Monday, August 30, 2010


I almost forgot to mention the connection between everyone's very favourite bear, Winnie the Pooh, and Winnipeg!

Winnie the Pooh, immortalized in the delightful series of books by A.A. Milne, was modeled after a real black bear in the London Zoo.

In 1914, while en route to England during the First World War, Colonel Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian with the Fort Garry Horse Militia purchased an orphaned black bear cub for $20.00 from a trapper in White River, Ontario. Winnie, the little black bear, became the regiment mascot and when the Fort Garry Horse were shipped out, Winnie was surreptitiously brought along. Winnie, by the way, was named after the Colonel's hometown of Winnipeg.

Winnie was left at the London Zoo while Colonel Colbourn and his unit were in France and he was eventually gifted to the Zoo, where he captured the hearts of many children, including that of Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne's son.

The only known oil painting of Winnie the Pooh by Ernest H. Shepard, the original illustrator for the books, is now hanging in a gallery in Winnipeg. The painting was originally commissioned for a tea shop in Bristol England, called Pooh Corner, and remained there for 10 years. In 2000, the painting was offered for sale at auction in London and a group of citizens spearheaded the effort to acquire the painting and move it to Winnipeg. The support included donations from private citizens, corporations and all three levels of government and was the campaign was a success.

The painting is ours, and Winnie is home again!


The leaves have started to fall from some of the trees in the neighbourhood and any day now we'll start hearing the geese, getting ready to head south for the winter. Hmmm, just like us, I guess!

I took the camera with me on an Abi stroll recently and noticed how lovely the flowers were in one of the beds on the property. My friend is an avid gardener and has worked on this bed for years and, unlike me, knows the name of each and every flower she has planted.

They were so pretty I just felt like sharing them.


It looks like the weatherman, or someone in power anyway, read my last post and took pity on us. We have actually had lovely weather, most of the time, for the last week or so. This is late August, however, and there is a hint of something in the air. The mornings are cooler now and even though it can still be steamy during the day the heat is usually gone by bedtime and we can sleep with the windows wide open. Actually, most of our neighbours think we're crazy as we rarely turn the air on anyway!

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year and as soon as I sense the crispness in the air something lures me into the kitchen. I don't understand it, but it seems like I have this overpowering mother-earth urge to cook for the whole month of September and this year I've made a head start.

While taking Abi out for her daily stroll last week I noticed that the apple trees on our property have had a bumper crop this year. I have to confess, we've lived in the development for 3 years and this first time I've really noticed the trees. Guess we're called Apple Lane for a reason!

All those lovely apples, just waiting to be picked - I couldn't resist and headed back with a basket to carry my haul home. I was so excited; I was going to make apple jelly! The fact that I haven't made apple jelly in over 20 years was not going to deter me. After all, you can learn how to do anything on the Net.

It was an adventure and my first batch might have been more of a success if I had followed the instructions a bit more closely. After a day of simmering, straining and boiling, I ended up with 3 lovely, albiet tiny, jars of Apple Jam. Not Jelly. No way was this Jelly. It is definitely very dark, very rich, Apple Jam.

So, off to the tree I went again and then back into the kitchen for more of the same - simmer, strain, boil.

And voila, it worked. I made Jelly!!!

I was tempted to make one final batch, but realized I've used up all the empty jars in the cupboard. Plus, I have no idea what to do with all this jelly now that I've made it. Guess I'll just keep giving it away!

By the way, the kitchen was a bit sticky by the time I was finished with this little project, but the house did have the most amazing aroma for days after!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tell us it's not OVER????

It seemed like we waited for the longest time for summer to arrive.

In retrospect, it probably wasn't all that long, but we had just arrived back from our winter home in Mazatlan and we were ready, in summer mode, shorts, T's and flip flops ready to go, and it seemed like forever. Horror stories of the wait for summer exagerate with each telling - it was cold, it rained for endless days, the rivers flooded, it was the worst spring on record, etc. etc. Actually, it was, now that I think about it!

However, as happens every summer, finally the sun broke through the clouds, the temperature rose, the flowers bloomed and the mosquitoes arrived. Hey, we live in Manitoba, we're tough, we can deal with the odd mosquito! We were all just so darned happy that it was summer!!!!! Mike set out to the golf course every day(where he has had a few rather itchy run-ins with the poison ivy patches and of course, the infamous, mosquitos). I opened every window in the house and amazed the neighbours with our resistance to air conditioning.

The last few weeks have been tough, air conditioning wise. It has been hot hot hot and even more humid humid humid. We keep track and we have had days here in Winnipeg that have been far hotter and more humid than those in Maz. (That means "Winterpeg' comments are absolutely no longer accepted).

However, all good things must apparently come to an end. Mike's club held their annual Men's Club Championship this past weekend and two sets of friends headed out to the "lake". I lhad unch with my son on Saturday and planned to explore Osborne Village (his part of town and well worth a wander) and then thought perhaps I would just take my book and spend the rest of the weekend at the pool.

Silly me. Silly us.

It was absolutely dreadful all weekend. Saturday was not too bad, Mike and the 'boys' managed to get in the day's round of golf and Jeff and I dodged the raindrops to visit his local Mexican restuarant for a delicious lunch. It was starting to seriously rain by the time we were finished our meal, so we gave up, I rescheduled my camera trip through the Village, and we just walked, rather quickly, back to his apartment. Much like Mike walked the course, very quickly, dodging yet more rain drops.

Sunday was truly a classic. It rained, off and on, all day. There was no sun. It was darned chilly. Mike bundled up in the early morning hours and headed to the course but they finally gave up and postponed the last day of tournament, it was just too wet. One set of friends arrived home from their visit to the family cottage, looking rather damp and wilted. The others are away for a full week and we haven't seen them. I hope they brought lots of books with them, and sweaters.

It is now Tuesday, August 17th. It is still cold, grey and wet. I wore a jacket this afternoon when I took Abi for her stroll around the neighbourhood; if it gets much chillier we're going to have to dig out her sweater. Did I mention the high today is somewhere around 15 or 16?

I know it`s rainy in Maz right now, but at least it`s warm!

How many days do we have til we leave to head back?? Right now, too many!!!!!!!!!


Folklorama is the largest and longest-running festival of its kind in the world, a fact acknowledged by the International Council of Organizations for Folklore Festivals and Folk Art. It is organized by the Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg and is an annual event that runs for two weeks each August, this year from the 1st til the 14th. Visitors to the festival are invited to sample exotic cuisine and celebrate the cultural and ethnic heritage of people from dozens of countries who have made Winnipeg their home. Each country has an assigned venue, known as a pavilion.

Folklorama was first held in August, 1970, and was originally intended to be a one-time occurrence in celebration of Manitoba's centennial. It was such a success, however, that it has become a much anticipated annual event. The first festival was only a week long and featured 21 different cultures. This year 43 pavilions are being presented, with half operating in week one and half in week two of the festival. Each pavilion presents a show featuring the song and dance of their culture, along with trademark ethnic cuisine and a cultural display and most pavilions also provide imported alcohol from their feature country.

We have made Folklorama an annual event and attend several of the Pavilions each year. Last year we tried something different, the “VIP World Tour”, visiting Russia, Korea and Mexico in one evening, and it was wonderful. We were picked up and delivered by bus to the three pavilions, by-passing the line ups to enter. We had reserved seating, a 'tour guide' and full table service which was so much more relaxing than standing in yet another line to pick up our snacks and beverages. It is possible to visit 3 pavilions in an evening, but it does mean driving from one to another, hunting for a parking spot, etc. (and of course, also worrying about those national 'beverages' that are offered at each pavilion. It costs a little bit more to take the “World Tour”, but is well worth the few extra dollars spent!

This year we decided to do the World Tour again, visiting Columbia, Celtic Ireland and Scotland.

We started our tour at the Columbian Pavilion. This is the first year for this Pavilion and they did a marvelous job. We thoroughly enjoyed the appetizer, Empanadas, and Refajo, a mixture of Columbian Beer and pop was light and refreshing and just perfect for the evening, which was extremely hot and humid. The entertainment was provided by the Compania de danza Orrkeseos, a dance troup imported from Bogata, and also by a charming troup of local children. We all know about Columbian coffee, but we also learned that Columbia is one of the largest flower exporters in the world (#1 for carnations). The people running the paviliion were a delight, friendly and so anxious to share the culture of their wonderful country. Mike and I traveled to Columbia many years ago, visiting Santa Marta and Cartegna, and it was a pleasure to revive the memories of our adventures.

We then traveled on to the Celtic Ireland Pavilion, one of the most popular on the tour, with reason. The 'show' was 45 minutes long, featuring Riverdance style dancers from the Brady Academy of Irish Dance and several performances by an amazingly talented local musician, Sierra Noble. The costumes worn by the dancers are magnificent, and expensive! Used costumes start at $400.00, new at $3,000.00! Dinner, by the way, was classic Irish pub fare, meat pies and mashed potatoes. We also were informed that the Pavilion sells more Guinness in one week than any single Winnipeg bar does in a year! Not too much of a surprise there - the Pavilion was not air-conditioned, and it was hot!!!!

We finished off the evening in Scotland, where we greeted by the Winnipeg City Police Pipe Band. The Scottish Pavilion has non-stop action and the Pipe Band was not part of the on-stage show but were there to keep the crowd entertained between shows and they did a fantastic job. Of course, it helps you like the sound of bag pipes, which I do! I attempted to download a video, but have given up. Oh well, I pretty sure everyone knows what bag pipes sound like! After a dessert of Scottish shortcake and trifle, and entertainment provided by the Ena Sutton Highland Dancers and the Lork Selkirk Boys Band (yes, more Bag Pipes!) as well as a crew of very talented, energetic local musicians, we moved into the Cultural Display area, which thankfully was air conditioned because by this point in the evening we were somewhat wilted. I found the "world-famous" Elliott tartan on the tartan display boards, and worked my way through several of the books on display, leaving them all open to the page featuring the Elliott clan. Guess I should mention that my maiden name was Elliott and although the family has been in Canada for many hundred of years, we originated in Scotland (and even have our own castle!)

It was a great evening and we can't wait to do it all again next year!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I have been valiently attempting to upload a video to attach to a post describing our visit to Folklorama this week. However, it is not working!!!!!!!!!!!! While waiting for the silly thing to upload, I have had my shower and tidied up, made the beds, been to the library to return my slightly overdue books, popped into the grocery store for romaine for a salad for dinner and the dollar store for 'puppy scoop' bags, cleaned my silverware, which for some reason tarnished horribly in the dishwasher yesterday, and freshened up the flowers in the living room. I also tidied up the bulletin board which was staring me in the face while I attempted to upload the video - again - and discovered this, something I printed years ago and decided was important enough to keep.


I am now going to have lunch, possibly a glass of wine and a chocolate chip cookie.

The Folklorama post will follow, possibly without the video!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Forks

Mike and I celebrated our Anniversary last weekend (lots and lots of years) and couldn't really decide what to do. I wanted to go out for dinner, Mike suggested ordering in Chinese. I really like Chinese, we haven't had any since we arrived home in the spring, it was eating at home but I didn't have to cook anything, or do dishes - Chinese it was.

However, it was a truly lovely summer day, far too nice to stay at home (waiting til it was time to order dinner) so off we went to see what else we could do for free in Winnipeg.

We ended up at the Forks. (Here comes the history lesson ...)

The Forks, named because of its position where the Assiniboine River flows into the Red River, is an expanse of riverside property in the heart of downtown Winnipeg. Archaeological digs carried out at the site have unearthed a 6,000 year old hearth, catfish bones and stone flake tools. These discoveries prove that Aboriginal groups were active at the Forks thousands of years ago and have provided evidence that Akoda(Assiniboins), Cree, Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) and Dakota were all visitors to the site. The Forks was the hub of the fur trade until the 1880s, when grain production took over as western Canada's principal industry. Beginning in 1886, the Forks became one of the key sites of early railroad development on the Prairies. The Forks has been meeting place for thousands of years and it is the city's most popular gathering place, attracting nearly four million visitors each year. It is by far Winnipeg's number one tourist attraction.

One of our favourite places at The Forks is the Oodena Celebration Circle, which commemorates Manitoba's First Nations people. It is a shallow, bowl-like platform surrounded by a set of astronomically arranged metal structures that look like fanciful sci-fi creatures! Years ago we sat on the grass and watched a couple being married in the middle of the circle. Very cool!

There is so much to see and do. We spent ages exploring the market and I had to stop to say hi to one of my favourite bears. He just makes me smile (some of the tshirts in this shop made me laugh out loud!)

We also climbed the stairs to the observation tower. There is an elevator, but we're tough, we live on Ice Box Hill in Mazatlan, we can handle stairs. Well, that's what I kept telling myself as we climbed and climbed and climbed. The view, however, is worth it!!

Some of the other Forks attractions include the Festival Park Stage, the site of many summer concerts (the Queen was there for one earlier in the summer), The Manitoba Children's Museum (where we spent endless hours when our son was young) and the new Manitoba Theatre for Young People.

In summer, you can stroll on the river walks along the Red and Assiniboine rivers, picnic by the riverside, and catch water buses to other parts of the city.

In winter, there's free public skating on outdoor artificial ice or along groomed river trails. Winnipeg, by the way, has the longest outdoor skating rink in the world. In January 2008, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized The Forks as the home of the longest skating rink in the world (8.54-kilometres) beating out the 7.8-kilometre long rink on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. We admit The Rideau Canal still holds the world record for the world's largest outdoor rink (as measured by total area) by we're the longest!

The river floods regularly - if you look closely you can see the blue line on the wall which marks the height of the river after one of the worst.

Canada's newest national museum, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is next door to the Forks and is still under construction but there are guided tours around the perimeter of the Museum construction site. It's huge, could be interesting, I wonder if they're free?

Free Downtown Spirit buses connect The Forks to the rest of downtown Winnipeg from beside Forks Market but we drove and parked free for 3 hours. I'll be honest here, it was for more than 3 hours! We didn't mean to be there for so long, but after wandering around for several hours, we stopped for a drink and appetizer at one of the restaurants overlooking the river and ran into a friend of Mike's from his working days. It was a beautiful day, it was fun to catch up with old acquaintances, one thing led to another, and we we sat there for hours.

So, the parking was free, but we did have to pay for the pitcher of mojitos and several cervazas!!

Oh, and the Dragon Palace Chinese dinner was as good as it always is, and when it arrived we realized, as usual, we had ordered enough for dinner on Saturday night and Sunday night as well!