Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 30. Day 120. Baby steps

There is nothing, nothing, more adorable than a sleeping baby. A new-born is a pink, kissable, squeezable bundle of cuteness. Those chubby fingers, those tiny toes - it is just too much. But let's be clear about one thing ... I don't want one (which is just as well given my age). But even if biology wasn't destiny, I still wouldn't want one. I am more than happy to cuddle, to babysit to love from a distance but just watching my friend with a three-year-old and a three-week-old is frankly exhausting.  And I'm already exhausted. And then when I hear about the nocturnal activities at their place I need a little lie down. And there's the problem. Because we talk about sleeping like a baby as though that's the best, most peaceful thing in the world. Sure in short, often very short, stretches. I am fond of saying laughingly "I slept like a baby ... I woke every two hours screaming". Not all that funny if that's the reality in your house. Of course, you blink and they're teenagers. But I've already taken those baby step and I have no desire to retrace them, thanks very much.

April 29. Day 119. Take a big breath in

 I've been watching 13 Reasons Why. That implies it gives 13 answers. Perhaps, but it raises about 13 billion questions. For those who have missed the memo, this is a Netflix teen drama about the suicide of a teenager. It's controversial. It's smart. It's powerful and it makes me feel ill and angry and sad and helpless often all at the same time. I don't know whether to send a thank you letter to Jay Asher who wrote the book or protest outside  Netflix. Youth suicide is a tragedy that can not be ignored. But youth suicide is also a contagion and anything that could "promote' it to vulnerable youth can not be tolerated. Which is why I am so conflicted. Because what I see is a program that rips at my heart because I see the pain in those left behind. No mother of a teenager could watch this and not be shattered by it. Others may take home something else. What it does scream at me loudly is that we need to take better care of each other, we need to reach out to our young people. We need to look after ourselves. I do not pretend for a second to even start to know how you address these things. I do know, however, that many are turning to Eastern traditions  and practises such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation to help relieve stress and find direction. Certainly there seemed to be a great willingness to join in a mindfulness and meditation session as part of the annual Buddha's Birthday celebrations at South Bank today. I didn't join in. I probably should of but I felt I didn't have the time. My mind has already moved on to what I needed to do next. In short I just failed Buddhism 101. We should live in the moment and not in the past or the imagined future. These would be things worth trying to teach teenagers. Calls to ban the drama or even ban talk of the drama as some schools have done seems to miss the point. This is not someting you can hide under a Bandaid and if you don't see it then it's not a problem. Wouldn't it be better to try and equip teens to better cope with the sh*t life throws at them? Techniques such as mindfullness sure as hell can't hurt. So let's all take a big breath in .....

Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28. Day 118. Old enough to know better

 Ok, I'm not one to talk and no-one should take dietary advice from me. In fact poor diet resulting in excess weight is almost certainly behind my chronic fatigue and the need for a sleep apnea study today. Bizarrely that is also the reason I had to have the gel nail polish painted on for the Logies a week ago, ground off today. I'd even managed to keep it looking awesome but the finger sensor needed for the study is impacted by the polish. So off to the nail salon. But back to the diet. I may not eat what I should and certainly not in the quantity I should but at least I know what s good diet would be. My neighbour Margaret is frustratingly different. She has Type 2 diabetes. Her diet should be quite restrictive. As the person doing her shopping, I know she is largely restricting herself to things she shouldn't be eating. Today's list included a large bag of Allen's mixed lollies, Iced Vo Vo biscuits. There was also mince for the birds (which I'm almost certain they shouldn't be eating either). As I was about to leave she mentioned something I might look out for when next at the supermarket. She was in the market for those biscuits that were half topped with chocolate. I normally bite my tongue but I really thought I should say something. "Should you be eating those?" I asked. "I only eat one at a time," she said. Yeah, one at a time, 24 times a day I thought channelling my inner glutton. She then told me that a Tommy Turkey (her name for the scrub turkeys that live in our street) had quite rudely come in her front door. Well, who could blame him? All the other birds in the street treat Margaret's house as a fly through restaurant.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 27. Day 117. Three for the price of one

The opening night celebrations of Once in Royal David's City
 It's a review time. I don't have any steak knives to throw in but you will get three reviews, three podcasts AND a bonus video all for one very low price of - nothing. I know, right? How does she do it for the price?

Once in Royal David's City by Queensland Theatre

At the opening night celebrations of Once in Royal David's City, Queensland Theatre's Executive Director Sue Donnelly  (left) described the play Sam Strong has chosen for his directorial debut for Queensland Theatre as "a word of mouth" piece. I suspect what she meant was that playwright Michael Gow could not have chosen a title more ambiguous or difficult to market had he tried. Given that Gow, a former Queensland Theatre Artistic Director was in the audience she may have thought it best left unsaid. But I'll say it: The title tells you nothing and not in a click bait kind of way more in a click off kind of way. It doesn't tell you that it's the kind of production that will make our eyes leak. It doesn't tell you that it's the kind of production that will make you want to hug your nearest and dearest and ponder what you hope will never be left unsaid. There's nothing in there to suggest Brecht or staring death in the face when the rest of the world is looking at the Christmas turkey and wondering if it is possible to eat one more roast potato. Nor does it tell you that you just might snort with laughter or wonder whether God exists or the class war is over. And that's all in 100 minutes (although the processing will doubtless be with you for a lot longer than that). So the word from my mouth is stunning. 4.25/5 stars
Once in Royal David's City Continues at The Playhouse QPAC until May 14
 Listen to our podcast here
Or watch a scene from the media briefing

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26. Day 116. The white sheep of the family

 When Rumple was being puppy trained and he did something well I would say "Yes. Advanced." It was a standing joke based on the fact that every proud parent thinks her little one is gifted. Of course, I was right. Rumple graduated top of his puppy class. Winkle was a puppy school drop out. She's also a pretty smart puppy but she's determined to use her power for evil not good. She's everything Rumple is not.  Today I was outside and Winkle was cross she wasn't with me. She had most of her body out under the balcony rails to prove her point. We went in. She stole a roll of toilet paper. Seconds later she was executing one of her signature moves - launching herself on Rumple. He is so patient with her. They adore each other but I'm pretty sure there are times when he wishes she'd just take a chill pill. She really is a little miss. To be honest, I think that's why they are so perfect together and so perfect for our house. They could be described as chalk and cheese but in fact it's more cheese and crackers - very different but a perfect combination. One is dry and serious the other full on. I love them both even if I swear the white sheep of the family will drive me into an early grave.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 25. Day 115. Don't judge a book by its cover

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. It may be good advice but let's be honest, you have to make a decision on the basis of something and a cover isn't such a terrible place to start. The problem is it's not an exact science, far from it. Today I was reminded of this in the Queensland Performing Arts Complex. I was there for the media preview of Queensland Theatre's Once in Royal David City.  I knew this was by Australian playwright Micahel Gow. I knew this was the Queensland Theatre directorial debut of new Artistic Director Sam Strong. But that was pretty much where my knowledge ended. The picture in my mind decided it was either something biblical or perhaps an English period drama, all corsets and wigs. I'd been in The Playhouse for about 1.7 seconds when I realised I'd got it all totally wrong. It was all T shirts and jeans. The position of chairs at the sides of the stage and the clothes racks screamed ensemble piece. And then the cast acted an excerpt. Oh My God. Bring your tissues.. And this was a segment Strong assured us was spoiler free. I can only imagine what's in the rest. The website says "Faced with the loss of a parent, do we rage against the universe, search for connection or hope for an epiphany? On the beaches of northern New South Wales, theatre director Will has planned to share a restful, halcyon Christmas with his recently-widowed mother. But then she falls ill. During a bedside vigil, Will is forced to piece together the splintered shards of his own life, questioning his role as an artist, as a son, as a citizen of the world".  Now while you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you shouldn't judge a play by a segment of a few minutes. So I'll reserve final judgment until after opening night on Thursday. But those few minutes were a wild ride - from a cafe to an airport to the beach. Happy, sad, flippant and deep. Just take tissues

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24. Day 114. I Wake Up with Today

 The morning after the night before. Without doubt there is many a secret from the Crown Palladium last night. Well here's a couple from the foyer this morning. If you had been watching The Today Show you would have seen a Logie's-weary Richard Wilkins deliver a piece to camera in front of a Coffee Club cart. Disposable coffee cup in hand he told viewers it was only thanks to Coffee Club coffee that they were able to power through. Not thanks to that cup, Richard. There was not, and never had been a drop of anything in there. He'd grabbed an empty cup from the cart as he prepared for the cross. Then just before they went live decided he's best put on a lid to complete the illusion. Just across the way on The Today Show couches, the rest of the team were grabbing a quick bite to eat or having hair and make-up fixes before the camera turned on them. Next up was Kerri-Anne Kennerley,who last night was inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame. I must say she was looking far too amazing for a person aged 63, especially as it was the morning after the night before. Perhaps there was something in her Coffee Club mug. Looking not so glam were comedy duo Hamish and Andy who "surprised" KaK by gatecrashing her segment still wearing bathrobes and looking very much worse for wear. Will someone please give those boys a coffee? Still one wonders why anyone would be surprised by the appearance of Hamish and Andy given they had all been in the Green Room together moments earlier and of course Hamish and Andy were all mic-ed up and ready to go. Still it made good TV and the crowd of onlookers didn't seem to care. After TV's night of nights a morning of a couple of liberties may have been forgiven perhaps everyone was too tired to notice.
*this is slightly different from the original published version which Blogger decided to delete  **Not happy Jan

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 23. Day 113. TV's Night of Nights

Good for you Samuel Johnson. Good for you.
The word in the Crown Plaza auditorium in the lead up to the Gold Logie presentation was that you wold take out the big one. I was a little skeptical because these days the prize goes to the network with the most influential marketing team. That would have suggested that one of The Project's  co-hosts Waleed Aly or Peter Helliar would have a little statue with them tonight. But it wasn't to be. In fact, a bloke at my table with obvious connections told me that Aly had told him Johnson would win.
It was odd because Johnson isn't really a household name in Australia even though his portrayal of Ian Molly Meldrum in Molly was critically acclaimed. In fact his cancer charity work on behalf of his dying sister is probably as well known as his acting. This is why I love him tonight part 1. He had tears in his eyes and so did I when he took out the award for Most Outstanding Actor.
"My sister is succumbing finally to the perils of cancer after a three-decade-long tussle.
"Rather than rolling over, she's going out blazing with an attempted world record for the longest line of coins, absurdly. She's putting together a row of coins in the shape of a love heart."
I love a man who loves his sister to tears.
I also love how dignified he was when Molly ruined his acceptance speech is a cringe-worthy appearance with an F Bomb or three thrown in.
 But I also love the message he had about the performing arts and its ability to offer a home to others society considers "different". It's a message that resonates with me very close to home.
"I was an outlier of sorts, desperate to find my place in this world. I found my home here in this world. I found my home here in the arts, a place that celebrated difference."
So good for you Samuel Johnson. I for one applaud you. We all do. Even Molly, at least I think so. Most of his speech I found impossible to understand.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 22. Day 112. Somewhere over the rainbow

I find myself thinking about my dad a lot at random times such as when I am walking along the beach. This is odd because my dad hated the beach on account of the sand. And the sun. But mostly the sand. And yet every year we went on family holidays to the beach. Dad may have hated the beach but he loved his family more. It's kind of the reverse in our place. I'm the beach tragic. On the way home I asked Drama Teen if he'd had an okay break given that most of the time he was doing exactly the same thing he does on his computer and phone at home. "It doesn't make a lot of difference to me. But I know it makes a huge difference to you and that matters," he said. It was a beautifully honest response from a teenager. Later in the day there was another moment when I found myself thinking about my father and my son. After the theatre, my son and I dropped in at a restaurant where a dear family friend was celebrating her 80th birthday. We were planning on just collecting my mother from the celebrations and passing on our good wishes but we arrived at cake time and we invited to stay for a bit. I took a seat. An old bloke came up and asked me who I was and what I was doing there. At first I thought he was joking. Then he told me I should leave or he would evict me I thought perhaps drunk. Then he picked up the chair threw me on the floor and looked like he might hit me with the chair he was still holding. Others rushed in and rescued me and took gentle control of the bloke. It was explained he had dementia and didn't know what he was doing. I got it. I really did. My beautiful, soft, polite father had become a monster in the years before he died of early onset Alzheimers at age 62. Dementia doesn't just mean you forget names. You forget everything you have learned depending on which part of the brain is ravaged. That includes tolerance, respect and restraint. My son witnessed the incident and handled himself with great dignity. He listened while the bloke said I was dressed like a tart and just said "that's my mother". The bloke's daughter came over and spoke to me in tears. I hugged her. I told her I had been, there. Done that. The disease is the bastard, not the man. It's tragically difficult to focus on that when you are living through it but it is what it is. And if your dad does decide to take out his anger and frustration on a stranger at a party you can probably be thankful he picked someone who gets it and someone whose young man thinks with his head and his heart and not his fists.

Friday, April 21, 2017

April 21. Day 111. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

The beach is my happy place, the sea not so much. Actually that's not true. I love a dip in a calm sea floating on the gentle waves. I do not, however, ever lose my respect for the ocean. Also I never forget the times I have been horribly seasick. The very first time was as a young reporter in this very part of the world on a Coastguard vessel. A spewing journalist is not exactly a credible professional. Then there was the boat between Greece and Italy not to mention a whale watch or two. And yet my mother still tries to convince me a cruise would be a very good idea. Yeah no. Today, reminded me of why I maintain a fear of watercraft. It was seriously rough out there. I felt seasick just watching. The dogs and I were more than happy to stay on land. Winkle was content chasing her favourite ball. Rumple was busy chasing pats from every human we walked by and I was checking out the bird life. There's something for everyone on the beach.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 20. Day 110. Birds of a feather

I didn't think it was possible to leave the beach in a bad move but today I did. We'd had only just stepped onto the sand when Rumple found a great big dog poo and started eating it. I pulled him off at which time Winkle started rolling in it. Then it started raining. I took my bat and ball (AKA the dogs) and went home. It is 33 metres from the house I am staying in and the steps to the beach. I know this because a sign says so. The rain had stopped by the time I'd walked those 33 metres. I took a deep breath, washed off poo and returned to the beach. I couldn't let a few rain drops and a giant turd prevent my dogs from having an afternoon frolic on the beach. The dogs may not always make good dietary choices but they have awesome judgment in other matters. Without their guidance I would not have been there to watch a couple of birds of prey soaring above. The dogs also led me to the dunes this morning to see the Watson Street Dunecare Group on its monthly restoration mission. It looked like back-breaking, bum crack exposing work. As someone whose holiday house of choice is on Watson Street I applaud their efforts. The dogs threatened to lend a paw probably suspecting there was a dog poo or something dead they could dispose of. I led them away. Rumple found a dead fish and rolled in it. Now what was I saying about their judgment?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 19. Day 109. Foaming at the mouth

The nature of a conversation I had with a stranger on the beach this morning would make young folks cringe or possibly cry. Rumple, who rather likes people more than dogs, went up to the bloke who was probably a bit older than me. Winkle, who likes her ball above just about anything else ignored the bloke until she decided Rumple may have been getting too much attention. She pushed her way in. "Oh, you've come to say hello too," the bloke said. "Yeah, she suffers badly from Fear of Missing Out," I said. "Chronic case of FOMO this one," I added. He nodded wisely. "It's a strong driver that FOMO." What? Two old people engaging in text speak in public. How embarrassing. This afternoon it was less Fo-Mo and more Fo-am. The wind had picked up and the sea was frothing. It wasn't swimming weather that's for sure. I'm not sure it was even that great for kite surfers but a couple of keen or crazy blokes were giving it a go. I watched them and realised the chance of me ever trying the sport, especially in conditions like today was less that zero. Clearly I don't suffer from FOMO. I'm pretty sure the only thing I'd be missing out on would be becoming a drowning statistic. I may sometimes adopt the lingo of the young but they can keep their activities to themselves.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 18. Day 108. Forget me not

During my time
working as a journalist in Noosa,  we loved a story about things people left on Main Beach. Towels, togs, beach balls, shoes, watches, wallets, sun screen and once there was even an artificial leg. Now I'm forgetful and I don't know what it's like to have a prosthetic limb. Still I'm pretty sure if I went to the beach with two legs I'd notice if I left with only one. Of course the most likely explanation is not that someone got so legless at a beachside bar that they left legless. It is much more likely the leg washed off a ship and was carried to shore. The sea gives and the sea takes away. We had such an experience overnight. Yesterday, the dogs' favourite floating ball was carried out to sea. After an extensive search we decided that a burial at sea wasn't such a bad way to go. This morning we were back at the beach with a reserve ball. And then right at the very top of the high tide mark right at the edge of the dunes was the ball. The sea had given it up and my dogs were so, so happy. And when the dogs are happy the people are having a ball ...

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17. Day 107. Diving right in

 I'm not sure who I should be thanking for this but just so no-one thinks I am ungrateful can I just say "I owe you one".
Most years the Easter school holidays start with Good Friday and extend through for two weeks. Most years the school holidays and the university holidays line up. But this year they threw away the rule book. This year, the second school term starts tomorrow and the university break has just begun. For families with children at different stages of education this could be intensely frustrating. For people working in higher education but with kids still at school, this could be intensely frustrating. But those of us no longer at the mercy of the school system this is gold. As I headed north up the Bruce Highway at the speed limit, I looked at the carpark in the south-bound lanes. Suckers, I thought, a little unkindly. I arrived at the holiday home and smiled at the thought that the people who just checked out had paid the high season rate. It's no longer school holidays so we are no longer at peak season. Bless. Now, my dogs know none of this. But my dogs know the beach when they see it. The second the ocean was in view Winkle started whimpering in anticipation. They were out of the car at the rate of knots. When they hit the beach there was not stopping them. So whoever you are in the great education vacation planning department, my dogs thank you, my university student son thanks you and my friends whose child is not yet old enough to be tied to school holidays thank you. But most of all I thank you because this is the holiday I had to have.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 16. Day 106. Celebrating new life

Should aliens have arrived on earth today they would have been justifiably confused. Rabbits everywhere. The rabbits appear to lay eggs made of chocolate and for good measure there are buns with crosses on the top. There are symbols galore which are like seriously mixed metaphors. Of course if you approach this from a religious not a secular standpoint it all makes perfect sense. For people of Christian faith this is the most holy season celebrating the crucifixion and the resurrection. The symbols represent the death and new life. This meaning is as opaque to many on earth not just aliens. Someone was obviously determined that the message wasn't lost in a projectile vomit of chocolate. When I was visiting little baby Owen - the closest I get to new life - we looked up. A sky writer had just finished his artwork. We waited a bit thinking there was more to come before uncracking the code (I know, stupid). A cross, an equals sign, a heart or the crucifixion equals love.  It made us pause for a bit before going back to a game of egg and spoon because Easter traditions come in many shapes and sizes.