A very early start. Spring flowers, a hat from Chile and lots and lots of cookies.
Category Archives: Henry
Henry has just finished his Food Tech rotation at school and on the last day he made a great mix-and-match cookie recipe which he was keen to try again at home. I got out the vintage mixer, the sifter and the flour shaker and left him to it. Ten minutes later Henry came sobbing and hiccuping into the room where I was working. “I broke it!” he wailed. My first thought was damn those glass bowls are hard to find but it turned out to be a bit funnier than that:
The rubber scraper had got itself caught in the beaters, been pulled right through them both and they were fairly well destroyed. Munted, to be a lot more precise. Once I stopped laughing, I suggested a trip to the Sallies where I promised we would have no trouble finding replacement beaters.
It didn’t surprise me that we saw the beaters mere seconds after walking through the door but ( and this is one of the reasons I keep on op shopping) it did kind-of shock me into stunned silence when I saw that they were sitting in a large glass mixing bowl. In tip top condition. For four dollars. In your face, evil rubber scraper!
I love my vintage mixer – it’s older than I am and it still runs like a dream. Andrew picked it up for me in a garage sale years ago and it has lots of the original attachments including a juicer, a mincer and a vitamiser which makes great smoothies. It’s now also back on track to make great cookie dough.
It seems the battle was lost but the war has finally been won by local residents.
And replaced with low-growing magnolias. Henry was quite philosophical…and accepted that was one letter-writing campaign he was never going to win. And magnolias, well they’ll look really pretty in the spring.
Henry’s class have a student teacher at the moment and she’s been ‘dreamy’. (Not my word!) She wears the cutest op-shopped outfits, sings a lot and enthusiastically climbed mountains on school camp. Whimsical is the word I would probably use. I think she looks just like a sweet, old-fashioned china doll with a porcelain complexion to match.
Henry wanted to make a gift for her because tomorrow is her last day so we threw some ideas around and came up with this upcycled bag.
We used this tutorial pretty much word for word, just removed the batting and added a button loop and a cell phone pocket. The bag is made from an old jersey of my own, a floral curtain remnant and the leather handles off an op-shopped purse. It was tricky going at times because the woollen layers were very bulky but I used a walking foot and took it slowly.
The leather handles might just be my favourite part. Or maybe the leather coat button? Or even the fact that there is new life for this comfy old jersey I have worn and loved for years. I am crazy about this whimsical little bag and can hardly bear to give it away, no matter how dreamy Miss M may be.
A big order of fabric arrived for me at school yesterday. Henry, dressed in a crispy new uniform, helped the caretaker to carry the heavy rolls into my classroom.
One of the lovely things about living in our street is the plum trees that line it. In spring they are quite simply breathtaking. Then in summer there are the plums to eat or make into jam and fruit sauce.
Henry loves the plum trees and spends a good many summer evenings dragging a step ladder around the neighbourhood, filling buckets with the juicy fruit. Sometimes he offers plums to our neighbours. Sometimes he just sits in a tree and eats them.
So imagine his distress late last winter when a letter from the council fell into our mailbox, informing us the plum trees were scheduled for the chop. They were to be replaced by low-growing magnolias, already planted and thriving in the council nursery. Henry was devastated. Every day we rounded the corner on the way home from school, expecting carnage. But nothing. And eventually, after a month of nothingness, we stopped worrying, watched the plum trees blossom and dreamed about summer plums.
In late October, at our annual street party, talk quickly turned to plum trees and the truth came out. Everyone in our street hates the plum trees and the execution notice was the result of a 2 year letter-writing campaign. There were complaints about the branches hitting power lines, the mess on the footpaths and the clouds of flies that descend. The only reason the plum trees were still standing was because of one objection, one neighbour who likes the way the blossom looks. Everyone else was livid because the complainee lives in a back section and doesn’t even have a plum tree to clean up after!
So Henry has been on a mission this summer – to save as many plums as possible and to keep the mess off the footpath. And he has, by and large, succeeded. He has even converted some neighbours and Henry is not the only one to be seen on a summer evening filling a bucket with plums.
This is our favourite way to eat them, Rote Grutze which is like a red fruit sauce made with plums and strawberries and rhubarb. Brilliant with ice cream although I think this could be the last summer we get the plums for free. Our neighbours are pretty persistent.
It was a bit of a crush in the reStart mall today – which we had expected because it was a public holiday AND a beautifully warm and sunny afternoon. What we didn’t expect were these signs on many doors:
We’d forgotten there were some celebrities in town. And while it was nice to see them – Prince Charles patted Henry on the head and Camilla said she liked his shirt – there was someone else that Henry was more interested in meeting. Lurking at the back of the entourage, looking very relaxed despite the serious guys in dark glasses, was one of Henry’s heroes:
Henry first wrote to John Key when he was 7 – he’d heard something on the radio that bothered him and then he found a snippet in the newspaper and so he wrote to tell John Key that he didn’t think it was fair that Ministers had several houses and holiday homes when some kids in his class didn’t even have one house. He added the relevant bit of the newspaper article to illustrate his point.
And John Key wrote back explaining his take on the matter and inviting Henry to write again. And because letters to the Prime Minister don’t require a stamp, Henry did. Sometimes with his important political opinions but also with running records of his day, stories he had written and interesting snippets of school gossip. His most recent letter began “Dear John Key. Today you made my teacher cry…”
Once they’d got past the nice weather and the burnt hand, the conversation went something like this;
“I’m Henry by the way. Do you remember my letters?”
John Key gazes briefly into the distance and then ” Of course. You’re Henry. Yes, I’m pretty sure I do.”
Boom. Henry flushes pink. Gulps. Conversation falters.
“He likes that you always write back,” I chip in. “Proper letters.”
“Oh yes,” says John Key. “I always write back if boys and girls take the time to write to me. So I guess I’ll hear from you again soon then, Henry?”
Dopey nod. Starry eyes. Swoon. And John Key leans down and tickles Henry under the chin just before his security boffins move him off down the mall.
I hope Mr Key understands that, at Henry’s school, he is still held up as an example of how far a boy from this very area of Christchurch can climb if he works hard. He might even take the time to really read one of Henry’s letters and understand that a desire for social justice isn’t just confined to grown ups in offices and kids really can have strong opinions on the way the country is being run.
I teased Henry about missing the perfect opportunity to ask John Key not to close his school but Henry was more thoughtful.
“I think it would be better if I wrote,” he said
Well, after surviving an attempted job axing in June, the government has rocked our world again and Henry’s school will close at the end of the year. It’s been a tense month in Christchurch with schools anticipating bad news but today it was laid out in black and white. We’ve been told it will cost just too much money to fix the earthquake damage. The school is no longer viable.
We are so sad. Henry’s school is a lovely little green space in the heart of northwest Christchurch. It’s one of the most multi-cultural schools around with students from over 50 different countries. It has a strong sporting tradition, a focus on music and every year sends our intermediate about 60 confident, capable, independent learners.
Three years ago, another little local school was closed by the government and most of the children affected were gathered in by Henry’s school. Three years on and these children are about to be moved again, probably to a school that made it clear they were not welcome last time.
It would seem that the aftershocks are not slowing down at all.
Henry had a bit of time to kill and there was entirely too much tv watching so I said “How about we sew?”
A very simple 6×6 in squares cut from Grandma’s flannel fabrics. He practised straight stitching and following the 1cm line before joining the squares. It took 5 mornings to sew the top together and then we went on an expedition to choose the backing fabric.
It was the funniest visit to a fabric store ever. I thought yellow would be perfect but Henry wanted lime green. It’s my favourite colour said Henry. You don’t even have green in the top I said. Ok then fluro orange said Henry. But look how nice the duck-egg blue is I said. Blech said Henry. Then an old lady got in on the act and tried to sell the yellow again while a shop assistant extolled the virtues of a really boring grey. We both rolled our eyes at that one. Argh said Henry throwing his hands in the air. I just want to express myself!
We drove to Arthur’s Pass for the swap-over. It’s such big country over there, overwhelming. Underlines your insignificance and then adds an exclamation mark.
Henry and I had an adventure of our own. We walked into a little hut in the Craigieburn Forest and stayed the night. It was a basic hut with a place to sleep and a tap outside. We indulged in instant mashed potato with our dinner and toasted marshmallows over the gas cooker. We played cards by candlelight and then went to bed early, worn out by the fresh mountain air.
We got up early and ate breakfast in the sun. We splashed in the river a bit and laughed at the keas. Then we went to meet the twins who had walked themselves out of the Hawdon Valley. Full of stories about climbing tall trees to watch for hikers and swimming in snow-fed streams, setting trap lines for stoats and tagging endangered native birds. But very much looking forward to hot showers, flushing toilets and lights at the flick of a switch. It was exciting to be away with Dad and practically DOC employees themselves but it’s also rather wonderful to be home.