Nov 26, 2013

Letting off steam

I know there's too much judgmental snark in this world, and I KNOW there are more important things... but I just have to get this out.

Why the F*** do people back into car parks?

Are you one of those people?  Is there a massive advantage to this that I am missing?  What's the point?

I honestly don't get it. You have to back your car at some point, and backing out of a carpark is twice as easy as backing into one. You spend more time backing into the carpark than you save in driving straight out of it later.  And while you do it, you hold up everyone else who has to wait while you take twice as long to get your car into the slot.

Then if your car is next to mine, when we go to leave, our driver's side doors are right next to each other so one of us has to wait until the other gets into their car, before they can walk to their door.

Or if I'm parked on the other side of you, your car is most likely right up against the edge of your car park slot, so I have to struggle to open my door and walk out.

I would never actually use one of these stickers. 

Clearly I'm missing something here.

Clue me in?

Nov 24, 2013

Sunday Selections #147

I'm back.
And.. it's time for Sunday Selections!
Sunday Selections is a weekly meme hosted by River at Drifting Through Life. It's a way to showcase some of the photos we take, but don't get shown on our blogs. 

The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River somewhere in your post
3. leave a comment on River's post and visit some of the others who have posted and commented: for example:
    Andrew at High Riser
    Gillie at Random Thoughts From Abroad

To get myself back into the groove, I'm taking things easy this week by picking a selection of photos from my library.

These pictures were taken from the rooftop carpark where I park in the city.

This is an accidental selfie, in honour of selfie being announced word of the year this week:

Here is my daughter M's first attempt at 3-D shapes: not bad, I thought:

This is my favourite cartoon on financial markets, which appeared in The Age a few months back. Nails it.

Summer fruit

Some sky shots: sun beams, and the sun making a gilded border on the edges of clouds:

What my sideboard looks like through the week, until I clear it away on weekends.
It doesn't always have a vase of flowers on it though.

Share your photos - what are your Sunday Selections this week?

Nov 17, 2013


I will be back soon. I'm just having a little rest.

#Exhausted. #OMG #Tired #Rest #Resting #timeout #cutepic #blogging #whenwillhashtagsworkonblogs

Leonard John Matthews/Flickr

Nov 11, 2013

Invisible Kids

My current favourite reading genre is young adult supernatural or suspense (no, not the kind involving romance with vampires).

I just finished a lovely book called 'How to be Invisible' by Tim Lott.  (The Guardian has a charming review written by a young reader here).

The protagonist is an intellectually gifted loner whose parents have recently uprooted him from his home and friends to a village and school he doesn't like, where he has no friends. Within the first chapter the author deftly sets the scene with the boy Strato, his bully tormentor at school, his fighting parents and the strangeness of his new environment. Then it goes straight into the story, which is a good one.

Via a mysterious book from a mysterious bookshop presided over by a mysterious bird which may or may not be able to talk, Strato becomes the owner of a book that enables him to become invisible. He uses this (temporary) power to learn the truth about his bully, his parents and life as a grown-up, and he becomes stronger and makes some friends along the way.

There's an interesting scene in the book where Strato's teacher Dr Obejande tells him:

"Some people are natural victims because they indulge in self-pity, and compensate for their lack of popularity by imagining that they are superior to others. You are not superior to others and you are not inferior. You are just a boy, like any other. Behave like one, and you will find that you will be respected, and, in the long run, liked - or if not liked, then at least accepted by your peers."

I'm not sure that's correct advice for every loner kid out there, but it was right for Strato in this book.

This book got me thinking about "the invisible kids" at school. When I was a kid I wasn't invisible, but I was a nerd and I was shy. I always had friends and I told by a couple of teachers I was "respected by my peers", which always surprised me because I never saw any evidence of it. I was bullied to the "usual" degree, which is to say a couple of kids made me miserable for awhile, but it wasn't on a big scale and didn't last long.

As a bit of an outsider myself, I always empathized with the "invisible" kids. At primary school I befriended a girl who was reviled and bullied by everyone, and she was grateful for awhile and then turned on me spectacularly for reasons I didn't fully understand, but I know I wasn't the best of friends to her really. In high school I remember hanging out in the library with friends one lunchtime and a girl who sat and read in there alone every day listened to us and smiled at our jokes. I turned and smiled to her often as I felt sorry for her and I wanted to be kind, but - to my shame - I didn't invite her to join us. I remember wanting to, but not being sure how to do it (I was shy myself - and worried I would seem very uncool if I said "do you want to join us?").

School always had at least one loner kid who seemed pretty miserable. Some loner kids were probably not miserable, but even loners need friends.

Childhood, or specifically school, is so hard. We tend to forget how hard and awful it can be.

Did you know any invisible kids at school? Were you one of them?

Nov 9, 2013

Words for Wednesday: a true Friday story

'Words for Wednesday' is a writing prompt held by Delores at Under the Porch Light.
Use some or all of the week's words, write a poem or a story or a fragment, and visit Delores' current week's prompt to let her know you've joined in.

This week's words are:

This week I have a TRUE story. This is what happened to me tonight:

The car's problems seemed insignificant at first. I knew there was a problem with the radiator, and had felt the car's performance weaken. But I couldn't find the time or the cash to get it repaired just yet, so I kept it topped up with water and coolant and hoped for a few weeks' reprieve.

However, tonight coming home on the freeway, even I could not ignore the plumes of smoke that poured out from under the hood. I got off the freeway and pulled over. I used the maps app on my phone to track my exact location, and called for roadside assistance.

It was a ninety minute wait for the RACV. That was OK. It was a Friday night after all, and my car was my own damn fault. 

Fortunately I had a book with me. I buy books on Kindle these days, but I had treated myself the previous week to an actual paper book - and I had to admit it had been a joy reading it. It is nice to hold a physical book in your hands, and reading from paper is, after all, the easiest way to read. 

When the RACV guy arrived, he pointed out the evidence of my neglect: there was a hole in the radiator and rust around the battery, and I had been driving it hot for too long. I flushed crimson as he frowned over the engine. 

He arranged a tow truck and I got back in my car to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The sun went down. It turned cold. It started to rain. 

I put on my jacket, swallowed the bit of water in my drink bottle, and picked up my phone. I couldn't do much because my battery was low, and I knew I should save it. But still, I scrolled through Twitter, played a move in Words With Friends, and read a couple of blogs. I read Under The Porch Light's Words for Wednesday story about a woman waiting for a tow truck, while I waited for the tow truck.

I checked the time. It had been more than an hour. I rang the RACV, just to check if the tow truck had been ordered. It had.  

My phone battery was now very low. I texted my mother (who was minding my kids) and let her know not to be concerned if I didn't text or call again, because my phone was about to go dead.

I pulled out my book again and re-read the first chapter, trying to deconstruct how the author had set up the story and how he had started the action. It was a very good book.

The rain continued. Through the car window it made mottled shadows on the page of my book. Oh thank goodness, I thought. I finally found a use for "mottled" for Words for Wednesday!

My phone battery died. Forlornly I watched the little round symbol spinning to death on the screen, and then I was all alone.

It's very disconcerting to be without a phone these days. I was sitting alone in an empty carpark on a dark, cold rainy night, with no one I knew knowing where I was and no way to contact anyone.  My mind wandered a little to various scenarios. What if my interior car light attracted thugs or rapists or outlaw bikie gangs? What if I had to walk to a payphone? Was there even such a thing anymore? What if I missed the tow truck while I was walking to a payphone? What if I disappeared, never to be found again?

I sat there tottering on the border of panic for a minute, then reminded myself (a) I was not in dire straits, just waiting for a tow truck, (b) I was probably five minutes walk from Chadstone shopping centre, and (c) in the olden days of my youth I had been quite capable of surviving a couple of hours without access to a phone.

I turned on the radio and listened to the news. People in the Philippines are being battered by Typhoon Haiyan right now. I was just a woman with a #firstworldproblem, sitting in a broken down car created by her own laziness, waiting for a tow truck which would eventually come.

And it did. Eventually.

notarim/flickr creative commons

Nov 3, 2013

Sunday Selections #144: Homework Drawings

It's time for Sunday Selections!
Sunday Selections is a weekly meme hosted by River at Drifting Through Life. It's a way to showcase some of the photos we take, but don't get shown on our blogs. 

The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River somewhere in your post
3. leave a comment on River's post and visit some of the others who have posted and commented: for example:
    Andrew at High Riser
    Gillie at Random Thoughts From Abroad

This week I'm posting photos of the illustrations my kids do on their homework books.  I don't know how long their teachers will let them do this, but I love it.

This one M did today, underneath some facts about kookaburras she had to research and write herself.

These ones are from March this year - A's illustrations on a couple of pages of her Greek school homework:

Long-tailed Potoroo research done by A today:

Each week the kids get "DIPL" (literacy) homework that includes two written sentences using spelling rules covered in the week.  A. always illustrates hers:

This was a story M had to write recently, which she was very proud of. (It had to use certain words, which are the ones in colour):

Have I mentioned I love, love, love kids' drawings?

Nov 2, 2013

I've been published by someone other than me

I've got a micro-story in Literary Juice magazine.
It's called 'Playhouse', and you can read it here

I'm a little bit excited about it!


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