Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 31. Day 304. Happy Halloween

Halloween. There are plenty of Australians who poo poo on the whole thing. I am not one of those. I embrace the whole thing on the following grounds:
1. Dressing up. I love dressing up and I fully encourage it.
2. Chocolate. Enough said.
3. Tricking. I endorse that too, except if the eggs are thrown at my house. Besides, no-one gets to trick because everyone either ignores the front door or hands over the goodies.
4. What is so wrong with people going and visiting the neighbours? In my book, nothing. I bought chocolate just in case Oscar came to visit. He came to visit in his Spiderman outfit. I handed over the Freddo Frogs and he gave me a high five. See, what's not to love?

Monday, October 30, 2017

October 30. Day 303. Food fight

I love South Bank. It is the jewel in Brisbane's crown. I bet every tourist who visits Brisbane ends up there. Who wouldn't love a free inner city beach, the markets, restaurants and parklands? Of course, you do have to take the good with the bad and by bad I mean the birds. The birds are part of the South Bank experience but they also make enjoying the outdoor eateries rather difficult. Today I watched a family of tourists from Europe trying to enjoy fish and chips. I also watched a flock of seagulls (not the 80s English new wave synthpop band but actual gulls) competing to get their share. They were crazy determined. The tourists appeared somewhere between amused and annoyed. A group of Asian tourists filming it all on their phones were definitely amused. There are probably scores of Chinese language YouTube videos titled birds attack tourists tagged Brisbane right now. Seriously, if tourists love watching crocodiles or dolphins being fed, these guys were every bit as much of an attraction (provided you don't mind donating fish and chips).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

October 29. Day 302. Let them eat cake

I am a big child, a very, very big child. I love cake. I love parties. I also love pass the parcel and smashing a pinata. But no matter how childish I can be, I can't match the excitement of a four-year-old at her birthday party.  Today was my little friend Molly's fourth birthday party. I wasn't feeling great. And it was stinking hot. But the dogs and I rather fancied a bit of outside time and Miss Molly loves the dogs. Also I did make a pinkie promise. So party it was, with cake, and cordial and lollies. And the smiles of an excited four-year-old made it all worthwhile.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

October 28. Day 301. Thirteen. Unlucky for some

Thirteen. Unlucky for some. Actually, being 13 is pretty much unlucky for everyone - and their parents. Being a teenager is not a wonderful thing, at least not all the time. It can suck. Totally. I spent much of the day with teenagers. This afternoon I was with the family for a birthday barbecue for my sister. The children are all teenagers - except one. The grand old member of the cousin club is 21-year-old Scarlett. Apparently she has grey hairs. Her sister likes to locate and remove them. Soon they were all at it. Our family sure knows how to party. Later, I was at Fame for Senior Musical. This is the first time in forever Drama Teen has been too old so we were there as observers. We liked what we saw, a lot. The first mini musical was from Thirteen by Jason Robert Brown, all about the angst of being a teenager. JRB is well known for writing autobiographical works. Depending on who you listen to, he is either a boy wonder or entirely self-indulgent. He can be either in my book. This one is on the wonder boy spectrum. And having a talented cast of age-appropriate performers took it to the next level. See, teenagers don't always suck.

Friday, October 27, 2017

October 27. Day 300. Purple patch

Variety is the spice of life, right? There's not much variety in sleeping, eating and having a blood test. Repeat. My haircut was at least a month overdue because, frankly, I didn't have the energy to do the whole hairdresser thing which I find exhausting at the best of times. The news that next week would be another work-free zone pushed me over the edge. Also, action was needed before hair-induced blindness set in. I decided that a splash of colour was needed. For this girl there really was only one colour I was going to choose. Purple has always been my favourite colour. So my hair was tinted. Then blonde streaks were applied. Then two of the blonde streaks were dyed purple. Four hours and a few $$$$ later, I left with a new look. This was hair that deserved a night out but an afternoon at the salon is energy sapping enough. A change is as good as a holiday, apparently. I've booked a holiday in a couple of weeks so I can compare.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October 26. Day 299. Scary stuff

All day yesterday we were warned they were coming. Super cell storms with hail as big as 10 centimetres in diameter would hit later today. The sky was already darkening when I took Margaret to the hairdresser at 3pm. It looked threatening.  I watched the sky while the washing and setting of hair took place. The hairdressers, all made up ready for the shopping centre's Halloween celebrations, agreed the downpour was about half an hour away when we left. The light show began. Both my husband and son had places they needed to be. I told them to go early to miss the deluge. The thunder rocked the house, the wind picked up and then ....nothing. If there was rain it wouldn't have measured in a rain gauge. There is no doubt someone got it somewhere but not us, not here. Some on social media were talking in terms of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The way I see it, the forecast was "almost" right. There were storms. They were bad. They just didn't make it quite this far. I would prefer that than no warning and getting thumped when you least expect it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 25. Day 298. Mud bath

Mud baths, according to many, have impressive therapeutic qualities. It turns out you may even feel better just watching others roll about in the brown stuff. This afternoon I decided it was time for fresh air and sunshine and a little walk. This is a specialist-approved activity. The dogs were totally up to act as my carers, until we got to the off leash area when they were off like dogs that have been trapped  in a bedroom with a sick person for too long. The off leash area was still recovering after last week's heavy rain. There were deep puddles and lots and lots of mud. Naturally Winkle was the first to dive in. My white dog looked like a dirty drowned rat. They jumped in the creek. It washed away some of the dirt but certainly didn't improve the smell. But seriously, the fun they were having was infectious and a great tonic. Besides we were very close to my mother's place so it made a whole lot of "sense" to go there and order the warm bath with fresh towels. The freshly laundered dogs and I went home all feeling so much better for the experience.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

October 24. Day 297. Roll up. Roll up.

What does a breakdancer do when breakdancing goes out of fashion?
Finding a new dance form might be a "normal" reaction, but Papa Africa AKA Winston Ruddle, decided or start a circus.
Inspired by a group of acrobats he saw in Zimbabwe, Ruddle began recruiting performers and started a circus school.
Among the first were trouble makers from the streets of Tanzania Omary and Fadhili, the freakishly talented strongmen from the Hakuna Matara Acrobats. 
For more than two years the troupe of 22 performers from six different African countries have toured Australia.
The Brisbane season, which opened at the Roundhouse Theatre at Kelvin Grove this week, will be the last stop before the gr
oup returns to Africa. Not only did the performers run away to join the circus but the circus ran away to tour Australia.
Australian audiences have been lapping it up including picking up five stars at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
It's a ringside look at some of the most extraordinary acrobats and dancers you will ever see.
No-one should be that flexible, strong, coordinated or graceful.
And yet all 22 are. This may not have the glitz and glamour of a Cirque Du Soleil but it has a vibrancy and fun that is uniquely African. PR spiels often lie, but when they describe this as The Lion King on steroids they nailed it.
While Winston Ruddle promises Cirque Africa will be back in Australia in a couple of years, it will be with a different show.
This circus will perform for the last time in Australia at The Roundhouse at Kelvin Grove on November 4. 
You can listen to our review here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

October 23. Day 296. Don't be a turkey

Am I the only one who watches those extreme make-over programs and makes a list of which body parts you would surgically improve? Naturally, I am too much of a wimp to ever go through with surgical enhancement but it doesn't stop me making a list. Yes, this makes me shallow but I'm okay with that. What is on top of the list varies. In summer, it tends to be the tuckshop lady arms. I hate my arms and refuse to wear garments that expose them. But often it is the chins. One chin is enough, especially if it doesn't droop half way down the neck. One has to wonder why in turkeys big wobbily chins and great big tails are a great catch but in human females they are disgusting.  Life is so unfair.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 22. Day 295. A splash of colour

Yesterday, I was feeling sorry for myself. Today, I was feeling shit, literally and figuratively. Doubtless millions of people wake up every day with exploding bot-bots and manage not to work themselves into hysteria. I'm not one of those people. For those playing along at home, my liver is in meltdown due to an ulcerative colitis drug, the hardcore one. The war to keep that little nasty at bay now has one serious weapon less available in its arsenal. So while a bad belly probably means nothing, I managed to build it up to a great big something. I made myself feel sick. I was already feeling sick. I went to sleep for several hours. I rang my mother. I slept for more hours. I went to visit my mother because even at my age a girl sometimes needs her mum. A late afternoon visit to Mum's always means popping next door with the dogs to watch the lorikeet feeding ritual. Who wouldn't love watching those birds in a feeding frenzy? My dogs certainly do. They have no hope of ever getting anywhere near a bird but they love charging around the back garden giving it a red hot go. And I love sitting on the grass in the afternoon sun watching them. It lifted my spirits enormously. I went home and found an orchid on my front steps left by a work colleague. Spirits lifted some more. And then MY BROTHER texted me to see how I was going. My sisters have already been in touch. That's what sisters do but my brother?! Michael and I have always been close but he's not the reach out type. Sure there was almost certainly a prompt from Mum but the concern was genuine. His texts made me laugh. Laughing is good. And my husband is home from Sydney. I put on a pair of my new Peter Alexander PJs and went back to bed feeling more at peace with the world.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October 21. Day 294. Wet, wet, wet

Today I was a big wet blanket. Wet dreary days are known to induce SAD, AKA seasonal affective disorder. Winter depression is a thing, induced by lack of light. It's unlikely to happen after one dark and rainy day in Spring but perhaps I'm a particularly sensitive type. Or perhaps I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. Today I have a very bad case of feeling-sorry-for-self-itis. I don't like being trapped at home. The wet weather only makes it worse. On dry days I can take short excursions. On wet days, I stay home and mope. Ironically, when I'm not sick, a weekend with nothing to do is considered a blessing. When it is forced upon me, it is a curse. Woe is me. I did leave the house just once, to go and check on Margaret. The dogs insisted on it. They are getting annoyed at my lack of enthusiasm for walkies (although mostly they are quite content to sit on my lap or lie beside me on the bed).

Friday, October 20, 2017

October 20. Day 293. Prisoner, the play

Cockroaches. Hideous little things. No-one wants them around their home. Well almost no-one. Given the severe overcrowding of infamous Boggo Road Prison you'd think the last thing you'd want would be extra cell mates, even those the size of roaches. But according to interviews with guards at the prison from the notorious Bjelke-Petersen era, the prisoners used the cockroaches to their advantage. They became carriers for contraband, in particular cigarettes. The smokes would be tied to the roaches who were then released to carry their load. The problem is there's no controlling exactly where a roaming roach will roam. However, a creative prisoner might pull all the legs off one side of the cockroach and release the roach against the wall so it could only travel in one direction. Genius. This is just one of the stories that came to light when interviews were being conducted for Boggo, a piece of verbatim theatre which will staged by Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble next month. Playwright Rob Pensalfini created the work based on the oral histories collated by Brisbane historian and Boggo Road Prison expert Chris Dawson. Tales of suicide, murders, corruption and sex scandals are woven through the piece which shines a light on the infamous riots. Today actor James Elliott and Rebecca Murphy explained that residents were always told the unruly prisoners were to blame. This piece sets the record straight. It reveals how misuse of power and corruption at the highest levels in the Bjelke-Petersen government had a trickle down effect right to prisoner level. Murphy says the surprise is not so much that this happened but that this is recent history. While it might seem a surprise that a group devoted Shakespeare would stage such a work, QSE has a very active Shakespeare in Prisons program so in a way there is a natural connection. There is also a colourful lyrical voice unique to Queensland which Elliott says an almost Shakespearean beauty. To hear even more about why you should see the production, listen to our interview. Boggo is being performed at the Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio at St Lucia from November 8-18.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 19. Day 292. Brains .....

Zombies, as I understand it, they feed on brains. Therefore, Drama Teen and I should be totally fine should the zombie apocalypse ever actually materialise. We learned this tonight at Containment, a quite extraordinary interactive theatre experience at the Powerhouse. If you've ever had a go at one of those very popular puzzle rooms, this works on much the same principle but it's taken really, really high doses of steroids. In your battle to find a way of stopping the virus is turning scientists into zombies, you don a hazmat suit, scan codes on the mission-issued iPad, cover three floors of the Powerhouse and encounter many, many zombies. In an ideal world you collect clues and devise the required formula to stop the zombie apocalypse. Clearly, I don't live in an ideal world. We failed. We failed at our first puzzle room experience but we were more than happy to try another one. Sure it would have been better to succeed but this is one case where the thrill really is in the chase. But don't delay. You only have until October 29 to get yourself to the Powerhouse and save the world from zombies or at the very least show you can do better than our 66% success. For the record our team name was Moist Towelettes. I can totally blame Drama Teen for that one. To hear our assessment, listen to the podcast

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October 18. Day 291. A textbook case

So today was a day of reckoning of sorts. At the recommendation of my amazing specialist, I was referred to one of his mates, a bloke who is the director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Prince Charles, formerly from London's prestigious Harley Street. If you want to know why liver enzymes that should be around the 30 mark are at 1700 plus he's as good a guy as any to ask. There are no definitive answers but he's as sure as he can be that it's a reaction to the immunosuppressant I have taken for about a decade for ulcerative colitis. From day one I was told that while rare this could happen and I've had regular blood tests to check. All's been good until now. I had a similar result to a previous immunosuppressant but it was violent and almost instantaneous. It also righted itself as soon as I stopped taking it. Not this time. If you want to know what this kind of liver disease feels like, imagine a serious, serious hangover. Totally wiped out and vomitous. That's a liver that can't deal with what you are
throwing at it. Also because in the early stages my gall bladder was also misbehaving a bit I was itching all over like a drug addict in withdrawal. Attractive, right? The good news is, if this is the cause, it will right itself. The bad news is it may be six months or more before that fully happens. What is typical is hard to tell because the numbers are small but I've been warned it won't be fast. As wonder specialist says "you've had a severe episode. It will take time to mend" He went on to explain that had I badly fractured my leg in a car accident, recovery is fairly easy to measure. The liver is more tricky so you have to be guided by how you feel as to how much you can do and how quickly. A return to work half time next week or the week after may be achievable, depending on how I feel. And then there will be weekly blood tests to see just what those liver enzymes are doing. If the improvement isn't what they would hope, then a liver biopsy is on the cards. Dr Wonder says the good news is the best liver surgeon in the world is in Brisbane. Apparently if I have to have liver disease, this is the place to be. Well that's something. For now, no booze, obviously, lots of rest, lots of water and lots of walks with the dogs (I may have added the "with the dogs" bit). I should eat well and remember the fight to keep the ulcerative colitis at bay is now one drug down. Now the only weapon available to be brought in to fight an attack is steroids. I hate steroids. Steroids hate me. My family hates me on steroids. I hate my family when on steroids. So I've been told to consider what it is that is likely to stir things up and avoid them. For me that's going out to dinner. It goes like this. Restaurants or take away food is prepared and reheated, at least in part. That means more bacteria than something cooked from fresh. For most people that doesn't even register for me it starts a chain reaction that can be hard to stop and has landed me in hospital more times than I care to remember. As Dr Wonder says, when people go out for Indian and feel dreadful the next day, they blame the curry. It's more likely to be the rice which has been reheated multiple times. So there you have it. To celebrate I ducked into the QUT Library to borrow more series of House to keep me amused while I convalesce.  These books decorate the roof.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October 17. Day 290. House arrest

Apparently house arrest has nothing to do with being so fixated with re-runs of House that you don't leave the couch. I'm doing what I'm told. Not going to work, resting and eating carbs. Repeat. Today I found the energy to get bored for a bit. I think that's because I'd watched all the House episodes I had recorded. I even considered marking for a second. Exhaustion returned immediately at the thought. My circle of operation extends only as far as Margaret's lounge room. Given I can hear her TV from my bedroom we are not talking very far at all. So the potential for something new and different to photograph is rapidly declining. Tomorrow, however, is a new day. My specialist has referred me to one of his mates for a second opinion. I get to go all the way to St Andrew's. Also I get to benefit from the experience of a former Harley Street specialist (yes, of course I Googled him). Also, I found QUT Library stocks all the House series. Guess where Drama Teen is heading after his classes tomorrow.

Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16. Day 289. Purple Rain

Jacarandas. So beautiful. So terrifying. At this time of the year Brisbane has been painted purple. On wet and windy days like today that results in purple rain and really, really slippery footpaths. But that's not the scary bit. As every student will tell you, the appearance of the jacaranda means final exams are near. As every university lecturer will tell you that means marking season is upon us. And yet other than leaving the house for blood tests, I sit on the couch and watch episode after episode of House. I like House and I am an expert in procrastination but that's not the point. I'm still on sick leave and while there is a awful lot of sleeping going on, I need a way of filling in the waking hours. Strangely, watching medical drama is kind of therapeutic, except for the episodes with exploding livers. Those ones my dodgy liver really doesn't need.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October 15. Day 288. Ladies who brunch

It was my baby sister Lisa's birthday today. "Life" means a proper family celebration won't be able to be scheduled until later in the month. However a small something needed to happen. Also, in a rare act of organisation, I actually had a present ahead of time. That sort of rare orgnisation can not go un-noticed. The problem is I'm still not up for very much at all. So even though it's Lisa's birthday, both my mum and Lisa came to me and we went just down the road to one of my favourite brunch places. The dogs came too. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October 14. Day 287. The Bear Necessities

Performers Nancy Denis and Candy Bowers
Nancy greets fans after the show
 It's an age-old tactic and often repeated literary device. If you have a difficult and possibly challenging story to tell use animals rather than humans to get your message across. It feels far less preachy to have humans dressed as bears use beats, poetry, hip hop and afropunk to deliver a sermon. Throw in outrageous wigs, too much pink, a slime gun and flouros and you'll have the audience eating up everything you are serving them including some pretty hard core concepts. There's a whole lot going on in One the Bear which we saw at La Boite tonight. ** At one level it's about a bear who became a pop star and forgot her bear origins and mates back in the woods. But it's a story about commodification, cultural appropriation, the taking and exploiting of lands from original inhabitants and the shallow notion of beauty and success. That's a lot to deliver in just over and hour while dressed in pink fur. It's funny, charming and very loud (both in terms of what you see and hear). Will the school groups who will flow through the doors of La Boite next week to see this co production love it? Do bears shit in the woods? The co-production between Campbelltown Arts Centre and Black Honey Company continues at La Boite until October 21.
Listen to our podcast here
**My specialist's words were "have a quiet weekend". Sitting in a theatre seat is no more strenuous than sitting on the couch, right?
Candy B, one of the shows creators as well as a performer, enjoys a laugh after the show
Nancy Denis, Candy Bowers. Production image by Dylan Evans.