Category Archives: Travel

Oh To Be…….

We’ve just learned the trip to Churchill Manitoba we had booked for the end of July won’t be happening. The tour company says unfortunately government health regulations will not have eased enough by then to make the tour possible.

Dave and I are avid travellers. We’ve been to more than a hundred destinations around the world in the last twenty years. Although we knew international travel wouldn’t be back for a long time, and national travel might not return till the fall, we really hoped travel within our own province would be possible this summer. But alas, that will not be the case. So I thought I’d travel vicariously in this post returning to some great travel experiences we’ve had in the past.

Oh to be……………..

Rafting in Bali

Hiking in Arizona

Snorkeling in Fiji

Cheering in Toronto

Dancing in Shangra Li

Exploring in Rome

Napping in Vietnam

Relaxing in Florida

Chilling in Costa Rica

Golfing in Thailand

Dino-hunting in Utah

Rickshawing in Beijing

Cenote-swimming in Mexico

Toasting in Singapore

Climbing in Iceland

Kayaking in Laos

Mud-bathing in Israel

Motorcycling in Taiwan

Tutoring in Jamaica

Tree-hugging in Hawaii

Eating in Hong Kong

Cycling in Portugal

Safaring in India

Museum-hopping in Spain

Beach-bumming in Australia

Sightseeing in Cambodia

Time- traveling in Quebec City

Picnicking in Ukraine

Sailing in New Zealand

Shivering in Prague

Laughing in Japan

I’m thankful for so many great travel memories to keep me company during these days when I can’t travel and I need to stay home.

Other posts……..

A Different Kind of October

How Are They Doing?

Swimming with Manatees


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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


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

The Hands of A Basketball Player- Michelangelo’s David

michelangelos-david-wiki-art-public-domain“He’d a make a great basketball player. Look at those big hands.” That was my husband’s first comment as we walked up to the statue of Michelangelo’s David in the Academia Gallery in Florence, Italy. The white marble statue is 17 feet high and shows David ready to fight Goliath, the Philistine giant.

David’s hands do look big, but Michelangelo made them that way because initially David was created to stand outside a palace, rather than in an art gallery.  From up close you can see the veins in his hands. 

I’m standing by the sculpture of David in the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence

Michelangelo thought people would be viewing David from far away. He wanted them to be able to see all the details of his statue, including David’s hands. Although some people think the 29-year-old Michelangelo made a mistake when he carved David’s large hands, experts agree their size was deliberate.

I took this photo of Michelangelo’s statue just outside the Uffizi Gallery

At age 24 Michelangelo began visiting morgues. He would cut up unclaimed corpses and study their anatomy. He was as well-trained as any physician in the body’s structure. He wouldn’t have made a mistake with David’s hands. He wanted them to be larger than life and powerful. From up close you can see the very veins in his hands. 

Two other artists had rejected the piece of marble Michelangelo used for David because they claimed it lacked perfection. Michelangelo was able to create something beautiful despite the flawed material he had been given.

We visited the statue of David on a February day along with a few other hardy souls who were braving Florence at the coldest time of the year. The absence of the crowds that usually mill around David made it possible for us to spend about 40 minutes examining not only his hands but all his features from every side. 

David has a determined, focused look in his eye. His cheeks are smooth and his upper lip is just a little bigger than the lower one. His nostrils are slightly flared, his brow mildly furrowed and his hair classically curly.

You can see the clear outline of his rib cage. His elbows appear calloused and rough and his feet are crusty and cracked. 

My husband Dave is right. Michelangelo’s David does have big hands. He also has a big heart, one filled with enough courage, confidence and youthful enthusiasm to try the impossible and succeed.

Just the way his creator Michelangelo succeeded when he took an imperfect piece of marble and turned it into something that has become one of the most universally recognized pieces of art in the world.

If you liked this post you might also like…….

Galileo’s Grocery List

A Bizzare Museum in Florence 


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Filed under Art, Culture, Italy, Travel

A Different Kind of October

Since Dave and I retired from teaching in 2011 October has been the month we usually set off on some kind of short adventure. We spend two weeks or so in a place we’ve never been before to learn new things and do new things.

Last October we were on a cycling trip in Croatia.

In October 2018 we were in Utah.

In October of 2017 we were in Iceland.

In October 2016 we were in Newfoundland.

In October of 2015 we were in Quebec City.

In October of 2014 we were visiting family in southern Ontario.

In October of 2013 we had just returned from a reunion with some of our Hong Kong students in Toronto.

In October of 2012 we made a trip to New York City.

In October of 2011 we visited Chicago.

Even though we can’t have a two week adventure in another place this October it is nice to remember our past October travels and to dream about places we might go in future Octobers when the world is a little more stable.

Other posts………….

Autumn’s Beauty on the Black Sand Beaches of Iceland

Visiting my Students in New York

A Perfect Last Day in Utah


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How Are They Doing?

Forbes magazine published a report this week that claims the tourism industry is facing more than a trillion-dollar loss because of the pandemic. A hundred million jobs have been put at risk as tourism has dropped by about 78% worldwide. In a normal year, about a billion and a half people are international tourists. I was surprised to learn that in many places one in every ten people’s jobs depends at least partially on tourism.

That got me thinking about all the wonderful people in so many different jobs who have helped to make our travels so memorable. What has become of all of them? What is happening to ………….

Sunlini, my expert golf caddy in Tanah Lot in Bali?

Rong, our amazing cycling guide in Yangshuo in Guangxi Province in China?

The musicians who entertained us on the bridge in Prague in the Czech Republic?

The jovial waitresses who served us holopchi in Yalta in Ukraine?

Khom who was the curator of a landmines museum in Siem Reap in Cambodia.  

Sanih Nasri a teacher in Bata Putheh Borneo and his wife Hanina, who supported their own children’s schooling by having homestay guests in their house?  We stayed in their home and in this photo, I am with their daughter Hana.   Mr Singh our unflappable driver during our highway trip from Dehli to Agra to Jaipur in India? dee dee snorkel guide in boracay philippinesDee Dee our snorkelling trip organizer in Boracay in the Philippines.  

The women who were our fabulous masseuses in Progresso in the Yucatan province of Mexico? The amazing cook who made us special okonomiyaki pancakes in Hiroshima Japan? Andre the superb naturalist who taught us all about the cloud forest in Costa Rica? 

I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself because I can’t travel but what about all these people who depended on tourists to support their families or their education or their communities?  I can only hope they will be able to find new ways to make a living or that the pandemic will end soon and they will once again be able to use their skills and talents to educate, entertain, care for and enlighten others. 

Other posts…………

We Placed Our Lives in His Hands

Hiroshima Pancakes

Visiting A Land Mines Museum

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Travel

My How The World Has Changed – Self-Isolation Day 9

Yesterday I thought about some of the places we’ve been in the world and did a little research on how they are being impacted by the pandemic. 

My husband Dave is picking out a pastry for his breakfast in Madrid.  Bakeries are one of the few kinds of businesses that have stayed open in Spain where the death toll from the coronavirus jumped by 514 yesterday.

In Dehli, India I am visiting a shelter for street children.  Yesterday Dehli was placed on a complete lockdown by the government. What will happen to the three million people who live on that city’s streets? 

Dave snapped this photo just after we toured the Colosseum in Rome. The Colosseum and many other tourist attractions in Rome are closed to the public now as Italy fights the coronavirus. It is predicated Italy will lose about 30 billion euros in tourist revenue because of the pandemic. Dave taking part in an elephant show in Thailand. I read in yesterday’s New York Times that many elephants used for tourism in Thailand have just been abandoned by their owners because the coronavirus has left their businesses without clients. Owners can no longer afford to feed or care for their elephants.  I am under a kiwi tree in a kiwi orchard in New Zealand.  It is harvest time for kiwi right now and orchard owners have been getting out the word that they would be happy to hire people from New Zealand’s hospitality and tourism industries who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Normally 25% of their harvest workers are backpackers from around the world who need part-time work. The backpackers have all gone back to their home countries so there is a shortage of labourers. Dave and I stand near the harbour in Stykkishólmur, Iceland.  Yesterday Iceland had 648 confirmed coronavirus cases the highest number per capita in the world. An article I read yesterday says the extensive testing and population screening in Iceland has revealed there are 40 mutations of the coronavirus in Iceland alone. Mutations make the virus more contagious but less dangerous to those who get it. We toured Croatia on bicycles.  But on Saturday people were warned not to go on bike rides in Croatia after the country reported 78 new coronavirus cases in one day. Buses, trams, railways, cable cars and ferries all ceased operation. People were even discouraged from taking walks.  A message from the government said only immediate family members could attend funerals and all children’s playgrounds would be closed.

On a misty morning, Dave and I stand in the rain forest in Costa Rica. A spokesperson  for  The Alliance of Peoples and Forests in Costa Rica says the destruction of the rain forest can encourage the emergence of diseases like the coronavirus.  Loss of habitat has brought wild animals into closer contact with humans allowing diseases like COVID-19 to jump the animal-human barrier and spread through human-to-human contact. 

Dave stands in front of a wall at the United Nations in New York with the verse from Isaiah 2:4 that speaks of a time when the world will not learn war anymore. On Monday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres urged all warring factions in the world to lay down their weapons so everyone can join the bigger more important battle against COVID-19.

I pose beside the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. This is where Jesus is said to have healed a lame man. This morning The Jerusalem Post reported over 2170 cases of the virus in Israel. I know there won’t be an instant miraculous cure for the coronavirus like the one Jesus provided to the lame man. But I do think if we act on Jesus’ teachings about what it means to be a neighbour, if we obey his injunction to care for the least of those among us, and if we follow his guideline to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” we will get through this crisis and our world will be better because of it. 

Other posts…………

Our Heads in the Clouds

The Pool of Bethesda- Personal Connections

Meeting the Street Children of Dehli


Filed under Health, Self Isolation Diary, Travel

Road Trip

train on the prairieWe are on our long drive down to Arizona. We left early Friday morning and during the sunrise I noticed the silhouette of a train snaking its way across the southern Manitoba prairie.  I wondered if the train would reach its destination or be stopped by protesters expressing their dissent and concern with the government’s decision to build a pipeline in northern British Columbia.

real christians obey jesus' teachingsDriving through North Dakota we saw a huge billboard with a message in giant letters.  Real Christians Obey Jesus’ Teachings.  It made me wonder which teachings of Jesus the Americans who paid for the sign were talking about. Were they referring to………

Sell everything you own and give it to the poor.

Love your neighbour as yourself.

Let the children come to me.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Obey Jesus’ Teachings– prophetic words I thought in a country where tax breaks for the rich are the order of the day, a wall is being built to keep out the neighbours to the south, refugee children are separated from their parents and locked up, and a huge percentage of the country’s budget goes to the military.

driving in south dakotaIn South Dakota there was a lot of blowing snow on long stretches of our route and even some drifts on the road.  Thankful I am married to a professional driver who was at the wheel and navigated us capably through the danger.

dave and marylouValentine’s Day was our first day on the road so as we drove we listened to two love stories on the podcast Heavy Weight.  One was about a suitcase full of love letters between a girl in Venezuela and a young man in the United States. The geographical and cultural divide between the two of them resulted in them marrying other people. Another story was about a couple who remained supportive friends throughout their lives but fate determined they never could marry.  Both stories were sad and had me in tears. I realized how fortunate I am that my own love story didn’t end that way.  

On our second day of driving, we were in Nebraska and had to slow down twice because wildlife was on the road, once a huge flock of wild turkeys and another time a herd of deer. Dave pointed out a trio of flying eagles and I spotted a number of what I think were rotund woodchucks.In Denver Colorado we enjoyed a great evening with two couples who were good friends of ours during the six years we taught in Hong Kong. 

This morning we hit the road again for the next phase of our journey. 

Other posts……..

On the Road

Off Road Adventure




Filed under Travel

January Past and Present

Today I will give two tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery one to teachers and one to university students and then in the evening, I will attend an amazing show at The Forks where my son’s band Royal Canoe will give a concert on instruments made out of ice!  It’s going to be a great day.

One of the interesting things about keeping a daily blog is the ability it gives me to travel back in time and see where I was and what I was doing on this date in the past. Here’s what I was up to in past Januarys.

In 2012 I was exploring a Lava Tree park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

In 2013 I was having a great time with my friend Esther in Gold Canyon Arizona.

 In 2014 I was working at a tutoring centre in Runaway Bay Jamaica. In 2015 I was hitting the links in Arizona with my friends Rudy and Sue.

In 2016 I was biking on a beach in Tamarindo Costa Rica.

In 2017 I was doing lots of hiking with my brother in Arizona.

In 2018 I was touring Lisbon in Portugal. In 2019 I was swimming in a cenote in Mexico.

I wonder what I will be doing as January comes to a close in 2021?

Other posts……….

Silly Mountain

Swimming in a Cenote

Biking on the Beach


Filed under Travel

My Globe Trotting Parents

When I was at my Dad’s yesterday he mentioned that his big map of the world was definitely something he wanted to move over to his new assisted living apartment.  He wondered if there would be room for it.  I assured him we would find a place. We gave the map to my parents in 2000 as a Christmas gift and they bought dozens of these little coloured pins and marked all the places in the world they had visited.  And there were plenty!  Mom and Dad travelled extensively.  Their trips usually had some service or learning component.  

After I was already married and attending university my parents travelled to Holland with the rest of my siblings and an aunt and uncle and their daughter.  

Dad and Mom spent considerable time in mainland China where Dad was a visiting lecturer at medical universities.

Dad and Mom took my two brothers to Haiti where Dad did a short term assignment as a doctor for Mennonite Central Committee.  

Dad did similar medical stints in Cambodia and Paraguay. 

Mom and Dad travelled to the Middle East and to Africa.  

Dad went on a trip with his father to the Soviet Union. 

Mom went on a trip with her sister to Belize. 

Mom and Dad came to visit us when we lived in Hong Kong. 

They went to Hawaii and Mexico for medical conventions. 

Mom and Dad came to visit us when we lived and worked on the Hopi First Nation in Arizona. 

We went on a trip with them to Disneyworld in Florida. 

Mom and Dad took our whole family on a ski trip to Banff. 

And then, of course, there were all the Christmas and summer trips when we were kids to visit our grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins in Saskatchewan. 

And family summer vacations to Expo 67 in Montreal, to Flin Flon Manitoba, to California, to the Grand Canyon and to the Black Hills. 

Sometimes people wonder why my siblings and I all like to travel so much.  Mmmmmm  I wonder who might have been our role models? 

Other posts………….

At the Farm

A Fern

Mom’s Hymnal


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Are They Star Maps?

When I show these works of art by Jitish Kallat to kids at the Winnipeg Art Gallery they always think they must be star maps. The children are quite surprised when I tell them they are really raindrop maps or designs. The artist Jitish Kallat calls them Rain Studies. He makes them during the monsoon season in Mumbai, India.

Kallat uses watercolor pencils to make dark circles on woven paper.  Then during rain showers he steps outside and holds up the paper to the sky, allowing rain to fall on it for a certain number of breath cycles.  A breath cycle is breathing in and then out.  The raindrops leave an imprint on the dark circle and he sprays it to preserve it and then wipes the paper dry. In these three pieces, you can see how the length of time Kallat remains outside makes a difference in the designs.  Kallat has noted the number of breath cycles he held each circle up to the rain. The first one was for two breath cycles, the second for four and the third for seven.  Kallat uses a BC abbreviation and he pencils in the number of breath cycles by each dark circle.  He also records the time and date of each rain study. During some of the rain studies, it must have been raining quite hard and in others, quite lightly. The images do look very starlike, almost like astronomical charts. Kallat says in a New York Times interview that nature makes the artwork.  He doesn’t.  

Kallat’s Rain Studies are part of the current Vision Exchange exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It closes in just a couple of weeks so if you haven’t seen it already you want to be sure to go before summer ends.  

Other posts about the Vision Exchange exhibit……..

Warli Art

Don’t Forget About Us

Wrestling Farmers

Carpet Conversation

Sports Equipment and Salt

Hyphenated Lives


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Filed under Art, India, winnipeg art gallery