Friday, 23 September 2011

Day of equal night

Today is the autumnal equinox* - the halfway point between the summer and winter solstices. Night and day are of exactly equal length, and the sun set due west this evening. We won't be seeing this much daylight again until 20 March 2012... sorry. In fact, it's all downhill from here until 22 December.

I think the only sensible course of action is to throw yourself enthusiastically into the process of snuggling down for the winter. You might do a bit of knitting (with real wool), make sure all your quilts and blankets and jumpers and thermals are clean and ready for action, fix your draughty windows, and enjoy some warming seasonal foods. All of that, and get outside whenever the sun shows itself - or even if it doesn't.

*: Assuming the Blogger stats are not a total fabrication (and this week the stats say that at least two readers have come to my blog via a baseball cap shop in Indianapolis, so they might well be), some of you are probably in the southern hemisphere. Hello, Brazilians, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans! Of course it's your spring (or vernal) equinox today. Have a lovely summer and come back to read this miserable message in six months' time!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Make do & mend

Before I get onto the mending, a few thoughts following on from my previous post:

How disappointing that over 100,000 people saw fit to petition the government to take away state benefits from anyone involved in the rioting. To me that's probably more indicative of something deeply wrong with our society than anything else that went on [there were of course some really horrendous crimes - including murder - committed during the looting, but only by a handful of individuals, so I don't see those as representative of society]. If you too thought those people were reactionary, judgmental, knee-jerky, small-minded, and unsympathetic on a profound level, you might like to put your name to this more constructive petition instead.

My faith in humanity was slightly restored by joining in with part of this march, although it was a shame that it was mostly the usual suspects present (the Socialist Worker lot who seem to think everything would be lovely if only we had a Labour govt again, plus a few old communists grumbling amongst themselves about the obvious flaws in that view). Still, even if the marchers weren't entirely representative of the population of the riot-affected areas, we did march directly through those areas instead of taking the usual Embankment-Piccadilly-Hyde Park Corner route. That meant we were seen (and stared at in bemusement) by the relevant people, not just tourists.

I found Naomi Klein's take on the riots and looting interesting and characteristically readable. The Howard League do extremely important work and I wish the government would take their well-researched advice and understand that political stunts that play with people's lives, like giving a five-month prison sentence to someone who received stolen shoes (yes, received), will do more harm than good. I found this article fascinating and it seems relevant as the 100,000 mean petition-signers are presumably the sort who think that poor people are poor because they're lazy. And Brené Brown's sweet TEDX talk also has some relevance, I think, because by closing youth centres and making university and even sixth form education unaffordable we surely give many young people the message that they don't deserve to be part of society.

* * *

OK, now the mending! A slightly more complex repair job than the last... Do you separate all your rubbish - not just your kitchen stuff - into recyclable and non-recyclable? We do. The recycling basket that we have in the living room was disintegrating.
 So I cut off the broken edge, leaving some of the upright bits sticking out.

I soaked those ends for a while (by standing the whole thing upside-down in a few centimetres of water in the bath) to soften them, folded them down inside, and roughly stitched them down with some embroidery thread. As it would be hidden, I used a colour that I don't particularly like, rather than wasting something I might want to use on another project.

Then I cut a strip from an old t-shirt (and I mean old - a London Mini Marathon freebie from 1994 which has also seen service as a painting overall), folded it in half along its length, and roughly stitched it over the edge of the basket all the way around.

To finish it off, I cut a strip from some old linen trousers (not quite as old as the t-shirt, but not far off). I folded that like bias binding. Because I was bored, waiting for the soaked edge of the basket to dry out completely before adding the linen edge, I did some simple embroidery on it. Boyfriend says our home is too beige so I went for bright green and two pinks. It's meant to look sort of wonky, OK? Then I stitched it onto the basket (neatly this time).
It may well have taken me longer to shop for a new one, especially as I'd have been looking for a fairly traded one that I could be sure wasn't woven by child slaves (if you need a new basket and have similar criteria, try here). Old basket + old t-shirt + old trousers + someone's unwanted embroidery threads (Ebay) = new basket.
All finished and back in action. Mend and make do to save buying new...