Benefit for Morley Pinsent

Twenty-one years ago, Morley Pinsent was the first person on Prince Edward Island I ever talked to on the telephone (also, via ye olde campinse@atlas.cs.upei.ca on the old UPEI CA*Net service, he was the first person on PEI I ever exchanged email with).

Morley was contracted by the PEI Crafts Council to manage the ACOA-funded project that originally brought me to the Island and it’s not an exaggeration to say that if not for the good humour and good welcome he gave me and, later, in the tutoring to understand “the Island Way of Life” that Morley gave me, I might not still be here.

There’s not a better man to be found on PEI.

Morley’s currently undergoing treatment for cancer and there’s a benefit to help him out being held on April 6, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at the Cymbria Lions Club in South Rustico. I’m going, and encourage you to go to.

Morley’s worked as a consultant for as long as long, and consultants don’t get health plans; as such, Morley could use a hand from those who are in a position to help out a little.

If you want to donate something for the silent auction, or otherwise help out, call Anne Marie Buote (963-2615) or Cecelia Doiron (963-2703).

What brings you out here?

We were out at the airport on Friday picking up Ethan and Catherine when I spotted our next door neighbours, Bob and Dorothy.

“Oh, hi there… what brings you folks out here today?”, I greeted them.

“We’re picking up our grandson,” Bob replied.

“Oh, he’s old enough to travel by himself?”, I asked.

“Well, he’s a Crown Prosecutor, so… yes”, replied Dorothy.

Did I mention that I’m not a good judge of people’s ages?

How to Get to Toronto Pearson Airport by Public Transit

Toronto’s Pearson Airport is surprisingly easy to get to via public transit:

  1. Get on the Bloor-Danforth subway and ride west to the very end of the line, the Kipling station. This run takes about 25 minutes from the Bloor/Yonge station.
  2. At the Kipling station get on the 192 Airport Rocket bus. No need to pay another fare.
  3. About 20 minutes later, get off at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3.
  4. There is no step four.

The whole trip, from anywhere on the TTC’s network, costs only $3 a person ($2 for kids). Compare that to about $20 a person for the private airport bus, which is only 20 minutes faster, and your thrifty side will thank you. Beware that if you are traveling at rush hour you may find that the cramped TTC subway passages, filled with obstructions and inconvenient doorways, make this a more challenging trip than you would like, especially if you’re traveling with children; in this case the extra $17 might just be worth it.

Update: thanks to a Facebook comment from Nancy White, I’ve since realized that you don’t even need a transfer at Kipling, as the bus terminal is inside the “fare paid” zone, so you just exit the subway, go up the escalator, and get on the bus.

Oliver and Ethan

As it happened, Oliver and I were still in Ontario when it was time for Ethan’s graduation from his 10 days of training, and so we hopped on th GO Train to Oakville last night to participate.

While some of the other programs at Lions Foundation Dog Guides involve a much longer training time, a lot of Ethan’s training will happen back home in Charlottetown, as that’s when his bonding with Oliver starts, so while other programs have a more “graduation”-like graduation, the Autism Assistance Dog program’s is more of a “meet and greet”: an opportunity for the dogs’ foster families (who raised them for their first year, as volunteers) to reconnect with their once-puppies and to meet the families who will take over from here.

We went along a little early so that Oliver could meet Ethan outside of the public event (as families in the program come from across Canada, it’s unusual for clients like Oliver to actually see the school and attend the event, but it’s welcomed when the opportunity presents). We walked up to Catherine’s room with Alissa, one of Ethan’s trainers, and knocked on the door. Catherine made sure Ethan was secured, and then the smelling and hi-howya-doing began; after a few minutes of this, Ethan and Oliver were comfortable enough to get close:

Ethan Meets Oliver

They seem to like each other, which is a good sign.

The rest of the night was, as you might expect, an emotional time. Ethan’s foster family are from Etobicoke, and Ethan was their 10th and (they say) final foster; they still care for his grandfather, though, so they’re still involved in the program. They obviously have great affection for Ethan, and it was clear that Ethan had a stressful night of divided loyalties that will take a while to work out of his system.

For my parents and brother and sister-in-law who came along too it was a rare one-time-only chance to interact with Ethan up close and personal (i.e. they were allowed to pet him); I think the feeling is that (a) it’s impossible to restrain family members and (b) it’s a sort of all-bets-are-off free-form of an evening anyway, so, okay, just this once.

By 8:30 p.m. it was time to head back to Toronto. We said our goodbyes to family and to Ethan and headed out into the rainy night.

We’re back to PEI today; Ethan and Catherine fly tomorrow morning (Ethan, as a dog guide, gets to fly inside the cabin at Catherine’s feet) and then the real process of settling Ethan into the life of our family begins.

As Ethan won’t join Oliver at school for six months to a year, he’ll be in training with Catherine and I during the day. So I’ll be the guy at Casa Mia with an adorable red-vested poodle that you can’t pet sitting at his feet.

June Cleave and the Toothbrush Painting

My mother mentioned yesterday that June Cleave had died.

June — Mrs. Cleave to me — was a grade one teacher at Balaclava Elementary School which I attended for grades 2 and 3. She was never my teacher, but she taught all of my little brothers.

Which is not to say that she didn’t touch my life: I was in Ms. Abrams class in grade 2 and, one day, our art activity was to make “toothbrush paintings”: take an old toothbrush, dip it in paint, and spritz the paint onto paper making an interesting-looking patterns.

Except that, for me, the notion of mixing toothbrushes, clearly intended for brushing your teeth and painting, clearly nothing to do with brushing your teeth was anathema.

I refused.

And refused.

Feet may have been stamped.

And thus I was placed at a desk in the hall as punishment (that’s how schools rolled in the 1970s).

Mrs. Cleave, bless her heart, happened to walk by while I was in toothbrush prison, and she took a moment to ask what was happening, and spoke to me like a real person and acknowledged that yes, perhaps the notion of toothbrush painting might actually be distressing. She wasn’t a rebel, she didn’t try and bust me out nor break ranks with her fellow teacher, but she showed compassion when compassion was needed.

It was one of those seemingly-insignificant little moments that stick with you, and it’s an episode that I return to often in my idle moments: every interaction matters, and when you can extend a hand, you should.