My own flock of birds….

The trip of a lifetime

We left on December 10th to visit our families in England and to spend a little over a month reconnecting with people and places treasured and valued from our varied and various pasts.

I suspect there is more that this trip will be the basis of more than one blogpost.

I am scared of flying, well to be a little more precise I am terrified of take-off, very uncomfortable at the thought of being in the air, petrified of turbulence and I always pray to God and anything else when landing…so the thought of three take offs, three landings and one leg of the journey being approx 16 hours in the air- it was actually a major mission for me, that I can only liken in terms of dread to the equivalent of facing fairly major traumatic surgery. (something that I also seem to do quite often…) On the plus side- at least you don’t have to recover quite the same following a flight.. well hopefully not.

Anyway off we went…on our awfully big adventure…excited and wary…especially of the transit through Dubai where I did actually get stopped and drug tested….and I attempted to use logic to over come my fears.

Take-offs were remarkeably unremarkeable…quite an oxymoron, I can only say that the A380 is smooth was hard to really tell that you were taking off, but my nose started to bleed just before we landed in Australia only about 3 hours into our flight schedule and I have come to the conclusion that landings are landings, the only way to survive them is to pray repetititively- something I don’t normally do in my everyday life, close your eyes tight shut and grip something rather tightly like you supposedly do when in labour…and pray..pray for loved ones, pray for those with you, and pray some more..

Turbulence was another issue… I tried to rationalise it. I decided if the plane was travelling at however many miles an hour that on the whole most patches of turbulence should only realistically last for  minutes rather than hours whilst we travelled thought the offending weather system. I also looked at the cabin crew and decided that if turbulence was always a major issue it probably wouldn’t be a career of choice for so many people and that people wouldn’t then have long careers. One of my schoolfriends became an airhostess….cabin crew and she has been doing the job now for maybe 25 or more years which would suggest that most of my worries about take off landing and turbulence are not warranted as she is still flying regularly.

My nose continued to bleed on and off all the way to Dubai- and we all wonder if this is why I got hauled out for drugs testing…it was actually over and done with in a few minutes but was a little terrifying, especially as a number of drugs that I use for my Rheumatoid Arthritis are not widely tolerated/accepted in the UAE.

Anyway the final leg of our journey was Dubai to Manchester and I felt at ease with in minutes, as I could hear the change in the voices of the people around me. Suddenly the tone and the words and the accents were familiar to me. The language was the same, there was a common and shared understanding and I knew almost instantly what it was like to rejoin my own flock of birds. I was one of them, I could hear it in their voice and my own, I fitted in- I belonged.

My own flock of birds.


The stuff we are supposed to leave at the door.

My mad life. The stuff we are supposed to leave at the door. With humour.

In the last 8 weeks I have discovered I am in the menopause, I have cysts in my breast, infection under my brain and a myriad of highly inconvenient other infections and no immune system to fight them- so I have had to stop most of my meds and I am shit scared of the fact that they are operating in my head next year, not worried about dying…I wouldn’t really know any better, but shit scared that they might accidentally mash something that will mean I spend the rest of my life with a pudding bowl haircut and needing someone to wipe my arse. So I have perhaps been a tad highly strung.

Factor into this ISIS and the blowing up of all manner of things that aren’t remotely political and need to spend many hours in the sky on planes in the next two months- pass me the wine…. And having a husband who served in an active theatre of war in 2003- Iraq -who wants to don camoflauge pants and equip himself with a Kalashnikov and solve the entire worlds problems with terrorism…on the days where he isn’t in denial about PTSD…

I went to pick Ellen up from work at 10pm on Tuesday night and parked in the light near the door- the car next to me contained a rather large burly man with a rather interesting display of tatts and many had gang affiliations. He got out of his car and seemed to be taking a rather uneccessary interest in mine, I didn’t want to be obvious and drive off…so I merely put the automatic lock on, and then made a complete show of myself trying to get it unlocked when Ellen arrived at the passenger door. I now realise he wasn’t after my cellphone, purse…etc etc he was merely admiring the art work on my bonnet. A creative student had drawn a two foot penis on it.

alison 087.jpg
A nice piece of art…

I try my best to turn up to work with matching shoes, a bit of lippy now and then and a smile, but last week I had run out of spoons. In an ideal world I should have taken a day off and read a book in the sunshine.

it’s all in the genes

celebrating my birthright
celebrating my birthright

Or is it? It is that time of year where we are recruiting staff to replace those that have moved on or those like me who are managing a small but triumphant escape to do something different. Today I tried to contact a former colleaugue and co worker whom would be a more than suitable and savvy replacement for half of me. Not that I only do half a job, but someone else is also going to be half of me. She had contacted me and I had my phone on silent- happens accidentally regularly- I had been doing the first part of my community netball coach certificate training last night and had thought it might be a trifle rude to have my phone on loudly…and then promptly forgot all about it unitl I realised I had missed more than a handful of calls this morning…anyway getting sidetracked there…

So I decided to phone this person after dinner tonight and the person who answered the phone sounded so unbelievably like the person that it was of absolutely no surprise whatsoever to be told that this was the said person’s mother. A lady I have never met before but had conversations about. The voices and intonation were so alike and the phrases that it was like seeing a perfect digital image of them sitting side by side and I could almost trace the contours of their faces the lines of their nose and cheekbones…just from hearing the voice. So is our voice genetic…is this what creates the symmetry or is it in the upbringing do we learn to speak exactly as our mothers speak do we learn their pattern of tone and verbosity and vernacular. In truth I suspect the latter, does this then mean that I too sound like my mother. Would you be able to trace a picture of her from my prose and laughter and inntonation. How totally curious. How insanely beautiful.

tall poppies

Thought this was a suitable title and even play on words. It was a week of tall poppies. I have been working with

A summer poppy...
A summer poppy…

students on a project about tear off packaging wiht Dr Shane Reti who is our local MP. It has beena  really good experience for the students to have had so much input from someone in the national political arena and also the industry links that Shane brought with him. We worked with two local industries- Comer engineering and Busck concrete and they made us a machine to test our packaets and fine out what the tear force needed was. We are trying to advocate and gather public backing for  a code of practice for industry that recommends a tear force of 30N, we are calling the campaign can you 51 it? this is the strength of 30N which is the equivalent of a pinky and thumb, the same force an elderly person can tear at.

It was in the local newspaper’s all last week and tracked as far as the South Island through the smaller press, it was also on Breakfast TV although a little second place to the return of the All blacks.. We even got phonecalls from important people in the packaging industry- so for many of my students it was something that represented a different approach, for once they were in fact the movers and shakers and people listened and took notice. Some of them are going to be tall poppies.

see the moment for what it is…

I have been telling myself this all day and yet I am still not quite there.

Today was the last day of school for the seniors. It was always going to be a difficult day for me. The current year 13 who finish school today forever…well I have watched over them for 4 long years. I taught five of the eight classes when they were in year 10, and it was a year beyond difficult. Two of our students took their own life, and the aftershcoks resonated through the whole year group and for more than the whole year. Today they had survived and succeeded and it was a proud but sad  moment watching them leave.

I wanted to give them something of value and I hope that my last lesson with them even if it was a little unusual will be there for all time. Walk forwards in to your futures and realise your dreams hopes and aspirations. If you need to stop a while to enjoy the view then do so, if you need a shoulder to cry on then tell someone and see the moment for what it is.

Custodian of the baskets of knowledge and other thoughts

alison 006These are the birds that come each morning. The Quails are wild and have brought so much pleasure to our family. They live somewhere around and have realised that the seed is put out daily. It is the moments like these that reminds me that my place here is as of great and as little significance as theirs. I foolishly think I own the land as it is my house that sits here, but they all lived here before me and will probably continue to live here after me. There are all manner of creatures on our small patch of land, there are possums and rabbits, pheasants, quail, rosellas, yellowtails, kerereu, and skinks, along with hedehogs, honey bees, praying mantis and this reminds me that we are merely custodians of the land.

In my other world of school I am the custodian of the baskets of knowledge and it is my duty to pass on the enthusiasm and motivation and skills needed for our young people to walk forward in our world with the dreams and desires and care to preserve it and enhance it for future generations. Our time here is so short and our value so fickle, it is like the wind it can change in a moment and lose or gain in strength and relevance. We must protect it and hold it close to our hearts.

“tread softly because you tread on my dreams”- YEATS

November 1st…the All blacks won back to back…in the rugby world cup

Well England got knocked out right at the beginning. It is important to notice what goes on in the world, the events be they political, social or even entertainment- they are like the beacons on our road map of life. They guide us back to our memories. I was born in the year that England last won the world cup-football that is…not rugby and for some reason that always seems to give me some sense of connection, it was a year of something instead of a year of nothing, a year remembered for something positive and not something of despair. So there I am like a little tiny star in the sky anchored by this one single event. My daughters were born on a day of history. They were born on the day that NATO began its aerial bombing campaign on Yugoslavia. Strange that- in my youth Yugoslavia had become a holiday destination, but that day marked a change that would last for many years and Yugoslavia ceased to exist in our minds as a tourist resort. And well that is how quickly and suddenly things can change. Our lives are so fragile, the webs we weave so intricate and complex and in one tiny breath we live and die, laugh and cry, hope and regret. Today we win. The All blacks… we win back to back in the rugby world cup. For someone somewhere it will serve as a positive beacon to guide them on their way and to guide them back to their connections at some future point in time.

In the beginning

I haven’t done this before…so this is in the beginning… I have called it  spoonful of sugar because I think I am an optimist and although there are quite a few ups and downs in my life…I try to take it as it is and keep going. I think Spoonful of sugar is a positive thing and I try to find positive things to help me keep up and running. I might make a few typos some days are worse than others but that is how it rolls.

Spring Rainbow on Mount Tiger
Spring Rainbow on Mount Tiger

I think I use my surroundings and the beauty in the environment to keep things in balance. Homeostasis as one of my students would say. I want to do this every day in November. I did Nanowrimo for a few years on the trot and did finish each time… a whopping 50,000 words in one month…but this is a different part of my life and a different story… so I am trying something different.

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