Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31. Day 305. Trick or treat

My next door neighbour knocked on my front door late this afternoon. She was apologetic. She hadn't organsised anything and her young son wanted to go trick or treating. Could they come knocking? Now she probably expected me to be unprepared but had she looked at the dogs at my feet she would have noticed they were wearing skeleton outfits. I had chocolates in the bowl waiting and I'd pulled on my giant pumpkin outfit by the time they both returned. Yes, I do have one of those actually. Of course many people bemoan the fact that Halloween is an American thing which has no place in Australia. Bah Humbug to that. If we were pushing aside one of hour own traditions to make way for a bit of trick or treating I'd be concerned. But we are not. We are just adding another excuse for a bit of fun to our own calendar so what on earth could be so wrong with that? Nothing people, nothing. Besides I like dressing up my dogs and people take much more kindly to that when there's an "excuse". Then it's cute not weird. The only downside is I hadn't actually planned on seeing any trick or treaters today. I'd hoped I'd get away with eating the stash myself. Seems the trick was on me after all.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October 30. Day 304. Flocking to the beach

It was one of those perfect weekends. One of those weekends where you get to Sunday night and you want to start the weekend over again (actually that's every weekend). But some weekends the weather Gods just shine. Like Goldilock's porridge it's not to hot, not too cold but just right. And so the crowds flocked to South Bank to make the most of the rather awesome conditions. It will need to be many, many degrees warmer before I brave the water and in any case I have a pool at home. So I was content to watch the seagulls, who also flocked to the man made beach splashing about and indulging in some water play. Long may the warm weather last.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October 29. Day 303. Stage Fright

As it is the Saturday night before Halloween there are some pretty scary costumes on the streets of Brisbane tonight. I've seen vampires, ghosts, ghouls and skeletons. There was even a girl wearing a tunic splattered with blood and decorated with small Kellogg's boxes with knives through them. She was a cereal killer. But for scare factor not one of them came close to some things I saw my son wearing on stage tonight in Fame's senior musical. The Nazi from The Producers singing Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop was simply terrifying, helped not at all by his obvious joy at such a character role. And that was in Act 1. He followed that up in Act 2 with this most hideous brown suit with tie asunder and fly part undone for good measure.
Douglas Panch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is the bloke who reads the words to the contestants and puts them in sentences. Let's just say neither the sentences nor Douglas really should be anywhere near children. As such it was another role Drama Teen adored. Truly terrifying. Why can't he just dress up like a pumpkin like everyone else? Well because that would be being like everyone else and where's the joy in that? Scary.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October 27. Day 301. Don't be a goose

Communication does not always need a common language - a fact I had reinforced a couple of times today. It was late afternoon when I reached the University of Queensland lakes and the birds had a clear message "feed me". While I frequently do things that make me think I'm a goose, the DNA says otherwise. Yet the expressions and the noise was quite  unequivocal on that point. "What do we want: Food. When do we want it: Now" they chanted. A bit further around a dusky moorhen chick had a slight variation on the theme. The tone which crossed desperation with pathetic ness was more "Muuum. I'm hungry. Feeeeedddd me." But later in the day, my communication powers were tested in a more Tower of Babel. I'd been invited to see a play entirely in French and I'd taken up the invitation even though the only phrases I know are  "open the door",  "shut your mouth" and "do you want to come to bed with me tonight". Someone should totally write that play but this isn't it. Of course there were surtitles like on a foreign film or at the opera so I could follow the words. But you already know the gestures and you already know how people will behave when their children get into a fight and someone gets hurt - worse than the kids with the sticks mostly. Defending your child and your parenting skills is a universal. The play was awesome in anyone's language.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 26. Day 300. Shell shocked

Those types who like inspirational posters and greeting cards with supposedly motivational quotes love the turtle.  Try to be like a turtle. At ease in your own shell, one says. Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out, says another. How terribly clever those who write those things must think they are. It's all so twee. I see those turtles and I am I inspired to stick my neck out? No, I'm reminded that there are times when you should pull your head in unless you want to be seen as a dick. I see a creature so slow it's covered in algae and I'm reminded that if you are not careful where your surface you might end up covered in crap. Oh yes, I do have my glass have empty goggles on today. Marking days do that to my head. Marking days accompanied by the stabbing sinuses of spring just serve to empty that glass a notch. When it reaches that point the only thing to do is grab the dogs and head out on foot. The turtles themselves may not have me thinking like John Sands but the walk and the time to stop and admire the creatures along the way at least goes part of the way to ensuring the head stays above water for that bit longer.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25. Day 299. Uninvited guests

Whenever possible I work from home, a situation easily accommodated due to the fact that shiny devices with an Apple on the front are my office for a fair percentage of my duties. Where the fruit computer or fruit phone are, is where the work is. Home has less interruptions, is quieter and has the advantage of a stocked fridge and dogs. My proper office is a concrete box which looks out on a tutorial room. My home office looks over the pool and the trees. Of course even at home there can be uninvited interruptions. Today it was a a noisy miner who decided to repeatedly dive into the pool. This wouldn't have been such an issue if it didn't send the dogs into a tailspin. There is also the fact that people often confuse being at home with not being at work seemingly assuming I get paid to sit at home and file my nails or run errands for the neighbours. But it's a small price to pay for flexibility and comfort, the company of dogs and not having to pay for smashed avocado on toast.

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24. Day 298. One swallow doesn't a summer make

One swallow doesn't make a summer. Nor, so it seems, do two. This pair of Welcome Swallows at Roma Street Parkland today were pretty as a picture and, as their name suggests, perfectly welcoming. They warmth extended to me despite the fact that I was in the company of two fur friends. But while they may have been warm the weather has not yet reached that uncomfortable sticky level that one might expect by the final third of October. It is, in fact, deliciously moderate and at night often cool.
Please note this is NOT a complaint just an observation. By now I might otherwise be amassing an air conditioining bill the equivalent of the gross national product of some third world nations. I might even have given a passing thought to eating a salad for dinner. Fortunately those heat-induced moments of insanity generally pass quickly. But right now the only heat I'm feeling is that generated by the looking deadline of all marking. Unfortunately a cold shower or cranked up air conditioning is no match for that.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 23. Day 297. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands

Stephen Sondheim, one of the most talented and most under-rated of the musical theatre composers, once said: “If I cannot fly, let me sing.” Brilliant. Singing has the power to uplift whether you are the one singing or the one listening to the song. Of course in the case of the latter it depends on who is doing the former. My singing voice should be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as an emetic. But back to those whose singing voices do not induce vomiting. It is a beautiful thing. A gift to share. And so it was today when the gifted young people of the Fame Theatre Company gathered at the Woolloongabba Senior Citizens Hall to provide the afternoon entertainment. With the jacarandas in bloom and senior exams rapidly approaching, time is a very precious commodity for these young folk. Donating it and displaying their talent to entertain the senior group is a generous act for which they should all the commended. Their payment was in smiles and cheers. That's a pretty good currency for a performer.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

October 22. Day 296. Oh was a bee-uatiful morning

 There's a sting in this tale and it has nothing to do with be bees. It's a tale of rights versus responsibilities. Actions and consequences. Specifically it's about a Saturday morning stroll along Kedron Brook with dogs. See I know this is an action we enjoy. I also know the consequence of such an action is wet smelly dogs covered in prickles and cobblers pegs. I also know that I have a right to let the dogs off leash and they have a right to run off into the bushes. I can stand around photographing the bees while they frolic and frolic they did. It's my right. We were all lost in our happy place (even the bees I suspect because they seemed to be amply rewarded in nectar). But then came the responsible pet owner bit. Rumple emerged with spiky sticks buried in his tail and back legs. He demonstrated his discomfort by staging a sit down strike and simply refusing to move. No dog is better at the walk refusal than Rumple. I had to carry him out on my shoulder removing the offending objects as we went. Winkle just looked like she'd been rolled in cocoa and them sprinkled with cobblers pegs. She was something like a canine lamington. Fortunately as a responsible dog owner I happened to know that the entrance to the run free zone was right next to the vet and Saturday morning hydrobaths. A small investment of $5 per dog was all it took to wash out at least the superficial stuff.  I tried to explain to Winkle that the bath was a consequence of the act of going off road. She was having none of it. I caught her as she jumped out over the top. The girl washing the dogs said some of the little dogs looked like they could jump out. Winkle showed her at least one dog could go the distance. But I  think it's all for show. She'd do it all again tomorrow given half the chance. But the hydrobath lady is only there on Saturdays. By then the last of the cobblers pegs might have been hunted down and removed.

Friday, October 21, 2016

October 21. Day 295. Feed me

I wouldn't like to be the one charged with writing the job description for mother. Let's just say it's a role that is complex and unrelenting but as a result overwhelming rewarding. Guide, counsellor, nurse, educator, driver, mentor, cleaner, social secretary, fashion consultant, personal shopper - there's never a dull moment. But from day one there's one job that's first among equals. A job that's a matter of life and death: caterer. Long before a child can wail "Muuummm. I'm starving. What's for dinner?" a baby is communicating just that loud and clear. And it pretty much never stops. As soon as I get to my mum's place I tend to open the fridge and ask "have you got anything to eat?" Unless you happen to like a dried up piece of cheese or a glass of milk that expired three weeks ago, in the case of my mum's fridge the answer is probably no. But still I ask the question. Feeding the young, or the not so young, is what parents do and what offspring expect long after they are capable of feeding themselves. Today, after giving up on mum's fridge I visited my old neighbour's John and Clare. It was feeding time. I was treated to a cupcake with pink incing and the magpies were given mince, lots of mince, because they had hungry mouths to feed. As soon as they collected a beak full of beef, they flew off to the lawn where the chicks were waiting. And weren't those little ones letting the whole world know in word and action that they wanted their share NOW (if not sooner). This was not a case of turn taking. I'm pretty sure either chick would have resorted to siblicide had a fair and proportionate share not materialised. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those cries amounted to "Not fair mum. She got more than me". Because the only thing more important than keeping up with the Joneses is keeping up with the sibling - especially at lean times.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 20. Day 294. Red sky at night

The old saying goes "Red sky at night, sailors' delight. Red sky in the morning sailors warning". Some versions replace sailors with shepherds. As I know about as much about sailing as I do about sheep, there's little I can add to that. But I do know the bible includes a very similar sentiment In the Matthew XVI: 2-3,) Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; ..." Well if it's in the bible it must be true .... What I can say for sure is that the sky appeared red this afternoon. What I am less sure about is whether that was just because I was looking through eyes so tired and bloodshot that there was an inevitable red tinge that was nothing like wearing rose coloured glasses. I've reached the level of fatigue that is close to delirium ... I swear this afternoon I saw my son wearing a Nazi trench coat and lederhosen whilst cuddling a puppy. Actually that bit, I think was true. When you live with a Drama Teen strange costume choices are par for the course. In  this case I was helping out Fame Theatre with promotional photos for an upcoming musical. Drama Teen has a role in The Producers which I hope explains the Nazi get up. The dogs came with me because we squeezed the photo shoot in en route to the dog park. I love these photo. There's a happiness and stupidity about it that brings joy to my very tired eyes. This is despite my realisation that posting a photo of one's nearest and dearest wearing a swastika is not without issues. At least he's not a royal heading to a costume party and it's not social media where all context is lost even for those who think context matters. Nazis are an historical fact and actors will need to play them even though I'm not to sure that lederhosen and puppies were part of the deal. But perhaps it's all part of my impaired sleep deprived thinking and it made about as much sense as some of the assignments I'd been marking ....

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 19. Day 293. It was a dark and stormy night

 Weird, weird weather we are having right now. Yesterday this mega storm blew in. It let us all know that mother nature is a force not to toy with and then, like a toddler ending a tantrum after making a point, it was over. We were all forced to take the position of the people in the supermarket while the tantrum is in full throttle. All you can do is wait it out. Today was different. It was clear and blue - and then suddenly it wasn't. Fine misty clouds combined with the setting sun to create the type of colours and beauty befit an oil painting. By this time in October it is normally hot, hot hot. Right now it is not, not, not. It's hard to know what to wear when. Woe is me. But here's the thing. Summer will come with all it's Queensland fury and I'll look back on this slightly changeable, slightly unseasonably cool October with great fondness. The great thing about the weather is you can't control it and so it's an opportunity for endless mindless discussion. Safer than talking sex, religion and politics (or Donald Trump who is kind of all three).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 18. Day 292. Hideously ugly

It's been said that if you look as bad as your passport photo, you are too sick to travel. I wish my new passport, which I collected today, was only that bad. I look like I should be on a terrorism watch list, although I suppose to be a good terrorist you probably should look "normal" and not like a terrorist, so I fail that test. Seriously, I get why in the animal kingdom there are reasons to look ugly and threatening. The stripes on the bees, the buzzing the stings are self-preservation measures. Those scales and spikes on the water dragons have a serious "don't mess with me" message. A turtle's shell protects, the noisy miners swooping deters, the cormorant's wing span display threatens (and dries the wings). But is there any good reason the conditions governing passport photos ensure ultimate ugly? I think not. We have moved to facial recognition software for security in airports. It would be pretty useless if it couldn't recognise you if you smiled or wore glasses or looked some way other than straight down the camera lens with a neutral expression. I can only assume that people in passport processing or border patrol have no sense of humour or everyone starts to resemble their passport photo after a long haul flight....

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17. Day 291. Feeling stuffed

Let's be honest. Marking is not hard work like building roads or digging ditches. But it's bloody hard work just the same - mind numbing, soul destroying type of hard work. The jacarandas are in bloom which everyone in my part of the world knows means is final exam time. Students and those who teach them are all feeling stuffed. By lunch time my sight was blurring and head throbbing. I suspected an impending migraine but a rest breaks and pain killers fixed it in a way that wouldn't happen with a migraine. I learned a lesson I had learned but forgotten before ... less can be more. If you don't take breaks you will suffer. It's a false economy and you will just end up stuffed. So what did I do about being stuffed? A somewhat bizarre two pronged approach. Step one involved fresh air, exercise and dog love. A walk around Roma Street Parklands was a good preamble. The main game was cooking - and eating. Every time we hit marking season I start to bake. Last night it was chocolate brownies. Tonight I decided to stuff mushrooms, something it had never occurred to me to do before. With my late father's words in my ears "life is to short to stuff a mushroom", I spread my wings and stuffed mushrooms. And then I ate them. Not bad either. But will I make them again? Who knows what I will do in a marking-induced delirium. I'd ponder the question further if I didn't have marking or baking or eating or procrastinating to do