Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Adventure!

Winter is here, and its cold in Canberra. Very cold. Most of the Autumn colour is gone from the trees (except the English oaks in the next street, which are refusing to acknowledge the nightly sub-zero temperatures).

I am excited that its winter, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because the Ski Season starts this weekend (and there is actually enough snow at the resorts for them to open). Soon, husband man and I will be doing the regular commute to the ski fields every Sunday that we can.

Secondly, I'm excited because I'm on winter break from Uni. Semester two does not start till August, and assuming that I passed my final essay and exam, I'm a quarter of my way through my masters!

And finally, I'm excited that its winter because I am escaping to the northern hemisphere!

That's right, at the end of this month I will be exchanging cold Canberra for the Lake District and Scotland!
Now, it may not be much warmer and there is likely to be plenty of rain (1 in every 3 days is a rainy one) but its going to be such a great adventure. Husband man and I will be taking our Greenspeed recumbent trikes and cycling 500 kms, from Whitehaven on the West Coast, through the northern end of the Lakes, across the "Rooftop of England" to Tynemouth on the East Coast. We'll be dipping our wheels in the Irish Sea at the start and the North Sea at the end.

At Tynemouth we turn North, and ride up to Edinburgh, where we stay for a couple of days.
We'll be following the Coast and Castles route through the old border region between Scotland and England.

After the cycle tour, Husband man has a conference at Warwick university. On the way from Edinburgh to Warwick we are going to stay at Windemere, which is a place of significance for anyone who has read Authur Ransome's Swallows and Amazon books.

So a super adventure coming up, a mixture of castles, beautiful scenery and a wild variety of accented English. Will try and keep this blog updated!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day '09...and the power goes out!

This morning I slept in accidentally. Well, it wasn't a complete accident. My alarm went off as scheduled at 7:30am, and I reached out and hit the snooze button.

Ten minutes later it went off again, and again I hit the snooze button.

Ten minutes later I hit the snooze button again.

Ten minutes later, I opened my eyes a bit more and hit 'dismiss alarm'.

My next cogent thought was looking at my watch and realising it was 10am.

This was a little annoying, but I'd enjoyed the extra sleep.

I started my morning routine. Washing my face and waking up and walked into the study to check my email. It was then that I noticed the quiet and the cold. My laptop was displaying an alert that it was on low battery and there were no lights on the modem.

The power was out. This was annoying, I had things I needed to do that required the use of power.

And then I remembered. I had received a letter about this power cut weeks ago. I found the letter and read that "power will be cut between 8:15am and 3:15pm on Thursday the 15th of October".

I had known that the power was going to be cut....but had forgotten.

If only I had gotten up earlier I could have made breakfast. If only I had gotten up earlier I could have checked my email and gotten some work done.

But I had ignored the repeated alarm. I had not only 'snoozed' I had 'dismissed the alarm'. Because of this the heater had not kicked in, the appliances were not functional and the lights didn't work.

Because I had not listened to the alarm and had not paid attention to the advice from the power company I was left cold, hungry and in the dark.

One of the things I had planned to do on my computer this morning was write this blog post. Because today is Blog Action Day '09.

And the topic is climate change.

Something that we have been warned about, well in advance. We have had alarms going off for ages, but there is always the temptation to hit 'snooze' or 'dismiss' to the alarms that are telling us to wake up and do something before its too late.

Before we are left hungry, in darkness and at the mercy of the weather.

The power going out on a day I was going to write about climate ironic.

And profound.

Monday, March 02, 2009

One Tree Hill

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

**I've got a few audiobooks, so I'll be skipping those ones, because "chapter 3" doesn't really work for this!

Da Pacem

When I Survey the Wonderous Cross

Lucky ball and chain (They might be giants)

Filippa Giordano (Bellini)

Improv 1 (They might be giants)

You Already Take Me There (Switchfoot)

Singin' Acapella (The Idea of North)

Erosion (Switchfoot)

Prelude in Eb Minor (J S Bach)

WHAT IS 2 + 2?
The Great Escape March (I really wish this had been my life's motto!)

Over the Rainbow (Sheona White & YBS)

We Want A Rock (They might be giants)

Elevation (U2)

Raindrop Prelude (Chopin) - that's rather nice, seeing its one of my all time favorite songs...

Piano Concerto 1 (Chopin) - not a very easy song to dance to... good thing I didn't dance at my wedding!

Carol of the Bells !!! (Canadian Brass)

Finale (Handel) This would have been much cooler in the above question!

Poparazzi (Switchfoot)

Theme (Elgar)

Overture - The Force of Destiny

Trip Through Your Wires (U2)

One Tree Hill (U2)

The "shuffle" software seems to get stuck on bands. I did this on fb a couple of months and there was no TMBG or Switchfoot then, and it seems to be strangely dominant here... odd

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eating Cake '08

Tomorrow is Cake Day. 5 years ago when a friend of mine noticed on his calendar that World Food Day coincided with the execution date of Marie Antoinette (Oct. 16, 1793) he decided that we should eat cake in honour of her alleged statement* "No bread, why don't they [the poor] eat cake?"

And so that is what our social group did. We ate lots of cakes, wearing homemade shirts inscribed with the date and the words "Let Them Eat Cake".

As each years' celebration has gone on - each with its own shirt - the event has become bigger, and sadder.

Sadder, because some 200 years after the dethroning of the French monarchy who were infamously out of touch with their starving people, we remain largely ignorant and out of touch in the "western" world about the plight of so many who survive on basically nothing.

Sadder because some 200 years after the abolition of the slave trade people are still in slavery.

Sadder because so many people in the world don't know what cake tastes like, and have not tasted their "daily bread" for quite some time.

Sadder because in a world we refer to as a "global village", where people live DOES decide whether you live of whether you die, no matter how loud rockstar-activists sing that it shouldn't

Today is Blog Action Day and the theme this year is poverty.

Poverty is a symptom of two great spiritual diseases of our planet: selfishness, and greed.

Selfishness and greed because we benefit financially because others don't. Goods are cheap because people are paid poorly, food is plentiful for us because it is not for others.

We cannot just assume that by throwing money at a third world country, poverty and hunger are going to go away. We need to start realising that resources - including food - are finite, and to share the wealth around, we need to have less!

So this evening, as I ate cake with friends in anticipation of more cake tomorrow, I swallowed uneasily, thinking of all those who don't look forward to tomorrow, and the 26500-30000 children under 5 who died today simply because they were too poor

"According to UNICEF, 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”#

Just now, I tried to read the above to my husband, and could not finish the last quote as I was emotionally overcome.

Poverty is such a huge problem (half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day and 80% on less that $10) that it is easy to be overwhelmed and turn away.

But I refuse to turn away. I choose to do more than cry about the fact that some people have nothing, I choose to donate, to advocate, to give of my resources and time to help those less fortunate than myself.

And most fundamentally, I choose to consume less and to consume wisely.

Be Informed, Be Aware, Be Alarmed, Be Active.

*except she didn't say it - this statement was originally attributed to "a certain princess" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau 20 years before Marie Antoinette's birth....


Monday, September 15, 2008

Relaxing in the crash zone

Had a bit of a painful experience over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, Lachlan and I woke up to a glorious day and decided to act on our previous resolution to head down to Floriade before church. It was the opening day, and while we were not expecting many flowers to be out, we thought it was worth a peek, seeing we are so close.

As the day had turned out so nicely-it was 17 degrees at 7am-we decided to follow through on our other resolution: to ride our bikes there. A very Canberran thing to do!

We got into our riding clothes, and I noticed the holes in Lachlan's riding shirt from his fall earlier in the year. Leaving our cat forlornly in the window, we set off on the ten minute road-ride to the park.

One of the great features of Canberra is its cycleways. All major arterial roads (that I know of) have at least a marked cycle lane (a lane, not a piddly little line like in Sydney) with many having an off road tar-sealed bike paths.

We got on to Northbourne Avenue and went around the big roundabout. We watched some more serious riders head off down towards Commonwealth bridge, and we headed the same direction at a respectable 30km/hr.

Coming down toward the turn-off onto the bike path that heads up into the park, I noticed that the traffic lights had turned red and there were cars accross the bike lane.

These traffic lights are a special feature of Floriade, as the main parking area for the festival is accross the 6-lane road. The turn off into Commonwealth park (for cars) is normally just a left hand turning lane that crosses the cycle path, but as the lights are placed before the turn can be executed, two cars had (seemingly at the last minute) decided that rather than wait to turn, they would pull accross the bike path.

I decided that slowing down was a good idea and so lightly pulled back on my front brakes. Or so I thought...

The next thing I knew, my bike had stopped and I was hurtling forward. I must have closed my eyes because I don't remember seeing the tar come closer, but I did hear my helmeted head bounce on the surface. I opened my eyes and started crying out. For a minute I thought I had broken a rib, but quickly realised I was just badly winded.

I've never been so badly winded before, I couldn't seem to get any oxygen, or stop the groans. Lachlan pulled my bike off the road and picked up the visor part of my helmet which had snapped off.

I wanted to get up, but could not. Lachlan didn't try to drag me, which was a smart move, as he had no idea if I'd injured my neck or back, he actually thought I had broken my arm as I was gripping my shoulder (I'd landed on it). One of the first things you learn in any kind of first aid training is to not move someone who might have a neck of spine injury.

So there I was, crying out in pain in the cycle lane. I was just starting to get my wits together when a few cars came driving past. At this point, someone felt it important to wind down their window and yell out "get off the road!"

Thanks, so much. I really needed that to be pointed out. I wondered (later) what they thought I had been doing? Having a nap? Relaxing on the road...? I also wondered if they thought at all about whether I was hurt. I wondered if they would yell that to someone who had been in a car accident. I could understand it more if I was blocking traffic, but I was still inside the bike lane...

In complete contrast to this rather unfriendly reaction, some pedestrians came running a few seconds later as I started to drag myself up the gutter (they had obviously heard my moans of pain...) And asked (in quick succession) "Are you alright, are you hurt? Do you need us to call an ambulance?" And then (maybe they too had heard my heckler) "Did a car hit you!?"

This made me smile. It was nice of them not to assume that it wasn't my fault. I tried to explain that I was ok, that it was just touchy brakes. They looked mostly convinced and walked up to the park entrance.

After sitting for a while, we slowly peddled up to some bike racks, and I took off my gloves to discover that my wedding ring was missing. I quickly remembered that I had been moisturising my hands the night before and tried to convince myself that my ring was beside the bed (which it was). I checked out my throbbing knees and noticed some nice looking abrasion marks which impressed me (blood without tearing the fabric is pretty cool).

We had a look at the flowers and then rode home - without incident.

At church that day I spoke to one of my parishioners who had fallen off her bike at a similar speed earlier in the year. She didn't hit the pavement - she met a tree, and broke both wrists and her cheek bone. She still has not got full use of her hands, months later.

I'm feeling pretty thankful that I didn't end up in hospital. I have only been left with a few sore spots: My right shoulder is red and grazed (again, no fabric damage), I have a braise (Lachlan's term for a bruise and graze in the same spot) on the right side of my chin, bruises on the heels of my hand and braises on the tops of my knees. This all makes sense as I landed on my right side - hitting shoulder first and then bouncing my head.

What I couldn't figure out is the large bruise on my left thigh. Lachlan thinks I may have hit the edge of my handle bars, and with its perfectly round shape, I'm inclined to agree.

The sore spot that is causing the most trouble is my bruised rib. There is nothing to show for it, but every cough and laugh reminds me to be more careful next time, and always make sure to always squeeze both brakes!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I wish I could wear clergy shirts

One of the things that really annoys me about being a woman in ministry is clothes.

In my denomination, there is no "clergy dress". We don't wear robes to preach, and we don't wear tabbed shirts at other times. I have to say that I agree with Ken Collins on some of his points about clergy-wear, but don't think my church will see it quite the same way (

In light of the fact that I can't fall back on "uniform", I have spent the last 18 months trying to work out the right kind of thing to wear when out and about.

Power dressing just doesn't work, its far too much. And while jeans may work for a bible study with a group of teens, its not really appropriate for a hospital visit. Its so much easier for men! There are mens clothes that actually fit in the gap between executive and party-wear. Where is the female version of dress-slacks-and-button-down-shirt-tie-optional??

If I was in a situation where clergy shirts were available, I know where I would get mine: . They are rather beautiful, I think.

But as I am not in that situation, the search will continue. I'm thinking a whole lot of black shirts and tan pants are in order....

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mothers' Day

Over the last few weeks I've been spending a bit of time organising a mothers' day service for church this weekend. I've always felt a bit...funny about mothers' day. Its so commercial.
When I was younger I used to hate mothers' day as it always fell around my birthday and it would mean that slumber parties didn't work because everyone had to be home early on Sunday morning to make their mum's breakfast in bed. (My mum could never stay in bed long enough for me to make her breakfast in bed, but I did try to do it ever year!)

I've been trying to avoid the cliche's of mothers' day, and also have been trying not to make the service irrelevant to all the women out there who don't have children (through choice or circumstances).

As I scoured the internet for ideas I came across the text for the Mothers' Day declaration made in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe. It took my completely by surprise.

I think its one of the coolest things I have ever read. For your enjoyment, I have posted it here:

"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of

Julia Ward Howe

I only wish that Mothers' day could return to these roots!