Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My grandmother's garden.

My grandmother's garden is bathed in perpetual sunlight. In my mind it is always summer, hot piercing sun, shade a rare commodity, but cool and refreshing when found.

Vignettes, flashes, no whole story here, no narrative of A to B and what I found there. Just the memories of my grandmother's garden, as they come to me.

Sitting on the back steps, squeezed between the back and toilet doors, slippery macadamia nuts spilled out of their bag, and a hammer. Chasing the nuts with the hammer as they roll across, down the stairs, between the stairs, finally cracking one and picking the creamy flesh from between the shards of the shattered shell.

Back steps again, cold watermelon against my teeth, juice spattered down my tshirt, seed spitting contests across the tiles.

Cutting down the corn stalks, and learning the hard way that sucking corn sugar out of the stalks whilst sitting in the sun makes you really really nauseous.

Picking sunwarmed strawberries, tiny and juicy and when you bite into them it's like you're biting into summer, sweet and warm. Picking one for the table, one for me, one for the table, one for me, into the icecream bucket they go.

Climbing the mulberry tree in search of ripe mulberries, the smell of cut grass and compost coming from beneath your feet, rich and earthy. Being asked "Have you been eating mulberries?", shaking your head emphatically NO! while your purple teeth, lips, tongue and fingers betray your lie.

Being sent out to collect the salad - spiky leaves of borage, bitter leaves of roquette, a child's palate not suited to these strong tastes, wondering why anyone would want to eat them.

Standing under the cool of the lemon trees, inhaling the tang of the fruit, rubbing the leaves, hands now all citrussy and sharp.

Learning how to tell when passionfruit are ripe, deep purple and crinkled like an old woman's laughing face. Watching, fascinated, as the pulp is transformed into flummery, sweeter than anything on earth.

Making choko pickles, chokos plucked from the vine on the fence. Slice off the cap, and rub vigourously against the opposite cut flesh to rid the fruit of it's sap. The sap is sticky and stings, the job is arduous and boring, the end result better be worth it! And it is, pickles mustardy and bright yellow, choko flesh soft and tasteless.

Gooseberries, such as I have never seen again. The fruit is surrounded by fragile white leaves, rough against the skin. Yellow and sharp and tart, tiny seeds sticking in my teeth, eyes watering slightly when you eat a green one, too impatient to wait for it to ripen.

Hiding underneath the bushes out the front, just past the gooseberry bush, hidden and secret and shady. Buzzing of bees an accompaniment to the lazy afternoon, drowsy making.

Nursing a beesting, bare feet running through the yard caught unawares. Antiseptic vinegar, scent tickling my nose, rubbed gently against the wound.

Gathering the nectar from nasturtium flowers - pick them, bite off the funnel end, suck the liquid down. Be careful, ants like it as much as we do! Spitting out drowned ants, sickened but willing to try another one. Nasturtium flowers picked for salads, bright, surprising, petals soft and bruised. Making capers from nasturtium seeds, bitter and vinegary.

This is the garden of my childhood. A place of discovery and pleasure, a practical garden, joyful and blessed. A place to challenge and delight all of the senses.

My grandmother's garden is bathed in perpetual sunlight.

For Oma.

Monday, May 16, 2005

But what can we do?

I have tried, and failed, to write a piece about ethical living, and what lines we draw in the sand to ensure that we live as ethical a life as possible. Or, you know, maybe there are no lines in the sand, and the concept of "ethical lifestyle" is laughable and strange.

None of the ideas I was using flowed together the way that I wanted them to, so instead I will present a guide to some ways we can use our knowledge and cash to make the world a slightly nicer place...

Let's start with the scary stuff:

Ecological Footprint (link via Anne's Data)

An ecological footprint is an indicator of how many global hectares we take up, how much of the world we consume. Worldwide, there exists 1.8 biologically productive global hectares per person. These are my results:

Global hectares by category

Food 0.5
Mobility 0.2
Shelter 0.8
Goods/Services 1

Total footprint 2.5

In comparison, the average ecological footprint in your country is 7.6 global hectares per person.

If everyone lived like you, we would need 1.4 planets.


Now, the fun stuff:

Fair Trade

Cash crops have become the basis of farmer's earnings in developing countries. The major cash crops are sugar, coffee, tobacco and cocoa. Cash crops eat up the land that farmers had traditionally used for their own sustainable foods, and the monies that farmers receive for cash crops can be impacted negatively by fluctuations in the global commodity markets.

Buying Fair Trade products can help in ensuring that these farmers are protected and supported, and given an international voice.

There are five guarentees for products that have the Fairtrade mark:

1. The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees farmers a fair and stable price for their products

2. The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees extra income for farmers and estate workers to improve their lives.

3. The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees a greater respect for the environment

4. The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees small farmers a stronger position in world markets

5. The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees a closer link between consumers and producers

Fair Trade products can be purchased in Australia through Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, in their shops and online. My favourites are the Fair Trade coffee (extremely yummy!) and Green & Black chocolate and cocoa (which, for all the choc mad vegans out there, is mostly vegan friendly!! Try the Maya Gold...mmmm...).

No Sweat, Blackspot, Veganwares

There are No Sweat sneakers available at the Sydney Oxfam shop. I'm not sure if these have the Fairtrade Mark, but they are made in tune with, and the No Sweat company is managed from, the same basis of fair trade and support.

Adbusters created the Blackspot v1 as an anti-corporate, anti-logo AntiBrand. They've recently launched Blackspot v2, more of a boot than a sneaker.

Veganwares provide animal and environmentally friendly (and very cool) ranges of shoes, boots, sandals, belts...Their only Australian store is in Melbourne (you Melbournites get all the cool things!), but you can order online. I have a dream of going to Veganwares and buying enough different shoes and boots to last me the rest of my life. Sigh.

There you go. Some ways you can use your dollars to make a mite of difference in this indifferent world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Can't. Stop. Clicking. Too. Much. Rampant. Cuteness.

Okay, these days I spend way too much time online, but this game has to be the most addictive thing ever!!

If, of course, you like cats and think that they are cute. If you are cat phobic for any reason (allergy, unnatural hatred, bad taste, etc) then the statement above may not be true (apart from the "way too much time online" bit).

Let the Kitten Wars begin!!

....And never end...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The dark side of the Force is seductive.

It mocks me. Mockity mock mock it goes. Mockingly.

Yup. I'm talking about the Star Wars Episode III-Revenge of the Sith trailer, which I saw with Hitch Hikers (the less said about that, the better...) It mocks me, because despite the fact that I have been studiously avoiding the prequels, and swearing blind that no power in the 'verse could get me into a cinema to see any of them, the damn trailer gave me chills.

Chills, I tells ya.

I'm undecided as to whether I will fork out the cash to see it when it comes out - I haven't seen either of the other prequels and resent the "prettying up" of the originals. This interview with Simon Pegg, Kevin Smith and Edgar Wright did cause me to contemplate the merest possibility of entertaining the thought of going to the film, though.

In the meantime, I will direct your attention to The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster, to meet all of your Darth Vader needs.

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