Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Diary

Finish up school, have several lie-ins, tidy up the house, buy the duck for Christmas dinner, feel justified breaking out the alcohol even though it isn't yet the weekend.

Drive down to Newcastle (7 hours) to see number 1 brother-in-law (by age), his two daughters, his parents and - unexpectedly - his ex-wife. Spend a very pleasant afternoon, evening and morning with them, then drive home on Christmas Eve (5 hours).

Wake up fairly late on Christmas Day, eat a leisurely breakfast (ham on buttered toast for dearest carniverous husband and pancakes for darling daughter - just as carniverous really - and me), open presents, then take traditional Christmas Day walk on Korora Beach. Collect pandanus keys for planting later. Eat delicious roast duck and decide there's no room in our tummies for Christmas pudding...

Spend lots of time in the garden, working off the tension as well as the calories. Relax on the verandah with books and a gin and tonic (until the gin runs out - must go shopping tomorrow), wander into the studio and wrap up Art & Lies books for posting, help darling daughter make lovely stuffed owl toy, listen to new CDs, talk to people on the phone...

Photograph native wildlife - such as this diamond python, dug out by the silly dog near the veggie garden - and realise why the mice haven't been eating the sweetcorn. Enjoy life. Slightly dread the end of the public holidays and "real life" creeping back in...

Sunday, December 04, 2011


It's been a busy few weeks on lots of different fronts, and I am behind with my work. But never mind: there are only 8 more days of school and then we're in the long summer holidays! No more school until the beginning of February! Hooray to that. It's not that I'll have less to do over the summer, but I won't have to endure the tyranny of the early morning start. I've spent many years of my life getting up early but the truth is that I'm an owl, not a lark, and I like to have 8 1/2 hours sleep every night and not get up until I feel like it! Why else do you think I work (mainly) for myself?

Dearest husband is now home after almost a month away, and now that he's recovering from jetlag and feeling altogether more human he's taken some of the load off me. On the one hand I achieve lots of stuff while he's away because he isn't a) sitting in exactly the place where I want to put things or b) telling me to slow down! So I get cupboards cleaned out, sort out the wardrobe, make lots of things BUT it also means I have to cook and shop and stuff, and I'm not good at it. The standard of catering definitely goes down when he's away because I just can't be bothered. And besides, when he's away I don't have anyone to talk to... about things like being worried about hospital tests that show I have a large cyst in my sinus cavities but don't explain why I'm still falling over.

There have been a few other biggies while he's been away too. For starters, darling daughter has been having a miserable time at school because most of the girls in her class have - how shall I say this? - become mini-teenagers all of a sudden, with the added attitudes/hormones/social pressures that this brings. It's not pretty and it's certainly not fun, especially if you're the youngest in the class AND the only one who's started having periods AND you're not good at gymnastics or ballet or tennis or running (even if you are really good at swimming, playing the piano and shifting a shot-putt). I've bought her a couple of good books so that she has something to refer to after we've had heart-to-hearts about how awful people are and how lonely and upset she feels, and I've started reading Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, mainly because when I flicked through the book in the local shop I came across something about being a mother who suddenly finds she hates all the other girls in her daughter's class at school, and that rang a bell!

It was clear to both her dad and me that facilitating some sort of activity that she's enjoy seemed like a good idea, so I arranged a sort-of audition for her to have singing lessons at the local Conservatorium of Music, where she already has piano lessons. I say "sort-of" audition because the Conservatorium's contemporary voice tutor, Robbie, doesn't like teaching younger kids and had to be "conned" into seeing darling daughter for a one-off singing lesson! I went in with her and saw his eyes rolling when he realised how young she was (not yet 10), but his attitude changed somewhat a few minutes later when he asked her what sort of music she wanted to sing. I guess he was expecting something along the lines of "just like Britney", but what he got was "I want to sing the blues" which practically knocked him off his seat. It was very funny, and just a great boost for darling daughter. Once he'd put her through her paces and realised that yes, she does have a big voice, that she already interprets the music she hears, that she has a decent range and can hold a note and understands intuitively about key changes and different tonal qualities his attitude changed a bit and he's taken her on as a pupil because, as he said, "She's gonna be good". Hooray to that too.

Lastly - well, sort of, if you ignore school Board stuff, adults having hissy fits, new Principals, end of year madness, making 70 Christmas cards, BookArtObject and starting my Certificate IV in Training & Assessment - I've also had my one and only job interview in the five years since I arrived in Coffs Harbour. In order to continue teaching at TAFE I have to be interviewed and found to be adequately skilled for putting name on the "Teaching Suitability List", so last week I went in to present myself and my experience formally to the Head Teacher in Creative Industries A.K.A. my boss, Phil. Apparently I won't know the results until the end of January, but I think I did OK (the exam certificates looked impressive, anyway, and I did a cracker of a presentation about teaching a visual arts unit, as requested).

Phew! Now I'm going to bed. Just thinking about stuff has made me tired, and I've got three days in the classroom ahead of me...


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