Three years ago I was introduced to barbecue – yes with a c. I thought sausages and steak made up a barbeque, but not in the South. Barbecue in the South is all about slow-roasted swine. Whole swine, shredded, served with coleslaw on a soft white bread roll. Three years on and pulled pork is what everyone’s talking about here is Aus’. We’ve had roast pork rolls with gravy for years, but call it pulled and you can slap on an extra $10 bucks. Remove the ‘cole’ from ‘coleslaw,’ slap it on a brioche bun and you’ve practically got fine dining. Who would have thought there was such a bright future for the humble porky pig. Last night I served up pulled pork to my dear friends here in Camden. I like to think it’s about passing on the love. Dear friends introduced pulled pork East Carolina style, so I did the same – after a bit go googling and 8 hours, the last hour a little more anxious than the others (i had hungry guests to feed!) i served up some pulled pork. It wasn’t authentic, I didn’t have the right kind pieces of equipment but we got as close to authentic East Carolina style as this Aussie could do. Early reports were a little unsure, “Mel, that smells awful” — dear sister Laura. But after a few mouthfuls, the reports were resoundingly positive. The flavour a little different to what they’d had before, but appreciative none the less. But that’s the thing about pulled pork turning up on Australia’s shore,  you never know what kind of pulled pork you’re going to get. Barbecue is practically a discourse in the United States because it is so hotly contested. What is true barbecue? What constitutes barbecue? How do you cook barbecue? Still trying to work it all out myself, I did some research and here it is, thanks to some helpful maps: The United States and it’s regions The South (as determined by those states that succeeded during the Civil War to form the Confederate of the United States). Now barbecue differs vastly depending on where in the South you’re in and then again when you arrive in Texas (who will boast they are the home of true barbecue). More than which state you’re in, but where in each state – hence ‘East Carolina barbecue.’ Barbecue in the South Now, after travelling through some of these Southern regions and trying different kinds of barbecue, but also appreciating the huge variety in it, I order pulled pork with some hesitation. Australia is quite removed from the discourse of barbecue, so you have no idea what kind of pulled pork you’re going to get. Will it be sweet? Will it be tomato-y? Will it be vinegar-y? Will it have a sauce? What kind of sauce? Alas, the mystery will remain. For now, here’s the recipe I roughly stuck to from Spicy Southern Kitchen: Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
I hate institutionalised fitness. I hate gyms. I hate that healthy living and regular exercise has been commercialised. I hate that going to the gym is the normal thing to do – what happened to just going outside? Today I went to my first exercise class in about eight years. Yes, I have formed the above opinion without actually engaging in ‘institutionalised fitness’. For the past 5 years I’ve lived a fairly active lifestyle. My average day involved walking multiple kilometres between uni and the train station and just general activities, the casual jog/ walk. Withstanding the significant 7-10kilos I gained in my short stay in America, my weight and fitness level stayed fairly constant – my binge eating of desserts, baked goods and regular hot chip sandwiches were easily rectified. The challenge of losing my American baby, was not the greatest of challenges. Cue my first year of full time work. Hello sedentary lifestyle. Sleeping, sitting on a train, sitting at my work desk, sitting on a train, sitting on the couch. Notice the trend? Sitting. Lots and lots of sitting. Unsurprisingly really, I’ve gained 5 kilos this year. So back to my first fitness class. Here’s how it went in my head: Day my friend asked me: Oh this could be fun. I’ve been wanting to try Pilates for a while, correct that poor posture in my office chair, that’s what all the articles talk about. Maybe it could my new thing. It’s not in a real gym so I’m not really backing down. Day of class: Crap, I can’t even do a sit up, how am I going to do a whole class? I won’t know anything. Strategy, copy – copy everything. Do what everyone else does. Okay yep good strategy, except the fact I have zero core muscles and probably can’t do everything. New strategy, tell the instructor you know nothing. Make a joke about going easy on me. Yes good strategy. 5minutes before the class: Okay, yep copy. Okay yep mat goes here. Yep thanks for those 1kg weights, minuscule – what on earth can they do? Wow everyone else is stretching. I should stretch. Sure I could stretch but then they’ll know I can’t even touch my toes. Okay fake stretch, ah yes this is totally not working. During the class: Okay yep, I can do this. Wow that’s a new muscle. Sorry you want me to do 8 reps of that, I can’t even do one of it. Okay that hurts. Woah, a little shaky there. Okay full epileptic fit going on here. Rest now. No like really now. I really need a rest. Okay, we’re going to keep going. Keep it together Mel. Wow more correction, hips in, head up, align my knees. Oh and bend the knees – woah so many things to focus on. How long does this class go for? Wow, this is her eighth class today? I betcha she didn’t send like eighty emails today. I could totally take her on a typing test. Yes, good strategy, try and out type the instructor, that’s really going to help you lose the five kilos. Arms. I haven’t had my arms this long in the air since the years of netball training and spacial defense. Mmm like a bird. Yeah except a bird is made to keep their arms out. Wow my arms are so much flabbier than everyone elses? Focus. Shoulders back, core tight. Wow my left arm is significantly weaker than my right. Oo the shakes again. Ah the ballet bit now, I always wanted to do this as a kid. Mum said it would ruin my feet. Who cares about your feet when you can barely lift your leg? Plie, yes I can do these. Wow pointing my toes at this very moment is exhausting. After the class: Huh I survived that. Wow that only went for an hour? I’m pretty sure I did nothing right. She spent a lot of time correcting my. No right leg. No other arm with the leg. So much coordination, but hey I did it. Wow an hour went so quickly. Maybe I could do that again. It wasn’t so bad. It would be good for my core. Hmm should ask how much it is. Hmm $50 week, that’s a lot. That’s $200/month. Hmm maybe I’ll cash in on all the beginner packages. Ok but every place would be different and there will be more copying involved. Pretending to know what I’m doing. But still good for the core, would make my arms and core look awesome for summer. Mmm summer body – that’s what I’m about. I’ll wait for the pain tomorrow. Morning after: Okay, be prepared. Legs are going to hurt. Huh legs don’t hurt. Oo abs are little a sore, not awful though. Woah arms, they’re a little sore but not amputate right now sore. Oo the neck is a little sore, but not aching. I can’t believe I hurt more after a run. Afternoon after: Hmm let’s try a run. A nice tidy 4k, who would have thought. I wonder if there’s a class nearby. In Camden? Who am I kidding. Two days later: Oh yeah, i’d be up for a barre class next week. Getting sweaty in lycra with colleagues, what could be awkward about that? Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
I’m not very good at doing nothing. My ideal holiday involves people, activites, museums, sightseeing and the like. The typical picturesque sit-by-a-beach and relax is torturous. Add waterskiing, sailing, beach cricket, kayaking and you’ve got my attention. Last week I took three days annual leave and went camping with a group of friends from home. The camping trip is a yearly, if not more, trip from the group of 80% teachers enjoying their holidays. My previous life of vomiting words on to a computer screen during the holiday period is no longer and so they invited me into their fold. By the afternoon of the first day (the morning involved driving, setting up a comfortable campsite and lunch), I was making activity suggestions. Frisbee. Kayaking. Tennis. Anything?! A dear friend sitting across from me in our circle of chairs joked, “Mel, you do know how to do nothing, right?” I laughed – it’s what I do when I don’t know what to say. As the three days ensued, my usual pace of life took a dramatic shift. I become familiar with ‘doing nothing.’ A how-to guide for people who don’t know to stop and do nothing: Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
We’d been talking about it for a while, but it wasn’t until Sunday midday that I realised.  I’d just poured a glass of water and I looked up to the white board to see my dad’s sketch. “He’s gone?” “He’s really gone?!” “I didn’t even get to say goodbye!” Cue legitimate tears. They took me by surprise; the drought had broken. I can’t even remember the last time. It was possibly my sister’s wedding in 2012 – but even then I fail to accept they were real. But as the rain poured down outside, warm tears rolled down my cheeks. Dad and Laura were speechless. Sammy, or to some, Chester, was a pain in the butt of a dog, but dearly loved. In his youth, he bounced – like my sister’s Tiger toy.  For the first few years, Laura couldn’t go outside without someone else present. Sammy could jump higher than Laura stood tall. In his middle years, he barked – thunder, male voices, birds. He was always on guard. In his old age, he cried. He ran and groaned at the birds who stole his food. He looked confused at Bella’s disgust as he stole another of her beds. He cried at night to let us know he needed to relieve himself. I’ve never been a huge animal person, but there’s something special about your childhood dog. The excitement of choosing, then naming him. The joy of walking to school, knowing full well he set the pace and you trailed behind. The frantic times we ran down the street, around the corner and up the road after he escaped – driving the car and opening the door got him every time. There was even the time he bit the weird neighbour’s sheep at the end of the street – I got flashes of him being the evil dog in Babe. But Sammy, SamSam, Puppy – right to the end. You were our little bitzer. Goodbye.   Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
I’ve been a bit of a grump lately. Little things that I don’t usually let bother me have been accumulating and an aura of grumpiness has been following me around. I’ve been rude, impatient, less helpful and awfully direct in my words. I had to go and pick my sister up from her boyfriend’s place on Sunday night. I didn’t check my phone to see the message and had returned from church without detouring to pick her up. It was all of 9pm and not even close to the early hours of the morning when she’d picked me up from train stations in years past. I mumbled something about being hungry and slammed the door behind me. Melanie the grump. Earlier this year I made a conscious decision to refrain from complaining about clients even when their decisions, actions or inaction caused more work/stress for me. But this week it’s started to creep in. I’ve been short on the phone and have a grumble after (lightly) slamming down the phone. My emails became short and I was less keen to go the extra mile for them. Melanie the grump. Wednesday night I was up at 3.00, 3.15, 3.30 and then 3.45am to our ageing dog. I’ve google-diagnosed him with kidney failure. His thirst has increased, while his bladder control has decreased (see a connection?). He politely whimpers when he needs to be let out (then barks after I ignore him pretending he doesn’t exist), but in the cold early hours of the morning my patience is slim. As I stood on the deck in my pyjamas with my uggboots on the wrong feet, I looked at him – deaf and going blind and I swore at him. “Sammy, every time you wake me, your life is one day shorter!” Melanie the grump. Yesterday morning I let a car in from a different lane and it meant I missed the opportunity to turn. I had to wait three whole minutes for  another opportunity. I was so close but so far. I ended up missing my train to work by about 50metres. All because of that car. If I didn’t let that car in, I would have made my train. Now I had to stand on a cold platform and wait 10 minutes for the next non-direct train. Melanie the grump. Standing on the platform, I shot a text message to my Dad. He usually commutes with me but was elsewhere yesterday. I got his reply and boy did he rebuke me. While he tried to encourage my actions – allowing the car in despite him being in the wrong lane – I realised I was being incredibly selfish. I was allowing a spirit of peace and generosity to be squashed out by a spirit of bitterness and anger. My usual smiles arriving at the office and accepting decisions were fake and I was always “fine” when someone asked how I was. I was completely caught up in holding on to anything that fuelled my fury. And so I sat there on the 8.02 train to the city, pulled out my bible and confessed my grumbling spirit. As I continued my commute a song came on Spotify I had no recollection of: Shane and Shane, ‘You loved my heart to death.‘ The lyrics caught my attention. I drank the cup of death It’s running through my veins I chose my pride instead Of the glory of Your name All the wrath of God that I Deserve with every breath Fell upon Him And He loved my heart to death It’s taken me some time to believe There’ll never come a day That You’ll ever leave That when I drive the nails through Your hands You do not recant You never take it back The foolishness of my actions was apparent. I was holding on to any inconvenient or any wrongdoing towards me. I was keeping a record of wrongs – the need to grumble was running through my veins. But how thankful I am that my record of wrongs was dealt with in the nails through Christ’s hands.  I can see once more how great the love of Christ is to love my bitter and grumbling heart to death. I eventually flicked to Proverbs and found this little gem as I boarded my connecting train to work. I’ve made it into a little postcard that I will print and stick beside my desk to remind me to put the grumble at the foot of the cross. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)