#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 “

 

Mushroom Gravy (with Roo Skewers)

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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!

 

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!

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!

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.

Reblog from this time last year: Ouch! We’re lucky to have a good health system…..

So, it’s been over a year since I dislocated my kneecap. Phew!

It was not the most significant personal event of the year, but it was significant enough. I still have to remember to try and do knee exercises (recommended by the physio) to keep the muscles strong. In the end we decided against operating as it wasn’t clear if it’d help more than harm in the long run.

It was an experience, that’s for certain, which gave me a new perspective. Thanks again health system, doctors, nurses and other staff.

In the weeks afterwards I had to rely on people differently for a while, which was a good thing. It’s also made me slightly more spatial aware than I was, because now I’m somewhat paranoid about my knees banging into things. It still happens occasionally though.

Source: Ouch! We’re lucky to have a good health system…..

Ode to Public Transport (Trains)

Public transport is useful. It can be annoying. It can also be good.

For trains….

We’ve all had (more than) our fair share of having to stand all the way to our destination, just because it’s peak hour and you’re travelling with the peak not against it. (Yes, this is worse on different lines.) Or the times when you’re travelling against/ outside of the peak can actually sit down and relax.

When we’re all in the same boat – sorry, carriage – during the peak, a fleeting camaraderie can form, as the standing people shuffle around at each station to let others out and in, then reposition themselves and their belongings so that there’s less chance of knocking into someone as the train moves. Knowing that everyone has to share the same space.

I enjoy public transport, most of the time, because it means I’m not having to think too much about getting from A to B. I prefer trains because it feels faster than other options a lot of the time. Trams and buses have their uses, too, but trams seem slow a lot of the time and buses have to deal with traffic. I like the SMART buses when going somewhere new via the road – it means I can be a bit more relaxed about getting there.

When you travel on public transport a lot, on particular lines/routes, you get to know them. The amount of time it’s going to take from A to B stopping all stations on a train, for example. Where the nice scenery is (like the bridges over the Merri Creek area near Westgarth and Rushall stations) and where the platforms change sides, if they do.

Melbourne’s public transport network is like a giant spiderweb. My main gripe with it is that the web of train lines is like the axle and spokes of a wheel, with the outer rim only provided by buses. Why do we have to go all the way into the city, just to go out again?

I like the network because it gets me where I want to go – to see family, my boyfriend, friends; to go to events or do other things.

MIV2018 Update!

MIV18 header

69th Intervarsity Choral Festival Melbourne 2018 – MIV, Summer of ’69

11th March marked 10 months to go until the Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival 2018.

“Ten months?” I hear you say, “But that’s still ages away!”
My reply to that is both yes and no.

To an excited chorister, especially one who missed out on the Perth IVCF 2017, it does feel like a while. An Australian autumn, winter, spring and Christmas/New Year must pass before it arrives. Plenty of local choir action must, too, including individual exciting projects. (Yay!)

But to a MIV Committee member, ten months is not very long at all. In my role as Co-Social Secretary, we’re aiming to have a social gathering at least every couple of months, if not sooner. My workload is going to increase as the year goes on and time grows shorter, but it’s not starting at nothing. The next social event is planned for three weeks away!

On the 10-months-out date, I spent my morning helping out at a Fundraising BBQ at Bunnings. It was fun, if rather hectic at times. I was the bread-woman – I ensured our tub of bread slices was kept stocked fresh, I took the bread slices (often one in each gloved hand) over to the BBQ-man and held them while he placed the sausage (with or without onion in) then handed the full lot to the customer, who’d already paid our cash-woman.

It was sort of fun – we took turns putting our own music through some speakers, leading to more than one occasion of singing along to songs!
We joked that it was “democracy sausages without the election“. 😛 (link to photo on MIV2018 Facebook page – go on, like them while you’re there?)

It was also quite tiring. Not so much the fact that I was on my feet for a good four or so hours doing things, but the social-cognitive stuff was what wore me out more I think. There were times when I was performing the routine described above repetitively without a lull. It was grab bread, listen to order, remember it, turn to BBQ, fill order, turn and locate person, repeat. Sometimes I’d have to multitask if two people wanted one sausage each (so that’s one order per hand) – which could be interesting if one wanted onion and the other didn’t! I got used to repeating, “one with, one without” and “two with” and “two without” and so on. Phew!

I’d do it again though. 😉

Another thing that happened on the 11th was the release of the latest MIV Mailout, to coincide with the ten month mark. In it we introduced our musical director!

(Drum roll…)

Our Musical Director is Patrick Burns. Here’s his bio, courtesy of this link from the MIV Facebook page – I would have embedded it properly, but it doesn’t seem to like that given there’s a picture with it.

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“Patrick began his conducting studies whilst completing his under-graduate studies at the Queensland Conservatorium. He is an alumni of the Symphony Australia conductor development program which has seen him participate in workshops across Australia with Orchestra Victoria, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and also in New Zealand with the Auckland Philharmonia under the guidance of Christopher Seaman, Johannes Fritzsch, Sebastian Lang-Lessing and Baldur Brönnimann.

From 2010 to 2014 Patrick was the Music Director for the Monash University Choral Society and from 2011 to 2014 was also the Music Director for the Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, he was made a life member of MonUCS for his contribution and dedication to the choir. He is currently the Chief Conductor for the Ipswich City Orchestra in Queensland and has held the position since 2008. Patrick is also the Music Director for the Melbourne-based artistic collaboration, XL Arts.

In 2015 Patrick travelled to Bulgaria to participate in the Blue Danube Opera Conducting Masterclass with the Bulgarian State Opera. As a result he was invited to conduct a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Bulgarian State Opera House in Rousse. He was also recently awarded the Jury’s Special Prize at the 2015 Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition. In 2016, Patrick returned to Bulgaria to conduct performances of Verdi’s Nabucco Puccini’s Turandot and also a symphonic concert with the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra. In 2016 Patrick was also awarded the Orchestra’s Prize in the Black Sea Opera Conducting Competition held at the National Opera Theatre of Romania in Constanta.

We’re thrilled to be working with Pat to bring you a gorgeous repertoire and an exciting festival experience.”

 

It’s so exciting. There’s plenty of more cool things to be announced or in the pipeline to happen…why not sign up to the mailing list at miv.org.au to keep informed?