Showing posts from December, 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…