Tag Archives: teaching

Fooling Them, Some of the Time….

Twice now I’ve been mistaken for my lovely niece, at least twenty-five years younger than myself. I know! Why would I even worry about that? It seems extremely odd though. Somehow, people I know very well and see often enough should not make these mistakes. We may have some similar family traits but my niece is a trim, slim dressy young woman and I am traditionally built… (ahem)… and wear black yoga pants daily ( they are slimming and oh, so comfortable.) We have the same hair colour, hazel eyes, fair complexion and sense of humour but that’s about it. Side by side, we look very much like ourselves (allowing for the fact I am very significantly older and very, very, very significantly plumper). Apart, we look very different, as we should. On both occasions, it was older fellows who made the error . I didn’t correct them. Would you?

Years ago, the mistaken identity thing happened to me but in reverse. I had recently moved back into the rural village close to our family roots. Very early one morning there was a light knock at the front door and I could see through the peephole that it was an elderly lady that I knew from the community when I was a young girl. Although I greeted her by name she in turn  handed me some wild weeds she had picked in the yard and called me by my aunt’s name, Dorothy. She told me she was glad I was back home again after all these years. My aunt had moved away years ago and had died far from home. I never knew her. Oddly enough, my aunt and I apparently were alike in many ways according to what my parents told me. When the old and very confused soul had welcomed me home as Dorothy I didn’t correct her. I watched her leave through the back garden, picking catnip mint….wandering barefoot despite her advanced age with her wispy long white hair, long cotton dress and singing mysteriously to herself. Literally stunned by this Ophelia-like encounter, it took me a few moments to figure out her visit. She had it almost right. I was back home again, single again…. with my young son. I guess I could have been Dorothy except for the age difference of fifty odd years.

As a university student in the 1970’s, when typists worked on faculty papers I was mistakenly presented in the coffee shop with a huge folder to be typed up for a professor . I was a first year student barely able to find my way around the huge campus and a vile typist of my own work.  A girl in the secretarial pool apparently had the same Farrah Fawcett hairdo and platform shoes that I had and the mistake was pointed out to the rather confused fellow wanting his dissertation typed as soon as possible. He seemed to think I was kidding because apparently one Farrah Fawcett hairdo looked like another.

Getting out of my car in the school parking lot where I worked (almost) my entire career as a Kindergarten teacher, I was approached by a harried looking woman bent on discussing her son’s progress. I had taught her two younger boys in Kindergarten but they were now in the junior grades. Bizarrely, she started in on how upset she was with her son’s progress so far and wanted to discuss it in detail with me. I told her to make an appointment with the teacher. Looking at me with intense stress she left in a huff. She hadn’t realized I wasn’t her older son’s teacher at all. She had mistaken me for the Grade Eight teacher. Granted we are both about the same age, fair, hazel eyes and traditionally built but…come on, how can you not know your own son’s teacher? The difference in nine grade levels should have been her first clue. ( I have to add the detail that this woman was a nurse at a mental hospital, so…..)

The best observation of all time wasn’t really a mistaken identity but rather a wonderful compliment, ( much like being confused with my lovely young niece!). In the middle of one of my more dramatic lessons , outfitted with an array of props ,puppets and costumes I was storytelling my Kindergarten teacher heart out. A student, four years of age asked me point blank at the end of my performance…”Are you a real grownup ?”  That was a wonderful moment in time, a treasured confused moment!

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Book Weather

Two small notebooks are ready to be filled with titles, names and notes about interesting books I hear about and then try to find either through second hand book stores, regular bookstores and the library. I don’t use the ” big river” to get my books, you know the one. I think that is just too much of a modern thing for me to do so I am content with my tried and sometimes effective method of finding these books and authors. There are so many choices that I am usually satisfied with what I get .

Sometimes there is a dry spell or a lull between finding a really good book and I feel at loose ends without something to hold my interest. It isn’t usually for long. There are two full bookcases of my own collection to satisfy any period of being temporarily lost for a good book. Often during these lulls I hit the cookbook bookcase in another part of the house and usually find hours of good reading there. I often would rather read vintage cookbooks than anything else.

Then, of course there are my really old books kept on their own shelves in another bookcase in my bedroom way out of reach of any curious pets such as the book destroying bulldog I am babysitting at the moment. My collector books would also be good for entertainment during a month full of blizzards if that ever should occur and I can’t get my fresh supply of literature from my usual sources.

When my young neighbour comes in to visit she always asks me if I really do read all of the books that I have and I tell her the truth. Some I haven’t read yet but they are just waiting like emergency supplies for the right time to be read. Some of the books I have read several times. Some of the books I read every year as a seasonal ritual.

None of my books are the trendy fresh ones as they don’t appeal to me when they are all hyped up and popular in the media. I may be drawn to them later when I find them in a discount barrel at a bookstore or at a garage sale and I will take them home then to read, or leave propped on a shelf for a rainy day.

I don’t always finish reading a book if it doesn’t appeal to me because life is just too short to be bored or put off by a book when there are so many good books somewhere to be found and treasured. Ruthless, I toss an unappealing book and pick up another hoping for the best. Whether I read it or not is my call.

It is a good thing that I’m not a book reviewer, a bookstore owner or a librarian because I would be too hard on the material and probably ruffle feathers. However, the ones that I like would be praised to the hilt and I would use my powers of persuasion to encourage others to try them. It just wouldn’t be fair though. I will leave that for the more courageous and outspoken individuals who make these reviews and judgements in good conscience. ( I bet that ruffles a few feathers right there.)

My taste in books is based on how I was raised, my life experiences and my education but thank goodness I am open to suggestions and willing to take a look at something different, obscure, vintage or even contemporary. It usually depends on the weather, like a twinge at the prospect of change.

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Aunt Mabel’s Sewing Basket

Three weeks have passed since I was presented with the two dress shirts to repair. They have been left draped on a chair with the sewing basket close at hand, untouched. All that was required was some very simple button sewing but it seemed to be a job I would rather postpone. Today, I sewed on the buttons. It took about an hour because the buttons had been chewed off by the little bulldog character I’ve mentioned in some previous posts. Delicate chewing had crushed about six buttons and they had to be replaced with the extra ones sewn on the bottom of the shirts. It was good of her to leave some spares. It was also good of her to leave the shirt fabric in one piece. I am trying to be positive about her best qualities.

 The biggest pain was just threading the needle but eventually with a great deal of winking and aiming I got the thread through the needle and with tiny scissors I clipped away the tattered threads hanging on the chewed spots. After completing this simple task I felt some satisfaction and put the shirts away for my son when he breezes in to get them later this weekend.

The next thing I did was tidy up the sewing basket. For several years it has been in a bit of a jumble and I couldn’t quite close the lid properly. Obviously, this sewing thing is not a priority with me so a jumbled sewing box with it’s lid askew isn’t surprising. However, having finished the simple button repairs and feeling somewhat pleased with myself I decided to take a few minutes and just organize the kit so I could put it away neatly for the next sewing session.

Many spools of thread of intriguing muted colours filled the top layer of the box. Under this tray were all kinds of tiny clever travel sewing kits. Some were in little square cases, some were wrapped in brown paper and one was in a small metal capsule with a cute little thimble as a cap on the end. More mysterious paper packages revealed sets of hooks, buttons and what nots used for sewing emergencies. I found several threading devices also but could only figure out how to use one of them successfully.  Ribbons, elastic tape and seam binding laid in the bottom layer of the basket. I doubt I’ll ever use them but I don’t feel the authority to remove them. They stay.

An hour or so passed sorting through all this stuff and I found myself thinking of many different things in the process. Marvelling at the common sense practicality of all the items brought back memories of my aunt. This was her workbasket and had been handed down. The careless mess of the items was my doing during the years when all I could do was dash through tasks like repairing a fallen hem or lost button.  ( In my glory days as a very busy teacher I was more inclined to use a stapler to temporarily fix a dangling hem!) She had kept all these things in top order ready for action and I had pawed through them creating havoc.

In the whole scheme of things it sometimes takes time to face what needs to be done and sort through the things that don’t sit well. It takes time to really look at things, put aside the frustrations and try to use what is practical. Several years and three weeks later, some of my aunt’s common sense and practicality rubbed off on me. However, it is the thread of thought between us that I found so binding. Honestly, I enjoyed the visit.

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