Category Archives: Reading

Oodena Magic


Oodena Circle at The Forks.

As I make my way past boys with skateboards tucked under their arms for the bus ride home, patio patrons lamenting their last outdoor latte of the season and river trail walkers returning to their cars, I momentarily get that panicked feeling I feel when I’m late or lost or both.

I’m here at the Forks for Voices of Oodena, a series of readings hosted by the Winnipeg International Writers Festival. The readings are to take place at the Oodena amphitheatre that should be here somewhere nestled into the base of a hill near the forks of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. Oodena is a meeting place of ancient times. It is a meeting place of today, except that today I can’t seem to find it.

As I stumble from a graveled walkway onto the grass I hear a low murmur. Walking toward the sound I come upon a giant but thin sculptured metal horn, with one end pointing to the sky and the other pointing into a bowled out area at the base of the hill I am now standing on. Below is a stage and seating area surrounded by a low circle of brick walls that form the Oodena Celebration Circle.

I would like to write that a sudden sense of peace and calmness overcomes me but instead I feel self-conscious as I pick my way down the hill and past the outdoor stage already populated by the authors and organizers who are here to share their words with those assembled.

I make my way to the cement stairs at the back of the circle opposite the stage choosing a spot away from the rest of the crowd where I can sit and lean against a brick wall, a handrail above my head that I can use to pull myself up again from sitting when it is time to leave. I choose this spot complete with handrail because I anticipate that as the sun sets there will be a damp chill in the air that will settle into my bones making it difficult and awkward to get up when it’s time to leave.

I stretch out my legs onto the step in front of me, zip my coat up to my neck and cross my arms on my chest, adjusting my hands so both of them are tucked in and warm even though the chill I expected has yet to materialize.

The moderator makes her way to the microphone and explains that all of tonight’s writers have a connection to Manitoba and its history. She adds that not once in the history of these summer turned to fall annual readings has the show had to be moved indoors; something magical about this place keeps the cold and weather at bay.

As one by one the writers step up to the microphone and read out loud their stories, poems and observations, the sun sets, darkness comes and a two thirds moon rises above the stage.

The yellow lights inset into the rugged bricks that make up the skeletal form of the amphitheatre give Oodena a warm glow. Or maybe it is the words the writers utter that bring warmth to Oodena – words about a Norse trickster god and his journey with a man to Gimli, words about familiar bridges with unfamiliar background stories, words about ancestors, food, gardens, families, awakenings, and muddy water – the aboriginal meaning of this place we call home.

And when it is over, I easily push myself up from the ground that anchors me to this place, this time and the time before it… somehow lighter than before I came.

– A special thank you to Chadwick Ginther, France Adams, Sarah Klassen, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, and Rhea Tregebov for their words.

Happy Birthday Hobbits!

Hobbit_cover If you are a fan of hobbits you will know that yesterday, September 21, 2012, was the 75th Anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit. You may also know that today, September 22, is the birthdate shared by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

My first introduction to hobbits was in Grade 5 when our teacher read the book to us in class. I was fascinated by the story from the first pages – especially the page with the iconic map of the magical lands where the story The Hobbit or There and Back Again takes place.

One of the things I remember about hobbits besides their hairy feet is how they like to enjoy several meals a day including breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.

As second breakfast was Bilbo’s favourite meal of the day it is no surprise that fans of The Hobbit from all over the world have been celebrating the last two days by eating second breakfasts of their own.

In our library second breakfast guests enjoyed Hobbit Scones and homemade cinnamon doughnuts prepared by a couple of my library regulars. Apples fresh off the tree, home-made raspberry jam, Manitoba clover honey, hot chocolate and a wide variety of teas were also served.

I displayed my 50th anniversary editon of The Hobbit and streamed a video of  the second trailer for the upcoming Hobbit movies.
Read More →

Treadmill desk = No socially awkward penguin moments while biking

After just over a week on my new treadmill desk I am still treading and loving it. In fact I am walking as I write this.  To those who are familiar with my absent-minded nature, especially when I am concentrating on writing, you had no need to be concerned. I only fell off once. After my first tread walk I forgot the treadmill was still elevated and didn’t expect the long step down when getting off. I lost my balance but safely toppled onto the spare bed conveniently located beside my treadmill in my office/spare room.

Another time when I was engrossed in doing some layout work and walking at the same time I stepped left to reach something and found one of my feet dangling in thin air but I quickly just shifted it back onto the treadmill belt and never missed a beat.

Now my lack of serious injuries is likely also due to the speed I have been walking – – only 1 mph. Now that I am done doing layout work for a while and will be turning back to writing I plan to ramp up the speed (at least a little).

Another question I have been asked is about the noise level of the treadmill. There were a number of times I jumped on the treadmill, Read More →

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants…” advises author.

pollan3In Defence of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan is a welcome and long-overdue addition to the myriad of books available on food issues. Its greatest appeal will be to those people who are tired of trying to explain why they don’t drink pop, why they spend a lot of time in the grocery store reading labels on food products, and why they cook “from scratch” instead of using food that comes in boxes.

These people, like me, will like this book because it will let them know that they were right all along – – that the longer the list of ingredients on a food product the further it is away from being real food, and, the more likely it will make them or their children still hungry minutes after eating it, or, worse, tired, irritable, or sick.

A journalist who first examined food issues in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan in this, his latest book, puts the Western diet under a microscope, discovering that “food has been replaced by nutrients and common sense by confusion”. Delving deeper into the history of “nutritionism” and the industrialization of eating, Pollan attempts to explain why Western society, with supposedly the means and knowledge to eat well and thrive, somehow isn’t.

Read More →

Switch to our mobile site