Friday, June 26, 2009

Excursion to Featherdale Wildlife Park

Even water monitors in tanks do it!

It was time for a another excursion with my level 3 class of adult migrants. I organised Featherdale, again, because we had to go somewhere cheapish and accessible. Vik wanted to be in & he invited Cathy & Marie, and then decided he'd take the whole college. He did what he loves to do. Organise. He set up the bus and convinced R to open his purse & put in money to subsidise the teacher places.

Vik is the frustrated entrepreneur. He is the bus man. He is the group happening man. He is the man.

We arrived & herded the students through koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and a couple of irritated emus. Multiple photo opportunities: teacher grins locked on jaws, tension gripping back molars.

Peter gave another good presentation:

Student: (Pointing to koala in his hands) Can I take her home?
Peter: No, but you can take me home.

Student: Is she married?

Peter: No, but she's got lots of boyfriends. (Students laugh.) She's a hussy, my koala. (Level 3 students make a note to look up "hussy" in the dictionary when they get back.)

What I enjoyed most was sitting down with my colleagues and swapping information. We've been working together for years, but we don't know much about each other. We were doing what we get students to do with classmates in the first week of term: we sussed out ethnic background, experiences, likes & dislikes. A relief to sit down together & not have to fill in an attendance sheet, evalution or SAR to document it. We drank disgusting coffee & ate chips with chicken salt.

And so it went, nothing very much out of the ordinary, except when we counted students before getting back on the bus at 1.30. Forty-six coming, only 45 at the exit. One elderly woman missing: Stella. Where was she? A posse of teachers went back through Featherdale. "Stella! Stella! Stella!" Images of Stella passed out among the emus, or on the floor of a cubicle in the toilet. "Stella! Stella! Stella!" What's her mobile number, we ask Marie. Stella can't use a mobile phone, Marie tells us. "Stella! Stella! Stella!"

No Stella.

Marie says we should leave on the bus. She'll stay to wait for Stella. No, Stella's gone, we argue. Information from a student on the bus. Stella was seen talking to people from her country. We think she's had enough of koalas and flying foxes. Just got a lift home. Marie calls Michael at school. He calls Stella's mobile, which she does answer. She's back at Auburn Station. Says she caught a bus. Asked the staff at Featherdale to point her to the bus stop and asked the driver to let her know when she got to the station, then hopped a train to Auburn. Well, she's a survivor all right. Survived war, and who knows what unspeakable atrocities in the dark days before she escaped. A piece of piss to find her way home from Featherdale in Blacktown.

Must learn to let her teacher know when she's leaving, though.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Death & "Disgrace"

venice, the apartment, disgraceImage by svanes via Flickr

Adult excursion yesterday with T. Dropped Alex off at Celia's and then, light and free, skipped north in sunshine to Newtown. Picked up a couple of gratis tickets @ Better Read than Dead for the Dendy. The adaptation of J.M. Coetzee's "Disgrace" ( Dir: Steve Jacobs; screenwriter: Anna-Maria Monticelli. ) Go here for a review of the book.

I wondered whether it would be two hours well-spent. These days, as the years race by, I'm more frugal of my time. I know, since the deaths of Mum & Dad, that my life is finite and unsustainable. We "understand" about death from childhood: I started dreading bedtime at 12 when my cousin, Roz, recited the prayer: ". . . if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." But I didn't really understand death until I saw Mum gasp her last breath.

Sandra Hall in Spectrum gave "Disgrace" 31/2 stars: mediocre; I hadn't seen Margaret Pomeranz and David Stretton's rating. Hall's star count wasn't stellar: "Makovich's essential iciness means the tragedy eludes us". But she's wrong. It's a beautiful film, and I did care about Malkovich's character, David Lurie, by the end. Jessica Haines, who plays Lurie's daughter Lucy, is absolutely right in the part. Compelling, tragic. I would have given the film 4 stars, and when I got home I caught the rerun of "At the Movies". Happy to report Margaret Pomeranz and David Stretton agree with me.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photos: my beat with local wildlife

Aerial photograph taken on a flight from Newca...Image via Wikipedia

I like to walk along the beach. The drought here has kept the rain away for many years, but the wet over the last three weeks has made it almost impossible to walk.

I take my camera and observe my beat through the lens. Despite the urban sprawl, the airport and traffic, there's always wildlife and I try to make a pictorial note of the beauty I see.
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Good Read!

Cover of "The Shadow of the Wind"Cover of The Shadow of the Wind

Just finished "The Shadow of the Wind". Had to reread the chunks I'd downed with a glass of wine. So much detail. Wait: when did Daniel give Clara the book? What does Nuria Montford lie about? Everyone with a secret past, or a bastard son, or a mother who lets off cataclysmic farts. Wonderful to live in this dark, mysterious Barcelona of the mind for two weeks. Sad and empty when I finished the book and fell back into the quotidian morass of life.
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