Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31. Day 151. Singin' and dancin' in the rain

Jumping for joy (from left) Xanthi, 6, Skye, 8, Brianna, 7, Eloise, 8 and Madeleine, 8

And little Summer clearly can't wait to join the bigger girls on stage
Beautifully styled hair and perfect make-up has no greater enemy than rain - but try telling that to the young ladies of Jam Performing Arts. They were poised, talented and beautiful but they'd been up since 5am, their eisteddfod performance was over and it was mid afternoon and raining. So what are young girls to do but to take their moves outside on to the soggy school oval? Yep, you can't take the dance moves out of the child any more than you can take the child out of the dancer. And let's face it, who would want to? As the mum of Drama Teen, I know there's a huge difference between a stage mum and the mother of a child on stage. I also know it's the same with dancers but TV shows such as Dance Mums do nothing for the image of the average parent of a child who just loves to perform. Sure you have to drive Mum's taxi and open and wallet (often) but the passion and drive comes from within not from tiger parenting. I didn't see them on stage but given they have an average age of just 7 and were dancing in an Under 12 competition it's clear they have professionalism and talent to burn. Talking to them it was also clear that they had a dance vocabulary way beyond my own but in the end these girls just want to have fun and that's how it should be.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30. Day 150. Taking flight

Humans consider themselves so smart yet it is other species - such as birds, whales and wealthy Victorians - that migrate for the winter. With only two days left of autumn I again need to consider how I plan to survive winter. Hibernation, on the surface seems attractive, but it apparently involves not eating. That will never work. The model I want is more like taking to bed for several months with one's head under the doona. I'm told that's defined as laziness not hibernation. So I'm back to migrating, a concept which even I admit seems somewhat ridiculous given the weather of late. Certainly this kookaburra was laughing at something and I'm pretty sure it was me. Ok, I admit today's maximum of 25 is not "exactly" freezing but yesterday was 28 degrees do you can see where this is heading - south. This is pretty much exactly the opposite direction from where I'd like to be heading right now. Frankly I have more than I care to admit in common with the whales and they have all started their journey north. So laugh, kookaburra laugh, but warm my life must be.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29. Day 149. Book smart

What's the difference between Susan and a book? A book has a spine.
What's the similarity between Susan and a book? They are both filled with dated facts and don't get taken out much any more.
I know. I know. I shouldn't give up my day job (at least not until I'm 70 under current government reforms). Anyway I got all old school today and went to not one but two libraries and borrowed books, lots of them. Australian drama, French history, The jury system - in an effort to show drama teen that not every resource ever written is on the world wide web, I repeated the exercise I undertake about once a year and collected a great big pile of non web-based resources.
But here's the thing. While I detest the experience of reading fiction for pleasure on a device, the fact is if you want easily accessible and up to date information the online library resource is not only as good but far superior than the collection housed in the building. Well derr. You don't need to be a genius to work that out. Which leads to the next point. New definitions are needed. I'm not sure book smart (as opposed to street smart) can be a thing any more. One can be well educated, well read and well considered without going anywhere near a  book. Which is probably why all these old books at the QUT library are now a rather fetching piece of art hanging from the roof. And how (book) smart does that look?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28. Day 148. Marooned

Everywhere I went today there was a sea of maroon. It's a colour I have hated since the early years of primary school when it was the colour of a singularly unfashionable and uncomfortable school uniform. But for so many in Queensland today there was an obsessive need to wear the (ugly) state colour because of THAT football match. In schools, government offices, and supermarkets people were decked out showing their true colours. Even the bees at South Bank this morning were showing a preference for the blooms somewhere on the maroon end of the spectrum.
There are many who assume that I hate State of Origin, a misguided perception which almost certainly came from words from my own mouth. I think I misquoted myself. I don't hate State of Origin. That would require so much more energy and passion than I have for the subject. Frankly I just don't care. I was born in the Sunshine State and have never lived south of Coolangatta so I am a QUEENSLANDER through and through. It's a great state, a top state. Our footballers are, arguably, quite good too but my care factor about that is zero. I know I sound like I have a bee in my bonnet over this one. Perhaps I do but really when only two States on earth really see this game as the sport of choice and one happens to be better than the other right now it's hardly a matter of life and death. But Origin Indifference is not a popular sport at this time of year. In fact it's so lonely I might as well be on a desert island, marooned as it were.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27. Day 147. Who's a pretty boy then?

This modern obsession with physical beauty is a curse. Way too much attention is paid to external appearance as though inner beauty counts for nothing. Surely a kind heart, an intelligent brain, loyalty and devotion are far more important attributes.
Well yes that's true but let's be honest being too cute for words and flirting relentlessly will get you a long way in life, a very long way. It's not just what you have but how you use it that are the tickets to success in this shallow world. And there is none more masterful at the art of working a room than my fur friend Rumple. Today was haircut day and when I went to collect his majesty from his stylist she commented "you know he sat up on the table while I was grooming him and gave me a High 10". Yep, he would do that. He was still at it when I brought him home and he rushed next door to show off his new do to our neighbour Margaret. Naturally he was rewarded for his efforts. He'll go a long way that young man. Now, how do I go about getting him an agent so he can pay back his dear, kind, intelligent and generous to a fault owner?

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26. Day 146. Drinking problem

It's enough to drive a person to drink. Seriously, I'm not cut out for this.
The thing is it should be easier the second time around. I should know what to expect. I should be more resilient and more able to roll with the punches. But I'm not. I'm older and tireder and in fact totally over it. Year 11 may just be the death of me. The thing is, this new Year 11 is infinitely more interesting than the one I remember from 1981. I might be studying it only vicariously but I rather think a feature story pitched at a magazine's Arts section, a performance of the opening scene from the Australian play Kelly, an examination of French laws about wearing religious symbols and an argument about the pros and cons of Australia's jury system makes everything I studied seem very old school indeed. But high school in 1981 seemed to be about regurgitation while the 2014 seems very much about higher order thinking. Which is why I think I need a drink. It is also why I managed to miss the fact that the fur friend ran off with a (thankfully empty) juice container and started trying to have a swig. Exam time stress has a flow on effect to all family members. Now, what are the dramatic themes in that play again? Perhaps it's written on the back of this wine bottle.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25. Day 145. Try, try again

Today was Kids Tryathlon day at South Bank which only served to remind me of  this conversation that happens rather a lot in my house.
Son: "But I am trying mum".
Me "Yes, I know you are trying, very trying".
It is easy to say "if at first you don't succeed try, ty again" but always losing is a sure-fire recipe for giving up entirely. This is why today's schools are very likely to reward participation rather than just achievement - particularly in the younger grades.
Indeed so much has been said about the "every player wins a prize"  philosophy that it barely seems worth mentioning again. Of course, the fact that everyone else has already weighed in has never stopped me in the past so I see no reason to let it get in my way right now.
The two sides go like this. Side A says it doesn't matter whether you win or lose it's how you play the game that counts. This camp believes that too much of a focus on winning puts the children who are never going to cross the line first off even giving it a go. Why set kids up to feel like losers? If we want kids to engage, if we want them to exercise, if we want them to just have fun then the emphasis should be getting involved not taking the prize. Side B, however, says that telling kids it's okay to finish behind the pack gives no-one any incentive to push themselves. At some point we will realise that it's a competitive world out there. Where you work, what you earn and what prizes you pick up along the way are actually determined by where you finish in the race. Winners are grinners and you won't win unless you are prepared to put in the effort. Life doesn't hand out too many prizes for having a go.
In actual fact both are true. There is nothing wrong with getting in, having fun and giving it a go. Those who believe that winning isn't everything it's the only thing really miss the point about the joy of taking part. But it is also true that rewarding mediocrity gives little incentive for excellence.
So .... well let's face it how are you ever going to know what you are good at, what you enjoy and how much fun just having a go can be if winning is all that ever counts? It is this sort of attitude that has put many a kid off exercise all together - and yes I am talking about one of the things school sports taught me. It was only much later in life that I learned that just having a go at your own pace can be its own reward. And this is why I love the Tryathlon. In all 1700 kids took part and yes there were swimming, running and bike legs. But the emphasis was not on tri but on the Try - the give it a go. There weren't any winners or losers and there was a medal for every competitor.
And you know what? Every one of those 1700 kids gave it their best shot even without there being a winner. No-one cared if you had a racing bike or training wheels just as long as you got in and gave it a go. Try that on for size.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

May 24. Day 144. Turning things on their head

You can't miss. Every year the Greek Paniyiri Festival is a huge hit with about 50,000 people flocking to Musgrave Park for a massive two day celebration. It's plate smashing, zorba dancing, honey puff eating family extravaganza and given I live in walking distance I'm always there with the family camera ready for cute kids, crazy street performers, exotic costumes and plates piled high with food. This year was no exception except I decided the Susan Snaps collection - like my stomach - had overdone the traditional Greek fare. So as the sun set on Day One of the festival you got this. No plates, but smashing just the same if you ask me. It was the second time today I decided to chance my hand and break my own rules. Earlier this week I wrote about a sweet old dear I'd met while at a rehabilitation centre. She was having a seriously bad day. With my neighbour now happily back home I had no reason - indeed no business - at the centre. But if life has taught me anything it's that people rarely stop you if you dress appropriately and look like you know what you are doing. And if it all goes pear shaped it can be better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. So I simply arrived at the centre, walked by the desk and straight up to my new buddy's room. She was so delighted to see me my doubts about whether this was a good idea washed away. I learned that in her early years she'd sung hymns in the same church she could see out of her window now and to prove it she sang a few bars. I learned about her machine work in the war years, her late husband in Milne Bay, her kids, her five siblings, the tough times and the good. She talked about everything from Paw Paw ointment to hair dye to how kind her son was to his dear old Mum. I got a hug and a kiss and I promised I would drop by again. And I left and no-one gave me a second glance. I'm sure there really were 50,000 rules broken in that encounter but seriously is there anything so wrong with turning things on their head occasionally. From the reception I received I would say unequivocally not.

Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23. Day 143. Be nice!

Nice always seemed like such a lame concept.
"Be nice to your siblings"
"That's very nice of you" (a phrase that almost always has a but attached) ...
:It's such nice weather at the moment". "Nice girls don't" and so on and so on. It's all just so, well, nice.
I remember as a teen there was nothing worse than being described as nice. If someone said of a member of the opposite sex "You really should meet XYZ, he's so nice" you just knew that was code for ugly. In a world where physical appearance counts for everything, character in a character reference didn't just imply lacking in physical charm it screamed it.
But I've aged and matured and now come to understand that niceness is a very undervalued virtue. Indeed, wouldn't the world be a much nicer place if we could all be just a bit nicer to each other?
Having said that, a person can be too nice. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind - set boundaries, define expectations, dish out a bit of tough love on occasions. Fail to do these things, continue to ignore bad behaviour because you are too nice and you might just find yourself the victim of repeated crimes of, for instance, toilet paper theft. And trust me, finding yourself in the smallest room of the house without the loo roll, that's just not nice.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22. Day 142. There's no place like home

If you've seen 101 Dalmatians (and if you haven't you should) you will be familiar with the Twilight Bark. It's the bit where the canine version of Chinese whispers springs into action to spread the word about the missing puppies. I swear a similar animal communication chain was in operation around my place today. After almost three weeks in hospital and rehabilitation following a fall, my neighbour Margaret arrived home by ambulance this morning at 9am. By 9.01am the word was out that Margaret's Mince kitchen would again be open for business. First in line was my fur friend Rumple who charged through the door and on to her knee. The joy on both their faces was obvious. Margaret declared that there was no place like home remarking how much she missed the little things like being able to feed the birds (and her neighbour's dog). She told Rumple how she had a photo of him by her bedside in hospital and showed it to all the nurses but it was great to see him in person (well dog). By that time avian army had arrived and first the kookaburra, then the magpies and the butcher birds and the miners were at the window waiting for their share of the mince. I admit it hasn't been the same without Margaret sitting at her window watching the world but I reckon the plans now put in place for her well being will be worth the pain in the long run. Eventually all creatures great and small will come to understand that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21. Day 141. Having a spray

Forgive me. I'm going to have a spray; at the whole world and everyone and everything in it.
I did consult with a medical professional today but this is a self diagnosis. There was an infectious period during which some evil virus decided to come into body and invite all its friends around to trash the joint. This has now departed but I have been left with what I call Couldn'tGiveaTossItis. Detailed laboratory blood analysis may well also find lingering Exhaustipation. Frankly I am too tired to give a shit about anyone or anything. Such behaviour is uncharacteristic. The parenting rule book page 87 clearly states that mothers don't get sick. Ever. If they do get sick they must, in the interests of being a modern day martyr, brush it off and refer to page 87. Well I'm sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and thus I ripped out page 87. In its place I put a sticky note over from a staff meeting or something. It said: "Susan is napping so bugger off and tell someone who cares". OK, that never happened but it would have if I could have been bothered. Instead I ate chicken soup which as everyone knows is a cure for everything. That page remain in the book. So there. Good night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20. Day 140. Stop and smell the flowers

On the surface it was about the pyjama pants. They were pretty light cotton PJs in purple and pink with a satin purple ribbon at the waist. The lady, aged 88, clutched them and sobbed. I was killing time waiting to visit someone else in the rehabilitation centre but she was alone and sad so I figured I should hold out a hand of friendship.
"Are you ok?" I ventured.
The words came tumbling out. She was sad that the PJs had been (in her words) tossed on the bed without thought. So I picked them up and folded them for her and she told me she really liked those jarmies but she couldn't wear them right now because of the medical equipment she was hooked up to. She had to wear tracksuit pants that were thick and hot and uncomfortable. She had also been seated so she couldn't reach the phone, or her tissues or the vomit bag. She was fed up, she hated what she had become and she prayed every night that God would take her to heaven.
But, she said, I was a lovely person, she had a son she adored and at home - if only she was allowed home - people were nice.
What people don't understand, she said, was that she was old and tired and she hated all the rushing. Dye your hair so you look like you are in your 50s and everyone forgets to treat you like you are nearly 90, People were running around like blue arsed flies (her words) and it was all too fast. She hated the pace of modern life, she hated the way people treated her and she wanted out.
So we just sat for a bit. It may have helped. It is well possible that it didn't but all she wanted right then was time (and the objects on the table I was able to move so she could reach them again).
Then I had to go. "Thank-you dear", she said. "Take time to stop and smell the flowers because one day you will be old like me." And so today I did, just for her.

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19. Day 139. Bark worse than my bite

It is just as well my bark is worse than my bite because, frankly, the bark is pretty savage. Although it has long, long periods of being dormant I have had essentially the same rasping cough at somewhat regular intervals since I was a child. Generally it will start with a cold and progress to the point that someone (usually me) threatens to call an undertaker. Every time it comes back, the same conversation with my mother results. It always involves a suggestion of wearing socks and the use salt water - to this day I am unsure what I am supposed to do with the saline solution. Do I gargle it, bath in it, drink it or squirt it up my nose or a combination? In the end I do none of these things mostly because I feel quite bad enough already, thank you very much. Still the salt water solution does always remind me of my Grandfather, her dad. Pa lived to the highly respectable age of 87. Salt water was his remedy for just about everything. If salt water didn't cure it then some rancid potion called Blackjack would. My guess is that Blackjack has probably been either banned or renamed for reasons of political correctness but I've not seen or heard of it in decades. Might be just as well. Like I said, I feel bad enough already.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18. Day 138. Miracle worker

Good taste and defamation laws seriously restrain what I can say about today but I will go on record as saying I have felt better. In nursing homes, I'm told it is not uncommon for resident pets to sleep on the bed of a patient who is about to die. Somehow animals just know. I can only assume this is why my faithful fur friend Rumple slept by me on my pillow for most of the past 24 hours. This is just one reason I love him so much. But as I am not a ghost writer I clearly recovered just enough to eat plain toast and receive the wonderful news that an old fashioned pair of handcuffs would be required for a school drama performance tomorrow. Awesome. Nobody actually believed this was possible but perhaps it was the delirium that motivated me to give it a go. So I walked to West End and found myself in a shop that sold all sorts of odd stuff (in the way that only West End still would). They actually had authentic period handcuffs on sale for about $300. I may have been ill but not that ill. Still, said Brent the bloke behind the counter, he had a pair at home in his private collection he would lend me. Of course he did. Turns out I'd just found Wulfe possibly the only person in the whole city capable of delivering what I needed. And he did proving once again that you never know if you don't ask. Now where did I put the key again?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17. Day 137. All the fun of the fair

 Some people never grow up (by some people I may or may not be referring to me). In any event "those" childish types grin at the prospect of a school carnival. Oh come on. Surely you are never too old for the jumping castle, climbing wall, photo booth, giant board games and those magic clowns. Watch out small people, Mother with big attitude (and even bigger butt) coming through. Throw in a giant dancing lion, food, music, balloons and a perfect May evening and no one can whinge about going through the school gates on a weekend (not even those slightly too old for a school uniform).

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16. Day 136. Fairy tales

If  I said today was like a fairy tale, I'm pretty sure the assumption would be that was a good thing. Fairy tale ending, fairy tale wedding - for some reason we associate the fairies with the Disney universe rather than something more Grimm. But today was all Sleeping Beauty and not in a good way. Anyone who knows me knows I love the nap but this was ridiculous. A brisk walk at South Bank this morning where I took this photo and then back to bed. I swear a wicked witch put me under a sleeping curse. I was in a coma and thick thorny vines were creeping up over my abode or something. Actually it was more likely the combination of a virus and industrial strength drugs that had me floating in a parallel universe but in any event I was off with the fairies. Still there was a happy ending of sorts. Hours of sleep later, my faithful fur friend licked me and I woke up. It's not quite love's first kiss from a handsome prince but it will do. You can't lie in a bed of roses without encountering quite a few pricks.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15. Day 135. I've still got it

They say children are a most unforgiving audience. This is true. As any performer will tell you, young people will not clap politely nor pat you on the back if they think you are crap. They will just start doing something more interesting like picking at a scab or searching someone's head for lice. They have the attention span of a flea and if you don't grasp it they fidget and head to the loo. But having said all that, in the ultimate contradiction, they are also the most forgiving of audiences. You want proof? Today I pacified this young man by singing to him. That's right. He cried. I sang. In any other circumstance it happens the other way around. And then he went to sleep. Yep, I've still got it.

May 14. Day 134. Drowning

Generally when I say I am drowning I am talking in a metaphoric sense. I point to a great flood of marking and gurgle about how I risk going under with the level now somewhere between my mouth and nose. There's enough air - but only just. But today, not so much. Today the sinking feeling is being brought about by the results of a pesky virus or more particular a post viral cough. This photo is actually a water feature at South Bank but it could easily be what's going on it my airways. I find moist to be a most unpleasant word whether it prefixes armpits or cough. I've heard it said that when it comes to death, drowning is far from the least pleasant way to go. Right now, I rather hope this is the case ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13. Day 133. Cry baby

Babies. Even in full meltdown they are so pink and perfect. Their little gummy mouths, that screwed up face, the creases, everything perfect - to a casual observer that is. To the child's parents that same cry tugs at your heartstrings and your self doubt. Tired, hungry, dirty, sick; whatever it is you and only you are responsible for fixing it. The physical demands of 24 hour on call are exhausting. Still, for the most part the problems are relatively uncomplicated and as I got to hold my friend's little man today I looked back on the days as a mum to a new born with great fondness. Time and hormones may have a lot to do with this. I'm pretty sure she isn't looking forward to the teenage years with quite the same degree of fondness (despite my obvious efforts to paint a rosy picture - ok not so much) They need to invent the equivalent of a baby brain to dull the equivalent anguish of parenting a teen. Articulate, opinionated, idealistic they may be but pink and perfect they are not. On the other hand you don't have to deal with their body fluids and they can put themselves to bed. There are some advantages if only that I will never be left in any doubt about what's wrong ...

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12. Day 132. Double trouble

Look at them. Sweet as pie. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.
These fur friends are experts at hiding their evil intentions.
But I know better. Alone each is well capable of mischief but together we are dealing with double trouble.
It's impossible to tell whether it's the older, wiser and faster Rumple who is the ring leader or the bigger, stronger and more dominant Beagle Fed who has the real nose for trouble but they egg each other on.
So it was today. A courier rings the door bell and before I can say "don't forget to shut the gate" it's a clear case of dog(s) gone. Escaped, as fast as their little legs can carry them (which I have to tell you is pretty bloody fast). Then to add insult to injury as I move to attempt to mount a search party the front door slams shut and locks me out.
Excellent. Realising that a) this is hilariously funny and b) there's no place like home, the dogs return and dart back in through the dog door leaving only the person who pays the mortgage and buys the dog food standing on the footpath. Sweet little darlings. Lucky they are cute and also have the sense to be back in bed asleep by the time I get back in. I mean a smart girl knows that it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11. Day 131. Sisterly love

There are plenty of times my son bemoans the fact that he is an only child. He talks about what he has missed out on because he doesn't have siblings. Of course he is right.  I mean if you don't have siblings who is going to tell you how annoying you are, how big your pimple is, how fat you are, how stupid your smile is, how lame you are at climbing a tree and so on and so on. So it was over Mother's Day lunch at my sister Marie's where my delightful nieces Scarlett and Cleo gave each other full and frank character assessments and discussed just how good the next three days would be because Cleo's school camp meant they wouldn't have to put up with each other. Yeah, I'm sure the three days will be heaven (especially for their parents who will have a temporary reprieve from the squabbling). But as one of four I know it's not going too far out on a limb to say that after a bit the silence will be deafening. I mean, what good is three days peace and quiet if you haven't got anyone to give stick to about just how golden the silence was. And anyway, if I didn't have a big sister I would have been in charge of Mother's Day catering instead of being able to sit back and enjoy the lunch. While she and Peter cooked I got to hang around the back yard with the girls. And by the way Marie you have a stupid smile ... (and beautiful and talented daughters - they take after their aunt)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10. Day 130. High flyer

It's the camera.
Mostly I forget the Canon DSLR around my neck because it's always there and after a while you don't even notice its weight (I could say the same thing about the layer of flab - but not without lying).
But other people notice the camera more than I do and they make assumptions. I'm forever being asked where I'm from. So it was as I strolled around the markets at South Bank. I got odd looks when I said I was local. It was as if I hadn't understood the question. "Just up the hill" was surely where I was staying not where I was "from" because locals don't carry cameras. It's a rule somehow. Taking selfies on the phone you can do anywhere but proper photos with a proper camera is reserved for the holiday album apparently. Well phooey to that rule. I like the camera because it actually makes me focus. So the markets became not just a mission to find a Mother's Day present but to find an angle I was happy with. And there it was. The man on the unicycle. It's not as if he hasn't been photographed before. That bloke and the Wheel would be South Bank's most photographed by everyone including me. But the more things stay the same, the more they change. He doesn't move but the sky above is a palette of constant variety and it was pretty as a picture as the sun went down. So like a snap happy tourist, there's another one for the album. Yep, I may not have just dropped in on some Boeing but that doesn't mean my head isn't in the clouds. The important thing is to stay focused.

Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9. Day 129. All creatures great and small

I wasn't there but my mother swears it to be true and give her a couple of glasses of wine, and I'm sure she'll tell you. Actually, you probably won't even need the wine to get this little family secret out of her. It goes like this. My mother goes into a gardening shop and asks the sales assistant for a plant that thrives on neglect. He directs her to one which he says you couldn't kill if you tried. She should have got that in writing because I now have a brown stump in a pot on my back deck. The death-proof plant is now compost. I can't help it. I love animals. I love living surrounded by bush but actual gardening? Nope. That gene wasn't in the pool that fertilised me. This may explain why I love grasshoppers. I find them infinitely fascinating in a way no-one who likes gardening could. See one and I become the child with the Bug Catcher crawling around the yard trying to sneak up on one of the critters. My infinitely more girlie sisters would run a mile if I managed to actually catch one. Of course, I'm much too mature for a Bug Catcher now. I was sneaking around with a zoom lens instead while my infinitely more grasshopper phobic friend Alison threatened to run a mile. The years have done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm and, in fact, I reckon my ability to secure my prey has improved with time. If nothing else age has taught me one thing - patience grasshopper.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8. Day 128. Who am I?

As you go through life you find yourself defined by many different things. I have been described as Margaret and Barry's daughter, Marie, Lisa or Michael's sister. Charles' wife or Oliver's mum. I've been an All Hallows' girl and an employee of Queensland University of Technology. You get used to being described as "my lecturer", "my work colleague" or "my friend". Doubtless I have been called many, many other things only some of which can be repeated in a family friendly blog. But today I was described in terms that I admit made me smile. I'd spent the day running errands for my neighbour Margaret. Aged 86, Margaret had a fall earlier in the week and has been in hospital. Today she was transferred to a rehabilitation unit and needed a few things. So I arrived at the rehabilitation unit with the requested repaired hearing aid, incontinence pads and clean undies. A nurse was attending to Margaret when I arrived. She smiled and introduced me. "This is Susan Hetherington. She's a good neighbour. She's a journalist. She has a dog." I'm thinking of putting that on my business card. Yep, there are worst things you can be remembered for.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 7. Day 127. Pouring cold water on it

Heading out the school gate with homework is pretty much par for the course - but not so much for parents. But at a Surviving Senior School information session tonight parents were set an assignment:  "Go home and Google 'Cold Water Extraction'." Oh great. All you need is YouTube, water and over the counter medication and you can manufacture a pretty powerful drug concoction. Just another thing for parents of teens to keep in mind. Parenting in the modern era is scary stuff. It is, however, refreshing, to have a school community so open and honest in its communication with parents. This was a full and frank discussion that put it all on the table - porn, parties, drinking, drugs, depression - it was all there. Most of it I knew about. The cold water extraction thing was new to me. But in these things ignorance is not bliss. With any luck I'll never need to know but forewarned is forearmed or something. I may never took at cold water the same way again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6. Day 126. These are a few of my favourite things

My mother is a bag lady. Seriously she can't go past a bag retailer without being magnetically drawn to its wares. With my older sister, it's make-up. She likes the good stuff and is prepared to pay for it. The shoe gene - which is supposed to be a girl thing - went to my brother. If an international sports shoe famine ever occurs he will be able to supply the market from his personal supplies for years (provided everyone wants the same size shoe and is content with the label with the Swoosh). None of those things particularly tickles my fancy. My weakness is cheap jewellery. In many things I prefer quality over quantity but not when it comes to necklaces. I can't help it. I am attracted to things that shine and sparkle - bright colourful beads that would be considered a statement piece if I didn't own so many of them. I guess when it comes to statements, I'm just a girl with rather a lot to say. Sure diamonds are a girl's best friend but is there anything wrong with sharing the love? Not in my book.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5. Day 125.Hot dog

If the hot air generated by whinging was enough to bring about climate change, Brisbane wouldn't be experiencing the current cold snap. The whole city seems to be discussing the unseasonal cold complaining that brisk westerly winds and single figure temps are not part of the deal we signed up to when deciding to live in Brisbane in May. Winter woolens and warm doonas are being pulled from the recesses of wardrobes across the city. While I admit to searching for warmer clothes, there has been no need to for extra bedding for two reasons. The first is that a thick doona is like a security blanket for me. I need it all year around. But in any event I didn't need to collect the extra layer because the extra layer came to me (here I am not talking about the large number of kilos that seem to have gravitated my way in the past year). The fur friend who normally starts the night at the foot of the bed and then sneaks up in pillow direction has decided that rather than sleep near me he should sleep on me and share warmth. All I can say is I am glad my dog of choice is not a great dame. Eight kilos of puppy fur is enough for anyone's head. But it's impossible to be angry with my little hot dog - he's far too cute and very warm too.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4. Day 124. When I grow up ...

 Since changes to the retirement age announced this week mean I will have to work until I am 70, I figure there is still plenty of time to work out what I want to do when I grow up. It is actually something worth considering because for the large part career moves to date have been decided by accident or circumstance but with precious little planning or forethought. My present job - a university lecturer - started as a way of earning extra pocket money while on maternity leave. My "baby" is now 16. Somewhere along the line I completed a Masters degree and forgot to leave. The thing is that there are doubtless an infinite number of career options I have never even considered. For example - not once have I tried to see if I could squeeze my body through a tennis racquet while balancing on a beam see-sawing on a pipe. I know. How small minded of me. Who knows, that might be something I could be good at (well I know that unless they start making really, really big tennis racquets, I can pretty much rule that one out). Adam, the circus acrobat come street performer, made it look easy at South Bank this afternoon but my guess it will be considerably less so when he reaches 70. And that's the thing. Not all jobs are created equal. Some jobs you could doubtless carry on working in well into your 7th decade. Others not so much. But perhaps I shouldn't be worried. My father, three of my four grandparents, an aunt and a cousin were all dead well before the age of 70. I should be concentrating more on reaching the magic three score years and 10 rather than considering who will be paying the cheque. Besides I still have plenty of time to work out what I'm going to do when I grow up. Hopefully. Now where's a tennis racquet ...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3. Day 123. Surprise!

It's so great when you are looking forward to something and it lives up to all expectations. It's even better when you have no expectations at all and end up being very pleasantly surprised. I've been to the annual Buddha Birthday Festival at South Bank and knew it would be a bright, colourful family festival - and it didn't disappoint. But what I didn't expect was that we would be entertained on the walk down the hill. And there was Leon riding up the street on a unicycle juggling a hoop above his head and waving a pom pom like it was the most natural thing in the world. "It's just something I like to do," Leon told me. His next aim is to learn to ride a bigger unicycle. And as if that wasn't enough of a surprise for one day. Tonight Drama Teen and I went to a one man show at Brisbane Arts Theatre knowing only that the performer Michael Webber would use no words. We figured that even if it was woeful the fact that it was called Alone on Stage for 60 Minutes meant we'd only have to endure an hour of it. How easy it would have been to back out at the last minute. And what a great performance we would have missed. Never before have I seen stand up comedy without words. Webber is a seriously silly, seriously entertaining performer who can work a room without uttering a word (a pleasant change from a lot of recent comedy which seems to rely on dropping one word starting with F with monotonous regularity). Yep, there's nothing worse than really looking forward to something and leaving feeling short changed but how good is it when the reverse happens? Who doesn't love being pleasantly surprised?

Friday, May 2, 2014

May 2. Day 122. Do you see what I see?

Some times you can't see what is right before your eyes.
For almost my whole life, a giant Bird of Paradise was the central feature of my parents' front garden. I believed it to be the ugliest plant ever to grow out of the soil. The blooms were spiky and sort of threatening with absolutely no resemblance to either a bird or paradise, at least in my mind's eye. It is a bit like the rabbit/duck illusion.
Some people will see the rabbit (that was me) others the duck (the Drama Teen) depending on how your brain works. But then when someone points out the "other" way of looking at it it's hard to believe you missed something so obvious which was right before your eyes.
So it was this afternoon when I was walking the Fur Friend and found myself staring at a Bird of Paradise bloom. And there it was - the bird. I saw its eye, its beak and its beautiful plumage. How could it possibly have taken me that long? My guess is my dislike for the plant probably blinded me and prevented me from really ever looking at it properly or something Freudian like that. And if Mr Freud was to have an interpretation of my floral blindness he would have had a field day with Drama Teen's vision. When I was telling him how I finally found the bird he looked at the image and remarked "that's funny. I see a penis." Oh great. And I just got to the point where I could look at the plant with some fondness ...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1. Day 121. Cut from a different cloth

Families. What weird beasts they are.
That, as much as anything, is what 4000 Miles a totally compelling play I saw at La Boite Theatre tonight was about and the image is from a prop in the foyer. The 4000 miles could have represented the distance 21-year-old Leo has cycled to land on his grandmother's doorstep or the generation gap between them. While "Grandma" is not biologically related to Leo (she married Grandpa when Leo's Mum was two) they find they have a great deal in common much of which they hadn't discovered over the years. Clearly that's a tick in the nurture side of the nature/nurture debate box. Which is where the weird beast thing really comes in. A late cancellation meant I was searching for someone to take to the theatre tonight rather than go Freddy Friendless. My niece suggested her mother - my sister Marie - would like to come. We both knew this to be a huge joke because my passion for theatre is matched only by Marie's hate for the art form. Yet we come from the same gene pool and she is just 14 months older than I am. So how can the nature/nurture influences explain away that one? Clearly the only explanation can be that she was adopted (not me. Mum chose to accompany me and thoroughly enjoyed it so sorry Marie the theatre love gene is proven right there). Okay, I joke but not on the point of families being weird. They just are. My siblings and I may look alike and sound alike but we are very different beasts in ways that are not easy to explain. Which is probably just as well because if we were all really alike it might be harder for Mum to love me the most!!!!