Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mokihinui River bliss

The most wonderful holiday, at the Rough and Tumble Lodge, on the banks of the Mokihinui River.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

goldfields poetry

Poll the Grogseller

by Charles Thatcher c.1860
Big Poll the Grogseller gets up every day
And her small rowdy tent sweeps out;
She's turning in plenty of tin people say
For she knows what she's about.
Polly's good-looking, and Polly is young,
And Polly's possessed of a smooth oily tongue;
She's an innocent face and a good head of hair,
And a lot of young fellows will often go there;
And they keep dropping in handsome Polly to court,
And she smiles and supplies them with brandy and port
And the neighbours all say that the whole blessed day,
She is grog-selling late and early.
She is grog-selling late and early.

Two sly-grog detectives have come up from town,
And they both roam about in disguise;
And several retailers of grog are done brown,
And have reason to open their eyes.
And have reason to open their eyes.

Of her small rowdy crib they are soon on the scent;
But Polly's prepared when they enter her tent;
They call for some brandy - "We don't sell it here,
But", says Poll, "I can give you some nice ginger beer,"
And she adds, "do you see any green in my eye?
To your fine artful dodge and disguise I am fly;
For if Polly you'd nail, you'd have, without fail,
To get up in the morning early."

 Widely available - this online version also has a recording.

and one from now:

Country Pub

They're changing the style of the pubs in the land,
They're trying to make each one look like the Grand.
From Queenstown to Kyeburn it's modern d├ęcor,
With wall to wall carpet across the bar floor.

There's wining and dining and neon and chrome,
And the comforts are better than those back at home.
And oysters and cray are the counter lunch grub,
To a band or the TV in an old country pub.

The high country musterer now takes off his boots
And spurs, and refrains from language that pollutes.
While the tired greasy shearer must shower and scrub,
Before he can drink in the old country pub.

Old Jackie the rabbiter came for a drink,
His clothes - blood and guts - bore a terrible stink.
As an escort for blow flies he was the main hub
And a dog or two followed him into the pub.

But Freddie the publican dropped in a faint,
And a tourist from Sydney turned green with the taint.
So Jack jumped in his jeep and took off for the scrub-
Now he's making home brew in an old copper tub.

Mixed drinking means changes a man cannot flout
For swilling and swearing and fighting are out,
While spitting or throwing a cigarette stub,
On the floor is taboo in an old country pub.

The top dressing pilot, the plumber and "Chips"
The pensioner, in for a couple of nips,
Will soon need a reference like some high-toned club,
Before they can drink at the old country pub.

By Blue Jeans
found on the Ancient Briton pub of Naseby website

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The archives box

Tonight I pulled out my archives box.  It doesn’t look like anything so formal as the descriptor “archives box” implies.  It’s a plastic box with no surviving lid that is full to overflowing with filing cards.  It’s the size and type which people sometimes used to use to organise their recipes.  The chaos is contained, just, by an ageing, plastic, tattered, pale green Pak’n’Save bag.

This box has been with me since 1995.  Back then, it was my workhorse of an organising tool for the details of the lives of women involved in the liquor industry in Central Otago between 1861 and 1901.  After I submitted my thesis in 1997, I moved on and became a secondary school English teacher, first in Auckland and then in London.  It came with me.  I became a parent and the box didn’t suffer for the vomit and mess which babies seem to bring with them, because the box was tucked away in a bookcase, or under a desk, out of my mind and the baby’s grasp.

I moved back to goldfields country and to another round of motherhood and more time in the secondary classroom.  The ebb and flow of an economy heavily dependent on extractive industry shaped the life of my new community just as it had the lives of the women who stayed in goldfields towns of Central Otago 140 years earlier.  Many left then, of course, just as so many have left my new home town of Greymouth in recent years as the price of coal mining has been counted in 29 deaths and hundreds of jobs.

I only noticed my box when I was cleaning the relevant room.  Regular readers know that’s rather infrequently.  Never, never, was I willing to throw my box out.  Those cards, organised by a woman’s name in the top right hand corner, and filled out by hand, represented hundreds if not thousands of hours of puzzle work.  Of reading newspapers on microfiche, of reading original books of licensing court records and police gazettes, of studying probates and magistrate’s court records.

Then earlier this week, out of the blue, I received a request to turn my work on women hotelkeepers on the Central Otago goldfields into a chapter for a book.  This afternoon I found a formal invitation in my inbox, and although I quake in my boots at some aspects of this (16 years out of date on historiography is a s-e-r-i-o-u-s deficiency), there is another part of me which is no longer willing to say no because I have child care responsibilities, or just lots of responsibilities at work as well as at home.  Here is the part of me that is excited to be ‘thinking history’ again. 

A new journey begins.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hummingbird peplum top # 2

Well, that's much better, isn't it?

Cake Patterns Hummingbird top.  Size 40 with the following modifications: a forward shoulder adjustment of 18mm.  An extra 3-10mm on the sides (more on the front than the back).  A 1cm wedge out of the back.  The neckline is a bit wider than the green version, and the depth of the front neckline is in between the blue and green versions.  I dropped the arm curve about 2cm.

In another version (which I may well do), I would slice a tiny curve off the top of the shoulder.  I wouldn't mind trying the dicky version.  This gorgeous version from Leila of Three Dresses has convinced me that it's worth a try.  I bought some pale blue fabric, for reasons that I wasn't even sure of at the time, except that I was on a speed buying mission, and it didn't feel right to leave without some blue fabric.  For the dickey insert, I'm thinking of repurposing a striped blue shirt which Favourite Handyman has declared uncomfortable and unwearable.  Maybe stripe matching would be too hard, on closer inspection.  We'll see. 

Tomorrow, a new circle skirt.  From beginning to end in a day? 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The night time secretariat

There was a fashionable mantra a few decades ago, aimed primarily at working mothers, where it was all about working smarter not harder.  Haven't heard so much about it lately, possibly (I like to think) because someone clipped some smart-arse over the head for quipping this when said everyday superwoman was actually working smart and hard.

When I started a new working life in Auckland in 1999, it was pre internet banking and really difficult to find time to go to the bank.  Now, I can do almost anything online in financial terms and I can do it at 3am if I so desire.

Once upon a time, post internet banking and deep into the (earth)motherhood phase, I made hummous without electricity (e.g. here and here).  Just re-reading those posts is a reminder of another life.  All that home made bread - I'm so impressed with my four-years-ago self.  Now, as a mystery ghost cracked the top of my perfect-sized hummous making whizzy bowl which came with my super-whizzy stick, I'm oblivious to peak oil.  It's electricity and plastic (maybe glass and chrome the way I'm ogling the Kenwood brochure) all the way as I consider buying a food processor which can grate and whizz and mouli in nanoseconds.

It's all about saving a few minutes.  How fast could I whizz up stirfry ingredients in a food processor?  How useful to make threee cans' worth of hummous at once?  Although the slow movement is a fabulous thing, it's an aspirational thing now that might not even be quite aspirational, more like just distant but nice.  Like being skinny.  That's distant but nice.

I started writing about the night time secretariat because it seemed that my smarter rather than harder type strategy is that I run our family life via email at night.  I've emailed Fionn's school about a trip (hard working super teacher still working and replied within minutes), the cub leader about badges (the hard working super leader replied within minutes), a friend about holidays arrangements, another friend about swimming lessons and a sleepover later this week.  I've emailed a backpackers about pricing and availability for kung fu camp in August.  I've also looked at reviews for a Kenwood food processor.  Time management, you know.  Buy the best and save time by not having to replace it.  This was all once the children were in bed.  It was once I'd been down to (paid) work while they were at kung fu.  Three more days 'til the school holidays.

I've looked at my sewing.  My step towards sewing was to fold piles of washing so there was somewhere to lay the pieces out another night for cutting.  Then I put more washing in the machine, somewhat negating any possibility that the lounge would ever be free of washing.  Three more days of the school term.  Just three.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hummingbird alterations

Forward shoulder adjustment, dropped armhole curve, a wedge out of the back, raised back and front necklines and a smidge extra on the sides of the front and back.  I found some tape (the label on the inside says "future protect") which is much easier to work with than sellotape.

I think I'm ready to cut out the Cake green hummingbird (with blue sleeves) peplum top for a second time.  The first version was ugly.  I've got a choice of fabrics which I purchased in a speed buying trip to Fabric Vision in Christchurch earlier this week.  I got to Papanui (the suburb where Fabric Vision resides) at 1.15pm, and had to be in town, parked and at the hospital by 2pm, preferably having had some lunch.  Not quite the perfect conditions for careful evaluation of the options, but I had thought ahead about what I wanted to use the fabric for.  The pink in the photo is what I think is known as 'slinky knit' and was very cheap.  The other pattern is a soft knit which I hope works well for the Hummingbird.  I also bought some pale blue (what's with the pale?  I don't know) and two lengths of black for Hummingbird skirts.

Now I'm going to bed to read The Hunger Games.  Fionn wants me to read it and I'm treasuring that bit. Sharing his reading life with me might not happen forever.