Last week I discovered something unbelievably sucky: I went to post a new blog, and I discovered that my blog had disappeared. I checked my host account and not only were all the files gone, but the database had been emptied as well. I immediately contacted my hosting company, but unfortunately this problem had occurred more than a month prior, so they had no backup to offer me (that’ll teach me to visit my own site more often!). I was devastated. Six years of posts, gone. I tried various internet archives, but no luck.
I was so depressed I considered just forgetting the whole site. I have another blog I use for my writing career, maybe I should just use that one. But no, it wasn’t enough! I might not post to this site very often anymore, but when I do it’s usually for cathartic purposes; I use this site to rant, complain, express joy, share news about my personal life… I didn’t want to lose it! But the idea of starting over from scratch just depressed me. So I left it.
Just this morning, I logged into a tool called Networked Blogs, which I use for disseminating posts from my various websites via Facebook and Twitter, to remove this site from my dashboard. I almost did a double-take when I realised that I could see some of my old posts. But I feared that these cached posts would be in the same situation as the archives: only the first few lines of each post and nothing more. But no, when I clicked, there were the last two years of posts in their entirety, images and all! Never has anyone copied and pasted so fast! Within minutes I’d copied all the text and saved it to my hard drive with cloud backup.
So today I’ve resurrected the last two years of posts. I do still have an old backup with the older ones, but the ones that matter to me today are here and that’s enough for me. And all those who were devastated to lose my zucchini slice and rogan josh recipes, those little gems are here too. Thank you, Networked Blogs. You saved my site.
Today is my last day at Opera Software, and also the last day of a fourteen year IT career. I am leaving the safe haven of employeehood and am off to become a full time author, editor, publisher and book producer, a career in which I’ve been dabbling on the sidelines for a couple of years and have been dreaming about since the day I first picked up a book. I am finally ready to tackle it head-on. (And don’t worry, I won’t use the word employeehood again.)
When I started at Opera back in 2008, I was thrown into the Nintendo team head first, right before the release of the DSi. I found myself in the intimidating, yet privileged, position of working with some of the best minds at Opera, not to mention some of the strange and wonderful wizards at Nintendo. Working with those teams was the high point of my IT career, and I will forever be thankful to Opera for the opportunity to take part in those projects. Alf Bjørn and Tsukasa deserve special recognition for their support while I learned the ropes.
I’ve also probably been the busiest employee rep in Opera history, helping staff through “right-sizing”, the office move, and the recent rounds of goodbyes that sent us all reeling. I have been humbled at the strength and integrity shown by those in very intense and strained situations, and it has only shown me further the quality of the people I’ve been surrounded by these past four years.
It’s only natural to start thinking more about manners and their importance when you’re responsible for shaping and guiding a young life. Now that my daughter is old enough to express herself verbally, as well as through body language and facial expressions, I find I’m becoming ever more aware of the differences between the way I was brought up, and the way my friends, peers and I are bringing up our children.
Some of what I’m noticing is a cultural difference, given that I was brought up in Australia and I am raising my daughter in Norway, but much of it is the inevitable generation gap; probably every generation feels that the next one is cruder, less considerate, with worse manners. But I can’t help wondering, in this age of obsessing about whether our children are well-adjusted, confident and happy above all else, are we actually ensuring they will be less polite?
I was brought up in an age of social change; it was the 70s and parents were, perhaps for the first time, beginning to be mindful of how their parenting impacted on the feelings of the child, rather than only how their child impacted on the lives of those around them. I probably felt some of this more acutely, given that my father is a psychologist and was then a guidance counselor in the education sector. He was also a very hands-on father, which was a fairly new attitude at the time. However, I was still taught to be considerate of others, to say “excuse me” when I was inconveniencing someone, whether it was my fault or not, and to say “please”, “thank you” and to call adults by their last name (Mrs Smith, Mr Jones, etc.).
I am increasingly concerned about the sorts of things some of my Facebook friends are sharing and circulating – not because I disagree with them (though I often do), but because they seem so willing to perpetuate blatantly untrue statements, quotes and news pieces just because they grab onto the emotive nature of the item, which, frankly, is the intention of the originator.
I’m sad to say, that it is most often my Australian friends who are guilty of this practice. It could be a result of living in a culture that feeds on and actively encourages sensationalist journalism – my recent trip home to Australia reminded me of how true this is – but it’s concerning to see people I care about and respect irresponsibly spreading lies and perpetuating the wider world view that Australia is a country full of racists.
Meat pie with chips and veggies
The meat pie is an Australian staple. But most Australians buy them ready-made from corner shops, supermarkets, delis and snack bars. I had never made a meat pie until I moved to Norway. I tried several recipes, but this was the closest to the real thing.
For the base, I use a quiche or other unsweetened pie crust dough. Or you can use your favourite shortcrust pastry recipe, as long as it’s not sweet.
For the top, I use store-bought puff pastry, which in Norway means crossing the border and getting it from Sweden. You can buy puff pastry in Norway (called butterdeig or smørdeig), but it comes in frozen blocks that have to be thawed and rolled out, which is painful, but doable.
For this recipe, I like to use three or four small, non-stick pie dishes, but it could also make one large pie (about 20cm in diameter).
This year, for the first time, I’ve been invited to a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner at my friend Audrey’s house. She and her husband are spending their first holiday season in Norway, and wanted to share a little piece of their home traditions with us, and we are really looking forward to it.
But it got me thinking generally about how much I have to be grateful for this year, perhaps more than ever before in my life. It’s easy to get caught feeling blue as the days get ever shorter and darker, with sunrise after nine a.m. and the daylight only lasting until a little after three in the afternoon. The first thing I think of when I see the last shreds of half-light disappear a couple of hours after lunch time: this year I am lucky enough to be escaping the dark. This year I’m spending my first Christmas at home with my family in seven years. Seven cold, dark Christmases in a row, and now I get to take my little girl home for a hot, sunny Christmas just like the ones I used to know… ♪ ♫ ♬
Which brings me to my daughter. How could I not be grateful for her? All parents are grateful for their children. But I feel she deserves special thanks for being almost freakishly well-behaved and easy-going. Who else has a two-year-old who asks if she can open a drawer to get a toy out, and then puts it back when she’s done playing with it? Who else has a two-year-old who says please and thank you mid-tantrum? I may be eating my words if and when the so-called terrible twos finally hit, but so far life with my toddler is impossibly sweet.
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged here. Why? Because I’ve been writing everywhere else lately. Over the past year I have completed my first novel, come more than halfway through my second, written 9 short stories and started a writing blog. So you can understand how my little personal blog might get lost in the shuffle.
But that is not all. Though I recently signed with a literary agent, I had also been thinking for a while about taking further steps into the literary career track outside of merely writing. After discussing this with the person, now a good friend, who edited my first book, I discovered he had been in the process of setting up his own indie publishing house for literary fiction for some time. The woman who introduced us was already on board to run her own fantasy/sci-fi imprint under this house, and he would also run a further imprint for crime fiction. At the time I was considering self-publishing my own novel, if I didn’t have any success with agents. The trouble was, my book didn’t really fit into a specific genre that we could use an imprint for; it is a Young Adult novel, but I wasn’t interested in running a purely YA imprint. Partly because, to me, YA is a marketing demographic more than a genre, but also because I had a new idea. I wanted my imprint to cross marketing demographics and genre, and focus on that almost indefinable thing so many books I love have: darkness. Enter Tenebris Books.
Baby and me
How many times have I heard people say that the modern woman can “have it all”? So many that I’ve lost count. I’m here to say that you can’t. Anyone who says you can is either kidding herself or has a very different definition of “all” than I do.
You know what I’m talking about. It’s one of the most common dilemmas for women today; career or children.
Feminism and the women’s liberation movement have given us so many options that I sometimes feel like it would be easier to go back to being oppressed. At least when women had so few rights, they didn’t put unrealistic expectations on themselves. In many cases they simply accepted that their lot in life was to raise children and look after their husband and household. Sounds gleefully uncomplicated, doesn’t it? (Notice I didn’t say easy.)
I am playing Devil’s advocate here; I don’t actually want to be a 50s housewife. But I never expected to feel so conflicted about motherhood.
My pregnancy was unplanned and came as quite a shock, even though in the back of my mind I had always believed I would eventually find the right time to have children. And in retrospect, it was probably for the best that it happened of its own accord, because as many parents will tell you, there really is no “right time” to have children.
So despite not being sure I was totally ready, I took a deep breath and stared square in the face of impending motherhood. For the most part I was excited and looked forward to life with our new little family member, but there was a little niggle in the back of my mind that I really wished wasn’t there; the one that told me I was “giving up” and turning my back on my career, which I have worked hard to develop.
I started my new job on Monday last week, and by Friday I had somehow managed to volunteer to supply some sort of home-baked snack for my team at Monday’s team meeting. I thought about making my Victoria Sponge, but didn’t like the idea of trying to cover it with whipped cream on Monday morning with a toddler clinging to my leg. Not to mention trying to get it to work in one piece, given that it would have to ride under the pram. So instead I decided to make apricot muffins. I found a couple of recipes online and combined them to come up with what turned out to be a very tasty result. I did some in paper muffin cups and some with a silicone muffin tray. If you’re using a muffin tray, make sure the muffins are cooled before you attempt to pop them out. It’s a good idea to run a butter knife or rubber spatula around the edge to loosen them.
Rogan Josh with papadums
Here’s my recipe for the classic Indian lamb curry known as Rogan Josh. You can make it as spicy or mild as you like by adjusting the amount of chili powder you add. It’s really simple to make, and the preparation doesn’t take long. The cooking time is an hour and a half or more though, so make sure you get started early!