Thursday, January 31, 2013

January in review

January 31. Day 31. When I'm cleaning windows

Forget throwing stones, there are plenty of things people in glass houses should not do (even those with curtains).
The $200 I had to outlay for window cleaning today says clearly that people in glass houses shouldn't have children.
Don't get me wrong. I love all the glass around our house - the glass pool fence, the glass deck panels, the glass step panels. We have a fantastic outlook and a house that interacts with its environment but I have a sneaky suspicion that glass panelling was the brain child of a male architect (and one with no children at that).
As nice as it looks that's a sh*tload of glass to remove handprints and footprints (yes footprints) from and to clear of chlorine splashes from bomb diving. And that's before you start on the smears of what appears to be food and even the imprint of where the basketball misses the hoop and hits the deck glass.
One thing you can say about my extended family, they do a great smear job.
But I can see clearly now the smears have gone thanks to Ulick.
It's official. People in glass houses should have a credit card.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30. Day 30. Dripping

It is so true that if all else fails talk about the weather. Not only is it a "safe" conversation, it also a subject of endless variety and fascination. In short, there is always something to talk about weather you like it or not (pun intended).
Even allowing for that, this week has been a "special" case.
Cyclonic winds and driving rain and flooding and now the irony of a city facing critical water shortages because of flooding in the water treatment plants. Sigh.
But as things return to normal we can return to whinging about the heat and the humidity.
I walk almost every day and although my memory is short, today was one of the least pleasant strolls I can recall.
The humidity when I set out was 95% and even though the temperature was only in the mid 20s I was dripping.
When I stopped to buy water on the way home the woman in the shop even asked if I was okay. Clearly a "rosy" complexion with pouring sweat isn't my best look. Who would have thought?
Anyway, it's nothing a long, cool shower wouldn't fix if only there wasn't those water restrictions weren't in place ....

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29. Day 29. Back to school

Only two weeks ago, my 16-year-old niece Scarlett  phoned me and begged me to look after 11-year-old Cleo “the most annoying little sister ever”.
Yet this morning Scarlett was patiently tying and retying the regulation bottle green ribbons in Cleo’s hair until Little Sis was satisfied that the bows were just right for her first day at big school.
That’s what sisters are for, right (Although I can’t recall either of my sisters tying bows in my hair. Ever. I’ll have to have words about that).
Hair was on the agenda at our house too today.
We have one more day until school returns for 2013 so it was official back to school haircut day.
The school’s haircut policy makes me laugh (not because of any particular clause but because of the level of detail).
Hair must be neat and tidy and off the collar and ears and out of the eyes. No undercuts. Only natural colour. No shorter than a number three blade. Nothing that will draw attention to the student. No sideburns. And that’s just the bits I can remember.
Anyway we are now almost ready for Year 10. A bit of spit and polish on the shoes and it will be all good. Here’s hoping for a happy and uneventful school year.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28. Day 28. Memories come flooding back

I got sunburned today. This is an insane situation because
1)                  Sun safety is a real passion of mine and
2)                  Brisbane is flooding and for most of my walk I was having to protect my camera (and myself) from rain.
Yep, this is a nation of extremes. It is so true that it never rains but it pours.
Oswald was nothing special as a cyclone but after being downgraded to a tropical low he really packed a punch. Belting rain and terrifying winds have been hitting Queensland finally letting up just a bit this morning.
So we went out for a walk and it was hard not to be immediately hit by thoughts of 2011 and the massive floods that hit the city. Then, like now, it was after the sun came out that the worst of the flooding hit from water coming down the Brisbane River from further upstream.
We are reassured that the levels will be nothing like what we experienced last time but everyone was talking about it. Today at West End along the river there was clear evidence of flooding. The Citycat terminal was under water, parks and roads were inundated and residents were starting to sandbag units in preparation for the worst of it from noon tomorrow. Water logged birds were emerging to try and dry off and get a feed.
My Mum is still without power and while the lights are on at our place there is no phone, no pay TV and (gasp!) no internet. While the teen considers the lack of technology to be an intolerable hardship we know how lucky we are. Our thoughts are with those who are not doing so well.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27. Day 27. Ants in my pants

I normally fantasise about having nothing to do and nowhere to go. So you'd think I'd be happy when the wild weather we have at the moment has resulted in an official warning advising against non essential travel (they even said that going to the video shop was not considered essential, What?! Try telling my teenager that).
Anyway, choosing to do nothing and being forced to do nothing are two completely different things. I've got ants in my pants. I would really like to head out for a walk but having been drenched yesterday I fully admit such action would be foolhardy. I also admit that whinging about being housebound is petulant when others are experiencing such destruction.
So I will stay put and eat chocolate limiting my travel to "essential" trips to the pool to release water as it starts lapping the edge.
This photo was taken near the pool filter during an essential trip. As I know nothing about plants I can not tell you what it is but the ants seem to like it as much as I do.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26. Day 26. Soggy celebrations

 Murphy’s Law. Last year the Australia Day Celebrations at South Bank were cancelled a day or two out because it had been bucketing with rain and more was forecast. January 26 arrived with bright sun shine. This year it was also raining in the lead up but they decided the show must go on. Naturally it the heavy downpours persisted.
There was a slight let up around munch time so I decided to do the patriotic thing and walk down. The crowds were thinner than usual but everyone was enjoying the activities – and then Sod’s law. The light showers turned torrential. Everyone got soaked. But the mood remained buoyant (especially in the bar, it has to be said). The kids were making the most of it jumping in the puddles. No-one was going to let a little (well a lot) of rain spoil the fun.
I confess I was transfixed by the kids dressed as cockatoos, echidnas and kangaroos blowing bubbles which were quickly blown away in the winds or stomped on by the eager crowds.
The stall holders at the markets doubtless have had happier Australia Day. Everyone else seemed determined that it wasn’t going to rain on Australia’s parade.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25. Day 25. The Writing is on the Wall

There's something rather wickedly enjoyable being able to wonder aimlessly around a city as the people around you bustle about looking grey and efficient rushing to get to work. So it was this morning in Melbourne as I played tourist while everyone else was going about their normal Friday morning work business. But try as I might to put it out of my mind as I snapped away at the magnificent graffiti in a back Melbourne alley I knew that in a few hours I would be back at the airport flying home. The time had come. The writing was on the wall and all that.
I grow to love Melbourne more with each visit and with each new discovery. Often I just stumble on something but in the case of this laneway discovery I have my new virtual friend Smallclough to thank.
After posting about Melbourne on Flickr earlier this week I was given a tip off from a local about other things to keep an eye out for. What a great find and a happy note on which to end our all too short Melbourne stay. Never mind we will be back and Smallclough if ever you are in Brisbane may I return the favour.
So now it's back to my own city bustling about as we get ready for back to school next week. As sad as that is I will be happy to wake up in my own bed in the morning. You have to admit there's no place like home.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24. Day 24. Free as the birds

It is a rare and beautiful thing. A day with absolutely on the calendar and nothing on the to-do list. Nothing I should be doing and nothing I was avoiding doing. So it was when I woke up in Melbourne this morning. After two huge days at the tennis, my mother and son decided they really wanted to chill and would happily laze about the hotel which left me with a free pass. Free as a bird with a big city to explore and so without a look back I was off with the camera, a water bottle, the credit card and barely a look back.
I spent a lovely few hours wandering along the banks of the Yarra (where I watched these birds at play around a water bubbler which happily for them refused to properly turn off) and then into the city.
I love Melbourne's alleys and arcades and with no-one to whinge about hurrying up I was having a very nice time thank-you very much.
Of course the idea that you can completely divorce yourself from your responsibilities is a  complete flight of fantasy.
I spent more money on the boy than I did myself. My bag was packed with fruit for their breakfast and I was in the chemist buying products for the young man's infected toe when the phone rang.
"We're hungry," they said. What? A 15-year-old and his 71-year-old Grandmother can't work out how to ring room service between them?
Never mind it was time to give the credit card a rest in any case and when you get to my age there is only so much fun you can have before you need a little lie down.
So lured by the rumbling stomachs of those at home and the prospect of clean, fresh hotel sheets and a bed made by someone else I returned for an afternoon nap.
It was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23. Day 23. Hit me with your best shot

These days, images of anything can be found within seconds with the click of a mouse. You could be stealing these photos I took today at the Rod Laver Arena as we speak. Should you be doing a right click to save, I might as well tell you that's Victoria Azarenka and a bloke fixing the SpiderCam courtside during a break (above) Jeremy Chardy (left) and Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (below).
But anyway children, let me tell you a scary story about the prehistoric past where there was no such thing as Wikipedia not Google images. No really. That time did exist.
I can tell you this because after 30 years I think the official secrets period expires and my darling little brother can no longer come after me for breaching family confidentiality.

It was a Sunday night when sweet little Michael, then in about Grade 6 (we didn't even call them Years back then) announced that he has to do a talk the next morning and it needed to be accompanied with a poster, palm cards the whole business.
It could be on any topic but somehow the information and the images had to be conjured up and there was no World Wide Web to rely on. At this point having a big sister with a teen obsession relating to someone other than Lief Garrett came in handy, very handy indeed.
There was nothing I did not know about John McEnroe and I had the tennis magazines to back it up.
So I wrote that talk, my father made the poster, mum transcribed my scribbles on to palm cards and the darling boy committed it to memory. I'm pretty sure that's not what the teachers mean by "helping" with homework but it sure got him out of the poo. Must be ace to have such a great sister. I'm still waiting for the cheque.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22. Day 22. Serving an Ace

It's been a long time, far too long, since I've sat in the stands and watched a major tennis match.
If memory serves me correctly it was in the early '80s at the now defunct Milton tennis courts in Brisbane and I was waving a banner confessing my love for John McEnroe.
What can I say? I liked the tennis bad boy. A lot.
Yes, the antics were great but so was that never-give-up attitude. You've got to love someone who refuses to quit.
Today it was David Ferrer who was refusing to lie down and die despite being two sets down and surviving three match points.
A weaker man would have been in the showers and licking his wounds but there was never any suggestion that Ferrer was about to go quietly.
Equally impressive was  Nicolas Almagro who was gracious in defeat. How you lose says as much about you as how you win. Perhaps more.
It was an awesome spectacle and one I was really happy to share with Mr O. It was his first ever tennis match and an experience he is really keen to repeat. I refuse to allow it to be another 30 years before we are back.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21. Day 21. Having a ball

 Schadenfreude (noun) Happiness at the misfortune of others.
This I promise is not my present state of mind. It is true that the misfortune of another - my uncle Philip - brings me to Melbourne this week.
My Mother's tennis-mad brother and wife Marie make an annual trip to Melbourne for the Australian Open Tennis.
So it was to be this week but because of a badly infected toe he is unable to walk and they have reluctantly decided not to make the journey. It is hard to feel anything but extremely sad for them.
I also feel extremely grateful at being able to share in the accommodation and tickets to the quarter finals he was to have used.
So today my mother, aunt, Theatre Boy and I flew from Brisbane to Melbourne. Theatre Boy and I will attend tomorrow's day session and the Wednesday night games. The Ladies the other two sessions.
Of course Melbourne has much more to offer than tennis so this afternoon the boy and I went off and hit the shops. This is what we saw in the Australia on Collins arcade.
Amaze-Balls it's called and that's exactly what I consider the whole opportunity.
Thanks Uncle Philip and get well soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20. Day 20. Whitewashed

I admit that I am my own worst enemy. Like many women, I inadvertently encourage "learned helplessness" by liking things done my way or no  way.
The men in my life have learned that doing it "wrong" will result in them getting away with not having to do it at all.
Now it is true that it is there is no reason why when the laundry is being hung out that the socks need to pegged next to one another neatly in pairs. But I like it that way and I argue it makes sorting and returning the clean washing to its rightful home much easier.
On the other hand there is a really good reason to load the dishwasher in accordance to the manufacturer's specifications. Jamming everything in and slamming the door shut will pretty much guarantee that nothing gets cleaned. I am often reminding my nearest and dearest that the water does actually need to be able to reach surfaces in order to clean them.
In this instance, near enough it not good enough.
So I can only imagine the conversation that is going on behind this freshly whitewashed fence I walked by this afternoon.
In my mind someone was being nagged about doing the bloody painting - and so he did. So what if you can't see the wood for the trees.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19. Day 19. Slacking

If you believe the media, young people are meant to be such slackers.
But let me tell you it was me and not the teen and young adult men and women in Musgrave Park this afternoon who was taking the soft option.
Repeatedly I was invited to join in and have a go. Repeatedly I politely declined.
Here's my excuse and I am sticking to it. Until today I had never heard of Slacklining. Until today, I never knew that people tied lines between trees and set about tight rope walking, bouncing, jumping and tumbling from them.
Don't get me wrong. It looked like fun, enormous fun. But I have enough trouble balancing with both feet on the ground and I talking about BEFORE I have a drink or two. But I was happy to watch. This is Simon showing that he had nothing to lose except his cap.  Impressive huh?
I was also impressed by the attitude of all taking part and how they were all so keen to learn from and teach each other as well as encourage lame-looking onlookers with cameras such as myself.
Thanks guys but some things are better attempted by the young. Slacklining is clearly one of those things.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18. Day 18. Bumblebee showing

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Bumblebee who?
Bumblebee showing if you don't wear pants.
Okay, you'd better stop laughing now or your side will surely split.
Don't blame me for this joke. Blame my Dad. It's a Dad joke.
A Dad joke defined as a lame, embarrassing or unfunny joke told by someone's father.
My Dad was a Dad joker of the top order. Despite being a man with a greatly developed sense of humour he had a special liking of the Dad joke.
I couldn't count how many times we were told about the two blokes cleaning the deck of a ship. One said "Where's the soap". The other replied "Yes it does doesn't it."
You just snorted, right? Okay probably not.
But that's the aim of a Dad joke to make you groan.
And smile at least on the inside as I do every time I see a bee like this one I photographed just up the road today.
A bee not wearing pants? Its name must be Nicholas. I'll stop now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17. Day 17. Just add water

Fact 1: I know very little about the life and times of Marco Polo.
Fact 2: Knowing nothing about a subject rarely stops people from commenting on it.
So here goes. While I know little about Marco Polo's journeys from Italy to Asia, I am pretty sure he did it with his eyes wide open.
As such, I find the swimming pool game Marco Polo about the stupidest activity ever created. If you are unfamiliar it goes like this. It is a little bit like tiggy in that someone is It and has to catch one of the other competitors. The key differences are that the game is played in the pool and It has to do the catching with his or her eyes closed. To help, It shouts "Marco" and the others must reply with "Polo". That's it. There are numerous variations such as the one where It shouts "Justin" and the team shouts "Bieber". Tell you what, that would make me really determined not to catch anything but I digress.
The thing is that while I might find Marco Polo (the game not the person) incredibly stupid, children never do. It is almost inevitable that when a group gathers in the pool someone will suggest the game. So it was that this afternoon when the cousins gathered to escape the heat. There were also ball games, splashing and shouting. Truth is I don't think they would have cared what they were doing. If you want to have fun in the summer heat just add water.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16. Day 16 Licking his lips in anticipation

I will not even require a research grant to share with you the Susan hypothesis on binge eating - it's siblings and particularly those in large families.
It goes like this. No-one wants to think that a sibling is somehow getting more than his or her share. Everyone wants to somehow outdo one's sibling. Nothing is more delicious than thinking you have somehow got one over one's annoying brother or sister. Yes, our family is made up of our nearest and dearest but also our most fierce rivals.
So out comes a treat food - a packet of biscuits or a bag of chips. This was a rare event in our family - a single packet of 'Chocolate Wheatens or Chips Ahoy choc chip biscuits occasionally made an appearance on a Friday afternoon.
It then became the aim - no the duty - of each of us to eat as many biscuits as we possibly could in as fast a time as possible to ensure we got at least our fair share. And there it is. The makings of a binge eater. Funnily enough the same level of competition never applied to Mum's meatloaf or boiled peas, but I digress.
This behaviour is not limited to humans. This morning at South Bank I ran into a bloke named Paul who was feeding the lizards, something he says he does every morning. I am not sure of the wisdom of feeding processed turkey to lizards but I can tell you they were lapping it up.
When I started taking photos, Paul threw an extra piece out cautioning that the lizard had probably eaten its fill. But wait, he said. There's another lizard over there. This bloke may not want it but there's no way he's going to let the other bloke get anywhere near it.
And so the turkey was lapped up and the lizard is seen here licking its lips in satisfaction.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15. Day 15. What goes up

As a child I was completely awesome at climbing up trees. Unfortunately for my father regularly called on to rescue me, I was completely crap at climbing down trees. Getting stuck was one of my special skills generally somewhere near the top of the poinciana tree out the front of our home. It was a very nice climbing tree and a particular favourite of mine despite my inability to climb down.
Perhaps I needed a harness like this one being used by Ben in the poisoned fig tree in West End this afternoon.
Ben was a member of a three-man team working on the tree today. Late last year someone who has not yet been caught drilled holes in the base of the tree and injected poison in the 60-year-old tree. Since then extensive work has been done to save it. The team on site today is hopeful that signs of new growth mean that the tree may be saved. To help it along it was being treated with silicone for additional strength and Ben was climbing to the upper reaches to take samples and check that it did not pose a danger to passing pedestrians or cars. Having climbed to the top he came straight back down again without any need to call for reinforcements to help. Not that I was offering, not now that my Dad is no longer around to talk me down.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14. Day 14. Let them eat cake

Lewis Carroll had it almost right when he wrote that we have only one birthday a year but 364 un-birthdays each worth celebrating. Frankly I don't see why we should stop at one. Only fair to extend your birthday celebrations out over a period of days or weeks at least when you are young. It all evens out in the end because inevitably there will be years later in life when there are no birthdays at all - who wants to grow old? Nothing much to recommend that.
So it is that the boy starts day three of birthday celebrations today. There was one celebrations when all the family was in town last week. Yesterday, on his actual birthday, more cake and another dreadful rendition of Happy Birthday.
Today mini cup cakes will be delivered to the boy and friends at his musical theatre workshop. Another celebration has been pencilled in when friends out of town for the school holidays return in a week. Being gluten intolerant means Mr O can't (or won't) eat bread. Other gluten-free products such as muffins, pizza and - yes - cake are much more palatable. So in the words of Marie Antoinette "let them eat cake".

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 13. Day 13. My baby

It's my birthday. Well actually I was born in April but January 13 is the day I gave birth and today my "baby" turned 15. FIFTEEN. Good God where did all those years go?
He's taller than me (and his father neither of which are actually great achievements). His foot is about six sizes larger than mine. I can, however, still carry him. Okay in case you think this is getting weird carrying a 15-year-old is not something I do often but I like to test if I still could at least once a year and I am happy to say I still can should the need ever come my way.
The thing is your baby is always your baby.
When we married we took vowed about "in sickness and health". As any parent knows, there is no equivalent vow uttered by those giving birth but the unspoken is that and so, so much more. Funny how in the lead up to the birth you focus on preparing the nursery, the likely pain and the ensuing sleep deprivation and that's about it.
That is only one step in a long, long, rewarding, frustrating, delightful, infuriating journey. I'm only 15 years into it.
So happy birthday to my big baby Mr O. Love ya.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12. Day 12. Rooted

Saturday. Generally on a weekend I enjoy nothing more than wandering around one or other of the markets around town. Some times I buy things but often I don't.
I have a rule - a rule loosely adapted from Miss Piggy's dieting motto of never eat more than you can lift. As I usually walk to the markets my rule is never buy more than you can carry. As the things that attract my attention are normally small and shiny this is rarely a barrier.
Today was different. Today I was more in the market for fresh produce for a barbecue tomorrow and I had the car. But that's wasn't the main difference.
Today I, like just about everyone else out there, really just wanted to get out of the place. It was too damn hot.
Just about every stall keeper welcomed me with a variation of "hot enough for ya?"
The fact that I'm sure I looked like the Wicked Witch of the West about the scream "I'm melting" was probably answer enough.
Yep, by the end of it, I was pretty much like these shallots - rooted.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11. Day 11. Blending in

With Theatre Boy at the Australian Musical Theatre Workshop at Girls Grammar this week, I've taken the opportunity to go for my daily walk through Roma Street Parklands just across the road. It's an awesome addition to the city and I'm happy as a pig in shit walking there (especially in the very shaded and cool sections). Theatre Boy, meanwhile, is having an unbelievable time across the road. He's learning a lot and taking advantage of an impressive line-up of celebrity tutors and guests but I sense as much as anything he's enjoying spending time with like-minded teens. Being a happy teenage is very much about finding your tribe. As a would-be performer you want to stand out but as a teenager blending in and fitting in is definitely a huge part of the deal. Standing out is death - which is pretty much the same for this lizard. I've loved these creatures since I was a child and I love how they camouflage themselves. Last thing they want to do is draw attention to themselves especially with big brutes like me around. This bloke was very much laying low - flat out like a lizard drinking as the saying goes. A wise strategy for everyone on a day like today.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10. Day 10. It's the little things

This dragonfly nearly cost me big time. Well, I will blame the dragonfly rather than the fact that I am absent minded for the fact that my car sat parked at Roma Street Parklands with no money in the meter for quite a little while this morning.
I should not have been away very long - but then I got to watching the dragonflies at play.
Fascinating little things really. Beautiful, delicate and I suspect they pack quite a punch (a bit like me really, apart from that beautiful bit).
So I was flitting about playing with the camera and I lost all sense of time. And then I started to wonder when I was due back at the car and it hit me - the money was not going to run out because I had forgotten to put any in. I was on the phone and I simply walked away.
So if you saw a very unfit woman running through Roma Street Parklands this morning that would have been me, my face redder than this creature's tail.
But guess what? No ticket. No fine. No parking inspector anywhere in sight. Epic win.
I managed to get a couple of photos I am really happy with and I dodged a fine.
It is truly the little things that can make your day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 9. Day 9. Turning up the heat

Despite how it sounded no-one was being sacrificed at my house today.
It may have been one of the hottest days of the year and large tracks of the country may, unfortunately, be threatened by bush fire but no-one was being burned at the stake at our abode.
They say there's a fine line between pleasure and pain and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to the noise erupting from our swimming pool on a hot summer's afternoon but I can assure you the children were shrieking in delight. They do that. Loud and proud.
If you want to ensure school holiday fun, just add wate. It may surprise you to learn that backflips - at least those of the physical kind - are not a specialty of mine. Therefore I am not in a position to know whether it is physically possible to complete them without the noise generated today. I can only assume not. In any event, I'm not complaining as they were having fun and I promise no-one was getting hurt.This is my nephew Connor tackling the heat head on.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January 8. Day 8. Big mouth

I think my diet is now approaching the end of its 33rd year. As such there is not much I don't know about losing weight. Name a diet and there's a good chance I've tried it. Unfortunately there is NOTHING I don't know about gaining weight. I will not say that I'm big boned. The truth is I have a big mouth, rather like the Little Pied Cormorant I photographed at Roma Street Parkland this morning.
For the most part what I eat is healthy. That's not the issue. The issue is how much. Expert advise to listen to your body and stop eating when you are full totally misses the point. Hunger has so little to do with it.
I eat when I'm happy. I eat when I'm sad. I eat to be social, or when I'm bored, or want a distraction, or because there's food on my plate or there's food on someone else's plate, or because it tastes good or through some misguided concern about starving Ethiopians or because it's chocolate ... you get the idea.
Food and I have reached a happy place where for now we are coexisting in relative balance but something else I saw at the Parklands this morning was rather concerning. The sign informed that 57 fish died in 2009 because of excessive quantities of bread. What? If they ever find there's a similar problem in humans I am in big trouble. I've never met a carbohydrate I didn't like. Death by bread is too much to swallow even for a big mouth such as myself.