Saturday, March 31, 2012

March in review

Yes, I've made it this far...

March 31, Day 91. Decked out

When I grew up in Brisbane there was no such thing as a deck - verandas yes but decks no. But now the deck is often the best room in the house.
At our place, opening up the bi-fold doors and sitting on the deck overlooking the pool and the trees is about as good as life gets.
This morning we got to show off the house to my father-in-law Simon for the first time and naturally the first thing we did was go outside the house to the deck.
It's dead impressive when you've just come from an English winter.
What I love about this pic is the three generations of men just sitting and chewing the fat over a cuppa

Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30. Day 90. Fly away

Flies. I consider myself a summer person, embracing everything about the warm weather. Everything, that is, except flying insects.There are a lot of good public health reasons for hating flies but really when it comes down to it they are just seriously annoying.
The fly is always the uninvited and unwelcome guest at the barbecue. Take a prawn or a piece of meat from the fridge and swarms of flies seem to materialise from nowhere.They can spoil a picnic and even a nap can fall victim to a flying insect buzzing around your head.
Yes, there is so much beauty in life which can fall victim to the fly.
This photograph taken at West End this morning sums it up beautifully. What a delicate rose, its petals softly lit by the morning sun. It would be just beautiful except for the fly. Bloody typical.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29. Day 89. Hung out to dry

My family is either exceptionally clean or exceptionally dirty. We'd have to be very dirty to create the amount of washing we do. On the other hand, with the amount of washing we do, we must be exceptionally clean.
Of course when I say "we" do washing I am using the Royal We. We equals I, obviously. There's a fair bit of learned helplessness going on here - if I do it badly enough she won't ask again. Call me old fashioned but I do think pegs are a minimum requirement for hanging out washing. My husband disagrees. I don't think my son knows what a peg is.
But I digress. Washing. I think it breeds when I am not watching, which probably better than it breeding when I am watching because that would be just weird. The cycle of collecting clothes from the floor, loading the machine, hanging out, bringing in, folding and putting away is a bit like painting the Story Bridge - just as you finish it's time to start again.
It just makes me wonder how people survived when Monday was wash day. Perhaps they were just cleaner. Perhaps the were just dirtier.Whatever. Aren't we just so lucky to live in a time where we have been liberated by all these labour saving devices?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28. Day 88. Resistance is useless

I think it was 1979 or 1980 when I first started this diet. In the 32 years since I have probably lost 100 kilograms, perhaps more. That's not the issue. The issue is the 120 kilograms I have put on in this time.
Truth is I can resist anything but temptation.
Right now the good Susan it largely triumphing over the bad Susan. Weight is coming off rather than going on but it doesn't take much for the pendulum to swing back the other way.
So having a box of Freddo Frogs and Caramello Koalas sitting in my desk is cruel and unreasonable punishment. 
It is the curse of every parent - the fundraiser. When you have a school-aged child, life is an almost constant parade of swim-a-thons, treat stalls and pie drives.
I actually own this $48 box of chocolates because they had to be sold and the money returned by last week. The plan was to offload them at work but that hadn't happened by the deadline so naturally I paid for them myself. 
Eventually I will sell them, or give them away or eat them but right now they sit on the desk torturing me.
I understand that schools and community organisations need cash but I sometimes think that parents might prefer to just pay an additional levy rather than having to become a door-to-door salesman.
Personally, given the choice of selling or eating $48 worth of chocolate or paying $12 extra for each of the four terms of drama classes a year I'd pay up every time.
But perhaps that's just me. I might just ponder that some more over a Freddo Frog.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27. Day 87. Oliver!

Ask my son and he will tell you that he was born to be in musical theatre because he was named after a musical.
This isn't actually true. Oliver is just a name that both my husband and I liked and the fact that there happened to be a musical of the same name never crossed our minds.
Undeterred by the facts of history, Mr O is doing his best to be a role model Oliver. Like the musical "never before has a boy wanted more". But that's another story.
Anyway, he is always Oliver (or at homework time Oliver!with the exclamation mark, just like the musical) but never Ollie.
Believe it or not it never occurred to me that people would shorten it to Ollie but I hear it all the time from teachers and I think it sounds rather cute (not cute enough to make me want to use it, but cute just the same).
Of course I should have know that an Oliver would get Ollie just like Oliver Hardy who was always Ollie.
All of which leads me to today's picture taken from the wall of the Cement Box Theatre at St Lucia.
The block wall has been adorned with images of actors and productions and centre is this rather impressive Laurel and Hardy. It's perfect in the situation and given the chaotic nature of the images around it I don't think it would be out of place for Ollie to utter his signature line "that's another fine mess you've gotten me into". And that, too, reminds me of my Oliver.

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26. Day 86. Blame it on the alcohol

Teaching on a Monday morning is a challenge. Now I admit that there are few people who spring out of bed ready to embrace the new working week with full enthusiasm but trying to motivate a group of young adults after doubtless a big weekend (read bigger than mine) can present a particular challenge. In fact I have some groups that seriously remind me of store dummies - they look human but you don't get much response out of them. I could be wrong but I think that this line up of empty kegs under the University of Queensland Rec Club this morning provides a clue to where the issue lies.
Let's face it, university students drinking alcohol is hardly a new phenomenon. I could say that I never indulged in binge drinking as a university student but if I did you would have every right to say "liar, liar, pants are on fire".
In my defence, rarely did this happen on a Sunday night - mainly because I'd spent all my cash on Friday and Saturday. But today's student is more likely to work long hours and be more cashed up than in the past. The days of hanging around university's refectories is well and truly over. Now back in my day....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25. Day 85. I'm pumped

I am an all or nothing person. For 16 years I went to the gym every day. Well not every day but I didn't miss many. In fact I went into labour during an advanced step class. And then last May I stopped. My membership had expired, we'd moved and I couldn't really find a gym I liked and mostly I wasn't well and it wasn't always possible to get to the gym at dawn which realistically is the only time of day it could work for me. So I just stopped and instead took up walking - at least an hour a day, every day.
I really enjoy walking but have decided that may be, just may be, I could do both. Gym some days, walk some days. So I have a one month trial membership and yesterday I endured a cycle class and this morning it was Pump. I do rather like the loud pumping music. I like the group atmosphere and I know my dietitian will approve because the subject of resistance training has been raised more than one.
So right now I feel pumped. It remains to be seen how I will feel when I can't get out of bed in the morning.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24. Day 84. Polling day

While I fully support the system of compulsory voting we have in Australia, in a way it makes no sense to me.
I can not for the life of me work out why you would have to be compelled to vote. One of the great strengths of a democracy is that you can vote without fear of favour. Yes, no matter who you vote for a politician always gets elected. Yes, in some ways they are all a bit the same. But in my opinion if you choose not to vote, you lose your right to complain when the government makes decisions you don't agree with.
Today I was voting in the South Brisbane electorate for the first time so I went on a walking tour to the six polling booths closest to my house just to see where the best sausage sizzles, cake stalls and coffee vans were.
Don't worry. I only actually voted once at Brisbane State High School. Here's what I saw.
For the record, my favourite booth was St Francis Church on Dornoch Terrace where there was a great little market happening and I picked up a $25 book of short stories for 50 cents. The prize for the best catering went to West End State School which had Haloumi, tomato and rocket rolls on the menu.

Friday, March 23, 2012

March 23. Day 83. Hello Possum

Live in this part of the world and you get used to it. There's a large thud on the roof followed by scurrying overhead. At times I feel like we live on Possum Parade, a well worn path between the street and the gully behind. Borrowing from Australian children's author Mem Fox, there's a little bit of magic about possums. Of course, it is a completely different story if the possum is in the roof cavity and running across the ceiling not the iron. I clearly remember the battle we had to get one out of the roof when I was growing up and then to find and seal the hole where it had entered. 
A possum in the ceiling equals very disrupted sleep. I can still picture my Dad and neighbour John,  hessian sack, noose and torch in hand climbing through the man hole for the great possum removal mission. Eventually the neighbours prevailed. Eventually.
Thankfully we don't have possums in the ceiling but on very wet nights like last night, the possums do favour a little spot sheltered on a beam on the corner of the deck. This little fellow arrived just after 9pm and made himself at home. This photo was taken just after midnight just so it could be "today's" photo

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 22. Day 82. Dumb and dumber

I probably shouldn't dignify this behaviour by photographing it but it does give me an excuse to rant about something that seriously gets on my goat - hoons. I am sure whoever decided to carve up the parkland just under the Eleanor Schonell Bridge thinks he (and statistics will show it was most likely a he) is seriously cool.
The rest of us know that this is the work of someone with a small brain and an even smaller....
Driving dangerously is not cool, ever, but try telling that to many young drivers. Testosterone seems to be a powerful driver (pun intended), something that worries me greatly as the mother of a male now less than three years short of being eligible for a driver's licence. (Gulp)
This is why I think it might be time to bring back the controversial campaign involving waving a pinkie at a hoon driver.
Hard to know if it works but it has to be worth a go. Tearing up grass may not be the end of the world but driving this way could just be the end of someone's world - and it might not be the person behind the wheel.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March 21. Day 81. My ABC

It's with me in bed when I wake up in the morning. It drives to work with me and accompanies me on my morning walk. I love my ABC and I especially love 612 ABC Radio Brisbane. I know I am not alone. 
I also know that I am very privileged to be able to have my voice heard on the ABC airwaves. Once a week for more than 10 years I have turned up in the Brisbane studios and talked about all things relating to children and families. For most of that time Spencer Howson has been the man on the other side of the desk and this photo was taken of Mr Howson doing his ratings-winning stuff this morning. 
As a former print journalist and someone who teaches journalism as my "day job", all this is, off course, of great professional interest but let's face it it's also great fun. One day, when I grow up, I think radio producing might be something I would enjoy and could be good at. That said, I'm in no hurry to grow up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 20. Day 80. There's no place like home

Have you ever wondered what the job description of a mother would look like? Carer, cook, cleaner, counsellor, nurse, mediator, teacher and so it goes. You wear as many hats as there are hours (sometimes minutes) in a day.
Today my duty statement fell loosely into the category of costume creator. My brief: "I have to present a monologue given by Mark Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. In costume."
I am not sure what surprised me more: that they present Shakespearean monologues in Year 9 or that I was told about this on Tuesday when the piece of assessment isn't until Thursday. I am sure many a parent will relate when I say such pieces of information are generally delivered the second the shops close on the night before the due date - if you are lucky.
I am a mother of many talents (she says with her tongue very firmly in her cheek) but my skill set does not include sewing (she says absolutely truthfully).
So off to the costume shop I go. Sometimes throwing money at the problem is the only way to preserve your sanity. Anyway, while I was there I was taken by row after row of ruby slippers. Apparently there are plenty of Wizard of Oz fans out there (or Wicked if you prefer and I do prefer). Hard to resist a pair of ruby slippers.
Now close your eyes and tap your heels together three times and think to yourself, "there's no place like home" - even if home is where the homework is.

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19. Day 79. The flu shot

Some people will do anything for a free lollipop. Today I had my annual flu shot and because I was a good girl that means a free lollipop. My employer offers flu shots for free so every year I line up to be jabbed although honestly I do question whether it is worth the effort. I wonder if anyone has done a public health study comparing the cost of mass vaccination versus the cost of days lost to flu with a largely unvaccinated staff.
Anyway, I'm protected for another year. Are you?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18. Day 78. Animal attraction

I don't do cats. If the world is divided into cat people and dog people I am 100% in the dog camp.
Try telling the cat which this morning jumped off a fence, walked across the footpath to where I stood and starting rubbing itself up against my leg.
It clearly didn't know that I don't like cats (actually it probably did know. It just didn't care. That's part of the cat thing. Dogs will do anything they can to please you. Cats will do whatever it takes to please themselves).
And then, having tired of my leg, the cat walked off again. Okay then.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March 17. Day 77. Welcome home

I think there is a moment in every woman's life when she becomes her mother. Today may have just been that day. It starts gradually. You start hearing words coming out of your mouth that you would swear could be your Mum's. You notice you have some of the same mannerisms and habits. And then somehow slowly the roles reverse. You are more likely to be the one giving the advice not asking for it. You are likely to be the one making the travel arrangements not the one just turning ready to be led around.You will be the driver not the passenger. And today I was the one collecting the world traveller from the airport and not the one with the new stamps in the passport returning from an adventure. And not only that I was the one desperately worried when the traveller wasn't on the flight as expected. The one pacing the floor. The one thinking I should start ringing around friends to see if anyone had heard from her. Naturally it was just a communication error and all was good. I was so relieved she was alive and then I wanted to kill her for doing that to me - yes the roles have indeed reversed.
Of course I am delighted to have her back and I may not be a child any more but I still need my Mum. Plus, just like a child, I couldn't wait for her to unpack to see what she'd bought me.
Welcome home Mum.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 16. Day 76. Good things come in small packages

The thing about working in a university with offerings as diverse as the one that pays my wages is that you never know what you will find should you venture to an unfamiliar part of the campus. Or if you get lost (which I do frequently even though I have been located at the same campus for something like eight years). Someone has developed a phone app called Lost on Campus that helps you navigate around Australian university campuses. I just download that. Anyway, today I was in H block (near E, L and Y blocks but nowhere near G or I blocks hence my navigational issues). H Block is the home of Visual Arts and as such visual artists use the spaces to display their works. Mounted on the floor, wall and roof was a collection of small cardboard boxes. The boxes were identical and all hanging open. I presume this is a piece of installation art and not the remnants of someone unpacking. Perhaps it is a comment on our disposable society. Whatever. It caught my attention. It made me stop and look. It made me think so I suspect it served its purpose. On balance I like it a lot although I confess there would be words exchanged if there were this many empty boxes strewn around my son's bedroom. There it would be considered not art but mess.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15. Day 75. Jolly Roger

I am sure I am not the only one who dreams of what I would do (or more often not do) if I won the lottery.
First in the frame is work. I think I could give it up in a heartbeat but the truth is I would miss it. I wouldn't miss marking and meetings for a second but I would miss the people. I work - and have worked - with some great people. I have also worked with people I would walk (no run) to the other side of the road to avoid but that's another story and good taste plus the defamation laws prevent me from going further down that track.
Today, I was able to share lunch with one of the good guys, my former work colleague Roger Patching. Roger is always great company and it would be hard to come up with people you'd rather meet up with for a meal than Roger and his wife Jenny (unfortunately Jenny wasn't in town today).
Rog will turn 68 tomorrow so there was cake and candles plus a chance to find out how his research is going.
Honestly, you have to admire a man who, rather than spend his retirement sunning himself on the beach of the Gold Coast where he lives, Roger is powering through a PhD.
So while I dream of finding a way to do nothing, Roger has earned that right already and rejected it as an option. Perhaps when the thesis is finished mid year. Somehow, I doubt that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14. Day 74. I'm melting

Welcome to the classroom of 2012. Once upon a time we had blackboards and then we got all flash and installed whiteboards. These days I teach in a Media Equipped Lecture Theatre or a MELT and my lecture today was in the very latest, most recent upgrade version of  the lecture theatres.
On the console, we have an Ipod dock, a document projector and a lectern mic or a wireless lapel mic if you prefer. Under the desk there is a computer and every form of media player I could want plus devises to project from my laptop or tablet computer.
The interactive whiteboard allows me to save or print what I write on it because let's face it we wouldn't want any of that gold lost to humanity. 
And just so I know the students are at least awake, I can bring in keypads so they can vote on a question I pose just like the audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Forget putting your hands up if you have a question. I may include a scroll bar at the bottom of my presentation taking a live Twitter feed.
I will stare out into a room of students not writing notes on paper but typing on laptops most of which have a picture of a piece of fruit on the front. And so no-one powers down, there is a power socket under every seat. Yep, dead impressive but you know what no amount or technology will cover for a crap lecture. Content is still Queen but that doesn't mean gadget girl can't have a bit of fun with the toys while getting the message across.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13. Day 73. The long and the short of it

The first real sign of autumn was in the air as I set out for my walk this morning. It was noticeably cooler and the sun was much lower in the sky.
I hate winter so this is something most unwelcome but I have to say the shadow created as I walked across the Eleanor Schonell Bridge was most impressive. I always wanted to be tall and thin. Mind you the blinding sun in my eyes on the return journey was less impressive. How long until Spring?

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12. Day 72. Tea time

Remember when tea was just tea? The choices were limited. Cup or pot? White or black? One spoon or two?
Today I found myself in not one but two tea shops in the City and the array of choices was dazzling. Hundreds of types of tea and the most gorgeous and extravagant tea pots and cups.
And why should the English and the Irish be the only ones with their own breakfast tea? I could have bought Brisbane Breakfast Tea (black tea with mango) or Melbourne Breakfast Tea (black tea with vanilla) or dozens of others (I stopped asking after that).
Too many choices. Not enough time (or money). The whole experience left me a little overwhelmed. Perhaps a Bex, a cup of tea and a little lie down is in order.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 11. Day 71. The three-legged race

The river front at West End is one of my favourite places to go for the morning walk so when a flyer arrived in the email inbox announcing a community celebration welcoming more park in the area I was on it.
A section of Riverside Drive has been closed and more park created and no local councillor is going to let that go unnoticed (especially with local government elections only weeks away).
So egg and spoon and three-legged races, best dressed dog competitions, bike obstacle courses, music, coffee and a brunch barbecue were the order of the day.
I really enjoy a three-legged race although I fully admit to being absolutely crap at them. Today I left it to the kids. I love how these two little blokes are working together. Great brotherly love.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 10. Day 70. When Irish Eyes are Smiling

There's a lot of Irish in my ancestry. In fact, on my bookshelf there is a book called from County Clare to Queensland documenting my mother's family voyage from Ireland to Australia. Despite this I have never been to the annual St Patrick's Day Parade in Brisbane - until today. The city was a sea of green and there was a real buzz as the floats, pipers and dancers prepared themselves to march through the streets.
Still I find it very Irish that although St Patrick's Day is next weekend the parade was today under the rule that the parade is on the Saturday before the day itself (I think "normal" people would interpret that as applying when March 17 falls between weekends but anyway).
Most impressive was although the crowd was large, everyone was happy and good natured with no pushing or shoving which can happen as people jostle for vantage points. Irish eyes were smiling.

Friday, March 9, 2012

March 9. Day 69. As You Like It

I love theatre, but I am not the type to go out of my way to see Shakespeare. In fact, for much of my life I have avoided The Bard basically because of bad high school experiences.
La BoƮte has gone a long way to overcome that with modern, relevant exciting takes on Shakespeare. I am a convert.
The crowds flocking to the theatre suggest I am not alone. As my office and the theatre share the same coffee shop, I see the excitement in the crowds of school students as they leave the theatre. Someone has even decided to enhance the theatre poster of the current production As You Like It by sticking a lollipop on Orlando's mouth.
I am not sure if this poster is someone's comment on how tasty the current production is but I do appreciate the touch.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March 8. Day 68. Glossing over the past

Remember when pharmacies sold drugs and not much more than drugs? Remember when you might buy Band Aids or jelly beans at the pharmacy but the humble chemist shop was not where you went for cosmetics, diet products, gifts, shoes, soft drink, chocolate, jewellery or sunglasses. I was pondering that as I waited in the pharmacy this morning for a prescription to be filled. This tray of lip gloss attracted my attention as I stood there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March 7. Day 67. The handyman can

I don't think my husband would object to me saying that he isn't very handy when it comes to things around the house - neither of us is.
In fact, I think our total household tool kit may consist of a hammer, a screwdriver and a pair of pliers - that's it. If there's a spot of home maintenance to be done, there's a man you can hire to deal with it.
But I do admire people who know how to fix things. And I am dead impressed by those who can fix things on the run so this Community Bike Repair Station at South Bank attracted my attention. Given the popularity of cycling in our city, the fact that a bike repair station has been set up in such a public space is an awesome initiative even if there is no chance I will ever have cause to use it

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 6. Day 66. Kept in the dark and fed on sh*t

After the rain, the mushrooms come...
While life is too short to stuff a mushroom, life shouldn't be too short to stop and admire the mushrooms when they spring up. I found this cluster very attractive.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5. Day 65. Cemetery at dawn

For an hour this morning a battle raged between Good Susan and Bad Susan. Good Susan thought she should embrace the day, spring out of bed and go for her walk. Bad Susan argued that it was tipping down outside and that any attempt to climb out from under the doona would be foolhardy in the extreme. Good Susan won. The delay in reaching an agreement meant it had to be a fairly short walk which had me walking through the Dutton Park Cemetery just after 6am. A soaked cemetery just after dawn is a sombre yet beautiful place to be. The reflections off the marble were incredible. Hopefully this image does it justice.

* Although the image speaks for itself I played with the ColorSplash app. For those not familiar, this allows you to convert a colour image to black and white leaving just one section in its original state for emphasis. I think it was particularly effective in this case

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4. Day 64. Life's a beach

“We all leave footprints in the sand, the question is, will we be a big heal, or a great soul.”

If  I win the lottery, a somewhat unlikely proposition given that I never buy a ticket, I would buy a penthouse right on the beach on the Gold Coast. I love the Coast. I love walking on the beach. I love just watching the sea. I love listening  to the waves crash on to the shore and swimming in the ocean is good for the soul. A mini break at Broadbeach this weekend was just what the doctor ordered. Yesterday the weather was crap but today the weather gods were indeed smiling. A day that incluedes a walk on the beach, a family putt putt challenge, a swim in the ocean and an afternoon nap, it doesn't get much better than that. This picture was taken just before I was soaked by a rogue wave.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March 3. Day 63. I can jump puddles

I was so excited at the prospect of a weekend on the Gold Coast. All week it had been stinking hot and yesterday was 32 degrees. But when I woke in the Broadbeach unit ready for a delicious early morning walk along the beach it was raining. Later it was pouring. When it did break early in the afternoon Mr O and I headed to a rather lovely beachfront park. There were puddles aplenty to dodge and a wet bum on the equipment was a given but it was worth it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

March 2. Day 62. Row, row, row your boat

I am very glad my son is an arty type whose extra curricular activities are generally after school or at night: drama, singing lessons, debating, book club all after school. This is reinforced when my walk takes me down to the river at West End in the very early morning where the school rowing teams are out in force. From before dawn they are there and at times it seems busier than central station. This morning it was going off. There were rowers everywhere and much, much shouting as the crews went through their paces on the water. Obviously not all the boats were on the water. I was particularly taken by this formation of boats outside one of the school sheds.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1. Day 61. Swinging

Remember when the suburbs were full of these: swings made from rope with a plank or a tyre and not much else. Big back yards with big trees and treehouses and swings. That's not to say that today's kids don't have swings and treehouses. Of course they do but they are all bright and shiny and plastic or made from treated pine. This swing on a footpath under a big tree at West End is a relic from a former age. It looks like it has been a little while since a child's bottom has sat there but I like the fact that it is still there as a reminder of the way things were.