Friday, 9 July 2010
Make do and Mend
Handy hints re:
• Making ink from soot, barley bannocks and a washing up bowl ‘shower’ should you ever need them!
The real value of things has been lost because they are so cheap here in the West and we think it will be that way forever. The things of true value such as food, water, shelter and community are often cheap in money terms until they become scarce and then we realise you can't eat money.
These essential resources are likely to get more expensive as they become scarcer, which is already happening in many parts of the world. Historically we don’t notice something is running out until it is gone.
It is just hard for us to believe it until it's too late. And elected governments run for a term of about 4 years. What vested interest do they have in unpopular policies to conserve resources? It just means they don’t get re-elected.
Our value base has changed a lot over the last 40 years or so without us noticing. Things have come to seem like the Only Hygienic Way for instance, when we managed perfectly well before.
He is quite a bit younger than me and I was struck by the things even he doesn’t know that his granny would have.
He also managed to do lots that I would never do of course. For example I am grateful to Mark for providing proper instructions on how to build a rocket stove.
Lots of people around the world rely on rocket stoves, made from old tin cans, to do their cooking on. They are efficient and use very little fuel. But many of us here would be appalled at the thought of having to use one.
Even if we in the UK (and I am sure many other Western countries) are on the dole (unemployment benefit) with hardly any money most of us would rather get into debt to pay the electricity bill than cook in the garden on a rocket stove in the better weather. Yeah I said most of us. I’m afraid this is where my family snigger and think to themselves ‘Not our Janet she would be out there under a borrowed Gazebo in the rain, actually’ and my Dad says ‘most people aren’t like you’ but actually he’s just the same. Well I would be out there in the rain under a gazebo if it meant I had enough money and did not get into debt.
Here’s an example of what Mark Boyle doesn’t know that his granny could have told him. (Sorry mark!!)
The thing about solar showers is that the water is gone before you get the soap off. Any good Girl Guide knows the best camping shower is a bowl of water.
Use a soap and flannel to soap yourself. Then stand in the basin and use a jug to pour the water over yourself and wash the soap off. The basin catches the water of course so you can keep re-using it. Or just use the flannel to wash off the soap. And lean over the bowl to rinse your hair before you use the soap.
World Vision actually gives families plastic bowls for the purpose. They are like an over-sized washing up bowl and large enough for an average person to sit or kneel down in which is even better.
Mark spent ages making ink from mushrooms.
I think fiona just mixed soot with water but I have loaned the book to a friend! Soot lasts hundreds of years as ink and does not damage paper as it is basically carbon.
Mark agonises over whether to make bread, which he is fond of.
Fiona Houston also has an authentic Scottish recipe for Bannocks and flatbread in her book. She is a food historian and her recipes are very good.
All this 'making do' led me to think about mending clothes. I tend to think it is a waste of time and I would be better doing something else, so the mending just sits there. Ultimately it means throwing the clothes in the bin though (or use them for rags/make a quilt - but how many of us bother?) Yet another example of how we undervalue what we have because it is cheap in money terms to buy.
I am now trying not to buy anything brand new without first thinking whether I really need it and whether it could be got second hand. It has reduced our purchases and helped the finances into the bargain but is it still hard.
Sometimes you just want stuff because it seems like everyone else buys it. Buying knitting yarn and fibre for spinning seems to be my blind spot and I have so far not counted it as buying something new! I do have a lot already though – not counting the fibre and yarn that I sell as part of my business, this is just my personal stuff.
Mending the clothes made it feel like I had something new, because the things had been un-wearable for so long whilst waiting to be fixed. So it not only saved the cost of the item I repaired it saved the cost of a new one too.