Palm Sunday Refugee Walk for Justice

Banner for refugee rally reading: "Walk for Justice for Refugees - 2017 - Bring Them Here - Close Manus, Close Nauru Welcome Refugees Permanent Protection - Palm Sunday, April 9. In the top right corner, a young girl holds a sign saying., "It's not fair".

Taken from the Walk for Refugees 2017’s profile picture

This event is occurring this Sunday. I’m excited – it’ll be the first time I’m able to attend. (Meant to go last year, but the knee intervened…)

I saw this photo up at my uni the other day.

Poster of baby in red t-shirt lying on white floor looking away from camera - text underneath read: Malcolm Turnbull #LetThemStay

#LetThemStay poster at uni – on one of the health student discipline-specific noticeboards. Way to go!

It made me happy. A bunch of my friends – including some who did the #LetThemStay group shot with me last year (well, the same student club) – are going along to Sunday’s rally.

There are rallies across Australia:

Details of Palm Sunday Rallies for Refugees 2017: NSW - Sydney (2PM, Hyde Park North to Circular Quay); Newcastle (12:50PM, Wheeler Place); Wollongong (2PM, Crown St Mall); Lennox Head (11AM, on beach front near bus stop). ACT: Canberra (1PM, Civic Square). VIC: Melbourne (2PM, State Library); Bendigo (SATURDAY, 10AM, near steps of info centre). WA: Perth (1PM, St George's Cathedral). QLD: Brisbane (2PM, King George Square); Townsville (4PM, Rock Pool, The Strand). SA: Adelaide (2PM, Victoria Square). NT: Darwin (5PM, Esplanade Park, from southern to northern end). TAS: Hobart (1PM, Parliament Gardens); Launceston (1:45PM, Princes Park to City Square).

Palm Sunday Rally 2017 details.

 

 

(Source: Catholic Religious Australia)

I’m going to the Melbourne one and I”m really pleased that some issues regarding solidarity – doing these events with refugees, not for or to them – appear to have largely been resolved. See the link below/.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FDemocracyInColour%2Fposts%2F1902309170026451&width=500

See if there’s a rally near you and come along!

Reblog: Resolutions: Good or Bad

I find resolutions interesting. As I commented on Noelle’s post (linked below),

I like ones that are “commitments to try”, so to speak. You know they’re goals and things you’d like to do, but they’re not “have-tos”.

Setting unattainable resolutions can lead to trouble or so it seems – we gain only negative emotions when we revert to old habits after promising to keep to a path for a year.

I remind myself that these are goals, to be practiced and worked on during the year but not mandatory.

With that in mind, some ones for this year are:

  • Do well in my Masters coursework etc.
    – Ask for help if I need it and monitor myself so that the changes of this year don’t cause my grades to drop.
  • To listen twice as much as I speak;
    –   I’ll be addressing this in more depth later, but as I’m a talker and social person who also is a “Feeler” (high F in Myers-Briggs, for example), I worry about my ratio of talking to listening. So I’m working on it.
  • Alongside the above is my want to actively practice my Feeling
    –   Again, I’ll explain in another post, but cultivating my empathetic presence is important to me. These first two are very connected.
  • To get back into blogging
    – I fell off a regular blogging schedule a bit over the second half of 2016, but I’d like to be more consistent.
  • To get back into writing my story.
    – I’ve done quite a lot of backstory-work but haven’t actually done any story-writing for a while. I need to get back into that.
  • To be more active and finding more walking spaces.
    –   I’m not naturally a person who gets active, as I’m not sporty. But I like nature and I like walking and I know I ought to be sitting less. I’m not interested in overdoing it though, as I’m skinny enough as it is.

Idea taken from the post linked below:

What are your thoughts on setting New Years Resolutions? Have you completed yours in the past or are you one of those who forgets what they are? Come read about the good and the bad of setting reso…

Source: {DISCUSSION} Resolutions: Good or Bad

#BringThemHere

https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/bringthemhere/upload-your-own-bringthemhere-message

I did this yesterday:

ESP Bring-Them-Here_photo 1.jpg
The Equality, Sustainability & Peace (ESP) Group at La Trobe says: #BringThemHere!

We stand with those on Manus and Nauru – we love you and support you. It’s past time for the government to stop stuffing around and close the camps. Set up some humane processes, open up onshore and offshore detention centres and #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

Momentum is building – join us!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/17/this-is-critical-103-nauru-and-manus-staff-speak-out-their-letter-in-full?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

 

Intersectionality

Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, a few weeks back I wrote a guest post for Carla. She was focusing on different experiences of women, personal experiences. I’d meant to post it here as soon as it was posted there, but other stuff got in the way. I needed to gee myself up a bit, because it’s personal and posting it here is different to posting it to Carla’s blog. (It’s like that whole idea of degrees of separation…Carla’s is one more level removed than here…) Then I realised I needed to edit it, as I had forgot to talk about some things I ought to talk about. Finally, though, it’s here. Ta-da.

 My #YesAllWomen Story
I’ll just say the obvious – the following are musings from my own thinking, influenced by others. I have no formal training in theology, save what I’ve learned in school, at Mass and elsewhere. What I do have is a sense of discernment which has been nurtured in various ways.

I’m a young Australian woman who is both Catholic and feminist. Some would think those two don’t fit. I’m here to tell you that they do – if you reach out with understanding rather than judgement.
I’ve always been Catholic (my parents baptised me into the faith as a young baby). I’ve seen the good side of things thanks to a few well-informed priests (one in particular) and parents, other relatives and friends who have been good examples as well as being willing to discuss things with me and my siblings. I’ve heard and been sickened by the “bad side” of things, the child abuse scandals rocking the Church and stuff. How anyone could do that is beyond me. I’ve also become more aware of the inequalities and hypocrisy in the “institutional Church” (including the flaws which led to the above problem, the handling of which is institutional in many areas).
As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of feminism. This has led to an interesting…conflict, you could say, in some matters.
After all, there are certain stereotypes for Catholics and feminism (separately I mean):
* Catholics are (among other things) all totally immovable about rights to life, anti-marriage equality, transpeople and (in certain extremes/ various ways) the role and empowerment (sexually, especially) of women, etc.;
* Feminists are all pro-choice “no exceptions” in many things, including women’s empowerment (sexual and otherwise)…
Total opposites, it seems!
Over time, I learnt that like life, it wasn’t nearly so clear-cut as that. I’m still learning about the different nuances. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Everyone is individual, so we all have slightly different viewpoints about things. I’ve realised that each of us has to decide what we believe in.
Personally, I’m a feminist – an intersectional feminist.
That means that I think that the Church does need to, ah, grow up a bit regarding some things, like sex and women and LGBTI people. However, the Church’s teachings do resonate with me in other matters. I wish to outline a few examples below. It gets a bit wordy, as I like thinking about these things to “get them straight” in my head.
My Catholicism guides me in many ways. I believe that Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of those who follow Him are still important in many ways to our lives today. Like the message of inclusion, non-violence and forgiveness outlasting exclusion, violence and the bitterness that comes from holding onto hurt. Some great theologians (lay and religious), steeped in the Catholic tradition, have said things which resonate with me about authenticity, self-belief and finding one’s path – emotionally and spiritually in particular. I hold onto all of that. Regular readers of my blog will know that by now, given that I do write posts around that reasonably often.
However…
There has been an institutional blindness within the Church caused by an inflexible hierarchical structure of “top-down” solutions. Recent efforts do offer encouragement that this is slowly changing, in the form of baby-steps. I hope that those baby-steps turn into adult steps – soon! If they don’t, then I think it’s highly likely that change will be forced upon them, or else the Church will become increasingly irrelevant.
For starters, the Church has a “women problem”. A lot of Church life is closed off to women, through structures which are still geared towards men. Change is being ‘forced’ upon some parishes already. As more priests retire and no traditional replacements are available, there are more stories of (religiously-trained and lay, married or not) women (and men) leading through necessity. You’ll notice, I also mentioned married men there – I think that there needs to be a rethink on the matter of how they contribute too. We are all people of God – it’d be nice if that was better reflected in what we’re “allowed” to do.
That leads me nicely into discussing LGBTI people. I’ve addressed the “marriage equality” question previously (An Exploration of Equality and Religion and Related Matters). My view is that we should be striving for authenticity as people in all aspects of our lives – including gender and sexual preference. Also, I don’t think Jesus would be that fussed, so long as we “love our neighbour” by practising compassion and mercy. As I say in the linked post above, Jesus was more clearly harsh on those who discriminated and judged others and were hypocrites than he was about their sex lives. The authenticity idea informs other examples, too.
On Carla’s blog, Jenna wrote in defence of her wardrobe. I, too, have had experiences where I’ve been told to dress a certain way. But there was never really that big of an emphasis and it wasn’t because of my gender/sex but because of the occasion (smart casual = Mass clothes usually). I used to not question the general idea. Then, some time ago, I started to. Jenna covered that area pretty well – I dress the way I like to, others’ sense of propriety (and fashion!) doesn’t factor in.
I view the issue of sexual choice and “morality” in a similar way. I’ve grown up with a certain idea thanks to the Catholic faith teachings. I’ve heard some interesting ideas about why it’s “better” to have fewer or none sexual partners before marriage. For example, an idea that previous sexual encounters “colour” the current one, affecting it in ways you don’t want it to be affected if it’s going to last. The problem, as I see it, with the Catholic view (purity and chastity) is that it can lead to shame if the “rules” are broken. This is despite many religious people then saying that we women don’t have to be ashamed – just go to confession and bam! problem solved. That may be nice to hear and feel, but in practice it isn’t always that simple. It still takes time and working through matters.
An overwhelming focus on the sexual (im)morality of certain situations means that miscommunication can result. One person can become guilty over perceived immorality, when the real worry and call for “patience/ abstinence” was actually about emotional maturity. The end result of that is a decrease of communication, followed by feelings of guilt over lying and then hurt from a lack of support/acknowledgement when that guilt prompts the admission of the fact – I’d call that the real sin of the situation, not the sex itself. Thus, the cycle of hurt continues, unless we make the conscious decision to stop and forgive.
Not to mention the issue of shame creates stigma around the survivors of sexual assault and other such trauma, because they’re blamed for “asking for it”. Even when that is also accompanied by blaming the perpetrator, the fact that we blame the survivor continues the cycle of judgement which discourages people from speaking up. It also confuses the issue because in blaming the survivor, we miss the message: no. means. no.
It would be much, much easier if there was less emphasis on the sexual and more focus on the emotional (where the emphasis is/ should be anyway). Then perhaps there might be less confusion and hurt around it. Again – less judgement and more compassion, the way it’s meant to be.
One thing that the Church and some feminists agree on about relationships however: the subject of porn and how it is not good for relationships. It creates unrealistic standards and is demeaning, involving the physical side of things without any context. On the other hand, other feminists disagree. I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on this one.
These ideas and conflicts were reinforced a few months ago, when I went to a Catholic Youth Festival. That Festival was amazing, in many ways. There were so many talks which I gained something from and made me think deeply about myself and my faith. One such talk was by a motivational speaker-type guy, talking about chastity/purity and “love vs. lust” and Catholicism more broadly. Some of the things he talked about were relevant – the emotional content, for example, about “real” love and knowing yourself. There was, however, a lot of “I don’t mean to judge, but girls – stop doing this and start doing this,” and “girls are like this and guys are like that” stuff. Blargh. There were other talks there about faith and love and authenticity which I perhaps enjoyed more – because they were freer of the judgmental talk. There was still a bit of it, but less so. Women – anyone really – should not be dictated to or shamed about their dress or habits, including from other women. It is about personal tastes.
Moving on to another contentious issue: the whole pro-life/ pro-choice thing. This has been an evolving issue for me, as it’s one of those points which many feminists (though not all – see my references) and religious people clash visibly.
Again, I think it is a matter of personal preference and understanding. I believe that by narrowing the debate down to pro-/ anti-abortion (which it often seems to be), we all lose. I believe that contraception and abortion (along with education, healthcare, childcare support, housing assistance and other forms of social welfare…etc.) should be safe and legal. I do not think they should be treated lightly. It’s a delicate balance in my mind. Some have referred to abortion as an “abhorrent form of birth control”. I believe that in the majority it’s more complex than that.
Contraception should be an informed personal choice. Some people have issues about introducing hormones and things into their body, or worry about side-effects and that’s okay. It’s also okay to choose to take them to prevent pregnancy or for other reasons. What is not okay is shaming or pressuring someone else about their choice. I believe that IVF and other supported-fertility treatments have benefits that outweigh the potential “playing with life” label that some religious people might attach, provided appropriate support and protections are given. I’m less sanguine about so-called “designer babies”, where characteristics could be chosen. I accept it on life-saving medical grounds, but I’m leery about other options.
I believe that everyone has a right to life, including the unborn, as I believe life starts at conception. I also believe that “God does not make junk” so to speak, so aborting a foetus just because of a disability, or the circumstances of its conception (and/or designing a foetus specifically to edit out a disability “just because”), is wrong. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual circumstances. We want all people to have the best start in life. I think we need to talk about these things. My main view is that we should be working on the social reforms which “prevent” abortion by giving better options (like the ones mentioned above), while keeping it safe and legal. I think that it should be the woman’s choice but we need to (in a non-judgemental way) be sure that all lives are valued and that personal conversations are able to happen…not just “you should/not have an abortion because of x”.
Personally, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself. However, if a friend of mine became pregnant and wasn’t sure about keeping the baby for whatever reason, I’d hope that I could help by listening and for her to know that there are options. But if she did choose abortion, it wouldn’t cause a rift. (Things might be a little awkward maybe, but I wouldn’t abandon the friendship just because she made a different choice to my hypothetical one.)
I hope you’re sensing a theme. In all these distinctions and similarities between my Catholic and feminist principles, there’s a common goal: sensitivity, respect for difference and non-judgement.
There are plenty of things where it’s easy (for me) to say that Catholics and feminists agree: care of and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged communities and care of the environment for future generations among them. Both groups just have slightly different angles.
I gain a lot of emotional support and spiritual guidance from my faith. I support and am empowered by my feminism.
The way I see it, each of us is on a journey, where we have to find our own path. Like I said earlier on, we all have to make our own choices. Just, please, think about using a little less judgement and a bit more understanding.
Below are some links to sites which have informed my views:

Christian feminism: http://godspace-msa.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-forging-a-positive-sisterhood/

Baby-steps in Catholicism from the recent Amoris Laetitia document, putting the focus back on dialogue, even if there are still some awkward passages –
Download the actual document here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia.html
Some reactions to it:
http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/part-3-reactions-popes-reflections-family-life
https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/unity-growth-love-church
One Catholic-feminist mother’s reflection on the document: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/reading-amoris-laetitia-as-a-catholic-feminist-mom/
Why it’s only a baby-step (written by a woman who writes a lot of thought-provoking pieces):

we need a theology of the body broken and violated

Dumping the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”: http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/10/3-reasons-i-quit-loving-the-sinner-and-hating-the-sin/

On dressing how we want to dress, without judgement and why that’s important: http://www.skirtcollective.com/why-my-self-expression-shouldnt-concern-you/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/the-immodest-consequences-of-modesty-policing/

Fixing traditional marriage: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45414#.Vvs5P_l942y

A website for Catholic women – I wish I’d discovered it earlier, it’s been running since 2014: http://www.catholicwomenspeak.com/
(and article describing their mission:) https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/place-table

A website hosting religious blogs & things – the Catholic section: http://www.patheos.com/Catholic-blogs – varies from traditionalist to more progressive-but-Catholic

A feminist-Catholic understanding of Mary, Mother of Jesus:
http: //www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/how-feminism-strengthened-my-christianity/

Abortion is a complex thing: http://skinnyandsingle.ca/2015/08/22/abortion-no-its-not-for-everyone/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/02/abortion-collective-responsibility-and-the-s-word/

Why there needs to be less judgement around contraception:
https:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/22/i-was-a-devout-catholic-not-being-able-to-get-birth-control-shook-my-faith/

Transgender – not the same as transracial: http://www.upworthy.com/a-black-trans-woman-explains-changing-gender-vs-changing-race?c=reccon1

Sex-selection IVF: https://theconversation.com/choosing-childrens-sex-is-an-exercise-in-sexism-45836?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294+CID_e93b54a12e12cf976f816d0ebf33c746&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=argues

A blog about faith & feminism: http://faithfullyfeminist.com/

Some catholic-trans perspectives:
http://magazine.catholicherald.co.uk/magazine-post/whats-the-truth-about-transsexuality/pugpig_index.html
https://rowanselah.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/god-made-me-this-way/
https://catholictrans.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/what-does-the-catholic-church-actually-say-about-transgenderism/

pro-life feminists: http://www.feministsforlife.org/herstory/

An LGBTI Catholic website tracking progress: https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/

A website for young progressive Catholics: http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/about/

There are many others. Take a look around the internet – you might be surprised!

 

#Lest We Forget

Today is a day of reflection and commemoration (not celebration) for many Australians. We do this in different ways. The marches and speeches and so on are one way. I saw another way via Facebook last night, when the floodlights of the MCG were off and thousands of people stood in silence for a minute – you could only see the light of their phones, across the ground.

The link I’ve embedded below is another. We should remember those who fought and died as well as those who returned home wounded in body and spirit.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Funcannyannieblog%2Fposts%2F1339439599436336&width=500

It’s also worth reflecting that the first ANZAC Day – the landing at Gallipoli – was 102 years ago and was part of a war they’d called “the war to end all wars”. Yet so many more have followed…

As said by Costa A here:

“ANZAC Day is about remembering how awful war is, how many Aussies died because of it, how many Aussies were brave enough to put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, and how – out of respect for all of this – we have to work as hard as we can to avoid the need for future wars. This means combating climate change, not taking the bait of dickhead Islamic extremists, and learning from our (Iraq, Vietnam) mistakes. Having a big strong tough-as-fuck army is important too. But it’s a Plan B we wanna have to use as little as possible. #lestweforget “

 

WT&TT: Scalzi’s Thoughts on Utopias

See this link. Last week, John Scalzi (sci-fi author) had his annual “Reader Request Week”, where people send in questions they’d like to hear him answer. He then answers these. 

I’m sharing this one because I find the idea of utopia interesting to explore…in part because it seems so challenging to do, given the amount of times that a supposed utopia turns out to be a dystopia instead. Obviously I need to get my hands on the series referenced here – “The Culture”, by Iain M. Banks. Hmm. 

Who Really Inhabits the Refugee Activism Space?

Every day, it seems, there are things going on in the world that are just plain awful. I glance at them and pick a few to get properly worked up about. Then I take action about those things in some way – like going to the Palm Sunday rally. It was blooming cold and a little wet, though luckily most of the wet had occurred the day before. Still, there was plenty of people there – some reports said 5,000. We listened to the speakers – of different faiths and backgrounds, young and old, male and female – give witness to the truths as they saw them. Including one articulate woman, Idil Ali, who had the courage to speak truths to the power of a dominant force in the refugee movement, the Action Collective. She’s part of RISE – Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, a group that is run by refugees, for refugees. Why aren’t they more mainstream I wonder? Is it because they don’t quite fit the narrative that other “mainstream” activist groups want to send?

See video here: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRefugeesSurvivorsAndExdetainees%2Fvideos%2F1613517298688403%2F&show_text=1&width=560

At all of these rallies, the dominant presence are the loud, sometimes confrontational, people from the Refugee Action Collective or Network. There are other groups too – I need to do some investigation at some point into how the groups are connected.

In the lead-up to Sunday’s rally there was some friction – as mentioned in the video I think. It’s reminded me that we all need to be critical thinkers as activists, to make sure that the cause we’re fighting for is what we really think it should be.

I have a little motto for these things that I was given last year after hearing from a good speaker. Solidary and allyship, three bits of advice = 1. don’t be a dickhead – it’s their space/agenda/issue, not “yours”; 2. respect the main people affected by l-i-s-t-e-n-ing and following their lead in actions; 3. remember that issues are all connected (i.e. climate change issues are connected to refugee issues are connected to land rights issues and so on). Or, as RISE say, “Nothing About Us Without Us”.

A failure to listen properly has caused hurt here. But if that’s acknowledged and the wake-up call is heeded, things can improve.

There were some really good messages during the speeches. A moment that touched me was when one speaker asked us all to make hearts with our hands as she took a photo to send back to Nauru, to show those waiting in limbo that we’re still here, still pushing for change, still wanting to bring them here with us. Pressure is key – things are shifting. we can keep building momentum. Four years in limbo is far too long – let’s create change.

 

 

WT&TT: The New Relevance of the Fantasy Novel (Reblog)

Excellent thoughts from author Betsy Dornbusch, coming to you via a guest post on Chuck Wendig’s blog.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2017/02/24/betsy-dornbusch-the-new-relevance-of-the-fantasy-novel/

“BETSY DORNBUSCH: THE NEW RELEVANCE OF THE FANTASY NOVEL

These are weird days for the country — hell, the world — and I think as writers it behooves us to look at our place and what our work means or can mean in the context of this changing landscape. Betsy had some thoughts in that direction, so here she is to talk about it:

* * *

A few years ago I wrote a book called The Silver Scar. I’ve been joking since it sold if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named got elected, at least Alt-America would be awesome publicity for my future thriller featuring a pagan eco-terrorist and a Christian soldier trying to stop a crusade in a balkanized United States run by martial neo-Christian Churches. Alas, Scar doesn’t come out until 2018, so it’ll have to wait for its big promotional moment in the sun, which at the rate the EPA plans to roll back its regulations might be burning much hotter by then.

But I have another book out February 21, the conclusion to my Seven Eyes trilogy, called Enemy. It’s about this chronically depressed prince who suffers a coup by an upstart, spoiled lord and then has to find his missing queen, figure out how to live with magic that blinds him, and fight a foreign invasion. Cheerful stuff, right?”

Read mmore by clicking on the link above.

Mushroom Gravy (with Roo Skewers)

IMG_0607

Finally got around to writing this recipe up…

The other night I had some kangaroo skewers and a heap of mushrooms, ready to be used. I’d heard about mushroom gravy before, so I decided to give it a go myself.

Ingredients:

  • Veggies (I used squash, carrot, bok choy, lettuce)
  • 2x kangaroo skewers
  • Noodles (I used “Singapore noodles”
  • Mushrooms
  • Flour
  • Garlic
  • Stock

Tools:

  • Frying pan
  • Pot
  • Tongs
  • Kitchen spoon

Method:

  1. Cook veggies (in my case, all but the lettuce of course – that was just arranged on a plate at the end instead)
  2. What I SHOULD have done was cook the skewers first so I could use the juices from them in the gravy. Also, because I hadn’t cooked kangaroo skewers before so knowing when they were ready to eat while they were cooking in the gravy was a bit tricky. Using the gravy as the cooking “liquid” made it keep reducing as well, so I had to keep adjusting the flour-to-stock/water ratios (created higher possibility of lumps)… Ah well, live and learn.
  3. After making gravy and cooking skewers, cook noodles by adding them to pot of boiling water and letting them sit for a few minutes.
  4. Dish up onto a plate and serve. It was delicious.

How to Make Gravy (yes, I had part of the Paul Kelly song trying to play in my head while doing this – trouble is, I couldn’t remember most of the song…)

I used this recipe. (I swear I’m not being paid by taste.com or anything – they just have a lot of simple, easy-to-follow recipes – with minimal fancy ingredients that I don’t have/ need – on there.)

  1. Heat oil in frying pan, add mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms are browned
  2. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Slowly add stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
  4. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens into gravy.
  5. Season with salt and pepper; adjust liquid quantity to achieve required consistency.

 

Recently I also saw another recipe for mushroom gravy that had a couple of extra ingredients, like tomato sauce, soy sauce and onion. It was Adam Liaw’s recipe in the Sunday Life magazine (02/04/17). He also had serving suggestions of what to try with the gravy… I’ll have to road test his version the next time I have mushrooms!

 

Food Glorious Food

Last week I went to the Queen Victoria Market in the hour before closing time on the Sunday. I picked up a few food bargains there because, as they close Mondays, they have to try and sell as much stock as possible – otherwise it’s not fresh or is too old, etc.

That meant I had a few new meat combos to try. Here’s what I did:

Night #1, Honey-soy chicken wings.

The marinade was provided by the butcher. Here’s a recipe I found though, if you want to make it from scratch.

I steamed veggies in one pot and cooked all the wings in another. I bought about 500g worth if I remember correctly, so that gave me nine wings in this case. I ate three with dinner and saved the other

After steaming the veggies, I used the bottom pot to fry the potatoes (when I remembered them)… I started off boiling them but hadn’t washed them properly so ended up tipping out (most of) the dirty water to finish them off.

Night #2, lemon-pepper skewers

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Chicken on skewers flavoured with lemon and pepper. Yum!

Cooked in the frying pan then eaten with shredded lettuce and boiled corn, mushrooms and celery. I’d had chips earlier in the evening with friends, too, so imagine there’s a stack of wedges on the plate. 😉

Night #3, parmesan schnitzels with veggies and couscous

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Two small chicken schnitzels with (store-made and -coated) parmesan-flavoured crumb, fried in the pan. The veggies (zucchini, carrot,cauliflower, mushroom) were cut as if I was going to stir-fry them, then fried in oil in the pan. The couscous was made in the usual fashion (boil water, add couscous, let stand for ~5 mins) as per the packet instructions, with a bit of salt and pepper stirred through. Yum!

WT&TT: Five Things: When You Break Your Story

Interesting blog post linked below.

I’ll be frank with you all: I’m not working on my story at the moment. I just haven’t got the time or mental energy to do it. After all, I’m focusing on 3rd Year Masters at uni full-time, plus a few other extra-curricular projects. I fit in a social life around it and around my casual job. It’s a wonder I’m able to keep blogging! (Scheduling helps a lot with that.)

I still like doing WT&TT though. So I’ll keep doing it, as much as possible.

Source: Five Things: When You Break Your Story

Interesting skills

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Yesterday I had an all-day skills workshop, to learn about the occupational therapy specialisation of hand therapy. This basically meant learning how to make splints. The finished lot of splints we had to make is shown in the photo above. There are two resting splints (blue) because I was the “sim-pat” (simulated patient) for the whole class demo for that one as well as having one made for me by my partner. We were paired up and each of the pair took it in turns to be the model/patient and the therapist.

The splints in the photo above were made by using a heat pan  to soften various materials in order to mould them to my shape, based on patterns provided.

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Heat pan

The splints we made were as follows:

  1. The “Figure 8” finger-splint
  2. The Mallet finger-splint
  3.  Hand splint*
  4. Wrist cockup splint
  5. Functional resting wrist/arm POSI splint (pan design)*

(*Not exactly its technical name, but the approximation my memory’s giving me. :/ )

The Figure-8:

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This sort of splint is used in two ways:

  • either as shown here, preventing hyperextension (over-straightening) of the middle knuckle of the finger (technical name: proximal interphalangeal joint [PIPJ]);
  • or flipped, so that the cross-over part of the pattern is on top, to prevent flexion (bending) of the middle knuckle (PIPJ)

The material is a thin piece of “aquaplast” a type of heat-modifiable plastic. We placed the strips into the heat pan, then waited until they had turned clear. We then lifted them out of the pan onto a tea towel nearby, quickly pressed them flat (and peeled them off the tea towel if they stuck), then moulded it to the sim-pat’s finger.

The sim-pat, our partner, was holding their hand in a loose circle, with the middle knuckle (PIPJ) slightly curled inwards (flexed). We started behind the knuckle, wrapping the middle of the strip across the sim-pat’s finger then crossed the two sides over underneath the knuckle. We then brought the sides up so that they met on top of the finger again. This involved a bit of fiddling around due to the way the sides met up. Had to make sure it wasn’t too loose or too tight.

While wearing it, you should still be able to make a fist (if using it with the crossover underneath the knuckle) or if using it with crossover on top, still be able to flex (bend) the main knuckle (metacarpo-phalangeal joint, MCPJ) and the smallest finger knuckle (distal interphalangeal joint, DIPJ).

The Mallet:

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This one is useful for:

  • Preventing the smallest knuckle (DIPJ) from hyperextending (over-straightening)
  • Window for fingernail preferred but can be absent if required
    • Need to be able to fully bend the middle knuckle (PIPJ) while wearing it.

We scratched out/drew a design on a flat piece of aquaplast based on a tracing of the sim-at’s finger. We then cut it out and put it in the hot water to soften. Afterwards we wrapped it around the sim-pat’s finger, ensuring that it was a snug fit without being too tight.

Hand splint/ safe position splint:

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This one is useful if you have:

  • Burns
  • Acute traumatic hand injury

Safe position refers to POSI = Position of Safe Immobilisation. It’s the position that is safest for immobilising a joint and has to do with angles, preventing further injury to the joint and preventing injuries to joints/tissues around the injured joint due to overcompensation.

We cut out the pattern after tracing around the person’s hand, using landmarks like the wrist, the bottom thumb joint (carpometacarpal joint, CMCJ) and thumb knuckle (MCPJ).

Wrist cockup splint:

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Useful for:

  • Managing arthritis
  • Wrist pain or weak wrist
  • Weakness in wrist extensors
  • Post wrist fractures

Again, we traced out a design around the person’s hand (and arm), using particular points like the borders of the wrist, the bottom thumb joint (CMCJ) and the thumb knuckle (metacarpophalangeal joint, MCPJ) Then we put it in the water to soften before cutting through the material and moulding it to the skin.

It should extend two-thirds of the way down the forearm and leave the fingers and thumb free.

Things to be aware of include:

  • Watching out for bony landmarks etc. and remoulding if necessary to avoid them so that the splint does not rub and create pressure points/sores. Applicable to all splints, but noted for this one because I’ve discovered since taking mine home that there’s a pressure point on mine!
  • Should be able to still form a fist.

We used tailorsplint to make this and I understand why the workshop facilitator loves it so much. It was easily the most pliable and flexible of the materials we used with a decent “working time” aka amount of time you can work with it in one setting before it hardens. This does mean that supports like bandages or a second pair of hands are useful when moulding it – but the second pair of hands cannot come from the patient, they must stay still! (Sounds obvious, but people will still try, because you want to help…)

Functional resting wrist POSI splint:

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Useful for support when wrist is affected by:

  • Arthritis
  • Neurological condition (e.g. stroke)
  • Comatose patient

We used a material called “ezeform” to make this. It was the firmest material and was a bit of a nuisance to work with because you had to soften it to cut it, but once cut the pieces would start to stick together. Also didn’t help that as this was the longest splint, you needed a lot of working space.

Landmarks used for tracing were the mark of two-thirds down the arm, the wrist, the bottom thumb joint and thumb knuckles as well as palmar creases. Due to the way this splint had to be cut, you needed to mark the inside point near the main thumb knuckle, allow another centimetre inwards then draw a “u-shape” down to the bottom thumb/hand joint (CMCJ) and up to meet the outer line of the tracing around the hand. This created the flap that my thumb curves around in the picture.

I have it on good authority that this one is comfortable, as it should be. Not only did it feel comfortable to wear personally, but when I showed it to a few friends they thought it was comfy too.

 

It was an interesting day, but I don’t think I want to make a career out of doing hand therapy (like our facilitator does). It’s a bit too fiddly for me.

Adventures with Chicken

I’ve had some cooking successes lately.

The other night I was pressed for time and needed to cook dinner quickly. I could’ve had a frozen meal (i.e. reheated a serve of leftovers) but I had some chicken thighs in the fridge that needed to be cooked as I’d moved them from the freezer earlier in the week.

So I googled, “cook chicken thighs in the microwave” (or something like that) and came across this recipe. Basically, it involves:

Ingredients:

  • 2 x chicken thigh fillets
  • Chopped veggies of your choice
  • Chicken stock (made into liquid form)
  • Garlic, salt, pepper

Tools:

  • Microwave-safe container
  • Oven mitt (for pulling container out of microwave)
  • Knives
  • Chopping board

Method:

  1. Smear garlic onto chicken and place in bottom of dish – season with salt and pepper to taste
  2. Pour chicken stock over chicken
  3. Add veggies on top
  4. Cover with lid and put in the microwave on high for 4-5 minutes
  5. Remove lid (or let it sit lightly) and repeat step #4
  6. If chicken is still not cooked to satisfaction, microwave dish for bursts of 1 minute until it’s cooked through

Voila – I had a piping-hot microwave meal ( 😉 ) ready to eat. Just be careful with step #5. I left the lid off completely as instructed by the online recipe, but that caused too much moisture to escape and the microwave did not like it.

No photos to show for this meal – I was a bit too busy for that. 🙂

My second success was a few nights after, when, aided only by memory and the help of a googled recipe, I made chicken curry for the first time in my new place, all by myself. So here’s another dish to add to my known repertoire!

Chicken Curry 🍛 


Ingredients:

  • Oil/ margarine
  • Chilli, garlic, ginger, curry powder, Moroccan seasoning, cumin powder
  • Chicken stock
  • Chicken thigh fillet
  • Veggies
  • Rice/ noodles/ couscous/ potato

Tools:

  • Frying pan
  • Pot
  • Stirring spoon
  • Tongs/ spatula/ etc
  • Chopping board
  • Knives

Method:

  1. Chop veggies
  2. Chop chicken into strips
  3. Heat the oil/ margarine in the pan
  4. Add chicken pieces and cook until browned
  5. Stir in garlic, ginger, chilli, curry powder, cumin powder, Moroccan seasoning NB: the curry and cumin powders make this dish, with the Moroccan seasoning providing some extra flavours like hints of paprika and so on. Add as much of the cumin and curry powders as feels right.
  6. Add chicken stock after a minute and reduce heat to cook for some time
  7. Add veggies (I added them earlier than the online recipe indicated to because they needed to cook for longer).
  8. I also started cooking my potato here in the pot and ended up putting some of the harder veggies (carrots, sweet potato) in with it to reduce cooking time.
  9. Once judged that veggies were ready, I combined everything and took it over to the table. It tasted like it should, so yay.