Thursday, February 26, 2009

2008 Visitors' Honour Roll

These are our friends and family who travelled up to visit us last year. Some came more than once and from as far away as Albany and Dunsborough. We're hoping for more visits from these people this year as well as others who are yet to make the three hour trek (if coming from Perth).
First up were Duncan's parents in May (we didn't get a photo though).

Then my parents in May/June.

Jill in June.

Dave, Walker, Clayton, Fang and Lucy in June.

Dunc's Uncle Doug, Auntie Jen and his parents in September.

The twins cutting the birthday cake I made for them

Craig and Sarah in September.

Getting ready for our annual tennis match.

Sarah pulled out injured and Craig beat us all on his own.

The scoreline was 6-3 :(

Rianna in October.

Sarah in October/November.

Alison in November.
Then we had Clayton and Dave again.
Who will be a part of the 2009 honour roll? We will wait and see......

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Down Down Down....Then Slowly Up

I've written about being down before but last weekend was the pits. I really did feel like I was in a slimy pit and every time I'd try to climb out of it, I'd slide back down again. It was easier to just give up and wallow in my misery.

I don't know why but perhaps my surgery being cancelled was the last straw and I spent most of the weekend in a rage or constantly crying....then I'd distract myself and then cry again. I couldn't stop and I didn't know why.

The last place I felt like going was church so I stayed at home, especially since it was a combined service at the Anglican church and all the creed reading and 'peace to you and you and you' greetings really get my goat. It's so fake and ritualistic and I didn't want to be somewhere where I felt like I had to wear a mask.

So for the whole weekend I was angry and sad, then sad and angry and frustrated that it wouldn't stop and I didn't have a concrete reason for being this way (such as someone dying). I couldn't sleep, I couldn't breathe properly (it just felt like I was panicking for no reason all the time) and I couldn't concentrate on a task. I felt so spiritually dry and annoyed at God so I was even considering cancelling my registration for Cornerstone this weekend because who wants to be among a couple of hundred happy clappy young Christians when you're down? I'm hoping I can be really happy happy joy joy by this weekend because I was really looking forward to the camp.

Yesterday was a much better day. Today was a good day too. I'm grateful that we worship a forgiving God who's not ready to give up on me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Get On Your Soapbox #12

I am so flippin' mad right now, I am trying my hardest not to use really bad language in this post but I am sorely tempted....

Today, Duncan and I travelled down to Perth for a day trip because I was booked in to have minor surgery on my face at 3pm. I saw a dermatologist in December about a cyst near my right ear which is growing and causing numbness and a tingly feeling off and on down the right side of my face. Last month I made the appointment to have it removed, was clearly told 3pm and I wrote it down in my diary straight away.

So today we rock up only to be told by some snobby admin chick that I missed my surgery because the appointment was booked for 2pm. I said no, I was told 3pm. I had to tell them that about three times for them to get the message, they kept acting like it was my fault. Then they said that the surgeon had gone home and I wouldn't be able to get another appointment for another month!

To say I was pissed off was an understatement. I repeated that I was clearly told 3pm and that we were from the country, had travelled down especially for this appointment and can't just go to Perth all the time. They didn't even apologise, they just said that a 3pm appointment never existed! I mean, what if I was from Broome and had paid hundreds of dollars to fly down only to be sent home again with nothing and they didn't even give me a cruddy apology. We had no choice but to go home and I was so angry I really wanted to strangle that stupid chick behind the desk because she didn't seem to care that country people keep getting crapped on. The day was a waste of petrol, time and money. We can't even say we had a good time during the day because we didn't. Our time was spent running around doing a few errands before heading to the appointment. Duncan had to give up a day of work to take me down.

I am so sick of incompetent admin staff! Lately I've been double booked or given a wrong time a few times now and I'm tired of just putting up with it. As soon as we left the medical centre, I burst into tears and cried pretty much all of the way home. I really dread any kind of surgery and had been psyching myself up and praying about it for weeks, knowing I needed to trust God and the surgeon and that I needed to be brave. After all that, I'm no closer to getting the jolly thing removed and now I have to wait another month before going through it all again.

I want to take this further. We don't live five minutes down the road and I want to let them know I'm not happy with the treatment I received and that I want to make an official complaint. But how do I go about it? Do I just write a letter? Is there any organisation you can go to to demand compensation? I mean, I think I should get a discount off my surgery because of the inconvenience. But how do I know whether I'm entitled to anything?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hobby Horses and Secret Struggles

Rodney from The Journey blog has written a good post in which he links to another blogger who reckons the things we are most passionate about are the things we are secretly struggling with. You can read it here. He uses several high profile preachers as examples of how often the topics a preacher most regularly preaches about are those that they are dealing with in their own lives. Do you agree? Are your hobby horses and rants the things which you wrestle with?

I agree partly. I think some people do this...but I'm not one of them. The things I've most passionately ranted about on my blog such as RSVPS and money management are not things I'm struggling with. In fact, I find them easy. I rant about those things because I've been hurt by those who are bad in these areas. I'm reacting out of hurt and a hope that if they listen to me or read what I write, they might know that it's a big deal to me because they sure don't seem to think so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Get On Your Soapbox #11

Grrr it is time for a rant!

We have had no power for the past 22 hours and it's only just come back on. During that time we have called Western Power or whatever they're called now relentlessly to report it only to be told that there is no problem. Well duh! Don't they think we know we notice when all our labour-saving devices and electronic creature comforts suddenly come to a halt? Then we were told it'd be fixed by 11am today. Then they said midday. Then 5pm.

It's not only our house, both our neighbours have been without power too, including Brad and Hayley who are away on holidays. So Dunc had to set up the generators to keep the fridge and chest freezer going.

Yeah I know we're too dependent on electricity. Yeah I'm grateful that it's back on. Yeah we didn't suffer apart from a sleepless night cos it was so hot without aircon. Yeah I know people did it tough before aircon was invented. Well, good for them!

But the whole time we were contacting Western Power, we were getting the vibe that we weren't worth their worry because we're out in the country. They probably think that if we're a bunch of hobos living in woop-woop then this is what we can expect. I bet if it were a few city slickers whinging their pretty little butts off, they'd jump to help.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Funny

This is the funniest video ever. Sorry Kiwis....but it is hehehe :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wedding 7 2008

This was the last wedding we attended in 2008. Number 7 for the year. Number 14 for me over the past two years. This time it was David and Brooke's turn on the 22nd November at Subi Church of Christ and it was followed by an afternoon tea reception at Matilda Bay. David is friend of Duncan's from Busselton. Unfortunately there was some rain but it cleared just in time for their professional photos.

It looks like we will be going to NO weddings this year! We hardly know of anyone who's even dating at the moment. But then things can change in the blink of an eye. I hope so. What on earth would I do with myself if I didn't go to weddings? ;)

Brooke and her stepdad coming down the aisle.



Signing the register.

David's dad's speech.

The happy couple.
Brooke's bouquet.
The couple's speech.
The wedding was during Movember ;)
Leighton and Hannah from Wedding 1 with their honeymoon baby, Joshua.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lesson 7 from Sarah's School of Dating

I can see you all peeing from excitement that I have written the next installment in this series ;)

In my previous lesson, I discussed important factors to consider for a single Christian seeking a godly Christian spouse. It seems that the essential ones are for your potential spouse to be of the opposite sex, free to marry (ie. not already married), Christian and not a blood relative (despite it sounding weird, it IS ok for stepsiblings to marry each other).

However once you've ruled out anyone who doesn't meet those criteria, it still leaves a heck of a lot of people. I remember once sitting in a lecture theatre at uni while the Christian Union had their weekly Bible talk. There were a LOT of single guys there and potentially I could have married any of them (as long as they were willing to marry me of course). And I did meet quite a few guys who had that idea; that is, they wanted to get married and didn't see 'secondary factors' as a big deal. They didn't care if their wife wasn't into soccer like they were, they just thought it was important that she be Christian and keen to serve the Lord.....and that's it.

For me, as a young Christian, this was scary stuff to hear. Having grown up with a non Christian dating mindset, I saw 'secondary factors' such as family background, ethnicity/culture, hobbies/interests, age and denomination as having the utmost importance. I didn't think both spouses being Christian was enough and I still don't really. Sure it is one of the most IMPORTANT things but it's not the only thing. If you have nothing in common outside of being Christian, then what on earth are you going to spend your time doing together? When the initial passion of marriage fades a little, do you still have a friendship as well as a marriage?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you need to marry someone who is an exact clone of yourself but of the opposite sex. Differences are good as long as the couple aren't blase about them and are willing to face and work through them. I think you still need to have stuff in common and be willing to move in the same direction. By that I mean you desire to walk along a common path. For example, it would create problems if one partner wanted to be a missionary in China and the other wanted to stay in Australia. As I've found just in 10 months of marriage, sometimes you need to be willing to hand over the cherished dreams you had when you were single and be willing to create new dreams and directions together with your spouse.

I think many people are single today because they have very rigid ideas of what their future spouse will be like and refuse to sway from them. I know deep down many of us have a 'list' containing the qualities we would like in a life partner....I did. But it annoys me when people are too open about their lists and it just ends up making others feel they aren't good enough, that they don't measure up to this person's ideals so they move on to look elsewhere. Before I met Duncan, I did have qualities I wanted in a life partner but I tried to keep them general and kept in mind that God knows best and I needed to be open to his leading. I used to get so turned off by guys who had a 10 year plan and bluntly stated that they wanted a woman who would fit into their plan. It's fine to have goals and a clear idea about how you want to serve God but you also need to consider that if you marry, your spouse will also have their dreams and I think it's selfish to just expect someone else to fit the picture of your ideal partner. God may just provide the person you always hoped for but I think you need to be open and prayerful about where God will lead you.

I will share some of things I had on my list of qualities in a life partner:
  • A desire to grow in love and knowledge of God. Not puffed up in arrogance or looking down on others who know less.
  • Accepting of my desire to write books.
  • Encouraging and generous with their time and money but also someone with firm boundaries.
  • Someone I could be open with, sharing my dreams and fears with and knowing they wouldn't laugh or judge me.
  • Someone who wouldn't expect me to be something I'm not or fulfil a certain stereotypical role. I had issues about marrying men who were leaders in ministry because I knew I'd never be able to be the type of pastor's wife that so many people would expect.
  • Able to look after himself, cook basic meals, keep his house clean etc. After student housing there was no way I was going to marry a feral bloke who would expect me to clean up after him. I like guys whose mothers have trained them to look after themselves so even if they are lifelong bachelors, they can cook more than two-minute noodles once in a while.
  • Wise in the way they use their money. Not a materialistic spendthrift.
  • On a more superficial level, I did hope they would be an Eagles' supporter or at least a fence-sitter (it makes things MUCH easier hehe). I always did have a thing for sporty guys. It must be from growing up in the country.
  • Someone who has respect for the law ie. not doing stupid things like drag-racing or burning CDs and thinking there's nothing wrong with it.
  • Likes animals and doesn't think it's funny to be cruel to them.
  • Willing to have children one day.

That's as much as I can think of at the moment. Remember, singleness and dating is a time for evaluating potential partners. If you decide the differences are too great to work through, don't feel you have to because others have managed to work through the exact same problems and have a fabulous marriage. You are under no obligation to marry anyone. For example, I know someone who said he couldn't marry someone who has a mental illness (he has his reasons and it's not because he's mentally ill). There is no shame in being honest, even if it does sound hurtful. Of course, it would be completely different if one spouse was to become ill after they were married because we vow to love in sickness AND in health. If you're someone who is ill, old, has children from a prior relationship or anything else that makes you think that no-one will ever want to marry you, please don't believe this. God is indeed mighty enough to bring someone into your life who will accept you in your circumstances.

Now that you've read my 'list', I'd like to read yours. If you're single, what secondary factors are you looking for in a potential spouse? If you're married, what did you look for and does your spouse have all of those qualities? Remember this blog has jack all readers anyway, so feel free to be honest ;)

Monday, February 09, 2009

The New Middomobile

Duncan and I spent a week in Dunsborough a few weeks ago and while we were there we headed over to Margaret River for an arvo to catch up with Middo and sell him Duncan's (or OUR) Vectra. Then he took us for a spin in his 'new' car ;). We now have a second-hand Commodore wagon.

Here are some pics of Middo with his new beast. Hope it behaves itself for him.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

From Head to Hand: Plot

I have been told that there are two types of fiction writers. Those who create marvellous and complex characters and then create a story around them. And those who create a marvellous plot first and then form the characters who will feature in it. I was also told that there is no right or wrong here. Both are acceptable ways to write. If you've ever written any fiction, think back and determine which one you are.

Personally, I'm a plot writer first. I think of a storyline and some vague outlines for characters and the characters' personalities gradually become more complex in my head and also as I write. In my view, here are the pros and cons of each.

Pros - You end up with three-dimensional, interesting characters because you have taken the time to carefully formulate them.
Cons - You can end up with a plot that doesn't really go anywhere and exists merely for the chance to show off your characters.

Pros - You can end up with a complex, ripping yarn that takes your readers on a wild adventure.
Cons - You can end up with 'wooden characters' who you haven't really taken the time to develop because you were so focused on creating a the twists and turns in the plot.

I think most writers tend to be one or the other. I know I have to be careful to make my characters seem real to the reader. The book I'm writing is so long with little subplots here and there, I don't want to fall into the trap of creating characters who don't really have much purpose in the narrative.

Another 'golden rule' that was pushed onto me at uni was to write about what you know. In other words, don't try to be too imaginative and write about situations that you have no experience in. Get inspiration from your own life or the lives of others close to you and create characters based on those you know. This is codswallop in my opinion. While some people do lead very interesting lives which would make great reading, I think some people are also right when they say that their lives are very boring. If everyone wrote about what they knew then who would write historical fiction, period pieces, fantasy, sci-fi etc? A lot of authors out there write about people living centuries before then and they rely on research for historical accuracy. Even if they were inaccurate, none of us were alive back then to protest anyway. My book is nearly ALL beyond my experience. I have had to rely on research and I hope to get some people who have experiences in areas that I don't to read my manuscript and give it an honest assessment. Many movies and books are scrutinised by those who are experts in the field but in the end you have to ask what the main goal of writing fiction is. I suspect it is entertainment. Think of some popular Aussie TV shows. Doctors and nurses will always criticise All Saints, homicide detectives will scrutinise City Homicide and farmers love to poke fun at all the glamorous women on McLeod's Daughters. But these shows continue to pull viewers because of the entertainment value they offer.

Don't be afraid to write beyond your experience. Take your readers on a grand adventure that hooks them from the start. Research, research, research and call on the life experience of those you know.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New Year's 2008/09

We spent New Year's Eve in Perth with friends, having a quiet barbie and avoiding the yobbos who were bound to be out and about in the nightspots. Dunc drove to Perth to meet me there once harvest was over and we spent a quiet couple of days there before heading home.

Jen and Terios

Sarah, Sam and I

Joel and Chaminda

Jane and Terios


Two old farts not sure if they'll make it to midnight.
Lighting sparklers. Welcome 2009!
More sparklers and party poppers.
Jill with sparklers.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Hey! DON'T Check Out My Blog!

You may be thinking that this is a rather odd title for my post considering I nearly almost retired this blog due to a lack of readers.

However I think many bloggers out there feel the tension between wanting some readers and yet not wanting others. I will explain....

When I first started this blog back in June 2006, I was extremely wary of sharing the URL with some people that I know in the 'real world'. The reason I know I'm not the first blogger to feel this way is that I have found and read the blogs of others I know in the 'real world' even though they did not tell me where it was. If they wanted me to read it, surely they would have shared the URL. The fact that they didn't seems to indicate that they like to blog in as much secrecy as the net will allow. And sure enough I have read blogs which contain some rather unsavoury things that are obviously about particular mutual acquaintances of ours.

I don't blog so I can bitch dramatically about friends and family on the internet. Rather I intend to share about general joys and problems that I experience. Even though I have realised that I cannot have everyone I know reading my blog. In order for me to enjoy blogging I need to be honest. Otherwise what's the point? I could build up a fake persona online and brag about how perfect my life is but I would much rather be real and hopefully help a reader along the way.

But some people I know are far too argumentative and if I am to voice my opinion on a certain issue then I'd never hear the end of it if they disagree. I'm fine with people disagreeing but it really gets my goat when people leave controversial anonymous comments. If people want to be anonymous that's fine but if you've got something confronting to say, then say it but at least have the guts to put your name.

So how can you limit who finds your blog? Well, it's on the net for a start so the potential is there for anyone to find it when just a random Google search can pull up any number of blogs. But you can be careful about what names, words and phrases you use in your posts. Here's what NOT to put.
  • Your full name. Yes, people do get bored and Google their friends' names. If someone searches for "Joe Bloggs" and that's your blogger username, then chances are they'll find your blog. That's why I'm just 'Sarah' and I also don't put my surname for security reasons.
  • Your workplace. Yep, your workmates could get bored too.
  • Your church or any small group you belong to. For example, 'Salvation Army' would be fairly safe as that's a huge organisation but 'Fremantle Anglican Church' is much more specific.
  • If you want to read others' blogs secretly, then don't link to them from your blog. Otherwise they can just go to Technorati and see who is linking to them.

A lot of people have found my blog through Duncan's because he linked to mine and then sent out a mass email telling everyone that he'd started a blog. At first I was like "Noooooooooo" but now I don't mind people reading as long as they are prepared for posts that they might not like. If people randomly find my blog I don't mind but I do ask all my readers NOT to share the URL with everyone they know. Yes, it's on the internet and chances are they could find it anyway but I'd rather people randomly find it. I'll do my advertising myself.

Oh and it's a lot of fun seeing what people are Googling when they randomly end up on your blog. I might just have to make a list someday.