Saturday 29 October 2011

The great Hallowe'en Debate

Local gas station (Perth) asks you to vote on your fave carving!
I've done my share of Hallowe'en. I've had three children, and taught for 25 years. We had great fun with the day. The grade six classes put together a Hallowe'en room.

With younger kids going through, putting their hand in bowls of brains (cooked spaghetti!), and kids popping out of boxes.

It was clever and creative.
There are pumpkins everywhere. They are beautiful, a sign of fall.

We always had a costume parade throughout the school, especially in the K to gr. 6 schools. It was fun, as the kindergartens visited the older kids.

In a couple of Ontario schools they are forbidding particular costumes; black face, and potentially racist costumes. In all my years teaching I'd never seen kids arriving at school with costumes that mock a particular race or culture. I guess it must happen in this intolerant, red-neck world in some places. (Ohio University’s Students Teaching About Racism in Society)

"Leaf fan waiting for a cup!"
Our Hallowe'en parties were fun, with kids playing music, and telling and listening to spooky stories.
With the new rules barring candy and junk food from schools, I find things have really changed.

I ensured that my young students ate a good snack in the morning, every day. That way, when we had a party, we could let go, and have some junk. It was a treat. I never permitted a student to share anything s/he had brought with another child. This meant that we avoided kids sharing a large bag of chips they'd brought from home, or bought from the store, with their peers. One year I had two anaphalactic kids in my class, with severe allergies to peanuts. We were vigilant.

Nov., 2001
There were a few children, of particular faiths, who were not allowed to participate; e.g., strong Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish, and Muslim. I truly wrestled with this. I gave them other activities, and they were able to sit in the library reading, or doing other work. Most of us suspended our faith traditions, to have a chance to dress up and be goofy for an afternoon.
It was a day to do role reversal, with ghoulish costumes on otherwise happy kids.

We had great fun.
Lots of integrated phonics and linguistic activities:

  • name 10 things that are white
  • how many words rhyme with 'boo?'
  • name 3 Hallowe'en words with 2, 3 , and 4 syllables.
We usually did group lunches, organized by the students. They might design a placemat in art, put together a menu, and so on.

Boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys. We tolerated no racism, or homophobia. 
The teachers always dressed up. 

It is a more complicated world. I am glad I am retired. It is so easy to offend someone.
Some schools are forcing kids to wear 'caring' costumes, or only orange and black.

This year critics have even denounced the Oct. 31 celebration as a conduit for racists. Ohio University’s Students Teaching About Racism in Society launched a poster campaign featuring members of visible minorities glumly holding photos of revellers clad in Pocahontas, suicide-bomber and geisha-girl costumes with the tagline: “This is not who I am and this is not okay.”
 These photos are from October, 2005.

  1. Costumes OK in schools, but weapons forbidden

    MetroNews Canada - 2 days ago
    While some Calgary public schools have shelved spooky for “caring” costumes on Hallowe'en, this city has more relaxed rules on students dressing up. ...
  2. What your Hallowe'en costume says about you

    Philippine Star - Anna Canlas - 1 day ago
    Such a statement-making costume is the Octoberian equivalent of a long-strategized trip ... playing even more with the idea of the good and the forbidden...
  3. The war on Hallowe'en: Taming the devils, demons and pumpkins

    National Post - Tristin Hopper - 1 hour ago
    And, while pious Jews may be forbidden from sending their children out trick ... Ore., cancelled the wearing of Hallowe'en costumes for reasons of “equity” ...

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Mixed-species marriage: trees

I know I have many tree fans. Bear with me for another tree post.
These trees seem to have fused early on. Now, they are huge. I looked casually at them. They sit on "Oliver's Lot", and I'd walked past them for a year until I noticed them on October 4th.
If you look closely one is a birch, the other a cedar. They support one another.
Olive loved visiting this lot. It is made up of mature forest, a grassy meadow, and frog pond.
cedar (left) - birch bark (right)

another view
I love the mature forest!

tree canopy - so beautiful, Oct. 4, 2011
all the leaves are now gone.

To quote the Friendly Giant, "Look up, look waaaaay up!"

Monday 24 October 2011

Happy bird tale; Mr. Mole, a sad tale

Yes, I've been having fun watching by 6-month-old kittens. This is a sort of follow-up to my series on my cat's catches:
There was 
a snake 

They haven't caught a frog (yet), but have tried.
Buster went after a praying mantis, which I rescued.
Felix wisely just watched the turkeys.
The other day I spotted all three cats around my pond. Can you spot them?
Correction, I have two black kittens, hubby has one cat, Sadie - the tabbie, who is the queen. Hint: Buster likes to hide under things, just in case her sister gives him a whack. 

Don't know what I was thinking plant 'fall crocus', too cold and often rainy, to sit out and observe them.

They love the birds on the lawn.
Here's Felix giving them a bit of exercise. They scold him from the tree.

But one day, they did find a mole. It's hard work. They sat taking turns on top of the septic system, where the varmints were digging underground. Felix took the longest shift.
First you spot the mound of dirt.
Then you pounce with two cat-like paws and, well, doggy-dig as fast as you can.
Felix's hard digging pays off...

Felix quite proud of his mole capture
-other cat looks up at me with horror!
Buster hovered.

Poor Mr. Mole, love the digging toes and snout

Friday 21 October 2011

Respect for the Environment; bullies, bullied, bystanders

Garbage dumped
Sometimes I wonder. But I'm not surprised. The Tea Party libertarians in this region want the right to treat the land any way they choose. Liberty from taxes and laws.

I follow the issues related to the environment. We drink well water. We love watching nature on our land.

I cannot believe man's inhumanity towards nature.

And the solution? We all must watch out and speak out for such conflict. It is the same solution to bullying. I truly believe this. I read a book: The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander, and realized was was right. It is the bystander who is often the guilty party.
The bully won't stop, the bullied cannot stand up, and the bystander...

Education, give victims the tools and the language to fight them. Give the bullies the idea that we are watching them. And bystanders must stand up for what they believe in. Not in terms of getting into harms way, but in speaking truth to power.

I heard Mr. Obama say, found it in print,
"When thinking about the work we must do - rebuilding an economy that can compete on a global stage, fixing our schools so that every child gets a world-class education, making sure that our health care system is affordable and accessible to all - let us not be trapped by what is. We've got to keep pushing for what ought to be," he said.

Bullies how no respect for victims. Seems to me that they get less attention than those who snow no respect for our world.
Shame on those who show no respect for the land, but blame it on what? Greed? Ignorance? Stupidity?

Township Of Drummond/North Elmsley Fined $4,000 For Failing To Comply With Certificate Of Approval - MOE

PERTH – On May 10, 2011, the Township of Drummond/North Elmsley was convicted on one violation under the Environmental Protection Act for failing to comply with a condition of their Provisional Certificate of Approval for a Waste Disposal Site.

United States Poacher Fined for Violations of Canadian Laws While Hunting Waterfowl

EDMONTON, Alta. -- October 19, 2011 -- Jeffrey Foiles, of Pleasant Hill, Illinois, was fined a total of $14,500 today in Edmonton Provincial Court on five counts of violations against Canadian law protecting migratory birds, and one count under the Criminal Code of Canada. Foiles had pleaded guilty on September 14, 2011, to committing the violations between 2004 and 2007 while hunting waterfowl and filming a series of commercial hunting videos in Canada.
Foiles was also fined $1500 for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to a bird contrary to the Criminal Code.

Alberta Man Found Guilty for Illegally Importing Snakes and Scorpions
EDMONTON, Alb. -- October 18, 2011 -- Terrell John Gruse, a resident of Edmonton, Alberta, was convicted on October 13, 2011, for illegally importing rattlesnakes and scorpions into Canada. His violations include two counts under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) and one count under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

An individual has been fined $40,000 for engaging in the illegal trade of an endangered species
MONTRÉAL, Que. -- September 28, 2011 -- The Quebec component of an investigation into the illegal trade of Queen Conches, initiated in October 2006 by Environment Canada, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and fisheries officers from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ended in a guilty verdict and a fine totalling $40,000 for Michael Angelakis.

Vancouver Poacher Found Guilty of Illegally Hunting Dunlin and Great Blue Heron
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- September 22, 2011 -- Hang Jian Guo, of Vancouver, was convicted in British Columbia Provincial Court for illegal hunting under the Migratory Birds Convention Act 1994.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Conclusion of #comforterquest

Poor old Wanda, the cat, is sitting vigil under her daddy's bed. She had a quiet day.

My client was in fine fettle this afternoon.
After I'd walked in wearing my Leafs jersey, we'd shared our joke.
As I left he said, "Go, Sens, go!"

His evening PSW he told, "If you see a guy with a long beard and tattoos, he's my son. Just tell him, "Down, Rob, Down." He has some precious moments. I would have loved to have known him when...
some tattoo!
Stu got the comforter from Michael Nagy, the buyer, downtown in Ottawa. 

I phone Rob and asked if he'd be my body guard while I sat in a parking lot. Truth. He'd been napping while the other caregiver was there. He usually did the midnight shift when Dad need meds or TLC.
Stu catches the comforter downtown Ottawa
from Michael Nagy
There was a plan for Stu and I to meet. I figured I might be able to make it fun. Truly didn't want to drive alone.

Yes, it's true. I picked up Rob. We sat in the Franktown Parc 'N Ride, me and my client's son. Waiting, hoping the cops didn't come by. If they did, I had the print out of many of the tweets of this developing story. Under strict instructions to phone home when we arrived I did.
Hubby told us we were early and might have time to pop into a couple of pubs while we were waiting. Truth is, you can't even get a pop in Franktown at 9:00 at night!

It was around 9 pm, a small white car pulled into the parking lot. There was a logo on the side, and it wasn't the OPP! It was Stu.

The handover in the parking lot!
 Rob was handed the comforter by our hero, Stu. Giggles all around.
Rob & Stu: Franktown: From Cottage Country Reflections

We sat and laughed and Rob said it was touching and wonderful –all that everyone did for us. Ah well. The deed is done and we all made a son very happy.

I took Rob home, and we went up to see his Dad. Dad was sleeping. I reached over and touched his shoulder, a frail hand reached up from under his covers and said, "Go away and let me sleep!"

Rather a hoot after all this, but understandable. Me an' my tattooed friend, Rob, had a blast. Dad went back to sleep.

My client has his comforter. That's the important thing, and I am burned out. I took Saturday off, and visited with my friends and grandkids. I haven't had a life since taking up this quest a week before.
I've had this client for two weeks.

Read the first segment here. "The Ottawa-Carleton-Gatineau #comforterquest", the power of social media to work for good.


Apparently I was out of the loop. The Sens had been talking to Stu all along. I'm not sure why they didn't contact me directly. Sens head office phoned Stu, quite miffed at my suggestion that their support was lukewarm.

They offered to have Spartacat to deliver the comforter.

I declined this potential exploitation of my client, a Spartacat photo-op. One is not at their best when palliative with cancer. I still submit that they could have sent some swag. They got a lot of tweets and CBC coverage from this.
But that is just my opinion and I am entitled to it, sitting as I did, bedside afternoons for two weeks straight.

 I don't know what motivates people.
@Monkeyboard was the most altruistic, as was the anonymous benefactor who offered to pay to have the comforter transported to us in Perth, or Janine who offered to pick it up and get it out to us in Lanark County.
photo from Stu Mills' camera
my flash crapped out