Friday, November 30, 2012

November 30. Day 335. Poison

Some people are poisonous.
I think it would take a wicked person to deliberately kill a beautiful old tree and yet that's exactly what has happened to this Moreton Bay Fig Tree in West End.
A sign on the tree says the vandalism of the Brisbane City Council tree is being investigated and  that interfering with protected vegetation is a serious offence.
One can only hope that the person or persons responsible get what's coming to them.
In the meantime, tree doctors have been in and covered the external roots with bright orange protective tubing. It is unclear (at least to me) if these are to protect the tree from further damage or to protect people walking along the busy footpath from injury from damaged roots.
In any case, people are finding their way of showing their love for the tree.
A week or so ago the words "Kiss me please" appeared on one of the tubes and today I noticed two crocheted hearts had now been hung on the tree.
Let's hope that's enough to save the tree and that karma, if not the law, catches up with whoever is responsible.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29. Day 334. You light up my life

Australians are often critical of our slavish devotion to American culture and our sponge-like willingness to soak up everything that happens in the great US of A.
It has to be said that there are times that some things that happen in America are best left in America and taking them on is to the detriment of our own culture.
At times ... but not always.
When I was growing up in Brisbane no-one decorated their houses with lights other than perhaps a string of fairy lights in the window.
I would look at Christmas movies out of the States with their extravagantly decorated homes with a mix of admiration and amazement.
And then it started happening here and now our displays of illuminated Christmas spirit are up there with the best I've seen overseas.
Every year we pack the car and take a night time road tour to check out the best of them and tonight I visited my first for the year the Ashgrove home of my friends Shane, Elizabeth, William and Charlie Oliver.
Spectacular isn't it?
I love their low voltage flashing animated displays so much I am almost tempted to deck out our house - almost. And then I remember that last year it took me three hours just to untangle the strands of lights needed for our tree and the attraction fades just a bit. The light bulb in my head goes out completely when I recall that I have to call in a handyman to change the downlights.
Sorry neighbours but you will never get more than a string of fairy lights in the window from me. If it helps I'll share a map of my best lighting display finds.
Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 28. Day 333. Hang on!

I've put my credit card in a safe place. A very safe place. The type of place that's so safe that even I can't find it.
This is not a new tactic to curb Christmas spending but yet another example of dopey behaviour on my part.
Still that's not the worst of it. The worst of it is that five separate direct debits come from that account and that's five businesses that have to be notified of the new card number.
Being put on hold five times by companies who insist my call is important to them is my idea of hell.
The flames leap higher when I am eventually answered by an overseas call centre where finding a common language in which to communicate appears too much to ask. Inevitably in such situations I find myself talking slower and/or louder and/or using hand gestures in equally futile attempts to be understood.
To try and avoid the hours of hanging on blood rushing to my head like this piece of art outside the State Library, I attempted a new approach. I would drop into their stores in person.
Stop one the phone company where apparently they can't take payment details in store. They gave me the phone with the overseas call centre on the other end of the line ... Epic fail.
Stop two the health insurance company where I was advised there would be a long wait and really I should go home and update my details on the computer.
Clearly the idea of customer service centres has nothing to do with serving customers. Silly me.
Will try again tomorrow, tackling the issue feet first.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27. Day 332. What a star

Believe it or not I once nearly divorced my husband over Christmas Crackers.
Now people might understand the desire to take extreme action over the completely lame jokes or bizarre trinkets in the table decorations but even so divorce may seem a trifle over the top.
But it goes like this. I love Christmas and one year my husband announced that there would be no bon-bons on the table. No negotiations.
Over my dead body, I thought. Words such as Grinch and Scrooge may have been uttered. Bah humbug to that. He could take his turkey and stuff it. And so on. And so on.
It turned out, I meant those little tubes of joy that you pull to get a paper hat and the aforementioned goodies. He meant lollies and he was annoyed that in previous years people had filled up on sweets and not left room for the turkey. Something was lost in translation. Divorce papers withdrawn.
Still, I would totally take on anyone prepared to mess with Christmas. It brings out a big dose of child-like joy in me and one of the best bits is the ceremony of putting up the tree.
Under my strict rules, our tree will not go up until December 1 but because they have a large project I forgive the workmen in King George Square making a start on Brisbane's giant tree today.
I loved their attention to detail, giving the project the attention befitting such an important symbol of Christmas in our city.
A stellar performance even.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26. Day 331. Watch your mouth

Back in my youth, the opportunities for take away food were far more limited than what we "enjoy" today.
Friday night generally equalled fish and chips. Other than that there were only really two options:
1) The finger lickin' good chicken created with 11 different herbs and spices. Back then we were so unsophisticated we actually referred to it by its full name not realising that just initials are far trendier.
2) Chinese food. The chicken chow mein was a particular favourite although any similarity between this dish and anything ever served in China was strictly coincidental.
Take away was a rare treat and nothing was going to stop me from having my share on those occasions it was offered. As such, I continued to deny any link between the Chinese food and the inevitable asthma attack that would follow.
"No mum, the MSG is not making me wheeze. It's pollen, stress, dust, exercise, my siblings, anything but the Chinese food."
Of course I am older and wiser now (as are the makers of Chinese food which is pretty much an MSG-free zone). So I would not knowingly eat things that would make me feel bad. I watch what I put in my mouth..... Nope, like the crows on top of this industrial bin at West End this morning I am at times a bit of a garbage guts.
Truth is I was feeling disgusting. After repeated doses of antibiotics had upset my inner workings, my wise dietitian suggested a temporary diet eliminating such things as wheat, legumes and mushrooms to restore balance.
I did so and was feeling great - until yesterday.
At my lovely niece Cleo's birthday breakfast about 17 different diet crimes were committed and today I am paying for each slice of bread, each pancake, each mushroom, each baked bean and doubtless the sausages as well.
There were plenty of things on offer I could have safely eaten but ....
If you are what you eat I seriously hate to think what that makes me. In future I will watch my mouth

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25. Day 330. The Claus are out

Sunday is meant to be the day of rest but that certainly wasn't the case this morning. Well before 7am, the Claus were out. Thousands of Santas lining up at South Bank for the annual Variety Club Santa Fun Run.
I guess at this time of year the bloke in red has to work pretty much around the clock and he can use all the helpers he can get.
The fun run raises funds for children's charities and today the people of Brisbane responded. There were Santas being carried on Dad's shoulders, Santas in prams, Santas in wheelchairs and even a blind Santa with her guide dog. My prize for the cutest Santa went to two-year-old Josie.
It was a great display of the real Christmas spirit not to mention a chance to dress up and have a bit of fun (if your idea of fun is running five kilometres in a Santa suit in a Brisbane summer).
I've said it before that charities now need to find new ways to make a connection to get people to open their wallets and this one has really hit the mark.
These Santas already delivered a gift to children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs to live, laugh and learn. Ho, Ho, Ho.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24. Day 329. Penny for your thoughts

As a child I adored the Guinness Book of World Records.
I couldn't wait for a new addition to come out so I could find out what weird and wonderful ways people has managed to become best in the world at something obscure and bizarre. Young people, you have to remember that this was in a world before the Internet so the ways of achieving notoriety through lunacy were much more limited. 
It was also in a world before fear of legal action stopped the record takers from accepting some of the more "interesting" record attempts.
So it was that millions of young people the world over would pour over the pages of the Guinness Book to see if there was an entry they could possibly aspire to beat.
As a result of my childhood interest in unusual records, my ears pricked when I heard that today in Brisbane an attempt would be made to break the record for the Penny Farthing Stack which is greatest number of penny farthing bicycles, freestanding and held together by hands only.
That would have required 69 bicycles all in a row. They managed only 32 so in terms of numbers it was an epic fail. In terms of a spectacle it was an outstanding success (although I bet I wasn't the only one that secretly hoped stack involved bikes falling like dominoes)

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23. Day 328. Santa still sleighs 'em

I still remember so fondly the big family outing into "town" to see the Christmas windows.
In those days it was always town never the city and a rare visit at night generally meant dinner at Mama Luigi's. That was as close to proper spag bol as it got. But I digress.
The Christmas windows. What delight at seeing pages of a story book come to life in all-singing, all-dancing technicolour glory. Kids would line up little fingers on the glass as their parents read to them.
Of course back in those days no-one decorated their houses and the shops weren't filled with their own versions of dancing Santa to take home.
So it would be easy to imagine that the Christmas windows were an idea whose time had gone. From what I saw in the City today that's not the case. Little kids were still lined up wide eyed peering through the glass as their parents read to them. It's nice to know the Spirit of Christmas is alive and well.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22. Day 327. Cruel to be kind

Not all that long ago, the Grand Arbour at South Bank Parklands was looking just a bit sad.
The bougainvillea has been pruned back rather savagely leaving no blooms and was not a lot more than dry looking twigs.
Look at it now.  On reflection, it's bloomin marvellous again.
Sometimes a bit of tough love is required. You really do have to be cruel to be kind.
That's easy to say but implementing it in just the right measure is really tricky.
Being tough is as difficult on the person administering the punishment as it is on the subject, sometimes more difficult.
Yep, who'd be a parent? (Did I say parent? I surely meant gardener).
Either way, you'd have to say the results are worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21. Day 326. Flock of Seagulls

Okay. I admit it. I'm stuck in the 1980s, at least where it comes to music.
It's impossible for me to see a Flock of Seagulls without humming I Ran (fortunately for the people at South Bank this morning the humming happens in my head not out loud or it wouldn't just be me running given my special musical "talent").
What's not to love about the decade that brought us MTV, the CD and arguably some of the worst hair cuts and fashion the world has ever seen.
Everything was big from the hair to the shoulder pads to the sunglasses.
It was flashy and showy in the decade where I first really started to spread my wings, left school, went to university and got my first job.
Yep, the 80s were, in the words of Robert Palmer, Simply Irresitable.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20. Day 325. The sting

“Say I feel all sad and self-indulgent, then get stung by a wasp, my misery feels quite abstract and I long just to be in spiritual pain once more - 'damn you tiny assassin, clad in yellow and black, how I crave my former innocence where melancholy was my only trial.” Russel Brand. Articles of Faith
Beautiful things wasps. Striking. Elegant almost. And their nests are architecturally inspired.
Really what's not to like? Oh, I remember their sting, a sting that can quit literally pack a killer punch.
Isn't that just a metaphor for life. The things we are most attracted to are the things that are the worst for us?

And why with all the possible nesting places in the world, did this lot feel a need to set up home on my front fence right near the gate where I really can't leave them to get on with it? I mean all the little creatures have a right to coexist, even the nasty ones, right? Exist, yes. By my front gate. Sorry, no.
Which brings me to Monty Python and the year we discovered All Things Dull and Ugly and decided to play it at full blast out the window at our very religious neighbours. Repeatedly. Yes, we were being dull and ugly.

But the lyrics still bring a smile so here we go:

All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom,
He made their horrid wings.
All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.
Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid,
Who made the spikey urchin,
Who made the sharks, He did.
All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.
Now if anyone knows how to move this lot along without risking being inflected with a pain capable of easing any melancholy I'd be grateful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19. Day 324. Piggy in the middle

According to the demographers I am in the sandwich generation - in fact I am the jam.
People of my age will find ourselves in the position of still caring for children who never want to leave home and at the same time having parents who are aging and will need more help.
I see it as a bit like a game of piggy in the middle where we are the pig.
Of course as these young men at South Bank this afternoon showed, being piggy in the middle is not always all bad. In fact, it's one of those old games that never runs out of steam especially if you add water.
But in life outside the water being in the middle also means we have both a parent or parents and soon-to-be-adult children to look after our interests.
I guess the fact is that the more people playing the same game, the less likely that we are really going to drop the ball.
It also means that the is someone who can help you extend your reach.
Problem is there is also the danger of being swamped and as luck will have it, a dropped sandwich always seems to land jam side down. Life's like that.
To continue the sandwich analogy for just a minute I will end with one of my favourite quotes: "Life is life a shit sandwich. The more bread you've got the less shit you each" How true that is.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18. Day 323. Mud, glorious mud

My mother likes to tell the story about a mud bath at kindy. We were invited to bring old clothes to play in the mud pit. I was the only girl who took up the offer. Aged five and already a mud wrestler. What can I say?
Perhaps this is why I stopped for a brief chat with this bloke who says everyone calls him only Bob Mud. I stopped for a brief chat but Bob Mud wasn't going to let me get away with that.
It was Sunday and Bob was going to give me a sermon, like it or not. Fortunately he was a man with a lot of interesting things to say.
I only asked him about the bizarre instrument (it's called pan bottles, apparently) he had created by caking mud over different sized water bottles.
He picked it up. He started to play and he told me his story.
Every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, 70-year-old  Bob Mud conducts free workshops for kids at the Northey Street city farm.
His classes involve music, art and pottery - all involving mud.
"It attracts the tiniest of kids. They are attracted to the mud and water and it's so good for them. It's so good for their immune system," he says.
"This is a real school. The way you enrol is to show and interest and if you don't have an interest you don't come."
It's obvious that Bob Mud gets as much out of the classes as those he teaches.
"It's just as important for people my age to have fun, more important," he says."In this lovely, beautiful country we are full of complaints. It's crazy."
That's as close as it comes to Bob Mud throwing mud although I can't help but think he'd be up for a mud fight given half the chance. The name comes from somewhere and as they say mud sticks.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 17. Day 322. Stormy weather

My goodness. Mother Nature sure had her grump on this morning. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I can only assume that there's been a bit of scorning going on in the heavens department this week.
In this part of the world we do thunder storms particularly well. During a hot humid day you can feel it building and when it finally hits - almost always timed for most disruption around the school pick-up time - it comes as something of a blessed relief. Mostly.
Sometimes, however, the results are devastating.
Morning storms, like the one this morning, are less common and while I have no evidence to support this I believe they are often more violent.
Here we got just a little hail but violent winds, thunder and lightning and rain which was at times almost horizontal.
There was no way I was going out during the worst of it but as things calmed I did manage this shot off the back deck.
I hope others escaped as lightly. My guess is probably not.

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16. Day 321. The elephant in the room

One of the things I hate most about the political process - and there is a long list of potential contenders - is that there is so little room to see any good in the opposing side.
Oppositions, as the name suggests, are meant to oppose but surely not everything a government - even a dreadful government - does is bad.
Similarly governments are charged with governing but surely that doesn't mean that every policy put up by the other side is inherently dreadful.
A little bit more bipartisanship would go a long way to restoring confidence in the political process.
Which leads me to this elephant.
The five metre, 5.5  tonne bronze sculpture The World Turns by New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai was this week hoisted into place outside the Gallery of Modern Art at South Bank.
The security fences are still there and installation is obviously not yet complete but I must say it looks  million bucks which is just as well because that's exactly what it cost tax payers.
This, according to the government, was "a ridiculous waste of money". The thing is the government would say that because it was commissioned by the former government and we could never be in the position of acknowledging a good idea from the other side. That's against the political rules.
But like the elephant there is an ability for politicians to turn things on their head when it's convenient.
Slam the sculpture one day, turn up to cut the ribbon to welcome it the next. Read into that what you will.
Yes, the world does indeed turn.


My father loved Rudyard Kipling and the Just So stories were a particular favourite.
We delighted in hearing about the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River all set about with fever-trees.
What child wouldn't be spell bound on hearing of the young elephant so full of questions whose curiosity led him into trouble.
This may explain why I love elephants and don't at all begrudge my share of the tax payers money that went into our new great, big bronze elephant statue on the banks of the Brisbane River (a river that is grey more than green, glassy rather than greasy and set about mainly with mangrove trees).
So in a special post, this is how our elephant got its trunk or at least how it got to be where it is.
These photos were taken on Wednesday afternoon as the great sculpture was being hoisted into place.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 15. Day 320. Strictly for the birds

There's a bit of a theme emerging here. Photo after photo of some bird or other wide mouthed and squawking.
This morning it was on the riverbank in the cultural precinct near the Gallery of Modern Art where I spotted these  Welcome Swallows (I'm getting good at using the Big Book of Google to identify Brisbane birds aren't I?)
I'll call today's composition Homework Time. The young one is in full voice letting the older one have it.
Meanwhile, there's a patient and understanding stance from the older, wiser bird. It watches on  silently and stoically waiting for the squawking to let up. Just like my place at homework time (and if you believe that ....)
Truth is most of the squawking comes from me. I say I won't nag. I say that Mr 14 is big enough and ugly enough to live by the consequences of not doing what's set. I wait a bit and then I nag and nag and nag.
I'm sure one day he'll thank me. But for the moment, I have to say I'm kind of over the homework headache. I already did Year 9. I did pretty bloody well at it too as I recall so it makes no sense to worry about it all over again.
That type of behaviour is strictly for the birds.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 14. Day 319. Eclipsed

The men in my life didn't stand a chance.
Neither is normally an early riser. Neither shows the slightest interest in anything astronomical.
But I ordered them eclipse glasses and warned them they would be watching Eclipse 2012.
Here is Brisbane we didn't get a total eclipse but 83 per cent is a pretty good feat of nature and my husband and son WERE NOT going to miss it.
As always, mother knows best. The verdict was that it was well worth the effort (even if  they will be happy to wait until 2037 for the next one in our part of the world).
Dead impressive if you ask me.
All the modern technology in the world can't match Mother Nature when it comes to beauty.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13. Day 318. Feeding time

I'm pretty sure I know how to speak Magpie and as such I can tell you exactly what's going on in this scene I photographed near my house at Highgate Hill this morning.*
The little one is squawking about being hungry. The bemused look on the older bird is clearly "What? Again? Still?"
Feeding the family can seem like a manning the sushi train - food goes on, food goes off. Repeat. Often.
The catering conveyor belt. What fun (not). At least with hands we have an advantage when it comes to feeding the hatchlings. This beak-to-beak business is strictly for the birds.
But I get it Mummy Magpie. Which mother hasn't had that last tasty morsel almost snatched from her mouth? Who hasn't given away the last piece of chocolate or the last chip?
Feeding the family comes first, right? (although a secret stash of Tim Tams is totally within the rules. You can possibly adequately meet the others if you don't look after yourself, right?)
In any event, I found the devotion of the older bird to the gluttonous youngster touching. It gave me a warm inner glow right until I got home and had to start the business of breakfast for my own squawking brood. 
It's enough to make you want to take flight or seek out those Tim Tams. All's fair in love and catering.

*Note you will be very surprised to learn that I don't actually speak Magpie. You will be further stunned to discover that I know nothing about Magpies and have no idea if this is even an adult and a juvenile bird. However in the best tradition of my craft, I never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The editor's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. If the Magpie thinks it has been misrepresented it can put a complaint in writing.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12. Day 317. Busy bee

My head is buzzing. There's this kind of background humming that says there's too much going on.
Like a bee, I feel like there's a lot of frantic flapping happening just to stay still and hold my ground. And all of the nectar I gather goes to feed someone else. Oh poor me.
BUT, and here's the BUT the rewards are coming for this little worker bee. There will be honey and honey I feel like I've earned it this year. Sweet.
In exactly one week and 37 minutes all my marks for the year have to be submitted. Then in terms of assessment at least it's all over red rover for another year.
Then I intend to be Queen Bee in my own little hive for a bit. According to that reliable source Wikipedia, The Queen Bee "is continuously surrounded by worker bees who meet her every need, giving her food and disposing of her waste". Watch out you drones, I will be a lady of leisure. *Note, I choose not to read the bit of the article that talks about the Queen Bee's role being mainly reproductive. I will be lying on my back a lot in the coming weeks but it will be reading a book  by the pool and not thinking of England!
But before I stop to smell the flowers there's still the small matter of that pile of assignments to mark and grades to collate. So buzz off and leave me alone. I have work to do. Bee nice while I'm away.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11. Day 316. Remembrance Day

When you are nine months old it's not possible to digest the idea of Dad serving overseas in the Australian Air Force in Middle East and in East Timor. You can, of course, have a real go at digesting his service medals.
Little Marcus Lord joined Dad Rodney and Mum Melissa at the Remembrance Day service in Brisbane today.
Young folk made up a sizable proportion of the crowd gathered at the ceremony at the Anzac Memorial at 11am.
Almost not there was the Governor Penny Wensley who was stuck in traffic and was delayed. As a result the actual commemoration bore little resemblance to the published program.
Importantly, however, just before 11am the Last Post sounded and then the crowd fell silent.
In the distance the sounds of the city at work could still be heard.
It's such a shame that we can't stop for even a minute to remember the sacrifice of those who have fought in war.
As someone much wiser than me said, those who don't learn from history are condemned to relive it.
Let's hope for little blokes like Marcus that people do learn. Lest We Forget.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 10. Day 315. Santa Claus is coming to town

I suspect many of those organised types who got their letters off to Santa early were delighted that the big bloke brought their Christmas gift with him when he arrived in Brisbane this weekend. It rained, proper soaking rain.
After months of relentless dry which has seen gardens shrivel up and die and bush fires start to circle ever closer to the city, the heavens well and truly opened last night and they stayed open today.
It is of course possible that it wasn't Santa but the South African cricketers who brought the rain. Nothing is more likely to convince the heavens to open than a game of test cricket at the Gabba.
Either way I'm sure even die hard cricket fans are at some level just a teensy bit grateful to see the rain.
I'm almost certain Santa wouldn't be complaining. If you'd just arrived from the North Pole and were carrying as much body fat and heavy clothing as Mr Claus, a Christmas concert in the unforgiving Brisbane humidity to greet you might feel like a present you'd be happy to return.
The rain kept the temperature down and the crowds were thinner than in other years but the delight was clear on the faces of those who did turn up.
With My Little Pony, elves, Spiderman and of course Old Saint Nick to entertain at the annual David Jones Christmas concert, nothing was going to rain on these kids' parade.
There may have been no play at the Gabba but in the Queen Street Mall the kids seemed to think all their Christmases had come at once.
Just as well. You'd better not shout, you'd better not cry, you'd better not pout, I'm telling you why, Santa Claus has come to town and is now appearing in a department store near you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9. Day 314. All in a day's work

First thing this morning my name was Sofie and I had gestational diabetes. By morning tea time I was Coral and I had high cholesterol.
Before you start searching the telephone directory for an expert in multiple personalities, I should clarify that I was role playing as part of a practical exam for student dietitians.
Universities are strange and unpredictable places. There are so many weird and wonderful things going on. Having an open mind is a very good idea.
And there are always colourful characters just hanging around. This week abseilers have been tethered to the side of our building scraping the giant canvas clean.I can only imagine what it's like from where they hang but from inside the building it feels like you are working in a tin can and someone has just fired up the electric can opener.
When this was taken around lunch time they were working on the very bottom corner of the wall  so I presume the cleaning process was about to come to an end.
Goodness knows what happens next. Bring on Monday morning.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8. Day 313. Soft landing

Three weeks one day until the end of the school year. Yes, I am counting actually.
There's an awful lot of assessment in the pipeline and an awful lot of flapping about in my house.
There's also an awful lot of putting off, talking about doing it and worrying about not getting it done rather than tackling it going on too. (Here I am not talking about the bundle of marking I still have to scale although I confess the same thing totally applies. Like mother, like son).
It was in one of these assessment avoidance moments (his not mine) that I escaped for a walk to South Bank this afternoon and watched the sea gulls at play. Swapping one lot of flapping about for another really.
Assessment is a very different thing at schools these days. Mr 14 has to make a film of a fractured fairy tale, compete in a poetry slam and present a television news report on the Global Financial Crisis. I remember assignment and exams but that's about it.
The thing is that these kids are growing up in a different world and need a different set of skills to allow them to soar.
We need to give them what they need to take off and be around to help with a soft landing if things look like they are going to crash and burn.
My hope is that the touchdown is as smooth in our house as it was on the South Bank pool this afternoon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7. Day 312. You say tomato

In the past week my food intake has included paella, sushi, pad Thai and antipasto.
This is a world away from the Vegemite sandwiches hot from the port rack I had every day for lunch and the meat and two vege we had every night as children. (Thankfully it is also a universe away from my mother's meatloaf but that's another story).
How food has changed in a generation.
It is, however, a strange contradiction that as we turn further and further afield in our search for food inspiration we seem to be increasingly embracing a move to source the ingredients from closer and closer to home.
There are a growing number of community gardens in walking distance from my place. And many local folk are very upset that an application for an orchard just around the corner has been knocked back by council.
All this local "growth industry" is part of Brisbane City Council's food in the city program which encourages all of us to plant our own food.
I'm afraid growing things is not one of my specialties. Some people seem to be able to grow things with little or no effort at all which is about what it takes me to kill a plant of any description.
I can even kill things that spring up pretty much of their own accord like these cherry tomatoes peeking out from a fence on busy Gladstone Road.
If the owners want to get rid of them they know who to call. I'll be right over with my black fingers or a ham sandwich. Might be a shame to let it go to waste especially since food in the city is such a priority.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 6. Day 311. The Cup

This is how is starts. When my son was about five I had a big win on the Melbourne Cup. When I say big I mean the type of big you get for a $2 each way bet. Totally huge, like about $100 huge.
Anyway I immediately "invested" my winnings on a new pair of shoes.
That night over dinner the discussion was about the Cup, the win and the shoes.
A couple of days later at the shops the boy wanted me to buy him something. I declined saying we didn't have the money.
He paused for a moment and then in five-year-old logic said: "I know how you can get some money. Bet on a horse race!" Ouch.
The messages we send without meaning it.
Anyway I have made totally sure that he is made equally aware of the years of loses since.
Like so many Australians, the only time I go into a TAB or pay the slightest attention to the GGs is on Cup Day.
To be honest, the track happenings at Flemington are a sideshow for the main event: the cup lunch, sweep and the excuse to wear an insane hat.
Today my work colleague Ann and I went to a cafe in West End. It was empty but for one other group Janine, Claire (obscured) and Vlad who work around the corner.
The big screen and small crowd meant we got to see and hear all the action.
I'd rather prefer I hadn't.
Let's just say there will be no new shoes this year.

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5. Day 310. Head space

This is my head.
Okay, it's not my head. It's part of a sculpture outside Southbank TAFE.
But it's exactly how my head feels at the moment.
The brow is furrowed, deeply furrowed, as would be expected of a person in my occupation in the first week of the examination block.
But more than that. It's the sallow cheeks, the pained expression and the blinding light over one eye.
Something is flowering at the moment and it's doing my head in. Spring is a wonderful season except for the pollen. I swear I've had this sinus headache for three weeks.
But if you want the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, you've got to put up with the pollen.
So like this bloke, suck it up sister. Take a cup for concrete and harden up. And if all else fails look to the heavens for inspiration or the drug cabinet for yet another dose of antihistamine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 4. Day 309. Cheerleaders

Chef, nurse, teacher, cleaner, You know the score. As a mother, you have to be a jack of all trades (and I fully confess I am not a master of any).
But as I see it, one of the most important jobs is cheerleader. You are always there on the sidelines encouraging, motivating, screaming your appreciation. The game may be lost but your commitment to the cause never waivers. Win or lose, you love them unconditionally. You are the mascot for team MyKid and you take that job really, really seriously.
I admit I can not do a back flip like the members of the East Coast Allstars who were putting their cheerleading skills to good use in the pools at South Bank today. But I would bend over backwards and tie myself in knots for my cause.
Given my enthusiastic but unattractive cheerleading, I was full of admiration for these young people.
The teens from Newcastle were in Brisbane for yesterday's 2012 cheerleading Australasian Majors at Chandler where they picked up two seconds.
They didn't let the fact that the competition was over and the prizes had been awarded stop them as you can see from this photo of 15-year-old Siarn Williams.
Which kind of made me wonder. Who is cheering on the cheerleaders?
Don't worry, the kids told me. Siarn's mum is just over there

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3. Day 308. Running rings around the others

You know what? No-one will force you to watch street theatre.
No-one will tie you down and make you watch a man dressed either as Freddie Mercury or Prince performing with hoops or on a unicycle.
But it's a kinda magic if you do. 
Mario Queen of the Circus  would go down as one of the more bizarre acts I've seen at South Bank. Not often to you see a male wearing a modified mankini twirling nipple tassels. It sounds tacky but it wasn't. Still if it's not your cup of tea, walk away. Like I said, you don't have to stay.
But if you hang around, if you laugh and cheer, if you clap and take photographs it is really poor form to slink away when the performance is done without putting your hand in your pocket and at least a few coins in his hat.
If we want a thriving street culture (and I for one do) you have to be prepared to support the street artists.
You don't work for nothing. Why should they. Just be thankful you don't have to wear nipple tassels to work. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2. Day 307. Sinking fund

One of the best tricks I ever played was to have an in ground pool installed without telling any of my extended family. And then we invited them over on Christmas Eve, the day after the pool was declared ready to go. We had gifts of bathers and towels for every one and the looks of surprise and awe was worth all the slinking around in the previous three months.
I like to pretend that the pool went in for the boy but the truth is the pool is my toy and when we moved house, a pool was pretty much top of the much-have list.
I love looking at the pool. I love lying by the pool. I mark assignments floating on a pool chair.
It is true that they can be costly little buggers. There are times when it feels like you have to have a sinking fund and keep sinking funds into it. Just this week there was the $1300 chlorinator but I think the cost is so totally worth it.
It has been put to me that you could take the money invested in the pool and buy yourself some pretty awesome resort holidays at places with pools.
Yeah but I want my own. I want privacy. I want exclusive use and most particularly I don't want to risk the fact that strange women with big lenses will photograph me when I dive in.
So apologies to this gent swimming in the glass-sided pool at IStay River City in the Brisbane today.
But I love the view you get crossing the road. I can only imagine what they view was like from his angle.
Reckon it would be worth taking the plunge to find out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1. Day 306. Pecking order

I'm not a violent person. At all. In fact, if I was to select a phrase which best describes my attitude to conflict it would be "anything for a quiet life".
I know this conflict avoidance is not always helpful. Sometimes things are not best left unsaid. Sometimes it really is better to put your cards on the table instead of assuming those around you are mind readers and know what is troubling you (Although by now my family should have come to realise that the silent treatment and over enthusiastic cleaning probably means they are in trouble. Big trouble). When that happens keep your distance.
Life is so much simpler if we learn those rules. Establish a pecking order, work out what role each of us is going to play so we don't have to keep going over and over old ground.
And learn when to back off and give each other space. These ducks in the City Botanic Gardens today exhibited over and over again what happens if you don't get the pecking order sorted.
The black duck's feathers were a little ruffled. As soon as any of the other ducks came within floating distance this is the reaction they got. Short, sharp and unmistakable. "Quack, quack get out of town".
If you are going to mess with someone make sure it's not this little black duck.
Time to take off and find a more peaceful section of pond. Anything for a quiet life, I say.