Tag Archives: English

The Brexit… Britain’s Latest Biscuit!

New from UK Biscuit manufacturer McDunk’s comes :”The Brexit”. The Brexit is a plain biscuit designed for biscuit lovers with a less sophisticated palate, who are sick of  Nice and having their biscuits sugar-coated.

Designed to be dunked in either tea or coffee, the Brexit can also be pulverized to make that most English of desserts, Apple Crumble and is versatile enough to use for crumbing meat and makes a flavoursome stuffing for roast chicken.

DSC_1406

The Brexit is perfect for dunking in tea.

Since leaving the EU, the British Government has banned all foreign biscuit imports and Britons have been asked to do their bit to salvage the national economy by buying Brexits. Indeed, they’ve been implored to eat Brexits for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Prime Minister has engaged Master Chef Heston Blumenthal from the famed Fat Duck Restaurant to produce a cookbook to teach the British public creative ways of cooking with Brexits.

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So popular….the Brexit is gone in a flash!

In recent polls, the majority of Britons voted for the Brexit as Britain’s favourite biscuit, although the Scottish voted overwhelmingly against. They like their oats.

So Britain, enjoy your Brexit but be careful while your dunking it, to ensure that it doesn’t fall in! You wouldn’t want it to drown, would you?!!

Do you have any views on Britain’s exit from the EU? I haven’t been following the debate but I’m certainly interested in the aftermath and am looking to buy a few things from the UK while the exchange rate is good. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and get a bit of discussion going. 

xx Rowena

 

Haiku & Mash.

Enter at your own risk!

Somehow, our place has been transformed into some kind of poetry laboratory. While I’ve always been the undisputed Poet-In-Residence, all of a sudden, a young poet is emerging, finding and expressing his own voice.

You see, now that our son has started high school, he is having to write poetry for his English assignments. Being Mum of Little Faith, I wondered how on earth he was going to do it but like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the lad has delivered.

Here’s last week’s poem: Through My Window.

This week’s assignment involves writing a Haiku. It’s a form I haven’t really explored at length but that’s more due to unfamiliarity than disinterest. Basically, a Haiku comprises of three lines with 5 syllables and the first and third lines and 7 syllables in the second.

However, just because I haven’t explored Haiku myself, that doesn’t mean that I’m not armed and dangerous. I have some works by Beverley George, a local Australian writer of Japanese poetic forms, whose works have even been translated into Japanese. That speaks volumes to me!  By the way, I met Beverley at a local author-illustrator event and she was lovely and so enthusiastic.

This is how we ended up having Haiku & Mash for dinner. Chicken schnitzel, mash and a smattering of frozen peas with a side serve of Beverly George along with a ubiquitous notebook and pen. For me, a notebook is still paper..of course!

However, as our modern Australian family was playing around with words putting together our Haiku, little did we know, that we were tapping into the great Japanese tradition of renga, albeit, dare I say, in a somewhat mutated form.

As early as the 12th Century,  a group of poets in Japan — sometimes more than a dozen — would gather under the supervision of a renga master, or sōshō. Each poet contributed a stanza in turn, with the sōshō guiding composition by mandating the use of particular words or the exploration of certain topics. In one renga session, the poets might produce as many as 100 linked stanzas, which mutate over time to take the renga through different movements. The first verse of the renga, called a hokku, is identical to a modern haiku (1).

Being the great Haiku Master myself (choke), I set the pace with this:

Eternal Summer

Sunbaking on the beach

Snow is falling.

Well, the rest of the family scoffed at that. Apparently, the connection between an eternal Summer and snow on the beach was too obscure, even random. I tried explaining that when you’re caught up in Summer, it feels like it’s going to last forever but all too soon it’s Winter. With this, I was also thinking about how people are seemingly complaining about the heat or the cold when the seasons are so transient. It’s not forever.

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“The Sunbaker” – Max DUPAIN 1911-1992, Australia.

Moreover, I was also thinking about while it’s Summer here, it’s Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. So, while I’m melting in the heat, they’re freezing in the snow. I find these polar opposite during Summer/Winter quite intriguing…that tension between yin and yang!

Anyway, in response to my “random” Haiku, my husband penned a haiku of his own which had the rest of the family in hysterics. While it’s not strictly a Haiku, it certainly generated some laughs:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Look! There’s a kookaburra!

Yet, as much as I protest, I know I can get a bit sidetracked. Dare I say…distracted! (Hello blog. Goodbye cleaning!)

So, to please my critics, my Haiku has now become:

Eternal Summer

sunbaking on the beach

rain is falling.

I have read and re-read this. I have a lousy sense of rhythm and couldn’t really be sure of the number of syllables. I had the rest of the family clapping things out while I tried to hide my confusion. I am more of a play by ear musician, than a counter. You could even say that I’m a bit of a Frank Sinatra type: I Did It My Way.  I know.  You don’t need to tell me such individuality isn’t always appreciated.

Inspired by a Haiku by Beverley George, I also came up with this one:

Crossing Hawkesbury River Bridge

Nose glued to the screen

The golden river sun shines.

Another train trip done.

By the way, if you’re interested in Haiku, perhaps you should try Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge. I also strongly recommend this interview with  Beverley George.

Stay turned for Mr J’s Haiku.

Have you explored Haiku at all? Any thoughts? I sense we’re only at the beginning of this journey!

xx Rowena

Source

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/brainiac/2011/06/the_history_of_8.html

 

 

 

Mr’s Poem: Through My Window

Looking out my window,
I hear a sound.
Scutter scutter.
Scutter scutter.
Out in the garden,
there’s a little white rabbit.
Mum!
Dad!
But when we get back,
it’s gone…
just like a puff of smoke.

No one believes me.
They just say
that I’m dreaming.
Imagination overload
all over again.
But I know what I saw.

Now,
that I’m back here alone,
the rabbit returns.
It’s glowing gold,
red eyes flashing
in the darkness.
What is it?
Why has it come?

rabbit

Then, I blink again.
The rabbit burns up into flames
with an even brighter glow
and is gone.

In the morning,
I found no rabbit prints

in the grass.

No sign of the rabbit at all.
Yet,

I know what I saw…

a mysterious rabbit

hopping outside

my bedroom window.

By Mister J

23rd February 2016.

P.S. Sorry about the spacing in between lines. Between Word and WordPress something has gone awry.

If you have been following our Through My Window Poetry Series, this is my son’s interpretation of the theme. He had to write this poem for school. I came up with two versions of my own, which I was quite pleased about. Initially this was just to provide him with an example, but I became inspired by this theme and the range of perspectives it offered.

When I first found out that he had to write a poem, I was quite concerned. It sounded like a pretty ambitious undertaking to me. We never had to write a poem at school and even I was a long way from being a born poet. I remember my own embryonic efforts back at high school (all about unrequited love of course) which I poured out to my friend on the bus. These poems could have induced paroxysms of severe vomiting. I still have them but they are kept very much under lock and key.

However, Year 7s have to be pretty grown up these days. No sooner had they walked through the gate and they were given their jabs, had school photos and also had to write a real poem. None of this “the cat sat on the mat” or “roses are red” stuff but something original and Mister more than succeeded. I gave him a bit of a hand with punctuation and layout and we talked through his ideas so he could really clarify what he wanted to say. This included some heated moments but he did really well and I didn’t write it for him. He had a vision and he pulled it off. That’s something for anyone to celebrate…young or old.

Once again, I’m left to say that school is stretching my children in areas I never thought possible and I’m just left dumbstruck on the sidelines wondering what they’re going to get up to next.

I am Mum in a magical yellow taxi waking up every day wondering where we’ll be heading to next. It’s becoming an incredible journey but I also have to admit it’s a bit surreal and way beyond the scope of GPS.

Thank you for joining me for some of the drive!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Poem: Somewhere In Between.

Neither tall,

nor small

but somewhere in between…

my feet now touch the ground

though my thoughts are

somewhere in the clouds.

 

I look out my bedroom window

at the road which lies ahead

wondering how to get from A to B.

Do I really have to walk?

Why can’t I take a jumbo jet?

 

I don’t have all the answers.

Indeed, I don’t even know

which questions I should ask.

Yet, everywhere I seem to look,

all I find is rules.

Rules on rules on rules!

 

Be here!

Go there!

This is how to do your hair!

Living by this ringing bell,

has to be a form of hell!

 

Neither tall,

Nor small

but somewhere in between…

why can’t I just enjoy the view

before I grow too big?

23rd February, 2016.

 

My son was given an assignment this week to write a poem “Looking Through My Window”. He is about to turn 12 and has just started High School. I wanted him to see the topic from a different angle and that looking through his window could refer to what he sees as well as how he views the world…his perspective.

As it was, his poem came from another perspective entirely and he wrote from an imaginary point of view about a mysterious rabbit which he spotted out his window, which no one else could see. This rabbit took on surreal qualities and started glowing, combusting and then in the morning there was no trace of the rabbit at all. It struck me as being a bit Steven King but well done. I gave him a bit of help with punctuation but it was his own piece.

I am trying to work out a good balance on the homework front. Every kid and his dog is being tutored these days and I figured my husband and I are qualified enough to handle this. Geoff is one of those lucky few who are good at maths and English. My maths ability was never strong but after putting so much effort into my creative side, it fell into some kind of swamp years ago.

So, who does our daughter come to for maths help tonight? Ha! Yes, yours truly. Well, they’ve even changed the way you do subtraction since I was at school and so Geoff ended up giving the pair of us a Maths lesson.

I would have thought that being a poet would’ve automatically disqualified me from all of that!!

By the way, it was sweltering here today and I caught the dog lying in front of a small fan we had running to redirect the air-con into the bedrooms….just like many of you in the North must have pets in front of the fire/heater this time of year. I was very tempted to grab that sun today and stick it in an envelope and post it to you all…no returns. Yes, I know I’d regret it in the morning and the temperature is supposed to be much more comfortable tomorrow. It’s really been a scorcher today!

Anyway, all too soon, I’ll be complaining about the cold!!

xx Rowena

Writing Class: as bald as a Blobfish!

As a compulsively addicted, forever-at-it,  passionate writer, I’ve been trying to find sneaky, subtle ways of encouraging my kids’ with their writing without getting sprung.

As any parent will agree, as soon as you show more than observational interest in any of your child’s activities, it puts on the kibosh on them. You are the kiss of death and the worst thing any outsider could possibly ever say to your child, no matter how well intentioned their motivational efforts might be,  is: “You’re just like your Mum/Dad” or even worse still “Ah! A chip off the old block!!” When I was a kid, those sort of comments were “stick-your-finger-down-your-throat-type” revolting and a instant death knoll to any kind of interest. RIP!

At the same time, I still want to do some writing with them and somehow pass on something of my box of magic tricks…even if it’s only enough to enable them to be competent writers and express themselves enough to cover school requirements. That in itself is a challenge anyway.

That said, if they were to show any interest at all in writing well…Yes, I’d still probably have to keep myself in check because, as I said, a bit too much parental encouragement can be a very damaging thing. We all need to wait for the butterfly to make it’s own way out of the chrysalis or it will never be able to fly.

Reading their eclectic writing efforts, I definitely felt I could help them but the real trick was HOW. I didn’t want to go on the rampage with the notorious red pen and turn them off writing for life but at the same time, I appreciated that I know a few tips or short cuts. I mean as much as I agree with Lennon’s quote, sometimes you you just want to cut to the chase and get to your destination without any hassles or impediments. There’s a lot to be said for taking the easy way out or what’s known as “The K.I.S.S. Principle”: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I don’t know if you remember back to your primary school compositions or creative writing exercises but my Mum taught me how to spell enthusiastic when I was 11 and I soon found that when enthusiastic ended up in my compositions, there was that illustrious red tick and a VG (very good) in the margin and I was smiling like the proverbial Cheshire Cat. While too many big words wasn’t the way to go, judicious use definitely paid off. By the way, my Mum also gave me a Roget’s Thesaurus at the time and I soaked that up like a sponge. As you can see, I was a bit of a writing nerd even then. To make matters worse, I was also accused of reading the dictionary in high school but I still deny it.

As I said, I’ve been fumbling around trying to find some simple things I could do with the kids to nurture their writing and help them get ahead. Then, last week, I attended a meet and greet at the school and walked away with a very simple sheet about how to build a super sentence, which was fabulous. This also included working on similies, which can be a little tricky at first.

We started off with a simple sentence:

Yesterday, Bilbo had a haircut.

By asking who, when, what, how why, where and including a simile, our simple sentence expanded into:

“While most people receive scrumptious chocolates and stunning red roses for Valentine’s Day, Bilbo, our woolly Border Collie, received a free haircut and is now almost as bald as badger”.

I wrote most of this as an example.

So my ever-inquisitive daughter asks what a badger looks like and we jump straight to Google Images and she promptly tells me that a badger isn’t bald and is actually rather furry. Of course, this launches a new line of inquiry which has absolutely nothing to do with writing super sentences and I’m starting to suspect that my daughter’s taking me on another one of her circuitous goat’s trails. Yet, who ever said you had to stick to the narrow path to gain an education?

It turned out that the expression “as bald as a badger” comes from Victorian times when the original expression was:  “as bald as a badger’s backside”. Badger’s hair was used to make men’s shaving brushes. Brush makers would trap badgers and take the hair from their derrieres and then set them free. Eventually the hair grew back however it wasn’t uncommon in England’s Victorian past to see badgers with bald backsides.

Quite an interesting bit of trivia really!

Well, as interesting as this explanation might have been, it didn’t have much application to a modern kid whose Dad uses an electric shaver or in the case of my husband…an electric beard trimmer. Although my husband has a very full head of hair, for many kids whose fathers shave off their receding locks rather than going for the finesse of the comb-over, a more appropriate simile would be:

“as bald as my Dad.”

So my daughter who is the master of asking tricky questions and really putting me on the spot suggests her own take on this simile. A simile which the rest of the world has left alone for at least 100 years. Her version of the simile was:

“as bald as a blobfish”.

At that point, my ire was raised and I was getting really stroppy…especially after trying to build a super sentence out of: “I am awesome”.

BLOBFISH????? WHAT THE???

Just when steam was starting stream out of both ears and I was definitely losing my cool, she looks up Blobfish on Google Images. My goodness!! It actually exists and it is as bald as a badger. While you can research the Blobfish yourself if you’re interested, it’s main claim to fame is being awarded the title: World’s Ugliest Animal in 2013. While it certainly looks odd, I wouldn’t call it ugly. It’s a bald, blobby, gelatinous thing which actually looks kind of cute in an alternative, dare I say “different” kind of way. It could even look a bit contemplative or spiritual.  That said, it also reminds me of a lot of blokes you see walking around with bald heads.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”.

John Lennon

Yes, while the rest of the world might despise the Blobfish and think it’s ugly, we love it. Cherish it. Indeed, I am in the process of ordering a toy version for my daughter’s birthday. After that priceless conversation, we had to had to immortalise the moment! I just haven’t quite worked out where to store the moment because it is on the large side and her room is already bursting at the seams.

Blobfish looking plush.

Blobfish looking plush.

After processing all of that, “bald as a blobfish” is starting to appeal and dare I say that it even exceeds all my wildest creative dreams for my child. Why should she settle for a comparison which no longer makes sense when our dog could be as “bald as a blobfish” instead?

It seems that my wish has been granted after all and I’ll take the blobfish over a badger any day!!

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”.
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

 

Have you ever been caught by a blobfish? I’d love to hear your tales!!

xx Rowena

Further reading:

http://dykn.com/the-truth-about-why-the-worlds-ugliest-animal-isnt-that-ugly/