Daily Prompt: Shelf

Today’s one-word prompt: shelf  was the motivation that I needed to assemble my mini-indoor green house that I purchased on the spur of the moment on Monday. It was reduced by 50% and at $34.99 it seemed like a good investment and a way to start seedlings indoors instead of buying them at the local market.

This will be a gren house in a few minutes.

This will be a green house in a few minutes.

After bringing it home I put it on a shelf in the garage to avoid clutter in the cabin. After all who needs more clutter? Then again what is the point of getting a greenhouse if I am not going to assemble and use it?

It only took about ten minutes to assemble the parts and it is much sturdier than I expected. The most difficult part is putting the plastic cover on because it needs to be snug and you have to be careful not to tear or damage it.

The seeds, soil, bedding trays and pots are on the shelves waiting the arrival of spring on the 19th, two days earlier than normal.  Then, I can start my seedlings and begin the countdown to summer.

Photo 101: Bliss and Solitude

Life in my tiny cubicle offers very few opportunities for solitude. I am never alone in the office. There are teachers, students, cleaners, laborers and administrative staff that constantly roam in and out the office, some lingering longer than others, as they make their way from cubicle to cubicle. There is constant chatter in Tagalog, Hindi, Arabic and exotic versions of English that I struggle to comprehend. I make a concerted effort to avoid conversations in the office. Yet, when people address me I respond in a pleasant and helpful manner. I enjoy chatting with my students and colleagues outside of the office, in the classroom, at the canteen, or in the staff lounge, but I want my solitude in my cubicle. This way I can complete all my tasks quickly without interruptions, so that I am free to do as I please.

I usually spend one weekend a month alone. This is my solitude. I get up early, prepare breakfast and tea and I reflect about what I would like to accomplish during the weekend. Then, I write a list of things to do in my notebook and then I start my day. I work in my garden, watch a movie, do the laundry, iron the clothes, study German, go grocery shopping, prepare food, practice yoga, do crossword puzzles, go jogging or for a long walk in the evening. I do the things enjoy. It is important to have a relaxing weekend from time to time, free from family obligations, dinner engagements or other prearranged activities. This helps me to catch up on my hobbies and personal interests. I appreciate this down time with myself.

Now, here is my photo interpretation of solitude.

There is nothing like being alone in the desert. (Near Nizwa, Oman)

There is nothing like being alone in the desert. (Near Nizwa, Oman)

Or being alone in the mountains. (Marbat Wadi, Dhofar Region, Oman)

Or being alone in the mountains. (Marbat Wadi, Dhofar Region, Oman)

Finally, here is my take on bliss.

This cat makes me happy!

This cat makes me happy!


Photo 101: Water

Finding water to photograph in Nizwa, Oman, in the middle of a desert is not an easy task. There are no rivers or lakes. There has been minimal rain over the past few months, so the wadi that runs through Nizwa is completely dry. For this assignment I took some shots of the falaj waterway my place.

Here is a section of the falaj that brings water to the gardens and homes in Nizwa.

Water entering the  channel.

Water entering the channel.

The water looks clear.

The water looks clear, but this close up shows how low the water levels are after months without rain.


Photo 101: Home and Street

Last fall I signed up for Photo 101 course at the Daily Post, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I only completed the first two assignments on home and street. So, I am going to give it another shot. I have a Canon Power Shot A3100 IS which is a basic point-and-shot camera that I carry with me in my purse. Most of the time I only use the “auto” function on the camera, but for this photo course I am going to experiment with using some of the other functions.

For almost two years Nizwa, Oman has been my temporary home. When I go to the local shop to pick up the newspaper, the cashier greets me in a pleasant manner. Taxi drivers and restaurant workers are polite and friendly. My Omani colleagues and students are kind and helpful at work. In spite of this, it difficult to feel at home because I am a foreigner and my values, language and lifestyle are so different from the locals. For example, most ladies do not socialize outside the home. They tend to hang out with family and would never be caught socializing with a group of colleagues at the corner tea shop. I often find myself walking, drinking tea, shopping, or sight-seeing with male and female acquaintances from other countries. Although I know some Omanis at work I have not made any Omani friends during my stay in this country. The reality is that I am a foreigner and this place is not my home.

My home is in Canada where I live in a small village of less than a thousand people. There I am surrounded by family, friends and nature. I have five weeks left in my cubicle and then will return to my little log home in the woods for good. The photos below were taken this past winter.


This is my home.

This is my street.

This is my street.

Daily Prompt: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Another uneventful day  in my cubicle and I could easily nod off for a short nap and no one would even notice. However, I am not tired enough to fall asleep. So, here’s my take on today’s daily prompt from the Daily Post.

My cat loves to sleep on the sofa with a comforter as his pillow.

My cat loves to sleep on the sofa with a comforter as his pillow.

Many people complain about not being able to sleep or not getting enough sleep because of work schedules, family obligations, household chores, and the list could go on.  If anything, I may get too much sleep. The general recommended amount of sleep for an adult to maintain a healthy mind and body is between 7.5 and 9 hours.

Living in Oman, with few entertainment options, stifling heat for six months of the year, I often find myself hitting the sack early because I have nothing to do in the evening. I am usually fast asleep by 9 o’clock and I don’t lift my head from my pillow until 5 or 6 the next morning – a full 8 or 9 hours.

I wake up relaxed, well-rested and energetic after a good sleep. I start my day with a morning run, yoga or some stretching, followed by a healthy breakfast and tea. Then I try to stay busy the rest of the day so that my mind and body are tired enough, so that I can easily fall asleep as soon as I go to bed. I believe an active body and mind helps to ensure a solid sleep without any distractions.

As for dreams, I never remember the details, which probably indicates that they are not exciting or dramatic enough to disturb my sleep.

If you are having trouble dozing off after a long day here are some tips:

1) Close the curtains and turn off the lights. Light tells the brain that it is not time to sleep yet, so a dark room makes it easier to sleep.

2) Follow a routine by going to bed around the same time every night and getting up at the same time the following morning. This helps condition your sleep and wake patterns, so you fall asleep faster and get adequate sleep.

3) Avoid caffeine drinks such as tea, coffee or soda in the late afternoon if you want to sleep well.

4) Become more active during the day. If your body is physically or mentally tired then it is easier to fall asleep quicker and rest better.

5) Don’t eat or do exercises before going to bed. Your body needs time to digest food and calm down or relax after exercise.

Daily Prompt: We Can Be Taught

Here is my take on yesterday’s daily prompt from the Daily Post.

What makes a teacher great? Almost everyone you ask will have a different answer for this question. It is difficult to pin point the exact characteristics that make a  teacher great. If people could agree on this then there would be more great teachers. Teaching is a demanding profession that requires dedication, hard work, passion and a commitment to students. Many people can become good teachers but it is much more difficult to move into the category of a great teacher. However, there are five characteristics that are found in good teachers.

Communication – It is essential to communicate your ideas clearly and explain the tasks so that students understand. This requires thinking about what you want your students to do and the means to do it. And it also requires that you listen to your students and understand the difference between what they say and what they mean. If you can relate your vision to your students then everyone will be working towards the same goal.

Patience – It is necessary to deal with misfortune, difficulty, and annoyances without complaining, losing one’s temper or showing irritation. Good teachers are understanding and patient with their students. No matter how many mistakes students make or how many times they need to explain the same thing they do it with enthusiasm. The great thing about teaching in Oman is I get to practice this every single day.

Empathy – Good teachers recognize the value, importance and ability of each student. To have empathy you have to understand your students and their perspective. All students learn differently and in order to completely empathize with them you need to put yourself in their seats. I teach EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in Oman. English grammar and spelling rules that seem simple and straightforward to me offer many challenges for Arab speakers. They thrive in an oral culture; they love to chat, but many students struggle with the written language. In fact, many of them dislike writing. So, when I select writing topics for my class I ask myself one question. Can I do this in German? This has helped me to select more appropriate topics for my students because if I can’t do it in a second language then I shouldn’t expect them to do it.

Positive Attitude – Good teachers maintain a positive attitude even on tough days. Teachers have to be flexible and ready for schedule changes, discipline issues, challenging material, unmotivated students, demanding supervisors or complaining colleagues. There are days when everything goes wrong and teachers who can perform on these days are the ones who can make a positive impact on learners.

Teach by doing – It is not enough to explain new ideas or concepts. Good teachers demonstrate by bringing examples into the classroom. They draw pictures or diagrams and find other creative ways to share knowledge and facilitate learning. They encourage their students to take risks, accept mistakes and push them to overcome setbacks.

Lastly, I would like to be a good teacher and I constantly strive to improve and learn from my colleagues, supervisors and most importantly from my students. However, in all honesty, teaching is a job and not a passion for me. Thus, I will never be a great teacher.

The Bench

Daily Post Writing 101: Day 2 Challenge

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

This morning as I left my flat and stepped outside into the stifling temperature of a late spring morning in Oman I felt the beads of sweat slowly dripping from my forehead, down my checks onto the ground. I did not complain, knowing that upon my arrival at work, I would step inside a building, and receive a blast of freezing cold air.

Fifteen minutes later, I found myself slowly strolling to my office as my body adjusts to the drastic change in temperature. I turned on my computer, scanned my email and discovered I have another day in my cubicle with an air conditioner directly above my space, blasting arctic air, for seven hours and no work-related tasks to do. I went for a tea to warm my body and checked this blog and it was then that I was transported to a bench in my back yard.

I am suddenly surrounded by a hundred different shades of green. The trees and shrubs are awake after a long cold winter. The trees speak in gentle voices as a soft breeze ruffles the new leaves. The sun sends warm rays down to the nature around me and dries the moist, morning dew that lingers on the bushes below. The gentle smell of damp earth fills the air and the songbirds sing pleasant melodies. The robins  prepare nests for the little ones while the cardinals, blue jays, moose birds and sparrows play amongst the branches of trees. The squirrels make funny noises and sprint up and down beautiful maple trees that stretch to the sky. My mind and my senses embrace the cool refreshing spring conditions of renewal and growth as the wind splashes my face with clean, unpolluted air giving me energy and hope for the day ahead.

Although I have had the opportunity to travel and work in many different and exotic places I have yet to encounter a place as wonderful as the bench in my back yard.  I am counting down the days until I can sit on the bench in my back yard again.