Steve Austin super hero

Steve Austin lives in Wetville. You may recall the six million dollar man but I can tell you that our local Steve is far more useful than that.

At least I hope he comes up trumps again this week. Steve fixes electrical appliances and I have a broken washing machine for the zillionth time this century.

I suppose it serves me right for washing curtains. Surely there are better things to do with my life.

This year I am having some fruit progress in the garden. Other years have been pathetic fruitwise. Brighid and I have been scoffing strawberries and blackcurrants most days. The blackcurrants are so lovely ripened on the bush that no sugar is needed (useful when you eat them standing by the bush).

One neighbour, who declined to talk to us for the first four years we lived here, today offered us his glut of lemons and said there would be grapes for us later in the season. I caressed my jaw gently so as not to be too obvious in rescuing it from its floorward descent and thanked him very much. Life is obviously much better than focusing on that damned expensive washing machine would suggest.

In the absence of anything interesting or sustained or thoughtful from me this month, can I suggest some online gems I have been reading?

1. Reading the Maps has a beautiful piece on the Maungakawas in the Waikato, blending history, personal story and politics in a way I like a great deal. I have toyed with writing in a similar vein on the 19th century Central Otago women I 'excavated' in the 1990s. But when I return to my thesis and my note cards on each woman (I ditched all my secondary source notes but could not bear to ditch my cards, the products of hundreds of hours of attempting to recreate the lives of hiterto unknown women), I am too frustrated by the narrow range of information, shoved into the usual dichotomous good and bad women frameworks. Although my subject matter is quite different, Maps may have prompted me to try again soon.

2. The Hand Mirror, repository of so much that I love, has an article on Easy Targets: the recession and sole parent bashing. I suggest you read the comments as well, especially the ones on gift law changes and the impact on family trusts and divorce settlements.

3. A new blog, brought to me courtesy of The Hand Mirror, is Hazel Parson. All three posts so far are interesting. The light shone green for keep watching-this-blog in her first post:

A bit about me: I'm a New Zealander, I'm fiercely interested in politics, I'd describe myself as left-wing but don't necessarily think that means much, and I like analysing things. ... I really want to know what makes people believe that their opinions are right, and I enjoy deconstructing ideas to see what makes them tick (or if they tick at all). ...

An example of what I believe: there is no such thing as a good idea that doesn't work in practice. At best, an idea which doesn't work in practice has the potential for being a good idea if a lot of research, testing, and analysis is done. (This sort of thinking makes me spectacularly bad at idealist politics of any kind. I always always always want to know how things are going to work in practice, right down to details about how and where and who by information will be held after the form is sent in. Idealism, when I've encountered it, usually focusses on big-picture stuff, and I don't like plans in soft focus.)

Amidst the hand wringing of 'proper' socialists (do rightwingers argue like lefties about purity of approach or are they too busy making money and exploiting tax loop-holes?) about the yuf of today, lots of us under forty are trying to work things out from a perspective which we dare to call left wing.

4. Real books? None this month. The library fines are too scary. Maybe I'll go on payday. I have been poring over the latest Organic NZ magazine. The lovely Annie Stuart who I used to flat with and study history with (I was a terrible flatmate with an awful boyfriend hanging round being awful and Annie was a fantastic cook) has written an interesting article on the history of the organics movement in New Zealand. It began as The Humic Composting Club. I found an example of a humic composting club when I cleaned behind my son's bed in the weekend. I think we will ban late night bananas for the forseeable future.

Tomorrow the children go to my parents for the rest of the week. oooooooooooooooooooh. A pic from the boys' trip camping:


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