Thursday, April 19, 2012

The horror and hauntings of everyday life

Being woken again by the howl and barking of neighbourhood dogs really pipped me. I struggle with sleep a lot and being woken from it, when I have finally managed to find it, is not my ideal world. Lying silently in bed I find myself hearing more than just the mad yelps of the neighbourly mutt, there is another strange sound somewhere out there in the still night.

Its hard to explain what it sounded like. I lay there searching my memory bank for the sounds, clawing my way through my mind to as what it might be. Uh huh - I've got it. It reminds me of one time when I went clay bird shooting. Pop - the disc is whipped into the air, Kshhhh - the disc being shattered. But it sounds so close? Then again in the night air everything sounds as though there are no walls. But in the mid of night how could anyone see to be clay bird shooting?

Ok back to my brain for something more logical. Mine blasting? The sound could carry at night but I know the usually do this midday when there are road closures in place. About now I realise that the body lying beside me is awake. Corey jumps up to look out the window thinking the next door neighbour is being broken into. "Oh crap!" and he runs down the hall to the spare bedroom for a better look. What the!! So I jump up at yank up the blinds for a look. Oh I see....

Following along to the spare room we both stare out the windows in jaw gaping shock. The house behind us is being engulfed in flames. The noise we hear is the shattering of windows against the intense licking of flames. Bright orange flames are dancing through the night sky. Its raging against the still of the night.
I must get my camera.
Adrenaline takes over and I find myself draw to the flames like a moth to a light.

I can now see the fire crew with a hose struggling against the evil that has penetrated this defenseless house. A single jet of water spraying at the roof. A second fire truck arrives and with it TWO fire crew climb out.
Two. Men. That's. It.
Its clear that the house is a goner, being violently eaten away at by raging flames. But there is another point being so shockingly absorbed by my brain. Are our local fire crews so badly in need of help that a fire truck can be sent out with two men?

Its clear that the home is in no way salvageable but there is still a job to be done. Fire crew must work to dampen the flames and make the mangled home as safe as they possibly can. We hear the crew ask the men who are already there if everyone got out and too our relief a yes is returned. Corey and I stand shell shocked looking at this house which a few hours ago was a home.

Are we prepared for something like this to happen? We have one stairway which leads from the upstairs where the bedrooms are located in our house. We begin to talk. My worry is what if by the time we awoke the stairs were engulfed in flames? Our obvious escape is to the try to get out the windows of the two story home. I shudder at the thought of trying to safely extract my three children and ourselves from a burning house.

Also our precious memories would be lost. Things can be replaced this is true but what about the hours that have been lovingly poured into scrapbooks and photo albums. Camera's and computers that hold moments and memories never to be relived. How do you pick up those pieces?

It is too late to think of plans and alternatives once the nightmare has already occurred. I think too often we live in the state of 'it happens to other people' ness. But here right before our eyes it is happening. A home that contains peoples lives and treasured possessions is being horrifically eaten away by flames. How do you rebuild from these moments? My heart is in pieces for the people who call this fireball a home. We know nothing about them but that does mean our compassion for them is any less.

An image that will forever be burnt in my memory, a sound stored in the banks of my mind.

Corey ran into the landlady of our house the following evening and found out that the house was occupied by a mother and her four children. They had been due to move out the following day. Bad timing at its worst! If there is anything to be thankful for in this situation it is that the children were staying the night with there father and therefore were not in the house when it caught ablaze. Our Landlady's husband is the Chief of fire crew here and he was able to field a crew of four - including himself. The local rural crew was able to manage two. How can this be enough?

Corey comes from a line of volunteer firemen and this speaks volumes to him. The saving of a rural community is the ability of its people to band together.

Where are the local firemen?

What can be done if enough men and women can't be found to stand in the gap for such a cause anymore?

This speaks to me of representation. Every man and woman in town isn't required to be on the crew but their has to be a reasonable number seen to stand for our little rural community. And this isn't happening.

So what can we do? Well it can start with us seeing a problem and taking what action we can. Corey is going to see how he is able to help - even around his busy work, family and church life. But isn't that what it is about? Everyone doing what they can to help. For me this mean being a wife who supports my husband in a role of wanting to look out for others and help where he can.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Tutorial - My Favourite Part of Easter Time

Has got to be the deliciousness of hot cross buns. I love the smell of warmed bun with butter melting on them. Okay not so good for the waistline but simply mouth watering. My mission this year was to be all domesticated and bake my own. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I also dropped some with some friends of our (yes we have made friends!!) to make sure other people thought they were edible too. The result was that they were yum and the recipe was a must so I thought I would put the recipe up here.

(Sourced - The New Zealand Bread Book - Bread by hand or machine)

To Make 16-20 buns:
1/2 cup each of warm milk and water
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tsp active dried yeast
4 cups (560g) high-grade flour
75g butter, barely melted
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp each mixed spice and cinnamon
1 tsp each ground cloves and vanilla essence
1 cup of mixed fruit, sultanas or currants

nb. I used plain flour as I haven't seen high-grade here in Australia. I also used All spice in place of mixed spice and omitted the ground clove as I didn't have any. I used one cup of currants for my fruit.

Bread Machine Instructions
Carefully measure all ingredients into a 750g capacity, or larger, bread machine in the order specified by the manufacturer. Set to DOUGH cycle and START. (Add the mixed fruit at the beep if your machine offers this option.) When the cycle is complete, shape and bake as below.

Hand-made Bread Instructions
Measure warm milk, water and 1 Tablespoon of the brown sugar into a large bowl, warm or cool the mixture to body temperature, the sprinkle over the yeast. Stir after 2 minutes to ensure yeast has dissolved before adding 2 cups of the flour. Cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.

In another bowl mix together the melted butter, the remaining brown sugar and then beat in the egg, salt, spices, vanilla essence and dried fruit. Add the risen yeast mixture and the remaining flour and mix to make a dough just firm enough to knead, adding a little extra flour if needed. Knead with a dough hook of an electric mixer or by hand on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes.

Shaping and baking 
Divide the dough into four pieces, then again into four or five so you have 16 or 20 pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball and arrange in sprayed or teflon-lined baking pans or a rectangular roasting dish, leaving about 1cm between each bun. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. (I did 30 minutes.)

For Crosses
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons water
1 tsp of sugar
Mix to paste and pipe on top of buns before setting aside to rise.

Bake at 225oC for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Glaze immediately with a syrup made by bringing to the boil 1 tablespoon each of golden syrup, honey and water.

And Tada! Wonderful hot cross buns - best eaten fresh otherwise toast if left to next day.