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Archive for November, 2010

I managed to get a decent amount of gardening in when the weather was fine.  That’s not the case today – it’s pouring with rain.

My tortie, Jasmine, loves to be wherever we are so if I go out gardening she follows me out and hangs around, often chasing after phantom things and zooming out from under a bush.

She was particularly fascinated by the insects I unearthed in a major de-weeding of a neglected bed.

Below a few pictures of the now tidy part of the garden.

A close up of the manuka flower:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering Ziggy…

Inspired by daughter’s creativity in making something for her sister’s birthday, I considered drawing a picture of Ziggy for my older daughter as Ziggy was her kitten when we got him.  I thought of this in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep (again) and also considered doing a bookmark.

This morning, unable to do outdoor stuff because of the rain, I sketched a couple of pictures of Ziggy to put on a bookmark, one sketch each side.

I then thought of doing a larger sketch she could perhaps frame, then remembered that Hayley was going to print out a large photo of Ziggy for her sister.  Perhaps I can sketch something else.   I haven’t sketched or painted for years so the above was my first attempt in a very long time.  I might try my hand at a picture of a building – something in Europe, perhaps.  Time for a cuppa and a think.

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I’ve just finished reading a book called “Enough” by John Naish.  Finally a book which expresses most (not all) of what I’ve always felt about our consumerist society.  Rising populations, abuse of resources, new gadgets to buy every three months – none of this is sustainable.  None of it is satisfactory or satisfying.  The more you have, the more you want – it’s a sad facet of human nature.  I can’t understand people who obssess about shoes, who have to buy the most expensive appliance or a new car every year.  I abhor extravagance and the planet just can’t cope with the greed.

The author of the book did not touch on population though.  I always feel slightly sick when I read or hear about families of 4 or more children and feel it’s obscene to have 10 children.  It’s totally selfish.  There was an excuse for it in the 19th century when child deaths were common and there was no contraception, but these days?  It’s abhorrent.  I don’t accept that people who have a lot of children love children.  The more children you have, the less time you have for them and they just become slaves and parents to the other kids.  There has to be some control of the population but this is, as the author of the book says, taboo (so much so that he feared to write about it).  It’s ludicrous.

As for consumerism, I’m glad to say that, by and large, I don’t buy into it.  I hate shopping so have few shoes and clothes.  I refuse to buy new appliances unless the old one has broken beyond repair (and things don’t get repaired these days – it’s cheaper to buy a new one, sadly).  My cellphone is so old it doesn’t take photos or have fancy ringtones.  It just allows texting and phoning and that’s all I want it for.  I only replaced my even older phone because my daughter had been given a new one and passed her one to me and it’s still going.  I don’t want a fancy flatscreen TV, Sky TV or any of the other TV-related electronic gear – what on earth for?  There’s nothing worth watching!  When TV goes digital I’m seriously considering giving up the thing altogether and just use if for watching DVDs, which is basically all I do now.

The book I read before “Enough” was one called “Sew your own” by John Paul Flintoff which ran along similar lines.  Just about everything you buy is made by slave labour, not only in China and India but in places like New York city.  It doesn’t matter whether the clothes are cheapies or designer fashion – all made the same way (so someone is raking in huge disgusting profits).  The book has inspired me to replace a pair of pants with a pair I’ll make myself (and so avoid shopping for clothes).  I’m already a fairly regular visitor to Spotlight for costume materials so it wouldn’t be an effort to shop for everyday materials.

Both books have inspired me to be more creative and strangely enough, my daughter is currently inspired.  She’s just finished her course and is now busy sewing little bean bag animals out of scrap material.  She’s going to make one or two for older daughter’s birthday (older daughter loves that type of thing).  For my own birthday she created a collage of photos of my parents which was really lovely.  I wish I could think of something to make.  In the past I’ve painted birthday cards and made bookmarks as gifts but haven’t done anything like this for some time.

I’ve veered off a bit, but both books have also inspired me to be more ruthless about decluttering.  When I couldn’t sleep last night I got up and looked at my bookshelf and decided to get rid of about 10.  It’s a start.  I’ll have to take a bit longer over other books.  But then, books are easy.  It’s the other sentimental stuff that I find hard to get rid of.  The simple fact is I have to because I don’t have the room and I don’t need any of it.  The silly thing is that when I’m about to throw/give something away I think “it might be worth something in the future”.  Ridiculous.  I have this silly mindset because I always remember my mother regretting getting rid of an old item or piece of furniture which would now be worth hundreds if not thousands.

I’ve rambled, and I haven’t even touched on my latest bugbear – plastic “voucher” cards.  I recently wanted to buy some store vouchers for friends’ birthdays and was directed to a stand of plastic credit-type cards (with three different designs on them).  I asked if they had any normal vouchers.  “No just these.  You can add money to it.”  Yeah whatever.  What is the point?  Once the friends have used up the money on the card, are they likely to add more money to it?  I doubt it.  Why would you?  You’re at the counter and you have an empty ‘voucher’ card.   Are you more likely to say “please add some money to this card”, or just buy the damned thing with Eftpos or a credit card?  The latter of course.  I just don’t get it.  What a complete and utter waste of plastic.  It infuriates me.

On that note, I’d better get on with things.  It’s a bit wet outside but I have to mow the lawn in readiness for a barbecue on Friday and the possibility of daughter’s friends pitching tents in the backyard.

Yep, I’ll have to make time for creativity (instead of spending my time online)… and meditation!  My mind is full of rubbish when I’m trying to sleep – constant chatter and “earworms” (songs that get stuck in your head).  I need to exercise calming my mind….

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Finally updating about the feast which was now a week ago – how time flies.

In the morning I was busy cooking five dishes taken from a booklet of medieval recipes: a salad (not sure if this was authentic but it heaps of dried fruit in it); a yoghurt-based dip (again I doubt the authenticity but it does taste wonderful!); a rice dish with lemon, almonds and peas in it (most unusual); an oaty dessert called Cranachan (and this was authentic) which contained a lot of cream and brandy in it; and finally a Plum Cream to go with the Cranachan which was basically plums and red wine – smelled glorious when I heated it up with cloves.

I rang up one of H’s friends, E, about picking up a couple of extra trestle tables as apparently there were only 5 there, supposed to seat 40 (I think the woman counted the ends of the tables, which wouldn’t have counted if tables are put together).  I had approximately 50 due to come to the feast.

I set  off with older daughter up from Wellington, and her boyfriend to meet E who had a trailer (and more importantly a towbar).  Got to the hire place and discovered it had closed an hour beforehand.  Mild panic set in when I remembered that The Warehouse sold trestle tables.  E had tried ringing other hire places but all closed (early on a Saturday afternoon – how stupid is that?).  Went to The Warehouse and bought 2 fold-up tables which didn’t need a trailer after all – they could fit in the back of a car or in the boot.  Headed to the hall and started setting up and discovered, lo-and-behold, the hall had 10 trestle tables!  Set these up and didn’t use the new ones at all.  Figured I could take them back as they were still in the box unpacked.

After setting up the basics – tables and table cloths, headed home to get the rest and get changed, etc.  Time was marching on.  Got home to discover brother and wife had been and were out walking their dogs.  They returned and much discussion about who was going in which car and me expressing the urgent need to get there and finish setting up and deciding to get changed there.  As usual, younger daughter was holding me up.  It was now 5.30 and the feast was due to start at 6pm.  H, whose sense of time is always a bit out of whack told me to stop panicking.

Finally got to the hall and finished setting up decorations – flags, candles, goblets, lavender.  I was out at the doorway just tying on a couple of flags to the columns outside the hall when the first guests arrived (H’s friends) and I wasn’t even changed!  Got sundry boxes put away and headed into a ladies toilet to put the costume on and needed daughter’s help to get into the thing with the ties at the back.  It would definitely be a lady’s dress as you’d need servants to help you get in and out.  Frantically looked for my jewellery as more guests were turning up.  I hate not being on time, ready and waiting.

A pause here to show the dress in question:

A detail of the pesky sleeves…

The back of the dress:

Finally, I was dressed and ready to meet and greet and grab a goblet of much-needed wine.

Some people turned up that I had not expected to turn up and there were three that I had expected to come but did not turn up.  Two others I’d invited had not responded (and didn’t turn up), but overall it was a good turnout.  We had just about enough tables as latecomers were able to sit down when others had finished eating.  I barely ate anything – a bit of salad and chicken and a spoonful of crannachan.

Most of the time I was up dancing.  Some fellow medieval dancers and I got people up to do some simple circle dances.  As others saw how much fun they were having they got up too.  I think only one or two people didn’t get up and dance – it was great.  Much bumping into each other and laughter.  Likewise there were only a couple of people who weren’t in costume.  I was very pleased.  Some pics (difficult to take as everyone was moving so quickly) …

Great fun had by all.  As for the belly dancing…

Three of my troupe did their dance and then two more of us got in behind to do another dance.  It was lucky that by now I’d had a few public performances under my belt as I just treated this as another public performance, forgetting that there were people out there who’d never seen me dance (including brother and older daughter) or who weren’t even aware that I did belly dancing.  After the improvised dance (which I didn’t think I did well at at all – thankfully it was brief), we did our drum dance and then a cane dance.  Our teacher had turned up by this time and she did a couple of solos while I got changed back into an older medieval dress (one which was easier to get into).  One of my belly dance troupe wanted to get people up to boogy to belly dance music but I wanted more medieval dancing and had to be quite firm. (She had decided which dances to do ignoring my request to do Habibi instead of the drum dance, but in the mad dash to get up and dance I let it go – she had the relevant music on her CD.)

The feedback about the belly dancing was good.  Firstly people admired my costume, which was simply a black skirt with black and gold top and black and gold hip scarf.  They also said they were impressed with my dancing, particularly my brother.  He said he’d just seen a side of me which he never knew existed.  I told him it was part of our play-acting heritage.  While he and our parents (and younger daughter) had got into plays, I “acted” when I danced.  Apparently there were other comments about me being a “dark horse”, etc, which is natural since I never generally talk about my private life.   Old friends also said they were impressed, which was a great relief.  I only made one tiny mistake in one of the dances which most probably wouldn’t pick up.

People started leaving but the medieval dancers of old wanted to keep going – they’d missed it as much as I did.

The feast ended about 11pm I think.  Quite a few stayed on to help clean up the hall which was wonderful.  I didn’t have to do any dishes, as brother, sister-in-law and others did them.  I have to say my German sister-in-law was a right pain at times.  She wanted me to do this, do that, right now, when I was busy chatting to friends, showing them out or accepting gifts.

Home about 11.45 and we all agreed it had been a good time.  Success!

I woke up earlyish the next morning and went off to clean the hall floors and take away the bottles and rubbish.  Brother and wife went out to take the dogs for a walk and visit a friend.  Bottles deposited in recycling on the way home, and I could finally, perhaps, relax.  I’m still left with some dishes which were left by people who’d brought food.  No idea where they came from and I’ve asked all or most of my friends.  I suspect they might belong to friends of younger daughter who came along.

Funnily, people wanted more and asked when the next feast might be.  Some also want to do more medieval dancing.  Might think about it next year.  Hiring a hall for say one hour a month might be possible.  We agreed a weekly thing was too often.  Something to think about.

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Nice to have seen you… for a day or so.

This has to be THE most expensive month ever.

I paid $350 for the vet in October.  I got two more bills this week – $450 and $215.

The tree man’s bill was $385.

The plumber’s bill was $385.

The dentist check-up was $280.

The parking bill for next year was $303.

I haven’t received the sliding door man’s bill yet.

I’ve got rates of close to $400 to pay by the end of the month.

The doctor was $40 but I went again today for a “special procedure” (don’t ask) – $145!

Holy fuck.  (I don’t often swear but the money’s just flowing out the effin’ door and I feel the need to say the F word.)

I will post about the feast.  Just need to get around to uploading a photo or two….

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Racist email

I just received one of the most racist emails I’ve ever read, forwarded by my Christian friend. Where do Xians get off forwarding such bigotry and intolerance? I attach this ghastly piece of shit. There was more at the bottom of the email which was obviously written by xenophobic yanks, comparing supposed Jewish intelligence to Muslim “ignorance”. It also claimed that Americans don’t do all this evil shit that Muslims are supposed to do on a regular basis. Yeah right. FFS.

I was appalled. I replied to all (this friend had forwarded this shit to several friends) pointing out that without Arab colonization of Spain in the early medieval period there would have been no renaissance. Much of our modern knowledge comes from the Arab world. I also mentioned the Arab tolerance of Christians in Spain, the beautiful architecture, dance and music, before they were forced out of the country or murdered by fanatical, power-hungry Christians. Then I went on to point out that the Israeli government is now treating Palestinians worse than animals, giving them no rights at all – they have become the oppressor.

I suggested that instead of forwarding this bullshit, all these people read history books and books and articles about the current situation (many written by Jews) to get the truth instead of believing this racist shite. I am still so angry.

This crap is below. 

EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ

The following is a copy of an article written by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez and published in a Spanish newspaper on Jan. 15, 2008. It doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate the message to the rest of Europe – and possibly to the rest of the world.

REMEMBER AS YOU READ — IT WAS IN A SPANISH PAPER

Date: Tue. 15 January 2008 14:30

ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ

By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez

I walked down the street in Barcelona , and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz … We killed six million Jews
and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world.
These are the people we burned.

And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime. Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition.

We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.

What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe .

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Calmer

… somewhat.

I finished the skirt and dress last night.  While waiting for daughter to return home (so I could do the hemming), I started tidying up the house and putting things aside in boxes to take to the feast.

Once she returned I did my best at hemming both garments and I’m not very good at it.  Whatever I do they seem to end up crooked.  That’s my fault for not measuring the right length before cutting the material so I try to cut off the excess and hem from there.  Inevitably they end up crooked but I’d had enough by then and didnt care.  The inserted piece of material to hide my back fat has worked so I was quite relieved.

This morning I’ve been doing odd jobs.  I picked up the hall key this morning then headed into town to get a new tyre (one of two needed by the next WOF), got petrol, a car wash and tidied the car up.

Once home I’ve been doing jobs as I come across them but this leads to confusion and half-finished chores:

  • I cleaned the bath after visiting the toilet.  (Daughter had cleaned the bathroom yesterday she reckoned but the bath didn’t look clean although she swears she scrubbed it.  I used a different cleaner as well as some elbow grease and it looks much better.)
  • I was about to iron an extra costume piece that someone might borrow and discovered it looked dirty so stopped ironing and put it to soak.
  • I put some recycling into the box and noticed a houseplant needed watering, then saw the yoghurt maker and remembered I needed yoghurt for a recipe tomorrow.  That was after a coffee which went straight through me  needing another visit to the toilet.  Back from the toilet I had forgotten what I was going to do.  Wandered aimlessly then remembered the houseplant and then the yoghurt…
  • In the meantime I’m trying to remember what to take. as well as practising some belly dances (which meant looking for my notebook of some dances, but once found it wasn’t there…)
  • I had been online specifically to pay for  one of the vet bills received today, but of course forgot once I went online then disconnected.  Saw the bill in front of me and went back online!

You get the picture!

My mind is chaotic!

Which reminds me – tradesmen!  What a pain!  I thought I’d make use of having a week off work to get sundry tradesmen to fix things around the house.  The plumber was brilliant – came the same day I called (I called all of them on Monday).  The feared hot water cylinder replacement wasn’t necessary and the leak is fixed.  Next was the tree man to cut down two dead trees.  He turned up Tuesday to give me a quote but said they couldn’t get the job done for about two weeks.  Finally the hopeless sliding door repairman.  I had called him earlier in the year and he didn’t show up while daughter was home.  He never called back.  I should have expected this but called him again anyway on Monday and he reckoned he might be able to come this week.  It’s now Friday and he hasn’t called, even to say when he might be able to come.  I’ll call him again next Monday but god, he’s hopeless!  I should have tried someone else.  Bloody hell.  Try to get things done and they sit around waiting for a feckin’ tradesman to turn up.  I had hoped to get these more obvious problems fixed up before brother arrived.  No such luck. 😦

Which reminds me of another disappointment.  Two weeks ago there was a book sale online at “Mightyape”.  I spotted a book called “Medieval celebrations” which had all sorts of useful suggestions – perfect, I thought, for my feast.  They sent an email to say it would be sent this Monday just gone.  This was disappointing as I’d hoped to get it the week before.  When it didn’t show up by Wednesday I asked where it might be.  They said they should receive it by today.  No good – I cancelled the order.  The book is useless to me after the event.

I suppose my next update will be after the event.

Photos will be included.

 

 

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The birthday on Tuesday was merely incidental to the whole week of frantic worrying and trying to do everything.

I’ve more or less finished the dress – FINALLY – but, and this is an annoying but – it’s a bit too small.  It’s one of those patterns where you can’t actually try anything on until the garment’s completed.  My back fat shows through the lacing at the back so I’m having to ‘rescue’ this by inserting some material, somehow, to lie underneath.  Nobody wants to see bare flesh through lacing.  Ugh.  It’s also quite heavy (as anticipated) and the shoulders are so narrow that they keep falling off.  Just as well I have a strapless bra.  So, not the most comfortable of garments.  I’ll take along an older dress (complete with zip) to put on if it gets too tight and too hot.  Sigh.

Meanwhile, I also have my daughter’s skirt to sew.  Done much of it but am currently gathering in the waist to attach a waistband.  I have to hem both dress and skirt (and they’re full).  What joy.

If last minute sewing wasn’t enough my bro and (very particlar) wife are staying over, naturally, on Saturday.  Mad scramble outside to  tidy up months of neglect.  Twice mown lawn and hastily pulled out weeds and it looks more reasonable.  It won’t meet sister-in-law’s standards but it’s all I can do in the meantime until, by some miracle, I have time to do it properly.

Then there’s the inside of the house, currently strewn with bits of material and the usual mess of living.  I’m frantically trying to finish these blessed garments so I can tidy up and THEN I can pack up bits and pieces needed for the feast.

“Where’s daughter?” you might ask.  Poor girl is stressed out with having to hand in one assignment per day this week.  She’s been up every night until the early hours of the morning finishing them off to hand in.  Even on my birthday she was at UCOL printing out photos and mounting them for one of the assignments.  She apologised and said she’d make it up to me because she had intended to cook a nice meal for me.  As it was I went along to belly dancing as per usual and got Chinese takeaways on the way home.  Not the most enjoyable of actual birthdays but I did enjoy the sunshine and the real celebration will be on Saturday in any case.

Yep, feeling a little stressed.  Got one and a half days to sort things and then Saturday morning to cook dishes.  Saturday arvo picking up trestle tables, setting up the hall and then getting into the pesky dress.  I will also have to take along a change of clothing for belly dancing.  I’m plucking up the courage to dance with other belly dancers who will be there in front of friends and family who have never seen me dance before.  I’m trying not to think about that at the moment.  I just hope I won’t be so nervous that I make heaps of errors.  I felt so unco’ on Tuesday night – perhaps I was just too stressed to get into it.  Sigh.

Had my brief break (and forget about the coffee I was going to make) so better get back to sewing the skirt.

I’ll let you know when I feel calm and prepared!

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