Elexis Penner Blog: My Parents Were Right About Those Movies...

Stained Glass Secrets

By: Elexis Penner


My Parents Were Right About Those Movies…



This is perfect.


I’m at a cottage at the lake, gazing out over the waves, a breeze coming in over the lake. Sun is shining. Birds are singing. Perfect.


I am so grateful for this cottage that my parents have owned and let us use since I was a teenager a few (cough) dozen years ago. It’s better than owing your own cabin, really. Perfect.


My husband, Bruce, and I are here alone, at his suggestion. Maybe most couples are like this, but I tend to be the one who finds it harder to go away without the kids. But I’m thankful he initiated it – couples need that. Perfect.


There is one tiny glitch. The power has gone off. Now, you would say, “That’s not a glitch – that’s an adventure.” And you would be right. If the power stays off, we will be cooking our meal outside and spending the evening by candlelight. On this trip, we happened to bring our food in the Koolatron, so our meat and eggs and beverages are cooling away nicely, compliments of van battery. Perfect.


There is however, one eensy teensy problem. I need to have coffee. I don’t mean want – I mean need. I mean I can’t guarantee the safety of the people around me until I have cup. And by cup, I mean pot.


My plan is to make cowboy coffee over the fire in one of those old-timey tin coffee pots that you see on Bonanza or Gunsmoke. (Kids, just go ask your grandpa about Bonanza.)


But there is one thing standing in between me and my cowboy coffee – the wood pile. Well, not the wood pile exactly, but what lurks inside the wood pile. Have I mentioned that I have a mild, itty-bitty, debilitating fear of spiders?


Now before you go all ‘Oh brother…’ let me just give you some perspective on the size of the spiders that lurk in the wood pile. Picture your fist. OK, whatever – picture a newborn’s fist. I kid you not, I have seen a baby-fist-size spider in that wood pile.


Now maybe it’s because (against my parents’ admonitions) I watched Arachnophobia as a teen. I still remember the funny, funny guys sitting in the row behind us at the Morden theatre (aka The Show), and how we screamed when they touched the backs of our heads, as though spiders had landed on them. That was mean. Funny – but mean.


Or maybe it was the plethora of insect movies that came out in the 80’s – Attack of Killer Bees, Attack of the Killer Ants, Attack of the Killer Lady Bugs?? All I know is that when I head out to the wood pile, all I see is Aragog, a spider the size of a Fiat in the Harry Potter books.


Bruce is out on one of his 50-mile bike rides. Not perfect. Turning into a real problem actually.


This is mostly silly – spiders are more afraid of us than we are of them (Right? Yes? Right?) But this negativity is my gig – I do this all the time. I can have a bucket full of great things going on, and I won’t be able to get past the one thing that isn’t going right.


There are crappy, awful, life-altering things that happen in life, and there is a time for real grief – but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about worry, and expecting the worst, and that little pessimism that sucks the joy right out of stuff.


Sometimes I think maybe this focus on the negative has to do with my view of God. Or rather, my view of God’s view of me. For a long time, I’ve pictured God up there going, “Don’t screw up. The worst thing you could do is screw up. Don’t even bother coming to me if you’re gonna be all like that.” As though His biggest interest in me was the things I was doing wrong.


I don’t think that any more. As much. I see God more as someone in my corner, spending more time high-fiving victories than tracking errors. But old habits and brain patterns die hard, so the process is ongoing.


In his book, ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace’, Philip Yancey says, “Brennan Manning tells the story of an Irish priest who, on a walking tour of a rural parish, sees an old peasant kneeling by the side of the road, praying. Impressed, the priest says to the man, ‘You must be very close to God.’ The peasant looks up from his prayers, thinks a moment, and then smiles, ‘Yes, he’s very fond of me.’”


I like this picture of God’s picture of me. It shifts my focus to being grateful. And I can probably make that coffee on the barbecue. We’ll save fear-mastery for another day.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band -- A Conversation with Jeff Hanna

Summer is an exciting time of year with fairs and festivals happening all over Southern Manitoba -- and it's a special year for the MB Sunflower Festival in Altona -- the 50th year...and a band we ALL recognize is coming to play for us -- the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band....Now, despite their success, they have played, and continue to play in MANY small towns across Canada and the United States -- Tyler Hildebrand of our Golden West team spoke with Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, first off, asking him what they like about smaller crowds?


For a full list of events, visit the Town of Altona website:

Nadine Mandel -- Shaved Her Head For Cancer

Nadine Mandel shaved her head at the Morris Stampede this past weekend for cancer patients. She told Summer Fun host Mattea Nickel how she did it in memory of her father and her grandmother, who both passed away because of cancer. In addition to shaving her head, Nadine planned to raise $2,000... and has raised over $7,000 so far! Way to go!

Altona's Blues In The Park


It was another successful turn out for Saturday's Blues in Altona Park. A full day of blues music, food and drinks, and spending time with other "blues lovers".  Also, an opportunity to bring a tin for the bin in support of Rhineland Area Food Bank.

A variety of groups performed, including Family Pride, The Committee, Third Degree, Tim Butler, The Perpetrators, Brent Parkin, and the Kelly Richey Band. Jayme Giesbrecht and Al Friesen shared the MC duties, Jayme even joined the Third Degree band onstage for a song -- and Al spoke with Brent Parkin about why he was intrigued to come back for a 2nd year:


Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association -- Manitoba Stampede

The Manitoba Stampede was held this past weekend, and it was there that Al Friesen got to know about an organization that connects kids with disabilities and horses -- a therapeutic riding program.

It's called - MRDA - Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association. Graham Curnew is a member of the board and after making a presentation to a bunch of stampede folks including cowboys, gave us a snapshot of MRDA


Mound Fest -- Pilot Mound

Tractor Pulls, Truck Pulls, and Mud Bogs are common in Southern Manitoba at this time of year, and the 7th annual Mound Fest took place this past weekend in Pilot Mound. 18 competitors entered, not only for the $1000 grand prize, but for the enjoyment of the sport. Cory Knutt of our news team stopped in at the Mud Bog on Sunday, where he spoke with committee member Tyler Amell about how the weekend went:

Tyler Amell - Committee Member Mound Fest 

Justin Pryor is the head of the Mud Bog committee, and Cory spoke with Justin about how the races work?

Justin Pryor -- Head of Mud Bog committee, on the quad with 2 year-old Elijah Wall


  "Dash for Cash" - $100 taped to a pole in the mud

Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition in Morris

The Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition in Morris is Manitoba's only PRO RODEO, and as such attracts competitors and participants from all over Manitoba and Western Canada. Retired Golden West Sales consultant Ivan Strain is back in his familiar role as Public Address Announcer in the Draft Horse shows, and from further afield Gary Rempel is one of those cowboys who arrived direct from the Calgary Stampede.  Al Friesen and Gary sat down to talk about the Calgary Stampede, life as a cowboy, and his experience in Morris

In Memory of "Radar" -- A Tribute to Marc Comeault

As we heard from Clayton Dreger, there are five provincial baseball championships this weekend in Manitoba, including Mosquito "AA" in Winkler, PeeWee "AA" in Altona, Bantam "AA" in Dauphin, Midget "AA" in Neepawa, and  Senior "AA" All Stars in Stonewall.   This year's provincials will be without one of their most visible symbols of volunteerism.  Marc Comeault - the Speed Gun Guy who passed away last month. Baseball Manitoba included a tribute to Marc on it's website.

In Memory of "Radar"

Marc, you left us so suddenly
We could never thank you enough, you see

But here's some words to remember you by
The Man, the Kid, the "Radar Guy"

From Brandon to Grunthal, Altona, Plum Coulee
You never knew just where he'd be

Lowe Farm, Morden, Stonewall, St. Malo
And there'd be Marc to say "Hello"

The list goes on, province-wide he'd see
Winkler, Winnipeg to his home town D.C.

He did what he loved, wanted nothing in return
"Look, Radar's here!", often could be heard

For 20 years you pointed that gun
To make the game for the kids more fun

It mattered not the speed of pitch
Or if there'd be a radar glitch

Sonehow he'd get that gun to fire
Patching up another loose wire

Good to go, for many more games
And recording all those pitcher's names

The detailed stats, in few second time
Another pitch, and..."What speed is mine ?!"

Yes, many questions would be asked
Marc, you put the multi in multi-task

Not just in baseball but hockey, golf and tennis
The fastest zamboni driver was a menace!

After Chinese buffet or Chicken Chow Mein
There'd be Marc in the heat, cold or rain

Doing his thing, the Radar Man we could trust
Like your name, you made a "mark" on all of us

Humor and wit you'd bring to the park
As in, a Noah curve ball you'd call Noah's Arc

Lots of laughs, infectious charm
Never do anyone any harm

A heart of gold, unselfish and kind
That was our good ol' Radar Guy

There'll be an empty spot behind the fence
Where all your work and time you spent

It won't seem right not to see you there
Really was a family affair

Like the song from decades ago
"Radar Love" was Marc's m.o.

You never made it to Altona's "Field of Dreams"
But you've moved on to another team

Bet you're clocking Satchel and Cy
Watching one of Ruth's big flies

And kids are still asking "What speed did I throw?!"
Smiling, excited, just wanna know

Marc, we'll never forget you, you're one of a kind
Loved by so many, your friend and mine....Marc Comeault

World Cup -- Markus Rogalsky


It's been five days since the eyes of the soccer world, and much of the rest of the world, focused on Brazil -- site of the World Cup of Soccer -- and that thrilling late game 1-nil Germany win over Argentina. 

A player in the Manitoba Major Soccer League was in Rio for the game,  Markus Rogalsky, who suits up for the Winkler Storm. We spoke with him earlier this morning.

Elexis Penner Blog: Beauty At Our Fingertips


Stained Glass Secrets

By: Elexis Penner

Beauty At Our Fingertips


So I accidentally learned something about myself.


I never go looking for this stuff. I have the same apprehension about self-discovery as I do when I watch Harry Potter go into the Forbidden Forest. I’m all like, “Nooooo! WHY?! Don’t go there – nothing good can come of this!”


But sometimes things are revealed in spite of.


We were at a potluck and a friend of ours from Sudan brought her henna dye and was offering to give beauty treatments. I was game. I wasn’t sure what this would be like, but I went with my usual life strategy of I’ll try anything once. This approach has generally served me well, with a few unfortunate exceptions in my late teens.


My friend, Cindy, got her toes done; I had my fingers done. Most of us are familiar with henna being done in swirly, artsy patterns. The way our Sudanese friend applied it, was by carefully sculpting the henna clay around the tips of our fingers and toes so they all looked like they were wearing little helmets. This needed to stay put for three hours. And we laughed at our little finger/toe puppets.


A side note – our culture does not know how to do nothing. Three hours of not being able to do anything. I couldn’t even read a book. Nothing. I made it about an hour and a half and then I updated my facebook status with my knuckles.


After all was said and done, the ends of my fingers were very, very dark – as though I had dipped the tips of them into chocolate. And a few things happened next that I did not see coming.


The reactions were mixed. Well, they weren’t actually mixed – they were pretty consistent. And I get that. It would not be for everyone. I doubt this look graces too many Pinterest boards. I think I was just a little caught off guard.


Or maybe the real eye-opener was how I felt about the reactions. I felt defensive. Not about my decision to do it – remember, this is coming from someone who sported a pink and green faux-hawk circa 1984. I was defensive of the woman who took the time to do this for me – a gift. It was such a normal process for her – normal, yet special at the same time. And I loved being included. I was annoyed at myself for not managing to convey this.


Admittedly, this was a little bit hard. I started to dread people’s reactions, and hated my need to explain and justify. I had to fight the urge to tell people that I had gotten all 10 fingers stuck in the hoist of the 3-tonne.


I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t need to fit in. But I guess that means only as long as I still fit within the parameters of someone’s version of cute and quirky. How do I handle it when there is something about me that the general public is really not clamoring for?


Of course, we all have our own tastes (although they often suspiciously resemble whatever’s trending). But we don’t all have to like everything. This is good. There is pressure in our society for women (and men) to conform to a certain image. No big news flash. And it irks me. But it was quickly pointed out to me (always on the ball, Jesus – thanks) that I also value certain outward facets over others. And I hate to admit how much brain space I give to this.


If I’m honest, I know I have my own specs for beauty – and they often have to do with size, or shape, or hair color, or style, or laugh, or boots, or purse, or eyebrows, or cowlicks, or I know, it’s ridiculous. And I am most critical of how it all applies to me, but still… If I’m using that yardstick on myself, I’m probably using it on other people, too. Argh….


Would I do this again? I don’t know. Am I sorry I did it? No way.


It made me take a look at how I am affected by what others think of me. It turns out that I am. More than I thought. Super. And by super, I mean DARN.


It gave me a tiny glimpse of what it is like to be conspicuous in a way that is not necessarily coveted by the masses. Being a North American of average age, and average build, and average style and average beauty (whatever THAT is), this was a tiny exercise in empathy.


It didn’t always feel good. And I realize how often I fall short in the way I make people feel. And how much better I could be at breaking down barriers of what is considered beautiful. At how it wouldn’t hurt to change things up a little and make a deliberate attempt to break some molds or buck a few trends – no matter how tempting those jeggings may be…


And most importantly to remember which rung of the ladder our outwards should fall on anyway. The striving towards the outward really should fall well below the dedication to kindness and acceptance and, let’s even say, taste in music. (I’m still partial to 80’s Pop, I will not be moved.)


Because in the end, it is the beauty of your spirit that will inspire others to see the beauty in their own.






Page 1 of 103