Categories
Life Random thoughts teaching

4/52 On happiness

I’ve decided that I need to slow down; be aware of where I am and what I am doing.

You see, the other week I was told I’d be teaching a Year 7 Art class this semester. To be exact, it was to co-teach with the Art teacher… but my first reaction was to panic.

So I’ve reflected quite a bit since then, coming to grips with ‘why do I feel this way’…and I’ve realised that it’s my ‘busy-busy-busy’ mindset that I’ve developed over 49 years that’s caused it. The way. I figure: if I “cram as much as possible into life” then certain things are more valuable, time-wise, than others. In other words, I’m “too busy” to sit and draw. Or sit and paint. Or sit, even. (Even when watching TV with Hubby, I’m back to crotcheting, seeing as I now no longer have books to cover.)

I’m not sure I particularly like this about myself. If I’m rushing through life, am I even enjoying it? Hubby said once that I made roadrunner look slow. Which was funny… but in hindsight, also an indictment?

So I’ve started trying, intentionally, to be observant of my ‘moments’. Which brings me to my beetle, and my puppy.

You see, I had my beautiful bug serviced the week just gone. And it was discovered that the back pair of tyres was 7 years old. The front pair, however, was 22!

So on Tuesday just gone, I drove it back up to Cooroy to drop it off, and then collected it Thursday evening with 5 brand new tyres. And on the drive home, my 12 month old kelpie, Kiya, sat beside me.

And life was good. Driving my beautiful bug, kelpie by my side, happy and healthy and at the beginning of a long weekend (happy Australia Day, for those of you who celebrate it!) was such a pleasure! And all the more so, realising that I was ‘awake’ in that moment and knowing it for the joy that it was.

Sigh. May I be cognizant of many more… and I wish the same for you too, dear Reader!

Have a wonderful week 🙂

Categories
family anecdotes teaching Work

3/52 Final day before the chaos

Yes, that’s right. The 2024 school year starts back tomorrow. It’s been a wonderful holiday… not the least of it due to family gaming time.

Decades ago now, Hubby was an addicted gamer, to the extent that I was a ‘computer widow’. Since I couldn’t beat him, I joined him, and once multiplayer games became a thing (yes, I did mention ‘decades’, didn’t I) we had some pretty amazing sessions, some of which bordered on the truly epic.

Fast forward to sometime in 2021, I introduced our son to Caesar II and the Age of Empires franchise. Fast forward again to the 2023 / 2024 summer holidays: we had our own Mum-Dad-two-teenagers slaughterfest on AoEIV (Anniversary Edition) where it was me getting slaughtered, Hubby barely hanging on, and our daughter (who’d only just started playing two days earlier) just narrowly being beaten by our reigning champion son. Hours and hours and hours of fun was had! And humbling experiences too, I must admit, for me, as well as Hubby…

Seeing my little computer villagers building castles got me inspired to also spend some time re-reading one of my favourite trilogies: The Heaven Tree series, written by Edith Pargeter (who also wrote as Ellis Peters, of the Bather Cadfael series). The protagonist is a master mason who dedicates his life (literally… he gets killed as soon as its done) to building of a castle on the English border with Wales. It’s a magnificent story, and the writing style is sublime 🙂

And then, to bring it all ‘into the real world’ as it were, this showed up in my Facebook feed:

What a simply stunning piece of architecture! Isn’t it inspiring that someone had the courage to design such magnificence – let alone the bravery of the people who built it (and maybe even, who lived there!)

Anyway, I just wanted to share these thoughts with you, some reflection time, just prior to heading into the chaos of this school year.

Happy first week back of school, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn
Categories
Life More about me Random thoughts teaching

On ‘schooling’

So my two school-aged kids are at the same school again, for the first time since June 2021. It’s Brisbane School of Distance Education, and they’ve completed the first week of Term 4.

And so far, it seems to be going well! Miss15 started last term, so it wasn’t ‘all new’ for her, but my taller-than-me-now Master14 has been at it for a week… and he seems to be tracking okay 🙂

Such a relief. This parenting gig is harder than it first looks… and wow but that pregnancy bit does NOT look comfortable!

I’m always second-guessing myself. Should I “let” Miss18 have a gap semester or a gap year – or just figure it out for herself? Will the benefits of Distance Education outweigh the issues for the other two, or have I just made yet another foolish decision? Will they be able to support Master14 with his autism, more effectively than at a regular school? After all – that’s why I’ve moved him…?

And when on earth does it all get easier?

Still. BSDE schooling *seems* to be going okay, at this moment in time, so here’s hoping that this will continue… Wish me all the best, dear Reader!

Til we meet again 🙂

  • KRidwyn
Categories
momentous events teaching

Excuses and a photo

Yes, I know. It’s been a while. Life, you know?
On the homefront, Master12 started High School this year, meaning all three cherubs are at the one school again. What a relief! The school notes, the synchronising of term calendars, the transport issues – all cleared up! But yes, settling him into High School was more problematic than I’d expected… but that’s more my excuse for the dearth of blogposts, rather than the reason I’m putting fingers to keyboard today.
Because check this out!
Yup, that’s me! Third on the list of ‘Top Contributors’ for the conference I attended, the last two days. #NESB2021 – the National Educators Summit, Brisbane, 2021 – was absolutely brilliant, and helped me get my tweeting mojo back again, something I secretly hoped for.

Plus, oh! The learning! Getting back to a space where I can hear latest research on issues from Evidence Based Practice to ensuring diversity in the Library collection, not to mention the joy in listening to authors Aleesah Darlison and Peter Carnavas, and (of course) the networking opportunities presented – wow! So it was a stuff-as-much-information-as-possible-inside-your-brain kind of two days, and now I’m exhausted and happy and eager to start planning what ideas I’ll be implementing first. Because there were just SO many!!!

Thank you to all the presenters for giving up their time and sharing their cumulative wisdom; thank you to the organisers ensuring it all ran smoothly, and also a huge thank you to my boss for covering my classes on Friday, and agreeing to the cost from the PD budget. It was well worth the money 🙂

And now, let’s see if I can keep up this whole ‘blogging’ thing which I’ve wrestled with for over a decade now. Hopefully more regularly than has been, so far this year!

Have a wonderful week, dear Reader 😀

– KRidwyn

Categories
random scribblings Scribblings teaching Work Writing

Interested?

Just a short story I wrote for my Writing Group at school. The topic was ‘Vampires’ and the challenge was a 1000 word story. Want to read it?
***

Bloodless

The clock chimed midnight. The coffin creaked open, cobwebs straining and breaking. The man inside emerged, his pale eyes glinting through the gloomy darkness. He stood, long dark hair streaming past his shoulders and onto his cape, once rich velvet but now a little moth-eaten around the edges. His coffin obviously wasn’t as air-tight now as it had once been.

The attic was empty. His heightened senses showed him that the entire house was, likewise, abandoned. No humans, no animals, not even a rodent lurking inside a wall. He smiled wanly. His vampiric scent, undetectable by humans but not by more sentient creatures, must have become noticeable during his decade-long slumber, so anything larger than an insect had fled. Still, he preferred the solitude. Bloodlust upon waking could be unbearable if blooded creatures were nearby; it was so much easier to maintain control if brain cells activated before centuries-old instinct. Intellect before everything was his philosophy; control was paramount. Hence his decision to wake today; the day to commence his plan.

He descended to the second storey of his mansion, noting instantly that not all was as he had left it. His eyes narrowed, the only outward sign of his temper flaring. A sign to those who knew him that death – much, much death – was imminent.

He took a deep breath. Yes, since he had fallen asleep, human fools had occupied the house… but his determination to overcome baser passions was strong, and he calmed his wrath within moments. The power of rational decisions over mere instinct. He quirked an eyebrow and intentionally focussed on the changes. 

Someone, years ago, had repainted, and furniture he didn’t recognise lay scattered in random fashion. The heavy curtains he’d chosen, which blocked out all view of the mountainous terrain beyond, were the only feature left untouched. Wise. It could get cold up here – not that he’d felt it once he’d been turned. Still. Whoever the interlopers had been though, they’d long since gone. It looked as though they’d been moving in when suddenly they’d been interrupted. And for whatever reason, they’d left and not returned. Curious.

He continued down to the first storey. More unusual furniture, more evidence of sudden abandonment. Dishes laid out on the dining table, ingredients prepared in the kitchen with saucepans ready on the stove – all long since left to dry up and rot. He snorted. Humans. Limited intelligence, rarely successfully utilised!

The ground floor revealed still more questions, but some answers to others – the family was here. What remained of them, anyway. Two larger skeletons were huddled together with two smaller and one canine. Amongst the jumble of bones, now stripped bare of flesh by insects, he noted that their faces had been either turned toward the main doorway, or averted from it. His brow furrowed. What had happened here? He thrust his senses out further, searching beyond the house for the logical explanation. There may not be any creatures inside – his scent had driven them away – but he knew there’d be owls hunting rodents in the forests outside, foxes stalking their prey, eyes bright despite the lack of moon.

And yet. He canted his head to one side, forcing his senses further, then still further. There was nothing. No blooded creature nearby. No sense of anything. He stopped, noticing his powers were only rudimentary due to his long fast. He’d need blood, and soon, to regain his strength.

He stepped to the main doorway. Its thick oak had stood for centuries now; he expected it would last for many more. It had withstood wars, plagues, even a siege during medieval hostilities, however it had always prevailed. The question of safety fleeted through his mind, however he dismissed it. It was well past midnight on a new moon; it was almost pitch black outside. And although vampiric sight meant everything was visible for him, he’d be unnoticeable to others. Not that there were humans outside. He tried casting out his senses again. No. Nothing and no-one in the immediate vicinity.

The sturdy metal handle felt old, and uncared for. Like his cape, it was showing evidence of age. He sighed. The bolt grated metal on metal as he unlatched the door, swinging it wide, releasing air into the house. And that’s when he noticed it.

The air was lifeless, oxygen-depleted. The forests opposite were gone. The mountains were bare; empty of everything… as far as his eyes could see. No trees, no creatures, just bare grey earth. And the sky wasn’t black anymore, stars shining brightly with the lack of a moon. No, the sky was orange, as if it were burning. The brilliant intensity of the colour hurt his eyes. By the light of the sky he stared out at this unexpected scene. It was desolate. Completely and utterly dead.

He tasted the air again, closing his eyes this time to focus his concentration. And there it was. The radiation he’d missed the first time, when he’d been astonished by the devastation before him. The air was saturated with it – so much radiation that nothing could survive except insects. He even felt his bloodless skin recoiling from its touch.

A faint buzzing nearby made him reopen his eyes. A swarm of gnats rose from the area where the forests had been, racing toward him. They’d sensed his presence when he’d opened the door perhaps? And acting purely on instinct, they’d decided he’d be a worthwhile meal.

Fear shot like a lightning bolt down his spine, and he turned to close the door – too late. The swarm was upon him, biting and tearing, devouring his clothes in seconds, his bloodless skin yielding under their assault soon after.

What had happened to the world he’d planned to conquer? His scheme had been flawless; his intellect had foreseen it!

As millions of razor-sharp teeth ravaged his body, and his mind descended into pain and darkness, he regretted not living by his instincts after all.

Categories
momentous events teaching Work

Happy “World Teachers’ Day”

… to me!

It was last Friday, a celebration worldwide – apparently – of teachers and everything we do. Check out the colourful, covid-safe meal and card (the large poster-sized card signed by the all the students didn’t fit in the photo) and especially the PERSONALISED BISCUIT which I was given on the day! Woohoo!

Have a celebratory day yourself, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn
Categories
teaching Work Writing

I wrote this!

Check it out – about a seven-year-old student – who I teach once a week! – who was published recently 🙂

Cool, yes?

Have a great day yourself, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn
Categories
momentous events teaching Work Writing

Grammar rules :)

My childhood memories are few and far between. I’m not entirely sure why, just that they are. But a couple of things stand out from Primary Schooling: learning how to thread a sewing needle in Grade Four, and – even more significant – spending several weeks in Grade Five, copying down spelling rules from the board and listening intently to my teacher as she explained them, and gave us examples. I remember thinking, “This is it! The key to getting things correct from now on! This is what I need to know!” I was so pleased. I’d figured it all out – and I was only 10 years old.

Those lessons were so clear, so concise. “I before E except after C” and so on. Later, in University, when I realised I’d need to teach grammar to my high school English students, oh! How I wished I’d had similar instruction in grammar!

Well, wish no more. I’ve found it. Short, easy, and – most excellent of all – a detailed study of the parts of speech. And the best bit? It’s an online textbook which my students already have access to! So I’m kinda mandated to teach from it, so the parents get their money’s worth. Cool, huh?

So here I am, week by week, learning about classifying adjectives and participles, gerunds and articles, so I can teach them with some authority… and I’m loving it! Finally, something in the world makes sense again!

Now I know you’re all thinking: well, sure. “I comes before E except after C”, except…

… except when your foreign neighbour Keith leisurely receives eight counterfeit beige sleighs from feisty caffeinated atheist weightlifters. Weird.

… unless the efficient concierge of the priciest Ancient Glacier Hacienda serves a society of proficient scientists studying a species with insufficient consciences leading to racier piracies. Lunacies.

… unless you leisurely deceive eight feisty caffeinated foreign heirs to forfeit their heinous sovereign conceits, and (of course)

— unless you’re an eight-year-old planning a heist to seize a surveillance sleigh owned by a sheik at a reindeer farm. [@jjhartinger]

So yes, I agree: there are many exceptions to spelling rules. And little KRidwyn wasn’t to know that the dozen or so spelling rules I was taught in Grade Five weren’t the be-all and end-all to life. That disappointment came later.

So until this crushing disappointment arrived, I was happy in the knowledge that regarding the correct spelling of all words, there was boundary line there; that I knew where it was; and the learnings I’d been taught fit nicely and neatly inside that area. It was good, life was good, and the world made sense.

It was only afterwards I realised exceptions existed. “I comes before E except after C” often… but not always. There were limits to what I’d been taught. The learning was adequate, but it didn’t cover all possibilities, all potential situations. There was more learning there which I needed to know.

Aside: according to Kris Spisak:

At the moment, I’m sitting in a similar ‘sweet spot’ regarding the online grammar program I’m teaching my students. I don’t yet know its limitations; it seems comprehensive enough, and that’s just hunky-dory by me. If I don’t know it, I don’t miss it… until my horizons expand again, either willingly or unwillingly. But at the moment, I’m happy – and that’s enough for me!

Have a happy day yourself, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

Categories
Random thoughts teaching

Leaping

This came across my Facebook feed the other day:

And when I finished laughing (gotta love those subliminal messages!) I wondered why – from a writer’s point of view – I found it so funny.

I’ve decided it’s because of the leap needed on the part of the reader. The story is headed in one direction (they make each other laugh; they have a good time) but then leaps to a completely different one (I’m in jail) and it’s the juxtaposition of these two ideas that is startling and therefore humorous. We get a clue it may happen (one was a police officer) but the brain does’t immediately think ‘going to be arrested and therefore need bail money’ and so when it happens, it’s a surprise but not an out-of-the-blue one.

Which made me think of my story from a few weeks’ back… again, boy meets girl and mesmerises her with his eyes – but then ends up being a vampire (I tried channelling Twilight with the ‘mesmerising’ bit). And I wonder if this ‘leaping’ idea is why Janet Reid liked my ‘Stillborn story’ where the reader is led in one direction, but then reader understanding is needed to follow the story to the conclusion?

Anyway, just a few random thoughts this morning. Have a leap-full day yourself, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

Categories
Scribblings teaching Work Writing

Flash fiction – 4 prompt words

Last term, I started a “Writer’s Group” at my school. Interested students – only girls so far! – meet each morning and practise various activities to improve their writing skills.

One such activity was “write a 100-word flash fiction story which must include random prompt words”. My favourite story used the words: Fate; Find; Potential; Fiendish. Below is what I came up with:

It’s fate, I knew it! Jane thought. I knew I’d find him – the stars aligned perfectly this month!

She stared dreamily out the window, remembering last night. Their eyes had met across the crowded bar. Excusing himself from his friends, he’d moved toward her, his eyes – mesmerising! – locked with hers. Other girls, appraising his potential, tried flirting as he passed; he ignored them. He only had eyes for her! And they had a tete-a-tete tonight!

Ma cherie, he murmured into her neck later that evening. Her eyes closed, she didn’t notice his enlarged canines behind his fiendish smile.

I quite liked writing it! Never written a vampire character before. I’m thinking it’s all the manga I’ve been reading for work this year…

Anyway, here’s wishing you a story-filled day today yourself, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn