Thursday, February 28, 2013

On turning 60 - to celebrate or not?

I wasn't sure that I wanted to celebrate turning 60 with a birthday party. To be honest I thought I wanted to ignore the event entirely. I thought it didn't matter.

But I was wrong.

When I remembered my friends and family who hadn't marked the event, I realised it did matter to me. I'd felt a bit lost when people precious to me hadn't "done something" - something was missing, and I eventually acknowledged that I wanted to get together with others, raise a glass and acknowledge the important part they'd played in my life.

And if I thought that, then surely it was only fair to celebrate as I wished others had.

Okay ... but how?

Low key. Down to earth. What do I want to do with my life next? How would I like my wonderful friends and family to be involved?

I'd been dreaming of getting some advice about setting up a permaculture garden. We have a lacklustre garden, unproductive and a bit sad, so maybe ....?

Belatedly the invitations were sent out; the celebration set for afternoon tea, and gifts as such were discouraged - but a cutting, seeds or strike from my friends' own gardens would be wonderful! The logic - I enjoy giving gifts and would totally ignore a "no gifts" request, I assume others would too, so surely it's ok to acknowledge that and give a hint?

And it turned out to be the best, most fun birthday celebration I've ever had!
The little kid down the road was celebrating his birthday on the same day, and his parents had arranged for a jumping castle and a petting farm with baby animals to be set up in the front yard. Admittedly, this was a bit of a distraction for my guests, many of whom were somewhat envious. But who could argue that a scarecrow made especially for me trumps a jumping castle and cute animals any day! And the possibility of injured aged hips and ankles getting twisted with the unaccustomed leaping might have been a disaster waiting to happen.

Oh darn, time for a smidge more honesty - I wish I'd thought of a jumping castle! That would have been so much fun ;-)

But back to the adult party. Can you see in the photo? I received flowers, seeds, seedlings, snail bait, a self-sown bay tree, a subscription to The Diggers Club, books, vegetables and even chocolate (for after all the energetic gardening I'll be doing!)

And mounds of cards and an abundance of cherishing, loving hugs, comments and words and even a poem!

Edinburgh. Ben Warner. 
One of my artistic relatives encouraged me to choose one of his paintings. Thankyou so much Ben. I was nearly in tears when you offered me something you'd created and even writing this now brings a lump to my throat. It was hard to choose from your folio, but I loved visiting Edinburgh and your painting of that city feels so at home here. I'll enjoy arranging for it to be framed!

I think what I'm trying to say in a somewhat clumsy manner is - many of us like to give, but we have trouble receiving. We shrug off compliments, we're flippant about our skills and talents. We pretend we're strong, even though we're crying inside. But sometimes it's important to slow down enough to let others show they care and bask in their love and revel in the luxury of their hugs.

And now, a question. How do you allow others to show they care?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I won a prize to Cirque du Soleil - Ovo!!

A real prize! Not one of those unpleasant fake ones that make you think something exciting and fun has happened and it turns out it's a con or a scam of some sort.

It was entirely unexpected. You see, I rarely enter competitions so it's a bit hard to win anything at all. So when I received a call saying I'd won something I think the caller could hear my distrust and disbelief and quickly identified himself. Adam Grusaukas was the Marketing Manager from Minzenmay a reputable, local, family owned jewellery store, which I've been known to frequent from time to time.  "Just looking" of course ;-) They occasionally run competitions, business card draws and the like, which I enter, and promptly forget.

The prize included a double pass to the afternoon session of Cirque du Soleil's "Ovo" on Australia Day, AND popcorn AND 2 softdrinks AND chocolate :D

A feast for all the senses!

Wheeeeee! Something fun was just what I needed - this prize couldn't have come at a better time!

Precariously balancing a massive carton of popcorn, drinks and chockies, we found our seats which were in a prime spot.

While waiting for the show to start we watched black clad stage-hands scamper expertly up tall pylons disappearing into the darkness as the music entwined around a massive opaque egg centre stage. Chirrups, squeaks and clicks provided an auditory background for the performers as they moved through the aisles and interacted with the audience, dressed in fantastically detailed and often sumptuous costumes.

The egg became a molten orange-red; colours swirling and pulsating ... then vanished.

Lithe, sinuous characters dressed in iridescent gauze costumes, some figure hugging (oh to be as energetic and fit as these people!) others reminiscent of armadillos, moved with balletic poise and control, at times seeming to defy gravity and be held up only by the "ooooohs" and "aaaaahs" of a spellbound audience.

Words like sensuous and voluptuous are apt for the main female character. A ladybird perhaps, coy at times, vampish and feisty at others. Her costume enhanced and celebrated her apparent size - fit, feminine and joyous - what a gorgeous role model! You're not allowed to take photos during the show, but you can see some of the characters in this promotional few seconds of Ovo here. The fly is wonderful!

The performance showcased the skills you'd hope to see at a regular circus, but enhanced into a fully self-contained show with a story line running through linking the separate parts into a satisfying whole.

Detail of head dress
To refer to these performers as a circus troupe doesn't in my mind do justice to the incredible professionalism of everyone involved. From the engineering, enabling characters to appear in part or whole from within the stage or appear to slide across it as if on skis, to the precision and amazing body awareness of the performers to the designers and makers of the exquisite jewell like costumes, it is an extraordinary celebration of skills, honed to perfection.

Someone asked me which act I liked most. That's a challenge! Using one diabolo is ok, two is pretty good, by the third my eyes were crossed with the effort of working out how it was possible for it to appear so easy. That's the mark of an expert - to make a challenge appear effortless!

The group of red clad Chinese women: precision, co-ordination, and wonderful synchronisation with balancing, twirling, spinning and throwing "kiwifruit" barrels between and across the performers, but not content with that, they then juggled with each other.

The clash and clang of a sword fight; whimsical, witty, energetic and believable - without swords!

And the giant slinky! Oh my! That was absolutely amazing - Which way is up? Which way is down? Is that a head, or foot, or arm ... or just a slinky? Expanding and contracting, bits appearing and disappearing. I suspect I was shaking my head in disbelief and I know I experienced more cross-eyed concentration as I tried (and failed) to work out how it was done.

Then there were the slaters. Beautiful, controlled, precise. The incredible strength and concentration of the slack-wire artist and the high wire troupe - my stomach muscles still twinge in sympathy just thinking about them.

Intricate detailing on boots
The beauty of the giant brightly blooming flowers - reminiscent of the Western Australian fire wheel tree. Glorious! Mesmerising spidery legs, emerging, languid from the floor, all fur and glittery sparkles - what a mind that can conceive of this! At one stage a cream silken cocoon dropped from the ceiling and broke open to expose the chrysalis, twisting, falling and eventually emerging into a butterfly.

The finale was stunning, jaw dropping, and for me, the stuff of dreams. Trampolining at it's most elegant, gravity defying, glorious best. A multitude of trampolinists dropping from a high rock wall onto a trampoline placed along the length of the wall a bit like a river. As some were dropping others bounded upwards and appeared to walk UP the wall, not only vertically, but weaving across each other like a human tapestry being constructed before our eyes. Linking this complex movement was another figure, a woman, moving slowly and gracefully between, on,  underneath and around these precision performers, high, high on the wall. She was like a beautiful slow moving, and at times sensuous limpet. Absolutely mesmerising ... wow! Did they really move in slow motion at times, or is that the eyes playing tricks due to the intricate movements and upwards momentum?

Applause for the musicians, applause for the artists, costume designers, engineers, and especially for Minzenmay Mornington for the wonderful prize. Thankyou so much. We had a wonderful time!

And after that amazing feast for the senses and stomach, you'd think we'd have been satisfied - but no. To support the One Drop Foundation we purchased handbag sized reusable water bottles, a stylish and useful memento of a fantastic afternoon at Ovo by Cirque du Soleil.

(From Wikipedia) The One Drop Foundation is a non-governmental organization (NGO) based out of Montreal, Canada. an initiative of Cirque du soleil founder Guy Laliberte, the foundation's mission is to fight poverty worldwide by supporting access to water and raining individual and community awareness of the need to mobilize so that safe water is accessible to everyone.

Convinced that a comprehensive, planetary approach is required to pursue its mission. One Drop works on three levels:
     1. Making water accessible to those deprived of this resource;
     2. Raising awareness among individuals and communities of water-related issues, the need to  mobilize and the importance of adopting responsible water-management practices;
     3. Helping put water at the heart of public debate and international agendas.

More about One Drop