Today, I am juggling the mixed emotions of finally reaching the end of a traumatic year, and knowing that the ticking over of a clock, or the turning of a page of the calendar, doesn’t actually make a miraculous, instantaneous difference?
What else does one do with all of that but turn it into a poem?
It’s December 31, 2020: Christmas is back in its box, And I’m ready to cheer For the end of this year Full of tragedy, heartbreak and shocks.
I’m not sure next year will be better After all, it’s only tomorrow, And if people don’t care For how other folk fare, We could be in for more sorrow.
Still, as this horrid year closes, I’m hoping for a reprieve: A little more joy, A lot more hope— That’s my prayer this New Years Eve.
ⓒ2020 Joanne Van Leerdam
New Year’s Eve, 2020 #NewYearsEve #newyearseve2020 #PoetsTwitter
It’s almost the end of a school year that has been perpetually exhausting. Every teacher I know is beyond worn out.
I’ve used the words ‘tired’ and ‘exhausted’ so much in recent times, they have started to lose their currency. Not only are they becoming cliched, neither one really adequately describing the profundity or the long-term nature of the tiredness we’re feeling.
So, in the interests of communicating more effectively, I’d like to suggest some more expressive words to use instead.
Toilworn is a lovely word that reflects the nature of the tiredness that comes from hard work. It can also be used for something showing the effects of that kind of tiredness, or of the work that caused it.
Knackered is a term that is certainly expressive, and remarkably pleasing to say. I don’t know where else in the world people say this, but it’s certainly well understood in Australia as a term that means absolutely worn out.
If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
Today I put the Christmas tree in my study and decorated it.
I know. I know.
It’s not December yet, and I usually have a very firm rule about that.
2020, though, has not been renowned for playing by the rules. In a year of so much heartbreak, social isolation, separation from family and friends, reinventing careers, and widespread misery, it seems to me that we should celebrate what we can, when we can.
I also have a rule about waiting until the exams are marked and my reports are finished and submitted before I can be ready for Christmas. I finished the marking on the weekend and finalised my students’ reports yesterday, so at least I managed keep that rule intact!
So, given that it’s the 25th of November, I decided this morning that a month from Christmas was as good a day as any.
Besides, I needed something to do. Abbey the Labby was at the vets having surgery to remove a lump, and while the vets had told me it was most likely completely benign, I wasn’t altogether confident that 2020 wasn’t going to take that as a challenge. Anxious as I was, staying busy was a good thing to do.
Just after the tree was finished, the vet called and told me Abbey’s surgery went well and that he is really happy with the outcome. When we picked her up, two vets and the nurse all told us how beautiful and well-behaved she is. They commented that she is she is in excellent health and the perfect weight for a Labrador. They congratulated us on taking excellent care of her.
I’m calling that my first Christmas gift of the year.
I won’t be playing any Christmas music untilDecember 1st, though. I don’t want to push my luck.
This Year, It’s Not Too Early #ChristmasIsComing #Christmas2020 #November25
In wilful defiance of TLC’s advice, we spent today chasing waterfalls. Thankfully, though, we were visiting real waterfalls rather than metaphorical ones.
It was great to get out in the sunshine and fresh air, and to enjoy a change of scenery after months of social restrictions and another term of teaching from home.
I visited both Nigretta Falls and Wannon Falls near Hamilton, Victoria, with my bestie in July, but my husband hadn’t been there before, so it was nice to be able to visit with him.
Western Victoria has had a lot of rain the past couple of weeks, so the falls were both far more spectacular than they were in July. The volume of water at Nigretta Falls actually made it look completely different than it did just a few months ago. Wannon Falls had more water, but still looked much the same.
While watching the water cascading over Wannon Falls and flowing away, I spotted one resilient little tree growing in the river. It is barely visible in the bottom corner of the image above, but it’s there.
I thought about how the river just washes around it and keeps going, but rather than being washed away, that little tree stands its ground. The rocks around it may give it some protection and reduce the drag of the water, but even so, it must have very good roots.
It occurred to me that I am a bit like that tree.
This year has been a powerful and relentless river, and the last four months in particular have swollen that river with a lot of extra rain. I’ve learned to stand my ground and, to purposefully allow many of the pressures of life to just pass me by. I’ve had to. My priority has been to just hang on and try to not get completely overwhelmed and washed away.
Chances are, without the rocks around me, I might have been broken or got washed away. I am so thankful for those people who have supported and protected me. I’m thankful for the powerful roots and protective rocks of faith, family and friends who have held me and sheltered me, each one of them helping to deflect the water in their own way.
Hopefully, the floodwaters will recede soon and both that little tree and I can start to grow and flourish rather than merely surviving.
Irony occurs when one thing is expected, but the opposite thing happens or turns out to be true.
When the audience knows or understands something that the characters in a story or on stage or screen do not, that is called dramatic irony.
It should be noted, too, that an event or outcome being ironic for one person or group does not preclude it being predictable for other people
Both irony and dramatic irony are much-loved devices for writers, but they do not only exist in literature and film.
In fact, one could argue that the reason writers use these techniques is because they know that these things happen in everyday life, and that people love it when they do. The profundity of natural irony, dramatic or otherwise, is like crack for writers, who are often keen observers of human nature and behaviour.
Irony is a powerful thing. It can evoke all sorts of responses, ranging from pity to laughter to judgement, depending on the perspective of each onlooker. It can bring about self-pity, humility or significant changes in attitude and behaviour for those who experience it.
When well executed by an author, irony creates plot twists and complications that add depth and complexity to a story, but which also make the experiences of the characters relatable and intriguing for readers.
When expertly executed by the universe, though, irony can blow one’s mind.
Likewise, Trump denied the existence or threat of the virus and casually dismissed the illness and death of thousands of his own people. He refused to wear a mask or observe social distancing, he insisted on holding social events and campaign rallies against all medical advice. That he has tested positive and ended up in hospital with the virus is loaded with both types of irony.
There is little doubt that 45’s illness is a plot twist that he didn’t see coming.
One would hope that his treatment with highly experimental drugs that others with the illness haven’t had access to doesn’t end up doing more harm than good. That would also be ironic.
Personally, I find it impossible to feel sorry for him.
My empathy lies with all those Americans who suffered the disease and who lost loved ones to it while he proclaimed it as fake, and with all those who cannot afford the instant access to hospital care and fancy drugs that he can.
Irony, Dramatic Irony, and the Plot Twists of 2020 #irony #PlotTwist #TrumpCovid #BorisJohnson #JustSaying #blogpost
This post reminds me of the lessons I’ve been doing with my Year 8 History class about Medieval Europe and the Black Death.
My students were very interested in the plague, and surprised by the fact that this was when quarantine, social distancing, and the wearing of masks became the go-to modes of dealing with contagious disease. They were also surprised by the time it took the Europeans to understand the importance of basic hygiene, and how very long it took to develop good medical knowledge.
These lessons were highly relevant in These Times, and helped the kids to understand why we’re being reminded to wear masks, wash and sanitise our hands, and keep away from other people. It was good to be able to discuss how relevant history can be.
We all agreed we are incredibly thankful for modern medicine, science, vaccines and health care.
It does strike me as bizarre, however, that with all the scientific and technological advances we’ve made, we still have to remind people to wash their hands. Some things, it seems, never change.
In this time of Covid 19, when we don’t know why it seems to affect men more than women, and some ethnicities but not others, it is interesting that back in the 14th century the tsunami of the Great Pestilence of 1348 was followed by lesser waves that differed in many ways from the original. The first of these, in the England of 24 Edward III (January 1360 to January 1361) was called the secunda pestilencia and appeared to affect mostly the very young, babies and adolescents. Women were not affected in the same way.
The Chronicle of the Greyfriars of King’s Lynn notes: “…In that year  began a plague among Londoners at about the feast of St Michael, where at first infants…
There are many ways people have found to refer to this era of Covid-19 and all its baggage: widespread testing and temperature checking, social distancing, hand washing and sanitising, and the wearing of masks.
One of the most common is ‘these times’ and variations on that — these strange times, these difficult times, these awful times, and so on. There are myriad adjectives one could choose, although some are more socially acceptable than others.
Recently, I’ve observed that people have started to capitalise the term as These Times in blogs and social media posts.
This interests me, because of the way in which the language is being ever so slightly adjusted to add weight and significance to the term. Those capital letters are acting as an intensifier.
Intensifiers are those parts of language that add strength to what we’re saying or writing. Words like ‘absolutely’, ‘completely’, ‘terribly’, the commonplace ‘very’ and even the humble little ‘so’ are all intensifiers. Some people use expletives to do the same job, especially in spoken English. The meaning of the sentence doesn’t change if they are removed, but the sense of degree or importance in the words around them isn’t necessarily communicated if those intensifiers are not present.
By capitalising those Ts, writers are communicating their assumption that their readers will know exactly what they’re talking about. And, in These Times, there is little doubt that they will.