Longer & deeper

For when you're in the mood for a good read

  • Stone statue of powerful angel with trumpet
    Longer & deeper

    Daniel, the dentist and the TV news

    Recently, I went to the dentist for a check-up. It’s not my favourite thing to do. Ever. I see dentistry as a necessary evil, probably due to some unhappy experiences in childhood, and so I usually put off any dentist visit for as long as possible. This time, the young dentist who cleaned and treated my teeth was new to me, so I was a little more anxious than usual. But his gentleness, dexterity and up-to-date equipment made it a far quicker and less uncomfortable experience than ever before. In fact, it was so much better that I’ve even booked another check-up in six months. News As I lay in…

  • Old-style barber shop with young man leaning on chair
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    Something honest and real #2

    This is the second part of a long-form post. You can find the first part HERE. In Part One of this post, I began with an old mahogany bench and an old-style stapler—one old thing and one old-style thing. I wanted to explore what I could learn from them. I know they’re only things, but it’s what they represent and communicate that makes them so interesting. And the longer I’ve thought about them, the more I’ve discovered. Time & progress For a start, I’ve learned to appreciate each old thing for its part in the long story of human endeavour and enterprise. Each one is a marker in time, a step…

  • Old mahogany bench with cushions and throw
    Longer & deeper

    Something honest and real #1

    This is Part One of a longer post—Part Two to follow. It definitely shows signs of use, lots of use. So I sometimes wonder what it would tell me if it could actually speak. Perhaps it would tell me about the time that dent first appeared, or why this bit is grooved and that chunk is missing, or how many years it’s taken for the velvety patina to develop. It might even tell me how often it’s been polished, about the places it’s been or the people who’ve sat on it. Simple purpose And I sometimes wonder about the Indonesian craftsman who fashioned this mahogany bench, using hand tools to…

  • Overhead shot of woman exercising on mat
    Longer & deeper

    Remembering who I am

    Exercise It’s Tuesday morning. Time for Pilates, a form of exercise designed to engage and, hopefully, synchronise my brain with my body. I lie on the Reformer bed lifting and lowering my legs. The familiar patterns of movement free my brain enough for me to ask Monica, my Tuesday instructor, if she’d had a good weekend. “Yes”, she said. Apart from giving some extra classes, she’d been for a beach swim and caught up with friends. I move on to the next exercise—leg circles, in both directions. Re-engage brain, remember which muscles to use, remember to count. Did she say ten or twelve repetitions? “How about your weekend?” she asks.…

  • Three young women take a selfie
    Longer & deeper

    Photographs, memories and love

    We sat there in the shade of the blue canvas umbrella, trying and failing to stay cool. Microscopic beads of perspiration formed on our skin in the heavy humid heat, giving each of us a certain glow we would gladly have done without. Celebrations It was our national day—Australia Day—and we’d gathered to celebrate our friend’s birthday once more, a group of friends, some old, some new. I guess it’s our stage of life, but somehow the conversation turned to weddings. And our birthday friend brought out the photo album her son and daughter-in-law had given the family at Christmas, a beautiful momento of the day they were married, just…

  • man_and_woman_sitting_on_wooden_steps
    Longer & deeper

    Not there yet

    The other day I was astonished to realise that I’ve been in my current home for five years. Where have those years gone? Did I forget to pay attention? Or was I just too busy doing life? But when I slow down enough to remember all that’s happened during that time, my perspective changes completely. I feel exhausted just thinking about it! Moving house All that upheaval, moving from our home of many memories to a house with none, at least, none of ours. And all that energy, packing up a life, only to unpack it again and then to cull, divest and downsize. And all that not-knowing, as I…

  • Image of man holding hymnbook
    Longer & deeper

    Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

    The song leader clearly felt awkward about it. One Sunday morning as he introduced the next song—an old hymn—he apologised for the fact that we were about to sing something that was so old-school. It wasn’t exactly helpful. But it seems that he just blurted out what he was really thinking—that old hymns are old hat, out-dated, irrelevant perhaps. It’s true, he could have chosen his words more carefully. And yet, it’s not hard to understand the song leader’s discomfort. When anything in our daily lives is superseded by a newer, shinier model, it can be tempting to see ‘newer’ as ‘better’. Because often, it’s the case. New and old…

  • Image of old spreading oak tree
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    Spiritual genealogies

    Recently, I discovered a little book of prayers during an internet search. I was so intrigued I had to buy one and I’ve been absorbed in it ever since it arrived in the post. Forms of prayer, for the use of Christian families dates from the late 18th century. It was written by Samuel Knight A.M., who came from Wintringham, Lincolnshire in the north of England. I read the 1814 edition online. But my copy is a facsimile of the original 1792 edition which features a curious 18th century practice. A lower case ‘f’ is substituted for each lower case ‘s’ that comes before the end of a word. So,…

  • Image of baby having massage
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    Mess, massage and metaphors

    I don’t often have a massage, but I had one for an hour a few days ago and, as usual, I remembered why I should have them more often. I always forget how quickly Harry finds everything that hurts. Harry is a middle-aged masseur who while short of stature, is big on strength. He pushes, prods and probes my muscles so particularly and persistently that I’m relieved when he finally stops. He also calls me ‘young lady’ which is as flattering as it is untrue. An hour-long massage is time enough not just to free my muscles from tension, but also to free my tired brain from the constraints and…

  • Black Bible cover with gold words 'The Holy'
    Longer & deeper

    Of capitals, books and gods

    Occasionally I get paid to be a pedant. That’s pedant—not pendant. It means I get paid to notice small errors and inconsistencies in language usage that others don’t notice or aren’t bothered by. It’s a useful habit for an editor, but an annoying one in just about every other way. Just ask my kids. If I were a pendant, however, I would simply hang about and no one would pay me to do that. Occasionally my inner pedant gets a little overwrought and I find myself shouting at the television or at something I’ve read, because somebody has used or spelled a word incorrectly. But really! Why don’t people know…