Saturday, June 30, 2012

June in review

June 30. Day 182. Nobody puts baby in the corner

The corner. It can mean so many things. Some good. Some not so good.
On the negative side, you don't want to be backed into a corner. Naughty kids have to stand in the corner and when you start cutting corners, only bad things are likely to result.
But the corner office - the one with windows on two sides - is a sign you've made it and when you've turned the corner, things are looking up.
I was at The Corner today. This Corner is a special place within the State Library of Queensland especially for kids aged under 8.
Books, craft, dress ups and so much more to allow creative minds to grow.
There I met Harry, aged 3, who was turning his superpowers to making a movie.
With an Ipad, puppets, dress ups and backdrops, children as young as Harry show that adults haven't cornered the market when it comes to creative talent
And given he's wearing a Super Man cape, nobody's going to put that baby in the corner.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29. Day 181. Laugh, Kookaburra laugh

When I was a child my mother told me that if a Kookaburra laughed it meant someone had wet the bed.
So if I heard the distinctive Kooraburra cackle, I'd spend the day looking around trying to spot the bed wetter.
Clearly the kookaburra has a wicked sense of humour.
The fact is, it's hard to hear that laugh and not get a smile on your face. It's totally infectious.
Mind you, this bloke didn't seem to think it was much of a laughing matter when a Noisy Miner flew in and took up a perch on the electric wire right beside him this morning.
He (or perhaps she. Kookaburra sexing is not one of my specialist subjects) took off with great haste.
Or perhaps Mr Kookaburra has heard the childhood spoof song:
Kookaburra sits on electric wire, 
jumping up and down with his pants on fire.
 Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, 
Kookaburra. Hot your pants must be
Or maybe the Kookaburra took off because he decided Queensland wasn't the place to live right now. After all we all know Kookaburra, gay your life must be....
Now that's no laughing matter

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28. Day 180. Full to overflowing

It just feels plain wrong. I hate it.
In fact I almost have an anxiety attack at the thought of it.
Yes, today I had to let water out of the swimming pool. After all those years of drought, all those years where we timed showers, resisted flushing all but solids and let gardens wilt and die, the idea of letting water run down the drain is completely abhorrent.
Even the horrendous floods of last year were not enough to erase the dread of drought.
But hating the idea of drought strangely doesn't translate into loving rain.
Rain on the tin roof at night is a pleasure. The smell of an afternoon storm blowing in is a delight but days of endless rain are just plain annoying. The washing piles up. Outdoor activities are out of the question and every time you get in the car you feel like you are playing a game of Russian roulette as people seem to forget the road rules and throw common sense out the window.
Also, the new hair cut I spent a fortune on today got rained on and ruined within seconds of leaving the hairdresser. The fact that I stood in the rain to take this photo of the rain drops in the hairdresser's garden may or may not have had a bit to do with that. It has to be said the rain looks more fetching on the twig than it does on my hair.
But worse is that it is just plain depressing. I'm SAD, by which I don't mean unhappy but suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I need the sun. I hope Annie was right "The sun'll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun!"

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27. Day 179. No sign of Spring

I love the movie Groundhog Day. Partly this is related to my love of chick flicks and this is a classic. And any movie that includes Sonny and Cher's  I've Got You Babe has got to score points. But it's not just that. Nor is it just that The Bill Murray learns to speak French, ice sculpt and play the piano to get the girl.
No, I love the idea of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, who comes out of hibination every February 2 and if he doesn't like the weather he heads back into the cave. Quite simply, if there's no sun he's out of there. Spring is not here yet.
That's an awesome concept. Humans are supposedly the top of the evolutionary tree but we just endure winter. Birds with brains much smaller than ours fly out to warmer climates in the winter. And there are other mammals who just take to the cave and stay there for the winter. At this time of year I want to be a bear. I want to retreat to a cave and not come out until it's Spring. Spring. Today Spring felt a very long way off. Cold and very bleak and no cave anywhere to retreat into. All that could be done was eat soup and wear thick socks.
But I did see one sign of Spring, a street sign to be exact. Someone has decided to decorate the sign where Spring Street meets Boundary Street at West End with springs. I think it looks rather cool but I doubt it would be enough to convince Punxsutawney Phil that Spring had arrived.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26. Day 178. Fine?! No, it's not fine at all.

Ah Queensland. Beautiful one day, Perfect the next. That's what the marketing campaign says and that's what those of us from this part of the world have come to expect. So what do you call this then?
Apparently we are gripped by the worst cold spell in years. Four whole days where it hasn't reached 20 degrees. Okay, in world terms. that's laughable. But I have chosen not to live in those places for a reason.
Winter in Brisbane can be cold at night and in the morning and those Ekka winds can bite but generally we come to expect beautiful blue skies. Find a sheltered spot in the sun and it's beautiful. But today was cold and wet and decidely bleak. What's that about?
The rain meant that New Farm Park, which would normally have been packed with families enjoying the school holidays, was almost deserted today.
But two-year-old James had his frog umbrella for protection and was making the best of it. Yeah well, you'd have to be a frog to enjoy this.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25. Day 177. Jumping through hoops

Remember the promises of the paperless office? What a load of old #$%^& that was.
It seems to me that while there may have been a very slight reduction in the use of dead trees there has been a huge upturn in the amount of "paperwork". And while the mountain of paperwork continues to grow there does seem to have been a reduction in the people whose specific job it is to fill in the forms. That wonderful duty seems to have been devolved back to other parts of the organisation in the name of efficiency. So we all get to share the love or jump through the compliance hoops depending on which way you look at it.
I've been jumping through the hoops trying to get through a mountain of paperwork presented at this time of year. The juggle is made just that bit more complicated by the fact that it's school holidays. Mind you, I could continue to work completely without interference if I was prepared to let the teenager maintain his preferred position in the cave of his bedroom with a laptop.
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. At home, as in at work, there are compliance standards that need to be met. Exercise and light that doesn't come from a computer monitor are non negotiable occupational health and safety standards here. What form that takes, the teenager may decide.
Shooting hoops in the back yard is often the activity of choice.
Mr O has long loved the basketball hoop. We had a free standing one at our old place and one of the first things we did when we moved here was install this one in its current location.
So today we were both negotiating hoops one way or another. Doesn't take much guessing who was having the better time.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24. Day 176. The kindness of strangers

I was stopped at traffic lights today when a woman passenger in the car behind got out ran up and told me I had a flat tyre. I thought "%^*&@$" but thanked her because this stranger had made the effort to alert me and not knowing in this situation could be far worse than knowing. I drove around the corner to a service station and before I could even ponder how I would tackle the task ahead of me a bloke came up and asked would I like a hand changing the tyre. Would I? Hell yeah. David, Dave my new buddy, didn't "help" change the tyre. He totally changed the tyre while I looked on sort of pretending I could do something productive. When the job was done Dave would take nothing in return. He and his wife simply drove away. A random and totally appreciated act of kindness from a stranger.
With air in my sails and in my tyre I headed off to the World Refugee Day community festival.
There in a park in Annerley thousands of people were gathered to thank those who made strangers from strange lands feel comfortable in Brisbane. And for native Brisbane-ites like myself to recognise the huge contribution refugees have made to this city
Today's photo is of Sharon Were who was volunteering in the Kenyan Association tent.
Sharon did not come to Australia as a refugee. She came as a student studying microbiology and now Brisbane is her adopted home.
She explained that during a celebration like today's it was important that people from Africa come out, fly the flag and offer support regardless of how they came to be in this country. You can't argue with that.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23. Day 175. The people you meet

People are endlessly fascinating. I love taking up a position in a street side cafe and just indulging in a spot of people watching.
But the real joy comes in speaking to people and finding out their stories. When I first meet a new batch of journalism students they seem slightly horrified about approaching strangers and asking them personal questions. I promise them, truthfully, that actually most people love a chat. You just need to be polite and interested.
Just after 7am this morning I met a fascinating bloke cooking up breakfast on the barbecue near the West End ferry terminal. He had a nice face so instead of the normal "Hi" that everyone on the path exchanges I stopped.
Leong Lau was cooking up a huge pot of lamb stew while listening to music and working on his lap top.
He told me that his day would then involve yoga and then he'd get down to work on the production he was working on.
It's a rock musical, he said, and then he rolled off the names of all the countries he'd been in recently collecting bird sounds for the piece. Look me up on You Tube he said and then happily posed for a photograph provided I promised to email him one.
Turns out that Leong Lau is a very accomplished Indonesian Australian musician best known for his '70s albums Dragon Man and That Rongeng Sound. He was mostly a tenor sax player but now the trumpet is his thing.
The rock musical will be called Monkey and Leong says it will "ravage the entertainment industry worldwide for generations to come".
Fascinating. But he would have been the guy with the nice face wearing the beanie had I not bothered to stop.
You never know unless you ask.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22. Day 174. Removing the dead wood

Today a medical specialist looked me in the eye and told me I needed a holiday, or at least weekend away.
I guess that's not unusual. We all live busy lives and burn the candle at both ends and some times you need to just cut away the dead wood so you can bloom again.
What was unusual about this diagnosis was that I wasn't actually the patient. I was just there in a support role and after he'd dealt with the official business at hand he turned his attention my way and said I really needed to take care of myself as well.
In part I love him for that but in part I'm thinking "My God do I really look that bad?" Apparently so. A bit of a wake-up call.
So I did the only thing a girl can do. I booked an appointment at the hairdresser and then went home and had a little lie down. I will also work on the getaway plan.
So here's today's photo from my walk this morning. This was taken in the mangrove swamps by the edge of the Brisbane River near QUT Gardens Point. The dead wood has been cut away so that it can come back stronger and more invigorated. May it please be so.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21. Day 173. Go ahead and jump

In a former like as an editor of a parenting magazine, I wrote a feature about the dangers of trampolines.
Injury experts filed my head with statistics about broken bones and even about small boys losing a scrotum after coming off and landing spread-eagled between the bars or springs.
It rather put me off trampolines - until we bought one. We put in heavy duty mats and put in place strict rules restricting use to one child at a time and there were no injuries. It was totally the best thing we ever bought. It was well used and well loved and a great source of exercise or sometimes just a nice shady place under the tree to read a book or chill.
We've moved and no longer have a trampoline but the kids across the road do and they use it all the time. This is five-year-old Kirralee showing off her stuff. Brilliant

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20. Day 172. Ice, Ice Baby

As  a teenager I had the worst hardware imaginable to straighten my teeth. There was so much that I couldn't safely travel close to a magnet and hope to be able to walk away. We are talking serious orthodontics. Frankly I think less engineering is required to hold up your average high rise building.
And then, after the worst 18 months of my life (or at least that's how my teenaged self saw it), the braces were removed. The next day I went ice skating and I was totally crap at it. My poor mother watched from the sidelines as I desperately tried to break something and it seemed the newly straighted and very expensive teeth looked like they would be first to go. Fortunately I survived and had a really great time.
Back then there were a number of ice skating rinks in Brisbane - now there are only two at least for most of the year.
But right now the Winter Festival is on in Brisbane and King George Square right outside City Hall is  home to an ice skating rink. Okay, it's not exactly the Rockefeller Center but it looked like a truck load of fun.
These three girls really reminded me of me (except for the lack of braces). Not one of them is likely to pose a threat to Torvill and Dean but my goodness they were giving it a good go and having a great time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19. Day 171. Uphill climb

A family friend starts just about every conversation with "How's the struggle?"
Truth is some days it can seem like a bit of an uphill climb. This is not my favourite time of year. It's winter. It's cold and the clock is ticking until the final deadline for exam results to be submitted. Yes, it's marking season and every day I feel like I am staring up at a steep rock face that has to be conquered. All you can do is strap yourself in and haul yourself up. It's exhausting.
The only way to stay sane is to make sure you build in time to remove yourself from it, step outside and take a good long walk to clear the head.
That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Today's photo was taken on one such walk to the Kangaroo Point Cliffs where I watched the rock climbers.
I can so relate. Okay, I do not have to actually to lift my entire body weight in assignments, which is just as well given my body weight, but it does feel like a monumental effort. And I don't have a safety rope.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18. Day 170. Hey Fella, you're a Turkey

It is tragically unAustralian to say so but I don't think I've ever seen a Mad Max movie, at least not all the way through.
Despite this I have a large series of quotes from Mad Max movies floating around in my head.
That there is Cundalini... and Cundalini wants his hand back! 
A fella a quick fella might have a weapon under there. l'd have to pin his head to the panel.
But my favourite was Hey fella! You're a turkey, you know that? We now recite that one every time we see a bush turkey in the street which is several times a day. There are LOTS of them, like this fella strolling across the road this morning.
All of this Mad Max stuff is my brother Michael's fault. He was a huge Mad Max fan and he used to recite huge chucks of it over and over again. Some of it is still in my head. It's funny how quotes from a movie I have never seen stick and things I desperately try to remember seem to want to get away faster than a turkey at Thanksgiving.
Mind you, the head space given to Mad Max is nothing compared with the original Star Wars. That one, used to be not just recited but acted out complete light sabre noises.
He doesn't like you. I don't like you either. You just watch yourself. We're wanted men. I have the death sentence on twelve systems. I'll be careful. 
You'll be dead!
This little one's not worth the effort. Come, let me get you something.

No blasters! No blasters! 

Quite honestly you'd have to be a real turkey commit that to memory but hey fella, I'm a turkey, you know that?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17. Day 169. Nightmare

I've been having the same bad dream since early childhood, the nightmare where you find yourself in public still dressed in your jammies.
I think this dream can be traced back to kindy. As a big girl I was in the three-day group while my younger sister, Lisa, being such as baby at a whole 18 months younger than me, was in the two-day group. One day, Mum took me still in the PJs when she was dropping off my sister. I was seen by the teachers. Oh the horror.
I've had variations of  that dream since. Turning up at school, at work, probably even at my wedding in my pyjamas.
I'm pretty sure the dream analysts say this dream is all about feeling unprepared or out of place or something. Yeah, whatever. I reckon it's just about flannelette not being appropriate outside the house.
These days I try to buy pyjamas that look a bit like shorts and a T shirt or a track suit to minimise the mental scarring if I get sprung taking out the bin or emptying the mail box.
It would appear I shouldn't worry. Going out in public in your pyjamas is in, apparently, according to what I read in the media. And just a couple of days ago I saw a woman at the service station at about 8pm wearing not only the flannelette  PJs but also the pink plush dressing gown and furry slippers. Personally I still think this is something only fit for the bedroom.
I now know there are others that also believe pyjamas are strictly for the privacy of one's home. At the Out of the Box Festival today I watched busking duo Glen and Ben, dressed in PJs and carrying teddy bears and pillows, working the crowd.
The kids were shrieking things such as "Look Mum, they're in their pyjamas". Yep just wrong. Pictured is Ben running off. I think he's just realised he forgot to get dressed before leaving the house.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16. Day 168. Bored games

As I type, school holidays have been underway in this house for 21 hours 12  minutes and 16 seconds. This means I probably have less than three hours until the first "I'm bored" is uttered. Apart from "are we there yet?" and "Why", the chant of "I'm bored" is as predictable as it is annoying. It also seems to bear absolutely no relationship to the number of entertainment possibilities on offer.
Things with buttons and batteries can deliver some relief but often the solution is to be found in the good old fashioned games cupboard. We do love a board game in this house. So much fun to be had right there. The games cupboard doesn't get opened as often as it should and we always wonder why when we do get around to family games night.
It is great to see that the good old fashioned games never really go out of fashion.
Today at the Out of the Box Festival for children the giant games were out and the kids were having a great time playing Dominoes, Checkers and Connect 4. Enjoying a classic game of Dominoes Falling was three-year-old Holly. Yep, hours of fun right there and not a battery in sight.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15. Day 167. Spinning a yarn

You've got to love someone who can spin a good yarn. Today I met Knitted Nancy the creation of Penelope Lowther a circus performer, puppeteer, visual artist and all round story teller.
Nancy is a real character who today at the Out of the Box Festival was a bit like the Pied Piper, where she went a tribe of children couldn't help but follow.
At first it was the costume that drew the kids in. Not everyone can get away with wearing an outfit that looks part rug, part tea cosy and part doily. Nancy looked like she had climbed out of Women's Weekly craft book from the 1960s.
But once Nancy had their attention she became something of a magician pulling not a rabbit out of a hat but all manner of knitted creatures from secret pockets or patches on her dress. So many pockets, so many creatures to reveal.
Then she started spinning her yarns and when Knitted Nancy spoke the kids listened. Really who could fail to listen to someone who looks like her headwear is fashioned on one of those knitted dolls you used to see covering spare toilet rolls?
"Lady" Penelope says her aim is to celebrate the absurdity of life. I love her for that. OK, wearing a knitted cosy is not my cup of tea but not taking yourself too seriously, being able to spin a good yarn and having people hang on your every word, I'll drink to that.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14. Day 166. The calm before the storm

At 6.45am it was calm and quiet out the front of the Queensland Performing Arts Complex. The city looked almost like a cardboard cutout framed by the banner of the Out of the Box lighting rig. It was the calm before the storm. A moment of silence before the bus and train loads of school children arrived. It was beautiful.
I could never be an early childhood educator.
I love the innocence and enthusiasm of children. I admire their boundless energy and wish I could harness just a fraction of it. But they are exhausting and watching parents and teachers trying to herd them to events this week has made me glad I teach people old enough to open their own drink bottle.
Kids may be hard to control but this is what makes them so interesting as audience members. There's a real honesty about them. They will not clap politely if they are not enjoying the show. They fidget or wiggle. They want to go to the toilet. They whinge or simply turn away. They are a tough crowd - but a very rewarding one if you get it right. Everything I have seem at this year's 20th birthday Out of the Box Festival for Children suggests that the organisers have got it right. The enthusiasm was genuine - and loud. That's infectious. I love it but secretly confess to loving even more being able take it all  in without the soundtrack of childhood blaring out.

Review. Stradbroke Dreamtime

The children sit crossed legged on cushions on the floor around an upturned boat painted in traditional dot art. Three indigenous performers have then eating out of their hands as they tell them stories from "Aunty Kath" , the Aboriginal poet, author and artist who became Oodgeroo Noonuccal.
Stradbroke Dreamtime is a collection of stories of the then Kath Walker's early years growing up on Stradbroke Island. They hear about carpet snakes in the toilet and in the baby's crib, they hear about children being punished for being left handed and about traditional hunting and fishing.They hear songs and get to play the grasses and the trees and the birds. They seem totally engaged.
This production was created especially by QPAC and the Queensland Theatre Company for this year's Out of the Box Festival. It's an intimate work without the wizardry of performances in the larger performance spaces but it is well worth a look.
Verdict 4/5 stars. Recommended for children aged 4-8. 40 minute show.
 Stradbroke Dreamtime is playing at Studio 2 QPAC until Saturday. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 13. Day 165. We Built This City....

What parent hasn't invested a great deal of time, effort and most likely money on finding that perfect gift for a child only to find that the real interest is in the packaging and not what's inside?
New white goods will barely raise an eyebrow but the box? Why, there are hours of fun right there.
Yep, for fun you don't have to think outside the box you just have to think about the box.
This is what makes We Built This City such genius. Polygot Theatre has gathered together literally thousands of boxes and invited children in to play.
They get to construct buildings and tunnels, towers and cubbies and then they get to knock them down and start again. Really what could be more fun?
We Built This City is yet another completely awesome part of the Out of The Box Festival for Children.
It does cost ($15 per person) and for that you get not only between 40 and 50 minutes with the boxes but roving performers guiding the action as well. Not that many of the kids needed much encouragement. Their biggest problem was convincing Mum or Dad that they really didn't need "help". Why should the kids have all the fun? You are never too old to find fun in a box. Pictured here is four-year-old Mikaela who was enjoying the festival today with Mum and Grandma.

Photo: Courtesy of QPAC

Review: Me and My Shadow

What child hasn’t had fun playing with his or her shadow? But what if the shadow doesn’t behave? What if the moment you turn your back it isn’t doing exactly what you do but it’s being very naughty indeed? It’s mucking up? It’s moving and grooving? And not only that, your female shadow seems to have turned male. Such is the premise of Me and My Shadow the Patch Theatre Company’s performance at the Playhouse QPAC as part of the Out of the Box Festival.
This is a show of not so much smoke and mirrors but light and shade and in particular shadow. The audience at today’s performance was going off showing why this production won the 2011 Helpmann Award for Best Presentation for Children. In the end it’s an unlikely love story but one told with few words and a lot of silliness all set to an intriguing score. The kids loved it. Recommended for children aged 4-8.
Verdict 4/5 stars
Me and My Shadow is playing at the Playhouse QPAC until Sunday. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children. 

Photo courtesy of QPAC

Review: The Race For the Chinese Zodiac

Thirteen animals. Twelve places in the Chinese Zodiac. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac is a traditional Chinese Fable which this week is being played out  on the stage of the Concert Hall, QPAC, as part of the Out of the Box Festival.
Based on the children’s book by Gabrielle Wang this production is not so much a play as a story told to traditional music with a screen above the stage showing pages from the book. In some ways it is really not much more than a story telling like what you might see at a library or children’s bookshop BUT the traditional Chinese score performed live by the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble is haunting and beautiful and raises it to a whole new level. Not only that, the narrator/come performer completely captivates the children. As well as hearing the story, the children learn about the traditional Chinese instruments and learn  a little bit about the animal that represents them in the Chinese Zodiac. In the best children’s entertainment style are invited to perform as that animal. The kids loved it.

Race for the Chinese Zodiac is playing at the Concert Hall, QPAC until Friday. Tickets are adults $25 and children $20. Recommended for children aged 5-8.
Rating 3.5 stars out of  a possible 5

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12. Day 164. A Sticky situation

Right now I would love a child under the age of eight. This has nothing to do with the fact that toddler tantrums seem more attractive than teenage angst right now (although that's totally true if only because memories fade).
I want a child under the age of eight so I can fully enjoy the Out of the Box Festival.
It is a wonderful thing to live in a place that gives over its entire performing arts precinct to world class children's theatre and entertainment once every two years.
Out of the Box is a unparalleled celebration of children and the arts and I love it. I love it so much that I intend to visit most days during the five day festival and blog about the shows I see and people I meet.
Today was the opening day and my first point of call was Sticky, a giant maze constructed of sticky tape which invited children to go in and stick paper or anything else they fancied to the sides. It was so much fun.
Among those who were enjoying the maze was four-year-old Halle who was at Out of the Box with her mum Lizzy. Both were stuck on the attraction.
The Flying Orchestra: Image Courtesy of QPAC
 The Flying Orchestra - Review 
When adapting young adult or adult fiction for the stage or screen the challenge is usually what to leave out.

The Flying Orchestra: Review 

Adapting children’s books creates a different problem. How do you make a work that is perhaps only a couple of hundred words long into a full-length production?
Often the answer is to go the approach used in adapting Dr Seuss and to create a back story or embellish. The results are often not pretty.
The Flying Orchestra is not like that. The picture book by Queensland writer and illustrator Clare McFadden is simply brought to life.
“Some days are so windy that even the angels lose their balance... It’s always a day like this when the "flying orchestra" blows into town.
Using a dazzling array of puppetry in a variety of styles, musicians on stage, spectacular lighting and a production quality worthy of any other professional main stage production, The Flying Orchestra is a feast.
Most impressive is the use of combination masks/puppet heads and comic-like costumes that make the actors really feel like they have walked straight from the pages of a picture book.
The five-year-old and 10-year-old with me sat transfixed throughout.
This production, like many other works developed especially for Out of the Box, is destined to go places.
Verdict 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Flying Orchestra is at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until Sunday. Tickets Child/Student $20* Adult $25*

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11. Day 163. Throw me a Lifeline

Books can take you anywhere. Books can provide an education, an escape or the perfect procrastination.
A book is great on the beach or by the pool or filling in time on public transport. A book is very good in bed providing great action between the covers.
Yep, I love books and even though I consider myself a bit of a gadget girl I am very old school when it comes to books. I need an object to put on the bookshelf and I need to be able to turn pages and fold down corners.
So today, for the second time this year, I was at a Lifeline Bookfest at the Convention Centre stocking up. I do confess, however, I haven't read a single page of the books I bought at the event in January but I will, eventually.
On a rainy public holiday there were large crowds working their way through the millions of second hand books on sale. I loved the number of parents stocking up on kids books often with the little ones "helping".
Today's picture is of Emily who was helping mum Monica choose some new bedtime stories.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 10. Day 162. Dressing up

Kids don't need an excuse. You want to go to the supermarket dressed as a fairy? No worries. You think that Buzz Lightyear and not little Johnnie should be the one to pay Grandma a visit. Sure, Grandma will understand.
But somehow when we grow up we learn that most of the time we should wear proper sensible clothes. We decide that we need an official invitation involving a theme party or Halloween to put on a costume.
I believe that secretly adults probably enjoy playing dress up as much as kids, they just don't do it. How else would you explain the popularity of such events as  sci fi conventions and historical reenactment festivals?
Truth is adults have as much reason -probably more - to escape reality every now and then.
There were very few people being themselves at Fort Lytton this weekend, even less than an average sitting of parliament I suspect. No-one had a grip on reality and it was great.
The weather wasn't kind but that didn't stop huge numbers of people turning up to watch the historical reenactment groups doing their stuff at the annual History Alive event.
You can't blame people for being attracted to this sort of thing. I mean really, when it comes to stress release, it's hard to imagine an equal to dressing up in chain mail and spearing someone.
Yep it's child's play and what's so wrong with that?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 9. Day 161. Living history

History. It's just one damned thing after another.
At least that's how it can seem if history comes straight from a text book or is delivered by an uninspiring teacher.
But in the right hands or with the right presentation, history is fascinating. You need someone make it much more than a bunch of dates.
Mrs Josie James - my high school history teacher  - was my very favourite teacher at school. She turned history into a fascinating story. History came alive.
History was alive in and kicking Brisbane today at the annual History Alive: A Journey Through Time at the Fort Lytton National Park.
Every year for the past 13 years history groups have been re-enacting everything from the Roman Legions to the Vietnam War.
The park was packed with families watching gladiators fight and canons fire. Some, such as Aidan, photographed above, even got to take part.
That has to be enough to inspire any child to love the past.

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 8. Day 160. Showing your true colours

In the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing. It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time.
W. Somerset Maugham

I can't help it. I'm a city girl.
While I adored my trek in the Tasmanian wilderness from Cradle Mountain to Lake Sinclair most of my vacations are spent heading to cities or the beach. New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne - a city, especially one with a very active theatre district, excites my heart.
The idea of a tree change simply doesn't do it for me. Don't get me wrong. I adore sitting on the back deck looking over the tree canopy and out to the mountains but it is the proximity to South Bank, the cultural precinct and the city that really make me love where I live. Give me the bright lights, baby.
Brisbane is not exactly a city that never sleeps and at 6am when this photo was taken from South Bank the first signs of stirring were becoming obvious.
These days businesses are becoming more environmentally conscious and many of the high rises were darkened but the casino was lit in red, white and blue in honour of the Queen's diamond jubilee. That and the reflections off the Brisbane river are stunning.
That's a city showing its true colours.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 7. Day 159. On Ya Bike

I love cycling, I really do, apart from two small things
1) I can't ride up hills and
2) I don't want to die thus will not ride near traffic.
For a time when I lived in Nundah I would ride several times a week on the very flat, completely devoid of vehicles bike paths.
Now, however, I live one street back from a very busy major arterial road in a suburb with both high and hill in the name.I sold the bike.
I would take up cycling again if you could guarantee conditions like this. Suspended above the Ernest Street entrance to South Bank, the Man on a Unicycle has no traffic to contend with and given he's airborne there's nothing in the way of hills either, just my type of riding conditions.
This sculpture, photographed as the sun was coming up this morning, was one of 90 that formed the Human Factor series at Expo 88 in Brisbane. Most of the works created by John Underwood and the Artbusters team were auctioned off after Expo but this one is back riding high on what was the Expo site. Impressive isn't he? Given that I was never one of those kids prone doing wheelies or yelling "look Mum no hands", I'm particularly impressed. Hell, I never even learned to work gears which may, or may not, explain my problem with hills. Either that or the fact that I am unfit and lazy. Ill let you be the judge.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 6. Day 158. I'm your Venus

Generally a small black spot on an otherwise perfect object is far from desirable. In fact, it is likely to have you rushing for the nearest cleaning fluid.
Not when the black spot is Venus transiting across the front of the sun, a once in a century event.
While I would consider myself a sun worshipper rather than a star gazer I was not going to let slip by an event that won't be repeated until 2117.
I was not alone. The lawns outside the Planetarium were humming with people anxious to have a look.
A galaxy of astronomers (okay, that probably isn't the right collective noun but I'm going with it) was there with telescopes that proved that size does, in fact, matter regardless of what the boys tell you.
I was really impressed with their willingness to share their time, knowledge and equipment with anyone who wanted a peep.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5. Day 157. Barbed wire

Sophia Lauren once said: “A woman's dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”
Yep, you gotta hold it all together, keep the bits in you want to keep in and keep out those things not welcome, thank-you very much.
A dress should, of course, also be beautiful, something barbed wire never is. Or so I thought until  I saw this piece of fencing under the Captain Cook expressway protecting one of the disused piers near the QUT Citycat terminal.
The intent is clear - you can't come in here but the form of the wire outlined against the water and the fence is quite striking. And like Loren said it doesn't obstruct the view it rather enhances it. Certainly it caught my eye as I walked passed  this morning.
 Clothing has been a bit of a theme for me today mainly because of my complete inability to dress myself properly and appropriately. Somehow I managed to rush out of the house without a jacket, not the smartest of moves given the wind chill factor. That's not the worse of it. I'd been at work for quite some time before I realised half of what I did manage to put on this morning was inside out. Somehow the bits digging in failed to alert me to yet another wardrobe malfunction. Good grief.
Perhaps it isn't Sophia Loren I should be turning to for advice when dressing but the ancient cowboy proverb that suggests you should be "careful as a naked man climbin' a barbed wire fence"
Had to get a barb in somewhere.

Monday, June 4, 2012

June 4. Day156. Wilting

It has been a lot of years (I choose not to say how many) since I was a student, but I still find myself getting nervous tension at this time of year. Today is Day One of Swot Vac - the week between when the teaching semester ends and the exam week begins. It's stress central where I work.
The Queens Birthday weekend and the appearance of the jacaranda are the two markers that signal we are full on in exam season. From next year there will be no public holiday in June to set off  First Semester exam anxiety. How will I know when to panic? Perhaps the annual Winter Racing Carnival and the Stradbroke Handicap will do it. Somehow I doubt it.
Anyway, for this year at least there's a public holiday next Monday which gives most workers the chance to relax but for students it's one last chance to manically study for exams. How I remember the feeling of not having done enough, of frantic cramming and of days without adequate sleep. There were always promises to self to be so much more organised and prepared next semester - promises that were forgotten with the first post exam period drink.
Of course, these days I am the one marking exams not the one sitting them so I still deal with increased stress at this time of year. Truth is we are all wilting at this time of semester.
The image I have chosen to illustrate that feeling of dying just a little was taken just outside the journalism building at the University of Queensland today.
We are still standing but not quite our usual bright sunny selves. But don't worry, spring will come and we'll be blooming lovely again right up until the jacarandas bloom....

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 3. Day 155. Royal seal of approval

To celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee, the gates to Government House Queensland were thrown open and Her Majesty's subjects in Brisbane were invited in for an Open Day and Community Fair.
Given all the pomp and ceremony in London this weekend it was a much more laid back Brisbane affair with school bands and choirs, house and garden tours and a tree planting.
I love this photo of brothers Ollie and Leuca who were sitting on the rather soggy lawn enjoying lunch with Dad Jeremy. I mean, really, nothing says an Aussie celebration better than a sausage sizzle especially one with a Royal seal of approval. Forget a cucumber sandwich, I bet a snag and a bit of tomato sauce is what the Queen would really like to chow down on.
I watched the Governor Penelope Wensley walk among the crowd and couldn't help but be impressed by her down-to-earth attitude. I am sure I am breaking about 300 different protocols and am now liable to be charged with treason but I can report that she told the volunteers that:
1) her hair gets unbelievably frizzy and uncontrollable in the rain
2) she had to abandon a plan to wear a fetching pair of shoes that matched her frock because they would have been trashed in the mud
She strikes me as a perfect person to represent the Queen in Queensland. There's only one problem. I simply fail to comprehend why a big grown up country like Australia thinks we need a head of state in another country.
So if I didn't commit treason before, I guess I just did then.
Sixty years on the throne is a remarkable achievement and one that should be celebrated. Now can we all just move on.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 2. Day 154. Burn baby, burn

Things were absolutely smokin' around Musgrave Park today.
The park, which is recent weeks has made headlines after being occupied first by protesting indigenous Australians and then by Greek festival goers, has this weekend been taken over by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service for its annual firefighter competition.
Hundreds of men in uniform, what more reason could a girl need to go and check out what's going on?
Because of a large dose of good luck rather than any planning at all, I arrived as the opening ceremony was taking place.
It seemed totally fitting - given all the controversy last month over the extinguishing of the ceremonial fire  when the Brisbane Sovereign Embassy was shut down - that a local indigenous dance group would demonstrate how to rub sticks together to make flames
The Nuckkual Yaggera performers were on fire. If the rest of the events are this hot it will be a very successful weekend indeed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

June 1. Day 153. A little bit of Goodwill

I read somewhere - doubtless a very reliable source such as a woman's magazine - that a survey was conducted to ask women the three words they most wanted to hear.
Researchers expected the magic words would be "I love you" but instead the phrase to warm the heart was in fact "You've lost weight".
Yep, that works for me.
Today I was celebrating a milestone in the weight loss journey - I reached my goal weight. Yay me.
Weigh in was 9.30am and leaving nothing to chance I got up early for a final walk before the dietitian's appointment. I was not going to let anything get in the way of the 0.1kilograms still between me and goal. - not the fact that it was the first day of winter, it was cold and I still have a cold nor that it was still dark and wet. Nothing
Whether it was the walk or not (okay, it was never the walk) the scales registered a 0.6 kilogram loss, Score.
Today's photo was snapped on that dawn walk at the entrance of the Goodwill Bridge,
I like it because long walks have been a big part of the strategy to rid of those 14.5 kilograms. Brisbane's three pedestrian-only bridges - the Goodwill Bridge, the Eleanor Schonell Bridge and the Kurilpa Bridge - have all been regular points on the walking map.
Also, after hearing those three words that women love, I was feeling a lot of good will. Plus I think it's a bloody nice shot