Just when you thought it was safe…

Where do I begin? Shall I tell you about my lovely four-year-old who decided that he would demonstrate to me the correct way to wash the toilet…with his electric toothbrush?

Perhaps I should tell you how my highly intelligent friend (Let’s call her Lobe) called me out…in the rain to let her into her house so that she could pick up her house-key after locking herself out? It may sound like a boring story, but her car keys were inside and she had an urgent appointment to go to. Did I mention that it was bucketing rain? So I zoom over there, heroic music blaring from the car stereo (thankfully I have never returned the key I borrowed so that I could pinch all her free range eggs while she was on holiday…with her permission of course). We did the hasty dash and got her indoors to collect her keys (Day saved! Hooray for me), but it appears I was too hasty and should not have left her alone. She dragged her soggy self into the car with a relieved slop and tried to start the car. Nothing. Again. Nothing. She was seconds away from calling the RAA to come help her start her car when she remembered the last time this happened and she had to explain to the RAA guy why exactly she had waited till he got there to check whether or not her automatic car was in Drive. Lobe checked the car but this time, it was in neutral as it should be. Still no start up so she’d have to call the RAA> She fumbled in the pile of stuff in her lap for her phone….soggy scarf…soggy sandwich…soggy handbag….keys….phone…wait! Did she just see her keys? God bless her, my flustered friend was trying to start her car sans keys….poor darling! Still, she hadn’t called the RAA yet, so she saved face at least!

If I don’t tell you those stories, the only one left is this one: My friend (who shall remain nameless to protect the identity of his barrista) is a  highly respectable health care professional. He and a colleague stopped in at their regular coffee shop to order his mid-morning coffee, a tall white latte, ideal for a Thursday morning pick-me-up…only to have this turn up instead…

Thankfully his work colleague thought it was an owl…which took away the awkward question about which side to start drinking from! He is nervous to ask for his regular short black just in case his friendly neighbourhood barrista gets any ideas… [I probably have to say that the two men are friends and that the joke was not unusual…and that some of the details have been changed to save the awkward wordiness of attributing the owl reference to some random old lady who was ordering a cup of chino at the same time….it may have been funnier if I admitted that the said friend’s wife had been overseas on business for while when this event took place and that he could have actually had an owl design and still seen a naked lady in his coffee…I think he showed me the picture to get a second opinion and a referral for anti-psychotic meds if needs be…]

Life is full of surprises…you gotta roll with the punches…and never stop laughing!

 

Advertisements

This is where I’ve been…

Thank you, Faithful Blog Follower, for your patience with my absence. This is where I have been, preparing this story for a talk I did this morning. It was for a group of people who believe in God and so it is unapologetically faith-centred. If that’s not your cup of tea, please feel free to read no further. I am not out to convert anyone, and even atheists are welcome here. For those of you who have requested this, please show me the courtesy of not reproducing this work without my permission but you may freely post a link to this page to share it if you wish. Many thanks and enjoy. X Arianne

The Mirror, by Arianne Coad

There once was a girl, just an ordinary girl, who was loved by an extraordinary God. She knew Him, and loved Him, and followed Him even though she couldn’t quite understand how someone like Him could even like someone like her.

One day, while she was singing her ordinary songs to him and pouring out her ordinary heart at his extraordinary feet, she saw something that she could only describe as a vision. Out of the spotty blackness that she usually saw when she closed her eyes, an object began to materialize: an antique mirror with a gilded frame, it’s glass smooth and clean. It was beautiful, but even more breathtaking, was the voice that spoke to her saying:

“This is you. Reflect me.”

The girl was astounded; the extraordinary God had spoken to her? What was it that he said? Reflect me.

Stepping forward, she took her first peek into the miraculous mirror to see what amazing vision awaited her. Her face fell, there was nothing but an ordinary, disheveled and boring girl staring back at her, with a gawping goldfish mouth and straggly hair.

“I look nothing like Him,” she sighed, her disappointment a constricting lump in her throat. “He is perfect, and I am plain,” she thought. “He is beautiful and I am a mess. He is strong and I am weak. I’m just an ordinary girl. I am not up to this task.” 

Had it been anyone other that the extraordinary God who gave her this job, she would have run a mile, but she loved Him and if He asked her to reflect Him, she would do her best.

She looked at her reflection again, there was so much to do. She listed her deficiencies one by one, starting at the top with her hair, and stopping at her chin when it became too depressing to continue. “I’ll start with this list and move on to the rest of me after,” she said.

For an hour and a half, she primped and preened, combed and teased, and pinned and sprayed her hair. She cleansed and moisturized her skin, squeezed pimples and plucked stray hairs until her eyebrows arched over her eyes like the Harbour Bridge. She set to work with her concealer and foundation, blemish fixer and primer, pencils and brushes and powders, cremes and mascara and all manner of techniques until she brought her face and it’s parts under control. The girl in the mirror looked a little better, a little less like her.

She steeled herself with her very best Sunday Happy Face and lowered her gaze to the rest of her body. Her spirits plummeted. “I can’t do this,” she whispered in despair, “I’ve got nothing to work with here. What a disappointment I must be to Him.”

She started to cry, messing up her perfectly winged eyeliner and spreading mascara halfway down her cheeks. “I hate myself.” A dark thought flitted across her mind but she shook it off. “I used to want to die,” she thought, “so I guess it is progress that I’m just crying about it.” 

Defeated and hopeless, she admitted that she is a bad person, a bad Christian, a bad example. What was her extraordinary God thinking asking an ordinary girl like her to reflect Him?

The shadow that enveloped her was cold and lonely, until she heard that Father-voice again, the voice that breaks in and breaks through, and breaks down and breaks out. “You’ve misunderstood, dear girl. I am not interested in your reflection in the mirror. You are the mirror. You are the mirror.” In an instant she was broken down, and broken out and broken free. “You are not meant to look into a mirror, to gaze at it until you see perfection,” He said, “You are not meant to work at it until you see a perfect reflection. You are called to be a mirror, to reflect perfection.” 

“Hmm,” she thought. “Not a perfect reflection but to reflect perfection.” And all of a sudden it made sense. She was called to be a reflection of Him who is perfect, to gaze at His perfection so that others could see Him. “Extraordinary Him reflected in the glass of ordinary me,” she thought. “As long as I look at Him, when others look at me, they will see him, His beauty, His strength, His compassion, His gentleness, His acceptance, His strength, His tenderness, His love.”

The dawning of that thought in her heart was enough to blow away all the shadows of her inadequacy, to silence all the criticisms of her ordinariness, to dispel all the anxieties about her performance. She was not the object on display, He was.

“Reflect perfection,” she thought, “I can do that.”

Extolling the virtues of a cup of tea…

When I have shuffled off this mortal coil, am dead, have crossed over to the other side…and they perform the autopsy on my mortal remains, the pathologist in charge will be shocked to discover that 70% of my chemical make-up is tea. Not the eat it at 6pm kind of tea, but the drink it at all hours of the day and night kind of tea. Pekoe, plain and simple.

There is very little else in the way of worldly luxuries that I esteem more highly than this little cup of liquid heaven. I think it is the English in me that loves my cuppa with a passion verging on the religious. The simple act of brewing a pot of tea and pouring the liquid gold into a waiting cup to be sipped slowly in quiet meditation is enough to perk me up at the end of a painful day. So here it is, the secret of happiness according to Arianne:

Knock over a rubbish bin reversing in the car park at your children’s school? Make a pot of tea.

Have an argument with a stranger over who saw the parking space first? Make a pot of tea.

Miss your bus by 5 minutes and spend the next 55 minutes standing in the freezing cold waiting for the next one? Make a pot of tea.

Find out that the four page document that you have been editing for two hours was the six month old version of the document you thought you were working on? Make a pot of tea.

Find ten birthday party invitations (that you told your friend you would give to other friends to save her the postage)…a month after the party has already been and gone? Make a pot of tea before you call her to own up…and one for afterwards as well.

Get home from an hour and a half at the grocery store (involving two trips to the toilet at the other end of the mall because “I desperately need a poo, Mommy”) to discover that you still didn’t get toilet paper? Make a pot of tea.

Find out that your BFF has just told everyone you know that you had an extreme bikini wax that stopped short of your top lip by three centimeters? Make a pot of tea.

Give birth to a 4.9kg baby and redecorate your nether regions? Make a pot of tea.

Find out that your friend’s husband has gambled away everything they had? Make her a pot of tea (and cry with her).

Find out that you weren’t pregnant by mistake when you thought you were and realise that you had secretly been wishing that you were? Make a pot of tea.

Put  your foot in your mouth? Make a pot of tea.

Find one of those unwanted photographs in your mailbox, the ones of your car doing 15km/hr more than was legally legal? Make a pot of tea.

Tell your friend’s husband (entirely by accident) that she just bought a $2000.00 food processor? (Really, who doesn’t tell their husband that? She is going to kill me when I confess!) Make a pot of tea.

Run out of things to say? Make a pot of tea.

It’s simple really. In the time it takes to fill the kettle, put it on the stove to boil (I have a delicious fire-engine red stovetop kettle that ‘whistles’ like the five o’clock train- we call it the tea o’clock express), warm the pot, fill the milk jug and gather the cups, empty the warming water from the pot and deposit the leaves/bag and pour the steaming water on top…you have forgotten what it was that that was making you feel so jittery/upset/stressed. By the time you take the stress/thought up again, you have gained control of those raging emotions. I understand why the japanese make such a fuss of the tea ceremony, it’s therapeutic. In fact, I feel a little therapy coming on right now….how about you?

So you think you have problems…

Let’s just say that someone we all know  [who shall remain nameless in an attempt to preserve what dignity she has left after the event I am about to describe to you]  had a meeting this week with people who were going to critique some of her writing.

Let’s say that she was excited to get the feedback, but nervous that things might also go horribly wrong, that she might discover her writing is trite, uninteresting and, in the vernacular, crap!

Let’s say that she took especial care to dress well, to do her make-up with care, to be on time.

Let’s say that she was equally nervous to offer her critiques on other people’s writing because she is no expert and could, potentially upset someone by being too frank, too stupid, or too poor a writer to be offering any kind of feedback. Let’s assume then  that she sat through the process of giving and receiving feedback with a small knot of apprehension in her stomach but with her mind focused on faking confidence until she began to feel it. [Don’t ask me how I know all this…just assume that I know what I am talking about].

Let’s just say that it went better than she expected, that her writing is passable and that she has room to grow. You would imagine that, in the light of her relief and the release of tension from her shoulders, the person in question would have nothing to worry about…

…nothing until, with horror, she realised that she had faked it, critiqued, listened attentively to her own critiques and discussed matters of writerly import…

…WITH HER SLIPPERS ON!!!!!

Moral of the story? I’m too embarrassed to come up with one just yet…will get back to you on that one!

Le hérisson…est un film magnifique!

This tender and heart-warming film is my foreign movie pick-of-the-week.Set in modern-day Paris, it touches delicately on the emerging existential angst of a young pre-teen girl from a wealthy family and the joy of unexpected friendships. Frech movie. English subtitles. Worth seeing…twice!

Renee is the concierge (janitor) of a grande Parisian apartment building and conforms perfectly to the expectations of the residents; she is uncultured, bad-tempered and invisible. But Renee has a secret, her life as concierge is a facade. Behind closed doors she is a connoisseur of literature and the arts and is, in many ways, far more cultured than the wealthy people who employ her.

Paloma is a young girl tired of her mother’s neuroses, her father’s absence, her older sister’s self-centredness and she has decided that, on her twelfth birthday, she is going to kill herself. Paloma says that it is not how you die, but what you are doing when you die that is important; she will be making a movie about life. It is from behind the lens of her camera that she discovers Renee and finds, at last, a friend. Add to the mix the arrival of an elegant Japanese man, a goldfish and Paloma’s beautiful ink drawings which spring to life as line animations, and there is a heart-warming, life-affirming film that makes me wish I was able to read French so that I can go buy the book that inspired it. I loved it!!!! It even has a twist at the end!

What more could you ask for?!

Is that lemonade you have there?

There is, most likely, a security guard in Adelaide, who has spent the weekend telling anyone who will listen, about the unusual situation he witnessed at work on Friday.

He was monitoring the CCTV screens at Woolies looking for the usual shoplifters, trouble causers, and old ladies who suck the chocolate off of the scorched almonds before putting them in the bulk buy almond bin (why pay for what you don’t eat!). It was a few screen changes later that he noticed a tall lady with an adorable curly-haired boy of about four years old in the frozen food section. The little boy was hopping from foot-to-foot in what he assumed was a tantrum because the boy couldn’t get the ice-cream he wanted. But no, that couldn’t be it, there was a tub of ice-cream in the bulging trolly already. Oh no! Toilet emergency on aisle seven.

Just as he was about to radio the in-store  hygiene police, who had just fished the last of the pre-sucked almonds from the bulk buy bin, when he noticed something unusual. The mother-and-son duo had parked their trolly parallel to the frozen spinach and adjacent to the cup-a-soup display, creating an artificial cul-de-sac in the frozen food section. What were they up to? The mother fished something from her handbag and hunkered down next to the small boy speaking reassuringly to him and covertly scanning the area for onlookers, oblivious to his remote gaze. To his utter amazement, the mother surreptitiously placed a small, Dora the Explorer drink bottle in front of the boy. The guard zoomed out, feeling the awkwardness of his voyeurism a little too intensely. By the time the camera refocused, Dora the Explorer had released a new line of drinks…the Dora Lemonade…and one little boy looked not only relieved, but amused at the thought that someone might accidentally confuse the contents of his once stretched bladder for a refreshing (though warm) bottle of lemonade. The mother discreetly placed the bottle in her handbag from whence it had come, grateful that she had not thrown it in the bin before entering the store…

Congratulating themselves on a disaster averted and the ensuing embarrassment avoided, they left the frozen food aisle, no trace of their adventure left behind. No trace but a few minutes of CCTV footage and a bottle of lemonade….

…and the woman in question (who shall remain nameless) walked out of the store with everything on her list…except for the frozen spinach…and her husband’s cup-a-soup.