Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17. Day 17. Welcome back

 It's rather special to have one's own cheer squad.
If you are a B List celebrity having people following you around watching your every move might be tiresome. That's a one way transaction. With my fan club it's quite different. The dogs are always pleased to see me and they make their joy known. Dogs can't slam doors, or use rude words or bully you either in real life or in the cyber form. They are pretty bloody good at letting you know if they want food, or water, a pat or a walk or a game of ball but mostly just having you around is enough. There's something special about being greeted when you return from checking the mail box to a greeting as if you've been out of the country for a month. I pretend  hate cats. I don't. I'm just allergic to them so tend to keep my distance. As a result, I really know very little about cats as pets but I can't see how anything can match a dog as a pet, other than two dogs. There's a reason they are considered man's best friend.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January 16. Day 16. The shape of water

It's a hideously cliched thing to do but I'm trying to cleanse my life as a new year's resolution kind of thing. This involves both my person and my home. The body work is not yet proceeding at a cracking pace but I have started walking again, I've started to tackle a few medical issues.
The first Lite and Easy order has been lodged. It's a start. The domestic front is proceeding a little faster. Days of repairs, carpet cleaning, window cleaning and a world championship purge of clothes, books and DVDs. With the assistance of a cleaner, a mowing man, a carpet cleaner, a window cleaner, a pest control man and a handyman things are starting to sparkle around here. A new lounge suite should be arriving by the end of the month, there are new cushions on the balcony furniture and new linen in Oliver's room (turns out the room also has carpet on the floor. It's been such a long time since I've been able to see it, I wasn't sure). There's a long way to go but I feel progress. I also feel tired. But the beach beckons. 10 more days and I'll be back at the coast in what never fails to deliver the best type of cleanse of all, that of the soul. For now South Bank, where these photos were taken, is the closest I get to the beach. It will do, for now. Then in February it's back to work to cleanse the credit card statement.

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 15. Day 15. Balancing act

I tried rock climbing once. I was crap at it. I have about zero upper body and arm strength. None. The very last thing I needed was any sort of a handicap. It would make no sense to make it more difficult than need be. But addiction is just that. It makes no sense. Watching a climber on the Kangaroo Point cliffs attempting to scale the rock face with a cigarette in either his mouth or his hand reminded me of two things: 1) never to take up smoking and 2) of my father for most of my young life. Dad was rarely without a smoke. Most things he did he did either one handed or with a ciggie pursed between his lips. It was just the way it was. It taught me a fair bit about addictive personalities. I reckon I've inherited the gene if there is one. I know my addictive tendencies may not be as obvious as a cigarette in a hand to the outside world but they are there just the same. With everything from poor food or caffeinated drink consumption to exercise, there is no medium. I do a lot or none. Balance would be good. Balance wouldn't be me. So I just go on trying to climb that metaphorical wall with a hand tied behind my back. It makes life interesting if nothing else.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 14. Day 14. Moving pictures

We have this family thing where we try to see most, if not all, of the movies with Oscar buzz prior to the awards night. I like to think this will assist me in predicting the winners. In this regard it has failed spectacularly. The Academy and I do not see eye to eye. It is, however, a entertaining family adventure. Our venue of choice is the Blueroom Cinebar because the fries with aioli are superb and the occasional cocktail never hurt anyone (apart from me obviously what with the still slightly dodgy liver). Anyway, tonight it was The Post. It should come as no surprise to anyone that as a one-time journalist I found this fascinating. Some say it was a little preachy in the Fake News Trump era but to me it summed up everything that makes journalism great. It was also like it stirred a muscle memory of what it is like to stand in the press room when someone hits the go button. I'm sure it's not quite like that now but it made me feel all nostalgic and reminded me again of how important good journalism is, even if the world thinks of journalists as bottom dwelling poo feeders. If the ending was preachy, it needed to be because somehow the message is being lost. A free press is important, now more than ever. For what it is worth, while I loved The Post (see rant above), I don't think it will win much on awards night because of the competition. Given my success in past years you should immediately put all you money on it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January 13. Day 13. It was twenty years ago today ....

It was 20 years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play, I gave birth. This, of course, makes it MY birth day since I did it just the once. You can't beat perfection or something. The 20th birthday is a strange anomaly in the birthday rankings. We tend to go all big on the birthdays that end in zeros. But while 20 marks the departure from the teens it lacks the significance of either 18 or 21. It's like here we revert to an imperial system while for the rest of our lives we are all very metric. But odd man out birthday or not, I feel it is a milestone well worth marking. My little boy is all grown up and I have to retire my preferred nickname Drama Teen. Such a shame. I loved that nickname almost as much as Mr O hated it. I am sure there is a direct correlation between the two. So I raise a glass and eat a slice of gluten-free chocolate cake. May the next decade be an exciting new decade and may I find a new nickname fast.

Friday, January 12, 2018

January 12. Day 12. They're a weird mob

There are so many things that you just accept as normal until you have the opportunity to see them through the eyes of an outsider. Once again I was playing tourist guide to our English visitors today.  They'd spent the night at the Gold Coast and we picked them up at Roma Street in the afternoon. A view of the city from the Mount Coot-tha lookout seemed like a no brainer. But then on the way home I decided to stop by one of my favourite haunts, the University of Queensland Lakes. As always there was an abundance of native wildlife on display. Some of my favourites - the corellas, the cormorant, the turtles were all doing their thing. There was even an added bonus of mother and daddy duck and their ducklings waddling along. As I suspected my new photography buddy was dead impressed. "God Australia has some weird wildlife," he said. Yeah we do. When you see those lakes and those birds
 as much as I do it's really easy to become a little blase. But even I admit they are odd which is probably what attracts me to them. I hope they never lose their magic.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

January 11. Day 11. Red faced

I was left feeling pretty bloody red faced today. Here I am not just talking about the impact of the weather and hot flushes. Let us be honest neither of  those things help. At all. But this is more psychological red faced. It's Thursday. That's take-Margaret-to-the-hairdresser day. It's always a pretty huge ordeal getting her out of the house and in to the car and then out of the car and into the hairdresser. And then you get to do it all in reverse. The heat wasn't helping her either. It was slow going. While she is having her hair set and today was tint day I go off into the cafe, set up my laptop and work. We have lunch and I leave Margaret in the cafe while I buy her groceries. Today there was more than usual. Navigating Margaret and her wheelie walker the shopping trolley back to the car was a nightmare. Getting everyone and everything into the car without any implosions due to heat was worse. We made it. we got home. Everything was unloaded and then I saw there was no laptop. My heart stopped. Last year I killed two work Mac Books in quick succession. Losing one would be IT death. My heart stopped. I thought I might implode. I knew exactly were it was. In the shopping trolley in the carpark behind the hairdresser in Fairfield Gardens Shopping Centre. It's quiet and away from the main shopping centre carpark. The staff in the hairdressers know where I park because they help me with Margaret. I called them. They went and looked. It was still there. Normal heart rhythm restored. Just about.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January 10. Day 10. Hot in the city

We have a full house at the moment - and I am seriously outnumbered. For starters, there are five (human) adults and I am the only female. Also, I am the only one eligible to run for Australian parliament. All the others, under our Constitution at least, have allegiances to the Motherland. This means I have a hometown advantage over the visitors. And I have been blessed with a visitor who owns a Canon camera and has a desire to photograph city skyscrapers. Bring it on. So at dusk, after the pool cool off, I led Susan's Snappers City Skyscraper tour. We started at the top of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, moved the the boardwalk at the bottom of the cliff and then headed to catch the view of the city and Story Bridge from Wilson's outlook at New Farm. I even conducted a very short lesson (based on the very short boundaries of my knowledge and abilities) on the use a slow shutter speed, a tripod and remote shutter release for awesome city lights photographs. So much fun to have a captive audience.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

January 9. Day 9. Well trained

My dogs are very well trained. Granted Winkle is inclined to wee on the carpet rather than go outside if it's raining and the ground is wet. Granted Rumple will still steal underwear from the clothes basket and destroy them. Either or both of them has a habit of climbing up on the dining room table when you are not looking (or some times even when you are). So not exactly perfect but well trained where it really matters by which I mean when it comes to being photographed. We went to the Kedron Brook off leash area this afternoon and the dogs were running around like crazed creatures, or more accurately like dogs in an off leash area. Then they stopped, stood next to each other and looked up at the camera. A couple walking past with their dogs laughed. I heard them say to one another: "Did those dogs just pose for the camera? I'm pretty sure they did." And then the dogs were off chasing birds again. In honesty, I may have trained Rumple to beg and Winkle to dance but neither dog has been trained to smile for the camera. However, the camera, the dogs and I spend an awful lot of time together and I wouldn't even be surprised if there's an element of reading what makes me happy and trying to deliver. It may be more "let's just get this over with". They also do like to check out where I am and not stray too far. In the end it doesn't really matter. In my eyes they are gorgeous in a way no photograph can adequately capture.

Monday, January 8, 2018

January 8. Day 8. Party on

I'm a bit inclined to gift experiences rather than physical things as presents. Massages, Segway rides, abseiling, theatre tickets, whale watching, are just a few of the presents I have given that quickly come to mind. I especially like it when I get to join in. Let's call it the gift of my time and company rather than buying myself something as well. Sounds less selfish, right? So what does a girl do for her fur baby's birthday? Take him to his happy place. Take him to the beach. Granted we were at Bribie just a week ago for no special reason, but it just reminded me how close the Island really is and how do-able it is just for an afternoon walk and swim. (Why I needed this reminder considering I commuted to Bribie for five years for work is a question for a mind far greater than mine).  I do not delude myself that Rumple knew it was his birthday. I don't even delude himself that he saw the trip as a special treat in his honour. But I do know he loved every minute and that's job done in my book.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

January 7. Day 7. Let the birthday festival begin

 I can tell this story because the main characters are all long since dead and their deaths were in no way related to the event about to be outlined. My aunt was hosting a dinner party where she planned to serve her signature dish, the main ingredient of which was chicken breast fillets. (These days I feed chicken breast to my dogs several times a week but chicken only a generation ago was a fine and expensive food.)  Just as she was about to pan fry the chook she noticed only five of the six breasts were on the bench. The sixth was in the cat's mouth. Like a scene from a bad sit com, she grabbed the chicken breast from the cat's mouth, washed it and served it with the others. Nothing a bit of sauce wouldn't cover. I was reminded of this today at Rumple's birthday party. Generally speaking I throw big parties for my dogs but given Rumple is inclined to hide in my walk-in robe if the house is crowded, today I decided on an intimate gathering. His "cousin" The Fed was spending the arvo at our place as was my mum so we ordered the goodies and set about preparing to party pooch style. The cake was on the kitchen bench in a position I considered safe. I forgot two important things. Cousin Fed has a hound's nose and a long reach. He'd stolen two of the bone decorations from the front of the cake before anyone could pull him down or move the cake. No amount of rinsing off will work when the food is swallowed whole. There were two choices - either live with a partially eaten cake in all the birthday pics or cover the gap.
 As necessity is the mother of invention, I did the only reasonable thing. I grabbed the giant 5 candle and stuck it to the front of the cake where the bone biscuits once stood. Sure a candle is meant to go on top of the cake but it didn't look completely ridiculous where it was. And it was in a position where it in no way impacted on the dogs' ability to chow down on the rest of the cake. Rumple's actual birthday is tomorrow and the plan is to take him to the beach, which is pretty much his favourite place in the whole world. A one-day birthday celebration hardly seems enough for a such a special boy.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

January 6. Day 6. Slow and steady

The only thing slower than a week week is an stinkingly humid one, which is pretty bloody wet in its own way. It has been oppressive with any thought of moving far away from either the air conditioning or the pool seemingly an act of stupidity. But dogs need the occasional walk and humans need fresh air occasionally so you pick your moments and don't do anything in a rush. You also choose places with a great deal of grass to walk on because you don't want to subject the dogs' paws to melting bitumen. So off we went to the university of Queensland Lakes, a nice shady, grassy, breezy spot for a walk. The dogs know where the water fountains are and stopped at each one. And while they didn't abandon their usual attempts to catch and kill any bird that came within eye sight it was a fairly half hearted attempt. (One day they might learn that birds will fly away and they have another quite distinct disadvantage of being on a lead). It was slow going but pleasant. As such I had time to make the following observations. 1. An outdoor wedding in Brisbane in January seems unusually foolhardy. Guests and make-up were melting and 2. We all know from the hare and the tortoise business that testudines are slow. Still it's impressive to be so slow you are covered in algae. A rolling stone gathers no moss so there's not been much rolling going on here.

Friday, January 5, 2018

January 5. Day 5. A handy bloke to have around.

This is not a sponsored post although it might end up sounding like an infomercial. Warren is my new best friend. Yesterday he failed to be deterred by being left outside while the teenager slept. Today he arrived on time and fixed all the things he said he would fix. This included a dodgy toilet seat, a blind partially falling down, a shower head with no pressure, broken kitchen cabinetry, two windows that wouldn't shut, a sagging clothes line and a damaged chest of drawers. He even fixed an air conditioner which started spilling water all over the carpet. It wasn't even broken when Warren arrived. Air conditioning is not his thing but he rang his mate who talked him through what to do. The drain is no longer blocked. Water from the air conditioner now falls outside the house where it belongs. I fully admit we are incompetent when it comes to DIY. I need a man like Warren in my life who will tell me what I need to do the job and then fix it. He'll call on one of his mates if what I needs isn't something he does. My bestie and I are off to Bunnings on Monday to buy things to carry out a few more repairs. My plan to get things fixed this year is coming together nicely.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

January 4. Day 4. Up with the birds

Some people are up with the birds. Some people whinge about the birdsong waking them. Drama Teen is not one of those people. Today I had a handyman coming at 11am. I knew there was every chance I wouldn't be back from the hairdresser by then. So I asked Drama Teen to be on the case. He said he'd set an alarm. At 11.10 I got a call from the handyman. He was ringing the doorbell but there was no answer.  The dogs were going crazy but no response. I called his mobile phone but still nothing. So I instructed the handyman to head through the back gate where there were jobs awaiting. The pressure drill practically outside the boy's room didn't do it either. God only knows what would happen in a fire.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January 3. Day 3. Hefty appetite

For as long as I have lived in this house, the Christmas tree has been erected in the same spot in the corner of the lounge. This year I decided to do something different and put it at the other end of the open living space nearer the dining area. It is a decision that is now impacting far more than a few baubles and flashing bulbs. Yesterday, I thought it was time to unplug the lights. I had to reach in to an awkward spot behind the tree and used the window sill to steady me. It felt spongy. I got up and tapped it and had a hollow feeling in both my fingertips and stomach. That was the feel of wood ravaged by termites. My Mum told me it could be wet rot. I tried to be positive. The termite man stopped that dead in its tracks. They micro menaces with the hefty appetites had taken a fancy to soft wood in skirting boards etc all over the place. Two bedrooms, the lounge, the dining room, the garage and into the roof. Basically one side of the house. Dirty little aggressive shits. I took the news calmly. I've been in this situation once before. I know the drill. While the area is widespread, the damage is relatively superficial in the termite scheme of things. Nothing needs to be demolished. Nothing is about to self destruct. It's costly and bloody, bloody irritating, don't get me wrong, but there's no use crying over chewed timber or something. Moving the Christmas tree and tapping that windowsill may have saved me from a fate far, far worse. But even the most glass half full person can't pretend not to pissed off by the thousands of dollars needed to be invested in termite-renovation and termite barrier protection. I had home renovations on my New Year's resolution list but this was NOT what I had in mind. So rather than dwell on something I can not change, I decided to take refuge in my happy place. I took the dogs to the beach. Bribie Island was the obvious choice for many good reasons. 1) Its proximity to Brisbane; 2) the rather delicious dog off leash beach and 3) the fact that one of my best buddies is presently residing in the family's holiday digs on the Island. A walk along the beach chatting about life, the universe and everything while watching the dogs frolic was just what I needed. The poisoned termite-eaten wood may have still been in the house when I got home but at least my head was better positioned to deal with it.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January 2. Day 2. Afternoon delight

Every afternoon at about the same time it happens.
Winkle will stop whatever she's doing, which is normally nothing much, and go and attack Rumple.
She will jump on him and roll on him.
There will be a wrestle.
He'll be on the ground on his back. They'll chase each other for a bit and then stop and go back to whatever it was they were not doing like it never happened.
Weirdly I've noticed recently almost exactly the same behaviour in birds.
I don't know if it is a mating thing or a dominance thing or a food thing but they all seem to like to have a bit of a rumble that's robust but playful rather than vicious. 
The little corellas at University of Queensland Lakes are prime example. Their behavioural display was almost exactly what the dogs do.
The lorikeets my dogs love to visit when we visit Grandma's were also exhibiting a bit of the same this afternoon.

Monday, January 1, 2018

January 1. Day 1. Happy New Year

I don't especially like New Year's Eve. I don't warm to the whole "should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne" thing (and not just because I have no idea what it means). I just always find it as an excuse to look over the past year and decide I failed to meet imaginary KPIs. You can't meet indicators if there aren't actually any but I always decide I haven't reached them anyway. So no big NYE celebrations but all the same I love fireworks. So I decided to go with Drama Teen's suggestion of an advanced screening of The Shape of Water. This worked well because it was low key and finished at 11.15 which left time to see the fireworks. Even better, we arrived at the Palace Barracks before the 8.30pm fireworks display. The view over the river confirmed that the Grey Street bridge, only a short walk away, would be an excellent place to watch the midnight exhibition of sky rockets in flight. A happy start to a new year. And a Happy New Year to you all.