Looking forward, looking back

Image Jo Freitag

It has been a few weeks since we last heard from the Tweet family about how they were coping with social distancing.

Did anyone find out how the mobs of emus, herds of cranes, flocks of starlings, pigeons and swifts, packs of grouse, cotes of doves and colonies and rookeries of penguins were managing social distancing?

Pippin Tweet and Great Aunt Hashtag are still staying with the Tweet family.
The Tweet family have settled into a New Normal pattern of life with Tweet making a minimum number of ventures away from the nest to collect food and they have been quite enjoying the experience of being more relaxed and having fewer commitments.

Retweet thought it would be good for Great Aunt Hashtag to help her with their Nest Ed and tell the tweetlets about what life was life when she was young. Hoping she would focus on happy memories Retweet said “Tell us about the ’good ole days’ and what you did.”

“When you used to hang out with Archaeopteryx!” chirped Tweetil.

“I can assure you Archaeopteryx had been extinct for a very long time before I hatched” said Great Aunt Hashtag in a very huffy tone of voice.

In MY day!” she said “There were no shortages of desiccated Christmas beetles and tweetlets only tweeted when they were twoken to.
Tweetlets sat in the nest and ate their food and learned their Nesty Rhymes. None of these fancy contraptions in MY day. I don’t understand this WEB thing. If Arachnid had put up a web in MY nest I would have swept it away immediately.”


Retweet sighed. She looked out from the nest and thought about how for some the past has happy memories and others have sad memories of the past.
She thought about the time of physical distancing they were experiencing at the moment and wondered what life would be like when the restrictions were lifted.
There had been things she had enjoyed and things that she could see they had returned to a simpler, more economical and more environmentally sustainable way of living. She wondered whether some of those things would be retained and whether there would be changes and improvements in education methods.

Somehow Retweet was not surprised to see two of Sprite’s dog friends sitting at the base of their tree,
Wistful Black Dog as ever was looking back at the past and either missing the good times or wishing that things could have been different.
And little Imaginational Dabrowski was hopefully looking forward to the future and imagining what an ideal world could be – on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Making connections 2

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Now that Sprite had decided that maybe she was supposed to be a mentor for the little girl she thought of as Pincher she was worrying about what she should do and say.

Of course the Dabrowski Dogs and the Black Dogs were eager to provide input.

“I think it would be wonderful for you to be her mentor” said Imaginational Dabrowski. “She could come to visit us and go on excursions with you and you could lend her books and …”

“I would like to urge caution” said Guard on Duty Black Dog. “You really do not know anything about her. You do not know whether she needs or wants a mentor. You do not know whether she even wants to be friends or if she just likes playing with your crutches.”

“Paula said I need to talk to her to find out about all that.” Sprite said. “But I just do not know what to say.”

“I suppose I could talk about the weather” she suggested.

“Yes, you could talk about barometric pressure and isobars and the Stevenson Screen” said Intellectual Dabrowski.

“Talking about the weather is depressing!” said SAD Seasonally Affected Black Dog

“Then you could tell her about chaos theory, fractals, tessellations and harmonic motion of the planets” said Intellectual Dabrowski.

“That is NOT a good idea!” said Wistful Black Dog who tends to have negative thoughts about the past. “Remember the reactions you got when you tried to talk about those things in the past.” https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/talkfest/

“Take a ball or a Frisbee and ask if she wants to play” yelped Psycho Motor Dabrowski.
“Yeah, great idea. You can throw it and she can go fetch it” said Little Bully Black Dog. “Then you could ask her to go and get all sorts of other stuff for you too.”

“That is not a good idea at all!” Sprite said. “I don’t want to bully her or tease her. I want to talk to her and find out more about her”

“Ask her how she is feeling” suggested Sensual Dabrowski. “Ask her if she wants to use your crutches because she really has a sore ankle or if she is just dressing up like you because she is a copycat. If you like I could sit in front of her and scratch myself and see if she gets itchy too.”

“Ask her if she feels like an alien too” said little Thinks-he’s –an-alien Black Dog

Emotional Dabrowski was horrified by those suggestions! “You can’t say things like that to her the first time you talk to her. That is NOT going to make her feel comfortable enough to talk to you.
You could take a board game or a craft or wool for a cat’s cradle game and ask her if she wants to play with you.
Why not say “Hi! How are you today? My name is Sprite by the way; what is your name?”


Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

I often find that after I have given a presentation, even if it was successful and well received at the time, I tend to go over the presentation in my mind and think of all the things I should or should not have said. I agonise over the smallest of mistakes or the possible implications of omissions.

I know that it was not my intention to offend or fail to mention something important or to give a wrong impression. But other people could not be expected to know that and would assume that I had done it purposely (with malice aforethought as Intellectual Dabrowski would say).
And so the perceived magnitude of the errors becomes completely out of proportion, making me feel anxious about possible consequences.

So I was not completely surprised to find that Sprite and Retweet were suffering a bout of anxiety after giving their presentation recently. They had realised that they failed to acknowledge the importance of the influence of the Psych Owl Ogist.
It was not even as if the Psych Owl Ogist had been offended.
He had sent a very warm note of congratulations on the success of their presentation.

But the magnitude of the omission had hit them like a physical blow and the Dabrowski Dogs and the Black Dogs gathered round to analyse the situation.

The Perfectionist Poodle, Intellectual Dabrowski and Wistful Black Dog were horrified by the omission of credit for the Psych Owl Ogist and Guard on Duty Black Dog added that there could have been severe repercussions if the Psych Owl Ogist had felt offended and got his feathers ruffled.

Imaginational Dabrowski was trying to think of a way to remedy the omission and publicise the revision without completely devaluing what had really been an excellent presentation.

Wistful Black Dog was in favour of placing the blame on Sprite’s learning difficulties and telling Sprite to Plead the Pink Slipper.
But Sensual Dabrowski did not feel comfortable with doing that; as Sprite had managed to create and present the PowerPoint with poise and confidence (as was obvious in her ability to wear both of her new blue boots for the occasion).
She was certainly not feeling so capable, confident and self assured now!

Psycho Motor Dabrowski was suggesting they should all go outside and bounce as a distraction but SAD Seasonally Affected Black Dog was saying that the sky was grey and it had been raining, making the path slippery. Sprite said she was not feeling up to negotiating any slippery slopes.

To make the mood of the room bleaker Little Bully Black Dog had brought in the newspaper. The Black Hat Thinking Consultant Team, The Pair O’Noids, were discussing news items about the effects of climate change, broken promises from politicians, injustice to the indigenous peoples, and lack of compassion towards refugees, the elderly, the sick and the disadvantaged.  The Pair O’Noids were hinting at conspiracies and a socially engineered return to a feudal system which benefited the rich at the expense of the poor.

Sprite feels unfairness and suffering of others acutely and would like to be able to change all these things.
But, as a child, she does not even know where to begin as the problems seem to be so many and so profound.
In the past she has studied George Orwell’s Animal Farm. And she has set up her toys and friends to stage marches. She has tried to work out how the voting system operates and how it could be improved.

As Leaping Attack Black Dog was threatening to assault Sprite Psycho Motor Dabrowski sprang into action. “Go off and bounce until you can sit down nicely on your HALT mat and behave!” he growled.
Emotional Dabrowski pressed her head against Sprite encouragingly and suggested that serving snacks to everyone might make things look brighter.
And Sprite also found it encouraging that Imaginational Dabrowski was still busy considering what she could do to repair the minor oversight in the presentation and
what other positive actions she could take to make the world a kinder, happier place.

This post is part of the Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop for April 2015. www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_anxiety.htm
Find a complete list of links to all the blog hops at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hops.htm

Christmas preparations 1


The Dabrowski Dogs have played a chess match with the Black Dogs to determine whether the Black Dogs would be permitted to appear in Sprite’s Christmas picture or must be content with sending their apologies and a greeting card.

The board was set so that the Dabrowski dogs and Twitter Birds could play against the Black Dogs and Sally-Anne McCormack’s ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) from her books Stomp out the ANTs and Living with ANTs.

On the White Team the Memory Elephant was the king and Emotional Dabrowski was the Drama Queen. Sensual Dabrowski and Imaginational Dabrowski were the bishops, Psycho Motor Dabrowski and Intellectual Dabrowski were the leaping knights, the Topiary Tessellation Bird Leaf Tree and the Topiary Wheel Tree were the rooks and the Twitter Birds were the pawns.

On the Black Team Guard on Duty Black Dog was the king and Wistful was the queen. Thinks He’s an Alien Black Dog and SAD Seasonally Affected Dog were the bishops and Leaping Attack Black Dog and his Shadow were the leaping knights. The ANTs were the pawns. The Pair O Noids were asked to be the rooks but were anxious about being separated so they both acted as one rook and a rook was borrowed from the chess set for the other one.

Kiwi and Echidna waited hopefully on the sidelines for any ANTs who were ejected from the game.

You will probably be pleased to learn that the White team was victorious and Guard on Duty Black Dog has presented a greeting card made from my Inktober portraits of the Black Dogs to be included in the group picture. No Black Dogs will personally attend the group photo session to get an opportunity to put a dampener on the occasion.


Doggy Classroom Dynamics


This is what happens when the Dabrowski Dogs and the Black Dogs accompany Sprite to school. The subject is English language and the topic is creative writing.
This is the discussion amongst the dogs and their recommendations to Sprite.

Imaginational Dabrowski: You could write a story titled “I am a Cheetah”

Intellectual Dabrowski: The cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is a large feline inhabiting some areas of Africa and Iran.
The cheetah can run faster than any other land animal— as fast as 112 to 120 km/h in short bursts covering distances up to 500 m and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in three seconds. It has an anatomy that is perfectly designed for running fast. Look up fact sheets about this on the Cheetah Conservation Foundation website.
The cheetah is listed as vulnerable to extinction, facing various threats such as competition with and predation by other carnivores, a gene pool with very low variability, and persecution by mankind.

P’est Pour Parfait, the Perfectionist Poodle: Excellent choice of subject. Just make sure that you spell those long words correctly and get all the facts 100% accurate.

Imaginational: I mean you should write about what it feels like to BE a cheetah.

Guard on Duty Black Dog: How could she possibly know what it feels like to be a cheetah?

Thinks He’s an Alien Black Dog: If she writes that she IS a cheetah everyone will think she is really weird!  I bet none of the other kids think they are cheetahs. When I say what I think and feel everyone looks at me as if I came from another planet and maybe I did!

Little Bully Black Dog: If she writes that everyone will laugh at her and tease her and call her a CHEATER and say she cheats on tests

Sensual Dabrowski: You could write about all the sights and sounds and smells that a cheetah would experience. I am not feeling very comfortable in the classroom at the moment. There is too much background noise and the neon lights are flickering and I am feeling really itchy. I bet you are too!

Psycho Motor Dabrowski: Cheetahs must have a lot of fun running and running and running. Do you want to go outside and see what it would be like to run?

SAD Seasonally Affected Black Dog: She can’t go outside now because it is raining.

Wistful Black Dog: Even if she could go outside she would not be able to run far and she would just get depressed.
Is that shadow on the wall just a shadow of a cloud or is it Leaping Attack Black Dog?

Emotional Dabrowski: You should write about the cheetah’s emotions. What makes the cheetah happy? What makes the cheetah sad? What makes you happy? Are the things that make you happy the same as the things that make the cheetah happy?

Why are you crying now? Are you happy or sad or just confused?

The illustration for this post is a composite of ink sketches made for INKtober http://mrjakeparker.com/inktober
Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.
I have been participating in INKtober and posting at least one picture a day on a very friendly and supportive Facebook group where I have my own album

Donkeys live a long time


I called in to Sprite’s Site to check a couple of references and was greeted by Imaginational Dabrowski.

“Where have you been? Was it an exciting expo or a creativity conference or……? Where have you been?” he asked.

“I participated in RSCON 5 http://www.futureofeducation.com/  and I will be writing about that soon” I said

“I have been working on an art course online at Derwent Academy http://www.derwentacademy.co.uk/

“And I updated my personal website with the July FB Creating Challenge   and the 52 Illustrations Challenge and June and beginning of July My Sky  pictures.”

“And I went to visit posts on a couple of blog hops and I will write about that soon too” I said

“Why didn’t you write posts for Sprite’s Site and why didn’t you take Sprite and Retweet along with you?” Imaginational asked.
“Well, um … because reasons … real life got busy” I said

“I was looking for you because Sprite is all depressed” said Imaginational “ And  when I tried to cheer her up by suggesting utopian ideas she just hugged her donkey tight and said ‘That is how it is supposed to be – but it isn’t like that!”

“It is probably SAD Seasonally Affected Black Dog  who is making her miserable. We have had a lot of storms and rain lately” I said.

“No, I blame Intellectual Dabrowski” said Imaginational.  “He let her read Orwell’s Animal farm and the newspapers!”

I found Sprite sitting on the chair in the Naughty Corner cuddling her donkey.
“How’s Eeyore?” I asked

“He is not Eeyore. He is Benjamin and he says ‘donkeys live a long time’ and he is sad” she replied.

“It sounds as if we need to have a talk!” I said

The G word


“Why is Columbus Cheetah sitting on the chair in the Naughty Corner?” I asked Sprite.  “Black Dog  put him there” she replied. “He said Columbus was using naughty words and needed to sit in the corner and think about it. But I don’t know what he said that was naughty. He didn’t say the F word, or the S word, or the B word!”

“What did he say?” I asked.

“Columbus was talking to Intellectual Dabrowski  about my education plan for next term.” Sprite said. “Columbus said that even though I have some learning difficulties I am gifted and should be given acceleration opportunities.

Then Leaping Attack Black Dog suddenly pounced on him and dragged him off to the Naughty Chair and now Guard on Duty Black Dog is sitting there and not letting him move out of the corner!”

I knew that Sprite often used stories about Columbus Cheetah and the overexcitable Dabrowski Dogs and the depression causing Black Dogs to express her concerns.
So I was anxious to find out more about the background to this particular story.

“Tell me what happened” I said.
“Columbus and the Dabrowski Dogs were talking about my education plan for next term (except Psycho Motor who was outside chasing butterflies and Sensual who was having a Lavender Lathers grooming parlour session).
Intellectual was discussing the definitions of giftedness and the levels of giftedness on different scales and whether ‘Gifted’ was really the best word to use and he and Columbus were talking about the Hoagies May Blog Hop about “Using the G word” and all the posts which can be read at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_the_g_word.htm


“I tuned out after a while and talked to Imaginational who was suggesting all sorts of great sounding programs and provisions.
Imaginational was saying it would be great if I could have either a De Bono Brown Brogues – Do the Most Sensible Thing program
Brown brogues https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/brown-brogues/
or a De Bono Grey Sneakers – PBL Investigations program
Grey sneakers https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/grey-sneakers/
with contact with a mentor for astronomy
Purple riding boots https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/purple-riding-boots/
and help and support in the areas I need it.
Plaster cast https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/casting-sprites-education-in-a-new-form-part-1/
He said it even said in the Iowa Acceleration Scales manual that students should not be denied acceleration only on account of learning difficulties.” http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/resources/ias.aspx

“Intellectual snorted and said that would happen when the porcine aeronauts arrived and that my school was locked into their paper shoe covers system because they were saying all their students were gifted.”

Then the Pair O Noids arrived and said that it was not politically correct to say one student was gifted unless you said everyone was gifted.”

“So Columbus Cheetah got really upset and said that obviously people were not taking any notice of his myth busting efforts; http://www.giftedresources.org/gr/columbuscheetah.htm
and that it was just not true that everybody was gifted; in the same way as it was not true that nobody was gifted!
Hadn’t anybody been listening when he presented ample evidence that although every student was precious and every student had areas of relative strength, every student was not academically gifted?
Hadn’t they been listening when he said that all students need excellent education but gifted students need an education which suits their needs?”


“Emotional Dabrowski started howling in sympathy and then Black Dog arrived!”

“Why do you think Black Dog attacked Columbus rather than you?” I asked.

“Well,” said Sprite. “I think it was because Imaginational and I were happy discussing possible programs that would be really great.
But I can only have a limited amount of influence into whether the good things can be made to happen. I need people to advocate for me as well.”

“ And when Intellectual was being cynical and the Pair O’Noids were being paranoid  it made Columbus wonder whether his myth busting was ever going to be completely successful.
And then Emotional started howling in sympathy and then the Black Dogs turned up.”

“Your have shown me a few things I can do to overcome the Black dogs.
(Read all about the Black dogs in the Youblisher booklet Sprite and Black Dog http://www.youblisher.com/p/10553-Sprite-and-Black-Dog/ )
And anyway I was feeling happy because Imaginational said that I could hope for good programs.”

“But it must be very disheartening to keep advocating for gifted and 2E students and giving the same message for years on end and still finding that attitudes are not changing! “
“In a way I suppose the Black Dogs were also trying to get at me by attacking Columbus; because if he gets too disheartened he might stop advocating and then I certainly wouldn’t get good provisions and I would get depressed too!”

Thursday December 5: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Sprite’s Site. Everyone is wearing Santa hats or Christmas trimmings, even Oliver Moremouse and the Twitter Birds. And it is beginning to sound a lot like Christmas with this tune playing
Sprite does not want the Black Dogs to dampen the mood; so she is cheering them up with festive Christmas collars.

If you would like to read about the Black Dogs follow this link or scan the QR code


Best Australian Blogs 2013 No 12B: More stories



This should be post No 13 in the Australian Writers’ Centre Best Australian Blogs 2013 competition series but little Imaginational Dabrowski would not let me use that number.
“Remember,” said the Memory Elephant “he doesn’t like the number 13 because he thinks it looks mean!”

The Memory Elephant, the Dabrowski Dogs and the Black Dogs have also been the subjects of storylines at Sprite’s Site.


The Memory Elephant is a personification of memory and the Visual Spatial Learner’s style of thinking. Some of the stories about the Memory Elephant have been gathered into a Youblisher booklet at Sprite and the Memory Elephant
You can read about the Memory Elephant at http://www.giftedresources.org/jo/blog/?p=1000 and see an animation of the Memory Elephant in action at https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/memory-elephant-usb-morph/

Memory Elephants have their own holiday celebration on 30 December


I noticed that Wistful Black Dog was sitting next to the Memory Elephant.
The Black Dogs are personifications of possible sources of depression.
Wistful is sometimes found with the Memory Elephant as he can cause depression by regretting the past.
The Black Dogs, who are all personifications of possible sources of depression, are described at https://spritessite.wordpress.com/about-the-characters/ and their story has been told in a Youblisher booklet http://www.youblisher.com/p/10553-Sprite-and-Black-Dog/


The Dabrowski Dogs feature in many of the stories. Some of them have been gathered into a Youblisher booklet Sprite and the Dabrowski Dogs.  http://www.youblisher.com/p/11810-Sprite-and-the-Dabrowski-dogs/

The tale of the Dabrowski Dogs attending the Paws for Poise mobile grooming parlour is told in a Little Bird Tales book at http://littlebirdtales.com/tales/view/story_id/8013/

Another potential booklet is the series of posts about the Dabrowski Dogs solving a puzzle

The Dabrowski Dogs are not always in agreement. There is often tension between the pedantic Intellectual and the visionary dreamer Imaginational. This was very apparent in the affair of the topiary tree octopus


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Preparing for the Blog Birthday Party

Preparations for the Sprite’s Site Blog Birthday Party are in full swing.
Sprite has made floral garlands for the Dabrowski Dogs and is bringing out her poster for the Flowers of Giftedness theme.
Imaginational is helping with suggestions for setting up the party area.
Intellectual noticed that Lisa Conrad of Gifted Parenting Support Blog http://giftedparentingsupport.blogspot.com  had left a basket of morning glories in the Comments box and is bringing them to her.
And Psycho Motor is contributing a stick with the comment “Throw the stick! Throw the stick!”

Sprite has made floral garlands for the Black Dogs

The Taste Tester Dogs have been summoned and have posed for a group picture.

The Topiary Tessellation Flower Leaf Tree has been installed and the Topiary Tree Octopus, Octopus Topiarii, has very quietly taken up residence there.

Imaginational suggested that Flower Bowers would be the best way to accommodate the growing number of Twitter Birds who would be flocking to the celebrations.