Sunday, October 30, 2011
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 pottle of mussels I unfortunately left in the car - must have brought the groceries in in the dark one night. I planted out one tomato and six basil seedlings. I had thought I would put them in a pot under the lean-to, but as I dehydrated them through neglect this week already, I opted for a place with rainfall access.
I weeded the blueberry and lemon pots and added extra compost and my own fertiliser made of comfrey liquid which I started last week with the comfrey I no longer want in my flower bed and some bokashi liquid. Then I draped bird netting over the blueberry pots. I dug bokashi in in a section of the herb garden where the miners lettuce is past its best and then sowed mesclun on top. I did some digging and weeding out the front, but it is a jungle. I can't get far handweeding when blackberry is involved.
In the afternoon the children and I took about one million glass bottles to the dump. We didn't have to pay a thing because the machine which weighs the car inwards and outwards was broken. Neither the dump weigh man nor I thought I had dumped 850 kilos of rubbish. If New Zealand's economy is dependent on technical equipment being reliable here in Wetville, then we're definitely going the way of Greece.
For dinner I made rosti in the oven like Annabel Langbein's recipe and they came out very nice. That recipe will be a keeper. Grate 700g of peeled spuds into a bowl of water. Then drain the grated spud and squeeze out as much water as possible. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some cracked pepper and a splash of anchovy sauce. Mix it goether and then put generous spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking try that has baking paper on it. Flatten the blobs out, leaving a bit of room between each one. Annabel made 8 with the mixture but I made 12. Bake at 200 degrees celsius for 40 minutes. They will look crispy when they are done.
Tonight I am making shortbread. The shortbread is going to Ronald Macdonald House, where there is a tradition that families take baking when they go and it goes in the freezer for nightly nibbles and support for all of the families staying there. I'm sending this baking full of hope that the hospital can help one little boy from Blackball and his family.
One benefit to baking when the children are in bed is that I get to lick the bowl myself. There have to be some gastronomical perks to a wine-less evening.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
I read about fashions in bra shapes, here and here. Quite interesting.
We also took a walk down to the new hardware shop down the road from us, where the kids got spoilt rotten with opening day freebies and I found out a place where we can get sawdust for the poultry palace as our usual source seems to have dried up.
No gardening. Too wet.
Friday, October 28, 2011
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.
House: well. We have visitors in less than seven days and some serious miracle working is required. I am organising the boys to go to the dump tomorrow.
Sewing: I fixed Fionn's missing button on his school shirt. He is particular about buttons.
Shopping & dreaming: I bought this tie front cardigan at the Postie Plus 25% off everything sale yesterday.
Only mine is black. I like it, but in an ideal world, I would sew or knit it with some kind of FBA so that mine had straight centre-front lines like in the photo instead of curved-round, too-much-cleavage lines. So I spent part of this evening surfing the net looking at things I will likely never make in a semi-purposeful way instead of actually sewing the project beside me.
Body politics: The Hand Mirror is hosting a pro choice postings week. I don't have a post to offer THM but I will be reading with interest. As many women fight for bodily autonomy for all women as they campaign for improved legislation around abortion, I think also of a powerful story a new friend told me last week. She was in the process of carrying eggs for another woman who had fertility obstacles, when she discovered in a short period of time that two of her own children were deaf and autistic respectively. She told the programme and they terminated her involvement immediately, despite the receiving couple being happy with the apparently higher risks of disability that this baby might carry and still wanting her involvement. Other people in the process were offered counselling, but not the mother of the children, the one already on the extra hormones and who had been rejected because she had a biological history of imperfect children. What does this say about the kind of babies we are not just supposed to want, but are even allowed to want?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
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 listens to hear what the union bosses have decided, let alone the freezing works management. I would like to write my own biography of class in my life some time soon, and I encourage everyone, anyone, to read the two articles and write their own, whether for private or public consumption. Where is the moment when you realised that you were invisible to the popular discourse? I think everyone has at least one. My experiences with the system when I was a very very new mother in East London/Essex also come to mind.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
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 look reality in the face: if I had time to do more, I would have achieved more already.
Before my trip to Blackball, I took Mary K to the cemetery to lay flowers to mark the fourth anniversary of her husband Lou's death. Death has been a big feature of our lives recently, but what matters most, I think, is supporting those who remain behind, left and bereft.
I've hardly sewn at all lately, instead gazing blearily at the screen in an activity recently and aptly described as 'sewing blog porn'. Although it is safer to read than to turn on the sewing machine when I am slightly drunk with tiredness (then there is slightly drunk with alcohol on the other nights), it isn't yielding much in the way of finished projects here at the messiest house.
I have a 'ten new meals' project. I got so sick of cooking and eating the same foods endlessly that I got my Best of Annabel Langbein book out and identified ten meals which appeared affordable, weeknight-friendly and like we would want to eat them. My challenge is to make them happen and hopefully at least half will become regular meals. Tonight was smoked fish and kumara pie. Smoked fish as in the cheap tinned stuff. I added spinach and sweet corn because the point of pies is surely that everything goes in one pot and I don't have to coordinate timing of side dishes.
The next nine dishes are:
greek pumpkin spread
sushi sesame rice balls
spicy sausage and chickpea minestrone
chilli ginger whole fish
mussel and corn chowder
Some of these things I have cooked before, but I have put them on the list because Langbein has a more promising method (e.g. rosti in the oven) or because I would like to get practised enough to cook them easily on a weeknight (e.g chilli ginger whole fish).
Sunday, October 23, 2011
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 round the strawberries and put the netting tunnel over top. I may have to change that though as the mesh is too fine for the bees to get through and pollinate the plants. I've dug up the spent broccoli plants and weeded more and more and planted red onions, lettuces, shallots, cyclamen and cosmos.
This is a beautiful post on what the RWC means to one woman on a very personal level.
Friday, October 14, 2011
I've been mostly focused on my own family, especially my children. Tomorrow we head away for a while, partly to visit my grandparents and partly to give the children some new experiences in parts of New Zealand we've not taken them before. We booked and paid for this trip before our sad and sudden trip to Auckland and I hope it lifts everyone's spirits.
I finished The Long Song by Andrea Levy. It was quite good, but lacked the magic of Small Island. Now I'm reading Jeanette Winterson's Lighthousekeeping. I've also started to listen to her South Bank lecture which is found on her website here.
I read today of something called Blog Action Day, which this year is to be held 16 October, which is also world food day. I've not enough to say to make a proper post, but if I did, it would be around privileged food movements and pastoral idylls. Once upon a time, a time which seems quite distant now, I read a lot about traditional foods a la Sally Fallon and the Weston Price Foundation. Isa Ritchie wrote an excellent thesis on the movement, placing it in its social and political context. Isa seems to have taken down her blog on her thesis, so I can't link to it anymore.
As a relic from the days when I regularly hung out with Sally Fallon and her maddening book, Nourishing Traditions, I get facebook updates from a blog called 'Nourished Kitchen'. Beautiful ideas, photography and a clear sense of purpose. But is this really about cooking? Or even eating, or health? If you care to procrastinate a little further, then read this sample post on healthy fats and oils. This is the language of religion. Food the 'Nourished Kitchen' way is a journey down the path less travelled, the path unsinned, the pastoral idyll where your children will grow up free of trans fats, but also, or as I sense the implication, unsullied in a wider sense by modern living. People busy gathering apples and making appleasauce perhaps do not have time to mainline heroin and get pregnant to a non-life partner.
I think that food in most, if not all of our lives, is both more and less complex. I've definitely got a sense of principles around the food I eat, make and grow. What I would like to explore but don't have the headspace to do so at the moment is the intersection between belief and food in terms of individual choices by privileged people (that'll likely be everyone reading) and how modern food movements start out with good intentions but so often eventually function as markers of privilege.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
It was time to do more completion and less starting of new projects. I was sort of successful.
1. The ironing board is now functional. It looks like this:
There were indeed some plain blue and even plain beige covers in the shop. I did not care for them.
2. One shirt belonging to Favourite Handyman now fixed. Jackie at the Bernina shop advised me how and didn't charge me a cent for it. She is shopkeeper of my year.
3. Planted slenderette dwarf seedlings, celery seedlings and some polyanthus. Watered my basil and tomato pots.
4. Cooked loads of fried foods for dinner. I almost didn't provide dinner at all, because the garden was so much more interesting. Fried sausages, bacon, onions and mushrooms, plus I added butter to the steamed broccoli and asparagus. Only the carrot escaped the butter or oil treatment. It tasted beautiful.
Not quite done:
1. I began weeding the strawberry patch and bought a netting cloche to go over it and protect it from the birds. Probably another hour of work to go on that. I also bought some agria spuds to sprout and plant.
2. I extracted chook poo from the coop. This never stops as a job. For reasons I don't understand at all, they only like to hang out on the roost we built during the day. As chooks poo mostly in the night, this makes for a very pooey coop which always needs cleaning. Luckily we have a big coop (1 x 2 metres). The pea straw matted with poo also has to be great for the compost.
3. The Blackball care workers' project. This had to go on hold while I was in Auckland and today I found out what I need to do to wrap the project up. So tonight or tomorrow I need to write up my interview with the lovely Brenda. I want to say something along these lines (starting to write it now hopefully): For many people, the boundaries between paid and unpaid care work are quite blurred. Brenda B has looked after people for most of her life. As the youngest of six children, her father encouraged her and her older sister to help others, including running a family camping ground in the weekends for Brenda's uncle. Brenda was not yet a teenager. As a young woman, when her Dad fell ill and she was the only child without her own children, Brenda took on much of the care. This expanded when a brother and her mother also fell ill. In more recent years, Brenda has worked in several paid care work positions, including for the IHC, for PACT and at a local rest home. Some of the people she cared for at the rest home were men and women she had known since she was a child. Brenda went to all of the funerals of residents. Even when she stopped working there, she still went back to visit some of the residents. Brenda currently works for Pact, which she really enjoys. She combines this work with work for Home to Home. The respite care she provides for young people through this project is overnight, sometimes for up to a week continuously, and this is also a source of pleasure and satisfaction for her. Care work isn't hugely well paid, and it isn't protected by a clear national pay scale and a single, unified union, but people like Brenda, people who are often invisible in the pages of our local papers, glue our community together.
3. The second Colette Crepe dress. I cut out a new back facing last night. Despite an idea of lining the bodice completely instead of making facings, I have fallen back on the facings idea as I can't decide how to best incorporate the interfacing to strengthen the neck and armholes. It will be a yellow bodice and a brown patterned skirt. Yes I too am reminded of a Brownie uniform by the colour scheme. But people who rush off to Auckland with no warning and also buy new trainers up there have to find sewing satisfaction with sheets.
1. Honeysuckle and jasmine for the garden. Favourite Handyman has spoken of these scents as part of his Auckland childhood and I want to recreate them here. It's on my garden shop list for as soon as funds allow.
2. Knitting a Miette cardigan for goodness sake. I haven't even knitted more than a dozen rows of the doll's dress this last month, let alone an entire adult cardigan. But I am inspired by Patty the Snug Bug's post this morning, not to mention by perusing all the Ravelry Miette projects. No no no Sandra.
3. There are more sewing things to do but Colette crepe comes first. I want to wear the altered pattern which I spent so long on.
Much more important than all that stuff:
I'm copying this directly from an email I received this morning. I've signed the petition and hope the response to this petition is both overwhelming and successful.
Dear NCWNZ members and affiliates,
The National Council of Women of NZ, in association with the White Ribbon Campaign, has launched a petition calling for Facebook to immediately remove pages which promote sexual and other violence against women.
The petition is a response to Facebook’s decision to allow pages which promote violence against women. These pages include , ‘Punching pregnant women in the stomach,’ ‘You know she's playing hard to get when you're chasing her down an alleyway’, and ‘Riding your girlfriend softly ‘cause you don't want to wake her up.’
Facebook allows these pages to remain online despite their violation of the site’s Terms of Service which clearly prohibit users from posting material which is hateful, threatening, incites violence or contains gratuitous violence. There are also rules against bullying, intimidating or harassing other users, and using Facebook to do anything discriminatory.
But Facebook has refused to remove a proliferation of pro-rape and other pages promoting violence against women, despite receiving numerous complaints.
As we’re all aware, violence against women is an issue in New Zealand. Statistics tell us that one in four women will experience sexual assault, and one in three women experience partner violence in their lifetime.
Please support our campaign by signing the petition and letting your networks and contacts know about it. We’d love you to sign it straight away because we’re shortly going to send out a media release and the first thing the media will do is check to see how many names are on it!
Its very easy to sign, go to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/violenceagainstwomenonfacebook/ and add your name. It’s quick and all you need is a valid email address.
Thanking you all in anticipation of your support,
National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ),
Level 4 Central House,
26 Brandon Street,
PO Box 25-498,
Tel: +64 4 473 7623
Monday, October 10, 2011
That's how I overcame the hurdle of the noisy tummies and sowed carrot, beetroot, pea and alyssum seeds outside and tomato and basil seeds inside today. I would normally have sown the tomato seed earlier but now has to be good enough. I am hopeful of a good growing season this summer. I came back from Auckland to huge and lovely-tasting broccoli. The heads were lots bigger than the supermarket ones (brag braggidy brag brag). Last years' broccoli was shameful and almost inedible. This year I grew it where a compost heap had been not long beforehand and also in a more sheltered spot. I also cut the irises which were prone in the garden due (I presume) to recent winds and put them in a vase in the dining room. Thanks to their prolific division over the last 2-3 years, I now have lots of iris bulbs, but they are still too spread out in the garden. Next year I want them in clumps instead.
We are getting lots of bees in the garden. They really like the flowering kale and also the borage. The other bee attraction is the purple sprouting broccoli which started to flower while we were away. I've left two of those in the garden for sheer beauty and for attracting bees.
While Wall Street burns and a substandard boat off the coast of Tauranga ruins our sealife, I've been thinking about clothes. I don't think I have political apathy (though I could be wrong), but my cynicism levels have increased steadily in recent months. It doesn't help that we have an election just weeks away and no credible, powerful alternative to John Key.
So I took in two bags of clothes for the Sallies and bought three belts. The belts use up a lot less room. It's been decades since I've worn a belt but apparently they are just the thing for my body shape, so belts it is.
Then, just because I have squillions of unfinished projects in the study and don't feel like doing any of them, I decided to revamp my long black wrap cardigan. My long black cardigan started out from this pattern, made in an alpaca/merino yarn:
I made a size too big plus I made it bigger again because I went up a size of needle without checking the tension with the new size. It's a great cardigan, beautiful charcoal colour and very soft and cosy to wear, but really really enormous and all the folds sit to the front creating a late pregnancy side profile. Last night I unpicked the sleeves (the rest is knitted in the round) so I had three flat pieces of knitting. Tonight I put it in the machine at 60 degrees celsius then for ten minutes in the tumble dryer and now I have three significantly diminished pieces of felted wool drying by the fire and awaiting the next step of the transformation.
Only I haven't decided on the next step. Which means that maybe I go back to considering politics instead. Except except except - I get no further in my journey from thinking about politics. Hell in a handbasket or something.
I gave up on Hannah Tunnicliffe's The Colour of Tea. Soon I'm off to bed with Andrea Levy's The Long Song.
I haven't forgotten about last week. I think about my Mother in Law all the time, something I never did before. I'm trying to appreciate my own Mum more, acutely aware of how lost I would be if the phone call had been my Dad to say it was my Mum who I would never hear or see again. I think about lots of things to do with extended family and the fabric of who I am, who we are. Fionn has been writing to his Grandad via email since we got back and tonight Brighid dictated an email for him. I was 28 when I got married, already long used to living in a different city to my parents and indeed to all of my immediate and often all of my extended family. Adopting a family when I already had my own wasn't a process which came easily to me, but this last ten days has shown me that I am one of their family and they are mine and there is room for me to connect with my in law family without sacrificing my own identity and links with my blood relatives.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Today I went to Mitre 10 to buy some coat hangers. I did this for three reasons: 1. I was given some new clothes up north and need hangers for them. 2. I hate shopping at The Warehouse. It gives me the wibblies. 3. Miter 10 is closer, so ethically favourable.
While I am at Mitre 10, I find replacement ironing board covers. As I have been meaning to make a new cover for our ironing board for about three years, and I accidentally cut the fabric of our current one not long ago, buying a new cover seems very sensible. After all, the laundry mountain at my place currently seems to be on growth hormones and there is a garden waiting for some more seeds, some weeding, some tender loving care.
Twenty-three dollars later, I get home, take it out of its packet and finally remember that we have an extra long ironing board. It doesn't fit and the wrapping is torn so no returns.
So now I have spent money and I am making an ironing board cover. I am part way through adding an insert into the new one, using the felt from the old one. Tomorrow I shall try and match the super strong elastic and maybe there will even be photos.
I sowed some mesclun salad mix seed this morning. I had more gardening planned, but the rain fell just often enough to ensure maximum time wasted at the washing line and minimum time spent in the garden. Mesclun is mesclun though, and the particularly good news is that no one in my family vomited today and no one in my family died. Moving on from the hard facts, I also didn't walk out on my family just before dinner. Given the strain of making hamburgers and chips from scratch (bought bread rolls though), and the particular facts of me loving my husband and children, I shall not make these again. I am a one pot dinner kind of cook, not an assemble lots of things all at once while others make noise and be uncompliant on every front kind of cook.
The chooks are still happy and laying and appear to be rat-free. In case you were wondering.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
My Mother in Law loved to shop, but until I was asked to help go through her clothes and to pick out some things to take home for myself, I had no idea what a marathon eventer she was in this sport. One pretty cotton print is too narrow for me, but I plan to cut it up and use it to make some special clothes for her youngest grand daughters.
Today, still adapting to our life back home and coming to terms with the odd and sobering fact that we will never hear my Mother in Law's stories again, Fionn started vomiting. Then he had a very hot neck. Then he had a rash on his face. Did I mention we'd just been on two aeroplanes and spent time not so far from the locations of the meningitis outbreaks? Which is why we have recently got home from six hours in our local Accident & Emergency department. He doesn't have meningitis, but he does have a rather nasty case of gastro-enteritis and spent about an hour on a drip. They were keen to keep him in overnight and we initially agreed, but by the time the paediatrician arrived almost two hours later, Fionn seemed to be on the mend and we asked to take him home. Now he is sleeping in the big bed (where else do you sleep when you are sick?!) and I think he will be much better by the time he wakes up.
So I don't have any sewing or gardening to report. I have no kitchen adventures to report on, and I've not been living in my local community, let alone doing anything useful in it. I have no comment to make on local or national or international politics, though a brief look at the international news section of today's paper revealed that the Bank of England are printing money because everything is dire and they could find nothing else to do. Better than nothing and not going to prompt massive inflation. Apparently. I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be quiet and without incident. Perhaps I will even spend it in the garden. I am grateful beyond words for the treasure of those around me still alive. I give particular thanks that this scare of Fionn's health didn't happen while we were still in Auckland. To have left my Father in Law's house with a child potentially with a fatal disease to spend hours in a huge alien hospital is a worry I am glad to have spared him.
So. Please do tell me what has happened in the rest of the world that I should look at/read/think about. It's time I read some more good books and any recommendations of new blogs would also be welcome. Has anyone seen the film of Jane Eyre? Worth it?