Wednesday 29 January 2014

Conversations over Coffee - My Best Friend

I've known her all my life - we  were at preschool together, then primary school. We went to different high schools and I was away for Uni, but then we were both in Sydney and working.

I moved over the bridge when I got married and she moved to the northern beaches. Finally, they moved to Brisbane.

All the while, still friends.

I am not good at keeping in touch. I don't ring people - I text occasionally and I rarely write or email. Facebook has helped a little, as you can joke around, and a brief sentence here and there will bring a smile of comfort and recognition.

When we meet up though, it is always easy. I went to Brisbane overnight last year, and she came to Sydney. There is catching up to do, but really it is just the usual shooting the sh*t as if I saw her daily. Nothing monumental, just gripes, jokes and random thoughts about nothing.

We went away together for a week the year before last, and it was very easy - well, easy for me, because I'm the difficult one. She is a relaxed traveller, and happy to go with the flow. She is also happy to do her own thing, and we are both okay with that. We did lots together, but if she wanted to go to the gym instead of lunch, she did. If I wanted to ditch the shopping and head to the pool, I could.

In fact, she is probably the most relaxed person I know. She also reads people with an amazing perception. One time, when we'd met up in Port Stephens and I was driving her back to the airport, we'd gotten lost and I thought she would miss her flight. I was running it all in my head and she suddenly said "Are you being quiet because you're stressing out?" and laughed. "It will be fine" she reassured me, and it was.

A long time friend is not always a best friend, but a friend who picks up where you left off, without judgement or difficulty, is one you treasure. A friend you can travel with is even more special than that. A friend who overlooks your many faults and still seems to have fun with you is gold. That's the kind of friend that makes you wish you were a better friend to them.

I guess that's the best kind of friend of all. One who makes you wish you were a better person. Not with demands or expectations, but by example. This post is dedicated to my best friend, who makes me want to try to be a better friend to her in return, and a better person in general.

Linking up with some Grace for FYBF. (The post was originally written for Always Josefa for Conversations over Coffee)

Monday 27 January 2014

The Pitch

A week or so ago, there was a story in the papers that the snakes were out in force and heading to the new water park in Western Sydney. (Story here). I have a movie idea, a sequel in fact, that's bound to be a hit. However, as I can't be bothered writing it, I thought I'd give my pitch and someone can run with it - I am aware story ideas can't be copyrighted, so when you make your millions, do the right thing and send me some champagne or pay my hefty parking bill, which I'm still grieving over.

So, in short: The snakes get into the water park and all hell breaks loose - Samuel L Jackson just happens to be chasing some escapee in fun park, because it's a sequel, you see. So the snakes are killing everyone, including in gratuitous sex scenes and then the moment everyone is waiting for, Mr Jackson yells "I want these mother-f***ing snakes off this mother f***ing slide!".

Working title is Snakes on a Slide or Red Bellied Black Park (after the famous Australian Red Bellied Black Snakes, to avoid confusion for those out of Oz). I'm sure someone could do better than that but I'm also sure they don't need to. The tricky part in this getting Mr Jackson to agree, as it really doesn't work without him.
Brilliance, right? Pure Hollywood Gold! (I don't know why gold has a capital, it just needed one).

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

For the record, I've seen that movie twice so I'm not making fun of it. I'm serious. Deadly Snakes on the loose serious...

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Embodiment of Dreams

This week in the Lounge (or on the Lounge?) we are talking books. I want to talk about a sadly now defunct but genius idea that I stumbled across about a decade ago. The book was written in 1997. The imprint is Starfish Publications, and it specialised in "quality books written by children aged five to fifteen". I love this idea so much; that books for children can be written by children. What a way to open the door to a love of reading and writing. I have struggled to find more information on this publisher, so I can only guess it is unfortunately no more. Please correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.

The book is called Escape. It is a picture book written by the then thirteen year old, Matthew Roden. The book is hilarious. It's witty and clever and was a favourite with my boys, even though the humour is quite sophisticated, appealing to adults.

The story tells of the adventures of a school boy trapped on a desert island with nothing but his Handi-Dandi Survival Kit and Book.  The book is great, and if you can somehow lay your hands on it, do! However, even eBay came up empty, so it may be a tricky task.

What I love most of all however, is that it was written by a child. A business set about making dreams come true, something rare these days. The book embodies the fulfilment of a child's ambition. To borrow from Epic, it is a reminder that 'no dream is too big, and no dreamer too small' or as the more mature thirteen year old said at the time:

Maybe next time a child says they want to do something or be something, we will listen a little more and open our minds to the possibility of what could happen, if we really set out to make it so.

Linking up with #Whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge
In my totally disorganised fashion, I managed to track down the author of this much beloved book of ours, in order to see if he was still writing. He is (some articles here if you're interested),  and volunteers at the Sydney Story Factory, a not-for-profit creative writing centre for young people. Check out their website for workshops and events, or sign up to their newsletter to see their on going offerings.

And while on books, these are the last few days of the wonderful Lawn Library, for those in Sydney that have yet to check out the truly delightful offering in the Festival Village.

What I learnt from 47 Ronin

Short answer, not very much.

But as that's not much of a blog post, here goes:

1. You can get away with bad dialogue in a foreign language and subtitles. If your dialogue is making the audience unintentionally laugh, and half the cast is Japanese, chuck in some subtitles and we'll all be accepting of the 'translation'.

2. Hiroyuki Sanada is fast become one of my favourite actors - and I haven't even seen The Railway Man yet.

3. I apparently have a memory problem. Why do I recognise Tadanobu Asano from Mongol, which was made in 2007 but not in either of the Thor movies, one of which I saw 2 months ago? I have no recollection of his character at all, even with the name. (Can anyone help on that? Who he was, not why my memory is so bad)

(source: Wikipedia Commons (Mingle MediaTV) Asano at the premiere of Thor.)

4. Shape shifters are the crowd pleasers of the witch world.

5. When making movies to appeal to Western audiences, there is a good chance you'll ruin all the good things in the film. The movie is meant to be about the Keanu character when it is clearly about Sanada's character.

For those that don't know about Edo and Bushido, the film over explains things (for the Western audience). It looks pretty and is entertaining enough. If you look at Rotten Tomatoes, you have a 60% chance of liking it. As I said on exiting the cinema "Well, that was better than I was expecting". Take that to mean whatever you like.

Linking up with some Grace for FYBF - enjoy the long weekend everyone! Put down your phones and have fun!

Sunday 19 January 2014

First of the Month Fiction - Australia Day edition

This month as flown, and pretty soon I'll be full time blogging again. No excuses.

Rules are here. Write a story in exactly 100 words, or less than 30. Put it in comments, add link to your own blog so we can see your work in unrestricted glory.

The divorce had left him scarred. He looked at his loyal friends. "Happy Australia Day!" he toasted, raising his beer to the sunshine. Things were finally looking up.

Just a less than 30 words one for me this time.

Here's to a wonderful year of the Horse, everybody!

Linking up with Jess for IBOT and with Ms Mystery Case and A Cooker and A Looker.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Taking a love of libraries to the great outdoors...

Books are a voyage into other worlds. It's safe to assume most of you love reading, because you wouldn't love writing if you didn't. I'd say it's safe to assume that most of us want to teach our children to love reading too. That is not always as easy as it sounds.

One step in the right direction is the City of Sydney's initiative with the Sydney Festival's Lawn Library in the Festival Village.

We'd been jumping on Sacrilege (the free Stone Henge Jumping Castle) and were in need of a drink. We popped in to the Festival Village for a free water from the Zip tent.
Then I spied it.

The Lawn Library offers free books to take home and enjoy, or book swap, or read on the plentiful deck chairs. There are blocks and chess for those that want to really stay and play awhile.

There are even CD's, as libraries now offer.

We were not there for any events, but there are a list of story times and workshops here - even adults only comedy entertainment!

So head over for dinner in the festival village, or just plan a day crammed with activities that doesn't cost a cent. I guarantee a younger library fan will be born.

This is not sponsored, I just thought it was such a great idea, and with only one week to go, I wanted to share with other Sydneysiders.

Well done, City of Sydney. You've taken the world of books to the people!

This is an old post but linking with #MakroTex because it does have a picture of a book but it's about books and so much more! It was such a lovely idea. I wish they'd do it again!
Pieni Lintu - MakroTex challenge

Saturday 11 January 2014

Listmaina - Road Trip Songs

This is not really a list, just a little ode to my number one driving song on a sunny day. My favourite moment, when the sun is shining on Sydney Harbour, and I happen to be driving over the Cahill Expressway, is to crank up Randy Newman's I love L.A. 

Now I know that seems to defeat the point, as I am in Sydney not LA, but there is a bit about driving down the highway, with the roof off and the beach boys blaring on the radio, and for some reason, on this part of the road with the stunning views, my windows down and the wind blowing my hair and those words and music lifting my spirits, I feel I'm in the most beautiful place on the planet.

I don't have a convertible by the way, I drive a big people moving bus, so you don't get more uncooler than me, but I still feel like a million bucks in my 'ride' (and I say windows down and topless convertible are the same thing....)

So my list of driving songs:

1. I Love L.A.

Linking up with Listmania.

Other Randy Newman ode is here. Maybe you should do a listmania topic of posts about Randy Newman....

Don't tell me I'm weird, I know none of the above makes sense to anyone else but me. And as I'm 100, and you are not, I'm sure half of you don't know Randy Newman, but you've missed out....


We have been off touring South Australia, and we've seen stunning beauty and amazing sunsets - and eaten fine foods and even finer wines. As a result, we are a little broke. To say the least.
We returned home late Friday night, and headed in to the city yesterday to see a show - which was cancelled. Having already paid for parking, we decided to potter around the Opera House and enjoy the free aspects of Summer Play.

The Sydney Festival transformation of the Opera House is excellent this year, with the Backyard BBQ (hills hoists included, sort of), and the garden bar.

Erth Dinosaurs roaming around, a sand pit and the very popular lego wall. We spent an hour pottering about before heading up to Hyde Park for a turn on Sacrilege, the jumping Stone Henge.

Sydney comes into it's own at Festival time, and nothing makes my spirit soar like roaming the beautiful city, and enjoying what it has to offer.

I have fallen in love with this little beauty, so Veuve Clicquot, if you'd like to sponsor me, you only need to pay me in a couple of free drinks...please! I could really see myself watching the sunset on those groovy yellow beanbags - and imagine the adoration I'd be spouting with a few bubbles in me!

So you can have your beaches and wide open spaces but nothing says summer to me more than our beautiful city when the Sydney Festival comes to town!

Linking up with some Grace for FYBF (Still on holidays but come feb, normal transmission will resume)

What does summer mean to you?

Wednesday 1 January 2014

What I learnt from Frozen

I drew the short straw, and while the boys went to see Walter Mitty, I was with the littlies in Frozen.
Not nearly as bad as I was expecting, I even managed to learn a few things. It has some great life lessons for little kids to get fed subliminally.

1. 'Fear will be your enemy'. In life, it is usually not what we do that causes us ultimately regret. We sit back, too scared to jump and follow our dreams. Worth remembering that it is always worth trying and failing than never stepping forward. 2014 is my year of taking bigger steps into the unknown and untested.

2. 'The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded'. As discussed before, the heart wants what it wants (love is weird, I think I settled on), and there is no logic nor manner in which to alter its desire. Intellectually we can know something, but we can't stop the way we feel - or it's much harder.

3. 'Just me. Just you?' This is a line in the film that really resonated with me. How many times do we hear women (and it usually is women) say 'I'm just a....'. From now on, if you hear 'just a mum', 'just a....' ask the question back "Just a mum?" Demand the speaker explain why it is "just". There is no need for the belittling "just" in what we choose to do. Why do we belittle ourselves? Call the speaker out. Perhaps eventually we can eradicate this bad habit that we perpetuate on our own self worth.

4. 'Don't be so desperate for love that it blinds you' - this is the best lesson in the film for young girls whose heads are filled with the 'someday your prince will come' stories. This one shows that you need to be okay with being by yourself before you can really see others as how they are. There are plenty of adults still in this boat. It would be nice if we could get the wiring right from an early age.

5. There is no perfect princess or prince in this story, we're "All a bit of a fixer upper". No man is perfect, but neither is no woman. We need to take our chosen one warts and all, with no expectation to change them, just as they need to take us as we are.

6. When it all goes south, we need to "Fix this hand in hand". No one needs to battle alone, we can work as a team, whether its husband and wife, sisters or friends. If you see someone struggling, maybe it's a cue to offer to fix it together.

7. There is a scene where the attempt to help is a failure, and the guy gets hurt. He says the experience has "Ruined me for helping people". Yet we help people to help them, not to get thanks. So if you get hurt in the process by anger or ingratitude, it doesn't mean that will be the experience every time. Consider why you help people. What is the end result you are after - surely it's about them not you? With each new person you help, the experience will be different. Cast aside the bad experiences and move forward to a good one. This can be applied to other hurts in life, and thus a lesson in the resilience that is worth remembering to retell the story when kids decided they won't try anymore.

8. One of the things I loved in this film, was that it lists a whole lot of questions you need to know the answers to before considering getting married. It pushes the 'love is not enough, get to know the person first' barrow - a rarity in Princess films. It's done in a fun but specific way. BIG lesson for little girls around the world. The moral being to forgo it at your own peril.
9. On a practical note, I was totally unaware there was a school of thought on whether you stack firewood bark side up or down. A bit of googling has lead me to believe you should stack it bark side up, as the bark helps the rain to run off and thus stays drier, where as bark down will form a bowl and it soaks. Who says you can't learn real life lessons from movies??

10. All in all, I liked Frozen, and I liked that the girls had to get stuff done for themselves. They were ultimately all that they needed, and the men were just a bonus. No sitting around for a true love to fix things. So for that alone, a must see for little girls around the world.

You know what? I am thankful that the movies for young kids are shifting a little, so the Princesses take charge instead of sitting around playing victims. Our daughters may develop better self worth, or maybe they'll just start to burst into song a lot.

With that, I'm tenuously linking up with A Parenting Life for Thankful Thursday.