The final countdown

For the past four years I’ve spent my Tuesday evenings tucked away in the studio of the Derwent Valley’s community radio station, TYGA FM, bringing back fabulous music from the 1980s that never really went away.

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I haven’t written much about my life in community radio, because there didn’t seem to be much connection between an 80s-music loving tragic and the world I write about here. However, today marks the end of my journey with community radio and it feels like a good time to reflect on where it’s taken me.

I never intended to be on air. It was Slabs’ thing. He was involved with the station from very early on in its life, helping to set it up in 2009. His Sunday evening show is one of the few original shows from 2009 still on air, and he was President for almost four years.

The story of how I came to be involved goes like this:

Slabs and Kramstable filled in for one of the other presenters when he was away for a few weeks, back in 2012. Kramstable loved this, and set himself up as a radio presenter at home. Slabs asked him if he wanted to do his own show, which he absolutely did, and so a couple of weeks before his sixth birthday he launched his show, which was then called Sunday Recess.

I wasn’t going to be outdone by a six-year-old, and I had this germ of an idea for a show of my own, which I developed during my daily walks. (This is where I get most of my ideas.) It was going to be a 1980s music show with a twist. Each week I’d feature an artist who had been successful in the 80s, but rather than look at their 80s material, I’d look at where they’d come from and what they’d become post their 80s career. So I’d take material from their previous bands, later spin-off bands, solo work, work they’d produced, cover versions of their material – whatever they’d done.

The original idea was that I’d play six to eight songs for each week’s feature artist and talk a bit about their history, then for the rest of the show I’d play a mixed bag of 80s tracks from all over the place.

And so it came to pass, and after three or four weeks in the TYGA FM Sandbox, which was our on-air training slot, I did my first show of Octogenarius on 25 September 2012. The first artist I looked at was Paul Kelly, because I could think of no one better than my favourite artist to launch the show. I loved it.

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Notes from my first show

My on-air persona was called Dolly Ringwald, obviously in honour of 80s poster child Molly Ringwald. Dolly may or may not be connected to Dolly Parton, but I don’t think I’ve played a single song of hers on the show.

Over time the format changed, and I started to fill the whole hour with material from the feature artist. This was great, because I could explore their career more fully, but it also started to take a lot of time to prepare. From a few jotted notes, I went to a typed script and a fully programmed playlist that was taking me four or five hours to prepare each week. This isn’t an amount of time that’s easy to find during a typical week, and it started to feel like a burden rather than something I was doing because I enjoyed it.

So rather than stop, I went from a structured show to a show where I played whatever took my fancy at the time. All from the 80s of course. I’d occasionally do a themed show: Hair metal, Pub rock, and a feature called “Dolly’s Diary” where I played tracks from artists who were born on that day. And a Eurovision show to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest each year. That was always fun.

A highlight was participating in the Women in Community Radio Program in 2014,  which involved managing a small project at the station and presenting a report to the national Community Broadcasting Association Conference. This was a fantastic opportunity, and I met some fabulous women in the sector who are out there doing great things! And the project I did has links to what I’ll be doing a bit later in my #steppingonthecracks project, so I feel like I’m not completely abandoning this part of my life.

But although it’s great to be on the radio, in the past 12 months or so I’ve been feeling that it’s not working for me.

I’m not putting the effort into the show that I think it deserves. I don’t feel passionate about turning up each week and throwing some songs on. I want it to be more than that, but right now there are other things that are more important to me than researching a new show each week. I’ve increasingly been feeling like if I can’t give the show the attention that I want to, then maybe it’s time to step away.

I’d been reluctant to say anything about this because it’s been something that we’ve all been involved in for so long that I felt like I’d be letting the team down if I quit. I know this isn’t the case, and my decisions are my own, but it’s how I’ve felt. Realistically I probably should have done this 12 months ago, but I have enjoyed having a double life and revisiting musical memories from my teenage years. But recently a couple of planets have aligned, and I’ve finally, belatedly, felt able to the plunge. Or jump out of the frypan. Or something.

So tonight is my final show. I have mixed emotions about this because I’m still enjoying doing the show – it’s just that the spark isn’t there.

There are some songs that lend themselves to my final playlist. The Final Countdown by Europe comes to mind, as this was the very last song that was played on Countdown. But if my timing’s right, my last song will be the very first one I played on my first show back in September 2012.

Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me and given me the opportunity to have this experience. It’s been fun.

If you feel that way inclined, you can listen to my final show on 98.9 Tyga FM in Tasmania at 8.00 pm tonight or livestream it.

And I think I’ll keep Dolly alive for now, at least in social media so @octogenarius lives, as does TYGA FM-Octogenarius.

And for the history of Octogenarius and play lists look no further than my AMRAP page. And that’s it.

I’ll miss all this, but I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and for the chance to take what I’ve learned forward into my next adventure.

12 of 12 March 2016 – Part 2

Part 1 of this post, in which I try to get into the habit of an earlier bedtime, is here.

The story continues . . .

I decided that, even though I wasn’t feeling so good, I’d get up and go for a walk this morning. Slabs suggested I sleep in and walk later in the day. While the idea sounded good, I didn’t think this was going to work because it’s cooler earlier in the day and walking in the heat* is likely to have tired me out more. And that’s assuming I’d be able to muster up the energy to get out of the house later. I find it much easier to get my walks out of the way first thing, before I get caught up in everything else I’m doing during the day.

2 of 12: I did sleep in. A bit. For me. By the time I got up and out of the house it was light, so I decided to wander along the walking track, which I can’t often do because it’s too dark most days when I get up.

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3 of 12: I took it easy. No 16 km walks this morning. 30 minutes was about 3000 steps, and I was grateful for the park benches dotted along the walking track, as I needed a rest by this point. This meant that I’d need to do seven lots of 30 minutes to reach my target. This sounded like a lot at 7am, but I was confident it was doable if I rested up in between.

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4 of 12: These signs are quite new. I can’t figure out if the council retro-fitted the dog poo stickers or if someone who was sick of stepping in poo go the shits and stuck the stickers onto the signs themselves.

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5 of 12: The river looking very peaceful this morning.

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I cut my normal route a bit short because I was getting tired and my walk was taking longer than normal. See! I’m not pushing myself.

6 of 12: I used some of my walking time to catch up on my French lessons on Duolingo, which I’d recently started again after a long absence. I followed the principle of making a new habit as easy as possible to do, so I reduced my daily goal to one lesson, which is possible to slot in almost anywhere in my day. I’ve generally tried to do it first thing after dropping Kramstable at school on my way to work. So if you see me walking along hunched over my phone in the morning I’m not on Twitter (probably). I’ll be learning French.

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After breakfast it was time to take Kramstable to swimming. An ideal opportunity to fit in two of those 30 minute walks I need to do. While it’s not the most pleasant and relaxing walk, as it’s mainly along main roads, it’s a good way to get us both moving.

The thing that struck me, as it did last week when we had to walk because Slabs needed the car, was how many cars went past and how few people were walking anywhere – I could count them on one hand each time. Most of the people that were walking were walking dogs rather than looking like they were walking to somewhere for a purpose.

As I watched the never-ending stream of cars go past, I wondered how many people were driving because it was quicker and easier than walking. After all, most people are busy, and taking an hour out of your day to walk to somewhere you could drive to and back in ten minutes is a big chunk of your day. Unless I’ve had no car, I’ve always jumped in the car and driven to swimming. It’s so much easier, I can leave a lot later and I have more time at home to do stuff like checking Twitter. I mean vacuuming the floors.

(What followed here was a ramble about the time needed to walk, slowing down, using the time as one-on-one time with Kramstable, environmental concerns about using the car for short trips. Followed by the eventual realisation that if I get up at the same time, walk for an hour less in the morning and walk to swimming instead I’ll still have the hour I would have saved by driving, plus all the other benefits. I’ll save all that for paspresentfuture: the director’s cut.)

8 of 12: Kramstable had a good swimming lesson.

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9 of 12: While we were up the street today we noticed someone had tried to set fire to the community notice board. Nice one.

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Also up the street, we learned some new roundabout etiquette where you indicate you’re going left before you even get onto the roundabout, and then go straight, confusing the hell out of people who are trying to cross the road. A change from the usual “indicate right when you’re going straight” crowd.

10 of 12: Washing day for the leggings!

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11 of 12: Today’s leggings. Today’s step count: 21,406. Two days to go. I might just make it.

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12 of 12: I made lasagna tonight. This is one of my favourite epic dishes that takes all afternoon to prepare. So you know that I’m not overdoing things, I had a rest first. And I went to bed early.

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* By heat I mean anything above about 18 degrees when the sun is shining. The sun here is burny and melty, and saps my energy every time I go outside, regardless of the actual temperature. I’m told the sun is more intense in Tasmania than in other places, and I find it to be really uncomfortable to be outside in. I hate walking in the sun.

Walk in her shoes – Day 1

Day 1 of Walk In Her Shoes. It’s finally here!

I got up at an hour that most people would be fast asleep (this is becoming my new normal anyway so I can get things done in the morning that I’d never do if I slept later, but that’s for another time).

I started doing a form of meditation about three months ago, which is where you focus on your breath. I do that first thing after I get up. I’m really good at it. True. I can get to three breaths before I’m distracted with thoughts that I get carried away with for several minutes until I realise I’ve lost focus and go back to the breathing. For three more breaths, until the thoughts creep back in again.

I’m so good at sitting still sometimes my Fitbit doesn’t register that I’m awake and records my meditation time as sleep.

I know right!

I digress. I’m talking about walking.

I went for a 30 minute walk this morning in the cold and dark. Woohoo. It was really cold this morning. Like thick leggings, two jumpers and woolly socks cold. It had warmed up by lunch time, which was when I decided to go for a walk. I had to change into something more suitable and realised that, as it was my work at home day, I could have reshuffled my hours and walked earlier in the morning. But no, I had to pick the hottest part of the day.

I walked to the Esplanade and walked the walking track past Tynwald Park and back to The Avenue, which is the opposite way I usually do that track. I remembered the reason why as I climbed the eleven million steps to the top of the hill.

20160308 WIHS Combo 1

I made a couple of Periscope videos as well. I thought I might do that for a few of my walks this week. Not sure if I can post any of them on here. I will if I can work out how to do it. Otherwise I’ll post them on my very active and well-known Facebook page.

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The other end of the walking track – open space to be sold off for development; the nearby community food garden; and Willow Court Barracks

I was still about 5,000 steps short when I got home, which I eventually knocked off this evening when, thankfully, it was cooler.

So Day 1 is down and I’ve met my step goal on what was always going to be one of the most challenging days, so I’m happy with that.

Like I did last year, I’m going to wear different leggings each day for a bit of fun. Here’s what I wore today.

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I have a couple of new pairs to try out over the week. I’m spoiled for choice.

Looking forward to tomorrow.

12 of 12 November 2015

Thursday. Work day. Early start day, though it seems like there have been more early start days than not lately.

1 of 12 – Showers were forecast. They arrived.

1 of 12 - Umbrella

1 of 12 – Umbrella

2 of 12 – Yesterday’s haul of letters seeking further donations from charities I have donated to. Now attempting to get off their mailing lists.

2 of 12 - Mailing Lists

2 of 12 – Mailing Lists

3 of 12 – 3.10 pm. Still raining.

3 of 12 - Still raining

3 of 12 – Still raining

4 of 12 – Knopwoods Retreat. It’s closing down next month. It’s not closing down. It isn’t closing down but it won’t be Knopwoods.

4 of 12 - Knopwoods

4 of 12 – Knopwoods

5 of 12 – Appointment with my wonderful massage therapist, who, my neck and shoulders have been urgently informing me, I haven’t been seeing nearly enough.

5 of 12 - Massage

5 of 12 – Massage

6 of 12 – This was a car park. It was going to be an apartment building and car park. That’s all come to a screaming halt and it’s going to be a car park again.

6 of 12 - Carpark

6 of 12 – Carpark

7 of 12 – Post-massage drink at Preachers.

7 of 12 - Preachers

7 of 12 – Preachers

8 of 12 – 173 Macquarie Street. This was my dentist’s former office. I thought it was going to be done up and extended as part of a new hotel that was going to be built. It’s actually been demolished.

8 of 12 - 173 Macquarie

8 of 12 – 173 Macquarie

9 of 12 – Tour of the town time. The main street has its Xmas flags up. I used to get annoyed by Xmas stuff being around in shops and everywhere in October and November. I no longer care. It’s not important. Whatever floats your boat.

9 of 12 - Xmas

9 of 12 – Xmas

10 of 12 – McDonalds. This used to be a historic hedge that had to be retained as part of the conditions of approval of the development. It is now neither historic nor a hedge.

10 of 12 - Historic hedge is no more

10 of 12 – Historic hedge is no more

20151112-10B HIstoric Hedge is no more11 of 12 – The old timber yard. Still concretey.

11 of 12 - Timber Yard

11 of 12 – Timber Yard

20151112-11B Timber Yard12 of 12 – Dinner out. Just because.

12 of 12 - Dinner

12 of 12 – Dinner

12 of 12 September 2015

A boring Saturday at home. The first day of my “let’s try getting up earlier and doing some things I have to do in the morning instead of lazing around and then having to rush out the door at swimming time because I couldn’t be bothered having breakfast and getting dressed until 10 minutes before we had to leave, and having all the things not done at the end of the day.”

20150912-02 Early morningThat seemed to go well.

1 of 12 – It’s been a cold winter. Really cold. Just lately there have been signs it’s coming to an end, but we all know that this is just a teaser before we’re plunged back into freezing temperatures. But for the next couple of days, it’s going to be really nice. Forecast top today: 20 degrees, actual top: 22 degrees. Quite a contrast with where we’ll be in two weeks.

1 of 12

1 of 12

2 of 12 – Juniordwarf volunteered to make us coffee this morning. He used to do it all the time a couple of years ago but fell out of the habit. Unfortunately the coffee machine goes through temperamental phases, which makes coffee very hit and miss. Today was one of those days.

2 of 12

2 of 12

3 of 12 – One of the things Juniordwarf does is help make breakfast when we have eggs. Now that the chooks are laying again, we’ve got a good supply. Fresh eggs, sautéed kale and my favourite bread from Pigeon Whole. Nice way to start the day. And yes, I do have my breakfast on Juniordwarf’s “Bunnykins” plate.

3 of 12

3 of 12

4 of 12 – I had to prune back this boronia (I think) bush because it was in the way of me being able to see where the chooks are. By “prune” I means chopping off anything in my line of vision. Note to self: clean kitchen window.

4 of 12

4 of 12

5 of 12 –Swimming lesson day.

5 of 12

5 of 12

Remember a couple of months ago when I didn’t have anything to take photos of so I went for a walk around town. (It was actually May) Here are some updates.

6 of 12 – Not so much an update as something totally new. This building has been a couple of restaurants since we’ve been here, but has been empty for several years. Looks like it will be back in use again soon.

6 of 12

6 of 12

7 of 12 – Lees Corner. The old site of Banjo’s, the lolly shop and Sintonic, which burnt down in 2012, and has sat unused since. They are now making it into a small park until the owners decide what to do with it. The work started in May. Apparently it was supposed to be finished by the end of May.

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7 of 12

8 of 12 – Happy springtime!

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8 of 12

9 of 12 – Old cottage, meet new hardware store. Bad luck if you want any light. In May this was the site of lots of puddles and diggers. It used to be the site of old fruit packing sheds.

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9 of 12

10 of 12 – Anyone want to buy an old supermarket?

10 of 12

10 of 12

11 of 12 – This is the latest addition to the Willow Court site – new gates in front of the old Barracks. (I know. It’s been there several months. There are conflicting opinions on the suitability of this style for a historic site.)

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11 of 12

12 of 12 – We are very lucky to be able to have Two Metre Tall Beer-fed Beef delivered to our front door.

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12 of 12

12 of 12 May 2015

Better late than never . . .

Today was forecast to be a day of wild weather, with severe weather warnings left right and centre.

I was home today, which meant I had to make sure the fire stayed alight, that the buckets were under the right place in the laundry to catch the drips and that the chickens didn’t get eaten by feral cats. Actually I don’t think the feral cats were out today. They’re all in cavity between the dining room floor and my study ceiling. At least that’s what it sounds like. That or an actual person is in there. Maybe an escapee cannibal convict. Just my luck.

1 of 12 – I imagine that 59 k/h gust of wind is what woke me up at stupid o’clock, after a night it took me hours to actually get to sleep.

Wind gust. Thanks.

Wind gust. Thanks.

2 of 12 – All the warnings.

20150512-02 Current weather3 of 12 – The main street reflected in Flywheel’s window. I wish they were open on Tuesdays!

20150512-03 Flywheel4 of 12 – This is the former Woolworths supermarket. Something is going on in here. I’ve heard rumours, but I don’t know.

20150512-04 Old Woolies5 of 12 – It was replaced by this.

20150512-05 New Woolies6 of 12 – The old timber yard and dry cleaner and café have been demolished to make way for a hardware store, garden centre and 52 car car park.

20150512-06B Timber Yard7 of 12 – The other side. A big puddle and some diggers.

20150512-07A Timber Yard8 of 12 – You know how you go into second-hand and antique shops and you see stuff you used to have in your house when you were a kid? I present this example.

20150512-08 Antique Shop9 of 12 – This was The Spud Hut for a couple of months, with local veggies. It’s been closed since Anzac Day when their front window was smashed, and they’ve decided not to re-open their retail outlet.

20150512-09 Closed10 of 12 – The old site of Banjo’s, the lolly shop and Sintonic, which burnt down in 2012 and has sat unused since. They are now making it into a small park until the owners decide what to do with it. The work started last week and it’s meant to be open by the end of the month.

20150512-10 Lees Corner11 of 12 – I’m trialling a new notebook setup before I commit to buying another Midori-style book.

20150512-11 Notebook12 of 12 – I bought this very funky purple screw-on desk lamp a couple of weeks ago so that I can see what I’m doing when I’m cultbooking.

20150512-12 Desk Light

12 of 12 April 2015

Today was the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival, which is one of the biggest events held in the Valley each year.

The weather forecast wasn’t sensational, but there wasn’t any rain or wind forecast, so we had everything crossed that it would be a nice day. It was a chilly 7 degrees in the morning when we woke up, and by the time Juniordwarf and I arrived at the festival just before 10.00 it was 11 degrees. I wished I’d worn some more layers, as the day’s top was only 15. At least it didn’t rain!

1 of 12 - Pre-show selfies

1 of 12 – Pre-show selfies

Juniordwarf and I were scheduled to do a half-hour slot on our community radio station’s outside broadcast from the festival at 10.00 but, due to circumstances beyond our control, we ended up doing the whole hour until 11.00 – which is Juniordwarf’s normal timeslot on the radio, but today he’d been looking forward to getting off early and looking round the festival, so he was a bit irritable during the second half hour.

2 of 12 - On air (thanks to one of our lovely volunteers for taking the photo)

2 of 12 – On air (thanks to one of our lovely volunteers for taking the photo)

He’d been eyeing off this climbing maze from where we’d been sitting, so that was the first place he went to.

3 of 12 - Kid heaven

3 of 12 – Kid heaven

20150412-13 Climbing maze

$5 to play for as long as you like, though I’m not sure it means you get to abandon your child there while you go and explore the rest of the festival. Thankfully I had another responsible adult (Juniordwarf’s grandmother) with me, so I could run off and do a couple of things I needed to get done while he was having fun.

4 of 12 - This looked like fun

4 of 12 – This looked like fun

There was heaps of stuff to do and see and eat and drink.

We bought chocolate wheel tickets.

5 of 12 - Lions Chocolate Wheel

5 of 12 – Lions Chocolate Wheel

We won nothing.

We checked out the local railway society’s display.

6 of 12 - Derwent Valley Railway

6 of 12 – Derwent Valley Railway

Juniordwarf lined up very patiently for a long time to go on this attraction. I know it’s heaps of fun for the kids, but it always seems weird to hand your child over to a complete stranger who then seals them inside an oversized beach ball!

7 of 12 - Juniordwarf getting blown up inside a beach ball

7 of 12 – Juniordwarf getting blown up inside a beach ball

7 of 12 - Who knew rolling around in over-sized beach balls could be so much fun!

8 of 12 – Who knew rolling around in over-sized beach balls could be so much fun!

9 of 12 - Lots of people

9 of 12 – Lots of people

One of the new features of the festival this year was the Taste of the Valley, where local producers talked about their produce. We were treated to a lesson in making beef stock and sauce by the fabulous Ashley from Two Metre Tall.

9 of 12 - Our favourite mad scientist brewer makes beef stock

10 of 12 – Our favourite mad scientist brewer makes beef stock

I thought the raspberries had finished for the season and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of them at Westerway Raspberry Farm’s stall (probably should have taken the picture before I started eating them).

10 of 12 - Raspberries

11 of 12 – Raspberries

We bought soap from the lovely Veronica from Veronica Foale Essentials and her able assistant Kim, who was SUPER HELPFUL!

11 of 12 Soap by Veronica

12 of 12 Soap by Veronica

Unfortunately I missed out on seeing the snakes this year. They are usually a highlight for me, but we didn’t get there before they packed up.

Just before we started getting ready to leave, Juniordwarf wanted to take the camera for a while. So as a special bonus, here’s 12 of 12 from the festival from Juniordwarf’s perspective (slightly cropped but otherwise as he saw it).

It was interesting to see the things that caught his eye. I think I should let him do this more often!

1 of 12 – That looks pretty good.

20150412-02 Autumn Festival

2 of 12 – Cute car

20150412-04 Autumn Festival - Wine Car

3 of 12-  Jane from Two Metre Tall in action

20150412-05 Autumn Festival - Jane

4 of 12 – Pat from Tynwald Estate with some of their Wessex Saddleback ham.

20150412-08 Autumn Festival - Tynwald

5 of 12 – Jam from Westerway Raspberry Farm

20150412-10 Autumn Festival - Berries

6 of 12 – A random festival goer enjoying a Forester Ale from Two Metre Tall

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7 of 12 – Veronica and her able assistant Kim and a lot of yummy soap

20150412-16 Autumn Festival - Kim and Veronica

8 of 12 – Big Red Box

20150412-17 Autumn Festival - Big Red Box

9 of 12 – A very large dog (he cut its nose off)

20150412-19 Autumn Festival - Dog

10 of 12 – Some coats.

20150412-20 Autumn Festival - Coats

11 of 12 – Wandering players

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12 of 12 – One of the four entertainment stages

20150412-27 Autumn Festival - Band