Category Archives: Travel

Friend For A Moment

I made another friend for the moment on our way to our winter home in Mexico.

We were standing outside the Cancun airport waiting for the bus that would take us on a four- hour ride to the city of Merida where we would be spending the next two months.  A couple who looked to be about our age came to join us and we struck up a conversation. We discovered they were also headed out to Merida for an extended stay and were from Ashville North Carolina. 

Ten Thousand Village Store in Ashville North Carolina

We had visited Ashville several years ago and I commented on some of the things we enjoyed and appreciated about the city.  I mentioned we had been surprised to find a Ten Thousand Villages store there. We told the couple the stores were a project of the Mennonite Church and we were Mennonites.  “Well then we have something in common,” said the woman.  “We are Quakers and our faiths are similar. In fact,” she told us, “we live in an intentional Quaker community near Ashville.”

Library at the Quaker School in Monteverde Costa Rica

We mentioned we had visited a Quaker school and church in Monteverde Costa Rica and they said they had visited there too and in fact an American church they had been involved with were strong supporters of the Costa Rica Quaker community.

Dave and the woman’s husband started chatting about sports teams and so I asked her what kind of career she’d had before retirement.  Turns out she was a special needs teacher and so we also had our backgrounds as educators in common. I shared that in my retirement I was working at an art gallery and she told me she had started a small business in her retirement helping people organize and clean up their homes.  This led to a discussion of a new Netflix series featuring the Japanese author Marie Kondo who has written the best selling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

That in turn got us talking about the books we were reading currently. She had just finished Michelle Obama’s biography Becoming and I was just about to start reading it.  My new friend told me she had particularly enjoyed the book because both her son and daughter-in-law who live in Washington DC had worked for the Obama administration.  Many of the stories in the book resonated with her because her children had already shared similar stories with her. She said what fine people her children had found the Obamas to be and how much they had enjoyed and appreciated working for and with them.

I was almost sorry when our bus arrived and I had to end my conversation with my North Carolina friend.

I once presented a day- long workshop about friendship to a group of women and one of my topics was Friends For the Moment.  I described the many interesting people I had met who I only known for a few moments but with whom I’d had terrific, thoughtful and sometimes even very helpful conversations.  I called them friends for the moment and encouraged the women in the workshop to think of similar friends they had made.

I was happy about making a friend for the moment as I waited for my bus in Cancun.

Other posts……..

Are Men and Women’s Friendships Different? 

My Mom’s Friends

Hopeful Friendships


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Sketching The Baker and Her Husband

On my latest sketching outing with my friend Esther I decided to try to do my own version of a work of art called Portrait of Terentius Neo or The Baker and His Wife.  It is from a fresco found in Pompeii in the home of Terentius Neo who we know was a baker because his home had been modified to include a bakery.

canadian tourists in pompeii

Visiting Pompeii with my husband Dave

1700 years after Mount Vesuvius erupted the city of Pompeii was discovered, a kind of frozen time capsule that tells us much about life in the first century AD. The Baker and his Wife was an important find by the archeologists exploring Pompeii. 

baker and his wifeThe famous fresco which now resides in an archeology museum in Naples shows a pair of middle-class Pompeii residents probably a husband and wife. The man and woman have large almond-shaped eyes.  They look like prosperous and confident merchants. The man has a wispy beard, and is wearing a toga, the mark of a Roman citizen. He holds a scroll of sorts with a wax seal.  The woman has fashionable ringlets in her hair and wears pearl earrings. She has just a hint of smile on her face.  She holds a stylus or writing implement to her chin and has a wax tablet to write on  indicating that she is educated and literate.

Paul Roberts from the British Museum who curated an exhibit which included The Baker and His Wife claims the most important thing about the fresco is that the couple in it appear to be equal business partners.  The woman who clearly keeps track of the finances for the business is not subservient at all and in fact is standing slightly forward from her husband. 

sketch the baker and his wifeMakes me wonder if the famous fresco shouldn’t have been called The Baker and Her Husband. 

Other posts………….

Visiting Pompei

The Catacombs- Myth and Reality

Channeling Norval Morrisseau

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January Jaunts

Since we retired from teaching in 2011 my husband Dave and I have always gone somewhere warmer than Manitoba in January.

guns on the deck of the bowfin

Checking out the view from a submarine in Pearl Harbor

In 2012 we headed off to Hawaii. 

saguaro cacti gold canyon arizona

Hiking in Gold Canyon Arizona

In 2013 we were in Arizona.

marylou and kids at runaway bay daycare

Visiting a daycare centre in Runaway Bay Jamaica

In 2014 we were in Jamaica.

golfing at sidewinder

Golfing at the Sidewinder Golf Course in Gold Canyon

In 2015 we were back in Arizona.

marylou biking on the beach

Riding a bike on a beach in Tamarindo Costa Rica

In 2016 we were in Costa Rica.


Hiking the Wind Trail in Arizona with my brother

In 2017 we were back in Arizona again. 

Visiting Fort Beliche castle in Sagres Portugal

In 2018 we were in Portugal. 

If we followed the pattern we’ve set we would be back in Arizona again this year but we’ve decided to do something different so in just one week we head off to Merida in the Yucatan province of Mexico the site of our 2019 January home. Looking forward to sharing our adventures with my blog readers. 

Other posts……..

Pearl Harbor- Sleeping with Torpedos

Biking the Beach in Costa Rica

Having Fun Despite Wayward Paths, A Chilling Wind and Closed Doors

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The Architect’s Apprentice

Tonight my book club at the West Kildonan Library will be discussing The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak.   Shafak, a Turkish author,  says her book was inspired by this image of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent which has an elephant in the background. The print created in 1559, during the same time period as the events in the book, is by a German artist Melchior Lorck and is in the British Museum.

Here are four things I found interesting about the novel The Architect’s Apprentice. 

Cristofano dell'Altissimo portrait of Mihrimah Sultan

Mihrimah Sultan is the protagonist’s love interest in the book.  Here she is portrayed by Italian artist Cristofan dell’Altissimo who lived at the same time as Mihrimah did.

Although the protagonist Jahan is a fictional character author Elif Shafak has populated her novel with other characters who are real.  Jahan is an apprentice to Sinan the renowned architect of the Ottoman Empire. Sinan oversaw the building of some 500 structures and nearly 200 of them are still standing. Jahan’s love interest is the Sultan’s daughter Mihrimah. She is a historical figure as well. So are the three sultans who are in power during the time Jahan serves Sinan the Royal Architect. In one section of the book Jahan and another apprentice go to visit Michelangelo in Italy. 

the architect's apprentice book coverThere are many thought provoking reflections in the book.  Here are a three I really appreciated. 

“If you carry a sword, you obey the sword, not the other way round. Nobody can hold a weapon and keep their hands clear of blood at the same time.”

“……Jahan understood his master’s secret resided ……… in his ability to adapt to change and calamity, and to rebuild himself, again and again, out of the ruins. Sinan was made of flowing water. When anything blocked his course, he would flow under, around, above it, however he could; he found his way through the cracks, and kept flowing forward”

“Stones stay still.  A learner never.” 

another edition cover of the architect's apprenticeJahan’s closest relationship in life is with an elephant named Chota. Jahan arrives in Istanbul as Chota’s keeper and immediately sets about saving Chota’s life.  I am not necessarily a big animal lover and will admit that I’ve never understood the deep love some people have for their pets, but I was quite taken with the way Jahan and Chota care for one another, know each other so well, come to one another’s defense, respect each other and provide each other with solace and comfort at crucial times. 

posing at the taj mahalAnd finally at the end of the book Jahan travels to Agra India to help design and build the dome for the Taj Mahal.  I have been to the Taj Mahal and my husband made me pose for this photo where I am appearing to hold up the magnificent structure by the top of the dome. 

Other posts……..

The Taj Mahal At Dawn

Do Buildings Have Souls?

A Story Board in a Painting




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Happy Birthday Canada

I am so thankful my great grandparents had the courage and foresight to immigrate to Canada. My Schmidt and Janz great grandparents from the United States in 1907 and my Sawatsky and Peters great grandparents from Ukraine in 1929 and……. I am forever grateful to you Canada for taking them in. My great grandparents chose a wonderfully diverse country for their new home and I have been so fortunate to explore it from sea to shining sea. With my cousin Lynne on Signal Hill in St. John’s Newfoundland.On a walk on a crisp autumn day in Quebec City Quebec.In the doorway of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s House in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. With my daughter-in-law and her sister and two of Canada’s famous five suffragettes in Ottawa, Ontario. With my husband Dave tubing at Moose Lake Manitoba. With Dave in St. Johns New Brunswick. Eating lobster in Halifax Nova Scotia. On a birthing stone at Ancient Echoes Interpretative Center in Hershel Saskatchewan. With my family on a skip trip in Banff, Alberta. With Dave (we are second and third from the right) on a kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait in British Columbia.

Other posts……..

Canada Day in Leamington

Canada Day At the Forks

On the Eastern Edge of Canada


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Should Canadians Still Travel to the United States?

Quite a number of Canadian people I know say they will not be traveling to the United States any longer.   Although in my view Donald Trump has done one morally repugnant thing after another, both before and after taking office, many feel America has crossed the final line of decency and democracy and honesty with the separation of immigrant children from their parents, the upholding of the Muslim travel ban by the Supreme Court and the president declaring that products from their closest neighbour and ally, Canada, pose a national security risk to the United States.

We have a trip to the United States planned for the fall and I am torn about whether we should go through with it.  Here is stuff I am mulling over in that regard.

We have traveled in mainland China repeatedly and their human rights record is dismal.

Is it even safe to go to the United States? The lack of sensible gun control laws means there is a mass shooting five out of every six days. 

55% of the American people do not support Donald Trump and many of the actions he has taken.  Would traveling to their country or not traveling to their country be the best way to show my support for them ?

Am I being self-righteous?  My own country’s government was hit with its fourth non-compliance order by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal this year for not providing equal services to the indigenous children of Canada. 

We will be going to Utah where my husband will be participating in a sporting tournament. Could the event provide an opening to talk to Americans in Utah and dialogue with them? Utah’s electoral votes went to Mr. Trump. Might I have the opportunity to share some of my faith and humanitarian concerns in a polite and civil way and  try to understand how their world view can differ so much from mine? 

One of the things we want to see are Utah’s stunning national parks.  President Trump is shrinking them so they can be opened up for oil, gas and coal mining potential.  If we don’t go and see them now we may not get another chance. 

Although travel to the United States from every other area of the world has declined since President Trump was elected travel from Canada has actually risen.  Should I be contributing to this trend? What kind of message does that send? 

Have you changed your American travel plans?  Do you think Canadians should? 

Other posts……..

Encouragement After the American Election

Sunset Walk in America the Beautiful

I’m So Tired of You America



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What’s In Your Carry On?

A regular feature in the Air Canada magazine Enroute is called What’s in Your Carry On? They ask a passenger what they have in their carry on and then take a picture of ten items from their carry on baggage and ask the passenger to describe them.  I decided the exercise might be fun.  So here are ten things that were in my carry on when I flew to Saskatoon on the weekend. 

ten items

Here are the descriptions of my items from top left to bottom right

Ragged Company– I am madly trying to get this Richard Wagamese book done before I attend my first book club meeting at a Winnipeg library.

Sketching Pad and pencils– I am trying to draw everyday and my older grandson loves to go through my sketch book when we get together to see what I’ve drawn and then add a few sketches of his own to its pages. 

Passport- a must for air travel these days

Go Fish Game- I taught my six year old grandson how to play Go Fish the last time we visited and he really liked it so I brought it along for us to play

Hat and sunglasses- The weather prediction for Saturday and Sunday in Saskatoon was in the mid twenties and since my son’s family likes to spend lots of time outside I wanted to be prepared. 

Birthday Gift- our younger grandson was turning two. I made him a personalized song book and my husband got him a Jets T-shirt. 

Maze Book– My older grandson likes mazes so I brought a book of them for us to do together. 

Day Planner- I never go anywhere without this.  I know I should probably keep track of my life electronically but I’m still not comfortable with that and need a planner where I can make monthly and daily plans for my life as well as have space for notes and ideas. 

Andy and the Lion-  Both my grandsons enjoy this story so I usually bring it along when I am going to see them. 

Other posts……….

A Start to our Trip That Was A Little Too Exciting

Real and Messy and Honest

Plumb Tuckered Out in Lisbon


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