Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bye Sue

My lovely aunt, Sue, my mother's brother's ex-wife, died this month. She killed herself, having suffered from depression for a number of years. An awful, awful thing ... I just do not understand it. I hadn't seen Sue in recent years; the Sue I remember was high energy, always laughing; I had such fun with her. Every time I saw Sue, which was usually on summer holidays in Nelson, she had a new joke. The last time I saw her, she told me I was a "twearly". According to Sue, we are all either "twearlies" - arriving too early for everything - or "t'lates", who arrive late. She herself was a definite t'late, so I think she would have laughed at my mother and me arriving at the funeral home after the end of her funeral service. Our flight from Wellington had been delayed due to an unidentified smell of smoke in the plane! http://planetsmilies.net/sad-smiley-408.gif

The photo was taken at Geoff's and my wedding; Sue is the shorty in front.

I met an interesting person at the after-the-funeral gathering: Kevin Graham, the husband of one of Sue's cousin's, who runs a new business, FriendlyPak, making cornstarch bags among other things - compostable alternatives to plastic bags. Mum and I drilled the poor guy for details. The possibilities are exciting ... one of the obstacles to Councils collecting household green waste separately from other household rubbish so that it can be composted rather than dumped in landfills, is that the bins would quickly become revolting ... but they wouldn't if they were lined with compostable bags! Christchurch City Council, always a step ahead of the rest, is apparently currently looking into green waste collection.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Labour Weekend

Josiah went on an overnight tramp with Boys Brigade over Labour Weekend. Tessa decided she wanted to go on a tramp too, just her and Geoff, so I had a peaceful night to myself. I dropped Tessa and Geoff off at Catchpool in Rimutaka Forest Park on Sunday afternoon, a stunning spring day. As I was there, in such beautiful surroundings, I took the chance to jog the Five Mile Loop track. It was lovely, starting off through beach forest and returning through a mix of podocarps and Nikau palms. There were quite a few people but it was quiet enough for birdsong to dominate - I guess we were all gratefully drinking in the fantastic day after the foul weather we've been having. Back to rain and gales again by Tuesday :(

I read somewhere the suggestion to use fountain pens rather than biros because biros are one source of the plastic that ends up in landfills. Great excuse to buy a nice pen ;) So I bought a cheap pen on Trade Me. It fills straight from a jar of liquid ink - no plastic refills. It's lovely to write with and I just like the look and feel of it. I keep finding excuses to write just so I can use my cool new pen (shallow, I know). Reminds me of my dad: he had a fountain pen that had to be filled from a jar of ink. Tessa wants one now too so we're keeping an eye on Trade Me for another cheap fountain pen with its own refilling mechanism.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In defence of native plants

My local paper, The Hutt News, recently asked readers what plants they would like to see in the new plantings our Council is planning. Several people wrote in immediately suggesting a range of New Zealand natives. These letters were followed by responses abusing native plants as unsuitable for city plantings. http://planetsmilies.net/sad-smiley-344.gif I just posted in this letter in defense of natives:

Some recent correspondents object to native plantings on various grounds:

  1. Because natives are boringly green. Natives can provide variety of colour: bright yellow Kowhai, orange Coprosma berries, crimson leaves of Horopito, large white flowers of native Clematis, purple Mahoe berries, dark pink curled clusters of Rewarewa flowers, purple and pink Hebe, scarlet Rata, to name a few.

  2. Because natives are evergreen, creating unwanted shade in winter. There are a few deciduous natives, notably Fuchsia and Kowhai. Presumably these provide summer shade and let through winter sun as well as any deciduous tree.

  3. Because natives seed in neighbouring gardens. My natives have begun to seed in my garden so I presume they also seed in my neighbours' gardens. But then, my neighbours' exotic plants seed prolifically in my garden. Usually, this is a bonus: a source of free plants! When not, I pull them out.

Some New Zealand natives are now endangered. I hope Councils will continue to plant natives ... there is such a variety that I would think there is a suitable native for almost any purpose, whether what is wanted is shade, colour, to attract birds, fragrance, erosion prevention, or just a drop of nature in a city environment.

When I wrote that natives can provide fragrance, I was thinking of Lemonwood. Our largest Lemonwood is currently flowering for the first time. I never knew that their flowers have such a strong scent; it is as lovely as Frangipani or Freesias.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Baking Soda Shampoo

Well, I've made the switch from normal shampoo to baking soda. It really does get hair clean - interesting. After each of the first couple of washes, my hair was flat, except for on top, where it sort of stuck up, and the ends, which were frizzy and bushy. Flat, sticking up, bushy: all three of the ways I get a Bad Hair Day occurring together; you can imagine my joy. I decided that the frizzy, bushy ends were caused by the hair being too dry so the third time I washed with baking soda I used a little conditioner afterwards. Sure enough that got rid of the frizziness and most of the bushiness; and my hair didn't seem so flat either. What's more, it wasn't sticking up at the back any longer - maybe that was nothing to do with the baking soda. So my next task is to find a recipe for an environmentally friendly conditioner I can make easily at home.

By the way, Geoff has made the switch too and hasn't reported any problems. He only has 5mm of hair though so if it was flat or frizzy, you wouldn't know.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


I came in from putting a load of washing on the other day, to find Josiah curled up reading on the couch. Glancing over to see what he was reading, expecting it to be one of the Artemis Fowl books, I had a quiet laugh: he was reading our Local Government Elections 2007 Instruction Booklet and Candidate Directory. Surfacing ten minutes or so later, Josiah came in search of me to tell me what he'd been reading and that he wasn't very impressed with it. About the mayoral candidates, Josiah complained, "They all say the same thing: 'We listen to you; we want to make the city better.'" Josiah says if he was running he would tell people what improvements he'd make because he'd want people to know what they were voting for when they voted for him.

A few of our local Council candidates feel the same way as Josiah: they have been up front about their priorities. Sadly for us voters, they are the minority; the rest spout meaningless platitudes ... which always include the word "vibrant" somewhere! Why is that? Sometimes you can get a hint of whether someone is right-leaning or left leaning depending on whether they say they want "growth" and "development" or they want "reasonable growth" and "reasonable development". The funniest are those who say there's been too much "talk" and not enough "action" but give no clue as to what actions they will carry out if elected.

I have found Council candidates to vote for: one who states clearly that public transport and protecting the environment are his priorities and another who opposes the sale of assets including Council owned housing and recreational facilities, seeing these assets as important to our well being. I'm at a loss as to what to do with my mayoral vote. All five candidates have voiced their support for the Cross Valley Link - a massive (and massively expensive) new road which would span the entire lower Hutt Valley. I'm appalled - I don't want to imply my support for new roading by voting for one of these candidates but I hate abstaining.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My footprint gets bigger

My attempts to keep my ecological footprint in check took a bit of a hammering on Monday when I opened our car boot in a Wellington gale. Out flew one of the cloth carry bags we keep in the back of the car for grocery shopping. It was full of cloth drawstring bags and plastic bags, which we kept in there for reuse when buying fruit and bulk bin items at the supermarket. The whole lot was a hundred metres down the road in two seconds :( I managed to retrieve the carry bag and two of the cloth drawstring bags. The rest were carried by the wind I don't know where.