Hoping for a sunflower scoop!

Day 25 SOL19

Our students have been planting sunflower seeds in our small school garden.

We are of course, surrounded by farmers planting rice paddy, corn (maize) and all sorts of vegetables all year round. Most of our students’ families grow at least some of their own food, but it’s somehow different to be able to engage the whole school, a class at a time, in something as rewarding and fulfilling as planting seeds and watching what happens next.


Seeds are planted!

They’ve sprouted!


Now to water and weed!IMG_0722



Unfortunately they won’t get much bigger than this before my month of slicing is over, but I am hoping they continue to grow well, despite the unseasonally dry weather we are experiencing at the moment. I’m also thinking about all the writing possibilities for each class, to ‘relive the moment’, through narrative description, or an informative recount or even to find some way of turning these sunflowers into a story with a plot!

I never cease to marvel at how one can bury a tiny nondescript seed in the ground and out springs life, with all its delicate stems and leaves reaching for the sky and drinking in the rain and sun, just exactly what the textbooks tell us will happen!

The anticipation, the sense of the unknown, will it, won’t it, sprout, then a few characters (seedlings) emerge in a show off, blustery way, while some are shy and barely visible and others just shrug and plod along a leaf at a time. Then the plot unfolds to the climax when they finally bloom!



Best Job Ever!

Day 24 SOL19

I remember the moment, I remember the day when everything changed and we became entirely responsible for another person.

I remember waiting and thinking is this it? Or should we wait a little longer?

I remember thinking, how much worse can these pains get and NO, I am not going to use gas or an injection to help me out, but yes, you can break my waters as this is taking a loooong time!

I remember the doctor coming into the ward later (as a public patient, she wasn’t there for the actual birth and he was delivered by a midwife) and saying, “My goodness, 4 kilos (8 lbs 13oz) and you pushed him out all by yourself!” Yep, I sure did!

I remember our first special connection when he looked into my eyes sometime during that first night and I knew that he knew me.

I remember the sleepless nights and frazzled, exhausted, love-filled, challenging days as we learned how to look after such a helpless little being.

I remember him learning to walk just before his first birthday and the first time he went down a slope too fast and I was too far away to catch him as he inevitably stumbled and fell.

I remember when he first slept through the night, when I stopped breastfeeding him and the day he banged on the toilet door to let me know he wanted to use the toilet. Yes, I do have one child who toilet trained HIMSELF before the age of two!

I remember when we told him about me having another baby and he used to have little pretend babies that he held in his hands and carried around, then ‘put’ them into a cupboard and shut the door firmly, when he got bored of them. (Imagine if that really was a possibility?!)

I remember a little brother yelling with frustration when big brother ran off to play. I remember the fun they had together when little brother FINALLY decided it was time to catch up with his brother and start to walk. They nearly always played outside. Way before the invention of PCs, ipads, video games, mobile phones and other stultifying media devices!

I remember his first day at school just after his sister had been born, when his teacher had to prise him out of my hands and coax him into the classroom. I remember him learning to catch a public bus to and from school and coming home and telling me so many stories. He was always interested in all his fellow students and teachers.

I remember his routine of coming home after school, after our twin daughters were born and taking it in turns to hold one on his hip while keeping an eye on his other sisters and brother, so I could cook dinner.

I remember a loving, thoughtful, cheerful and very smart boy who has grown into a delightful, warm and compassionate man with a wonderful wife and three sons of his own. Knowing him makes life feel so good!

Our son turns forty today, so I’ve been a mum for forty years! I can truthfully say it’s the best job I’ve EVER had!





Unexpected Encounter

The thump almost took my breath away.

I glanced around with a chill.

Something had hit the glass of our big sliding window upstairs, close to where I was sitting.

A tiny fluff of feathery down was now stuck on the glass.

I raced down and outside, where was it?

Then I spotted a little heap of feathers and gently lifted it up. It was so small and fragilely light. My teacher mind told me that birds have hollow bones to help them fly better, so of course it was going to feel almost like holding air. But I was amazed how almost not there the slight bundle was. I cupped it in my hands and noticed its eyes were open. So was its beak and then it crooked tiny claws around my finger and just stayed perched on my hand.

Concussed? I supposed so. But definitely alive.

Amazing, I had never been this close to a really wild bird before and I took time to note its delicate black and white colouring with a tinge of yellow here and there, its curving beak and longish tail. Not just the usual neighbourhood sparrow or mynah bird, but one of the rarer species. It sat for some time just looking and presumably quite dazed. Unfortunately, I had things to do, so I gently placed it out of reach of any dog or cat and went back to my task.

When I returned minutes later, I breathed a sigh of relief that it had recovered enough to  have flown off.


So fortunate…!

Day 22 SOL19

From the first tentative drawing and alphabet strokes, gripping the pencil as if one’s life depended on holding it tightly, tongue poked out, brow furrowed with effort, learning to finger space and write on the line ….


To  writing effortlessly in cursive,  using correct punctuation, composing short creative stories, understanding grammar points, able to read and write about topics like the environment and who Helen Keller and Julius Caesar were, editing and correcting one’s own mistakes, answering questions in written tests.

From sounding out the letters of the alphabet day after day, learning to read three letter words phonetically, confusing b with d, checking the picture above the word for understanding, trying to read phonemes and digraphs, learning the names of colours and the days of the week, following words with a finger….


To reading chapter books fluently without the help of pictures, scanning and picking out facts from non-fiction material, doing a word or fact search on Google, discussing the characters and plot of a reader with a partner or your teacher.

From speaking in short phrases, “Me done”, “Me want”, only able to answer with a single word, “Yes” or “No”, learning a new word and forgetting it the next day, speaking in a mumble in front of the class, head bowed, having vocabulary repeated on a daily basis and taking days to learn it properly…

To answering questions with understanding, giving opinions clearly and boldly, explaining situations and incidents in complete sentences and performing skits and songs confidently in front of an audience.

From counting on one’s fingers and taking weeks to learn the numbers up to twenty, using manipulative tools to add and subtract, trying to match numbers with patterns and recognise different shapes.

To knowing math tables by heart, how to do long division and mental math, how to problem solve, understand fractions and decimals, basic geometry, LCM and HCF, simple algebra and how to read charts and data.


From fidgeting and restless to engaged, confident and wanting to concentrate.


These are the delights of watching each child’s progress through his or her primary years. Surely nothing can be more satisfying!


Moon Musings

Day 21 SOL19

You merely bask in the sun’s reflected glory

Yet tonight you rose

Copper tinged, burnished

And just so bright,

Above the rim of the hill outside my window.

You took my breath away.

You are peerless right now

Shining like a pearl in the sky’s ebony setting.

Flickering town lights dimmed by your radiance,

Shimmering sphere brilliant in the distance.




Impossible to capture well in a photo, but will give you some idea!


Sometimes timing or circumstances are quite remarkable.

I would not have looked out of my window and written this (attempt at a) poem, if the power hadn’t been off for eight hours today. I would most likely have posted my slice in daylight. Even though I saw the moon rise in a spectacular way through a clear sky last night and had heard it was a super moon and this was the March equinox, it just wasn’t uppermost in my thoughts earlier today…

So for once I’ll say thanks to the vagaries of the local power grid for helping me to focus on the moon this evening!


Are you making your garden grow?

Day 20 SOL19

My daughter sent me a little video yesterday (my three daughters and I share a  WhatsApp group chat under the name of Hot Babes). As we are spread right around the globe on three different continents in four different countries, this is our main means of communicating at the moment!

Her video showed us a card made by one of her students (from Class 3) and given her that morning. It was such a delightful card that I told her I would ‘steal’ it to share here. Lydia is teaching at an international school in Shanghai and this student is from Hong Kong, probably about eight years old.

There’s a bit of overkill with stickers on the front and back…


But wait till you read the message….


What a lovely picture…Miss Fisher and her Chinese co-teacher, Miss Xu, are watering their student flowers with their teaching and helping them to learn and grow!


The promise of what’s to come…

Day 19 SOL19

Last night we had our first thunderstorm to forewarn of the approaching wet season. In other parts of India the monsoon won’t start till early June, but up here the weather is much wetter and more unpredictable.

Thunderstorms in March making roads wet and slippery.


Hailstorms and wind in April.


Heavy rain showers with unexpected rainbows in May.


Torrential rain in June, July, August.


Unpredictable rain and tempestuous skies in September, October.


Almost dry come November.

I have a love/hate relationship with the intensity of the soaking and the smothering dampness of these upcoming wet months. Clothes and art supplies go mouldy, paper feels damp and limp, whiteboards are permanently moist and there is always water leaking into a part of a building somewhere.

We need it of course, but the superabundance can be overwhelming. We measure our rainfall here in metres, not feet or inches.

On the other hand, I can’t wait for green shoots to fuzz across the hills and the new leaves to start popping out their shiny green everywhere. Our dahlias grow six feet tall before they even start to flower. Marigold bushes turn into small trees. Some roads become part time rivers. Then they subside leaving dank fetid stagnant pools that are constantly topped up by fresh downpours.

The highs and lows of living in a wet climate!