Saturday, 14 March 2015

Poem - We forgot to Dance: An Old Woman's Lament

I was twenty when we met
And you were three years more.
We got married among our friends
On September twenty-four.
From that point forward our motto was
To work hard and receive
The benefits that came from work – 
To endeavour and achieve. 

You worked from dawn to dusk, and I
Keeping house, of course, saw
To the balance and the checks
That come in through our door.
You were exhausted when you got home
Each night was later still
We ne’er complained but worked to earn
The cash to pay each bill.

The balance rose and o’er the years
Five babies were our joy
We welcomed our four giggling girls
And one squirming baby boy.
Soon they were of age to help around
The house and in the store.
You trained our girls to mind the books
And our son to sweep the floor.

Day in day out, we did our bit
And fell in bed at night.
There were some times you would be so tired
You would scarce take one small bite.
As the girls got older they would beg
You to take them to the dance.
We had no time for that there or at home
We forgot our own romance.

I stand here now – a woman old
It’s been thirty years since you went
And every day I come to your grave 
With my soul all in torment
What was our mistake, my darling?
What did we do wrong?  
Our children all live happy lives
And now I scarce belong.

Maybe in securing goods to
Keep them safe and sound,
We missed the things that really matter
In between the cents and pounds.
It would not have hurt to give a little 
To, in life, take a chance…
I’m off to tell the children now – 
It’s important to work hard now-
And to give it all you’ve got now – 
But don’t forget to dance.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Little Everyday Thrills :)

Some of the little things that give me a delight thrill from day to day are:

Playing Chopin's Prelude in C minor.  The chords are chilling and in my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.  I think (in my own delightful fancy!) that Chopin never sat down with the intention of writing that piece... I think he was improvising just for his own pleasure and then went back later and wrote down what he played.  :)

Receiving letters.  I don't know what it is about snail mail, but getting a letter in the post never fails to bring a smile to my face.  Maybe it's knowing the effort that person went to...

Ticket to Ride.  If you haven't played this board game, you need to.  It is so cool!  I have the European version.  I love how the train tracks wind around a vintage, Victorian style board... the strategy of it makes it different every time.

Mushrooms.  I know a lot of you will not relate here, but I love mushroom.  Especially the little marinated button mushrooms in the Chinese noodles we buy occasionally.  Yum!  ^_^

My piano students.  They are really such delightful little girls - they make me laugh and I am so proud of how they practise and learn so quickly!

Poetry.  Both in reading and in writing it, poetry gives me the words to describe a thing, an emotion, or an event that I could not otherwise describe in straight prose.  It's almost as though words elude me in they aren't in rhythm... I often go groping for a word when just talking to someone, but I'll think of the write words as soon as I'm writing a stanza of a poem... that always thrills me somewhat.  :)

The Piano Guys.  I need say no more.  When did those guys get so good???!!!  What is their secret???!!!  (And don't tell me it's practise - I already know that!  :P )

Babies.  We don't have any more babies in our house (Annie is three now!) but whenever I do get to hold one, I am amazed at how such a beautiful, full life can be held and sustained in such a tiny, fragile little body.  And to think that our God came down and dwelt in such a body!  Amazing!

Musicals.  I love them!  The Sound of Music and Singing in the Rain are my favourites... the stories and the songs are so funny and sweet.  :)

And last that I can think of right now - but far from being least! - is one of my favourite scriptures:

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
(1 John 3:1-3)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Object Lesson with an Apple

This morning was my second time leading the kid's small group at church.  Like last time - when we made a love letter - I had the grades 3-6 girls group and the topic this week was the fall, sin and God's plan for redemption.

Today's kid's churches - at least the one I help run - tends to be quite media based, so when I have a session, I like to try and avoid that and use craft or an object lesson instead.  As one experienced kid's worker pointed out, the lack of media can actually hold their attention longer because something as old as a flanograph or as simple object lesson may be something entirely new for them.

I based my object lesson on Genesis 3.  Like sin in general, the fruit on that tree looked good on the outside, but it wasn't so great once Adam and Eve bit into it.  If sin looked horrible and 'wormy' then we wouldn't be tempted, but satan is smarter than that.  That's why we need to be on guard and look for marks on the outside and compare it to the Word of God.

That essentially sums up the lesson I gave my girls.  But before we started, I told them that we were going to have apples to snack on.  Upon cutting open the first one, the girls were disgusted.  The inside was black and looked revolting.  They had several shudders before proceeding to demolish the good apple.

I think they failed to notice that I was neither surprised, nor disappointed.  In fact, I was having a hard time containing myself, because it worked exactly as I planned.  Here's a picture:

No, that is not mould.  It is not 'off stuff'.  It won't even taste bad or make you sick if you eat it.  It's food dye.  After google had no answers on how to infect an apple from the inside,  I had to get creative myself.  If you want to use this object lesson for your kid's group,  here's how I did it.  (And if you don't want to use it you can either stop reading here or read it anyway  :P)

Get the longest sewing needle you can and some thread.  (I used 1 ply crochet cotton that is too thick to put through the sewing machine and too thin to crochet with.  ;) )  Thread the needle and push it down the core of the apple from the top so that the thread runs from top to bottom through the middle of the apple.   There should be about two inches of thread dangling from the bottom of the apple.  Repeat a few times coming in from different angles, but trying to cross through the core of the apple as many times as possible.  (I think I had four threads in my apple).  In a glass, pour in a tablespoon or two of black food dye, available from supermarkets.  Sit the apple in the glass.  The apple should not be touching the food dye, but the threads should be sitting in it.  Essentially what happens is that the food dye  travels up the threads and leaks into the flesh of the apple.  This will take about 24 hours.  When the dye is finished leaking just wash the apple under the tap.  You will want to wrap the apple up in a cloth or something and travel with it in a zip-lock bag or something like that, because the dye does like to go places it shouldn't.  :P

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Guest Post - Weeds, by Clare Farrelly

Greetings, readers of Amity. I am Clare; (and amongst many other things) I am Emily’s friend, a photographer, writer, sister, and blogger over at my blog; Clare’s Spot. I have been racking my brains for an idea of what to post about ever since Emily asked if I would like to. And since you are reading this I have obviously thought of something; that something is weeds.

Weeds are only weeds because we call them that. Grass becomes a weed when it enters a garden and likewise garden plants become “weeds” when they grow onto the lawn. A weed is a plant that grows where we humans do not want it. I have been interested in weeds ever since I did a study on them for agriculture. During that I found that many of the plants I called weeds are actually useful for many things, or even edible.

Since then I have gone on a camping trip where I learnt about, and ate different plants, that I would normally call weeds. Just the other day I went to talk (in which we walked around outside) about useful weeds. So the content of this post comes from those experiences, and I am also checking my memory against a book I bought at the camp, “Useful Weeds at Our Doorstep” By Pat Collins. (Apparently this book is like a bible for weed lovers)

So here are five weeds that you probably had no idea were useful.

Fleabane has some interesting history. Its name gives away some of its uses. Fleas don’t like it, neither do many bugs. In medieval times people would plant it all around their houses, hang it up inside and at the end of beds. They believed it warded off plague, now we know fleas were often carriers of it so it makes sense. Fleabane can be found just about anywhere particularly in disturbed areas, unused plots of land and along roadsides in paddocks. This plant can also be chucked on a campfire and its burning will drive mosquitoes away. (I really have to try this one)

Wandering Jew is an edible weed which I think actually tastes nice. I can’t find any photos of it but you should be able to look up pictures of it on the internet. It is also called Scurvy Weed. There are two kinds of Wandering Jew and both are edible. The ones with purple-blue flowers are better for you and are native to Australia. The more common plant has white flowers and came originally from South America.  They both prefer to grow in moist shady places. They have smooth shiny leaves. The taste is unusual but crispy and much nicer than any other “Weed” that I have eaten. The young leaves are the nicest and can be eaten in salads or as you walk past the plant. Though do be aware that if it is not growing in your own garden you have no idea if the plant has been sprayed with any poisons.

Prickly Lettuce is actually edible.  I had never touched these plants before, because of their nasty looking spikes, but they are actually not very nasty. I would suggest that you only eat leaves off young plants whose leaves are less than 10cm long and the plant is still growing close to the ground. After that they get much more bitter and become more spikey. They can also be eaten in salads or cooked in a similar way to beans.

Wild or Hedge Mustard, is the other weed that I actually like eating. At least I have tried eating its flower heads, and they are quite nice. The leaves can also be eaten and apparently taste and can be used like cabbage. It is meant to be good for sore throats and the Greeks believed that it was an antidote to all poison; I am not sure how reliable that is though.  This plant is cultivated in other countries, as are many other “weeds”, but in the case of this “weed” European (particularly northern) countries. Its scientific name is “Sisymbrium officinale”.

Purslane is another favourite of mine. I call it Mosquito Weed. It is edible and has a VERY strong taste which I don’t like. It is high in vitamin C and other things, but what I find the plant useful for is mosquito bites. I crush up the juicy leaves and apply the resulting green past to the bite, and it actually works. I also use Aloe Vera plants for mosquito bites and green ant bites. I just snap one of the leaves in half and put the slimy green sap on the bite.

I hope you all found that interesting. There are many more uses/benefits for/from these plants, and many other “weeds” out there that are not really as useless as most people realize.