Friday, 20 January 2017

Ramblings of a teetotaller

If you come here often, you will know that I am a Christian but I don't think I have ever talked about my denomination, mostly because it has limited relevance. I belong to The Salvation Army, which makes me "a Salvationist" although "a Salvo" is the more common usage.
The Salvation Army started as a way of bringing church to the disadvantaged and marginalised people of London and our founder, William Booth, recognised that alcohol was a significant issue for his flock. His way of addressing the problem was to make The Salvation Army a temperance movement. As a matter of example and solidarity for those they were trying to help, Salvationists were required to become tee-total and so I followed that tradition when I formalised my membership of the church at age 18.
Since my childhood in the Salvos, the requirement to avoid alcohol has not changed but the attitudes surrounding the issue certainly have. I remember a Salvation Army where, for members, drinking was regarded as a complete no-no and would probably have provoked a pastoral visit from a senior member of the church community but these days it is tolerated with something more like a "don't ask, don't tell" attitude.
As I neared adulthood I regarded the Army's stance as a prime way to make ourselves, as a group, appear unapproachable and censorious although I still had huge respect for the philosophy and largely kept my promise to be alcohol free. ( I would sometimes have a taste of someone else's drink but drew the line at pouring or purchasing my own)
I suppose the expectation of abstinence was too much for a proportion of my generation because many of the people I grew up with in the church eventually left The Salvation Army and made themselves at home in the Anglican church where it was more acceptable to have a tipple.
I never felt a need to leave "the Salvos" but I decided that I would not burden my children with shame if they were to drink moderately.

In the last few years I have seen these threads come together in an new way. My children have all reached the age of majority, our New South Wales state government has enacted "draconian", "nanny state" anti-alcohol laws in an attempt to curb alcohol related violence and the church is increasingly struggling to be found relevant. My own local church, the one I have attended all my life, has been threatened with closure and our future is not certain,

I am beginning to think that maybe there would be some in our society who would welcome the absence of alcohol and that an environment of abstinence might be a refuge of sorts? Maybe the church is losing relevance because it looks too  much the same as secular society? Maybe abstinence is way cooler than we have given it credit for? I find it a little sad that our government is taking a stand towards moderation while the church is going in the opposite direction and I find it disturbing that the sanctions against alcohol are financially driven (saving money for police and hospitals) rather than rooted in the welfare of humanity.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Mango Smoothie

I have heard January in Sydney described as a month long party and, if you are privileged enough, I suppose that is true. School children are on  holidays and the relaxed attitudes start with Christmas. Boxing day and New Year holidays follow and then there is Australia day only three weeks later. It is the time of year that many businesses close so it can be hard to see a doctor or get a tradesman or eat at a favourite restaurant. The days after New Year sometimes feel just a little bit apocalyptic and everything slowly gains momentum  as the month passes.
All of this is reflected in the activities of my church. There was no service on New Years Day, things resumed with a poorly attended service on the 8th and the coffee lady (that's me) decided to serve cold lemon cordial instead of coffee.Today our minister is back on deck after a couple of weeks off and she corralled a few of us to get Christmas decorations put away.
It's a very hot and unpleasant 40°C today so she offered to buy us all a drink as thank you.
I'm usually a coffee drinker but today my head was turned by the promising sound of a coconut and mango smoothie. In my heat addled state I imagined it to be coconut milk with mango. The drink I ended up with was delicious but obviously highly sweetened and containing very little coconut. It also came in a single use plastic cup. I do my best to stay away from sugary drinks and single use plastics so there was a side of guilt involved.
Right now i'm wondering if this confessional post would qualify as "Daggy Mum" fodder. Maybe I should have just made my own coconut mango smoothie and posted photos.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Daggy mum?


I have a favourite cousin ( I actually have a number of favourite cousins) anyway this one, who I will call Ed, is close to my own age. I don't see a lot of him but we have an odd kind of a bond. When we were kids, Ed lived on the other side of Sydney, I guess an hour or more drive away so we didn't see a lot of each other in those days, either.
Sometimes  Grandpa would ask who wanted to make the trip to Manly to see the cousins and I would inevitably be the one to put my hand up. I remember that at one point in the drive Grandpa would announce that the traffic was heavy and he needed to concentrate so no talking was allowed. He would later announce the end of the tricky bit and we could talk again. This aspect of the journey is pretty much all I can remember of the drive. It was routine and I never thought a lot about it but many years later I mentioned it to my Dad and he said the silence would have been designed to keep Grandma quiet. It's a bit funny because as far as I remember Grandma wasn't that much of a chatterbox! Then again, I am supposedly quite like her so um, yea. Memory is unreliable, right?

Back to my cousin, we were in the same grade at school and for part of each visit my uncle, an interesting man, would send us to separate bedrooms to do maths and later compare our results.
Maybe my relationship with Ed was forged through Saturday afternoon maths exercises and Shredded Wheat dinners......
I haven't heard a lot of Ed lately but yesterday he called me for some baby related information and along with some general catching up, we were talking about my lack of employment. Ed has the ability to speak with total authority, even when he knows little to nothing on the subject, and quickly determined (while showing off his vocabulary) that I should use my "droll, dry, laconic" ability to "turn a phrase" and become the next Mommy blogger sensation. I expressed some concern about my ability to carve a niche in an already full market but Ed was on a roll and he wasn't about to stop. In next to no time he identified my unique selling point as a potential mommy blogger and checked for domain name availability: Daggy Mum of
Some time ago I posted about my inability (or maybe unwillingness) to develop a specific blogging persona and come to think of it I was the same as a doula, not wanting to brand myself as others do "The Modern Doula", "Birthwise Doula" or "Mamabear Doula".
It might, indeed, be smart to label myself "Daggy Mum", creating a self deprecating, droll and laconic personal brand but what happens on the days I want to be cool, stylish, frugal, thoughtful or perspicacious?