12.4.03

No, I haven't left the place, just been away without net access for a few days. Just in and out at the moment, but plan to catch up tomorrow.

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9.4.03

This morning's SMH has in its letters column a series of letters about the Minister for Entertaining People. This of course, refers to Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Information Minister. One thought his nose grew with each pronouncement. Another foresaw a career in politics anywhere after the war for him. Yet another thought he had been given the best lines since Groucho Marx, while another thought he was perhaps Peter Sellers in disguise with a script by Monty Python. The Oscar for the best comedic performance went to... And finally, do you remember Eric the Eel at the 2000 Olympics? He was the man from the African (?) state who entered the swimming alongside Thorpe et al. He took longer to swim the length of the pool than I would and was given a standing ovation when he finally reached the other end. The Eric the Eel award for Optimism is awarded to Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

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8.4.03

My house is full of the wonderful aroma of baking bread. I make most of the bread we use here and enjoy doing so. Once I made it by hand and enjoyed kneading it in an almost meditative fashion. Arthritis would prevent this happening now as a regular thing and so I use a breadmaking machine.

The machine has opened new possibilities for me. I now experiment with different flours which would have required too much kneading by hand. This loaf is made from spelt, an ancient grain related to wheat. Other flours give different flavours and textures too. I make pizza bases, rolls, flat breads and sweet breads with rosewater icings. Soon I will make hot cross buns.

Bread is such an ancient thing and the making of it, even by machine, connects me with history. Salt and bread were staples of ancient diets, along with wine, a safe form of water, when so much was contaminated. It was bread and wine whichJesus took and blessed the night he was betrayed and we continue this "till he comes." It wasn't even the lamb of the passover, as meat was not a common food. It was bread and wine.

In many places, bread, made with the living yeast is regarded with some awe and with thankfulness. We have a young Serbian friend and a meal at his house begins with all holding a large loaf which is then blessed and each diner takes a piece. All take and share and share in the fellowship of the loaf. His blessing is in Serbian, but we all say a thankful "amen."

I think that it is partly this sense of history and fellowship which prompted my appalled reaction when I saw people almost rioting for food aid in Iraq. They, along with others from many nations, lack the grain for even such a simple thing as bread. They are not looking for some fancy food, just the most basic around. I live in a land of plenty, blessed with abundant food. Even with the worst drought in a century, we have amazing fresh produce, perhaps some of the best supplies in the world. I find it difficult to imagine how desperate those people were, even having seen it on film. I think that this plenty can blind us to those for whom even the most basic food is a luxury.

Give us this day our daily bread

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7.4.03

According to the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, blanket media coverage of the war in Iraq could be bought. Sounded good to me, then I looked a bit further. For only $199.95 I could buy a blanket to cover my TV.

While this may be a wry look at the massive coverage of the war, most of it the same as the day before, it is typical of the Aussie sense of humour, turning even tragic events into humour.

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