Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 30. Day 182. Friends old and new

Teenagers are hard, hard work in an emotional brain strain kind of way. But toddlers, well that's a different kettle of fish all together. You forget but today I got a blast from the past. I was on baby sitting duty, just Elliott and I. He's a little pocket rocket, a tiny ball of energy and I was his new toy.  But who wouldn't be happy to play along with someone with a smile like that. And when he said things like "Climb the tree house, Aunty Susan" how could you say no? He's my new best buddy. And just to make the day perfect it ended with four school friends. We hadn't been in the same room for about 30 years. But friends are friends no matter if you rarely in the same city, State or even country. So raise your glass to friends old and new.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29. Day 181. The Bold and the Beautiful

It's hard to believe that an elderly woman having a fall can be seen as a good thing but in this instance I can't help looking at the bright side. My neighbour Margaret is becoming increasingly frail and has been having increasingly frequent falls but has pretty much been in denial. The number of times I have been called to lend a hand has been growing steadily. Yes, I'm happy to be like the Cyndi Lauper song "if you fall, I will catch you. I will be waiting, time after time" but in the end it would be better if something was put in place to stop it happening. This fall may be the reality check she needed and the trigger for a more formal help package. Up until now there have been explanations for why the falls had been an unfortunate accident. This time she seemed frail and scared and sad. That's not the positive. The positive is that after I hugged her and reassured her, she let me call an ambulance. Her blood pressure was "at stoke level" and her feet clearly affected by diabetes. A hospital and a visit by the Aged Care Assessment Team is what is needed. If, and it's a big if, she's allowed home measures should be put in place to make life safer for her. By lunch time she was far happier and looking forward to this afternoon's Bold and the Beautiful. That fighting spirit was back. I just hope it's channeled in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28. Day 180. A job well done

My dogs walk all over me - literally and metaphorically. I can be lying in bed and one or other of them will stroll up my body and make him or herself comfy on the pillow. My pillow. No respect. But it's clearly a problem with the owner not the dogs as if that's any great revelation. Today was pooch parlour day and I was a bit early picking the children up. The finishing touches were still being applied to Rumple. He stood there as good as gold not moving a muscle. I can only assume the groomers are dog whisperers. I did ask if Winkle was anywhere near as good. Apparently she's "improving". From a very low starting point I suspect but thought it prudent not to ask. As a reward for good behaviour we went visiting. Elliott was most keen on seeing the dogs with their bows in. They were also keen to have a run with a very energetic toddler who likes to throw a ball and feed them treats. There was no standing still good as gold here. I rather suspect Elliott would have been most sad if there was.

Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27. Day 179. Ready to fight

I am a lover not a fighter. Indeed I hate conflict rather a lot. It's can be a strength not a weakness to pick your battles provided you set the bar correctly and I admit there are some fights I should take up but don't. However when push comes to shove I will not shun a stoush and I feel one brewing. It's one of those cruel-to-be-kind fights. The increasing frailty of my neighbour Margaret is a growing concern to pretty much everyone but her. She uses that age old technique of avoiding the issue and hoping it will go away. It won't. She had another fall today and again I was around to help her up. After she was righted and rested I went to visit and I used my stern voice when she started making noises like she might cancel her doctor's appointment this week. I know, hard core. But it really is time she was made to see sense and start putting sensible protections in place - and keeping them there. After all we did get her a panic alarm about 18 months ago but she sent it back. Not this time. This time I need to hold my ground in the face of what I know will be fierce opposition. My model might need to be the kookaburra which was waiting outside the window while Margaret and  chatted waiting for the dogs to leave. The crows kept coming at her but she stood her ground and when really provoked did adopt a most threatening posture. I need to start practicing that one. This may be quite a fight.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26. Day 178. Season's greetings

At one stage tonight my husband was wearing a paper crown on his head and had his face covered with a Boris Johnson cutout - as you do. This could be a tragic result of the Brexit vote (or perhaps a result of the tragic Brexit vote) but it wasn't. Well not entirely. This is the insanity that happens when you decide it's a good idea or celebrate Christmas in July and then for good measure hold the event in June. The bi-annual Christmas gathering (because once a year is hardly enough) with two other families close to my heart has been a "thing" for a number of year. It is a time to eat, drink and be merry and merry we were. It is such a delight to see our "children" now as adults but still getting on a treat and all enjoying the company. Now they also get the right to enjoy the mulled wine, champagne and cocktails. Silly Secret Santa has been a tradition too but this year we changed it up or down a notch to make and stuff a Christmas Cracker which would be randomly allocated. There were challenges, dares, games - and the Boris Johnson cracker which was indeed a cracker proving that the children may have grown up but the grown ups have no intention of doing so any time soon. A great night was had by all.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 25. Day 177. Mister Cellophane

You know it's all an act but when an actor nails it that fact is quickly forgotten. I know I'm his mum so I would think that but I could feel the desperation in just about every bar my boy sang in Mr Cellophane in Fame's senior musical today. In the otherwise very, very upbeat musical Chicago, this song is a so tragically sad it's hard to believe. Being invisible is a state few aspire to (sure there are times we all crave invisibility and a cloak is a super power but it's something people want to use selectively).
So when your boy is up there in pain I just wanted to give him a big hug and tell him he was far from invisible, just the opposite. But then I'm his mum. And anyway, by the second act I know he's okay because he sings about it "I'm not yet dead" from Spamalot. And that's the beauty of the theatre and the power of the actor: so many roles and such an ability to transport. You have to love that.
Today's steps: 16, 606

Friday, June 24, 2016

June 24. Day 176. Fly free my friend

Big bird close-ups are a bit of a thing for me. Almost always, however, they are taken with my telephoto lens. Not today. Today, these up close and personal pics were taken with a wide angle lens which means I was close, very close. It says a whole lot about the birds. They were friendly and cheeky and clearly a great liking for people. Big personalities and clearly a great love for food. It all seemed rather fitting really. These fellows were hanging around the afternoon tea following the funeral of our family friend (and mum's bestie) Nita. Nita was one of life's characters, a great free spirit with a huge sense of fun and an ability to light up a room. I love my mother's story from her hospital bedside less than 24 hours before she died. Mum was reading an article from a women's magazine, "some ridiculous thing", Mum said. "Well, that's bullshit," Nita said from her death bed. A sense of fun until the end. So fly free, my friend and soar into the heavens.

Today's steps: 15, 837

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23. Day 175. Out of the Box

When my son was in Year 3, his enlightened teachers decided to ditch the idea of conventional homework and replaced it with a homework grid. Sure there was maths and English but on rotation there might be drawing or sport or housework or even culture. However while that was the vision of the person who devised the grid homework system, arts and culture never appeared in our homework. The teachers told me this was because for many families this would be a step into unfamiliar territory and the kids would have nothing to write about or record. That rather makes me want to weep but not as much as when I was at the theatre about a month ago and I heard a woman in her 20s confess to her date that this was her first ever theatre visit. Say what? Devastating. There is so much exposure to the performing arts can teach a child and so many ways in which they can enrich a young mind. It warms my heart to see little ones eyes light up when watching a performance. There is nothing, nothing as perfect for this as the Out of the Box Festival which comes to our city every two years. Everyone one of the theatres in our premier performing arts precinct is given over to performances especially for children aged 3-8. How good is that. Add to that workshops and hands on activities and what you have is eight days of the best of the best for under 8s. Today with my little mate Elliott and his mum Alison there was Bollywood Dancing, a gong garden in the grounds of the Nepalese Pagoda and the Gazillion Bubble Show. That's pretty special if you ask me.
Today's steps:15,889

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 22. Day 174. Games people play

So I was on my way to the theatre when I heard a bit of a commotion. Naturally that caught my attention and I followed the noise. There were these blokes, big, big blokes covered in tattoos and logos or perhaps it is the other way around. They were having quite a nice time kicking a ball about until one of the got a bit over-enthusiastic and kicked it on to the QPAC roof. Isn't that how every game of back yard ball sport end up with some big shot losing the ball? You'd think that by the time you'd made a State of Origin team you'd be able to kick well enough without kicking the ball over the neighbour's fence. Okay, okay, I may have no interest in the game but that does not mean that
1) I can't recognise a maroon tracksuit and JT and Sam Thaiday. I would be hard pressed to name the others but that's a start.
2) I don't appreciate the hard work, dedication that goes into becoming an elite sportsperson.
I just have more interest in what is happening on the other side of the performing arts complex wall and what's more I rather wish the banks and beer brewers would provide as much support to theatre as they do to rugby league.
Today's steps: 15,003

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 21. Day 173. Food for thought

There was a time when McDonald’s urged us to Keep your Eyes on Your Fries. I gulp slightly when I realize that was 1978. Holy crap. It doesn’t feel like yesterday but possibly last week. Where do the years go? Anyway, while the advice is almost 40 year old it is good but doesn’t go anywhere near far enough, at least not at South Bank. Keep your eyes on every single thing that could count as a foodstuff. It’s guard it or lose it. The ibis have appetites that are matched only by my own and I at least pay for my food. It was morning tea time when I was at South Bank yesterday and a woman nearby ordered a coffee and muffin. I hope she enjoyed the caffeine because a temporary distraction saw the muffin fly off. To be fair on the ibis, something I am not sure they deserve, they may be the worst offenders but they are by no means the only ones. While sitting near a coffee shop, I watched a noisy miner swoop in to the counter steal a sugar sachet and fly off with it in his beak. I should have been appalled. I was secretly impressed. You just need to be vigilient and keep your eyes on the prize.
Today's steps:  20075

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20. Day 172. Shell shocked

Given that curiousity killed the cat, it is just as well I'm a dog person. When something takes my attention or puzzles me I find it hard to let it go. Today's question involves a turtle I have named Marilyn, on account of the fact that it she a blonde (bomb)shell. I spied Marilyn on Saturday and it started me thinking. Albino turtle: what are the chances?  UQ sustainability had no record of albino turtles in the lakes and nor did UQNews (although they were the ones who made me realise a nickname was essential in this day and age. Think Migaloo the albino whale). Now a "normal" person may have left it there. Yeah, perhaps it was marking avoidance´but for whatever reason I wasn't leaving it there. Time for an email to the Queensland Museum. There I learned that Marilyn was probably leucistic not albino which means she has a partial loss of pigmentation. It's in the eyes, apparently. The pigment cells in the eyes are not affected by the condition. My expert says colour mutation genes are probably not uncommon in populations but are most likely recessive. And here'e the kicker: "there is often strong selective pressure against the survival of individuals that express these genes in a visible form. For example, a predator will often selectively target the unusual individual from the rest of the flock etc". It appears it is not only humans that target those who are different. The email went on to say that a turtle with colouring like Marilyn's "probably experience more attention from sight predators such as herons and are unlikely to survive to adulthood, yours is a lucky one!" So there you have it. With all that information I went back looking for Marilyn but I couldn't see her. There were, however, plenty of other turtles sticking their necks out
Today's steps 15 032

Sunday, June 19, 2016

June 19. Day 171. Singin in the rain

I don't sing in the rain, mainly because even in torrential rain like today there is a risk of someone hearing me and there are laws against that sort of public nuisance. If there aren't, there should be. It actually puzzles me why the birds were in such fine voice.
This would be enough to take the song out of the heart of all but farmers and keen gardeners.
For those whose only shelter is that offered by leaves or the rafters of my pool house, there would seem to be very little to sing about.
In any event, I am less Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds Singin' in the Rain and more the old man who, when it's raining and pouring, is found snoring.
As soon as the rain starts pattering on the tin roof it screams sleep to me. Given I don't need any encouragement to nap, the rain call is irresistible.
Into my warm nest I go, happy and officially following the official advice to avoid non-essential travel.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

June 18. Day 170. Knowing your place

There is, of course, a natural pecking order which, if nothing else, saves a lot of time and effort working out where you are in the line with every encounter. We all know where we stand, we know our place, which has to be better than being put in your place. So it was today on a rather delightful outing to the University of Queensland Lakes with my friend Alison and her toddler Elliott. The young man was delighted to see me but I was not the main game. In order the pecking order was Winkle, Rumple, Ducks and Turtles. I think I probably even came in after monkeys until he realised that while the botantic gardens at home have monkeys there would be none today. While I think of it, the water bubblers, rocks to throw and the earth moving equipment were probably also more interesting than I was. But that's cool because that's what being a toddler is all about - going out and exploring all the sights, sounds and tastes of the world. A crazy puppy who licks you or the splash of water from a rock thrown into the pond or a water bubbler is exciting. The trick is to try and capture just a bit of that innocent delight.

Friday, June 17, 2016

June 17. Day 169. Morning melodies

White privilege. The term is heavily laden with negative overtones. But the truth is being born into a middle class Western family does come with a great big barrel of advantage. Of course when that's your reality, that's just life. That's normal. It is what it is. Unless you stop to think about it. Today I did pause. It was 10am and I was in bed. Not "still" in bed but "back" in bed after a "big" morning even by my standards. ABC Radio Brisbane breakfast was holding an outside broadcast at Sandgate Town Hall. I went along because Friday is my studio day with presenter Spencer Howson and because I enjoy this sort of thing immensely. I presented my reviews in front of the audience, witnessed some exceptional local talent perform live, took far more photos than was strictly necessary and also meet some really lovely people. One woman told me that one my recommendation she's bought tickets to Queensland Ballet's Gershwin. I gave another my email because she said she always listened to my theatre reviews and would love the check out some of the productions but wasn't sure about public transport access. Many others commented on how nice it was to put a face to the voice. That's cool. Really cool. That part of the morning done, I battled some horrendous Sandgate Road traffic to Queensland Theatre Company where members of the Dead Puppets Society are working towards the World Premier of The Wide Earth. This show will tell the story of Charles Darwin's voyage with some really, really special puppets. There was only a handful of media in the workshop getting up close and personal with these amazing puppets and the creative team bringing them to life. When you work in arts media, these types of opportunities are a bit par for the course so it is really easy to forget that this is far from everyone's reality
It is a privilege to see just about every live show going around. It is a privilege to be able to tell people what you think about what you've seen. The fact that some then hand over their hard earned $$$ is a real privilege. And to go back stage and meet a most lifelike puppet dog, well that made my day. It's no wonder I needed a little lie down after all that.
Today's steps: 19 426