Friday, May 30, 2008

Photohunt - ME

In my happy spot! I was there (trailer at Bayfield on Lake Huron) for awhile after school today. I had ordered some chairs and they had been delivered to the local variety store by Sears. It wasn't sunny today though, but after my crazily frenetic Friday, it didn't matter. It was AWAY from it all.

For more photohunt participants click here.

Flipside Friday: The Smiths - Panic (on the streets of London)

There was panic on the streets of London, Ontario today, 450 Dundas St. to be exact as I prepared for a Best Buddy graduation party for 40 with 1/2 of my staff off sick and 3 supply educational assistants, 2 of whom had never been at my school before and the 3rd, well let's just say she needs more support than my students.
Despite the panic we managed to get everything ready just in time, the kids were rowdy but well-behaved and all's well that ends well, so someone said.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Thirteen Indicators that Your Almost 18 Year Old is Growing Up!

  1. She is writing her final highschool English University level essay and asked me to edit it. (She's never shown me any essay she's ever written before on purpose! I may have accidentally peeked but that's a different post.)

  2. She tells me on the drive home from school that she's looking forward to doing her homework tonight because of how good she'll feel when it's all done. (Yes, she is my daughter, I checked her DNA!)

  3. She is gainfully employed. (In fact, she may have two jobs as she has another interview tomorrow.)

  4. She postponed her driving test because SHE feels she needs more time to practise. (Hallelujah, praise the Lord!)

  5. She has been going out with the same boy for over a year and he's the first boyfriend since Gr. 9 four years ago when she chose them for their "cute" factor. (Not that this one isn't cute, but he is also gainfully employed, also heading off to university in the fall, and wants to be a LAWYER!)

  6. She told me not to buy water in plastic bottles anymore and carries a reusable water bottle.

  7. After four years of spending her wages on cafeteria food and fast food lunches she now packs a lunch each day with fresh vegetables, fruit and yogurt. (Maybe I should get that DNA rechecked!)

  8. She offers to do the dishes. Offers.

  9. Anti-exercise all her life except for highland dancing, she now walks, jogs and goes to hot yoga. (Have aliens landed and I wasn't informed?)

  10. Wanting to keep up with world events she watches the news. (This is the same girl who thought Much Music was the only channel on TV. )

  11. She told me the other day that if I was having a bad day or was having any problems that I could talk to her anytime if it would help. Awwwwwwwwwww!

  12. She has cleaned up her room several times over the past few weeks WITHOUT me asking her to! This is MAJOR!!

  13. She bought me a new set of plates because she felt bad about breaking one.

I'm sure more indicators will be forthcoming - I can't wait until she can kills spiders on her own!

For more Thursday Thirteen lists click here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

"Corn Cob Towers" otherwise known as Marina City, overlooking the Chicago River and "the loop". I fell in love with these towers on my visit last summer & took many exterior shots but would love to have a look inside. Does anyone know any links to interior photos?

For more WW click here!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Flipside Friday/Manic Monday - Monster Hospital by Metric

Due to a 5 1/2 hour emergency visit to the hospital Friday night and another trip to the doctor's office today I thought that Emily Haines of the great Canadian indie band Metric singing "Monster Hospital" an appropriate choice.

Signs, Vows and Dairy Queen

I am having a tough time with my post tonight because of several things: first of all one of my favourite movies, Signs is on - I don't know why but I love movies about the end of the world and/or aliens. (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and most recently, Cloverfield). Yet, ironically, I am a very optimistic person and I don't really think aliens exist.
Also, today is my birthday (I'm not telling...) and I made a vow today - never to use a drive through lane again. You see, some London students were protesting at a local Tim Horton's a few days back and made the front page of the newspaper. They were asking folks to park and walk in instead of idling away in a long line of cars. The students were told that what they were doing wasn't going to make anyone change their habits but I, for one, disagree.

Most of the time I DO park and walk in simply because time and time again it has proven to be much faster. There is usually no lineup inside. I can often go in, order, pay and walk out with my coffee and see the same people still waiting in line. Sometimes I give a little wave implying - "see how smart I am?" But my first ever birthday vow is to never use the drivethrough lane again even if I think it may be quicker or more convenient and/or I am feeling particularly lazy.

Not at Timmy's, not at Wendy's and not at Dairy Queen (the slowest drivethrough lane ever!) Tonight we parked and walked into Dairy Queen and although the lineup inside was long, it wasn't nearly as long as the 20 cars all idling and idling as they waited and waited. The line inside moved quickly yet gave us time to peruse the menu, salivate over the pictures and decide what we wanted to have. AND I could understand what they were saying to me, it wasn't all tinny and garbled.

It isn't easy to eat a sundae and type at the same time so I have had to take many little pauses while I enjoyed my soft icecream, pecans and caramel sauce. Even though this post took twice as long to type, it was worth every mouthful!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

David Cook - A Well Deserved Victory

There seems to be a new kind of guy garnering respect these days and I like it. A self-described "word-nerd", David Cook - a humble, off-beat, weirdly intelligent rocker type (who wears argyle sweaters) with a raspy raw perfectly pitched voice, won the day at American Idol. For once, talent won out over the cutesy, teeny-bopper syrupy-sweet young'un type. (Remember Clay?)
Not that David Archuleta doesn't have an incredible voice - he does- but not much range in the types of songs he can sing. A balladeer, another balladeer.
Rock on David Cook. Let's see what you can make of your chance.
And fellow Canadians, Canadian Idol starts up on June 3rd. YAY!

Best Buddies - Track and Field

My student, in blue, is running the 400m helped out by three members of our Best Buddies Club: one girl jogging ahead on the left, another pointing as she runs and a third jogging along on the other side. With the help of her buddies she kept running all the way around the track.
Our first place ribbon winner in the long jump. I love my other student watching in the background (grey T-shirt, blue pants) as he is jumping at the same time.
My best picture poser! "This is a shotput. See?"
"And this is how you throw the shotput!" She was third overall.
Our buddies sure had fun, even though it was so cold. How cold was it? I don't know, but I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.
Running the relay, despite a valiant effort in the last leg by our 100m 1st place winner the gap was too big to close, but we cheered all the way to the finish line.
I call this photo "The Agony of De Feet."
But we can never be sad for too long, not when we are surrounded by best friends and blankets."Wow, I sure threw that ball pretty high!"
(That's me smiling - I think my smile froze into place!")
Making it to the finish line is a wonderful feeling.

A day with my best buddy is the best kind of day.
Meeting up with an old friend who moved away a year ago.
Tears of happiness.
I love my yellow baton. I don't really want to pass it on. Maybe I'll just keep it. Maybe no one will notice.
I am fast, I am Superspeedyfeet woman!
Look at my form, look at my steely-eyed determination, look at the goosepimples on my arms and legs. Hurry up and start the race already!

The End

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

David vs David

The psychics have picked David Archuleta, but greater financial success and album sales are predicted for David Cook.

We'll know the winner in about 15 minutes - hang in there!

Special Olympics - What a Great Day!

These aren't my students. I hope to have some photos up tomorrow from our track and field meet today. But the same competitive spirit is there in those smiling, victorious faces.

As the track meet was in another city, we endured a bus ride filled with exuberant special athletes and many peer coaches from our hugely successful Best Buddies Club, about 22 in all, plus 7 staff, all singing Kumbaya at the tops of their collective lungs, over and over and over again. And then again. Coulda been worse, coulda been 100 bottles of beer on the wall.

It certainly wasn't the best day weatherwise. Only about 9C, windy and overcast except for a 2 second glimpse of the sun through a tiny break in the clouds at about 10:00am. But other than a few rain drops we remained dry, frozen solid, but dry.

But I heard no complaints, except from my staff (and me) while guzzling gallons of strong, hot coffee and gorging on double chocolate muffins and cookies provided by our most excellent hosts (St. Joseph's Highschool in lovely St. Thomas, Ontario - thank you!)

We managed to score quite a few ribbons for shotput, highjump, long jump, 100 and 400m races but the best prizes were the looks on the faces of our kids as they crossed the finish line with arms raised in the air, jumping up and down because they finished the race.

We met up with old friends who had moved away and made many new friends too as evidenced by the frequent exchange of facebook info - I had to keep loaning out my pen - sheesh! Love was in the air! Things were heating up!

The ride home was much quieter, I even heard a few snores! And our bus driver, God bless him, made a pit stop for us at Tim Horton's. You can never have enough hot coffee on such a chilly day. We made it back to school with the same number of kids as when we left - that spells success for me.

American Idol is certainly a long drawn out affair tonight, I enjoyed David Cook singing with ZZ Top. And it was nice to see Donna Summer still hobbling around - she sounded pretty good. Which David will win??? Being more of a rock fan I'm hoping for DC, but DA has the preteen and little old lady market cornered. It'll be a close one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #7

Like the crazy canuck that I am
here are my belated vacation suggestions.
I am providing a list of the best hostels and locations in Canada.
Many of us will be sticking closer to home this summer due to the high cost
of petrol, so here are some economical yet fantastic places to stay.
Staying in a hostel isn't just for teenagers. My daughter and I travelled
around Canada during her Highland dancing days and stayed at many of these
hostels for as little as $12.00/night, in a private room. While she was under twelve
my daughter stayed for free.
1. Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec: situated on top of a cliff overlooking the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. My daughter and I tried to go whale-watching while we were here but it was too foggy during our stay. (We were successful while staying on Cape Breton Island two years later!)
2. Why not stay in a heritage building in downtown Victoria, B.C. for as low as $18.00 a night. Do I sound like a travel agent? You won't regret it!
3. Wentworth, Nova Scotia. Can I just say here that I love Nova Scotia with all of my heart, except for the part I will always reserve for Alberta (see #4)!
4. There is no place on earth more beautiful than "Kananaskis Country" unless its Nova Scotia (see #3)! This was the most rustic of the hostels I've stayed in and it was my favourite. My daughter and I played all day in the creek nearby creating a new tributary we named after ourselves (check out "Harrison Creek" when you visit!) all the while keeping one eye out for bears. I lived in Alberta for a year a lifetime ago and will never stop yearning to be back amid the magnificent Rockies.
5. Lennox Island is part of Prince Edward Island and is the place to visit if you enjoy sea-kayaking and inexpensive accomodations that are breathtakingly! ($20/night)
6. I can't say enough about the quality of the Auberge de Jeunesse in downtown Montreal. We were attending a national competition at the Sheraton Hotel which was located only a block away. I think I paid $10.00 a night and my daughter stayed for free. Needless to say we had a lot more fun shopping than our friends who were paying $200+ at the Sheraton!
7. Can you believe this place? Located at Pointe-a-la-Garde on the shore of the Baie des Chaleurs on the Gaspe Peninsula (just across the bridge from Campbellton, New Brunswick) this castle-like hostel was quite the experience. We stayed in an octagonal tower room and ate every home-cooked meal in a banquet hall lit only by candlelight. Our host who built the castle with his father, cooked & served every meal himself (authentic Quebecois cuisine). Around the table guests were present from all over the world and many an interesting story was shared. Be prepared to hike and enjoy the amazing views. On our last night guests took turns spooking each other with scary tales while the seemingly pre-arranged thunder crashed and lightning flashed & then we dashed (sorry, couldn't help myself!) back to our tower while the wind howled to find that the hydro had gone out - we shivered and huddled together for warmth and protection from the ghouls in our beds and agreed this was the best holiday ever!
8. You could stay in a doghouse in Quebec City and be happy, but luckily you don't have to. This hostel was ranked in the top 3 of all North American hostels in 2005. If you are still pondering where to go this summer put Quebec City at the top of your list. This summer they are celebrating the 400th anniversary since the founding of the city. Sounds like a party to me!

9. Whale watching, canyonning, hot tubs on the beach, the very best of the Gaspe Peninsula close at hand. Spectacular! In winter, the mountains are close by for skiing and the hot tubs are still in use.
10. This hostel at Banff was newly built when I was there and top-notch. It has an excellent restaurant and so much to do close by. Hot springs, hiking around Lake Louise, cable cars up into the mountains, lots & LOTS of wildlife. You can't go wrong visiting the Rockies.
11. What vacation in Canada would be complete without a visit to Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island? This hostel (home) is gorgeous - hardwood floors, cherry banisters, bay windows, home baking for breakfast - more like a cozy bed and breakfast.
12. Here's a hostel I'd love to visit - the northernmost hostel in Canada located in Dawson City, Yukon. Go panning for gold, visit a gold mine, paddle the Klondike River, enjoy native arts and crafts. This is one place you won't soon forget.
13. Edmonton, Alberta: we loved this hostel! And we loved Edmonton! My daughter was dancing at the West Edmonton Mall which is THE largest mall in North America and the 4th largest in the world. Not that I'm advocating malls but this place has an ice rink, a water park, a hotel, an amusement park complete with roller coaster, a submersible submarine, indoor golf, movie theatres, petting zoo (etc etc) and over 800 stores and services. My favourite part was Bourbon St. which is of course based on New Orleans. When you're stuck in one location for a week with 100's of children (dancers) this was a pretty entertaining spot.

Another cool reason for travelling to northern Canada in the summer is the longer days. I was able to sit outside in the hostel's courtyard reading past 10 o'clock at night. I really appreciated that after long days of entertaining the kiddies!

Wordless Wednesday - The Beach (Lake Erie)

Sand formations at Duttona Beach, Lake Erie, Ontario. What do you see?
Me too!

For more Wonderful Wordless Wednesday posts go here!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Memoirs - Life Cycle of a Laying Hen

Chickens have always played a large role in my family. What an odd statement. But true nonetheless. There's my dad holding a chicken in his arms at age 4. He lived almost 80 more years and raised countless chickens.

Unfortunately not all of my experiences with our chickens were pleasant. I have memories of one flapping around me when I was about 3 and digging its talons into my bare back. Not a happy memory. And I was always a little hesitant opening up the henhouse door when I had to collect the eggs. Hesitant was good because if I opened the door suddenly all the hens would fly up and flap their wings and the air would be full of squawking and feathers. Tiptoeing in was better and gently gliding my hand under their bums in one smooth quick movement to clutch and grab the still warm eggs.

I have to admit there was a certain fascination for me in watching my dad select an old hen for the stewing pot. He had a long metal hook and would reach with it into the chicken coop and give a quick yank on the neck of one of the older hens. Then he would chop its head off with an axe and yes, I have seen them run around headless, but not for long. Then he would dunk it into boiling water and pull out the feathers.

Now for the insides. Dad would spread newspaper over the picnic table and carefully explain to me each organ as he would remove it - I was spellbound but in no way did the experience make me want to be a vet or a doctor. It was more an interest in the whole process - from a live chicken in the coop to a simmering chicken pot pie in the oven. Yum.

I never remember feeling sorry for the chicken, I do remember feeling "lucky me"! Chicken for supper! I mean, that's the way it was. We eked out our diet by raising chickens and growing a large garden. The chickens roamed free most of the time, had a good life laying eggs and scratching about in the dirt, then when they were old and couldn't lay eggs anymore, sacrificed their lives to give us one more meal.

I just can't feel sad about that!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day! all you Mothers!!

My mother would have been 85 years old today if Parkinson's hadn't taken her away at the age of 77. But while she lived my mother was a thoroughly modern woman. Born in 1923, the second of 4 children and the only girl, she had an independent spirit and a gift for drawing, painting and writing. Growing up during the depression with only a mother she dropped out of school in Gr. 10 to work in the local broom factory. Times were tough yet photo after photo show her impeccably turned out in a wide array of flattering outfits - how she did it I'll never know.

Somehow she also managed to clothe and feed her five active and always hungry children, including me, pictured above in a pretty snazzy outfit for a 2 year old. Note my mother's stylish coat, coordinated head scarf and of course spotless white gloves. You'd think we were quite well off by appearances. And you know, we were, in the things that counted.

Today I'd like to thank my mother for a simple gift she gave me, which I enjoyed to the full today. The gift of artful puttering. My mother loved to putter, indeed, she lived to putter. There was nothing she loved more than to putter around the house in the morning - sorting through the accumulation of stuff on the dining room table, a little dusting, writing a few lists, putting misplaced items back where they belong, moving around a few pieces of furniture, trying on a new blouse or two, pruning a few houseplants, reading a few snippets from the newspaper, magazines and a half dozen books, sweeping the kitchen floor (a task she did so often we called her The Grim Sweeper!), and a myriad other little odd jobs.

While I puttered around my trailer today, inside and out, I thought fondly of our "ma". How she would have loved it at the trailer I thought as I vacuumed, dusted and arranged several new storage ottomans. "Just the ticket" she would say, "so handy - you can sit on them, you can store extra linens etc in them and flip over the top and it becomes a tray to hold cups of tea and cookies!" As I raked leaves I could envision her sitting on a lounge chair with her favourite book in hand and the inevitable cup of tea on a side table.

And as I swept my large front porch I wished she was there with me, because then SHE would have been sweeping instead of ME!

Flipside Fridays: Right the Buffalo Springfield

I heard this song on my drive home from my trailer today - it still strikes a chord - the right chord. Still relevant today, over 40 years after it was released.

Love is but the song we sing,
And fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Know the dove is on the wing
And you need not know why

C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and love one another right now

Some will come and some will go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moments sunlight
Fading in the grass

C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and love one another right now

If you hear the song I sing,
You must understand
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It's there at your command

C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and love one another right now
Right now
Right now!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Price of Gasoline

With the price of gas currently above $1.20 per litre, the above picture taken on April 11th is starting to look good. That's just sad.

So, like millions of other people I am looking for ways to improve my car's gas mileage what with trips to the trailer looming in the near future. Gotta get to the trailer.

One tip I read says to reduce the amount of weight that you carry in your car. It's time to take out the sandbags from your trunk as I think we are safely past any surprise spring snow showers. (That's an opinion, not a promise!)

Taking that a step further I have decided I need to lighten up. So over the past month I have managed to lose 11.5 pounds. That should help my gas mileage a little, but not enough. So I have decided that no one over 130 lbs. will be allowed in my car. Hey, gives people a little incentive don't you think? Obesity is a huge problem in this country, I'm just doing my bit for the people. And the environment....and my wallet.

After searching the internet I found this "rule of thumb" at the site "Daily Fuel Economy Tip":
For every extra 100 pounds you carry in your vehicle, you reduce gas mileage and fuel economy by roughly 2%.

Maybe my weight limit should be 30 lbs. instead. And how much more weight can I really lose? Kinda ridiculous isn't it? But seriously, clean out the trunk of your car - I know I carry around a lot of useless stuff and could lighten my load by quite a bit - at these prices I'll try anything!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Trailer Made!

You will notice that my blogging output decreases in direct relationship to good weather and "trailer time!" Last July I purchased a trailer in a summer park just outside Bayfield, Ontario. It was the best money I ever spent. I lead a somewhat (hah!) stressed existence as a single parent of a university bound 17 year old child/teen/woman (cheeman...chilteman...cheenan?)

The other major stressor in my life is my job. I love my job, don't get me wrong, but it wakes me up about 3 or 4 times a night. I jolt awake and wonder how to convince "Sam's" father to accept some help, like a support worker for Sam, a medical checkup....etc when he sees any recommendation as a sign he is a failure as a father (she just moved in with him last August after her grandmother died and we just want to help him out but he sees it as interference). A little while later I open my eyes and worry about "Tanya", a student with autism who is graduating this year, she is 21, as her parents have made no plans for her - what is she going to do all day? Then about an hour before the alarm goes off I sit upright and hope that "Rusty" remembers to take his medication for epilepsy when he goes on his overnight trip with his Gr. 9 band class. And on and on it goes.

When I go to the trailer I can leave all of these worries behind me. When I am at the trailer I am no longer a teacher. Instead, I am someone who can take apart a large, heavy sofabed with a hammer, a screwdriver and a pair of scissors. (It came with the trailer but it needed to go and it wouldn't fit through the door so I took it apart- it was for the best as I was able to recycle all the metal and kept the wood for burning in the firepit!)

When I am at the trailer I become a beachcomber, walking the shoreline everyday picking up kindling for that night's fire. I become an expert at recognising birdcalls, and keep my eye on the birdfeeders and bird houses nestled in the trumpet vines across from my trailer. My heart rate slows down and the most important thing I have to do is ride my bike into town to drink iced coffee in front of the Bean Bag, buy delectable pastries at the bake shop for tomorrow's breakfast and a bottle of wine for tonight's BBQ. Well, that's important!

This week's trailer task is to take up a futon to replace the sofa bed and two storage ottomans to hold my daughter's clothing/stuff. Hopefully it will be sunny so I can finish raking the leaves and plant the climatis I bought a week ago and plant the native grass seeds a friend gave me. Then we'll be ready to stay through the Victoria Day weekend, better known in Canada as the May two four weekend (in reference to a case of 24 beer bought by millions of Canadians as we kick off the long-awaited summer party weekend season.)

I'll stick to a six pack myself.