Morning

Slivers of light peeked their way around the edges of the curtains this morning, beckoning me to rise and explore this new place. I declined. I closed my eyes and drifted back into my dreams. The sunbeams grew increasingly impatient and danced across my eyelids tempting me with the hope of a new day. I rose. I pulled back the curtain to be greeted with an empty field. A curious donkey poked his head around the side of the barn as if to say, ‘why hello there. Welcome to my farm’.

I feel very welcome.

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The steadfast love of the Lord

I read Psalm 107 this morning. Two things struck me.

First, this phrase is repeated four times:

‘Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!’

It comes after a report of some kind of human distress, be it being lost in a desert, being imprisoned, being sinful and hungry, or being caught in a storm at sea. In each situation the people in question suffer in their respective conditions until they can bear it no longer and then, only then, do they cry out to God. And He acts. He saves them from their distress. It makes me wonder why they didn’t cry out earlier. It makes me wonder why I don’t.

Second, the very last verse is this:

‘Whoever is wise, let him attend these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord’.

There are so many ways that God has lavished his love on us. I see this in the blue sky, the bright sunshine, the spring breeze, the jacaranda trees, my beautiful friends and family, and the unbelievable freedom I enjoy.

I am spending today considering the steadfast love of the Lord. And I am thankful.

Blessed are the cheese makers

I’m preparing for the digital meltdown. The irony of posting this article, written on an iPad, on my blog is not lost on me. Nevertheless, I have this fascination with bygone eras, especially the ones where traditional skills like carpentry, navigation, and cheese making were common, and where you knew a blacksmith, a cobbler, and a seamstress. In my mind, that place is much calmer than the present, although I know that’s probably not true. Partly in an effort to reclaim lost skills, partly to delight in making fresh cheese, and probably partly as procrastination, a couple of friends and I have been learning how to make cheese.

We started last year with ricotta. It’s so easy. Heat milk. Add vinegar. Stir. Strain through cheese cloth. Voila! Ricotta.

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Today we made haloumi. It’s less easy. Heat milk to 34 degrees. Add rennet. Sit in a water bath at 34 degrees for 45 minutes. Cut into cubes. Increase water temperature to 40 degrees. Strain through cheese cloth. Apply pressure. Let sit for half an hour. Chop into large pieces. Poach in whey for half an hour. Remove and cool. Salt. Leave for 2 more hours. Let sit in brine for 24 hours. A little bit more work, but still, voila!

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If there is ever a digital meltdown and life as we know it falls apart, at least we’ll have cheese.

I can’t go back

I’ve had the privilege of seeing a precious friend twice in two days. We went to church together what feels like an eternity ago. In the emotional roller coaster known as the teenage years a deep and lasting friendship was formed. I treasure her.

Since then, I’ve moved countless times, lived overseas and am finally back in Sydney where we’ve been able to see each other infrequently. She got married not long after I first moved away, and has stayed in the same area, worked, had some kids, and been faithful at church. Our lives have been very different. Not better, not worse, just different.

As I sit on the platform at Eastwood Station waiting for the train that will whisk me to my home, I feel nostalgic.

I went to school around here and lived close by too, so it all feels very familiar. The combination of geographical familiarity and precious friends is making me long for a time long gone. I miss that time. Everything was easier (or it felt like it). Friendships were less complicated. We had less responsibility. I wish I could go back there. It was a nicer time: I would see friends more regularly, I didn’t have to schedule people in to my diary, they were just assumed presences. I knew less people and was less busy.

But I can’t go back. Not least because I don’t have a time machine. But even if I moved back here, that wouldn’t fix things either. The film Midnight in Paris describes nostalgia as:

denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in.

Sometimes the present is painful. Sometimes I wish I could go back and make different decisions. Sometimes I think I just want a do-over.

Mostly I just wish that I could spend quality time with all the people I know. I wish that the world was a little smaller and that I didn’t have an insatiable desire to travel and explore new places. Or that I could take everyone I know with me.

I probably need to find a wishing well and let that one go.

Gatsby and Me

*spoiler alert*

I saw The Great Gatsby yesterday. It was amazing. I want to go on a holiday there. Not to New York, but actually to Gatsby’s house and his parties. To be transported into such a different world. To meet the infamous Gatsby and be invited to his parties. To witness such extravagance and the maddening highs of the ‘Roaring Twenties’.

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It is easy to look at Gatsby and his parties and think that it must have been something of a golden age. Was it not? As I think about it more, I think about Gatsby, a man who only wanted to reconnect with the woman he loved 5 years hence. I think about Daisy, in an unhappy marriage, and still in love with Gatsby. I think about Tom, a wealthy heir to one of America’s largest fortunes, flirting between affairs, and jealously guarding what he owns. I see Nick Carraway, a man who knows nothing of the world he has stepped into, being swallowed up by the rich and famous, but ending up being used by those he meets. Their lives seem so glorious, full of parties and champagne and friends. But they cannot survive forever in such a world. Reality will catch up with them. In the end, one dies, two leave the city, and one is left wondering just what happened over the last year. It’s not all parties and champagne. Reality will always come crashing in.

Today the rain is having such an effect on me. I am melancholic. Listening to Lana Del Rey is not exactly brightening my mood. But I’m almost enjoying being transported into this state. I don’t know about you, but I can’t constantly play along with the illusion of a perfectly content life any more than Gatsby, Daisy, Tom and Nick could survive the heights of the ‘Roaring Twenties’. I need moments to feel reality. I need moments to feel gloomy. Today is one of those days. Sorry if you happen to cross my path today and I’m a bit quiet. But at least now you’ll know why.

An eventful weekend

I’m so glad it’s Monday. I never say that.

After a monumental week of essay writing I had many things planned for this past weekend. I was going to enjoy the company of some old friends at their daughter’s first birthday party, then go to a rally against live export, then see some of the Art & About exhibition and then stay in the mountains for the night with a dear friend. None of these things would come to pass.

The party was cancelled because the little girl had been sick. ‘No problem’ I thought, ‘I’ll just have a slow morning and then go to the rally’. I picked up my umbrella and headed for the bus to go into the city for the rally, but I had underestimated the extent to which the buses would be late because of the rain. It finally came, and I made it – just in time for the end of the rally. Then it came to light that I had misunderstood that my friend and I were going to Art & About, so I jumped on the bus and came back to Newtown.

I threw some things in a bag to head up to the mountains. Feeling slightly hungry I popped a piece of toast in the toaster, thinking that I would eat it on the run. I walked away. A few minutes later I smelled burning toast. Going to the kitchen, sure enough the toast was burnt. And then the smoke alarm went off. Because I live in a residential college, the building is connected to the Fire Station – the whole building had to be evacuated and the firemen come. So there we were, 30 women standing on the street at 2.30pm on a Saturday afternoon. Two fire engines pull up, all for one little piece of burnt toast. I had to fess up and show the firemen to the scene of the incident. They checked it and turned the alarm off, and then proceeded to suggest to me that I might like to turn the toaster down. Like I’ve never used a toaster before.

I didn’t end up going to the mountains.

Sunday was better, until I went to return some DVD’s and tripped on the kerb and stacked it. And I mean stacked it. I was down, lying face down on the ground. No one came to help. In fact, I think they turned away (maybe a kind sentiment designed to reduce the embarrassment or a replica of The Good Samaritan without the Samaritan). Either way, I grazed my hand and hurt the muscles in my right arm.

This weekend will never happen again.

Like I said, I’m glad it’s Monday.