Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The thing which annoyed me most today

The supermarket. For many adults, they have little choice about going to the supermarket. You people in your flash big towns of more than ten thousand people, you might assume that online grocery shopping is available to us all but you are wrong. Somehow, we all need to get some food.

Our local supermarket has a Lotto shop in it. It is depressing watching how many people line up for Lotto (sitting on a raffle stall opposite the Lotto counter makes it hard to avoid), but equally who am I to say that spending $6 on a Lotto ticket is better or worse than spending it on a glass of beer or wine at the pub.

After the checkout at our supermarket, you have to walk past the Lotto shop to get out of the building. There is no other exit. But the new development which annoyed me so considerably is that there is now the phrase "What would you do?" written on the floor with footprints painted on going towards the Lotto counter. For people with gambling addictions or vulnerable to overspending on gambling products, this seems particularly cruel. It's also styled to be appealing to kids. Pester power on the Lotto front is ten steps too far,

I huffed and puffed to myself over the degeneration of the world and bought a raffle ticket from the table opposite the Lotto counter instead. Of course it's gambling, and like so often with well meaning local hampers, I'm not at all sure I want to win the third prize, but the money stays local. Local in this instance is school camp for kids at one of the lower decile schools in the area. I hope they have a great time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Green things

This is not quite how tomatoes look in the magazines. Or in the gardens of sensible people, dare I say 'normal' gardeners. Those people stake their plants properly. I staked mine with sticks which didn't withstand the last big wind and then the prone stakes prevented the plants from recovering upwards. The tomatoes are finally ripening though, and they taste good.
This is hardly Home and Garden country either. But it is testament to the enduring prettiness of self seeded borage and calendula in the face of total neglect. I did plant some red onions in this patch, and a tomato plant and a chilli, but they got swamped long ago.
Favourite Handyman stacked this. I think it is excellent.
More crazy overgrownness. Canna lillies, roses, tansy, lemon balm, red hot poker and a dahlia, twined throughout with convulvulus. I still love my red fence.
The next sewing project is the green top above (B)

Remember the $4 too-pink jacket? No longer pink. St Patrick's Day, I am ready. Throw me cheesey Irish jokes (and Guinness) and I will wear it back.
I undid the sleeve cuffs before I dyed it and now have to rehem them. Along with hemming the floral curtain Colette crepe dress.

Today we began something new. Brighid started ballet lessons. I think that makes me a ballet mother. I'm not cut out for that. But she loved it and I have a fellow non-ballet-mum-type friend to hang out with while I watch her trip around in pink kit so the omens are quite good considering.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The new decade

I'm back in cyberspace again, one week, a new modem, about a hundred trips to Dick Smith, endless expensive cords which were never the right one the first time, later.

In the interim, I turned 40. It was a great night. I only decided to do a party once I had a weather forecast a few days beforehand, which did rather knock out inviting anyone who didn't live down the road. I cleaned the laundry (wash house in my world) to such a shining, usable, uncluttered state that I considered holding the entire bash beside the tumble drier. As it was, Favourite Handyman lit the brazier and kept us toasty warm outside until the wee hours of the next morning.

I've almost finished my floral curtain colette crepe dress. I really like it, though quite where I should wear it is unclear and even less clear is what possessed me to hanker after such an item. It is quite flattering, apart from the bit where the pattern on the bodice is off kilter slightly and it gives the effect that one boob is sliding down to the floor while the other one is just that dignified bit raised above my waist. That feature is not so perfect. On the pedantic learning to sew front, I think I have improved the fit on the first attempt. I will post a photo, but not one where I haven't washed my hair for days, which is the only possibility since I attached the skirt to the bodice yesterday.

I read about a zillion books while there was no screen to distract me. None of them were amazing enough to recommend highly except perhaps Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout (who wrote Olive Kitteridge) which is an interesting exploration of the way a small community will happily pick apart a weak member, like in this case the bereaved young minister, but be lost and shaken up to support him when he gives up, breaks down.

In between novels which were only okay (when I ration my reading time, then I only continue with really good ones for the most part), I read books about bodies and clothes and food. Which of course bears no relationship to turning forty. I told myself that for a while and then gave in to the obvious connection. Trinny And Susannah: what you wear can change your life was okay. The most life changing likelihood of a piece of clothing seems to me to be if you trip over it and break a bone, but T & S were more optimistic than that. It was annoying that they talked about clothing in terms of being attractive for someone else (partner, husband, prospective partner/husband) but I guess it was that kind of book. I spent two nights reading a book about living a low carb lifestyle. I munched bread as I read on both occasions. Last night I read about good bugs and probiotics after three glasses of wine which also turned out not to be good brownie behaviour. It seems I prefer to think on nutrition rather than act on it.

I tried to balance out a general desire to spend money with some decluttering after reading Trinny and Susannah. I took 1 top, 2 dresses, 1 pair of trousers and a skirt to the Sallies. The two dresses I took because I was so sick of wearing them that I wanted to stop myself from being able to. I came home from the same trip to town with two pairs of leggings and some pjs which turned out not to fit. Never mind what T and S say, my new rule for clothing success is to try everything, even jammies, on in the shop.

Global Fabrics send samples, y'know, and then you can order over the telephone. I'm not sure if this is good or bad, but I have placed an order in the scientific interests of finding out.

I cleaned today. I cleaned our bedroom. There can be only one answer to such oddities, that I should be doing something else. I suppose so, I always should be doing something else. Anyways, tonight I shall sleep in a luxurious lack of dust, with fresh sheets and plumped pillows and unencumbered by newspapers dating back three months beside my bed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Looking forward to the sangria project

Sewing is so quiet! After the intense shock of a Monday, sitting down with my floral curtain dress project (which is coming along nicely thank you, just need to buy some lining fabric for the bodice to make the next step) is bliss. My children are blessed with particularly fabulous teachers this year, only today they began their homework programme. Whoah. I've mostly ignored homework in past years beyond listening to reading and a bit of maths, but it does appear that that loose excuse for a formal home learning regime is at an end. I carefully prepared all the swimming gear for the children and a snack for them after school and whipped out of my work meeting early to collect them for swimming lessons. Next week I must remember that I need a snack after school to get me through watching the lessons.

In preparation for turning the corner into another decade, I'm looking forward to my great friend Jan from university days coming over the big hill to visit and a sangria-filled night. According to google, this recipe is very good.

My sister sent me this link: Don't look at my ass in asana. Although I'm not a yoga practitioner myself (too quiet for me when I tried), Jessica Powers' argument remains awesome from a wider perspective. Then there is this post from my sister her very own astute self: Talkin bout a revolution. The book she mentions is indeed wonderful - luckily my sister gave me a copy. I should do something about blowing up the stencil images in it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dire dangerous dumb things from the Sunday Star Times

and that's just the front page (12 Feb 2012). A deliberately inflammatory and pandering to racist persons lead article: "Ethnic rights advice stuns communities" The largest image is of the head of a burka-clad person with just eyes showing through. The three images below are of men with names. That pissed me off quite enough without dealing with the flimsy nature of the content which isn't substantial enough to warrant front page news for any reason except playing to a red neck and racist audience. Can someone tell me why covered and heavily veiled, unspecific and unveiled Muslim women are invoked as a symbol of danger in our media so ridiculously often?

As for the next article: "Spoonful of obesity anyone?", I can only reflect on my own stupidity for paying money to people who litter their front pages with such drivel. Some flimsy piece of research showed that babies who led their own food intake by using their fingers rather than being fed by a spoon were skinnier than the spoon fed children. It is unclear from the article how long the follow-up period was, and possibly it is based solely on the period from six to 24 months.

Because we all know that there is now NOTHING more dangerous than being obese. It's really important that we foster self-belief and good body image in our babies by freaking out over how the food gets in their tiny darling mouths.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Floral curtain project begun

I have begun the floral curtain fabric Colette crepe wrap over dress. I've only cut the bodice front and back and sewn one dart but I can report already that I love it. In all its resplendent-Grandma's-curtains-ness.

While I'm talking clothes, these things have merits, merits so meritorious that I have to show them here.
Exhibit A: the model of the Goddess bra, new to Avokado. It's ridiculously rare to see a curvacious lingerie model, but I am delighted this time. Clearly, in order to endorse and support this choice, I shall have to buy the bra.
Exhibit B: The boots I have on layby. Mine are black not red, only because I have not yet reached that wealthy point in my life when I can own enough pairs of boots to have black and red. I will admit to having my eye on some red shoes though. Black boots plus red shoes isn't so extravagant. They have a flat sole because I need to walk everywhere all the time in winter boots, not just clip clop around work making a noise in heeled boots.

I have no garden achievements, no new kitchen achievements and no political analysis to offer of any kind. Whenever I write such a line, I feel compelled to look around the web even very briefly, slightly scared that I might really have no thoughts in my brain. My first port of call tends to be the Guardian newspaper website, and so I tender here for your viewing and my kitchen looks-good-maybe-sometime-soon-never-mind-the-fussy-kids list, an article and recipe on the perfect tom yum soup. I found the perfect tom yum soup once at a restaurant in Kingsland in Auckland only when we went back for more another night they never took my food order. I'd order another gin each time the waitress finally appeared and then she would disappear before I could snatch her apron and get her to write down some food on her pad of wonder-instructions. We went elsewhere after that, back in the heady days of no kids and regular restaurant consumption, because lots of gin and no food at the end of a tough working week is bad.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The freezing machine

We are now the proud owners of a small chest freezer, about one third of the size of the massive chest freezer my parents have. When I was a child they had two massive chest freezers. My new freezing machine comes from Mary K, who no longer needs it now she is living in a rest home. Perhaps this new capacity for frozen goods will transform my life and grant me unforeseen efficiencies in the kitchen. Right now I'm mighty pleased if I can cobble dinner together of a late afternoon, let alone cooking in advance and freezing goodly sized amounts.

I have bought some pastry and extra bread and butter and put in the basket. Don't talk to me about trans fats and bought pastry. I wear my blinkers for my own mental safety.

I also have a box of daffodil bulbs that I dug from Mary K's front garden/lawn. These bulbs are over sixty years old and come from the garden of Mary's late in laws. I'm looking forward to dividing and growing them on in Wetville soil and enjoying them for a long time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Still Here

After a fabulous weekend, I am back in blur land. Once upon a time I thought life post children was about a) going out to paid work OR b) staying home and looking after children. Then, when reality hit when I went back to work, I realised that going out to paid work does not mean that the home stuff is magically done by someone else. It means that the other stuff has to get done round the edges. I cannot pretend that I enjoy running three loads of washing through in the evening and washing the toilet and porch floors while FH reads to the children and washes the dishes. But I have experienced living in a home (my own) that is chaotic beyond any reasonable functioning level, and therefore I accept that some evening housework is my reality. Just as soon as I can create a window in our budget, I'll be on the lookout for a cleaner.

Still, life is beautiful in many other ways. I read Still Here by Linda Grant in the weekend. She is one of my current trilogy of favourite authors, up there with Andrea Levy and Geraldine Brooks. I didn't really want to leave Alix Rebick's world, her stories from Liverpool and Dresden and the stories of the bloke from Chicago. It is one of several books I've enjoyed lately which have made Jewish life and histories central to the narrative. When we lived in Gants Hill on the edge of East London, the Jewish friends we made opened a window into another a culture I'd known nothing about previously. I'm now hungry to read everything of Linda Grant's just as I was with Andrea Levy. I first discovered Linda Grant with The Clothes on Their Backs which is fabulous.



We went up to the Fox River market on Sunday. It runs on or near Waitangi Day each year and is wonderful. I discovered a fried bread stall this time and despite all that I understand about gluten and carb-intensive food, I have a longing to make this stuff myself.
We stopped at Punakaikai on the way home. How could life be anything but wonderful with scenery like this so close?

I found a link to an article on an upcoming feature on 20/20 on fat activism via The Lady Garden and thought I would share it here. Although we don't have a telly, I'm sure it will fill an important role in spreading the ideas and messages of fat activism in a New Zealand context, which has to be a good thing.