Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30. Day 273. The friends that you keep

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the company (s)he keeps. If this is so, I must be awesome. The fact is I have awesome friends and this week two of my besties and a couple of their teenage children and a giant Golden Retriever joined Drama Teen, Rumple and I at our beach holiday. This was a stroke of genius for a couple of reasons
1) A four bedroom house is a trifle excessive for a woman, a teenager and a dog
2) Card games and board games are part of a great holiday but need numbers
3) Just because my husband and my mother are overseas and can't join me doesn't mean I can't have drinking buddies
4) A dog should have friends too
5) I love the beach and it's an experience that's even better with friends. As these photos show, it's an arrangement that works for all

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29. Day 272. Feeling blue

I tell you, it's not fair.
Nature has a way of rewarding the evil, the nasty, the cruel and the vicious with the best looks - think tigers, wasps and super models.
Even though blue bottles are micro balls of nasty, I have never thought the maker compensated the stinger with great looks - until today.
The beach was littered with the remains of bluebottles each more captivating beautiful than the last. Even a giant bird of prey couldn't compete for my interest.
For some reason the delightful lyrics of Monty Python's Dull and Ugly sprang to mind:

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 spiky urchin? Who made the shark? He did
All things scabbed and ulcerous, all pox both great and small
Putrid, foul and gangrenous, the Lord God made them all

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28. Day 271. Just what the doctor ordered

Time, they say, heals all wounds.
And it may just be time that has finally allowed for a cough-free Sunday.
Or it could be the double dose of antibiotics followed by the steroid puffer but for my money it is the beach and the sea air that is just what the doctor ordered - I have enough of them, I should know.
It is just a shame I can't apply for a Medicare-funded rebate for a beach vacation on the strength of it but still. We arrived for a week at the beach today and I wasn't the only one jumping for joy at the sight of the sand.
The fur friend Rumple started pulling at the lead and barking as we emerged from the path to cross the road to the beach.
As soon as he was off the lead he was off and in the water.
For two hours we walked up the beach. I collected shells, paddled and chatted to other dog owners.
Rumple chased balls and birds and dogs, sniffed bottoms and annoyed fishermen.
He pounced and paddled, he ducked and dived.
He rolled in the sand and in anything he could find that smelled.
It was hard to believe this was the same dog who sat like a sad sack on my lap at the emergency veterinary surgery for hours yesterday, like the sick little puppy he was.
The beach, it would seem, is also just what the vet ordered.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September 27. Day 270. Sick little puppy

There was this one time when I was about to go on holidays when a dog bit me on the bum. I was knocking on a neighbour's door to check they were right to clear the mailbox while we were away when their normally passive dog bit me. I had to detour via the GP's for a tetanus shot. Today I feared another dog might ruin another holiday, but my concern for my sick little puppy far, far outweighed any thoughts of holidays. For two hours he sat on my lap in the waiting room of the after hours vet looking so sad, barely moving, not even reacting to the other dogs around him. Then he lay on the flood of the treatment room while his blood sample was being analysed looking so tragically, pathetically sad. When your child is sick you heart hurts, and Rumple is my baby. I know non-dog people might not understand this, and plenty of people have plenty of good reason to think my relationship with Rumple is a little over the top. But spend a few hours waiting and watching in an emergency vet surgery and you see pet owners at their most vulnerable, The image burned into my mind from today was one of a family, Mum, Dad and two kids probably in their early high school years who arrived, I suspect to say their last goodbyes. They were clutching each other, eyes red and checks wet. The boy was holding a roll of toilet paper, because I box of tissues would not have been sufficient to deal with the flood of tears. They were escorted behind closed doors and I didn't see them again. And this is why the $338 I paid to learn Rumple most likely has a bout of gastro from something he ate was a fine investment in peace of mind. We left with drugs and a special diet and a bucket load of reassurance. Hopefully a holiday at the seaside will do us both good.

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 26. Day 269. The early bird

Happy blog day to you
Happy blog day to you
Happy blog day dear Susan
Happy blog day to you
One thousand days. Every day. Consecutively.
In the early days when it was fresh and new the business of photographing and writing stuff was fun and then in the middle of the the first year it got old. Very old. But having made a commitment to myself that I would do this blogging thing for a year, I was going to see it through come hell or high water. Then this weird thing happened. By the end of Day 366, I felt like I had unfinished business so I launched into a second year and then a third. And so today was Day 1000. Now it is just something I do, like cleaning my teeth or whinging about marking, it's part of the routine.
It takes time, quite a lot of time, and commitment but today's images explain everything about why I keep doing this.
1) It was taken on a morning walk with the fur friend and school friend. The days when I try to talk myself out of walking, I remind myself that I need a photograph and the contents of my fridge might be a great scientific experiments but good phonographic material they are not
2) Sure marking is creative. Finding new ways of expressing "this is shit"  in a way that passes as constructive criticism requires a great deal of creative genius but it is not always enjoyable. There have to be better ways to exercise your creative genius. Blogging fills that need
3) My photography is so much better than it was at the beginning, especially when it comes to birds. Before this project I'm pretty sure I'd never taken a photo of a bird, at least not intentionally, and not of the feathered type. But now birds are kind of a thing and so it is fitting that Day 1000 is a bird, and a bird who has got the worm, because grub is also a thing with me. I consider this a perfect blog day present.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 25. Day 268. Ahoy there



 Me: I'm heading to the Maritime Museum in the morning
Teen: Why?
Me: It's Pirate Week
Teen: Really? What are they pirating?
Face palm moment.
I like to think he was joking. He probably wasn't. Pirating now is less about walking the plank and more about clicking a mouse and downloading something illegally.
But for the little ones, pirates still evoke images of the high seas, parrots on a shoulder and more than a few "ahoy there me hearties"
Quite simply kids love pirates and if you are going to have pirate theme day there could be no better place than a maritime museum. The children, many dressed as pirates, got to crawl all over the ships on display, learn fun facts about the high seas and take part in pirate craft.
A loyal band of volunteers all decked out in their pirate finery led the activities and all seemed to be having as much fun as the children.
And best of all for someone who gets seasick just thinking about the concept of a voyage at sea, all the craft on display were in a dry dock. Now, that's like discovering buried treasure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24. Day 267. Black Diggers


History, they say, is written by the victors. There is, of course, a huge element of truth in this but it is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Not all on the "winning" team have the same influence on what the record books says. And while I'm yet to see it, my understanding is that Black Diggers, which opens at QPAC tomorrow night, aims to fill in a few significant gaps in the story about the involvement of Indigenous soldiers fighting for Australia in World War 1. At a time when they were not even considered citizens many Indigenous Aussies joined the war effort and only to find themselves shunned when the war was over. It may not be possible to reverse this shameful treatment but at least bringing it to public attention corrects the record. From my sneak peak behind the scenes today, I am expecting a compelling piece of theatre that every Australian should see. Australians, black and white, deserve to see Australian stories on stage and not just the happy ones (indeed I would say it is even more important that we learn from the not so attractive stories from our past).

When opportunity knocks

I don't call him Drama Teen for nothing. For as long as I can remember my boy has wanted to pursue a career on the stage. So when I suggested he might like to accompany me to a media call for Black Diggers he was totally ready for it. Meeting at the stage door, walking through the back of house corridors, sitting in the Playhouse Theatre with only a handful of others, being able to walk on the stage and then shake hands with director Wesley Enoch that's about as good as it gets. Hanging with Mum on the school holidays isn't always something to avoid at all costs!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23. Day 266. Baby steps

So many inspirational quotes, or sayings or cliches. Not sure what they are but there were lots of them.
Start small, aim high
Lead by example
The longest journey starts with a single step
You have to crawl before you can walk.
And doubtless countless others.
I often find myself in Musgrave Park admiring the slackliners walking on lines strung between the trees so today was, in a way,  no different except it was.
On a single low line between the trees, Dad Peter, his 12-year-old son Kel and Kel's friend Sam were taking turns on the line. With each attempt they wobbled less and walked a few more steps. The boys started hanging on to Peter's shoulder or head but before long he was easing away and their excitement was obvious when they actually managed to walk the entire length. While I was watching them, behind me something on a much, much larger scale was unfolding. A giant line spanning the whole length of the park had been strung up at least seven feet high and a single walker was giving it a red hot go. It was brought to my attention by Peter who indicated I was focusing my attention - and my camera - in the wrong place. Certainly it was very, very impressive and a master of the craft at work but I'm not sure that a couple of 12-year-olds and a Dad beating their fears and the line isn't every bit as much an achievement. Either way, I suspect both groups ended the day on a high.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22. Day 265. Super

 Just another manic Monday. Into Week 2 of single parenthood with my husband visiting family in the UK. in course two of antibiotics for both Drama Teen and myself. There's school holidays to juggle. There's the job I collect a pay cheque for and the one with the bigger workload a woman does for "love". As I like to say women have been told they can have it all but we now know that means we get to do it all.
Sometimes you feel like you need some super powers. You can't make it go away but you can make it fun, some days a lot of fun. Like today. After spending a semester banging on about the importance of  using social media to journalism today was time to put it to the test with a little stunt. In a crowded lecture theatre a mobile phone calls. The "rude" student takes the call, says he will be right there and strips to reveal a Batman outfit. The door opens and Holy Lecture Theatre it's Joker. It's one against one until two other students strip to their Lycra super suits and it's game on.  A bit of Biff, Wham, Kapow culminating in the Joker holding a pen to my neck (because a pen is mightier than a sword) and leading me hostage style from the room.
Sure it's a stunt, but there were real learning outcomes and there's no rule about having fun is there?
Thanks so much to the delightful drama students who helped me put it together AND sat through a journalism lecture taking notes to blend in.  Dedication, above and beyond. Love ya work. You are super heroes. all of you.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 21. Day 264. Rule breaker

How do you plead?
Guilty, your honour.
Ignorance of the law is, I know, no defence. Nor, unfortunately, is the stupidity of the law. You do the crime, you do the time and I admit I was caught red handed in the Queen Street Mall in the possession of a dog.
Now here's the thing. As a city fringe dweller I frequently walk into the city with the fur friend and not once have I seen the signs prohibiting dogs and not once did it ever occur to me to look for one. And not once has it been an issue to anyone...  until today. A mall is like a big footpath between shops and a well behaved dog on a lead with an owner in possession of a giant roll of poo bags wouldn't strike me as a risk to public order, but what would I know. A very polite council officer approached me and informed me of my wrongdoing letting me off the $250 on-the-spot fine. I just wonder where all the people being lured into the city by the ever increasing numbers of highrise towers are supposed to walk dogs. The weird thing was other than the council inspector most people seemed more than happy to see Rumple in the city today. In fact as I sat outside an electronics store waiting not all that patiently for Drama Teen a woman came up and asked for a pat. Just a few moments of animal therapy and she could feel her stress levels melting, she said. Dogs do that, even the law breaking ones.
I was not the only one getting a move along today. A group of young lads using the steps of a building empty in a Sunday for a bit of bike and board practice were also given their marching orders. I know this because they came and told me when our paths crossed later in the day. They were upset because they weren't hurting anyone or anything and just wanted to practice a few skills. Like the dog, if not there then where?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 20. Day 263. Feeling slack

I could have been a champion - if only it was an Olympic sport. Doing nothing was a specialty subject, of which no-one equalled my prowess. But that was almost a lifetime ago. These days I can only dream of doing nothing. I think I'd like nothing better but if today is anything to go by you really should be careful of what you wish for.
Quite simply, I didn't have the energy. Eight weeks of bronchitis has taken its toll. Breathing, I have discovered, is rather good. Why it took me eight weeks to work that out and seek treatment is anyone's guess.
On top of that the antibiotics have me wondering if the treatment is worse than the disease. Short term pain, long time gain I guess, I hope.
But after lying around most of the day I was bored, bored, bored, chairman of the bored.
So the fur friend and I went for a walk to discover what being slack was all about.
I love the slackliners in Musgrave Park. Their Saturday afternoon antics on slack lines tied between the trees never cease to entertain and amuse.
And to think I considered it hard to find balance ...  

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 19. Day 262. Friday Festival Fun

F words.
Among my favourites are:
Fur friends
Festivals and
Put them together and what have you got?
Well this Friday afternoon it went like this.
The Fur Friend and I found ourselves at South Bank where the free Brisbane Festival fun was well underway at the River Quay Green.
Families had pulled up rugs and opened their picnic baskets to enjoy the Twilight Music Series which tonight featured my favourite -  musical theatre tunes being performed by one of Brisbane's finest cabaret artists Naomi Price. And it was all free.
How good is that? For me, about as good as it gets.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 18. Day 261. A bit green

Miss Cleo's friend Renee displaying the scones with jam and creams.
The mass choir sang "You Raise me Up". Best song ever. Always brings a tear and a lump to the throat
Cleo playing flute in the Intermediate band

 I'm a bit green at this, and frankly far too young. But if there's anywhere someone who is green is going to fit in it's at Somerville House which is greener than Kermit.
Today I got to play Grandma to my delightful niece Cleo at Grandparents and Godparents Day for the Somerville House Year 8 students. I am neither but Cleo doesn't have Godparents and Grandma is off spending the kids inheritance touring Alaska, as you do. So I was invited and delighted to agree although I think the past year has obviously aged me markedly. Less than 12 months ago I was "mum" to Cleo's big sister Scarlett at a Mother's and Daughter's night for the same school. It's been a big year, obviously. But as a member of the MOB (Mothers of Boys) it is always a welcome change to see how the other half lives. And not only that the young ladies had to wait on their guests. And there was scones with jam and cream. Win all round.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17. Day 260. Food for thought

I am constantly battling to find the answers of two of life's great questions.
1) What will I wear today?
2) What will I eat?
Naturally of those, the second I ponder more often than the first mainly because I eat a great deal more often than I get dressed. Also, I like food more than clothes and you'd only have to take a very brief passing look at me to work that out. On top of that I still feed my family but most of the time I let them get dressed all by themselves. ...occasionally I will send my husband back to rethink a colour combination or tie but if he thinks mismatched socks are a fashion statement that's his problem. But the business of food, that's a whole other category. Hours of every day are spent planning for, shopping for, preparing for and finally finally eating. Then you get to clean up afterwards and repeat. It really bugs me. But what's the alternative? Raw food? That's strictly for the birds

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16. Day 259. Riding high

I learned a lot about the ethics of skate parks today. My tutor was Dale, a nineteen-year-old I met practicing his tricks in Musgrave Park, a venue which is nowhere near a skate park. I'm not sure how the conversation went to bowls and ramps but Dale informed me that these venues were a great training ground for young riders BUT the little ones and their parents often needed a bit of education. A few simple lessons can make the bowls safer for everyone. When young ones arrive it's important the more experienced riders recognise they are there and give them space. At first parents sometimes resent the older kids taking charge, he said. Their attitude seems to be "who died and made you skate park boss?"  But by watching a bit, the parents realised an ordered use of the park was safer for everyone - especially young and less experienced riders who are less able to read the situation around them and act fast enough to prevent injury.
As Dale sees it, it's like surfing. You don't drop in on someone's wave. Learn that and the ride is safer and more fun for everyone

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15. Day 258. Like sands through the hour glass

In my kitchen there is a plaque that reads "Housework is like threading beads on a string with no knot on the end". It is a never ending battle. I should note that the friend who gave me the plague has four children and thus, in theory, her clean quest is four times as intense. But I argue in my defence that all children are not created equal and the cyclonic force of Drama Teen has destructive power beyond that of any passive breezy child. In any event, we know that there will be much effort involved and much of the time the results will be short lived and yet we do it (especially when visitors are due). It may be fleeting but at least you get to admire it when it's done. I can only presume this is the same attitude the sand sculptor working his art on South Bank beach in the fading light late this afternoon has to his craft. Because I had the fur friend with me and the South Bank Beach is a dog free zone I was unable to have a good chat to the master. But for a few brief moments he returned to his backpack at the edge of the beach to collect a new tool. He told me his creation - a whale - would be finished by about 8pm and would almost certainly be gone by the morning. He had been working his way around the country creating sand art as he went. And with that the sand sculptor was off, back to resume his masterpiece and I was forced to head off home for dinner full of admiration for a bloke with a swag having a whale of a time touring the country.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 14. Day 257. Flapping about

 Exam week. Senior school sucks, it really does. I was the type of senior student teachers loved. Dedicated, polite and hand working (no really). But what that hid was a huge level of ugly I put myself under. I lived in fear of failure. Good marks equalled everything. To fail a piece of assessment would have meant being a failure and it has taken me a very long time to realise they are not the same thing. No one mark defines you. No one aspect of your life defines you. A person is the ultimate package deal.
For this and so many other reasons I laugh out loud when Drama Teen says accusingly that I want him to be like me. Why in God's name would I want that? The teenage me was a stress ball of the type I wouldn't wish on anyone else.
But whether I want it or not there's a lot of stressing going on around our place as we move into exam week. The flapping about that is going on is quite extraordinary (and that's just by me). I guess that this is just a right of passage all students go though. Frankly the notion that school days are the best of your life is cruel. Sure there are not the same pressures to earn a crust or make adult decisions but the pressure to perform is immense.
So I try to ignore the flapping, support where possible and provide food and assistance where needed. And then I hide and try and keep out of the way. It's the best I can do.