Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Little chocolate every day...

Chocolate is, let's face it, far more reliable than a man." - Miranda Ingram

Well, the Gothic ended but life did not.  The lovely couple we fellowship with rang earlier in the week in a bit of a flap. She thought she might be in labour with her first bub ~ 2 weeks early.  What did I think?  Only one thing to do really; go round, hold her hand [metaphorically] & say if I thought she needed the ambulance ~ which she did.

The day we did the cats we stopped in to visit the new family.  Such a gorgeous little boy!  I just love a brand new baby: the clean baby smell, the downy softness of their tiny head, the trusting look in bright little eyes.  He is totally adorable. *sigh*  Maybe I need grandkids ~ though none of mine are showing signs of that happening any time soon!  Meanwhile I shall borrow other people's children.

From babies to kittens then, feeling decidedly peckish, on to the Black Cat at Latrobe Terrace. Despite its name the Black Cat is a bookshop, the most delightful sort of bookshop where one can find good coffee  & good food as well as a good read.  We sat on the outside deck sipping cold drinks & eating vegetarian pizza & side salad.  Now Paddington is a part of Brisbane I like very much indeed.  It reminds me of Darlinghurst/Glebe as it used to be when I prowled round Sydney: rather tatty, decidedly eccentric & full of interesting little shops run by interesting people who, if you are polite & play your cards right, will chat to you all day about all sorts of interesting things. And because it is like that the food is simple but good, the pizza base a nice tangy pesto, the salad with a crunch of chick~peas & a vinaigrette dressing.  Just as well I didn't have my girls.  They don't like chick~peas.

And of course the absolute crown to a busy & rather exhausting day, & the raison d'etre for being in Paddington in the first place, is Monty's.  I raved about this last year.  Siano & I had promised ourselves a return trip & this time came prepared.  When it comes to chocolate Monty's is as close to heaven as you'll get.  Their hot chocolate is rich, dark & not at all sweet.  Absolutely chocolate perfection.  The hot chocolate comes with a little dish of chocolates to sample ~ a truly brilliant idea because having sampled it is almost impossible to resist buying.  The lovely girl who served us is brilliant at what she does & knows that allowing people to sample she is almost always assured of a sale.  We tried the praline almonds ~ & bought.  We tried the salted liquid caramel balls ~& didn't.  Gorgeous but way, way too rich to eat more than one & very sweet.  I bought Rocky Road because I have Rocky Road aficionados. Liddy raves about Max Brenner's but honestly, Brenner's has nothing on Monty's.  Their hot chocolate is too sweet for one thing & not as thick & decadent for another.  Plus it is right in at Southbank & always, always incredibly busy which means you are queuing for absolute ages. I've tried their Belgian waffles & truffles & in my humble opinion it is hugely over~rated for the sort of money you are expected to fork over.  Monty's is heaps better value for money & the chocolate is much, much better.  No, it's not as easy & convenient to get to but definitely well worth the trip.  I am seriously considering a GPS just so I can find this place on my own! Oh, & if you what a chocoholics droolfest try their blog. Oh. My.

Oh, & the reason for  the lack of recent photos : Liddy borrowed my camera chord just before she went away & now I can't find it at all. Liiiiiddyyyyy, where is my chord?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel ~ Proverbs12:10

Eight or so months ago the girls & I travelled up to Redcliff to acquire two cats.  It was something of a bitter sweet experience because we were still grieving Issi ~ & it was a difficult experience because for the first time in my cat owning life I was acquiring shelter cats.  Even so I couldn't bring myself to go to the RSPCA. For every animal I didn't take I would have felt personally  responsible for & however foolish that is it is certainly the way my mind works & I don't need the guilt. I also have issues with any animal being caged & though there are certainly times when this is necessary & unavoidable it is not the way things were meant to be so I get all churned up about it.  Needless to say I do not like zoos.  However my friend, Siano, worked in cat protection at the time & I was hearing plenty about all the lovely cats in need of a *forever home* so I was prepared to look for a cat in a *no kill* shelter.

The internet is a wonderful thing & it was particularly wonderful in this instance because all the shelters can put up pretty pics of their available animals so you know before you set out who's got what. I fell in love, unmet, with Marlow. It wasn't just that he's a pretty, pretty boy.  His mug shot showed him sprawled on his back absolutely relaxed & contented.  Having kept cats for many years I know only a very trusting  & secure cat will do this ~ & that's the sort of temperament we wanted.

I loaded the girls in the car & we made the long trek out to Redcliff to here.  The boys were actually in foster care & being older kittens had become very attached to their carers.  Some of their behaviour oddities I'm sure stem from having sensitive, high strung natures & being in a shelter situation even though they were wonderfully cared for.  We had no intention of taking Kirby.  We wanted a smaller kitten as well & Star certainly had her eye on another, very sweet little grey tabby but during the course of our visit it became obvious it would be cruel & inhumane to separate the brothers so we took both cats.  I'm so glad we did. 

Now in the course of a misspent life I had lent our cat cages to various other bodies at different times.  One never came back at all & one came back in pieces so I no longer had carriers ~ a situation I notified the shelter about because they do cardboard ones.  However there were no cardboard ones available & we were debating coming back.  The carers, having decided their much loved kittens would be in a suitable & loving home with us were loathe to let the opportunity to rehome very special cats pass so lent us two sturdy metal carriers & spare litter trays ~ which we have had for 8 months! Yesterday we returned them.

Siano & I made the long trek out to Redcliffe, showed off recent pics of the boys lolling round the house like Lord Muck, admired & drooled over the present furry inhabitants & fell in love with the latest batch of kittens, dumped, half starved in the overnight cage in the pouring rain! It makes me so angry.  Just because we were given dominion over the earth & what inhabits it gives us no right to mistreat anything!  The kittens were not only gorgeous but desperate for affection & a little love ~ even before food.  The little girl, a Siamese cross [& I do have a terribly weak, soft spot for Siamese!] decided I was her person & curled up along my arm, snuggling deeper whenever I attempted to remove her & miaowing piteously whenever I ceased stroking her.  Hard to leave ~ but she barely weighed 300 gms at 6 weeks when she should weigh closer to 7 & the carers have a lot of work to grow her into a  healthy adoptable cat.  Her tabby brother was a real love bug with the loudest most rumbling purr for anyone who so much as glanced his way.

I know it's a fallen world & that all of creation is groaning as it awaits the fulfillment of God's promises.  I know that God says a righteous man will take care of his beasts. Genesis 9 indicates there will be some sort of judgement for animals, as there is for us frail human beings. With that in mind how we deal with the animals we are responsible for should weigh heavily on our conscience.  It is a mistake to think they are incapable of devotion.  Scripture teaches differently.  Besides, even without scripture, I have owned cats that were extraordinarily spiritually discerning. 

 Issi, who from kittenhood loved to sit with me while I listened to preaching & prayed, adored Christians with whom the spirit of God was strongest & got protective & aggro with some non~Christians.  Losing Iss was devastating.  He was only 5; well loved, well fed, well housed.  We should have had him for many, many more years. At the risk of being considered delusional & theologically unsound I know Issi is with Jesus.  I know because Jesus showed me so.  I was shown both Issi & Gyver [my aged part Siamese who was our first rescued cat] walking on either side of our Lord.

In the beginning God created.....& he considered it all very good.

We are still in the midst of kitten season.  Why people do not desex their animals I do not know but if you buy a shelter animal they come desexed & microchipped, & up to date with all the necessary shots ~ no small thing when you consider the cost of paying for these things yourself.  You won't get a pedigree with all the fancy papers but you will get an animal just as capable of affection & devotion & immensely grateful to have a loving home.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recovering my scattered wits.

Scattered wits take a long time picking up.~ Charles Dickens.

The band plays on.  We are now playing musical beds.  Theo went.  Liddy has gone.  In their place we have a friend of Dino's & my Sydney friend, Siano. My fried brains are slowly recovering.

The problem is that having had to put all sane & reasonable thought on hold for a month I now have so much whizzing round in there bringing order out of chaos may take some time.  It is very simple. I only have 2 speeds: run like a maniac or dead stop. I tend to run on coffee & nervous energy so I like quiet spacious intervals where I can hear myself think & make sense of the internal rumblings.  My roots are in the quiet things: the pound of the surf behind the big island to our east; green growing things in rich black soil; the loud rumbling purr of a contented cat.  I am not made for concrete & noise, for rush & bother & city traffic.  I still shudder about all the driving!  My nerves may never be the same. I may never be the same.  I have dropped the spooled thread that holds my days, the meditative pools wherein one may hear the silence of God, the unharried spaces that allow for a deep contentment.  As my Star has been loudly proclaiming, That's show business for you.  She would happily spin like a whirly~gig forever.

Travelling late at night with the rain bucketing down, an anxious eye on the clock gauging the frantic run for the last boat, is not sanity making but that little stretch of water is also a sanity saver. You get on the boat & the world just stops.  Immediately the pace is different.  The air is cleaner, cold & salty. The boat chugs along carving its way through the darkness with stately slowness. Over here no~one knows what a star our Star is.  She can paddle round in her ratty~tatties, go scurfing & crabbing,  walk round the block, sit in the upended tinny with her guitar singing her songs to the cats & magpies & no~one cares.  They may consider her a little odd & question the end results of homeschooling her but there is time & space for a little oddness. It is very grounding.

The idea of running Hannuka into Christmas, as I wanted to, fell by the wayside.  Liddy & Dino were the only ones who even made it to a church service of any kind. Does it matter?  For the first time in a long time I actually enjoyed Christmas.  When you consider population in terms of hundreds then the several thousands extra in the city are neither here nor there.  It is all totally overwhelming anyway.  Yet in a strange & convoluted way our emphasis was on giving.  We gave of our time for the carolling.  We gave of ourselves.  Christ was proclaimed in the city mall & I was so proud of our kids who coped admirably with the hecklers & occasional drunk [& yes, security moved them along pronto] & who turned up despite the rain & over tight schedules.

I have things I am thinking through & reading & that I will get around to chatting about sooner rather than later.  It is going to take a while to detox from The Gothic but that too will happen sooner rather than later.  Auditions are looming & Star is having a meltdown ~ though what she thinks I can do about it I do not know!  This is the year Star gets her L~plates.  Oh my!  Clear the roads! Lock up your children!  We are down to the wire academically. Just where did the time go? Life moves on. I will detour on the bye~ways & the back roads & only occasionally, & only when I have no other choice, venture out onto the highways.  As Star says, " Just breathe, mother!"  Breathing...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mixed reviews.

No surprise there. Bet the critics couldn't have got this off the ground let alone sung or played it but there you go. Linkies here & here  if you are interested.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It Rained...

 But nobody cared.  We were all together; and it was very good.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

 "feedback from the open rehearsal....lady in front of my sister wondered when the carols were starting...Thought she'd bought tickets to it!!!" ~ Anne Barklimore

We have survived.  The house, the cats, the family are all looking the worse for wear but Star sang her last carol for the year last night & when I walked into the house at the end of a very long day I was stunned to find the rest of the household had managed to sequester Theo away without letting on to me so we are almost a full house for Christmas. Liddy, who has driven & driven & driven, was an absolute blessing for me as I picked up a full blown cold & have been coughing & spluttering  & dying by degrees the last few days & wishing I could just lie down & sleep instead of zooting round Brisbane. 
The zooting was necessary.  During the full day rehearsals Liddy & I filled our time with Christmas shopping in town.  Probably not something I would want to do too often.  The sheer variety is overwhelming when you are used to your choices being far more limited but I did find something I know my Dearest will be thrilled with ~ & that is so rare we must just have had a blue moon!

Wednesday The Event came off.  Having got home at midnight no~one was real thrilled to be on a 6.30am boat but Star's call was for 8.30 & we had another little girl to pick up & take with us.  Five minutes before we walked out the door Star was screaming for her Black VM performance pants. You have no idea!  We tore the house apart.  No pants.  Logistically there were only so many places she could have left them but though we have searched high & low & asked everywhere [boats, stage door, carols, car]  those pants have disappeared into the nether land.  In desperation we grabbed every pair of black pants in the house but definitely not the way I was hoping to start our morning.

We met my mother off her train &  wangled seats right up the back of the stalls. The choir was supposed to be 600 voices but even with seating removed & a stage extension the Concert Hall was apparently never going to do that so the choir was about 300 voices & it showed.  Every time the orchestra got a little over excited the choir couldn't get over the top of them. Liddy promptly curled up in her seat & went to sleep.  It is so not her thing but she is always prepared to show willing to support our Star.

So what did I think?  Well, I am really pleased, after 12 months of hearing bits & pieces of the chorus work, to have heard the whole thing right through.  I am pleased we sat up the back because in places it was like a wall of sound coming at you. Closer to the stage must have felt like being consumed by a tidal wave.   Parts of it were absolutely exquisite: the a Capella, the soloists [Luke is an absolute sweetie & sounded magnificent]; the opening orchestra work gave me goosebumps.  In places the balance wasn't quite right & both melody & harmony disintegrated into a wall of noise but I think they sorted this for the performance because they got a standing ovation in the evening & I know they were working on it in the morning.

For anyone who is curious:  Here is a link to the media releases on the Gothic; Here are photos.  Both links are temporary.  Here & here is a Facebook link to more photos.  Enjoy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

And in other news...

"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through  it together"  ~ Garrison Keillor
 One of the joys of having older children is they take responsibility ~ some of the time.  Their expectations are different.  Having got to Christmas week with no sign of the encroaching season the children decided something really needed to be done, so Dino & Star put up the tree.
 Liddy supervised ~ as is her wont ~ & declared it made it feel like Christmas is on it's way.  For me this has been one of the better Christmases.  I have been nowhere near the shops.  My fraughtness comes from another quarter entirely.  However this has left my mind free to dwell on the issues that are important to me without getting myself into a tizz about the commercialism.  I have seen a lot of carol singing ~ but these are mostly the older carols that highlight Christ's birth, sung a Capella & in harmony; truly lovely.  I have travelled ~ & I have read.  I have been in my own little bubble just to deal with each day as it comes, which is all either Star or I can cope with just now.  a
 The girl is Dino's right hand man just now.  This is usually Theo's role but Theo is up on Hamilton & Dino dearly loves company.  He'll even put up with Star at a pinch.
 When there is drought in the land there is drought at sea too so the breaking of the drought has meant good news for the fishermen too.  The muddies are back doing what they do best in the places they are meant do it...
  So there will be muddies for Christmas.  Pity I don't like them....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Some pics to hold you...

Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal." ~ Lenore Hershey

 Pretty much everyone involved in The Gothic is a volunteer ~ which means we carry our own costs for travel, food, uniforms etc, & I can assure you none of that comes cheap.  Actually nothing to do with music is ever cheap, which could explain why it is such an elitist thing these days. The massed choir alone is over 600 voices ~ which is probably why this monster is supposedly cursed.  Logistics, logistics, logistics.  An absolute nightmare.  It hasn't been performed in over thirty years & never before outside Great Britain.  Consequentially the camera crews...

However, in gratitude the powers that be arranged for every participant to be given a coffee mug saying they survived the curse of the Gothic.  Only they've handed them out before the performance!  Wishful thinking?

Star is chuffed.  I think it's a pretty cool memento, don't you?
 And here we are inside the Old Museum.  Six hundred voices warmed up in here while the rain blustered down yesterday.  I curled up on a couch & caught up on some much needed sleep in between my reading.  The driving has been awful.  Yesterday the left lane down Kingsford Smith was all awash & every big truck that flew past sent water skirling across the road skewing my car & flooding my windshield.  The white lines disappeared & we couldn't see any of the signage until we were practically past it.  Yuk!  It is tiring.  We were time deprived too, rushing to get the car back to Liddy in time for church.  Neither Star nor I were interested.  We were wet & getting cold & thinking about hot showers & hot coffee & warm toes.
 More caroling Saturday at the local performing arts centre.  As you can see it is a very, very small group but they do get a big sound & they are all fairly experienced.
And we rocked up as per usual to the island carols on Friday night ~ a performance Star hates to miss because, while a participant, she is not required to perform, something so rare she has been known to comment how odd it is to be in the audience.  Throws her a bit.

I am hugely grateful for the couches at the Old Museum & that no~one threw me out as my alternative, the nearby Victoria Park, would have been most unpleasant under the circumstances & the thought of driving anywhere & having to come back on my own just does my head in completely!  I thought it was just me:  World's Biggest Woos; but apparently not.  I have met a number of mum's over the past few days who refuse point blank to drive in Brisbane!  Believe me, I completely understand this! Now I feel rather brave & daring ~ not that I ever had any choice!

Sound check today, dress rehearsal tomorrow.  The last of the logistics to get everyone on & off stage at QPAC get nailed down over the next 2 days.  We have all been advised to keep a sense of humour as things get ever more fraught.  Good advice I think.  Advice I had to take almost immediately when Star dropped our mobile in a puddle & killed it.  Star is carolling at Southbank as well over the next 4 days then I will have just 24 hours to tie our Christmas together.  I expect Star & I will sleep through it.  I am past caring.  Hibernation is starting to look highly attractive for the next 6 months or so.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The way it is.

 It's one of the tragic ironies of the theatre that only one man in it can count on steady work--the night watchman --Tallulah Bankhead

Everyone has had enough. We were without power for nearly 48 hours after Thursday's massive storms, yet still running for the final lead up to The Gothic.  The girls & I got home after a really full day to find the islands blacked out & no chance power would be restored soon.  No dinner.  No showers. No caffeine.

Liddy navigated me in to the Old Museum yesterday; Star has to do it today.  I am not looking forward to this but being a Saturday I'm hoping the traffic won't be quite so bad.  I'm hoping Star will have her head securely screwed on & nothing majorly untoward will happen.

I wanted to woos on today [& I don't think I'm the only one] but heads are starting to roll [as they always do this close to a big production] & only a fool would pull the tiger's tail at this point.  Everyone is being yelled at. I am so pleased this isn't the first time Star has worked with John Curro, who is conducting.  The kids climbed in the car yesterday & let of steam by being as silly as they possibly could but if you know rehearsals you know they would have spent most of their 4 hours standing round waiting & having to be absolutely silent.  Thankfully Star takes all the *artistic temperament* flying round in her stride.  As she herself says, she has far too big an ego to take it personally. I'm not even going to attempt to justify that one.

She will go straight to a performance tonight so we will be home late but thankfully tomorrow we are back in QPAC & not only is that far easier to get to, I know where to get parking & how to get home again.  Dearest is feeling neglected ~ because he is.  The cats are beside themselves. The storm flattened my corn & demolished my tomatoes but I do not have time to sort that just now.  I have yet to do any Christmas shopping ~ nor do I want to.  I just want the madness to stop ~ which it will: in 4 days, 11 hours & 29 minutes [yes, I am counting down]. And we will all say, Hallelujah!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trumpets sound and angels sing

Listen what they say
That man will live forevermore
Because of Christmas Day.

Star is carolling this morning.  I put her on a 5am boat.  Tonight should be fun.

At least she was cheerful this morning ~ given she doesn't like mornings.  She has 2 performances, another tomorrow & we have the island carols on Friday after a Gothic rehearsal.  Great attitude from the girl.  I just wish she showed the same dedication & hard work for her academics!

I have lots on my mind.  Ember is once again tickling my brain cells ~ but I am too tired to be terribly coherent despite several days in a row at home now ~ & Dani, at the Lightbulb, has been chatting with me about the various ways in which we misrepresent the gospel.  I can only hope I was making some sort of sense to her.  And I have been reading.  Philipa Gregory again.  Anne of Cleves [The Boleyn Inheritance] is so much more interesting than I ever would have imagined ~ & much, much smarter;  she evaded Henry's bloodthirsty axe.  Catherine of Aragon too  {The Constant Princess}~ who suffers from a serious image problem with me because I first knew of her as the plump, dowdy little Spanish wife Anne Boleyn overshadowed  ~ but as the child of a Queen in her own right [Isabella of Castille] who wore armour into battle & kameeze in the Alhambra they took from the Moors she was much more politically savvy than spoilt little Henry ~ & managed him far better than any of his succeeding wives, pandering to his outrageous vanity & remaining as a stinging gadfly through 5 marriages yet keeping her head, no mean feat. 

 My reading list is growing ever longer.  I need to read up on Isabella ~ an iron butterfly who sponsored Columbus as well as instigating the Inquisition & seemed to believe her will & God's will were one & the same thing.  Sounds like an interesting woman.

I should dearly like to cancel Christmas but however intricate & embroiled my logistics are at the moment I doubt they are anywhere near the headache The Gothic is.  Yes indeedy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The other side now.

I've looked at life from both sides now,

From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all. ~ Joni Mitchell

Star is not my only child ~ though she is, perhaps, my most demanding one.  Thus I once again found myself on the mainland on Sunday heading off to church with Liddy.  And after church, because this is a youth service, all the young ones head to the local Maccas for hot chocolates & cheeseburgers.  Willy~nilly I must tag along.  I expect to sit quietly on the periphery because this is a bright young crowd of uni students & graduates doing things like engineering & medical research.  Ahem. I could be forgiven for feeling a little out of of my depth.  I am in my 5th decade as opposed to their 2nd & my degree, for what it's worth, is in literature.

Now God has a sense of humour & he loves doing this to me.  There I was quietly minding my own business & struggling with those odd caps they put on the take~a~way cups that are like a child's drinking cup & absolutely confuddle me ~ but I digress ~ when some misguided young man [apropos of who has seen the new Narnia movie, which I haven't yet because I promised I'd go with Star & Star has been otherwise occupied recently] mentioned Tolkien & Lord of the Rings.  Mentioning Tolkien round me is like waving a red flag at a bull.  Now don't get me wrong.  I think Tolkien was a great visionary & it says a great deal about his genius that every fantasy book since has been derivative of his work but let's face it; the man needed a brave editor with a good red pencil & a sharp pair of scissors because Tolkien waffles terribly losing the whole impetus of his plot & bogging things down for chapters at a time. The movies have been wonderful for tightening & streamlining the whole unwieldy mess.  Mention Tolkien & I am pretty much guaranteed to start muttering something of the sort under my breath ~ or quite loudly, as the case may be.  Mention Tolkien & everybody in a uni crowd will have an opinion.  He is revered in ways Lewis is not & yet in many ways Lewis is a much better writer.  For one thing Lewis doesn't waffle half so much!

Comparisons are odious ~ or so Disraeli says ~ but everyone will compare Tolkien & Lewis.

"Lewis", snorted one young man dismissively, "Mixes his mythologies."  Oh boy.

"But so does Tolkien, " I said sweetly. "He mixes Scandinavian & Celtic mythologies "~ as perhaps only a Celticist would know but still....  There was a shattered little silence in which Liddy could be clearly seen tugging at said young man's arm & hissing frantically, "Don't go there!"  Liddy, who has read nothing of Tolkien's & can't stand the books, though I did read all the children The Hobbit at one point, has heard me argue this point before & was wise enough to realise the young man was extremely unlikely to win any argument because I like Scandinavian mythology nearly as much as I do Celtic mythology & I never engage in debate unless I am absolutely certain of my ground.  He'd have been better with Greek/Roman mythology where I am exceptionally vague...

These things are fairly predictable.  The crowd was off & running & it was only a matter of time before someone mentioned Harry Potter  ~ wherein I also have rather unorthodox views for the sort of Christian I am.  I refuse to be upset by Harry Potter, which is clearly pretend, when there are practising Wiccans out there writing books with the deliberate intent of drawing young adults into Wicca & teaching them real spells. If I am forced to engage in battle I will choose the real battlefield that has oh so conveniently slipped under the radar while everyone fusses about Harry Potter.

At which point Liddy decided we really needed to make the next boat!  Pity.  I need someone who's actually read Kafka [I haven't] because I am reading a book called Why you should read Kafka & have come to the conclusion I really don't need to read this deranged man at all ~ but a 2nd opinion would be good.  Anyone?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm not safe to let out on my own.

"Everyone claims to want a city, but no one here wants city living." ~ Robert N. Davis, Jr
Every day I have travelled into the city with Star & wandered round on my own while she has done her Starry thing or sequestered myself in the Green Room with a book .  It's not that I mind my own company; quite the contrary. However one is never exactly alone in a city however lonely one may feel & the sheer crowds are a little intimidating when you live on an island that for several decades has counted its population in the hundreds, rather than the thousands.
 So after I dumped Star yesterday Liddy & her friends caught up with me so I had company at Southbank.  Unfortunately the weather was far from co~operative & we spent a good deal of time sheltering from monsoonal downpours ~ though 2 of our company decided swimming in the rain was a really good idea. No comment ~ except to say I wasn't one of them.
 We distinctly put Star's nose out of joint by grabbing a hot chocolate at Max Brenners. [Siano, if you are reading: not a patch on the one we got! ☺]

 We shared the day with the wildlife ~ one of the smaller water dragons that seemed to be everywhere~
 & the rather strange sculptures that appeared in peculiar places,

Though one can only wonder about the Christmas decorations.
Given that Saturday is a Southbank Market day & Southbank is usually inundated with massive tourist crowds I had given us a little extra time to get in.  Good thing too.  As Star & I sleepily boarded the boat the Lord bore down on my mind the need to do some necessary car maintenance.  Now I am firmly of the opinion anything mechanical should never need much done to it [& if a woman had invented these things that would most certainly be the case but men seem to like fiddling with these little things] so when I stopped to put fuel in I decided to check the oil, water & tires while I was at it.

First problemo: neither Star nor I had the least idea.  I am not good with these things.  Out came the manual just so we could find the latch for the bonnet.  Even with the manual we were having no luck.  The first male stopped & pulled the lever for us.  I gazed uncertainly into the depths of my engine.  At least the oil cap was marked OIL in nice big letters but everything else seemed to be in German.  I stood there with the manual in one hand comparing the size & shape of the various things that lived under my hood with the illustrations in the booklet.  A second man stopped & translated for me; he didn't seem to need a manual in order to do that!  I am cultivating a decidedly helpless look.  Good thing I checked though.  Thank you, Lord for looking out for us when I am too ditzy to do it for myself.

I believe I said I had resolved all our parking problems.  I just should never say these things.  I whizzed into QPAC Friday, zipped down Little Stanely Street all prepared to whip into our nice, handy & cheap parking ~ only to find the car park was already full & Southbank had so many things on I would be lucky to find parking at all.  Round & round I went thinking unmentionable things about cities in general & Brisbane in particular while Star kept track of our whereabouts & eventually guided me into a half empty but very expensive garage.  By then all I was interested in was no longer having to drive, not how much I would have to pay by 10pm.

Come 10pm we scraped every last cent we had together & joined the rather long que to escape the place. I shoved our ticket in & the machine spat it back at me but the barrier did not rise.
"Put your money in, " said the unflappable Star.  Without my glasses I could see very little & was shoving notes randomly at this stupid thing & wishing I was safely home in my bed sleeping the sleep of the deserving while the que behind us grew longer...& longer!

Eventually the extremely patient man behind us called out [nicely, helpfully] that we actually had to pay somewhere else entirely!  What!  I handed Star money & ticket as there was absolutely no chance I could reverse & let others edge past us.

"Where do I go?" she blurted.
"Ask him." I pointed to the man behind us. " He seems to know what he's doing." Star ran ~ & returned without the necessary ticket.  The line grew longer.  Horns started honking.  Now I might get myself into these pickles but once in them I am not fashed by what people might think so as there was nothing to do but work our way through the process of resolving our little issue that's exactly what I did & ignored the rude car honkers who probably live in the city & do this all the time.  We don't & are clueless & that's life.  I am remarkably patient & unfazed in these situations ~ but then what can really go wrong if I am stationary?  If only they'd known it the car honkers should have been far more worried when we were under way again!

Liddy, naturally, was horrified & thanking her stars she was not in the car for this little escapade ~ but then if she'd been with us I would not have been driving & the chances are this would not have happened at all.  Mind you, she has her own issues with Brisbane.  She was ranting as we were worked our way down Vulture Street in the masses of traffic that had just emerged from every theatre, show & pub in town that it was insane that 5 lanes of traffic suddenly became one on the other side of an intersection.  This is true ~ but you know, I'd never noticed.  And it has finally twigged why I have so much trouble driving in town.  I watch the traffic like a hawk.  City drivers are raving lunatics ~ especially the ones like me who don't know what they are doing or where they are going.  I have no time to note landmarks.  I have noted Liddy pays far more attention to landmarks but is more than a little scary in traffic.  I don't think she sees half of what goes on around her & she will be the first to tell you she's not the most observant of people.  Scary, isn't it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

If it's never green...

"He had that curious love of green, which in individuals is always the sig of a subtle artistic temperament, and in nations is said to denote a laxity, if not a decadence of morals." ~ Oscar Wilde.

Last night I was okayed to wait for Star in *The Green Room.*  I got my little clip on pass & my instructions to not venture out of the place because they don't want strays like me bugging the performers.  The only performer I am interested in is my Star so everyone else is perfectly safe.

Now the Green Room is something of an anomaly because the Green Room is normally not green.  It can be any colour of the rainbow but green it is not  The QPAC Green Room has whitish walls covered with large prints of a backstage production, a pool table, computer access, a large orange pay phone, vending machines & better couches for sleeping on than I have at home ~ & you wanna bet people nap on them ~ all the time!  It also has two large monitors so I got to watch Star though the sound system crackles into life spasmodically announcing random calls for different productions: "QPAC choir this is your 5 minute call. Please have your lines formed for entering. The stage is now live..." Yeah.

Now being the curious person that I am I wanted to know why they call a room that's not green the Green Room.      You'd think they'd have an explanation for this peculiarity but it is likely to remain one of the minor mysteries of my  life though there are some theories around. The one I like & that makes the most sense  dates from Medieval theatre in the round.  The central acting area, because these performances took place outside, was usually grassed & known as *The Green*.  Thus the room before one entered The Green became The Green Room.  Makes sense to me. The other one is that the holding room was covered in green baize  ~ thus the green room.

What I do know is that superstitious theatre types consider it massively bad luck to ever actually paint the Green Room green. 

As for the Star: she looked absolutely stunning in her floor length black gown with a long sleeved lightweight hip length bolero type jacket over & her hair up in a stylish bun. So chic.  So glamorous ~ & of course she's totally beautiful.  No, I don't have a pic.  She wouldn't let me take one, partly because close up she looks like death & high water due to lack of sleep & partly because days of make~up under stage lights has done ghastly things to her skin .  In this make believe world of the theatre things are never quite what they seem.                                                                                                           

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It only gets more insane.

I believe I said the arts were a whore.  The highest bidder on Wednesday was one of the local schools for their carols night.  I put Star on a boat to travel with another mum & returned home to find an e~mail saying she was wanted in at QPAC for a sound check after the concert. I considered having an extreme meltdown but logistically it was not something that was achievable on such short notice so I managed to breathe & send our apologies but poor old Star knew nothing about it until she arrived at her concert & then had people offering to take her in & out.  In was never the problem.  Out certainly was.  Wisely she reasoned she wouldn't make that last boat & came home, leaving stray bits of her uniform in someone else's car.  That is so unlike Star it just goes to show how tired she now is.  She has always been very organised about her choir belongings & very rarely slips up like that.

So we are down to the wire for The Spirit of Christmas.  Star is part of a demi~choir [a small choir within the choir] who are on hand held mikes to sing Carol of the Bells. They will move to the front of the stage for this, taking the high soprano part.  Hm.  Counting is everything ~ & Star is not the only one who dislikes counting. I am over this carol.  I have heard it non~stop for days while Star gets it up to speed & the counting right ~ & believe me, it is way too big a song for our small Barina!  All the kids are tired & voices are starting to crack on the high A but if I know our AVAE kids all will be well on the night.  They lift for a performance, finding that little extra something they need.  I got one of the last of 3 tickets for Saturday night's performance.  If I were rich, which I'm seriously not, I would have got a ticket to every performance because I know Star looks for me [very discreetly] when she knows I'm in the audience.  Once or twice she's seen us when not expecting it & has startled; it's nice, knowing she likes having us in the audience.

Liddy has been sharing the driving with me.  So nice because it means I have company while Star does her starry thing & because it alleviates some of the stress.  Between us [& the lovely lady at QPAC] we have finally sorted out our parking woes.  No wonder I never found it.  It is hidden down a narrow one way street [& I avoid one way streets on principal as it is far too easy to make a major screw up on them] but the cost is more than reasonable & I can park for as long as I like. 

Next week we move to The Old Museum for the final Gothic rehearsals, which are becoming a little fraught.  This is such a mammoth performance I am hardly surprised, though this close to performance one would hope most of the major bugs had already been ironed out.

I know you are all probably as over this as I am but if I don't dump here I might just go slightly loopy.  Bear with me.  We are nearly done & I can breathe, Star can sleep & Liddy can stop rolling her eyes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

From my garden to my plate.

It's a guy thing to plant vegetables in your front flower bed, but then again,  it's also a guy thing to put them out back in a big rectangle.  It's a little radical to put them in front, a statement that you can do whatever you want in your own damn yard.~ Warren Schultz

I went out to pick some baby silverbeet for dinner because I had some lemon & there's nothing yummier than sliverbeet drenched in lemon juice with a twist of cracked pepper.  Obviously I need to pay more attention.  Not only did I have silverbeet I had cucumbers & butter beans.

Straight from the garden to my plate!  They taste like veggies should!
All the rain means my veggies are flourishing.  God is good.  I just have to remember to pick every day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life is too short for traffic. ~Dan BellackIt was midnight last night before we walked in our door.  I feel like I've been run over by a Mac Truck & the last boat is always a bit dodgy ~ which is only to be expected; all sane people are already home in bed & safely tucked up for the night.

Now I could grizzle about Brisbane parking ~ but I figure you've all heard quite enough of my opinions on Brisbane!  If you remove the driving & the parking, which so traumatize me, there are actually things I like about being in Brisbane.  It is, after all, our capital city.  Being a Sydney girl I sorta cringe about that.  Brizzie river just can't compare with Sydney Harbour & QPAC isn't a patch on the Opera House ~ though probably far more sensible & functional!  Given that Brisbane wasn't blessed with the pristine & glorious harbour Sydney owns as a right, it tries.  It really does.  Southbank was a brilliant conception ~ though naturally not a patch on what we live with everyday on the islands.  Still, it is an oasis of green pleasantness & cosmopolitian food ~ & it owns a most divine little chocolate & coffee shop.  Not that we could afford to buy anything in there but the smell was glorious!

One of the problems, of course, is we never go into Brisbane for pleasure. It's the city; why would we?  So when we go in it is always work related & we are under pressure before we start.  Yesterday we arrived early with several hours to waste so I shouted us all icecreams [one of the really excellent things about Southbank] &  we wandered through the gardens watching the city~cats plough up & down the river & braved the misty showers of rain.

Liddy, who had the car in the morning, had opted to come in with us & did the driving.  A rather novel experience for me to be able to give that child clear directions but negotiating Stanely street with all its overhead lights, is a health hazzard.  Star & I have this down pat now & Liddy drives with the confidence of the young so we hurtled down Grey Street & found street parking at Southbank.
 Now QPAC has a different dress code than AVAE because it is not primarily a children's ensemble.  It is a full choir with 4 sections & the ladies are required to wear a  black floor length gown or skirt.  Star has a dress.  We spotted one cheap that she liked a while back & got it on the off~chance we would eventually need one ~ & so we do.  However it needed a long sleeved bolero or shrug so we had to look for that yesterday.  My girls are typical teens.  Take them into a clothes shop & they end up in the dressing rooms with armsful of clothing to try on.  As Star invariably looks ghastly in modern fashions we rarely buy anything but yesterday she spotted this cream sun dress a la Marilyn Monroe & we actually urged her to try it on.  She looked a million dollars so I splurged & that is the only Christmas present I have bought to date!

Long rehearsal & t.v cameras in [& Star had left her media release at home so we had to do that over again] so Liddy & I visited friends at Kangaroo Point.   Wonderful born~again Christians who served as missionaries in Asia with drug addicts & as bible smugglers.  They are some of our favourite people.  I won't visit on my own as finding them requires crossing a bridge & negotiating poorly marked streets so it is something I do with Liddy in tow to do the driving.  There we were having the most wonderful time of fellowship & catching up when Bam!  The lights went out!  Only in our street!  How's that?

And while I was there anyway I picked up my ticket for Saturday night's performance ~ & sorted out my parking because the ticket office people should know all about that, shouldn't they?  Well the QPAC people do because I bet I'm not the only one who's ever had a psychotic meltdown about getting in to town only to find there is no parking to be had!

Dearest, who has barely seen us in days & has been very much left to his own devices & whatever food he can scrounge from a sadly depleted pantry, says the cats started losing it about 10.00pm ~ the time we have been walking in the door.  They are going to have to get over this ~ but they are not finding all the comings & goings easy to deal with & last night they thought none of their women were coming home.  I suspect they view us as their harem & are not impressed when we wander too far from home.

The house is scented with gardenia, one of my favourite flowers.  I much prefer them to roses & the delicate creamy petals that bruise so easily delight me.  I planted a new one to remember Issi & the most wonderful blooms have just started to open all over. 

Concert tonight.  Dress rehearsal for QPAC tomorrow.  Concerts Friday & Saturday. Gothic rehearsal Monday.  The month is slowly whittling away. I imagine Christmas will happen whether or not I am ready for it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

No soft options.

Oh great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art & perfect our lives ~ Jim Morrison.

We were coming home the other night in a boat crowded with friends & acquaintances ~ which is not the optimum way to socialise but the way I do it more often than not.  So we socialised & I got to hear all about everything  which is more than I usually hear because I am never here & even when I am I tend to hide away at home.  Yes, I am anti~social.  It's not that I don't like people it's just I find it all rather exhausting & we do enough of it in other areas.

So instead of leaning my head against the window & catching a quick between islands nap I listened to my friends gripe about the high school their children attend.  Now their oldest girl is a friend of Star's, a little younger but a friend, & together they did drama on the island with the lovely Mia & enjoyed themselves immensely though in the end Star, who has been trained under Alison, was gripping about the lack of professionalism & I happily arranged for us to be otherwise busy because I felt that the drama was a waste of time, time that invariably is in short supply.  Most of the kids were so stage shy they either couldn't or wouldn't perform & as that is the whole point...!!!

So Star's friend was looking forward to high school & the opportunity to do drama as one of her option subjects & the chance to perform properly on stage.  Um, what is it with our schools?  Drama, along with music & to a lesser degree, sport is seen as a *soft option* for the academically less gifted.  This flummoxes me.  Is it sheer ignorance?  I do not know of any group of people who work harder for less reward than people in the arts.  Seriously.  I don't know too many adults who could stand silently for an hour or more while technicians run sound & light checks.  They cat nap in the Green Room when they can because they are forced to keep peculiar hours.  They eat odd meals at odder times depending on call times & however grotty they may feel themselves they are asked to give of themselves without stint performance after performance.

So Star's friend, to her bitter disappointment, found that Mia's little island drama group was actually better value than the school's.  Star was horrified.  I bit my tongue.  It's not that I was so very wise.  We pretty much fell into AVAE thanks to the Lord's leading & my complete & utter ignorance but I am so grateful for the Lord's leading on this.  There is no room for divas in the performance industry.  I have watched with growing appreciation as Star has been groomed to work in this industry ~ & the singing is the least of it, I can assure you.  The children are drilled in performance etiquette: the conductor is *Maestro* [& don't giggle]; water bottle, music & pencil only!; never, ever admit, no matter what you do to cover it up, that you have forgotten your words;  arrive made up, warmed up & with your wardrobe in immaculate condition; do not chatter backstage ~ the mikes pick up every little sound.  They are taught how to walk on stage, take a default position & stand absolutely still ~ & it is only when I have the rare opportunity to watch other choirs I can appreciate what a difference this makes to the overall presentation.  It is not about grooming *stars* & pandering to egos.  It is about ensuring these children can find work as working musicians in a notoriously difficult industry.  It is about ensuring they know the dangers & how to avoid them.  It is about ensuring they don't come to this industry with stars in their eyes & inflated expectations.  Mostly it is about discipline; self discipline.

Now Star is a drama queen extraordinaire ~ but she saves it for home & the indulgence of a loving mummy. She knows there is a certain leeway in rehearsals for a joke & a bit of fun ~ & she knows when to stop & be professional.  Do you know how many professionals don't want to work with kids?  Do you know why all the starry~eyed kids who are talented & gifted, often way more so than my Star, won't get the same sort of opportunities?  Because Star has been trained as a professional & her friends have been shunted off to a *soft option* that no~one takes very seriously.  It makes me sad.  We so need our artists & the view they have of the world.  We need the colour, the pantomime, the drama.  We need to be reminded that life is more than the work we do, the food we eat, the clothes we wear.  Life is spirit & soul dancing amongst the stars; it is the song in our blood & the sun in our eyes.  It is a dazzle & a wonder.  It costs something to create that vision & there are no soft options.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

 One can survive everything nowadays, excpt death, & live down anything except a good reputation. ~ Oscar Wilde.

We are navigating the maze that is December.  It has rained so hard the yard went under water ~ again.  The veggies are drowning.  We are out of clean clothes & recycling the dirty.  There is no tree & no decorations; I have done no cards & no newsletter & as Star & I haphazzardly put together lunch for our visitors today we realised we hadn't eaten a proper meal under our own roof in over a week; we just hadn't realised.  We have been running, running, running: over tired, high strung, wired to sleeplessnes.  The cats are getting quite psychotic.

Yesterday Star was suppossed to go to a Gothic rehearsal with another mum.  I had planned my day to catch up on the necessary things like the shopping & the washing, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors.  It was not to be.  An e~mail came through saying Star was wanted in at QPAC.  Cancel all plans!  We left as soon as possible & were still late.  AVAE are now part of The Spirit of Christmas & we are in QPAC rehearsals all week.  Three hours at a time.  Street parking is metered for 2 hours at a time. Concerts Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night.  I got one of the last tickets for Saturday night because the kids get a little spot all their own, out the front with hand~held mikes.  Oh. My.  Star is as blase as can be. Mind you they parked me in the Green Room, which was rather nice as the rain was dribbling down outside & it was hardly pleasant in Southbank, & instead of staring goggle eyed at all the performers prancing through the place I curled up in a comfy chair & read about the bloodthirsty Tudors lopping off heads left, right & centre. I'm a little odd that way & totally over the whole arty~farty thing.  I think the Arts are a whore selling herself to the highest bidder & rather tawdry behind the scenes ~ but fun if you don't take it too seriously.

QPAC is not a huge drama ~ not any more.  I have some idea of what I'm doing & that helps so much but I know Star is starting to feel it.  She was absolutely silent coming home.  So unlike her!  We still have a long way to go but I managed to get hold of Dino, who is almost flooded in out Dubbo way & watching billions of dollars in wheat submerge as the drought breaks, & Liddy ~ who wants picking up from somewhere or other.  Ha! It had better be local or it's just not happening. 

So we are surviving  ~ & I haven't killed Star yet.  I cuddle my cats when I can & the house will still be there when we emerge at the end of December to survey the remains.