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!)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Looking for contentment

Contentment can be a word you get very accustomed to hearing as a single person. So I found this article on what precisely it is helpful.

(Then I got to thinking that the very fact that we more often charge one group of people in a particular set circumstances, namely the never married singles, with the command to be content, could perhaps indicate that we've all misunderstood it - because surely if married folks are considered more likely to be, or actually are more, content, based on being in the circumstance of being married, then perhaps that would mean they haven't learnt the secret of biblical contentment either. I'm not denying that single people can be discontent, very discontent, but just that married people shouldn't be content because they are married (or assumed in sermons to be more content because they are married) either, and that we are perhaps not doing the right thing, or the helpful thing, when we talk about contentment in connection with any particular set of circumstances (when the point Paul makes is that it's independent of circumstances!).)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Back on the road

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

You could rename this blog ‘reasons why Ali is tired right now’ of late. But, boy, did the first two weeks back at work bore the weariness right into me. In them there were two extra evening meetings that went late, a farewell dinner for a colleague of sorts, my turn to cook dinner for 14 bible in my bible study group (plus visiting missionaries) and then it all culminated in our annual Diocesan Synod, which involves a weekend away in Goulburn staging a conference for over 300 people (it runs Friday afternoon to Sunday lunch time – if you’re lucky), where apart from going back to the motel to sleep you’re working. Then on the Monday just gone after Synod I had to drive to Sydney and back for a follow-up appointment with the surgeon. Soooo tired.

(I had to stop several times on the way back from Sydney to stay awake, which is when I snapped the picture of Lake George above with water in it.)

But everything went well. It was the third session of the three-year cycle of Synod, which is not so hectic, and it ran smoothly. The biggest challenge for me is our Chancellor’s handwriting. He gives me answers to questions scratched out on pieces of paper and it’s my job to decipher his microscopic cursive and type them to go up on the screen. He also happens to be a Supreme Court Judge and funnily enough I used to edit his court judgment reports in my previous job, so life comes around and back at you in strange ways.

The appointment with the surgeon went well and all things were benign (I knew I would have heard before now if they weren’t but it was nice to have that confirmed). I have a talent crush. The procedure I had to undergo is considered ‘technically challenging’ and not to be undertaken by an inexperienced surgeon. Further, the FDA in the States issued a warning against it, prompted by one particularly litigious case, which is why they don’t do it in Canberra, but this surgeon has developed a technique to address the warning (even though he considers the risk in itself to be overrated), which he applied to me given my somewhat abnormal second ultrasound. I’m in awe of what he was able to do and how he was able to do it. And I have bigger, messier evidence from a GP removing a BCC. Even the anaesthetic nurse told me, as I waited in the little room before you go into the actual theatre, that ‘he’s really good – he’s the best in NSW’, which was excellent to hear about two minutes before I was unconscious.

I’ve also called it that he is one of the nicest men on earth. He was just so kind to me, both in the initial appointment and then before the surgery, when he took my hand between both of his and apologised for the long wait and explained to me that I was young (told you he was a nice fellow!) and it was unlikely but that he’d do his fancy thing to guard against spreading any cancer. Then he came to see me before 8 am the next morning even though he delivered his last patient to recovery after 11 pm the previous night (I gather that myself and the patient before me took a bit longer than expected). The consultant anaesthetist, who was also a very nice man, came to see me even earlier the next morning as well. I take my hat off to these people who consider 15 hours of complicated surgery or life-risking anaesthesia all in a day’s work, and manage to be nice about it. I wanted to give the surgeon something as a token of thanks, and figured he probably didn’t need anything money could buy, so I made him some crocheted wrist-warmers, which I handed over with some embarrassment at the end of my follow-up appt, thinking he might find them rather pathetic and probably received expensive gifts from rich people all the time, then I made a slightly awkward exit. The receptionist looked at the screen and told me there was no charge for my appt so I went on my way in surprise, then as I hit the lifts my phone is ringing and it’s the doctor’s rooms and I’m thinking they are probably calling me to go back to pay, but it’s the surgeon himself and he’s calling to thank me for the card and the wrist warmers and saying ‘and you made these yourself?’ and going on about how much he appreciates them and thanking me several times (it was a strange reversal that rendered me kind of speechless) and wishing me a safe trip home ... And that is why I've decided he’s one of the nicest men on earth. I'm very thankful to God for the skill he gave the surgeon and for happening upon his name, when I really had no idea.

Meanwhile I’ve come home with four pages of coloured photos of what happened to my insides, which, having screwed my face up at them sufficiently, I think I am just going to hide in the filing cabinet.

In other news, I was being optimistic about the future, and I ordered my first ever pair of compression shorts for running. I wondered whether they’d make any difference to some of my postural and hip flexor issues, and after speaking to a Bishop who was once a physiotherapist and athlete who told me he was a fan that was all the justification I needed to spend the money, so I now have some super-duper running gear, which I have never owned even though I’ve been at it for years. But I wouldn’t be seen dead running in just lycra skins (I’ve seen what that looks like that from behind) so I have ones with a nice little skirt over the top - a running skort if you will. My new t-shirt even matches. I’ve now just got to make a concerted effort to get myself back to somewhere near where I was before I tore my calf muscle last year and then had the surgery etc. I’m writing this here as extra motivation. But first I just need a good sleep-in.

I didn’t do nearly as much reading in the time off as I thought I might, but hopefully I will come back to that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The return of the crochet rug

I’m enjoying the time I’m having at home to recover I must say. At times I have felt like a sook for not being at work, but the reality is that while I can get out and about, and do some things within reason, an 8am to 6pm day at work without the capacity for a nap in the middle would wipe me out at this point, and I’m going to have to start trying to get up earlier if I am going to manage the return to work next week.

One thing I have done in my time off is finish a crochet rug that’s taken almost three years. I used to live in Sydney near King St Newtown, one of Sydney’s more famous streets, and on it was a Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul charity shop) and one day I went in and found two bags of a peppercorn-coloured Morris and Sons Woollahra yarn going for $15 total ($1 a ball) when it is normally $10.95 per ball. So of course I bought it. Then my lovely friend Cath and family gave me a voucher for the Morris and Sons shop (which was also on King St) for my birthday that year, with which I bought some extra balls and the Cranberry yarn to finish it off. So the idea was born for this, named the King St Rug (the irony is that it is not nearly eccentric enough for King St, being probably the most “conservative” rug I have made, where a true loud and clashing granny rug would be more in vogue). I think I started it while I still lived in Sydney, then moved interstate and got a new job and continued freelance work and then took up youth group and so on and so it has languished away. For all it is supposedly a luxury yarn (85% wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere), I did not find it easy to work with – it sort of gripped the hook and the thickness was not even (it's not spun very much, if that makes sense) and it also breaks quite easily – and without any colour change milestones I ran out of momentum at times. But with this time off I decided to slog through the last seven or so balls of yarn to finish it. Then I had to grit my teeth and weave in all the ends, which is always a test of my capacity to finish what I started and execute my own ideas. But here, finally, it is.

I've been a bit flabbergasted with the Instagram and Facebook response given it's so simple, so I'll include that picture, plus the unfiltered versions.

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

Friday, August 19, 2016

John Cleese and the Sehnsucht in music and art

I do believe John Cleese has felt the Sehnsucht. When asked by Margaret Throsby of ABC Classic FM why Mascagni’s Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana made him cry he says “it’s almost as though there’s a promise of something better”. Then I love it when he says 'the definition of great art for me isn’t a verbal one, it’s does it really touch something in you that you can’t quite explain'. Yes. Boo to all the art bollocks.

Mascagni’s Easter Hymn doesn’t really do it for me, but the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana does – from 1.35 mins on in that youtube – le sigh. Or Rachmaninov’s Vespers, for something more similar to Easter Hymn.

I listened to the whole of the interview with John Cleese here and quite enjoyed it. He answers such questions as 'are you ever incandescently happy' (from 49.35 minutes on) which he answers along the lines of keeping your pleasures simple etc.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The oldest nephew

This poor child's life is never going to be the same again, after a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, but the other afternoon he came over and played in my little courtyard with my pegs and old smurfs.

How I love this boy - he can be challenging at times, but he's right up under my skin. When he loves a thing, he really loves a thing.

I'm going to learn how to do the insulin calculations and injections as back-up - yikes!

Latest song/video obsession

For reasons I might struggle to articulate I keep wanting to listen to and watch this video clip from The Lumineers. It's no Bob Dylan, but some of the lyrics remind me of what (little) I know of him. I particularly like this bit: 'But I've read this script and the costume fits, so I'll play my part.'