Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Friday, February 29, 2008


Before lunch, I only had 4 kids in my classroom as the other 8 were off doing an extension programme. The kids were working quietly when a shriek from outside broke the stillness, and seconds later a smallish snake slithered through the gap under our door and hid itself behind the bookshelf.

I stayed calm and so did two of my students, as I told them to get up on the desks and relax. One of my girls went into "what-if" mode, and the other started to panic and hyperventilate. *sigh*

The snake stayed there for about 20 minutes, peeking out from the bookshelf occasionally, while I tried to keep the kids from freaking out. Eventually it slithered back out again and went into an exterior wall vent, so as far as we know it's in our classroom's wall cavity right now. It can't get back into the classroom from there, so we're hoping it stays there until everyone has gone home for the day!

It was actually a rather cute snake in my opinion, but it was probably also reasonably deadly, so I wasn't going to try getting close to it! I took some pictures on my phone but my phone's camera has no zoom, so I don't think I captured it, and I can't get the photos off my phone at this point anyway. If only I'd had my real camera!

It was almost certainly a brown snake of some sort - I'm guessing Dugite or Gwardar - which means potentially (but rarely) fatal venom if bitten. It was a light olive colour on its back and pale and creamy on its belly, and its head was closer to oval than diamond and contiguous with its body lines. It was about 50cm long, so fairly small, probably a youngish snake.

I guess that the odd bit of wildlife in the classroom is Just One Of Those Things about teaching in the bush. And my own primary school wasn't exactly in suburbia, so I've seen the odd bit of intrusive animalia in the classroom before. But dealing with a venomous snake actually in the room with us is a new one on me!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Step 3: Take Over the World

Or, A Story About Keeping Your Eyes on the Main Objective.

When I was chatting to Mum this afternoon she told me about this rather delightful chain of events and I thought I’d share it – it lifted my mood considerably!

10yo brother’s bedroom is at the back of the house and has a big north-facing window which catches a lot of sun and makes his room very hot. This means that he overuses his airconditioner trying to keep the room cool, and it’s upping my parents’ power bill. So, this weekend past, they finally decided to bite the bullet and build a pergola outside his room to shade the window and the wall.

Perth’s major hardware chain has apparently stopped supplying the right kind of wood to build pergolas, so Stepdad had to go all the way across town to a salvage yard to get some. But they didn’t have any really long beams, which meant that he had to put a support halfway across – right into the spot where they currently have a fish pond.

So, they decided to bite another bullet and finally build a huge fish pond they’d been planning on the other side of the house, and move the fish into that, so that they could build the pergola.

But the trouble is that there’s a drop of about half a metre from the path by the side of the house to the old garden bed where they want to put the new fish pond, and since we have lots of kiddies in our family and hopefully more to come, there was a risk of them falling in. So Stepdad decided to build a fence. The hardware didn’t have anything for fencing except for treated pine, and if you use that near fishponds the chemicals kill the fish (and are just generally nasty anyway). So he cut down a dead eucalypt in the yard and sawed up that for fencing, needing to buy a new saw in the process.

So he started installing this fence, and apparently forgot that the fact that the new pond is next to the bore tank meant that there are reticulation pipes under the ground. Shortly, there was a punctured reticulation pipe and it took quite a bit of effort, pipe and glue to fix it.

After this long and torrid day, in which they got to the point of a fixed pipe, a partly built fence, a partly dug pond, and no pergola, they (Mum, Stepdad, 12yo Sis and 10yo Brother) were mooching around the garden in the evening, just generally enjoying it, when Mum decided to feed the goldfish in the pond. She usually counts the fish as they come to the surface and feed, to make sure all seven are still there (we occasionally lose one to birds).

There were fifteen.

Our goldfish bred. I have never known this to happen before!

Once they got over the shock of finding eight baby fish in the pond, they were talking about moving the fish to the new pond once it was built, and about how they now wouldn’t need to buy more fish for the bigger pond. Then Mum suggested that after the new pond was built they should leave the old pond for a while to check that there weren’t any more goldfish eggs waiting to hatch.

Stepdad apparently gave her a look and patiently reminded her that they were trying to remove that pond so that they could build the pergola that had been the driving motivation for all of their efforts that day!


Moody :-(

Blech, I'm having such a moody evening. It's REALLY hot here (38C / 100.5F INSIDE the house in the rooms away from my little struggling airconditioner, never mind outside) and I'm tired and headachey and bored but it's too hot to do anything worthwhile, like housework or exercise. I feel like bursting in to tears, mostly because I'm so exhausted after so many nights' poor sleep. Because I'm so tired and moody I want to whinge about all the usual suspects like cluckiness and impatience but it's really just not any of them. It's just feeling totally rotten and worn out and sticky and horrible.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fish and kittens

Today, Carlene and I took our combined classes (30 kids aged 6-11) to AQWA on our very firstest excursion. It went off splendidly and I wish I could post some of the cute photos of my kids. Most of them had never been to AQWA so it was a fantastic learning experience and they got to see and do some really different stuff, like touching sting rays and Port Jackson sharks and starfish. The day went incredibly smoothly – no lost children, no serious misbehaviour, and no injuries, hurrah! We left at 8:30, got there at 11am, left again at 2pm and were home at 4:30, all as planned, but I’m sooo tired. Much more tired than if I’d been teaching all day. Carlene and I sat with the registrar and chatted afterwards, and I noticed that I was shaking like a leaf. I’m not sure why – the heat, the tiredness, low sugar – but it was not nice!

So, a success, but a bloody exhausting one.


For the last four nights, I’ve dreamed about kittens. I don’t remember the first and fourth nights’ dreams, I just woke up with kittens on my mind. The second night I dreamed that I was at the shopping centre and every single shop was selling kittens – the hairdresser, the florist, jewellery shops, clothing shops, they all had cages of kittens out the front. And the third night I dreamed that as well as Jemima I had a grey tabby kitten named Amelia (which is a name I love for a child, not a cat!).

Now, the reason for this dream sequence could be simple – my subconscious wanting to get another itty-bitty-kitten now that Jem is nearly a fully-grown cat (an adorable one, mind; even if she did just attack my feet). I’m very happy just with Jem and have no idea how she’d react to an adopted baby brother or sister, so I’m not planning on getting one.

But given how many dreams I’ve had about this, I think it must be something a little more intense than vaguely wanting a kitten around. Anyone care to analyse my excess of dream kitties? 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The wonderful Registrar at school persuaded the local doctor to squeeze me in during lunchtime today. The doc says that what I've got is a combination of asthma and the bronchitis which hasn't gone away. She's taken a sample of the stuff I'm coughing up (ick) to try to work out why the first antibiotics didn't work. She's prescribed more antibiotics but doesn't want me to take them until that test comes back, and she's also prescribed a cortisone-based preventative inhaler to help with the asthma.


At least I don’t really have to teach tomorrow. Carlene and I are taking everyone from years 2 to 7 to an ocean-themed educational tourist attraction down in Perth, which will take all day (8:30-4:30). Apart from guiding the kids around the various exhibits I won’t really have much to do. Yay!

Today was a long and difficult day because our new class desks finally arrived so my class got commandeered to assist in the assembly and moving of the desks. Then we rehearsed with the principal for Thursday’s assembly until my kids were practically dropping out of their seats. I barely got anything done in the way of teaching at all, and I was just wilting by the end of it.

After school, Carlene and I were figuring out all of the excursion stuff when we spotted a whole stack of stationery supplies in the office. In particular we noticed some big scissors which we’ve both been hanging out for as cutting cardboard with kiddy scissors is no fun at all. We were discussing this and both said “yeah, the little scissors just don’t cut it”. Then we realised the pun and started to giggle. It’d been a long day, that’s our only excuse!

But yay for having a like-minded teacher I can giggle with. As work friends go, Carlene is serious keeper material :-)

Monday, February 25, 2008

My first day off

I've just had my first ever sick day from school :-(

I was at S's in Perth yesterday, just getting ready to head home at about 2pm, when in the middle of laughing I suddenly couldn't breathe. Yay, asthma attack. I had to take ventolin several times before I was past the danger point, but by that time it had sent my heart rate up and started my muscles twitching and shaking, and that plus all the coughing left me as weak as a newborn kitten. It went on for hours and hours - me sitting quietly then getting up to see if I was well yet and finding out that I wasn't - and finally at about 8pm it became clear that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to make the 2 hour drive home that night, and unlikely that I'd make the drive in time to teach today. So I phoned the principal and explained the situation. She was very sympathetic, and was grateful that I could email stuff to her (I had my USB drive with me so I just zapped through all of my plans for the day).

It took until 5pm this afternoon for me to feel capable of driving home, and even then I had to stop for ventolin halfway here. UGH! My lungs are weak and burny and breathing feels horrible, but at least I'm home and I should be able to teach tomorrow with any luck.

I'd better make a doctor's appointment, though - my lungs have been seriously dodgy for the last three weeks and I don't like it at all.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Since I moved in to the house in Little Country Town, I haven't been able to get my TV to work. I have this ENORMOUS aerial on my roof but the cable attached to it did absolutely nothing when plugged into my TV.

So there I was sitting in the staff room at lunch time today when the conversation turned to the footy game that's on TV tonight. I lamented that I still didn't have reception and would have to get someone to come in to look at my aerial to work out why it wasn't talking to my TV.

Then Lyn, one of the aides, said: "Don't you have an aerial booster?"
Me: "A what?"
Lyn: "An aerial booster. It plugs in between the aerial cable and the TV and also into the power. It boosts the signal so that your TV can receive from the aerial."
Me: ".........."

So I phoned around to various electronics and TV places during my non-teaching time after lunch, and after school I drove into Big Country Town and spent $30 on an aerial booster. I brought it home, plugged it in, held my breath and . . . voila! Reception on all main channels! *weeps with relief*

I hadn’t really absorbed how much I missed being able to switch the TV on and watch the news, or chill out in front of something mindless for a few minutes, rather than having to deliberately choose a DVD and watch it if I needed time out. It was all kinds of glorious to grab a glass of chilled Tarrango and a few squares of dark chocolate and veg out in front of Better Homes and Gardens. Bliss!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Learning Cuuuuuurve

You've got to imagine the curve as you say it outloud, see . . . cuuuuuurve.

I'm taking my kids into Perth on Wednesday so that they can attend a dance workshop of a sort which isn't available in Little Country Town. We have to leave early because of the travel time, so this afternoon I've phoned all of the parents of the kids in my class to check that they can get them to school at 7:30am on Wednesday.

So I've spent the whole afternoon going "Hi, it's Christine Surname here, Xxxxx's teacher . . ."

I don't even really believe deep down that I'm a grownup. It is SO WEIRD to introduce myself to a stranger as being their son/daughter's teacher!

I'm learning so much right now - about people, about schools, about teaching, about learning, about myself. And my goodness I'm enjoying it. It's not easy - I'm tired a lot and the whole S-is-miles-away situation is wearing me down (sorry, recurring theme, I know!) - and there's so much potential for me to mess things up or offend someone or just plain get it wrong.

But . . .so far I haven't. So far I've got it right. So far it's working.

So far so good! Minor headspins complimentary.

PS: I have a protagonist. Her name is Rosalie Forrest and she's 10 years old, born sometime around 1880. Her siblings are Thomas (older), Maxwell, Jane and Susan "Sunny" (younger). I've been dying to use Susan "Sunny" for ages and I'm so glad she's found her way into this story! They live in Perth in the 1890s and are faced with a crisis when their mother falls ill while their father is overseas on business, and their overwhelmed young aunt who is looking after Mama decides to spread the children around with friends and relatives, separating them for the first time in their lives. Fun and fantasy ensues :-) Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I know, it's just me.

I love LOLcats. I'm a addict. I've even submitted the odd one myself.

I found this one on the voting page, and it seemed that it wasn't overly popular. But I fell off the chair laughing. I guess obscure linguistic jokes in LOLcats aren't that widely appreciated.

Let me know if you get it, too :-D

Friday, February 15, 2008


. . . they used to be longer. I'm sure of it.

I can't believe another whole week has gone by. That's a fifth of the term gone. YIKESIES!

I'm still coughing and spluttering with bronchitis but it's getting better slowly. Otherwise I'm going fine. Nothing new to report, except that I'm looking forward to seeing what S has got me for St Valentine's day when I see him tomorrow, and hoping that he likes what I've got him!

If only it was going to be the diamond ring he's picked out, but I know he can't afford it yet.

Ssh, you didn't hear that!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jemima is in my laundry . . .

. . . biting my geckos. Grr! Any suggestions on how to teach a cat to ignore brightly coloured live wriggling yummy things? No? Funny that . . .

I'm having SO much fun here - my kids are mostly awesome and I'm actually teaching them stuff, as in they're actually learning! The days just fly by and school is fantastic and I love going to work and I'm in exactly the right place at the right time. WOW.

But I am so. damn. tired. It's hot here at the moment (most days are over 30 C and many are over 35 C) and after restless hot nights and a long days at school it is so hard to stay awake and do all of the things I need to do in the evening. For example I just told S on MSN that I’d spent part of my evening watching two Buffy episodes while watching my dinner. That’s right, watching my dinner. Hmmph.

*yawn* I need to go back to cutting various shapes out of orange cardboard for a geometry lesson tomorrow, but rest assured I am well and happy and will even stay awake until the end of this sentenzzzzzzz

Friday, February 8, 2008

Woah . . .

I've, like, been a real teacher for a whole week. One tenth of my first term is over!


Thursday, February 7, 2008

My job satisfaction . . .

. . . let me show you it.

Honestly, this is how life should be. I drive for less than a minute to get to work at 8am, getting there plenty early enough to do all the necessary preparation (photocopying etc) for the school day. I teach 14 fantastic kids from 8:50am to 3:00pm – I’m incredibly privileged in that while three of my pupils regularly annoy me, I am able to genuinely like all 14 of them for their different reasons. I also get to teach music to about 33 kids at once on Thursdays, which is an incredible experience and one I thoroughly enjoy. I had a little percussion orchestra going today – what a thrill!

After school I stay until about 5pm, planning and programming and copying. Then I check my post office box (no postal delivery here, the town is too small!), pick up any groceries I need, go home, cook dinner and check my message boards etc. Then I put on a DVD (my TV reception doesn’t work yet, need to figure that out!) and eat dinner then do any marking or pen-work that needs to be done. After the DVD I come in here, play around on the computer, do anything that needs doing before the next day, and talk to S via webcam until bedtime.

The only bad thing about any of this is that S isn’t right here with me. Otherwise . . . damn it’s good! I’m finally starting to get into a rhythm in my life and I’m getting things done that I could never get done before. Now to tackle exercise and daily housework, as soon as the bronchitis stops constricting my chest . . .!

On a more sour note, arrangements have fallen through due to a pregnancy (NOT MINE!) so that S won’t be able to do his prac with a teacher at my school. However we’re hoping that his prac co-ordinator will be able to arrange for him to do his prac at one of the ten neighbouring schools. But we can’t do anything towards organising it – we’ll just have to cross our fingers.

And on another note again, it was cool and humid today (the first day under 30 C since I moved here!) and it’s rained on and off all evening. We had some very heavy rain for a while, and I discovered – the hard way – that hard rain and a driving wind result in a small drippy leak around the flue of my pot-belly stove, and a great pouring leak under the eaves of my kitchen, right above the sink, which unfortunately has a slightly raised lip where it meets the bench, which means that the water cascaded off the bench onto the floor instead of draining into the sink. Grr. So I found my kitchen partially awash and have had to listen to my flue dripping all evening. But it seems to be drying up a bit now thankfully!

Some pictures of the puddles and rivulets at the height of the rainstorm . . .

My car got its very own lake! I hope it's not still marooned in the middle of it tomorrow morning.

It's funny, because ever since I got here, Little Country Town's weather has been hot and very dry, except for during the thunderstorms, when it was hot and humid, and the rain that fell evaporated as it fell. Yet Little Country Town's roads have these really deep stormwater drains alongside them. Now I know why! When it rains, it seriously rains lol.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Room to breathe

I was so exhausted and sick yesterday that I didn't even manage a first-day-of-school post. So you're getting two days at once.

Day one went as smoothly and pleasantly as a day one could be expected to go. I was prepared, there were no mishaps, my kids were nice and behaved very well, and although I struggled through the day with the end of tonsillitis and the beginning of bronchitis, it was an all-round good day and I felt very relieved and calm.

Today, if anything, was better. I was more organised and less nervous, and really started to get the hang of the class dynamics and the teaching style I need to use with these kids. They are fantastic kids – most are strong on the essentials and ready for extension, and all but two of them are competent and independent students. My two struggling students (one is just weak, and the other is mildly learning disabled) need support but they’re not badly behaved because of it.

I’m pretty content right now. I’ve rediscovered the reasons why I went into teaching, I’ve got my confidence back, and I’m getting on with it. I’m living in a gorgeous town full of friendly people with a can-do, will-help attitude and plenty of spirit.

The only downer is that S is so far away (nearly 2 hours’ drive). But we talk online every night and we’re seeing each other every weekend, and there’s a strong chance that he’ll be able to stay with me for 8 glorious weeks while doing one of his teaching pracs with one of the other teachers here. I hope that comes through, because I miss him constantly.

I’m very tired and still coughing a lot (the doc gave me antibiotics, yay) but life is definitely looking more promising by the day.

PS: Wow, that was post number #200! Yay for bloggy goodness!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's the calm before the storm . . .

. . . which is ironic, since Little Country Town just got hit by one of the strongest thunderstorms I’ve ever seen.

Tomorrow morning at 8:50am, about 11 hours and 10 minutes from now, three year sevens, seven year sixes and six year fives will walk into my classroom, ready for another year of education.

And I’m going to have to teach them something :-/

I’m actually feeling fairly confident in everything except Science – I’ve largely worked out what I’m going to do with them and I certainly know what I’m doing all day tomorrow, which is a start! I just need a good resource for the science of the oceans, but I’ll get that before too long.

Wish me luck!

And before I go, some images from the weekend . . .

Various shots of the complicated clouds on the leading edge of Friday's storm:

I just loved the intensity of colours here . . . the camera has almost captured the real colour of the clouds which is tricky with anything other than the eye!

Pretty flowers at a lookout north of Little Country Town, where S and I went on Saturday:

A screen-shot of lightning from a video I took this evening. The videos weren't too good but I managed to take this screenshot from one of them and thought it was rather impressive :-) I had the camera propped up on my bedroom windowsill filming while I watched from the bed. It's looking south-ish.

Close-up of the lightning: