Sunday, September 07, 2014

Keynote speaker at upcoming SAGE conference

I am very proud to be invited to be the keynote speaker at the   VTAM/TEAM SAGE Conference (Vocational Teachers Association of Manitoba and Technology Educators Association of Manitoba). 

This is quite an honour and a bit like coming home. I recall as a new teacher how I looked forward each year to to attending this conference and never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would one day be a keynote speaker. 

The conference is going to be at Winnipeg Technical College (now Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology). I have a special affinity to MITT as it was the last place where I taught as part of the public school system. I am posing some questions that I want the audience to think about because they were the same ones I was grappling with when I was a vocational teacher. 

I do hope that non-vocational instructors attend too as do administrators who work in vocational schools but may not themselves have a vocational background. I am also facilitating a workshop on how a professional growth plan really helps teachers focus on their professional development. I like that a number of the workshops will focus on teaching and learning in addition to subject matter content.

If you are a Manitoba teacher or know one who may be interested, pass the information along.  

Saturday, September 06, 2014

... still a proud mama

My baby graduated from her Corrections Canada training program in Regina and we were supposed to go to the graduation ceremonies yesterday (first time she's attending a post-secondary graduation). But I guess it was not to be. Our flight was booked for at least a week and Thursday when I was trying to check in, I could not. 

After several failed attempts, I finally read the email from Air Canada carefully and noted that the time they had for my check-in at 11:55 am was was much later than the 8:15 am flight we were supposed to get. Air Canada cancelled the flight so even if we got there are 12:10 pm, we'd miss the graduation. 

My consolation prize was a couple of photographs emailed from Sub just after her graduation. I am very proud of her. She is coming home for a few days before going back to Edmonton to start her new job. 

Subhadra's graduation (4th from the right in the front row)

Subhadra with some of her instructors

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Visiting Regina - on purpose

We went to Regina last weekend to visit Subhadra in her Corrections Officer training program at the RCMP depot. I quite enjoy a prairie drive with the endless big open skies and the fields of wheat, flax, sunflowers, soybean and all the other crops that keeps us and much of the world fed. 

Before I went, I checked out some hiking trails outside of Regina and decided that the Wascana Trails seemed like a nice trail to do a day hike. So the plan was to go on Saturday morning and do a 3-4 hour hike. All well and good but the weather did not cooperate because the rain that was supposed to fall in the  afternoon and night started in the morning just as we reached the trailhead. So the best we could do was to sit in the car with the window barely wound down and take some pictures so I could at least say I was there. 

Most people think of the prairies as flat and boring but the trails looked very similar to the Pembina Valley area hike that I did in June. The Wascana Creek runs through the hiking area; it looks more like a winding river through rolling hills and valleys. 

On the way back to the main highway, we passed the Condie Nature Refuge (used to be called Boggy Creek and still has a small house by that name close by) and stopped for a few minutes. By then the rain had stopped but it was too wet to do much more than stop for washroom break and take a few pictures of the lake (actually a reservoir which was dammed by CN for their steam engines. There were a few birds that I did not recognize and I wished it was a bit drier so we could walk around a bit. I satisfied myself with the pictures and went back to Regina. 

Afternoon and evening spent walking the mall and being thoroughly amazed that there were so many, many people everywhere, and I really do mean - EVERYWHERE -  wearing Saskatchewan Rough-riders clothes and even green hair! Apparently, the fans are so loyal, they can even be found on the beaches in far off countries where no one else knows what a  Roughrider is, wearing their team clothes. On this day though, there actually was a game because when we were out for dinner, several came in after the game will full attire. I guess you have to be from Saskatchewan to understand.  I didn't quite get it but then I am not from Saskatchewan. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slipping in a hike in Banff

This was a busy month for birthdays Breen on August 8, Zaman on August 9/10 (started on Aug 9 and was actually born on Aug 10) , Ronin on August 13 and Sunita on August 14. So happy birthday to each of you. 

Since Zaman turned 60, it was cause for a big celebration so I flew to Calgary for the birthday party and while I was there, we did a girls day hike at Johnston Canyon just outside of Banff. 

We (me, Bena, Shakila and Terry) made it up to the Lower Falls and it was as lovely as I remembered it from 1975. This time I was wearing hiking gear rather than the wooden Dr. Scholl's sandals that I was wearing back then (to be fair, we didn't know we were going for a hike so we were not prepared with the appropriate footwear).

Shakila and Terry waited for us and Bena and I hiked to the Upper Falls, took some pictures and made our way down. 

We found a nice picnic area just outside of the canyon and had a lovely lunch that we packed from home. The hawk below was sitting on the table when we arrived and we shooed him away. He was not a happy bird so he alternated between the ground and the nearby tree squawking at us until we finally ate and moved away.   

Then it was off to Lake Louise for a photo op. That was also as beautiful as I remembered it but the glacier between the two peaks is significantly smaller than I remember it. Global warming or is global warming a conspiracy theory and the melting glacier is only a mirage. 

The Canadian Rockies can inspire awe whether you see it for the first time or the 131st time. This has only been a few times for me but I still marvel at its beauty. No matter where your eyes turn, there is a glorious scenery to behold. 


Banff Springs Hotel

Rockies behind Banff Springs

Mountains from downtown Banff 

Bear-y scary!! 
We headed to Banff where we visited Sulfur Mountains Pool, The Banff Springs Hotel and had a lovely dinner before heading back to Calgary to arrive home at 10:30pm. The birthday party was still continuing from Saturday and it was Monday evening. That's another Guyanese multi-day birthday. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Blue Lotus Interview on PBS (May 2014)

I did this interview for my book back in May but it had to be uploaded to You Tube which took a few weeks. Then I got busy and forgot to post the link. So here it is: In Search of the Blue Lotus interview!


Jingle Bells and Hoops

On my visit to Lower Fort Garry a few days ago with some Chinese students who are here for a 2 weeks summer camp, I had the honour of watching a demonstration by an Aboriginal group of dancers who were commemorating the making of Treaty 1 between two First Nations and the crown.  The dances were an unexpected treat and rather than trying to explain any of it, I'll let the pictures and videos speak for themselves. 

Jingle dress dancer

Interpretive dancer

Hoop dancer




Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Nothing better than a Guyanese wedding

Last weekend was a very busy one with Shelley's wedding that I barely remembered that it was our 44th wedding anniversary on Friday. For anyone Guyanese who is reading this, you will know what a production a Guyanese wedding can be and this one was no different, even though it was in Winnipeg. 

The preparations started many months ago when Shelley asked me to make the Guyanese wedding cake. I promptly ground the fruits and soaked it in bottles of wine. Then I baked the cake on the long weekend in May and continued to drench it in wine for the next month. 

June was the wedding shower. Last Thursday was the henna party - not hen but it could have been with the number of women there - with about 50-70 women, most of them getting henna on their hands. There was much music, dancing and food but I was so busy getting food on the table that after everyone was done eating, I left, feeling too tired to sit around. 

Friday evening was the Muslim religious service with about 60-80 people in attendance. I was one of three people organizing the serving of the food which included curried duck, stewed chicken, roti, rice, dhall and an assortment of veggie curries. Oh yes, then there was mittai as the sweet. Lovely dinner. 

Saturday was the Hindu wedding and from the pictures below, Shelley looked better than any movie star I have seen. She was so stunning that although the groom was handsome enough, everyone couldn't help but stare at her beauty. I've known Shelley since the day she was born and I've watched her grow up as I have her brothers Ameen and Esau. They are always loving and respectful. So to see her looking this stunning gave me such a feeling of pride. 

My cousin Shakila is visiting from Guyana so she attended the events with us. I don't remember her being this short but from the picture below, either I must have gotten taller since I left Guyana in 1970 or she shrunk.  

Sunday was the reception for which I was the Mistress of Ceremonies. It was a full weekend of festivities, very reminiscent of a wedding in Guyana. I am getting my Guyana experience from my flowers in my sunroom and and from preparing for and attending the wedding. 

Shakila & Sandra

Shelley in her bridal dress

Shelley and Amit

Thursday, July 24, 2014

An almost tropical summer

This has been an awful summer in terms of weather with hardly any warm days and way too much rain. After a very long and cold winter, I think everyone in Manitoba was looking forward to what turns out to be beautiful summers but this has not been the case this year. 

I look forward to putting my tropical plants in the sunroom for the summer so that it feels like I am on a tropical vacation every day. I am very pleased to see that my hibiscus is rewarding me with so many flowers that each morning when I open my curtains to the sunroom and I am greeted with a sight similar to the one below. My anthurium lily is also rewarding me with lots of lilies. 

So although I am far from the tropics, I am vicariously enjoying a bit of it from my hammock in the sunroom.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A stroll down memory lane

I was in Edmonton last week to see my grandbabies and we decided to go to Fort Edmonton Park for the morning. I recall visiting there many, many years ago when Bena was living in Edmonton and I loved it. It's a recreation of a historical time in Edmonton's history. The streets are a replica of from different periods of time from 1885 to the 1920s. 

I walked into some of the houses and I felt that I had walked back in time - that's time in my own life!! There was a coal iron (used no electricity) that I remembered my grandmother used to use when I was little. Then there was the electric iron that I used as a teenager. It had no automatic thermometer so it got so hot that we used to have to unplug it periodically to prevent the clothes being scorched or burnt. One day my mom told me to go do the ironing and I was angry that I had to do it so I stomped upstairs and started pounding down the iron on the clothes as if somehow sheer force would get the clothes ironed. I was not very careful when standing it on the back end and the extremely hot iron fell on my forearm. I shook it off but not before I got two more burns on my arm that took months to heal. I am surprised that I still like ironing after that episode. 

Coal iron

Electric iron
 We had a gramophone similar to this when we lived in Belair but slightly more modern.
 Then there was this push mower that I used in 1970 when I came over to Canada. It was so dull that it would probably put you to sleep in an instant if it could talk.

 Push lawn mower

Mom had a beautiful Singer sewing machine which worked with pedals where lots of clothes were made for us - although I don't remember Mom sewing them.
Sewing machine

Apparently I was dressed "inappropriately" for the times as my ankles and shoulders were showing. Only a certain kind of woman would be dressed so scandalously!

Scandalous attire
 Mike did some time in jail because he was naughty
Mike doing hard time
 And this I remember for sure. The outhouse which was famously called the latrine. I disliked using it but when you gotta go, you gotta go.
 Then my poor grandson had to serve some time in jail with his dad - fortunately only for this photo op.
Ronin doing time too - poor baby!
 I just like this wood stove. It reminds me of when we used to go to the cottage at Gull Lake in the summer There was a woodstove there but I only remember using it once.

Great day with the grandkids and Mike.