Monday, 11 March 2013

Monday Mixer - Student entries

I love getting my kids to do work to send to friends, or to enter into competitions. For the past few weeks, some of my students have watched me do (and given their input on) my Monday Mixer. Last week, I decided I was going to get them to do it but then promptly forgot. So, I inflicted it on them this week. The language is a bit hard for them, after explaining the words, I also gave them some they could swap out for them (only fair since they’re third graders with varying levels of ESL). I know the definitions don't line up 100% with some of the words, but it'll do. I typed them up with only the minimum of error corrections, mainly fixing typos and tense. Since it's not my work, I can't enter them in the competition, but I did tell them there's a chance of extra bribes for any that readers like, so feel free to lavish praise

This is by the student who gave me pointers. After reading her work I asked her if she could jam in another one of the prompts and go for overachiever, and so she went back and edited her work, swapping mountain out for beach. Quite frankly, I think her entry is better than mine.

The Artist
Yesterday at early dawn as I was strolling across a peninsula in Australia, I saw a dilettante sitting beneath a tree, sketch book in hand, pencil drawing slowly. As he finished, I had decided to buy it, so I took out my purse and handed the artist five dollars. I looked at the picture. “How interesting” I thought, as I stared at the picture I had bought. The artist had started to draw yet another picture. He drew the same picture of the beach I had bought and they were both identical. I looked around but there was no beach in sight. The artist was looking at me. He smiled and turned the page of his sketch book and quickly drew another picture and gave it to me. I offered him five dollars but he didn’t accept it. “You’ve done enough for me.” he said. I walked away, smiling.


Another overachiever, though the brusque replacement has morphed into an adverb. Close enough is good enough, I reckon.

When I go to the beach
Yesterday, my family went to the beach. My dad and I had a swimming race. I am good at swimming so I swim faster than my dad. But when my dad lost he said he is happy when I win. When my dad and I went to swim, my mum is cooking with a spatula to make barbeque for me and my family. When we were playing my baby sister looked like a lazy person lying on the sand and had some rest after eating lots of sandwiches. When my dad is tired of playing he sits down and read the newspaper. He said that a woman has lost a handbag at the bank. If anyone see it call her by this number 08 67589 911. Then we played happy at the beach with my baby sister then we are hungry and ate barbeque.


This story had to be highly edited back down to 150, it lost a bit of cohesion, and the monster turned from an amalgam of a few animals into just a fox. She also had to hack out a heap of wonderful language to get it under the word count.

The Humphrey
On a beach, there was Humphry. Humphrey is a big fox. There was a rude lady who went to the beach. She didn’t meet Humphrey. But an artist did, because he needed to draw a picture of Humphrey.
“Why did you come near Humphrey to draw a picture? Don’t you know what he looks like?” the lady asked.
“No,” the artist replied, “I need to come to Humphrey to see what he looks like. Humphrey’s harmless.”
“Whatever!” the lady thought “is the artist telling the truth?”

The lady soon saw Humphrey. It roared at her. “The artist lied!” the lady said. When she met the artist, she said to him “You lied! He just roared!”
“I told the truth. Humphrey’s harmless to good people. He roared at you because you’re rude.” the artist said. Then the lady left.


Yet another over-achiever. I’d like to say that they look on me as an inspiration, but that’s a pretty big lie.

Saturday and Sunday
“Today can I go to the beach with Peyton?” asked Anna.
“Alright,” said mom, “But make sure you come back before 6:30 PM, OK?”
While Anna was walking she met her friend Emily.
“Where are you going?” asked Emily.
“To the beach,” answered Anna. When they got to the beach, they asked Peyton if she wanted to build a sand castle.

After that, they went for a swim. At 3:30 PM Peyton saw an artist and asked if she could draw a bank next to a cemetery. After 3 hours it was time for Anna to go home. When Anna got home, she started writing quickly in her diary. Then her mother took her to buy some handbags and a purse. The next day Emily came to Anna’s house for about 3 hours. Then Anna went to the library with her father. At the library she met Peyton and they went out for dinner.


This story was just finished in the time limit, so she didn’t have a chance to revise.

The Weird Bank
Once in a beach there was a bank. Inside the bank there was a spatula, a pan, and a cook. One day an artist came in and said “This is a perfect place for my job!” So the artist started to draw a cook, a spatula and a pan in a lazy way. After a while the bank teller said “This is a weird bank because there is a cook and an artist inside and there should not be one in the bank.” she yelled it so loud that everyone heard her.

She said “I quit!” and left, and shut the door with an angry face. The artist said “It was more interesting when the bank teller was here.” Then the bank teller came back with a happy face. She said “I’m sorry for shouting at you guys.” They all worked better and stayed together happily.


Another that just scraped in within the time limit

Angry Artist
Once there was an angry man. He lost his handbag at the beach. Then he looked and looked for it, but he could not find it. Then he said if I don’t have that handbag I will lose my job. The job for the angry man was being an artist. In that handbag there was a lot of artist things. The angry artist still had his money. Then he went to the bank and got more money. Then when he was lined up for the money he saw his handbag on the woman’s back. Then he said “Hey! That is my handbag!” The woman said “No, this is not your handbag.” The woman opened the handbag and he looked inside for any artist things. But there were no artist things inside the handbag. Then he went back to the hotel and he saw his handbag on the chair.


I do have a couple more students (only 10, so it's a breeze!), but they didn’t complete their stories in the allotted time.


I got my students to do the Monday Mixer as well (their post is here, so if you want to have a look at them, feel free).
Picture from here
I loved to travel along the peninsular and find a quiet place to sit and watch the waves roll in. I’d always take my gear with me, but I was too much of a dilettante to do much more than get my sketch book out - and most of the time that went unopened. It was just too enthralling watching the breakers come crashing over the rocks, collecting shells or wishing on the first few stars. Every week I’d gesso up some frames, thinking this time I’d capture it, but there was always something that took my breath away. This time, it was the way the last rays of the sun hit the spume flung up by the breakers. Hypnotizing. And much more pleasant than mucking around with oil and paints. I’d tried photographs before, but they didn't do it justice. Maybe I’m not really an artist, but I don’t really care.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cover band

The Mid-Week Blues-Buster is only in its third week, but I but the concept behind it is great, and will have me coming back... 500 words (a loose 500, 300 to 700 is fine) using a song and its video as a prompt. For this week, it was Gerardo Ortiz - Este Amor, a cover of Bob Marley’s Is This Love. I quite like being sung at in a foreign tongue, especially when it is something familiar. I’ve had it happen in a few different languages in my travels over the years. There’s a bit of me in this story, some elements are friends, and some of it is based on other patrons I've had a drink with.

There wasn't much to the bar, but then again there wasn't all that much to the town. Sure, it was on the tourist track, but everyone left after snapping a few pictures and buying some ethnic trinkets to show folks back home how adventurous they were. Unlike most others, I hadn't moved on. Don't get me wrong, there wasn't anything that made this town special. I wasn't seeking a higher spiritual truth like some of those who clambered over the ruined temples (it isn’t sacrilegious if no-one still believes in those gods, right?) nor was I trying to find myself like the ones who were living out of their backpacks and seeing the “real world”. I was here because I just couldn't be arsed any more. Booze, internet and passable food... what else could you want? After about five months, they even stopped trying to sell souvenirs to me. I didn't kid myself that I fitted in, but at least the locals left me in peace. More than I could say for the tourists - they were always trying to ingratiate themselves with me. Thinking I could give them an easy way to connect, so they'd have a bit more of local colour to add to their stories. Wrong!

There wasn't much to the bar.The beer wasn't even cold. But then again in this climate, nothing was. The breeze stirred by the rickety ceiling fan was barely enough to keep the flies away, but sometimes you have to be thankful for the small things. My stool on the verandah was empty, so I took my accustomed seat and began drinking mechanically, watching the unfocused haze of the sunset. A Zen Master has nothing on me, I can sit for hours as long as the succession of beers isn't interrupted and no-one tries to talk to me. Sighs escape me periodically, but I couldn't tell you why. Not contentment. Not sadness. Not even ennui. Apparently there's a word in the local lingo that sums up this state I'm in so perfectly that I could be the poster boy for it, but I don't care enough to learn how to pronounce it.

There wasn't much to the bar. But then again, there wasn't much I was after. I wasn't running from anything and I hadn't burned out. Life here was simple. Predictable. Peaceful. I had a good thing going. The tour guides that often drank here after the last bus departed were more excitable than usual tonight, talking excitedly. Just as the mosquitoes were coming out, a couple of guys rocked up with some instruments. A fiddle, a flute and a harmonica. Normally, that'd be enough to make me head home, but I still had a couple of drinks in front of me to get through, so I stayed and listened. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had been dreading something "traditional" that the tourists all lusted after but sounded like cats being strangled with their own tails. Instead what greeted my ears was real music, just done differently. It'd take me a while to pick the songs, as they were singing the lyrics in their own language. Who would have thought that a pub cover band with those instruments would work? The Beatles. The Doors. Marley. A bit of Zep. As the night wore on, the music got more recent, but somehow it was still great. Even some that I'm embarrassed to admit to knowing... Aqua. Rednex. That chick with the annoying voice who was everywhere a year ago. The beers had run out, so against my better judgement I swapped to the local rotgut. Still they played on, getting weirder and more eclectic. Stuff I'd heard my parents listen to that I couldn't name, but I knew. When I recognised the notes to Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I started to feel tears trickle down my cheeks. I had a vivid childhood memory of watching Kermit playing his banjo and belting out a song on a similar topic. Not the same tune, but it hit me powerfully for some reason. Maybe I should blame the booze, but I decided that tomorrow I'd head back home.

Monday, 4 March 2013


Once again, this Monday Mixer is written with advice and suggestions from one of my students, she decided if Bran was going to live or die. I think for tomorrow's writing task, I am going to give them a simplified version of some of the words and see what they come up with. I managed to fit six of the words in this time: firth, hillock, caltrops, nocturnal, pensive, profligate. The others didn't fit the tone of the piece. Next time, I'll try and take it somewhere warmer. And happier, too.

Picture from here

The onshore wind rustled the tussocky grass sprouting from the hillock. A profligate worrier (certainly not a warrior) Bran had scattered the rocky path that wound up from the firth with caltrops - a futile attempt to slow any raider who came seeking revenge. Deep in thought, pensive about how exposed he was in the watchtower, Bran hunkered down under his cape awaiting either the dawn or vikings.

In the past others had been found asleep at the post, but thoughts of danger about the nocturnal posting petrified the crofter too much to even consider shutting his eyes. Staring at the horizon in the darkness for hours on end like this was mental torture, the worst  thing Bran could imagine. He was wrong... in the early hours of the morning, a longboat silently made its way up the coast. Sobbing in fear, Bran sounded the horn then ran for his farm.