Showing posts from December, 2010

button necklace

Most taxing, this holiday lark. I began today with the button necklace project. I had thought a fish buttons necklace would be wonderful as below, but abandoned it when I saw how tricky it was to get them all facing the right way.

The completed necklace below, is all blue buttons. I remember when R's mum and I were pregnant and planning our home births and now R is four tomorrow. May the sun shine on you always, R, and especially tomorrow.

I spent the rest of the day gardening and bossing my children around. No. They bossed me around and we all argued until it was time to go see our friends and have tea with them and then we were all very well behaved. Something like that. I weeded around the spuds and strawberries and FH and I discussed changing the garden around completely. We could of course do it with very little effort, by buying these kitset gardens, but look at the prices!! When you factor in buying the soil on top, that is a lot of vegetables to grow to pay the inv…

On chocolate goo & timing

I have learned today, on the anniversary of a day of joy (at my gorgeous son in my arms) and dismay (on being inside the dispiriting hell of an NHS London hospital), that it is not a good idea to make a birthday cake from a new recipe barely more than an hour before the boy and his friends come home from the movie and McDs.

Not a good idea at all. The recipe looked fantastic, and was written and endorsed by no less than Elizabeth David (I'm slightly in love with her after reading her biography by Artemis Cooper) and Joanna Cary who is my favourite UK foodie blogger. But I put it in a loaf tin and forgot that in my experience, no matter what the recipe says, eggy concoctions such as this should be spread low and wide, not deep. It all fell apart when I removed it from the tin, and goo oozed out. Very nice tasting goo I might add, but not the kind you can ice and put candles on and cut up for eight year olds.

So when they came back, FH encouraged them out the back to play while I …

Blowing in the wind

My artichokes in blown disarray. I notice that already new shoots are growing at the base. I plan to harvest all the flower heads tomorrow then chop back the branches and let the new baby shoots become the main plants for next year.
I have no shortage of herbs, but given their vigour, I have a shortage of path to walk on beside them.
Ah, compost success. This is the old compost plot, where I was concerned at the absence of worms before I went away. But tonight I turned it over with the fork and there is a wonderful abundance of red worms. I have it earmarked for the chook grave garden where the calendulas and alyssum and dill are bedraggled and past their prime.
This wind has blown over the garlic, which I cannot remember happening before. I probably should harvest the bent garlic as soon as the sun shines. The kale on the right has grey aphids. I am grateful for any suggestions on how to deal with this. We had it two years ago and it rendered the leaves quite yucky and not wort…

Back in Wetville

I admired the vegetable gardens and orchards at Kemp House and the Stone Store in Kerikeri and at Pompallier House in Russell. I ate local red peppers and we all admired the views at Pagoda Lodge where we camped. We spent time at the marae and the Treaty House at Waitangi and walked part way to Haruru Falls. It was all superb and I recommend it.

In Auckland we had a marvellous time. It became apparent rather quickly that we could not all see and do and visit everything and everyone we dreamed of. We stayed with family in Albany Heights which was lovely so long as you didn't go near the soulless hell which is the Albany Mega Centre. We spent a lot of time on the motorway it seemed, but also managed to enjoy lots of friend and family visits and time at the zoo and Kelly Tarlton's. My favourite place of the Auckland trip was picnicking at Bastion Point.

Christmas itself started most pleasantly. It ended with a nightmarish event of present giving, not so much a ritual as a …

links love laundry

I'm not packed. The laundry mountain is reducing though, and slivers of couch cushions can now be seen. The celery and the passionfruit and the rocket seed and the basil went into the garden today.

Some things to read or listen to in the absence of my wittering:
1. An interview with the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, youngest of the Mitford girls. She is fantastic, with dry observations which I loved. Radio Four has been a wonderful salvation at times recently when I have felt like some radio but definitely not the wall-to-wall Pike River coverage which continues on New Zealand media.

2. The 31st Down Under Feminist Carnival. Self explanatory. I'm only part way through, but it's good.

3. Life on the latte line. Megan is also a coaster, one of the first people I met when we moved to Wetville. She is a talented mother, crafter, writer, teacher and all round fun person and I am thrilled that she has started blogging.

I better go back to the laundry pile... Thank you to al…

How to sandbag a community?

Today Lou would have been 92. Lou grew up down the road from where we live in a little rental cottage. A child of the depression, he started school at six and finished just at the end of primary school. His father was out of work for some of the 1930s and they were adept catchers and eaters of rabbits. In World War Two Lou was captured in Greece and spent several years as a prisoner of war. The nightmares of what he had experienced never left him and became particularly menacing in his later years.

Lou came back to Greymouth after the war a changed man, the cliche which is only a cliche because no one was lucky enough to come back unscathed. He married a lovely young woman called Mary, the daughter of a sawmiller father and a strict Methodist mother. Mary is also my Dad's cousin.

Mary and Lou made a new life, a life which they wanted and which the country desperately wanted. The sorrow was not over - they buried their first child only five days after he was born. Only, Mary…


I had aims to write something more extended and reflective about gender, class and dangerous work this week. The debate about extractive industries is so often framed around corporate interests (I'm talking about from a supposedly left wing perspective here, not just from the right), and does not, in my opinion, look at the opportunities and costs from the perspective of men looking for manual work. I think the concerns of the 'green' movement often arise from people who earn their living at quite some remove from that basic need to find something raw that can be sold for quite a lot of money. On the West Coast, danger money is a feature of all well paid manual work and the days of strong unions are largely gone. The strongest was/is the miners' union. The contractual nature of much logging at the moment seems to leave workers very vulnerable. Women are a strong presence in manual jobs on the coast, but the hours required by logging, mining and fishing deter peop…

Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham is the most fabulous movie I have seen in ages. I think it might be the only movie I have seen in months but that is beside the point; it is fantastic. I loved the storyline and it was so uplifting to be involved in an exciting quest for justice which was successful. Voyeuristically of course, but it is quite a contrast to the impotency we have felt in our town as our men lay buried down the mine.

Back to Made in Dagenham, the story of women machinists fighting for equal pay, a fight which went all the way to Westminster and prompted equal pay legislation. The movie sexed up the story no end, with the workers mostly young and super sexy and with fabulous wardrobes. The footage of the estate looked just like where I worked in 2002, most likely because I was working in Dagenham. Some of the class and bullying stuff in the film didn't seem to have changed nearly enough 20 years later. There is a part of my heart which will always be in England and I loved that …

We will live

It was a beautiful service today. Thousands of people and scarcely a sound, even before it started. I loved Helen Wilson's poem, We will live. She captured our feelings perfectly. I hope it is publsihed somewhere as I would like to keep it, to read it again and again.

It was hot. A hot hot day and it has scarcely rained (in West Coast terms) since the second explosion, and no proper rain since the first. I thought about Hone Tuwhare's poem Rain tonight as I watered the garden. Part of me longs, paradoxically given the season, for rain. Gallons and buckets and at least a whole day of heavy rain. It feels like it would be cleansing, though we've not sinned or sullied as such. The rain of the West Coast is what produces the lovely ferns which were shared and placed today. It is the fire in the heart of the mine which burns our men up even now and the persistent sun is an echo.

I had held back from visiting, fearing to overload an already burdened family and then gi…


Quarantine continued today. My daughter was not impressed. She wanted to go to kindy and paint pictures. So she sourced some aqueous cream and painted this on the cupboard door:
She also painted aqueous cream all over her body but I declined to photograph that.

I used the vacuum cleaner. She ran away and although I would have preferred to run also, I held onto my adult self and vacuumed.

Weeding, planting, mulching. Brighid planted a tomato by herself. Watching her carefully take the seedling from the pot and plant it correctly from through the window, I think I might be raising another gardener.
Dill. Especially for the beneficial insects. I think it is beautiful.
My ANZAC poppies. Tomorrow we will remember our 29 men trapped beneath the Pike River Mine.
Tonight the supermarket was full. Only without the festivities usually associated with extra people stocking up. Our town is not full for a forthcoming wedding or musical concert or sports game. Our town is full and our hearts…