Monday, April 30, 2018

April 30. Day 120. The birds and the bees

 Brisbane tunnels might not be the most popular infrastructure ever built but I'm a bit of a fan. This morning the dogs had vet appointments at Northgate which meant driving across town just after peak hour. It could have been a nightmare. It wasn't. The trip avoided just about every other car on the road and the dogs and I were there in 20 minutes. We took a longer road back. Without any time pressure there was no need for tolls plus the scenic route meant we found ourselves right near the dog off leash area at Kedron Brook. The dogs love Kedron Brook. A walk in the sun watching dogs frolicking at the start of what will be a very long work week seemed like a fine plan. It was - pretty much just what the vet ordered...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

April 29. Day 119. Hey, that's private

 Privacy used to be this thing we treasured and protected fiercely. Not so much any more. Actually, it's weird. Big organisations all have privacy policies and use them as a reason not to tell you anything about anything. Some of it is very valid and legitimate. Some of it gets quite ridiculous. And while the big end of town is tightening privacy rules at the ground level there's almost no such thing as a private life. Everything, and I mean everything, can be tweeted about, or made the subject of a Facebook post or captured for Instagram or whatever social media you prefer. Such was the topic for Polytoxic's Privacy Settings at Flowstate at Southbank tonight. It was an intriguing little production incorporating projections, light, amazing music and choreographed movement and dance theatre in a way I'd never quite seen before.
My take on it - and I could be quite wrong because it was a pretty open work - was that we have become a mere screen for projections of the views of others.  We are but receptors and creators of carefully orchestrated versions or reality dancing in synchronised formation for maximum impact in the social media world. And the result is a sort of white noise and blare of the cameras and a world were reality if what is stored in the cloud. At least that's what I got out of it. Regardless of whether I'm right or wrong I found it to be 30 minutes of fascinating viewing. Set your privacy settings as you will but there's really no escaping the burning white light of public scrutiny in today's society.
So I gave the production 4.5 out of 5 stars. Drama Being was far, far less impressed. He gave it a mere 2. You can listen to our review here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

April 28. Day 118. In too deep

Movie session times with a nine at the start and an am at the end are not a concept I generally recognise. Indeed, it's been decades since I've done such a thing. Nine. Sure but always the other nine. The one after noon. But Isle of Dogs is reaching the end of its season and I wanted to see it. The screening times are both limited and inconvenient. So we went a brunch time. But I came out into the noon day sun in  a state more confused than I went in. Here's the thing, Isle of Dogs is notionally about dogs banished to an island of garbage because of dog flu and snout fever. But the stop motion Wes Anderson animation is just as much about displaced people and ethnic cleansing. It's charming, funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. Arguably you can get away with more when you make it about dogs. For me, however, a tale about banishing family pets because it becomes politically expedient to do so sends me into a bit of a flap. This is, of course, why it is effective. It hits home. You can make it funny and absurd in a way  human story can't do. I loved it even before 10am.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

April 27. Day 117. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

 I went to Sandgate today with Margaret. It's a place of many, many childhood and early adult memories because my mum owned a physiotherapy practice in the suburb. We spent a lot of time there in the school holidays back in an era when it was still okay for kids to walk up to the pool unattended, cool off and walk back.
As such I have a fondness. It always surprises me how much has changed and also how little. The post office is now a flash pub but Russell's Fabrics in the main drag still sells haberdashery just as it has for 60 plus years. We scored a street park right out in front and Margaret bought wool in every colour of the rainbow for the beanies she knits for premmie babies at the Mater. Then it was fish and chips for lunch on the foreshore. It was a lovely day for it. The tide was out and the sun was shining and once again there were car parks right where we needed to be. The scenic trip on the way home showed Margaret some bits of Brisbane she hadn't seen for a while. As a former northsider I know all the back roads. She likes to fill the drive with memories.

April 26. Day 116. Stop and smell the flowers

You know that thing about giving yourself time to stop and smell the flowers? To that I say "I would if I could".
There are a couple of limitations. 1. Allergies. Some flowers I'm much better off not smelling unless chronic sneezing and wheezing is preferable to a commitment I'm trying to avoid.
And 2. Time. Some things can't be avoided no matter how much sneezing and wheezing you do. These things include marking, marking and marking. Things such as laundry, grocery shopping and cooking are unavoidable but can be outsourced.  At this part of semester time and marking stand still for no man or woman.
As these photos reveal ... I did see the sun but only just. I walked outside between commitments and papers, lifted the camera, hit the button a few times and walked back in.
If I had the time to worry about it I would. Perhaps when semester is over and I stop to smell the flowers ...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April 25. Day 115. I know what you did

Does it count that my intentions were good ?
I intended to go to the dawn service or if worst came to worst the march. I was also fully committed to attending a special Anzac Day performance of Girls in Grey, a play about the nurses who attended to the dead and dying in World War I. I achieved not one of these things. In fact, I barely managed to get out of bed. I walked only the few steps between my house and my neighbour's house. I was really, really tired and really, really flat. I needed the day to regroup. Some times you have to listen to your body and mine was shouting "stop right now". Who am I to argue with such an expert source?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April 24. Day 114. Wouldn't have a Cluedo

I love Cluedo. It's one of those board games that has a couple of very distinct advantages. 1. It doesn't take much to master
2. It doesn't take hours to play
3. There's just enough strategy and
4. It's the right balance of luck and skill
It is also the sort of game that even a competitive games family such as mine manages to play without too much name calling or cheating. That's quite a result. So we were very happy to accept an invitation to Cluedo the Interactive Game.
All the characters were there: Miss Scarlett, Reverend Green, Col Mustard, Mrs White, Professor Plum and Mrs Peacock as well as Dr Black. Everyone got into the spirit. Some guests also got into a few too many spirits which didn't much enhance their problem solving abilities but you get that. It was set in 1934 and all the characters were dressed to match. A jazz band played. It was all fun and games until someone got hurt ... by which I mean Dr Black was murdered.
Then we had to solve the crime using the best Cluedo approach of elimination. Our team - the purples - got there but we were too slow. Still, a good night was had by all.

Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23. Day 113. Pacific paradise

I heard them long before I saw them. Lour music was blaring from G Block as I rushed up the hill to give . lecture. A couple of years ago music and dance was ever present in that building. It was the dance studio and classical music and leotards and ballet flats were always on display. But when the Creative Industries stage 2 opened the home of dance moved and that building has largely been silenced. Not today.  Today the room was dancing to a different beat but I was late.I agreed with myself that I would call in on my way back if the dancers were still there. Technically they were but they were on a break and eating pizza. But Amber Moko not only agreed to tell me about The QUT Pasifika Association  but also to cut short her pizza break and dance. The cultural group have a performance tomorrow and were rehearsing. They were awesome and watching and chatting was a quite excellent way of waiting for the rain to clear. I've said it before and I'll say it again. You never know what you'll seem around campus. To borrow from the tourism slogan: QUT cultural one day. Crazy the next.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22. Day 112. These boots are made for throwing

 I don't understand the shoe throwing thing. I don't understand it because shoes are expensive. but I mostly don't understand it because I have no idea how people manage to throw shoes that high.
I have images of people standing in the middle of the street repeatedly hurling footwear skywards. I assume this happens in the middle of the night and probably after a drink or 10. I assume this because I've never seen it happen but more because Margaret, my neighbour, has never mentioned it.
Margaret is the one on whom nothing is lost. She sees everything. She makes a note of everything.
She will tell me about the times of deliveries.
She tells me about who forced the gates at the unit block or which dog in the street escaped and who chased it.
Street watching is one of her things. She is also a great list maker.
She has lists of what meals are coming from meals from Meals on Wheels on any day because it is on her list.
She knows what day every bill is paid and can chart the increases in the cost of electricity over the years.
She's quite a character and even though I visit her almost every day she never ceases to surprise me.
And of course the dogs love their visits and she loves seeing them.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21. Day 111. Bewitched

One of my fondest memories of Roald Dahl's The Witches dates back about 15 years and involves my late uncle Eric.
Eric was a nuclear physicist and had the sort of serious demeanour to match.
But we were sitting in my mother's living room and then five-year-old Oliver had Eric reading the Roald Dahl's classic.
They were both pissing themselves... In fact Eric continued to read and laugh well after Oliver had left the room. Oliver was a huge fan of The Witches. I think we might still have a laminated poster of Quentin Blake's illustrated guide of how to recognise a witch. He used it in a prop in an oral presentation in about Year 1. It proved his teacher was not a witch. I still know the signs.

  1. They always wear gloves because witches have claws not fingernails
  2. Witches have no toes
  3. Witches are bald and always wear wigs
  4. Wig rash causes a terrible itch and as a result witches scratch their heads a lot
  5. Witches have blue spit
  6. Witches have large nose holes to sniff out children.They hate children.
  7. Children smell like fresh dog droppings to witches.

There are some regional variations in witches which Dahl acknowledges in his book. This makes me wonder about Australian witches as I am reasonably sure I have encountered one or two at staff meetings over the years who don't quite fit these parameters. I digress.
So anyway, as big fans of Roald Dahl in general and The Witches in particular Oliver and I decided we needed to embrace our inner child and head to Arts Theatre this afternoon. The fact that a uni mate of O's had been cast as a witch sealed the deal.
It's not an easy task to turn a boy into a mouse on stage. It's also not easy to make an adult frizzle like a fritter but they did it. They also did it in a way that found the humour not just the stuff that would give the children in the audience nightmares. There was much laughter. My Uncle Eric would have approved.

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20. Day 110. Raining in my heart

I've decided crows are not very bright. 
Indeed, I may have just found the one true proof that puts my intelligence level about those murderous road rats.
I choose to ignore the fact that crows can lure other birds to crash into buildings to stun and eat them or rub ants on their skin for the formic acid that will ward off parasites. 
This is cherry picking facts to suit my argument like the best of them.
So anyway, there was this hideous downpour on Wednesday and the forecast was rain through to the weekend.
Like the good little girl scout I never was, I realised that would cause trouble.
I'd agreed to take Margaret to the solicitor today and her slow wheelie walker amble would be pretty much impossible in the rain. So we postponed ... and this morning was bright sunshine. But then, around appointment time, there was thunder and lightning and bucketing rain. Round one to Susan. And what did the crows do during this? They sat in possibly the most exposed spot in the street. All the other birds had found shelter but not the crows. See stupid or fans of dancing in the rain. Confirmation bias demands I accept the former.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19. Day 109. A cut above

Is it wrong that I miss the dogs when they are out of the house getting their haircuts? Don't answer that. I know already. It's perfectly acceptable. In truth the answer is a little more complicated. Today was marking, marking and more marking. Marking does my head in. I like to voice my dissatisfaction out loud about every little misdemeanour.  I like an audience but no-one wants to hear a person rant about tenses not agreeing or an inability to punctuate quotes. So I tell the dogs. If they could speak they would be terribly knowledgeable about exactly where to position a comma in a direct quote. It drives me barking mad. So I was left telling myself. The dogs don't much like getting their haircut. They like the treats they always get from Margaret when they return. They like being back in my company. They don't even seem to mind that the discussion is about the over use of first person ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April 18. Day 108. Lacking passion

Our visitors left today. I enjoyed having them around.
We all did, even the dogs who liked the attention and increased possibilities for hunting down and stealing people's smalls.
 I enjoyed a reason to play tourist in my own town but it was time for them to leave by which I mean a massive pile of marking arrived in my virtual inbox at midnight.
As anyone who knows me knows, I hate marking. It sucks but I had steeled myself and I was ready.
And then the online submission site failed. It was down nearly all day. I seriously do not have time for this. I need to procrastinate of my own free will and not because of outside forces. I sulked. It rained.
I sulked some more and then decided the only thing for it was to nap to give me the mental fortitude to mark non stop for days as soon as BlackBoard decides to grace us with its presence. I'm pretty sure you can't front load sleep but I gave it a go in any case. Curse you technology.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April 17. Day 107. Best foot forward

When you holiday in a different city, you tend to spend a lot of time on foot.
So it has been for our visitors. They've covered a lot of ground in two weeks. From Byron Bay to Bribie they've visited beaches and mountains. They've fed dolphins at Tangalooma and kangaroos and rainbow lorikeets at Lone Pine. Closer to (my) home we've taken them to check out the view from Mount Coot-tha and the facilities at the University of Queensland. South Bank, the Botanic Gardens and Roma Street Station have all been ticked off.
But there was one thing  wasn't aware needed to be on an English visitors' guide to Brisbane - the nail salon. I learned today that while we may have nail salons breeding like rabbits it's not such a thing in Cornwall. Massage chairs, rows of vanishes and cheese grater style dead skin removers are not common place. They'd been told they needed a pedicure and I was happy to facilitate. After all that walking, it seemed only fair. And after that it was back on foot for a stroll with the dogs along the Kangaroo Point cliffs.

Monday, April 16, 2018

April 16. Day 106. Food for thought

When you are on a diet - as I am - everything starts to look delicious. And food becomes an obsession.
I feel like I could sniff a slice of bacon from the next suburb. But I have nothing on the birds of prey. Today we decided we needed to take our English visitors to "the" Brisbane tourist experience. We went to Lone Pine.
Naturally the kangaroos and koalas were high on the list of things to see. They did not disappoint, But the surprise packages were the birds. We arrived at lorikeet feeding time. The loris arrived on call and landed both on the feeding plates and our visitors' heads. Then it was time for the raptor show. These guys are amazing.  The right thing to do may be to look away when rodents are being demolished whole. Not happening. This is action I had no intention of missing. It was a feast for sore eyes. Everyone was impressed, except for the rodents .....

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 15. Day 105. A song in my heart

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long have we tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in the wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
'Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
 The moon,
 The moon,
 They danced by the light of the moon....

We know the story.  The Edward Lear poem is a childhood favourite which makes it pretty much perfect for adaptation for a stage production for children. Turning it into an opera is unexpected. But it was a triumph. Let's be honest, I'm not quite in the target audience which was set at aged 4-10. So I conscripted four-year-old Molly to be my plus one. The thing about small children is that they don't lie. They like it or they don't. If they don't they squirm, they talk. They need food or a loo break. There was none of that today. The kids were rooting for the owl and the pussycat. They cheered. They danced. They waved their hands in the air like stars. They loved it. I'm a big fan of getting kids into the theatre and as introductions go, this was as good as any.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

April 14. Day 104. Witch hunt

Witches. We don't believe in them any more. Witch hunts, however, those are very, very real. This is why Arthur Miller's The Crucible is still relevant. Of course, it was never about actual witches. When Miller wrote it the witch hunt was about McCarthyism and communism. Today there are witches under every bed ... social media can lead to people being hunted down for the slightest crime. You need no judge or jury. Just hysteria. This is why I really enjoyed Brisbane Arts Theatre's The Crucible tonight. The surface didn't need much scratching to see what was below.
I also liked the costumed bloke at the box office and eating a bag of chips at intermission. The sign said it all "Doon wi' this sort of ting". Ignorance ... and it can be applied to any situation. You don't even need to update it for the next  outrage. Perfect.

Friday, April 13, 2018

April 13. Day 103. They are a weird mob

There is batshit crazy fauna and flora in our part of the world.
It's no wonder people from other parts think Australia is weird.
I took our English visitors back across to the University of Queensland today partly because one of the group is considering studying in Australia but mostly because it's a place I like to take the dogs for a walk.
So then we encounter the sausage trees. I think sausage is a rather kind comparison - I think genitals.
Perhaps that makes me a bad person.
You have to say they are impressive but while we were looking at them we noticed first one and then more cockatoos feeding on the pods. Bonus.
Total bonus.
And then there was the Australian pelican.
You don't get those in the UK.
Certainly that's worth a walk.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April 12. Day 102. Butterflies in my stomach

I've been feeling anxious of late. A combination of things and nothings, perhaps due to another health question mark, has me feeling a little "butterflies in the stomach" and low.
If I'm honest, the very last thing I needed today was a whole day of mental health first aid training. It was interesting enough and a good chance to just sit and think but not my dream activity.
But spending seven hours talking anxiety, depression and psychosis rather focuses the energy on an area I'm trying to avoid.
But it's done now and out of the way for the next three years.
And we were given a lunch hour to clear our heads.
I moved the car, walked the grounds for a bit and took photos.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April 11. Day 101. A, Bee, C

You'll only feel a small sting. I'm back on regular blood tests which is really, really irritating. I have no problem with the tests themselves. I'm way past being squeamish. Indeed the pathologist says I am the only person she has ever encountered who takes photos of needles in my arm.
But having to turn up for tests again is bloody annoying. Pesky liver enzymes are playing up again and my specialist says that means blood tests. And to make me feel really shit, I've also been ordered to submit to a stool sample. Yuk, yuk, yuk. The good news is that while the liver enzymes are nowhere near as bad as during the height of last year's hepatitis.
The bad news that they are heading up and for no apparent reason. Poo, bum, wee.
It could be just a strange anomaly. Only time will tell.