met a duck, should have eaten pâté

The author ran a little late and seemed a little brittle and our students were rambunctious. We almost lost them when one student made a slightly “smart” remark and she treated him like a heckler, but I do think they got something from the presentation. There were three or four girls amongst the group who had a ready series of questions and tracked said author between sessions to ask her more questions, so I suspect maybe one or two may have had a life changing moment and that is more than what a TL can ever hope for, so I was well pleased.

Second session was  goal setting with a group of our senior indigenous students and that went really well. It was a group of about 20 and so more one to one. They impressed her as they had firm goals in mind.

The teacher session was attended by about a dozen, many sadly not English or History teachers who would have gained the most from it, but the Principal did attend and I made sure he got his photo taken with the author. Never one to miss an opportunity he hit the author up for a quote to use in a grant application. She was wary and asked to be emailed details. I admire his Irish chutzpah.

She is a very confident and intelligent woman, but I don’t think she liked being with us. I don’t think we are her area of interest and maybe she is just on the tour for money, well, of course she would be, but I found myself disliking her as the day wore on. Not that she may have liked me all that much either. Neither opinion means much in the scheme of things as I am sure our paths won’t cross again, but isn’t it funny how you can form an opinion of someone from one impression, much like a first date, only to have more exposure erode that opinion? Third date, you’re out!

For next year I am in negotiations to get an author that our students actually study, but as she lives in another state we will have to pay flights and accommodation, so I am trying to find a couple other schools to join in sharing the costs. Yes, already planning 2014! Scared me too…


“There’s an epigram tacked to my office bulletin board, pinched from a magazine — “Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté.”
―     Margaret Atwood,     Negotiating with the Dead

elegance and joie de vivre – off with their heads!


This elegance gig may just have legs! I breezed into the library, dressed to the heights of  my teacher sophistication (is there any other? no there is not!), greeted everyone with a smile, emailed the many brilliant ideas and suggestions that had occurred to me over the break to the powers that be, or aren’t, and just kept oozing joie de vivre all day.

I joied de vivred even when I truly, madly, desperately desired  to kick people and even tried to maintain an exultation of spirit during a rather surreal conversation with a fellow teacher who may have just smoked one too many of his socks last night and appeared not to quite be aware that he was speaking directly to me as he referred to me as if I was  a third person. Interesting day…

I think I have everything in place for our author visit tomorrow. Venue, sound systems, screens, projectors, food for said author etc.etc.etc. I have just written a witty, but memorable introduction to present.  I am running one session in the hall for grades 8-10, then our years 11 and 12 indigenous students get a session, and the third session is one for teachers and will centre on the new Australian curriculum. The teachers’ session worries me the most, as our bunch are rather slack in attending another that isn’t forced upon them after school.

We are paying a lot of money for this author, plus it will be embarrassing if I am the only one sitting there listening to her, so I shall have to hope they can be motivated to attend. Lawyer Daughter2 says that I can’t round up people with my stick, but I think I should not rest on her judgement – mother always knows best …

I am from the planet of elegance.


Dorian Leigh 1Term starts tomorrow, the last in the run up to the end of the year. 10 weeks. I have chosen a theme for my term, and that is elegance. Everything I do and am will be centred on elegance this term. Why elegance you wonder?

Elegance is not just beautiful, or tasteful;  it is also means effective and simple. I shall bring elegance to my days by focussing on the essentials of those days. My methods may not always be obvious, but they will be efficacious.

So, when I am whining and whinging and feeling sorry for myself, soon, tomorrow,  remind me that my aim. above all things is to be elegant. When my depression tries to gain a grip remind me again, please. If I focus on that theme surely I will make it through?


I  am from the planet of elegance.
Ron Carter



the pork belly holidays

travel 1

Authors wear red shoes. Of the four authors I listened to this week, three of the four wore red shoes. I suspect had number four possessed a closet full of red shoes at home. Obviously ruby slippers are required to be a published author, at least in the field of children’s literature or within the fantasy genre.

We went to MONA, the museum of old and new art. The director, and ageing rocker, lives on site and his car park is marked GOD and the adjoining car space is marked God’s Mistress. After a viewing of the amount of money, not always wisely spent in my not so humble opinion, I don’t think the description was actually made in jest. I have predicted a financial scandal in a year or two, perhaps with a change of state government, about misspent monies, but as you might ask, who am I to speak so? The place is not wheelchair friendly, with only one tiny elevator, and I fear a fire trap as signage is minimal and one of those places where you can’t find your own way out without an employee condescendingly telling you the way… all filled with existential art of body pieces, gendered pieces, blood and vomit, and poor little stuffed animals. I think if I just channel some of Mr FD’s wilder dream moments I could make a killing in the art world… and no, I am not a modern art heathen, I can deconstruct gender, race and culture along with the best, and make meaning where there is nothing except crap art.

Every time I mentioned that I was in Hobart attending a librarian’s conference, the stock answer I received was “that must be relaxing”. Hell no, we had so much technology on that the hotel had to install an extra router to cope with our traffic! A delegate stated she had been at a similar event in England recently, and she had been the only one using an ipad – that was relaxing, and probably a little boring. As Michael Moore states, librarians are subversive!

A vacation a few years ago, we ate seafood chowder everywhere we went, as it was on every menu. The last vacation, the trend was braised lamb shanks. This time, pork belly is la mode. Every menu had a pork belly meal; even the breakfast we enjoyed at MONA provided pork belly in place of bacon. I sent a text to Daughter1 stating we were enjoying our “Pork Belly Holidays” and she replied that Mr Boy had ordered pork belly that very lunch! It gave Mr FD and me a running joke about pork belly futures. Have you ever noted how Wall Street always lists pork belly futures? You can trade in pork bellies. My opinion, because I know my investments as well as my art, is that pork bellies are just about to peak, so sell, sell, sell.

I condescendingly explained to Mr FD how mason jars were the in vessel for everything from lighting to drink vessels. As the generation that grew up drinking from vegemite and jam glasses, I cannot see the excitement in drinking from a mason jar that no doubt costs nine more than they did when they were just used for jam making. The very next meal my lemon lime and bitters was served to me in a tall mason jar that looked very much like the pickled onion jar our Christmas onions always come in. I went back to drinking wine after that, at least it came in a real glass!

On our last day, we drove towards Port Arthur and stopped for lunch in a lovely bay side café in the village of Donnelly in an area ravaged by fires earlier this year. Acres and acres of burnt forests and properties, houses included. Normally, a busy tourist area they have had tough times since the fire and we thought we would spread some of our tourist dollars and in return got to eat a superb meal overlooking the water. The trees have all been burnt bare and black, but nature being what it is, is fighting back, and most of the trees are sporting new green growth. It is energetic growth, often starting at the tree’s base and winding its way to the tree tops like an ivy vine wrapping around a pole. The trees are so straight and the cluster of leaves so green and full, that I was left with the thought that they look like those aluminium trees that we all had in our childhood, which folded away after Christmas and stood like a green cloaked pole in a cupboard until the next yule season, its branches just waiting to be teased out again.

We went to the town of Oaklands which is all historic buildings and an historian’s dream come true. There are stone walls throughout the township, and a little plaque stated that the walls were built in modern times – by women! Up to fourteen women at any one time built the walls, and they were so exact and beautiful – real works of art. Go Girls!

We met a tartan skirted woman in the elevator. She had short no nonsense hair, a plain pullover and a pendant chain having around her neck. Mr FD spent the entire conference culling out the librarians from the crowd and so announced her as a librarian at first sight. Such a stereotype, I was embarrassed! I was somewhat cheered to see her enter the local fish restaurant with a dread locked female companion later that night, but saddened to say she carried on with the tartan all conference.

Most of my networking took place waiting for elevators. It was an 18 floor hotel and the elevator had the idiosyncrasie of stopping at every floor, even if no one had called it. I was soon announcing to companions that I had heard tell that librarians had met, married and had book reading children while waiting for the lift. This would have been a pretty good feat because the few males in our group were obviously gay, and the majority of women, past the age of going there and doing that!

Holiday mantra – always take the direct flight. QANTAS no longer does direct flights to Hobart. So we had to take a flight to Melbourne and then another to Hobart. We left Brisbane two hours late, and that meant we missed our connecting flight. Then the nightmare grew darker. Let’s just say that at one stage we had three difference flight numbers. By the time they finally called a Hobart flight the crowd was getting ugly, led by an old drunken floozy, who hadn’t recognised old floozy had gone out of fashion decades ago. For some reason she attached herself to MR FD and I and liked to declare, flashing diamond clad fingers and wrists, how QANTAS was going to pay for this and if they lost he luggage, and she had been shopping all week in Melbourne so she had LUGGAGE. Also how she was going to phone the husband of a girlfriend who was “as high as you can get in QANTAS” and give him a piece of her mind, not that he probably wanted pickled grey cells, but QANTAS had delayed her return and that meant that her husband had to collect her cat from the cattery… luckily we were seated in another part of the plane and made it into Hobart at 10pm, exhausted.

We spotted Bill Shorten at Hobart airport. Bill Shorten is a wannabe for the leadership of the Labor party and part of the assassination party of Kevin Rudd. The party members are to vote this week on a new part leader and Bill is crisscrossing the country trying to garner grass roots support for the job. Hobart airport is like a small provincial airport, despite Hobart being the capital of Tasmania, so there aren’t many places to hide, but Bill and his two young corporate female companions managed to hide, in what we guessed was the QANTAS lounge. He popped his head out once, only to retreat as they announced the flight was delayed. Eventually he did make his flight, but only appearing after everyone else had loaded. Such importance! You know how people that you see on TV always look fatter, thinner, taller, shorted when you see them in person? Well, Bill looked just like he does on TV, forehead too big for his body. And to think don’t hate him at all!

My favourite towns in Tasmania this trip were Richmond, Bothwell and Oatlands, all historic towns dating back to the first English settlement of the area back in convict times. I have been known to stroke old hand crafted bricks, so I was feeding my addiction. Mr FD wasn’t always feeling the joy, I would like to say because of his flu, and sometimes dozed in the car while I indulged myself with texture love and oh yes, retail therapy (a granddaughter gives a whole new field of retail to explore!).

I packed too much. I had congratulated myself in the past for learning to pack sparingly, but it blew out this time. I allowed the conference and the fact that I really wanted to wear summer clothing to psyche me out and so packed clothes I was never going to wear, and ended up wearing the same pair of jeans for days on end after the conference. Mr FD couldn’t complain as he always packs too much.

The elevator at the second hotel was fast, very fast but then of course the hotel only had three floors and we were on the first. Why take the elevator one floor? Mr FD’s knee has not improved despite the treatment and he will need a knee replacement after all, plus he had the flu and so we took the elevator. I went up the stairs once, sans Mr FD but they were so narrow and rickety, circa 1800s that I chose the lift even when solo. So we had modern and every comfort, and historic and dank in our hotel experience. I put my hand put my hand up for modern and every comfort every time, and Mr FD won’t try that again!

We visited an amenities (public toilet) block that had been made from the stone blocks of a church, and so I took photos and sent then to everyone, as I knew they would enjoy the metaphor. The locals must have as well because they had a plaque declaring such on the front of the toilets! There was a sad little cemetery adjoining with lots of tombstones of children; the price paid for living so far away from help, not that medicine could do much back then. Medicine stills fails us at times.


Niece sent through a message that BIL who had enjoyed a couple days at home had returned to hospital for pain management. Every beautiful moment we had, we included BIL in our thoughts and tried to share the peace and strength of the place with him in our hearts, to send him peace and strength . BIL reminds us not to worry the small stuff.

On our first day we saw a magnificent double rainbow over Constitution Dock  from our hotel (as we waited for the elevator!) and I sent a photo of it to my sister, who replied that she always considers a rainbow a message. Well, we went on to see two more rainbows in the following days. So whatever the message, I hope it is a good one!

Hobart rainbow

The journey home was delay free and we actually got a meal instead of crackers, cheese and a pickle, for dinner. Son and Mr Boy collected us from the airport, bless them. Tuesday school commences fourth term – and yes, I came back with Mr FD’s flu. Life is good, if not fair…

“I really didn’t realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group.
They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them. You know, they’ve had their budgets cut. They’re paid nothing. Books are falling apart. The libraries are just like the ass end of everything, right?

Michael Moore