Friday, November 30, 2007

the winning outfit

There can be no question of the validity of purchasing a new outfit - it won me a job! Hush, hush about which one, but since almost no one in Tasmania knows what a blog is, I feel it is probably safe to let you know I had a good day. And I only felt dizzy for about two hours (in the middle of the second interview unfortunately), so it's all good.

Three interviews down, one to go next Thursday! I will tell more later.

(And yes, that's a very ugly sandal tan on the feet. Yucky, yucky. I will peel soon I hope)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

hope for the future

I went to the doctor today and he was in fact alright - kind of weird that he kind of knew me, but alright. He restrained himself from inviting me to become an Amway dealer or Melaleuca saleswoman, however he could not resist telling me about a good environmental website. He also listened well enough (although when he suggested I should eat more regularly I felt he had missed the whole point of this dizziness being uncommonly strange) and ordered a raft of tests.

In case you're medically minded: (If you're not medically minded and find this kind of thing boring (Mum) skip to the next paragraph!)
  • ECG - normal
  • BSL - 3.9 as a result of late lunch due to GP running almost an hour late (thus the 'eat more often' comment)
  • BP - 144/92 (yes, that's high, but not life threateningly so)
  • Urinalysis - positive for ketones (due to muscle breakdown as a result of late lunch)
  • Ears - no comment so I'm assuming they were OK
  • Blood tests including lipids and thyroid - to be attended tomorrow morning before breakfast
True to form, I started feeling better this afternoon (about the time Robyn phoned and told me I should stop driving immediately if I'm dizzy!), although the dizziness has come back a little now, along with a headache.

When I went to aqua aerobics a few of the ladies were talking about a nasty flu that's going around and causing a lot of dizziness. Chances are this has all been a virus and I panicked for no reason. So I'm a nurse. And I've heard of younger and younger patients having strokes and dying of heart attacks lately. I wanted to cover all my bases.

Anyway, it appears I am not dying. Which is good because tomorrow I have two interviews for school chaplaincy positions. Both for primary schools, one in quite a poor area of the city.

I'm very excited and decided this was just cause for a new outfit - had to get the look right you know. Not too dressed up (need to look as if I'm relaxed and easy to relate to), not too casual (have to look reliable), not too trendy (don't want to look like a try hard), not too drab (yes, I can relate to children and their peer pressures). So I've gone for three quarter black pants, white singlet top and cute little cornflower blue short sleeved cardi. Noice. Now I just need to convince Frank the purchases were absolutely necessary!

I must away and prepare my answers for any possible questions!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

healthy determination

Today was a repeat of yesterday. Dizzy head, came home, lay around doing nothing, still feeling dizzy. With a few minor differences.

  • I got daring and had someone check my blood pressure at work. Yes it's high.
  • I cried because high BP puts me at risk of having a stroke. (Such a nurse) This is a scary thought. I'm also feeling fed up with the constant sensation of keeling to the left as if I will fall over. I'm also dreading the prospect of antihypertensive medication should it be required. (I don't think my crying and hyperventilation did anything to help reduce the BP either)
  • I made an appointment at the GP tomorrow. Even better, I made an appointment with a different GP than last time. Unfortunately I kind of know him and find his attempts to enlist Frank in his latest multilevel marketing venture somewhat annoying. But it was the only appointment I could get at short notice in the practice I want to sign up to! Hopefully this new GP will be more helpful and concerned.
  • I went for a big, fast walk. Actually it wasn't such a big walk, but it was more than I usually do. I was inspired by my friend who told me about her friend who has quite high blood pressure but manages to control it with exercise. My head felt dizzy for most of the walk, as if I might fall over with every step, but I made it around the circuit of streets I selected.

There is some progress here. It strikes me as ridiculous to know what might be wrong with me but do nothing about it. Even more ridiculous to know how to fix the problem but make no moves in that direction. So I'm lifting the head out of the sand and working towards managing my health more effectively.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Four days to go and nablopomo seems to have caught up with me.

Not that I've run out of things to say. Still going strong there. But I'm not well and I suspect NaBloPoMo has contributed.

I had the whole dizzy head thing again, but dragged myself off to work anyway. When I arrived we were overflowing with staff (very rare) so I asked to be able to go home sick and my wish was granted! I ended up sleeping for four hours this morning, bumming around doing nothing all afternoon and I'm about to crash into bed early tonight too.

This dizzy head thing - what is it? High blood pressure again (I can feel my pulse in my chest and abdomen when I'm just lying down, so quite possible)? Or something less sinister? I found out today there is a form of migraine that manifests itself as dizziness/vertigo?

Whatever the cause, it is most disconcerting to continually feel that I am keeling over to the side. I promise I shall try and go to the GP this week. In the meantime, I need to stop cramming late night writing into the cracks of my life when I really should be sleeping. Thank goodness there are only four days to go. In fact three after this post! Yay.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

a little tassie laugh

I was going to write a big serious post about all the things I've been reflecting on, but my head has been dizzy all day, I'm still tired (entirely self inflicted - had to see who won Australian Idol) and I just need something quick, easy and light. So here it is.

Tasmania has a culture and a life all its own. If there were just a few more people living here you might even hear calls for us to secede from Australia. As it is, most people are smug in their believe that Tasmanians are smarter and better than all other Australians and life here is better than anywhere else in the country. They might be right about the better life, but there has been so much inbreeding in all those isolated country communities you don't have to travel far to meet a multitude of the local intellectually challenged. The inbreeding is so well recognised that scientists flock here to study the resultant genetic disorders. But that thing about all Tasmanians sporting a scar on their shoulder after being born with two heads... that one isn't true. Anyway, life in Tassie is pretty good and consequently mainlanders are viewed with some suspicion around these parts.

A lot of very clever television ads have sprung from this parochial mentally. One memorable beer ad featured a group of men building a giant wall along the north coast - to keep the mainlanders out. Another saw a massive outboard motor attached to the island to pull us away from the mainland.

Perhaps my favourite Tassie ads though are these ones for Betta Milk. I've been hunting for them on the internet for months and now they've appeared on You Tube. I'm so excited to be able to share them with you so you too can begin to think like a Tasmanian. (It's unfortunate that in my internet searches I discovered that Betta Milk is owned by the mainland company who also own Pura Milk. But we'll ignore that little fact for now)


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

i have a dream

I feel quite deflated tonight.

Not because I'm unhappy with the election result (in fact I am very happy with it).

Perhaps because I stayed up too late last night just to hear Kevin Rudd give his acceptance speech. After I stayed up too late the night before. And too late the night before. And the night before... my head has been a little dizzy all day.

Mostly I'm deflated because I feel gypped by the Australian election process. Yes I wanted change. Yes I think our country has become more selfish, mean and self absorbed under Mr Howard's leadership and I would like to see us move towards embracing compassion, justice and good stewardship of more than just our money. But it's terribly harsh.

Last night I watched the whole thing, from the start of the count to Kevin Rudd's first speech as Prime Minister elect. I rode the crest of the ever increasing wave of Labour's victory and I rejoiced.

But at the same time I felt the pain of those who lost their seats. Some had been Ministers in the Liberal Government. Poof. Gone. Others had been representing their communities tirelessly for only three years. Again - poof, gone.

So black and white.

And yet the reality is so grey. In many areas (with our crazy system of preferences) it's difficult to know who an electorate really wants to represent them. Truth be told, I don't really want a Labour or Liberal candidate representing me, but in the end I had no option but to vote for one or the other at some point on my voting slip. No doubt there are countless others who feel as I do.

I always remember reading a book called 'Partly Right' by Tony Campolo. He points out that most philosophies, perspectives and political persuasions are... partly right. So Labour are partly right, Liberal are partly right and yes, even the Greens are partly right. But only one can be in Government at a time.

What a shame! Rather than work together for a better world, we tear each other apart and oppose each other for the sake of a parliamentary system built on 'keeping the bastards honest'. How much a better country would Australia be if we could take those partly right bits from each party and turn them into a whole right. We could all work together. We could make the world a better place by combining the best from every side.

Sounds like a much better idea to me. And then John Howard wouldn't be packing his bags after an embarrassing loss. He wouldn't be facing loss in his own electorate. Love and camaraderie would rule as we all work together for the greater good. That would be wonderful.

For now I'm just hoping Kevin Rudd can lead us forward wisely and well. Maybe we won't be as economically prosperous, but hopefully we can hold our heads proud and high as we respond to the pressing needs of our world with justice and integrity.

That's my dream. That Australia might lead the way in promoting peace, kindness, compassion and generosity. And that one day we'll all be one. Living in perfect harmony.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007


I felt like Scrooge this morning, all grumpy and miserable about Christmas and wishing everyone else would just stop the fuss.

All I wanted to do was duck into town and quickly gather a few supplies for a BBQ lunch we were hosting. I forgot (more precisely I didn't even know) about the annual Christmas Parade. As I tried to make my way to the necessary shops my path was obstructed by families sitting on the footpath munching on cheese and biscuits waiting for the parade.

Hello! Saturday morning? I need to get some jobs done and you're all in my way. Is this reasonable?

I parked my bike, locked it to a pole and waded through the crowds. One good thing was the emptying of the shops into the streets, so I received quick service. And I didn't have to worry about watching for traffic when crossing the road - once I'd cleared a path to the gutter I could stroll across with ease. However I did wish I hadn't worn my 'eat money?' T-shirt. It may have made an excellent political statement at the polling booth (I was hoping for a TV camera...) but walking out in front of several hundred people all geed up with excited anticipation at the thought of ute loads of dancing reindeer parading past - it might not have been such a great choice.

So I stomped through the crowds grumpily, begrudging everyone their sunny happiness.

Until I looked at everyone and really noticed them. Boys and girls scrubbed clean in spiffy Christmas clothing, relaxed laughter from mums and dads catching up with old friends, sunglasses, hats, sandals. All these people chilling out and enjoying the day.

How could I be grumpy about that? It was then I realised I was being a Scrooge - raining on everyone else's parade.

So I set a smile on my face, politely excused myself as I weaved in and out of the crowd and wished them all a fun parade before heading home for a my own relaxing time enjoying the sun with good friends.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

click go the shears

Today 'our' sheep took their place in the annals of Australian history.

They were shorn.

Sheep shearing has achieved something of an iconic status here, immortalised in art and song - who didn't learn 'Click go the shears boys, click, click, click' in primary school?! While most Aussies now live in nice houses in big cities, there was a time when Australian life was played out on the farm and in the shearing shed. It's where the Australian spirit came from, working on the land and doing it tough.

You can therefore understand my excitement when the shearer turned up today to clip the wool off our sheep. It was all a lot more dignified than I had expected.

First we lured the sheep into a makeshift pen. (I know... I can't believe they've grown that much either!)

Then we dragged them out to the front of the garage where our local shearing contractor had set up his machine. While Frank held Clive, the shearer set to work on Blackie. They baa-ed a bit at each other but were mostly quiet and still.

This is Blackie waiting for Clive to come... poor girl. So lost.

As soon as the shearing was complete they were allowed to go back into the backyard. Hey... they aren't so big after all!

They've been kind of bleating at each other forlornly all afternoon. Which I understand because they do look rather naked... the indignity of it all.

Actually they seem to be having trouble recognising each other. At first they gave each other a little sniff, then Blackie, emboldened by Clive's new smallness, kept head butting him. And he just stood there and took it, as if all his strength had been taken away with his wool.

So there you go. A taste of real Australia. Ah.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

postman, postman stop bringing those letters

Over at Dublin City Girl, Dublin City Girl wrote of her joy at recently receiving a real life letter.

I agree.
I love receiving real life letters.
I just hardly ever receive them.
However, despite hardly receiving any, I still check the letter box religiously with keen anticipation... reminds me of when I was a kid. At the slightest sound of the postman's motorbike coming up the street I would run out to meet him at the letter box. I think one year I was even waiting there with a Christmas present for him.

I don't run out and wait anymore, but I am still hopeful of receiving bona fide mail. It's a hope that makes for daily disappointment, a feeling that has only grown more intense over the last few weeks, for other than the steady stream of pre-Christmas junk mail (oh, and the credit card bill), all I receive is envelope after envelope filled with pre-election propaganda.

Apparently this election will have seen $60 million spent on advertising. I'm not sure if that includes all the mass mailings or not. If it does or doesn't, I'm heartily tired of the constant bombardment of claims and counter claims. Thank goodness for the media blackout on television and radio election advertisements that started last night... I was slowly going mad. Unfortunately I'm still receiving letters from my friendly local member of parliament (Michael) almost daily. If I'm not getting a letter from Michael I'm getting them from a local fat-cat businessman who supports him. I even received one from his wife! At first I sent them back, but before I'd even stuffed them in an envelope another two appeared in the letter box and eventually I gave up. These letters are nothing more than desperate measures in the face of polls suggesting Michael is going down.

It's a funny thing... when I am bombarded with letters telling me how to think, act and vote I want to do nothing more than think, act and vote in a completely opposite way. So Michael... all that money you spent on writing letters was wasted on me. I will not be voting for you. I will be looking forward to an empty letter box.

If you feel sorry for me after enduring such a barrage of propaganda or would just like to make my day by posting a real nice letter, just email me and I'll give you my address....

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

when is a crime not a crime?

Walking home from work today I crossed the road while the little man was red.

Hey, come on. I'm sure you've done it too! I needed to get home as quickly as possible so I could clean the bathroom before visitors came for tea. In the end they didn't come so I didn't clean the bathroom, but at the time when I crossed against the red light I thought I needed to get home fast.

Technically this is against the law - one should wait for the little green man to appear so as to avoid being knocked down by a car. But I checked the road each way and scuttled across without getting in anyone's way. (For the record, I don't do this if children are also waiting at the pedestrian crossing. For someone who has no children I am amazed that I even think to remember to set a good example)

So I crossed on the red... I committed a crime. A bit like a white lie... kind of a lie but an innocent one that does no harm. Kind of a crime but an innocent one that did no harm. A white crime. (For the record I don't tell white lies, though I sometimes manipulate information to make it sound better... which if you read carefully, I've done just now)

I suppose the police might have booked me if they had seen me. Then again, they might have more important, real crimes to investigate. My white crime might not have bothered them at all.

This semantics of crime or not crimes is all very interesting but inconsequential. Except that by coincidence my white crime was committed on a day when three young men were in court for another crime that many people don't consider a crime.

In the middle of October these blokes climbed a local landmark bridge and hoisted protest banners against the pulp mill. They were concerned for the future of their children and climbed the bridge with the intention of remaining perched up there for a week or so. The police had other ideas, and managed to climb up inside the bridge and forcibly remove the protestors. The three men were charged with trespass and willfully obstructing a police officer.

I'm not sure about the trespass thing - bridges on public roads are public property aren't they? Their taxes paid for it so technically they co-own it and have a right to climb it. I suppose that refusing to budge through eight hours of negotiation could be considered willfully obstructing a police officer... at a push. The judge doesn't seem so sure how to rule here either - he's retired for a week to think about it.

Whatever decision the judge hands down, these men have the people on their side. Outside the court was a crowd supporting them with banners and chants. Crime or no crime, most of us are delighted with their actions.

So if we're all glad they did it - was it really a crime? Was this a crime that wasn't a crime?

I'm not really sure I care - if it helps to stop the pulp mill it's all good in my books.

If you want to read about another crime that may not have been a crime, check this link for the weld angel.

She was charged and fined $2000 or so, but again I say bravo. (What I really want to know is if she had a catheter for the duration. I am such a nurse)

So when is a crime not a crime? When the people want it of course! (Is this a recipe for anarchy?)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Without even realising North America was gearing up for Thanksgiving, I wrote a post about feeling grateful enough to say a heartfelt thanks before my meals. I've now been reminded that Thanksgiving has almost come around, and Sandy has nominated me for a most excellent meme she created in which I must list three things I'm grateful for. So here goes:
  1. Birds. I just love listening to their song. Admittedly we are mostly serenaded by sparrows, starlings and blackbirds - nothing exciting there, but even they sound cheerful most of the time and listening to them does my heart good. On Maria Island we were treated to the calls of magpies, kookaburras, skylarks, black cockatoos (ok, that's a screech not a song!) and robin red breasts. The birds, they remind me to be cheerful and sing for joy too.
  2. My vegetable garden. It too does my heart good. I love puddling around pulling weeds, caressing leaves, pouring water, seeking out new growth. Actually I'm a little bit obsessed with the new growth - every day I'm down there peering through the bird netting to see how much they've shot up (the corn are doing nicely and the cucumber and pumpkin are putting out new leaves galore). As I ponder the garden I contemplate the life contained in a tiny seed and the time it takes for plants to reach maturity and bear fruit. This is no quick fix, instant vegetable machine... over weeks and months the produce is formed. I find this particularly encouraging, for in the plant life there is, I hope, a picture of my life. New life forming in me is no quick fix, instant, overnight success... over months and years I develop, grow, and mature. I'm thankful for the lessons I can learn through tending the garden.
  3. It was a stinking hot day here today... 30 (86) degrees and it's not even summer. This is almost unheard of in Tasmania. While I put the house into lock down to ensure it stayed cool I started thinking about the sheep. Those poor, poor sheep wrapped up in their woolly coats, unable to take them off even for a moment. This is trite, but I was grateful I am not a sheep. I am also grateful for the window tinting in our new car... cuts out lots of the sun rays and heat. Is this too shallow? I hope not, because I really was very glad and grateful.
There you have it... three beautiful things I am thankful for. If you want to give thanks too, please take this meme and run with it!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

maria island wonderland

Tasmania is an island of many wonders, but one very specific location here has taken on magical status in our hearts and minds. Maria Island.

It has grown to almost mythical proportions in our thinking as the one place we absolutely had to go. Maybe it was the trek to get there - Maria is out of the way (the best places always are aren't they). Tasmania is hard enough to get to, but add a three hour car trip followed by a ferry ride packed with everything you could possibly need for the length of your stay and we're talking isolated.

(That's 22 bikes there)

On the island there are no shops, no power, no phones, no kitchens, no internet... all the creature comforts stripped away - except for a solar powered hot shower which can be purchased for the bargain price of $1 for two minutes. Unfortunately Frank and I left our soap and shampoo behind at the caravan park in Triabunna so we had to forgo the shower and make do with moist wipes. (a medal to whoever invented those things) Some toilets were both flushing and equipped with toilet paper so we weren't really roughing it! Camping without the fuss.

Actually, apart from our monumental disorganisation, there was very little fuss for us. We figured we'd never get to Maria if we waited to arrange our own camping trip, so we booked on a group cycling tour.

All we had to do was turn up at the wharf with lunch for one day, a sleeping bag and a bike. Easy! Someone else booked the ferry ride, paid the national park fees, organised the food and did the cooking. While they did all that (thanks Chris and Tamara), we sat back and enjoyed the ride.

I use the term 'enjoyed the ride' rather loosely... for someone who has never ridden on anything but sedate asphalt paths, pelting through the bush on rocky, sandy and uneven tracks was something of an experience.

I discovered bones in my bottom I never knew existed, the palms of my hands hurt to touch anything, my knees aged 15 years and even my thumbs were sore from rubbing on the bike handles!

Not that I really have anything to complain about when compared to previous inhabitants of the island. In the 1820s and 1850s a few hundred convicts were sent out to Maria. Only the 'less criminal' convicts had the experience of scrunching into the tiny brick cells. The worst were sent to Port Arthur.

It must have been tempting to look across the water to the Tasmanian mainland and concoct escape plans - and in fact a few did manage to make it across the water. The convict settlement was soon abandoned.

The convicts were soon followed by settlers. One in particular, an Italian named Bernacchi, planted vineyards and crops in an effort to make a stack of money. He renamed the little township of Darlington 'San Diego' but in 1896 he went bust during a time of national economic hardship and Darlington became Darlington once more.

In the 1920s a cement works was established and around 600 workmen descended on Maria but the Great Depression put paid to those plans and the workmen moved over for a small community of farmers and graziers who worked the land until the 1960s.

At that point the Tasmanian Government decided that Maria was too precious a jewel to waste ,and it was declared a National Park. Because of its isolation from the mainland (which is isolated from an even bigger mainland) threatened species of Australian animals were introduced to preserve their numbers. Consequently Maria Island has become a native paradise... as dusk fell on Saturday night we were surrounded by young wombats, Cape Barron Geese, wallabies, grey kangaroos, pademelons, native hens and possoms. All the animals are wild, and since no one interferes with them we were able to stand 10 metres away from kangaroos and wallabies.

One sight that will stick in my mind forever (most particularly because my camera batteries had gone flat) is the mob of twelve kangaroos grazing in a grassy clearing that ran down to the deep blue water as the sun set. While the females pulled up grass the chief male roo bounded over to keep a watchful eye on his mob. What a peek into the world of nature.

And what an island... a tiny cosmos of everything that is Australian.

Gumtrees (I have a secret love affair with gums. They are such stately, majestic, graceful trees. Somehow they remind me of Ethiopian people, standing straight and tall and regal in the dry countryside)

Beaches... still too cold to swim but no less beautiful.

Geological marvels. (This is Painted Cliffs)

Magnificent coastline.

Wide open vistas.

Protected coves.

I'm running out of words... it was a fantastic, tiring, beautiful weekend.

Maria, we'll be back. And next time we might even rough it!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

satisfied feet

I confess I caught a little too much sun this weekend:

I also confess that yesterday my brother published my post for me.

I only feel a little bad about this because Frank and I fulfilled a long held dream and went to Maria Island for the weekend. We joined a two day adult education cycling trip and - despite forgetting to take breakfast for Saturday morning, losing Frank's diary, showers and cloud all Saturday, running out of camera battery in less than a day (despite charging four on Friday), torch batteries running flat, misplacing our metal camping bowls and leaving behind our shampoo and soap - we had a fantastic weekend.

Here's a sample of the scenery while I get a slide show and full report together!

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

weird meme

For those of you who know me, it probably comes as no surprise that I still haven't run out of things to say for Nablopomo! The ideas just keep on coming. But in the interests of a quick post I'm going to run with a meme Tracy nominated me for.

Here are the rules:
  • Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
  • Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  1. If I wasn't motivated by love for Frank I would probably not cook tea very often, resorting instead to rice crackers and chocolate. In fact I'm addicted to both, and frequently snack on them as I'm cooking tea... going on to eat a full tea of course. Which could explain the muffin top I see developing before my eyes. The only way to break this habit is to refrain from keeping either in the house.
  2. I love the idea of being healthy, I even think I am healthy, and quite possibly other people consider I look healthy, but in reality I do little exercise and I snack on rubbish when no one is looking. (see point 1)
  3. I've heard that we should all cultivate flexibility and one way of doing so is to follow a different route to work. I pride myself on being flexible, but I refuse to walk to work a different way. I don't feel like being observed at the traffic lights first thing in the morning so I choose a route that avoids all traffic lights. Yesterday I discovered another possible reason for this - I walk to town on my days off by a different route. I contemplated following the same path I trek to work but couldn't do it... too many associations. And then it clicked - the work path is a symbol of drudge and duty. The other route is a signal to rejoice for I am on a day off. Silly mind games.
  4. I am capricious. Although I like to think I am not. But really I just pick and choose when I want to be principled. (Think eating vegan/vegetarian here. If I don't feel like it, I won't and hang the animals who suffer)
  5. I like cleaning the bathroom. I think that possibly tops the list of weirdness!
  6. I also like grocery shopping. This does not seem at all weird to me, but I realise some other people might find it so.
  7. I never have time to do everything I need to... but I always find time to blog.
I'm not going to tag anybody, mostly because I'm running out of time and linking etc etc seems just too fiddly, but also because I'd hate to eliminate you from the game... so if you want to do it, just run with it!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

a little decorum please

I've noticed these little insects around our house for quite some time now.

I don't know what they are (possibly a variety of milkweed bug?), but most frequently they can be found... um... well... ah... having sex.

This is not like normal insect couplings however - these guys are truly inseparable. They do not break apart and scatter in different directions at the slightest fright. Even while being chased all over the rhubarb plant (as they were just now), they maintain their special bond. Which explains the poor quality of the photo... they just would not stand still.

So no, instead of splitting and hoping for the best, these little critters choose to run along in tandem. I find this a truly amazing feat of nature, because one (usually the larger and presumably the male) leads while the other follows, backwards the whole way without missing a beat. Incredible.

Unfortunately it doesn't all end with a scurry into the camouflage of mulch as occured today. Last week two such insects came to rather a gruesome end. I went downstairs to play the piano and noticed their cosey huddle as I unlocked the door. I left the door open and proceeded to the piano for a wonderful workout at the keys. An hour or so later I exited the room, pulled the door shut behind me and thought nothing more of the insects. Returning the next day I stumbled upon the grizzly sight - two milkweed bugs squashed abdomen to abdomen in the door frame. In their mating frenzy they had forgotten to run away. Both were just still alive so I carefully scraped them off the wood before the smaller of the two ran off, but I don't think the larger one made it.

Well what can I say? If you insist on mating in public and won't let anything stop you, you are kind of asking for trouble. On the other hand, perhaps we all could learn from the steadfastness of the milkweed bugs - obviously we can't live quite as they do, but putting our relationships above all else? Hmmm, I don't know... there might be something in that! (Obviously the analogy can only be stretched so far!)

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Thursday, November 15, 2007


Growing up we always said grace before a meal.

If we were at Grandma and Grandpa's it went something like this: For these and all thy mercies Lord we give thanks, for Christ's sake, Amen. If I was at school or on my own, I invariably forgot grace and hoed straight into the food. At church camp we probably sang "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food". At beach mission we belted out "Thankyou Lord for giving us food" to the Superman theme music, arms raised as if flying.

To be honest, it was all a bit of a drag - either a joke or a token gesture tacked onto the beginning of a meal which I took for granted and was only moderately thankful for.

Somewhere along the way something changed. I have become exceedingly grateful for the food I eat and I say a heartfelt thankyou before every meal. Oh, that's not quite true. I still forget sometimes...

A number of things have brought about this change of heart. On a practical level, we are in the midst of the worst drought in Australian history. The promised spring and summer rains hardly fell and agriculture is becoming increasingly difficult. We're a developed country and probably have quite a few supplies squirreled away for just such occasions, but the cost of food is going up and up. I'm thankful that, for today, I have enough food to fill me and fuel me.

In the back of my mind are all the hungry people of the world. I don't feel guilty for having food, but as I chop vegetables and prepare meals I often remember that many people do not have this luxury. They don't have enough food to fill their growling stomachs. When I sit down to a plate piled high with nutritional goodness I say thankyou. Thankyou that I was born in a rich country, thankyou that we have an abundance of food, thankyou that all my needs are supplied.

Occasionally I eat vegetarian because I want to, but mostly I like meat, I eat it and I don't have a major problem with that. That was before I read a book called "The ethics of what we eat" (fantastic book by the way) and had my thinking challenged. I thought I was going to be told that (due to greenhouse gases produced by freight) I probably shouldn't buy that yummy pasta sauce from Italy even though it tastes one hundred times better than anything made in Australia; or I should be careful and not buy caged chickens, which I don't because Frank won't eat any chicken unless it was free range.

Those ideas are the proverbial tip of the iceberg! Ethical eating reaches far and wide, and if I take it seriously it will change all my dietary habits. I'm not quite ready for that, though I am dabbling in different aspects of it. Incidentally, buying food that has been transported half way around the globe may be more environmentally friendly (and thus more ethical) than buying local food and it may help to alleviate poverty.

The long and the short of it is that the most ethical way to eat is vegan - if you believe animals are as valuable as humans that is, and I'm not sure I would put us all on the same level. That aside, there are a numerous humane and environmental reasons for cutting meat out of our diets. I'm just not quite there. I'm cutting back, but not cutting out. Besides, I checked with my butcher and our meat is allowed free pasture, killed humanely and processed according to best practice.

Which brings me to the final reason why saying grace has become more important to me. Whether I believe animals are akin to humans in value or not, they still give their life that I might have life. As Leonard Sweet writes:
It's important to say grace for each meal - if not before, then during or after. To eat is to kill. Whether you're a carnivore, a vegetarian, or a vegan, your very act of eating entails the taking of some life, vegetable or animal. You should be grateful for the life that was given to feed your life, and you should be quick to give thanks to the Source of all life, who made the bounty possible in the first place.

It doesn't really matter what form my grace takes really. What does matter is that I take the time to reflect on the bounty before me and humbly say thankyou.

Thankyou from a grateful heart that I have enough food to sustain my life.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There's a lovely little gift shop in town called 'content'. Min, the proprietor, is delightful, nearly always stopping for a chat. I count her as a friend although we've never met outside of her little shop.

Apart from the gorgeous gifts for sale, I love the name: content. Does it mean content filling my home and life (and given to others of course - some of you have been the lucky recipients!), or does it mean content with my place in life? Or both? Content with the content surrounding me? I like both, and it's certainly a clever name for the shop.

Contentment is something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately. Somewhere I seem to have turned a corner. I've written previously (though I can't remember when) about my bewilderment with my present position in life - married to someone 15 years older than me and living in Tasmania?! How did that happen? I've turned it all over and over in my mind trying to figure it out, hoping that my soul will catch up with my body.

And it has. I've realised I'm happy, content, thankful for being exactly where I am. Perhaps the trigger for realising this was a recent spam email asking me to list four places I've lived (Warnambool, Ararat, Coonabarabran, London), four I've visited (New York, Dushanbe, Berlin, Cairo) and four I'd like to be. I couldn't think of anywhere else I'd like to be... this is my life - here in Tasmania. With Frank. I don't want to be anywhere else.

Content. What a rich, beautiful word sliding off the tongue. Does it get any better than this?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

break out

It has occurred to me that most of my life is played out within a very small space.

No, I'm not referring to my house... we have a very adequate, comfortable home... I'm talking about the geographical pond I puddle around in.

The hospital I work in sits less than 2km away. If I need fruit and vegetables the store is another 400 metres away. The butcher is a further 1/2 km beyond that and my favourite Indian store is a few steps across the road from there. Our church is across the park from the butcher, the beautician is two blocks away from the park and a big trip is when I visit the supermarket three kilometres in the other direction from our house or go to aqua aerobics one block beyond that or have a violin lesson about six kilometres from home.

As I said, small world. Which I love, because I figure I'm contributing less to greenhouse gases, leaving a smaller carbon footprint than the average person and developing a feel for the local community.

Yesterday however, I broke out of my 6 square kilometre world and drove to Longford, a small town about twenty minutes drive from here. Yeah, yeah, it was big and far and scary. Ah. Not.

Anyway, I went to a school chaplain information day (thankyou to my boss Helen for letting me swap at short notice and my friend Denise for filling in for me) and found out about all sorts of things I might be able to do as a chaplain. It was good. I loved the drive (it's so pretty out there) and I'm even more excited (and daunted) about the possibility of being a chaplain.

To cap it all off, even though I was back puddling in the zone today, I received my first invitation to formally apply to a primary school! (My name has been forwarded to 10 or so schools) How cool is that?!

OK, I'm off to address the selection criteria... and believe me, school selection criteria are completely different from anything I've ever addressed in nursing! And no matter that I live a small life in a small space - I've got big plans for the future!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

the party's over fellas!

It's two weeks since we planted our vegetable seedlings and the birds have gone totally crazy. They chewed down the lettuce within a few hours, and have steadily pecked away at the pumpkin and cucumber. The sweet corn is a little shredded but obviously isn't entirely to their liking as it has mostly survived. We sheep proofed the garden from the start, but today was the day for action to keep the birdies away.


There will be no more munching on our vegies and soon we should have some big fat juicy green leaves shooting out everywhere.

Meanwhile the tatsoi and spring onions are starting to pop out of the soil... my pride and joy however are the asparagus shoots. Admittedly if I'd read about them before I planted the seeds I might not have gone ahead, but since I did my research after the fact I'm very excited to see them poking through. In a year or two we should be harvesting our own asparagus! Wow.

I find the whole vegetable patch thing quite incredible. When I dropped those little seeds in the not-so-good soil I wondered how anything could grow from them... leave alone produce fruit that will feed us. But there they are, sprouting and green with fresh life. All that potential in a tiny seed. It does something to my soul, confirming something read in my study this year:

Tending to plants, or merely being with plants, heals in various ways... Gardening brings people closer to the earth and makes them partners in bringing forth life from the soil. The physical tasks of gardening - weeding, pruning, and planting - reduce stress by dispelling tension, anger, and aggression through bodily activity. The joy and satisfaction that comes from being an active participant in the process of nature generates a sense of protectiveness toward the environment as well as a feeling of trust in nature's life force. Pierce 2003:233-234

Perfect antidote to the present trials... so move over birds, I am moving in for some horticultural therapy!

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Sunday, November 11, 2007


I've just arrived home from work after a busy late shift. Vomiting and diarrhoea and tracheostomies... you probably don't want to know, so I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say I'm glad to be home.

Oh, OK, I well tell you a little about it... the truth is, sometimes I struggle with nursing tasks. For instance yesterday I was emptying some most unpleasant fluid from a drainage bag attached to a patient. The smell was getting up my nose, and I was doing my best not to poke a face. I always remember at University, reading how to school your features in front of a patient so that no matter what you see or smell you don't allow them to see how repulsed you really are. For them to see your repulsion would be devastating. You should treat them with dignity and respect and not make them feel any worse than they already do about the sights and smells they produce.

It's nice in theory, and a lot of the time I manage to achieve it. Yesterday I did not. Not only did I screw up my face, I ended up dry retching right there at the patient's bedside. And the patient's wife saw me and said 'You have to do some terrible things don't you?' I felt bad and exited the room with the smelly fluid as quickly as possible. Unfortunately in bed last night I could still smell it - I'm sure smells stick to nose hairs!

Anyway, enough grossing each other out... I want to write about dignity. In the midst of all this grossness I work hard to treat patients with dignity and respect. I catch them in the most unflattering poses and my attitudes, words and actions can help them respect themselves despite the horrible things their bodies are doing. It's a worthy goal, treating patients with dignity, if not always quite achievable.

Even outside of nursing I'm finding dignity a more and more important trait at present. Frank and I are going through the mill at church (more Frank than me). It isn't pleasant and we don't like it. We put a lot of time and energy into that place and (even though I know we do it for God) there is precious little positive feedback, appreciation or encouragement. My natural response is to swear (sorry Mum), stomp around a bit and threaten to leave. I do this in private and once the angst is out of my system I become more rational and respond appropriately in public!

But how should we respond at the moment? What is the right thing to do?

We're not sure. But the one word that keeps running through my head is 'dignity'. Act with dignity. Respond with poise and self respect. Don't give in to temper tantrums and ineffectual behaviours. Think, pray, guard the tongue, value others. And hopefully God will show us the way through.

Ultimately when it all boils down, nursing and church membership have a lot in common, no? Responding to crap with dignity?! I shall endeavour to do my best with both!

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

sunny days

I have never taken a day off sick without actually being sick (and even then I feel slightly guilty), but today my work ethic is being sorely tested.

It is a stunner of a day and I don't want to go and work inside a stuffy building all afternoon. I want to be outside enjoying the sun, light breeze and dancing birds. I'd also like to be with Frank and share the delight together.

This is what we were doing this time last weekend:

[I'm still working on uploading the movies - takes forever and I can't access any other webpage while it's trying. So you'll have to live without it. But they're good, so I'll keep trying!]

This one gives you a good idea of just how much of an adrenalin rush it was:

...can't I go back again? Please? Walk away from today's work and experience the adrenalin rush all over again?

Camp was good. I confess I don't like my church at the moment. I don't like church at all. It is a lot of energy expended to maintain the institution for what purpose? I would like to leave but my Dad always left everything when he didn't like it anymore and I'd like to be different from him. So I'm staying. Anyway, camp was a good chance just to be with people and remember how much I like them even if I don't like the whole deal of how we meet together. Yes, it was good. I like those people a lot. And we sure had fun!

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Friday, November 09, 2007

the most embarrassing moment to top all most embarrassing moments

Can I just ask... how embarrassed would she be?!

I would be mortified. Though I must say her tracksuit is nicer than my old worn things. But wouldn't she be wishing she'd dressed up a bit more?!


nablopomo indecision

Now that I'm in the swing of daily blogging (and even Frank is getting used to it) I'm having a little trouble discriminating between what is blog worthy and what is not. For instance, today I would like to tell you about the letter I got from the would-be politician outlining her three-typed-pages response to my letter asking for her take on world poverty and the environment.

But I'd also like to share how moved I am by my friend who is a rough, rough diamond. Her clothes aren't always clean, she comes from the wrong side of the tracks, and she's as rough as guts. On the surface she might not strike you as a particularly good parent - sometimes she yells at her kids in public, they are most often unruly and uncontrolled, course language flows from all their mouths and they don't behave appropriately in church (meaning they fail to follow our bland social norms). But my goodness, her heart... her heart is all mellow softness and kindness. And now, when someone has done wrong by her children and she is struggling with the devastation, her mother heart is coming to the fore. As we talked tonight her sentences were punctuated with love, concern, righteous anger, sadness, longing and faith. She peeled back the exterior shell to reveal fierce tenderness and a determination to help her children through this time.

But it's been a long, hard week and I don't feel too much like writing such a moving post. So maybe I'll tell you about the episode of 'House' I watched tonight (I've never seen it before) and how I sometimes wish we could all talk to our patients like that. And that if I have a thing for any actor it just might be for Hugh Laurie. (He is hilarious. And the contrast of his role in Sense and Sensibility with that of his film wife makes the movie for me!)

But that's a bit trite I suppose. So I'll settle for telling you about Frank and his current cold. He caught it last weekend at camp and has been coughing and complaining since. Complaining nicely I might add. But he does make me laugh! This morning I woke up to find him in bed beside me wearing his puffer jacket - apparently he decided (in the middle of the night) that his cough is worse when his neck is cold. Tonight he has swathed his neck in a scarf and has resorted to hand signals in an effort to rest his poor sore throat. I love my Frankie, but he's such a boy when he's sick! (I ran this past him just in case and he... silently gave it the thumbs up)

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

pulp mill graffiti

We train 'em young in Australia, stemming right back to the kids who were sent here for stealing a loaf of bread in the 1800s! Thumb your nose at authority... it's the Australian way.

So the youth of Tasmania have been creating a bit of a stir against the pulp mill. They can't vote in the election, but they want the politicians to know they don't want the mill in their backyard when they grow up, and they've been holding protest rallies during school time. (And yes, even with permission letters from their parents some received detention)

Last week in Hobart the rally turned into a spontaneous march in the streets, and the police threatened to charge the 15 year old who organised the event. Right. A 15 year old enterprising enough to organise 500 students to protest against the mill is threatened with court action. Did we just become Tasmania the police state as well as Tasmania the corrupt state? Impressive.

The police action didn't stop students getting in on the act here in my part of the state. Today 350 teenagers gathered to have their say. And to write on the footpath outside the current polies office. I had to laugh... they'd written "Anti pulp mill rally at Civic Square" in giant chalk letters on the footpath... and someone from the sitting member's office had come out with a bucket of soapy water to wash it away. Hilarious! Teenage chalk graffiti got up the nose of the politician. Perfect!

As I said, we train 'em young!

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

party politics

The present pre-election shenanigans are increasingly irritating. Every day I am bombarded with television advertisements espousing the personal benefit to my back pocket of voting for this party or that. My letterbox is frequently overloaded with party based propaganda that I no doubt paid for somewhere along the line, but didn't ask for and certainly didn't authorise. Country drives are marred by ubiquitous roadside signs emblazoned with political party colours.

It seems that this election has a little to do with presenting a vote-worthy plan and a lot to do with utilising advertising know-how to attract votes. Every cell in my body is resisting this dumbing down of politics that plays to my base instincts. I would gladly bury my head in the ground while the politicians and would-be politicians play their little games.

Except I can't. There are a few issues that are very important to me this election, so I'm paying more attention to the para-messages than ever. (Because the messages are so inane and dollar focused) In fact I wrote to a couple of politicians and asked them to let me know what their stance is on the environment, world poverty and refugees. I don't know if it was because I also told them I won't be voting for them due to their support for the pulp mill, but I haven't had much response...

...until today when I received a hand written letter from our present politician advising me that he didn't have time to address my individual concerns and I should refer to his previous public comments for guidance in my decision about who to aware my second vote to.

Thanks mate! Appreciate the help there!

What I'd really like to see is a party that cares... not about winning my vote, but about doing what is right, acting with integrity, responding with compassion. Making decisions that might not be so great for our economy, but that acknowledge we have a responsibility to the earth and to people less well off than ourselves to do more than just make money for our own benefit. I'd like to see a party that cares about social justice, not just in word, but in action, that charts a course for the good of humanity not just the good of their popularity. A party that doesn't see winning as the aim of the game, but good governance.

At the moment I can only see one party doing this, and that's the Greens. So despite everything my father taught me about the evilness of the Greens because their leader is gay and they support gay rights, I'm going to vote for them at the next election. I don't agree with everything they espouse, but at least they have integrity and stand for justice and the moderation of our Western excesses!

Fifteen days to go and it will all be over... Phew!


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

joyful, joyful

I think it all began as I walked to work this morning.

A run of the mill blackbird sat atop a building singing his heart out, and as he sang his whole body moved to the music. There he was, back arched, head high, beak raised, wings flapping in time with his song. He was so into it he could be heard over the rumble of passing cars and trucks. Wonderful! And my heart started to dance a little within me.

Then I discovered a way to be a counsellor (I've been having trouble finding a place to gain experience) - become a school chaplain. I found out that 16 schools around here were recently given government grants to employ chaplains. I sent off an email or two and have the information I need to submit an application. I also emailed a Tasmanian counselling association and they advised me I could conceivably consider myself qualified, studying for higher qualifications. My innards began to dance some more - my dream just might be attainable!

And this evening was the icing on the cake. At camp a few of us indulged our Australian Idol aspirations by forming a vocal ensemble and learning some beautiful songs. Tonight we joined with the vocal ensemble of a local high school and presented a wee concert. Nothing fancy and not quite polished, but it was fun. I enjoyed it and it triggered joy and delight within.

Just an average day, but somehow joyful.

Isn't that what life's about? Finding joy and meaning in the mundane!

My heart is filled with song. Mmmmmm.

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Monday, November 05, 2007


The trouble with Nablopomo is narrowing down the field of topics - with something to write every day it's not long before every thought, facial expression, conversation or event becomes potential grist for the mill.

So what will I write about today?

The asparagus spears peaking through in my seedling box?
(Exciting, exciting but I'll save this one for later)

Recent Tasmanian nurse's industrial action called in response to the government's appalling lack of respect for us? (I'm furious with the government but I couldn't be bothered giving them the respect of a slot on my blog right now)

Church Camp and all the fabulous fun we had? (I haven't downloaded the movies yet so this will have to wait)

The reason I chose a vegetarian option at the Bombay Cafe tonight? (This is definitely going to feature soon, but I need to think about it more)

Like I said, so much to write, so little time. But I can tell you about one very exciting thing that happened to me. (apart from waking up beside Frank, having enough food to eat, the sun warming my chilled bones, and a favourite friend dropping in that is)

I finally saw the benefits of Facebook!

I personally dislike Facebook. Almost every day a work colleague or two list me as an online friend while doing nothing to cultivate the friendship in real life. It seems an empty exercise in bagging friends in the interests of gathering the biggest collection. And what's with the online drinks, aquariums, gardens and pets? Please - I have more important things to do with my time. So I ignore most of the requests and gifts I'm sent.

And then, today, it happened. A long lost friend left a message in my Facebook inbox!

I was a bridesmaid for this girl when we were both 19, but over the years we gradually lost contact. When I was living in London we briefly exchanged letters before descending once more into silence. A few months ago I found some photos of the wedding and I set to hunting her down once more. Using my highly refined online investigative skills (white pages) I discovered a listing I thought was probably my friend living in country NSW, but didn't have the courage to phone up out of the blue. The grey fog of friendship lost fell again.

Until today, there in facebook she was, asking to be my friend! And now I'm a Facebook convert. I wrote back right away and am delighted we've been able to link up again!

Nablopomo and Facebook - arghhhh. The virtual world is sucking me in.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

night driving

Frank and I have been away at our annual church camp for a couple of days - thankyou to my brother for yesterday posting the post I prepared earlier. (Does this comply with the rules? I'm not sure, but technically my blog was posted on yesterday) I now have exactly fifty minutes left to post in today.

(You'll be pleased to know that this year we had an almost full tank of petrol and weren't left in a NaBloPoMo panic after scrounging around country Tasmania for a petrol card on the Sunday night of a long weekend)

While driving home I had some thoughts about night driving:

First, I don't like it. My eyes aren't great at night and I find myself dazzled by the bright lights.

Second, while I try and drive carefully, it is the other people on the road who concern me most. I know I'll stick to my side of the road but will they stick to theirs? Undivided road is the most concerning and Tasmania has lots of it. For some reason this concerns me more at night than during the day.

Third, I don't quite understand why we think it's safe to hurtle along at high speed when we can only see a few hundred metres in front of us. We call ourselves advanced and developed, but this strikes me as a foolish, ignorant thing to do. (However I still do it)

Fourth, I find the whole 'high beam - low beam' headlight deal fascinating. It tells me if the driver coming the other way is alert. (if they fail to dim their lights does that mean they are asleep?) It keeps me alert and awake as I try and ensure I'm not dazzling the other driver. It's also a source of endless chatter fodder: 'That person dimmed their lights late Frank... how rude is that?!'

I love watching for the bright lights of a hidden driver behind the hill lighting the horizon, then trying to dip my own lights JUST as they come over the crest. And best of all, when someone overtakes me, I love to see if I can dim my lights at the exact moment they turn their lights up!

I suspect this fascination stems back to long night time drives as a child, where we drove for 24 hours at a time to visit my grandparents with little more entertainment than the five kilometre markers and the dance of the high beams.

Interesting and entertaining as high beam lights are, I'm very glad to be home and about to turn the lights out!

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

nablopomo 07 in context

I read on a now lost link, that 43% of Australians value their online friends as much as their real, embodied friends.

That's nice. I hear where they're coming from.

I've certainly enjoyed meeting people around the world in the blogosphere, but I've been pondering this long and hard. Do I value my online friends as much as my real, embodied friends who I can meet for coffee?

I'm not sure actually. I value my local friends. That's a given. I value my online friends and I feel somewhat bereft when they don't blog or comment for a few days. (this extends beyond my endless quest for as many comments as Fussy) At times I'm even fearful something might have happened to them if they haven't been around their usual haunts for a while. But that's different from valuing them more than my real life, ridgy didge friends.

My conclusion so far is that I value my online friends, but not as much as my here-with-me-now friends. I'd be crazy to prefer the company of a virtually unknown voice coming to me through the computer over the company of a warm, soft, lovely body that speaks melodically to my heart.

Thinking about this has reminded me of an interesting reading from my counselling studies. Among other things, it made some powerful statements about the use of computers in our society:

Technology is not merely augmenting but replacing real human contact. Already Americans [sic] are alarmingly comfortable with this idea.

Kanner and Gomes 1995 in Pierce 2003:226

The content of what we use computers for may be far less significant than the fact that we use them. Simply spending time engaged in computer activity drives the wedge deeper between humans, and between humans and nature. The instantaneous quality of electronic technology and the computerized world has so conditioned us to the accelerated speed of modern life that we are impatient and uncomfortable with the slower rhythms and cycles of the natural world, including our own biological, emotional and mental healing processes.
Pierce 2003:226

Computers compete for our attention with socially based satisfactions and communion with the natural world.
Pierce 2003:226

These statements were all made in the context of ecotherapy, a fascinating branch of psychology that links poor mental health with the loss of our connection to the earth. Computers are used as one example of the way we are cut off from the natural way of being.

It's unlikely that I will stop using the computer. I probably won't even stop blogging (I am participating in NaBloPoMo 07 after all), but it does temper some of my devotion to my online friends. Yes, I care about you. Yes, I am interested in what is going on in your lives! But if my interest in you causes me to spend too little time with my real and present friends that is a problem.

Good food for thought I think as I take these early steps into the all consumingness of NaBloPoMo. Blog daily, but participate with reverence and respect for the real world.

Pierce, G. 2003, 'Ecotherapy' in Health Counseling: Application and Therapy, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA, pp 219-237.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

me and my big mouth

I discovered today that my hairdresser thinks Frank is slightly crazy, and right now she probably thinks I am too. After our over-the-hair-cut conversation I'm beginning to wonder myself.

We were talking about the pulp mill, as you do. Every conversation around here somehow ends up at the pulp mill at some point or other. (Unless we already know the other person vehemently disagrees with us, and in the interests of health and safety we mutually tactfully but obviously avoid the topic all together)

Anyway, Charmaine was chopping away at my hair this afternoon when I mentioned my husband had also been in for a cut this week and did she know who he was?

"Oh yes," she said "Frank. He was in here the other day! I know who he is. He's very passionate about certain topics like the pulp mill isn't he?"

I laughed and agreed that yes, he is very passionate in his opposition to the mill, we both are.

Charmaine went on to report the way she had cut short Frank's passion on Tuesday because the girl who was cutting his hair is strongly in favour of the mill. Her husband is a log truck driver. That seems to be the way it goes here. If you work in forestry at all, you support the mill and cannot conceive it might be bad for the environment - feeding your family takes priority over ensuring your family have a world to live in. Fair enough. I don't work in forestry, I don't drive a log truck (fortuitously, after my most recent driving endeavours!). Before you accuse me of ignoring this side of the debate, I have spent some time trying to understand it. From what I can gather, Tasmania has a long history of considering the forests theirs for the taking. We have forgotten that those forests nurtured convict escapees and protected them from recapture... and all the other nice things forests do for us. This slash and mill mentality doesn't seem to have been such a problem until Gunns came along and introduced tree felling on a grand scale. Somewhere along the way stands of trees became mass commodities; dollar signs that overshadowed any nurturing or healing value the trees might offer.

But I digress... suffice to say, Frank's most winning arguments against the pulp mill were smothered in the hair dressing salon in the interest of peace for all hairdressers.

As Charmaine relayed the conversation and defended herself against the accusation of 'fence sitter' (a dirty word in this debate) I offered a half hearted smile of encouragement, all the while thinking, "Frank and I also see both sides of the debate, but we are concerned for the long term health of our state. We cannot see how chopping all those trees down will leave us better off in the long run." I managed to hold my tongue - a good thing since the other hairdresser was only standing a few metres away. I wish I'd continued to hold my tongue when the topic of conversation turned to hair straighteners!

I have this little thing about not purchasing a hair straightener. I love the resulting pencil straight hair, but to me it epitomises our culture's obsession with appearance. While there are people in the world who cannot afford to eat or live in a house, I cannot buy a hair straightener to line my lifestyle with greater unnecessary comfort. I realise the logic here is subtle, perhaps even absent, but somewhere in my mind there is a link between world poverty and hair straighteners. It's as simple as that. And I am perfectly within my rights to maintain that link. But the hairdressing salon may not be the best place to expound my belief. really. not at all.

To her credit Charmaine took it well. She even seemed to understand where I was coming from. And she happily straightened my hair as a special once-a-haircut treat. But I wonder what she was really thinking of Frank and I as I walked out of the salon? Slightly crazy? Cooky? Weird? Odd?

I love this salon - they're practically the cheapest in town (more of my 'won't pay $50 for a hair cut when some people have no food' reasoning at work there... thankfully they do a mean cut too!). But I'm a bit embarrassed to go back. Are there any other cheap hairdressers around here?

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

(with respect) there is a god!

Tasmania has gone crazy with elections. The whole country will soon go to the polls to (hopefully) get a new Prime Minister, but last month we also had local council elections here.

And the results are official... our local pro-pulp mill Mayor has been ditched! Justice has been served! Woohoo!

Of course, he claims it had nothing to do with the pulp mill and he still thinks we're all 'misinformed'. Unfortunately for him, we have the final say at the ballot box. When thousands of us signed a voters block declaring we wouldn't vote for anyone who supports the mill we meant it. This is the first chance we have had to follow through and it appears to have made a difference. Power (at last) to the people.

Since both State and Federal governments have voted to allow the mill to proceed this could be seen as a hollow victory... but it is a significant statement about the strength of our feelings. Those candidates in the Federal election who support the pulp mill would do well to take notice. (Be afraid. Be very afraid.) Take heed. We mean business!

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i crashed our beautiful car

I still can't quite believe I did it.

On Monday I crashed our beautiful new car into the fence post that marks the top of our driveway. I know. It was a horrible shock! I've been avoiding writing about it in the hope the whole thing will just, I don't know, go away.

But it hasn't. The big dent in the bumper bar, and the smashed brake light are still gazing dolefully out at me. Sigh.

I've never crashed a car in my life. Well... there was a little encounter with a bus when I was a new driver. I kind of ran under the back of it. But the driver didn't even notice, and since it only left a tiny little dent in the bonnet and a miniscule scratch in the paint work I don't count that as a crash. And there was the time I asked Mum if I had space to turn in the tightest car park in Newcastle. She said yes and I promptly ran into the car parked beside us. But that wasn't my fault, so I don't count that either.

Certainly I've never made an insurance claim in my life, so it's all been rather mortifying. Such a classic girl thing to do - back into the fence post!

It's not that I'm a bad driver... I actually pride myself on my driving skills. I just didn't look! I was tired and running late. So I jumped in the car, threw it into reverse and put the foot down. I have vague recollections of gloating over the low mileage on the clock, wondering if the (six stack) CD player (I love that thing) was working properly, and turning to check my progress just as I felt a big jolt.


I sheepishly went inside to tell Frank (he thought I was joking) before rushing off to my appointment. I was a bit worried about what he would say actually. He still uses our old car most of the time, so I thought there might be some recriminations about using the posh car to duck around town, maybe a mild berating for being careless (a charge I cannot deny), perhaps a bit of anger (I would have been furious if I hadn't done it myself). But no... when I came home there was the sweetest note (on scented paper no less) on the bench saying that a dent in the car couldn't dent our relationship. I've said it before and I'll say it again - my husband is the sweetest man on earth.

Unfortunately his kindness has done little to allay the mortification I felt on phoning the insurance company ('uh, I reversed into a fence post'), visiting the smash repair man ('uh, I reversed into a fence post') and driving around in the company of immaculate, dent free Foresters ('uh, I reversed into a fence post'). The shame of it all! To add insult to injury, when I tried to reverse out of the smash repair workshop this morning, the assessor practically ran out of the office in order to steer me carefully away from any solid objects! I might have fulfilled his female driver stereotype... but I can still drive. (Truth be told I was having a little trouble... the Forester is so much bigger than our little Corolla)

(Of particular interest to me was the magazine rack full of women's magazines in the smash repair office... what are they saying about the type of people who crash their cars???)

Anyway, in a little while the bumper bar will be replaced, the car will be fixed. 'Lucky' from the insurance company called this evening to confirm they will cover the cost of the repairs. (I feel his name is a little inappropriate) My oh-so-female faux par will soon be little more than a dim memory. In my opinion that can't happen soon enough!

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