Monday, December 31, 2018

December 31. Day 365. Out with the old

So there we go. Another year over. As is my way, here is a summary of how things went - at least the bits I was prepared to put in the annual Christmas letter. The other bits I will save up for my psychiatrist - no really ...
Is rightly proud to have notched up 20 years working at QUT – bring on long service leave next year
Was most happy with the results having finally got around to installing solar panels and a new kitchen
Thought a lot about shit – having ulcerative colitis does that to a person

Spent countless hours helping move her elderly next door neighbour into a nursing home
Invested more time than strictly necessary listening to true crime podcasts
Stunned everyone by taking up singing lessons
Developed a taste for Lite n Easy diet food
Said “I need a new job” rather a lot

Is rightly proud to be a director of Moore Stephens – bring on visits to many of the offices in the 110 countries worldwide
Was most happy with the results having finally got around to facilitating the Commonwealth Games Bridge Championships
Listened to a lot of shit – talking to treasury officials does that to a person
Spent countless hours being ferried around the city in Ubers
Invested more time than strictly necessary searching Amazon for coloured jeans
Stunned everyone by signing up to the Brisbane city scooter hire scheme
Developed a taste for rum and coke
Said “did you actually proof read that document?” rather a lot

Is rightly proud to have finished his second year at uni with a grade point 5.87 (out of 7) – bring on graduation next year
Was most happy with the results having finally got around to entering a script in the 2019 Anywhere Theatre Festival
Thought a lot about Brechtian shit – being a drama student does that to a person
Spent countless hours in his bedroom with the door closed
Invested more time than strictly necessary procrastinating over uni assignments
Stunned everyone when he started singing for nursing home residents
Developed a taste for Vodka Cruisers
Said “is she single?” rather a lot

Rumple and Winkle
Are rightly proud to have become the darlings of the nursing home during regular visits – bring on the treats
Were most happy with the results having finally got around to posing for a professional dog photographer 
Thought a lot about shit – sniffing all the bums at the dog park does that to you
Spent countless hours lying around on the bed looking adorable
Invested more time than strictly necessary planning ways to get into next door’s chicken coup
Stunned everyone by actually catching a chicken (almost)
Developed a taste for playing with squeaky rubber chicken toys
Said “let sleeping dogs lie” rather a lot

Sunday, December 30, 2018

December 30. Day 364. Feeling crabby

 I spent an hour or so in a hospital room today talking to a friend who is losing his battle with melanoma. He's almost 90 and in his youth we didn't know any better. Getting sunburned was part of the deal in an Australian summer. Every fair skinned one of us did it and many have paid the ultimate price. It's one of the reasons Queensland has had one of the highest skin cancer rates on the planet - pale skinned people in a hot, hot climate. But now we know better, or we should. But have we really learned? Three weeks at the beach has shown me that while the message is getting through there is still a whole lot of room for improvement. Why are little, little kids running around with next to nothing on in the cruel heat of the day?
After leaving the hospital I needed a time for personal reflection so I headed to my happy place, the water. The tide was out at Wellington Point. You could have walked to King Island - and plenty of people were many of them without shirts or hats or any other protection.
In this day and age we should know better, we should do better. It makes me crabby.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

December 29. Day 364. Back to earth with a thud


They say all good things must come to an end. Why is that exactly? Probably because of the financial imperative, at least in this case. Also, another family has booked the holiday house next week and they probably don't want to share their beds with us. Selfish beasts.
Anyway we had to pack up and leave and this makes me very sad especially because there was a picture perfect start to the day and the break has been much needed and kind of perfect. But reality beckons. Also reality sucks but there it is. Thank you Currimundi. You have been great. See you in February.

Friday, December 28, 2018

December 28. Day 363. Swim between the flags.

I  have decided that I am a rule follower. It's not as though I always comply to every regulation and every warning imposed by the governments and councils plus every other authority but for the most part I do what I'm told.
Which has made me ponder a lot of late: What makes any individual choose what rules to follow and what ones they will ignore. Are some people more compliant or do we all just cherry pick about what applies to us and what doesn't?
This week it has been the whole swim between the flags thing. There are signs all along the dog beach about dangerous rips and unsafe swimming conditions. It's why it's a dog beach, I suspect. There is a patrolled bathing reserve about 100 metres further up. And yet every day  families often with small kids are swimming outside the flags. Hand on heart I can say I would never have done that. It just wouldn't have occurred to me. The people who do choose to swim outside the flags are probably much more confident swimmers and it could be that they have made an educated choice. It could be that they don't know or don't care. I'm not actually judging, just curious. I pick up dog poo, I stay out of the sun in the heat of the day and I swim between the flags. But having said that I do jay walk, occasionally perform u-turns illegally, never ever consume the right amount of water or vegetables and don't always wash my hands for as long as recommended. 
I make "informed" choices or that's what I tell myself. I suspect it's what we all tell ourselves.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

December 27. Day 362. A sting in this tale

Bluebottles symbolise everything that is awesome about Australian nasties. They are tiny, beautiful and pack a bloody painful punch. Anyone who has been wrapped in the evil tentacles of the marine stingers will know what I'm talking about. They are pint-sized purveyors of pain, But they are also pretty appealing to look at. So today I was photographing them. A bloke, who happened to be a Pom spoke to me.
"What are they?" he asked. I told him they were bluebottles, a marine stinger.
"Nasty little shits," he said. "Some stung me while I paddling. They hurt like hell."
They sure do, I agreed. And then he asked why there were so many more of them than usual.
Good question, sir and one I happened to know the answer to. Prevailing winds and tides bring them to east facing beaches at certain times of the year. To avoid them go to a north-facing beach such as Mooloolaba or Noosa, I said.
He looked impressed so asked a follow up question. "What works for the pain?" I recommended ice.
I assume he thought he'd lucked out and found someone with great local knowledge.
Actually, he'd asked me the one question 20 years working as a journalist for Sunshine Coast Newspapers  had taught me about stingers.
So I kept out of the shallows and took the dogs to the inlet. And there I met my sister, my niece and her dog also in the stinger-free zone. Perfect.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

December 26. Day 361. A no-frills celebration

I hereby issue a public apology. I ruined Christmas. And I, of all people, should have known better, given I have previously nearly demanded a divorce over the same issue. Bon bons. I forgot the bon bons. This morning, as I was preparing for Christmas Day 2, the sequel (known to normal people as Boxing Day), I thought "I must get the bon bons." It was then when I remembered that I had bought two lots ... one for Christmas Day and one for Boxing Day. The Christmas Day lot were still in the car. I subjected my family to Christmas Day minus bon bons. Oh, the horror. And to think, in an incident best described as a Lost in Translation moment some years ago I almost rioted over a threatened withdrawal of bon bons at Christmas. My husband said there were to be none on the table. I called him a grinch. I told him he'd lost the Christmas spirit. I asked him what could make him so cold hearted that he would want a bon bon boycott?
 Turns out he was talking lollies, sweets. The thing we call Bon Bons he calls Christmas Crackers. He had no problem at all with stupid paper hats and lame jokes that are part of the Christmas ritual. He just didn't want everyone shovelling down chocolate and then not having enough room for the turkey and trimmings he'd slaved over. See use your words carefully ... and remember the bon bons. Otherwise you might ruin Christmas ... or worse.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

December 25. Day 360. Fa la la la la, la la la la

Popular culture could lead you to the conclusion that Christmas is a time not of good will but of bad blood.  There are so many stories about fights, bad behaviour and settling of old scores at Christmas that you could come to think of it as the norm. Not in my house. Christmas is a time of fun and frivolity with family and loved ones. I love Christmas and I think you should share the love. No-one should be home alone at Christmas. So when the decision was made that our December 25 feast would be in the evening, I decided we should drive to Brisbane for lunch with Margaret. We arrived with a basket of goodies, dogs with dazzling collars and me in a Christmas tree dress. She was so pleased to see us. Her eyes lit up when she opened the gifts. The feast served up by the Aged Care Centre's kitchen was most tasty and as always the dogs were a big hit.
But perhaps the moment of the day came just before we left when Oliver offered to sing a Christmas carol.
There was no denying her joy as she sang along to Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

 That people is what Christmas is all about. And then after returning to the Coast it was time to nap, hit the beach and then round two with my sister Lisa and her family. It was a very merry Christmas day.

Monday, December 24, 2018

December 24. Day 359. Out of the shadows

There are many reasons people choose the beach for a holiday - sun, surf and sand tend to be the top of the list. They are all on my list too but the gold medal goes to dogs. It is true that dogs exist in places other than on the beach. When dogs hit the beach, however, the joy of both amplifies.
There is nothing happier than the faces of dogs charging up the beach and into the water. It's a beautiful thing. I know it. All the dog lovers in my family know it and yet until today my sister Lisa kept Shadow on a lead.
Let's be honest, she had pretty good reason. The first time we went away together on a doggie break, Shadow nearly gave us a heart attack. He simply disappeared. He turned up back at the holiday house we had rented. It was across a busy highway and about a kilometre away and in addition we'd only arrived there about 2.5 seconds before setting off to the beach. And yet he went "home" there without us, taking years off our lives in the process. He did it one other time and after that no more off leash for Shadow.
But today Lisa decided to give it another go, hoping Shadow was older and wiser. It worked. He ran. He chased.
And then he came back.
It was a glorious thing.
Long may it continue.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

December 23. Day 358. On a one horse open sleigh

I've witnessed a Christmas miracle.
This is more astounding than the fact that Santa seems to be able to deliver presents simultaneously to millions of geographically far flung homes. This has a greater degree of difficulty than flying reindeer one with a glowing nose.
Today I saw a kite boarder wearing a Christmas hat as he was flung over waves in a very stiff breeze.
I have problems keeping one of those hats on while getting up and going to the fridge. As if there isn't a high enough degree of difficulty involved with kite boarding without adding a festive hat.
But he did it and to the mystery elf, I say thank you for spreading a little Christmas cheer.
PS. If you drop around my place I'll kiss you under the Christmas tree or the mistletoe or any other piece of greenery of your liking.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

December 22. Day 357. Giving them a bit of Curri

 I spent a lot of time staring at strange men not wearing very much this morning.
I pointed my long lens in their direction. I even spoke to one on the beach.
Seriously, it's a wonder I don't get arrested.
Anyway, the nice young man humoured me with a chat. By his accent, I'd say he was English.
I have a habit of singling out the English ones.
I didn't ask his name but he's the one falling off the board.
Let's call him Hugh... or perhaps Colin ... (Love Actually/English actors reference. Keep up people)
Colin/Hugh told me it was really deceptive in the surf this morning.
It was hard work padding out.
The waves were good but breaking really close to the shore, probably because it was high tide.
Not like Curri at all, he said.
So there you have it.
Straight from the Hugh's mouth ... I now do surf reports.
And then before I had a restraining order slapped on me, we parted ways and I went back to my dogs and my birds and Currimundi Beach ... sorry Curri, I'm a local now.
Also, in honour of Hugh, some mushrooms or perhaps toadstools because he seemed like a fungi (fun guy, get it). Right, lest anyone think I've been sampling the magic mushrooms myself, I'll stop now. Here's my bit of Curri for you.

Friday, December 21, 2018

December 21. Day 356. Bird watching

 At the edge of our favourite swimming hole today a woman asked me if I was looking for some special breed in the tree. She sensed my confusion. "It's just you have your camera and you were looking up," she said, not at all unreasonably. I was going to explain that I was actually an accidental bird watcher but that sounds ridiculous. The truth is I can now recognise far more birds than I really give myself credit for and certainly far more than I could when I started walking around with a camera in hand. And I do find myself looking up when I hear an unfamiliar bird call. Without really realising it, that's what I was doing this morning. It was rainbow bee-eaters. I may have caught a glimpse of them before but never scored the photographic proof until today. They are beautiful but little and fast and I did have two dogs so I consider myself very lucky and then just to top it off the black cockatoos flew by. Score.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

December 20. Day 355. Mad dogs and Englishmen

 I'm prepared to call it. Winkle is crazy or at the very least completely fearless to the point of reckless. Rumple is not. At all. He's like a reserved English gentleman to the eccentric mad one. Rumple shows what I would consider a healthy respect for the ocean. Winkle not so much. She doesn't seem to care about getting dumped. She just rides the wave and emerges from the foam. And then there's the ball. Our routine takes us along the beach to Coonbidah Lagoon. We spend quite a bit of time there, paddling. Winkle loves to swim and chase the ball, often at the same time. Because she is little, she can't always get her mouth around the ball in the water and it becomes much like a game of apple bobbing. But she won't give up. He new method it to dive under, force the ball to the bottom and then grab it. She's so determined and spends a great deal of time with her head and often much of her body under the water. She's a never-give-up kind of girl. I admire her free spirit. She's my mad dog. I love her for it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

December 19. Day 354. Close family

 When I took my first tentative steps into the world of dog friendly holidays I landed at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast. The region from Coolum to Sunshine Beach is very well served with beautiful dog off leash beaches, homes ready to accommodate families keen to enjoy them, cafes, the national park, etc. It's glorious. I still love that area. But the southern end of the Sunshine Coast has something else. Curriumdi is much closer to Brisbane and Brisbane is much closer to Currimundi. It works both ways. I've had to make a few trips to Brisbane for business and pleasure and you really notice the commuting time. And just as I can get to Brisbane easily so those in Brisbane can get here. Last weekend my sister and her kids (human and canine) joined us. Today my sister-in-law and her pair of humans and one dog came for a visit. It's really lovely to play open house. Even the dogs enjoy having their canine cousins come to play. And at Christmas we will all be here - because we can.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December 18. Day 353. Scenic Rim

The Scenic Rim. Sounds so attractive, right? Now in  Somerset section of that Scenic Rim around Brisbane is the town of Esk. I'm sorry Esk, but we are not friends. I have a childhood filled with Esk-based trauma. My mum's aunt and uncle (the aunt's brother not husband ...) lived in Esk. We would travel their twice a year. The drive from Brisbane seemed to take FOREVER at least in part because there were Mum, Dad four kids and my grandfather in a sedan. That was a thing back then but it was still hugely uncomfortable and hot and someone always seemed to vomit. And then we got there and it was a town where the big attraction was a bottle museum. In the early years there was a thunder box instead of an actual toilet. Later there was plumbing but Auntie Et (Harriet) knew nothing about cleaning toilets having and Uncle Bill was old and either very bad eyesight or a very bad aim or both. I could go on ... but not without a trained mental health professional on hand for support. And then there was the night spent in the Esk caravan park for a family reunion. I spent most of that night in the toilet block after the "banquet". Tonight I was taken back to Esk via a performance in the Cremorne Theatre. Annie Lee, Christine Johnston and Carolyn Johns AKA Mourne, Eve and Dawn Kransky are The Kransky Sisters a musical trio from Esk, well that's the story. And despite this, or perhaps because of it, I loved them. They were quirky, funny and very, very talented. The only thing is they didn't mention the bottle museum. Next time ladies.

Monday, December 17, 2018

December 17. Day 352. Joy to the world

It may be that the boy has a T Shirt with the slogan "Never be Ashamed of Who You Are .... That's Your Parents' Job" but it's not true, well not usually. As his mother, I am contractually obligated to be proud of Oliver. It goes with the territory and it is kind of unconditional ... except when it isn't but you know what I mean. But today I was especially proud. Today Oliver sang Christmas carols for aged care centre residents. He didn't have to but he did. And then he stayed around for a bit and chatted and hugged some of the residents. It was a really nice moment. He sang beautifully and the crowd was suitably impressed. He even brought his own little helpers ... Rumple and Winkle in their Christmas elf costumes. That's the Christmas spirit right there.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

December 16.Day 351. Rain, rain go away

 I stayed in bed for most of the day. Even for me that's a big effort, especially when at the beach.
This could be for a number of reasons. I'll let others decide:
a) It was cyclonic outside
b) I was feeling sick
c) I was sick
d) Two of the above.
The answer is D. The problem is I'm not sure which two.
Okay, that's weird. The thing is this. I'm not sure if I feel sick because of paranoia or I'm actually sick. Let me explain. Last year, I had hepatitis and the most likely cause was a medication reaction. A couple of weeks ago that medication was reintroduced in an effort to control inflammatory bowel disease which is running a muck. So I have been nervously waiting to see if the symptoms reappear  which is the best possible way to make sure you feel the symptoms even if you don't actually have them.
But the dogs know none of this. The dogs just want to go to the beach. Late in the afternoon when the weather cleared a bit we went. It was awesome, although incredibly blustery. I felt better, although still weary. The dogs were happy. The people were happy. The question still remains "is the liver happy?". Time will tell.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 15. Day 350. Something to write home about

 Good customer service, by which I mean really good customer service, is so rare it really is worth a special mention. So it was today. We went to the Eumudi markets which we do perhaps once a year.  Charles made a bee line to his favourite pen shop seeking the 2018 model new fountain pen. The dogs and I wander off in a different direction but found ourselves near the pen shop before the transaction was complete. The stall holder beckoned me over. He recognised me over.  He said "here's a gift for you." It was an olive wood pen, a beautiful weighty piece. And not only that on it were paw prints and the words "I love my dog." It's hard to imagine anything more perfect and more likely to have us return. If there is a better way to encourage people to recommend your business than I don't know what it is. And now I have a pen to put to paper to do just that.