Saturday, November 29, 2008

Aunty Gee Gee

My niece Giggles was up with her parents visiting during the week. It was great to have a chance to catch up with them all. She's getting so much like a little girl - all smiles and intense interest in anything that's going on. You should see her get into a Bubbacino - it's gone before you can imagine - and much more is ending up in her mouth these days.

The last couple of times we've seen them I've been trying to teach her to say 'Aunty Jen'. It most often comes out as 'Gee'. Close enough. My family mostly call me Jenny, though, and she's picked up on it. I now get 'Gee Gee'. That's quite horsey enough for me - I'll take it.

How likely is it that we'd be able to keep her?

... Approximately Not At All (according to her parents)

Friday, November 28, 2008

So I'm trying not to be too busy next year...

We are having a week of prayer at my church at the moment. I was down to church sit a couple of times (so that it could be open for anyone to come in). This poem came out of my reflections about how we can get so busy that we don't see the person who might need a drink or a listening ear. We're not available to God because we don't have any time to listen.

All the activities listed are things that our church does - not all of them done by me!

It is very rythmic, so I've bolded the important syllables. Technically it should be read to go faster and faster...

God asked me to be available, so...

I went to all the services and never got there late
I served the courthouse coffee while they all stood there to wait
I attended every meeting on each and every date
I cooked for every function and my food was always ate.

I helped the kids with homework - and my advice they took
Gave a hand in the community when storms the houses shook
I went up to the hospital when anyone was crook
And tried to fit in sometime simply studying The Book

I helped the Floral Church out (it was the best one yet)
I sang or played the music whenever I was let
I've mowed, or cleaned or washed-up - whatever task I'm set
Gave cash to floors and Mendi and to lighten UC debt.

I volunteered for everything - gave time to Sunday School
Looked out for opportunities to live the Golden Rule
Got on the Youth Group roster and the kids all thought me cool
And ignored the call of Jesus - I'm a much-exhausted mule.

What's the chance I'll not be busy next year?

... Approximately None.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One for Femina

Femina's comment in response to my last post has inspired me to relate an incident from my college days.

You can 'thank' her later.

During my time on-campus at uni our college celebrated an anniversary milestone. Each year, we had someone design a college T-shirt, and they made a big thing of it that year (being a special year). A competition was run to find the best design.

I can't say much about it without giving up the anonymity of the college, but one group who were entering the design competition had the idea of going with a classic Ionic pillar with the year and anniversary on the front, then the back had the college mascot (which comes from mythology) and they wanted to have an inscription "Towards a Better Age" in Classical Greek.

That's fine, but there was only one individual in the whole place who had done any Classical Greek. That was me. I did one semester and just passed (due to my gramatical struggle after the powers that be in the Queensland Education system decided that English Grammar was a waste of time for high school students).

I offered to take it in to the lecturers and get them to do it, but of course this was at uni and the competition ended in about 30 mins. So I got out my textbooks and did the best I could do in the time available. I figured that no-one but me would know anyway. I couldn't work out how to render the comparative 'better'. I had trouble finding a word for 'age'.

What the shirts actually said? "Towards a Good Time" Probably more much more representative, but shhh, don't tell anyone.

How glad are you that I decided not to take this secret to my grave?

... Approximately None.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My QWEPTY Keyboard

I don't know if you've ever run into this way of describing keyboards for computers. Generally in Australia we would have what is called a 'QWERTY' keyboard, which relates to the letters that run along the top left hand row. I'm presuming that somewhere in the world there is an alternate standard that has different letters in that position. I could look that up on the net, but frankly, if you're reading this blog you seriously have the time to find out for yourself (and I'm perfectly happy living in the mystery).

My keyboard is different. Firstly it is a split keyboard. I find it more comfortable, and (because I touch-type) it has the added bonus that I can't over-stretch my fingers to hit the wrong key, like 't' instead of 'y' or 'n' instead of 'b'. They are separated by unresponsive plastic.

There's also the fact that I've set up my keyboard to recognise polytonic Greek symbols. I dabble in ancient Greek with all the combinations of accents, graves, breathing marks and the odd circumflex. So with a simple left Alt + Shift I can write in tongues. At an incredibly slow pace.

I noticed this afternoon that I'm going to have some issues if others want to use my computer. It appears that the angle at which some of my fingernails hit the keys has started to chip away at the printed letters. The 'n' is unrecognisable as an English character. The 's' and the 'v' are missing bits. Probably the worst one, though is the 'r'. It has entirely lost one of its legs, resulting in my keyboard having two 'p's. A QWEPTY keyboard, in fact.

There are two facts that mean it won't cramp my style.
1. I touch-type, so rarely look at the letters (I wonder how long it's been like that?)
2. The Greek letter rho (tranliterated 'R') looks like a 'P' anyway.

How much do you want to buy my keyboard right now?
... Approximately None.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recurrent Idiopathic Urticaria

Who'da thought that Itchy Spots would have an official name?

Don't you love the fact that the medical fraternity use latin to describe the symptoms and it sounds all official. 'Urticaria' apparently means itchy welts/hives, (i.e. high-falutin' itchy spots); and I particularly like the fact that 'idiopathic' means that no-one has a clue what's causing it. Gee I wish I spoke latin. I could sound so knowledgable and laugh at my doctors when they speak in this kind of code.

I did some research after my little 'the spots aren't going!' depression last week. The official website seems to indicate that I need to try the diet for between 4-6 weeks. Things may get worse before they get better, and after 6 weeks if there's no difference it probably isn't the nasty natural food chemicals. Sigh.

Of course, this prospect isn't as depressing as I thought it would be, because this week they do seem to be going. There's still the odd spot that isn't entirely happy, but it isn't so itchy I could tear the skin off, and all the rest are fading. I'm beginning to toy with the thought of reintroducing some things, but probably shouldn't until next week because itchy spots traditionally come and go, but are never entirely absent. So I probably ought to wait until they've gone completely. Also, I had a nose/eyes attack on Sunday night and took an antihistamine, which also helps to clear up spots - so I should give them some time to come back.

So chance that I'm going to get cheesecake this week?

... Approximately None.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Make Beef Jerky

I swore I would never have a recipe site, but here goes...

1. Go on an elimination diet where you can't eat processed meat or tinned tuna with your salad at lunchtime.

2. Go shopping in the morning and decide to buy some chicken and some BBQ steak to cook, cut into small portions and freeze, so that you have some lunch meat.

3. Cook the chicken early, so that you can have it with your lunch today.

4. Decide that the steak can cook while you eat your lunch, before going back into the office.

5. Watch an episode of The West Wing while you're eating.

6. Once finished with the TV and having eaten your lunch, go back into the office and start doing all the things you've got to do.

7. Remember that one phone call will need the piece of paper with the bloke's name and number on it - it is in your handbag on the kitchen table.

8. Discover the beef jerky still cooking in the frypan.

9. Fill the pan with water and hope that it will actually come clean.

How much good value and economy was there in my cunning plan?

... Approximately None!


I do a little lay preaching in our church. We are having a week of prayer to herald in the start of the Advent (Christmas) Season next week, and I was part of the team doing the special services for both ends of the week.

Part of what we were talking about is watching out for where God might be breaking into our lives - sometimes it's actions by other people towards us; sometimes it's being called to do things for others; sometimes it's a miraculous confluence of events; or just a plain miracle that can't be explained.

I've been praying about the younger people (or lack thereof) in my church. Not because I need young people necessarily (although it would be nice), but that any community that is almost missing a generation is not healthy (it would be lovely if we were doing more baptisms than funerals, for example - I often joke about turning off the light when I'm done).

Today I met a young Mum who's new to town who wants to be involved in things. And the addition of just one family to our church might be the catalyst necessary for big things to happen. I'm excited.

I'm also excited that our breakfast meeting for our Local Hospital Pastoral Care Team was really positive. We're only a small team, and it takes a while to get known throughout the government machine that is called a hospital. Again, the catalyst caused by the right person with the right knowledge, skills and contacts at the right time can do marvellous things.

So my Advent theme is "Watch this space..."

And the chance that I want to leave all this interesting church stuff to do my boring work stuff?

... Approximately None!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Itchy-spot Update

I know there are a few people who said that they would be interested to hear how the elimination diet is going. Silly people!

It is a full week in and I do have fewer itchy-spots than I did a week ago. Some of the remaining spots are no longer itchy and aren't as red. There don't seem to be any new ones. This is a good start, but a few bits are still as itchy as all get out and are driving me nuts (and as I've not been sleeping well they have been keeping me from going back to sleep once I've woken).

So it is still within what I would consider 'normal' parameters.

How long should it take for there to be a significant difference? The book suggests 'a few weeks'.

There could be some good news in this. It might not be a food allergy. I could eat what I wanted. That would be so much better than the alternative.

The only problem then is WHAT IS CAUSING THEM!!!!!?????

How many weeks should I continue with the elimination diet before giving up?

... Approximately 2 or 3?


... Approximately None and bring on the cheesecake!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You've heard of self-fulfilling prophecy?

OK, so I've got a confession to make...

Last night I noticed that I didn't have too many more downloads to go until my blog reached 1000 site downloads (since I've been recording my traffic and stats). This was very exciting and I really, really wanted to see the 1000 click over.

So in between writing a letter to the local Council (which I may very well blog about once I've cooled down) I kept coming back and refreshing to make certain that I didn't miss the milestone.

I noticed that each time I refreshed another person (or on one occasion two) had viewed the site. This makes sense. Many people check out blogs at night when everything is finished for the evening.

Then I realised that no matter how soon I refreshed again, another person had viewed my blog. Maybe it was me! (Although I'm certain I've fed my own URL into the stat counter so that it doesn't count me)

So I hit refresh again and got to the 1000.

The chance that my site traffic counter is accurate?

... Approximately None.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Playing Good Dog, Bad Dog

Many people comment that our Little Black Dog is really well behaved.

Mostly he is. Some areas could use a little work - and probably ideally before he was seven and a half years old.

The LBD positively hates it when I go out in the car. My role in the family (pack) is to stay at home and keep him company. He's been a bit clingy since I went away for that 10 days earlier in the month.

When he is being a dog (as opposed to being a person inside with me) he has the run of the garage and the backyard. So when I need to take the car out there is some negotiation required.

I usually flick the switch for the door as I come in from upstairs, which excites the dog because he thinks he's coming too. He runs around the car, flattens himself and squeezes under the opening door and waits at the rear door of the car for me to open it and lift him in.

If I walk to the sliding door to the backyard and move his water bowl outside, he knows that he's being excluded from this trip. He also knows that it is inevitable and so slinks out, tail and ears down to my command "outside". I feel that I have betrayed his trust, but despite the fact he doesn't want to go he is such a good dog to do what he is told.

So he is a good dog.

Of course, I then get into the car and go. And my poor LBD barks his head off (and I'm certain the language is not at all polite). This is bad dog behaviour.

So what is the chance that I will ever work out whether he is a good dog or a bad dog?

... Approximately None

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Obviously DO Need to Lose Some Weight...

If I wasn't motivated before, I am after last night.

I went to a graduation ceremony last night to support one of the ladies from our church who has completed the Hospital Ministry and Pastoral Care Course. As I did the course some years ago, some of my year group are now supervisors or came to support the graduates just like I did.

It was great to catch up with old friends, although the supper was in a very crowded hall.

Now I should digress to say that I was wearing a skirt that I bought some time ago and it doesn't really fit properly anymore. If I pull it up a bit the hip section fits around my tum and it's all good - as long as I wear a top that goes down beyond the point of belly and is loose below. I checked it all out in the mirror before I went, and I couldn't tell that I'd had to hitch it, and the top disguised the difference between the cantilevered belly and my thighs. I'm someone who is very critical when looking in mirrors, so it was obviously fine if I thought it was fine.

One of the lovely ladies that did the course my year came up to me amongst the crowd of people in the hall and softly (and very excitedly) questioned if I was expecting a bub?

There is nowhere to go from there. There is no response that diffuses the embarrasment for both parties. I briefly toyed with the response "No, I'm just fat!" (Thanks, Givinya for the idea from so many years ago which of course was the first thing that jumped into my head in this situation).

So I just said "No, I'm not," with what I hoped was a kind and gentle smile.

How many appropriate responses are there?

... Approximately None

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank Goodness...

So I have some obsessional tendencies.

The list of photos of people who are following my blog has been driving me nuts.

I try not to compete. I have blogland friends who are sooo much more popular than I am, and I can live with that without expressing my jealousy. After all, the number of followers doesn't necessarily relate to how good my blog is or isn't, or how many friends I have or haven't.

But for the last weeks I've been stuck on 11. That was one short of two nice, even rows of photos. I really wanted to get to the nice, even rows again. I nearly blogged about my need to get back to nice, even rows.

My thanks to Lilly, who has joined up as a follower without any prompting what-so-ever.

So how much would I complain if it gets uneven again?

...Approximately None

(but I am enjoying those nice, even rows)

It's not easy eating green...

I'm very glad this week that I have carnivorous tendencies. It's exciting to be able to have something on your plate that is not white or green. I'm having steak tonight.

I've gone on an elimination diet to try to get rid of the itchy spots I've battled for the best part of ten years. Previous doctors have prescribed various anti-fungal, anti-tinea and anti-roundworm treatments that don't work.

I went lately to a new doctor at my usual surgery, who took one look at them and said that they were more likely allergy related because they are raised (I'm not certain I'd ever managed to make it to a doctor when the spots were in full flight). When I asked for a script for my asthma drugs she was even more convinced. I'd need to go back to get them checked out further - I don't like to hold up doctors with long-winded discussions during 'flu season.

The thing is I've never been able to pin down the biggest outbreaks to specific events. They can happen when it's hot or cold; when I'm stressed or not stressed; whether I've changed my washing powder, deodorant, soap or not; when I am eating well or badly. The only vague difference I've noticed is that major outbreaks seem more likely to occur when I'm trying to eat well.

I decided that I'd do an elimination diet when I got back from my time away (impossible to control food when you're away). I was incredibly blessed that I mentioned this to a friend I was staying with who has had some simliar problems. She has lent a book to me all about "Friendly Food" by doctors at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit.

Within the first couple of pages it all made sense to me. There are allergies to particular foods, but these are not as common. There are also intolerences to naturally occurring food chemicals (the ones that make food taste great!!) that build up in the body and that it is quite likely if you have an intolerance to those particular natural chemicals that a different food can send you into an outbreak in each case. I've never been able to pin it down to one type of food, itchy-spot outbreaks have always seemed fairly arbitrary - which is why I didn't seriously consider Allergies/Intolerances earlier.

This also makes sense due to the fact that when I'm trying to eat well I eat more fruit/vegetables like Avocado, Kiwi Fruit, Citrus, Passionfruit, Tomatoes, Grapes/Sultanas, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Mushrooms which are all in the Very High range for the chemicals that sensitive people have trouble with. There's also the High List which includes Olive oil, Onion, Corn, Cucumber, Zucchini, Granny Smith Apples, Rockmelon and Strawberries. These are all things I have heaps of when I try to eat properly. I also have tomato paste based savoury mince often even when I'm not eating particularly well, so that could explain why the spots never entirely disappear.

So my lunch salad of lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese (Very High) and some ham (High) - maybe topped with an olive oil and vinegar (high) dressing - is now reduced to lettuce. Thankfully the book includes recipes. I've been making a salad of cabbage, celery, shallots, green beans and chicken. With a Canola Oil and Pear Juice Dressing. It is very green and white.

I'd like to share my list of available foods with you all for commiseration purposes.

Vegetables that are Low, that I can get access to (and also like enough to eat)
Green beans
Potato (thank goodness there is one non-green vegetable on the list - I could have red cabbage if I can find it at my supermarket)

Spices and condiments:
Sea Salt

Nuts & Snacks:
Plain potato crisps

My favourite list is Fruit

(wait for it, wait for it....)

Pears. Peeled, ripe pears. Tinned pears. Pear juice. Not dried.

I can have fresh meat (other than pork). I can make chicken stock to flavour things with. I can have refined sugar (just what I need for Skinny Cow purposes!). And if the spots go away I can try out the egg, dairy, and glutenous grain options just to make certain that I'm fine with them from an allergy perspective - they are mainly in the Low range for intolerances.

At that point I can make Caramel Fudge. I am looking forward to the Caramel Fudge. Skinny Cow be blowed.

But first steps first, I need to get rid of the current spots (possibly aggravated by Chinese food - onion, broccoli, capsicum, soy). We'll see if this is effective.

The compounding factor is that yesterday I had a tummy bug. In my efforts to rehydrate myself I drank lots of water and also supplimented it with some mixed soda water and pear juice (as the only non-water alternative until the spots have gone). I had some tinned pears as my fruit at lunch-time.

The thing I couldn't work out is that by lunchtime the tummy pains had gone, but after eating it seemed that the squirts would hit anyway.

It wasn't until the very early hours of this morning that I remembered that when my Beloved's Dad was dying with cancer and the morphine had him a bit stuck up, I'm fairly sure the doctor recommended pear juice. Maybe I overdid it a bit. Believe me - lesson learned!

How excited am I that Chocolate and Cocoa are in the Very High category?

... Approximately Not At All!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What did they do to get the violinists to smile?

I'm now going to risk offending half my reading audience. After all, I can have no idea what musical experience any of my readers have.

I watched 'Dancing with the Stars' last night. I love dance, and I love watching people who are as unco as me getting better and better and enjoying themselves so much. I'm glad Luke won.

The really amazing thing was that they had Andre Rieu on the show with his orchestra. And the string players were smiling. I simply cannot compute this anomaly.

It has always amazed me that string players are always so poker-faced. Even if the occasional one manages to get their body swinging to the music, their faces are blank at best and most often stuck in a positive scowl.

The irony is that their facial features have access to showing a full range of human emotion. Granted, it would be difficult for a violinist to throw back their heads with gusts of laughter without losing their grip, but the woodwind and brass usually manage to have expression with eyes, eyebrows and as many of the other facial muscles as they can use without disturbing their embouchure (fancy word for the way you have to hold your mouth to play).

And yet last night the string players appeared to be enjoying themselves.

I did not think this was possible.

How much money would I wager on the fact that they were real string players?

... Approximately None.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Back...

but not up to blogging just yet. Sat through 2.5 days of church meetings with a really ferocious cold in the head, now it's gone to my chest.

I've struggled through some work that needed to get done on my return, and I'm just not up to being in anyway humourous. Maybe tomorrow. Unless you're into mucous humour...