Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31. Day 31. Democracy in action

I've never understood How-to-Vote cards. Ever. I just can't understand how you can get to a polling booth and need a stranger to hand you a piece of paper to tell you how to vote. Bewildering. So I never take one (occasionally, for variety, I take one from everyone just to mess with their heads). But today I broke my own rule and took just one - from my son who was wearing ALP colours for the first time even though he is not yet old enough to vote. Truth is that while I am a political animal I have not ever nor will I join a political party. I don't think any party has the monopoly on good ideas or bad and I hate the fact that toeing the party line means a pretence of just that. But I love politics as a sport and feel very disheartened about the number of young people who refuse to engage in the political process. You can choose not to engage but you can't choose not to be governed and surely it is better to have a say rather than leave it up to others to decide for you? This is why I am incredibly proud of my young man not for his politics per se but for his political interest and conviction. I rather prefer to exercise my political interest as a commentator rather than a campaigner. So tonight I was in election night heaven in the Social Media Lounge of the ABC Brisbane studios tweeting my little heart out. I had the laptop, the iPad, the iPhone and the camera and was surrounded by a group of talented tweeters (many of them my own QUT Journalism students) monitoring what the social media world had to say about the events as they unfolded. I guess politics runs in the family. There are a lot of worse ways to spend your time ...

Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30. Day 30. Beached

These days every cause, every disease, every charity has a special day (or if  you are really special a whole week or month). Wear a nose, a bow tie, a special colour. Give up something, take up something, eat something, don't eat something, shave off something, tip a bucket of ice water over your head. It is simply not possible to contribute to or even acknowledge them all. But there is one day I think we all should keep front of mind. POETS Day. Yep, P*ss Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday. And so I did out of the city at lunch time and off to the coast. Now confess the stroke of genius was also motivated by the fact that I was due to pick up a car that after six weeks in a repair shop was MEANT to be ready. It died when we were on holidays so I had to return to the scene of the crime. And despite the four hour round trip and assurances only hours earlier, the car wasn't ready. The beach, however, was totally ready so down we went and frolicked with all the other Friday afternoon city escapees. I can't be mad when I'm on the beach. Better still I now need to create another special day POETT Day (P*ss Off Early Tomorrow's Tuesday).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 29. Day 29. Creature of the Night

It's not that I have a problem with night. Brisbane is a thoroughly beautiful city at night. The night is cooler for start and the nightlife is, predictably, better at night. Dining, theatre, fireworks, the lights of the city, all better at night.  But so too is sleep, or it should be unless you are a shift worker. Sleep is one of my favourite things. As a child they called my Snoozy Susie. My Twitter handle is Snoozen. Nothing makes me happier than climbing into bed at the end of a long day (although climbing into bed for an afternoon nap comes a close second). But as I am rapidly discovering, the night may be a great time for partying but it is a really sucky place for lying awake waiting for sleep to come. Really sucky. The days are also not so good when you've spent the night awake. No one minds so much if the lack of sleep comes from a night out in the glorious city. But tired and grumpy after a night trying to get a good night's sleep? No amount of beautiful lighting or flashy staging can make that look attractive. God knows I've tried.In fact, I often find myself lying awake at night pondering it ....

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January 28. Day 28. Attitude

Believe it or not, she actually liked the ice block. A lot. But with a camera close by and an audience and not just an ice block to feed off,  she could deliver just about any attitude you can think of. Pretty convincingly, as it happens. This child is a natural. What I see in her face is pretty much the roller coaster of emotions I've gone though as I have endured this election campaign demonstrated by a seven-year-old far better than I ever could and without prompting. Slightly nauseous, grumpy, wide eyed with disbelief and full of disdain. 
Political campaigns do that to a person. Worst of all, I rather feel that the politicians of all sides are playing us, swearing that sweet is sour or visa versa. Just stick to the script. Repeat it over and over. Fortunately, like the ice block it will be gone soon. (My guess is that all the colours and sweeteners will also be gone and once again the voters will be left with the stick to suck on).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 27. Day 27. Making a splash

It's going to be a big year. Year 12. Brace yourself people (by people, here I mean me, oh and Drama Teen). Anyway Day 1 down and so far so good. Indeed you could say hot stuff. January/February is most unforgiving. Formal Year 12 uniform complete with long pants, long sleeved shirt and tie is not a combination that sits well with a Queensland summer and classrooms that may or may not be airconditioned. He looked so grown up and ready to take on the world when he stepped out the door this morning  (he said he thought he looked more like a Mormon missionary and sang me a number from Book of Mormon to prove a point but there is rarely a life moment that doesn't remind him of some musical or other). This afternoon he looked like a much more wilted version of that missionary. The smart new uniform was off before you could say "ink pink, I stink" and he was in the pool. Never too grown up to strip off and jump in the pool.

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26. Day 26. Waving the flag

Australians have historically been a quietly patriotic bunch where love of country is pretty much assumed. Sure there was a certain degree of cultural cringe, a certain national inferiority complex where we have thought our culture was not different but lesser than more "mature" nations. But I think we have all grown up. With this growing maturity has come a more demonstrative form of patriotism. We have now adopted a more flag-waving type of love of country that once we saw Americans doing with a degree of disdain. Personally I like the new demonstrative national self as long as it is inclusive and not used as an excuse to exclude the "other". In any event around the South Bank precinct today it was a happy, relaxed easy love of country as Brisbane people came out to celebrate Australia Day. The Aussie flag was everywhere - tattooed close to the heart, on beach balls and inflatable pool toys, on T shirts and hats and towels and flying from the windows of cars. There probably would have been many other displays actually in the parklands itself but I was refused entry. My crime was that I was in the company of an obvious trouble-maker - the fur friend Rumple. I didn't think twice about taking Rumple because we walk at South Bank all the time. I hadn't counted on the beefed up security that now comes with major events. That is another sign of being a grown up nation in a global world, unfortunately.
And proving there are more stylish ways of wearing Red, White and Blue ... artist and illustrator de Shan

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25. Day 25. Going off


It is not all that long ago that we would celebrate Australia Day on whatever long weekend fell closest to January 26. After all, what is more Australian than a long weekend? But then we got all patriotic and decided we must celebrate on the day itself. We reasoned the Americans wouldn't celebrate July 4 on the nearest weekend and Bastille Day is only ever marked on July 14. So January 26 it was. We've got very used to this so I suspect many in Brisbane will have missed the fireworks tonight at South Bank. The decision to have the display on Australia Day eve instead of the day itself makes perfect sense in that school goes back after the long summer break on Tuesday. Many families will, therefore, opt to spend Monday night at home getting ready. However I suspect large numbers of people missed the news and there will be a big
parade of very disappointed people at South Bank tomorrow night waiting for a big bang that has already gone off.I might be wrong but a couple next to me on the riverbank arrived only 10 minutes before the fireworks and parked at QPAC. One would have predicted those carparks would have been filled hours earlier. For those who made it, the fireworks were most excellent.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 24. Day 24. Buzzing with excitement

I am sure self help books are extraordinarily helpful to some people such as the people who write, publish or otherwise profit from them. Personally, I find them either extraordinarily trite, an exercise in stating the bleedingly obvious or fine in principle  but the principle is never the hard bit, the following it through is.  Take this little gem. This is what dragonflies are supposed to remind us:
  • Spend time near the water
  • Be colorful
  • Enjoy a good reed
  • Zoom in on your dreams
  • Appreciate long summer days
  • Keep your eyes open
  • Just wing it!
Someone is selling post cards with a quite lovely picture of a dragonfly and this piece of inspiration. Of course dragonflies could remind us of a whole different set of things. As always, it is in the way you look at it. When I watched this dragonfly at the City Botanic Gardens today I could have seen these traits:
  • Never stick to anything for very long
  • It's an awesome idea to eat on the fly
  • If you live a year, you are very, very lucky
  • Mosquitoes make a great meal
  • The best way to approach prey is to mash it to a pulp with a powerful serrated jaw
  • What big eyes you have Dragonfly. All the better to see you with my dear
  • Don't bother with foreplay. See a girl you like, amps your forearms around her neck and deliver a vicious bite to subdue her
It puzzles me how I am not writing greeting cards for a living. Poetic, I am. Anyway while a dragonfly may never teach me to spend time near the water nor wing it, I admit I find them hypnotic to watch and most attractive. That's good enough for me.

Friday, January 23, 2015

January 23. Day 23. Flooding rain

Good on you Australia. A reminder as we head into this Australia Day long weekend of why this is known as a land of drought AND of flooding rain. In addition this is also a timely reminder of why I never go long weekend camping. It always rains. Always. Of course I also don't go camping the rest of the year. Fact is, I like my bed and hot water and a flushing toilet.  I also rather like electricity, the Internet, a roof over my head, clean dry clothing, the kitchen sink etc, etc. You get the idea.
When I get away from it all, the "it" I normally want to get away from is work of the house and paid variety.
Never have I wanted to get away from modern sewerage. Hundreds of millions of the people in the world are forced to live without running water and adequate sanitation, I can see no good reason to do it for "fun".
Besides I have plenty of nature I can get up close and personal with in my own back yard (literally).
Frankly I'm pretty sure even the birds around here weren't that fond of camping out today and would have been most grateful for a roof over their heads

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 22. Day 22, Take a closer look

Brisbane City Council, I have my eye on you. This is the last time I take one of your innocuous looking "Community Newsletters" and safely file it in the big yellow bin marked recycling. Next time I will take a closer look. To a "normal" person (or even to me) a newsletter is not the same as a notification of a public consultation. If you actually want to know what people think about a proposal to ban right hand turns into the only access street to an area then the best way to find out might be to send out an official looking notification. A document titled community newsletter which looks just like every other piece of council-branded self publication is a tinsy tiny bit deceptive, in my book. Luckily for me, I did not let this one slip through the cracks. I objected and because that's the type of person I am, today sent an email to 120 of my nearest and dearest neighbours (most of whom I haven't met) and encouraged them to do the same. There may or may not have been a phone call or two thrown in. The reaction was pretty much universal. "They want to do what?!. You're kidding me. How do I object". Oh, and I contacted my councillor with a copy of my objection, as you do. I am not for a moment suggesting that a letterbox drop just before Christmas is a deliberate ploy to limit feedback but as a work colleague of mine is fond of saying "just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean the bastards aren't out to get you"/

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 21. Day 21. Wet, wet, wet

Brisbane, please stop this. This humidity business is killing me. Feeling moist and smelly all the time is most unpleasant for all involved. Air conditioning has been my salvation - or it was until the power bill arrived. Fanning oneself with the Energex bill is a most unsatisfactory alternative just adding a little more fan to the giant fan forced oven that is the city. Even my fur friend is refusing a walk staging a sit down strike at the suggestion. He does manage to get just a bit excited when the humans return from any outside time. You remember the old ad about body odour where friends helpfully left bars of  Palmolive Gold around to drop the subtle hint that you stink? The reaction of a dog when you return from a walk is also a pretty safe indication not that I think anyone needs to be told. In fact you'd have to be a great big drip, bigger even than this water feature at South Bank pictured in big close up, not to know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 20. Day 20. Perfect match

Australians consider themselves to be a sports loving lot. Actually this is a matter of national self delusion. It's not sport itself Australians love, it is Australian sportsmen (yes men, not athletes) competing we love. Or to be more accurate it's winning we love. Let's be honest, winning beats the alternative so you can't blame our collective psyche for that. Still, if it was sport that captured the Aussie attention, the Gabba would not have been almost empty today. And not only that more of the bums on the seats that were occupied would have belonged people born here and not those from India and England. Parochial lot. And no, I'm not being holier than thou on this matter. I was only there because I was given a free ticket. That is another thing Australians love - something for nothing. This, of course, creates a difficult problem. Who to barrack for. Being married to an Englishmen, I normally consider it my solemn duty to support anyone but England. However, after a summer of Australia versus India tests suddenly switching sides also goes against the grain. So what's a girl to do? Simple. Enjoy the atmosphere and remember the age old adage. Winners are grinners.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19. Day 19. Flat out like a lizard drinking

There is a little bit of the late Steve Irwin in most if not all of us. Creatures, especially the ugly scaly ones have a huge attraction. You just want to get up and personal. At least I do and have since a child. Today my belief that I am not a Lone Ranger in this respect was backed up not once but twice. Children love all creatures great and small - especially the prehistoric looking reptilian ones. As we were walking through South Bank this afternoon I stopped to photograph my mates the lizards. There was a little boy who like me was climbing all over the rocks to get closer. He was in equal measure scared and fascinated, edging forwards and then beating a hasty retreat when the lizard moved. Shortly another group of young blokes arrived also interested in the lizards. They even managed to catch one. Oh how I was reminded of all the times I   would catch a lizard just like this and taunt my scaredy cat older sister with it. In hindsight, I feel slightly bad about this but to be fair I was no worse than a catch and release fisherman. The fun was in the catching. As soon as that was done it would be set free to go about its lizard business. The only thing that was hurt was my sister's pride. The older wiser me catches only on camera but I refuse to judge children who just want to touch.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 18. Day 18. Game on

When it comes to speaking sh*t, I am a master. Or more correctly I am the undisputed champion at playing Absolute Balderdash, a game that involves sucking your opponents into believing your absolute crap. The thing that is most surprising about this is the pride I take in this title. Yeah, like I say, full of sh*t. But the real joy in playing Balderdash is not the winning (although that totally rocks) but the amount of fun we always have when we play. The Balderdash tournament is a permanent feature when our family gets together with the Sherwood family. It's always a relaxed gathering of the clans. Today for the first time the get together also involved the first meeting of our fur friends. Rumple and Rosie spent a great deal of time sniffing each others butts, then ignoring each other before deciding that actually the other one was okay. I'm not sure they will be inviting each other over for games night any time soon but when two dogs are happy to eat from the same plate you know they are comfortable in each other's company and that, after all, is what friendship is all about.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 17. Day 17. Up for adoption

I never met a dog I didn't like, although it has to be said some I like more than others. Dogs have a loyalty, an honour and in many cases a personality and intelligence far beyond many humans. So it took more than a little self control to walk into the pet adoption hall at the Convention Centre and walk away empty handed. On paper I was only at the Convention Centre to visit the Lifeline Bookfest in the hall next door but it was impossible not to pop in and see the pets. The only reason one didn't find its way into my backpack (and heart) was that there were only big dogs left and my household is not set up for anything but small and furry. Also, I already have pooch perfection so it would be crazy to mess with that. In the end contented myself with a couple of books from the Bookfest. Cheaper and better all round.

Friday, January 16, 2015

January 16. Day 16. On a roll

One of the more memorable games nights at our place (and there have been many) involved a game of Taboo. The rules are fairly simple. With the countdown timer ticking, you have to give clues to your team members enabling them to guess the word on the card without using any of the taboo words. So if the word is "tennis" you might not be able to use "net", "ball", "racquet" or "court". Anyway, on this night, a slightly brain dead friend of my brother thought "you cut a bit off the end to make a bong" would be an awesome clue to lead my mother to say "hose". As clues go, that's about as useless as it gets. In any event, today I found out another completely awesome reason to cut off a bit of hose - rolling curls in wigs. This piece of knowledge was gleaned at a Behind the Seams (pun intended) look at the costume department of Queensland Theatre Company. QTC is in the final stages of preparation for Boston Marriage. Seeing what is involved in wardrobe in a period comedy is fascinating. It looks effortless on stage - which is obviously the idea - but the reality is far from so. From the height of the seats to ensure the actresses can sit naturally in corsets, no detail is left to chance. Which brings me back to the hose. In the wig section I learned that sections of hose make awesome rollers. The wig master explained that hose sections respond well to heat and are even better than rollers. Well who knew? Not me, obviously. I was as clueless on this point as my mother would have been on the subject of bongs.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 15. Day 15. Horror show

It is one of the most solemn and important duties of every parent - collecting and preserving totally embarrassing photographs of one's darling child to bring out for the 18th or 21st birthday party. To this end I have been either spectacularly successful or an epic failure or perhaps both. True, I have a most awesome collection of photos that some would consider priceless for the aforementioned purpose BUT these photos are some of Drama Teens favourite moments and certainly would not be embarrassing for a microsecond. And not only that, in his circle of dramatic souls nothing less would be expected. This is why the Rocky Horror birthday party was an awesome idea. To celebrate the 40th birthday of the movie (how old does that make me feel) Studio Theatre and Cafe is putting on the movie with a live floorshow and we were in the audience on opening night. And what a huge amount of fun that was.
They will let in any Riff Raff ....
The 50 seat theatre was pretty much packed with tragics people ready to not only do the Time Warp and sing the songs but also recite the dialogue. They had folded newspapers so when Janet sheltered under a broadsheet to get out of the rain, so could they. These people put the fan in fanatics or is it the other way around? In any event this was a room full of square pegs not one bit interested in fitting into society's round hole and I love them for that. My only problem is, if a photo of Drama Teen in suspenders and fishnets isn't going to qualify as the embarrassing 21st photo exactly what will? Perhaps one day I will catch him looking like a chartered accountant or merchant banker. That might mortify him.


With the cast
With his tribe

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 14. Day 14. Feed me

I'm on a diet. There I've said it. Possibly the worst phrase in the English language but I've said it as I do at this time every year. Every year I mean it. Some years I even follow it through. This will be one of these years even though I am fully aware diet is die with a T. The thing is that food rocks and lack of food really sucks. It's been said men think about sex 388  times a day. Amateur I say. In a state of normal food consumption I would think about food at lest 500  times a day. But in diet mode absence makes the heart grow fonder so the longing is pretty much constant. I become like this dusky moorhen chick at South Bank this morning. The whinging to mother duck was relentless. I don't speak fluent water bird but I'm pretty sure the words coming out of its mouth were "feed me". Check out the desperation in its eyes. I get it little one. I really do. Lucky for you, you're still very little and don't look at all meaty or tasty ...