Wednesday, September 30, 2009
So my week's gone like this: Monday we went into town to pick up a birth certificate for Ditz because her old one got put away far too safely & now no~one can find it. We picked up passport forms. We then discovered my birth certificate is no longer valid so I went back in to town today & we all know how much I love Brisbane. Six hours it took me ~ only to be told because I was born in N.S.W Brisbane couldn't issue me a birth certificate! Just luverly!
Honestly, I was tearing out my hair at the stupidity of it in a computer generated age but without my cert., I can't even do Ditz's passport because I can't prove I was an Australian citizen when she was born. Red tape is crazy! I've had to post stuff down to Sydney which is insane because they are taking it on faith that I am who I say I am!
I have more forms than I know what to do with. Mug shots. Rehearsal schedules. My stress levels went through the roof trying to get everything done & despite my best efforts I just couldn't relax about any of it. I'm waking at night running through my to~do lists. My mind is churning through all the things still to be done. You have no idea how much I hate this!
I live in a place Time forgot where life is lived at a slower pace than the 21 century dictates; a time where everything was simpler. Rush, haste, noise are antipathy to me. I like pottering through my days. Rushing round Brisbane like a wasp in a beehive is not for me. So we are taking a few days out with my mother before school starts back up & things get truly insane around here. Our supervisor is coming for her term visit ~ which is sorta embarrassing just now as I haven't even begun to mark Ditz's math, let alone think about sending any of it in to be run through the governmental hoops. I have stuff ready to go but am not in the least organised.
Priorities. I have spent our holidays de~junking & doing paperwork. I need a holiday from my holiday. I need a holiday so I can have a holiday. I need my mother to organise me. She's good at that. Isn't that what mothers are for? Ooops! I am one of them. Poor Ditz!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Singapore is on ~ for both Ditz & I. There are only 8 of the junior choir going so Dearest felt Ditz really couldn't go on her own. The seniors are all lovely, lovely people but...
And menopause has not been kind to me. There are more black holes swiss cheesed through my mind than in all of creation. I don't remember everything being so stressful when I was twenty but my stress levels are seriously through the roof. The timetabling for money has moved forward. This is disastrous for us. Dearest worked everything out on the original time~line & we were smacky~do on track. That alone is enough to have me banging my head in frustration & hyperventilating.
I have so much paperwork to get through today I may just crawl under a harrow & let the world pass me by. Instead I am salvaging my stress with Singapore trivia. I just love the Internet, don't you!?
Singapore, from singapura, meaning Lion city. Now that's seriously cool. It was known as Temasek in Medieval times, renamed Syonan [Light of the South] briefly while under Japanese occupation & could just as easily have been named Tiger island because tigers could still be found there as late as the 1920s. Lions, as we all know, are only found in Africa.
The total land mass is 692.7 sq miles. That's bigger than us at any rate ~ not Australia, the island, our little little island in Quandamooka.
Singapore is now a Chinese dominated country but the original inhabitants were Malay. They are now only the second largest population.
The Brits surrendered Singapore to the Japanese [who were out of ammunition btw] because they were worried that Singapore's water supply would be cut off. Water, then, as now, is piped over from Malay. Now that's something of a worry.
Singapore has won just one Olympic medal ~ silver for, of all things, weightlifting! 1964. The first year Singapore participated in the games.
Singapore is notoriously over~regulated. There are over 40,000 offences for which you can be fined, though I believe medicated gum like nicorettes can now be bought from a Chemist if you produce id!
If you've been to Singapore what is your one *must see*. Ditz will be in rehearsal for most of our time there but has one 1/2 day free & I would love that time to be something truly memorable for her.
I always had exceptionally good English teachers. I liked English. I liked its speculative, open~ended way of looking at life. I liked the way it taught through stories. The only term I didn't like English we looked at Australian politics because there was an election on. There is nothing deadlier than Australian politics.
Eventually I landed in the elite English class. I think there was only about 5 or 6 of us in the end grappling with Romeo & Juliet, which still has me howling with laughter, To Kill a Mockingbird, How Green is my Valley & the vagaries of Arthur Miller. Miller is one very disturbed man!
Death of a Salesman was one of the earlier offerings, along with Macbeth but by grade 11 we were considered mature enough for stronger fare & copies of The Crucible got passed out for our perusal.
Now I don't particularly like Miller. His plays are just downright depressing; I was going to say they were strong but Death of a Salesman just infuriates me so we'll skip that thought.
However I was lucky enough to have a brilliant teacher for my upper class English: a large uni graduate with a penchant for the sophistries of Ancient Greece [I preferred the bloodthirsty Romans to the poncy Greeks but whatever] who unfortunately found God in the young good looking school minister & drove the entire school batty. I don't know. Maybe her conversion was genuine but her timing was unfortunate from my point of view. I was toying with Atheism half~heartedly & knew more about Paganism than was good for me [you try reading history & not learning about paganism; it can't be done; & I was doing both Ancient & Modern history] & was not on speaking terms with God at the time. Something about free will. I'm over it now having realised even the theologians don't know what they're talking about on this one.
Anyway, the set play was Miller's the Crucible & one of the more brilliant quirks of Mrs T was her preference for acting out the plays we studied rather than simply reading them.
Ditz does her music thing; mine was theatre. NOT so much because I wanted to act, though I can after a fashion, but because I wanted to write & theatre is excellent for developing dialogue. I still write good dialogue. lol. I think I landed Abigal, a nasty but juicy part & was enjoying myself extraordinarily despite Miller's angst ridden play where everyone lies! I still have issues with Miller. His is a very nasty, depressing worldview.
English One was such a small class we got tucked into the cubbyhole beside the office in the basement where Mrs T could run the school while still keeping a sharp ear out to make sure her honour students stayed on task. She got called away pretty regularly but we were a geeky, dorky lot & rarely strayed off the straight & narrow path set before us. Most of us actually liked English so when Mrs T got called away yet again we simply kept going with the play. It was steaming along at a rollicking pace & we were studiously paying attention to all the stage directions; so when the play called for Abigail to scream I screamed. Not a little mousy shriek suited to a meek & mild puritan maid but a full~bodied shriek suited to wicked Abigail that rattled the window panes, disinterred the rust from the locks & shocked my fellow actors into momentary silence. Barely losing a beat they plodded on while from near & far teachers rushed down the hallways & burst through our door to find us placidly working our way through the next scene!
I've heard it said teachers have no imagination. It's not true. I heard some pretty wild tales of what they all thought was happening in the cubbyhole. Not a one of them thought of something so mundane, so prosaic, so obvious, as a play rehearsal in progress.
I musta shrieked good. I got to shriek for the whole school for the end of year revue. Nothing like a little drama to liven up proceedings!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
We left Dearest & Ditz to their own devices. I might have felt guilty about Dearest only I know he is no fan of modern ballet & he would have hated last night's offering. My Dearest is a traditionalist & he would much prefer Giselle or Swan Lake.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Visibility went to about zero. It looked pretty ~ & that's about all that can be said for it.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I think holidays are a thing of the past. We just seem to change occupations & so far as Ditz is concerned the music doesn't stop. Holidays are when her violin teacher gets everyone together & the most horrible noises emanate from her studio. There's one little girl who is never on pitch yet saws away as if her very life depended on it. Note to self: remember to give thanks that Ditz has an ear & is mostly on pitch!
We have woosed on a performance. I need to catch up with my mother again. Just the same Ditz is locked away in her room singing the same 3 songs over & over. Her exam date is set. At least it is at Cleveland & Alison will do the accompaniment so that should make Ditz just a tad more relaxed. She needs to work though as with Singapore looming I really can't afford too many lessons. Ouch.
Plus we are cat sitting. This is Ditz's holiday job ~ so why am I running the child round? Oh, right. Cute cats! Hopefully it will give her some spending money ~ either Singapore or clothes shopping prior. She is out of everything again! I do wish she'd stop growing! Liddy got her boardies last time she went to town & Ditz had a meltdown about the size. Trouble is they actually fit. She may manage svelte but she is never going to emulate Twiggy.
The weather, which promptly became wet & windy at the merest hint of holidays, has thrown all my plans into chaos. I had planned outdoor work, which never seems to get done, & I just haven't managed to get up the wherewithal to tackle the chores that need doing inside! Nope. They are all huge & I just don't want to do them. I am going to do what I have been threatening to do for ages & box up all the boys' stuff so I can actually use their room as Ditz's music room. Yes, we do need a whole room for her music stuff! O.K I'm off to at least look at what I'm going to do. Looking's a start, right?
The island is a small community, even now when we have a supermarket, an in ground pool, a police station ~ things the rest of the world takes pretty much for granted but are new for us. You might not know all the names of the people you see but you will know the faces, especially if the face belongs to someone who is something of a public figure. When you've been part of the same community for as long as we have you know people. You know their stories & something of their past. No man lives to themselves alone ~ not in a small community.
People do not die in decent obscurity in a small community. They leave a gaping wound when they go. Death is an outrage. So it is. It was never meant to be & our whole being revolts against it.
I'm getting to that age in life where death is an inescapable part of life. I no longer have living grandparents. My father has died & one of my brothers. My favourite aunt. I've attended more funerals than I care to & delivered eulogies. I've wept with the bereaved & grieved for the grief stricken. Turn it any way you like dealing with death is never easy but there is one thing I just have never been able to come to terms with. Quite simply I can not cope with the comforting lies people tell themselves in the face of death.
Funnily enough I can cope with straightforward atheism. That actually makes sense to me. Thinking some of the funny things I've heard people say gives me the creeps. I don't want the departed *looking down* from wherever, or *watching over* me. I just don't. Dead is dead. Gone. As in not here. They aren't coming back. It is appointed unto man to die but once, & then the judgement. No reincarnation ~ thank God!
I do not like attending non~believer's funerals. I need a sign saying: Caution. Woman behaving badly. Seriously. All signs of civilised humanity tend to depart when I hear some of the nonsense people sprook at funerals. It's all I can do to hold my tongue. If there was ever a time for truth surely it is in the face of our inevitable end.
Now I am in a quandary. There has been a death. Someone the kids have known forever. The boys have worked with him, partied at his house, know his wife. He was only a bit older than Dearest & I; still relatively young. I do not want to go to this funeral. I know the kids will want to. I do not want to listen to comforting lies. Especially when I think of where he may be now. It makes me angry. It makes me grieve. I do not know how to reach these people with the truth & the light that Christ brings. I do not know what to say. I shouldn't but I think I'm going to woos out on this one. I think it is better that way. I am not enough like Christ to speak the truth with love.
See how she runs...
Monday, September 21, 2009
Mammals suckle their young ~ unless they're a platypus, or perhaps an echidna. Oh, the female platypus produces milk. Milk oozes out of her glands & her babies lick it off her fur. Messy!
It is also one of the few venomous mammals in the world. True. The male platypus has venom in the spurs of his hind feet ~ lethal enough to kill a dog or make a human rather sick.
When scientists first discovered the platypus in Australia's creeks & rivers they promptly killed & skinned one [don't go there!] & packed it off to England for further scientific study. The English, naturally, thought the Aussies were having them on & this was one large practical joke.
A healthy platypus will have a nice plump tail. It's where excess fat is stored though the tail is also used as a rudder when swimming, to shift soil when burrowing & to curl round the live young once the eggs have hatched.
The bill is made of cartilage but not only can a platypus use it for breathing, it can detect electric impulses from other creature's muscles. The fur is denser than other animal furs. It has about 800 hairs per square millimeter ~ denser than the fur of an otter or polar bear! It has more hemoglobin in its red blood cells than any other mammal, which allows it to store large amounts of oxygen & its heart rate can vary from 140 - 230 beats per minute to almost zero.
A platypus is about the size of your average house cat & I was surprised to learn it does vocalise! Something like a puppy's growl I believe & they may make other sounds as well.
However if you want to see a live one you'll have to come to Oz. There isn't a single zoo outside Australia with a live platypus & they don't breed well in captivity. They managed it in 1943/4 but not again till 1998/9. Not a high success rate! They've been doing better recently. Taronga Park even managed twins.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
It's been a year ~ a little more. We are counting down the months. If I could download one of those ticker things I would. In a little under a year they'll be back on our island shore, our mad Irish friends.
These are the friends Ditz sees once every 2 years when they come out to visit their grandpa & four of them squeeze into grandpa's tiny little house for 6 weeks. This is a friendship that has survived a language barrier; the boys had a broken mix of English & ...hm, Flemish I think it was . Sile will have to correct me. Anyway they were at school in Belgium which is tinier than Ireland & doesn't speak either English or Irish.
This is a friendship than has survived the *boys/girls have germs* stage! It has survived multiple time zones & the vagaries of 2 continents. It has survived two intelligent & well travelled young men & a Ditz who flaunts her ignorance like a war trophey & has barely been out of her own state let alone her own country.
Yet every two years when they arrive jet~lagged & frazzled you'd never think they hadn't spoken to us in over two years. The jokes are the same jokes. The kids click as if they'd never been separated at all. That Ditz is a girl has never mattered. In the years we have known them they've never had a fight; not even a disagreement.
And while the kids do kid things Sile & I put the world to rights. lol. The world should listen to us. We have it all figured out.
Ditz & Sile's older boy share a birthday month & we always celebrate their birthdays together. This year the kids traded presents across the ocean. They've done the occassional e~mail. Ditz has BIG plans afoot. I'm in trouble for letting the cat out of the bag prematurely but no~one told me it was a secret.
I have a knack for collecting friends in far~flung places! I'm looking forward to the day I can finally collect them all in one place.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
prepared to see some funny houses.” Stephen King
The image is copyrighted to Jsome but if you click on it it will take you to the news story.
The house is actually in Portugal but this one's pretty cool too.
I've been playing, if you noticed. I got me one of those widget things with the cool map & the little red dots.
Ok, it's true. When I was younger I had visions of being the next Mata Hari or The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Alternatively I would have been really happy being Peter Wimsey or Morse; Jonathon Creek was a little too much to hope for but unravelling mysteries has always appealed to me. I like puzzles & I'm a visual learner. I'm also a nong. I'm not telling how long it took me to figure out how to get me one of these cool widgets, let alone how to actually upload one!
It has been fascinating. I have watched with hypnotic mesmerization the little red dots appear on the west coast of America & gradually work their way eastward. I mean, serious wow! So I had a look on the nice big map that shows all the different states & have a much better idea now of where everyone is & how the pics up on your blogs fit into the map. lol
Now I could, of course, have gone & just looked it all up but it's not quite the same as staring at that little red dot & knowing somewhere on the end of it is Soupy or Sandra or Britwife. Not, after all, *imaginary friends* but really truely people.
Actually, even more amusing is the fact that I don't think it's all that accurate. My Mother, who definitely isn't at Morayfield, comes up as from there. The Duchess isn't even in the right state, let alone the right city.
Yeah, small things amuse small minds but it's Sunday & we're on holidays.
It's been a while but... the boys are home. My verandah looks like this.
Then this is what I found in my kitchen sink this morning. When they start getting this big I worry about what they've found to eat round my place that I don't know about!
Friday, September 18, 2009
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in itto sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. The Hobbit ~ Tolkien
Forgive me. I'm menopausal & the old mind really strays these days but look what I found! Click
Isn't that something?! Aren't some people too clever for words?
When we build our next house I'm going to this guy for lessons. That is just sooooo cool!
Days like today leave me weary to my very core; frazzled; irritable. I'm like a yo~yo that's gone round the world too many times.
I had planned math, last day of the school term & everything. Liddy had planned on sleeping in; first day of her weekend. Ditz was up, always a good sign, especially as she is cat sitting just now. I was plodding gently down my *to do* list anticipating a fairly productive day when Liddy shot out of her room bleating that she had a boat to catch in 20 minutes & was Ditz coming? She was seeing a movie Ditz has been wanting to see & which Liddy had originally planned on seeing in the afternoon but a friend needed a baby~sitter in the afternoon so a change of plans. Okaaay.
I put the girls on a boat & as it turns out Ditz would have got nothing done in any case. I spent the entire day running round like a headless chook. Garage for petrol. Chemist for medication. Library for photocopying. J.P to sign a Stat., Dec. Pick up girls. Liddy had bought meat so shop for freezer bags. Pack meat. P.O to post Stat., Dec. Home. Drop Ditz to feed her cats. Take Liddy to collect her keys. Drop Liddy to babysitter's. Put car keys on a boat for Theo. Pick up Ditz & run her to her teaching session.
We aren't done yet. I have the girls to pick up, the boys to pick up & chat with Ditz about her teaching session... for which she was late & it is my fault. I just got tired & completely misread the kitchen clock which has BIG numbers & BIG hands & which I should be able to read without a problem.
See Mr Bean has decided they're homeschooling & their Jumpin' Bean is one of the artsy~farsty brigade so Ditz has agreed to try her 'prentice hand at teaching music. This could be interesting. This is where the Ditz element comes into play. Fourteen is not a baby but in Ditz's case she has hardly reached an age of venerable wisdom!
I have had a week where I am ready to tear my hair out. Naturally Ditz's math is responsible. Ditz has whinged & whined & grizzled & grumped that she just can't do her math. So I have sat with her each & every day working her problems with her. This is absolutely exhausting. Math just wipes the floor with me & I am good for absolutely nothing else afterwards. Nor is Ditz, so it is heavy going & progress is slow. The easy problems I can manage after a fashion ~ though not because I actually understand them! I can follow instructions while the numbers remain small but as the numbers got larger my ability diminished. At this point Ditz began to simply provide the answers. No working. No nothing. When I asked her to explain how she was coming to her conclusions her explanations belonged in the nether regions. Seriously. No~one in their right mind can possibly work math like that ~ except that apparently Ditz does. Most of her answers were right. Where they were wrong they'd only be out by 1. No, I have no idea. It's just insanity making.
So this is the mindset that set out to teach some basic singing, wherein, I believe, Ditz taught warm~up exercises that involved relating said noise to an animal; drawing said animal; making animal noise with actions. OKaaaaay. I guess Ditz has learnt something from Alison. Not sure if it was a productive session or not. Will have to chat with Jumpin'Bean's mummy but Ditz was a scream. Poor girl. Finally she was on the other end of all her ADD antics & my, oh my, what an eye~opener that was! How I wish I'd been a fly on the wall!
I am eyeing my bed with anticipation. I can't wait to lay me down to sleep tonight.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I have a very dear, sweet friend whom I treasure above all others. She is getting on in earthly years now & anticipates her departure to be with our Lord coming closer every day & because she is old she sometimes feels that she is no use any more. I know the world often makes her feel that way. People are impatient of her walker & eyes that don't see too good any more & a body that is letting her down more & more but I always tell her God isn't done with her yet. Frankly I don't know what I should do without her. She is one of the most joyful & victorious Christians I have ever known & she gave me an immeasurable gift.
She is a tiny little lady & timid as a wren but before she even knew us she was praying for my Ditz. See I was what's known in the medical world as an *older primagravidia* ~ too old to still be having babies in the medical world's eyes. They had an even bigger hoo~ha about the advent of Ditz than they did about the advent of twins but my friend is a prayer warrior & intercessor of Goliathian proportions.
While I was doing what I do so well & digging my heels in about not, definitely not, having an amniocenteses done because what did they think I was going to do if something was wrong?! my friend was busily petitioning heaven on our behalf for my unborn child. We got Ditz, who has always, always been incredibly blessed.
My friend is an intercessor & prayer warrior extraordinaire. She is the first person I call if we need prayer coverage. Her age does not matter. Her infirmities do not matter. She is completely plugged into the Lord & powerful because of it.
She prays for each & every one of us every single day. I know that just as well as I know the Lord speaks to her. Well, she's got the time to listen... So when she said she had a word from the Lord for me I rather trembled in both anticipation & horror. What on Earth could the God of Heaven & Earth & all creation possibly have to say to me, least among His subjects?
My sweet friend took the time to dictate the message to me & I keep it tucked safely in the pages of my bible & sometimes, when the woes of this world threaten to overwhelm me & I want to flail on the floor like a 2 year old having a massive temper tantrum I drag it out & re~read it. It gives me such comfort; such peace.
Dear, precious child of mine,
I see your longings & yearnings. I know them & will answer them. Fear not for I am with you & will never leave you or forsake you.
Fear not...Indeed all your children shall be taught of the Lord & great will be the peace of thy children.
I have called you out of what has seemed like a waste/howling wilderness, rejected at times because of your love for me. I am well aware of your needs & desires. You are endeavouring to please me & I am pleased.
Darling child I want you to sit with me more so that I can renew your strength & invigorate you for what I have for you: spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally.
I am the Lord. I change not & will do for you what I have promised. I always return by the way of my word. You are my precious child & I love you.
Shatters my heart, every single time. What a precious gift. I am so blessed my friend had the courage to share with me what the Lord gave to her.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Yesterday evening I rounded up the girls & headed for my favourite of all cities; Brisbane. Yes, that is irony. Liddy, because she is sweet & felt sorry for me, agreed to finish work early & drive in with us. The plan was that Liddy & I would go see a movie while Ditz did her ditzy thing & sang like a canary because I really hate wandering round the city on a Monday night alone. I just don't feel all that safe.
Ditz wasn't real keen. For some reason she's not thrilled with the QPAC choir & of course the travelling threw mealtimes right out. Monday is also the day the last boat is 10pm but as the kids were to be finished by 8.15 I figured we had plenty of time.
Brisbane parking just gets worse & worse. The parking terminal we wanted is closed for repairs. The next one shut in an hour. Street parking is only for an hour. I suggested we look for the cinema parking, which we'd never managed to find. Big surprise. The entrance was pretty well hidden under a bridge & round a corner & Liddy performed something we suspect was highly illegal to reach it. *sigh*. Between the one way streets, the congestion & the poor sign posting any excursion into Brisbane becomes a tad fraught.
So we parked & I went to buy tickets while Ditz scurried into the loos because she doesn't like the QPAC loos either. And our carefully laid plans fell apart. The movie we'd planned to see, advertised in full glorious techni~colour on their website, hasn't been released yet & nothing else was remotely suitable.
We hurtled up to QPAC trying to decide how we were going to fill all those empty hours but Liddy & I can come apart in these situations because we would choose very different things left to ourselves & some negotiation is necessary. See, I'd have gone to the art gallery; Liddy would do the science fair & while she knows I would do the science & I know she would do the art we both know it is not the other's first choice. In the end, seeing the tickets were only 10 bucks, very reasonable for QPAC, we had coffee with friends & went to the concert.
While we were buying tickets, Liddy, as she does every single time she comes in to QPAC, began drooling over the ballet. In the end she asked me if I would come in to a performance with her & forked over a small fortune to give me an early birthday present to something she wants to see. lol. Never mind. I love the ballet & am sure to enjoy myself. Ditz will be left at home which will not make her a happy Ditz.
I felt for Liddy. I really did. She was exhausted & she doesn't really enjoy the sort of highbrow music that makes up a good 2/3 of these concerts. I do but this was being used as a rehearsal so rather ragged around the edges. Alison directs this choir as well but even being as biased as I am I found myself mentally ticking off all the ways the VM kids were better than the QPAC adults.
The kids were impeccably dressed in their black & whites.
The kids were heaps better disciplined. They filed onto the stage, took their default position & didn't fidget. They knew exactly what they were doing. Ditz did do a bit of a double take when she spotted us in the audience because she wasn't expecting us but we'd have been the only ones to notice because Liddy was trying very hard to get a reaction out of her.
There were only 11 of them but you could hear them anywhere in the hall. They did Esti Dal, a Hungarian folk song, in Hungarian & quite difficult. Apparently that brought the QPAC sopranos to tears. Their second piece was Water/Va Pensiero, which was one of the very first things Ditz ever performed with VM. David Kidd of Ten Tenors fame came in & sang the Water bit.
They sounded better than the QPAC choir. Did I mention I'm biased?
I had a lovely time; Liddy rather less so. She was tired enough I wanted to drive home but Liddy thought she was more awake than I was & as she actually likes driving I let her go. I shouldn't have.
Goodness only knows what she thinks when she drives around Brisbane but she seriously ignored all the signposts & the 2 people in the car screaming at her that she was headed in the wrong direction & immediately beetled across the nearest bridge into North Brisbane. As always we shut up & let her drive herself along to the next bridge to cross back over ~ only last night she came out in an unfamiliar part of Brisbane.
Ditz & I started making: Go Back; wrong way noises at her but Liddy swore she was headed in the right direction. I notoriously have no sense of direction but eventually I pointed out that all the lights she could see were in fact the city lights & she seriously needed to turn the car around & head back the other way. All this took quite a bit off time, enough time that Ditz, who was ravenous & kept bleating about how hungry she was, had no hope of getting even the fastest Maccs possible before getting on a boat.
The last boat always waits a little just because it is the last boat & if you miss it you're doomed so it was nearly 11 pm before we got home & midnight by the time I had fed & watered Ditz. Yes, she's still sleeping. No, our last week of school for the term is not looking brilliant about now. I need a holiday.
We have birds. They arrive in droves amongst the flowering gums. They bump our windows after insects. They corroboree the full moon at night & serenade the dawn. I can name over 200 different species just standing on my verandah & watching who comes & goes.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I did not like school. It was, for the most part, a place of unremitting boredom where they would not let you read books & insisted you learn things you were not only not interested in but were never required to use ever, ever again. This includes nearly all the math I failed to learn. The exception is times tables but fingers are good for that too.
I went, to begin with, to the local state schools. I had some pretty good teachers. I even had one exceptional one but she too failed to help me acquire any math. I was neither popular nor pretty & my interests were so arcane I struggled to make friends. To boredom add loneliness. Intellectual loneliness & social loneliness.
In N.S.W. you change schools for grade 7 when you move up into a high school. That is plain terrifying when you are 12 & all your friends are graduating to the local high school while you get to go to some snobby private school that requires a longish train journey every day, a silly little hat perched unbecomingly on your ungainly teenage head & silly gloves in a climate where gloves should definitely be banned in summer. Bitter in winter & the year I had my honours English & history classes starting at 7.30am or 8am was horrendous. My mother would not let us leave the house without breakfast but who can eat when even the birds are still sensibly in bed?
I was a reasonable student. I got lots of As in things ~ English & History mostly but science as well when it didn't require any mathematical knowledge on my part. I was o.k at sport & played on teams. I learnt to blend but I was never who I was & frankly school was exhausting. Bored. Lonely. Exhausted. I was all those things. What I don't ever remember being is terrified. Horrified. The cane was still in use & I saw it used on the renegade boys who thought they could challenge the powers that be & win; they couldn't. But not terrified.
As Ethel Turner says in her opening chapter of Seven Little Australians, there's no such thing as a really good Australian child. This is true but up until now I would not have said Australian children were particularly violent yet look at the stats the Sunday Mail quoted: 131 assaults in Qld primary schools last year; 383 in Qld high schools, of which 111 were by girls, an increase amongst the girls of 158%. 158%!!! 195 high school boys were arrested. Arrested! That makes them criminals.
Our teachers, & believe me these poor sods get all my sympathy out here, have been turned into paper tigers. No~one is afraid of a paper tiger. The problem is that without that fear that the tiger has claws & teeth & can inflict some serious pain if you tug his tail our schools have become jungles. What's more they are so busy trying to control the mayhem they are incapable of doing the job they are employed to do: teaching our kids to read & write & do enough math to get by with. I may have hated school, been bored by school, & been lonely but I did learn to read & write enough that I could sensibly educate myself for the rest.
The thing is though, & it took me a long, long time to get my head round this, schools are not like they were back in the day. Something has changed. I was employed, for 10 years mind you, to basically babysit the problem children in primary classrooms. No~one called it that of course. It had some fancy names & was hidden as *remedial teaching* but babysitting is what it was so that the teachers had some chance with the rest of the class. I got the older kids; the really tough hardened boys. Liked them no end. They were heaps of fun but the kids couldn't read a full length picture book let alone at grade level. They had no tools to help them learn. They were mightily bored.
I can remember my favourite lad, the one who occasionally wrecked such havoc I was requested not to come in because my safety couldn't be guaranteed. Yeah. Pause for thought, hey? There were still 24 other kids in that room with him. I can remember him relieving the unremitting boredom of his work by writing his answers so that there was one big letter then one tiny letter; one big letter, one tiny one. I was amused & simply requested his tiny one be large enough that I could read it. His teacher hit the roof. End of the day's amusement & the child became more difficult to work with. *sigh* Years it took them to get him expelled & believe me they worked on it!
Ten years & I got to the point where, *expletive, expletive* this! I can do better than that & we began the long slow process of pulling our kids out of the system. I looked at my beautiful Ditz & what had been done to my beautiful Liddy & just refused to put her in. Still schools offer things to their wider community. They make the right political noises about wanting parental involvement so Ditz got choir & band & sport through the school & I'm very grateful they accommodated us but I am not so grateful for some of the other lessons she learnt. I am not grateful for the child who slugged her just for being a homeschooler. I am not grateful that she witnessed an 11 year old issue death threats on his teacher. I was completely horrified when we witnessed 2 children attack a teacher to the point they drew blood, only to have the parent verbally abuse the teachers & the teachers tell me it was not worth the paperwork to file a police report.
I remember when school was safe & boring, when teachers taught & kids didn't need after school tutoring to learn what they should have learnt in their 8 hour school day. I remember when kids didn't bring knives to school in order to feel safe & kindergarteners didn't think stabbing that day's enemy was good conflict resolution. The school world has changed beyond recognition. This is the new face of terrorism & it is perpetuated by our own.
And Ditz wonders why I won't put her in our local high?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Last term we did pirates ~ not like the gypsies we did this term. I thought the Dawn Treader looked more like a pirate ship than anything else. It must be the bandanas the sailors are wearing. I can't see Ditz up that rigging & that's a fact. We have issues with this term's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as it is. The caste is light on males. Ditz got caste as Demetrius. I know!!! Poor kid. Between that chest & the voice she is less than convincing as a male.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Liddy has been having a rough time at work lately. Political games. I know it's part of all work places but honestly, I think people aren't working hard enough if they've got time for this stuff. Plus she's been sharing germs with me so not a happy bunny. This being the case we decided she really needed to get off the rock for a bit.
What she wanted to do was have a long weekend at my mum's. Sorry mum. Couldn't remember when you got back from your Murray River trip & you really don't want to share germs with us. Consequentially Liddy booked herself a driving lesson so we couldn't have got away any way. Instead we did a day trip.Down the coast........And up into the mountain ranges where the roads are steep & narrow & wind through the hills like a switchback.Unlike Ditz & I Liddy hadn't done Natural Bridge so that's where we headed. It is a lovely & very easy walk but I don't like it because it is very touristy & there always seems to be swarms of tourists round. Yes, even on a Thursday.
One professional photo shoot & we can pose Ditz anywhere! It is degrees & degrees cooler in the rainforest than anywhere else. The creek is all big boulders but not as much water as when we visited last time & the girls couldn't swim. Everything is cordoned off, to Liddy's disgust. Tourists hanging over on of the bridges were gibbering about seeing a platypus but they can't possibly have. For starters it was quite the wrong time of day. They are morning & dusk feeders & not active at other times. For seconds they prefer creeks with mud banks to burrow in, not the rocky sort of culvert at Natural Bridge. Thirdly, they are very shy & with the amount of racket going on would never have shown. What there were were really big eels. Ew!
Bunches of vines hanging down in swags over the road. Quite lovely.
We were going to go on to Heinze Dam so the girls could swim but it was closed so Liddy headed back down the mountain to the Gold Coast for a beach walk, something we don't get on the island & love about going up to mum's. We ended up at Burleigh Heads & as we walked along the boardwalk we spotted dozens of bright blue wrens. These tiniest of birds are a stunning, vibrant blue in the males but it is mating season & I spotted plenty of little brown females as well, zipping in & out of the lantana. I'm hoping the picture will enlarge so you can see the one perched in amongst all that green stuff. Anyway, they look like these ones: beautiful, delicate, fragile; so very pretty.
The water was absolutely freezing. Any ideas the girls had about swimming were quickly shelved. The water was far too cold!
We pretty much walked from headland to headland. Lovely empty beach as school holidays is still a week away & it is still too cold for most people to contemplate swimming. The boarders were out but the flagged areas were small so lots of rips still & DANGER: No Swimming signs everywhere. Still, people were getting in the water outside the flagged areas. You have to wonder about people. Our beaches are lovely but among some of the most dangerous in the world ~ even the famous touristy ones!Liddy didn't want to be driving on the highway during peak hour so we left before 3 pm & headed back into Cleveland where the Voyage of the Dawn Treader has begun shooting. Last time we looked the prow & poop deck were still in pieces all over the grass but my suspension of reality is incapable of dealing with a boat suspended 20' above the ground & devoid of any actual water!
When they began rocking the thing I dissolved into giggles, to Ditz's disgust. She's still mighty peeved to have not been able to find the casting for extras for this thing, it being local & all. Trust me, a movie diva I do not need ~ nor any more running around~ so I'm not weeping over this one. Everything always takes ages & is behind wire fencing so you just aren't close enough for the action to be interesting. I'll just wait for the movie to come out & enjoy it then ~ if I can get over the sight of that ship dangling mid~air!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I know it is spring. The weather can't make up its mind at all. Issi has moved onto the verandah where he surveys a world gone mad with enduring interest. Yes, he likes the glass topped tables, which soak up the heat, & when I go to pick him up his fur is so hot I nearly burn myself. The honeyeaters sit on the the sapling growing through the verandah & serenade the birdbath before plunging in & out, shake all over, in & out. Putting a birdbath on the deck was one of my better ideas. It gives us endless delight as our small visitors come & go during the day.
Monday, September 7, 2009
We interrupt the usual Tuesday Trivia for something a little different because last night was as exciting as it gets round here.
Ditz is the only one who actually likes evening t.v though between reading her book & strumming her guitar she doesn't actually watch too much of it. She was curled up in her red chair as per usual when I started getting hissed instructions to very quietly get my butt down there. One never knows with Ditz but she was so insistent I dutifully hoyed my butt.
There banging insistently against the window while the wind & rain skirled about it was the tiniest visitor. I was plain shocked. By the time it's dark all good little birdies are roosting unless they are nocturnal, like owls. This little birdie had absolutely no business being out in the wild & windy dark, bright eyed & bushy~tailed.
We watched for a while but when he showed no signs of flying away I paddled outside & scooped him up. He was more than happy to be scooped & showed no fear at all.
The thing is, I have absolutely no idea what he is. I have scoured my bird books & am no wiser at all. He was so tiny, barely 2", with a bright russet patch under his chin & gold markings around the beak & at the corner of the eyes, but buff underneath & quite dark on top. The beak was more a honeyeater's than anything but the flight & wing movement like a fantail, or wrenish. However I'm pretty certain he wasn't a wren because his tail was too short & stubby though the size is right. And the beak excludes most of the other small birds, like finches & shrikes & warblers.