I came into this room for a reason…

I’m in charge of the display case in the foyer of our school. It’s a central location where we showcase art, themes, important school events and messages for the student body. I love doing it, even though it usually takes me three hours to build a display, usually on a Saturday, and I often end up kneeling on a staple or cutting myself with an exacto knife… and there was one particularly fraught day when I shattered an entire panel of glass…

This week, I felt it was important to show the kids how much we love them, support them and are worried about their experience of the current job action undertaken by the NSTU in the face of the remarkable bullying, lying, hyperbolizing, out-of-context rhetoric of the current government. A government which is hell-bent on painting teachers as greedy, brainless drones. A government who is so out of touch with the realities of …

But I digress…

I approached our staff, asking them to provide quotes reflecting what they love about teaching, what lead them to this career, and why they enjoy working with young people. I also asked them to list their credentials, so the kids could see that we are professionals who didn’t arrive at this place by accident, or as an easy option in a world of career possibilities. Many of our teachers have more than eight years of university education in our back pockets…

I digress… again…

I titled the display “I know I came into this room for a reason…”

As I compiled their words, I was struck over and over again by the depth of dedication and nurturing our teachers deliver daily to over 300 kids in our building.


On Monday we are embarking on a work-to-rule action which cuts deeply into the flesh of our teacher souls… clubs, sports, concerts, plays, field trips, special events, assemblies… what do you remember about school? Sure, you probably remember the academics, a certain class, maybe even a certain lecture. (I remember that bio teacher Mr. Porter had incredible biceps, and folk dancing in gym class was absolutely mortifying. Tantramar Regional High School, class of ’84)

But it’s the extras that stick in my memory. Choir. Football. Student Council. Winter Carnival.


As we prepare to face Work To Rule what strikes me the most is the incredibly long list of services we are withdrawing in service to a bigger picture.

I have spoken with teachers in tears this week, mine and theirs.

I have spoken to angry teachers.

I have spoken to teachers questioning “but what about…?” and “can’t we still…?” and “oh my god, my kids are going to be so disappointed…”

I didn’t even realize that so much of what we do is outside of our contract, and I’ve been teaching for a dozen years. Because to me, and to the thousands of teachers in this province, the extra is the norm. Not one teacher in my building has shown relief, or ambivalence, or benign acceptance over what we are facing this December.

We are in crisis.

We are grieving.

But… we are desperately concerned about our ability to continue to deliver quality programming and attention and care of ALL of our children without the equally dedicated support of our government. And at this point, we don’t seem to have it.

Yes… we refer to them as OUR children.

Our kids.

Because… yeah… we love them. We care. We nurture. We fret about their present and their future.

Because that is what this is all about.

“My favourite thing about teaching is the students.  Plain and simple.  I deeply care about their well-being socially, emotionally, mentally and academically.  I want to see them succeed and to support their growth into adulthood.  I try to build positive relationships and strive to bring out the best in each and every person.  To teach independence, facilitate learning, guide, listen, laugh, cry… I love it all because in the end, the kids of the now, are the kids of the future. I want to be part of that.”

I don’t have the answers. I don’t consider myself a political person. My agenda restricts itself to my kids, my classroom, my school.

I am a teacher.

I want to teach.

Myself, and over 9,000 other teachers in the province… because your kids, are our kids. Our current job action reflects our determination to meet their needs, dedication to a profession that is both rewarding and extremely challenging, and a line in the sand which states that the government must do better in their support of education.

I sure hope they’re listening.


Please click on the link below for more information on the current situation with education in Nova Scotia:

Act For Education





Hitting November…

I’ve hit November.

Like almost every teacher I know, I’ve hit the wall which is November… it’s a wall of exhaustion, a wall of over-exertion, a wall of self-doubt, and this year in-particular it is a wall of both solidarity and bemusement. It’s a wall that beckons with the elusive promise of Christmas and the barbed wire challenge of report cards, and while I hit it running, hoping to scale it with grace and determination, it seems to have knocked me off my feet.


Like it does every year.

I arrive at school at 6:50 am every morning and leave usually around 3:30 pm, (our school runs from 8 am-2 pm) although last week I didn’t get home until almost five every day because of meetings and Art Club and Dinner Theater rehearsals. I’ve spent several Saturday mornings at school, preparing for lessons, marking, plugging marks into the computer. I’ve spent Sunday mornings at school running play rehearsals. We have 30 minutes for lunch, and I usually spend at least 10 minutes with one kid or another who needs one thing or another… and the other 10 minutes moaning with my teacher friend while we inhale whatever carbohydrates we can scavenge at the end of the cafeteria line, about having to pee and needing a coffee and why isn’t there more chocolate? I know that only adds up to 20 minutes, because I do math right good, you. I lose those other minutes trying to figure out where I left my glasses and where is the photocopying I know I did this morning?

I wake up at 5am and do prep, and I do prep after supper, and on the weekends.

What is prep?


You know how they say that public speaking is, like, the number one fear for most people, even above fear of heights, clowns and spiders? As a teacher, I do that all day, every day. The public speaking. And honey, you better believe that you gotta plan what you’re gonna say or 25 teenagers are gonna tune out and log in and swipe left and then what you gonna do about the Provincial Exam, or the common assessment, or the survey, or Powerschool, or the angry parent…?

Prep means linking outcomes to action.

It means questing in perpetuity to find engaging methods to excite them… videos, podcasts, stories, images, new materials… and preparing those lessons, editing them, arranging them, delivering them… and make no mistake, these kids aren’t the kids I taught ten years ago. They aren’t the kids I taught five years ago. These aren’t the kids we were, when we were kids. Remember how exciting it was when the teacher rolled in the movie projector because you were going to watch an educational video about plate tectonics?



Teaching nowadays is like comparing the Cirque du Soleil to earthworm races. If there isn’t a trapeze and a flaming hoop somewhere in the lesson plan, forget it!

…all while making sure that the eight kids with adaptations can follow you and the three kids with autism can feel involved and the five kids with behavioral adaptations won’t lose interest and the kids who can’t take notes have what they need and the kids who have auditory processing delays can keep up and the kids who haven’t had breakfast are awake and the kids who might have gotten stoned at recess are hopefully not stoned and the assessment piece is in order and you’ve filled in the forms on Tienet and you’ve planned your CLT meeting and you’ve photocopied your Literacy strategy handouts and you’ve emailed back the parent with the absent kid and you’ve tried to find the ipad charger (and failed) and you’ve pissed off another teacher because you planned an event when they have a test and if Stanley drops the f-bomb one more time in class…

And that’s only for one class.

And then there are the things you can’t prep for.


So far this year I have talked with lovely wonderful adorable kids, all of whom I want to take home and wrap in blankets and feed hot chocolate to… a kid whose mum has cancer, a kid who’s being bullied by older kids, a kid who is terrified of going into debt if she goes to university, a kid whose drug use is crippling, a kid who is trying to come out but is scared and can’t tell her parents, a kid who is hungry every day, a kid with absent parents, a kid with an abusive boyfriend, a kid trying to hide a learning disability, a kid who won’t take off his hoodie because then he might be visible, a kid… and a kid… and a kid…

And I have twenty-three in one class, and my neighbor has twenty-eight, and his neighbor has thirty-four, and her neighbor has thirty-seven…


I love them all.

Yes. Even the jerks.

“I know what that gesture means, young man. Stop it. Now.”

“You called her a what? Oh dear. Oh no, dear, that’s not a nice word.”

“I don’t care if your boyfriend is an a**hole, you do not need to text him right now.”

I am responsible for them all.

Do we do this job for the money? Of course we do… teachers are human beings with bills and families and responsibilities… but is it only about the money?

It is not.

It is so emphatically NOT about the money… the $500 I spent of my own money last year for classroom supplies… the cakes I buy every time one of my kids has a birthday… the hours and hours my colleagues spend coaching… the tutoring they offer after school… the program planning for individual students… the support and love and kindness offered outside of the classroom… it is NOT about the money.


It’s about the kids.

That’s why we’re here.

And… they are your kids. They are my kids. They are Nova Scotia’s kids.

I’d like to survive November.

I’d like to have all my reporting, marking, inputting, adapting, accounting for, documenting, meeting, debriefing and analyzing completed so that I can…

Just teach the kids.

We all, just wanna teach the kids.

Now,  where did I put my trapeze…?

PicMonkey Collage





Saying yes… to a Troll!

Several years ago I adopted a new policy. I called it the Say Yes policy, because it involved the Saying of Yes to things that I usually reacted to with a No.

I am a Say No kinda girl, in most instances.

Actually, quite often I’m a Say No, Then Run-Away-Screaming kind of girl, especially if the Saying of Yes indicates an agreement to do anything with Other People. I’m an anti-social, introverted creature, with an aversion to social engagements, social gatherings, social events, social studies… I used to have to Say Yes to things because they involved my children. But then my children all went and grew up, damn them, and I started to hide under a boulder because no one was forcing me out into the light of day. Sadly, hermitage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, even though it’s blissfully easy.

Hence, the Say Yes Policy, which I adopted so that I would not moulder under a boulder, as it were. As well as being anti-social, I am incredibly lucky. Lucky, because the Saying of Yes has allowed me to participate in some pretty cool things, with some incredibly talented people, and although it doesn’t come without bruises, this flailing about in the social world has allowed me the opportunity to Do Things.

I do enjoy the Doing of Things.

Last year I did a puppet play. Because of that puppet play, I am now having another Puppet-ish adventure.


This is a Thing I am doing now… not because I know what I’m doing, not because I have any claim to knowledge or skill, not because I’m qualified, just simply because I am incredibly lucky, and I have a Say Yes Policy which opens doors to exciting adventures.

I highly recommend it. The next time an adventure crosses your path… say YES and see what happens? You too, may end up with a Troll in your living room.

Christina Murray messaged me, out of the blue, a stranger with a strange request.

She said, Puppets. She said, Troll, and Puppeteers, and Music, and Giant Hands.

I said… Yes! Absolutely! I am Troll!

This is a Troll.


He’s not finished, but when he’s done he’s going to be a puppet operated by three puppeteers from the Xara Choral Theatre, as they create their Tales of the Old North production called The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain on November 24-26 at the Alderney Landing Theatre in Dartmouth, NS.


“Join us for our second annual Tales of the Old North holiday production featuring beautiful choral music, stunning visual design, and heartwarming story that is perfect for the whole family! This year’s story is called The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain and tells the story of a brave Soldier who sets off on a journey into a fairy land to rescue three Princesses who were swept away by a snowdrift. Along the way she must contend with devious competitors, follow a flock of fantastical birds, and battle a giant troll! We will be joined once again by acclaimed actor Jennette White as our Narrator, and the stage will come alive with costumes designed by Berlin-based artist Matthew Peach and lighting design by Matthew Downey. Featuring music by Canadian composers Sarah Quartel, Stephen Hatfield, and Mark Sirret, new arrangements of songs by Coldplay and Metallica from Nova Scotian composer Zoe Leger, this wintery performance will be a treat for all the senses.”

Do I know how to make a giant puppet operated by three puppeteers?

YES… er… actually… no.

No, I don’t.

Am I doing it anyway?


See how easy it is? Just Say Yes!


Here he is, drying in my living room with Marilyn. Everyone should have a giant troll head lolling about in their living room, watched over by Marilyn Monroe. My Love doesn’t think so, but he lets it happen anyway.

The moral of the story? When a lovely stranger contacts you because she needs a Troll… say Yes!

I’ll post more as the adventure continues… the next step: Giant Hands on broom sticks!

You can find more information about Xara Choral Theater here: http://www.xara.ca

And through their facebook page, here:


PicMonkey Collage


Magic 8: “Reply hazy. Try again.”

I’m writing.

At least, I’m trying to write.

I may need a support group to provide me with unconditional positive reinforcement on demand, or some sort of ultimatum or force beyond the feebleness of my own will, but for now, ass in chair, I’m writing.

I wouldn’t say no to an intervention, though. And wine. To help with the motivation.

I booked my editor for my “Naked, at the End of the World” novel way back in March… my reasoning was that if I booked my editor for June, I’d get it the fuck done.

I work best under pressure.

Except this time.

This time, nuthin’.

The date when I was supposed to send my manuscript to her (lovely woman, patient, understanding woman) came and went… last Saturday… and I hid. I was going to email her with a sob story of literary despair, but I decided that I would just pretend it didn’t exist, this interminable novel of epic suckage, and she would forget about me.

It’s not like it’s her livelihood, after all.

Ok, so it is her livelihood, but I thought she’d take the hint when No Words arrived from Libby. I thought she’d sigh with gentle sympathy and chuckle and say: “Oh that Libby. No Words. It’s perfectly OK.”

Instead, she emailed me and asked where my manuscript was.

She reminded me that it was her livelihood, after all.

She suggested that I respond, indicating my intentions.

And I was bereft. My novel sucks. A doodle doo.

Suck-a-doodle-doo, that is.

(Thank God it’s not my livelihood!)

Until… I re-read my wanton manuscript.

And I chuckled a little.

And I thought, “My, my, what good use of the word ‘apocryphal’. Aren’t I clever?”

And I pondered the scene with the peacock feather tattoo, and the scene with the cat, and my painful and gratuitous overuse of the word ‘fuck’.

And I asked the Magic 8 ball if I should carry on…


I bought a Magic 8 ball because the Magic 8 is a pivotal prop in my story, and it seemed ill-fated… irrational, even… to not use its wisdom to guide my Novelacious Novelling…


Jeep, Wonder Weiner, asking the Magic 8 Ball for guidance regarding the squirrels…


Me: “Magic 8 Ball, should I continue with my novel?”

Magic 8: “Cannot predict now.”

*shake, shake*

Me: “Magic 8 Ball, should I keep writing?”

Magic 8: “Reply hazy. Try again.”


*shake, shake, shake*

Me: “Magic 8 Ball, should I finish my novel?”

Magic 8: “My reply is no.”


Then I asked the pompous and oratorically pugnacious Magic 8:

Me:  “Can YOU use the word ‘apocryphal’ in a sentence? Eh? Can ya?”

Magic 8: “Very doubtful.”

And with that,  I won.

Winning this debate with the Magic 8 Ball has provided me with the inner fortitude I need to continue writing.

Take that, Magic 8.


Mic drop.

So, I feel energized. Empowered, even.

I’m writing again… Naked, at the End of the World… novel #4…

And it feels good.


*shakey mcshakerson*

                            Me: “Magic 8, is this novel going to be a success?”

Magic 8: “Better not tell you now.”


Oh. Oh, I see.

Saving the good news for later… that’s how I choose to read it, anyway…

PicMonkey Collage

Wherein I ramble on…

I haven’t blogged for so long, I think I’ve forgotten how!

I’ve been busy doing this…


Mermaid’s Tears

and this…


Mermaid’s Tears, set

which resulted in this…


LITF 2016: Outstanding Visual Production, Adjudication Award for Excellence in Puppet Creation, nomination for Best Director (top 3 of 8) for Mermaid’s Tears.

and you would think that would be good fodder for a blog post, but I’m not quite ready to go there yet. Creating “Mermaid’s Tears” for the Liverpool International Theatre Festival was an epic journey, fraught with drama and emotion. Suffice to say… we done good, you. I may blog about the whole adventure some day, just… not today.

Do you know what happens, though, when a big project ends?

A hole. A vacuum where all the energy and pulse and excitement that existed for the previous project swirls around like lonely sheep looking for a shepherd. Like ants looking for sugar. Like ticks looking for a warm body…

Max has lyme disease.


He’s fine… I think. Medicated, loved, carried outside to pee when all of his wee limbs seized up stiff like little sticks. Treat your dogs, peeps! And don’t toss your children into swamps and meadows. Dangers abound! Jeep seems fine… good thing, no one wants a stiff weiner…

Here is Jeep, with his summer reading pick. An EXCELLENT book, if you’re looking for something wonderful to tide you through to July…


My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologizes, by Fredrick Backman

And the puppies are fine.


And I am looking for new projects.

I have Novel Number Four on the go but it SUCKS ASS. I’m in that sad tween state in the writing process where EVERYTHING SUCKS and everything I write is EMBARRASSINGLY ASS-ININE. I want to finish it, but then I write lines like:

“He wandered through the halls of his mind like a mental patient looking for a bedpan.”

…and I know my writing career is over.

So… today I did this:


Which was fun, and something quick and easy I can do with my Art class. White glue, food color, salt. Easy-peasy. It’s June, and the creative juices are flowing quite slowly in the Art room…


And I started this. A new Marilyn. Actually it started like this:


And then progressed to this:



And now this is standing in my living room:


She’s eventually going to look like this, from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”:


We’ll see how it goes. Let’s hope it doesn’t suck as bad as my writing.

Oh… and I’m also cooking a coyote carcass. I won’t post any pictures of that, because it kind of looks like I’m cooking a dog, and I fear I won’t be invited to any parties if people think I’m cooking dogs in my backyard. I do have access to enough dogs that one or two gone missing wouldn’t be a big deal… but this is a road kill coyote carcass donated by my friend HM.

Me: HM, I’d love to have some bones for my Art class.

HM: Would a coyote do?


HM: I’ll be on the lookout for one for ya. Find ‘em on the road sometimes.

My Love: Really? Seriously? That’s weird. You’re weird.


My Love: Why can’t you just collect shoes, like a normal girl?

Me: Where’s that big metal pot…

It is NOT weird to be cooking a coyote carcass on a sunny afternoon.

It’s all part of my quest to be The Coolest Art Teacher EVER. Have you ever drawn a coyote skull?

I can’t wait to see the looks of delight on the children’s faces.

Forget food coloring and salt!

We’re drawing road kill!

Is it June yet? Yes?

Just in the nick of time…

PicMonkey Collage

Brie mine

(I haven’t blogged in a while, and I miss it. So here is this… about cheese… just because tonight feels like a cheesy night.)

I have a guilty secret.

It’s something I indulge in quietly, when no one is looking, in the soft glow of muted light and the gentle crackle of waxed cellophane. I hide this passion of mine from my Love. I haven’t told my children. My co-workers would be shocked to know of my habitual indulgence in this sensual delight.

Brie Cheese.

Double cream.

The full wheel, not the fraction. No. Nor the quarter, nor the half, my cheesy friends.

The. Whole. Wheel.

Here is the evolution of my cringe-worthy hidden addiction:

My Love: “Why are we eating mould?”

Me: “WHAT?”

He: “Mould. It tastes like mould. Was this expensive?”

Me: “Noooo… it’s… mould? Seriously? Do you not revel in the delicate smoothness of creamy delight on your palate? Do you not inhale the warm mist of fermented dairy product that makes young girls swoon and swarthy men become tumescent with…”

He: “Mould. It’s gross.”

As a fully liberated, and entirely liberated and like, uber-liberated woman I have no shame in admitting that I like to please my man. With cheese. It’s important, in every relationship, to find the right level of cheese. We agree on cheese and crackers, with homemade moose sausage. We agree on cheese on ratatouille, on lasagna, in scallop potatoes… I feel that we are compatibly, and consummately, and concupiscently cheesy with one another…

Until the Brie.


I have a wheel in the door of the fridge. I eat it raw. I slice off bits when I come home after school. I gnaw on hunks carved in passing in the dull light of the refrigerator door.

I worry my children might visit and eat it without asking. They have been known to eat entire plates of leftovers with their fingers, cold, hovering in the half-open fridge door like coyotes over a frozen carcass…

It’s hidden under the garlic, stuffed behind the tabasco and Worcestershire Sauce (which is pronounced Wuss-teh-shure, in case you were wondering) and it diminishes daily. Secretly.

Hail Mary, Hail Cheddar, Hail Brie with a dash of cranberry and a twist of lemon on a pita crisp warmed ever so slightly under the broiler…

I brush my teeth after, like a closet smoker hiding the tell-tale whiff of a crime committed…

I omit to include the appropriate point value on my Weight Watchers food tracking oppressive page of suffering and self-denial…

I do not tell my Love, when he asks what we should have for supper, that all I need is his furry marvelousness and a hunka-hunka melted Brie…

I wash down the ill-gotten cheesiness with a glass of red wine, desperate to expunge the stain of Brevibacterium linens from my soul…

I do not tell my children to help themselves to the wheel of Brie… “Oh, look,” I say, instead. “Here’s a plate of archaic meatloaf and some green tomato chow from 1995. Mmmmm. Yummy.”

And I live under the burden of guilt borne of my illicit passion.

Do you know what is simply awesome with a hunk of brie?

An apple.

And apples are zero points on the Weight Watchers food tracking oppressive page of suffering and self-denial.

And no one needs to know the truth…

PicMonkey Collage









Mermaid’s Tears: one more week!

Mermaid’s Tears is appropriate for children, but it deals with adult themes. It is a story of loss and hardship, a story of families torn by tragedy and pain. But… it is also a story of redemption and resilience. It is a play that is going to be visually beautiful, with a hint of darkness around the edges.


It’s terrifying!

I mean… the play isn’t terrifying, but the prospect of people actually WATCHING it is! I always have to freak out the week before a show. It’s a thing.

This coming week is going to be intense. The set was moved into the theatre on Thursday, and now the exciting part of painting and dressing and fancifying can start! Fancifying is a fancy word for Building the Illusion!

set1        set2

Building the illusion of water, the illusion of wind and salt air and foggy mornings. The illusion of shadow and light, the illusion of puppets who seem real. Then Cameron Dexter, the magical God of lights and sound and set and all things digital, will twerk and tweak and… no.


No twerking.

Totally different play.

He will make light-y things happen. And music-y things happen. It’ll only take about sixty hours. No biggie.

Rehearsal every night this week. Plenty of nerves and excitement and last-minute adjustments because “Oh my god, my mermaid’s boobs are sagging” and “my head piece is giving me an aneurism” and “where’s the tail? Anyone? Tail, anyone?” But it will be fine… it will allll beeee fiiiine.

Lots of people have been asking if the play is appropriate for children. This is a good question… as adults we immediately associate puppetry with the realm of childhood, of make believe, but that isn’t necessarily so. Anyone who has watched the astounding Anomalisa will understand how powerful puppetry can be to convey mature themes.

Puppets are symbolism, puppets are metaphor.

Puppets are more than Bert and Ernie, although I can still watch old Sesame Street clips with great enjoyment! These days it’s difficult to determine what “appropriate for children” really means when so many mainstream children’s films are rife with sexual innuendo, gender bias and violence. I mean, have you watched the scene in Despicable Me 2 where they tie the lady to the roof of the car? Child appropriate?

That’s a rant for another day.

Mermaid’s Tears is appropriate for children, but it deals with adult themes. It is a story of loss and hardship, a story of families torn by tragedy and pain. But… it is also a story of redemption and resilience. It is a play that is going to be visually beautiful, with a hint of darkness around the edges.

The character of the Horrible Mother is, indeed… horrible! If you are bringing young children, there might be some scary bits. There is no inappropriate language, nudity, or overt violence… no animals or children were harmed in the making of this theatrical performance… but the Horrible Mother does get herself worked up a bit! Actually, we really hope she’s scary… that’s kinda the whole point. So please, bring your children, with the understanding that theatre is good for everyone, even when the performance sometimes touches on the darker side of life.

Mermaid Struggle

Again, we are delighted to share the stage with the Queen’s Community Choir for all three performances. After the Friday and Saturday shows, the audience is invited to stay and have a glass of wine and mingle with the cast and crew to see the puppets up close and ask whatever questions you many have about our process and method. The Sunday afternoon performance is a “pay what you can” show, if you prefer to attend a matinee. We are very much looking forward to your comments, so we can consider our approach to the Liverpool International Theatre Festival in May. What works? What doesn’t? Your perspective is invaluable to us!

I hope to write another update here before we hit the stage, but it depends how crazy the week is! (It is also the first week of a new semester at school, and I have seventy new students to torment.) Thanks to everyone who is liking and sharing our social media promotions, we love your support and interest!

Mermaid’s Tears at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool, NS

Friday, February 5 and Saturday February 6 at 8pm, $17/adult and $10/students(Meet and greet following each performance)

Sunday, February 7 at 2pm for “Pay What You Can” with no ticket reservations. First come, first served.

You can buy tickets here: Astor Theatre

You can purchase online tickets here: Ticketpro

You can find our facebook page here: Mermaid’s Tears on facebook

You can find information about the LITF here: Liverpool International Theatre Festival