Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas passed

Well it came and it went. There was a magnificent roast pork dinner with home grown potatoes and local carrots and peas (uncooked). The pudding was just right and boiled to perfection along with its raspberry sauce and whipped cream (unsweetened and home whipped). Then we just sat and talked until tea time.

That consisted of my own lettuce with trimmings and raspberry vinaigrette, a mutton ham from the local butcher and three puddings made by my sister who is a dab hand at them. She did a ginger wine and passionfruit trifle to die for.

Our presents ran true to form. I scored a ghastly china wheelbarrow and watering can which I now have to display for a year (fortunately they are small!) along with a cd I already have (cos he gave me the same one last year and he knew it!) and some chocs. The kids got an amazing kite each in the shape of boats and an aeroplane flight. They've never been on a plane before so this is extra special. One of them got a ballet ticket earlier, the other got to order some books on line and altogether they did pretty well. Even the ungreen side managed to come up with only a few sweets and some board games and a water pistol each which was pretty good.

I think the non plastic message is getting through to quite a few of them now - even my husband is starting to see the light! They did notice the lack of wrapping paper too so you never know...

Hope everyone out there had a good time

viv in nz

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I was going to write something for the apls carnival but I just couldn't get any sort of handle on it. I know children are our future and that we should take care of them but all this has been said so many times before and in so many ways that it just gets depressing. I think doing is much better than talking about it and bringing up the kids has been my mission since they were born. Even there I can only do my best and hope it is enough to set them up for their future whatever that may be.

If they need stuff I do my best but they also have to understand that there is a difference between want and need and that want will get a pretty short shrift until need is met. Even then they will only get what I think is appropriate for their age. This means that when there is a treat it is cherished and remembered as a special thing.

Christmas is a case in point. All of us will only give one serious present for each child. They will get about 7 presents altogether and that will be it. They will get two Christmas dinners because that is how we have done the two families from the beginning. So 3 presents will happen early and the rest on the day.

I find it hard to believe that children receive so much unnecessary junk these days. What is it that we think they should be valued to the max on credit cards? Maybe there is guilt in there that says we don't spend time with them and therefore must pay for their love and all that. Surely there are better things we could be doing with our time and theirs than being absent while earning yet more money to spend on more stuff.

My grandmother had this weird idea that if she gave us lots of things, we would love her more. This did the opposite in actual fact. It just made us feel uncomfortable and obligated to visit. We went from a sense of duty, not from love. And yet we did love her. We just wished she wouldn't be like that and quite a few of us never visited unless they couldn't get out of it.

This attitude seems to have spread out into most corners of society. The results are groups of alienated children with no self respect and an unhealthy desire for things rather than community. We were lucky. Our parents did not do this and we never felt alienated from them (although we might beg to disagree on some points!). We were allowed to grow up and leave freely with our values clear along with our minds. We might make wrong choices or idiotic decisions but they would never be anti social and we never felt we couldn't go home.

I hope I am able to do as good a job with our kids as was done for me.

viv in nz

Monday, December 1, 2008

techy stuff

I have come to the conclusion that I am not tech minded. The only thing I can do ok is type and this is due to the fact that I took typing as an extra at school some 30 plus years ago. The machines we learned on were mechanical with clunky keys that were so heavy I never could use my little finger properly. I figured it would be a useful thing to know even if I never worked in an office.

I was right there.

Unfortunately I never learned computer skills. I found even an electric typewriter to be a bit of a challenge although I have to admit they were an improvement over the non electric chunks of steel I learned on originally. I did like word processors when they came out. I could make mistakes and never have to use white out again. The green screen was interesting....if you stared at it too long, it affected your eyes so that every white surface looked pink. Amber screens were much better.

Then I got a computer. Shortly after that I lost a computer to my new partner. (I had to fall for an IT guy!) He fixes my mess ups and does the stuff I find incomprehensible. He gets confused as to why I can't do stuff he considers child's play. I reply that it might be simple for him but to me it is double dutch and if I try stuff it will crash and burn.

I can appreciate the uses these gizmos have, but don't expect me to use them until they are a lot more user friendly. I am giving my cellphone to the eldest for Christmas. I have tried to use it a few times over the last two years but really can't see the advantage. Every time I do want to use it there's either no credit or no battery power or I can't remember the password and anyhow there's a landline right there which costs nothing!

I am not a techhie person and that's that! When the computer can hold a conversation with me about what I want to do I'll consider trying the fancy stuff but not before!

viv in nz

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I spent much of today reading about the failure of suburbia in the USA. Interesting the various scenarios that came up in the comments in particular. I think I wasted a whole afternoon on it and still am not really convinced of any of the forecasts although quite a lot of them had good points to make.

None of this really applies round here as the city I live in is rather small and only has one smallish outer suburb which should survive quite nicely by itself.

The points that most interested me were those relating to items we may not have again and I began thinking along the lines of electronics and plastics. On the whole they are right in that things cannot continue as they are but there are other ways.

This got me thinking about recycling and plastic and other resources too. It seems to me that there will always be some of these things available for general use as long as we can mine our landfills. I think it should be possible to continue to make high technological items as far into the future as we can exist as long as we treat things with a bit (a lot) more respect.

Some stuff doesn't need high tech and in fact would be better with a lot lower tech. I mean who really needs a household clothes dryer when it is just as easy to hang washing on the line. It should be possible to have a community laundry for those emergencies when the sun doesn't shine. To say nothing of our vast over use of plastic bottles, bags and chemical additives which appear in everything from cleaning fluids to liquid soap and even food!

We don't need to travel vast distances on fancy holidays and, as a matter of fact this is only a recent phenomenon. Most of our grandparents would have stayed near home or done day trips and picnics. Around this country there was always the family crib (holiday house) usually on a lake or sea front. These were cheap and unpretentious and housed numerous families of cousins, brothers, sisters, their offspring, their friends etc. (Our own family crib was exactly 3/4 hour away and there we spent our three weeks holiday every year.)

I have come to the conclusion that what I would like to see is a society that lives locally and in communities with access to world communication via computers etc but that still has roots deep in the local economy and soil. I don't think we all need to be farmers or market gardeners. That would be a waste of the many other talents that abound in humanity. There should be a place for artists and musicians, dancers and actors and scientists of all kinds. My utopia would have a place, however lowly, for every person living in it so that nobody need go hungry or unappreciated.

Not half asking for much am I :)

And yet this should be possible even in a less than perfect way.

Perhaps we should tell the speculators, bankers and commercial pushers to go do something useful for a change and then ban hoarding of resources and big business for profit. Any necessary monopoly should be owned for the people by the people. (water, power for example).

sing for your supper and live life to the full always with the mantra of doing no harm to yourself or the environment and try to leave things the better for your existence.

viv in nz

Saturday, November 22, 2008


We went out to a party tonight but it wasn't just any old party, it was a hangi dinner set up by friends up the road. The hangi is an earth oven made by digging a hole, setting a fire in the bottom and covering it with rocks which heat up as they sink through the fire.

When it is deemed hot enough the unburnt wood is removed and a layer or green stuff is put over the hot rocks followed by the food(usually in metal crates) and then an old sheet followed by several sacks (all very wet). After that the whole lot is buried in soil and left to its own devices for several hours. Then it is carefully unburied and served. Traditionally it is men who do this cooking (sort of like barbecues I suppose).

This one contained lots of pumpkin, potatoes, kumera (sweet potato) whole chicken and a large chunk of wild pork (head included which the boys thought was great). It was delicious :)

Then we sat round in the candle light for a bit watching the stars come out. We didn't stay too late because the boys are still young and need some sleep!

A great finish to the week.

viv in nz

Friday, November 21, 2008


I visited a close friend in hospital today. She fell in her house and now is incapacitated for a few weeks. At 87 I suppose this is to be expected but it doesn't make it any easier. I just hope she will be able to go home again but I think things are not looking good that way.

She is legally blind and has been for several years but still lives by herself with various people coming in to help. She paid me to read to her for a fair while although I'd have done that for nothing and the same goes for her home help (another friend). Basically her body is fading away but her mind is still as sharp as ever and her hearing is also quite good.

She is a good caring person and we will do our best just because we like her. I finished her Christmas present this morning so that she will have it for the hospital - it makes things a little more personal when you have to be there for a while (it is a light weight quilt come knee rug.)

I just hope she will get back home.....

viv in nz

Monday, November 17, 2008

Don Quixote

Well, William did his bit as one of the town children in the royal new zealand ballet performance of Don Quixote and thoroughly enjoyed it. He looked really cute in his little pinstriped waistcoat and trousers. And here he is with his two girlfriends.

Friday, November 14, 2008

another busy day I glad today has finished. Somehow everything seems to have happened in two days and tomorrow looks worse if possible.

It started with everyone sleeping in so the boys were running late for school. After that I did the shopping and then tried to finish a quilt and make bread and do all the usual house work whilst planning a plate for the christmas party held by the patchwork guild.

All of a sudden it was after school and a frantic pick up of one extra child from a different school along with the normal pickup and a race to get to the ballet rehearsal by 3.30. Then a drop off of eldest to art class and back to the rehearsal to see what they would be doing.

William and two of the girls from his ballet class are to be extras in the ballet Don Quixote put on by the Royal New Zealand Ballet over the weekend. A real thrill for them! Tomorrow they get their costumes and do the dress rehearsal and then the first performance in the evening. The second performance is on Sunday.

After the rehearsal we rushed home to get ready for the party. I'm afraid it was fish and chips for tea and then out for the evening. I didn't win any prizes this year but there's always next year. The food was great - mostly home made yummy. William will be a member next year as a student. Then a fast bed time for him before today's efforts of more school and ballet.

Tomorrow is even worse. Eldest and I have french horn practice followed by symphonic band. Meanwhile William has a normal ballet class for the end of year concert (where he also won a role), an hour for lunch, a costume fitting, a dress rehearsal, tea (hopefully) and then a performance. A bit high powered for a 10 year old so I hope he survives ok!

I'm thinking we might not get much else achieved this weekend.

viv in nz

Saturday, November 8, 2008


To buy local round here is actually quite easy when it comes to food. Most things are labeled and the farmers market is open all year round and it only does local. It helps that we are about a zillion miles from nowhere too. We tend to be too far and too small for most exporters.

Life gets much harder when you get to clothes. Basically there is no local apart from some woolly things and they tend to be so expensive that few can afford them. There are local clothes manufactured but not the cloth that goes into them so I don't really think that counts. So I compromise here and get what I need second hand or new but only on an infrequent basis.

I do support local products whenever I can and I think this is important because money spent locally stays local for at least that cycle. It supports infrastructure too so that we don't depend solely on overseas input.

The idea, to my way of thinking, is to balance the incoming goods with outgoing goods so that wealth doesn't leave the country and also, we don't rip off other countries. If proper globalisation was instituted, this balance would be implemented all over so that everyone got their slice of pie. Hoarding should really be banned as it isolates wealth from the system. I think that all wealth hoarded should decrease in value, not increase as at present.

By the same token, I think credit should only be used for a narrow range of purposes and that you should need to justify whatever credit you do ask for. This was how our great grandparents operated and I don't think it should have changed.

So there you have it,

Buy local whenever possible

Balance the books at all levels....and

Don't use credit inappropriately.

viv in nz

Thursday, November 6, 2008


It snowed here. Lots! I planted all my lettuces and tomatoes and it turned back into winter.

On a brighter note...our Steiner was visited by a class of Steiner children from Australia and they thought the snow was wonderful, not being used to such stuff. Tomorrow they are going to climb our street amongst other things (world's steepest) before heading back north.

The snow has already nearly melted - its too warm to last fortunately - but I wonder what this means global warming wise. To my mind the weather has got freakier over the last few years which does not bode well for gardens and my tomatoes for starters. Food production may be limited in ways we haven't thought of just because of these weather patterns.

I'll wait and see what happens next.

viv in nz

Friday, October 31, 2008

The future is not bright

It's a windy cool sort of day today and I intend to plant my lettuces and some tomatoes later. There have been a number of people coming into the shop but no sales so far. The sales so far this season have been about a third of what they were last year and there is a noticeable lack of tourists around. Only two bus tours this morning and neither of them the profitable variety.

The future is not looking very bright round here.

DH has only one week of full time work left and then he is back on contracts. This tends to be short term profit but long term too unreliable.

I am going to move all the kitchen stuff out into the rest of the house later so that we can start ripping up the floor in there and get it redone with proper insulation and also to mouse proof it. I have had enough of clearing away mouse poo every morning off all my kitchen surfaces and I suspect that some of the tummy upsets round here are the result of this.

I would love to get the bathroom done too but the money is not there for that. William will have to sleep in the shop on the stretcher for a while longer yet. He is going to use the old bathroom as a bedroom eventually and we cribbed a bit of his brothers room to make it a bit larger.

I read about the size of those McMansions but I can't say I'm really all that jealous even if you could fit our entire house into one room. At least our heating bill is very small. House work is minimal too. Only takes about 30 minutes to do the lot. However I would like the house to be finished!

I hope there is a future left for the boys.

viv in nz

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

th tax man cometh

I don't really mind taxes on the whole. I know they get spent on stuff I don't approve of as well as stuff I use and do approve of but that's alright because life has to be compromised in some places. What I really hate is how the tax is always for last year. Somehow we always end up paying heaps of tax in a year with hardly any income - being self employed can be a real bummer sometimes. Even in a good year you end up paying for all the stuff you couldn't pay for in the previous year because that year you were struggling with the tax from the previous year and I think you get the idea.

Maybe next year I'll finally get a bathroom.... Maybe even the kitchen!!! With a real sink and an oven :)

Dreams are free.

Hey...maybe we'll be able to have a bedroom and stop sleeping in the living room. There's a radical thought.

I do see why people spend money on lotteries. Sometimes it's the only way out.

Well, at least the tax will be paid by next week.

viv in nz

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cat Days

I thought about doing the APLS thing but really left it too late so here is my take on being a stray.

Hello, my name is Chainsaw. I was born in the back streets of a down market suburb to a poor and unknown mother. I am just another tabby with nothing really to recommend me to humans as a suitable adoptee. I used to sneak into a local house and eat their dog's food when he wasn't looking but one day I got caught. I was about three months old at the time.

They gave me lots of pats and called me Chainsaw because I purred so loud. They would have liked to keep me but the dog was old and frightened of cats - even such a small one as me. So the day after their sister got married, they gave me to her and I went to live in the little house by the creek.

It was very nice there. There was food and pats and leaves to chase and water to look in and a nice bed to share as well. I grew big and strong.

When I was two, a new creature moved in. He was very small to start with and woke up at inconvenient hours of the night. I mostly ignored him until he got big enough to grab bits of me - then I stayed clear of him until he was old enough to treat me with respect.

A couple of weeks after the new creature moved in, another kitten came to live with us. She was only about six weeks old and she was found in a rubbish tin. They called her Skillsaw but shortened it to Skilly and she was a pest! She still is. We always seem to battle and playfight over everything.

When Skilly was two and I was four another new creature moved in. We both avoided these two creatures for some time but the second one was much kinder than the first one and we liked him quite a bit.

Soon after this we left our house and stream and moved into the city to near where we had come from. There was a stream but it was three houses down from us. Never-the-less all four of us went there to play but only when a grown up came too. We lived happily in the new house for five years and then, once again, we moved. This time we only went across the valley and I had to be picked up from the old house five times before I decided that perhaps the new house was an alright place too.

Skilly got lost. She went hunting for rats (her favourite occupation) and didn't come home. Our owners went all over calling her but she didn't come. I thought I was lucky because she really was a pest.

For three months she was missing and then, just as we thought she was gone for good, she came home. She was very skinny but in good health otherwise. She didn't go out of sight for a long time after that and she got rather fat too for a bit. Now she is back to normal except she doesn't hunt rats outside of the backyard.

I am getting old now and rather stiff too. I will be 14 at christmas so I am an old man. I like to lie in the sun on the bank and drowse in the heat.

That is the story of my life so far.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Plastic in my kitchen

I read the post by Beth on Fake Plastic Fish and decided to clear out the kitchen. I took special note of the plastic out there which turned out to be somewhat more than I'd like. First there was an old bread bag. I mostly make my own but when I buy it there is always a plastic bag.

Then there were a couple of tie tags from something - I think one of them might have been off an apple bag. The other was most likely the bread bag. The apple bag was next to be disposed of along with three other fruit bags. I do try not to collect plastic but sometimes the bargains are too good for a cash strapped family with two locusts pretending to be children :)

After that there was the bag the meat came in. A small bag maybe but still plastic. I thought I might have everything at this point but I reckoned without the cat food bag and the lining from the tin of tomatoes I used in the hot pot.

Rather a lot of plastic all round especially as I am trying not to end up with a rubbish bag full. I have cut my usage from one rubbish bag a week to one every three to four weeks but I can't afford to be smug just yet.

I'm just waiting for the next horrible installment of plastic to turn up. It must be nice to live in an area where bulk buying can negate a lot of the plastic I end up with.

viv in nz

Sunday, October 12, 2008

cushion man

Photo of William and his cushion. (See last post).

viv in nz

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Green bunny/dog cushion

Youngest got all inspired by a book he borrowed from the library at the last quilt meeting and also by the dog cushion I made out of it for my sister whose birthday is on Sunday.

He sorted through a stack of material until he found a piece he liked and that I would let him use (appropriate weight, size and ease of use). Colour I left up to him. Why he picked a darkish green I'll never know but that is what he wanted. He then picked a flowery lime green for ears and a christmas print for the inner ground. I gave him the sizes and left him to it.

He wobbled a bit when he came to do the chin so I gave him a bit more info (but didn't physically help) and then told him to draw the ears as he thought they ought to be. Which he did. I did help him cut the curve across the top as he is left handed and my scissors aren't as sharp or tight as they might be.

He got them sewed up fine on the machine, curve and all although he did have to redo one a bit. I showed him how to turn them inside out and he picked a fancy gold thread for the detail edging. I threaded the machine for him ( and showed him how for next time) and he ironed and sewed those ears with only one slight oops.

I cut the outer strip for him and pinned it to avoid accidents to those ears and he sewed that and all the following strips into place log cabin wise. I had a stack of pre-cut pieces made into a continuous length and I let him use that. Rather a lot of it was pink, flowery or both but he didn't mind a bit.

I did sew the finished front onto the back for him. Then we disembowelled an old cushion for its stuffing and he stuffed it.

The result was a real credit to him but it looks more like a rabbit in some ways. The ladies at the club thought it was great.

He took it to bed with him.

Love at first make :)

viv in nz

ps. We won the block of the month draw so we got his first block back along with 10 other blocks so I will now have to make them into a special quilt.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

pie in the sky

Its a funny sort of day today. One minute its bright hot sunshine, the next its coming down cats and dogs. I did get my washing dry but only because the storm that came through was mostly hail and vanished relatively quickly.

The boys have been on computer far too long but it is school holidays I suppose. Youngest son and me made quilt blocks for the club meeting tomorrow. He wants to be a full member and I said he could but would have to miss the odd meeting if it ran too late (he's only 10 and normally in bed by 8.30). He's starting to master the sewing machine quite well.

Eldest thinks it isn't worth his while because it doesn't include computers or sweets, but he will quite happily help with bread or puddings. He still refuses to have anything to do with greens unless buried in sauce of some sort. He's a bit unlucky with puddings too because we don't have them on a regular basis.

I keep reading doom and gloom in the various economic and financial sites but then look out the window and see lots of green and houses where I know all the people and like most of them too and think that our family really is lucky even if we never have had regular income. I don't think we'll starve just yet. I just wish they would get it over with and let us all start rebuilding properly for a good future - now that probably is pie in the sky but whatever. Dreams are free.

Another little storm coming up - better go collect the rest of my washing,

viv in nz

Thursday, October 2, 2008

a little bit of fun

Just a funny little post today. I have two young boys who are both dyslexic. They have a friend living up the road who is also dyslexic. The other day the younger one and his friend found my scrabble game and decided to play it. I suggested that they take it into the sunshine on the front doorstep and asked if they knew how to play and did they need a dictionary. Oh no, they said, we know how to play so I left them to it.

When I checked on them about 20 minutes later, they were going well but the board was incomprehensible. Some words were forwards, some were backwards, upside down didn't seem to phase them either. There were words going in all directions and overlapping at will. Spelling was creative but they knew what they meant.

Funniest thing I've ever seen on a board game.

I did suggest that perhaps the words ought to go in only one direction but I don't think they quite got why.

viv in nz

Monday, September 29, 2008


Blossom all over the place and new leaves and baby animals and sometimes its worth ignoring all the crap in the world and just sitting down amongst the flowers.

The boys made fresh bread for the first time with a little help and it came out lovely. We ate it for lunch. Methinks there will be none left for later :)

Eldest boy is 12 tomorrow and starting to look a little grown up. I won't be able to look down on him for much longer. We have to find a new way to school him next year as he's outgrown the one he presently inflicts with his presence. More homeschooling possibly. I'm hoping for a tutor somewhere as I really don't want to go back to mainstream. He does really badly in that sort of system - he's too much of an independent thinker to cope with straight jacket thinking and hasn't the ability to cope yet.

Mind you, filling up minds with useless information in order to pass useless tests does seem a bit silly really and disciplining someone for being different is just wrong. I much prefer that they be guided into thinking and doing than crammed with junk. The junk you collect should really be up to you. If you have a desire to learn a stack of dates in history or the cultivation systems in outer Mongolia that's fine, but should be relevant to teaching only if it is used as an illustration to some wider set of thinking. ( eg. scientific method.) The actual thinking is what needs testing.

I remember the dumbest person in our group getting a high mark just because she could remember what a list of critics said and a couple of quotes. She never actually read the text in question at all, even the quotes came from some other critique. And she was proud of that too! She only made one mistake there and that was simply that she denied herself the pleasure of discovering a great mind for herself.

So, go smell the roses for yourself. Then you will have some idea what they are about.

viv in nz

Monday, September 22, 2008

gifts etc.

There are two types of gift in the world.

One sort consists of something bought because the recipient needed to be bought something. This is generally done in a hurry and at the last moment possible. It also means a quick trip to some well advertised shop to get an equally well advertised object which is this year's must have item. Only money changes hands here. The love and caring has been replaced by obligation and keeping up with appearances at any cost.

The other sort is made by thought, time, effort and only occasionally money. These are the gifts we give of ourselves and they do not exist in a world of consumerism.

I look at christmas now and I see only an endless sea of advertising. Buy, buy, buy scream the banners and millions of us obey blindly in a sort of orgy of credit cards, all to the tune of carols telling of a boy born in a barn. Looking in as an outsider, I would assume that this festival is in honour of a self made millionaire who valued wealthy gifts above all else.

I am assured that this is not the case. So why do we do it? It seems that "all we like sheep have gone astray" to the tune of Mammon, not Handel.

Isn't it time we took back our festivals and celebrated them with honour and the spiritual integrity they deserve. And not only the festivals to which we belong, but to other people's festivals too.

Why not do what the festivals were originally set up to achieve. Give appropriately and with love or the meaning will vanish in a glut of plastic angels and fake Santas. Let the little ones enjoy but also let them understand that a gift is just that. It is not up to you to pick your gifts - that must come from the giver along with their love. You must receive gratefully what you are given, even if it isn't the latest action hero or barbie doll, because it was given with love.

Teach your children that they are not the center of the universe. Ditch the "me, me, me" thing and maybe the rampant consumerism will start dying.

Why not begin today. Renounce your consumerism and humbly take your place in your community and.........


viv in nz

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Life is full of noise at present. Birds singing, hens clucking, cello practicing, french horns practicing, car idiots racing up and down (we do live on the worlds steepest street). Then there are computer game noises, a couple of stereo systems and student parties over the road and behind as well. And then we go out and play more music at rehearsals and lessons. All in all life is full of noise.

Some of this is because last year I decided to take eldest to french horn lessons. He wasn't doing anything much else at the time so we both joined Saturday morning classes. He had already shown an inclination to play hose pipes and curtain rails so this seemed like a natural progression. (The curtain rail was quite good). So this year, we were considered just good enough for the Junior symphonic band and that meant we would play in the big concert with everyone else.

This year is a special year because it is now 40 years since this music school began. As a consequence they have adapted an organ thing by Saint Saens. It sounds like nothing on earth (us, not the original) but is fun to try. The national anthem is almost listenable to (except the fanfare at the beginning) and our individual groups stuff is almost good. Our age range is 5 to something over 70 and I think the concert will be a hoot! The audience will either die laughing or reach for their ear plugs.

The school itself is a great institution round here. It is subsidised for any child at primary school and no one is barred. Entry is just a small fee and the rental on whatever instrument you decide to try. Even the full adult fee isn't large. Hence it is a great starting point for any would be musician. So every Saturday morning we all head out to the largest of the local primary schools and make horrible noises in preparation for the better noises to come (hopefully).

Our big concert for the year is in two weeks. We HOPE to be ready by then :)

viv in nz

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


There's blossom on the trees and birds showing off new plumage. The hens have started laying again and the weather has suddenly got warm, and I do mean warm - about 18 centigrade middle of summer warm :)

Ummm.... suppose I'll have to weed the garden then? Always something to take the gilt off the gingerbread.

On the good side, I did finish that piece of patchwork for the end of year competition. In fact I finished two and am now working on a couple of birthday pressies..... shhh don't tell yet! I think I might even try for one of the bigger national competitions over christmas. The must use fabric is rather nice so perhaps I can come up with something. Anything to get me out of gardening which I don't like much.

We will get a glasshouse this year I hope, so will have to make use of it for tomatoes etc. That I can live with as you can't beat home grown tomatoes. I'd like to spend a bit of time in Central Otago this year for the holidays along with preserving equipment and a dehydrator and a lot of local fruit - mostly apricots and peaches and nectarines etc.

I cleared the old parsley two days back so will replant that and add some hen manure from last year. We love parsley round here! Spring bulbs are growing madly including a sad hyacinth from a pot last year which I thought was a gonner. I seem to have acquired a few daffys and other things which I forgot even planting :)


Have a good autumn

viv in nz

Monday, August 25, 2008

What goes around comes around etc.

What goes around comes around. You help me, I help you and the next person does the same. Community is so important and I'm glad to see that I did make a few of you think along a slightly different road. I do have an advantage here...I very rarely see anyone I can't get on with. This doesn't mean love for all... it just means I try to find the common ground and talk to that ground. The rest doesn't concern me except where it harms others and there I do have issues.

I went to a lecture by David Stallman the other night and I must say I was very impressed. I'd also hate to be a dissenting voice in his presence. He's really good at annihilating the opposition. His form of freedom has constraints, just as mine has, and has to be worked at. His aim is the betterment of the many instead of the few and the free transmission of information to anyone who needs it. (At least that's how I see it.) It was fantastic to see someone like that who won't compromise his standards for anything short of better standards and is prepared not to make money, for example, into some sort of god to be idolised above all else.

As my brother says, it isn't all the fake money floating round out there that is the problem. It is all the fake money which is being used to buy real things that hurts because that lowers the value of real products. Maybe there should be a law which says that money should be tied to something real that does exist and can be quantified.

Any thoughts?

viv in nz

ps. They're promising yet more of the wet stuff....aaaaaaaaargh!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I shouldn't be watching so late but I do like seeing all the sports that aren't rugby (national obsession round here!). I've always been a bit divided about sustainability when it comes to sport or entertainment. I mean are we to go boringly into the future with nothing but sustainability on our minds. Even ants do that. Maybe we should look a little at what it is that makes us human rather than what bare survival is.

We compete for little gold medallions. Yes we do, and I, for one, would rather have this than competing for anything else with guns and armies. I think perhaps we should encourage it even more if it will take out that element of humanity a bit more. Its also entertaining as we vicariously live our dreams through the efforts of others. It may not add anything to sustainability but it is definitely cheaper and less harmful than other pursuits.

There is also one other factor which covers not only sport but all the other extraneous things we do as well - it employs us when we have become surplus to the so called 'real world'. This also is to be encouraged so that fewer of us become locked into factory farm life. Let's face it; if we used all surplus funds to employ scientists, artists, athletes etc. the world would be a very different place. I keep thinking of all the untapped talent out there, some of it starving, that could advance our humanity in so many ways. Surely this must be better than the present system which appears to value only those who successfully move money around for their own benefit whilst ripping everyone else off.

Freedom to me means no one goes hungry or lacks opportunity to advance in whatever they happen to be good at. (Olympic jam makers anyone?) Anything less cannot be called free especially if the bias is due to things beyond your control such as gender, race, religion, background (I always feel sorry for children of murderers.) etc.

Whatever... individuals will find their level if given a chance and some will be brilliant whilst others will be pedestrian but all should be by their own choice not out of necessity.

viv in nz

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Terms of imprisonment

I thought I might give you a little taste of something I wrote to exorcise the odd demon.. :)


Ten years plus. That's what you get for killing someone.

I'm innocent of that. Couldn't even kill myself. I tried to step off that cliff but there were too many loving faces holding me back. I suppose that means I'm worth something even to me.

Purgatory I am still here. What is on the menu today? A nice set of bruises carefully placed not to show? Perhaps just a light sprinkle of pinches and scratches. Well destroyed school work a la consomme of creek soup - a tasty treat in or out of class, or maybe just the usual dose of sneering contempt with a dash of humiliation.

Icing on the cake? Self blame. What did I do wrong? I must have done something....but what?

An invisibility cloak would be useful about now but all I seem to have is a large red beacon on my head saying, "Victim, victim, victim come and get me now."

There's always the library of course but you have to get there first. Past the 'carwash' and the toilets. I'd like to be made of solid steel. Then the carwash crowd would break their knuckles as I slowly walk by. I would be upright and dignified instead of being pushed, punched and kicked from side to side. I would be the boss then. They would have to be my gang. No. I don't want that. I don't want control through fear. Not even for revenge, which, if you ask me, is never that sweet. I'd much rather just be valued for being me. A human being, not a punching bag.

Repeat to yourself, "I will not hate." Say it several times and run for it. After all, you might get lucky. There may be a teacher around. That usually stops the physical stuff. Not the other though. That goes on regardless. In class, out of class, even at home (those dreadful phonecalls).

Isn't my ten year sentence up yet?

How much more do I have to take?

How much more can I take?

I don't know....

Hide girl, hide....

Today's installment (Part One) has come.

Cry inside
Don't let it show,

Just cry and hurt and run
where no one can find you.

viv in nz

As you can see, my school years were painful but going to University made up for that lots. Of course I had to relearn how to be social and a lot of other stuff too. (I'm not quite sure I got that right but at least I tried). I think the worst was dealing with shyness but I did think up a few strategies for that which seemed to work ok. I've always been very grateful to two of my Great Aunts who allowed me to visit from the boarding house every weekend and to the matron who allowed me the freedom to do so. Without them I think I might have gone completely over the edge. I certainly came close.

I think perhaps I should try for a happier subject next.....ummmm.....peak oil anyone? :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

winter daze

Things have got away from me this week and I haven't caught up on this blog as a result. I'm still hard at it with that piece of patchwork and it is starting to look like it may come to something.

Apart from that I've been trying to figure out how to lower my mileage somewhat without it costing a fortune in bus fares (which are very expensive comparatively). I think I can pick up a couple of secondhand bikes cheaper than a weeks bus fare x3 but will have to be on the look out until suitable ones turn up. Then there will only be one set of bus cards to get instead of two. I think it is still a bit far to ask my 10 year old to cycle 8 kilometers with very steep hills at each end. (one hill is Baldwin st aka world's steepest and the other is Jesse street which is in the world's top 10 steepest!) When they want to do the whole thing, they can. Its all bike path now too which doesn't go near the very unsafe highway down to the port. Even an expert would hesitate to use that road - its full of logging trucks and container trucks etc.

The garden is too frosty to dig yet but it shouldn't be long before its time to plant now. There are already a few blossom trees out and a few spring flowers as well. We hope to put in a glasshouse this year for tomatoes and cucumbers and possibly a bell pepper or two. We also need to put the berry fruit under netting - the birds got nearly all my red currants last year and I was miffed. I had been looking forward to those as they would have been the first real crop off the bushes (admittedly only about a bowl full but still...). I'm also hoping to get some fruit trees for the area along the fenceline. We are lucky enough to border a paper (unformed) road so there are no neighbours near for a few meters. And even then our nearest neighbour is my mother! (We didn't plan that, it just happened and it helps with the shop as she makes a lot of our stuff).

Well washing calls - it needs to be hung out.

viv in nz

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My fingers hurt tonight. I've been hand patching all day. It will be fun to see what I've created this time. I never quite know until it really is finished and this is an actual competition piece. It has a set size and one piece of set (horrible) fabric which I have stared at for several months - I pinned it to the wall. It reminded me of lollipops, those dreadful huge swirly ones in bright orange and red. Well that idea was never going to fly - I just imagine a room full of the same idea and think I should be able to come up with something better and I hope I have. I'll post a photo when its finished.

I know we are supposed to be sustainable in all ways but how sad if we never see anything made just for fun or art or love. I think life would turn into a very bland thing. I make lots of useful quilts with real scraps which I prefer anyhow because you have to be careful and come up with interesting patterns. I normally allow myself one bought piece per quilt and that will often add scraps to my collection as well.

I've got one pinned to the curtain in the living room/bedroom/workshop which needs a back and some quilting but I'm not convinced I'm finished with it yet. I do have to finish the other one in progress because its for eldest's 12th birthday and that is in September. However that is relatively straightforward (with lots of small turtles :).

My fabric collection now spans 4 generations which makes planning fun. As long as its sewable I'll use it eventually. I think perhaps I do handwork the way other people cook or garden. Well I suppose someone will have to make clothes etc when the factories don't.

viv in nz

Friday, August 1, 2008


What does sustainability mean to me.....that my kids will have a good place to inherit and pass on to future generations (even if they don't turn out to be mine.)

That I only use my own share of the things available and that those things be as near as possible to impact free (sometimes I'm not as good at this as I think I should be ;).

That I take the skills I have been taught and teach them in turn to others who will use them too. I do believe in pay it forward and also in good karma.

Balance is also important. If you give, you must be prepared to receive. People get resentful if they receive and cannot get the pleasure of giving in return. It makes them feel inferior and may also make you feel smugly superior. This applies not only to people but also to groups and political bodies.

Good ethical standards are what I try to aim for. (not morals - these are cultural or religious in basis and while I do respect what others believe as their own choice, I do not give them leave to run roughshod over mine.)

That's about it really. I could go on for pages but that would get tedious so feel free to comment about what I've left out.

viv in nz

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I tried to buy local today. I wanted a tin of apricots. Not a big deal I thought as we live near an apricot area. The first tin said 'made in China', the second tin said 'product of Australia. The third tin which I thought was a local brand said ' product of South Africa.' I began to lose the plot about here! Two tins left....

One said product of Malaysia - didn't even know they grew the things AAAAAARGH

And the last tin said........ wait for it.........'Product of Chile'.

I gave it up and went apricotless to the checkout.

I think the shelves are telling me to go bottle my own!

Next year I think we'll be making a short trip to the orchard zone - about an hour away at most.

viv in nz

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

wet, wet, wet

It's been raining for a week and when it didn't rain it sleeted or snowed. I'm so behind with the laundry that I did it anyhow and hung it out regardless. There was a small patch of sun round midday, between showers, that almost dried some of it so now it's hanging all over the living room on coat hangers.

The cats keep getting wet and then drying their paws on our laps (jolly cold paws too!). I think they do it on purpose sometimes. I forgive Skilly (short for skillsaw and she deserves the name - she's a great ratter) though...she caught a mouse in the back of the kitchen. One down and we still need a few more mouse traps.

Hubby helped out my mum getting some flowers from the garden and came back with two beautiful camelias - first out this year. I know flowers aren't 'practical' but they do lift your spirits.

Youngest is now 10. Doesn't seem that long since he was a baby. He was adorable then but I don't think I'd better say that now (though I still think so).

I've nearly done for my fingers doing patchwork this week but the result looks quite good so I might get on and finish it for the local competition. I'm going to try for the odd photo in here so you can see what I'm talking about. It really depends on hubby though as I'm rather illiterate on computers.

viv in nz

Monday, July 28, 2008

Seems to be a long weekend here. Spent far too much of it being cold and damp and then had a birthday party on top. I sent them off to the movies to see Prince Caspian. That seems to have been a hit. Then bacon and eggs for lunch (birthday boy's request) followed by a mildly decorated cake. I'll have to rethink it next year candle wise. 10 seems about the limit on that cake size!

After that they played games and then went home happy. Was really simple. No party games, no party baggies, no lollies or icecream or chippies. One creamed sponge and a plate of fruit with lots of grapes (favourite food) and that was it. I hope the next birthday is that simple!

Total cost.... one small bottle of cream, one sponge cake (locally made with jam and fresh cream centre), one bag of grapes (largish) and tickets for four with one large pot of popcorn plus 4 eggs and 5 rashers of bacon and some spinach leaves for under the egg on the toast and they'd have got that for lunch anyhow.

Lets hear it for great cheap birthday bashes :)

viv in nz

Thursday, July 24, 2008

green by design or accident.

I've always been green to a large extent but I don't think I can take much credit for that really. In my generation there was still the after effects of the various wars and the great depression which my parents lived with. They learned the hard way to look after their things because it might be a very long time before they got another. Food was never to be wasted - it was expensive. It was always home grown where possible and always prepared from scratch. Take aways were what you had when you went on holiday and even then you only got them once. They were really special!

My mother still remembers rationing. There was an allowance of butter (for example) every week per person. My grandmother would take a large share for cooking and baking and the rest would be divided into small glass jars (one each) and the amount in the jar had to last you a week for your toast or bread or potatoes. Mum says it was about 2 inches square! She never could abide waste and taught us the same. She also taught us about moderation - never eat too much of any one thing but do eat a moderate amount of everything.

A normal day would begin with a plate of porridge and milk and a glass of fresh orange juice which we kids took turns to juice. There would be a small package of dried fruit or a raw carrot or a small apple for morning break and we would go home for dinner midday (only the bus kids stayed at school for lunch and this was home made too) where we would be fed three veg and a small helping of meat - no pudding in our house with dinner. There would be a home made cordial drink after school with a 'piece'. This was a cake or biscuit normally and mostly made by my grandmother after she came to live next door. She loved to bake but was an indifferent cook. My mother was a good cook but didn't really like baking.... it was a good arrangement especially after Mum took a part time job to cover our higher education.

Apart from this there were always apples, pears or whatever else was in season and then for tea we would get scrambled eggs or perhaps a pudding with toast to follow and that was it. If it was on your plate it had to be eaten and woe betide if you asked for seconds and couldn't finish might have to eat them cold for breakfast! (this applied to firsts too especially veges!)

We were very healthy. We walked the mile to school from the age of 5 escorted by an older child to make sure we didn't dawdle and then home and back after dinner and home again after school. Dad would drop us off some mornings on his way to work which was great. At nine we were considered old enough for bikes and the freedom of a bike was heaven after walking - we were always running late when walking - there was always a distraction somewhere - puddles to jump in, streams to investigate etc. Bikes meant you got just a little more time for whatever was going and still make the school gate as the second bell went. (there was a five minute warning bell that could be heard from the creek except in high winds)

I have tried to do this with my kids too although the distances have meant using buses more. That freedom to explore just can't be beat. I hate the idea of too much structure and restriction during free time. Teach the basics of safety and good behaviour, then let them go do stuff.

I think I got a little off topic here :) but it's all part of life. How can you be green if you've never been allowed to develop a relationship with the world around you ( or independent thought or imagination or wonder, or testing your limits - I got stuck up a tree for half an hour once before I got up enough courage to get down. The euphoria I felt once I did make it down was worth every minute.........).

Apart from that we lived in secondhand clothes (quite a lot were cut down from adult clothes and made almost as new by my mother) and preserving etc was just a part of life. I learned this stuff almost by osmosis.

Mums final efforts were to make us (me and my brother on alternate days) cook Sunday dinners and teas for almost a year just so she could trust us to look after ourselves when we went flatting for University and the last year of high school. Our parents put up with some rather odd dinners at times but we did learn! You don't waste food when you have to prepare and cook it yourself.

Then she let us go.

I think that will be the hardest thing I'll have to do as well and when I say let go I don't mean abandon but just to retreat into the background unless you are asked for help and try not to interfere too much.

The mother is also my friend.
And I've continued to go green......probably about lettuce green. Not at broccoli green yet but still improving :)

viv in nz

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Well. its been a busy day. I seem to have spent most of it with needle and thread as planned but there was the odd interruption. Hubby's cold has kept him home again ( cough cough cough from through there!) and it rained all day (it just knew I needed a load of washing done - oh well maybe tomorrow) and the kids missed the bus from school. Had to go pick them up or leave them to soak for an hour! Figured one bad cold was quite enough for the present so went to get them and found they'd taken refuge with a neighbour near the school. They were only mildly wet :)

Anyhow I did get most of my piecing done and I might be able to think better tomorrow (although there's still some coughing in the background).

The other news is that I'm now using Linux almost exclusively and tis great! With a better video card I could finally dump windows for good but I have to do some saving for that. It might take me somewhat longer to crash this system and it is so easy to use once its set up - it is a big asset to have a hubby in IT as well as a brother doing a masters degree in some sort of computerish engineering. (Perhaps a little more useful than a doctorate in asparagas which my brother in law got).

They are telling us to expect snow tomorrow so that will be interesting. Probably won't come to much though. It tends to melt a bit fast round here so about 2 hours is the normal limit before slush sets in and then just water.

See you later, its bedtime here :)

viv in nz

I read too much!

I've been reading lots of doom and gloom on some of the more technical sites and it is rather depressing. I am beginning to think that perhaps they are a bit too doom and gloom and should get outside into the fresh air a bit more or something. Or at least talk to someone positive for a bit. Life is worth living still especially at a local level.

It's a bit late to write much tonight but will get back here shortly


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pocket calculators came in around late high school and they were mega expensive. I could live for half the year on the price of something that would now be considered a really crap give away. I didn't get one until I'd almost finished University. I still have it and it still works too.

Then there were computers. My younger brother did computers when it was all punch cards. There was always confetti round our flat and on one notable occasion he tripped on the hall rug and spewed hundreds of cards all over......BEFORE he'd numbered them! I don't suppose many younger people would even know about those cards. They were used to program computers before floppy discs came in. And floppy discs really were floppy to start with but compared to cards they were wonderful. I might add that I wouldn't have dared to even go near a computer - they were for specialists, and that probably accounts for the phobic feeling I get every time I try something new on this machine. I still remember the absolute awe we felt when a friend bought an apple 2 while on a trip. It even played chess!

I went to art school about this time and became a potter for many years but I did take a course in business computers eventually. Our screens were a beautiful :) shade of green. After a day of using them every white surface looked pink. Amber screens came next and they were better and finally the sort of screen I use now in full, glorious colour.

I was 35 when I first got my own computer but it was such fun even without the internet. My husband ran a bulletin board for several years and that was lots of fun. That died when the internet arrived properly. I don't regret that too much because the internet is so much better!

I'm now wondering what will come next. I hope it will be green and sustainable whatever it is.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

technology then

There was an interesting post from Chile about how people use the blogs and I thought about just how technology has affected the way I view things.

I am old enough to remember a time when there was no TV to say nothing about computers and the like. We listened to the radio in the early evening for a childrens programme and that was about it. My mother, being a very musical person, had a stereo system and a heap of classical music. She also got us a variety of stories on record. These were mostly fairy tales and Winnie the Pooh with the occasional cartoon recording. We wore those records out repeating them on
Saturday mornings. (My dad's favourite trick was to wake us up by playing a brass band record very loudly on Saturday morning.)

Then when I was about 5 one of the neighbours got a black and white TV. It was very fuzzy because we were so far from the translator but it was fascinating. We thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I can still remember the programme. It was an early Gerry Anderson called Supercar.

It was about a year after that and I was 6 when we got our own TV. Now I knew what our recorded cartoons looked like. That was wierd to start with. My imagination was forced to change to fit in with what was on the screen. I never really liked those cartoons that we already had in recorded form. They just didn't fit. I've had an aversion to filmed versions of favourite books and recordings ever since.

However, the rest was magical and it was perhaps lucky that there were only a few programs per day and that we were sent to bed early or we wouldn't have done anything else. (transmission time was 4.30 in the afternoon until about 11 at night and only one channel)

I was nine when I first remember seeing a film. I believe I had seen one as an infant but these are the first I really recall. One was The Sound of Music which was one of the highlights of that holiday and the other was The Incredible Journey which scared me witless and gave me nightmares for a week much to the consternation of my Grandmother. I have never forgotten the wonder of the first film, but by the same token, I am unable to forget the second. It is too easy to forget just what an impact a film can have on an inexperienced child. (My sister had this problem too. She was 4 when she saw her first movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and she screamed so loud Dad had to take her out. He did manage to get her back for the end of it.)

The next thing was getting a day off school to watch the first landing on the moon. My grandfather made a recording of that on his tape machine. He also made a heap of family recordings some of which are now on cd and are hilarious. (especially the one where he taped my aunt and my mother doing a run through of a piano duet when he wasn't supposed to be taping yet!)

Colour TV didn't happen until I was beginning my teens. Now we take it for granted but it was really something at the time. That almost brings me up to the first pocket calculators but I'll save that for part two.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Shop

We shut the shop a few weeks back so that we could do some renovations. (we means me and my mother mostly). I think we can remain open at least some of the time during the off season because I am mostly home anyhow. So we got into the shelving and built two big shelves on which we have made papier mache models of the local landscape. They haven't dried yet though so we have covered them in fabric for the jaffa race which comes off on monday next.

Last year there were around 8000 people on the street so hopefully we can sell a few knitted items to them. I rather like living on the worlds steepest street. You get to meet so many interesting people and sometimes sell them things (I'm not a pushy salesperson :). We only make things from the local environment and a few christmas items etc and I refuse to sell anything made outside our city. I'd like to have that include all our materials too but this isn't possible at present although quite a lot is made completely locally (I have a friend with sheep who produces her own spun wool). I think the display is definitely an improvement and maybe this year I'll be able to install a second double glazed window and some more insulation. Owning an almost 100 year old house has its down sides but by the time we've finished it should be draught proof at least.

go the jaffas

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's snowing and raining here today. Very cold and wet...just the day for a funeral. Uncle Roddy's funeral to be exact. I liked Uncle Roddy but I can't really be sorry because he was so ill for so long that it doesn't really seem fair to hope he would stay.

last night we had the lantern walk with the kids. They gave us a concert first which was really fun and then we tried to light the lanterns. That was ok and the kids had made some real beauties for the walk in the midwinter dark. Only problem was the wind. It blew them all out so we did a quick walk, mostly in the dark, and then lit them all and sang the lantern songs inside. After that there was a shared tea with home grown sausages and fresh bread and home made sauces. Then the men tried out the bonfire but that too was affected by the wind...sparks it was put out and we all went back inside for dessert.

One of the parents had made the most amazing chocolate cakes with beetroot in them. They were divine!!! He had also made a number of pies and flans with apple and coconut and caramel which were also absolutely wonderful.

By the time we left it was late and we were warm on the inside even if it was still frozen on the outside. We brought an extra child home for an overnight and went to bed earlyish for us (but late for the boys). It is now school holidays for a couple of weeks. The boys are going out to grandma's farm for 3 days so I will have a nice quiet time to try to get the diorama finished in the shop in time for the jaffa race :)

Monday, June 30, 2008

green potato mountains with bacon

favourite dinner on a cold winter night.

potatoes for the number being fed, peeled and boiled until just cooked.

Bake two rashers of bacon per person in a roasting dish. Set the bacon aside to keep warm.
Do the rest while the bacon is cooking.

1 grated onion (more if numbers to be fed are large)
grated cheese (tasty) about half to one handful for each person
pinch cayenne
salt to taste
a large bunch of finely chopped parsley (I munch it in a herb mouli)

Mash all the above together. (hint; add cheese slowly as the mixture should be firmish not sloppy) Make into mountains dipped in breadcrumbs.
Place into baking tray with bacon fat and put a dob of butter on top then grill until golden.
Serve with the bacon.

I usually end up with about two per person. You can leave out the bacon if you want and replace with a little oil to stop sticking.

Enjoy :)

I never even got to make the mtns tonight....the boys just grabbed large spoonfuls straight from the pot. They said they were hungry!

Friday, June 27, 2008

greenish stuff

I read several serious blogs today and it's depressing how much mess can be created with one system of capitalism. I've said for years that we undervalue community and overvalue individuality without the least notion of what responsibility really means. How can you live in a community without taking care of everyone else who also happens to live in that community. By this I don't mean we need to live in their pockets but just that we should know who they are so that if they or you need help in some way (big or small) then it can be given.

A small example would be my neighbour across the street who happened to notice I'd left a car light on and told me before I got a flat battery.

It's this small stuff that will make a difference in times of recession. It will allow us to help others where we can..... I have spare linen, you need some...have this. Two doors down have too many tomatoes...would you like some. There's an apple tree here with spare some for the kids? These are the sort of values that the doom sayers don't take into account.

They are also the sort of values which will stop us from ever living in an upmarket ghetto.

A person's worth cannot be measured in money or status but only in who they are and how they act.

I think those economist types must have got to me. I've gone all preachy on it :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I hate computers. I just got to the end of a first design draw and it crashed! So much for that... an hour of work down the drain because I was so involved I forgot to save. Aaaaaaargh! And to think this was supposed to make life easier. At least graph paper stays where you put it.

Anyhow enough of that. It snowed here today, cold, cold, cold. I am so grateful we managed to get the double glazed window in this year. It gets every last bit of sunshine (between snow showers) lets in heaps of light and is draught free. My little one bar heater is now capable of heating the whole room even in these conditions. I also get great sunset views from it :)

I've got the boys catching buses from school now. It is a bit of a mission as they have to walk from one stop to the next to get the right bus. It isn't cheap either. When it gets to summer they can do half the trip by bike with my hubby as his work is en route and leave their bikes with him. At this time of the year it is too dark, wet, icy so I take them all and some of their friends as well. Pity the only suitable school is so far away.

I think I better recreate that design before I forget it........

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Sun is Shining

Sometimes winter can be wonderful. This morning it was dark as usual when the alarm went off and nobody really wanted to get up. It was very cold (we don't have central heating just insulation) and there was ice on the car cover. Hot porridge for breakfast with preserved peaches makes life worth living again and then there was the sun rise. It was beautiful because of the frost sparkling in the air and the wonderful glow off the harbour made me wish I had remembered my camera. I left the kids to walk up the hill to school because I hate driving on ice up there and then faced the most amazing golden glow all the way home.

It's at times like these that I wonder how anybody could even think about spoiling and trashing the land/air/water. No life would be worth living to my mind without the planet around us being part of our lives.

Well, I've got to hang out the the mid-winter sun!

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm sitting here wearing a daft woolly hat/scarf thingy and feeling a bit sore. The space where my tonsills were last week is still not quite healed and I still need the occasional painkiller. I do wish they had been removed when I was young but at least this year I should be free of sore throats etc which are no joke when you're asthmatic and middle aged.

I look at the pictures of some celebrities and think how can they look like that when they are my age. I suspect that some of these images are just not real but are doctored in various ways to make them look good. Fantasy land rules. The problem with this is that most of us live in the real world and have to put up with whatever we inherited. There is just no way I could ever look like Sharon Stone or Madonna even if I had unlimited access to make overs, physical trainers and surgery.

Its not that I think they should look like me. Its that I think all of us should have value whatever our appearance. One of the worst things mass media has inflicted on us is the belief that if we don't look a certain way, our value as a person is decreased. Consequently I have noticed that there is a split in our values where images are concerned. For most of us once we have accepted that we can't be perfect the world merely becomes somewhere to do your best and accept people as they are. Others unfortunately still remain in fantasy land. Wouldn't it be nice if the media stopped grovelling before the high priestess of fashion and actually reported on things for real.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Farmers Market

Yes, we have a farmers market in this neck of the woods and it is well worth the effort of getting up on Saturday mornings. It's the only reason I've managed to cut down on plastic round veges and even here I get caught sometimes... well no one's perfect!

Seriously though there has always been a tradition round here for good vege gardens and even now there are large numbers of people who grow at least a little something in their back yards. I think it stemmed originally from the sheer isolation of this place. The early settlers simply had to grow food or starve. You couldn't just go down to the corner shop so self sufficiency was a way of life. This was enhanced by the various boom and bust periods which followed. Life was lived within the local area and very little came in from outside until the advent of cheap transport.

There was also a great sense of community with family and friends supporting each other as necessary. Nobody was overly rich but nobody was allowed to starve either. My grandmother has stories about her own aunts visiting and leaving a gift of meat etc as they left. They expected no particular praise for this, it was just something to help feed the children. (There were 7 girls and a boy and my great grandfather had little work at times). Everything they had was used and reused and then passed on. Nothing was wasted.

The 2nd world war carried this vege garden tradition into the 50s and it was only in the later parts of the 60s and 70s that things began to get a little warped. I have hope for us yet as a community. It isn't that long since we were gardeners and home makers and communities. Even now we still have communities round here. Families have got too spread out and are also much smaller so they don't quite work as they did but we still know all our neighbours and we still pass things around as needed.

That's the way we need to be. "Nobody is an island......"

Friday, June 13, 2008

I can't believe I'm doing this!

As a complete technophobe this is going to be a challenge. But here goes...

I've been reading other blogs for some time now so it makes sense to try this out for myself. Unlike many of you out there I didn't grow up with computers or even TV. I can still remember the first time I saw a TV. I thought it was absolutely fascinating even in rather grainy black and white.

When we did finally get one of our own I was glued to it whenever it was on. Fortunately transmission was limited to about 6 hours a day and a lot of that was after bedtime. I now wish that it was still limited to those same hours because it seems to me that people spend far too much of their time watching it instead of doing stuff like talking or thinking or going to clubs etc. I have a suspicion that computers also take up rather too much time so I'll only be found here in the late evenings.

Everything in moderation as great-grandma used to say to grandma who said it to my mother who now says it to me so I can say it to the kids. I just hope they listen!

Anyhow , a little more about me. I am rather greenly inclined but with a techno edge here and there where I think its useful. I believe in people rather than things/business/finance. I like the ideas about local living and food and have tried some of the challenges set out by Crunchy Chicken. The first blog I read was No Impact Man and I've been trolling through the lists ever since... great fun!