Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

WEP October Challenge - Dark Places

The WEP (Write, Edit, Publish) Challenge so generously hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee is back.  Olga Godim and Nilanjana Bose have joined the team, providing welcome support to the doughty duo and a wealth of ideas.

In October, the WEP dedicates the month to the fantasy, fun, and horror of Halloween.  This month the prompt is Dark Places - which gives us a LOT of scope.  We are asked to create something from the prompt - and can do so through fiction, non-fiction, photography...   Which leaves it wide open.

If you visit here and click on any names with a DL next to them you will be taken to some wonderful pieces.   Life and inadequacy have stopped me participating in the last few challenges but I have read all of the submissions with awe and wonder.  I will marvel at the other participant's skill, imagination and ingenuity this time too.  NB:  Our entries are to be posted on the 18th of October - which has arrived here.  However half of the world hasn't got there quite yet.  So please, don't discount those who don't have a DL following their name yet.  It will come, and a revisit is definitely worthwhile.

We don't really celebrate Halloween here in Australia (despite the best efforts of commercial entities to get us on board) so I am, as usual, out of my depth. 

Which hasn't stopped me.  There are definitely some quiet and sneaky dark corners in my mind.

Without further ado...

Prestwich is a small town.  A quiet town.  Some would dismiss it as an old-fashioned town.  Hard work, responsibility and respect for family and authority are its foundations and bed-rock.  I love my adopted home and will work hard to ensure it retains its values and traditions.

Halloween adds a frisson of excitement for us all.  A time when over-excited children (too often clad in inadequate and inappropriate costumes) romp in the chilly autumnal dusk.  As principal of the local school, I echo the local police and make it very clear that their parents or an older sibling should always be with them.  In the three years I have lived in Prestwich each year at Halloween at least one (two last year) of my more wayward students has gone missing, never to be seen again.

I have a lot to do before the first children arrive.  Preparedness and discipline define me.   My usual skirt and tailored jacket is replaced with sensible black woollen trousers and a matching warm sweatshirt.

I am good with my hands and make quick and expert work of the mandatory carved pumpkin head.  Screaming this year, with candles behind the eyes.  The children will expect and some will noisily demand 'treats'.  Healthy minds are only found in healthy bodies so I cannot in good conscience give them foods which are bad for them.  Turning the 'apple for the teacher' adage on its head I set out bowls of carefully polished apples, sugarless popcorn, a water jug and paper cups.  There is, of course, a receptacle for the waste.

No doubt some of them will not be happy, but they know better than to complain in my hearing.  They also know better than to play any tricks on me.

My house is my sanctuary, my fortress if you will, and I keep it private.  They will almost certainly not be invited inside.  Nevertheless, it is immaculately clean and tidy.  The pumpkin pulp is quickly whisked away and the knife washed, sharpened and replaced with the others gleaming in the knife block.  A place for everything and everything in its place. 

It was a very busy night and I saw an almost constant stream of laughing, chattering little devils, ghosts, vampires, clowns, zombies and witches.   All of them were polite, thanked me for the apples (though several chose not to take one) and arrived with either their parents or an older brother or sister.  I had seen all of my final year students but one, the rebellious and self-willed Ebony Paige.  I was surprised not to have seen her until her parents and sister told me that she had a sudden 'tummy upset' and was home in bed.   I expressed my sympathies and hoped that she would be well enough to attend school tomorrow. 

At eleven I hadn't seen or heard anyone for half an hour.    I was considering calling it a night when an flimsily dressed vampire swooped up the path.  Alone.  She had the vampire arrogance down to a tee.   'About what I would expect.  The mean bitch has no idea of fun.  Well if she doesn't give us treats she gets tricks'   With that, she started hurling eggs at my front door.

'Ebony Paige.  You have recovered from your upset tummy I see.'

'Principal Skinner...'

'Should you be out so soon after your illness?'

'Get real.  Did you really think I was going to let your stupid restrictions allow you and my parents to cramp my style?  Really?  Not a happening thing '.

'I see.  Rules and basic honesty don't apply to you.  Come with me.  In my kitchen you will find a bucket, detergent, hot water and a scrubbing brush.  The sooner you start, the sooner you finish.  And you will keep cleaning until I am satisfied'.

It took her three grudging (and initially half-hearted) attempts but the last of the egg was finally removed from my door.

'I have finished now Principal Skinner.  Can I go now?'

'No.  We are not finished yet.  The bucket and brush you used also need cleaning' . 

I close the heavy front door.  Quietly.  Firmly.

Ebony has lied to her parents and been rude and disrespectful to me.   She has to learn her lesson.  She will learn her lesson.

She does learn her lesson. 

As an educator I can think of nothing I find more gratifying than knowing that the eureka moment has been reached, and that the student will never need that lesson repeated again..

My day's work is not yet done though.  I too have some garbage disposal and cleaning to do.

Her parents will probably think they miss her.  By sparing the rod they have spoiled this child.  Perhaps they will be stricter with her little sister.  If not, it will be my duty to step in again.  As I did last year, and the year before.

815 words.
Full Critique acceptable.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday Selections #349

Sunday Selections was originally brought to us by Kim, of Frogpondsrock, as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files.
The meme is now continued by River at Drifting through life.  The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent.  Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.  Clicking on any of the photos will make them embiggen.

Like River I usually run with a theme
This weeks images are from home.

Most of you know I love the cat, the visiting birds and the garden.  Sadly my loves don't always play nicely together.

I was watching the spring bulbs emerge from the ground.  One area was filled with daffodils (doubles), tulips and iris.  And each morning when I went outside I was greeted with uprooted plants, shredded leaves and beheaded flowers.  And I am talking dozens and dozens of plants.  Hiss and spit.  So I watched.  And found the culprit.  Sulphur-crested cockatoos (and the air around me was sulphurous too).

Not one tulip in that area bloomed.  And the few daffodils which were allowed to bloom were beheaded and shredded. As were the grape hyacinths and the tritellia and, and, and... It wasn't about food, it was all about destruction. 

Trees weren't safe either.

So I resorted to violence.  A pump-action water pistol.  Which now lives permanently on the front veranda.  And remains loaded.

The mad woman with a camera became a mad woman with a gun and took to going out at first light and gunning errant birds.  With relish.  It seems to be working. 

Luckily they (mostly) limited their depreciations to one area.  Other parts of the garden have been allowed to bloom.

 And yes, the vandals are still welcome. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Floriade 2017

Floriade is my city's celebration of Spring.  It runs for thirty days, starting in mid September, and is an explosion of colour and scent.  It is now in its thirtieth year.

It is held in the centre of the city, in Commonwealth Park by the lake.  A few years ago we were told that changes were required and that it might be held in three or four venues.  The first year after that announcement Floriade returned to the usual location, but the display was considerably curtailed.  Not nearly as many flower beds, not nearly as many flowers and much less fun and whimsy too.  We were disappointed.    This year it is still in Commonwealth Park and we were not expecting great things.  We were wrong.  There was a concurrent sculpture exhibition which was a lot of fun, and by our second visit the garden beds were ablaze.

The festival is free to enter, though there are lots and lots and lots of ways to spend money while you are there.  Restaurants, cafes, stalls selling jewellery, chutneys, nuts, kites, fudge, soap, pearls, silk...  There are even some which sell things for the garden.  There is music, and other entertainment.  There are displays by florists and cooks.  Perhaps not something for everyone, but certainly something for a lot of people.

Over the last few posts I have showed you a lot of the sculptures and this post I am going to (largely) devote to the explosion of scent and colour which greeted us on our second trip.
Settle down with your beverage of choice (and perhaps sunglasses).  Many, many photos follow.

These naturalised bluebells were just outside the Floriade gates.

Loved the blooming hearts.

The green in the flowerbed above was parsley - doing much better than it does at our house.

If you embiggen you may be able to see bats (flying foxes) in the photo above.  They showed no signs of being disturbed by the festivities below.


I have a soft spot for the Dusky Moorhens.  Another permanent resident who coped very well with the crowds.

The final photos were from the walk back to the car.  Commonwealth Park is a lovely haven so close to the city centre.

We didn't spend a lot at Floriade.  A ride on the Ferris wheel - and some fridge magnets.  I am happy to send the fridge magnets world wide (while they last) to anyone who would like one.  Please let me know in the comments, and give me your postal address (either in the comments or via email).

For the moment at least Floriade will continue to be an annual pilgrimmage.  Shortly I will post about our trip to Tulip Top Gardens - which I think is even better.