Monday, 26 August 2013

Many ways of feeling useful and useless - or perhaps being, on average, normal

Part 1

In Canberra I saw the Turner Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, which I enjoyed, but felt was somewhat underwhelming. and afterwards I had a pleasant lunch with a friend.

Yesterday my son took me to the Apple store, where I bought an iPad, and here I sit trying out this and that. There is a lot to learn and when I get back home I will book in for some more classes. It is amazing how readily the young adapt and learn these new technologies and how slowly and painfully the process is for me. I have yet to set up the means to buy the various apps but this can all be done once I am back home. I like the way it corrects my typing, though I have yet to discover whether you can use more than one finger. My beloved son is wonderfully helpful, and manages not to make me feel totally stupid. (But see below.)

The child care is going well, although my grandson's father dropped him off after the soccer game, and evidently did not realise, or think to double check that we were home - we were out buying the iPad and then enjoying celebratory gelati. When we arrived home, there was my poor grandson trying to get into the house.  We supposed that because my car was in the drive the father had assumed we were home, but I think he should have checked, and let me know overall how the game was.

I did have some problems with keys, and thus getting in and out of the house. The neighbour gave me his key, and was very helpful, and it does seem that the front door lock is rather tricky. Having checked it later when my daughter got home, she said that actually the key I was using was that of my other daughter's house!

Well, perhaps! But none of the other possibilities worked either and I do think it is a bodgie lock.

Apart from lacking elementary home security skills, I do claim not to be totally useless. I pulled up lots of weeds, including the energetic bindi, which grows hideous little prickles which get into the bare feet of the young, and pruned the roses. This does not necessarily confer any benefit to the rose plants, as I have never had any luck with growing roses. But they are now mostly pruned and all that now remains is for one of the inhabitants of the house to gather up the prunings and put them in the requisite rubbish bin. I also did some tidying, but would have liked another few days to organise all the toys. Having cast my discerning eyes around, I am now totally convinced that Lego breeds, and that it also subdivides.

And today is my daughter's birthday. The children and I went out to choose some birthday presents, (which was a far more pleasant activity than the way I spent much of the day X number of years ago. It was a very hard labour).

Part 2

The trip home was easy except for the last 15 minutes when some traffic disaster, the exact nature of which is unclear, slowed everything down to less than a crawl.

I am back home now, busy settling in, and having spent time working out how to use my wireless link to the iPad.

It kept asking me for a password. But password for what? Nobody prepared me for such a question. After uselessly trying the ISP and the Apple password, and then having spent quite some time on the telephone, it transpires that the password is that for the modem!  How was I supposed to know that?  And can you get it without having to ring Technical Support? Some one should write and publish  an Idiot's Guide to New Thingies.

I had to hand the computer over to Remote Control and then get talked through how to get the password entered. It is done now, but, as usual after such a bruising encounter with Modern Technology, I feel daunted, cross, hard done by, stupid, useless and very disgruntled. And, if you are supposed to enter a password when you connect a new device, how about someone tells you this? We are not all wonder kids, geeks, geniuses, or young. More's the pity.

My hairdresser has been and cut my hair, and I am going out to lunch tomorrow. Because of my commitment to look after my grandchildren, I could not sing in this weekend's concert, but never mind. I am sure it went well.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Off the air

In the last couple of weeks somehow or other the Muse has not been within cooee. Blank screens remained blank. Inspiration fled, but not so repetition. So unless I regale the ether with trivia and the minor vicissitudes of life, such as fainting while sitting up and chatting, I must turn to trivia. Or not.

Tomorrow I drive to Canberra to look after my grandchildren. It is some time since I have done this, so I hope standards have not slipped. I do get nervous about doing the insulin injections for my grandson. He is very good, though! Yesterday I had my tyres checked, the car is full of petrol, and all I have to do is pack, and take with me whatever might be necessary for my amusement and edification. There is an exhibition of Turner paintings at the National Gallery, and I hope to get to it on Friday, while the grandchildren are at school. I will take lots of things to crochet, my radio and a few books.

Regrettably, I seem to become less adept at things technological. How daunting. The other day I took my iPod into the Apple Store to complain that I could hear music from only one ear. The Genius tested it. Yes, he said, the sound comes only from one ear. The suggested remedies are expensive. My dear son has promised to accompany me to the Apple Store in Canberra and help me buy, and set up, an iPad. Then I must choose and buy apps. The few weeks remaining before my departure for the northern hemisphere are probably going to be devoted to technological learning and practice. And trying to pack with as few things as possible.

When I changed my ISP some months ago, I bought this thing called a T Hub. Now it tells me that something or other cannot be done unless I turn off Airplane.

But what is Airplane? I cannot find it anywhere on any of my 'devices'. Help was no help. It seems it will be necessary to telephone for support, and thus try to understand foreign accents.

There are times when it all seems too much. It is all very daunting. Here I sit bemoaning the vicissitudes of life instead of having fun at choir.

Just don't get me started on the election. and the football team I have supported since my childhood, albeit somewhat tepidly and intermittently, is now shown to be corrupt and users of illicit substances. I cannot support such a team. I renounce them.

But the moon is full, and beautiful, and Venus is slowly setting in the western sky. There is beauty and joy in the world.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The present and the future.

Tuesdays are usually quiet, and as such can be devoted to domestic matters. They can be quite absorbing, in their own way, and rather tedious in other ways. All that sorting!  The books have been re-arranged to the extent possible. What I need is more and better shelves, but in the meantime I am making do.

Last night I chucked out lots of the material from past Italian classes. Not having looked at most of it for more than ten years, it did seem time to put it all into the recycling bin. This afternoon I wrestled with word processing complexities and the complexities defeated me.  In addition I had to go out and sort out the minor problem of not having been sold the correct printer ink.

Tomorrow is busier. Italian in the morning, then lunch with a friend and then a computer lesson. I intend to buy an iPad and want to learn a bit about it before making the purchase.

We are in election mode. It is forecast to be a very close contest. The Murdoch press is very hostile towards the government, and presumably it has considerable influence. In my opinion their opinions are most detrimental to the body politics and stir up unjustified discontent and negativity. Nor do they give any extended coverage and analysis of the issues, let alone much in the way of facts, concentrating on personalities and trivialities, and distorting many issues. There are many issues complicated enough to make analysis and comprehension difficult.  To sort through all of these takes more time and effort than most people can or will make. And I include myself  in this category. Although I am trying to make up for this, after having spent the last couple of years preoccupied with my personal concerns. It is depressing, nevertheless, to see everything reduced to simplistic slogans.

When you see how good and decent so many people are, personally, it is awful to see such qualities being undermined through appeals to prejudice and fear. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Who does not believe in coincidences?

The choir's concerts are over. Thank goodness. Yesterday afternoon's performance fell apart. Bear in mind that in this piece the choir, offstage, sings for just over three minutes. The first minute was fine, but then it was lost. We could not hear each other, and nothing really worked. Our choral conductor was most upset, and rushed off in tears. We all went home. I consoled myself with a glass or two of wine. Singing such music in the dark, being unable to see the conductor, and being in a formation quite different to how we'd rehearsed did not help. And we are not accustomed to falling apart!

Anyway, after disasters, re-thinking occurs. Suddenly, it was decided we could sing in the room adjoining the stage with the lights on, instead of blue light and small torches, and we went back to the formation we had rehearsed in. This meant we could both see and hear each other. And this afternoon's performance went perfectly. But I am never ever ever going to sing this again. And I wonder, if it was ok to have the lights on today, why this could not have been done yesterday? Perhaps the answer is that truly talented mortals sometimes over-estimate the abilities of the ordinary person, such as your common garden chorister. Flattering, perhaps, but unwise.

Never mind. Such things keep one humble, and prevent smugness. Even if they make you shake and freak out, and give you nightmares.

This morning, to take my mind of matters musical, I went to the crochet clinic, and worked away at a couple of things, which have been as complicated and puzzling, in their own ways, as this wretched music by Holst. While we sat around working at our various projects, I described  yesterday evening's disaster. Another woman there turned out to be the first wife of the husband of one of my chorister mates. And her daughter lives a street or two away from me. Small world, eh! Such coincidences, arising so much by sheer chance, always amaze me.

Intermittently I have been re-arranging the books, and there is  more order and reason therein. Thus doth the little busy bee....

Thursday, 1 August 2013

How automatic pilot gets you to the wrong place

This is a very choral week. The women of the choir are singing in an orchestral concert, in a performance of Holst's The Planets, which, in the Neptune movement finishes with female voices. It is fiendishly difficult. I am just home from the dress rehearsal. The choir is offstage, and this meant standing in an adjoining room, lit by blue light, and being unable to see the conductor. The choral conductor did have a monitor, but it was blurry. Singing blindly is rather terrifying.

The choral part of this work is divided into two choirs, each with three parts,  Generally I sing first soprano, but I have been bunged into the middle line. I am no good at this, never having had to do it before, and fervently hoping it never happens again. It is written in 5/4 time. If I were not such a fine, noble, upstanding and diligent person, packed to the brim with moral fibre and feelings of obligation to the choir, I would have melted quietly away.  It will be good to get it all over and done with.

To get there tonight I set off cross country, and was not thinking clearly, as I forgot I was not going to our usual rehearsal venue, but to the concert hall. It was necessary to take a different route, unfamiliar in the dark, and I found myself driving around in unknown parts. I hate that. It really is time I did something about a GPS. Eventually I arrived and it did not matter being a bit late, as we all sat around for quite some time. The concert management provides chocolate biscuits for us. How kind. And we can get vouchers to reduce the amount we have to pay for parking.

Now that I am safely home, listening to Handel and drinking a glass of wine, I will search for a torch to take for the performances, and hope it is easier to read the music. I put highlighter on my part, and it came up luminous, but still illegible, under the blue light. Sigh.

Last week my bathroom tiles were re-grouted, at hideous expense. However some water is still escaping from the shower and I do not why. It is necessary to be assertive and to contact the firm and get them out here again. More sighs.

In between all these entertainments and diversions I am trying to get all my books and documents sorted out - and to keep them that way. I need more bookshelves. Or fewer books. And I cannot get around to making decisions about Dr P's old files, wondering whether the National Library would like them. And when I look at the wool stash, and the fabric stash, and calculate the maximum likely number of years likely to be left to me, I feel my efforts and abilities, not to mention my efficiency and determination, and lacking and what's more, actually dwindling.

Never mind. I intend to buy an iPad soon and to learn all about it before I leave for a month's holiday in September.

Keep at it, I say. Whatever IT happens to be!