Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The week that was...

Animal madness..
Doing the goats feet was one of my jobs on Monday. You have to trim, clean and dose their hooves. The first thing you need to do is catch them. We have a doe and a wether, both are pretty big frisky animals, and goats have an ability to know just when to bolt. You think you are close enough and they make a dash for it, just beyond the reach of your arms. This time I was quite pleased, some goat nuts, some quiet animal whispering, a lasso and the corner of the paddock and I had the big wether tied up against the fence in no time. Turning to the doe we realised there was no issue there. She had stuck her head through the fence and got caught by her horns. She must have been there all night, by the markings on the ground. We left her there while we dealt to her feet then untangled her. Why did she put her head through the fence? The lush grass was on our side? Then we realised that there was a big old ram (sheep) on the other side. She must have been interested in him. It was obvious too that he had stayed with her all night! The ground on his side of the fence was well flattened and worn. We dubbed him "Cecil" and Cecil watched us tending to his "goat-girl-friend", and looked quite disappointed when she walked away stiffly after we freed her. What animals do for love!
Not as stupid as you think...
It was funny as I worked on the goats feet I found myself talking to them just like my Uncle used to do in the sheep yards when he checked sheep feet when I was a boy. (I used to catch the sheep and upend them for him) But just like him, I just chatted away to them softly, as I lifted each leg and dealt to it. They seemed to settle and know that I was helping them. It may sound mad, but I think it helps to chat to animals. They are not stupid.
I also fed the dog toward dinner time one day during the week. I was intrigued. He was barking wanting to be fed. I had begun to prepare my own meal, then with everything cooking I thought about him.... first things first you know! I opened the fridge door (something I had done several times) and got out his food. Immediately he stopped barking and knew his was on his way. How did he know? There were two closed doors and quite a distance between me and him, but I looked out and his tail was wagging, some how he just knew I was now looking after him. I quite like animals when I have the time to be with them.
It is funny the names you get called. My dad called me "Mick" all of the time. (I had big ears like Mickey Mouse) He only called me "David" when I was in big trouble. My big brother had skin rashes and was called "Flea bags" at school. I never had the rashes, but when I arrived at school, for a time I was called "Flea-bags 2"...that soon wore off. Of course with a name like "David Brown" I have been called "Tractor" where ever I have gone. At the Fire Station I have been dubbed, "Sky-pilot", "JC's helper", but most often I am known there as "Father Ted". I recall once a Fire Officer was introducing me to his daughter and completely forgot my real name, stammered a bit, apologised and said, "Damn it, this is Father Ted, our chaplain." In Christchurch after the quake I arrived at one building where search and rescue was happening. One of my firemen saw me and yelled, "Father Ted!"... everyone stared. There is a young lady linked to our church who often texts my wife. She never fails to say, "Say hi to 'Big Dave' for me." At my latest chaplaincy the other day I counted five people who greeted me as "Big guy". - "What's up big guy?" "Hi big guy". I suspect that might be becoming my nickname there. (Truly I am not that fat!")
Appreciate what you are good at...
Last Saturday night I went to a concert. For locals, the main entertainers were the OXO Cubans. It was a fun night. I really appreciated the talent of these musicians. Three of the guys could play several instruments and sing. They seemed to be able to swap around. I loved how they loved their music. ... I wish I could play music like that! I can't play any musical instrument, and while I can generally hold a tune, I easily go flat if someone sings parts beside me. I often wonder what my talent is? I'll let you know something I enjoyed, you may think it pathetic. Yesterday I got up and had a shower. The shower water limped out of the rose, and it was luke-warm going cold! We thought it was just gas bottles changing over until late in the afternoon my wife had a shower. She then recognised what I was grizzling about in the morning. Crescents, pliers, screw driver and the shower mixer was pulled to bits. "Now what can it be... yes the water comes in there... it is hot out of the bath tap.. so it must be between there and there... it must be this filter here... I'll clean that!" Put it all back together and we have a perfect shower. "Yes! Gee I'm good!" I LOVE that. Mechanical problem solving. "If that... then that... then if I do that... then this... yes! Fixed" I know that there are people too afraid to do such things, but I love doing that! And I am good at it. Appliances, cars, gadgets, hand tools and all manner of things have had new leases of life because of my problem solving skills. Not really as flash as the musicians, but that's one skill I enjoy having!
A different Church...
We have people come to our Church at Space2B. The Church open and hospitable to people at lunch times and on Wednesdays particularly open for new immigrants. I have come into our church building lately and there have been groups of people having coffee and talking. I was intrigued that some guys are bringing along home baked cookies to share with others. One brought apples he had picked from a friends tree to share with others. Another guy threw two boxes of tea bags at us. They are starting to "own" Space2B. I went in on Friday and quite a group was watching the memorial service from Christchurch on the big TV screen. Later I went past the Kitchen and a group were cooking pikelets for the drop-in centre later that night. It is a good feel. It is freely used by the Multi-ethnic council and Sustainability groups who see it as a bit of a base. Last night we had a race-relations day celebration in conjunction with the Multi-ethnic council which was a huge success with a great atmosphere. A different sort of open-to-the-community church base is happening and I like it. It is an evolving fulfillment of a dream I have.

- Sandwich Board inviting people into Space2B (A new one is being prepared)
- The relaxed area at the back of the Church where people seem to love to gather.
- A quiet time in our Friday night Drop-in Centre in the "Upper Room".

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