Showing posts from 2009

another kid from Stoke

It was the 1970s. A concrete building in Stoke, where we traipsed in, children of a long tradition of religious adherence. Our parents, or mothers if only one, had listened through the Latin Mass, attended Catholic schools, married nice boys (or girls) and carried on the faith.

Of course it would be tempting to think that this concrete building, perhaps a contender for the least aesthetically beautiful church in town (particularly when you consider that beauty is allowed in Roman Catholicism), represented a challenge to those used to something more gorgeous. Yet in New Zealand, many many people worshipped in shanties and small wooden buildings unless they were in the centre of the larger cities, and I struggle to imagine the nineteenth century churches of rural and working class Ireland as places of physical grandeur.

The old timers talk of the beauty of the Latin Mass. Nobody talks about the buildings that I have noticed. The tradition was of belief through word and ritual, of faith an…

computer now willing to talk to camera...

Looking down on Woodstock, Westland 2009.
Hoki Bridge & River.

On the beach, Hokitika.

On the beach with Batman, in my new skirt.

Seeing red. Sunflowers climbing up slowly. Large gaps in the punga raised bed ready for some more planting.

blog without pictures

again. This time it is my computer, an aged and temperamental piece of plastic which we nurture and endure because there are no funds for a replacement and so many other things on the funds list ahead of it that it isn't really on the list. Last week it accepted my camera no problem. Yesterday and today, no way.

So that's a bugger because I wanted to show pictures of our new red hot fence which Favourite Handyman painted on Christmas Day afternoon while I had a sleep. [yes. I agree. Very very very wonderful. I am keeping him on. Forever.]

And a bugger because I wanted to show a picture of my new skirt which I finished yesterday. I've worked out how to have my sewing machine set up so I can flip between computer and sewing machine with ease and that has speeded up sewing progress quite a bit. What has really whoompahed it up though is FH looking after the children while I sew in daylight hours. I'm half way through turning an op-shop skirt made of floral cotton…

Red hot summer

Never mind the lurgy, or Fionn's asthma, or not going camping for Christmas after all due to points a and b.

Today I bought a pail of 'Resene Red Hot' paint which is going to light up the fence in our side garden like a fireworks sparkle. I have coveted a truly, deeply, intensely red fence or wall for some time and now I have a husband ready to make it happen.


Time to go to bed and kick the last vestiges of lurgy. I have a husband who is going to make me eggs and hollandaise for breakfast and the lounge is full of presents for the children and Favourite Handyman also made us a wonderful headboard out of rimu and macrocarpa (entirely recycled from gifted wood as friends have left town) AND I'm getting a red fence. Must be Christmas or something equally wonderful.

Hope you all find something to love in tomorrow.

gardening in a bog

It's rained for a huge part of December. The humidity and sudden changes in temperature have wrought their toll on my boy and we are on the second night of asthma watch. Tenting on Tuesday is looking distinctly less likely. The vegetables seem to cope with the rain much better than the fruit. Below is my celery gone to seed and now so heavy it has toppled over. The cabbages nearby are testament to one big learning this season - it doesn't matter how cabbages we grow, we still don't actually eat much cabbage. I've thought of making sauerkraut but haven't done anything with that thought. You can see the marigolds just in bud if you look closely at the foreground.

I think this second photo might be evidence of the cottage garden potager look I fancied from the organic magazines when I first started creating my garden three years ago. The strawberries have survived from last year so strongly I haven't the heart to pull them out. I found two lovely lush rip…

Paying for child and house care

I remember vividly many revelations as I got 'into' feminism in my student days. I remember learning about how the closer teaching got to mothering, the less it was paid. At that time, secondary school teachers got paid more than primary school teachers and the pay in under five centres was pitiful. I knew women who really wanted to work in the preschool sector but trained for teaching older children because the pay wasn't really liveable. Not to support a family anyway.

I've read journalism probing some of the issues around educated middle class women employing someone else to clean their toilet. I cleaned myself as a student for a good employer and appreciated the work.

I babysat for various families from 14 onwards and in my twenties pulled out of working for one family who wanted extensive day care for two very small children in their home for two thirds of the then minimum wage.

I don't have to pay for my friend C to clean. I don't have to pay for her …

green & growing

The punga raised bed today. I kept the photo side on because I like the slightly surreal effect. Lovely healthy kale here whereas seedlings planted at the same time elsewhere are quite scrawny still.
My jerusalem artichokes heading skywards.
I would love to know the name of this flower, if anyone can help.

Nasturtiums scrambling over the fence. I would like things scrambling over fences rioting with colour everywhere. Apart from convulvulus that is.

Coming together

I've finished work for the year. Favourite Handyman has finished work for the year. We've done the adults' work Christmas party, the Christmas in the Park council party, the kids' Christmas party put on by my work, the end of year school concert, multiple extra end of year functions to do with work, an early Christmas lunch with my parents and now tonight we have done Fionn's birthday party.

Phew. The party was great - I loved seeing all the kids have so much fun and the local holiday park with its jumping pillow and go carts and huge barbecue was the perfect venue. I was a bit stressed getting ready for it but that's blasted mothering genes for you - FH was much more relaxed.

Tomorrow is Fionn's last day of school. Things are about to slow down dramatically and I am very ready for that.

I do know there is something on on the 25th and for the sake of my children and my unwell grandparents, I will get in the spirit on the day. I have yet to write a story …

Tour and Charter's last bus

Two days ago the last Tour & Charter buses ran. This is a local company ruined by the Ministry of Education running national tenders for school bus services and giving the contract to global giant and anti union company, Ritchies (Stagecoach in the UK, not sure of their local names elsewhere). First Wyldes in Runanga closed. The drivers there had great relationships with the young people. They were local men and women and knew the families of the kids. School bus runs are the bread and butter of bus companies here and they can't survive without them.

Why did Tour & Charter get to keep the Cobden run for 2009? They kept it because Ritchies didn't want it. Lots of Cobden high school kids aren't quite far enough away to qualify for free transport and thus have to pay. Cobden is one of the poorest areas in the Grey District and parents aren't running their children to school in late model Four Wheel Drives there. Yet in a climate where it buckets down wit…

But first, some wine

Did I mention I am being well behaved this Christmas? I haven't sworn nearly as much as usual and while I'd prefer the whole thing was less intense and that I wasn't organising a seventh birthday party at the same time and negotiating work dos and people leaving town forever and an early Christmas lunch with my parents who we won't be with at Christmas itself, this year so far I have not rolled into a ball on my bed and wished fiercely, truly, intensely that I could cancel Christmas. Neither have I cried. Though it is only December 9 which is hardly the home straight just yet.

Today I collected some calendars (three, for each lot of grandparents and for my brother in Perth) and some greeting cards, all personalised with a photo of my children on their bikes, looking like lovely kiwi kids in summer time. No doubt if I was patient I could make them myself and not pay lots at the kodak shop but I am not patient and some of those three groups never ever get anything fro…

Scenes from our street

Of course it is overcast - it will probably rain quite soon. But it is also lush and has both an openness and a moodiness which I love. That's the Tasman Sea at the end of our street.


I kept two children alive. The neighbours have lovely pungas which I look at over breakfast. Some of them are mamaku which have black trunks and are particularly gorgeous.
Playground. Library. Bookshop where I found invitations for the forthcoming birthday party which I began organising today. I mislaid Brighid but knew she wasn't far away as I could smell nappy pong and I was quite confident it was not emanating from the well dressed adult who was in my view.

I did a lot of laundry. Washed it, dried it, brought it off the line. No folding and putting away so far.

We looked for another Alfie book here.

We looked for another Alfie book here. We like Shirley Hughes and Alfie. Brighid tells me she loves Mum, Dad, Fionn and Annie Rose.

I made pesto from assorted flavoursome greens in the garden. Had it on chicken for dinner.

Made hummous.

Drained and added more milk to my kefir. Wondered if this would be the week where I finally send Gilly some kefir. Put red kidney beans …

More and more garden pics

Coriander going to seed. Still useful for its seed and very pretty along the way. I am increasingly putting coriander in the shade to reduce the bolting likelihood as the leaves are what I want at the moment.
' Roses love garlic' according to companion planting lore. This rose needs something to climb.

The temporary chook run is also covering the blackcurrants in a bid to protect from birds. Sparrows will still be able to get in, I suspect, but not blackbirds.

Garlic, either a zucchini or a pumpkin, borage and florence fennel.

These flowers were given to me as bulbs last year after I admired them in a friend's garden. Neither of us know what they are called though.

More garden pics

The Poultry Palace Mark II.
Maori potatoes in the foreground with huge almost flowering celery just behind.

My prize cabbage.

The punga raised bed. Everyone needs one. Close to the kitchen, sheltered from wind and frost. Sorrel in the centre front, with marigolds, lettuce, kale, rocket, beetroot and peas around it. Sunflowers and canna lilies creeping up the fence behind it.

I have a new camera and I can work it!

Hence garden photo time... This is my oldest garden plot (three years) and I've added a l;ot of mushroom compost in lieu of fallowing it to green manure this year. The spinach and lettuces are enjoying their diet. The red in the front is actually orange marigold. This is my boy Fionn's garden. I'm loving the anzac poppies and also the contrast with the white chrysanthemums.
One of my artichokes. Native NZ flax in the background.


I've mislaid my wool needle. Not that I've looked as hard as I could for it. I also can't get the ironing board out to press the baby coat pieces as I have a headache. I often have a headache at the thought of getting the iron out and so far I've had one every night this week.

In the meantime, I've made a doll's outfit from bright orange and fluffy blue wool for Brighid's Christmas present. Knitting dolls' clothes is proving a good way of trying out and practising shaping and pattern techniques. I made the skirt and top with minimal sewing up but that minimal bit has of course not been done.

Then I went into the wool shop in town and wondered if I could find a small project to make something for my beloved childminder for Christmas. Do you see how well behaved I am trying to be about Christmas? I came away with some sorrento yarn and 7mm needles to make a lacy type scarf. A few rows in, on my second attempt, I thought maybe I would make it for Mu…

Meaningful ritual or oppressive hierarchy?

Last week I was pondering the role of ritual in giving us a sense of living meaningful lives and having worth alone and in our communities. I attended the march out parade of young men and women who have completed the year long Mawhera Services Academy programme and I was really proud to have known them all, to see them utterly, shakingly nervous minutes before the beginning and then they all performed perfectly. The graduation began with a powhiri and then ran according to military tradition, with many shouted commands in a rehearsed drill, brass band music, military dignities and speeches. I saw these boys and girls at the beginning of the year and I know their histories of struggle. Almost none of them fitted well into a traditional school environment. To see our community witness and celebrate their achievements last Thursday was also to see these young adults know they have worth and futures. I loved it.

It also got me thinking about rituals. I have little patience for peop…

Soothing my grumpy soul with gardening...

After the thunder storm, the rain abated, just as Favourite Handyman was putting the children to bed. Oh beautiful window of opportunity...

I pulled out some of the huge seeding parsley and potted up tiny parsley seedlings from underneath the umbrella. When you pull out a large parsley plant, you can smell the relationship to carrot - there is a distinctive sweet, earthy smell very similar to carrots.

I planted dahlias (hopefully not too late). All of them are divided tubers from a huge one I dug out in winter. It had not been divided for many years.

I transplanted one tomato into a bigger pot and two chillis into medium pots. The tomatoes have flower buds now.

I pulled out more errant yams and fed some sorrel to the chooks.

I enjoyed my evening session in the garden more than words can express.

Inside, I have finished the knitting for the baby coat and now only have to sew it up (yes there is a little procrastination on the sewing up front). I am nearly finished knitting a doll's skirt…

Once upon a time

I had aspirations as a non-punitive mother. I longed to have a baby and once those periods finally stopped coming and I started vomiting, I spent many a long hour choosing pregnancy and parenting books in earnest London bookshops. It is not hugely surprising that this baby planning thing took place largely in my head, as the physical manifestations had me bent over a loo or a doubled plastic supermarket bag much of every morning and on lucky days in the afternoon as well. Head stuff was comparatively attractive.

Oh how I hated Gina Ford and her baby routines. I also despised the medicalised model of childbirth and enrolled myself in various classes at Janet Balaskas' Active Birth Centre in North London. That involved a fair few trains as we didn't live anywhere remotely as fashionable and potentially unmedicalised as north London. Most incredibly for me now, I even read books and articles about people who raise/d their children without saying 'no'.

Which turns out …

knitting, hand mirror

I am appreciating knitting more and more. Right now as I try and fit in a few rows as many times in the day as I can, hoping to make a lovely parcel up for Lyra as soon as possible, I'm noticing the power of knitting for reflective time.

In some ways knitting takes absolutely ages. In an age where I can pick up a ready made jersey or fleece from the charity shops the Warehouse or many other shops for a few dollars and five minutes of my time, the time involved in making a jersey is e-nor-mous. The number of hours involved in Lyra's wee jacket are the gift I want to give to my friend who is so far away, but they also seem faintly ridiculous at times. I am delighted that when I was cold and in need of practical gardening warmth not long ago, I walked into the Sallies and found what I wanted easily and for just a few bucks. I'm wearing one of the two fleecy finds right now.

In other ways knitting is undemanding and gives a sense of achievement when there are other things I…

Sunday food

On Saturday I only went into the kitchen for glasses of water. Favourite Handyman made eggs for breakfast, fed us sandwiches for lunch and bought fish and chips for dinner.

On Sunday Favourite Handyman made eggs for breakfast and did the dishes afterwards. My rest was now sufficient to contemplate a little cooking. I made pasta with bacon and tumeric and garden greens for lunch and kumara curry (also with bacon and spinach from the garden) for dinner. I made pesto using almost all of our coriander and basil. Coriander pesto is good for detoxing metals, or mercury at least, out of the body. It also tastes great. I didn't have enough of either herb to make a singular pesto.

I made the first part of a sourdough loaf and have it in the fridge for finishing tomorrow. I experimented with a slow rise focaccia and that has come out well. I made hummous because hummous is vital for a week not spent eating cheese.

I have discovered macadamia nuts. As part of my nutritional fight aga…

Sparkly skirts and local literature

I've been busy lately, and feel like I'm fitting in little bits of lots of things and only getting a small number right through to completion so far. I am getting some very long projects at work through to successful completion and I'm satisfied (and a bit exhausted) with that.

Last weekend Fionn went to a sixth birthday party and so I made a pink sequinned sparkly skirt for the effervescent Kate. Brighid wanted one too so I did an unlined one for her. They are both a bit wonky, but nevertheless look great - it's not about the sewing but about the swirly sparkly pinkness.

My treasured friend Marion in London has had a baby girl called Lyra. I still haven't finished the jacket for her but I am knitting as much as possible and loving the way facebook means I can see pictures of this newborn wonder from across the globe, only hours after she was born. I am up to the yoke on the jacket now, and then only have the hood to go. I came across a technique I didn't …

Immoral EPMU

Local mine workers, members of the EPMU, are out on strike in sympathy for their North Island comrades. Though maybe 'comrades' stopped being the appropriate word a long time ago. You or I may or may not sympathise with the actual union demands, but there is something much worse going on and it isn't making the media.

Recently I learnt, directly from an EPMU member, that members working for subcontractors to Solid Energy are on strike and thus losing pay, but as sub contractors, HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE ON THE STRIKE ACTION. In a nutshell, they are paying union fees to EPMU and getting no democratic voice. Totally immoral.


Unions like the EPMU may not like the modern world of subcontracting, but right now they are being the bully guys every bit as much as the capitalist bosses in my view.

Seems like in the past unions have often been slow to embrace female workers, workers of colour, gay and lesbian workers and now the new pariah is the…

Gaylene Preston working class hero

I am currently reading Her Life's Work: Conversations with five New Zealand Women by Deborah Shepherd. It is a totally wonderful book and I am loving every page of it. Thank you Grey District Library. This morning I read the section on Gaylene Preston, a woman who before I only knew a little bit about. I loved her film on Hone Tuwhare and her War Stories. I have lots more of her to see yet.

Anyway Gaylene comes from Greymouth. She is born in the same year as my mother and took a different path. She is in many ways like other women who strode out in that era whose lives inspired me as a young feminist. What I took as inspiration when I chose very willingly to stay home almost all the time with my kids is another matter. Back to Gaylene.

Hard to choose which bits to quote. You really should read the book. All of it. All of you. Here's one bit:

By 1947, when I'm born, this little country was beginning to fast track a
middle class, an educated middle class, and the s…

Livingstone daisies

I love them. Just bought and planted another punnet's worth. Those psychedelic pink ones are particularly appealing. The very cool picture is, of course, not mine, but one I found on a google search. I am making progress on my camera layby though.

Also planted out what I think are marigolds from the Italian stall in the Wood (Nelson). I mounded my maori potatoes and weeded out lots of unwanted yams. Also planted out more lettuce from the garden shop plus repotted some of my own lettuces which I grew from seed. They are not quite ready for the big wide world of the open garden where the blackbirds and slugs love to feast, so they can get a little bigger in bigger pots first. I repotted six sungold tomatoes and planted out another cucurbit. Is that the correct generic name? I sowed zucchini, squash and pumpkin seeds in the same tray and now they are indistinguishable. I would like to be able to know the zucchinis from the pumpkins and next year I will do a little more careful label…

Beneficial neighbours

Councils live to regulate, or so it seems. But we've got something much better going with our neighbours. When we needed to rebuild our chook run, our neighbours offered that we could build it against our shared fence. This has resulted in a much tidier poultry palace and saved us money in terms of the far wall of the construction. Today our neighbours shared with us their laughter at one getting out and sitting atop the fence when we were on holiday (I seem to have identified and fixed that gap since) and also said that since the chooks have been against the fence, they no longer have any problems with slugs eating their delphiniums. They have been feeding the chooks sometimes through the fence and love the company of the clucking chooks when they are working in their (very beautiful) garden.

Communication and sharing between neighbours - much better than endless council regulations.

In other garden news, I've pulled the last of the seeding silverbeet out and gifted it t…

hippie? hippie.

I've just convinced Favourite Handyman to do some dishes and sat myself down with a cracker topped with kefir and a cup of nettle tea. There is grey showing through my hair as I've given up dyeing it - carcinogens and feminism. I'm wearing home made pyjama bottoms made from thrifted fabric, a t-shirt from the Farmers closing down sale almost four years ago and a sleeveless fleece which I found at the Sallies earlier this month. On the floor beside me is my peggy square knitting, made of undyed brown wool and then bobbly green/red/yellow variegated wool from a cardigan which my daughter outgrew and I then unravelled to reuse. Further to the corner of the study await my next books: Three Ages of Women and The NZ Woolcraft Book.

This morning I planted out my Giant Russian sunflowers and repotted lots (but not all) of my tomatoes plus my biggest basil. Most of the tomatoes are staying inside for a fortnight more, but I put a couple out under the lean to. I had planned som…

family reunion

We headed off to Blenheim on Friday afternoon. Fish and chips and slides and swings at Murchison then we drove through the Wairau Valley as dusk fell. There were rain clouds ahead and then on top of us and the valley was beautiful in this half light framed by mountains. Usually we drive through in bleaching sunlight and the miles and miles of monoculture grapes, tanalised posts leaching toxins into the water table, sprays and other resource hungry inpouts all to put a product on the tables of the rich all get me furious.

By 9pm we were in Blenheim and I didn't much care where stayed so long as I could find my bed soon. We found a reasonably priced motel and the children slumbered. Up with the birds at 5.45am, they didn't find similarly excited parents.

After breakfast we had some spare time before visiting hours at the hospital. Fionn and I wandered through the car boot sale and I loved being in a more multicultural setting than our home town currently offers. The music f…


I've had a superb weekend, best for a long time. Why? Because my brother came to visit us, all the way from Perth, Western Australia. The children and their uncle quickly formed a mutual adoration bond and there will be talk of Uncle Pete for a long time to come.

Quake in your slime slugs - Uncle Pete left heaps of DB export in the fridge and some of it is going to entice you to drown in it. Maybe the slugs will die drunk and happy but the main thing is that they die. We got the last of the whitebait from 2008 out of the freezer for Pete and it was lovely to have such a delicious food (500g whitebait mixed with one egg and quickly fried and then served with lemon and pepper - none of this padding it out with flour nonsense) served with our own eggs and home made bread.

Today I made something called country apple cake which the children asked for more of. Such a request baking-wise always counts as the pinnacle of success round here. Tonight I baked more sourdough bread. Andr…

good and bad

1. Us knitters of Wetville are busily knitting peggy squares to turn into a blanket to send to Samoa for tsunami hit people who no longer have blankets. My lovely friend Nina has also organised a whip round of clothing and toiletries and linen and bedding and a local courier has gifted the delivery cost to get it to Lower Hutt to go on a container at the end of the month. I even knitted on the sideline of the boy's swimming lesson today.

1. Nasty council. We have a wonderful swimming school here in Wetville where the leader tries to make lessons as affordable as possible and sets it up as pay as you go and you don't pay if you are away sick (or any other kind of away). But now the council are muscling in and today I discoverd I have to find a term's worth of fees all at once and suddenly attendance has dropped because lots of people can't find that kind of money all at once and next year the council are taking the whole thing over and want more revenue from…

garden & home made notes

Beautiful day today. I have grown a globe artichoke! An actual artichoke. Oh the excitement. Now I have to re-read my recipe books and find out what to do with it.

My jerusalem artichoke plants are growing nicely.

Three of my rose cuttings are growing really well. Not sure that any of the others will survive, but three is a saving of about $60, not to be sniffed at. I am supposed to snip off the buds the first year and give the plant the chance to put all energy into strong roots. I really wanted to know what colours I had and thought I would leave just one on each. But today I accidentally knocked my one bud off. Peeled it back thougfh and saw it is a gorgeous red. Excellent. I like a bit of deep, rich, extravagantly bold, red. The yellow banksia rose I bought from the garden nursery last year (my only full price shop rose, bought with the freebie $20 credit from my loyalty card) has extremely tiny flowers and while it is pretty, it needs to be moved now I can see this. T…

ghosts and drugs

Am I on about the devil, big pharma, again? Again?

Yup. Have a look at this blog post on the ghost writing of articles reporting on new drugs, articles which are important for FDA approval in the US. And here and almost definitely wherever you are.

Earlier this week the front pages of our newspapers were full of a really big deal: that pseudophedrine is going to be made a class B2, prescription-only drug as an attempt to reduce access to this substance by P labs. Apparently it can be used to make P (methamphetamine). A sample article can be found here. Nowhere, nowhere did I see any alternatives to big pharma's products discussed. The growers of lemons, garlic, ginger, cayenne, manuka honey, apple cider vinegar (quick random sample of ingredients I know to be of use for dealing with colds and influenza) have not a smidgen of the power of big pharma.

I remember reading about pseudophedrine when my daughter was tiny. Unsuprisingly, given it's drying effect, it has a negativ…


Today I put a payment down on a camera for our family, something to chart our changing lives and growing children with. The old camera, a super-cheapie from Tchibo in the UK which has served us well, is dying and either doesn't work or takes very grainy photographs.

Sure, I would like to be able to post photographs on this blog often and with ease, but the actual clincher for paying money down today is the thought that if something happened to one of my children, economising by delaying a camera and thus having really huge gaps in our portraits of their lives would never seem worth it.

Tonight I went to see the very beautiful and wonderful movie Everlasting Moments. In this movie, a Finnish woman living in Sweden before and during World War One wins a camera in a raffle. She uses it, this rare thing in her community, to record her world and it also gives her another life outside of the drudgery of poverty and the horrors of a drunken and violent husband.

Things which annoy me

When our government funds heaps of vaccines and heaps of antibiotics when what many families need is a good quality food and shelter.

When the big pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money from the sale of
a) vaccines for small babies
b) antibiotics for small and not so small people whose immune system is already compromised
c) lotions and potions for children with eczema
d) inhalers and steroids for children with asthma

a, b, c & d are all linked in a huge portion of cases in my view.

But nobody makes much money out of poor families eating well. A budget which alloows for fruit as snacks instead of a budget range bought biscuit.

Which is why funding for our local healthy eating programme is under threat right now and yet I betcha anything that pharmac continue with multimillion dollar funding of vaccines and antibiotics and steroids and and and and this year and next.

Making an effort

Rearranged my half of the study this morning. Acres of dust gone, no idea how we breathed comfortably before but I guess my body is well attuned to dust. I took about half of the fabric stash I was gifted down to the Sallies today and found some sewing patterns in my size to enable me to use up the (substantial) remainder of the fabric. I have found various long lost buttons and patterns and notions. Tomorrow night I am babysitting for a friend who has a tidier lounge floor than me so when the children are in bed I am going to cut out the rest of my skirt pattern (started in August) on her floor.

The dreaded spectre of Christmas (yes I am a Christmas grouch) is looming already. I have broken the news to my parents that we are going north to be with my elderly grandparents this year (first time since I got married nine years ago) and they were so quiet (not like Mum at all) that I'm even contemplating taking the kids to them early and having a special thing with them then.

I'm al…

The evolutionary origins of surplus

I began to review Tristram Stuart's book Wastehere. Tonight I want to come back and share what I learnt and thought from his chapter, (11) 'The Evolutionary Origins of Surplus'.

Many people assume that society's blase attitude to wasting food is a
recent phenomenon and that in the past people were more frugal , and food was
too valuable to discard. If this were true, rectifying our current leveles
of waste would simply be a matter of reverting to earlier customs.
But the history of human wastefulness has deeper roots than late capitalism or
consumer culture. Waste is a product of food surplus, and surplus has been
the foundation of human success for over 10.000 years. Everything we call
civilisation depends upon it. (Stuart, p.169)

So Stuart begins what for me was one of the most interesting chapters of the entire book. I love it that he goes beyond the radar of the current romanticism regarding historical food practices. While I am skating near this particular soapbox,…