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.