Photography 101 – Day #6 – Connect

This morning, as I went for my walk, I had in mind to take some photos around today’s theme ‘Connect’. It turns out that it wasn’t a great day for taking a photo – not with my basic camera anyway.

Overcast days don’t happen very often in Australia. So it didn’t take me long to find a photo or two taken on a brighter day.

Anzac Bridge

Anzac Bridge

This photo was taken on a lovely day out with my niece and nephew. We walked from Lilyfield, over the Anzac Bridge, into the Pyrmont area. The walking route is on my photocopied walking map (my ‘Inner West Architectural Appreciation Walking Tour’) and so I managed to combine quality time with the family members, exercise, and highlighting some more streets on my map.

View of Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont

View of the Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont

As we set off together, a packed lunch in a backpack on my back, I had ‘flashbacks’ to previous day trips with them when they were much younger. My niece and nephew have grown up knowing me as their aunty that comes from far away every couple of years. I once heard the term ‘parachute aunty’ used by a friend – a great term to describe the phenomenon!

I’m so thankful that I’ve managed to keep a connection with them over the past 15 or so years – a connection that ‘picks up’ where it leaves off each time – no matter that there’s a whole world of oceans between us at times.

Time Out – With the Birds

I’ve always fancied having a pet cockatoo.

For those of you not familiar with Australian birds, here’s a fine example:

"I'm gorgeous!"

“I’m gorgeous!”

The trouble is, I’m quite scared of birds. With good reason! We used to have a pet Galah (another fine, feathered Australian) who loved my father, tolerated my mother and brother, and hated me. She was jealous! She would even go as far as pretending to flirt with me (this bird would actually flutter her eyelids and purr like a cat!) in order to make me feel it was safe to tickle her under the chin (her favourite gesture of affection from my father). As soon as I plucked up the courage to put my finger near her chin, she’d lunge in for a bite!

I suspect that a pet Cockatoo would not be much different in its approach toward me. Even if it didn’t bite me, there’s the very real possibility that it would screech – very loudly and very persistently.

But I do love them! I love their character, their playful eyes, the way they dance if they know they have your attention. Occasionally, they will learn to talk by imitating words they hear. My aunt’s cockatoo used to fairly constantly cry out the name of my cousin! It was clear that my aunt was in fairly constant communication with her son…

When I long for a pet bird, or a dog, or a goldfish, I realise it’s a longing for connection with living things that respond.

I figure I’d be better fostering relationships with humans who aren’t quite as likely to bite me – though they may, occasionally, screech.

This morning, on my first day of some prescribed ‘time-out’ from work, I began the day by sitting at the kitchen table reading and eating my breakfast. I was feeling cold. So, I did something I’ve never done before in this place I’m staying, I took a chair and placed it neatly on the very tiny verandah at my back door. There I sat, in the sun, with a book and a coffee. I felt the sun on my face and heard the birds in the trees around me.

I shall do this again! One day I may even see a cockatoo while I’m out there.

Daily Prompt

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #1

Yesterday I posted an introduction to this little project. In summary, I plan to post ten things I’m thankful for, over ten days.

Here, on Day #1, I’m already pausing to wonder if my title is grammatically correct? I will, however, forge on!

I’m waking today thankful for:

1. Dorothy (my friend’s goldfish that I am minding) still being alive. Each morning I head to her tank with my breath ever so slightly bated…minding a friend’s fish is a weighty responsibility.

2. A beloved plant that had all but died, showing ever increasing signs of revival.

3. The first sip of a coffee made from beans that a colleague roasted.

4. The second sip of coffee 🙂

5. The day that’s ahead of me – starting with a pick-up message for a book that I requested from my local library.

6. Anticipation of two outings: one including chocolate; the other including theatre.

7. Washing machines: their general convenience; and the fact that there are two of them in the apartment block laundry, so I can get my washing done in one trip.

8. A warm, sunny day to dry the washing when it’s done being washed. Having spent the majority of my adult life living in the rainy climate of Ireland, I have not yet lost the sense of antipodean novelty in hanging out my washing to dry, and bringing it in…dry…on the same day.

9. A prefect dinner with a friend and her family last night. From the afternoon tea served with fine china cups that only appear when I visit – to the game of Rummikub where everyone’s a winner – to the Lebanese Feast lovingly planned, prepared and laid before us. Such love!

10. The hope of new life, for my life and others’.

The Parabolic Plant – A Tale of Near Death and Revival

The Plant (thriving) and the Desk at Work

The Plant (thriving) on My Desk at Work

Convalescing Plant on Table at Home

The Plant (convalescing) on My Table at Home

Please Note: photos of the plant’s ‘near death experience’ have not been included. Scenes may have disturbed some viewers.

Daily Prompt

One Day, One Word, One Recipe at a Time – With Marcella #100 (of 466)

My brother was visiting with me last week in my new place of habitation. He will be visiting, as work dictates, from time to time. It has been great to spend relaxed time together, completing a jigsaw, trying to complete a crossword, reading in companionable silence, and sampling the continuing delights of Marcella’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’.

On Friday evening, I reached recipe #100 in my cooking adventure!

And the recipe was?

One at a Time

One at a Time

‘Crespelle’ – The Italian version of ‘crepes’.

Marcella has a chapter devoted to these simple, light treats. The chapter only has four recipes in it – the remaining three are savoury dishes where the crespelle are rolled with meat or ricotta fillings and baked. I’m looking forward to making those in the future.

For recipe #100, however, I kept it plain – plain topped with sugar, lemon and cinnamon, that is! Just lovely!

My brother and I have also started a creative writing project on the side of the fridge. We’re using my magnetic fridge poetry set and have set the challenge of each adding one word, each day to create sentences and, eventually, a story. My brother tends to send the sentences in more positive, upbeat directions – while I tend toward darker, more reflective paths. We are inviting any visitors to likewise add a word during their visit.

It’s an interesting discipline, adding one word each day (two with my brother sending his addition by text message when absent from the fridge). We can both, individually, have in our mind where the story will head, only to have that plan foiled (improved?) by the other’s addition.

It’s a magnetic, poetic, refrigerated parable of life really. The words are limited. The combinations and narrative directions are seemingly unlimited. The plans we make are temporary and liable to dramatic change.

This past weekend, after a couple of weeks of ‘hiding’ in the safety of my family, I attended two gatherings of people who, quite naturally, wanted to know my plans for the future. Yesterday was a gathering of Bible College friends from 20 years ago. Today I made my first visit to my home church, since arriving in Australia this time around.

When asked what my plans are, I (and they) had to face the reality that we really only know today’s plans – we don’t even know what tomorrow will bring.

It’s comforting to know that my life’s plans are in my loving Lord’s hands. All he asks is that I take it one day at a time – and not be anxious about that. He’s got it covered!

The recipes, the fridge magnets, the reality of life’s daily changes, all remind me of this!

Friday night: #100 ‘Crespelle’ with my brother at my table.

In the Bosom of My Family – With Marcella #95, #96, #97, #98 & #99 (of 466)

I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting on ‘bosoms’. That’s the figurative, not the fleshy, kind – though residing now in a warmer climate does give one continual pause for such fleshy reflection.

In the days before my departure for the other side of the world, I was in attendance at a conference where the speaker was teaching from John’s Gospel. He made the heart-warming observation that when Jesus spoke of he and the Father ‘being one’ it was in the realm of the language of ‘being in the bosom of’ – that is, in close and warm relationship. He went on to remind us, that as followers of Jesus, we were included in this warm, familial embrace.

My heart was warmed. It still is.

This morning I awoke, still reflecting upon bosoms, and the song ‘Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham’ popped into my head! I know! Where did that come from?! And what did those lyrics ever really mean to this young child singing them?? However, after three repetitions of this incomprehensible line, it moves on to these clear words…

Oh, wonderful love! So high, you can’t get over it. So low, you can’t get under it. So wide, you can’t get around it. Oh, wonderful love!”

My guess is that the start of the song was meant to cause my soul to ‘rock’ (take joy?) in the comfort that I’ve been included in God’s family. I can certainly ‘rock’ a lot in that wonderful love!

This past couple of weeks, I have been experiencing the safe, warm, reliable love of my family’s embrace. We are no ‘Leave it to Beaver’ kind of family. But we have certainly been learning to love and understand one another better as the years have passed. My family is very good at welcoming me back every couple of years – into their fold – and coping with my ‘I’m not coping with changing countries’ issues that I have for the first week or so. They’ve been coping with this for 17 years, which makes them pretty wonderful.

It has been my delight to cook for them over the past week or so. Up till now they had been merely reading of my ‘Marcellan’ cooking adventures. Now they have tasted them – with (mostly) enthusiastic responses. The thing about cooking for family, rather than guests, is that you get honest feedback!

A Table Set in Oz

A Table Set in Oz

I have also had the delight of eating my Mum’s Roast Lamb Dinner! We enjoyed that together as a family on our belated ‘Christmas Day’ together (on the 24th January). I can heartily recommend a belated Christmas Day! We experienced none of the giddy heights of unrealistic expectation – and the crashing disappointment of reality – that often come with the real Christmas Day. We just enjoyed the day in a relaxed, pressure-free way. It was great! We’re thinking of doing it again next time!

Having introduced my family to the delights of ‘Risotto’ (my father had eaten it in pre-packaged, microwaveable form before and agreed that Marcella’s was a great deal better), and the comfort of a Frittata, I have reached 99 recipes!

I plan to cook recipe number 100 tonight for my brother and I to share. Feel free to make guesses as to what that recipe might be!

Over the past couple of weeks: #95 ‘Asparagus Salad’, #96 ‘Risotto with Parmesan’, #97 ‘Frittata with Pan-Fried Onions and Potatoes, #98 ‘Sauteed Mushrooms with Olive Oil, Garlic and Mushrooms, and #99 ‘Risotto with Bolognese Sauce, at some good, loving, Aussie tables.

My Imagination is Packed (in my suitcase)

Normally, my mind travels far; my imagination knows few limits.

Lately, my mind is travelling – a lot – but in the same direction.

My mind goes to my suitcase, my ‘to-do’ list, and my upcoming travels across I-don’t-know-how-many-seas to the other side of the world.

I’m not imagining an exotic location (though Koalas may seem a little exotic to those not raised in that far away land). I’m not even getting excited about the sights and delights I might find there (though I’m longing for some hugs from my family and my Mum’s roast lamb dinner).

I’m not feeling at all creative or vision-filled – as I’m normally found to be.

I am just ready.

I am so ready that my bags are packed. They have been lying there on the spare bed, being gradually filled, for quite some time now. I am most definitely a ‘pre-packer’.

My head is in the land I’m heading to. My heart still has to remain here for a while, while I say goodbyes to the many folk who’ve won my heart.

This is no holiday trip I’m taking. This will be a year of life and work back in my country of birth. It’s no small thing. It’s filling my head and heart right now and I’m mostly managing to keep that overwhelming fullness of emotion from overflowing – by being just a little bit more than obsessed with the details of packing and preparing to go.

The realm of details is not normally my abiding place. I look forward to leaving those pesky details behind – ticked, crossed and crumpled up ‘to-do’ lists in the recycling bin. I take comfort that they can’t follow me where I’m going – they’ll be redundant once I’m on the plane sipping something pleasant and snacking on complimentary peanuts.

My imagination isn’t actually packed in my suitcase. I can’t find it right now in order to pack it! But I’ll be getting on the plane in one week’s time, trusting that it’ll meet me there – on the other side of the world.

God’s given me enough foresight, enough imagination, to trust that he’ll have it waiting and ready for me – a fresh sense of his ‘big picture’, saving work in this world – and a little taste of my part in that.

For now, I’m counting pairs of socks and wondering if my face cream will last for seven more days.