Reading and Rambling

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blue Eyed Boy

So, this one had thrown me for a six!!!  Reading it last night completely spun me out ... total confusion, which means that I must continue so that I can comprehend what is happening!!!  Joanne Harris ... you do mesmerise me!  This is so different, so disturbing, and yet so typically riveting!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holidays!!! Time to Read!!!

So at last, I am on holiday.  Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh ...   Results are done and scores have been sent ... overall, a fantastic set of awards. I am such a happy mother hen :)

So now it is time to READ!!!   Hallelujah!

I just do not really know where to start...   Currently I am reading Joanne Harris' Blue Eyed Boy - so different, so engaging, so disturbing - I love it!!

Just received Chris Womersley's Bereft in the post today.  Don't you love it when you order a book online, forget, and then it arrives??  I do!!

And there are so many others piled up, waiting in the wings ... five weeks will not be enough, but I will do my best to devour as many as I can.  I LOVE summer holidays <3 <3 <3

Monday, December 6, 2010

A tough day ....

Today I attended the funeral of a four year old boy who lost his courageous battle with cancer last Wednesday.  I do not think that words can come close to expressing the emotions I experienced and witnessed today.  What I saw was a beautiful little boy with a great big smile who has lived and loved so fully for his short time on earth.  I have seen a family who have shown such love, devotion and courage to this amazing little boy ... it breaks my heart.  It breaks my heart to see their loss, and I wonder why ... why him and why them?  As the mother of my own four year old son, it has affected me deeply.  I keep thinking of words, images and sounds that I absorbed today, and I make connections between Charlie and Liam - their love of toy catalogues, Thomas the Tank Engine, cuddles, stories, swimming, family ......... my heart breaks for this beautiful family and that adorable little boy who fought so hard.  RIP, Charlie, you are free to run and play and laugh forever now in heaven.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I am not allowed to ...

This is my version of a writing exercise I once gave my students :)  It's very therapeutic!!!

I am not allowed to ….

Eat Pringles for breakfast
Listen to loud music when my children want peace and quiet
Drink a bottle of wine every night 
Ram into cars that do less than 110kmh down the southern outlet  
Accept free tickets to bands from young girls 
Burn students’ assignments because I can’t be bothered marking them
Go swimming at the gorge after midnight
Ignore my mother’s text messages
Flirt with hot guys because I am married 
Run away to France for a year 
Keep a dragon as a pet 
Be facebook friends with students till Dec 31
Make voodoo dolls of people
Eat my children just because they look delicious
Tell students what I really think of them 
Buy myself Christmas presents
Buy a new Volvo V50 wagon 
Marry Eddie Vedder … apparently ?  (well, maybe I will)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bereft ....

It is with a heavy heart that I write tonight. My fluffy little Writing hatchlings have flown the nest …. and I am left alone.

I worry about how my baby birds will fare in the big wide world: my wayward sons, Sam and Josh, what will become of them? Who will save them from themselves? Not even …


My beautiful little girlie chicks .. how will they fend off all those boys whilst pursuing their ambitions to change the world? And how will I keep my nest in order without Zoe to save me from chaos???

They have shared their stories with me, both on paper and in life. I have witnessed their joys and frustrations, deep hurt and indifference. They have made me laugh and curse, wonder and admire.

So … it is the end of an era of cupcakes and coffee, ‘misplaced’ keys (I guess I can now publicly confess that they were in my pocket all along – oops!), no laptops and excuses ….

What will the bag Nazi do without Dee (and countless others) who have broken the laws about bags in IT – risking death in the pit of fire in their transgressions. Tsk tsk. It is not only me who will feel the loss of this mixed bag of lollies that is English Writing 2010 (I cannot bring myself to say ‘was’).

A whole year has passed – and not a single classroom romance? Or is there still time for one to blossom??

I am left alone, with only final results before me, unsure what to do with myself – a life? But what is that? I do not know. I have our final farewell dinner to live for … and then perhaps I am destined to wander, “lonely as a cloud” … Fly, my little chickadees, spread your wings and fly.

And a huge THANK YOU to the wonderful Makayla for letting me use her amazing photos <3

Saturday, October 23, 2010

'An Ode to Marking'

Now, I confess that I am no poet, but as the mountainous pile of assignments begins to overwhelm me, I felt the need to release and talk back to those nasty writer's notebooks, writing projects and folio drafts.

Anyway, here it is.  It has made me feel better for writing it!

‘An ode to marking’

I know you mock me.
You, you white sheets of purity,
You think you are so saintly.
But no, you are tainted.
Marked with blackness,
With your insipid romances
And melodramatic tragedies,
Your violence and your wars.
No, you are not pure or perfect.
Are you oblivious to your mistakes?
You are riddled with the diseases
Of poor grammar
And punctuation errors
And words that don’t make sense
Or sound just plain lame.

Do you think that you are everything?
That I have no other life?
Well, I do.  I have a LIFE.
A life that is my family, my garden,
A house to keep, and books to read.
Do you not think I deserve to sleep?
Or to eat? 
Maybe even watch a tv program, or a movie
Just once in a while ….

I know you do not care for any of that.
You just demand and consume me,
Trying to destroy me.
Well, you won’t.
I will have my life, and you can wait.
So next time you mutter
About deadlines and results,
Just remember:  I have a LIFE!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

just an update ...

My creativity has been somewhat stifled by an overwhelming mass of Writing Project drafts of late .... (sigh)   However, I am still reading - Pearl in a Cage is the current tale of choice, and I have to say that I am quite engrossed.  I will endeavour to post some details in the near future ....   I am also very excited about the forthcoming release of Kate Morton's latest novel, The Darkest Hours.  I cannot wait for this - bring on November 1!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Truth ...

I have just finished reading Peter Temple's Miles Franklin Award winning novel, Truth.  While I am not normally an avid reader of crime fiction (apart from my love of Patricia Cornwell), I did really engage with this story.  I loved the vivid Melbourne setting, and although I found the large number of characters a little challenging to keep up with, it was a fantastic story.  The portrayal of characters was believable and human; I liked that it was not ALL happy endings, and yet the narrative provided a satisfactory resolution to the plot lines.  Lots of complexities and subplots - a recommended read!   My only gripe was an error early on: 'women' instead of 'woman' - cannot help but get stuck on such mistakes  :(

What to read tonight?  I need to select from the substantial pile next to my bed ... perhaps Pearl in a Cage?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Elegance of the Hedgehog ...

Wow!  I have finished reading this beautiful novel was fabulous!  It took me a while to empathise with the two alternating narrators:  Renee is the 54 year old concierge, of humble origins yet highly  although secretly educated.  12 year old Paloma is an intelligent daughter of one of the wealthy residents of number 7, Rue de Grenelle, who rejects the bourgeois and plans to commite suicide on June 16, her birthday) But I steadily became enthralled by the story.  It did feature some surprise twists - I won't give too much away - although I was a little saddened by the final event before the novel's conclusion ....   I would have liked a little more on the developing relationship between Renee and Paloma, more on the interaction between them to convince me of their connection, although it was credible.  I totally believed in - and found myself hoping for the blossoming of - the relationship between Renee and Monsieur Ozu.  It is a story about friendship, intelligence versus the class of intelligentsia, fate, wealth and status ... It was just so different, and so lovely, intellectually challenging, and yet imparting some basic messages about life, love, culture and the state of the world.  Adorable!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pearl in a Cage

Just bought this one on e-bay.  Looking forward to a shopping trip to Hobart, where I am sure I will pick up an extra book or two  :)  Plus a visit to Laura Ashley ... always inspiring!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New books!

I love buying new books, and have now added Peter Temple's Truth and Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, to my collection, as well as the latest Joanne Harris novel, Blue Eyed Boy.  I always become so engrossed in Harris' tales, and look forward to reading this one.  

I cannot wait for our new house extension to be completed, so that I can create my library/study - although sadly, it won't warrant one of those ladders that roll along to reach the higher shelves ... still, I am excited about creating a new book haven for myself, building some new shelves and organising my very own library.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

50 great reads ...

I am so excited that the new list is out, and have already highlighted about twenty books I simply MUST read ... shopping awaits .............

Back to Tractors ...

I have finished reading A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, with mixed responses.  There WERE tractors ... Nikolai was writing a book about the history of tractors as current events in his life unfolded, narrated by his daughter, Nadia. 

Overall I enjoyed it, although at times I was frustrated and wanted it to end.  There were moments that I thought, if he was my father, I would hit him over the head with a shovel, and then I felt ashamed that I contemplated this, given his age and history of war and flight to a new country... Valentina was hilarious, although she too was trying to improve her situation in life ... I was a little concerned at Nadia's obsession with Valentina - to the point of stalking her ....

A combination of humour, featuring language and circumstance, as well as a sense of tragedy for events endured by various characters, it was a good read.  I did also like the historical insight that the novel provided, in terms of the challenges of creating a new life in a new country, and the historical conflict and oppression that people and cultures endure.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pearl Jam lyrics ... love them :)

I wish I was a neutron bomb for once I could go off

I wish I was a sacrifice but somehow still lived on

I wish I was a sentimental ornament you hung on

The Christmas tree I wish I was the star that went on top

I wish I was the evidence I wish I was the grounds

For 50 million hands upraised and open toward the sky

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Who could resist such a title?  I bought this book today, although not sure when I will get to read it.  I was drawn by the cover, as well as the Parisian setting and the intrigue that is suggested ... looking forward to this one  :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ordinary courage ....

I am looking forward to some discussion in my Writing class tomorrow, following the presentation by Donna Mulhearn today.  Her story on her experiences as a peace activist and human shield in Iraq in 2003 has certainly provided lots of information and ideas for reflection and creativity, as well as the way we view ourselves and our lives.  I am also keen to pick up on MLKs 'I have a dream' speech with the class now - perfect reference today - and explore its message with some new insights and ideas.  And of course, I will be seeking out Mulhearn's book, 'Ordinary Courage' to read!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian .....

iHmmm...just started this one.  It's different, funny, and I do not think anything at all like the title suggests (well there are no tractors yet...)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bach by Candlelight

Atmospheric .... the glorious Christ Church in Longford, surrounded by candles, listening to the divine music of JS Bach on flute and harpsichord. Outside, the darkness and the rain provide a soothing background, making one feel like they are in a heavenly cocoon, transported from everyday life.  What a sublime experience, such a balm for the soul ... exquisite!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Florence and Giles ...

Ooooh, almost finished this gripping novel!  I can't wait to read the conclusion, and yet I already feel sad about finishing it ...  There are still questions to be answered and plot lines to be resolved, flollowing a rather shocking turn of events - Flo, what a fiesty and determined little character you are!  Can't wait ...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Florence and Giles ...

I am so keen to go to bed and keep reading Florence and Giles ... I am now hooked!  With a mixture of dread and delight, I can't put it down.  Many questions are to be answered, and I need to know if my suspicions about various elements of the plot and characters will turn out to be correct or if I am being red-herringed.  Might have to hide under the doona tonight with a torch, so my husband doesn't growl at me for staying awake so late .....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I have a dream ...

One of my Writing students sent me his genre speech draft yesterday ... but substituted it with Martin Luther King's great 'I have a dream' speech.  I do thank him for giving me the chance to revisit this powerful speech, but I confess it has inspired me to write my own version in response, along the lines of ...

'I have a dream that one day Joshua will use his time wisely to fulfil his writing potential, that he will not only get his drafts done, but that he will refine, edit and polish his work so that what he submits is as worthy as that of the published greats of his era and those who have so bravely gone before.

I have a dream today!'

... that's all I have time for now, but I DO look forward to completing this piece!  Juicy ...

I think I will set this as a writing stimulus next week ...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The present ...

Things are a little (no, no ... what am I saying?  I mean extremely!!) hectic with marking and reports but I have finished reading The Well ... hmmm ... will elaborate (and scream) in due course.  Have also finished Georgia Blain's Darkwater - loved it - and just commenced reading John Harding's Florence and Giles.  Apart from the engaging names in the title, and a very unusual (very stark) visual book cover, I think this one is very 'me': elements of history (19th century), 'crumbling mansions', ghosts and mysteries .... I hope it lives up to expectations!!!  It is a much anticipated escape from the drudgery and stress of teaching and reporting at this torturous end of second term ....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Well ...

I am currently reading Elizabeth Jolley's novel, The Well, and I am now  desperate to finish it!  While I have a rather love/hate relationship with the characters, I NEED to know what the 'deal' is with the man in the well!!  I think that, in real life, I would actually intensely dislike both Hester and Katherine, but as characters, they are appealing.  I enjoy the suspense of the tale, that while the 'crime' was revealed in the first chapter, the circumstances surrounding it are withheld.  Both Hester and Katherine are dysfunctional, isolated and repressed, and their relationship is one of disturbing dependence.  I am keen to seek the resolution to this dark story!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On writing ....

I had a lovely time last night writing a piece using the stimulus 'Why I Stole it' (a writing exercise which I gave to my English Writing students this morning).. I had so much fun creating a story of revenge on the bag Nazi ... certain writing students will know who I refer to here ... What great therapy this was, and so delicious to write a humorous, slightly absurd piece.  I do look forward to reading what my students came up with in response to the task!!!!

A favourite ...

I should start with this fantastic novel, given that it is enjoying its 50th anniversary since publication.  I loved so many elements of Harper Lee's story - the childhood persective of Scout, the way it made me laugh out loud, the insights into the historical and social context, and the serious issues it explores, which are still so relevant.  I also find it so intriguing that this was Lee's only novel and her life since has become one of a recluse.  I am excited to have procured a copy of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee .. it's on my 'must read' list!  It is also fantastic to have one of my gifted Year 8 English students reading and studying this book; it gives me an opportunity to revisit the characters, events and ideas.  I miss teaching TKM in Year 10 English ... I have many wonderful memories of students that I have taught ... notably those lovely Bound sisters x x x  I love the film, which captures the characters and setting in just the way I envisioned them.  And lastly ... my two cats are named Jem and Scout !!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wow ... my very own blog.  Not that I know what I am doing yet.  Be patient and I will develop this page, with a view to reflecting on what I read and what I write ......