Category Archives: prose

another Easter egg hunt

This year, Easter has come early. Instead of the great Easter egg hunt being held on Sunday, it was today because my husband is taking them away tomorrow to visit their grandparents for a few days.

Last year I posted about how we make our poor unfortunate children solve puzzles and do maths to get their Easter eggs. No wonder they say we’re horrible parents…

The kids have to follow the clues, each clue leading to an Easter egg and the next clue, until the final clue leads to an Easter bunny.

Some of the clues need knowledge of the property, for example that we have a small hexagonal yurt with its own water tank, and a sitting tree, and a dam with a pump located at it, and the kids have a bark hut they built. The animal feed is stored in feed bins which are home to rodents no matter what we do, as is my greenhouse. Oh, and our only heating is a slow combustion wood stove.

With that in mind, here are some of this year’s clues if you want to have a go at them (answers posted at the end):

For the 9 year old:

Unjumble

Write the notes and fill in the gaps

Some maths

Some shapes

and word puzzles:

(my photo was too blurry, so I’m typing it out)
Busy as a _____
What horses eat, minus the aitch _____
What pirates are reputed to say _______
Turn it on it’s side (drawing of a sideways K)    ______
leave a space, and then:
Your age minus one, and add a “ch”   _____
Not me, or him, or her, but _____
You can put a small white ball on me  ______

 

For the 14 year olds:

More difficult maths, both simultaneous equations:

and some simple graphing (follow the directions):

Some science (physics, chemistry and biology):

I’m typing this one out because apparently my handwriting was too hard to read:

Rapid oxidation
occurs inside my tum
then CO2 and H2O
come flying out my bum!
My colon’s very long and tall
it reaches to the sky
releasing clouds in winter time
gassing birdies flying by

And some playing with words:
(this one was dropped and lost, so I’m typing it out too)

Say a mild oath, with a missing end,
are you feeling the pressure now, my friend? 
Solve this cryptic clue, then run
to get your egg before it melts in the sun. 

 

and here are the solutions (top to bottom) (scroll down… ):

.

.

.

.

woodshed, deck table, gate, between the yurt and its tank, bark hut, yurt, deck, green house, wood stove (fireplace), feed-bins, dam pump.

 

 

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thesis writing: the Rimmer method

I’m spending a lot of my time at the moment reading thesis drafts. And reflecting on the theses and papers I’ve helped students with, and my own writing practice, I have formulated the Rimmer toilet paper methodology for thesis writing and reviewing to help other supervisors and their students.

The methodology is inspired by Rimmer’s frugal use of toilet paper: “one up, one down, one to polish”. Applying the same idea to thesis reviewing saves the time of the both the student and the supervisor.
The aim is that the supervisor only has to read the thesis three times, and the student doesn’t go mad revising draft after draft.
This how it works:

1. One up: the first draft has the ideas and the structure, the outline of the argument, and the chain of logic between method, results and conclusions with enough data to support the argument. And that’s all. So, on the reading of this draft, the sticky and lumpy problems get sorted, and direction for what else needs to go in is clarified. The result of this reading is that the page/word count goes up, because the student goes away with a clear understanding of what to do to put where.

2. One down: the second draft should be pretty much complete, and logically sequenced. A little bit of structural editing happens at this stage – paragraphs get moved, the argument gets tightened up. And this is where stuff that doesn’t need to be in there gets deleted. You can’t afford to be precious – if it doesn’t contribute clearly and directly, cut it out. The result of this reading is the page/word count goes down.

3. One to polish: the third draft should be the last if you did the first two well. This is the copyedit and proofread stage – just making it read nicely, fixing grammar and spelling errors: polishing.  This stage must be preceded by the previous two, because you can’t shine… a first draft.

As a supervisor, sometimes it feels like a whole roll of toilet paper has to be used to clean up a thesis between first mucky draft and final polished perfection. And after the tenth reading you start to want to insert the thesis sideways into even the best of students. But the thoughtful application of the “one up, one down, one to polish” methodology will save time and support better student-supervisor relationships.

Note that the “one up, one down, one to polish” methodology is most suitable for lengthy pieces of writing, where a theme or argument needs to be sustained. For very short pieces, such as blog posts, the urinal method is perfectly acceptable – just squirt it out, and walk away.

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mum’s hairdressing salon II

It was 30C and humid here today – and try as I might I couldn’t channel coldness for Frank’s dVerse Haibun Monday prompt, “winter“. Maybe if we had air-conditioning I could have done better. 

 

She carries spring in her step, so what need could she have for its green in her hair? What need, when her hair is yellow-brown as a summer wheat field, and her skin stores the sun and the boundless, cloudless sky is in her eyes?

I offer pink, mauve, blue (roses and lilacs, summer blooms under clear skies).

But no, it has to be green. So, I take the small bottles from my own (winter defying, winter denying?) palette: apple green, electric lime, sweet mint. I twine the colours (tendrils, vines) through the summer of her hair. And in the end it is not so much like spring come to awaken winter fields (as I want to believe it is in my hair), as like rain-wakened ground after the drought ends. As she waits, I do my own.

 

The snow in my hair

will not melt away in spring.

But it holds apples.

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no, we won’t “see what happens”

Another day,
another dollar,
another week,
the kids are taller,
another month,
my figure’s fuller,
another year,
my mind is duller.

And so they flow,
future to past,
this present instant
cannot last.

All these years,
my face can’t hide,
all these months,
can’t be defied
all these weeks,
soon put aside,
as all these days,
wash away with the tide.

But I’ll face each one
head high with pride,
and I’ll choose the path
down which I stride.

 

I’ve been thinking about aging a lot lately, because I’m spending a lot of time trying to sort things out for my parents who never did any planning beyond “we’ll see what happens”, which is my mother’s catch phrase.  That phrase has become such a trigger for me – I just want to slap anyone who says it now, and yell “no! take some responsibility for your life!”.  My parents have always been irresponsible. They’re truly dreadful role models. But brilliant cautionary examples.  Anyway, trying to sort things out for them now, from interstate, in a pandemic, is a nightmare. Not that it would be much easier if I was there – they simply have no records, no paperwork, no plans, no ideas…  And it’s made me think about where I want to be after I retire, and what happens when I can’t manage on my own anymore, advanced care directives, administrators and executors. It’s a bit depressing. But at least if my kids do want to slap me in 30 years, it won’t be because I’m just waiting to see what happens, but because of what I’ve chosen to do. I hope they want to slap me for blowing their inheritance on a sports car and a toy-boy and really expensive champagne.     

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Tanked II (haibun series)

If you’ve read my post Tanked, this picture of our new over-flow tank will be familiar. It’s 4m in diameter, weighs 400kg, and fell off the truck and tried to escape by rolling downhill into the dam when it was delivered. We stopped it, and rolled it back up to the house and tied it to a tree so it couldn’t get away.

Continue reading

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tanked (haibun series)

It’s been a really wet year, and relying on tank water as we do it’s frustrating to see the tanks overflowing – all that water we can’t store just running down into the gullies! So having talked about it for months, and with the La Nina starting to fade away, we’ve finally bought another tank. Continue reading

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for L_, who I trust and respect

I didn’t go to his funeral. Even if I could have, I would not have gone. Funerals are for the living, Continue reading

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some notes for Selma

Some notes for Selma on orbits, because I couldn’t put all this in a comment.

I can’t add a file other than an image, so here are my notes on orbits for Selma as a bunch of images. If they look fuzzy, just click on the image and it will display as a nice clear version. Continue reading

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confession of a physicist

So, I wrote my last post in response to the dVerse prosery prompt, which was to write up to 144 words of prose including  the line “I am bombarded yet I stand”. Then I thought I’d better actually read the poem by Adrienne Rich, “Planetarium”, that the line comes from.  And I wrote this as my proseyness instead: 

XXXXXX

XXXXXXI have a confession:

I don’t like astronomy. I find it really boring.

Go on, gasp in horror. Judge me soulless. Continue reading

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then who?

I question whether I could be kinder. Whether I should be kinder. Whether, once (twice?) rejected, I have the right to simply opt-out now.
I am tempted to say nothing, or to speak only platitudes. That would be so easy, to nod and abide by her mantra of “we’ll see what happens”.
But we’ve seen what has happened. What has happened, on the golden child’s watch. The golden child who only ever tells her what she wants to hear. Until the police and social workers are listening.
Silence might be a kindness in the moment. But his complicity in the fantasy that everything is alright is how we got to here.
So, I make the phone calls, I make the decisions, and I take her complaints and accusations. I am bombarded. Yet I stand. Because, if I am not my mother’s keeper, then who?

Written for the dVerse prosery prompt: no more than 144 words of prose including the line “I am bombarded yet I stand”.

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