Wednesday, April 27

Sunshine
When the sun is shining, like today, I want to put on a floaty dress and walk barefoot through a field of sunflowers.

Tuesday, April 26

Ethical Living
I loved Leo Hickman's Ethical Living experiment in The Guardian last year.

He invited people to send in their tips and comments, and I loved this letter from a lady called Loppy - what a lovely name. What a top bird.

"I live in a council house in Swansea. My grownup kids have left home now. I was retired from social services in Salisbury, and before that used to work with adults with learning difficulties and for Quaker Peace & Service in Dorset in the 80s. That's the first thing: try to do an ethical job. For students and graduates, People & Planet have an ethical jobs service.

"Most people like me tend to hoard stuff because they hate to chuck things. This means you have lots of weird bits and pieces to play with. My boyfriend and I constructed a wonderful 'bullshit detector' out of bits of old vacuum cleaner, phone, alarm clocks and torch pieces to point at Fairford Airbase and emit noise of bullshit detected. You can have fun.

"Nearly everything can be repaired or recycled if you try. Otherwise it can be given to charity to sell, use or recycle. Mend your clothes, and have things like videos repaired. Buy second hand or recycled. When my kids were little I made some of their clothes out of old things of mine, as well as a lovely patchwork blanket from old dresses. You can buy clothes, china, cooking equipment, books, furniture and suchlike from charity shops and car boot sales. I've had nice stuff out of skips. Charity shops and charity/craft sales are good for Christmas presents and cards. Buy Fairtrade and organic. The Co-op is fairly ethical, as are local markets.

"Look after the birds. I seem to have increased my sparrow population (they are endangered) and also had bluetits nesting in a nest box this year. Feed them and give them water: they are such entertainment. Don't cut hedges till nesting has finished. Keep lots of untidy garden bits for wildlife. Let things go to seed for birds and animals to eat.

"Murder slugs with a torch at night: putting out pellets kills hedgehogs & birds who eat them. I have just rung Unit(e) to change to greener electricity. If I was like my boyfriend I would live in a dome or tipi & have no electricity, but I like houses. If I was rich and not on incapacity benefit I would have a house converted to alternative energy rather than a council house ...

"I belong to The Phone Coop, which is a cooperative, and they donate money to the people who advertised them. I filled in a form in either Amnesty, Peace News, Green World or Ethical Consumer, one of them is getting the dosh. Sadly, being green doesn't improve a menopausal memory ...

"I belong to Henry Doubleday Society and their seed library. You pay to be a member and receive a few rare seeds each year, then grow and save the seeds to sow the next. I swap the excess with others. Even if you only have a windowsill you can grow tomatoes with heavenly flavours: brilliant ones include Tomato Broad Ripple Yellow Currant, tiny yellow tomatoes that kids love. I grow my own garlic, sweetcorn, chillis ... You can feed stuff with foul mixtures you make for free yourself. If you put comfrey and nettles in a bucket with water and cover it, it makes a good tomato feed (although it stinks!). You can grow lovely pumpkins in your compost bins when they are full of compost.

"Use rechargeable batteries. I have a solar recharger which I bung in the window. The wind-up solar radios are good. My boyfriend has one which is an alarm clock and torch as well - no electricity at all!

"Use the library. Read and learn. I'm just finishing my Open University degree: not bad for a woman who was asked to leave her crap secondary school.

"Use shopping bags and refuse carriers. If the buggers still come in your house, line bins with them or recycle them back to shops or to charity shops. You can buy ethical washing powder, toothpaste, loo cleaner- look in ethical consumer magazines. You don't need makeup.

"In the past I have made jam, marmalade, pickles and orange and lemon squash. I didn't want my kids full of E numbers.

"Use envelope labels to reuse envelopes. Make cards. When I was very poor I used to make my own Christmas crackers ... bought the cracker bit, used looroll inners, crepe paper and bought little things to go in.

"Get involved in things like CND, Amnesty, the Green Party, etc. Write to your MP, use what's left of our democracy. Protest. Join the Amnesty Greeting Cards Campaign and write to prisoners of conscience.

"Cook, and teach your kids to. If you are poor you can use old wartime recipes: they are cheap, as are vegetarian Indian recipes. Try Madhur Jaffrey's Eastern Vegetarian Cookery - gorgeous recipes made with really cheap ingredients.

"Use water butts. I often siphon my bath water on the garden. I wanted a water meter, but the council said I would have to pay £99 to have one put in and then pay to have it taken out if I moved. I'm thinking about it.

"Don't buy things made by slaves, such as trainers by firms who pay nothing to the women who work locked into factories with no breaks. Investigate the origins of everything.

"Try your best - it's often a case juggling your situations and what you can afford, although even on very low income we are never as poor as people in the developing world.

"I try not to use heating until October and not use the phone until after six. Being economical means I have more money for ethical stuff.

"Be kind and local. When I moved to a house in Dorset, an elderly lady left a bunch of flowers on the doorstep with 'welcome from number...'. When I was in Salisbury and had a small operation, a neighbour sent dinner over. Look out for old people and kids. Water plants and feed cats for neighbours on holiday. Welcome asylum seekers. Stand up for them. Learn first aid. Be useful.

"Do you remember the Water Babies? Mrs Do as you would be done by? That's ethical living and worth trying, instead of all this eye for an eye crap that Bush and Sharon indulge in.

I bet you already know how to use low-energy light bulbs ...

Loppy Garrard"

Monday, April 11

I've got it!
I've found the thing that I'm going to become brilliant at - I'm going to grow giant vegetables.

Thursday, April 7

It been a long time...
Gosh, I'm rubbish.

Actually, I was thinking the other day how I am rubbish, because I'm not really good at anything. I'm OK at lots of things - like cooking and chatting and painting and patting bunnies - but I'm not really good at any one thing.

Which is quite sad. I am very average. I want to be a genius.

Must add that to my 'to-do in life' list: Become god-like genius at one thing.

What could it be though? Music's out (tone deaf), so's sport (co-ordinationally challenged), science (too boring), academia (head too normally-shaped), philanthropy (too scared of snakes to go to anywhere with poor people - unless you count Merthyr).

Will have a think of a genius-outlet over the next few days.