Elegant machines

singerA colleague said to me today “you’ve got a sewing machine haven’t you?” I explained that I have but it is about ninety years old. It is one of my most loved possessions. I bought it in a charity shop nearly fifteen years ago. It works perfectly and I use it fairly regularly. My mother has one a little bit younger which was given to her as a wedding present and  she has used it ever since. I remember being fascinated by the beautiful decorations and its elegant form as a child. Its elegance lies in both its form and function because it is powered only by the human hand. No electricity is needed to make it work and that is what I love most about it.  It is slow and steady and musical in its action. I hope to continue to use it for a very long time. I wonder why more human powered machines aren’t produced and why we’ve lost the thought and care that went into designing this beautiful object. Perhaps gray plastic will be treasured one day but I find it difficult to imagine.

My next project is to make a door curtain from this William Morris Golden Lilly fabric  I found in an antique shop. It seems fitting to me though I wonder if Mr Morris might have considered my  machine just a bit too modern. golden-lilly


How can I put this gently?

Lately I’ve found myself having to answer some rather awkward questions. I think it must be my age, being in my mid-thirties and not exactly conforming. I don’t think I’m particularly unconventional but then other people do seem to find me a bit of a puzzle. The difficult thing is, to explain my choices I kind of have to be critical of theirs. I’ve put together a list of stock answers that I should use and some that I should just think in my head.

When are you getting married?

Good:  We just don’t feel the need.

Bad: Our relationship is based on more than a legal/financial arrangement.

When are going to have children?

Good: I’m not ruling it out but I have no plans.

Bad: I prefer cats.

When are you going to learn to drive?

Good:  I’ve always managed quite well without a car and I enjoy cycling.

Bad:  I’m not going to stop cycling to make you feel better about yourself. Deal with it.

When are you going to move into a house?

Good: I enjoy city living, its convenient and we live  in a beautiful place.

Bad: What, a semi-detached mock Georgian shoe box on a new estate on the outskirts of a dying town? Never.

Is it fair that you work and pay all the bills?

Good: Yes, it’s what we’ve agreed.

Bad: Would you ask that if I was a man?

Haven’t you got any holidays planned?

Good: I enjoy my life all year round.

Bad: I don’t live for just two weeks a year on some boring beach resort, sorry that you do.

You’re thinking of adopting a dog, but you live in a flat?

Good:  Yes, we’ve done it before and she got lots of exercise and was very happy.

Bad: A garden is no substitute for proper walks and attention. You are lazy.

Why don’t you drink alcohol?

Good: I don’t like it.

Bad: Why do you drink, is it because you are miserable?

Can you eat that?

Good: I choose not to eat anything that harms animals.

Bad: I have principles not allergies.

Don’t you have a joint account?

Good: No, we have our own accounts.

Bad: I don’t share my knicker drawer either.

On anything to do with religion

Good: I’m not religious, this life is enough for me.

Bad: Just because you believe it doesn’t mean its true.





My favourite things

I am feeling utterly miserable and despondent about the events of the last couple of weeks. I am also tired of being advised to ‘move on’, ‘get over it’ and ‘be positive’. These are the things people say when guilt is gnawing at the edges of their conscience but they are too proud to admit they got something wrong so they look for approval rather than make an apology. I can see nothing positive about the outcome of the EU referendum. Economically it might not be a total disaster… but it is pretty bad so far. I am worried about what it will mean for animals, domestic and wild as well as for people, particularly the most vulnerable and those who find themselves the targets of new-found hate. symbolically, it is just very, very sad. I feel lonelier than ever as friends and family members I thought would know better chose to ignore facts. I am proud of those who tried, who applied sense and reason and who are now as bewildered as I am and wondering what, if anything we as individuals can do next.  I regret not trying harder, not being more vocal and being too easily intimidated. My faith in human nature was misplaced and that is the most crushing blow.

 I feel as though everything I hold dear has been shaken and now I must work harder than ever to get it back. The things I am clinging to may seem pathetic compared with the challenge we face, but just at present, they are all I’ve got.




Brexit – the Animals’ View — Animalista Untamed

From an animal rights perspective an independent Britain is worrying As the pound plummets, billions are wiped off the stock market, the PM resigns, the political parties are in disarray, Scotland looks to leave the UK, and Europe itself looks set to crumble, to many it might seem trivial to say “What about the animals?” […]

via Brexit – the Animals’ View — Animalista Untamed

“Always winter and never Christmas”

I would actually like it if this happened. I never understood why everyone disliked the Snow Queen so much, well apart from the fur wearing and I suppose turning people into stone isn’t very nice, but she did have turkish delight. The story gets a bit boring for me after the turkish delight.

I think I am trying to say I don’t much care for Christmas.  For a start I don’t believe in the Christian story any more than I believe in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Nor do I subscribe to any pre-christian religion though I can see why there has always been a festival at this time of year, however I do not feel the same need as my ancient ancestors to feast on pigs to try and persuade the sun to come back.

I really do like winter. I like being outside at this time of year, appreciating the low sunlight, the early darkness, seeing the night sky more often and the interesting weather. I have no desire tp be cooped up indoors suffocated by central heating, wearing a jolly jumper and eating stodgy food. Christmas, and every religious festival that preceded it at has been about shutting out the cold and dark because of fear and want. Science helps us understand the processes that make the seasons happen so we no longer need to fear them. Technology allows us to enjoy and appreciate them safely and comfortably.

I am proposing (for myself as I realise most people won’t like this) a new celebration of these dark days. I will fearlessly embrace the cold and dark, eat salad if I want to, wear elegent clothes and be content, not merry.

I will continue to give gifts and go to parties but on my own terms and I will dispense with the excess, waste and pressure that comes with Christmas. If all of this sounds terribly selfish, it is. Enjoy winter.


A new route and a new philosophy

I recently discovered a new cycle route for my commute to work, it takes me away from a horrible roundabout and busy road and accross a field, past some allotments and nice houses instead. For a long time I argued that cyclists need to keep using roads and that we all just need to learn to respect eachother. Then, a few weeks ago I and another cyclist had near miss with a car at the horrible roundabout. I decided then that this was no longer  a battle I wanted to fight and looked for a new route. As it happened there was a well designed and much more pleasant route waiting for me.

This experience has led me to look at some of the other battles I’ve been fighting lately. One of these was trying to save money. I don’t earn a lot but I have always believed this meant I just had to cut my cloth accordingly, literally sometimes by making my own clothes,  cooking from scratch and generally doing everything myself. I have come to realise that this is neither successful nor desirable. I simply do not have the time to do all of these things and also do anything productive to improve my situation. I have been getting by but going nowhere. This is not a modern way to live and it is an insult to the people who suffered and strove for all the modern comforts and freedoms that are available to us today.  As a woman I want to to fulfill my creative potential without being hampered by domestic demands and as a vegan I want to enjoy the convenience of modern living.  I also want to support others by buying and enjoying their products and creative offerings and promote this lifestyle and this economy to others. Spending all my time in the kitchen will not achieve this.  What I have been living is a micro version of our current government’s austerity plan. It does not work. It leads to stagnation not growth. I am going to take things a little bit easier from now on. I will spend my money consciously and carefully but I will not penny pinch. I will spend my time even more wisely.



I want to celebrate invetebrates

I want to celebrate invertebrates. I am writing this now because there is huge spider in my kitchen. I’m not all that frightened of spiders except when they suddenly appear from nowhere and I give a little squeal. I’m staying out of the kitchen because my cat will probably follow me in there and he might try to catch the spider and I don’t want than to happen. I would guide him outside but its raining and has been all day so I’ll just wait and let him find a safe place to hide  – the spider that is, not the cat. I often hear people complaining about spiders and telling me about the ways they like to kill them. I hear people talking about killing other invertebrates too, I don’t know why people think I want to hear this. Sometimes people express guilt for doing it but not enough to stop doing it.

Vertebrates are protected by laws in the UK. While this does not stop them from being slaughtered for various reasons it does mean that people can be prosecuted for acts of cruelty. It would be difficult to apply this to invertebrates because there are so many of them and they are so small that it can be hard avoid to harming them accidentally. What I find disturbing is the fact that so many people who would never harm a cat or dog will take pleasure in harming smaller creatures, often many at a time when they destroy ant and wasp nests. I have a wasp nest outside my back door. The wasps never come inside and have never bothered me, maybe they are afraid of the giant spider. By the autumn they will be gone and probably won’t come back.

I wonder what motivates people to kill small creatures. I understand fear, I used to be very frightened of crane flies but it never made me want to kill them. I think fear is used as an excuse, it is easy to kill small creatures, you won’t be prosecuted and they can’t fight back. It is also normalised by the many people who boast about it everyday and by the fact that you can buy poisons that destroy so called ‘pests’ legally and from ordinary shops. When killing and cruelty is normalised, it is surprising how readily people will carry it out. History has shown us this many times.

This spider is not looking his best, he is missing two legs and has something tangled round one of his remaining legs. I suspect he has escaped from one of the Pholcus phalangioides or daddy-long-legs spiders that live in our flat and prey on other spiders. Once the rain stops I’ll put him outside where I hope he has a better chance of surviving. Until then he is welcome to stay, I have plenty of space and nothing to fear from this harmless house guest.