Sunday 31 January 2021

Procrastination Post - a Collection of Funnies

 My grandmother called the comic section of the newspaper, the "funnies". Can anyone relate?

I am currently (well, not currently, because I'm currently typing this) working on my very last set of report cards ever on a new report card programme about a new math curriculum deciding if I should be including the new online learning from this past month. Fun and games. 

Which is, of course, why I just spent the last twenty minutes or so clicking around Pinterest. 

Now I shall share the funnies I found. The references may or may not get lost on you depending on if you are anywhere close to my generation, or if you watched the same stuff I did. (And depending on if you actually find it funny or not). Here goes:

I cannot believe the month of January is pretty much done. I spent most of it in a chair in my living room attached to my laptop. I think the fitbit that my kids bought me for Christmas thought I was dead. Well, onward to groundhog day and valentine's day and family day, all probably virtual. With the Covid weight I've applied to my body, I'm probably best without Valentine day chocolates anyway. 

Have a good week, all!

Sunday 24 January 2021

Perfect Gift Ideas for Any Animal Lover in your Life

 Being stuck in your house (sheltering at home) means it is harder to see your loved ones, get out and buy gifts, and it also means that your pets become your best buds (even more so than they already were). 

This past Christmas, I gave two incredible gifts to the long time boyfriend / girlfriend of our two children. I am kicking myself for not having taken pictures, but I asked my talented sister, Jade, to paint the portraits of Tiger (a cat, obviously, not an actual Tiger because we all know how that ends up!), Maeve (a cat) and Tanner (a dog). The recipients were thrilled with the paintings and I am told they now take up special places of honour in their homes. 

My sister didn't just paint them for fun, it is her actual business and she's great at it. You can check out her website here and see for yourself! 

I've shown you her work before, but it bears repeating. These are our cats, past and present.

This one is Scooter (the cat-with-no-tail).

He is "unique", or "challenged" as we like to say. Won't use kitty litter, sleeps on smooth surfaces only, meows like a three pack a day smoker, and has only recently decided that it is o.k. to jump up on your lap for brief moments. But we love him for all of his oddities. This is the actual Scooter wearing his Christmas ruff (which incidentally, my sister sews herself and sells on her website).

You can see how she captured his wide-eyed innocence and quirky nature in the painting.

This is our beloved Samson.

He was one in a million as brown tabbies often are. He was the calm intelligence in the cat family. A handsome, perfectly symmetrical boy, he looked to Scooter as a project he couldn't train. Sammy was cool. Just cool. He was the Steve McQueen of cats. We lost him a year ago in November. We still miss him.

The three cats in the middle collection are cats who have also passed on. 

From left to right, Kitty, Nelly, and Boots. Yes, I know the names are on the paintings as well, and I like that she does that. Kitty was my first cat as an adult living on my own, in my first year of teaching. I wasn't married yet and husband was away at school in another country! She and I were each others' company. Every day when I came home from work and opened the door of my undesirable two story walk up apartment, she would greet me with all of her cat toys laid out on the floor. She lived to the ripe old age of seventeen and was a beloved member of our family. 

Next was Nelly, small in stature, big in personality. She was a "talker", entering a room meowing and answering all of your questions. Her biggest joy was a sick human, so she could curl up on your blanket and not leave your side for hours on end. She had an enormous purr. She lived to be nineteen years. 

Boots was our second cat, the first one purchased by both husband and I in our first year of marriage. He was more dog than cat. I have no idea if he actually was a Maine Coon cat, but he fit all the descriptions. He fetched toys, came when you called, had enormous paws, and I'm pretty sure was able to say "Mama" when we encouraged him. He died early from kidney problems. He and Kitty were best friends.

I really cherish these paintings because they are grouped together and when I look at them, I think back fondly to family memories because of course, our pets are part of our family. 

Mother's Day is coming up (for us, in early May), birthdays, or just a "thinking of you" present to those elderly parents who are sheltering at home and have had special pets in their past. I can't think of a more unique, special gift to give. My sister can do it all from a photograph emailed to her. She gives all the instructions on her site. For the horsey set in your world (and come on, they LOVE their horses), she also does paintings of horses, dogs, even a gecko! 

Check her out at Abstract Pet or maybe suggest her to someone else. Thanks for letting me shamelessly promote my only sister. (I have brothers, too, but they don't paint pets -haha!)

Saturday 23 January 2021

Saturday, January 23, 2021

 I wrote a little while ago that we had been having a relatively mild winter... thus far. 

This happened in less than 24 hours.

I used my plastic shovel to scrape some snow from the side and back windows of my vehicle. I had taken it out yesterday and it had been parked under the car port and had no snow on it. 

It is pretty, though. It's like meringue on a pie. A very cold pie. The sun is shining this morning, so that makes it more bearable. 

The sky is a brilliant blue and many times in the forecast it says there will be two hours of sun,or one, or zero per day, so I'll take it.

To continue about my teaching situation, seven regions in Ontario are allowed to return back to school as of Monday due to relatively low counts. We are one of those regions. This is a huge relief to parents who have been under a lot of strain trying to figure out work and child care, as well as becoming their child's teacher. It is difficult to straddle those two roles. I am happy to be going back into the school as well. 

Tuesday 19 January 2021

Old Dog, Another New Trick

With all of this online teaching, I've had to learn a few things - trial by fire. What actually helped me a lot was already having this blog. Downloading, uploading, urls, sourcing... combined with years of word processing and report card programmes meant I had a decent chance of figuring things out.

However, there has been one thing I really wanted to learn and that was how to create tabs across the top of my blog so I could have other pages. As you know, there really is a video for everything. I typed in a search in Pinterest and found a video that took me through things. It wasn't the new Blogger they were referencing, but I could figure it out anyway. 

So now I have a tab where you can click to see what books I have read in 2021. If you click on it, it will take you to another page where... I have listed one book haha! I've been busy, but I really want to keep track of what I am reading this year. I figure this will be mostly for me (so I don't keep signing the same books out of the library), but others may find it interesting. I have taken other bloggers' suggestions for books in the past. 

If you want to do this, you can watch this if you like. 

Oh, and for what it's worth, I collected three eggs yesterday. You go, girls!!

Saturday 16 January 2021

Saturday, January 16, 2021

 I thought I should probably put together a blog post, as it has been a while, and what is the point of having a blog if you don't write?

Life is ridiculously different, and for me, busy now that we are in Ontario's second big lockdown since Covid took hold of the world. Of course, children do not attend school at this time. That means that I am once again ensconced in my living room, piles of books and papers spread around me, a white board propped up on a side chair, a stool with two thick hard cover books set in front of it so I can prop up my laptop while I make videos explaining the day's assignments, showing examples, or doing the specialized lessons for a couple of my students who require something different.

 I field emails from parents, read emails from my principal and colleagues, and soon I need to be starting to write report cards. I deal with technology issues, and learn things as I go along. I do live Teams meetings with my students (like Zoom), and am available for them to "drop in" whenever they need help. They are generally eight years old and still need some help from their parents to deal with learning on the computer, but some are quite skilled. I feel the need to be available at all times, and once, when I desperately had to visit the bathroom, I was not surprised to find a student waiting for me on Teams, probably wondering why I wasn't there.

We are back to being a family of all four of us under one roof again, as son's co-op experience for college has to be put on hold for the time being (businesses are not taking co-op students right now). He is able to take one elective college course online. Daughter is now working full time (from home) and is completely done university. There is no grad. She's had to put grad photos on hold twice now, I think. They will not be happening at all in the foreseeable future. I don't mind that our 24 and 21 year old are living here right now. It brings out the mother hen in me, with my chicks close by. But I know their independence is important and they are both very capable young adults with definite directions. This is just a bump in the road for them.

I went out for groceries today and felt flustered by the end of it all. Everyone is out on a Saturday, I'm just trying to go the right way down the aisles and my patience wears thin as people are blocking the way with their carts, thinking long and hard about their food choices. I'm probably doing the same thing in the cereal aisle. None of this has to do with feeling unsafe, it's just my dislike of maneuvering around people and obstacles, and there seemed to be an extraordinary amount of obstacles today. But I got done, spent far too much money (and I was shopping at the cheaper grocery store!), came back home and unloaded everything and put it away. I gave the chickens fresh water and even let them outside. The sun was out at times today and the temperature was milder (a whole 1 or 2 degrees!). The snow was melting. 

I had ordered some library books online and was able to do a drive-by pick up at the library (it felt a bit like a drug deal as I drove up to the library, a young person in a mask came out with a paper bag, held it up so I could see my last name on it, I nodded, put my window down, and the bag was brought to my vehicle). That's probably not what drug deals are like, but it felt weird and sneaky in a way. The book was the new Ann Cleeves Vera book The Darkest Evening and I'm part way into it now. It has been a while since I've enjoyed a book, although I did read the latest Louise Penny, All the Devils are Here. I absolutely loved it, but Penny has never disappointed me. 

And because some of you seemed happy to read about my chickens the last time, I want you to know that today I got TWO eggs! Not just the usual one. I think I have one of the white Columbian hens to thank for the extra one. Here is a typical morning picture, when I walk from the back door of the mudroom, out to the chicken coop.

That is a bit more snow than we have now. This picture was taken several days ago.

There are so many rabbit tracks on our property! Sometimes I see rabbits in the early morning and they run away to take cover by the a pile of stacked cedar rails, or along the fence line. 

These are some of my chickens, who jumped down from their perches as I fed them in the morning. They are excited about a couple of too-old pieces of pineapple. They now have layer crumble instead of layer mash. 

And that's my life right now in rural Ontario. 

Saturday 9 January 2021

The Day -to- Day

 It is currently 1 degree out, "feels like" -1 degree. I don't know if other parts of the world get a "feels like" add on to their weather forecast. In the winter we have wind chill. That means it might be -10 degrees (this is all celsius) but it might "feel like"  -20 degrees. That basically tells you that you need to cover parts of your face for fear of frostbite if you are out too long. In the summer we have the humidex. Does anyone else have humidex readings? That means it might actually be 28 degrees, but with the humidex it "feels like" 33 degrees. That basically tells you that you are going to have to forget about straightening your hair and you're going to sweat through your bra in a half an hour. 

Regardless, it's not too bad out. I just got back from the Co-op where I did my drive by / pick up of a bag of layer crumble and a bale of course shavings. Right before our last lockdown (Dec. 26th) I bought a bag of layer mash because they didn't have any layer crumble. It's a huge waste of money. The chickens don't like it and they just pick out the bits that they do tolerate. Now they are happy as chickens can be, pecking away at their crumble and scratching around in a new bed of shavings. I have eight hens. I get one egg a day. They are well past molting and they are warm and dry and nobody's sick. They aren't brand new, nor are they too old. I go out in the morning and turn on their lightbulb. They have a large coop that they can walk around in, roost in, drink from their heated water bucket in... in essence, live the best life a chicken in Canada can live. They are a bunch of free loaders. But I won't eat them, and I won't give them away, because I still have hope. I hope that in the spring, when the days are longer and they can go out in their chicken run and scratch around in the overabundance of leaves that I dumped there in the fall, that I will be surprised by eggs in their nesting boxes once again. One can hope.

Thursday 7 January 2021

Take Two

 I just found out, in the last hour couple of hours that I won't be going back to the classroom on Monday, as we all believed, as parents believed, as my students believed.  I am now slated for two more weeks of teaching from my living room - again.

I just deleted a four paragraph long post. It wouldn't have gone over well. 

The basic message was not all regions are the same in this province and we should not all be lumped together. There is more harm happening out there beyond the bloody virus.