Saturday, 27 April 2019

Life Update

pictures from the island

It’s been a while since I last updated the blog. I’m still teaching in the Torres Strait which is a group of islands near North Queensland. I have the same class from last year which is good because I know how to run the class and I know all the children. Four new students enrolled last week and I’m eager to see how they will add to the class dynamic. It’s common for families to move from island to island. I’m not sure how long the new students will stay.

I moved into a new apartment and now I have a roommate. I was apprehensive about moving at first and having a roommate. There isn’t many options available when it comes to accommodation here. All the teacher accommodation is managed by the government. I had to move out of my old place because it was only meant to be temporary accommodation.

My new roommate is a fellow teacher. We get along great. I feel very comfortable living with her. It’s been wonderful having someone to talk to and understand what I’m going through. She’s like the sister I never had. We’re both alone in the Torres Strait so it’s good we have each other.
 One thing I want to do differently this term is make more time for my hobbies. It’s very easy to work all the time because there’s isn’t much to do on this island and the workload for having a multi grade class is huge. However, I try to be mindful not to burn out. I am more aware of when I’m starting to exhaust myself. I remind myself that not everything has to be perfect and things can be done later. I try not to make school my entire life.

Besides teaching, I have re-enrolled into university to continue with my Bachelor of Arts degree. I dropped out of it midway last year. I regretted dropping out as I really missed my courses. I didn’t think that I could study and work full time. I just squeeze in my study with my life.
Jon has decided to stop blogging until the mood hits him. We still keep in regular contact on Facebook. He’s posting a lot more on that now.

I measure my time by terms which are every three months. We’re at the start of Term 2, I’ll update again when the term finishes. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Amish Cooking Class: The Seekers by Wanda E. Brunstetter

After reading a few sad and grim books, I decided to change pace and read something wholesome. What could be more wholesome than a novel about an Amish cooking? I’ve always had a fascination with Amish people, so I was looking forward to this book. Wanda E. Brunstetter has written numerous novels about Amish people and has some Amish heritage.

 Heidi Troyer starts a beginners cooking class to share her love of cooking. She has five students who each have a different motivation for joining her class. The chapters alternate between the characters. The characters are Charlene, a young woman who wants to impress her future mother in law, Loretta, a widow who wants to cook wholesome meals for her children, Ron, a Vietnam veteran who has a hidden agenda and Eli, an Amish man wants to learn to cook after his wife died and Kendra, a pregnant young woman needing to fill in time.

I really enjoyed the chapters when the cooking class was taking place. The recipes sounded delicious and I was thrilled that the recipes were included in the back of the book. I can’t wait to try them. I didn’t have a favourite character in this book. They all had some good points. I felt really sorry for some of the characters and there was one where I wanted a different ending.

One thing that I found jarring with this book was the dialogue. I thought the characters sounded similar and a little too formal at times. I didn’t think the dialogue sounded natural. I was later surprised to learn that the book was written in 2017. I thought the book was from the 90s from the old-fashioned dialogue.

I still enjoyed the book overall despite the dialogue. It’s the first book in series so I do want to read the next books to learn what happens next to some characters.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Beloved by Toni Morrison


Beloved is a story about an African American former slave named Sethe who is haunted the ghost of her infant daughter Beloved. While escaping from her master, Sethe murdered her daughter Beloved so that she wouldn’t have to live the life as a slave. Sethe is shunned by her community and lives her other daughter Denver. The two live an isolated existence with the poltergeist until an old acquaintance called Paul D. arrives.

The book was inspired by a former slave named Margaret Garner who killed her daughter, so she wouldn’t endure a life of slavery. It is an interesting and sad case as it was debated whether she would be trialed as a person or property.

I thought it was interesting how the characters embraced Beloved and the different relationships that they had with her. Denver has a confidant and doesn’t feel so lonely anymore and Sethe feels like she can make up for what she did to Beloved. Paul D. doesn’t trust her at all.

I sympathized with Sethe. What she did to Beloved was terrible, but I understand that she was in an awful situation and wanted to protect her children in her own way. Maybe I would feel differently if she were a real person. The true tragedy of the book was slavery and the trauma that survivors felt and having to adjust to the world. It was hard reading the cruelty that happened to the characters in the book and the racism of that time period.

This book is not something I would normally read. I had to read it for a college course that I was taking in Gothic Literature. I found this book a little hard to read at first because of the way it is written. I didn’t understand some of the metaphors and the dialogue at times. Overall, I enjoyed reading the book.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

December 2018

I’m back home for the holidays and intend to blog more. I got a new job in August which has kept me pretty busy. I’m a teacher and I went to teach in a remote location. It was a very rewarding experience, I have lots of good memories about the people and the place. I’m going back next year once the school year starts. I hope to make a lot of improvements for next year.

One thing that I want to improve on is giving priority to my personal goals. Before I got my job, I had started on an Arts degree majoring in creative writing. It was something that I had always wanted to do.  I dropped out of college when I got my job because I felt that I would be too busy to do it.
I missed writing and having that creative outlet, so I’ve enrolled back into uni. I’m still working full time, but I’ll make the time for my studies.
I have a few weeks of summer vacation which I intend to catch up with friends, go out and watch lots of movies. What I like the most about being back in city is the availability of everything and catching up with people.  I do enjoy living in a remote place, but a change of scenery is good.


I am currently reading The First Days of School: How to be an effective teacher by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong to get some tips on teaching. I’ve been a substitute teacher for most of my career but now I have my own class. Subbing is different from being a classroom teacher. A substitute fills in for a classroom teacher who is away. Now I have to do some planning. I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the students throughout the school year, which was something I wasn’t a part of as a sub.  


I am also reading the bible to better understand the community that I work in. Most of the community are Christians and the school is sensitive to the culture of the community despite being a public school. We have a prayer at every staff meeting and school function. I’m a Buddhist but I don’t have any problem with learning another religion.

In contrast, I’m also reading The Davinci Code by Dan Brown. Jon Bear and I are reading the book together and I’ll post a review about it later.


I started watching The Alienist on Netflix. It’s set in 18th century New York and follows a psychologist, a newspaper illustrator and police secretary who are investigating serial murders. I’ve only watched one episode and I’m hooked.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

October Update

It’s been a long time since I blogged. In August I accepted a new job teaching in the Torres Strait. The Torres Strait is a series of islands located up north of Queensland. I live on a small island of 250 inhabitants and I teach primary school.  The island is very small and it only takes an hour to walk around the whole island. I’ve really enjoyed the experience. The people are very friendly and welcoming. It is a bit of an isolating experience in some ways. Mobile phone reception is limited to a few hotspots on the island and the internet is slow. This island is not open to the public as it is a part of the Indigenous Protection zone.

I’ve recently had a short vacation in Cairns. It was refreshing to be back in a city again. I went shopping and explored the sights. My brother came up from Brisbane to join me on vacation. I hadn’t seen him since I left.

I am looking forward to the end of the year. There’s going to be a lot of fun events happening. The school will have a Christmas Concert and the grade six students will have their graduation. When the students have finished all their assessments, we’ll play games, do arts and crafts and watch movies. The last week of school was always my favourite time of year when I was a kid.

I am still reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. I think it’s a very exciting book although some might see it as tame compared to the horror genre in modern times. I think the story is told in a very interesting way. I like how the story is told through different viewpoints by diary entry, newspaper clipping and telegrams.

I’ve recently started watching Doc Martin. It’s a British drama series about a cantankerous surgeon who moves to a sleepy coastal town after he develops an aversion to blood. The town inhabitants get on his nerves with their stupid questions and beliefs. He is a very serious and blunt person which is what adds to the entertainment.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

We Bare Bears


We Bare Bears is a cartoon series about three bears living in San Francisco. The oldest is Grizz who is a Grizzly bear, then there is Panda and Ice Bear who is a polar bear. Grizz is an extrovert, who loves action movies and video games. Panda wants to find a girlfriend and loves anime. Ice Bear loves to cook and is pretty handy with an axe.

The three bears try to integrate into human society having grown up alone and homeless. They make a few friends along the way but mostly stick to themselves. It’s a heartwarming cartoon that everyone can watch. The episodes are the brothers trying new restaurants, going to the movies, grocery store and then having something go wrong.

I think this show is so cute. I’ve watched three seasons so far. My favourite bear is Ice Bear. He’s the quietest out of the bears and talks in a monotone. Ice Bear says random one liners that I think are funny and endearing.

The episodes are about twelve minutes long so it’s good when you want to something short to pass the time. I like to watch it when I’m eating or taking a break.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa


The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa is a story about a white cat named Nana and his life with his owner Satoru Miyawaki. The story is told from the cat’s point of view. Nana starts life as a stray but is befriended by Satoru. They live happily together until something happens to Satoru. He cannot look after the cat anymore and tries to find a new home for Nana. The pair go on a road trip to meet Satoru’s old friends who might be able to care for him.

I’m a cat lover and I have a cat. I was thrilled to learn about this book. I haven’t read many books where the main character is an animal. I thought that Arikawa did a great job in making a cat’s personality. Nana was aloof yet loving in his own way, which is what cats are like normally. I was also interested in the book from a writer’s perspective. I think that it would be difficult to write from an animal’s perspective. Animals don’t talk, and a lot has to be conveyed by internal thought and their movement.

The story is deceptively simple. The friends that Satoru visits reveal different parts of his life, from childhood, adolescence and adult life. The stories reveal Satoru’s kind and gentle nature and his love for his family, friends and cat.

I really enjoyed this book. I almost shed a tear at the end. The book has been made into a film! 

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