Thursday, November 30, 2006

no more pollution

As of today I'm going to make a stand - no more pollution.

No, I'm not talking about the end of NaBloPoMo and the sometimes cyber polluting twaddle I have peddled for thirty days. That will end, today even, but I'm talking about something far more serious.

The Tamar Valley is under threat from a Pulp Mill. As I write, plans have been submitted along with the arguments for and against. Until now I've taken a fairly layed back approach to the whole thing - I figure both sides have engaged in hyperbole, exaggerating their claims of pollution or pristine production. I couldn't believe either side so I didn't buy into the debate.

No more the lackadaisical attitude.

Tonight I heard that another industry on the Tamar is believed to have caused cancer in many families who live along the river - but the story has been supressed by the money of the company.

Plonk another industry right beside it and the pollution may be doubled. Or more than doubled. In my backyard, effecting the people I love.

My mind is made up, I've jumped off the fence, and I've landed squarely on the "No Pulp Mill" side of the debate. I might buy a sticker for my car, and I'll join in any protests and demonstrations around town.

We don't want our beautiful city or our beautiful valley destroyed for the sake of a dollar.

No more pollution I say.

And in an effort to reduce the drain on our water supplies, we've put two tanks in the backyard. Frank hooked them up to the downpipes today, one off the house and one off the garage. So now we just need rain - and since we live in the 5% of Australia not effected by the worst drought in history, it could happen soon. I hope. It would be lovely to see them filled to the top with delightful, live giving water!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

sitemeter stats

Some time ago I linked up to sitemeter so I could keep track of the comings and goings on my blog. Boy have there been some comings and goings! 1023 of them! OK, so half of them were me obsessively checking who visited my blog, when and how, but still - that number of visitors is not to be sneezed at!

Sitemeter is really a wealth of information - these are some of the other things I've discovered:
  1. People from America, UK, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Egypt, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Bahrain, Australia and maybe some other forgotten locations have visited 'happy chatter'.
  2. Most people don't stay long enough to check out anything beyond the first page that the 'next blog' button flicks them too. NaBloPoMo randomiser readers are the worst - they mostly click and run! Come on, it's almost the last day. You can manage a comment today!
  3. I have about 10 regular readers, only some of whom I know.
  4. Outside of Australia, Americans are my most frequent visitors.
  5. Crushing Krisis mentioned me in a NaBloPoMo review and I scored 3 guests from his link.
  6. Google searches seem to be my biggest winner at present - "spider in box of bananas" scored me one guest. "ian crohn chasing francis" has scored me three visits, one from Kenya and two that I'm convinced are the author. (I've only written this here so that if he visits again he'll leave a comment and say 'hi'... I loved your book and I'm going to read it again!) "wallaby rissoles", "mowvember"and "an invconvenient truth" attracted three more visits - as well as revealing a heinous spelling error! Most recently "hairdressing salon" reeled someone in! I thought I was the only person who did crazy Google searches.
  7. Five people have exited via my comment boxes, and one of those left a comment! Thankyou, I love getting comments! (Another reason I check my blog so frequently)
  8. My longest visitor stayed for 45 minutes - there isn't enough to keep anyone entertained here for that long. Must have been a windows malfunction while they worked on other more important things!
  9. Even though I live in Tasmania, my server address is listed as Homebush (Sydney) Australia. One of my guests has a different server address every two days.
  10. Thanks to NaBloPoMo I average 19 guests a day - quite a jump from 6!
So there you go - hats off to sitemeter for providing me with so much useful information. Hats off also to NaBloPoMo for increasing the visibility of my blog. Marginally! Maybe I'll stick with it and sign up for the 'holidailies - web writing every day in December' option.

Why not? I'm so in the groove of this daily blogging thing. Not.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

am I a cranky person? (that's a rhetorical question)

I don't usually watch TodayTonight but since Naomi Robson is resigning this Friday, my interest was slightly piqued - what desperately important current affairs would she beam into our homes in this her final week? None as it turned out...

...though one item did catch my attention - a report on the 50 most hated politicians and celebrities. What kind of a current affair report is that? Utter rubbish! And what kind of a world do we live in when hate is not just a nasty emotion, but something we encourage and promote and glorify? It was shameful and an indictment on all of us who give TodayTonight its top ratings.

Lest I sound high and mighty and sickeningly moral, I must acknowledge an enormous 'plank in my own eye'. I am a cranky person. Or so I've been told in the last couple of days.

In the spirit of honesty I phoned a friend yesterday to talk about something she said that made me feel quite upset. In a very sharp voice she responded by saying, "To be quite honest Cecily, I never know quite what response to expect from you." The sharp voice kind of confirmed my reason for phoning, but ouch! Ouch!!

When Frank got home I asked him if he thought I was a cranky person. He just stood and looked at me wordlessly - not exactly the response I was hoping for! Since then I have been working hard to be sweet as sweet. It's not too unnatural!

So - a cranky person. And I'm not sure just how to overcome this, since working hard to be sweet as sweet can only last so long. Maybe more sleep? (only 2 more NaBloPoMo posts to go!)

Whatever, I'll be working on it! Stay posted for the new, true me!

Monday, November 27, 2006

the enigma of age

It would seem I'm getting old. OK, I'll temper that - older.

I know everyone looks at me and presumes I'm young - they thought I was about 21 at the hairdresser last week - and the "Real Age" website reliably informed me that my real age is 24.1 Of course I could be younger if I ate more vegetables and slept more hours.

But all this aside, I see the signs of age creeping up on me.

Grey hair - we're not just talking a few grey hairs here. Even someone at work thought I'd had highlights put in! I'm doing my best to grey gracefully and resist the colouring craze, but I'm shocked at just how many greys adorn my head. I don't believe the old wives tale that every grey hair you pull out is replaced by two so I frequently scour through and pull out as many as I can. Soon I will have to stop doing this for risk of large patches of baldness developing.

Crinkly lines around the eyes. Obviously no one else can see these, since they think I am such a young one - but my skin is changing as we speak. It's just not as supple and juicy and fresh as it used to be. It might look smooth, but come close and you can see the tension and stretching and drying out going on there. My one comfort is that most people don't inspect my face as closely as I do!

Tiredness. I'm always tired and life just takes it out of me. The vigour de youth is fading (if that isn't French - it is now). Having said that, I've been feeling pretty energised the last few days - the sun has been shining, it's actually been hot enough to discard long sleeves and shoes, and the variety of summer fruit we now have available is enough to set anyone to skipping with joy!

Stodginess. I wouldn't let Frank ride the motorbike fast. I almost didn't take my shoes off at the beach the other day - because sand is annoying in your shoes. That is so sad.

Agism. Have you noticed how 25 is really very young? Too young to be travelling the world alone. Or getting married. Or making major decisions! And 21? Still in nappies. It's all so relative! Some of you are reading this and can't believe I feel old at 31. I will say this to you - remember when you were 31? It was the oldest you'd ever been up to that point in time. That means for you, 31 was old! Right now that is me - I know in my head that 31 is young but I feel old. This is the oldest I have ever been!

I just have a sense that life is rapidly passing me by. I always thought it was great to be Gen X, enjoying the experience of life, bucking the system. Now I just feel trapped between Baby Boomers (and their forefathers) who just don't get the postmodern world leave alone adjust to it, and Gen Y who take in 1000 things at once and leave us Gen Xers for dead in the adjustment stakes. We're the hinge generation and it's not a comfortable place to be, always twisting backwards and forwards trying to bridge the gap between two vastly different worlds.

It's not all complaint worthy though! I love that I finally reached 30 - took a while but I got there. I'm proud of the life experience and wisdom (such as it is) that the big 3-0 represents. I understand myself better now than I ever did (still working on self management though!) and I can read situations and people pretty well.

Yeah, I like being 31. I even don't mind a few crinkly lines here and there. On other people. They look beautiful then!

This post is therefore a kick up my pants.

Relish life. Throw myself into crazy, joyful activities for the fun of it. Enjoy where I've got to. Age gracefully and graciously. Humour the young. Respect the old. Be comfortable in my own skin.

(How do you feel about being the oldest you've ever been?!)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

australian idol eat your heart out

Tonight was the Australian Idol grand finale... and I missed the whole thing.

I've watched every night of the final series, but tonight I was at a hen's night. Don't get me wrong, we had a great time, but it was a tough call to give up Idol for the sake of friendship, love, camaraderie and initiation into marriagehood! I mean, they're both so important.

My dilemma this week, apart from deciding whether I could possibly miss the big event, has been this - Damien or Jess? He sings fantastically, she's sweet and gorgeous and lovely and sings OK too! In the end I voted (cringe - I'm embarrassed to admit to the world that I voted on Idol) for Damien - his version of the fairy floss single was streets ahead of hers. (Who writes those winner songs?)

As I drove home from tonight's hen's night I was singing along to a favourite cassette tape that hasn't yet been chewed (don't laugh - my car was made before CDs were invented!) and I wondered if I could ever make it on Idol.

Every year I dream of auditioning. Every year I tell myself I'm too old. And probably don't sing well enough - there's a vast difference between holding a tune and captivating an audience, or singing at church and recording a CD! But let's just imagine that I could sing well enough. That I wowed the judges with my touching and masterful audition. That Australia loved me and voted me into the top twelve, that I was standing on the stage of the Sydney Opera House waiting for the big pronouncement...

... and there I stopped.

I have absolutely no interest in becoming the kind of person who could win Australian Idol. I don't want fame. Fortune might entertain me for a moment - but not at the cost of selling my soul. I like being me*. I like living here with my husband. I like hanging out with friend's at a hen's night in the suburbs. I value my life just as it is. It might appear typical or common, but it's mine, it's what God's given me and I'm thankful. So thankful.

So I won't be auditioning for Australian Idol next year. I might even manage to crush my audition dreams!

I'll be living my wonderful, common, blessed life, cherishing the riches I have and basking in the love I share with Frank. Beat that Australian Idol!

*I also like Damien because he seems to have walked the line between selling his soul for the all important Idol image and remaining true to himself.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

biking around tasmania

Wow - what a day. My bum hurts, my back aches, my neck's stiff, but I have conquered Tasmania's roads on a motorbike! With Frank's assistance!

At first I thought I was going to have to miss out on our motorbiking adventure as I felt unwell, but the symptoms settled enough to don the required clothing, including this head doubling helmet. (Frank was given special dispensation to wear an open helmet, on the condition that he ride safely! Later on he mastered the bandit effect by adding a bandana across his face)

I jumped clambered inelegantly onto the bike (will you check out how far off the ground I am - my legs were hardly long enough to get on the thing!)

and off we went on a circuit around the north east of the state, our first stop being a large lavender farm. The lavender wasn't quite in bloom, but the location was beautiful and the chocolate lavender fudge was delicious! Here is Frank modeling the bandit look.

From there we headed north to a gorgeous seaside town called Bridport. Torquise water, hip cafe, relaxed feel - this place is definitely on our 'return here' list!

After lunch we started heading back home, but we couldn't go past our favourite Tamar Valley destinations - Artisan Gallery & Wine Centre and Koukla's Cafe at Gravelly Beach. The river view is beautiful...

... and the food's always great so we popped in for a while!

When we arrived back at the Motorbike Hire store we had to wait a while for the owner. I was totally exhausted and fell asleep in the car - never has a chair with a back been so welcome!

All in all it was a great day. I didn't relax enough, and drove Frank mad tapping on his shoulder to slow down. During lunch I did a bit of digging, and discovered his biking credentials - just a mere 10 years of riding a bike larger than the one we hired. So after lunch I tried my hardest to trust him, relax, feel the bends in the road and enjoy myself. Unfortunately a cross wind had developed - cross winds and high speed don't mix in my opinion (Frank was thankfully unperterbed and kept steering us the right way). I was also spooked by a truck I hadn't seen coming - it didn't hit us but the woosh of air felt like we'd been knocked! By the time we got back into the city I was relaxing more, tilting like a pro and enjoying the bends. When it all came to an end I felt a bit like a kid - "Stop! Stop"... "Oh do it again!"

There was something wonderful about engaging with the world without metal and glass to reduce all the sensory stimulation. Smells are one example - freshly cut grass, road kill, Eucalypt bush, cow manure, floral scents, bushfire smoke... no filtering, just each smell in all its fullness.

There was also something very freeing about cruising from place to place simply for the joy of being on an open road, feeling the throb of the engine, experiencing the rush of the wind. It was envigorating. Scary, but envigorating! A fantastic break from the humdrum of life, and a chance to appreciate the beauty of the world in a thrilling new way.

So there you have it... I've managed to keep my eyes open long enough to write this, but that last picture says it all, so I'll be off!

Friday, November 24, 2006

fear and exhileration all in one

I've just learned two things about myself:
  1. I am a scaredy cat
  2. I am not supple
When we got married I gave Frank a gift voucher for a day's motorbike hire. So this evening we went to collect the bike in readiness for a day of serious riding.

It sounds so romantic doesn't it? Cruising along the open road with the wind whipping my hair, snuggling close to my beloved as I gaze out upon gentle hills alight with the glow of the golden evening sun, sheep munching lazily in green pastures. And it was romantic and beautiful.

Only I have never ridden a motor bike in my whole entire life, leave alone travelled pillion while someone else did the driving. Forget romance and beauty, this was plain terrifying.

So there we were, with the motorbike owner going through all the safety checks while images of patients injured in motorbike accidents flashed through my mind. I took deep calming breaths, and feigned nonchalance as Frank took a test run around the block. He arrived back in one piece and soon it was time to don my helmet and mount the bike.

Easier said than done! Roger explained the best way to get myself on the bike was to imagine it was a horse - well I've never been much good at mounting horses either! Either my jeans were too tight, my boots were too heavy, the bike was too big or I'm just plain crochety and stiff - it took a couple of kicks in Frank's back and a herculion effort to get my leg straddled over the seat as it should be.

Then we were off - and right in front of my eyes my gentle, sedate, careful husband was transformed into a hoon! His mission became testing the capacity of the bike, and it was all I could do to cling on for dear life while G-forces did their best to rearrange my face or at least blow me off the bike. I was suprised by the strength of the wind that had come up out of nowhere... before I realised it was just the wind we were producing as we sped along our way.

In my fright my vision was consumed by my reflection grinning senselessly back at me from the safety sticker on the back of Frank's helmet, as if by grinning enough I could convince myself that this whole thing was sane and safe. Who in their right mind would race along asphalt roads with no more protection than a few layers of clothes and a helmet? No metal casing surrounding fragile bodies, just frail human flesh whizzing along at the speed of light.

As all this raced through my mind (along with the thought that this was SO blogworthy!), my body was taut with fear. I kept trying to remember what a pillion is supposed to do: turn and look into the corners, keep the body aligned with the driver's body, tilt with the bike when it tilts, keep your feet off the ground when you come to a stop, place one hand on your knee and hold on to the bar behind with the other.

I did my best, but one hand grabbed Frank's jacket while the other hand went numb from gripping the bar behind so tightly. And it's impossible to relax into the corners when your stiff as a board. And somebody has to hold the bike up when it tilts over too far around the curves! And what about roundabouts - just when you're leaning into the curve one direction you have to whip your head around the other way and shift your whole balance to the other buttock. There's an art to pillion riding!

Frank was in his element - or he would have been if I hadn't kept patting his back with our pre-arranged 'slow down' signal! Poor boy just wanted to hoon along and I kept freaking out and begging him to put the brakes on - bless his heart, he listened to me every time! He still seemed to have a good time, adding in a lengthy detour through the lovely countryside, and 'accidently' missing a turn that added a further 5km to our homeward journey.

By the time we turned into our driveway I felt almost relaxed. I was noticing the scenery, leaning into the corners like a pro, turning and facing the direction of the curves, gripping Frank and the bar a little less tightly and grinning with delight as I realised tomorrow just might be a fun day. I'm even looking forward to it. (And I promise some photos!)

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I've been wondering if spiders have personalities and can suffer from mental illnesses.

We all know humans have different personalities and some suffer from mental illnesses, and it's been recently proven that animals have different personalities, not just cats and dogs - even sea creatures. And everybody's heard of crazy dogs, viscious cats and mad cows. So why not spiders? Spiders might have personalities and suffer from mental illnesses too.

Take this for example. A tiny spider was living on the floor in front of our vanity basin in the bathroom. He just kind of sat there, and, being a bit into spider torture, I would blow hot air on him just to watch him run under the basin. Only he behaved very unusually. He never ran for the safety of the basin - instead he ran around and around in erratic circles before coming to a stop almost exactly he started.

This continued to happen for a couple of days, and it set me to wondering. Could this little spider be slightly mad? Was he suffering from dehydration induced delirium? Did he have a mental illness?

This morning I found him curled up on the floor, dead. Poor little spider. Tortured and tormented in life, perhaps chasing his demons around the bathroom floor.

I personally think this is evidence that spiders may suffer from mental illnesses. So be nice to the spiders in your home - they may be feeling tortured and delirious with fright.

Oh what... you mean it's me who's delirious from blogging? Not the spiders? Sorry. Just forget this whole post!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

10 things I'd do if I wasn't blogging all day

Continuing with the 'blogging consumed my life' theme (it's 10pm, way past my bed time and I can't think of anything more inspiring I'm sorry!), I need to tell you what I am prevented from doing by blogging. It has nothing to do with me... all the internet's fault.
  1. Backing up my computer files
  2. Wiping my hard drive and reloading everthing so it runs better
  3. Finishing a cross stitch that's been 10 years in the making
  4. Writing letters to long lost friends
  5. Removing everything from the kitchen cupboard, wiping the shelves and returning everything to the cupboard again
  6. Cleaning the cobwebs from the ceilings, walls, window archs, door frames and every other nook and cranny (Frank bought me a spider web cleaner the other day, so I'm very excited about cleaning webs this weekend. If I don't blog, you'll know why!)
  7. Reading "New Internationalist", a cool independent news magazine I subscribe to but rarely fully read
  8. Cleaning the venetian blinds oh, I did that... cleaning the windows
  9. Watching Series 3 of Monk that I borrowed from some friends who won a copy and have no interest in watching it
  10. Practicing the violin
  11. Making individually hand crafted Christmas cards (blame NaBloPoMo for the cheap shop cards)
  12. Giving myself a foot pedicure
  13. Reading the Bible more (now there's a priority for you!)
  14. Phoning friends
  15. Finishing off the 73 unfinished books on my shelf (I'm a terrible one for reading several books at the same time but completing none)
  16. Finding the right piano to buy
  17. Weeding the garden
  18. Planting more vegetables
  19. Writing up a lunchtime program for teenage girls
  20. Focusing on my husband (he's wonderful)
... Oh, I'm way past ten things I'd do if I wasn't blogging all day. Good thing I love blogging so much or I'd be going crazy with frustration at this serious state of underachievement!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I've been troubled by a lack of honesty lately.

No, I haven't turned into a big, fat liar, but I have been noticing how rarely people are really honest with each other. Work, home, even at church (the supposed bastion of truth), we just don't come clean. Instead we tip toe around issues saying the opposite of what we really think; we secretly whisper the truth to other people, but won't admit to how we really feel to the people most needing to know.

Take, for instance, this situation at work. There's a bit of a nasty pasty there. We all talk about her when she isn't around, relaying the latest offence she's caused and bemoaning her meanness. We talk about how we could confront her and request that she not speak to us with such a lack of respect. But we never do it. We never face her with the truth of how we feel or what we think about her small minded power games. We simply aren't honest, and our lack of transparency and assertiveness keeps our relationship at a disatisfying status quo. It could be argued that we also prevent her from becoming more self aware and able to grow.

Then there's church. One woman there is particularly manipulative and as I have a small amount of authority in one area, she trys her wiles on me. I am fairly resistant to manipulative charms (though I must admit to being a master of them - I try my best to keep them under control!), so I refuse to budge. Which brings out further attempts at manipulation which makes me dig my heels in harder. Rather a destructive relational style. Quite possibly we just need some honest talk here - "Please stop manipulating me to get your way. It will not work! Let's talk openly about what you want, why you want it and how we can achieve it together."

I'm not suggesting we go around saying horrible things for the sake of truth and honesty - that would be hurtful and destructive - but maybe if we were bit more real and spoke the truth in love, our relationships would be deeper and stronger and we would work together more cohesively. We might be more successful at getting the job done and we might be characterised by harmony instead of misunderstanding.

This all sounds good in theory, but I'm not sure how it works in practice. Jesus makes it all sound rather simple when he says:
There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests... Your task is to be true, not popular.
OK, I get the need to be truthful. I even see the benefits of truthfulness, but it takes a lot of guts to be a truth speaker. It takes wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent! I don't want to go around crushing people because I'm determined to tell them the truth! I do however want honest and real relationships where we cut to the chase and engage deeply and meaningfully.

In light of this, I've determined to speak the truth more often, whether at home, at work or at church. I want to engage with people in a pure, open way without the undercurrent of unspoken thoughts and feelings. Hopefully by doing so I will grow, others will grow, and relationships will blossom. That's the theory anyway!

Monday, November 20, 2006

hairdressing success

It's a bit ridiculous - yesterday I could think of nothing to write, while today this is my third post, but honestly this little tidbit is too good to miss!

I found a fantastic hairdresser!

I've been on something of a hairdressing crawl for a couple of years now, and I'd even come to the point of thinking that I might doomed to serial hairdresser hopping.

I like to walk out of the salon feeling fantastic - whether the 'do' looks fantastic or not doesn't matter, the important thing is that I feel great. That hasn't happened for a good two years. I've tried jumping straight from one stylist to the next, I've stayed at a salon for a couple of months, but no matter what I did, it just didn't work. I always walked out feeling blah.

In despair, today I called a small, unknown, out-of-town (and everyone knows the best hairdressers are in town right?!) salon and made an urgent appointment for this evening. At 5pm I tentatively pushed open the door. Immediately I was ushered to a chair - which didn't even turn on its axis. A mixture of hip and faded hair photos adorned the walls and mirrors while the bench in front of me was surfaced with marble effect wallpaper.

No matter, appearance isn't everything. There was still a chance this could be the salon of success.

Then the hairdresser walked towards me. She was middle aged, crisply asked what style I would like and set about snipping my hair silently.

Inwardly I sighed. What hope was there of a good cut here? And I certainly wouldn't come back to a hairdresser who didn't chat as she chopped!

She kept snipping away, working over my hair with her razor blade, checking if I wanted the fringe shorter, thinning out the mass of hair I am blessed with.

And taa da - exactly the hair cut I was after! Exactly the hair cut I've been after for about six months. Here she was, tucked away in an obscure little salon and she's a hairdressing master! Never again will I judge a salon by its appearance. Never again will I cringe when an older woman cuts my hair! I am so happy - and I feel fantastic!

To top it all off - it cost me $21! I've been paying up to $50 for unsatisfactory cuts, and here was a wonderful 'do' for less than half the price!

Now do you see why I had to post just one more time?!! It was too good to miss!

dust to dust... more lessons from household chores

Our venetian blinds have been crying out for a dust for some time... nine months to be precise. My memories of venetian cleaning are less than fond - think "fighting with thin slivers of metal" and you get the idea. I always ended up worse off, thus I avoid cleaning venetians like the plague.

However our blinds were getting beyond a joke, and once I started this morning, it really wasn't so painful. (It did help that they were wooden venetians with half as many slats, and I had a snazzy dusting cloth that seemed to suck the dust into its weave!)

What amazed me was not that the blinds were dusty, but just how dusty they were! Once I started wiping the layers of grime away, revealing the lovely tone of the wood, the rest of the slats looked awful.

Over time the dust had fallen, I gradually noticed it and eventually wiped it away. It was only once I started cleaning that I could see how bad things really were.

I got to thinking that life's like that. Well mine is anyway! Without care, over time I develop bad attitudes and my character falls into disrepute. It happens gradually and I don't really notice the slide - until I meet an extremely kind person, or something dramatic happens that reveals the worst in me. Suddenly my state of inner ugliness is seen for what it is, and I have to do something to clean things up.

I've been having an inner dirt revealing day... or maybe that's an inner dirt revealing month! There's so much crud inside of me. Not nice.

This is terribly cliched, but very true - the best soul duster I know is Jesus. If I couldn't ask him to come and clean me up I'd be sunk! Thankfully he never gets tired of wiping my inner soiling away and then I go on, working more closely with him to stay clean on the inside.

flat floppy sponge cake

I kind of pride myself on my cake cooking ability. I churn out at least one a week, and with practice they are getting better and better.

Until today that is. Today I attempted a Spicy Sponge Cake. I don't have a good record with sponge cakes - years ago one didn't work so I never attempted another. However today I decided that the wonderful Kenwood Kitchen Chef might make all the difference between a flat flop and a fluffy wonder.

It was all looking good until I poured the mixture into the tin. Before the cake even hit the oven it was practically running over the sides and it all went down hill from there!

This is the unhappy result - a flat flop that ran everywhere.

We haven't tasted it yet - here's hoping it tastes better than it looks!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

the secret to blogging success

NaBloPoMo is consuming more and more of my energy. This is not because I'm writing longer posts, in fact I'm cutting down on quantity and quality. The energy is consumed by puzzling over what to write. In the cold light of desparation, almost any event takes on blogworthy status, whether it deserves it or not. The problem then is that I can never recall the really blogworthy moments when the time comes to type.

My mind is so taken over by what to blog, that I spent much of my afternoon walk pondering it. I turned several conversations over in my mind before deciding they were not suitable for public consumption. Then I discovered that no one event of the last few days stood out over any other, and to be quite honest I'm running out of words with which to craft original, quirky stories from nothing.

I was so frustrated by this that I started almost stomping along the footpath. Infuriating! There I was, walking around town on what has turned into a beautiful day, and instead of enjoying the beauty my thoughts were turned inward to blogging! How ridiculous that what usually provides pleasure and renewal as I contemplate nature's treasures, had turned into a self absorbed analysis of blogworthiness.

I was so discouraged by the futility of daily blogging that I began to contemplate quiting NaBloPoMo. I'm not one to give in easily, but I don't like being so imprisoned by the demand to write for the sake of proving that I can post every day and win a prize that I don't even need. Maybe it is time to call it a day.

Then I remembered - trials produce perseverence and perseverence character. Stick with it Cecily, this must surely be producing great character in you. (It's debatable how much character can be produced by idle blogging, but it's possible that I might be growing deeper and stronger through this. Or at least learning lots about myself!)

Never one for thinking about any one thing for long without being distracted, I started to notice what a gorgeous day it was - not even blogging could keep me from noticing for too long.
  1. The sky overhead was clear blue, dotted with fluffy clouds here and there
  2. The sun shone, effusing me with warmth and joy
  3. A gentle breeze danced through my hair and tickled my arms
  4. Patches of shade contrasted coolly with the heat of the sun
  5. Forboding, grey clouds sat over the mountains, providing a dramatic backdrop to the city
  6. Birds sang and flitted back and forth amongst the trees
  7. Lizards slithered quickly into the bushes as I walked by
  8. The sound of laughter and chatter drifted across the park from happy families
  9. Energy and life pulsed through my body as I stepped out my paces
  10. My lovely husband welcomed me home with a kiss and we planted tomato seedlings
Before I knew it, I had a post! Yes, that's ten things about the beautiful day!

So it would seem that the secret to constant blogging success is not thinking too hard. Live life, savour the moment - the post will come in its own time!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

junkmail junkie

I love junkmail... but then when I look at it I have to talk myself out of buying things I don't really need.

The simple solution would be to place a big sign on the letterbox: "No junk mail." That would be sensible.

But no, I love junkmail, so the other day I happenned to see the junkmail delivery ladies walking down the road and I asked them if they could please deliver here (they hadn't been supplying some of the catalogues).

They laughed and were very obliging, immediately handing over this week's catalogues - all 15 of them. That might be a slight exaggeration, but when I realised just how many catalogues would be involved here I almost immediately reneged. That would have looked silly, so I thanked them profusely and walked down the driveway shaking my head.

Why did I ask for more junkmail when I'm trying to resist materialism? I don't know, but there you go.

(Is NaBloPoMo ever going to end?)

Friday, November 17, 2006

sweet taste of success

The morning of the nursing conference (ie this morning!) dawned bright and clear. I know this because I got up early and went for a rather sluggish walk. I was a little nervous as I still hadn't completed my presentation. With minutes to spare I headed out the door with my completed spiel.

Karen and I were co-presenting, and she began with an unhurried, thoughtful precis of the value of preceptorship in nursing. I then presented the lived experience of the graduates I work with, telling the story of one graduate who benefited from preceptorship and comparing them with another graduate who received little in the way of precepting and so resigned from nursing. I concluded by asking what kind of experience do we offer?

As we brought our speech to a close the room was filled with thunderous applause and Karen and I were hoisted high on the shoulders of the audience who were caught up in the raptures of such a wonderful presentation we looked at each and silently congratulated each other on a job done well enough.

No, there was only a polite patter of applause, but overall we received an interesting response.

First, the state's principal nurse congratulated me on being so passionate about preceptorship, and said she was delighted to see someone so young contributing so much. Great. I appreciate the positive feedback but I felt a little foolish up there in front of everyone, as if I was deceiving everyone with my youthful appearance. I know I should be delighted that everyone considers me a babe in arms, but please - I'm 31. A little bit of respect for the wisdom and experience I have gained!

Other people also waxed lyrical in their praise of my stories - I demonstrated leadership ,mya reflective approach shone through, why not write up the stories and publish them, and icing on the cake, the head of the school of nursing approached me and suggested that I should come and talk to her about the options of pursuing an academic career.

Caught up in the middle of this response it was all quite surreal. I only spent a couple of hurried hours preparing last night and this morning (maybe I shouldn't make that known too widely!) - the feedback seemed out of proportion to the effort!

Surreal and heady. Wow! All these people talking to me and making suggestions and offers and... maybe it's not so bad being considered young after all. The golden haired child? (I always was jealous of my baby brother being the golden haired child of the family - he could do no wrong. Til he hit adolescence)

Whatever, I lapped up the honour, humbly of course, and now I'm asking God what to do with it. I told the head of the school of nursing that right now I'm happy to do my best while at work, but I'm not willing to commit my life to nursing - but maybe I should consider the option a little more carefully. Is there a way that I can juggle nursing study and home life at some point in the future?

I've enjoyed the sweet taste of success for the day, but the wisest thing is probably to thank God for his help, thank others for the compliments, and move on. What really counts is not how well I speak in front of a crowd, it's how I work each day at the coal face.

So next Monday you'll find me back on the ward, plugging away, doing my bit for the graduates. I will accept a pat on the back if you consider its a job well done!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

dud blog

This is my first NaBloPoMo dud blog... just too much happenning to write anything worthwhile.

Someone at work twisted my arm to help them present at a nursing conference. Tomorrow. I haven't prepared yet. I'm going to write a couple of stories about graduates - everyone loves a story. I've been in denial all day, procrastinating, and now I'm stressing at the last moment.

A friend is coming for tea. We swap between each other's place every Thursday and then head out to aqua aerobics together. I love Thursday evenings, because it is my space, filled with girl time and envigorating exercise. It's a highlight of my week, so I'm not squeezing that time just to prepare for a conference with 100 people present!

Another friend is having a showing of a few trinkets and jewels at her place. Her mum runs a market stall and sells things you can't find in the shops. I have a feeling that it's important for me to go... not because I'm a shopaholic or anything, but because I'm just getting to know this woman and I would like to do the friendly, supportive thing. Oh OK, I'm a shopaholic and I might pick up a few Christmas presents. So I'll drop in after aqua aerobics.

Then there were a host of other things that I've already completed since arriving home - university application, wrapping a baby shower present, phoning a local business for important information, emailing sunday songs.

It's one busy evening, so I'm going to love you and leave you!

And I didn't even include preparing tea...
And I'm not really a shopaholic...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

foolish spring dressing

I should have watched the weather forecast last night. Or thought about the implications of this morning's frost. But no, I looked out the window and the sun was shining so I dressed in a summery blouse and 3/4 pants and set out for town.

The wind was icy, but I soldiered on - I was mostly inside so I would be alright. And the sun was shining.

Oh that I had watched that weather forecast! 13C was the projected top, as I discovered on a shopfront television. 13C - what season are we in again?

And then it snowed. I kid you not. Main street, summery blouse and 3/4 pants and it snowed! It never snows in town - only on the nearby mountains. And certainly not in the middle of spring.

Funnily enough I wasn't the only one in summery-clothes denial! Half of the city's inhabitants were caught out similarly, and we all stood stunned and shivering as the snow fell, turning incredulously to one another and asking if it really was snowing?! It wasn't rain, it wasn't hail - could these small, white flakes possibly be snow? We all confirmed for each other that it was indeed snow! Of course it melted straight away and soon turned to plain old rain, but oh what a chill thrill.

Interestingly enough, our movie of choice last night was "An Invconvenient Truth", Al Gore's documentary on global warming. The facts he presented were perhaps more chilling than today's snow. Our globe is on the boil - maybe not to the degree presented by Al Gore (we found an online interview where he admits to using the worst predictions to engender political policy change) but things are hotting up and we need to do something about it.

It's well known that Australia is one of only two developed countries that has not signed the Kyoto agreement. Well it's well known now that Al Gore declared it loudly from the screen! I felt so ashamed and saddenned when he declared this fact that I actually cried. It is a tragedy that as a country Australia will not acknowledge our part in producing greenhouse gases, take responsibility for it and do something about it. Hang the economy - we have a responsibility here.

Snow in November, and global warming. Hmmm. There's an anomaly here! Maybe it would have been more appropriate for Al Gore to have focused on the potential for a sudden ice-age brought on by ocean currents flummoxed by melting ice?!

Whatever, Frank and I are becoming more and more environmentally conscious. We're committed to doing our bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our home.

Now I must away to rug up in warm winter clothes!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

waddling home

It's been a cold, blustery, damp day. Again. Snow is falling on the peaks of Tasmania. Again. What is it with with snow in mid-November? I love the rain, but the cold? No.

So I was walking home in the wind and the cold, hunched over and wishing I had worn a coat after all. The whole way home I had my arms crossed to keep out the chill. Can't say that it really worked, but I did notice something interesting.

Without my arms naturally swinging to balance me - I waddled. My whole body was thrown off balance and if I'd been slightly taller, it wouldn't have been a waddle, it would have been a lurch! With each step my upper body worked hard to bring itself into alignment with my legs.

Cold and waddling. What a delightful picture.

This is the drivel that daily NaBloPoMo blogging has reduced me to! It's our 10 month wedding anniversary today (big, I know, but some people are divorced by this stage so we are celebrating with dinner and a movie!), and I was going to write poetically about what a wonderful man I've married. Ha. I need a few days to gather those thoughts together. While it remains November, it ain't going to happen. I'm in to speed-blogging now! So stick around for December when I might have time to create a beautiful blog about my husband.

Monday, November 13, 2006

rainy day freedom

Today I wished I had a job where you have to stay home if it's raining. Then I would have had the day off!

It started out as a wet, wet, wet affair this morning. Frank can't work in wet weather, so he got to stay home. Meanwhile I looked glumly out the window, contemplating whether to bravely walk to work or jump in the car. I didn't want to get wet, but I needed the exercise of walking. Beautiful man that he is, Frank solved the problem by driving me to work - I got to stay dry and exercise on the way home. Perfect - especially since the sun was shining by the afternoon.

While I was watching the news tonight I realised what a privilege it is to be able to get outside on a rainy day. Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader of Burma, has been under house arrest for years. Not allowed outside. Not allowed to have coffee with her friends. Unable to dance in a field of grass (if that's what you do when you're delighted in Burma). Unable to mingle with humanity.

Imagine that - not allowed out of your house because the government doesn't like what you believe! I wonder if I would stick with what I believed if the stakes were that high? I'd like to think I would, but do I have that kind of strength?

Well, while I contemplate my depth of character I will take the time to be thankful that I can go outside. Whenever I want. Rain, hail or shine. Thankyou God for the wonderful freedom that I enjoy! Thankyou for the chance to go to work in the rain.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

shaking off the blogging chains

I've just advised Frank that I cannot assist him with any of the little jobs he requested help with because I have to blog. Did I say yestserday that he has been over the whole NaBloPoMo thing from day one? Well don't even mention it to him today!

It's ridiculous really. As if blogging has taken over my life.

Today I announced my resignation from a particular team I have been part of. There were a few efforts to encourage me to renege on my decision, before someone suggested that we resign from commitments when we don't value them enough, or when they cause us grief. In this case it was both. I value my relationships with my husband and friends enough to withdraw from something that was sapping too much of my energy. It also caused me grief - but that's a whole 'nother story!

But where does blogging fit into this value equation? Do I value it more than the team I recently departed? Do I value it more than I value my relationship with my husband and friends??

The flip answer is "No, of course not!"

The long, thoughtful answer might be "Maybe... it certainly is important to me to meet my blogging commitment... does that mean blogging is more important to me than other things?"

Ridiculous that I have to even consider such a question. If I have to ask myself this, then I have serious problems: Blogging matters too much.

I need to put some stops in! Only short blogs from now on, no editing and re-editing and re-editing in the quest for perfection. What you see is what you get (sure, we'll see how long that lasts! I'm editing already). And if it isn't world-changing or life-changing or even interesting - that's just too bad dear reader! I apologise, but for the sake of my marriage it must be done.

A redeeming point is that I do not randomise through the other NaBloPoMo writers - I seriously don't have time. In fact, I really don't have time to write any more right now because I'm going to go and help my husband plant tomato seedlings and tidy the room he has been nagging begging me to clean!

So long.

(Check out that little bit of HTML - are you proud of me or what?!)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

$75 for that?!

I went to the supermarket with the teeniest little list today, and still came out $75 poorer! Granted it was 4pm and I hadn't eaten lunch so I did toss a few extra items in the trolley to quench the hunger pangs - bag of marshmallows, Turkish Delight, box of Choc Wedge ice creams - but $75 for a handful of essentials plus a couple of treats?!

How on earth can two tubs of yoghurt, cereal, and juice contribute to such great expense? And when did frozen peas and apricot jam break the budget?

I didn't check the docket in the store, but when I got home I pulled it out and combed through it just to make sure they hadn't double charged for everything!

Nope, no double charging. But large jars of Nutella and a bag of apricots are not cheap these days! Apricots seem to have done the same price hike as bananas - $10 a kilo. I'm so bored with apples and kiwi fruit I don't care. Next week I might buy bananas regardless of cost.

(I decided today that the growers and media must be in cahoots. The media tells exaggerated stories of fuit loss and the farmers hike the price up, with a small commission to the media for their valuable service)

So there you go. The bottom of the trolley was hardly covered but the wild price was no lie. Mental note to self - eat before going to the supermarket and no more special treats!

(Did you notice that this was a sneaky list of ten?! Ten things I really did buy from the supermarket, all tucked away in the story. Blogging every day is starting to get tedious. Frank got over it after day one but I've been patting myself on the back for not breaking the flow. But I'd rather develop stories over a few days - they perculate around in my head and come out flavoursome and rich. This spitting one out a day is like instant coffee... the quality just isn't there. Oh well - only 19 days to go and this blog can then return to the quality number that it was! I better win a prize for the effort though!)

Friday, November 10, 2006

a lot can be learned from the humble rhododendron

Our garden has been awash with flowers for a while now - beautiful. Amongst the blooms are a preponderance of rhododendrons. I think Frank decided he loved them, and knowing no restraint if he loves something, he filled the garden with them. Some are fine young specimens like this one, with delicious flowers and lush growth:

Others are a bit seedy, like this one. Laden with flowers, but otherwise not much substance. This is actually a plant that Frank transplanted some time ago and it's struggled all along. Apparently this many flowers with so few leaves could be a sign that the plant is about to die - one last ditch effort at reproduction before carking it.

As some of you know, I love to draw analogies from nature, so I got to thinking about these rhododenrons. Both are beautiful, showing off in all their floral glory.

But one plant has substance while the other has none. One has beauty, while the other has beauty and character.

Got me to thinking. What kind of person am I? Beautiful but lacking in substance? I'd hate to be somebody who's all about externals. Froth and bubble with no depth!

I don't think I'll ever stop fussing about external beauty - I love makeup and hair goop (some of the time, but I hate when it goops your hair together in clumps!), jewellery and nice clothes. But if that's all I fuss about, then I'm not worth knowing.

So I'm off to cultivate some inner beauty. And here's a delicate rhododendron blossom for you.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

returning to the ten

I had it all planned out for the month of NaBloPoMo. Every day I would write 10 things about myself, regailing your fascination with my life with 300 tidbits of Cecily trivia as I fulfilled the daily blog requirement.

Just one problem. It cramped my style... I got bored after only three days of reducing everything to a sterile list! Worse still, I couldn't think of ten things for any one topic - forget reducing life to a sterile list, it was an effort to expand the list to ten items. Besides, a list of ten was supposed to be short and to the point - then I kept writing and writing about each point until it was ridiculous! It all seemed like such a wonderful idea at the beginning of the month, but my plans have sunk into ignominity. Which is a shame really, because I have a list of [thirty] x [ten things] sitting on the desk going to waste.

And so today I return to the ten things. Momentarily. I make no promises to continue beyond this moment. (My imagination for turning everyday moments into a stunning revelation has dwindled as the day progressed - a list seems to require less thought)

Besides, I'm talking lists of ten in my sleep with topics like ten things I bought at the supermarket yesterday. (I didn't go to the supermarket yesterday) Or ten chocolate bars I love. (Oh the pain of choosing only ten!) Or ten blogs I read. (For all the time I spend in blogland, I only read about five regularly. Sorry to the remaining bloggers of the world!) Or ten cosmetic items I couldn't live without. (Vanity, vanity!) I must give my brain an outlet!

So, ten mood driven decisions I make.
  1. Cooking. Frank thinks I cook to suit his tastes, but it's all a bit more self-centred than that. What do I feel like cooking tonight? Nothing? Then nothing it is!
  2. Make-up colours, or whether I wear make-up at all! Completely mood driven.
  3. Chocolate variety. Not that mood matters that much here - any chocolate will suffice!
  4. DVD viewing. Is it a girlie movie night or a serious, thought provoking movie night?
  5. Wardrobe colour. It just will not do to wear all pink if the mood says blue - the whole day feels wrong!
  6. Order of housework. Hmmm, what's easiest, dusting or bathroom scrubbing?
  7. Music. There's nothing worse than trying to relax to Dido if all you want is Mozart!
  8. Exercise routine. It's far more energising when my walk follows a path that takes in the view my soul requires today.
  9. Restaurant. The dish might be sublime, but if it's Italian when I crave Thai it just won't tickle the taste buds. (Having said that, food mood aside, if I didn't have to cook it then it probably does taste sublime!)
  10. Interpersonal relationships. If you're not in the mood for talking there's not much point striking up a conversation. It will only end in tears. (This is a politically correct way of saying that grumpiness or happiness dictate the way I relate to people. Shameful but true)
What moods drive you?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"step inside my office"

Lest you all think I am a domestic goddess amusing myself with nothing but housework, today my humble offering is a story from the workplace. The voices from the past still feature - will I ever shake them?!

Today I was wandering through a ward I cover when the manager looked up and asked to speak with me in her office.

"Sure," I said confidently, "No problem. I have time for that."

Inside I quaked and muttered "Help! She rarely has time to talk to me. What must have happenned? I feel like a kid caught in the act."

I smiled wryly to myself and did some quick self reality therapy: You are 31 years old. You do not need to be afraid. You are not powerless. You are in control of your response.

Big breath and step inside the office.

Sure enough, something had happenned. A certain member of staff had heard from another member of staff that I had said something about them. Chinese whispers in the workplace.

In this instance, I honestly couldn't remember making any comment. I asked the manager to offer my apology if I had unwittingly caused offence, and assured her that I would be happy to talk to the member of staff if necessary.

But I still felt like a kid on the mat!

There's just no denying I have a tongue in my mouth. It often got me into trouble as a girl - I have vague recollections of a huge bust up between my Dad and the school librarian when I was in grade 6. No idea what the problem was now, but I've never forgotten that sinking feeling of my words coming back to eat me.

Sometimes my tongue races away with me and says things it shouldn't. Sometimes about other people. Never anything blatant, just a hint of aspersion. (How's that for dissassociation? Me saying things I shouldn't? Never - it's just my tongue saying them!)

I can't remember saying anything in relation to today's incident - but what else have I said that might find it's way back to the manager?

Oh Cecily... keep your mouth shut. Bight your tongue! Hold in those words. They don't need to be said.

Reminds me of that verse in James "The tongue is an unruly evil that no man can contain." In modern day language: "This is scary: You can tame a tiger but you can't tame a tongue - it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer." (James 3:7 MSG)

One good thing is that no tongue has ever been tamed - I am not alone!

I've been on the mat long enough today! Time to get up, shake myself down and step out of the office. I may never gain full control of my tongue, but I can work at taking more care with how I use it.

I will endeavour to eat my unedifying words before they can come back to eat me!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

dust and the second law of thermodynamics

I was doing a quick round of dusting this afternoon and got to thinking.

Dusting always gets me to thinking - there's something so mindless about wiping a cloth over every flat surface and any other surface suitably shaped for dust catching. It's think while you work or risk a form of housewife madness!

Today I got to thinking about the link between highschool science and dust. For example, archaelogical digs have discovered civilisations buried under the earth. If these historic townships have been buried by years of dust and detritus, could my house be similarly buried if I ceased to dust - filled from floor to ceiling with all the scraps and filings left behind by my existence?

A great volcano buried Pompeii in volcanic rock and dust. Does the dust that settles in every possible nook and cranny of my home bear any resemblance to that dust? Pompeii was buried in a day - how long would it take to bury my home in atmospheric particles blown in from the far reaches of the earth?

And just where does this dust come from? Potentially my cleaning moves it from one room to the next, one surface to another - but where did it come from in the first place? And why does no amount of cleaning ever remove it all?

As I pondered these deep, searching questions, I remembered my chemistry teacher quoting some great scientist or other saying that, left to its own devices, the world descends into chaos.

I have since refreshed my memory, and discovered that this is somewhat similar to the second law of thermodynamics, or entropy. Everything always gets worse not better. Eggs break but they never put themselves back together again (think Humpty Dumpty). Cars crash, but they never pull themselves apart and regain their shape. Houses burn, but they never rise from the ashes....

Dust settles, but never lifts off a surface and floats back to where it came from.

If women had been allowed an education at an earlier point in history, science may well be far more advanced than it is today - we would have pondered numerous every day occurances and explained the theory behind them in no time. I mean, just look at me! One afternoon of pondering dust is all it has taken to realise that I am caught in the trap of the second law of thermodynamics! I will forever be dusting, because dust settles, but never lifts.

Sadly, if I cannot escape this thermodynamic trap, there is great potential that I may be buried just like Pompeii. It seems that I am destined to a life of reversing the second law of thermodynamics with my cleaning glove.

When you put it that way, dusting is really a noble task. Get to it then! And see what you can think up next time!

Monday, November 06, 2006

mum's motto

Funny the things that come to mind at the oddest moments.

As I wrote earlier, today's sole evidence of productivity has been clean washing. (Before you think the worst of my lazy ways, I also went grocery shopping and cooked tea. Does that redeem me?)

I brought in the towels and sheets, semi-folded, and dumped them on the bed, planning to put them away later. In that instant "mum's motto" came to mind: Don't put it down, put it away!

At some point in our teenage years, Mum's patience with our mess reached its limits. "No more ," she declared, as she instigated a new family motto (if we even had one).

I don't think it really stuck. We thought it was a bit ridiculous - you can declare a motto, but unless the team own it, it means nothing. This was one of those mottos. I don't remember that it made a huge amount of difference to our overall tidyness, though I can recall Mum rallying the troops with her catch cry on one or two occassions.

Whatever it's impact at the time, fifteen years later, like a vision from the past, Mum entered the room saying "Don't put it down, put it away!" I dutifully turned back into the room, folded the linen neatly and stowed it away correctly.

Funny the things that come to mind at the oddest moments.
Even funnier the influence they can exert over behaviour!

recovering from the late night!

After all those mid-night endeavours I have given myself the day to recover. Not that I've had a lot of choice - even the slightest task has required maximum effort. I still managed five loads of washing, but since the machine and the sun do most of the work, that's probably not such a big deal. Thankfully it's a public holiday today, and I have tomorrow off. More recovery time required!

Petrol shenanigans aside, this post-weekend malaise may stem from a number of other sources. After being kept awake by a very apologetic snorer on Friday night I allowed myself two days of sleep-ins (does 7am count as a sleep-in?), but it seems they have thrown my body clock out such that it is taking two days to feel normal again.

Then there was plenty of outdoor activity to be had throughout the weekend.

We were at a great campsite on the northwest coast of Tasmania. Apart from the guest speaker who inspired me to try and get on with people a bit more, there were lots of great things to do. A beach for walking, or swimming if you dared! Flying fox that whizzed you over a pond. (I mustered up the courage to give it a go, but jumping off the edge of a solid, stable, steady, safe platform is a scary thing, harness or no harness!) Indoor rock climbing. Badminton. Vocal ensemble. There was never a dull moment, and with good people to mingle with, we couldn't have asked for a nicer time.

Frank came along for the first time this year, and it was lovely to share the weekend with him. Here is my proudest moment of the weekend... Frank climbing the rock wall faster than anybody else. He went up again later without using his legs to assist him over the overhang. Impressive. I managed to get 2/3 of the way up the black pegs on the right, and all the way up the red pegs on the left. I can't compete with Frank, but I was kind of proud!

After listing all that, I feel quite justified in my lounging around today - tomorrow I promise to get back into things!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

out of petrol

There must be crazier people than me in the world, but right now I'm wondering! It's 1128pm, we've just walked in the door after returning from the church camp and here I am blogging. Crazy.

All for the sake of NaBloPoMo fame.

I was anticipating being home to write at around 1000pm tonight, but I forgot to check the petrol gauge. So about 1/4 of the way home, I realised the tank was below 1/4 full and not being the most accurate gauge at the best of times, I had no idea how far we could get! We didn't have much option but to keep driving, willing the car along, but about half way home the orange 'empty' light began to flash a scary warning.

I say scary, because in the middle of country Tasmania, at 10 o'clock on a Sunday night you don't want to be running out of petrol! There are no petrol stations open.

So we turned off into Deloraine and there we were, trying to access a card operated bowser. No luck - credit cards not accepted, only petrol company cards. At the corner store the monk-like owner had no idea how to help us. Next stop a friends house. Again no luck - it's a long weekend and they're away. On to the local pub where several phone calls to potential petrol-company-card-holders were made. Pub proprietor aside, no kind hearted person would rescue us by loaning their card.

Things were getting sadder by the moment, and we even began contemplating staying the night in said pub. We decided to make one last ditch effort by hunting for the police station , just in case they could help. As we drove up the road (using precious petrol) there was a security car with it's lights on.

Previously the blokes had done all the talking to potential rescuers, all to no avail. Now it was time to try girl charm. I ran over the road and explained our desparate plight... and hey presto - the man agreed to use his petrol card to get us $20 of petrol. Yay!

We filled up and drove off, singing praise songs most of the way home... what an answer to prayer! (The implications of staying in Deloraine were not being able to blog and consequently beging disqualified from NaBloPoMo - though I didn't think of that at the time, there was obviously a lot at stake here!)

So here I am, 1130pm rushing to post before midnight, then crashing into bed.

You want to know my advice? Don't forget to check the fuel gauge... alternatively, don't drive late at night in Tasmania!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

10 favourite Tassie spots

Yesterday was a trip around the world – a very brief trip with rather random destinations I have to say. Basically the first ten places that came into my head. Oh OK, there was some sort of selection process, but how do you pick ten of the best places you’ve been to? Impossible! I might have to repeat this another day with another ten places.

So today is a trip around Tasmania, the beautiful state I now call home. I don’t call myself Tasmanian though – apart from not being sure what to call myself (the result of living in far too many places), it seems you have to have to be born here to claim that title, or have clocked up at least 50 years on the Apple Isle. I’ve reached almost six, so there’s quite a way to go.

Anyway, none of that stops me appreciating the beauty of the place, so here are my top ten Tassie locations. Enjoy!
  1. The Tamar Valley. Large, lazy river; lush green hills; wineries and orchards… there’s a reason we got married on the Tamar. It’s just too beautiful to go anywhere else!
  2. The Huon Valley. Another large, lazy river; lush green hills; wineries and orchards… maybe we should have got married here?! When the river is still and reflects the trees and scenery it ministers to those dry, crusty places in my heart.
  3. The East Coast. It doesn’t matter which direction you look, there are dramatic mountains, beautiful bays, pristine beaches. And Coles Bay has a great pizza shop.
  4. The Great Western Tiers. A stretch of mountains filled with numerous beautiful, challenging bushwalks. Driving past them is also a delight - fertile farmland set against the backdrop of rocky peaks.
  5. Liffey Falls. Park up the top, walk down hill for twenty minutes and you find yourself at the bottom of a beautiful waterfall. Drink in the sights and sounds or show your talent at balancing on stones in the river bed… then head back home feeling refreshed.
  6. Beauty Point. OK, so it’s the Tamar again, but it’s called Beauty Point for a reason. Stately yachts grace the harbour while the seagulls sore overhead.
  7. Mount Barrow. This peak is home to a number of towers and it provides a view over Launceston, and on a good day, to the sea. The drive up is a bit hair raising – narrow hairpin bends overhung by dramatic ‘organ pipe’ rocks. And it’s always freezing at the top!
  8. Notley Fern Gorge. A delightful little dell full of green, green moss and the biggest ferns on the face of the earth – they’re even taller than Frank!
  9. Cradle Mountain. I know it’s a cliché, but it really is a beauty! We tried to climb it once, but it was covered in snow and pretty sheer… and… well… I freaked out and Frank did the chivalrous thing and stayed with me just 100 metres from the top while everyone else pressed on. I was very impressed with his chivalry though.
  10. Table Cape. In October it’s tulip season and you can wander in fields of colour, looking out over Bass Strait while the cliffs fall dramatically to the sea.
That’s a short list of Tasmania’s places of beauty. The list could go on and on – so when are you coming to visit?!

Friday, November 03, 2006

10 of my favourite places in the world

So I've settled in a quiet back water of Australia (maybe not such a quiet back water, since life is as busy here as I ever was anywhere else!) - but I still remember tripping around the world, and remembering some of the magnificent places I've been still feeds my soul. Here are my top ten memories.

  1. Waterloo Bridge, London. I used to look out over the Thames and want to pinch myself every time just in case I was dreaming. How did this little Aussie girl end up living on the other side of the world, enjoying the buzz and wonder of a city that has existed for over a thousand years and still pumps with life? It never ceased to thrill me.
  2. Dushanbe, Tajikistan. From the sublime to the ridiculous (or mabe it's the ridiculous to the sublime?!). Living in Dushanbe for a month was amazing - sleeping on the floor (and being chewed up by fleas!); crowding into minibuses and trying to remember the local word for 'stop' in order to get off (always induced a slight sense of panic in me!); eating with my hands; communicating with broken Russian, broken English and a generous sprinkling of gestures; wonderful, kind people all working unbelieveably hard just to survive; wearing the local costume and learning to love clashing colours and patterns... so much I will never forget. What a privilege to have experienced this.
  3. Italy - anywhere in Italy. Incredible. The history, the golden sun on cobbled streets, the art, the traffic, the exuberant people and my wonderful friend in Forli who has helped me experience the Italian life a little more. I've been back a couple of times, and every time I wonder if it will be my last chance to visit - and every time I hope I can make it again!
  4. Gorge du Tarn, a small village in southern France where I spent a wonderful summer holiday. God spoke to me in that place, so apart from the sun, the refreshing river, the horse riding (crazy trail horses - say no more!), bike riding through sunkissed valleys, never ending Abba and never ending laughs, the village holds a special place in my heart. As the cross stood out on the hill above the village , God reminded me that he is my shepherd who will take care of me wherever I go.
  5. The Swiss Alps. Summer or winter they are absolutely beautiful. Wizzing down them on skis is the most exhilarating feeling. Oh OK, timidly slipping down the snow was one of the scariest things I've ever done - if it hadn't have been beautiful it just wouldn't have been worth it! I'm proud to say that I almost reached the wizzing stage though.
  6. Berlin. Absolutely fascinating. So much recent history in that city - things that even I can remember! And to walk the streets where it happened filled me with a deep sense of incredulity - was I really in the place where this or that had been done? The Christmas Night Market was pretty good too.
  7. Amsterdam. OK, the seedy side aside (in our ignorance we accidently stumbled along some red light streets! Quite an eye opener for innocent little me) this is a charming place. There is a restfulness that comes from bikes creaking along the streets, and canals snaking in and out around the houses. And the museums and art galleries? Absolutely wonderful.
  8. San Francisco. Almost as beautiful as Sydney and I didn't experience any earthquakes which was a bonus - well none that I could feel, since they have 100 minor tremors a day (or something like that!). Riding my bike across San Fran Bridge was fantastic - another 'little me here?' moment.
  9. The Tibetan Plateau, eating yak yoghurt and boiled bread in a nomad tent while a sheep was carved up outside. This was an incredible cultural moment - we had no idea who these people were, we just stopped along the side of the road to see them shearing their sheep. Next thing we were invited into the tent, esconced on the mat and feasting on local fare. How good is that?
  10. Newcastle, Australia. Beautiful, sunny, relaxed and the place where many friends live. Not to mention where I grew up! I always love visiting.
Thanks for humouring me with a trip down memory lane. Don't we live in an incredible world - and I haven't even got onto the sites of natural beauty!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

10 ways I waste serious amounts of time

OK, so my name hasn't reached NaBloPoMo fame yet - I haven't even been listed on the website! Last count, there were 400 names to be added and that was two days before I sent my email of registration. For all I know, I might never be added! Who cares? I can still blog away to my heart's content - I'll just have to find another way of achieving fame.

Now for the serious, deep thoughts I'm writing for today.

10 ways I waste serious amounts of time.
  1. Blogging - writing, rewriting, reading, aimless surfing. I pour countless hours into the blogging black hole.
  2. Checking email. You never know, someone might have emailed me in the last ten minutes!
  3. Web Sudoku. What is the point of this? I don't know, but have you ever felt that sense of achievement when you've whittled your best time down by another millisecond?! I like to think it helps me unwind, but aiming to beat the clock is not such a relaxing past time!
  4. Reading recipe books. Always searching for the best recipe ever. Or just hunting for that great recipe I saw the other day but can't quite remember which book it was in! Dad was right, a recipe data base is not such a bad idea... or sticky notes might work!
  5. Australian Idol. They sing entertainingly, the commentary is reasonable, but it's hardly quality television. So why can't I stop watching it? (By the way - Jess should win. No maybe Chris should. One of them anyway)
  6. Chatting on MSN Messenger. Not that chatting is bad, maintaining relationships and all of that, but mostly I talk about inconsequential things. Our relationship wouldn't be worse if we hadn't chatted. Well OK... I have had one or two serious conversations, but mostly it's a form of procrastination that keeps me from that Word document I really should be working on!
  7. Sleeping on the couch in the sun. I'm not sure this one is really a time waster. Ever heard of power naps? Nanna naps? There is a small amount of benefit to be gained here. However I'd probably be better off going to bed earlier and doing something productive in the early afternoon!
  8. Pacing from one room to the other, feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks calling out to me, vainly trying to decide what I should do next, ultimately achieving nothing.
  9. Staring vacantly into space. When the brain reaches meltdown and there's nothing else you can do but take a little time out.
  10. Taking photos of numerous itsy, bitsy nothings, just to post on my blog. I find this relaxing and it provides outlet for my creative juices. So I take it back... this isn't wasting my time, I'm just struggling to find 10 ways I waste my time. Mostly I'm time efficient - except for the blogging. Sigh.
So how do you waste your time?!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

10 things I love about blogging

  1. Blogging provides an avenue for taking stock of my life.
  2. Blogging connects me to my family more often - in a virtual, disconnected kind of way, provided they read it at all!
  3. Blogging keeps me up-to-date with distant friends - well, the ones who blog anyway (and aren't they the most important ones?!)
  4. Blogging is a portal to the world - from my little house I can beam chatter to the entire global village.
  5. Blogging is a window into other people's worlds - click 'next blog>>' and be amazed by who you bump into.
  6. Blogging is an outlet for every extroverted tendancy I have. It's also potentially a sign that computer nerdiness is inherited. Sigh.
  7. Blogging is a safe way to voice an outrageous opinion without the risk of personal harm.
  8. Blogging helps my marriage - let off steam on-line without dumping on Frank! Hooray for blogging.
  9. Blogging fills in time while the football is on. Perhaps I should move this to the number one position?
  10. Blogging is a great topic of conversation. Actually I'm not so sure about that - the minute I intoduce how much I love blogging into most conversations people start looking at me like I have grown horns. Oh well.


This is really, really, really sad.

Really sad.

And just a tad embarrassing.

I've signed on for NaBloPoMo otherwise known as National Blog Posting Month. Every day for the month of November you have to blog something, anything. Too exciting!

If I post every day and am then randomly selected I could win a prize... I could win a number of prizes. Unfortunately I would have no idea what to do with most of the prizes as I have little computer nous, nor do I know if said prizes even extend to Australia - so mostly I hope to gain the deep satisfaction of knowing that I have contributed to the greater good of the blogosphere. Ha ha ha.

So for thirty days there will be daily entries from me... if I can keep up with the pace. If you hate the whole idea blame it all on Robyn - she sent me the link - and if you can't keep up with the pace, skip out on the blog. I won't mind. Really. No matter that my sitemeter sinks to zero, I honestly will understand.

Having said that, I hope to do more than just write every day! I hope to write something interesting everyday that will keep you stimulated.

So jump on board for the NaBloPoMo ride of your life!