Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bigger than a lake

Today I gave my grade 7 and 8 history students a chapter review test. We had studied the time period ranging from The Middle Ages through The Renaissance, The Reformation, Colonialism and ended with the Industrial Revolution. Much of our study included map work, as one really cannot grasp relative location without it.

As a middle years teacher, I spend much of my time repeating myself. I've taken to making checklists with topic headings and marking each time I mention a topic, just to make sure that I have mentioned everything at least five times.

As I was preparing the test, I thought to put a significant emphasis on mapwork, as it had been so important during the study time. I also remembered to let the students know each day the week before the test that there would be a significant map section on the test, including five times yesterday, the day before the test. The map section would include locating and naming all the continents, several countries covered in the time period, and any body of water larger than a lake within the area of study...bodies of water that end with sea, canal, channel, seaway, ocean, etc.

I wasn't surprised at all today when some of the students, after looking at the first section of the test, the map section, said, "You didn't tell us there would be map questions." I simply smiled and showed them my checklist.

As I sit here and correct the map section, I'm looking at some of these bodies of water and recalling some of the ones I've been to, and wonder if and when I will see some of the others. I think it's time for a holiday.

How many bodies of water larger than a lake have you been to?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Production and Transfer

I did not expect to see this. When I first noticed them, they were still far off in the partially cloudy distance. It took me only a moment to process what they might be. Immediately I recalled the last time I passed by here and wondered at what that Euro style crane was doing standing awkwardly in a Manitoba farmer's field. They couldn't be putting in skyscrapers here could they? Are there that many retiring farmers who need senior's housing?

There were at least fifty spinning steadily in the persistent South Westerly. Fifty giant exclamation marks rising from the warm soil. A farmer in the distance was sowing his crops. I wondered if he protested their presence. I felt as though I was a part of something progressive. Their presence was made beautiful through their purpose. They have a special purpose, just like Steve Martin did when he played The Jerk.

The power to create. To produce something out of nothing. Wind power. Invisible power. Spirit power. You can't see it, but you know it's real because you can see what it does.

Once the power is produced, it needs to be transfered. There is beauty in the mode of transfer, just as there is beauty in the production. The older vessels also stand awkwardly but familiarly on the landscape. They bring comfort to those around of the Spirit's presence, although some would rather that they be put underground to deny it's existence while still enjoying it's benefits.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Leaving Piltdown

Beside me spins the wheel in the hamster cage. "Made in England", during the Industrial Revolution, I assume. As it spins, it brushes against the bed of wood shavings on the bottom, making a rythmic scraping. The hamster seems to know that he is going nowhere, but keeps purposefully running.

The attraction of the feed becomes too strong, and he rejects the wheel, leaving it for the upper level where the cash is stored. Nibble, nibble - some food for thought. Back to the race...I'm sure I can win this time.

Could someone tell me where the door is?

Monday, May 08, 2006

I closed my eyes...

...drew back the curtain

To see for certain, what I thought I knew.

Far, far away, someone was weeping,

But the world was sleeping.

Any dream will do.

When I was a child, we did not have a television for much of the time. All of my friends had at least one in their home. I always wished that my parents would just give in to all the pressure we were putting on them, but they never did - until...

One day, when I was a little older, perhaps 11 or 12, my brother Randy was going to an auction sale. I had saved up some money and wanted to go with him to see if my $30.00 would get me anything. He willingly took me. We arrived early to have a look around before the bidding began.

I remember walking past it first off all, and not giving it a second thought, when it struck $30.00 just might get me this. It was a 12 inch black and white portable T.V., brand new in the box. I couldn't think of anything else from there on. I had to have it...but what if the bidding goes higher than what I had? Let's just hope it doesn't.

After what seemed all night, my item came up. The air in that room was thick with dust from shuffling feet on the dirty concrete floor. I was sick with tension. I felt like a tightly wound wind up toy ready to release. The bidding began. I raised my number a number of times and nodded like I'd seen some of the old guys do, not smiling now...this is not a friendly game. Bloody serious. We were at 22, then 24, then 28. I shot a panic glance at Randy and he knew my thoughts. Somehow we came to the agreement that he would lend me the money if I needed to go higher. And higher it went...all the way to $50. But it was mine...all mine, new in the box with the twisty thing still holding the power cord newly coiled from the factory.

The memory of bringing it home and into the house is a little vague, but what I do remember is that we didn't plug it in that day because dad said it was cold and it would have to warm up over night. Electronics are fussy that way.

I'm also not certain how we came to this conclusion but my parents didn't think that it would be right for me to have my own T.V. when it was the only one in the house. So they bought it from me. Well actually they gave me my $30 back and gave Randy his 20. And seeing as it was sort of MY T.V., I got to have it in my room. Or rather in our room, as I shared a room with Garry and Randy.

The television soon became an instrument to draw the family together. I remember well our family all crowding into my bedroom to watch one of our favourite T.V programs...The Donny and Marie Show. I don't know if anyone in the family knew it, but I loved that show. I loved it so much that I would cry silently whenever it was over. The smiling pair would sing their closing song and I would be a blubbering mess. Most kids I knew wanted to run away and join the circus, but I wanted to join the Donny and Marie show. I always wondered if they were Christians, which was something we would ask of all television stars. Finding this out would be our justification for watching any program. They had to could you look so happy and not be a believer?!

Now that I am older and much more seasoned, I found myself still crying with the Osmonds. Or at least with one of them. Every time I watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat with Donny Osmond, I cry during the song Any Dream Will Do. I really don't know what it is, but it's a very real feeling of longing.

I feel that this is somewhat of a coming out of the closet moment for me. Most people wouldn't want to admit they liked the show. I guess I should also tell you I loved The Lawrence Welk Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Sonny and Cher, and the Irish Rovers. It must have been all that happy happy love joy stuff that drew me in.

What do you see when you close your eyes?

(the above photo was taken today at Arianna's soccer game, eyes closed, with camera pointed at random...lucky shot...and no cropping either)

Monday, May 01, 2006

How does your garden grow?

I noticed my Pembina Plum blossoms yesterday...

...and my sugar plum noticed me.