Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

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Here’s wishing a happy, heavenly birthday to a fallen hero of mine, the actor, producer and playwright, Bille Brown.

A decade older and long gone from Biloela State High by the time I got there, Bille was already treading the boards at the Royal Shakespeare Company by the time I finished high school.

But for kids like me from the bush, he was an inspiration. He opened up an endless world of possibility beyond the farm, the town, the obscure little corner of Queensland into which we had been born.

P1010198He allowed us all to dream big dreams and dare to believe that if we worked hard enough, we could make them come true.

He made one of mine come true when he launched my first novel Dust – a kindness I will never forget.

Biloela

The Big Director’s Chair – a memorial to actor/producer/playwright – Bille Brown AM.

I think of him, still, five years after his death. When I go home to Biloela, the town where we both grew up. And when I’m in Brisbane, my home for many decades now.

 

In Bilo, I often drive past the giant director’s chair dedicated to him in Lion’s Park.

If you bother to stop, you’ll find these words, so typical of the man, on the plaque:

“It should not just be a monument to me but an encouragement to others to pursue what they are good at and love doing.”

 

Bless. It is and does.

In Brisbane, I often drive past Queensland’s beautiful new Bille Brown Theatre. Next time you’re there, look for Row F Seat 34.

It’s a much smaller chair, but one also dedicated to Bille Brown’s memory.

From me to you, Bille. Happy Birthday.

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We learnt about the Finnish concept of Sisu – a mental toughness that kicks in when all else is exhausted – on a walking tour of Helsinki, with icy winds and snow whipping around my hubby’s unprotected ears.

(He wasn’t listening when I told him to pack a beanie and gloves, so the blizzard on arrival was a shock to his system. He’d joked on the plane ride over that it would be a balmy 24 degrees. And it was – on the Fahrenheit scale.)

While I was doing a fair impression of the Michelin Man in puffer, gortex jacket and four layers of clothes, hardy locals were showing we Aussies just how soft we really are – by stripping down to their budgie smugglers for a quick dip in the ice-trapped local pool.  

Respect, my Finnish friends. Man, you are tough. But I guess that comes with the territory when you live in a country where the mercury rarely pushes above 15 degrees. Where only five million people became legendary throughout the world for standing alone in the Winter War against overwhelming Russian forces – and surviving. That’s sisu.

 

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Now that I’m home again, home again, jiggety jig, I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned and experienced while away.

 


Time with loved ones is more precious when travelling, the juxtaposition of familiar and unfamiliar giving each day a special edge.

No wonder the Dalai Lama exhorts us to step away from the everyday: ‘Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.’

This year, it was Helsinki. Where I am glad to have discovered a new word to live by.

For when the going gets tough. Sisu.

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Dancing with Uncle John on my big day

Hubby and I had a couple of dancing lessions in the lead-up to our wedding 23 years ago.

But on the big day, the band played the wedding waltz in 4/4 time, we tapped out and swore a marital pact: he didn’t have to dance in public again and I didn’t have to camp.

For more than two decades we stayed true to those vows.

Then a friend roped us in for a bit of fun at the local bowls club. She’d found a Brazilian dance teacher called Tarcisio who could show us some moves …

Fast-forward two years and we are official dance tragics: no longer trapped at home with young kids; kicking up our heels at West End’s Rio Rhythmics on most days ending in a ‘y’.

Aaron Veryard of asvphotographics photographs  White Magic charity event for Rio Rythmics

ASV Photographics: Rio Rhythmics White Magic

Our gorgeous instructors say we’ve come a long way (from an admittedly low base).

But we’re not in a hurry. We have the rest of our lives. And we’re having so much fun along the way. Making new friends. Listening to great music. And dancing, always dancing. Salsa. Bolero. Samba de Gaffeira. Bachata. Forro. Tango.

Our now-adult children have chronicled our adventures, entertaining their friends on snapchat with our dance journey.

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International Samba Day

Hiding round corners to video our faltering beginnings, staggering progress (two steps forward, one step back), and occasional matching outfits.

They pass round photos of us dressed as tropical bananas (for a recent performance at City Hall for the 65 Roses Masquerade Ball).

‘Don’t worry, you’ll just be part of the Carnivale parade,’ Tarcisio had assured us. ‘Cathy will tell you what to do.’

And she did. ‘You bananas, go up on stage and stand in front of the band.’

In front of the band? On stage? In front of 500 people? And do what?

‘Just dance,’ she said.

City Hall Carnevale Ball 2017 (2)

I’d like to say I’m the one on the far right (but I’m the one standing next to her….)

And we did. Salsa. In front of 500 people. On stage at City Hall.

So much fun, we just had to do it again.

We joined Rio Rhythmic’s flash mob for International Samba Day at Kangaroo Point cliffs … and the Brazilian Forro group performing at Woodford Folk Festival on 29th December.

Then came the real test ….

‘Who’s camping?’ asks Cathy. ‘We need to book tent sites for Woodford.’

white magic 2017Camping? What! No way. Some of us take our vows seriously.

I don’t camp.

But dancing …

Now that’s a whole different story!

(For more dance stories from the fabulous Rio Rhythmics community click here and scroll down)

Where Creativity Starts

I try not to flinch every time someone says they are ‘bored of’ something.

Half my brain screams ‘Bored with: it’s tired of; bored with!’ while the other half calmly reasons that language evolves. If young people unanimously decide to go with bored of, who am I to swim against the linguistic tide in my old-fashioned neck-to-knees swimsuit and flowered bathing cap?

And so I gamely dog-paddle on, chin up, through a rising tide of complaints, kids bored of this, bored of that, and try to focus on the real issue…

And that is the belief that being bored is somehow a bad thing.Something to be avoided at all costs. Or fended off with scheduled activities or screen time courtesy of the ubiquitous array of electronic boredom busters.

Lordy me, when did boredom become such a threat? Once upon a time, anyone with the temerity (or lack of imagination) to be bored was either given a job to do or told to make their own fun.

Nowadays, someone passes them an iPad. Or turns on the telly.

No-one tells kids the truth. That boredom is their friend. It’s where creativity is sparked, ideas are born. It’s that  space in our busy lives where we can take the time to amble aimlessly, discover hidden worlds, dream up a story, paint a picture, write a song, build a better mouse trap.

The mind is a marvelous thing. Give it some space to meander and it will surprise you. I know this because all my stories have been daydreamed into existence. I once spent three entire months thinking about a kid called Henry Hoey Hobson before I wrote the first word of his story. Other stories have simmered on the back hotplate of my mind, sometimes for years, till a lull in the busy-busy of life created space for it to move to the front burner.

So don’t fill let your kids fill their days with busy-busy. Even if you’re a mad scheduler and can’t help yourself, schedule some time out for them. Every day. No activities. No screens. No homework.

Let them be bored. Allow them to daydream. And watch their creativity flow.

 

 

 

1955 FILM : "SEVEN YEAR ITCH"MARILYN MONROE AND TOM EWELL

1955 FILM : “SEVEN YEAR ITCH” MARILYN MONROE AND TOM EWELL

‘The seven year itch, a time of potential crisis when you traditionally take stock of your relationship and decide whether it’s what you really want or not.’ Daily Mail Online

Dear Blog,

It’s exactly seven years since you first came into my life.

Back then, you were a bit shy, hesitant, and let’s be honest (we’ve known each other long enough to be candid), a trifle underwhelming.

I was an internet virgin. Nervously attending the kind of workshop that those in the know recommended to those without a clue (before their first publisher had their way with them).

I remember blushing when the workshop convener at the Qld Writers Centre suggested I  google myself (I’d never done that before – and certainly not in a room full of strangers).

oh-my-blog-I found only two online references to myself (an article on dispute resolution dating back to the nineties, and a more current tuckshop roster for my kids’ primary school).

Clearly there was work to be done on developing this author’s platform. And apparently you were the blog that would do it for me.

The lovely convener that set us up, explained your needs and what I should do with your widgets, and somehow we survived our first awkward encounters.

Ironically, one of my first posts protested parallel importation of books – and seven years later, Aussie writers are fighting that battle again. (Thanks for providing the handy link to click if anyone wants to sign the Petition to save Australian literature).

Our blogging efforts went to the next level when I worked out that a bit of visual stimulation (and even some Elvis the Pelvis) could add a bit of fun. And suddenly there was no stopping us.

We went at it like rabbits. But after seven years, more than 200 posts, and 71,000 views from more than 10,000 visitors, I began to wonder if it might be time for a change.

I found myself making discrete inquiries to friends about their website designers. Late at night, I previewed other blog themes, colours and fonts. I fantasized about a more exciting website that could show me off, take me to new places, introduce me to new friends.

I went back through seven years of archives, trying to see how to do things better and a funny thing happened.

As I retraced my steps, through all the ups and downs of this writing life, and the funny, sadinspiring and beautiful moments that we’ve shared, I fell in love with you, dear blog, all over again.

So you can scratch that seven year itch. The comfort of the tried and true is strong enough to keep us together.

Rest easy, dear blog, looks like you’re stuck with me for a good few years yet. Cxx

My house hates me

Posted: November 17, 2014 in Musings
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housewife cleaningFifteen years we’ve been together and finally my house has turned on me.

I blame myself. I’m a disinterested cleaner (no Nana, not everyone shifts the furniture to vacuum) and denial works for a surprisingly long time where home maintenance is concerned.

It worked for me. Right up to the morning I parked my feet under my desk and paddled in something wet.

I immediately accused the dog – which offended him greatly – and then realised that the sodden pool of carpet was too large and fresh-smelling to be blamed on my fastidiously continent beagle.

Intrigued, I tracked the puddle to the wall, under it, and on to the real culprit – my en suite shower next door.

‘Your waterproofing’s failed,’ said Mick the plumber, hitching up his duds. ‘Big job fixing that.’

I thanked him, filed his advice in my too-hard basket, and informed Hubba Hubby that we could no longer use our shower.

But that’s okay, I assured him, because we could always use the decrepit bathroom on the back verandah. beforeWhich is what we did – right through the coldest months of the year.

Now, Brisbane isn’t Winterfell, but showering on the back verandah of an old Queenslander is exactly like standing outside naked in the middle of winter. But we figured we could tough it out, because we’re Brisvegans, and hey, summer is coming!

But long before the mercury hit anywhere near yesterday’s 40 degrees, the decrepit bathroom on the back verandah gave out under the unexpected and unrelenting pressure of daily use.

So for the last two months, we’ve been deep in the throes of not one, but two bathroom renovations.

All manner of tradesmen have trapsed through our house while the scream of tile-cutters filled the dust-clogged air, causing what I can only assume was an inexplicable neural spasm because, in the midst of reigning chaos, I decided to order new curtains. After all, they’d been in the house since we bought it, fifteen years seemed a fair innings, and how much extra chaos could new curtains cause anyway?

A fair bit apparently. Because yes, Nana, I did shift the bedroom furniture to vacuum (so that the curtain man wouldn’t think I was a grub). And that’s how I discovered the plague of carpet moth munching its way through the woollen carpets in my bedroom.

So now the beagle and I are holed up in my office (which thank the high heavens has lovely acrylic carpet, albeit slightly water-marked in that large stained area under my desk) while Wayne, the nicest pest man in the world mass-murders carpet moths in the main bedroom.

afterSwear to God, I should have left well enough alone.

Once you start paying these old girls a bit of attention, they get so dang demanding…

But to be fair, they also scrub up pretty well, don’t you think?

Chris & Andrew 076Collective nouns aren’t normally associated with brides, what with only one usually in a room at a time (South Korean mass weddings notwithstanding).

But oh my lordy, we needed a compendium of collective nouns to describe the bevy of bridal treats that turned up for our 20th wedding anniversary party on the weekend.

Dozens of my nearest and dearest slipped, shoe-horned and shimmied their way back into their wedding finery to celebrate with hubba hubby and me.

A train of brides chugalugging on champers. A bouquet of bridesmaids blessing us with their fragrant presence. A gabble of groomsmen that could be heard a suburb away.1383718_10152579227633725_4419480155957365272_n

Oh, and for some unexplained reason, hubba hubby chose to wear a safari suit, but each to his own.

I love him dearly and when it comes to wedding parties, no-one cares what the blokes wear, do they?

Chris & Andrew 070