it’s a gift

gift 1

A number of my student creative writers’ group are seniors and graduating this week. At our last gathering they presented me with a gift. I can only think that they must have noted every single thing I ever mentioned I loved for they filled a box with:

English Breakfast tea bags

Two small bottles of champagne

A box of chocolates

A bag of jelly baby lollies

A moleskin notebook

A pen inscribed with the word “Boss”

and a small white Teddy Bear.


I was stunned, and almost burst into tears, but big Flamingo Dancers don’t cry. I was just trying to form the words to thank them, when one of the students piped up and said,

“We’re sorry Miss, we couldn’t find the right stick to put in the box.”

Yes, they had even remembered my stick list!

They have all promised to dedicate their first novels to me, and on their author tours will return to the school and speak to the students of the time.  Good luck to each and everyone of them, bless their little writing souls.

finding the magic

teacher pupil

Twice this past week I have been gifted two wonderful moments by students.

The first was during my ICT class, which is a double period. I always pause the class half way through the double and allow students to go out for a drink or a toilet break. No one should sit for that long without a stretch, especially if they are working with their laptops for the whole period. So, out they go, and one student returned with a small gardenia flower from the garden near the library, and quietly placed it on my laptop keyboard.

The second moment was when I was walking across the school campus, and a student paused at the classroom door he was about to enter and called, “Hello, Mrs F.D., you are my favourite teacher!”

Makes a change from the students who ask how much I adore them! Those are far more in number.

I’ve got to remember those moments on the days I am so stressed I want to go and lie in the street. Speaking of which, the student who was suspended for, first swearing at Minerva, my erstwhile library aide, and then swearing at me and storming out of class, returned to class at the end of last week. He was perfectly behaved, but then nothing occurred to trigger him, I suppose. Just another three weeks of that class!


when the bloom of the jacaranda tree is here

The Jacaranda trees in the main street of our Village, are blooming in all their purple beauty.


“Too late to study when the Jacarandas are in bloom”.

The flowering season of Jacaranda has real and imaged meaning for students at the last year of high school and at university (school year ends November/December). The blooms signal the imminent exam season and some teachers warn that those who have not started studying by the time the trees start flowering cannot expect to do well in their exams. 


It also marks the end of our second year living in The Village, our secret Paradise. It really is true that life often takes you to places you never expected … and to happiness never contemplated. Counting blessings this day.


keeping my cool and expecting the imminent end

Maryna Linchuk, photo by Steven Meisel - Vogue, May 2008

This Monday’s joy was entering my office to see two athletic young men within, one atop a ladder. Be still my beating heart! They were cooling experts taking measurements to install an air conditioning system in my office over the forthcoming spring vacation.

After almost three years we have air conditioning! It is limited to my office and the general work area, where Minerva can hover for most of the time, except when handling circulation activities, but that is mainly through the two lunch breaks. They still aren’t air conditioning the library proper, but as Minerva and I are the only ones there all day, we at least have some respite from the heat and cold. Much happy dancing.

More joy in that one year level is on camp until Thursday, so that meant 200 less students on campus; and the seniors are on exam block so they only need to be at school for their individual examinations – another 200 not hovering in and around the library. It was rather quiet during both breaks and not a word of complaint was heard from either Minerva or I.

No doubt the end of the world is neigh.


Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.

window view

As so many people have over the last twenty four hours, I have felt sadness at the loss of Robin Williams. I thought, if only he had known how much the world loved him… but hopefully he did. I know that depression is not simply solved by love, that ugly black dog that nips and bites at so many people. Let’s stop and really listen to those around us… are they okay? Sometimes we have to listen very carefully to hear the things they aren’t or can’t say.

Another incident this week caused me to pause and ponder my luck in life. Sitting next to a colleague at an early morning staff meeting, I politely asked if her family were staying well; missing all the ills that are about us. I was referring to the influenza bug that has taken many of our staff and their families down in the past couple of weeks.

She replied, “Oh yes, they are well. My family is in Zimbabwe in the south and the virus is in the western countries.”

I realised that she thought I was asking about her family back in Zimbabwe and the ebola virus raging on the African continent, not her children here. I felt selfish and petty, for the all the small concerns in my life when so many other people face such momentous dangers, fears and emotions.

Grateful today not to be walking a mile in another’s shoes.


“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Some days, there are no faults in our stars.

The autumn rain is falling outside, and it is night as I write this. I have showered, and in fresh pyjamas I am in my bed, about to start an early night of slumber, but not before letting the cosmos know that The Great Whatever was kind and generous to me this day, as it was a perfect day.

Perfect in that all went to plan. Our author was professional, and generous with his time, energy and experience. The students were attentive, inquisitive and well behaved. Hallelujah! The creative writers’ group were enthralled, full of questions and so open it melted my heart.

I spent the entire day with our guest author and learnt so very much from him. I am exhausted, of course having to be nice all day is difficult at the best of times, but somehow today I felt as though I have been rewarded for curbing my evilosity.

Minerva was so kind and helpful as well, and when I thanked her for being such a trooper all day, be smiled and replied, “That’s because we are a team”. I love that damn woman.

I have adrenalin pumping but I am so tired at the same time. I wish I could write all the authorial gems of wisdom down now to share with you, but my mind is still trying to process it all.

And to top it off, our author stayed in a room next to the room that John Green stayed in at a German Writers’ Festival and they had dinner together one night! He also appears in one of Green’s vlogs – that tipped the girls in the writers group right over the groupie edge. – “You met John Green!” I told him we may have  to stroke him before he leaves…and we did, metaphorically at least. The students left with autographs and free signed books.

Some days, there are no faults in our stars.

not a difficult blessing to count at all!

Today was a family perfect day. We met Daughter1, Mr Boy and Petite Fille for lunch before returning back to our house so that Petite Fille could have an afternoon nap while we devoured birthday cake (or maybe that should be pre-birthday cake as my birthday is not until Monday).

D1 was experimenting with eggless cake recipes as Petite Fille has an egg allergy, and also used dextrose instead of sugar as they try to be sugar free (Mr Boy is more committed to this than Daughter1). I have to happily admit that her efforts were delicious.


Petite Fille put up a few protests before settling for her nap, and when she cried, Augie Dog stood at the door and whined, and once barked in agitation at her distress. Once she settled he did too. She slept for over two hours before waking for a bowl of strawberries and a walk around the garden with Grandma (me!).

My Dad would always take the babies and toddlers for walks around their suburban garden each visit, and now I get the joy of following in his footsteps. It is amazing how many times I catch myself doing something with Petite Fille that I know my parents did with my children.

Maybe in this every changing world, there really are some things that stay the same – the love of a grandparent and a grandchild. I would like to believe so anyway.

memo to the great unwashed

Ruth Neumann-Derujinsky

There are 613 people of discerning taste, and exquisite judgement, who follow my blog. May the Big Whatever bless each and every one of you. Thank you for befriending me, idolising me, giving me my goddess dues. I do appreciate your following, your comments and your friendship. Thank you.

And if you ever stop visiting I shall hunt you down and hit you with my stick.

You can go back to your dull and joyless little lives now.

city rush


a day to remember

baby 4

I am sure I had a post all worked out in my head to write tonight, but we just received the news that Mr FD’s niece has given birth to twin boys, so everything has gone from my head. The little boys are not identical, but are safe and well. Their mother is exhausted, but happy. It has been a long IVF journey for them to be a family and we celebrate their arrival with much happiness and gratitude.

Speaking of Mr FD, he has been to the sleep clinic and as soon as they read his results he was told not to drive until he gets his sleep machine – in mid December! Luckily, Son has just finished University exams and so is available to chauffeur his father for now (Son is soooo excited!), and then once the school holidays commence in 19 school days (yes, we are counting!) I will also be available.

I wonder if Mr FD will be able to sleep talk once he has all his sleep gear on? The other night he declared “I am a total idiot!” and I felt like waking him up to tell him that he had finally said something I agreed with! I wonder if I will sleep once he is hooked up? Do the sleep machines make a noise? Worse than snoring, spluttering, talking and coughing noises that is!

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.