Showing posts from April, 2009

Is this the part where I pull out soap recipes?

Or shift the soap box for the milk box?

First day of the new school term. Fionn went, late, in swim shoes and quadbiking gloves. Begrudgingly, he also wore a few items I insisted upon, like shorts and top and jersey.

I have no motivation for doing the proper houserunning things I ought to be doing and I'm not quite ready to go on a massive shoe hunt on Fionn's behalf just yet.

So I'm mucking around online and I find some discussion on getting the supermarket out of people's every day and every week lives.

Maybe I should do that. Bit of focus. I've played round with it before.

Currently, I source eggs, fish, meat and most vegetables and fruit elsewhere. I source some of my flour and often my tahini elsewhere. So what next?

I could make my own yoghurt, not from a sachet but the real thing. I've tried and given up before and I've ditched my kefir, but this isn't impossible. Knowing my history, I'll stick to easiyo sachets for the time being and focus on othe…

Freedom and Remembrance

Anzac Day - May Day - placenta day - Autumn equinox.

Yesterday I went to the Dawn Service, my first time. I stood with Mary, my (Dad's) cousin and wife of a prisoner of war from World War Two. A woman who has supported her husband through nightmares of his time in the war. A woman who has had to understand that support is often understanding that some things are beyond understanding. We watched the march and I felt very proud of the many young people marching, standing to attention in the cold.

There was talk of fighting for freedom. I thought of the many fights for freedom, including those of the conscientious objectors. They also fought for freedom. There is a good blogpost on some of the battles they fought here.

Afterwards, back at the RSA, I said hello to people of all ages, saw the meaning Anzac Day has for current soldiers, for relatives of servicemen and women, for many other people in our community. I stood in the wrong queue for a cup of tea for ages until I realise…

Back from the Hanmer bubble

I took Dad's cousin and my children to Hanmer for a few days this week. We stayed with my parents and I even made a reasonable fist of being a good daughter.

Hanmer Springs is a strange place to me. It is a holiday town with high housing costs and seems largely insulated from the wider world. If you are poor or unemployed, it is extremely unlikely that you will live in Hanmer. Trying to talk about recession issues was, um, frustrating. Of course, Mum and Dad have a television, which we don't. So I had the cultural highlight of watching the finale of Dancing with the Stars. I didn't explain what the charity Rainbow Youth was about until the next day. I also learnt that I am related to Rodney Hide's cousin. These right wingers don't all come from private schools. Rodney, it turns out, is a Rangiora High School boy. Just like Roger Kerr (Business Round Table) came from the same small town high school as me - Waimea College.

So while we were away, the governm…

Global trade and local possums

I've been thinking about the graphs in a recent Against the Current post for a few days. I think the post (and the article which the graphs come from) are well worth reading, but the biggest message is that comparisons of 1929-30 and 2008-9 show that global trade and stock market value have both dropped faster since April 2008 than in the comparative period (immediately after the peak in the stock market and in trade) in 1929.

Which seems a pretty powerful piece of information to me.

This afternoon, over biscuits and tea, after much admiration of Brighid's biscuit dunking skills and of the clothes I dropped round for the great grandchildren, my cousin Mary (aged 82) and I were discussing this graph. We talked about the 1930s depression which she remembers but which her late husband Lou, eight years older than her, remembered even more vividly. Mary said she never went hungry and her Dad was in work throughout the lean times, so they were very lucky. Lou's family had not …

Domesticity in the wet

It hasn't rained the absolute entire weekend. Not completely.

I started this morning (after a rather stodgy pancake making attempt) by donning gumboots and digging up some pretty autumn flowering bulbs from the creek at one end of our street. I've been asking and researching to find their name, but to no avail so far. Yes I do realise that posting a photo might help. Taking a photo would be some kind of start as well...

No children found me, so I stayed outside a while longer and sowed rocket, pak choy and phacelia seeds.

Later on I inspected Favourite Handyman's excellent work making a new plastic cover for part of the chook run. This time we have gone for the much higher quality and more expensive agphane plastic. FH ran a rope down each side and then used his heat gun to seal a flap over it. It certainly looked a wonderful scheme to me. I didn't know he had these skills precisely when I fell in love with him. But I did have a whiff when I saw that he could, …

Dead animal whiff

Well that will be the end of any vegans reading for the night.

But seriously, there is the smell of dead animal in our back garden. It is stronger in some places than others. I removed cat poo (our neighbours have many cats; at least the dogs can't get in) from one garden and I checked the chook run. The chook run area is a bit pongy as well but I think that is a separate problem, which will be when Favourite Handyman has a few hours to fix the huge rents in the chook run plastic cover.

Last time we had a pong like this, I eventually found a dead and decomposing hedgehog. I said many prayers of thanks that I found it first, not the (then) one year old.

I think the strongest smell is from under the house. Which does suggest that Favourite Handyman's job list is lengthening by the second.

Being of a fairly staunch disposition smell-wise, I managed to garden near the whiff without too much trouble this afternoon. I worked on the last section of the back of the house garden str…

What to wear?

The Warehouse is a bad place. I think I've mentioned that before. What I am less likely to have mentioned is that in spite of being aware of the problems, the pitfalls, the dodgy ethics and general badness of it all, I myself am bad in the Warehouse.

Which could explain why one Sunday with two (too) many children around me and a pile of supposedly useful things in my arms, I spotted long sleeved v neck t-shirts for just $12 each and bought a purple one and a black one without even trying them on. The shape of the v was nice, not too high and not indecently deep. If you wonder why I didn't bother trying them on, then obviously you have never taken small children shopping with you. To the Warehouse. On Sunday. Or any day.

Now, the neck was indeed just right.

But as we do not live in a society where fertility goddesses are the desired phsyique and all women aim for a big rounded tummy like mine, and indeed such a tummy displayed prominently is seen as at least bad taste, if not act…

Independence Days, Interdependence Days

Johanna recently reminded me about Sharon Astyck's Independence Days Challenge. In this, we are all invited to record our projects to become ready for a post peak oil by trying very hard to do at least one of the following things each day:
* Plant Something
* Harvest Something
* Preserve Something
* Store Something
* Manage Reserves
* Cook Something New
* Prep Something
* Reduce Waste
* Learn a New Skill
* Work on Community Food Security
* Regenerate What Is Lost

It seems a fine idea to me, especially if it gives you energy to keep focusing on skills which free you a little from the grab of the corporates in your daily living. In terms of managing one of these things each day, I expect I generally do okay. Yesterday (without planning to meet any categories) I harvested rocket for my sandwiches and learnt a little more about knitting, courtesy of the lovely Shona at our local wool shop.

I do appreciate Johanna's post as it has made me think more clearly about my own priorities and values. I…

daily bread

Indeed I am making bread on a daily or almost daily basis. Esepcially when it is raining. I have finally got my rye bread to the consistency I wanted. The main problem earlier, I can now see, was that I wasn't cooking it for long enough.

The rye bread is a perfect match for eggs on toast, but as a 100% rye, it is a little heavy as sandwiches. I have found another great bread though. I think it is great anyway.

It is from Andrew Whitley's bible, oops I meant Bread Matters. This book is my bible for breadmaking. It is called Cromarty Cob and is a wheat bread kicked off with a rye starter. It seems otherwise closely related to what he calls a French Country Loaf and has a lovely chewy crust and a holey, kind of grunty yet still soft interior. He calls for some wholemeal and some white flour in the production dough, and then for the remainder of the mix he calls for some bread grade flour and some plain flour. On Monday when I first made this, I used my purple wheat zentrofan flour …

Garden Day

Yesterday the rain stopped. Brighid the garden murderer slept in. Perfect conditions to actually do something in the garden.

I started with a spot of murdering of my own - the caterpillar hunt. I killed about 20, which is a definite slow down from last month, given that I have about 20 brassica plants, all either broccoli, curly kale, cavolo nero or russian kale.

Now that the rainy season is upon us, the ground is likely to be too wet for liquid fertiliser for the next nine months, so the comfrey/sheep poo brew which I hadn't entirely used up this season can be held over for next year. I cut down all the comfrey from my four rather prolific plants and dumped it on top of the current brew. I added more water and figure it should all be broken down and marvellous by 2010.

The potatoes out the front are ready to harvest. The most noticeable casualty of my more limited gardening time this season just gone has been that I have not mounded up the potatoes sufficiently. On every crop…

Food, class & capitalism

In a recent Prospect magazine article, Geoff Mulgan ponders what next after capitalism. He delineates clearly a pattern of social changes after major recessions from 1797 onwards and he proposes some possibilities for the changes ahead of us in the next decade or three.

Acknowleding that the rise of mass consumerism in rich countries has been a key feature of the post WWII landscape, he then goes on to posit that we can see changes to this domination already:

[T]here are already strong movements to restrain the excesses of mass
consumerism: slow food, the voluntary simplicity movement and the many measures
to arrest rising obesity, are all symptoms of a swing towards seeing consumerism
less as a harmless boon and more as a villain. The mayor of Sao Paolo, Gilberto
Kassab, banned all billboards in 2006. David Cameron has railed against toxic
capitalism corrupting young children, as well as toying with the idea of
personal carbon accounts to limit high carbon lifestyles.

Well I am glad to see t…

a call for sock knitting help

We won't be talking about the woollen curtain for the front door for a while, okay? Once I had handsewn a band at the top, I proudly showed it to Favourite Handyman who couldn't ever remember agreeing to how I thought I had told him it would be. Then he got me to hold it up and it was too short and I remembered why I had been initially planning to use the purple double bed blanket and not the single bed cream(ish) one.

So that project is off the menu for the meantime.

And I miss having a piece of knitting on the go.

And in my drawer (or by the computer now) I have 100gms of sock wool. I found it at the Sallies. It is 3 ply sock yarn, in a nice slightly teal-y blue colour and it is New Zealand made. Called "Family", it was made by Alliance Textiles. It doesn't say where in NZ and I suspect that it was perhaps one of the last sock yarns to be made here - the label and brand suggest the 1980s to me. It is not possible to buy NZ-made sock yarn currently.

I don&#…

On the qualities of bread flour

Oh how very pretentious. Sandra from Wetville is pontificating about the qualities of bread flour.

Well yes.

I ordered 20kg of organic flour from Terrace Farm in Methven, Canterbury, a couple of months back. Even including freight charges, prices were below $3 per kilo. Compares favourably to ordinary flour in the shops and very favourably to the organic Australian flour I saw for over $7 per kilo in the supermarket recently. Terrace Farm mill to order, so beautifully fresh.

They offer stoneground flour and also zentrofan, which is very finely ground wholemeal flour. I ordered 4 x 5kg bags: zentrofan rye, stoneground rye, zentrofan purple wheat, zentrofan otane wheat. I'm continuing with my rye bread experiments and each loaf is an improvement on the last. I noticed a big difference once I used up my zentrofan rye and switched to stoneground rye, which is what my recipe calls for. Less wet and gluggy. I must remember to adapt the recipe for zentrofan next time. The zentrofa…

Winter warmth projects

No matter what happens in the world of politics, the more practical needs around our way at the moment are finalising preparations for winter.

Today I finished the Depression Dress for Brighid. For a loosely guessed sizing with no pattern, it came out pretty well. It is too big and when will fit her better next year. But I have used up lots of wool remnants and it will keep her warm. Especially when she stops spitting milk on it and no longer discards it in the corner of the kitchen when I am not looking. If you want gushing praise for a non-food item, do not look to my two year old daughter.

My next winter warmth project is to turn a blanket into a curtain for the front door. I have a towel rolled up at the base to stop the bottom draft. But there are small drafts along the sides of the door and as the door is mostly window panes, plenty of cold seeps through that as well. I planned this last year but have yet to make progress. What we need to do before I start sewing hoops across the …

West Bank: writing on the wall

This is the link to the original article which I have reproduced in full:

West Bank: writing on the wall
Monday April 6th 2009
Ever wanted to scrawl graffiti onto the West Bank separation wall? Indirectly, now you can. A team of Palestinian peace activists are taking orders through their website, where for a small fee they will spray-paint any message you desire on the eastern, Palestinian side of the 620km structure. Project coordinator Faris Asouri, 27, talks of his delight at being able to vent his opposition to the wall in such a creative way:

When the separation wall was built I was surprised. To me it seemed proof that the Israeli government wasn't interested in peace with Palestine. I was angry too. Neighbours might have walls between their houses but they're built on the borders, not on each other's land. But this wall was built on Palestinian land.

I was devastated. I am a peace activist, I want pe…

So much to think about at Easter, aye Andrew Little?

In which I attempt to bring together several strands of thought I'm having at the moment, as we lead up to Easter, as we lead into economic struggle.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. Although I was brought up attending Mass every week (and I mean every week) as a child, I rarely attend now. Although I feel drawn to the ritual and symbolism, I'm not drawn to the corruption and conservatism inherent in churches as they become institutions. Most of them have been institutions for centuries now, and the layers of privilege, the base pursuit of power are within them as much as any other venerated institution.

But I took the children with me last Sunday. I thought we had a chance at turning up clean and on time at 9.30am, as we had the end of daylight saving giving us a little more temporal grace. We were late, the children hid their filth from me until inside church (you might suggest I didn't look and scrub hard enough before we left. Anything is possible.) I wanted Fionn in particu…

The mouse doth protest

The rainy season has begun. After a pleasant blip of some weeks of very moderate rain, sheets and buckets of water are lashing down the windows, blowing sideways onto the wood pile in the new lean-to, and exposing the torn section of the poultry palace to damp but hopefully not to disease.

It causes us all to duck for cover, including my old foes, the rodents. Favourite Handyman, my long time husband, supporter of my projects and soother of my fevered brow, cleared the mouse trap of another victim (victory to the humans) this morning. Then went off on a two-night tramp into the inner hills of the South Island to the backdrop of heavy rain warnings on the radio. When I came home for lunch I heard noises in the cereal cupboard. Vigorous noises. We've been there before and it isn't pretty. Properly caught mice do not make this kind of noise. Mice where only an extremity such as a tail or foot has been caught do make this kind of noise. While I wouldn't dream of puttin…

Letters with focus

Can I do it?

I've enjoyed blogging on Sandra's Garden for the last 20 months, charting my ups and downs in the garden and sharing my enthusiasm and or rage at other events globally or locally. Increasingly I found myself writing about my endeavours in the kitchen.

But it was all getting just too random and I was aware that in writing terms, I was getting slack and sloppy. Had been for ages. Was I writing for an audience or merely writing journal notes, a tiny smudgy step up from my shopping list?

This new blog is an attempt to focus myself a little more clearly. It may be spectacularly unsuccessful, feeble and weak. I know I veer from spilling my thoughts out without heed to an audience to keenly awaiting comments. And then I find that much as I love reading comments, I almost never have any decent reply to make. Which doesn't go a long way towards building up dialogue.

So here goes. The rainy season has begun. So has Letters from Wetville. I'm aiming for four sections: