Monday, May 31, 2010

Marriage 101: The Other Side

One of the exciting things about getting married is that it opens doors to having more people in your life which you'll hopefully have treasured relationships with.  I look back now and think of all the people I've met through Duncan, who I didn't know three and a half years ago.

Unfortunately this can also be one of the downsides...

When I was single, it seemed like a neverending battle to maintain strong relationships with my family and friends.  Distance and lack of time posed as problems.  I have a small family, but even then it was hard to find time to see them regularly.

Now that I've married into a HUGE family, it feels like I'm drowning.  Duncan's family keeps in touch with all of their distant relatives (great aunts, third cousins etc), and now there are more people to catch up with....and less time.  Plus we've got to throw all our friends into the mix, it's no wonder we often feel time poor.

We only have so much room in our lives to build meaningful relationships so something's got to give.  Over time, we've found some relationships have grown stronger and others have waned.  Sometimes this is due to distance, but often it's because we're learning how to relate to our loved ones as a couple.  Being married doesn't solve all of your social problems; it just gives you new ones.  Yes, you have a partner to accompany you to things, but you also get invited to twice as many events, and then you have to choose.

Being introduced to the 'other side' is quite a scary business.  I found myself wondering if they'd like me and accept me into the fold, and Duncan has wondered the same about my family and friends.  Most people have been great.  I'm grateful to some of Duncan's family, especially some of his cousins, who have gone out of their way to befriend me and make me feel welcome.  Sometimes this has been done by Facebook, such as sending me messages, asking questions about myself.  Now some people would probably find this nosey and get defensive, but I like it that people have shown such a genuine interest, and I appreciate their efforts and try to respond as well as I can.

But there will always be a few people you just don't click with.  It's not that these people are nasty, but sometimes there is a personality clash, or they don't seem to take much of an interest in getting to know Duncan or myself (depending on which side they're from).  Often we've gone to catch up with a friend or family member and one of us has been bored out of our brain.  I especially struggle with being stuck in a social situation with a shy person because I struggle with shyness myself, yet I'm asking questions and trying to initiate a conversation only to be grunted at.  I've told Duncan I especially enjoy hanging out with his friends who have loud, effervescent personalities.  It makes it so much easier to keep a conversation going when that person is interested in what you have to say and eager to chat.  Honestly, I could chat to some of Duncan's friends and family all day, they are that engaging.  And on the other side, I love the way Duncan has adopted my Nan as his own, and stirs her up whenever he can (he can do no wrong in her eyes).

When it comes to those we don't get on so well, we have found we need to strike a balance between honesty and grace.  We have to tell each other when we don't particularly get on well with someone, and would prefer to spend less time with them because they make us feel uncomfortable, or that they just won't talk to us.  But we can't just shoot each other's family and friends down because that makes us angry and defensive at each other.  Duncan has told me that while he gets on well with the majority of my side, there are others he battles with because they talk only to me and ignore him, and I've felt the same about some of his side.  Yet, I need to understand that some people are very important to Duncan and I need to make an effort because I'm his wife (and vice versa).  It's too easy to just catch up with mutual friends and we've already fallen into this trap a bit.  We've started to learn that we need to keep other important relationships alive too.

Sometimes it's hard to make an effort, and occasionally I've gotten 'bad vibes' from some people, like they don't really think that much of me, or think I'm not good enough for Duncan.  I'm hoping I've totally misread them because it does make me feel quite uncomfortable.  I heard ages ago that one person thought that because Duncan and I went out dancing after our engagement party, that he was being lead astray from Jesus.  As you can imagine, I was pretty livid when it got back to me, and I felt my hackles rising at being judged like this by someone who hardly knew me.  It was like they were accusing me of being an evil Jezebel who was leading dear, sweet little Duncan astray.  I'm grateful for people who set things straight.  Sometimes pure acceptance with no strings attached is very difficult to find.

We both know we've got to keep things in perspective, and that although the majority we get on very well with, there are others we will need to make an effort with out of our love for each other.  Yet, we also need to listen to each other if someone is making us feel particularly uncomfortable or is a really bad influence.

If you're married or in a long-term relationship, please share your experiences.  Do you get on well with your spouse/partner's friends and family?  How well do you do at negotiating who to see and how often?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Guess Who's 27 on Sunday.....


This is a blast from the past!  Here I am playing the chocolate game at my thirteenth birthday party in 1996.

That's me on the far right if you can't tell.  Yes, one of the best things I've ever done is get rid of that disgusting fringe!

I can't believe this was 14 years ago.  Scary!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5 Tips For Tipsters

Attention all AFL fans!  How are you going with your footy tips this year?

Tipping for money doesn't sit well with my conscience.  I used to do it at my old workplace, but I felt God convicting me that it wasn't a wise use of money.  Last year I joined Rodney from The Journey's online footy tipping competition, and I think I finished on top.  There is no money involved, but this year Rodney is going to offer a prize.  Too bad I'm not doing nearly so well this year!

Here are my five top tips for tipsters:

1.  Consider factors such as injuries, hoodoo grounds, losing streaks, head-to-head records and current odds.
2.  Don't automatically tip your favourite team (yes, I tip against my Eagles, and sometimes they prove me wrong...doh!)  Go with your head and not with your heart.
3.  When in doubt, tip the home team.
4.  When in doubt, go with your gut.
5.  Don't tip a roughy/smokey each week.  Upsets do happen, but more often than not, results are what was expected.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Host Etiquette

Since we've been married, Duncan and I have had our fair share of opportunities to play host to a number of different guests in our little cottage.  Although we are starting to become seasoned veterans, we are always on the lookout to improve our hosting skills.  And how can we do this?  By being guests in other people's houses and learning what should and shouldn't be done when rolling out the welcome mat.

Here are some of the expectations we place upon ourselves when expecting visitors:
  • We will make sure we have enough food in the house.
  • We will cook meals for them and not expect them to pay to go out for dinner at the pub or motel when they may be on a tight budget.
  • We will make sure the house is clean.
  • We will not invite more people than we can sleep comfortably in our house.
  • We will consider those with 'special requirements'.  This means I will cook a vegetarian dish if a guest is a vegetarian, or I will put Ebony outside and rid the house of cat hair if someone is allergic to cats.
  • We will show them a bit of what our life is like up here ie. inviting them to church, taking them on a tour of the farm, taking them into town on a Saturday morning etc.
  • We will give them the opportunity to just put their feet up and relax and not inundate them with 'activities'.
  • We will switch our airconditioning on for them in summer (I've stayed with some people in summer who have aircon but never switch it on, and I'm sitting there having a bath in my own sweat.  How stingy can you get?)
While I enjoy hosting friends and family and sharing a bit of our lives with them, I do have my limits.  Hence, I will NOT do the following:
  • Mollify people who just want to complain that our place isn't like Perth.
  • Buy lots of 'entertainment' for bored people.  No, we are not buying a Wii, we are not providing heaps of toys for your kids (I have one bag of op shop toys and some craft supplies, but that's it).  If you want something in particular, you have to bring it yourself.
  • Listen to criticism about the size of our house (we did warn you).
  • Go out of my way for people with upmarket tastes ie. people who only drink one brand of coffee.  We have most food items here, but if you're going to be a snob, then you bring your own (see second dot point).
I think we all have expectations of our hosts, and of ourselves when we're wearing the hosting cap.  Sometimes these expectations are realistic, sometimes they're not.  I understand that some people are in different stages of life; for example, if you're staying with people who have young children, you can't expect a pristine house.  I don't want my hosts to put on a grand show for me, but if they're not going to bother to spend any time with me, then I do wonder why they invited me in the first place.  Some people are probably going to be offended at this, but when I stay with someone, I expect them to offer me a meal, or at least have a few slices of bread and some milk available so I can make something myself.  I've stayed with some people and opened their fridge, and I swear there is nothing edible in it.  It costs me so much money to stay with some people because I have to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day that I'm there.  When I ask them if they have a slice of bread so I can make some toast, they reply airily, "Oh I don't eat breakfast...or I go to Hungry Jack's on the way to work...or I just have a coffee and a smoke."  I will never understand people who don't eat breakfast, or do not have something other than the light in their fridge.  I'm on a budget so I can't afford to eat out all the time.  But some people don't even consider cooking a meal, they just say, "Oh, let's just go out for dinner" (again!)  Great, that's another $30 down the drain!

Don't invite people if you can't provide the basics.  I don't expect a family in a two-bedroom apartment to offer to host me.  I think the people who should be offering are those with spare rooms who can have guests without having ten people squished in their loungeroom.

If you'd like to be our guest,
We will try our very best,
To make your stay simply grand,
Out here in this spacious land.

But while we'll try to meet your needs,
Your wants are another thing indeed.
Don't bring a desire to complain,
And you'll leave feeling much more sane.

So if you'd like to be a host,
At least offer your guests some toast.
Provide the basics, not a banquet hall.
Or don't invite guests at all.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Belle in Beauty and the Beast

While part of me enjoys the simple life, the other half yearns for an amazing adventure.  Perhaps that's why I can relate to Belle's song in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  I'm not someone who could be born in one place, live there my whole life, and then die there.  It's not about wanting to travel; it's about wanting to...actually I don't really know.  It's a kind of restlessness that makes me want to move on to the next thing, but knowing I need to remember that everything happens at the right time, and I need to enjoy this moment right now.  Maybe God hasn't given me my big adventure yet because he knows I might not be able to handle the stress?  Oh day perhaps...

Little town.
It's a quiet village.
Ev'ry day,
Like the one before.
Little town,
Full of little people

There goes the baker with his tray, like always,
The same old bread and rolls to sell.
Ev'ry morning just the same,
Since the morning that we came,
To this poor provincial town.

I want much more than this provincial life.
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.
I want it more than I can tell.
And for once it might be grand,

To have someone understand,
I want so much more than they've got planned.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From Head to Hand: The End!

Starting a story is easy.

Ending it is much harder.

When I read a book, I want the ending to be realistic yet fulfilling.  The schmaltzy Hollywood conclusions where everyone lives happily ever after only do so much for me.  But, on the other hand, I don't like endings that are too random or just plain miserable.  Novel reading is meant to offer a sense of escapism after all, and I don't want to be reminded too much of the stark realities of life.

For a long time I toyed with two possible endings for my book.  One is happier, but still has its downsides.  It's positive, but not perfect.  I think most readers will feel fulfilled, but still not have everything happen that they may have liked.  The other ending would have thrown some readers a bit more, and I think some may have been disappointed.  Therefore, I decided on the first ending.

I've watched a fair few movies in recent years with somewhat random endings.  Without warning, the credits started rolling, and I was left staring at the TV screen wondering, "Is that it?"  In my view, you can't just stop a storyline out of nowhere with no form of resolution and expect audience/reader satisfaction.

A silly ending can really ruin an otherwise good story, and then the reader is not going to remember the fabulous twists and turns in the plot; they will only remember the ridiculous conclusion which sunk the whole storyline.  I remember a few years back I was watching the Australian movie Lantana, and was completely fascinated by the mystery in the storyline, wondering how on earth such a great plot was going to resolve itself, only to be disappointed by the completely lame ending.  If you're writing a piece of fiction, I suggest you have a clear view of the plot from start to finish, and how it is going to end.  Writing with no real direction risks a dumb ending that can change an otherwise positive view of your work.

How about you?  If you've written any fiction, did you find it easy to end your work?  If you're a reader, what sort of endings satisfy you?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Give Me The Simple Life by Steve Tyrell

Here is a song which describes one half of me as I wrote about in The Pendulum: Do I Stay or Do I Go Now?  I love the fact that, although still busy, my life no longer feels like an out-of-control rollercoaster the way it did in Perth.  On one hand, I do really enjoy and yearn for the simple life.

I don't believe in frettin' and grievin';
Why mess around with strife?
I never was cut out to step and strut out.
Give me the simple life.

Some find it pleasant dining on pheasant.
Those things roll off my knife.
Just serve me tomatoes and mashed potatoes.
Give me the simple life.

A cottage small is all I'm after;
Not one that's spacious and wide.
A house that rings with joy and laughter,
And the ones you love inside.

Some like the high road, I like the low road,
Free from the care and strife.
Sounds corny and seedy, but yes, indeed-y;
Give me the simple life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blog Cleaning

Many people do their once a year spring clean.

It's time for me to do my annual 'blog clean'.  This involves the following:
  • Removing blogs from my blogroll which have been deleted by the author or I suspect have been abandoned.
  • Add blogs I have started reading recently.
  • Make sure my Bloglines list is current also.
If you read my blog regularly, could you please do me the honour of adding me to your blogroll?  If you don't have a blogroll, then can I encourage you to create one?  If you're a fellow blogger who has been lurking here for a bit, then it would be great if you could introduce yourself so I can add you too.  Blogrolls are a great way of sourcing new blogs to read which brings me to my next point....

I would love it if you could recommend some blogs for me to read that do not currently feature on my blogroll.  It's a bit sad when blogs I've been enjoying for a fair while are suddenly spasmodic or no more, so please recommend a handful of blogs you enjoy.

I have also been doing some cleaning of a different kind.  Unfortunately one of the downsides of being a blogger is spam.  Since last year I have been regularly trawling my archives and removing silly comments from 'blog taggers'.  I've seen them on other Blogspot blogs too...the ones with the links to Asian girl websites or dating sites.  Grrr!  I have set up the word identification thing for when people make comments, but that still doesn't stop them!  I don't want to change the comment settings to Blogger IDs only because I would like anonymous people to contribute if they wish.  Does anyone have any tips on winning the battle against spam?

So....are your blog links up to date?  Have you left your recommendation of a good blog for me to read?  Cleaning your blog is a bit like clearing out your inbox....a jolly good job done. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Funny


Can you imagine the nun sitting at her desk grading these papers, all the while trying to keep a straight face and maintain her composure.

Pay special attention to the wording and spelling.  If you know the Bible, even a little, you'll find this hilarious!  It comes from a Catholic elementary school test.

Kids were asked questions about the Old and New Testaments.  The following statements about the Bible were written by children.  They have not been retouched or corrected.  Incorrect spelling has been left in.

1.  In the first book of the Bible, Guinnesis, God got tired of creating the world so he took the Sabbath off.

2.  Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree.  Noah's wife was Joan of Ark.  Noah built and ark and the animals came on in pears.

3.  Lot's wife was a pillar of salt during the day, but a ball of fire during the night.

4.  The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with unsympathetic Genitals.

5.  Sampson was a strong man who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah.

6.  Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles.

7.  Moses led the Jews to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients.

8.  The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert.  Afterwards Moses went up to Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments.

9.  The First Commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

10.  The Seventh Commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.

11.  Moses died before he ever reached Canada then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.

12.  The greatest miricle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.

13.  David was a Hebrew king who was skilled at playing the liar.  He fought the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times.

14.  Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

15.  When Mary heard she was the mother of Jesus she sang the Magna Carta.

16.  When the three wise guys from the east arrived they found Jesus in the manager.

17.  Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.

18.  St John the Blacksmith dumped water on his head.

19.  Jesus enunciated the golden rule which says to do unto others before they do one to you.  He also explained that a man doth not live by sweat alone.

20.  It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance.

21.  The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels.

22.  The epistels were the wives of the apostles.

23.  One of the oppossums was St Matthew who was also a taximan.

24.  St Paul cavorted to Christianity, he preached holy acrimony which is another name for marriage.

25.  Christians only have one spouse.  This is called monotony.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Easter 2010

Here are some photos from the Easter long weekend which we spent in Dunsborough with Duncan's family.

Duncan and a very excited Maya at the dog beach.
Oooh so cold!
Maya's unsuccessful attempt to make doggy friends.

Indijup Beach
Duncan and his cousin's daughter, Sarah.
Duncan's cousin-in-law Paul fishing at Indijup.
Easter Saturday lunch at Dunc's cousin's place in Busselton.

Dinner time for the goats.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Not When, But If

About a year ago, I was having a conversation with someone during which I made the statement, "If Duncan and I have children."
The person almost screeched at me, "If?!?"
Evidently, in their mind, the statement should be, "When Duncan and I have children," like it was a foregone conclusion.
I explained to them that although we may wish and plan to have children one day, it may not be God's will for us.  We can't take things like that for granted....who knows, we may not be able to have children!  We believe the whens in life should always be ifs.

That got me thinking about James 4:13-15.  How often do we (myself included) just presume or demand things from God like they are our rights and not blessings from his hand?  We expect we will tread the paths we have mapped out for ourselves, and then get angry at God when he leads us down a different road.

After reading these verses from James, I couldn't help but see how the Muslims have got it right in this sense.  Apparently a lot of them add "God willing" or "Allah willing" to the end of their sentences, recognising that although humans have free will to make plans, if it is not God's will it will not come to pass.

Duncan and I have friends and family who have struggled or are struggling with the pain of infertility.  I know people struggling with a hope deferred when it comes to marriage.  We shouldn't just assume this is the path for everyone, and then tell them the lie that it would only happen if they trusted God enough.  Many people will journey down the road of marriage and kids.  Others will not.

I'm not suggesting we need to add "God willing" piously on the end of all our sentences.  I'm not suggesting we should live life in a state of paranoia that God will always take a raincheck on our carefully made plans.  But all too often we do not include the almighty sovereign God in our decision-making.

Last week, I found out on Facebook that a friend's brother's fiancee passed away suddenly in her sleep at the age of 20!  She wasn't sick (as far as I know) and it came as a tremendous shock for everyone.  This girl was busy planning her wedding for early next year.  Now the day will never come.  The news left me terribly saddened and more aware of our lives as a fleeting mist or vapour.

Let us not stop making plans, but acknowledge that it is the God who sees even a sparrow fall to the ground who holds us and the rest of creation in His mighty hand.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bible Verse of the Day

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
James 4:13-15

Friday, May 07, 2010

Welcome to Fort Fowl

After the tragic demise of our first batch of poultry over 16 months ago, we finally got more chooks last week (all ISA Browns).

I was adamant I didn't want any more chooks until the last chookyard was pulled down and completely rebuilt.  To get more birds and leave them in an unsecure yard where they are bait for foxes would not be fair to them.  So last August, Duncan's dad started building a fowl fortress where no fox would ever get in and no chook would ever get out.  He came up again in September and finished the job.

It really is a wonderful house for our hens.  There are six new girls (three older ones and three pullets), and we plan to get another rooster soon too.

All the same, I do worry about them constantly.  I don't want to ever go back and find the same grizzly sight I found in December 2008.  I've told Maya, "On guard!"  I still feel like I failed the last lot by putting them in that horrible old yard with the wire lifting up at the bottom.  I won't fail this batch of feathered friends.

Allow me to intoduce:

The three old girls
  • Winnie (in honour of my mother-in law) :)
  • Mildred
  • Eglantine (after the main character in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which is one of my favourite childhood movies...also that it's got the 'egg' bit at the front).
The three young girls
  • Maple
  • Reebok (as in Ree- bok bok bok...the shoes that chickens wear)
  • Princess Layer
These hens are a lot more camera shy than our last lot, but here are some photos of them settling in to their new house.  The older girls are moulting at the moment so they don't look very attractive.

The nesting area.

Two of the pullets...hiding.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hello Lord by Sara Groves

Duncan and I spent the ANZAC Day long weekend at Cornerstone camp.  This year's theme was 'Guidance' which is very appropriate as to where I'm at at the moment.  I know God gives us enormous freedom as his children to make decisions within his guidelines, but I still struggle.  A few years back, a friend shared the lyrics of this song with me, and I loved them so much, I borrowed Sara Groves' CD from another friend.

Hello Lord, it's me your child.
I have a few things on my mind.
Right now I'm faced with big decisions,
And I'm wondering if you have a minute, cuz
Right now I don't hear so well,
And I was wondering if you could speak up.

I know that you tore the veil,
So I could sit with you in person,
And hear what you're saying, but,
Right now, I just can't hear you.

I don't doubt your sovereignty.
I doubt my own ability to,
Hear what you're saying,
And to do the right thing,
And I desperately want to do the right thing.
But right now I don't hear so well,
And I was wondering if you could speak up.

And somewhere in the back of my mind,
I think you are telling me to wait,
And though patience has never been mine,
Lord, I will wait to hear from you.
Oh Lord, I'm waiting on you.

I know that you tore the veil,
So I could sit with you in person,
And hear what you're saying but,
Right now, I think you're whispering.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Bible Verse of the Day

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1