Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Week in Winter

People sometimes ask me what I've been doing. It's winter, it's cold and I'm not getting out much. But I am keeping busy. Here's one project I've been working on over the last week.

A couple years ago, when we had the bedrooms painted (and yes. you're not mistaken - that is an electric apple green: smile), I bought a light fixture for the second bedroom. It was perfect: a pleasing shape, uncomplicated and inexpensive: plastic wrapped around a globe-shaped wire frame.

Unfortunately, the plastic started to give way, possibly helped along by feisty grand-kids using it as target practice tossing stuffed animals, but probably it would have disintegrated anyway since it was so cheap. For a while it was just ripped and hardly noticeable, but lately the plastic started to really come apart and when it started to look like the fixture was going through a time-lapse explosion, it was clear that I had to either fix or replace it.

Of course I opted for fixing and if that didn't work then I'd go out to find something else (a new light fixture, I mean).

After dismantling the fixture from the ceiling (full disclosure: Dad did that), I removed all the plastic wrapped around the globe to expose its full naked beauty.

Deciding that plastic had no future in this project, I had to guess at how much fabric to buy. I estimated a metre, then upped it to 2 metres, just to be safe and then when I was standing in front of the cutting table at the fabric store, my mouth said, " Three metres, please" !

That was an entirely fortunate misspeak because this was not the quick and easy fix I originally thought it would be. It was both time- and material-consuming!

First I had to cut some strips off the length of the extremely slippery sheer fabric I chose. Then each strip had to be folded so that the rough edges were inside and ironed flat.

Then it was a matter of winding the prepared strips around the frame. They had to be overlapped closely together at the top so as to leave no gaps in the middle. The 3-metre strips I had prepared were quickly used up and more were needed. Of course, each new strip had to be joined to the last one. (In case you're interested, I sewed them on the bias,but neglected to take a photo)

I glued the strips top and bottom to prevent slipping.

The whole project was extremely tedious. I could only work on it for a short time before needing to do something more interesting. It just wasn't fun wrestling those long strips into the folded pieces that were needed. I was lucky to have the luxury of time. Today, 6 days later, the project was finished - yaaay!

There was a bit of fabric left at the end, but I'm sure I used more than 2 metres and I think it was good to have longer strips and fewer joins. One of the annoying downsides of the project was the clean-up. Every time I worked on it, I came away covered with small threads cast off by the rough edges. The floor and table and inside of my sewing machine were littered. Thank heavens the vacuum cleaner made short work of it today.

On another subject altogether, 

I have been following the debate about the new sex ed. curricula in Ontario schools. There are two curricula: one for primary grades, the other for high school. Before last week the sex ed. curriculum being used dated from 1998 and it was time to bring it in line with today's realities, namely, kids reaching sexual maturity earlier than ever, changing lifestyles and internet and texting pitfalls. The Ontario Government believes that forewarned is forearmed, but there are certainly a lot of parents out there who disagree and have many concerns, especially parents of younger children. In fact, when the last Liberal Government (Dalton McGuinty) tried to introduce an updated sex ed. program in the schools in 2010, the agitated parents were so noisy and raucous that the government backed down. This time, in spite of energetic opposition, the change is going forward.

Catherine Porter, a Toronto Star journalist and mom of two primary-age kids, wrote a column on Feb. 24 that I wish I could reproduce (hee hee) here. Have you ever looked at a child's report card and wondered at the comments made by the teacher? What on earth is she/he saying about the child? Porter gives quite a few hilarious examples of this non-speak that Ontario teachers are required to use in their report card communications to the parents. Possibly they want the parents but not the kids to understand? Who knows! Possibly nobody understands, especially not immigrant parents whose English is still new to them.

At the end of her column, Porter says, "It all makes me wonder: If teachers can't find the courage and words to tell parents how their kids are really doing in school, however will they teach Grade 7 students about **** and **** sex.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself, especially if you have kids in the Ontario school system. Click HERE for the link.