Archive | 9:42 pm

Appreciating weather

21 Apr

Pic by John Loku

In the city, rain is simply an inconvenience that requires you to wear an ugly rainjacket or battle with an umbrella. But when I woke up this morning and it was grey and spitting, I thought “oh good, my seedlings will like that”.

It’s nice to have a reason to appreciate weather that isn’t just sunny. (Although I might not be so chirpy after it has rained for a week solid.)

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Planting brassicas

21 Apr

Today seemed like a good day to plant out my brassica seedlings, so I did. As we are coming up to winter they are about all I will be growing for now, although I am planning to put some herbs in pots on the balcony (easy access). I’m also planning to mulch the second terrace and plant garlic in a month or so.

The first step was to improvise a temporary gate at the bottom of the steps so that I wouldnt have to keep following the climbing toddler up them.

However, said toddler went straight to the other steps and climbed them, so I had to improvise another temporary gate.

With the steps out of reach (for now) I was able to plant out the seedlings in the bottom terraced bed, which was semi-mulched. I added another bag of potting mix and half a bag of compost, and then dug holes at regular intervals to place the seedlings in.

Red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, broccoflower and pak choi seedlings

When I attempted to water them using the hose that had been left behind, I was a bit disappointed with the pressure...

So I watered them the old fashioned way with my watering can.

It’s becoming so clear

21 Apr

Photo by Sipa Press / Rex Features. AERIAL VIEW OF AMAZON RAINFOREST DESTRUCTION

The more I learn about Peak Oil and climate change, the more it becomes clear what a stupid society we live in. As I think about the things we (in the developed world) do that have such massive and often negative effect on the environment and other people, I realise that continuing on in this way of life, even if they were to find another few oil fields, is plain old irresponsible and foolhardy.

I feel it regularly, and have for a long time, although I haven’t always known what to do about it. The lack of community, the isolation of the nuclear family, the work commute waste of time, the ‘retail therapy’ mindset. I mean, really, retail therapy? I’ve never been much of a shopper: although I’m not immune to buying things, going to the mall for fun has never been my ‘thing’!

Yes, they could frack the heck out of North America. Maybe they could figure out how to get every last drop of oil out of the wells. Maybe there are untapped oil resources in the Arctic. Maybe there will be enough electricity / hydrogen / ethanol / vegetable oil to fuel alternative cars. But there are so many things wrong with the options presented by Peak Oil skeptics. How about we just leave the Arctic alone? How about we get back on our horses and bikes instead of clutching desperately to our cars? How about we don’t destroy the environment and cause more pollution by fracturing rocks?

Not to mention the fact that many of our products are produced by sweatshop labour. Someone on the other side of the world has toiled away in misery so that I can ‘have it easy’. And cheap. I don’t want that responsibility on my conscience. Hundreds of animal species are endangered or extinct. Amazonian forests are being cut down at insane rates (something like 6 football fields a minute, if I remember correctly) to make space for grazing beef cattle to make more crappy McDonalds burgers. Honestly, people, what are we doing?!

When you look at the issue from so many perspectives (environmental responsibility, human rights, personal health and happiness, animals rights, etc.) it seems ludicrous. I, for one, am ready to renounce this ‘world owes me a living’ consumer lifestyle, and start living sustainably and ethically. Now to figure out exactly how and when…

The dysfunction of nuclear families

21 Apr

Now that I have a baby, and I’m a stay at home mum*, I realise how dysfunctional the nuclear family system is, and how smart other family structures are. One of the women in my coffee group** in Auckland lives with her husband’s Samoan parents, and despite having a baby who didn’t sleep for long, and only when he was actually on someone, they got pregnant again and will have two babies only 14 months apart. The rest of us were flabbergasted that they were having them so close together, but when you have 4 adults in one house, who are all committed to family, it doesn’t seem so crazy after all. It seems do-able.

Although I have a ‘good’*** baby, it is still  a struggle sometimes. His Dad comes home every day after work, plays with the baby, gives him a bath and his bedtime bottle and cuddles him to sleep. He spends the weekends with his family and is happy (well, willing at least) to change nappies, feed, and get the baby to sleep. And yet it still feels like I do it by myself most of the time. In the last 13 months I can count on one hand the number of times I have been away from him. It’s not that I want to be away from him, it just gets really hard to entertain him, look after him, carry him round, do the housework, run errands, work on my business, and be myself. The few moments I steal to myself to sew or write are golden.

Since my brother moved to Wellington it has been easier. He doesn’t have a job, and we are really close, so he is happy to come and hang out with me and the baby for the afternoon. Having that extra pair of hands to ‘just hold the baby while I…’ is a surprising relief. Imagine if I had more family around. Not just to hold the baby, but to share in with the housework and all the other minutiae of daily life that gets overwhelming when you are doing most of it by yourself, but which is totally manageable when you have many hands to make light work.

I’m not talking about making relatives come over to clean my house and look after my kid. I’m more than willing to work hard and do what needs to be done. But when there is a more communal attitude and lifestyle, any burden on the individual is lessened.

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*’Stay at home mum’ is such a silly phrase. Implying that all I do is stay at home, when really what I do is take care of my child instead of paying someone else to look after him. Quite aside from all the other things I do, like run a business.

**I could never fathom why they are called coffee groups. Do we sit around talking about coffee? No! So let’s call it a mothers group, or baby group. Sigh.

***Yet another strange phase associated with parenting. All babies are good. To imply otherwise is just plain wrong. I guess when people say ‘is he a good baby?’ they mean: ‘does he sleep well, does he do what his mother wants, does he cry very much?’. Yes, he sleeps well, he does exactly what he wants and sometimes it coincides with what I want, and no, he doesn’t cry very much.