Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22. Day 203. A formal affair

Last night I had a dream about my first lecture of the semester which will take place on Monday morning. When I arrived in the lecture room, the computer I am supposed to use to project the lecture slides had been replaced by an X-Box. A fat lot of good that would be. Not that it mattered. I'd actually forgotten to write the lecture. Watching all this was one of my first section editors who happened to be a tutor in the unit. He was giving me the same disapproving scowl he always used to give cadet reporters. A nightmare really. It's common in dreams and it's common in popular culture - the storyline of forgetting something really important. It's a variation on the best man forgetting the wedding rings or the family that left the kid Home Alone when they went on holidays. It's scary because we all know it could happen, it does happen. Today at the hairdresser it was chaos. The place was packed with young people preparing for formals or balls. I struck up a conversation with Laura who was having her hair and make-up done. Turns out she is in the same English class as my niece Cleo. I watched an amazing transformation take place  ... And then it happened. Mum arrived without the dress. The bus to the pre-formal function was to leave in 15 minutes and our Cinderella was still in shorts and a T Shirt. An emergency phone call summonsed dad back from the dog park to grab the dress and shoot across town to the rescue. Just like a fairy godmother he arrived and Cinder-Laura got to go to the ball. Because that's something else popular culture teaches us. It normally works out okay. And I have written that lecture for Monday.

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21. Day 202. Turkish delight

 My love affair with Turkey began just after my 25th birthday on my first big solo overseas adventure. It was the most beautiful, exotic, mystical place I had ever encountered. From the Grand Bizarre to the Blue Mosque  to the thermal terraces at Pamukkale, it was an Aussie tourist's dreams come true. On that trip I drank my weight in Turkish apple and orange tea and raki, a potent anise-flavoured liquid capable of giving you a hangover just by sniffing it. And then there was the food. These days we'd say hashtag yum but back then we spoke in sentences ...mostly ... at least before the raki. Unfortunately, I've never returned to Turkey but I do like to visit a Turkish restaurant as frequently as possible. Tonight was one such night, this time courtesy of a my dear friend Alison.
We devoured a banquet and washed it down with Turkish apple tea ...  and wine.  My appetite for Turkish food has not diminished at all in the intervening years but the older, wiser me now avoids raki. Some things improve with age ... at least a bit.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20. Day 201. Top dog

When Winkle joined our household, the plan was that she and Rumple would live relatively separate lives. If they were siblings, they would be estranged. Winkle decided she didn't like that plan. She was going to join Rumple's pack. In fact, she was going to lead that pack. She has followed that plan through every day since. They are rarely any distance apart and even have a double lead so they trot along side by side. I call them D1 and D2 or Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber. So much for distance. So today was always going to be a test. Rumple needed a day at the vet for dental work. Winkle stayed at home. She knew he wasn't there but would frequently get up and go looking for him. She was little girl lost. She may be top dog most of the time but today she was the hero without the sidekick or more accurately the funny one without her straight guy. The only time she looked comfortable was when we went to visit Margaret. There she seemed to revel in all the one-on-one attention. But as soon as we were back at home she was back to sulking. And then we went to pick up Rumple and the world order was good again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 19. Day 200. Bricking it

I rather like it when life takes me out of my crazy routine and into places not on the normal route. The road less travelled, if you like. It actually gives you time to "see" things. So I was dropping off the photos as discussed in yesterday's blog. In my naivety, I thought that a parking spot would be available somewhere in the same suburb. Not so much. So I walked with a great big folio of photos under my arm which I had to try not to crush. But it did allow me to have a look. A real look. I love the old museum. It felt so sad when it stopped being the museum but small things such as fire risks and complete inadequacy to safely and appropriately display things apparently ruled it out. Anyway we now have a wonderful new museum and a beautiful old space. And my photos are in. Winning.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18. Day 199. Photographic memory

It was a case of deja vu, all over again (yes, yes I know).  This will be the third year in a row  I have entered photographs in the Ekka fine art competition. Let's just say, I'd better be more accomplished with a camera than I am at entering competitions. Third time lucky? Not for me. Practice is not making perfect. It goes like this. You have to enter and pay in May but the actual exhibits are not due until now. Actually they were due at the end of last week. Did I remember? No, I did not. I received a courtesy call today asking about my entries. Audible expletive. Had, I delivered the entries? No, I had not? Had I actually chosen my entries, or printed them, or mounted them? No, I had not. I was given until tomorrow. So bring on super thrust mode. I selected some shots, submitted them online for printing and went off shopping for such things as mounting boards.Then I did what any sensible person would do. I delegated. My lovely niece Scarlett was recruited to carry out the mounting. Against all odds, the whole process was completed in a matter of hours. Am I a happy with them? Honestly, not entirely. Some of the prints are not awesome. If I had more time I would have either chosen different photos or had a couple reprinted. But you can only do what you can do and at the end of the day you have to be in it to win it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17. Day 198. All come out in the wash

Some times in life you are the statue. Some times the pigeon. As long as your life isn't more statue kind of days then you have to count that as a win. Attitude helps but attitude is not always that easy to control. But little things can make the difference. Today I found myself smiling at the pigeons and the dog bowl. The pigeons were taking turns at first drinking from and then bathing in a dog's bowl at one of the cafes near where I work.Clearly the bowl was not there for either purpose but they didn't care and who could blame them. They were having such a jolly old time and it made me smile. It distracted me for so long it made me late for a meeting. However the previous meeting in the room ran over so I was where I needed to be on time. Winning. A statue not a pigeon kind of day.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16. Day 197. Here Comes the Bride

My mother cries at weddings. I don't but I am endlessly fascinated by them even when I know neither the bride nor the groom. So when I saw a wedding party rock up at the Botanic Gardens this afternoon, I was drawn to go take a closer look. Rumple and Winkle made friends with one of the bridesmaids so I struck up a conversation and found out the happy couple are Kaz and AJ. As I watched I also noted how wedding photography has changed. No more superimposing faces in champagne glasses (although why that was ever a thing I don't know). The camera crew was circling the bride and groom, doubtless collecting 360 vision. And the final observation? Soft pastel dresses don't always survive well in a garden photo shoot the day after huge storms.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15. Day 196. Just hanging at South Bank

I'm old enough to remember when celebrity and chef were not words that went together. Ever. But in this world there are celebrity everything and chefs are right up there. As a BIG fan of Masterchef, I decided to wander down to the Regional Flavours event at South Bank and see if I could spot George, Gary or Matt. It might have helped if this fan girl had bothered to check the program. By the time I'd got there they had left and were doubtless off eating deconstructed something somewhere fancy. Anyone would have thought I'd never heard of social media. But all was not lost. Not by a long shot. The Living Room chef  Miguel was still smooching up to the crowd. I have no idea what he was saying - I never do - but in that Spanish accent he can just keep on saying it. Besides on a beautiful Brisbane day like today South Bank is a pretty good place to be even if it is just to watch the street performers.

Friday, July 14, 2017

July 14. Day 195. A Night at the Opera

Opera. So cultured. Except this is Gilbert and Sullivan which is very much at the lighter end of the scale which is a great place to be. Ruddigore is not the fat lady sings type of opera. And Opera Queensland embraced the event with just the right sense of fun. Cardboard cut outs in the same cartoon style of the show and just to prove this isn't the stuffy type of show there was a carnival cut out board where put your head in picture - the only way it was possible before Photoshop and Instagram filters. What I love is that given the right occasion (and perhaps the right amount of alcohol) age, income and the inner child is never really that far away. A good laugh is a really awesome way to bring out that child. And Ruddigore was a right regular laugh, something I didn't associate with Opera. I'm not afraid to admit I was wrong ... but I won't make a habit of it.
Listen to the podcast here.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 13. Day 194. Birds of a feather

One of the tales that is on repeat in my mother's Same Story playbook, involves a walk with the dog when my two sisters and I were very young.
According to the story, we were dressed identically for this walk because why wouldn't you dress your daughters like living Babushka Dolls? But that's not the scary bit. An older woman stopped for a chat. Mum, who thinks baby babushka is an attractive thing, expects the lady to comment on how adorable we looked. Instead she admired our pound dog. She said she'd rather raise nine dogs than one child. At that moment, the dog spied and ate poo. I now have a version of this story for my own repertoire. The dogs were beautifully clean and shiny after their regular groom. We went to visit Margaret next door to show off the beautiful hair cuts and bows. Winkle disappeared and had been quiet for too long. She was discovered in the bathroom where she had raided a bin of incontinence pads. It was gut-churningly disgusting. I cleaned her up. Then she did a wee on the floor. We left with our tails between her legs. But would it stop me raising dogs? Not in a million years ... And will it stop Margaret from welcoming the dogs? She'd rather welcome nine dogs than one child

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12. Day 193. The Life of Bryan

Bryan Probets is looking remarkably calm. He's costumed and mic-ed up, ready to take to the stage in the first orchestra rehearsal of Ruddigore. It's true that he has performed Gilbert and Sullivan before - but the Modern Major General in a high school production of Pirates of Penzance doesn't really stack up against an Opera Queensland role. It's also not how Queensland audiences are typically used to seeing Bryan.
Since he won the Media Alliance award for the best emerging artist in the early 2000s, Bryan has been a regular on the Brisbane stage with a list as big as a phone book of performances for our major theatre companies including Queensland Theatre, La Boite and shake n stir. But the winner of the 2012 Gold Matilda Award for his contribution to theatre in Brisbane is a relative newcomer to Opera. Two years ago he debuted for Opera Queensland in Candide and last year backed up in the semi staged concert of Kiss Me Kate. 
"It's terrifying. I don't often venture into singing," Bryan admits. But sitting on a couch in the closed Russell Street Bar outside Playhouse at QPAC, Bryan looks relaxed and says he's enjoying the challenge of Opera, admitting that mixing it up guarantees against becoming bored or complacent. His lead role in Opera Queensland's Ruddigore, or the Witch's Curse will leave no room for complacency. His character is the Baronet of  Ruddigore who has dodged the witch's curse by disguising himself as a shy law-abiding gentleman farmer Robin Oakapple. But he is exposed and the curse dictates he must commit a dastardly crime every day. Almost as dastardly as the crime is that the role charges Bryan with delivering almost all of the infamous Gilbert and Sullivan rapid-fire, tongue-tripping patter songs in Ruddigore. Despite the demands, Bryan says the rehearsal period was less onerous than he expected coming from straight theatre. "I find it's a bit more casual. The hours are a bit more truncated. Sometimes you might have a day off because they are rehearsing the chorus whereas in the theatre if you have a a five and a half week contract rehearsing a show you are there pretty much all day, every day sometimes six days a week."
Not that anyone is taking it easy. "In the hours we are allotted, we go pretty much hell for leather."
He says audiences can expect a wild ride, adding that Ruddigore is one of G&S's "sleeping treasures".  "It's very clever. The writing is very witty. It's Goon Show meets Monty Python, meets Spike Milligan. It's very left of centre."
Bryan says Ruddigore has been designed with a cartoon-like feel, is performed in English and is aimed at everybody.
"It's very accessible and not staid or traditional. It's fun. It's cutting edge."
Ruddigore by Opera Queensland opens at The Playhouse at QPAC on Friday and runs until July 29.
You can hear the full interview with Bryan Probets on our podcast.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 11. Day 192. Dive in with with both hands

Consider this. A hijacked aircraft with 164 passengers on board is heading towards a football stadium packed with 70,000 people.  A fighter pilot decides the needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few and breaks the law shooting the plane and killing all the passengers. Is the pilot a hero or a villain? This courtroom drama, which puts the audience in the jury box, is coming direct from London is one of the headline shows of this year's Brisbane Festival. Terror is just one of 11 Australian premieres in the 22 days of awesomeness that is the Brisbane Festival. The 490 free and ticketed events include music, theatre, circus, cabaret, dance comedy and five world premieres. Whether your "thing" is a drag queen singing the works of Shirley Bassey or seeing Tim Sharp's comic book hero Laser Beak man come to life on stage, the festival has it covered. The difficult thing is working out what to see. Perhaps I will start with Riverfire that finishes the festival and work backwards. Festival artistic director David Berthold says " trust your gut, dive in and take chances. A festival is a feast, not a snack.  There is no single show that will appeal to all tastes and give you a finished festival experience. That's not how festivals work. You'll need both hands." I think I might need not just both hands but both feet as well.
Listen to our discussion with David Berthold at the launch

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10. Day 191. Eat your greens

Lunch time.  I found myself at South Bank and decided to buy fried rice. It came with salad on top. SALAD. On fried rice. There was mayonnaise and all. On the fried rice. Seriously. I ate the rice. I left the salad. The noisy miners hovered and helped themselves to the greens, yet more proof that I never eat like a bird. I walked home. Margaret was sitting at the window watching the street. The birds were hovering. It turns out she wasn't big on her greens either. The meal delivered by Meals on Wheels included broccoli. Margaret suspects Meals on Meals has a deal with a broccoli supplier as just about every meal has broccoli on it. Like President Bush in 1990, Margaret has declared that she will never eat broccoli. She throws it out the window. Funnily enough that's exactly what my younger sister Lisa did with her peas for years. She would smuggle them from the table in her pocket and tip them from the window. My mother only found out when she fessed up years later. As there was never a pile of peas under the window at our place, nor a broccoli heap at Margaret's I presume someone eats their greens. Not us.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 9. Day 190. The show must go on

Smile. You've got this. The show must go on. No matter what happens, no matter what plans fail to materialise, no matter what equipment fails, you can't let the audience down. You push on. This is show business. So it was today. It was a charity performance by Fame Theatre Company at a family fun day aid of Mater Little Miracles. The performers were out of bed on a Sunday morning. They were warmed up and ready to go. The audio equipment, not so much. It started briefly, then stopped. Then it played at a very random speed. Did it throw the performers? No it did not. These pint-sized performers, some of whom were in a group for kids aged from Prep to Year 2, took it in their stride. They rocked it

Saturday, July 8, 2017

July 8. Day 189. All my Christmases

Elmo sang: "Everyday can't be Christmas. That wouldn't be such a treat. You can get tired of chocolate candy. When that's all you eat..."
Susan says: "Okay, perhaps not every day. But twice a year should be fine. Bring on Christmas in July (also, would I doubt I'd ever get tired of chocolate).
Shirley Conran said: "Life is too short to stuff a mushroom.
Susan says: It's my life. I'll stuff a mushroom if I want to ... and a pumpkin. Turkey is fine for the carnivores but the vegans deserve something special too.
Margaret says: "Help me Sue. Please help me."

Susan says: "I'm coming Margaret. I'm coming."It was a night of highs and lows. We invited the family over to dinner neglecting to mention it was going to be a Christmas in July. Surprise. I'm a girl who loves a bit of theatre. Real life drama, not so much. The main meal was over when my mobile phone rang. Margaret was pleading. I grabbed the spare keys and went to her rescue taking Charles as muscle. Even after I was in the house and I'd turned the lights on, she was still on the floor, grasping the phone repeating "help me Sue. Please help me." She's slipped in the bathroom and crawled into the lounge to make the call (no, she was not wearing that panic pendant... sigh). Before we did anything we had to calm her, a job made more difficult by the absence of hearing aids. So I sat and held her hand and when her breathing was controlled we lifted her to her walker and walked her back to her chair. And again I waited. Soon she was bossing me around. Clearly she was back on form. After she's use the toilet and was back in bed I returned to my party. That seemed like reason enough for a dessert wine .. or two. It was Christmas after all.

Friday, July 7, 2017

July 7. Day 188. Lovely weather ... for fish

Fins would have been helpful. It's NAIDOC week and in Brisbane celebration central is Musgrave Park. The tents were there. The stages were there. The rides, the food, the sports stars, the entertainment, all there. Unfortunately so was the rain, the puddles and the mud. It may have been a little disappointing but not enough to discourage the truly hardy souls. Not long after the gates opened, Aboriginal Health Worker Betty McGrady and the team from the Forensic Child and Youth Mental Health Service arrived. Aunty Betty is a Gunggari woman and passionate advocate for her community. She did, however, confess that the expertise of elders such as herself was not always valued. Government departments had reached an understanding that consulting with Indigenous peoples was important. They did not, however,  necessarily think they needed to pay for it in the same way as you would other consultants. She's working hard to get that changed with a register of Indigenous experts being developed. But, she confesses, until that happens if called on to represent her community, she'll be there.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 6. Day 187. Avoid the beak

I did not make this up. There's a Spanish proverb "Avoid a friend who covers you with his wings but destroys you with his beak". This makes me think of my neighbour Margaret. I know she doesn't mean it. I know she considers she has taken me under her wing but sometimes the things that come out of her mouth bite. It's that beak I should be avoiding. Today it was mandarins. I do Margaret's shopping and her list said mandarins so I bought mandarins. They were "disgusting" and "really dry with no juice". What did she think should happen to this hideous fruit? She gave it to me and told me to eat it. Yes, because I love dried out fruit. But it gets worse. She told me Woolies has big, juicy mandarins on sale. Clearly my bad for shopping at Coles ... except for one small detail. The reason I shop at Coles is because Margaret demands it. The birds in our street apparently only eat Coles mince. Groan. Of course, I could refuse. But that's not my style. I whinge a bit a lot but can you really hold a grudge with someone you know doesn't mean it? And we wouldn't want to deny the birds their choice of mince now would we?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 5. Day 186. Like duck out of water

Ants, apparently, know when it is going to rain. Susan does not despite having the advantage of radio, television and online forecasts and the BoM app on the phone. These things are only an asset if you use them. I did not. Nor did I bother to actually look up and look at the sky. Those clouds would have been a bit of a giveaway. Indeed the small drops of wet stuff just after leaving home should have been a hint. I am not much good at taking a hint. I pressed on and got completely and absolutely soaked. And while I am not a witch (some may dispute that) and water will not melt me, I do not enjoy it very much. The dogs didn't seem to worry too much. However wet dogs stink and while they are okay with rainwater they seem to object at bath water. Crazy kids. Crazy Dog Lady for ignoring the bleedingly obvious.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4. Day 185. Skating on thin ice

Ah Queensland. Beautiful one day. Perfect the next. So says the one time marketing slogan. I say, define perfect and further ask "perfect for what"?
Those months of stinking hot, sweaty humid days are not everyone's idea of perfect. And then there's winter. If you like snuggling in front of a fire, if you like a clear change of season, if you like snow sports, Brisbane is not your kind of capital city. Of course, we can pretend. And so it is in King George Square this week where there is an outdoor ice skating rink. The school holiday crowds were having a pretty good time but on a 24 degrees winter day, the ice was struggling. There were many many wet bums but no-one seemed to be complaining.  After all, after 10 minutes in the sun they would be warm and dry again, Serious skaters would doubtless have been horrified but for novelty value it was hard to beat. Sometimes there are worse things than skating on thin ice.