Tuesday, October 31, 2006

one big headache

I've had a headache since Saturday morning.

Not a big thumper - just there when I wake up, there all day and there when I fall asleep. Not bad enough to take panadol, but intruding on my thought processes none-the-less. (Which partly explains a blog-free week. The other part of the explanation is extreme busyness that left no time for ruminating)

Hmmm, what is the cause of this rumbling pain that roles around inside my brain?

Meningitis? A brain tumour? Too much chocolate? Not enough chocolate? (The latter is extremely unlikely. I'm seriously addicted)

Maybe I'm dehydrated?
After drinking solid for three days, I think I have successfully removed that one from the list!

Now you're talking! Life is flat out, I don't stop from sun-up to sun-down and beyond. I don't get to bed early enough. I rise too early.

I need a holiday!! Thank goodness my boss approved two weeks at Christmas today. Only two months to go.

I only hope this headache doesn't last until then!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

momentous union

For years I've been an ardent anti-unionist. Something to do with the way I was nurtured ('unions are of the devil') and a strong sense of social justice (how could I join an organisation that fights for higher pay when I am already richer than billions of the world's population?).

But now I've done a complete about-face. I've joined the nursing union - with the proviso that I won't join any strike action for higher wages. (If you can make that proviso. I think I read somewhere you can't not strike if the union calls for strikes - so I'll be one of the skeleton staff on the ward if need be)

I'm still coming to terms with my decision - but hopefully over the years it proves wise! Effective immediately I have professional indemnity cover. I still can't quite believe I worked for 11 years without it! I also have access to professional representation and education. And I just might join some action that is in the wind about staffing levels if need be.

So there you go - a momentous union with the nursing union. How nice.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

is there really anything better than this shopping spree?

Stop press!

The shoes have arrived. (see archives for the full story)

And, oh my goodness, they are gorgeous! Have a look for yourself...

Comfortable, beautiful, colourful, attractive, stylish... who wouldn't want to step out in a pair of these? Other than Frank and most other men I imagine. He was not initially wowed.

When I donned the delicious little green numbers he asked where on earth I would wear them? Hello?! Where not to wear them is more the question! I'm even wondering how I can secret them into work - would they pass as a new form of safety shoes?

One small sadness (apart from not being able to have a party to enable the whole world to experience them...) - we have beautiful polished floorboards.

No shoes inside and no exceptions.

What's a girl to do?! I want to wear them all day but it's just not an option. Anyone monitoring my movements this afternoon will have noticed that I keep sneaking down the hall, standing on the mat in front of our mirror, donning the shoes and having my own little fashion parade.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

back to school

I received an exciting letter in the post yesterday. I've been accepted into a Graduate Certificate of Counselling course.

I applied a couple of weeks ago - no mean feat as I had to include several mini-essays on topics such as why I want to be a counsellor, my strengths and weaknesses, the values a counsellor should hold and how I will gain counselling experience. That last one was easy - numerous friends frequently cry on my shoulder, providing endless hours of practice!

The course is offered on-line but I will also have to travel to NSW twice a year for study and assessment. Hopefully I can swing by Newcastle a few times!

Now that I'm in I'm wondering if I really want to do this. Back to school?! More study?! I must be crazy! It seemed right at the time I sent the application in, but now...

Oh well, I don't have to enroll for a while, so still more time to think it through. For now I'm just excited to have been accepted. If you should require counselling at any stage, please feel free to leave a comment and I would be most happy to oblige!

Friday, October 20, 2006

vegies for sale - and bugs as well!

I had to chuckle today.

I was in my favourite fruit and veg shop, as mentioned in previous blogs, stocking up on high quality fruit and veg. Being a Friday afternoon, it was chockas... people everywhere. Since it's a small store it's hard to move when too many people crowd in.

There I was standing at the register, breathing in and thinking small thoughts in the vain hope I might take up a bit less space as the throng pressed around me.

One of the staff turned to the man in line behind me and started a conversation. This city is small, and just one more thing I love about Ye Olde Green Grocer is that if you shop there for long enough, they recognise you and chat with you as they work. It's great!

"How are you?" she asked the gentleman behind me. "Feeling better today?"

"No I'm worse. I think I might have gastro now. I've been vomiting a bit and not feeling well."

In that moment the crowds stopped their frenzied shopping and recoiled away from the man. For an instant silence reigned as the same thought ran through every mind - "get away from me, I don't want your bug!"

Too bad for me - I was standing right beside him! I don't think we touched any of the same surfaces, but who knows! Besides we could potentially be suffering from the same bug, as I couldn't eat more than an apple for lunch because I wasn't feeling great... only I had the common sense not to advertise my ill health to the world! (My fridge is still clean by the way! I have however been in something of an emotional storm this week and that always puts me off my food)

The moment passed, a few people joked about him not passing the bug along to them. I payed for my vegetables and stepped outside into the warm, bright sunlight, chuckling about someone who would dare to mention they have gastro while standing in the middle of a maddenning crowd. So long as I don't get gastro, I think it's hilarious!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Don't give up on me

Magnanimous or pusillanimous, beautiful from the inside out...
...there seems to be a theme running through my life at the moment.

Something like "Get your act together Cecily, and JUST STOP being such a nasty, selfish person!"

If only it were that easy! I remember reading once that if you ask God to change you, he just might put you in situations that test the depth of your change... so I ask God to help me become more gracious; may my first thought not be nasty but gentle and kind.

And he brings every annoying person across my path, providing opportunity after opportunity to demonstrate grace, gentleness and kindness. And I keep on mucking up (does this mean endless encounters with annoying people? ARGHHHH!)

I found a song that captures the endless struggle - I'm not the only in this fix!

Have your way
Charlie Hines

In my own strength I've tried
To live a holy life
Struggling till the end
Then you find me on my knees
Praying God forgive me please
And I'll try again

So when will victory be mine
I'm running out of faith and time
To live on a mountain top
It takes more than a will to climb

Have your way with me
Let your strength be what flows from me
And let the blood that ran down Calvary
(And let the blood that you shed for me)
Run through me
Oh Lord have your way with me

It seems like self never dies
The harder I try
It comes back for more
There are times I lose this fight
Before the battle has begun
And your blessings must await once more

Though this flesh is what covers me
Holy Spirit take control of me
When I want to give in
Don't give up on me
'Cause where grace abounds
Is where I want to be

It's a bit flat on the screen, but this song sounds beautiful, and it captures how I'm feeling.

So God - don't give up on me... with your help I'll make it!

gorgeous from the inside out

Today I found a cute little book and better still, it has a beautiful message.

I just happenned to be browsing around a local bookshop. As you do.

Well as I do. A lot.

Usually I demonstrate a fair amount of self-restraint - when I want to purchase 20 titles (and more), I tell myself to visit the local library and borrow them instead. By the time I get to the library I can't remember exactly what it was I wanted to borrow, but no worries, I always find another 20 books of interest! Last time I borrowed a book I reborrowed it three times, at which point the librarian primly advised me that I could not reborrow again. I made an exerted effort to finish it before the last ever due date, but alas, the book was returned unfinished. Wonder if I can borrow it again now?!

So there I was, browsing around this afternoon, when suddenly I found myself in the novelty, giftbook section of the store. I'd already covered the non-fiction section where I found the 'Rough Guide to Blogging' (I kid you not!) and managed to resist the strong tug I felt to buy it, and now I was surrounded by thought provoking books of quotes and cute little picture books that made me grin.

And there it was. The cutest book of all. Cute and thought provoking all in one:

"How to be beautiful. A master makeover from the inside out."

When I opened it up, I was blown away. There were the words of Jesus translated into a delightful, cute, modern, relevant form.

"Walk into your wardrobe, that secret cluttered place from which you clothe yourself, and toss out the things that do not become you. Cast off the jacket of jealousy, the coat of conceitedness, and the suit of selfishness."


"Manicure your hands for helping."


"Exercise... discretion."

all finished off with

"If you follow this routine every day, dear woman, you will be radiant, glowing and very, very beautiful."

Wow... I need to read this little number every morning, let it sink into my soul, and live it out through the day.

Apart from the fact that it's good for my soul, I feel that the purchase is somewhat balanced out by my donation today of ten books to a great little second hand bookshop in town... It's a great second hand bookshop once you've sorted through all the junk and found the treasure. My contribution (a mixture of sad, old picture books, trashy novels, and quality Christian titles that Frank and I doubled up on in the big wed) potentially contributed to the junk quotient, but never mind. Anything to justify a worthy cause.

So girls - remember to "put on the foundation of love and the powder of patience" and be that beautiful woman you really are. From the inside out!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

the ghost of meals past

Spiderwebs aside, I pride myself on how clean I keep our house - every Saturday finds me scrubbing or polishing in one room or another.

So it came as something of a shock this afternoon when the fridge began producing unpleasant odours that hung in the air. To make matters worse, a friend was here to experience the smell. All in all, it was not nice and I decided something had to be done.

During my childhood, defrosting the fridge seemed always to descend into an argument. The whole thing obviously left me scarred - I avoid defrosting the fridge like the plague. Fortunately our fridge is a modern marvel that defrosts itself so it's not too much of a problem.

Except that the whole defrosting process forces you to remove everything from the fridge and clean. No defrosting equals no cleaning - at least that's how it is here. I have been aware of this for a while, but to save emptying the fridge, I decided I would save my big clean until I had used all the vegetables.

It's been a long wait. Every time I almost empty the vegie drawer I realise that I can't do without this or that, and I pile the drawer full of vegetables all over again.

This is the unfortunate result:

One very, very dirty and very, very smelly fridge. If you look closely there's mould and all sorts there! Totally gross and just a tad embarrassing. (Which begs the question why am I publishing this on an international webpage? What can I say - blogworthy news is hard to come by at present)

But cringe no more! I have industriously scrubbed and cleaned the whole fridge and it looks delightful and smells a lot cleaner. Any remaining odours are being sanitised with bi-carb soda and soon all should be well.

So don't worry - if you're coming over for tea anytime soon, you'll be fed clean, pristine vegetables. If you've visited us recently however, I apologise as, unfortunately, I cannot vouch for the safety of the food. (Hmmm, maybe that explains the cramps in my stomach for the last few weeks?!)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

house pets

No we haven't suddenly bought a cat. Or a dog. But we still have house pets.

Yup... spiders. Lots of daddy long legs and lots of these.

Daddy long legs are creepy and I can't stand them, but this little fellow is kind of cute. He and his friends run everywhere inquisitively, don't build webs (a plus in cleaning terms), jump short distances and hopefully scavange any pesky insects around the place. I kind of don't mind these spiders, because they will also interact- they look around and sniff the air and don't run away the minute you walk up. And that whole web thing - it's the webs that are spooky, as if the spider is running through mid air. These guys don't make webs, so they're all together more desireable. If you must have spiders in the house that is.

That being said, I decided I should investigate how venemous they might be. Unfortunately I wasn't able to identify them from any pictures on the internet (possibly a jumping spider, but they are apparently quite colourful), but I did develop shakes and shivers while viewing all the other pictures - surely it's a criminal offence to publish spider photos the size of a computer screen! Eeeew, it freaked me out quite a bit, especially the mouse spider. I'm still having cold shivers just thinking about them. (Pleased to report that they don't live in Tasmania!)

Apparently most house spiders are not venemous. And you shouldn't take them outside instead of killing them, because they can't survive there. They are house spiders, used to dry and warm conditions.

So there you go... I don't have the heart to kill these little cuties, so I guess I'll just have to learn to live with them!

magnanimous or pusillanimous?

I'm reading a wonderful book called Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron.

It's a novel that tells the story of a pastor who begins to question his faith. He is ejected from his church for a long holiday (gotta love the power elders wield!) and undertakes a pilgrimage to Italy where he is guided in the steps of Francis of Assisi by four deep, godly Catholic friars. As he journeys his faith grows. More than being a great novel, Chasing Francis is a commentary on how the church can better engage with a postmodern world.

(If this sounds fantastic, it gets better! The book has its own website for further study and [hopefully] comments!)

As I said, it's wonderful. I've been reading it slowly, laughing, crying, and cringing through nearly every page - it's struck a deep cord with me.

Here is one of my cringe quotes (p68):
"How 'real' was Francis?" I asked.

"There was nothing false about him. He only knew how to be Francis, nothing more and nothing less. Do you know Thomas Aquinas?"

"Not well. I read some of the Summa Theologica in seminary, but it's been a long time."

"Aquinas spoke about two kinds of souls - the magna animi and the pusilla animi. The magna animi is the open soul that has space for the world to enter and find Jesus. It's where you get your word magnanimous. The pusilla animi is like that." He pointed at the dark outline of the Rocca Maggiore, far up on the hillside, the fortress where the people of Assisi used to run when they were attacked by a neighbouring city.

"The pusilla animi is the defended heart. It's a guarded and suspicious spirit that's closed to the world. It sees everything and everyone as a potential threat, an enemy waiting to attack. It shields itself from the world. It's where you get the word - "

"Pusillanimous," I said. "Someone who is fearful."

"Precisely. Francis possessed the magna animi. That's what each Christian, and the church, should be like."

Somewhere along the line I've allowed myself to become a bit of a pusilla animi - I can see that guarded and suspicious spirit within myself.

It was especially evident on Sunday. A couple of old ladies at church were extremely lacking in love and grace in their manner and approach. I felt judged and chastised and criticised by their words (or in one case, lack of words). At the time I responded honestly, calmly and graciously, but when I came home it was not so! I was furious and stomped around spouting off about how I would get back at these women and teach them a thing or two about loving relationships.

Oh yeah - that'll work Cecily! They'll certainly respond to that kind of approach and a more loving relationship is bound to develop. Yep.

This little book has reminded me to choose the higher way. Don't get dragged down to the level of those around about me. Choose life. Choose love. Choose to have an open soul that has space for the world to enter and find Jesus.

So I've taken a deep breath and asked God to please change my heart. May it be a space where people find Jesus. A beautiful, fresh place filled with the fragrance of Jesus and his love.

I don't want to end up an old woman who runs around hurting enthusiastic, eager young women with bitter words and nasty looks. By the time I'm old, I want to be so full of grace and love that young women come to me for hugs and encouragement and wisdom. So I'd better start cultivating that magna animi now, before the nastiness takes too deep a root!

Jesus, may people see you in me.

the visionary philosopher

I've never had my IQ tested so I was a little nervous when I did so the other day. It was just one of those silly on-line tests, so not worth placing too much emphasis on the result, but I was pleased none-the-less.


I kid you not. My IQ was 135! I was also quite chuffed with the comment that accompanied the score.
This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others.

Your Intellectual Type is visionary philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others - and at anticipating and predicting patterns And that's just some of what we know about you from your IQ results.
Like Plato. Visionary philosopher. Hey hey!

It didn't take my Plato-like IQ to figure out that if you want to know more, you should pay lots of money for a qualified PhD to further analyse your test.

Thanks, but no thanks. This was enough to gratify me. Even better news is that they haven't flooded my email with junk. Yet!

To try it out, go to http://webtickle.com/tests/uiq

Saturday, October 07, 2006

the perfect saturday

Welcome to my perfect world!

Housework - it's always satisfying to survey a clean house
Cooking - it never fails to do something good to my soul
Entertaining - ever the extrovert, I am energised by guests

All three have been part of my world today, and I feel content.

We've just said goodbye to Michelle and Rob, of 'happy chatter' blogging fame as well as the former managers of the homestead where we got married in January. It was so nice to catch up with them - and hand over the thankyou-chocolates!

I got industrious in the kitchen before they came, and used the Kenwood to good effect. Not only did it beat my eggs into the most beautiful stiff peaks in the world (so exciting. No amount of handbeating ever achieved this!), I also ran around the kitchen doing odd jobs while it whirred away (this is progress). The end result was 'beacon hill cookies' from my brand new recipe book called "500 cookies". They were melt-in-your mouth delicious!

I'm not sure if housework, cooking and entertaining really constitute the perfect Saturday - this belief probably stems from a fixation on mundane and banal happennings. Or maybe it flows from my obsession with frivolous, inconsequential events that matter little to anyone else. But that's my life!

It reminds me of a quote I read yesterday:
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust
Sometimes I hanker to travel and explore. I get bored in one place and I just want to move on to discover more of the world. It's a lesson to me, experiencing life in a small town where everyone knows everyone and change is a slow process. I'm learning to value it; to live in the moment and savour its flavour; to look out on my mundane, banal life with new eyes. In this way I uncover treasures, discover myself and see God. My horizon expands without moving anywhere.

If you look at it like that, this really is the perfect Saturday - fully living the moment.

Welcome to my perfect world!

Friday, October 06, 2006

missing bananas

What does it say when you buy bananas that cost $6.99 per kg?
That they've been a lot more expensive than that!

Since the cyclone wiped out the crop in Queensland, most of us have refused to buy bananas - $12/kg was just too rich!

Over lunch my colleagues talk about bananas and how much we miss them, and how we can't wait until they drop back to their normal price, and how we used to eat them, and what we'll do with them when they return to the shelves. I've noticed that patient's are brought bananas as a special treat instead of chocolates - I don't dare throw any away no matter how brown and squashy they are. They probably cost $2 each!

When we went to China in July our eyes bulged - they were about 40 c... that's right. 40 cents a kilogram! The friend we were visiting declined to buy any at a stall one day, because they were trying to charge 80 cents a kilo and she felt this was way to expensive! It's all relative! I pushed in and payed for them myself because to my mind they were incredibly cheap.

On our return to Oz I decided that if I saw bananas below $8 a kilo I would buy two as a very special treat. The price sat and sat and sat at $12 and I refused to buy. A couple of weeks ago it dropped to $10 and I still refused to buy. To add insult to injury, the expensive bananas never look that nice despite their price.

Then it happenned. I went into my favourite fruit and veg shop the other day and there were bananas for $6.99 per kilo. Oh wow - they'd hit the golden cheap price. Not that they were anything flash - the standard price remains $10/kg. These were the reduced stock that were a bit past it. So believe it or not, I bought 2 over ripe bananas for $6.99 a kilo! (They were pretty small bananas and cost exactly $1.28... which isn't so bad I suppose)

I'll use them in cooking - have been hankering for banana muffins or banana cake or caramel banana dessert. Mmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

And before we know it there will be cheap bananas back on the shelf. The rumour on the ground is that the bananas are on the trees and not too far away from harvesting.

Bring it on - I've missed them.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

if you found a body, what would you do?

Frank and I went to the movies on Tuesday night. It's been a long time coming! I originally had a free ticket that ran out last Saturday - over the school holidays there were no good movies to watch, then a good movie came along but we were too sick and tired to go, so we lost the free ticket but we made it in the end. It turned into a bit of a date night, with tea at a Thai restaurant and then the movie. Lovely.

The Aussie movie "Jindabyne" was deep and thought provoking. Four blokes go on a fishing trip. When they arrive at the river one of them finds a woman's body in the water. They're all a bit freaked out and don't know what to do but decide to push ahead with their original plan - the next day they tie the body to a tree so it won't get lost then start their fishing. On returning to civilisation they report the body and life goes on. Except it would never be the same again. Things start to unravel, including friendships and a marriage. The past comes back to haunt them all as they face the terrible thing they have done.

Frank and I have been talking about the movie a lot - so many themes to ponder. It reminds me of school, studying Huckleberry Finn, drawing out the rich characters and themes. If I was an English teacher I'd set this movie as a compulsary 'text' for study. Strength, racism, love, history, baggage, relationships, death, character, honesty - they're all there.

What would I have done if I'd found the body in such a remote place?
Kept on going with life?
How much compassion do I have for people I don't know?
And what about respect?
Am I so wrapped up in myself I would step over another person's tragedy?
Do I have the courage to admit the terrible things I've done and apologise?
Are there unresolved issues from my past that I need to deal with?
Can I face who I really am?

This was a movie that moved us deeply. I don't want to watch it and forget. I want to identify those things that challenged and moved me, figure out what they brush against in my own life, and ensure that I am someone who responds in the right way when faced with someone else's tragedy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Yesterday Frank and I had a few windows measured for curtains and blinds.

I was a bit embarrassed to discover just how many spider webs were hanging from the ceiling, not to mention the window frames!

Then it got worse.

We recently had duet blinds fitted in our back room by a different supplier. Frank suggested that to prevent an uncomfortable moment, I should walk the curtain man around the house, rather than through the house when it came time to measure downstairs. (We wanted windows measured upstairs and downstairs)

Dutiful wife that I am, when Mr Curtains finished measuring upstairs, I guided him outside and down the driveway to the downstairs room, feeling rather sheepish about my subtefuge.

It was then that our plans came undone.

Mr Curtains, being quite an observant bloke, noted the eaves over the upstairs windows. He commented about how good they looked and how effective they were at keeping the sun out, and he wished more people would use them. And then... you guessed it. Mr Curtains noticed the blinds - well of course, that's his job! He notices blinds and curtains. Doah.

I was sprung. Egg on face! My subtefuge was blown. My attempts to cover up were futile. (I'm not sure he figured out that that was why we'd come around the long way!)

Incidently, there was nothing uncomfortable about the situation. He commended us on such an excellent choice of window dressing, complemented the eaves again, and admired the tinted glass! Then he merrily went on his measuring way, even dropping me back at work afterwards!

The moral of the story? Don't bother hiding things - it just isn't worth it. They're bound to be discovered and you end up looking stupid. Yes...

Monday, October 02, 2006

ant attack!

Lunch time yesterday I noticed about five ants crawling around the benchtop.

I wasn't too concerned - there were only a few so I could live with that. But I put out a bit of antrid just in case.

Well, five ants have multiplied to thousands (seemingly!). After tea there must have been about 200 of the little critters racing around. The antrid was mostly ignored as they clambered over every piece of crockery waiting to be washed, as well as discovering patches of sugary stickiness previously unnoticed. eeew!

I wiped the bench clean, annihilating most and hoping that any survivors would race back to the nest and warn the rest to stay away. (A bit like Job's sons... "only I have lived to tell the tale")

No such luck! I got up this morning to find tens of ants drowned in the antrid. I raced off to work with the fleeting thought that if the lone messengers of doom hadn't deterred them, a few dead mates wouldn't keep them away either.

I was right. I've just returned home and the antrid is awash with beasties... shouldn't be long now before the whole nest dies off and our kitchen can return to normal.

Here's hoping!