Showing posts from February, 2011

gardening fever

Never mind peak oil; we've a winter of expensive vegetables to plan against, not to mention the possibility of further seismic disruptions. Today I finished eating the red clover sprouts and began sprouting red cabbage seeds.

Outside, I laid two beer traps for the slugs. I weeded where the seeding parsley and pansies were more messy than productive and sowed coriander (all fingers crossed, in a low slugs garden bed) and rocket. In other vacant spots I sowed more rocket plus some mesclun. Brighid and I came home from the garden centre with lobelia for her garden, spinach and celery. My celery is still succumbing to disease so I'm planting the new lot a long way from the current plants.

Favourite Handyman arrived home with a huge bag of untreated wood shavings. It is all in the chook run at the moment, but tomorrow I need to take some out and add to the compost along with the bags of donkey poo.

We also bought daffodil bulbs and a new watering can. This one is metal so I hop…

Blackberries and elderflowers

A friend from Christchurch posted on facebook last night of how grateful she felt that they (her family) had water and electricity, were all together, had cooked and shared a meal. She posted that she felt both grateful and simultaneously guilty. I remember that feeling most strongly from the days and weeks after the Pike River disaster. Now, as I look out the kitchen window at our garden and lawn and chooks, as I sleep well each night, disturbed only once by an aftershock on Friday night, I feel so lucky, a word stronger than lucky which I cannot find (if it exists).

I feel a big responsibility to make our place as earthquake ready as possible, to prepare for emergencies and maintain our house rather than go on holidays. I bought a large food grade plastic bucket from Simplifoods (used to be Binn Inn and still same kind of bulk buying shop) on Thursday. It once held golden syrup and now will hold (to be filled today) 28 litres of water for emergency supplies. I'…

One foot in front of the other, walking thanks for being alive

What I did today:
Took all the glass down from the very top cupboards and took almost all of it to the dump. Bought some more bread for the freezer and some sterilising tablets. Cleaned some plastic bottles and gave some to Mary K for her emergency water supplies. The hardest thing for me personally about yesterday was finding Mary K shaking with fear beside the radio, listening to the news of the quake and unable to reach any of her family who live in Christchurch. Thankfully, within the next two hours we found that they were all safe. Not everyone has had such assurance. I know that my cousins are all okay but the stress for my aunty was such that she is now in Chch hospital, having suffered a heart attack last night.

Back to today. I went to the supermarket and grabbed some more bread while I could. Last night I spent up big time at the supermarket - $340 is an enormous shop for us. I was grateful that I could, that we have financial resources to enable us to prepare (and al…

Safe and sound in Wetville

We were running late this afternoon and luckily had not left home when the big quake hit (we felt it quite strongly here). So we are still on the West Coast, safe and thinking of everyone we know and those we don't in Christchurch. Thought I would post quickly for any regular readers who knew we were leaving today.

Peace as the sun goes down

The rational part of me knows I am not the only parent to watch her children sleeping, to cross myself in the manner of my earliest prayers and worry half the night about a forthcoming challenge for the child I still remember birthing to the sound of the waves, in front of the fire.

To do all this and be tired and cranky the next day and subject the same beloved children to my short temper.

This afternoon I finally lay down and got some sleep and my perspective has improved so much since then. After dinner I watered the garden, weeded around the parsley, cut back the tansy, noticed the lemon verbena did not die but is thriving, found another pumpkin (tiny but exciting still), ate some tomatoes straight from the plant and transplanted six lettuces.

Back inside and at the computer, I read Wild Crafty's review of the book Eco Colour by India Flint and had a wee squiz at two of the linkedsites. I feel completely uplifted by reading this review. Although the knitting in my hands as I …


Project one. The image is from the pattern front (Burda 8308). I've cut out the pattern and fabric and threaded the machine.
Project two. The blue poncho, already renamed the blue capelet, because they are shorter. The Reader's Digest fan stitch goes:
row 1: *(K2tog) 3 times, (yfwd, K1) 6 times, (K2tog) 3 times*
rows 2 and 4: purl
rows 3, 5 and 6: knit
multiple of 18 stitches

I did a swatch with two needles and that came out most encouragingly. I like the scalloped cast on edge, which is why I set out to make a poncho/capelet from the bottom up. Then I cast on 180 stitches on circular needles. I'm only on row four and I've got my numbers out twice and forgot that knitting in the round means carry on in knit stitch to get a stocking stitch effect. But I'm going to carry on and learn from it as I go. It's not going in an A & P show competition.

I'm quite rattled by the prospect of Brighid having surgery. This making of dolls' clothes for her is one…

Doll's pyjamas

When I was five and a half, my Mum made me a new set of sheets for my doll's cradle. It was very beautiful, and my friend Marija and I admired them. I took my doll, her cradle and new sheets with me to stay with Marija and her family for a couple of weeks. I was spoilt rotten there, with cute little notes in my lunch box and a friend to play with every day after school. One day the telephone rang with the news that I had a baby sister and she had black hair. I can still remember standing in the dining room in Tahunanui, hearing that news. Mum had new baby kit and so did I...

This memory came back to me tonight when my daughter asked about pyjamas for her doll. Next week we have to travel to Christchurch to see a medical specialist about her foot and surgery, whether next week or at a later date, is very likely. I recall there is a doll's clothes pattern in the half price rack at our local Bernina shop and have promised we can go and look tomorrow. I'm aiming to mak…

Judith Binney

"This is not a history of the faith. I have written a biography, but it is not conceived as though there is a single understanding of its subject and his significance." - Judith Binney, Redemption Songs: A Life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki, 1995, p.1.

Last night I read online of Judith Binney's death. I read the tribute to Binney's important historical work from Reading the Maps which he wrote when she was in hospital over a year ago after being hit by a vehicle. The news transported me back to 1995. Following the romantic invitation of a handsome young man I'd met in Dunedin a few months earlier, I'd waited tables for the devil at the Christchurch casino in between tutoring and researching for my thesis and thrown the dosh at a ticket to Auckland. He was a nice fellow but the romance was short lived. But what remains in my memory most strongly is a visit into the Ureweras we made on that trip north. We travelled on the train to Mount Maunganui, wh…

Home life

I dug some bokashi in today. I'm managing to fit some gardening in more than once per fortnight in fine weather, which is an improvement on last year. I think bokashi is an excellent cheap compost and although I wouldn't splash out on it if I had got the chooks first, having both is perfect. Now that our compost is under plastic, it isn't getting the water it used to get and it does seem a little dry. So I topped the bottom bokashi bucket up with water and tipped half of it on the compost. By my calculations, this should do marvellous things for the compost and if not, then I will learn to recalculate.

Brighid and I made our third visit to A & E this morning (Wednesday) and this afternoon she had an ultrasound, escorted by Favourite Handyman. The results are being sent to Christchurch and we have to go back to A & E on Friday. The possibility of an aneurism in the artery is being discussed, based on the ultrasound and she is in a pressure bandage for the next…

On clothing and big busts.

This morning I read a post on clothing for big busts and feminism. I'm not here to take issue with that specific post; as I type, the comments count stands at 45 and no doubt will rise further, so there is a forum at The Hand Mirror if anyone wishes to debate the issues around feminism and a facebook thumbs up to a clothing shop which offers clothing for smaller women with larger busts. (I am deliberately using the term 'bust' rather than any alternatives given the nature of google searches)

But the link to a shop called Emma dovetailed nicely into some things I have been researching of late. The clothes on her website look pretty, not anything I expect to fit, and indeed smaller than my size. I'm not bothered by that - why would I pick one shop out of the majority of shops purporting to sell clothes for New Zealand women? But when the Wellington Young Woman's Collective published this on their fb page:
Hey ladies, here is a shop I discovered in Berhampore toda…

Down with convolvulus

Down with convolvulus, creeping buttercup and slugs. Arise, the new garden bed: globe artichokes, New Zealand cranberry, garlic chives, thyme and oregano. Around all of this I have sown alyssum. Everything is transplanted (mostly divided up) from other parts of the garden except the NZ cranberry. I bought one of these a few years ago but made the mistake of planting it on a corner where the children were forever falling off their bikes directly onto it. So for the princessly sum of $5.95 plus a lot of weeding and digging labour, I have a lovely new garden bed. The poles and hoops are from when I first created this plot three years ago and had ideas of growing peas and beans up it. They never worked but it's more hassle to take them off than to work with them now.

The house the children built

Staving off complete lunacy, we wrapped up the most essential jobs this afternoon, shut the door on the world of work despite its knocking, and headed inland. We stopped at Kotuku School, where an enlightened teacher in the 1930s helpd the (primary school) children to build their own miniature house. More details here, as once again I forgot the camera. The building, and a little museum of photographs and maps beside it, survives.

If you get the opportunity to visit Kotuku School one Sunday afternoon, Mr O'Brien will no doubt be as obliging as he was once again to us. Whereas we carried Brighid in our arms last time, this time she headed off down the paddock to feed the horses a carrot. If the historic places in your patch of countryside don't also offer carrots-to-horse feeding, then I expect you will feel bereft. You could try moving to the West Coast, especially if you like rain.

Then, for dinner, we went to the Station House Cafe which has a view of this:
Tonight was m…

The lucky one sighs. Ineloquently and uncharitably.

Today I am reminded of the particular pressures of a society under economic stress. Favourite Handyman has been at work for more hours this week than I care to add up, including all of today (Saturday) and I will admit to much sighing as I find myself running the house and the jobs he usually does and caring for children who miss their Dad and require some empathetic distraction rather than my more usual directive that they should go outside and make their own fun.

But as we caught up with friends in the library this morning, one of whom continues to hunt for work, so far without success, I had to appreciate the security we currently enjoy in our home workwise and the pressures which are universal: time but little money or money but little time. Living on the West Coast has allowed FH and to live out our priority of having one of us mostly at home with the children; I'm glad there is so much about our life here which makes it worthwhile.

Some small achievements to remind me that l…

I am here for my father

I need to run off and be superwoman (or that's how this week feels) but before I go, check Metiria Turei's speech out:

I am here for my father

I have gone off the Greens in recent years, but this speech is the best and most moving auythentic thing I have read/heard out of parliament in a very long time. I just hope we can indeed do something to create a society with dignity for ordinary working people.

Also, for posterity, I began to tackle the most overgrown part of the garden yesterday. Holding on to the garden moments as precious amidst the rest of the busy-ness.

green and promising

New swimming bags for two children. Brighid wasn't so interested in showing off their sewing structure, more in posing a la Christmas. But there ain't much to show off in terms of a sewn rectangle anyways.
These are lemons. Not in itself momentuous, except that they are OUR lemons! We have never been this successful on the lemon growing front before. There is a huge crop for one rather small tree. Any thoughts on whether I should cull to improve the nutrients available to a smaller number?
A few weeks ago I noticed that this kale plant had been stripped completely bare by cabbage butterfly caterpillars. But the new growth in the middle shows I was right not to give up.
Very fine specimens of tomato don't you think? I am hoping they will turn red before winter.
This is the one that got away. I had been checking the zucchini plant from the other side and completely missed this one. For weeks by the looks of this marrow.

This all looks like a serene and happy day. Parts …

button necklace

A button necklace for our girl with the cut foot. Brighid chose the buttons and I did the threading and plaiting. Yes that is grub all over her top. I considered not posting the photo for that reason and then I remembered I'm not that kind of blog. Sunny days, exquisite crafting and an immaculate house are not to be found here. We spent part of last night at A & E but she has picked up a lot this afternoon and I'm hoping the wound is glass free. The doctor/nurse didn't have any special equipment for checking for residual glass beyond what we did at home, but the volume of blood and depth of the cut meant I'm glad I did opt for a trip to A & E.

In other news, it has been raining. A lot. For days. I sewed up one sleeve of the never ending purple cardigan today. Even the sewing up seems to be taking for ever.

That's it. I'm off to bed to read Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan). I could be drafting a letter to the braodcasting standards authority about the…


In surprise evidence that anyone in Wetville is not thinking about rugby league , I have been knitting and reading about knitting. I am sewing up the never ending purple cardigan and could be wearing it as early as this coming week. That would make it only 12 months in the making...

Given the steep learning curve I've had on fitting and altering sewing patterns, I had a wee google on the same for knitting patterns this afternoon. I found this set of tutorials: Fit to Flatter. Wow - one very clever and helpful knitter and teacher.

This morning I took Fionn down to the special kids league session with the Warriors. I took heaps of photos and every single one of them is terrible. Do let me know if you want some pictures of headless league players, or their shoulders. This afternoon Favourite Handyman took him to the big game which he loved, and I chopped onions and prepared spuds and kumara for tomorrow's hangi. I resisted all offers of wine as last night I had two and a bi…

eleven days

I managed eleven days without a drink. Tonight's lapse was hardly an alcoholic bender, just a beer with fish and chips. This back to work and school and kindy and making lunches very early in the morning is a rude shock to our holidayed systems. Tonight, home at 5.30 after a long meeting, takeaways and beer seemed a mild response to my fatigue.

Anyway, enough whinging. Some things are fantastic. The car is going to get a warrant tomorrow. Well that is what I fondly imagine, given the amount of time and money involved in getting four new tyres, ball somethings, indicator covers or lights and door hinges lifted. None of that deals with the fact that when it rains, the seal has gone and raindrops land on the driver, but I guess that is not dangerous and I'm sure we have spent enough on this car this fortnight. When the system registers the warrant as a pass, then I can pay lots of money, almost $300 in fact, to register the car for 12 months. After that Brighid and I are …