mirror, mirror

The college counsellor stood at the library window looking out over the newly landscaped gardens below.


She sighed, “We are looking more and more…like a….” She grasped for a word.

“Like a private school?” I suggested.

“Yes, that’s it, a private school”.


We both continued to look out the window, aware that we had gone over to the dark side.

look, there run the wildebeest!

We had to stand at the front of the library and greet the future flotsam and jetsam of our  student body pass through our doors today. Four hours of Open Day, by the end of which we felt once again that the world was going to hell in a hand basket. The parade of life forms before us was not always encouraging. More often than not, it was the parents who frightened us most. One look and you knew their kid never had a hope in hell.

I had locked open the automatic doors to cope with the flood of humanity (we had a couple of hundred tromp through our new library) and at one stage I had to actively restrain myself from putting the doors back on automatic in the hope of crushing the slower ones and putting them out of the possibility of our future annoyance.

To be fair, there were some lovely ones; cute smiley polite children that gave every impression of being quite agreeable, now, but give them a year or two before they come our way, and I just know they will have turned into apathetic, lethargic, resentful teenagers. We will be expected to undo the sins of the parents, the parents of the parents and every generation before that.

For our troubles we got a free hamburger (meat patty, a slice of tomato, a slice of beetroot and a sprinkle of lettuce on a white bread roll) and a sad can of soft drink. I got peach iced tea as there was less than nothing to choose from. I drank it because I needed the 17 grams of sugar that it contained to maintain my composure and not run amuck screaming at the creatures to stop their children jumping on our new couches ( it rained heavily last night as one would expect before an Open Day) We are also getting a day off in a couple of months, on a day that used to be a day off, but this year isn’t a day off, but is now a day off.  Yes, it made no sense to us either. We know we are being jibbed in some way, but as we barely have the strength to plot a revolution let alone execute one, we shall just accept our wage slavery and wait for a wet Wednesday to end it all.

Flamingo Files

I am tired of parents who change the spelling of traditional names or combine two or three parts of various names to make an “original” and even more tired of students who roll their eyes and act as though you are so stupid because you mispronounce their name due to the fact that their parents couldn’t spell it correctly to start with! (Remember Monty Python’s  Raymond Luxury-Yacht (pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove?)

I realise that trying to get a group of teachers to agree on anything is harder than herding cats. There is always someone complaining about something, which always means yet another meeting, to disagree again.  If only we would disagree on holding another meeting!

It’s Saturday night, the rain is pouring down outside, and I am lying on my bed. My idea of a perfect night. Mr FD is downstairs watching football on TV, so it is even more perfect!

We had to go back to the ballot boxes this weekend to vote for Mayor and city councillors.  The way Federal politics is going we may have an early election this year also. I am so over Australian politics with its  sniping, back stabbing and negativity that I really could move far, far away. The fact that it was raining made it even less palatable. If only they realised that I am the answer to all the world’s problems. I have the answer for everything, just let me get on with the job.

The school is holding an Open Day tomorrow (Sunday) to market to prospective students and their parents. The library, being the gem in the crown, is central to all activities, so we had to make the place shine. I found a number of articles, such as old photographs and early uniforms which I used to create a display. I have to admit that I did advertise that I was open to bribes from teachers so that they could avoid embarrassment due to unflattering photos. Not only as staff, but many of the teachers are former students, so there are more than a few of them in school uniform. Oh what fun!

Speaking of bribes, I am seriously considering introducing a tribute system.  I am worth it, after all. Additionally, for a large number of gold coins I shall drive past a pleb’s (your)  house, toot the car horn and wave, so that the neighbours think the pleb (you) are almost important. For even more gold coins and a few of those polymer notes I will even slow down and call out “Oh hello!” before planting my foot and accelerating away before pleb germs settle on my vehicle (I can’t risk becoming ordinary).  I know it will be the highlight of your little existence, not to mention my rightful due. Stay tuned for advertised dues,  rates and services; it is the least I can do for the little people.

Thinking about my Mum last night led me to consuming a box of cheezels and half a block of turkish dellight chocolate. I love cheezels, but my tongue always feels as though it has been chemically burnt after I eat any, well usually it is  the whole box. Not that it stops me from eating them, I just look upon it more as a scientific experiment now than comfort eating.

Have you noticed that now days, when someone says they painted  a room, and you ask “oh what colour?” that they answer “scarecrow”, “misty wind” or “scallywag”. What the hell description is that? What happened to the good old days when we just had red, green, pink, blue, yellow? Same with clothing, a pair of black trousers can be anything from “midnight”  to “burnt wood”. Why can’t we just call it as we see it?

Our bookclub is reading The Great Gatsby. Can anyone tell me why it is a classic? A group of shallow, self indulgent unhappy rich people, who pretend it is a classless society when it so definitely is.  It is such a chore to read and as hard as I try, I can not see the genius in it.  To make it worse I am the one who suggested it for this month, and now I have to admit that I am fallible. Just as some bad teachers mark according to a student’s reputation, I think Fitzgerald got a get out of the reject pile free card on the Great Gatsby. This month’s meeting shall need cocktails to start and finish!

We have decided to sell our house, which means that I have to actually unpack the boxes in the garage that have remained unpacked since our move to this house in 2002. We think we know what is in them, but obviously we don’t know anymore, and even more obviously we don’t appear to need it, so logically we need to get rid of it. However, that means we really should go through it just to make sure we haven’t left some piece of family treasure in one of the boxes (yeah like that is a real possibility!) but one really has to do it, because wouldn’t I be really angry if I saw someone selling a rejected macaroni necklace one of our children made in kindergarten  on ebay for a fortune and setting a new fashion trend that makes them the fourth richest person in the world? Slothfulness always comes back to bite you, eventually.

I need to move on to more important things, like finishing the remaining turkish delight chocolate. Amuse yourself with the mistaken belief I care about you.


and so it goes


Sister, Brother and I just had a round robin telephone conference and have agreed to place Mum in a home. The community nurse contacted us with an offer of a high care bed in a facility about 20 minutes drive from Our Hometown, and actually in the town where most of my mother’s sisters live.

It isn’t the home that would be our first choice, but when old people refuse to make timely decisions they also lose the right to choice. Mum always said that she would “know when it is time to move”, but of course, as we knew, no one ever does recognise the moment.

She is fairly clear for the first part of the day, but as the day goes on she starts to sundown and is quite unsettled at night. We have been open with her that she needs to go into care, and at times she seems to understand, but at other times she asks my sister to take her home. She has even had a weep, and this is a woman whom I have only ever witnessed crying at her father’s funeral, and to be a little teary when my Dad died, so I understand the depth of her grief at losing her freedom and her mind.

We are all a little apprehensive, as we lived through our Dad suffering from dementia, though his was caused by multi-infarct dementia and he became quite aggressive at times. Mum’s is taking a different course, though we know the end will be the same. It is making us all fearful for what be ahead for us as we age too.

Life really is a shit, and then you die, but more importantly take control of your destiny in a timely manner. Be prepared. Don’t break your family’s heart making decisions that you should have made.


bolstering my dreams

I have never made any secret that my bed is my favourite place in the whole world. I would happily take up residence there for years on end (which might just be a good thing, considering how often ill health forces me there!). My bed is where I read, watch TV, blog and construct lesson plans. It is where I do my best thinking; and my worst, but we won’t go there today!

I am very particular about my accoutrements, and in particular pillows. I have a number, and when I actually choose to sleep, they rise like a monument to Mt Everest beside my bed. Sometimes I have to hurdle them to reach the bathroom should the need arise. Mr FD is nervous that should I go any higher that I may encounter rarefied air syndrome, as if such a thing were possible for a Flamingo Dancer!

The latest count is one flat pillow crafted by foam rubber specialists for those with crooked necks. That is the pillow upon which I place my beautiful sleeping head. Then I have two large European pillows (large and square and incredibly soft). I use both of these in my reading support pillow group, but oddly enough if I am absolutely exhausted, or have a really severe headache it is to one of these pillows that I go for comfort. Their softness is almost like being cradled in a mother’s arms. They give rest to the weary soul. The final two pillows, yes there are more, are used to augment the pile for reading and using my laptop (I have a tray for my laptop also). They go solo if my back or shoulder is aching, and then I assume the position as advised by my physiotherapist and place a pillow under a leg, knee or arm as the ache requires.

Once I had a very long pillow, a body length bolster, which was used in place of the two singular pillows, but Mr FD found that there was no room for either his pillow (he is allowed one small, reject pillow) or his rubenesque body, so the bolster went into the spare room.

The last few days I have been thinking of taking the bolster to school with me. No, not to curl up on one of our comfy couches (the snoring and drooling would no doubt spoil the FD imagine), but to place between courting couples as per the Dutch method (bundling). We have several courting couples, as I have termed them, amongst our regulars who suffer the mating imperative to cuddle on the library sofas. I sneak up on them and demand to see daylight between their nubile bodies, but as soon as I sneak to another section of the library to scare and intimidate, they resume their mating rituals.

So, I have been informing them of the tradition of the bolster for courting couples, and I have threatened to institute it. Of course, it becomes something of an amusement to them when I explain the history and tradition of the bolster, but I think that at least they are learning a history fact along the way – and that a hands off policy has been around longer than teacher librarians!

Then again, Bolster has been a loyal friend, and it would be mean of me to hand him over to the mercies of youth. Bolster would no doubt come off the worst. I also hold out eternal hope that Mr FD will reshape the extreme degree of his rubenesque proportions, and then Bolster can come back to play. Everyone needs a dream.

Lest we forget…

This is something in the Australian psyche that drives us to idolise the loser, the person who sticks a finger to the world, and carries on to the end knowing that life sucks and then you die.

Australians have always been someone’s canon fodder, someone’s rejects. We celebrate lost battles (ANZAC Day), murderous criminals (Ned Kelly) and politicians with a witty turn of phrase rather than good governance (Gough Whitlam). Today is one of those days that we love. ANZAC Day. The day when we celebrate a glorious defeat in World War I.

Sadly, little seems to have changed since Edwin Greenslade Murphy (who penned under the name Dryblower) wrote this poem to his son during “The Great War”.

My Son

I have given you unto the Empire;
You will follow its battle flag;
You will hear the sound of slaughter
In valley, on plain and crag.
I have taken you out of the playground,
From many a merry mate.
To send you, a stripling soldier,
Out to the field of fate.
But when the good work is over,
And your share of the strife is done
I shall be proud of the lad I lent,
I shall be proud to say that I sent.
My son,
My son.

They have come in their thousands lusty;
But the gaps still cry for more;
They have come from the bushland lonely,
From the scrub and the sounding shore;
They have come from the desert dreaming,
From out of the rolling range,
From the verdant placid pastures,
From the hills that never change.
From out of the alleys squalid,
Where the days are drear and dun;
With pride I have heard their footsteps ring,
And so I have sent, to serve my King;
My son,
My son.

They have gone in the teeming troopship;
They have fought the fight, and fell;
They have felt on their fearless faces
Draughts from the deeps of hell;
Thinned by the hidden horror.
Drowned, in the shot-swept blue,
They have closed up the gaps of glory,
Steadied and thundered through!
And into that mounded country
Where the deadly work was done,
Where the bloodstained trenches blur and blend
With no wav'ring weak'ning sigh I send
My son,
My son.

Did I fall in a father's duty.
Did I keep him with mine and me,
How would he face the question
In the darkened days to be?
Could he walk in such public places?
Could he do what all good men do
When the patriot women shunned him
When it came to his time to woo?
If he took not to-day his bayonet,
His khaki brave and gun,
I would see his brothers in shame abide,
I would see them pass on the other side
My son,
My son.

God of our destined duty,
Of our Country, Flag, and King,
Keep him in courage lofty
When the hell-made missiles swing.
And if he must prove an Abel,
Killed by another Cain,
Give him, O Lord, at parting
No portion of Calvary's pain.
Let us write over his slumbers
The glorious words, "Well done!"
For whether our Flag shall wilt or wave,
Let us remember He also gave
His Son,
His Son.

Resolution Monday, April style


Resolutions 2012:

I must change.


I must remove all the excess.


I must get rid of all the clutter.


I must eat healthier food.


I must exercise.


I must read more, for pleasure and professionally.


I must watch less TV.


I must be more active in my own life.

Where do I start on this list? The easy stuff – read more and less television – has progressed. I joined the bookclub at school and so I am being prompted to read things I would not choose for myself. Tick and tick.

Food? Well, the diverticulitis has sealed that one. I am so worn out with suffering with it that I am no longer tempted to roll the dice on anything that might even remotely cause an issue. However, thanks to Easter the chocolate scale has blown sky high. That will take its natural course as the supply runs out and I avoid all the chocolate now on sale! Half a tick.

Life has reminded me of a couple of things lately. The sudden death of a colleague, that the moment is more important than the grand plan, but do have a grand plan. Also, not to hesitate to do the good deed, to be open to change and not to forget to tell people that you love them. Or can tolerate them, at least!

My Mum’s sudden illness has also been a wake up call not to take her for granted and to think she will always be there for another visit, on another day. It is also a reminder that we; Mr FD, our siblings and I, are bordering on become the elders of the clan.  Scary stuff indeed and something I assume no one is every ready to accept. I am not sure that I am ready to be that grown up, but hey, I am going to be a great old lady.

Haven’t had much opportunity to work on the excess during school terms, but I have certainly not brought anything into the house that was not needed. I can’t remember the last time I purchased anything on a whim; except for a book or two, but even my book purchasing is down 90 per cent on what it was. Magazine subscriptions have not been renewed. Maybe a three quarter tick?

I feel that I have changed quite a bit this year, already. Who would have thought that perfection can be improved, but if anyone can do, I am your woman!

I have really pushed my boundaries professionally. I am now working towards becoming an IT coach to other teachers, assisting them with including more ICT in their lesson and unit plans. It terrifies me to think that others will be depending on my meagre IT skills to expand their own, but I am committed to upskilling and so the journey has begun. I find it incredibly empowering, and rewarding as well.  Big tick!

My colleague taught me to realise that the only thing I control is myself, and that was a real ah ha moment (late Oprahism warning, sorry!). I use that knowledge numerous times each day and now I realise how much anxiety and stress I was creating for myself by trying to control that which I never had a hope of controlling.

I slip up frequently though when it comes to Mr FD, who still, after all these years, refuses to be controlled. Why he doesn’t learn I don’t know, but now I have developed a coping mechanism – when he refuse to heel, I look out the nearest window and go “lalalalala” in my head. I spend lots of time staring out of windows and lalalalaing  to the extent that when we are in the car, I feel like one of those dogs who love to hang their heads out the window and feel the wind in their ears, but hey it works. And of course I always hold out hope that eventually Mr FD will learn to do as he is told. He obviously has never made a resolution to change…  A tick for me, a “try to do better” for Mr FD.

Let’s not talk about exercise. Well, if we must, I have to admit that the only thing being exercised is my sense of guilt that I have not motivated myself to do anything more than to move from one end of the couch to the other. But I did move. I even fluffed the pillows with gusto. I worked up quite a sweat slapping that foam rubber about, so I am well on my way to increasing my exercise routine. Next week I might even contemplate moving to another room!

How is 2012 working for you? (Once again, pretend that I care).

smiley faces need not apply

Do you ever get the feeling that if one more piece of shit drops into your life that you are just going to implode? Explode too, and a big black hole will just appear where your brain was.

Life just never seems to balance up. One side will be great and then the other side just slides right on down to the gutter. It just never, ever balances out. What is the sense in that?

Maybe it is delusional to expect it to be otherwise, but you know, I would really like it to happen, for just 10 minutes sometime, just so I know that there is some reason to go on with this ridiculous routine.  I would clear my schedule, put a reminder message in my outlook email calendar, and shut the door so that I could just sit back to admire and marvel at my life in balance for those moments.

I promise I would even ooh and ahh in awe at its gloriousness. Afterwards I pledge to stop strangers on the street and tell them how wonderful it was, those minutes of having my life in balance. It can be done, you know, for I have seen it. It’s not a figurement of our collective imagination. 

I guess everyone needs a dream. It is just that I could think of at least a dozen otherdreams I would rather have, like a home on the west coast of New Zealand,  a life time of free travel in first class like Prime Ministers get, hair that didn’t start to grey in my early thirties, or the ability to eat absolutely anything in whatever quantity I wanted without having my cholesterol shoot through the roof. But no, I have to have a life that see saws from bad to worse.

Luckily, it doesn’t actually flat line at worst. Bad, worse, worst. So there is that. Yadda yadda yad small mercies. Give us a break. Do you hear, us? What we want? A Break! When do we want it? NOW!

That feels better.

Feeling good about your life? (Think very carefully before you answer that one, think about to whom you are replying, and remember misery only wants company).  Just pretend that I really care.