Friday, September 30, 2016

September 30. Day 274. Going with the flow

Woe is me. The tortured artist forced to endure a whole pile of sh*t for my art. Okay, technically I am not an artist and technically I am not really forced to do anything but the sh*t part is real. This morning I decided to try something different. I love a rapid shutter speed freezing movement in its tracks. It's one of my stock shots but today I decided to go for a long exposure. Yes, I turned to camera button to the great, big, scary M. That means only one thing - a tripod. Thankfully I have  tripod but it was at home and I wasn't. Plan B. Rest the camera on some other solid structure such as a hand rail. It worked fine except for one small detail - a pile of poo. The only thing worse than stepping in poo is getting it all over your hand. Charming. At least the camera remained poo free and I achieved the water effect I was after.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 29. Day 273. You Little Beauty

Take a child to the theatre and see the wonderment in their eyes
Sarah Hampson who plays Sleeping Beauty
Drama Teen visits his friends in the cast of Sleeping Beauty
  Fun fact. In 2011, for the first time the number of visitors to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre passed one million for the first time. Last year that figure rose to 1.4 million bums on those rather comfy QPAC seats. The performing arts are not just a way for an elite few to fill in a few hours. The performing arts are big business. But it's not just that. Getting young bums on those seats has real benefits and not just $$$ in the pockets of performing arts companies. It's an unfortunate fact that in an increasingly crowded curriculum things such as trips to the theatre are considered a luxury and often a luxury reserved for the wealthier schools. But let's look at the research. A study of 25,000 students undertaken by UCLA's Graduate School of Education no less found that consistent participation in the performing arts not only improved test scores but it also created students more involved in community service and less likely to drop out of school. Theatre brings stories to life. Theatre is a living breathing example of the power of the possibility and of the imagination. It builds confidence. It makes the soul sing. Well that's how it works for me and I'm not the only one. Seattle Children’s Theater artistic director Linda Hartzell told education.com "theater makes for smarter, braver, human beings. Theater helps connect the head to the heart.” Having taken my son to literally hundreds of live theatrical productions in the past 15 years I can say I speak from some experience when I tell you that if you take a child to the theatre you will see their eyes light up. I saw it today when I watched the little people file out of the audience of Fame Theatre Company's performance of Sleeping Beauty. I can almost guarantee had I been around to listen to the conversation in the bus, train, car or ferry on the way home it would have been equally enlightening. Parents will have found not just found a way to stop the whinging for a bit in the school holidays. They will have opened a window to another world. That's what theatre is. Here endeth the lesson. Excuse me while I go and book a seat in a few Broadway shows.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28. Day 272. Going swimmingly

Talk about diving in the deep end. I'm not a great one for putting myself forward and applying for things but some opportunities seem too good to just let pass you by even if they seem impossibly out of reach. So I saw this course about media innovation being run in Washington and New York, only two of the world's greatest journalism hubs. I put in an application and IT WAS ACCEPTED. Holy Crapolie. In a bit over six weeks I'll be in the US visiting such prestigious centres of journalism as the New York Times and the Washington Post to fill my brain with the possibilities for a bright journalism future for the graduates of tomorrow. Exciting stuff. This, of course, means so much to do so little time. So I immersed myself in a great big bundle of marking until I was gasping for air and then decided it was time to hit the beach. I had no trouble finding recruits to join me. My two love the beach and my sister's dog Shadow came along for the ride. Nudgee Beach will never feature in Lonely Planet unless they bring out a dog version. But the dogs always seem to be every bit as excited about a trip there as I am about a US tour. And their dream break doesn't involve cattle class air travel or an investment of serious $$$$.
They come home exhausted and energised in equal measures. I rather think I'll be just the same. You have to throw yourself in and get a bit dirty  if you want to make the most of the experience. I just hope I return home as inspired and refreshed but hopefully not smelling quite as bad.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27. Day 271. Children and animals

I could say my life was highly structured, organised and predictable ... but not with a straight face. Others might get more set in their ways as they grow older. Life has taught me to be more flexible (in a mental but not a physical sense obviously. That's getting less flexible by the second). So when I went to bed last night I thought today would be marking interrupted by a media opening of Holey Moley Golf Club. This morning, the cough was back and the golf was cancelled. And then I got a call asking if a spot of child care could be possible. A bundle of boring or  a charm of childhood. No competition. I also know which one the dogs would vote for. Our little visitor had not only as much energy as the fur friends but their love of eating Schmackos was matched only by her love of feeding them. And nothing makes an statement at the cafe or the dog park like dogs dressed like superheros and a girl dressed like a big cat.

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26. Day 270. Cry like a baby

I'm a strong believer in what-goes-around-comes- around or, if you prefer, karma.
My dogs love to chase birds.
Actually, strictly speaking that's not true. The dogs love the concept of chasing birds but rarely get beyond barking at them because mostly they are safely on a leash.
When on a beach or in an off leash area they give it a red hot go but birds have an obvious advantage. They can fly. Still a barking dog would be a bit threatening to a small bird even when the dogs are as fluffy and nonthreatening as my two. Today, a bit like a Hitchcock film, the birds had their revenge. We were walking to the duck pond at South Bank. The noisy miners were especially noisy. And then on mass they started swooping at the dogs. It seemed seriously out of character. And then I saw it. A fluffy little miner chick was sitting in the relatively low branches of a strelitzia. It was quite well hidden and sheltered but it was also making a fair bit of noise drawing attention to itself. The adult birds had set up a perimeter squad. Humans seemed to know the secret password to enter. Dogs did not. And who could blame them? There is nothing more fundamental to just about every species and that is a determination to protect the young and vulnerable. It's what we all do but hear this noisy miners. You protect your young but don't  blame me if I protect mine. OK? 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25. Day 269. Sun day. Fun day

 I'm relatively sure we are not the only family who find that a billion competing commitments sees very little time left for designated "family time".
We have made a renewed commitment to Sunday being funday. This usually mean brunch or a family movie night. Last Sunday we did both but today was brunch at our favourite Lift cafe just down the road.
We can walk there, it's dog friendly and the gluten free waffles are pretty special. Perhaps it was the sugar hit from the milkshakes or smoothies but the boys were in a slightly crazy mood this afternoon.
Drama Teen started it by trying to water bomb me.
He dropped the bomb and wet himself. Then like father, like son Charles decided this looked like a great deal of fun and started filling up balloon bombs. He missed too but I suppose that wasn't the point. The dropping of the bomb and not the target. And it's all in good fun plus a little water never hurt anyone on a warm Spring day.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 24.Day 268. Going off with a bang

Brisbane is quite the party princess; a sparkling, shiny, dazzling party girl. And good old BrisVegas' biggest annual do is the Brisbane Festival. It's the sort of festival that refuses to go out with a whimper but with a great big bang as befits the princess she is. I have a childlike love of Riverfire. I love how it brings the community together. I love the sense of expectation but most of all I love the skies exploding in a sea of colour. And I love how it celebrates the river. I also love that I live close enough to walk home ....

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23. Day 267. Good Mornin'. Good Mornin' to you

Good Mornin', Good Mornin'. We've marked the whole night through. Good Mornin. Good Mornin to you.
My apologies to the cast of Singin' in the Rain which opens in Brisbane tonight. It's a weird thing. When you have been up all night solving the problems of the world with a tap dancing super stud, sleep deprivation is a non issue. When it is university assignments robbing you of shut eye, the equation is all together different. So I may or may not have been Captain GrumpyPants when I walked through South Bank this morning. In truth I can not blame marking alone (but I totally will). Three Brisbane Festival shows in three nights was another commitment this week but one I do not resent for a second (where I resent every second of marking). I love the festival and feel just a little bit sad that there is only three days to go. It is a wonderful celebration of the arts and everything that is awesome about Brisbane. And might I say pink hats off to the festival organisers, this year's program was a triumph.  But now that it's all but over we can all get some sleep ... well I could if it wasn't for the never ending pile of marking ... and the opening of Singin in the Rain.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22. Day 266. Holy Moly

Phone calls at 5.30am are never a good thing. They just aren't. I mean, to the best of my knowledge the Lotto office keeps regular hours. The Nobel prize committee may operate on Swedish time and ring at all hours but as that is never going to be a problem I'm faced with my default is fearing the worst when the mobile buzzes at stupid o'clock. Seeing my elderly neighbour Margaret's name light up did nothing to ease the anxiety, although in my sleepy haze I did think that at least she was still able to pick up the phone so it could be worse. She'd had a fall, she said. She was on the floor unable to get up. We've been there before and I know what to do. Grab the spare key, find someone able to help lift and go to the rescue. It played out as it has too many times before except for two things. This time there was a nasty big hole in the wall where her head struck and this time she said she thought she needed a panic alarm. Seize the moment, I thought. As soon as it was office hours I was back with the laptop and the phone. I took the dogs as backup and while Rumple licked her feet we ordered an alarm. I even paid for it (she will reinburse) because Margaret doesn't believe in fancy modern things like credit cards. I mean, she doesn't believe in toasters, kettles, radios or microwaves either and I learned long ago there's no point in arguing the toss. You just work around it and wait for her to decide it's her idea and then pounce. The alarm will be with her on Monday. It won't stop the falls. It will offer some comfort.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 21. Day 265. Food for thought

There was this story on the radio this week about crows. Apparently crows in a couple of different parts of the world have learned to create tools. The New Caledonian crows, for instance, have been recorded creating hooks to remove food from hard to reach nooks. Researchers say they are the only birds believed to be tool makers. Frankly I am only a bit surprised that birds and not just higher order mammals have the ability. Anyone who has watched birds faced with an eating challenge will know they are both innovative and determined. Today it was the noisy miners at a cafe at the Gardens Point campus. I don't often visit GP but a meeting today took me away from Kelvin Grove. There was lunch provided. You can't argue with that. But before the meeting I had another meeting with a student at a cafe. It was raining. actually, it was bucketing down. Everyone, including the birds, was sheltering under the covered eating area. The humans were ordering and paying for food and coffee. The birds were just stealing everything they could get their beaks into. And they were showing a great deal of creativity in filling their bellies. I love them for that (in fact, I may have borrowed some of their techniques at the buffet table just a few minutes later at the catered lunch meeting). And neither of us was actually bothering too much with "proper" tools.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 20. Day 264. Driven to distraction

I know plenty of people with furry fur friends who conduct home hairdressing services. The mere thought makes me a little pale.  My dogs are adorable but on the squirmy side. The distance between the delightful facial hair and the eyes is far too close to be a margin of error I'm prepared to accept. There are risks that you accept and try to mitigate and those you just avoid. So I outsource grooming. They don't love it but they put up with it and I know this is one of the instances where you have to be cruel to be kind. No trimming. No seeing. It's a job that needs to be repeated every six weeks conducted by the lovely people at Grand Designs Dog Grooming. Today was that day. It's a six hour process that makes my grooming needs seem amateur. I'm always sure to be ready to pick them up right on 3pm. I was on my way there when a car drove up my arse. It was hard enough to give me a serious jolt and a serious scare but not enough to damage either car. The male driving the other car was incredibly apologetic. He said he had been distracted for just a second which is, of course, all it takes. It can happen to anyone and that's the point. I don't blame him at all. I do, however, blame the drivers of at least eight cars that sped through the zebra crossing when I stood there with the freshly groomed dogs waiting to cross. The thing is cars are mobile killing machines if not handled with care and drivers who don't see a woman with two dogs standing at a zebra crossing are not handling the vehicle with care. That worries me immensely. Fortunately we eventually all managed to make it home safely and the dogs look awesome.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19. Day 263. Cold snap

It's said there's no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing choices. Perhaps so but sometimes the clothing choices are forced upon us. After what might be considered a false summer, it was cold and wet today, at least in Brisbane spring terms. The sensible clothing choice would include little visible flesh. That's all very well but if you are an indigenous dancer performing in traditional dress to an international delegation, the dress mainly involves body paint. There's not much in the way of protection from the elements. The rugged up observers watched in warmth and interest. Even my dogs who happened to be on campus with me today had more on. It is just another example of suffering from your art and being warmed by the reactions of those enjoying what you do. It's not really a substitute for a coat but it's sure better than nothing.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 18. Day 262. Questions. Questions

 There's no such thing as a stupid question, or so I tell the journalism students. Often I add that the stupid question is the one you don't ask. I now know I am wrong. Very wrong. Drama Teen wanted to attend Oz Comic-com at the Convention Centre today. He was interested in the panel sessions with Game of Thrones actor Daniel Portman who plays Podrick Payne and Harry Potter actor  Devon Murray who plays Seamus Finnigan. Seemed interesting enough so the camera and I tagged along. Even though I have never watched an episode of Game of Thrones I asked a question inquiring about his reaction to the controversy surrounding the rape in the most recent season. You don't need to be a fan girl to be up with the news. Portman said that while he would never condone sexual violence against women, the reaction seemed odd given all the outrageously violent and inappropriate things that happen the GoT universe. He listed many of them. The questions continued until one woman raised her hand. She said she didn't watch Game of Thrones and had no idea who he was or anything about the character he played. Her question? Can you tell me about your character? Eyes rolled everywhere in the room. That is why Google was invented. Portman said he played The King ... no John Snow ... no Daenerys ... no Cersei ... and while the audience watched awkwardly he confessed he played Podrick Payne. Of course, that meant nothing to her because she didn't watch the show. Pointless and embarrassing. That's the other rule of interviewing I talk to students about: find out as much as you can about the subject so you don't look like an idiot. At the Harry Potter panel I was in more familiar territory. This time I asked about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Rather than just answering he asked me what I thought as well so we ended up having a bit of a chat about whether it would make a good 9th film. We agreed it would be an awesome stage production. Had I not actually read the script I would have looked like a bit of a goose. It was all a bit of fun. It's not that I've become an immediate convert to the fan convention but I found it to be an interesting experiment and an enjoyable way to fill in a few hours on a wet Sunday.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17. Day 261. Playing dress ups

 I am fully aware that some people (by which I mean just about everyone) find dressing up your dogs as a superheros is either tragic or sad or possibly both. Fact is, I don't care. I'm not hurting my dogs or anyone else so I am certainly not going to apologise. I am, however, selective when it comes to exactly where I take the super dogs. A walk past the Convention Centre when Oz Comic-con is on is a bit of a no-brainer. They were an instant hit. These people love to dress up and yes they judged me: their verdict was awesome. Rumple, normally the quieter less sociable of the pooches, was in his element. He was patted and petted and photographed with all of the colourful characters on show. There was probably no point in telling him that a dog should not suck up to a woman dressed up as Cruella de Vil ....

Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16. Day 260. Thank You for the Music

 A friend's 14-year-old daughter confessed to me the other day, in a slightly panicked fashion, that she had no idea what post school career she wanted to follow. Relax, I told her. At 14 you're not supposed to know what you want to do when you grow up. Hell, I'm still trying to work that out. Seriously, I said, few 14-year-old have a plan and those who do will probably change it a million times before they have to put it into fruition (and very likely many times after that). And then I thought about the teenager I know most intimately, the young man I refer to as Drama Teen. He was no more than four when he decided he wanted to be on the stage. It's a passion that has never waivered. Not once. Not for a second. My young man has been steadfast in his determination to pursue a theatre career and since the age of five the Fame Theatre Company has been  a large part of that plan. It has served him well but that journey is nearing its conclusion. The theatre's rules mean you can stay for one year after you finish school and that deadline is rapidly approaching. After tonight there will be two more concerts, then tears and then that chapter is closed. It will be a bitter sweet moment. Sweet because it is extraordinary to see just how far he's come in those 14 years but sad because goodbyes always are especially when it involves a group that has been such a large part of your lives for so long. But that's a problem for December. For now it's all sweet. I mean, what mother wouldn't delight in seeing her young man performing an especially camped up Village People medley? And any concert that finishes with a bit of Abba's Thank You For the Music gets a big tick from me.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 15. Day 259. Hungry/Angry

Hangry according to the urban dictionary is when you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. An amalgam of hungry and angry. I suffer from a variation. Humpy. I don't get angry but when the blood sugar drops I become irrationally grumpy and irritable. I don't do hungry (I don't do tired either. That also makes me grumpy). At lunch time today I found myself at Newstead House (well actually in the street right next to the house). I was waiting to collect Drama Teen but due to some misunderstanding he'd already left. The minutes ticked on. The volume of the grumbling increased (in my stomach as well as in the internal monologue). I walked through the gardens of the house and the birds were also grumbling - really, really loudly. There was this ham sandwich which had been abandoned. The noisy minors were being especially noisy. At least it drowned out the stomach noise. And then I found out Drama Teen was already at home. I was out of there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14. Day 258. Baby love

 You know what it's like when you are watching a horror film?
You need to watch but you can't. There's this thing where you peek between your fingers or watch from behind a cushion in an internal battle between watch and don't watch, or perhaps that's just me.
But it's not just horror films. The truth is drama can be even more difficult probably because it deals with the sort of stuff that inflicts real families far more often than maniacs with machetes. So it was with Offspring, the series finale tonight. The trailers had set it up so the anxiety meter was at crisis point, a setting which seemed not all that unreasonable given that Offspring made the almost unprecedented decision to kill off Patrick at the end of season four. And then there was this bit were the troubled teen Brodie goes into labour. The baby is clearly in distress and isn't breathing when he's born. It's fiction but I wanted to cry ... and then he took a breath. Because that's the thing, the only thing new parents really want and that's a baby who is well. Just hours earlier at South Bank I'd met baby Athena. She's seven weeks old and today was allowed to leave the hospital to experience the great out doors for the first time. For now there's still an oxygen tank in the pram but her parents hope she'll be allowed home in the not too distant future. The little one whose name comes from the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice and, surprisingly, mathematics, was clearly enjoying her first taste of sunshine and even opened he eyes to check out what the dogs were up to. Now if that wouldn't bring a lump to your throat I don't know what would. Her mum says she's like to get Athena a dog but first things first get her safely home and and see how things go. I wish them all health and happiness (and a dog when the time is right).