Sunday, December 31, 2006

Quote for the day:

Growing OLD is inevitable,
growing UP is optional

(or so says a birthday card I received... I think it's right! :-)

another year clicks over

Today is my birthday.

This year I celebrate my "Meaning of Life Birthday" ... and if you don't know what that means, I suggest you read The Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy, and look out for numbers of significance. (and Man of Steel, if you are reading this, and scratching your head wondering what on earth I'm talking about, I will lend you the book/s when I get home, as this is part of your popular culture awareness training that cannot be overlooked!)

This is only the second time in my life that I haven't been in Sydney (or Hobart) with my parents on my birthday, which feels a bit strange, but not all that bad. The folk here in Launceston have been very warm, and I have been invited to a gathering this evening to celebrate the new year and my birthday, so that should be fun.

I used to think that people in their 40s were old... but now that I'm there myself, I don't feel at all old, in fact I feel like I'm only 30-odd (and probably act it too- or at least the "odd" bit! :-) It's interesting how your perspective can change over time.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

In the formal quiet

One of the experiences I have been privileged to have during my placement was to plan and lead a mid-week communion service at Pilgrim UCA (in the centre of Launceston city).

The mid-week communion service happens each Wednesday at lunchtime and is usually a simple, 45 minute service, led by one of the Launceston UCA ministers on a kind of roster basis.

As I'm not yet ordained, I am not able to preside over the communion itself, but I led the bulk of the service, and Tony Duncan, the minister from Pilgrim, presided over the communion, and I helped to serve.

It was a lovely experience, and reinforced the growing appreciation I am developing for worship using a formal, reflective liturgy. We sang a few songs, mostly Taize chants, and one simple hymn, all unaccompanied.

Through experiences such as this, and a few others I have had during my placement, I have also come to really appreciate the great gift I have in my voice, and what an important tool for ministry that it is, and will be in my future ministry. Whilst I have no delusions or aspirations to diva-hood, I am grateful that my voice can carry a tune, and is strong enough to be heard, and to lead in such situations where it may be the only 'musical instrument' available.

Advent, a time to reflect on the coming of Christ

Advent is described in the Uniting Church's version of the Revised Common Lectionary, as:

A season of preparation, beginning on the fourth Sunday before
Christmas, in which the church recalls its hope and
expectation in the coming of Christ, past, present and future.

This is a great description, and certainly, as I participated in the life of the congregations at Newnham and Lilydale during the season of Advent (in preaching, leading worship and other things), I worked hard to encourage people to do this; set aside time to reflect on how Jesus comes to us, again, and again and again...

However, it occurred to me as I was going to bed at around 2:30am on Christmas morning, after a midnight Christmas Eve service (the third service for the day), and anticipated getting up early to lead an 8:30am Christmas morning service, that as ministers (or 'trainee ministers'), at Christmas, one of the most significant times of the Christian calendar, (
which also tends to be one of the busiest times of the church year), there is little time for us to actually do what we are encouraging our congregation members to do, that is, to draw aside from the busyness of life and reflect on the wonder of the coming of Christ.

I see this as a tad ironic, but am unsure what, if anything, can be done to change it. At theological college we have the importance of 'self care' drummed into us, as ministry is hard work, and emotionally demanding, and so it's important for us to learn to draw appropriate boundaries, have outside interests and take time off to refresh and recreate, so that we don't burn out. However, at times like Christmas and Easter, it is necessary for us to be on deck and working hard to serve those to whom we minister.
My supervisor commented to me that Christmas is a time when we can't always be as creative as we would like to be, as there is just so much to do (with extra worship services and other seasonal activities) that there often just isn't time to create something out of nothing for every occasion. The "don't reinvent the wheel" policy was used to great effect in the fact that I got to deliver my Christmas Homily 4 times (at two different Carols services, at a chapel service in an aged care facility and in a special service in a dementia unit)- each time slightly modified to fit the congregation, but essentially the same base message.

Perhaps this is one of the sacrifices that is necessary in this line of work and ministry (and allowable, as opposed to the more general, unhealthy workaholic tendencies that the college is trying to train out of us), and it may be that as I move into life as a minister, I may need to get used to having a personal 'belated Christmas' when I do actually get a chance to sit down and stop and reflect.

Time flies...

Almost a month has passed since I last blogged.This is due partly to the fact that I have been flat out busy working in my placement, and partly due to my erratic access to the internet whilst away from home. I am currently in Hobart having a few days off, and staying with a friend, with good access to a phone line to connect my laptop, so I am hoping to catch up a bit with some tidbits of news and reflections on what has been going on.

Rather than writing a long spiel, I will try to do a series of briefer blog entries, with headings, which will hopefully make things easier for you, my beloved readers, to follow.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It's all in the timing...

The reason for my sojourn in Launceston is because I am doing an 8 week field work placement, working with the Launceston North and Lilydale congregations of the Uniting Church. My supervisor is Rev Brian Cole, the minister of these congregations.

On the day I arrived, Brian took me to visit Lilydale, to see the church building and visit some of the parishoners. On our way back to town (ie Launceston) we encountered a police road block and were diverted via a back road, to avoid the scene of an accident.

It turned out that a 9yo boy from the local District School had been killed when he was hit by a car after he got off the school bus, and ran across the road to where his mother was waiting for him. The whole community of Lilydale was affected by this tragic accident, as it is a rather close knit country town, and most people knew someone who was somehow connected with, or witnessed, the accident.

Brian was asked to take the funeral, in the Lilydale UCA church, and I accompanied him on some pastoral visiting associated with the accident (although we felt it would be an imposition for me to visit the grieving family with him, so I wasn't involved there). I also attended the funeral, and provided whatever support I could on the day.

It was certainly a very intense time, and an invaluable (if distressing) experience for me (as Brian said, "you never really get used to this kind of thing; there will always be 'firsts' no matter how much experience one has in ministry" ).

I am very grateful for the learning experience of following Brian as he planned and conducted the funeral, and learning from his wisdom and experience there. I hope too, that my presence may also have provided a bit of collegial support for him, as he had to deal with holding things together and caring for the grieving family and friends, despite what was happening in his own feeling world.

Greetings from Down South

I am in Launceston, have been here for just over a week now, and am enjoying being "home" (well, kind of).

I am also working on a rinky dinky little laptop (Lord! give me a proper keyboard!) and dialup access to my ISP, which is really making me appreciate my broadband at home :-)

It feels a bit strange to be in Tassie, but not Hobart, but I'm getting over that, especially as I have my beloved Chickenfeed to frolic in! (It was one of the first shops I had to locate in beautiful, downtown Mowbray last week! :-)

(yes, I know I am tragic :-)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

2 sleeps and counting

Not that I'm excited about heading to Tassie or anything... but... :-)
Today I farewelled the last of my house guests (who were so good that they even cleaned my house for me whilst I cooked dinner for another friend who was coming that night- although they did get to enjoy the leftovers of the dessert, which I think they enjoyed :-)

So now, it's just me and my car, and the empty suitcase/s, boxes etc that I have to pack for my 8 weeks away. Hard to know where to start really, because 8 weeks seems like such a long time, and it's terribly tempting to want to pack up everything I own and take it all with me (although, gone are the days when all of my worldly possessions could fit into my car as they did when I first moved from Sydney to Hobart 19 years ago).

And of course, I think I'll have to give the car a good clean, not just to make a good impression when I arrive, but because with all the foliage that has been dropped on it by the trees here, a fair bit of wattle flower buds and leafy things have found their way into the crevices around the opening of the hatch, (which I'm sure the Tasmanian Quarantine folk will have conniptions about if it's still there when I try to get onto the boat).

Hmm... I think I might go and make a cup of coffee and start making a few lists of things I need to take with me (Note to self: must remember to pack the coffee and stove top espresso machine, and Caro sized coffee mug!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A New Toy

For some time now, I have been thinking about getting a digital camera, as I haven't really had a proper camera for a long time, and it would be nice to be able to take pics especially when I'm on placement.

So after a bit of research (gotta love the web!) I decided that the camera that had the features I was looking for, in my price range, was the Kodak Easyshare C743.

So, when Anita was visiting last week, and we went to Richmond for a dose of retail therapy, I popped into Dick Smith to see if they had any in stock. They did! and now the baby is mine!

I have been taking happy snaps all over the place, so hopefully will eventually end up with some pictures worth keeping (and I will be able to add some more pics to the blog.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Reflections on my first year as a candidate

My first year as a candidate is over!

Fri 3rd Nov:

It’s Friday afternoon. The last Friday of the academic year. As I sit with my fellow-first year candidates in our final peer formation group for the year, there’s a sense of grief as we look at each other around the table.

“Well, that’s it then: the end of our first year.”

As we reflect on the year, and offer it to God, we are all struck by how quickly this year has passed.

It really has been sobering to see how quickly this year has passed. It worries me that the rest of my candidature will go screaming past just as quickly, and I will get to the end of my training, feeling as if I have only just started, and still have SO MUCH to learn. (Although, I suppose this would be a good attitude to have, going into my first placement as a ministry intern, as no matter how much study I do, or experience I get, there will always be much more to learn).

Last night we celebrated the College Valedictory service and dinner, where we formally farewelled the candidates who have completed this part of their ministerial training and are about to go (or have recently gone) into a ministry internship placement, or other area of service or further study. It was a special time, and also a bit sobering as those of us remaining realised that will be US being farewelled very soon!

It's not just about the academic study
I have been truly blessed since arriving here, to not only have the chance to catch up with existing friends in Melbourne, but also to have made many new friends, among the candidates and faculty of the UCA theological college, and also with a number of other students from my various classes. I have formed a number of close friendships which feel like they will last long past our days at College.

I remember a comment made to me by a couple of friends in Hobart, when I was accepted as a ministry candidate. They said that the church needed more ministers like me, who were "real". I understand what they meant by that comment, and why they said it, but have to say that as I look around me at the faculty and fellow candidates in the theological college (and also at the candidates for ordination in the Anglican and Jesuit colleges) I am certainly not the only person who is "real". There is a wide variety of personalities (and the faculty especially are all mad as cut snakes- and I love that! :-), and people all bring stuff from their pasts that have helped to form them; and even things they are going through now- I have really learned a lot about faith and grace amid suffering from some of my fellow candidates. I can only hope that when life gets tough for me, I can face it with comparable integrity and guts.

I am also active in the UCA Theological Students’ association, and was elected Secretary for 2007, and have also been the Uniting Church candidates’ rep to the wider students’ association for the UFT (which also incorporates the Trinity Anglican, and Jesuit Theological Colleges).

Spiritual Direction
During the year I have also been working with a Spiritual Director, which has been great, and (among other things) he has helped me to identify the source of some of the excitement for me- it’s in the fact that my studies are enabling me to engage my intellect with my faith in a profound and new way. That’s why I think the Groundwork in Theology unit was my favourite subject- it really gave my brain a workout and made me look at some of the aspects of my faith that I had taken for granted in a new light. My SD has also helped me to work on developing a deeper intimacy with God, through different ways of praying, and he has also helped me to recognise and celebrate the "God moments" in the everyday stuff of life. I'm looking forward to continuing my work with him next year.

Poor Possum

Today I helped a baby brushtail possum meet his maker. :-(

As I went out my back door to put some washing on the line, I was rather startled to see what I thought was a dead possum lying in the bright sunlight on the concrete outside my door. As I was contemplating how best to dispose of the poor creature, I noticed an ear twitch, and then looked more closely and realised he was breathing.

The poor baby (because he was quite a youngster and very small) was in a bad way, blind and with some kind of injury to his head, and his breathing was laboured and raspy. I tried to move him onto a flat cardboard box so I could slide him into the shade, but when I touched him, he got up and started walking around in circles rather dazedly, and ended up making his way to lie down again against the wall under my clothes line. So I then propped a box against the wall, making a shelter for him to protect from the heat of the sun.

A dash inside to the computer, a quick search looking for a phone number for a wildlife agency (tried for WIRES, but realised that must be specific to NSW), and eventually found the number for Wildlife Victoria's 24 hour rescue Wildline.

Within an hour (and after some advice to wrap the possum in a blanket and put him in a box inside the laundry for protection) a volunteer from Wildlife Victoria arrived to take him away to a vet. She confirmed my fears that the poor possum was in such a bad way that the only humane thing to do was to have him put down, but hopefully his last hour would have been a little less traumatic than if he'd just been left to die (it was a good thing I was at home today and had to put some washing out).

Friday, November 10, 2006

A beautiful end to a stressful week

Today I submitted my final B. Theol. essay for the year.
Woo-hoo! bring on the dancing tenors! :-)
There are still a couple of smaller pieces of work for my Friday Program course which I need to hand in on Monday, but by comparison it will be a pleasure to finish them off over the weekend, as today's essay had really been a bit of a monkey on my back, so I'm exceptionally relieved to get it out of the way.

To celebrate the end of a stressful week, this evening I attended a concert at Queen's College:


Bach arr. Brahms
Chaconne in D minor from Violin Partita No. 2
Anne Veinberg (piano)

Gabriel Fauré
L’Horizon Chimérique (song cycle)
Matthew Champion (Baritone) & Anne

Joseph Haydn
Variations in F

Franz Liszt
Vallee D’Obermanm

Martin Wright
The Eighth Day (song cycle)
Matthew & Anne

(This is the première of Martin's new song cycle, which was composed particularly for Matthew, and is a setting of five poems by George Herbert around the themes of Easter.)

Anne is an incredibly talented pianist, and was amazing.

Matthew has a beautiful baritone voice, and is a fellow chorister in the Queen's College choir.

Martin, who composed the final song cycle on the program, is a good friend and fellow ministerial candidate, whose diversity of talents seems to know no bounds.

It was a very enjoyable concert, and a delightful way to finish off a stressful week of exams and assignments.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I'm in lerv...

... with a younger man!
Quite significantly younger, in fact... Nafatali Christiaan Brown-Nafatali came into the world on Friday 27th October, so that makes him all of 10 days old (give or take a few hours). He is the newest resident of Bucknall Court, the theological college community of units where I live (and is the 5th child of one of my fellow ministerial candidate, Samasoni, and his wife Epa).

Today, in a break between studying for tomorrow's Mark exam and groping for some words of wisdom to write in my Theological Issues take home exam paper, I popped in next door to pay my first visit to the new arrival (of course, I would normally have been over much sooner, except I've had a bit of a cold this past week, which I didn't want to share).

He is SO CUTE!! He was sleeping when I arrived, but Epa passed him over to me to nurse, and he snuggled in, wriggled around a bit, and after a while opened his eyes and gave me a couple of big smiles (and yes, I know, all child development gurus will say kids can't really smile at that age, but hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :-)

He also managed to fill his nappy whilst I was holding him (lots of interesting faces pulled in the process of that, too), and I generously allowed his mother to deal with that.

Update-13 Nov: I now have a photo, so you can see for yourself just how gorgeous he is (note that he is already practising his royal wave to his adoring fans! :-)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Fine Line between Pleasure and Pain

For some time now (in fact, ever since moving to Brunswick), I have been eyeing off the Chinese massage place in Barkly Square (my local shopping centre). I've noticed in the past few months that my back and neck have been a tad tight, and so have thought that a massage might help.

Anyway, to celebrate a year of being open, the Chinese massage place currently has a special deal of either a neck or shoulder massage for only $5... so yesterday, as I was doing some shopping (displacement task from doing study) I noticed that the massage place didn't seem to be busy, so I fronted up and asked for a shoulder massage.

Well... I have to say that I was glad it only went for about 5 minutes, as I think I well and truly passed my pain threshold, and probably couldn't have endured much more at the time. However, as the woman dug her fingers, thumbs, elbow and flat part of her forearm into various parts of my shoulder and upper back muscles, I could feel the knots starting to unravel...

So now, even though my shoulders still feel quite sore to the touch, there is also an exhilarating feeling of looseness (yes, I know, I'll say it, "I am a loose woman, har har" - because I know you're thinking it :-) and all afternoon and evening yesterday, I could feel my spine popping and crackling, as the tension in the muscles had been relieved, and my spine could readjust itself.

I'm thinking that I might return, for a full back massage, after all of my exams and assignments are done, as a "treat" to help me relax after finishing (followed, of course, by a hot bubble bath, complete with wine and a good book, to complete the whole relaxation experience)

I wonder if I could convince the Synod's Ministerial Entitlements committee to include mandatory regular massages in the standard terms of placement for ministers? (although I suspect I have about as much hope of this wish coming true as my fellow-candidate, Martin, has of getting his own wish for the Uniting Church to have Bishops... oh well, we can dream :-)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Coping with the Pointy End of the Semester

All I can say is:

Thank God for Dilbert!
I think these cartoons empitomise how I am feeling right now (and also my current degree of dependence on caffeine :-)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

They say blondes have more fun

Well, we'll see about that!

In a fit of boredom and frustration with my current unruly hair style (desperately in need of a cut, and looking a tad mousey) I took desperate measures and bought some blonding cream and did the deed.

So now, my hair is a number of shades lighter (although, as someone pointed out at church today, it's not exactly blonde.) I don't actually GO blonde... just a light, caramelly orangey kind of hue.

But still different enough to make me do a double-take every time I pass a mirror and catch my reflection.

What European city do I belong in?

You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Today I found something that I thought I had lost... my larger capacity USB drive!

The heat of today's weather meant that my upstairs study in my flat has been like a sweat box (and the wind has been too vicious to open the window to let in any "breeze"), so I decided to get out my trusty laptop and set it up downstairs, where it is much cooler.

When I was rummaging around in the laptop case for leads, the mouse etc, I found it! I knew that when I moved house from Kew to Brunswick I had packed the little USB drive somewhere logical and safe (but for some reason had it in my head that this place was in my filing cabinet's "computer stuff" file).

So now I feel like my full measure of geek grrrliness has been restored. It's amazing how little things can mean a lot (esp when you are avoiding writing an essay or three! :-)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spring has sprung... again... I think

Hmm... well after a bit of rollercoasting temperatures, it seems that spring has finally arrived properly (although now that I've said that, it will probably blow a gale, bucket down with rain and hail and reach a maximum of 10 degrees tomorrow).

The one thing I love about being back on the Big Island for spring, is the scent of the jasmine. Throughout my childhood in Sydney, I always had jasmine growing on the fence outside my bedroom window, and when it flowered and filled the air with its heavy scent, it was a sign that spring had arrived.

In Tassie, I discovered that there are different types of jasmine, that seem to flower all year round, so the scent of jasmine was not so strongly connected wtih spring... but here in Melbourne the jasmine is now out in full bloom, and I enjoy walking home from the tram stop, as there are some lovely specimens on fences in my street... reminds me of my childhood, those carefree days.... (and makes me forget for a moment that I still have a number of essays waiting to be written).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Don't mention the football...

So close, and yet so far!

As the mighty Swannies hang up their boots after another season, we lament the fact that they didn't manage to score back-to-back premierships, but the realists among us also acknowledge that the match went to the better team on the day (even though the Swannies had a bit of a revival in the second half).

My mother is currently in counselling to cope with the result (also under an ENT specialist to care for her throat after she screamed herself hoarse during the match :-)

Have Bushsaw, will "prune"!

Ahh.. ya gotta love men with tools! :-)

Keen readers of my blog will be aware that in my current abode there is a tree that overhangs my car parking space, dropping all manner of sticky, sappy goop, pollen etc onto my car, and which is also used as a toilet by just about every pigeon in Brunswick. (This has been a topic of great lament from Yours Truly in the past).

Well, I now lament no more!

During the "break" from classes, one of my fellow candidates, Lindsay, retrieved a bush saw from his farm, and brought it round today, and removed the main branch that was overhanging my car (which of course, we don't call tree-lopping at all, but rather "ultra-pruning"). The task took him all of five minutes. What a man! :-)

So Lindz suggested I now wash the car to remove all the existing excrement and sticky stuff, and just see if the car remains relatively pristine, or whether he needs to return to "prune" off another, higher branch to give my car full protection from the ravages of the local flora and fauna.

Woo-hoo... Thanks Lindz :-)

Friday, September 29, 2006

predictive text is a wonderful thing

Today I had lunch with Jenny, a friend from Tassie (part of the Tassie invasion I think I mentioned earlier). In the course of our conversation, she mentioned an exchange she had had with the friend she was staying with in the lead up to her visit.

She told me that ever since he had moved from Hobart to Melbourne, this friend had been nagging her to come and stay with him when she was in town, so she finally got to do it. During the negotiations about dates, arrangements etc, she said she thought she should be polite and ask him about how he was going, and what life was like for him, since she hadn't seen him for some time.

This exchange was happening via SMS between their mobile phones, and the response she got back from him was along the lines of:

Things are generally going ok, except that all of Melbourne is currently in the grip of gay fever.

When Jenny received this message, she was somewhat puzzled. What could it mean? Had Sydney relinquished the Mardi Gras to Melbourne? Surely not! (and anyway, it's the wrong time of year for Mardi Gras). Was it some bizarrely obscure reference to the grand final? So she texted him back to ask what he meant. Next thing, her phone rang, and it was said friend killing himself laughing on the other end.

"When I sent that SMS I was a bit tired, and didn't check it properly... I meant to say HAY fever".

They both nearly wet themselves laughing so hard at the rather amusing mistake (and needless to say, they have both gotten considerable mileage out of it ever since :-)

Ahh... ya really gotta love predictive text on mobile phone messaging :-)

And now I am off to take some Telfast, because like Jenny's friend, I am also currently in the grip of gay fever :-)

UCA Synod meeting 1

From last Sunday evening till Wed afternoon, I attended the meeting of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, held at the Bundoora Campus of La Trobe University.

It was great to catch up with various friends, from Tassie, and other parts of Victoria, but more than this, it was good just to be the church together.

There were numerous items of business discussed, the ex-Moderator, Sue Gormann, gave a rip roaring "Ex-Moderator's Address" (most of the details of the decisions made and text of significant addresses can be found on the Synod website).

One item that was quite significant for me, was the plight of our rural congregations. There is a desperate shortage of ordained ministers in many rural areas, a problem which is exacerbated by the fact that there are fewer new candidates coming through the Theological College, and many of the current candidates tend to be older, and have partners in relatively senior jobs, and so need to be located in ministry placements that can also take into account the career needs of ministers' partners, and schooling needs of children. Sadly, this rules out rural and remote placements for many ministers, even the newbies.

After attending the Rural Ministry Conference earlier this year, I was awakened to the needs and possibilities of rural ministry. It was great to meet the people, hear their stories, and get some idea of what life is like for them. In many places where there aren't ordained ministers, the church's ministry is undertaken by lay ministry teams. However, according to one rural minister, this lay ministry team structure is not really working. This isn't because of any lack of skill or commitment on the part of the lay leaders, but the fact that they also have employment, families and other commitments, and so tend to run themselves ragged also taking on leadership roles in the church.

Another person from a rural congregation emphasised to me the importance of having a well-trained, ordained minister who is an 'outsider' to the community. He said that someone from outside can get alongside the people in the community where they are ministering, and get to understand the things the people are experiencing, but being an outsider can help the ministers to be a better advocate for the people they serve, as they can speak out for justice, or cry for assistance (esp in these times of terrible drought) without being accused of self-interest.

Last summer there were some very serious bushfires around Stawell, in the Grampians. Almost a year later, things are still not looking up for the people in that area. Many of them are farmers, and lost almost their entire livelihood in the fires. This season, many borrowed money so they could buy seed to plant crops. Because of the terrible drought, there is not enough water to keep the wheat healthy... last week, there were three days of savage winds, which almost completely wiped out the wheat crop in the Grampians (because of the dry conditions, the roots were fairly shallow, and the wind just decimated the crop). In the Goulburn Valley, there was a big frost last week, which wiped out much of the fruit crops. And so it goes on. Livestock has to be sold off (usually for poor return) because there is no grass, and no water to grow feed lots for them, as some farmers did last year.

But in all of this, the church goes on. In Stawell, the minister there is amazed at the spirit shown by members of her congregation, who, despite losing everything, are keen to keep going, and look for hope and healing in it all.

When I hear stories like this, and realise that as a single person, I have no encumbrances of children or partner, and so am free to go wherever God sends me once I complete my training, I can't help but think it would be irresponsible of me not to seriously consider seeking a rural placement when I exit theological college. As much as I have always been a 'city girl', I have to take seriously the possibility of becoming a rural minister.

In recognition of the seriousness of the needs for ministry in rural areas, the Synod approved a recommendation for the Moderator to call a summit, to get together the key players from the rural presbyteries, the theological college, placements committee etc, to talk about strategies to address this issue.

I hope they come up with some creative solutions.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cheer, cheer the red and the white!

After a Stunning defeat of the Fremantle Dockers last night, the Swannies have pushed forward into next weekend's Grand Final! For the second year in a row! Yay team! (my mother is very proud).

So the Grand Final will now be an all bird affair, with the Swans defending their premiership against either the Crows or the Eagles... either way, the feathers will certainly fly! :-)

I haven't yet called Mum to see how she is coping with the great news of the Swannie's win last night, but I imagine she will be looking something like this picture, which was taken of her during the finals last year.

Cheer, cheer the red and the white,
Honour the name by day and by night,
Lift that noble banner high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky
Whether the odds be great or small,
Swans will go in and win overall
While her loyal sons are marching
Onwards to victory

Friday, September 22, 2006

Avoidance, displacement, call it what you will

One of the things I remember from all of my previous incarnations as a student is how clean and tidy my house/bedroom tend to be when I have exams or assignment deadlines coming up.

Some things never change.

I am currently on a 'mid semester break'. I have two essays due in the first week back, and a third due the following week. Right now I should be head down, bum up working on my Mark essay (due on the Monday of the first week back), so that I can then start work on my Theological Issues essay (due on the Friday of that week), and then get stuck into my Ruth essay (due the Wed of the following week, although this deadline is elastic, and could stretch to the following week).

But what am I doing? Sitting here writing in my blog. And what did I spend an hour or so doing yesterday? Cleaning up my front courtyard ... sweeping up all the fallen leaves, twigs, bits of bark and other crap that has fallen from the trees into my yard, making the path to my door rather 'crunchy'. (And of course because last night we had high winds, which have continued throughout today, the yard now looks as if I never did anything to it, as there are heaps more leaves, twigs and crunchy bits everywhere.)

And I haven't really made a lot of progress on my Mark essay.

Tomorrow night, I have some friends coming for dinner, so that will require me to do at least a cursory tidy up of the living room, so that my flat looks presentable for visitors... although I have decided on a roast for dinner, so that will be fairly easy and won't require a huge amount of preparation time.

What is it about things we have to do that create such a mental block to actually doing them? I love to write, and can churn out thousands of reasonably articulate words on just about any topic without a great deal of effort... but when it comes to writing an essay or assignment for my studies, no matter how much I enjoy the subject, or how much I am excited by the essay topic, it is such a hard slog to discipline myself to sit down, and actually write the damn thing.

Of course, once I get over that barrier, I then have trouble limiting myself to the word limit (at this stage most of my essays have a max 2000 word limit). Most of you familiar with my writing will recognise that I'm just starting to warm up after 2000 words... so I find it devillishly difficult to express all I want to say in so few words.

A friend of mine (another ministry candidate, who tends to average High Distinction grades, thus leaving me behind a bit academically) was opining recently that he seems to have the opposite problem to me when it comes to writing essays. He writes very concisely and deliberately, and the words don't flow easily, so he finds it very hard to wring out all the words needed to achieve the word limit. Maybe I need to read some of his past essays (esp the ones that get really high grades) to see how he manages to be so concise, and maybe learn from his strategies and techniques.

But saying that isn't getting my current essay written... I think I need to get back into it... but will just make a quick coffee first :-)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A letter from Bethany

Today I received a letter from Bethany (aged 10... or maybe 11 now... she's probably had a birthday since the last time I saw her).

It was a lovely surprise to receive a colourful and artistic letter with lots of cool stickers all over it, and lots of hugs and kisses from Bethany amid the news from her and her family.

It made me smile.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arrrrrr, me hearties

Today is international Talk Like a Pirate Day

(of course you knew that, didn't you? :-)

For a bit of diversion:

My pirate name is:
Dirty Mary Rackham
You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Cool, huh? :-)
(and just ignore the fact that the text above is a bit skewy... something to do with the dodgy code from the piratequiz site, and I'm not an HTML guru, so you'll just have to be a tough little pirate and deal with it...)


Monday, September 18, 2006

Cluck, cluck cluck!

I had an SMS from my friend Amy yesterday, raving (as only a proud, first-time Mum could!) about the gorgeousness of her lovely little baby Ezra .... I am still waiting for photos so I can cluck and drool over his cuteness for myself.

In other news, Epa, my next-door neighbour, informed me at church yesterday, that after her scan last week, they now know that the baby she is due to deliver in about a month will be a boy! And there was great rejoicing in the land! Epa and Samasoni already have 3 girls and a boy, and so I think that Samasoni and young Nait are relieved that they will soon be joined by another male, thus almost evening up the gender balance of the family.

So with only a month to go (officially), everything's looking good, and it's all systems go - the baby could really arrive at any time now. I am holding my breath with excited anticipation, waiting for that phone call in the middle of the night from Samasoni, saying, "the baby's coming- get over here to mind the kids, we're off to the hospital!"

Can't wait!!! :-)

The Tassie invasion!

It seems there are quite a few Taswegians making the trip across Bass Strait to visit The Colonies in the next little while.

First, there was my friend Mike, who stayed with me for a few days a fortnight ago. Next weekend, I will be hosting Wendy, another friend (this time from Hobart) who is coming over for the annual meeting of the Synod of Victoria & Tasmania. There will also be a host of other Taswegians around for that meeting too.

Then in the following week, a couple from my church in Hobart (Will and Rosemary) will be in Melb for a few days, en route home from Canberra where they will be visiting their daughter, son-in-law and celebrating the first birthday of a grandchild. After that, another friend (Jenny) will be doing some retail therapy in Melb, on the way home from a conference in Sydney. (these will be catch ups over coffee/meal, as these friends won't be staying at Chez Caro)

Then in November, my good friend Anita will be coming to stay with me for a few days, which will be fun. All of my study commitments, exams, assignments etc will be done for the year by then, so we will be able to have some girly fun together, before I head to Tassie myself for my 8 week summer field education placement.

I think there might even be another visit from Mike (maybe even with his wife Fran this time) before the end of the year, so that would be nice.

I am so grateful for the lovely unit where I live- so convenient and close to College, and the city, and big enough that I can have visitors come and stay, and offer hospitality in that way. I'm loving it! :-)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The importance of intimacy

We all need at least one person in our lives who tells us we are amazing on a regular basis. I am blessed to have at least 3-4 such people in my life.

I don't mean this in a vain or sycophantic way, but I think that to have someone who knows me deeply, who has travelled with me when I have been through hard times, who knows my weaknesses and my strengths, and sees my blindspots (the bits that I don't see) and is willing to give me honest, loving (and sometimes brutal) feedback- that is truly a gift from God.

My friend Mike, who lives in Tasmania, is one such person. I have known him since I was about 18 ("only a few years then," I hear some of you say! :-) and he is an incredibly perceptive person. We worked together for a while when I was in Sydney (he was my boss) and we have kept in touch over the years.

Something that I have struggled with over the years has been my self concept, or self esteem (I know... boring... everyone seems to have issues of this kind!), and I remember one conversation I had with Mike a few years ago... I reported to him something that someone else had said to me : a compliment about some aspect of my character... and his response was, "and do you believe that yet?"

I was reminded of this incident recently, when I observed the need for me to say the same kind of thing to someone else. My friend Mike happened to be in town, and staying at my place, so I decided to invite some of my newer Melbourne friends around for a dinner party, so it was a 'new friends meet old' kind of thing.

After the dinner party, Mike made some positive comments to me about one of my new friends, and I reported this positive feedback to said new friend the next day. He seemed kind of embarrassed, and muttered something like "obviously doesn't know me very well".

It occurred to me that this friend may need someone to challenge him with the question: "When people say nice things to/about you, do you actually believe them?"- in the same way that Mike did to me some years ago. (I suspect this may need to be my primary task next time I share a bottle of red with said friend).

As I said before, I feel very blessed to have a number of close friends who I know I can trust, who know me and love me, warts and all. This has helped me immensely in my journey to actually believe that I am a child of God, and loved and lovable.

I think the time has come and God is calling me to be that kind of friend to others, to love them and give them loving feedback and encouragement as they are also on this journey.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

La la LA la, la la LA la, la la laaa laaa laaaaaah

Welcome to LAAA LAAA week.

This week the Melbourne Chorale is singing in 3 performances of Walton's incidental music for the soundtrack of the film of Henry V, as part of an MSO Master Series concert.

The piece runs for just under an hour, during which we:

* sing words for about 5 mins
* sing laaaa laaaa laaas and aaah aaah aaahs for about 15 mins, and
* sit, trying to look glamorous (and not fall asleep) for about half an hour

All in all, it's been a hard week.. even though the Walton is not exactly rocket science (quite a contrast to the Rachmaninov Vespers which we are rehearsing for a concert in November), but we have had rehearsals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with performances tonight (Thurs), Friday and Sat nights.

Tonight's performance was broadcast live on ABC Classic FM. (And it's one down, two to go :-)

I think by Sunday I will be ready for a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The gold fish bowl experience

This weekend, the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania is holding its selection conference for ordained ministries. This means that about a dozen or so hopeful applicants (who have already been through a fairly rigorous process of discernment to get to this point) will be facing a selection panel, who together will discern whether there is a calling to the ordained ministries within the Uniting Church for these people.

It's hard to believe that it's a whole year since I went through the same process. For me it was quite a surreal experience. Being the only Tasmanian applicant brought its own interesting aspects to the process, but for all of us applicants it was hard work.

First, on arrival on Friday night, there was an informal 'meet and greet' as all the applicants got to have supper with the members of the panel and chat informally.

Rule no.1 (according to a minster friend of mine) is that NOTHING at Selection Conference is informal or off the record. You can guarantee that the panel members are watching your every move, and may refer to that casual, throw-away comment made over coffee in one of your interviews.

I found it rather disconcerting that I was greeted by a man I had never met before with "Hello, you must be Caro, I recognised you from your photo," and the conversation continued in a rather weighted manner, as it became obvious that he knew just about everything about me (which of course, as a member of the panel, he would, after reading all the paper warfare of my application documents and references etc) and I knew nothing about him. It totally perverted the usual ritual of meeting people for the first time, where both parties usually swap little tidbits about themselves, in a process which gradually moves the level of disclosure from the superficial and 'public domain' to more intimate details of how you think, feel etc. As I said, I found this cutting across the usual social rituals to be rather disconcerting.

Then came a group activity (have I mentioned how much I LOVE group activities -not-?) Hmph.

Then the Saturday was spent in interviews: each applicant had two interviews, with two panel members on each occasion. The first was on the topic of vocation and calling, and the second on academic and personal support issues.

Rule no. 2 (also from the same minister friend) If you are asked at interview what you would do if the selection panel recommends you not be accepted as a candidate, the only right answer is to say: "well, I guess that means you'll see me again next year, as I am so convinced in my sense of calling to this ministry". The important thing is to convey a sense of confidence in one's calling, without being arrogant and treating the process like a fait accompli.

We were also warned that when not participating in formal interviews, all applicants were requested (required) to hang out in the common room, to enable 'informal conversations' with other panel members over coffee (refer Rule no.1).

There was also another group activity on the Saturday (oh joy!)... but these were not just normal group activities... the applicants (there were 7 of us last year) sat in an 'inner circle' of chairs to discuss the task we had to do, whilst the members of the panel all hovered in the background; watching, listening, taking notes... serious goldfish bowl stuff!

At one level the process was quite intimidating (even though all the members of the panel were really nice, and tried to put us at our ease as much as possible), but as one of the current candidates (a few of whom were present at the weekend) said to me, it was pretty awesome to think that all of these people were prayerfully participating in the process of discernment about the next step in my life and ministry. Quite a privilege, really.

One thing about the selection conference weekend that is different this year, is that current candidates have not been asked to be present to chat with applicants and provide some information about what life is like at theological college. And with so many applicants this year, which will presumably mean that the selection panel is also slightly larger than last year, it will probably be less crowded or confusing to the process to not have those extra people (current candidates) around.

So for me, that means that the only way to support the process (and the applicants!) is to be praying for them this weekend (and for the panel members in their deliberations tonight and tomorrow).

May God be with them all!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Something cute for bloggers

I came across this link in Louise's blog, and thought I would do the quiz to see what kind of a blogger I am.

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.

Cute, eh? :-)

Monday, September 04, 2006

... and you wonder why I am a cat person?

I stole this little gem from my friend Louise's blog, (and she in turn received it via email from one of her contacts). It was so good, I had to pass it on.

A pet's thoughts:

7 am - Oh boy! A walk! My favorite!

8 am - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!

9 am - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!

Noon - Oh boy! The yard! My favorite!

2 pm - Oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!

3 pm - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!

4 pm - Oh boy! Playing ball! My favorite!

6 pm - Oh boy! Welcome home, Mom! My favorite!

7 pm- Oh boy! Welcome home, Dad! My favorite!

8 pm- Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!

9 pm - Oh boy! Tummy rubs on the couch! My favorite!

11 pm - Oh boy! Sleeping in my people's bed! My favorite!


Day 183 of my captivity. My captors continued to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal.

The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape,and the mild satisfaction I get from clawing the furniture.Tomorrow I may eat another house plant.

Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded - must try this at the top of the stairs.

In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair - must try this on their bed.

Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear in their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was.

Hmmmm, not working according to plan. There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food.

More important, I overheard that my confinement was due to my powers of inducing "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches.

The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait; it is only a matter of time.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I must have died and gone to heaven...

... or so it seemed when I walked into the Gelobar in Lygon St East Brunswick tonight.

My friend Lisa from Canberra was in Melb this week for work, and she rang me to catch up, suggesting we meet at the Gelobar for coffee and/or dinner tonight. Well, that's where we met, but decided we did actually need something savoury before the sweet, so wandered up the road to a rather unremarkable looking Indian restaurant where we had some amazing food (cheap too) before heading back to the Gelobar for ice cream and coffee.

I have to say that my head swam as I looked at not only the incredible range of ice cream and gelati flavours on offer, but also the various cakes, tarts, biscuits and other gorgeous things ... as I said, it was like I had died and gone to heaven (and man! what a way to go! :-)

After Lisa and I had enjoyed some ice cream (I had lemon and blood orange gelati) and coffee, we exited, full and happy, and as I walked out the door, I invoked the words of a famous actor, "I'll be baaaaack!" :-)

Post script: After I had seen Lisa onto her tram to head to her city hotel, I wandered across Lygon St, and found a 24 hour florist, and couldn't resist buying a small bunch of jonquils to brighten up my flat...

*sigh* spring has indeed sprung... and have I mentioned that I am enjoying living in Melbourne? :-)


The play I went to see with Helen last night was called Festen, by David Eldridge (the play was apparently an adaptation from a cult Danish film). The cast was a bit of a who's who... with John Stanton playing the role of the father, Helge, whose 60th birthday celebration formed the backdrop for the play. Julia Blake was his wife. Jason Donovan played Christian, the son, who dropped a bombshell on the evening. Other cast I recognised were Ditch Davey (from Blue Heelers), Kym Gyngell (most infamous for his Col'n Carp'nter character), and there were a few other faces I recognised, but as I was too stingy to buy a program, I can't recall their names.

The play was fairly confronting, both in its content and portrayal -not the least because I think I had exceeded my daily quota of "f*ck"s after the first 5 mins- (although Helen told me that apparently in Danish there are 2 very strong and nassssty swear words that could possibly have been alternated in the original, thus resulting in a slightly less tedious portrayal of anger and violence, but in translating the play to English, the only swear word of adequate potency that would have fit was "f*ck").

The main characters were fantastic (John, Julia and Jase... hey, the three "J"s! :-) and of course Kym Gyngell's character was greatly amusing and beautifully played...

Overall, I enjoyed the play, although I did agree with Helen that in a few places, the writing left a little to be desired, and that as with the overuse of the "F" word, they had also overdone the use of loudness and shouting to portray violence between some of the characters.

It was great to get out to some live theatre again- it seems like ages since I last went to a play- so that was great...

Roll on Melbourne Festival! :-)

Did I mention that I am enjoying living in Melbourne? :-)

I like Melbun!

Last night, I went to see a play at the Arts Centre (more about that later) with my friend Helen.

We met for dinner at Chocolate Buddha (a Japanese restaurant in Federation Square) and as we sat eating, with a spectacular view out of the huge plate glass windows, of the Melbourne skyline: tall buildings, city lights etc... it occurred to me that I really DO like Melbourne.

Maybe it's just that spring has sprung, and the weather is getting milder (so an evening stroll through Fed Square and along St Kilda Rd was quite pleasant), but I have to admit, that as much as I still do adore my beloved Hobart, I DO enjoy the big city feel of Melbourne (and the public transport system is so good- I love the trams! :-)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Today I resigned from my job

That's not actually as dramatic a thing as it may sound.

When I moved to Melbourne to commence my training as a ministerial candidate, I took 12 months leave without pay from my job in Hobart, with the undertaking that I would indicate to my boss in December whether I would be returning or resigning at the end of the 12 months' leave.

Some people may say this indicates a lack of faith in my calling (after all, if I was so definite, why didn't I just resign outright, rather than keeping this 'safety net'?) I guess it was part of my cautious upbringing to want to keep my options open (or more to the point, demonstrate to my parents that I was doing this), but also a recognition that even after the rigorous discernment process I had been through to get to the point of being accepted as a candidate, we still might have gotten it wrong, and theological college in Melbourne might not be the right thing for me.

However you want to look at it, my status (as far as my workplace has been concerned) this year has been that of an employee, on extended leave. However, I received a call from my boss the other day, saying that the person who had been employed for the 12mth period of my leave had resigned, and so she was keen to suss out where I was at regarding my plans for next year, in the hope that if I wasn't planning to return to work, she could advertise the position as a more long-term option than just 5 months.

Despite the very logical and understandable circumstances, it was still a bit weird to get a phone call from my boss, effectively asking me to resign.

However, because after my time here so far, I am certain that I will be here in Melbourne for the duration, and won't be going back to work in Hobart, I was happy to be flexible and offer my resignation -of course, after negotiating a 'no disadvantage' clause relating to my payouts and entitlements upon resignation (BB, my union official mate, would be proud! :-)

So, after nearly 8 years working for that organisation, I am now officially no longer employed there. Another milestone in my life....

I'm an aunty! (well, kind of)

What a way to start the day!

When I woke up this morning, there was a text message on my phone from Craig (a dear friend from my early days in Hobart, who now lives in Poatina, and shall henceforth be known as "Grampa") to say that his daughter Amy delivered her first child last night at 10:50pm (this is also Craig and Janet's first grandchild, although number 2, courtesy of Matt and Nat, is due to arrive in Dec).

Baby Ezra came into the world after a hard 18hr labour, and is apparently a big boy (although Grampa was not forthcoming with any further detail about weight, length, head circumference etc- what is it with men who don't realise that such statistics are of VITAL IMPORTANCE!!!??? :-) He did say that all parties are well and happy, though :-)

When I first moved to Hobart I lived in community with the family, and at that time Amy was a gorgeous little 4-year-old … she is still gorgeous, but no longer 4 (funnily enough). I was privileged to help lead her and Troy's wedding service earlier this year… and now I will have to wait until I get to Tas in December before I can get clucky over young Ezra in person.

Praise God for the gift of this new life! :-)

Postscript: I received a text message from Amy herself on Friday, with more detail- Baby Ezra (middle name yet to be confirmed) weighed in at a hefty 9lb 5oz. (Ouchie! Just thinking about it makes me want to cross my legs!)
Congratulations Amy and Troy (and well done Amy! :-)

Monday, August 21, 2006

... of Boxes and Black Holes

Today, in a fit of, well something, I decided to attack the last few boxes in my study yet to be unpacked since my move to Brunswick from Kew.

I actually had a couple of ulterior motives:

1. Some friends who are about to move to Canberra are calling in tonight, and I promised to give them some of my empty boxes. I also have another friend moving to the UK in a few weeks, and in a stroke of sheer genius also offered him some boxes, which he is coming to collect on Wednesday.

so hopefully soon my home will be a completely BOX-FREE ZONE! Yay!

2. I ran out of staples in my larger stapler the other day, and was sure I had a box of large staples from which to refill it, but couldn't find these in my desk drawer... hmmm... maybe they are in a box still to be unpacked?

3. In a similar vein, recently I was seeking my larger capacity USB drive (which just happens to contain a backup of my computer's entire hard drive- as opposed to the smaller capacity USB drive that I have on my keyring, which only contains the backup of my uni work), so that I could update the back-up and have a general sense of security in knowing where it is. (Yes, I know... call me a Geek Grrrl, but I do like to back things up!) I know when I packed up to move, I put it in a SAFE PLACE where I would be sure to find it later... Hah!

Well, after unpacking all of the boxes upstairs (I think there is still one box downstairs that needs a little attention) I have not been able to find the staples or the USB drive (the staples, I don't mind so much, as I do have a smaller stapler, and Millions of staples that fit that... and anyway, any excuse for a trip to Officeworks! :-), but the USB drive is a different matter altogether.

I can see that I will need to very carefully retrace my steps and repeat previous searches... even more thoroughly this time... Oh well, at least the unpacking and searching did unearth my church offering envelopes which I hadn't been able to find since moving...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Spring has sprung...

... or so it feels. Today, for the first time in quite a while I ventured forth from home wearing a pair of cropped jeans and a polo shirt with only a cardigan over the top (yes ma... no coat!!) A beautiful sunny day, and a perfect day for the Melbourne Uni open day (which was probably called something else officially, but that's effectively what it was).

After being very virtuous, by doing the World Vision 40 Hour Famine this weekend (and suffering a crashing headache last night- I suspect as a result of caffeine withdrawal) I ventured out to 'wave the flag' for the good old MCD (Melbourne College of Divinity) to help out for a while on the MCD's display at the Melbourne Uni open day. In the brief time I was there, I had the chance to chat with a number of potential students about the values of studying theology, especially in a fantastically ecumenical place like the United Faculty of Theology (which is one of the affiliated teaching institutes of the MCD).

One conversation was with a girl who asked if it was ok for atheists to study theology. I pointed out to her that one of my fellow students in a class last semester would have called himself a 'secular communist', and whilst that may or may not equate to 'atheist', it meant that you certainly could study theology without necessarily identifying as 'Christian'. She said that she often gets into debates about religion with her friends, and we both agreed that on such occasions, it can be a good thing to argue from a position of knowledge rather than ignorance. Because of the relationship between Melbourne Uni and the MCD,it means that students doing an Arts degree can select up to 4 theology subjects from the MCD as part of their Arts degree, so I suggested that she might want to think about doing a theology subject just to dip her toe in the water and see what she thought.

After my time there, I ran up the campus (after getting slightly lost amongst the ditherati... do you ever have that experience, when you exit a building from a different door, and then wonder where on earth you are? and of course, with my world famous geographical challengedness, it took me a little while to figure out which way was 'up'- ie towards Queen's college- from the back door of the Old Arts building), and eventually got to Queen's chapel in time for choir practice.

This was my second week singing with the Queen's choir, and I am enjoying the style of music, and no-nonsense preparation... and I may even start to get used to reading the harmony line in the hymn book, where the music is so far away from the words of the verses (if you've ever tried to sight-read the music of a hymn and sing the words at the same time, you'll understand what I mean when I talk about going cross-eyed in the process!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Conflict resolution

Today the Theological College organised a conflict resolution and mediation worshop for candidates and faculty, after a request for assistance from some past candidates for some training or assistance in dealing with difficult people and situations that they have encountered in the big bad world of 'real life parish ministry'.

The workshop was quite helpful, offering some processes for getting to the bottom of conflicts and finding ways to resolution (surprisingly enough).

When I got home, there was an email from my friend Simon (who is a fellow junk TV tragic), with a link to a site containing a collection of Star Trek Inspirational Posters. He said he is planning to put some of them up around his office. He is truly a sick puppy (which is why I think I like him so much :-).

Hmm.. I tried to post a pic of one in particular that caught my attention as being relevant (in a perverse kind of way), but the blog won't let me post it for some bizarre reason... so, go here to see the whole collection of posters, and the one to specially look at is called Diplomacy on the third page.
(grrr... gee I hate technology sometimes!)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Life's too short ...

... to drink instant coffee

This is my philosophy, and I'm sticking to it. Call me a coffee snob if you will, but when you drink as much coffee as I do (who? me? an addict? I can give it up any time!!) you really don't want to waste your time or tastebuds on the floor sweepings that are usually passed off as instant coffee.

For quite a long time I have consumed only plunger coffee at home, and the only instant coffee I have in the house is the jar of Nescafe I bought when my parents came to visit about 3 years ago, because my Dad prefers the pretend stuff to the real stuff. (I think it is all solidified and even more disgusting now than when I bought it).

I have a friend in Tassie who is quite earnest in his quest for a good cup of coffee. He can't drink a lot of coffee, because too much gives him migraines, so he is determined that what he DOES drink will be good. He has been singing the praises of his little stove-top espresso machine (picked up for a bargain price). And of course, he has to grind his own (with a hand grinder... none of this electric business!).

He has been suggesting to me for quite some time (actually, ever since he stayed at my place on a visit to Melb a few months ago) that I should lash out and get a stove top device... "the coffee is so much better than with a plunger" he says.

Well, yesterday, I was tempted. I suspect that my capacity for critical appraisal was minimised due to the high I was on after my session with my Spiritual Director. I had a coffee in my favourite Kew cafe, and en route to the rather nice gourmet supermarket (just for a browse, mind you!) I happened to wander, absent-mindedly, into the little homewares shop between the two.

And there I saw it:
A gleaming metal stove-top espresso machine... going cheap... virtually screaming at me to buy it! (ooh! shiny!)
Of course, I did the responsible thing, and (considering that I already have 3 plungers and a dripolator) told the sales woman that I needed to think seriously about whether I really needed it... knowing full well that after my excursion to the supermarket, I would be back there like a shot to buy the gizmo. (sigh... I am so predictable!)

After getting it home and putting it though its paces (just a few times since yesterday afternoon), I think I agree with Mike, that the coffee does in fact taste better. One consolation is that it certainly makes the coffee stronger, so that means to get my desired strength, I don't need to use as much coffee as I do in the plunger...

Can I use that as justification? The stove top machine will really save me money, because I don't use as much coffee- it will pay for itself in no time!

Oh well, perhaps if I repeat that mantra often enough, I'll start to believe it :-)

This now creates a bit of a dilemma. I have another friend who is quite a tea buff, and has embarked upon a project to attempt to educate me in the art of tea appreciation. I think he suspected from the start that he would have his work cut out for him with such a hardcore coffee head as myself... but now the degree of difficulty of his task has just increased. I hope he's up to the challenge! :-)