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Showing posts from 2020

Face maks that didn't hurt those who made them

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In New Zealand we're now required to wear face coverings on public transport, and they're also recommended in many other contexts.  Many people are turning to reusable masks in an effort to reduce their waste footprint, but cotton fabric often has a pretty hideous human cruelty footprint.  Which masks are most likely to be good for the workers?  I'm after masks that:
have supply chains free of child and slave labour;are made by folk earning a living wage, working in safe conditions etc.;didn't involve polluting the local environment where they were made.Handily, every year Tearfund puts out the Ethical Fashion Guide, which ranks common clothing brands on these kinds of ethical issues.  This year's guide isn't out yet, but many brands that ranked highly in 2019 are making masks.
Before I go to them, a quick note on hand-made masks.  Many of the worker rights and environmental issues associated with clothing occur long before clothes are made.  Forced labour is com…

A fun day in lockdown

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After a string of pretty tired days, today has been lovely :-)It started with sourdough biscuits and gravy for breakfast (biscuits in the American sense, and the sourdough made using the pulp left over from making soy milk).
Then I went back to bed for a few hours' rest, before getting into swimming clothes, borrowing Sarah's electric bike and heading to Blockhouse Bay beach.

The electric bike was so easy!  I whizzed up the hills - vastly less work than the regular bike, and less hassle than the bus.  I won't be making this my standard way to get to Blockhouse Bay, but it's nice to have it as an option for tireder days like today :-)Here's a diagram I did earlier of roughly where I swim.  This time I took the bike all the way down to the start rather than leaving the bike at the top of the hill (which I do to avoid having to bike up a super-steep hill straight after swimming), so today was mostly just a swim, rather than the usual bike/walk/swim triathlon.
t A very ha…

Abiding in God

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As I said earlier, I've been lower in energy since our holiday in mid-June - although the reduced energy is carrying on so long it may be simply because of winter, rather than the holiday.  The last 2-3 weeks, though, I've been much less frustrated about it all - I've been mostly content, albeit punctuated with the odd patches of extreme panic!

One thing that has made a huge difference is a 'breath prayer' I've been praying.  If I wake in the middle of the night and can't sleep, I start saying "You are the true vine, help me to rest in You."  If I find myself fretting during the day, I do the same.  God has used this to really transform my attitude :-)

Holiday in Te Aroha and Auckland

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A few weeks back, Martin had two weeks off.  We spent the first week staying with his Aunty and Uncle in Te Aroha.  They borrowed bikes for us to use down there and, on Martin's birthday, we rode from Waikino to Paeroa (through the Karangahake Gorge) on the Hauraki Rail Trail.  It was about 14km, broadly downhill, and we meandered through it over about 2.5 hours.












Back in Te Aroha, I made Martin a cake for his birthday (although not on his actual birthday - I wasn't up for extra activities after the long bike ride!).  A German 'black and white cake':



Mike and Elspeth have a lovely house.  This time I was particularly enjoying these succulents growing by the steps in their back garden.


Moving to Level 2

I have found the transition to Covid-19 alert level 2 surprisingly difficult.  At least, I think that's what it is!  Today and yesterday I seem to have been getting upset uncommonly easy.

I found the move to having an alert system and rapidly moving through levels 2, 3 and into 4 not too bad.  It took adjustment to have Martin and Sarah at home all the time.  I'm used to being on my own a lot and found that quite overwhelming initially.  But we have a large house where all three of us can easily be fairly separate, and after a week or so that became much less of an issue.

Survival strategies

Over the course of the last six months or so, I've put into place a number of survival strategies that have helped me cope with the big change in my life.  I wrote earlier about Sabbath-keeping and care-casting.  Since then I've added two other practises that have also been super-helpful.

Lockdown adventures

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Like everyone else, over the past 6 weeks or so that we've been in lockdown I've had very few face to face interactions with other people and none, other than with Martin and Sarah, at a close distance.  It's a very curious time.

I've been thinking about many things over this time - and have been coping more and less well at different points in time! - but here I want to write about  the non-work things we've been able to do even though many options have been taken away.

A lovely trip to the beach

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Martin and I are trying to stay within 2-3km of home (as the crow flies) at the moment due to the Covid-19 lockdown situation.  That rules out both my usual beaches - but Martin noticed there was another one!  At the base of the Pt. Chevalier peninsula is a tiny park called Eric Armishaw Park - and from there you can walk along the coast of the peninsula at low tide.

Today I biked there (3.3km) and walked 20 min along the beach, which took me as far the as the sailing club's boat ramp.

It was lovely!  Such a classic Kiwi beach :-)










The ground underfoot all the way was a bit muddy.  I'd been being super-careful, as we're supposed to be avoiding contact with emergency services right now if possible.  So I'd walked on the shells where possible and the soft mud where it wasn't (the hard muddy surfaces were by far the slippery-est).  But, after walking up the steps to the sailing club and having a wander around, I (foolishly) decided to walk down their boat ramp without …

Recent happenings

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A couple of weeks back, Martin and I spent a week in Whangarei. 

Kawakawa berries

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Ages ago, a foraging blog I used to read taught me that kawakawa plants, not only produce leaves that make yummy tea: the plants come in male and female variants, and the females produce delicious berries.

I haven't managed to find anyone who sells 'sexed' kawakawa seedlings, but a few years back I did find someone selling lots of 8 seedlings very affordably.  So I bought them, and planted four each on either side of the oak tree.  My hope was that there would end up being at least one male on one side and at least one female on the other: when they revealed themselves, I would kill the rest :-)

Unfortunately, it initially appeared they were all male.  For some years now we have had many male cones appearing on both sides of the tree.  The seedlings are also all now large plants that are thoroughly intertwined: uprooting unwanted ones (without disturbing the others) is no longer an option.

Then, maybe a month back, I noticed one 'zone' on one side of the tree was c…

What is good for 'the environment'?

Recently I've been pondering claims that various practises are good for 'the environment'.  I've come to the conclusion that such claims are often dicey - not because of 'greenwashing' (although that's real), but because there isn't, exactly, an 'environment'.  Instead, there's a whole bunch of systems, which often need quite different things to support them.  Sometimes the things different environmental systems would benefit from are even directly opposed to each other.

The place I see this most starkly is plastic packaging.

Old T-shirts for Christmas

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Martin and I are both fairly hard on our T-shirts (and wear T-shirts a lot), so I have a ready supply of old T-shirts for crafts.  Originally I was using them to make rag rugs (there's one about half-way down this blog post); but most people I think are likely to want one of those have one now, so before Christmas I was looking for new ideas.  Here's what I ended up with :-)

T-shirt pompoms.  Like regular pompoms, but bigger.  You cut the T-shirt into quite narrow strips, pull the strips to make them curl in on themselves, then make a pompom (something I don't think I've done since primary school!).  It takes about one T-shirt per pompom.




I also learned how to make these little storage bowls.  They're quite thick and I think the same technique would be great for hot mats.



Martin gets a cold head at night and has long slept in a balaclava.  As part of his Christmas present he got two new balaclavas (winter and summer weight), both made out of old T-shirts.  Here he i…