Words of Wisdom

"What's the good of knowing if you don't tell anyone?"
P.L. Travers

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Slap Me I'm Full of Self Pity

I am sitting surrounded by piles of fabric and scraps of offcuts which I cannot be bothered to sort and pack away. It is Antarctic weather here atm and the gas heater is now misbehaving (although I must say it has the most complete and comprehensible set of instructions inside the metal cover, of any gas heater I have ever encountered! well done Vulcan. Gas heater now operating again although, what is a safety valve and why did it cut in?????)....

So, The Musical is over; my house looks like I'm about to move or I've been burgled; I am full of cold; the BA broke our microwave; my salvageable tooth now has another crack and someone stole my phone. Add to that the upcoming kitchen reno and and you will see why I just want to curl up in a ball.

It is maddening how reliant we are on technology really. So many things which make our lives roll on smoothly and add to our serenity, streak out the window like a newly released budgie when the technology goes missing. So many passwords to remember and account names........what is my apple ID, google ID, INME number on my phone (for return purposes, if it's ever handed in).....? Send me your contact numbers folks so I can build up my bank of phone numbers again! I didn't even know my own daughter's mobile number as I rely on it being in my phone. Then of course you are stuck with a new, low grade non-Apple phone which is almost like having to learn a new language. In fact, it actually gives some insight into Autism. Nothing is intuitive; nothing is where it should be; it asks me questions I do not understand.
"Why is my phone looking at me like that?"

There has been no progress on the house front and will not be until after some minor kitchen renovations and a big garden tidy up. I have let the pool go green, much to Himself's disgust when he comes past, which is not often. Interestingly, the water level went down to below the skimmer box and stopped, which means, as I initially suspected, that the leak is in the filter system rather than structural (whew). It does however mean that I have to get the poolman back and that will mean more expense. Honestly it never ends!!!!

 Right now I can feel the germs making their way down towards my chest so I shall dose up on Vit C and retire to the sofa where I can take solace in knitting. Two pairs of boot cuffs so far and I've started on a cowl.

Speak to you again when I am in a better state.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

My House Looks Like An Explosion In A Yorkshire Cotton Mill

Since we have taken the house off the market for the winter, I have been spreading out and utitlising the available space to create costumes for the School Musical.  The usual 'sweatshop' has taken on new proportions since we have less furniture and are basically camping out here. Everywhere you try to sit or stand there seems to be fabric or some kind of costume. Many essential items such as desks, sewing machine cabinets and sideboards full of sewing gear are packed up and stored in The Pit downstairs. As a result, the dining table is doubling as a cutting and pinning surface and the coffee table as sewing machine base, The Baby Angel has had to pile her Uni books in between pincushions and piles of offcuts and we haven't eaten at a sit down table for weeks. It's getting out of control....

This year's offering is The Jungle Book.
As I mentioned once before, we are using the Indian setting of the play to inform the costume design. I am borrowing heavily and unashamedly from an American production by the Goodman Theatre, whose costume designer is a genius.

Each costume is based on Indian  traditional garb, such as the churidar and sherwani, the salwar kameez and the kurta. For the bear I am venturing into Tibetan styles such as the chuba, but to be honest, the finished products are often looking anything but Indian :-)

This is my Chief Monkey. He is based on a rastafarian orangutan, which of course is geographically completely incorrect, but I loved the fabric so much I decided to overlook the anomaly.

This is Akela, the alpha wolf. I am struggling with his collar and have actually unravelled this and started again with more shaping....

Mother wolf : She also has light grey harem pants. I'm still trying to decide whether she gets a shaggy collar.

This is for the tiger, Shere Khan. He is the maharajah of the jungle.

There are also assorted monkeys and wolves and I'm working on the fat suit for the bear at the moment. There are two and a half weeks to go, so no pressure hahahahaha.

Meanwhile, I am painting sets for The Mikado. This is my cherry blossom, although I think from a distance, I'm going to need more blossom!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Letter I Would Like To Send

Lady, your lovely kid is a creature of relationship and habit. With all his challenges, he works best when he allows relationship to break down his walls and his fears. Over the past 18 months there has been a discontinuity of relationship: from my sessions to reading recovery; a new year group; two new teachers and the changes around hearing aids;  and back to sessions with me. And right now, when he is settled and there is continuity; right now when he is beginning to see gains, you want to move him.?!?!!
Why? Because we don't use the Listening Program? Because you don't see his progress????? He is making those small steps, which will turn into giant strides as he sees his own progress. He is happy in his relationships with teacher and support teacher.... And now you are about to undo all that?????
I am so angry with you. Apart from sending him to professionals, what are YOU doing to support his learning????
You didn't even come in to discuss it with us.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Picking Up The Past With JJ

So this delightful young person arrived at the airport today. She is so much a part of our past. A child from the UK. From the early school days. From the time when we were happy.

I am constantly overwhelmed by the beauty of the children we knew as they have grown into their skins.  This young lady handled the lengthy trans-equator trip with aplomb. She sat up late with us and discussed: 'single parent families', her recent break up, and mine. My how time has flown.

It's a funny thing, time, eh? It seems like only yesterday that I was inviting this young lady to birthday parties and picking her up from school for play dates. Tonight we were able to reflect upon our experiences together and, for me, gain insights  into life back then as our children saw it.

Have a wonderful time exploring our amazing country JJ.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Of Cakes and Cats

I have posted many times on my annual cake marathon. Me, who cooks as infrequently as possible and breaks into a cold sweat when 'Master Chef' or 'My Kitchen Rules' air their pressure challenges. For some reason, way back in the dawn of Baby Angel's life I decided that the one thing I would do each year was make her a birthday cake.

I have posted my cake gallery before and I think I updated it with the 18th birthday cake
but here is last year's birthday when she turned 19, 12,00miles away in the UK. Fortunately she was with her Grandma and Grandad and her lovely Auntie Middle Sis.

 The following day she came down with chickenpox!

This year I determined to get back into the cake making zone as The Baby Angel approached a decade changer. She proudly announced to me recently, "Hey Mum, I dodged teen pregnancy!" Delightful.
Yes, The possibly inappropriately named 'Baby' Angel has turned 20. She is no longer a teenager. I survived the teen years!!

In keeping with the adult nature of this birthday she chose to organise a wine tour for her friends. Since she is majoring in Tourism at university this year, I guess it was a good exercise. She booked a bus, planned the route and rang around the wineries booking the group in. Of course there was the usual palaver with people dropping out at the last moment but my present to her was covering the 4 people who let her down so she wouldn't lose her deposit. She actually did a great job getting everything planned, which shows she's come a long way.

Meanwhile, I had an idea for the cake I was going to make, but upon showing the photo I was met with less than enthusiasm. "I'm not sure those are my colours mum...."

A quick glance through my cake calendar and she landed upon this one....

  Really??? THIS one???? Oh yes, she was most insistent.
"Well, I'm not doing multi-tiered," I protested, "after all, you're not getting married!"

A cake decorating friend has since said to me that I was very adventurous to take this one on. No kidding!!!! When I visited the cake shop and showed the lady the picture she looked up at me and said "Well, how are you going to do that??"

I ended up doing a one tier version, with gerberas instead of poppies (I prefer them anyway) and quickly discovered what my cake making friend had meant. Piping black icing onto the side of a cake at 3o'clock in the morning is HARD!!!!!! I ended up making up a bag of white icing to pipe in between where I had wobbled off course. I thought it was a disaster.

Fortunately, with the addition of 'wine goggles' from their wine tour, all friends and the BA declared the cake 'professional' and decimated it relatively quickly. Which was good cos then you saw less of the mistakes!

Meanwhile, I have moved from set painting to make-up work at a local production of 'Cats'. I was meant to be a dresser (helping with quick changes and sewing up holes in leotards) but after the two make-up artists didn't get the cast ready until 8.45pm on dress rehearsal night, the Director insisted they needed another pair of hands and co-opted me. There are 28 cats to make-up and each one takes approximately 15 minutes. We work our butts off!

To start with the make up lady was a little aloof and obviously considered my 'face painting' background rather second rate. I was incredibly nervous and managed only 5 faces on the first night. I have averaged aroun 8 since then and I'm gaining confidence. These photos are a few of the faces I've done. I didn't design the makeup, I only apply it from 'photos'!!

Ugh. I can see lots of things I could have done better here. Still, I'm getting better and having a ball (apart from work which I still have to attend in the daytime)

The show finishes on Saturday night but we have a friend of Cleo's arriving in Australia on Friday so it should be a busy weekend.

I'll post again when I get back from the Heaviside Layer.......

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

House Guests, A Flood and ANZAC Day

With all the chaos of the past few weeks, the BA's random comment regarding an invitation to her boyfriend's parents had kind of passed me by.

Here in Australia, it is the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli during the First World War.  The ANZAC spirit was conceived and birthed at Gallipoli and the media is saturated by documentaries, dramas and news reports detailing the preparations for the centenary celebrations on the shore of Turkey, half a world away.

Here in Adelaide, the 7th RAR will march through the city in the commemorative ANZAC Day Parade and the BA's long time boyfriend (an Army man), will be in the thick of it. His parents drove from his home town in the countryside of New South Wales, to watch their son march and the BA thought they may as well stay with us.

The fact that I have only met these people once, for 5 minutes, two years ago, is neither here nor there.

Nevertheless, I was keen to welcome them. The BA and Army Boy have been going out together for over two years now and she has spent a number of holidays over with his family. On the first occasion, she returned in tears. Army Boy's family were the antithesis of our dysfunctional mess. The BA felt very welcomed and loved. So when Baz and Kazza (not their real names) arrived, I was determined to make them welcome.

Here they all are, with a set of grandparents. What a nice family.

They were installed in the downstairs double room, complete with its own ensuite and wardrobe.

At 5.30pm, as they showered and changed ready to meet Army Boy for dinner, Kazza came upstairs to me and  asked somewhat sheepishly,
"Do you have a plunger?"
It turned out that the shower had flooded. When I went downstairs to check things out and decided to flush the toilet for good measure, the water levels rose to the top of the bowl!! Clearly we were in need of a plumber.

The following morning saw a trail of tradesmen. I had already booked the gas repairman and the arborist but here now we had a plumber, and eventually another plumber,  with a camera! Suffice to say the news was all bad. It seems the downside of our beautiful gum trees is invasive roots in the sewers. On a happy (and unrelated) note, the gas wall heater, which has stood unused for 9 years, was repaired easily with a new solenoid costing a third of the quoted price! That was, however,  the only good news of the day. The plumbing quote for repair of the sewer: $4500.00

Nevertheless we had a lovely weekend with our house guests. We walked in the Gorge, cooked together (well, they cooked, I looked on in awe) and ate out in the beautiful Adelaide Hills in Autumn.  Due to another open inspection, I missed the Parade but the rain held off for photos. Back to the battle front of school now....

 He's somewhere in the front few rows...

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Am Dram Revisited

It's been a very long time since I was involved in the world of amateur theatre and these past few days have been like dipping into the chapters of a most beloved book from my past entitled: The Art of Coarse Acting. 
Coarse actors are described as those who 'know all their lines, just not the order in which they come'. Their  talent is for enthusiasm and ingenuity rather than any ability to perform adequately. There are also coarse backstage crew, and sadly, I am one of them.

Coarse backstage crew like to reminisce constantly about shows they have worked. They like to describe in intricate technical detail the lighting/sound set up they have utilised for any one of a number of productions. They have Channel Envy (I have 3 x 14 channel dimmers at home, you know) and Wattage Envy (We bought 8 x 1000watt globes for the last show, you know) and Delusions of Indispensability.  They have pet names for each actor based upon characteristics (we call her Terry because she dances like a bird of prey...a pterodactyl) or former failures (we call him Mr Bouncy Bouncy because he couldn't keep the follow spot still) or previous hi-jinks (I call her the BN, Bunny Napper, because she stole my two authentic Spamalot Bunnies).

Which is another thing. There are a lot of sci-fi/comedy/cult nuts in am-dram. Star Wars, Monty Python and Dr Who
T-shirts abound and conversations skew wildly from Comic Con to the latest Medieval Re-enactment get together. In jokes fly thick and fast and everyone has a favourite one-liner. ("Ooooooo, I SAY Duchess!")

And gossip! Everyone seems to know everyone else and many of the local am-dram theatre types come to see the 'opposition' at work:
"Lovely show dear! No, reeeeeally! Mwah, mwah..." etc etc
 One director is known as Voldemort because he has such a bad temper that no one likes to mention him by name anymore.
There are hierarchies. Lesser types like to list the well known directors/actors/companies they have worked for, while the superior types roll their eyes at the very mention of lesser types and are loathe to admit ever having worked with them. And don't even start me on who's sleeping with who!

Another fascination, is the fiscal difference between cast and crew. Way back in 'my' day, when we were co-opted into the ranks of chorus and eventually speaking roles, by the directors of a drama school I attended, we received a book token at the end of each performance season. As we got older, we may have received $20.00 for the run and, when I was 17,  I was elated to find a cheque for $100 in my little brown envelope!!!! Now, the actors pay for the privilege of being in the show (it's called a performance fee) but, weirdly, the crew get paid. I find this most perplexing. I suppose back then, the company I worked with was professional, whereas these companies are am-dram; but even so, this qualitative difference between the backstage crew and onstage cast amuses  me. I protested loudly that I didn't want any remuneration for my efforts but was quickly squashed as the other crew  pointed out I would be setting a dangerous precedent!

How strange that the performers doing all the hard work are not rewarded financially, whilst backstage crew are....

But now, The Student Prince has finished its run. I learned a lot about painting sets; I learned a lot I had forgotten about amateur theatre and I had a fair bit of fun. I have a whole new bunch of facebook friends and more invites to social events than I have had since I was married.

Next, I'm crewing again, this time on a production of 'Cats'. After attending rehearsals tonight, I can already see that this company is of a different ilk. Mind you, after a brief chat to some of the management I can see that the 'gossip' factor still applies :-D