Toilet paper from the bottom

Although I prefer the roll to unroll from the top, when Sharon mentioned “from the bottom” and “cats” in her post, I remembered our clever little kitty.

She came to us from the SPCA via my daughter, and had the LOUDEST PURR you can imagine (I wanted her to be named Harley).  Both daughter and I had places to go each day, so Hayley had to learn to use a litter tray. As we were flatting, the litter tray was kept in the bathroom cum shower cum laundry.

Hayley sometimes opened the door and would watch me on the loo, even putting her paws on the seat and peering down into the bowl! (I can laugh now…)

Daughter occasionally forgot about clearing the tray each day. I came home to the flat one day to use the ‘facilities’ and nearly gagged on the tray’s odour.

Then discovered that, beside the loo, there was a pile of toilet paper (as Sharon mentions).

On picking it up to drop into the waste bin, I realised Hayley had in fact pulled down a pile, dropped her own pile, then pulled down another pile to cover her doings. Clever wee kitty! Needless to say, it was all flushed away.

I’ve sometimes wondered why we didn’t smooch her into doing it all the time…who knows, she may have learned to actually perch on the seat for her daily doings. What a time saver that would have been, and So much more healthy.

A memory recalled by Sharon Hughson’s blog post Epiphany on the TP Roll
Click over and have a read.



August’s 250-word opinion piece

Should We Borrow or Hire a Novel?

[Redacted]Public Library should cease charging for “borrowing” Adult Popular Fiction (including paperbacks), of $2.00 for up to three weeks. Currently, each book—if constantly on loan for its maximum time allowed—will bring in $104 in its “shelf life” of three years. Multiply that by the number of books in this section!

This is tantamount to changing the function of public libraries from service to income generator. Adults should not have to pay for hiring a fictional novel.

From the RDC Annual Reports for the financial year 2014-5, the District Library failed to reach its performance target measures in all three parts.

  1. The percentage of the population being members of the library for 2014-5 was 59% (target was 60%) a drop of 0.6% against the 2013-4 year
  2. The percentage of households using the library during 2014-5 was 68% (target was 75%), equal to 2013-4; but below 2011-2 and 2012-3
  3. The percentage of residents ‘Very Satisfied’ or ‘Fairly Satisfied’ with the library was 84% (target was 84%)
  4. Another 16% answered ‘Don’t Know’ (does that mean ‘Don’t use it’?). 2014-5 was the same as 2013-4.

I asked our Library five questions to gather statistics, but received no response. Reluctance? Something to hide?
I now use our library when I want nonfiction, as I refuse to pay a fee for what should be a public service. Perhaps a city-wide boycott of Adult Fiction would force a rethink—maybe a change.

The Brief:

Write 200-250 words expressing your opinion about a topic of your choice.                             Have you persuaded your reader to your point of view or call for action?

Appendix: Not as part of the homework writing…
Before writing this, I had been advised that Adult Fiction was $3 for 3 weeks, with “Hot Picks” rented out at $5. This appalled me (hence I cancelled my membership).

Since removing into temporary premises, (and after writing the above) I’ve been advised Adult Fiction is now free to borrow, with “Hot Picks and DVDs hired out at $3, and Magazines hired out at a fee ranging from) 0.50c to $3 (depending on how long ago the magazine was added to the shelf).

See  actual statistics drawn from the [Redacted] District Council Annual Report 2014-2015
page 37

Level of service
Performance measure
Target for 2014/15
Achievement for 2013/14
Library readily accessible to residents and visitors for the purpose of information gathering, education and recreation.
60% of the population are members of the library
Target substantially achieved. …
75% of households which have used the library in the last 12 months.*
Same result as the previous financial year, but still at levels below the 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years. …
85% of residents are very/fairly satisfied with the level of service.
Target substantially achieved with 16% responding with “Don’t Know”.
Of those responding to the survey who had used the library in the last 12 months,97% were satisfied with the service.


Off the Page July’s homework

“I need to go now.” She reached across the sofa for her handbag, fumbling to grab its straps.

“Now? You’ve twenty minutes before the bus comes.” The tea towel in his hands twisted in a knot, his hands winding and unwinding it. “Can you wait?”

Looking through the pouches of the bag, checking without seeing its contents, her side vision caught them both reflected in the mirror. She couldn’t look—at it, or at him. “It’s a nice morning. I’ll walk to the next stop.”

“About last night. I want…“ He turned away, threw the tea towel into the kitchen. Head down, he rummaged in the baggy pockets of his old cargo pants—a cigarette packet. He drew out a half-smoked fag and the lighter.

“Don’t light up inside.” He wouldn’t, but it was something to say. She groped through her bag, as she groped through her mind for the words needed. Nothing came.

From opposite sides of the room—the space between empty with its minimalistic décor, as empty as each felt—they faced each other, not looking.

“Let’s just pretend last night didn’t happen. It won’t happen again.”

She walked out, touching the new bruise on her eye.

The Brief:

Show a relationship between two characters using Subtext – what’s not said or told, what’s not in the lines, but between the lines.

B is for Book, Bored and Below Compulsory School Age

Wonderful outlook on progress of early reading.


IMG_1859I’m not an early years teaching expert, but I have witnessed firsthand how ingrained a hatred of reading can develop in some children, and was acutely reminded of this when I watched the BBC 4 documentary ‘B is for Book‘.

As a former secondary school teacher who has tutored numerous children in English (boys in particular) for more than 15 years, I could plainly see how easily a love of books can be jeopardised very early on in a child’s life.

Shockingly, the BBC film showed children who were not yet naturally interested in reading and writing independently (much less the daily monotony of phonics and lacklustre books) being deprived of precious playtime as punishment for academic failure at just 4 and 5 years-old.

Why are we doing this to children???” I wanted to know.

View original post 1,065 more words

Calling NZ Primary Teachers

How deep in your memory can you dredge? Back to when you, yourself, were a pupil in a New Zealand classroom?

As far back as your junior years? Your middle school years? Your intermediate years? Your secondary school years?

Great – here’s what that means to me…

  • You are your own expert on your classroom experiences as a pupil/student!
  • You the best person to contribuute a piece of your memory to my nonfiction book in progress.
  • You will be given credit (and shared copyright) for your contribution.

Please write your memory in the first person, preferably in the “voice” of yourself at that age:

  • give me your name, the class you were in (Year 3, e.g.) your age at the time, and the year
  • change your name within the story
  • mention the school’s name, by all means.
  • change classmate’s names to something not recognisable to that person
  • show what happened to you, to the teacher, to the classmate
  • share the interactions between the people in your memory
  • include conversation where possible
  • write between five-hundred and eight-hundred words
  • (optional) write as if at that age–including spelling you know now was wrong, punctuation as you used it at the time

Send me the piece, attached to an email at this address:

  • McAennyl [at] outlook [dot] com
  • Set a Read Receipt so you are notified when I’ve read it; I will respond

In the email, tell me what you want done with your contribution if it is not included in the manuscript:

  • May I post it as a Guest Post on this blog?
  • Would you prefer it returned to you, unpublished?

Think about it…anything you blush now remembering, any ocassion in which you were the bully/perpetrator, any incident in which the class got out of hand (and what part did you take – heheh), the most engaging/exciting/fun lesson you took part in. the one thing you’ve always remembered about the classroom, the teacher, the building/s…whatever.

More than one contribution is welcome, especiallly if each covers a different class level or school.

2015-05-16 10.59.33

(Look at the lass with the class sign. She’s “zero”. Now count to your right 1 – 2 – 3. That’s me, back in the day, at Harley Street School, Masterton, Wairarapa; teacher was Mrs McBean)

Thanks for your interest, colleagues…






Here is Me, in eN Zee, from A to Zee

Action movies – especially those featuring Vin Diesel and/or Jason Statham,

Bodhrán (pronounced as bow[i]-rahn) – the goatskin drum – learning how to play it;

Camping – wish I could do it as I did as a child – ground cover, blanket, fly sheet, Thermette, and tough it out

Dogs – I love them. Share-milker Dad had one – Pat; I had a black Labrador, Morfyn[ii]; a golden-haired Spaniel, Mischief; and a Basenji[iii], Hundido[iv] Mambaso[v], “Toffee”; the minded another, Pharaoh. I’d have another Basenji at a shot!

Elegant dress – I don’t, though I’d like to; but it’s not always practical, and I don’t go to many places where it’d be worth getting dolled up

Family – one hubby, and three off-spring (plus one unofficial)

Gardening – if it don’t thrive, pull it out

Heights – used to be able to get up on a roof, no worries; now, no more than two steps up a ladder and I’m anxious

Irish – ancestry, St Paddy’s day, genealogy, The Pogues, Chris Rea, U2, The Dubliners et al

Junk shops – “you never know what you’re gonna get”

Kids – love teaching them old-school skills and how to learn, and study

Library – mine – cartons and cartons of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, reference book, et al

Mum and Dad (R.I.P) – they made me who I am today – grateful

Numeracy – a word I hate; it’s a more politically correct version of Arithmetic, so why not call it that? Arithmetic is Not mathematics – it’s a branch or base-line For mathematics

Orchids – love them, and love hubby for creating an all-weather shelter for the collection.

Prawn Pizzas – Love them

Quiz shows on tele – The Chase, Who Wants to be a Millionaire – great fun trying to beat the contestants

Rock – when I want to write lots of words, good rock gets me pumping – AC/DC, Rolling Stones, Metallica, The Pogues, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Queen…

Steeples – always want to climb to the top – with a camera (refer H)

Tin whistle – played recorder in primary school, and learning to play this now.

Umbrellas – I love watching people in Wellington struggle with umbrellas which have blown inside out in a gale

Violin – started to learn but quit (couldn’t read music); wish I’d persevered

Work history – fifty-five full and part-time jobs, paid and gratis

X-Rays – for foot (fracture of the styloid process of the left fifth metatarsal), spine (metastatic melanoma in the T6 vertebra, hip – (total hip replacement, botched and redone)

Youth – I feel I’m only twenty-nine on a good day

Zatch – greatest dictionary find when I was eleven – no, I’m not defining it here; and I shouldn’t have in the classroom either – apparently

Post concept borrowed, with permission, from KiwiChickxx

[i]  As in a ship’s bow
[ii]  Means ‘black hair’, via Tolkien’s elvish dictionary
[iii]  Bred from hunting dogs from Zaire
[iv]  His Kennel name – Esperanto, means little dog, I believe
[v]  Swahili for fighting axe

Recurring Theme

I have a recurring theme to my nightmares – fighting for someone, and it turning into fighting either someone I love or fighting for myself.

Most seem to start out in a surreal world related to schools. Invariably in the dream-to-be-nightmare, I arrive at a school to teach a particular class. The class is a group of miscreants who’ve been banished from regular classrooms to one isolated from the rest of the school. Sometimes they classroom is off away among a mini forest, or is in a broken, neglected building on the verge of collapse.

The dream students are all adolescents, and often absentees. They have their own “dress code” whereas the school’s other students dutifully wear the prescribed uniform. They keep to their own schedule, coming in and out to fit their other life on the street or just wasting it out at home. Some have a criminal record for minor misdemeanours, Some are hard core fighters against the world if only emotionally.

I find resources for them. I find second hand furniture, and show them how to upgrade it. I buy paint for the walls, scrounge carpet for the floor… I try to make it become “their” classroom. We get along well, as I apply a relaxed “teach what they need when they need it” approach. They come to respect me, and that’s all I need from them.

In the meantime I’m arguing the case for them to be in a safer building, as there is an ever increasing threat of the building collapsing or falling into a sink hole beneath it. Other staff become aggravated that I’m not following the regular curriculum, I’m being given too much leeway, too many resources, too much unaccountable funding…

And as the dream becomes a nightmare, I have to physically take action. I wrestle a falling student up from the gulf which has opened beneath her. I shove furniture off from on top of students as the building is shaken by an earthquake. I separate two fighting students. I defend a student from a walk-in attacker.

And that’s when I waken – as my sleeping body physically moves with the nightmare activity. More than once I’ve hit my sleeping husband (poor guy). On more than one occasion I’ve fallen back to sleep to dream it all over again.

I hate that nightmare. I’ve wondered if it reflects anything real from my teaching career. And, yes, I’ve had to verbally argue for better conditions, more resources. I’ve had to separate fighting students. I’ve had to face down other staff disgruntled by my department getting funs=ding for classroom improvements. But these things never upset me at the time or place.

I stopped compulsory education level teaching in 2001. Why does this come back to haunt me? Who can say – perhaps I didn’t fight the good fight enough for some students – I don’t know. But I so wish this nightmare would let me get over it!

Posted in response to this Daily Prompt: