Friday, February 25, 2011

TSO SYMPHONY UNDER THE STARS



Sue Ellen’s G string broke just before the interval, wine was flowing freely, the crowd of several thousand was in good spirits, dancing was definitely encouraged, all this and more for Launceston’s annual TSO Symphony Under the Stars in City Park. A whole year has passed since my last foray into this concert complete with full orchestra, and to the uninitiated who think classical music is purely highbrow stuff limited to the toffs, attendance at this event would soon change your mind.

Compere Christopher Lawrence from ABC Radio kept the banter going with Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Naomi was advised the police were on their way if she didn’t move her car which was blocking Cameron St, the crowd were admonished for their lack of dress compared to the regulation black tie and tails of the gentlemen in the orchestra, we were updated on how many kilos Sebastian had lost as he sweated the evening away amid claims he dried himself off with a hair dryer during the interval.

Sebastian dedicated the night to the late great Dame Joan Sutherland, and Soprano soloist Lorina Gore delighted us with arias from several operas the Dame had sung. No stuffy singing here either, she obviously loves what she does and her bright personality shone through as she danced across the stage and managed Sebastian’s playful teasing while his trusty baton kept the music going.

And Sebastian Lang-Lessing was an entertainment within himself, jumping around and contorting himself as he brought out the best in the orchestra under his direction. From the soothing romantic strains of Rachmaninov, well known as well as lesser known symphonies from a variety of composers, to lively Mexican symphonies, through to the traditional can-can finale, the crowd clapped and hollered and whistled and kicked up their heels.

Not what you’d usually expect at a classical music concert, but one which is now definitely on my annual list of events not to be missed.

Oh, by the way, Sue Ellen was a cellist.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NOW WHAT HAVE I CAUGHT!

Showered, dried off, turned to the bathroom mirror to make my hair presentable when the sight of dark brown spots staring back at me which definitely weren’t there yesterday sent me scurrying for my glasses. Being longsighted, fine detail up close goes by the wayside unless I’m fully specced up, so it was a huge relief to find all I was suffering from was an attack of chocolate brown towel fluff.

Why don’t new towels work? How many times do you have to wash them before they absorb rather than just move the water on your skin from one place to another? Had to get out the daggy old faithful to get rid of it all.

Friday, February 18, 2011

MURDER & MAYHEM IN THE OFFICE

Being the wonderful compassionate person I am, I take pity on little sun lizards who manage to find themselves trapped in the office after venturing through the open door to explore, only to find they can’t manage to discover where the door is again so they can head home.

Have you ever tried to catch one of those slippery little suckers? Don’t they know we’re trying to help them? Obviously not, for no matter how close you get, they’ll always manage to dart off just when you’re poised for that crucial grab. There’s definitely an art to catching them, and I’ve even succeeded a couple of times recently, though the last one didn’t seem impressed and kept biting me. He made it out the door, a little unceremoniously and not with the same gentle handling and kind words as his mates usually receive.

Today I saw another side to our cute friendly lizards. The Dark Side. Apart from the fact I didn’t have a camera, it would’ve been a perfect David Attenborough moment, and I didn’t even have to camp out under a rock for three weeks to capture the moment. There, right under my feet, was yet another sleek little fella out for an adventure, so with the best intentions I felt it my duty to ‘catch and release’ so he wouldn’t spend the rest of his days wandering the office before dying of starvation.

What I hadn’t taken into consideration though, was the moth flapping about just above floor level about a metre in front of him. I always knew those little lizards were fast, but he made that distance in a flash and clamped on to the moth like he was never going to see another meal. With the moth flapping for all it was worth and the lizard wriggling and wrestling with his prize, he managed to manoeuvre himself behind the desk into the corner where no doubt he wanted to hide from public view and do unspeakable things to his poor unsuspecting catch.

Maybe I won’t be so compassionate in the future. I’ll trust that in the scheme of things they’re intelligent enough to survive without too much help from me, and after all, how else do they live other than by murdering some innocent soul just going about their own business.

Some say it’s a dog eat dog world, and the only way to win in the rat race is simply to be a bigger rat than the rest, or the only way to climb that corporate ladder is to clamber over those above you and stamp on their fingers as you go past.

Survival of the fittest is one thing, and a bit of healthy competition can often challenge us to be more determined to reach our potential and achieve our goals, but when it comes down to us mere mortals who have to live and work alongside each other day in day out, I prefer to believe in a lot more inclusive approach.

Whether you’re a brain surgeon or garbage collector, a corporate bigwig or checkout chick, a teacher or student, a musician, mechanic, accountant, chef, short order cook, stay at home Mum, engineer and the list could go on for pages, whatever it is, we all need each other. No matter what we do or would like to do, in the end they’re all just jobs, and all are necessary to make up the complex fabric of society and keep it humming along.

Our jobs, or lack of a job for the unemployed, are only part of who we are. What we do shouldn’t determine who we are, either for ourselves or in the eyes of others. Rather, who we are should be integrated into what we do.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

MY THERMOSTAT'S BROKEN

Was it just me, or was last night particularly hot. In terms of air temperature that is, don’t exactly have any other sort of hot nights these days. Tossing and turning and throwing off the doona at 1.30, 4.30 and 6.30, giving up and getting up at that point seemed the best option, so have caught up with my emails, the latest on my friends blogs, checking the bank balance, and am now watching the fog roll in almost like a winter’s morning.

Except it’s not. We’ve finally managed to string a few days together of fairly decent summer weather, not bad for Tassie, so the fog will probably just up the humidity for the day. Not that it makes much difference what the weather does, my body has a way of turning on its own heater whenever it feels like it, and very often at the most inopportune moments, like talking to the guys in the office about some convoluted financial process which must leave them wondering why I’m blushing.

But I’m not! Has anyone really got to the bottom of what hot flushes are all about? With all manner of potions and medications to offset the effects of these sometimes random, often very frequent events, I decided to do it cold turkey when they first invaded my body, took over my internal thermostat control and became part of my regular routine.

And when was that? Nearly seven and a half years ago! Will this ever end I ask my friendly doctor. He just smiles benignly and says yes… great comfort, thanks doc. Just when you think you haven’t had one for a while and maybe this is finally the end, that telltale faint warm glow begins on your face, then within five seconds cranks itself up about three thousand notches to super duper intolerably extreme. Not to be content with merely the face it then works its way south and out to the extremities, whereupon as many layers as is decently possible in the confines of the office are suitably ripped off until the tropical tsunami passes.

I mean, if I wanted to be that hot I’d go trekking in the Sahara or through the Amazon jungle, but over the years I’ve discovered there are a few side benefits. I haven’t needed flannelette sheets or pillow cases for a very long time, I’m usually turning over the pillow at 3am looking for a cool patch……did I say a few? That’s probably the only one I can think of offhand.

So, next time you’re having a Big M moment, or your internal combustion heater has turned itself on at no request from you, and the thermostat appears to be totally on the blink, be encouraged, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Not sure I’ve even spotted the speck in the distance yet, but……my turn will come.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HIKING ROUND THE GALAXY

Haven’t been feeling at all creative in the brain lately, very little writing happening so reading lots instead. Have just polished off Douglas Adams’ The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, all four of them as I realised I’d only ever read the first one, interspersed with Hilary Mantel’s Fludd and Sally Vickers’ Miss Garnet’s Angel.

I do like a good turn of phrase, and habitually record the ones which really take my fancy, even coming across some little gems in the midst of all the Hitch Hiker craziness.

I only know as much about myself as my mind can work out under its current conditions.

All through my life I’ve had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was. That’s just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.

Science has achieved some wonderful things of course, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day.

- The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Life is wasted on the living.

...those people who most want to rule…are those least suited to do it.

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

There is a moment in every dawn when light floats, there is the possibility of magic. Creation holds its breath.

My capacity for happiness…could fit into a matchbox without taking out the matches first.

There is an art…a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

- Life, the Universe, and Everything

….the brain which interpreted the images… was not the same brain. There had been no surgery involved, just the continual wrenching of experience.

…it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

…the sandpipers…ran with an odd kind of movement as if they’d been constructed by somebody very clever in Switzerland.

- So long, and thanks for all the fish

I love immersing myself in the world which an author creates, whether it be a real location with a story unfolding alongside actual events, or fictional locations and events derived purely from the author’s imagination.

To follow Arthur’s intrepid and ludicrous adventures all over the galaxy from the comfort of the couch makes me realise how small a part of the Universe I revolve in. As we get older there’s a tendency to fashion our own world into a manageable size, somewhere where not too many surprises are going to come up and bite us on the backside. Unfortunately, when we least expect it, just when we thought it was safe and the future looked promising, something will inevitably come at us right out of left field to turn that little world upside down.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we need a bit of a shake up to get us out of our mediocrity and pry our fingers loose from the controls. A predictable life might be safe, but it also sounds small. We have big dreams when we’re young, we think we’re invincible and we’re ready to take on the world, but that zest for life and eager spontaneity gradually gets whittled away over time. Oh to preserve that sense of wonder at what is happening all around us and believe that life can be so much bigger than the restrictions we put on it. I reckon Douglas Adams has it right…..

…If life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.

- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RIGHT IN THE LINE OF FIRE

Man, how I wish I’d had my camera the other day to show you a real Kodak moment. There I was, minding my own business heading into Launceston, turned on to the main road and what should I spy some distance ahead but a crop duster, plane that is. He’s out quite regularly spraying the poppies and other crops in the area, the guy in the plane that is.

He was a little way to my left, banked around and came straight at me. I had this strange moment as if I’d been transplanted into a war movie, and any moment the da-da-da-da-da of his guns would strafe the road and fill the car with holes, and probably me along with it.

Not to be outdone he must’ve figured I needed a little more impressing. Disappearing over a hill I lost him for a while, but driving over the crest of a hill, there he was, bang in front of me, accelerating out of a dive and flying over the road, clearing the power lines with what looked like inches to spare. Got me quite excited. Naturally I would’ve run off the road if I’d made any attempt to catch the moment on film, but it sure would’ve been a good photo.

To the guy in the plane it’s all in a day’s work and probably not exciting at all, but for us mere mortals it’s funny how some occupations capture our imagination. Watching him dip so low as he sprayed the crops then swoop up again and turn for another run, dicing with danger as he skillfully manoeuvred his little plane to avoid trees and power lines, reminded me just how different we all are. What’s simple for one may be terrifying for another, what’s challenging for one may be tedious for another, and exciting for one, boring for another.

Unfortunately, too many of us spend our working lives in jobs simply as a means of keeping the wolf from the door and a roof over our head, so to find an occupation or career that’s not just a job is a real achievement. To find fulfilment in what you do beyond the pay cheque is a reward in itself, but to be in a position where you feel called to do what you’re doing, the payoff goes far beyond the job itself.

If you believe what you’re doing is making a difference in someone else’s life, or is heading you in the right direction to reach your full potential in whatever sphere of work, there are many who will even forego the lucrative pay cheque to see their dreams come to fruition. No great artist or musician or composer became who they are by playing it safe. Fred Hollows and Mother Teresa and Gandhi and William Wilberforce wouldn’t be household names if they’d simply stayed within their vocations and not stretched themselves to broaden the scope their skills could bring to those in need.

For me, whatever I do, big or small, I try to at least do it to the best of my ability. That’s probably one reason why I procrastinate and take so long to get around to starting certain projects, but I don’t like to do things half baked. Don’t like starting something if I can’t finish it. Ah well, time to get the paint out of the tins in the laundry and on to the walls, time to drag those stories out of the filing cabinet and give them another going over or get rid of them, time to empty the In tray at work and apply myself so all those pieces of paper in the too hard basket end up in the Out tray.