Month: June 2018

The July Ultimate Blog Challenge

The July Ultimate Blog Challenge

I can’t resist a challenge! – well, as long as the challenge fits within the reasonable limits of my comfort zone.  A recent email had the word ‘Challenge’ in it, so naturally it got my attention. The email was a call to action to sign up for the July Ultimate Blog Challenge. It sounded simple enough – write a blog each day for thirty-one days – so I signed up. But it’s the ‘each day’ bit where I usually come unravelled. I’ve been known to set all sorts of agendas to keep me on track, but my creative-train is easily derailed. It doesn’t take much: an invitation here, a slack day there, and before I know it – I’m panicking about a deadline.

I can usually get the writing part done reasonably fast, but it’s the other bits that make the difference between meeting deadlines – and hearing them whoosh by.

The Support I Need

My websites are built on the WordPress platform, simply because the support from WordPress is phenomenal. WordPress Meetups and WordPress WordCamps are for learning new things, as well as getting answers to questions and solutions to problems. Meetups are held monthly in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, so I get two opportunities a month to learn something new.

WordCamp Brisbane 2017

WordCamps are less frequent, usually once a year in any city, and provide a weekend of learning. You have the opportunity to attend as many talks as you can comfortably fit in over two days. Everything from novice topics, to the highest level for developers, is covered at WordCamp. While costs might vary slighltly in some cities, I only paid $50 for the WordCamps I attended, and that covered admission, food, after-party, t.shirt and lots of swag (that’s tech talk for freebies – thank you WordPress!). Generous sponsors contribute to the cost of the event so that we can attend without breaking the bank – and they bring lots of swag too – (thank you sponsors!).

Smart-casual wear is fine for the After Party (WordCamp Brisbane 2017)

Getting your ducks in a row before you hit the ‘Publish’ button.

Okay, these are Canada Geese, but you get the picture, right?

The real value of Meetups and WordCamps is the networking. It’s the people you meet before and after each session that really makes the difference. The true value of networking, according to networking guru Sally Eberhardt, is the sharing of ideas and information. And I couldn’t agree more.

At WordCamp Sunshine Coast 2016, I met some other bloggers during one of the coffee breaks. One of them shared some valuable information about a Plugin that monitors the readability and the ‘find-ability’ of your website – (thanks Di Hill). I downloaded and have been using Yoast ever since. When I get the readability right, I get a green light, and another green light when I have all the right elements to make my site more ‘findable’. With WordPress websites, adding a Plugin or two is easy, but since I plugged-in Yoast, the days of writing a quick blog have ended. If I choose to ignore the suggestions, I can still write and publish a fast blog. When I follow the suggestions, it slows things down, but it is SO worth it. When you get all your ducks in a row, you get a green light. I love that green light!

I’ve been limbering up for long enough..

… now it’s time to get out on the track, and start sprinting.

My random blog posts have probably been a bit too random lately and need reining in a bit (okay – a lot!). While I was holidaying overseas earlier this year, I signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge for January. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Piece of cake, I thought; I have plenty to write about; I can do this. Then disaster struck. I broke my wrist and ended up in a full cast. The cast started at my shoulder and ended just above my fingers, with a quirky bend at the elbow. I couldn’t tie my hair back with one hand – it just can’t be done, but I managed to type – very s-l-o-w-l-y. So I wrote blogs for the challenge. I didn’t manage every day; in fact I didn’t even get half-way, but I gave it a good shot.

At the time, I was also negotiating with the Travel Insurance company to get me home for possible surgery. I’ve used the same company for years and now I know why. They organised amazing flights and took care of everything I would need for a very comfortable trip home. I managed to dodge the surgery, but that’s another story. It would have been great to have seen more of Seattle, but I will remember with fondness the people I met while I was there. It’s the people you meet that make the difference between a good trip, and a great trip.

So let the Ultimate Blog Challenge begin!

Hopefully I will make it through to the end of July with thirty-one new posts, all my ducks in a row, and have successfully completed the July Ultimate Blog Challenge. My floors might not get up-close-and-personal with the vacuum cleaner for the entire month, and I might be living on cheese and crackers, but (hopefully) I will have thirty-one new blog posts completed by the time July bids us farewell. And with the first day of the new month just one sleep away, well at least here in the Southern Hemisphere, I’m starting to panic already.

I can do this! I can do this! I (think) I can do this. And the only way to do it is roll my sleeves up, and start; so let the Ultimate Blog Challenge begin!

These are ducks! – but they’re not exactly in a row – yet.

Journey through the July Ultimate Blog Challenge with me: by subscribing to my Blog.

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Brisbane River Lights

Brisbane River Lights

When you find yourself in Brisbane at night, go to where the light shines brightest – on the Brisbane River. The lights from the buildings on each side are reflected on the water, providing a palette of shimmering colours. The Brisbane River lights up the dark night, while providing the best views of the city.

Words describe as much as they can, but the photos tell the real story. As often happens, I didn’t have my good camera with me on this trip, so the photos are opportunistic moments captured with my iPhone.

Tall buildings in background with Brisbane River in the middle of the picture
Ordinary buildings by day, become spectacular buidlings at night

Ordinary buildings by day become towers of magical colour by night.

The Fast Way….

If you have already eaten, or plan to eat later, then the best way to see the Brisbane River at night is to get onboard the CityCat. Stopping at most of the terminals along the way, the CityCat gives you the option of disembarking and exploring on foot, or staying onboard for the round trip. Either way, from a vantage point on the deck or a seat inside, you’ll be mesmerised by the light-show as the lights of the city buildings are reflected in the water.

Take the CityCat

The CityCat is one of the ferries that ply the Brisbane River. The Brisbane River is the longest river in South East Queensland and flows for 344 kms, from the Brisbane-Cooyar Ranges to Moreton Bay. As the river meanders through the city, RiverCat ferries link Hamilton at one end, to the University of Queensland at the other.

There is no better way to experience the beauty of Brisbane

Iconic structures of old, mingle with the new; each one significant in their own way. The lights from the buildings light up the darkness as they spread across the water, and light the way ahead.

From the dock at the Northshore Hamilton Ferry Terminal, Eat Street becomes a haven for pedestrians in search of local and International culinary delights. If you are hungry enough, you can leave the CityCat at Hamilton and take an easy eight-minute, flat walk to Eat Street. But you’d better bring your money with you as you will be overwhelmed by the choices of dining options at Eat Street.

From the water-side of Eat Street

Brisbane Night-Lights are Spectacular

Brisbane City at night is hard to beat, and the CityCat provides the best platform for viewing, and taking photos. There’s a Kodak moment at every turn.

You can see history depicted in the colours that light up the Story Bridge each night; the different colours represent an historical event or raise awareness of future ones.

The Story Bridge in all its splendour

And Then There is the Slow Way….

If time is on your side, then the best way to see the city is on the Kookaburra Queen, where you can eat, drink and dance the night away while viewing the Brisbane River lights. There is something special about being onboard the old paddle-wheeler: the sound of the wheel churning through the water; the romance of standing on the deck of this grand old-lady of the river; the food. It all makes for an evening that is hard to forget.

You’ll need to set aside about three hours for the cruise on the Kookaburra Queen. The trip will cost more than the CityCat. but the very reasonable price tag of most of the packages includes dinner and entertainment. With the onboard dance-floor primed, you can trip the light fantastic as you make your way along the river. And the light-show on the water provides the perfect back-drop.

And, back to the CityCat….

When you don’t have three hours to spare, take the CityCat, where the light-show from the Brisbane River lights won’t disappoint you.

It doesn’t matter where you start your journey, the CityCat will lead you through the magical wonderland of Brisbane River lights.

So, what are you waiting for?

Grab your camera and a couple of friends, and make Brisbane your next night out. Oh, and don’t forget to share the photos you take.

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Is My To-Do List Specific Enough?

Is My To-Do List Specific Enough?

Is my To-Do List specific enough? I like to keep agendas broad, just in case something unexpected pops up. But in keeping it broad, am I defeating the purpose of having a To-Do List?

After the meeting on Tuesday morning – the one I forgot I had – I agreed to meet with a few colleagues at 9 o’clock yesterday morning. The meeting wasn’t on the horizon when I planned the week, but it would serve a very practical purpose. I hadn’t met one of my colleagues before and the meeting would provide the opportunity to meet, and get to know her.

Let me digress a little…

We are all retired.

To use the word ‘colleagues’ sounds a bit technical in the formal sense. But, even though we are all retired, we are on various committees in our ‘retired-ness’, so technically we are colleagues.

Back to my To-Do List

At least I was prepared for yesterday’s early start. I even washed my hair before rushing out the door. There wasn’t enough time to do due diligence to the making of my first-coffee-of-the-day, so for the third day in a row, the coffee vending machine won. The coffee doesn’t taste as good as Josh’s, but hey – coffee beans are coffee beans when you are desperate. As long as they  contain the essential ingredient (caffeine), that’s all that matters. So with coffee in hand (tick off Item One on the To-Do List), the meeting began (the meeting wasn’t on the To-Do List – so I couldn’t tick it off).

Writing was on my To-Do List for Wednesday, but with the proviso of ‘hopefully’. The plan was to pack and start the drive northwards early in the day, which would leave plenty of time for writing when I got there.

It Didn’t Happen

As usual, after any meeting, there is a need for cofffee. A trip to Re Cafe Nate solved that problem.  By then the day had warmed up a bit so I decided to indulge in a Milo Malt with double malt and a double shot of Espresso. It tastes just like a chocolate milkshake – only caffeinated. The team at Re Cafe Nate have nailed this – I get my cafffeine hit, as well as my milk shake fix, all in one container.

The To-Do List for the week

By the way, when I tuned into SBS on Tuesday night to watch Who Do You Think You Are?, it wasn’t on. It seems the series has ended. I hope the producers are busy making the next series or there will be very little need to have a TV in my house. So I can cross that part of Tuesday night off until then.

Coffee Time

I doubt there will ever be a day when I don’t tick off Item One – Coffee. As I’ve said before, no day starts without it. Without coffee, I’m showing up – but there will be no meaningful participation.

Packing and driving north were on the list, but with no assigned time. In my mind though, I had envisaged doing both before midday. The strategy of keeping the list broad is to allow for the unexpected. And lots of the unexpected happened yesterday.

One of the advantages of living where I do is the like-minded people who share the love of our twenty-eight acres of bush land. There is always someone to connect with during the course of the day. And yesterday was no exception. When a neighbour brought a piece of paper to my door with the words ‘The best of Hot Chocolate’ written on it, and the question ‘How do I buy this CD?’, the only solution was to fire up my iPad, find the CD online, and hit the ‘Buy’ button. Some a lot of my neighbours don’t have Internet – in fact – they don’t even have computers. And since we don’t have a store in town that would be likely to have the CD, online buying was the most feasible solution. But it wasn’t on my To-Do List

It was a long drive to the North Side

The drive was easy, for most of the trip. And then there were the roadworks that turned the highway into a carpark. The traffic was going nowhere, and I was stuck in the middle. But with the car-radio tuned in to Question Time in Parliament, there was enough entertainment to keep me occupied while I waited. When I arrived at my destination I was tired, and it was just about dinner time. I did manage to squeeze in about fifteen minutes of writing before dinner, but I just couldn’t get it finished before turning off the light at sleep-o’clock.

There’s a danger in pushing yourself beyond a reasonable day, with your iPad and keyboard within reach. I have been known to fall asleep with my fingers precariously hovering over the keyboard, only to awaken to find a whole lot of gibberish typed, or half a page deleted. Either way, it isn’t a good look and can often be deadly. So writing came to an abrupt end,  only to be resumed after first-coffee-of-the-day today – which may have been closer to midday than would normally be acceptable.

But hey, retirees shouldn’t have deadlines, right?

Would I stay on task more easily if I was more specific about the items on my To-Do List?

I’ll work on figuring this out and let you know….

May All My Deadlines Be Flexible

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Meeting? What Meeting? What Day is it Today?

Meeting? What Meeting? What Day is it Today?

Meeting? What meeting? What day is it today? Thoughts raced through my mind as I read the message. No, never mind what day is it, what time is it?

It’s 8.30 in the morning!

Coffee, as you know, is the first thing on any agenda I have anything to do with. Today was no exception. Right there at the top of the To Do List was COFFEE. Yes, I managed to go downtown yesterday afternoon and buy milk, so that wasn’t going to be a problem (like it was yesterday). I even had coffee beans.

The problem was the text I received at about 8.25am from a friend.

To go back a step, I’ll explain that I woke up early this morning – around 6am. After checking my emails and Facebook – the important issues of the day – I uncharacteristically rolled over and went back to sleep.

The ‘ping’ of the text arriving in my iPhone Messages woke me from my blissful slumber beneath the warmth of a couple of wool-filled doonas and two thick blankets (it is winter!) . The message was from a friend declaring, apologetically, that she would be late for the meeting because she had just woken up.

Meeting? What meeting?

A few texts later it was glaringly obvious that I had agreed to meet with a few people to go over some paperwork that needed attention. Was the meeting in my diary? Sadly, yes, but having something in your diary is no use unless you actually read the diary. Mental Note: set an alert for the day before, and then an hour before, on any future digital diary entries. I looked at the time – it was 8.32.

9.02am

And there I was, showered, dressed, make-up roughly applied, hair kind-of-done and ready to start the process of reading through the 30ish pages of heavy-duty paperwork that needed attention. It is just as well the proposed meeting was in walking (almost-running) distance from my unit, because I made it just in time.

My eyes were open – they just weren’t functioning very well, even though I had managed to get a coffee from the vending machine on the way. How come text looks much smaller when you haven’t had your coffee quota prior to reading it? Admittedly the words gradually increased to a readable size as the caffeine kicked in, but that can take a while when you haven’t even adjusted to daylight yet.

And so it was, today!

With the paperwork all taken care of I was once again staring down the barrel of the afternoon, with none of the morning’s documented goals met. And I was still desperately in need of a real coffee and breakfast, even though it was now after midday. So what do you do in that situation? You go to Re Cafe Nate, of course. A coffee and quiche later and all was well with the world.

 

Now, where was I on that agenda for today? Oh, behind schedule again.

There’s a lot to be said for consistency

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Oh Crikey, I Forgot to Buy Milk!

Oh Crikey, I Forgot to Buy Milk!

The first item on today’s agenda, as always, is Coffee. All was well until I realised I forgot to buy milk while I was downtown last night. Crikey – because I forgot to buy milk, there would be no coffee! And anyone who knows me well, knows that I HAVE to have my coffee, first thing in the morning.

Without Coffee – Nothing Else Happens

The only thing to do, of course, is walk across the road to Re Cafe Nate and indulge in the best coffee on the planet. And the only problem with that idea is that one coffee leads too easily to another. Suddenly, the big hand on the clock has completed a few too many circuits around the clockface. So now you are staring down the barrel of the afternoon, long before you’ve completed the morning tasks. This is not looking good.

And So It Was Today…

The photos for the article I am writing will have to wait. Which means, the words to go with the photos will also have to wait. And so the day progresses – constantly playing catch up.

  • Does it really matter if I don’t get everything done?
  • Isn’t that what I signed up for when I retired?
  • Shouldn’t deadlines be a thing of the past?

One of my favourite Douglas Adams quotes when I was mid-career was:

 I love deadlines.

I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by

It seems nothing has changed. Even though the deadlines are not set by an authoritative external body, the plans I make are meant to keep me on track, as any deadline is. I guess it doesn’t work any better now than it used to.

It’s All Because I Forgot To Buy Milk!

But the upside is, I met a friend at Re Cafe Nate and together we solved the problems of the world – well – at least our tiny part of it.

The only thing better than coffee, is coffee shared with a friend

Gotta go – need to go downtown and buy milk. Don’t want a repeat of today….

 

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What’s News?Letter – First Edition

What’s News?Letter – First Edition

My What’s News?Letter (first edition) is about to make its appearance on your computer or mobile device screen. Like all new ventures, I imagine the news will get better with time, so you’ll have to suffer through the teething problems with me. A snapshot of the life of a blogger (very broadly speaking) will unfold each week. Don’t forget to subscribe on the form at the bottom of the page.

Tragical History Tour – What happened last week?

The highlight of the past week was making contact with someone I met on my trip to New Zealand last September. Alexis was working at The Churchill restaurant in Wellington, and as usual, I couldn’t resist asking where her accent was from. Alexis hailed from Austin in Texas, so she affectionately became known as Alexis from Texas. I gave her my card and suggested she contact me when she made it across the ditch to Australia on her working holiday.

She did, and we met for lunch at Byron Bay. From there we arranged to meet in my home-town on Friday, and to have Alexis stay over for a night on her way to the Gold Coast. It was really nice to not only catch up, but to get to know Alexis better. She is an inspiration to all who consider travelling solo, no matter how young or old you are.

What’s News?Letter

Getting Down to Business – The Week Ahead

Plans for this week involve a reasonable amount of travel, and given how cold it is today, I’ll be grateful for the warmth of the car as I drive to the north side of Brisbane, mid-week.

Monday: COFFEE. Take some photos for an article I’m writing and spend at least a couple of hours actually writing the article.

Tuesday: COFFEE. More writing. Possibility of driving to the northern end of the Gold Coast to pick up a neighbour who may need a ride home. Pack for week away on the north side of  Brisbane. Watch ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ At 7.30pm on SBS – the only show I’m seriously following on my big screen TV – or any TV, actually.

Wednesday: COFFEE. Drive to the north side of Brisbane. Another coffee along the way – thank God for Drive Thru Coffee. Some writing (hopefully) when I get there. Unpack and settle in.

Thursday: COFFEE. Not sure what will be on the agenda, but I’m hoping it will be some down-time, coffee in hand, as I write from my favourite table at the Beach Shak. I’ll also factor in a walk along the beach (have you ever wondered how little exercise writer’s get?).

Friday: COFFEE. Same as Thursday – probably.

Weekend: COFFEEWatch This Space! No plans made, so anything could happen.

So that’s it, folks. My week, in a nutshell (nutshell – how appropriate!).

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Join my Day Through my What’s News?-Letter

Join my Day Through my What’s News?-Letter

The ‘What’s News?-Letter’ Idea Just Popped Into My Head

Ever wondered what a Blogger does each day? How they tackle the problem of writing – in an effort to fill the blank spaces on their blog site?

In one of those wondrous moments – somewhere between first-coffee-of-the-day and where-do-I-start? – I came up with the crazy notion this morning that I should write a weekly Newsletter. Don’t ask me where the idea came from, but there it was – looming large and urgent over me.

And what purpose will the newsletter serve?

  1. To paint a picture of a day in the life of a Blogger
  2. To keep on-track by highlighting in big, bold text what this blogger still needs hopes to achieve in any given week

Simple!

Well, maybe items 1 and 2 above should be reversed – after all, if the Blogger achieves number two, then anyone half-interested in what bloggers do all day will have a fairly good idea by reading what this blogger does to keep her sorry-self on track.

Having the brilliant idea is one thing, but fulfilling the details of the task on a consistently regular basis is something else.

Well, my goal for this year was to write more, so maybe this is a way of achieving that goal?

So hit the Subscribe button below, and join me on the ‘What’s News?-Letter’ posts that will unfold on this site – hopefully before each working week officially begins (mine starts on Mondays). Oh, and you won’t need to set aside a lot of time for reading – my weeks are not that busy – trust me.

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The Outer Layer Reflects My Wandering Soul

The Outer Layer Reflects My Wandering Soul

My Wandering Soul

I have wandered through my life with no particular plan, swayed by whatever seemed interesting at the time. Or tagged along with someone who was going somewhere – anywhere – I didn’t really care. My wandering soul, happy to be constantly moving, was wrapped in the outer layer of carefree colour.

The Gypsy in Me

I’ve branded my life ‘the gypsy approach’ and have dressed accordingly. Not in a conscious way – I just seemed to gravitate to the carefree colours that appealed to me at the time. And with reckless abandon I could adorn the colours of the rainbow, in a single outfit – none of which matched anything else at the time. Easy for me – hard on anyone who had to view me from the other side. My best friend would hold her breath until I arrived at her door, wondering what outlandish mis-match of colours I’d turn up in for an event that the average person would at least try to colour-coordinate for. It wasn’t that I didn’t care (although there was certainly an element of not caring), it was simply that the colours I chose to wear that day matched the mood I was in.

Across Town or Across the World

And I didn’t care too much about protocols either. I could spontaneously just pack up and move house; from across town – to across the world. Not exactly reassuring for anyone in my life who was ruled by consistency.

But, I have to admit, the administration role I had in the later years of my career reined me in a little bit – on weekdays – but let me loose again on weekends. My corporate uniform consisted of various shades of drab. Now that I’ve retired, every day is Saturday, and the spontaneity of my life that played out in the outer layers back then, is back.

The gypsy in me, and therefore my wandering soul, is alive and well.

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Coffee Therapy

Coffee Therapy

If We Were Having Coffee Right Now…..

… like we used to in the old days, we’d be wondering where the years have gone. Wasn’t it just yesterday we’d head to town right after work, order our coffee, and sit and dissect the day? What worked, what didn’t, and whose day was more stressful? By the time we’d finished our coffee the stress would have dissipated, leaving us with just the paperwork, to be completed before the dawn of another day. We’d talk about the planning and marking, printing and cutting. Extra work for those who finished early. Extra scaffolding for those who found tasks more difficult. And just enough for those labelled ‘average students’. And every piece of work marked, not just with a tick but with a comment or explanation – this is right because…; have you thought about….?; great example of ….

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But here we are, living thousands of miles apart. Our lives have taken different paths over the years and although we’ve kept in touch, it just isn’t the same as sitting in that cafe, sharing our thoughts, our joys, our sorrows, over a steaming hot coffee.

If we were having coffee right now, we’d be talking about those missing years. We’d talk about why I moved away to follow a dream, and why you stayed to follow yours. We’d talk about why you eventually moved as far south as I had north, putting more miles between us. We’d talk about the good times and the bad, the funny, the sad.

If We Were Having Coffee Right Now….

… the lost years would melt away and it would be as if we had never been apart, because that’s how it is with us. And that’s how it will always be. Our dreams may have changed, but we haven’t. The bonds of friendship are stronger than the ravages of time and distance.

If we were having coffee right now, we would be what we have always been – best friends – forever.

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The following is the response from my best friend, Kathie, who summed up our friendship more eloquently than I ever could:

If we were having coffee right now the lump in my throat would not be. We shared, we cared and we laughed and we cried, but most of all we supported each other throughout.

Our friendship is bound by love, trust and forgiveness and only grew in strength no matter the distance between us. If we were sharing a coffee right now we would remember and speak fondly of our childhood and aspirations. Our dreams of travelling fulfilled, but sadly never together – CIRCUMSTANCES.

Though both our lives are successful and happy, if we were sharing a coffee right now we could be tempted to discuss regrets, but I don’t think either of us regret our choices, or in any way the choices of each other, because we share a contentment only found in true friendship.

If we were sharing a coffee right now we would have already hugged, and relaxed into a familiar pattern as if no time or distance has gone before.

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