Archive for March 1, 2008

Boring and conventional

Yes, I’ve been terribly boring and conventional this week. Wittering into the ether has taken a back seat to work and socialising. Tut tut. Saw friends from my gap year last weekend, went to the theatre with a friend from uni, went to London for work on Wednesday (and got back depressingly late, I don’t understand how people can do that every day) and went to my old choir’s concert on Thursday, missed the last train and ended up stranded in Oxford overnight. Busy, busy – I feel exhausted, but also quite exhilarated.

I’ve finished my skirt, which fits! Yay!! There was a bit of kerfuffle with the machine, and I had to be helped a lot with the fiddly finishing bits at the end, but, yay, I have an item of clothing which I more-or-less made myself from a pattern I more-or-less designed myself and I’ve used a sewing machine for the first time. And survived. I’m going to try and make this dress and jacket next. It looks rather complicated – I opened up the envelope and promptly found myself swimming in bits of tissue paper, and I have no idea how to put them together into something vaguely resembling an item of clothing – but I can have private tuition for only slightly more than the cost of a class, and being one-to-one it would be much better value too.

Photos of finished skirt to follow when I’m feeling less lazy and can be bothered to find the cable.

The chilli plant is thriving on the windowsill, although the coriander has died, unsuprisingly. Bloddy plant. The parsley is doing well: the leaves have gone from indeterminate round ones into ones that look like parsley. (Again, I’ll post some photos when I’m not merging into the sofa.) The mint looked a bit peaky, so I took the scissors to the dead bits and gave it a good water, and it seems to have perked up (if I ever have a gardening problem that cannot be solved by more watering, less watering or cutting off dead-looking bits, I’ll be scuppered). I swapped some pea seeds for a veritable cornucopia of seeds from someone on SSish and will soon be experimenting with washing things using liquid from soap-wort. (Muahahaha, come peak oil, I will be the least smelly person in Berkshire!) I’m going to start varnishing the wine boxes for growing stuff in now it’s March, though I’ll need a few rain-free days.

I’ve read Heat by George Monbiot and found it mostly inspiring. He does a good job of pointing out the inefficiencies in the system: how shockingly insulated most of our houses are, how much carbon could be saved even by supermarkets delivering everyone’s food instead of people buying it themselves (without even changing farming practices, so think what could be accomplished there over and above the transport! what if we all had organic mixed farms that delivered meat and veg in their local areas?!), how easily the transport system could be improved. He also does not shy away from confronting some of the attitudes that have got us into this mess in the first place and that are stopping us getting out; there’s a wonderful passage about how we don’t think about Bangladesh being underwater when we turn on our kettle or drive to work, but these things cost lives. I’ll copy it out next week. It sounds better when he says it. There’s also a tremendous analysis of the car=freedom mindset (which, as a smug non-driver, had me nodding in support), and he cites a report which reckons that 40% of the journeys we drive could be done on foot or public transport at the moment, 40% could be if sufficient adjustments were made to the transport infrastructure and only 20% are essential. Having grown up in a teeny village in Northumberland, I’m not sure I wholly agree (far more than 20% of my parents’ journeys are essential, although I suppose, again, food deliveries, public transport and lifestyle changes e.g. sending my brother to a state school with bus transport or home-educating him could help reduce that) as it’s very dependent on where you live – this is just the broad average figure the report came up with. I suppose if my parents have to drive more, we can drive less, but we have to use gas, and they can heat their house with wood, and grow more veg and keep chickens…

However, I don’t see how the effort required to fix these inefficiencies, the fact that we just have to accept we can’t fly any more and starting to walk everywhere or rely on centralised public transport or commercial deliveries isn’t a major cultural and/or personal change of the sort he claims in the introduction we won’t have to make because technology will save us and we can more or less keep our lifestyles….. Too much faith in renewables, too….

I’m currently reading The Revenge of Gaia and finding it impenetrable and depressing. I’ve defected to The Dice Man which is utter filth, but intellectual filth, so it’s okay. 😉 I will get through Lovelock, though.

I have a cunning plan for the FOE group, which I will share in due course.

Actually, reading back, I’m not sure I am so boring and conventional after all.

I might post some recipes later in the week along with the photos. We’ve been eating very well lately.


March 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm 2 comments

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March 2008
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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."