The Pain of Golfing – Recycled Sundays

I spotted a T-shirt the other day that read, “Those who can, golf. Those who can’t, golf anyway.” I imagine many of us can identify with that. I certainly can. I have golfed less than a dozen times, but last year I moved up a rank. Not because of a better score – I still reached the counting limits at most of the holes – because I now have my own clubs.

I’m hoping the close proximity of this athletic equipment might soak some awareness into my subconsciousness. So far, all I know is that the fat club is for teeing off, the putter is for the green near the hole, and some club in the middle is for everything else.

I’m always amazed at how serious people take a sport that is so charming. Basically, it’s one level up from schoolyard marbles. And how many other sports do you know that involves puppets? Oh, I know, the pros don’t call them that. Professionals say the little sockies over the clubs are supposed to protect them from banging against each other. In my case, that seems a little redundant. It’s okay to whack balls, tees, clumps of earth, and the occasional tree, but I mustn’t let them bang against each other.

I’ve seen these club socks come in various shapes and sizes. One woman had the entire Muppet set, I swear. I think perhaps they should worry more about the puppets banging together. What if they reproduce? Soon, there won’t be enough room in the bag for all the clubs, balls, tees, drinks, bug spray, sunscreen, tissues, rag, coin purse, sunglasses, scarf, and car keys. I can envision Animal and Piggy tossing things out at the bag every time a golfer turns her back.

Actually, I view the club socks as one more thing to lose. I can imagine myself retracing my steps, asking people if they’d seen my Lambchop or Grover. I often lose my tees, more often than my ball, and I swear the hole keeps moving.

How come, with one swing of my club, I can drive the tee inches into the ground, but after a dozen swings with a hammer, I still can’t drive a nail? I play most of the game as a “teetotaler.” If I’m more than a little out of whack that day, a bruise will start forming on the palm of my hand from slamming the ground instead of the ball. I know it’s cheating, but I’ve started to use the tee on most of my strokes. I figure the greens-keeper appreciates it. Better a few more dozen broken tees than divots.

An acquaintance once told me I could improve if I used the seven iron near the green and choked up on. By that point, I not only want to choke it, but hang, draw, and quarter it as well.

Occasionally I do have a decent game. Inevitably, then, the gods laugh and send thunder and lightning to celebrate. I’ve never considered a par four worth dying for or even having my belt buckle permanently fused to my belly button. But there are those who would play through if Noah started building an ark on the sixth hole. I prefer the safety of the club house where I discovered there are more golf magazines printed than bridal or homemaker issues combined. Unfortunately, my hands were too sore to turn the pages.

The Chronicle-Journal /regional Newspaper

May 2, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Poppa’s Goat written by Gary Hutchison. Illustrated by Gordon Court. Book Review.

This picture book tells the story of a grandfather who is fed up with the mess the paperboy makes delivering flyers. Instead of coming to the front door, the boy leaves the flyers on the front lawn where they blow all over the yard. Poppa’s granddaughter, Madeleine, comes to visit and misunderstands the phrase, “paperboy really gets his goat.”

Madeleine and Poppa build a box for the paperboy’s flyers and attach it to the fence in the front yard. Unfortunately, robins come and build a nest in the box so the papers wind up everywhere again. Madeleine and Poppa pick up the papers and create a papier-mâché figure representing the paperboy. The grandfather gives it to the dog who tears it to pieces. Funny and a little bit creepy at the same time.

Finally, the grandfather takes Madeline and their dog Stanley to a farm where they purchase a goat as a pet. Poppa specifically wants Little Goat to live in the backyard and eat the grass. But every Thursday, “he will go in the front yard and eat the flyers the paperboy puts on the ground. Goats love to eat paper.” The goat performs as expected. Madeleine and her grandparents celebrate with chocolate milk. The little goat curls up with the dog to sleep.

The illustrations are excellent. Gordon Court has an interesting angular style of drawing. Although the pictures are probably done on computer they feel close to hand drawn pen and ink outlines with color and shading.

The story is cute and funny and lends itself well to discussions of idioms, problem solving, and the raising of goats. On that last subject, please be sure to explain to the child that although goats love paper, giving it to them in great bunches as a regular diet is a bad idea. The paper has no nutritional value and a kid (baby goat) with a full stomach will not be able to eat his proper food to aid in growth. Eating too much paper can cause a blockage in the goat’s bowels, a major threat to his life. Flyers often contain toxic ink and full colored glossy pages are particularly poisonous. As well it looks like Poppa lives in the city where having a goat for a pet is not ideal. Be sure to explain to your child that this story is written just in fun.

The relationship between Madeleine and grandparents is positive and heartwarming. Perhaps you and your child could brainstorm as to how the two of them could solve this problem in a different way such as putting up a “No flyers please.” sign or hanging a paper box with a lid.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

So Close It Hurt – Recycled Sundays

 

If I counted the hours I’ve spent filling out entries for sweepstakes and draws and multiplied it by minimum wage, then added in money I’ve spent on tickets, I could probably pay for my dream holiday: a cross-country balloon ride.

But the lure of winning some thing still draws me like a gape- mouthed, bug-eyed bass waiting to be clubbed. The chance to win an unusual prize is irresistible. It’s pretty senseless, considering that even when I win, I lose.

The first competition I remember winning was an environmental poster contest in grade 4. Mine illustrated the damage caused by litter to wildlife. I won a set of fishing lures, which I never dared use because I might actually catch a gape-mouthed, bug-eyed bass and have to club him on the head.

A month before my wedding, I correctly guessed the weight of a gold brick and won two enormous blue glass ashtrays. Not only do neither my husband nor I smoke, but our home is a no smoking zone. We used the ashtrays as candy dishes for a few years before selling them for $.25 at a garage sale.

My children seem to have better luck. My daughter won a poster contest which provided her with more chocolate than I like to see her eat in a month. Then, in a final round, she won her 85th stuffed toy, a four-foot-high Peter Rabbit which continues to trip me to this day.

My children have won books, small toys, and theater tickets over the years. This inspires me to keep trying for the big prize: air fare to Toronto for a weekend of theater, or a train ride through the Rockies, or the primitive thrill balloon ride which has fired my imagination since I first read Around the World in 80 Days. At least it did until Canada Day, 1990, a date that lives in infamy.

We attended the anniversary celebration at Chippewa Park. With Anne of Green Gables style enthusiasm, I entered my name for a draw. Not just an ordinary draw. The draw of a lifetime. Four lucky winners would be picked to go for balloon ride. Not up and down on a rope, but across country, riding on the wind. Unfettered, free, gloriously at one with the elements.

“Would you like to enter?” The woman behind the table asked my children.

“Sure,” they replied.

A week later, I received a telephone call. My daughter’s name had been drawn for the balloon ride.

“The handwriting looks like a child’s,” said the young man.

“She’s 11,” I responded.

“I thought so,” he said. “Sorry, but she’s disqualified. She has to be 18.”

I explained how she had come to fill out the ticket. That was too bad. I offered to take her place. No substitutions allowed. I offered to pretend to be her. Sorry he had already selected another name. Why then had he phoned? He thought we should know.

Of course. Just like we should know that french fries have too much cholesterol, taxes have not reduce the national debt, and areas the size of France have been clear-cut in British Columbia. I live for the joy of acquiring this kind of knowledge.

I still haven’t given up on contests. Charitable draws and lottery tickets still find their way into my pockets. I figure after such a cruel twist of luck, the fates owe me. Now if I could just suppress the need to pop every stupid balloon I see.

November 10, 1991.

Wolfie by Ame Dyckman. Book Review.

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 Click here to buy Wolfie the Bunny

Ame Dyckman answers the ever puzzling question of nature versus nurture. She comes down squarely on the side of nurture.

In this story, a wolf pup is left on the doorstep of a rabbit family. Mama and Papa instantly love the baby wolf but their daughter, Dot, lives in terror of being eaten. Wolfie, who constantly wears a pink bunny onesie, adores Dot and follows her everywhere. The wolf is raised on carrots but still grows to be more than twice the size of Dot who continues to keep her eye on him. When a bear tries to eat Wolfie, mistaking him for a pink bunny, Dot comes to her adopted brother’s rescue. After this, Wolfie adores her even more and Dot accepts and trusts him.

This is an hilarious story about the power of love and inclusion.

OHora outlines his characters in thick black lines. He uses only yellow, cream, white, green, black, red, pink, and grey in his pallet. There is no blue, purple, or brown. It gives the pictures a soft, sweet tone.

Whenever Dot is claiming, “He’s going to eat us all up!” the font changes, the letters are in bold text, and words are out of alignment. This brings home her dramatic terror.

This combination of writing and illustration has produced a book that is sure to be a family favorite.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Only in Canada! From the Colossal to the Kooky by Vivien Bowers. Book Review.


buy link – Only in Canada!: From the Colossal to the Kooky (Wow Canada!)

This hefty, nonfiction 95 page book has a humorous approach to engaging the reader. Scattered throughout the book are the narrators, a Canada goose and the moose, dressed in full clothing and making comments, some helpful and some silly.

There are six chapters in the book. The first is “Amazing Facts about How Canada Was Bashed, Pummelled, Scrunched, and Scraped into the Shape It’s in Today”. The humour and hyperbole draw the reader in to learn about tectonic plates, the Great Lakes, earthquakes, volcanoes, ice and more.

Chapter 2 is “Naturally and Wildly Canadian”. The author promises to share the “weird, intriguing, obnoxious, badly behaved, and utterly improbable plants and animals that exist in Canada.” I was not at all surprised to learn that Canada has one million square kilometers of muskeg.” Just try digging anywhere in my neighbourhood. I was surprised to learn puffins have a regular beak underneath their big fancy one, which they drop off after they win the female. Hmmm. Typical.

The only thing I must warn you about is if you need reading glasses, make sure you have them when you open this book. It is jampacked with tiny print. You won’t want to miss any of the fascinating facts and crazy tidbits. I had heard of Gray Owl but not Billy Miner or Two-gun Cohen. There’s even a paragraph about the lines down the middle of the road.

Chapter 3 focuses on the arrival of people. Chapter 4 is about Canada’s modern growth such as the canals, bridges, and buildings. Chapter 5 is about our weather. Yes it does deserve an entire chapter of its own. Chapter 6 is about interesting Canadians and I’m sure you’ll find some you’ve never heard of before.

This is a fun and informative book that may engage children (and adults) in Canadiana who otherwise would not be interested.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Chicken Doesn’t Want to Be Chicken by Elsa Takaoka. Illustrated by Catherine Toennisson. Book Review.

The cover of this book shows the chicken with a bone in his beak which certainly arouses interest and a little unease.

This picture book has few words on each page. It is a “learn to read book”. Takaoka does an admirable job of telling a lively, funny story with simple words.

The story begins, “This is chicken. Chicken does not want to…” It goes on to list all the things that chickens do (hens, actually) such as cluck, peck, and lay an egg. This chicken wants to be a dog. It wants to fetch, bark, and chase. When the chicken begins to emulate a dog’s behavior, it tries to chase a cat. The cat, of course, will not be chased by chicken and turns around, becoming the aggressor instead.

The chicken eventually realizes that she needs to be herself which is a good message.

This is a funny and engaging book with cute illustrations. A nice departure from the often boring I can read.

CLICK ON THE COVERS FOR MORE INFO OR TO BUY THE BOOK.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Kip and Kamuela’s Adventures in Rome by Jonah Christian Hall. Book Review.

Since there is only one name on this book, I assume the illustrations and text are both written by Jonah Christian Hall. The illustrations in this book are lively, professional, and comprehensive. I think they are ink and watercolor. Hall is a talented and amusing artist. He uses point of view and placement to create varied and interesting illustrations. His pictures are often highly dynamic.

The main characters are a brother and sister with naturally blue hair. . The color blue appears in other places, building the reader’s curiosity. Several reasons for this anomaly are proposed but we are never told the actual reason.

The Kingsley family is rich and famous, both parents being actors in demand.

We follow the children, who are being supervised by their grandmother, as they follow their parents being filmed on location in Italy. Step-by-step, we learn about the strategies needed to avoid fans, how to set up and film a movie, and the perks of visiting Rome. The story becomes a discovery of the delights of Italy. The illustrations of this great city are phenomenal.

On page 18 of 25, the story picks up when the children try to rescue a cat and cause a calamity in the market. It culminates in a spectacular crash on the film set. The gelato man, whose business they have disrupted, is given the role of Julius Caesar. At the end the children sit and watch the film while they eat ice cream.

One technical problem is that after a few pages, the verb tense changes from present to pass. It jumps back and forth throughout the book, sometimes switching in the same paragraph.

It is important to set up the main theme, plot and characters on the first page of the picture book. I thought this was going to be a book about why the children had blue hair. The blue hair had nothing to do with the story of exploring Rome and causing a disruption. I waited to see what role the hair color would play in their adventure but we did not return to the subject.

If you are planning on visiting Rome with your children this is a great book to read before you go.

Click on the cover to buy the book.

I was given an ebook copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Princess Crazy

Princesses and little girls who want to be them  – like or dislike? You may love the idea of little girls in fancy gowns and tiaras or you may hate  it. I don’t see it as a simple either/or. Princess Diana did a lot of charity work. She also helped to reduce the stigma against aids and leprosy patients by publicly touching them. I would love for little girls to want to emulate her compassion.

As long as we tell fairy tales, little girls will imagine themselves as Cinderella who was not spoiled. She falls into a grey area… disinherited, worked hard, kind, forgiving, and gutsy. There are definitely some princesses who fall deeply into the SPOILED TOO MUCH category. The Princess and the Pea (also called The Real Princess) tells the story of an ultra diva.

Way back when I was a teacher librarian, I had great fun working with some students on a rap/chant about this fussy royalty. Recently, I made that poem into a video 3 1/2 minute video. I’m sharing the script here with you to use with your daughters and granddaughters, brownies, students, club members, etc. It’s a lot of fun to perform. Please send a picture if you use it.

The video: https://youtu.be/G2-hdRxq5sA

The script:

THE REAL PRINCESS

or

The Princess and the Pea

by Westmount School Primary Young Authors

Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

and Bonnie Ferrante Teacher-Librarian (B. Blake)

April, 1995.

Once upon a time a queen was truly sad.

Where was a real princess to marry her lad?

They searched in Asia, Africa and Japan,

The North Pole, the South Pole, they drove in a van.

They couldn’t find a wife for him anywhere.

They learned a real princess was quite rare.

A real princess. Rare as a jewel.

A real princess. Goes to private school.

 

One looked like a frog. One ate like a pig.

One had rotten teeth and a weird purple wig.

So they gave up searching. They both went home.

To their comfy castle, no more to roam.

Then the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared.

A knock came loudly as the raindrops poured.

It was a wet, ragged girl with knots in her hair.

“I’m a real princess. I was chased by a bear.”

A real princess. Rare as a jewel.

A real princess. Wow! So cool!

 

They invited her in, gave her dry clothes and food.

“I demand a fresh bed,” said the princess. How rude.

The queen piled mattresses, ten, fifteen, twenty.

Slid a pea underneath, and said, “That is plenty.”

The princess tossed and turned. She just couldn’t sleep.

She woke up in the morning and started to weep.

“I have bruises on my back, and I hate that bed.”

“You’re a real princess!” the joyful queen said.

A real princess. Rare as a jewel.

A real princess. One you can’t fool.

 

The princess and the prince were married in June.

The prince found out, she was snobby, by noon.

She complained about dinner. She complained about the ring.

She was never satisfied about a dog-gone thing.

So there’s a lesson to be learned in our story today.

To wed a real princess just doesn’t pay.

A real princess. Rare as a jewel.

A real princess. Throw her in the pool.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Click on the covers for more information about the books.

Another Cruel Invention: Personal Hygiene and Camping. Recycled Sundays.

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Now that the weather is warmer, I see some of my neighbours cleaning out and preparing their campers. I’ve never had one, just a tent. I have fond memories of Sleeping Giant Park and, although it was enjoyable, one thing I disliked about tenting was the struggle for personal hygiene. Going for a shower was a challenge equivalent to hiking The Chimney.

In the evening, enough sand had been tracked in by campers to start a new beach in the comfort station. Little creatures had set up residence. But, it was drier than in the morning because the cleaners were very thorough in washing every tile, bench, shelf and hook. Unfortunately, they were not similarly thorough about drying. I couldn’t sit on the wet bench to dress or undress. There was no place to set my clothes. (By afternoon, other campers had dried off the seat and racks with their towels and clothes.) I carried everything in a plastic bag and dressed in the flamingo position.

I can’t keep up with technology. Only a sadistic individual could have invented the electric eyes or beams or whatever you call them. I think of them as the shower genies. Getting them to work right was as likely as getting a wish granted from a Budweiser bottle on the beach.

If you’ve never had the joy of showering in a comfort station which uses these, let me explain. There are no faucets in the shower stall. Instead, at about shoulder level, is a glass circle the size, appropriately, of a loonie. There are no instructions as to how to work this.

I turned on the water in the bathroom sinks. The slapped the top faucet ran for only five seconds. The electric eye took three or four tries to work but ran the water for a full twenty seconds. I rescued a few bewildered tourists standing in front of the electric eye, slapping the top of the faucet, with their mouths full of toothpaste. But, the shower was beyond my capabilities.

I waved my hand over the shower eye, slowly, quickly, up, down, back and forth. Nothing happened. With all the strategy of Napoleon, I plotted my approach. I tried waving it close to the wall. Far from the wall. Approaching from the left. From the right. I slapped it gently, firmly. I positioned my body as far from the beam as possible. After 67 varieties, the water gushed from the shower head. I leapt in, ignoring the slug making its way up the corner of the tiles. At that point, it would have taken a plague of leeches to budge me.

Just as I poured the shampoo on my hair, the water stopped. I searched the recesses of my camping dulled mind. What was the magic movement that triggered the water? I tried, again, and again. The cold air seeped under the door. My skin resembled the plastic bubble sheets used for packing fragile items. The shampoo solidified on my hair. I considered wrapping it in a towel and rinsing it out in the bathroom sink. The one with the slap the top faucet. Naw! It would probably be in use and then I’d be stuck with the one with the electric eye.

I slapped and waved a few more times, adding a chant. Suddenly the water came on. I shampooed and rinsed at a furious pace. I got the shower back on two more times, enabling me to wash off the layers of sunblock, insect repellent, dirt, insect repellent, campfire smoke, insect repellent, cooking grease, insect repellent, mosquito guts, insect repellent, calamine lotion, insect repellent, sweat, and insect repellent. I wondered if I was creating a new toxic blob in the harbour.

After drying and dressing, while balancing on one foot, I realized I had forgotten my shampoo in the shower stall. As I reached for it, the electric eye was triggered, the water shot out, drenching me. My suspicions were confirmed. The electric beam only worked on the first try when I was fully dressed.

Now that I am older, and a little less sturdy, I restrict my experiences at provincial parks to only day visits. I have always enjoyed and have been deeply grateful for the luxury of a hot shower. So much more so at the end of a day at the beach, in my own bathroom.

Published Sunday, March 30, 2010 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Click on the image for more information about the camping product.

 

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Marital Negotiations – Recycled Sundays

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With spring comes the sound of wedding bells. The following is a list of hints for young wives-to-be. No, they aren’t all from my marriage. In fact at the moment, my husband cooks more often than I do. This is by popular demand since, “Mommy makes weird stuff like tofu guck and puts vegetables in everything.” If it doesn’t come from a box, apparently it’s not real food.

Smart brides-to-be plan ahead. I don’t mean floral arrangements, matchbook covers or double rings. I’m talking about the things that last a lifetime. Like bathtub rings.

Most men are mythologists. Deep down, they believe house god’s come in and do the work if you ignore it long enough. They usually don’t even think of the dirt buildup and so I have used the nag by note method. Other wives use a more direct approach.

One woman I know put the dirty dishes between the sheets on her husband’s side of the bed. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t have twin beds. Another woman frisbeed them out the back door into the snow. Certainly not recommended for good China and best when at least 4 inches of snow has fallen.

Because of the hunting instinct, men enjoy setting booby traps. Be prepared to constantly trip over boots in the hallway or clothes on the bedroom floor. It’s always fun to play along by enriching his tracking skills. Kick the clothes under the bed or toss the boots down into the basement. Look bewildered when he asks if you saw anything.

Watch for the “what will our friends think?” mode sabotaging your plans for equality. When you’re expecting visitors, divide up the jobs fairly, do yours, and then disappear. You don’t need the stress of watching him spread the wax 30 minutes before they arrived and he doesn’t need the suggestion to use an old toothbrush on the baseboards.

When the children are clothed by Daddy, ignore little things like shirts on inside out, knee patches behind the knees, and blouses as worn as dresses. If daddy thinks it works and the child is warm and happy, let it be. Who knows? They may set a trend.

Fathers teach such important skills as differentiating between Taco and Tortilla chips, 300 uses for Cheeze Wiz, how to look clean without really washing your face, 47 obscene noises you can make with body parts, and how to turn a sock into a puppet while you’re still wearing it. It never hurts for them to also teach their sons non-gender related skills, such as how to roll undershirts into knotty little balls so that more can fit into the drawer.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to show your husband that you appreciate some recognition as well. Many men never actually realize that people track dirt onto the carpet, make messes in the refrigerator, or smudge the walls. Subtle remarks like, “Don’t the hall walls shine since I spent four hours scrubbing them?” may alert him.

If your husband feels “henpecked and hard done by”, encourage him to run off with a maid. It will serve him right. You and I know in two months, shall be tossing his boots into the street and billing him for it.

Don’t be surprised if your husband develops arrogance about his role. He may remind you that your friends’ husbands don’t do half of what he does. Smile graciously and reply, “That’s why you’re lucky enough to have me, darling.”

Published Sunday, May 17, 1992 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages