Posts

Showing posts from 2019

Sabbath-keeping and care-casting

Life has been feeling very relentless recently: I'm pressured by lots of Just Kai possibilities, there's various complicated people things going on, and I'm still learning to manage my different (and much less predictable) energy levels.  But I wanted to share something I started doing about two months ago that's made a huge difference: Sabbath keeping.

A birthday, family, sadness and spring growth

Image
Last Sunday was my birthday.  I had some friends over for afternoon tea, but didn't take any photos of that - instead, here's the living room decorated before they came :-)



My Aunty Elspeth and cousin Karlene were also visiting Auckland that weekend.  Here they are with Martin at the Oakley Creek waterfall (although they're looking at the waterfall, so it's not visible in the photos).  It was neat to share something so special to me with people who appreciated it so much :-)



Then on Monday morning a friend from university, Rachel, who'd been ill with a heart condition for some time (she'd been ill with it her whole life, in a way, but much worse recently) died in her sleep. Here's Rachel (at the front - it's Jo at the back) at our place for my birthday a few years back.  She was a kind person who was good at noticing people and watching out for them - I will very much miss her and I expect many others will, too.


And spring has come.  Here's the view …

When life sends you lemons ;-)

Image
A bit over a week ago we were in Te Aroha, on holiday with Martin's aunty and uncle.  Their lemon tree was hugely laden with fruit and they sent us home with a big bag :-)  I already had plenty of lemon juice and zest in the freezer, so wasn't initially sure what to do with them.  In the end I made a few jars of Moroccan preserved lemons and a batch of lemon and grapefruit sauce - some for me and some of which will be Christmas presents.


I love the vibrant yellow in the jars :-)

Things I'm learning as life gets rather busy

I've become really busy with Just Kai stuff in the last wee while.  In particular, I recently spoke at two events two weeks apart, followed by speaking with my local MP a few days after the second speaking engagement.  I also managed to get quite a bad cold over that busy period and am now on prednisone to try and clear my lungs and antibiotics to kill the bugs from a secondary bacterial infection.  Life's feeling exciting, but also not hugely sustainable.

I've been thinking a lot about how to respond to all this.  On the one hand, I firmly believe that God healed meso that I can do this work.  So just ditching it doesn't feel like a good option.  But it also all feels like a bit much and I don't believe God wants me to burn out, either.

What to do?

Speaking about Just Kai at Ponsonby Baptist

Sunday nearly two weeks ago I spoke about my Just Kai research at Ponsonby Baptist.  I've written that up on the Just Kai blog here - click through for a few photos as well as a video of the actual presentation kindly compiled by Tim Bulkeley.

A lovely Saturday

Martin and I had a lovely day on Saturday.

In the morning, we went to visit our friend Andrea for breakfast at her place in New Lynn.  Getting there involved initially biking along Ash Street (which is pretty busy and not that pleasant) but then taking a cycle way through Ken Maunder Park.  That bit was really nice - biking along the edge of the Whau and seeing mangroves and ducks, and going across a fun bridge where they'd given the metal decking a grippy surface by embossing it with a repeating pattern of slightly cartoonish numbers :-)  We could have talked all day once we got there (although settled for simply making Andrea late for her next appointment...) and are keen to catch up again before too long.  On the way back we passed kids playing Saturday morning soccer at the the Lynn Avon club, then stopped at the Avondale library to pick up some more violin sheet music for me :-)

In the afternoon we went to the Hollywood theatre in Avondale to watch Inna de Yard, which was sh…

God saving people because other people are righteous

I've grown up with the idea that "God doesn't have grandchildren": if you want to be 'saved' you personally need to repent and ask God for help.  You can't rely on your parents' salvation or, indeed, on anything else.  Recently I've been wondering how Biblical this is.

On plastic straws and lollipop sticks

Image
I'm going for a walk twice a week at the moment, mostly around Oakley Creek and the neighbouring streets and shared path.  As I walk, I pick up rubbish: I ignore things that will biodegrade reasonably quickly, but gather most of the plastic, metal and glass that I see.

I have noticed that I seem to pick up similar numbers of plastic straws and plastic lollipop sticks.  These seem similar to me in terms of environmental harm: if a straw can get stuck in a turtle's nostril, surely so can a lollipop stick?  So why do I see frequent calls for a straw ban (and bans already enacted in many places overseas), yet never a call for a plastic lollipop stick ban?

Living in the jungle :-)

Image
Friends of ours are overseas at the moment and have asked me to care for their houseplants while they are away.  I ended up putting them all in our bedroom: I'm rather enjoying living in the jungle!


The 'bearcam' that I've watched in recent years is live again now, too, and I'm loving it.  There are currently six cameras live, giving different views of Brooks River, the salmon swimming up it and the bears catching them.  Today I had a lot of fun watching a mum with three yearling cubs (i.e. ones born last year) spend half and hour or so at the lower river.


If you'd like to join in the fun, the feeds are here.  Having so many feeds running at once might slow your computer down - if that happens you can click on the 'Youtube' logo at the bottom left of the feed of your choice.  That will open that camera's feed in a separate tab on your browser and you can close the main page down.  I find it helpful to open the comments feed in a separate tab - click…

Bits and pieces

Image
It's been a while since I wrote anything here. Life has been quite busy and there hasn't been much time to reflect - which, on the whole, I don't think is ideal! I've been particularly busy with the Just Kai stuff. It's still small-scale really, but Just Kai does seem to be taking off: more than a quarter of the people who are now following that on Facebook are people I don't know, plus I've recently been asked to speak at a friend's church and to figure out Just-Kai-compliant catering for a conference next year :-)
But it's been busier than I really want, so I've decided to take this week and next 'off'. I'm not going to be generating any more Just Kai information (although I did answer one query that turned into a blog post over there) - instead, I'll be catching up on myself a bit and resting :-)
I'm still struggling to manage my energy these days and have 'crashed' twice so far this week. I kept things a lot qu…

Slave- and child-labour free fish oil/omega 3s

Image
Some months back our neighbour asked me if the cod liver oil she takes is slave free.  It’s been a bit of a challenge to find an answer, but I now have good news and bad news.  The bad news?  I'm not confident the brand she’s been taking is slave free.   But the good news? I’ve identified two other brands I'm confident are :-)

As well as looking into cod liver oil, along the way I looked into all major brands of fish oils and omega 3 supplements I found for sale either in supermarkets or online pharmacies.  You can read our detailed findings here.




It turns out this is a pretty complicated area from a human welfare point of view.   Most brands were keen to tell me about their quality standards and environmental standards, but it seemed few had seriously considered human welfare standards in their supply chain.   And the supply chains aren’t trivial to trace: fish oils are usually made from what’s left over after higher value parts of the fish have been removed…

Formalising Just Kai

Martin and I have been working hard on the Just Kai website in recent weeks.  We're wanting to break the 'Just Kai' work off from this personal blog now that people I don't know are showing such an interest in it.   I had nearly 3000 views on the 2019 Easter egg post - but I'm not going to retain those people if they have to wade through heaps of random things about my personal life to get to the content they're after!

I will continue to link my big fish research articles here, but if you'd like to be alerted to smaller, more regular updates, subscribe to the Just Kai blog here.  The latest post is my speech from the Fairfield Conference, which went online today :-)

My buying guides for fish, cocoa and sugar have also been collected there: from now on, those are the ones that will be updated, rather than the versions on this blog.

I've also set up a Facebook page for Just Kai.  I'll mainly use that to promote the blog articles, although it may also…

More milestones :-)

No photos, but I'm quite excited by a few recent developments.

As of Tuesday of last week, I'm playing the violin again :-)  I'd been doing physio exercises to strengthen my back so I'll be strong enough to play it, and I decided the time had come.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but it went reasonably well.  Since then I've done at least 10 minutes practise every weekday, working away at Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring.  It's going well and I've ordered some more sheet music from the library to be going on with :-)

Also, on Friday and Sunday I rode my bike to places I needed to get to, as opposed to just riding it for exercise.  On Friday I rode to the GP for a blood pressure check (it's been a bit high and they want to check it weekly for the next wee while to keep an eye on it) and on Sunday I rode to church.  Both are about 1.5km from home (if that), so it wasn't a huge ride, but neat to be using a bike for transport again :-)

When I started s…

Citrus leaves

Image
I've recently learned something super-cool: all citrus leaves are edible!

I've long known that kaffir lime leaves are edible (and widely used in Thai cuisine), but I'd assumed there was something special about them.  But no!  The essential oils that are present in the zest of citrus fruit are also in the leaves, so grapefruit leaves taste like grapefruit, lemon leaves like lemon etc.

You don't generally eat them as such: you infuse the flavour then discard the leaf, just like with bay leaves.  So you can pour boiling water over the leaves and drink them as tea; simmer in stews, curries or milky puddings; wrap meat in them before baking (apparently salmon wrapped in lemon leaves is super-yum) or even put a layer of leaves in the bottom of the pan when you're baking a cake and let the flavour infuse up through the batter.


I'm sick

I've got some kind of cold/flu thing and have mostly been in bed since Friday last week (that's 8 days now).  I keep on thinking I'm getting better (and yesterday even walked a circuit of our street with Martin) but then I don't.  I have a yucky, gunky cough and runny nose, my head is fuzzy and I just want to sleep.

Martin probably caught the same thing, but he only had one and a half days off work earlier this week.

Maybe periods of illness like this will also be part of my new normal?  I can think of a number of occasions in the distant pre-CFS past where I had 1-2 weeks in bed with a virus or tummy bug.  Now that I'm out in public more again (and now that my immune system is no longer in the hyperactive state CFS likely put it in) maybe that will be how it is again.

Holiday in Whangarei

Image
On Easter Monday, Martin and I jumped on the bus and headed up to Whangarei to visit his parents for the week :-)

Happenings

Image
There's been a lot going on lately!

Two and half weeks ago, our street celebrated Neighbours Day:

Vegan marshmallow Easter eggs

Image
I've nailed a new Easter egg recipe.  After ludicrously extensive experimentation, I bring you: vegan marshmallow Easter eggs!


This is part of an ongoing quest to love our neighbours as ourselves.  Working conditions in the cocoa industry are terrible and child labour is common.  We want to love our neighbours in far-off cocoa-growing regions by ensuring they have what they need to flourish: a living wage, safe working conditions and, if they're kids, the opportunity to go to school.  But we also want to love our nearby neighbours by showing them hospitality.  For our vegan neighbours at Easter, that means hand-making vegan Easter eggs using fairly traded chocolate, as vegan fairly traded Easter eggs are otherwise very hard to come by.

Fairly traded Easter eggs 2019

Image
Did you know that at least 20% of the Easter eggs on sale in New Zealand this Easter will be made with cocoa grown by kids who are kept out of school to work?  Kids who commonly work 12 hour days and are frequently beaten.  Who would want to support that?

Fortunately, you don't have to!  Below are some ways you can get your Easter treats whilst helping your neighbours to flourish :-) - the list can also be downloaded as a pdf here.
Fairtrade certifiedUTZ-certifiedEgg-like optionsCocoa-freeOnes to watch out forMake your own!

Mokoroa Falls

Image
Yesterday Martin and I went for a wee tramp with my long-standing tramping buddies Anna and David.  It was super-nice to be doing something like that again!  We did the Mokoroa Falls Track: one of the few tracks in the Waitakere Ranges still open (most are closed to try and prevent Kauri dieback, but this one has been resurfaced and is apparently OK).  It was about 4km of walking and, whilst most of it was on a very well-formed track or was stairs, around the bottom of the actual falls there was a bit of scrambling to be done.  It was fun!

Fairfield Conference 2019

Image
Three weeks ago Martin and I, along with our friend Anna, attended the Fairfield Conference: a conference trying to encourage social justice through ethical trade.  We had a table there for Just Kai and I also gave a talk.

A long way to go

Image
I thought it was time for a bit of an update...

It's a funny time at the moment.  I started seeing a physio about 6 weeks ago, since then exercise has been my main occupation every weekday morning.  He has me doing various strength-type exercises each morning (some 5 days a week, others two or three), plus twice a week I go for a walk for an hour or so and twice a week I go for a bike ride.  The bike riding's been a bit of a shock to the system!  At the beginning I could only go the length of our driveway a couple of times but I'm now doing just under 4km (which takes me 15 minutes) and I'm hoping to be cycling for transport a bit before too long.

In one sense, I've definitely made enormous progress in the past 4 1/2 months.  My physical abilities have gone through the roof.  This is my graph of how many steps I'm averaging per day (the numbers are the average of the two weeks leading up to that day - my steps are very variable per day, so averages make it easi…

Thoughts after yesterday's shooting

Image
I saw a video today that I found this sobering, but it also seemed to reflect well some uncomfortable things I've been thinking about this morning.  I can't see how to post it directly, but if you're on Facebook you can see it here.  It's an Australian speaking, but I don't think things are all that different here.


I'm white and I grew up here.  New Zealand doesn't feel racist to me.  But I have two friends, people of colour who have moved here after living in quite a few other countries, and they say they've never experienced racism anywhere like they experience here.  And one of them has lived in France, which I tend to think of as pretty racist, and they've both lived in England.

I also (occasionally) hear Kiwi Christian leaders making statements near-identical to those quoted in the middle of this video.

I don't know exactly how, but I do feel like people like me are part of the problem.

Whilst I don't think we've had violence on thi…

Preparing for Easter

From Martin, for the church newsletter this week. Easter may seem far distant today, but in my experience it often turns up before I've really noticed.  Palm Sunday gives me some warning, but life is busy and before I realise it's Good Friday.  
Many Christian traditions practise a season of preparation for Easter, known as Lent.  The word Lent means many things to many people, but as a Baptist with no Lenten tradition I have quietly picked up two ideas that give my heart time to feel the vibe.
My first goal is a daily reading plan following Jesus as he walks towards the cross.  The internet (or your Bible app) offers many plans for the Western Lenten timeframe - 40 days, skipping Sundays.  Those will start this Wednesday, if you wanted to choose one yourself.  Palm Sunday is another good time to start, reading day by day.
I also try to go without some small nice thing that I would have every day or so.  This jars my memory and points my mind to Jesus stepping a…

So many flowers!

Image
I've been loving all the flowers around me recently!

Neighbours Day is coming!

Image
Neighbours Day is coming up in around 6 weeks.  This is an excellent opportunity to get to know the people who live near you and help them to get to know each other.  If you're not already, could you consider doing something in your neighbourhood?


Oakley Creek with Michaela

Image
Yesterday we introduced our niece, Michaela, to Oakley Creek :-)


Vegan ice cream and frozen desserts

Image
I spent a lot of last winter devising vegan ice cream recipes: mostly to put together a recipe book for our niece for Christmas, but also for our own use.  Why?  Although we're not vegan, we've cut back a fair bit on dairy consumption in recent years for the sake of our neighbours who are most at risk from climate change.  Dairy products are nothing like as bad for the climate as meat, but they're a lot worse than eggs or plant-based protein so we try to restrict them a bit.  Also, I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable about all I'm hearing about the treatment of bobby calves in the dairy industry, and do wonder from time to time about giving up dairy entirely.

The internet is full of vegan ice cream recipes - however, I wasn't that satisfied with them.  Most are based on either bananas, coconut milk or cashew nuts.  Both bananas and coconut milk have quite strong flavours - that's fine if those are the flavours you're after, but they do limit your o…

On not being 'there' yet

For some years I have listened most Sundays to a sermon by Darrell Johnson.  I have appreciated his practical applications and the way he so explicitly draws his points from the text at hand; I also appreciate the rich background information he links me to.

He is now retired and I have finished his back catalogue on YouTube, but I found that his church, First Baptist in Vancouver, Canada, publishes all their sermons online.  Last year I appreciated their series on Colossians.  Today I had intended to go to my own church, but was too tired and ended up staying home.  I've listened to all the recent sermons on my own church's website so I turned back to First Baptist and listened to the first sermon in their series Why Jesus says He came.  It was called The Preteen Jesus.

Accessibility

Yesterday I had a GP check up followed by a blood test on the way home.  It's the first time in many years that I've been to the blood test place - since I got sick, all my blood tests have been home visits.

I was pretty shocked by what I saw.

Over these past years I've thought a lot about accessibility as I've more and more come to see myself as a person with a disability.  I think the blood test place was very 'accessible' if you limit that word to meaning 'wheelchair accessible'.  However, I live in an area with a high migrant population, and I was shocked by how inaccessible it was for someone not that fluent in written English.

A bit of an update

Image
Life is a bit of a rollercoaster at the moment.  I'm doing way more than I used to and I'm so enjoying having so much more people contact and so much more independence.  So many things that I used to find hard are easy now.  For all that I do a lot of sewing, I've always hated cutting projects out - the concentration was really difficult and I was always battling through so much pain as I leaned on weird angles to do it.  But last Tuesday I had a project to cut out and it was so unexpectedly relaxing and kind-of meditative that I ended up cutting out my next project immediately after as well!  I'm also ever-so-much less sensitive to noise, light, sounds and smells, which is awfully convenient :-)