Sunday, March 30, 2008

turn off the lights, turn off the lights

If Earth Hour doesn't have a theme song yet, they really should talk to Nelly Furtado, because she has a song that would, like, totally fit.

Oh, they already did. I thought I was onto a winner there...

Anyway, last night it was Earth Hour, and despite the rest of the town doing little to dim their lights (at least from what we could tell by peering out the window at various neighbours), Frank and I flicked the switch.

I have a sneaking suspicion Earth Hour is a bit of a gimmick, but if it raises awareness of our contribution to climate change then I'm all for it. I'm so all for it I threw in a few extras for good measure:
  1. Showered by candle light - this was justified as essential preparation for night shift, plus the realisation that the water heated up during the off peak period the night before, so technically I was not using power during the all important hour.
  2. Allowed the bathroom mirror to become steamy by avoiding use of the extraction fan.
  3. Switched off the computer and did not check my email or blog comments every five minutes like I usually do.
  4. Delayed blow drying my hair until after Earth Hour - technically this did nothing to reduce my electricity use since I only put off the consumption of power. I suppose it helps that the blow drying took a few seconds less because my hair was already partially dry.
  5. Watched not a skerrick of television and talked to Frank instead. When I wasn't in the shower that is. And I don't watch much television anyway, so not much was gained here really.
  6. Used the old manual toothbrush instead of the new electric brush, and even remembered to turn the toothbrush charger off before Earth Hour. This was an all round winner!
  7. Lit bees wax candles given to me so long ago I cannot remember who gave them, but I say thankyou to whoever you are!
I guess when it all boils down, not much of this makes a huge difference, but if we are all that little bit more conscious of our contribution to the rape and pillage of our earth, maybe we can make a change for the better.


Monday, March 24, 2008

lady lake tasmania

Tasmania is a bushwalker's paradise, something Frank and I too often forget as we trudge through life and ignore the myriad of beautiful walks available at our door step. The simultaneous arrival of Easter Monday and a bushwalking-mad friend saw us launch into nature today, and quite honestly it was one of the best bushwalks I've ever done - perfect weather, fantastic company, time enough to set a leisurely pace and just the right degree of incline that my knees could not indulge in their usual downhill groan. It was an altogether lovely day.

With grey skies overhead, we set out for Lady Lake in the Great Western Tiers, not knowing the precise place we were heading for. Along the way the fog lifted and we had a good view of the mountains as we circled around nameless country roads looking for the walk's starting point.

When we finally arrived we stepped into a wonderland of dappled sunlight, birdsong, gnarled tree roots, tree ferns, myrtle beech, sassafras, refreshing bush aromas and moss. The recent rain did nothing to dampen the beauty, instead bringing out the lush colours of the plants - and the leeches, but I was keeping such a close eye on them I managed to deter the three sneaky suckers who dared to climb upon my boots. Frank didn't fare so well, with one feeding quietly on his leg beneath his gaiters.

After climbing Higgs Track steadily for more than hour, we reached the plateau, home to many lakes,

though we had eyes only for Lade Lake, and a beauty she was.

I can't really say that the imbibing of wine is recommended for the average bushwalking lunch, but we had plenty of time, the company was grand, the conversation stimulating... so we did.

A perfect day.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

easter musing

"Let each one examine their heart, and make themselves right before partaking of the Lord's supper."

Perhaps I have heard them wrong, but each time these words fall upon my ears, dread creeps over my soul, a thick fog moving across the contours of my heart.

How must I examine my heart and make myself right before God?

Should I venture to peer within my heart I stumble across motivations I can only describe as less than honourable; self righteousness abounds; I am lacking in generosity and kindness of spirit; I want nothing more than to prove myself right at every turn... there is blackness hidden beneath this clean and shining face. To look down into that blackness sends chills down my spine. To contemplate making myself right before God only fills me with despair. Not in my wildest dreams or most angelic moments could I hope to achieve anything close to making myself right. I am beyond repair. All is bleak.

As I sit before the communion table contemplating the awfulness of my sin, exhorted to prepare myself, I retreat in defeat. I will never be worthy to take those blessed symbols of Christ's death. His body and blood lie ever beyond my reach.

And in this is the mystery. As I face the truth of my most desperate plight, I attain a state of readiness. In the moment of recognising my absolute unworthiness, my total inability to qualify as even an extra in the great drama of God's story, I am transformed, made worthy, transmuted to that perfect place of participation in the ritual of bread and wine.

For is not the work of making my heart right Christ's work? Does he not make me worthy to join the dance of love? Was this not the purpose of his death and resurrection - to save me from my own weak efforts at perfection? Did he not shed his blood in order to bring freedom from futile works?

Let us not be frivolous as we approach the Lord's table, but neither let us be burdened by the weight of our sin. The table is for rejoicing over. Take the cup and drink to life, the bread and eat to wholeness. Christ has done the work! In his death he achieved that which we could never hope to achieve in a lifetime of trying.

To life. To a worthiness that is not my own.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

heat + dry + gumtrees = bushfire

So the whole state is covered with thick, choking smoke. The acrid stink hurts my nose and even with the whole house closed up the smell has seeped in through every little crack.

But it made for a pretty nice sunset...


Monday, March 17, 2008

jail bird

If you'd told me twelve months ago that I would be planning to break the law and go to jail I would have laughed in your face. As little as three months ago I sniggered when I completed my police check for a new job and boldly ticked a box stating I did not expect to gain a criminal record - after all, who really does plan on collecting criminal charges?! Not me.

I'm a good girl I am!

Perhaps I should rephrase that. I'm a good girl, I was! Yesterday Frank and I went to training in peaceful community protest techniques, and if we follow this through to the end of the line, we could end up in jail for six months for trespassing. Little did I know my journey into environmental activism could end behind bars! In view of the serious implications of all this for my new position as a school chaplain I am considering all my options very carefully, but at this stage with the pulp mill still scheduled to go ahead I will be taking action of one sort or another.

This is the current state of affairs: despite not having yet secured funding or the complete range of permits required for the project, Gunns keep rattling their sabre, boldly declaring in every form of media they can access that they will get the funding and the mill will be built, with construction commencing construction in the next six months.

The community remain appalled. More than appalled, we are angry. This is big business acting as if they own the resources of our state. This is the government forgetting they are here for the benefit of the people and bowing to the wishes of powerful corporations. This is environmental destruction on our doorstep. This is like having our mouths forced open and pollution poured down our throats.

If Gunns get the approvals they need, and if the bank gives them the necessary funding (we are campaigning hard against both) then we will fight. Not with guns or chains clamped onto vehicles, but with well thought out peaceful community protests.

We have to stop this monstrosity. For the sake of our planet, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our social and moral fibre.

(This link is very, very long, but it's well worth a read... I actually cried as I read it. It's a speech given by the former head of the committee that was supposed to review the pulp mill, until Gunns threw a tantrum, pulled out and the government rolled over to their demands. We aren't just fighting against a pulp mill, we're fighting against greed and consumerism and arrogance and pride)

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hot under the collar

I've just walked to town and back and let me tell you, it's hot.

Not as hot as Adelaide, I'll grant you that, but for Tasmania this is a stinker of a hot day - we've hit 32 degrees Celsius (90F), which is outrageous for half way through the first month of autumn! Last year we had an unseasonably warm autumn, but this year it's hotter!

It scares me really. When I'm not rejoicing over the incredibly speedy germination of my bok choy and cabbage, or revelling in the feel of warm sunlight on my face I wonder what will become of us. If the average temperature is calculated using temperatures from the previous twenty to thirty years, what happens when our current 'extreme temperature' is swallowed up in those average calculations and eventually becomes the norm as the cooler temperatures of the past drop off the scale? What if 30 C days become the norm for autumn in this part of the world?

And we had almost no rain last winter, hardly any rain this summer... what will we do if it doesn't rain this winter?

The climate is a changing and regardless of the heat, it sends chills up and down my spine. How will we live in a world we have destroyed?

Come on people, start living differently. We have to halt the heatwave!

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Friday, March 14, 2008

there is a god! mmcdlxii (or 'i am very excited')

My excitement has just reached fever pitch.

Not because yesterday I planted seeds for my winter crops and now the weather has turned so hot they cannot fail to germinate, though that is certainly an excellent state of affairs.

Not because we are finally able to go overseas, with all the necessary leave booked in with various employers, and circumstances aligning perfectly to allow us to go. Certainly this does make me smile (we've been trying to get away for over a year now), but it has not turned up the heat on my excitement.

You might think I'm thrilled because yesterday I booked our tickets, and (despite booking only two months out from peak season) they weren't too expensive. I am certainly pleased we have a good price and the dates seem to have worked out nicely, but that's not the real reason for my incredible joy.

No... I'm over the moon because the couple who became like a mum and dad to me when I lived in England for three years are holding a Golden Wedding Celebration... and I can go! The date for the do just happens to be the day after we arrive in London!

Yesterday when I booked our tickets I had no idea. I felt sad that we could not make their celebration planned for July. Today I received an invitation with the amended party date... and we can go! How good is that?!

Yay, yay, yay. I'm so excited!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

i know, i know, this is a terrible meal but...

... doesn't the double yolk make it at least a little more nutritious??!

And I worked the whole long weekend - is that a good enough excuse for a slack meal?
And the sheep ate all the vegetables - so what else could I cook?!

These are the third and fourth double yolk eggs in a couple of days. I'm beginning to think the whole dozen might be special!


Saturday, March 08, 2008

another big spider

Discovered this one hiding behind the shower curtain while cleaning my teeth barefoot in the bathroom... which is better than discovering it hiding behind the shower curtain while standing naked behind the shower curtain myself I suppose.

Yes, that is definitely bigger than the last one. Unless it IS the last one after he ate a bit.

(Thanks again to Frank my heroic rescuer)


to laugh? or to cry?

There's a fascinating cross over between laughing and crying. Have you ever noticed someone's face but (because you can't hear them) you can't quite figure out if they are laughing or... crying? And sometimes people laugh so much, tears run down their cheeks... Or they feel so overwhelmed by an incredible sense of joy they start crying... Or a situation is so ridiculously miserable it's laughable... Laughter and tears represent seeming extremes of emotion yet at times they merge and blur and indicate the very same feeling. Incredible.

That's a pretty fancy intro just to tell you that the sheep got into the garden. Again. And I don't know whether to laugh or cry... and I can't figure out if I'm devastated or amused... and, and, and...

We came home this evening from a very pleasant ride to the waterfront for fish and chips. Clive was standing in the yard looking kind of guilty (this is funny, sheep can look guilty). I said 'I hope you haven't been in the garden Clive because I've seen you pacing and pawing around it quite a lot recently'. (Clive and Blackie have also been making frequent, small incursions into the edge of the patch, snatching forbidden fruit whenever they can)

I stepped around the back of the shed to see what they had been up to, and found Blackie standing in a mess of trampled, chewed silver beet, lettuce and capsicum, brazenly tearing leaves off the tomatoes (this was not funny, I wanted to cry). She immediately ran through the hole they had torn in the chicken wire and joined Clive in staring at me, waiting to see what I would do (this is kind of funny - sheep seriously act like people sometimes).

Frank heard my ensuing garbled expressions of disgust and came down to see what the problem was. He was furious and (very unusually for him) clapped his hands loudly and chased them into the neighbour's yard (three cheers for Frank - that was fantastic). The sheep stood just across the boundary looking rather sheepish about their behaviour (this was cute, but I wasn't laughing). They even managed to look slightly penitent - but since we've seen that look at least ten times before we had no mercy. Frank found a piece of suitable plywood, placed it in the fence and effectively banished the sheep from our yard. They made not a sound, not even a bleat. They knew they had done wrong (this is interesting, but not really funny).

The funniest thing of all though, was Frank's reaction - he was visibly upset. Usually it's me running around madly, cussing and cursing those blasted sheep. This time Frank was the cross one. He didn't cuss and curse mind you... only I do that around here... but he determinedly set the sheep out of his sight. And why? Not because he was upset about the loss of vegetables - it was for me to mourn the loss of our beautiful produce. Frank was upset because he thought the sheep knew the vegetable garden was not theirs for the taking. He thought he had a meaningful relationship with them such that they could be trusted to do right and stay out of what was obviously not their territory. He could not believe they would have been so deliberate in their wrong doing. Surely they knew better.

Sheep? With a conscience? With a brain big enough to stop and think before sinning?! Now that's funny!

(After which I'm off to cry about my poor, poor vegie patch. I think I give up)

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

it's just not cricket*

There are a few distinctives of Australian culture that help us stand out from the morass of well satisfied, monotone Western cultures. One is 'tall poppy syndrome' - we have an incredible propensity for chopping anyone who dares attempt to stand out from the crowd down to size. Making more money than most of us? Fantastic grades? Astronomical success? It's just not cricket and we'll sniff out your Achilles heel if it kills us and bight you hard.

The other thing we don't do is dob. There are times when we discover a person is breaking the law, smoking dope, cheating on their tax, abusing their wife and child. But it's just not cricket to dob. Don't betray them. Don't do the right thing and inform the authorities. Instead we're more likely to pull together and protect the criminal. Of course this is a broad generalisation - not all Australians fail to report a law breaker and not all of us do our best to protect someone who is hurting others. But as a rule, dobbers are not well respected here. Neither is authority.

Where did these tendencies come from? I suspect the convicts. When we got off those ships we stepped into a hard place in which criminals suffered atrocious conditions and dreadful treatment. The land was hard to survive on and we fought just to stay alive - and escape the English soldiers. If anyone dobbed, the escapee would be caught. This was not cricket. Somehow this mentality is engrained in us.

This isn't to say Australia doesn't have systems in place to support and encourage the reporting of crime. We do! One such system is the 'Child Protection Authority'. It is mandatory to report any instance of child abuse. In a crazy twist of loyalties, to not report child abuse is to break the law.

It might be the law, and I did it, but I feel hollow. I feel like a traitor. I am devastated by what my actions might do to this family. I only hope the stand I took might improve things for this beautiful, beautiful child.

But it's just not cricket!

* it's just not cricket: Australian slang; having something that is unjust or just plain wrong done to someone or something. This came from the game of cricket which was regarded as a gentleman's game where fairplay was paramount.

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this is what i did with the beetroot

I confess I didn't eat the beetroot as immediately as my post indicated... I cooked it up tonight. Roast beetroot is a bit of a favourite, so I made a roast beetroot and sweet potato (kumara) salad.

Even with a few less herbs than directed (due to a paucity of supply), and lettuce replacing the baby spinach leaves, it tasted amazing. Here's the recipe:

Beetroot and sweet potato salad with feta (from 'cool food' again - page 273)

350g fresh baby beetroot, trimmed and washed
250g orange sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
60ml (1/4 cup) garlic oil
1 garlic bulb
3 tablespoons olive oil
20g butter
1 red onion, cut into 1cm wedges
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon shredded basil
150g baby English spinach leaves
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and stems discarded
120g feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Wrap each beetroot in foil and place on a baking tray. Brush the sweet potato with garlic oil and season. Place on another baking tray with the whole garlic bulb. Cook with the beetroot for 35-40 minutes, or until tender. Test with a skewer, and when tender, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for minutes, or until soft. Add the vinegar and sugar, cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion is golden and starting to caramelise.

Peel the garlic cloves and combine them with the lemon juice, basil and remaining oil. Season to taste.

Toss the spinach, beetroot, sweet potato, onion and rosemary in a bowl. Crumble the feta over the top and drizzle with the dressing. Serve warm.

Serves 4

Then I cooked up this Eggplant, tomato and sumac salad and a couple of rumps of lamb and served it all up for tea. Yummo.

(This recipe came from the sister book 'bbq food', another fabulous investment)

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Monday, March 03, 2008

smoke screen

I suppose there's a first time for everything but some things, like buying a packet of cigarettes, will never feature on my list of must-does before I die. Still, today I ended up buying my first pack of smokes. Well, they weren't really my packet, but I did buy them.

I can proudly... no, no... sheepishly profess to never having taken so much as a puff on a smoke. In fact I was one of those kids who yelled sanctimonious health advice ('every cigarette you smoke takes five minutes off your life') across the street at the youth who surreptitiously smoked behind the old cinema. Only last week I indulged in a patently artificial cough when the neighbour's cigarette smoke filled my face and seeped into my freshly washed clothes as we simultaneously hung out our washing. And I wouldn't be a true nurse if I didn't warn every patient of their body's inability to heal when flooded with toxic chemicals from a cigarette.

So purchasing the demon sticks has not even so much as danced across the outer reaches of my consciousness. (We'll forget for now that there was a time when, as a powerless, poor teenager, I could describe in detail the box of every brand and strength thanks to an unscrupulous employer)

Today everything changed. I joined the class of 'cigarette buyer'. Sigh.

It all started when I blithely phoned a fellow nurse to confirm a coffee date, only to be greeted by tears. She was unwell. Bleeding from places one does not normally bleed from. In pain. Scared.

Of course I would jump in the shower quickly and come over. If need be I would take her to the hospital. I would do whatever she needed. Anything.

"What? (Gulp) You want me to buy you a packet of cigarettes?! I've never bought a packet in my life! I... I... I wouldn't even know what sort to get."

Peter Jackson silver. (And yes, I remember the pack)

So I skulked into the shop, head down, forked out my money and (before I could blurt out that the cigarettes were most definitely not for me) ran to the car. On arrival at my friend's place she fell upon me with gratitude, confessing her guilt at the dirty habit as she sucked in the toxic fumes.

This is friendship, no? Not necessarily agreeing with another person's actions, but offering support regardless. (Incidentally, my friend did not need to go to hospital and, whether due to the cigarettes or my excellent company, she calmed considerably)

I seem to be coming up against this almost daily at present - loving and valuing a person at the same time as being unable to support their behaviour. A father caught up in abusing his wife and child, a bullying Christian, an unwell smoker. Each of them a friend, all demanding an appropriate, dignified response.

Suddenly purchasing a pack of smokes seems a minor infringement - there is more at stake in the world than the sullying of my pristine, smoke free past!

I only hope I can step as easily over and through the other difficulties.


Blogging boosts your social life? We knew that!

Here's a toast to you, my friends of the blogosphere!

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