Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What happened to the autumn?

Officially our autumn is one third gone, but the weather is still quite summery. On the weekend it was in the 30s, and today it's supposed to hit 27ยบ. (Thanks to Kerri for the computer tip on creating the degree sign!) Our crepe myrtles have taken their time in reaching the end of their flowering - they've been going for more than 2 months! Now it's time for the hibiscus to show off its beautiful flowers.

Autumn also heralds the start of the footy season, and Val goes a bit feral. But more on that in another post.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Just getting by

Two comments today from Kerri and Alice on my last post of over a week ago have prodded me into action. And no, I haven't been wearing slippers continuously since last Sunday, but I AM still wearing slippers now at 5.30 p.m. on Sunday. I have missed the daily dialogue with my blogging buddies over the past week, have just managed to read and comment here and there.

I've been plagued by some bug that has been coming and going over the past couple of weeks, not feeling sick enough to justify collapsing into bed and having the man who cooks fuss over me (he's good at that). So I've just kept going to work, trying to stay low key, definitely feeling low key. I haven't felt inspired to post anything this week, although you might have noticed my minor rant about the Commonwealth Games in my banner.

But today there is something positive to post about: this is a photo of the just completed project in our front courtyard. A simple bench will be fixed to the wall under the kitchen window to add a finishing touch. The man who cooks will have a nice outlook from his study. Yes, he is also a handyman and does love his projects. He also loves concrete, and those uprights will survive gale force winds, being imbedded in a good whack of concrete. If I ever wanted to buy him something really special, it would be one of those miniature concrete mixer trucks you sometimes see.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lazy Sunday afternoon

It's now 2 p.m., and I am still in my dressing gown and slippers. Yes! Having a slipper day, very much like the hermit day Kali talked about in her blog. Just pottering around the blogs, and communicating with first year English lit students via the university's online learning system. That BTW does not replace going to lectures and tutorials, but it is a terrific way of communicating with students at any time, and they may even be at other campuses in the bush. My priority is to monitor the discussion lists to see if there are any problems with library resources, and reference queries, and I can answer them where all students will be able to read it. Often one student will answer another student's question, there's a great deal of co-operation going on.

A lovely spinoff though is that I get to know some students as individuals, and we discuss mutual interests, whether it's reading matter or which football team we follow. At the moment we have a "book club" going in the discussion lists, but the titles are a far cry from the Jane Austen books on their reading lists! This interaction with students is one of the best things about my job.

Here I am (last year some time actually) sitting around in my dressing gown and matching slippers, reading the newspapers. Hmmm, I wonder if I've straightened up that print behind me??

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How the government promotes terrorism readiness

I thought Tanya's post from her Purple Giraffe blog was just too funny not to share. If you are in need of a good laugh, and who isn't, just follow the link from the post title. I've been back to visit a few times now, and still laugh.

Mind you, it is a bit unnerving to think that some bureaucrat at the site probably took these public service symbols for terrorism readiness quite seriously. But thank goodness there was someone else with a wonderfully absurd sense of humor to counteract that with silly captions. Here's an example:

If you are trapped under falling debris, conserve oxygen by not farting. (This will appeal to my sons.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Alternative to the preordained - Part 2

In my previous post I wrote about how my dad had influenced the course of my life, but what about Mom? Well, she was at home, doing the Mom-thing, which was worrying about me when I was traveling around Europe by myself. But the best thing she did was NOT to lay a trip on me about going to Europe as a 19 year old on her own, even though it must have been dreadful to see me fly off to the unknown. And those were the days of no internet, no emails or mobile phones, and normal phone calls were prohibitively expensive. Communication was infrequent; how she must have suffered, and there I was, having the time of my life, working and traveling, not realising until I was a parent many years later, what she must have gone through. Although I had different plans for my life than Mom did for her own, she always encouraged me to study, be independent, and to do my best, at the same time showing me by example how important it was to have a good family life.

Now as a mother I think that's all come good - our sons are very close to us, I've done the motherhood thing as well as having had two professional careers.

But one thought: when all of us are at home and I'm locking up the house for the night, as I put the chain on the door I feel happy that everyone is safe and sound. How will I cope when the boys leave for parts unknown? I don't think as well as Mom did all those years ago. Hats off to you, Mom! I will have to use you as an inspiration when the time comes.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Alternative to the preordained

In my previous post which was a response to a meme, Stu thought there was a story behind my answer to the last question:
Name the person who inputed the most wisdom into your life?
My parents: Mom because she showed me the importance of family life, and Dad because he made me look at alternatives to what I thought were preordained paths for me to take.

There is a story, and I've decided to write two separate posts, one for each parent. Today's post is about Dad's influence.

After high school, I went on to university, what for me was preordained. (This is not meant in a religious sense, but more generally. More commonly expressed, I guess I'd say "it was a given", but preordained sounds better!) Anyway... my choice of major was also clear to me: German language and culture. Ever since I had started learning German in Year 9, it was what I loved and had a flair for. So far, so good. What I was going to do with a bachelors degree in German literature was something I hadn't thought about, but there was time for that, and anyway it was party time at uni! My first year was spent having fun, going folk dancing almost every night, and achieving rather mediocre results in my studies.

Dad had a different idea about how he saw my life heading: a degree in German, marriage and kids, without my ever going out to work. This was the 60s, before women in numbers started trying to have careers AND a family. Earning a living was an important experience he thought I should have. For myself, I was interested in marriage at some stage, but children were never a part of it.

This is what I wrote in English class when I was in Year 10. My teacher added her comments, she was right about the marriage and children, although the latter would come along another 25 years later!

So at the end of that first year, Dad said he would not fund my education for the following year, but would resume doing so if I went out to work for a year.

I thought it was the end of the world at first. It was not how I envisaged my life. That is, I'd finish my degree and then, well, something would turn up. Not much envisaging, was it? But I did go and get a job as a clerk in an insurance company in San Francisco, and plucked up the courage to move out of home and rent an apartment in the city (still possible to do that in the 60s). It was wonderful.

At the end of that year, Dad came up with another idea. Through someone at work he heard about a scheme for young people to work in Germany for 2 - 3 months. In those days Germany just couldn't get enough workers. I got a job as a maid in a small hotel on a resort island off the northern coast of Germany. At the end of my stint there I then started travelling around Europe, and my original 3 months became a year, including living and working in Hamburg for 6 months.

This did wonders for my spoken German, my self confidence, and it provided a focus for what I wanted to do with my degree: I was going to become a German teacher, which I eventually did.

So by Dad interrupting my studies, I went to do things I would probably never have done otherwise, and how glad I am for the way things turned out!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Stu's gardening meme (I've been tagged!)

Stu from Gardening for Dummies has made up a meme. The idea is for people he's tagged to answer these questions. His answers are on his blog (linked from above), and I tag one or more people at the bottom of this post to answer the questions in turn. It's a good way to find out more about a person. Also, I had not had any brainwaves about a post this week, so this comes at a good time.

If I was only allowed to keep one plant in my garden which would it be?
The crepe myrtles (we have two so I think that's allowed as the one plant). They have a long flowering season with a magnificent color; even without leaves and flowers they still show off their beautiful bark; and as they are at the front of the house, they create a great entry to the property.

If there was only one thing invented in the past 100 years that I was permitted to keep, what would it be?
The automatic washing machine. Without that life would be too dreary, and you wouldn't have enough time to do other stuff.

Name 3 animals you saw yesterday (excluding cats and dogs).
1. dozens of ducks on the university campus where I work
2. the head and hind quarters of a rat one of my cats killed
3. (heard) a heron flying overhead

Which season do you like the most?
In Melbourne it has to be the autumn. The weather is very stable, still warm but with a hint of the changing season. And it means the footy season is back.

Name the person who inputed the most wisdom into your life?
My parents: Mom because she showed me the importance of family life, and Dad because he made me look at alternatives to what I thought were preordained paths for me to take.

I'm tagging the Other Val again.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A proud granny with happy little guys

This was taken on the Wattle steam boat on the Yarra about 1990. Such happy campers. I love this photo. Don't ask me when I'm going to become a granny. I began my motherhood career at the age of 39, and it looks like I've got even more of a wait than my mother had.

Where did the time go?

It's been almost a week since I posted, the first week of the academic year will do that to you. Thousands of new students on campus, thronging into the library for tours, catalogue workshops, asking questions, borrowing books, as well as, ahem, checking their email and surfing the net. Libraries these days are bedlam, mobile phones going off despite signage, and more and more people are bringing in their laptops and forgetting/not thinking to turn down the sound. Would love a dollar for every time I hear the Windows theme when a computer boots up. Although we have a few hundred workstations for students to use, at this time of year it's never enough. The wireless network means students can access the university server from their own computers if they are in range of a signal on certain parts of the campus. How times have changed. When I was an undergrad in the 60s, photocopiers were the new technology...

So I've been coming home and chilling out, just keeping up with reading my usual blogs. Stopped by Wendy A's blog, which brings me to the second reference to "Where did the time go?" Wendy has a photo of her youngest son going off to kinder, and I immediately was transported back to the late 80s/early 90s when my sons were that age. Recently I came across a photo that was taken of Techie Son celebrating his 5th birthday at kinder. I haven't given our scanner much of a workout since we bought it, but this is a good reason to get it cranked up. I still have the little crown he made and which he's wearing in the photo. You can see his classmates' crowns better in the foreground.