Thursday, August 30, 2012

No News Is Good News

If you're privy to what's been going on in NZ politics, and NZ in general, I expect you're doing an Amen right now. The news has been depressing, embarrassing, and infuriating; kindness, foresight, justice and sense seem very thin at the the moment, and the trend is being led from the people with the most power/the most seats in the beehive.

My news is that our last day in Otago was spent largely at Dunedin Hospital, where we had to go after a night of horrible abdominal pain. We thought I might have appendicitis; what we discovered is that I have company. Not pregnancy (sorry Salamander), but e-coli! I have a urinary tract infection that has gone to my kidneys, and I can tell you that it is not fun, and in spite of not requiring surgery as appendicitis would, it was also not good news. I'm on super-antibiotics now, so bring on the thrush!!! Awesome. Kidney pain is no joke, but itching and cottage cheese? Hil-arious.

There were times, such as when Vincent was having to dress me and fish around in the bed to find my feet, that I just had to laugh (although several times the laughing led to crying; it seems illness is a bit like being on acid sometimes). Life is a funny thing. Our first two days down South yielded the most amazing secondhand finds on short shopping trips; among other things, an English duffle coat, an Auckland-made fur coat (!!!!) (faux! I should add), and a real, vintage snakeskin clutch for my Mum's imminent birthday (shh please!). The next two days were spent on the road, exploring central Otago, watching histories of tiny towns in their information centres, eating pies, staying in Alexandra, exploring gullies where gold was found, and marvelling at incredible landscapes. Our last day was a bonus day, when we were just going to mooch around, have a fossick at a few more shops, and maybe visit a beach. But my body/life had other plans.

My news isn't quite everyday, but I still think this song, a favourite, applies. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hear Ye

The thing with less-used, less-advertised products, or more specifically, natural, eco-/body-friendly stuff, is that unless you've read a review on a specialised website or magazine, you really don't know what you're in for. I think it's partly why companies like eco-store do so well (not that they don't deserve to; more later); they manage against all odds to reach that tipping point where they become an option - a contender. We first started using eco-store washing powder after I read a review in Good magazine comparing eco-friedly laundry detergents, and it's all grown from there. I think it's been long enough to say whether or not these things have worked for us, so here is my round-up.

1. Sukin moisturiser and Sukin rose hip oil. My mother, along with her many virtues, is a bit of a straight-shooter; like the kind who goes for the jugular. "A bit hideous" is an oft used epithet in our family since she used it to describe an unfortunate lady (who, in my mother's defense, I should add was also ugly on the inside). Anyway, last Sunday, she told me my skin was glowing. Glowing. Granted, I had been using Olay for the last ten years because it's cheap, you can buy it from the supermarket, and it wasn't giving me zits or anything, and my skin had been looking a bit dull. Now, however, my skin now actually looks pretty, not just the freckled thing around my eyes and mouth, and it's because a month ago I started using Sukin (thank you for the recommendation, Salamander). Tick.

2. Ecostore washing powder. It's been months since we started using this, and I think it's great. I've had a strange passion for laundry for years; I think it began when my parents first got their Smart Drive, and I happened to be there when it was installed and the instructions given. My passion makes me a bit anal (but honestly, mixing tea-towels with bath-towels is disgusting), but I have no complaints about this stuff. It cleans everything beautifully, it smells good, and I'm pretty sure my skin's been happier since we switched. Tick.

3. I'm already sick of doing this, so everything else can be number three. Ecostore Dishwasher Tablets are good, but because the little bags they come in biodegrade in the dishwasher, you have to keep them dry or else the tablet will stick. (I suppose we could transfer them to a plastic container if we weren't so lazy.) The rinse aid works fine. Ecostore Multi-Purpose Cleaner requires a bit more elbow grease than Power Spray, but that makes me feel even better about using it; the ease associated with the latter makes me really nervous about what we ingested while we were using it. We've also bought the Bathroom Cleaner, but still haven't used it (everyone who came over last weekend will attest to this). Lastly, two weeks ago I started using The Herb Farm Natural Deodorant. I'm giving it and myself an adjustment period, but so far I'm not overly impressed with it. I'm going to work my way through all of the aluminium-free deodorants at The Cruelty Free Shop until I find one that works, and when I have, I'll let you know.

I'm sorry this ended up so boring. I haven't even told you about my mooncup yet, which I bought on Friday and hope to debut tomorrow, even though the size of it is kind of terrifying (but the ladies on the forums I looked up maintain there has been no permanent stretching; I find that hard to believe, but after fifty-five bucks I feel obliged to give it a try). This was supposed to make you want to finish up or give away all scary chemicals, and feel the smugness of using stuff that isn't hurting your body or the environment (while you stuff yourself with fluoro-coloured lollies and use mascara and lipstick like there's no tomorrow). And it wasn't supposed to sound so preachy, even though I did write the title before the rest. I guess I shouldn't have done it on a Sunday...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good To Me

There's a horrendous Avril Lavigne song (from when she decided to introduce stripper routines into her videos) that occasionally pops into my head. Thankfully I don't know the verses, but I do know the chorus which is embarrassingly bad but I can't hate it because of what is happening when it comes to mind. It was in my head this morning when my alarm went off at 7.20 (this is Saturday) because I had a work thing (for which I wouldn't be paid), and as I staggered grumpily out of bed, someone got up after me, even though they had nowhere they needed to be. The same someone made me a cup of tea and some breakfast while I was in the shower, and saw me off. Then while I was gone, the someone took all of the things that have been lying around the house needing to go to the City Mission or the dump (mostly mine), and took them where they needed to go so that when I got home, all that was on the red couch (which is usually the multi-coloured couch because of all the things I throw on it) were cushions (which look lovely when they're not piled up in one corner, obscured by coats and bras). The same someone is now at the supermarket buying pick & mix lollies from a list specifying each lolly, one of which only comes in a mixed bin so will require digging and sifting with the plastic shovel.

This person deserves better than Avril Lavigne. He also deserves better than a semi-rational, pre-menstrual smoking volcano. I don't deserve the little bowls of lollies that have just been presented to me in bed, or the person who presented them to me.

I'm so grateful that we don't always get what we deserve, but I hope that the sentiment of this song evens things up a bit for the someone.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lazy Blogging

1. It's been about a year since I first saw it, but I still love looking at Sunny Walker's Closet Visit, especially when I feel like my clothes are getting stale. Today after breakfast I passed a Red Cross with a dollar rack and bought some awesome/crazy velveteen pajama-type pants. It was a happy time.

2. I watched Dirty Dancing for the first time on Saturday. It's become apparent that although we watch about five movies a week, and the fact that I've watched about that for years, there is a gaping hole in my film experience, and that is the eighties. When I was little, I wasn't even allowed to watch kissing on tv (like, I was supposed to cover my eyes). Dirty Dancing?! Cocktail?! Not on my nelly. To remedy this, my lovely K and I have started an eighties' classic film catch-up club, and I'm very excited to be finally righting this wrong. Anyway, I already loved the songs, but now I am wanting to cut the bottom third off all of my tshirts, and have worn keds every day since I watched it. God knows what's going to happen after I watch Flashdance.

3. Some most excellent rules for bicycling for women from the New York World newspaper, 1895 (which I read in an old issue of Good today):
- Don't ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.
- Don't refuse assistance up a hill.
- Don't wear whit kid gloves. Silk is the thing.
And my favourite:
- Don't cultivate a "bicycle face".

Thursday, August 9, 2012


From here via Miss Moss

I don't know if it's because I don't eat enough carrots, or because I read with poor lighting, or that it's congenital, but whatever the cause, the old grey mare's eyes just ain't what they used to be, and while there are definite downsides, the old mare is excited, because that means GLASSES.

I was one of those kids who wanted braces because they thought they were cool. (My sense of cool has never been quite on the money. And I never did end up getting braces, even though one dentist said I should have.) When I think about it, I also wanted a hearing aid after buying an ancient picture book at a fair called The Girl With A Button In Her Ear (the book was so old that the hearing aid was one attached to a box, like a radio, where the girl adjusted volume. My sisters and I also had outdated encyclopedias to which I referred for all of my school projects, in spite of the fact that they included Rhodesia and probably maintained that the world is flat), but that was more because the hearing aid made her special, and would garner attention. I did many things for attention.

While I no longer want braces (and am so, so glad I never got them), I do want glasses; very, very much. To me, they're like an awesome haircut in that they transform everything from normal to deliberate. They seem mysterious. They frame one of the things I like best on faces.

I'm feeling a bit Veruca Salt-ish at the moment, but it feels like it's okay to want something that I actually need. I'm spending far too much time adding things to wishlists on various websites and contemplating the holes in my wardrobe and how much nicer a cream couch would look in our sitting room... but I don't want it all now. Soon will be fine! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Yesterday on my way to breakfast, I looked out the bus window in time to see a man reach into a bin and take out a discarded drink and polystyrene food container. I'd seen him approach it, and didn't think for a minute that he was about to do so; he looked like he didn't have a lot of money, but he looked like he had more than someone who might have to do that. It made me feel so sad, and worried. And then I thought about Walt Whitman.

I think I hate Walt Whitman. After my childish (morbid) fascination of We Are Seven wore off, I became pretty certain I hated William Wordsworth. But I have to admire what they tried to do; to bring attention to and demand recognition of the value of poor people. Sometimes their work reads patronising, but the intention is there, and there's a love, and a respect.

When I saw the man, I wasn't sure what to do. I was on my way to a cafe where I would sit in warmth with my friend, and eat a breakfast cooked especially for me. And while in the past I might have felt guilty about it, I didn't. I felt like breakfast with my friend is a justifiable expense, and that I try not to be wasteful with money, and that I give as much as I can. But that changes nothing for the man I saw.

I don't know if people realise how hard things are for others right now; others they probably see every day at work, or at the supermarket, or picking their kids up from school. It must hurt so much to be struggling, and then to feel as if no-one even sees you. Acknowledges what you do, and who you are.

I hope that by talking, something changes. That at least maybe someone feels like they are noticed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Unsung

On the way home from the Rodriguez movie yesterday, Vincent told me the story of Charles Bradley.

There are so many people who live good lives with their dreams unrealised. For every person who is remembered by millions are millions who aren't remembered by anyone, and I don't know why; why there just doesn't seem to be enough room for someone who has something they want to say. People talk about the democratisation of things like music through the internet, presupposing that everyone has access to the internet, and that the internet is somehow free of the constraints of commercialism. It makes me sad and afraid to think of what we are missing; the potential in countries in Africa where precious people are dying and dying, the political poets like Rodriguez whose voices are subject to record sales, and the kids in my city who won't get the choice of going to university or even knowing if they love things because there isn't money. It scares me to think of what might be wasting away in me, or which of the figs on my Bell Jar tree are shrivelling while I stand, stock-still, not knowing what to do while I do what I have to so that I can eat and pay for internet.

So there are millions; billions of people, walking around, living. Cooking. Building. Bringing up babies. These things have their own legacies, and use, and meaning. They are more interesting and valuable than a million things that are in the spotlight (72 hour marriages etc).  But we have so little time to say what we need to say in a lifetime, that sometimes only certain mediums will do; things that have to be said on-stage.

This is Charles Bradley's story. And this is his song. Finally sung.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Not The Usual, Mindless, Boring, Getting-To-Know-You Chit-Chat

It seems to be that so few people have something they just want to say, or do, without the primary intention of making money from it, that lots of people can't understand it when they do.

Creativity, political conscience, and a useful life. There are things that can't be measured in money, things that some people will never know, and things that are right and good as they are.