Showing posts from October, 2009

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,…

Turn it round, upside down, make it new.again

We've just had two nights away, staying with my parents. On the Saturday, Favourite Handyman and I left the children with their grandparents for the whole entire day, 9am to 7pm. It was absolutely and totally wonderful. Everyone enjoyed themselves and I am sure we will do this again. I have come back ready to turn the place around. Brighid (2 years 8 months) is now sharing a room with her brother instead of her parents. As I type, they are both playing slumber party antics and at least we have another week to train them before school starts again. To put the extra bed in, I took out a set of drawers. The too big clothes for the children in that set of drawers can go somewhere else, high in a cupboard and I can have drawers for all the fabric I was given earlier this year. Has to be better than storing it on the floor.

Then I think we might rip all the wallpaper off the children's bedroom walls. Creamy ripped off-ness will be nicer than the current gloomy heavy green look. We mi…