A Captive of Stuff

Some of you know that a couple of months ago we had a problem with the sewer in our basement. A drain in the floor of our basement got clogged and backed up, coming out all over the carpet, ruining much of our subfloor, and generally creating havoc in our lives.


The basement is where we kept our homeschool library, file cabinets with papers and office supplies, DVD and CD collection, and all other sorts of stuff. Some of this stuff was actively in use. Some of it, not so much.


For example, most of our homeschool library was picture books covering all kinds of stories and topics. We had picture books covering everything from Gilgamesh to Paper Airplane construction, the planet Mercury to the War of 1812. But my youngest is now in the 8th grade, so those books haven’t been used in a very long time.

But I held onto them. Someone might use them. I might find a way to sell them. I might find someone to give them to someday.

The CD’s… we paid good money for those CD’s back in the day. Granted, that was a couple of decades ago, and all the music is now either online or forgotten. We hadn’t listened to a CD in several years. But it felt somehow wasteful to get rid of them. We even had some VHS tapes on historical topics that Hubby used when he was teaching at the seminary. We don’t even have a way to play them, and haven’t in quite some time. But again, we paid good money for them, and they had been used before, and who knows? Maybe they’d get used again.

Well, the basement sewer fiasco was just what we needed, though we didn’t know it at the time. It sounds strange, but that may be one of the best things that happened to us in a while.


Since we now needed new carpet, and everything was going to have to be moved anyway, I took this opportunity to clean out, clear out, and get rid of. Some of the things needed to be kept, though, since they were actively in use, and the perfect place to put those things was our garage storage. The only problem? The garage storage was full of old children’s clothes. But as I said, my youngest is in the 8th grade. She’s almost done growing, and we’re not planning to have more children.

For years we did have stair-step children, and shopping meant going out to the garage, selecting the correct box of hand-me-downs, and hanging up the contents into the proper closet. I held onto them because I wasn’t absolutely sure we wouldn’t have more kids, then because it was a pain to get rid of them, and someone might want them someday. However, I held onto them SO long that the things were out of style, out of date, and the elastic on some of the underwear had become crunchy. Crunchy underwear is not good.

So we got rid of the clothes and got rid of the books. It felt strange, like a part of me had been cut off; it was somewhat painful, but also strangely liberating.

It was so liberating, in fact, that I just kept going. Hubby and I are both bibliophiles. We had a room lined with shelves filled with our books. We joke that practically all our furniture is given to us or found on the curb except our bookshelves. We’ve bought lots of bookshelves, and filled them with books. We even had many of our old college textbooks from over 2 decades ago. When was the last time we read any of the books? The dust on them told that tale. It had been quite a while.

I decided that anything that hadn’t been used recently was going. If we were moving (we’re not, but if we were.. ) and I wouldn’t move it across the country and then unpack it right away, I got rid of it.

Hats I used to wear? Gone. Textbooks for subjects the kids are beyond? Gone. Office supplies not used in forever? Gone.

It’s a strange phenomenon that by definition the stuff you don’t use up hangs around. Whiteboard markers that we have no whiteboard for would be around forever if I didn’t get rid of them. I mean, it’s not like they’re going to get used up; they’re not getting used at all ever.

In all this, the Lord started dealing with me about my reliance on stuff. My affection for the THINGS in my life. I don’t consider myself someone who needs a lot of stuff. I’m not a big shopper. I don’t buy things impulsively. I am not a clothes-hound. But I have held on to things. Things beyond their time. Things beyond their use. Things…just extra things.

We see examples in the Bible where God deals with people about this kind of thing. Oh, there’s not a blanket commandment to be stuff-less like there is to not have other gods. But if we’re not careful, our stuff can become a god, something that distracts us, that interferes with our focus on keeping the main thing the main thing, a weight that so easily besets us.

I think of the Rich Young Ruler, the early church who sold their possessions, the disciples who Jesus sent out without provisions.

Perhaps it’s just me that needed and still needs to be changed. After all, I still have a few closets to go through. I have a few closets already gone through that need a second combing-through, because I’m finding the process is a progressive one. As the readily-apparent things are cut away, I am able to see the less obvious ones, and as I have less and less, more and more focus happens.

Do I need extra decorations for the 90’s that I thought I might hang someday? No. Do I need shoes that my feet no longer let me wear in hopes that someday I will be able to? No. Do I need all the books by an author I really like that are also at the library? No.

As I need less, I am finding that I want less. As I want less I have less. As I have less, and want less and need less, I have more time and energy and focus to put into the people, the relationships, and the God of my life.

The worst part is getting started. Our sewer forced us to do it. Then we blocked out time on our calendar. The whole family pitched in and helped haul, sort, and catalogue our tax deductible donations, and haul some more.

We have gotten rid of over 4300 items. That’s 4300 items that someone else can be enjoying or gaining profit from. 4300 items I no longer have to dust, store, and provide space for. That’s not counting old paperwork and files that I no longer needed. And I’m not done.

Maybe you aren’t in such a bad state. We had 7 people in this house working on accumulating it, after all. Whatever the case, consider blocking some time, getting rid of some stuff, clearing your house, and by doing that, clearing your mind.

Then, don’t replace the stuff with new stuff. Keep your space. Keep your peace.

A Finger Raised Through Time And Space

I love cultures. I love thinking about cultures. Our church’s small group lessons for this term have made me think about it even more.

In Ghana hubby and I saw something that made us go ”Wow!” 😮. I don’t know if anyone else has ever noticed it. What I am about to tell you isn’t on the internet anywhere else that I can find.

If you have been around African American church culture you have seen folks raise the index finger of their right hand as they leave to use the restroom or whatever.

It’s even in the urban dictionary (linked below).

Snopes lists as “undetermined” the theory that it comes from the days of slavery and people asking to be excused.

Well, I can tell you I DON’T know the actual origin of it. But I DO know it goes at least all the way back to Ghana (in West Africa). Multiple times during the classes there, if a student needed to leave they would do the exact same thing. None of these people had ever been to America, and none of them had ancestors who were American. Chances are very high that many or most of them had ancestors who lost family members to slavery to “The New World” and have DNA in common with folks in those African American churches.

If anyone out there has a anthropology (or is that sociology) PhD to earn, I’m sure there are other commonalities as well that are just waiting to be dug out.

All The Bells And Whistles

I found out yesterday that the Hammond B3 organ I play every Sunday was made in 1958. It is in pristine condition. Over the years it has needed a vacuum tube or 2 changed (yes, it runs on vacuum tubes), but otherwise it has been faithfully whirring on demand for the past 60 years. 

I recently borrowed a coffee pot from my in-laws. People were coming over and I needed to make both decaf and regular. I only have my little 4-cup cheapie coffee maker. (By the way, who defined a “cup”? A pixie? A leprechaun? Because I need several “cups.”) My mother-in-law informed me that it was a wedding present for them about 48 years ago. I used it. It still worked. 

Also recently I have had to replace a few appliances, and they’re telling me that I should expect 10 years out of any appliance now. 

My mother owned the same dryer for 40ish years with no problem. My in-laws owned a deep freeze for a similar amount of time. 

But no, now we should expect to replace everything electrical in our house about every 10 years, including the water heater, A/C compressor, garbage disposal, fridge… everything. 

I know that doesn’t mean they WILL have to be replaced, but if they are, well, sorry, that’s just how it is. So we should be GLAD we squeezed a whole extra 2 years out and got a whopping 12 years out of the several-thousand-dollar whatever. 

Here’s the problem. We are the problem.

I borrowed this coffee pot from my in-laws that worked great. It made a whole 12 cups of coffee just as well as my newer one. The coffee tasted great. It wasn’t slower or anything. 

There was just one problem.

The machine didn’t have the little knobby on top of the pot to allow you to take the pot out in the middle of a brewing cycle and get a cup of coffee without it continuing to drip freshly-brewed coffee all over everywhere.

So I had guests who had to wait in the kitchen for it to finish brewing the whole pot before anyone could get a cup of coffee. It was awful. We had to stand around and talk and interact until the coffee was done. And our meeting was late getting started, probably a whole 2 minutes. (That’s sarcasm, in case you missed it)

You know what I did? I went on Amazon that night and bought a new coffee pot. 

Why? Because I want the fastest, most convenient features on my appliances. Oh, I pride myself on being frugal. I act it doesn’t matter. I will ride something until it dies, like repair-guy-says-there’s-no-hope dies. But even with my frugality, I have come to expect my dryer to keep tossing my clothes to prevent wrinkles until I am good and ready to take them out. I want my stove to have a timer that allows me to put dinner in the oven while it’s cold, set the timer to come on at a certain time at a certain temp and cook for a certain amount of time so I can go run an errand or attend a meeting or even take a nap. I really like the ice-maker & water filter built into the front of my fridge. And I suspect you expect similar things too.

Back to the Hammond Organ, though. Manufacturers have tried to recreate digitally the sound of the Hammond B3’s. They have failed. Nothing else gives that warm sound that we have grown to know and love and expect to accompany all the great gospel singers and choirs. If someone offered me the best and newest organ with all the bells and whistles (literally in this case) I would turn them down flat. There is a whole industry built around maintaining these organs. There are many technicians that take pieces of this and that organ and put them together to make something similar, and they sell. There are also counterfeits you have to be aware of when you’re buying one (used of course). If you open the back of the organ it looks very different from what you’d see in, say, a modern digital piano or keyboard.

Yes folks, there are some things that it’s fine to replace, even though I think every 10 years might be a bit soon to have to replace a very expensive A/C unit or even my washer and dryer. 

But there are some things that cannot be replaced except with a cheap counterfeit knock-off that won’t do the job nearly as well. 

It’s important that we know the difference. 

Support for Depression

Support for Depression

I was speaking to someone recently who was trying to minimize their antidepressant medications because, well, you know…

It got me to thinking.

Why in our world is having depression and taking antidepressants a shame?

Folks that have diabetes take insulin. That’s a very normal and accepted thing in our society.

My thyroid doesn’t put out the proper amount of chemicals, so I supplement with daily medications. Nobody frowns on that.

The funny thing is, depression can be a symptom of that thyroid problem. Purely chemical. Correct the thyroid and the depression goes away.

These kinds of medications are not frowned upon.

And yet every time I speak with someone who is fighting depression they kind of whisper it or talk about how they’re really trying to power out of it, or something similar.

Trust me as a woman going through perimenopause when I say that moods can be purely chemical. 😝 😜

If your body needs a little help, a little chemical correction, do it with information, do it with a good doctor, but don’t do it with shame and in a whisper.

We should create an environment where the person fighting this battle doesn’t have to do it with their head held lower than it already is.

I don’t expect my puny little blog post to change all of society, but if it helps somebody, well, so be it.

A Song Selection

(Stick with me. I go somewhere at the end.)

I am the Director of Music at our church. Part of that job includes choosing music for our services. We are a diverse Pentecostal church, diverse in age, shade of skin, nation of origin, rural/metro mindset, denomination of childhood, etc. Since music is a very cultural thing, basically that means I can never make everyone happy. Sometimes I can make some people happy. I do try to draw us into a mindset of praise and worship, away from the distractions of life to a place where we can focus our attention on God.

I’ve spent much of the day combing through music in an effort to add a few songs to our repertoire. I have a list as long as my arm of songs I’ve jotted down at different times to check out later. Today I tackled part of that list.

Some of those songs on that list are old songs, either choruses or hymns. The old hymns are very effective for us, so I perk up when I hear one I have neglected to integrate. There are other old choruses that I also want to put in. Our young folks don’t necessarily have to know they’re old, and the elders will appreciate it. 😊

But today I was looking for something more contemporary to add to the mix, so I combed through tons of the new music that has most recently been put out.

There are several things I have to consider musically, as we are a congregation who still sings en masse and doesn’t just watch the folks on the platform sing. (There is also no smoke, and we leave the house lights fully up. That’s another topic for another day.)

The range must be about an octave or less or we lose folks. For example, “Shout to the Lord” was a great song, but only about 3 people could sing all the notes, so we never sang it at Newark UPC. Things have gotten better in this area, but there are a few that still hit the rubbish bin for unreachable range.

We don’t have 3 electric and 2 bass guitars. In fact we don’t have any guitars. (We have a banjo that gets played when it fits the musical style, which I think is really cool. Who else has a banjo? We also have violin, cello, French horn, clarinet, and Hammond organ.) So some of the anthems or songs with a heavy beat just sound all wrong with our instrumentation. Some songs sound great with a full band and a stadium of thousands of voices that just won’t work with our Sunday 170. So they get scrapped too.

A lot of the songs released recently have a syncopated beat. I guess songwriters think it sounds old-fashioned to write songs that have words on actual beats. But when you have a congregation of people without sheet music in front of them, and if they had sheet music they couldn’t read it well enough for it to do anything but cause confusion, there has to be some kind of easily attainable pattern where the words fit the beat, the offbeat, the sometimes beat… They have to hit SOMETHING. But many of the songs sung today would require several rehearsals and lots of whiteboard instruction to teach the people where the words go. Not happening. Moving on.

But the thing that gets me most, (as they say in Oklahoma, it gets in my craw. What is a craw, anyway?), makes me scrap more songs than anything, is that so many of the songs put out lately are about a moment of pleasure. Let me elaborate. It seems the purpose of the song is to create an atmosphere where we feel really great in God’s presence for a while, a heaven-on-earth moment that tickles our fancy. It seems we’ve moved from Jesus-is-my-boyfriend songs to Jesus-come-make-me-feel-good songs. I heard one person liken these song to what it would sound like if we were trying to get a small kitten to enter a room. The focus is totally first-person, totally me and I. I want… I need… If there is a “You” it is about “You can do this thing for me.”

Jesus is my Savior. He is worthy of all my worship. He doesn’t need to do anything more for me. I owe Him all. I want to focus on the cross, heaven, how He loves me, how I love Him, how amazing He is, His holiness, His grace, surrendering my will to Him… I do not require of Him that He come down and make me feel great. It so happens that often in the process of worshiping and praising Him He DOES make me feel great. It would be okay for an occasional song or two to have this theme. They’re not new; they can be found going way back if you look. But we’re talking way more than “an occasional song” here. Way more.

It makes me wonder if the problem isn’t actually just our songs but goes far deeper than that. Songs usually come as a reflection of what is going on in our culture, in our churches, in our hearts. Have we become so shallow that all we want is a spiritual high? A moment with a lover that we then toss aside for the rest of the week until we come back next Sunday and do it again? Dear God, if that is the case, forgive us. Help us not forgo the ongoing relationship for a momentary joy. Help us not trade the progressive discipleship for an event in time. Forgive us for forgetting your Amazing Grace. Help us to Surrender All, to remember Oh, How I Love Jesus, to rejoice in the Blessed Assurance that It Is Well With My Soul. Bring us back to being Near the Cross, The Old Rugged Cross. We know that Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and indeed, How Great Thou Art!

Of Grasshoppers and Giants

Here’s my Deep Biblical Thought for the Day. (Not implying or promising that there will be another one tomorrow.)

Numbers 13 tells how the spies coming back from spying out the land of Canaan gave a negative report, saying sure, the fruit in the land is nice, especially with all the milk and honey to go with it, but there are walled cities and giants and really scary stuff there, so nope, we like the desert.

We get down to Numbers 13:33 (NLT) and it says:

“We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

Now somehow I doubt they interviewed the giants, saying, “So, Mr Really Big Guy, what DO I look like to you?”

“Um, you’re a wee little weakling, so if I had to pick, I’d say you look like…um…a grasshopper. Yeah, that’s about right. A grasshopper.”

“Not a lion or a bear or at least a camel?”

“Nope. A grasshopper captures it perfectly.”

“Okay! Very interesting. This confirms my suspicions. Thank you for your time.”

No, the Israelites saw themselves a certain way and assumed that everyone else saw them that way too.

This is a common mistake we all make. How can we not? We only have our own perspective.

But how we see things often isn’t the truth.

After a period of wandering around the desert waiting for time to pass and people to die (now isn’t THAT a cheery thought?) they again come to Canaan and again send spies (remember Rahab?) and this time they decide the milk and honey and grapes are worth the effort and decide to invade.

Rahab tells the 2nd set of spies in Joshua 2:9-11:

“I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.

Everyone in the land is living in terror. Their hearts have melted in fear. That doesn’t sound very grasshopper-y

And then in Joshua 5:1 we are told:

When all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings who lived along the Mediterranean coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan River so the people of Israel could cross, they lost heart and were paralyzed with fear because of them.

And we find this in Joshua 6:1 (NLT):

Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in.

You don’t bring down the gates if you see your invaders as grasshoppers, now, do you? No. You shut the gates because you know you are in danger.

So we see the truth was that they were NOT seen as grasshoppers. All of Canaan was afraid of them. Why? Because they were a lot stronger than they thought. And they had a really big God was with them, which always makes all the difference anyway, even when we ARE as weak as grasshoppers.

So what is there in MY life that I’m not seeing correctly? What fault or past happening or private thing do I see as taking me out of the game when in actuality it is a tiny speck of no consequence? What area do I see as a weakness when actually it’s a strength? And even if my problems and weaknesses and grasshopper-ness IS true, I have a mighty God who cannot lose.

So take a moment, or a day, or a lifetime, to try to reassess areas in your life were you think you are tiny, where you think OTHERS think you are tiny. Perhaps that isn’t true at all. Especially with the help of a God who parts the waters for you to pass over rivers and seas without even getting your feet wet.

As I See It (And Hear It) Australia Edition – Idioms and Language

Visiting a country whose unofficial national anthem is Waltzing Matilda, I expected to run into some words I wasn’t familiar with.

For those of you unacquainted with Matilda and how she dances in 3/4 time, here is a video you really should take the time to watch. It will be a thoroughly enjoyable 3 minutes and 23 seconds. You might want to follow along with the words below. Be warned, though, it’s a catchy tune that you might be humming all day.

Verse 1:

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong

Under the shade of a coolibah tree,

And he sang as he watched and waited till his “Billy” boiled

“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”


Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda

You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me,

And he sang as he watched and waited till his “Billy”boiled

“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Verse 2:

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong,

Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,

And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,

“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”


Verse 3:

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred.

Down came the troopers, one, two, and three.

“Whose is that jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?

You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”


Verse 4:

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong.

“You’ll never catch me alive!” said he

And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:

“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Songwriters : Adriaan Van Landschoot / A B Banjo Paterson / James

If you understood all that, well, you understood a lot more than me. If you’d like to know more, wait until the end of the blog and I’ll give you some more explanation.

But I’ve gotten off track.

I heard many wonderful idioms during my time in Australia that I thought you might enjoy and maybe even find useful. I think some of them are also used in England, and I’m sure some came from other places too. I would not be surprised if someone commented “That saying actually came from New Zealand” as it seems (at least to hear the Kiwis tell it) that the Aussies get credited with all sorts of things that came from New Zealand. Pavlova and Ugg boots for example. By the way, I don’t know whether Ugg boots come from Australia or New Zealand, but in the land of their origin they are worn in the house, not out to the shops. But again, I digress.

So here are some idioms and words I heard in my month Down Under. I may not have them all quite right as many I heard only once and for some of them, Google wasn’t much help.

As different as chalk and cheese – two totally different things. This one kind of explains itself. It’s used to talk about two things that are completely different. The context I heard it in was describing two sisters who were “as different as chalk and cheese.”

As happy as Larry – very happy. I don’t know who Larry is or why he’s so happy, but since he has his own idiom, I guess he was very happy. This website has a couple of ideas as to its origin: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/as-happy-as-larry.html

Larrikin – an uncultivated, care-free person. One possibility for who the above-named Larry is comes this word. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larrikin

Bogan – an unrefined person. While we’re talking about adjectives describing people we should talk about bogans. As one friend put it, bogans are people who wear their Uggs to the shops. We might call them rednecks. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogan

Whinging – (pronounced win’-jing) whining or complaining. This one isn’t very complicated. Something about its sound makes it quite a nice description of what it is. I think I may start telling my children to “stop whinging.” https://www.dictionary.com/browse/whinging

Sling your hook – a polite way of telling someone to go away. For example, if Benjamin Franklin had been Down Under he might have said along with his “fish and visitors stink after 3 days” something about “after that, sling your hook.” https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sling%20your%20hook

I don’t know him from a bar of soap – similar to our “I don’t know him from Adam.” https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/don%27t+know+me+from+a+bar+of+soap

Making a dog’s breakfast of (something) – to totally mess it up. For example if I tried some of the Pinterest ideas I have seen, I would make a dog’s breakfast of it. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/make+a+dog%27s+breakfast

Money for jam – a quick and easy way to earn money. If you get paid a lot of money for a simple quick job, it’s money for jam. https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/money_for_jam

Woop Woop – an isolated place – in a country with a population density of 7 people per square mile (with the Northern Territory having about .5 people per square mile) there are lots of places that are considered woop woop. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woop_Woop

Sheila – a woman – She might be a smart sheila or a mean sheila or a pretty sheila. Just about anywhere you would use the word “woman” you can also use “sheila.”

Op Shop – short of opportunity shop – a resale shop, usually for the benefit of a charity – similar to our “Goodwill” but a little higher quality.

Gridiron – in a land with about kinds of football, this is the word you want to use if you want American football. Otherwise you might end up with soccer or one of several kinds of rugby. The Aussies love their sports. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_in_Australia

And the best, most often-used saying which I think pretty much sums up Australia, is…

No worries – This multi-purpose phrase of agreement means ok, no problem, and sure thing all wrapped up in one little phrase. You order a chicken and leek meat pie? No worries. You need more water brought to your table? No worries. Want to meet someone at 2 o’clock? No worries. I guess living in a country with 20 of the top 25 most venomous snakes in the world and most dangerous jellyfish in the world (the box jellyfish) just of the coast, saying “no worries” is a good thing.

A note about pronunciation. The Australians treat their R’s differently than we Yankees do. (I hate to break it to my southern friends, but when you go abroad, you’ll be considered “Yankees” too.) They totally ignore some R’s, like the ones in Cairns, pronounced “cans” and Melbourne, pronounced “Mellbohn.” Other times, such as when a word ends with an “ah” or “aw” sound they supply an R to the end of the word. So “saw” sounds like “sar” and “Ella” sounds like “Eller.” To say “The tuna is mine” you’d say “The tuner is mine.” It’s quite charming, really.

So maybe you’ll want to spice up your American English with a phrase or two from Down Under. If you do you’ll be happy as Larry. Just don’t make a Dog’s breakfast of it. Ok?

No worries.

And if you’re still curious about what Waltzing Matilda is talking about, here’s some more information from the National Library of Australia

Matilda is an old Teutonic female name meaning “mighty battle maid”. This may have informed the use of “Matilda” as a slang term to mean a de facto wife who accompanied a wanderer. In the Australian bush a man’s swag was regarded as a sleeping partner, hence his “Matilda”. (Letter to Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Churchill, KG from Harry Hastings Pearce, 19 February 1958. Harry Pearce Papers, NLA Manuscript Collection, MS2765)[27]


a man who travelled the country looking for work. The swagman’s “swag” was a bed roll that bundled his belongings.


an oxbow lake (a cut-off river bend) found alongside a meandering river

coolibah tree

a kind of eucalyptus tree which grows near billabongs


a sheep[27]


a can for boiling water in, usually 1–1.5 litres (2–3 pints)

tucker bag

a bag for carrying food




Australian squatters started as early farmers who raised livestock on land which they did not legally have the legal title to use; in many cases they later gained legal use of the land even though they did not have full possession, and became wealthy thanks to these large land holdings. The squatter’s claim to the land may be as uncertain as the swagman’s claim to the jumbuck

Just for the fun of it, you might want to go back and spend another 3 minutes 23 seconds listening to the song and you just might be able to figure out what in the world it’s talking about

As I See It, Australia Edition – Immigration and Food

We are wrapping up a month-long stay in Australia and I thought I’d share some observations with you.

Obviously, nobody can totally understand and certainly not capture the entirety of a society in one blog post. This is not that. This is just some things I noticed during my time there.

One of the first things I noticed was the diversity of the population. I think many assume, as I did, that Australia is mainly Caucasian with an occasional person of Aboriginal or Polynesian origin. Instead, Australia is a mix of people from literally all over the world. There is a heavy Asian influence, but there are also people from India, the Middle East, and all over Europe. The Aussie (said Ozzie, by the way) accent is interspersed with all kinds of other accents. There weren’t quite as many Africans and even less Latinos, but they were represented also. A pretty standard question for us when meeting someone became “where are you from.” That didn’t mean what part of Australia are they from. It meant where did they or their parents immigrate from.

With that ethnic diversity comes some lovely flavorful food: Turkish, Indonesian, Thai, Korean, Indian, American… The list is practically endless. Their food is very good and flavorful and fresh.

A recurring theme is meat pies. They come in many varieties. All of the ones I tried were very good. They are like the fresh non-preservative version of Hot Pockets, but they actually taste good.

Their coffee is mostly espresso with an occasional instant. A plunger coffee (French press) was seldom seen, and I only saw a standard coffee-brewing-pot in one place, a breakfast buffet that was at a tourist destination and trying to appeal to many different appetites. A really good medium coffee is A$4.50 (about $3.25 American dollars). If you take your own reusable insulated cup they give a A$0.50 discount. Starbucks tried to make it there and failed miserably. The little coffee shops and convenience stores all serve delicious coffee, much better than Starbucks, and cheaper.

Along with the wonderful coffee comes lovely pastries and desserts. I didn’t eat any that I didn’t like. One specialty is their pavlova, an egg white dessert filled with sugared cream and drizzled with passion fruit sauce.

The restaurants don’t give free refills on drinks. Most places your drink is just a can or bottle, self-served out of a refrigerator. The places that do serve your drink in a cup don’t give you ice because then you wouldn’t get your money’s worth. They also supply the table with glasses and a large glass bottle full of water. This is nice, since refills aren’t free. As far as variety, they have the standard flavors of Coke, Diet Coke, an occasional Pepsi, and many other flavors such as Ginger Beer, Lemon Lime & Bitters, and Mexican soft drinks.

They are not very big on soups, which I missed. The few soups I did taste were very good, but that wasn’t a menu staple.

There are some strange combinations that seem very odd to an American’s tastebuds, such as putting beets on a hamburger. Pumpkin is eaten as a vegetable, not an ingredient in desserts. They eat in the European way with the knife in the dominant hand and the fork in the non-dominant hand.

If you want ketchup you ask for tomato sauce. On their menus their “entrees” are our “appetizers” and their “mains” are our “entrees.” Their portions were generally plenty but not gargantuan like many American restaurants serve. The exception was a place we went called “California Cafe” where the portions were very large. Below is a picture of their “Mac and Cheese Burger” that would be impossible to fit in the mouth of any human without mutant jaws. The food was very fresh and flavorful everywhere we went.

I have heard that there is a push in their political system to shut down immigration, but it hasn’t happened yet. I imagine that even if it does, the variety of flavors have become a solid part of Australian culture which is a beautiful and delicious thing.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

A gentle reminder for the mothers out there (and fathers can benefit too):

In ancient history the mother of the future king was often one of the most powerful people in the kingdom, sometimes 2nd only to the king. Why? Because they knew her influence on the future of the kingdom was immense, often more than any other person.

In our society today, though, motherhood takes a backseat to so many other things. Even the most powerful lawyer, the most skilled surgeon, the best executive, can and will be replaced the day after they retire, but a good mother is literally irreplaceable.

Let’s not sacrifice our largest influence (motherhood) for secondary gains (literally anything else). That looks different for different people and families, but the principle holds across them all.

I have heard the saying “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world” for years, but I did not know it’s the title of a poem by William Ross Wallace. Here is the poem. Enjoy!


Blessing’s on the hand of women!

Angels guard its strength and grace.

In the palace, cottage, hovel,

Oh, no matter where the place;

Would that never storms assailed it,

Rainbows ever gently curled,

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy’s the tender fountain,

Power may with beauty flow,

Mothers first to guide the streamlets,

From them souls unresting grow—

Grow on for the good or evil,

Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission,

Here upon our natal sod;

Keep—oh, keep the young heart open

Always to the breath of God!

All true trophies of the ages

Are from mother-love impearled,

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!

Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,

And the sacred song is mingled

With the worship in the sky—

Mingles where no tempest darkens,

Rainbows evermore are hurled;

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.