Wednesday 26 November 2014

Fair Trade scorched almonds!

I'm rather partial to scorched almonds, so I was delighted to discover yesterday that TradeAid are selling Fair Trade ones!  (Or almost - from the picture it doesn't look like they're as chocolate-heavy as actual scorched almonds, plus they're cocoa-dusted rather than shiny).  I can't wait to try them :-)  They've also added chocolate-coated raisins to their range.

Buy online or find your local shop here.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Responding to Islamic State

Yesterday Martin wrote an email to our Prime Minister with the subject line "Thoughts on Resisting ISIL." I'd like to share it with you here:

Dear Mr Key,
I am aware that you face some difficult questions regarding New Zealand's foreign policy and our reponse to ISIL, and would like to contribute to the flow of citizen's comments which I hope you are receiving.
My high school choir teacher was (later) killed by separatists in the Philippines who bombed an airport he was travelling through.  His son pursues 'revenge' against them by helping others in the area build a strong civil society with no room or need for radicalism.
In that vein, let me urge you to strenuously pursue non-military contributions in addition to the current military support you have proposed.  I was struck by this recent article in the WSJ, arguing how rule of law and legitimation of small businesses can push back radicalism, and imagine you would relish that agenda.  I am also keen that somebody asks (and publicises?) who is buying oil from and selling weapons to parties such as ISIL.
Should it seem that we must engage militarily, please double check that there is some hope of meaningful success.  I would hate to be just making things worse because we were afraid to look disinterested.
If you feel that there is, however, a need to fight then I urge you to do so without regard for the risks of attacks against NZ.  If something is right to do, then we should bear the cost.  We should be generous, and not calculate solely for our own narrow interest.  I think that many kiwis will consider arguments along that line, particularly after Ebola has reminded us that it is foolhardy to leave other countries to rot as if we were not all neighbours.
We should also be confident that or society can sustain a few bruises, and resist battening the hatches so tightly that we come ourselves.
Finally, may I encourage you to offer a path home for those who got to fight for ISIL and realise the horror of what they have joined.  Be strong against those who remain radical, but help those turning back to find a better path and then to spread the lessons they have learned.
Thank you for your time, and I will be praying for you as you face these (and all your other) difficult responsibilities as Prime Minister.

Sunday 9 November 2014

The world is a big place

I try to expose myself to ideas from different places by listening to the BBC World Service, reading blogs and literature from other places and talking to foreigners I meet about how they see the world.  Yet I still frequently slip into tacitly assuming that everyone sees the world more or less the same way I do.

I was reminded of this today, while listening to a BBC documentary about gay refugees from Iran.  In New Zealand, people who think that gay relationships are wrong tend to advocate two options for gay people: heterosexual marriage (generally after some kind of curative treatment) or celibacy.

Apparently, in Iran, there are two options, too - but they're different.  Celibacy wasn't mentioned as an option (although maybe it is one) but the two main choices are heterosexual marriage (at least sometimes after some kind of curative treatment) or gender reassignment surgery.  I was so surprised!  I would never have thought that there were societies where people were against gay relationships yet in favour of gender reassignment surgery.

Just another reminder that the world really is a big place...

Sunday 2 November 2014

Home Improvement

Martin (with various helpers) has been a busy beaver in recent weeks!

The structure at the corner of the wheelchair ramp on which we keep various plants had to get moved when our house was being painted at the beginning of the year.  It was in pretty bad condition so we decided to make a new one rather than reinstalling it.  And now, 8 months later, it's all done :-)

It's not nailed to the ramp: the green wooden struts sit a bit above the ramp and keep the slats in place and the slats rest on the edge of the ramp.

I think it looks very nice and tidy :-)

But that's not all.  Martin can't carry me at the moment because of his recent back surgery, so the commode wheelchair is currently in frequent use.  Getting it from the bedroom to the toilet has always been challenging as the space it needs to get through is pretty tight.

To free the area up a bit we decided to replace our linen-and-tools cupboard/shelving unit with a much smaller unit.  We found a lovely unit on TradeMe, but that wasn't the end.  It's smaller so, although it fits all the linen, new homes were needed for the tools.

So we ended up buying a set of little basket trays to hold small things like nails and building a set of shelves with nails beneath to hang things to take care of the actual tools as well as bottles of solvent etc.

Here's a better view of the shelves: complete with baseboard and painted a lovely blue :-)

With many thanks to cousin Geoff for supplies and useful advice, Aunty Elspeth for sourcing materials, Anna for sanding and painting, Allan for the loan of his circular saw and Jan for loan of his drill and helping put the shelves up :-)