Tag Archives: recycling

Parenting, Porridge and Pessimism

We had a lie in until just after eight and got ready without having to rush to a deadline, then, in case the luxury of the moment should spoil us, we had porridge. Without sugar.

If porridge had a family tree it wouldn’t be far from wallpaper paste on the chart, probably a second cousin, but it’s good for me. It’s full of dietary fibre, it’s economical and it helps build stoicism.

I will spare you the next few lines, but let’s say that they weren’t cheerful and the spirit of optimism has taken a holiday too. All I have left to look forward to is five and a half years of work before I retire and embark on life with some very poor pension arrangements. Stoicism is going to come in very useful.

I know I’m getting old as I’m entering the penultimate stage of parenthood. I’ve pushed them around in a pram, worried about their health, maturity, education and careers. I’m now worrying that I won’t be able to leave them anything when I die. That only leaves the final stage, where they have to worry about my health and push me around in a wheelchair. I only hope my brain lives long enough for me to appreciate the irony.

Julia has gone to town to renew her bus card. I have sorted out my car insurance details, moved stuff round to give access to the electricians, and taken waste paper out. With all the pizza menus, seed catalogues and generally useless waste I reckon I’ve just dumped a good couple of pounds of waste paper in the recycling bin.

According to the 2011 census figures there are 126,131 households in Nottingham so that’s over 252,262 pounds of waste, and that’s accumulated in just a couple of months so the annual figure will be 1,513,572 lbs of waste paper. That’s 686 metric tonnes of paper that need never have been produced.

I just looked Nottingham City Council up to see if they had figures that I could compare and they don’t. They do, however, tell me that they give out 160,000 single-use recycling bags last year. They are for people in flats. They are taking steps to end this, but it seems that it’s taken a long time to get round to it.

Apart from seeing the seals, as mentioned yesterday, I don’t have many plans for the next week. I’d better think of something fast, as worrying about death, children and recycling isn’t what I had in mind when I booked a week off.

I may give some thought to feeding ducks. What people don’t realise when they talk about “feeding ducks” is that there are people out there who will quite happily tip out a pack of white bread and then, after five minutes of laughter, will walk off leaving bread floating on the water and cluttering up the shore. The result – apart from a nutritionally dodgy meal for ducks – rats and festering bread.

Rejection, Rejection, Rejection…

No, it’s not a semantic device, the title is, so far, an accurate representation of the week so far.

With two more submissions still waiting for replies, it could get worse yet.

On the back of last week’s rejection, I had another yesterday. I then rewrote things, as suggested, and resubmitted them (I had the afternoon free because Julia is on jury duty). The rewrites were rejected.

Then today I had another batch returned.This is an new record for efficient editing – it took approximately 36 hours from sending the poems to getting a rejection.

Four rejections, Three in a week. It’s not doing much for my figure, but it’s not doing me any harm either. I’ve been doing quite well and maybe it’s time for a bit of introspection.

Something has happened over the last year and I find myself strangely serene in the face of adversity.

The first thing, I think, is to remember that it’s my work that’s being rejected, not me.

The second thing is to remember that it’s just words. Nobody died in the making of that poem, no trees were felled and nobody was force fed on salad. There will be plenty more words to work with tomorrow and even if the supply dries up, I must have half a million of them floating round in my blog by now so I could always reuse some of them.

Third – editors are human, and like all of us they have thoughts on what is a good poem. Their view is always going to prevail because it’s their magazine. If you want to be the one calling the shots, either become exceedingly good as a poet, or start your own magazine.

Fourth – in my case, based on past experience, I thought that this time I would target the top magazines and see how I measured up. Some of these magazines publish 1% of the poems they get sent every year. It’s hardly surprising that there’s a lot of rejection flying about. I’d rather be rejected by one of the better magazines than be accepted by something with lower standards. Though, obviously, I’d rather be published than rejected.

Five – every cloud has a silver lining. After thinking I was short of decent poems I now find I have quite a lot of spare one floating about. Within the next week they will be back on offer, using my recycling strategy. I also have an idea for an article on coping with rejection.

 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The morning passed fairly quickly, though I’m breaking in new shoes and my bunion was twinging a bit. Julia has treated me to a set of shoe stretchers and they have a special attachment for the bunion area so I’m expecting the problem will be solved tonight.

Because of that I went home when we finished at lunchtime and did a few chores, after removing my shoes. I would have liked to have seen my friends on the other side of town but you can’t really walk into a jeweller and slip your shoes off.

I then set to on the new poetry system I’m developing. I now make files up, named for the relevant magazine and submission date. I then have something to aim at when using the computer, instead of relying on memory and scraps of paper. After I send one tonight I will have four submissions out. This is the most I’ve ever had out at one time, and the next two lots are due to go out in October. As yet, I have nothing good enough to go out, which is very worrying. I don’t like it when that happens.

It’s my fault. I’m just submitting at a higher rate than I can write. It takes me seven to ten minutes to write the prose portion of a haibun when everything is going well. Unfortunately it then takes weeks to hone it and write the haiku. In a few weeks I’m sure I’ll have caught up a bit and everything will be back in balance.

In two to four weeks, I’m guessing, I will start getting things rejected and they can be sent out again.

Generally you are asked for three haibun in a submission, and as a principle most magazines will only accept one as they are short of space and want to give everyone a fair go. I can usually place at least one of the rejects, sometimes both, within a few months. Of the three that were rejected last week, two are already out again and the third piece which accompanies them has been out twice before already. Yes, they’ve all been tightened up but they are all essentially the same pieces.

Recycling, that’s the key.

They are all good pieces, they just weren’t fully finished when I sent them out. That’s what happens when you rush things.

Sometimes, when it’s clear that nobody wants it, I’ll admit defeat. The post Murder Your Darlings was one of my defeats. After four attempts I killed one of my favourites by publishing it myself. Editors don’t like previously published work.

However, what I didn’t tell you at the time was that I’d picked over the corpse and turned it into a poem. It will be submitted with a group of poems later tonight.

Reduce (the work), reuse (resubmit) and recycle (use the bits for something else) – it works in writing just thye same as everything else.

Let’s see what happens next.

I’ll mention no names, but thirty years ago I used to know a man who wrote military history books, and, by the time he’d done three, I started to see a pattern as the research from the previous book formed a good portion of the next one. I reckon he wrote nine books from the research he’d done on the first three, This is smart work and good use of resources.

It is also a contrast with a University professor I know. He’s written five books and they are all more or less the same. That, I feel, is lazy, even by my standards.

Finally, the recycled photographs. The gulls from Llandudno Pier feature in one of the resubmitted haibun, which gives me an excuse to reuse some of them.

Outline of a Day

Got up.

Panicked.

Took Julia to work early.

Discussed setting Julia’s watch to the correct time.

Went home.

I then searched for the washing machine change, packed the washing and went to do the washing. I expect, due to a touch of dramatic foreshadowing there, that you had guessed that.

Planned next week’s menu.

Read.

Gave a lady change. I don’t normally do this, as I believe you should organise your own life, not expect me to do it, but she asked nicely.

Went round the duck pond. Reflected in a pensive and poetic manner.

Shopped.

Put four bags of old clothes in collection bin. Julia appears to have been hoarding clothes since around the turn of the century.

Went home.

Had curry for lunch (left over from earlier in the week).

Fell asleep.

Picked Julia up.

Fell asleep in front of TV.

Woke up.

Ordered pizza.

Only just posted before midnight!

The best laid plans…

Arnot Hill Park, Arnold, Nottingham

Arnot Hill Park, Arnold, Nottingham

Recycled Milk Containers

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It started off with milk containers, paint and a pallet. To be fair, paint and pallets are at the bottom of most of Julia’s projects.

I went to the Mencap garden with Julia last Friday to photograph her latest project.

Obtain some milk containers, making sure they are the same size, as this makes things easier. Cut the bottoms off, paint them and mount them upside down in a pallet (a batten through the handles helps), fill with potting compost and plant things in them.

Then make sure you keep them watered.We also had tea and biscuits. I like Fig Rolls: they remind me of visiting ancient aunts when I was a youngster. Some of them were fearsome, but the Fig Rolls generally made up for it. Time, as always, lends enchantment to the view, and I remember the biscuits more than the feeling of being found too frivolous.

They were, of course, of the generation that thought I’d look better up a chimney, though to be fair to them they had left school around the age of twelve and, mostly, worked in cotton mills all their lives. They tended not to marry, as the supply of husbands had been seriously depleted in the years between 1914 and 1918.

What with the Great War, the Great Depression, the death of the cotton industry and the Second World War, they didn’t have an easy time of it.

It’s made quite a good planter now it’s finished, though I expect to be asked about automatic watering systems next.

Poppies – Yes, it’s That Time of Year Again

Julia and the Garden Group made poppies a few weeks ago, cutting the bottoms of plastic bottles, fitting wire stalks, spraying them red and sticking the bottle tops in the centres.

It’s not a very complicated process, though the step I missed out (smoothing the cut edges using a candle flame) does have the occasional interesting moment. Julia tried making leaves using green plastic bottles, but they turned out a bit see-through. She doesn’t have enough money in the kitty for green paint, in case you were wondering.

With the addition of some scrim netting (because it’s slightly military) and some rosemary (for remembrance) it is now forming an art installation in the garden. See how easily I slip into the language of the aesthete – art installation indeed. It’s some plastic flowers on a fence post. It also includes some sedums (because they are still in prolific flower) and some chicken wire (because there wasn’t enough scrim).

One of the group has printed out a suitable poem too. It’s the Moina Michael poem “We shall Keep the Faith“. I’ve left a link rather than displaying it in full. To be honest, I don’t really like it . Apart from the sentiment I don’t like the way it rhymes red and dead twice in seventeen lines.

As she’s the originator of Poppy Days I will cut her some slack and say no more. After all, my view may not reflect the views of posterity.

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Poppies and Rosemary

 

 

Paint, Autumn Colour and Upcycling

Despite my desire to do something different I’ve drifted back to the garden. The pictures are taken and the temptation to use them is too great to resist. The top picture shows part of the bookshelf. They will not be short of reading material, though they may short of light to read by. Despite being near both a school and a lamp post the gardens have no power, which could be a problem as time goes on. It seems that as the winter progresses, the number of attendees falls.

At least the broken window won’t be a problem, though it did cost £70 to fix it in the end. We weren’t able to dismantle it ourselves to fit the new glass so we had to call the professionals in.

Painting is going well, with multi-coloured panels (depending on available paint) cheering the place up. The stationery trays (which were fruit boxes last week when Julia got them from the grocer on the market) were painted using the same system. I wonder if I should tick “upcycling” as a category, or if that might be a bit too grand to describe painting three boxes with left over paint.

Note the cake stand. Julia found it in a school bag that had been dumped in the school skip, with other lost property. She has an affinity for cake stands, and we have several at home, though we rarely use them, as we aren’t that sophisticated. And I’d rather just cut it and eat it instead of showing it of on a double-decker plate.

The library shelves are looking fuller now, with a number of the titles looking familiar. I’m sure I used to have copies of those books, I think, before I realise…

I may go for “upcycling”, considering the planter is a re-used litter bin striped with bits of window blind.

More Planters

We managed to get one of the waste bins partially dismantled, which gives us the basis for a planter trough.

There were eight screws on the hinge and five came out easily. Two came out less easily. And the final one wouldn’t budge. I applied my jemmy. It still didn’t budge. Eventually I had to drill the head of the screw, which finally worked. Only two more to go, plus a bit of internal remodelling.

I feel a bit retro using the term jemmy, it’s one of those words from the world of pea soupers and mysterious foreigners in Limehouse, along with rozzers, darbies and petermen. A lifetime of reading classic crime has certainly broadened my vocabulary.

It’s an on-going process, and we’re going to have a bit of work to do yet, but it seems a shame to throw them out.

 

Planters

Julia’s group has finished painting the metal bins so they now have a fine selection of planters on the verandah. There’s a fig in one, a conifer in another and a strange combination of Echeveria Duchess of Nuremberg, thyme and chives in a third. Echeveria and thyme are fine but I have my reservation about the chives. Time will tell.

“Those slate chippings look familiar.” I said, vaguely remembering she’d mentioned them last week.

“They’ve been on the patio for years,” she replied,”you weren’t using them.”

Wives don’t understand the concept of keeping things in case they come in useful later.

 

They aren’t just a garden task, they have provided a useful art and design project too.

She has been given some wooden bins too. The school has made some into trough planters and that’s Julia’s plan too. All we need to do is get the screws out of the hinges. Eight screws. Eight tight screws. Then we need to shorten them and dismantle the doors to re-use them as ends.

It sounds so simple…

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Summary

In the past week I have, again, fallen behind with my reading.

This is true of WordPress, where I have once again not found time to keep up with everyone. It has also been true of my book reading. Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that I haven’t actually picked a book up, which is unusual. I did read part of a crime novel this week, but that was because I had three medical appointments and needed something to fill the waiting time.

I have been doing a bit on the net, and have read a couple of gardening magazines but that has been it. I also read part of a Daily Mail a neighbour lent me, but that proved to be a miserable experience.

Ebay, as you can probably tell from my recent ramblings, has been taking up too much of my time. I’ll cover that at length in a later post.

Medically speaking, everything seems to be going well. I’m not going to say too much as you never know what’s around the corner.

So, that just leaves the dustbins. Our bin day is Friday. This Friday is was the recycling and garden waste bins. I picked Julia up from work and we went for a coffee. When we returned home they were still on the pavement and the garden waste bin had a sticker on top.

It seems that the bin had not been emptied because it contained either bricks, breeze blocks, rubble, rope, trellis, treated timber, animal waste, plant pots, soil, wood chipboard, bagged garden waste, bagged domestic waste or food waste.

This seemed strange because when I looked at it I couldn’t see any of that. This is only the second time we’ve put the garden waste bin out this year, and it was only about 25% full and there wasn’t much for the heinous contraband to hide behind.

That’s why I ended up with the Daily Mail. It seems that local councils are taking a hard line on such things, even to the point of fitting up to seven cameras on a bin lorry. I won’t talk about litter, poor school standards or any other council issue, because all that is important is that they issue their quota of stickers.

I know that recycling is important, and needs to be monitored, but I think this is a bit over the top. I will be discussing it with them next week.

This isn’t just an idle threat, I really will get on with this one.

I’m fairly sure that they have opened the bin, looked at the hedge clippings and mouldy plums and decided that the plums are food waste.  In fact, with them coming straight off the tree they are garden waste. I would probably just have composted them, but Julia took them off and she tends to get rid of them so the mould doesn’t cause further problems. She’s more professional than I am.

I can see why they wouldn’t want food waste in there, but if a few mouldy plums are a problem where do you draw the line? Will yellowing cabbage leaves, ground elder and nettle tops all be seen as contraband? You can eat them so I would suggest they should be. What about rhubarb leaves? They are poisonous, but they are also waste from food. And tomatoes with blight?

The world has gone mad.

Of course, there’s a little voice at the back of my head suggesting that if we had better schools in Nottingham council employees might be bright enough to work out that mouldy plums are garden waste.

I probably won’t mention that in my email.