Showing posts from February, 2010

sowing before the full moon

Crumbly earth and a soothed soul. The children played around the shelter cloth counting the minutes until he went to a party and she went to collect Daddy, while I weeded.

Later on as they went to bed, I went outside again and weeded, crumbled earth and sowed seeds. In one section I sowed alyssum, rocket, lettuce, carrots (this time? eighth time lucky?), beetroot and welsh bunching onions. In another, the raised bed which is also the chook graveyard, I scattered lots of herbs seeds and then turned the soil with my hands. In this plot went chervil, coriander, wildflower blend, calendula, motherwort, rocket (I love rocket and can never have too much of it) and astragalus.

I am still mulling over the contested meanings of the term 'left'. And the contested actions and inactions relating to leftedness. But my soul is at greater peace because the four of us are back home together again and I have seeds in my garden and dirt (almost but not entirely scrubbed out) under my finge…

Garden Time

Tonight I weeded a section of garden, about a metre square, and sowed seeds of argentata beet (from Kings seeds, an Italian heirloom variety which is totally worth the effort of obtaining and growing from seed for its flavour), chicory, pak choi and rocket.

The garden before I started was testimony to the folly of not mulching over summer. Thick with weeds, the soil was low on worms compared to much of my garden. It was nice and dark and mostly crumbly though, in contrast with the areas which had potatoes and are now bare, exposed earth. My favourite 'weed' was borage, which has self-seeded very vigorously. I did find some self-seeded thyme which pleased me.

I'm pleased with my gardening tonight. I worked in the old chook run, an area which was grass before we laid the poultry palace over top of it. At ten square metres, it was the largest garden I had ever had the pleasure of working with. As I look across tall weeds and at healthy looking beetroot, roses, sunflowers…

I am ordinary and I AM thinking

The generation before me said "I am woman, hear me roar".

I've been reflecting today on Zizek as explained by John Bernstein on the Liberation Blog. Specifically this part:

Žižek’s critique of liberal multiculturalist presents a serious challenge to
those of us who want to act to change things. He presents a powerful
argument that to politically act within the parameters acceptable to the
liberal establishment, ‘…inevitably ends in a cul-de-sac of debilitating
impossibility: "what can one do against global capital?" (Žižek, 2001).’
Therefore, Žižek’s importance lays in his questioning of the dominant
liberal hegemony. His argument is that before we act, we need to begin thinking again:
One is therefore tempted to turn round Marx's eleventh thesis. The first task today is precisely not to succumb to the temptation to act, to directly intervene and
change things…Rather, the task is to question the hegemonic ideological
coordinates, or, as Brecht put it in his Me Ti, &…


I've linked to this post on a so-called nuanced class analysis on the Liberation blog before. Yesterday I had another look and John Bernstein has replied to the comments, including mine.

I am furious. Let's have a look at his comments.

Collectivism: Sandra negatively associates collectivism and freely provided
social services with state institutionalisation. Such a view very much fits in
with the dominant ideologies of our times. So, the common-sense view of today is
that ‘collectivism’ is a dirty word. This anti-collectivist discourse became
mainstream when neo-liberal governments swept to power in the West during the
1980s. New Right governments, such as the fourth Labour regime in NZ, were able
to convincingly portray the state as inefficient, wasteful, as well as
draconian, and to label ‘collectivism’ as being an anathema to all those who
uphold freedom and choice.

How incredibly convenient. Yes he is right that Roger Douglas et. al. made collectivism a dirty word in the 1980s and…

Condolence biscuits

My mother is a whizz baker. As we grew older and she returned to the paid workforce, she refused to lower her standards. Sometimes I would scramble out of bed just before seven on a weekday morning to find Mum had been up since 5am and baking for most of that time. Not for us (that was the weekend or I did it), but for a fundraiser (school, brownies, cubs, Catholic Womens League, others I have forgotten) or if someone had died.

Tonight we learned that Favourite Handyman's Nana died in her sleep this morning. We've found flights for him to go to Auckland and let work know he will be away for the rest of the week. Now that he has gone off to sort out his work this evening and the children are asleep, I wonder what I can send. It doesn't take long to know - these things are enculturated into my bones. I'm not sure if enculturated is in the dictionary, but I know what it means.

Off to open my long acquaintance Edmonds and turn the oven on.

Sunday kitchen: muesli slice

I'd been playing round with Nina-the-kitchen-queen's muesli slice last year, with some failures due to, for example, leaving out the flour. Today I am most pleased with my latest tinkering.

Laksme-our-angel-therapist suggested we soak our oats in prune juice. She had a convincing rationale which was so convincing that I forgot what it was. So today I soaked 3 cups of big fat oats in a few sloshes (perhaps 1/4 cup?) of prune juice, later remembered to add a handful of dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and left it there while I did other stuff. I melted 120g of butter and put about 300g of condensed milk in the mix, together with 1/2 C of sugar, 1/2 C yoghurt and 1/2 C of flour. I put some dark chocolate and some brazil and cashew nuts into my whizzy machine and pulverised them and added it to the mix. Stirred it around and out it into a greased pyrex dish (20 x 28cm) and into the 180 degree Celsius oven for 40 minutes.

It is fantastic.

I also made pork spare ribs for the first…


Winter 2010 knitting project: pattern
Today in the Methodist Mission shop: one square tablecloth in appealing colours and pattern. It had some marks on it and also it stunk. I think it had been stored in a room where people smoked cigarettes. I took it home for the princely sum of $1, soaked it in bleach, washed and dried it, ironed it...
... and made a handkerchief hemline-style skirt. I could pretend that this is ordinary Friday night activity for me or I could acknowledge that we are out of alcohol in the house and I didn't want to do paid work, housework or community work.
I already owned a lovely handkerchief skirt (is that the correct term for jagged hem?) which I had ripped beyond repair. I used the stretchy band of that one for my new skirt - I have a top long enough to cover the brown band and the rough stitching of tonight's experiment. I do like things that can be finished quickly. Looks like I have a skirt for St Patrick's Day. And tomorrow night. No…


I believe it is called multi-tasking. If all this multi-tasking burnt calories the way it burns brain cells, then I would be skinnier than my sunflower stalks.

Yesterday I took a break as it was Wednesday which about once a month involves no paid work and no meetings and I had deemed it a special occasion. I weeded part of the garden and admired my leeks, my borage, the sheer size of some of my weeds and almost but not quite planted some plants before it rained. I did not launder, I did not cook and I did not give any consideration to the relationship between acronyms and live human beings.

Today I had a lot of food made by eight am, a lot of people dressed and in the right places and I was going to be a paid working mother maximising the first 40 minutes into A Lot of Things Achieved. Only on the wall at work was my name beside an activity taking place this very evening, the kind of activity where I needed to be Ms Working Woman with no short people hanging off my skirt or careering up…

The good oil

Last week I found this article and recipe on omega 3 goodness at the same time as my son (7) was struggling with his fast-worsening eczema during school swim week, which is where they swim twice per day every day for a week and have a glorious time.

We have a long history of trying almost everything invented to help improve Fionn's skin. I have supplemented with flax seed oil before but after this article, and with the fortuitous discovery of quite a bit of flax seed oil just on its official use-by date in the Health Shop $5 bargain bin on Monday, I have started rubbing several capsules of flax seed oil into his skin, 2-3 times per day. The difference is totally wonderful. Whereas the budget aqueous cream that we had been relying on in recent years (i.e since it eased off from his worst days of looking like a burns survivor) merely moisturised his skin briefly, the omega-3-rich flax seed oil literally feeds and nourishes his skin. In addition, he now has his own tub of Tui Bee…

Sunday kitchen marathon

zucchini pickle, hummous, tzatziki, roast garlic, pea & garlic puree, bread, chocolate chippie biscuits & fishy ratatouille

phew! Actually I realised as I typed that I'd forgotten the bread and so pulled that out of the hot water cupboard, portioned it into tins and put the oven on. If I wasn't so tired, then I would give it a few hours in the tins proving, but it looks well risen so far and should survive to make a nice crust.

I used the same zucchini pickle recipe as two years ago. Last year was a terrible season for zucchini in our part of the country so no pickle then. The only changes I made is that in the interim I have learnt how good turmeric and celery seeds are for good health, so I poured lots more into the vinegar than my original recipe stated. I even went outside and collected celery seeds from the garden - one use at least for my early bolting celery this season. The second change was that I grated the onion and zucchini. Much faster.

Hummous with 1 …

Season turning

The long, hot dry stretch of the last three weeks is broken. Although there will likely still be some nice weather to come, I suspect this marks a turning. The forecast of rain over the weekend prompted me to collect my drying garlic in, clean it and begin to plait it. Yesterday, with thanks to Nikki's recipe, I made a winter flu formula. Using my still-quite-new-and-exceedingly fabulous whizz stick, I pulverised about 33 cloves of garlic with 500ml of apple cider vinegar. Then I added 4 T of honey and 1 T of cayenne pepper and whizzed some more. Voila! Spicy medicine for winter chills. I found it a satisfying way of marking the shift onwards from the summer harvest and I think I will make some each year. Maybe each year on Waitangi Day (Feb 6). Unless Lughnasa falls on a weekend, the reality is that I won't be in the kitchen making it exactly then.

Also a shift thing, Brighid and I mooched around the wool shop and I began to ponder making something for me for winter.…

herbal season

Not sure if Lughnasadh (see here) is going to work for us after all. Even Waitangi Day didn't get a look in today, despite there being various wonderful things to do in celebration of the ties that bind in Aotearoa. The beginning of February, year after year, sees us broke and very busy, including in the weekends. But I do notice that on my southern hemisphere Celtic calendar, Mabon, the Autumn equinox (and linked to the book of Mabinogion which is on the shelf behind me for when I am ready to learn more), is very close to St Patrick's Day, a festival I have a long tradition of celebrating. Frankly, since I became a mother, I don't celebrate it enough, so last year we got a babysitter so that we could both sup Guinness with adult friends for a couple of hours (I no longer crave ten hour Guinness drinking sessions). Hopefully this becomes a regular tradition.

I have been doing a few herbal experiments of late. Early in January I made some red clover vinegar and that sh…


I've got my gardening mojo back. Now that it's school and paid work season, I've taken to spending a little of most evenings in the garden, enjoying the cooler temperatures after sweltering hot days (summer really did come after all). I've not been rocking the boundaries of the gardening sport in the slightest, just weeding, a little planting and of course, mostly watering. Tansy, one celery seedling, one kale seedling and some parsley went into the ground tonight.

We had huge bills for the car and I've had to give up my beloved and much appreciated cleaner for this month. I felt really shitty having to do this, knowing that despite the car bills, we are so much richer and more privileged than her. Had our family stuck to our budget better last year, that money would be staying local and helpful instead of paying credit card interest. I want to employ C again as soon as we can stem the worst of the money-letting. As for the house itself, who really cares. I …