Showing posts from March, 2017

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 24 Spine Poetry

 Returning ToSpine Poetry
Because it is Friday. Poetry is in order. Poetry is always in order, but particularly as the working week ends. I welcome it like wine on the weekend.

To try this poetry idea I grabbed a plentiful supply of books. I went to my personal library, scanned the shelves for suitable titles before arranging them in an order I felt provided some cohesive flow of ideas. This provides some spine splendid viewing fun. It's word play. Spine time. Something all writers need to indulge in, from time to time.

When I was satisfied with the order, I photographed my creations.

Always an easy, fun way to engage young poets, and more experienced poets too, in creating words of wonder and delight.

The top one is brand new. Inspired by some poetry titles in my collection. It has just emerged from the Poet's oven. The other two are earlier creations, re-presented for your viewing/reading pleasure. 

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 23 -Let's Get This Season Started

Let’s Get This Season Started!

Tonight marks the commencement of another football season here in Australia. It is the launch of Australian Rules Football for 2017. As it turns out, my team, the Richmond Tigers are playing the season opener against arch rivals, the Carlton Blues. Melbourne is a renowned sporting city. It prides itself in being the sporting capital of the nation. A large crowd will fill the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) tonight and nationally television sets will be switched on to watch this season opener. But football in Australia has a different dimension to other sports. I read today that this indigenous game of ours possesses the power to bring the community together like a kind of social glue. I agree. You won’t go far in Melbourne today without hearing a conversation about football.

I am among other things a sporting tragic, having supported my football team my entire life, just like my father before me and as my son and grandson do now. A family tradition is runni…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 22 -The Rapid Decline Of Autumn Magic

The Rapid Decline of Autumn Magic
Balmy Autumn days have suddenly spiraled down, transforming from magical to a wet, soggy, humid world overnight.  A month of autumn rain has fallen in a little less than 24 hours. Wind, showers and low grey clouds have erased the sun from our day screen.

Melbourne, my home city is renowned for its interchangeable weather. The classic Crowded House song, 'Four Seasons In One Day' is in part a salute to The city’s variable weather personality. It certainly never gets boring when planning your day’s events. Complacency is a recipe for disaster. Carry an umbrella at all times and sunscreen, just in case. 

In the comparative bleakness of the morning, with rain pitter-patting against the study window, these words rained upon the open page of my notebook:

Yesterday the sky 
Brilliant blue
Inspired hope
The sun on my back
Warmed my bones

The clouds
Wolf grey
Hang despairingly low
Like a sook’s bottom lip
The wind is a bully
It slaps my face
Bending trees to its…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 21 -The Gift Of The Ironing Board

The Gift of the Ironing Board
Because today is the 21 day of March, I allowed myself to wander back in time- way back in time to the year I turned 21. 

It was a big year as I recall. It was the year I began teaching. A year of significant change for me personally. I returned home that year after being away at college for my teacher training. Moving home was a re-adjustment too.  My football team, Richmond Tigers won the Premiership by a record margin. Momentous events all.

But one other eventful thing occurred the year I turned 21 that has had implications right up until today. As part of my 21st birthday gifts, my parents in their collective wisdom, presented me with an ironing board. Yes, an ironing board. It left me quizzical. Head scratching bemusement was my response. The wisdom that comes with living had clearly not descended upon me at that time. 

All my life I had watched my mother ironing for the entire family, myself included. The iron remained an instrument of complete and utte…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 20 -Moon Memories and Moments

Moon Moments
The moon has been a recurring theme in my writing. As a boy I pondered much thought regarding its magnificence. 

I would lie in my bed staring up and out the window, imagining I could see a face on that distant orb. It remained a mystery. 

In time, I witnessed Neil Armstrong's first tentative steps upon the moon's surface while viewing a somewhat grainy black and white television set during my very first year of teaching.

I have stood under its full beaming reflection in the middle of Australia's heartland and marveled at the light it provided in that vast open space. 

I recall my father crooning the words, 'Blue moon, I saw you standing alone...' The moon even features in the title of my latest book of poetry. The moon has a recurring presence in many phases of my life. My moon memories are many.

These days, part of my nightly routine is to take, Boo,the Wonder Dog out for her end of evening snuffle and pee. She waddles down the driveway head bowed, while I…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 19 -The Joy of Feasting On Figs

The Joy Of Feasting On Figs

I love cooking and creating with figs. Such juicy, squidgy delights. Great in so many recipes. Tonight, I made a fig salad. Simple in its construction and delicious in its taste. The salad boasted figs from our own garden augmented with others Vicki purchased at the Boneo Produce Market on Saturday morning.

Figs provide a rich source of fibre and they’re full of vitamins and minerals. Known for being a healthy and versatile fruit, they add a burst of sweetness to all kinds of dishes...

Figs are ancient. They are one of the world’s oldest trees, and while they are native to the Middle East and  the Mediterranean region, I am forever grateful they are common in Australia. They are a backyard staple. Their high standing among consumers is exemplified in the exorbitant prices they fetch in supermarkets. This makes growing them in your garden such a smart thing to do.

As a growing boy, I recall my Mum buying packets of fig rolls. What a delicious treat they were. Ki…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 18 - Writing Under The Influence

Writing What You Read
I am acutely aware what I read influences what I write. With that thought at the front of my thoughts today, I find myself reflecting on my summer reading.

 It just so happens that during the summer I was fortunate enough to receive two poetry books as gifts and managed to find three more, I purchased myself. All in all it was a rather eclectic collection of poems, to say the least. That fact just added to the appeal.

The books were as follows:

Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen
Forever Words, Johny Cash
Jelly boots, Smelly Boots, Michael Rosen
The Everyday Poet, Edited by Deborah Alma
How To Write Poetry, Michael Rosen

Exposure to these books means poetry has been right up front in my thinking when I consider potential writing ideas. My current writer's notebook reflects this strong influence. 

American poet, Ted Kooser said,‘You should read at least one hundred poems before you write one.’ Kooser’s words are essentially about immersion. So, having spent the summer immers…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 17- Movies, Memories, Mathematics and Space Adventures

Movies, Memories, Mathematics and Space Adventures

Yesterday I saw the movie, 'Hidden Figures,' a powerful movie concerning the space race between America and Russia to put a man in space. The film depicts the under-reported role three African American women played in that international contest. 

The story details the working lives of three brilliant African-American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson whose mathematical abilities and computing skills were critical to supporting the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit around the earth.

The film addressed a range of issues including gender stereotyping, misogyny, and racism. Mention was also made about the Russian satelite, Sputnik. The launching of this satelite served to increase competition in the space race and the film focuses very much on this desire to lead the world in exploring the frontiers of outer space. 

I was surprised to discover that a prevailing view among some Americans at th…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 16 -A Name Means Everything

A Name Means Everything
From my study I often hear one of our neighbours calling her dogs in the forlorn hope that they will obey her commands. 

Ava and Theo, her two strong willed Pugs regularly pay her no mind. They are her untamed babies, wild and willful. Despite her numerous pleas for compliance they continue to wander and scamper off in directions of their own choosing. ‘Theo, come back now!’ ‘Ava, Ava, no!’  ‘Ava, Theo, come here, right now!’ Those defiant little dogs feign deafness and snuffle away, only returning when good and ready. The pugly truth is they are quite naughty.

I chuckle each time I hear the plaintive cries. Those dogs have the coolest names though. Theo and Ava. With names like that I feel they should be a geriatric couple defying the dimming of their days with age inappropriate behaviour, rather than two tiny Pug dogs. I wonder where those doggy names originated? I’m sure there’s a story there...

Quite some years ago, Vicki and I lived in Mount Martha, the adjoin…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 15 -The Weather Is What We Make Of It

Take The Weather With You
I am aware of snow storms and blizzards presently threatening parts of the US.  I recall from my time living and working in New York, how profound and disruptive such weather events can be. I was once ushered out of a school in the middle of a lesson while working in a school in Westchester County, the Principal fearing if I didn’t leave at once, the approaching snow storm might strand me there and prevent my return to New York. I readily bowed to superior knowledge and scarpered immediately to the nearest train station via a hastily arranged taxi. This action proved prophetic.

 The storm swept through about two hours hour later blanketing the region with significant levels of snow. Must admit in my six years living in New York the novelty of snow never wore off. I loved the way it muffled the noise of the city covering everything in a pure white shroud. Ugliness was transformed and surfaces softened. Coming from a place where snow in winter is a rarity, this w…

Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 14 -How Writers Differ From Magicians

WritersAre Different ToMagicians
I spend a lot of time thinking about writing. Almost as much time as I do actually composing thoughts and ideas. Today, I found myself ruminating about the difference between writers and magicians. It is a comparison I have thought about quite a lot over time.

As a student I was taught what to write, rather than how to write. The teacher frequently said -here is the genre, here is the topic, now show what you can do. 

As a consequence I have always striven to teach in ways that demystify writing, trying to build understanding through modeled, guided and independent practice. 

Much of my teaching life has focused on sharing the knowledge I have gathered from my sustained writing life with young writers and their teachers. I want to set these writers up to be successful, to view themselves as confident writers too.

Writers share. They willingly unpack their understanding about writing in the hope a less experienced writer may benefit from knowing important as…

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 13- Live and Loud In The Botanical Gardens

Live and Loud in The Botanical Gardens
We drove to the city of Melbourne yesterday to attend a concert in the Botanical Gardens featuring some big name artists from Australia’s music industry –Claire Bowditch, James Reyne and the group Icehouse. We live an hour down the coast from the city so we decided to enjoy some city time and stay overnight.

I can’t remember the last time Vicki and I attended a concert like this, particularly an outdoor concert. Our hotel was situated in the heart of the city, so we decided to catch a tram to the gardens, a short three minutes ride. It’s also been quite some time since my last tram ride. It was fun to venture back into territory to which we had former connections. It is also good to be shaken out of your weekend routine occasionally. -To re-imagine possibilities.

A mild autumn evening and a cloudy sky that took pity on all assembled under it meant the night was a success both musically and weather wise. 

Of course, the great thing about music is its …

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 12 -SundayThoughts and Observations

Thoughts andObservations On ASunday

A boy, possibly 12-13 enters the Filling Station Café  and sits awkwardly with his parents. He is wearing calf high black socks with a pair of mauve coloured plastic Crocs. Could this be a case of child abuse through the use of public shaming, or is it merely a fashion crime?
If only 1 % of the population are actually gluten intolerant. It makes it a marketing miracle to sell so many gluten free food products to the masses.
Actually, I find myself quite astounded to discover you can purchase spinach in a family pack in my local supermarket.
It seems an increasing number of television advertisements are featuring the phenomenon of ‘talking food.’ Talking broccoli, French fries, and carrots have joined the ranks of talking M and M’s. I find it most difficult to digest.

Slice of Life Story Challenge March 11 -Food, Life and Love

Food, Life and LoveYesterday after presenting a day of writing at Ascot Vale Primary School the staff graciously presented me with a book. A book that really hit the mark…

I found myself looking at a ‘just right’ book. A cooking book of recipes (Cooking with Ascot Vale Primary School) with stories conceived and compiled by students and parents celebrating kids in the kitchen. The book also draws in the some of the best offerings from neighbourhood cafes and restaurants. Such a comprehensive view of food. 

For this food lover and occasional cook, it was a real joy to be able to add this beautifully presented title to my ever expanding collection of cook books. 

I love how modern cook books are more frequently examples of hybrid texts, presenting not just procedures for conjuring up cooking delights, but also providing the background story of how that particular recipe came to life.

Sometimes there exists a rich family tradition of cooking a dish of enduring delight. I love these stories. F…