Someone asked the Dalai Lama what surprises him most

19 Sep

This was his response:

“Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; He lives as if he’s never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived”

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Our debt riddled society

13 Sep

Last week I had a minor car crash. It was minor in that no one was hurt in the slightest, but the impact it had on my life was major. My car was ruined. I only had third party insurance, as my car wasn’t really worth very much and I didn’t have much money for insurance. It was a horrible day. When the crash happened and I got out to talk to the other guy, my heart just sank. I was in total shock, but I knew instantly that this was A Big Deal.

I spent the next few days incredibly stressed trying to figure out how I was going to pay for a new car. My nanny work requires me to have a car; the kids are 11 and 14 so they don’t really need much supervision, they just need to be picked up from school, reminded to do a few things, and taxied to their various extracurricular activities. So not only was I facing a large expense, I couldn’t work. There were several occasions when I really needed my car and it just plain old sucked not to have it.

I know this is a very first world problem. And no one was hurt in the crash. My son wasn’t even in the car, thank goodness, otherwise I would have felt like the worst mother in the world. I still had food to eat and a roof over my head and good friends, etc. But it made me realise all over again how incredibly dependent I am on cheap oil and my car.

 

Last night I bought a car on borrowed money. I borrowed it from my own business, so I don’t have to pay interest or sign my life away to an unscrupulous loan shark. I’m lucky for this, but it still made me realise how vulnerable I am that I don’t have enough money saved to bail myself out of this kind of serious situation. I got a cheap car but it works really well and is lovely to drive.

It was a strange experience though.

The auction itself was terrifying. They speak so loud and so fast, and there’s a whole lot of gesticulating and yelling and pictures flashing on the screen and people barely moving to flash their cards and spend money. When it got to the car I wanted, lot 19, I wasn’t even quite sure when the bid was mine and when it was the other person. I won it, but I was shaking the whole time. What made it even more nerve wracking was the fact that I know next to nothing about cars. I did several test drives, rejected several cars outright, but when it came to the one I chose I had no expertise to check if anything was wrong. It got it’s warrant of fitness last week, so I trusted that. I hope it doesn’t blow up on me or anything. The consultants, one in particular, were actually genuinely helpful and did make the process somewhat more pleasant for me. But still,  I do not want to do that by myself ever again!

I was struck by a sign which said:

NEVER
NEVER
NEVER
Let finance stand between you and your dream car.

And I almost wanted to cry with how stupid our debt driven society is. How about:

NEVER
NEVER
NEVER
Let your dream car stand between you and a sensible choice.

? ?

I love having a car again.

I’m so dependent.

Eeek.

Little Things

29 Aug

I just discovered this blog, and I’m in love.

I do this all the time. It's why I suck at jokes and pranks.

 

A list of little things we should all appreciate

How more technology means less technology

28 Aug

A couple of days ago I got my first android smartphone. It’s low end, but I love it! I have had my piece of crap cellphone for several years – it’s so crap it even freezes when I text. And that’s all I do – text, use the alarm, and receive calls. I didn’t even make calls because it was too pricey. Not anymore. I scorn gadgetry… but now I am rather chuffed with my smartphone.

Here’s why I think it’s good for me and my son:

I spent too much time on the computer. I know this, yet I feel helpless to resist. As a single Mum, the computer is often my only contact with the “outside world”. When you live alone with a toddler who goes to sleep about 7pm every night, it can get pretty lonely. And even throughout the day I find myself checking emails a lot, even when he’s awake, because frankly, his conversational skills aren’t up to much. No matter how much you love someone it can be exhausting being with them all the time. And a 17 month old is very demanding of attention!

I feel pretty guilty about this. I feel guilty because my son deserves my attention and he is learning that the computer is pretty important to me. I feel guilty because sometimes I sit him on my lap and let him watch Sesame St songs on one half of the screen while I do things on the other half. I never wanted to plonk him in front of a screen. I feel guilty because it does stave off my boredom, and if I didn’t have that, I’d probably think of more creative things to do that would be better for the both of us.

So here’s how my new phone helps with all that. I have synced my Gmail and Facebook accounts to my phone. This means that I get a bleep every time I get an email, as well as texts. I don’t even have to read the emails, but I can see who it’s from and what it’s about, and decide to ignore it or check it, without going back and forward to the computer. Yesterday I was having a conversation with my friend on Facebook and I decided to take the baby for a walk. I didn’t have to stop the conversation, I just took it with me! My son was perfectly happy walking along without my talking to him all the time – in fact I think he’d prefer if I left him to it! Both our needs were met.

My computer time has been drastically reduced. It’s much easier and more discreet to check my phone than to check my computer. And I’m not replacing computer screen time with phone screen time, I’m just not having as much screen time full stop. I find it easier to completely forget about it all until my phone bleeps, and even then I am able to ignore emails more than I would if I was on the computer.

And of course it has other cool features.

So that is my story of how my smartphone has helped with the thing I feel most guilty about – time on the computer.

Moving house again

24 Aug

I can’t quite believe I’m shifting house again, when I only moved here 3 months ago. The truth is, it sucks living by myself. I know some people don’t mind it, and some people love it. I’m not one of them. I am much too social to live by myself. I don’t even need to be talking to someone all the time – I just like to have someone else around. Two of my close friends are also single mothers (one with a toddler two weeks older than my son, and one with a 6 month old baby) and we have decided to get a huge house together.

I am really looking forward to it. I know having flatmates can have problems, but I prefer it to living alone. (I know I don’t technically live alone, but my toddler goes to sleep at 7pm every night and it gets a bit lonely. He’s also not much help with housework…) We already look after each other’s children when needed, and it would be a lot easier to help out with childcare when we all live together. Even if it’s just popping out to the supermarket for half an hour once the babies are in bed. It doesn’t seem so much of an imposition on each other if we are at home anyway. Not to mention splitting the bills, much cheaper rent, and sharing the housework and cooking. And the children will have each other to play with. They’ll each have their own mothers’ devoted attention as well as pseudo-siblings. Best of both worlds, really!

We have been offered a 6 bedroom house which also has a study I can use for my business. It’s a really cool house; it will be by far the biggest place I’ve ever lived in! It’s also in the same suburb as our other best friend and her fiance and daughter.

In fact, I’m so excited about it that I’m not even dreading the shifting too much. I’m not attached to my flat, and having shifted so recently I know it can be done in a day with a few willing hands.

 

 

Dylan Moran on Consumerism

17 Aug

I love Dylan Moran. Because he’s funny, obviously.

Check out his bit about mornings too.

On having fun

16 Aug

Lately, I’ve been making the most of being young and single. For better or for worse, I’m stuck in this city for a while*. I’m choosing to look at it as ‘for better’.

Here’s how I see it, when I’m not feeling sorry for myself (I only rarely feel sorry for myself, I’m pretty happy). I have enough money to live, and even a bit leftover, if I live smartly. I have a few really good friends; the kind I can count on to commiserate with me, laugh with me, look after my son at the drop of a hat, turn a blind eye to mess or help with the housework, talk frankly, invite me round for dinner, just BE with. My friends are amazing. I have every Saturday night off, when my son stays with his father. This is probably the best thing about being a single mother (aside from, in my case, not being in a miserable marriage). Having that one night off – a whole 24 hours – helps me recharge my human batteries. I can relax for a little bit. I can have a nap (I don’t, but it helps to know I could). I can GO OUT DANCING all night with my friends. I can kiss a man if I want to. I can sit in a cafe and have a leisurely chai latte while I read a book. For 24 hours, I can do whatever I like, with no responsibility. (Aside from the normal responsibility of being a member of society, of course. Let’s be reasonable here.)

I am a devoted mother, and my son comes first in everything. But now that I am getting used to being single, I am rediscovering my own pleasures that I had forgotten. I am becoming more myself again. Sometimes, in a relationship, you get swallowed up in trying to please the other person. For me, there were things I stopped doing, over time, because it was too much effort, or my husband wasn’t interested. I gave up talking about things I cared about, because he seemed to see everything I said as a challenge in some way. Finding myself again is wonderful. I want to say that I will never again let myself be swallowed up in a needy version of love. Of course, I haven’t fallen in love again – yet – so I don’t know. But I hope I will be a bit more sensible about it next time around…

So I’m having fun. I’m learning to love myself. I’m feeling inspired to live a kick-ass life.

“This life is mine. I will live it with all I’ve got. I won’t take crap from anyone, won’t play small, or safe. I will admit that I’m a badass. I can break through after a break down. I can get up after I fall down on my face.” Andrea Owen

I met my husband when I was 19, and we were together for 5 years. That means I have spent approximately a 5th of my life with him. Wow. Now, I am ‘cutting loose’ and all that. I am flirting. It is fun! I spent some money on clothes the other day. I have hardly ever done this in my life. I shaved my legs. I smiled at myself in the mirror. I’ve read Succulent Wild Women (10 times), I know the deal. I am finally starting to live it, instead of read it.

“People with the creative spirit are obssessed with possibility.” Danielle La Porte

But sometimes this little voice crops up and says “This is frivolous. You’re an adult now. You should be saving your pennies and building an eco house.” Or some other sensible chatter.

For now, can I just ignore it? I can keep doing all the good eco things that are a natural part of my life now (recycling, free range, reducing rubbish, natural parenting, etc). I’m only 24. I’m allowed a bit of fun, right?

*I am working towards moving to a self sufficient lifestyle in Motueka with my son, but as it currently stands his father would fight me for him if I moved away. So I’m biding my time. 

Who Killed Economic Growth?

8 Aug

All better now

7 Aug

No more self pity here! Phew.

Wallowing in self pity

5 Aug

Today I attended the second CYF workshop on Ways to Care, which is preparing people for becoming foster or adoptive parents. I’m not going to go into details about that, but I have been feeling rather bummed out ever since. Nothing to do with the workshop, even.

No, I’m feeling bummed out because most of the people in that room were extremely well dressed, in what appear to be solid relationships [I know it is not always clear from external appearances], with important jobs (judging from the amount of phone calls and txts that happened on expensive phones in the breaks). Although I am a fairly confident person and they were all nice, and I contributed plenty of valid ideas, I felt self conscious. Because I was there in my op shop clothes, on my own.

I know plenty of single mothers, and I think they’re great. But I don’t want any of their lifestyles. All the single mothers I know stress about money on a regular basis. I’m not someone who’s inclined to stress, and yet I began to really stress about money when I became a single mum. I think of all the people I know who have several beautiful children, big houses, loving husbands, plenty of money, etc. And I just feel really really bummed out.

I was raised by a single mother, and I have never known what it’s like to not worry about money, what it’s like not to feel like it’s a constant battle to ‘get by’, since I knew what money was.

I wanted a big family, and a loving husband, and a nice place to live. Well, I married a jerk (and subsequently left him after his behaviour became increasingly unacceptable), and have never lived in a place I really liked.  My pregnancy was so traumatic that I’m scared to go through it again, and given that I needed so many medical interventions (five anti nausea drugs, two heartburn drugs, various supplements, IV fluids, NG tube, a lot of monitoring and ultrasounds and tests, a cesarean section), I feel I would be unlikely to survive another pregnancy if I did not have access to all that free medical care. Which is entirely possible, given what is happening in the world.

I don’t want to be alone forever. I tell myself: I’m still young. I’m only 24. I have lots to bring to a relationship. But I don’t know how to meet people, how to date. I met my husband when I was 19. I was in the dating phase so briefly that I barely remember the rules. I miss having someone’s hand to hold. I hate doing the housework and I get really bored with the mundane things in life, because there’s no one to do it with. No one to have conversations with or laugh with. I spend too much time on the computer, hoping someone will talk to me on Facebook or Skype, reading chatty blogs – because I’m so lonely once my playgroups are over and my son is in bed and my friends are spending time with their ‘other half’.

I don’t want to get trapped into thinking a man will ‘save me’. I was raised by a feminist, after all. But I don’t think it’s their manliness that I perceive as the saviour. It’s having someone to share life with.

I read this blog post about a mum’s trip to Kenya. And I was struck mostly by the statement: Kenyan women are never lonely. For a moment, I actually felt envious of women whose children have aids, who have to get up at 4am to wait two hours in a line to get water, who live in utter poverty. I envied them their community. I can see how that makes their otherwise desperately difficult lives livable.

I’m trying to move back to my hometown, where I have more of a community, where life will be that little bit easier, but my son’s father will fight me. I can understand why. Believe me, the thought of separating my son from his father causes me endless anxiety and guilt. But I felt that way before I left the marriage, and I don’t regret that in the least. And in all honesty, I don’t trust my son’s feelings to be safe in his father’s hands when he is older. Mine never were. I don’t think he is a good role model. I want my baby to have a Dad who loves him, but actually: I don’t want him to be around all the time. That doesn’t change the fact that I could be facing a long custody battle if I try to move away.

I know that I should count my blessings. And believe me, I often do. I’m not depressed and I’m not angry, I’m just bummed. I know that many of those wealthy well-dressed happily-married course participants would give anything to have a beautiful little child like I do. That’s why they were there. I’m usually pretty positive.

But right now, I’m feeling crap, and I’m wallowing in it.

Outdoor preschools

4 Aug

Last night I came across a link to a Forest Preschool in Canada. Something about the idea instantly captivated me. My son is such an outdoors kid – he really would spend all day outside if he could. Because of his personality, I’m really interested in these outdoor preschools.

Link to What Are Forest Schools?

And here’s an article about one in Scotland.

Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, there are other things that I would personally like to see incorporated. I think it is great that they spend all day outside, but I also think that some other outdoor activities could be incorporated, rather than just being in the bush. For example the children could feed chooks and collect the eggs. They could grow a vegetable garden. I think it would be valid to incorporate a democratic education angle, as well as some quieter activities, like reading. Books can be read outside though! I think they can also have some directed activities, such as painting (easels can be set up outside), playing with things like wooden go-carts, and cooking (eg. mini pizzas for lunch).

I like the idea of having a yurt as a classroom for extreme weather. I think for younger children it may be a nice space for them to sleep in. And of course there would be a compost toilet.

I am quite excited about the idea of sending my toddler to something like this when he is a bit older. It makes me wonder if I should set one up. But although I would really like him to go there, I’m just not convinced I want to look after other people’s children for a living, much as I enjoy children. Something to think about.

Today a friend posted a link to this lovely video which reminded me how magic the natural world is.

Making a Stand

31 Jul

Making a Stand for a Renewable Energy Future

Speech given by Katerina Seligman
at the Ride for Renewables (and Against Mining)
30th July 2011
Motueka, New Zealand

Katerina's speech

This information was put together by a group of local people in Motueka who are very concerned about what is happening here in NZ in regard to mining. This is our third public event and we plan to have an event of some kind on the last Saturday of every month at noon. Our goals are to protect our beaches from potential oil spills, and to highlight the importance of moving away from fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy future. If you want to be on an e-mail list to get information about future events, e-mail: no.oily.beaches@gmail.com

NZ is on the brink of a massive fossil-fuel-extraction binge. The government has laid down a welcome mat to international mining companies…. “please come and mine at our place”. And the mining companies have responded to the call. Companies are lining up to drill for deep sea oil, prospect for minerals and dig up coal all around NZ. New Zealand is pockmarked with new new exploration sites on land and sea. About 70 petroleum exploration permits are current with about 23 more pending. Many permits have also been granted for coal and mineral exploration.

In regards to oil, the government is encouraging prospecting in very deep waters. To put that into perspective: The deepest offshore oil well off Taranaki is 300 metres deep. The Deep Water Horizon Well in the Gulf of Mexico which went terribly wrong with a massive oil spill, was 5 times as deep …one and a half km. Humans can’t go that deep. All repairs were attempted by robots. 6500 ships responded to the spill disaster. It took almost three months to plug the well-head. The proposed drilling off our coastlines is twice that depth, 3 km deep! That is sheer madness for a country that simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with even a very small oil spill.

It was reported in the very reputable newspaper the UK Guardian ( 5th July 2011) that serious spills of oil and gas from North Sea platforms are occurring at the rate of one a week, even though the companies claim to be doing everything possible to improve the safety of rigs.

We currently have Anadarko test drilling off the Otago and Canterbury Coasts and Petrobras have just finished exploratory drilling off the East Cape. Greywolf was refused its permits here in our region because the company turned out to be too unreliable, but the government is very willing for a more reliable company to come in and do the job.

What about coal? There are companies bing granted permits all over the country, some mines already in operation and some rearing to go. I’ll just focus on just one of these: the proposed lignite projects in Southland, on 4000 hectares of farmland that has been purchased by the Government. Lignite is very dirty coal. It’s half water, high in ash, and takes a lot of energy to turn it into anything useful. If all the lignite at the proposed mine site in Southland were burned, anywhere in the world, and export is certainly on the government’s agenda, it would put over 8 Billion Tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s over one hundred times NZ’s annual emissions from all sources!

Solid Energy has applied for a pilot briquetting plant, and is planing a second plant ten times bigger than that . They also want to make urea and diesel from the the lignite. Collectively Solid Energy’s projects, if they go ahead, would raise NZ’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. This at a time when we should be trying to reduce our emissions. This is an State Owned Enterprise that you and I own! But it gets worse: The government is going to use our taxes to meet its Kyoto obligations. Solid Energy tells us it will “meet its climate change obligations in full”. But that’s easy because by current laws it has almost no obligations.
The reason the government is willing to subsidize this kind of development is because it is central to its economic growth strategy. This is a much bigger and harder issue to deal with than the Mining- in- the- National- Parks issue that we saw recently.

Where will the capital come from for this Southland development. It’s going to cost billions!
Neither Solid Energy nor the government has the money. The plan is to sell about half of Solid Energy to an overseas company, almost certainly a Chinese one. We already have a free trade agreement with China. If a Chinese company were to run the show, and some subsequent government brought in new environmentally responsible laws, the Chinese could sue us in a secret tribunal for loss of investor profits!

John Key is currently doing his very best to negotiate a similar agreement, The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, with the USA who would be even more likely and able to sue us than the Chinese for making responsible laws in our own country .

With rising Green House Gases, we are heading for an environment that will no longer support the lives and livelihoods of communities. The poorest communities of the world are already suffering the most with increased droughts famines and floods. But even here in New Zealand we are experiencing more extreme weather events. You might think this latest cold spell is reassurance that global warming is not actually happening. But unfortunately climate change is not about short term changes in the weather. Changes in the Climate which are a result of global warming, are happening. Unfortunately climate change is now very evident in many parts of the world and is undeniable. James Hansen, one of the world’s most highly respected climate scientists who visited NZ recently, claims that we still have time to turn things around. He says that coal, world wide, is the biggest cause of climate change. He thinks that we could still burn the remaining easily accessible oil and gas, as long as we don’t start any new extractions from tar sands and deep-sea drilling, and as long as we phase out all burning of coal to zero by 2030. To do that we would need to put all of our ingenuity, resources and will towards creating a renewable energy future.

Some ask: why should we be the first in world to stop mining and using coal?
The good news is that if we took that courageous step, we would not be the first. Resistance to coal and extreme fossil fuels extraction like deep sea oil has been growing worldwide for quite a few years.

In June 2007, Florida refused to license a huge coal plant because it was looking like it would be more expensive than investing in renewable energy generation. This led to the withdrawal of four other coal plant proposals in the state.

This is just one example of thousands worldwide where governing bodies have responded to the people’s demand for common sense to prevail. Leading investment banks in some parts of the US have stopped funding new coal mines. Existing coal plants are being closed in New York State because of that state’s very sensible energy efficiency standards. The phasing our of coal plants is making some progress in Denmark, Hungary, Canada, Scotland.

If we keep pumping green house gases into the atmosphere, it is the young people and future generations who will suffer most. And young people world wide are making their voices heard.

A courageous group in the USA, fronted by 15 teenagers, is suing the US government under the Constitution for failing to protect the rights of future generations. (Google: Hansen, The Case for young people and nature.) Young people here in NZ and world wide are getting active to try to secure their own future: groups such as the NZ Youth Delegation, Generation Zero, The 2050 Alliance, Regeneration, 350.org, and CANA, (Coal Action Network Aotearoa) and a number of others. But we don’t want our youth to be the only ones fighting for their future. It’s time for all people to inform themselves, to get active and to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions our planet faces.

Of course, jobs and money are vitally important for the wellbeing and of individuals and communities. No one is denying that. But a community that depends on jobs and income from unsustainable activity has no resilience and will eventually lose everything. Communities who are dependent on renewable resources that will never run out for their jobs and incomes are the ones that will survive in the longer term.

So what are the alternatives to fossil fuel extraction?
A report from The Political Economy Research Institute in the US estimated that 100 billion dollars spent on clean energy over a 10-year period could create two million new jobs, compared to just half a million jobs if the money were invested in oil and gas-related industries. That’s four times as many jobs. The Center for American Progress, has estimated that renewable energy and efficiency improvements create twice as many jobs (per unit of energy and per dollar invested) than traditional fossil fuel-based technologies. In other words, money invested in clean energy can create two to four times as many jobs as money invested in fossil fuel industries…

Policy-makers have the opportunity to create viable new markets, boost private investment and innovation in renewables, and stimulate the economy. Governments around the world are redesigning their economies to embrace a cleaner way of doing business. Governments like China, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Germany, who are offering incentives for renewable energy initiatives, are establishing stronger competitive positions in the global clean energy economy. According Investment New Zealand, approximately 250 companies and organisations are researching, developing and commercialising clean technologies in New Zealand and least 60 of these companies are potentially world class. An economic crisis is the breeding ground for innovation and entrepreneurship. Many very successful companies (Microsoft, Nokia), were born during during an economic downturn.

We need to demand from our government that they abandon their fossil fuel agenda, and put all of their efforts into creating a renewable energy future. It’s just the right thing to do.

What can you do?

  • Inform yourself. Let everyone know what is happening and build networks of people willing to take action. Check out the government’s New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals website
  • Keep informed by signing up to the CANA e-mail list (coalactionnetwork@gmail.com)
  • Talk about it to family and friends,
  • Write letters to editors
  • Write submissions on consent applications. CANA will send information to help with this .
  • Write to Fonterra letting them know that they should shift to wood fuels rather than burning coal. (to make their milk powder etc)
  • Write to oil companies..let them know that you will only buy diesel from those who do not make it from lignite
  • Write to fertiliser companies letting them know you don’t want urea made from lignite.
  • Make this an election issue. Ask candidates where they stand on coal mining and oil rigs.
  • Be ready to turn up in person at events like this ( at noon on the last Saturday of every month) and be ready to turn up at the mine site in Southland one day if necessary. It may come to that!
  • Google the following inspiring groups: awakeningthedreamer, pureadvantage, commondreams, generationzero (www.generationzero.org.nz), happyzine

Ride for Renewables

30 Jul

My son and his Nana

Today my Mum and I took the toddler to his first ever protest. We attended the Bike Ride for Renewables (and Against Mining) in Motueka. He rode on the bike seat on the back of his Nana’s bike. He is just so cute in his little helmet! It was way past his naptime but he handled it all really well. It was fun. I know it’s a serious topic, but the event itself was fun. A few dozen people showed up on their bicycles, many with kids in tow. We pedaled along High St, two abreast, with plenty of cars honking on their way past. It is a stunning day today, perfect for a bike ride.

My friend Katerina Seligman gave a great speech about mining and renewables. I didn’t get to hear all of it due to an overtired hungry toddler who needed to be fed and kept happy, but I’m looking forward to reading it on email. Then local MP Damien O’Connor said a few words. It’s good to hear a politician agreeing that we need to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle, not just frantically try to find more oil and coal or other energy source, and that environmental destruction is not OK. As far as I could tell (while I was busy with the aforementioned needy toddler) he didn’t really say anything except that he’d take our views to parliament. I suppose that’s what politicians are for… I personally don’t think he went far enough, but then he is a Labour MP, not a Green one!

I took a whole bunch of photos (some of them while I was riding!) and put them up on flickr here. Katerina is going to let me publish her speech here so I’ll upload that when it comes through.

Snow snap

28 Jul

Last Sunday night, it snowed! Right in the middle of town. I thought it was cold, but didn’t realise it was that cold. I’ve lived in or visited Motueka since I was 11 years old and it has never snowed this low down before. I had just put the baby to bed when Mum called me outside. I went outside, started shivering immediately, and got a snowball in my face! She’s been telling this story with glee to everyone we see.

It was a surprise to see it snowing, but it was even more of a surprise when we got up in the morning to see that it had settled, several inches thick. By the time the photos below were taken the sun had been up for several hours and we passed several cars on our way to Atamai with 6 inches of snow on their roofs and bonnets. We stood up on one of the elevated lots and looked down over the beautiful Motueka Valley, with snow right down on the hills.

It’s common here for the mountains to be white all winter, but apparently it’s been 100 years since it last settled in the valley and in town. For those in colder climes there is nothing special about these photos, but for locals, it was a rare and special event indeed! I was so glad we were here (rather than home in Wellington) and that my son got to experience snow for the first time.

Motueka Valley with snow in July

 

 

Atamai Eco-Village

 

Snowy logs

 

My toddler learns to walk on crunchy grass

 

My mother and my son

 

Snowy hills

 

Me and my baby standing on one of the Atamai sections, with the stunning Motueka Valley behind us.

Activity book

26 Jul

I made my son an activity book. I believe these are traditionally called quiet books, and were given to children to keep them quiet in church. Since my intention is not to keep him quiet, nor to go to church! I have called it an activity book. I think they are also called busy books.

This project took me hours and hours. Cutting out the fiddly little leaves and flowers and the tree and the edges of the barn and sewing the envelopes and all the velcro and and and. I think if I had realised quite how time consuming it would be to finish it, I wouldn’t have started it. But I am glad I did, so there’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

My toddler loves it. Admittedly, he likes the pages where he can pull things off (the flowers and barn pages are his favourites for that), and the book is already looking slightly worse for wear. He also really loves the family home page – he gets really excited opening the flaps and seeing his favourite people. At 16 months it is definitely a supervised activity, but I think it will last him a long time – he hasn’t even explored things like tying the shoelaces yet.

The whole book - I love the cover fabric!

Snaps shut

he pages are made from calico

The first page has my son’s name sewn in felt block letters.

The barn and seasonal tree pages.

The family home. Each window opens in a different direction, and contains a picture of his favourite people. He loves this page.

Summertime tree.

Autumnal tree

Winter tree. (The leaves and flowers velcro on and off and can be stored in the pouch of grass.)

Springtime tree.

The paint palette and shoelace pages.

Mix and match the colours. Each paint blob velcro's on and off, the point is to identify the colours. And a real paintbrush, for the sake of it. (Pretend painting?)

Shoes with real eyelets and shoelaces to practice threading and tying.

Texture and mailbox pages

Different textures to explore.

The mailbox snaps open and shut, there are 4 envelopes with tiny stamps on, and the flag pivots on the buttons.

Dress the boy pages.

He has a wardrobe of red t'shirt and blue shorts, polka dot pyjamas, and brown dungarees. They velcro on and off the boy and can then be put away in the wardrobe.

Flowers and barn pages.

The flowers button on and off.

I think the barn is so cute.

The barn doors open to reveal finger puppets. They're supposed to be a pig, frog, and duck but this was a later page and I was getting a bit over it so was a tad lazy with them. My boy loves them though.

The puzzle page. The pouches on the left each contain a different puzzle, which go on the velcro strips on the right.

Leaf puzzle

Heart puzzle

Star puzzle. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I failed dismally at putting this one back together. I'd like to blame sleep deprivation but I'm not too sleep deprived. Think I might redo this one with a simpler star and more even cutting.

Laundry and basket pages.

They are real mini pegs. The basket has an open top that the clothes can be put in.

The basket is for weaving practice. The bottom and right edges are sewn down, the rest can be undone and rewoven.

Clock and tent pages.

The clock hands can be moved when he is ready to learn to tell the time.

The tent can be unzipped to reveal a smiling teddybear.

The last page contains pouches for crayons and a little notebook. Although he loves to draw, he has also been testing his boundaries regarding eating the crayons. So they have been confiscated for a little while.

So, climate change isn’t real?

10 Jul

Tell that to the people in the Horn of Africa.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14078074

It breaks my heart to think of all those suffering people. What can you do? It seems so futile: too little, too late. So many devastated families.

Going raw again

9 Jul

Today is the day. I’m sick of making excuses for myself.

It’s too expensive. (It’s not.)

I don’t have time. (I can make the time)

I like cooked food. (Oh well.)

Etc.

I have had a cough and stuffy nose for over a week now and I just can’t seem to shake it. I have been tired (no surprise, with a bug, and a sick toddler who has me up at all hours of the night). I can almost feel myself putting on weight.

Enough is enough! I have done raw before, and I know how it good it makes me feel, even if I don’t love the food. I do like it, I just don’t love it. Eating needn’t be such an emotional deal thing anyway. I’m weary of putting crap into my body.

Again, I’m not going 100% raw. I’m still allowing myself eggs, cheese, potatoes (cooked in a healthy manner!), and things like chickpeas and kidney beans. But I’m going to eat a lot more raw vegies and fruit, and snack on things like nuts and raw crackers.

Yeeha!

 

 

A gardening misdemeanour

9 Jul

I am flabbergasted. I cannot believe the stupidity of the human race sometimes. Check out this story of a woman who faces misdemeanour charges for… having a vegetable garden in her front yard.

Um.

Umm.

What???

Good on her! I love that she decided to put her vege garden in the front yard instead of the back yard, so that her neighbourhood could share the experience of growing vegetables. Kids ride their bikes past and check out the plants? Awesome! Whether intentional or not, she is making a statement about home grown food, reducing her dependence on oil and processed food. With 6 children it’s no wonder she can’t afford to feed them all organic vegetables. I think she is doing a wonderful thing for her children; they won’t be the sort of kids who don’t know the difference between a potato and tomato.

Look like a pretty respectable front yard to me!

What a pompous jackass the Oak Park city council official is. Spouting the dictionary definition of suitable, to claim that only common ‘beautiful trees and bushes’ should be grown in the front yard. He clearly doesn’t have a clue. The whole concept of perfectly manicured front lawns with a few useless shrubs is an absurd concoction of ‘safe’ suburbia. Further, the Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines suitable as ‘adapted to a use or purpose’. I think she is acting with utmost suitability. Someone on the Facebook page (there’s always a Facebook page!) made a very good point. They can’t tax the tomatoes you share with your neighbour. There’s the trouble.

It is a basic human right to grow food to feed oneself. This isn’t just a council code issue, it is much bigger than that. Julie Bass owns her house and she should have the right to put a vege garden wherever she wants to. The world is in desperate need of more vegetable gardens, and the idea that this woman could go to jail for hers is ludicrous. I can’t imagine that she will be convicted once it goes to trial… surely a judge or jury wouldn’t be as narrow-sighted as Kevin Rulkowski? May I point out that a vegetable garden is so much more beautiful (and infinitely more productive and valid) than a patch of grass. Ugh, conformity.

If you read her blog, she states all the things she didn’t do, because Oak Park doesn’t allow it. Bees, chickens, goats, compost, windmill… I feel so sad that she has her own land and wants to do all these things for her family and the planet, and some bureaucratic nonsense means she can’t. In an ideal world, she’d get an award for what she’s done, not jail time!

However, I think it’s great that she is getting so much support from all over the world. Goes to show there are plenty of aware people out there! A pity they probably don’t want to work for city council. Imagine what could get done!

I say we all plant vege gardens in our front yards in solidarity!*

*To be honest, I don’t plan to be in this flat for long, so I don’t really want to go to the effort of putting in a garden. But I am growing veges and herbs in pots on my stairs and porch… which you can see from the street! 

Times

7 Jul

You know that feeling when you think you’re really busy? And then you get busier, and you look back and think you had leisure time then, but you really don’t now. And then you get busier again?

I totally feel like this

That’s where I am at the moment. I thought I had a fairly busy life pre-baby, although I also had plenty of time for chilling out. Then I had a baby, and mothering him takes up a lot of time! Then I started a business which involves a lot of sewing, website administration, and marketing. Then I started a part time swim teaching job. Then I started working on a book (I’m really, actually working on a book.). Then I got a part time nannying job. In August, I’m going to start studying organic horticulture. And I’m a single mother which means I have to do all the housework and all the errands, and I don’t have any childcare so I take my son everywhere or work while he’s sleeping (with one exception – my brother looks after him for a couple of hours a week while I teach swimming.). I’m also applying to be a foster parent.

Heck!

So you can understand why I have been a little absent on the blog lately. I’ve been working really hard on my book with the aim of finishing it by the time I start studying.

I have also been really slack with eating raw food. When going through a heartbreaking separation and adjusting to life as a working single parent to a busy toddler, it is easy to revert to the style of eating that I have done for 24 years, rather than the way I was eating for a couple of months. I know it’s better for me. I know that once I get into a routine it won’t be too much harder.But did I mention I’m a little busy? It’s also a lot more expensive to eat raw – for me, anyway, as I ate a lot of nuts and things when I was mostly raw, but I didn’t eat much expensive processed food when I eat mostly cooked. So anyway, excuses excuses. I’m taking the baby on a trip to visit my Mum in a couple of weeks; it’ll be the school holidays so I won’t be teaching or nannying. It’ll be my last break for quite a while, and I plan to make the most of it! She is planning for us to be at least 80% raw while I’m there so I’m hoping I will get into healthier habits and continue them when we get back.

Farm for the future

7 Jul

Very interesting documentary: Natural World: Farm for the Future

Asks some very valid questions, and answers many of them too.