Words of Wisdom


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

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







Saturday, 18 April 2015

Shadows Are Harder Than They Look!

So I'd been working on the sets for a week or so when I suddenly realised I had no idea what I was doing!


We got the framework of the palace ballroom into place and then I was left with the job of creating 3D looking columns.....



I asked the art teacher at school where I was going wrong and she cautiously said, "Well, you have to decide where your light source is coming from. At the moment you have shadows on both sides of the column..."

Of course!

Back to the drawing board.


Me: They're still not right....
Her: Yes, well, you now seem to have light coming from the floor, resulting in those shadows above the middle ring...."
Me: Curses....
I tried a number of methods....




But all in all it was looking pretty rough. The next one is where I stopped even trying to do anything with the columns and the bottom one is the 'finished' palace set....



Because in the end you can go on and on and on trying to get things looking right...and the audience won't even notice.

Last weekend I had a professional join me to complete the garden scene and the interior of the inn. This guy is AWESOME!!!! I learned so much just from watching him and following his instructions Here he is fixing my sad attempt at a window seat cushion...




And LOOK at what he did to the foliage in the garden scene!!!!


He let me finish the wall and the bushes underneath........I am not worthy.



Here's where I got up to with the inn interior....


 And here it is as finished as it will ever be. I would have loved to do a bit more decoration, photos on the wall, horse brass thingies, maybe some curtains...
Also, the wooden beams on the right need to be thicker but again,  you've got to know when to stop...


On a completely different note, the school musical has been announced. We're doing 'The Jungle Book'! Happily, my director does not want to do cutsie animal onesies but wants to go with suggestions of animals, in human clothing. Here are some ideas off the web. They have built upon the Indian setting and focused on fabric to create the characters.

This is Shere Khan and Kaa, the snake.



This is Mowgli and Bagheera.


I absolutely adore the idea of 'human' animals and I'm looking forward to getting creative with fabrics and Indian traditional costume.

Meanwhile, I've been co-opted to manhandle my sets for The Student Prince (ie be a part of the backstage crew). It seems there are not enough divas in the Light Opera Society already!!

Monday, 6 April 2015

An Old Post I Discovered, Entitled: Rollercoaster

I recently discovered a folder on my blogger Posts page, entitled 'Drafts'. As I was looking for something, I opened it, obviously for the first time ever, because it contained 25 drafts! Most were one or two lines, penned late at night and somehow never completed, but I did find one or two meaty entries which took me back to a time, not so long ago, but when things were very different. Here's one from 2012.

Rollercoaster

I find myself in a wild and interesting time of life. My Baby Angel, that long streak of misery that towers over me (with delight), is in her final year at school and, just like the old days, I'm on the ride with her.

Year 11, the lead up to this 'final showdown', was a crap year all around and for that I have to take a fair bit of the blame. She had seemed to be doing so well. She had seemed to be so well balanced and so capable; I totally overestimated her capacity to cope with multiple focus pullers.

Firstly there was the trauma of Alma Mater. I know there are friends and family out there who felt strongly that we had done the wrong thing by supporting the school and returning in the face of 'the inevitable' but many lovely and wonderful things took place in that first, and last, semester; were they worth it?

Then there was work. McDonalds certainly gave her a thorough grounding in the drudgery of the workplace. She obviously did a good job as the shifts came thick and fast. Saturday night, all of Sunday and the occasional weeknight shift if someone couldn't make it; the money was good.

In the meantime she had been preparing for the discipleship mission trip to Vanuatu. There were weekends away, regular meetings with mentors and reflections to be submitted to our pastor.

But wait! There's more! On top of all that (and netball) she was taking part in the Scotch College production of 'the Wizard of Oz'. Being a theatre lover myself and knowing what joyful distraction a production can provide, I had encouraged her to audition. Was it the right thing to do? I don't know. She certainly enjoyed the experience.....

All up we had to admit there was too much going on. After her first failure to hand something up, we canned the job. The musical had a limited life and Vanuatu came and went. And then we learned that there was no future for the school as we knew it.

Excellent.

Through a series of amazingly blessed connections and circumstances we got the BA enrolled at another welcoming and accommodating school. Of course she spent the next 4 weeks getting to know people and meeting her future boyfriend. Huh. I don't remember that being in the sign up package!!!!

************************************
And that's where I abandoned the post. In retrospect, I think it was a time where blogging was being replaced by facebook and where life itself became so stressful that I was finding it difficult to write. That was the year I had the Big Falling Out with the Small Boy and my marriage began to slowly but surely rip apart at the seams.

Interestingly, I feel like we are right at the end of that same Rollercoaster ride, even now. The BA  took some time to sort herself out after finishing school and doing that world travelling thing. Now, after a disastrous first attempt at Uni, she seems interested and motivated this year. Although I am far from finished with the process of separating from Himself, he is at least physically removed from the scene which makes things a lot less stressful on a day to day basis. There are still a few corkscrew finales to work through. Will this house ever sell? If not, what then? Where will I end up living and what other changes will I invite into my life as I rediscover some of my lost passions?

Join me on this ride if you will folks! I could do with the company....



Saturday, 21 March 2015

This Must Be A Whole New Meaning of the Word 'Paint'...

.....of which I was previously unaware.

As part of my new, husband free life, I had promised myself that I would get back into theatre. I spent a great part of my teen years and early adult hood working in professional or semi professional theatre and I miss it badly (that's me as Rabbit in 'Winnie The Pooh', aged 17).
I know my professional (and probably onstage) days are over, but I am happy to be involved in any way so when an ex-pupil let me know that there was a local group who wanted help painting sets, I jumped at the chance.

I contacted the gentleman to offer my services and was slightly confused when he messaged to ask me if I had any 'sketches'. Now not only was this not what I was expecting,  at that point I didn't even know what the production was! Turns out it is 'The Student Prince' and through some miracle of misunderstanding, I was being asked to design and execute scenery for the whole thing!

I quickly got onto Youtube and had a look at a few clips from the movie. Then I discovered the 1929 silent, black and white version of the operetta! I sketched a few things and sent them off to Mr Director. These are ideas for the ballroom.


Apparently, the theatre they're using only has room for 'flats' at the back, no side flats on a slant, so I was looking for ways to draw the eye back into an apparently bigger space.



I really like the last one which was stolen unashamedly from 'Beauty and The Beast' so I was confused when the director fellow replied that he thought it might be too high for the space they had. I had to wait until Saturday when I saw the flats they had to work with. There were sets of 5 of them and they measured 8 ft x 20ft! The whole ratio of the drawings was wrong.


24 hours later and I had redrawn them to reflect this long narrow shape. Below is the interior of the Inn and beneath that...the Grand ball room.


Down I went with an ancient  OHP, expecting to be working in the theatre space, only to find we were in a tin shed, with skylights, in broad daylight. One set of flats had been readied, flat on the ground, in the carpark in the blazing sunlight, and half a dozen willing volunteers were looking at me with expectant eyes.

Now, as I am currently meant to be cleaning the house ready for the open inspections this afternoon, and being picked up in 90 minutes for a winery tour, I will just hint at the chaos that has followed.
  • not enough space in the shed to stand all 5 flats side by side for drawing purposes
  • obviously very little chance to use the OHP to project the designs onto the flats, due to the light
  • asking a group of volunteers to paint over a previous backdrop on one set of flats...and finding they had painted over it in sky blue.
  • the perspective confusion caused by more than one person tracing extremely faint lines from an OHP onto the flats (took two hours to work out why it didn't look right)
  • the perspective confusion caused by an off centre OHP, resulting in the whole design being sideshortened
  • the blown bulb last night which resulted in a mercy dash back to school to borrow the one remaining OHP I knew of (you should SEE the lamp bulb! It must be 50 years old!!!!)
  • being unavailable to supervise the kids who painted the block background colours onto one set of flats on the Sunday, see below.... (that is meant to be a warm, cream background...)


 This is as far as we've progressed on the inn interior, and this




is the beginning of the beer garden. Apparently only the section up to the black line is visible to the audience. I know. Don't ask me.....