Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Great Escape

She never made it past midday. Every afternoon her head would start to nod and eventually it would slump forward onto her desk. It was just a matter of minutes until she was purring contentedly with drool drizzling from the corner of her mouth. As a child I attended a one room school with five other girls and thirty-five rowdy boys. Amidst all the chaos that this unreeled energy could produce our teacher dozed on. I was too timid to join in the revelry while our teacher slept so each afternoon I reached into my desk, pulled out a novel and was soon swept to some far off land, engaged in some adventure that made the tumult around me pale in comparison.

Our school was sparsely equipped; a pull down map, a globe and the occasional math textbook with yellowed pages - certainly nothing as frivolous as a novel. So each Saturday our family would make the weekly pilgrimage to the nearest town, reverently ascend the steps and pass through the double doors into the hallowed halls of the public library. I would tiptoe quietly on the creaky pine floors in search of my next week’s stash of diversion while I breathed in the aroma that can only be found in place steeped with books.

School was not the only place I abandoned myself to these books. In the evening the cows had to be milked, the pigs had to be slopped and lunches had to be made in preparation for the next day but when the chores were done our family huddled around the wood stove while our mother read to us. Soon we had lost all consciousness of life’s worries and were swept up in the perplexity of some fictional character’s life - characters like Heidi or Anne Shirley - characters who would give me hope that with courage and stamina I too could rise above the obstacles of life and emerge, a better person.

A friend recently said that she had made a decision not to waste any more of her time on fiction. Could I do the same? I don’t think so. As I age the art of fiction continues to hold me in its grip and I continue to become more than I am as I play out my life through the characters and go places I might never otherwise see through the pages of a well-written book.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Light

The shaft of sunlight struck through one of the windows, and I managed a bit of a smile as I watched it broaden, catching zillions of dust motes in its ray as it crept toward me and shrouded me in its warmth.

Excerpt from: "Kit's Law" by Donna Morrissey

When the sunlight illuminates the dust motes in ones life, only a fool will pull the shade.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Things That Make Us Say "Hmm!"

“My teacher made me stupider.” I read it on a bumper sticker. Is it true? As teachers* do we contribute to our children's intelligence or are we making them stupider? Creativity is the ability to produce original thought. Is there any higher level of thinking than creativity? At what age does our creativity soar? When my son was three, he constantly questioned, he explored, he delved and he burst forth with original thoughts. Some of his thoughts were not original to the world but they were all original to him. Now my son is thirty. He is an intelligent man but he does not have the same thirst for learning that he had when he was three. Why? Do we naturally lose our thirst for learning and our creativity as we mature and make sense of the world or is that creativity squelched by well-meaning adults? When we say to a child, “Sit down. Shut up. Now unscrew the lid on your head and stay still while I pour from the pitcher of knowledge.” are we making the child smarter or stupider? To what degree should our children be coddled and organized by adults and to what degree should they be free to explore and discover? At what point does it become counterproductive to instruct and guide a child? How can one be a teacher or responsible parent without extinguishing the flame that glows within a small child? Under what conditions could my son have grown up to be more creative at thirty than he was at three? Comments, anyone!

*Teachers = Anyone who instructs (i.e. parents, grandparents, school teachers )

Saturday, July 4, 2009

One More Reason To Be Thankful for Mugs

I’m a grade one teacher and you know what that means. I have a cupboard chucked full of mugs. No gift giving occasion would be complete without at least one bright eyed six year old bounding into my classroom and thrusting a mug full of candy into my hand. I barely have time to express my delight before one of my cherubs pleads, “Can we all share the candy?” So, as a result, I’ve never actually tasted the candy but I have a wide selection of mugs. What does one do with all those mugs when one does not drink tea or coffee? Pencils, erasers, paper clips can be stored in mugs. Plants can grow in them. And when one decides to launch out and open her own dollar store, it’s comforting to know that there is a ready supply of mugs to stock the shelves. Today I discovered one more use for the versatile mug. When the chocolate monster comes knocking on your door you can satisfy its cravings with a mug and little else. Here’s how.

In the mug put:
4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Egg
2.5 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

Stir it well and pop it into the microwave for three minutes on high and there you have it - chocolate cake straight from a mug. Tastes great and guaranteed to put a little fat on your bones. Who could ask for anything more?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Sleep By Any Other Name…