Archive for September, 2006

The other (ugly) side of Fall

I don’t want to give the impression to those who haven’t experienced Fall that it is all pretty and nice. After all, leaves turn to these lovely colours because of the cooling temperatures.

Earlier this week, we woke up to a temperature of minus 1 C. I was scrambling to find our scarves and gloves and trying to match them up. I knew we were going to need them soon. But that’s the procrastinator in me. I kept putting it off. Anyway, our winter accessories are just tucked away somewhere in our closets. But what I couldn’t understand is why we only have one scarf left when I remember that we each had one last winter. So the first one to get out of the house got the scarf. That was my 16-year old son. He’s the one who usually reacts to the cold weather anyway.

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My 12-year old son was complaining of a sore throat the day before.

“We’re going to the mall this week-end to buy you guys scarves and sweaters.”

“But I don’t like wearing a scarf.”

“Ryan, you have to cover your neck when it’s cold. That’s why you’ve got that sore throat.”

“But I don’t like it.”

“Ryan, why don’t you just listen to your mother?”

I tell you. My middle guy always gives me a hard time. My oldest one is very obedient and respectful and I sometimes find it hard to be patient with this one. I guess I was like that too with my mother at some point. It’s payback time.

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The other day, my eight-year old son went home coughing. And I heard him wheezing later that night. The last time he had an asthma attack was when he was three years old. I thought he had already outgrown it. But I think that’s just the way it is with asthma. Sometimes it just goes away and sometimes people who haven’t had asthma in their childhood gets it in their adult life.

So I let Ryland puff Reggie’s inhaler. Good thing I always have them handy. Reggie gets asthma attacks every once in a while. The Ventolin inhaler seemed to work for Ryland. He’s had a good sleep last night and even came grocery shopping with me this morning. He wanted to buy a game for his Gameboy and he wanted to pick it out himself. But he got tired soon and I let him sit at the bottom of our cart. He looked so cute and I couldn’t resist taking this shot.

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September 30, 2006 at 10:19 pm 25 comments

Downtown Winnipeg – Portage Avenue

I was out again last weekend taking pictures of buildings downtown here in Winnipeg.  I already had some pictures from my trip down there a few weeks ago when I photographed the murals but I wanted to have some more to give you guys a pretty good picture of Downtown Winnipeg.

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Before I show you Portage Avenue, let me first share this mural, which I’ve seen for the first time just last week at the corner of Main Street and Higgins Avenue as I was entering downtown from the North End of Winnipeg.  I don’t go to this area that often but I had to accompany Reggie to his saxophone lesson in that part of the city.  I was amazed when I saw this huge mural on our way back.   This is titled Welcome to Downtown and according to The Murals of Winnipeg website this was just painted in 2001 and it was Mural of the Year 2002.  The picture depicts the Copper Lady welcoming a newcomer with a map on his hands.  You can view a larger image and read more about this mural on this page, or go to the site and browse the location 678 Main Street.

When I got off Portage Avenue on Saturday, I started taking pictures of The Bay.  At first I thought that I looked silly taking pictures but I saw at least two people also taking snaps so I didn’t feel silly after that.  I can’t remember if it was Señor Enrique or Sidney who said that we should try to be tourists in our own cities so that we could appreciate the beauty of our hometown, or something to that effect, and I guess that was what I have been doing lately. 

bearamelia.jpgBefore I start, let me first introduce you to the Bears on Broadway as I will be mentioning them quite a bit in this and the next posts.  In May 2005, CancerCare Manitoba set up 62 artistic polar bears on Broadway Blvd.  The exhibit was a fund-raiser for CancerCare Manitoba in conjunction with sponsoring businesses who have paid for the bears to be decorated.  All spring and summer long, Winnipeggers and visitors flocked Broadway Blvd. to visit the bears and take pictures.  My family and I went there and took pictures of all 62 bears.  You can view our Bears on Broadway album here.  I just have to warn you.  You might be sick of my face by the time you view all the bears.  He he he.  The Bears were removed from Broadway Blvd. in October 2005 to protect them from the harsh winter temperatures.  They were moved to different locations all over the city and in some places throughout Canada. 

To continue with the spirit of the Bears, now called Bears Beyond Broadway, new sculptures were placed all over downtown this past summer.  This 10-piece temporary Public Art Display along Portage Avenue in the downtown core is called Art on the Avenue Sculpture Walk. 

portageelephantt.jpgNow, let us start our tour of Portage Avenue at the corner of Memorial Blvd.  This elephant structure, ELRT or Elephant Light Rail Transit, is just behind the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the building as my attention was focused on Portage Avenue.  But you can take a glimpse of this triangular shaped building at this site. Last year, it was Bear’nard, A Work of Art, which occupied the elephant’s spot. 

portagethebayt.jpgAcross the street is The Hudson’s Bay Co., or The Bay as we fondly call it.   It is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and the biggest department store here in Winnipeg.  The goods sold here are a little more expensive than the ones sold at the shopping malls but they do have a better quality.  It was here that Reggie finally found a watch that suited his taste after months of searching many stores.  This teenager of mine has a very particular taste in clothes, shoes and other accessories.  Picky, you might say, but Señor Enrique has mentioned that jazz musicians do have a sophisticated taste in clothing. 

Standing in contrast against the old building of The Bay is the very modern Investors Group building with its glass windows.  There’s a big red banner at the front which says, Manitoba Spirited Energy, a slogan we just started seeing this summer.

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portageplacet.jpgOne of our favourite shopping malls is at the heart of downtown, Portage Place.  It is a four-storey building that spans three city blocks.  You’ll find most of the stores on the first and second floor.  The third floor is the Entertainment Level where the Globe Cinema, IMAX Theatre and Prairie Theatre Exchange are located.  It was at the Prairie Theatre Exchange where Reggie performed at the Manitoba High School Big Band Night in June 2005 and where they also had the Spring Jazz Concert in June 2006.  The fourth floor contains mostly business offices. 

The stores that we usually go to at Portage Place are Staples Home Depot, Payless ShoeSource, HMV, Hallmark Store and McNally Robinson Bookstore where I thought I lost Ryland last year when we watched a free jazz concert there.  There is also a food court at this mall and a Baskin Robbins just next to the front door and where we usually buy ice cream cones after shopping. 

portagepolicet.jpgIn front of the mall is another one of the Art on the Avenue sculpture, called The Right Stuff (the police man).  In this picture you’ll see one of a number of covered overpasses downtown, which we call Skywalk.  They are very useful especially in the cold winter months. 

Pictured below is one of the MTS (Manitoba Telecom Services) pay phones. There is one located at almost every other corner in the main streets of Winnipeg. 

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portagemtst.jpgThis is the MTS Centre.  Eaton’s, another old department store, used to occupy this place but it has been demolished in 2003, much to the dismay of many old patrons, to give way to this new architectural delight as another step in giving downtown a more contemporary look.  Construction of the new building took at least about a year and MTS Centre opened its doors in November 2004.  Since then, it has been the host to many sports and entertainment events.  The first time I entered its arena was when my two younger boys and I watched the Toronto Raptors play against the Portland Trailblazers in October 2005.  The 2005 Juno Awards was also held here.  It’s the equivalent of the Grammy Awards in the U.S.  Some of the famous entertainers that had concerts here are Cher, Green Day, Black Eyed Peas, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, BackStreet Boys, Paul Anka, Gwen Stefani, Bryan Adams, Crosby Stills Nash & Young.  And most recently, Mariah Carey and Red Hot Chili Peppers.  When I heard that James Blunt is coming on October 31, I almost bought a ticket, but it is on Halloween night and my kids, well at least my youngest one needs me that night to go trick or treating.  So no can do.  Well, anyway, I only really like one of his songs, You’re Beautiful.  I just love his haunting voice. 

portageblockst.jpgThis is Wind Wall, another Art on the Avenue sculpture.  According to its young sculptor, “this multi-coloured wall is as reactive to the human touch as it is to the wind.”  I think it was placed there strategically close to the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street, which I heard is the windiest part of the world. 

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That ends our tour for now.  More next time.

September 26, 2006 at 11:23 pm 38 comments

Sunny Autumn Day

We’ve had a break today from the cloudy days of Fall.  The sun finally came out after four wet and chilly days.  The weather channel announced that it will get cloudy again tomorrow and the following days so I took this opportunity to go out and take some pictures.  The leaves are turning to different colours – from green to yellow, orange, brown and red.  It will even get lovelier once all the trees have changed their colours.

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September 20, 2006 at 10:54 pm 27 comments

Rainy Fall Days

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We’ve had a wet weekend here in Winnipeg.  It’s Monday and still raining.  Just a few days ago, Thursday and Friday particularly, we’ve had temperatures of 31C and 32C.  It dropped down to around 13C over the weekend, and today we’ve only reached a high of 9C.  This is how drastic temperatures can change here. 

It’s time to take out the pajamas, sweaters and comforters from hiding.  But we still can’t put away our shorts and light clothing.  This is one thing I don’t like about Fall.  We are still in between hot and cold temperatures.  We can’t turn on the heater yet and there’s lots of condensation in the house.  If it’s not raining, it’s usually cloudy and it looks gloomy outside.  Otherwise, it’s beautiful because some of the trees are starting to turn golden. 

But one thing that cheered us up today is Awards Night at Reggie’s high school.  He received two awards.  So that compensated for the gloom we’ve been experiencing these past few days.

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September 18, 2006 at 10:57 pm 21 comments

The Murals of Winnipeg

One of the things I noticed about Winnipeg when I first came here is that there are many murals all over the city.  There are murals on walls of old buildings, on walls of stores, schools, community centres, even under bridges. I’m not actually an art enthusiast but I enjoy looking at these works of art.   

This summer I heard Janet Stewart of CKY News announce that there was a Mural Fest going on in Winnipeg.  Since then, my kids and I were always on the lookout whenever we were out to search for the entries of this Mural Fest.  And only then did I take an interest in photographing the many murals of Winnipeg. 

Here are just a few of the first ones I took.  These were taken while we were driving, from inside the car so excuse the quality of the pictures.    

On our way to Polo Park, the Assiniboia Downs on Portage Avenue.

 

Ryan spotted this one while we were waiting for the red light to turn green when we were on our way to Kumkoon Restaurant to attend a birthday party.  This is one of the entries to MuralFest 2K6.  It shows pictures of skeletons underground.  I learned later on that this is titled Three Sisters.  You can read about this entry on this site.

 This one was taken when Ryan and I watched the baseball game.  This is just behind the CanWest Global Park and is visible from Portage Avenue.

 

“Mommy, there’s a mural,” Ryland squeeked from behind me one afternoon when we were once again driving along Portage Avenue.  Please ignore the rusty ugly post in the middle.

  

This is a close up of the Manitoba Hydro Mural on Polo Park, which you’ve already seen in a previous post.

  

I intended to post only a couple of these murals in my Friendly Manitoba post but I realized that there are just too many that it requires a separate post.  There are so many more murals here that are better than these and I thought that I should really get out of the car and devote a time of walking to get better pictures. Besides, I want to take pictures of my favourite ones.  And also I’ve already promised Señor Enrique that I’d share them here in my website.

So two Saturdays ago, I announced to my family, “I’m taking pictures of murals after we’re done shopping today.  You guys can go home and I’ll stay behind and go downtown to take some pictures.”

  

“I’ll miss you, Mommy,” said my youngest one.  He always says that when I go out without them.

“Why do you have to take pictures?” asked my middle guy.  “Just look at the internet.”

“Ryan, there are no pictures of these murals on  the internet,” I told him.  Later on that night, I searched and found out that there are a couple of websites of these murals.

As usual, my oldest son was just quiet but I saw a smile on his face that night when I showed him a picture of his favourite.

One mural I always marvel at is the one on St. John’s Music Store on Portage Avenue.  This is where Reggie bought his flute and saxophone and we go here occasionally to buy his music sheet, music books and other things he needs for his flute.  That Saturday afternoon, I told the husband to drop me off at St. John’s and I’d take the bus from there to go to downtown and take more pictures of the murals there.

This is the St. John’s mural. It starts on the side where you’ll see the black top cover of the piano and the Yamaha logo.  It continues to the front where you’ll see the keyboad (see photo above) and towards the middle, the keys merge into flowing water.  I just love it.

    

At downtown, I got off at Portage Place, walked along Portage Avenue and started taking pictures of some the new statues placed there this summer.  I will post these ones next time. 

There’s this mural just past the MTS Centre across the street which was done by a group of students from three different elementary schools.

    

As I was walking towards the corner of Main Street, I spotted a newly placed mural on the side of The Fairmont Hotel on Lombard Place.  I later on learned that this is one of the MuralFest 2K6 entry and is titled Sentez!  You can see a larger view on this website.

 

On Main Street, just past Portage Avenue, I spotted another MuralFest 2K6 entry.  This is The 1919 Strike.

 

I reached The Exchange District.  Reggie has been here quite a few times to watch free jazz concerts.  This mural is already faded but I think the art is quite good and it’s just a shame that it’s partly hidden from public view.  I had to enter through the gates to get this shot.

 

I reached City Hall, crossed the street to catch my bus and took pictures of the Concert Hall and The Manitoba Museum.  I will share these later.  While standing there at the bus stop, I noticed another mural on the side of the museum, so I went closer and took this picture.  Another MuralFest 2K6 entry, titled Cartography for New Cosmopolitans.

My bus came and I got off 200 Disraeli Freeway to take the final picture of the day, my favourite mural of all.  I pass by this building everytime I go downtown and back.   I learned from The Murals of Winnipeg website that this was Mural of the Year 2004.  Titled, Layin’ Down Tracks,” according to the website … 

 

This spectacular Mural measures in at nearly 14,000 sq. ft., making it the largest Mural in Manitoba and, we believe, the second largest in Canada. This visual feast is probably best enjoyed when one considers the Prairie, Railroad and Music themes all blended and blurred together in a playful visual metaphor of ‘layin’ down tracks’.”

Here are shots of both sides of the building.

 

The following day, my sister and I went over to Mama’s house and we drove along Selkirk Avenue.  Only then did I realize that there are murals painted on almost every store that lines this street.  I remember Mama telling me that Selkirk Avenue used to be the commercial centre of Winnipeg before Portage Avenue claimed that title.   Sis asked me, “You want to take more pictures?”  I told her, “It’s all right.  I think I’ve had enough for now.”  Besides I found out that there’s already a website devoted to The Murals of Winnipeg. 

But don’t be surprised if once in a while you see me posting some more of these murals. 

In the meantime, please check out The Murals of Winnipeg and you’ll find many more pictures of murals here that depict the way of life and culture here in Manitoba. 

In MuralFest 2k6, you’ll find all five entries of the festival and the meanings and artists behind the art.

For those who are unable to view the pictures on Flickr, let me know and I’d gladly email them to you.

September 16, 2006 at 10:18 pm 20 comments

Tickle Me Elmo

I was going to post something else today but I was watching The View this morning and I heard Rosie O’Donnell mention that today is Tickle Me Elmo’s 10th year anniversary.  It brings back fond memories.

 

Ten years ago, I only had two children.  Reggie was six, about to turn seven that November.  It was October and I was at Wal-Mart, or I think it was still called WoolCo then, it’s sister company.  It was later on replaced by Wal-Mart.  Well, anyway, I was looking for a toy present for Reggie and I found him this one-foot tall silver Buzz Lightyear action figure.  The one with movable arms and legs and helmet that you can flip.  We watched Toy Story and Buzz was his favourite character.  So there I was at the Toy Section and I heard this tiny hysterical laugh from an Elmo doll.  I couldn’t help but check it out.  I pressed the tummy, as it said on the box and it shook and giggled “Hee hee hee hee, that tickles.”  Oh, it was so cute and adorable and I just had to buy it for my then two year old son, Ryan.  He watched Sesame Street and I just knew that he would love Tickle Me Elmo.  It was supposed to be a Christmas present but I gave it to him right away when I came home.

 

In December that year, I heard that parents were crazy over the Tickle Me Elmo doll and some were on a frenzy to get a hold of one when the doll went out of stock in the stores. Tyco, the manufacturer of the toy, didn’t expect the sudden demand and there was short supply and people literally fought for the dolls.

According to Wikipedia:

A clerk at the Walmart in Fredericton, New Brunswick was among those injured by “Elmo-mania”. A crowd of 300 stampeded into the store on 14 December 1996; spotting him with one of the remaining toys, he “was pulled under, trampled—the crotch was yanked out of my brand-new jeans.” According to People, the clerk “suffered a pulled hamstring, injuries to his back, jaw and knee, a broken rib and a concussion.”

September 13, 2006 at 10:57 pm 25 comments

Friendly Manitoba – Part 2

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In my previous post, I cited a few examples why I think this province lives up to its motto, “Friendly Manitoba.” 

Now let me share with you two articles that I read in our community newsletter, The Herald, just last week. 

Rene wrote about his neighbour.  Their relationship, he said, consists of happy waves and occasional chit-chat about the weather and such.  But this day, she frantically waved at him to come over and she gave him a big bag of fresh vegetables from her garden.  She said that she was just so happy to have him and the others as her neighbour.  The following days, he saw her hand out vegetables also to their numerous neighbours.  

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Another article started as a complaint on how Shelagh got “stuck in traffic” in the aisles of the grocery store that was offering dollar days that Saturday afternoon.  She went to the store to grab only a few items and get out of there fast but nobody in the store was moving quickly.  There were groups of shoppers gathering in the middle of aisles and “each chatterer had their cart parked in an-awkward-to-get-by position.”  She wondered if traffic laws should also apply to grocery store aisles but then she realized that people where just trying to catch up on old times or the latest gossip. 

She ended her article with this. “But we are a friendly people so our license plate states.  And that’s what started the traffic jam in the first place.” 

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And I have to tell you about the Manitoba socials. 

The first time I heard about it was when a co-worker tried to sell me tickets to a wedding social for $10.00.  I asked her what it was.  She said that it’s like a party, there will be food and drinks and raffle draw where I could win prizes.  But it was on a Saturday night and I was not really into attending parties.  Besides I had small kids and I didn’t think we could get someone to look after them.  But she always buys the chocolate almonds I bring to work for my kids fundraising for school, so I bought one ticket.  I didn’t attend the social.  But I’ve learned my lesson.  Every time I heard someone selling tickets for a social, I try to avoid them. 

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A few years ago, I heard from another co-worker that socials are unique to Manitoba.  People from the other provinces don’t know what we are talking about if we mention “social.” 

What is a social, you may ask?  Well, it’s a gathering usually held at a community centre or a parish hall to raise money for a wedding, if it’s a wedding social, because you know how expensive a wedding can be.  Or it can also be a fundraising event for a good cause.  Like for someone who’s ill, as in a cancer patient, to help the family out.     

I have only attended one social.  It was a benefit social for my brother-in-law after he had a triple heart by-pass surgery last year.  When his friends and co-workers learned that he wouldn’t be able to work for at least six months, they decided to help him out and his family.  He was the only breadwinner and he and my sister has seven children.  So the organizers rented this parish hall and friends and family of friends came and we all mingled and danced.  Of course there was food: chips, bread, pizza, spaghetti, and of course pancit and kakanin because it was mostly Filipinos who attended.  There were also drinks: soda and alcohol. 

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And speaking of Filipinos, there is a huge Filipino community here in Winnipeg.  Last time I heard, there are roughly 30,000 of us here.  I jokingly tell to anyone who asks me if it’s true that there are a lot of Filipinos here, I’d say, ”Everywhere I look, there is at least one Filipino in sight.” 

Filipinos love gatherings and eating and fiestas.  This is true even here in Winnipeg.  In the summer, you’ll find the Bulakenos’ organization, or the Cavitenos, Pampangenos, or Ilocanos, having a picnic at Kildonan Park or Assiniboine Park.  Or usually there are invitations to a baby’s christening or a birthday party at some restaurant or somebody’s home. 

As years go by, more and more Filipinos flock here.  And it was because of this that the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM) was built.  The roof-top of the building has a distinctive design.  It is in the shape of our very own salakot (a native protective headgear), according to the PCCM website, “to forever etch our cultural identity in this part of the world we have chosen to build a new life.” 

Winnipeg has long and very cold winters.  But as I’ve said before, it is the friendliness of this province, the huge Filipino community here, the closeness of my family and the warmth of my friendships with fellow kababayans that make it bearable for me to live in this city.

September 11, 2006 at 11:52 pm 12 comments

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