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
It’s terrible I know! I live a couple of blocks from Canada’s Human Rights Museum. People have been coming from all over the world to see since it opened in September and till last Sunday I still hadn’t been inside. We had a house guest who wanted to see the museum so we took him to visit the building which has become a distinctive landmark on the Winnipeg landscape.
Before we even went inside I wanted to find out more about the landscaping or seeming lack of it around the building. Signs told us about the Prairie in Progress that is growing on all sides of the museum. Grasses and plants native to the prairies have been planted and visitors are encouraged to watch as they establish themselves on the site during the next few summers. This approach is meant to show respect for the ground on which the museum is built. The low maintenance eco-system that will develop is part of the museum’s commitment to being a ‘green’ institution.
Much has been made about the multi-media approach of the gallery and I noticed that first thing as we entered the lobby and saw this constantly moving screen of people writing the word ‘welcome’ in different languages. The architecture of the place is stunning and it was interesting to read about it on the app you can download for free as you enter the gallery. The app provides information on each gallery as you move from one to another. On my next visit I want to bring earphones so I can listen as well as read the information. The first thing we did was climb to the very top of the tower and the view it offers of Winnipeg is worth the admission price itself.
We decided to buy year-long passes. After three hours I was so glad we did. I still had the lower two floors of galleries to visit and I was ‘done’. I am pleased I can go back at my leisure. I plan to make one hour or so visits in the future and explore the museum in a way that makes is possible to absorb ideas a few at a time. I am also anxious to try the restaurant which I’ve heard others rave about. I have already earmarked a number of things for Christmas gifts in the shop.
I hope to do posts in the future about things I see at the museum. It is exciting to have an educational treasure like this in my neighborhood.
Other museum visits………
Residential Schools – The Hiroshima of the Indian Nations
A Bizarre Museum in Florence Italy
Seven Oaks Museum in Winnipeg
So I’ll admit it. I didn’t know what a blue moon was. We were at the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball game on Friday night and my friend Merle pointed out the moon coming up over the trees. “It’s a blue moon,” she said. My husband Dave cheerfully posed with the blue moon and explained that a blue moon is when there are two full moons in one calendar month. The fact that this happens only rarely explains the origin of the phrase ‘once in a blue moon.’
My friend Elizabeth posted this amazing photo of the blue moon over Austin Texas where she lives. Nice to think that she and I were looking at that same beautiful moon even though we were thousands of miles apart. And our friend Mitch captured the blue moon over Jessica Lake where he owns a cottage.
Look how excited Dave is about that blue moon to his left.
There were some pretty terrific fireworks at the end of the Goldeyes game that diverted our attention from that full blue moon at least momentarily. The Goldyeyes won the game ! The blue moon must have brought them good luck.
Dave Driedger -Nature Photographer