the garage sale

All summer, as I went through the house room by room, cupboard by cupboard, this corner was full of a growing pile of stuff for a garage sale.

It grew and grew and sat there in the corner – reminding me to keep clearing out and to try not to accumulate so much in the future.

Sometimes I would put things on the pile, and then take them off again. Usually I returned them to the pile. The strings of attachment – tugging, twanging.

On Saturday we had the garage sale. The finale for the summer of decluttering.

We sold heaps and made just over $300. Given the most expensive thing was $30 and most things were priced at $1, this might give you some idea of how much stuff we got rid of.

Without wanting to sound ungrateful to the people who came along and bought our stuff, lining our pockets…some of them were very eccentric! Firstly, we had people door-knocking the night before – wanting to get a first look. We politely told them to come back in the morning.

Then in the morning, although we advertised the garage sale as starting at 8am, people starting arrive just after 7 and many of them stood, in the fairly brisk windy weather, at the gate while we set up, waiting and calling out to us to let them in. Now, that’s keen.

There were the two women who had a physical fight over a rusting enamel jug, whacking me in the chest in the process, because I got in their way.

There were the record collecting people – who were all great, actually, but quirky as anything. Especially the older guys who reminded me very much of Harvey Pekar, in his comic strips about collecting ‘sides’.

There were the hard-core hagglers, who pick up five things costing a dollar and say – ‘Would you take $2? How about $3?’

But like I say – we are grateful they came! And spent their hard-earned money on our unwanted possessions.

I sold a lot of my records. It was a big decision to sell my records and I thought I would feel quite pained to see them go, but the morning was mostly pain-free – the only pang I felt was when someone bought my Velvet Underground record. Pang! Pang! Bye, bye iconic Andy Warhol banana. Then off it went down the driveway and I was $5 richer.

Now the corner, which had started to ressemble the trash-heap from Fraggle Rock is clean and clear and empty. I mopped the floor and placed this chair in the corner and a deep sense of peace came over me.

All around the city are people pleased as punch with their bargains while here at my house, I am happy about my empty corner, my lightened load.





How Green Are My Wellies?

Back between 2004-2008 when I was first blogging – I had a notion to take some of my blog posts which were about sustainability, gardening, thrifty living and put them together, expand on them and write a book. I didn’t, of course, and in retrospect am kind of glad because there has been a positive deluge of such books onto the market in recent years – many of which are far superior to anything I would have done!

This book, ‘How Green Are My Wellies?’ by Anna Shepard came out in 2008 – and my friend Sarah emailed me a link saying ‘Someone’s written the book you should have written!’ – when I saw the lovely cover of this book, I could see what she meant.

It took my four years to get around to reading this book – because I had this irrational association between it and my unfulfilled plans and thwarted intentions – I’m neurotic like that….but I got over it, got it out of the library, just finished it and it’s great.

What sets it out from the manifold other ‘how to live greener’ books, is that Anna Shepard has a very engaging, funny voice in her writing. The book is not a finger-wagging ‘do this now’ kind of book. Her tone throughout is one of light-heartedness and adventure. The best ‘green’ books get people inspired by showing what an adventure green-living can be, how it isn’t about guilt and suffering but enrichment and engagement. This book achieves that with Shepards wonderful witty anecdotes and humour.

The book is divided up into months of the year, and she goes through the relevant seasonal ideas and hints. There are all kinds of interesting tips and asides and resources. Also funny throughout the book are her stories about her long-suffering, not-especially-green partner and her slightly dotty but very green mother. I also like the way she admits her failing and flailings and doesn’t pretend to be perfect – she calls herself ‘the eco worrier’ rather than ‘eco-warrior’.

By the time I finished the book, I had learned a lot, resolved to do better, laughed a lot and also, felt like I’d read a warm-hearted memoir, rather than just another green ‘how-to’ manual.

I never did write the green book of my imaginings, but luckily Anna Shepard did! This is a stand-out specimen of the very full ‘green-living’ book market.

(I read a lot of these eco/green/sustainability/frugal living books. If you are interested in hearing about them, I will continue to review them. Let me know in the comments.)



beets and pieces

First some writing news – Fourth Floor Literary Journal is up and I have two poems in it! Yay! You can read them HERE.

Back HERE I mentioned my friend Helen wrote an essay about ‘Taking Care’ (killing) ‘Of Animals’. It’s also in 4th Floor. It is a funny, chilling read – you can read it HERE.


I continue to be tired. It’s like when you’re on a Merry-Go-Round and you jump off and you have to run so you don’t fall over and then you feel a bit dizzy and woozy until you get your balance back. That’s me right now.


Back HERE when I was cooking the beetroots, I mentioned that the liquid makes a great vegetable dye (the vinegar in it acts as the ‘fixer’.)

After we ate the beets, I had some beautiful hand-spun wool that a friend had given me, but it was in pastel colours. I prefer stronger colours so I dyed it with the beet juice. Here is how it turned out:

(I realise this would be more meaningful if I had remembered to take a ‘before’ shot, but I am a human, not Martha Stewart – lol. The top wool was blue and lemon and the bottom was pale apricot. You’ll just have to visualise it.)

What am I going to use the wool for? No idea. Back into the stash cupboard it goes for now.


unexciting gluts

Sometimes I end up with an unexciting glut in the garden. Recently it was silverbeet.

A silverbeet glut is not like a tomato glut, or an apple glut – where your friends will get excited and happily take bagsful off your hands or you can make bulk delicious things like ketchup and apple sauce.

I tried giving away some of my silverbeet and got either screwed-up faces or ‘No thanks, I’ve got lots of my own in the garden.’

Poor old silverbeet.

While it does freeze well – in the Manawatu I can grow silverbeet twelve months of the year, so I didn’t feel especially motivated to freeze what I know I will have on hand fresh. However, if you live somewhere with a snowy winter – there is an excellent photo-tutorial of how to prepare greens for freezing over on TEND BLOG HERE.

I am, however, thrifty to the core and wasn’t going to let it go to waste – so I picked it all. It was a green supermarket bag absolutely chocka. Once cooked down, it was about twelve cups. That’s a lot of silverbeet.

I love silverbeet, but it does have a strong iron flavour – so I thought, right, I’ll do something with it which will temper the iron flavour.

I made a huge mixture of egg, strong cheese, fried onions, chopped olives and chopped sundried tomatoes – I figured the cheese and olives would be a good accompaniment to the strong flavour of the silverbeet. Then I made pies. And pies. And some more pies.

I made four full sized pies and two dozen mini-pies. We ate one that day, and the rest I wrapped and  froze. The mini-pies have been great for taking to work for lunches.

& that is the story of the great silverbeet glut of ’11.