Tuesday, August 26, 2008

oh i get it

I know this is... ah... really obvious, but I figured out why shepherd's pie has lamb in it, not beef.

It was like the moment I realised why car reverse lights are 'white'... because they light your way backwards in the dark. Clever huh?!

For some reason I always made shepherd's pie with beef mince. It was a little disconcerting when I finally found an official recipe for said pie and it called for diced lamb. Lamb? In shepherd's pie? What ever happened to the good old beef mince?


Shepherds. Sheep. Lamb. They made the pie with the sheep they looked after?! Now I get it. Clever.

(And on the pantry clearing front, I used a couple of packets of old, old, old (June 2007) two minute noodles. Not in the shepherd's pie of course. In a vegetable stir fry I threw together last week. Maybe I should have taken more notice of the 'best before' date... they were revolting. Then again, they were Home Brand so they may have been revolting to start with...)

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 25, 2008

... and one more thing

While I'm on my Olympic soap box I thought I would share another observation.

So the cute little girl at the opening ceremony was miming (I thought it was pretty obvious, but anyway) because this little girl was too ugly to sing in front of the whole world (I think she looks cute too, but never mind). I am not sure why the world was so shocked by this... China is hardly known as a country who will compromise in their efforts to present exactly (and only) what they want the people to see.

What I did love though, was that at the same time as China was condemning one girl to obscurity for her plump cheeks and crooked teeth, this band was being chosen to perform at the United Nation's celebrations to mark International Day of People with Disabilities in December. By any standard they are unique, different... disabled. I love that they are being recognised and honoured for having the courage to have a go, to make music despite the constraints disability places on them.

You go 'Rudely Interrupted'. You are what living life to the full is all about!

Labels: , ,

this is one of the reasons for the eye rolling...

Australia won 14 gold medals at the Olympic Games.


This is how much it cost in government funding for every medal: $16.7 million.


I hate to rain on the parade, but isn't that figure a bit outrageous in a world filled with poverty and injustice?

And to those people who claim our poor showing in the Olympics means the government should fund our sports people even more (surely they are forgetting our small population - in terms of medals per capita we've done pretty well. Or maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better... national pride and all that.) I have this to say:

Millennium Development Goals

The money we spent on the Olympics had the potential to supply millions of people with mosquito nets to prevent them from contracting malaria. Or fund the establishment of health clinics. Or reduce maternal and infant mortality.

Go figure.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

olympic trauma

Mostly I have rolled my eyes over all the fuss - there are some really serious things happening in the world at the moment and I do not consider the Olympic Games to be one of them. But I thought it was about time I watched at least a little of the Games, being only one day of competition left in which to enjoy the incredible feats one can achieve with a body of flesh and bone.

And there are two Australians in the 10 metre diving finals... show my support and all that.

But I just can't watch it. I am so worried they might clonk their head on the platform as they spin around I have to shut my eyes until I know they are OK and then watch the replay. Pathetic but true.

So what's the point of even pretending to watch? I'm off to bed!

Oh... hang on a minute... here's a bit of ribbon gymnastics. I might stay and watch that or... no, they've switched to the 5000m race... and now the javelin and...

I give up. Bed is so much more inviting than this piece meal broadcast!

Labels: ,

Monday, August 18, 2008

eggscuse me please

So Frank and I went for a drive on Saturday and bought four chickens. Rhode Island Red, one year old, already laying.

And this is what we found on Sunday...

How exciting is THAT????
Pretty damn exciting if you ask me.

This is where we went to get them: Weymouth.

Well, not exactly Weymouth... we picked them up from a farm on the way to Weymouth!

And we found two more eggs today. Now if we can just figure out how to keep them happy and stop pecking each other's backsides, we'll be right.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 15, 2008


You could be forgiven for thinking spring is here, but only if you were using shop windows as your guide. Gone are the jumpers, coats and boots, replaced by tee shirts and drifty skirts and flowing blouses. Meanwhile, outside a stiff, cold wind is blowing.

Of course there are the early signs of spring outdoors too - daffodils sneaking out of the dirt, buds swelling the tips of branches, smudges of light on the horizon when the alarm drags me from my dreams. Soon, soon it will start to warm up.

But not yet. Right now snow is comfortably settled on the mountain, the morning grass crunches frostily with each step and only the five layers of clothes I slavishly don keep the wind from cutting me in half.

And what do I crave in all this chilled coldness? Icecreams! No idea where that is coming from, but I am working my way through the packet I bought on Tuesday with alacrity. Strange but true.

I'm wondering if this ice cream crave is a subconscious attempt to conjure summer out of a box? As if each warm lick takes back a small portion of the territory currently trapped in winter's icy grip. Or maybe I'm having delusions of summer, imagining the air is already warm and ice cream a perfectly normal indulgence. Or maybe I'm suffering from SADS, feeling grumpy (yes) and miserable (a little) and bored with the same, dowdy winter clothes each day (totally) and ice cream is the comfort food of choice to drown my sorrows.

Really, I have no idea why I am craving ice cream in the dead of winter, but one thing I do know - I am over it and no amount of crisp, beautiful, clear air or wintery sun on patient, delicate, naked trees will change my mind. It is time for spring. Really and truly time for spring.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 09, 2008

a little nature lesson

I went for a walk through the Gorge this morning. Sometimes I walk in one gate and out the other without taking in a single glimpse of the beauty between, as if my eyes were shut tight. Today I opened my eyes, unstopped my ears and practised mindfulness with each step. The echo of birdsong off the cliffs, aroma of moist foliage, lingering fog, ducks engaging in familiar quackery, water rushing over rocks. It was a lovely start to the day, clearing out the cobwebs of my mind, refreshing, rejuvenating, restoring after a tiring week.

Walking towards First Basin I noticed a Little Black Cormorant perched on a rock in the middle of the river, strutting his stuff. The chest was puffed out, beak in the air as he posed proudly for whomever might look. On the rock behind him a stream of poop trailed down to the water, mocking the elegance of the preening bird.

As I observed the cormorant I pondered how like life this little cameo was. We strut our stuff, chest puffed out, nose in the air, hoping others notice just how good we are. Behind us, just beyond our range of vision, lies the trail of shit we leave in our wake when we hurt and judge and jostle and generally fail to think of other people as we push our own way to the front.

I am reminded of some advice my spiritual director passed on:
By taking a few minutes at the end of the day just to reflect on what has been happening, we can reconnect our daily life with our life in God... Let the day's events replay, like a video in fast forward, and just notice anything that particularly catches your attention. Stay with the memory, as if you are 'pausing' the video to look more closely at that part... Are there any dark patches during the day? Is there something that you now wish you had handled differently?... Is there any 'unfinished business' from the day? Maybe something has left you feeling inadequate or fearful or resentful? Let it rest there in the light of God's love, and ask for the grace of healing and enlightenment. End your prayer by asking for God's continuing blessing upon tomorrow's living, as you let yourself sink into his loving care for you.
If I take time to be mindful, reflective, in tune with God and nature I suspect the trail of shit might diminish or (here's hoping) disappear. Meditating on life and the place I sit leads to selecting more thoughtful, deliberate paths that avoid hurting others (so much).

I guess that means more beautiful walks to the Gorge. How nice.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 03, 2008

the measure of my cupboard

Four or five weeks ago I started working in the operating theatre of the local hospital. Mostly I loiter in the recovery room, but I also spent a couple of days with the anaesthetic nurses in order to get my head around airway management.

I don't mean to be demeaning, but a lot of anaesthetic nursing, at least in this hospital, seems to be about stocking cupboards. Not that that isn't a bad thing, being prepared with supplies for any possible emergency and all of that. I have no doubt that those anaesthetic nurses contribute to Australia being one of the safest places in the world to go under... it just doesn't make for exciting learning. I mean, I stock cupboards all the time. And I'm good at it. Too good.

So when the experienced RN set me to cutting trachy tape in readiness for tying people's laryngeal masks I set about it with gusto. Would 10 be enough? Fifteen? I had no idea, so I chop chopped away until I had a goodly looking pile. The RN choked when she saw it - no need to cut tape for the rest of the week after my super effort.

Later on we restocked the general supply trolley with drugs, needles, gauze and syringes. I set off with my shopping basket to the anaesthetic store room and again tried to figure out how much was enough. Did '25g needle +++' mean 10? Or 50? I hazarded a guess and threw what seemed like a reasonable amount of this and that in the basket. When I arrived back at the trolley I realised I had done it again... over stocked and no amount of pushing or shoving would fit everything in their place. The RN I was working with offered a bit of an exasperated laugh before turning and asking what my pantry cupboards look like at home...

How did she know?

It's not like I am greedy or selfish (oh, OK I am), but I like to be prepared for those unpredictable cooking emergencies. One cannot have too much food on hand. Can one?

I can't believe she figured me out so quickly. In less than a day she picked the state of my food supplies. Incredible!

On that note, I am still working on clearing out the old food in my pantry - yesterday the arrowroot biscuits (use by 2006) and a packet of strawberry jelly (surely there's enough sugar in jelly it never goes out of date) went towards jelly slice. Today I made cornmeal muffins and finished off a container of baking powder. I can see the bottom of several shelves now!

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 01, 2008

it's only a game...

You may recall the 2002 FIFA World Cup a few years back. I remember it. A bunch of us at bible college were crowded around the television as England fought it out against Brazil for a place in the the semi-finals. Not that I really cared who won - I was more interested in enjoying a study break in the big-screen atmosphere. In fact after England lost the match I recall rather heartlessly dismissing the feelings of the resident Englishman by asserting it was only a game. I'm still not sure if he has forgiven me.

Fast forward six years and here I am married to a die hard Collingwood supporter. Collingwood supporters are their own breed, unswerving in their devotion despite their team's discouragingly fluctuating form, much maligned by the supporters of every other team in the AFL competition. Doggedly they cheer for their team when incredible victories are out numbered by the almost predictable spectacular flops. Collingwood just don't seem to be able to do what it takes to win when it really matters and their fans keep cheering but feel it like a crushing blow.

Frank is no different in this. His delight following a win is barely containable, while I am yet to plumb the depths of his despair following a loss. Occasionally I doubt his commitment to the team when he mutters about their uselessness when things turn bad - aren't supporters supposed to cheer a team along when the going gets tough? When the gloom and doom threaten to overwhelm both Frank and myself I gently? sensitively?... callously remind him it's only a game.

So last week Collingwood were playing Essendon in a match one might have expected them to win, but things did not go well for the 'Pies. Things went from bad to worse, the life ebbing
out of Collingwood's game with each succeeding minute. It was not pleasant to watch and Frank did little to hold back his feelings of woe. I kept myself busy doing housework, cooking tea for our impending entertaining and monitoring Frank's reactions. As he berated Collingwood's poor form with increasing fervour, I pleaded with him to just turn the television off. 'Spare me and spare yourself the misery; pull the plug; Collingwood are going to lose and I cannot tolerate your
fit of depression; for goodness sake, turn it off!' until finally in the last quarter, Frank gave up all hope and let the screen go blank.

As all good counselling students are wont to do, I began to reflect on my own response to the afternoon's television viewing. It was then I picked up on my tension, the stomping around the house, blocking out the game with headphones, increasing agitation... my need for Frank to turn off the television had nothing to do with his reactions and everything to do with mine. I was upset. I wanted Collingwood to turn around and win back points. I was desperate for them to show us their stuff. I felt angry with their poor performance... in truth I could not stand to watch them lose. Blow for blow, their loss was mine and I could not bear it. This was no longer just a game, it was Collingwood doing poorly, Collingwood going under, Collingwood staring down the barrel of losing their place in the top eight.

What the heck?! When did that happen? When did I convert from cold indifference to loyal supporter? When did I lose my objectivity and stop seeing this as only a game? How on earth did this happen?

One week later I am still scratching my head. And it does not help that Collingwood have been beaten, again. Definitely out of the eight this week.

I'm off to mope. And please - don't tell me it's only a game!

Labels: , ,