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Friday, May 28, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

K’s handsome, brand new gown arrived by courier today. It really is an impressive piece of craftsmanship, worthy of the years of academic slog it represents.

All the lads had to try it on. Some had to stand on stools - on account of being more vertically challenged than others! But all enjoyed the feeling of pomp and academic pride it exuded.

Somehow, when wearing the cloak, it served to make the wearer lift their head high, nose pointing to the clouds, chin jutting out. Kind of like Batman with a bad case of whiplash.


I will spare you the photos of the gown in consort with Spongebob Squarepants pyjamas! Pure blooded Academics may find such a sight too sacrilegious to contend with!

However, I do wonder whether some day, this beautifully crafted academic gown might be relegated to a nothing more than a magnificent superhero dressup….

Maybe next weekend?!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Long Live the Queen!

I fully support Queen Victoria.
I love her so much that I gladly celebrate her birthday! And I'm particularly grateful that the government of Canada encourages me to celebrate by giving me a holiday Monday somewhere around May 24 each year!
Yesterday, we feted Victoria by spending the day at Whistler. It's always a fun place to be.
We shared a wonderful lunch with Barb and Larry on a patio (steamed mussels, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, sticky chili chicken, satays, and foie gras poutine) as we watched the world walk by. The boarders are always most picturesque!
The youth in Whistler are largely derived from other countries; every other restaurant and shop employee has an accent. Lots of Aussies! When they're not working, they're skiing and riding down the mountain.
Yesterday was the last day to ski and board, but it's just the beginning of the season for bikers.
Every pub had its "parking lot" outside for skis, boards, and bikes; as the afternoon turned into evening, the action revved up and snowboards were even hanging in the trees. Everyone (under 25) was networking with drinks and getting extremely loud. I don't think I'd have the energy... Good thing I'm old!
There was a bike wash station at the bottom of the chairlift, and every second chair was outfitted to carry bikes.
It was fun to have a day away - a little teaser for summer break.
Happy birthday, Vicky, and may you have many more!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An ode to weekends and breakfasts!

P1000907 Don’t you love the weekends

Don’t you love the food

Don’t you love to sit and ‘lax

Don’t it feel so good…

Love to brew my coffee

Love to steep my tea

Love to munch on muesli

Heaped with fruit for me!

I just love the let up

I just love to chat

I just love to cogitate

Time for this and that…


[Gotta share my breakfast with you – this was a GREAT concoction!!!]

Toasted muesli, rolled oats, & boysenberry cornflakes, piled high with dried blueberries, cranberries, sultanas, coconut, and FRESH fruit - honeydew melon, apples, peaches, grapes, raspberries, bananas, kiwifruit….and finally, dollops of creamy yoghurt! MMMMMmmmmmmm!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Day to Celebrate

We just celebrated a milestone birthday at school: Ellen turned 50!
The staff had a potluck lunch, and at the end of the day, the whole school turned out for a surprise assembly. (A marvelous little actress was sent to interrupt our meeting to frantically report the PE teacher unconscious in the gym. Ellen wasn't sure she was for real, but the fake tears were quite convincing! When we arrived in the gym, everyone was waiting with the surprise.)
I had put together a slideshow that we played for Ellen; I'm pretty certain that our normally stoic principal even shed some tears!
I'm so glad the day went well and that she was surprised. I've laid awake planning and plotting, wondering how it would all come together. And I uncharacteristically put a Rod Stewart song into the slideshow. I really don't like Rod Stewart (especially in leopardskin tights), but the song was just right!
You can see the slideshow here. If you feel like listening to Rod...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


How I love interesting people.
I particularly love that my boys are not ordinary.
How many mums come home to find their boy smoking a corncob pipe and reading Milton?
No sir, he's no ordinary boy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Groundhog Day

Ange of the North, it sounds like your May Ants are like that Groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil – you know, the groundhog that traditionally emerges from his hideyhole in Pennsylvania to do his annual weather forecast of Spring being on its way….maybe the Canadians could have May Ants instead….

I would be totally distracted too if I had all those crawlies zipping around my feet whilst I was a potential sitting target in class! And I would have my feet on my desk!

However, I am reassured that your ants and spiders look a lot more ‘refined’ and ‘genteel’ than the stock Down Under. Actually, the ants and spiders in NZ are similar to the ones in your photos, but it is the ones here in Australia that are sensational in size, colouring, and CHOMP. I have discovered, that everything of that ilk, BITES here. Even the wee black ants that seem so innocuous….I have learnt to keep my feet moving, especially when hanging out the washing on the line. Green ants, red ants, sugar ants, bull ants, wee innocuous black ants, fire ants etc etc etc. They all bite. I think someone should tell them to pick on things their own size!

Black headed sugar ant

This is a sugar ant I think. It was hoofing around in our garden with some bull ants and green ants. I haven’t yet been bitten by a sugar ant, but I still have the scars to show from my green ant bites!

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And this was the spider that caught my eye, not so far away from the sugar ant. I had to go inside to research this one on Google…..only to discover that I’d photographed it’s underside! It’s topside was even more spectacular but unfortunately, none of my photos were adequate. It was also the first time that I have ever been squirted at by a spider! Enough of a warning shot of silk to scare my camera away….This is the female of the species and it was about 10x larger than the male. She guarded the centre of the web, whilst he scurried off to the edges. We named them, “Samson & Delilah”…

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This was Samson. He was wee and nondescript compared to his flashier partner. These spiders are some sort of Ariope. And since we are showcasing our vibrant garden wildlife, here is one more of our resident Golden Orb spider who has spread her enormous intricate web out the front of our house. Like her supplies?! Last night, E came in from the dark outside, pulling silvery strands off himself and muttering something about walking into a spider’s web….then I heard him say with disgust, “UGH! It’s a pantry!!” BLERRKKKKK....


And one might well think it was Spring here too with the noticeable abundance of caterpillars we have observed in our garden. The monarch caterpillar is easily recognisable (well, I think it is a monarch, though there are so many species here I could well be barking up the wrong tree on that one!) :


This caterpillar was VERY hungry indeed and reminded us all of the children’s book – The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Can’t remember who the author was, but they must’ve had some of these in their garden! This particular caterpillar was a very chubby module, and managed to gobble up the entire plant overnight!

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And the boys weren’t keen to share their pool with this one…..it looked distinctly unfriendly! And since we’re in Australia-the-land-of-chompy-wildlife-exotica, it was probably a wise choice!

Whoops. I think you got me on a bit of a roll there with the garden wildlife! I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming post about the ‘really really bad part’ of the Education funding furore. I can’t confess to knowing much about this issue, so it’s great to have the insight of one who’s truly embroiled in it and up with the play! So enlighten us….please.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


It's really and truly spring in Vancouver! I'm not talking about shivery early spring when the blossoms come out but the temperatures say it's still winter. I mean SPRING!
I'm waking up to hear birds singing. Love it.
It's time to put out the annuals in my garden (but that never gets done until school lets up).
And the ants are here!
Every May, the ants arrive at school and come into my classroom.
How do they know it's May? Do they have little ant calendars?
I tell my students it's because they want to learn how to read.
And then this morning, they brought a spider friend with them (not quite as spectacular as the Aussie spiders, but still, a spider!).
Nobody can focus with all these insects wandering around the classroom.
So distracting!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers’ Day


It’s that day again Down Under.

I’m presuming that it is the same Up There too…? I love Mothers’ Day.

Firstly, because I feel like I can “legitimately” have a ‘day off’ and get spoilt rotten! Princess for a day…..I have some wonderful lads who DO make me feel quite special!

And secondly, because it is an opportunity to focus on some incredibly wonderful people who shape our families and our world.

I lay in bed this morning (listening to my lovely family preparing breakfast in bed for me!), thinking about my mom who is the most dedicated, loving, and sacrificial woman. She would do and give anything for her family, and continues to be an amazing and accepting mother through the thick and thin. And from what I remember of my grandma, she was the same. It’s an incredible legacy that has far reaching benefits beyond one’s immediate family!


And then I thought about the amazing mothers I have had the privilege of meeting over my life’s journey. Many of them have inspired me at some time and in some way to be a better mom. And all of them exhibit a love and a selflessness for their families that is often beyond the ken. To all you wonderful, beautiful mothers out there, I hope you have a truly special day however you choose to spend it.


Enjoy every moment of time spent with your families;

celebrate the privilege of Motherhood!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

More on Education

Well, my last post didn't seem to be very controversial; so little dialogue and discussion! You must be waiting with baited breath to see what I say next. Or maybe it's just not a big deal outside my little world.
OK. Onward.
So, I was talking about independent schools in BC and the controversy over government funding.
Every year, schools are ranked according to their scores on standardized testing (after a number of mysterious adjustments that have to do with numbers of boys and girls and other factors), and results published in the newspaper. Scores of parents look for the highest scoring schools and start plotting to send their children to those hallowed halls of learning, so that they can be smart, too. Others take a quick peek and roll their eyes violently at the predictability of it all. How could it be? The top performers are all independent schools - specifically, prep schools!
Everyone loves to hate those exclusive "private" schools. They're the first thing that comes up in the debate about government funding. Members of the BC Teachers' Federation (some of them) start to froth at the mouth when they think about all those wealthy families sending their darling cherubs to schools that can cherry pick the brainiest and send the mediocre ones packing. No special needs students. Nothing but the best.
If all that public money was put back into public education, it would solve many problems. Those wealthy families, one opinion piece opined, can afford to pay the full ride; take away their funding!
But the real thorn in their flesh, the true cause of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth isn't really the small number of prep schools that receive funding. It's the religious schools! Gasp!
Here's where it gets really ugly.
According to a vocal number of British Columbians, public money has no place in the religious arena. Therefore, yank the funding away from all those schools that teach that there is one way to God. Better still, anything connected to faith. That would include Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Christians, and even worse, those Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints who still teach that polygamy is cool.
In a tolerant, multi-cultural society like Canada, the worst sin is to say that your own God is the only one. And then get government money to help you teach kids.
What do you think now?
Next time I'll tell you about the really really bad part of it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On Education

Southern Ange, school is on my mind again; could it be because I spend all my time there?
Controversy seems to be dogging my footsteps this week. Not my personal footsteps, but it's everywhere I look. The current issue is government funding of private education. Care to dive into it with me?
Since 1977, the BC government has been partially funding independent schools. Currently, schools are eligible to received up to 50% of the per-pupil operating costs given to public schools (capital costs are not provided). Schools must go through a rigorous inspection process, employ only certified teachers, and follow the BC curriculum in order to qualify for funding. Only 35% is given to schools who exceed the operating costs per pupil; this would be university prep schools that offer many extra programs and classes.
Public schools are currently facing huge financial constraints due to declining student populations, increased demands from the ministry of education, and... I don't know what else. It sounds pretty bleak. The Vancouver school district has an $18 million shortfall, and 190 teachers are being laid off. Programs such as music are being cut.
And now, the big question: if public education is being threatened by a huge lack of money, should the government cut all funding to independent schools and redirect it to public school districts? Is it right that the province should subsidize the tuition of exclusive, often faith-based schools with public money?
What happens Down Under, SA? And visitors, how about where you live?
Opinions, please! Leave your comments; a little discussion is always welcome!
I'll follow up tomorrow.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ocean ruminations

What a great week you’ve had at school Ange of the North! I would have LOVED to have cruised your corridors – those photos made me feel rather nostalgic! Ocean Week sounded like huge fun and I’m sure the kids learnt a lot! My family enjoyed watching the cool video clip you posted. I had no idea octopi could camouflage themselves so effectively!

I know you’ve finished the week now, but due to a lack of recent photo taking and lack of headspace to ponder the deeper questions of life, I thought I’d share a few ocean-type photos with you…from our trip earlier this year to the Sunshine Coast’s Underwater World.

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 A very cool waterdragon-type seahorse! Isn’t it quaint!



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Brightly coloured coral etc. 


 Giant Ray


Baby shark growing in a simulated embryo…it was very cool!

And finally, I feel you need a photo of the ocean just to finish off!

20100110_2010 Summer hols Sunshine Coast_079

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Salty Week

Here's a non-controversial topic. A happy change from my last two posts...
Southern Ange, I miss your presence at school. We just had the big primary theme week, with an ocean focus. The hallway was all dressed up in blue paper (don't tell the fire marshall!), with ocean creatures swimming everywhere. The regular schedule was suspended and we all participated in oceanic activities, with children in multi-grade groups. Had you been here, you could have been one of the faithful mums helping out all week (except your kids are too old now). And you could have gone out for tea with Angela and her cronies!
Everything went swimmingly.
The children brought beach pails to carry all their supplies and decorated them with foam stickers. At each workshop they went to, they received a tag to hang from the handle. It was very cute. Lots of fun, too!
And what's more, they all learned a lot!
So did their teachers. We could sit you down and tell you all about the ocean zones, different kinds of sea life (love those bio-luminescent creatures!), tides, and the plastic that floats in the Pacific. It's an amazing part of creation.
Here's a cool video to watch that highlights just a few astounding creatures and the ways they adapt to their environment - the octopus at the end is the best!

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