What a month!

SiQP
Setting up for SiQP 2007 in Queen’s Park, Toowoomba

I can’t believe this. After being as diligent as I have with the blogging, there I go–almost an entire month without. Ah, but what a month! A glorious week on the east coast of southern Mexico (Azul Resort) with the family for a wedding, and a week in Honolulu for a conference, and hanging out (as one does) with friends in that lovely, relaxed place. Blogging, mobile phones, to do lists, and all the other paraphenalia of a busy life seemed completely and utterly inappropriate and out of place. I was not tempted to check the email or the web at any time at Azul or in Honolulu, so I declare the two weeks of rest and recreation a total success.

Memories crowd in: early morning beach walks and the seaweed sweepers, beach butlers, family closeness, the blue blue Caribbean, Playa del Carmen, the Mayan ruins at Tulum and the iguana “gods” who protect the piles of rocks, and in Honolulu just catching up with the past – places and people. Being with the children and the family, meeting new extended members made for a magical time. I doubt we’ll ever do it again quite as spectacularly. It was however, important for us all to be together at an important time for all of us as family.

The next creative project is to edit the wedding footage, download the sound file interviews from the reception and create a DVD memento for the happy couple. Should keep me busy. So, a time of catching up with everything and everyone …

It’s actually been hard to get going again. The head was wonderfully free of “stuff” after two weeks’ break. The time back, since January 19th has been about recalibrating the energy for action. Next up is the Festival and the pace that implies–meetings, calls, messages, rehearsals. Back to business with the Empire and Queensland Theatre Company, and girding up for Founders’ Dinner next Friday, the first big event in the university’s 40th anniversary celebration.

Oh and the little matter of the production of Mad Forest due to start on February 26. Read the script again–lovely piece, and if anything can forge an ensemble, it will be this one. Fun to work with a group I don’t know. No preconceptions, and a good getting to know you.

I’m having fun with the new Nikon and despite the heat of a steamy January, have managed to capture some nice pieces around the garden. I’m managing to keep Project 365 going, not that it is as easy as you’d think. Ah, productivity!

And so, the end is near …

iStock_Old-Photos-SmallA quiet day of taking stock, writing, reading, watching television and tossing stuff!It’s been quite a year. Reading back over other project blogs (USQ 2007 40th Anniversary and SiQP Festival) confirms just how busy I’ve been; I’ve probably convened or attended more meetings this year, than at any other time in my life. Memo to self: try to cut down on these in 2007; take more time for myself, and enjoy the moment(s) as they flow. Have to say it’s been great working outside the Department this year, collaborating with colleagues outside the Faculty of Arts has been refreshing.

Highlights of the year included a successful third Shakespeare in Queen’s Park Festival in March; a sense that this project is growing smoothly and successfully with more people coming on board from other sectors in the university; heading up the USQ 2007 40th Anniversary celebrations committee and planning a year of activities AND having this being supported; being part of the winning team in the Australian Institute of Management’s Great Debate on International Women’s Day in March; discovering the GTD approach to life, something which has revolutionised my working methods. The year also brought a couple of good productions with students at USQ: All Shorts in May-June, and Black Box Shakespeare: all’s fair in October; it was also very nice being reappointed Chair of the Board Queensland Theatre Company in October.

The Pacific Edge Conference on regional arts held in Mackay in September was OK as conferences go. It’s real benefit was the chance to network and being privy to the work of a very exciting company from the US: Sojourn who work on civic-engagement projects. That and seeing my son performing and holding his own very nicely with professionals. It was also a joy to see his work in August in Brecht’s Mother Courage. The Create World Conference held at Griffith U in December was stimulating; seeing the potential of digital tools in teaching and learning inspired a lot of my subsequent research. Travel highlight and a visit to a place I’d never been before was to Carnarvon Gorge in central Queensland with two dear friends. Bushwalking, discovering the awesome thousand-years old cycads growing wild, and just kicking back for three days was what I needed, feeling as I was, carework and frantic. Couldn’t leave the laptop behind though!

Professionally, it’s been a busy, sometimes exhausting, but successful year. Personally, I’m beginning the plan for the R-Years. A small count-down calendar on the desk top reminds me to make the most of each day before then, and to work towards a stress-free exit strategy! And so, farewell 2006.

The hunt for the perfect swimsuit is over!

iStock_black-garbage-bagXSmallYes a long-ish drive to Brisbane on the hunt for the perfect swinsuit, but it was also a chance to start listening to a new audio book as I did. The swinish hordes of shoppers were not a bit swinish, and looked very much like me, and indeed were not horde-like … the crowds had thinned a lot. I did find the togs and so nicely do they fit and look, that I bought two.

Also did some bookshop crawling (a favourite pastime) and found a great new place, Folio Books, and couldn’t resist the Pen Shop in Elizabeth Street where I ogled amazing fountain pens with names like Porsche! Bought myself a Fisher Space Pen (little materialist me has been lusting after one of these Silver Bullets for months), pawed over the various moleskine notebooks, but didn’t succumb, and bought perhaps one of the more indulgent items ever, a bottle of Mont Blanc rose-scented red ink called “Je t’aime” for “love letters.” I plan to use it when marking my students’ assignment papers. Let them wonder!

Kitted the male child out in a very nice looking ensemble, jacket and trousers, for the wedding. Think all is just about ready to pack.

I plan to spend the weekend doing an end of year “cull” of the place. I do find this a very soothing occupation, and seeing the big black bags of stuff to either toss or send to a charity store very calming. I never cease to be amazed at my pack-rattery. Loving reading The Time Traveller’s Wife and pottering in the garden. Everything is growing madly, despite the coolish weather which is very unseasonal for late December. Tomorrow is the last day of the year, so time to reflect no doubt on what was, and what might be.

Ah, and the matter of the paper still to be written …

The In-Between Time

Christmas is over for another year. Can’t say I enjoyed the rampant materialism of the “ka-ching” factor: all-night trading, nightly bulletins trumpeting how much had been taken at the cash-registers etc. The quiet time I spent at home with my son seemed oddly, and wonderfully out of step with what was, and is happening elsewhere. The pre-Christmas sales have been overtaken for sheer crassness by the Boxing Day sales. What about the reason for the season!

These 6 or 7 days do seem an odd in-between time, though it is a good time to stocktake and throw out lots of stuff. I do enjoy the annual purge of the scruffy and the unwanted stuff which lurks everywhere around the place. The next big bit of celebration comes on New Year’s eve with fireworks, more opportunities to make an idiot of self in public if so desired, long taxi queues home, and resolutions never to do it again! I will probably muse on the past year, write and go to bed, which is what I have done resolutely for the past 10 years or so. God, I am getting old!

Speaking of writing, I have been procrastinating alarmingly over the paper due for presentation on January 12 at the Hawaiian International Conference of Arts and Humanities in Honolulu. This, despite all of my good intentions, and “next action” list, which has been sitting sulking in the GTD file for some time now. I do have an outline, a pretty good outline (it’s a pretty good paper after all), so all is not yet lost. There’s just the problem of getting started. Like taking up an exercise program, the hardest thing is to lace up your joggers. To trick myself into action, I dropped by by Officeworks today and bought a packet of those wonderful Uni-ball micropoint rollerball pens to get in the mood. Meantime, I have been keeping up with practising for Project 365 (a photo a day for a year) which starts January 1, and enjoying the fourth cricket Ashes test. Fabulous play by the Australian team. Oh, how sweet it is. I well recall the doldrums in the UK in August last year during the 2005 series. Watching Shane Warne work his magic at the MCG is my excuse for not hitting the academic trail. Since Australia has now a 4-0 lead and the match is over, it’s tomorrow I swear!

Modest footnote: Of course I was once again procrastinating, but my mood today was not enhanced by the fact that I could not get the killer swim-togs I have been chasing (well thinking about buying) for some time–vital gear for the Mexican riviera and Waikiki beach. This means a long drive to Brisbane tomorrow where I will become one of the hordes of materialistic swine chasing bargains.

Christmas Morn

And all is well. It’s the first time I’ve spent Christmas at home at Yarrawonga for years. Our ridge is alive with the sound of rainbow lorikeets and cicadas, and the air full of drifts of eucalypt blossom and their sweet honey smell. It’s a glorious warm morning, and I’m musing on Christmases past and those who are no longer here to spend it with us. All the memories are good, and the video in my mind unwinds with so many images of faces and places associated with those happy times. My grown up son and I are doing Christmas alone this year as are my daughter, her partner, and the rest of the family. Feels odd, but then we probably need to rest before the big push overseas January 3rd.

Had a fun day on the web yesterday. How else does a geek girl spend her holiday? Stumbled over the new Google Reader and the whole suite of Google tools for digital tragics like me. Some very nice stuff out there. I’m pretty much convinced too that Blogger (another Google fave) is going to be the tool to use for coursework that requires reflection and sharing. It simply has more features and is pretty much customizable for the individual user.

And really, I should spend the day away from lists and sites and organising myself silly, and get in the moment! Read myself to sleep last night with one of Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories, The Seven Poor Travellers a sort of 19th century, moral Canterbury Tales, but definitely not one of his best. I should have gone with A Christmas Carol at least some of the juicier bits. The Seven Poor Travellers had a definite unfinished feel to it, but the staid prose soothed me off to a dreamless night. Note to self: read more classics in 2007. The other neat little project for 2007 will be to take a picture a day. Set up the computer to take a pic every day when I log on– Project 365.

Time to Play

I didn’t believe I could wind down as fast as I have in the past couple of days. It’s Day 2 of the month off, and I’m energised, engaged, and having f-u-n. And what I’m playing at is reading and learning-new software and how to drive the new Nikon D40, a sweet camera if ever there was one.

The software is all about organising; I’m really stuck into the GTD stuff now. I’ve also discovered the “tagging” business via the de-licio-us site as a way of bookmarking stuff. Good for magpies on the net; you find something you like, you tag it with a meaningful word and it gets associated with a whole lot of other tags by people all round the net. Another face of social networking.

Just footling around the web typing in things like “Greek sailing holidays” and came upon a ripper of a site. The pictures, the prose! I knew this was the holiday I wanted. Wrote immediately about a two week cruise around the Cyclades, and heard back this morning with a suggestion that the one-week Dodecanese cruise might be a better go, since the Cyclades goes so far out from port. I think I might bring the dream forward to July 2007. OK, so now I can dream big. Greece in summer; I can almost smell the cypress trees and hear the cicadas.