Sunday, May 30, 2010

Something to celebrate- Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned

In a completely unexpected turn of events, the president of Malawi Bingu wa Mutharika, officially pardoned the gay couple who got sentenced to 14 years in prison a couple of weeks ago. Miracles doth happen.

They were immediately released from prison, following a visit to the president from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. The president still said that homosexuality was illegal and not part of Malawian culture, but that Tiwonge and Steven were released on humanitarian grounds. The country has been criticized by international groups, celebrities like Madonna and Elton John and foreign countries.

Although the news was not met with great cheers from most Malawians it may just be the start of some much needed change in the country. And one can only hope this kind of change will spread to other African countries like Zimbabwe and Uganda and further into the continent.

* Full article at the New York Times

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Take me back to your house- my future home?

Our flight to Taiwan is booked. On July 1st, late at night, we will be landing on my favorite island in the world. We're trying to sort out work and accommodation to some extent before we get there. I'm not doing so well on the former, but on the housing front things are looking up.

We fantasized about having an old second story flat above a shop in downtown Hsinchu, but knew that was kind of unlikely to happen. So we were preparing to settle for a typically bland Taiwan-style apartment— lots of white paint, tiles and neon light fixtures. The best we could hope for was to have it some place near the hills with a view of bamboo forest or that it would have a decent enough balcony to have a garden on.

But then, through some sifting through facebook, I got the email address of a person whose family has created a hip and organic community in the mountains close to town on what used to be a family farm some 20 years ago.

The community is called Casa Chile and it consists of various buildings with different styles of housing. There's plenty of lawn (a rare sight in Taiwan) and the property is surrounded by natural forest, hills and bamboo groves.

Six kinds of structures make up the accommodation with some of them in apartment styles with shared cooking facilities and some private apartments with more bedrooms. And it is not all hippy-like. Not at all. All the buildings are hip and stylish, some have small wooden patios with lawn views, others have views of the bamboo groves. One of the buildings have Japanese-style bathrooms in the apartment. Awesome!

Just the idea of living almost in the city but not and having a place that is stylish and fun was tempting. But then I discovered that the owners will be making some small plots available to tenants who wish to have their own gardens. Here you can plant veggies, fruit and herbs as long as it's organic. And...and...and... you can keep a hen for egg laying purposes! Ah yeah I think I am ready to sign that lease now!

We're hoping to find a place at Casa Chile. It might be a bit further from work and town, but I will gladly deal with driving the distance if it means I can return home to a sunny patio, some weeding and harvesting and watching my hen peck at chopped carrot tops. From my own garden.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I desire- a hairless cat.

It's been years, YEARS since I've had a cat. My last cat traveled from Taiwan to South African in 2005 and has been living with my parents ever since. Not long after I met Alexander (not a pet person) and we've been doing too much travel to justify getting a pet.

But I really miss having one and whenever I see a cat, any cat, I get all gushy and nag Alexander for one. The answer is always no. I'm not picky about what cat we get. All the cats I've ever owned in my thirty-odd years, six, were stray cats and they were all pretty awesome. So I don't mind picking up a stray one from the SPCA again or taking an abandoned kitty home.

But I can't help but be very intrigued by these hairless cat species. I know I know. They are pretty unattractive. But adorable don't you think? I saw one on The Real Housewives of New York (judge as much as you like) and it was all scratching up against a box. A-do-ra-ble.

I totally desire a hairless kitty. I read that since they're not too fuzzy they get cold easily so they luck to cuddle. And they like getting under the covers with you and sleep all close to you. Totally my kind of kitty!

Anybody know of someone with a litter let me know!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Entertaining 'cause it's Spring

When we arrived in the US early April I was disappointed to discover that it was not really spring yet. For some reasons I thought everything would be green and we'd be enjoying some glorious sunny days with the occasional spring shower. Instead we encountered dry winds and dust and even a freakishly late case of freezing temperatures and snow in the foothills.

But now that it's late May I think it's safe to say spring has sprung! The spinach I planted on the day it snowed survived and I used some in breakfast yesterday, the day lilies in the garden are making buds again and we enjoy our afternoon coffee on the back patio. Glorious!

To celebrate spring Alexander and his sister decided we should have a dinner this past Wednesday with each of us contributing a dish that seemed spring-y.

We started the evening with rosemary gin fizz cocktails. They're actually supposed to be a Christmas drink, but sounded light and fun enough for the sunny days we've been enjoying.

For starters I prepared a frisee salad with some roasted mushrooms and radishes tossed with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg. Lovely!

Olivia prepared the main dish, a pan-seared halibut on a bed of green beans and topped with a tomato and caper sauce. Delizioso!

For dessert we enjoyed a decadent ricotta tart with strawberry and rhubarb jam that Alexander made. Everything from scratch, even the ricotta! I know I know, I married well.

I hope you're enjoying your spring, those of you in the northern hemisphere. For those in the southern hemisphere, happy autumn/fall!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chill, vegetarians

We have two very good, very devoted vegan and vegetarian friend sand I've never heard them say anything unfriendly or judging about non-vegetarians. And that's just one of the many reasons why we love you Sarah and Tanya!

But over the past year I've encountered a couple of people and some comments by some vegetarians/vegans aimed at us meat-eaters that reeked of self-righteousness. Stinks really. Soy-bean farts actually.

Yes I'm in a bad mood. Homo's in Africa is being imprisoned and threatened with execution and Bangkok is burning down and vegetarians are being all judge-y like. I'm allowed.

Here's the thing. If you're going all vegetarian and you don't eat and live 100% responsibly then you have no right to point any fingers. Do you eat canned products? Do you eat imported plant produce? Do you drive a car rather than take the bus? Do you recycle everything in your home? Is the wine you're drinking organic? Or the beer? Or the vodka? Do you drink organic fair-trade coffee? Are the soy milk you enjoy in your coffee from a small-scale local organic farm? What kind of laundry detergent do you use? Where are your clothes from? Do you have solar panels on your roof? If you have a garden do you compost? Do you buy local? If you are in a position to have children are you considering adoption or are you adopting? Are you living 100% responsibly?

I'm trying to live responsibly and, unlike someone suggested, it's not because of a move towards a vegetarian diet. Eating and living responsibly has become a lifestyle choice for us over the past few years just because it seems like a smarter, healthier and friendlier way of living. It was a conscious decision and we try to stick to it as much as possible.

We eat less meat, we go through weeks without eating meat without thinking about it. It just happens. When we buy meat and eggs we try to get free-range meat. We try to buy organic and fair trade products. We tend to make our own tomato sauces rather than buying canned products. We look forward to someday living in a city where we can rely on public transport instead of having to get a car. I know that living organic in Taiwan is harder than in the US, but we are already seeking out better options. And thinking of rather supporting wet markets than big stores.

We are lucky too that we can afford this lifestyle and I am aware of the fact that too many people in the world are not able to do so. And for that I blame huge corporations who just do not care about the health of people and the world but only about profit.

If you're a vegetarian then well-done to you and I respect your lifestyle. If you're doing it responsibly even more power to you. But don't run around trying to guilt non-vegetarians. Few things are more annoying than self-righteousness.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I desire- an issue of Pinups

Somehow I stumbled onto this magazine yesterday while trashing all over the web. Pinups, in a word, is just awesome. It's a new publication with no words, only pictures of what seems to be mostly hairy guy types with very little clothing on just hanging out. Once you've paged through and enjoyed your issue you can take it apart and tile it into a poster. In the end you have a 70" by 30" pinup!

There's been 11 issues so far, it comes out three times a year, and the 12th will be out soon. Feel free to send me the most recent one or any of the ones that are not sold out (5-11).

If you want to see an example of the centerfold go to the Pinups website. Be warned it's NSFW, but lots of fun :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Malawian Gay Couple Found Guilty

In a very sad, but to be expected, turn of events on my home continent the gay Malawian couple I blogged about some months ago- Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza- were found guilty of gross indecency and unnatural acts. They face up to 14 years in prison.

I am trying my utmost not to swear and use profanities in this post. Feel free to do so in your comments though.

A full article, Gay Couple Convicted in Malawi is available on the New York Times website and I ask you to read the whole thing. Here's some of it:

Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa, in delivering Tuesday’s judgment in a small courtroom in Blantyre, the country’s commercial capital, was similarly stern. He referred to the crime as “buggery,” using language from when Malawi was a British colony and the current law was written.

He found both men guilty of “carnal knowledge” that was “against the order of nature.” He said the two had been “living together as husband and wife,” which “transgresses the Malawian recognized standards of propriety.”

As the judgment was translated for them from English into Chichewa, the defendants barely flinched. Then they were hastened out of a back door, escaping a taunting crowd that already was celebrating their conviction.

Yup, they were convicted under a law that dates back to the Colonial days. It's funny how quick they are to point out how un-African (or Malawian) homosexuality is, but then find them guilty under a law written by non-Africans. Who in the meantime, luckily, came round.

Keep them in your thoughts. Here's a petition to sign against the trial. More info over here.

Oh whatever, fuck this shit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Corn Syrup, get the facts

I've been watching the last one of these on a loop since Alexander showed it to me this afternoon. For the full effect he showed me these actual ones first and then the parody. Watch at least one of them or all three, then check out the parody. Hilaaaaarious!

Only a couple more days till Betty White lights up SNL!

I cannot wait until Saturday for my favorite Golden Girl to host SNL. Only 5 more sleeps. I forget about this I'm gonna be pissed. Must remember to put sticky notes up everywhere because it is the kind of thing I might forget.

Feel free to send me regular reminders till Saturday!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I desire- a pet hen

There is a new urban trend that I've been hearing of lately and I am totally falling for it. It seems that more and more people are raising chickens as pets for their egg-laying abilities. I've seen whole pages in newspapers devoted to the topic, books are published about raising your own and people are discussing the trend online in forums.

The first time I started thinking about raising some chicks was after I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I love the idea of hens clucking around a yard, ridding it of bugs, and providing you with a supply of your own eggs. And now I am bombarded with articles and books about keeping them in your own backyard, making me really desire a hen to call my own.

Of course we don't have a house with a backyard and chances are we won't have on for a really long time. Our next home is going to be an apartment in Taiwan which would hopefully have a balcony, but you can't keep a hen cooped in on some small balcony all the time, that would just be cruel.

So now I'm wondering, would it be possible to keep a pet hen in an apartment? Could I toilet train her and have her walk around the house and then take her to the park on a leash everyday to scrub and peck and amuse onlookers? I've seen people with pet pigs on leashes in Taipei, could I do the same with a hen?

* There are some really cute coops on Making it Lovely.
** The picture is from Chicken Cribs. You can order these beauties from them if you want to keep a hen at home.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another week on the web

1) I totally have the hots for the large-ish redhead- OMG
2) Yet more reasons to move back to Taiwan from EatingAsia
3) Absolutely gorgeous things at Mon Petite Fantome
4) Love the food and love-love-love the styling in this post- Cooking Books
5) Make your own truffles? I think I just might- Dana Treat
6) Go around the world in seconds- Pret a Voyager
7) You did not just say that- Kenneth in the (212)
8) Dreamesh is playing house. Envy!
9) Lotta provides inspiration for all. I love it- Wisecraft
10) I want more- Primitive Culture
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