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Showing posts from 2012

All This and a Bookshop Too

I brought this autobiography (her second volume) by Dorothy Butler back from Christmas, on loan from my sister.  Initially, I thought it nice but not astounding, and thought it in the same vein as Barbara Anderson's very nice autobiography, about which no one said anything either.  But increasingly, I found All This and a Bookshop Too quite moving.  Butler had eight children, involved herself in Playcentre, ran her own bookshop, wrote books and most of all had a very ordinary and wonderful passion for books for children and for children's books.  By 'ordinary,' I mean that she does not employ elaborate academic structures for her arguments, but passionate and intelligent observation and the deepest knowledge of the children's book publishing scene.  I loved her stories of her family life as well as those of her book-related adventures.  I had the sense of someone who approached parenting (and marriage and grandparenting) with the same warm intellect as she did her …

Comfrey & broad bean compost

Summer is a wonderful thing.  Summer holidays are even more so.  Today I chopped all the broad bean plants into chunks about five centimetres long and dropped them into our rotating compost bin.  Then I harvested an armful of comfrey chopped the stems below the leaf off (anything close to the root is just too prone to surviving and setting up a new colony of hard to eradicate plant) and then whizzed up the leaves in my mini kitchen whiz. Usually I use it to make hummous, but comfrey pulp is just as worthy.  Then I put it all in a large bowl, covered it with warm water and left it in the sun for a while.  Then I closed all the holes on the compost bin, opened the lid and poured the mixture in, closed it and rotated it round and round a few times.  Comfrey is a compost activator, and the broad bean plants with their large leaves and woody stems  (plus some old beans I had no inclination to cook) will contain a good mix of nitrogen and carbon.

I weeded some more, and planted basil, white…

the season for gardening

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We had a great holiday away, especially in Nelson and Kaikoura, and now we are back on the West Coast, I'm spending much of my days gardening. 

Today I've been weeding, adding compost, planning and dreaming.  The tomatoes under the lean-to (in pots) have a disease and the ones in the garden are doing much better.  Neither are looking perfect leaf-wise, because I delayed planting them out from the windowsill pots far too long. 

In other years, I've not harvested my garlic until late January, which seems to work well here.  January is when it finally dries out here, so by allowing the entire month for final growth, the garlic keeps better.  But the downside is that I'm back at work before I can replant the garlic bed into a new crop for autumn/winter.  I harvested one garlic head this afternoon and it looked a good size.  I gave the remaining crop (and my tomatoes) a dose of liquid fish fertiliser and will harvest it at the end of next week. 

Meanwhile I bought pea, cele…

NW by Zadie Smith, and other projects

I finished Zadie Smith's NW.  I agree with the reviewers who found it uneven.  Regarding the reviewer who thought it captured London life perfectly, I can also see how they could take that out of the book.  (These are probably Guardian & Observer reviews but I haven't kept the references).  I'm not convinced that it is a great book though.  The characters seem to be deliberately a bit (or a lot) pathetic, which may be very realistic, but I dpn't think it added to my enjoyment of the novel.  The book does address the split world feeling of working class women who make it to university and a 'new life', a topic which is always interesting to me.  At the end, when one educated woman originally from a tough north London estate asks her lawyer friend who also 'got out' of the same estate why they deserve to be doing well when their peers are drug addicts on the streets, I got Smith's question.  If you didn't, I personally suspect that…

The Mystery of the Severed Hand

We went away.  We saw sun and sunshine and watched some seriously fantastic martial arts practitioners (Chan's Martial Arts - a form of kung fu) and I got hay fever and the kids played at Spencer Park and we had dinner with friends in Christchurch and told them our sad Greymouth stories and then felt ashamed as we learnt of life for so many Christchurch people in post-earthquake limbo hell.  I spent a morning on genealogy with a wonderful and talented relative and it was great to be away from usual life, to find ourselves never talking about work.

Today was also wonderful.  I rearranged my work hours so I could be home today with the children as their school has a teacher only day.  We had two extra children for the day, two wonderful children from different families, both of whom will move to Auckland later this month.  I've known these two children since they were two and three years old.  The sound of children playing round the house, watching them run to the creek, to the …

Sunday beautiful Sunday

A perfect weekend.  I started in the garden about 6.30am, which is quite the best time to start if I fancy a serene experience.  I weeded, pruned laterals and re-tied the tomatoes to their stakes, and planted spring onions.

I made cheese and pesto scones for morning tea.

I made 11 litres of laundry liquid. 

I tightened up my facebook settings.  Mine are quite tight anyway, but I'm often amazed at how many people blithely include their full date of birth on their public display settings, as the most obvious example of sharing more with the entire world than seems entirely wise.

I attempted to clean Brighid's bedroom.  Some progress, and many bags removed already, but it is probably still the equivalent of the warm up at the base of Mt Everest.  I'm planning the full scale of the mountain while she is at school.

It's possible that I won't win a prize for the fastest and most complete conversion to a life of sobriety and lower calorie intake.  Perhaps the tortoise wil…

Theatre Royal Hotel, Kumara

We had a great time at the community fun day to celebrate the refurbishment and re-opening of the Theatre Royal Hotel in Kumara today.  I forgot to take the camera, but there is a youtube video of the opening here.  The weather was great, the stalls were good, the kids loved the sack races and the tug of war and then we retired to the playground (I retired to sitting with the newspaper; the children were rather more vigorous) for a while. 

Back home, we had our first barbecue of the year where it was warm enough to eat outside.  The kids got out the hose, the water gun and the little paddling pool.  Since Favourite Handyman had kindly mowed the lawn while we were out gallivanting in Kumara, the kids got to fill the pool with water AND grass clippings and other ingredients for a magic witch's potion.

A great day, all the better for sharing it with our lovely friends.  And the total joy at attending an opening of a business in our part of New Zealand, in such contrast to most of our…

Size

Of all the things which I have considered boring for others to read (but gone ahead and posted about anyway), weight loss ranks as the most boring in my book.

But I'm not going to post about work.
But there's not much point dwelling on my sadness about so many of my friends leaving our small wet town.
But I'm not getting much done in the garden.
But there is no crafting going on currently.
But genealogy is at a minor standstill and isn't easy to write about in a discreet way.
But I have no new and coherent thoughts of a political nature to share right now.
But kitchen creativity is a concept which is practically sepia toned, it was so long ago.

Last weekend a good friend rang me from afar.  In a world of facebook updates, likes and the occasional message, an actual phone call has become a rare treat, something I usually forget is at my disposal.

I'd heard my friend had lost weight and she was kind enough to answer my questions.  Truthfully, I grilled her with a fer…

For the love of Mawhera

Was yesterday special?  Kind of.  We observed a minute's silence for the second anniversary of the 29 men dead at Pike River.  But I think of those men most days. 

I never knew any of them personally, but I know members of their families, and no narrative of West Coast early 21st century struggle makes sense without acknowledging these men.

That is why when I mourn the loss of the last butchery on the West Coast (closing this Christmas), of the Smelting House Cafe in Greymouth (great coffee I'm told, superb lunch food I know from experience), buildings evacuated overnight due to earthquake risk and the latest is AMI moving out of our small wet town, it is sad but people are all alive.

The old timers on the Coast give me the greatest sense of looking forward.  'It's happened before', they tell me. 
'The Coast will recover.' 
'That's the nature of a mining town, boom and bust,' another tells me.

So we stay.  We farewell our friends and wish them l…

wine swilling genealogist

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On Thursday just gone, it was the West Coast Schools' kapa haka festival.  I rearranged my work hours, took my girl out of school, and we headed south for the day to watch Fionn perform.  It was totally fantastic.  Fionn's school group put on a top notch performance which we were all very proud of.

Afterwards, while the students had their hangi lunch and played special games and the judges deliberated, Brighid and I had lunch together in the metropolis and walked along the beach, pictured above and below.
Beautiful huh?

Today was the Anglican Church Fair.  It's an important event on our calendar.  Six years ago, when we'd just moved into our first home and there was no lounge furniture and no money to buy anything flash, we went to our this fair.  We still have the couch and chairs from that fair, at a combined cost of less than $50.  These days, we buy some sausages, a couple of bowls, sometimes some books or clothes.  Today I bought my first whitebait sandwich of t…

Zebra gardening

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This weekend we helped a friend move, Fionn went on his first ever cub camp for two nights, I made a skirt for a third birthday party present and I got to garden.

I'm quite pleased with the gingham circle skirt.  I didn't make it to save money.  Frankly, in recent times I've pulled my wallet out for convenience far more often than I've taken the longer but cheaper route, especially in the kitchen.  I made it because I wanted a personally handmade gift for a special little girl, whose family is very dear to me.  Brighid had a lovely time at the party, and so did we for the part we attended.

Fionn the cub camp graduate.  After the asthma incident which followed a one night indoors camp last week, I was nervous about Fionn sleeping in the tent for two nights.

He had a FABULOUS time.  Fell asleep before 4pm this afternoon, but he is breathing properly, so we are all happy.

This afternoon after partying and camp collection, I buried bokashi, weeded the old chook run garden a…

Economic collapse and school fundraising

In a devastating turn of events, The Spring Fling 80s night fundraiser has been cancelled because not enough people bought tickets.  Lots of people claimed to be planning to go, but they didn't front up with cold hard cash in time to give the incredibly hard working volunteers faith that it was worth their blood, sweat and sausage rolls.

There are a few things against me offering my home so we can all desperately seek Susan, get into the groove and implore our papas not to preach this Saturday night.  One is a desire to stay married to Favourite Handyman.  He isn't sharing my enthusiasm at all.  The second is that Fionn comes home from another camp, this time cubs, that day.  I'm pretty nerdy about my kids getting sufficient sleep after they stay up all night yakking in tents (they do yak endlessly; it's in their genes.).  The third is the state of the house.  It's currently marginal to get inside a room without standing on something.  The state of the surfaces is …

Desperately Seeking Susan

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I have a new project.  All in the name of supporting local education (Hekia Parata sure ain't, so someone has to), I'm off to an 80s night next weekend.  I wasn't so sure on reliving memories I had of dropwaist dresses and cerise and jade tube skirts.  But tonight inspiration hit.  It's 1985.  I'm 13.  Madonna has a hotter body than me, a theme which will never change.  She is the perfect teen pinup, with her crucifixes, lace hair ties and beads, fairly accessible garb for a cash-strapped young girl.  I never dared wear my rosary out though.  God may not have smote me down, but my mother would have.

I've just ordered some lace gloves.  I'm about to have a rifle through my drawers, wardrobe and sewing box to see what lace concoctions and other accesories I have.  And find my rosary.  Even now, don't tell Mum.

breaking the hiatus

Time to get back in the blogging saddle.

I had the three chalazia (plural of chalazion = chalazia?) removed surgically on Tuesday.  My eyes are healing well and I've gotten over the strange frightening feeling of having my eyelid clamped back and pieces of it pulled out.

Both the nurse and the ophthalmologist were wonderful.  As she did the initial examination with the aid of a slit lamp, I admired Rebecca the ophthalmologist's knowledge and skill in such a specialist area.  I think I found it most interesting because she was a young woman.  There is a part of me which staunchly values the work of running a home and a family and another part of me wants to see so much more of highly skilled professional women.  Living in a small town, the range of specialised skills is not so high as for cities. 

When I was 17, I longed to leave my small town (not the one I currently live in) and seek knowledge and adventure.  I was most unimpressed with my aunts who were always talking about …

Stress, magnesium and love.

I realise that I do indeed have a privileged first world 1.5 income household with food, warmth and shelter pretty much guaranteed so long as I don't develop a gambling habit.  No one hits me, I'm married to a wonderful person, the kids are healthy and lovely and are enjoying and progressing at school.  On the big scale, it's all pretty hunky dory.

If we could zoom in though, I want to write about my recent strategies to manage stress and get my nutrition intake back on track.  At my work, it is absolutely the most busy and pressured time of the year at the moment.  I'm at work what seems like all the time, despite being paid to be at work half of the time.  It will pass and the pressure will, I hope, ease off significantly in a fortnight or so.

I've been losing massive amounts of sleep, which no one has ever been able to convince me is an optimal way to live.  Some nights I've been awake for hours in the wee hours of the morning when I don't even have alco…

How Far is Heaven

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How Far is Heaven is a beautiful film, set in Jerusalem on the Whanganui river, where the Sisters of Compassion, there for over 100 years, still have a base.  We took the children, mostly so we could spend some more time with them rather than getting a babysitter, and they enjoyed and got something out of it as well.  The comments by the nuns about the meaning of compassion (to suffer with) and their concept of being alongside someone/people, gave me much pause for thought.  Please go and see the film if it sounds interesting, as I know I haven't captured what I felt well in this very brief review.  The cinematography is beautiful.

I've finished one sleeve of my pink Miette cardy and started the next.  I'm really keen to have it finished by early November and my floral curtain Colette crepe dress adjusted to wear with it.  I have a theory that if I take the dress up at the shoulders, it will stop falling off my shoulders and thus fit better.  This fitting malarkey seems to…

garden colour and produce

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The genealogical obsession continues.  Thankfully, the children have two parents, which meant they did get to eat meals in the weekend.  Checking just one more source, and then just one more, isn't conducive to cooking tea.  I did find that my 4xgreat grandmother was a midwife though, a profession I admire greatly.

Below is my Chatham Islands forget me not.  It took over a year before this plant bloomed, but looking at that intense shade of blue, I think it was worth the wait.  I'm going to plant some more.



Our little manuka, which I thought was going to die, is flowering.

Iceland poppies.

 Self-sown borage and calendulas.

 There isn't a lot to eat inour garden at the moment.  There is mesclun, of which the red russian kale and the giant red mustard dominate entirely.  I've been putting it into salads and stirfries. We need to eat this up most vigorously in the next fortnight, as the tomatoes need to go in its place soon.

Broad beans.  Half hearted, interrupted att…

Like Dorothy

I feel like I've been plonked down in a weekend after a storm.  I went back to work after a fortnight of mostly time off, and the kids went back to school and swimming lessons and ballet and kung fu and cubs (spot the lengthening list and laugh if you are one of the people whom I told I wasn't going to 'do' extensive extra-curricular activities with my kids) and then last night I collected various vehicles and people and dropped them all off again and picked them up again and then it was my turn to go out and possibly it was a good idea that I was driving so I couldn't give in to the temptation to drink lots.  Not because my life is going wrong; it's actually going wonderfully, but because I was so tired and shell-shocked from the week that drink seemed a good response.

So I listened to a band called Radius and played a game of working out what instruments they were playing.  One of the band members was no help because she said that after mixing up banjos and m…

blue irises against the red red fence.

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This year I put blue irises in the punga raised bed, and now that they are out, I love the look of them against the red fence.

Back in the term time groove, I think I'm doing okay on the extra-curricular front, an aspect of parenting which I try to support, but frequently do so only with poor grace.  Yesterday both kids went to kung fu with FH, and today we started back on swimming lessons.  Ballet is going okay now I can leave Brighid there and not get told off for talking to other parents during the lesson.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a trial run at cubs. 

There were tears at the dinner table tonight.  Fionn's best buddy moves to Auckland at the end of the school year.  I felt for my boy, and didn't say out loud that there might be several more.  Spring Creek indirectly paid a lot of school fees where my children go to school.

I need inspiration for meal planning.  I used to be better than I currently am.  I think this is for two reasons:
1. I used to be home more, so c…

agency, crafting & elderly people

Tonight I was reading Steph C of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World's post on the purpose of sewing for her and her response to greenie interrogation. The response I wrote in her comments section was so long and also threw in some things I'd been intending to share on my blog, that I've pasted a copy of my response here:
"I used to be more focused on living 'greenly'.  I haven't decided that it no longer matters at all.  But I have returned to the paid workforce and now have school aged children and the choices I make are different to the ones I made when they were tiny and I was at home a much bigger proportion of each day.  I see that time I put in when the children were younger as a positive legacy rather than bemoaning that I'm no longer making my own bread and raising all of my plants from seed.  I learnt a lot in the kitchen, in the garden and craft-wise.  We wouldn't have time to build a chook run from scratch now, but we do have the endurin…

The season changes again

This weekend I made some trousers, from the Simplicity 1887 pattern.  The sewing part turned out fine - I do feel I am making progress towards sewing competency.  But the fit is terrible.  The trousers bag out enormously in the thighs and then taper in again and I look like an ice cream cone silhouette.  I've just lined up my pyjama pants on top of them and my elastic waist pjs are considerably more flattering.  I have a whole shelf of non-stretchy fabric awaiting transformation (almost all of it thrifted or gifted to me), but more and more it seems that all the clothes that I like on me are made from stretchy fabric.

The sun came out!  I transplanted the asparagus and the cosmos and the sweet pea which so desperately needed it that I would lose them if I waited until next weekend.  But the rest of my many garden projects will have to wait a little longer.

The car project is nearly at completion stage.  Some time later this week, we will have the ability to travel long distance ag…

Our trusty Nissan, 1991-2012.

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It was at Wilson's Hotel, in Reefton, that we had our last supper before the car started to emanate steam through the bonnet.
Looking eastwards at dusk, this is Reefton with its lovely old buildings and a vista of bush leading to nowhere.
But Reefton, like all of the West Coast, has a long history of speculative excitement.  Even the tearooms.

Mercifully, after the big steam and almost bust, we had enough spare water to get us back to Reefton and add lots more water and fill all the bottles to attempt the journey home.

We got home safely and yesterday I left the car with the wonderful JJ and it was early this afternoon that we learnt that our car, the one which JJ had fixed so many times for us and kept it going and warrant-worthy, was not worth fixing.

Before this tumultuous event, I was spending large amounts of my time and headspace, during this school holiday fortnight, in a genealogical bubble.  I lost interest in blogging, or Eliza, or housework, though I did rouse myself …

Eliza # 4

"Crowded" took on a new meaning on the Jessie Readman.  You might have read the reports that it was clean and comfortable and generally a much better ship than some others which my later friends had the indignity of sailing on.  But comfortable is always a relative term.  Sometimes it means hardly anyone died. 

Cleaning, always cleaning.  Perhaps generously paying upper deck passengers had someone else to clean for them, but on our deck we all had to clean everything to a certain standard by half an hour after breakfast.  As you might imagine, in the women and children section, there was no shortage of officious matrons who lead the charge on making sure we all did our bit.  Not that anyone had a large area to clean, but you can still make a mess in the space it takes to swing a cat.

One day there was something of a commotion in the bunk next to mine.  Mrs Doherty was having a tough time delivering her fifth child.  Blood was running everywhere and the women beside her were …

happy holidays despite usual chaos

One fabulous day, the perfect kind of holiday day, where I get to chat with my friend N while our children play happily.  We went swimming, we ate and we went to the library.  Low cost, high pleasure.

My efforts to streamline our swimming pool visit had dismal results.  I separated my keys so that there weren't so many in the open lockers at the pool.  But, one house key and one car key are not sufficient if I go crazy on the security on our 21 year old, multi-dinged and filthy station wagon and put the clublock on.  FH came over and unlocked it, not even trusting me to borrow his key.  Nice work on the small town front that he was so close.

Next stop, the library.  As seems to be a routine bordering on ritual, this school holidays I realised that a generous but compulsory donation to our local library was going to be necessary if I wanted any more books out.  I'd not found three books for months in the midden, so decided to bite the bullet and pay for the books, a most genero…

Eliza # 3

I'd had no longing to cross the seas, become a 'colonial'.  At the time, I thought books would somehow be the saving of me from a lifetime of preparing dull food and destroying my body with babies.  The preacher in the pulpit wasn't keen on women having any thoughts of their own, but he was keen on everyone being able to read and write so they could read the Bible whenever they weren't doing God's drudgery in the kitchen and on the fields.

The Bible has been no saviour for me, and reading and writing hasn't prevented the endless housework and baby rearing.  I've managed to keep my babies tally down compared to some, but more about that later.

The boat trip over to Port Chalmers gave me a chance to learn a little off the other women.  There were many who were very pious - we were on a boat from Greenock to some vision of a brave new world free of sin after all - but by no means everyone.

There were, it turned out, a couple of 'fallen women' on th…

Eliza # 2

It wasn't so bad, the trip over on the boat.  The Jessie Readman, the ship was called.  The boat was indeed full of crying mothers and babies and the kind of iron rules keeping men and women apart which Mammie would have praised if she'd known and requested if it wasn't like that.  I was a married woman now, but not one who arrived at that state the way my parents intended.

They didn't really know what to make of me, the men at the back of the Albion.  Those who knew my family knew that I should be tucked up in bed with my Bible.  Those who didn't and weren't completely drunk, wondered at my high necked grey dress in a place where women either didn't visit or made money from visiting.  The stupid man who made grabbed at my dress to pull me down didn't count on my brothers walking in at that point.

George Mitchell.  He knew of me, though I was a good few years younger than him.  He humoured me while my brothers were gone, offering me a drink and his arm …

Eliza # 1

Mrs Geo. Mitchell to the rest of the world.  Housewife, cook, sometime mother and keeper of the books.  I'll be Eliza in these letters.

I suppose you want to know if I will tell the truth?  Truth, now that is an overused word around here, and seldom does it tell the story from a woman's point of view.  When Albert Jones beat his wife until the blood seeped through his boots, his truth was that she should have had the dinner ready.  I saw her clutching her stomach before he got home.  I'd heard her vomiting of a morning for a few weeks, and wondered what she would do to feed another child.  Now, she is dead, so is the unborn child, and he looks for someone else to look after his brood.

Perhaps you want to know what it looks like where I live.  Dull.  Brown.  Dirty.  Lives spent chasing sheep, scrabbling for long gone gold, and selling bread, gin and God.  Sex and cooking are never in the census, for women are invisible, or perhaps the shorthand of "married" requir…

holidays

School holidays.  No making school lunches at 7am.  The juggling game stills for a time and we all get to catch up on sleep and time with each other and the garden and the house.

While the sun shone, I set beer traps for the slugs.  Favourite Handyman mowed the lawn and Brighid and I took Mary K (85 and in a rest home) out for a drive.

While the rain poured, I made laundry liquid.  I helped Fionn empty his room of clutter (I think he calls most of it Lego) so that I could vacuum the entire wooden floor.  Favourite Handyman put Fionn's posters up and now the room looks superb. 

Yesterday we all went to the movie Kiwi Flyer.  It was lovely.  A perfect family movie in an old fashioned sense.

This morning I finished Skylark by Jenny Pattrick.  I really enjoyed it, and I'm so pleased that someone has put part of the goldfields story to print, especially since I've still not written up the stories I think need telling yet.  Now that I have five minutes to call my own, I think o…

When the lemons rain around me, I garden.

When a globalised world with impotent local actors threatens to destabilise my sense of autonomy, gardening is my best response.  It allows me to grow food for my family, thus reducing costs and dependence on the supermarket and reducing the food miles aspect to supermarket-purchased vegetables.

I also happen to really really enjoy gardening.

Over the last few days, mostly in the weekend, I sowed sunflower seeds, transplanted my Mrs Kitson's marigolds, weeded, dug in bokashi, sowed phacelia, oriental mesclun, beetroot and a shady garden scatter blend of aquilegias.  I've also bought and planted seedlings of pak choi, two kinds of lettuce (including 'drunken woman' because that name has always appealed to me) and perpetual spinach.  Waiting on the table outside to be planted are dwarf cosmos, two asparagus plants and some coriander.

Inside I'm tending my tomato plants on the windowsill.  I don't sow much seed if I can easily buy seedlings due to time constraints…

Why I am angry with Tony Ryall and his cronies.

How dare this government?  The government which was happy for Don Elder to be paid a salary of $1.3 million and an increasingly top heavy, highly paid arsenal of non-mining bureacrats to suck up profits. 

The government which presided over a mine safety regime which was so grossly unsafe that TWENTY NINE men died and are still underground.  A safety and management regime at Pike River which was so inept that endless lies were peddled as they scrabbled to have any idea what to do when Pike exploded.

I've met Trevor Bolderson a few times and I have enormous respect for him.  I've heard him talk about his experiences in the 1984 miners' strike in England.  He is an astute, intelligent and hugely hard working man.  It was Trevor who presented the proposal from the workers for Spring Creek to Tony Ryall today. 

Tonight at 5pm on the National Radio news, I learnt that Tony Ryall openly admitted he didn't bother to look at the miners' proposal.  Not even the slightest pre…

Spring projects

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The sun shone brightly and the world was a lovely place.  I spent the morning in bed reading Lynda Hallinan's Back to the Land: A Year of Country Gardening, rising only once I'd devoured the entire book.  Great book.  Marking a truly spring day, I donned my floral curtain Colette Crepe dress for the first time.  I asked my daughter to take some pictures.  It's not quite summer, so I teamed my dress with black leggings, a black long sleeved t shirt, odd socks and gumboots.  In keeping with my usual Saturday style, I neither brushed my hair nor washed my face before heading out to the garden.
 I had fun in the garden.  The iceland poppies are flowering in front of the gone-to-seed rocket and beside the garlic.
 I planted out lots of pansies and polyanthus and I even had a go at upgrading the falling down, overgrown and neglected piece of sort-of garden out the very front.  Mostly what this photo shows is the falling downwind shelter, but perhaps you can see where I have tie…

An exercise in chaos

So Brighid is doing ballet.
I've chronicled my ineptness and lack of proper enthusiasm for extra curricular activities fairly thoroughly on this blog, so recidivist readers know that I'm a ballet mum without a licence.  Or a clue.

Cue dancing competitions.

With costumes.  International theme, as the children skip across the room in painfully rehearsed formation to the words "children of the world". 

Which the parents provide.  "Parent" being, for the most part and certainly in my household, a euphemism for the mother.

I screened out the costume aspect for most of the term, having decided we would go Irish and assuming that would be easy peasy to source on Trademe.

On Tuesday I found out that next week is dress rehearsal and it dawned upon me that the actual competitions were less than two weeks away.  I told the teacher that we weren't quite entirely sorted.

That night, and the next, Trademe let me down.

I got a bit flappy, and everything else got a bi…

Miette, Dyson & tomatoes

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So I left 19C Cornwall for a week, and participated in 21C Wetville a little more.  League has finished for the year and the freedom we had in the weekend because of that was beautiful. 



We went to Shantytown and hung out in the rain, and the next day we went to the swimming pool.  We bought a new toy which prompted some housework.

What toy does that, you ask?

The old vaccum cleaner had lost its suck.  I'd kept it going for an extra two years beyond when I first thought it needed replacing by lots of cleaning of the brushes and making do (and, it could easily be argued, by not using it very often).  I thought I'd shift from my Dyson, but when I researched my options, Dyson came out on top by a million miles.

So the house is quite a bit cleaner than usual which is lovely.  Long may the interest in using the new toy last.

I'm making quite good progress with my Miette cardigan.  I'm knitting the pattern as per the size 42" instructions.  I wasn't confident to mak…

head in the clouds

It's evening, so my head has been in 19th century Cornwall for the most part.

No fabric, patterns or clothing purchases.  I spent the potential fabric purchase money on ordering death certificates.

Things which have finished: drum lessons, league practices and games and a reduction in kung fu attendance.  The difference in smoothness of a week is noticeable already, and it is only Tuesday.  There is a five week gap between league finishing and swimming lessons starting.  I'm enjoying it.  This does remind me that I need to sort out a costume for the ballet competitions this holidays though.

Ouch ouch ouch on the job cuts in provincial New Zealand already this week.

Recent developments in my garden: first iceland poppy (orange) out.  Lovage has re-emerged.  Feverfew and white sage taking off.  One bay tree appears to be flowering.  It's never done that before.  There is a flowerhead emerging from the Chatham Island Forget Me Not and one from an aquilegia - firsts!

good bad great

Good: the new Cornish project is still fascinating me.  Today I learnt about hedging practices and forced enclosures over the past 300 years and I found information about my great x 4 grandparents who married in 1769 and my great x 3 grandparents who married in 1804 and my great x 2 grandparents who married in 1837.  I want to learn about how my great grandmother learnt to read and write in the period before compulsory schooling and some more about Methodism in their part of Cornwall. 

Bad: The housework fairy didn't visit over night.

Great: the rugby league season has finished for the year!

the new hobby

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In our town, it has never been easier to find a park (except perhaps on certain days in November 2010) and at the supermarket in what is normally the crazy peak just after work hour on pay day night, there were two lanes free.  By day, I do my normal things, like alternately harass and adore my kids (actually the adore bit is usually at night when they are asleep), organise food, go to work, visit Mary K, do loads of laundry, conspicuously not manage any other housekeeping and thus witness the slide into Septemberitis which happens after eight months of busyness each year, chat to my friends, discuss the state of the world with FH, and sneak out into the garden even just to admire the current sea of white and yellow on green formed by the daisies on the unmown lawn, the daffodils and the white and yellow irises and the rocket run to seed.

By night I have a new hobby. 

I've had this bug before, when I was 19.  My flatmate would warn people at parties: "Watch out!  She'll t…