Dave and Renan twelve years ago
Way back in 2006 a young man named Renan Canto from Merida Mexico came to Steinbach as an exchange student at the regional high school where both my husband Dave and I were teachers. Renan was in my grade ten English class and Dave was his basketball coach. I taught journalism and one of my students Courtney Fehr did a profile of Renan for our school paper. During his interview for the article Renan talked about what a great experience he was having in Canada.
Dave with Renan at Chichen Itza
In 2007 Dave and I went on a holiday to Cancun Mexico with our friends Rudy and Sue Nikkel. We knew Renan’s home in Merida was about a three and half hour drive away but we contacted him anyway and let him know we would be in Mexico. Renan and his brother came to pick us up in a chauffered car and drive us to their family home in Merida.
Me and Rudy and Sue Nikkel with Renan and his brother at Chichen Itza
On the way we stopped at the famous Mayan archeological site at Chichen Itza where Renan’s father had arranged for a private guide to give us a tour.
Dave and Rudy with Renan’s father and brother enjoying a coconut drink in their backyard before dinner
When we arrived in Merida Renan’s parents rolled out the red carpet for us.
Me with Renan’s mother
His mother made us a wonderful supper and they hosted us for the night.
Posing with Renan and his family on the front steps of their family home in 2007
The next day before we traveled back to our hotel in Cancun Renan’s parents treated us to brunch in a restaurant housed in a beautiful old home in Merida. We have never forgotten their wonderful hospitality.
When we knew we would be in Merida with our friend Rudy this year Dave contacted Renan. He told us he had gotten married this fall and Dave invited him and his wife to join us for lunch. Renan picked a fantastic seafood restaurant called La Pigua. We had a delicious meal and a wonderful visit. Renan and Lizmar have only been married for four months and they described their month long honeymoon in France, Italy and Greece. Renan who studied electrical engineering owns a lighting company and installs commercial lighting as well as orchestrating light shows for special occasions. He told us about a light show he had done at some ruins called Teotihuacán near Mexico City. Renan’s wife Lizmar runs a dance studio where around a hundred students study ballet. We had a long visit and agreed we will try to meet again during our time here in Merida.
It was great to reconnect with Renan and to meet Lizmar!
Visiting My Students in New York
Ivan Was Here
So Proud of Her
Filed under Mexico, People
With my friend Sue in a taxi in Kyoto
On Tuesday it was my friend Sue’s birthday and also the one year anniversary of her death.
Visiting Chichen Itza in Mexico with Sue
In the last weeks of Sue’s life I would send her e-mails every few days that included photos and I would tell her about the things I was going to miss about her.
Sue and me at the Mountain Brook golf course in Gold Canyon Arizona
Among other things I said I would miss golfing with her,
Hiking the Peralta Trail with Sue
hiking with her,
With Rudy and Sue at Hecla Island
talking and laughing with her,
With my friend Sue and our sailboat captain in Florida
vacationing with her,
With Sue in a fun house in Osaka
having fun with her,
Enjoying a delicious and beautifully presented meal as Sue’s meals always were in the sun room of her and Rudy’s home
eating the wonderful meals she made and drinking her signature gin and tonics,
Playing bridge with Rudy and Sue in Thailand
and having her for a friend.
Now a year later I do miss all those things about Sue and many other things too.
You don’t often go to a movie where the audience claps as the credits roll but there was hearty applause on Sunday night at Winnipeg’s Cinematheque Theatre where I watched RBG a documentary about American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is a remarkable and interesting woman in so many ways. Here are five.
- Ruth who is 85 has survived cancer twice and works out regularly with her personal trainer- planking and doing twenty push ups in a row.
- She wears different collars with her Supreme Court robes depending on the cases being decided and depending on whether she is offering a dissenting opinion or a majority opinion on that case.
- She was very good friends with the late Justice Antonin Scalia even though she disagreed with him vehemently on many key issues that came before the Supreme Court. They both loved the opera.
- Her granddaughter Clara Spera just graduated from Harvard Law School. Both Ruth and her daughter Jane were also Harvard law students. There are three generations of women lawyers in the family all educated at Harvard.
- Ruth has had a hand in deciding many important cases on the Supreme Court. Without her and her influence on the court there might not be gender inclusive admission policies for universities, same sex marriage rights or rights for people with mental illness to live in community settings. She has been the voice of dissent as well for many important rulings like the one which ended the manual recount of ballots in the 2000 election thus insuring a George Bush win and the most recent case where the Supreme Court decided a baker was within his rights not to provide a wedding cake for a same sex couple.
Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Simmie Knox 2000
If you see the movie RBG you will know why the audience clapped at the end. I could probably write a dozen blog posts featuring five interesting things I learned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Look for more.
Called to Court
Filed under Movies, People
I went along with my husband Dave yesterday to watch him play in a ball tournament in Steinbach. I hadn’t really planned to go but Dave said the team was having a meal after the tournament at one of the player’s homes and partners were invited. He said he’d really like me to come. So I changed my plans and went along. I was so glad I did.
My friend Marge came to the tournament to watch her husband play ball too. Dave and I have been friends with Marge and her husband Fran since 1976 when we were their neighbours in Landmark for a year. Marge and I hadn’t seen each other since January. We had been in Europe for two months and they had been on a trip to Europe as well and so the first order of business was to catch up on our travel experiences. Then we moved on to talk about our children and grandchildren and siblings and friends and hobbies and volunteer work and books and a little bit of politics and church and our childhoods and summer plans and………….. suffice it to say our husbands’ expertise on the ball diamond did not garner our full attention.
I love making new friends but there is something lovely about spending time with old friends who already know all about you and your past, someone with whom you have so many shared experiences. No matter how long you have been apart you can just pick up talking with one another and feel like the last time you were together was the day before.
I learned a round song when I was a child that went………… Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.
Are Men and Women’s Friendships Different?
My Mom’s Friends
A Reunion With Old Friends in Portugal
Filed under People, Sports
I read in the Winnipeg Free Press on the weekend that Roland Penner had died. He was a high-profile lawyer, a professor at the University of Manitoba, member of the Manitoba legislature, and served as the province’s attorney general. I knew him however as a storyteller.
Photo by Joe Bryska/Winnipeg Free Press
In 2012 I took a course from Roland at the McNally Robinson Community Classroom called Winnipeg Fact and Fiction where he told stories about events from Winnipeg history and then introduced us to books that had those same events as their focus. I remember three of the classes in particular. One in which he taught us about the Winnipeg strike and we looked at Margaret Sweatman’s novel Fox. Another where he described famous criminal cases tried in Winnipeg and introduced us to Heather Robertson’s biography of robber Kenneth Leishman The Flying Bandit and another where we examined the Winnipeg immigrant experience and Fredelle Maynard’s memoire Raisins and Almonds.
In 2012 I had just moved to Winnipeg and taking the course from Roland was a great way to connect with the history of the city that was to be my new home. He made every class so interesting. He was 86 at the time. In one of the blog posts I wrote about the course I described Roland as an ‘octogenarian story teller extraordinaire’. It is clear from his obituary Roland Penner lived his life story to the fullest and left an extraordinary mark on our province’s and city’s histories. He was 93.
Winnipeg General Strike
The Flying Bandit
Winnipeg Mennonite Immigrant Fiction
I was walking by the Salvation Army Hostel on Monday and saw a young woman looking at a map printed out from a computer. “Can you help me?” she asked. “I’m not a city girl. I feel like a lost tourist.”
She wanted to find the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in St. Boniface. I told her she could walk with me and once we got to my street I’d show her the direction to go. I told her I volunteered at a Mennonite Thrift Shop.
“I’m a Mennonite,” she said. She told me her name. Her first name was Biblical and her surname definitely Mennonite. “Where are you from?” I asked. She named my hometown and as we talked she told me about the schools there she had attended. I had attended all three myself and taught at one of them. When I asked about her parents she described her father with an expletive and said she never wanted to see him again. Her Mom had left her Dad and moved to a distant Manitoba town.
I asked her what she was going to buy at the Thrift Shop. “Clothes,” she said. “I just got out of prison and all I have are the clothes on my back.” I asked how she’d landed up in jail. “I assaulted someone,” she told me and then quickly added, “you don’t have to worry, I am not a violent person. I was attacked and just defended myself.”
We kept talking till we reached my street. I found out she’d been kicked out of high school, had no one in the city she knew, and had no money. There was a limited amount of time she could stay at the Salvation Army. “I’ll have to find a way to make Winnipeg my home,” she said.
When we reached my street I pointed her in the direction of St. Boniface, gave her some money to buy clothes, wished her well and waved good-bye. I can’t stop thinking about her. I know there is probably lots more to her story than she told me. But………what will happen to her? What chance does she have?
My Husband and the Pope Are On The Same Page
Called to Court
Filed under People, Winnipeg
With my Advanced Composition class in Hong Kong-2011
Teenagers are extremely smart. -Ransom Riggs
With teenage girls at a highschool in Cambodia-2011
Being a teenager is an amazing time and a hard time. – Sophia Bush
Teenagers in Lviv Ukraine- 2011
Teenagers are kinda the same wherever you find them. -Tom Cotton
With my students in Madrid Spain-2008
Teenagers are some of the most passionate, dynamic and creative people I know.- Malorie Blackman
Girl in Jerusalem-2009
I think all teenagers feel they are alone. – Nicholas Hoult
Teenagers teaching me to dance in Borneo-2010
Teenagers come to things fresh and can teach us an awful lot. – Jane Goldman
Visiting two of my teenage students at Parsons School of Design in New York-2012
Teenagers learn best by doing things- Geoff Mulgan
Teenage school girls in Vietnam-2008
Teenagers today are more free to be themselves and to accept themselves.- John Knowles
As a teenage high school student I was the editor of my school newspaper The SCEye. Here I am pictured with my newspaper staff. -1969
I liked being a teenager but I would not go back. – Rob Lowe
My mother with her best friend around 1943
As a teenager, you’re still discovering who you are, what your life is about, and who you want to be as a person. -Kaya Scodelario