Guest Blog Post: Save the bees and the farmers by Stella, oh, Stella


Thank you, Freeimages, for this bee-utiful photo!

Bees — including the tiny not-so-flamboyant ones easily mistaken for pests — need global support. The most important step is to minimize poison in our lawns, gardens, and farms.

Here Birgit of Germany, who blogs from Denmark at Stella, oh, Stella and has been our guest here and here, tells us about the bee-utiful activism of India’s lauded environmentalist Vandana Shiva — which we can all learn from, wherever we live…

Vandana Shiva: photo by Elke Wetzig (Elya) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

“Save the bees and the farmers: Vandana Shiva becomes protectress of this citizens‘ initiative” by Stella, oh, Stella

The European citizens‘ initiative, “Save bees and farmers,“ just got prominent support!

The winner of the alternative Nobel Prize, Vandana Shiva, has officially assumed patronage of the initiative. We are calling for a gradual EU-wide ban on chemical-synthetic pesticides, measures for the recovery of biodiversity, and an EU agricultural policy that supports farmers in sustainable farming.

During her lecture tour through Bavaria, the Indian scientist and seed activist publicly declared her support for the campaign:

“If we don’t save the bees and insects, the farmers will also be lost. But we are also fighting for our next generation with the initiative. With great pleasure, I, as a godmother, will make an active contribution to making the European Citizens‘ Initiative a wake-up call to politicians in Europe to finally be consistent and courageous. “

Europeans — join Vandana Shiva by signing the European Citizens‘ Initiative now. Almost 160,000 people have participated. If we can collect a million votes across Europe by the end of September 2020, the EU Commission is legally obliged to deal with our demands. Can you help us save bees and farmers?

Everyone else — please do what you can to protect, to educate, and to get the word out!

How important do you think it is to protect bees?

A plea and a solution for food sellers by da-AL


My dear blog reader, if you or anyone you know agrees with the letter below, won’t you please share it, hashtag it, copy/paste it, add your name to it, and do whatever you like to get the basic sentiment out there? (And read on for an additional message to you that follows it.)

Dear Trader Joe’s, as well as other grocery stores and processed food manufacturers,

Food, glorious food! I love your stuff, and I adore it all the better when you sell it in containers that are healthy and easy to re-use.

Rather than cans and near-impossible-to-recycle (let alone repurpose) plastic vacuum-sealed boxes, sell us stuff in containers like these!…

Something delish…
Tastes better when it’s in something useful…
Like how this keeps a snack fresh!

Here’s the kind of jars I love best — think healthy, easy-to-clean, and uniform in which to store my beans, grains, flour, pasta, and such:

  • Straight-sided and where I can easily reach in wash clear down to the bottom.
  • Labels that require just a quick soak to remove.
  • Better yet, no labels at all, as in the case of the adorable drinking glasses illustrated after this letter — how sublime that the Welch’s name appears only in fine print!
  • Interchangeable sizes and lids would be extra classy!

The mustard sauce in the photo is great — and is all the better for the jar!

Yours truly,

da-AL — a customer who I doubt is alone

P.S. Don’t think you can get away with overpricing products with super-cute holiday gift-type containers and expect us to think you’ve done anyone a favor.

Back to you my dear cyberland friend,

As you can guess from above, I’m asking businesses to go beyond using less plastic. It’s lovely when grocers sell us food in glass jars. Let’s encourage them to take it up a gazillion notches by doing something that’ll benefit us while making us more loyal to them!

I hope you’ll share this with anyone who’s as upset as I am with how impossible it is to get away from plastic. Share this with individuals as well as with businesses. Even small gestures can go a long way when they’re multiplied. As consumers, our wallets wield immense power.

Every time I turn around, I read more scary stuff about how corrosive plastics are to our bodies, and downright catastrophic to the environment. There may have been a time when we deluded ourselves that plastic was better than glass, but these days, we know better.

When I was small, my family ate Welch’s jam. Why? Sure, it was tasty, and we needed something not too expensive for our toast — but with all the jams out there, Welch’s outsmarted the others! Theirs was in glass jars meant to be repurposed into drinking glasses! Customers wanted to collect the cute freebies while getting decent jams at the same time.

In the stone-age, harhar, jam came in these. They were great to drink out of and made shoppers want to go buy more to collect them!

Win-win joy here, there, everywhere!! Pardon me while I do a little jig at the keyboard! Why the heck don’t all stores and all brands continue to do something like what I described?

For crafty readers and those of us who enjoy looking at stuff we’ll never do — here and here and here and here and here and here and here are some links. Key search words: repurpose and up-cycle.

Are you concerned about plastics?…

Beasts of Brisbane, Australia by da-AL


It’s impossible to snap a photo of beautiful Brisbane, Australia without it looking like a postcard!

Brisbane, Australia, is even more gorgeous than it looks in this photo.

There’s some incredible wildlife at the Queensland Museum (Brisbane is in the state of Queensland).

Just us monkeying around.

Australia’s names for animals can be as unique as the critters…

These little ‘Red-Legged’ cuties are Pademelons.
This Bandicoot is Northern and Long-Nosed.
The Papuan Frogmouth is aptly named, ay, mate?
A Playpus always defies imagination.
Barramundi, a.k.a. fine Australian dining.
Moreton Bay Bugs are also delicious to Australians.

Brisbane was just one day in our fun vacation that began with a whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s beautiful Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. For the second portion of our vacation, we flew to Australia, where we began our visit with Gold Coast. There we met terrific family, observed these exciting birds — and these too, hiked breathtaking views, enjoyed delicious eats at the beach, and saw this and this unique wildlife at Currumbin, had fun with Rita Rigby, and saw the beauty of Brisbane,, and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

By the way, there’s lots of good food to be savored in Brisbane besides ‘bugs’…

I’ve yet to eat an actual bug (that I know of). Have you?

Part 2 of 2: Wild Things at Currumbin by da-AL


My gorgeous cousin took us to see koalas!

For our vacation to Australia, I knew I’d have a great time — but I kept my expectations low when it came to meeting the thoroughly cute animals I associate with the country.  Fortunately, as evidenced in these photos we shot at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, those ultra-charming creatures fully deserve their endearing reputations!

Turns out that Koalas…

… are truly as endearing as their koala reputations!
And koalas love trees.
And koalas love to nap.

When it comes to kangaroos…

Kangaroos don’t mind much heat as long as they have fresh water.
Also, kangaroos know how to lounge in style.

In the case of ring-tailed lemurs…

Lemurs are born photographic models!
These two lemur brothers love to play!
Lemurs are social animals.
This lemur and I pose in — sort of — the same way.

The first part of our amazing trip began with a whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s beautiful Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. For the second portion of our vacation, we flew to Australia, where we began our visit with Gold Coast. There we met terrific family, observed these exciting birds — and these too, hiked breathtaking views, enjoyed the beach, and saw this wildlife in this post with this unique wildlife at Currumbin, had fun with Rita Rigby, met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there, and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

Is there an animal you’re eager to see in person?

Part 1 of 2: Wild Things at Currumbin by da-AL


This Green Iguana loves salad as much as I do!

What comes to mind when you think of Australia? Koalas, right? And kangaroos? Obviously, I knew they don’t just hang around street corners in Australia, for sure not in the Gold Coast, but where were they?

This Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary employee was kind to get in close with my phone.
Green Iguanas are such cuddlers.

It seemed petty of me to want to see them — after all, we’d seen astounding things at New Zealand’s Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. In the Gold Coast, I met terrific family, observed these exciting birds — and these too, hiked to these amazing views, went to the beach, saw some the wild things in this post and these cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, had fun with Rita Rigby, met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there, and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

Sure, crocs are nice…

A hungry crocodile.

Cousin Hengi took us to Queensland’s Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and we saw a Tasmanian devil!…

Tasmanian Devils have red ears!

Only some of the people who stood there very patiently were honored by lorikeets…

Anyone can try to feed lorikeet.
But Lorikeets only come to some people.

Have you ever pet a koala and a kangaroo?

Beach Eats at Gold Coast, Australia by da-AL


My new Gold Coast pal!

The city of Gold Coast is part of the Australian state of Queensland. Visitors flock there as much for its sunny subtropical temps as for its surfing beaches, architecture, theme parks, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland.

We stopped there to visit wonderful relatives, a cousin my husband hadn’t seen since he was a child, along with her marvelous family who we met for the first time. Little did we know, after seeing New Zealand’s Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / Hamilton Gardens — that Australia also had so much to offer! Starting with Tai Chi in Gold Coast, birds of Australia Part 1 and Part 2great Gold Coast views, some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, fun with Rita Rigby, the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there, and enjoying Sydney this much and that much.

From any angle, the city skyline to Gold Coast is wonderful…

Such stunning scenery (including my honey!).
Khashayar rests after a shoreline bike ride with Cousin Mark.

All the food we ate in Australia was tasty! For instance, we enjoyed an exceptional meal on the beach, at Rick Shores’ Restaurant. In addition, we were given great service everywhere. Here’s the menu just to give you an idea of prices (here’s a link for exchange rates) — keep in mind that prices pretty much always include sales tax and that tipping is not customary there…

This fine dining was worth the splurge.
Page 2 of Rick Shores Restaurant menu.
Gold Coast beach behind our dear family.
The food looked (and tasted!) too good to wait to snap photos until after we’d dug in.

Does your city have a mascot?

Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, Australia by da-AL


Best of all Lookouts, Springbrook National Park.

“Best of All Lookouts,” located on the rim of a 20 million-year-old volcano, is aptly named. Australia has more beauty than one can visit in a lifetime. Fortunately for my husband and me, our family there was generous about sharing many sights near their home in the Gold Coast.

From New Zealand’s Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / Hamilton Gardens — to Australia’s Tai Chi in Gold Coast / Birds Part 1 / Birds Part 2 / ate a delicious meal on the beach / saw wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary / had fun with Rita Rigby / met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there / enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there! — our vacation was filled with spectacular beauty.

Near Best of All Lookouts is Purling Brook Falls

Purling Brook Falls, Springbrook National Park.

and this memorable tree…

Khashayar takes a break in a tree while Rita and I look on.

with remarkable bark…

Tree bark: nature is the ultimate artist.

And this great dictionary…

Terminology sign, Springbrook National Park.

Along the drive there, we stopped to admire Hinze Dam

To stand in the middle of its road.
And to stop and admire the view.

Further along, we took in views in and around Point Danger, where New South Wales meets Queensland…

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What’s the most unique sight near your city?

Birds of Australia Part 2 of 2 by da-AL


When’s the last time you saw a bush Turkey at the beach?

In the history of where I live, I doubt wandering bush turkeys, or any variation of them was as plentiful as they are on the streets of Gold Coast, Australia. No bird specialist am it, but it only takes a few minutes of walking along the shore of Gold Coast, Australia, to conclude that they’ve got lots more types of birds than we do here in Los Angeles.

We were having a great time, enjoying our Australian family while bugging our eyes out at what they consider run-of-the-mill critters. Our vacation covered Auckland / Rotorua / New Zealand’s Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / Hamilton Gardens / then in Australia we met family in Gold Coast / established in Part 1 of 2 Birds of Australia that theirs love to dress up in color / marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast / enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach / saw wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary / had fun with Rita Rigby / met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there / and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

For instance, whereas here we have white swans (when we have them), over there black swans such as these are abundant. Wikipedia describes them: “…a large waterbird… Within Australia, they are nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions… They are monogamous breeders, and are unusual in that one-quarter of all pairings are homosexual, mostly between males. Both partners share incubation and cygnet rearing duties.”

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We have pigeons — they have ibis! Now, this is one impressive bird! Its pate is bald yet pleated and striped, it’s long bill curves, and it’s feet and legs are as sturdy as avian appendages come.

The back of an Ibis’ head is like nothing I’ve ever seen on a bird before!
Ibis are quite bold if they think you might feed them.

As natural habitats for ibis continue to recede, they move to cities — and thrive. They’re made for dredging their live food out of deep mud, which doesn’t tend to impress city humans (who mock them as ‘bin chickens’ and ‘trash turkeys’) when the birds dig through garbage.

My gorgeous cousin Hengi makes feeding look lorikeets easy (it isn’t!).

One evening, around twilight, when bugs come out, we happened by an extraordinarily noisy tree. Australian rainbow lorikeets are so picturesque that they hardly seem real — until they make this loud of a racket…

A resident Australian magpie

What bird do you wish you saw every day?

Birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 (and a cute black dog) by da-AL


California seagull by Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/).

Seagulls in California are like this — great to look at — and unmistakably made to blend in, not to stand out with color.

Traveling brings to my mind architecture, fashion, culture, food… stuff like that. Animals, not so much. After all, the city dweller that I’ve ever been, animals are just animals, right?

Not when it comes to Australia! After New Zealand’s Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters fo the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / Hamilton Gardens / and then meeting marvelous family in Gold Coast, Australia / birds of Australia (Part 2 of this one) / seeing spectacular views in and around Gold Coast / eating a delicious meal on the beach / seeing wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary / having fun with Rita Rigby / meeting the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there / and enjoying Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

Aussie creatures come in attention-getting colors — here’s their seagull — red legs, beak, and eye rims! He’s just wetting your feet — In the next post, you’ll meet way more dramatic variations of birds.

Australian seagulls, decorated in red, are made to be seen!

Ok — their dogs are as doggy and as cute as ours…

I can’t resist medium-to-large black dogs! Here’s Nugget!

What color are your local birds?

Family, Vegemite, and Tai Chi in Gold Coast, Australia by da-ALi


Our first evening in Gold Coast, Australia!

Australia is a quick flight from New Zealand. Getting there marked the second half of our vacation, which began with Auckland + Rotorua + New Zealand’s Redwoods + Huka Falls + Craters of the Moon + Waitomo Glowworms Caves + Taupo + Pirongia + Hamilton Gardens, as well as the birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2 + Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast + enjoyed delicious meal on the beach + saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary + had fun with Rita Rigby + met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there + enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

We landed in Gold Coast to visit cousins who I’d heretofore not had the pleasure of meeting. Lovely inside and out, they were generous to us in every way!

What took me so long to meet these lovely family members?!
Good food, greater people!
Some of my Australian family is striped!

The following morning, a delicious breakfast awaited us — including yeast extract to spread on our buttered toast. Brands for the ‘acquired taste’ can be a heated topic: Australians generally vote for Vegemite, New Zealanders like Our Mate, folks in other places are partial to Marmite or Promite or Bovril or Cenovis or…

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After all the eating and relaxing, it was time to get moving!

Tai chi is healthy for all ages!

Admirably fit and flexible Rita (the beautiful lady with her arm around my waist) introduced me to a free tai chi class at the local park. If you’re ever in the area, Robina Tai Chi Club Secretary/Treasurer Yulan deSalve assured me that all are welcome to email her at yulandesalvo@gmail.com for particulars. Ask her nicely, and she might demonstrate the sitting koala pose!

Geckos are common guests in Gold Coast, Australia.

What animals do you have near your home that are unique to your area?