Saturday, November 22, 2014

My newest developments :)

 Since my last post here, at Mullin Avenue, I've been more busy than usual. I started working with a new group at the daycare center where I work.
I took this photo on Photo Booth, which since I don't have a cell phone is sort of like my version of a "selfie".  :)

Thanksgiving weekend, which in Canada falls in October, my son Paul helped me set up the new room I would be working in. We washed all the walls, moved heavy furniture, added some special touches, and it began to feel like my space.

Since then I've made more changes. I had to remove the fabric swag, as it continued to fall down. My sweet and kindly coworker would arrive in the early morning find the scarf on the floor. It just wasn't meant to be, no matter how well I tried to refasten it. :)


I joined Facebook, finally, at the suggestion of my son. He thought I might feel more in touch with family through this medium.  I am enjoying it more than I expected. I had been worried I'd spend too much time on the computer, and that I would feel somehow over exposed. But after the first week or so, of exploring, I'm not on much more than before I joined FB.

It is really special to reconnect with my cousins, and see my other family members news more often.

However, blogging is special, because it's possible to tell one's story, in more length and detail
So, I want to get back to blogging and reading my favourite blogs again.

The latest new developments for Artie are that he has shed his lovely silver mane, again this fall, and that he now has a new friend, in Jason, my renter. Good work Arthur.
Herbert has done a lovely job in capturing the heart of my renter, Jason. He is an excellent ambassador for the feline community.
I've had two developments since writing back in July. One is I have found a renter for the spare room in my apartment. Back in the 2nd week of September, a young guy sent me an email requesting if the room I had was still available. By this time I had given up on finding someone, but due to his circumstances he needed a place right away. So, he actually moved in the day he called me, and things are working out very well. He's a young engineering student, from Calgary, and is an excellent renter.

Herbert and Arthur have been goodwill ambassadors the past few months for the world of cats. My renter, Jason had concerns about living in a household of cats. In his culture pets are not acceptable really, and especially in his family. His mom cautioned him about this. As well, Jason was worried about cat hair on his jeans. He decided to move in despite the cats, after looking at several rental opportunities, and then told his mother there was only 1 cat. (?) :)
After the first day, I returned home from work, wondering how events transpired, and Jason had already befriended the cats, and had been especially been enjoying playing with Arthur with his toy mice.

Jason now says, that when he moves he would be willing to adopt Arthur  :)


The second development is that I've made an appointment to see the writer-in-residence at our public library, to discuss my progress with my childrens' picture book about Bessie. I felt this would motivate me to move ahead in some way, and this writer, Arthur Slade seems nice and personable. As well, he has written a series of successful books for young adults.

Well, this is about it for my most recent developments her at Mullin Avenue. 

As well I want to wish my American friends, a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Love from,
Brenda, Herb and Art











Sunday, July 27, 2014

This is one of Arthur's favourite ways to hang out.
It's been too long since I've been here, but writing here is just what I need, this evening.

It's hard to believe that our summer in Regina, is drawing to an end, and fall weather is really not far away.

We have had some warm days, but for the balance of July the weather has been cool and rainy.

I am good with the cooler weather, it allows Herb and Art to be comfortable while I am at work all day, in our top floor apartment, minus air conditioning.

As well, the children at the daycare center where I work, have been able to enjoy spending their days outside, as children should in the summer. We do have a weather policy, and cannot take the children outdoors when the temp is at 30 C and over.

 We are blessed with one of the best daycare yards in the city, with a small hill, green spaces, and little corners for small groups. We also have a wonderful park and hill right next door. I was fortunate to observe the creation of this yard back in 1989, by our amazing director of the time.

One of the favourite activities this summer is washing the wood play structures and deck with water using scrub brushes.

Paul, my son has been on a camping trip throughout British Columbia, with his girlfriend Bela.
I just learned that he is now back home in Calgary, and I expect they will be here by the end of this week for a couple of weeks.

Paul sent me this picture, and he looks great here. Bela is good for him. : )

 I've been working on and off on a children's picture book of the stories by a wonderful woman I met back in 1991. She was in her 80's at the time, and I taped her stories, of growing up, on the prairies, and some of the animals she remembered. She had been a writer of short stories, and so had a story telling way about her.

 This summer I'm having fun putting her stories into a framework of some kind, and drawing a few more pictures to illustrate.

In 1991 took a small group of daycare children to the Plains Historical Museum, and Bessie, led us on a tour. She ended the tour with a  story of a family of gophers she took care of as a young child on the farm.  One of the girls ran up and gave Bessie a big hug. Bessie had a whimsy about her, that one had to love.

 

The storyline in my book idea, is that the children invited Bessie to visit the daycare center, and so she visited us and continued to tell the children her wonderful stories. The children as well, had stories for her, and wanted to show Bessie the gopher holes on the hill next door to the daycare center. (Our children do love to look for gophers on this hill.)





One of my favourite "Bessie" stories is of the fall day when she was returning home from a church womens' meeting out of town, and noticed that the sky was filled with migrating geese. She described that the geese just kept coming in waves and waves, and that she noticed not only the "V" formation, but as well, an "A" formation.The next day, she heard that the northern lakes had been hit with a sudden freeze, and this could have accounted to the vastness of the flocks of geese. As well, there later was a report of a small town in the United States, that was just full  with geese. For one day people could not drive their cars, or walk on their sidewalks, because Canadian geese had landed everywhere.




I tried to convey here the sense of geese everywhere.

Hmm, I see Herbert wanted in on this post. If someone is looking carefully, they might just see a small orange paw at the edge of the pencil  drawing just above the goose picture.


Of course, Herbert, you definitely deserve to be in any post here at Mullin Avenue - you are The Boss, in my books.


Well, that is most of what I have been up to this past few months. Presently I am advertising to find a roomer, to help me with expenses.  I am extremely cautious, so won't do this unless I find someone who will be a good fit. I'm thinking I might have Paul help me interview possible people when he is here. I am hoping to find a quiet, respectful student, who likes cats. :)

I don't know why I took this picture. :)

Hoping your summer is continuing to be good.
Love - Brenda


Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Colours" song by Donovan




I have had great pleasure in listening to Matthew's videos, for the past two years. He is a very young Canadian, living in Bangkok, Thailand. He is from Montreal, Canada, originally, so I feel a connection to him as my son lived in Montreal for 10 years, and the two are approximately the same age. Another connection I feel to Matthew is that my son has traveled quite widely too, in Asia including Thailand.

But really, I like following him, because of his sincerity, and awesome music, and because I love this genre of music.

Matthew teaches English in Bangkok, and has a personal project to record all of the tunes on Youtube from the songbook, Rise Up Singing. This song book includes traditional folk songs and ballads, and as well more recent folk songs from the sixties and seventies.

He hasn't posted for almost one year, but in the past week, he has started posting again.
I love this tune, so want to share it here.

If you are inclined to, why not pass on a comment on Youtube to Matthew.
I think he would feel happy to know we are listening to him, and following him at this time.
Hugs.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

The certainty of robins and tulips





I'm not sure if you can see the russet coloured chests on these brave little birds, but yes these are robins. The robins who settle here in my city for summer seem always to be rather hardy souls, as it is generally still chilly when they arrive.

I spied my first robin this week, and as always I was delighted. But the week has been terribly cold for spring, and we had up to 1 centimeter of snow, frozen rain, snow flurries, and temperatures as low as -18C, all week. Highways were closed due to icy driving conditions. Poor robins.

Today, is a nice change and it looks like the temperature will be up to about 13C.

 In January, my small group of children at the daycare center, where I work, and I undertook to force tulip bulbs to grow indoors. I had some bulbs at home, which I had not got around to planting in the fall, and they had begun to sprout, so I thought it might be interesting to see if we could force them to grow.

The children loved filling the bottoms of glass canning jars, (Mason jars), with glass marbles, and then we added water, and placed one bulb per jar to rest on top of the marbles. The marbles or gems were meant to act as a wick and draw the water up to the bulb.

We stored the jars under a crawlspace in the building where it would be dark and cool, for about 8 weeks. To keep our interest, I brought the jars up regularly to see any growth.

So, after, about 8 weeks the little bulbs did seem to have some roots, and we decided to plant them in soil, and leave them in the sunlight.

The picture above was taken just after planting them, but since then they have actually grown a few inches, and are beginning to develop leaves. I had hoped they might bloom in time for Easter, but still it's great to see they are growing, and taught me and my small group of children a little about the resilience of plants, I think.

Soon, the earth will warm here, and tulips are sure to grow and I am hoping my children might make the connection from these flowers to their small project over our very cold winter.

Spring does provide us with these reminders of natures' resilience, and certainty. The robins will arrive, and the flowers will come up.

We can be sure of this.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Warm Hearts, Creative Two Year Olds - A Happy Story

Our city's Public Library sponsored an art show and contest for all ages, this past Valentines' Day. The contest was named Melting Hearts, and the public was invited to create a card, with art and poem. There was a category for schools and classrooms. This seemed like a great opportunity for my small group of two and three year olds' at the daycare center where I work.

Earlier in the year we had been working on special art with a possibly Valentine theme, to be used for fundraising, by our daycare, It was intended that the art would be made into lovely sets of art cards that families could purchase. Unfortunately, due to to other circumstances the project fell through.

My group had done some really creative work, and some children had created up to 8 pictures in this project. We used acrylic folk paint, ribbon, construction paper, and a few other media, on small 9X7 canvases purchased at the dollar store. Some children even painted themselves!

I came upon the poster for the art show, in the first week of February. Thanks to the quick acting of my families, I soon had an art piece for each child, selected by the parent, or child and parent; consent forms filled out, as well as a letter explaining the project.

We would need a poem or poems to go with the art. I first attempted to have the children help me make a poem, but they were more interested in playing. Next, I spent a day or two listening for possible warm words from the conversations of the children as they played.

At this point we had been indoors for 5 weeks or so, not being able to go outdoors due to the weather. Our center's weather policy states that we could not be outside in temperatures colder than -25. I had needed to work on teaching kind words. I'm sure anyone would understand that 8 small children confined together in a  small room for up to 10 hours a day can develop conflicts, especially related to ownership of space and materials.

As I listened, I was happy and proud, to hear my children, ask, "Can I play with you?" and "Sure". Or, "Here, you can have this crayon, or puzzle, etc." Of course this didn't always happen, we still had fights, now and then, but much less than previously. It's reassuring to  witness young children learning the rules of getting along. :)

I typed the warm words, cut them out, and then we sat together at a table to look at the words, on the slips of paper. Each child picked out a word, chose the spot to glue it onto a canvas, and the result was our poem, "It May Be Cold Outside, But Our Hearts are Warm". I wish I could share here my photo of the children as they sat around their finished poem, their faces were beaming. I do know this is something we will do again.

 I needed to deliver our project to the library by Friday, Feb. 14, by 5:30. I arranged to leave work one half hour early so as to get there on time. I would not get there on time. I had misread my bus schedule. I tried to phone a taxi, but couldn't get through to the two companies I tried. However, I got there by bus, at 6:15, to find two wonderful art gallery workers still collecting art, and happy to receive ours.

The art curator for the gallery at the Library, chose to display our project in a glass case at the entrance of the libray.
There was a small reception one week later. One of the children was given a prize for Runner Up. I hadn't realized that the work would be judged individually, but that really was okay, no other families minded. It was exciting, to see this little girl, and her mom and dad enjoying the reception, and receiving a $25.00 gift card, as well as getting to see her work on display.


The curator was happy that we had entered the show, we were the only group of daycare aged children, and she said that the work was lovely. :)

It's now the middle of March, and we have just been able to play outdoors for two weeks. One or two days were warm with wonderful melting snow, some days are more traditional for March here, still below freezing, with snow that has an icy surface, and a sky that is rather bleak. But still the children have been out morning and afternoon, and loving the outdoor play.

I'm glad that during the really cold parts of this winter, with temperatures often at -48 to -52 with the wind, that we had the chance to participate in a community event, create some interesting art, and learn how to get along better.

I'm not sure, but maybe there is a lesson here, about hardship and creativity.





 





Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ballet with Toddlers or How I Seized the Moment and had a Wonderful Time

It was the end of the week, and towards the end of the day. The day was cold; we had been unable to be outdoors for days.

Sarah, was in the housekeeping area, and putting on a pair of boy's ballet shoes, size small. She handed me a pair of pink ballet slippers, well worn, mine from my teenage years. 

"Put these on, Teacher."

"Well, I guess, I could try, I'm not sure if they will fit". I pulled them on.

"These ones are boy's," Sarah says as she stands up. She twirls.

"Um, yes they were my son's when he was a boy."

I stood, and felt the floor through the bottoms of my feet.

"Let's put on our ballet music, and dance."

I called the small group of toddlers to the music carpet, found that my YoYo Ma cd was in the machine, and turned it on.

As I stood with feet pointed out, back straight, and arms in front, slightly bent at the elbow, I  bent my knees, showing the girls how to slowly lower their body while keeping back straight, and then slowly come back up.

Two of the girls immediately follow along with me, and we begin to raise, and lower to the music, and as I begin to remember the very most basic positions of the ballet, we bend our bodies together with arms held poised out, we turn, and then because I have forgotten almost all I once knew, I improvise, while keeping arms poised, toes out, back straight, and move slowly.

I am aware of Jess, watching from behind the bookshelf, and Nina, eyes sparkling at the edge of the carpet. Nina is special in many ways, she and I have a close bond, and she looks bemused and appreciative as I move with the music, in my old ballet shoes.

I call the two watchers to join us, and so we hold hands in a ring, bending  slowly to the ground, with our backs straight, we stand first on one leg, and point the other leg out; and then do the reverse. 

We release hands, and I twirl, as my toddlers watch.

"This is ballet", I say. 






Sunday, August 25, 2013

There was a bit of magic in the air...The Out There concert


The experience of going to the Paul McCartney concert,  Out There, was everything I'd hoped for - lovely weather with a still autumnal feeling in the air; friendly crowds; fun with my son, and niece; and a wonderful musical experience.

Part of the fun, was finding a parking spot, and then walking some distance to the stadium, with other happy concert goers. It became evident that there was going to be a very large crowd at Mosaic stadium. We learned later that the crowd for the concert was over 44, 0000, which is good for a city of our size - 250,000.

Our seats were way up, above the crowds, and we loved this vantage point. As well we were in the very center front seats, with no one in front of us.


  Yes, we were quite far from the stage, but our viewpoint allowed us to get a grand picture of the event, including this beautiful sunset.


We waited a long time for the concert to start - 45 minutes. Later we heard that the concert was held up to wait for concert goers who streamed in steadily . My brother-in-law later  told us that the band had been stuck in traffic, and so called our local popular music radio station, CJME, and said "We're stuck in traffic, does anyone want to talk with Paul". So, the amazed radio announcer had an impromptu, interview with Paul for about 20 minutes.

At the time we were not sure why the concert was so late. We were kept entertained with a light screen collage of the Beatles, and music.

Paul, my son, and I thought maybe they were waiting for the sun to set.


After this beautiful sunset, we still waited for sometime, when suddenly, with no fanfare, the band appeared and started playing "Eight Days a Week".

The music continued nonstop for 3 hours. It seemed to me that the people in the audience were just genuinely happy, and thrilled to have Paul entertain with his lovely songs, and friendly manner. There is nothing off putting, or snobbish in this famous star's engagement with the crowd.

Paul changed guitars frequently through the evening, and of course played the piano. Here he is playing the music for Hey Jude. And yes, the night was lit up with small lights as people shone their phones.

He and his band sang 33 songs this night, and I was surprised when my son, Paul seemed to know so many of them. My beautiful niece Summer, also seemed to be familiar with most of the songs.

One of my favourite songs in the concert was Blackbird. This was performed by Paul alone on stage.
 I know it is hard to see him but isn't that a lovely background for the song.



There were fireworks midway through the evening, here following the Wings tune, Live and Let Die, the theme song for the 1973 James Bond movie of the same name.

After two encores, the concert ended with Golden Slumbers, and The End - and more fireworks to close the night.

The crowd dispersed happily and peacefully. For many, I think a once in a life time opportunity to see a favourite star, perform live. In my books, he lived up to his reputation as a performer, and true star.

I am so happy I had a chance to see this, and must thank my son Paul for taking me to this event.