Thursday, February 28, 2008


i *like* public speaking. i do enjoy having an audience.

i think the lecture went well. the other TAs and the prof enjoyed it, anyway. don't know about the students. a few of them asked good questions at the end, which was neat. i still think i pitch these things too high. first years need so much direction in their lectures. i was watching them trying to take notes and getting all confused. i'm giving the picturebook lecture again in a couple of weeks, so i can try refining that according to what i learnt this time and see how that goes.

one of the best things about these big lecture theatres, though, is that you get to wear one of those mikes that clips onto the front of your shirt, with a battery pack on the waist. it's totally cool. and when i played the vid of the speech i got to do that fiddling round with knobs and switches and the remote control thing. and then it played on the big screen all loud! the prof said he even got a bit teary watching it, cos i'd explained all the context. i shared australian politics!

epponnea-rae's inner show off

ps. thankyou again for your input, stalwart commentors. it was very helpful in informing what i had to say about the speech.


last weekend was a big food weekend. miriam and i went to the local farmers' market and got some organic locally grown fruit and veg, and we also went to a seed sale at the van dusen gardens. my favourite favourite thing i got at the farmers' market was a brown paper bag of mixed exotic mushrooms. i luuuurve mushrooms, and these were all weird looking and delicious.

i made mushroom risotto, dealing with the slow process the usual way:

it was a world of delicious, but i won't show you a photo, because mushroom risotto always *looks* like grey rice even when it tastes like fabulousness.

at the seed fair i bought some basil seeds (my basil plant died in the cold, but i'm going to try again - this time i'll wait til it's warm) and some lemon-scented gum seeds, which apparently you can grow in a pot - very exciting! i miss gumtrees so much. will keep you up to date with that as i go.

the more immediately exciting thing i got was this:

it's a mushroom bag! if i look after it carefully and follow the insanely complicated instructions on the handout it will sprout shiitaki mushrooms all over, and can harvest them often and eat like a king! the first pic is what it looked like on sunday. here's what it looks like now:

the white blobby things are mushroom buttons! i can't wait!

i also realised that my famous blue lettuces (torn at the shoulder), haven't made an appearance for a while. they're still good! they survived the hard weather fine. they haven't got much bigger, though, which i think is due to overcrowding (and hard weather). see how squished?

so today i did a radical thinning, which i'm also calling a harvesting. hopefully this'll let the strongest plants grow nice and big. if they don't i'll pull them all out and start a new crop with the leftover seed. cos i'm cold and practical like that.

here's is all the lettuces i harvested:

i'm going to make a nice salad to go with my left over risotto. mmm-mmm.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

photo by miriam's housemate

lecture going okay, need to keep plugging on. i keep getting distracted by the _bringing them home_ report and vids of ppl turning their back on nelson.

less research, more writing.

(what if someone sends me an offer today?)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

seeking help with guest lecture

Uh, so I'm giving a lecture on the Sorry Speech on Tuesday. I put this fabulous idea to the prof about a week ago, and he said yesterday that this Tuesday seemed to be the way to go. Short notice, but Very Exciting! I mean, what's the point of TAing for a class on rhetoric if you don't get to explore its practical uses, no?

I mainly want to talk about why the speech was so effective, how Rudd became a rhetorician all of a sudden (what happened to "Just Don't Fuck it Up"?) and why the speech evoked such a response. I plan to play a clip of the speech and also explain the context, you know, what the Stolen Generations are, the debarcle with Howard, etc. I also hope to draw some parallels with Canada (Residential Schools and so forth) , to point out that this is not just an issue of Far Away.

If anybody has any thoughts on the topic please please comment. I"m particularly interested in public response stuff, cos I only know about that second hand, and anybody's ideas on why the speech was so effective (or not effective- does anybody think it wasn't very good?)

Friday, February 22, 2008

brunnie st.

also, check this out. it is brunswick st and it makes me happy.


look what i saw running round a local street late the other night! no, no, look closer. see to the left of the middle? that white stripe? that's the back of the skunk. near the base of the lamppost. yes, that's it! (it's hard to take a photo of something that's running away from you on a dark street. you can click on the photo and make it bigger if you want, but i don't know if it'd help.)

the skunk was very big and broad like a plank, and rocked from side to side when it walked. it looked something like this, except bigger and flatter:

(image stolen from the interwebs)

i have no other news. i'm not feeling crash hot, so plan to spend today vaguing around, maybe going for a swim to stretch out some muscles, and maybe heading to a cafe to do some marking. or i might go back to bed and read _night watch_.

it is sunny here again - FABULOUS - and top of 11.
spring is on the way!
there are tiny little pink and green buds on the trees.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

skiing and tea parties

all right! good connection! now i can explain the mysterious self-portraits.

so, the weekend was my girlfriend's b'day - woot! we dragged out celebrations over three days - my kind of birthday. saturday miriam and i went skiing, up at cypress bowl, which is on the north shore, about an hour's drive from vancouver proper (on the way to whistler). here's a view of the downhill slopes across the way:

it was really foggy when we got up there, but then it magically cleared up and was sunny and beautiful all afternoon. the snow was nice, not too icy, and there were lots of gentle slopes to practise my snow-ploughs on. my skiing ability wasn't too bad, even though i haven't been in years. i only had one fall - a really spectacular face plant. here's me holding ice to my mouth so i didn't get a fat lip:

it was a little more builtup than australian cross-country mountains, but not as much as i had expected. some of the paths had big light poles, and there was a nice red lodge in the middle:

there was a whiskey jack and a stellar jay hopping round the trees near the lodge where we sat and had lunch. you can just see (bum of) the bright blue bird in the top right hand of this shot:

all in all, a very satisfactory day.

then on sunday miriam held a tea party in the park. this was the spread (note welsh tea cakes, goat's cheese brie and chocolate with cornflakes):

and here's my little old lady outfit:

it was very exciting. i love dress ups!

then we went for dinner at the naam with winifred and others, and then we had breakfast at theresas on the drive. ah . . .

and that was my big weekend. now i am answering lots of student emails (pending handing in their revised essays), going to lots of union meetings and FREAKING OUT about phd offers. why has nobody emailed me? why don't they want me at their uni?

alternatively, what if they do give me an offer? where will i go? what should i do?

checking the mailbox is a thing of stress now, so i make sure to do it several times a day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the internet hates me. will go to a cafe with inty and update properly soon.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008


i got gumboots today! they're purple!

they are also padded/lined, and have a little drawstring round the top, so you can be extra-water-tight. they were $10 at value village (like savers, big opshop) and i have already got my money's worth of puddle jumping.

it's raining again. boooooooring.

but i have many exciting plans for the weekend, with many exciting photo opportunities, i'm sure. be excited, people! i have also gone back and responded to everyone's comments - sorry i've been slow on the uptake. do take the time to read back through.

not mcuh else by way of news since i FINISHED MY MARKING. i saw toshi reagan last night at the railway club. that was pretty damn cool. and kate reid was opening for her, and signed her cd for me (kate's cd, that is, not toshi's. that would be weird). eeeee! and she played my favourite song of her's - co-op girlz. i leave you with a taste of the lyrics:

suddenly i was in a dream-like haze and my mouth fell open wide
well forget my empty stomach cuz my heart was pounding for co-op girlz
co-op girlz, co-op girlz, co-op girlz, ah, co-op girlz
some of the cutest women in nelson are co-op girlz

where do i start i said to myself
i mean there were produce girlz and deli girlz and even herbal supplement consultant girlz

so i kept it fairly simple and i picked up something from the deli
and i was feeling a little more hopeful about myself when the deli-goddess smiled at me

so i marched up to the woman at the till and she asked me for my number and even though i thought she was a little forward i said 357-0126
and i was thinking i had myself a date but then she looked at me and said
"honey you must be new in town, cuz i'm talking 'bout your membership number"


i got a little pot of jonquil-like mini daffodils a couple of weeks ago and decided to document their progress day by day. they bloomed and died very quickly, and had a faint but sweet smell. it was very cheering to see signs of spring in the middle of so much winter.

had a long chat with the guy at the nursery. what we call jonquils don't exist in canada, which makes me very sad. i miss their smell so much. but these little daffies were a nice substitute, and i can grow them from the bulbs next year, which will be even more satisfying.

just blooming

full bloom in snow

planning a bike ride

making pizza dough for potluck

after the potluck (more dirty dishes piled up in the loungeroom)

leftover wine from potluck

starting to shrivel, by the marking

after this point they started to look pretty beat up, so i stopped photographing them. wait til next year for the next exciting episode!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


(image from

you leave the country for a measly eighteen months and it turns into a place you're proud to belong to.

i have so much hope for what australia might become.

i wish i was there for these historic events.

Monday, February 11, 2008

from JT

JT says:
Here is the photo of the Inglewood Botanical Gardens! Not a blade of grass in sight!! There was a rotunda though and we did have a lovely picnic there.

(click on the photo to get a closer view)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

for your safety - please hold on

going to uni is becoming an increasingly dangerous proposition. i have taken to bringing my big down coat in case i have to sleep in the office. (not an idle fantasy - 1500 kids slept in the gym last wednesday, cos the buses were cancelled due to blizzard. google it if you're interested.) here's a shot on the bus driving up the mountain. the little sign on the window says "For your safety - please hold on."

this is what it looks like once you get up there:
see those chairs embedded in the ice? that's why i can't seat all my students!

actually, i kicked up a fuss and now have enough chairs for everyone. teaching is going okay. i can remember most of their names now, and we have a bit of a friendly classroom rapport going on. i'd enjoy teaching so much more if it weren't for the marking.

anyway. i'm not up to whining about marking yet. i wanted to show you how cool my office this semster is. i'm sharing with two other girls with quirky senses of humour, and we have decorated in style. thus, virg can cuddle with charles dickens on a dead cat:
oh, 0kay, it's not dead. it's one of those creepy rabbit-fur stuffed-cat things that just *looks* like a dead cat, okay?

this is freud being devoured by a hideous monster:

the penguin of death:

and a sort of nerdy assemblage of kitsch kitten, blake print and the longman anthology of medieval literature:

we also have a picture of jesus, but i suspect it's non-ironic for at least one of my roommates, and therefore suss. as a pro pomo person i instinctively distrust sincerity.

so our office is a fine and pleasant place to be, especially on those snowy mornings i spend there reading alone in my office hours. providing you can get *away* from there again. . .

it's not snowy down where i live anymore, except for the odd patch of ice on people's lawns. but getting away from my house wasn't a problem anyway, because of this bag of no brand ice melter which appeared by the front steps:

living above the 49th parallel is entertaining!

i do leave the house occasionally, and go mark at a coffee shop. otherwise i'm spending my time like this:

marking in a pirate hat is the shit. and i got new riding gloves on special for when the ice melts and i can ride again. the wine bottles are from last week's potluck. it was ace fun.

marking should be over later this week. i picked up a bunch of external marking, which is great for the bank balance, but time (and soul) consuming. i did sneak out and play with the twins (the didn't remember me til i got out some picturebooks - v. cute) and last night i saw the vagina monologues, which was sweet.

anyway, the B-s and Cs are crying to be handed out. best get back to it . . .

Saturday, February 02, 2008


first, check out what i found in the snow the other day:

raccoon prints! aren't they like creepy little hands? oh, i love raccoons. they're so cool and mean looking.

also in the cool and mean looking category, miriam and i went on a special excursion to tsawwassen to find bald eagles. they are *so* cool. we drove around and found about half a dozen sitting on trees on the side of the road, looking too kool for skool. see, mean! cool!

they're enormous. the interweb tells me that "Bald Eagles are about 29 to 42 inches long, can weigh 7 to 15 pounds, and have a wing span of 6 to 8 feet." which, um, means 100 cm long and 6-7 kilos. ginormous, in other words. the females are nearly as big, but just brown, so they blend better. they still have the big yellow beak. we saw one of them fly off above us, and i had a great view of feathered legs and great yellow claws. it was a pretty cool excursion.

today we went on a very different excursion - to the yuppy part of downtown vancouver, where winifred is housesitting for a prof. she's on the 25th floor of a building in yaletown, with a view of sea and mountains (with a bald eagle circling in the distance today). we went for a swim in the private pool which was lovely and relaxing, and deserted except for the three of us. then we went to the most insane supermarket i've been in. it was called yuppymarket. actually, it wasn't, but that's what we'll call it. you could get sixteen millions varieties of, say, fig and hazelnut flavoured crackers, or ten different sorts of fresh mushrooms (i want!), pre-chopped onions in boxes, pear cactus slabs with the spikes removed and sugar free non-caffeinated root beer in cute little glass bottles. everything was incredibly expensive. i got a small tub of really nice lemon yoghurt and a small thing of lime and macadamia nut chocolate (yum!) and it cost $10. winifed spent $75 on dinner. it was fascinating; north america is a place of infinite variety.
begun marking huge piles of essays.
fuzzy feeling is gone.

Friday, February 01, 2008

chalk n talk

we did have class yesterday, which bothered me on the way to uni (the wheels on the bus were spinning in the snow, and i looked over the edge of the mountain and worried) but turned out really well. we're doing some really dense nihilistic linguistic material at themoment, and i've been having trouble:

a) helping the students make any sense of the set readings - i had trouble wading through the nietzsche, and i do this for a living,

b) making the students engage with the ideas on any meaningful level. last week the prof was pontificating just before the end of lecture along the lines of "all language is a lie! truth is a metaphor that's lost its meaning! we can't know reality in any way!"and all the students started packing up their books to leave and chatting over the top of him. in contrast, i floored my class by telling them they had to put a title on their essay. bah.

anyways, so this week i ran a fabulous tutorial which addressed both of those issues. cos i am so fabulous. ahem. first i wrote down on the board all their suggestions for tackling a difficult reading. stuff like use a highlighter, rewrite in your own words, look up difficult words in a dictionary, etc.. then i said, "right, today we're going to use this, this and this, idea to tackle this week's readings." split them into groups and made each of them do a concept map on the board of one section of the reading. i went round answering questions and suggesting ways to visualise their ideas. then we went round the room and each group taught the rest of the class about their section of the reading, using their concept map on the board. questions and discussion throughout, and occasionally butting in by the TA.

i've used this technique before and it works so well. each student has a small, managable section of the article, and between the group's knowledge and my help, they really get to understand it, and in the concept map they get a useful tool for working out their ideas. teaching it means they really have to understand it, and they tend to work hard, cos they have peer pressure (though i am big on the "no wrong answers" and "let's be supportive", so not too pressured), and it means that everyone in the class gets a sense of the whole article, cos they use language that their peers can understand. also the teacher hardly has to do anything. if you're having a down day you can sit in the corner and read most of the time. that doesn't work as well, obviously, as giving the groups ongoing feedback, but it works.

in this case i had a couple of students say "oh, i *get* it now, this totally makes sense!" and there was actually a look of shock on their faces as they realised what the article was saying. also, when i suggested they try the exercise at home for the next difficult reading they had, one of them responded with "but that wouldn't be as much fun!" oh, i'm such a sucker for good student feedback. it makes me all warm inside. *sniffles*

i think i stole this idea from someone else - do take it for yourself, and let me know if you come with good variations.