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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mr Pineapple Head

Fabulous Fruit Fantasy:

Well, thats what I wanted to call the party we held recently for our 10 yr old, but it was vetoed. In the end we had 'Fruit fun', which hasn't such a ring to it, has it? Whatever the case, Melbourne in early summer is perfect for fruit-themed parties, we soon discovered. Probably having a chocolate fountain at our place was a touch of finesse, although the child who discovered braces were good not just for your teeth, but helpful for gathering chocolate probably violated a few health regulations!

If you can get to the Victoria Market, you can do this kind of party in style...
and we managed. After a fruity fashion parade, we walked the girls dressed as little fruit down to the park, reminding them not to get squashed on the road. Our games included: Watermelon relay (around the lake in the park); Apple bowls, Watermelon smash, orange relay (You know that one where you pass on the orange without using your hands), Banana Karaoke (a favourite) and 'Fruity Tongue Twisters'. I'm just not sure whether wearing the pineapple on my head was such a good idea...

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Japanese Story

One memory of the trip this year was going in to this quintessential 'onsen' (hot springs) in Hakone. Hakone was a rainy day, so it was a good day to go to jump into some warm water. Most of the guys came with us, although a few took the opportunity to just stop at Odawara, where we had gotten off the bullet train from Tokyo. Anyway, all was going rosily - a few of the guys were a bit embarrassed about getting down to their birthday suits for the baths (they had been warned) - actually very rosily, if you didn't realise which bath was the scalding one! You could climb up some stairs to get to the top baths. Eventually, I thought I'd take the chance to get upstairs and just enjoy the scenery from the top floor of the beautiful traditional Japanese building, built on the side of a green mountain.

It dawned on me at this point that there was no pile of towels provided, as I had been advised at the Tokyo Ryokan that morning... no I had no towel, and what was worse - I had no towel for the 13 young guys! Luckily, I had bought a small towel to carry into the baths, and had a spare one which I could use for myself. Panicking, I raced out looking for a place where I might be able to hire a towel. Eventually, I found a vending machine... would you believe it - yes, in Japan every kind of vending machine is around most street corners. All I had to do, was get change from the front desk, and spend about 10 minutes, buying 200 yen ($2) small towels out of the vending machine. Going back into the baths, the guys were waiting and looked somewhat relieved!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

From sweaty Shibuya to chilly Anglesea

I'm housesitting in Anglesea, watching a red parrot in the backyard and enjoying reading in front of the fire. Japan was a blast as we had always expected, with eighteen teenagers along for the ride. They were fantastic actually and you can read more details of our time in Japan at our blog of the trip, here. I missed my family though, it was fun catching up and continuing to catch up as we unwind down the coast. At last it is raining in Australia, and goodness knows, we need it! I'm just wondering whether to get out the wetsuit and take on the winter waves... if the sun would just come out, I might actually do so!

Here is a photo from Akihabara!

Akihabara Manga Characters

Saturday, June 09, 2007


My daughter (and son) have been running lately - its got me thinking, I should be running again too. When I was younger, I ran most days, addicted to the adrenaline. What is it, about something which can be tough, especially when you haven't done it for a while, that makes it actually exhilirating? For one thing, its not tied to an indoor setting, like inside a gym. Yesterday morning, when we went for a run, it was about 7am, but the moon was still up in the sky. Running reminds me of my humanity, seeing trees, the river, even other people. Breathing cool air and embracing the earth. Yes, I think there is something mysteriously good about it. Running.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Approaching a bend in the road...

Well, I'm off to Japan in two weeks, its my 5th trip there, but this one looks like being the most frenetic! Quite apart from the fact that I am taking 18 young adults, our schedule takes us from Tokyo to Hakone, to Hiroshima to Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji and then to Tokyo again, a whirlwind visit, touring sights and meeting people.

I'm looking forward to meeting people the most... in Tokyo, some friends have agreed to show us Harajuku and Asakusa areas. Amazingly, my cousin and her family may be able to meet me in Disneyland and then we're going on a school visit in Kobe, to Rokko Gakuin.

I'll be trying to post to the blog indicated above, and perhaps assisted by some of the students on the tour. That depends of course on having enough time away from touring, organising and taking time out!
My family has been making origami cranes, which I am wondering whether I should take with me to Hiroshima.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Surprising Shinto Texts

Well, I'm shortly back off to Japan, for a school trip with students from the place where I teach. I was interested recently to discover some Shinto texts, which were from a different perspective than I expected. Not that I have actually read a lot of Shinto writings. See if they surprise you!

Ise Teijo, who lived from 1715-1784, said, ‘Never make an image to represent the Deity… an image made by mortal hands is of no use in Shinto Worship.’[1]

Another text:

'If one ceremoniously invited me to his abode by hanging up sacred straw ropes for thousands of days, yet would I not cross his threshold were he dishonest, harsh or greedy.'[2]

A third text, written by Shima-shigeoyu, Shinto priest of Izumo Shrine in the Tokugawa period goes as follows:
'Deem not that only in this earthly shrine the Deity doth reign; The Earth entire and all the Heavens divine, His presence do proclaim.'[3]

These passages resonate with me, as a follower of Christ, as fitting with biblical principles.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that religious groups around the world have developed many similar principles to each other. I wonder whether this could also contribute to dialogue between Shinto and Christian groups.

[1] Genchi Kato, A Study of Shinto: The Religion of the Japanese Nation, (London: Curzon Press, 2nd Edition, 1971), 185.
[2] Attributed to the Oracle of the Deity of Kasuga (Perhaps written by Shinto priest Urabe-no-kanetomo), in Kato, A Study of Shinto,(1971), 179-80.
[3] Kato, A Study of Shinto,(1971), 187.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An enjoyable ramble

For Anzac Day, avoiding the rush at the Shrine, we took a peaceful ramble from the Collingwood Children's Farm across to Dight's falls. It was a beautiful walk, not at all spoilt by the number of bikes out, even if they mostly forgot to use their bells!

The kids fed the horses and donkeys at the farm and we finished up by going down to the Convent, where we found "Lentil as Anything", an impressive veggo cafe. At "Lentil as Anything", there is no cashier, nothing but a box, to drop your cash in at the end. You "Pay as you like", according to what you think the food is worth. We ate Udon, which was obviously Japanese cuisine influenced and a "curry platter", great food and good coffee - much impressed.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Learning geography from Asterix

Amongst the householders at our place, this set of French cartoons has become a popular one recently, and the whole set has been gradually picked up from the library and read voraciously. Actually, Asterix seems like quite a good geography lesson, (if mainly restricted to Europe) doesn't it, and the puns are good for the average adult. I actually fell to reading Asterix in Japanese, when I lived in Japan, which was quite enjoyable, especially when you remember them as well as I do. The official website is worth a look, if you're into this crew.
And, here's the English version of the latest typically hollywoody music for the most recent Asterix movie:

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Foetal position

As I lead a Catholic retreat this week, I am reminded of the way I get caught up in activity. Frenetic activity consumes me until I am uncomfortably numb, as opposed to the Pink Floyd song. This picture, my partner's, sums it up well. The bright lights, (have you ever been to the casino?), attract us - at least at first. Eventually we succumb and assume the position we held in the womb.

Year 12 students, who I will take on retreat, need to avoid this reaction to the violence of the push for results and the pressures of the year. How they can avoid this is perhaps by following some Leunig strategies.

For there are some who desire to know only for the sake of knowing; and this is disgraceful curiosity.
And there are some who desire to know, that they may become known themselves; and this is disgraceful vanity....
And there are also some who desire to know in order to sell their knowledge, as for money, or for degrees; and this is disgraceful commercialism.
But there are also some who desire to know in order to edify; and this is love.
- Bernard, Abott of Clairvaux 12th C

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Passing the buck

I wouldn't say that my move from a public educational institution into a private one was a shock - it was rather the opposite, a change that is easy to get used to. After around 8 years in a a public institution, I can see the difference and it is one I feel quite ambivalent about. In the end, students are students, some have good study habits, some not and there are no guarantees, even if their parents are paying an arm and a leg.

My ambivalence is due to the apparent ease with which the government(s) pass the buck on the poor resourcing and support offered to teachers in the tough schools, where there are none of the perks, or even just the support of the time needed to do a really good job. In the end, too, part of the reason I am really comfortable with the change is related to the fact that the new place, is just around the corner from me.

I guess I have to be careful in the place where I am that I too, am not throwing around the money, or even trashing it, but that I have a greater responsibility, where I have responsibility for more, to use it wisely and with compassion for the growth of others. What a challenge this is...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Being a pasta's husband

Yes, my daughter said, "Mum, you'll be the pasta and I'll be the fettucini!", when my other half got a job recently at a melbourne church. Its always interesting being the husband, where the role of the pastor's wife in many a church has been pretty narrow... But I'm pretty lucky really, since people don't really seem to know what to expect of the pastor's husband. One thing is for sure, if people think things are hunky dory and all easy in these days post women's lib for a woman in leadership, it ain't necessarily so, in church circles! But ah well, things are a changing and there are a lot of positives too...