Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thematic Photograph: "Orange"

Well, this week's Thematic Photography is orange and though I didn't have anything to enter into the mix earlier, today I do.

We love clementines - when the little orange-tangerines come out in the autumn, we go through crates at a time. I've always had a quirky ability to peel them in one piece, and recently showed Sam how I do that. Now, I find myself sought out to peel his every one, and of course, he has 3 or 4 at a time!

The minute I peeled this one, I knew I had to do something with it. I looked at Sam, and said, "Ooooooh....let's pull a Carmi!" He said, "I was JUST thinking that!!" We went into the kitchen, the black surface of the stove worked as a perfect background, and the results are here. His idea was to pose the peel and the peeled together.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Theo's back - revisited

The first time I blogged about Theo's back trouble was when it began, in February. He was fine till May, when I noticed he was just not himself. It was a Friday night. I got an appointment Saturday morning, started him on meds, as the doctor believed it was the same problem. He was okay for a couple of days, but that Monday, was in a lot of pain; I rushed him in for the emergency appointment hours and this time, they gave him tramodol for pain as well as extending the steroids for inflammation. He recovered but I sat in dread of August. It had been 3 months between flare-ups and somehow, I thought August would bring another.

Lo and behold. Tuesday afternoon I noticed he was off...can't really describe it any other way. I walked him, which is never an indication as he is his old self most of the time when this flares up. Called the vet and got an appointment an hour later. When the doctor palpated Theo's spine, the dog tensed up just for a moment and the doctor nodded. He said "Yup, same as last time, same location but you caught it early - when did you first notice symptoms?" I said, "an hour ago, but he wasn't showing symptoms - just wasn't himself, I had a feeling." The doctor was actually quite impressed with the depth of the connection Theo and I share. I told him that my dog has a special something and he told me he could tell from the first time we'd been in. That made me smile.

He doesn't believe this is anything serious beyond what it is - an occasional flare-up, inflammation due to discal fluid leaking from one of the vertebrae. He said that because I can see it early, and because Theo responds well to meds, this is highly controllable and no need for even considering surgery. That was reassuring but in the meantime, my baby dog needs painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and is not his usual jumpy self. He is an amazing dog, though, his demeanor is so docile that he didn't even give the vet an argument when he was in pain. I'll take my cues from him, but we're babying Theo till this runs its course. Carrying him up and down stairs, not allowing him to jump onto or off the sofa, and watching him closely for any changes. Keep him in your thoughts!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thematic Photography: "Odd"

This week, my friend Carmi is entertaining photographic entries depicting "odd". I immediately flashed to a picture taken on a walk with Theo and Sam; we saw these shoes at the bus stop up the street and they were neatly placed, right there on the grass. Sam began to sweep his arms over the shoes, magician-style. When I asked what he was doing, he said, "I'm just checking. Maybe there's an invisible woman in the shoes..!"

Definitely odd...!

But the following week,
while coming out of Loblaw's, I saw a tiny shoe right on the pavement behind my car. Made me smile...and doubly odd - two shoe incidents in a week!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Toxic Teachers

I'd like to know what gives teachers the right to undo all that has been done in the time before their students arrive in their classes. Specifically, what right does a teacher have to damage the social fabric of a student's life? Are they not mandated to nurture not only the mind but the spirit? Granted, there are some who don't take this responsibility to heart, but the general consensus among educators is that teachers are tasked with the whole child, not just his or her academic achievements.

Take two students, boys who have been friends from nursery school. They have been friendly for years, and have a renewed, strengthened bond in their last year of elementary school. They get together outside of the school environment, are constantly in touch, play hockey together, and sit together on the bus to and from school. They are also in the same class.

Does a teacher have the right to pull aside one boy and tell him that the other is negatively influencing him and that he should stay away from that boy in school? Perhaps the combination of the two makes for a challenge, but does that give the teacher dominion over the children's social connections? Assume, for a moment, that the child admonished would follow his teacher's advice: does this not isolate and diminish the other child to a point where he might begin to feel less wanted in the social circle of his friends?

I don't know the answer; I don't know the entire situation, and I have to give the parties involved the benefit of the doubt. But I don't feel comfortable with the teacher telling one child not to be friends with the other; even if she didn't use those words, it is implied, and she risks the admonished child agreeing and complying so as not to rock the boat, and causing the other child's feelings of isolation and bewilderment. A less confident child might take it to heart, and this is where we begin to see the bullied child syndrome emerge.

Yes, teachers bully. I've taken my son's case, in Grade 4, all the way up to the school board's regional director, as well as to my local police station, when the teacher he was unfortunate enough to have that year belittled, insulted, humiliated and taunted him on a regular, ongoing basis. The only satisfaction I got from my actions was that the teacher no longer teaches at the school (whether from my complaint, or a flurry of them - I've no idea), and a slightly more attentive administration the following year.

But now we're back again, and while there is a 2-month remainder to the year, I am starting to see the signs of bullying returning, this time embodied by another teacher. Do I tell the boy to suck it up, and live through the next 2 months without incident, or do I take this to administration? Not a born complainer, not one to make waves, this situation doesn't have an easy answer in my head. But the mother tigress protecting her cubs is what I become, and I'm tempted to pursue this after the week's holidays have come and gone, and classes resume.

It does make me question everything that goes on in school, though. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it raises a mistrust that doesn't feel good, not when one is dealing with the people who see my children more hours than I do in a given day.

I'll wait and see; they're off till next Wednesday, so there's no need to stress about it. But I wish someone would just retrain teachers in sensitivity issues, rather than all the pedagogical development days they get (3-4 times the number of ped days in Quebec than Ontario teachers, and I see no visible difference in the quality of my sons' education).

Perhaps, as I set foot onto the field of Educational Technology, this could become a focal point. Sometimes the most important missions arise from the necessities of life instead of the whims or ideas.

Stay tuned...

(comments welcomed)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Norman Rockwell and me

Ever feel like this? I think we all do, when we bring our animals to the vet. No matter the reason, it's daunting to be there; the animal in your arms is usually very apprehensive, the other animals around you are either yapping or barking or shaking in tandem with yours. Sometimes, the vet is a place for news we are afraid to hear, sometimes it's just a routine checkup but with the deep emotions we feel for our pets, it's hard to separate even routine from anticipatory worry.

It's harder to be there, knowing there's a problem, and all alone to boot. That's where I found myself this afternoon. Theo hadn't been himself for the last 3 days, and I finally made an appointment for him to see the vet today. Being a mid-afternoon appointment, I had no kids with me to help pass the time, or dismiss the growing worry, and I remembered this Norman Rockwell painting all too well. It was even more apropos when I had seen the vet and returned to the waiting room with my dog, to await the Xray machine's availability. Sitting there, I had to absorb the news that Theo may have a discal hernia (as well as all the things that can happen because of it, and the possible surgery he might face at some point in his life). Being the emotional soul that I am, having already shed tears in the examining room, I breathed to calm myself for my dog's sake (as well as, perhaps, my public face). And I felt, more than ever, like the child in this painting. All around me were other patients with their owners, happy and healthy, and my puppy was lying, still and quiet, in my arms while I quelled emotions for his peace of mind.

The technician came out to take Theo to the X-ray, and I sat alone, feeling more isolated than even this child depicts. It lasted about 40 minutes while Theo got the X-rays, at which point I was then shown to another examining room and asked to await the doctor. That was worse. Not knowing what she'd tell me, not even having my puppy with me to soothe, I had to press my fingernails into my palm to detract from tears. And all I could do was say a prayer to whatever Entity would listen. One doesn't hear the words "possible paralysis" without her mind reeling toward that vision at 100 miles an hour.

The doctor came in and powered up the computer screen on the wall; forgetting my worry, I focused on the cool digital x-rays I was shown. I listened so that I could remember her every word to tell both kids, and the news was encouraging. No fracture or infection she could see, and if it is a discal hernia, it is minor. She would send me home with anti-inflammatory meds for him, and by 24 hours from then, I should see an improvement. Still, without totally babying him (fat chance), I was told he should not do any jumping for another 10 days.

The problem could recur - or not. It could need surgery - or not. But whatever happens, I am in good hands with the vet; that, above all, is worth the price paid for the visit.

Theo was brought out to me, happy to see me, but subdued. He sat on the counter between me and the receptionist while I paid for the visit, the x-rays, the meds, and the stuffed animal and cookies I'd bought him (guilt goes shopping). Then I brought him home to await his boys' return from school so I could explain to their very-worried faces what I had learned.

I have given Theo his first dose of meds, and lo and behold! He ate the cookie WITH the pills without even spitting out the meds! Thank goodness, because the last thing I wanted was to force-feed my already-stressed puppy his meds!

I've always loved Norman Rockwell. And the above painting was always a favorite of mine. But today, it came back to me in feelings, not just vision, and my admiration for the man's ability to depict emotions without words just grew exponentially.

I'll update Theo's condition as I go...think good thoughts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I've known Andy Nulman since 1990 - finding out my new husband was an old school friend of his had me starry-eyed...after all, Andy's the guy who began the Just for Laughs festival, meeting and bringing in celebrities for 2 weeks of summertime joy every year. I'd attended Just for Laughs before I had heard the name "Andy Nulman"! To be 1 degree of separation from this guy made me an instant groupie.

Ran into Andy one year when we'd gotten tickets at a charity auction, to sit in the outdoor courtesy tent (what its formal name was escapes me now), and watch one of the galas from there. When we arrived, Andy was hobnobbing and greeted us warmly. This was my first impression of him: an outgoing, jovial, popular and genuinely friendly guy. He immediately had us sit at a table with him and share a drink. When he found out what we were doing there, he wasted no time. He called over one of his lackeys (he probably didn't CALL them that - at least not to their faces) and had her arrange for seats inside the theater for us. We were able to take in the gala - with Dick Cavett and Kelsey Grammar, no less! - from the 2nd row of the theater, and I was more starry-eyed than ever!

But it didn't stop there. Andy invited us to the closing party at the Delta hotel, where I actually rubbed elbows with Kelsey Grammar (okay, we were crammed in line waiting for our food at the buffet and my elbow sort of brushed his). It was one of the most seriously cool nights I'd spent in a long time.

Andy takes initiative to bring people together, not just at the big parties, but smaller ones too. A co-creator of the every-five-years gathering of his youth/childhood friends, he sends some of the most entertaining emails bringing news and details of the gathering to an ever-growing list of people. I only wish he'd let spouses join the party. *sighhhhhs*

Perhaps, as compensation for my being abandoned --- I mean, left alone with kids for a weekend every 5 years, I can finagle a copy of his new book, Pow! Right Between The Eyes! After all, he is a newly published author and I can redefine my groupiness; after all, he's joining the world of literati...

So whatcha say, Andy?

(the rest of you guys can find the book and a link here.

Seriously, Andy, I wish you well - and if I do score a copy of the book - will you autograph it for me?