September 29, 2010

the Daily Duke 9.29

It looks like an ordinary car ride for Duke. It's not. It's an airing out. The residual skunk smell is overwhelming. I tried the remedy I used in the past. It works, except for his face and neck. I'm thinking he received a very direct hit --  as in -- he was trying to sniff the skunk's ass rear-end when he was sprayed. If these non-stop car rides don't work, I'm trying Windex.

September 28, 2010

You say Three Rivers, I say Trois-Rivières

Three Rivers Stadium. Actually, it's a ball park Trois-Rivières, Quebec where we attended a Fall baseball tournament for Louis' team two weekends ago.
Trois-Rivière is not a busy town. When Paul and Louis needed to stay the night in order to make it to an early game the next morning, it was not wise to have not made reservations. Fortunately, they did not bring home any bed bugs.

Don't let the condition of the ball park fool you. These Quebecers are as serious about baseball as they are about hockey. The park, however, left a bit to be desired for this American family. It's safe to say that this would not happen in the US...a park where fall balls can easily fly directly into the Canadian crowd with little notice...sort of like in hockey. These parents are not standing where they are because they needed to stretch their legs or get a good view -- more like so they can duck. We like to call this stadium "Thank goodness we have Universal Health Care."
It was still a fun-filled weekend of good ball. And I mean, really good baseball. Although, it was hard for the Pisani family to see Louis in a Yankees uniform.

He doesn't forget his Chicago roots though, choosing the same number as his favorite White Sox player.

Louis (#14) for Konerko with his buddy Max Murphy from a nice Irish family in Montreal : )

the Daily Duke 9.28

Duke is once again defeated by a squirrel. He's feeling like a Green Bay Packers fan today.

September 27, 2010

Êtes-vous prêt pour un certain football ?

Yes, we're ready for some football. This eastern time zone blows....the game does not even start until 8:30 pm. We're not even going to try and explain to the Canadians the meaning of a Cheesehead.

the Daily Duke 9.27

This is how Duke spends a Sunday morning when once again, he decides to "play" with the skunk who has decided to take up residence in the front yard. 

September 23, 2010

"I'm almost fluent" word of the day 9.23

What most every parent feels like these days....


...which means driver. And we now measure the miles in KMs.

the Daily Duke 9.23

No, this dog does not care that the water is now cold. However, if he ever decided to become a hunting dog, we still say he would require a heated duck blind with a nice, warm down dog bed.

September 15, 2010

the Daily Duke 9.15

This dog is serious about his car rides. We do have a hands-free cell phone law here. I checked, I don't see anything about cameras, fortunately.

"I'm almost fluent" word of the day 9.15

Fall is in the air here in Montreal. Since we just got the air conditioning fixed this week, it's only appropriate that we don't need that any longer and we walk by the thermostat tempted to turn on the heater. Fall brings with it that feeling of knowing we will soon be eating lots of warm soup and enjoying the famous smells of fall.

Speaking of smells...the word we already know is...


But, did you know that translated it means "rotten pot?" Of course we know it's really a scented mixture of dried flowers and spices or a miscellaneous group or collection. So next time you walk into a home and smell potpourri, I dare you to complement the host(ess) by saying, "Gee, I like the smell of your rotten pot."

September 14, 2010

A special family visit

Paul with Adam, Art, Cindi and Placido Swanson
We were thrilled when the Swanson family from Naperville made a stop in Montreal on their road trip around most of the Great Lakes and through Canada. It was very unfortunate that I (Kish) had to make a last-minute trip out of town and didn't get the chance to break bread with this amazing family. Thankfully, Danielle is quite good in the kitchen and Paul's favorite Italian market was open on Labour Day (most big stores were closed) and they put together a nice lunch. They even cleaned the house which I kept saying was not necessary. That's because, well, the guys don't care and my friend blind. She wouldn't know or care if there was enough dog hair in the corners to stuff a pillow. Plus, her assistance dog Placido was coming too and we could always blame yellow dog hair on him. Just so long as the bathrooms were clean. And they were, I'm told. 

I met Cindi at our church in Naperville. She was, and is, the special needs coordinator at our previous parish. She was doing this job long before one jerk (hint--Beck) started mouthing off suggesting we run from our churches if we hear the words Social Justice. She's also a social worker, mom or three -- her middle son with Down Syndrome -- and as mentioned earlier, she is blind. She does not let her disability stand in her way and she represents all that is good about Social Justice and the whole concept of WWJD? She and Art paved the way in Naperville and Illinois for the Pisani family...and hundreds of others but advocating in church, school and the community.

Cindi met with me many times to find the right words to use in IEP meetings to help get Louis the services he was entitled to -- because everyone is entitled to a fair and appropriate education...including those with disabilities. She's also the most passionate advocate I know. I remember driving her home from one meeting (remember, she can't drive) and we were talking about how the Catholic church in general needs to get even more involved in helping those with special needs, and in particular those with intellectual disabilities. She used the words Social Justice before we heard it from that guy, believing that providing services for those with disabilities is the epitome of Social Justice in any community. Out of her mouth came these words..."if a Parish can help support {BEEP} goats in Guatemala, they can help support people with needs in their own community." Disclaimer...she was not referring to our Parish...but 'The Church' in general.

The Swanson's are HUGE hockey fans too. We had fun exchanging news throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. Art knows more about the Canadiens than the Canadians. Seriously. This family has also been a big part of a special program in Chicago called the Tomahawks. They helped start a garden/nursery that employs people with disabilities called We Grow Dreams. They even moved to downtown Naperville to ensure that their son Adam can walk to work and to make sure that people in the community know Adam and look out for him. Remember, Cindi can't drive, so making sure everything is walk-able is a necessity, not a luxury. There are some days when I want to have a solitary pitty party and I think about what if I too had a disability. I never admitted this to Cindi because frankly, she refuses to let anyone feel sorry for her.

Cindi and Art made sure kids like Louis could attend religious ed classes with their peers, participate in sports, be in the same class with their peers, get jobs in the community and more. We've learned a lot about our future from this family. More than anything though, we've learned about the present. 

"I'm almost fluent" word of the day 9.14

Here in Quebec we have Bureau en Gros which is the French version of the office supply store Staples. I'm guessing that that the Staples stores in the US don't have two rows of French dictionaries for back to school shopping time....

The "I'm almost fluent" word of the day is....


Which means office, or can also mean desk. So if you work in the US, next time try "I'm off to the bureau." Impressive.

the Daily Duke 9.14

Yes, Duke. It's still there. No worries.
(photo by Danielle)

September 3, 2010

"I'm almost fluent" word of the day 9.3

This is one of those words that most English speakers would probably figure out after a few guesses...


Which means....air conditioning. Which is...something we have been without for the past four days. Which makes....the mom of the house very cranky. 

Finally the "part" is in the the repair man is in the house. In a few minutes I'll be presented with a facture which means invoice -- however each time I see the word facture it reminds me of fracture which is usually what it's doing to the checking account. Today though, if lots of loonies means nice cool air, that's okay. Just in time for the start of fall. Hopefully the heater is working.

the Daily Duke 9.3

It's day four of "Holy Hell why does the AC have to go out in the middle of a heat wave and why does it take so long for a part to come in?" This is what happens when you have too many fans near your desk and a neurotic dog who has to stay within a few feet of his "mom."

September 1, 2010

Off to high school

Yes, technically it's high school. Or Grade 7 or Sec. 1 as it's called here in Quebec. High school starts in grade 7 and runs through grade 11 in Quebec in the public systems. This means Louis is starting at a new school, with new friends (many from his elementary school), a locker, a bit more freedom, a cafeteria and more sports opportunities. He's excited and so are we. We decided on the public school because there really are not many options for special education programs. There is one school in Montreal, however, they are still reviewing applications for 2008. Having Louis in the community is just as important for now.

Education in Quebec is different. Some things we like and some things we don't. Of course, every student needs to take French and a lot of it -- even if they attend an "English" school like our kids do. Another interesting class that all students take throughout their education is called "Ethics and Religious Culture" or ERC for short. It doesn't matter if it's a public or private school, Catholic or not, everyone takes this class. We were recalling when we toured this public school for Danielle back in August 2008 and they were preparing the classes for the first day of classes. We walked by one classroom and there was a box of Bibles outside the room ready to be loaded into the class. We were all "Huh? Not that we have a problem with this, but isn't this a public school?" We were told of course it's public, but the Bible is used in literature classes. We were fine with that.

I attended a Catholic high school in Tucson. My first real exposure to reading the Bible (remember, back in the 70s we didn't necessarily read the Bible) was Genesis in Humanities World Literature and the Book of Job in another Humanities class. It was not part of religion as I recall unless it was the history part. I thought it was interesting and frankly, since we didn't really study the Bible as Catholics, it was good to pick it apart, line by line.

So this ERC curriculum is interesting. Louis brought home his course outline....

The two main objectives of the Ethics and Religious Culture Course are:
  • the recognition of others
  • the pursuit of a harmonious society

Under the heading of Ethics education, the students will be able to:
  • reflect on values and social prescriptions
  • appreciate different views of the world and humanity
  • have a well-thought out perspective on moral and ethical issues

Under the heading of Religious Culture education, the students will be able to:
  • familiarize themselves with Quebec Religious heritage
  • be open to religious diversity
  • have a well-thought out perspective with respect to religions and new religious movements

The course competencies are:
  • Reflects on ethical question
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the phenomenon of religion

We're fine with the class. It's a good thing to have open and honest discussion of ethics and religion -- all religions. When we went to Danielle's curriculum night last year and the ERC teacher was going over details of the class, even we were shocked at first. There were getting into some very controversial subjects. In fact, Danielle had to do a debate last year DEFENDING the use of child labor. Of course, it was debate and someone had to be on the "other side" and unfortunately for Danielle it was her. It was difficult for her (because she did a good job). She hated defending something she did not agree with, but at the same time, it was a very valuable experience.

Would this type of curriculum fly in the the US in a public school? Would it make Glenn Beck cry tears of joy (without Vick's VapoRub)? Well, the word Religious is in the title. But, the phenomenon of religion verbiage might throw him off -- although he seems to think everything related to him is a phenomenon, including a bunch of Canada geese flying over his lawn concert. We had Canada geese every October and November flying over our house in Naperville and we called the flyover an alarm clock. Whatever.

Not everyone in Quebec is happy about the ERC curriculum by the way. And when Canadians are upset about an issue -- they can make some noise.  We're okay with it. It's what makes the our kid's education in Quebec unique. It gets us talking at the dinner table. It exposes the kids to dialogue about religious thinking outside of Christianity. What matters most is the dialogue at home anyway. That's where you start to restore honor...or honour.

the Daily Duke 9.1

Duke is not too thrilled that both kids are back at school. If he could talk he would be saying, "What about my lunch? Who the hell is going to give me the other half of their peanut butter and jelly sandwich now? I even know how to respond to peanut butter in French. Huh? I have to eat dog food? That blows."
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