Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Laps of IKEA

 I got to the gym tonight with only 4000 steps registering on my watch. 

I want to do 10000 steps. I've been good about this.

The 45-minute session with Twelve harvested another 1000 steps, with the general running around from each piece of equipment. 

So, with 5000 steps to find at twenty to eight, I did what was safe and available to get my tally up. 

I went and did laps of IKEA. 

Three laps in total. Following the yellow brick road (well, the big yellow arrows) around each floor will yield you about 1500 steps. 

What people don't tell you is IKEA is actually quite peaceful at night. It's not over run with the great unwashed, there's room to move. The ratio of screaming kids to fraught adults is limited. You're not bowled over by prams. There seem to be a lot of young couples with sleeping babies looking at sofa beds, foreign students seeking saucepans, and probably, the odd dingbat like me, strolling through the store, in sweaty gym gear, hoping to get her walking quota in for the day. 

I think this is a genius way to do some walking at night. It's warm. It's well lit. Nobody, including the sales consultants, are going to bother you. It's safe. And you get to reinforce why you no longer buy IKEA furniture - although it does have its place, says she who owns three Billy bookcases and a heap of glassware I don't mind losing to accidents. I'm also fond of their candles.

And at the end of the third lap, especially after the workout Twelve made me do... (I swore at him in French tonight. He giggled at me. Giggled! How rude!) I allowed myself a hot dog, because I was hungry and IKEA hot dogs are grouse. 

I'm happy with myself I kept to my steps. That feels best of all. 

Today's song:


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Lunchtime Walk

 Winter is my favourite season, and cool, wet, rainy days make my heart sing. Maybe it's because I was part raised on a farm and gentle rain is good. Maybe it's because I like the muted colours and dulled lights. Maybe it's just because I think the Melbourne streets look their best when they're damp.

Today was a cool, wet day. 

I went for a walk at lunchtime. I had four things to do. Go to the bank. Go to Myer. Collect the mail. And find some lunch. 

This is the scene that greeted me as I walked down Collins Street from my office at the Rialto Building. 

Grey, bleak, like something out of the 1960s. It was rather cool.

The bank session went well. I found what I wanted in Myer. The mail was collected. Lunch, a favourite salad from a favourite bar that I rarely get to because the queues are always long. A successful lunch break. 

Arriving back at the office, I bought some daffodils for Daffodil Day. Ten bucks for cancer research. A steal. The flowers brightened up the Rialto courtyard, which is normally filled with grey faced, grey suited lawyers and accountants. 

And after work I caught the tram home. It was drizzling. The trams were packed. But the light was awesome. 

In all, a successful day. 

And for no apparent reason, I've been singing this song all day. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Swearing in French

 I'm off to France in a month and things are getting exciting. For the last year, I've been dutifully doing my Duolingo, which is adding to my okay French skills. I did French all through school and for a year at uni. I've always used the language, and I'm lucky because I pick up language easily. 

For something different tonight, with a friend, I went off to a Laneway Learning class, "How to Swear Properly in French with Oceane."

It was awesome on so many levels. 

Firstly, after a gin and tonic with Lynnie and her friend Em, we made our way into the glorious Nicholas Building, with its rickety lift and old Melbourne charm. We were on time, but were greeted by Madelaine the manager, as we rounded one of the buildings many corners. 

"Stick fighting or Swearing in French?" she asked us.

"Um, Swearing in French," we said back in unison. 

"Follow me," she said, thinking that stick fighting sounded pretty fun too. 

And there we were with the wonderful Oceane, a pocket rocket Parisienne with a big smile and what seemed to be unending patience (and none of the Parisian nonchalance we hear so much about). If I could just have a thimbleful of her effortless cool, it would be wonderful. 

Oceane started out by quoting a neurobiologist who went to prove that people who swear are more intelligent. I can subscribe to that. 

The 75-minute class, which cost $20 was great. There was a lot of fundamental stuff, the hellos and goodbyes and the how are yous. Things you should learn before you start blasting off at people with cuss words in a foreign language. We looked at the hierarchy of swearing in French, from the words young children can use (Zut, idiot, andouille) to the words that would make a sailor blush (putane, salope, conasse...) And we got to practice on each other, which was fun. 

Oh, and don't mix up "connard" which means arsehole, with "canard" which means duck - like the bird that goes quack. 

Of course, there was a lot of talk about semantics. How the French don't have the universal adjective of "Fucking" which has lost a lot of its punch. (i.e. "Fucking" is now, what "bloody" used to be forty years ago - you can almost use "bloody" in polite society now, so much has it softened.)

One very cool moment was when one of the crew asked about the word "cunt". In recent years, the word has taken on a life of its own. You can call a friend a cunt, and its taken on as a term of endearment. You can describe somebody as a cunt, and you know they aren't very nice. You can use the word to describe a part of the female anatomy - although it's often thought of as derogatory, depending on how it's said. Personally, I rarely use the word, it's one I keep for special occasions. 

One of the members pressed this further. No, the French don't have one of these terms. Putane is about as good as it gets. 

I questioned back about using cunt, saying, "If you're going to call somebody a cunt, you'd want them to have some warmth and depth."

Then I sat back and waited for the penny to drop. When she worked out what I'd said, my night was made - took her a minute. 

In all, this was a fun hour - I really enjoyed the camaraderie in the group and Oceane's fun way of teaching. 

We left happy, searching the Nicholas Building for the rickety lift, feeling a bit better about going to Paris in a month. On exiting, we met up with some of the stick fighters, who seemed like a fun crew. Maybe next time. Laneway Learnings have some really interesting offerings at a good price point. I hope to go back. 

So entertained and enlightened, an ice cream in hand (because the Nicholas Building is across the street from Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and it would be rude not to partake) I caught the tram back home. 

It was worth missing book group for. 

Today's song:  This clip is worth watching for the subtitles. 

The Shot

It was going to happen, then it wasn't going to happen, then it happened. My COVID booster. 

One of the joys of overseas travel is you're going to be mixing with who knows what, and who knows where they have been - and if you're going to get sick, you get sick travelling. 

And the last COVID booster I'd received was in July last year (I had COVID in October, so that gave me a bit of immunity for a while). 

Talking to the nurse while I was having my flu shot, she said the best time to get a booster is a month out from going overseas. So I took her advice and booked for this week, meaning I get to Europe with hopefully maximum immunity. 

Today came. Then I got a text that read, "Don't come for your COVID appointment today. The cold chain has been broken and we've had to destroy the vaccines. Make another appointment."


Just after lunch, a second text, "Hi, we've obtained some vaccines from a sister chemist. If you want a vaccination, come to the shop. I'll be here until 4 p.m."

I grabbed by car keys and left immediately. 

I remember all of the angst from those first vaccinations. The endless discussions about which one to get - how people were hanging out for the Pfiezer, over the Astra Zeneca - or still, waiting for the Novovax. Or to not get one at all. I remember having to provide your vaccination status to come into the office. I'm not even sure if they asked about vaccinations. We've moved on so far from all of this. 

After a five-minute wait, the nurse came and got me, and the non-spoiled Moderna vaccination from the fridge. The jab didn't hurt. I was given my chupa-chup and I was on my way. It's not a real vaccination if you don't get a lollipop at the end of it all.

Thank fully, other than a bit of a sore arm, all is well. All will be fine tomorrow. 

I'm glad that this has become normal now. 

And hopefully it stops me from getting really sick if I come face to face with the dreaded lurgy again while away. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Concert Review: Candlelight Concert - A Tribute to Coldplay

 The Performance: Candlelight Concerts - A Tribute to Coldplay

Location: Collingwood Town Hall

Ticket Prices: Around $60

The next performance in Melbourne is on 22 September

Stars: 3.5

You mix two things and get something completely different. Two unlikely things. A strings concert orchestra - and Coldplay, with lots of electric candles - and you get a Coldplay tribute like no other. 

A friend and I went to the Collingwood Townhall for the Candlelight Concert's Tribute to Coldplay last night. I remember when we booked the tickets that this sounded alright. Orchestral version of Coldplay songs. I love music which takes advantage of the string section. I generally like Coldplay, although I reckon they are a bit overrated. They're definitely overplayed. And a touch derivative at times. 

The concert went for just over an hour. The strings orchestra was made up of six violins, three violas, three cellos, a bass and a fellow on the drums. All of the musicians were classically trained, and you could see this - they were on point. Young musicians. Happy musicians. A group playing a selection of Coldplay's greatest hits. Songs like:

  • Yellow
  • Clocks
  • Every Teardrop is a Waterfall
  • Speed of Sound
  • Princess of China
  • Trouble
  • Hymn for the Weekend
  • Scientist
  • A Sky Full of Stars
  • Everglow
  • My Universe
  • Adventure of A Lifetime
  • Fix You
  • Viva La Vida

The candlelight gives an extra element to the performance. It's great for the ambiance. 

And yes, I did enjoy the program, which lasted just over an hour. One thing I really liked was at the start of the concert, they said there was to be no photography or videos until the last set, when the audience was welcome to start recording to their hearts content. This worked well. For 80% of the concert you could sit and enjoy the evening without competing with people on phones. Instead, the musos had to compete with the audience singing along in places. 

My takeaways for the night. These concerts are where band geeks end up after music school. It's good that the musos are getting gigs like this. And the standard is very high.

The other thing, after a few songs, I was feeling like I was in stuck in the middle of a Bridgerton soundtrack. I love Bridgerton too, but it is a bit sappy. 

Then, after an hour, after quietly humming along to a few of my favourite tunes, after watching the passion of the performers on stage, it was over. 

It was a really entertaining night. Would I consider going to another tribute concert? Maybe. Depends on who it is. For me, I'd probably be better off going to a straight classical performance - that's more my thing. 

This was a good thing to go to. I'm glad I went - though I wouldn't rush back in a hurry. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Animal Questions

 This weeks questions are a bit silly, but I'll run with them, and get them out of the way. 

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. If animals could talk, which one do you think would complain the most about their day?

Probably the quantity and quality of the food. 

2. What do you think cats dream about during their epic naps?

From the noises Lucifer makes when he sleeps, I'd say he's chasing birds. 

3. If squirrels organized an Olympics, what events would they have?

Hoarding and looking cute. Love me a good squirrel. I miss seeing them not living in England. 

4. Do you think penguins ever get jealous of birds that can fly?

Maybe, maybe not. Penguins get to swim - not all birds get to do that. 

5. If animals had their own social media, what kind of posts would we see from them?

Don't a lot of animals have their own social media accounts already? 

6. What would be the title of the autobiography of a lazy house cat?

"I sleep, therefore I am."

7. If you had to choose an animal to be your personal bodyguard, which one would you pick?

A bear. Love me a good bear. 

8. Do you think dogs secretly judge us for not being able to sniff out everything they can?

Of course, they do. But secretly. 

9. If animals could wear clothes, which animal would have the best fashion sense?

House cats. Of course it would be house cats. Look what happens in a million years, according to Red Dwarf. For those who have not watched Red Dwarf, you're missing out. 

10. If a group of owls started a band, what would their music style be?

Classical. Owls would play Classical music - if not, death metal., it's all in the stare.

11. What do dolphins think when people swim with them?

That's a funny shaped nose that one has... (think about it).

12. What do you think squirrels gossip about when they chatter to each other in the trees?

I have no idea? Who has the biggest nuts? Read that as you will. 

13. If elephants played hide-and-seek, where do you think they'd hide?

Every five-year-old knows this. They paint their toenails red and they hide in strawberry bushes. 

14. What do you imagine a llama would say if you asked it about the meaning of life?

Very little. Everybody knows that llamas (and alpacas) aren't that bright. 

15. If you could swap places with any animal for a day, which one would it be, and why?

I'd swap places with my cat, Lucifer. He sleeps all day, doesn't pay rent, is fed regularly and love a lot. What more do you want? 

Today's song: 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Theatre Review: Escaped Alone and What If/If Only

 The Plays: Escaped Alone and What If If Only by Caryl Churchill

The Theatre:  The Southbank Theatre

The Company: The Melbourne Theatre Company

Stars: Escaped Alone - 3.5  What If/If Only  4

Until 9 September

Two short plays, loosely based on the theme of grief, on in one night. Sounds like a treat?

Yeah... Nah. 

The jury is still out on this offering from the Melbourne Theatre Company, which showed two of Caryl Churchill's more recent short plays. 

And they are not bad. But they're not going to be to everybody's tastes. 

First up came Escaped Alone

According to the MTC website, "In Escaped Alone, a woman joins her three neighbours for an afternoon of swapping memories and sharing secrets, in between the telling of catastrophic events, bleak but blackly humorous."

The staging is a bit in your face. Similar to 2.22: A Ghost Story, the effect of using loud screams and black outs grew a bit tiresome after a while - but it did give the breaks required between takes. 

Helen Morse plays Mrs Jarrett, who stumbles into a garden and starts up a discussion with her neighbours, Vi (Deborah Lawrence), Lena (Kate Hood) and Sally (Deirdre Rubenstein). The women discuss life, the universe and lots of things, all with an overtone of some sort of recent apocalypse. And that's about it. 

What I did like was the company has taken Caryl Churchill's stage directions to heart and employed four of Melbourne's septuagenarian actresses to play these roles, all of which in some ways morph into one. 

Churchill often writes her plays without punctuation or stage directions, but the actors have done well to get what they have out of the text. Saying this, I did fall asleep for a couple of minutes, but I don't think I missed much. The near stream of consciousness way of the play meant not having to be on point. 

It reminded me a bit of Samuel Becket's works, if not a little more approachable. 

After a short interval, came What If If Only. Another meditation on grief. 

Alison Bell plays S, a woman who is barely containing her grief for her lost partner. The MTC website describe it as "... a partner laments their lost love and conjures up countless possible futures, with and without love." These futures come to visit her over the 30 minutes of the play. 

I much preferred the second play. Topical, relevant and interesting. The first play took a bit more to get into, but I did enjoy seeing some of Australia's Master actors on stage. In both works, the characters’ hopes, fears and dreams are palpable, visceral and remarkable.

These plays aren't for everybody. Some may even describe them as a lighter, feminised version of a Samuel Becket play. And yes, Anne-Louise Sark's direction is on point for most of it, and I loved Marg Horwell's sets.

For this effort, I'm filing it under, approach with caution. I enjoyed the concept. Many other's won't. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

But we didn't get Book Week...

 Everything was discombobulated this morning. The car went in for a service. I was driving a Mazda CX-30, high-spec, in what people in London car dealerships used to refer to as Jewish Racing Gold. I needed to get cash out - something I rarely do (like when was the last time anybody got cash out of a cash machine?) As I was standing, waiting for my cash to be delivered, a mother and son came out from the direction of the bathrooms. The mum had a look of relief on her face. The son was dressed as Batman. He looked good as Batman. 

"Great costume," I said in direction of the mother. 

"I know - it's fantastic what you can find at KMart. I left my run too late."

We exchanged a few more pleasantries before my cash came out and the mother and son went to school. 

I didn't know Batman was a book...

We never got book week as kids. If you were lucky, you participated in the Multiple Sclerosis Society Readathon, but we didn't get to dress up as our favourite book characters. 

For years now, I've watched as my friends have dutifully dressed their kids up and sent them off to school for book week. I've watched as the parents have had some panic attacks over this. I saw Blarney get some t-shirts reading "Thing One and Thing Two" for the Units. Thing One and Thing Two are from Dr Seuss. 

Other parents have put a lot of effort their children's costumes. 

And good luck to them. 

But I still feel like I've missed out. Not so much the not having children to dress up. Bugger that. 

We never got to have Book Week when we were kids. 

I'm not sure who I would have gone as:

  • Moonface from The Magic Faraway Tree?
  • One of the Gumnut Babies?
  • The Bunyip from Barkley's Creek?
  • The Cat in the Hat? 
As I got older, there were lots of options. 
  • St Exupery's Little Prince. 
  • Captain Midnight's cat, Cat
  • Grab a branch from a tree and go as Burnham Wood from the Scottish Play
  • Or the whore from Pericles

I can see my mother ignoring the requests for dressing up for book week - she had enough to do without that. 

But I still feel like I've missed out.

Maybe we should have Book Week at work...

Today's song: 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

10000 Steps

 Making 10000 steps a day, when you work from home, is hard. 

We've got a bit of a competition going. 10000 steps a day for four weeks as a minimum. The top team, wins some sort of prize - I've got no idea what the prize is - we won't win. I haven't looked. 

But the challenge is there, get your steps in. And my only goal, being a little bloody minded, and easy to do, is get more steps in that one other in my team. I won't beat one team member, they normally do 15000 steps a day. The other one plays a lot of sport, so I won't beat them. It's a little goal...

I'm proudly doing about 13000 steps a day at the moment - at a push. It means going for a reasonable walk at lunch, then one after work. Days in the office are a bit better - I seems to do well here. In Darwin, I was doing around 15000 steps a day.

Tomorrow, however, I have no idea how I'm going to do this. It's the day the car gets a service. It means getting up, going out to the burbs, dropping the car off before work, going back at lunch to pick it up, then I've got a session with Twelve after work. 

Spending time on the treadmill won't work to build the steps as I found out last night. 

And stupidly, I'm getting anxious about this. 

The brain is a funny thing. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Gym Date

 I'm making a concerted effort to get fitter. I'm fit and strong, but I'd like to be fitter. And I need a bit of accountability. 

Jay, my normal gym buddy is not into cardio. Great with the weights but spending half an hour on the treadmill is not going to happen. 

Enter Hamish. 

Hamish has been going to the gym on the same days and the same time as Jay and I for years. When Hamish's trainer goes away on vacation, Hamish would often train with us when Cleo was our trainer. We swapped numbers yonks ago as a just in case measure. 

We ran into each other last night - his trainer is away again. He mentioned he's in the gym Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays - and we'd be seeing him around. 

Knowing I need somebody to be accountable to, I bit the bullet and sent him a text. 

"Hey, it's Pandora from the gym. If you feel like a training buddy tonight, give me a shout."

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

A reply came quickly. 

"Sure - I'm seeing Jack the trainer, but free after 7.15. Let's get some cardio in after. "

"Excellent, see you then."

The great thing about having somebody to whom you are accountable, you're far more likely to turn up.

Which I did.

On time even.

And even though I could have wimped out and gone for a beer and a game of pool with the work crew, I went home, fed the cat, climbed into my gym clothes and went to the gym. 

Hamish and I went for a walk on the treadmill. 40 minutes later, I got my cardio done for the day. Having somebody to chat to makes the treadmill far easier to tolerate. 

We've agreed, this should be a more common occurrence. 

It's good to have people in your life to do things like this with. 

Today's song:

Monday, August 21, 2023

Holiday Planning - Brittany

 Poor Reindert. 

I booked our accommodation for the last part of our trip last night. 

He said go for it - whatever. I trust you. 

Which means, a bedroom each, because we're old now, and we both don't have to scrounge. It means, for me, we can get something decent, not just bare minimum - but it doesn't have to be five star accommodation. AirBNB all the way.

Three nights, I'm booking. 

We had a chat about what we wanted to get out of our three day jaunt around Brittany and Normandy. 

We're meeting at 2 pm at Charles de Gaulle Airport, and picking up a hire car. 

Then, we're off North. 

The first place to visit - Villers Brettoneux. My mum had an uncle there in World War One. Uncle Roy, it turns out, is one of the most decorated non-combatant soldiers of the war. He survived the horrors of the way. And just reading this bio, he was at Villers Bretonneux fifty years to the day before I was born. It's a bit of a pilgrimage for me. 

We've got a nice AirBNB in the nearby town of Amiens. 

Where, as Reindert will find out, I might get to have a poke around the cathedral, which looks spectacular. Reindert is going to learn quickly, this girl sees a cathedral and you won't see her for dust. Reindert is an avid atheist. I am spiritual and agnostic - but I adore church architecture. 

Then it's off to Brittany. 

There's a few places to visit while we're in the vicinity. Reindert wants to go to Omaha Beach. I'm really good with that. Nearby is the town of Bayeux - and after studying it in school, I'd love to see the Bayeux Tapestry in real life. 

Our digs for the next two nights are in the old town of St Malo. 

I'm excited about this. What Reindert hasn't been told is that I love a book called "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. Love this book. 

And we're staying in the old town of St Malo - the place where the book is set. (for those who don't read, the series is coming out  on Netflix in November. May they do it justice.)

I love when you get to live out your dreams. 

The following day, we're going to Mont St Michel. Again, another lifelong dream. 

I'm also hopefully catching up with another friend from university, who lives nearby. I'm going to be carting around a catering sized jar of vegemite for her, we had better catch up, especially as this is the second to last day of my trip.

Then it's back to Paris to catch the plane home. 

Am I allowed to get excited yet?

I've just got one night of the trip to organise. A night in Southend-on-Sea in England. I only go to the best places. 

Today's song:

Sunday, August 20, 2023

I'm a very blessed woman

 My friends are wonderful. And I've been royally spoiled. 

Maybe I should have a birthday more often. 

While in Darwin, some colleagues took me to this wonderful Sri Lankan place, and then for cocktails at a Melbourne style bar (i.e. down a lane, behind a non-descript fire door) and down a dark corridor.)

The day before went well, flying back to Melbourne. I chanced my luck and met up with the big boss outside the Qantas Club before the flight. He waved me in. 

"You coming in?"

"Thank you. Thought if I sat here long enough and smiled at a nice man somebody would let me in," I told him. 

"I'm not a nice man," he replied. 

"You're Canadian, of course you're nice," was my retort. 

He shrugged. What more could he say? 

I got a Qantas Club Bloody Mary, a nice chat to the boss, and a free seat next to me on the way home. I see all of these things as a big win (okay, maybe not a chat with the boss, but I got entry to the lounge...)

Yesterday, after what felt like a day in the car, Jonella took me for cheap and cheerful Mexican. There were Lemon and Elderflower margaritas. Everything is made better with elderflower. We followed that up with ice cream from Messina Gelato - and I will say that their caramel, burnt fig and amaretti ice cream is the absolute bomb. Having come back late from Darwin, it was lovely to have a quiet meal with a good friend. It's all I wanted to do - perfect. 

Then today, a group of as met for lunch at a local French restaurant, my favourite place in Richmond, with a group of friends. It was a lovely afternoon. I know good people. And the food was once again, amazing. There was a roast beef with garlic potatoes, veggies and a apple souffle with muscat ice cream for dessert. 

But there was only enough for two pairs to have this. 

Me, I went off the menu. Two entrees. A pate filled tarte and my absolute favourite, steak tartare, followed by creme brulee. Could not be lovelier. 

It was a lovely afternoon, with great friends, doing exactly what I wanted to do on my birthday, with people I love. 

Not to mention the texts and messages sent over the day - it was a bit overwhelming. 

I'm really very blessed. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Name your favourite

 I like these questions. Quick and easy ones to answer, and since it's my birthday today, I can get this out the way without too much difficulty. 

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing

Name Your Favorite…

    Place: London. I miss it. 

    Color: Pillarbox Red. 

    Smell: Dogs paws, first thing in the morning. 

    Magazine: I'm not reading magazines much, but I do like The Monthly and The New Yorker. 

    Texture: Satin. 

    Thing to do when bored:  Watch television or read or go for a walk.  

    Precious stone: Emeralds

    Animal: My cat, Lucifer. He's wonderful. 

    Time in history: The Court of Henry VIII is fascinating, though I wouldn't want to live in it. World War II is another pet time I love to read about - again, wouldn't want to live it. 

    Font: Times New Roman all the way. I find it comforting. 

    Sound: Rain on a tin roof. 

    Fruit: Mangos and strawberries - and the flavour of yuzu, not that I have ever seen a yuzu in real life (Yuzu tastes like a mix of lemon and mandarin - love it. )

    Vegetable: Potatoes - sweet potatoes or regular potatoes. Love them. 

    Store/shop: There's this Florentine paper shop down Degraves Street. I never buy anything in there, but I could spend hours looking at their stock. That and Mecca Cosmetica. 

    Quote: This:

Mind you, this comes a close second:.

   Historical figure: Thomas a Beckett - it's a long story, but he is great. 

    Letter: What sort of letter? I love the Hebrew Aleph. It's elegant. 

    Memory:  There are lots of them. Too many to choose from. Hanging out with the Stone of Scone in Westminster Abbey many years ago is one of them. 

    Dessert:  Creme brulee. Love it. So satisfying. 

    Candy:  Musk sticks and Pascals Fruit Bon Bons. They are Australian fare. 

    Restaurant:  Cumulus Inc in Melbourne. The food is amazing. 

    Language: Well, English is my mother tongue, but I am loving re-learning French. Such a gorgeous language. 

    Thing to learn about:  Anything historical. I love history. 

    Thing about yourself:  I'm a kind person. I think this is a good.

Today's song: 

Friday, August 18, 2023

Too busy to write

 Today looks like this:

  • Get up
  • Shower and get dressed
  • Have breakfast
  • Finish packing
  • Go to work (which is next door, but still)
  • Get some work done
  • Have lunch
  • Attend a couple of meetings
  • Go to the airport
  • Get the plane
  • On arriving back in Melbourne, pick up the car.
  • Collect the cat (I should be back mid-evening all going well
  • Go home.
Writing is not going to happen today. 

It's been a good trip, but I'm looking forward to the cool weather again. 

Today's song:

Darwin Drag

There are no photos from tonight. When a six-foot five bearded Islander bloke in drag tells you there will be no photos, you don't take photos. However, what ensued for the next hour was nothing short of wonderful. 

Yes, I've been to a drag show, in Darwin. As you do. It would be rude not to. 

We went to two shows while we were up here. We, being a colleague and me. On selecting the shows, we found an indigenous song and storytelling set, Reckoning, which we were supposed to see on Wednesday, but that was cancelled, so Tuesday it was. This was great. Thought provoking, soul-enriching and a delight for the heart. 

Tonight, it was a matter of going from the sublime to the ridiculous. It turned out to be a drag/burlesque/circus/you name it show . Briefs it was called, and the briefs were brief. Very brief. 

What made this even better was that the boys, all of whom are highly skilled dancers, burlesque artists, clowns and drag queens, were let down by customs. Coming in after performing in America somewhere, they all landed in Darwin, but their suitcases, with costumes, were all on the tarmac in Brisbane.

But Darwin is a place of opportunity and community, so a quick ring around the drag community of Darwin, and a side trip to Sexyland and they were kitted out for the night’s show.

To be honest, we in the audience could tell the difference. They were fabuous. 

There was the obligatory raffle - complete with a meat tray prize and a very understanding middle-aged white Welsh guy who accepted a lap dance on stage from four very hot dances with great aplomb. 

What stood out here was the artistry of these blokes. My colleague asked me who was my favourite performer. Was it Faz, the emcee, who had us all rolling around with laughter. There was a contemporary dancer, who's grace blew me away. A clown drag queen who was hysterical. A couple of other dance acts, which combined dancing with yoga, acrobatics and strip tease. There was the fellow with the hoops, and the edgy bloke dressed as Satan, out to tempt.

In all, this was an outstanding night if entertainment. 

I feel really blessed to be able to do these things. I hope to get back to the Darwin Festival at some stage - it's brilliant.

Today's song:

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Happiness is an empty hotel pool

 By Wednesday of any given trip, we've got into a routine and the place begins to feel like home. 

Work is work, and that is fine. After work is different. 

Monday night is steak night at the Cavenagh Hotel. It's a collegial evening, often followed b walking down to the local ice cream parlour for a scoop or two. I highly recommend the white chocolate, caramel and macadamia flavour. 

Tuesday night, sometimes things are planned. Other times not. For me, exercise is key. Putt on the gym gear and go for an hour walk, taking in the sunset over the water, before finding some take away dinner on the way home. 

Tonight is Wednesday - and it's more of the same. 

I'd left the office at 5 p.m. On walking down Knuckey Street, I ran into Merv Hughes. Again. We looked each other up and down with a hint of recognition, seeing he held the door open for me at the Cav on Monday night. 

"You, again!" I stated. 

"Hello there," was his reply. 

We gave each other a smile and walked on. 

I'm not going to tell him that I had cricket posters up on my wall as a kid. I'll leave that to my cricket mad, Indian colleagues. 

I got home, changed into gym clothes and runners and went for a walk around the Waterfront. 

The throng had asked me to come to some pub to watch the Matilda's game. I asked if I could bring my knitting. They left it at that. 

To be honest, the thought of being in a pub with a lot of noisy people didn't thrill me. I'm not one for noise, nor crowds. Also, as I keep saying, my interest in soccer is limited. If I wanted to see people not score I'd go to a nightclub or pub. 

The walk was welcome. As it's the dry, you can get a good walk in and not come back a sweaty heap. As always, the sunset was lovely. I found some dinner on the way home. 

And the for the best bit of the day. The swim. 

Throwing on my bathers, a t-shirt an a sarong, grabbing a towel from the front desk, I crossed to road and went to a nearby hotel. Their reception staff let me up to their pool deck. 

And I had the pool to myself. 

This in my idea of bliss. Nobody to talk to. No kids. No nothing. Just you and the water. It's even better at night. 

A quick swim, cooled down, mind softened and happy, I returned back "home" for dinner. 

I know I'm blessed - sometimes, I'm more blessed than others. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Rando

 One of the great things about Darwin in the dry season is that the place feels alive. Gone is the oppressive humidity. Instead, there are these perfect summer days - 32 in the shade, a hint of a breeze, and thankfully, the air is dry. Your washing dry in the shade outside - and doesn't smell of mold. It's great.

But it is still hot, which means going for a quick swim after work. As the pool at the hotel is still being jackhammered, much to the chagrin of the locals, I popped over to a neighbouring hotel for a quick dip before heading out to dinner at the pub. 

While in the pool, I struck up a conversation with a lovely woman who was in Darwin after a trip on The Ghan. Her name was Cecelia. Cecilia from Mosman in Sydney. Cecelia was in her seventies. In the fifteen minutes in the cool pool water, we got into a chat about all sorts of things. Her travels, life as an older woman, where we agreed, our invisibility is our superpower even if it is annoying. Travelling as a single woman and how it can be a bit disheartening to have to eat by yourself every night - all sorts of things. 

We then got onto the subject of what to eat in Darwin on a Monday night. 

Monday night is not great for food in Darwin. Everything is closed. 

She told me she's been in Darwin for a few days and was getting sick of eating at the hotel restaurant. She wanted some options. 

This, being my fourth trip up here, had a couple of thoughts. She was told of the good barramundi at our hotel across the road - this comes highly recommended. 

The other option was to go down the Cav. The Cavenagh Hotel is a bit of a legend in Darwin. It does fantastic steaks. It's busy. It's friendly. And it's not the hotel restaurant. I said that's where I was going and if she was down there, she was welcome to join us. If she was lucky, she could maybe meet Merv Hughe, Australian cricket legend.

I didn't think she'd take me up on it. 

After running back to the hotel, grabbing a quick shower, I went down to the Cav to meet the crew. I followed Merv Hughes into the pub.

Twenty minutes later there was a tap on my shoulder. 

"Hello, Pandora."

"Why hello, Cecilia. Would you like to join us?"

"Are you sure?" she asked. 

Looking down the table, I asked those near me if my new mate could join us.

"Who's this?" one asked. 

"This is Cecilia. She's a rando I met at the pool."

"Sure." One of the team found her a chair. 

Over the meal, we introduced Cecilia to the team. She was fascinating - and very interested in return in what a group of contractors, guns for hire, whatever you like to call us, were up in Darwin from Melbourne, who come up here once a month to work. 

We got our meals and had a couple drinks and my colleagues took on Cecilia the Rando with aplomb. 

At the end of the meal, we all saw her back to her hotel before we headed off to the local ice cream parlour for a quick fix. 

"Who was that?" one of the team up the other end of the table. 

"Cecilia the rando. I met her at the pool."

"She seemed nice."

"She was."

Cecilia is flying back to Sydney today. She said it was lovely to be around a group of people who took her on and made her feel welcome. So much better than having yet another boring meal in the hotel restaurant. We've all been there.

For me, I'm grateful to work with a mob of people who are fun, easygoing and accepting of others joining in on the fun. 

It makes a difference. 

Today's song: 

Monday, August 14, 2023

On the Edge of Armageddon

Your mission, if you wish to accept it – find oestrogen patches in Mainland Australia at the present time.

They say that there is no shortage when it comes to medication in Australia. That is utter bullshit. 

Talking to my doctor when I was updating my prescriptions the other week, she spoke of medicines being out of stock. Some common antibiotics being one of these medicines in short supply. Some diabetes medicines are hard to come by. 

The one that is getting me at the moment is Australia's lack of is oestrogen patches.

I can hear a couple of giggles, but this is not a laughing matter. Menopause is not a laughing matter. It's common. It's very variable. At worst, it can be fucking unpleasant. Probably this shortage is made worse by the fact that no man has ever gone through menopause, so because they can’t mansplain it, it doesn’t exist.

Thankfully, I have a doctor and gynaecologist who listen to me. Some of the things I encounter, when I’m not wearing my patches include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Itchy skin, particularly in the nether regions
  • Dryness of the parts down there
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Bladder leakage
  • Malaise
  • Hair growing in places women don’t want hair.

Yes, it’s absolutely crap, and it's even more crap when you can't get the stuff which stops all of this from happening. 

Even worse when you're working out of Darwin, and it's hot, and you get even hotter, life is not worth living. 

Before I left Melbourne, I tried to get my prescription filled. Alas, after visiting five chemists, all of different chains, all I could get my hands on were some baby strength patches which I have on hand for breakthrough sweats. I could put all four on to make up one week of the prescription. 

Coming up here to Darwin, out walking with a colleague at lunchtime, I stopped in at a chemist. I got my script off my phone, had the screen scanned and said that I was looking for something that was rarer than the Holy Grail, rocking horse poo and hen's teeth combined. 

The lovely chemist looked at me, said "Oh, Darl... let me check." She came back a minute later. She didn't have any, but their sister branch had some. One problem, they had some in another brand - not the one nominated on my script. (You know when the chemist asks if you'll take generic medicine - I didn't have a generic script.)

So, I walked down the road, to the other chemist shop, which was thankfully next to Woolies, where I also needed to go. I talked to the chemist. Yes, she had the patches, no she couldn't dispense them, even though common sense should prevail. I'd need to get a new script. 

I asked if she would put the two boxes she had on hold until lunchtime the following day - I'd see what I could do. She did this for me. 

Back in the office, I tried getting hold of my doctor. I could see her in three weeks if I wanted to wait. 

I rang the practice in Melbourne I go to when I have a cold or stomachache or some other minor complaint and asked if I could get a telehealth appointment that afternoon. There were three doctors available. Two male doctors and a female doctor. I asked to see the woman. Nothing rankles men like talking about menopause. 

Thankfully, she was great. She did all the due diligence. She understood the predicament and reissued my script for the generic patches. 

She did ask how would I cope if I couldn't get these meds. "Life would not be worth living," was my reply. 

A few minutes later, $70 out of pocket, the prescription was on my phone. Half an hour later I took at tea break and ran down to the chemist and walked away with two month's supply of the drug that gives me a decent quality of life.

What the world does not realise is that there are thousands of women who are affected by the shortage of this medication. Women who are hot, and sweaty, and grumpy, and itchy, and teary, and leaking, and on the verge of a murderous rage at would make Vlad the Impaler look like a parish vicar.

There may be a spate of men being murdered if they don't sort this out soon. 

Take a woman's oestrogen patches away at your own peril.

Today's song:

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Movie Review: Asteroid City

 Movie Number 30 of 2023

The Movie: Asteroid City

The Cinema: Village Cinemas Rivoli, Camberwell

Stars: 4

Sitting at the hairdresser's this afternoon, I was trying to explain the joys of Wes Anderson films to Maddie the apprentice. 

"Wes Anderson is bonkers. But he's great. Everything is stylised. His films have got a bit of a French feel to them. There's often a narrator who tells you what's going on. The humour is quirky. And he uses the same actors. But mostly, his films are bonkers in the best way possible."

That sums them up. 

And Asteroid City is no different. 

So, what's this about? According to the tagline reads, "The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organized to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events."

This explains most of it. There's also a play within a movie, which is a little confusing, but I quite liked that too. Made things interesting. Switched things up a bit. 

The great think about Wes Anderson's movies is his cast. 

There's Brian Cranston as the narrator. His gravelly voice is perfect for this. 

Jason Schwartzmann is Augie, a bereft father bringing his four kids to this space camp where his oldest son Woodrow (Jake Ryan) to this space camp, along with his three younger daughters (played by fraternal triplets, Willan, Anna and Gracie Faris), who for me, stole the movie. They were hilarious. 

Scarlett Johannson is Midge Campbell, a movie star on the edge, who's brought her daughter, Dinah (Grace Edwards) along. She appears a bit fragile and strikes up a friendship with Augie.

Maya Hawke is June, a scout leader with her troupe of basically well-behaved kids who falls for the cowboy Montanna (Rupert Friend - it's very strange seeing an Englishman play a cowboy). 

Tom Hanks is Augie's father-in-law, who comes out to help with the kids, and the car, which has broken down. 

And of course, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, Edward Norton, Liev Schriver, Matt Dillon, Margot Robbie... a cast of thousands are there in the background which will have you scratching your head and saying, "I know him/her from somewhere."

As with all Wes Anderson films, this is highly stylised to the point that it's almost distracting. There are running jokes throughout - the road runner is piss funny. And the world that he builds is a bit of a love song to the America of old, where people had an overarching awe about the world and it's workings. 

This isn't up to the standard of The Grand Budapest Hotel, which lives in my heart as Anderson's best, and most accessible fare, but I really enjoyed this this film. It's fun, it's glorious to look at, it shows America in a simpler time, and the humour doesn't slap you over the face. 

This isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea, but I'm sure a few people will go along and enjoy it. As one critic said, this isn't going to convert people to this director's films, but there are plenty who will go along to see something different. I really enjoyed it, but I like Wes Anderson. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Sunday Stealing: The Sunday Questions on Saturday

 I'm a bit busy getting everything ready for going to Darwin tomorrow night. This means doing a lot of housework and packing and making everything as nice as possible for my return on Friday evening. Oh what fun.

Last week, a lot of people asked what the difference between Haas avocados and Shepard avocados. Please find an explanation here. There is a big difference - call it a trap for young players

Questions, as always, have been provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

 1. Things I would do first if I won a billion dollar lottery?

Oh, other than quit my job, I'd be looking to buy a house and after setting up the builders to renovate it just as I would like, I'd be going off to the travel agent and setting an itinerary to go all over the world. I love travelling. 

2. Something I probably spend too much money on.

Not that you can spend too much money on this, but I do spend a lot of money on books. And entertainment. But I see this as money well spent. 

3. How I feel about the dentist?

I don't mind the dentist. I see him every six months, he gives me a check up and a clean, charges like a wounded bull and makes an appointment for six months time. I'm really lucky. Other than having two wisdom teeth taken out thirty years ago, I've had very little trouble with my teeth and have had next to no dental work done. Long may that remain. 

4. Foods I am most picky about

Two things. Bananas. I'm not fond of bananas. If I do eat a banana, it has to be just ripe. They are difficult to find. I have no patience with them. 

The second is chickpeas (Garbanzo beans to the Americans, Chana to the Indians). I don't mind them. I love them in hummus. I like them in curries. I do like them. But if they are whole, they have to be spiced. And I have to be in the mood for them. 

5. Internet friends / penpals I want to visit in person

Off the top of my head, I would love to have a beer with the Plastic Mancunian if I was ever up and around Manchester. (Sorry, only have five days in Old Blighty this trip and I'm staying around London).

6. My healthiest habits

I have lots of healthy habits:

  • I exercise regularly
  • I drink a lot of water and barely drink alcohol
  • My dietician is over the moon that I now eat a piece of fruit a day. 
  • I eat lots of vegetables and lean protein. 
  • I try and take care of my mental health.
Not a bad effort. 

7. Easiest, low effort foods and snacks for busy days

In no real order: 

  • Almonds
  • Celery sticks
  • Fruit - it's mandarin season at the moment
  • Muesli bars (Granola bars for the Americans)
  • Boiled eggs
Want me to go on? 

8. Where I go in summer to unwind

The cinema. Summers are hot here - it's good to use somebody else's air conditioning. 

9. My comfort books, tv shows, and movies

Comfort Movies - of there are a lot of them. 

Pride is one of them. The Wedding Singer another. Sense and Sensibility another. Depends on the mood.

Comfort television - there are a lot of them too. 

Lucifer. Mad Men. The Hour. Doctor Doctor. Sex and the City. I like to keep my guilty pleasure television nice and light. 

Comfort books. 

Somewhat strangely, I love the Bridgerton series. And I'm well overdue to read Harry Potter again, even if JK Rowling has been cancelled. Harry Potter is fantastic. 

10. A list of good things

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Good cinema, theatre and literature
  • A sunny day
  • Being by water
  • Good friends
  • Laughing
  • Gin and tonics
  • Road trips
  • Travel (even travel to Darwin for work - change of scenery)
I can go on if you want. 

11. Favorite places to take photos

I love taking photos of the streets of Melbourne. It's so picturesque. 

I took this from the tram window on the way to work on Wednesday. 

12. The routines and habits I stick to most

I shower twice a day and clean my teeth twice a day - without fail. I try and get a walk in every day. Before I go to bed around midnight, I try and do the Framed, Worldle and Wordle challenges. 

I have lots of little things like this. 

13. Topics I’d love to learn more about

There are too many to list here. 

14. This time last year ...

Things were pretty much the same. I'd just bought my current car. I was working at a big bank. According to my blog, I'd just seen Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. What a film. 

15. Favorite memories of someone I’ve lost

Not that he's dead, but he's no longer in my life. I loved the time this person tried to rub off my tattoo. It still makes me smile. 

Today's song: 

Friday, August 11, 2023

The sky is not falling again

 A friend posted this on his Facebook page this afternoon. 

It was a flyer asking men to vote No against the proposal for women's suffrage in the United States. 

This was published over 100 years ago - women getting the vote in the US with the 19th Amendment in 1920. 

But the reasons for the NO vote are as follows: 

Because 90% of women do not want it, or do not care. 

Because it means competition of women with men instead of co-operation. 

Because 80% of women eligible to vote are married and can only double or annul their husband's vote. 

Because it can be of no benefit commensurate additional to the expense involved. 

Because in some State, more voting women than voting men will place the government under petticoat rule. 

Because it is unwise to risk the good we already have instead of the evil we may incur. 

Votes of women can achieve no more than votes of men. Why waste the time, energy and money , without result?

It all sounds terribly familiar.

It was the same back when we had to plibishite, oops, plebiscite on the law of Same Sex marriage. 

Has the sky fallen in yet? No. Are a lot of people feeling better about things? Yes. If you didn't agree with it, has it had any effect on you? No. 

I look at what's written here and I just see the tactics of the No campaign. 

Life moves on. Laws move on. Hell, if they didn't, Britain would still be transporting convicts out to Australia and witches would be burned at the stake in public places. On the latter point, some would say they still are, just their stakes are found in cancel culture and social media. 

My last point is this:

It makes a good point. 

Off to the movies now. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

I now have one regret

 Walking out from the train station, under the bridge, there was plastered a poster. There is nothing new here. They always place posters here - everything from men's health campaigns to the latest movies to up and coming concerts. 

I remember this day. It was early in the Summer 2014. The sky was just thinking about darkening. It was a warm night. 

And there it was. 

Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. Playing at the Palais here in Melbourne. 

The first show sold out quickly. I'm sure it did. Every South African and their dog living in Melbourne would have got a ticket. 

A second show was added.

Did I get a ticket? No. Should have got a ticket. Wanted to see if him in Sydney wanted to come down for it. He was partly responsible for finding this angelic poet of a man and his music. 

But no, missed out on hearing this phenomenal voice.

He was supposed to be touring in around 2018, but his health was declining. 

And he died this week, aged 81. 

A humble man, a kind of Latino Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, he was wise and humble. 

And an incredible talent. Now gone. I managed to hear a snippet on the morning news. He didn't rate a mention in The Age. 

If you haven't watched the documentary Searching for Sugarman, seek it out. It's on Prime, Stan and can be found in full on YouTube. 

The world has lost somebody very special. There may be a national day of mourning in South Africa. I wouldn't be surprised. 


Today's song: 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Notes from today

 I did a day in the office, had lunch with the engineer, had a session with the shrink then came home to an online meeting. 

I'm stuffed and really don't want to be writing. 

So here are a few notes from today. 

1) Did you know you can buy a mouse at Officeworks for $139? This was the mouse that was recommended to me. Like yeah... nah. I had bought a very cheap mouse a few weeks ago after leaving my dongle on my other computer. Today, I went to use the very cheap mouse, to find it was no longer working. This meant a trip to the nearest Officeworks.

I did not buy the $139 bluetooth mouse. For that sort of money you'd hope it would make you a cup of tea in the morning. Instead, I bought a nice red one that will hopefully go fast. It does the job as long as the batteries hold out. 

2) I've been fantasizing about the Qantas Club Bloody Mary's. They do good ones - it's all about the Maggie Beer Worcestershire Sauce. I don't have long to wait. 

3) I'm starting to believe it's good to honour my quirks, whether they be neuro-spiciness or just some things just about me. I'm learning, with help from the shrink, that these oddities are okay. It's only taken 55 years...

4) My faith in human beings has been restored a little. I had a delivery today while I was at work. The courier was given instructions to leave the box behind my car in the carport. It seems my text wasn't received by the courier in time and they left the large box sitting outside the bottom of the stairwell for the world to trip over. They sent photos of this. Arriving home a couple of hours later, there was no box. I walked up the stairs thinking that I was going to have to complain. Thankfully, one of the neighbours brought the box and put it in front of my door. It's the little things.

That will do. I still have to ruminate over tonight's session with the shrink. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Whatever happened to the Uncanny X-Men?

 I don't really want to go into the office tomorrow. My cat gets a bit of separation anxiety, which will be made worse by him being taken over the Westgate Bridge on Sunday when I drop him off before heading to the airport. 

There are better things for me to be doing. This includes: 

Writing that novel. 

Searching for accommodation in Britany and Normandy - which is proving to be much cheaper than what you pay in Paris, thank goodness. 

I also have to do the Mason's books. Personally, I'd rather stick a pin in my eye, but I want this done before the weekend. 

Oh, and I have to get my taxes ready. 

But tomorrow, I'll go into work, go to lunch with my friend the engineer then go to the shrink afterwards. 

I would just rather be working from home.

In the meantime, I'll get on with some of these jobs and sing along to the Uncanny X-men. 

What happened to them? I just googled Brian Mannix - he still has a mullet...

Today's song: 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Avocado - Avocadont

I have been asked to describe the difference between Haas Avocados and Shepard Avocados. It appears in America they just have avocados and don't have to differentiate between avocado rockstar and pond scum ones that leave you feeling disappointed.

If I'm honest, there is nothing better than a Haas avocado. 

This is a Haas avocado. 

They are round, have dark green skins that go a purply colour the older the get and this is how you can tell and the flesh is soft and creamy. You crack them open just as they feel a little soft. They make the best guacamole. Haas avocados are the bomb.

This is a Shepard Avocado. 

Shepard avocados are more long than round. 

Shepard avocados appear to never get soft. If the do go soft then they are often brown inside.

Shepard avocados have firmer flesh - it's not as creamy. I also find the flesh more bitter than that of the Haas avocado. They also don't change colour when they are ready.

My mum doesn't mind using Shepard avocados in a tossed salad as it keeps its shape, rather than run in with the salad dressing. I don't like finding bits of this in the salad as crunchy avocado does not have a good mouth feel. 

When in season, not being able to find Haas avocados in the supermarket is gutting. 

Shepard avocados, in my opinion, aren't worth it. They're the red-headed stepchild of fruit. 

If you're considering buying one because you can't find the superlative Haas ones, reconsider - use something else. Feta for example.

I'm sure there are people out there who will sing the praises of Shepard avocados. For me, they are just too much bother. 

Save your money. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Shrink Homework

 I was given this homework assignment from the shrink three weeks ago, and now, I'm after a lot of rumination, I'm ready to write out the assignment. Also, as I don't have access to a printer, nor can I read my own handwriting on a bad day, it's easier to put this out there online. I can show my shrink the link. 


The assignment - what is in my toolbox to help me dial down the anxiety. 

This may seem like a strange assignment, but it's a necessary one. 

So here we go.

1) The noise cancelling earplugs. 

I'm triggered by noise. I know this. When I'm in noisy environments, be it Pump Class, or the office, or in a busy pub - whatever it may be, slip in these little life savers an have the noise dialed down by 20 dB. They work a treat and keep the anxiety at bay. I think I might have to get another pair of them so I can have them to hand. You need them on you to use them. 

2) Where possible, go for a short walk / remove yourself from the cause of anxiety.

Getting away from what's ramping you up is never a bad thing. Once you're feeling the hackles rise, move away - and move. A walk is a great way to turn things around. 

3) The hand-to-hand trick.

This is a good one for immediate dialing down. Get a ball, a wad of paper, something that fits in your hand. Pass the ball from hand to hand at the mid-point in front of your sternum. Move the ball out to your side, pass the ball to the other hand, and move it out to the other side. Do this for 30 or so seconds. Lok at your anxiety. Has it dialed down? Probably. Passing the ball from left to right and back makes your brain go from left-brain to right-brain and back again, putting you in a different place. Try it. it works. 

4) Acknowledge what is going on

First way to treat a problem is to acknowledge it's there. Have a chat with the anxiety. Ask it why it is there. Work out what has triggered it. Is it rational? Is it reasonable? Can you do anything about it? A lot of the time, this will help dial things down.

5) Self-soothe

I have my ribbon - I'm not afraid to use it. Just having it my pocket can be of assistance. Some people have worry beads. I have a piece of satin ribbon to run through my fingers. It's a neurodiversity thing. Don't have to have a big deal made of it - it keeps my anxiety at bay. 

6) Say no

You don't have to say yes to everything. If you're not feeling it - don't (And of course, sometimes you can't say no, but this is there at times when you can). 

7) State your needs

Oh, this can be a hard one, but it's so good. Articulating what it is you need from other people. For me, this is particularly relevant for touch. Case in point. When I went for those breast scans a few months ago - the time where I stated that I needed to be touched firmly, letting me know in advance where they were touching me, as opposed to being grabbed and positioned by the radiographer - totally different experience. The former - I was fine. The latter left me triggered for hours. 

Looking back over my life, it makes me look at my aversion to partner dancing, intimate touch, being ticklish, my hatred of crowds - you name it. There may be a reason I'm like this. I feel somewhat validated. 

It's not just touch. I have to learn to voice my needs. After 55 years of suppressing this, it's going to be hard. 

8) Affirmations

This is a privileged white woman manifesting thing, but I find they do work. Set the intention - watch it happen. I have a mantra for work, "It's going to be a good and productive day." Saying this a few times before work sets the intention - and it appears to work. "I'm made of teflon, no shit sticks to me" is another. "I am worthy." Set your intention and go for it. It works for getting things done. 

For anxiety. "This too shall pass," and "I am safe," are good mantras. 

There is a great power in words. 

9) Breathe.

When in doubt, breathe, and count. It was in Ted Lasso. When your angry, count to ten before you do anything. Then check in on yourself. If you're still angry, do it again. Continue until the anger has died down. It works for anxiety too. 

I'll probably think of a few more before I go see the shrink on Wednesday. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Sunday Stealing: From Facebook

 Today hasn't gone as expected. I was to drive out to somewhere near Bendigo to go to a session at the Goldfield's Gothic Festival. Instead, a large accident on the Westgate Freeway meant that there was no way I was going to get to this session - so after two hours in the car, I turned around, came back and I'm now doing my Sunday questions, eating a toasted bagel and patting the cat. These things happen. 

Questions, as always, have been provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1.  What do you have hanging on your walls?

Framed pictures collected over the years. In the lounge I have a framed watercolour of Ely Cathedral, painted by a friend's father who was an well known Manchester artist. There's also three prints of his, another pen and ink drawing and a framed poster of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I've also got a large, framed poster of Le Chat Noir. I think everybody has one of those. 

2.  Have you used an outrageous excuse to get out of jury duty?

I need to pay rent and keep food in my belly. Is that allowed? As a contractor, if I don't go to work, I don't pay rent - and jury duty does not pay that well. I might also pull the neuro-diverse card, see if that works - how can I be a peer if I don't think like the person on trial?

3. Where so you like to go shopping (not for groceries)

I love quirky little gift shops. Could spend days in those.

4. What was the last movie you saw in a movie theater?

I saw Barbie for a second time last weekend. I'm seeing Oppenheimer for a second time tonight. Both are great films, but in very different ways. 

5. If you wrote a note and put it in a bottle to throw out to sea, what would the note say?

I have absolutely no idea. Besides, the ocean is a long way away from where I live (we don't count Port Philip Bay as the sea - it's a big bathtub.)

6. What decision have you made in your life that you regret?

I don't have regrets. There are a few things, looking back, I'd do differently, given half a chance, but that is not going to happen, so why dwell on it?

7. What is in your junk drawer?

Like everybody else, the third draw down in the kitchen has: 

  • Batteries
  • Sticky tape (cellotape, scotch tape, what ever you want to call it)
  • Tea towels
  • Rubber bands
  • Bandaids (Plasters for you English)
  • Candles
  • Dried up tubes of super glue (Crazy glue)
  • Packets of chopsticks
  • Packets of zip lock bags
  • Thumb tacks
  • Blue tack
  • A roll of Alfoil (Aluminum foil)
  • A roll of Glad Wrap (Cling Film / Saran Wrap)
  • A roll of baking paper. 
I love this song about the third drawer down. Never a truer word sung:

8. Have you ever gone to a high school reunion?

Yes. I went to my 30th high school reunion. We've all got old. 

Or in the words of Marcella in Grosse Point Blanke:

9. Would you rather receive the GOOD news or the BAD news first?

Bad news first, always. Get it out of the way. The good news lets you get on with things. 

10. What are your top 3 pet peeves?

  1. People who are rude to service staff.
  2. Drivers who do not know how to use an indicator. 
  3. Shepherd Avocados. I mean, just why?

11. Are there famous people from where you live?

I live in an inner city suburb and there are quite a few 'famous' people in the vicinity. The most famous and closest, if you are from Australia, is Molly Meldrum. he lives a stone throws away. Australian icon.

12. What kitchen gadgets do you use most?

One of the following:

  • The blender
  • The microwave
  • The jar opener - an amazing little plastic thing that pops air tight jar lids so they open smoothly. 

13. Who was your elementary school best friend?

 A girl named Pippa. This was back when I went to Primary School in the city. I have no idea what happened to her. I moved to the country, so that was that. 

14. Choose an animal and tell us 4 things about that animal.

My cat, Lucifer is a black cat. I became his Mum just as COVID was bearing its teeth - best secondhand cat ever. He's five and a half years old. For a basic model black cat, he's hilarious. He's good on long car trips. He loves growling at the birds. When it's cold, he sleeps between my knees. I could go on and on about him. Love my cat. 

15. What is your favorite pizza topping?  What do you never want on a pizza?

My go to pizza is a Mexican Hot - hot salami, pepperoni, onions and chilli on red pizza sauce. I'm okay with most pizza. Love a good goat's cheese and fig. I'm fond of anchovies. I can go for a ham and pineapple pizza at times. My no-go zone would be chickpeas (garbanzo beans) on pizza - I have to be in the mood for those. 

Today's blog:

Friday, August 4, 2023

Theatre Review: Bloom

 The Production: Bloom

The Theatre: The Playhouse at the Arts Centre

The Company: The Melbourne Theatre Company

Stars: 4

Season extended until 26 August. 

They do musicals about all sorts of things now. Come From Away was a 9-11 story. Fun Home was about life in a Funeral Home. 

Bloom is about an old folk's home in an Australian city. 

And it's wonderful. 

The team from Working Dog have crafted this cracker of a show about the joys and pitfalls if living in a modern Australian old folk;s home. Penned by Tom Gleisner with music by Katie Weston, this musical is pitch perfect. It's funny. It's right on the mark and it thankfully doesn't fall into schmaltz. 

As for the story, we first meet up with Rose (Evelyn Krape) who's found herself at the Pine Grove Aged Care home for respite - despite of the fact she does not want to enter the place and have her independence taken away. 

At the same time, Finn (Slone Sudiro) answers an advertisment looking for somebody to live in the home rent free in lieu of some extra help around the home. Rose and Finn are met by Gloria (Christina O'Neil) and Ruby (Vidya Makan), the older nurse who's been there for years and the younger worker who's had her idealism shaken by the experience. They help the two new recruits to settle in among the other inmates - oops, residents. 

The residents are a bit of a motley crew. There's Dough (Frankie J Holden), who's had a stroke and is there after the death of his wife. There's Lesley (Jackie Rees) the calm artist, poised and secure. Roland (John O'May) is an aging thespian who seems set on annoying Doug. And there's Betty (Maria Mercedes) the kleptomaniac who's waiting patiently for her son to arrive while racing around on her mobility scooter. 

They are all under the thumb of Mrs MacIntyre (Anne Edmonds) the draconian manager of the home who is set on saving every penny she can. She is one of the highlights of the hour and 45 minutes of this show. 

And yes, you know what is going to happen in this show, but that is okay. The songs are wonderful. Funny, sweet, tragic, hopeful. The dialogue is on point, right down to the swear jar references. You get a very good idea about the people in the home were before old age got them. 

This comes highly recommended. 

It's a delight. 

Today's song:

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Book Launch

 We have been prepping like a set of Irish maiden aunts before a christening, the excitement palpable.

"Has anybody got those IKEA battery operated candles?"

"I live down the road, I can get them now?"

"Where is this thing again?"

"What are you going to wear?"

"Does anybody have any CDs in their car? There's only a Frank Sinatra CD here."

I was driving. I wanted to ping back, "What's a CD?" The last CD I had in my car was a Skyhooks one. Not sure Jukebox in Siberia would be better than Ol' Blue Eyes crooning. 

But back to the matter at hand. One of us had actually done it. 

My friend Krissie has birthed a book. I'm sure if you asked her, bringing the book into the world was a harder undertaking than giving birth to her two perfect sons, who were sitting by the sidelines looking on proudly as their luminescent Mum took the stage. 

But she's done it. She's written a freaking book.

I couldn't be more happy for my very clever friend. 

It was a night. So many of the crew from the writing retreats were there. Walking in a little late thanks to Melbourne traffic, I was greeted with twinkling fairy lights, a lot of noise, and hugs. Lots of hugs. 

The night was an utter success. Krissie was in her element. She said earlier in the week that she's be happy if only five people turned up. There was sixty or seventy in the place. 

There was finger food. There was wine. Both necessary elements to any book launch. There were great speeches. There were more hugs. There was a notable security person who wandered the room, cleaning up and grazing on the food, their amazing height not allowing them to blend into the background while Sinatra sang softly in the background. 

How can you have a bad night when My Funny Valentine blends in with the general chatter.

It was all wonderful, not just for the fantastic achievement, but for the quality people who gathered in this Elsternwick event space. There is something very special about being able to walk into a room, know half of the people there, where you don't have to explain yourself. Easy company. Happy company. People who want to celebrate you and celebrate you wins. 

You don't get this very often. 

I could not be prouder of my brilliant friend. I can't wait to read her book. (Which will be available on Amazon and other good book selling sites next week.)

And I can't wait to have my own book and my own book launch party, even though I'm an introvert who hates being the centre of attention. 

Tonight has helped re-light the fire to get this done. 

Today's song: