Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31. Day 304. Spooky

It's spooky just how late Australia was to the Halloween Party. The word, according to the most reliable of all references (Wikipedia) dates back to 1745 and the tradition many centuries before that. But for a country that loves a party and an excuse to dress up we were very slow adopters on this one. I know this because exactly 11 years ago my sister decided, for no particular reason, to host a Halloween Party for her daughter and her friends. Sourcing spooky items was a project of marathon proportions. Now the supermarket aisles are bulging with those same scary bits of cheap plastic and synthetic fibre. Quite frankly I wouldn't have been surprised if when buying a Frozen Coke I'd been asked if I'd like some fake blood or vampire fangs with that. Anyway the party was such a success that my then five year old decided he would have a Halloween themed party for his next birthday. The fact that his birthday is in January was a subtly that was lost on him. So we re branded it a Spooky Six party, played games such as Pin the Wart on the Witch and no-one seemed to care about the unseasonal ghoulish
behaviour. Since then the whole Halloween thing has taken on a a life of its own (kind of ironic seeing it's a celebration of the dead or the undead). But I love it (and not just because I get to stock up the fridge with chocolate "just in case" and then eat it). So it was exiting to see the streets filled with happy little trick or treaters (especially since none came to my door and the chocolate is still intact) and the pop up Spooky Band performance that had the crowds at South Bank entertained. We've come a long way.

October 30. Day 303. Storm clouds

It could be the unseasonably disgusting weather. It may be sunny but being feeling hot and bothered and sticky, sweaty and stinky are quite frankly not at all conducive to a sunny disposition. I rather suspect the dark clouds gathering around my place, however, are far more to do with the calendar than the thermometer. The jacarandas are in full bloom and that means only one thing - it's final exam time. In a household where two of the three human occupants have lives ruled by the academic calendar that's never a good thing. It's not too good for the other human or canine either but they have learned to hide or keep their mouths shut. I just try to remember to try keep my cool, factor in time to walk the dog and be sure to never appear too busy to listen to Drama Teen (even if I am). Senior school sucks but it will pass and hot sunny days will feel far less of an imposition when we hit the beach in December

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 29. Day 302. It's the little things

Twenty years is a long time and as they say with good behaviour you'd spend less time in prison on a life sentence for murdering someone. Twenty years ago today Charles and I married. It bucketed down rain, the first rain we'd had in months. I've heard it said that rain on your wedding day is lucky. I think that's a crap saying invented to improve the mood of people whose dream of glorious outdoor wedding photos - or worse an outdoor wedding - has just been washed away in a torrential downpour. Still, it obviously worked for us. So as well as celebrating, I think a milestone such as this is worth reflecting on and as seems to be the thing on such occasions sharing the secrets.The baby moorhen at South Bank is today's model, reflecting my thoughts ...
So for what it's worth let me tell you that the standard wedding vows are way off the mark. That richer/poorer, sickness/health thing? Garbage. Those things you can't control and in my experience while stressful, people tend to pull together at times of external threat. No, the vows should include mention of kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. How someone eats, the stacking of the dishwasher, socks and jocks on the floor, drawers left open, the lid off the toothpaste, failure to hang up wet towels, and various personal habits - these little things, annoying little traits are what is likely to throw you over the edge. They drive you mad because two people no matter how compatible will have their differences. The trick is to fight to change the things that really, really matter to you and accept the rest. And in my case learn never, ever to ask for directions when driving. Of course, you don't divorce someone for being singularly crap and way too late at giving driving directions. Divorce no. Kill, possibly but that really will get you a life sentence.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28. Day 301. On the buses

There's this rule. If you want to know what's happening in a town you phone the publican or the post office. Every journalist knows it. It's the key to cutting through a lot of crap to get to a story and to filter out a lot of official interference. Well today I found another wealth of information - the bus driver. As a way of escaping the heat, I decided to walk down near the river to catch the afternoon breeze and found myself at the outdoor G20 art gallery know as The Pillars Street Art Gallery. On a couple of recent trips across the Go Between Bridge I'd seen the work underway in Merivale Street industrial site and decided to have a closer look. As I stood there, a bloke started talking to me. With the enthusiasm and knowledge of a talented tour guide, he told me about the project and each of the artists. He was particularly taken by Guido van Helten's work of the Indigenous child. He told me he's followed Guido's work since falling in love with it on a number of traffic signal boxes and added that the artist had recently returned from commissions in Iceland. But, he said, we in Brisbane were getting to see the work for nothing. He was frustrated at the lack of attention these remarkable art works were getting. Then after several minutes of non-stop talking be paused to take a breath and added "it's okay. I'm not a journalist or anything. I am just a bus driver." Now, that brought a smile to my face. Well Alan the bus driver you are not JUST anything. You are a man with a great appreciation of art and a knack of telling a story - even if you are not a journalist.

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27. Day 300. Hot in the city tonight

I hope there is a really tasteless shirt or stupid hat. The G20 circus is heading to town and signs of the circus tent being erected are everywhere in my neck of the woods which is scarily close to ground zero. The whole city has every sign of behaving like a woman preparing for a rare visit from her mother-in-law; scarily rabid preparations making sure everything looks "nice". And if "nice" is the aim then my report card would be A+ for exceeds expectations . After the extreme heat during the day, the new lights over the city were refreshingly gorgeous at 11pm. Now it's up to the members of the approaching roadshow to return the favour. The least they can do is dress in some bright garb that seems almost compulsory in such international gatherings. And please no polyester blends. If the unseasonal heat remains only natural fibres will do. We all need to present ourselves looking our best.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26. Day 299. Feeling blue

I've seen the future and I don't like the look of it.
Regardless of how my body feels on occasions, I'm just not ready to join the blue rinse set and now I know why. This afternoon I joined hundreds of others at the River Stage for Spring Flare. The festival is based on the Indian festival of The colour festival, which has come to be known as Holi which is celebrated as a way of overcoming barriers of separation as young and old, rich and poor, man and woman, friend and stranger, all take to the streets to throw colours in an act of unity. That's pretty much what the scene was in Brisbane today. With my camera on board I tried to document rather than participate in the event so when both my husband and son said I had blue in my hair I was thinking traces. Some hours later I looked in the mirror and we are talking something resembling Marge Simpson. Blue is clearly not my colour. Still it was totally worth it for the chance to be part of an outdoor event which clearly brings so much joy. Actually, I think it is an antidote to feeling blue.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 25. Day 298. Stage Fright

See those gloves?! I made those
Surprise! That's what you have to love about the theatre. There's always something new to delight, amaze and possibly shock and terrify. It's live.
Having been in the audience of many a Fame Theatre show (four a year for the past 12 years to be precise) there is a certain degree of understanding about what the night will bring. However the following I did not expect:
Those are the Kinky Boots that has turned my son off heels
1) The number of people who commented what an "excellent" drunk my son made. I was treated to a terrifying view to what might be happening at a Valley nightclub some time in the not too distant future. I'd like to think I'm wrong on that point. I'm probably not
2) Drama Teen has declared "I'm never going to wear heels again. They kill."  Yes, they do. Sixteen-year-old males don't normally understand that but a role in Kinky Boots has given him an unusual insight.
3) My name in a program as a special thanks for help with costuming. For those 12 years I have avoided any and all requests for costume help. I don't do sewing and in fact chose a performance company specifically because parents are not expected to sew anything. Occasionally there will be calls for volunteers. I have always developed selective deafness at these points. But this year I cracked and found myself with a spray can and hot glue gun making Rafiki gloves for the Lion King - and didn't they look awesome?! I managed a smirk when the theatre manager remarked "Now we know what you are capable of, you may be hearing more from us". I laughed and said "That's what I'm afraid of". But secretly I enjoyed the process a whole lot (despite repeated attempts to give myself third degree burns with a hot glue gun). The scars have healed and it was all right on the night. It always is.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24. Day 297. One giant step

I stood there, not sure if the fact I had to take off my glasses was a good or a bad thing. It was blurry but one thing was clear, it was a long, long way down. Repeat after me all you have to do is step and  gravity - and ideally the harnesses - will do the rest.
When I signed up for this some months ago a bridge swing seemed like a totally awesome idea. Standing on the edge of the Goodwill Bridge wearing a dragon onesie and the doubts weren't only creeping they were jumping into my throat. But then I was ready. On the count of three. One. Two. Three. Go.
And there it is. Freedom. I was flying like a bird (a great big green totally lacking grace bird floating under the bridge). Awesome. Too much fun and about $700 raised for Save the Children. I'd call that a win. Listen to the audio from ABC Radio Brisbane here

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October 23. Day 296. Living on the edge

Just after midnight it hit me. Jumping off a bridge even with a harness is intensely stupid. It is a bloody long way down. Some people, like the bloke water blasting the roof down the road this morning, have good reason to be perched at a great height with only a safety line for protection. My day job allows me to stay much closer to the ground. Heights are totally not an occupational hazard. Marking is my biggest occupational hazard thrill. But I volunteered for the Goodwill Bridge Swing and with hundreds of $$$$ in sponsorship for Save the Children I will have to just close my eyes and leap. In any event, falling is something I am quite accomplished at.
So as the clock ticks down to the big jump at 4pm tomorrow, the prize for the best comment goes to my neighbour Margaret who said she would come and watch but the jump clashes with The Bold and the Beautiful.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22. Day 295. Standing your ground

I admit I have to admire the dignified way little kookaburra stood his or her ground despite a long and sustained attack. Knowing you are right is not always enough. A pedestrian has right of way on a pedestrian crossing but that won't stop the truck from mowing you down. Everyone has a right to be heard at a staff meeting but shutting up can reduce the length of the agony. And poor little kookaburra was totally within her rights to sit on a hot tin roof. She wasn't bothering anyone, but try telling the crows that. Two of them launched a sustained attack. Rather than engage in a chick fight, kookaburra did her best to just turn the other cheek. And full points for that. Personally I'd have been taking flight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21. Day 294. Shining light

Today's shining light good neighbour award goes to, drum roll please, me.
Okay, I invented the awards and judged them and was the only entry (possibly because I didn't actually open up entries to anyone else) but it's a voting system that has worked in many a foreign land and in any case  I stand by the results. And as there is no prize involved chances of anyone actually fighting me for it are rather slim, Besides under the terms I just invented no correspondence will be entered into.
Anyway to the citation (which I wrote) Susan takes out the good neighbour award for taking her neighbour bra shopping. I know, right. Big gold star and elephant stamp right there. Bra shopping, the most humiliating experience known to man (not, I suspect, that many men do it but still). I don't think I have yet recovered from the experience of being taken into David Jones at that sensitive age and being "fitted" for my first bra by a very stern looking bra specialist. I thought my job today was to be companion and taxi driver and hand over the fitting room business to a lady much more experienced in the fitting of 87-year-old women than I. My plan was to loiter outside in the undies department in that bored time honoured way husbands do while clothes shopping. But Margaret thought my opinion on the Size 20 D bras was necessary so into the change room I ventured. Let's just leave it at that. But you must give Margaret points for being a good sport. When I jokingly suggested she might want one of the skimpy, frilly numbers she countered "well, at least I know I won't need any padding ...."

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20. Day 293. A birdy with a yellow bill

A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon the window sill 
Cocked his shining eye and said: 
“Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy-head!” ...
Actually that didn't happen and not just because the birdies around here aren't great conversationalists. It's more that if they are planning on making housecalls they bypass my abode and head next door. All the feathered friends around here know Margaret's place is where you go for mince. It's a bit like a McDrive through. They arrive at the window and she dispenses their orders. Rumple prefers to eat in rather than take away. He runs through the front door and jumps on Margaret's lap to get his meal. I'm pretty sure the people at Coles must think she has an unusual passion for spag bol or beef pies given the extraordinary amount of mince one octogenarian goes through in a week, every week. Still it's an arrangement that seems to suit all of them and given Margaret is normally up and at that window at 4am (or so she tells me. I am never in a position to independently verify that information) there's no chance the birdies with the yellow bills will have to chastise her for sleeping in.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19. Day 292. I'm on fire

I love a sunburnt country. A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!
 How often quoted. What a beautiful, romantic notion of the country. It's nice that Dorothea Mackellar included some of the less lovely aspects of Australia - such as the droughts and flooding rains. What a shame that isn't even the worst of it (and here I'm not even talking about the killer reptiles, aquatic creatures or arachnids)
It's the cyclones, thunder storms and bushfires that have the
potential to devastate, of which I speak (how I am not on the pay roll of the Australian Tourist Commission with such a glowing assessment of the country I will never know).
In any event, summer is party season in this part of the world but we can't let that be an excuse to let down our guard and not be ready for the other things that can strike at this time of year. This was the thought behind the Emergency Ready Community Event at South Bank today. It was a timely reminder to get the emergency kit, the non perishable foods, the batteries and the insurance ready and to have an evacuation plan sorted. You will
almost certainly never need it but it could be a lifesaver - literally - in a disaster. The day concentrated on advice and reminders but there were also information stalls, demonstrations (I was particularly taken by the bush fire simulation) and a live ABC Radio broadcast.
There was also a strong emphasis on fun children's entertainment because
1) It's important to remember who we are doing this for and
2) Generational change of attitudes comes from working with the kids
Also it made for a great family day out in the sun. Now where did I out those insurance documents, precious photos, batteries, candles ....?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18. Day 291. Neon lights

For a short while this afternoon I thought I was in the Underground Nightclub circa 1983. It is entirely possible my mind wouldo also have been transported back to a gymnasium in the Olivia Newton John Let's Get Physical period  but I never entered a gym in the days of leg warmers and flouro tights for safety reasons. But in any event I felt over-dressed or under dressed or like the only person who didn't see the fancy dress clause on the party invitation. It was a rare Saturday when I had to GO to work, as in go into the office. Many a Saturday and Sunday I am glued to a bundle of marking or a computer screen but normally I am doing so in the privacy of my own home in my PJs or sports gear. But today I was invited to be part of a panel discussion in front of a visiting Indian media delegation and while it was a relatively informal affair I rather suspected culturally and in every other way my PJs - even the good ones - might have been deemed inappropriate. So I did the whole work clothes, hair and make-up thing and went to work. The rest of the city looked far more laid back. The closer I walked to the Goodwill Bridge, the more it appeared like a giant box of highlighter pens had leaked over everyone and everything. In the end, I just had to ask. Turns out these were competitors turning up for the anti depression charity Beyond Blue fundraising twilight run. Because every charity event needs a theme, this one was the Neon Run and the participants were well and truly getting into the spirit of it. And good for them. Shining the light on depression - even if it looks like a bright disco light - has to be a good thing. For too much of the time it's an issue hidden in the shadows. I didn't stick around to see how all those colours looked with a big dose of sweat thrown in but even before the race was run I consider them all winners.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17. Day 290. Sun sets over another week

"Today I saw a red and yellow sunset and thought, how insignificant I am! Of course, I thought that yesterday too, and it rained."
I've said it before and I'll probably say it again. I love this Woody Allen quote. But some times you see a red and yellow sunset with a bit of purple and silver and grey thrown in and you can't help but be inspired. And that's what happened today and that's why today's image is a sunset. And if you believe that ... The truth is I was at one of those junctions. One of those places where you are forced to choose one of the forks in the road and your future destiny depends on it. Or not. I had two options to round off the week. A walk with the dog when the light was still perfect for photography or a nap and take what I could get when I awoke. Let's just say it had been a long, long exhausting week and there was plenty of paperwork to complete before actual bedtime. So I took option two and the sunset gods smiled on me. A most satisfying rest and perfectly acceptable images. Score