Friday, December 24, 2010

Drabble Dare #11. Image #1: "Pole Star".

Here's my contribution in response to Drabble Dare #11: "December" Theme hosted by Burrowers Books & Bladerdash.  Photo #1: "Pole Star".  I'm honoured that it was considered good enough to be included in their Advent Calendar for Dec 24th. The competition results are available here.

The complete 2010 Advent Calendar is at The Burrow.

(If you're after some Christmas cheer, put off reading this 'till another time.)


The world is dying, slowly, painfully,

Greed, corruption, power, but they won't take action - desperately needed.

I rage against our passing.

It is so final, irreversible.

We go, taking others with us.

They say cockroaches will remain, and ants,
but not much more.

The depth of our stupidity is numbing.

Step by step,
individual insignificant decisions,
seemed minor in the scheme of things; but not so. Each weighing more heavily on
our exquisite abused planet.

Our time is running out.

Can we take action?  Can we change?

Mostly I despair

It is.  It will be.  The stars our only witness.


A Drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more. No less.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It seemed like a good idea at the time. On over committing yourself!

I'm going to take a bloggy break (except for the 24th for a Drabble posting) until somewhere around the 10th January. I've managed to overload myself with work, and something has to give.

There was a booklet to be done, the first draft to be submitted on the 4th of Jan, and I said I'd do it ... foolishly I now think ... but it's an interesting experience and I'm learning a lot. But unfortunately along with this, my creativity seems to have disappeared. Working on the 'How To' of resumes, job hunting and interview skills seems to have clogged my brain.

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Stop stressing, you can do it, really, just slow down, and take one tiny baby step at a time, don't look at the whole thing at once, it's too daunting....aaargh. Funny business, taking my own medicine!

Working with two screens really helps, but one always needs a treat when it gets too tedious.  The Burrow Advent Calendar is good for a bit of distraction.

Below is my attempt at a Story Board. I think that's how it's done, but never mind if not, it's working for me and it's a good feeling to cross off the segments as I work through do them.

The knitting looks very out of place, but there's logic there! I'd recently decided to teach myself to knit socks 'in the round' which is not only interesting (I've never knitted socks before) but it gives my brain a break from the strain of remaining focused and staring at the screen. Knitting is tactile and soothing, especially as the yarn is a mix of alpaca, merino and silk.

The memory stick is kind of obvious, I just need to remember to back everything up. It's one of those things it's so easy to tell students, but to forget yourself. For me, it's sometimes been a case of "do as I say, don't do as I do", but this project is far too important to lose!

The voucher is a reminder that, yes, it's worth it, and I will be paid when the booklet is complete. Hooray!

This booklet for migrant students has to be finished by early January and I'll need to use all my time management skills to get it done. It's important to me to complete the job well, not only for my own feeling of pride, but to help students who are new to the country and who are bewildered by workplace expectations and the local idiom. If I can help them ease their way into the local employment scene and achieve their goals of becoming valuable and valued community members, that's rewarding!

And I can do it as long as I take one step at a time and don't panic.

See how much is crossed off?

That's not so bad is it?

I'd like to wish everyone who visits a wonderful, relaxing,  and happy 
Christmas & New Year season.
(or if it's not your tradition, take care till I see you next year)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday #1

Such an inhospitable environment for new life to survive and thrive.

This tiny seedling reminded me of many students I used to work with, their surroundings were barren and they were parched of love and nutriment. Yet despite the odds they clung on, absorbing what they could to nurture themselves.

I like the long shadow of the stem that's hidden behind the tiny leaves. This plantlet looked so fragile, yet defiant in the face of the inevitable crowds that will cut short its life once the holidays begin.

A busy beach is no place for a tiny plant to grow.


Hey Harriet hosts Shadow Shot Sunday.

A Drabble is a story in 100 words. No more, no less.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Digital lives and an unfulfillable wish.

"Come on, don't reject my pleas so cruelly. Together we can do this. It'll be interesting, you'll see and then we won't seem like such fossilized dinosaurs in this wonderful digital world."

It's like living in a foreign country where you know a few words and hesitantly use them, pronunciation incorrect as it turns out ... and mostly in the wrong context. Where everything is alien and unattainable.

"Don't be so cold and unyielding, rejecting all my entreaties.
Come on brain! Without you, I'm nothing. You're meant to be on my side. Please help.

I want to be a digital native!!"

A Drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more, no less.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reading, Learning Difficulties & the joy of Post Graduate courses

Words can't describe my feelings toward your father, a respected teacher.

Never cared enough to teach you to read, locked you away when you cried, until the authorities discovered the dreadful abuse you endured, and removed you to a safer place.

At 16, rejected by the education system as too difficult to manage, you were welcomed where I worked.

Your bewilderment at the written word spurred me to action, to learn to teach reading.

Too late for you though, you'd been moved on.

I'd have enjoyed working with you. I'm sorry it didn't happen, but thankyou for changing my life.


A drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more. No less.

This drabble is based on a true story of a teenager who'd been removed from the family home due to abuse, and describes why I undertook postgraduate units to learn to teach adults and dyslexics to learn to read. Our society treats people who struggle with reading as lazy, incompetent, dumb or half witted and as if they're less than second class citizens.  There's always a story behind the difficulties they face, and sometimes it's having an abusive parent and missing years of schooling.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On International Students - a contrast

The end of the academic year, international students are returning to their homelands, hopefully full of stories of a different country with strange foods and incomprehensible customs.

Many, however were achingly lonely in their student lodgings, not knowing how to integrate into the local networks, or if their hesitant overtures of friendship would be misunderstood or worse - rejected.

So they take the safe option, and eat alone in their rooms with computer games blaring to dull the pain of loneliness. Parents blissfully unaware of the suffering some endure.

Home, known, understood and loved has never looked so good.


Muffled chuckles escaping from the lounge-room. The occasional chirrup of an electronic message, otherwise ... silence.

A comfortable silence, companionable, relaxed.

Not wanting to intrude, (but keen to snoop) I peek.
Our guests, curled comfortably on couch and chairs, reading happily. "Footrot Flats", "Asterix and Obelix", "Calvin and Hobbes", but some more challenging - "Guns, Germs and Steel" and "Myths and Legends of Australia".

The dusty television a mute testament to the power of the written word and the joy a book can bring.

Gen Y gets negative press

But these are our children

Our future

I'm proud of them.

Thanks to Teresa for the photo above.

A Drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more, no less.


Monday, December 13, 2010


The drought has broken

Plague locusts massing

An army waiting. Biding their time

Farmers nervously watching, crops decimated if all goes as feared

Summer skies, usually blue and high, will blacken with the onslaught of flying
ravenous insects. Devouring every green thing in their path

A politician (chasing city votes) flippantly states: "They'll stop when they get to Melbourne"
as of thats ok

Glossing over the farmers' anguished loss

The scientists disagree - the suburbs will mirror the farmland, bereft of green
All will be eaten in the path of this horde

Happily the silk poinsettias in the window box survive.

More information about the Australian Plague Locust including a link to a swarm map, can be found here, and images here.

This Drabble is number 7 of 31 at the Annual Advent Calendar at The Burrow.


Friday, December 10, 2010

A Christmas treat.

I'm taking five to rest my aching feet. It's noisy with the grinding of the beans and the hiss of the coffee machines. But the aroma! Rich and heady in the thickness of the sticky humidity.

There's music in the background, I think, barely audible above the discordant clatter of cutlery and happy chatter. This is the best part of Christmas shopping, taking time out to check and update the list - twice if you must know!

I'll call it a successful three hours and retire from the frazzled hoards and tedious queues.
Two lovingly chosen gifts are ready to wrap.

A Drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more, no less.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Procrastination - a Drabble

If you'd started that course you researched four years ago, studying part time, you'd be finished by now

I know

How proud you'd feel!

Yes, I know

And what a sense of accomplishment

That's true

And right now, you'd have the framed 'Certificate of Completion' on your wall

Yes, I know
but back then, I wasn't sure,
I was scared to make a decision, any decision in case I got it wrong.

What's wrong? What's right?

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started" a wise person said.

Sometimes it's better to begin in uncertainty than not to begin at all.



A drabble is a story told in 100 words. No more. No less.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Dared to Drabble for December

Last month (November) I entered a competition.

I'm not usually big on entering competitions, after all I never win, and it mostly seems waste of time. However this was one devised by Burrowers, Books & Balderdash who've introduced me to the beguiling art of Drabbling. I was delighted by their Drabbles, but also intimidated by the well crafted beauty of the pieces.

A Drabble is a story written in 100 words, no more, no less, (they're very strict about this) and since I was introduced to them earlier this year, I've been smitten. The process appeals to me. I like tinkering with words but tend to go on a bit, and this forces me to find better, briefer combinations of words. The challenge was to explore if I could produce something reasonably interesting in this condensed form.

I was nervous entering their December 'Dare', after all I felt like I was 'playing with the big boys' and well out of my depth. I thought I'd be scoffed at, not publicly (they're not like that) but, well, these people and their contributors are GOOD, and I'm in awe of them.

But I did it, I wrote, edited, surprised myself, clicked on 'send', felt sick, wished I could unsend, waited nervously, and I WON!!!!

Really! Two of the pieces I wrote were considered good enough to be part of the Advent Calendar that you'll find over at The Burrow.

To say I'm delighted is an understatement, but mostly I'm honoured that the judges considered that my Drabbles wouldn't tarnish the quality of their December contributions.

I'm not going to include my pieces here, because that wouldn't be in the spirit of an Advent Calendar. You'll have to pop over there and open the little boxes on the correct dates (remember it'll be a bit later than here due to the time difference) and wait for mine to appear on the 7th and 24th. The contents are far better than chocolate.


You'll find my response on the December 4th picture of Ice Sculptures here.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thinking about interviews makes me feel sick

Benny from Fluent in 3 Months recently wrote an interesting post discussing confidence from the perspective of someone learning to speak a new language.  In "Fake it 'till you make it"  he gives some good tips on confidence building that are equally applicable to someone going for an interview,  making a presentation at work, returning faulty merchandise and myriad other things.

Benny discusses self produced confidence

My approach to get what I want is to presume from the START that it’s going to happen. I then just follow the path that is most likely going to lead to that result.
There is no “maybe” in my mind. When I start a language mission, I presume from day onethat I am going to be successful. This isn’t arrogance – it’s a crucial part of the strategy to make it happen. Any doubt is going to do me no good, so why should I embrace it as most people would?

and he goes on to make the observation that "Negative self-fulfilling prophecies work really well, so I'm just doing the same thing for positive ones".

Over the years, I've heard many interesting excuses from people about how they are unable to attend interviews for jobs and courses because they don't have the confidence. They expect to go to jelly - and they're missing fantastic opportunities as a result. Their negative self fulfilling prophecies are alive and well, and extremely unhelpful. Whilst Benny is pretty full on, he's got a point and it's certainly worth thinking about for your next interview.

My additional suggestion if you are particularly unsure of yourself would be to find a trusted person to work with who can give you reliable feedback.  As I said above this could be a valuable technique for interviews, presentations and other daily activities that require you to appear confident even if it's not how you feel inside.

A technique I used a couple of years ago when I was teaching business students to make workplace presentations, was to suggest they adopt as many positive mannerisms as possible from the most confident person they admired for the 5 minutes of the presentation.  Each presenter was then asked to rate their level of butterflies/nerves/sickinthestomach/fear/sweaty palms etc. The audience (the other students) were requested to give honest feedback on their apparent confidence. It was abundantly clear to every student participating that it IS possible to feel horrendously nervous, yet APPEAR to be in control.

For many of us it's a matter of learning a few techniques that work for you and applying them. We can still feel unsure and insecure, but come across confidently.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Drabble Dare #11 Photo #2 - Ice Sculptures

The Drabble theme was December, but the following words asked to be written in response to photo #2 Ice Sculptures:

Don’t lie to me about the promotion then pass me by.

Don’t lie to me and agree I’m exempt from the latest, crappy, government ‘initiative’ then instruct me to promote it at a public forum.

I’m like the ice sculpture, professionally moulded, but inside a writhing mass of red-hot anger. My raging blast furnace has the force to explode these carvings to vicious shards, the fragments piercing your twisted observance of ‘professional values’.

Where is your integrity?

What happened to ethical behaviour?

Look into your heart, then mine, and tell me you don’t lie.

Don’t lie to me…

Don’t lie

Thanks to Burrowers, Books & Balderdash for introducing me to the art of Drabbling (a story in 100 words; no more, no less).