The One Day Of The Year

One of the great benefits of retirement is the accessibility to theatrical performances. No longer am I confined to attending the more popular weekend shows where you run the risk of being allocated seats in the nose bleed section, especially if, like me, you get peeved about having to fork out for tickets 9 months before the event. ( I have a tirade down pat about this but won’t bore you here).

More free time also allows you to experiment with different kinds of performance art at less conventional theatre spaces. This year I’ve already visited three theatres that I didn’t even know existed! It’s been great fun, and you know what? Theatre can be as cheap as chips. No, I’m not getting any Seniors or Pensioner discounts to reduce ticket prices – if you hunt around some of these lesser known venues charge between $20 or $25 for an evening of great entertainment.

Next month Brisbane is hosting its annual Theatre Anywhere Festival, with over 400 performances happening in parks, garden nurseries, on buses, and shopping centre car parks. If you’re local look up Anywhere.Is. Last year I attended a show underground in what used to serve as a water reservoir in colonial days. The building was as interesting as the play.

Next week I am off to the local Community Theatre’s Rehearsal Night (fundraiser) for The One Day Of The Year. Written by Australian lan Seymour in 1958, this was compulsory school curriculum reading. At 14 I hated it. And Chaucer. What sane person didn’t?

Alf’s son Hughie and his girlfriend Jan plan to document Anzac Day for the university newspaper, focusing on the drinking on Anzac Day. For the first time in his life Hughie refuses to attend the dawn service with Alf. When he watches the march on television at home with his mother and Wacka, he is torn between outrage at the display and love for his father

I’ve always enjoyed theatre and once played D’Artgnan in a high school French class production. A friend asked me to join a theatrical group earlier in the year which I declined though I am attending a fortnightly group which includes a local playwright specialising in convict Australia, and an eccentric 80 year old screenwriter for the BBC. We clicked straight away – he carries a torch for Hedy Lamar and my notebooks are covered in photos of you-know-who.

Who has time to work?

Retirement Three Months In

What Have I Learned?

  • I’m not prepared to pay $18 for a cauliflower ( price due to recent floods)
  • After having spent my entire working life conversing with people I love the quiet. Even chat on the radio and in television advertisements is white noise.
  • It is liberating not having to wear makeup every day, though I found myself not brushing my hair till noon recently which is a concern. Ditto ones frillies.
  • I’m still waking up around 4am, but I have a cup/pot of tea and then go back down.
  • The lack of regimentation is life changing. I’m enjoying trying different recipes and eating them when the tummy tells me I’m hungry – not when rostered to do so. And sometimes I don’t eat and that’s ok.
  • I’m a better friend as I have more patience. Possibly a better parent as I’m far too busy living my life to worry about theirs. Better Significant Other? Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad…..
  • I’ve actually read less books and watched fewer movies because there are other things to do. Fun things too.
  • I’m more social than ever because I can now go gallivanting on a school night.
  • The house is no cleaner. Don’t look up at the cornices and you won’t spot the spider webs. Ssssshhhh. No-one is going to put “ She Kept A Clean House” on my headstone.
  • There are still a list of projects to complete. Probably more now as I’m not blinded about what needs to be done. Add to shopping list: paint for laundry.
Breakfast in the garden is such a treat.

The one issue that I do have is that even after three months not working I still need to achieve. I mentally ask myself each night “Well, what did I achieve today”? I’m aware I don’t have too so it is a little worrying that the motivation to do so remains.

Last time I retired at 52 with a redundancy package after our good Premier decided to prune Government spending I lazed around for three months before deciding I’d had enough and jumped right back into the workforce. A change of Government and almost double the spend from the public purse I am totally satisfied with my decision to walk away. Life is short. There are places to go, people to see, books to read, and theatres to visit.

Lovin’ it, though am missing fresh cauliflower au gratin.

Snakes, Cyclones and Errol

A summer of rolling heatwaves, lack of rain(in our wet season), and now Cyclone Oma hitting the coastline finds me more than a little wistful today. No damage though the local coffee shop on the coast where I caught up with girlfriends a few days ago had a foot of water running through it two days later.

So it’s windy, humid, and the grey clouds once again tease and my thoughts have wandered to where I could have been.

I downsized just over two years ago with a view to retirement. Three hours mowing the lawn each week to be frank, sucked, and the swimming pool was providing more pleasure for the Brown Snakes than for me. At one stage there were 11 Pythons living in my roof space, and when the bush rats ate through the wiring setting me back nearly $20k I put the house on the market.

Not a big decision really, though I did wrestle with subdividing or just offloading. I opted for the latter.

I found a nice little house only minutes away which meant I was still close to the water and very familiar with the locality. A small block with a house thirty years newer which was designed as an Airbnb should I want a passive income down the track.

So my house sold two days after being on the market at the inflated asking price. Contract crashed at the very last minute. Picked up two days later by a developer who paid an even higher price.( He later told me that when the house was demolished it was obvious the snakes had been breeding).

So I should have been really excited, right?

As fate would have it the very day my contract went through for my new house a property in which Errol Flynn had lived came onto the market in Hobart, the capital of our Island State of Tasmania. A lovely house with a view of the mountains. More importantly, so much cooler than Queensland. Did I howl like a banshee or what! Visions of holding monthly (black and white) movie nights and serving champagne cocktails instantly came to mind. We girls do like our champagne cocktails.

Pulling up my big girl panties I’ve been very happy in my new home. Only two snakes in two years, though they did eat my pet cockatiels, and it only takes ten minutes to mow both front and back lawns.

Retirement means I don’t have the same ties. I can relocate. I’m wondering if I should make an offer to the owners of the Hobart property, or is it simply Cabin Fever getting to me? If this summer is indicative of our new normal I don’t want to play here anymore.

*Snakes are protected in Australia. The fine for killing a snake is almost the same as murdering a child. Also, they are territorial, so even when you pay the snake man $125 per snake to remove them, no further than 500 metres by law, the blighters mostly come back. (Sssssshhhhh. Secret. A girls best friend can be the garden hoe).

Losing The Plot

I woke up at 9:40 this morning. That’s five hours later than normal. Morning people don’t wake up when it’s nearly lunch time.

Do I feel better for all this extra sleep? Absolutely not! Let’s blame the heat and the Labrador. Mostly the dog. Four weeks of puppy sitting and I’m done.

Firstly, I find myself constantly having conversations with said dog. The weather, what we’ll have for tea, the Dow Jones Index. This would be a concern at the best of times, but Bentley is deaf. We even had a discussion about music from the 70’s recently.

Then this afternoon I found that I shampooed my hair with Organic Hemp Pet Wash from Byron Bay.

I’m now about to sit down with a chardy in front of my latest Netflix binge : Schitts Creek. I’ve made a platter for humans, and a platter for the Lab.

Does this mean it’s time for me to start checking for employment opportunities ?

A Scone That Hasn’t Quite Risen

In the first week of December I had dinner with my daughter in Canberra.

In the first week of January when I met her at the local airport she greeted me with “Mo, you’re going grey!” Happy New Year to you too, biatch.

So five weeks into retirement what possibly could be sending me grey?

Is it because I’m missing the daily two hour train commute?
Is it because all the healthy living – food, exercise,mindfulness – doesn’t sit well?
Is it the freedom to do my own thing that I’m not coping with?
Are the decision making processes required to decide which book to read each day just too demanding?

Nope, none of these things. I’m putting all the blame on Bentley, my Labrador Grandfurbaby, with whom I am currently sharing living quarters. A lovely dog with a beautiful nature he is just simply exhausting.

First of all, he has me up three times a night for bathroom duties. Three times a night!!!!!! My human babies were sleeping through the night within six weeks. I’m a morning person – up with the chooks and often before them – but this broken sleep is a killer. I’m very close to hitting the wall especially that we are now into our ninth day of heatwave conditions.

I acknowledge that it’s a positive that he lets me know when visits are required and that there have been no accidents. How does he let me know ? By licking and slobbering all over my face. Holy Guacamole! Is it a really sad state of affairs to admit that I’m almost at the stage that I’m used to being awoken in this manner?

Oh, and Bents doesn’t like the rain so thanks to my daughter’s poor parenting practises one is required to stand there holding an umbrella over him mid stream.

Can dogs be diabetic, I’m wondering?

Bentley always wants to eat. I’m already nervous that the daughter will weigh him when she flys in as she likes her dog lean and trim. Did you know that Labs have a chemical imbalance which stops them from knowing when their tummies are full? Might have to use that excuse myself…..

And not just kibble, but pumpkin or prawns too

With his hearing impediment (totally deaf) he doesn’t pick up on social queues. You can be walking him down the street and a growling Rottweiler appears and Bentley wants to lick him. He can’t distinguish between friend or foe, which is sad and also awkward (and sometimes scary). I’m thinking I’m going to have to walk him with a golf club in hand for emergencies.

Yes, Bentley is a scone that hasn’t quite risen. Love him to bits but I’m buggered.

Against All Flags and Burrill Lake

I’ve previously shared the movies that helped mould the person I am today: Reap The Wild Wind with John Wayne being crushed by a giant squid accounting for my fear of seaweed ( and love of calamari), and Elizabeth And Essex with Errol Flynn and Bette Davis which was my excuse for decapitating my sister’s Barbie dolls.

A road trip through the haunts of my childhood on the New South Wales South Coast has stirred many memories; some good, some bad, but none ugly. Nothing is ugly once you hit the beautiful beaches and forests of this region, except perhaps for real estate prices.

Coming from a family that enjoyed fishing, swimming, and body boarding in these same waters I was reminded of successful nights of prawning and catching Blue Swimmer Crabs in Burrill Lake, just south of Ulladulla. The Father Bear would wade knee deep in water holding a Tilly Lamp, guiding everybody else who would have a net ready to scoop any crabs attracted by the light. No need for any bait. That was me. I always attracted crabs.(Get your minds out of the gutter please). Nips from crabs were plentiful though I never complained as nothing ever did beat a fresh crab sandwich with a spray of pepper.

Catching up with a friend and neighbour of fifty plus years standing over these past days we sat and watched Against All Flags, a 1952 movie starring Errol Flynn and Maureen O’Hara, which reminded me of the time where I confronted my military father and refused to be used to attract Blue Swimmers. It was the summer of rebellion. I was 8 and I had just seen this movie for the first time.

Onboard a 1700s merchant ship, determined British naval officer Lieutenant Brian Hawke (Flynn) bravely endures twenty lashes with the intent of using the wounds to help him go undercover on the pirate island of Libertania. Once there, however, Hawke is brought before the colony’s head pirates, the Captains of the Coast, and forced to prove himself in a fight to the death. As he endures the various trials of a pirate, he finds himself drawn to the beautiful buccaneer Spitfire (O’Hara) and torn between her and his mission to disarm the renegade settlement. Co-starring Anthony Quinn, it’s a Technicolor epic filled with buxom maidens, breathtaking swordplay and dazzling spectacle. From IMDB.

For the purpose of this story you need to know that when the pirates realise that Errol is a spy they inflict an awful punishment.  They tie him to a pole on the tide line and await these butt ugly crabs to come out of the water to scavenge for food. Errol as a main course – delicious!

Off set Errol was injecting oranges with vodka in defiance of the No Drinking Rule, and was seven years off his early demise. I think he still looked damn fine, and when the mogul princess in the movie kept asking for “more”, as in kisses, I knew just where her head was at. 

It was an absolute treasure to rewatch this movie all these years later in colour and with a wonderful friend. Cath, I never knew you were such a movie buff, particularly one with such an eye for bloopers. ( Watch for Spitfire’s beauty spot changing cheeks).

I still have a fear of live crabs though am partial to a good crab salad with mango.

The South Coast, Errol Flynn and good friends. What a great start to retirement.