Photon (2006-2022)

Today we had to say goodbye to Photon: our dear, tough, gentle Miniature Aussie. 

As freelancers and highly-engaged parents of a child with multiple special needs, we realized that neither of us were getting outside enough to notice the turning of the seasons. Suddenly it’s spring. How did summer come up so fast? Since when was the sidewalk covered in leaves?! So around when Jonathan turned 10, and multiple hospital appointments were fewer and farther between, we decided to get a dog to change that. A dog that needed a couple of decent bouts of exercise a day.

At the breeders
Mastering the basement stairs

And boy did she fit the bill. She insisted we go out in all sorts of weather, for an hour or more. Relatively tiny, but immune to the cold. Not a fan of the rain, but obviously someone had to go out in it. What, are you a wimp?

Eager for learning, she did several dog courses before getting the best experience of her life, the Herding Instinct Test!

She lived for the ball and the frisbee, super-competitive but never combative if another dog tried to make off with it. Gentle with kids, though not above physically getting in their way if she perceived they were in a risky situation.

One friend referred to her as “the best of dogs”, and as I sit here with tears down my face, I’m going to risk boasting that…yes, yes, I think she was. Farewell, our dear pal…


Merrywood 2022


After 2 years without camp due to COVID-19, I finally got to go back to camp this summer. Unlike previous years’ camps, which were 10 days, this year’s camp was only 7 days. At camp I did lots of crafts. On Day 2 , I painted the stones of the campfire. We were Cabin of the Day on Day 3. On this day the flagpole theme was Animals and the song was the intro to the TV show Franklin. I made flower pots in pottery. We also had a campfire whose theme was water.

Day 4’s theme was the movie Jumanji. I created my own game called “Socky,” which was a combination of soccer and hockey.

On Day 5 we had a scavenger hunt. I had lots of fun! I quoted some lines from the Apple TV+ series Helpsters. As soon as I finished everything on the list, I said “All the jobs are done.” Afterwords, because it was hot outside, I played water games on the grass. My favourite water game was “Drip Drip Drop.” I got very wet!

Day 6 featured a talent show. During the show my counsellor Anna flipped her hand to create strobe lights for the song “I See The Light” from the movie Tangled. It was so nice!

The last full day was Day 7, which was the goodbye banquet. The banquet theme was “Enchanted Forests.” Because of that, I felt I had to incorporate light somehow. Anna and camper Riley made me a lantern like in Tangled as a souvenir. In the dining hall I was happy to see lots of lights everywhere, especially blue ones. It was very pretty and it looked like my skin was glowing all over. After dinner, we watched a slideshow of our camp week. Two of my favourite songs were in the slideshow, which made me happy. After the slideshow we danced, which was great!

This week was awesome and I’m looking forward to my next camp session!



Descriptive Audio

Jon Five years ago, descriptive audio (aka descriptive video services, or audio description) started showing up as an option at movie theatres for the movies I was seeing. My eyes can’t always see what’s on the movie screen very well. My parents used to have to whisper to describe some scenes or action to me as the movie played. Now descriptive audio tells me what is happening on the screen. Descriptive audio is an extra audio channel with someone describing what’s happening in each scene. At the theatre, it’s provided on a headset that you ask for when you buy your ticket. It is for visually-impaired audiences, the way closed captioning is for hearing impaired audience members.

For example, the current Disney animated production logo is described this way:

In a logo, stars twinkle in the sky, our view drifts down through clouds to a river that winds past hillsides, a train crosses a bridge, as a flag waves on a castle’s tallest spire, a bright display of fireworks explodes in the sky, a glowing pinpoint of light arks over the castle, leaving a trail of sparkling dust. Words appear, Walt Disney Pictures.” 

It helps me know what’s going on on screen when I can’t see it, or when the action is too fast. Descriptive audio is being used more and more—it’s now being added to DVDs and Blu-rays and streaming services, starting with Netflix and now Disney+. 

Different movies use different people describing. Myles Neff did the first six movies in the Star Wars saga in a slightly comic book-y way, while friendly-toned Darrin Revitz did Crazy Rich Asians and Toy Story 4 and Forky Asks A Question. Disney was the first studio to commit to descriptive audio and doing a lot of its back catalogue, while it took a while for the others, especially Warner Brothers to add it regularly. Aardman Animations has descriptive audio in the theatres but whoever is distributing their movies in Canada isn’t including the descriptive audio track on discs or digitally. The animation studio Laika hasn’t started doing descriptive audio yet. Their movies could really use it. (Sigh.)

With my limited vision, descriptive audio adds so much. It is carefully written so that it doesn’t interrupt the characters speaking. Descriptions are added between lines of dialogue. For example, here’s a scene from the first Toy Story movie:

Woody: Hold still buzz.

Describer: The fuse lights.

Woody: Ha ha, ha ha.

Buzz: You did it! Next stop, Andy!

Woody: I just lit a rocket! Rockets explode!

Describer: Buzz and Woody hang on tight as RC streaks down two lanes of traffic.

I really enjoyed that part. Descriptive audio makes movies so much better for me.



Merrywood 2018 (again!)

Jon This summer I had a great second session at Camp Merrywood! On Day 2 my cabin, Moose, was cabin of the day. The theme was music. I was a country star. I went for a mermaid swim in the pool. I also did archery and crafts.

We played “Merrywood Jeopardy” on Day 3. The clues were valued from $100 to $500. I had fun! I quoted Alex Trebek’s line which was “and now the last clue.”

On Day 4 I had Spa Club. I painted my nails purple. They were pretty. I went sailing in a sailboat. There was a zodiac boat which I pretended to defy gravity by having it pull me through the water. I told my camp counsellors about the song.

We continued Spa Club on Day 5 where I got a massage on my shoulders from camp counsellor Zoe. It was very cool. At juice break, I talked about a video of Joy and Sadness from Inside Out at Disney World.

I enjoyed evening meditation on Day 6. It was awesome. I imagined there was a bubble of light in my head. At the end of that program, I talked about the song “Feel The Light” by Jennifer Lopez.

The theme for Day 6 campfire was Disney Pixar. We sang two of my favourite songs “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King and “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from Mulan.

On Day 8, it was beach day. I talked about the Maui scene in the movie Moana, where he sings the song “You’re Welcome”.

At the talent show on Day 9 I preformed the song “Popular” from the musical Wicked by imitating Glinda. I liked that.

The banquet theme on Day 10 was “Kids Choice Awards”. I had roast beef for dinner before the slideshow. It was fun. We went over to the pool deck for the dance. The session was great. I can’t wait till next year!




Jon On Tuesday July 17, we went to the stage production of Wicked. It was great. I liked the quote “Toss Toss” from Glinda and Elphaba. That was hilarious. I enjoyed the songs, especially “Popular” and “Defying Gravity.” There were bright lights shining as she flew away. That was so cool.

After both acts were done, I got a Wicked T-shirt. We left the theatre and went around to the stage door, and I met the stars of the show. That was amazing!

Jon with Ginna Claire Mason (Glinda)
A beaming Jon with Ginna Claire Mason (Glinda)

Jon with Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba)
Jon with Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba)

I had a Wicked time, thank goodness!


The touring cast of Wicked Performs “For Good”


Merrywood 2018

Jon This summer I had a great first session at Camp Merrywood.

Jon and other Moose cabin guys
Moose cabin guys

Day 1 was Canada Day, so I watched the fireworks with my camp counsellors at night time. I liked the bright lights.

Day 3 was fun. We were cabin of the day. The theme was military. We did a chant to the song, We Are The Champions by Queen. I did yoga with Sarah and Mattie. Mano joined in. I liked the pose Downward Dog. I also liked the breathing: that was the part I focused on.

I also did Music & Drama with Susan. She helped me do a jungle-themed charades, where I had to pick out a paper with a word on it then I acted out the animal. It was great. I pretended that I was in pain. I sang the 2017 holiday Local Forecast track from TWN.

Jon on drums at Camp Merrywood 2018

On Day 4 we did a Indiana Jones theme. I enjoyed it.

I also liked the Batman theme on Day 5. The song of the day was the Batman theme.

Day 8 was amazing, The theme was Looney Tunes. The joke was “What do you get when you cross a rabbit with an insect? Bugs Bunny.” The song was the Merry Melodies opening and closing themes.

On day 9 I had a talent show. I was the third actor singing “Try Everything” from the movie Zootopia. I had fun. I survived the clapping noise. I wasn’t afraid.

Day 10 was the banquet. It was Willy Wonka themed. There was a golden ticket on the tables in the dining hall. Sam read it to me. They showed a slideshow in Merrywood Hall of the whole session. Then we had a dance. There was a memory song called “Firework” that everyone liked. I enjoyed my song “Wide Open Spaces” by the Dixie Chicks. I told the camp counsellors it was also used in the game show Beat Shazam as song 4 in season 2 episode 5 with Jamie Fox in the end round and one of the teams got to sing it.

I had lots of fun.


Jon at camp


Merrywood 2017

This just in: Video of Jon’s whitewater rafting session.

Jon This summer I had another great session at Camp Merrywood.

On Day 2 the evening program was Disney Villains. One person was dressed up as Scar from The Lion King. A counsellor was dressed as Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I had lots of fun.

On Day 3, we did a Star Wars-themed flag pole and campfire. The joke of the day was “What do Jedi use to open files? Adobe One Kenobi!” I played a game called British Bulldog, where you run really fast after Sam yelled it out. That was fun.

Day 4 was so amazing. Maple cabin did a chant to the Maui tune “You’re Welcome”. I liked that. We played Battleship archery where we had to shoot the ships and not the target.

Jon taking aim in archery
Deadeye Jon takes aim.

On Day 5 I went rafting on the Ottawa River. I was so happy. I wasn’t scared of the whitewater. As we voyaged in the boat, I sang the songs “How Far I’ll Go” and “We Know The Way” from Moana. Batman was the theme of the day and I imitated him.

Jon whitewater rafting
Jon enjoying himself on the Ottawa River.

More whitewater rafting on Ottawa River
Jon at extreme right.

Raft nearly covered by whitewater
Jon is second blue helmet to right.

Another favourite day was Day 6. Moose cabin did a chant to “Nomanisone Island / National Movers” from Inside Out. I told my campers that it was also used at Bloorview.

On Day 9 at the talent show, I was dressed up as the demigod Maui again for the song. I tricked the audience as the intro. After that I said “Boat snack!” I had a good time.

Jon as Maui
Jon as Maui. You’re welcome!

On Day 10, the theme for the banquet was The Great Gatsby. It was good.

I’m looking forward to next year already!


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