Showing posts from 2011

Time for the hillbillies to head north

I've made acres of shortbread. I've spent lots of afternoons with my elderly cousin, and mornings and evenings emailing her children. I've wrapped the little niece presents. I've stocked up on chook food and arranged the chook feeding roster. I've washed and folded a lot of clothes and written five Christmas cards. Today we celebrated Brighid's final kindy days with a play dough cake and some special kindy rituals. We gave the kindy the three dress up skirts and they loved them. So special they are going in the box with the musical instruments (!). I got another special kindy certificate for my contribution. Apparently they are only rarely handed out. I got one when Fionn left as well. Between the two experiences, I've managed to never ever wield a broom at tidy up time, so really I'm a cheat. A successful one. This time they wanted to thank me for my efforts with the dress-ups for Christchurch kindies after the February earthquake. With F…

sangria summer

I've had a brilliant weekend. Barbecues and sleep ins and a 40th birthday party and gardening and sewing. I weeded various spots, dug in bokashi, divided and replanted rhubarb, and planted aquilegia, bergamot, a daisy and another plant which was irresistible at a stall yesterday but I have no recall of its name now. I planted a chilli and there is more to plant out yet.

I finished bag number one for last night's birthday party and T seemed to really like it. I really liked her sangria. I'm possibly inspired to have a 40th birthday party maybe. But I am definitely inspired to make and drink more sangria this summer.

I made a bag for me today, which should put an end to carrying my keys and wallet and not having enough hands for everything. I've considered making a new dress (the floral curtain Colette crepe of course) but as we leave in less than 72 hours, I'm thinking that making about 100 more pieces of Christmas shortbread, packing holiday things and reacqu…


It's a blur currently. I spend my days and nights baking biscuits and sewing presents and looking after small children and old ladies and occasionally I go to work but thankfully not often. Periodically I look up and find no food and no magicians to cook meals and today I ended up buying lunch in town and later on both McDonalds and KFC for various meals which could collectively count as an evening meal. So it does sound rather good that this morning I handed in some beautiful home made shortbread and a card with a photo of my children on the front of it to the staff at Fionn's school to thank them for the entirety of this year plus last night's fabulous school concert. But don't be fooled. Chaos lurks round the side of all this season of craziness activity.
Brighid has only one week left of kindy. I've been turning remaindered curtain samples into dressups for kindy. Above is the gold version modelled as a cape. Below, the same item as a skirt. As you may …

Christmas carnival


Prize for float having the most fun: the Pasifika float.

Prize for most dour: the Salvation Army float.

Prize for event I beamed at most: the kapa haka group which Fionn performed in.

Prize for children who lost their balloons more than thirty times: Fionn and Brighid.

Prize for the group which made me think of my uncle the most: the Pipe Band. Uncle Ron stopped short of smoking a cigarette at the exact same time he blew his bagpipes, but I was always amazed as a child watching him talk with a cigarette in the side of his mouth, killing a few more lung cells in the breaks at the Pipe Band competitions.

Prize for most interesting side display: the vintage cars. Though the steam powered traction engine from Shantytown and the Wiggles car vied for most popular vehicle in the actual parade.

Perfect Thursday


Today was perfect. As my tired children eventually stumbled out of their beds, I gave Fionn the option of going to school late (once I'd bought, mixed and applied the new eczema strategy ingredients after our health consultation with Laksmi last night) or of having the day off. I've got enough idea of what goes on in schools in December to discount the notion that he was missing utterly crucial learning. In terms of applying creams and lotions and feeding quality food, a day off was the perfect health remedy.

So I had a mummy day with both of my children (and with Brighid's special friend R from lunchtime onwards) and it was fantastic. They played a zillion different games, re-enacted scenes from Dora, dressed up in everything from the dressup box and generally had a blast. I fed them, laughed at and with them and finally (finally finally, rather late) sowed my potatoes. We dropped off some eggs to a friend who had gifted me lots of clothes for Brighid in the weekend…

A tribute to Julie Fairey

Once upon a time I was a stroppy child. I told my Dad with confidence that one day I would be prime minister. The daughter of parents with a strong work ethic and a strong marriage, I spent some of my teenage years planning to get out of small town life and to live radically differently to my parents. I assumed I would earn lots of money and sleep on Sheridan sheets. I certainly wouldn't be doing such embarassing things as sewing two old sheets together to make one serviceable one and I assumed that if I had children, they would fit into my career. Which would of course be very successful.

Much later Mum said (maybe not to me, maybe even filtered through my sister) that she thought I looked down on her when I was a teenager because she didn't have a career. Interesting comment. I didn't look down on Mum. Despite her only being five foot nothing, you just don't look down on my mother. She is the strongest of strong people and I have not seen grown men quake in t…

Broad bean pesto

Three days ago I had minor surgery to remove two cysts from my back and shoulder. I'm guarding against infection with loads of vitamin C. Apart from the pain, I've loved and appreciated having Favourite Handyman cook the meals and look after me. I've also been spoilt by friends helping with childcare and dropping by with pumpkin pie, biscuits and a meal. It doesn't get much luckier.

I bought a convalescing treat in the form of the NZ Gardener's Homegrown Flowers book. It's a very romantic take on flowers - no strelitzias with cactus here. It's a perfect read for the circumstances, and I've been arranging and rearranging new flower ideas for my garden in my head as I pore over each and every page. I am loving the cosmos which I bought as seedlings and which is flowering now, so I'm most pleased to learn that it is easy to grow from seed. Unsurprisingly, I've had the Kings Seed Catalogue out as well.

Favourite Handyman mowed the lawn yester…

It's all about Saturday

Mary K has been central to me feeling part of Wetville. When we moved here almost six years ago, people asked me suspiciously why we'd moved here. They often followed up with "Do you have family here?" At first I said no not really, just some distant relatives. But after an uneasy sense that moving here without family ties could put me in the league of rehoused paedophiles, I started to say, "Yes, I've got cousins here."

I remember the day Mum drove Fionn and I over to Greymouth. Mum filled me in on Mary and Lou, as I could only dimly remember them from large family gatherings, most of them a long time ago. A couple of weeks later, I rang in advance and then called round with Fionn for afternoon tea. It was the beginning of a special relationship. Mary and Lou have lived their entire lives on the coast. The only substantial time Lou was away was during World War Two, and he spend most of that in a Prisone of War camp. The only time Mary has been aw…

Goodnight Irene

Last night I went to a play called Goodnight Irene, put on by Kiwi Possum Productions and inspired by the deaths at Pike River 12 months ago. Attendance was by invitation only, and I think that was wise as the media circled Greymouth this weekend looking for a story, us as objects to feed their ratings. I really enjoyed the play and I am so proud that Greymouth has the talent to put on community theatre like this.

There is naught so interesting as compost for a keen gardener. Yesterday we bought a new compost bin. For the first few years I made a pile under the big tree and hoped for the best. It worked okay, but then it got invaded by perennial weeds and I decided there had to be a better way. About this time last year I bought a standard issue type compost bin for our grass clippings and the pea straw/chook poo which I take out of the coop (as mysteriously the chooks no longer want to roost at night, so they poo in the coop instead). It is making compost alright, but it is imp…


We all have the right to go to work in the morning and return home at the end of our shift. Remembering the 29 men who never left their shift at Pike River. We all have to fight to make sure our fellow New Zealanders are safe at their work places. I won't be forgetting next Saturday either.

Coffee table talk

Today I went to Westport. I went to Westport for work at 7.45 and didn't get back until after 6pm, home to dinner just cooked and served by Favourite Handyman and happy children. It was a nice change from the usual set up.

Out lunching in the slick metropolis of Westport, I saw Damien O'Connor meeting and greeting. Funny that, I saw him meeting and greeting at the Camerons Community Market only a week ago. Is there an election on or something? Damien didn't come talk to our table, but Scott Hamilton has a very interesting story on his blog today about when Labour candidate Carmel Sepuloni came to talk at his coffee table. Although to be accurate, she did nothing to deliberately talk to him, only his good wife. It is a disheartening story, though I wish I could feel more surprised.

Things I could do next: read an actual book. Cut out the next C-word dress. Fold more washing. Do dishes. Or read about other people's sewing online in a dreamy and unproductive mann…

diy in perspective

The day we moved in, approximately five years and 20 days ago, friends suggested things we could do to the house. Suggestions like knocking out walls and moving fireplaces and generally rearranging everything. I, like the timid wee wuss I can be at times, said I just wanted to do something about the enormous (to us) mortgage first up.

I've told the story of finding our furniture for the lounge at the local church fair too many times already. But only a couple of years later, one of the church ladies, in a valiant effort to engage me in small talk, asked if I'd recovered the furniture or replaced it yet.


A kind person at work asked me only four years after we bought the house what we'd done to it so far. What we've done is create a lot of garden and change almost nothing in the house. The kids ripped a lot of wallpaper off without permission, giving credence to the idea that bleeding heart liberals raise wild children without respect for authority. I ripped some …

feeding the soul

Brighid's photography is improving don't you think? Head, shoulders, rose, all in the centre-ish of the picture.
Brighid with the roses I grew from cuttings, the wandering Jew and the jerusalem artichokes.

Sometimes it is an idyllic retreat from organised life, a romantic view through dappled light.

Other times, the lawn needs mowing and everything needs weeding. Jersualem artichokes almost everywhere. I remember when everything was empty and filling any dream involved spending. Now, everything needs weeding but flowers feed my soul and vegetables feed my stomach.

Blog post of the day: Scott Hamilton at Reading The Maps on the significance of the tea party in Epsom.

Sewing for the C word.

I have almost finished one dress for the C word. Because it is a sundress with a halter neck, I can't get a decent photo until I have an awake child to model it. I need to press it, neaten the side seams (with zig zag; I cannot manage/face neatening by folding under and stitching with this fabric) and then hem it. The facing is an African print from Brixton, London, which I originally bought for babywearing. The lovely Toddy (who is now blogging at Credit Crunch Kitchen) taught me how to wrap Fionn in it in the traditional African style. I loved learning, and in my time I loved a bit of babywearing, but I didn't get confident enough to wear him in this fabric beyond the initial experimentation. The denim fabric is a gift from the also lovely Susan (who I wish would post more of her superb photos here). I think that maybe possibly if the time Gods shine on me (rare), I will make a bag to go with the dress and the bag will be print on the outer and denim lining. Even so, …

Seed saving

The kale seeds. I recalled instructions on seed saving as involving picking the pods when they were nearly ready to burst and putting them somewhere warm in a paper bag. So that is what I did. I didn't have the inclination to check on whether my reading memory was accurate. Today is clearly a super green day, because the paper bag started out at the fabric shop. Once it had finished carrying my latest lot of interfacing, then it became my shopping list and now it is my seed bag. Although we have a foil wrap around our hot water cylinder, it is still warmer than other cupboards. Those are my socks for the record, though they always make me think of my Dad, a lifelong Crusaders fan.

Brighid is learning to take photos. This is better than the one of my long black skirt beside the water stained cupboard door and the one of the wall where there used to be wallpaper before she ripped it off.
Today I also planted beans. I dug out the old kale plants and then dug compost and dolomi…

garden & sewing

Purple sprouting broccoli gone to seed.
Globe artichoke and borage
Calendulas and red poppies

Peas and roses after the rain.The birthday gift for our wee friend H who turns two this month. I used Tiny Happy's tutorial. I scaled it down to about two thirds (leaving the bag height a bit bigger than two thirds). I used some remaindered curtain samples. The only bit which was difficult was joining the handles at the top and I think that would be easier with different fabric. This kind was both sticky and slippery to sew - yes both of those at the same time.

Yesterday I bought a clematis, a jasmine (a non-invasive cultivar apparently), more beans, more basil, more celery, some quash slug pellets and a funky miniature tree-like succulent. I haven't done anything about planting any of them yet because I am keeping myself and my runny nose inside and sewing instead. After I finished the bag, I cut out the fabric for C-word project number one, which is to make a sundress (New Look 6…

Fontana number 77

At yesterday's church fair, amidst a groaning table of books, was an old manilla folder of knitting patterns. It was taped up, and I felt sure that the very secrecy of it, the fact I couldn't see what was within, indicated that there would be treasure within. I had to have it.

Most of it will go to the Sallies. If I want patterns from the 1970s onwards, I have access to Mum's stash. But it is this book, which I think is from the 1950s, which has captured my imagination.

Apologies for the photography. The blue is my dressing gown. I am having a dressing gown day, in which I refuse to leave the house or indeed do much more than mollycoddle myself out of my streaming nose state through the use of large amounts of ginger and tissues.

This is the one I first liked best.
The cables on this are even better, but I would want to change the neck to a scoop. In fact, if I could change the neck to a scoop, this would be the perfect jersey.

This is the other good option, but without …

The weekend light

Today I have looked after people with (variously) worms, eczema, dementia, the first serious exams of their lives looming, sore throat lurgies, sibling rivalry, a need for red wine and a need for me to make a plate for a shared lunch.

The need for the red wine was mine. I looked after it well. I think I did okay on the other stuff, but by evening I was confident I had earned my booze.

Tomorrow is the annual Camerons Community Market. I've been saving my change for it all week as each year there is a wonderful stall by two women who grow lots of plants from cuttings. Last year I bought gooseberries, redcurrants and grapes. This year I'm hoping to get some clematis, as the one I had given up on two years ago is flowering and it has given me renewed hope. The only problem with the clematis which has decided to survive after all is that a big cabbage tree has practically flown up in front of it. The Trinity Church Fair is also on which makes it a double red letter day. Five …

The right to return home alive

I was immensely flattered to be included in the 42nd Down Under Feminists' Carnival for this post on Food, fear and power. The post is actually from October 2010 and, such is the drivel I have been writing lately, I had to double check it was my work. I've hardly posted lately because I'd like to get back to writing more intelligently. Today I came to the conclusion that this wasn't improving the quality of my writing; rather it was freezing me from writing at all and as I do like to blog and I thought it time to get back in the saddle, low grade musings it is tonight.

The musings might be low grade, but I don't think all of my topics are low grade. I've been thinking about privacy and the poor. With an election just days away, beneficiaries and the working poor are being discussed like so many irritating and sometimes filthy obejcts in the media. High income earners don't get lumped together and discussed as a problem. While even National Radio liste…


I've been cleaning. In order to clean, I had to pick things up. In order to still have space to put feet, bags, even bodies, I had to put the things away. Sometimes opening the doors to away spaces is like opening Pandora's box. Sometimes, when I've been cleaning for more than a few minutes, particularly when it gets up to hours, I become particularly open to distraction.

So I now have a clean wardrobe. The slippers which broke irreparably more than three years ago are now in the rubbish. The broken sandals which happen to date back to my university years are also in the rubbish. The dust is now in the rubbish. The clothes are all on hangers.

I have washed and dried and folded a LOT of washing. I've gotten quite good at folding laundry this year, even if I say so myself. No longer do guests arrive only to be directed to a chair in the lounge as the couch is covered in clean, unfolded washing. There was a legitimate request from a voting age member of the hou…

shortbread & gardening

I've given up sewing. I got up early today and began more work on my yellow Colette crepe dress. Yesterday I had to resew both seams on the armhole facings but I managed to fix them. Today I discovered that the facings for the neck don't match the dress - they are out by about two centimetres. Given that this is only out of a sheet and as I'm less convinced that I love this pattern on me after all, is probably going to be only for wearing round home, I decided to pack it away. I will pick up sewing again sometime, as I have some things to make for birthdays and maybe even the C word, but no more sewing for me for a while.

I thought I'd get cracking on this cleaning the house lark, only I got as far as hanging the washing out and didn't come in for hours, except to eat. The washing line is a useful escape route to the garden. I cleaned up the chicken coop, changed their water, gave them many many snails and slugs which I collected as I gardened and even a pott…


My favourite sister in law and brother in law are visiting in just six days time. This is wonderful. There is that not so small glitch in between in which we have to magically transform the house into a place with space to put things. Like feet. "We" means what it usually means round here and so I am in avoidance. Instead, I emptied almost all of the mending & altering pile and sewed some more of the Colette crepe yellow dress. I came back from Auckland with some clothes which used to be my Mother in Law's and I'm slowly making them mine, whether by pairing them with different things to make them 'mine' or by adjusting them to fit better. I opened up the waist band on two skirts and resewed the elastic more tightly and fixed a couple of holes on the skirt which I like best. As for the Colette crepe, I am a bit sick of it hanging around. Much as I love dresses, I don't think I'll be sewing any more in the near future once this one is done.


Garden: I went outside with a torch and a small container last night and found three large snails at work on my vegetables in the punga raised bed. No doubt they are responsible for the annihilation of the beans.

Chooks: These ones have been unkeen on being caught after a session outside the poultry palace so I've hardly let them out at all. But tonight I trialled letting them out not long before dusk to see if it was much easier to return them to the palace. It was.

Kitchen: I tried the greek pumpkin spread for my ten new meals project. It was awful pumpkin and too much fennel. I am going to try it again with decent pumpkin, no fennel and maybe even some coriander in it. I made pizza from scratch tonight. I haven't done that for ages, certainly not since Dominos Pizza moved into Wetville. But as, most irritatingly, there are more days until payday than is ideal, I opted to make it at home. It was better than the bought stuff and did leave room to buy some wine.


The 99% and a personal biography of class

Some very interesting stories about the effects of rolling 99% of people together:
Megan's story on her blog Craft is the New Black. I loved reading her story and I totally endorse her call for all stories to be heard.

Megan cited her inspiration as this piece by Tiger Beatdown called The Percentages: A Biography of Class. It is brilliant. I loved every short and every long sentence in it. I may have to buy a new printer so I can print this out and stick on my wall. When she writes about middle class students seeing the working class as an idea, I was nodding furiously, right back at university remembering the way unions were exalted as the pure and wonderful way forward for working class men (tactics for making working class women invisible were widely practised and could be a post by itself). It didn't entirely square with my memories of watching the TV news in scared silence to find out if Dad would go back to work the next day or not. That's silence while Dad list…

Labour Day at Blackball

Yesterday I went up to Blackball for Labour Day celebrations. It was fantastic. I was completely humbled by the awesome job Denise had done on the care workers' exhibition. I was pleased that my small contribution of Brenda's story was there because I am so proud of what Brenda does for our community. But the story Denise had woven with her information on care throughout the last 100 years or so was both fascinating to me and clearly very engaging to the people who were there and who had been through earlier in the weekend.The very talented local artist Tony Manuel has made a beautiful carving for our building which you can see in the photo above.
The choir was fabulous as always.

I felt sad that I wasn't able to do more for this project as I enjoyed the afternoon talking with lots of wonderful people and admiring what has been achieved in recent years on this site. You can see the memorial wheel for the Pike River 29 behind the choir. At the same time, I have to…
We won the Rugby World Cup! I've got the kids into bed after a memorable 80 minutes watching the game I must have first seen when I could barely lift my head by myself.

I'm so pleased for so many people whom I love and who love rugby and love the All Blacks. I especially am pleased in memory of a woman who adored the All Blacks. I don't have a literal vision of an afterlife where my Mother in Law could watch from the heavens but I do have a sense of pleasure that her great desire for the ABs to win this world cup has been realised.

Other news seems to pale by comparison, but we did have a wonderful few days in Wellington, where the kids enjoyed riding on buses, the cable car, a rugby world cup simulation activity and Te Papa and I loved all that plus catching up with my friends whom we stayed with. The children were a bit fatigued and Fionn had asthma, so we took it easy and I even forswore the fabric shops because the kids were tired.

I've been gardening. I weeded r…