Showing posts from October, 2010

Fiona Kidman, beside the Dark Pool

Fiona Kidman's two volumes of memoirs have had a powerful effect on me. I wrote a more detailed response recently but it is too personal for a public blog.

Particularly powerful lines for me in beside the Dark Pool:
"The 1970s had seen seismic shifts in the way women lived. Many of us couldn't recognise ourselves in our mothers' lives at all." p.57
This has prompted much reflection for me. When I was a teenager and a young adult, I assumed the world of paid work would be my place. I was off to conquer the world, to experience the things my mother and aunts told me were not mine to experience. It was much later that it came to feel an act of rebellion not to work outside the home full time and sometimes not at all after I had my children.

And this line, in which Kidman writes of the process of returning home with her mother before her mother went into the Home of Compassion,
We went through boxes of photographs, mementoes of her past life, recipe books, and remin…


I finally had a go at making my own crackers today, using this recipe from Towards Sustainability, a blog I have admired for a long time. I undercooked the first batch, and the second were good. They need a little rock salt for perfection, but the amount devoured by the short boy bodes well for using them in school lunches. This morning I most emphatically was not in a Sally Fallon mood, but by the time I'd made successful banana choc chip muffins and the crackers, been hydrosliding for the first time in 25 years and had divine barbeque sausages and halloumi and grilled tomatoes for dinner (none cooked by me), I was feeling a little more receptive to the idea of soaking and fermenting the flour and dancing twice around a purple feather for my next cracker experiment. I pulled the sourdough starter out of the fridge and fed it and plan to make a cracker mixture before I go to bed tonight.

I found marinated artichokes in the supermarket for the first time ever, flipped out the $6…

Brain brilliance from Reading the Maps

she's wearing her don't talk to me face
as she makes the kids lunches

(The Muttonbirds, "A Thing Well Made")

Last night when I was posting I felt ridiculously intellectually inept. To be honest I felt politically inept, which seems not the same thing but worse. Why couldn't I see clearly how things should be (as in not just how they should not be, but the positive stance on how things should be) ? This morning Favourite Handyman turned National Radio on before 7am and we listened in dismay to the details of the Hobbit stoush. Rounds 1-13 to Warner Studio for sure. That sense of the dark kitchen, of the grim but essential functional start to the family day in the Muttonbirds song seemed to link to my own mood as I made sandwiches and chopped salad vegetables this morning.

All day I lived in a different sphere, at work almost all day and dealing with the politics of the micro scene, not the national and global issues. The kids and I swore off Friday fish and chip…

Quinoa experiments, Angela Merkel

I've put quinoa in soups before and making it into gluten free tabbouli was on my list. In the weekend my sister told me about cooking it in stock which seemed like a nutritionally wizard combination. Then I found late this afternoon that Soakednuts had answered my query, only there certainly wasn't time for nine hours of soaking before dinner time. So I soaked the quinoa in water and a little lemon juice for a couple of hours, then thawed some pork stock and cooked the quinoa in that. In another pot I sauteed bacon ends, mushrooms, celery, red pepper, green pepper, carrots and broccoli. Things went a little belly-up when I turned the stock off and the vegetables up before going out to the washing line, instead of vegetables off and stock up. But there had been continued quinoa soaking in very hot liquid and it looked fine so I mixed the two pots together and served it with spoons and forks given the soup-y base.

Not that utensils of any kind were required for the over-ti…

Fiona Kidman and my Dad

We had a weekend away for my Dad's 70th birthday which turned out fabulous. The children enjoyed getting brown bottles of drink out of the ice boxes to drink and sitting up by their uncles drinking just like them. Ginger beer is trendy stuff.

On the way home we stopped at the Maruia Hot Springs. In 35 years of travelling through the Lewis Pass I have never stopped there. It was a truly beautiful experience and I could have stayed all day. The children liked it but they could not have stayed all day which is why we did not. The utase-yu, a cascade of warm thermal spring water which you sit under, is particularly wonderful, like a back massage. I stayed until the very last second when the others were all out of the pool and getting impatient, just like the children do to me at the playground.

Today my two three year old helpers and I went to the fabric shop in town and I picked out some more poplin to make twirly skirts for my outlaw nieces. Orange fabric with black rick rack…

twirly skirt

Earlier this week Fionn came home with a birthday invitation. The birthday girl is rather a favourite of mine and despite Fionn-the-consumer-luster requesting we shop at Toyworld, I fancied making her a skirt.

I did. All in one day. Finito already.

This is massive massive progress. And I did it with my helper Brighid with me. Sure, a lot of creative things happened in the rest of the house while I sewed, but we both were happy.

It didn't even take all day. I can't believe that I am actually turning into a functional sewing-person.

This pattern:
I made the bottom left picture, but with a plain hem instead of contrast trim. I didn't do the cute swirl and flower additions either.
The photos are taken before I had hemmed the skirt and also the elastic is still poking out as fitting the waist is why I tried it on my model. As the model is in bed asleep, I can't take final photographs but I have finished it.

I used poplin and it is so soft and drapey and now I want to make …

Spinach & sewing

I made torta di riso e spinaci (rice and spinach cake) for dinner. I also made another muesli slice based on this recipe, only with no cornflakes and I soaked the oats in fruit juice for a while first and I put linseeds and pumpkin seeds and chocolate in as well as dried fruit. Tastes good but is a bit crumbly. I think I will try throwing an egg in next time.

My sewing is progressing. Tonight I did some ease stitching for the first time ever. Then I made the hems on the cap sleeves. As I carefully measured the 1.5cm hem allowance and then folded the raw edge under, ironed that in place and then sewed a narrow hem, I remembered my Mum teaching me to sew. Mum, a very skilled seamstress, has never owned an overlocker, and neither has she made a garment with raw seams showing. Every edge was neatened by being folded under, pressed and sewn. My own approach has been far cruder. The fabric on this current project frays quite easily but I still can't face neatening every edge a …

Rewa Biddington

Obviously 15 minutes on the sewing machine is licence to go fill up the fabric project drawers to bursting again. Yesterday Brighid and I just happened to drive by an op shop on the far side of Wetville. Brighid spotted this spotted green fabric and thought she would like me to make her a skirt out of it. I'm thinking I might do a dress for her though, given I seem to have advanced beyond elastic waist everything this week.
There was a big stash of clothes on the racks which were named, indicating I think that the person had been in a retirement home. I chose three frocks belonging to Rewa Biddington, and I've been wondering about her story ever since. When I learn more about her, I will publish it on my blog - I'd like something of her story to live on. These frocks are from the 1970s I think, all home made. I remember these kinds of fabrics from my childhood and they repulsed me for ages, probably until very recently. Now I really like them, in all their printed p…

Darting with the Toyota

Today the sun shone, I played superwoman (not exactly, and no cape, but I did work for money all morning, come home and clean the toilet and sweep the porch and hallway and prepare dinner, pick up four children across one kindy and two schools, drop them all off and go back to work for a meeting involving lots of different documents and different people all talking and being discussed at once, collect husband and children, cook noodles and the prepped fish and vegetables and then read a lot of stories to a short child while the boy and man were at martial arts). At the end of all this homing-working-mothering stuff, I remembered all the compliments I had on my lovely skirt today, the one I made myself. I also knitted my cardigan and my boots and t-shirt are hard wearing items I bought nine and six years ago respectively in London, so I was feeling that perhaps I manage more ethical shopping then I thought (usually I fall back on the Sallies).

Which led to the thought that I could act…

roses and barbarism

It's all cottage charm if I narrow the camera in sufficiently. The thyme does look pretty. The larger green leaves beside it are buckwheat.
First rose of the season. Dublin Bay.
This chook has lost feathers below her throat. None of the others have and I need to research what is or might be going on.
It amazes me how the same rose plant can send out both deep green and deep red leaves at the same time.
I gave this succulent to Favourite Handyman last Christmas.
It is part of our cactus in tyres corner garden. So far, so good. Nothing else grows in this corner as it is south facing.

Slavoj Zizek has written an article in the Guardian which I think is really important. Liberalism multiculturalism masks an old barbarism with a human face talks about the politics of fear and the creeping acceptance of racism across many spectra of society. How creepy but quite believeable is this quote?:

Robert Brasillach, the French fascist intellectual, who saw himself as a "moderate" a…

buckwheat & snak log substitutes

The best part of today, even for a non-television watcher, is that Paul Henry has resigned.

More domestically, the cardy I began six months ago, is still on needles. I am about 2/3 of the way through the first sleeve. The completed back and both fronts are nestled in my knitting bag. It was all very well fancying a lighter woollen garment which was less bulky at work, but at this rate it will take longer than a pregnancy.

Yesterday I had a go at a Snak Log substitute, something I'd been meaning to try for months. Having misplaced my Edmonds book for the 31st time, I decided to start with this online recipe. I whizzed everything up quite finely with my whizzy stick machine and this meant the dried fruits (papaya, cranberry and apricot) were not specifically detectable to the boy who claims not to like them in baking or indeed on their own. I put some sunflower and linseeds in as well. Then I ground up some dark chocolate (Whittakers Ghana is on special in my local supermarket…


I have nothing special of my own to say about saveloys, but this is a lovely post/intro/poem on the subject of bright red working class meat. That you eat, not like lipstick.

The beautiful weather broke today. It broke all over the third load of washing. I was diligent enough to rescue loads one and two but as for the third, it can stay out there for a few more rinsings.

Inside, we have three sunflower seedlings and three basil seedlings newly arrived on the windowsill. One variety of sunflower has a blue seed coating (fungicide I suspect) and it looks quite surreal to have a bright blue 'lid' on an emergent stalk.

It is Spring and I am cleaning all sorts of things. Fionn and Brighid and I cleaned the car the other day. Normal activity for some, like unearthing a midden for us. At work, I am cleaning my desk, in readiness for the resumption of regular hours on Monday. Also, perhaps, in readiness for changes on the paid labour front. I have written to my boss advising him…


Yesterday I sowed tomato (oregon spring and sungold) seeds, costata romanesco zucchini seeds and pumpkin musquee de provence seeds. Today I sowed eight potato seeds around some calendula, each one wrapped in its own comfrey leaf taken from my little comfrey forest. I remember the first year we were here and I seemed to spend so much at the garden shop on herbs (some things I either couldn't grow from seed or couldn't wait patiently enough or just couldn't get germination) and now we have pay-off.

beach picnic

No camera today. I have recently sustained three consecutive days of blogging with photos though. The children and I spent much of today on the beach at Trumans Track near Punakaiki with friends. There is a section of beach with a waterfall coming down onto it from the cliff above and this forms a perfect pool for children to play in rather than anywhere near the ferocious sea. They also played on and off rocks and found a sea anemone. It was bliss. My souvenir is some seaweed for the garden.

Onion weed can grow on the slimmest of resources. This morning I moved the established blueberry pot, assuming that the substantial onion weed plant beside it was growing out of a crack in the concrete. In fact, it was growing from a thin layer of soil sitting under the pot and on top of the concrete. I gave it and the worms and slugs living also on this slender and seemingly rich biomass to the chooks.

I am now the delighted owner of Claudia Roden's Food of Italy, via trademe. For th…

sunshine gardening

Another day of promise and delight. I sowed kale seed this morning, both curly kale and lacinato kale (also called tuscan kale and walking stick kale) and then bought some large pots and a new blueberry plant at the garden centre. One large pot is for the new blueberry (of my two last year, the weaker one is now one long stick with three leaves on it). The second is to transplant the lemon tree into as it is now too big for its current pot. I have learnt through the killing of fruit trees that our garden is just too wet and waterlogged for fruit trees. Pots are an expensive alternative but our own lemons will be wonderful one day. Last year we ate a few blueberries which were delicious. Actually, I ate the few blueberries - gardener's perk. I would like a gooseberry bush but given the thorns, I am waiting until the children are older.

This afternoon Brighid and I went out to Raelene's to collect donkey poo. Brighid seems to really enjoy farm life, plonking around the s…

Thyme, veges & sunflowers

Seed sowing day. FH and the children made newspaper seedling containers with a gadget I got from the Warehouse and in them we sowed lots of sunflowers and also some pohutakawa. I sowed basil, thyme, feverfew, red onions, leeks, rocket, lettuces and the children finished the sowing project with some calendulas. The thyme is to make an edging around the old chook run garden to make it harder for the lawn to encroach. The feverfew is to transplant out the front to grow a wild daisy look in competition with the ivy and convulvulus and blackbery and twitch...

I had to get a bit realistic about the relationship between my gardening time and what I want to do, so the spuds will be out the back in an existing bed after all.

Some pictures from our walk this afternoon:

Food, fear and power

I've finished the biography (the Artemis Cooper one) of Elizabeth David. I loved my adventure into her world with all the enthusiasm of a voyeur who can choose when to begin and when to slip away. Often I flag part way through biographies, but I wanted to know everything Elizabeth David did.

The term 'Mrs David' was one which she recognised as very useful. She saw marriage as somewhat essential for a woman of her era (and class, but really I suspect 'era' still covers it). I was struck by the number of people in her circle who divorced, sometimes multiply. It seems this scourge to morality and family life only became so once 'everyone' was doing it, perhaps from the 1970s. Or could it be that divorce and damnation was ever present and current conservatives choose to see it as a 'this generation' malaise rather than face what none of us wants to: our parents and grandparents and generations before all had sex, not always with one person only, a…