Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31. Day 152. In a flap

 If a walk on the beach with dog equals Susan's calm place, what exactly would be the fast lane to the agitated space?
Any of the following might do the trick:
  •  Marking. Enough said.
  • A visit to a Medicare office. There's nothing like a queue and government form filling to raise the stress levels. The "gap" between what the doctor's charge and what the refund is sends the stress levels into stratosphere territory
  • Paying a bill at council business centre. Winkle is now an official member of our household. The procedure was far more painful than it needed to be
  • A specialist's waiting room, clearly called that because you wait, and wait and wait. Leaving with a colonoscopy prep kit and a booking for the world's least attractive screening procedure is just awesome for the soul. Not.
  • Dealing with tragically poor customer service. Nasty letter written, the results of which will determine how much of that complaint finds its way into the public domain. Watch this space.
Any one of those things might undo the calm of the Coast. Today I had each and every one on the agenda. Stressy Susan. In a desperate need to feel sand between my toes I went to Southbank Beach. The seagulls flapping about described my mood perfectly. Lots of action, getting nowhere. Yep, that's today for you.
Total steps in this madness: 18, 118

Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30. Day 151. Energised

Duracell or Energizer?
So asked one man on the beach when Rumple and Winkle arrived at sunrise this morning.
The lead came off and Rumple charged up the sand and Winkle leaped and leaped and leaped.
She might have been auditioning for a replacement for that Energizer bunny.
For all of us, the beach recharges the batteries.
We dragged ourselves from bed in the dark and were there as the first rays were appearing on the horizon.
Of course, some show offs were already leaving having completed their morning routine.
Others were out in the surf ocean swimming.
Big gold star for them. Personally I like to see sand beneath my feet and not just feel it (perhaps because I can trip over my feet in bright sunlight.
I don't need the handicap of darkness).
Also I like birds and even the early bird doesn't choose to start work until dawn.
We had a good long walk before having to pack the car and head home.
Boo hoo.
But the really great thing about this long weekend away was it showed me there was a really awesome dog beach at Caloundra.
Until this point, we've headed considerably further north into the Noosa Shire for our slice of dog beach action.
Finding the Currimundi section of dog beach has opened up a new possibility much closer to home.
So excited was I by this that I booked a beach front house for two weeks at Christmas.
But if you think that's it for me and the beach until December 17, you are dreaming.
My little Energizer Doggies will be on my case long before that. We all need a recharge at fairly regular intervals.
Today's steps: 14 356. I can only imagine how many the fur friends covered charging up the beach and back.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29. Day 150. Nice play

She played me too well using a trigger word she knew I was not capable of resisting. Beach. According to Dictionary.com, a Trigger Word is "a word that initiates a process or course of action". So just as Pavlov's dogs, salivated at the sound of a bell asking if I had plans to go to the beach would, inevitably, get my fingers hitting the keyboard keys necessary to bring up dog friendly accommodation on my computer. My delightful niece Scarlett and her boyfriend Alex were involved in lacrosse games at Caloundra this weekend. They could either drive up and back from Brisbane each day or find somewhere to stay ... Who do we know who might be staying at the beach any given weekend? Well played, I say. Of course, I was totally complicit in this. They may have put bait on the hook but I allowed myself to be reeled in. Truth is there was little or no resistance. I don't need much of an excuse and Drama Teen and both fur friends were willing bycatch in the cunning plan. Having been taken in hook, line and sinker, I was determined to make the most out of every moment of it. While the three teens slept, the dogs and I left the house early and hit the beach. There I had a long chat to three blokes collecting bait fish. They explained that they walked along the beach each morning looking out for the schools of bait fish. When they are located they throw bread in the water to bring the fish close to shore then cast their nets. For old blokes, they said, it saves money on bait and helps fund their hobby. Now all I need is to find a way of funding mine ...
*Today's match was an 8-8 draw but Alex, number 23, did score. I was left wondering how anyone survives a pretty ruthless game.
**Today's step count, thanks to two beach walks and a few laps of the lacrosse field: 15 126

Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 28. Day 149. On a high

 It would have been so easy to stay home this weekend and put my head under the doona.
I can't say I didn't think about it.
But the easy way is rarely the best, at least in my experience. You reap what you sow.
 So the dividends for finding dog friendly accommodation, booking, paying, packing, driving 100 kilometres and unpacking are huge.
The beach is my happy place.
I am pretty sure it is the dogs' happy place too but they haven't actually said owing to the fact that they can't actually speak.
However, in this and in some many other things actions speak louder than words and the level of excitement from the time the suit case appears is palpable.
By the time we hit the sand and the leads come off they explode into action.
If that's not joy, I don't know what is.
It has been a very, very long time since Caloundra has been my vacation destination - I estimate 30 years but given the high we are all on tonight it will be a much, much shorter gap before we return. Life, for us, is a beach.

Friday, May 27, 2016

May 27. Day 148. Climb every mountain

Brisbane traffic you suck. It's not "peak hour" as such but the school peak that really sucks. People  expect a 5pm rush home but not gridlock mid afternoon. Who made 3pm a peak in anyone's language? Well Brisbane, especially on a Friday. I decided after a week of marking and health hell that what we all needed was to escape to the beach. And the dogs, of course, agreed. I promised them we would be romping on the beach by late afternoon. I lied. By mid afternoon I was on the Bruce Highway. By later in the afternoon I was still on the highway just a closer to the destination. The journey should have been no more than 90 minutes on a bad day, this was clearly a very bad day. Realising we weren't going to make it to the beach in daylight, I reassessed and turned off along the old highway, now known as the Steve Irwin Way. Even though I drove that highway for five years not once did I turn off and follow the sign to the Glasshouse Mountains lookout. Today I did and the dogs and I sprinted along the 800 metre circuit. Trust me, even though light was fading, I would have been prepared to take it more slowly. The excited dogs refused to play along. So we may have arrived too late for the sand and sea but we did get a rather nice view of the hinterland. I'll take that (and the dogs clearly weren't complaining).
Today's steps:15, 923

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 26. Day 147. Switzerland

QTC's executive director Sue Donnelly on opening night

Let's play a game. A word game. When I say a word what are three words that pop into your head without thinking. Ready?
My guess is that somewhere at least one of these words featured: Alps, chocolate and neutrality.
It doesn't matter if I'm right or wrong. This is my game and I make up the rules.
Alps: Let's start there. Amazing peaks. Snow covered, offering the possibility of a wild ride to the bottom if you dare.
Chocolate: Rich, delicious. It's only when it melts that you can fully know what's hidden at it's core.
Neutrality: A place that doesn't take sides. When there are two parties at war, Switzerland famously sat back watched and as we now know profited.
At various times watching Switzerland by Queensland Theatre Company tonight I felt all of those things.
Let's go with Alps first. Amazing natural beauty, great heights but prone to clouds that can sweep across in an instant casting a long shadow. Anyone who has been there will not fail to notice the light, Beautiful light. Light that creates mood, light that illuminates as well as obscures and signifies the passage of time over a day and as day turns to night turn to day.
Now chocolate. Especially that Swiss piece of loveliness the Toblerone. First you notice the angles. The set was like that. Raked to draw you in. High at one side and the front but falling away in both directions. But like that Toblerone what you see is not what you get. You know that there is more, far more that's hidden inside. It will be revealed.... slowly.... as the outer layers melt away.
Now neutrality. You don't take sides. Like an umpire in a tennis match, you watch as one scores a point, then the other and back. There will be a winning shot to end this rally but you watch in awe trying to figure out who will hit it and when. You know it's coming but you sure as hell don't know whether it will be a gentle drop shot that just skims the net or a surgical backhand down the line.
This is an amazing two hander. Andrea Moor plays Patricia Highsmith the American writer famed for her psychological thrillers and her famous serial killer Tom Ripley. She's in Switzerland, an exile in the last days of her life revelling in carrying to the end her childhood trauma that began with her mother trying to abort her with drain fluid five months into the pregnancy. Into this walks Matthew Backer, as Edward Ridgeway who arrives from New York to coax the writer into one last deeply dark brilliant murder.
The warning says: This production contains a blackout, coarse language, adult themes, sexual references, violence, replica weapons and herbal cigarettes. It probably should say make sure you have a nightlight. And chocolate. You may just need both.

Total steps today 10, 337. (I walked to QTC. Even if I walked home via Moscow it wouldn't have made up for the chocolate I ate at the opening night party)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May 25. Day 146. Slow and steady ....

 I'm pretty sure that the whole hare and tortoise thing was written to make life's tortoises feel better about themselves. It is, of course, insane. The tortoise may win a popularity competition, an intelligence test or even pick up $10 for second prize in Monopoly's beauty contest but will never win a race based on speed. That's the truth. It is a truth I have long since accepted given I am one of life's tortoises. Speed is not one of my virtues. But slow and steady I can do. This is why for the next 100 days I will be taking part in the Global Corporate Challenge. Hundreds of thousands of participants across the globe are taking part in program supported by the employers. The aim is, of course, to improve the physical and psychological health of employees. We all benefit from that. I am in a QUT team of seven called the Super Slugs. That's a team that suits me down to the ground. The truth is for a variety of reasons I have been even more sluggish than usual in recent weeks and  intend to use this challenge to start turning that around. At a minimum, a very minimum I WILL take 10,000 steps a day even if it means running around the house in the minutes before midnight. I will take steps not make excuses. As well as the six other team members I have recruited two honorary ambassadors. I promised the dogs 10,000 human steps a day. I don't know what that is in dog steps but I don't think they can count anyway. So today the challenge began and we walked to the University of Queensland lakes. Nice it was too. In any event, when the alternative is marking anything looks good. I can think of no better time to sign up for something that will improve your mental health....

I shall be adding my steps daily.  
Today's Step Total: 12, 123

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 24. Day 145. Bring out the bubbily

You know you are getting old, or sensible or something when the "bubbles" you consume on your birthday are of a carbonated water or soft drink type. Well it is a school night after all. The Toy Boy I married turned 51 today. Technically I get to call him a Toy Boy - and by association make myself a honorary cougar (not that there's anything honourable in such a thing) - because I am the senior member of this couple. Fifty-three days longer on this earth has to count for something, right? Yeah, not really. Not even in dog years. But no matter how old you are, a birthday boy is still a birthday boy and deserves a special something on his special day and as the old saying goes the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. A strong stomach it must be for kippers, possibly the most disgusting smelling substance on earth, to be considered special but it has always been his favourite so who am I to argue. As they say Mad Dogs and Englishmen ...With that for breakfast there was probably enough fermenting going on to not need a demon drink with dinner.

Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23. Day 144. Chasing your tail

Dog people are seriously weird, a statement I feel qualified to make given that I am among the most seriously weird of seriously weird breed. A pack of dog owners in a dog park are more barking mad then the canines they bring to exercise. Today I met Nacho's mum. I can't remember her name but I do recall that Nacho is a practical joker, who loves a prank. He loves kids and has a great sense of humour but doesn't mind his own company and plays well with others. Seriously. The fact that this sounds like his online dating profile would probably strike a normal person or even a cat person as the sign of insanity. But to another crazy dog lady that was just a dog mumma who loved her fur baby. And, of course, the fact that our fur friends got on well meant she was a person I immediately could relate to. Sure, it's insane but in a good way.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22. Day 143. Ancient Greek

In London, Australians historically congregate in  Earl's Court. It's a thing. Every city has enclaves that attract migrants of particular parts of the world. In Brisbane, the Italian immigrants went to New Farm, the Chinese to Sunnybank and the Greeks to my part of the world, around West End. In fact, the home we now own was once owned by a Greek Orthodox Priest. We still get his mail on occasions even though he's several owners ago.  Most people who live around here love the contribution the Greek community has made to the area. When I say "most people" that doesn't exactly include my neighbour Margaret. She's a stubborn old thing with a very long memory. Her "problem" with the local Greek community seems to stem to a couple of things, the first of which happened just after Father Dimitri and his family moved in as her neighbour. As Margaret tells it, she asked her new neighbour what she should call him. He suggested "Father" to which she replied "I've only ever had one father and it's not you". Relationship seriously damaged. The damage was set in concrete, literally. Our property used to have a pretty garden. Margaret was friends with the women who painstakingly established it. When the concrete trucks arrived, a bit of a thing Australian Greeks are famous for, Margaret's ire was sealed. And she never moved from that position blaming not just one family who happened to be Greek but by extension all Greeks. So needless to say Margaret's not one of the many thousands of Brisbane residents who storm the gates of Musgrave Park every year for the annual Paniyiri Greek Festival. Her loss, I say. My family, however, walked down the hill and got our Greek on.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May 21. Day 142. Wild ride

 In 2006, when I first saw Menopause the Musical I was 41. I remember I laughed a lot AT the jokes. At 51, back in the Twelfth Night Theatre I'm not sure it's quite as funny, or perhaps it's funnier it's just that I'm laughing WITH the performers. There's a big difference, a really big difference. Certainly aging is a wild ride and like gravity you can't fight. Tonight I went along for the ride.
Menopause the Musical is set in a Department Store lingerie department where four women from very different backgrounds  discover they share a very common bond - they've hit menopause. Over the next 90 minutes through parody songs they reveal the "joys" of hot flushes, nocturnal sweats, insomnia and things that are wet when they should be dry as well as things that are dry when they should be wet. Of course this is ridiculous. Even women of a certain age with hormone-induced mind blanks and madness don't launch into discussions about these deeply personal matters with strangers in departments stores. We wait until the wine waiter or at least the barista appears. We are not savages after all. In fact, had this not been written in 2001 when I had no idea of the "fun" ahead of me, this could be  transcript of one of my ladies' lunches. Fortunately, for everyone, no-one sang. It is, of course, the songs that make Menopause the Musical the worldwide sensation it is. Chain, Chain, Chain, Chain of Fools becomes Change , Change, Change. Change of Life  and  In the Jungle the Mighty Jungle the Lion Sleeps tonight is reworked something along the lines of  in the study or in the spare room my Husband Sleeps Tonight.  You get the idea. You have to laugh. And you do, until you snort or cry. Since the original was in Brisbane 10 years ago, the script has been updated and new jokes added so this version with Caroline Gillmer, Jackie Love, Donna Lee and Lena Cruz is rebranded with the subtitle Women on Fire. But the substance is pretty much identical to the point you might not notice the difference if it wasn't for the selfie stick and "in" antidepressant brands. It's still a musical that resonates with more mature women because they are invisible in popular culture. Popular music is all about love, lust and looks when their reality is more sagging, sweats and sleeplessness (or perhaps that's just me). The fact that 11 million people worldwide including 500,000 Australian women* have seen it would suggest it's not just me. It's a thing because it's funny, charming and real with just the right tinge of sad. And when you throw in four incredible singing voices, what's not to love? Well menopause, actually, There's not much to love about that little "gift' from God but given it's a passage all women have to go on you might as well strap yourself in with others sharing the journey and enjoy the ride. It's not like you have a choice.

*Those Australian figures are actually Australia "people" not Australian "women". Some men do see the show. I reckon it could be as high as 5% on any given night. Good for them. I'm sure they find it funny and enlightening although personally I think this is secret women's business and should stay that way. Popular culture is full of men's stories. Let us have this gem.

Friday, May 20, 2016

May 20. Day 141. And the little one said ...

You know that rhyme about the group in the bed and the little one telling them all to roll over - and they do?
If you bother to think about it, this whole situation raises many puzzling questions. Let us cast aside the moral one about what all those people were doing in bed together in the first place and concentrate on the more puzzling one. Why did they  all keep doing what the little one said even though after the first time it should have been obvious that someone was going to end up crashing to the ground? I think I have unlocked this mystery. There was a little bitch calling the shots (I can use that word here because it's correct). The one wearing the pants around here has no pants at all. Miss Winkle is the cute little dictator bending humans and canines to her will. Rumple brings his favourite ball and drops it at my feet and then begs (because he asks nicely and doesn't demand) for a game of Hall Ball. Rumple loves me to sit at one end of the hall and repeatedly throw the ball so he can charge along and collect it. Winkle stole the ball and wouldn't give it back. Rumple let her. Cousin The Fed came over for a play date and dinner. Anyone who knows beagles know they have very strong noses and even bigger appetites. Bowls were put down for the three dogs and Winkle gulped the content of hers and then pushed The Fed out of the way and finished his - and he let her. Man, how do the beautiful people have so much power to get what they want? That's a question for all of us, even those without dogs big or small.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19. Day 140. Music to my ears. Review One Note Stand. Anywhere Festival

Have you even seen one of those acts were technically everything was okay, good even, but you kind of felt that the performer or performers were tired. That this was the end of a long tour or a long season or a long career and the joy was gone, it was jaded  and what you were seeing was a performer going through the motions? Even the ad libs felt forced. Tonight's performance by Choral Pleasure was the anthisisis of that. This was so freshly baked that when the audience requested - no demanded - not one but two encores the four young men looked at one another shrugged and worked out on the spot what to sing. Their joy at performing together was as obvious as it was infectious. The quartet of Indigenous singers - Jalen Sutcliffe, Dylan Hoskins, Jacob Ridgeway and Jay Bushby - grooved, crooned and belted their way through favourites past and current as well as original numbers. Their diverse singing backgrounds - contemporary, jazz, blues - which combined beautifully in the group numbers but were also showcased individually in the solos and duets. Their harmonies were so beautiful it was hard to believe this was their very first performance together as a quartet but on the other hand that must have had something to do with the genuine freshness and excitement the performance oozed. As the title of this Anywhere Festival performance Three Nights Only - One Note Stand! suggests this season lasts for only three nights. Let us hope the quartet's endurance as a "thing" lasts far, far longer. It deserves to. Three Nights Only - One Note Stand! as part of the Anywhere Festival continues at the Little Tivoli (Flipside Circus Training Centre) 117 Mina Parade, Alderly, only until Saturday. For tickets visit the Anywhere Festival site

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18. Day 139. Purgatorio. Review. Anywhere Theatre Festival

 Perhaps it's the Catholic upbringing. Perhaps it's the past 24 hours living with gastro and thinking I might end up in hell, but for some reason the concept of Purgatory is endlessly fascinating. Purgatory is the place where souls "undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven". It is the ultimate celestial twilight zone where the "purifying fires" cleanse souls. But how does that work? How are those souls cleansed and who does the cleansing? Purgatorio explores that concept with jaw-dropping, spine tingling imagination and daring. The degree to which piece of theatre goes out on a limb starts before you enter the theatre (or perhaps arena is a better term because it's like entering a Colosseum).  As you are arrived you are asked "do you want to sit with the person you are here with?" and possibly a supplementary question "Are you okay
to climb down a ladder?' Depending on your answer to those questions, you will find yourself allocated to either the Man or the Women seats. The two seat tiers are at opposite ends of the performance space, an semi opaque black gauze screen between the two ends. The woman (Freya Pragt) and the man (Jason Cavanagh) occupy and end each. Only when the lighting and proximity to the screen allow do you see the second performer (The lighting design of this piece is its third star). Revealing what has these two in their private cell awaiting the possibility of eternal redemption would be to the ultimate spoiler. But it is sufficient to say Ariel Dorfman's script is as tight as it is intriguing. This play takes the audience (tragically small tonight) on a wild journey locked in an endless circle which makes you question whether real forgiveness and redemption is actually possible or even desirable for some seriously flawed people - and who should make that decision. This is extraordinarily powerful theatre that is confronting and thought provoking.  You'll condemn yourself to an eternal circle of remorse if you miss the tragically short season.

Purgatorio by Ariel Dorfman Presented by 5pound theatre will play at  Room to Play Indepednant Theatre at the paddington Substation only until Saturday. Tickets are available from the Anywhere Festival website

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17. Day 138. Sick as a dog

Shoot me now. Just do it, it's the kindest thing. I'm as sick as a dog, apparently a phrase that dates back to the early 1700s when dogs were considered disease-ridden flea bags. My dogs are not disease-carrying or flea ridden and they are not sick but you get the idea. A vomiting bug from hell struck this morning. Quite sensibly the humans kept their distance. Dogs are not like that. Dogs sense illness and their natural instinct is to stay close and protect. It's another reason I love them even in Winkle's idea of staying close was to squeeze her head between mine and the toilet bowl. It probably isn't the type fo "help" I needed in the moment. It didn't matter. The dogs had a prior appointment at the groomers. So off all the family went to thier commitments leaving me to my own misery. All day I lay there and after many hours vomit-free I decided I was good to make the short drive to pick up the fur kids at the groomers. Turns out that the lack of movement and food and not the good health fairy were responsible for the "recovery". The dogs may have looked a picture of grace and dignity but the owner vomiting into a bin on the footpath outside the store not so much. It's a family thing. My husband did much the same thing outside Brisbane airport on Friday night. Generously he shared the love. It has to be said it's totally something that's going around. As one of my Facebook friends commented: "Been there, done that weekend before last... Makes you thankful for every other day you have existed without it..." I couldn't agree more. Now excuse me while I die.