May 2012 | Autism | Autism Spectrum

Planet Nilknarf

May 2012

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Welcome to Planet Nilknarf....

….the magazine that not only ACCEPTS but CELEBRATES Granny Panties and Birkenstocks in a “Thong-and-Stilletto” World Greetings and Salutations! As you can see, I'm certainly not the only one who's enjoyed playing a few April Fools Day pranks on the Internet over the years. I was looking at stuff about Niagara Falls and I came across this precious gem: If all goes as planned I shall be sharing highlights of our Salubrious Getaway to Niagara Falls, as well as highlights from the upcoming HAADD concert event! I am happy to say that I've ALREADY made my arrangements to go to this year's National Carousel Association Convention in St. Joseph, Michigan. If you're not a member of the NCA and wish to join, you can find everything you need to know right here: When I first heard it would be in Michigan I naively assumed that it would be close because it's just across the border. Heck, Detroit and Sarnia are practically next door neighbours! But I was wrong! I was totally oblivious to how massively humongous the state of Michigan really is!! To me, Michigan is shaped like a giant oven mitt. Saginaw is in the crook of the thumb and Detroit is somewhere close to the tip of the thumb. Where I need to go is the far corner where you'd find the look to hang the mitt on the wall! That's where THREE states are basically smooshed together in very close proximity! St. Joseph, Michigan is actually closer to CHICAGO, so when I land in Chicago, Illinois I have to get on a bus that takes me to Michigan City, Indiana and from there our group will take our shuttle buses to our respective hotels! There are THREE to choose from this year and I chose the least expensive of the three, which, also, amazingly, is the BEST. Before I made my decision I phoned the hotel to ask the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION!! Do the rooms have BATHTUBS!!! At least I already knew, to my delight, that the place I'm staying has a POOL AND a HOT TUB. The more “soak-able” sources of water the better! Even if I don't actually get around to using them I'm at peace knowing that they're there. The crappy place we stayed last year

had NONE of those things and I literally felt like a fish out of water. I found out later that there were actually only SIX rooms with bathtubs. However those who were able to trade for them had to sacrifice counter space. Meh, counter space is over-rated. I'll do ANYTHING for a bathtub! Even if I have to sleep hanging upside-down in a closet! When I was at the travel agent buying my plane ticket I experienced a bit of drama thanks to my sensory issues! Go figure, drama seems to be my lot in life. There's no escape from it. While we were doing my transaction the most horrible music was playing! It was one of those squangy caterwauling pop divas who sounds like she's giving birth to an Oldsmobile!! In order to block her out I shoved an earplug into my left ear. I never go anywhere without earplugs, sunglasses or my MP3 player! Unfortunately, I'd shoved my earplug in so far I couldn't get it back out again. They should make earplugs with STRINGS like tampons!! My travel agent suggested I go to the clinic, that I'd probably make it worse trying to do it myself! But I was getting hungry and I wanted to get home so I could at least have lunch and I did not feel like that long walk to the glacier clinic. Especially when it appeared to be getting overcast out there. God knows how long I would have been sitting in that waiting room. And there would probably be the usual baby getting the usual needle! AAARGH!! Plus I wanted to phone Janette during her lunch break like I usually do. So I went into the bathroom and fished the darned thing out with TWEEZERS! TA-DAAAAAH! SUCCESS!!! And after I got off the phone with Janette I was able to make my hotel reservation and my convention registration. This year you can do it all on line!! That saved me a trip to the bank. The St. Joseph carousel has an AMAZING website. Here's what I like best! COLOURING PICTURES!! You can find them right here! I am always collecting colouring pictures and books because I like to use them in my embroidery when I make my quilts. I want to use these ones for the top row of the quilt I'm making now so that when I sell that particular quilt, the St. Joseph carousel will receive a generous donation from what I earn for it. In the meantime here's a video about vintage fairground rides somebody shared with the NCA's group on Facebook: I thought it was interesting that “Salt and Pepper Shaker” rides already existed back in the 50's! I haven't been on one of those things in YEARS! However, I'm afraid if I did go on one nowadays I'd probably feel sick! They also show a “Caterpillar” ride! I loved that ride when I was a kid and the last time I went on one that was really complete was when I was in Calgary in 1987. The Caterpillar ride at Idlewilde Park in Pennsylvania does NOT have the folding canopy that makes this ride what it's SUPPOSED to be! The Caterpillar without its canopy is basically a lame version of “Muzik Express.” Here's another video that has nothing to do with carousels or amusements but I found it to be very entertaining. Here's what inanimate objects do when we leave the room:

It reminded me of my days in Toronto when I worked in the doll store. Every night before I closed up shop, and even nowadays sometimes when I have a sale like the Symposium when I have to leave merchandise in a place overnight it is my regular ritual to say “Good Night, Dollies. See you in the morning! Don't Party too hard!” Well, back when we had that dear nook little shop on College Street I arrived one day to find two Raggedy Andy dolls on the floor. They actually looked like they had been FIGHTING!! And one of our life-sized Furga baby dolls had smudges around her mouth like she'd been eating CHOCOLATE!!! For people with no kids my husband and I still have plenty of toys around the house! You can't go anywhere without finding stuffed animals and/or action figures. In fact it's perfectly normal to walk into our living-room and see KISS riding my Franklin Mint carousel figurines! And I tell myself I don't need anymore stuffed animals but I always end up coming home from any given vacation with at least one! Especially for Janette's and my dolls!

I couldn't resist. The horses on the right came from the Riverfront Looff carousel in Spokane, Washington when I went to the 2010 NCA convention. I knew when I bought them that I couldn't wait to do THIS with them!!! The giraffes, whom I named “Gene” and “Shannon” came from the Cheyenne Mountain Park zoo during the 2011 one. That's the place where I actually fed a giraffe! What a wonderful moment!! :)

Autism OVER-Awareness Month
I hate to admit it, but I've been experiencing burnout from Information Overload! Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably know that April has been Autism Awareness Month. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I think it's a wonderful idea. But my in-box is constantly being inundated with more email than I can handle so I decided to leave just about EVERY Facebook group I belong to (at least temporarily?) unless they have the word “carousel” in their title. Don't get me wrong. Being autistic myself, having Asperger's Syndrome, I care very much about this cause. Back when I was first diagnosed, hardly anything was known about the autism spectrum. I lived my life in a fog because I did not know I was autistic. I just always knew I was different and more sensitive than most people. It wasn't until just before my 40th birthday I finally found out why.

At that time there was hardly any information on the subject. There was nothing in our library and only ONE book available about Asperger's Syndrome in ADULTS. And that was Lawrence Osborne's book “American Normal.” At the time I printed out every link I could find on the Internet and kept it all in my Red Folder. Nowadays the library shelves practically GROAN from the weight of so many books on the subject of autism. Back when I first discovered I was on the spectrum I was relieved and excited. I felt like I'd discovered a new country, or even more accurately, found my home planet! Everything finally made sense. Now there are so many books, links, groups, organizations and events I feel like I've heard it all before. And the amount of information, statistics, theories and programs keeps growing. My own thoughts and ideas are lost in the shuffle. Here's the latest “shocking” statistic. The count has now drastically jumped from 1 in 150 to 1 in 88 children being diagnosed with some form of autism. A poster that was circulating on Facebook with a picture of a crown had the caption “TIME TO PANIC: 1 in 88 diagnosed with autism.” To that I created my OWN rebuttal:

Go figure! Neurotypicals are always telling US to “Get used to it!” And theories have been spreading like wildfire throughout the years about causes and “cures”. Don't even get me started on the whole VACCINE debate! I ain't touching that subject with a ten-foot pole!!! What causes autism? Inquiring minds want to know! And frankly some of us don't give a shit anymore. It's more like what DOESN'T cause autism!!!! People blame it on the environment. They blame it on chemicals in food. They blame it on genetics. The latest piece of drivel I've heard is that children with autism are more likely to be born from mothers who are overweight or obese! Give me a break! My personal theories are as follows. I blame it on the law of MULTIPLICITY!! In our already overpopulated world there are more and more children born in general so chances are more and more of them are likely to be born with SOMETHING. Cases of EVERYTHING have increased; diabetes, multiple sclerosis, ADD. ADHD, you name it. Not to mention that kids have more allergies than they did a decade or two ago. And diagnosis is more abundant because there are more TRIGGERS around. Face it, the world is a noisier, smellier, more crowded place than it was a decade or two ago! Even I have meltdowns

occasionally from the sensory overload that closes in on me! When I was a kid, shopping plazas and supermarkets played nice, quiet instrumental music. If I had to identify an artist it would probably be the Bert Kempfer orchestra, James last or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana brass. Nowadays you're more likely to be serenaded by some caterwauling pop diva who wails out each word with as many syllables as possible. It sounds like someone being tortured. And because it sounds like someone crying, it makes babies cry too. This starts off a chain reaction. When one starts crying they all do. Add those horrendous florescent lights. I don't notice their humming but other people on the spectrum notice not only the hum but the flicker. It's like a high-speed strobe. Some shops nowadays also have a system that plays a high-pitched buzzed that only young people are supposed to hear. This is supposed to discourage teenagers from loitering about the premises. Although I am in my late 40's, I too can hear this buzz loud and clear. It doesn't bother me, but I am abundantly aware of it. Especially since I notice babies can't stand it either. The Detroit bus terminal is a prime example of this phenomena. There is a constant annoying buzz and EVERY time I'm there my eardrums are assaulted by crying babies. Another place where children act up is the food court. Malls didn't used to have food courts. But nowadays the constant assault of smells can drive some children, autistic or otherwise, into a meltdown mode! I'm not bothered by the smell of the food court but I can relate because there are certain smells I cannot tolerate. I can barely breathe when the card and gift shops are unloading a new shipment of potpourri and/or scented candles and I can't stand the smell of those horrendous canned pasta dishes my husband sometimes likes to cook for himself when he's on afternoon shift. To me stuff like Alpha-Ghetti or Chef Boy-Ar-Dee smell like VOMIT!! And now with this increase in the diagnosis of autism, it's fine and dandy to be AWARE of autism, but what are we actually going to DO about it? Health care in the States doesn't pay for everything. Not enough teachers are qualified to help students with special needs. Autism is an “invisible” disorder so parents and teachers may not understand why their children are acting up if they haven't been diagnosed yet. What children (and adults!) with autism need is patience, understanding, empathy, compassion and unconditional love. We need to learn things at our own pace and we DON'T need judgment or being made to feel bad about our special interests. It takes an effort from the teacher or therapist working with the individual on the spectrum to GET TO KNOW that person in order to find out what WORKS to motivate them. We need to work at our own pace in order to process things properly. Through trial and error, and sometimes it feels like mostly error, we learn to develop strategies that work for us and nobody should take those things away from us. In recent years I've learned to not go ANYWHERE without my sunglasses, earplugs or MP3 player. Temple Grandin was right when she said that often having autism is like having a hearing aid turned on LOUD and being unable to turn it down. I had to use earplugs at the travel agency when this horrible singer was caterwauling in the background and while I was standing in line at the bank because everything was so yackety and echoey! And there are SO MANY charities and organizations that one has to choose carefully in order to decide which ones to be affiliated with! Autism Speaks especially has a bad reputation among our community for its pity-propaganda, portraying worst-case scenarios and promoting pre-natal testing. If children could be aborted just because we might be autistic a lot of us great minds would not be here! It's basically just another form of genocide. I am basically sitting on the fence in the pro-life debate. Personally I believe that everyone has a right to exist and life really does begin at conception. But a woman has the right to do what she wants with her body and if her health and safety are in jeopardy it might not be safe to continue her pregnancy. Too many children are born to people who aren't qualified to be parents and subject to lives of abuse and neglect. Parenting isn't for everyone and those who are considering being parents really should

be ready for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Especially with this increase in the diagnosis of autism. Too many parents don't get educated about the subject because they're thinking “Oh no, not MY kid!” And then it happens and they're all like “OH NOOOOO! It's the end of the world!” I see posters on Facebook with slogans like “Autism is not the end of the world, it's the beginning of another” and “Autism isn't a processing error, it's a different operating system.” Such sayings are probably of little comfort when your six-year-old still isn't talking or toilet-trained. If you're in a wheelchair there are ramps. If you're blind there is braille. If you're deaf there's hearing aids. Personally, because the world has become so crowded and hectic, I think autism is nature's way of telling the world to SLOW DOWN and BE QUIETER!! Pace yourselves. Recognize triggers. Take time to smell the roses..or avoid them if the smell bugs you! Be prepared. Develop strategies!

Carousel of Friendship
So far I've finished the first two rows of my quilt and three squares of the next row. Here's how it looks so far:

Top row, left to right: Herschell-Spillman donkey, embroidered by Cathy Crawford, Peace Sign horse designed by Autumn Zikic, Parker Bucking Bronco, embroidered by Cathy Crawford, “Candy” horse designed by Autumn Zikic Carmel Stargazer embroidered by Cathy Crawford Middle row left to right: “Angel” horse designed by Autumn Zikic, “Golden Flame” horse designed by Shannon Townsend, Neon logo by me, “Hearts & Stars” by Shannon Townsend, “Heart horse designed by Autumn Zikic. Bottom row, left to right: “Smiley Face” horse designed by Hannah Zikic, “Flintstone” horse designed by Britney Zikic “Lilac Horse” designed by me.

Here's a better look at the original drawings side by side with the finished quilt design:

My “lilac” horse, which is also one of my Math horses, was originally intended for the previous quilt but I decided to use it on this one because I used Lisa's design instead, the one she had drawn on that envelope which is now in the time capsule. I have tons of that gorgeous purple flowered fabric and someday for one of my future projects I would actually like to do a quilt populated entirely with “lilac” horses. Some can be natural horse colours and some can be lilac colours such as various shades of pinks and purples.

The thing about the lilac horses is that they were a vision that came to me in a dream long before I ever started telling people about my carousel project. Long before I had a hand-held device for showing photos too for that matter. Back in the early days of our marriage, shortly after I moved to Oshawa I had this dream that I had what appeared to be a watch with a large face on a wristband but on it I could display pictures. Among these pictures there were all these beautiful carousel horses decorated with LILACS!! Many were natural horse colours but others were various shades of pink or purple. Most remarkable of all were pictures shot facing outward from the centre pole that showed that these horses were just as ornately decorated on the non-romance side (inner side not facing the public). I felt like this dream had some sort of profound significance.

Shortly after I had that dream I decorated my green dress:

I don't yet know what will go at either end of this third row but I know what I'm going to put across the top.

Best Niagara Trip Ever!!!!
On Tuesday, April 10th until Friday April 13th, my best friend Janette and I took off and shared a much needed salubrious expedition to one of our absolute favorite places. Where else but good old Niagara Falls! We've been there so many times but the wonderful thing about Niagara is that it's always changing. There are so many different things to see and new attractions, it's never the same place twice. Then again, it's always nice to revisit some of our old favorite places there too. On the day we arrived we had to laugh because we didn't really do any of the attractions. All we basically did that day was shop! On this particular trip I was obsessed with adding to my collection of pins on my hat and I bought several colourful jewelry items. These days went by in a blur! What did we do besides eat, sleep and shop? Well, I enjoyed a wonderful ride on the new Bumper Cars at Clifton Hill's Adventure City arcade... We went up in the helicopter... We enjoyed lots of good food everywhere, especially Margaritaville!!!

We saw lots of beautiful flowers at the greenhouse...

And we had the BEST VIEW EVER from our hotel room.... A more detailed account of our journey can be read here: and this is where you can see even more of our pictures: set=a.10150940771569199.530624.540799198&type=3&l=9bbaf80ea4

Adventures of the Travelling Dolls
Day One of our Niagara Trip: Tuesday, April 10th Our entourage gathers to enjoy the view from our window. (left) Out in front of the Imax Theatre (right)

Horsin' around at the Skylon Arcade:

With Pee Wee Herman at Sugar Mountain (left) Exhausted Shopaholics with their haul (right)

More Travelling Dolls pictures can be seen here: For information on how you can order a Travelling Doll of your own feel free to contact me at

Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe
On Friday, April13th, when I got back from Niagara Falls, my husband Dave and I went to the Regent Theatre right here in Oshawa to see Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe. This was one of the recent stops on their tour. We have enjoyed the show on CBC radio for years, especially Stuart’s “Dave and Morley” stories. There were three this evening; one classic and two new. The first story was one I'd heard before about Dave's son Sam building his own water park in the back yard, complete with a homemade water-slide, courtesy of their neighbour. In the second story, Dave is looking after their neighbour Mary Turlington's brand-new Lexus while she's away on vacation. He's picking her up at the airport in it and wants it looking its best possible. A

visit to the car wash unfolds into the kind of wacky misadventure that could only happen to Dave! And the last story was about his daughter Morley, who took an advanced class in Statistics at college and realized she might be in over her head! The evening's musical guest was Ruth Moody and at the end of the show, Stuart lead the audience into a rousing rendition of “I'll Fly Away”. They don't call him Canada's Greatest Storyteller for nothing. While we were there we bought two more of his CD sets; Out and About and Planet Boy. I got his Storyland CD last Christmas and one of these days I'd also like to get his Christmas CD. That one includes Dave Cooks the Turkey and the story of the egg-nog mix-up at the Turlington's party. If Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe comes to your town, don't miss it. I can guarantee it's a wonderful evening out!

Carousel Christmas Ornaments
You may remember that in the previous issue of Planet Nilknarf I showed pictures of my March Break project. It was a kit I received in the mail to make felt carousel horse Christmas ornaments. Last month I showed you how the first one was made. This month I'll show you how I took a shortcut to make the last four. I started with the poles and then the saddles:

It was impossible NOT to get pictures of the saddles that weren't blurry! ARGH!

The next thing I worked on was the bridles and then all the manes and tails before attaching the legs.

As you can see, I am very happy with the finished results. I will probably bring them to the convention to have them auctioned off to support the National Carousel Association. Many people who have seen pictures of my kit, which was published in 1996, have told me that kits such as these are going for as much as $80 on eBay!

Dear Mom and Dad
Friday, April 20th, 2012 Dear Mom and Dad Hello. How are things in heaven? If you see Dick Clark, tell him I said hello. I still think of you often and miss you very much. I guess I always will. As you can see, Janette and I had a wonderful time at Niagara Falls. April is probably the best time to go if you want peace and quiet. However there is a catch to everything. We were lucky that Thursday was the first day that the People Mover was open to the public. Even so, this time of year it only goes as far as the Spanish Aerocar at one end and the Greenhouse at the other. If you want to go to the Brock Monument or Dufferin Islands you have to wait until the summer. And the Golden Steer is only open on weekends. At least I think I solved the Mystery of the Orange Stains. Both of us noticed them on our towels and bathing suits. I think they come from tanning spray. Not ours. We don't use the stuff. But obviously some of these girls in their skimpy bikinis think trying not to look like an uncooked chicken is more important than obeying the rules to bathe or shower first before entering the water and the residue gets left behind, especially in the hot-tub. Even before we went swimming we noticed orange stains on some of our towels. We figure that it usually doesn't come out in the wash and it gets too expensive for

hotels to replace all their towels just because of the odd smudge here and there. And I found myself really missing you one night because I thought of how I used to enjoy phoning you when I'd return from trips such as these to tell you everything that happened. Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe was great, but Dave hasn't been feeling well these days. He was okay to go to the show with me on Friday but he spent most of Saturday at the hospital and has to have an IV replaced every night. He's in too much pain to go back to work for at least another week or two. His cellulitis has flared up again and his leg looks really nasty. I had to do the grocery shopping on Tuesday. At least I kept my MP3 player on all the time! Go figure, I worry about baby drama and I end up being the one who needs diapers! I had the most horrendous sneezing fit! Sometimes Dave wishes they'd just amputate that leg and get it over with but A. They've seen cases even worse than his miraculously healed and B. in this condition he's a regular “cash cow”. As long as he's suffering, doctors and nurses are always being paid to treat and look after him, not to mention the pharmaceutical industry. Same reason they wouldn't give me a hysterectomy when I kept having those prolonged periods from hell. That way they can make more money off me if it ever happens again. Which I hope it doesn't!! I'd honestly rather die than go through that again. Same reason that the pharmaceutical industry is in no hurry to invent bipolar meds that DON'T cause weight gain. Because they KNOW that they can make more money off of us when we become diabetic and/or go for gastric bypass surgery. Notice I didn't say “if” but “when”. I pray that doesn't happen to me either. Heck, I don't get things that kill me, just things that have made me wish I was dead. I'm willing to wager that I'll be stuck here for my 100th birthday with nobody else here to celebrate it with me whether I want it or not, despite all the propaganda that's always being shoved down my throat whenever I turn on the TV or glance at the selection of annoying magazines at the checkout counter. My death, like my wedding and just about anything else I can think of, will probably be one of those totally weird one-of-a-kind things that could only happen to me. Go figure, Dave and I virtually “met” on “Speaker's Corner”. My last words will probably be something like “Who's a nice, fluffy kitty-cat?” or even more likely, “I'm getting off this bus NOW!! I CAN'T STAND SCREAMING BABIES!” Actually once I really did fall out of a moving bus trying to get away from one, so I survived that ordeal once already! And once a piano tipped over and crushed the seat next me during a rehearsal of Brigadoon at the Academy Theatre! I was actually LUCKY to be in SEAT NUMBER THIRTEEN!!! And once a horse nearly kicked me in the face. No wonder you've always been so scared of them, mom! You would have really freaked out if you'd seen me feeding that giraffe!! Well, I'd better be going now. Wish me luck with tomorrow's sale. I'm always a bit apprehensive about going somewhere I've never been before. Especially when I've got this big suitcase to lug around. It's even heavier than it was last week. I guess merchandise is always heavier than holiday stuff. Please pray that they lighten my load and stuff my cash box! Hugs, Margaret

Toronto Autistic Adult Network Annual Concert
On Saturday, April 21st TAAN had their annual event at Armour Heights Presbyterian Church in Toronto and I was there along with at least seven other artists who had many beautiful things for sale. It was a very successful event. Eugenia was there with some gorgeous watercolour paintings for sale by this fellow named Danny and there David Beresford was doing carricatures. He used to draw them for customers at Canada's Wonderland. Is website can be found here:

Finding the place was easy enough although getting there was a pain in the ass. Mainly because I HATE York Mills Station! That place just gives me the heebie-jeebies because it reminds me of my ex. Butthead and I used that station often on our way to church or to his mother's place and I saw him using the phone there a couple months after I broke up with him! I know he's supposedly moved to Calgary and/or Vancouver but still...! And things just aren't marked clearly. I got into an elevator and had to push the phone button to ask directions to the TTC bus area and they told me the FOURTH floor! HELLO? Fourth floor was the PARKING GARAGE! I don't like surprises! I got back into the elevator and pushed the phone button again and they actually got someone from the Information Desk to GO WITH ME and SHOW me the way. Unfortunately, the bus driver did not know where Armour Heights was and ANOTHER 96 Wilson bus took off right past him. By then I was feeling even more discombobulated. All the noise and sensory overload was starting to get to me and I had to get out of there as quickly as possible. I'm grateful to the young lady who came with me to show me where I could catch a cab. They were still quite a distance so I walked up to the first one. He said I could have waved to him and he would have come to get me but by then I was too stressed out and in tears to have thought such an option could occur to me! When he let me off both front doors were locked so I thought that if nobody showed up by 4:00 I'd just turn around and go home. I was afraid I might be th4ere at the wrong place or date. At least when I went around to the back of the church I was relieved to see a vehicle pulling into the parking lot. And the anxiety of my journey home hovered over my head for the rest of the day too. I'm thankful for the lady who drove me back to the York Mills Go terminal when I was too overwhelmed to phone for a cab in the midst of that noisy room!! At least I made over $100 in sales! I sold at least two bears, seven horses, one doll, one T-shirt and nearly ALL my clown puppets! (Well, I still have two left. And it was a very good idea of mine to display

my quilt in progress. Another reason I dislike York Mills Station is that nowhere is clearly labeled. I was lucky that there was another girl there who has done this journey before who was waiting for the same bus that I needed because there are NO SIGNS that tell you where to wait for the next bus going back to Oshawa!! And I am also thankful that even though the bus driver was reluctant at first, he let me off close to home,

suitcase and all. I had visions of having to stay on the bus until I was downtown and having to take yet another cab back from the bus terminal! It was close to midnight by then and Downtown Oshawa can be full of creeps late at night. I must have had guardian angels surrounding me the night I walked home alone from the KISS concert back in 2009!! If it wasn't so late at night and I wasn't all alone, it wouldn't have mattered where he let me off. Especially if I didn't have that huge suitcase. While I was there I was thinking “Is it really worth it to go through all that for this?” Well, now that I know where to go and what to expect I could probably do this journey again without being as scared. I now know to forget about the TTC bus and I know where to go to WAVE for the cab driver and if the same lady is there next year I can probably get a ride back to the Go station with her. Ideally, I probably shouldn't travel alone but WHO WANTS TO GO WITH ME NEXT TIME?

Poetic Justice: Step Right Up...!

Book Reviews
The Horse Boy: Rupert Isaacson Rowan Isaacson was almost six years old when this story began. Rowan has autism. Rowan's father, Rupert noticed that Rowan had an affinity for animals. This gave him some hope. Otherwise, Rowan still wasn't speaking, tantrumming several times a day and still not toilet-trained! Rupert noticed, however, that whenever he took Rowan riding on Betsy, his neighbour's horse, Rowan was a considerably different child. He spoke more and was usually calmer. Introduce him to a Shaman or two and even more improvements could be noticed. Unfortunately, when those first two Shamans went home, Rowan regressed within weeks. Then Rupert got the idea to take Rowan, himself and his wife, Kristin on an epic journey across the deserts of Mongolia on horseback to meet with even more Shamans. Adventure unfolds with each step as they start to notice improvements in Rowan's behaviour. One of the first was to see Rowan actually playing and interacting with other children, particularly another young lad, Tomoo, whom Rowan refers to as his “Mongolian brother.” As they spend more time participating in rituals with the Shamans, Rowan's tantrums gradually become fewer, as do his “Code Browns” a clever euphemism for soiling himself. Rowan is also amazed to hear Rowan, for the first time, asking “How” and “Why” questions.

I'd heard of this story as a movie long before I'd discovered the book. Because of all the tantrums and meltdowns, I'm glad this IS the book because if I were watching the movie I'd probably have to press the “mute” button a lot. One thing for sure, Rowan will always be autistic. There is no “cure”. However, he is now communicating coherently and fully toilet-trained and has a huge circle of friends his own age to play with.

Carousel of the Month
Pottstown Pennsylvania Carousel PTC#9 with new animals by Ed Roth This is a work in progress that I visited way back in September of 2009 when it was still under construction. Back then it looked like this:

At the time horses and menagerie figures filled a shop downtown. And a reception was being held in the old factory building that was being renovated to house the carousel. The black horse in the picture on the upper left is named “Sneakers” and the deer is “Bambi” While we were there we got to listen to this band organ play: Their website can be found here:

I am very impressed with the progress that has taken place since my last visit there in 2009 and look forward to seeing this attraction in its completion. One of my favorite things about this website is the animated video that shows you what the finished facility will look like. Back when I was there the building didn't even have its rotunda built yet but now the carousel appears to be almost finished. They have a beautiful colouring book for sale and T-shirts with their logo, both illustrated by Allan McBain. Another thing I like about the Pottstown carousel is the fact that they utilize SOLAR ENERGY!! ROCK ON!!!! WOO-HOOO! Kudos to Pottstown. Your project is yet another example of the wonderful inspiration that encourages me in my own project. We may not actually “need” a carousel, per se, but I believe that, at least in a perfect world, anyway, EVERY town should have a carousel or two! They make the world a brighter, happier place!


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