Tuesday, February 27, 2007


DSC_7236bwcoming back to australia has been a (re)learning experience in many ways.  the ordinary task of ordering coffee at a cafe is no exception.  perhaps it would be of interest to our dear north american readers there is no regular coffee (drip filter style) in sight.  all coffee is made for you espresso style.  one must make that delightful choice, between short black, long black, flat white, cappuccino, macchiato, caffe latte, ice coffee, and the less than authentic-italian mugacino (see a list of coffee types and their descriptions here).  massive italian immigration in the post WWII period had a dramatic affect on australian culture...melbourne now has the highest number of cafes per capita than any other major city.  to say Melbournians love their coffee would be a gross understatement.  it is a highlight of the week to sit outside and sip a coffee with family, taking in the street scenes and the gentle boost of caffeine.  i took the above photo of a delicious macchiato i consumed at a cafe by the beach in Altona.


Monday, February 26, 2007

one of those days

people say pain in the ~~~ things often happen in threes. i'm not superstitious about it - i think such things can be smeared all across a day. we're having one of those days.

poor isaac was up in the night with itchy feet (what we thought were bug bites are actually hives which have made his little feet red and disfigured for days) and he woke early this morning. i was in a tylenol p.m. sleeping pill fog from treating my dodgy hip and i could barely think straight. his condition and the antihistamine we're medicating him with kept us from sending him to school this morning. grumpy as anything he stayed home, sassed us off and refused to nap.

this morning, we continued to work on a journal (actual 35 of them) that we are designing by-hand for the new forge interns. while plugging away on this creative, but vacation-bible-school like effort, we had to stop every so often to attend to some particularly annoying email correspondence. it is the kind of thing that makes you want to ram your head through a wall or sedate yourself heavily.

as we worked, we waited for a service person to arrive to install a new oven, rangetop and hood for kev and kath. their old oven hasn't worked properly for years, so they have been eagerly awaiting this new and improved model. last night, we gave the oven a collective kick and good riddance. after working for over an hour, the guy installing the stove top informed us that the countertop had originally been cut improperly and the new top won't fit without cabinet work or replacement of the counter/bench. great. now a big, useless hole sits within the countertop. finally, the company scheduling the installation told us nothing more can be done until next monday. we'll be using the barbie for a while.

when geoff went out to get the bike ready this afternoon to drop off our ailing little boy for a few hours of school the bike tire was flat. he was only partially successful at filling the tire, so as the boys rode off with a half-deflated tire, a spoke broke off. to ice the cake, he forgot to take dogger (the treasured friend that always accompanies isaac to school), so he had to leave isaac sobbing.

apparently a hollywood director claims to have discovered the remains of jesus. i've been staring at the wall eating peanut butter cookies and geoff is watching oprah. as they say in australia, "the wheels have fallen off."


DSC_8009it has been great to catch up with old friends.  one of my dearest friends is scott (seen here on the right).  this picture was taken last friday as scotty and another mate (steve - we all worked together 10 years ago in a computer software store!) had lunch in the city. scotty and i grew up together and it was on our 3-month journey through africa, europe, and the United States that i first came to visit Asbury Seminary...and that visit in 1997 was the beginning of a very slippery slope :)

anyway, we are hanging out again and enjoying our friendship and the joy of our wives getting to know each other.  we're also glad to introduce our sons to one another.  there is a strange comfort in being with life-long friends.  it's easy to pick up from where you left off, be it months or years since the last visit.  there's also a sadness in this particular circumstance, knowing our lives are rooted in very distant places.  but for now i'm relishing the chance to talk about old times, enjoy banter about footy and movies, and to share hopes and aspirations we have for ourselves and our children.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

3 quick pics


a portrait of isaac at a coastal park...he climbed into an enclosure and i thought his cheeks matched the red paint nicely


sherry getting the hang of driving on the *right* side of the road


the beautiful banksia plant

the witness of a baptism


this morning we attended kev and kath's church in footscray, an inner-city suburb of melbourne.  it is a poor area, yet rich in diversity from the settlement of immigrants and refugees from all over the world.  their church, itself, is beautifully diverse with members from ethiopia, india, greece, malaysia, china, uganda, italy, botswana, and the philippines.  Today we witnessed the baptism of a young indian man.

geoff's father, kevin, assisted in leading the ritual and in blessing him.  another friend, andrea, read a letter sent from his mother in india.  in the letter written to her son for the congregation's hearing, she thanked god for god's grace and saving work in their lives.  she rejoiced that her son belongs to the lord.  it was powerful to behold and deeply moving.  he made his statement of faith and he was "dunked" in a baptismal pool and he came up wet and new.  the children were gathered at the front to see upclose this fundamental act of faith.

in the end, we sang and the children blew bubbles.  from a far corner of the world, we were reminded of the faithful, loving and unifying work of god across cultures.


Friday, February 23, 2007

a chance to sew

i attended my first sewing class this afternoon. when kath told me about a local shop that offers beginners classes i was thrilled. as laura knows, i've wanted to sew for years and i've tried to find a class in lexington with no success . this program is really flexible - you can pay for as many classes as you'd like and if you can't come one week, you can make up a class at a different time. the classes are comprised of a mix of experience levels and, of course, i am the brand- spanking new, very green one in the group.

sewing will provide me with a long-sought after hobby. it will be an ordinary activity of life here that i can participate in while we're living here and it is something kath and i can do it together (she is good and experienced). in addition, it is useful and redemptive, a skill that can be helpful in so many ways. i am very thankful for this opportunity.

(sherry, even though geoff knows more than i do in this area)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

our restless nights

so isaac got in bed with us at about 3 a.m. (this has happened the last 13 of 14 nights) and he was itching and itching his feet.  i finally turned on the light to see what was troubling him and his feet were covered in bites of some sort.  the poor little man was so disturbed he couldn't sleep.  i got up to dig through the bathroom for an anti-itch ointment.  unsuccessful, i came to get geoff and ran into a massive spider on the laundry room door.  now these spiders are something else.  known as a huntsman, apparently they are benign spiders that come into the house and sit in corners for days and watch family activity.  the body of this one was about the size of a quarter and 3' wide in diameter.  when i saw it i almost vomited.  i went reeling into the bedroom, trying to keep my composure for isaac's sake, and sent geoff out after it.  he came back saying "oh, that's just a baby one."  after isaac was settled and asleep in our bed, i laid there with tremors and nightmares about spiders the size of dinner plates blocking the door, or spiders leaping on me or getting caught in my hair.  it was a long, sleepless night.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

a time of dryness

dry creek bed

a dry creek bed

it is ash wednesday and we observe it with sadness to be so far from our family of faith. lent, holy week and easter are particularly meaningful for our community in lexington - a time of waiting, repenting, celebrating, and journeying together. but we are here with gratitude for this very special season in our lives.

we were moved and inspired by this passage, one of the ash wednesday verses, from 2nd corinthians 6:4-10

"...as servants of god we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisionments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the holy spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of god; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying , and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."


Monday, February 19, 2007

forge kick-off evening

ulifelast night we attended the first official forge event for upcoming interns.  the intent of the evening was to present the purpose and goals of forge and register students for the year.  it was hosted at a venue owned by a church - a very clever, hip space - a nightclub turned cafe and meeting space.   kim did a presentation, introduced the staff and we ate pizza. 

we had a chance to meet with the pioneering stream leader and the other folks we'll be working with before the evening began.  during the event, we were introduced to the students as the smart ones who'll be grading all the essays (i don't know where kimmy gets his information).  kim, the director, did a brilliant job casting the missional vision of forge, from his own personal experience as a forge intern years ago.  we love this guy - he is gentle, humble, understated and very funny, you can't help but want to be his best friend.

at the end of the evening, one of the workers prayed with the students we were with in the pioneering stream (people focusing on a project outside the church walls) and she ended the prayer with "good on you god, amen."  Only australians...

here's the first paragraph of a letter all the prospective students received:

"To Forge interns:

Good on you for signing up for an internship through Forge.  At Forge, we are absolutely committed to helping you develop missionary identity and pioneering leadership skills.  The Forge staff team and invited speakers and coaches are all here to serve and learn with you and cheer you on in your journey of training."

they are such outstanding people.  the privilege we have of working with these people is so overwhelmingly good.


seeing the light

great news today from the australian federal government.  they are phasing out the old-style light bulbs.  see the story


good on you, aussies.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

our weekend

the three of us had a lovely but lonely weekend together.  after a busy week with forge meetings, we were eager to be with isaac and relax our minds.  kev and kath, however, had to return to adelaide to continue to assist with nana and comfort her during her stay in hospital.  we missed them the entire time.

friday morning isaac prayed for rain.  we went to a nearby mall to escape the heat of the day and get some exercise.  i love walking through the malls here because they are full of shops i've never seen before.  and, every mall has a grocery attached and multiple news agents.  isaac loves it as he can run full-on through the crowds and never get bored.  friday evening we had treasured rain fall (prayers were answered) and we relaxed at home.

saturday promised even more heat, but we were prepared.  we walked together through the neighborhood in the early morning, then we headed for the beach.  we spent the morning at the beach until the sun peaked and it was time to retreat indoors.  it was delightful because the crowds hadn't emerged and the beach was quiet.   and the tide was out.  at altona beach (the bay, not the ocean), we are able to walk out into the water about 100 yards and sit on sand banks.  isaac can safely splash around and begin to grow comfortable in the water. 

after a nap, we returned to the beach and found it in a totally different state.  it was after 4 p.m., the roads were blocked off for pedistrian traffic and as far as the eye could see, there were people enjoying the water.  after a hot afternoon indoors, it was beautiful to sit in the cool water and watch the masses.  again, i was amazed at the ordinary state of diversity here.  i heard half a dozen different languages as people strolled by.  i also marvelled at how relaxed everyone was.  there were people of all shapes and sizes, beautiful mothers with their children, 60 year old women in bikinis.  no one seemed self-conscious or uptight, except me.

we dragged ourselves from the water around 6 p.m. saturday evening and drove on to williamstown - a small, historic port town just before the bridge to melbourne, in fact you can see the city's skyline through the masts of yachts that clutter the horizon.  we ate pizza and walked to a park for isaac to use up his last bits of energy.  we were sun-weary and so relaxed.

sunday we drove into the city to attend st. martin's church.  this is the church in which geoff grew up and kev and kath worked along side john and glena smith in ministry for a long time.  it is the church of the famous "god squad" - missional order to outlaw bikers like hell's angels.  it always promises to be interesting.  we arrived after the service had started and there was standing room only.  it must have been just shy of 100 degrees inside and i knew my capacity to cope would be limited.  they had planned a lovely service/ritual for ordination for two workers in the community.  we sat in the back.  i sat between two women, one half crazy and the other a lovely chinese woman talking of her time of persecution while living in indonesia.  there was a bloke asleep under the tea table (right next to us) and a transgender fellow sitting next to geoff.  bikers were everywhere and children played beneath the feet of parents despite the stiffling heat.  we were really happy to see uncle pete in the corner.  unfortunately, i only lasted an hour and we left.

we were meant to go to geoff's dear friend scotty's house to have lunch with him, his wife dan and their 14 month old, jonathan.  we'd left the house in the morning without their phone number or any directions.   we had only visited them one time three years ago.  we speculated about our destination (which is on the other side of the bay from us) so we headed south out of the city and down the coast a bit to the beautiful suburbs of the east.  after driving around awhile (with isaac on his 22nd time of asking "are we there yet") we stopped for a host gift and called geoff's dad in adelaide to ask for scotty's address.  big kev is faithful and always comes through with the goods.  it turns out we were quite wrong with our guessing, and twenty minutes later, we arrived at their house.   we spent a long and restful afternoon with them, with geoff and scotty talking for hours and my getting to know dan better.  she is one the most witty and charming women i've met and i found her company delightful.  we finally left because his parents were due soon for dinner.

on the way home, we stopped at mcdonald's to get an ice cream cone for isaac (and two for us).  poor isaac is convinced it is called "frank's" because months ago, in a futile attempt to protect him from "branding", we told him that was the name of this ever-present establishment.  now he won't believe otherwise. 

after isaac had gone to bed, we reflected on the weekend and the gnawing bit of melancholy we were both feeling, despite a great few days together.  it was clear that we were longing for kev and kath.  without them here, it didn't feel like home.  they are our grounding stakes here in australia and together, as a family, we find comfort.  we felt a bit like strangers or housesitters without them.  and all weekend isaac asked after them as he would run through the front door calling out to them.  they'll return today, after hard work and heartache, to a very eager threesome.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

communality in the news

will posted a link on 'the ashram' to an article in our lexington paper about communality....we loved it.

read it here

Questions of fidelity

It’s hot today, something like 95 degrees. I’m hoping Geoff and Isaac don’t speak to me because it’s too much effort to answer. I found myself sitting in front of the television watching an ABC documentary on sea lions and the hunting habits of killer whales; I was entirely too cranky to read. But with the little reading I did, from the Saturday’s Age, I was astounded.

In one part of the paper, the weekend magazine, I read an extract from a new book by a marriage therapist who suggests infidelity can be the best thing for a married life…hmmm. The book is titled “Mating in Captivity.” The article begins with the statement “The moment two people become a couple, they begin to deal with Boundaries – what is in and what is out…and the mother of all boundaries, the reigning queen, is fidelity.” My first thought was why can’t a lifelong covenant be the mother of all liberty – the liberty to grow and become more human in the face of the other’s resolute commitment of love. It seems to me her argument boils down to a defense of radical individualism. She argues that “my patients who adhere closely to this ethos of intimacy (building closeness) wind up feeling that their individual aspirations, or those of their partner, are no longer legitimate. The invincible we supersedes the puny I.” In addressing the “fantasy of infinite variety” as a given part of human nature, this therapist offers inviting alternatives into the marriage (like a third person or an affair), instead of overcoming inevitable temptation.

After that (and three glasses of water), I turned to another section of the Age, and read a very interesting article about product design and sustainability. This article is titled “To have and to hold on to”…hmmm.  In this piece, the author laments our fickle consumer habits and how quickly we discard an object for a new and improved model. With moral indignation, he frames our “adulterous consumption” with devastating statistics like “only one percent of all materials flowing through the US economy ends up in products still being used six months after manufacture.” The goal of these newly emerging “sustainable designers” is to come up with “emotionally durable design” in an attempt to encourage consumers to adopt a more monogamous relationship to things.

How about that? What are things coming to when, in the very same newspaper, two articles addressing entirely different areas of life – marriage therapy and product design – both speak directly about questions of fidelity and offer conflicting solutions to what ails us. So, for the integrity and sake of the environment, it is prescribed that we should have more lasting relationships with our things and practice contentment whenever possible. But when it comes to a suffering marriage, shopping outside the bounds of covenant might be the very thing to rejuvenate commitment.

I am no biblical scholar or expert of issues of faith and marriage, nor am I an authority on trends of consumerism and materialism, but something deep in me revolts as I read this. And then, I think of the covenant God, who throughout human history acts as a faithful spouse to a faithless people. It seems to me that the ways of Jesus turn our resolutions upside down and call us to a love that prefers the needs of others above our own.  It is a potently counter-cultural answer to our woes about fidelity, but I think it is the only one.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

boot camp and feelings of home

as sherry posted below, we have been spending some time this week with national leaders in forge.  it has been an honor to sit in as they talk through the nature of their work and to listen their honest self-audit.  they are a remarkable group of people who God has clearly used to change the way many people think about mission, church, and kingdom in this country.

for a mob of aussie blokes they were very hospitable and to say we learned a lot would be a gross understatement.  however, one of the key moments for me had less to do with matters of missional thinking and more to do with culture and adaptation.

at one point i picked up a cup of tea and a handful of lollies (candy) and sat down in my chair.  i found myself listening to the voices of each person almost like one listens to instrumental music - for the melody and rhythm and beat.  after a couple of minutes i realised i was grinning like, as my father-in-law would say with his golden-syrup-southern accent, a goat eatin' briars.   i must have looked like a fool there with a wide smile as the team discussed serious issues.  but i felt so richly that i was home among my (strangely charming) people.  i was enjoying this moment when much of what i have learned during my 8 years in the US was submitted to a more elementary cultural training.  i was glad to know that i can still, in some modified way, feel at home in this country.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

our own forge intensive

this week we are participating in the forge leaders boot camp.  they are staying at a catholic retreat center in the city and we are coming in each day for the meetings and discussions.  it is probably the most important event we will attend while we are here.   Alan Hirsch is officially transfering his leadership to a guy from Perth and he is reviewing his book, step-by-step, and restating forge "DNA" as they call it.  We are meeting people from all our the country and working next to the Vic team more closely.  We feel really honored to be at such an 'insiders' gathering and really impressed with how open the team is to our presence.  We'll post more.  We're off to catch the train.

Monday, February 12, 2007

dame edna

sherry and i had the special privilege of a night with dame edna everage at the state theatre on sunday.  for those of you who know who the dame is i need not say more...but for those less fortunate readers, here's a take on the show from me and then sherry will give her 'outsiders' reflections.

i have grown up with the dame but, until last night, had never seen her live.  it was wildly entertaining...part stand-up comedy, part cabaret, and part audience-humiliation.  barry humphries is the comedian who plays dame edna, a 1950's housewife from the suburbs of melbourne who has risen to mega(giga!)stardom.  humphries has several other characters such as the deceased sandy stone (who visits us from beyond and gives us a post-mortem view of life and aged care) and  sir les patterson (the slovenly and depraved cultural attache to britain). 

humphries uses these characters to distort ordinary life and to subsequently bring us the truth about ourselves...our absurd obsession with celebrity and appearances (dame edna), the twisted, australian delight in the seedy side of things (les patterson), and our shameful treatment of the aged (sandy stone).  anyway, i could go on and on.  a great night and thanks to an insider friend we had incredible seats and ended up sitting right behind 'Kim' from the australian hit comedy (of the equally dark, satirical persuasion as the dame), "Kath & Kim."

dame edna part II

“Fetish of respectability”

Seeing a performance of Dame Edna’s “Back with a Vengeance” was truly delightful. As an American, there was much I couldn’t understand – comments on recent political situations, the vast range of Australian slang, and at times the heavy accent of his character Sir Les Patterson. With that said though, it was fantastic, the highest quality of live performance (obviously, he is renowned in London and on Broadway). He is a rare breed – brilliant, perceptive, sarcastic humor from a character actor. I laughed so much it hurt. Simultaneous with this cultural encounter with Dame Edna, I am learning a great deal from a well-known Australian novel - My Brother Jack. From both, I find parallel perspectives on a particular time in Melbourne’s history – post war boom and emerging middle class values in the suburbs.

Here is a passage from this book by George Johnston. It is set in the 1940s. The protagonist’s bleak reflections on his life in the newly forming suburbs of Melbourne are quite similar to the affluent suburbs in which Barry Humphries grew up and the setting which he parodies and from which he extracted his character Dame Edna –

“…my elevation provided me with the first opportunity I had had to look out over all the Beverly Park Gardens Estate, and there was nothing all around me, as far as I could see, but a plain of dull red rooftops in their three forms of pitching and closer to hand the green squares and rectangles of lawns intersected by ribbons of asphalt and cement, and I counted nine cars out in Beverley Grove being washed and polished. In the slums, I reflected, they had a fetish about keeping front door-knobs polished, but here in the ‘good’ respectable suburbs the fetish was applied to cars and to gardens, and there were fixed rituals about this, so that hedges were clipped and lawns trimmed and bed weeded…and the people would see that these things were so no matter what desolation or anxiety or fear was in their hearts, or what spiritless endeavours or connubial treacheries were practiced behind the blind neat concealment of their thin red-brick walls.”

miscellanous quotes

"...99 per cent of western church income is spent on itself." -ash barker, make poverty personal

"imagination is more important than knowledge."  - einstein

"a garden makes me think of the future" - movie, my house in umbria

"mommy, god made my bottom." -isaac paul maddock

Saturday, February 10, 2007

philip island


a special holiday place for my family is an island about 90 mins drive south-east of melbourne.  it's special for several reasons.  it is the region where my mum's family is from.  my grandfather was a coal miner near the island and it's where i learned to surf and enjoy the ocean. DSC_7821

yesterday we went down there for a drive and visited an animal park.  it is here isaac had his first real-life encounters with kangaroos and koalas.  it was a great hands-on wildlife park and isaac had a great time hugging the kangaroos.  we also had a wonderful seafood platter for lunch at the san remo pub.  here's isaac feeding a baby wallaby (above), and below is the sleepy koala, the pre-historic-looking cassawary bird, and the whole family feeding an emu and a kangaroo.




lilies on brougham

rob's hut 2one day last week we visited friends of Kev and Kath's.  They own a home that runs seamlessly into a nursery, tearoom, and boutique.  He is a renowned landscape architect and designer, specializing in australian natives.  She is a down under version of martha stewart turned european.  the shop she created is filled with imports from france. 

we met rob, the husband, and he graciously lead us through the garden - a mix of natives, flowering perennials, vegetables and a fruit orchard.  he showed us their house - a stunning cottage like nothing i've ever seen before.  outside, it was covered in ivy and vines with huge hydrangeas in bloom.  inside it looked as if we were standing in the pages of an architectural digest magazine.  everything was decorated in french provincial style with shades of white, natural and linen.  It took my breath away.  In the cafe, we shared a cuppa and a piece of lime pear cheesecake.

see www.boylelandscape.com.au

Friday, February 9, 2007

ordinary pleasures

food is often the center of my world - i love to eat it, cook it, grow it.  being in australia has afforded me the sensory-filled delights of shopping at open-air markets, eating fresh in-season food, and cooking with fine ingredients.DSC_7413_edited-1

shopping - as a household, we've committed to a weekly shop in the city at the vic market.  it is not only cheaper than the grocery, it is stocked with local and regional produce with an array that is mindboggling.  sunday morning (we skipped church) the three of us went in and bought cheese from tasmania, olives, sundried tomatoes, fresh ground peanut butter, croissants, bacon and a newspaper.  since we've been here, we've eaten more fruit and veg than i can remember - mangoes, peaches, avacodos, asaragus, tomatoes, garden cukes, beans, beets, lots of greens, lettuce and good australian garlic.

dairy - unbelievable in this country.  the every day stuff is great.  at the grocery we can get greek yogurt, pouring cream, custard, king island double cream (used in devonshire tea), and cadbury's ice cream.  at the market we can buy goat feta,  fresh ricotta in mounds, and cheeses of every kind.

baking - i've enjoyed this especially because it slows me down.  in order to use metric measures and kath's scale, i really have to take my time.  the ingredients here are so lovely to bake with - the butter comes eurpean style and the eggs are so real the yolks are a rich dark orange, almost red.  the other day i made a cake from one of kath's favorite recipes - a lemon pound cake.  i used lemons from uncle pete's backyard.  i thought it would be perfect, but i messed up the oven setting and it sat in a lukewarm oven for an hour just bubbling until i realized it.  It was edible in the end.  i also had fun making a cafe-style rhubarb cake with some of kath's fresh rhubarb.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

a boy's perspective

tonight as i put isaac to bed he asked me "mommy, why do they say 'boot' here?"

(he's referring to the use of the word boot that we, in the u.s., call the trunk of a car - it has confused him for weeks).

i answered him that in different places people use different words to describe the same thing.

then isaac asked me "i call you mommy in lexington, kentucky, what do i call you here?"

my heart ached as i thought of the adjustment his little mind is making, far ahead of the predicted timing of culture shock for an adult.  and i was reminded immediately of our reliance upon the grace and the comfort of god no matter where we are.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Straight Up Down Under

We were very proud to stroll through a Christian bookshop here in Melbourne (Koorong) and happen upon Lisa Samson's newest book, "Straight Up". Far apart worlds collided and Kev snapped this shot with his mobile for our travel records. I've read it. I loved it. It might be time for an antipodean book tour Lisa. Wish you were here.



i had the joy (along with 50,000 others) of watching the Australian cricket team play the other night.  they were playing New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground - a holy site for many Australian sports lovers.  i had such a great time at the game and i cherished every moment as cricket is one of the treasures i miss since living in the US. 


for all you sceptics out there (and you know who you are) here is famous travel writer Bill Bryson's outsiders take on the great game...

“After years of patient study (and with cricket there can be no other kind) I have decided that there is nothing wrong with the game that the introduction of golf carts wouldn’t fix in a hurry. It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. I don’t wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game. It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as players (more if they are moderately restless). It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking, in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning.

Imagine a form of baseball in which the pitcher, after each delivery, collects the ball from the catcher and walks slowly with it out to centre field; and that there, after a minute’s pause to collect himself, he turns and runs full tilt towards the pitcher’s mound before hurling the ball at the ankles of a man who stands before him wearing a riding hat, heavy gloves of the sort used to handle radioactive isotopes, and a mattress strapped to each leg. Imagine moreover that if this batsman fails to hit the ball in a way that heartens him sufficiently to try to waddle sixty feet with mattresses strapped to his legs he is under no formal compulsion to run; he may stand there all day, and, as a rule, does. If by some miracle he is coaxed into making a misstroke that leads to his being put out, all the fielders throw up their arms in triumph and have a hug. Then tea is called and everyone retires happily to a distant pavilion to fortify for the next siege. Now imagine all this going on for so long that by the time the match concludes autumn has crept in and all your library books are overdue. There you have cricket.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

turkish BLT

mmm, mmm good.  our favorite new sanger (aussie slang for sandwich) is bacon, lettuce and tomato on turkish bread.  it's hard to believe i was a vegetarian for 10 years.  we start with fresh-cut butcher bacon from the market (it very similar to canadian or english bacon) fried up brown, sliced tomatoes from kath or marg's garden, lettuce and a little mayo and alot of sea salt.  we just had one for lunch.

mum and dad

DSC_7257_edited-1for those of you who might be interested but don't know, this is my mum and dad.  they are missionary heroes to me and increasingly so as i get older and better understand the struggles and joys of life.  they are country people who left dairy farming in the middle of their lives to move into melbourne.  dad is field director for prison fellowship (pf) in victoria which means he spends most of each week in jails in a chaplaincy role.  he also does work in the court system and with families of inmates while training and equipping pf volunteers.  mum was a nurse who has gone back to school in recent years to train as a hospital chaplain.  she currenlty works in a local cancer hospital while also serving on the pastoral staff at their church.  while we are here they will be teaching us about sustainable service - how they have managed to remain faithful to the loving and just ways of jesus over so many years while caring for others and leading them into the same kind of living.

australians and their beach

it is no overblown stereotype - australians love to be outdoors and go to the beach.  it is as if it is written across their dna.  on any given day around 5 pm, after school or work, they flood the beaches - families, surfers, retirees.  on saturday, we rode our bikes from home along a nature reserve footpath to the local beach (a seven minute drive, 25 minute bike ride).  the weather was stunning, 75 degrees with piercing blue skies.  by no means was the beach overcrowded, yet is was brimming with happy people in their sun hats and umbrellas.  we stopped at the park across from the beach and i sat under a grand morton bay fig tree (looks like a magnolia with a 40 foot canopy and its roots above ground) as geoff went to the shops and isaac played.  as i watched isaac, i noticed that people were stretched out in every direction playing cards, sleeping on blankets, eating picnics of fish and chips.  They were filling up outdoor space and soaking it in with such ease; I was envious of such a disposition. 

repeatedly, geoff and i have observed and remarked about how similar parts of australian culture are to what we know of bosnians.  both love the water (the sea), outdoor sidewalk cafes, good coffee, and relaxing for hours in the company of one another.  our dear friends aida and dino are on our minds and we wish we could transport them here with us just for a day like this.

Monday, February 5, 2007



jimmy is a very dear and long-time family friend.  when i was just a lad of 7 he came and lived with my family.  he stayed with us for almost two years and since then we have always been in contact.  mum and dad help him with his health issues and general wellbeing.  last week we had a party to celebrate his 64th birthday.  jimmy is my australian football guru...he knows all there is to know about the game and it's history.  he also knows quite a lot about horse racing but he's trying to stay away from the TAB (betting agency).

[below - from right to left...dad, geoff, jimmy, al]


the kangaroo paw

DSC_7301i love this plant.  we bought one at a local market for mum's garden the other day.  for me it typifies australian flora, reflecting the oddity and colors of the landscape - a floral icon perhaps.


nana update

thanks for your prayers about my grandmother.  she came through surgery without a problem.  the next stage is to decide about where she will recieve her rehabilitation.  such is her health that it is most likely she won't be able to live alone again.  hopefully we can find a place here in melbourne for her to settle.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


friends and family, please pray at this time for Geoff's grandmother (his dad's mum). She fainted over the weekend and broke her hip. Geoff's parents (Kev and Kath) drove the 10 hours to Adelaide to be with her. She is 85.

anyway, we are still in melbourne and expect kev and kath to return late monday night. we appreciate your prayers.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The love of the library

Talk about feeling grounded and adjusted, we were issued a library card yesterday. We went down to the local library with Kath first so she could show us around – it is in walking distance, next to the shops. We returned with a piece of mail (proof of address) and Geoff’s passport and now we’re in. as a family, we cherish the public library. It is an integral part of our weekly outings in Lexington and we are pleased to so quickly establish it as part of our routine here (especially for isaac’s sake). At any given time, we can check out 25 items. Of course we’ll exercise a considerable amount of constraint since we recently proved ourselves somewhat unreliable with borrowed items in Lexington (I won’t mentioned any names, Geoff) and we are a bit foggy with the cultural change. I did check out a contemporary Australian classic, “My Brother Jack” by George Johnston. I intentionally left books at back in the States so I would have the space and desire to delve into Australian books while we’re here. So much can be understood about a place and people through its literature and fictional characters. I noticed one department in the library with periodicals and recent materials that is divided into sections by language – Vietnamese, Serbian, Chinese, to name a few, and this, in a small neighborhood branch. Diversity here is interwoven into the ordinary fabric of life and I love it. At this new and innovative library, you don’t even need a librarian to assist with check out. They have a station where you scan it yourself.