Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 31. Day 91. Paradise

If my life was an animated feature, today's installment would have started with cartoon Susan in a hotel room with a cartoon angel on the right shoulder and a cartoon devil on the other shoulder (either the left or wrong depending on how you look at it). It is possible this animated conscience could be in the form of a cricket depending on which animator designed my inner voice. Anyway, the good voice would say "get up and go for a dawn walk on the beach". Bad voice would say "stay in bed and then pig out on the hotel buffet breakfast". But there's another voice, the voice of the annoying kid in the Old El Paso Taco ad who declares "Why can't we have both?" And so ever the compromiser, I had a dawn walk on the beach then went back to bed rising again just in time to make the breakfast buffet before it closed at 10am. Result. Bacon, scrambled eggs, sausage, porridge and pancakes and bacon provided the power a day exploring the hinterland. Good and bad Susan were both sated.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 30. Day 90. Golden days

I blame the dogs. Since canines changed my life for the better my beach break location of choice moved from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast. Superior dog accommodation and long stretches of dog off leash beaches outweighed theme parks and high rises every day of the week. But you don't have to be silly about it. When my sister and kids and a visiting Canadian friend invited me to join them on the Goldie it would be wrong to look a gift horse in the mouth wouldn't it? We walked around the headland at Burleigh and enjoyed a leisurely late lunch and I admit it was all very nice and most civilised (just don't tell the dogs I said so)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 29. Day 89. Show time

Children make the most awesome audiences, except when they don't. That sounds like an ultimate contradiction but it isn't. Let me explain. A child enters a theatre with no real expectation and an open mind. They watch what is presented to them and react according to their minds and hearts. They don't behave as they think they "should" or according to what is polite. They call it as they see it and they do so with enthusiasm. Either you nail it or you don't. There are no half measures. Today's audience in Concerto for Harmony and Presto at the Cremorne Theatre at QPAC totally got it. The debase and Out of the Box Production is a theatrical masterpiece for kids aged three up which combines theatre, physical comedy, clowning, puppetry and some rather awesone percussion. Harmony's family falls on hard times so she is sent to market to sell the family's beloved gramophone. But just like Jack when his mother  insisted he sell his beloved cow to make ends meet, Harmony had other ideas. She decided to busk. She saw Presto and his junk cart on the adjoining market stall as being a threat to her plan. But then, Hey Presto when they worked together they were able to make beautiful music and a bucket load of much-needed cash to take home to mum. There is, or course, a huge irony that almost none of the children in the audience would have the slightest idea what a gramophone is and therefore why Harmony might be so determined not to lose it might not be immediately apparent. But it wouldn't matter. The colour, the clowning, the simple story and the silliness of it they took to with an obvious and infectious enthusiasm. They laughed, the clapped and they left happy (as did those of us slightly over the three plus age group).

Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28. Day 88. Oh you are naughty, but I like you

Some times you know laughing is wrong but you do it any way. It seems to be part of human nature to be attracted to things we know we shouldn't be.
So it was tonight at a screening of the latest Sacha Baron Cohen flick Grimsby. 
This film is wrong from beginning to end.
It is crass and crude and yet I laughed until I snorted at times even at some of the most questionable toilet humour (and that's a kind description).
It's a bit the same with the ibis at Roma Street Parklands.
These birds are hugely unpopular for good reason. They are like flying rats.
These are the giant scavengers who are likely to arrive uninvited at your picnic and eat all the sandwiches.
There really isn't a lot to recommend them and yet I like them immensely (provided I am not eating a sandwich as the time).
There's a strange grace to these birds despite the fact that they are really, really graceless. And in that they look hilarious. Of course it would be wrong to laugh but ...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 27. Day 87. Egg-cellent

I have standards. These involve such important things as no Hot Cross Buns on any day other than Good Friday (although left overs may be consumed om subesquent days while still fresh enough to do so). In addition Easter Eggs may not be eaten before Easter Sunday. Again, in the unlikely event of left overs, these may be consumed after the event. Such is the importance of this rule, I did not even eat the eggs off the top of yesterday's trifle although that may have been as much to with the fact that the kids got in first as any matter of principle. Anyway, powered by chocolate, I took off in the early afternoon to South Bank where the crowds has gathered to enjoy Easter Sunday determined not to let overcast skies and a few spinkles of rain stop an otherwise egg-cellent day.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 26. Day 86. No trifling matter

My lovely nieces Jess, Amelia and Lucy eye off the trifle
 Sometimes the world speaks to you and today it said "trifle" (it also said chocolate but it does that most days so that doesn't count).
Some years back I bought a trifle bowl on special and I loved it - to death. At Christmas, it collapsed under the weight of custard and cream. Today I found myself back in the same kitchen store and the same model trifle bowl was there once again on special.
Well, you can't ignore that can you especially when you have 12 people coming for Easter dinner and absolutely no idea what to present for dessert?
So now I am once again the owner of a trifle bowl the only decision was what type of trifle. Being Easter really that was no question at all. It had to be chocolate.
Bring in the chocolate sponge roll and thick chocolate custard with chocolate Easter eggs for decoration. Add strawberry jelly and whipped cream and there you have a dessert that had eye popping results.
It also tasted pretty bloody good but I will admit that when scooped out of the delightful trifle bowl and into the dessert bowl it looked like something that should be in a doggy doo bag.
Not that anyone seemed to care. Once it's in your mouth the presentation isn't such an issue and chocolate is chocolate and chocolate is good.

Friday, March 25, 2016

March 25. Day 85. A bright light on a dark day

It will come as a surprise to almost no-one that I think all dogs - and my dogs in particular - are special. Dogs have a unique ability to bring joy and love to just about every situation. Rumple is a champion at this and today he put in a gold medal performance. Today I spent quite a bit of time in the Prince Charles Hospital Palliative Care Unit at the bedside of an old family friend. Mum and I visited twice and on the second trip I took Rumple. There were many things about the experience that made me feel that Palliative Care units still have a way to go to create the best environment for people in their final days and for those who care about them. Having said that, the relaxation of rules to allow dogs into the rooms is a great step forward. Of course not every dog  should be there (I left the crazy Lady Winkle at home for a reason) but a quiet, well behaved dog is a huge asset. Later, I was reminded of another advantage of having a canine companion by your side. On the way home we stopped at the Night Owl where a bloke was practicing his performance skills onthe footpath. Normally I don't talk to men in the street but in a very public place and in the company of a fur friend it seems harmless. He let me take his photo and I promised to send him a copy, a promise I will break unless I can remember his name. Let's just say that perhaps today I have more reason than usual for being a bit forgetful and awesome though he may be Rumple is proving to be of no use in this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24. Day 84. Stone the crows

As I understand it, the correct collective noun for number of crows is a murder. I get that.  Crows at full CRRAWW sound does sound like what I imagine is someone being strangled. But here's the thing, fortunately not many of us will ever hear someone being strangled. Therefore, I suggest a new collective noun is appropriate. My suggestion is a staff meeting of crows. Many people drawing attention to themselves making a lot of unpleasant noises that amount to very little. But perhaps that's just me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March 23. Day 83. Something is needling me

Some people will do almost anything for a free lollipop and by some people I mean me. 
Okay, that's not true. 
I don't even like sugar and food colouring on a stick that much. However, I hate being sick and flu really, really sucks. 
So every year I line up for the employer-provided free flu shot. 
I understand it isn't a cast iron flu-free get out of jail-free card but I figure it is better than nothing. 
Apparently I am not alone. The nurse who administered my jab told me he's been needling about 80 people a day. 
He also confirmed I am the first one of those who has photographed the experience (fortunately for all involved I was too close to get an in focus photo).
As these things go, almost the second I left the medical centre I started coughing. 
This afternoon I started sneezing. 
No, it's not the flu. 
No, it's not vaccination related but yes it's annoying. 
I think I'll have a lollipop as a sweetener.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22. Day 82. Colourful characters

The business of the haircut drives me slightly nuts. Sitting still on the couch I can do. Sitting staring at my reflection under unforgiving salon lights is my idea of torture.  Having said that, the parade of characters is both colourful and entertaining. Today there was Corey. From Corey I learned about a colleague with an unfortunate habit of returning to an ex, a man who is lacking in the area of teeth. Specifically he has none. While Corey was colouring my hair I learned that he had been a competitive swimmer but threw in the towel principally because he really wasn't a competitive person - at least when it came to the pool. Hairdressing competitions, however, brings out his competitive beast. He's working on a creation for an upcoming show. It will be a Carmen Miranda-inspired "do" with a twist in that all the fruit and the fruit basket will be made of hair. He has a couple of the pieces of fruit already done but is now deciding whether the basket will be real or synthetic hair. He prefers working with the real business but synthetic hair has a more consistent texture. He is about to embark on basket weaving lessons. I love colourful characters like that. His vision and enthusiasm is infectious.  For the protection of the innocent there will be no pics of Corey, his fruit basket or the man with no teeth. Instead the colour will come from the post haircut walk through the Roma Street Parklands.

Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21. Day 81. Leap dog

 The wonderful thing about Tiggers
And Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!
But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is
I'm the only one 

So says Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.
Well I've got some bad news for Winnie the Pooh's buddy.
Miss Winkle is a Tigger in puppy clothing.
She's certifiably insane in a nothing's-going-to-stop-me-now sort of way.
Nothing is safe with her around. A bowl of food on the edge of the bench is fair game.
Rumple will sit and beg.
Winkle will leap three times her body height to try and pull it down.
You'll find her on the dining room table or at the computer desk.
She's small enough to squeeze between the glass panes of the pool fence and the bars of the security door but she refuses to let that small stature get in her way when it comes to reaching great heights.
One minute she's sitting quietly on  a seat during a neighbourly visit to Margaret.
Turn your back and she's climbed up on the window sill and in her eagerness to get any of the mince left behind from bird feeding has edged most of her body under the security bars.
Her fearlessness is terrifying.
You'll find her on the edge of the bath or on the bedside table.
She's in the boot of the car or sitting on your shoulder.
Honestly if there was a high jump event for dogs under three kilograms that one would be a gold medal performer.
Naturally Margaret finds the antics of the "little scallywag" to be most endearing. Like a good Grandma, she makes sure her easy tables are free from tablets or other nasties the little one might get her paws on. She pretends to be annoyed at her - but not at all convincingly. The "see you tomorrow" when we leave is a bit of a give away. And tomorrow the door will be open so Rumple and Winkle can make their own way in between the bars of the security grill when we arrive.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 20. Day 80. Remember my name

Remember, remember, remember, remember,
remember, remember, remember, rememberRemember my name. Fame!Fourteen years and counting. Twice a year, every year, I have attended Fame Theatre Company's clubs. And each of those performances ends with the performance company's theme song, Fame. Despite this, I still love that song. It is a song for my generation. But no matter how many times people sing at me about remembering my name, the fact is I will not. The fact is, I am seriously woeful at remembering names. If some of these talented youngsters go on to performing on the world stage - and I'm sure they will - and I say "I remember that name from his/her early days at Fame" it will be a lie. In fact some of those performers in those 14 years of Fame shows have turned up in my classes and I didn't remember them. At least it guarantees I can't play favourites. Remembering names is a skill, an awesome skill or a practiced art, or an innate genetic gift but whatever way it goes it has bypassed me. But then again so are singing and dancing and acting and those skills also passed me by but in all cases I admire those who have it. So I will never tire of watching talented youngsters up on stage giving it a go. I will never tire of the tuneless little things looking out in the audience for mum and dad. The names I might not remember. Those moments I can't forget.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 19. Day 79. Voting hits a snag

 A young woman was interviewed as part of a radio story the other day. She was voting for the first time and said she was not at all interested in the process or politics and would probably just vote the same way her parents did.  hear that all the time - but not in my house. My son has been itching to vote since he knew voting was a "thing" and today he was able to fill in a ballot paper for the first time. We were at the polling station before 8 (not because of desperate aniticpation but because today he also had to indulge another great passion perfomance and theatre call time was 8am). He took all of the How to Vote Cards because he could not because there would be any last minute decision formed on the day. Then with the important business of polling day sausage sizzle out of the way, he joined the voting queue and was one of the first to vote at the Saint Ita's booth. And then with his democratic duty complete it was off to the theatre. I wouldn't be at all surprised if one day that young man's name is on a voting paper, such is his interest in politics. If that happens, I will be at the polling booth before 8am not for the sausage but handing out how to vote cards on his behalf.

March 18. Day 78. Wilting

It's the same every cycle. At this time fatigue sets in, accompanied by a moodiness and a tendancy to want to weep. It's to be expected. The academic semester is now one quarter done and dusted and I'm starting to wilt slightly. Looming assessment deadlines mean growing student stress and that feeds back in a cycle of agro. Everyone is feeling tired and emotional and when that happens no-one does their best work. Which makes you wonder about the Australian senate. Some time yesterday they started debating a piece of legislation. The debate continued for 20 hours straight ending at 1.30pm. Just was well I'm not a senator because at that stage I wouldn't know if the vote was about banning bubble gum or legislating to give free bubble guns to every child (it probably isn't either of those things which is a shame because both are a matter of great national importance). Anyway when Senators start to appear in their PJs in the chamber and I resort to taking pics of grasses as South Bank we know that everyone needs a little lie down

Thursday, March 17, 2016

March 17. Day 77. Where there's smoke

Apparently I am the responsible adult. This means in the event of an emergency or fire alarm sounding at my place of work, as the academic in charge of the tute room it is my job to ensure that everyone leaves the room in  a safe and orderly manner. I take this responsibility very seriously - now. This has not always been the case. There was this one time the fire alarm sounded and as per the manual I told everyone to leave everything and the vacate the building using the stairs. All good,
except for one small detail. I neglected to take care of the blind student in a wheelchair. He was normally accompanied by a carer who stayed during the class. This day the carer left and without help he was stuck. Fortunately it was just a drill. Fortunately the other students behaved better than I did. But I learned my lesson and take emergency evacuation procedures very seriously  - when it is on my watch. Apparently, I am not so compliant when it is someone else's responsibility regardless if it means I risk becoming a human torch. Like everyone else in the Playhouse at QPAC tonight, I did nothing when the fire alarm started blaring. The cast, the band, the ushers, the audience, no-one moved. In the first instance those on stage were living the motto of the show must go on. Later, the performers stopped, then hammed it up and finally left the stage. The smoke detectors continued to do their thing. Sure it was almost certainly a false alarm. Sure the smoke machine had been particularly active and the stage smoke was thick but that would be of cold comfort if there was a fire. Note to self, brush up on that evacuation procedure again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 16. Day 76. The birds and the bees

Humans are rather pathetic when it comes down to it. Most species can walk, feed themselves and take care of themselves when barely "hatched". Humans take years. For males of the species it's more like decades - if they get it at all. Even knowing this, even knowing that six months is when vet science recommends bitches be desexed, I was completely unprepared for our little ball of fluff Miss Winkle to go on heat. And yet the signs were quite clear and just to be sure we consulted our vet. Our baby is now big enough to have babies. Given her size and puppiness I wouldn't even have sat her down and had "the talk" if she was a two-legged family member. She would have been the young lady who thinks she's bleeding to death because dodgy parent doesn't pass on the fact of life. To be fair, she was booked in to be "fixed" - just not until next week. So now she's under house arrest. I was able to go and see the birds and bees at Roma Street parkands today but without the furry photographic assistants. Of course Rumple could have come but being the sensitive new aged male he is he's staying home to support the little woman, or something. Fact is, the two of them are practically inseparable and it would be wrong to mess with that now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15. Day 75. Claws are out

Stupidity I can forgive. Let's face it whether it's nature or nurture there's not much a person can do if their lunch box is one sandwich short. You go hungry. It's not your fault, it's just the way it is. But what is likely to get my claws out and have me fly off the handle is when someone is blessed with an intellectual banquet but fails to use it. That is just so bloody annoying. Most of the world's population would have no hope - none - of attending a university like the one that pays my wages. Even in this country, even in this city the competition for spots in the main degree I teach into is pretty intense. And yet it is an opportunity that is too often squandered. In the past week I have been working with a group to cover the world science festival in Brisbane. Their commitment and enthusiasm has been outstanding. I'd be a happy little Vegemite if that was every student, every day. But there is always a small number who might find committing time to work is more productive than inventing excuses, just saying. Do it right the first time and you won't need to keep clawing your way back. You might even find your soar.

Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14. Day 74. Scale of the problem

Anyone planning on needing resuscitation somewhere in my vicinity take heart - my CPR training was today officially signed off an for another year. I even have a latex rash on my face to prove it. We were warned that if latex intolerance was an issue to cover the faces of the CPR dolls before getting up close and personal. I didn't bother because I have no issue with latex, at least I didn't until today. Now it looks like I was playing an over aggressive game of suck face with the thing rather than trying to breathe life into it. I find CPR in equal measures terrifying and reassuring. It is good to know that you might be able to help in an emergency. But at the trainers share their horror stories I find the level of panic rising. Practicing CPR on an infant is, frankly, terrifying if you let yourself think about it - and so I don't. Instead I distract myself by thinking about other things such as the time my dad performed CPR and mouth to mouth on our dog. As the trainer talks about how deep you need to compress the chest for an adult, compared with a child or an in fact I find myself pondering, "what about a dog versus a puppy"? We learn where the put the defibrillator pads on both adults and children and I wonder whether fur would be an impediment. What can I say, I am an animal lover and I would perform CPR on my fur babies in a heartbeat (of course if there was a heartbeat I wouldn't need to). And then post course I take the dogs for a walk to visit the ducks and lizards at South Bank and Winkle tries to fall in a drain. I didn't need to perform first aid. I hope I never do. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I this regard I say it's much better than no knowledge at all.