bits and pieces Saturday night

library desk

In bed, I was catching up on my Facebook page when a like and a comment appeared on one of my posts. It was from Mr FD. He was lying in bed beside me. Every bit the modern couple!

Petite Fille and her parents are safely ensconced in the spare bedrooms. A  family friend gave Petite Fille a Barbie airplane that his daughters had outgrown. I didn’t even know Barbie had a plane, but of course she would.

It is our opinion that it is perfectly created to for Barbie to play the air hostess, not the pilot. Not in our house! Luckily, Petite Fille is too young for barbie dolls, so Mr Bump, Surfing Snoopy, and a rag teddy crib toy have turns as the pilot, or the passenger. Then there are the assorted farms animals that hitch a ride from time to time. Equal opportunity air travel.

The first of week of school behind us, and I am yet to be able to claim my library back as a library. It has been used for laptop handout and student I.D photos, simultaneously, which resulted in trying to herd some two hundred students through the library at the same time. Brown’s cows would have lined up more cooperatively. They just seemed to find the concept of standing without lounging over everything, and moving in some sort of order as an impossibility. Mix that with the fact that we must be the only library in Australia without air conditioning, because the previous Principal couldn’t balance the books, and you can no doubt form an image of how the week went.

Back in the day, if we had to line up, it was with almost military precision. I have memories of having to be an arm’s length from each other, and we did measure it with an outstretched arm, and heaven forbid if we spoke when told not too. It was the era of the cane and corporal punishment of course. That was too much, but it seems to have swung too far the other way, and we are dealing with rude and self centred young beings who can recite their rights with no concept that anyone else has rights. Not all of them of course, but more than society needs, I feel.

I don’t blame the kids, it is the parenting that has failed. If they aren’t taught respect in the home, there will be no respect for anything or anyone. One day of school and the grounds were covered in rubbish. There must be a rubbish bin every thirty feet if not closer and yet they just litter the ground.

Respect for self and the environment is our ongoing theme, but sometimes it feels like we are making no difference at all. I guess we can only keep trying.

I didn’t mean to turn this in to a diatribe or a rant. I will blame it on my tiredness. Or my evilosity; it must out from time to time. Sanity control.





I ate no small fry and went full frontal

back view

First student day and I forgot to wrestle my niceness into some form of control and found myself promising a mother I would personally deliver her obviously quaking daughter to a particular teacher. She was a year seven student on her first day. Mum was obviously very reluctant to leave her when asked to depart with other parents, and before I knew it I had offered comfort to mother and child. Turns out the child is in fact a learning support student (damn double good browns points for me!) and I not only promised to connect her with a learning support teacher, but to also deliver a message that Mum would collect said daughter from the learning support area at day’s end.

Mission shortly accomplished, I found myself wondering just who did I think I was, Mother Teresa for instance.

Today only years 7 and 12 started school, and so we had the seniors wander the school showing the newbies to their various rooms, and helping them work out their timetables. I asked the Seniors to share the important information, such as which are the best toilets to use, or how to get served at tuckshop fast, but to share nothing that would scare them or have them refusing to return to school next day.

As a home class teacher, most of my day was taken up shepherding new students, but I did actually get in some library work which has left me feeling pretty chuffed with myself.

We did have to have our staff ID photos taken though, and I must admit that I forgot the pearls. I asked them if they could just photograph the back of my head, but they said no one would know who it was, if they did that. I replied, “Oh yes they would!” Minerva agreed. It is a noble head, well recognised by teachers and students. However, full frontal it was.

Tomorrow is another day.

A foodie’s salute to Australia Day

Or foods Jamie and Nigella would never tell you about.

January 26 is our Australia Day, the day the celebrates the arrival of the British First Fleet of convict ships, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788. It is the day that the indigenous world mourns.

We will be celebrating with a barbecue; surely the norm for the day. So to mark the celebrations I share with you  our foods, new and traditional that make Australia, well, Australia.


Australia Day 2016 11

Box brownie, memories and old friends


Hello Peoples,

Dry and warm, people of the northern hemisphere? Cool and away from bush fires, people of the southern hemisphere?

I have had a pleasant Sunday. Petite Fille and her Daddy drove out with some of her toys and other such necessities of life, as they are moving in during stage two of their house renovations.Tomorrow. The renovation could take up to five months. We will say no more.

Lunch was with two of my ladies who do lunch. One is nursing her teenage university student daughter who suffered burns to her hand in a hot cooking oil accident. Second friend has been suffering a mysterious ailment for several weeks now, for which the doctors are yet to name a reason. It may be ross river virus, though she has tested negative for that. Ross river has reached epidemic proportions in Queensland in recent years and it often returns a false negative result before final diagnosis, but either way she is quite ill and in great discomfort. My 2016 is looking pretty good so far!

I ordered a smoked salmon and crispy potato salad and it was soooo good. I wanted to lick the plate, but luckily had not yet succumbed to the desire when a gentleman approached our table to ask if we were long term local residents. I have dipped in and out over the years, but my companions have lived their entire lives in the area.

He explained that his father had been the local policeman about fifty years ago. At this stage, he gestured towards our ill friend and commented, “You would of course be too young to remember.” Third friend and I rolled our eyes at each other. I am one month older than said friend, the other some months younger! He was lucky I didn’t stab him with my dinner fork there and then.

He started to recount his memories, including seeing his first movie, Tammy ( the original one), with his aunt at the local movie theatre. Then he produced some small box brownie, black and white photographs and pointed to his then best friend. He was hoping to make contact with that friend.

Serendipity as it is, his friend is our electrician and lives two houses down from us! Search completed. He was overjoyed, but he didn’t top up our glasses for us in gratitude though. Hopefully, electrician will be happy to see him, or our future accounts for repairs may be somewhat larger!

Back home, I searched the back of the freezer for the sachet of lemon vodka sorbet that had been a Christmas gift from a colleague and spooned it into a glass. I had promised myself the pleasure of consuming it when I had to go back to work, and today seemed like a great time.

Tomorrow night, when I arrive home from school, our little house will have three more residents. I may need a lot of lunch dates with friends during the next five months!

what happens on conference, stays on conference

Or Going To The Scary Heights

From every conference the general idea is that there should be at least one thing – an idea, concept, inspiration or skill – that an attendee can take away with them. The general consensus from the conference we were forced to attend on Thursday and Friday was, how could a conference organised by educators be so bad? Totally useless. Most of the presenters, while articulate and often witty, appeared to have no point to their presentations. What was the message?

On the positive, we had some fun. Minerva and I got to hang out for two days and laugh. In fact, she had me laughing so much at one stage I developed a coughing attack. We had to sit in stadium seating and by the time we entered our designated centre had to sit third row from the back. The presenters were just specks on the stage. We felt like we were in the naughty kids rows and so it brought the worst out in us.

A couple of colleagues in the row in front of us, played hangman, and other games with the pen and notepad that was in our gift bag. The other gift was a stress ball from a health fund – a large tooth!

After the conference we were walking across the overhead footbridge between the convention centre and the hotel ,where we had stayed overnight, when the foot bridge started to sway. It is a wide cement bridge that crosses over double lanes of highway traffic, so its not some flimsy construction. Our guess is that with the huge numbers of people on the bridge our movement created some kind of resonance and the motion caused the bridge to sway.

It swayed so much that it became impossible to walk without clinging with both hands onto the railings. Even then it was nearly impossible to proceed, but we were so worried about the safety of the footbridge that we hurried along the best we could.

I had flashes of memory of that footbridge that collapsed in Israel a few years ago and a number of Jewish pilgrims, many from Australia were killed. Minerva told me this morning that she had a nightmare about it last night.

I have emailed the hotel and the convention centre to inform them of the incident. I asked if safety checks had been undertaken recently, and suggested that a sign should be erected warning people to limit numbers on the bridge. A traumatic end to the conference – it certainly wasn’t a conference worth dying for!

days of pearls and swine, and maybe wine

Pierre Cardin 1

When Minerva started back to work on Monday I sent her a text saying blithely, “The sooner you start the year, the sooner it will be over.” Now that I have to walk through the school gates tomorrow morning I just think, f*ck!

Mr FD was brave enough to offer the suggestion that “It will be nice to see you all your friends again,” and I actually allowed him to continue breathing.

If I wanted to catch up with “friends” from work, I would ask Minerva out to coffee.

Not that I am not “friendly” in the work place. In fact, I try to be everyone’s friend, to a point. I am not a socialising buddy, but in meetings I allow people to sit beside me. That’s a kindness as far as I am concerned. I am witty and entertaining as you would expect, great company in fact. However, I don’t think of them as friends. Three weeks after anyone leaves a workplace it is “who?” I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Don’t think you are irreplaceable or will be missed; there is always someone else to fill the chair.

Lordy, cynical and depressed, what a mix.

I can’t control tomorrow and my need for a wage, but at least I spent the day making some healthy snacks to take to school over the next week or so. I baked my mediterranean muffins, as well as a batch of flaxseed and rolled oat cookies. I also bought a large bag of nuts to keep in my desk drawer for when the munchies hit, or those days when it is too busy to stop for lunch and I can eat a handful of nuts on the way to class, or a meeting.

The changes I asked for late last year appear to be working their way through the system. Emails have already gone out initiating some of the changes, including not sending students to the library when they choose not to bring their laptop to school. The ones in most need of doing their work naturally are the ones who do this, and it follows that even when they get sent to the library, without real supervision they do nothing except cause trouble.  I am grateful that the Principal is willing to work with me and not just apportion blame on the person highlighting the problem,  rather than see where the real issues lie.

I slept in, and then dashed downtown to get a blood test. I have been trying to eat more healthily since the end of school and wanted to see if my evil cholesterol had decreased in anyway – before my bad school term habits set in again. I have no illusion that they will. On the positive side when I was in the doctor’s surgery last week my blood pressure was absolutely normal. White coat syndrome didn’t hit for once. Of course I still take medication for it; I suspect I always will.

When I returned home from the testing I made a last day of holiday breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs and tomatoes. Augie did his bacon dance, which consists of dashing back and forth behind me as I cook and naturally garnered bacon as well. We had sausages for dinner and he scored one of those too. Bad dog!

Dear little Peppercorn, now six weeks old and weighing three pound more that her birth weight, has been diagnosed as being partially tongue and lip tied. She is to have laser surgery tomorrow morning.

It breaks my heart that she has to undergo medical treatment, even though we know it is for the best. It’s fixable, I know, and not life threatening, but to think that tiny little bundle has to undergo pain and discomfort is just horrible. Luckily, her paternal grandparents are staying in Perth and so will be there to help with her recovery. Arms to nurse her when she is sad. They are as in love with her as we are. Her favourite spot is sleeping on her Grandpa. Her Daddy’s family is a very loving family, so Peppercorn is blessed to have so many people to love and care for her. Like all grandparents, we would gladly suffer the pain for her. I am trying to not think about it, and I suppose the one blessing of going back to work is that I will be occupied.

Anyway, I just wanted to warn you the craziness it about to recommence. Hold you to your hat! Better still, stock the liquor cabinet.



reality at the end of the tunnel


This is back to the real world week. We report for work on Wednesday for the first of a couple student student free days, then a two day conference which includes an overnighter. The students return on the 27th, the day after the Australia Day holiday.

I should not complain as poor Minerva had to report this morning as she is classed as a school officer and so do not have the same holiday conditions. In fact they don’t get paid over the holidays at all. They annualise their wages to cover the holiday downtime. People in education are not paid nearly enough for their loyalty, or for what they do.

I have been missing in action lately. I went back to the City for a couple days, only to return with a stomach bug that poor Petite Fille had suffered first. A day or two of fasting certainly won’t hurt me! I just want to be well by Wednesday.

This is my year of creativity. I have a number of projects I want to initiate at work, and I wonder where I am gong to find the time and possibly the energy to complete them all. Not that they all have to be done at once, but there is only me to do most of it. We are officially understaffed but there is no way I am going to get extra staff. The few times I have been loaned an extra person to assist for a few hours it is someone who has absolutely none of the skills we require. Once or twice a “Work for the dole” person has been assigned to us and it has always ended in disaster. Low literacy is not what we need as a library assistant, and especially someone with severe dyslexia!

Everyone thinks working in a library is easy work. They don’t realise how much attention to detail is required, nor how physical it can be moving large amounts of books, especially heavy textbooks. I saw a photo of a coffee mug yesterday which had the statement, “Don’t confuse your google search with my library degree!” ‘Nuff said. It’s actually an applied science degree.

library degree

To jump start, I spent a day last week putting together a welcome newsletter for staff. We have a number of new staff and so I have tried to make the list of dos and don’ts for the Library not actually look like a list of dos and don’ts. I don’t want to be lecturing, but there are some nasty misdemeanours the teachers do every year that really come back to haunt the library as the year goes on. It seems as long as it comes out of the school budget and not their own pockets that many teachers do not care about resources or textbooks, except when they can’t get something they want NOW! Hopefully, I accomplished a short two page newsletter with information and procedures that is attractive and interesting enough to actually get them to read it. At least I have something in print to prove that were officially told so I can bite them on the knee cap, or sic Minerva onto them, at a later date. It’s how we get our big jollies after all – being mean to teachers and students.

It’s a lovely day outside, and not too hot, so I am going to wake Augie Dog from his midmorning nap in the hallway, (obviously the coolest place in the house at the intersection of a number of breezes) and walk around my garden for awhile. Taking time for me.



A step at a time, a day at a time: new habits


A post of the Red Shoe Project 2016


Next Wednesday, the teachers’ school year starts for our school. In the spirit of living a simple life and minimalism, I have been thinking about how I am going to approach a new school year.

Four years have passed at this school, and things were not always great towards the end of last year. I brought a few things to a head and asked for more than a few changes, which I hope Admin with honour after all their promises. I have my part to play as well.

So, I have dusted off the holiday grey matter and tried to craft a little set of new habits to support my intentions.

Stay focused. I can go off agenda fairly easily when I choose. Make my to do list, my tomorrow list. This year, I am going to break tasks up into small chunks, but follow through with more care and attention. Not just the stuff I want to do, but the staff I have to do.

Be creative. Or rather, find a way to include a creative aspect to every day. I want to upscale my displays and add more wonder and awe to our library, so I am aiming to put aside 30 minutes each day to plan and follow through on a creative endeavor.

Read books. I’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest for a start. Okay, a lot of it is curating resources and information for teachers and students, but I need to read more of the books on our library shelves. So, maybe a target of twenty pages a day? I think that is attainable.

Express gratitude. This can be damn hard some days. Our Principal is in the habit of saying that the students are ”gift to us”. Not sure that I can be that grateful, but at least I can try to listen more to others and  to walk a little in their shoes before adding them to my stick list (the people I am going to hit with a stick on my last day in the job). Maybe collecting the positives and not the negatives in each day? Perhaps, if I try to have one amusing, or interesting anecdote to share with my family at the end of each day, it might help me to express more gratitude.

Meditate. Not something to do at school, certainly, but if I try to spend five or ten minutes either end of the day meditating, or just being silent and still, it may help me through the noise and bustle of my school day. Focus and refocus.

Innovation. One can only try.

looking back to the present


Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, January 2011

It is five years since the devastating Queensland floods. Five years and the body of my cousin has never been found. Three people are still missing from that horrible day.

Life does change in an instant, a minute, an hour, a day. However, no matter how often we are reminded of that, we still forget to make the most of each of those days. To appreciate what we have, to show our love to the ones we too often take for granted. To be grateful and to live that gratitude.

A couple of times I have had major health issues – an eye tumour, cancer, and each time I know that I am lucky to not only survive, but to prosper. If I am honest with myself however, these intrusions in my life soon lose any impact they might have had on the intentions I might have had to live “a better life”.

I never stick with the healthy diet, or the bucket list, or stop to smell the roses more often. Just like every other person in the world, my life is soon sucked back into the drama of a very mundane every day life. A job I like some days and hate on others. Chores and a must do list.

Sometimes, at night in bed, I wonder about how I allowed myself to lose the plot so easily; but is it me, is it them, so many people who depend on me…

Sometimes, as night in bed, I wonder where the final resting place of my cousin may be. I wonder why the universe is so, and why we have allowed this world to be as it is.

I have more years behind me, than in front of me now. I try to tell and show the people I love that they are indeed loved. I try to nurture a peaceful heart, for I feel that if I can have a peaceful heart then I can judge my life a happy one and I won’t have regrets. I will have had it all.

The richest woman in the world


No, I have not run away, I have been in the City visiting Petite Fille. One morning we went to the State Library and GOMA.

As soon as I walk into the children’s play area of the State Library I always have such a pang of desire to be a little person’s Librarian. I have such envy of what a large budget and a team of creative artists can do for a Librarian!

Petite Fille had great fun making peg people and playing in cardboard houses.

I am not one of those Grandmas who take over a child’s craft project. If Petite Fille wants to cover her peg lady in wool hair from top to toe she can. As well, she can wrap the whole lot tight in an arm’s length of sticky tape if the whim takes hold.


We had morning tea in the garden cafe at GOMA and I walked with Petite Fille through the water feature. At first she was frightened and held my hand as we walked over the stepping stones. As we retraced our steps a few times, she gradually let go of my hand. I walked beside her, then behind her, until I quietly stopped and waited as she walked across herself, unaware I was no longer following. We both clapped our hands in joy as she realised “I did it!”

It might be a small thing to others, but it was a very special moment for me. It makes me happy just to think of her happy little face as she experienced overcoming her fear and experiencing success.

The next afternoon her parents went to the movies and dinner, leaving Petite Fille and I home alone. I wore pink fairy wings, a blue tiara and danced with my magic wand with Petite Fille. We also built a house with two chairs and a blanket under which we shared tea.

Petite Fille stopped mid fantasy and said,”Grandma, I like playing with you.”

Earlier, she had told her mother that “Grandma is my very best friend.”

The gift of a three year olds love – what more could anyone want in life?