28 February 2010

A little Sunshine

I was recently given a little ray of sunshine, in the form of this flower:

It was given to me by
Jazzy, who writes about very serious matters with, literally, a “step in her step”, a choreographed tempo in her posts. Thank you so much Jazzy for the compliments. And right back at you! So please add this flower to your collection.

Now is my turn to spread the sunshine.

And the Award goes to . . . (drum roll please)

In no particular order . . . (more drum roll)

Actually, let's make it geographic:

Half way around the world, to
Angela in NZ. I love reading Angela’s blog: she has a knack of making every day life seem simple. Yet the life of this large family, with its Trisomy Tribe, is anything but simple, as I previously posted (click here). Angela, you often make me smile, and put a lot of things into perspective for me, in your gentle and oh so humorous way.

Next, let’s stay in NZ, and give this Sunshine Award to
Mel. I enjoy reading about Luke "Skywalker’s" exploits, of his interactions with his brother Ben and sister Emily. Ben was right in his choice of name for his little brother: Luke is a true hero! As Luke is only a few months older than Cathal, I find an affinity with Mel, as if I was reading about my own Little Prince Charming in a very soon to be future.

Now, let’s cross the Pacific Ocean, and drop in on
Cheri. Reid is so cute, I often laugh at what he comes up with. In particular I am thinking of his demonstration (this goes back a year or so) of his baseball skills with . . . eggs! And more recently his dancing in front of the tv. Thank you Cheri for sharing some very special moments.

A hop across a continent, and another ocean, and we are back in Ireland. Where I want to give a special mention to
Fiona: she graciously and gracefully lends her fingers on the keyboard to the incredible prawn-loving, cuddly looking, hard working Clive and his Not So Little Man of the magic smile. I do not always comment on your blog, but I love reading about you guys, and I always smile while doing so. ;-)

Now for the Queen of the Blog Post, the woman who says things just as they are, who does not mince her words yet uses her Ozzy humour (tinged with a dose of Irishness, bound to after a while, isn’t that right?) to tackle all subjects that need to be raised, no matter how difficult. Hammie, I simply love you! So there! :-)

Finally, I cannot resist a little bit of nepotism. Cathal’s Mammy, please receive this Sunshine Award, if nothing else but for being such a fantastic mummy to my precious grandson. And for introducing me to Blogworld in the first place.

I know some of you have already received this award. If so, just take it again, and make a bouquet. If this is your first, and you feel like spreading the sunshine, don’t hesitate to do so.

In the mean time, thank you all for the lovely moments you give me on the net.

16 February 2010

Beware of Little Old Ladies

They may not be so innocent.

In fact, they may be down right nasty.

Take Granny O’Grimm for example:

I just love this film. It is so funny. It has so unnerving.

And she is so vicious. Yet she seems to have so many reasons to be! I can definitely see her point.

And I love the song during the credits...

Not all grannies are like Granny O’Grimm. Not all grannies scare and traumatise children in such a manner at bedtime. Even tales of Aliens lurking around the garden and house to steal our Underpants, or imitations of Wild Things Rolling their Terrible Eyes, and Gnashing their Terrible Teeth, and Roaring their Terrible Roars can actually be soothing. The fact that Cathal often falls asleep in my arms after I read him his bedtime story is a convincing proof, isn’t it? (Though please do not tell the Mammy that this is the way we prefer to do, as both Cathal and myself know he is supposed to go to sleep on his own, like a big boy, after the goodnight-hug. So let’s keep this one secret, ok?)

Sweet little Granny O’Grimm must have impressed quite a few people with her version of Sleeping Beauty, as she is soon going off to Hollywood, early March to be precise. For she has been nominated for an Oscar, in the Best Animated Short Film category. She is so thrilled about it that she has even recorded a messsage on this occasion:

Oh, what I would not give to witness Ms O’Grimm meeting “Brad Clooney”!

Best of luck to Granny, and to this little gem of Irishness: Brownbagfilms

13 February 2010

Prince Charming

So it’s Valentine season again.

Who wants a lovey dovey card?

Who wants a bouquet of red roses?

Who wants a box of chocolates?

Or a nice romantic dinner?

I like receiving cards, but where expressions of love are concerned, somehow the mass-produced sickly-sweet hastily signed card does not cut it. A personal message, from the heart, carries more weight.

I love flowers, roses, white lilies, and above all tiger lilies (as well as the look, it’s the smell, you see). The majority of bouquets on the market at this time of the year have travelled from so far, they probably won’t last the cosy heat of any home for more than two days.

I love chocolate too, not so much milk chocolate, but the really black one, and above all I adore white chocolate. But in moderation, because it’s addictive, and too much hardship attempting to loose those superfluous calories.

As for dinner, I love food, nice food, different food, I love eating out. But a totally filled restaurant where the staff is trying to cope with two rounds of bookings on the same night, just because it is the 14th February, is not my idea of romantic.

This year, my Little Price Charming (his new name as of last night) gave me much more.
He was about to go bed for the night. For once, I was not getting him ready as I usually do when I am there, as I was going off. So I gave him a kiss and asked him if he would like to give me one. He just looked at me. When he was much smaller, he used to smudge my face with a drooling and dribbling wide-open mouth. Then he grew up somewhat and became conscience of his own body, and with that of his personal boundaries. It did not stop him from letting me hug him and kiss him, but kisses from him were off the menu.

So last night I was not expecting anything. Until the Mammy suggested I present my cheek close to his mouth. And there it was, the sweetest, gentlest, most delicate kiss I have received from a little boy in a long time. So much so that I chanced my luck, asked him for another one, turned my head to present the other cheek. . . and there it was again. And again. And again. Eventually, there was no asking or prompting needed, no presenting of the right or the left cheek. Even my nose got softly hit!

I fell under the charm of my Little Prince the first time I saw him, only a few hours old, in the ICU of the Coombe Maternity Hospital, while we were all waiting for the ambulance to take him to the Cardiac Ward in Crumlin. He was perfect. Just simply perfect. And so cute I could not resist him.

Now, 23 months later, every time I see him he uses his cuteness to renew his Love Spell on me.

After such a simple, precious moment, who needs a cheesy card or tired roses? Fattening chocolates or queuing for a table?

07 February 2010

Normal, Average, and Foxy Business

Or Coming out - Epilogue

February 2010 has started much milder than the end of 2009 and January 2010. I woke up yesterday morning to the sight of a pheasant going about his pheasanty business on the green that my bedroom window overlooks. Spring may be coming.

I often see pheasants there on weekend mornings, and more often than not I actually see several of them together, the most was last spring when seven of them (hens and cocks) were inspecting the green for over an hour. This is one reason I opted to live on the edge of a village rather than in the Big City: I looking at the spread of miles and miles of countryside from my sitting room, I like the sight of greenery, of fields, of trees as I commute morning and evening – during at least 8 months of the year, as in the dead of winter leaving and returning in the dark is unfortunately my lot.

But January did not want to let go of its reputation for coldest month ever. The last weekend of it offered nights with a sharpness that reminded us Winter was not gone or dead and buried yet! Thus Sunday morning found my village encased in a thick crust of frost that did not melt until well after noon.

Though I do not like mornings, I love weekend mornings, when I can laze in bed with a book and a large pot of coffee, leisurely feasting on both. So there I was mid-morning last Sunday when, as I refilled my jumbo cup, I looked out the window to check on the frost, and I saw this:

He took his time, patrolling the green in a seemingly systematic way, probably picking up scents, trails, and proof of various prey’s activities.

Being in the country, this should not have surprised me. Yet it did: though as I said I have often seen pheasants in this same spot, this is the first time I have witnessed a fox there. Because, contrary to what we may think, foxes do not particularly like the country. They much prefer cities. In fact the highest concentration of fox population in Ireland is in Dublin. In particular they are found in the greatest numbers in very specific areas of the city, where there is plenty of food to scavenge and lots of large gardens with hedges and bushes to hide in.

So what we think as “normal” (e.g. foxes live in the countryside, there is no wildlife in the cities) is very much a false premise. How many such thoughts of Normality are erroneous? Do we confuse “Normal” with “Expected”, or do we confuse “Normal” with “Average”?

Some months ago I found myself spending some time with a group of people with various types of disabilities, and we came to discuss the perception of Disability, and then moved on to what is a “normal” person. One man there reported on a simple study that for him had put a lot of things into perspective. I do not have all the precise details of this study, nor who carried it out, etc... So what follows does not purport to be highly scientific. However what I remember is this: the study took 100 “normal” people, e.g. representing a cross-section of society and not claiming to have any disability. They were asked 7 simple questions concerning daily tasks, such as for example “Can you read or drive without the assistance of aids such as glasses or contact lenses?” – meaning: do you have “normal” vision? Anyone who answered NO to any one of the seven questions was directed to one corner of the room, the others who answered YES to all seven questions were sent to another corner. Once all 100 people were thus questioned, the YES corner had an impressive total of... two.

Just two people were “normal”, the other 98 needed the aid or assistance of an implement or a devise of some sort to carrying out at least one daily task we all take for granted. This truly puts the notion of “normality” into perspective. And it brought me to wonder if what we call “normal” shouldn’t be redefined as “average”. Take vision: if we expect most people to have “normal” vision: e.g. to see near and far without the need for any assistance; If on average 50% of people can read without glasses, and if on average 50% of people can drive without them, how many require glasses in neither case? Logically, it could well be 25%. This minority becomes the norm. Our society is constructed on our perception of The Norm, on averages that we conveniently forget to combine.

The over-use of “the average person” has brought us such spread of aberrations as:
- exam marking-schemes (retaining zillions of one-liner facts and figures and regurgitating them at lighting writing-speed can favour only one type of student),
- fashion ideals (in reality, how many people look with those models?),
- slip-screen TV programmes - ask someone who is dyslexic to follow a news report while simultaneously reading the name of the interviewee with all his credentials in one corner of the screen and important facts bearing value to the interview at the bottom of it, both going at different speeds, and his or her reaction you may help you to understand what I am talking about.

I never considered myself “abnormal”. However I no longer consider myself “normal”. I see me as me. I still would not advertise in a working environment my reading / writing / sequencing / retaining-information peculiarities, but I have been much more at ease with them in the last year or so. And when it comes down to it, Dyslexia is only one aspect, along with other facets of myself, of what makes me... me ;-)

As Elbog mentioned in his comment to my last post, Cathal’s diagnostic has certainly shifted my perceptive on what I may view as The Norm, to an extent that I often stop myself, as I am about to utter what I would have previously thought of as the truth, and soften my thought by rephrasing it. In fact, the word “normal” is on the endangered-words list of my vocabulary. When trying to “educate” people around me I never say “normal children do this, or have that, where as children with DS...” Instead I say “Children with DS tend to... and children who do not have DS tend to...”


Like foxes thriving in cities.