Don’t just smell the flowers – make them


I’ve tried to be more creative this year, professionally and privately.

In the school library, I have tried to make displays that are big and “in your face”, or interactive. Minerva, my erstwhile assistant, and I spent several weeks making large flowers from tissue paper for a “bloom and read” display. It was a big compliment for us when the art department asked for the flowers when we dismantled the display. They will be reused in their arts gala later in the year.

The interesting side bar, or maybe even the most important result, is the change that our flower making brought about in Minerva. In the six years I have worked with Minerva she has always claimed that she has no creativity, no creative abilities or talents. Of course, we all possess “creativity”; what we lack is confidence. Minerva was no different.

The simple act of folding paper flowers, experiencing the joy of creation, and sharing the positive reactions and comments of our community has opened a new mindset for Minerva that was totally unexpected. Now, instead of standing back and watching me create displays she is participating, to the point the she is picking items up off the side of the road to include in our work. She is also taking this mindset into her own life, looking at the world through a different lens.

It really is true that every journey starts with the first step, or in this case, the first tissue flower.






a story of beetroots and little girls


conversation 2

Hello, Peoples!

My week has been varied. First week of term, new classes for me, more students to remember. I am dreadful with names, especially if they are Pacifika names. The names of Sudanese girls often trip me up too, and though I try my hardest to get the pronunciation correct, but it is not one of my better skills, so I often exasperate the students. I can but try my best.

Friday I went to a Teacher Librarian conference which had no TL focus but rather was on innovation and creativity; and was great. I really enjoyed the content. The brown paper bag lunch they provided was obviously at the lower end of the budget, but we survived. These days, I find, because I have been thundering around for a couple of years and making my opinions known, I have people seeking me out at conference, which is great for my ego, but it is so exhausting being nice. I am an outlier, and there I sit, and in these days of innovation and creativity, it appears a little more welcome.  Maybe, it is because I show that I really don’t care anymore. I don’t care about being mainstream.

I was told to cease and desist on my the makerspace, but if you can’t go over it, go around it, so I am seeking less visible ways (to administration) to achieve my goal. First up is seeking out two exercise bikes. I am hoping a couple of someone’s will donate them to us. One can but ask. If not I will put into my next budget  as library “furniture”.

The house is much quieter since Petite Fille and her parents moved back to their home. The conference I attended was in the city, so I spent the night before at what I now call their boutique hotel (they have a butler’s pantry bigger than many kitchens we had in previous houses!) Friday afternoon I was to return home to the country, but Petite Fille had a sad face, so Grandma agreed to spend another night.

Saturday morning we decided on coffee and cake, and Petite Fille was so excited at the thought of a “treat” – she is a no sugar child. She was allowed a lamington, which we hoped would go under the radar of her father’s approval (he was absent though!) When it arrived it was a vegan, beetroot lamington which ticked all the boxes. The Big Whatever must have been watching over us today! I could hear generations of long gone CWA Ladies (Country Women’s Association) rolling over in their graves – no sugar and beetroot in a lamington. From the way it disappeared I suspect there was in fact little to complain about!

I dropped into an office supplies store on the way home and purchased a set of neon coloured sharpies, so I am off to play with my pens! Not that I can draw, but I shall amuse myself never the less.


teaching : damned if you do and dammed if you don’t

Fickle FInger of FateSitting before the mirror at the hair salon yesterday, the face looking back at me was tired. Exhausted. Its been a busy six months; Petite Fille and her parents living with us and I am trying to create and innovate at work more. It all means that I fall asleep most nights before I really want to, but I am too exhausted to continue.

This week I am trying to get a Makerspace off the ground. Not a token space with colouring in and cardboard, but a makerspace with technology. It feels like I am pushing a boulder up a mountain, as I fear our admin doesn’t have a mindset for technological innovation, and on the odd occasions they do, they centre it towards the males. As a woman, I have a double trail to blaze.

The guys aren’t really interested in taking up STEM, and I am, but I am older and a female, and so that almost makes me invisible to administration. Being knowledgeable and passionate is not always enough. They also like to build silos of responsibility and I am an outlier who cuts across supposed boundaries. However, at the same time, they are quick to criticise if you do nothing. Damned if you do and dammed if you don’t . Or just damned!

For the sake of what I believe in, and for the sake of my students I am willing to be damned, but it is all so exhausting.

A week in the life of a teacher librarian

edutech 1

The conference was great, well, elements were great, others were hoohum, as all conferences are, but on the whole I found much to ponder and reflect upon.

The first day I was like a honey pot around which a couple of colleagues form other schools swarmed around. Possessing a magnetic personality can be such a burden at times. The second day I was solo all day, as we followed different conference streams, and these days I prefer that.

My motel room with its city views was a room overlooking a building site, on a bust inner city road. The footpath to the motel was blocked and so I had to walk a block out of my way to circumvent the building site to reach the motel at the end of the day which impressed me not, but I broke the budget and ordered a glass of wine along with my room service dinner.

edutech 6

city views!

The next morning, suitcase in hand I decided not to walk back to the convention centre and so asked for a taxi. A very polite driver who almost drove us in front of a bus and then in his haste almost reversed over a woman walking across the motel drive way. The short drive was less eventful but did feel longer than it should have!

Day to was in the ballroom

Day Two started in the ballroom

My major grump was about the little things that can make a conference less of a positive experience – not enough food at some breaks,  a lack of seats to sit upon when eating, and surfaces to rest a glass or cup during a meal too. The food was all finger or fork food, but as you had to leave the food area with drink and food, if you couldn’t claim one of the few standing tables or rare seats well then you were in for a juggling act. I twittered my annoyance at having to sit on the floor, more than once.

might be a floor seat, but damn my shoes look great

might be a floor seat, but damn my shoes look great

I am becoming more and more angry about the lack of creativity and innovation in my school, and if I had the flexibility might consider branching into something new, but I am in my late fifties now, and the main bread winner and so I am rather constrained in my possibilities. It’s bubbling around in my consciousness now, the need to create and innovate is growing, and so I may just increase my environment scanning. I’ve never been afraid of career change, but I am realistic that being in my last fifties, well, in Australia that means possibilities are not plentiful. Ageism is alive and flourishing sadly.

Garbed in her trusty scarf and socks, Flamingo Dancer goes forth to fight ignorance and information overload everywhere!

Garbed in her trusty scarf and socks, Flamingo Dancer goes forth to fight ignorance and information overload everywhere!

On the home front, Daughter 1 celebrated a birthday and Petite Fille and I baked a chocolate cherry cake. It was delicious even if I do say so myself.


Peppercorn goes to ground!

Peppercorn, who turns six months this coming week is crawling! That baby can certainly work a rug, and loves nothing better than to roll and crawl about the floor. I think she gets very frustrated by the constraints of her baby body! She reminds me of her mother as a baby so much – very determined and already setting her own achievement goals. I miss them dreadfully since they returned to home.

Another three or four weeks until Petite Fille and her parents will return to their own home, renovations complete. I guess life will return to normal, though I am not sure I will recognise normal anymore!

psst, over here!

Claire McCardell

I can neither confirm nor deny, that I have been absent for some time. Well, I can, but I have been listening to so many politicians rabbiting on during our election campaign that I can no longer think in real speak.

One daughter and her family living with us during their house renovations, and then other daughter arrived with Peppercorn for a visit, so for the Flamingo Dancer nest has been brimming. As Son works in IT  and works from home, we have and the entire family minus one son-in-law home for a period. Happy chaos.

As most of the extended family had not met Peppercorn we had a parade of relatives marching through the door. We also took Peppercorn to visit with her Great Grandmother Flaming Dancer. Peppercorn has two great grandmothers, but the other lives in New Zealand and not is great health, so she may not get to meet her, but one great granny is a pretty good start. We posed for a four generation photo with all my girls.

Tomorrow I am attending an educational technology conference in Brisbane, and I am so excited it is ridiculous. I just love attending a good conference, where bright minds share. As well, I am overnighting in a motel in the inner city, so I shall pretend I am a high flyer for a day or two!

Wednesday it will be back to the real world and the classroom. We are into assessment period again, with just four weeks of semester left (yay for small mercies).

So despair not, I have not vanished, but family always trumps blogging. You need me, I know…

Stick lists, vitriol and maleficence, life would be complete.


The stick list has a sibling. The stick list being the list of people that I am going to go around and hit on the last day. Its sibling is my retirement speech. The speech that you ruminate over for years, composing it with vitriol and maleficence. Naturally, when the time comes, you are so relieved to be leaving that you can’t be bothered saying it.

I am sure I will deliver it, stick in one hand, list in the other and hip flask in my pocket.

Not that anything terrible, horrible has happened. I was just in the shower, where all our best thoughts come from, and the image of someone I really, really, want to whammy came into my mind’s eye and I was off. Small man in big job, who is just one of the world’s shinning examples of a bastard.

Sigh, tomorrow is another day, but sadly it is not retirement day.

End of vacation blues

There goes those two weeks! New school term tomorrow, and I honest to the Big Whatever have done no preparation beyond wadding through my email inbox. Deleting emails took an hour, and by that time I was so over school that I closed my school laptop and put it in the car, where it can languish until tomorrow!

I am covering a colleague’s ICT class for four weeks so will be refreshing my coding skills. He is not a man to introduce anything new, so I can trust that nothing has changed in the unit since I taught it last year.

Over the break, I have had swarms of ideas running through my head for the library, but I need to sift and filter (do sift and filter mean the same, or is one more intense. I hope so, since my word choice!) I have neither time, energy nor assistance to do a lot of big picture stuff, but I will just try to do what I can do, one day at a time.

The manga and anime club kicks off this term with Manga Tuesday. Initial interest was about 40 students, but I expect that to be somewhat less when the day arrives. I am allowing the students to run it, as while I stock the graphic novels, I really don’t know the genre at all, so I am praying some of the older, or more enthusiastic students take up leadership.

Missing my Perth based Peppercorn.

four months

ready for swimming lessons!

However, home was where Petite Fille was waiting, with a butterfly cake that she had decorated with flowers. It was an earl grey tea cake with chocolate lavender icing. Yes, it was yum!

cake 58


Easter, teeth, trump and the anti-christ.

tea and pearls

Breathing space, today, Good Friday and the first day of two weeks of term break. Assignments have been marked, so nothing hanging over my head; though I will do some work over the break as I am covering a colleague’s ICT class while he is on four weeks long service leave and need to refresh my knowledge of coding, and I want to prepare a few library projects for the start of term. Not a busman’s holiday; a teacher librarian’s holiday!

Major catastrophe in Petite Fille’s world last weekend when she face planted into the end of her bed and pushed a front tooth back. The screams of pain were horrendous we were told, but Mr FD and I asleep at the other end of the house slept through the whole drama.  Real wood doors! When I arose, her Mummy, Daughter 1 was trying to find a dentist open on a Sunday morning. Eventually they found one about an hour and a half drive from our Village, but it was worth it as he deemed the damage was less than feared.

My new information for the week was that if a tooth is pushed back more than 3mm or interferes with the bite, the dentist will remove it. Petite Fille’s was less than 3mm. Her gum turned black and blue, and her face was bruised around her mouth and she barely ate for a day or two, but is now declaring it “a little better”.

One issue that upset D1 was that when she rang the Children’s Health Line, that they appeared to be taking data as though she was a child beater rather than a distressed Mum. They also did nothing to assist her in finding a dentist or any medical help. We have access to the internet and strong information skills so solved our own problem, but a lot of other people would have been left feeling isolated and anxious to say the least. Sometimes, the government is such an ass.

Governments being asses just made me think of Trump and the horror of the world having to deal with such a bully. My hopes are with the democrats in that they can mobilise more people to vote in November and nip the Trump Terror in the bud. I have heard the word anti-christ used in the same sentence as the word Trump more than once lately.

Oh, that might have been me.

tip toeing through the Red Shoe Project

red shoes 2

This year, my  intention is to be more creative. As some of you may be aware, I have name 2016 The Red Shoe Project.

I have to claim that is is going really well, so far. I have been much more creative at work, if not at home, but the increased creativity is becoming matched by an increasing level of frustration. I just don’t have the time to undertake or complete all the things I have planned.

I started a newsletter for students, and I am using a software program I haven’t used before, so I had to take time to teach myself how to use it. Rewarding but laborious.

I have dozens of ideas for library displays but lack the time to source the resources and build the displays.

I am about to launch a competition for students in which they are to decorate old fashioned wooded rulers in their medium of choice, but can’r find the time to make the promotional material.

Time, Time, Time.

Oh and extra energy. I am a person who needs a good night’s sleep to get through the next day. Some school nights I am asleep by 7.30pm. There have been nights when Petite Fille and I have been in a race for who could get to bed first. She usually beats me as she has two other people helping her into bed.

So to be creative, I need time. I’ve tried being creative with time but it isn’t working so far. No being helped by the fact that Petite Fille and her parents are lodging with us during their house renovations. Not a complaint, merely an observation.

No wonder artists live alone in garrets and don’t have day jobs!

And while I am complaining, I have has a cold that has led to a continuous dry cough and I hurt my shoulder opening louvres in the Library and now can’t raise my arm above shoulder height without crushing pain. And you thought your life was tough!

Anyway, what the Red Shoe Project has taught me that one needs good health, sleep, organisational skills, and time to be creative. Maybe next week.

Maybe if I click the heels of my red shoes like Dorothy, I can go to a Creative Space, far, far away…




Frustrations abound

friday drink

Minerva has every second Friday off. That means for half the day I have a school officer fill in for her, while I teach classes. We have taught her just enough to do the job, but not enough to be dangerous to the library management system.

This year, a second school officer has been stationed at the circulation desk to assist the I.T team. She is not a part of the Minerva and FD team apart from answering the occasional phone call when Minerva goes to the bathroom. She takes up the slack for the I.T Guy who knows everything but does little.

This Friday was Minerva’s Friday off. I hesitate to call it a day off as Minerva has a intellectually handicapped adult daughter and an ageing mother, so her day off is merely a day spent taking them to appointments etc. Anyway, Minerva is not at the desk.

I am afraid this Friday, there was almost Murder in the Library, as both school officers, They of Little Knowledge, insist on butting into everything I do and also, and this is where their near death experiences   arise, insist on telling me how to do things in my own Library. Additionally, more than once I was told “Minerva does…” well, you know what, I am the boss. Minerva does what I ask her to do… as Minerva will tell you…

The following text message was exchanged between Minerva and I:

FD: I am afraid I must murder They of Little Knowledge because they are so bloody annoying. People telling  me how to do things in my own library uuugggghhhhh!

Minerva: That does not surprise me. I thought the same a couple times this week with I.T. Woman when she had no idea what she was talking about. I made a point to explain a little more about the system to her. Miss me?

FD. I have cancelled all your RDOs.

Minerva : You Love me!

Not quite sure how Minerva arrived at a declaration of love from my murderous intent, but I will allow her delusions.

She may have to answer for teaching I.T. Woman (who has no I.T. knowledge but is merely there for filing and phone answering, and this week used an iPad for the first time)  more about our systems. A little knowledge can indeed be a dangerous thing.

More people to tolerate and pretend to be nice to, in my life. No wider I am cracking from all the pressure.