Tuesday, May 29, 2007

murphy's law

I'm not a strong believer in Murphy's Law - I'm too much of an optimist really. Besides, it's too deterministic for me. Surely life isn't played out with such black and white predictability that only the worst will happen? Don't we have a role to play in altering destiny and changing the course of history? Isn't it possible that if I choose to act in a particular situation I might be able to prevent the worst from eventuating?

Ah, the hours we could spend debating such philosophical and ethereal questions! But that isn't really the point of this post. The point is, I ran smack bang into Murphy's Law this morning. Right there, as I stood in the shower, that which I had hoped would not happen. Happened.

Not that it was very serious. Just annoying. Just Murphy's Law I suppose.

Several weeks ago (6th of May to be precise) Frank and I ordered a number of books from Amazon. Why we ordered from Amazon I do not know, since I later discovered all the books were available in Australia. I think it had something to do with the buzz of ordering from the online bookstore and the rumour of prices so cheap that even when postage is included it's cheaper than purchasing in Australia. (That little incentive became irrelevant when I accidentally ordered hardcover copies of several books that ended up costing far more than if I'd bought paper backs locally)

Amazon's handy prediction of arrival date suggested we could expect the books any time after 26th May, but possibly as late as 3rd June. Hoh, I thought. That's ridiculous! Postage doesn't take that long - we'll have them in a week or so. But then the days just kept on ticking by. When the 26th arrived without site or sound of a single book I was becoming feverish with anticipation.

Then one day, a knock. The postman with a delivery of books! Yippee!

No such joy - just my texts for next semester, so I returned to my state of watchfulness, listening out for every passing vehicle, imagining the gigantic postman footfall on the front verandah, planning my day around the potential arrival of our books. If I was home in the morning I postponed my shower until after the book might arrive. Of course, then I had to postpone my shower even longer because if they hadn't arrived early in the day, they surely would later.

It was all to no avail, and gradually I resigned myself to the possibility those books just might take until the 3rd June to show up. So this morning I dutifully jumped in the shower early to make the most of the day - and what do you know?! Just as I finished rinsing out my hair and stood to enjoy a moment of water therapy... KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

What to do, what to do?

Jump out of the shower, grab a gown and run dripping to the door? What if the postie took advantage of me in my state of semi-dress?!?

Quietly pretend I was out, collect the card from the letter box and pick up the package later? But then I might not be able to collect it until four in the afternoon! How dreadful.

The dilemma! But somehow the risk of not getting those books immediately was motivation enough to stop the water, jump from the shower, hurriedly towel myself, run my fingers through my hair, yell down the hall that I was coming, grab a gown, fumble with the ties so my bosoms weren't falling out everywhere, stuff my feet into slippers and run desperately for the door. Just as the postman turned away I wrenched the door open and retrieved the package. And he didn't even seem to think it strange that water was running down my legs and my hair was dripping all over the mat! As to my babbling thanks - he turned and ran then!

And so we have our Amazon books and we're starting to slowly devour them. But - Murphy's Law - they came at the worst possible time! I wonder if I'd held off on the shower, would I still be waiting for them to arrive?!

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

strength of character may be aquired at work...

So I've changed jobs. No more the cushy life of a clinical educator, swanning around Monday to Friday with graduate nurses, offering assistance and support. Now it's the life of a nurse at the coal face - smoothing fevered brows (as if), washing dirty derrieres (that's more like it!), placating irritable relatives... and working weekends.

Ah, the joys of real life nursing! The rewards. The hard yakka. Gotta love it.

Having said 'gotta love it', I'm not sure that I do anymore. People keep asking how I'm finding it back on the ward, with all it entails. My standard reply is 'I'm not sure yet. I'm still adjusting'. Which I am.

Some things I can immediately identify as not so great. Take working until 10pm only to return at 7am the next morning - not my idea of the ideal job. (In fact I consider it a sure sign our managers have not worked shift work in more than a hundred years) Washing those dirty derrieres wasn't high on the list of things I missed in my previous job either - satisfying as it may be to see a clean rear at the end of it all. And eight hours straight on my feet. Urgh.

On the upside of shift work is the feel of being on perpetual holiday. Well at least that's how I'm feeling, having been chained to the hospital from Monday to Friday, cramming birthday present shopping into that tiny sliver of time left at the end of a day (and that's without even considering the time needed to wrap and post them), and spending weekends attending to crucial wifely duties such as dusting, cooking cakes and scrubbing toilet bowls! I'm now enjoying the freedom of not being required at work on Monday. Or Thursday. Or Tuesday. Not all in the one week of course, but I feel released from the monotony of day-in, day-out routine. There's a certain mental space to be found in hanging out at home until 1pm. Of course you can't have this without working weekends. It all evens out. Which is probably why I can't decide if I like shift work or not.

If it was as simple as weighing up such prosaic negatives and positives I might find the shift work evaluation more simple. But there's another dynamic at work here - an interpersonal dynamic! Just between you and me, I think I work on the most egotistical ward in the world.

I deliberated for some time about moving to this ward purely because of its personality - it's known for nastiness, and with good reason. Individually each person can be quite pleasant but when working as a pack they have the ability to tear shreds off the poor innocent who does not conform to their way of thinking or nursing. That most of them have never worked outside of this particular ward is inconsequential. That they are parochial and shallow doesn't concern them. They know best. All the time. Period.

In the end it was yet another old lady with a fractured hip that forced my hand. I just couldn't face another fractured hip when I've always loved abdomens. So I moved away from my previous ward home and stepped into the danger zone where I've had plenty of opportunity to observe the dynamic. It's all there from the pack mentality to the stunning alteration in behaviour when one of the pack is isolated from their pals.

Today I concluded it isn't so much about nastiness as egos. As I said, they always know best so any new staff member must be tested by picking holes in their practice until the pack are satisfied that the new nurse also knows best.

I come into the ward in a slightly different position from the average new staff member - they already knew me from my previous position, and conversely, I was aware of their idiosyncrasies. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed, so over the last few weeks I've been steeling myself for the move. In discussions with my spiritual director I've been planning exactly how I will approach the situation. What character will I display in the midst of the morass? How will I be different from those around me? What can I do as I leave the house that will give me strength in the middle of the battle?

To be very, very honest, I didn't come up with a definite plan. I stuck a photo of the green lacewing insect on my fridge as a reminder that God is with me and promised to look at it, breathe deeply and commit myself to God as I stepped out the door each day. That was about the extent of my planning.

Yet somehow, just doing that seems to have helped. I have sensed God's presence with me - I've even had the strength to walk away from a gossip-fest. I can see the good and bad buried in my heart (those gossip-fests are so tempting!) but somehow the good is coming through. Lately I've been drifting through life following the crowd - it's become so bad that sometimes I won't even speed up the windscreen wipers in the rain unless I see other people wiping quickly! Now, all of a sudden I have the courage to be different. It's as if seeing the unattractive characteristics of others has turned a spotlight onto what I don't want to be, and I feel spurred on to display the opposite*. And it feels good.

So after two weeks on the ward I'm still not sure about nursing in the long term, and shift work definitely hasn't won me over - but I'm loving the way this job is stretching me and growing my soul in a way I haven't grown for a long time.

*Disclaimer: this is not intended as an indication of having attained angelic status. Hidden inside, the bitch still lives. She's just locked up for now!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

sleep in the family bed

Two nights ago I woke around midnight to a rapidly beating heart that no amount of deep breathing would steady. I lay there tense as a set mousetrap ready to spring, vainly attempting to calm myself before finally admitting defeat and getting up to read the bible and complete the hardest Sudoku puzzle ever. Eventually I closed my eyes and slept.

I suppose it could have been indigestion from that amazing chicken vindaloo I consumed at high speed earlier in the evening that woke me. However I think it more likely that stress wrenched me from my dreams because, come to think of it, I haven't been sleeping well for the last few nights.

I'm not someone who normally lies awake for hours trying to nod off. Sheep in the backyard or not, I rarely resort to counting how many times they jump in and out of our yard. Nope, my head hits the pillow and I'm away to the land of sleep and fantastic fantasy, and not much will wake me.

Yet here I've been, night after night lying in bed unable to fall asleep. And, come to think of it, there have been significant stressors to weather in the last few days: Frank's birthday, for which I procrastinated so long over the choice of present I ended up with nothing; my new job; adjustment to shift work (I swear it's not natural to run around on cement floors until 10 o'clock at night); and... the visit of the mother-in-law.

Bingo! I think we're onto something here.

I don't go for all those stereotypical relational patterns, so I always imagined that when I obtained a mother-in-law I would just be my usual cheerful self, chattering away with disarming amiability and all would be well. We would get along nicely and in the process blow all those in-law fables out of the water.

It is with much sadness that I report it IS NOT SO!

I was naive - those stereotypes exist for good reason. They are not fables. Mother-in-laws are not nice. Or at least mine isn't. I do not have a good relationship with her and I confess I do not want one. She is a hard, humourless person who spent four days dishing out insult after insult. She invaded my space, passed subtle judgement on just about everything Frank and I do and scrubbed my stove.

OK. The stove was a good thing. It needed scrubbing.

Without consulting me, the cake-baking-queen, she went out and bought Frank a birthday cake and insisted that it was for him and not to be shared with anybody. At one point I became so angry I heard a distinct buzzing noise in my ears as the scene before me moved in and out of focus. It's really no wonder I wasn't sleeping!

Where does this all leave me now, with the mother-in-law gone and sleep covering me like a blanket once more?

Sad. I feel overwhelmingly sad. For myself, as I lay my pleasant mother-in-law dreams to rest. Sad for my mother-in-law, who has chosen hardness of heart over deep relationship with those she loves. Sad for my husband, who loves his mother and his wife, and is torn between his own dreams and the reality of in-law relations.

I'm also thankful. Thankful for the strength to hold my tongue. For increased awareness whereby we strive to understand ourselves and others and so work to build more meaningful relationships with one another. For my husband, who sees where he came from and longs to be different. I'm thankful for the relationship Frank and I share, a relationship that is ever developing into something more deep and caring.

Yes, it was a tough few days, but all is not lost. While we're apart I'll work up the courage to keep holding out olive branches of peace to my mother-in-law. Hopefully we'll learn to understand each other better. Over time, maybe we can move closer to that pleasant relationship I once dreamed of. Maybe.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

admitting defeat

The zucchini plants are dead and so I must admit defeat. I cannot achieve 200 zucchinis from six plants in one season.

It might have been possible except for the sheep. We've had no frost, the heavens split open and rained down on the earth. All things being equal those zucchinis would be busting out of their skins as we speak.

But all things are not equal - those blasted sheep have eaten everything. Right down to the last stem. Everything except the giant zucchini I left to see how big it would get. (50cm and measuring)

So 191 it is. 191 zucchinis in one brief summer. Amazing!

Hang on a minute - there's still that great big giant of a marrow!

192 I do declare!

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bessie the boy sheep

It turns out that Bessie the sheep is not a Bessie after all. Or Betsie, or any other slightly feminine name you might suggest.

Betsie is a boy. I discovered this when he peed in front of me. From his stomach.

At this point I observed some heretofore unnoticed appendages.

Since then Bessie... ur... Bertie... ur... the boy sheep... has been noted chasing Blackie wildly around the yard like a ram in a vain attempt to hump her. For he isn't a ram, he's a whether, long since castrated.

So the search is on for a new name for Bessie the boy sheep. Look at his beautiful face...

... I said his face! Not his appendages! Poor boy.

Any names come to mind? I need suggestions here!


Friday, May 18, 2007

you really think you're smart?

"Think your smart?"

Every day for two weeks I have walked past a sign so emblazoned. The spelling error is irritation enough but it's coupled with this:

"Think your smart? Join our quiz on Friday night!"

Think you're smart running a quiz so advertised? Please!

To laugh or to cry grab a piece of chalk and fix it myself?!

don't sue me... I'll sue you!

One day a raw recruit newly added to the army of environmental activists, the next, taking the government to court!?!

Well I suppose I'm taking the government to court... since I'm now a member of the Wilderness Society, and they're taking the government to court.

It's all a bit bigger than I had anticipated, but this is how the story goes... Read it and weep. I do every time I think about it!

Tasmania's biggest timber company proposes the construction of a squeaky clean, green pulp mill on the banks of the beautiful, peaceful Tamar, jewel of the north of Tasmania. They promise they will use only the latest technology that will only minimally damage the environment.

An independent review panel is established and the community is invited to make submissions on any aspect of the project.

As the review process continues it gradually becomes apparent that things are not proceeding according to plan. The state government begins exerting pressure on the review panel, requesting that they speed up the process, maybe even ignore important details of the application. Consequently the chair of the panel resigns.

Tasmania's biggest company is troubled by this - they have invested wads of money in the project and, quite frankly, they cannot afford the delay posed by the resignation of the review panel chair. They've also changed their mind about the squeaky clean, green idea, instead revealing plans for a different mill that will create significantly more pollution. They consequently pull out of the review process - it's not really meeting their needs anyway.

If it was anyone other than the biggest company in Tasmania, the project would be well and truly dead in the water. But no, this company has some big friends in high places.* So the politicians run around like crazy searching for an alternative way to approve the pulp mill.

Of course they don't have to look very far - they are the decision makers of the country after all! They immediately pass new laws that allow for an alternative approval process, and because they're clever enough to realise that the mill would not have passed the initial stringent environmental standards, they water down the environmental requirements at the same time. They also demand that any member of the public wishing to comment on the proposol must send their submissions to the company making the proposol. And since every politician in the state and country places the almighty dollar before serenity, beauty and peace of mind, they decide they will be the ones to make the final decision on whether the pulp mill shall proceed or not. Before the alternative review process has even begun, everyone in the state knows the mill will be approved. Indeed it already has been.

Now not everyone in the state or nation is happy with these developments. They smack of deceit and a complete lack of integrity. The stench of power misused hangs heavy over the proceedings. These people are not willing to give up on their dream of a beautiful wilderness state. They will not accept this mill without a fight. Or at least without an honest appraisal that is not patently biased and flawed.

So fight they do. They go right for the top. To the Federal Minister for the Environment. They declare that he has acted against the Constitution of Australia by allowing the initial review process to be discarded in favour of another shady approach. They go so far as to suggest he has broken the law. The environmental activists book a date in court at the end of the month.

Tongues start wagging all around the country... of course those who support the pulp mill start baying for the blood of the environmentalists for here is yet another delay that threatens the viability of their mill. Those who oppose the mill are euphoric - someone is doing SOMETHING to fight this monstrosity! There is hope. Could it be that as the Franklin Dam was defeated in the eighties, the Pulp Mill might be defeated in the twenties?!

Here's hoping!

To be continued...

(Meanwhile I'll keep scratching my head about the possibility I might be taking a politician to court. Kind of... Maybe?)

*not God I'm thinking!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

an environmental activist is born (or 'sue me too')

Frank has been hopping mad for the last couple of days, and today I finally figured out why. (It's not me!) I just read something he read yesterday and now I'm hopping mad too!

Last week a friend alerted me to an article in "The Monthly" (an Australian "thinker's" journal I'd never even heard of until this week) by Richard Flanagan called 'Gunns. Out of control.' Frank and I have both been gripped by the devastating story it reveals.

Gunns is a large Tasmanian company intent on destroying this beautiful state. They tear down huge swathes of forest for the production of woodchips. This is a travesty Frank and I have been aware of for some time. We had not been aware of the extent of the problem.

As it turns out, Gunns is not only ruining our forests, it's also destroying the social fabric of our state through lies, deceit, bribery, and basically ripping everybody off for their own corporate profit. They are tearing the heart out of our state, and it would seem both sides of government are standing back giving tacit nods of approval.

More recently Gunns has been intent on constructing an enormous pulp mill just 40 kilometres from my house. This entails more than just a stinking mill pumping out pollution faster than it pumps out woodchips. It means doubling the rate of forest destruction in order to maintain wood supply to the ever hungry mouth of the mill. This will have even greater detrimental environmental and societal impact.

Of course Frank and I have been aware of the proposed pulp mill. We've even been to two anti-pulp mill rallies. We are aware that Gunns pulled out of the independent review process established for the mill. We know the government has consequently developed its own review process that will provide the rubber stamp Gunns needs to move ahead with its project. We know that anyone with any power in this state is working their butt off to ensure a smooth approval of the mill. We're fairly confident that Gunns is directly or indirectly lining every pocket in sight to guarantee their project succeeds.

We also recognise that unless every person in this state (and beyond) who does not want this pulp mill makes a loud noise, it will be built and we will all suffer its ill effects. Even if we all make a loud noise it may happen anyway - Gunns has a history of suing anyone who publicly disagrees with their activities. They have the money and the power to do what they want. What a sad indictment on our society.

So today I became a member of the Wilderness Society. (I know - how radical!) I spoke with a local campaigner and was invited to help out in any way I'm able. If I can get past the dreadlocked, flowing skirt, hippie stereotype I've built up in my mind, I just might do that! For now I'll be putting my money where my mouth is and making my voice heard in letters to politicians.

This has got to stop. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Let's keep it that way!

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yummy cake

Months ago I found a recipe for 'Vanilla Pear Cake'. Corella pears are boiled whole in vanilla syrup then pressed into the vanilla, almond, and chocolate batter for baking.

I've never really heard of Corella pears, but the other day I found some at my favourite green grocer, so I purchased 8 and cooked up a storm...

It looked so good we couldn't hold back even for a photo... this is what's left. Absolutely delicious.

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television tears ii

Watching the news tonight, this report made me weep... how can these things happen?



I got a little carried away in Kmart this morning...

What? Are you sniggering? I'll have you know it's very fashionable! And warm! And on top of the 25% off, it also had a slight defect so it was reduced even further. What a bargain! What I particularly love about this is that I'm not pregnant, but I get to wear pregnant clothes...

But I certainly won't be caught dead wearing it with these tights (or any other similar leggings) in public. (Which begs the question why I'm publishing this on the internet. Hmmmm)

I guess I'll have to go buy some suitable trousers then!

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

meeting god


You can't quite pin it down, no matter how hard you try. It slips and slides away, a tangle of slimy plastic that cannot reconciled by knife and fork.

So, also, is my head. Spaghetti head.

I can't quite pin them down, no matter how hard I try. Those thoughts and feelings slip and slide away, a tangle of loose threads whose ends never quite meet up. As I track along the length of one notion, I lose it in the cauldron of seething emotions that bubbles inside my head: Angry, broken. Self righteous, penitent. Forgiving, furious, vindictive, loving... swirling, lunging, ducking, diving, in and out and around each other.

What exactly do I feel? Where is clarity? Which words express my thoughts precisely? Would a tantrum be acceptable? No? What would you suggest is appropriate behaviour then? If I must behave, why must not everyone else also behave? Is there no standard? Are we all drifting in an inexplicable fog?

How do I fit fractured relations into a soul designed for love and wholeness? Their shapes will not be reconciled. Must I forever live with pain, the haunting loss, the grief over what will never be?

What about truth? How do I explain when people of truth tell lies? Must I accept their slur or should I expose their deceit? Should I allow my indignation to fade away, declining to seek vindication for myself and those I love? Or am I justified in pursuing truth, forcing it from their lips for the sake of a principle? Is the principle even important or should I let it rest?

And what of unfulfilled desires? My dreams? Am I simply selfish if I cling to them or can I lean on people to make them happen? Should I lay them down in the dust and walk away, or remain strong in my hope? Can I remain strong in the face of continual disappointment?

Spaghetti. So many thoughts and emotions slipping and sliding across each another.

And yet God speaks.

In a soaring bird. "Cecily, see it does not only soar. Sometimes it must also flap its wings to stay aloft. Right now you too must flap your wings as you chase your thoughts and seek out clarity. That is not bad. Ride it out. This time will pass and you will soar effortlessly once more. And while you wildly flap your wings, I will keep you airborne. You will not fall." Ah, thankyou God. You are my assurance.

In a caring friend. Cecily, I am going to pray 4 u today for some clarity + peace of mind. God will help you. "See, God whispers, I am with you in the thoughts and prayers of your friend. I have not forgotten you." Thankyou God. You are my comfort.

In a book. "Prayer helps correct my myopia, calling to mind a perspective I daily forget. I keep reversing roles, thinking of ways in which God should serve me, rather than vice versa... Prayer raises my sight beyond the petty... Prayer allows me to admit my failures, weaknesses, and limitations to One who responds to human vulnerability with infinite mercy." (Prayer, Philip Yancy) "Look up Cecily, look up to me. You do not need to know all the answers, you do not need to sort every thought and feeling into a catalogued system of understanding. I understand. I know where every thought and feeling fits. I know you. I love you." God... You accept me with all my frailty and failings? You take me as I am? You're big enough to handle all your business and mine? My business IS your business? Incredible, I breathe, Thankyou God for your greatness coupled with compassion.

Yes, God is good. Lifting my eyes from the spaghetti, I see him. And he is all clarity and beauty.

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soul food

More years ago than I care to count, I first touched a piano. It must have been a truly inspiring moment, since I have absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever! Was I a baby, banging away from the vantage point of my mother's lap? A toddler, stretching to reach the keys with my pudgy fingers? Did I sit on a stool as as a four year old and pretend to be a child protegee?! I have no idea.

That first touch of the golden keys maybe wasn't so memorable, but it must have been at least a little inspiring since I was drawn back to touch those keys again and again. I started having lessons with Mr Briggs in Coonabarabran (yes, that's a place, not a fancy Australian brand of breakfast cereal!). Then it was Mrs Koster in Ararat and an eisteddfod or two where I played 'Istan the Bull' to polite applause, before exams in Newcastle under the tutelage of... um... I can't remember her name!?! I do however have vivid recollections of her German Shepard sitting beside the piano and farting his way through every lesson.

Ah, music soothes my soul - even scales and exercises! Crazily I like scales. It's similar to making patient's beds at work... my mind travels to far away places while my fingers and hands do the work. Very therapeutic.

At the time I don't think I appreciated the gift my parents gave me in all those piano lessons. I also doubt I realised the pain they must have endured as I fumbled my way through piece after piece! Only now when I haven't had a piano to play for years, except at church, do I recognise the value of the sacrifice they made.

Ah, I'm getting weepy. Thanks Mum and Dad! What a treasure you placed in my hands when you introduced me to that first piano!

Music is more than a pleasant background filler (though I partake of that too!). It lifts my spirit, delights my heart, heals my hurts, feeds my soul. Music works its magic in my heart, drawing forth tears of joy, eliciting shivers of ecstasy, satisfying my deepest longings for beauty. Not just a gift from my parents, it is a gift from God.

And now music is spilling over in my life in the most exciting way!
We bought a piano! (Read 'Frank bought me a piano'. Another incredible gift)

The delivery
(oops... forgot the camera until it was too late)

careful maneuvering down the driveway

Oh. Oh. Steps! Be careful!

Ooooo... just too exciting! Almost there!

Removing the piano trolley...

Installed and ready to go.
Let me at it!

Ah. The moment I've dreamed about!

Did you pick up the level of my excitement in the step by step photographic record?! I'm thinking the removalists got in the picture!

Now when you walk past my house you'll hear me banging away at the keys... and delight of delights, singing my heart out to God. Sure I hope to get back into some of the classical music I haven't played for years, but sitting at the piano the last couple of days has been like gulping down a huge glass of cold water just as I'm about to pass out from dehydration. Life saving.

Music deepens my relationship with God, and right when I've been feeling my most spiritually shrivelled I'm given the chance to play and sing to God. As I said, life saving. And marvellous. Even more marvellous is the way he graciously meets me and refreshes my heart as I worship.

Ah, the joy of life. The gifts I've been given. Thankyou God.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

gotta love those eyebrows!

Ha ha!!! This is why I like being Australian! Where else could you ask such a question and not get thrown in jail?! Or detention, or something?!

Besides, I've always thought John Howard's eyebrows needed a bit more work. Nothing a good beautician couldn't fix though. (How much do you really want to win this election Mr Howard?!)

all we like sheep...

I've learned quite a bit about sheep today:
  1. Not only do they like strawberry plants, they're also fond of zucchinis (the four they chewed are included in the zucchini tally because, by hook or by crook, I'm going to make it to 200!)
  2. They also like beetroot leaves, leeks (they were just starting to perk up after the tomatoes stopped crowding them) and mildew
  3. They're not as dumb as they look!
I've always assumed sheep are dumb. If they have any rational thoughts outside of which blade of grass to eat next, they might stretch to:

"There's a fence over there. It keeps me in. I won't try and get over it or around it or through it because it is supposed to keep me in. That's the way life is."

That's what I always thought.

Until I came home today to find one little sheep outside the fence, innocently munching on the lovely green grass on the other side. (Who told her the grass is greener on the other side?!)

I put my best Australian sheep rounding-up skills into gear (bit tricky without a trusty sheep dog at my side, I can tell you!) and hustled her back into the yard before hastily phoning Frank for some advice.

No problem, he said. Just go ask the neighbour if he can come and bang some pegs into the ground and hold the fence down that way.

Sure, I thought. I can do that. Later. That sheep won't try and get out again while I'm sitting inside the house. She wouldn't dare.

And so when I tootled outside not more ten minutes later - there she was again, cheekily munching on the greener grass outside again! On seeing me she ran wildly towards the fence, but alas, could not get back through without my help. (all we like sheep... hmmm... there's an analogy in there for sure!) Once I pulled the fence open she timidly sidled past me. I'd like to say she sidled past with her tail between her legs but one, she has no tail, and two, she showed no shame. She just stared regretfully at the lost grass.

It was at that point that I ran post haste to the neighbour and asked for help. He dragged himself from his afternoon nap (he is nearly 80 after all) and banged a peg into the ground here, and a wire into the ground there. At the end of it the whole fence looked significantly worse than it had before we started, so we found some lumps of wood and threw them down at the base before strategically placing the washing trolley right over the escape route for best effect.

Not the sturdiest fence I've ever seen! But it kept those not-so-dumb sheep in until Frank came home and made a proper job of it.

So there you go... all my preconceived ideas about sheep have been blown out of the water. They're not dumb and they're not innocent.

I'm beginning to wonder if this was such a great idea after all.

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another blogworthy thursday

Another Thursday night, another get-me-to-a-computer-I-have-to-post moment!

No, it wasn't an agist conversation with the checkout boy. Nor a reflection on the inanity of 30 women prancing and dancing mindlessly around a swimming pool for 45 minutes.

Nothing so exciting. Nothing so nice.

My car was broken into. Yes. Even in tiny Tasmania, cut off from the rest of the world, these things do happen.

As I pranced, danced and swirled through the water a pesky kid (I imagine) shoved a screw driver into my door lock and forced their entry into my little Corolla.

As I kicked, puffed and jogged, he rifled through my glove box, scrummaged through my boot and picked over the empty chocolate wrappers on the back seat.

What did he get for all his efforts?

Nothin'! I don't leave anything in my car and I don't have a CD player. The cassette tapes are all worn out from over use and the green supermarket bags hold no treasures. My purse was with me... all that rummaging around turned up a big fat zero for the kid searching for a quick windfall in the dark.

So the bad news is I was broken into and my key won't fit in the lock.

The good news is I still have a car and it still drives. You can't ask for much more than that! (Except maybe a new car... but that's a whole 'nother post!)


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

i just wanna be a sheep (ba ba ba ba)

They ate the strawberry plant.
But I still think they're cute.


Monday, May 07, 2007

chinese freeze tag

I've been tagged by Sandy. I know what that means, but what does 'chinese freeze tag' mean? I've googled it, and a million bloggers who've been playing the game appeared, but nothing that explained where 'chinese freeze' tag comes from! A cultural thing I'm thinking.

OK, this is the game. I have to tell you 10 interesting facts or habits about myself. Than I tag 10 more people who have to do the same thing. Around the globe, tagging forever.

1. My ideal life would be as a sheep or cow, grazing all the time. I don't do three square meals a day with no food in between, I just graze constantly on healthy food (if it's a good day) or junk (if it's a bad day). I justify this dreadful lack of eating discipline by recalling the "ideopathic hypoglycaemic" diagnosis I was given 8 years ago. I need to eat regularly!

2. My mind is almost never at rest. If I'm not blogging, reading or thinking, I'm probably drawing pictures in my head or practicing touch typing. I always draw the same thing (four houses in a 'circle' that you draw without lifting your pen off the page. If I'm really bored I continue on to a swirl that covers all the houses). I always type the same thing ("We are the reason that he gave his life, we are the reason that he suffered and died, for a world that was lost he gave all he could give, to give us a reason to live"). I'm sure this habit stems from the nightly sermons I endured as a teen at the tea table... I just drifted off into another place.

3. I'm highly distractable and easily bored. I read up to 10 books at once, rarely finish any of them, and can have three or four conversations with the same person at the same time, all running parallel to each other, connected by some obscure fact buried in the first sentence we spoke. A favourite past time is tracing back a conversation to discover how on earth I got from, say, sheep in the backyard to the way so and so did their hair today.

4. I hate being late (stemming from being dropped off right beside the school assembly on multiple occasions. Eventually the teacher asked Dad to be on time or drop us off somewhere else because nobody could hear what was being said at assembly), but I nearly always am. Not because I am really late, but because I am really early so I decide to do a couple of extra things on the way. And then I am late.

5. I hate it when people rev their engine loudly, or are obviously speeding. To teach them a lesson or two, I've developed the rather bad habit of staring them down. As I go to cross the road I carefully check for traffic. If a car is approaching at what I consider to be too fast a speed, I step out anyway and stroll across the road, eyeballing them the whole way. They invariably slow down and I always reach the safety of the other curb. I don't consider this to be playing chicken, rather I am encouraging safe driving on city streets. Of course this only works on relatively quiet streets such as can be found in Tasmania. I would not do this in London or New York or Manila or Istanbul!

6. I rather enjoy studying. I have two bachelor degrees and am working on a graduate certificate, with the goal of a masters one day. Maybe even two masters. I have hit a slight glitch though - I have a 3000 word assignment due today, which I discovered on Saturday when tidying up the papers on my desk. I will be late, and I'm not sure the two week 'grace period' extends to monumental disorganisation. But I'm going to try.

7. When I go grocery shopping I take a list, which I stick to until I hit the dairy section. Then I buy all sorts of enticing cheeses because they seem healthy... or fashionable. I'm talking Ricotta and Cottage cheese and Mascarpone here, not Blue vein or Camembert! The cheeses then sit in my fridge for weeks because I forgot which recipe I thought they might be good for, until they are so far past their use by date that not even I will venture to open the packet and see if they're OK. They are then tossed in the rubbish. All that money wasted. I must stop doing this!

8. I'm a bit of an ostrich. (Explaining why I'm blogging right now instead of feverishly producing 3000 words for my assignment) If I owe someone a letter, I don't immediately grab pen and paper and write. No. I feel so bad for taking so long to reply that I put off replying for even longer! Same with emails. Same with anything I should have done. I just duck my head and hope it will go away. The earth is still spinning on its axis, so I guess that means some things do go away and all remains well with the world.

9. I'm a fairly tidy person, but I need one space for messiness. As I tidy up the rest of the house, everything gets put in the messy space until I tidy the messy space. This could be weeks away and then it takes me several hours to sort through. Right now I'm staring at a whole week of sorting. Ostrich thoughts happening here! Interestingly, Frank likes things clean on the surface, so he goes around after me putting things away. So I can be an ostrich for even longer! Except I have no idea where anything is, so I have to clean up sooner. Frank is that your ploy?!

10. A favourite habit Frank and I have developed is reading together. Different books, different topics, but in the same room. As we find things particularly humerous or interesting we read them out to each other. It's very cosy and companionable. I love it.

There's my ten! Now for the tagging:

Robyn, Tamar, Merry, Leah, Michelle, Luke, Melissa, Jenny, Paige... that's all I can think of. And I understand if you don't want to do it, but I only read a few blogs, so all hands on deck! Enjoy or ignore as you choose.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

summing up (because I'm brain dead)

I'm too tired to think straight and I feel crowded in my thinking. That may explain my commenting absence on your blogs. Never fear, I shall return. And because I know you're hanging on every word I write, eager to hear about my world, I here provide a summary:
  1. I finished my job yesterday. No more working with graduate nurses. I have one week off and then I'm back to being a ward pleb doing shiftwork. There's good and bad in that and I feel rather jumbled inside. My old ward gave me the most beautiful bunch of flowers, people said nice things about me (I partially agreed) and we all ate cake.
  2. It's still raining. Well it stopped long enough for me to get one load of washing dry, but otherwise it's windy, wet and deliciously wintery. Just not very cold.
  3. We have sheep in our backyard. The neighbours ran out of grass for their two sheep and our yard is full of fat, juicy weeds, so (with the neighbour's permission) we took some palings out of the fence and the sheep now step right on over and eat our weeds. They also gaze soulfully from behind the makeshift fence across the driveway and look totally cute. They will make do as children for a little while. (The difference being that I wouldn't leave my children out in the rain) We've named them Blackie and Betsie.
  4. Amazing what one can achieve when not continually checking blogs for comments or new posts! I managed to resist the computer all morning (it helped that my internet connection was down for a few hours) and powered through an extensive list of tasks. Get this though... I made a dentist's appointment! It's not until 12th June, so I've plenty of time to stew about it. But the first step is made. Yay.
  5. I have to wash the car this weekend. The engine has been playing up and on Tuesday we will visit the mechanic... I would be mortified if they saw how filthy it is right now. I haven't washed it since I posted about it at the beginning of the year. Thankfully the rain is washing all the dirt away. Hopefully it's also drowning all the spiders. That just leaves the vacuuming and dusting inside!
  6. Most exciting of all - chocolate has only one food additive listed amongst it's ingredients. A nice emulsifier that is beneficial. Go the chocolate I say!
OK. I'm off to floss my teeth. (Got to make a good impression)

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

out with the tim tams

I'm quite pleased to be Australian. There's something about our laid back, pragmatic view of the world that I find particularly appealing, which is a good thing really, since I had absolutely no say on which culture I was born into!

The other thing I like about being Australian is Tim Tams. I don't like to upset all you non-Aussies out there, but if you haven't eaten Tim Tams... well... you haven't lived!

Smooth chocolate bar centre layered between crisp chocolate biscuits, coated with a creamy outer layer of chocolate. Mmmmm, delicious. Even better as a 'slam dunk'... both ends bitten off, hot chocolate slurped up the centre, eaten just before all the chocolate slops through your fingers. Ahhhh, wonderful. Oreos, eat your heart out! When I was living in London I used to spend a small fortune on Tim Tams at the "Australia Shop" in Covent Garden. All for a Tim Tam taste of home.

You can therefore, imagine my despair when today I discovered just how bad the beautiful Tim Tam really is.

I've been half heartedly attempting to eat more natural, healthy food. (Until a craving for sugar or fat overwhelms me, at which point my self-discipline runs off somewhere else and I cave immediately) In my effort to be more health conscious, my aunt kindly sent me a little gem of a book called "The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion" by Bill Statham.

Well, I thought it was a little gem of a book. Then I started reading it! Within the pages of this book are listed all the food additives, colours and cosmetic ingredients of the world. OK, maybe not the world, but definitely Australia. Each mysterious number from the ingredients of packaged food is given a name and a rating: safe/beneficial to humans, safe for most, questionable, best avoided and hazardous.

What a great idea - to be informed about what I'm eating and how it might effect my health! I was so excited that I immediately ripped open the package and pulled food from the cupboard to check out exactly what I was consuming.

First stop Love Potion Tim Tams. (An even more amazingly delicious, limited edition variety)


Last stop Love Potion Tim Tams.

I forgot to read the warning on the back cover: Reading this book may seriously influence the choice of foods you eat and personal care products you use. Tim Tams are very, very bad for you. Fat and sugar aside, they are full of hazardous additives. I list some for your eating safety:

150c Caramel III - ammonia caramel. Potentially causes hyperactivity; may affect liver, stomach, reproduction; caused convulsions in some animal tests; blood toxicity in rats, lowered white cell count in rats.

129 Allura Red - Banned in some countries. Potentially causes asthma, hyperactivity; allergic reactions; hay fever; urticaria; aspirin sensitive people may wish to avoid; adverse reproductive effects in animals; carcinogenic

110 Sunset Yellow FCF - Banned in some countries. Potentially causes asthma; urticaria; hay fever; abdominal pain; eczema etc...

133 Brilliant Blue FCF (of previous green poop fame) - Banned in some countries. Potentially causes asthma, urticaria, hay fever, NRC, allergic reactions etc...

On and on I kept reading through the ingredients, checking out every little number listed, my horror growing with each revelation. Those delicious Tim Tams? Such a source of evil additives? How can this be?!

I will admit that I found a few beneficial agents, such as 322 Lecithin, but the balance was overall less than favourable.

Oh the dilemma. What to do? What to do?! I have three or four packets of Tim Tams in the cupboard (they were on special I swear! I'm very controlled. They've been there a couple of weeks already)... to eat or not to eat? Risk the bad additives or savour the deliciousness?

I don't know!

But just in case Arnotts reads this and decides to sue me for libel I'm going to say I'll eat them.

OK. I'm really going to eat them because I love them.
But I might not buy any more.

Unless they're on special.

Thanks Aunty G for a great book! I think it might change my life.

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