Thursday, September 13, 2018

September 13. Day 257. Home is where the heart is

 Think about the things that mean the most to you.
Think about where many of those really significant things happened.
Think about where the people you most care about live. There's no place like home.
Your home isn't just the four walls and the roof. It's the emotional attachment we have to the place, not the things.
That was what Home at QPAC tonight was about. It was an extraordinary production where a house actually materialises on stage.
There was music, conjuring and audience interaction.
It was a production with incredible warmth, generosity and enormous creative flair.
It's so exciting to see productions different from anything you have ever seen before which is the beauty of the Brisbane Festival.
Exciting stuff.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September 12. Day 256. Keep it nice

What exactly would make you think that is okay?
Scenario 1. Pictured is Emma Mary Hall. She's a performer and her one woman show Ode to Man is on at The Brisbane Festival this week. It's a personal walk through of what she has learned about men through her failed relationships and associated research. In the show she reflects on an email from a venue manager who wondered if it was okay to ask how she justified a show with such a visceral hatred of men with taking one home that night. Um what? In what universe would a question like that be okay?
Scenario 2. Another performance space just across from where Emma performed. It was the two-man show Bali. A group of women come in late after the show is underway. It requires them to walk across the front of the stage. They are drunk. They talk loudly. One of the performers stops mid performance, steps forward and addresses them directly. He tells them he can hear every word. He tells them it is very distracting. He asks them to stop. They do - until about 20 minutes later when one gets up and walks out - again across the front of the stage. About five minutes later another one does the same.
This is never okay. It is rude. It is ignorant. It is disrespectful of the performers and the other audience members. This is a 60 minute show which presumably you paid for. What would make you think this is okay? What would be so urgent you had to leave? After the show I see them at the bar. I feel like saying something but my mother taught me that if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all. The world would be a better place if other people also learned some manners.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September 11. Day 255. Wishing and hoping

 It's weird isn't it, the things we tell complete strangers?
Popular culture will have us believe that for some reason sitting on a bar stool or in the hairdresser's chair is something akin to being in a confessional. Sure the bar has the added "incentive" of the notion of in wine truth. But the hairdresser? The smell of bleach has weird impacts on my sinuses but has never acted as a truth serum. Perhaps it is just being forced to sit still for a bit with someone in close proximity who appears willing and able to listen. In any event, the greater the emotional distance the easier it is to spill the beans - at least that's what I think. Tonight at the Theatre Republic - a precinct of the Brisbane Festival - I entered the House of Common Hopes. Here visitors were offered pieces of card and invited to write a hope and thread it to a strong hanging from the roof.
 As is the way with these things, there were a variety of responses to this invitation. Some people were obviously playing it for laughs. Others had taken a more deeply considered approach. One caught my eye "I hope I can one day come out ... 💛"
That is so sad. It should not be a thing that anyone can feel they can write that and hang it on a card for strangers to read and yet not tell people that matter.
We like to think it's progressed beyond that and for many people it probably has. But many people isn't everybody which probably only makes it worse for those who don't feel in a position to be honest with others.
Whoever you are I hope you can too.

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 10. Day 254. Laser vision

 For many Brisbane residents the Brisbane festival is a one night fireworks extravaganza. Forget the fact that the festival runs for three weeks involves something like 600 performances, 70 shows, 17 venues and 1000 artists.
I get it. There is something Bloody amazing about fireworks. But at the same time I don't get it. Of those 600 performances something like 100 are free. Come on people. This is the Brisbane Festival - it's for all of you not just the tragic arty types like myself. And even if bright colours exploding into life on the river is what floats your boat, there's more than one game in town this year. #CELEBRATEBRISBANE River of Light is a water and laser extravaganza that explodes on the river each night.  It's the story of the serpent that created the river which now snakes its way through the city. And it's one of the free events. It's 10 minutes of pure magic. No-one is too poor or too time poor for that.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

September 9. Day 253. Birthday girl

"How old is she?" I'm asked regularly when anyone meets Winkle. No-one can believe that my baby girl is three. Her tiny size is part of the issue but it's not just that. Winkle is still a puppy at heart. She is playful and mischievous. She has a winked grin and really looks like there should be a compartment somewhere to put the batteries.
That pint-sized Energizer Bunny has brought so much joy into our household. She is the perfect yin to Rumple's yang - seemingly opposite and contrary forces that are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent.
So it is only right that Lady Winkle must have a birthday party. This year we went to Margaret's aged care facility so she could join in the fun. A good time was had by all especially my little furry party animal.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

September 8. Day 252. Trivial pursuit

 Trivia nights are an exercise in contradiction. Why? Stay with me. Trivia has more than one meaning depending on its use.
It can mean trite, commonplace or unimportant. If that is the case whether or not you win or lose a trivia competition should surely be also trite or unimportant. Try telling that to the competitors. Today trivia, when paired with the word competition is a celebration of who can recall the most obscure or arcane fact under pressure. The facts may be unimportant, the competition is not. Rarely is the prize of any actual value but the bragging rights are priceless.
We may not be playing for sheep stations - no it's far more important than that.
Tonight we were at a Redland Rhapsody Choir trivia night to raise funds to send the singers south to a choral concert.
Money was raised. This is good. We didn't win. This is bad. I could say that it doesn't matter if you win or lose it's how you play that counts - but when it comes to trivia competitions everyone knows that is a big fat lie. The company was good. The result wasn't.

Friday, September 7, 2018

September 7. Day 251. Home sweet home. Part 2

Before pitching the idea of respite care to Margaret, I did a reconnaissance mission. I reported back. Of all the words that came out of my mouth there were three phrases that hit home
1. My dogs could come and visit
2. "Everyone" watches The Bold and the Beautiful in these facilities and
3. She could feed the birds. Now that the short stay has morphed into ongoing care, a bar fridge has been installed in her room and a stock of mince has been acquired.
It didn't take long for the birds to get the message. The magpies, noisy miners, butcher birds and crows are already at her fly by window. The bush turkeys gather at ground level. Only the kookaburras remain elusive. Given she has only been here three weeks and the meat safe installed for only a few days that's quite the achievement. It's clearly beginning to feel like home.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September 6. Day 250. Home sweet home. Part 1

 The business of packing up Margaret's home for sale has begun.
Fortunately, I get to do the easy bits. I've collected things she wants in the aged care facility and dropped them off. I've emptied the fridge and thrown away food and a few bits and bobs. I've let people in to collect things she's promised.
But for the most part I've left the really heavy lifting to her extended family. It's sad although everyone knows it is for the best - even Margaret.
She has always said she would be leaving the place in a box.
But after repeated hospital stays she accepted respite and now agrees the Lutwyche facility will be her new home.
Where once she sat at the window looking at the flowers planted by a neighbour, she now sits at a window looking at Kedron Brook. Her outlook may have changed but her daily routine not all that much and at least she will be well cared for.
She even has flowers picked from her garden in her new room as a connection between the old and the new.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September 5. Day 249. Taking off

I am involved in a new venture.
It's a newsroom trial involving a small group of students looking at a new way of combining teaching and practice as we move into a new degree next year.
It's starting to take shape. It's in equal measure exhausting and exciting.
One minute I thin "we've got this" we are soaring" and then I fear a crash landing. But I keep reminding myself that this isn't necessarily about getting everything right. Crashing and burning is okay as long as you hose yourself off and get airborne again. At least I think so.
There's no room for negative self talk here.
Honest reflection is okay but my habit of catastrophic thinking is probably definitely unhelpful.
If nothing else it will give me something to write about, tweet about, blog about, podcast about or generally get out of my system on every channel known to man.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September 4. Day 248. If you build it

 Field of Dreams was not only a seriously awful movie (apparently only according to me) but it was Fake News. It is not true that "if you build it, they will come".  The Kelvin Grove Urban Village where I work is a fine case in point. I'm pretty sure that of all the original tenants in the Village Centre only two remain - the chemist and the fish and chip shop. They built the centre promising a place for dreams for investors and affluent empty nesters. What they got was a whole lot of students more interested in Subway than in vintage wine. One after one the original shops have closed. Some have had multiple tenants over the years. Dreams turned to nightmares for some of the shop owners. Some construction, however, is only meant to be temporary. The Theatre Republic as part of the Brisbane Festival is under construction for another year. It's the home of the smaller, more niche more experimental end of the festival theatre and it's my kind of republic. Right now its all high vis but give it a few days and they WILL come.

Monday, September 3, 2018

September 3. Day 247. Waltzing Matilda

 "Are you EVER home?" a friend on Twitter asked me recently. Truthfully, much less often than normal people.
Sometimes a night on the couch seems like a very attractive option but for me sitting in a comfy seat in a cinema or theatre takes about the same effort as plonking in front of the TV and the rewards are usually far greater. 
As a reviewer I can afford myself that luxury.
Tonight was a networking event organised by the Matilda Awards committee.
For those not up with the industry, the Matilda Awards celebrate the Queensland Theatre industry and this year I'm on the judging panel. That meant another night on the town.
That meant another night catching up on Survivor later.
But am I complaining? No, I am not.
It was a chance to mingle with theatre-loving folk, drink wine and eat rather delicious canapes.
That's worth sacrificing a night on the couch in anyone's language.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2. Day 246. Happy Father's Day

According to the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths , we have only one child. Lies, lies and damn statistics. Charles' three children - the human and the canine - all joined in a Father's Day breakfast this morning. 
Charles' loves a good breakfast fry up. 
The fur "children" just love a chance to get into a cafe. 
The two-legged child also has the advantage of being allowed into a cinema so had the privilege of also taking dad to a movie screening. 
Charles' exercised his right to fall asleep in said movie as he has done so many times before, as fathers across the globe do when taken to a Disney movie. And I got to enjoy my family doing family things, so we were winning all around.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

September 1. Day 245. Best foot forward

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where them birdies is
It's a silly little rhyme attributed to Ogden Nash which my father was fond of reciting.
Spring may be the time of new life, grass and birds but it is equally the time where boots and long pants are exchanged for sandals and shorts.
So rather than thinking about birds and bees I find myself thinking about hairy legs and hideous toe nails.
I panic - not yet enough to start felling the forestation of the legs. Let's start at the bottom and work our way up. That means the urgent services of  a woman with a hot foot bath, the equivalent of a cheese grater to remove dead skin and a new colour. This makeover happened while the colour was being applied to my hair. So now we only have to get to the mountain of jobs in between.

Friday, August 31, 2018

August 31. Day 244. Dog day afternoon

There is absolutely no doubt that if there was a competition between myself and my dogs to find our way home the dogs would win. They have a nose for that sort of thing. Until recently those noses would lead them to Margaret's any chance they go. These days they have to be driven there but as soon as the car is in the underground carpark they are poised and ready. They charge from car to lift and from the lift make a beeline through the lounge and dining room, along the corridors and to her room. More often than not they are on her bed or her lap before I have a chance to shut the door. Today we decided it was time not only for the dogs to have a walk but Margaret as well. We pushed in the wheelchair the very short distance to the off leash area and she cheered the dogs on as they chased ball, chased each other and went for a swim.
It was a damn fine use of our time.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August 30. Day 243. Knock him off his perch

Australian politics, you've done it again. This week has proven, as if any proof was still required, that the bullies are alive and well. Sit on a high perch for long enough and someone is ready, willing and able to have a go at knocking you off. And they won't just try once. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And even then don't give up. Wait a bit. Regroup and have another go. Perhaps it's just nature. Perhaps it's just another example of survival of the fittest. In any event I saw another example today in the avian world. The laugh of the kookaburra alerted me. I looked up and realised it was an anxious laugh, perhaps a warning laugh. Either way, neither noise nor size or the fact that it was outnumbered was enough to halt the noisy miner. The kookaburras had a position it wanted and it was leaving no stone unturned to get it. At first it tried staring them down and when that failed bomb diving. Verbal and physical threats seem to be the tactics, or so I've heard. And to think my mother says I should consider politics. Thanks but no thanks, the one thing I don't want to do is invite conflict into my life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

August 29. Day 242. Chasing the sun

It's weird really. From the time I was about five, Kedron Brook was part of my life. My family house is just up the hill overlooking the brooks flood plain. I couldn't count the number of times I've watched the park in flood and the road blocked. Of course, now I live on the other side of town in a move that it decidedly not "Brisbane". Yet all roads, or in this case creeks, take you home. Margaret's nursing home window overlooks the dog off leash area that runs along Kedron Brook just a small way upstream from my mum's. My dogs love that off  leash area so today we combined a visit and a run (I didn't run, obviously). From her vantage point by the window, Margaret watched and waved. Everyone seemed to feel like we were right at home. But then I saw the turtle. In all the years I've paddled in that brook, walked along the brook, taken dogs for swims in that brook I've never seen a turtle.  It was just sitting on the edge of the brook. Like the rest of us it was just chasing a bit of sun on a winter's day. Not that the dogs noticed. Their interest was as it has always been chasing each other like mad creatures then cooling off in the brook.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August 28. Day 241. Droning on

Many years ago, shortly after receiving an epilepsy diagnosis, my son learned he would never be a pilot. He said he was devastated. He said he's always wanted to fly planes. Um. No. He's never expressed any such desire. I'm pretty sure he was articulating the words performer as he travelled down the birth canal.  Just the same, being told you can't do something is in its own way devastating. Today I came to an equally shattering revelation. I will never fly a drone. In a lecture I had unkindly called Droning On, my colleague TJ discussed the mechanics of commercial drone piloting. He talked about yaw,  rolling and pitching. My head not the drone started to spin. I was the girl who couldn't get the basics of ballroom dancing because left, left, left, right, left was too hard. When giving directions, I will often say "turn left". Pause "No not that left. The other left". I'm tragically directionally challenged. And now I also have to face facts that I will never be a drone pilot. Life can be so unkind.

Monday, August 27, 2018

August 27. Day 240. Fashionably late

I wouldn't call it a hierarchy as such but not all Creative Industries students are created equal. In fact, as often as not, you can identify the different cohorts a mile off. The dancers have a particular way of holding their bodies and walking.  The actors have voices that project across the parade ground and the fashions students are, well, fashionable. These kids don't dress in things that look like they have come off a shelf, any shelf. I walk by the fashions studios on my way from my lecture to my tute on a Monday. I'm always running late. Today I was running late but I stopped to watch. The students had spilled out of the studios and were congregating outside. Some were engaging in some sort of photo shoot but in one corner was a girl with her glitter. I stopped to talk. She was a second year student working on an assignment. The brief was to upcycle. They had to make three old garments new again. A denim jacked was receiving glitter frills. A black T Shirt had been fabric embossed and flowers were being stitched on a white singlet. These were not garments you buy in a shop. These were individual. These were personal. These were items decorated by hand in a society where just about everything is mass produced in China. This was not just giving the old clothes a longer life, this was giving them a better life. I rather suspect that in a time-is-money world, these are not items that would be very profitable but that's not the point. The point of these items is their individuality. And this is why fashion students stand out. They let their clothes do the talking.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

August 26 Day 239. Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.

Madness. Madness I tell you. Why would you go and see Hamlet and complain loudly and drunkenly about the language? "Why can't they just speak English for God's sake?" They were speaking English. Shakespearean English. You'd think if you had bought tickets to Hamlet that might be a concept you were vaguely familiar with. For the record, these were not school kids having been dragged along knowing they would be forced to write an assignment on the relevance of Shakespeare in contemporary society. This pair of women appeared to be paying customers there of their own free will. Well they were until intermission. They spent the first act filling large mugs with wine from a bottle in a bag. Then they left, much to the relief of all of us sitting in the same row who had endured their comments. Though this be madness. there is no method in it. None at all. It's insanely rude. Get thee to a nunnery, I say.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

August 25. Day 238. A candle in the wind

What party animals we are. And here I am talking about just the actual animals with four legs. There was a gathering  at my sister Lisa's house for the August birthdays this evening. That meant lots and lots of humans and four dogs. The humans ate hotdogs with toppings from all over the world and cake. We played games. We discussed The Bachelor. The dogs, however, had different ideas of how to party. Rumple and Winkle competed for space on my lap. Shadow decided it would be a whole lot of fun to hump me - often. Yes, I really do have amazing animal magnetism. The Fed ate a whole bowl of coleslaw. We gave Mum a hose for her birthday. Just the usual stuff really. But mostly we all just chilled and discussed plans for a big family holiday at some point. Someone said "what about the dogs?". That may have been me.

Friday, August 24, 2018

August 24. Day 237. Sing. Sing a song

 My mother used to work as a physio in aged care. Some times, on the holidays, we would go with her on her rounds. It was torturous. They smelt terrible. They looked terrible and they sounded terrible, especially when it was "entertainment hour".  My siblings and I would joke about the horror of the songs they were singing along to. It always seemed as though it was If you Knew Suzy and/or Bye, Bye Blackbird. We cringed and hoped never to be sentenced to an institution. Mum would joke that by the time we were old enough, the play list would probably include Depeche Mode's I Just Can't Get Enough. Today all that flooded back as I visited Margaret at the nursing home where she is in respite. It was happy hour. There were fruit and cheese platters. Wine and beer was being served. Nothing smelled of wee or disinfectant. This is a whole new world. I can confirm that the song list has moved forward by a decade or three. I can also confirm that I Just Can't Get Enough was not performed today. It was very pleasant in the cocktail lounge on a Friday afternoon. Well so I thought. Margaret said it was "rowdy" and she never wanted to experience another happy hour. I can only imagine what she would have made of Depeche Mode.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

August 23. Day 236. Little boy blue

Traditions are important. On haircut days the dogs always go and visit Margaret to show off their new styles. We could not let the small technical fact that she is presently in respite influence that fact. If the mountain will not come to Muhummad then Muhammad must go to the mountain as they say in the classics. I'm not sure Margaret would appreciate being called a mountain any more than my dogs would appreciate being called Muhummad but I digress. We went to Lutwyche. The dogs are already familiar with the drill. They know the room they are after and they charge there. Margaret is in her big recliner chair by the window just as she is in her chair by the window at home. The dogs jump on her lap just as they do at home. She giggles like a girl just as she does at home.  Everything was pretty much the same, just as it should be.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

August 22. Day 235. A dog of a day

Let's face it, my job isn't rocket science. I take it seriously and like to think there is a lot of value in mentoring the students I come into contact with. But if there's a "bad day at the office" it probably means an overly long meeting, too much marking or an interaction with someone who is less than polite. These things can weigh you down. Crisis management in my industry thankfully mostly isn't. But today I took Rumple to visit my friend and his vet Dr Megan. He just needed his dental work checked. Her day had included treating a dog who had ingested rat poison and carrying out an emergency Cesarean and hysterectomy. She was still stitching when we arrived but I was allowed out the back. Naturally I asked to watch. It made me realise once again that even on a bad day, no blood is spilled  because a form is lost or a spreadsheet doesn't add up. The again, I never got to deliver puppies either. Swings and roundabouts people.