Considering the Lumber for 2012

Looking out from a 5* Golf Resort on Lough Erne, (a place I would not normally reside in it has to be said) I read these words from ‘Three Men and a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome.
It was an echo of more familiar words from St. Matthew.

George said:

“You know we are on a wrong track altogether. We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without.”

George comes out really quite sensible at times. You’d be surprised. I call that downright wisdom, not merely as regards the present case, but with reference to our trip up the river of life, generally. How many people, on that voyage, load up the boat till it is ever in danger of swamping with a store of foolish things which they think essential to the pleasure and comfort of the trip, but which are really only useless lumber.

How they pile the poor little craft mast-high with fine clothes and big houses; with useless servants, and a host of swell friends that do not care twopence for them, and that they do not care three ha’pence for; with expensive entertainments that nobody enjoys, with formalities and fashions, with pretence and ostentation, and with – oh, heaviest, maddest lumber of all! – the dread of what will my neighbour think, with luxuries that only cloy, with pleasures that bore, with empty show that, like the criminal’s iron crown of yore, makes to bleed and swoon the aching head that wears it!

It is lumber, man – all lumber! Throw it overboard. It makes the boat so heavy to pull, you nearly faint at the oars. It makes it so cumbersome and dangerous to manage, you never know a moment’s freedom from anxiety and care, never gain a moment’s rest for dreamy laziness – no time to watch the windy shadows skimming lightly o’er the shallows, or the glittering sunbeams flitting in and out among the ripples, or the great trees by the margin looking down at their own image, or the woods all green and golden, or the lilies white and yellow, or the sombre- waving rushes, or the sedges, or the orchis, or the blue forget-me-nots.

Throw the lumber over, man! Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.

You will find the boat easier to pull then, and it will not be so liable to upset, and it will not matter so much if it does upset; good, plain merchandise will stand water. You will have time to think as well as to work.



This Christmas due to Mrs Canal Ways being sick with tinsil-itus we had a different sort of Christmas than normal. No sitting with family relations getting abuse about hair length, lack of job, lack of driving skill, about putting on weight, not doing a bakery course, not having new clothes etc, (well not at least until Boxing Day). No instead it was a quiet Christmas when I read a biography about cod.

There is something about the sea and trawlers that connects with me so I enjoyed the book. It was also sad at the way we have plundered a seemingly boundless ‘resource’  in the belief that nature is boundless and will always give and the way we humans don’t seem to learn our lessons that although the earth is big and has some wiggle room it is limited as well. Those who deny that the earth’s atmosphere will fix itself no matter how much we pollute the atmosphere are of a similar bent.



I’ve been feeling very uninspired recently but something just clicked there.

Firstly it was the canvas my wife had painted based on one of  Cézannes paintings of the Mont Sainte-Victoire. Cézanne did different paintings based on different views of the mountain. Another famous example of this sort of thing is Hokusai and his 36  views of Mt. Fuji.
Maybe the most famous example though was my attempt to draw 36 different views of Samson and Goliath on this blog, which I’d actually forgotten about and should get back too.

But that’s beside the point. The thing I realised tonight is that this laptop is really my canvas. Up to now I’ve been thinking that the notebook or page is my canvas when in reality it’s often only a small step in the final of goal of
putting it on laptop.

























I’m not sure why I hadn’t realised that before. Or why it’s making me think now. Perhaps it taking a step back to realise that it’s just a tool or a support frame despite the way it can seem like  more.


don’t leave all the windows lying open…

The Nutella jar lying open, cheese half finished on the bread board, half finished cups of tea and crumbs all over the show. This is a sight frequently witnessed in our kitchen, all over our house. Half finished jobs, the products of a hyper-active being who doesn’t seem to be able to focus.

That person is yours truly of course, the messy pup. But this morning I wondering if this habit of leaving things open and unfinished might be related to the way I use the computer,

Right now as I try to concentrate on typing this I have one window open on ebay, where I am watching an auction and hoping that someone swoops in at the last minute and buys my box of unwanted Penguins,
another window open on a discussion forum about cold radiators as I try to solve our permanently cold bathroom radiator,
below there is a window open with my scanner as I try to scan in pictures of books,
a tab open with postage costs open and a Microsoft Paint window open.

And that is a simplified version of all the balls I’m trying to juggle at once. Normally Facebook might be open, Hotmail and possibly The Guardian website.

If you lived like this for most of the day, with different planes of thought and trying to get jobs done all at the same time but getting none done then why wouldn’t our brains think the same when it comes to the kitchen or the other jobs in our ‘normal’ day?

Maybe the mess of the kitchen is a reflection of the way my brain is being trained by to much computer and internet use. Perhaps I should make it a rule to only have one box open at a time and to do whatever needs done before closing it…

business studies, home economics

the ritual of the weekly market

The thought of another Christmas of  cheap sausage rolls, Quality Street all washed down by a bucket of Shloer is turning my stomach.
We eat so much crap this time of the year and it is all excused by it being Christmas.

I was pondering my unhealthy eating habits this morning when I realised something. A week of unhealthy eating in our household usually begins when we don’t make it into St George’s Market on a Saturday morning. Let me back up firstly by saying that a trip to St George’s doesn’t mean that we’ll be eating tofu and raw cabbage, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But  a weekly trip to the market does recreate a ritual in our house,
a ritual in which food is treated with respect at the very start
which means that the whole process of preparing food
and then eating is likely to be treated with respect.
Or healthy eating.

And by the same token even though the market may well work out a bit more expensive that the supermarket (although I haven’t noticed that to be honest ) because you have more joy and pleasure in shopping for your food you are much less likely to waste the food you buy or ponder more what you are buying.
If you pick up  cabbage from the farmer who is obviously proud of the cabbage he has grown and nurtured you are much less likely to waste it when you take it home.
At  moment I have two cabbages in the fridge that need used, a white cabbage from LIDL and an Autumn King grown by the man who sold it to me. I know which one I want to do justice too. The ritual of the market.

In the past couple of weeks I have been unable to get into St George’s and as a result we’ve been grabbing bits and bobs from our local Spar which in all honesty is nothing but a branded sweet shop.

Perhaps the unhealthy eating is all tied into the place you buy it from, or partly so.
If  the place is branded and disposable with the people working there programmed to sell commodified goods,
if the there is no easily recognised story behind the food you’re buying so that you can understand it and respect it
then you will bring it home and carry on the story of the food which is no story, or a story you don’t really care about.

Maybe the government can try all the healthy eating initiatives it wants to but if we’re forced to buy our food in unhealthy places such as the homogenized supermarkets that surround your town then what else do you expect?

If we don’t know the story of what it cost to get our potatoes or apples to our kitchen,
if they’re just phantoms that appeared overnight on a Tesco lorry in a plastic tray and are set on display the next day
then people are never going to treat the food with respect.

With the market we’re much more likely to hear the story of our food, or getting closer to the person who grew our apples or knows the farmer who supplies the pigs and do justice to food when we get home.