Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some things never change

Ever noticed that babies and teenagers go along for the ride in much the same way?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Easter cards

Looking for a super-simple, fun Easter card starter? Have some ink pads handy?
I'm pretty sure I spotted this idea on a blog last year (apologies for not recalling which). Fingerprints easily become bunnies, chicks and Easter eggs. Use a pen and some colored pencils for a little enhancement, and voila!

Of course, enhancement is entirely optional, as my 3 year old knows. If you have eight pastel ink pads to choose from, it might just be that fingerprints are the thing...and you don't mess with the thing.

Unless you want to, of course. An artist is always free to change her mind.

Happy making, everyone!

Monday, March 28, 2011

How To Give Your Spouse Insomnia

Last Saturday, I went to my first-ever full body acupuncture session. I have been curious about it for a long while, so Hubby had given me a gift certificate for full body acupuncture and shiatsu massage as a Christmas present. It took me this long to make an appointment. The place is busy. Also, there's the factor of my nerves and lots of little needles.

I'm not sure how the appointment went, to be honest. I didn't like the practitioner. He was very short on conversation (explained absolutely nothing about what he was going to do and why) and a bit rough. Rough with needles is not a good combo. I was mostly doing all right (despite our personality mismatch) until one particular needle went into my back with searing pain that brought tears to my eyes. I tried to downplay how freaked out it made me feel (it burned and burned and HURT even though he removed it right away), but there's only so much one can do when one's back and legs are full of little needles. His response was very unsatisfactory. He said, "I guess if I chopped your leg off, you would have less pain response than one little needle." WHAT?

Long story short (too late), I went home teary with a burning sensation in my back and a great sense of unease. I lay in bed the next night, still trying to make sense of what happened when a disturbing idea popped into my brain: what if he had injected something into my back? That needle felt just like a painful shot, the hurt of the needle going in, the spreading burning sensation radiating from the site... I know I've probably seen too many movies, but the thought, so horrific, wouldn't go away. I sought comfort in my very-sleepy husband, admitting the crazy idea which sounded even crazier out loud. I expected him to tell me how mad it was, console me and reassure me that I just had a rough experience, etc. Instead, he said,

"Well, if you think that's what happened, that's probably what happened. You never know."

Then, he started snoring. Apparently, he was already asleep.
Thank you for that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baa Baa Barbaric (?)

The air around my house reeks of animal excrement, and it is not emanating from the garden; it is coming from the nearby port at Fremantle. The stench has gotten so overpowering that I have had to shut all the doors and windows. The weather is hot and moderately humid, the air is still, and the smell is thickly carried from the cargo ship docked in the harbor, loaded with sheep for live export.

Last year, I spotted signs around Perth shouting the slogan:

Baa Baa Barbaric: Stop Live Animal Export

Given the current stench in the air, I am inclined to agree.

Even seeing those ships empty is disturbing, level after level of cage bars, who knows how many deep or across. I don't eat much meat, but when I do, as with all our food, I like to keep the source as local as possible. From what I understand, these sheep are shipped to the Middle East and Indonesia. They can be onboard in tight cages exposed to the elements for up to 3 weeks. The smell has been telling me about their presence in the harbor for at least the past two days. The conditions must be abysmal.

It is difficult to consider this issue in a fully rational way. I try to understand the perspective of the farmers, the importers and exporters...but I can't get past the thought that humanely slaughtered and rapidly frozen meat would be a far better option for import/export. What do I mean by "better"? More humane, healthier, better quality meat...I imagine. I cannot imagine that I would want to eat mutton that comes from a sheep in these live export conditions as opposed to sheep direct from the farm to the local slaughterhouse, shipped frozen to my country far away. I can't imagine the price difference would be the reconciling factor, though I can understand the preference for what appears to be fresh meat, slaughtered by your known local butcher. If the problem is purity, wouldn't it be fairly simple to conduct HALAL certification onsite before slaughter/freezing/shipping? Hmm.

I have lived in the Middle East. I know the food culture involves a lot of lamb, perhaps a lot of mutton, parading as lamb. Perhaps sheep from ships like these. I wonder if the average consumer considers how it got there (or if they even care). Are the sheep shot full of antibiotics to help them survive the journey? Are the majority of the animals in reasonable health after the trip? What is the level of ammonia in the meat? I don't know the answers to these and other questions. I haven't looked into it. I don't plan on becoming an activist, but the smell currently makes the issue hard to ignore. I'm not so sure I should ignore it in the first place.

Any thoughts on the issue of live exports?

After writing this up, I felt I should drive over to Freo and snap some photos of the ship so you could see for yourself. As luck would have it, the ship got underway as I typed. By the time I drove over, the only shots I could get with my little point-and-shoot were from quite a distance (it's the ship furthest to the left).

You can see that the sheep are transported on a cargo ship. What looks containers from this distance are the cages I described. Given the size, you can only guess how many sheep might be onboard.

I'm not trying to start some kind of morality battleground over this, but an open-minded discussion would be most welcome.

Have you considered this issue before?
Do you have some new facts to throw in the file?
Even if this topic is new to you, what are your thoughts?