Monday, January 30, 2006

Gramma Fish RIP


It had been a great source of pride in our house that we owned goldfish that were over 2 years old. They were a gift for the big bug's 2nd birthday and, against the advice of the gentleman at the petstore, we kept them in a simple bowl, cleaning it out once a week. They thrived. We did have a bout of "ick", but that cleared up quite nicely with some fish antibiotic. They were happy fish - I think. Especially fond of Papa (who fed them regularly but judiciously) and the big bug. She named them "Eleanor" and "Gramma" and would have tea parties with them, and even play hide-and-seek, when they were willing. (They would always be told to count while she hid.) Sunday morning we awoke to find only one fish left in the bowl. The other had, sadly, jumped for joy one last time, landing on the floor beside the little Parsons table where their bowl was placed. There were tears. And the big bug took her time deciding what fate the dearly departed would take. (We gave her the options of burial vs. flushing.) She decided on flushing (as "fish belong in the water not in the dirt") and that night we held a simple ceremony. And down she went.

The next morning we went out to the petstore again. Big bug was worried Eleanor would be lonely. (Eleanor was always the yang to Gramma's ying.) We found a little orange and white friend whom was immediately named Lucy.

They seem to be getting along well. But Gramma is still missed.

Update January 31,2006
Came home from work today to find little Lucy had passed. The big bug was much more stoic this time. The memorial service was brief and uneventful... Think we will see how Eleanor does on her own for a while...

Update to the update February 1, 2006
Today Eleanor joined Gramma and Lucy. More tears. Thinking maybe Lucy brought with her some sort of virus. Anyway, sad day.

Friday, January 27, 2006

My daughter, the crocodile huntress

crocodile hunting

The big bug (age 4) has taken to drawing crocodiles on our driveway since our return from Australia where she learned they roam. This one, she told me, is entering her net - but she will set it free...

and I have taken to posting photos of cookie cutters at at another Flickr group. This one comes from a set of circus animals passed on by my mother-in-law. You can see more here.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

School Rant

My close friends have already heard this from me. More than once. But here I go again...

I am having such a difficult time organizing my thoughts on the big bug's departure to kindergarten this September. She has her heart set on attending our neighborhood school. I believe her only reason is because it is our neighborhood school. The school she sees whenever we go for a walk. Where the children play that we can hear from our yard. We attended the holiday pageant, and were fortunate to meet the librarian and receive a "complimentary tour" of the library. The big bug was smitten. All those books. And all those smiling faces singing holiday songs. Who wouldn't be?

My dilemma is this: I don't think this school is meeting its potential. (Through no fault of the staff, but rather through lack of funding and lack of community support.) I don't know if it will be able to help her reach her potential. I am unsure if it will even be able to maintain her (right now) seemingly unlimited curiosity (that I love so much).

I, like her, love the concept of the neighborhood school. Walking to school each day. Meeting playmates that live nearby. Pride in community. All those things.

But, unfortunately, as is so common in schools in this city and others, the neighborhood chose some time ago, for a variety of reasons, not to attend this school. To attend private schools. In turn, the school suffered. And in turn, less people in the neighborhood attended it. Besides private schools, favors were called in and children of our neighborhood went on to attend "better" public schools in adjacent neighborhoods. Parents of our neighborhood joined these PTAs and Booster Clubs and supported these schools instead of the one down the street. Somewhere along the line "we" forgot that for the school to be part of our community - we need to be part of the school. I understand why parents make these choices. I understand why one would want their child to go to the best possible place for their education. But why doesn't anyone seem to see that this school down the street could be that place with their support? How do we fix this cycle?

I have thought about "un-schooling". While the concept is incredibly attractive to me, in our current situation it just isn't right for us. And isn't an idea that appeals to our social butterfly of a daughter, who has been lucky enough to attend a fabulous preschool. I have looked at Charter Schools and will submitting an application (it is a lottery process) to one of these. And I have called on someone with a connection to a neighboring school if it comes to that. I so hope it doesn't. I want to make this work. I want to work with the community to make the school on my corner the best it can be. To help make the kids in my neighborhood the best they can be.

I can go on. How has America allowed the failure of what should be its priority - educating our children? (Maybe I find it easy to lay blame as I am Canadian - but my bugs are American.) Why can't our neighborhood school afford to buy a new copy machine? Is the funding from the school district so tight? Music, art, physical education. All these programs have been cut back. Why do we accept the use in public schools of a mediocre reading program to teach our kids to read while ignoring great literature that would "turn them on" to reading? (Here is a teacher who has "turned them on", and in LAUSD even!) How did this happen? Well, we know how. But why did we let it?? I don't want to let it go any further...

Now. Where to start...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday - Personal History #2


This is my dad and I - sitting at the piano at his mother's, my grandmother's, house here. My dad grew up in this small town. On a farm. Met my mom in this small town. At a dance. It was felt at first she was too young to date this wild young man. But time passed. And soon she was "old enough". They married. Raised two kids. Had a lovely life. Cut too short. They had been married 37 years when he died. They had been together more years of their lives than they had been apart.

I love the way Dad is looking at me in this photo. I always felt he was looking over me. Protecting me. I still do. I still can feel the weight of his hand on my shoulder when I need it most.

More Self-Portraits here.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Home again home again

We are back. And all the realities that go with a return have settled in!

We had a wonderful trip. Very emotional at times. We were visiting my nephew, who turned 10 while we were there, and whom I hadn't seen since he was 4. It is hard with that much distance. Especially given that his parents are divorced, and his father (my brother) is in Canada, and he is with his mother in Australia. He is a wonderful wonderful boy and I am so happy that we had some time together. We will not let that much time pass before we are together again.

Now I am home to a one bathroom house, where there used to be two. Papa has taken on the enormous task of redoing the master bath, and took it down to the studs while we were away. Originally he was to have the tub installed before our return but with ordering mishaps the tub is now not due to arrive until the first week of February. Oh how I look forward to long long soaks very soon...

In the meantime, the big bug is quite enjoying the idea of taking a shower, while the little bug goes around unwashed (she does not enjoy the shower concept at all, nor the kitchen sink - sigh) until gracious friends allow us to bathe her in their tub!

It is good to be home!


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Good-bye G'day

The bugs and I are flying off to the land downunder. Will tell of all our adventures in two weeks. Until then...

Roll 173 - 3

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Worth sharing

A dear dear dearest friend left this in the comments. And I just want to make sure it is seen. Definately worth the read.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday - Personal History #1

me and he

This is a portrait of me and my brother. He is almost exactly 18 months my junior - minus 3 days. He is the one who most often has me falling off my chair with peals of laughter. He is generous. Kind. Exceptionally good with people. Adventurous. So much of our dad is in him.

Behind this picture - which I keep on the bookshelf built into our hallway - are books of short-stories by Canadian humourist / CBC regular / author Stuart Mclean. One of my dad's favorites. I think Vinyl Cafe Unplugged was one of the books he was reading when he died. It was in his backpack when my mom, brother and I were sorting through his things. Short days after he died at the hospital. Stuart Mclean can make me laugh almost as hard. I need that.

I was and am the "big sister". I never really realized what this meant until I watched it between my own two children. It is a strong role. Taken very seriously. Cautious. Bossy. But with the best intentions. There is so much to share. I think this photo shows that relationship quite clearly. And I hope that all that is my dad and my brother can be a little part of me and work to soften those strong, serious, bossy edges.

See more Self-Portraits here.