Encyclopedia Brown, 2017

My son, aged 8,
Began reading Donald J. Sobol’s
Encyclopedia Brown
Books today.

Books that I loved
When I was eight.
Always trying but never quite able
To solve the mysteries.

My son’s first question
To me about the books
Is not in relation to the mysteries,
But about the character’s name:

“Why do they call him Encyclopedia?”

“Good question,” I say, not sure how to answer;

For the days of Encyclopedia Britannicas
Lined up A to Z on the library shelves,
Heavy and somber with knowledge
Are long, long gone.

Photo Credit: Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Notes: If you (or your 8 year old) haven’t had the pleasure of reading Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown series, I highly recommend them. First published in 1963, they are one part Sherlock Holmes, one part brain teaser, and one part old-fashioned fun.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Bell Let’s Talk Day: Some Snippets from My Story

This is a bit of my story about being a highly sensitive person who struggles with depression. There’s lots to share, but I’ve limited it to this particular piece, because it’s not like depression is one giant black hole, but a continuum of ups and downs.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had big dreams. One of these dreams was to be an actor, or a writer. After a short time in First Grade of wanting to work at McDonald’s the girl realized that her real dream was to shine brightly either on the stage or on the page.

The little girl decided that the best way to start making her dreams come true was by participating in any opportunities that came her way.

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

She entered speech festivals and speech competitions, winning trophies and accolades. She auditioned for and received parts in community theatre productions. The little girl was even featured in her local newspaper as an aspiring actor with big dreams.

Then High School happened. After a particularly hard Drama course where the girl felt shy among her older peers, the little girl’s dream of being an actor was somewhat deflated. Her drama teacher used words and misunderstandings to begin to break down her dream. She had known about the power of words, but hadn’t experienced them in such a hurtful way before.

The little girl told herself that she could still attain her dream, but in order to do so, she would need to travel far away to a small university out of province, where the echo of her teacher’s words would be erased and where the shadow of doubt could not follow her. She believed that her dream of being an actor could still be fulfilled.

Then one day the little girl’s dad got sick. During this time she let go of her dream of going to a university far away. In fact, she didn’t want to go to university at all, but her dad, who understood his little girl better than she understood herself, told her that it was best if she did, so she enrolled at the large anonymous university in the nearby city.

Within the first few months of attending classes, the little girl’s father died. At the time of her father’s death, the little girl was lost. She couldn’t hold onto her dreams anymore and so she let them all go.

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Note: Each time you tweet today using #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives. You can find out more about Bell Let’s Talk Day at http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/bell-lets-talk-day

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Holiday Book List 2016: The First Book

This is the third year that we’ve done a Book Advent Calendar, where the kids open a holiday book for us to read aloud. Each year, I add a few new books, and take a few out of the rotation. This is the first year that Chanukah hasn’t happened in the middle of December (it starts on December 24th) since I’ve been doing the calendar, so this year’s selection will only contain Christmas books. My children are 8, 5 and 5 this Christmas, so it’s always an interesting and enjoyable selection process to find books that appeal to both ages.

A couple of years ago, a friend asked me to share the books we read during this time. Here’s a quick summary of today’s book, Merry Christmas, Strega Nona written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola. I highly recommend it for children of all ages, both for the charming story (although not as good as the original Caldecott winning Strega Nona) and the wonderful pictures.

Advent 2016 The first five books.

Advent 2016
The first five books.

Strega Nona and Big Anthony are getting ready for Christmas and Strega Nona’s legendary Christmas Eve feast. Big Anthony wants Strega Nona to use her magic to help speed things along, but Strega Nona insists that “Christmas has a magic of its own”. With the help of Bambolona and other villagers, Big Anthony manages to find some Christmas magic of his own to share with Strega Nona.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Moments in a Day: October 1st

It’s been 23 years today since my dad died. Grief is such a strange, personal thing. Some years on this day I feel just a whisper of sadness and other years my grief is loud and long. Some years I relive the entire day as it played out so many years ago, and other years I merely glance at the clock and recognize that yes, this was that moment–the moment my brother came in to my place of employment to tell me that it was time to go to the hospital, the moment when I called my friend to tell her I couldn’t go out with her that night because my dad had died, the moment when the doctors brought me a tiny pill to try to stop the wailing and hyperventilating that was coming from me–so many moments in an ordinary (to everyone else) day.

This year is one of the in between years of grief for me. It helps that I had to shuttle the twins to a birthday party this morning, and then return to collect our oldest, pack a lunch and head to the RWB Studio for dance classes. Keeping busy helps. But it doesn’t stop me from pausing and recognizing the moments. And realizing (or re-realizing) that my dad will never be at one of my children’s ballet recitals. Or Holiday concerts. Or anything at all. And then my heart begins to really hurt and long for what is lost.

Autumn Scene

Autumn Scene Photo by unsplash http://www.pixabay.com

Sitting in the Starbucks
Across the street from the dance studio
Waiting for the kids to finish
Ballet class,
I glance up at the clock.
It is 11:35.

Ten minutes until ballet class is over.

Ten minutes until I first knew that today was the day you would die.

In a few moments I will walk back and collect two kids from ballet
And send another one in to the next class.

In a few moments I will dash from the table I am serving,
Nodding at my boss that I need to leave.

I’ve been waiting for this moment.

There will be so many
more moments today

At a certain point this afternoon I will pick up a book from the library
That’s been on hold for me.

At a certain point this afternoon I will call my friend and cancel
Our evening plans.

At 8:00 this evening I will tuck my children in to bed
And tell them how dear they are to me.
‘I love you’ I will say.

At 8:00 this evening I will stand by your bedside
And tell you how dear you are to me.
‘I love you’ I will say.

And the words will seem inadequate
And they are.
Yet they are
All I have to offer.

October 1.
A day made up of moments.
Moments to remember.

 If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

Orange

What’s the deal with orange?

Nothing rhymes with it except sporange,
And unless you are a botanist who likes to use
a very rare alternative to the word
sporangium;
(a botanical term for a part of a fern or similar plant)
You’re left with nothing.

Nada.
Zip.
All you’ve got is a clever expression used by
Bands, cartoonists, and
Hipster clothing stores:
R(h)ymes with Orange

So  what (and who) is orange for?
Oddballs?
Try-hards?
Wannabes?
Cheapskates?
(Have you ever noticed the colour of a clearance price tag?)

Orange is the domain of the fake and the terrible:
Cheez Whiz,
Spray Tans,
Hazmat Suits,
and the Agent that bears its name.
Orange is for them.

Why orange?
I’ll never understand.

Jeanette Winterson knows what’s what:
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

Oranges are not the only fruit.
And orange is not the only colour.


Notes: This is one piece in a collection of colour writings that is part of my Master’s Research Project. As I went through the colours of the rainbow initially, I was surprised at how resistant I was to orange and that I really disliked it.

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

One website about the meaning of colours said that orange was a polarizing colour and that people either love it or detest it. I don’t plan on getting into fistfights with people who like the colour, but you definitely won’t see me wearing an orange shirt anytime soon. What about you? Do you have any strong feelings toward orange or any other colour?

 

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

 

 

Seven Years

It’s taken me (give or take)
Seven
l            o            n            g
Years
To get this project (almost)
Completed.

Seven
Years
Wondering
And Worrying:
(thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? digital literacy? gender literacy? architectural literacy? digital? feminist? architectural? is it (I know, I know, but I have to ask:) possible to switch to a Master’s of Gender Studies in the                         middle                        of a Master’s of Education program? (in case you’re wondering, the answer is no. at least, not on the prairies.) thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive? thesis? comprehensive?)

And (finally)
Deciding (actively deciding or resigning myself to the fact?)
on the
Comprehensive.

(Wondering once more: did I make the right choice? if yes, why do I feel this need to explain my choice? as though a Comprehensive is somehow inferior to a Thesis, but it is, right? everyone knows that Real Scholars go the Thesis route so that they can roll merrily along into a ph. d. but that’s not my reality. and although the amount of blood, sweat, tears, thought, snot, you name it, that I have put into these

Last
Seven (Give or Take—take 1 year off for having twins and see if you manage to Pass Go and Collect $200 ever again.)
Years

is Equal if not Greater Than some who are writing a thesis, by choosing the comprehensive route I still feel Less Than. and not without merit: it’s definitely more difficult to be accepted to a Ph. D. program without a thesis, even though an M. Ed. is an M. Ed is an M. Ed. there are no extra letters for a thesis)

Seven
l            o            n            g
Years
And this project (M. Ed., no more, no less)
Is (almost)
Complete.
It’s (about) time

(For something new)

–J. Amy (July 13, 2016)

Notes: I’ve been absent for a long, long time. I know this, and hopefully this poem explains some of the ‘why’ behind my absence. I’m hoping to be back (regularly) on this blog in the not too distant future. Thanks for your patience. 

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

Warning! (D is for Don’t)

Don’t ever agree (even to yourself) to commit to something you aren’t sure you can follow up on.

I’m only on the fourth day of this A-Z blogging challenge and already I feel more disconnected and disjointed from my writing then I have for a long time. Perhaps it’s because I’m sick with a cough and cold so the only thing I can think of is when I can go to bed.

I suppose an alternate title for this post could be titled Dried Up Creativity. That would be fairly accurate. I’m hoping I can gather more enthusiasm (E) for tomorrow.