, not just the idealized human form. Models should be of all ages, races, shapes and sizes. Indeed when I hesitantly replied to the art teacher’s e-mail I was surprised by his warm response. He’d be happy to have me, model.

I asked if I should wear a special outfit, but the art teacher suggested I dress in a normal way. I’d read models should come prepared with interesting poses, but the art teacher had a pose in mind. He wanted me to sit on a chair on the elevated platform at the front of the room. He even arranged my feet and hands and told me which direction to turn my face.

 I walked into the class as the teacher was giving final instructions and was quickly seated so the students would have a maximum amount of time to work. It was surprisingly easy to sit still for an hour. I had a good view of the drawing tables and was fascinated by the progress being made on the dozen different images of me emerging on paper across the room.

It was interesting how each of the students perceived me in a slightly different way. No two sketches were the same. Just like in life, I thought. No two people perceive us in the same way and we have to accept and indeed appreciate that.

Other posts …….

Using the Other Side of My Brain

Paint By Number

My Husband is Famous

 

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Filed under Art, Education, Hong Kong, New Experiences

Mrs Brown’s DayCare-This Woman Should Be A Jamaican Saint

Children, children everywhere!  One hundred and forty of them! Our host here in Jamaica, Tony Beach took us to visit Mrs Brown’s Daycare in the Edgecombe Ghetto of Runaway Bay last week. Tony has great respect for the work done at this daycare and he wanted us to see it for ourselves. Here’s Tony with Mrs Claudette Brown who runs a daycare for 140 children on a tiny piece of land in a ramshackle old building with four small rooms. Six other women work with her. When we drove up the children outside playing in the small cement and dirt front yard rushed up to the gate to greet us. The children said “Hello, Hola and Bonjour” welcoming us in three languages. “Do you want to know how to say hello in German?” Dave asked.  When he said, “Guten Tag,” the kids quickly copied him. A little boy immediately grabbed Dave’s hand and a little girl mine when we entered the yard offering to be our guides. It was amazing how many children were crammed into each of the tiny rooms. In the two-year-old’s room, they were giving the children lunch. Tony told us when the daycare runs short of money for salaries the women who work there simply divide whatever funds they have left after expenses for their salaries. Apparently Mrs Brown often ends up staying at the daycare till well after it closes at 5 pm, sometimes till 8 o’clock, because parents don’t show up to pick up their children. Sometimes she just ends up taking children who are left behind home with her. 

The kids ran to get books and asked me to read to them. I was amazed at how they knew their colors, the names of shapes, concepts like big and small and over and under. Tony told us the local primary schools say children from Mrs Brown’s daycare are usually well ahead of the other students when they enter school. A teacher in a tiny dark classroom with tarp walls was working on counting concepts with a small group of older children. Tony and Mrs Brown were having a heart to heart talk while we toured the daycare. Tony runs an after school program in Runaway Bay and he tries to share supplies donated to his program with Mrs Brown and help her out financially when he can. Often parents of Mrs Brown’s students can’t afford to pay the minimal fee she charges and she hates to make the children leave because she tells Tony, “it’s not their fault their parents don’t pay and I can’t punish them because of their parents.” As kids do everywhere these Jamaican sweethearts loved Dave and they all wanted to play with him. Claudette Brown gets no government support for her daycare. It is her own service to the community.  She’s quite an amazing woman. 

We were so glad Tony had taken us to Mrs Brown’s daycare. She is doing so much to help so many children with so very little. 

Other posts about Jamaica……..

Beaching It on the Caribbean

The Remarkable Place We Work in Runaway Bay

Pedicure Patois

Building A House in Jamaica

Wish I Had Them In Jamaica

Pirates, Plantations, Political Activists and Pot

Jamaican Introductions

Acquiring a Taste for Jamaican Food

Dead Yard Party

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Filed under Childhood, Education, Jamaica, New Experiences, People, Travel

Five Crowns Champ

On Wednesday our friends Brian and Merle invited us and two other couples over for a games night. After sampling some delicious desserts they introduced us to a new game called Five Crowns. It is basically rummy except there are five suits instead of four and the wild card keeps changing every round as does the number of cards you receive in your hand.  Five Crowns was lots of fun and I had an unbelievable run of luck. I kept getting these phenomenal hands and then turning over just the right card at the very end of each round so I could lay out all my cards and finish without any penalty points.  The winner in Five Crowns is the person with the lowest score. Someone at the table who had played the game a lot muttered about how a person who ‘didn’t really even know what she was doing’ could be emerging the clear leader.  At the end of the match, I was the victor having tallied the fewest points. I almost never win at cards.  So it was sweet! And as my friend Merle pointed out a look at the score sheet clearly showed that the four women at the table had all done better than any of the men.  Nice! Women have a long way to go to achieve equality with men in our society but on Wednesday night around the card table the women were clearly way ahead of the males. 

Other posts……..

New Games

Learning to Play Poker

Burgers and Blokus

 

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Date Night

stone angel breweryWhen my husband Dave plans a date night for us I can always look forward to it being something unique.  Last Friday he picked me up after I had spent a long day doing stuff for my Dad and said we were headed for a literary spot.  

stone angel statue stone angel breweryI would never have guessed it was a brewery, but the Stone Angel fit the bill since it was named after the famous book The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. The large statue in the brewery attests to the fact but just to be sure I double-checked with the bartender and he confirmed indeed the brewery had been named after Margaret’s book. 

brewery stone angelDave is part of a beer club that meets regularly to explore all the breweries in the city so he had been to the Stone Angel with his club members.  I don’t drink beer normally and since I was the only woman in the place during our entire visit I was a little intimidated but I had a good time.  

peanut butter stout and juicy kilterDave picked out two beers he thought I might like- a Kilter Juicy and a Peanut Butter Stout.  I tasted them both. The stout was a little too bitter for me but the Kilter Juicy had a nice grapefruity flavour and I drank the whole thing. 

tehran restaurantNext, we were off to the Tehran Cafe.  I had never had Iranian food before but it was wonderful. walnut stew iranian restaurantI ordered a walnut, chicken and pomegranate stew with saffron rice and green salad. So good. lamb shankDave had a lamb shank with rice and Shirazi salad.  It was great too. 

family in tehranian restaurantWe enjoyed the interesting art in the restaurant and the attentive service.  

tehran restaurant winnipegA literary brewery and a new kind of food were not what I was expecting for my date night but it was a fun evening. Even after spending more than 45 years together with him,  my husband continues to make my life interesting. 

Other posts……….

I Drank a Beer in Austria

Laughing Without An Accent

Visiting A Colorado Microbrewery and The Barry Manilow Concert That Wasn’t

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Filed under New Experiences, Restaurants

Look At The Bathroom Floors

Recently my husband Dave has been inviting guests to come and see our bathrooms soon after they arrive. “Just look at those floors,” he will say.  Most guests are puzzled particularly if they have been to our home before.  “Did you change the flooring?” they will ask. “It kind of looks the same.”  At this point, I usually intervene.  “Dave washed the bathroom floor and he wants you to notice what a great job he did.” 

In December we did some minor renovations to our two bathrooms.  New toilets, new hardware and newly painted cabinet doors.  I also wanted to replace the flooring which readily shows any speck of dirt and needs to be swept or washed far more often than I like to do it.  However, after consulting with a friend who is a flooring expert, Dave decided taking out our old tiles and putting in new ones would be far too difficult and costly. So he made me a counter offer. “How about from now on I wash the bathroom floors?”

I accepted without hesitation.  After some forty years of cleaning bathroom floors I was ready to turn the task over to someone else.  And not only does Dave clean the floors of our bathrooms he has taken to doing all the other cleaning in the bathrooms as well.  I am thrilled!  Knowing he will take care of that loathsome task makes the rest of my housecleaning less onerous and dreaded for me. 

If having my own personal bathroom cleaner means our guests will be treated to a bathroom viewing at the start of their visits I can certainly live with that.

Other posts……….

I Don’t Make My Bed

Housework

Doing Housework in Costa Rica

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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, Retirement

A Puzzling Achievement

I finished before they did!  When we were in Mexico last winter Dave and our friend Rudy who was staying with us, did crossword puzzles together almost every day from a big book of New York Times crossword puzzles Rudy had brought along with him. Although I wanted to participate the puzzles were clearly too hard for me. Dave has been doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every weekend for over forty years so he’s an expert.  

Here in Winnipeg Dave has a regular Saturday morning date with his friend Les at a neighborhood coffee shop to do the New York Times crossword puzzle in the Winnipeg Free Press. After we returned home from Mexico in March I decided I would start joining them in an attempt to develop my crossword puzzle skills. Although the New York Times crossword was too daunting for me I would work my way up to it by doing the less difficult Premier Crossword in Saturday’s paper.  

Initially, I could get only a small portion of my puzzle done before Dave and Les had finished the New York Times crossword.  Then Dave would take my crossword and quickly finish it. 

Slowly but surely I improved and would get more and more of my puzzle done before the guys finished theirs. Then this past Saturday a miracle! I finished my puzzle before the guys finished theirs.  Granted they said their puzzle was VERY hard and I figured out the theme to mine quite early on so that made it much easier to complete.  But still…………. I was pretty pumped!

I may not be ready for the New York Times crossword puzzle yet but I’m getting there.  

Other posts……….

Sunday Morning At the Olive Mill

Coloring Books- Not Just For Kids

 

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