If they want me to be nice to them they should not call me at dinner time. But still the man in India trying to fix my computer or sell me solar panels for my roof insists on phoning when I am trying to cook. This and the small matter of the clear invasion of the Do Not Call Register provisions drives me nuts and tends to make me say words that are somewhat less than ladylike. And as soon as the home phone calls I am ready for it because people who know me use my mobile (except my mum and I always know when it will be mum). Thus my cranky pants were on when the phone rang still I reluctantly agreed to market research. Question after question about why I live where I live and what it would take to consider moving to Logan. "Logan?" I said. "Not going to happen". And while I was well aware that sounded all judgey that wasn't my intent. I love where I live and I have no intention of moving. Not now. Not ever (well not until I win Lotto and I can buy that house right on the beach I want). Living in walking distance of South Bank, West End and the City suits me just fine. More than just fine. Just don't phone me at dinner time to confirm.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The more you love someone
The more you want to kill 'em
The more you love someone
The more he make you cry
That's a line from Avenue Q, the deeply provocative, naughty and very, very funny musical which makes a return visit to Brisbane Arts Theatre next month.
And while it is designed to get a reaction, the fact is it's so true. If it's a fine line between pleasure and pain, our nearest and dearest are the ones most equipped to hover close to and cross that line. The fact is no matter how much we try to hide our buttons, our families know where to find them and how to push them to get a reaction - over and over again. But we keep going back for more because, well, we love them and because while they know where the big bad buttons are they also know how to make us proud, happy, safe etc, etc.They help us learn to roll with the punches, to get back up and do it again. Pretty much the same thing was on display at South Bank this afternoon. Two young blokes were undertaking a bit of fitness training when they decided to ditch the equipment and use their bodies as weapons. It wasn't quite a fight to the death but it was undertaken with about the same amount of ferocity - and then they would break, dust themselves off, smile and do it again. Clearly they were the best of mates. Only our nearest and dearest would get away with that.
Monday, April 28, 2014
*Today's image is from the Visual Art studio at work. I look at it and think food. Diets do that to a person.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
However, after weeks (perhaps months) of the seafood diet (yes, I see food and eat it) I have decided moderation is the new me. It is either that or buy a whole new wardrobe. That is appealing but if I am to invest in new clothes, I would much prefer they were not size tent.
So a new healthy eating regime has begun and today is day three. So far so good (where so good is defined as not having killed anyone yet).
Will power is clearly a super power which I have been blessed with. Or not. But today I did display a rare moment of restraint. I went to one of those specialist chocolate restaurants and didn't dip a single thing in the delicious melted choc pot. Big elephant stamp for me (with any luck in a few weeks the stamp won't need to be quite so big).
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Friday, April 25, 2014
Male: "have you seen my phone, keys, homework, tie, remote control ...."\
Me: "no ... but I haven't been looking for it"
Male: "could you?"
A search, often lasting 2.7 nano seconds, is then launched generally finding the lost item either in clear view or exactly where it should be. Seriously, some people can't see for looking.
Like today, I dragged the males to the dog park with Rumple and me. When we got there I asked my husband if he could find a ball in my backpack. Nope, apparently there wasn't one. I suppose that was true. There wasn't one ball, there were three all in clear view. So we got to play with the flattened but favourite green ball, the new purple ball AND the ball on the rope. Rumple didn't care which. He, at least, was one male in the family who was on the ball.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Not often do I feel any desire to quote a member of the Royal Family but a segment of Prince William's speech this week where he said that Australia "may be known as the lucky country but often the hardier the work, the luckier you get" struck a chord. How true that is.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
You can tell a lot about people's relationship by the way they greet each other. The polite nod, the smile, the half wave, the awkward embrace, the warm embrace, the kiss on the cheek, the kiss on both cheeks, the kiss on the mouth, the tongue kiss .... they all speak volumes without saying a word. Working out what those wordless exchanges mean is a bit of a game I like to play when bored in places like airport arrival and departure lounges. It not only kills time but it is a genuinely interesting study of the human condition. It also melts the heart watching when nearest and dearest reunite after absences. I witnessed such a reunion of sorts today when the Fur Friend Rumple and his adopted half sibling The Fed had a play date after being apart for a week. Such a cute but odd couple they are. When they are together I find myself referring to them as one entity - calling for RumpsyFeddie (one word, rolled together) in much the same way as in the past my father would hollow MarieSusanLisaMichael if he wanted one or all of his offspring. The teen tells me I have this naming convention all wrong. In the way of Brangelina, I'm told the couple name for Rumpsy and Feddy would be Ruddy. Regardless of what they are called, I must say that when it comes to greetings, we humans have a distinct advantage over canines. The greeting ritual of Ruddy is exhausting just watching it. They jump on each other, roll around a lot, bite each other's ears and mouth, sniff bums and run round around like possessed creatures until they run out of steam. Then they break for a bit and repeat. And that's because they like each other. Goodness only knows how they would react if they didn't get on. Probably much the same way....
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I am not talking about its glorious beaches, the wonderful national park, the nudist beach or even the shops and restaurants on Hastings Street. For some reason "disasters" befall me in Noosa forcing me to extend my stay here.When my now husband first came to Australia he managed to lose his passport just before he was due to fly back to the UK. We were in Noosa and were "forced" to stay at the rather delightful On The Beach for a few extra days while new documents were fast tracked.
This time it's the car. The new car. The car I bought because I wanted a reliable vehicle that wouldn't break down. The car that is still under warranty is about to be towed. So instead of driving back to Brisbane last night to get The Teen to school this morning as planned, I was on the beach this morning working out what to do next.
There began a long, tiresome standoff. The Holden Customer Care man hung up on me telling me "there was not a damn thing he could do". Bad move, sir. The customer might not always be right but you sure as hell don't hang up on them. The problem was this. The nearest Holden dealership couldn't even assess the car until tomorrow. Holden "policy" is that the vehicle must be assessed before a courtesy car can be considered. So I guessed I was supposed to walk with all luggage, the dog and the teen back to Brisbane when we got kicked out of the accommodation this morning.
Seriously, just quoting your policy doesn't make the policy good. Surely there is such a thing as a case-by-case basis. And while we are at it, surely there is a moral obligation to sell a car that actually works for more than a year without being towed.
So the bulldog was activated. On to the person who sold the car, back on to customer care and finally an agreement to tow the car to Brisbane and provide a hire car to get us back. So the thing that Mr Hang Up on Me Man said could not happen did. That people, is what customer care is and for this I am very grateful. My gratitude also goes to the agents who said the cleaners were not due until lunch time so ignore the 10am kick out time.
There are far worse places to be stranded than Noosa but it's hard to enjoy it when you are being messed around and treated like shit. The car breaking down may have been an act of God but it is how men deal with it that makes the difference.
Monday, April 21, 2014
There is nothing that terrible about the terrible twos.
No defiant tantrum, no wilful disobedience, no dummy spit comes close to what a teenager can dish out. The more I see of it, the more I love my dog. But for all their hormonal unpredictability there are real payoffs in the teenager years. More independence, greater reliability, easy banter and intelligent conversation are definite plusses. You just need to be very aware of which version of the teenage creature you are dealing with at any given moment (and it can switch in a moment). Which left me with a big decision – should I take just one teenager on the Easter vacation or share the love and take three. I decided on the latter and my own son was joined by his cousin Scarlett and her boyfriend Alex. It was a flash of inspiration. I still got to enjoy the solitude of the dawn walk with dog along the beach because no self-respecting teenager sees that time of day unless they are still to go to bed. Then when they eventually stirred they were happy to join me for a swim or for the afternoon play with the dog as we ran along the beach. And at night we had a quorum for board games. Three is not a crowd. Three is a happy group of teenagers who enjoy each other’s company and are good fun to be with. I’d be delighted to do it again some time.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Saturday, April 19, 2014
George Orwell had Room 101. JK Rowling had the Boggart. These were the living embodiment of a person’s worst nightmare; being confronted with thing we fear most in the whole world. I know what would be in that room and even to speak of it brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. I can not go there. But what about the opposite? What if there was a Room 202? This room would not just be like the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts that brings you what you need at the time. This would be the room that represented not only want you need but what you love. This would be utopia. I would call that room Beach Access 30. A long uninterrupted sandy beach represents just about everything that is good in the world. The smell of sun screen, the sand between your toes, the warm water lapping at your feet. It is not possible to feel sad, or mad or bad on a warm sunny day on the sand. Well I can’t anyway. The shrieks of the children as they charge down the dunes, the way the dog’s ears are pinned back as he charges after the ball, the laughter as families roll in the surf or jump on a newly-constructed sand castles. The whole Garden of Eden thing may have been ruined by a woman and an apple but there is no spoiling the beach in the Bible according to Susan. This is as good as life gets.
For the following reasons I make it a rule not to go away for the Easter long weekend:
a) Meeting the accommodation cost requires a second mortgage
b) It almost always rains
c) It is the most crowded time of the year
d) Massive traffic snarls are inevitable
e) The Easter Bunny may not know where to find me
But there's no need to be silly about it. When I learned that my husband wouldn't return from his Shanghai conference until Monday and my mother, sister and niece would be in Hong Kong for Easter I decided to be a little home body no more.
I called the credit card into action, booked a palatial beach home and recruited the boy, my niece Scarlett, her boyfriend Alex and Rumple and off we went.
When the Bruce Highway turned to carpark just outside Brisbane, the plan suddenly seemed insane but the bottle neck soon cleared and as soon as we hit the beach all was forgotten.
Even if the Easter Bunny can't fine me, the weather is glorious and the decision to go to the beach is the best one ever. If necessary, there should be just enough money left on the credit card after paying for the accommodation to buy my own chocolate.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Easter bonnet parade - an annual ritual which I used to joke was devised by early childhood educators to torture parents and laugh at their truly awful creations. All those years trying to create something that looked even vaguely festive out of a combination of cardboard, feathers, glue and egg cartons or other equally implausible craft items. But today I got to get all misty eyed sentimental about how cute it all was and how fast time flies. Today, having passed the test, my "baby" is the proud owner of a learner's permit and legally able to learn to drive in Queensland. And I thought making an Easter bonnet was cruel and unusual torture. Now the fun really begins. With the bit of paper in hand we walked into the Queen Street Mall where the signs of last minute Easter shopping - and Easter bunny ears - were everywhere. My favourite was he stall making the balloon bunny bonnets. How I wish I'd been able to create something like that back in the day. But you know what? Whatever I came up with, it was always received with the same great pride and joy. And that, and not parental torture, is what it is all about.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Monday, April 14, 2014
One of the things that impressed six-year-old me most about the new family home my parents had just bought was that the property had a name (that and the fact that I would have my own bedroom and would no longer have to share with my baby brother). I'd never known a house with an actual name before but our home had a sign over the gate that read Yaraandoo. Later, much later, I learned that meant "place of the white gum" which was ideal because there was indeed the most perfect white gum tree in the back garden. It was a stately old thing with a circumference so wide that it would take three of us standing arms outstretched to circle the thing. We all desperately wanted to climb it but the lowest of branches was way out of our reach. It was the type of tree we always imagined should be home to a whole family of koalas (although not once did we ever see one). I say WAS because although my mother still lives in that home, the tree is no longer there. It was chopped down about 30 years ago and while I understand why I am still glad I was out of the country when it happened so didn't have to see it. In the end it came down to this. It was the tree or the house and quite possibly its occupants. The ghost gum was huge and very close to the house. The way it swayed in tropical Queensland storms scared the living sh*t out of my mother. The fact that she spent her life raking up the leaves it dropped also gave her the sh*ts, but that wasn't what led to its demise either. That type of tree has the nickname widow maker because of its tendency to drop giant limbs. Our tree had started to do just that and for the safety of all it had to go. As one who had sobbed for weeks when Judy in Seven Little Australians had died under a fallen gum, I knew about the lethal power of the eucalyptus tree but still I lament its passing. The sign is still over the gate but I rather think there should be something more like this carving in a tree on the university campus where I work. Nothing can replace a tree like that but something should be in its place. At least that's what six-year-old me thinks.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
While frankly, I can't imagine ever needing a reminder that I am female but I think she had a bit of a point about natural cycles and the need to take notice of them.
Specifically, tides. Not even for a second did I consider the not so small matter of tides when I decided to take the fur friends to Nudgee Beach at dawn this morning. As a dutiful wife, I volunteered to take my husband to the airport at 5.30am. That would a) mean I was out and about at an indecent hour and b) I was very close to the fur friends' favourite place at a time of day that should be perfect for dawn beach shots. It seemed like a perfect arrangement except that it was far too overcast to see the sun rise and the far bigger issue - the tides. A run along the beach would have been lovely if there had been a beach. So it didn't go to plan but we decided to make the most of it and three hours later we arrived home for breakfast. Meals go on a cycle too and that's one pattern I never ignore.
Friday, April 11, 2014
I would last 20 seconds on Survivor. I wouldn't even last until the first tribal council meeting, I'd evict myself. This creature loves her creature comforts. And frankly I am quite perplexed about the whole camping thing. Why, for the love of God, would people volunteer to holiday in places where there are no flushing toilets and running water. Bathing is one of life's simple little pleasures. Whether it be a long hot bath or a refreshing shower, washing away the stresses and strains is a feel-good-for-free thing you can do without guilt every day. What's not to love about a bath? Quite a lot if you ask the fur friends. For the first time today I took the fur friends for a hydrobath and seriously you've never seen such a performance. Pathetic. But whether they like it or not they both smelt and looked a whole lot better for the experience and that, too, it a simple pleasure.
My fur baby Rumple and the visitor Cousin Fed are just like that. They will have wrestles which you would swear are fights to the death which will stop, almost as suddenly as they began, and the two of them will curl up together and go to sleep.
I wish I found clocking off quite that easy. The off switch is a little faulty at the moment and getting a good night's sleep is annoyingly illusive. I'm sick and tired or feeling sick and tired and thus tonight I shall take Valium for the first time. It's something I have resisted by desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm hoping that like the tactics of Sam Sheepdog, a short sharp measure will stop the problem in its tracks and then I can just clock off ....
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
|In the scrum at the dog park|
Monday, April 7, 2014
But two things I saw today got me thinking. One was a stray cat and her kittens sheltering very close to where I work. They were beautiful animals despite 1) my known cat antagonism and 2) the fact that the five of them were clearly strays. What I saw was a mum doing her best. What I also saw was that no-one was judging. As humans we use words such as "catty" and "bitchy" to describe less than admirable human traits when in fact I think the animal world could teach us a thing or two about good behaviour. An incident in point occurred later in the day with another new mum, a close friend of mine who gave birth to her bundle of joy just two weeks ago. She asked me to take her to a specialty breast feeding shop to stock up on necessary equipment while Grandma cared for the sleeping bub. It was my pleasure. I wish I could say the same for the experience. Despite happily selling hundreds of dollars in breast pumps, bottles and sterilisers the shop assistant simple refused to discuss teats and was simply frosty when my friend talked about how her bub would need to learn to feed from the bottle when she returned to work. Well excuse me. Can we not actually support each other's parenting choices rather than being all judge and jury? It takes a village to raise a child, yet too often we all behave like the village idiot when it comes to assisting others to raise their kids. Sorry people, the claws are out today.