Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30. Day 364. Things are hotting up

I hate the cold. I hate the wind blistering your skin. I hate that your extremities refuse to warm up no matter what. I hate cold sheets that force you to curl up in a ball until you gradually pluck up the courage to edge a toe at a time further down the bed and having achieved bed warmth being forced to ignore the call of nature until things get really desperate because you dare not leave your cocoon. Sure those who live on the cold side in the cold versus hot debate will say you can always put on another layer but there's a limit to how many you can take off.  I see that, but the cold has reduced me to tears in the way heat never has. That doesn't mean, however, that the long hot Queensland summer is exactly nice. It's unpleasantly sweaty and draining. On those days there are only two things for it. Water or air conditioning or in my case both.
The pool was unsurprisingly popular today. Dive in, cool off, get out be dry and hot and sticky in no time at all. Repeat. Everyone was after a piece of the action (this is my nephew Connor). A parade of hot sweaty bodies were jumping lemming-like into the refreshing water. Tomorrow is another day and my guess is the pool will get another serious workout

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29. Day 363. The calm before the storm

There was only one topic on everyone's lips around these parts today - the weather or more specifically how stinking hot it was. You'd think that given we were all experiencing an equivalent level of heat-related discomfort and sweaty bits, conversation on the subject would be somewhat superfluous but no, most people had to get their whinge in. It was a day when you just knew the storm was coming and it couldn't come soon enough and yet there was also a sense that you should be careful what you wish for. A storm build up like today could mean that nature was just collecting ammunition for a big, bad show of force. Certainly the light and sound show around here was quite spectacular but fingers crossed, touch wood and all that there was little else to show for it. My hope is that others got the same release without the destruction.

December 28. Day 362. Letting my hair down

I have given over control of my life to a piece of fruit. The Apple tells me where I need to be, when and with whom and not only that thanks to the map function on the phone also tells me how to get there. But I am now in full holiday mode. Too bad iPhone, there's no schedule now. I will cool off in the pool when it's hot and walk the dog when the temperature drops a bit. If I feel like an afternoon nap in the morning so it will be.  The whole family is just chilling, Well that's plan, or lack thereof. And it has been working a treat just letting my hair down (as demonstrated by my delightful niece Cleo). But today the one flaw in the up-yours-iPhone plan was exposed. Not knowing what day of the week it is meant I almost missed the one thing in the diary this week - a night at the theatre to see A Murder is Announced. As a fan of Agatha Christie from way back missing that would have been a huge disappointment. But I realised in time and with nothing to reschedule I managed to squeeze it in - and a delight it was too. And in the cool of the night after the show I walked the dog and then took a midnight swim. Perfect, well almost. I still haven't worked out how to solve Who Done It before the big reveal at the end. There's probably an App for that. Now where did I put the phone again? I might not be using the diary function for now but it's still good for something.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 27. Day 361. The cooling off period

Size does matter, apparently. For years people have looked at our TV and laughed at the tragic smallness of it. But as I hardly ever watch TV upgrading to a bigger model was not a priority. At all.
However, we decided the time had come to adopt if not the latest technology at least something from the current century; our hand forced by factors which included this year's switch from analogue to digital technology and the fact that I can't even watch my own students TV news bulletins on our existing model.
And so a very large flat screen made its way into the lounge room today.
Naturally the teen was delighted and while we were still looking for the instruction manual he'd scanned in all the channels and connected the device to the Internet. Bloody annoying how young people can do that. But then he lost interest and was out in the pool. All the inches, USB ports, 3D technology, wi-fi connectivity, Blu Ray, high definition and all those other things that mean nothing to me can not compete with the pull of the pool on a stifling hot Queensland day. I guess he was just applying the cooling off period that comes with every major purchase.

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 25. Day 360. We're a crafty mob

There are two types of people in the world - those who do craft and those who don't. I have always been a crafty type - ear-rings, cards, painted eggs, decorated pots, I've tried my hand at many an art project. My older sister, Marie, not so much. So I admit it was something of a surprise when Big Sis suggested that this year we indulge in a make-your-own, over-the-top Christmas outfit. Challenge accepted. I already had the world's worst Christmas outfit - a tree dress - and the addition of lights for the 2013 incarnation was just the trick. There was tinsel, beads, decorations, musical elements, bows, ties and a whole of the lot of the best the $2 shop can dish up all applied to clothing. Yes, there may have been more "tasteful" Christmas gatherings but if you can't let your hair down and wear fairy lights at Christmas when can you?
There are two types of people in the world - those who do craft and those who don't. I have always been a crafty type - ear-rings, cards, painted egss, decorated pots, I've tried my hand at many an art project. My older sister, Marie, not so much. So I admit it was something of a surprise when Big Sis suggested that this year we indulge in a make-your-own, over-the-top Christmas outfit. Challenge accepted. I already had the world's worst Christmas outfit - a tree dress - and the addition of lights for the 2013 incarnation was just the trick. There was tinsel, beads, decorations, musical elements, bows, ties and a whole of the lot of the best the $2 shop can dish up all applied to clothing. Yes, there may have been more "tasteful" Christmas gatherings but if you can't let your hair down and wear fairy lights at Christmas when can you?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25. Day 359. Paw little baby

My plans for Christmas Day involved food and family, gifts, giving and grog. My plans for Christmas did not involve the 24 hour emergency pet hospital. But as anyone will tell you the festive season generates a long trail of unplanned trips to emergency rooms, often in tragic circumstances. I now know this involves not just human casualties of the season.
It started like this. I woke early and discovered Rumple was not in his normal position on the bed. I found him cowering under the dining room table seemingly unable to walk. I called the after hours vet and was about to take the fur friend when he made a recovery of sorts at the sound of the car keys. I cancelled the appointment. But he was not himself. He was listless and flat. He vomited on the bed and spent the morning hiding under furniture. It was like the batteries in the puppy version of the Energizer Bunny had run flat. Nothing would coax him out of it. Desperately worried I decided to take him to the vet after all. There I saw a couple sobbing over the cage of a sick pussy and a very forlorn family arrived to visit a sick pet. I was holding my limp baby in my arms. We went in. Rumple was prodded and probed. His temperature was taken. He was examined for ticks. They checked his heart and lungs and felt his tummy for any blockages. And they found nothing. He was, despite all the signs to the contrary, a picture of good health. So I handed over $150 (a small price to pay for peace of mind) and bundled Mr Sad Sack back in the car mystified. And then a little Christmas Miracle happened. In the very short journey from the vet to our house he made a recovery and started to try and climb out of his basket. By the time we got home he jumped from the car and ran to visit Margaret next door. Shortly afterwards he was chasing balls and begging for food. I have no idea but I do know I would trade all the gifts and food in the world for the good health of my nearest and dearest and that includes the Fur Friend. My Christmas Day may not have gone to plan but it turned out to be very merry just the same.

December 24. Day 358. My extended family

Christmas is a great family time of the year. It's a time for celebration and reflection and most importantly getting together with one's nearest and dearest. In that I include the "extended" family which in my case is two groups of people with whom I share absolutely no blood bond at all.
Megan and her husband Bernie and girls Jacquie and Natasha and Alison and her husband Peter and kids Daniel and Kate have a special place in my life. We all have a child now 15 and we share roots that go back to daycare and preschool. When the children were in the early primary years we started a new tradition of getting together on or about Christmas Eve. I love these people. We have laughed together and cried together and after a drink or two discussed endless amounts of secret women's business. Between then they have convinced me to go camping, walk Cradle Mountain and attend both Taylor Swift and Robbie Williams concerts. So it is only fitting that we always gather on Christmas Eve for some festive frivolities. This year, under the rotation policy, the event came to our house and even two Grandmas were involved. As always we made quite a splash. Pictured from left at (Tash, Megan, Kate, my Drama Teen Oliver, Jacquie and Daniel).

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23. Day 357. The silver lining

So some optimist somewhere once said every cloud must have a silver lining and now people everywhere go around repeating it in the hope it will make them feel better. I have to say that as I stared out at the clouds over the ocean on the final morning of our awesome beach holiday the silver lining was proving strangely illusive. So I decided to dig deep into the recesses of my brain and find not only a silver lining but a gold-plated list of reasons it would be good to head back to reality. Here goes. 
1) (sings) I'll be home for Christmas
2) The dog will stop smelling like a dead fish. All that rolling in the surf and playing with his doggy mates like the one pictured below might be fun but you don't come up smelling like roses
3) My camera will thank me for it. It is well known that cameras and sand don't mix but this week the Canon has had more contact with white powder than your average coke head
4) I  can start removing sand from my bits as well
5) I get to sleep in my own bed. Sure those 1000 thread count, hotel grade, crisp white sheets were great at the beginning of the week but they were starting to feel like sand paper. Also, the dog gets to return to the bed. House rules were no dogs in the sleeping areas or on the furniture. Naturally that rule was very strictly adhered to
6) I leave as reigning Uno champion 
7) I get to start planning the next holiday.It may be that all good things must come to an end but that doesn't mean you can't move on to the next one

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22. Day 356. You know it makes scents

 Smell is a powerfully under-rated sense. I do not believe the power of scent to remind you of people and places and moments in time is sufficiently recognised.
Take the smell of Oil of Ulan. The fragrance of that pink moisturiser was what finally made me decide I had to leave England and return to Australia after a two-year stay. Another English winter was approaching and the the biting wind turned my skin to sandpaper. Never having been one for skin care products I bought the only one I recognised, the one my mum used. I opened the bottle and that was it. What wafted out was a big cloud of homesickness. It smelt like my mother, it smelt like home and I knew it was time to go.
So if smells can take you places I so wish to bottle Essence of  Today. I want to keep it on the shelf and bring it out when the stress of semester starts closing in. I want to feel like I feel today.
Today would smell like salt spray and sun screen and chlorine and fish and chips. There would be just a hint of wet dog and a small measure of sweat. Bottle that and I'm sure I'd be able to feel the sand under my toes (and between my sheets), the sun on my back and the the salt crusting on my skin.
This is my happy place and I wish I could stay but alas tomorrow it is back to reality. In case you haven't guessed we will be back, I just nose it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21. Day 355. Santa paws

As I've said before, one of the best things about holidays is not having to be anywhere at any particular time.
I thought everyone shared this delight at the appointment-free lazy zone approach to vacations. Today I learned it wasn't so. The revelation came at the exact moment I announced I was going to take the dog to the shopping centre for his photo with Santa. I asked who would like to come and every man, woman and child suddenly had a pressing prior engagement. What a strange coincidence. Another strange coincidence occurred at the shopping centre itself. The Santa Paws photos were available from 10am to 2pm but when we got there at 11am, not a single fur friend was in sight. I'm assuming they all must have been lining up when Santa's sleigh pulled up at 10. Quite surprisingly I was the only person there without a child in tow. I was wondering why and then it hit me. Clearly Santa had decided to clear his diary to make sure he was free when my little Christmas angel Rumple turned up to visit. And for the record Santa, Rumple has been decidedly naughty nice this year. Please disregard any stories you heard about toilet paper, phone chargers, shoes, underwear .....

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20. Day 354. A Day at the Beach

These days you seem to be able to crowd source funding for just about any worthy endeavour. A lot of people giving just a little can get projects which would not get funding through traditional channels off the ground. Books, CDs, movies, charity works - you name it have all been made possible because enough ordinary people have seen the merit in it and been prepared to put  their money where their mouth is. So now I have a worthy project of my own. I plan to call it Buy Susan the Beach Lifestyle to which she would Like to Grow very Accustomed. Give me time and I'm sure I could come up with a snappy acronym to help sell the idea. Today was one of those magic family days at the beach. Sun, sand, surf, and shopping (with just a little bit of snoozing).  Perfect. You wish it never had to end. With just $1 from about 1.5 million people it wouldn't have to. Who wouldn't want to donate to my future happiness?(Don't answer that).
In return for your kind donation, you would get my undying gratitude and more than the occasional photo of me making sure your investment was being used to its fullest potential. I can't be fairer than that.
It's the season of giving so what are you waiting for?
I promise you won't be disappointed (well I won't and that surely counts for something).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19. Day 353. White Christmas

Holidays. That time of the year when you get to sleep in without a single place to be or appointment to keep. Well that's the plan. So why the bloody hell was I awake at 4.30am? Seriously, what I need is Mr Sandman - that magical person supposed to put children to sleep by sprinkling sand in their eyes - to relax his criteria a little and lend me a little of his sleeping potion. But in the absence of that I decided there was only one thing for it - seize the day and hit the beach. While I might whinge about wanting to keep a date with the doona, I fully admit that dawn walks along the beach are something special and I never regret it once I decide to get up and go.
And this morning I was reminded again that Christmas in Australia might not be eve vaguely like what most carols talk about but that doesn't make it any less special.
In fact, when I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, this is what it will look like. Now all I need is for this Mr Sandman to allow me enough sleep to actually dream ...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 1 8. Day 352. Catching up

He's come on so much in just three months. So much more sociable and confident oh and how those ball handling and gross motor skills are developing. Yes, I am talking about my dog. Yes, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.
While I speak in jest it is true that
1) Rumple, who was a little tentative when we last holidayed at the beach three months ago, now acts like he owns the place and
2) Dog owners on the beach and at the dog park talk about their fur friends in pretty much the same way proud parents speak about their toddlers at the playground. They also use much the same excuses.
I swear at both venues I've heard statements such as "I don't think he knows his strength", "She's not normally this shy" and the classic "That's the first time I've ever seen him bite, sorry."
Yep, pet owners are a weird bunch and I can totally get away with saying that because I include myself in that crazy bunch. I'm okay with that.
If, however, you ever hear me justify Rumple's poor behaviour on the grounds that he is a little out of sorts because he's teething or just a bit grumpy because he missed his afternoon nap, you have my permission to order an immediate intervention.

Look how good my catchinng is now, Grandma

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17. Day 351. Life's a beach

I can't tell you how many $$$$ it is costing me to bring my dog on holidays (well I could but as my accountant husband often reads my ramblings I am choosing not to). Let's just say there is a HUGE premium attached to taking a holiday with your fur friend. Until this year, I had given no thought to the concept of pet holidays but I now realise that all of the thousands of holiday units up and down the coast have pet bans. This means that houses are your only option and for the most part these are palatial and come with a price tag to match. When I tell people this, particularly those without fur friends, they normally roll their eyes and politely mention the word kennels. Sorry people, it's not happening and here's why. It's been a sh*t of a year and the things that have kept me just the right side of insanity have included long walks, my dog (often in combination) and a beach holiday in September (with lots of both of the above). Walking along the beach is good for my soul and of all the members of my family, the one who most shares that passion is Rumple. I simply could not consider going on holidays to the beach without him. Today we walked for two hours in the early morning and again in the late afternoon and it was just awesome. This is a family holiday and that means all the family comes along. Whatever it costs me for that privilege is a small price to pay.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16. Day 350. Throwing myself into holidays

Hello holidays. Boy am I glad to see you again. I just love the beach. I swear as soon as I glimpse the ocean as the car turns off the motorway from Brisbane the stress starts melting away. I have big plans for this week at Sunrise Beach. These include long walks along the beach, sleeping, reading, swimming, shopping and eating (not necessarily in that order). As soon as we got here (before even unpacking the car which can wait) the dog and I were off down the beach to explore and paddle. I would have done cartwheels on the sand had the old body been up to it (confession, this body wasn't up to it when it was young but I shall conveniently ignore that for now).  So instead I give you a photograph of 16-year-old Luke who was expressing perfectly how happy I felt. I, too, intend to throw myself headfirst into this week. It may not be as stylish as young Luke. It will have all the same freedom of spirit but hopefully with less risk of getting a face full of sand.

December 15. Day 249. Parting is such sweet sorrow

Put it in your diary now. On, or about December 17, 2016 I shall cry bucket loads of tears. Truth is being such a sook I will probably cry about 485,000 times between now and then but this will be a special Kleenex moment. Invest in the shares. Don't say you weren't warned.
That day will be Drama Teen's last performance at Fame after 14 years and that's an official cry baby moment. The Fame Theatre Company has been a huge part of Mr O's life since he was 5 but the journey will end at the senior cabaret performance that year when he officially reaches the age cap. I can tell you now it will be a sad moment and tonight I got a sneak preview at just how that will look.
The 2013 seniors performed their last show and the tears flowed. Pictured is Harriet, one of the students on the Fame stage for the last time.
I don't know if Drama Teen will shed tears (although I suspect he will) or if big boys don't cry but I know I will.
And for the record  it will not just at the thought of the fees it has cost me in that time ... parting is such sweet sorrow.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14. Day 348. Walking on water

Summer holidays. Week after week of glorious school-free time. That time of the year every school-aged child spends the long academic year wishing would hurry up and arrive.
But sometimes it is a bit of a matter of be careful what you wish for. Sure, by the end of the year everyone is tired and cranky and in need of a break.
But wishing for weeks of having nothing to do is different from the reality.
In my experience it is never long before the first "I'm bored" and the desire for the social contact that school brings kicks in - at least a bit. And then you can get back to doing nothing happily.
Just a little bit of teen bonding can to wonders for the spirit.
In fact when Mr O and his mate Ed (I shall not call him Mr Ed for obvious reasons) got together  this afternoon I'd swear just having someone to hang with had him walking on water. Even doing a lot of nothing is better with a friend.

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13. Day 347. The Price is right

Naomi Price, drinking in the atmosphere between numbers
Producer Tom Greenard shows off one of his other talents
5am. It's the time you go home from concerts, it's not the time you arrive (at least that's how I think it used to go. We are talking about the dim dark past here).
In fact I rather suspect that when approached by either Spencer Howson or his "people" from 612 ABC Brisbane breakfast to perform at a live concert broadcast at 5am  more than one thought "silly things. they mean pm).
Certainly when I was flicking through the phone calendar a couple of weeks ago and saw an entry that said Concert at 5am my first reaction was "best hit the edit button on that one, you idiot".
But when you think of it, it's genius, pure evil genius.
Set about organising a concert in the lead-up to Christmas and try to get a huge line up of Brisbane's finest performers in the one room at the same time and you can pretty much guarantee that there will be diary clashes left, right and centre. There may be willingness but there's not likely to be availability.
But gig conflicts at 5am? Probably not.
So it was that Emma Stevens, The Good Ship, Brad Butcher, Slip on Stereo, Naomi Price as Adele, Women in Docs, Franky Walnut and Kate Miller-Heidke all took part in an amazing two hours and forty-five minutes of a radio/concert in front of a live studio audience.
What fun it was - far outweighing the inconvenience of getting up at 4.30am. Check out the photo gallery - if you want to see what the early birds were up to while half of Brisbane still slept

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12. Day 346. Always take the weather with you

Because I know you were wondering, the weather today was a few showers at first clearing mid afternoon.
Why would I think you would care? Because I suspect no topic is subjected to more closer analysis than what the weather gods are up to.
Today was one of those pre-Christmas days that had me charging between shops, government departments, medical offices, food outlets etc, etc earnestly marking off entries that I had carefully added to the to-do list (naturally, because of the season, it was a list I had checked twice).
Everywhere I went the greeting was the same "what's the weather like outside? or variations on the theme".
I rather suspect had I said "the snow is really closing in now" the person asking the question would not even have raised an eyebrow and just parroted "I know, right".
The thing is that there is something safe, familiar and comforting in conversations about the weather.
No-one can be offended in seasonal small talk. We all have an opinion. Everyone can join in. It's never going to get you into much trouble. It's common ground.
And it must have been nice for the common ground I was walking on to have received a light sprinkling this morning. A bit of a cold shower for everyone rushing around to get things done before Christmas was quite welcome. If only it had the same impact on my credit card now smoking hot from all the love and attention it's been getting of late.....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 12. Day 345. Dripping

Even at 7am, the writing was on the wall (or more precisely in a big wet patches under my armpits). It was going to be a stinking, humid Brisbane day.
Had I not been in work clothes I would have been under this water play feature at South Bank before breakfast.
By the time time I had hiked up Highgate Hill I was - like the water feature - dripping. It was a day where you didn't need the weather forecast to tell you a thunder storm was coming. The personal comfort meter was all the evidence a girl needed - that and the desperate need to crank up the air conditioning in full awareness that the resulting power bill will probably require a second mortgage to pay. Roll on summer, roll on. Or perhaps that should be roll on deodorant, roll on. It was that kind of day.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

January 10. Day 344. The Graduates

Graduation Day is one of those bitter sweet days on my annual calendar.
It is so satisfying to see another group of students don the cap and gown and parade across the stage of the Queensland Performing Arts Complex. But it is always just a little bit sad to see students you have nurtured go out and make their way in the world.
Today I was reflecting on how the heels grow higher and the skirts shorter with each new group of graduates but the sense of excitement remains the same. And rightly so. Three, four or even five years of hard work and study is well worth celebrating.
And it is such a delight to see the pride (and perhaps the relief) in the faces of the parents cheering on from the auditorium. Their support (and often their $$$$) normally plays a huge role in getting the students to where they were today.
As an academic it is gratifying to know you have played at least a small part in helping some of those students achieve this very significant milestone.
So good luck to you all. You will achieve great things. Please remember to send me an email when you do.
Bachelor of Media and Communications students Kathy Tong, Luciana Leung, Keziah Reyes and Bokie Chan jump for joy after graduating today.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9. Day 343. Water, water everywhere

There's water, water, everywhere yet I buy a bottle to drink,
I hate to think how much I've spent on bottled water in the past year. There's been water with bubbles, water sourced from sparkling mountain streams, imported water and now even water in fancy pants bottles wrapped in a label designed to look like a famous model's swimwear line.
But you know what? It's all H20.
There are plenty of spots in the world where it has to be bottled or boiled if you don't want to risk life and limb or at the very least totally ruin your holiday. Brisbane, Australia, is not one of those places.
And yet while we may whinge about paying the "outrageous" price per litre for petrol (about $1.50 at the moment) we had over $3 for 600 mls of water without a second thought.
And what's worse, last time I checked water was pretty freely available from the tap. A little organisation might be required to bottle and chill it before leaving the house but it's not actually a big ask.
(Fuel, on the other hand, does not come straight from the tap unless you have a coal seam gas fracking industry gone wrong in your area. Google it, if you don't know what I'm talking about. In any case, we don't and that's a column for another day).
So there I was in Musgrave Park this afternoon with the dog and a $3 bottle of Natural Australian Spring Water when I saw a water bubbler and a procession on Noisy Miners lining up for a drink.
Which one of us has the bird brain? I might have a drink on that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8. Day 342. Working with children and animals

So some smarty pants once said you should never work with children or animals. I actually feel very sad for people who believe this but also just a little bit jealous. Let me explain myself. There is something really, really special about the approach both children and animals have to the world. They have a great sense of fun, a real joy for life, a quest to learn new things and boundless energy. Yep, harnessing all that can be challenging but the rewards are worth it. Look at the joy on the faces of both my Fur Friend Rumple and his new buddy Charlotte in the park today. Charlotte is the daughter of a work colleague had she has a joyous free spirit. I popped round to visit Charlotte's family today because her mum had been injured in a car accident.
We all spent an hour or so playing in the park and Charlotte decided to help with Rumple's trick training.  It was such a delight watching the two of them. Why wouldn't you want to work with that? I'm sure we all felt far better for having the fun in the sun.
Which leads me to why I feel a bit jealous of those who think working with children and animals is a burden to be avoided at all costs. I can only assume that people who find kids and animals "difficult" to work with have only even encountered working adults who are more energetic, more free thinking, more rational and fair minded and kind and reasonable than dogs and kids. Yes, children and animals can be unpredictable and stubborn and selfish and inclined to the odd temper tantrum but I have worked with adults who display the same personality traits even though they should be old enough to know better. More disturbingly their rewards are normally far greater than the odd Schmacko or sweet. Quite frankly, sometimes working with children and animals is a walk in the park.

December 7. Day 341. Susan survives Swift

Dear Taylor Swift,
Susan has my permission to attend your concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane tonight
Susan's mother.
Seriously, I think that the vast majority of the audience at tonight's concert were of an age that they would either have needed their Mum's consent or have been in the presence of a responsible parent or guardian.
That is only one reason I was a surprise starter at the concert.
There's also the fact that until two hours before kick-off my plan for Saturday night had included a mug of green tea and Midsomer Murders on the tele.
Also, there's the small matter that I could not sing a single line of any song by Ms Swift if you paid me.
But my mate Megan had a spare ticket and there's a lot worse things that a girl can do on a Saturday night than hang with one of your nearest and dearest girl buddies.
Besides, I lost my big concert virginity at that same stadium to Simon and Garfunkel on February 15, 1983. And further, I lost my dignity to Robbie Williams again at Suncorp on December 14, 2006.
Also I have seen both One Direction and Justin Beiber perform live (long stories) and eventually my hearing came back so all good really.
And ....
It was one of the best concerts I have been to. Ever.
Taylor is an amazing performer. The show was part musical theatre, part light and sound show and quite simply a piece of theatrical magic.
One minute we were in a fair ground, then channeling Madonna when she was a Material Girl and later all Alice in Wonderland.
She was Billy Joel at the piano and dancing like Fred Astaire.
She can sing, dance, play the guitar and drums and boy can that girl work an audience. And let's face it, she looks pretty good in high waisted shorts too.
I'm in awe. I may never fully regain my hearing but I'm in awe.
I think that concert tops Midsomer Murders (if only because I stayed awake to the very end even though it was past my bedtime. Please don't tell my mother).

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6. Day 340. Nowhere to hide

 It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas - that magical time of year where a new game called Hide the Presents begins.
I'm running out of suitable hiding places, which is surprising in as much as the presents seem to have shrunk in size over the years. No longer do I have to secrete trampolines, cubby houses or puppet theatres.
No, teen presents tend to be much, much smaller in bulk although even more capable of making a giant impression on the bank balance.
The male residents of my house, that is everyone but me, do not like surprises. They are incapable of keeping them and they would prefer the joy of finding the hidey hole than the joy of unwrapping the unexpected on Christmas morning.
I will not give in to this. With the house vacant for several hours today I was able to seek out new places to stow gifts. And then I rewarded self with a walk where I found the reptiles at the University of Queensland lakes were also seemingly looking for somewhere to hide.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 5. Day 339. Running rings around me

I think you can tell a lot about what sort of a parent a person will be by what sort of a pet owner they are, and visa versa.
Truth is both the fur child and the Drama Teen have got me sussed, well and truly. They have both figured out how to work the system. Sad eyes and a general air of hopelessness is normally enough - and they both know it.
Several times a week, the furry one often ends up getting carried home from our walk perched on my shoulder like a parrot having gone on a lie down strike and insisted in dog speak that he is really far too tired to walk up the big, bad hill.
So I pick him up. He has little legs and he probably is weary, I figure.
Yeah right. The same little ball of energy has twice this week bounded up and down Mouth Cooth-tha without a care in the world and with more than enough energy to spare to race ahead along the track or cool off in a mountain stream. He quite literally runs rings around me.
Fact is, why would you do the boring stuff if someone else will do it for you?
It is pretty much exactly the same philosophy adopted by the two-legged offspring when it comes to tidying the bedroom or loading the dishwasher or taking out the rubbish.
I know they are working the system (where the system is me) and I resolve to be tougher but then they look at me and give me those puppy dog eyes ... At least the drama teen doesn't expect me to carry him up the hill on my shoulder. Nope, he expects me to bring the car.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 4. Day 338. Free flowing

Sometimes the answer is right there in front of you, staring you in the face but you are too blind to see.
Sometimes, however, you have what it takes to work it out but what you need is a little time and space.
Here I am not talking about just the space to breathe - but that helps obviously - but a bit more than that. Here I am talking about time to sit and stare and dream.
Today, I was trying to figure out how all the pieces in what seemed like an impossible family timetable conflict could be made fit. In short, it seemed like they couldn't.
So I took the time for a walk with the dog, down to the lakes at the University of Queensland.
I go here often, I take photos of the birds and the turtles and the lizards and sometimes the humans.
I think I'm taking it all in but I'm always on a bit of a schedule. Today I just sat for a bit and looked at the fountain in the middle of the lakes. The fountain is always there and always on but today I was fascinated by the way the wind was whipping up the jets of spray at the top. It was probably the first time I had actually properly given it more than a second glance.
It was hypnotic, rather like lying on your back watching clouds.
And then somewhere in there it hit me. Instead of trying to fit things in where they always go - in those after school hours, turn it around. Start from the beginning of the day and work forward not the end of the day and work back - and allow yourself two minute noodles with the mango chicken tonight. And Voila! It will all fit. I may never be a fountain of all knowledge but at least I know a new place to go for a bit of inspiration.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3. Day 337. It's all fun and games

OK, I admit it. I might just be a tinsy, tiny bit competitive.
I will never win a running race, I would be last in any captain's pick on a sports team regardless of what sport but give me an exam to sit, a dice to roll or a card to trump and out comes the killer instinct.
If ever I ask you to games night at our place, politely decline with a previous date washing your hair or something.
Sure, we are not playing for sheep stations but some days you wouldn't know it. You've heard of the saying "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt?" I reckon that was first coined by a person leaving a family games night at my place.
So, I exaggerate. A bit. Truth is we love our games and we love to win and all's fair in love and Cluedo, or Monopoloy or Uno. Cheating is only cheating if you get caught.
Did I mention The Teen and I won Articulate tonight? The photo below is the team of Big Fat Losers, Charles, Kate and Alison. Yep, it's all fun and games around here.