13 October 2012

The Dead Blog

Yep, that would be THIS blog. It is dying a speedy death, brought upon by my total immersion in university life.  Two weeks to go and the semester will be O.V.E.R - and it can not come soon enough.  My life these days revolves around work, sleep, uni, work, eat, sleep, run, uni, work, uni, sleep, eat, uni, run....  It seems I can only focus on one major activity at a time after all and right now, that activity is assignments.  I have three to hand in over the next two weeks so I am going for it, hammer and tongs. 

My running has taken a major hit with my lower back just about as twisted as a pretzel.  It has made running un-enjoyable (did I really write that?) and difficult to do.  I finally made it to Rosie, my physiotherapist, who could barely knead/bend/stretch me for the tightness and tenderness in situ.  She thinks I've got some kind of post-viral inflammation going on and perhaps I do. I thought I was just tired but perhaps I have picked up some latent germ along the way.  I have been "out of sorts" for a few weeks, which I just put down to old age and studying.  

This is the state of my desk (err.. the dining room table) right about now.  I am sitting among a sea of articles written by the obit editors of The New York Times and The Telegraph, which I am referencing for my Major Project Proposal Document.  In between trying to write lines of text that make some kind of sense, I am eating cherry tomatoes, having glasses of water, talking to the neighbours... Basically, anything that involves me not actually DOING my work!  I've just been across the road to Linda's house, which is now up for sale.  Her orphaned daughters have moved in permanently with friends who have three daughters of their own.  So, I went to "carpet crush".  It's a gorgeous house!  Really light and bright and the kitchen is magnificent...


.... and I was doing fine, wondering how wrong it would be to move across the road to a house with a lovely kitchen, when I saw all the photos.  One in particular, in a tasteful gilt frame of a beautiful Linda and her husband on their wedding day, two young happy people, both now dead, and the photos of their two little girls, now part of a new family.  Well, the waterworks kicked in and I had to leave.  It was just too sad.  I hadn't expected such a reaction.  If I was more clever at writing, I could explain how it felt.  So, hopefully the girls will be happy in their new home and their English grandmother is staying until the end of November, just to make sure they are settled in before she flies home to the UK.  

Here I am with my wonderful buddy, Annie.  We're off to Italy together - in 2014 so have been trying to plan what we're going to do (and how we're going to pay for it!).  Spud and I went down to Sydney for his birthday and to see our first opera, Madama Butterfly, at the Sydney Opera House!  Of course, it was absolutely FANTASTIC and now, of course, I want to be a set designer or opera singer, neither of which will ever happen because I haven't gone an artistic bone in my body and when I sing, the RSPCA is inevitably called!

Right, enough procrastinating.  Time to get back into it.  Last Saturday I spent about four hours with my three other team-mates filming a video for our group assignment.  Sunday was another five hours in the computer lab editing the video.  Tomorrow, we've booked a study room in the library for six hours to work on the project some more.  Next Wednesday we are presenting/pitching our product - based on the Apollonian and Dionysian paradigm as described by Nietzsche's (@#$%^&*) and the week after that, handing in a 2000-word assignment explaining it. If only we knew what we were talking about! 

17 September 2012

Sunday brain scramble

Right about now, I am wishing I was in this picture, reading a NOVEL (as opposed to a textbook or newspaper) and not feeling one tiny bit guilty about doing so.  However, the reality is that I am sitting here at my desk, with a Hummingbird cake baking in the oven, contemplating my uni assignments. I think I am "procrastibaking" again.  
Some of the reading material at the office - which I never have time to read!!

My friend has just been out here at King's Canyon (not her photo though) as part of her sensational-sounding walk along the Larapinta Trail.  She was going to walk one week and volunteer on the trail for the second week.  What a fantastic holiday!  I am going to add it to my lengthy list of Holiday Destinations.  

Spent some time at the uni library last Friday (after photographing this handsome statue guarding the entrance of Brisbane City Hall) learning about an incredibly useful looking reference tool called Endnote.  I've borrowed the installation CD from the library but it made my computer squeak and squeal before finally spitting it out in disgust, telling me it was unable to read it. I did have my doubts as I slid the disc in to be honest....  

Okay, the oven has just 'dinged' so my cake is done.  Well, the time is up. Whether or not the cake is actually cooked is another concept. I have had several bad experiences with the Hummingbird and don't want to replicate them this time.  A raw cake is not a good cake.  The skewer has come out clean but how can you really tell, with all that pineapple in there? I am going to give it five more minutes, just to be safe. I need it to be right as I am taking it to work tomorrow to celebrate my six months at the ABC!!  That's the newsroom (above).   
Meanwhile, spring has sprung and my Saturday morning beginner run group is now able to run with some light.  Last weekend I took the gang upriver to Guyatt Park where we re-grouped for a water stop and to complain about the hills.  An early morning run is such a great way to start the day. I can't believe how good it makes me feel EVERY time.  
One of the girls in my run group took this FANTASTIC photo which is part of the Brisbane Festival, currently happening all around the city.  What did we ever do before Instagram came into our lives?  

Meanwhile, I am finding great solace in my tin as I trawl through journal articles, contemplate the written words of academic types and lick another spoon of leatherwood honey.  I mean, WHAT exactly does this sentence mean?  "However, he rejects the metaphysics of art as solace (the philosophical core of the early text), as misguided late Romanticism under the besotting influence of Wagnerian toxins". 

When it all gets too much, I need to remember to ease up and have a bit of fun, as they obviously have at the school crossing down the road.  

08 September 2012


I think I am officially suffering from an overdose of textbooks and computer screens.  I've had a mini-meltdown today, with ugly consequences.  DON'T state the obvious!  That I am sitting right here in front of my computer RIGHT now....  Writing does seem to help me feel better, which has got to be a good thing as I am feeling a bit glum right now, for reasons unexplained but most likely linked to Lack of Sleep.  
This is my desk as I type right now.  I thought some flowers would be inspiring.  They have no scent but they are a gorgeous colour.  I bought them at the market this morning, on sale because they are a bit "old".  I also saw these two super cute little backpacks.  Why is it that kids can get away with these and we grown ups can not?  
The innocence of them just makes me smile and feel good about the world.  I particularly like the dinosaur bag, but I'm afraid it would not give me much clout as a potential future journalist.  This morning I read about the Nieman Foundation Fellowship winners and am so impressed and awed by their ability.  I wish I had their talent to write good journalism.  Right now all I am writing is stuff for running magazines that seems so.... so... meaningless and frivolous.  I know I am being hard on myself and I shouldn't compare myself to others.  I guess some people DO like reading my stuff or they wouldn't keep asking me to write it, would they?  I found this, by accident, this morning - my interview with triathlete Ashley Portas.
I am SUCH a wallower. I  am wallowing 120% today. It's pathetic.  Even a run with my buddies along the river this morning didn't pull me out of it.  I've had this before and it usually only lasts 24 hours - like a bad virus.  
Tonight I am going off to see "Women of Letters" with my uni buddy, Flick, so that should be good fun. It's part of the Brisbane Writer's Festival.  Another reason I am feeling flat is that one of my contacts for my online Obituaries project has come back to me, basically stating that online obits is "just not on".  But what is the future of them then, if there will soon be no more newspapers?  I need to write back and ask him this but I'm not ready yet. His lack of enthusiasm has really put a dent in my armour. I just feel a bit overwhelmed and out of my depth with trying to put myself into the journalism picture.  I feel completely clueless.  The librarian at uni was very pragmatic this week when I met with her and I need to remember to walk before I run, so one step at a time and it will all fall into place.  Lots of other people think it's a great idea so I need to focus on that.  Speaking of which, here are some of the brilliant young journos I work with.  We had a barbie on the big deck yesterday with sausages and salad and I sealed my fate in the newsroom with a killer chocolate caramel slice that even the editor commented on.  If I'm not going to make it in journalism with my writing skills, at least my baking talents will get me somewhere....  
PS:  the lady across the road, from two blog posts ago?  The one with breast cancer who couldn't get up the stairs?  She died this week..... So I will just shut the f**k up now and Live my Life! 

30 August 2012

The brightness in the dark

Hi readers!  Okay, I PROMISE to give you good news in today's blog post.  This is despite the tragic news of the death of five Australian troops in Afghanistan - but I'm NOT going there today.  If you check my Twitter feed you can read my rant there.  I won't do it here.  Phew! So, I will set the tone with this photo (from our garden) of my favourite flower, taken last summer.
I have been learning SO MUCH excellent stuff at uni!  Last night we learned about Eastern thinking and about those religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism etc.  It did actually Blow My Mind - sorry to be so cliched but that's the way it was.  I am really "enjoying" challenging my thinking and seeing different ways of doing things.  Part of me is resisting, but only a very small part and I like to think it's a natural instinct rather than a conscious decision. 
Here is my cousin Peter's wife and three gorgeous and smart daughters.  They live in Austin, Texas and I miss seeing them So Much!  I am very "into" my family.  I'm just in conversation with my brother who is texting me from Sydney, telling me he's been to the doctor and been started on cholesterol medication!  I am staying Jolly, despite the knowledge that he is a) overweight b) he smokes c) mum just had a heart attack and d) one man of every generation on my dad's side has died of a heart attack.  Tra, la la!  Maybe this will encourage my bro' to give up the smokes...  How great would that be?  
Speaking of heart attacks, I baked this cake over the weekend instead of doing my uni work.  I am finding that when a little stressed, I am having an urge to bake!  Where does THAT come from?  I was going to take it to class but Spud hooked into it and I thought it would look bad to take half a cake....  
Interestingly, I am also getting a mild urge to use Spray 'n Wipe around the office.  This is the sports desk (above) and I am itching to get stuck into it but there is always a journo hanging around that end of the newsroom.  This photo actually doesn't do it full justice.  I didn't capture the "below desk" action in this photo where last week I managed to retrieve an unopened copy of a Walkley magazine from late 2011 which was excellent reading! 
I took this photo last Saturday at my beginner running session.  This is Wanese, my best "pupil" who is going to run her first 10km this weekend at the Bridge to Brisbane.  I know she can do it.  When she first came to my group her goal was to run the 5km event and now, about six weeks later, she is doing the 10km and even talking about running the Noosa Half Marathon next year!!  I am So Proud of her.  She is going to smash it on Sunday.

The best part of today's tragic news day has been the Paralympic Opening Ceremony tonight. It has been sensational and to see all those athletes having so much fun and preparing to challenge themselves and ..... OMG!  The Beach Boys are on the news and - I'm sorry but they are seriously "senior"!  I can't believe I typed that.  Me, who is about to enter her 50th year.  It's just that my mind is still back in 1981, pashing my first boyfriend at Whale Beach to the sound of these guys.  They aren't supposed to get so... so ... wrinkly!! 
Life.  There it is again, in all its forms.  Don't blame me for all this philosophising!  Blame university.  Spud is sitting here convinced that your ears get bigger as you age and I have to say, after seeing these guys, that I agree!! 
My obituary research is going Really, Really Well. I have cast my net and found about five new contacts this week, all enthusiastic and willing to help me.  I spoke to Harry de Quetteville, the Editor of The Telegraph Obituaries, who was incredibly helpful and patient with me. Next time I'm in London, I am invited to drop in and visit (get me a ticket to London, stat!!).  Today I made contact with the Editor of the obits column at the Sydney Morning Herald who kindly emailed me back, despite half of her colleagues working their last day at the 'paper today, secondary to brutal journalism staff cuts.  
Speaking of obituaries, vale Neil Armstrong (on left) who died this week.  What an incredible life that man had.  His death, whilst sad for his family, has reignited the excitement of space travel and the miracle of the moon landing, enabling a younger generation to get a feel of how incredible that time was.  I like to think that Neil held off dying until Curiosity had safely landed on Mars.....  What do you think?  
Okay, time to watch some Paraylympic action.  Or perhaps I will go to bed with my fascinating obituary book?  I am not even going to tell you the time as you will be disgusted.  I DID get up at 4.30am to run you know!  

Dusty bibles lead to dirty lives 
Sign on church in America's Deep South (courtesy of ABC 7:30 Report)

PS:  just want to spend one minute, in the final moments, to ask "what is the point of Photoshop?"  It ruins so much hope for so many....  This morning, in the cold light of dawn, I fell for this Tweeted photo of a cow photobombing (I love that word) a horse stuck in a gate.

Now, of course, I hear that it is Photoshopped!  Of course, now that I am more awake, fourteen hours later, I wonder how I ever thought it was real.  Anyway, who really DID invent that horrible, evil program?  It should be banned. It's the same program that makes "normal" shaped women look like freaks of nature and destroys womens' confidences.  Bah humbug.

25 August 2012

The lottery of life

So, I am feeling a little moribund currently, and it's not just because of the stress of uni (though that is not helping). It's because the lady across the road, a widow of about 42 with two little girls, is dying of breast cancer.  I saw her arrive home from hospital yesterday as I looked through my bedroom window. I watched her friend take her bag inside the house and then I saw her white-haired father-in-law and his wife carry a wheeled office chair to the footpath so she could sit on it before trying to walk to the stairs leading to her front verandah.  That's when I went across the road, to see if I could help.  And I did help - a tiny, tiny bit.  She is so thin that her legs are like poles.  She was too weak to hold some flowers that were delivered as we sat at the base of the steps, gathering strength.  She is on oxygen constantly too because she tells me she has pleurisy.  
The Brisbane River on a beautiful morning
The fact is that life SUCKS.  I mean, her young husband has already died (a heart attack while running) and now she is going to die and leave her two young daughters orphaned, with only aged and tired grandparents to care for them.  The other grandmother is on her way over from the UK, but is awaiting some kind of visa which I hope they are expediting...  I can't stop thinking about the stairs and what we can do to make it easier for her to get up and down them as she will have to when she goes once per week to hospital for her chemotherapy.  Her in-laws are exhausted.  So the fact is that I have nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful for - and you should too.  That's all for now.  Back to my uni reading.  

18 August 2012

Spring is springing

Hurrah for Spring!  Today is the World's Most GORGEOUS Day!  It is windy, true, but I've always been fond of a breeze.  The temperature is just about perfect - not too hot, not too cold but just right (as Pooh Bear would say... or was it Tigger?)
This is the view from my front verandah as of about 10 minutes ago.  Spud is sitting here reading the Sydney Morning Herald and I am trying to ward off feelings of panic arising as I think about the uni work I am not doing in preference to writing my blog!  The best thing about uni since I last wrote is that, with the sage advice of my beloved Spud, I have come up with a topic for my Thesis next year. I am going to write about obituaries.  Yep, obits.  I love to read a well-written obituary because they are a window in another person's fascinating life!  And everyone has a fascinating life, just some are more fascinating than others, that's all.
In a wild burst of optimism I wrote to the editors of some of the world's best obituary columns, just to ask if there was ANY chance at all of spending a week in their offices, watching them working?  If I don't ask, how will I ever know?  So, I've asked...  Now I will sit back and keep my fingers crossed and see what happens.  I've also made contact with a journalism professor in Adelaide who is an expert on obituary writing.  We spoke on the 'phone yesterday and he is So Lovely and Friendly and so excited that I will be writing about obituaries!  So, how lucky am I to score a contact like that?  Now to do lots and lots and lots of research. I have this book from the library...

.... and have downloaded another on my Kindle.  Dr Starck in Adelaide has written a book which is available at my uni library and he has also written many, many journal articles on the subject AND a thesis that he is going to share with me.  Lucky me!  Then there are the obituary pages of the aforementioned newspapers to scan regularly.  Oh, and then there is my regular uni reading and assignment writing to do AND I have a job!  Almost forgot about THAT!  :o)  I love my job.  Love it.  The editor has given me a journalist-type job that I am working on, together with an executive producer and graphic artists so that's exciting and I am really enjoying the experience.
In other news, Spud finally relented and agreed to take on the challenge of the EKKA this year.  The EKKA is the agricultural show of Queensland so there are chooks, dogs, horses, sheep, cattle and bees, baby animals, wood chopping, cake decorating, crafts, painting and baking.  And rides on merry-go-rounds and whirling tea-cups (and scary rides too) and show bags and plenty of junk food.
This huge ice-cream was actually completely HEALTHY!  It was!  It had dairy and fruit...  Calcium, fibre.  The pink cone had fresh strawberries in it, with a scoop of the most delicious vanilla and strawberry ice-cream, a tiny blob of cream (dairy!) and another fresh strawberry on top.  It was certainly one of my Top Ten ice-cream experiences of all time.  I am a bit of an expert after all.
This quite scary guy was a steward and obviously something to do with the cattle display... obviously, derrr.  Okay, okay so he was trying to bring some attention to his beloved tropical fish and did say it is difficult to get that attention in the show arena when you are competing with one-tonne plus Brahman bulls and prancing ponies.

Time to get back to the books now.  As for the newspapers... well, this week I had a moment of being OVER the news but apparently that is normal for a journalist and is all dependent on what's IN the news. Right now, here, it's all about the Houston Report on asylum seekers, Julian Assange and the boring, tedious, childish, dull, irritating behaviour of our politicians.  Yawn.  Cheerio!

11 August 2012


This blog is rubbish. I just don't have time to write it anymore!  How am I going to keep my readers interested if I can't update regularly?  I mean, I should be on this every second day, shouldn't I?  Hell...  Well, here I am now, better late than never and ready to rant about all the fascinating stuff that's been going on around here.  
Firstly, university continues to amaze and bamboozle me. I am learning such incredible new things about genetics and about our brains and neuroplasticity and about how to be creative and how to be organised and, and, and ....  A lot of my classmates are international students so I am slowly getting a taste of what student life is like for people who have come to Australia for their education.  We are so lucky here and I truly believe students in this country have no idea how good they have got it.  We have so much opportunity.  One of my assignments, due in two weeks, is to produce a personal manifesto and I have a plan to publish it on a blog - but not THIS blog!  I have previously started a Wordpress blog, to use as a professional site to showcase my work, but Wordpress is actually quite complicated so I let it sit there, empty, while I started a Facebook page instead.  Now I will resurrect it and use it for my assignment.  
My running has been on the backburner too. I have lost my mojo and just can't seem to get back into it.  Having a cold has not helped and being generally a bit ... run down or something has stopped me running as much as I'd like.  I think I need winter to move along now and Spring to arrive, with its warmer mornings and blossoming flowers.  The Olympics has been QUITE good, but not that fabulous because Channel Nine have made a right hash up of presenting them.  Last night, just as Australia was about to win a Gold medal in the sailing, the station switched to Friday Night Football, with no warning!  We were two minutes off crossing the line after a neck and neck race with Team GB. I couldn't believe it and by the time I worked out what had happened and switched to another version of Ch. 9, they'd won.  It was pathetic.  There have been a lot of complaints, especially about the bloody advertising. I HATE IT!
Here I am in the production booth of the radio station, trying to learn how to be a producer. It is so different from online news.  It was all a bit mind blowing the first few times I was in there, trying to work out where all the voices where coming from (pre-recorded, promos, the traffic guy on stand-by).  And they seem to have so much fun and to fly by the seat of their pants!  Online is, in contrast, so quiet and calm and controlled.  However, with all that is going on, I don't know if I am going to have time to continue learning this because my hours of work have been increased and am not really sure where I'll be able to fit an 8-hour producing shift into the week!  Need to go do some more reading for class now.  See you!