Category Archives: family

Travel Preparations

Less than three months to go, and the excitement is building.  Yes, I’m off to Seattle on 26th July, thence to Washington (DC), New York and then back to Seattle, arriving back in Brisbane on 8th September.

Oh, did I mention the Nanaimo Fringetastic Theatre Festival? Because I’m joining up with the Seattle-based but internationally oriented troupe Across the Pond to perform the new work Man Catches Fish in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

There will be a couple of conferences to attend in Washington, DC. I’m co-presenting on a panel on Presence at ATHE, and who knows what I will get up to at the VASTA conference…

But before any of that can happen, there is still the dreaded thesis to hand down. Any day now, folks!

I saw two shows this week. Wild Honey, Michael Frayn’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Platinov, was performed by the second year acting students at QUT. This was the first English language performance of Chekhov I have ever seen that actually had people behaving like Russians. I loved it.  Then last night I saw An End to Dreaming, with Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach. It’s a kind of song cycle, two fabulously talented singer/musicians, billed as “dark” “mysterious” cabaret, but I found it dirge-like.  Ah well, you cannot win them all, as they say in the classics.

Explorations and Views

The pedometer is such a boon – when it works. There were a couple of days last week when I couldn’t understand how I could have walked so little, when I’d been quite active. Then I realised the pedometer doesn’t tick over if it’s wrapped tightly in my waistband. So, now that’s been sorted, I am happy to report that my first two days of the Walk In Her Shoes Challenge – to walk 10,000 steps a day for a week – have resulted in 11,430 (yesterday) and 10,320 (today – so far). Yesterday I walked through the housing estates behind us, some newly built, more in the process of being built. Most of them are little boxes with high windows and a view of nothing, backing onto glorious bushland.

Today I walked down Beams Road to check out how far it is to the nearest shops. Twenty minutes, or 3,200 steps!

Five days to go.

Here we have two grandmas, enjoying a trip to Central Park Zoo in April this year with our grand-daughter, Natalie. Adele, my co-grandma and dear friend insisted on buying this pic for me, and I just love it to bits.

I’m now staying in a nice little bungalow in Carseldine – Fitzgibbon really – with Wokkie the Chihuahua, and Mao-Mao the cat. We rock along together quite happily.

I’ve also acquired a desk of my own at Long Pocket, where the School of English, Media Studies and Art History has been relocated while renovations are under way in St Lucia. It’s so exciting to have somewhere to go to, just to work on my thesis. I have bookshelves, so I’ve managed to get some books out of storage. I also have a view of trees, and it’s so lovely to walk out into the peace and quiet.
So, there will be more walking, and there will also be movement on the thesis writing project, I promise you. And I promise me.

Walk In Her Shoes – a challenge

Back in Brisbane Tuesday morning, after 3 weeks in Seattle. The weather is similar, although apparently it had been raining heavily in Brisbane before I arrived, it’s been crisp and sunny since I got here, cooling down towards winter. In Seattle, it was mostly rain in the morning and clean and clear and bright in the afternoons and evenings, heading through spring towards summer.

I’ve signed up for the Walk In Her Shoes Challenge, set up by CARE Australia to raise funds to help women and girls living in poverty to fulfil their potential. The idea is that such women walk many thousands of steps each day just to fetch water or run errands in order to survive, missing out on opportunities to attend school, or earn an income in a way that allows them to spend more time with their families and communities. So I’ve agreed to walk 10,000 steps a day for a week (30th May to 5th June). You can sponsor me from my Everyday Hero website, just a few dollars makes a tremendous difference.

My goal is to raise $500.  I have my pedometer attached to my trousers, and I’ve begun the process of preparation for the main event.  On Thursday I drove up to Bribie Island to visit my mother, took her out to lunch to celebrate her 97th birthday, then headed for the beach to begin my training.

I had a wonderful visit with Iain, Jessie, Owen, Natalie and Annie in Seattle, and I miss them terribly already. As well, I managed to catch up with the delightful Gin Hammond and her partner Jeff, although I didn’t get to meet baby Max in person, I got the full iPhone experience

It was the start of the Baseball season, and I had the joy of watching Owen join his first T-Ball team. The first game was hysterical, I overheard someone remarking that the coaches must train for this job by herding cats. I missed the second game, being struck down with strep throat. The third game was a revelation. The kids were still wild and woolly, but relatively much more disciplined than they had been on the first day, remembering to run to first base as soon as they hit the ball into the field, and only run further when the next batter hit the ball likewise.  Owen is totally ace as a fielder, remembering to get the ball to first base no matter what – even if it means running all the way there and handing it over himself. Batting skills are improving by the minute.

Here’s the movie, from Opening Ceremony to game 3.


Trials and Tribulations of Updating Forever

Sorry to be away for a while, lots going on, and nothing, at the same time.

First, where was I?  Isn’t it an interesting phenomenon, that the more tired one gets, the fewer brain cells are available to retain a single thought.  Or is that that one requires more brain cells to create and retain a single thought?

Never mind. The point is, WordPress decided to offer its latest update, to 3.1.1, and as soon as I installed it, I couldn’t login again.  I’ve managed to get back with the help of the good folk at IXWebhosting. I’m back to 3.1, and very reluctant to upgrade again, until IXWebhosting and WordPress find a way to talk to each other kindly.

Enough with the whinging. We made it back across the continent from Newark to Seattle last Monday.  The kids and I had a couple of days worth of adventuring together, with trips on the No 55 bus to Downtown Seattle, and the monorail and hence to the Seattle Centre, and the Experience Music Project.

I’ve put this video up on YouTube, but private. I’m not happy about putting the kids on view for all and sundry to see. So you can watch it here. I’m pretty confident this blog doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic outside of friends and family.

You’ll see Owen and Iain playing baseball at the Grodstein’s house in Haworth, New Jersey, while Natalie provides the musical entertainment. There was a short trip to Moorestown, New Jersey, to play with cousin Natey, then back to Haworth where Iain is demonstrating his skills as an aircraft engineer, as he and Owen test out his invention. Over in Seattle, Owen and Natalie explored some of the instruments on the 3rd floor at Experience Music Project , at the Seattle Center, a wonderful place for kids and music lovers of all age.



I’m into my third day of reinstalling, downloading and uploading three of my websites, with all the attendant frustration that involves.  Fortunately, this one seems to be working again, after many messages and advice flowing from my service provider. The friendly peeps at IXWebhosting deserve a big pat on the back for their patience, and the speed with which they respond to my pleas for assistance. This is in sharp contrast to WordPress.Org who do not have a help department, and whose Forums are so chock-a-block with complaints about the new 3.1 upgrade that it is hard to get a word in edgewise. Ok, enough whinging. Just wanted to let you know I’m back. Oh, and if you have subscribed to this blog lately, and not received a response from me, that is because WordPress has not passed on the information.  I’m checking it out now. Take care – it’s dangerous out there – and in here.

of flood and fire

The dreadful floods that have inundated large swathes of eastern Australia lately, including much of my present hometown of Brisbane, have not troubled or inconvenienced me personally at a physical level. I am staying in one of the outer suburbs, not too close to the river and not particularly low lying, so the massive amounts of rain left the garden water-logged by last Monday, but not flooded.

The local streets have coped well – this is a fairly new housing estate – with storm water drains flowing freely throughout the worst of the downpour. As I took this picture I realised there was a drain blocked with leaves in the middle. I cleared it, and the water drained away very quickly.

I did get down to the River several hours before it really took over.  This photo was taken at the Kodak Beach, at Southbank, 9.30 am on Wednesday. By the time I got to the bus station it was closed, with water lapping the edge of the Queensland Performing Arts Complex nearby and buses being re-routed via the Captain Cook Bridge.  A friend dropped me to a bus stop in Ipswich Road, and 2 1/2 hours later I was safely home (a trip that normally takes around 30 minutes).  There was a lot of traffic winding its way around those streets that were not flooded. The river rose another 3 metres after this.

I have managed to stay pretty cool and calm, not a problem when I am not directly affected. Now that the water is receding, and the clean-up has begun, I feel the need to offer to help.  I have enough sense to realise that I am no longer fit and able enough to manage the heavy work that is required in the first, second and third instances. So I have offered to bake treats for anyone who wants them, and I’m selling my jewellery online with all proceeds to the Qld Flood Relief Appeal. You can either acquire something pretty in return for your donation – at –  or at my Etsy Store, or bid in the auction at Handmade Kids Flood Appeal Auction (the latter is for Australian residents only). Or of course you can donate direct to

I have listened and watched the news broadcasts, and been inspired by the patience and hard working support of our State Premier, Anna Bligh, by courage and generousity of local residents who mucked in together, helped clear each other’s houses, took in strangers and generally behaved with great kindness and patience, and appalled by the politicking of the opposition leader, who announced at the height of the tragedy that he would be “keeping a close watch on the government” rather than offering his, and his party’s support. Not a good look, Tony!

And I have been reminded, most reluctantly, of what it feels like to have your family’s lives at great risk, to lose all of your possessions, and to be inundated – not with water – but with the very generous donations of total strangers.  It was a house fire, on Tiree (Inner Hebrides, Scotland) in 1975.  I don’t think about it often, after all we all survived, we moved on. (ok, we lost the dog. That still hurts). At the time of the fire, I was so busy getting on with the business of getting everyone out, squirting a pathetic little fire extinguisher at the flames, and then watching the local fire brigade managing to douse the fire, but only after it had gone through the roof. I remember being overwhelmed by all the gifts of clothing and toys the islanders brought in huge bags, and I also remember feeling deeply resentful – something I have never confessed before.  I resented their smiling, caring faces, and I resented having to wear, and to dress my children in their loving gifts.  I still have a problem with second hand clothes, although I will occasionally indulge myself with some small item from St Vinnies, or the Salvo Shops. And boy, will I ever donate to them, every time I move and have a clean-out.

So I guess what I want to say at this moment is that I feel very deeply for those affected by this natural disaster.  I want to help you, in any way I can. That means I will bake for you, I will make and sell jewellery for you, I will come and entertain you when you are ready to be entertained.

I will also refuse to watch those disgusting television reporters who try to make people cry, with the camera people zooming in to catch the tears. Yuk! Do they have no humanity? They certainly don’t understand plain decent courtesy.

The Big Wet has a way to go. And then it will be back to the Big Dry. Because that is the way it works over here. Nature, eh?

Old habits, new thoughts

Idolising attractive performers didn’t begin with Bieber, or the Beatles or even Frank Sinatra, it was alive and well when Franz Liszt was touring Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. He kept a jar with trimmings of his hair to hand out to his adoring fans, to forestall them trying to tear it out of his head! I’m sure he wasn’t the first, either.

A recent discussion on girls wanting to be in the group, prepared to compromise their integrity etc reminded me of the conversation I was having with my counsellor a couple of months ago.

At the age of 66, in the writing up stage of my Doctorate, and having been subject to bouts of depression on and off for at least 62 years I decided to try counselling, in an effort to avoid going back onto medication.

At the first session I recalled always considering myself outside, or on the periphery of the groups that took shape at the boarding school in North Queensland I attended from the age of 9 to 15 in the late 50s.  I had no idea what was required of me to gain access to these groups. The girls were not unkind to me, and though I wanted to join them, I spent large chunks of time not giving them a thought. I got on with the things I enjoyed doing: reading and day-dreaming.

Was I so unusual?  I believed I was totally different to everybody else, a weirdo who didn’t ‘get’ the group thing.  In later years I realised that lots of my thoughts, reactions, beliefs etc are not so unusual, that in many ways I’m really pretty average!  But what about this one?

If we are to believe the current movies, tv shows and books that deal with teenage girls, life is a constant round of being bitchy, or being bitched about, of being ‘in’ or wanting to be ‘in’.  Surely there are girls around who, like me, find and have always found the whole thing a bit silly.

Maybe that’s why I don’t have a large cohort of friends. Peer pressure to do things I thought were pretty dumb never seemed to work on me. I could find dumb things to do all on my own.

Of course, there is the very powerful possibility that all my apparent disinterest in being accepted is just a cover up for a deep-seated fear of rejection. I’m pretty sure my counsellor will spot that one a mile off.  I freely admit, I loathe competition, although I love to collaborate. When I apply for a job, a grant, a loan, or even ask a friend to accompany me to a show, I learned early on to school myself to believe my attempt would fail, so that I could avoid disappointment.  The up side of this approach is that I often get delicious surprises.

So, back to that thesis. It won’t be accepted, of course…

Old Year Resolutions

This morning, I decided that the rest of my life starts now (as if it hadn’t already) but what I really meant was that I would walk the dog straight away, and not put it off until tomorrow.

The dog in question is not accustomed to regular walks, he’s a little Jack Russell cross (probably with a spaniel), and he’s been unwell for quite some time, so not really desperate to do much cross country walking.  Now, though, he’s got a new Vet, new medication, and is well into his second childhood, so walks are very much on his agenda.

Of course, he is not allowed on the couch… but when he does get up there, he is So Cute!

Charlie chillin' out

This is one of the reasons I love house-sitting. I get to spend time with some gorgeous animals, I get to walk, and take cute photos.

Another resolution I have decided to get under way before the end of the year is to crack into writing and hence finishing the writing of my dissertation. So I just had to buy an Airport Express base station, so that I could print it out wirelessly, because you have to print out stuff to proof read it properly, and let’s face it, some day I will have something worth proof reading. It only took four hours to get it set up…

And look at that! I’ve just written 232 words – oh, you mean writing them for my blog doesn’t count? Bother.

Meditating on leaving Whiteside

meditation at North Pine Dam a short movie.

It’s my last day at Whiteside, and I’ve been feeling pretty fragile so I took myself next door to visit North Pine Dam.  How silly is it, that I’ve been here three weeks, and only think to go there on the last day. It is literally the next road along from Whiteside Road.

Next stop, Rocklea on the southside of Brisbane, to look after a cute little rascal of a pup called Sylvester for five days.

Oh, and check out the trees at Mary Cairncross Country Park, a beautiful spot about an hour’s drive from here, on the way to Maleny and Montford.  The Rose Gums are just breathtaking.


Winter in Whiteside

Touch a tree
See the sky
Hear the song of a bird –
What more could I need?

Touch the sea
Feel the sky
Sing along with a bird –
What more could I need?

Touch me
See me cry
Feel the song of the world –
What more could we need?

Hear me
Touch the sky
Sing what you heard –
What more could you need?