Monday, March 28, 2011

Grown up kids

In which we went for a drive to Hoki and the kids chose books from the second hand book shop (I got some for Brighid that I had loved as well - Noel Streatfield's Thursday's Child, Black Beauty the abridged version and some more Enid Blyton) and then we went to a cafe and the kids read their books and/or played with the toy box and they were fantastically behaved. Oh wow. Parenting kids who are getting bigger definitely has perks. Yeah I know I've jinxed it now, but it was still a great afternoon yesterday.

She is happy again, and soon we'll have those hollows round her eyes gone. The jersey, for knitters out there, was knitted by my Mum.

Spiderman comic.

Today was also fabulous. In addition to going to work, taking Fionn to the nurse, visiting my elderly cousin, making lunches and dinner and watching agog as Fionn pulled out his homework for the first time in nine weeks (his laxness and mine, not the teacher's), I also baked rhubarb and ginger cake, mended Fionn's pjs, took in the back of my Japanese print dress (sounds flash but actually $15 on sale at Postie Plus last year) to give it a bit more shape and slashed my nine year old Laura Ashley dress to change the neck and hem lines. That's what I can do with a weekend of sleep and time with Favourite Handyman and the wonderful joy of healthy children.

They need people for Fionn's school PTA. I don't want to do it. Comments on PTAs and moral obligations?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time perhaps, for Mary Poppins

Today, absolutely, was a lot better than the entire preceding week. This is because everyone ate, I prepared none of that food beyond a few sandwiches, and I had a day sleep. Nana nap, I believe some people call them. If I really was a nana though, unless the grandchildren were always with me, no young man would wake me up to show me his list of the Famous Five books he has read so far. That was leading somewhere, all the way to trademe, but I declined to follow his lead. Even with about thirty five interruptions, it was still a great day sleep. In the morning, the girl and I chose Mary Poppins at the library. Well, I did actually. I may need some self control not to read it all myself now she is in bed. It's been a while.

I read some nutritious books on food. I ogled some pattern reviews and classy blogs on sewing. But I maintained a considerable distance from such intensive activities as actually cooking or sewing. Favourite Handyman finished stacking the wood despite the rain and we were all home together and my little world felt good again.

Did you know how beautiful it is near where I live? I have favourited this spot between Westport and Karamea on my computer, hoping we will get there for a weekend soon. My next choice is this eco lodge not far from Tauranga Bay, south of Westport.

On the other side of the world but still on my computer screen, I found Miss Celie's Pants. Miss Celie has a great sewing blog and by the range of it, it is clear that she actually finishes more than one thing per year. Please, if you so fancy, check out her lemon yellow knit dress. She does indeed bottle the sun and put it in her dress and her blogging energy. My knit dress? Well I did move the fabric and pattern pieces from the lounge back to the study. No progress since the Wednesday before Brighid cut her foot, seven weeks ago.

Blowing everything else away: check out Sarah Kay's performance poetry here.

rehydration fluid

It has been a terrifying week. On Sunday night Brighid came down sick. By Wednesday night, we'd been to the doctor's twice, she'd thrown up countless times on multiple days, she'd eaten only part of a piece of toast in 72 hours and she had signs of very significant dehydration. I rang the medical centre and got through to what appears to be a national helpline as it was after hours. The advisor there (presumably a nurse) gave me an action plan to rehydrate her at home and said it was preferable to putting a needle in her at hospital.

Empty out your cooled boiled water from the jug into a clean container. Boil the jug with fresh water. In a small amount of that freshly boiled water, add 8 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dissolve and then use the cooled water to make up to a litre. Give two soup spoonsful to Brighid straight away and then again in five minutes. Wait ten minutes and give 2 more soup spoonsful and then give again after five minutes. Repeat until things are a LOT better. She said to feed her in spoonsful to make sure it goes down to where it is needed most, which sipping on a bottle or cup won't do in this situation. I will keep this advice with me forever.

Actually she did give me an amount to give before it was okay to let her sip as she needed to, but the haze took over and she slept in the middle. The difference the rehydration fluid made was wonderful.

On Thursday, we had the fluid thing going well, but no food and she was another day weaker. As I was on the verge of taking her to hospital in the late afternoon, I spoke again to the wonderful Laksmi who advised me she would be okay and to make raspberry leaf tea and add in thirds to juice and the rehydration mixture and it would be generally good for her and specifically stimulate her appetite. It WORKED! First she threw up (cue scary) and then she asked for an ice block, got out of bed of her own accord for the first time all week and started to perk up.

Friday (yesterday) she played outside and yet still lacked interest in food, beyond the smallest morsels. In the late afternoon we had an appointment with Laksmi which helped us both. She has a ways to go to recover, and when day breaks (it's 3.40am now), I'm going to make some more raspberry leaf tea and focus on building her up. The raspberry plants in my garden have never produced raspberries, but now I know why I've kept them, as they do produce leaves.

As she slept during the week, I read Isa Ritchie's thesis in its entirety. I loved it. The link in the last sentence includes Isa's offer to email her thesis to people interested. I recommend it. She is very good at linking theory to food and I learnt a lot. I had begun a post responding to her arguments about food praxis and dispraxis but that will have to wait. The recipe for rehydrating my daughter turned out to be the single most important food related thing I have learnt this week and just has to crowd everything else out. I also began in my head a post about the challenges of working, mothering and sick children. It may turn out too personal to write up. I've known all week that I am doing the most important thing - keeping my daughter alive and hopefully this coming week will involve returning her to good health. Everything else had to stop. But around me, not everything stops, because it can't, and I found that tough. What really really helped me was my wonderful friends Carolyn and Gayleen, who brought us soup and rang me and listened to the updates and kept me going. Thank you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday: gumboots and art competitions

Ten barrow loads of wood stacked. Four square metres weeded, limed and fertilised and planted with six cavolo nero seedlings, four celery seedlings, six lettuce seedlings and three spinach seedlings. Three art competitions judged (bounty: a sliding scale of tiny teddies for round one and sliding scales of animal biscuits for rounds two and three). One girl with streaming nose but still racing around trying to do everything her brother did. One bike ride in which my not-been-biking-for-a-loooong-time muscles squealed. Then one little girl increasingly unwell, now in bed hopefully sleeping off that feverish look. No work for me tomorrow - I'm not interfering with her need for uninterrupted morning sleep and maternal care.

Best go get some sleep while I can; parental night shift is likely to be busy.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dyeing with fire engine red

The wood arrived earlier this week and had to go under the tarpaulin because of the large quantities of rain this week. But today Favourite Handyman made a start on stacking it, as you can admire in the photo below. I'd better do some tomorrow given it isn't even half stacked yet. We would normally need to buy at least another truck on top of this, but I'm hopeful that the brickettes made of lime and coal finings will work well in our fire and I can stock up on those instead. They are much smaller and lighter than wood for the comparable amount of heat produced, so I could fill up the boot with them instead of paying for delivery.

Lovely flowers and foliage huh? Shame so much of it is on the ground. Even though this area supposedly has wind protection on four sides, it still gets battered.
Here in Wetville in a damp corner - the cactus and succulents garden is thriving.

Armed with Procion MX fire engine red, I decided to deal to my beige linen skirt. I bought this skirt in Dublin in 2002 and hardly wore it as I got pregnant almost immediately afterwards. I do recall ripping the lining on a bouncy castle once. I thought I was making an effort to dressup for a combined 7th and 40th birthday party, and I chose wrongly. Back here in Wetville, I didn't fit it for ages and then I just didn't fancy wearing beige.

No more beige. I plan to wear this with my op shop find of the year - the black, tailored Thornton Hall jacket.
This is the cut up skirt which was black and white and now is red and black and will some time soon become two snazzy capes for the Chch kindies dressups project.

Out the front, my comfery is eaten to lace.

This is how.
I could do with a book called The Illustrated Guide to Caterpillars Found in New Zealand. I'm not sure if this is the same as the leaf roller caterpillar which is doing plenty of damage out the back garden. I found two rolled up in lemon leaves this morning.

In the kitchen, I had a go at this cheese spread recipe. I bought the children some Le Snak last week and they adore it to the point of ridiculousness. I only bought it because it met the criteria for food for the Chch trip but now they want it forever more. Testing time in the morning.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

kiwisaver bad; choc-zucchini cake good

The Christchurch kindy dressups project is moving along nicely. I haven't had a deluge of offers of help from other mums, but I have found some more cool things at the Sallies plus when I told my friend who works there about our project, she took me out the back and handed me a huge bag of dressups. When we get some good weather (not obviously on the horizon), I can get it all out and wash and mend and alter and then have heaps to send off. The fabric dye I ordered earlier in the week has arrived and I will use that to dye two capes for the dressups project and my buttery tan linen skirt which never gets worn in its current impractical form. What colour? Fire engine red, which I'm assuming will be slightly darker on my skirt. In addition to my kindy dressups finds, I'm also on a roll at the Sallies in terms of my own wardrobe. On Monday, a Thornton Hall tailored jacket which fits me well and is in great condition, for $5 and today a pair of hardly worn jeans which fit me well for $3.

I was thinking about kiwisaver again this morning. I have always been very suspicious of kiwisaver. I think it is a ruse to make ordinary people give money (oops invest) to prop up corporate speculation. This morning Kathryn Ryan interviewed Warren Britton, a man made redundant in recent times who applied to free up some of his kiwisaver funds to prevent him from losing his house. He was declined and the process of obfuscation and unhelpfulness is detailed on the podcast. So many people are now in need of this support, not just in Christchurch where clearly the need is greatest, but throughout New Zealand. I bet those kiwisaver funds, where the directors have benefited handsomely from government endorsement-encouragement-force, which are still struggling with the recession we must not name and intensified by the natural disasters in Christchurch and Japan, will fight tooth and nail to prevent people taking their own money out. The kiwisaver scheme is going to benefit (sigh, once again) the rich who pick up the tax breaks and any other benefits on it when they already have their own retirement packages, and those with very secure jobs. Here at the messiest house in Wetville, we are carrying on focusing on paying off our mortgage.

I've got my oven back. All the seals and the screws on the doors have been checked and tightened or replaced. Today I made chocolate cake and then a bacon and vegetable stew in it. I made hummous with my whizzy stick as well, just to round off my domestic achievements. The chocolate cake is from Annabel Langbein's book and I give below my slightly altered version to enhance my sense of domestic whizziness even further (blip day but good even great blip day).

I've been reflecting on where Sandra the greenie went. The one who used cloth nappies (on the babies that is), made her own washing powder, lived for five years in London with no car and no tumble drier, ran a small organic food buying co-op, blah blah.

Last week when I was stocking up for our trip to Christchurch, I chose pre-packaged-no-need-to-cook items and was pathetically grateful for their existence. Back home, and with my oven working again, I'm stepping back into the home made groove. There is still plenty of packaged stuff in circulation and Fionn's lunchbox came back with an unopened yoghurt yesterday. I thought it had been out of the fridge too long to re-use and giving it to the chooks seemed more extravagant than was totally necessary. But also, it had not been opened and in a cake would be cooked well above boiling point for a long time. So I replaced the unsweetened yoghurt in Annabel Langbein's recipe with a tub of 'real berries' yoghurt and knocked the quantity of sugar down to balance it. Langbein uses pumpkin. I used zucchini. My one plant of zucchini costata romanesco, which supposedly has a lower yield than modern hybrids but better flavour, is growing zucchini in three different directions. Not long ago I harvested ten at once. From one plant.

Sandra's version of Annabel Langbein's Surprise Chocolate Cake (from her The best of Annabel Langbein second edition):
3 eggs
1.25 cups raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g butter softened
125g tub of your child's abandoned yoghurt
250g grated zucchini (which I didn't peel first but this does result in tell-tale flecks of green of this is a vege hiding job)
250g choc chips or bits (I used what was left of a big bar of dark chocolate)
2.5 cups flour (I used white)
0.25 cups cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp mixed spice

Preheat oven to 180 celsius. Mix eggs, sugar, and vanilla.Then mix in yoghurt and butter. Fold in zucchini and chocolate and combined dry ingredients. Then I spread it into a large, well greased rectangular dish which I can't measure because it is in the dishwasher right now and cooked it for 40 minutes. This way it deals with the facts that I don't have a large ring tin (she wanted a 26 cm one) or indeed a square baking tin and I don't like cooking in no-stick dishes anyway and that idf you have it spread out a bit on a big rectangular dish, you get better sized pieces for school lunches and after school scoffing than luxurious huge triangles more suited to a cafe.

It turned out really well. Fionn scoffed lots and lots of it after school. Most importantly, there is still lots left.

Monday, March 14, 2011

On kindy

I admit defeat. The forces of nature and the hideousness of the current government's early childhood education policies have overcome. I had for some time intended to write to the head honchos at kidsfirst kindergartens to complain about the ways in which our kindy has become a top-down institution instead of a community resource. But just as I was writing the one in my head about why I no longer take the laundry basket home when it is out with a request note and why I wouldn't be fundraising for a kindy which changed its hours without community consultation and harrasses families who don't fit their specs of dropping off by 8.45am each morning... just as I was writing that in my head for the seventh time, tragedy struck in Christchurch and it seems worse than churlish to complain given that head office is in Christchurch and some kindies are so devastated that apparently no one has yet been inside to assess them.

Soooo. Putting my best community foot forward seems a better idea now and as if on cue we get a newsletter today inviting us to enter our shortest children in a trikeathon. Not just a trikeathon, but a trikeathon combined with a mini gala with face painting, nail polish painting, a cake stall, a sausage sizzle, a kiddies drinks table and a coffee table. Please circle which you can be available for. Just for good measure, there is a place to circle if you can be available to organise more fundraising activities throughout the year.

A very wise friend said to me, eight years ago as I held my baby in my arms on the telephone in London and she whispered while her children were asleep in New Plymouth, don't join the kindy committee. Not ever. They were very wise words and I am sticking to them. No doubt I will volunteer to do some cakes if the oven gets fixed in time and to stand on a stall, and to get sponsors for the trikeathon and to remind FH twelve times when it is on so he doesn't double book (cos' he'll be on kiddie duty while I sell sausages or something similar), but I am NOT circling the bit about organising more fundraisers.

I am making progress on the Chch kindy dressups project:

This used to be a top which was handed down to me and didn't quite fit. I think the gauzy floral ruffles suit four year old fantasy better than they suit me. Now I have cut up a black and white skirt which has a broken zip and is a little too big in order to make capes. I'll nip down to the Sallies to get some bits of glitzy clothing to plunder for shiny effects tomorrow.

The other reason that fighting the kindy changes seems less important is that Anne Tolley is doing far more damage. She has lifted the maximum roll for a preschool from 50 to 150 and knocked the requirement for trained staff down to 80%. Selfishly, I breathe a sigh of relief that my children will not be affected by these dismal and nasty changes. This post from Sue Bradford is an important read.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

appreciating normal

As a child, and particularly as a teenager, my Mum frequently scolded me with the phrase "but it's not normal Sandra". I think collecting the mail in my jammies was perfectly normal, just not respectable. The world carried on.

This weekend, I have an intense appreciation of normal. Since we got back over the hill on Friday, the ground has been solid under our feet, under our home, under our lives. Our precious daughter is running around without a bandage and now that the aneurism has clotted off, her month old wound is healing quickly. Nothing is more normal than trying to get children to clean their rooms, and the lumps and bumps and obstacles and road blocks along the day in terms of achieving any progress in this task was ordinarily, frustratingly, solid-groundly normal.

A few hours after we got home from Christchurch, I read online of the Japanese disaster, I noticed on facebook a significant number of friends feeling it is a sign of God's second coming or of the imminent arrival of the next ice age or really just toooo much to cope with. I understand their response. I will admit to being frugal with my news listening time this weekend, in order to get back on even keel and not focused on disaster all the time. It amazes me that Japan can be such an economically 'successful' country and so densely populated at the same time as hosting so many natural disasters. I feel sad and empathetic and also wanting to make some distance.

Back here in Wetville, in the back garden, I'm all about growing food for winter. I even bought some Yates bio gold fertiliser. I doubt it is organic in the sense that I think of organic, but I haven't enough compost for right now, as usual, and I really want some more nutrition in my soil. I've got 12 seedlings of cavolo nero cabbage (or tuscan kale or black cabbage or kale lacinato, but it's great stuff no matter what it is called) to plant out just as soon as I can finish digging up the oregano. The chooks didn't scratch everything up for me, though they did a good job of searching out slugs. I planted some lemon grass in a sheltered and hopefully frost free spot yesterday.

I've kept my car use down given we are in another oil price spike and I've calculated what to do to optimise the mortgage rate drop given we are still in recession. I know nobody is supposed to use that word, but given we were predicted to be climbing out of the trough mid last year and in an era of rampant inflation months ago, and yet more jobs seem to disappear weekly and food prices go up while house prices drop, what else would anyone like to call it?

I have a new incentive to sew up fast and furiously. Driven crazy by children who wind each other up at night, FH and I are contemplating giving up our precious study so the children can sleep in separate rooms, something we had thought originally wouldn't happen for another couple of years. So we need to magic some space out of nowhere on a budget of nothing, or nothing plus maybe $200. So if I can sew up all the fabric in my drawers (the kindy dressups project should help this enormously), then that makes it more possible I can fit my sewing things in the bottom of my wardrobe. I know know I know that if the sewing machine is not set up permanently, then less sewing happens, but tough on me really. I'll be rather sick of sewing once I've cleared the drawers I have now anyway.

That's it. I washed lots of clothes. Really lots of clothes and I still haven't finished. I made hummus for the week ahead and pasta/bacon/broccoli/red pepper/anchovies/garlic /sun dried tomatoes for dinnerand thought I really am sick of having no oven. Hopefully Steve Austin the superhero of fixing small appliances in our small wet town will work magic on it tomorrow and then I can roast things and bake things and dry eggshells and make muffins and keep things warm and have a device for when my window of cooking opportunity is 2pm and I have to be out of the house from 3pm until dinner time...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Brighid - all safe and well

We had an extraordinary experience yesterday. They put her under anaesthetic and then the surgeon checked the lump of the aneurism and couldn't feel the pulse. So they got the ultrasound machien and there was no blood flow. The aneurism had clotted off by its own accord. That must have happened on Monday night when she was in pain almost all night. So we found this out in the recovery room - that they had not operated after all. It was quite a shock but good news. At least she wasn't cut open before they found this out.

The trip to Chch involved lots of earthquake aftershocks, many of them quite substantial. We are very glad to be back in Wetville and to have Fionn with us and be on stable ground again.

Thank you for all of your support.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

jelly on a plate

Just when I'm almost congratulating myself on having the shittiest day in months, and about to think 'well things can only get better', I remember about the earthquake and how I have a relatively perfect life.

and that if it can get that shitty in Christchurch, the city my family are most connected to on both sides, the city which always seemed to personify stability, then that's the edge of the wedge. Maybe it's not God's Own Country, the land of milk and honey. Maybe it goes deeper than the wounds of neoliberalism. Right down to the tectonic plates.

My little talk to myself continues. Plenty of people live in shitty times and shitty places and shitty circumstances. Wallowing is not the ideal response. By this time I'm actually turning into the supermarket and at least I know I can buy some wine.

Tomorrow we drive to Christchurch. It can't come soon enough. Brighid was awake for much of last night with pain in her foot and I was awake with her, wondering if we were on the verge of an emergency mid-night trip to hospital, maybe even in a helicopter. She has "Mawhera" with her, the cuddly grey bear from her kindy who goes on trips all over the place. We are going to take a photo of Mawhera in hospital with Brighid to give to kindy.

My preparations are not the kind you write 'how to' manuals from. I walked around the supermarket buying lots of treats and some wine (neither oven nor time to make food for our friends where Fionn is staying or to take to Chch). I washed more clothes, then some more. I bought Brighid a new bag (we could have managed) and Fionn new pjs (ditto) because they seemed good ideas at the time this afternoon. At least it is money into local businesses.

So, by the time I'm posting here again, we will be back in Wetville and life will be much improved. I don't know if I'll have internet access in hospital and I certainly don't know how to interact between a mobile and the internet - my attempts to buy and set up a mobile for emergency contact only tonight were mishandled by vodafone until I may have had a smidgeon of a suggestion of a meltdown and pointed out that I can't take it back to the shop in the morning as I have to go to hospital in Christchurch before the shop even opens and the only reason I bought the phone was for the trip to hospital and by the time I get back I won't even want it and my money will be wasted and its purpose won't be met and... so the nice man went away and came back with some kind of magical solution until I get back to the shop in a few days.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why dig when you can have lesser mortals do it for you?

Today I was about to dig the garden over, pulling out the remainder of oregano (an expert spreader) and getting it ready for autumn planting. Then I thought of the chooks and how I could avoid all that work. Depending on ones space in the economic pecking order, this is either efficient capitalism or dole bludging. So I moved the temporary chook run over to the old chook run garden. The temporary chook run is a circle of wire mesh about 2.5 metres in diameter and 1 metre in height with bamboo poles around it and a criss cross of more bamboo poles across the top to give it some kind of stable structure. Spread across the top of the structure is green bird netting. Three birds worked hard from the beginning while two others skived off. Eventually the fourth bird hung out rather close and got put to work and the fifth one was so lazy that when I saw it head back into the permanent poultry palace. I shut the door and left it to scratch around on its own with no slug feast. It's easy to become a capitalist tyrant.

While they worked wonders in slug eradication, I began the project of digging around the roses. Last year Favourite Handyman buried the bokashi by the roses and was apparently so busy he couldn't weed the top. So the pre-existing weeds had a wonderful shot of fertiliser and the soil has been unavailable until I could attack it with a fork. The soil is lovely underneath all the long grasses. I'm going to move the roses eventually and put a grape there. I will also plant some winter greens there as it is a lovely warm spot which never gets frost.

At kindy today I told one of the teachers about my dressups plan. She was wildly, fantastically excited by it and is keen on us adopting a kindy. She will sort that side out, but we are thinking one of the kindies in the worst hit areas. That will give us a bit of time to get sewing (I'm hoping I can cajole an 'us' anyway). Tonight I began my first kindy dressup. It is a frilly top which I was given and which never fitted me and I had it put aside to turn into a dressup for Brighid. I've cut the fabric off from the armpits and made the bottom into an elastic topped sundress. Well it will be when I can measure the shoulder straps up on Brighid tomorrow. Even though I handed on a lot of fabric just a few weeks ago, I've still got quite a bit to play with and I suspect we will get offers of fabric from non-sewists. My jar of ric-rac is finally going to get an outing. Then there are the cool flowery sheets in the cupboard...

It's less than 36 hours until we set off for Christchurch and Brighid's operation. I'm avoiding the packing and planning for that. Not quite ready to look it in the face.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

the war on slugs continues

Today we stayed at home all morning, altogether. It was the best treat I could imagine. The kids played round on their bikes and FH and I gardened. I transplanted the second bay tree, uplifted some herbs for a friend and began the process of weeding the 2 x 2 metre section left by removing the herbs. They surely prospered in the old chook run garden bed. I pruned some of the bay leaves which were folded over or stuck together and found leaf roller caterpillars inside. I guess that is the same demon as has been enjoying the leaves of my tomato plants.

This afternoon was birthday party time and then we went to the gypsy fair. Brighid had her first pony ride and loved it. Fionn was too scared to go on the mini motorbikes two years ago and has been panting for a chance to ride them this year. He had great fun.

The war on slugs continues. I've added a fifth beer trap after seeing that in the chook grave garden, two new celery plants have been almost annihilated. The trap under one of the kale plants yielded about forty (yes really) slugs last night. When I was weeding this morning I noticed that they seem to be able to live 1-2 centimetres below the soil surface.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dressups for Chch kindies?

The war on slugs continues. Last night I harvested some kale to go in the bolognaise sauce and found many many big fat slugs were living on it. So tonight I added a fourth container of beer to collect drowned drunk slugs in, this one underneath the largest kale plant. Results from the containers in the punga raised bed have been excellent so far.

Brighid's kindy are asking past, present and future families of our kindy to donate a gold coin towards new play equipment for Christchurch kindies. They kicked their campaign off with a lovely photo of all the kids and teachers with their "We love Christchurch" banner on the front page of our local newspaper. This got me thinking about dress ups. I know money is the main thing needed, but I do want to gift something more personally meaningful. So I'm intent upon making some dressups - wrap around ballet skirts and capes - to send over and I'm hopeful I can get others to make some as well (or donate fabric or cut out the pieces) so that we can send lots.

Fionn's school held a mufti day on Friday for the earthquake and raised lots of money to send over. I'm glad we can do something and that the children have an opportunity and the encouragement to do something for Christchurch.

I've been reading Ruth's Reflections, a blog of a woman living in inner city Christchurch. I've read Ruth's blog before and often wanted her to write longer pieces - it seemed she stopped just as I was getting very interested quite often. She is indeed writing longer pieces on life since the earthquake. She notes the rising readership stats on her blog since the earthquake and laments that it took such a terrible thing to increase her readership. I remember having the same thoughts in the days after the Pike River tragedy.

Today was the first day of Art in the Park and the children and I spent the afternoon there. It's a fabulous event and I think that maybe by the time I ever manage to get a good look at the art (it just doesn't work with small children), it will be so many years down the track I might even have some money to buy some. Even so, I'd love to look without my wallet open right now. In addition to all the art for display and sale, there are lots of fund raising groups selling food and also an awesome children's art activities tent. One fund raising stall was from Runanga School. Alongside the prices and food list was an explanation of who the money was going to. It is going to Shirley Intermediate and Shirley Boys High School, who helped them in their time of need and now Runanga (home of the rugby league champions, unions and a staunch mining culture) is helping right back. There is not a lot of money in Runanga, but there is a lot of love and my eyes were welling as I gave Fionn some money to hand over as a donation. How come it is so soon after our vigil for the Pike River miners that we are standing in silence again for even more dead New Zealanders? Like a child, I want to stamp my foot and proclaim it isn't fair, but if there is anything these experiences are telling me, it is that the age of innocence has gone - I have to be a grown up.

Tomorrow is another lovely day for us though. We are off to a fourth birthday party and when I've finished writing this post, I'll sew up a swim bag for M and pop the bouncy ball with dinosaurs on it, which the kids chose for him, inside. In the morning they can wrap it up and attach the card they made today.

I'm still reading The Culture of Sewing. It's a fabulous book, though I have much to say about obfuscating language and sentence construction and the 'othering' of non-academic cultures, particularly those of working class women. Yeah yeah, that sentence could qualify, though it is mild and totally transparent and accessible compared to some of what I'm reading. I'm waiting until I've read the entire book before writing my thoughts up properly here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Serene Hagley Park

Beautiful park huh? It's at the back of Christchurch hospital, where we spent much of yesterday with our daughter. It was serene and not quite impossible to credit the damage merely metres away. If we turned our heads in the opposite direction, we could see the cones, orange tape and army presence marking the cordoned off area of central Christchurch, where even now unsafe rubble prevents the retrieval of dead bodies.

The hospital staff were amazing. Despite the loss of homes and lives and their non-medical responsibilities, all these wonderful people were working hard to provide care for sick and injured people. Next week they will operate on Brighid and remove the balloon which is like a pseudo aneurism on her artery.

Back here, we did some gardening today. The beer operation has yielded lots and lots of slug casualties. The compost was in bad shape, all compacted and not behaving is I want it to. So I hauled it all out, broke it up and made a new pile on top of one of the garden beds and mixed it with wood shavings and donkey poo and then covered the pile with pea straw. That was half of the compost heap. The remaining half I also mixed with donkey poo and wood shavings and returned to our plastic compost bin. I'll be avoiding adding much more to that bin as I don't want it compacting down. The compost pile on the garden beside the lean-to will hopefully be lovely dark compost by midwinter. Then I can fork it into the punga raised bed and plant the garlic there.