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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

August 21. Day 234. Be yourself

Thank you Donald Trump for drawing faking it into the public consciousness.  Yes, there have always been fakers, fraudsters and phonies but let's face it, social media has allowed such activities to become a sport.
And in the short term you can probably get away with it. Eventually, however, you will get caught out. There are no short cuts, my friend and Supreme Influencer Nikki Parkinson told students today.
 Sure you can buy "friends" in the Facebook sense or Instagram followers but money won't buy you love. The only thing you have that is different from everyone else in a crowded media space is you. That is your unique selling point. That is the one thing you need to capitalise in. Be yourself and develop that brand you. Employers will search you. Make sure they like what they see. You tell 'em Nikki.

Monday, August 20, 2018

August 20. Day 233. For lovers and dreamers and me

Yve Blake goes all Fan Girl
I'm relatively sure that when Queensland Theatre artistic director Sam Strong was putting together the 2019 season his inspiration did not come from Kermit the Frog. And yet that's where my mind went at the launch at Rydges Hotel tonight. Specifically, the song Rainbow Connection was in my head.
"Some day we'll find it, the rainbow connection for lovers and dreamers and me".
The fact that the slogan for the season is "A Season of Dreamers" probably formed the (rainbow) connection in my brain. But it wasn't just that. When Sam took to the podium to announce the season he talked about a uniting theme of optimism even when the situation is not sunshine and rainbows.  It is a season about lovers in its own way. Fangirls by Yve Blake is about "A poorly understood force of nature" the teenage girl and just how far that girl will go in the pursuit of love, the unrequited love of the boy band lead singer.
Joanna Murray-Smith brings out my inner fan girl
Storm Boy, based on the beloved novel of the same name, is a story about a boy and pelicans. As every Australian of my generation knows it about love loss and letting go. It's bring a large case of Kleenex stuff.
And Joanna Murray-Smith's L'Appartment takes an Aussie couple of the city of love Paris to reconnect three years after the birth of twins. Joanna is one of Australia's smartest play writers and I can't wait to see what she achieves on her directorial debut.
We'll also see City of Gold which author Meyne Wyatt told the crowd would "piss some people off". Excellent. We love a bit of political incendiary. Throw in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, one of the greatest plays of all time, Hydra, a true love story about the writing of My Brother Jack  and a modern adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone and you really do have a season full of possibilities and excitement. I love it. Yes, Sam Strong has programmed a 2019 season for lovers, for dreamers and me....
You can hear Oliver and I discuss the 2019 season here.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

August 19. Day 232. Lights, camera, action

Generally they don't let me too close to expensive pieces of kit. This may be because of my complete refusal to read manuals. It may also be because I am criminally awkward and tend to drop things. Or in this instance more likely because I have a face for radio. Whatever the reason, it being Sunday, Today I found myself in the TV studio with a keen group of high school students. It was a high school experience day where students with an interest in studying Communication at QUT were invited in to have a look. We put them on the TV news set and had a small play with the green screen dropping them into Brisbane which is kind of ironic because we are in Brisbane. I called the session Green with Envy on account of the green screen but actually it was the other staff who were really envious of what was hiding behind the those studio doors. We let them have a go too. Never to old to learn. Certainly never to old to play.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

August 18. Day 231. Home, sweet away from home

 It was the morning after the night before. I fully expected there may be a "hangover" of sorts.  It would not have surprised me if there was regret. But no. It was as sweet as could be hoped for when the dogs and I rocked up at respite to see Margaret.  We joined the other residents - all four of them - for morning tea. Because the centre is brand spanking new it is mostly empty and on the weekend without admin and support staff it feels it. The silence is deafening. But it did give us a chance to meet everyone and hear their stories over scones and tea. Then we sat on one of the large shaded decks and laughed at the use of broccoli as a styling material. Margaret hates broccoli. She read somewhere that it can "give you the runs" so she normally throws it out the window for the birds. Today the birds had to be content with Cornflakes. They didn't seem to care She seems to be settling in nicely.

Friday, August 17, 2018

August 17. Day 230. Happiness is ....

If I'm honest I never thought I'd see what I saw today. I was sitting in the foyer of a nursing home when in came Margaret beaming from ear to ear. She was sitting on a gurney being wheeled by paramedics. She looked a cross between Queen Cleopatra being hoisted on a litter by slaves and the occupant of The Pope Mobile.  "Welcome Margaret," the staff on parade said. She beamed even louder. The she saw me and the dogs and cooed louder.  The grinning didn't fade as we walked through the centre until we reached the room which will be hers for respite for the next two weeks. I'd arrived early and brought in a few of her things so it felt like a home away from home. The dogs did their bit. As soon as the door was closed and they were off their leash they were on her lap and then on the bed, on the tartan rug from home.  It was a beautiful thing, especially considering how adamant she had been that she was never going into care, even for respite.  I really hope she loves it. Who knows, she may never want to leave.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

August 16. Day 229. Let sleeping dogs ...

It's doubtless creepy and slightly stalker behaviour but I'd love to install a spy camera in my home to see what the dogs get up to when we are out.
I suppose it could be all Toy Story and the second we leave the room they come to life and perform tricks or speak in tongues or something. Anything is possible but my guess is they just lie around a lot. There's little evidence of much action when we are out. But when I drive in there's a flurry of activity and a pattern of behaviour. First they scratch at the garage door desperate to make contact. Then there's a quick attempt to knock me from my feet  after which they charge down the hall and out the back door into the garden. The doggy door allows them access to the yard day and night but they seem to like to hold the wee in until we get home. Another quick charge at the humans is followed by a wrestle session. For some reason, the appearance of humans seems to trigger a need in Winkle to jump all over Rumple and wrestle him to the ground. There might be a quick game of chase and a beg for food and after that they find a spot close by me and sleep. I'd love to know what they are thinking but until technology improves just knowing what they are doing when I'm not around to see might be enough. Or perhaps just knowing they are pleased to see me is all I need and I should just let sleeping dogs lie.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

August 15. Day 228. Passing inspection

Exhibition Wednesday. This is the most random of public holidays devoted to eating Dagwood dogs and strawberry sundaes.
But I've already been there, done that this year.
Plus I had other things on the agenda.
Today, I had to process some paperwork at a new nursing home to allow Margaret to have a couple of weeks respite.
She was, unsurprisingly, a reluctant starter.
But there were things to sweeten the deal. One of the big selling points was that dogs can visit.
Today Rumple an Winkle became the first canine visitors at the centre. I presented their vaccination certificates at the desk and we were granted admission. After the forms were signed, we went and met the first three residents. They were so pleased. The dogs were their usual charming selves. We promised to return and we will.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

August 14. Day 227. Winners are grinners

 I love My Fair Lady. Bizarrely, I also consider it horribly flawed in many ways for exactly the same reasons. Henry Higgins in an emotionally stunted, ego centric arse of a man. Eliza is far too good for him and yet we applaud when she returns. In the Golden Age of musicals it had to be and there's a great nostalgia in that. But the source text, George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion may pre-date MFL by 51 years but it is much more modern in its thinking. In any case, in the #metoo world accepting that kind of emotional bastard is not a thing. So I greatly enjoyed Pygmalion by the final year QUT acting students tonight. With the help with some technical wizardry in the light, sound and AV department, this version showed just how contemporary this story is in its own way. I loved it immensely. This is not just a story about Eliza and Henry. In fact, I have always loved Mrs Higgins, Alfred P Doolittle and Col Pickering.  These are the big characters in a tale of really big characters. I couldn't help but smile when after the performance our Mrs Higgins Maeve Hook  took out the Jennifer Blocksridge memorial award for a final year student. She was great. And as they say in the classics - winners are grinners... that may not have been George Bernard Shaw.

Monday, August 13, 2018

August 13. Day 226. Sweet as

I'm a second generation chocolate criminal. My mother took to it at a young age stealing a Cherry Ripe from her family shop and smuggling it out in her undies. What devious criminality. Perhaps I'm worse. No, I did not steal candy from a baby. I took it from an aged pensioner. Shame. Last week, I was at a new aged care facility checking things out on Margaret's behalf. The info bag included a box of four chocolates. I handed over the info and told her about the goodies. After a chat, I gathered up my stuff and left. Naturally, when I found the chocolates later I ate them. Today, that came back to bite me. We were discussing respite with an Aged Care Assessment Team member. The controversial matter of the chocolates resurfaced. I'd seen the respite centre, Margaret said. Been there, done that, eaten the chocolates. "She ate them all," Margaret said. "She's supposed to be on a diet. No wonder she can't lose any weight." Sick burn. I guess I deserved it ... and the chocolates made it all worthwhile.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

August 12. Day 225. Show Time!

 I'm old. Yes, I do have to state the bleedingly obvious as it happens because I work in an industry where every assessment requires a criteria. So here is the official criteria for what an old person would do at the Ekka as opposed to someone not aged-challenged. A young person spends a good part of the day and the equivalent of the deposit on a house on rides in sideshow alley. An old person stops in sideshow alley only long enough to talk to the beefed up firemen selling calendars. Young people don't use calendars. That's why god invented phones. Old people give up after one dagwood dog. Old people spend more time looking at cakes than they do in the Cattlemen's Bar. Old people watch cooking demonstrations and eat free food samples in the Woolworths pavilion. They are home before the young people arrive for the night time activities. Young people buy silly wigs and glasses and hats. The only accessories bought for old people are for their dogs.  Yep, I'm old. So old I ate a strawberry and not a sundae. So old I had to head home for a nap mid afternoon. But the Ekka is full of characters and we can enjoy it any way we like, right?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

August 11. Day 224. Something to crow about

 Why do we hate crows? A crow has never swooped on me, or threatened to knock me off my bike or poke my eyes out. A magpie has. Both sea gulls and ibis have committed even worse crimes against Susan - stolen my hot chips. That's war people. Crows have never dug up my garden like scrub turkeys or laughed at me like kookaburras. Yet crows get the bad rap. Actually, the crow it the black sheep of the avian world. Discrimination on the basis of colour in the animal kingdom is rife too perhaps. After all, it's the black dog that haunts those with depression and black cats that bring bad luck. So perhaps, the crow is hated by association. But I like their spirit. I like the way they will eat just about anything. I like the sheen of their plumage. Yeah, they have a singing voice about as attractive as mine but people still love me ... laughs at own joke. We can't all be colourful, well not all the time. Sometimes the world really is black and white.