Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Thursday, January 31, 2008



I was at school from 8:15 until 5:15 today. About a third of the time was spent on a staff meeting, and the rest of the time I was trekking around between my classroom and the various resource rooms, or clambering up and down off cupboards and desks to put posters up on my walls. I’m beat.

I’m now definitely installed as the Year 5-7 teacher, and I’ll have sixteen kids, currently aged between 9½ and 11½ . I’m also the Class Music teacher for everyone from Year Two upwards: the year 2-4 teacher can’t do music and I’d rather not do Phys Ed whereas she’s very sporty, so I’ll take all of our classes combined for music and she’ll take all of our classes combined for sport, thus giving each other some free time as well.

I’m feeling extremely relieved because the first day was nowhere near as nerve-wracking as I expected it to be. The new principal is fantastic and supportive and as new to Little Country Town as I am, which is great; the other two teachers are just lovely; and the support staff are terrific. I met one of my students, a new girl who was just enrolling today, so I’ll have one familiar face in the classroom on Monday. And I’m now somewhat organised, have some resources to play with, and can get started on making my classroom work. Phew!

But I’m so, so tired!

I still have a very sore throat and a swollen gland in my neck, although I think the gland is a bit less sore and swollen today and I didn’t need as much medication today either, which is a very good sign. It will probably have cleared up completely by the time my doctors’ appointment on Monday rolls around lol. Both Mum and S were panicking that I might have glandular fever (S because two of his previous girlfriends have had it so he’s scared he’s an asymptomatic carrier; and Mum just because she’s a worritt!). But from what I’ve read I’d have lots of swollen glands, exhaustion and fevers with glandular fever. I haven’t had a fever at all as far as I know, and I’ve had my normal levels of energy and have been pretty much carrying on as normal despite the painful throat. So I’m pretty convinced that it’s just tonsillitis or strep throat. Hopefully the doc can make it go away if it doesn’t go on its own!

And in other good news, the education department start paying me a week today. Imminent starvation averted! Lol

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Over the last couple of weeks, several people (non-teachers) have asked me whether I had all my planning done for next term. I've hedged every time because frankly, while I've got a full set of ideas about what I want my kids to achieve this term, I don't want to get into the lesson-by-lesson planning until I've got a clearer idea of how this class and this school are going to work.

And now I'm so glad I didn't put weeks of work into that sort of planning, because it seems I'm switching classrooms!

This afternoon I went to have coffee with Amanda and Carline, the other two teachers. Amanda has about 5 years’ experience and has the K-1 class, whereas Carline is a graduate like me and had been given the 5-7 class. Almost as soon as I sat down we got on to the topic of the fact that Carline is feeling panicked about that class and that the new principal (unexpectedly new!) had suggested that we could swap classrooms.

Now, I really wanted the middle group, but I’ve actually had no experience with kids that age, whereas I had two pracs with year 6/7 classes. And I could see in Carline’s face how much the class was worrying her. So I said on the spot that I’d swap, and she was so relieved that she hugged me, even though I’d only met her 5 minutes earlier!

I’m happy enough with the swap – years 5, 6 and 7 students can be pretty cool and you can do a lot more with older classes – and I’m very relieved that I haven’t wasted masses of time planning for a group I won’t be teaching. The planning I have done is perfectly applicable to the group I’ve now got as I’ll just make the assignments harder and the artworks more complex, and so forth. I hadn’t spent any money on resources yet either, apart from one book which will now seriously help Carline so I don’t mind that so much. And I’ve also gained a little, as some maths books that Mum had bought in case 9yo-brother needed them when he was older are now the perfect age for the kids in my classroom.

But, woah. Change of mindset required, and I start work tomorrow!

For the next two days I’ll be at the school with the other staff getting the place ready, then I’ve got the weekend to tie up any loose ends and spend time with S, and then . . . I’m teaching.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jemmy Cuteness

Yesterday when I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, Jemima came into the room, miaowed at me, then jumped into the (empty) bathtub and lay down. I went to stroke her, but she took a swat at my hand so, being a good owner, I went to get a toy to tempt her with and my camera to photograph her with :-D

Don't be fooled by the angelic look of this pic, she was in a seriously cranky mood lol.

It looks like she's pouncing on my runaway tube of exfoliating scrub here, and ignoring the ball completely . . . she was ignoring the ball but there's actually a tiny spider under her paw. A minute later she tried to eat said spider and apparently didn't enjoy the taste or sensation, because she pulled the funniest "blech!" face I've ever seen on anyone, cat or human! Sadly I failed to capture the moment on film.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I’ve just got back . . .

. . . from spending the weekend with S in Perth. It was my first night away from Little Country Town since I moved in, and I was nervous about how Jemima would go alone overnight. She seems fine (but very happy to see me!) and the house is all exactly as I left it, so I guess she did alright.

It’s nice to be home, and nice that Little Country Town already feels like home, even though I’ve been here less than a week. I’ve done my best so far to adopt the house and the town, and I feel like the house has adopted me and the town is working on it (I’m now recognised immediately by the folks at the post office, petrol station, hardware and supermarket, and I’ve met one set of neighbours). And slowly but surely I’m falling in love with the beautiful aspects of this place – the quietness, the incredibly vivid stars at night (hardly any lights, so they’re just spectacular), and the amazing flocks of galahs or cockatoos (I haven’t got close enough to know which yet) that fly over the town and roost in the trees just outside it at night. And I’m still enjoying the feeling of driving along the open road between golden fields of wheat and gnarled old salmon gums.

Every now and then this place makes me catch my breath and sigh with delight. I think being here will be ok :-)

But the downside to being back is that I miss S like crazy. We’re going to see each other every weekend, but the weekend we just had together was so wonderful and cozy that it was very hard on both of us when I had to leave. I keep reminding myself that next year we’ll be able to live together – with the help of luck, providence or stubbornness – but this year is going to be tough.

I’m trying to think positive – focusing on the good weekends, not the loneliness in between.

PS: It is apparently physically impossible for me to drive past a wheat field with a windmill in it without starting to whistle or hum the theme music from "Twister", which features a lot of that kind of scenery. *shrug* . . . at least it's beautiful music!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ohhh *sigh of relief*

After a good half-hour session with an extremely canny and helpful troubleshooter at iinet, I now have broadband. Nice, fast, willing-to-load-stuff broadband. Ooh it feels good!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Well, I'm back

My broadband is on already . . . but I'm not on it, because the damn modem isn't talking to the computer. I’ll be on to the ISP’s support line tomorrow, but until then I’ll just have to put up with their dial-up service. Which is actually not so bad, I have to say.

S stayed with me for two days to ease the transition, and I miss him dreadfully now that he’s gone home again. I wish he could stay here with me. We’ll visit a lot of course and it’s really not far (less than 2 hours’ drive) but . . . I wish he was here!

Life here so far has been interesting. I’ve seen an echidna in the wild for the first time ever, I’ve driven to and from Perth and Little Country Town more times than I care to think about, I’ve discovered a river I’d never heard of before, and I’ve learned what the weather reports really meant when they talked about “scattered/isolated showers and storms” - I’ll post a pic later, there’s nothing quite like seeing a single thunderstorm cell all alone in an otherwise blue sky! I’ve learned that every shop in town (supermarket, hardware stores, petrol station, chemist, post office) carries cutlery, crockery and various other homewares. The bigger hardware also carries basic workmens’ clothes and major appliances like fridges and stoves o_O If you want to rent DVDs you go to the petrol station. It’s like an alternate universe, but it’s peopled with friendly folk and so far I’m enjoying myself.

I’ve had to go into the post office three days running to ask for stuff (there’s no postal delivery so I had to get a PO box, for a start) and I’ve now made friends with the girl who runs the post office. It’s a one-couple operation, so the post office closes for an hour each day for lunch. Cute!

That’s all for now, I’m starting to ramble . . . expect many pics and excited updates to come! 

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Watch This Space

I'm all packed up and ready to go this evening: the moving van is arriving tomorrow morning to take all my worldly possessions to my new home in Little Country Town.

I'm very tired from packing, unaccountably weepy and just wanting the move to be over so that the settling-in and putting-down-roots process can begin.

I'm going to be offline for up to two weeks while the phone company gets my internet connection sorted. There's a Telecentre in the town so no doubt I'll pop online from time to time but I don't know whether I'll post until I'm settled in.

So . . . wish me luck, and I'll be back as soon as I possibly can, no doubt with some stories to tell about this weird new country town experience.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

My car . . .

. . . is definitely developing a personality. And any definition of that personality must start with the word “temperamental”.

It drives fine, but starting it can be a real pain, and is usually a conjuring trick involving the judicious balancing of the choke, the accelerator and the turning of the key. The windscreen wiper lever falls out occasionally (while still managing to operate the windscreen wipers effectively!) and the water squirter doesn’t work. And the headlights turn on with a smooth turning of the switch rather than a clicking around of the switch, meaning that they’re extremely easy to knock into the ‘on’ position. My stepdad had to jump-start me this afternoon because I’d done just that and unknowingly left them that way for two hours. I spent part of this afternoon painting a bright yellow stripe on the part of the switch that is visible when the headlights are on, so that I KNOW if they’re on.

But . . . it runs, and it’s my car, and I like it anyway! No name yet.

Oh, and a rant . . . it’s the second week of January, yes? Easter is twelve, count them, twelve weeks away. So why, in the name of all that’s holy, are there Easter Eggs in the supermarket?

It’s like the supermarkets are run by people who are sitting there thinking “ZOMG teh sh0pperz is alll excitted aftr xmas an teh cant deel wit nuthin exciting fo months an months! HALP! We mus do s0methng! Kwik! Getz us sum Easter Eggz!!!!11!!!!11!”

*rolls eyes*

Easter Eggs are for Easter . . . right? It's not like the supermarket is exactly lacking in a hundred forms of chocolate at any other time, either!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Yowww . . .

This should be a triumphant post about a very big day in my life - I just bought my first car.

But the 24 hours since buying the car have been so damn stressful that the dance of joy is impossible due to very sore legs. So instead I’ll just tell the story lol.

Yesterday, S and I went to the cheap car yard that had thus far been closed when we’d tried to go car shopping. It was open, and a quick perusal of the cars in my price range showed up a single very good option. We asked to test drive it, but when the car yard guy started it up, it had a flat battery. That was okay, he jump-started it and it worked fine. We took it for a test-drive and it handled nicely for its age – smooth enough even at 80kmh, and even though the steering was non-power, it wasn’t hard to corner or anything. It seemed perfect, and after a thorough check of the engine, lights etc, we (S and I) decided that I should get it. $990 and three signatures later, the car was mine.

It started up fine and we drove back to S’s house, where it sat for three hours until I had to go to work. I got in, turned the key and . . . nothing.

Luckily, although the car didn’t have a warranty (too cheap!), it did come with a year’s membership with a 24/7 roadside assistance company. I phoned them up and they sent a battery replacement van. The battery guy tested everything, replaced the battery (it was degraded as well as having gone flat, so he thought I’d be better with a new one), gave me quite an in-depth assessment of what he thought of the engine (it’s very good, despite this teething problem) but suggested that there were some sparking wires which might need attention.

So anyway, he got the car up and running again, and it was idling beautifully. So I switched it off, paid him, and after he left, went back inside to phone work (for which I was already an hour late) to ask whether I should still come in for the rest of my 4.5-hour shift. They said yes, so I went back out to the car to head off.

I turned the key and . . . nothing.

I didn’t have hysterics at this point, but I wanted to. S, a neighbour and I tried to push-start the car (but this was a wasted effort as we later found out – you can’t push-start automatics), and when that didn’t work I phoned the roadside assist again. They got the battery guy to call me, and he said that it was a different problem as he’d definitely fixed the battery. Half a dozen phone calls between me, Mum and roadside assist later, we decided that it was too expensive to get the car professionally towed the 36km from S’s house to mine, and instead my stepdad came to S’s house with a tow rope, and we flat-bed towed my poor car all the way from S’s house to our local garage near where I currently live.

S and I split driving the towed car half-and-half – he came along as shotgun communications, but my ankle gave out half-way so he did the rest. Then, of course, I had to borrow Mum’s car to drive S all the way home again, then get myself home. It was a loooong evening. I never did get to work, but they were sympathetic, and besides, I’m finishing next week anyway so they’re hardly about to bother firing me!

I had to get up early this morning to go and drop the car key off with the mechanic, and then I worked 11-5:30. In the afternoon I phoned the garage, and nearly wept with relief when they said that they’d put a second-hand but functioning starter motor in my car and it was now working perfectly. I picked it up after work and it started fine and worked beautifully all the way home. Here’s hoping it still works when I’m trying to leave for work tomorrow!

So right now I’m sitting here completely exhausted with my feet soaking in a tub of warm water and Radox to try and ease the achy stiffness caused by too much driving (especially driving when holding the brake down really hard to keep a tow-rope taut) and too much work in shoes that aren’t really good enough. I’m tired out to the point of tears.

But I have a car!

It’s a 1981 Ford Laser Ghia, an ubiquitous model for which I’ll never have trouble sourcing parts, and which has a really good reputation as a solid, reliable little car. It’s a four-door hatch, with a radio and cassette player (I’ve yet to see whether the power outlet works so that I can use my iTrip), and it once had aircon – I’m hoping Dad (who has a refrigeration and air conditioning business) can re-install it. It was once silver but now it’s a kind of dull, slightly silvery grey. It needs some anti-rust paint over a few rust spots, but it’s sound and quite pleasant to drive.

Here it is . . .

It hasn’t got a name (or a gender, for that matter), yet . . . I’m waiting to see what its personality is before I assign a moniker to it. But it’ll have one eventually!

I have a car! *squee*

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A few photos

I spent most of today at the beach in Rockingham with Mum, 11yo-sis and 9yo-brother. I'd had enough of swimming after lunch, so I sat on the beach playing with my new camera.

Some piccies . . .

Beachy art shot:

Close-up of a very small shell:


The beach:

It was a nice day . . . we swam, had fish and chips for lunch, swam / sat on the beach, had an icecream then headed home. I got both kids to try (and like!) calamari . . . although I didn't tell them it was squid until after they both said they liked it lol.

The highlight of my day was this exchange with 9yo:

9yo: I think there's a dangerous fish
Me: No, there's no dangerous fish at this beach
9yo: Then what's that dark shape?
Me: My shadow!


Monday, January 7, 2008

Closing a door

It takes a lot of doing to permanently end an unhealthy friendship, especially when the friendship is a long-standing one.

Today I finally cracked and told my former best friend where to get off, after she yet again treated me with distain, contempt and malice, like she has so many times over the years.

We’d been best friends since we were 14, when we were both oddball high-schoolers and had a lot in common – including having no close friends at our respective schools. When we both left school and started at university, I noticed a distinct change in her behaviour towards me. I didn’t know how to define it at the time, but it basically boiled down to the fact that she seemed to have decided that she didn’t have to respect me. She still seemed to seek out my friendship but she didn’t value me personally.

The rot really set in about seven years ago, when the behaviour really became noticeable: failing to seek out contact unless it was useful to her, publicly humiliating me for my commitment to the friendship (such as a loudly sarcastic response to the suggestion that we meet for lunch, etc), dismissing my needs but leaning on me for hers, etc.

I really noticed it back in 2000, when her sole response to my boyfriend breaking up with me was “yeah, that’s why I love my boyfriend, he wouldn’t do that” (irrelevant, but he did do it a few months later).

In 2006 we shared a house for the whole year. This was a mutually beneficial relationship and she behaved nicely most of the time, except when she had some need that could be met elsewhere, in which case I was dirt to be ground under her heel. This led to a lot of arguments in the last month before she went to the country and our house-sharing ended, partly due to the fact that her boyfriend was moving over from Melbourne and she wanted him to just move in to our house, no questions asked.

During these arguments, I still made a massive effort to keep the friendship – even completing a ~$60 ‘care package’ for her to take with her to the country, out of pure concern and care for her.

Today she sent me a bitchy text saying that she wasn’t coming to a dinner party I was having because she didn’t like the way things had ended this time last year. And I simply decided that I’d had enough. If she’s been proudly bearing that grudge all this time and is all anti-me, when even during the argumentative time I was still forgiving her and looking after her . . . she can take her attitude and stick it up whatever orifice she chooses, frankly. I’ve forgiven her a thousand times over for every little insult and brush-off and casual cruelty she’s ever meted out to me. If she doesn’t want to forgive and forget, she clearly doesn’t want me in her life, and I’m not interested in having her in mine.

And I said so.

It hurts like crazy – we’ve not been close for years, apart from the (largely fake on her part?) closeness when house-sharing, but she’s been a constant in my life for the past twelve-and-a-half years – but at the same time, it feels very good. I’m standing up for myself the way I should have years ago.

I should have told her what I thought of her behaviour years ago, the first time she did it, and nipped it in the bud then. But I was too much of a peacemaker, too afraid of ‘losing’ her (when the truth is that she was already lost). I knew as soon as I did it that it was the right decision, and now that I’ve stopped shaking from anger, I’m glad I did it.

It’ll make keeping some other friendships hard – I don’t blame the people who were her friends before they were mine if they drift away (although of course I would never ask them to take sides). But it had to be done, and it feels healthy.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Oh my . . .

I've just done up my calendar for this year, marking in the school terms etc, and it's suddenly become clear to me that I'm moving to Little Country Town in just over two weeks. Eek. And I'm starting teaching - my kids will be walking into the classroom - in just over four weeks.



Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Gifts and Ghosts


I got the last of my Christmas and birthday gifts today – the purchases I made with the gift cards I’d been given.

From Dad’s Coles Myer Group gift card for Christmas, I got:
- A prepaid mobile phone (I have a mobile already, on a plan, but it won’t work in Little Country Town which is on the Telstra “Next G” network, a special extended network for remote areas, and my current phone can’t roam on that part of the Telstra network. The fact that it’s on that network is ABSURD since it’s only an hour out of the metro area, but that’s a whole other story. So I’ve now got a prepaid that I can use up there for texting and emergency calls when driving).

- A cheap version of the iTrip, a gadget that takes the sound from your iPod and transmits it into your car radio so that you can listen in the car. I’m going to want this when driving to and from Little Country Town as there’s no radio station coverage for some of the drive. I tried it out in Mum’s car today and it was awesome!

- A pack of ’50 Family Movies’ which has a wide collection of old classics, including several Shirley Temples and a whole host of movies from other stars.

From Dad’s ‘House’ gift card for my birthday, I got:

- A stainless steel wok, and a ring to hold it upright. I’m totally rapt with my wok, I’ve wanted one for so long!

- A set of good quality electronic kitchen scales, which can switch between metric and imperial at the touch of a button and have a 1 gram graduation. They’re looovely.

- An awesome gadget called a ‘Cookie Gun’ which is basically a tube with attachments on the end through which you can force cookie dough or icing to get particular shapes and patterns. It has an attachment for Christmas-tree shaped cookies, for example. It’s totally frivolous but it looks like so much fun.

From Grandma’s ABC Shop gift card, I got a new Western Australia Travellers Atlas. I already have a Perth street directory and a Country Roads Atlas (which has road maps of most of WA’s country towns, Little Country Town included). This map book shows the connecting and rural roads in between all of the towns, along with all of the watercourses etc, and shows what services each town has. I had Mum’s old one of these, but it was very out of date.

From a Westfield card I got as a reward from work, I got a new watch. It’s silver with a white face and ornate links. It’s very pretty.

I also went into Wooldridges, which is THE shop for school stuff – it’s where the teachers get their resources and where students fill their booklists (well, most schools do a mail-order thingy so the parents don’t actually have to go to the shop, but it’s where everything comes from). They’ve just opened a new branch near where I live, so I went to see what was available. And nearly had hysterics. There’s so much to choose from, so many ideas, so many themes, so many choices of maths programmes . . . in the end I just bought one book, a Blackline Masters (ie stuff you can photocopy and hand out) book called “Me”. It’s activities for ~8-year-olds all about oneself – heritage, family, goals, etc. I’ll photocopy lots of the pages and make up booklets for the students as a getting-to-know-you exercise in the first weeks of term. Somewhere to start!


Last night it took me a while to get to sleep because I foolishly started looking at ghost photographs on the internet late at night, and spooked myself. This got me thinking about ghosts and the way one reacts to ideas like that.

Intellectually, I’m quite happy with the idea of ghosts. I don’t see why they shouldn’t exist, and I’m not worried by the idea that they may exist. I’m quite certain they’re not harmful, and I quite like exploring ideas around ghosts – I even have a childrens’ book planned about the ghost world (tying in archaeology as well). I enjoy reading theories about ghosts, and ‘real life’ ghost stories interest me a lot.

That’s how my conscious mind approaches ghosts.

But . . . my subconscious, animal brain is different. It KNOWS that there are ghosts, and it reckons that they’re SCARY, and when my conscious mind is casually and cheerfully exploring ghost ideas, my animal hits every panic-chemical gland in my body and makes the hairs on my arms stand up and preps my body for a fight with the BIG BAD MONSTERS THAT IT KNOWS ARE OUT THERE.

I wish it wouldn’t do that!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I had a pleasant but quiet New Years. S and I went to see “The Golden Compass” (which was fantastic, btw – two thumbs up on that one) then went back to his house and just sat around chatting and enjoying each others’ company until midnight and after. I had to drive home as I had Mum’s car, so I didn’t get in until after 3am, and then Jemima decided to be a pain in the butt and attack me regularly for the next two hours (I think she was peeved as I’ve been away overnight several times recently). So I’ve had hardly any sleep worth mentioning, and I’m spending today alternately trying to do nothing and then doing stuff because I forget that I'm not doing anything :-D

My family’s Christmas and New Year festive period officially ends at the end of tomorrow, which is Mum’s birthday. After that, dieting kicks in!

I have two main goals for 2008: get my weight under control, and get my finances under control. I have lots of plans about how to do this, and my first plan is to take weight watchers seriously this year. I’m going to lose at least 15 and preferably 25 kilograms by next Christmas. It’s totally achievable, I just have to set my mind to it. It’ll be slow going until I move to Little Country Town, as I won’t have full food control until then, but then it’ll be action stations!

These are the things I’m going to do to lose weight:

1. Eat a 19-points-per-day diet, partly by buying pre-prepared Weight Watchers products to make up as much of my diet as possible. This will also help with being organised, as I can buy the pre-frozen WW dinners for some nights of the week and therefore won’t have to cook when I’m really busy.

2. Jump on the treadmill for 30-60 minutes’ brisk walking after work every day. Or walk around the town once the weather cools.

3. Get a dog later in the year, and take the dog for walks before and after school.

4. Do regular daily housework to keep my house looking nice (as I overeat if I feel bad about how my house looks) and to give myself some extra exercise.

5. Look at starting sports – I know the town is always looking for people who can join their football, netball and hockey teams, and tennis pennant club. I wouldn’t mind giving hockey a crack (no pun intended!) or getting back into tennis. I don’t know how my bad hand will stand up to either of those, but it’s worth a try and it’s a good way to integrate into the town as well.

6. Look at other ways to get exercise, like swimming laps at the pool while it is open (November to March, it’s an outdoor pool), going to the town’s gym (casual sessions $6), spending time bushwalking the spectacular hills nearby the town, and not using the car to get to the supermarket, post office, church etc which are all 5 minutes’ walk from my house!

I really want to do this . . . be prepared for alternate whinging and celebrating as I get started!


I began my preliminary planning for teaching today, because I couldn’t relax without starting it, despite the fact that I’m so dozy. I’m thinking of possibly starting with a sea & water theme – I need to find out whether that’s something they’ve done recently. I’ve got ideas for a couple of excursions and some interesting lessons, and there’s a science module I can run along the same theme. It feels good to be coming to grips with it all!