Opening Statement



Sunday, 20 November 2011

A Weekend In Late November + More

I suppose like most of my other secondary teacher colleagues out there in cyber-land I find mid to late November a very busy time of the school year. Mid term report cards are due. Then there's parent teacher interviews. With my AU-DDME [Autistic Developmentally Delayed Multiple Exceptionality] students it's somewhat different. They can't read write or talk, so the assessment is often heavily based on checklists, and a lot of teacher observation. After about 26 years in the classroom I can pretty much tell you intuitively how they are doing but of course administration always requires paperwork. I talk to the parents on a regular basis, so the report itself, let alone the parent teacher interviews isn't much of a big deal anyways, they all ready know what's going on. Our class had two big changes, first coming back to school from the holidays and then a room change. Routine is everything, but they seem to be settling down nicely now. I'm still working on all my other paperwork but basically with all that out of the way we've now just got to wrap things up for Christmas. Then get two weeks off to catch up with my own life. Whew.

By the way, for those of you who`d rather just get to the blog ban scuttlebutt, please scroll to the bottom of my blog. I`d rather ruminate a bit today, rather than just jump back into the melee. More time for that later. But please, be my guest, if you would like to cut to the quick. I understand.


It's been a mild autumn this year in Toronto. By mid day the temperature has often hit the low teens and we've had a lot of sunshine. Most of the leaves  have changed colour and fallen off the trees. I've got my long winter coat out, my woollen winter hat, and my winter boots. I am wearing them all ready. It's a pretty bleak and barren landscape outside our condo window. Gone are the birds and the bursting green foliage of summer. I'd sit then, out on the balcony with my morning coffee and paper. Maybe post a blog about how wonderful it all looks. Now? No. I'm always out and abouts during the weekdays coming and going from work at school and union. More evenings are spent cuddling up with Janet on the couch maybe watching movies or t.v., if we don't have errands to run. Or I'll just retreat to my man-cave, the back music room where I've got all my cd's, records, books and electronic equipment. Relaxing in my easy chair or just working on my music collection. Life is not without it's own late fall charms, when everything moves back indoors and we begin to hunker down for the long cold months ahead. Very Canadian I suppose.


December is perhaps my favourite winter month, even though the season doesn`t technically arrive until the solstice towards the end of the third week. One can expect the first snow, a gentle blanket of white covering the ground, the trees, the rooftops and landscape four floors below. There`s the steamy breath as one steps outside into cold. The slow drive into work. Everyone, especially the kids are usually quite happy and delighted. It all seems so fresh and new and of course Christmas is just around the corner. We`ll be off for holidays, returning in January. The winter blahs will settle in within a month or so after that with the short days, the snow piling up, the tedium of work, school and just getting by dragging on and on. Then and only after that will there be any hopeful sights of spring once again bring everyone and everything back to life. Maybe it isn`t the same for everyone, but I am a summer person with a lifetime of Canadian winters behind me and probably still more than a few to go. I suppose it shows.


So on Friday night Janet and I met downtown. I had a doctor`s appointment during the day. Then I got a haircut, checked out the music stores and met her at Winners by 5pm to clothes shop. Empty nesters, but not yet grandparents, we can just buy for ourselves now. After we walked down Yonge Street to Dundas Square, which can be mercilessly barren and windswept this time of year, stripped of it`s summer delights. The Christmas lights are going up everywhere along Yonge Street, thousands of tiny shining stars in the night, strung through the trees, up and over the street poles, the store front windows, well practically everywhere. Dundas Square is still just basically lit by the huge LED screens on all the high towers that surround it, flashing out their non- stop advertisements to buy buy buy. Rather ridiculous scantily clad models  models advertise the latest fashions on a cold late fall night. More ads for cars. Electronics. Trips down south.


We walked west to Chinatown and the Spadina Gardens, my favourite Chinese food restaurant. Big plates of chicken in peanut sauce, beef in black bean sauce. Bowls of steaming rice. We dig in with our chopsticks just talking about work and mostly the weekend ahead. Then amble over to the University Line to catch the subway north to Wilson Station where our cars are parked in the vast expanse of freezing cold parking lots. It`s easier than driving and trying to find parking downtown anymore, especially during rush hour.


 Saturday was more errands but that`s okay. It`s our routine. We drive about north Toronto going here and there and then returning home for the luxury of a late afternoon nap. We had tickets to go down to Harbourfront to see a Japanese Drum Troupe, the Nagata Shachu Taiko and Music Group perform their yearly Toronto showcase performance. They are locals who tour the world throughout the year. There`s a pretty small Japanese community in Toronto. Seemed everybody in the crowd was somehow related or knew each other and the band members. Janet is pure Japanese, 100%, but truth be told her family has been in Canada a few generations more than my side has. In talk, dress, and  mannerisms, she is 100% Torontonian. Asian women are so beautiful, and the Japanese Canadians are especially well cultured, polite and very friendly in a down to earth manner too. It was a very nice crowd and a great two hour show with one short 15 minute intermission. The drummers are very strident with an incredible sense of beat, playing solo and with and off each other. The arrangements and moods created were fantastic. There were the wind and stringed instruments, very light but vibrant. The backdrop was a flat screen of evening hues, changing slowly and delicately together with the atmosphere of the music. It was an incredibly moving performance.


Sunday finds me cleaning up at home. I went through all my clothes, putting away the last of the lighter stuff til next spring. Organizing my clothes closets for home and school. Getting together a few bags for Goodwill. I`ve put on a few pounds and don`t like anything snug. Come January I plan to shed some weight, but with Christmas just around the corner, it`s pretty pointless right now. Janet went out with her girlfriends shopping for gifts at the  big Christmas sales. We don`t have much we need to buy anymore, once we are all adults it seems rather pointless, but it is fun just the same, for her perhaps, not me. I had a nice nap, spaced out in my man cave and am waiting for her to get back so we can make supper, and cuddle on the couch watching t.v and wasting away the last of our weekend before we go to bed. And so goes a day, or weekend rather, in the life of this blogger, come late November. I suppose it`s not without it`s own charms and contentment. I hope everybody else is doing okay too.


And now it`s time for the news. I will be posting some more about the blog ban. Seems now it`s been downgraded to a Appropriate Protocol for Social Media or something like that, whatever that's supposed to mean. No matter, the devil is always in the details. I would think the Confidentiality Agreement with all its restrictions including sharing any TSU information on a need to know basis and through the main office is where that will be found.

2nd Vice President Frank Bruno was very adamant that he wanted it signed by everybody, executive and members alike at our last executive meeting, effective immediately. That or they'd be kicked off all our TSU committees, maybe even executive. Make any sense to you? Me neither!

Nothing is written about that in our by-laws. I would like to see the exact motion as it was approved made public to our members asap. At any rate, this was all said at our public November executive meeting, outside of the all too frequent private in camera sessions we have these days. Most of you would have been in class anyway. Seems to me that most everything is like a big secret this year. I can understand an info ban on grievances or collective bargaining talks, we have always acted accordingly anyway.

I've told President Jansen if he wont put a stop to the rest of this malarkey then I will give it a good try. Maybe its high time for a little whistle blowing so we can actually get more important work done, and leave the nonsense for those who would like to head out to the local watering hole later. This is not the TSU I know, love and where I have worked to serve you. Well, there will be time enough for this debacle later. I hope you had a good weekend and are getting braced for the school homestretch to Christmas. Cheers!


My fortune cookie. Not much new.

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