Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I am a giant!

Today I saw my GP for the first time since getting better.  I was a bit nervous about going: would the receptionist recognise me, how would I explain to my GP what had happened etc.  What I didn't anticipate was the surreal feeling of being a giant.

Every other time I've been there I've been in a wheelchair.  This time I was walking, so was considerably taller.  I felt absolutely huge.  I even found myself walking gingerly, subconsciously expecting to accidentally trample small people or something!  It was so odd being at such a different height in relation to so many familiar things...

(And, in terms of the actual visit, the GP was very relaxed about my situation.  She wants me to take things slow, not push myself too much and allow myself time/space to enjoy my new abilities :-)  She doesn't think I acutely need physio intervention in terms of my gait, but she will make contact with the DHB physios and see what happens.  She's comfortable with the medications/supplements I've taken myself off and is OK with me gradually coming off more over time.)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

15 years!!!

Today Martin and I celebrated 15 years of marriage with a trip to West Lynn Gardens.

A helpful realisation

A few days ago I realised something important.

I've been feeling a lot of pressure to just slot back into the healthy world - and I've been frustrated that people don't realise how intimidating it all is and how it's not that easy.

Then I realised that, whilst there may be people who think that way, the main person who's imposing that expectation on me is me!

Several times recently I've had to let people down as I'm struggling to work out what my energy levels will be like.  I've been really embarrassed to do that.  But everyone I've done that to has been fine with it.  And quite possibly literally dozens of people have told me not to rush things and to allow myself time to adjust.

Actually, it seems like more or less everyone else 'gets' that this is a big transition and will be difficult and take time: I'm the only one who seems to think that's a problem ;-)  And as for thinking I'm 'letting God down' by not just slotting in (and so not being 'instantly healed') is just silly...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happenings

I've been for a few walks now - on Friday and Tuesday I went to visit two different neighbours who both live across the street from the end of our driveway.  It was the first each of them had known that I was better, and their delight and excitement was fun but also quite overwhelming.  Each time the next day I struggled to get moving all day and didn't do heaps.  I wondered if that was because of being overwhelmed by those reactions, rather than the exercise itself.  So today I went for a walk where I basically went down the driveway, did a loop of most of the flat part of our street, came home and then did a loop around the house.  I deliberately avoided going as far down the street as the house of another friend who is home during the day, so she wouldn't spot me and get excited - I'll save that for another time (although she knows I'm better).  My walk was just under 10 minutes.  I also did some weeding and sweeping outside this afternoon but no overwhelming people stuff.  We'll see how I'm doing tomorrow!

In other news, I'm delighting in this gorgeous orchid Martin's parents gave me for my birthday.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

God has healed me!

On Saturday November 3rd, I woke up without the gluey heavy feeling I've lived with since February 25th, 2003.  I believe that God miraculously healed me in the night - and healed me so that I could be part of presenting my Just Kai work at The Justice Conference!  Which is, itself, super-encouraging, quite apart from the wonder of the healing itself.


Here's what happened.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

In God's strength

I have been so busy recently.  My existence is usually a fairly quiet one, but this year there's been so much that's outward-facing.  I've spent a lot of time on my fish project and have become more active on Facebook, both in supporting friends and in advocating for issues important to me.  In recent weeks my life has been consumed by work on Just Kai.

As the busyness has increased I've felt an increasingly urgent tug to return to spiritual practises that had become neglected.

So this week I've resumed doing lectio divina each morning, focusing on one of the day's lectionary readings as before.  It's been so helpful!  I've realised I've been trying to do God's work in my own strength, and getting so stressed by it.  Such foolishness!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Introducing Just Kai

As you'll know from this blog, a major project for me this year has been researching different sectors of the retail fish industry, looking for brands that have taken significant steps to remove slavery from their supply chains.  In the process I've come across some pretty hideous stories of literal rape and murder, both of which seem scarily common.  I've learned that fish is the food purchased in rich countries that is at highest risk of having been produced by slave labour.  I've also come across some amazing companies who are really going the extra mile: working very hard to eliminate slavery from their supply chains, despite this being an issue with very little public awareness to date.  I have been especially impressed by the work of Sealord in this regard.
https://www.sealord.com/nz/

To pass on what I've learned, I've produced printable buying guides for both slave free fish for people (covering the sectors I've looked at so far) and slave free fish for pets (fish is found in a remarkably high proportion of pet food but can be invisible as it often isn't mentioned in the product name).  These are part of a very exciting project that has consumed a lot of our time in recent weeks: Just Kai.


https://justkai.puriri.nz/


Tearfund is hosting The Justice Conference in Auckland in two weeks time.  As 'Just Kai' Martin, along with our friends Anna and Sarah, will have a table there.  They will be advising people on how to buy fish, cocoa and sugar (the three foodstuffs most likely to have slave labour in their supply chains) without supporting slavery.   You can download a pdf summary of that advice here or check out the Just Kai website for more detail.  For cocoa and sugar they will be telling people to look for various trusted certifications; for fish the situation is more complicated as there are no human welfare certifications used on fish in New Zealand - for that, people will have to rely on my research.

So is your kai just? Or is it just kai?  Check out the website to see!

And if you expect to be in Auckland with no particular plans in two weeks time, why don't you consider signing up for the Justice Conference?  There's a wide range of speakers addressing a great many social justice issues, collectively bringing the challenge for us to join God in His work of making all things new!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Why I support Nestle

Around the world today countless people are being abused in the supply chains of large multinationals: either directly through their working conditions, or indirectly through the destruction of their environment.  If we want this to stop, it is crucial that we either support Nestle, or boycott multinationals altogether.  A selective Nestle-only boycott can do nothing but harm people who are current victims of the misbehaviour of large multinationals companies.

Why would I say such a thing?  After all in the 1970s Nestle actively foisted infant formula onto mums who had no access to clean water to make it up, convincing them it was modern and hence better than breastfeeding.  Tens of thousands of babies per year died from diaorrhea as a result.  There was a widespread boycott of Nestle products as a result.

But have you noticed what happened subsequently?  I've only discovered this relatively recently and have been really surprised by what I've learned.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cricket meatballs

A while back Martin and I bought a bag of cricket flour: farmed crickets that have been freeze-dried and ground to powder.  We were keen to try cooking with crickets as they have lower carbon emissions than most other meat.*  However, we rapidly ran into problems.  There are zillions of recipes for using cricket powder to boost the protein content of snack foods, but very very few for using it to make actual meals.
* I wasn't able to find data on their emissions as such; however crickets have negligible direct emissions and eat the same food as chickens (which also have negligible direct emissions).  Crickets have a feed conversion rate of 1.7 (for chickens it's around 3.3) and crickets are 16% protein (source).  Crunching those numbers with our existing carbon emissions number for chicken (3.9kg CO2e /kg), and noting that my cricket powder is 60% protein, I estimate carbon emissions of 7.5kg CO2e/kg cricket powder.  Which sounds worse than the chicken until you remember that chicken is 25-30% protein (with most of the rest being water) while the cricket powder is double that.  So the emissions per gram of protein are about the same as chicken, but much better than any red meat.
We did find one that we liked (shitaake mushroom and cricket meatballs), which we did with both an Italian-style and a sweet and sour sauce. That inspired us to try our own meatball recipe.  We've done it a few times now and really like it :-)


Happy Birthday to me :-)

It was my birthday on Saturday.  We were staying at my parents' place and I had a few friends over for afternoon tea.

Sarah and Anna

Temi in her fabulous dress

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Things I'm enjoying looking at :-)

We have a wee raised area on the corner of the wheelchair ramp where I keep pots.  I'm particularly enjoying some of them right now.

A 'coral' manuka that I'm keeping in a pot until it's big enough for the flower garden.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Buying fish for human rights: pet food

This is the third post of a series on buying fish for human rights.  The other posts completed so far cover salmon and tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel.

Last year I blogged about how Martin and I try to shop in ways that support human rights.  We do that by:
  1. Preferentially buying things produced in low income countries;
  2. Buying things produced under the best labour conditions available;
  3. Trying not to buy things produced by child or forced labour.
The reasons behind these principles are explained in more detail here.

When buying fish-containing pet food, following these principles can be particularly challenging.

Firstly, you may not even realise the pet food you are buying contains fish.  Some cat and dog foods mention fish in the product name, but fish is an ingredient in many cat and dog foods that don't.  Regardless of the product name, the vast majority of fish food contains seafood of some kind, as does all turtle food and some food for other reptiles.  The only category that seems never to do so is small animal food.  If the product name mentions fish or other seafood, you can be confident it's there; if it doesn't, you can't be confident it's not unless you read the ingredients list.

Secondly, unlike human food, pet food often contains highly processed fish products like fish meal and fish oil.  Without careful checking by the company you cannot be confident such products are free of human rights abuses: there are many steps between the sea and the final product and most of these steps are known to use child and/or forced labour some of the time.  In addition, when named fish are used in pet food the most common choices are deep sea species such as tuna, mackerel and ocean whitefish: these are at very high risk for human rights abuses as boats are often out at sea for months or even years at a time and those on board can't escape if things go bad.

Working around all that may sound terribly complicated, but I have good news!  Several companies are working very hard to root human rights abuses out of their supply chains.  If you restrict your purchases to brands in the following chart you can be reasonably confident you're not supporting child or slave labour; and if you preferentially buy those brands circled in red you'll help provide good employment to people in low income countries.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1o-LjrNFWOrPwH7dkQIMZ_fYDMvtnkBhs
Click to download as a pdf to take with you as you shop :-)
Read on to learn why I came to these conclusions.

Monday, September 10, 2018

A lovely weekend :-)

Martin and I took the weekend 'off' this weekend to just hang out with each other with no 'have tos'.  It was lovely, although I'm pretty knackered this morning!

We had lots of yummy food to nibble on through the weekend.  Martin bought French cheeses, salami, macarons, canelés and tarts from Pyrénées, the French deli in Mt. Albert, and I made a Zopf.  I'm still so happy that we bought a beater with a dough hook some years ago - it's lovely to be able to make bread without my weakness getting in the way :-)

Zopf - a Swiss bread traditionally eaten for Sunday breakfast.  The name is the German word for a plait.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Love Mercy

A friend asked me to record a short video on what 'love mercy' means in my own life for her to use in a sermon on Micah 6:8:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

The sermon has unfortunately needed to be postponed, but I thought I'd share what I came up with here:


Friday, August 17, 2018

An Amish puzzle ball

I've had fun making an Amish 'puzzle ball' for some neighbours who've recently had a baby.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Investments that support human rights

I've written a lot over the years about shopping for human rights.  How we buy creates the world in which our global neighbours live, so being mindful in this area is an important means to love our neighbours.

Perhaps a bigger factor in many of our global neighbours' lives though, is the companies in their neighbourhood.  Those companies have a big say in the conditions under which our neighbours work, how polluted their local environment is etc.  The larger of those companies are generally owned by people in high-income countries, many of whom don't know the first thing about what they get up to.  Most of us in high-income countries invest in aggregated funds (which in turn invest in actual companies) meaning that we generally don't even know the names of the companies we part-own.  Through these indirect investments many of us are unwittingly benefiting from some pretty dreadful practices.

Fortunately you can avoid this trap by seeking out investment funds that exclude or include companies based on ethical criteria.  A while back I blogged about Kiwisaver schemes that do this.  Martin and I now have other money to invest and have been investigating what options there are outside the Kiwisaver framework.  In priority order, we've been looking for:
  1. funds that only invest in companies which protect the human rights of people throughout their supply chain.  At a minimum we are looking for funds that don't invest in companies that use forced or child labour or buy from those who do; ideally we'd like them to invest in companies that pay a living wage and providing a safe working environment;
  2. funds that preferentially invest in companies that are making a positive difference in the world (social enterprises, companies that practise in sustainable ways etc.);
  3. funds that invested in companies in lower-income countries where investment capital is hard to find.
Do such funds exist?  Yes!  We couldn't find any funds that met all three criteria, but there are a number doing the first two :-)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Making an ice cream recipe vegan

There are a few vegans in my life and I enjoy making ice cream so I've been on a quest to learn how to make vegan ice cream.

Most recipes on the internet seem to be one of the following:
  • based on banana;
  • based on coconut milk;
  • based on cashew nuts.
The first two have the draw-back that your 'creaminess' comes from an ingredient with a strong flavour of its own.  That's often fine, but sometimes you want chocolate ice cream that's just chocolate, not chocolate-and-banana or chocolate-and-coconut.  And cashew ice cream relies on straining thinned-down cashew butter through cloth, which is pretty hard work!  I wondered if I could do better...

Cream and milk are just mixes of fat, water and protein with a smidge of emulsifier to hold them together; egg yolk is fat and water with lots of emulsifier and the kindof proteins that thicken nicely on heating.  Could I make vegan substitutes by simply mixing vegan fats, water, protein and emulsifiers in similar proportions?  Turns out I could and the results were great!

vegan rose geranium ice cream, vegan chocolate ice cream and vegan vanilla gelato :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A lovely weekend

Last weekend was our regular six-weekly 'quiet weekend' where we try to clear the calendar of obligations and relax and do nothing in particular :-)  It was lovely.  Martin ended up spending a lot of the time baking - as well as pikelets for Saturday morning tea, he made bitter chocolate cookies for afternoon tea:

Monday, July 23, 2018

Slave-free sugar

To see how we avoid supporting those who enslave others when we purchase other goods, see my main post on shopping for human rights.

Last updated 7/7/18

Sugar is one of the five highest-value categories of goods likely to have been produced by forced labour (the others are cocoa, computers and electronics, clothing and fish and seafood).  The US Department of Labour reports that forced labour is used in the sugar industries of Brazil, Burma, Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Pakistan; and that child labour is used in the sugar industries of Turkey, Panama, Burma, Paraguay, Cambodia, Phillipines, Colombia, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Uganda, El Salvador, Vietnam, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Belize, Mexico, Boliva.

That's not something I want to support, but until recently I've been unsure how to avoid it.  However, I've recently learned that Countdown own-brand sugar is Bonsucro certified.  This is an independently audited certification that ensures the sugar farms and mills are free of child and slave labour.  That's what we'll be buying from now on!



The Countdown sugar range includes white sugar (in 1.5kg, 3kg and 5kg bags) as well as brown sugar, raw sugar, icing sugar and caster sugar.  Slave-free muscovado and golden granulated sugar is also available from Trade Aid; demerera sugar that is likely to be slave free (but uses a small certification I'm not really sure of the reliability of) is available from Ceres Organics.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Mission of God's People

The Langham Partnership is currently promoting an online course taught by their international director, Chris Wright.  It looks really interesting.  It's called "The Mission of God's People" and considers the work 'regular' Christians (who aren't missionaries) are called by God to do.  Some similar issues are looked at in Why You're Here by John G. Stackhouse Jr. (recently reviewed by Martin on this blog).

(I couldn't get the promotional video to embed, but clicking on the image will take you to a page where you can play it!)

If that sounds interesting to you, read more about it (or sign up) here.  It's a self-paced course with 15 modules that you can do whenever suits you.  It costs US$120 (or US$100 if you sign up by 3/8/18) and that gives you access to the material for a year.
 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Bear Cam

In recent days I have been very much enjoying watching bear cam - a live stream of Brooks Falls in Alaska where brown bears are eating their fill of leaping salmon.  It's stunning!
Eight bears fishing the main falls yesterday.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Buying fish for human rights: tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel

This is the second post of a series on buying fish for human rights.  The other posts completed so far cover salmon and pet food with fish in.

Last year I blogged about how Martin and I try to shop in ways that support human rights.  We do that by:
  1. Preferentially buying things produced in low income countries;
  2. Buying things produced under the best labour conditions available;
  3. Trying not to buy things produced by child or forced labour.
The reasons behind these principles are explained in more detail here.

Unlike salmon, the fish I'm considering here are mostly deepwater fish caught offshore or on the high seas, although some sardines are caught on-shore.  Deepwater fisheries provide ideal conditions for forced labour as the fishing boats are often at sea for very long periods of time and workers can't get away.  Slavery, harsh beatings, rape and even murder are disturbingly common on such boats.  In addition, much of this fish is canned in countries where labour laws are poorly policed: child and forced labour occur frequently in fish processing factories.  You can't even be confident that tinned fish caught in New Zealand waters is caught and processed without such abuses: there are no fish canneries in New Zealand so all our fish is canned overseas, and there have been a number of cases of slavery on deep sea fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters.

If you want to buy tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel without supporting such things, I have good news!  After extensive research I have identified companies selling tinned tuna and sardines in New Zealand that are taking these issues seriously and from whom you can buy in confidence :-)

Here's how you can buy tinned tuna sardines and mackerel whilst supporting the human rights of those who produce it:
  1. To buy tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel that provides employment to people in low income countries, you should buy tuna and mackerel rather than sardines (which are generally caught and canned in higher income countries);
  2. To buy such fish produced under the best labour conditions available, you  should buy from Sealord;
  3. To avoid supporting child or slave labour, you should buy brands from as high as possible on the following table:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=14MUiuH8M7qW3iOBp3nQH3iOwa3j1WUay
Download as a pdf to take with you when you shop.
Read on to learn why I came to these conclusions.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Holiday in Te Aroha

Martin and I spent last week on holiday in Te Aroha with his aunty and uncle.

The two of us in Martin's aunty and uncle's front garden

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Shari'a courts in New Zealand

I frequently hear people arguing against Muslim immigration as it will lead to Shari'a courts being established in New Zealand.  After all, they say, such courts already operate in parts of the UK and/or Australia.

When such people talk about Shari'a courts, it seems they are thinking of the kind of courts operated by the Taleban or ISIS - courts which hand out sentences such as stoning for adultery.  If that's what comes to mind, I can understand why people don't want that here.

However, is that what really happens in the UK or Australia?  Does a court really sentence a woman to stoning or a man to have his hand cut off and it is done?  I seriously doubt it: those things are serious crimes under UK and Australian law and would certainly attract substantial notice.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A visit from a possum

Our garden's a wasteland at the moment - mostly neglect, but also a number of plants have been eaten right down to the ground.  We think this fellow (and one or more companions/rivals) are the culprits for that:

possum on the fence out our kitchen window last week
So we borrowed a trap off a friend, and on Friday morning woke up to this:

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Why You're Here: Ethics for the Real World

Recently I won a copy of Why You're Here: Ethics for the Real World (John G. Stackhouse, Jr.) on Goodreads.  Martin found it really exciting and has written the following review of it.



Sunday, May 20, 2018

A lovely Saturday

Yesterday was a fun day :-)

Martin and I had our first go at bottling mussels.

2kg mussels ready to go

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Buying fish for human rights: salmon

This is the first in a series of blog posts on buying fish for human rights.  The other posts completed so far cover tinned tuna, sardines and mackerel and pet food with fish in.
 Last updated 27/10/18.

Last year I blogged about how Martin and I try to shop in ways that support human rights.  We do that by:
  1. Preferentially buying things produced in low income countries;
  2. Buying things produced under the best labour conditions available;
  3. Trying not to buy things produced by child or forced labour.
The reasons behind these principles are explained in more detail here.

At the time that was written I was uncertain which (if any!) fish or seafood we could buy that would accord with those principles.  We had become aware that slavery was rife in the fishing industry.  People were being forced to work without pay both on the boats and in processing factories, child labour was being used, and there were plenty of disturbing stories of rape and murder, too.  It was all pretty sobering.

A year later, I have good news!  There are companies taking this stuff seriously, and there are brands you can buy in confidence :-)  I have been in discussions with a number of companies over recent months and am keen to share what I've found with you.

In summary, here's what I've found:
  1. To buy salmon that provides employment to people in low-income countries, you should (surprisingly) buy salmon farmed in New Zealand where possible (the salmon feed tends to include fish meal produced in such countries);
  2. To buy such salmon produced under the best labour conditions available, you  should choose products from New Zealand King Salmon (which produces the brands Regal, Southern Ocean and Ora King) as they only buy feed from suppliers that are certified child and slave labour free;
  3. To avoid supporting child or slave labour, you should restrict your purchases to the following brands:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Imn06qMbpCG75trxaiqRUaCtpXIGpgiR
Click to download as a pdf to take with you as you shop :-)

Read on to learn why I came to these conclusions.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

20kg of CO2e

I've been playing with some numbers and have come up with a list of things that all give about the same amount of carbon emissions (approximately 20kg CO2e):
  • 5 days of average Kiwi household power use (100kWh) - if hydropower
  • taking the bus from Auckland to Palmerston North (500km)
  • driving from Auckland to Huntly (100km)
  • 10kg of dry fertiliser (20% nitrogen fertiliser)
  • 80 standard loo rolls
  • a 3L steel saucepan (1kg of saucepan)
  • a pair of cotton undies
  • 3 square metres of wool carpet
  • 2 square metres of vinyl flooring
  • 1.5 square metre of window glass (single glazing)
  • 1/2 a square metre of driveway concrete (10cm deep)
  • a square foot of house (just the shell, typical Kiwi construction)
  • a square foot of solar panel (monocrystalline)
  • 44kg fruit or vegetables grown organically or in New Zealand
  • 33kg conventionally grown imported fruit or vegetables
  • 20L milk
  • 13kg lentils
  • 5kg chicken
  • 2kg cheese
  • 1kg of beef
Certainly brings out how different things have different impacts - and not always in the ways you'd think!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Art from light and shadow

Yesterday I came across an amazing artwork made from building blocks (thanks Thalia!):

Building Blocks by Kumi Yamashita

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Jesus is already ruling the world

I have been pondering a lot recently on how I think the world works.  I think I have overly bought in to the idea that how things look is how they are: that the people who govern bits of the world are the people truly in charge, that things will only change if people change them etc.  These things have a truth, but they miss the fact that God is on the throne!

The sermon below has been particularly influential in this.  It's part of a series on the Book of Revelation from First Baptist Church in Vancouver, entitled Things are not (only) as they seem.  The preacher is Darrell Johnson, who was lecturing at Regent College in the time Martin studied there.  I discovered him a couple of years back whilst working my way through all the plenary sessions of IFES World Assembly at Mexico, and have listened to one of his sermons most Sundays over the last year or two (his YouTube channel is here).



In it he makes the point that Christ is already on the throne and we are already reigning with him (in particular, via. our prayers).

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wahine Disaster 50th anniversary

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of New Zealand's worst shipping disaster: the sinking of the TEV Wahine.   This is a significant event in my family as my dad, Norman Wansbrough, was one of the members of the public who rescued survivors washed up on the Eastbourne coast.

For the 40th anniversary he wrote down some of his recollections of the day.  I have republished those below.  Underneath that are links to Radio New Zealand's coverage of the 50th anniversary (including various people's recollections of the day and historic audio and video), as well as photos taken by my parents at previous commemorations.

If you're not familiar with the story of the sinking of the Wahine you can read about what happened here and here.

My dad at the right, in Wahine Park in Mirimar a the 2013 commemoration

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

One month trial of high protein, low carbohydrate diet for CFS

In recent years there has been some research* indicating that the cells of people with CFS may not get energy from glucose as well as regular people do, but may still be able to derive energy normally from protein.  They didn't look at processing of fat (the other main thing we get energy from), although at least one other study indicates there may be issues there, too.

* this research is explained in more lay terms here and here.

With this in mind, I decided to do a six-week trial of a very high protein, very low carbohydrate diet.  If my body was functioning like the cells in the trial, this should give me more access to energy at a cellular level, which ought to translate to more perceived energy :-)  The idea was to be as strict as I could manage with this diet then, if it proved helpful, to gradually figure out how strict was necessary.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Some happy things :-)

Flowers from my friend Bridget who visited yesterday (I know her from high school) - also an Easter card and a just-because card from our neighbour Kathy.  Also, the purplish 'everlastings' to the left are from a bouquet Bridget gave me what must be at least a year ago!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fairly traded Easter eggs

Did you know that most Easter eggs on sale in New Zealand this Easter are made with cocoa that could well have been grown by slaves?  Who would want to support that?

Below are some ways you can get your Easter treats whilst helping your neighbours to flourish, instead of supporting those who enslave them!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

What can we do about microplastic in the ocean?

You have probably heard about the problem of microplastic in the ocean: tiny pieces of plastic, too small to see, that sea creatures mistake for plankton.  They eat it, filling their stomachs with inert bulk, starve and die.  There is little evidence that this microplastic concentrates up the food chain (and the only time you're likely to personally eat it is whilst eating shellfish), but killing off a swathe of the bottom of the food chain still is surely unhealthy for the ecosystem as a whole.  It is also pretty disrespectful to the God who made the oceans.

What can we do about this?

Later I give my reasons in some detail, but, in brief, I have come to think that the most effective things we in the West can do are:
  1. Drive less and always drive with well-inflated tyres and well-balanced wheels;
  2. Avoid wearing petroleum-based synthetic textiles such as polyester and poly cotton blends (and wash those we do wear less often).
We can also work towards change in areas we don't affect directly:
  1. Support charities that improve rubbish collection in the majority world and lobby aid donors such as NZAID to do the same;
  2. Lobby councils and the Ministry of Transport to install road surfaces that are less eroding of tyres;
  3. Lobby local councils to collect storm water and remove as much of the microplastic found there as possible.
Any one of these would have far more impact than bans on plastic microbeads, which are a negligible source of microplastics.

On the other, supporting bans on plastic bags may well be useful: I suspect that such light, easily-blown-away plastic items are likely to make up a significant part of the plastic not landfilled or recycled in NZ.  Participating in beach cleanups will also help prevent some of the items that didn't make it to a bin from entering the ocean.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Lectio divina

In January, I read a blog post by Lynne Baab on Lectio divina, an ancient practise of listening to God through reading scripture.  It was part of a series on listening to God in prayer (you can see the whole series at the end of this blog post).

At the time, I was aware that life had been more complicated than usual for a wee while.  I'd realised that, in response, I'd been praying and asking God for help quite a lot, but I'd been neglecting listening to God and seeking God simply for the sake of knowing him.  So this blog post came at an opportune time for me :-)

As Lynne describes it, lectio divina is a four-step meditation that can be used on any Bible passage.  Firstly you read it through slowly, looking for a word or phrase that stands out or 'shimmers'.  Then you re-read it, thinking about what the meaning of the whole passage is in the light of that word or phrase.  Thirdly you respond to God in regards to what you have seen, and lastly you wait quietly for anything he may have to say to you.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Some beautiful things

It's the time of year for Jerusalem artichokes and I'm greatly enjoying the flowers and the bumble bees they attract :-)

aren't they glorious?
And my moth orchid is still going strong (although with many fewer flowers after some wormy thing ate through lots of the stems...)


I'm also pleased with some cards I recently made:

The yellow and blue are glass paints on acetate.
The image was a reward given to my mum at Sunday school many years ago.  She came across a stash when they were moving house recently and I've kept a few and will be using the remainder on cards :-)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fair Trade 'Nutella'

Over the last year or two I've been working on a recipe for home-made Nutella.  I don't want to buy regular Nutella as it's made with cocoa bought on the open-market, some of which will have been grown by slaves.  I want my global neighbours to flourish, so try to always buy fairly traded cocoa.  However, I still want to have a chocolate hazelnut spread in the house as one of our regular visitors is very attached to it, and hospitality is important, too!  Having failed to find any fairly traded chocolate hazelnut spread in New Zealand*, it was time to figure out how to make my own :-)

*if you're in Australia and have this problem, try this: it's yummy, widely available and not even that expensive!



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Assisted Dying in New Zealand

Update: the submission deadline has been extended.  Submissions now close at midnight on Tuesday, March 6th.

A bill proposing to introduce assisted dying (i.e. voluntary euthanasia) is currently being considered by the Justice select committee of the New Zealand parliament.  Were this legislation to be passed into law, assisted dying would become available to anyone with a terminal condition who is expected to have less than six months to live, as well as to anyone with a grevous and irremediable medical condition.

I am against this and am in the process of writing a submission to the committee to say so.  Could I encourage you to do the same?  You can read information about the bill (along with some concerns about it) here or, if you're super-keen, read the full text of the bill here.  You can make your submission here.  Submissions close February 20th.  Parliament has prepared a guide on making submissions which you can read here.  You don't need to say anything more than whether you oppose or support the bill in question, although they prefer for you to give your reasons in moderate detail :-)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Holiday in Wellington

Straight after Christmas, Martin and I headed down for two weeks holiday in Wellington :-)

We were really pleased to discover that the airline allows disabled people to bring two mobility aids with them (not one as we previously thought), so I was able to bring my walker as well as my wheelchair.  We also worked out we could just fit my 'travel' bed lever and my brand new 'travel' shower stool into the standard baggage allowance, so they came along in a custom-built cardboard box Anna and Martin put together.  It all added up to a stupendous amount of stuff, but it was very nice not to have the hassle and expense of hiring everything down there :-)

Me with my mum at the airport - everything you see (except the airport's trolley) traveled on the plane with us!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Finding a National Radio programme you heard

From time to time, people ask me to find a programme on the Radio New Zealand website - perhaps a programme that they caught part of live but would like to hear in its entirety, or something they heard advertised but didn't catch live.  I've just put together a guide to explain how I go about finding those programmes on the website, so people can do it themselves if they want.

If that sounds like something that may be of interest to you, you can download it here.  It's a pdf.  And if you have any feedback on it, I'd love to hear from you :-)