A view from my chair

After several tumultuous months we are seeing hope, peace and simplicity on our horizon. Today I have a superb view of the Brisbane River from my armchair in our Daughter’s apartment. It may be a cloudy day, but I have the river and all its sounds and activity, as well a couple of great books and a superb bottle of white chilling. All I have to do is prepare dinner!

If I get energetic, I can go downstairs and sit on the lawn and watch the world go by…

A week in the life of a teacher librarian

edutech 1

The conference was great, well, elements were great, others were hoohum, as all conferences are, but on the whole I found much to ponder and reflect upon.

The first day I was like a honey pot around which a couple of colleagues form other schools swarmed around. Possessing a magnetic personality can be such a burden at times. The second day I was solo all day, as we followed different conference streams, and these days I prefer that.

My motel room with its city views was a room overlooking a building site, on a bust inner city road. The footpath to the motel was blocked and so I had to walk a block out of my way to circumvent the building site to reach the motel at the end of the day which impressed me not, but I broke the budget and ordered a glass of wine along with my room service dinner.

edutech 6

city views!

The next morning, suitcase in hand I decided not to walk back to the convention centre and so asked for a taxi. A very polite driver who almost drove us in front of a bus and then in his haste almost reversed over a woman walking across the motel drive way. The short drive was less eventful but did feel longer than it should have!

Day to was in the ballroom

Day Two started in the ballroom

My major grump was about the little things that can make a conference less of a positive experience – not enough food at some breaks,  a lack of seats to sit upon when eating, and surfaces to rest a glass or cup during a meal too. The food was all finger or fork food, but as you had to leave the food area with drink and food, if you couldn’t claim one of the few standing tables or rare seats well then you were in for a juggling act. I twittered my annoyance at having to sit on the floor, more than once.

might be a floor seat, but damn my shoes look great

might be a floor seat, but damn my shoes look great

I am becoming more and more angry about the lack of creativity and innovation in my school, and if I had the flexibility might consider branching into something new, but I am in my late fifties now, and the main bread winner and so I am rather constrained in my possibilities. It’s bubbling around in my consciousness now, the need to create and innovate is growing, and so I may just increase my environment scanning. I’ve never been afraid of career change, but I am realistic that being in my last fifties, well, in Australia that means possibilities are not plentiful. Ageism is alive and flourishing sadly.

Garbed in her trusty scarf and socks, Flamingo Dancer goes forth to fight ignorance and information overload everywhere!

Garbed in her trusty scarf and socks, Flamingo Dancer goes forth to fight ignorance and information overload everywhere!

On the home front, Daughter 1 celebrated a birthday and Petite Fille and I baked a chocolate cherry cake. It was delicious even if I do say so myself.

Peppercorn

Peppercorn goes to ground!

Peppercorn, who turns six months this coming week is crawling! That baby can certainly work a rug, and loves nothing better than to roll and crawl about the floor. I think she gets very frustrated by the constraints of her baby body! She reminds me of her mother as a baby so much – very determined and already setting her own achievement goals. I miss them dreadfully since they returned to home.

Another three or four weeks until Petite Fille and her parents will return to their own home, renovations complete. I guess life will return to normal, though I am not sure I will recognise normal anymore!

climb, climb, climb the boat, and a corn cob pipe

I had barely opened the library when the Assistant Principal walked through the doors.

“Mrs FD, I am need of urgent support and assistance and I thought of you.”

“You are in trouble then!”

An hour later I was on a bus with 40 students heading out for a day’s field trip.

The History Class was visiting the Maritime Museum and the MacArthur Museum, and one of the teachers had called in sick. Who better to have on a museum field trip than a librarian!

The Maritime Museum had me, with my fear of heights and impaired depth perception,  climbing up and down narrow ladders between the decks of the Diamantina, following groups of students as they in turn followed a tour leader. We were climbing backwards, but the sailors would descend the stairs, front facing and often carrying their meal on a plate as well – there was no dining room for them!

IMG_0861

It was very hot below decks, and the ship is riddled with asbestos as was the fashion of the day, but the students appeared to find it very interesting.

It was interesting to see the hierarchy that was in place, with the captain’s room all beautiful crafted built in furniture including his own dining table, while the ordinary men had just a hammock to sling wherever there was a couple of free hooks. He had his own bathroom as well.

It was sad to see the condition of many of the displays, as they receive no government backing except for the occasional grant for specific tasks. It is staffed by volunteers, as is the  MacArthur Museum.

We walked through the old botanical gardens to the second venue, one teacher at the front of the group and I was rear guard to make sure no one decided to blend away into the shadows. We took the roll four times throughout the day, and delivered the same number back to the school as left in the morning.

The MacArthur Museum is interesting, because it is on the eight floor of what is now a hotel and apartment building. The floor that Douglas MacArthur used during the second world war is filled with replicas of his meeting tables, office furniture etc.  They even have a replica of his corn cob pipe, the craziest thing I have seen in a long time. I couldn’t get a full view of it, but if it is hollowed out through the entire length and then packed with tobacco, I can only guess he would have only needed to light it once a month and it would keep on puffing. How he ever thought it was “cool” surprises me!

A museum filled with replicas is a little odd, and led to a couple of odd exchanges between staff and students.

“This is the table that MacArthur and his staff sat at for meetings,” the tour guide declared.

“The actual, real table?” asked the girl.

“Well, not the actual table, but it was exactly like this…”

IMG_0872

MacArthur’s Brisbane Headquarters during World War II.

 

Because I had not had time to prepare a travel lunch, the other teacher covered the exit door, while I popped out and got a quick bite to eat. One benefit of being in the inner city meant that there were plenty to choose from! I had to ask the hotel receptionist to swipe me back into the elevator up to the museum, and just as the elevator doors swished shut, I glimpsed one of our recently retired famous football players, Darren Lockyer, walk into the lobby. He missed out on sharing the elevator with me, poor man.

G20 or how to empty a city in one day.

Brisbane

It is so hot today that when I walked outside moments ago the heat felt as though it was burning my nostrils as I inhaled. 12 noon and just over 40C already. Tomorrow is predicted to be even hotter.

Welcome to Australia, G20!

I think the delegates and their advance sherpas will be quite impressed by Brisbane. We emptied the entire central business district for them. Yes, almost the entire city got into their cars and drove the the beach for the weekend. If you were a terrorist looking for a crowd to hide in, you would be mighty lonely.

I feel sorry for the police and other security personnel in their full uniforms standing out in the heat. It is such a dry heat, it burns. I have been singing, “only mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun” a lot today.

Not only have we emptied a city for the G20 crowd, but they actually brought a freeway to a standstill at peak hour on Thursday afternoon to drive Obama’s EMPTY limos to his hotel.  They are called the “beast” the media reports and the request was made to demolish some road round about intersections to allow the car to pass. It was declined.

As I write, Obama is at the University of Queensland delivering a speech to 2000 invited guests. I was not invited, big mistake, big, big mistake. It has become quite fashionable for some local politicians to announce that they declined their invitation. I suspect as a cover for not being invited.

Earlier the man so many of us love to hate, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, delivered a rambling speech about domestic issues which had Putin not even pretending to listen.

The Russians have a couple of war ships off the Queensland coast in international waters. The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! declared all the conspiracy theorists this week. My personal theory is that a. it is so their communications people can tap into all the buzz happening and b. if a catastrophic event did take place, they would have Putin back on his own ship faster than the rest of us could take our last breath.

The majority of the event is taking place at the Brisbane Convention Centre where I have been for a couple of conferences this year, so Obama and Putin are in fact walking in my footprints. It doesn’t get much better than that, for them!

 

Now 41C= 105 Fahrenheit.

the black trunk and the story it held within

theatre couple

Mr FD and I drove to the city to attend the theatre. Daughter2 had given us tickets to the Lion King which opened recently in Brisbane. It was a matinee, because we no longer pretend that we enjoy going out at night, especially as we now live an hour drive from the city.

theatre lunch

We arrived early enough to have a lovely lunch. I had pumpkin gnocchi with confit mushroom, thyme butter sauce and Pecorino Romano, while Mr FD partook of the seafood and saffron risotto with salmon, calamari, prawn, clams and lemon infused olive oil; both were delicious.

A joint decision was made that we would visit the bathroom before finding our seats. Mr FD of course waltzed right in, while I joined the tail end of the ladies’ line. I was still four from the front of the line when he reemerged. It was only as one reached the front of the line that a sign could be read: “There are only two toilets here. There are 9 on the next floor and 22 on the floor above that.” It would have been nice to have the sign where one commenced standing on line, not as one walked into the toilet!

Our seats were 14 and 15. The issue was that the seats went 14, 13, 16… It was wisely decided that as long as we were all happy a seat was a seat.

I adored the costume design, and the incredible voices. At times so much was happening on stage that I didn’t know where to look!  Incredible puppetry by the actors too.

As it was school holidays and a matinee, there were a large number of children present, naturally. During the performance, when Simba tries to wake his father  Mufasa, who has just died, he calls out, “Daddy!” and a small voice was heard from the audience echoing, “Daddy!” It was such perfect timing, a star was born!

After the performance, we sat out the car park rush with a coffee, before our trip back to the country. The barista, who had served us our lunch, remembered me as I ordered coffee and welcomed me back.  Of course he remembered me, I am unforgettable!

 

They wouldn’t allow cameras during the performance, so I have photos of the Brisbane CBD skyline to share. Blue sky, spring day.

Brisbane CBD skyline

Brisbane CBD skyline

 

Brisbane CBD skyline 2

 

This is the parkland, adjacent to the theatre, QPAC, Brisbane

This is the parkland, adjacent to the theatre, QPAC, Brisbane

 

“I AM the current curator of the black trunk and the stories it holds within.”
― Hope Barrett, Discovering Oscar

soul nourished

It felt like evening as I left the city behind on my return to The Village, but it was mid afternoon. The heavy dark clouds threatening rain had brought the pseudo twilight. In my little motorised cocoon I felt well pleased with my lot.

Brisbane River

Brisbane river 2

 

This morning Daughter1, Mr Boy, Petite Fille and I ventured out in the most glorious sunshine to the markets. These markets are situated on the banks of the Brisbane River and sell a mixture of organic and artisan foods, as well as original clothing and gift items, mixed with a rotation of buskers.

We walked the entire length of the markets, mapping out where we would return, before retracing our route. We stopped half way, and sat with Petite Fille in the park while Mr Boy sourced coffee for the grow ups. Afterwards, we purchased paella and a loaf of fresh potato and blue vein cheese bread.

Markets May 2014

I lost one  of my slices of my bread to Petite Fille who decided that an extra slice was just what a fashionista needed for her lunch.

At home, while Petite Fille napped, D1 and I lounged on her oh so comfy sofas and drank tea, gossiped, checked Pinterest and snuggled under blankets as the autumn chill closed in.

So it was a very happy Granny who left the city this afternoon to drive back to her country life.

eye to eye with the Flamingo Files

This is the Old Windmill is a heritage-listed tower located in Wickham Park, on Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  It is across the road from where my eye was crafted!

This is the Old Windmill It is a heritage-listed tower located in Wickham Park, on Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It is across the road from where my eye was crafted!

We brought the new eye home, and a very nice new eye it is too. It was a little too big at first and gave me a startled look even when I was trying to pretend my eyes were closed in a sleeping position, so a little grinding, polishing and buffing was called for. Well, it was called for three times, before the mirror in my hand told me I was the most glamorous in the land. So with old eye in my handbag, and new eye in its rightful place, and $2150 poorer ($500 to be repaid by medical insurance) I met Mr FD in the downstairs coffee shop where he had been waiting. I fluttered my eyelashes and rolled my beautiful green eyes at him, but he just thought I was having a brain conniption , so I gave up trying to impress and ordered coffee and apple pie instead.

I have the solution for America’s gun problem! Sticks. Give every man, woman and child a four foot long stick in place of guns and I am sure that very shortly the death and injury rate will fall. I mean, if you are going to the movie theatre and have to carry a 4ft stick with you, you are going to think twice aren’t you? Also, a 4ft stick can’t be concealed, so everyone is going to know that you are packing one.  As protection, no one will need a bullet proof vet, just a good quality helmut. These could come in a range of decorator colours, basic black for those sophisticated moments.  Sure an arm or leg might get cracked but no one is going to die, and everyone has an equal chance. Plus you can run away or make sure you stand a good six feet away and no harm can be done.  Geeze, I really should run the world.  Now, world peace…

Grade 8 students are so gullible. I was teaching them how to access their school email (many of them don’t even know what an email is! Does that make you feel old?) and I told them that once they had read an email and decided that they no longer needed it to delete it so that they didn’t end up with 4967 emails by the end of the year. I added that of course they should delete everything, except my emails as they were the best and most important. Instantly a look of terror flew across the face of one young student who confessed, “I just deleted one of your emails!” Oh the fun playing with young minds. I told her I forgave her… and then told her I was joking. Damn teacher honesty.

It is amazing how where you live shapes your life. Last week, I was driving through the Village when I felt something drop under my feet. It seemed to fall from under the dashboard. In the city I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but now that we live in the country, all those media stories of snakes crawling into cars and dropping onto drivers instantly came to mind, and so I hastily pulled over. Turns out it was my sunglasses case! It did make me aware of how much our life has changed in the last eighteen months.

The real thing, a snake, did eventuate though. Mr FD found a green tree snake had made its way through a hole in the screen door in the laundry and was slithering its way down the hall way today. It was a monumental battle as Augie Dog wanted a piece of the action, or rather snake as well. So Mr FD had to hold Augie with one hand and dispatch the snake with the other. Snakes are protected in Australia, but if they come into my house they are an endangered reptile in my opinion. Just to prove his bravery, Mr FD left the blood smear on the floor near the main bathroom. When I arrived home I handed him the antiseptic wipes to finish the job ( sometimes the fragile female act really is the only course of action!) New screen door being ordered tomorrow.

The Old Windmill, Brisbane http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Windmill,_Brisbane

Town Mouse and Country Flamingo Dancers

ht

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. ~Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, 1880

Daughter1’s mother in law invited my sister and I to High Tea at one of the grander inner city hotels today. We ladies of distinction were joined by Daughter1 and Petite Fille who wore her baby tutu summer onesie for the occasion. We three older ladies all wore our pearls, naturally.

high-tea 2

The menu consisted of :

Homemade buttermilk scones with organic strawberry jam, vanilla clotted cream

SWEET

Raspberry Friand
Opera Square
Praline Choux bun
Fruit Almond Log
Sticky Date
Banana Loaf

SAVOURY

Spanner crab and smoked salmon salad sandwiches
Goats curd, celery heart, watercress and walnut sandwiches
Organic egg, mayonnaise and celery cress sandwiches
Herbed corn-fed chicken, mustard mayonnaise, fine herb sandwiches

We drank a variety of teas and some coffee, as well.

Petite Fille packed her own lunch of mashed avocado and cottage cheese, followed by stewed apple and yoghurt, and a side plate of a vegemite sandwich. She joined her paternal grandmother for a walk around the dining room as an intermission interlude, and a walk  to the lobby to watch the elevators go up, up up and then down, down, down with her maternal grandmother (moi!). As well, she clapped hands and blew kisses with her GreatAunt (my sister) before sitting on the floor and unpacking her mother’s handbag. It was a full afternoon for Petite Fille as the matriarchs of her family tree stuffed their faces and bellies with treats and more tea, please!

After a gentle stroll through the nearby Tiffany, Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores , “just browsing, thank you!” we returned to our carriage and returned to our country houses.

So many people, so much noise, the country life for us!

[Reference: Town Mouse and Country Mouse]

there is a rule for that

 

One last word on THE HOTEL. To be honest, it turned out to be very convenient and rather comfortable, even if the shower was too small and the shower head shot the water up the wall above my head. The receptionist was also rather indifferent and not particularly welcoming. All staff we sighted were Asian and I really do think they have a different concept of customer service than what Australians are used too.

However, unlike most hotels that offer services everywhere one turns, this one had rules everywhere and for everything. There was also a dollar value on many misdemeanours as well. To use the tennis court (luckily Mr FD declined its usage) a guest was expected to pay a $100 deposit. There was no mention if this was refundable!

It was such a schoolmistress mentality that it became a running joke between Mr FD and I.

“Do you want a cup of tea?”
“There is probably a rule for how many times the kettle can be used.”
“And it will cost $100!”

Just to prove my point:

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 001

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 002

 

Surgery is a walk in the park

Not only was our hotel directly across the road from the aforementioned desired hotel of preference, I could in fact lie in my bed to view it in all its whitewashed glory. Oh, lucky me.

We tumbled into the hospital reception area ten minutes early for our 6.30 am appointment, miracles of miracles, only to be handed one of those buzzers they hand out in pubs to summon patrons when it is time to collect meals. We were told Mr FD was fourth on the surgery list and we would be called.

After what seemed an age Mr FD asked me the time and we both realised that we had been there for a total of 15 minutes. An hour and a half later Mr FD got “buzzed” to come on down! We were directed around the corner to the right and to another set of chairs.

On the way Mr FD spied the toilet and detoured which I knew was going to cause complications, and it did. No sooner had we settled, we being me and a very small boy with his father, when an ancient female volunteer appeared to take us downstairs. I apologised for Mr FD and she settled in a chair to await the bathroom escapee. I belittled Mr FD in his absence, as was his due.

Never one to disappoint, Mr FD arrived and as way of apologising announced that it was a fine thing he had gone to the bathroom as it had allowed him to discover that his boxer shorts were on inside out. I mumbled something about “too much information” with which small boy’s father agreed with a smile and nod of his head as we shuffled behind the old woman into the elevator and descended into the depths of the surgical area.

Another half hour of trying to not cough phlegm over anyone (in a hospital!) and to blow out the mucous factory in my nose somewhat discreetly and less like a trumpet passed by until Mr FD was finally handed more paperwork, asked more questions and then taken beyond the swinging doors.

While Mr FD was whiling his time away in surgery, I went for breakfast in the hospital cafeteria where I treated myself to a bang up breakfast of pre-prepared bacon and hard poached eggs and the flattest toast I have ever witnessed. I had been kind enough not to eat in front of Mr FD as he had been nil by mouth from 8pm the night before and this is how I get repaid! It did only cost $8 which was considerably better than the $23 the hotel wanted for a “continental breakfast” of single serve all bran cereal, artificial milk, muesli bar and dried fruit mix.

After my hospital grade repast it was time for the morning constitutional, or in my case a slow, huffing, puffing, coughing stagger through the Roma Street Parklands across the street from the hospital. We lived in Brisbane for 10 years and in all that time, despite numerous self-promises to do so,(hello, anyone there? Am I even listening?) I had never visited the Parklands (sacre bleu!)

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 012

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 013

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 017

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 018

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 021

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 025

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 026

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 028

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 029

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 030

So, being a country visitor to the big city I turned tourist and took in the local sights, not only the parklands, but also some of the quintessential original Queensland architecture.

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 003

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 005

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 008

Roma Street Parklands July 2013 009

At 11.30 I got not one, but two phone calls from the hospital to say that Mr FD was in recovery and could be collected at 1.45pm. Two calls, because the nurse forgot she had already spoken to me and called again! Mr FD was not allowed to walk the 100 metres back to our hotel, so I drove out of our hotel, turned left, turned left again and then turned left once more, with a final left into the hospital entrance to park at the front door. Does that qualify as a square route?

I asked very nicely for Mr FD at the front desk as instructed, but apparently they wanted him a little longer so I was forced to wait in the lobby. After about five minutes I looked at my arm and realised that I had pulled my pullover on inside out! I thought I could probably carry it off as a fashion statement until I realised that the laundry tag would be exposed at the neckline and so pulling my scarf a little looser to camouflage what I could I slunk over to lean, back against the wall. (Now you know why Mr FD and I are such a match – we are challenged by dressing. I have to honestly admit that it has happened more than once or twice…)

Mr FD was wheeled out in a wheelchair, right to curb’s edge, something I had only ever seen previously on American television shows. Last time, Mr FD two knees had been operated on in the very same hospital and he had been forced to hobble out to the car park. I have undergone cancer operations and the loss of body parts and never been offered a wheel chair for Big Whatever’s sake!

I was handed back a very chipper Mr FD who, if it is humanly possible, was even more talkative than usually. He was feeling no pain, but I soon was as he talked and talked and talked. His medication was working a wee bit too well and would continue to do so all day. It was about this time that I regretted my suggestion that we take the hotel room for two nights in case he needed an overnight stay in hospital, and was now trapped in a very confined space for the rest of the afternoon.

There was no escape, and so a woman has to do what a woman has to do. I drove out of the hospital grounds, turned left, and then turned left before turning left into the underground hotel car park and depositing Mr FD at the car park elevator.

Mr FD really enjoyed his surgery. He told me (again and again until bedtime) about the various conversations shared with fellow patients, the caring nurses who had seen to his every need and ha ha ha about the many jokes he had cracked with the doctors (and yet he escaped a lobotomy). A little social butterfly was he, as he worked the operation theatre.

The surgeon is not sure how long this repair job will last, eventually Mr FD will require a knee replacement. I think the poor man is actually looking forward to it. Do you think he needs more care and attention at home?

I’ll talk to Augie Dog, perhaps he will care and attend…