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I was out every night except Tuesday last week. To most of you that probably won’t seem like much, but honestly, I’m such a homebody these days and I have also learned how to manage my energy levels (mostly) that it’s rare I’ll be out more than once or twice a week.

Then along will come a week where everything lines up, one thing after another, and I try not to panic. Also, most things were in town, so that makes it even more tiring when anticipating the week ahead. We are a 20 minute drive from town, or 17 kms (for Sydney friends, about the distance from Circular Quay to La Perouse, say. Though it might take you longer than 20 minutes!). Actually, Monday night was band, which is a bit further (22 kms, or from Circular Quay to Turramurra). It’s not far, and by Sydney standards, we were used to it taking at least 20 minutes to get almost anywhere beyond our own suburb. But just mentally we feel like ‘going to town’ is becoming a thing and we understand why locals would raise their eyebrows and ask why we chose to live so far away when we first moved here. But then, there’s almost zero traffic, so that’s a bonus. Actually it can be seriously unsettling driving home some nights at 9:15 and being the only car on the West Tamar Highway. You feel like the zombie apocalypse has happened and you’re the only one who wasn’t told.

I rather love living here, though! It’s so nice driving out into the blackness when you get to the Tamar wetlands and feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere, with nothing visible but the blazing sky of stars overhead.

Anyway. So Monday night was band, which I am still really enjoying. We have a big flute section this year – we’ve gone from three to four to now eight flute players. So you can almost actually hear us over the brass! My practising has slowed down a lot as life got busier, and I didn’t get to the end of my 100 days of practise, though I am still playing much more than I was last year (which isn’t saying much but is still an improvement). I discovered one of the other flautists lives up the road so now we’re carpooling to rehearsal, which is nice. I usually selfishly prize my alone driving time, as I listen to podcasts and audiobooks. But once I got over that, I’ve actually really enjoyed starting to get to know B, and with each conversation it turns out we have more and more in common.

This is actually wind orchestra, but hey, both bands look much the same.

Tuesday, we were going to go to a movie but it sold out and I’d forgotten to buy tickets. I was secretly relieved.

Wednesday night was church band rehearsal. Since our minister James arrived at St John’s, we split the 10am musicians into four teams and it’s working so much better. Actually I don’t know how the other bands are going because I am usually at 5pm church and don’t often go twice. But I enjoy having a bit more autonomy/authority to choose my own repertoire and to direct my own team. So far it’s just me on keys and vocals, two other singers and a flute player (and a beginner bass player, but he hasn’t been able to play with us yet). I miss having a drummer and guitar! But hopefully as things improve, other musos will come out of the woodwork. It’s actually not a bad thing to be challenged by restriction, as it means you have to think about how you’re going to get the best sound, or a big sound out of a few players, or how you’re going to emulate the mood/feel of a song that you’ve only heard in a recording with a full rock band, with just a piano.

On Thursday night I had agreed to give my testimony at the penultimate Christianity Explored session, with the five others that had been doing the course. I figure any opportunity to tell people about what Jesus has done in my life is a good one. Though it was interesting, when I told it to mum on a practice run, she said that I had misremembered/conflated two parts of the story into one moment. My memory is an unreliable thing! I rewrote it quickly and went off to dinner and to give my talk. I didn’t like that I kind of read it rather than just delivering it in a more conversational way, but I think it went well and if I was going to do it in front of a bigger group I’d probably run through it a few times to make it sound more fluid. It’s my story, so you’d think it would be easy to tell off my heart, but to get the events in sequence and for the testimony to have a clear through-line that points to Jesus (and not myself), and doesn’t wander off on tangents, I think writing it down is a good thing to do. And now I have a written piece, too! I wasn’t sure whether I should post it here – maybe I will do that in the next post.

Friday is now my music day. I help out with a pre-school ministry called Mainly Music in the mornings, which is fun but understaffed so it always feels quite tiring. But I love seeing little kids having a blast, singing and dancing and playing. Then after school I teach siblings O, C and O piano, and eventually we’ll add singing to the mix as well. They don’t really want to do exams, which is a relief, because my teaching style is very, er, loose. But they were keen to learn to play and sing the way I do. That means I have had to think about how I actually do it! I’m also worried I’ll leave out crucial steps in learning how to build chords and things like that, so I’m kind of scrambling to find some fun theory books that might fill in some gaps. Eh, it’ll all come out in the wash. I asked them each to list some songs they liked that we could start with – we’ve got a few of the popular church songs that are in easy keys (Cornerstone, All glory be to Christ our king, Amazing Grace) and we’re going to do a couple of songs from Wicked and Les Mis too. I’m going to have my own little von Trapp family singers soon! I also get to eat with the family after lessons, and it’s been so good getting to know them. When I got home the other night, there was a message from the mum saying she hadn’t heard her daughter laugh like that for ages and it was so nice to hear. So it’s good for all of us!

Two Mainly Music participants

Saturday was going to be a total day at home, but I ended up going to the tip when I discovered they have a recycling centre. So I took a carful of boxes, soft plastics and the random batteries and lightbulbs that have been lying around. Now our garage looks like a garage again and not a waste sorting centre. We had a friend from church over for afternoon tea, and then we had a last minute invitation to another church family’s place for fireworks. I didn’t ask why there were fireworks and thought it a little odd. But then I discovered it was cracker night, and I’m so glad I went! We gathered for soup and tasty dessert and lots of fun fireworks. I think that’s my first experience of backyard fireworks.

Yeah okay not the world’s best firework photo but you get the idea

Then Sunday I thought would be pretty standard, just do music at church and then head home and my busy week would be done. Well. Sort of. The sound guys couldn’t get my keyboard to output through the PA (which has never been a problem before) so about 10 minutes before church started we had to switch over to piano and had rather a rushed run through of the songs. Then on the dot of church starting, the computer crashed so there was no PowerPoint with the song words. Then about 10 minutes into the service, the heaters tripped the circuit at the front of the church and all the lights, projector, computer (again) went out for ages. Somehow we just kept ploughing on! People still sang loudly (those who knew the songs), and I taught an easy new song with a call and response method, so it didn’t matter that the words weren’t up. I am pretty sure I was smiling, not grimacing. There were no interruptions when the actual sermon was preached, and it was a good one. As Jen would say, there was no death or structural damage and Jesus was honoured, so we count that as a win.

But boy I was wiped out by the end of that week! I’m glad this week seems much more sedate…


Header photo: by Maria Freyenbacher on Unsplash