Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31. Day 31. Ladies in Black

At the opening night party of the return season of Ladies in Black tonight, Queensland Theatre's artistic director Sam Strong announced that the show was the company's highest grossing show EVER. Shows how little I know. When I saw the show the first time around I really didn't like it. At all. It is quite possible I was the only person who felt this way and it went on to win a large number of awards. My distaste surprised even me because I was so excited about Queensland Theatre Company's (it was a company then) decision to program a piece of musical theatre. I was even more excited that it was an original home grown piece. And that original late 2015 production had one of the most beautiful looking sets and pieces of design ever. But a musical needs to make your heart sing and it didn't. It felt flat and clunky and actually a bit amateurish. Fast forward to tonight. Now I won't claim this is now a personal favourite but now I get what the fuss was about. There have been five cast changes but many of the original cast remain. While every new cast member brings something, I don't see that as the defining difference. It just felt stronger and more confident. Humour that made me cringe first time around made me smile in this outing. It was as though the show now filled its own big boots. There are still elements I didn't take to. But the bits I loved first time around (like the song He's a Bastard) remained solid and many of the less enjoyable moments I warmed to in the new version. So while this isn't an apology, or a backdown or a backflip, it is a change of heart. I stand by my assessment that I had a five out of 10 feeling last time. That's my truth. Tonight I would go as high as eight. And just to be clear I reached this assessment before the opening night party ....

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30. Day 30. You are not alone

Stories abound about dolphins. Some may be mythical, some fanciful but many rock solid documented in fact. These somewhat bizarre but insanely beautiful sea creatures have been shown to save many a soul floundering at sea.
So this morning I was wandering along Red Beach on the Pumicestone Passage side of Bribie Island. The beach is my happy place but I knew as soon as I left the sand it was back to our holiday accommodation to pack up and drive over the bridge and back to reality. I didn't want to leave so I was putting it off, something the dogs were happy to indulge. And then I saw them. There was a pod of dolphins really close to the shore. At first just a fin like something out of Jaws. And then it became less horror film and more theme park dolphin display. I'm not sure exactly how long I stood there but it was more than half an hour. They would disappear for a bit, or I'd take my eyes off them to resume the dog ball toss but them there would be another big splash and the aquatic routine would resume. It was quite a feast for sore eyes and all for an audience of one human and two dogs. It was seriously beautiful and enough to put a spring back into the step. I can't say I loved the idea of returning to work but I did feel like a weight had been lifted. And people wonder why the beach is my sanctuary.

January 30. Day 30.1 A fine line between pleasure and pain

Back in 2008, the Courier-Mail published an opinion piece where I outlined, in what I considered a satirical way, why I thought State of Origin football sucked. It's a wonder my passport wasn't revoked. Apparently being able to call yourself a Queenslander is conditional on supporting the annual interstate rugby league grudge matches. But my care factor is zero, less than zero as it happens because I refuse to believe the pride of our state will ever be decided on a football pitch. So now I am torn. Really torn. What am I to do when the story of State of Origin is turned into a new original piece of musical theatre? How can the ledger be calculated when my distaste for SOO is matched only by love of show tunes? And the equation is further complicated by the fact that a girl has to support a new Australian musical telling a distinctly Australian story. They are so few and far between, it would be wrong not to be singing this one's praises. This one has been penned by Hugh Lunn, a great Queensland-born story teller so there's another tick AND it will premiere at St Laurence's college, the school which educated both my father and my son. Tick. Tick. Tick. At the launch today, Hugh Lunn's vision made perfect sense. He said music was the only way to capture emotion the way sport does. We use the same metaphors when describing sport as stage productions. We talk about the theatre of it and the spectacle and say you couldn't have scripted a better ending. At least so I believe because I'm the only person in Queensland not watching the match. So I might not don a maroon jersey but I will be there when the piece is staged. It wouldn't be sporting not to.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29. Day 29. People in Glasshouses ...

This is the blog you nearly didn't see. I had a seriously large collection of pics which I had ruthlessly edited to reveal the top 10 or so. In addition there was a fine selection of pics of my fur babies ready to be added to their Instagram page if and when the moment required. All had been carefully cropped and corrected where required. I was uploading the blog pics and emailing the Instagram pics. I was ready to go. And then Roger Federer won the Australian Open and I managed to spill a glass of sparkling mineral water on my laptop. The laptop died and the photos went with it. Of course, I had erased the originals from the camera after exporting them to the laptop. I do this every day because I take so many pics this practice protects me from a full memory card. It offers no protection from a water damaged laptop. So for 24 hours all you saw if you came here were two iPhone pics. Then the IT people called and said they turned the laptop on and it worked. If I wasn't so happy I would have screamed in disbelief. Corrosion my still set in but the pics from Day 29 live to see the light of day.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 28. Day 28. Young at heart

There's this not very original but highly applicable saying "insanity is contagious. You catch it from your kids.". Yep they will drive you mad. And that's not even the worst of it. Grey hairs, wrinkles and an almost permanent state of sleep deprivation is part of the job description. But here's the thing. They both add years to your chronological age but at the same time keep you young. They do this because playing with a child brings out your inner child. It just does. Today we were all rolling around in the shallows of Pumicestone Passage with my friends' three-year-old  like we all were three-year-olds. How could you not? And the questions they ask and things they say keep you mentally agile as well. So there we are eating fish and chips after a beach romp when the little one announces that Jesus lives in her bottom; a somewhat strange comment considering we were talking about tomato sauce at the time. Keeping a straight face and coming up with the right response to that is a challenge no parenting book prepares you for. It would be fair to say if there is a parenting manual with a notation on the correct response to that exact phrase, what was said probably bore no relation to it. Honestly kids do make you laugh even if some days you only laugh because the alternative isn't very attractive.

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27. Day 27. Take what you can get

I am not an expert on the dietary needs of the kookaburra so I took to a reliable source I found on the Internet which, as we know, is always 100% accurate. The site said "Kookaburras aren’t selective eaters. Their diet consists of snakes, lizards, rodents and the odd small bird, but they live primarily on different insects and invertebrates". Wait a minute. Snakes, rodents blah, blah. Where does it say the bread roll? Today I saw not one but three kookas grazing on a bread roll. Sometimes I guess it's a case of take what you can get. Humans can do much the same thing. Earlier today I took off my rather nice thongs (yes I did just use the words nice and thongs in the same sentence) at the beach entrance. Then Winkle did a poo and I scooped it up in a bag and left her little gift on top of the thongs to dispose of later. We walked up the beach and when we returned the poo was still there but the thongs were not. Seriously, who steals a girl's thongs? In my mind the main purpose of a pair of thongs is to negotiate the car park to the beach or the hot sand on the beach path. That's it. Everyone leaves them at the end of the beach path. It's a tradition. It's a right. It's not some charity box. And they were my "good" thongs.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26. Day 26. A very happy Australia Day

Bribie Island and I have A LOT of history. It goes like this. I returned from England after a two-year sojourn the day the Daily Sun closed its doors in Brisbane. There were unemployed journalists everywhere. I was broke, as you would be after two years living in the UK. But I was thrown a lifeline. The Sunshine Coast Daily, the newspaper I had worked on before heading overseas, had a job in its most southern outpost on Bribie Island. It was without doubt considered the least prestigious in the stable but a job is a job and I figured I'd be back in the main newsroom in no time at all. I was in the Bribie office for years, by choice. It was the weirdest job ever. I was the only person in the office. Not the only journalist the only person. So if a person came in to pay a bill, I took their money and wrote s receipt. If someone rang to complain about anything I took their call. And for a while I thought this may well be punishment for being a bad girl in a past life. And then I got the hang of it. I was my own boss. I set my own hours. I choose my own stories and I got to know the community really, really well. It was hyperlocal journalism before anyone had invented the term. And not only that it was the only job I had where I really loved coming to work. To be clear, I am talking about the drive, not the lure of the job. When you get the first glimpse of the Bribie Island bridge and Pumistone Passage you really can't help but feel your spirits soar. And then I was summonsed to head office to take over as Chief of Staff at the Sunshine Coast Daily. I became one of those estranged friends. You maintain you are still friends but you never make the effort to keep in touch. But when seeking dog friendly accommodation for a long, long weekend a property on Bribie Island popped up. And now I'm here and the dogs are here and Drama Teen is here and we are happy. Charles has to work. Boo Hoo for him. Let the mental health break begin.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25. Day 25. Going off with a bang

 The other day I was telling to my 89-year-old neighbour Margaret that I would be off to the cricket that night. She snorted dismissively and told me, not for the first time, that she hated cricket.
She said she had played Cricko a far more interesting game because you had to run every time you hit a ball in front of the crease. None of this boring just padding the ball she said, demonstrating what she meant.
Now I love test cricket but I can see why others might agree with that assessment. Twenty 20 cricket is not the same animal. That night, in 40 overs, just short of 400 runs were scored. There was not a dull minute, Indeed there was not a dull second - and that was before you added the fireworks, dancers, fire cannons, blaring music, kiss cam, Mexican waves and empty chicken buckets on heads everywhere. Tonight's game was a little lighter on runs but just as exciting. For one it was a do-or-die semi final and for two after the 20 overs a side were complete the scores were tied. That means a Super Over. Just one over per side and the winner takes it all. This is nail biting stuff. We lost. In fact I must be a bad omen as we have lost most of the games I have attended. But I've always left the ground happy. I might have no fingernails, no voice and no hearing plus a big hole in my pocket from the price of food but I'm always happy for the experience.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24. Day 24. Games people play

We really are spoilt for choice in terms of local dog parks we could frequent and yet we pretty much always end up at the same one. There are many reasons for this. It is the closest but also the quietest. Most times we are the only ones there. For many dog owners that would be a negative but my dogs consider themselves mostly human and most of the time don't like to be bothered by other dogs. They really like each other's company. This means I don't need to make idle dog chit chat with dog owners if I'm having a day where I prefer to be lost in my own thoughts. And I like the view. It has a lovely outlook over the Eleanor Schonell Bridge and the university of Queensland and you often get a rocking good sunset. Plus it is right next door to a very heavily used basketball practice court. If the dogs aren't up to much I can watch the boys playing a basketball game. And there are lots of trees and lots of birds in the trees. Perfect really.

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23. Day 23. One for sorrow

 When I was in high school a girl in my class ended up in hospital with a broken leg because of a magpie. Technically it was the car that broke her leg not the bird but she was so traumatized trying to escape a swooping magpie that she walked into the path of the car.  This may be why since the 16th century magpies have been considered a bad omen. One for sorrow, the rhyme starts. So if I was superstitious I would say this explains why I have been feeling like I have been engulfed by a great big ball of sadness today given that the total number of magpies I encountered was one. But let's be honest. I have been feeling like crap all day and I only saw the magpie late this afternoon.  But that's the thing about superstitions. They are not rational. If you are a believer you can make the facts fit. The FACTS are the magpie did me no harm unless you count eating stale rice crackers from my mum's back deck. It may even have done me a favour given the age of some of the food in my mother's pantry. I can't find any proper explanation for the black dog feeling but it has nothing to do with a black bird, of that I'm pretty certain.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22. Day 22. In a spin

I'm too old for this. Someone of my age and (im)maturity should know better. And yet I woke up with that spinning head, dry mouth, queasy stomach feeling that says last night I got up to no good. Actually last night was great. This morning, not so much. It's true, I've felt a lot, lot worse in days gone by but not recently. It was tempting to hide all day but I decided I needed to try and push through, at least a bit. And my friend Tiania refused to let me get away with that. She lured me out of the house to the University of Queensland lakes for a picnic. It was a beautiful peaceful Sunday thing to do on a day much milder than in recent weeks.  And if the happy giggles of a three-year-old don't make you feel better nothing will. I'm not sure watching her and her dad playing swinging games is exactly what my body needed but still the smiles were infectious. And my dogs always love Molly's company because she insists on feeding them. So we'll call that a win. We agreed on future picnics. I made a deal with myself to behave the night before.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21. Day 21. For crying out loud

In aviation it's English.  In judo it's Japanese. Tennis relies on French. Esperanto never really took off but I contend there is already an international language.
If you read tone and body language, words are not really necessary.
I mean, who hasn't watched a couple in a car next to you and just known there's a full blown barney going on even if you can't hear  word (if normal people don't do this, you will have to take my word that it is true. I do like to indulge in a bit of people watching). And in the botanic gardens with the dogs this morning I knew exactly which birds were whinging at their mums for food, which were calling for their young and which were saying "back off."
You just know. The problem is not what's being said. It's more who's actually listening.

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20. Day 20. Bucket loads of fun

Smart ways to deal with the Brisbane heatwave: Air conditioning, a swimming pool, cool beverages, ice baths.
Dumb ways to deal with the Brisbane heatwave: Putting a bucket designed for fried chicken on your head, sitting beside giant exploding open flames, packing into a sell out stadium.
All of which means there are about 35,000 dumb people in Brisbane today and my family are included (although we stopped short of the fried chicken buckets).
The thing is a Twenty20 cricket match is a bucket load of fun. It's fast and furious and about as far removed from the gentleman's game as can be imagined. I like Test Match cricket but I do understand it's not everyone's cup of tea. My guess is it is not even a beverage of choice for a great number of those in the ground tonight. This version of cricket is like the game on steroids for those with ADHD. There was loud music, fireworks, dancing, kissing, bongo drum playing and a huge party atmosphere. Oh yeah and there were actually cricketers out on the pitch smashing just short of 400 runs in 40 overs. That's good entertainment in anyone's money. But here's the thing. There are some conventions of the gentleman's game I wouldn't mind seeing applied here. For instance: the bucket on your head might get you on TV but take it off during play so people behind you who want to watch the game can do so
 Also, protocol has it that you don't move from your seat during an over. A little more of that wouldn't be bad. I love the party but it's the contest between bat and ball that actually brings me to the stadium. With just a little planning everyone can have both. Still it was a great spectacle even if the home team lost.
 We all walked away happy we went and relieved no-one in our party felt the need to wear a chicken bucket.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19. Day 19. Nocturnal activities

There are things that go bump in the night around here. Actually it's not just bump but also thump and bang and a whole pile of sound effects reminiscent of the 1966 Batman series with Adam West. Possums may be small but they are extremely noisy determined little things and they drive my dogs crazy. They employ the same tactic as the cat next door. Sit just out of reach and watch the chaos you cause. The problem is separating the barking dogs and the sheltering possums involves dragging the dogs indoors and locking all doors and windows near the deck. So face charges for noise nuisance or die of heat exhaustion in a sweltering airless hot box. And all because of a small and kind-of-cute native animal. It wouldn't be so bad if it was a one-off.  But it's like the back deck is a diner on Route 66. All the possum traffic from the street to the gully behind the house stop here for a bit of a pit stop. The dogs, like attentive wait staff, linger around the table. But no-one's getting a tip here.