Creating an urban homestead and news about life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I have decided to join Rhonda at Down to Earth in her challenge to give 3 gifts back to the earth this year, I hope I will continue with this forever, and I am sure that I will get used to living without these things.
I pledge to never again use a polystyrene cup, and to lobby the groups I am involved in to do the same. I will take my own cup if I plan to get takeaway coffee or do without. I will not buy disposable picnicware and I will not buy food packaged in polystyrene. This will require thinking ahead, going to the butcher as well as to the supermarket, but should be a fun challenge.
I Pledge to not accept a plastic bag, except where required to wrap meat. This will be harder I think as there are so many times you don't think about the plastic bag, eg Around the grapes at the supermarket, I am not sure if I will be able to cut out all plastic bags that are packaging on food, but I will attempt to do so. I have a friend who opens the supermarket packets after she pays for the items and pours the food into her own containers and gives the plastic back, I want to see if I can do this, but where possible I will shop at my local food co-op. It's only open once a month so this will be more difficult, and they have a very limited range.
I pledge to not buy bottled water. The energy costs in this are so extreme, when the water in our taps is more than adequate for drinking. I will not throw out the bottles I do have, but will refill them and use them rather than buy any new ones, and will use the nalgene type unbreakable plastic bottles that I have for hiking.
I want to continue to simplify my life and recognise that it is not an easy thing to do in a world where we are pushed to produce more waste. I will try and be accountable if I slip up and share any interesting events that occur in the pursuit of my gifts to the earth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Violet Sea Snails

I have been reading an amazing and inspiring book called COLOUR, a natural history of the palette by Victoria Findlay. It has been amazing to read as she traverses the globe seeking the natural sources of the colours that define the world we live in. The chapter I am reading at the moment is the one on Violet and it is amazing to read how these snails were found that exude purple pigment that can be used as a dye. Hundreds of years ago the women would send off their men with skeins of cotton to the coast of mexico to an island where these snails live. They would search for the snails then blow on them so that they release the pigment, smearing it on the cotton which turned green and then purple and then released the snail back to the sea.
At one stage a japanese company won the contract to collect the pigment, however when the locals found out they were killing the snails they caused such an uproar that the contract was cancelled and returned to the local men.
Some of the dyes and colours were so valuable that painters could only afford to use them if their patrons bought the dyes for them. Other colours were poisonous and caused the painters to become sick, but they were so passionate about achieving the right colour, that they continued using the paint regardless.
It was only very recently that synthetic dyes were discovered, but their relative cheapness has meant that almost all of the natural dyes are rare or extinct now. I remember as a child playing in the yard of my neighbours house, collecting the different coloured clays that were dug up as their pool was put in and making paint with them. They seemed somehow more special than the bright paints that came out of the tube. I would love to paint again with the ochres of the desert of Australia, creating the sunburnt land with colours that have been forged by the earth. I have done some natural dying of wool which was amazing, using different mordants to create greens and blues from barks of the eucalyptus trees that grow here in Australia.
Hmm, I think I might need to get out the paints. The world looks better when it's purple.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I've been away


I thought I would just explain my leave of absence for those who come to my blog. I am around, but life has been very hectic with the holiday period, some leave during which I led on a camp for highschoolers in my local area, ( and my mother starting her chemo therapy program. She has unfortunately discovered that the drug's ability to exacerbate the effects of exposure to the sun (some 20-30 fold) can in fact act retrospectively. She is now suffering from third degree burns to her shoulders, arms and legs as a result of a seaside stroll three days before her last batch of chemo. Please keep her in your prayers and thoughts, we are praying there will be no lasting damage on the use of her legs especially due to scarring, and tell people you know going through similar treatment to be careful.

I am looking forward to this saturday going to our local markets at Tomerong this weekend, doing some shopping and helping at the seed savers and the local organic food co-op through the day. It's a wonderful local market where there are lovely people to make friends with, food to eat and bargains to find, and a chance to talk to people about living sustainably, especially in regards to the food they eat. In seed savers we grow and save seed from heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruit in order to preserve their existence and also encourage people to grow varieties that thrive in the local climate. Our local group gives away seeds and seedlings grown from those seeds with donations welcomed, and helps people with questions that they have about their gardens. We are affiliated with the seedsavers network which was started by michael and judy Fanton and run courses and a seedback in northern new south wales, in Australia. Their handbook is a great resource for anyone interested in growing and saving seed, and also has instuctions on how to use some of the more unusual varieties. I can highly reccomend it. Does anyone have any unusual or rare species that they grow, perhaps we could do a swap? (unfortunately this would be geographically limited due to customs and quarantine restrictions.) I think I could swap with anywhere else in Australia but WA?? Correct me if I am wrong.

8 Things (Tagged)

8 Things I Am Passionate About
My relationship with God
My family
My friends
The young people I work with
Growing and cooking my own food
Encouraging those in my life to live more simply and more fully

8 Things I Want to Do Before I Die
Travel through Africa
Get married
Have Children
Own a stripey cow (or goat)
Write a novel
Have no regrets
Explore as much of Australia as I possibly can.

8 Things I Say Often
I love you
I miss you
You’re Cute
God loves you
The world is better when it’s purple
I think I need to go to the beach
So…How’s stuff?
Is anyone up for a bushwalk……insert word here

8 Books I've Read Recently
The bible
The o’Malley Series
Whitethorn (Bryce Courtney)
Mao’s Last Dancer
Burning up Eddy
Trauma and Recovery (for work)

8 Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over Again
To God be the Glory
How deep the father’s love for us
Amazing Grace
Healer (Mike Guglielmucci)
Probably most songs from musicals
Hallelujah Chorus
Calvary (Torniquet – I think)

8 Things that Attract Me to My Best Friends
Sense of Humour
They encourage me
They inspire me
They teach me things
That I can be myself with them
They value things that I value
They like me
They love God

8 People Who Should Totally Do This