Monday, February 2, 2015


Well it is over a month since I wrote on this blog.  Now I have been posting regularly in My Beautiful Vancouver blog but somehow this one has been neglected.  But if you would like to take some neat walks around my city please visit that blog!
There have been a few starts here but they haven't gone anywhere!  Unfortunately when I have these great thoughts I am usually not near my computer.
I thought of writing more about retirement and started a post on that subject but it  hasn't really gone anywhere.
The bottom line is I am still enjoying it.  I love the freedom.  I especially love my morning walks.  I have to admit I prefer them when the weather is better but when the weather is not I kind of get the territory to myself.  And there is beauty in all types of weather.
I still enjoy volunteering as well.  For one thing it reminds me of why I am happily retired.  I love to work with the kids but I don't miss the relentless pace!  I like how those two mornings gives a structure to my week.  I like how it helps to give me purpose.  I like being with my old staff.
This month I began another project-working with my next neighbour's son who is in first grade and amazing but struggling with reading.  And I have to say this is challenging me as well.  I don't think anyone ever truly becomes an expert at teaching, especially in the initial stages of teaching children to read.  It is humbling.
After fourteen years of teaching special education I moved to a west side school in a wealthy neighbourhood and became a learning assistance teacher.  My job was to teach kids who were struggling in the regular class.  In many ways I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  For one thing for the first time I had parents who generally more concerned with their child's education than I was.  In many cases the parents I had had were more concerned with mere survival.  Thinking too much about their child's education was a luxury.
My new students were well taken care of, they had parents who were well off and well educated.  My students had parents who read to them and they had lots of experiences but I still had children with difficulty learning to read.  Now I am happy to say they all learned to read and when I hear about them now I find out they are doctors, lawyers, engineers, and all very successful.
And I have no doubt that my current student will be every successful as well.  But it isn't easy when you have difficulty learning to read and others find it much easier.
My goal as a teacher was to have students who learned to love reading and writing but again I have had my challenges but generally as a classroom teacher I was generally able to find the hook to make this happen.
In all types of learning we tend to enjoy what comes more easily.  I read something recently that said teachers need to make students enjoy the challenge, the struggle.
Well when my knitting went totally wrong and I must have started over countless times, I can't say I was enjoying the struggle.  In fact I finally just quit for awhile.  And then I decided that I would sign up for another knitting class.  I needed support!  I also wanted to become more independent and not just run to a friend to fix what I had done wrong.  And I am knitting again but I am still making mistakes and  not totally confident yet about fixing them myself.  But I know where to go when I need help!  I have support systems.
Long ago a journalist turned educator, Frank Smith, wrote a book called Joining the Literacy Club.  He talked about how if you want to learn to sail you might join a sailing club, etc.  And he talked about how teachers need to create literacy clubs.  You need to create community.
As a teacher, I would often tell my students that one teacher wasn't enough so that they had to be teachers as well.  In some areas they had better skills than I did.  I coached basketball but my basketball skills are practically nil, but I never had difficulty finding other students who had the skills and were willing to help.
At the moment, the six year next door is teaching me about MineCraft.  He draws intricate pictures and explains as he goes and I try to sneak a little reading and writing into the mix.
With the use of iPhone and iPad apps, I am currently trying to learn some Portuguese to prepare for my trip to Brazil.  I am trying to embrace the struggle!  It is a good thing these apps have positive reinforcement built into the mix.  It is also fortunate that I took a couple of Spanish courses before I hit Portuguese.
Thinking back to that essay I started to write about retirement.  I really think that being retired should mean the opportunity to keep learning...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking back at 2014

A new year is just about here!  And so I get to think back to 2014.  And I have absolutely no complaints.  It was a great year…I almost don't have anything more to say… I loved being in Vancouver and I loved the trips I took-Florida, a Caribbean cruise, New Orleans, Christina Lake, Quebec, Ontario, Vancouver Island, Whistler, Seattle.  I got to see so much beauty, took so many wonderful walks,had good  times with wonderful friends.  I still loved living in my house and in my neighbourhood.

 Of course it is not always smooth sailing.  I have a garage still falling down, I broke my wrist, I got exasperated with the government during the teachers' strike, but in the end I just feel very lucky.  I loved teaching but I love the freedom of being retired.  And I still get to go hang out at school volunteering two mornings a week, mainly with those cute first graders.

And I have taken thousand of pictures…Because the world just is one beautiful place!  In all seasons!

So I have been reading others' great resolutions, goals for 2015 and I certainly can think of a few, but I just have these feelings of gratitude tonight.  And I look forward to new adventures in 2015.  I am quite excited that I will be going to a new continent, South America, this year.  Two left-Africa and Antarctica… So my word for 2015 is just to be open, open to possibilities, ideas, opportunities, adventures, to understanding.  

And wishing all of you the best 2015 possible!

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Christmas Playlist that just might come in handy...

A friend sent me a Christmas Playlist and I know Christmas is over for this year but you never know when you may need a playlist!!!  Literacy takes all forms here!

I thought it was really fun so here it is with his permission.  I have decided that it is still the holiday season so here you go and thanks for sending this, Michael C.  I just put in the hyper links as my contribution!  

I first met Michael in 1973 when we worked at a summer camp and he had just returned from a Rolling Stones concert so some things really don't change.  I personally might have other favourites such as Robert Downey singing Joni Mitchell's River but you are spared!   I could't resist a few comments in brackets but from now on the words are his! 

"Hi there, I just did this list because I was looking at the 2000 miles video and it led me on a search for a few others.I like 1,2,3 and 5 the best. I didn't include Band-aid which I really like because it annoys some people due to its being overplayed over the years.I would like to avoid annoying people wherever possible.There is no Mariah Carey or similar artists because it is my list and she is very high on my annoying list. No.s  11 and 12 don't have anything to do with Christmas but represent an opportunity to break away from the Christmas theme and cleanse one's soul through other means,like though fun.
   I didn't include Monty Python Christmas in Heaven which is rather funny and I like their Finland is the Country for Me which is even funnier but it has nothing to do with Christmas.( and 12 is a nice round number even if it is 11 plus a place holder).To be  completely honest I can't watch the Sting ones all the way though unless I was doing something else at the same time while I can watch my favorites over and over with no need for distraction.I have a CD with Sting and the Chieftains which kind of fits the overall theme and is very atmospheric but I couldn't find a YouTube clip except for Sister's of Mercy.
  There I have used atmospheric and haunting in the same email, I can tick that box off. There is a Kinks' Christmas song which is ok ,Father Christmas , but I left it out in deference to Chrissie Hynde and her opinion of Ray Davies. 

1.Christie Hynde : 2000 Miles , very pretty song and nice arrangement. Coldplay and others do a version. Her repetitive little riff is very catchy and her quirky voice fits so well.

Here is the original version, more electrified , with a goofy and dated video

2. Fairy Tale of New York, note the  Matt Dillon cameo.He like to play cops ,it would seem.Don't look at Shane McGowan's teeth.Beneath that drug and alcohol addled exterior there is or at least was a genius..this is the original version with the late Kirsty MacColl.

3.Dido. I really like her voice..haunting...the song is ..Christmas Day has a bit of Game of Thrones feel to it,horses Knights and fog,in the overall impression of it ,if not the words

3.Bruce S live ...Santa Claus is coming to town...he is such a good guy and a good sport how could anyone not like it.

4.Keith R "Keef" Run Run Rudolph. Keith doing a Xmas song seems odd but in his other life he is a regular guy, walks the dog and writes children's books ,therefore  he must enjoy Christmas...the song is a tribute to Chuck Berry in any event.Hail Hail Rock and Roll...good movie.

5.Emerson Lake and Palmer.  I believe in Father Christmas.Nice pipes from Greg Lake. I think that is him...actually it might be the solo version without E and P..I didn't see any drummer in the cliffs...I Believe in Father Xmas...They don't get much Air play these days but they were pretty good in their day...

6.  Queen...Thank god it's Christmas, I miss Freddie Mercury's voice.So over the top but so much fun.

7.John Lennon, Now this is Xmas. jangly edgy John with the Plastic Ono Band.

8.Enya …We wish you a Merry Christmas.  gothic gaelic swell music( as in swelling ,building up to a crest as opposed to the jocular " it is swell music").Seriously I used to listen to my one Enya CD a lot but not so much lately...Orinoco Flow anybody?

9. I looked for a Moody Blues  Xmas song but it seemed to be blocked. So this is a placeholder...their music seems to fit with the seasonal mood....Ride my see saw while on an sleigh in the snow? Never Comes the(Xmas) Day...(holiday) Nights in White Satin

(Now I am going to interject-I found this one which I kind of liked A Winter's Tale-I personally used to love the Moody Blues and went to a very nice outdoor concert here.  I did find links for the others but they might have been ones Michael would have picked-oh well..).

10. Sting with his wintry disposition deserves honourable mention...he is a bit pretentious but he is a serious musician and goes some places that other musicians would never go and that tantric stuff as well....he has my respect if not my patient listening. Soul Cake.

More Sting with talking explanation of his winter themed cd, Deutsch Grammophon already.  If on a winter's night.

11. Romantics , What I Like About You...old school one hit wonder.It has legs and what about those outfits and hair, makes you want to jump about.  (me again, I had forgotten about this one…)

12. AC DC Highway to Hell at River Plate ...what better way to blow away all that seasonal introspection and melancholy than watching Angus and Malcolm  in front of vast numbers of crazed South American fans singing along...kind of hypnotic, actually not kind of ,very very hypnotic, I might even wear those horns if I see them live. (let's hope he doesn't but kind of cheery I have to admit)