Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Latest op shop art find

On the weekend I was swanning up Lonsdale Street in Braddon with some visiting family, and I’d already been fossicking around in a ‘Designer Op Shop’ and been on my way, but on walking back up the street past the shop I noticed the basket out the front on the footpath containing sale framed art. I flicked through and spied the painting below and quite liked it. It was the only one without a sticker so I took it in, asked what they wanted for it, that being $24, and took it home. I like impressionism in oils and I like an alpine scene. But mostly I bought it because of the dusty blues in the shadows and sky as those are the colours in my bedroom (which are not altogether in decor fashion at the moment). The evidence is in the cushion.

When I got home, as I tend to do, I googled the artist and discovered that Peg Minty was a local artist who received an Order of Australia Medal for her contribution to the art world, and there is a street in the suburb of Weston named after her (you can read about her if you search her name here). So I am quite chuffed with it. I now have three op-shop paintings in my room by local female artists, all featuring dusty blues. It's become a thing.

The painting needs some cleaning and I will also clean and paint the frame, but I’m an old hand at painting op shop frames now (yay for another chalk painting project!).

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christ is mine forevermore

So, way back here I blogged about a song I loved at our annual Bishop's Convention. I loved it so much I asked the friend who was leading the music at that convention about it and he sent me a demo recording, which I have enjoyed listening to since.

Well, City Alight have now released a music video, so here it is. The timing is different, and to be honest I prefer the demo so far (perhaps because it's what I currently know, though the timing was perhaps a bit more interesting), and they've changed the refrain on the end a little, but I like this. The lyrics are so good.

(Tonight at church we sang another City Alight song 'Home', also written by Jonny Robinson, the son of our diocesan bishop, and Rich Thompson - I liked that too.)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Checking in

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

So it’s been over a month. There have been a lot of blog posts composed in my head, but they obviously haven’t made it out of there. At least you’ll all be pleased to know I am no longer tired. Well, there are days when it’s hard to get out of bed, but not TIRED like back then. That was weariness of a whole other order. I’ve since been getting back into running and a version of pilates at home and all is going well physically.

For some of the things I have blogged about in my head -

I’m not sure that I have mentioned here that earlier in the year I joined the committee of the Canberra Women’s Christian Convention. That's been a good experience and one of the best things was getting to know the other women on the committee. The grand convention was on the 22nd of October, so there were things to do and rehearsals and set up and so on beforehand. On the day I sat on the registration desk in the morning (seriously though people, if a conference involves seminar electives and lunch, please don't just turn up on the morning without registering – this is very unhelpful and takes time to sort out) and then I MC’d one of the seminars. I have never done such a thing and accepted with some trepidation, but I think it went OK, and I was glad I had a go at it (you know, life begins on the edge of your comfort zone and all ...).

Lesley Ramsay came down from Sydney to speak from the books of Acts on Speeches that Changed the World, namely Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 and Paul’s speech in Acts 17, and what they can teach us about evangelism. I had to go to the same seminar twice as MC, which was on social media and sharing the gospel. This was actually genuinely fascinating. Beth Webb is doing a Masters at Moore College and she covered unexpected things like what our bodies have to do with evangelism (body language as ~85% of communication anyone?). One of the main points I am still thinking on a few weeks later is how she pointed out that as human beings we are limited in time and space as to who we can interact with, and social media appears to allow us to transcend that and be everywhere all the time, but that as humans we don’t always do this well, and that we shouldn’t actually be worried about the fact that we are limited in who we can meaningfully interact with and simply fully engage there. She also talked about what community has to do with evangelism and how people often belong before they believe, which can be hard to do on social media, and how social media conversations often only harden people in their original position rather than move them. All things to think about. That might all sound like it was against social media, which it wasn’t, but essentially the conclusion was that social media is most effective at making a first contact with people, and beyond that you will have to do the face-to-face and community engagement.

Then on 5th November I went to training in Pastoral Care, run by a Chaplain from the Wesley Mission in Sydney. This was so so good. There were basic instructions and even role playing in how to have a pastoral conversation, which was just so helpful. One of the most beneficial things was how she stressed that pastoral care is not counselling. You don’t have to get the person anywhere. What you are doing is listening and caring, and you can leave it there, without feeling like you are responsible for solving the issue or moving the person to another place (which isn’t going to happen until they feel heard and cared for anyway). I think people hesitate over pastoral care and entering the dramas of others because they don’t know what to DO, so it was liberating to realise that you don’t actually have to DO anything. You can simply listen and show you care, then maybe pray (which is where the ‘doing’ comes in) and that’s all.

In other news, I have been going a little mad with native plants in my courtyard (I have now instituted a plant-buying moratorium and a period of frugal living, because I got a little carried away and went on some kind of spending spree a while back – the extra bank account for books turned into the extra bank account for plants, but Spring will do that to you). I now have a selection of paper daisies in pots in different colours. I love them because they flower so profusely and the flowers last so long (and possums don’t eat them). I also have a native iris, a trigger plant and a cottonhead plant, for some variation of foliage structure.

I am currently reading a collection of short stories by Wendell Berry, called That Distant Land, about the same community of people in the novels of Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am a convert to Berry’s writing and his characters and his sense of community. I love those people like they’re family.

I’m also doing a music theory course online. In case you hadn’t noticed, I sort of dropped learning the guitar. But I think I started to get frustrated with it because I felt like I didn’t understand enough of what I was doing. Having only learnt a woodwind instrument, playing treble clef and doing no music theory, I did not get a good understanding of music as a whole (and the guitar was like starting again really because there is little overlap). So, I started at Grade 1 theory, which so far is like sucking eggs because I can actually read sheet music, but it has been a good refresher and will hopefully take me beyond what I know soon.

I have realised that I haven’t been on recreation leave at all this year, but only took the time off as personal leave back in August, so I am looking forward to having a holiday at some point (beyond the tour of the relatives at Christmas). The reality is that I had to take out a small loan to pay medical fees, which swallowed any holiday funds that may have existed, and once I knew I had to do that I just didn’t make any other plans, but I am hoping that by the second half of next year I can take a holiday (only I really need a new car, but I will get there eventually!).

The exciting thing is that they have given me a new hat at work, which is editor of the Anglican News, the newspaper of our Diocese. We are going to wind it back some and lower the bar of the one magnificent newspaper edition that came out earlier in the year to try to make it regular, but I am really excited about the opportunity and resurrecting some writing and editing work. I’m itching to get started but it’s been a little sidelined by an Ordination next weekend and meetings and documents we need to gather for professional standards matters.

That's most of the last month or so.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Reminding each other why it matters

I was messing about in youtube again the other day and discovered that Sara Groves eventually did post an official (pseudo) video to my favourite of her songs, Why it Matters, back in 2014. I first shared the lyrics of this one in 2007, then a youtube video someone put together in 2011, so I think it can come around again. It's basically a song telling us to remind each other of the gospel, so here is a five-year reminder.

I love it that she sings of our living, our thinking and creating, as our efforts of narrating about the beauty of The Beauty. (In another song she writes "this is grace, an invitation to be beautiful". That can be understood two ways I think - the grace of God washes away our sin and renders us beautiful in his eyes, through the work Jesus, but personally dispensing grace to others in our lives is also beautiful.)

Why It Matters 
by Sara Groves

Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that's been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters

Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters

Like a statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And it's protest of the darkness
And this chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters

Show me a love that never fails
Some compassion and attention
Midst confusion and dissension
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters

Like a single cup of water
How it matters

Sunday, October 09, 2016

On the therapeutic benefits and theological lessons of gardening

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

That is perhaps an overreaching blog post title. But Alistair recently shared this article from The Conversation on the therapeutic benefits of gardening, which I found fascinating – health, achievement, interpersonal skills, mental health, psychosocial functioning, existential purpose. You name it, gardening can benefit it.

For me gardening is also like having my own little sub-plot of a fallen world, as well as a living metaphor for sin. I can plant my plants or sow my seeds (I’ve tried growing some things from seed), and apply the water, but there are so many things beyond my control – the bug that got under the frost cloth and had a merry feast on my gardenia over winter, the fungus or mould that destroyed the silver falls, whatever it is that slowly killed the miniature roses (I think they got too wet and there was too much late coldness). Though, generally speaking, if you follow the instructions, things turn out well. It’s what the instructions are for. But then there’s the weeds! Oh, the weeds. They are very much like sin. Chickweed IS sin. Comes us everywhere. And you can’t possibly get all the tiny seedlings so you just aim for the big bits. But CS Lewis and Tim Keller and John Piper would be proud of me. To displace the chickweed, I am planting native groundcover flowers. Plants whose telos it is to be here. Plants that are the true meaning and purpose of gardens in Canberra. Leaving bare soil in a garden is like leaving your head empty for the devil to dance in. What is needed is that the soil is filled up with good and proper things. So I am ousting the weeds with native groundcovers. No more making mud pies, what I truly want is beds of flowers (and a holiday at the sea)!

Native plants also tend to thrive and have more to offer to local wildlife. They do better at serving and encouraging the good creatures around them. Make of that what you will.

(And since the miniature roses gave up the ghost I am replacing those with native everlasting daisies too. My natural resources degree has kicked in my environmental righteousness. Plus, while I particularly loved that yellow rose – I am sad about that one – roses in pots look like nothing in pots for months of the year, so I want less deciduous things.)

Saturday, October 01, 2016

How Great Thou Art - for gypsy hipsters

I really should write a thing, but for today here is a song. How Great Thou Art has always been a favourite, and I was humming away the other day so went looking for a good youtube. I started this one and thought, nope, that is not my sort of manly voice, but I let it run to the chorus and it got better. I love what the cello and double bass are doing (and the Gilbert-Blythe-esque cello player). The video is a little contrived, in a let’s-dress-up-like-peasant-hipsters-and-frolic-in-the-woods sort of way, but I kinda like it all the same (the irony is that they've left the 'When through the woods and forest glades I wander' verse out). If I get run over by a bus, you all have to sing this at my funeral – just so you know.

(I actually grew up singing the 'O Mighty God' version, which is quite different. It's another one of those hymns with many puzzling variations.)


Friday, September 23, 2016

A Friday Funny

You perhaps have to be a certain type of person to even appreciate this comic, but I thought it was one of the most hilarious things I've seen on the internet in a long time.

I have probably posted enough pictures of flowers here to reveal which type I actually am. At times I despair of my own lack of ambition, but I heartily concur with Monet who apparently said "I must have flowers, always, and always", and with that, I must have time for the flowers. Though I don't necessarily need cultivated flowers. Wild and untamed landscapes will do nicely.

I am still reading Tim Keller's devotions on the Psalms every morning on the bus, and recently it was Psalm 104, which tugs at my delight. Restoring and renewing the created world is something that moves me. (I know it doesn't move other people. I have met those people.)

I also need time for just being at home and reading and pondering and listening to music and inspecting the garden.

But for the Type As: you go you flower smelling champions! (I love that!) All power and achievement to you.

(I reserve my Type A-ness for silent frustration with people who just stand on and block escalators. There are no flowers to smell in shopping malls, especially when I am on a half hour lunch break. Keep moving or keep left people!)