writing Viola Dana

Haven’t knocked anyone off in the last few days; well, not that I know of anyway!

I sensed a rather low mood coming on this morning, but tried to laugh with colleagues and to do some creative things to lighten the emotions. We are promoting NaNoWriMo at school this weekend, so I set up a wall display for that. We have staff bringing in old typewriters tomorrow as props too.

We don’t really expect any of our students to write a 30,000 word novel in a month, but it is a way of promoting literacy which is our tool of trade! Plus we will have some fun! The group will meet every Monday after school in the library to write and share. I hope there are enough students to form a group!

It’s a nice display anyway!

a stick in the hand…

Stick list 1

Friend asked me not to stroke her hand any time soon, today! Do you think I can retire the stick and just threaten “the hand”? Maybe I should insure my hand for some astronomical amount of money like dancers insure their legs!

The day after our Dad passed away there was an incredible hail storm that afternoon after he died. My sister and I were out making funeral arrangements and her car was damaged by hail. At the time we joked that Dad must have been really pissed off about having died (he was only 76)!

Today, Sister backed her car into her daughter’s car, stress and exhaustion I expect. Then were severe storms this afternoon.

Even I am starting to believe we are not a family to mess with!


[Does the woman in the photo above look as though she is patrolling the boys’ showers to you?]

Beware the powers of the Flamingo Dancer


BIL passed away early Monday evening. His daughter sat on one side of his bed, his wife, my sister sat on the other. I stroked his hand to say goodbye and as I said “I’ll see you on down the road” his face relaxed and his breathing stopped.

Black humour as it is, the family tale is that I killed him!

If you don’t laugh, you cry…

a bridge to the future


Sunday and Son is out working in our large garden doing the heavy work for me. Mr FD is having a Sunday snooze before he has to go to the city and work on preparing his parents house for sale. I am obviously writing this post, with Augie Dog snoozing at my feet, and wandering how to gather the strength for another week. Shortly, I will  spend time with my mother in her twilight zone, making no mention of the sadness that we share.

Last week was such a physical and emotional roller coaster on the work and family front. Each day I woke not sure what day it was but secure in the knowledge that I had to perform, perform, perform.

This week will be spent waiting for the phone call that we are all dreading, summoning us to my sister’s side. The clock ticks on.

I think I need a long visit with Petit Fille. I need one of her open mouthed kissing licks that only an eight month old can gift. I need to sit on the floor and squeak toys and cuddle on the couch to read books. I need to drink tea from large cups with her mother and remember how very, very lucky we have all been and how for a very long time we had it all.

in the land between

This wise guy was chilling it out down amongst the trees at the front of our property and took no notice of Mr FD and I as we took a photo of him. I suspect he even puffed up his pose for us a little more!

wise Owl

wise Owl

We lunched in the city at a restaurant and I had an odd little chardonnay with my wurst salad. Wurst salad is the modern equivalent  of the ploughman’s lunch – cheese, cold meats, pickle and radish. It was delicious though perhaps a little less salad dressing would have made it perfect. I just kept hoping the it was an olive oil dressing and therefore good for my arteries! wurst salad In the afternoon, we visited with BIL. No hospital picnics this time.

He is conscious, and he knew us, but his voice is almost inaudible and he starts a sentence and both volume and subject just trail away. Despite his illness and broken hip he has developed a Houdini act of crawling over the side of the bed rails between the rails and the end of the bed and has taken a couple of tumbles, including the one I mentioned last week. So, they have him in a bed that apparently costs about $40,000AUS that has an alarm that will sound at the nurses’ station if he sits up (his room is across from the nurses’ station) giving them time to run to stop him. It is quite the technical bed, with a mattress that puffs up in areas to relive pressure areas, and extends at the foot end as he slips down the bed (he is only 5ft 6 in so there is some room to go!) The calcium is leaking from his bones and this is part of the reason for the confusion. Eventually he will get drowsy and fall into a coma. He is also on morphine which will have its own impact. His kidneys are still working but his bowels and bladder weren’t doing their bit today.

It is so odd to ponder the gap that is about to open in our family. It is different when it is an aged parent, but when it is a family member of the “younger” peer generation it is almost surreal. We are walking in the land between life and death. We all have to face our cycle of life at some time, can anything ever prepare us for it though?

It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely.

librarian 1

I wake each morning, not sure which day of the week it is, but certain that it is a work day. Monday and Wednesday were full days of professional learning, Tuesday and Thursday days of trying to catch up and to put some of what I have learned these past ten days into action before I forget it all.

I take notes during workshops and seminars and then go over them the next day while they still make some sense. I try to have a look at any new online resources that I have learned or viewed; then there is information to follow up on, and information to share, and all the things that happen in a normal school day, including teaching and supervising pesky students. Small wonder that my little grey cells ache by the end of the day. Life long learning is going to end my life soon!

“It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within–not without.” ~ Poirot”
―     Agatha Christie

Sunday arvo

Recipes lily sandwiches

We visited with BIL this afternoon. Earlier in the day I had been told he was in a private room so I prepared a hospital picnic and took it along. Arriving at the hospital we found that BIL had taken a tumble late morning, trying to make it to the bathroom alone when no nurse came to help, bumping his head and cutting his hand, so they had “punished” him by moving him to a four bed ward, where they ignored him anew. He is in the orthopaedic ward and they are nowhere near as caring of dying people…hopefully they will move him back to palliative care soon.

Unperturbed by the presence of others, I set out my picnic fair and we toasted BIL with glasses of old fashioned lemonade and tucked into the food with a slight frenzy. We even got BIL to eat more than we expected which was gratifying as he is so thin now. As Mr FD observed on the drive home “he looks like a man with cancer”, as he is.

BIL seemed a little confused, which I hope was just the pain medication and not another sinister turn. He speaks so softly, just above a raspy whisper. A shadow of a man.

Our little festivity was interrupted by a call from a nearby bed by a male voice asking “Would your mate mind lifting my leg into bed, please?” A look of horror passed over Mr FD’s face when he realised he was the “mate” being referred to, but he did assist the poor man to lift his bandaged leg into a more comfortable position. Once again, the nurses were nowhere to be seen.

There have been so many cuts in the health system thanks to our new state government that there are not enough nurses on the wards, and no doubt those that are, must be stressed and exhausted. Certainly the ones we saw today were not in the best of mind frames; not even for the dying, as I said.

Oh, and their solution for BIL’s bathroom needs? To sit a large bedpan on his meal tray. Yeah, I am sure he can use that solo with a fractured hip. The man is dying, do they have to tear away his last shreds of dignity? Who could blame him if he asked Scotty to beam him up?

’twas a week


It was a strange kind of week. After working with Minerva for over eighteen months I realised just difficult she found it to be flexible. Our Library was gutted (all stacks are on wheels) so that we could hold a student art exhibition and fashion show on Friday night. Minerva was stressing out for many days before hand, trying to force me to lay down all sorts of rules and regulations.

Some of her suggestions were well founded and I did follow up. Others showed me just how much she has to sense she has control. Of course she can argue that on the day all the moving was going on I was sitting at the round table with the Principal; not that I would consider that an out for me! I actually reminded her that all she had to do was supervise furniture removal but I got to spend a whole day with the boss. That did silence her a little!

Actually our big day out was not as uncomfortable as I anticipated. We were seated at a round table and I was able to place two other teachers between me and the boss which worked just fine. I could join in conversation when it suited and pretend I couldn’t hear when I needed too!

Isn’t it sad though when you realise that your Fearless Leader has an IQ several rungs lower than you would consider necessary? I knew he was one to focus on an idea and go with it, no matter what others suggested. Also that he often shot from the hip without research , having been the victim of one of those shots recently. So the feet of clay were noted, but the IQ was a little startling. It meant that he often grabbed a minor point and missed the big picture stuff and then we all had to dance around trying to get him to release his misconception.

This week I learnt that research shows that class size has no impact on student learning. Also that one in five students goes to school and no one, teacher or fellow student, will talk to them in a day. And 80 percent of what students learn in the classroom they learn from peers, but only 20 percent of that is correct! I learnt other things as well, but I think those facts will stun you enough!

Minerva was on her day off Friday and so not there for the final preparations for the gala event. I sent her a text bemoaning the fate of our carpet, as finger food became floor food, just to stir her along. I am confident the cleaners will have been in before Monday, when Minerva gets to return the library to its former glory and I am at a TL professional day, but Minerva was still asking if I was taking all to task. She doesn’t understand that teachers do these things because they must, and they are not event organisers so they are just as lost as everyone else. No point in making enemies and it is the school community’s library, not just ours.

It is a concern though how libraries are expected to be so many things these days. Maker spaces are the in concepts at the moment. Creativity does have a huge impact on learning, but whether the library is place for it is another thing! Not sure if glitter and feathers show dominate reading. We poor librarians are expected to be all things to all people today and we strive to please, even if it exhausts us!

So, this week two TL professional days to attend. I shall continue my red count – it amuses me how many librarians wear red, especially in winter, so I count and comment to Minerva. I wear red sometimes, but never to TL events – I must always stand out.

library love

the feasibility of a cup of tea at an unusual hour


There is an old saying amongst local university students that “it is too late to study once the jacarandas are in bloom”. As I drove through the main street of our village this morning the brilliant purple blooms of the jacarandas greeted me and I thought of that saying. It takes on a slightly different meaning when one is a teacher and no longer a student though!

The jacarandas where is bloom last year as we moved to our house on the hill in the village. A year has almost passed since we moved from the city to our tree change paradise, and my, what a year it has been.

As we moved,  Daughter2 moved to Perth taking a piece of my heart with her, but it has been a positive move for her as she has a good life there and has met Mr Maybe Right!

2014 brought the arrival of our grand daughter Petite Fille who is the most perfect baby girl in the whole world. She had her first swimming lesson earlier this week. At seven and a half months she was kicking her legs like a little fish by the end of the lesson!

Sadly, Mr FD lost his mother not many weeks after she got to hold Petite Fille, her first great grandchild. She had been told though that two more great grandchildren, twins, were on their way (Mr FD’s niece’s babies, now expected any day – little boys!).

BIL has been the centre of family in recent weeks. On Sunday he sat up in bed and fractured his hip, a common occurrence with bone cancer. This morning they operated on his hip and knee. Next week they may have to operate on his other hip. It all seems so unfair.

Tomorrow I have to drive into the centre of the city for some professional development. An hour in the traffic and I know I will be craving my country home! I also get to spend the entire day in a workshop with the School Principal! We all love spending the day up close and personal with the boss, don’t we?

The next post may be very interesting…

“The proper, wise balancing
of one’s whole life may depend upon the
feasibility of a cup of tea at an unusual hour.”
―     Arnold Bennett,     How to Live on 24 Hours a Day


Incredibly busy weekend as Daughter2 flew home from Perth to see her Uncle BIL in palliative care. Mr FD and I still have respiratory infections so we were unable to visit with BIL, instead taking D2 to the hospital and then spending time in the cafeteria while she was with her uncle. He asked her to come back in the afternoon, after he had rested a little, and so we went and had lunch before she returned for a second visit. We couldn’t face the cafeteria a second time, so Mr FD and I put the seats back in our car and listened to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

I think we dozed more than we listened because it was nearly an hour later that I actually thought about the narrative we were listening to and realised that the CD player had some how been switched to random and so we had been listening to the chapters out of order! No, not a drop of alcohol or any of BIL’s medication had passed our lips.

Then we took D2 back to Brisbane where she spent the night with her sister, before they drove out to us, with Petite Fille for lunch and a visit with their Grandmother in her care facility. D2 then had the 5 hour flight back to Perth to be at work Monday morning!

Weekends are so segmented these days. Visits with BIL, my mother and then time spent with Petite Fille as we want to be a real part of her life. Two days are just not enough, and then there are my continual health issues, an immune system that can be challenged by a butterfly flapping its wings in an Amazonian rainforest!

I miss D2 dreadfully since she moved to Perth. She has built a good life there, even appearing to have met Mr Right. We are yet to meet Mr Right due to the tyranny of distance, but all signs (Mum, we are moving in together!) are that he is a permanent family member now. Hopefully, by Christmas we shall meet and greet, and not frighten him with our magnificence too much. At least he has Mr Boy (Petite Fille’s daddy) to look to for survival advice!

Children come to share your nest, then they leave for their own lives, before returning to make that nest bigger and better. And so it goes…