Friday, November 14, 2008

The last few days...

Earlier this week, Mum and I took a trip to Myrtleford, where we stayed at the very lovely Myrtle Creek Farmstay cottages, (owned by a couple from the Myrtleford congregation), and spent a couple of days exploring the local area around Myrtleford, Beechworth and Yackandandah, so Mum could get an idea of where I will be living and working next year.

The locals put on a couple of "meet the new minister" events, a dinner at Myrtleford and a lunch at Beechworth, and it was great to meet some of the other folks from the congregations (after having only previously met a few people who were on the Joint Nominating Committee). The fplk at Myrtleford apparently spent a lot of time convincing Mum that they will look after me when I move up there (but hey, isn't it my job as their minister, to look after them?!) and she was very impressed with how nice and welcoming everyone was.

We ate lots (well, you know, country hospitality, I couldn't very well be a diet nazi in the face of such hospitality) and I even allowed myself to sample the wares of the Beechworth Bakery when we were wombling around town, doing a bit of retail therapy.

So, I can really relate to this cute pic from the I can haz Cheezburger website, which obviously understands my recent diet dilemmas :-)

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Monday, November 10, 2008

A brief update... as shared with some via email

The end of the academic year has arrived, and I have almost finished all of the requirements of my degree and formal “core training” for the ministry. This update will therefore be quick, and only in Executive Summary form, as life is still busy. Once I am officially on holidays, I will wax more lyrical and verbose :-)

Executive Summary

* Study stuff -Although the UFT semester has officially finished, I still have 4 more assessment tasks to complete. These are two pieces from the current semester, for which I have a Dean’s extension until next Monday: a creative assignment for my Genesis class, and a report and theological critique on an interview I conducted with a hospital chaplain for my Pastoral Care & Ritual class. The other two essays are for a reading unit on Trinitarian Theology, which was extended from first semester into a summer reading unit, and these will hopefully be off my plate by Christmas. The last week of the official semester (ie, last week) was very busy and stressful, but I survived it and managed to get everything done (miracles DO happen!).

* Valedictory! – Last Friday was the Uniting Church Theological College Valedictory, where the college community celebrates the end of the academic year, and sends out the students who are exiting for the year. We had a service of worship, which was a lovely celebration, in which all three of us who were exiting (the Three Wise Women) took part, and received a crackingly good sermon from Robert Gribben, who is also leaving the college when he retires at the end of the year. In the past two years, this has become a significant event in the life of the college, with invitations to various representatives from the Synod and Presbyteries, as well as family and friends of the college community.

Mum came down for the occasion, and is staying with me for a week. After the worship, we had the Valedictory Dinner, which was great. The food was good, the company great, and our fellow candidates in lower years prepared a great program of fun and farewell (including a reading of a very profound, but little known theology text, by Dr Seuss- and the valedictorians were presented with copies of this book!), so that we came away from the night feeling well sent out with love and prayer. It's so hard to believe that this is it!!!

* This week – Mum is being very patient, as I need to spend a fair bit of time working on assignments, but tomorrow we are heading to Myrtleford for a couple of days in the area of Myrtleford and Beechworth, and the local congregations there are arranging a couple of “meet the new minister” events, so I’m looking forward to meeting some of the folk I will be working with from March, and traipsing around the area with Mum, so she can get an idea of where I'll be living and working.

* Holidays! – I have mentioned in previous emails my plans for various trips around the place, to Perth & New Norcia, Sydney for Christmas, and Tas in Feb, so won’t go into detail, except to say that in early Oct I received the sad news of the death of the Abbot of New Norcia, Fr Placid Spearrit. Placid’s death was quite unexpected, and came as quite a shock to the community of New Norcia, and all the friends of New Norcia around the country. A small group of people who have connections with New Norcia gathered in Melbourne for a memorial service a week or so ago, and I was glad to be able to attend that, and look forward to catching up with the monks in New Norcia when I’m there next month. It’s a weird thing, to think of New Norcia without Placid, who was a huge force for positive change during his time as superior of the community there, and I will always regard him as a great role model of the kind of servant leadership I hope to practise in my own ministry.

* Hospitality and visitors - There have been a few people from Tassie passing through Melbourne recently, and it’s been great to catch up with them-especially at times when I was feeling overwhelmed and busy, it was great to be able to take a little time out for a coffee (decaf, of course!) which helped me to focus a bit better when I got back into the work.

* Health - I finally got around to pinning down my GP to examine my knee, and she has ordered x-rays, and plans to refer me to an orthopod to get it checked out properly… not sure what this will mean, maybe surgery, will have to wait and see… and speaking of ‘wait’ (or ‘weight’ :-) I am still beavering away on my diet, and have now lost just under 15kg, and there is a distinctly noticeable difference in how I look, which stunned Mum when she arrived, and various people at the Valedictory who hadn’t seen me for a while also commented. So I am feeling good, even amid the stress and busyness of the pointy end of semester.

Roll on holidays! :-)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

I haven't blogged for a while because I have been (and continue to be) squished under the weight of assignments, exams and other academic pursuits that I need to deal with before I can be FREE!

But I had to have a whinge today, as I was up late last night working on an assignment that was due in today, and after dragging myself out of bed, still sleep-deprived, to put the finishing touches on said assignment, and then print it out to submit, disaster struck.

What is it about computers and photocopiers that they seem to have a sixth sense, and can tell when you are stressed, and working to a deadline, and so pick the most awkward moment to spit the dummy? Today as I was printing out the numerous and varied components of this particular assignment, trying to be very systematic and not forget to print any of the parts ... about 2/3 of the way through, the printer apparently ran out of ink.

No problemo, as I whipped out my trusty cartridge refill kit, and proceeded to top up the black cartridge...

Yes problemo, as the wretched thing still wouldn't print... I tried every trick in the book to get it to work: realigned the cartridges, did a maintenance cleaning cycle, even administered mouth to mouth on the cartridge (to blow the ink down, to get it flowing again)... all to no avail!

So, about to lose it, I decided to take desperate measures, and ran out to the car, drove to Officeworks and BOUGHT a new cartridge. Thankfully, this fixed the whole printer issue, so the printer was able to resume printing where I left off... until...

One particular document just wouldn't open to be printed, and of course, this was the main overview of the whole project, so I couldn't get away without it. Somehow in the process of transferring it from my laptop (which is a better, faster computer that I use downstairs to do all the work on) via USB drive to the desktop computer (which is slower, clunkier, but attached to the internet and printer, upstairs), something weird happened, and it wouldn't open. And as if that wasn't enough, for some reason I had lost a significant chunk from the document on the laptop, which I then had to quickly try to recreate (grrrr), and then after a few unsuccessful attempts, had to find another USB drive and transfer it on that, which thankfully worked...

But all this mucking around meant that I wasted a good hour or more that I really can't afford (and heaven knows how my blood pressure fared in the process)... oh well, at least that assignment is now all printed out and submitted... One down... 4 more to go (including two essays, a written exam and an oral assessment) ... all by Friday.

So Friday, being the day of our College Valedictory celebrations, is definitely going to be a royal Stuff the Diet Day*, and I think I really will need to drink a lot of alcohol at the Valedictory dinner, to celebrate the almost-end of all this study, and surviving to the end of this week!

*and for anyone wanting an update on the diet, I've now lost about 14kg... which is a bit over 2 stone in Imperial