Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A new departure for the blog...Not Quite Nigella

So I haven't really gone in for reviews much (try at all) on this blog.  But I think I am going to start giving you my readers some reviews of the books I have been reading lately.  I have been reading all sorts of stuff lately, dabbling in newly published books for a change.

Food blogging seems to be all the rage at the moment, with the fate of new cafes and restaurants no longer only in the hands of the mainstream food critics, but also in the hands of influential bloggers with thousands of readers each week.  As you know I am rather domestically disinclined (or disabled as Luke likes to call it), and I don't do meals per se.  But I do like to read about food and places where I can eat it!!

Not Quite Nigella is a food blogger from Sydney who I discovered a couple of years ago when I was looking for cafe and restaurant reviews for places to eat out in for an anniversary dinner.  She not only reviews cafes and restaurants but also posts favourite recipes (some original, some adapted and some given by others).  I have found her reviews of Sydney cafes in particular to be very accurate and engaging, and have tried a couple of the easier baking recipes and found them to be both easy to follow and reliable in producing yummies fit for a banquet.

Not Quite Nigella has recently released a book of the same name which is the first cross-over foray I have seen from the blogging world to the world of books.  This book is a welcome addition to my bookshelves which groan with fantastical-historico-fictional tomes by the score.  It is long since I read an autobiography that involved food rather than nursing (my reviews of the "Call the Midwife" series are coming soon), and it is a breath of yummy baking-scented airy goodness!

So this is an autobiography with a difference.  It is the only autobiography I have ever read that includes special family recipes pried from the shakingly reluctant clutches of the author's mother.  I'm looking forward to getting Luke to test some of them out for me!!

But in all seriousness, "Not Quite Nigella" is a cracking read.  I knocked it off in an evening, so it isn't exactly taxing, but it isn't supposed to be.  It is a great story of how a young woman discovers her passion for food and blogging about that food.  I am a great believer in doing what you are passionate about whether it is bean counting or cooking or taking photographs of cats for a living.  It is hard for me to imagine being a food blogger full time, but them that isn't my passion.  It certainly seems to be a fulfilling choice and all the dice lined up for her to make it work.

I would totally recommend it to anyone who is interested in good human interest stories, to people who like food and to people who are interested in taking their blogging to the next level.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Friends friends friends...

Ok so I've written before about the question of friendships.  About how I don't tend to let go of friendships that many may consider to be dead.  About how I often feel jealous of people who have lifelong living-in-each-others-pockets type friendships.

And just the other week I caught up with two friends in one day.  I hadn't seen either of these people is some years, and had once been very close to both of them.

I had lunch with one, a lovely young man who I nursed through a couple of breakups in his early 20s, and with whom I (and my husband) had spent many a long night after church at cafes talking about things both deep and ephemeral.  He is since married to a lovely girl, got a wonderful job and has been serving at the church we used to attend together.

It was a wonderful lunch.  The food was great, and the company was also good.


And there is always a but.

The conversation didn't flow as freely as it once did.  We didn't talk in as much depth as we used to.  It wasn't unpleasant, but it was clear that time and distance has (some would say inevitably) had it's way with our friendship.  True it's not like I ring him, or text him (except when momentous stuff is happening).  He isn't on facebook, so I can't catch up with him like that (indeed most of the news he told me was stuff I had already heard through other sources on fb... ).  He is on twitter which I don't really frequent.  We moved away geographically, and with every move, are further from the church we went to and the people we knew together.  We had a couple of kids and he hasn't yet... so basically we're now worlds apart physically, socially, emotionally.

And yet I can't give up.

I can't feel ok about this.  This "moving on" that seems to have happened.  I have the claws in and am not letting go!!

So that was one...

Then we had after work drinks with another friend that we went to uni with.  I have seen this person about 3 times in the last 10 years, and basically the only contact we have in between is facebook messaging.

It was amazing!! This is a friendship which has not changed!! It was as if no time had passed.  The same jokes/funny stories were just as hilarious.  The same repartee...

I suppose I'm thinking about this whole issue of friendships because in our business, friendships can be necessarily transient affairs.  We could only be at a church for a couple of years at a time.  And as I've mentioned before, some people are ok with that.  They just think as they move on, "Oh well I'll see this person in heaven".  But I'm not sure how fair that is to the people we serve.  Does it mean that we never truly invested in them? Maybe.  Does it mean that we were never their friend? Possibly.  Just someone to have as a project while I'm at this church, and next church will have new projects.

But that is not how I see friendship.  I mean sure, I can't keep in touch with everyone I was friendly with from every church/workplace I've ever been at.  but I certainly emotionally invest in the friendship while I am there and care deeply about what happens to them after I am gone.

I care that time and distance erode what was once a deep friendship.  I care that someone who I used to meet up with every week at uni and who was one of my bridesmaids hasn't really kept in contact with me, and hasn't invited me to her wedding.  I care that I don't see the girl who was the first person to invite me to church.  I care that a Biblestudy leader that looked after me for 3 years during high school, and another one from when I was at uni won't be friends with me on facebook; even though I shared significant times in my life with them.  I care that people I thought I was friends with at our last church really don't seem to want to make the effort to drive half way and catch up for a coffee and a chat. And I care that every time I try to catch up with my friends from Mother's Group it falls in a hole.

Is it wrong of me to care?  Am I wrong to be hurt?  No.  I'm not.  God gives us friendships at different times to fulfil different functions according to what we need right then...or according to what someone else needs.  Does that sound too sterile? Damn right it does.  Does that make it any less meaningful? No way.

So what have I learnt from my musings about friendship?

1)  Sometimes friendships are just for a little while.  And that's ok.

2)  Some friendships, despite the best of intentions, will fade with time and distance. And that is ok.  Painful but ok.

3) God gives us friends to bring us joy, love and support both for the short and long term.  It may be that I am not the kind of person that needs to have the same friend for 80 years.  God knows and provides the friends I need when I need them.

4)  It is a wonderful thing to have a friendship for which nothing seems to change.  I have a few of these and they never cease to bring me joy!!!

And 5)  That it is ok to be hurt when friendships fade.  It shows that I have invested in that person.  That I cared about them.

So I'm not entirely finished thinking about friendships.  But for now I'll leave you with this thought:

A friend is a blessing from God.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Making Sense of Suffering...

I was listening to 103.2 on the way home from doing the pre-school run this morning.  They were playing a short from an interview with a guy called Christopher White (I think) who has just written a book called "The God I don't Understand".

He spent years struggling to make sense of suffering.  Why does it happen? Why do some people suffer more than others?

Ultimately he came to the understanding that by trying to make "sense" of suffering and "evil" we are trying to impose a good thing (sense, rationality, understanding, logic) onto something in which there is and can be no good things (evil!).  He came to understand that suffering and evil are things to be defeated and smashed by the death of Jesus!  What a way to understand suffering!

So according to this guy, we should not be asking "why?" but "how long before God deals with it by ushering in the final judgement?"!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Friends with Benefits?

Something strikes me every so often when I check Facebook.  There seem to be two kinds of people when it comes to the kinds of friends they have.

The first kind make friends at school (at whatever point) and keep them forever more. They are bridesmaids at each other's weddings. They meet up all the time so their kids can play together.  They go on holidays together sans kids.

The second kind seem to acquire friends like a collector, some from this phase of life, some from that phase. They may be friends only while they work at the same place or go to the same church.  they may be friends only while they are in the same class at uni or while they have kids in the same class at school.  Sometimes they become friends at a specific stage and the friendship seems to transcend that stage.

I seem to be of the latter category.

At school I had friends, but my year at school had lots of groups of girls that would sit together.  For a while, I would sit with one group or another according to who I was friendly with at any one time.  But it never lasted long really.  I never had enough friends in each group to make it really fun or fulfilling to stay long.

So I was a floater between groups. One who belonged to all groups and to none.

Then I joined a youth group.  Suddenly I had friends.  Instant friends who cared how I was during the week.  Friends who shared their faith with me.  Suddenly I was being invited to parties and gatherings. In some ways it made school easier, and in some ways harder.

When I went to uni I joined the Evangelical Union.  I joined small groups and went to public meetings and weekends away and met heaps of people.  Some of my best friends are from that time of my life. I met my husband there.  I met people who are now scattered to the winds, in Cambodia, the USA, China, the UK, Tasmania, Victoria, Northern NSW; good friends who I see very rarely but when I do see them it is as if no time has passed and we just pick straight up where we left off.  I love those kinds of friendships.

I met heaps of different people each year at Beach Mission as the team shifted and changed.

I have been to three different churches since Luke decided to go to College.  I made friends at each one.  Some I have kept in touch with.  Some I haven't.  At our last  church we met the godmother to our now 13 month old daughter and lots of other friends besides! I go back there whenever I am near , and revel in the fellowship and friendship found in a loving church family.

At College, we met heaps and heaps of people from all sorts of places who I catch up with as often as possible. These are people I saw often in Biblestudy groups, at the women's group, and people I lived along side when we lived in College accommodation.  We see the people from our year group quite often which is great since they are our spiritual and professional family.  The only people who truly know what it is like to be in ministry.

So I look at my life and think "Ok so, somewhere along the line I picked up a lot of friends".  But then I remember my grandmother who had a best friend for over 85 years, and some others for almost 80 years.  I don't have any friends like that.  I don't have any friends from pre-school that I still see/write to/skype regularly.  I don't have friends from kindy/school in the way that some do.  I see the photos from weddings and think "why couldn't I have had friends like that? friends that just stick together through everything for 20 years? why can't I have 10 friends who I go to Byron /Bali/somewhere with every year or so?"

Then I look at my own wedding photos.  And I look at the lists that I draw up when I am inviting friends to things.  I have friends on these lists from school, churches, uni, work, beach mission, College, and just random other times.

Is my life poorer for missing the lifelong friendships? or is it richer for having friends from a plethora of places and times in my life?  Sometimes I can't say.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Anyone?... Bueller?

Ok so here's the thing.

We all love "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".  We love that he ditches school, has lots of fun with some friends, sticks it to the man and gets away with it.  We love that he gets away with it.

Well, we loved it when we were teenagers, because we wished it was us.  We loved it in our twenties because we liked to think that when we were at school we too would have jumped at the chance to ditch school (if we knew we'd never be busted).

As a teacher though, the movie can leave a bad taste in my mouth as I get older.  It irks me when students ditch school.  It irks me more when they are obviously intelligent kids with lots of potential (like Ferris).

And as a parent?  I'm not sure what I think.  I know for a fact that if I ever find out my kids have ditched school, they will be in trouble.  I also know that I'd like to think my kids will look back on their time at school and know they put in the best effort they could.

But at the same time, everyone needs an experience like Ferris' to look back on with nostalgia and a bit of pride.  Kind of an "I beat the rules and had a great time" thing.  I would hope that I wouldn't be so uptight that I wouldn't let them have some experiences that would give them those sorts of memories.