Saturday, 31 December 2016

Will it rain?

"Save us," whispered the plants.
Will it rain tonight?

This month we have had 530mm rain here in the CBD. Usually, we get around 240mm. Our annual rainfall is about 1 540 mm. Not our wettest month. Not our wettest year.

My poor pot plants have been battered by the strong wind that comes with many of the December storms. I move them around so they get fresh air and sunshine without too much windburn. Now the poor helpless things are shoved at the ends of the verandah in a bid to shelter them from the wind.

Will it be fine enough for the New Years Eve celebrations? It is sunny now. Will it last?

Each New Years Eve there are two free concerts and two fireworks displays at the waterfront, just walking distance from our home.
This year the children's concert has characters from TV. Later is the adults' concert with Diesel.
One fireworks display is at 9.00 and the other at midnight.
I like the crowd, the excitement, the noise, and of course the fireworks. Yes, I'm a sook and do not stay until midnight.

But, will it rain?

I am wishing you a very enjoyable evening. Promises to be good can wait a while. Eat something high in calories!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A new quilt

A new quilt! This is my first attempt at free-form quilting. I have a lot to learn yet, but YouTube is a wonderful teacher.

Some friends have just become great-grandparents. A surprise for the family, but one little error in judgement can cause a lot of confusion in a teenage girl. Our friends were quite upset as they thought they were doing a good job helping to raise a lovely young woman. She was obviously carried away by young love and did not know what to do when the results were not everlasting happiness. Young and naive. Now a very young mother.
Her school has been marvellous and she will resume her studies by doing lots of it on-line. This is a continuation of the procedure during her pregnancy. Her mother, aunt, grandmother, and grandfather are all teachers so she can get extra help from them too.
The baby boy deserve a great future so our family made this quilt. Our family? Yes, without my husband's support cooking, shopping, and putting up with the chaos this task would not have been done. I sewed and Mr Wonderful did everything else.

(I cheated. The patchwork was already stitched, although it was a bit wobbly.)

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas

I wish you a Merry Christmas.
Last night we joined German friends for a traditional German Christmas feast. It was lots of fun.


Today has been excellent here. A cool overcast day with a maximum of only 33 degrees C. Very comfy. I feel sorry for those having temperatures over 40.
Our Christmas lunch finished at four o'clock. We had a hot meal of turkey and our daughter brought a delicious trifle.
All were happy with their gifts. I had sourced some Swiss cookbooks for Camilla and Kevin so they can get the most from their trip to Switzerland in August. Kevin was delighted to find recipes for foods he knows well but did not really know how to cook at home.

Now I will lounge about enjoying the remaining eleven days of Christmas. The chocolates and cakes should last at least that long.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Decorations

One of my students surprised me with a gift of two very pretty Christmas decorations. They are made with feathers. Next year they might go on the tree, but this year I placed them where we could enjoy them more.
This butterfly is about 12 cm across. There is a clip underneath.

The bird is about 15 cm across. It is turned so you can see both the face and the tail.
I sat it on a glass plate with a bead garland so it could balance.

The earth tremor the other day has definitely caused a little permanent movement in our building. Our bedroom door does not shut now, although it did before. I wonder what the insurance company will do about that.

We are buffeted by strong winds during cyclones and so forth. (The higher you are, the stronger the wind.) This causes little cracks to open in the concrete and let water in. Tall buildings like ours are constructed in modules like Lego and then the pieces are joined. One particularly wet year the water ran down the wall under the paint. Engineers inspected and the insurance company sighed heavily. People came with ropes and harnesses, the relevant glues, and lots of skill.

So ... maybe another tremor will come along and change things again. We will calmly wait until the Wet Season has finished.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Earth tremor

We had a significant earth tremor this morning.
The quake was 278km ENE of Dili and registered 6.7 on the scale.
The tremor lasted about two minutes at our place.
The building shook and I could hear it cracking. The furniture really swayed.
Other people reported feeling and hearing the tremor all around the city.
This picture is from the US Geological Survey site, a brilliant source of information.
The local TV station posted this second picture on social media. I have no idea where they found it.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Babe concert

The auditorium filled fast. Only two empty seats during the concert.
It's terrific the way our symphony orchestra
has developed such a following among families.
On Saturday afternoon the Darwin Symphony Orchestra enchanted us all with Babe.
The film played on the screen and the orchestra played.
I thought this would be pretty ordinary, but, it certainly wasn't.
It was fabulous, amazing, magical, and so forth.

The film runs with voices and other sounds, but no music. The orchestra plays, and plays, and plays, for more than an hour.

The Babe music uses huge chunks of Saint-Saens's Organ Symphony (Symphony No. 3). A piece called Pizzicato from Delibes's ballet Sylvia is used. Grieg's Springdans is another piece clever people might recognise. The Babe theme song is from a 1970's pop song by Fitzgerald and Keeley, which utilises a melody from Saint-Saens. The composer of the score for the film, Nigel Westlake, pulled together all these bits and added some more of his own. For this concert version, the music sounds the same to the audience but is just slightly different from the film.  A bit more emotion here and there because there are no digital effects; extra flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, harp, tuba, and percussion.

This show has been performed before in Australia. I understand that the next time will be in New York, with a different orchestra of course.

If you ever have the chance to be in the audience for this, then go. Don't hesitate.
This was the poster. Have never seen that violinist at all.
If I had words, to make a day for you,
I'd give you a morning golden and true.
I would make this day last for all time.
Then fill the night deep in moonshine.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Writing those cards and letters

Love getting Christmas cards and letters. Every Christmas I wait anxiously for the first one to arrive. I know emails are easier but I value knowing that my friends have gone to a bit more trouble, just for me.

Today I posted a few cards and letters myself. More to do tomorrow.

I have a routine.
First, comes the gigantic task of writing the Christmas letter. Aaaargh! It seems like the fiftieth epistle to the Romans or something. What to include? What to gloss over? Photos are essential. Two pages, printed back to back, with a festive border.
Next is the card writing, envelope addressing, decorating, and so forth. I do try to be quite ethical in my choice of cards. Handmade is best. Charity cards are next. Purchases from op shops are considered ethical because the profits are not lining the pockets of tycoons. Cards for overseas friends are always tricky. They should have been posted weeks ago anyway.
Of course, I ran out of stamps. Had to buy a roll of 100. I seal my letters so I am not interested in the discounted Christmas rate.

Already we have a string of cards pegged across the window. Letters came with every one.

I freely admit that when the children were little I hoarded favourite cards from relatives and friends and displayed them year after year. Handmade and special. But the children grew older and discovered my deceit. Some of those cards are stashed in a drawer now. My memories. My heart strings.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A tree at home

At last, I have assembled and decorated our Christmas tree.

Usually, I become cranky because it seems a big job and I dislike doing it on my own.
This year, we chose to use only part of out tree and the job was smooth and easy.
In the past, we had dogs who chewed decorations. That made life tricky if there were tree lights too.

I know lots of the child-made decorations have been discarded, but there are still many meaningful bits and pieces. There's only one left made by one of our children and I do not even recall which child did it.
Some of the decorations were made by my older sister.
Some are souvenirs of holidays.
The aluminium garlands like tinsel were sent to us when our son was born in 1979. Mum had used that tinsel on our trees when we were children. How glad I am that she saved it. Memories flood my mind every year when we use it. Thank you, Mum.

A few parcels have been wrapped already. More to come.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!

This lovely tree is now decorating the Mall in my city.

What kind of Christmas has no sunshine? Or palms? Or mangoes?
Christmas in the tropics is magic.
If you are good, Santa might bring you sunny days and warm nights too.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Peking Opera

This week we went to a performance of Peking opera.
In the past, we had a local group who used to do Cantonese opera. This time it was a professional company, the Jungju Theatre Company of Beijing.

Wow! The bookings were so heavy that two extra performances were scheduled. The audience loved it. I loved it. Wonderful.

The show we saw was One Good Turn Deserves Another. Subtitles were shown on the side walls of the theatre, using a powerpoint presentation. The translations were short, but the ideas were conveyed well.
The costumes were just beautiful. There was a simple display of some costumes in the foyer and I managed to capture a little of the finery. Lovely embroidered silk.

Amazing headdresses. Bling.

Terrific makeup.

Although the compere described the props as simple and bare, they were still excellent.

And the voices! Spectacular.

I'm guessing that a lot of this cultural history was lost during the Cultural Revolution, but I am so glad it is being revived.



Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Are we all maternity cases?

Recently I have visited the Darwin Private Hospital on more than a few occasions. And I had a little stay there too.

There's a huge variety of facilities within the hospital such as consulting suites for specialists, the NT Cardiac centre, the reproductive medicine unit, a paediatric unit, a palliative care unit, etc. etc. The wards have lovely names - Corella, Jabiru, and Jacana. All birds.

When I needed to have some routine surgery recently I was accommodated in Jabiru Ward. When my husband visited he told me that he saw there were quite a lot of men in that ward.

I found it absolutely humiliating that I was in a hospital ward clearly labelled as a maternity ward when I definitely was not a maternity patient.

I wondered how those male patients felt. Did they tell their workmates where they were? What sort of jokes were told later? Would you like your brother, husband, father, uncle or grandfather to be placed in a maternity ward?

I've spoken to other women who had a similar experience and they also said that they were so extremely embarrassed to be placed in a maternity ward that they could not bear for their friends to know where they were.

I was so annoyed that I spoke to the general manager of the hospital, emphasising that there are non-maternity patients in Jabiru ward and that all patients should be treated with respect. I asked her how her father or mother might feel if they were in a maternity ward. She did not care. She said that nothing would change and she wanted patients to be treated this way. How on earth do people with such attitudes get jobs?

Why can't all hospital patients be treated with dignity and respect?

Monday, 28 November 2016

Upson Downs

I have definitely been living at Upson Downs for the past few months.
Doctors, hospitals, business changes, and more - you name it, we did it. So many highs and lows.

My husband had some sun cancers removed. One on his forehead turned out to be a nodular basal cell carcinoma. Nobody dies from these but they continue to grow bigger, deeper, wider and are extremely difficult to cut out. Other methods do not work - I know from personal experience. Things are tricky on the forehead, so the surgeon had three attempts. Good surgeon. Good pathologist.
You know the drill. Doctor phones. Visit. "Good morning. I did not get it all; so here is the time for the next attempt. Any questions?" Continue until the conversation changes. Hoping the next pathology report will be excellent.

I thought you might find this photo as amusing as we did. This is not a beanie, it's a bandage. After each surgery, the bandage was bigger. My younger sister suggested a red cap might be the finishing touch. Ha!

Two days later My Hero flew to Melbourne to attend a conference about his favourite topic and also have a holiday with our son Rhys. A well-earned break for everyone. Art galleries. Museums. Bookshops. Restaurants. Markets. Talking, talking, talking.

Must go to the airport to collect my hero. Might make a special dinner too. The sky might be cloudy but the sun is shining in my heart today.

Friday, 21 October 2016

The first sitting of the new Parlaiment

I have mentioned before that a friend was standing for Parliament in the Northern Territory election. I also mentioned that she won her seat.


Parliament had its official first sitting this week.

Selina's family and community turned out to welcome her into the chamber in her new role. I thought you might find these photos interesting.

Selina's mother is from Numbulwar and Selina had gone there to teach. This community is the home of the Red Flag Dancers, an internationally acclaimed company who perform traditional works that belong to their people.

The first photo is of Selina with her parents. You can see the love and pride in the faces of Mick and Didimain. Selina's dress fabric was hand printed by Indigenous Australian artists. This was taken in the Great Hall before the ceremony started.

The second photo is of the dancers bringing Selina into the chamber. You can see that Selina is wearing a special traditional headdress. Originally this would have been woven from pandanus fibre, but these days it is made from acrylic yarn.


The third photo is of the dance company in the Great Hall after the formal ceremony was completed.

To have these dancers present was a massive undertaking and a huge mark of respect. Numbulwar is remote - you can fly there in a light plane, but ... The road, which is not sealed all the way, is cut every the Wet Season. And one year Selina took a group of her students to Cambodia to volunteer at an orphanage. The logistics were incredible. Now this good woman is working for all Territorians.


I wonder if your friends and relatives would do this for you. I know mine would not.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

For those who imagine they are old at 50

I've been busy. That's how Life is.
Saw this and had a laugh.
50 is so young!! I plan on living past 100.


A friend sent this photo to me so I have no idea where it comes from. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Election happiness

This past weekend was the Northern Territory election. We voted for people to represent us in our Legislative Assembly - we have just one House.

I have mentioned in the past that a friend was running. Well, she won her seat! A landslide victory. Selena worked very hard for seven months visiting as many people as possible, talking, listening, and showing she cares. Her family was very supportive, but Selena was always an excellent candidate. She is an experienced high school teacher, has represented Australia internationally in soccer, and has backpacked around the globe. No teenage pregnancies and waiting for handouts for Selena. Now I'm rather hoping she will be the Minister for Sport and Recreation.

As sometimes happens, another friend also won her seat. I know both women will do the very best they can. Eva is much older but very experienced in the ways of the Public Service. I worked with her a few years ago.

My friend Jenny is excited because three of her past students won seats - and she works in a very underprivileged area. Over a long career, a teacher gets to know thousands of students, but three elected to the same Parliament is pretty good. Jenny must have inspired them with a sense of justice and responsibility.

Our NT election was an easy ticket for the Labor Party. The Country Liberal Party had been bickering and behaving foolishly for quite a while. Now we do not even have enough representatives to form an Opposition. Fortunately, the NT has some excellent Independents, but I doubt they want to join with anyone else. The whole point of being an Independent is to be a one-man band.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Do you use a sat nav in your car?

I was sent this poem.
Pam Ayres
Source: http://alchetron.com/Pam-Ayres-148313-W#-
It is supposed to be by Pam Ayres.
I say "supposed to be" because the previous time I had what I thought was one of her poems, it turned out to be by somebody else. If I am wrong again, please let me know. It is not my intention to steal the intellectual property of anyone and cause offence.

This is an older person's poem. (I have no idea why the line spacing is a bit wonky.)

My husband just might think of me sometimes in the same way that the person in this poem thinks of his wife. My Beloved has a real sat nav in his car, and the voice is quite helpful. Sometimes I augment the advice.

I still hope you like this as much as I do.

Satnav

I have a little Satnav, it sits there in my car.
A Satnav is a driver's friend; it tells you where you are.
I have a little Satnav, I've had it all my life.
It's better than the normal ones, my Satnav is my wife.
It gives me full instructions, especially how to drive
"It's sixty miles an hour", it says, "You're doing sixty-five".
It tells me when to stop and start, and when to use the brake,
And tells me that it's never ever, safe to overtake.
It tells me when a light is red, and when it goes to green
It seems to know instinctively, just when to intervene.
It lists the vehicles just in front, and all those to the rear.
And taking this into account, it specifies my gear.
I'm sure no other driver, has so helpful a device.
For when we leave and lock the car, it still gives its advice.
It fills me up with counselling, each journey's pretty fraught.
So why don't I exchange it, and get a quieter sort?
Ah well, you see, it cleans the house, makes sure I'm properly fed.
It washes all my shirts and things, and keeps me warm in bed!
Despite all these advantages, and my tendency to scoff,
I only wish that now and then,

                                                I could turn the bugger off!

It is more than 40 years since Pam Ayres first appeared on British television giving us the pleasure of her poetry.
Here is a link to her webpage.    Pam Ayres

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race 2016

Yesterday morning was the start of the 2016 Darwin to Ambon yacht race.


The yachts started from the Darwin waterfront at Stokes Hill Wharf and will finish at the village of Amahusa in Ambon in Indonesia. The distance is 635 nautical miles. They do go through part of the Banda Sea where frequently there are earthquakes which we feel here in Darwin. The race takes about a week although the race record is 53 hours, set in 1998.


The day was beautiful, the sea a calm tropical blue, sunny but not hot. I thought it looked like a tropical paradise dream, but I get extremely sea sick so it would not be such a dream for me. People queue to crew for this race and it is easy to see why.



If you want to find out more, this is the link to the race website.  HERE



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Music

We are in the midst of the Darwin Festival. Look who is performing.



These photos were taken at the National Indigenous Music Awards.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Art Fair

This weekend was the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. I went and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Events were staged at two venues with a free bus running between the two. Some displays and workshops were at the Museum and everything else was at the Convention Centre.





Dancers.
Singers.
Painters.
Sculptors.
Fabric artists.
Clothing designers.

It was not OK for members of the general public to take photos inside where the artworks were displayed.
The photo of the workshop where people could learn to do a bark painting is mine. This was taken outside the convention centre. All workshops were free of charge and open to everyone.
The photos taken inside are from a variety of sources, mainly commercial photographers who have put samples on the internet.

Art, specifically indigenous art, is a major industry in the Northern Territory.
The major event of the Art Fair was the Telstra Indigenous Art Award which naturally attracts visual artists from all over Australia. Harold Thomas won this year. He is so well-known and frequently has works in galleries in Darwin. Thomas is tertiary educated and holds degrees in Fine Art and Social Anthropology. Of course, he is most famous for designing the Aboriginal flag.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Not really a holiday

I'm back home again after a holiday that wasn't a holiday. Three interesting days. A break in routine.
Sunday lunchtime I fainted. Badly. Ambulance. Hospital. Tests.
Was I heading for a stroke? Should I be taking something to thin the blood? Atrial fibrillation seems to be a real attention grabber in Accident and Emergency.
Accident and Emergency is definitely not fun. Noisy. Busy.

A whole room to myself
Eventually I was given a bed in the coronary care unit. Ooh, that was much, much better. A mobile thing with many wires meant that it was then possible to get out of bed and even ... go to the toilet in private. The thing was measuring my heart I think. Aaah, luxury. More tests. Decent bed. A visit from the cardiac specialist. Much discussion. Good meals.
The final decision was that all would be well enough for the time being.
I'm not planning to have a stroke. I did not have a heart attack. The bruises will heal. Thankful.
Medicare will cover all my hospital expenses. And my private health fund will cover the ambulance trip.
We have a wonderful hospital here and the staff are really kind. I heard them dealing with some very ill patients and the staff were so lovely with them.
I'm going to be burning the midnight oil catching up on a few important tasks left behind, but that is a small price for the help I received.
Be careful. Look after yourself. Stay healthy.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Going to need a bigger bookshelf

Probably I'm going to need a bigger bookshelf soon.
Gifts of books are definitely appreciated in our home. I certainly am lucky this time.



I heartily recommend the Ladybird book which I have already read twice. It is for adults, although it is not rude. The topic and style means it most appropriate for those mothers who had a big role in raising their toddlers. I have noticed other titles in this series in shops and they have specific target audiences too.

I enjoy the Father Brown series on television, so the original stories will be a pleasure.

Looks like all housework is on hold for a while.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Beatles in Cabaret

The Darwin Chorale is presenting a cabaret-style show at present. We have 38 performers and 7 band members.
Opening night was last night and for three nights we are blissfully sold out.
I am not performing but I helped a bit with sewing costumes. On show nights I am helping with costume changes.


Teased hair, eyeliner, pink lipstick.
Cute colourful shifts for some of the ladies.
Some of the men wear these bright suits for a couple of songs.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Swans on a sea of green

As we walked around Lake Burley Griffin we saw many water birds. Odile and Odette would have felt at home with the black swans. (Yes, this old tragic could not help but a few steps from Swan Lake.) Some were swimming but most that we saw were on the grass.
These swans were not fazed in the slightest by people nearby. They all had white patches under their wings but I could not manage to snap a photo showing that. Maybe you can see just a peek of white feathers.
I know I have seen black swans in the wild before, but can not remember where.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Visiting Canberra

We are in Canberra for about ten days. It is cold. Most mornings are about -5C. The days are pleasant if there is no wind. So far there has been only one wet morning. No snow, but frost.

Last night we went to a concert. The Canberra Symphony Orchestra played. Rather magnificently actually. Three singers from the Australian Opera sang. Yes, it was fabulous. And it was really good sitting in the second front row. I felt they were singing and playing just for me alone.

One lovely aspect was that before the show started people could have their photo taken playing the timpani. This was a first for both me and my husband. I thought the idea would make a great fundraiser back home - gold coin donation and so forth.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Participating in the Kindness Challenge

Part of Litchfield National Park.
This lovely path was a project
to teach new skills
to a group of unemployed people.
Kindness in the community.
So I have been trying to think kind thoughts while I am involved in the kindness challenge. Successful? A bit.

I was kind to my husband. He had a bad cold and took some tablets for that. Hmm. The result was violent dreaming, jumping around in his sleep, yelling, and so forth. It takes more than that to scare me, or actually even to worry me. But I did not poke him in the arm and tell him to roll over - that is my usual strategy for nightmares. Kindness. I did not blame him the next morning for an interrupted night. I was kind and just asked if he recalled his dreams. Yes, he did. No, they were not particularly nice. This happened only a few nights until we worked out that the tablets were the cause. The kind approach certainly helped us both.

I have remembered that advice about being compassionate to myself as well as to others. It's working too. I think I am a little more positive in general.

I had a meeting at my university about getting credit for some previous study. Yes, I remained almost calm. Well, if not calm at least polite. One of the people at the meeting seems to take pleasure in being a bully. Well, it failed this time. So she can just take her attitude and change it. The outcome for me was positive. I am now exempted from two units of study thanks to some other studies I did a while ago. Can you hear me cheering? I am overflowing with kind thoughts of the lecturers who guided me through that course a few years back. Thank you, especially Eva. And thank you, Nici. Anticipating this meeting was very confronting. I should have applied for the credits two years ago, but the bully won back then. This time I was able to plan carefully, gather some help, and then proceed. A huge project for me; an excellent outcome though.

I have not yet mastered the bit about getting back to the special Kindness Challenge website and leaving comments.
A native ginger that grows near here.