Archive for January, 2009

An Interview with Lightening

January 14, 2009

Lightening posted an interview style meme and of course, I went “me me me!”   For this meme, you put your hand up to be interviewed and that blogger sends you 5 questions to be answered on your blog. I have known Lightening from various Yahoo groups (and her blog more recently) for several years now so she knew just what to ask!

Here are my replies to her questions:

1. You’ve travelled and lived in many different places around the world. What is the best place you’ve ever lived or visited?

mmm not easy to choose!  I have only lived in Johannesburg and Sydney, and Sydney might have prohibitively expensive real estate and horrible traffic/public transport and Mark Driscoll called it the most selfish city he had visited but we love it for so many reasons.  We chose to emigrate to Australia and live in Sydney (we arrived 22 years ago), and we have never regretted that decision.  People often ask “Why did you choose Sydney?” and my answer is always “Where else in the world would you choose?”

Of the places I have visited, there are many I love and would love to visit again, but none I would choose to live in.

Venice is special, as is Paris (I have been to both of those twice and would go again if I could) but I would hate to live in either.


We loved Mauritius and have had 2 holidays there (the above photo is of MissN in 2005 and the Coin de Mire island) , and would love to visit again – and to go to the island of Rodrigues.  You don’t get much more off the tourist track than Rodrigues!  Friends recently moved to Mauritius.  I will have to ask them what it’s like living there, as opposed to holidaying.

Africa will always be in my blood and I still shed tears when I hear Nkosi sikelel’  iAfrika.  Afrika, kearata!

The best place IS Sydney – it’s where my family is!

2. If you could offer one piece of advice to a brand new mother, what would it be?

Trust your instincts! They are God-given.

MissN had silent reflux and was a very unsettled baby.  I attended Tresillian (a community family care centre) when she was about 2 months old to try and get some kind of sleeping routine (or just daytime sleeping!) happening.  They practised controlled crying.  Now, I did learn a lot from them (although I was an older mum, I had had no exposure to babies and was pretty clueless generally) but my instincts told me that controlled crying was NOT the way to go with an 8 week old baby with quite moderate reflux.  I went for a follow up a few weeks later, and they wanted me to do a week’s residential (as she still wasn’t sleeping well) and I declined.

About a month later, I was checking out day care centres (planning well in advance) and I got chatting to the owner of one.  She didn’t have any places but we were discussing MissN’s sleeping difficulties and her son had reflux too.  She said to me “I can’t advise you to do this as it’s against the SIDS recommendations, but I will tell you that I started putting my son in his cot on his tummy for his day naps and he is now sleeping!  You have a strong healthy baby who can lift her head..”

Well, I followed my instincts, took her advice – and guess what?  MissN started sleeping for longer than 20 minutes at a time!

I had another friend who urged me to get out of the house more when MissN was tiny.  She told me to express breastmilk so I could have a few hours away from my baby (MissN fed 3 hourly till she was 7 months old!) and this friend even gave me her breast pump.  I was to get someone to mind the baby (I didn’t have anyone anyway!) and take some sanity breaks.  Well, that didn’t work too well… MissN wouldn’t drink breastmilk from a bottle and was very unsettled the couple of times I did leave her.  I wish I had had more confidence in just going with the whole attachment parenting thing.  I did work it out later, and now I tend to err or being too loving rather than too firm, but that’s what my instinct tells me to do.  And I am blessed with a very close relationship with my daughter (maybe it was all those hours for months on end that I held her upright so her throat wouldn’t burn when we established the close bond…)

3. You obviously have a love for a wide range of tastes when it comes to food. Is there a particular dish or cultural style that you’d consider your favourite?

If I had to choose one cuisine to live off, it would be Italian.  But of course, Italian has so many different regional cuisines that there is a great diversity.  C recently got fed up with my cook bookcase kindly rearranged my cookbooks by cuisine (I had it “organised by size” mainly) and I found I have more Italian cookbooks than any other cuisine.  I love Thai food and it agrees with my dietary needs (no wheat or dairy and very little meat) but I don’t cook it often.  I should!  I felt wonderful when we were in Thailand – rice, rice noodles, lots of seafood and vegetables and tropical fruit!

My cooking style is best described as cucina povera.  Rustic peasant cooking with lots of garlic, chili, vegetables.  Ethnicity not important.  Indian, Mediterranean, east Asian…    ingredients close to how God created them  (as unprocessed as possible) and robust flavour paramount!

4. If earth were to be evacuated to Mars and you could only take 5 things with you (not counting people), what would you take?

My multifocals.  I can’t do much without them anymore!  My family tell me I need a hearing aid too, to which my reply is “What?”

An unending supply of lip balm. I’m addicted to lip balm!   My latest favourite is Perfect Potion rose petal lip balm.  I also love Burt’s Bees.  Or maybe Organic Fiji pineapple and coconut body lotion instead.  It’s a multipurpose product (you can use it on body, face and fair), it’s healthy (no nasties to be absorbed through your skin) and the smell evokes the memory of our 25th wedding anniversary here. (I try to use only products that are organic and have no parabens, propylene glycol or laureth sulphates in them.  If it’s not safe to eat, it’s not safe to go on your skin!)

A Bible.  Not sure which one.  Probably an ESV Study Bible (which I don’t yet have!)

The complete works of Shakespeare.  MissN has a one I will take!  That takes care of my reading!

A computer.  It would be my source of music, infinite information, connection to the world back here and a way to blog!

5. What is your favourite bible verse?

I’m going to post 2.


Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

and John 6:68

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,

Nicky Chiswell’s song Where else have we to go? celebrates this verse beautifully.

If you’d like to participate, leave a comment saying so and I’ll send you 5 questions for you to blog the answers to. Then offer to interview any of YOUR readers…

Skywatch Friday #26- New England country skies

January 9, 2009

We travelled back from Brisbane (where we had spent Christmas with my brother and his family) to Sydney on 30 December.  We chose to to miss the vacationing crowds on the Pacific Highway by taking the inland route and I was curious to see the New England region, even if fleetingly.

dec2-08-545I took these photos through the car window as we were travelling (hence the blurry fences), and was quite pleased with them.  I have no idea where they were – somewhere between Glen Innes (where we had lunch) and Tamworth (where we had afternoon tea).  dec2-08-546They seem to capture a mood which for me is quintessentially Australian. Cleared bush, some native vegetation remaining, a farmhouse now and then, livestock occasionally,  a wedge tailed eagle or eastern grey kangaroo if one is lucky.  It’s the kind of scenery that makes me want to put Wallis and Matilda or John Williamson in the CD player and sing along.

You can see more Skywatch Friday pics here.

2008 – What are you grateful for?

January 8, 2009

Did you have a good 2008?

John Alan Turner challenged us to create a list of the highlights of 2008.  Like many of my friends and family, we had a difficult 2008.  Some of my  friends have blamed the alignment of the planets.  I just blame life!  C said he was grateful 2008 was over.  For some close to me, 2008 was a nightmare, and a nightmare that isn’t over yet and won’t be for a long time.  However, 2008 was also a year of amazing blessings.

Some of my blessings (which I am choosing, rather than highlights) in no particular order, were:

  • Our family subscription to the Bell Shakespeare Company.  This was nominally MissN’s 2007 Christmas present (she shrieked with excitement when she saw the tickets, and shrieked even more when she realised there were tickets for 3 plays, not one), but in reality a family present.  We especially loved Hamlet.  C wasn’t feeling well for the last play (and Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome was very bloody so it’s best he wasn’t in the 3rd row!), so we invited one of MissN’s friends (the only one who also loves Shakespeare).  She coped with the buckets of blood!

    C and MissN

    C and MissN

  • Dolce, MissN’s adorable cat, continues to be a source of amusement, delight and comfort for us all.
  • My baptism on February 17 (my mom’s birthday!) at my new church.  My journey to baptism had been a very long one – it probably began when I was 20 and the church I had grown up in wouldn’t marry us.  I will write about it.  Soon.
  • My spiritual support groups – my new church, my new connection group and my Wednesday morning ladies Bible study group from my previous church.  The Prayer group at MissN’s school, which I will be co-facilitating this year.  Pray for me!  My many dear brothers and sisters, friends and mentors who are always prepared to listen, comfort, encourage and pray with and for me. (You know who you are!)
  • Closer relationships with my siblings.  We had a wonderful Christmas with my brother and his wife and daughter in Brisbane.  christmasdinnerIt’s so cool having some relatives in Australia now!  (They arrived from NZ in 2006 and spent Christmas 2007 with us in Sydney).  My sister and other brother are in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively, and C’s sisters are in the UK.  The 4 of us are in much closer contact by phone, email and IM.  Facebook is wonderful (all 4 of us are now on fb) – Iam connectedtoo with my nieces and nephews and enjoy their pics and a snippet of their lives, albeit at a great geographic distance.
  • Being awed by the patience and forbearance C has shown and is showing since he had his cataract surgery and detached retina last June/July.  He still has markedly reduced close (to 10m) vision and further surgery is possible (luckily not invasive).  He has been inspiring in how he coped with the 10 days face forward following the detached retina surgery, the uncertainty of what degree of sight would be restored and the trails of life with always the wrong glasses at hand and an inability to see much of what we take for granted.  (We give thanks for the iPod he bought just prior to his first surgery! Podcasts kept him going!)  He shows the same patience with me!  I am blessed (and I would say he is a hunk but it would embarrass MissN so I won’t.)
  • My beautiful daughter has amazed us with how she has matured, grown strong and resilient and managed to achieve some stunning school results with not much effort, despite a very difficult year.  She is witty, dramatic, caring, insightful and great fun.  Most important of all,  she is loving.  I am blessed (as is C) by an incredibly close relationship with her. And – she is a great cook!
  • My blog (begun in April) has been a creative outlet for me and has connected me with so many new friends.  It has crystallised my attention on my interests (cooking/birding/sewing/reading) and I am pursuing them more avidly as a result of blogging about them.  My blog also been a way of thinking of God in all I do, of being aware of the spiritual nourishment that is everywhere, if we open our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

What are you grateful for?

Aussie flavoured meme

January 6, 2009

I found this on Andrea’s blog and liked it so here goes…

I have bolded those I have done. Comments in italics

1. Started your own blog. (April 2008 for this one, and some false starts prior to that I started one on Blogger and a couple on Live Journal)
2. Slept under the stars. (not quite – have slept in a tent)
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited The Great Barrier Reef. (I can highly recommend Lady Elliot Island – our stay there in 1989 was one of the highlights of my life)
5. Stood under the stars in the outback, the real outback – think Uluru. ( I went on a birdwatching trip up the Birdsville Track in 1992.  You don’t get much more outback than that!)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. (now why does that sound like boasting – it does… How does one define what you can afford?)
7. Been to the Gold Coast’s theme parks – anyone, you take your pick. ( went to Movieworld with MissN, my sister-in-law and my niece on 28 Dec.  I still am recovering from this ride!)
8. Climbed a mountain. Cleft Peak, 3281m, 1986.  I will never forget that altitude!
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sung a solo.
11. Bungee jumped, jumped out of plane, been paragliding or hang-gliding, hot air ballooning – you get the idea, you’ve been hundreds of metres about earth in a seemingly flimsy contraption. Nope.  No chance!
12. Visited Melbourne. I love Melbourne – it’s been 10 years since we were there last.  Too long!
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Had a child. Raised a child. Worked with children. MissN was 14 on Saturday so I guessed she is still being raised.  I taught Secondary School (English and History) for 5 years in the 80’s.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Been to the Snowy Mountains. Love the Snowy Mountains but I have not been there in winter!
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Visited the Brett Whitely studio in Surry Hills, Sydney.
20. Slept on an overnight train or bus. Tried to.  I took a bus from Johannesburg to Cape Town once and was seated next to an 8 year old who was a chatterbox.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Been backpacking. Only carried a backpack on bushwalks.  Does a 4 day walk count?
23. Taken a mental health day.
24. Been buried in sand with just your head and toes sticking out.
25. Held a possum, kangaroo or koala – or any other native Australian animal. I’ve had a kangaroo stand on my foot!  And a kookaburra sit on my lap (I was eating a salmon sandwich and he wanted some!)
26. Gone skinny dipping. Barrington Tops.  We hiked to the top and camped beside a pool.
27. Been in a fun run.
28. Been on the Blue Mountains cableway. No, but I have done the Scenic Skyrail.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Played, or watched, summer cricket.
32. Sailed, kayaked or canoed our beautiful waterways.
33. Seen the Daintree.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. umm, which ancestors?  Mine come from all over Europe.
35. Visited an Aboriginal settlement or mission.
36. Learned a new language. Not to fluency, but I can still get by in Afrikaans, read some German, and I have fleeting reminiscences of the Sotho I studied at uni, and I have some community college French and Italian.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Toured the Sydney Opera House.
39. Tried rock climbing (indoor or outdoor), abseiling or just simple bush walking. Bushwalking!
40. Visit Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art. Nope, but we were right next door on 26 Dec and decided to visit the Queensland Art Gallery and Museum instead.


41. Been to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. No, but I this is me in front of the Golden Guitar last Tuesday!


42. Sunbaked at Bondi. Briefly.  I don’t sunbake.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Broome. Not yet!  On my wish list!
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone fishing. I have accompanied family fishing.  Does that count?
49. Seen Tasmania’s old growth forests.
50. Been to the top of Q1, on the Gold Coast.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling. Snorkelling.  I LOVE snorkelling!
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. My first date with C was at a drive-in.  The Hill-Fox for those who knew Johannesburg in the 70’s.
55. Been in a movie. I have been on A Current Affair and Today Tonight!
56. Driven the Great Ocean Road.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Norfolk Island. Been to Lord Howe Island!
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Guide biscuits.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone jet boating.
66. Visited Port Arthur.
67. Bounced a cheque.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favourite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Australian War Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt. Yep, I have yet to quilt a quilt though…
73. Stood in Federation Square.
74. Been on the Murray River. Crossed it, but not on a boat on it..
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Travelled, or climbed, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited St Mary’s Cathedral, in Sydney.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Been to Hermannsburg.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper. Does the local newspaper count?
85. Read the entire Bible. Getting there…
86. Visited Parliament House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.

90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Saved a pet. All our cats have been shelter or stray cats.
95. Been to the site of the Eureka Stockade.
96. Swum in The Whitsundays.
97. Been involved in a lawsuit.
98. Owned a mobile phone. This is a bit outdated!
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day.

I tag all the Aussies reading this!

The Great Summer Holiday Mystery

January 5, 2009

One of my NY’s resolutions is to sew more. To finish some quilts that have been UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) for far too long, and get inspired to spend less time at this desk and more time in my sewing room. So I am signing up for the Great Summer Holiday Mystery at Helen’s blog. The timing seems perfect!

The only problem is that my stash isn’t that extensive.  I have LOTS of fat quarters but not many lengths of fabric.  I may have to go shopping.  Such a hardship!

Stay tuned… I am excited!