Archive for September, 2008

Let sleeping dogs lie

A few days ago I got a cat bed via the Freecycle network which the cats (well, the boys) seem to love. Unfortunately, judging from this photo, I think the cats have been ousted…

Snipe and Midge - 23 September 2008

Snipe and Midge - 23 September 2008

At least they don’t mind sharing!

I miss The West Wing too

Loads of people have blogged this but I saw it most recently at Rullsenberg Rules, so she gets the hat-tip.

My favourite bits:

OBAMA: I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET: I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA: Why not?

BARTLET: I’m supporting McCain.

OBAMA: Why?

BARTLET: He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.

and:

OBAMA: I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET: Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA: Which was?

BARTLET: A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.

OBAMA: And?

BARTLET: I was.

OBAMA: I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET: I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

Read the rest here:- Aaron Sorkin Conjures a Meeting of Obama and Bartlet

What I’ve Learnt This Week

Freshly cut brambles don’t burn – but if you leave them to dry for a few days and then light some kindling, you’ll have to stand back in a hurry lest you lose your eyebrows.

Leaving your phone switched on in a no-signal area drains your battery.

Some pigs like cabbage and sprouts. Others won’t touch them.

You can recycle (ie re-use for a totally different purpose) almost anything with excellent results. All it requires is some imagination.

The value of friendship and the benefits of laughing at nothing.

Re-entering the political debate

I’ve been added to the Bloggers4Labour blogroll and I thought that to celebrate, I should write a post about politics. But what? The “he said, she said” of the party political silly season bores me to tears, I no longer care (correction, I never cared) if Cameron wears flip flops and Brown wears a suit and Clegg… The honest truth? I couldn’t tell you anything about Clegg other than the fact that he’s the Lib Dem leader. I know not what he looks like, or even one identifying feature, such as hair colour.

In other words, I’ve slipped out of the political field and if I’m honest, I’m happy with that. I know there are some great minds out there who really are the next generation. And I know that if they are in the right place at the right time, they will achieve many great things. And that comforts me.

But, for now, what do I think?

Well, I know one thing. I’m all for a leadership challenge. I didn’t want Brown to take over after Blair but had there been a proper contest, a real debate about our ideals and the direction we should be taking as a party and as a party of government, then people might feel differently. But Brown’s single biggest mistake (other than not challenging Blair way back in the 90s) was to sit back and accept a coronation. People that I would never have described as Brownites were backing him, so a leadership contest wouldn’t have been an issue. He would have walked it. But, as always, the powers that be backed away from such a debate and I think that’s one of the reasons that Brown’s in the shit today. To me, it feels like yet another “top down” party dictate and the end result is that while I want Labour to win the next election, I don’t think we will. Contrarily, however, I cannot sum up even on drop of motivation to get involved because I simply cannot defend Brown on the doorstep.

“What’s he done for people like me?” is what I think I’d get asked and I simply don’t know what the answer is. Most of us are feeling the pinch big time now, the sums don’t add up. The cost of living has shot through the roof but wages haven’t and people are getting into serious financial shit that they can’t handle. I’m not saying this is Brown’s fault, but all I know is that some people are facing some very scary times that they may not get through intact, and it’s not good out here. As far as I can tell, if you’re not earning £25k, you’re screwed. How can I justify that? “Imagine what it would be like under the Tories”, ain’t gonna cut it.

So there you go. An incoherent mumbling about politics and Brown. I don’t do either. I never did the latter.

I can feel a feel brewing about housing, but I’ll save that for another time.

Thinking about veggies to grow

Tasting some of John’s home-grown veggies last night (plus the divine soup he made using them), combined with a rather in-depth planning / dreaming / chatting session with Jennie earlier today has made me start thinking quite seriously about my non-existent vegetable garden. Specifically, where it will go and what I will grow. Jennie’s talked me into a fruit cage (so long as she helps, makes jam and shares jam) but I really need to think about veggies.

I’ve done a fair amount of reading online and the one thing I’ve really learnt is that you should grow what you like to eat. It seems that’s the only thing that gets you through weeding.

So I’ve decided that my first task should be to draw up a list of the veggies things I like to eat. Here it is below, though you’ll note that it doesn’t include salady-type stuff that requires more than a hole in the ground to do anything other than rot. That’s another project. For now, I’m sticking to something that only involves me, a spade and some pig poo…

  • Artichokes
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Swede
  • Sweetcorn
  • Sweet potato
  • Turnip

I’m not convinced that this list is exhaustive and I’ve no doubt that any gaps will be filled but it’ll do for now. All that remains to do is sort them into their respective groups, decide when to plant them, prepare the ground, plant them, weed around them, feed them and then pick them and eat them. Sounds easy……………. not!

Where I want to be right now

The piglets have the right idea:-

Bubble and Wurly fast asleep - 20 September 2008

Bubble and Wurly fast asleep - 20 September 2008

Except I can’t curl up and fall asleep because (a) I’m being sneaky and haven’t given the pigs their breakfast yet (if you get into a routine, they never let you break it. Rough feeding times work better for me than a strict timetable. Of course, they’re all out on grass so they’re still able to graze. Just for the record! But they won’t be grazing. They’ll be asleep. Lucky bastards.) … and (b) I’ve got another five sacks of fruit and veg to sort out before the wasps discover it. Ho hum. But yay for freebies!

Me pig. Me show you how to eat watermelon…

This morning I finally got round to asking a local greengrocer if they’d let me have the fruit and veggies they can’t sell so that I can satisfy my pigs’ appetites. They seemed so pleased to be asked that I came away with five bulging sacks, containing everything from broccoli and sprouts to nectarines and grapes. From now on, I’m to pop round first thing and collect whatever they’ve put to one side. I hope it’s not five sacks every day, mind you – they’ll burst!

Not that the pigs would mind, judging by the way they more or less climbed into their food bowls to get every last scrap! The piglets even got some apple and banana all to themselves to go with their nuts. It was all demolished more or less instantly, so I’ll have to keep this up or they won’t talk to me!

But the funniest thing of all was watching Bailey try to eat his portion of the watermelon. I scraped out the middle and gave that to Tia, Scrumpy and Harold, gave quite a lot of the skin to the chickens, but kept the biggest pieces for Bailey and Brini. Brini was sensible and used her snout to hold the skin down while she ate the melon stuck to the inside. But Bailey threw his out of the bowl and the proceeded to chase it round the paddock, wondering all the while why he couldn’t get anything more than a tantalising taste of this scrumptious treat…

Bailey tries to eat a watermelon - 20 September 2008

Bailey tries to eat a watermelon - 20 September 2008

But then he figured it out and if you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see that he parked his trotter on the mischievous skin and was able to munch his way through it, without any interruptions. Clever pig!

Bailey finally manages to eat that pesky watermelon - 20 September 2008

Bailey finally manages to eat that pesky watermelon - 20 September 2008

You gotta love a pig who is so serious about his food!

Harry Potter joins the Labour party

Ok, maybe not, but in the real world, JK Rowling has actually donated one million pounds to the Labour party, saying that:

“The Labour government has reversed the long-term trend in child poverty, and is one of the leading EU countries in combating child poverty,” said the nation’s richest author, whose fortune was recently estimated at 560 million pounds.

“David Cameron’s promise of tax perks for the married, on the other hand, is reminiscent of the Conservative government I experienced as a lone parent.

“It sends the message that the Conservatives still believe a childless, dual-income, but married couple is more deserving of a financial pat on the head than those struggling, as I once was, to keep their families afloat in difficult times.”

There’s more here.

So, there you have it. Vote Labour. Hermione Granger said so and when is she ever wrong?!

Freecycle

I’ve recently discovered and therefore become a huge of Freecycle, a global network of small community groups who would rather give something away than throw it away – sticking to the old adage that one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. The only real rule about Freecycle is that everything must be free – you cannot charge for anything post onto the email list.

Freecycle

In the past couple of days, I’ve been the grateful recipient of a (free!) water butt and a (free!) solid wood bookcase. I’m hopefully picking up a “pyramid cat bed” tonight.

My only real criticism of the concept is that it’s all done using the internet and email lists, so the people who could really benefit from some a wealth of freebies are those who quite possible don’t have internet access.

But … it’s still an excellent concept and I’m fully intending to make good use of it!

My dog is a wuss

I own a sixteen-month old Labrador, Snipe, who I love dearly. She’s loyal, loving, good-natured, happy, friendly, affectionate, mostly obedient… I wouldn’t be without her.

Snipe - 7 June 2008

Snipe - 7 June 2008

However, we seem to have encountered a slight problem. Snipe has turned into quite the wuss. It’s alarming because Labs weren’t exactly bred for their delicate natures. When it comes to racing into the sea in the middle of January, Snipe’s the first one in, just what you would expect from a dog with her ancestry.

But … the other day, she got a thorn (or possibly a wasp stung her?) in her pad and you should have seen the fuss she made. It took me about half an hour to go from “why are you limping” to “there you go, there’s nothing left in there”. She rolled onto her back, she cried, she gnawed at her foot, she cried some more, she licked my arm, she cried, she tried to stand up but it hurt too much so she cried and rolled onto her back again… The way she was carrying on, it was as though she’d caught her leg in a trap. She slept the whole way home, then again at home and it was only when I chucked them both outside that she recovered – when I let them in again, she burst through the door in her usual style. All forgotten.

Then, yesterday, she did something to her eye. I don’t know what, she either banged it or got something in it, but it was swollen and she kept it firmly closed. Whenever I tried to open it, she actually rolled her eyeball backwards! And cried. And rolled onto her back. And cried some more. Obviously, because it was her eye, I didn’t take the piss and did what I could to help her (mainly bathing it in cold tea). Eventually, she peeked it open and I checked to make sure she could actually see out of it. Again, she made a huge fuss so it was impossible to tell if she was genuinely in pain – or if she was just being a wuss. Again.

So I let her be overnight and it seemed much better this morning. Right now it’s all back to normal, with only the slightest swelling, so phew!

But yes, it is sadly true. My dog is a wuss!