Category Archives: Reflections


with the nikkels in japan.One night when we were in Kyoto Japan with our friends Rudy and Sue we went to a local market and bought fruit, vegetables, cold meats, bread, cheese and wine so we could have a meal in the dining area of the traditional Japanese house where we were staying. We arrived at our lodgings and dumped out our shopping bags onto the table. We were tired and hungry and began nibbling away silently at the things we’d bought when Sue said, “Wait a minute.” She gathered up our purchases and went into the kitchen, returning a short while later with all our foodstuffs cut up and arranged and presented beautifully on a tray she had found. Suddenly our meal took on a whole new tone. The lovely presentation of our food made us take time to savor what we were eating and really enjoy it and each other’s company. Even though it was the end of a long day of walking and sight-seeing we had a great time visiting, eating, sipping our wine and talking about our new experiences.

We all know appearances aren’t everything but my friend Sue taught me that the look of things makes a difference. Whether it was the artistic way she served the delicious meals she cooked, the comfortable way she designed the interior of her home, the creative way she could organize a vase of flowers or the classic way she often dressed, Sue had a flair for presentation. It made food taste better, rooms seem more inviting, flowers look even lovelier and simple outfits appear perfect for the occasion. Sue had a talent for arranging things so their innate beauty shone through.

My friend Sue died on Monday night.  She was a successful businesswoman, adventuresome world traveler, supportive wife, caring mother, loving grandmother, wonderful cook, avid reader, wine aficionado, first class social coordinator, experienced cyclist, hardy hiker, brisk walker, talented bridge player, serious golfer, easy conversationalist, empathetic listener and many, many other things to her family and to her wide, wide circle of friends. I count myself blessed indeed to have been one of those friends. I will miss her greatly.  

Other posts…….

A Serendipitous Sail

Hecla Island Inspiration

Getting To Know A Famous Inventor




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Happy Birthday

It was my birthday yesterday. I had a lovely day. In the morning my son and grandsons called from Saskatoon to sing Happy Birthday to me. My sister took me out for lunch and we had a great visit. My one brother is in a very remote place in India but managed to find an internet connection so he could send me birthday wishes. My other brother who is on a business trip in China sent me a birthday text. Dave and I went to a movie in the evening with a friend and then out for cake and chai.  My Dad called at the end of the evening to wish me a Happy Birthday. I received lots of messages and cards and phone calls and e-mails and texts wishing me a Happy Birthday. It was a good celebration of another completed year of my life. Here are some highlights from that year. 
marylou-and-lynne-ladies-lookoutOctober- Great trip to Newfoundland with Dave and my cousin Lynne and her husband Rodlittle free libraryNovember- continuing to work on our church’s Little Free Library with these three great guys

meena-and-meDecember- Hosting our Hong Kong friends Meena and Anil

ken-and-meJanuary- hiking with my brother in Arizonaarrivederci-dinnerFebruary – Good times with family and friends in Arizonaartists at work marylou debbieMarch- creating our own great masterpieces with my T-4 friends’ groupat the manitoba book awards (1)April- Attending the Manitoba Book Awards with friends from my writers’ group

marylou and viMay- Visiting my Aunt Viola in Saskatoonchinese tour group at wagJune- Giving a Winnipeg Art Gallery tour of the Picasso exhibit to a group from Chinamarylou and alisa board walkJuly – trip to Ontario for a family gathering marylou and brotherAugust- time at Moose Lake at my brother and sister-in-law’s cottageStykkishólmur, Iceland September- Trip to Iceland

My 64th year has been a good one. Thanks to so many of you who sent me birthday wishes and affirmations about my blog posts.  Looking forward to the adventures the coming year brings and sharing them with you. 

Other posts……..

Birthdays Past

A Sunny Birthday on a Rainy Day

Happy Birthday with the T-4s


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Acts of Kindness and Love

There’s a Canadian Broadcasting Report about a young woman named Heather who after the mass shooting in Las Vegas stayed with British Columbia victim Jordan McIldoon as he died and later phoned his parents and girlfriend and made sure his body wasn’t left alone till she was certain his family would be able to find him.  She says that what she did wasn’t heroic compared to what she saw others doing.  

“People were running into the … line of fire and finding bodies and finding people and trying to save their life.”

That quote reminded me of another.

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.  -Gandalf in The Hobbit by Tolkien

It is frustrating to read the platitudes of American politicians who say they are praying for the victims and their families.  I want to tell them, “Open your eyes and get up off your knees and do something to stop this carnage in your country.”  But they won’t.  Since the great powers of the United States seem impotent it will be left to ordinary people to continue to carry out small acts of kindness and love that provide a glimmer of hope for their nation.   


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Things That Are True

At our last meeting my writers’ group discussed a recent Ted Talk given by writer Anne Lamott entitled Twelve Things I Know To Be True. I could really resonate with many of them.  Here are three I particularly liked. flat-iron-sunset

1.  Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes.  That includes you.  

When I am really stuck on a writing project or work assignment the best thing to do is just leave it for a while and go for a hike, take a nap, have a shower, read a book or go to a movie. Invariably while I am doing something completely different the solution to my writing or work dilemma reveals itself. Everyone needs to take a break sometimes and we shouldn’t feel guilty about just unplugging and giving ourselves down time. 

february baby 19792. Family life is both astonishing and hard.  

Welcoming a new child is astonishing.  Saying goodbye to a parent who has died is incredibly hard.  Watching your child accomplish something and knowing that in that moment they are truly and utterly happy is astonishing.  Watching your child go through illness, or disappointment, or loss is heartbreakingly hard. Having a family member affirm and support you is astonishing.  Accepting the criticism, silence and correction of a family member can be humbling and hard. 

hiking akaka falls state park hawaii trees

3.  God means goodness. God is a loving, animating intelligence.  Emerson said…… We learn from nature the lessons of worship. Go outside often and look up when you need to find God. 

I too think of God as good.  Bad things don’t come from God but God does send people to help us when we human beings mess up and bad things happen.  And I do feel the most worshipful and close to God when I am outside, looking at stars, walking in a forest, wading in the ocean, or tracking a bird in flight. 

In her Ted Talk Anne Lamott talks about nine other things she knows to be true.  You can hear about the other six on the Ted Talk site.

Other posts……….

Hawaii Inspiration

Thoughts on Hope

And That Led Me


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How Long?

Before he began his sermon yesterday our pastor led us in a time of prayer for peace and an end to the violence and hatred we had seen splashed across our media in recent days.  He referred to the ramped up rhetoric and violent threats that raise the possibility of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea and the hate filled speech and actions on display in Charlottesville.   Our pastor prayed for peace and love to characterize the relationships between God’s children.  He had a large Bible on a table at the front of our sanctuary open to a Psalm that begins with the words,  “How long O Lord?”  


A candle given to me after my Mom died. I had it lit as a reminder to pray for peace the day of the American election. I think I need to light it again.

How long will it take before we realize that everyone is a child of God and  threatening violence against any one of them is wrong? How long before we realize that things like the color of our skin, our gender, our country of citizenship, our religion or our political beliefs don’t give us the right to feel superior? Before he prayed our pastor lit a lamp placed just beside the Bible open to the psalm with the words……… How long? 

Other posts………

Hopeful Families in Korea

That’s How Light Gets In

Inter-Faith Dialogue- A Path to Peace

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You Are Not a Fluke

affirmation by britta b Britta B’s piece Fluke which I saw at the Art Gallery of Ontario last week is a good example of what an affirming experience it can be to view art.  britta b spoken word poetBritta is a spoken word artist and slam poetry champion from the Regent Park neighborhood of Toronto. fluke by britta b

Her work Fluke consists of a large glass jar sitting on an old ink stained school desk.  You are invited to put your hand in the jar and take out one of the folded colorful papers inside.britta b's affirmationYou read the affirmation printed on the card and then refold it and return it to the jar. While you look at Fluke you can listen to Britta reciting a poem which contains lines like ……

You are not a fluke. You know everybody’s got their insecurities, their flaws, and disadvantages, but nobody’s got you.  You are not a fluke.card from britta b's affirmation

Artist Britta B thinks most people lack affirmation. They do too much negative self talk. She wants everyone to know they deserve to be cared for.  Britta B says we have to keep reminding ourselves of all our good qualities. 

Other posts………

Katherena Vermette on the Wall

Ai Wei Wei

Self Care


Filed under Art, Reflections

Mending What We Can

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within reach.  – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

combine dadMy parents grew wheat on their hobby farm to donate to the Canadian Food Grains Bank. This grain was sent to needy countries around the world. Mrs. Claudette Brown daycare ownerClaudette Brown runs a non profit day care in Runaway Bay Jamaica. The day we visited one hundred and forty children were in attendance. street children indiaThe Salaam Baalak Trust is a charitable organization started by movie director Mira Nair. On our visit to Delhi India we saw how the profits from her films help provide street kids with food, medical care and education. jill morse talks about land mines

Jill Morse is a retired banker from California who does education work at an orphanage and Land Mines Museum in Siem Reap Cambodia. Here she completes an educational presentation at the museum for my high school students.

vi voluntary serviceMy aunt Viola worked as a volunteer in a children’s program in Washington D.C. in the 1950s. 

Connie's team MS walk
My extended family participates in the MS walk every year to help raise funds for research efforts to end the disease.

with children on bolaven coffee plantation in laos

My husband Dave with kids on a coffee plantation in Laos owned by a man named Sam Say.  Sam was a Laotian refugee brought to Canada in 1977 by a Mennonite church in Alberta. Now a successful commodities trader Sam uses his money to help impoverished Laotian families become self-sufficient coffee farmers. 

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within reach.  – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Other posts………

Visiting a Land Mines Museum

MS Walk

Street Children of Delhi

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