Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Didn't we have a lovely time

The day we went to B …". Except there was no "we" (that might have been lovelier, but c'est la vie), and it was to Bungendore that I went. But I did have a very pleasant day. I considered opening a bottle of cider, and I did indeed sing a few of my favourite songs as the wheels went round (if you have no idea what I am on about, listen here). 

I have been on a quest for "old things", and was told Bungendore was the place to go, so I decided to take a little trip. It's a very quaint little old town in the country. I didn't take much effort with these pictures, and it being the middle of the day it wasn't ideal and I could hardly see through the viewfinder, or discern anything on the playback screen, so this is what I got, but you will get the idea. Apparently Braidwood, a bit further on, is a town that is entirely heritage listed, but I will save that for another day.

There were homewares shops ...

At which I liked the plants in baking tins on the ladder.

Antique shops ...

I thought this motel was hilariously retro in the middle of it all. Apparently it has been used in a lot of films and catalogue shoots (said the guy who saw me talking pictures and came out for a chat).

I didn't actually buy anything, except three clay roses for $2 each, for some unknown reason, but I now know what kind of things one might find in Bungendore. 

Friday, November 29, 2013


Let's do another personality test! I saw a Book Week Scotland Personality Test on Facebook, and how could I resist that combination? - Scotland (home of my ancestors), books and personality.

However, I was a little dismayed when, given I was supposed to be a literary figure, I came out as someone I had never before heard of. Here is my result:

You are Emma Morley from One Day
You, and people like you, are often artistic and great counsellors to friends and family. With deep intuition, like Emma, you can often forgive others’ behaviour because, somehow, you deeply empathise with the motivations and inner turmoil behind them.

Even though you can appear aloof, bland and stubborn on your bad days you are as warm as you are complex. Your friends hold you close to their hearts and understand your dislike of conflict. With great creativity, given independence, you can excel at jobs to which you commit yourself.

So I googled this and read about the film One Day on Wikipedia, with even greater dismay. It sounds like nonsense. I got confused just reading it and trying to keep up with the relationship starts and stops. Perhaps the book is better? I do quite like the sound of Emma Morley, but isn't that just the thing? We feel a sympathy for people like ourselves.

What stood out to me in the above blurb is the line about I can "often forgive others' behaviour because, somehow, you deeply empathise with the motivations and inner turmoil behind them". Is that how you explain it? I think this is indeed true of myself. At times I totally overdo my inner explanations of why so and so did such and such and invent all sorts of reasons for why they didn't really mean to. But I am self-aware enough to know that this trait very often looks, to others and even at times to myself, like being a pushover, who keeps going back for more destructive treatment. There are times when I storm (on the inside of course) and wonder why a certain person treats me poorly. Then I realise it's because I keep forgiving them for treating me poorly and sparing them from any consequences of treating me poorly. And then I want to stamp my foot and be "tougher". But of course I don't. And I do then I remind myself that grace is always uneven, and love is uneven, and that I can dispense grace even when I know full well that people have been unkind, because I have received grace, knowing full well I don't deserve it.

But, this is partly the reason for my interest in ideas like "we teach others how to treat us", because, while forgiveness and grace and love are the things, there are sometimes better ways for relationships to work than with dynamics so uneven they are dysfunctional, or one person looking like a "pushover", which ultimately isn't good for anyone.

Anyway, like they say at the end of one of these tests, "life is not always easy for the INFJ" (the above blurb does sound a lot like an INFJ - I can't escape!), what with all this wretched introspection. The rest of you can just go and have fun doing the test.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hiraeth - that homesick longing in another language

Blogger has not been functioning very well for me here at work this week, and I don't actually bring my laptop to Sydney with me, but today I have another word, an old Welsh word, to add my collection of words untranslatable directly into English that speak of this mix of longing, homesickness, nostalgia ... (see Sehnsucht, Unheimlichkeit, Tesknota and Saudade).

 Picture from here.

The fact that so many languages have a word for something similar to this, which has about it the scent of a longing for Eden, is the thing.
Hiraeth /hɪəraɪ̯θ/ is a Welsh word that has no direct English translation. The University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past. From Wikipedia.
I found this little abstract from a project on Hiraeth, Saudade and the Concept of Longing, that writes thus:
The Welsh word hiraeth has no equivalent in English. It often translates as “homesickness,” but the actual concept is far more complex. It incorporates an aspect of impossibility: the pining for a home, a person, a figure, even a national history that may never have actually existed. To feel hiraeth is to experience a deep sense of incompleteness tinged with longing. The only living language with an exact equivalent is Portuguese, through the term saudade, which refers to an impossible longing for the unattainable. Other languages, however, hold terms that come close in meaning: dor in Romanian, Wehmut in German, kaiho in Finnish. In some cases, the term refers to issues of national history and identity.
That is all.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The poetry of departures

I came upon this poem by Philip Larkin that amuses me. It captures so well the way I myself feel torn at times between the itch to pack it all in and sail into the sunset after bold and grand adventures, and the love of home, where I do like being with my specially-chosen junk and books ... And how sometimes just knowing that we could is enough. (Pardoning a little crassness in the middle.)

Poetry of Departures
~by Philip Larkin

Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,
As epitaph:
He chucked up everything
And just cleared off,
And always the voice will sound
Certain you approve 
This audacious, purifying,
Elemental move.

And they are right, I think.
We all hate home
And having to be there:
I detest my room,
Its specially-chosen junk,
The good books, the good bed,
And my life, in perfect order:
So to hear it said

He walked out on the whole crowd
Leaves me flushed and stirred,
Like Then she undid her dress
Or Take that you bastard;
Surely I can, if he did?
And that helps me stay
Sober and industrious.
But I'd go today,

Yes, swagger the nut-strewn roads,
Crouch in the fo'c'sle
Stubbly with goodness, if
It weren't so artificial,
Such a deliberate step backwards
To create an object:
Books; china; a life
Reprehensibly perfect.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A thing or two

I feel like I spent days of last week just executing logistics of transporting myself and my things.

(My colleague who commutes to Sydney, and who is responsible for this lark, had a week of leave, so I was left to find my own way, which made the whole thing seem that much crazier. So on Tuesday morning I walked out early, very early, and hopped on a bus I had discovered near my house down to the main bus station in Canberra, got the bus to Sydney, walked from Central Station to work. Getting up at 5.30 am and walking through the doors at work at 11.00 am is not the most efficient thing I have ever done, but it did work. (There didn’t seem much point in me driving my own car, since I don’t have all the magic car-parking arrangements my colleague has and would have nowhere to leave my car throughout the day.) Then I walked to and from work for a couple of days, leaving and rotating portions of my stuff at work so I didn’t have to carry it unnecessarily back and forth. On Thursday morning I had a meeting in at the Attorney-General’s Department, to discuss a product I work on (when it’s unusual for me to have off-site meetings), so I went straight into the city, taking my gear with me. Then it was back to work, then back down to Central Station later for the bus, then on to the next bus and finally home. Thus I felt like I spent days just getting myself about making sure I had the right belongings with me.)

I’ve since come down with a rotten head cold, which is no very great surprise after the last few weeks, but hopefully I can bounce back, so I can do it all again.

On the bus I have been reading A Praying Life, by Paul Miller, on the Kindle, when I wasn’t snoozing. There is much goodness in it. You can read about it here, here, and here. It’s not quite so easy to flag and re-find the good stuff on the Kindle, but hopefully I can post a thing or two when I get myself back together.

In the meantime, I have taken a few moments to sit on the couch and make a little something to put in with my Mum’s birthday present. Christmas is coming alarmingly fast. This little stocking is made from the same yarns I used in the rug I made for her. She has committed sacrilege and abandoned traditional Christmas colours for these ones, but it's her tree and her house, so I let her do it and suffer to go along. The pattern is here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I and my rose - a poem

These are some roses my Aunt had placed in a jar for me when I arrived at my new home. They actually match in so nicely, and look so cheery, that I now feel like I need an endless supply.

I used to disdain roses; as too showy, too exotic (in that they are not native to Australia, and people would do better not to fill their gardens with them and be then compelled to spray pesticide everywhere to keep this country's bugs off), too unoriginal. But these days, when I happen upon roses I just embrace them and enjoy. It’s not their fault.

So, I thought I’d share another poem by GA Studdert Kennedy. I am not altogether sure about the last two lines, and have puzzled whether he is switching between talking about the literal rose flower and a metaphorical rose that is Christ himself. The more I read it, the more I find, which is one characteristic of good poem.


There is a world of wonder in this rose;
God made it, and His whole creation grows
To a point of perfect beauty
In this garden plot. He knows
The poet's thrill
On this June morning, as He sees
His Will
To beauty taking form, His word
Made flesh, and dwelling among men.
All mysteries
In this one flower meet
And intertwine,
The universal is concrete
The human and divine,
In one unique and perfect thing, are fused
Into a unity of Love,
This rose as I behold it;
For all things gave it me,
The stars have helped to mould it,
The air, soft moonshine, and the rain,
The meekness of old mother earth,
The many-billowed sea.
The evolution of ten million years,
And all the pain
Of ages, brought it to its birth
And gave it me.
The tears
Of Christ are in it,
And His Blood
Has dyed it red,
I could not see it but for Him
Because He led
Me to the Love of God,
From which all Beauty springs.
I and my rose
Are one.

The Unutterable Beauty
G.A. Studdert-Kennedy, 1883-1929

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Well boo. My sister took my new little nephew to see the paediatrician last Wednesday, and the paediatrician sent him to hospital. He’s showing signs of heart failure, and having difficulties earlier than they might have anticipated. The cardiologist now wants to do surgery next month. It would seem that perhaps the earliest he can have that the better. But he needs to put on some weight first and have his heart rate slow down. So, that is the next thing to pray for.

Meanwhile I am still pottering around trying to unpack in Canberra. I’m at that point where the place just looks like a mess now with random left-over bits scattered about waiting to find their place. I have rented a two-bedroom place here, for less than the price of a studio in Sydney, but it is just as well because there is no garage or shed or linen cupboard and the laundry is in the bathroom, so all the things they might have contained have ended up in the second wardrobe. And it is nice to get some of the furniture that was crammed up in my bedroom previously into a "study". Today I went in search of a washing machine, as when the friends who were going to give me one did a test run on theirs sparks flew out of it, so that option didn’t work. So I am now doing a load of washing, which is a marvel when it’s been a while since you’ve been able to do one.

But for Saturday, here is another temperament-type analysis I stole off facebook. I am occasionally told I look like Cate Blanchett, so this seemed apt for me. Click on it and it should get bigger.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Where I have been

Diarising blog posts are perhaps of little interest to all but a few, but let me just fill you in on the last few days. My removalist truck arrived at 7 am last Thursday morning. I was dubious when I saw the size of the truck. I had sent a list of my things to the company, who said they would send the “king” truck, but I had a suspicion this was not the king truck. Consequently it took them four hours to pack it up like Tetris and they finished up holding stuff in while they closed the doors on it. The truck then left, and I ran around madly loading things into my car, then left also, only to get stuck in the M5 over an “incident”, which turned out to be a truck broken down in one lane of the tunnel. Still, I beat the truck to Canberra. I don’t know what they did, but it took them a long time.

My Aunt was already at my new place, where she had placed some welcome “home” roses from a garden in a jar and was busy cleaning out my fridge etc. We unpacked some things and spent a few hours there, but then I went out to their place for the night, because it was too hard to find linen for the bed etc.

Friday morning I left and came back to Sydney for the clean-up of the old place. I spent the afternoon scrubbing the tiles on the balcony, cleaning the wind-out awning we never used but which was dirty anyway, washing down the outside of the sliding doors, cleaning my blinds (which I discovered were dirtier than I realized on the back because I always leave a window open in my room), wiping walls, cleaning out the air-conditioner, the ceiling vents etc. I had left a roll-out camp mattress behind to sleep on back in Sydney, but I must be going soft, or had too much to think about, because, tired as I was, I was still awake at 1 am and then work up at 5.30.So, Saturday I got up and tackled the shower and bathroom, the kitchen, the light fittings and so on. My flatmate didn’t get home till later on the Friday evening, and then her removal came at 7.30 am Saturday morning, and she didn’t return till 12.00pm, so I did the vast majority of the cleaning myself.

Finally I was ready to leave about 1 pm, with nothing left to do but the kitchen bench, and the carpet cleaners were coming at 2pm. So I set off, only to be faced with another “incident” in the M5 tunnel, which involved crawling along and coming to a complete stop several times inside it. Oh how I hate that tunnel! Sydney, you can keep the M5. This just about finished me. I could have just gone to sleep right there in the tunnel. I then made it as far as a road house at Pheasant’s Nest where I was so desperate that I bought coffee out of a machine in the 7 eleven store and a packaged sandwich, because I hadn’t eaten anything since a bread roll I had kept from the day before for breakfast. Then I staggered on to Canberra, with my car just about exploding from all the bits and pieces I had left behind, which I had underestimated.

But finally I made it back to Canberra. My Aunt and Uncle came around and helped unpack and were marvelous (my uncle had me in fits of giggles as he exclaimed over my things - he decided to unpack my books, so he had some fun with that). We ate take-away pizza in the middle of the boxes and chaos and it was actually kind of fun.

This Aunt and Uncle they have been so amazingly kind to me. As I mentioned before, my Uncle fixed me a microwave, then he set up a TV, set-top box and DVD player for me on a cardboard box (the important things - I might even work out what is on TV!), they gave me an old kettle, loaned me a vacuum cleaner, came around on Sunday with a fold-up dining table and so it went on. I might sound like I owned nothing, but the reality is that basically all the furniture and kitchen goods in the last place were mine, except the dining table, the microwave and the kettle (oh and the TV). Also, when we moved in I owned the fridge, the washing machine, and the vacuum, but when they broke down my flatmate replaced them with a fridge she already owned at her parent’s house and a few new things. You go through cycles in flatting when you own the appliances and when you don’t. I was in a not-owing phase, but at least I don’t have to go out and get them all at once right now.

So, I still can’t quite believe I managed to pull the whole thing off and am pleased that it is now over.

It is so nice to have family in a town to help out in the big things (a couple of old friends down there also offered to help also when I told them I was moving, which was kind of them – being someone who doesn’t readily ask people for help it is nice when people offer and you don’t need to).

Monday morning I had to get up at 5.30 am to come back up to Sydney, making it six times travelling that road in eight days, and I was so wrecked yesterday at work I could hardly think straight. Then last night I went and stayed in this strange place in Balmain (that is another story) but hopefully from this point on I can get it all sorted and catch up on some sleep. I’ve also been eating junky bits of stuff here and there and not doing much in the way of actual exercise in the last couple of weeks, because I have been all over the place, so I feel a little blergh and hope to return to some kind of normal soon. I'm also looking forward to reading time on the bus back, which might provide some more interesting fuel for blogging!

Monday, November 04, 2013

The moving story

So, the new plan, which has come about so suddenly I can hardly keep up myself, is this. When I was chatting to my manager about how remotely I could do my job, I did mention the Canberra office. I found out this no longer exists as an office, which most people didn't seem to know. But, he did say, when he was completely unfazed by this idea, that if I wanted to come up from down that way I should go and talk to another girl on my floor who comes up from Canberra. I did happen to know this girl, having met her way back at University, when she was living in college with a good friend from my course, who now also happens to live in Canberra. So, out of curiosity I went to ask her if she actually came up from Canberra, because I didn’t know this. She got all excited about my possibility, and was very convincing and eager, and highly recommended the whole idea, even offering me a lift, such that by the end of the conversation I went away thinking ‘could I really come up to work from Canberra for one day a week?’, which seemed crazy initially ... but the craziness wore off the longer I thought about it.

So, with this sort of in mind, but before the whole caper had been approved through work, I went down to Canberra just for a day of the long weekend to drop a pile of stuff off at my Aunt’s house. I happened to be looking at properties online earlier, a couple were open for inspection, so I looked through two, just to see what you got for your money down there. Later that week I found out I had to be in the office for three days a week, and the whole thing seemed to fall through, because I couldn’t imagine trying to make that work. So, I went back to my new friend at work and told her they weren’t going to let me come in for one day and I couldn’t do the whole thing. So she then says ‘do you want me to see if you can stay where I stay for two nights a week?’ because she stays over up here (she is a team leader so she needs to be in the office more). So, I thought, well, I suppose you can ask (but I did think this set up was even crazier than the first initially too). So she did. So this person she stays with says I can stay there too a couple of nights a week if I want (sounds like a very friendly, easy-going Irish person who lives in Balmain and has spare rooms she is happy to let out rather ad hoc).

So, I ummed and argghed. It was do that, take out a lease on a place here (which I just couldn’t find without paying very large amounts of rent) and continue as is, or I did also think about the Blue Mountains but friends who live up there said to me ‘there is not a lot of intellectual stimulation up here Ali’ (which is perhaps true – great place to visit with your friends, perhaps not such a great place to be by yourself on ordinary weekends), or put my stuff in storage here and sort of drift and think some more (then I was aghast at the price of storage sheds here). So, I thought, well, why not. This way I can move my stuff somewhere etc, and I don’t have to worry about a new job just yet. Sometimes you just have to jump. And I was determined to change something in the next year, even if it killed me.

So, then I discovered that one of the properties I looked through for rent was still available (you have to have inspected them to apply in the ACT), so I just applied for it online, and I got it. I was rather shocked myself really. So, that was only sorted on the Monday, then on the Wednesday I ended up going to Melbourne to be there for the arrival of my nephew. So, it’s kind of crazy. And yesterday I had to drive to Canberra and back to pick up the keys and pay some rent etc. Thus why it is hectic.

But I am excited to do actually be changing something. I felt like my days in Sydney were drawing to an end, and I have family and many old friends in Canberra. My Uncle and Aunt down there used to live down the road from our childhood house in Tamworth, and my Uncle is the one man I can trust and rely on to be there (and yesterday he hitched up his trailer and went to collect a fridge I bought on gumtree – that was his idea – and he is fixing me a microwave etc) and my Aunt would do anything for you (she came around to my new place on Saturday armed with cleaning gear and got to work) – not that I want to go down there and be a nuisance and wear out my welcome, but it will be nice to know that there is somebody there should I need somebody.

Strangely enough, I feel like I would never have even seriously entertained the whole idea were it not for this colleague at work, who has basically made it possible and been incredibly helpful and generous. She is now even giving me a washing machine they have spare. (Seriously, some of the folks I have met though work set the bar very high if we think as Christians we can show Jesus to people simply by “doing good” to others.) So, it’s weird the way that all played out. God seems to have used seemingly casual and random conversations to get me to this point.

Saturday afternoon I was driving down a major four-lane road in Canberra, when a kangaroo decided to hop right across it, lucky to be alive by the time it made it to the other side. I am moving back to the country! It’s a wonder I have been sitting at an office desk in Sydney as long as I have really, given my country roots and wildlife-chasing past. I’m looking forward to seeing the hills in the distance. (But I do  also like the fact that it is within an easy drive of Sydney, should there be things on here that I would like to come to.)

So, there is the story thus far, and if I can just make it to the end of this week ...

Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday photo

I didn't attempt the Facebook riddle, but here is a giraffe (taken by my sister on Day 6).