Thursday 26 May 2022

Taking an Idea from Diana - Answering some Questions just in case There are Enquiring Minds!

I see that Nana Diana is taking a well-deserved summer break. In her second last blog post, she did a fun activity, answering some questions about herself and invited others to do the same. So I shall give it a go. 

 1.  Where do you like to vacation? 

My favourite places (and I haven't been to a lot of different places in the world) have been Prince Edward Island, here in Canada, and the Cotswolds area of England. Both are beyond quaint and beautiful in their own ways. 

2.  Do you have pets?
Yes, we currently have two cats: Scooter-the-cat-with-no-tail who is a black and white long haired cat, and Murphy the crazy decision during yet another Covid lockdown in Canada kitten/ now cat who is a tabby with white feet. We have never had a dog because we knew it wouldn't be fair to have it be on its own so much when we were at work. Both son and daughter have had a fish or two when they were little (Goldie and Army, I seem to recall).

3.  What is your favorite color?
See now, this one is pretty much impossible because it isn't about individual colour, it's about combinations of colours. For example, the iridescent combination of red and green in a stem of rhubarb is without comparison. Gold and green or gold and deep red makes me heart swoon at Christmas time. Spring green and pink makes me want to have poofy upholstered furniture in a feminine bedroom setting. The list goes on and on...

4.  How many are in your family?
In our own family, we have my husband and I, our daughter and our son who are now 26 and 22. In my own family growing up, there was my father, mother, two older brothers and an older sister. 

5.  What is your least favorite thing to do?
Mmmm, again, how to narrow this down? Waiting at an airport, shopping for presents (I'm terrible at it!), having to drive in a city with crazy traffic and not knowing where I'm going, dusting the house, dealing with confrontation...

6.  What is your most favorite thing to do?
Gardening without back ache, being around furry animals or seeing interesting birds at the bird feeder, having solitude in the house to read, watch what I want, eat what I want..., seeing beautiful sights, beautiful nature... I'm pretty low maintenance and a home body.

7.  If money were no object what would you like to do when you retire?
I have a hard time imagining a life in which money was no object, honestly. I suppose I would want to have enough things to do or see to keep me occupied. I'm not good with down  time. I would mostly love to have a life where my children can visit and be comfortable and happy, or be able to take wonderful  hassle-free trips to beautiful places and take family with me.

8.   What is your favorite season?
I always said it was Fall because I loved the "feel" in the air and the colours. But I'm thinking summer is now a close second.

9.   What book are you currently reading?
Believe it or not, I'm not currently reading anything! My library card ran out at the library in a town close by and I'm just ticked off enough about having to pay for a library card (it should be free according to the township I live in) that I decided not to renew. There is another library system I can go to in a different town, but I just haven't made the time to go investigate yet. If I was reading, it would likely be a murder mystery, probably set in England.

10. What time do you go to bed, get up in the morning?
If I am scheduled to teach at a school, I get up somewhere in the vacinity of 6:20 in the morning. If I'm not teaching, I sleep until I feel like getting up, but I don't like when I sleep in too late. It feels like wasting the day. I go to bed by 11:00 but often stay up reading or watching things on the computer. 

11. How long have you been blogging?
I had to go view my blog to get the answer for this one, but apparently I've been blogging since 2014 which feels like last week for me, but is in fact now about eight years! Holy cow! When did that happen??

At the end of Diana's Q and A, she included fun facts about herself. I don't think I have any fun facts, but I'll try for a few.

- I drove "half way across" Canada in a tiny three cylinder car to attend teacher's college by myself.
-I like brussel sprouts and hate salmon.
-I am extremely scent sensitive and no longer wear perfume or have anything scented in my house and have been known to breath through my hair as a filter when having to be close to students whose clothing smelled of strong fabric softener.
-My super power was being able to find things. I think it has faded a bit these last few years. I wish my super power was being able to teleport to anywhere.
-I would love to have a little hobby farm (oh, maybe that's what I should have said about the retirement / money no object question).
-I was morbidly embarrassed by my parents growing up and just wanted "normal" fun parents like other people's.
-I can't drive a standard (stick shift).
-The rules surrounding spelling, grammar, and punctuation are not too difficult for me and seeing errors in news articles drives me nuts.
-I'm often afraid of dogs I don't know.
-I love Dairy Queen Smarties Blizzards!

Saturday 21 May 2022

Oh To Be Five Again - The Best of Both Worlds in Kindergarten

 When I accept occasional teaching jobs (substitute teaching), I often choose kindergarten classes. Here in Ontario, if it is a JK/SK (junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten in one class), there is an ECE person (early childhood education) who is basically like a second teacher, who knows the routine and is a great partner to work with in a class you are not familiar with. There are also SK / 1 classes (senior kindergarten and grade one in one class), but they don't qualify for an ECE. 

One class that I go to fairly often is at my previous school and it is a JK / SK class. Often it is only for a half day (a teacher may have an appointment, for example and only requires part of a day off). I am familiar with the students in that room and I have experienced it when I was masked and they had to sit in separate desks and play individually, rather than together (a wholly unnatural thing for little ones), to how it is now, where they can be seated in little groups and can interact with each other. 

Students in JK must be four years old by the end of December of their school year (which means some are only three years old when they begin in September), so at this time of the year the students in that class would be four, or five, or even six, depending on when their birthdays are. 

When I say that this class is the best of both worlds, they have traditional in class learning combined with "play" where they learn those all important social skills and fine motor skills, but they also have a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in nature for part of every day. 

 The school used to be a high school, then morphed into an elementary school. It is located in a small town, but in a very rural setting. In fact, the high school had a wonderful programme where grade 11 or 12 students could learn about agriculture combined with science. There is a small barn (which would have animals like cattle, pigs, chickens, and rabbits starting in the spring), a greenhouse, and a garden, and a small "forest" where they tapped maple trees and made syrup. In addition to the "maple forest", there is also a mixed small woodlot that can be accessed via a gate from the main playground. The kindergarten classes, as well as the grade one class, use both of these wooded areas. Wonderful rough trails have been created, bird feeders are hung, logs are strategically placed, picnic tables have been set in clearings, water runs through in a small stream, and it is a most wonderful programme. The parents are requested to provide good outdoor clothing and rubber boots for their children, as they go out to the "forest" in all kinds of weather. In the winter time, they have even managed to get to the point where students hold very still and quiet with bird feed in their hands and chickadees land to feed on their hands!

I had the chance to be with this class for the afternoon, just the other day and we spent some time in the maple "forest". The students are good bunch, who know the rules, know where they can and cannot go (for example, beyond the trees to a parking area), and play and create and use their imaginations freely. They take basic toys with them like plastic rakes, big tin cans, some little toy vehicles, etc., things that won't be damaged by water or dirt or snow. They mix up pretend soup in their cans using wood chips, water from the stream and a stick for stirring. They play tag in amongst the trees. They play the regular imaginary games that all children play, but in a wonderful setting. There are paths laid with wood chips, logs and boards to sit on, slopes to climb up and down. 

I took some pictures to give you an idea of what it looks like. It was a little tough making sure none of the students were captured in the shots.

I know that I would have loved something like this when I was that age. I spent a lot of time outside anyway, sitting in a willow tree, watching animals, collecting chestnuts, or just playing. I think absolutely every child would benefit from an outdoor classroom, but I know it's simply not possible everywhere. When I attended it was only one year of kindergarten, no junior and senior business. My older sister, who is five years older than me didn't even have the option of kindergarten. School began at grade one. What was your kindergarten like, if indeed you even had kindergarten?

Monday 16 May 2022

Catching Up - Mon. May 16

 Things have been quite busy lately. I did a lot of supply (substitute) teaching these past couple of weeks - all good experiences. The rip-apart-the-house-and-live-once-again-in-a-state-of-chaos insulation project continues. 

When I retired last year, my co-workers gave me a much appreciated gift certificate to a local green house / garden centre. I decided on Mother's Day to go with my two offspring and purchase two fruit trees. I bought a pear tree and an apple tree. They are both a decent size and already budding out into little leaves. Son helped me plant both of them this weekend. One hole with "easy" to dig (that was for the pear), and the other hole with not so fun. The ground was very hard and dry, so we put the hose to it and let it soak for a while so it would be easier to dig out. Son encountered many stones (anywhere from bigger than your head to bigger than your fist). I put lots of lovely compost in the hole and the apple tree got planted. It isn't staked yet, but we will do that later today, hopefully. Both trees have had a steady rain falling on them since last night.

I had cleaned out the chicken coop and spread the contents over my vegetable garden. I rototilled in two different directions, pulled out the loosened weeds, then sprinkled granular fertilizer over the whole lot and raked that in. I want a productive garden this summer. The price of groceries is ridiculous.

On Friday, I drove to a city about 2 1/2 hours away, same one where my siblings all live now, and attended a funeral for a cousin of mine. All my cousins are older than me. She was ill with cancer and made the decision to have an assisted death when the time was right for her. I was able to see three of her four siblings, cousins I haven't seen in about three years or more (we don't regularly get together). Everyone has aged tremendously and are in various states of turmoil in their lives. I came away from the day feeling very normal. 

Husband is in the process of just starting the proceedings of "opening up the pool" in addition to continuing the insulation project. We will be cleaning out our old yucky basement (our house is about 120 years old so perhaps you can imagine) this week so that those proceedings (part of the insulation project) can also begin. 

This week I will be taking our Scooter cat to a pet place to get him "groomed". If Joanne is reading this, she may be able to relate. Scooter is a long-haired cat and this year, for some reason, he has become incredibly matted about his hind quarters. He's never been like this before. He's a skittish, squirmy fellow and I hope / pray that the lady is able to perform the task of an over all trim and then a severe buzzing down to the skin on his matted areas. He is going to look atrocious but at least the weather is warm now, so I don't have to worry about him being too cold without all his long fur. If I can take a picture, I'll post is later. Poor guy.

Murphy continues to be himself, hanging out with the hens (I think they have deemed him an honorary chicken), leaning against things, and lord help me, bringing a small snake into the house which I had to transport outside, as I was the only one home at the time. 

The rain is falling outside still this morning, giving me and my back a reprieve from gardening and yard tasks for now. I hope you all have a contented week this week. It is the "long weekend" in May here in Canada coming up (also known as the Victoria Day weekend, and for some of a certain age, the "May Two-Four Weekend). We will be having a giant outdoor / car port sale of husband's various British car parts. He has decided that he is done with that side hustle and has advertised the sale for a couple of weeks now. I hope many people show up and take as many things away with them as possible!