Christmas 2019 with the T-4s
A couple of years ago the group of women I have been getting together with regularly for the last decade explored the possibility of discontinuing the practice of giving one another gifts at Christmas. It was a very good thing to think about because all too often our homes and lives become so crowded with things there isn’t a whole lot of room, time and space for people and relationships.
Of course, as friends who have cared for and supported one another for years, we definitely knew what was important about our relationship wasn’t the gifts we gave each other but the time we spent together. We decided in the end to continue the tradition of giving each other presents and I have to say I love it. Not because I need more things. I certainly don’t. But because of the love and care my friends demonstrate as they select the gifts.
This year I got a beautiful handmade card from my friend Debbie along with a box full of all kinds of different Christmas treats she had baked herself, including mincemeat tarts with a star design in the crust. I can hardly wait to share them with my family.
Esther went to Ten Thousand Villages, a store that sells fair trade items. Your purchase benefits artisans in developing countries who are trying to support their families. Esther’s package for us included fair trade hot chocolate mix, some pungent and spicy cinnamon sticks to stir the hot chocolate and nuts from South America to nibble on as we did so.
My friend Glenys had done some research and found out just how many health benefits there are from having humidifiers in your home and so she had bought one for each of us. The small steamers were inside a lovely piece of glassware. The gift was good for us and good- looking all at the same time.
I had bought a book for each of my friends and spent a long time thinking about what would suit each of them. Unfortunately, I chose a book for one friend that she had already read twice. She accused me of knowing her reading tastes “too well” but happily traded books with one of the other women.
It is certainly true people can go overboard with gift-giving and often we do receive things we don’t want or can’t use. I don’t have to get gifts from my friends to know they are my friends, but I have to admit a gift chosen with care by someone with whom you have a meaningful relationship is awfully nice.
What’s Happening With Those T-4s?
The T-4s Go Mennonite
Christmas Crafts with the T-4s
Filed under Holidays, T-4s
What’s happening with those T-4’s? I get asked that question sometimes by blog readers who have followed my adventures with a group of three friends. We have been meeting almost monthly for nearly a decade now and have visited art shows, gone mini-golfing, created art, read books, written poetry, gone to museums, walked labyrinths, solved mysteries and visited flea markets. We still get together regularly but in the last couple of years, we’ve found that just having an opportunity to talk and catch up on our lives is our top priority so our time together has been more low key and perhaps that’s why I haven’t written about us as often.
I think there are seasons in relationships and our group is in a season right now where various responsibilities and life events make it best to just find space and time to visit, share joys and concerns, and support one another.
The T-4s getting ready to share the complimentary piece of lemon meringue cake we received from the restaurant because we were celebrating my birthday
Our meeting on Saturday is a good example. We were at Pine Ridge Hollow. What a lovely venue and all decked out for Christmas! We were also celebrating my birthday because it had happened since our last meeting. I got such lovely thoughtful presents from the friends who know me oh so well. This card was made by my friend Debbie who highlights interests in my life in each square on its cover. The four women in one square are the four of us. Jane Fonda says that friendships with other women give us power, she calls them the ‘starch in our spine.’ She thinks those friendships are one of the reasons women live longer than men. I’ve read somewhere that women know instinctively how to nourish one another and just being together is restorative. I couldn’t agree more!
Friendships are constantly changing as are the ways we practice them. I am enjoying and appreciating this season in my friendship with three very special women.
At the Gates Again
Wouldn’t it be something if you could see a Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Monet, and Klimt painting all in one room? Well on Monday you could have, if you had peeked in on the T-4s the group of women I get together with regularly for fun and friendship.
Glenys works on Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life
We met at my friend Glenys beautiful home to use the present she gave each of us for Christmas- an art kit called MasterKitz that would guide us through the making of a reproduction of a famous painting. Each kit came complete with a story about the artist’s life, a set of instructions and inspirations and every single thing you would need to complete your work of art.
Esther works on Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Each of our pieces was very different and it was interesting to watch while some of us used oil pastels and others water colors or oil paints.
Debbie works on Monet’s Water Lilies.
Some of the paintings required rollers, other sponges, and some brushes.
I worked on Wassily Kandinsky’s Black Lines.
One painting had stickers to adorn the work while I put the finishing touches on my artwork with carbon paper and a pencil.
We started off the afternoon with a celebration of our friend Debbie’s birthday and of course the art project moved along every so much more smoothly with the wine, fruit, cheeses and sweets Glenys had provided.
We had a lovely time and we each went home with our masterpiece as well as enough supplies in our MasterKitz to create another one if we wanted to.
Due to my two months in Arizona I hadn’t seen the T-4s for quite some time so it was lovely to spend an afternoon catching up and being creative together.
You can read about more T-4 adventures here.
Our first Christmas in our Winnipeg condo in 2011 three of my friends bought us a wreath to decorate our new home. I have continued to meet with those friends about once a month ever since and it has been a significant source of joy and support in my life. I actually made the list of questions I’ve been featuring on my December blog posts for our Christmas party this year. Christmas Question #5 is “What is a special gift you received for Christmas?”
This wreath would certainly have to be one of my special gifts. I hang it up every year at the beginning of December and it helps me get into the Christmas spirit and reminds me of three good friends who have walked the journey of the previous year with me. Here is our 2016 photo in front of the wreath.
Christmas Question #4-The Circle of Life
Christmas Question #3- Beer and Pretzels
Christmas Question #2- Chili Soup
Christmas Question #1- A Christmas Carol Saved Our Lives
Filed under Holidays, T-4s
I celebrated my birthday with three good friends who I meet with regularly. We call ourselves the T-4s. For our October party we were spending a crafty Saturday afternoon together. But……… we started with lunch. We each made our own little pizzas on naan bread.
Delicious!We had each brought projects to work on after lunch. Esther was using different pencil shadings to complete a picture in her English countryside colouring book, while Glenys was making plastic covers for take home reading books for her grade one classroom.
My friend Debbie was helping me make a Christmas stocking for my new grandson. I had bought a kit but would never have been able to put the stocking together without Debbie’s expertise and sewing skills. My friend Esther and I both have fall birthdays and Glenys had made us a beautiful cake to share. There were gifts for both of us too.
It was a perfect way to mark my birthday.
On Sunday Dave and I hosted sixteen people from our family for a turkey dinner and we celebrated Thanksgiving and both my birthday and my Dad’s birthday.
And so another year has begun!
A Sunny Birthday on a Rainy Day
On Friday my three friends and I who call ourselves the T-4s, set off on another one of our adventures. This time we headed for the tiny Mennonite village of Neubergthal, Manitoba which was named a National Historic Site in 1989. We started with a drive down the streets of the village lined with cottonwood trees planted by the original Mennonite settlers in 1876. They brought the seeds with them from Ukraine when they emigrated.
First we toured the Friesen House with our very knowledgeable guide Paige. She showed us the beautiful way Mennonite women used to handpaint the floors in their homesIn the pantry we saw the pie shelf, a handy way for the Mennonite housewife to cool a whole oven full of fruit pies at one time. We looked at the honeymoon suite. It got its name because at one point two of the children in the family that owned the house got married in the same year and couldn’t afford farms of their own yet. So both couples stayed in this room together for a year before they set up their own farms. The sides of the narrow wooden beds did pull out to make them a little wider. After trying on some traditional Mennonite garb we headed to the barn which is attached to the house. This meant farmers didn’t have to go outside in cold or blizzardy weather to tend to cattle. The barn also offered a sheltered place for doing laundry and……….
there was a traditional outhouse in the barn, also handy for winter use. The heat of the animals’ bodies in the barn kept you warm and there was no need to go outdoors to the bathroom. Newspaper was supplied for toilet paper and there was a toilet for children too. Then we were off to the Hamm house across the street. Marilyn and Ray Hamm still make their home in the traditional Neubergthal house barn Ray’s grandparents once lived in. The Hamms were excited to meet my friend Esther who used to work at MCC with Ray many years ago and was a frequent guest in the Hamm home.
Ray and Marilyn told us about the history of their house and Marilyn even showed us how the old pump organ in the livingroom worked.
Later we had lunch at the Jasmine Tea Room in Altona a perfect place to talk about our adventure over homemade soups, fresh salads and warm biscuits with jam.
Paige will still be giving tours in Neubergthal for the next couple weeks so check out their website if you are interested in learning more about Mennonite history in a ‘hands on’ interesting way.
Introducing Friends from India to Mennonites
Should the T-4s Get Tattoos
Mennonites in Gone Girl
Filed under History, T-4s
I’d always wanted to visit the Carol Shields labyrinth in Winnipeg’s King’s Park. On Victoria Day I did with my group of friends the T-4s.
We started our afternoon with a picnic lunch. My friend Esther had picked up all kinds of salads, feta cheese, pitas and humus at a Greek Deli. I’d made little desserts and brought an assortment of beverages. It was a picture perfect afternoon. Sunshine, blue sky, puffy clouds, blossoming trees and the scent of lilacs in the air.
After lunch Debbie painted a watercolor while the rest of us did some sketching.
Then it was off to walk the labyrinth in Kings Park built in honor of Pulitzer Prize winning Manitoba author Carol Shields perhaps best known for her novel Stone Diaries.
At the entry to the maze is a billboard explaining who Carol was and the significance of the labyrinth.
At the rear is a wall containing quotes from Carol’s writing.
My favorite was…………
The whole thing about mazes is that they make perfect sense only when you look down on them from above. There can be one route or many. It means that are lives are open.- from the novel Larry’s Party
Before we started sketching Esther inspired us by reading the lyrics of a song about the creative process called I Think A Thing from a musical about artist Emily Carr
A picnic, some sketching, good friends, good food and walking a literature maze. It WAS a picture perfect afternoon!
Other T-4 adventures…….
Welcoming Spring with the T-4s
What’s Happening with the T-4s?
Just look at this elegant English tea party arrangement! On Saturday I got together with three former teaching colleagues. We call ourselves the T-4s and about once a month or so we spend an afternoon or evening together. This time we enjoyed a real British tea at my friend Glenys’ beautiful home. She and Debbie had pulled out all the stops to arrange for a fun afternoon complete with dainties to die for, two kinds of tea and a perfectly appointed tea table. Decorations included my friend Debbie’s lovely collection of quaint David Winter cottages and……… a family heirloom from Glenys’ aunt, a musical teapot that played Tea for Two when you picked it up. We ended the afternoon with rounds of Password and Catch Phrase which sometimes involved such crazy clues that we were all laughing too hard to give an answer.
The T-4s Solve a Mystery
Make New Friends But Keep the Old
On Saturday my friends and I met at Enigma Escapes a new kind of entertainment option in Winnipeg that is really fun. We were locked in a room and had exactly one hour to find the lost jewel of Zanzibar. We had to unearth many different kinds of clues in the room and figure out how they all fit together. We needed to follow maps, solve riddles, break codes and decipher puzzles to locate the jewel. We were a pretty good team and even finished a few minutes before our hour was up. I can’t tell you much more because I don’t want to spoil your experience if you decide to try to find the lost jewel of Zanzibar.
Make New Friends But Keep the Old
Pine Ridge Hollow