Illuminative Forest of Storytelling at the Museum

A special exhibit opened March 23rd at The Museum in downtown Kitchener and runs until May 21st. I'd read the article by Barbara Aggerholm in The Grand Magazine (January/February issue 2017).

Writer Barbara Aggerholm, in her article,"Seeing the forest and the trees," called it a "multi-disciplinary art project" that used "tree concepts to explore belonging, community ties and other big questions about modern life." Indeed pictures in the magazine showed their apartment filled with the structures that would soon inhabit the Museum's third floor.

The concept intrigued me and knowing at least one storyteller, Mary-Eileen McClear, who was involved in the project, I purchased tickets and awaited the event.

My husband and I attended the opening night and listened to the various speakers that evening, including the initiators and creative spirits of Carl Hiebert and his wife, Deb Cripps.

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With iPad in hand, and some help from the Museum's tech specialist, we connected to the stories via internet and using the QR code reader and heard many of the stories of those trees: The Freedom Tree, The Elder Tree, Atonement Tree, Resilience Tree, and Serenity Tree, just to name a few.

I mentioned to my husband that evening that my father, who was passionate about trees in the environment, would have appreciated many of these stories and pieces of art.

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I knew that I wanted to go back again and experience the ones I hadn't got to, and listen to some of the other stories again. I had opportunity this past week when a friend was visiting from Nova Scotia. Deb,her Mom, and I went to The Museum together on Friday afternoon and listened to and appreciated the stories.

It was easy and delightful to plug into the stories again. For Deb and her mom, it was the first time. We nodded in agreement over some of the stories and chuckled over moments in other stories we found humorous. Listening to the oral interpretation of the readers was as enjoyable as seeing the trees and seeing them.

image4 (1).JPGimage3 (1).JPGimage6.JPGimage8.JPGimage5 (1).JPGDeb and her Mom

This exhibit runs until May 21st and so if you want to see it, go soon. The artists hope to tour this exhibit to other provinces in Canada. I hope they get the funding to do so as this is most worthwhile and applies to people across the country. What's more, it would be good to see this in book form some day, the art and interpretation beside it. That I would love. How do I tell the creators about that idea?

One last weekend, if you want to see it. It's an amazing piece of work.

photos by C. R. Wilker unless otherwise noted.


The Gift of an Elephant--Jacquie Gauthier

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"When Canadian Jacquie Gauthier was a young girl, she received a souvenir of Africa from her beloved Great-Uncle Earnest."

I've recently read The Gift of an Elephant: A Story of Life, Love and Africa, by author Jacquie Gauthier. I found it engaging and of great interest. I worked, long distance and continents away, with the author on an earlier version, and naturally, when I learned that the book was published, I wanted to read it. She did not disappoint me and had added even more content to round out her experience in Africa, where she still lives.

The book starts where she sees her husband Johann drive away soon after their marriage. She would have to spend the next thirty days without him. In those thirty days and over the course of the book, she'd learn about the culture and way of living there. The author interweaves parts of her life in Canada, visits from her great-uncle in her childhood, trips home to see family and friends, as well as running for political office, and her work in radio.

I found Jacquie's writing descriptive and compelling. Already gifted at expressing herself, I found her writing authentic and moving.

Jacquie will be launching her second book, Twenty Eight Elephants and Other Everyday Miracles, at The Power of the Purse London on October 5th at the Hellenic Centre, 133 Southdale Rd. W., London, Ontario. I hope to meet her then, in person. Perhaps on reading this first book, you too will look forward to her second one.

Look for upcoming events on her Amazon author's page: amazon.com/author/jacquiegauthier

Learn about Jacquie's photography at https://twogirlsandanelephant.com/ and find Jacquie on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jacquie.gauthier.5


Past Easter: New Growth

Today I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, as I do once a month.

13254508_10156950599670436_3886160185566086026_n.jpgphoto by a family member, May 11, 2016

Easter Sunday is past yet we're still in the Easter season in our church, a time we consider growth and renewal. It's fitting that Easter occurs in springtime. At least that's my take on it, though it may not match in other parts of the globe, with climate and different seasons.
I love watching the garden come to life, with leaves opening, buds on trees and then the early flowers appearing. First the crocuses and later the tulips and daffodils. Cheery yellow daffodils and pink tulips are among my favourites. After the white chill of winter, I'm ready for colour in my garden again. And ready for the season of gardening all over again.
This past week I took some new photos of my flowerbeds and posted several on my Facebook page. Friends say, "Already?" or "Is that this year already?" and I can reply, "Yes, it is."
Read more here
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post script: It's a year today since my father died. The photo shown at the top of the post is of the cross my father made for the church in the 1980s, under the direction of the pastor of that time, Pastor Bonnie Scharf. The small tree seedling bears a tag created by my sister Kim. Our family gave out tree seedlings in honour of Dad who was passionate about trees and their place in creation so that they might plant a tree and remember Dad.
All photos on this blog are taken by the author, C.R. Wilker, or used by permission, as noted where they appear.

Spirited Women: A Women's Retreat

Only days ago, I returned from a women's retreat titled Spirited Women. Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Waterloo hosts the off-site retreat for women and has done so for many years. Most of those retreats were held at Camp Edgewood, the Lutheran church camp in Eden Mills, Ontario. As that camp closes a history of summer camp, retreats and other events, the committee selected a new location for our 2016 get-away. We enjoyed the facility so much that Hidden Acres has become our place of choice for another year and booked again for 2018. Thank you to our retreat committee who helps make these events possible. This was the 31st annual event by the host church and one of many that I have attended and benefitted so much from.

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Our morning session began with worship under the direction of Anne Anderson, our spiritual director and teacher for the weekend retreat.

Pastor Anne introduced the theme Spirited Women. Mary, Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) ) and Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), from the Bible, would be our focus.

Anne introduced the concept of lecto divina, reading the same passage several times and reflecting on different questions each time. Starting with Mary and Elizabeth, Pastor Anne asked what words jumped out at us, what stories or memories does this passage stir in us? And what scares, confuses or challenges you?

On the last reading, the question was: What delights you in this passage and gives you hope?

As we discussed these questions among ourselves, what it might have meant to Elizabeth and Mary about their new circumstances, becoming the mother of Jesus and John the Baptist, we couln't imagine what challenges they'd face beyond what we knew of the biblical story and the expectations of women at that time in history in that place.

As we talked about the relationship between these two women, we also discussed what older women bring to relationships and the same for younger women, including cross-generational friendships. We shared who had been special in our lives, who had mentored us, offered friendship and wisdom.

After our morning session, we had opportunity to go outdoors where the sun shone. It was a bit cool, but we were prepared. Pastor Anne invited us to consider our relationship with and appreciation of nature around us. Several of us had brought our cameras, ready to capture the weekend in pictures.

DSCF0943.JPG Another of the main buildings, all well kept

DSCF0948.JPGA new dock?

DSCF0947.JPGGinny and I walked around the lake and chatted. Some sat at picnic benches, or like Pam, just soaked up the sun in the life guard tower by the lake.

DSCF0955.JPG Ginny and I met up with Nancy and Donna sitting and enjoying the sun, then sat and chatted too.

DSCF0956.JPGI brought my boots too but left them in the car. Diana and Pat needed theirs for a walk into the woods beyond the lake. I heard that they found a red trillium.

DSCF0961.JPGA walk beyond the camp buildings, these two with their matching raincoats.

DSCF0962.JPGWe wondered who built this hill. Is it a snow boarding or ski jump?

DSCF0964.JPGRefreshed after the morning session and time outdoors, we gathered for our lunch.

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In the afternoon we continued our session, discussing rituals in greeting or blessing, where we get our usual picture of young Mary, and what gifts the younger generation of women bring. We listened to the song of Mary, sang it in worship too and talked about the poetry of her song, the parallel structure that added to what we had already read. As a writer of poetry, I found that reflection of great interest.

I recalled my relationship with my husband's aunt in Indiana, a woman I met for the first time in my adult years and how that relationship strengthened over time.

As a part of this retreat, we have a craft session and every year, whoever leads it, puts great thought into it and much preparation. Helen said that the title of spirited women challenged her and reminded her of aboriginal women who are so in tune with nature. Thus we were to make a dream catcher, a challenge to us who'd never created one though we often see them around us.

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Our first task was to wrap a metal ring with jute.

DSCF0969.JPGthen create the inner structure of the catcher

DSCF0970.JPGselect our beads and feathers and strips of leather for decoration

DSCF0972.JPGMonica also wrapped her circle in leather, which made a lovely effect

DSCF0975.JPGDoris was well on her way to completing her dream catcher at this point

DSCF0977.JPGa flurry of feathers... and many colours to choose from

Likely aboriginal women would only use feathers left behind by native birds

DSCF0979.JPGWe hung our dream catchers in the windows and glass of the doors where the light shone in. We had so many dream catchers and all were different from each other, reflecting the work of each woman at the event.

DSCF0985.JPGOur den mother, Carol, at our Saturay evening traditional game of Pictionary. Team 2 won this time after a great challenge, but they weren't far ahead, only two points.

DSCF0986.JPGDoris, drawing what her word looked like

After the game, we tidied up the snack dishes and the breakfast group set out dishes and containers for the next morning. We're on our own for breakfast at retreat and we tidy our own dishes afterwards.

DSCF0994.JPGThe breakfast conversation where we got to know each other better

DSCF0995.JPG In our last session we talked about Lydia, the woman in Acts who dealt in the purple cloth. As our leader read, we were asked to think about the location, time and place in the reading. In further reflection we were asked to consider how it might be for a woman in that time and place to run her own business. We also learned that the river, or another source of water, was often a gathering place for women. We further reflected on Lydia's welcoming of Paul and his followers.

In the coming days, we have many discussions to ponder from our retreat as well as our connection with other women who attended. It was a fruitful and relaxing retreat, a time away from our busy lives. Thank you to all who made it possible.

DSCF0999.JPGA photo I took of the group. There'll be another one somewhere with me present.

DSCF1005.JPGMy dream catcher

After our photo and lunch, we had one closing session and our worship. Many hugs and we were on our way home.

DSCF1009.JPGOur den mother, Carol, with Pastor Anne, pastor at Third Space, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

Thank you, Anne.


Spring is here

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Spring is here. The signs are everywhere. Amid some cooler days and nights, the sap began to run in the maple trees. Then trees began to bud and break into leaf, and the bulbs have sent up stems and burst into bloom. Somewhere in there the robins reappeared. In time, the earth will warm further and other plants will show their buds and flowers.

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Farmers will be out on the land as it dries, to plough or cultivate the earth and get it ready for the next season's crops. And I suspect that other gardeners, like myself, are already thinking about their gardens. And those who are thinking about growing herbs and vegetables for the first time are already contemplating what comes next.

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Happy Spring!

Unless otherwise mentioned, all photos are by the author of this blog.


Trying Thai Cuisine

The second last evening of our vacation in Florida, Chris drove us to Winter Park to have dinner at a Thai Restaurant. This would be my first time to try Thai food, but I was game for it.

We asked a boy who was waiting outside for his parents to finish their dinner if he would take a picture of all four of us. He was clearly excited by our request. I'm looking forward to seeing that one. I believe Debbie has that one on her cell phone.

DSCF0855.JPGHere we are awaiting our meal. Left to right, Chris, Doris and Debbie.

DSCF0857.JPGThe window sign, Orchid.

DSCF0854.JPGNot the clearest photo, but you can see their attention to detail, the orchid on top of the dish.

The meal was delicious and the spice was about right for my palate.


Lake Eola Park

DSCF0821.JPG One of our last days in Florida, Chris took us to the outdoor market in Orlando around Lake Eola. The day was quite warm and the sun was hot. We were glad for a bit of shade along the path. I thought I had my sunscreen with me. It was in another bag, unfortunately.

DSCF0823.JPG Along the walkway we saw this magnificent structure in the lake.

DSCF0828.JPG The water was pretty clear and we could see the buildings reflected in the lake.

DSCF0829.JPG Doris and her son, Chris.

Debbie opted to visit someone she knew who lived in Florida. We went one way and she went in another direction.DSCF0832.JPG Me, posing for a change

DSCF0834.JPGSwans in this part of the lake, and another statue

DSCF0835.JPGDedication

DSCF0836.JPG Many booths, selling ethnic food, clothing, coconut milk, fruit and veggies and other wares. This day was an Arab Festival.

We met Chris's friend, Morocco, in the market area and walked to his building and went up to look out over the city from his balcony.

DSCF0840.JPG A little dizzying looking out from the 26th floor

DSCF0845.JPGDSCF0850.JPGWe see the grounds where the market is located and then we go up even higher to the roof, the 29th floor, where they have a swimming pool outside and an exercise room just inside.

DSCF0852.JPG Not so bright indoors, no squinting. Thanks for the tour, Morocco.

Then down the quiet elevator to the parking level where we found the car and drove away and back to Lake Mary.


A Day at the Beach--in February

It's good to recall those days of holidays in Florida last month. Hard to believe that it was a month ago. So much has happened since then: the birth of two new grandchildren, the release of our book Good Grief People and the Area 62 Toastmasters speech contests. I'll get back to those topics again. For now, it's time to recall the day on New Smyrna Beach.

DSCF0798.JPG We paid the fee to park on the beach and then walked through the town.

DSCF0799.JPG For a bit of fun, we posed behind this sign. First Doris and Debbie. I think the photo of me is on Debbie's phone or Doris's.

DSCF0800.JPGThere were a lot of neat shops on the main street. We found clothing, trinkets, jewelry, and of course, places to eat.

DSCF0802.JPG Debbie loves to pose.

DSCF0803.JPG Such interesting names for shops...

DSCF0804.JPG and signs in shop windows... and stuff in the stores

DSCF0806.JPG and outdoor patios for eating.

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We liked this shop a lot. It's like our Ten Thousand Villages. If a certain person has his way to tax products coming into the country, these shops will likely close, the shopkeeper said. That would be a shame.

We did a bit of shopping here. Doris and I bought a sarong to wear over a bathing suit. Such rich colours.

DSCF0809.JPG And then to the beach where Doris and I set up the chairs and soaked up some sun. We did go in the water (Atlantic Ocean) and it was a little chilly, but I had to do it anyway.

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We watched people walk up and down the beach, birds digging in the sand for juicy snacks and someone digging for crustaceans in the water.

We listened to the sound of the waves and watched them roll in, one after another. A soothing sound and one that we don't get inland.

DSCF0817.JPG These birds had a funny little skip hop as they hurried across the sand, then they'd dig in the sand with their pointy beaks. I wondered if they were sandpipers. It was entertaining watching them.

DSCF0820.JPG Our chairs sunk in the sand a bit and it was time to move them and soon time to head back to our host's home. We'd taken in the sunshine, applied our sunscreen several times and found some small shells to bring home.

We had one last wander on the main street, when we did our purchasing and found a pizza place to have some lunch. We wandered back to the car and headed away. It was a fine day at the beach and a place I'd love to come back to.

Goodbye New Smyrna Beach and Atlantic Ocean. We've enjoyed our stay.


Downtown Disney colourful at night

DSCF0769.JPG One evening, we drove into Orlando against a lot of traffic to walk through Downtown Disney. Plenty of people had come to do the same and it was neat to see the lights and action. But none of the Disney characters.

My granddaughter who adores Minnie Mouse asked, after I returned home, if we had seen her. "No," I said. "Maybe they were tired from being there all day, but I'm sure you will see Minnie when you go in the summer."

She was okay with that reply.

DSCF0770.JPGThen we saw these two character statues that actually had some moving parts. Do you know which movie these are from?

DSCF0771.JPGDebbie had a lot of fun posing on this holiday.

DSCF0772.JPG And Doris too. The sign on the floor said 'No climbing' but there's no saying you cannot pose.

DSCF0773.JPGRemember Mr. Potato Head?

DSCF0774.JPGThis dates me, I know. I remember we had such fun with Tinkertoys.

DSCF0775.JPGDoris went back for a pose with this guy.

DSCF0776.JPGWe can see the Rainforest Cafe from here.

DSCF0779.JPGDebbie

DSCF0780.JPGDoris with her son, Chris, who was our host for the week and took us some neat places.

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Merry-go-round, a ride I always looked forward to at our hometown fair when I was a child. This one in the video is elegant.

DSCF0782.JPGOr, if you don't care to open the video, here's a photo of it. It was inviting. I might have liked to go for a ride if it had been ready to take us for one. The horses were so beautiful.

DSCF0785.JPGGoofy, near the entrance to the candy shop. It seemed everywhere we went, where there was some candy or chocolate, we had to inquire if there was any that's dairy free. Debbie was disappointed each time.

DSCF0787.JPGOne of my granddaughters is worried about meeting up with an alligator at Disney. This one looks scary, but it's not real, so I was safe in saying there are none at Disney that would be on the loose. Maybe in a zoo, though.

DSCF0790.JPGLooking across the water, at the lights and the fountain.

DSCF0791.JPGFrom the bridge, another attractive site

DSCF0793.JPGAcross the bridge to another area

DSCF0796.JPGWe could see the lights on this dome from across the bridge. We saw plenty, spent nothing but time, although we did look for a certain shop that had colouring books for children, but that shop had just closed.

That day, in total, we'd done a lot of walking and that night my fitbit scored 10,000 steps.

We found a Chick-fil-A restaurant (fast becoming our favourite) where we stopped for a late, late supper. After that Chris drove us back to Lake Mary. We were quite tired by then, but it had been a good day.

We looked forward to a day at the beach. Might be the next day.


An exciting week

This past week has been full of excitement. Following our club contest at Toastmasters, Scott and I represented our club at the Area 62 contest. Scott took first place in the Evaluation Contest and I placed second in the International Speech contest.

17155533_10154267792126669_4597079398592931623_n.jpgPhoto taken by fellow Toastmaster at the close of the International Speech contest. I'm in second place, looking on as Chris holds the trophy.

17190917_1318343294897953_2997434542639630268_n.jpgScott, fellow club member of the Energetics, gets to take home the plaque for his first place. He goes on to Division contest level in District 86, at the end of March. Photo by another fellow Toastmaster in the Area.

That was Tuesday evening. During the early part of the week our family anticipated the birth of a new addition to the family. Nolan was born Wednesday early evening.

DSCN3012.JPGHolding my new little grandson, Nolan. He seemed to study our faces as we held him and he turned to hear his parents' voices

Then Friday, our book group gathered for coffee to get copies of our new book, Good Grief People, and celebrate its completion. And you know, if you're an author, that it's not the end. We planned our marketing strategies too and talked a bit about our launch, scheduled for May 6th.

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IMG_2627.JPGAnd five of six authors, including me, third from left, sending thumbs-up and raised cups to Alan in BC. He will join us in Ontario for the official book launch. Photo by Martin Meehan, another patron who was willing to take our photo using our publisher's cell phone. He hopes to write his stories too, so we had a good conversation with him.

It was a good week, the fruition of much work on everyone's part, including the new Mom.