The frightening increase of Autism…projections of 1 in 2 children being born with it by year 2025

I read an article a few weeks back and it has just sat in my mind until yesterday when I commented on someone’s blog, it actually scares the hell out of me. This IS REAL and the consequences are mind blowing.

Autism rates have grown hugely over the last 50 years, this chart shows it’s increase since the 70’s, it is now thought to be as common as 1 in 68 children are affected by it.

At the current rate it is projected by researcher Stephanie Seneff half of all American children will be autistic by the year 2025, read here. There is no reason to expect it to be any different in other (particularly) Western countries.

The year 2025 is not some year pulled from a science fiction movie, it is 10 years away. The consequences of this are tragic and it’s happening. These are our next generation of peoples – these are who will care for our elderly, protect our countries, be our next generation of parents IF they become parents, these will be our citizens of the 21st century. I am not being discriminatory here about Autistic children – I met a 13 year old boy a couple of months ago who was extremely intelligent and a very charming boy. The reality for his parents is constant behavioural issues, needing to relocate because they can’t get adequate help for him, he is constantly bullied at school, he has social problems, huge anxiety and obsessions and much as his parents love him dearly and are great parents, they also have 5 other children and it’s a huge stress for them. I work as a mental health support worker and know that the children’s mental health team has grown in size very quickly to cope with the growing numbers of those coming through with Autism and Aspergers – this impacts on lives, a projection of 1 in 2 in ten years time is a huge impact on our society as we have known it.

Much has been said about the vaccination of our children causing the sharp rise in numbers, Seneff discusses the use of glyphosate in our agriculture, even birth control pills are thought to be to blame – there are many views on why but whatever the reason it all comes down to our use of CHEMICALS in many/every area of our lives. I watched a trailer for a movie the other day in which a man stated “of the 30,000 chemicals known to be in use in our world today only 1 % has been tested for safety by independent researchers”. 30,000!!! We make food from chemicals and package it in chemicals – we bathe in chemicals, we feast on them, we inhale them, we smother them on our skin, we are prescribed them when sick, we pollute our natural resources with them, our air is full of them… our lives are being affected in ways we haven’t been willing to acknowledge by our exposure to them, these numbers don’t lie.

And for anyone who trusts that our lifestyle has no bearing on our high and quickly growing incidence of autism there’s this – autism in the Amish is 1 in 10,000,

1 in 2 children is a disturbing reality for me and it needs to be a wake up call for all. These are our children, our grandchildren…this is our projected future of only ten years. We each need to start shopping smart and educating ourselves….we need to push chemicals into extinction by the way we spend, by the choices we make – each of us, all of us. Can you really imagine our world at the end of our own lifetime with increasing statistics like this?

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Summer lovin’

Hi, I am back 🙂 Working on a new laptop that I hate, Windows 8 sucks by the way, for anybody thinking of buying a new computer! And for anybody waiting on an email reply from me please let me know because some of my emails are disappearing out into the net world never to be seen again I am discovering – I have replied to all! This has been an expensive month after having to replace a laptop, vacuum cleaner, cell phone and repairs to the truck – how glad I am now that I worked all those hours!

We are harvesting from the garden with some great successes this year but also disappointments. We lost all our tomatoes this year, I think my husband was to blame for that one though he is keeping quiet about what he possibly did to them. I have a feeling that the “foliage feed” he used was something else entirely that he knows I wouldn’t have liked him using but he did in error. Our self sewn beetroot that we transplanted out in great rows all failed, a terminator gene maybe? Our strawberries have not done well. But after a few years of failed potato crops because of a bug problem here this year we harvested over 70 kg of beautiful potatoes. The raspberries went crazy and we got over 40 kg with autumns berries already on their way, the beans and zucchini are always great cropping, the blackberries, cranberries, peaches, peppers and chilli will have very good harvests, silverbeet (chard) lettuce and broccoli have all self sewn everywhere for regular picking. The pumpkins are spreading out everywhere again with plenty on. We got heaps of onions, garlic and carrots and have stared replanting empty spaces for autumn. The herb garden is wonderful with another rock garden dug up and planted in herbs (another post!)

After saying I wouldn’t be freezing vegetables this year, I am 🙂 Old habits die hard and it seems stupid not to when you have it lol. Jams and chutneys and being made at the moment, last year I made around 35 jars of our favourite Zucchini Chutney and just used the last of it two weeks ago so will make the same this year. We still have heaps of bottled fruit left from last year and 14 jars of other chutneys Roger wont try so I will be sticking to just the one in future. We ran out of tomato sauce a month ago and the commercial stuff is disappointing in comparison so I will have to buy a mountain of tomatoes to make more.

I have made no liqueurs or wine so far this year, I just haven’t felt motivated to. I have gone back to work doing strictly one day a week plus m on-call shifts which are simply by phone if any issues and occasionally going in to help with something. Roger is still doing 5 days a week but the work is far less demanding physically – I have to say I didn’t realise how exhausted he was and how hard he pushed himself on the farm. He had little desire for the garden but now is back to his old self and out there for hours….it’s tidy again! 🙂

Me, most of what computer time I spend is on the Freeconomy page – we have grown from 130 at the beginning of December to nearly 500. It is working fabulously but there are occasional issues of greed, grabbing, rudeness, a couple of people selling stuff they got free on other pages! People are people and there are all sorts out there, after banning a few we are going great.

I am back to making my soaps and hope to do a market this weekend. I have been busy drying herbs and local weeds/wildflowers for use during the year. How to package them at reasonable cost is always a consideration but I have settled on this, brown paper with a band. Printing whole sheets for wrapping was too expensive.

Anyway, I think this is about as long as it needs to be. I hope others are enjoying their summer, or keeping warm through their winter.

Freeconomics and Mark Boyle, The Moneyless Man

I just finished reading Mark Boyle’s book The Moneyless Man and found it hugely inspiring. Mark was an economics graduate and businessman who discovered Ghandi. Ghandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world” became the ethos by which he began to live and Mark started a Freeconmic movement, one in which members gave freely to those in need. This movement operates in over 150 countries around the world in town and city communities. The Freeconomic Movement operates on a Pay-It-Forward ethos. As he puts it in his speech (linked below) “For thousands of years we have been looking at life through a lens of “What can I take”. Imagine on a table in front of you there are different lens and we take off our old and put on a new one of “What can I give?”

“Imagine a world where we can give without expectation of receiving anything in return to someone who needs help.”

From an ecological viewpoint Mark discusses the toll consumerism has taken on the planet, the wasteful nature of it. In the UK 1/3 of all food traded through supermarkets etc is wasted, thrown out by either the stores or the consumer – much of this food imported from all around the world just to be dumped. Much of this food is grown by poorer countries who use low paid workers to produce it, the expense of getting it to our shops/homes grows with every step of the journey not only adding to the cost of the product but it takes a toll environmentally…then so much of it is dumped. The same could be said for many of our purchases which end up in landfills sooner or later.

From a humanitarian viewpoint, how much food, warm clothing, furniture etc is dumped when so many have so little and go hungry, not in only third world countries but in our own?

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In late 2008 Mark made a commitment to try living one year without money. He advertised on Freecycle for something he could live in and was given an old caravan, he made a rocket stove to cook on. He found an organic farmer who was willing to let him live in a small area in return for some work. He dug a hole to use as a loo, surrounded it with a makeshift tent he could also use as a camp shower. He also was given a fire and used waste wood to heat his caravan. He used an old bike to get around or walked many miles many days. He grew his own food, foraged and went skip diving. He talks of feasts him and his friends threw for up to 1500 people on waste from supermarkets, donations from many different sources (though I expect his profile in the area possibly helped alot there) He not only survived the in the year but at the end of his time realised how much happier he was, that he was a better person for it and decided to stay. The proceeds from his book are going towards land for a Freeconomy Community to set up their own place and this will not be a closed community but an open one.

Few of us would be willing or feel able to give up money, for those who would like to he shows it’s possible. But I found him inspiring for many reasons …he puts his money (or lack of!) where his mouth is, he fosters generosity rather than greed, he raises awareness of all sorts of ecological and society issues, he is a man who has taken up the “Be the change you wish to see in the world” challenge and run with it expecting nothing in return. His Freeconomy communities run much like Freecycle, people can advertise for stuff they need whether it be a lift somewhere, a couch to sleep on, tools, food…whatever. People can trade good for services or skills or just give freely. I am seriously considering starting one up here in our town but it does need thinking about. There will always be the takers who use something like this the wrong way, there is always potential for not so nice people in society to take advantage but… there are alot of good reasons to do this too. Many years ago I belonged to a Green Dollar Community where people traded skills and items with others expecting they in turn will recive what they need from others. I became very frustrated by doing alot of work for others who weren’t prepared to do their bit in return. This is different, there is no expectation here that you will receive anything in return, only that those you give to may one day pay-it-forward. People can get together to hold book or clothing swaps, family days etc. As an introvert I find this idea a bit scary 🙂 as a person who does care about the effect poverty has on people and communities I think it’s a brilliant idea. Anyway….bears some consideration.

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 To watch Mark Boyle’s talk on Ted X see here It runs for 15 minutes. Or an article he did for The Huffington Post here

The Sydney Morning Herald did an article on the rise of this in Australia while people are finding things tough and it appears to be successful and well used.

 

The First Week of Autumn

I don’t know what happened to summer this year, it’s been cooler than usual, cloudier than usual and has gone in a blur . The firewood has started coming, the garden is dying off in a mess of wilting foliage. The only good thing about autumn is the fig, pumpkin and feijoa harvests, smiling sunflowers…then it’s just one big clean up and the wintering down off most of it. 

The garden:

Roger is grinning from ear to ear today….we finally got his bees. We have been waiting for a year or so for a hive to come up cheaply and it did. They aren’t cheap, but this was 1/2 the price we usually see them for. The man he bought them from this morning assured us there would be 30 kg of honey from this box, additionally there would be beeswax and the pollination of vegetable plants and fruit trees. We then had to buy a book on keeping bees which was not cheap either…..I think the first new book I have bought in decades.

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Mittens early morning routine of watching the chooks being fed. It’s a good thing they are behind a huge fence I think.Image

The leeks are growing well, the zucchini are dying off and behind them a mass of pumpkins and ripening wine grapes.

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A pumpkin invasion.Image

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The tomatoes are nearing the end. With such a cool summer we didn’t get nearly as many as I had hoped for despite planting extra plants. We got heaps but not enough for the year, I will be buying some!

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Silverbeet (Chard) self seeds everywhere. We have masses of it, we eat alot of it and the chooks love it.

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Beans and beetroot still growing but not much longer for the beans.Image

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The herbs are nearing the end for many, the big herb garden has been covered with peastraw to build up the soil and keep weeds down over winter. The oregano flowering.Image

In the glasshouse we have peppers and chillis just fruiting/ripening and one enormous tomato plant that doesn’t have alot of fuit, is keeping sun off the other plants but Roger is very proud of it:)

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In November we decided to journal all our harvesting to see how much we could grow. So far, in three months it is up to nearly 300 kg (2.2 lbs to kg I think?) of fruit, vegetables and berries. There is still alot to come. This from our garden which is probably 1/8 acre. 

The kitchen:

I have been making tomato sauces, both barbecue sauce and a ketchup. We love both of these recipes. I save my olive oil bottles for tomato sauce, I have done 4 litres, maybe another 4 will do.

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And started some Blackberry Liqueur.

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And it’s soup season, another thing to be thankful to autumn for 🙂 

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Home:

These are some of the guys from Vanuatu, they came last night for farewell drinks…all rather shy of the camera 🙂 These guys come over to work in the vineyards and we know them well now. This is the summer crew. We were talking last night about their lives…they either have family land or buy a small area for very little, build their houses from wood they chop down, live in small villages and their food is practically free. They grow their own vegetables, eat mostly seafood they catch and occasional chickens (usually for ceremonial meals) and their fruit and coconuts are picked freely from the thousands of trees that grow naturally. That’s their diet and for all our food groups and daily requirement lists….these guys are truly fit and healthy. They speak between 3 and 4 languages and are honest, hardworking, proud but humble people. Vanuatuans have twice been voted the world’s happiest in the world. I just thought I would add all this after the other day’s grumpy post about dissatisfaction 🙂 🙂

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Normal…….

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My son shared this on Facebook today. My son hates his job, he has been working for the same company for 18 years having worked his way up from a junior position, working now as an area manager for a boss he can’t stand. He doesn’t read my blog, (neither does his boss) so hopefully doesn’t find out I have been talking about him behind his back… I shall keep him identity-less! He stays there because in our small area this job provides security and decent wages which he needs now because he has family. This post is not to discuss him so much as dissatisfaction in our lives. I am not knocking the above, some thrive in big cities with well paying jobs and holidays to relax into. Not knocking it at all. This is not my life and I am happy for that, my way is not other’s way and their’s is not mine, we are all different.

But seeing this set me off on a tangent (as is my way!) How many of us fall into the lives we have, no conscious decisions made, we just live them. We do our 9 – 5, struggle to pay our bills, do whatever to make ends meet, many lucky to even get a holiday!!! My life is far from this picture above but today I was walking around with a mumbling going on deep down, feeling crabby and distracted. When I read this I laughed it off, made a joke, yep that’s life. Later on when thinking about it and thinking about the dissatisfaction with life some must feel, I recognised my own.

Roger and I have been discussing a few things recently, much of it centres around nooses we have around our neck – mortgages, insurances etc. We are very lucky to have our own home but fact is the bank owns half of it. It’s unstable times, if the economy gets worse (a possibility) there is no guarantee we could even keep it. Both of us have to work and there is never any money left after mortgage, rates, big insurances, utilities, the costs of running vehicles to get to work etc etc. There are no holidays bar a quick weekend away. We would quite like a new normal even though we are far from normal. We have spent 7 years here, we do what we do because we need to, we love our home and garden but there are problems here. Our neighbourhood has gone from a quiet country one where everyone got on fine to one where we are growing a high front hedge to keep away from. We walk through the gate and sigh. Glad to get home from work, because let’s admit it, work is not always fun! but no longer enjoying our situation of where we live. We are virtually surrounded by transient vineyard workers, loud parties and arguments, lousy attitudes, gang members wearing patches etc are the norm here now. I don’t want to sound judgmental here, that’s not really my thing, live and let live. But….we are living in a different environment from that which we moved into – we have escaped town to have it follow us! I went down the shop the other day, drove, and pulled up at a give way. An error in judgment in driving by someone else had her glaring at me and yelling “You stupid f….bitch” at me through car windows. Roger was out mowing the front berm when a car full of young guys pulled up beside him and a pile of rubbish thrown out the window by his feet before they drove off laughing…apparently that was really funny!

What we have been thinking is to move, there are other towns over the west coast of the island which are really cheap, we COULD be mortgage free. We could live in a more settled area. We could leave our home and garden. We could invite my son and fiance to join us, how nice that would be – or leave them behind because they have different ideals. We could live in a wee structure and get more land. Could… maybe…..!!!

So, this is where my mind is at this morning. Dissatisfaction, with everything we thought we were doing right not feeling so right. It’s led me to think of others, human nature, why we are so stuck in our ways doing nothing to change them, why we live lives we aren’t really happy with. Why we complain so much and don’t just feel grateful for what we DO have 🙂 Why people don’t just live lives they love in order to conform, then how hard it is to get unstuck because we have families to support, expectations,bills etc. Then the fact there are homeless people who would be grateful for anything, the fact transient workers have to live somewhere and are probably all very nice people even if some seem a little aggressive at times lol. Giving away eggs and veges over the fence doesn’t seem to work anymore in helping neighbourly connections.

Happiness and what it takes to make ourselves happy, in our own individual and sometimes different ways, seems to be hard to find. I don’t think wanting happiness is a selfish thing, shouldn’t it be the norm? There’s only so much TIME in life with which to find happiness….if only we could bottle time.

An oldy, Jim Croce – Time in a Bottle

Anyways, my rambling for today is true rambling! Now I have to go and get the carpet shampoo unit from the shop and clean my carpets, probably the real reason for my grumpy mood today! Sometimes I think it would be nice to not be broke, you could pay to have your carpets cleaned. Maybe we just need better jobs, more money…. holidays……..! 🙂

GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

This is a photo I took in winter of our valley.. Our area of New Zealand was once farming country, when my family first moved here 21 years ago vineyards had been growing for a few years but most land was still farming. It was quite a sleepy town and the average Joe was finding it hard to find employment, there was generally a handful of jobs advertised each week. Vineyards have bought alot of money to the area, now they are EVERYWHERE and they offer alot of employment. I like them, I generally have nothing against the grape growing industry or scenery…except I rue the loss of fruit orchards in favour of grape vines. But this past few weeks we have personally experienced two concerns in regards to vineyards and are now drawn into battles with vineyard owners……don’t want it, resent the effort required and the conflict it will cause but sometimes you can’t sit back and do nothing 😦

Vineyard Spray Drift: We live on the opposite side of the street to a vineyard. Best practice, and required by council bylaws, is that they let neighbours know their spray program and that they spray only when wind is less than 13 knots and blowing South East, away from our street. Imagine our delight!!! to find them out spraying one day when a strong Northerly is blowing and the neighbours wind sock is pointing directly on to our house like a target! Both my husband and the neighbour went over to stop him (nicely of course) but ended up attracting the ire of the contractor who employs this worker. Another neighbour then showed my husband a photo he took of a previous dumping of fertiliser by plane, in which a thick white cloud was blowing onto our house from across the road. Phone calls to council ended up in a visit by them to this vineyard but we are yet to hear the outcome except we did get a letter detailing their spray program. In a large area of a population of only 800 locals we would prefer not to have battles with anyone but this is possibly going to be an ongoing problem…time will tell I guess.

We grow food in our front yard, we live here. It’s bad enough knowing this goes on across the road and there may be consequences of spray drift even if done responsibly but this is not good.

Migrant Exploitation: Where do we even start with this one!? So, we have a group of men from the Pacific islands who use a portion of our garden to grow vegetables because they find things tough financially while they are contracted to work here in the vineyards. Last year an arrangement was made by their employers to up their rate for work. It appeared all good, till they returned a few weeks back and got their first pay slip. While here they have to live in the quarters provided by the vineyard owners. They are charged rent. They sleep four to a small room on two sets of bunks and are charged a whopping $270 a week EACH for this. They are charged $60 a week EACH for travel to work in a van which seats 8 – maybe 10 kms each way. They are charged a total of $7,000 EACH for their travel, which they pay off fortnightly. They have coin operated washing machines. And the list goes on. What they can send home each week is much less than they would earn on minimum wage staying home to work. They work really hard here, it’s not “island time”, it’s fast paced 9 hour a day work. If it rains they can’t work at all so no pay. The scheme for these men to come here was created as a government initiative to help the communities from the islands to earn good money, they formed an alliance with a national Co-op to manage the employment of them and their conditions. Who are the Co-Op? The vineyard and orchard owners they work for 😦 They have it all sewn up. On paper these men would be seeming to earn very good money for their labours…all the wages they are tempted with before they come are factual. Their OUTGOINGS they have to pay back the employers are shocking.

So, what do you when when faced with someone’s pay slip and seeing all this and asked “Can you help us?” This is a nation wide problem. This is a particular problem with two influential and respected business partners in this little area. We have spent 8 years here minding our own business and just getting on doing our own thing. I am groaning here… my husband is ready to take on the industry – we can’t do nothing but this is not a battle I want to have to have. What choice does a person have really, conscience dictates you don’t do nothing. There are thousands of these people working here, many in the same circumstances, tempted here with promises of high wages and then not even able to send a decent amount home to support their families for all their efforts.

Sheer bloody greed by the wealthy, that’s all this is about. Do I want to be involved in taking this on… nope!! I don’t want to have to. Can I do otherwise…I have a hot headed husband stomping around the house determined to make this right in some way and he will try his utmost because he is who he is. You can’t turn the other cheek and hope someone else will sort it because often no-one does so you just tackle it head on….I guess!