Thursday, December 30, 2010
For the first time in ages I'm having holidays between the two celebration days, and its lovely. Usually when I have holidays I'm either traveling or in a show (and sometimes both). This time its just lovely to have days to do nothing, or do something if you feel like it. So far the house has suffered my extra energy and some massive tidying up and clearing out has been happening. Lots more needs to happen but its a start.
We resisted the manic aspect of Christmas and chose to have a quieter day of our own design. Funnily enough we managed to see most of both of our families between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, and in a much more satisfying one to one way than the usual wild-eyed panic way that often happens on the big day.
I've managed to find time to sit and stare, which is one of the most recuperatve exercises ever, I've finished a book I've had for ages (reading it, not writing it), written some standup for February, juggled the Teenager's Maccas work schedule chauffeuring requirements, drunk some lovely wine, eaten some great food and had plentiful time to hang out with my gorgeous husband.
New Year's Eve will be similarly and deliberately quiet with just a gentle thanks being felt for all the good things we have.
2011 is going to be an awesome year - I can feel it in my bones. With us Three Stuffed Mums just getting started, the learning curve is just getting steeper, but with two such excellent companions on the journey as Kate and Kehau its more like fun than work. Our backing tracks are almost complete thanks to Mike and we're practicing like crazy.
Its so difficult for women - especially women over 30 to see their lives reflected back in a positive way from the the media and that's the imbalance we want to help address.
Its ok be you, to enjoy your life and your age whatever that may be. If you're a mum, whatever you and your kid are going through, its probably pretty normal and a bunch of us have gone through it before.
If we can laugh about it, it ceases to hold power over us. If we can talk about it, maybe together we can solve it. Whatever it is that's bugging us, just getting together with a group of women to talk will unearth so much wisdom. The media and business world aren't too interested in that wisdom, but it's there for us and we just need to find our own ways to channel and distribute it. It used to be that there were grannies, mums,aunties and sisters about to create that support group but its not so prevalent now and so many women, especially new mums, can become isolated. And that's what Three Stuffed Mums is pretty much about. We live our lives, we bring up kids, we make mistakes, we learn from that and we have a laugh about it.
Anyway, we're heading towards the new year, so I'll just say this: I wish you the best of all that you wish for yourself in the coming year. To quote from someone else that I know;
"Keep close, spread love and change no one but yourself."
Happy New Year everyone.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
The guy driving it is obviously someone who is unclear on the concept of ice cream vans, given that the idea is to pick a good spot, play your tune through the speakers as you approach it, stop there and wait for your punters to rock up for a sugar hit.
The guy on our local Mr Whippy hasn't quite made that connection. You can hear him for the entire afternoon going around the area with an alternate selection of Home on the Range/Greensleeves playing, but he never freaking stops!
He's just raced up our street with a blast of Greensleeves, got to the turning point, done a 180 and raced back down again with Home on the Range going like the clappers.
I've lived here for ten years now, I've never seen him stop! He's too fast to try running out to hail down, and I can never hear Greensleeves or Home on the Range in my head without the doppler effect. Steven reckons the 'no stopping' thing is to get the fat kids moving, the reasoning being that if they catch him then they truly deserve an ice cream.
Not like when I was a kid (she said, adjusting her mature boobs like Les Dawson in drag). Back then in the 60s in Castlemilk the nightly visit of the ice cream van was the highlight of the day. Two bottles of ginger (Irn Bru and Ginger Beer, Barr's of course), an oyster for my dad and a cone for me, and two packets of crisps (always Golden Wonder cheese and onion).
It got to be that the sound of Pelosi's van chimes produced a Pavolvian response in me, such was the importance of his visit to our street. I'd grab the bag with the two empty ginger bottles in it for refund, grab the money from dad and run down the close stairs. God forbid I was slow and missed the van.
It all went well until one night when I was about ten. The van chimes went off when I was mid-pee and the pavlovian response kicked in. I was running down the lobby of our flat trying to hitch my knickers and grab the empties at the same time. I made it down most of the first flight of stairs then, horror! I tripped and fell and the bottles smashed around me.
My brother in law who was staying with us ran out to see if I was ok. According to his reports he saw me lying in the middle of a pool of smashed glass wailing "Ahm gonny miss the van, ahm gonny miss the van!"
Such is the power of the sugar hit!
Thankfully, the kids in my area will never have that problem. They'll live with that disappointment ingrained in them, as each week demonstrates they'll never catch Stirling Moss who drives our ice cream van. And forever, every time they hear Greensleeves or Home on the Range their hearts will remember that feeling of not being able to quite catch what they wanted.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Its been a while. Its been rather busy. Work especially has been deadline-heavy, so roll on the post-cutoff calm - and Christmas.
And yes, Christmas is about to roll around once more and once again I try to cope with the northern immigrant dissonance of a winter festival in the middle of summer. I know European settlement in Australia is only 200 years old but I guess I must be a bit tied to the pagan ways of following the seasons. I do wish we had a midwinter celebration of lights here to help literally enlighten the winter. And then celebrate midsummer at Christmas time instead of copying the northern hemisphere in its images of a snowy landscaped Christmas.
And then there's the whole Christ story itself. I used to be a strict catholic, brought up by strict catholics, but as I grew older I started to question what kind of God thought it necessary to allow his son to be tortured to death. What kind of rule said that had to happen. He's god after all, he could make and break rules with impunity. If he chose not to do that, then I chose not to keep company with that particular deity.
Same for the virgin birth thing. When you read past the gloss of deification its a rotten way for a baby to come into the world with an unwed mother forced to travel far so near to delivery time, with no accommodation at the end, giving birth in a byre just so daddy god could prove the point that he's still 'from the block'. Hmm it begins to smell like something a human of limited imagination would write, rather than an all knowing deity.
Don't get me wrong, Jesus is one of my heroes. He stood up and spoke of love in a time and place that was decidedly short of it. His words - his true words, not the edited gospel ones - talk of new ideas about actually loving your neighbour. He didn't make any rules about condoms or gay people or the evils of marrying a protestant (one of the biggies from my childhood). He just said that the greatest law was to love the creator, and to love your neighbour as you love yourself. You can spend your whole life just trying to get that little bundle right without anything else. Everything else was added by us humans under the Jesus brand.
So, even for us pagan heathens, there's something in the Jesus story to celebrate and reflect upon. The love for a baby, the fellowship with the animals and our position here together upon the earth. The baby depends on his parents for survival, we humans depend on our animals and our plants for survival. We're all part of the chain of life and throughout that chain we need to apply what we know to make it better for all.
Enjoy the run up to the holiday, enjoy reflecting on what it means for you, and wherever you are hold your people and your animal companions close to your heart because they are what its all about.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Just when I think that its good, in my more creative area to settle for the status quo I get some pretty prime indications that its time to move forward and progress. Meanwhile in the area where traditionally the world would be telling me to be ambitious and push forward at all costs, I'm finding a fantastic pool of calm and contentment. Life, huh? Who'd know?
My work colleagues at Council - that raggle taggle mob of souls who are genuinely dedicated to serving the community - guys I salute you and I salute the warmth and - dare I say it - love - you bring to the workplace. We're a diverse bag of personalities and preferences, but you guys make coming to work on a Monday a lighter experience, and for all that I salute you!
My Stuffed Mum Sistas - Kehau and Kate - who knew that nearly ten years after we all met, and after working on various projects together that in hindsight were perfect 'training wheels' we'd be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime together?
And then there are the wonderfully supporting partners - Steven, Jeff and Glynn - who act as chefs to feed us, photographers to make us look good and handymen to provide our infrastructure amongst other things - we love you guys and we are blessed for having you. Go Guys.
I guess I'm just having an attack of thankfulness, and a realisation that despite all the daily shit we must attend to, I'm pretty much enjoying life right now.
I hope you are too!
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Its been something that's been on my mind - this different results business -and how the changes in the outer world begin with changes in the inner. Its been leading me to look at other ways of achieving things that I haven't managed to achieve as yet.
One of the things I've been looking at is how we can raise some funding for Three Stuffed Mums. For those who don't yet know we're premiereing at the Adealide Fringe in 2011, and its a comedy cabaret with original songs and standup comedy all on the theme of Motherhood. We're a self-produced show, and happy to be so, but when my son found the Fundbreak (www.fundbreak.com.au)site I couldn't help but be intrigued.
Fundbreak is a site that uses the phenomenon of crowd funding - where many, many people can make contributions that are as little as a dollar and as large as you like - to help creative projects get off the ground.
What I like about it is that on the one level, there is a possibility that you might actually make the money you need to get the show off the ground. But what I really really like about it is that it allows people who wouldn't normally call themselves patrons of the arts to make those small contributions and actually feel like they're part of the project. I'm a sucker for 'we're all in this together' situations.
One of the catches is that if you don't make your budget target, you don't get anything and the supporters don't have to pay anything, and we just shake hands and walk away. In that case, Three Stuffed Mums is lucky, as we are three rather than just a solo act and we'll get the show on the road one way or another.
What's really exciting about Fundbreak is that it might save some important projects that would otherwise never come to the public eye. Projects that can represent minority groups, the overlooked in society, the causes that are too new, too out there to make the journey if the gatekeepers are solely producers and promoters. However if a project can talk directly to its audience at a very early stage it can have a snowball effect that may give them the money they need, but more importantly can prove to the artists that their intuition was right, that there is an audience for what they have to say or show and that they're right to be promoting it.
I firmly believe that if a project is meant to be, and the passion of the artists and the interest of the audience is there, then the money will appear from somewhere. In the meantime, have a look at www.fundbreak.com.au - you can click on the link to the side of this - and the projects that are there, including ours, that are looking for a way to hit the stage, film or art galleries.
If you're inclined to support any of them, that's great. If not, that's also great - its all about choice. But I would ask that if you see a project that sparks something in your heart, leave a message of support for the project organisers, because those words of encouragement will surely be some of the best kinds of money in the bank.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
It was actually a lovely time that summer with the Fathers. I was introduced to Gilbert and Sullivan, could actually afford my car insurance and gained a lifelong appreciation of Father Ted.
As the years went on and I became a wife and mother, cooking became a chore and the weekly trot around the supermarket for the shopping was torture. So you can imagine my joy to find that my new husband not only loves cooking but would rather take on that particular domestic burden in our household. As I discovered more and more just how good a cook he is, I cooked less and less until for the past year or so I’ve hardly cooked anything.
What I have cooked hasn’t had great results: the muffins turned out chewy, soup was like putty and the scones, well, even the dogs wouldn’t eat them.
Somehow my cooking gene had been extracted, never to be seen again.
But today I decided to venture once more into the culinary realms. I’m no fan of cooking for cooking’s sake, mind you. Can’t see the point in Masterchef if I can’t taste any of it – how do we know it’s good? You certainly can’t go by how it looks. I once produced a mocha chocolate pudding at school that got an A, but the teacher didn’t taste it. It was only after my mum spat it out I realised that I’d mistaken the rock salt for sugar.
So, today, I’m in the supermarket and was so totally overwhelmed at the amount of everything in the heaving shelves that I couldn’t even attempt a weekly grocery shop. So I just grabbed some chicken, fish and lamb and hightailed it home.
Made lamb curry for dinner for son and I. Check – turned out very nice.
Put the chicken in the new slow cooker with some veggies, coriander, garlic and tomatoes. Check – again, very nice and will freeze that for lunches during the week (gone off sandwiches. Bread is so overrated).
One thing I did realise is that slow cookers aren’t as slow as they used to be. My old one back in the early 90s needed a good 10 hours to produce the results my new one did in four hours. So it’s not so much a slow cooker as a medium cooker. But then again I guess life is at a faster pace so it’s all relative.
Anyhow, for hubby’s dinner I decided to cook veggie sausages. They were the usual shape – kinda tubular – and occurred to me that it is the most useless, stupid design ever.
With minimal contact to the frying pan, one cooks sausages by singeing a tiny segment at a time – theoretically. But our high-tech frypan isn’t totally flat so they go rolling around and by some bizarre law of physics, no matter how you turn them the same singed, blackened strip continues to frazzle while the rest of it sits pink and raw.
I think its about time we introduced to South Australia more of the sensible Scottish Lorne sausage - or as its colloquially known ‘skwerr slice’ – a square sausage that cooks more or less evenly (despite growing an unexplainable bulge in the middle) and can be quickly and comfortably whacked onto a plate or roll.
I was off work in August for a couple of weeks due to some kind of flu thing. I was so ill back then I did something I never normally do – I watched daytime TV. And the thing was, everyone was cooking, but nobody was eating. Strange.
Ah well, after tomorrow we’ll be back to the normal routine with hubby at the helm. He can heave a sigh of relief that he’s survived another bout of my cuisine and I can go back to doing what I do best – pouring the wine.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Eat Pray Love is the story of one woman’s search for… actually I’m not quite sure what she’s searching for – something that’s a combination of God, Prince Charming and a shag (and I may be wrong but I’m only half way through the book so bear with me here if I’m wrong).
I’m not dissing the deep despair and emptiness she feels in her marriage that leads her to leave her husband, have a dysfunctional transitional relationship, then leave the US on a year of travels to find whatever it is. However maybe I’m just a tad impatient with the sheer indulgence of the exercise.
Throughout the entire half of the book I’ve read so far, there has been nothing to make me want to like her and I didn’t know what that was until yesterday. And that one thing is that she demonstrated care for no one or nothing other than that which could directly serve her.
Even in one episode where she is struggling the mantra her guru insists is said each morning at the Ashram in India, she finally finds a way of getting through it by concentrating with love on her nephew (who she apparently loves more than anything in the world but its taken half a book to mention him in passing). There seems to be a shaft of selfless light shining through for a moment but then it was all back to her when she finds a passage in a holy book that says how someone else, many years ago, got through the mantra by concentrating on her beloved nephew and so it therefore was God’s way of telling her she’s on the right path. And back we go to stage one.
I’m not criticising her for being carefree, I guess I’m just irked by her excess of indulgence, choice and money and the assumption that these are required to go on this holy quest.
Hundreds of thousands of women have done the journey before her (myself included), but without the necessity for a passport. They’ve done it in their own kitchen, their own backyard because responsibilities have curtailed physical movements.
And maybe that’s the nub of it. Maybe I’m simply jealous and that’s what’s colouring my view. I’m reaching an age where I’m slowly divesting myself of responsibilities. Since my teens I’ve had the responsibility of looking after my parents, and then having a child. Well the parents are now gone, and the child is growing fast, and I’m entering a time where I’m having more fun than ever before, and I’m blessed enough to have a partner who’s at the same stage and who’s with me on the fun quest.
Would I have taken myself off to Italy, India and Bali if I had the freedom and resources? Probably not.
When I picture her life as it was, it makes me feel quite panicky. There’s no reference point other than the self, no anchor. And that self is in freefall and at that stage not to be trusted for any judgement call. I wonder if she would have learned the same lesson by volunteering with homeless people or by devoting herself to some service to others? Probably, but it wouldn’t have the glamour of the world trip. Cynical? Moi?
I may finish the book loving it – I’ll let you know. But in the meantime I reckon it should be called “Eat,Pray Love and Get the Bleep over it”
Sunday, September 19, 2010
For instance, I almost always refuse to eat alfresco in cafes. I just don’t understand why they take their precious customers and put them in the most unpleasant place to eat and drink - right out at the kerbside.
Look at any European café, and its outdoor tables are huddled against the building, allowing pedestrians to walk on by in peace, allowing vehicles to park at the kerb if they want to and generally streamlining the process of either going where you want to go or sitting down and having a coffee.
Switch to SA and as a pedestrian you have to do a kind of Indiana Jones operation if you’re walking past a café, as you have to dodge the crossfire of waiting staff travelling to tables loaded with food or from tables loaded with used crockery. Just as restaurant owners would complain if someone built a pedestrian thoroughfare through their restaurant, its no fun wafting through the aromas of other people’s meals on the street just to get somewhere. Sometimes I’m so tempted to steal a chip as I fly past, just because I can.
Sometimes they kindly put bollards at the kerb, which I don’t find too reassuring because it implies that previously there was a risk of rogue vehicles ploughing into diners at some point. Plus you also get to suck in those lovely exhaust fumes that will add a certain je ne sais quoi to your Fettuccini puttanesca.
So, please, Councils and Restrauteurs, use whole of brain thinking when you’re planning your next alfresco project and take the diners back to the wall!
Sunday, September 5, 2010
I haven't written a blog for a few weeks now. Suddenly I seemed to have dropped the habit of the weekly outpourings. Ah well, its best to go with the flow.
Its not that I haven't been writing at all - I have - just not the blog. The most important writing has been happening in aid of our upcoming Adelaide Fringe show, and what an experience that has been.
Some shows can seem like a struggle from the start, even if you can't pinpoint the exact cause. And others like this one seem to have a life of their own from the point of conception. I'm working with colleagues Kate Burr and Kehau Jackson on something that we think will tickle many fancies this coming Fringe season, and the show is writing itself.
We decided to move from straight standup to comedy cabaret. Of course with cabaret comes music, and as none of us are musicians it would seem that might be the first obstacle.
To date we've now written five songs - words and music to four of them and words to a traditional tune for the fifth. Like those bumble bees who fly because no-one has told them that they cannot according to the laws of physics, we couldn't see why we shouldn't write our own stuff. The main reason was to avoid the copyright palaver of using other peoples music, but its now taken on a life of its own - move over Carol King, Peter Allen and anyone else who's in the way. Wood Jackson and Burr are recreating the Brill Building here in Adelaide. Watch out for more info soon on a show you'll definitely want to see.
Its Father's Day here in Australia, so I'd just like to give a shout out to all the good Dads.
Also, to the men who've been good fathers to me in one way or another:
To my own Dad John, who passed away two years ago, love you and miss you dad.
To my darling husband Steven, thankyou for being such a great dad for Michael and Andrew, and for David.
To my brother in law Dave, thankyou for being an alternative father figure throughout my life.
To David's grandad John, thankyou for being a great grandad and teaching him to enjoy fruit!
To my father in law David, thankyou for welcoming David and I into the family and being a lovely dad-in-law.
To Father John McL, thankyou for the love and spiritual guidance. I miss you and think of you often. I know you're still looking after me from wherever you are.
To Jim Martin, my best mate's dad who's done so much to help me - especially when I was at my lowest ebb.
To Arnold Halliday, who welcomed me to the Halliday family almost 20 years ago.
All fine men, all good men, and all should be proud of their abilities as dads.
Happy Fathers' Day!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
It’s been a funny time of slight dislocation. Almost like the dislocation you feel after being away from home. Have you noticed that after returning home even after a short trip, it’s like the perennially familiar is, for a time, unfamiliar? Could it be that while you were away the experiences you had, the people you met have changed you – even fractionally – so that when you return home some part of your psyche knows that you are not the same person who left? And so being home begins to be an exercise akin to putting on an old uniform that’s suddenly unfamiliar.
And speaking of uniform, you know you’ve been doing a show too long when you start to continually refer to work uniform as ‘costume’!
So, yeh, I’ve been getting into the hard work of re-assuming normal life, and life has actually been super-normal. Not going out more than one night per week, routine days, hardly seeing friends, and then copping this bloomin virus that started on Wednesday, floored me on Thursday and has kept me semi-conscious until this morning.
At least I’ve had the opportunity to explore the realms of daytime telly, which I never normally watch if I’m in the house during the day. It really is pretty awful. Insubstantial froth and advertising vehicles push the latest gadget that’ll find its way to the back of the cupboard pretty quickly. Anyone sensitive would soon become paranoid after watching these shows that their skin isn’t good enough, their weight isn’t right and their hair isn’t blonde enough.
If you’re looking for diversity of presenters, don’t go to daytime commercial telly. I sometimes just put on the BBC world news to see other examples of femininity than skinny, white and blonde.
I have discovered one show that has a morbid fascination for me. The Real Housewives of New York is a bunch of rich female Manhattanites who rarely display any positive qualities. These talon-ed and extension-ed real life Bratz dolls tear each other apart on-screen with all the finesse and etiquette of the year six playground. Why do I watch this negativity? I know it’s not good for me. Maybe it’s comforting to think that all the nastiness is contained to this one group of women. As long as they’re tearing each other apart, they’re leaving the rest of us alone.
Still, I’ve got to be better for this week. There’s a chance of making some headway at work with various things, a meeting with my girls Kehau and Kate to discuss our upcoming Adelaide Fringe show, and a first lesson with my new singing teacher after the wonderful David Gauci, my first teacher, gone and got himself a gig with the musical Hairspray, opening in Melbourne soon – enjoy, David!
Anyway, enough rambling – better go get some breakfast. Take care of yourselves and each other, and have a great week.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
However, it is a valid point. Not only can music affect our transient moods but sometimes that one song that underpins all you believe in can grab you when you’re having a bad day and remind you that life is, after all, good. I have two musical sources that do this for me: First is the entire soundtrack of the movie Local Hero, written by Mark Knopfler, and secondly the Queen song ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. There’s no way I can feel anything but happy when I hear that.
So if our signature tune can affect us individually, it’s also true for nations.
The Scots have unofficially adopted over the past 15 or so years the song ‘Flower of Scotland’ as an anthem. It’s been used at rugby matches and the Commonwealth Games, but if you’ve ever heard its sad tones, its not one that’s going to fire up a team with enthusiasm. Its lyrics celebrate the victory of the Scots over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn – way back in 1314! Hardly a recent occurrence.
So, I propose that Scotland adopts a new anthem, one that celebrates what we Scots do well, and that is have parties! One that will fire up a team and send its members out onto the field full of verve, bonhomie and confidence. And that is why the new Scottish National Anthem should be Shang-a-lang! This groundbreaking song by Scottish ‘70s group Bay City Rollers will get any crowd shaking their shoulders, and with the main lyrics incorporating the phrases ‘Shang-a-lang’ ‘ hey hey’, and ‘Do-wop-e-do-be-do-ay’ there’s ample opportunity for similarly minded foreigners to join in. Youtube them yourself if you don’t believe me!
I look forward to a brighter future for Scotland’s sports men and women as they lift their heads from the burden of the dirge to triumphantly punch the air singing “And we sang shang-a-lang and we ran with the gang doin do wop e do be do ay, we were all in the news with our blue suede shoes and our dancing the night away.”!
Friday, July 16, 2010
If you ask anyone, especially my husband, he'll roll his eyes and tell you that yes I do dream often and can remember tiny details. Maybe that's why I'm so tired in the mornings if I'm living this other life during sleep time.
Anyway, sometimes the dreams are just like recreation, and some, like last night, quite pointedly tell me, remind me, of something important.
I won't bore you with the details but the whole thing led up to me talking to someone who was in strife, telling them the things I've discovered about the magic of life, about the stuff that works around manifesting and the relationship with that intelligence we call God, The Universe or whatever. This kind of tack was something that in real life this person has firmly rejected in favour of traditional religion, but their troubles had opened their mind somewhat.
After I explained it to her, she said 'with all this knowledge, if it works and you applied it, you could be rich and powerful, so why are you telling me this?', and my heated, passionate reply was 'Because there is nothing else but this' (meaning the knowledge, and that everything good and healthy springs from it).
The words didn't convey it but what I knew I meant was that excessive wealth, power, fame are merely backdrops, set, scenery and costumes to the real core of it all which is our relationships with ourselves and each other. That we don't have our origins in the trappings of the world, but that our worth is in our conduct, just as an actor's worth is not in his or her costumes, but in their performance.
I've always thought the analogy of the dressing room as a great leveller and perhaps a metaphor for the spirit world was useful. Shakespeare certainly got it right when he said that 'All the world's a stage...' In there, everyone's the same, crowded around trying to put on different costumes and characters to assume our parts on the stage. Kings and paupers sit shoulder to shoulder making up faces and sorting hairstyles, equal in their underwear, and its only on the stage that the differing roles and inequities become apparent.
Now, I'm not saying that I'm right about this other worldly stuff. I firmly believe that beliefs surrounding religion and faith are all simply stories we tell ourselves to make sense of this world, and we tend to adhere to those that work for us. No harm done as long as we're tolerant and kind to each other.
I'm grateful for the dream. For its ability to remind me of the big picture, about what's really important (to me) and how it's yanked me away from worrying about the small stuff.
Have a lovely week!
Monday, July 12, 2010
We're a week into the run of All Shook Up and tonight (Monday) will be my last night off til next Sunday.
First thing to note is the mega fun this show is, both for us and so it seems, the audience who bop til they drop each night.
Other big news is that we're having an unexpected addition to the family. No, I'm not pregnant - too old for that. But we're having a little doggie come to join us. Her mum has to travel overseas and so she's coming to us. She came for a play date yesterday and while Jock the Westie (we have two other dogs - Jock and Scarlett the Australian Labradoodle)was a bit over energetic, he was whining for her when she left. She's such a pretty little girl - a maltese/lhasa apso cross - and very loving. We're very lucky.
The week's been a blur of work and theatre but has passed so quickly. So it goes when you're doing something that you love. Lost in the moment, the moment feels eternal, like a time out of time.
Feedback on the show has been great after a wobbly preview and it's improved exponentially as we all got into swing of it, and now we've got people booking already to come back and see it a second time plus a great review from the Advertiser and four stars from the Sunday Mail.
Exciting times. People at work going places, changing jobs and even continents. Movement internally (no, not that way!)discovering new ways of doing things, exploring new possible futures. There must be something in the stars. Apparently there was a powerful lunar eclipse this morning, the energy of which seems to be equivalent to catching a wave.
I'm aware this blog entry is a bit rambly, and I'm trying to think of a way to tie it all together, but actually I can't. It is what it is, like the times I'm experiencing right now. I'm in the middle of a time of change and movement and the conclusion and neatly tied ends have not yet come to pass. Sure will be interesting when they do!
Have a great week :o)
Sunday, July 4, 2010
For non-theatre people that means it's the day the cast and crew gain access to the theatre with costumes, sets lighting etc and have a few days of rehearsals to get it placed right before opening night.
Its always an exciting day, when you manage after three months of rehearsal to get to be on the stage for the first time. Sometimes it's when you get to hear the band for the first time too, although in our case we had the band last Sunday and they blew us away, so good were they.
I have had so much fun doing this show. Partly because of the music - its all Elvis music - and partly because of it being rock'n'roll, its been an advantage to be an alto instead of a soprano. All of a sudden its ok to belt out those notes and hence we altos are feeling more relaxed than usual.
Its also a very funny script by Jo Di Pietro who wrote 'I Love You You're Perfect Now Change'.
The cast have been great to work with. No divas, no egos, just a bunch of people aged from 15 to 60 having a great time.
Another great thing is that with it being bump in day, it meant I get a Sunday lie in for the first time since March - woo hoo. And I've managed to get some washing done too which is a bonus.
From now the run of the show over the month of July takes on an other-worldly feeling, as those of you who do shows will be aware. Juggling work and home when all that really matters are those few hours on stage each evening (and Saturday matinees), and then at the end of it all returning to a world that seems for a time a little less colourful, yet filled with loads of spare time when you can get back to not living on Subway as a main meal!
It would be great if you could come see the show, at the Arts Theatre from 7 to 17 July, The Shedley at Elizabeth from 22 to 24th July and Renmark's Chaffey Theatre on 31 July.
If not, that's cool.
While it's Elvis's music, he's not actually in it as a character, but the mood of the music, the spirit of Elvis, is imbued throughout the show, so I've been chatting to him, same as I do to my parents who've passed on, asking him to give us a bit of a help out in conveying the joy of his music, and to be with us in spirit. I haven't had a 'no' yet! :o)
So, thangyouverrymuch baby for reading, and be prepared, Adelaide and Renmark, to be All Shook Up!
Have a great week!
Monday, June 28, 2010
Spare time has been diminishing rapidly as the opening night of All Shook Up approaches.
We open on the 7 July at the Arts Theatre, Angas Street, in the city, and by then I think the cast will be at boiling point and ready to explode onto that stage.
Its a quirky, funny,cheesy show, based on the plot of Twelfth Night and set in the midwest of the US in 1955. The enigmatic Chad (a mix of Elvis and Fonzie but with magical love powers) rides into town, touches a broken down juke box and brings it to life. Then the townspeople all start falling in love - but with the wrong people! Will it all work out?
With a dazzling array of Elvis songs for music, and some of the most gorgeous arrangements for vocals, its a fun, heartening and foot stomping night out. I get to play Sylvia, the cynical but big hearted owner of the local honky tonk who certainly doesn't need a man, thanks.
Normally the three month rehearsal period for a show is an interesting process, but none has been more so than this one.
The personal journey I've taken, the challenges met, and the outcomes seen have been the catalysts for some of the biggest personal transformational changes in my life.
Some things that have been hangovers from childhood, some from adulthood, all of them up until now creating obstacles and preventing me from following my dreams, Now they've been put quietly and firmly aside.
Its funny, I do find that most shows I've done in recent years had themes that reflected in my personal life.
Footloose in 06 was an invitation to be open to the joy of life again; The Producers in 07 led me to follow the example of Max Bialystock by creating the life I wanted; the Wedding Singer in 08 was wonderfully romantic because between first hearing the soundtrack in late 07, and then getting a part and the show I met my now husband, became engaged and he was part of the crew for the show.
And All Shook Up?
Well if you've read my blog previously you've heard me wax lyrical about a song called If I Can Dream. Its also got another song called Follow That Dream and that's really been the theme for the duration - what are my dreams? What do I do to realise them? And I started taking baby steps towards them and... well I'm getting there.
I'm not going to go into details just now. Its too new and fragile, oh but its lovely!
If I have one message for anyone today it's to be kind to yourself, be your own mentor, sort out those dreams of yours that will lead to a fuller life and take one step each day, no matter how small, in the direction of those dreams.
Oh, and I'd also say, book your tickets now for the show! (BASS, Venutix, or give me a hoi to avoid a booking fee) ;o)
Have a great week!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Unlike many other cities, most places actually close down on public holidays here. No shops open other than those precincts known for it, business ceases and things become quiet. Have you ever heard an entire city become quiet? I hadn't til I moved here.
I struggle with the notion of not having everything on tap 24/7, and yet I can't help but like it when I go into the back garden and instead of hearing the distant low rumble of traffic, I hear... nothing.
Well, not really nothing, there's the birdsong, and the dog barking a few streets away. There's the sound of neighbours talking and laughing in their back yards. There's the slight breeze going through the trees and all of it is local, parochial in the good sense, close to home, comforting, cocooning.
It engenders a stillness that's not a familiar feeling in the city. Calm and quiet, it's restorative powers are immediate. A day to enjoy the winter sunshine, a day to halt the constant move forward, a day to reconnect, even a day to watch the Tony Awards live on telly at 10am (how wonderfully thoughtful to have a public holiday for that!).
Whatever you're doing today here in Adelaide, have a wonderful holiday. And even if you're not in Adelaide, hopefully some of this lovely still vibe courses its way through these words and into your soul.
Have a stunning week!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Not the kind of blank that arises from nothing happening, but with so much happening its almost impossible to pick a defining thread from the mosaic of events that are going on right now.
One thing that does stand out is that it's my birthday today - I'm now 49. The most startling thing about that to me is that I thought that by this age, an age where one is on the brink of becoming a 'senior', that I'd know what it was all about.
When I was younger I had this vague idea that when I was older I would know the 'rules' and that I'd have life down pat. In other words I'd be a grown up. So what's happened? Well I still have the feeling of being a 20-something in my head, but when I look in the mirror I see someone who's starting to look more like my mother by the day. Shit! Who is that person in the mirror? She actually looks like she knows what's going on. Truth is she's as clueless as the rest of us.
The only thing I've learned about being 'grown up' is that everyone is scared and everyone's just making it up as they go along.
There's a passage in the book The Women's Room where one of the characters describes it thus:
When you're a kid you know its ok because your parents know everything and will take control;
When you're older its ok because your boss will know everything and take control.
Older still, the President (its an American book) will know everything and take control.
And then one day you wake up and realise you're the President.
I had the romantic notion of spending my decaying years growing old disgracefully. I now realise that there will be no set-off point for that direction, its just a continuation of the trajectory I've been on all my life.
When my parents were my age, they were preparing mostly to sink into old age. They weren't starting new hobbies, cavorting on a stage or getting a fresh direction in their careers. I realise now that if they had been then they would have been different people, still aware of life's zest and joy and not victims of the quiet despair that surfaced from time to time.
One year older.
One year wiser? Maybe.
Enjoying the ride? Definitely!
Sunday, May 30, 2010
And then you discover something that you can do, and all of a sudden you start questioning the person you are. Who you have been hasn't been all that you can be. Who you may turn out to be, may be someone very different from what you imagined.
New horizons have opened up with virgin territory to travel. Who said life isn't exciting?
Of the stuff I've been reading this week, one of the new discoveries came from the book 'French Women Don't Get Fat'. Its one of those books that's taunted me from the bookshop shelves for a few years, and after going to France earlier this year and observing that in comparison to Australia and the UK that indeed, there were very few fat women, I gave into my curiosity and got it from the library.
Its a very elegant and kind philosophy and the author, Mireille Giulliano, shares my abhorrence of gyms, so there was a kind of 'sista' thing happening from the start.
Anyway, one of the tenets of the philosophy is that one obtains maximum enjoyment from food and beverages only in the first three or four sips or bites, and that after that we're only continuing to eat or drink because there is more there. She posits that we should half the portion on our plate and see if that would suffice.
Immediately I was cynical, not least because I have a real fear of being hungry, partly because of the physical pain involved in hunger, partly because to leave food on one's plate was seen as a great sin when I was growing up, and partly because, well, I don't know. Maybe in a past life I was poor or lived in a famine area.
But, I tried her theory, and bugger me, it worked. It was true. If I ate slowly, even half of the food on my plate was completely sufficient to satisfy my hunger. And it doesn't stop there because she insists that in eating as a good French woman one should always have dessert - just a little, but something sweet, even if it is fruit and yoghurt. My god! Dessert on a regular basis was banned from my psyche many many years ago, and yet she's right - it puts a kind of full stop after the savoury meal, finishing it like the end notes provide a resolution for the symphony.
Same with wine. She insists that it is a good thing to have one or two glasses of (preferably red) wine with dinner, which I do, but to try only half filling the glass and having more pours. Same amount of wine or even less, but the multiple pouring tricks the mind into thinking its had more. By god, again it works.
These simple techniques along with increasing one's fruit and veggie intake, and that moderation means denying yourself nothing as long as you have a little of it, sets up a lifetime of healthy eating and a different relationship to food.
My husband does most of the cooking in our house. He's very good at it but sometimes I feel guilty for all that work he puts in. Truth is,over the years I had lost my connection to cooking.
It was a nightly chore filled with resentment as the lazy ex would see me come home from work while he, jobless and flat out on the couch would enquire 'whats for dinner?'as I made my way directly from the front door to the kitchen. It was all I could do not to hit him with a frying pan.
The act of cooking, which should have been a pleasurable, good and nurturing thing, was like a black lump in my chest and I only did it because my dad and son also needed dinner.
Now I'm involved in Ms Giulliano's philosophy, the pleasure is returning. We went to the Adelaide market yesterday (first time in 6 years for me) where I bought up big on the organic veggie stall, and got real pleasure in the feel of a pumpkin and the smell of freshly dug carrots. I bought fish and cooked it for tea and actually felt part of the process - re-engaged.
To retrain ones body and mind in this philosophy - or 'recast' as the author puts it - isn't an overnight thing. Ms Giulliano suggests that it takes a minimum of three months, the key being to have a little discipline, and to be kind to oneself.
And that's the part of it I like most. Kindness in some areas has been relegated to second place, and it's wonderful to see it making its way back to the top of the list.
Have a great week and bon appetit!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Today the skinny little four year old is almost 16 and taller than me, the ex is about to start a new phase of life after a subsequent failed marriage, my dad passed away peacefully two years ago, and I have a most wonderful new husband and two great grown-up stepsons, who also brought with them a large and welcoming extended family. Changes, huh?
What fascinates me is that mine is just one story amongst the millions of people on this earth. Even right now in my work and social circle I'm in touch with people who are separating from their long term partners, leaving for new horizons overseas, celebrating milestone birthdays, finding new ways to get through the daily grind, dealing with health problems, family problems, celebrating new births and every other kind of situation you can think of.
That's why I love blogs and I love reading blogs - especially of people that I know. On the one level it lets us know that we're not isolated, that others share similar pains and joys, and on another level, when it's someone I know, it allows me to get to know them that little bit better; creates understanding and promotes tolerance.
And the stories, the experiences, I love to hear them. I especially love to hear peoples' views of places they've traveled to; not how much a cup of coffee cost, but what the new experience did to their senses, how it altered their view of the world and how they responded; did it change them?
We're a myriad of people with a lot of stories, just like that old TV program The Naked City - "In this city there are a million stories..." and in the blogosphere, if you're lucky, you get to look in on some of them.
I saw a play on Friday night, and in it the actor said that as people, we are our stories, and our stories make us and make our families, contributing to that ongoing thread through the generations we call culture and tradition.
Despite what some people say, those things haven't died. We've got a brave new way of allowing them to live and be told through the internet, and I for one am loving it.We can share and support and do it all from the comfort of our own homes on the internet if that's how we choose, and we can travel to faraway places to be with people we love, if that's what we'd prefer. Never has there been so much potential for good within the field of human communication. Lets make the most of it.
Its probably truer now than ever, we certainly do live in interesting times.
Have a great week, everyone.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
It sounds simple but if you've spent the best part of your life trying to get to somewhere better, the autopilot kicks in and the impulse is to relentlessly move forward despite the terrain about you being your desired destination.
So, a new challenge for me - learn how to stop and enjoy what you've been striving for when you realise you got there - and its an intriguing challenge.
It seems to mirror my main philosophical/spiritual guide, the Tao Te Ching in its focus on the small, the familiar, and in the eyes of the world the very tame, aspects and issues of our lives to become our real teachers. And yet it isn't small - the contrast between momentum and control, mirrored in the practice of tai chi is subtle, yet profound.
Swinging kinetic movement is fun and gives at least the appearance of change and progress. Small, controlled and smooth movement appears to be unchanging, too slow for our modern tastes, stasis. But in these small slow movements new universes unfold.
I observe the movement of my hand as it waves across my field of vision. Its slow smooth action allows me to see the wrinkles and lines in my skin, observe the muscles containing their movement to my will, the colour and pigmentation, lines of blood vessels, calloused and smooth spots.
And so it is with life. The slowing down is allowing me to observe in closer quarters the beauty, both temporal and spiritual, that I may have missed in all of my activity.
This slowing of the pace, I do believe I like it.
In some ways connected with the above thoughts, this week I performed what I intend to be my last standup comedy gig. It was a spot to help entertain some of the 500 volunteers who provide such necessary services to people in the community where I work. It was a privilege to be there and a good one on which to step down.
Comedy has given a lot to me over the past eight years - not least some great friends - and taught me much. I don't know what happens from here, just that it seems like the right time to close that particular door, so thankyou to everyone who's helped me, performed with me, and come to see me. Its been a lot of fun.
If you're interested in the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu there's a great translation by Stephen Mitchell at:
Its my favourite translation and a copy of it sits on my desk at work for quick reference.
Have a great week, everyone!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Hindsight is a bittersweet quality, only available when its strategic usefulness has expired, so if you could benefit a younger you with it’s wisdom, what would you tell?
It’s a question that comes to me after a bit of a strange experience yesterday. I was driving to work and as usual had the music up loud, singing along. It was the soundtrack to All Shook Up, the musical I’m currently in rehearsal for, with all of the songs being Elvis Preseley songs. Some of the vocal arrangements are just gorgeous, and being a sucker for massed voices I often am moved to a tear or two just at the beauty of them.
There’s a song called ‘If I Can Dream’ which has particularly moving sentiments and arrangement, and as it played yesterday morning going along Morphett Road, I was really listening to it when I realised I was actually sobbing.
What the hell? What was going on?
The particular verse that sparked me off said:
“There must be peace and understanding sometime
Strong winds of promise that will blow away
the doubt and fear
If I can dream of a warmer sun
Where hope keeps shining on everyone
Tell me why, oh why, oh why won't that sun appear”
And as quickly as I asked myself the question I saw in my mind myself, about 15 years ago, in very different, difficult circumstances. I was in Glasgow. My mum had just died and I had a three month old baby. A month before the baby’s birth my (now ex) husband had just confessed that most of the things he’d told me about himself, our finances and a lot of other things were out and out lies; and the last thing my mum had said to me before she died was to ask me to promise to look after my dad.
My world had crumbled in a lot of ways, I was broke and to a certain extent broken. I really was at my lowest ebb with nothing and little support (I realise now if I’d spoken to my family I’d have had more support, but I felt such shame because of my then husband that I didn’t).
But, you know, although mum wasn’t there in body, she was there in spirit. I could hear her speak and she was saying, as she did in life, that even if I had nothing else I could dream. I could feel myself absorb her strength, and dream I did – and dreamed large!
I had always wanted to return to Adelaide where I’d spent my formative school years, and to bring my son up here. Adelaide always felt like home.
Just like the song said, I dreamed of peace and understanding, away from the marital rows, I dreamed of something taking away the fear I felt, and oh how I dreamed of that warmer sun as I sat under Glasgow’s drizzling skies.
And I think that the strength of my vision, my dream moved me to action, and from there I find myself fifteen years later, listening to a song that’s hit home and wishing I could go back and tell the me of 1995 that everything was going to be just fine.
That I would make it to Adelaide and have a wonderful life with great friends. That, with the help of my sister we would look after dad just fine until he died in peacefully, in 08; that I’d be lucky enough to work in a beautiful place with great people, that my son would grow and thrive, and that after getting away from the ex I would meet the most wonderful man who is truly my soulmate and this weekend we celebrate our first wedding anniversary.
So, I suppose my message to me back then, and to anyone else who would care to listen is to continue to dream and to make it as big a dream as possible. Any limitations are only those imposed by you upon yourself, so be kind to yourself and give those dreams some welly!
Never underestimate the power of your dreams to come true, and never underestimate the power of a song to transport you back in time and so eloquently empathise with your situation.
And as for me, blubbing on Morphett Road on a Friday morning – yeh, spent the day with ruined makeup and puffy eyes, but jeez its worth it!
If I Can Dream
By Walter Earl Brown
There must be lights burning brighter somewhere
Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue
If I can dream of a better land
Where all my brothers walk hand in hand
Tell me why, oh why, oh why can't my dream come true
There must be peace and understanding sometime
Strong winds of promise that will blow away
the doubt and fear
If I can dream of a warmer sun
Where hope keeps shining on everyone
Tell me why, oh why, oh why won't that sun appear
We're lost in a cloud
With too much rain
We're trapped in a world
That's troubled with pain
But as long as a man
Has the strength to dream
He can redeem his soul and fly
Deep in my heart there's a tremblin' question
Still I am sure that the answer, answer's gonna come somehow
Out there in the dark, there's a beckoning candle, yeah
And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream
Come true......right now
Saturday, May 1, 2010
And to top it off, the ban has been opposed by not only some Muslim leaders, but also a Catholic bishop and Amnesty International! My, it fair warms the cockles of my heart to see old Amnesty supporting a woman's right to be negated!
Some people are saying that this is a blast against Islam, and yet to make someone cover themselves in public like this is the furthest I've ever seen from my own experience of Muslims. Now bear in mind that I am not talking about the hijab, or head covering and the general principles of modesty in Islam, which personally I applaud and feel that us non Muslims could learn a lot from in terms of respect and equality - see www.islam101.com for more understanding.
In Scotland I lived in an area in Glasgow called Govanhill. It was an area that was usually the first stopping point for migrant waves. At the start of the 20th Century it was the Irish. Back in the 20s and 30s the Jewish people came, then the Italians, then in the 60s and 70s people from India and Pakistan, many of whom were Muslim. In fact a stunning gold domed mosque was built hardly a mile from Govanhill, and on the whole the people who came were peaceful and contributed greatly to our community. A good proportion of the women seemed to be in some ways better off than some of their non Muslim counterparts - especially in areas like education - but I never once saw anyone wearing a Burqa or a Niqab on the street, so its hardly a universal Muslim requirement.
Some people say that the women should be able to wear the garments if they choose to, but is it a free choice? What repercussions will they suffer if they choose not to wear it? If there are any repercussions its not a free choice.
Another more traditional argument for it has been that a woman's looks will tempt men to commit sins of the flesh, so actually, its the guy's problem, not the womens'. Perhaps compulsory mittens for the men might be the answer rather than the veils for the women. That old argument has been thrown out years ago in our courts when it comes to rape cases, so why tolerate it in other areas?
I've known some very good people who happen to be Muslim, as I've also known very good people who happen to be Christians, atheists, Sikhs and Hindus. Their common traits have been the desire to spread the love and a respect for others, men and women.
When a woman is condemned to be veiled in public, she is cut off from society in both a larger way and in the everyday pleasures of things as simple as exchanging a smile. It denies her the right to self expression, and freedom of movement. I certainly would find it difficult to strike up a conversation with someone at the bus stop or in a queue if she was covered from head to foot.
It's crap that it has to come down to a government edict to grant people basic human rights. The best changes come from within the system itself, in this case the middle eastern arms of Islam.
As a Taoist and a bit of a pick n mixer, spiritually speaking, I'll continue to petition to Whatever's out there, like NASA's regular radio signals, to turn its face towards us and to help bring the love in and free the veiled ladies.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Fast, slow and a bit in between too. Today's the first I've seen my husband in a week as he's been working afternoon shift so we get to exchange hello/cheerios as I leave for work in the morning, as I'm in bed by the time he gets home.
Luckily its been packed with enough activity to help the time along. Rehearsals for All Shook Up are coming along well. Can't remember having so much fun in a show. Its a great cast and a lot of lovely people. The music is brilliant (Well, it is all Elvis songs)and the script is funny.
Had my sis-in-law's birthday too, and then last night the wonderful and lovely Kimberley Clark open in They're Playing Our Song - get along and see it if you can get a ticket!
The one thing that's wrong with being so busy is that I miss my Wednesday night dose of Ashes to Ashes with Philip Glenister as the enigmatic Gene Hunt. I haven't come across such great writing for a tv series for a while, and Glenister as Hunt walks the line between flawed hero and supernatural being. You never quite know if he's innocently living his life in the 80s where heroine Alex Drake is trapped or if he has knowledge of Drake's life in the 2000s, as he may have had of Sam Tyler's life in the previous series, Life on Mars.
I realise this all sounds like the mad ramblings of a fan, but as I said, the writing is brilliant, the portrayal of the roles - especially in Glenister's case, is brilliant - total quality TV. Apparently the third and final series will tell us exactly who Gene Hunt is - can't wait!
Rehearsals tomorrow and then helping out with the Lest We Forget Anzac Day concert at the Scott Theatre doing the job I'm least suited for - front of house. I have to continually resist the urge to tell people to get themselves organised and have the right change. The sense of relief when the last bum lands on seat and the first few bars of music start up as we close the house doors is enormous and wonderful. Almost akin to doing a giant poo.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
In any case, I have a pre-dinner beer to hand so the writing will probably improve as we go along.
Been thinking about the pressure we have to be pretty all the time. Well, women anyway. Its one of those things that's so all pervading and internalised, its not something we actually talk about or acknowledge. Its just treated as a 'given', to the extent that I've seen women go to ridiculous lengths to stop their partner realising that they're not really blonde, or refusing to leave the house without full makeup.
I've realised this only recently. I got my long-ish blonde hair cut a few months ago and then about a month ago covered my highlights with a wash-out brown colour. The results were enlightening. People commented with more or less enthusiasm, depending on how they felt about it, but suddenly I felt free. Without the hair about my face and shoulders, I started to forget myself. I wasn't constantly reminded of the 'pretty pressure' and it got to feeling like I remembered as a child, when I didn't have any idea that I should look a certain way.
I can go an entire day without checking my hair or even combing it. Feeling the breeze on my neck is brilliant and its washed and dried in minutes.
One interesting reaction to the short cut was the reaction of other women - particularly married women who said 'I'd love to get my hair cut short but my husband won't let me'. What? Sorry? Won't let you? Are you a member of The Bretheren? Or the Wee Frees? Or from the 1950s? What kind of mentality has that as an excuse? If you really want to get your hair cut then do it. If a bloke chucks you because of short hair he wasn't worth it in the first place. Its always a good measure to weed out the wheat from the chaff and a short hair cut is as good a way as any. You're not giving anything up except the duff relationship - the hair will always grow back!
Or is it, as I suspect, that those women, while enjoying the idea of a short hair cut, are actually too frightened to, succumbing to the 'pretty pressure' and using their husbands as an excuse?
Its a good feeling, the short hair, but already it's growing again and I've been asked not to get it cut til after the show finishes in July. So maybe I'll end up with the long blondes again, but its been a lovely excursion to the short side!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Weirdy stuff. Stuff that shouldn't happen in the normal course of daily life. But it is. Happening, that is. I get this periodically. I'm not a religious person but I am familar with some of the more spiritual aspects of life.
I know some people don't believe in all this stuff so I'll say this first: I fully support your position not to believe in stuff. Just also please support my position that this weirdy stuff tends to happen pretty often to me and my family that we tend to view it as more natural than supernatural.
The conditions were all there for it to be happening again. Fertile ground, so to speak. A major upset in routine by our big trip, an opening of new horizons that shook accepted norms and hence an opening of the mind, a loosening of the grip on the routines of daily life and a questioning of 'what next?.
I've been an advocate of Taoism for the past 13 years, and to feel oneself in the flow of life, in both spiritual and temporal ways is often a precursor of events. Of course one must be a willing partner in this, to have the position of being prepared to be in the flow and to trust in the Universe. Ideally, we'd be in the flow all the time, but we're human and the world has many distractions. However from time to time clarity breaks through.
I guess this is all a lead up to telling you that this week my dad came to see me. Not unusual until you know that my dad died in 2008.
It was during a lucid dream that echoed ones that had happened after my mum died, but this was way clearer. I was surprised to see him, but he told me that he wanted to come see me, to let me know that he was doing just fine and that he is very happy. I could see that. He was smiling so much - he never smiled that much before - and he looked so well. I could smell his familiar scent as he sat next to me.
Suddenly I felt like that little kid who spent so many evenings watching Morecambe and Wise, Dick Emery, the Goodies and all those familiar tv programs from her dad's lap. His arms around me and my head resting on his shoulders that seemed to be as wide as the Clyde, I would feel so secure and loved. And when I fell asleep he would carry me to my bed and tuck me in. Even on the nights I was awake at bed time, I'd get a piggy back 'coal carry'.
When my mum was too tired after tea, my dad would help me do stuff like wash my socks so I had clean white socks for school the next day, or show me how to bake bread, and make a fancy loaf when you braided three strands of bread together.
He'd take me to the pictures, and to the Saturday afternoon cartoons at the Classic cinema. He'd bring me candy ball sweeties when he came home from nightshift and make me cups of hot tea and buttered toast before I went to bed, and always buy me a toy when we went past Guthries toy shop when we went to see Granda in Maryhill.
When my first marriage was a shambles and I was stuck in a one bedroom flat with not a blade of grass in sight and a one year old son who wanted to go out to play he, widowed by now, opened his home to us. And when we moved to Australia he came too and I had the privilege of looking after him until he passed, although he was still helping me up until then.
All through my childhood, first marriage, divorce and fourteen years of motherhood my Dad was there to help me, and my son.
When I met Steven, Dad, who was always down on everyone, never had a bad word to say about him. The night he passed it was after a few minutes of discomfort and Steven and I were there helping him get settled, and he just took a deep sigh as he lay down and I tucked him in, and he was gone.
Perhaps he knew I'd met the man that was from now on to be my helper in life, and felt settled enough to let go. His health hadn't been great for a long time but he'd held on til now.
And so he came to see me on Wednesday night. I knew I could have asked him anything I wanted to and he would have told me, but just to see his face, his smile, his shining eyes and his once-stooped shoulders broad again was enough to fill my heart with everything I needed to know.
He wasn't always easy, but he was a good man, my Dad.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
It's interesting because I rarely feel anger - true anger - but as I get older, a combination of not caring what others think of me and not being able to hold my tongue when I see an injustice or deliberate misdirection is leading me to be more outspoken than in previous years.
One of the occasions for anger blew over when was when I was able to say 'enough' over a situation that's been going on for quite some time, and realise that I had had enough of buying into the discrete group/majority's way of dealing with. It posed an unhealthy level of stress for me, so I decided that was it, enough. It might upset some people's applecarts along the way but they'll survive. I wasn't allowing myself to deal with the situation honestly, and once I did, well, stress was relieved and anger dissipated.
Occasion two was on seeing a public figure being admired who I see as a bit of a 'false prophet', and whose faults don't need much digging to uncover. I was forthright in my views on that one and may have offended a new friend, for which I'm sorry. But again, the option of not being able to be honest - or just holding my tongue - didn't feel like a stress-free option. It says something about my new friend that he let me say my piece in full on his Facebook page and left it up. Sir, if you are reading this, you are a gentleman and I thank you for your indulgence.
Occasion three was a gut reaction after seeing a friend verbally attacked in quite a horrible way. Her other friends responded in reasonably sophisticated ways but I just kicked off Glasgow-style. I was talked down from the aggression ledge by someone else who is now a Facebook friend and who is also a gentleman, and who seems to have dealt with the problems very stylishly behind the scenes. Kudos, sir.
Interestingly, all of these occurred in my personal life rather than working life.
Ah, maybe it’s just me getting older, and crankier. Get me a walking stick so I can shake it at teenagers in the street!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Yesterday was a landmark of sorts in a number of ways. Our new puppy had his first proper walk and despite having legs all of two inches long he kept up the pace with the very much larger labradoodle all the way. He did sleep well,though.
And on another front I cleaned out a cupboard that held family, legal and social documentation going back a rather long way. Ancient photographs and postcards a hundred years old of family.
There's a postcard from my Granda to my Granma, written when she was in service in a 'big hoose' in Partick, telling her that he'd had word from his sister that a letter had arrived from Ireland and that he would tell her all about it when he would call for her the following Sunday afternoon. To show that romance wasn't dead, the picture on the postcard was of some serious men in rolled up sleeves who were, according to the caption, firefighters waiting to descend into the pit at Cadder where 23 men lost their lives. Very romantic!
There's a photo of my Grandad's family in Edwardian dress, or possibly Victorian. This was the family - my great Grandad and Granma and their children Mary, Sarah, Bridget and John (Granda thomas was born after they got to Scotland) - who emigrated from the tiny village of Glenties in Donegal to the then booming city of Glasgow. From wild green fields to the dirt and mire of the industrial revolution.
I went to Glenties four years ago. Even today it has only one street. I spoke with the people who live there. They don't remember the McGintys but I saw the old men, how they looked and how they spoke, and realised the gene pool tells far more than memories ever can. I felt like I was looking at Granda.
There aren't any photos of my Granma, Roseann, when she was young, which is a shame. She was brought up on a farm near Belleek in Fermanagh, where the farmhouse itself straddled the border between the British ruled North and the Independent South.
Because of the inheritance laws, meaning there was no living available for her from the farm, she was sent to Glasgow to go into service for a wealthy family. Must have been then when she was courted by Granda Thomas. I hear tell she was actually 12 years older than Thomas - he must have liked the more mature woman.
She bore him six children: Rose, twins Tommy and Ann, Alice, John (my dad) and James. Rose died just a couple of years ago, and my dad went in 08. Tommy died young - I remember his chair sitting where it always used to, but empty, and it was a sad sight in the tiny living room/kitchen. He was a gentle and happy man, and apparently something of a self-taught scholar.
Ann and Alice died in the late 1980s and James died at either two or six, depending on who you listened to, of measles. My dad was only a young boy when it happened but he remembered my Granma asking, pleading with my Granda to get the doctor, but Granda said no. The inference was that they didn't have the money. Eventually he relented and left to fetch him, but while he was gone, James passed away. According to my dad, it was not a peaceful passing and the experience haunted him his whole life.
And all of this life took place in a single end in Maryhhill. 61 Oran Street. It's not there now, that part of the street, but I remember it well, visiting often with my dad until it was demolished in the early 70s.
Photos, documents, telling a story of families who are no longer here, and yet they are important to us because they tell us where we came from and give us a sense of place and belonging - a bit like Sally Morgan's important book My Place. Glenties was my Corunna Downs.
There were legal documents that told the story of the first house I bought, a lifetime ago. The documents I did keep were the ones detailing the correspondence I had with the Australian Consulate over my application to come to Australia.
They detailed the somewhat tricky move of having my dad, who lived with me, as part of my family unit and included in the emigration application; the jumping through hoops of the different medical examinations that were demanded for him, and eventually the granting of the visas.
And then another letter from the office of then-immigration minister Philip Ruddock congratulating us on our decision to become sworn-in Australians, outlining our responsibilities and wishing us well in our new life as naturalised Aussies. I'll keep these, because while he's totally indifferent at 15 years old, maybe sometime down the track David, or one of his kids or grandkids, might want to know how their family came to be in Australia. One day they might fall on the details of our family history as hungrily as I do of my family now gone.
From Glenties to Glasgow to Adelaide in 110 years. I wonder what the next 110 will see?
Sunday, March 21, 2010
My body arrived back in Adelaide about two and a half weeks ago, but my mind, my spirit and probably any other non-physical part of me has been floating god knows where in the ionosphere trying to overcome the displacement. Its been partly jet lag, partly a nasty infection in my inner ear and partly existential angst which I thought I'd left behind after I quit student life and the Catholic church, but now seems to be a compulsory souvenir of Paris.
It was quite a trip - Glasgow, Glencoe, Skye, Inverness, Pitlochry, Edinburgh, Portsmouth, London, Paris.
It was wonderful to see friends and family, closure to scatter my dad's ashes in his home country and brilliant to share a family wedding with friends and family new and old.
What's it left me with? Well here are some impressions in no particular order:
- I don't seem to be able to 'do' large, overcrowded cities as I get older. Whether its the traffic, high density population or just higher energy, I got so stressed in the cities it was unbelievable. Pockets of quiet sanity were Bearsden, Putney and Greenwich.
- Homesickness. I hadn't realised how much I missed the Western Highlands. I didn't want to leave Glencoe, then I didn't want to leave Skye. I could happily live anywhere in the triangle between Fort william, Skye and Inverness. Runrig once said in a song that 'Mountains are holy places'. In that case Scotland's got the best cathedrals in the world.
- Cathedrals. Spotted a few on the travels. St Pauls in London is a total rip off - 12 quid to get past the front door, and I kid you not - they have turnstiles in the church! Wonder how the big JC would have handled that mob - not as easy to overturn a turnstile as it is a table or two. Ironically, a couple of days later we discovered the Royal Naval college at Greenwich which was also built by Christopher Wren and was a beautiful example of his work. Oh and they didn't rob you on the way in, either.
St Giles in Edinburgh started off ok but by the time we got to the altar, there was a sign saying that if you want to take pictures then its a 2 quid charge for a 'permit', to be paid at their shop. Cheeky bastards. If I was still operating in the Catholic/Protestant paradigm I would point out that St Pauls and St Giles are both proddy cathedrals, but I'm above all that now.
Meanwhile, with the Tims in Paris, not only is entry free and welcoming, they carry right on with their mass or other ceremony while tourists are welcome to still tootle about as long as its with respect. Much respect to the Parisians for that.
- Paris. The least stressy city I visited. I think its because its kinda hard to get lost, and when the sun comes out its like this charm offensive that just lulls you into a type of self-congratulatory mood that says 'hey, yeh, cool, I'm in Paris". Yup, 'twas that deep.
I found the Parisian people to be sparky and funny and full of attitude but nice with it. I loved it that the women tended to dress predominantly in black, like I do, so I felt pretty much at home. That was compounded when by chance we found ourselves at an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern art. It was a retrospective on George Soulage, apparently France's greatest living painter, and it told the story of how his love affair with black developed - dual colour canvasses turning over the years to pure black and yet he was still fascinated at how the light still played across them - even with black there was no culling of the light, and in fact black actually gave the light new ways to be. I'm not a big modern art fan but I totally 'got' this guy and it felt so very good to have someone articulate something I never could.
- Bread. I am not a big bread fan or eater. Often I'd rather just have the filling and ditch the dough. However it was different in Paris. I don't know what they do but the bread and pastries are different - very light - so I ended up eating more than I ever have and still kept excess weight off by covering an average of 10km a day on foot.
- Cowboy boots. My walking boots from Oz died by the time I got to Portsmouth, so I bought another pair of walking boots there. Unfortunately they dug into my heels and by the time I got to Paris I couldn't wear them. So, I popped into a shop that had a sale on and for 15 euros got the most comfortable cowboy boots ever and that saw me trek the streets to my heart's content.So, yay for gallic cowboy boots!
I think that's probably enough for now. Lots of deeper stuff still being processed but its all good.There's been a bunch o stuff happening also, since I got back, but I'll save that for 'ron.
Hope you're all well!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Its probably just as well, because there's so much stuff to process - a full month of memory-making days is a lotta junk to juggle so its probably just as well I'm having to take my time before putting my qwerty where my mouth is.
To sum it up it was an awesome trip: Scotland - Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Highlands and islands (well one island), Portsmouth and London, and finally Paris. Much to think and write about. And in the meantime we have a new puppy in da house. Its all go!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but sometimes even the imminence of absence has the ability to focus one's feelings.
I'm heading off today for a few weeks to Scotland for a heap of family stuff, then England and France for fun.
I always find it an emotional time leaving Adelaide, simply because for many years I only was able to come here on holiday but had to leave again after a few months.
It wouldn't be exaggerating to say that leaving here back then was an extreme sadness. I'd lived here for three years as a teenager, I went to school here and fully expected to spend the rest of my life here but at 16 my parents decided to up sticks and head back to Glasgow.
After visiting Adelaide it would be usual for me to cry all the way to Singapore. And while I love Scotland, this is the place where I always felt I fitted in. Back in Glasgow it took me to my 20s before I felt like I was starting to fit in again, but my heart was always here.
Then I came to live here eleven years ago and its everything and more I hoped for. So, visits back to my home country have an extra sweetness now. I get to see the people and places that I love, but also get to come home to the place and people I love here.
Adelaide and her people (Yes her - I really detect a huge yin energy) have given me a place. My 'strangeness' has been embraced and celebrated - a phenomenon I think shared by my bestie, Hawaiian comic Kehau.
I work with a fantastic bunch of people who truly have the interests of the community we serve at heart. I have a fabulous husband and family, and our little house sits in the foothills in a peaceful and friendly street. I have many likeminded friends and my life is very blessed with their presence.
I went out on the deck early this morning. While we're still in the shadow of the hills the sun was shining on Torrens Island and all down the coastline. The sea was a silvery blue in the golden light and a wave of cirrus had scudded in strafing the blue sky with its feathers.
Adelaide is truly the most beautiful city on earth, and I'm very proud to be a Scottish Australian.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Chief challenge in the past week has been the death of our little dog Cassie. By now my friends are maybe a bit fed up with hearing me speak of her, but god, she was a great dog and didn't deserve to die at five years old. Cassie was a pet shop puppy, bought after we had scoured the rescue centres for some time and still hadn't come up with a doggie that we felt we could look after properly. Ignorance has its benefits, because if I knew then what I know now of how and where pet shops obtain their stocks, we'd never have bought her. But we did, and she was not only the joy of both my life and my son's life, but also my dad's. When she came to stay with us dad's kidneys were going into renal failure and the other organs were beginning to shut up shop. And then Cassie came, and he stabilised. They were constant companions and he loved her so much, and she him. He lived for three more years because of her. She saw me through a divorce and time on my own. If I was at home she never left my side. She'd always be there for a cuddle or a play or just to hang out. She saw my new husband come into my life and my new life take form.
Last Saturday she was at the groomers, and she had a seizure. She spent the night in the vet hospital but by Sunday afternoon, after all the tests, it was apparent she'd had a debilitating stroke, probably caused by a brain tumour. She couldn't stand or walk properly and her head was tilted permanently to the side. Her eyes seemed to be sightless. We took the decision to let her go and we held her as her little body became limp and lifeless. I can't quite remember my heart being this much broken. We buried her and of course had to keep on going.
In the meantime we've had to look to the needs of Scarlett, our other dog, who's rather confused at not having her playmate around, but also is revelling in the attention she's getting without another dog in the house.
Grief is a weird thing and just when you think you're getting over it, it sweeps over you unexpectedly, bringing you back to square one. Anyone who say's it's 'just a dog' has never had a dog, I think. It is different to the grief you have for a human, if only that the animal has shown you pure untainted love, without any of the complications we get from other humans. The loss, I think, in some ways is greater.
And still, life moves on.
Work is a great therapy. It allows one to put time between yourself and the source of your grief, so I was very pleased to see the days whizzing by this week, packed with busy days and a full 'to do' list.
It was my hubby's birthday yesterday, his 50th, so pretty special. We had breakfast with the Pandas at Adelaide Zoo. Coming from someone who was quite apathetic about the pandas, I have to say it was a tremendous experience. It was a privilege to get so close to these beautiful animals and observe them.
Last night was a terrific trip to see Avenue Q with close friends and then today a lovely afternoon at the in-laws and with family.
One week, and it seems a million years since we said goodbye to little Cassie. I still have the tears, but they're becoming less. She's in the garden with our two cats, Crystal and Simba, who passed away. Each night three little solar lights light up on their graves - one for each of the little souls that shone so much light upon our lives.
It's been a privilege to have time with each of them, and through the ether, the collective unconcious, the human spirit, I am thankful for their lives and for their love.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The week's been busy but unremarkable. What is remarkable is the untidiness of our house, just like my car, and my desk at work. I just don't seem to be able to maintain an orderly environment. I feel most times like Pigpen from Peanuts with a cloud of mess hanging over me wherever I go.
My sister's the opposite - her house is always lovely and tidy and a real pleasure to visit, whereas sometimes I feel like I need a machete just to hack a way through for a midnight visit to the bog in mine.
My husband's a particularly neat and tidy person too - god it must be torture for him to live with me. I'm just looking at the dining table that I cleared yesterday to take an audit of my mess. Hang on...there's the newspaper, the ipod and phones that are mine, oh and the laptop case, but everything else is hubby's! I knew it! Its not all my fault! Woo hoo! This post is worth it already.
Oh, I know what I did that was mildly exciting. I commented on a Guardian online article discussing a book about breastfeeding older children. I don't think they mean teenagers (ewww), but kids up to 7, 8 or 9.
Personally, I think it's weird and despite protestations that its for the kids, I think the mums are a bit 'wanting' in some respect when they maintain breastfeeding past the baby stage. They claim it's natural. I beg to differ. Give a baby what a baby needs, but the needs of a toddler and an older child are different.
My own breastfeeding experience wasn't entirely successful and a bit altogether weird. I'll save the worst of it for a future comedy routine but suffice to say it was the only time I ever got my tits out in front of a priest.
There, I've said it.
I'm glad we've had this chat. Have a good week!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
It occurs to me that we have succeeded in raising a generation of stupid girls.
Not that this applies to all girls, I have to say. Thankfully there remains a decent cohort of sensible, balanced young women who have self-respect aplenty, ambition for better lives and a sense of their worth in society.
Society, however, hasn't contributed to this, though. It gives the sensible women no worth while at the same time promoting the living Bratz dolls that are better camera fodder.
I detect that one of the major changes took place when the television program ‘Sex and the City’ became popular, and a whole set of false values were sold to our girls. The importance of designer shoes, no matter your income level; the importance of promiscuity; overall the importance of materialism.
At the same time we had the rising tide of celebrities being implicitly positioned as role models via their constant presence in a material-hungry and morally vacant press, while their behaviour wasn’t really fit for anyone to witness, never mind emulate.
And so on the cusp of a new decade, forty odd years after the women’s movement began to enjoy the first fruits of its long-fought battle to gain equal rights, we have the spectacle of girls in their early teens dressing like prostitutes and calling it fashion, and by that I mean no disrespect to prostitutes - they’re women with a job to do. Could a girl dress as a welder and then be surprised when people think she’s a welder – even if she is 13?
The cult of pleasing men has reached ridiculous proportions amongst the teen and twenty something women.
We have the ‘trend’ of bisexuality displayed by young women for the viewing pleasure of their partners or any onlooker who’s passing, and we have the growing feeling that one should always accompany one’s male partner to a strip club to view the ladies, as to do otherwise would not be cool. It brings memories of University and Stuart Hood’s work on 'women as the watched, and men as the watchers'. One can only wonder how the young woman struggling to come to terms with her own genuine lesbianism feels when she sees so many others try it ‘off the peg’ for a bit of a laugh.
I often work with young female journalists. To a woman they look like gorgeous china dolls, and I wonder what happened to all the talented female writers who don’t happen to look like that? Are they automatically discounted from the shortlist because of their looks? The same stringent quality controls are very obviously not applied to the male equivalents.
I shiver when I hear young women declare ‘I’m not a feminist’, because by saying that you are telling everyone that you do not believe that you deserve equal rights, you are negating the pain, suffering and sometimes deaths of women who walked before you in order to gain the freedoms that you take so much for granted.
Worst of all your mothers and grandmothers have allowed this to happen.
Shame on all of this. We have sold our daughters' and granddaughters' futures to a world where they’re held less than worthy if they don’t look like a model while achieving that PhD.
Maybe it’s more apparent to me coming from a non-Australian background, but I’m still shocked at the way a good proportion of Australian men speak about women; the utter disrespect, arrogance and ridicule that is the starting point for any interaction with the opposite sex depresses me on a regular basis. This is in contrast to the many Australian men who I know who do treat women well, who know how to be real gentle-men and have no problem with being on an equal footing with women. So how come the latter never get the limelight in this macho society. What are the Neanderthals afraid of?
I certainly never heard men speak of women like this in
The hero worship of the Sam Newmans, Shane Warnes and the like is beyond belief in a supposedly modern society. Until women - especially young women - get the guts to say ‘no’ and stop playing the gender politics game to the agenda set by the Neanderthals – whether on a domestic, professional or political level – and start working together with the many men who do want to work together with us, it will remain as it is, and our daughters and granddaughters will have been cheated of their legacy – a world where they can ditch the stilettos and the diets and still feel they’re worth something.