Monday, 31 December 2007

A quiet one

New year's eve is a weird time. I always feel this pressure to Do Something, as though I'm somehow a total loser if I'm not doing something on new year's eve. Maybe you agree with that consensus. Don't get me wrong - I love a good party, I love fireworks, I love being with friends. But I don't like feeling forced to do it.

I did have plans for tonight. Jake, Jackie and I were going to have a picnic and watch the fireworks, but that plan fell through for various reasons. I could go to a party at my godmother's place in Hillsdale, which has a view of the city, but the people who will be there (aside from my mother and godmother) aren't people I really feel like talking to. I'm still feeling a bit sick and have a very sore back from lying on the cold, damp ground at the Moonlight Cinema last night (we saw Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End, which I greatly enjoyed - despite Orlando Bloom (he didn't have a huge amount of screen time, thankfully)).

So I've decided to have a quiet new year's eve. I anticipate that I'll probably feel a bit sad at some point in the evening; reflecting on the year, it has been a bit of a hard slog, for me and many of my friends. Just saw a 'recap of 2007' clip on the ABC news and I just wanted to cry - it's been an awful year in the world too.

But I am actually quite pleased to be on my own tonight, and just doing what I want to do - not spending a lot of money, not getting drunk, not being exhausted, not being stuck in the city and desperately wanting to get home. There will be plenty of other big new year's eves in the future.

I hope you have a wonderful night, whatever you're doing, and that 2008 is a much better year.

late entries to the darwin awards for 07?

Just came back from a pleasant lunch at Coogee with Jake, Jackie and mum. It's an absolutely gorgeous summer day, not too hot though, and we wandered down along the promenade, watching all the pale, pale people roasting in the sun, some already bright red. The surf was huge and sandy and vicious looking, yet there were many people in it, some even jumping off the rocks at the far north end of the beach.

It must be so exasperating being a lifeguard; we heard the following announcement delivered in weary tones over the PA system:

"As you are more than well aware, there are no flags due to the dangerous conditions. The beach is closed. If you are swimming, you are an idiot."

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Sufjan Stevens makes excellent writing music

Yesterday the Uns and the Beilharzes came around for Boxing Day lunch and trifle (which seemed to be much appreciated by all). Unfortunately, Ben and Karen had to leave for other engagements, but we had a pleasant cup of tea together before they had to go. Guan and Mary showed me the delights of We Love Katamari, an insane Japanese PS2 game that is pointless and yet extremely addictive (as so many pointless things are), with a nutty Japanese-pop soundtrack which G and M sweetly sang along to as I played. They left to pack for their trip to New Zealand, and I had a worsening headache so had to go and lie down.

I made some turkey and sweet potato pasties with the last of the Christmas leftovers, and mum and I had a glass of wine and watched the rest of the North & South DVDs Kiz had loaned me. I rather enjoyed it in the end, although the first two episodes had me grumbling that Elizabeth Gaskell had obviously been studying Pride and Prejudice a little too closely, but seeing as I've never actually read any Gaskell I could be completely off with that judgement. Still, nothing quite like a quiet night in with a bonnet drama, I must say.

Today Karen and I had the first of many (hopefully!) city days. We met at the Tea Centre at 10.00 and wrote for a couple of hours, while enjoying banana bread, turkish bread, various teas and Sufjan Stevens as a very good writing soundtrack (I wrote 13 pages, hurrah). We left and wandered down to Allan's Music, which had a 20% off sale, so K bought up a bunch of film/musical theatre scores and I bought the piano score for the last Pride and Prejudice film. Then on to King's Comics, where we saw many things we would like to buy but we were restrained and only got one thing each (I got Johnny Hiro: half Asian, all hero, which I thought would be a lot funkier than it was). And then finally to Kinokuniya, where miraculously I didn't buy anything, but Karen bought half the shop with her Christmas money (how satisfying!).

We had lunch at Sakura on Pitt St (gyoza and miso soup for me), and chatted some more. We discovered we had a mutual friend from completely unrelated circles, which is always kind of freaky, and I shared with Karen some of the big things that have happened to me in my life. It's always funny when you get to that point in friendships; you've shared lots of the day to day stuff, and the ongoing stuff, and the new memories you are creating together, but there comes a time when you have to decide whether you're going to tell them all those things from your past that make you who you are today, whether good or bad. I guess some people choose to keep them hidden, or are very selective about what they tell, but I figure it's all part of my testimony. All the bad stuff (as well as the good) has been part of God's plan for shaping me, for bringing me back to him, and although it is painful I don't think I'm less of a person for having gone through those things.

Having said that, I do have to be choosy about when and who I tell certain things to. Some people might not ever be ready to hear it, some people might never be close enough to me to hear it. And I'm certainly not going to go into detail about it on the internet! But I was glad I told Karen - hope it wasn't too much to hear.

Karen went to meet Ben for a movie at the Dendy Newtown, and I wandered around the city to buy the last few things I needed, then caught the bus home feeling sick, strange and melancholy. Once home, unable to shake it, I went out into the garden and dug up weeds for an hour. I'm discovering that this is excellent therapy for those down moods, it gives you a useful activity to do while your brain is processing whatever is making you feel down, rather than just lying around or mooching on the net. Also Scout is so much fun in the garden, attacking bugs and leaping in the air in an attempt to catch birds twice her size which are, of course, flying metres overhead.

And now, it's bedtime.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas that was

We had a lovely, quiet Christmas day. Mum likes to have a cast of thousands, and I know what she means; there is a certain joyousness to having loads of family and friends round at Christmas. But, quite frankly, Nic and I were glad it was just the three of us as it meant we could just relax, enjoy one another's company, and there was no stress or fuss.

Mum and I went to church in the morning, then came home to prepare. Mum cooked while I picked my brother up, then we had drinks and present opening and lazing around in my hammock...oh, I'll just let you look at the pics.

Our beautiful Christmas table, with candles from the Baddeleys.

This is my brother enjoying my Christmas presents - my hammock and my cat. He was very impressed with both - and I discovered after lunch that the hammock is very comfortable to nap in. Though ever so slightly disconcerting when the cat makes flying leaps onto you every so often.

Well you can't quite see the food, but there was a delectable feast of roast turkey, roast potato, pumpkin and sweet potato, beans and peas and lots of gravy. Even after we'd finished the meal, there was enough left for an entire other meal. Guess what we're having for lunch today?

Can't tell we're at all related, can you?

Nic and mum
My very regal cat, draped in her royal colours, having conquered the Christmas crackers.

Mum has a well-deserved rest with a glass of champers (I think we were watching Babe at this point)

The last evidence of my gingerbread house before the yearly tradition that is...

...Gingerbread House demolition! (It was very tasty)

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Christmas conversations

We've had glorious food today. Turkey, roast vegies, a delicious pudding, lovely champagne. We were just talking about what to eat next and I said "Bubble and squeak?"

"What, you mean British fried rice?" Nic drawled from his position on the couch. "They always take everything occidental and make it oriental, or vice versa. For example, san choy bow? Tacos."

Oh I love my brother.

Monday, 24 December 2007

less misanthropy, more thankfulness

I was going to write a post about all the things that irritated me today. I was feeling very misanthropic when I was out and about this afternoon.

But I came home and dug in the garden for a couple of hours, had a delicious dinner prepared by my lovely mother, and instead I decided to post photos of three things I am thankful for:

My tomato plants, which now have got tomatoes on them! (I know, that seems logical, but I was starting to doubt whether they would be a success. I keep planting things and pouring a lot of energy into the garden, but with very little method or science...and I am constantly impressed and surprised by how awesome it is to see things grow and flower and produce (God is pretty clever).)

My kitten, Scout, who continually makes me smile, even if she is a total dimwit. I suppose dimwittery is a kitten's prerogative. She is absolutely hilarious, especially when hunting bugs or helping me weed. She's less hilarious when she's pulling things off the Christmas tree or climbing up the flyscreen, but then, everything's an adventure to a kitten and in that spirit I have to commend her.

My mother's Christmas trifle. There was a minor glimmer of doubt as to whether we needed trifle, given that on Christmas day it's just going to be me, mum and Nick at lunch, we already have a Christmas pudding, and Nick isn't traditionally a dessert person. But when she learned that I had invited the Beilharzes and the Uns over for boxing day lunch and upon the merest mention of trifle, Ben had said "I'll be there!" mum gleefully set about making her annual masterpiece.

I hope wherever you are that you're having a peaceful and restful Christmas Eve.

free hugs

If you live in Sydney, you may have come across the Free Hugs guy in Pitt Street Mall. I just downloaded his Illustrated Guide to Free Hugs - it's a lovely little e-book, very nicely put together and made me cry a couple of times. Something a little uplifting and sweet to read before Christmas.

Though I have to admit, I'd be unlikely to hug a Free Hugger. But I like what he's doing, and from his stories, it's obvious that many, many people are lonely and just...need a hug.

I'm glad I've got my mum; she gives the best hugs.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Tis the what, again? I forget.

This time of year is always a bit funny. It's Christmastime. We're busy. We're busy because it's Christmastime. But we're too busy being busy to actually reflect on anything other than what time we have to be at the next engagement. And I'm not even talking about all the shopping-mad people clogging the city. I'm talking about me.

It's not for want of church activities. You'd think amongst the dinners and gingerbread house making and carols by candlelight and weekly services that I would have time to think about Jesus. Because, after all, I wouldn't be doing those things if it wasn't because I was celebrating his birth, right?

And yet, somehow that all slips by the wayside. What songs are we singing? What food are we bringing? What colour paper will I print the handout on? Do we have any sound equipment? Do we have time for a rehearsal? This is important but I just haven't got the energy to do it right; this'll have to do...

Nerves fray, tempers flare, bodies shut down.

Yay, it's Christmas!

I think there is something very wrong with being so overcommitted that I can't even pray or read the Bible or remember what the sermon was about at church. I am hoping and praying that I will be able to set good boundaries at my new church, that I will be able to get involved after I take some time to settle in, but that I will learn how to say no to things, and that I will use that extra 'space' to do the jobs I have to do well, instead of half-baked. Nobody likes half-baked.

I also pray that I will be able to take some time over the next couple of days, now that most of my commitments have been fulfilled, to think, pray, read my Bible, reflect and just get back in sync with a spirit of thankfulness, humility and praise to our glorious God for the gift of his dear Son.

Friday, 21 December 2007


I think the lack of sleep has finally caught up with me, although it's taken most of the day, so I guess that's a good thing. I got a sum total of two hours' sleep last night. At about 4.45am I wondered whether it would have been more prudent to just get up and go to work, but then realised that was quite insane.

So after my extensive rest, I managed to go to work, managed to finish my Christmas shopping at Bondi Junction Westfield, managed to get lost in Bondi Junction Westfield, managed to not have a car accident on the way home and managed to lie on my bed. Now I am feeling like having a very big cry.

I'm definitely tired. Think I should put on my pjs and watch Grey's Anatomy.

But hey - I'm on holidays!!!
Why am I still awake?!!!!

Can't sleep. Clown'll eat me.

Welcome to my mind at 1am when I'm trying to go back to sleep.
  • I wonder why that angelhair pasta from DJs is disagreeing with me. It tasted delicious at the time.
  • I think I should try to work hydroponic tomatoes and the biosphere into my fantasy story. I wonder if the biosphere still exists and if so, I wonder if you can see it in Google Earth. I wonder what would happen if they built one in Australia...everyone would probably think it was stupid.
  • I must remember to buy an e-card from Tear for dad and Janice...I wonder if they appreciate the idea behind it, or if they don't get it. Did I get dad the goat or the toilet last year? I can't remember.
  • I can't wait for holidays. I hope I don't waste them. Is there such a thing as wasted holiday? If you're not at work, surely that's all good?
  • Must set dates with Karen for city days, for Tea Centre and Kinokuniya and AGNSW and other such things. Maybe we should try to do that more regularly even outside the holidays.
  • I hope Guan decides to make that short film soon.
  • I think I need to get up for some Alka-Seltzer.
  • Do I want to go on my brother's birthday cruise on Sunday or not? Is it selfish to decline because I won't know anyone and don't really want to be stuck on a boat with drunk people for four hours? Or should I push myself out of my comfort zone because it will make my brother and his girlfriend happy? A cruise would be fun. I might have fun. I don't think I want to get drunk.
  • I wish I could go back to sleep.
  • I wonder whether the Baddeleys are in labour yet or not.
  • Ooh - in my fantasy story, Wolf can go from being a jovial boss to being a really nasty, embittered kind of man. How do I tie that in with hydroponic tomatoes?
  • Maybe I should get up. If I blog this train of thought will people just switch off?
  • I should have a card-making day. Maybe I should paint.
  • Oh I can go and buy nail polish tomorrow. And stones for the garden and maybe some more petunias for that bit that I just weeded this afternoon.
  • Why can't I go to sleep? I think I'll get up.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

not much to report

  • still sick
  • cat still insane
  • got car serviced yesterday and as I drove into town to pick mum up from work, car engine stopped and refused to restart. Had to get the garage guy to come back and tow it back to the garage.
  • almost holidays
  • need to sleep.

Monday, 17 December 2007


exercise in futility, originally uploaded by the procrastinatrix.

She's either a total technokitty or a luddite - every time I sit down at the computer, Scout jumps up and deposits herself either on the laptop, obscuring the screen, on the keyboard, producing gibberish in whatever I am writing, or on the rollerball, which makes it kind of hard to use it for its intended purpose. Pushing her off seems to have little to no deterring effect.

But we're having lots of fun so far! She's totally mental and also very sweet.

In other news, I have developed a stupid cold and have been in bed most of the weekend, venturing out only to go to things like church and carols by candlelight, where I was playing piano. As mum said, it's horrible getting a cold in winter, but it seems almost worse in summer somehow.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

meet Scout.

Today we went to the Cat Protection Society. We were led into a sort of atrium filled with all kinds of scratching posts and rugs and things for kittens to play with, and we were then introduced to the kittens. We spent about half an hour getting to know them, watching them rumble with one another and just generally admiring their unbelievable cuteness. I crouched down next to one, who immediately put her head on my arm and then got up and climbed into my lap. Meant to be! They say the cat chooses you and I think she most certainly did.

So we adopted her and brought her back to the house. They said that you should give the new kitten plenty of time to acclimatise to the new house, and that they might be a bit freaked out by the newness of it all. But no sooner had I let her out of the box than she was checking everything out, making herself at home and just scampering around the place.

So after much deliberation and many rejections, we've decided to call her Scout, both for her investigative abilities, but also because of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird:
Jean Louise "Scout" Finch is the protagonist and narrator of the story. When the story opens she is six years old and about to start school (first grade); when it ends she is eight and is in third grade. She is a tomboy and an avid reader, and unlike many other children of her age, is literate before she enters school, having been taught by Calpurnia, the black cook and housekeeper of the Finch household, and Scout's father, Atticus. She also has a temper when it comes to people making fun of her or her father. She enjoys playing with her brother Jem and friend Dill Harris. She is very close with her father and is interested in becoming a lawyer just like he is. Throughout the novel she matures and finally understands Boo Radley when she takes him back over the street and 'steps into his shoes and walks around in them.' The book's author, Harper Lee, modeled Scout on herself.

Our Scout's kind of spunky but very affectionate. But I'm going to have to get her out of the habit of sitting on my laptop and/or keyboard while I write. I can't see the screen and it causes all sorts of interesting typos. She is also fascinated by the rollerball and the cursor on the screen. Maybe we'll have to set up some timeshare arrangement with the computer or something.

Friday, 14 December 2007

musical DNA

I was talking to Guan today about music (he always talks about music so it's almost a given) and wondering is it possible to fall out of love with music? Not necessarily genres of music, but Music with a capital 'M'. Why is it, as I have gotten older, that my musical tastes have veered towards the middle of the road so much? It seems like an insult to the younger me, who used to go out listen to live music at least once a week, if not more often, and would spend hours poring over albums in shops. I wonder if I was more eclectic musically when I was happier; in less complicated times maybe I was able to explore and taste and enjoy, rather than seeking the musical equivalent of comfort food. Or maybe times were never less complicated, but I just had more emotional energy to give to the seeking of new music.

One way of gleaning new stuff is my tendency to take on the musical tastes of my friends. I think it has something to do with music being part of a person's DNA for me, it helps me to get to know them better, to know their moods, what makes them tick; if something clicks for me then I collect it and it becomes both part of my musical DNA as well as something that connects me to that other person.

As for my own innate musical DNA...what is it? It's a total patchwork, a mish-mash of genres and fluff and weird stuff and really quite predictable things. But the bulk of music that I like relates somehow to someone else in my life. Maybe, because music has such an emotional connection for me, it is all about relationship and people and communicating.

Or maybe it's just music.

Okay, where do some of my things in my mix come from?
  • Carole King from my mum (will always make me think of her)
  • Puccini and Mozart from Richard (many a glass of red wine listening to Maria Callas, or talking about Amadeus)
  • Jazz standards and Miles Davis from Jeremy (for good or for bad, I'm glad I got so well acquainted with Miles)
  • Rickie Lee Jones and Bjork from Sido (sweltering nights in Elizabeth Bay listening to Dat Dere)
  • Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Joni Mitchell from Kristen (singing in her Clovelly flat and talking about guys)
  • Tori Amos and Fiona Apple from Emma (oh how we loved to play Tori on the grand piano!)
  • Ani diFranco from Brett and Georgia (what more can I say? forever in your debt)
  • Indigo Girls from Sam (singing our heads off with gorgeous harmonies in the car during one of the most angst ridden periods of my life...gah)
  • Ben Folds from Heath (leaning on the stage a metre away from the piano at the Metro, awestruck)
  • Gotye and Amy Winehouse from Emush (summer BBQs in Glebe)
  • Anything hip hop and anything off the OC mix tapes from Dave (shutup G)
  • And lots of others that are simmering and cooking in the pot.
I guess I'll be making more musical connections as time goes on, especially with all the live music I'll be seeing in January/February with lots of lovely friends (Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond, the National, Clogs, Feist, and anyone who's at the Big Day Out ( Maybe it's time to start collecting quality again.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

my kingdom for a cat

To those who worried about me following my sad, sad, 'dear diary' post - thanks for worrying, I'm fine. Went to the gym and hung out virtually with the lovely Baddeleys yesterday, both good things for the mood.

Trying to juggle many things at the moment, and work out how to make changes without letting everything fall apart in the meantime. I'm never sure whether it's better to change one thing at a time, or to make drastic, sweeping changes. I'm the sort of person who takes a long time to make decisions. I can be impulsive about dumb things like making large purchases or whatever, but other things take me longer to work through in my head. Also I get really antsy and impatient to make changes when I'm feeling down - I guess it's an attempt to try and regain some control over my life, and it's why I normally end up rearranging the furniture in my bedroom or office.

This time the antsiness has resulted in an actual, real, big change. I have finally acted upon my decision to leave St Martin's. When I told the minister and his family, they just kind of shrugged; I guess they've known I've been going to go for a while. I'm not sure where I'll end up, but at this stage I'm going to give Wild St Church a go for a while and see if I fit there.

Also trying to figure out things about work, writing time, how to balance it all with downtime, how to manage my moods and my health, etc. Have absolutely no answers on any of those fronts. Perhaps two weeks' holiday will help. Hanging out with friends and pottering around in the garden and things like that. I can't wait.

The other breaking news is that the cat I was supposed to be getting this week is no longer the cat I will be getting. Apparently, the kitty minder has become attached to the kitty and doesn't want to give him up. Fine. Whatever. But now the cat bowl in the laundry looks awfully sad.

Think I might have to go to a shelter and adopt one anyway.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

It's hard not to feel lonely sometimes. It's not that you're alone, or that you lack friends or family, or that you're not gainfully occupied. It's just that sometimes you feel that gnawing at your insides, that unfillable hole that just seems to get wider and deeper with every passing day. You hear the self-indulgent wail that seems to bubble up from somewhere deep in your chest and makes you want to lie on the ground and drum your heels into the ground because of the unfairness of it all.

Only it's not really that unfair, is it? I'm a capable person. I am valuable in my own right. I have plenty of ministry opportunities on my own. I have friends who love me for myself, not because of who my partner is. I have an identity all of my own. I am free to come and go as I please, and my time is mine to apportion as I see fit. Most days I am more than content with this situation.

And yet...and yet.

I don't begrudge anyone their marriages. I have friends whose marriages make me feel so joyful. I have others whose marriages make me grieve. I have no illusions about partnership or marriage or even dating. I know it doesn't solve problems. I know it creates its own. I know there are bad times as well as good, and that you can still feel lonely even when you're lying in the same bed with your spouse.

But sometimes I think how nice it would be to have someone to walk along this road with me.
Someone to tell my everything to, and to hear their everything. Someone to cook with. Someone to laugh with. Someone to hold hands with, or sit quietly reading with, or pray with, or sing with, or...or anything really. Someone to embark upon a journey with.

It can get tiring when it's just you, trying to keep all the balls in the air and feeling such a failure when you can't.

I just have to commit it all to God, I know. And this too shall pass.

round and round we go

Well the week's underway. The weather is grey and so am I.

But I'm sitting here eating black sesame cake from the Chinese supermarket, so that's good. And I haven't had coffee yet this morning, so that will probably help when I eventually get some.

So much of my life revolves around food and drink.

Everyone in the office has kind of conked out. Sick or away or just tired. I know there's lots of work to continue to do, but there is something to be said for having downtime factored in, especially after such a big conference. It's just too hard to jump straight back into it and to expect everyone to be firing on all cylinders. I don't even know if I'm firing on one cylinder.

Doesn't help that my sleep patterns are still all crazy, and that I've been feeling this terrible sadness. Mum's sending me off to get my haircut this afternoon because she said "You're starting to look like you did when you got severely depressed last time, like you just don't care anymore". I think she's probably right. It starts this way, feeling like it's all just too hard to even brush your hair properly in the morning, and before long you just think 'oh what's the point of dressing nicely, I'll just wear super baggy t shirts then I won't have to worry', you start eating badly because you can't be bothered to eat well and besides, comfort food is comfort food for a reason, right?, and then you look in the mirror one day and think 'boy I look like crap. I feel like crap. I must be crap.'

It doesn't make sense, I know, but therein lies the viciousness of depression.

So I'm getting a haircut in the hopes of stymieing this stupid cycle. Being Kind To Myself, I think it's called. :)

Saturday, 8 December 2007

okay the evening is getting less better

I was revelling in having a night at home with no plans and no work to get up for, but the school down the road has been having their Festival today (which I think some of the Wild St Church bods participated in during the day) and it seems to be culminating with fireworks and some huge bootscootin' extravaganza that sounds as loud as the Big Day Out, though ever so slightly less alt/indie and more, well, bootscootin country. In Maroubra. I don't really get it. I'm really not coping with this awful music. Whatever happened to a humble school fete with lamingtons and the like? I may have to go for a drive with my iPod just to escape.

drink up me hearties, yo ho!

I had a great day today! Woke up feeling a bit blah, but it was soon remedied by putting up the Christmas tree and then having Guan, Mary, Karen and Ben come over. We headed out to yum cha at Maroubra, where Ben M met us, and we proceeded to gorge ourselves on the most delicious yum cha. Salt and pepper squid was yumptious - and you know I'm not a huge fan of seafood.

Though it was so wonderful to get together with friends for such a feast anyway, the occasion was ostensibly to celebrate the end of Sam the Pirate month and...I had to concede defeat. There. I said it. It's on the internet, so it must be true. Guanisthewinner.

Still - 11,000 words is pretty good considering the month I've just had, and it's 11,000 more words than I would have written without Guan's insane challenge. And Guan rocked it with 13,000 words. So yay!

Karen bought us each a bendy pirate to celebrate (I didn't have my camera at yum cha so don't have a photo of Guan's) - I knew she was looking at them at the National Gallery but didn't know she was buying them for us! I got 'Bones':

We got some delicious stripey and coconut jelly to take away and came back to my place, where we decorated the tree (and Ben):

(and Ben and Karen reenacted American Gothic, only more sparkly and with fewer pitchforks):
(and Mary and Guan look very serious about the whole endeavour):

played Simpsons Pictionary, which I think was Ben M's definition of hell:

and listened to good music (except when Ben B found my trashy stuff on my iPod). They all had to go off to Quaker's Hill by 6.30, but it was so lovely to have everyone around and to laugh and laugh.

I had been planning to buy the Moleskine for Guan (which was the prize for the winner of Sam the Pirate Month) but ran out of time. And then, what do you know, but as they were leaving Guan slipped this into my hand (containing a lovely, lovely note):

That's right kids. Everyone's a winner.

It's been a good day.

Friday, 7 December 2007

cat names

Oh the pressure of finding a good name.

I still can't quite remember how our last cat ended up being called Misty. Mum wanted to call her Sylvia, and my dad said "you can't call a cat Sylvia!" I'm not sure Misty was much better, but it kind of suited her.

I haven't met our Cat-To-Be yet, but mum had the name book out at the breakfast table this morning. "Calvin? What about Calvin?" Hmm. That could work. Like John Calvin, and Calvin and Hobbes (even though Calvin was the boy, not the tiger). For some reason I think Claude is a hilarious name for a cat, but when I said it aloud I realised it was an unintentional bad pun, so that's gone.

There is a nutty tradition in my maternal granfather's generation - he had 10 siblings and they all had names starting with 'Cl'. They weren't all ordinary names, but some were kind of warped versions of ordinary names. Here's the list:
Cloudy Peter
Clifford (my grandfather)

My favourite is definitely 'Cloudy Peter'. Every time I see that name I laugh.

The even nuttier part of it is that none of them were known by their 'Cl' names. My grandfather was Colin (not much of an improvement on Cliff I might add), Clorance was known as Bunny (Bunny!) and Cloudy Peter was known as...


So when I suggested we call the Cat-To-Be Cloudy Peter, mum burst out laughing and said we'd have to call him George. I don't think that would be funny to anyone but us, so I think we'll have to keep looking.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

The day after

I feel sick and sad. This always happens after conferences, or shows, but this time seems worse than the others. My entire body is aching - I'm just one big ache - but no matter what I do I can't get comfortable. I'm almost too tired to go to sleep, if that makes sense.

Last night I fell asleep the wrong way round on my bed - with my head down the foot of the bed. I have no idea how I got into that position, but it was more comfortable than sleeping the right way round for some reason. The only problem was that it meant I kicked the glass of water on my bedside table over at about 3am. Then at about 5.30am I woke to a weird buzzing noise - the mobile that had been handed in to lost property was in my bag and of course it had a vibrating alarm set for 5.30am. Of course! So I facebooked for a while and pottered around before driving mum into the city for work, and then going to work myself.

I had planned for a short day but ended up staying til 5.00. I had lunch with Karen and Ben at the Sinma Laksa House across the road, which was delicious (one of the few places in Sydney I've been to that feels just like being in Malaysia). Good to chat to the two of them; I realise that although I am fond of him, I don't actually know Ben very well. Must remedy that.

The office was quiet as Mark, Howard and Jess are all away (or in and out) on NTE mission. So it was kind of nice to just tidy things up a bit. I got absorbed in putting together a DVD of all the good photos I'd taken at NTE and before I knew it, it was 5.00 and even Guan was going home before me! (this is a rarity)

I've been feeling listless and kind of washed out ever since I got home. I know I'm just tired, but I just can't shake it. And the humidity doesn't help either. But I am glad to be at home and able to just blob around on the couch with my laptop, and not to have to talk to people, and not to have to run over to the dining hall to avoid the crush, and not to have to deal with daily dramas (although I did learn today that Snowy's van, containing five peoples' luggage, got stolen during the last session! UNSW people had to turn around and come back to pick people up and last we heard, Snowy was still in Canberra waiting to deal with the police. Also the people at the Canberra Theatre knocked over a guitar stand and damaged some of the guitars after the last session, so now there's an impending insurance'd think by the end of the conference nothing else could go wrong...).

Oh! And another exciting thing that happened today was that the real estate agent said I could have a kitten! Heath and Simone have one they needed to find a home for, so come Sunday I'll have my very own 6 week-old boy kitten! Here he is being cuddled by Sim:

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


I'm finally home! I am so tired and sore I can barely speak, but for some reason just need to wind down before I can actually sleep.

The conference finished up beautifully; Greg's last talk on Hebrews was moving and powerful, the singing rocked and we managed to get some great group shots of everyone in the lovely blue NTE t shirts (which I designed). Then after a lot of mucking around and toing and froing, we finally hit the road (with a bag of Maccas in hand) and made it back to Sydney by around 6.00pm. I arrived home to a delicious dinner and catch up with mum and Dave, and am just so happy to be back in my home, clean and comfortable and not beset by flies or spiders.

And sleep.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


Oh! I just realised I forgot to write about the Writing network time we did yesterday.

We were in the cavernous junior common room at John XXIII college, and had to kick people out who were watching The Chaser's War on Everything (we did invite them to stay, but none of them did). It was a bit of a weird set up, but we tried to make it close enough that people would be able to hear, etc. The thing that was tricky was that we didn't know how many people to expect - we could have had three or 30. I probably would have preferred to have all sat round a table, but since we didn't know if there would be enough chairs we ended up just having us sitting on this weird little dais with a crescent of chairs in front (looked a bit like a morning chat show).

In all, we had 12 people turn up. Most other groups got an average of 20, so we didn't do that badly, although I had expected more. Part of the problem was it wasn't advertised well at the main meetings, and as it's the first year we've run network time people didn't really know what to expect. Anyway, Karen gave a great talk on why we write, deconstructing the romantic myth of the writer as some tragic, melodramatic type who is captivated by a muse, and basically saying that it's important for us to use words - but to use them well, to use them truthfully.

I then talked about how to write, and people seemed to get a lot out of what I said. I quoted copiously from other, wiser heads than mine, but also gave little practical bits of advice that I have found helpful over the years, such as don't have your writing space in your bedroom, read a lot, try and write something (no matter how brief or dodgy) every day, support other writers with encouragement and prayer, have people around you who support you, and recognise that it is a difficult but rewarding pursuit.

We wanted to have a writing and workshopping time, but the group didn't really seem to be into it, and I think we were hampered by the weird room and the arctic air conditioning. Still, we chatted about blogging and other kinds of writing, then prayed and went off to dinner (and Karen drove back to Sydney).

I think it was worth doing, but if we do it again in the future we will know what things we need to be aware of beforehand.

One good thing that came out of it is that Karen had a great idea for a collaborative Christian writers' website where we can post articles, links, useful information and also blog about writing. I am quite excited by the prospect of collaborating with Karen and Guan. Let's hope we get the momentum to get it going! (does that make sense? guh. you know what I mean)

almost there...

Ah we're on the home stretch. We have had to move venues, for the last part of the conference, so tonight we will be at the Canberra Theatre. I feel sorry for the poor techies who have to completely bump out one venue and bump in to the next venue in 24 hours. But I'm sure it will all go well.

I've had fun with Andrew's camera - here are some pics of the main meetings at the National Convention Centre just so you can see what I've been working on this week!

Today's been a little more cruisy, as we didn't have a main meeting this morning. I was supposed to drive Cheryl to the bus stop this morning, as she was leaving at 9.00. Of course, I thought I knew where I was going and actually didn't so...she missed the bus. In fact, it was so close we saw the bus turning the corner as we ran into the bus depot. Grr. So I took her out for a coffee while I had breakfast (a most delicious mocha and blintzes with ricotta and sultana) and she had to hang around for a while waiting for the 12.30 bus. I did manage to get her there in time for that one, though, so that was good!

I then went and met Jackie at her workplace, we bought some delicious food from the Prime Minister's cafeteria (well the one in his building anyway, it's not his personal cafeteria) and went to eat in the Old Parliament House rose garden. It was so beautiful, flies notwithstanding (Canberra is not only the capital for the Australian people, it must be the capital of flies as well). We had a good catch-up, and just revelled in the lovely surrounds, the cool breeze and the dappled sun. She also brought me a bag of spectacular looking cherries that she picked on the weekend at Young.
The as I drove back, I found myself sitting at traffic lights opposite the impressive structure that is 'new' Parliament House. I could also see a number of people rolling down the grassed roof and wondered whether they were our students (wouldn't surprise me). How typically Australian! Although the security guards probably don't condone it and the average citizen probably wouldn't rate it as one of their favourite things to do, how lucky we are to live in a place where you can roll down the roof of Parliament House - imagine trying to even lie down on the lawn at the White House; you'd probably be shot!

No spider in my bed last night, you'll be pleased to know, and I've only got one more night here. Then it's home sweet home!

Monday, 3 December 2007

bed bugs biting

Everything's just so full on here. Every time there is any tiny little thing that that goes wrong, people deal with it in strange and unique ways. I'm trying not to take on the stress levels of other people and get done what I need to get done, but people just keep freaking out and making it all worse.

But having said that, not much has really gone wrong. It's just mountains out of molehills, that kind of thing.

Also, I woke up with the world's most intense headache this morning, bordering on migraine territory. Had to confront the horrid shower again and then when I came back, I pulled back my sheets to make my bed and something black and about 2cm long hurried away and over the side of the bed. I didn't have my glasses on so couldn't see what it was, but...well, tried not to think about it too hard or it might make me completely lose it.

I avoided the breakfast queue and went to Macca's instead, sat by myself and had a highly unhealthy breakfast. Didn't take in much of the talk this morning but was photographing again, though I did enjoy belting out a few songs.

I'm trying to finish gathering my thoughts for this afternoon's writing time, but haven't quite managed it yet. People keep finding me and asking me to do things. Also I went back to the room and thought I'd check my bed again, and sure enough the critter had reinstated itself in the middle of my warm bed - turned out to be a large black spider. Lucky I'm not an arachnophobe. But EWWW. I shooed it away and rolled my bed into the middle of the room, figuring that at least if it wasn't against the wall and the window, the spider might choose somewhere else to nest. I hope.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

friends, food and sustenance

It's been a big weekend!

As always with NTE, I find it quite hard to process everything. It's like getting a juggernaut going, this conference, but once it's rolling there's no stopping it. There has been torrential rain, as well as all the other dramas I've mentioned, but the students seem to just be loving it. And it is a pretty amazing conference to come to. Everyone is really positive this year.

I met up with a friend, Jono, who stayed with us a couple of years ago when the UTS mission team was at our church. He graduated this year and has moved to work as an electrical engineer in Singleton. He rang me last week to wish me a good NTE, and after our hour's conversation he decided he was going to drive 6 hours there and 6 hours back to come to NTE just for one and a half days. That's how much some people love it! It was great to see him, and I think he needed to have some soaking in the word, and being with other Christians as he is the only Christian in his workplace and is quite isolated.

We went to a cafe called Cream, in the new section of the Canberra Centre. We had hot chocolate, a yummy cheese platter, and a great chat (inspired by Karen I've started photographing my food).

(not a great photo of either of us, but there you go)

Today I've had some time to do a bit of writing and prepare for the writing network time we'll be running tomorrow. Karen arrived and we went to the National Gallery. We saw a curious exhibition of artworks by a Japanese Buddhist nun, Rengetsu, who used to paint and make pottery sake and tea vessels, inscribed with poetry. I found it quite fascinating, seeing these small, crudely made yet beautiful items covered in Japanese characters, and thinking how intrinsically words were a part of this woman's everyday life. Much of the poetry was quite beautiful as well. I would have liked the catalogue, just to read a bit more about her, but couldn't really justify buying it.

After wandering around the other exhibitions, soaking up a bit of impressionism at the end, we looked at everything in the bookshop and I had to resist buying many things. Then we headed back to the Canberra Centre to go to Koko Black. Karen had written about this place when she visited it in Melbourne, and was very excited when I suggested we go there.

This is what we had - a 'Belgian spoil' with delicious hot chocolate. Oh, it was good.

Tonight I managed to get my hands on Andrew's Canon EOS 40D digital SLR camera, so spent the whole meeting wandering around taking photos and remembering how satisfying it is to use a beautiful camera. I'll post some of the pics when I get them off the camera.

Now I just have to finish putting together my talk for tomorrow, and hopefully get some sleep!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

swan dive

It's calm now. The first session went beautifully and Greg Lee's talk on Hebrews was fantastic. The venue looks great, the singing sounds amazing, everyone is amped up and it's all good. Added to that, none of the delegates know about the major dramas and our collective blood pressure has eased somewhat.

God is great!

I'm going to go out now, find a cafe and read some of the Saturday paper.

today's catalogue of chaos

  • the rest of the mugs still haven't turned up
  • the Fijians didn't get visas granted in time so haven't turned up
  • all the doors need to be open as people keep coming in and out and registering, and so there is a lot of beeping of different pitches and paces and it's almost enough to drive one insane
  • the people at the Convention Centre (our main venue) neglected to arrange for the electricity to be turned on, so our techies turned up at 5.30am to bump in and were not able to. The electricity has to be turned on by someone with a special key to the special room, etc, etc. Insanity rules. There was a brief panic when we thought we'd have to cancel the first session but I think it's going ahead now.

I would say at this point that you should not get too excited about having everything organised before you arrive at the conference because invariably, everything else will go wrong when you actually get there.

Friday, 30 November 2007

a revelation

I think it's quite amusing that I tend to blog more when I'm away from home. Obviously more is happening that I need to process, and also I need to feel connected to normalcy in some small way.

I woke up at 6am this morning, so decided to get up and go to the gym. It was great - I only did about 40 minutes, but felt so much better for it. Got a huge coffee and a muffin and started off the day much happier than I have the last couple of days. Also had a shower in the gym's clean, bright showers so didn't have to contend with the mould.

Today has been a busy sort of day, but bitsy, running around doing odd jobs and getting stressed out by constant demands from people. But still, I got to hear Richard Chin's talk on Revelation 6-7, which was excellent and extremely challenging (one big point I took away was that although we in the west might not face death for following Christ, we need to live as though death would be preferably to faithlessness - or anything else without Christ, really. Might sound extreme, but, well, it is!).

I was planning to just hole up somewhere and chill out on my own most of the night, but a bunch of staffworkers from Newcastle asked me to go to see Elizabeth: the Golden Age, and I jumped at the chance to get out and see a movie. I don't seem to do enough of that anymore.

The movie was gorgeous to look at, but I found it quite disjointed and disappointing in its portrayal of religion, and the way it played fast and loose with historical facts (though I didn't really expect anything else). The Catholics (especially the Spanish Catholics) were all zealots and going to war as ordained by God; the English Protestants were basically just English - England was the thing that mattered, and God didn't really get a look in, even though they were staking their whole identity on a question of religion. I need to do more reading on church history to get the facts straight in my head; that's the problem with this type of movie, the glossy narrative and visuals tend to stick more than something you read in a book.

But it's interesting how there were resonances there with what David Brown, the General Secretary of the GBU, said in his talk last night about student work in France (GBU is the French equivalent of AFES). He was explaining why the French have the attitude they do to Christianity, and said that basically they have had it ingrained in them for centuries that religion equals war. Having seen some of that portrayed in the movie tonight, it's easy to see how people would believe that.

The passage Richard was speaking from this morning was about the four horsemen of the apocalypse that bring conquest, leading to war, leading to famine, leading to death. The language is poetic and symbolic, and can be hard to get your head around. But the fact is this: it isn't some vision of the future, of things that will happen someday. This is the world we live in now. It makes us weep and cry for justice when we see the things that are happening in our world, when we see man's inhumanity to man.

Yet the only one who can bring peace and justice and restore things to right is our God. Not a Queen. Not a regime. Not any earthly power, be it a treaty, United Nations, or international war tribunal. Only God can do that. And the way he chose to do that was through giving his son as the atoning sacrifice for all this evil, all this suffering, all this sin in the world so that we would be washed clean of all this filth. It's quite incredible. Revelation uses the symbolic imagery of the Lamb (= Christ, the innocent sacrifice), and his blood washing us white as snow. As Richard said, it's bizarre! Have you ever tried to get a stain out by using lamb's blood? But that's the image - that through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we are made perfect in God's sight. What a wonderful thing.

In his love and infinite patience, God is waiting for us to turn back to him so that many more can be with him in the new creation...what a glorious day that will be!

Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?"

I answered, "Sir, you know."

And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

"they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Revelation 7:13-17

Thursday, 29 November 2007

a litany of woe (or whingeing)

Thanks to all who have sent me encouraging messages/emails/pokes today. It helps.

I went on an expedition to the Canberra Centre to buy more milk for the conference and ended up having an absolutely massive coffee and brownie at Starbucks (note that I never have coffee at Starbucks - I'll have a chilled beverage of some sort if necessary but I try my hardest not to go anywhere near them (please believe me, cafedave!!!!)) - that's how desperate I was for caffeine and sugar. It did help a bit. I also bought a glass star for my Christmas tree from the Oxfam shop, in keeping with my tradition of buying one pleasing new ornament each year for the tree.

The expo kicked off today. The expo is for people who are exploring doing student ministry and want to find out more about it and the opportunities available. I haven't really taken part in it at all, because I've been doing random jobs and just trying to keep going as best I can.

There are many small, frustrating things that have been happening since we arrived. For example:
  1. The college our office is in has recently undergone a security upgrade. All the doors require swipe cards to open, and if a door is left open for longer than about 2 minutes, a high pitched constant beeping alarm sounds. This can only be stopped by closing the door, or pressing a button, every 2 minutes. This is really not ideal when you have an office that many people need to come in and out of, and only a limited number of keys. At one stage, I was sitting next to the door just so I could press the button every two minutes and stop the beeping noise. It seemed very much like some bizarre psychological experiment. Now that the busy period is over, the door is closed so no more beeping. However, there is a low-level pulsing beep coming from one of the doors outside, and it sounds like we're in a hospital. It's really quite surreal.

  2. The outside doors are locked for the night at 5.00pm. So people can no longer go in and out of the building without swipe cards, and even more bizarrely, they can't get out without swipe cards. This is very, very annoying.

  3. The conference mugs, which are given free to every delegate so they can have morning and afternoon tea, did not turn up last week to S's house when they were supposed to (she lives across the road from uni and was going to mind them for us until the conference). So I rang the supplier and organised for them to be delivered straight to the conference site instead and he assured me they would be delivered first thing Wednesday, in time for our first delegates to arrive. But no, they did not turn up yesterday and after much ringing around, we discovered they had been delivered to the wrong address and were going to be delivered by 9.00am this morning at the latest. I wasn't holding my breath, which was just as well, because of course they didn't turn up this morning. Then we got a call from S saying 8 boxes had been delivered to her house and the courier refused to take them to the uni where they were supposed to go. This was worrying because a) they weren't supposed to go to S's house, and b) there were supposed to be something like 32 boxes. So I drove over to S's house, retrieved the 8 boxes, which were enough to keep the expo delegates happy, and I still have no idea if and when the remainder of the mugs are going to show up. I have achieved a zen-like state of calm about it, and I think the supplier was grovelling extra hard because I was being so nice about it, but it's getting to the point where if one more thing goes wrong with the job I'll explode all over someone and it won't be pretty.

  4. I hate the showers in my college. They are mouldy and they smell and make me feel claustrophobic (some of you may recall that I have major bathroom issues). I am trying to be thankful that the shower pressure is good and the water hot, but it's very hard to wash yourself adequately when every fibre of your being is screaming at you to get out.
But - I have internet access. I have a comfortable bed. I have good food and plenty of it. I have people around me who are praying for me. And I am part of this amazing movement that is all about proclaiming God's word. There isn't much to complain about, really.


So I'm at Canberra for the expo and NTE. Most years I'm tired but excited. This year, I'm tired, sad and fighting a very strong urge to run away. It's quite disconcerting. I am trying to think of practical ways to remedy this swamping depression - J and I had a drink and a chat last night, and I may follow her example and go to the gym in the mornings (there's a Fitness First nearby). That might sound odd given that I'm complaining about being tired, but I think possibly getting the blood flowing and those happy exercise endorphins into my brain might help a lot.

It's going to be a great conference. I know it is. I just hope I can participate and not become a gibbering mess in the corner.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


me hammock, originally uploaded by the procrastinatrix.

My mother, in her usual fashion, has given me my Christmas present early. Well, she had to because I had to choose it. Anyway, it arrived today and I took great delight in setting up my purple hammock in the backyard! No waiting til December 25 for me, nosirree!

It's a very cool Anchor Hammock, Australian designed (though made in China) and it is just the most divine thing. When you lie back in it, the parachute fabric kind of closes around you and it's like being in a pea pod (or how I imagine that would feel, never having actually been in a pea pod). It is so soothing just lying there, gently swaying and looking up at the clouds skating across the sky. It also has a sunshade for when it's actually, well, sunny. And I reckon it would be the most comfortable thing to go camping with - much better than sleeping on the ground.

If I had more time and didn't have to pack for NTE, I'd probably just lie out there all night...I go tomorrow morning at 6am! I'm unbelievably tired, as you can probably tell from the most unflattering photo, and there are still plenty of things to do to get myself organised. I just hope I get some miraculous burst of energy and can get through it all, and that I'll be able to actually take in some of the stuff at the conference.

Bring on the adrenaline!

Monday, 26 November 2007

my new shoes

There's nothing quite like a new pair of shoes to make you smile. Especially ones like these.

Sunday, 25 November 2007


And now for a bit of Sunday night silliness...this is via Meg, and I can't believe I hadn't seen it before, but it is continuing to make me giggle (and a warning: it will get stuck in your head).

Saturday, 24 November 2007

and now, a brief and unprecedented political post

Well there we go. Saturday was exactly as I'd planned it yesterday - I got a new stereo for the car and it is SO cool. I went to vote. Meg came over for dinner and we watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The one thing that I didn't anticipate was feeling quite emotional about the election results. I have a very poor grasp of politics beyond the rudimentary, and I'm sad to say I probably know a bit more about how the American system works because of the West Wing than I know about Australian politics (though I know a bit about local government through the excellent series Grass Roots that used to be on the ABC (what an indictment on me and my generation)). I'm just lazy I guess, but also I get frustrated by mudslinging and propaganda so I just switch off entirely during election campaigns.

But even I can see how amazing tonight's result is and the huge Labor margin has won by.

I am excited that we have a change of government. I think Kevin Rudd is a gracious and worthy man for the job, and I am glad he professes to be a Christian. I am happy that we have a man as Prime Minister who I won't be ashamed of as Australia's representative on the world stage (at least I hope I won't be). I'm glad we have a woman as Deputy Prime Minister (hey, it's a step forward).

And I'm under no illusions - I know that in Australia, although the parties would say they are vastly different, it's not as vast a gulf as in other parts of the world. It's not like we lose our liberty through a change in government. It's not as though we've had a new government forced upon us. It's not as though the vote is dependent on how much money you can throw at a candidate, or how many people can be bothered turning up to vote. We are so fortunate to live in a place that has so much freedom, where we all have the chance to cast our vote, and where no matter what the result (and despite its many flaws) we will still live in an amazing country.

Almost enough to make me sound vaguely patriotic. Huh.

Friday, 23 November 2007

letting go of the week

It's the end of what has been a long and frustrating week. I got heaps of work done, but it was like pulling teeth, with endless revisions and things going wrong. But I feel confident that all my artwork and publications stuff for NTE is done to the best of my ability. Now all that's left is to finish the last minute things, write my talk about 'how to write' for the network time Karen and I are presenting at NTE, and then head down to Canberra on Wednesday to start the conference week. Hopefully I can take lots of excellent photos, get enough sleep, catch up with Jackie and Anthea and also be challenged and encouraged by the great speakers we have this year.

In the more immediate future, I am very much looking forward to this weekend because it doesn't hold much! My gym session tomorrow morning got cancelled so I can sleep in, and I am very excited because tomorrow we get to vote and I'm getting a new stereo to replace the defunct one in our car so when I drive down to Canberra it won't be in silence. I should probably be more excited about the potential for a change of government and my small part in it, but actually the CD/MP3 player excites me more. It's a sad world.

Then, in the evening, the lovely Meg is coming round for DVDage and dinner. I haven't hung out with her for ages, so that will be great.

And then, hopefully I will get to write. Haven't written all week and I need to catch up to Guan! Speaking of whom, had dinner with him and his lovely wife M (or is that Q? (we said we wouldn't name her on our blogs but she liked the Bond sound of M)) tonight. We had delicious dumplings and san choy bow and noodles, played Bohnanza, got to know each other a bit better and laughed a lot. A positive end to a frazzling week!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


gingerbread, originally uploaded by the procrastinatrix.

went to the Gingerbread House making at Wild St Church last night, having been invited by Sam (who I met at a service there), and also my boss, now that I think about it. There were about 80 women all packed into this tiny church hall to hear a talk about Jesus' birth, and to make gingerbread houses. I wanted to try to get to know some of the other women from that church, but of course we all got absorbed in the activity of house-making and there wasn't that much conversation that didn't involve discussion about candy cane placement.

Of course, my icing bag exploded somewhere near the beginning of the evening, so I was pretty much covered in icing sugar and globs of icing for the whole night. I was disheartened to see the woman next to me didn't have so much as a sprinkling of icing sugar out of place, but then I looked at her house and it explained a lot - everything was excruciatingly neat, all the lollies in very straight rows along the house's roof. It was beautiful, but...neat. Almost too neat.

Still, I quite like the way my gingerbread houses always look a bit haphazard and joyous. Who wouldn't love to live in a house like that? (well probably the woman I sat next to last night)

Monday, 19 November 2007

a bit of musicality, please

Sunday was quite good. I had been dreading it, as due to a scheduling conflict, we had a double baptism at church - one family was a church family, and the others were not. I'm always torn about this; I really hate the whole concept of people who have no Christian faith getting their kids baptised during a church service, and standing up there making promises they have no intention of keeping. I suppose its like non-Christians having church weddings in that regard.

But then another part of me thinks, well, if this is the only chance these people are ever going to have of hearing the gospel, then it's worth it that they come. Maybe something they hear, or a conversation they have will prompt them to start thinking seriously about what they believe. Sadly, I think most of the time that's not the case and the family and friends all look impatient and bored while the rest of the church service happens, but perhaps I'm just being cynical.

Anyway, I was doing the music for yesterday's service. There were specific requests from the families, including Amazing Grace and that the sister of the non-Christian mother would sing Shout To the Lord as an item (odd perhaps, but I'm figuring that although the parents of the child being baptised weren't Christian, some of the extended family probably were).

Now, STTL isn't a bad song, but it's in the 'my Jesus, my boyfriend' category, is a Hillsong mainstay, and has been done so many times that it can have a bit of a deadening effect. Now I had never met this woman, we had not had any rehearsals and I didn't even know her name, so I wasn't exactly looking forward to this 'item'. Well it turns out I needn't have worried, as she didn't turn up to sing anyway (she may well have been there, but didn't present herself for active duty), and it was decided we'd do it as a congregational song.

One wonderful thing that did happen was that a bunch of students from New College (where the Christian family lives and works) came to help out with the music. So instead of it being just me, Danielle and Bethany, we had guitar, bass guitar, cello, and violin. And even though we didn't rehearse it sounded fantastic! So instead of being a ploddy shemozzle, Shout to the Lord and Amazing Grace actually ended up being really uplifting and joyous, as they are supposed to be. I had so much fun playing with a band, with people who didn't need too much instruction, but we just all fit together and the resulting sound was wonderful, and hopefully edifying to the people who had to sing to it.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


Every time I see Claire and Jo they chastise me for not blogging more often. Note to self,

Today we had afternoon tea at my place, along with much fascinating discussion about what actually happens when babies are born (Jo is due with her first child in a couple of weeks). Kind of gross really. But nice to have that sort of conversation in a real way instead of it being all cooey and isn't-motherhood-just-a-joy-now-my-life-is-complete kind of way. It's still kind of freaky to think that someone I went to school with is having a kid, but then I remind myself that I am actually 31 and many people have multiple offspring by this stage.

Apparently, according to my father's family, I'm not yet married because I'm too choosy. Lah.

Jo went home to succumb to the charms of the couch, and Claire and I went to the Spot for Arthur's Pizza, a cocktail at the new Ritz Bar (felt kind of...rural), and then to watch Death at a Funeral, which was excessively diverting.

I haven't written much in the last week but hope to get some done tomorrow - oh, I forgot to blog about this. Guan and I challenged each other to a write-off during November. Whoever writes the most gets a Moleskine purchased by the 'loser', although I maintain there are no losers in this exercise...(when I told Dave about this he asked what a Moleskine was. "A type of notebook," I replied. He looked at me. "A notebook?" "A really cool kind of notebook." "But it's...a notebook?" "Yes." "Hmm." "You're not a writer! You wouldn't understand!!!!")

The inspiration for this month was NaNoWriMo, in which people all over the world attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words' length in the space of a month. We were realistic and knew neither of us had the time or energy to do that, but we could make up our own version. We called it Spend A Month Really Really Really Really Really Trying Really Hard To Write Given That We Have Some Other Obligations And Things To Do Occasionally Month. But that's a mouthful, as is the acronym (SAMRRRRRTRHTWGTWHSOOATTDO), so we dubbed it Sam the Pirate Month (I made a Facebook group for it and everything where we post our progress (or lack of) and get cheered on by other group members who were sane enough not to embark on the exercise).

The thing that's amazing is that although I haven't written much this week, I have actually written 10,000 words since the beginning of November! I decided to write something completely frivolous and new, and it's actually been wonderful to remember what it is like to write for fun. I know I can write whatever I want whenever I want, but when there's a big project like The Novel hanging over my head, I feel some sort of weird obligation to it, like I can't waste valuable time writing anything but The Novel. But the way Sam the Pirate Month works, it's kind of filling up my creativity reservoir by getting me past the whingey avoidance block that has been tripping me up as far as The Novel is concerned. Hopefully the momentum will continue and will be able to be channelled into other areas.

Who knew all I needed was a challenge?

I've been winning so far. I'm trying not to be complacent though, as I have a feeling Guan may yet pull some rabbits out of his hat. Also he might write more words than me.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

out of the blue

Sometimes, in the middle of a completely unremarkable day, things just fly in from nowhere and whack you in the head. My dad sent me a text message today, telling me that he is planning to propose to his girlfriend this weekend. His girlfriend is one year older than me. She's nice, but...she's one year older than me. Even my brother's girlfriend is older than her.

And today is the anniversary of my parents' divorce. I do believe the irony is probably lost on him.

I'm still processing this. If they are both happy, love God and love one another, then I wish them well. But I still reserve the right to be weirded out.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

she can think for herself

There are moments when I remember I'm actually an adult and have opinions and fully formed thoughts of my own, and it never fails to surprise me, because inside I still feel like I'm about 17 (or 23, depends on the day).

We went to Freda's for dinner tonight and there was a couple there who go to the church I grew up in (I don't remember them). We idly chit chatted as we served up the delicious roast dinner, and then suddenly, and without any warning, we got into this really intense conversation about things we're told to do in the Bible, whether we should take into consideration the culture and customs of the time in which it was written or take all the instruction in it literally (the chap who started the discussion was for the latter), and basically how the whole world is going to hell in a handcart.

I piped up and said that I thought the world had always been as bad as it is now, we just didn't know about the extent of its depravity before because we didn't have the questionable luxury of mass communication. When I read the Old Testament I'm almost shocked at the brutality and carnality of the sin that's depicted there, and yet it's not that different from things that you read about in the paper every day. Basically it comes down to the fact that people are and have always been sinful, and that only Jesus' atoning sacrifice can make up for that (that bit wasn't in dispute). I pointed out that if we were talking about whether or not women should have their heads covered in church (this was the particular bit of instruction the guy was struggling with, I have no idea why): any woman could wear a hat and say she was respecting God and showing the world that she was 'different', but if she hadn't sorted out where she stood with God and wasn't living a godly life then she would be a hypocrite and her hat wouldn't save her in the end.

Having a mature exchange of ideas about theology with someone I've never met before? Me?! Gosh. I feel all growed up.

Monday, 5 November 2007

love thy cupcake

I do so love living in a house where it's easy to cook.

I made cupcakes last night in honour of mum's home visit today. She came home with a woman from St Luke's who was there to check out the house and make sure she was able to get in and around. We had some coffee and cakes, and then mum had to go back to hospital. It's almost cruel in a way; she said later it was like going to boarding school. But she's doing so well they think she will be able to come home on Wednesday! I think her determination to get back into her own house is fuelling her progress as much as anything.

The only problem is now I have all these leftover cupcakes. Ha! It won't be problematic for long...

Sunday, 4 November 2007

love thy neighbour

I met my next door neighbour the other day. We've been living here over a month now and I hadn't introduced myself to anyone, but he was outside watering his garden when I got out of my car so I went over and introduced myself.

"I am Bictor." he said. "And my wife is Berrrrta." He has a lovely accent, not sure where it's from. "If ju need anything, anytime, ju come and knock at our door. And the same in reverse, we will come and knock jore door."

"Of course!"

"That's how we do."

"Very neighbourly."

"That's right."

"You have a beautiful garden, by the way. I admire it every day. We're trying to do something with ours, but it's horrible..."

He grinned. "Well, it's okay, the weeds are coming up."

Then the loveliest thing happened yesterday. I was just about to leave the house when the doorbell rang. There was Victor, holding a big bunch of fragrant white lilies.

"Hello, I thought ju might like this. Is the time for them now, so I thought..."

"Wow! They're beautiful! I might take some to my mum in hospital."

He shrugged and smiled. "Dey are jurs now, ju can do whatever ju like."

Mum told me to keep them here, so I've got them in a large vase on the dining room table which you can see as you walk down the hallway. Every time I look at them, I think about how wonderful it is to have good neighbours. I've lived so long in places where the neighbours were unfriendly, where you'd smile at people and they'd look right through you, and if you needed help you'd have to think twice before knocking on anyone else's door. So it's good to know someone might be looking out for us. And it reminds me how important it is to be a good neighbour, even if it just means saying hello and smiling when you see people on the street.

Bringing flowers is just above and beyond and very much appreciated.