Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wild Green Yonder - Great Book on Woofing

"The Wild Green Yonder: Ten seasons volunteering on New Zealand's organic farms," by Philippa Jamieson. New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd., 2007 (

The Wild Green Yonder is a personal story and an introduction to organic farming in New Zealand from a Woofer's point of view. A woofer is someone who lives on a farm and in exchange for four to five hours of work a day, receives room and board while learning about organic farming. It's also a way some foreigners choose to travel through New Zealand.

Traveling from her home base in Dunedin in the South Island, Philippa Jamieson, a vegetarian who was already familiar with an organic lifestyle and the importance of sustainable farming for the future of New Zealand and planet earth, wrote this book while traveling all over the country.

I enjoyed the book and as a vegetarian myself I was curious how others see their lives in relation to this choice. (Most consume dairy as part of their diet, but the pros and cons of how some farmers use animals is not part of this essay.) This book is well written and lively. As a non-New Zealander though I had to look up some flora and fauna definitions to understand what I was reading about. Gorse is a universal weed and I learned that left to it's own, gorse actually protects native bush. It's the human interferences with weeds that have created the (global) mess it is today.

I also learned that organic is never pure, not anywhere. Just like buying pollution points to continue to pollute, you can get a way with some non-organic practices according to organic regulations. It's disturbing that we are already over the brink and nothing is 100% organic today. If you are looking for an adventure, woofing is a way to discover New Zealand and meet-- according to Philippa -- wonderful people who also cook delicious meals -- and also serve lots of wine. For some reason, Philippa stayed with people who seemed to drink a lot.

The book makes the reader very conscious of where our food comes from. For instance, one farmer uses seaweed for fertilizer, which he buys from Canada. It is impossible to fathom why seaweed has to be imported to a country surrounded by the sea.

Maori had to be the first farmers in New Zealand but they are not mentioned in the book. Either they don't own any organic farms or Philippa did not visit them. The majority of owners seem to be German. There is a large population of Germans in New Zealand as residents and tourists both. (I'm writing this from a tiny sea-town in the North Island called Ngunguru; the local motel down the road has a sign out front: "Die Speiche Deutsche.")

There are plenty of stories about the people the food and traveling that keep this book an enjoyable read. It's also a great guide to woofing and the farms that are listed who are registered as woofer friendly. It may, like for me, make woofing look very attractive; but be warned, it could bring on changes to your sexuality, like it did for Phillipa -- but you'll have to read the book to find out the details about that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

First We Kill The Critics

In these uncertain economic times everyone's asking:

What will happen to art?

If it means the death of critics,
then at least some good will come of it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin is like a New Car - Lipstick on a Lemon is still a Lemon

A Riff on Sara Palin
Lipstick on a Lemon is still a Lemon

As told to me by an anonymous man:

Sara Palin is like a new car.
You see her in the lot and she looks really good.
Paint job is real shiney and she smells good too.
Turn the key and she revs up, blasting a nice sound.
She idles like a purring cat.
You take her for a test run, she seems okay.
Is she affordable?
Are there any hidden costs? What comes with her price and what is optional?
And, what if you need to go on a long trip, is she ready?
Could she be a lemon?
Could she be recalled?
When the warranty is up, are you stuck with her?
Will you be able to get rid of her? Or will you be stuck with her in your garage, driveway, eating away at your checkbook with every breakdown?

Maybe now is the time you need to look under the hood a little longer, check all her connections, make sure her lines going in and out are clean.
Lipstick on a lemon is still a lemon.

As told to me on the phone: sept 10 2008 8 pm est

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ngunguru, Northland, New Zealand

1 September 2008
New Moon
New beginnings

My final days in New Zealand will be spent in a home on a hill in Ngunguru with a black cat named Zakara while its owner, Lilicherie works in Wellington. Ngunguru is in the Northland, 40 minutes from the next town, Whangarei. I'm getting settled with supplies and hope and sadness. This view from my window looks out at the river and a sand spit; to the left it joins the sea. There are glorious walks here, -- when the tide is out -- along the sandy beach, cutting jagged cliffs to one side, the sea to the other. Many rocks from small to large, with jagged edges are covered with oysters. The beautiful sounds of Tui's and the shrill sounds of the oyster catchers accompany you wherever you go. In this photo the tide is in. A beautiful place to live before returning to New York.