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Monday, April 30, 2012

Morbid Fascination

I’m still harping on about the snakes here. Call it morbid fascination.
Maybe it is because a friend piqued my curiosity with the following photos. Apparently, it is very rare to get photos like these, but my friend managed to witness not one but TWO such occasions! Great that she managed to capture it on film. At a guess, these snakes would have been about 4m long.


They show two different types of snakes, on 2 different occasions, engaged in either the mating dance or fighting….I gather, both involve a lot of snakey-type swaying and wriggling around, with not a lot of helpful reptilian commentary. However, I am told, it was beautiful to watch. I dunno. It makes me squeamish just looking at these pics.
The said friend, also tells of her dismay in finding a 6m python in her home last year. She had been wondering where her cat had disappeared to, and had walked into her house to discover a large python curled up in her son’s toybox. The python must have followed the ‘possibility of a tasty morsel’ in through the cat door…. When ‘dinner’ decided not to cooperate, the python made himself comfy, and didn’t want to be moved, thank you.
The local Snake Man’s call out fee was exorbitant, and so my friend decided to take action into her own hands. Wielding a cobweb broom (the longest implement she could find!), she prodded the snake to try and encourage it into moving out of the box. Apparently, if snakes could look mildly amused, this one did.
After much fruitless prodding (and comforted by the knowledge that pythons are not venomous though they can inflict a nasty bite), my friend decided that the snake needed a bit more forceful persuasion to move out. She bravely lifted the coils out of the box (they are apparently very heavy!), at which the snake decided that it really wasn’t going to be left in peace here. It slowly made its way out the dining room, through the kitchen, and out the open door.
The cat was discovered hiding at the neighbours’ place, and needed quite some coaxing to come home…..it now has a distinct phobia of anything that looks vaguely long and dangly, like computer cables, wires, etc….

But the story doesn’t end there. Our friend (who really doesn’t live out in the boondocks!) has just discovered The Most Enormous Snake living in the rafters over her back door. She told us that she was most perturbed to come home the other day to discover a huge snake dangling its head over her doorway, curiously watching her….given that the size of the head is about the size of a small sandwich plate, she is guessing that the body will be definitely larger than the 6m version that came through her home last year! UGH‼‼
Exactly how big this snake is, nobody has been able to ascertain yet. Its body has remained curled up in the rafters and nobody has been brave enough to venture up to have a look! Interestingly enough, the visible part of the snake is so large and solid, that the cats have been fooled into thinking that it really isn’t ‘long and dangly’, and seem to be quite unafraid of its presence above them. Perhaps they will remain safe-ish whilst winter is here, and the snake is conserving its energy. However, I’m betting that the snake is watching from above with more than just a passing interest in the cats….call it morbid fascination.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Best Job

Here's a great video that celebrates motherhood and reminds us that the Olympic Games are fast approaching this summer in London! I'm thinking of your uber-talented boys, Southern Ange, and can picture them - and you - in some amazing future events!
See if this brings a tear to your eye... Here's to all the mums who stand behind the great achievers!
(Thanks to the inspiration of designmom.com, where I never fail to find something interesting!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just Another Day

By 9:20 this morning I was well into my administration day at school.
  • check on grade three classes, who start swimming lessons this morning: did everyone bring proper outerwear? It's raining hard, and they're walking to the pool, which is about 25 minutes away.
  • one class has only one parent coming to help supervise!
  • ponder a parent note, which tells me of a child who cried over some lower marks on his report card... did he really think he'd get a good mark on math when he never practiced his multiplication tables???
  • watch children race down the hall when the bell rings, and attempt to control their speed
  • answer the ringing phone in the office
  • discuss the time of an upcoming meeting
  • take delivery of a new school banner
  • wipe up vomit in the office
  • move a pile of boxes that was delivered yesterday
It feels good to get so much accomplished in such a short time!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Never lie in the path of an oncoming train…

Monitor lizard in camouflage

I love walking in the bush and being out in nature. But one of my biggest fears when hiking through the Australian bush, is treading unexpectedly on something, or walking through something, or coming across something that is likely to misinterpret my intentions and take umbrage at my bush gait.

I know the experts all say that if you come across a snake, it will be more scared of you, than you are of it. But with due respect, how did the experts ever manage to quantify that in a scientific fashion?! I’m willing to concede, that both the snake and I might be EQUALLY freaked out with each other, though if I were to be totally honest, I would have to confess that actually, I KNOW I would probably be more freaked than the snake. I use the same model of scientific reasoning as the experts.

And whilst I can sort of understand that the bush is THEIR territory, it seems to me that it’s a bit like swimmers who are supposedly trespassing in shark territory by swimming in the ocean. But if a swimmer is swimming for enjoyment close to a beach and there are vast tracts of ocean left to shark around; or if a hiker is taking a trail with miles of bush beyond, then I hold it is sheer pigheadedness for any self respecting snake to lie around looking like a bit of foliage, waiting to give some poor hiker a good scare. I acknowledge, that it isn’t pleasant to have something many kilograms heavier than you, stomping on you or unexpectedly crashing through your home. But believe me, if I KNEW that something like a snake was under those leaves, I wouldn’t be going anywhere near it! My advice is - don’t lie on the path playing chicken, if you wanna remain a snake!

The thought of 8 of the 10 most venomous snakes in the world making their home in the Queensland, is not comforting. And so it was with a certain amount of trepidation, that I sent the lads out for a 5hr hike in the bush the other day. Rather than a flippant “See you later”, I thought I should impart some realism, and wished them a cheery “Do come back!”. Along the way, they had dealings with bloodsucking leeches (unfortunately, one of the leeches tried to suck the blood out of K’s shoe…not a wise choice. I believe it may have had an ‘aha’ moment before losing its grip….); some fascinating lace monitor lizards (which look like a cross between an ant eater and a dinosaur); a peregrine falcon and other interesting birdlife; AND a Red Bellied Black snake.

A highly venomous snake, the Red Bellied Black is often mistaken for the Small Eyed snake (which is equally as nasty, so don’t stress about making an accurate, on the spot identification. The way to tell, is that the RBB has a tan snout. However, you may wish to check this out on your photos after you get home.).It is highly recommended by the aforementioned experts, that one doesn’t make these snakes feel threatened. I am presuming that this includes not standing on them. And here is a case in point. 4 of the lads walked straight over the RBB snake on the path WITHOUT EVEN SEEING it…..the 5th person spotted it before he trod on it…which was fortunate for both snake and human, I suspect.

Thankfully, I leave you with a happy ending. The humans live. And so does the snake (at least when this went to print).

Red Bellied Black snake with full tummy

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oh, the Magic!

There are just a few things about being a girl... magical things.

I first noticed the magic a couple of years ago, when I performed in a 1940s Christmas musical. Shortly before the performances began, I picked up a pair of elbow-length gloves to finish off my "look". Little did I know just how important they would be!
The gloves were indeed magical and made me feel like... a star! Although my "part" was really a non-event, I actually became a 1940s radio singer when I put on those gloves. The glamour, the attitude, the whole package became alive in me and I channeled my inner star! It became a little difficult when I had to return to earth and go to work every morning... I think my students and colleagues were wondering just why I was acting so strange and spreading my arms every time I spoke to them!

And then last week, something else happened.
I went on a girls' trip to Seattle. I'm not a big shopper. I've never actually gone on a shopping trip to the US before, although it's a typical thing for women here to do, as there are better prices and a wider selection in the land of plenty. I kind of shy away from the whole consumer thing. But anyway, there we were, and my friend Mary knew about this awesome shoe store called DSW.

The back of the store had racks and racks of marked down shoes, so we spent a long time picking through them. I rolled my eyes at all the ridiculous high heels - I mean, who in her right mind would ever wear shoes like that?? I made my friends put on a pair of the most outrageous shoes they could find, and took pictures of them. And of course, I was behind the camera and didn't need to put any on myself! Ha ha!Two days later, we were on our way back to the Great White North. Someone needed to stop at DSW and return something, so back we went. And I was idly looking through the shoes when I noticed a particularly ridiculous pair of heels. What would they feel like to put on?
They're just like elbow-length gloves - magical! Although I felt like I was climbing up on a pair of stilts and was a little worried about falling off, I felt like prancing and strutting as soon as they were on my feet (except I don't think I could have actually pranced...)! The rhinestone studded heels twinkled in the light as I moved in front of the mirror and marched back and forth. And as my friend, Erin, maintains, the platforms at the front of the shoes take away some of the heel elevation. Really!

I just had to take a photo. I'm wondering if this look would be good for my grade three classroom. What do you think? The magic shoes just might make me a better teacher - more dynamic, more dramatic, more fun, smarter...???

In case you're wondering, I didn't buy them.
My practical heart just couldn't justify adding another pair of shoes to the FIVE I was already taking home!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More Avoidance

Well, this is the big weekend when I need to finish writing my report cards. The public school teachers are probably all frolicking and having fun at this moment, as they are refusing to do administrative duties. Meanwhile, I am forced to spend the day at my computer and come up with creative ways to avoid the whole thing. Until the last moment, that is. It's hard work being an effective procrastinator, I tell you!

So, I was actually doing some work, going through Social Studies work. (That's what we teachers must do in order to come up with deep and meaningful observations.) We studied Canada this past term and I asked my students some hard questions about our country, such as "Who lived in Canada before Europeans arrived?" (One little friend in a previous year said "Adam and Eve"... oh, the cuteness! And such confusion!)

I was deeply engrossed in checking work when I came upon one little friend's paper and the question, "Why do so many people live in the south of Canada?" Well, after countless class discussions about the complete unsuitability of the north for farming and the inhospitable climes way up there, I naively thought this would be a no-brainer. However, I was sadly deceived. The sweet child wrote this response: "I'm not sure but I think there are more statues, like the statue of Liberty."

Statues... Statues! Southern Canada is obviously teeming with them! And all this time I thought that it was all about the temperatures...

I clearly need to teach a lesson about New York City and its location.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Life Right Now

Oh dear, I've been neglecting the blog again... And the fact that I'm back typing at 10:57 pm can only mean that I'm putting off writing report cards!
Here's what's happening in my world right now:

  • The public school teachers are on strike in BC; meanwhile, we keep working away. I'm very thankful for a supportive employer and school community!
  • Today marks a year of living without my dad in this world. How have we done it?? Things are definitely not as sparkly without him, but life definitely does go on... We all went to the cemetery on Sunday and Mum added a couple of flags (Canada and Bermuda). Dad loved flags!
  • The spring bulbs are starting to poke up out of the ground!
  • Days are getting longer and I'm not driving in the dark to and from school so much anymore. yay!
  • My current favourite song is 10000 Reasons by Matt Redman
  • As I mentioned, it's report card season. They're due into the office on Tuesday morning. Aaaggghhh! I feel the ADD coming on!
And to finish, I leave you with a quirky video, inspired by my darling son, Little Bear. He has been playing the old eighties song by Lionel Ritchie, "Hello". I just stumbled onto this version online. Enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Literarily dry …. and slightly dotty!

Well, here we are again! I must confess that because it has been so long since I have ‘penned’ a blogpost, I feel as ‘literarily dry’ as a month-old sponge cake…quite unlike YAYOI KUSAMA, the amazing Japanese contemporary artist whose art works positively ooze creative juiciness. We visited her exhibition yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Rather than writing screeds of clever things, I think I will let the photos speak for themselves….oh, except to say, that “The Obliteration Room” was the favourite for us all – a room that had everything painted totally white to represent an expansive blank canvas…over the space of some weeks, children were given coloured dots of varying sizes and colours, to stick all over everything, thus transforming the previously blank canvas into an explosion of vibrant colours.



The artist has a real fascination with dots and pumpkins….


…and vibrant colours!


This exhibit shows Kusama’s fascination with perspective, reflection, and patterns. Loved the giant inflatables!


Kusama’s work extends to film, sculpture, painting, sketching, fashion, installations, performance etc. Her mind must work overtime!



The Obliteration Room


So, so COOL !!!


Wonderful exhibition!! Well worth seeing for yourself if it ever comes to town….

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wet Wet Wet

Typical Vancouver winter weather. (Or fall... or spring, for that matter) Pouring rain.
This week, Big Bear decided that it was time to replace the old copper pipe supplying our house with water. So he enlisted Little Bear to dig a trench to the water main and booked a plumber friend to help him today.
The rain began on Thursday. The trench filled up. Last night, Big Bear rented a pump to keep it... well, dry. But there's no such thing as dry in this weather.
Today, the two bears went outside to start work, but to no avail. They just couldn't keep up with the pounding rain. The project was aborted for today.
Too bad...
The question is, why is Big Bear wearing his old construction hard hat?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Back to the Nest

My boy has been far from home this year, trying out his wings and going to school in the land of the cold. (Edmonton is the true Great White North!) He has delved into good cooking, lived on a tight budget, and created a niche for himself in a new city.
His brother misses him.
On Thursday, Little Joe will fly home for nine days. He has been phoning almost every day. For a boy who wants independence, he sure seems to miss us all!
I, for one, am looking forward to getting a great, big hug!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The New Year

In my classroom this past month, we worked on writing some goals and resolutions for 2012. Of course, the real purpose of the whole thing was to create a super cute bulletin board, inspired by the genius of Clutter-Free Classroom (my fave teacher blog)!

And it is an awfully cute bulletin board, indeed!

I loved reading the earnest thoughts of my friends as they carefully considered the coming year and what is truly important in life.

I think this young man has his priorities straight. He may just be my most favourite student of all.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Snow Fell All Over My Hill!

Well, here I am again, back in the blogging saddle. I'm wiggling around a bit, trying to find a comfy spot while I get settled. It's been such a long time, but I think we need to get back to it!
While it continues to be summer Down Under, here in the Great White North, things have actually been white, in an offandon kind of way. A couple of weeks ago, we were all praying and sitting on the edge of our seats as we received repeated - but poorly timed - snowfalls. But alas, no glorious snow day.
To have a valid snow day, the snow must begin in the middle of the night and continue at least until the start of morning rush hour. The roads need to be just slippery enough to make the school neighbourhood treacherous. (It actually doesn't take much to do that!)
And then, yesterday, I woke up to a vigorous snowfall. It was sticking beautifully to the street and seemed wet enough to be really slippery. The view from my kitchen window showed the neighbour's black roof covered in a pretty white blanket.
But unfortunately, it was Saturday and didn't matter. No school...
And predictably, within a short time, the wet snow changed to rain and washed away all the accumulation.
It was sweet while it lasted.
When will we have a snow day again???

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