My Garden of Eden and a Plague of Locust

 A corner of my garden.


My father has an unexplained disdain for squirrels and rabbits who dare to enter his garden.  This is such a mystery to his family because he is an environmental engineer who fights to save our Earth! One day we came home to find rakes and shoes way up in the 20 foot pine tree.  Daddy shrugged his shoulders and said, “Squirrels!”  He had been throwing things at the poor defenseless squirrels to get them away from his garden!  My parents moved to a new house and my mother had to threaten daddy to stop tossing lawn furniture at the rabbits  because he was making a bad impression with the new neighbors.  Well the laugh was on him when he set out a “Have a Heart” trap.  The neighbors had snuck over and put their Easter rabbit decorations into the trap!  He was so excited to have caught the buggers! When he went out to look, he found the ceramic bunnies dressed in their Easter finest. He was embarrassed, but we all have had a great laugh at his expense since then. I suppose I have inherited more than I thought from my father.  I have been WAGING WAR with locusts!


When we moved to this tropical paradise I was thrilled to get started on a tropical garden.  However, we had not been able to find a house we loved (and could afford on a teacher salary) with a garden that we loved too. We settled into an adorable terrace house near the hippest village that we can walk to. However, I had to settle for grey tiled front and back yards . Ugh!  Never mind, I got creative and started a great potted container garden. I shop at the nurseries, re-pot, prune, fertilize, water, cut, trim, and sweat in the tropical heat to make my plants grow on the dreaded tile yard.  I have mini palms, frangipanis, heliconias (like birds of paradise), water lilies, roses, lotus flowers and bougainvillea to name a few.  These plants just thrive here so through my blood, sweat and tears I now have my own little Garden of Eden on ugly grey tiles. But the wrath of nature is upon me and I have been plagued by locusts lately!


    See the baby locust!  Their parents are HUGE!


These monsters are systematically eating their way through my hard work and pride.  I know I should be environmentally friendly and just let nature take its course, but I find myself burdened with my father’s curse!  When I have to water the plants or work in the garden, hundreds of little tiny baby locust fly at my face. The big four inch adult ones really hurt if they fly into you! I curse, swat, shake, spray and basically throw a temper tantrum as I race around the garden like a woman possessed.  My husband thinks I am nuts as I run screaming, “Do something, kill them!” My children just walk away as I hollar for them to help me swat them all away.  Nothing seems to be working and now my gorgeous plants are being eaten down to nothing.  The butterflies, birds and dragonflies are dwindling as the flowers disappear.  I finally resorted to evil measures and just got out the spray and let them all have it!  The bigger ones just flew off and were back the next day.  I have read that their skin is so thick that they are hard to kill with insecticide.  They just keep laying more and more eggs and I can’t get rid of them. I don’t want to use insecticides because I know how horrible they are for the environment and also since my gorgeous dogs and kids go out there daily. I want to save my garden, the environment and quite frankly my marriage! Does anyone have suggestions of how to get rid of these pesky critters without nasty poisons or going insane?




It is almost the New Year!  How many people make a New Year’s resolution, and then a few months later realize how impossible it is to keep the resolution?  I know that I do.  I am always eager to start the new year off right, so I promise to exercise more, eat less, spend more time with my family, spend more time alone, quit bad habits, get more organized, …  We all know the routine, but SERIOUSLY how many of us keep our promises? 

This year, I plan to do something a little different.  I plan to consume more wisely.  I am not talking about dieting (although I am always in needJ). I am talking about consumption of goods and products.  I just saw an incredible 20-minute video, “The Story of Stuff.”  thanks to my friend, Jabiz who is my guru of conscientious living!   This short video follows our system of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of “stuff” that we use in our everyday lives.   

Go to the website and check it out.  You will learn a few things, laugh at a few things and maybe even get angry and decide to change a few things.  There are some easy ideas to get started on changing our ways of consuming and disposing of our stuff.   

Last week I was shopping and I thought of how great it was to see some new American products in the stores here in Kuala Lumpur!  Hooray for Cheez-Its, Cheerios and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!  I can finally buy some familiar products!  Wow, they were imported all the way from the USA!  How great is that?  Wait a minute…  I have survived for almost 4 years without these products.  What was the cost of getting those products half way around the world?  Is it worth it so that I can consume a box of Cheez-Its, that frankly, I don’t need?  After watching “The Story of Stuff”, I began to imagine how much fuel was used to ship, the low-cost labor, the boxes and containers, the waste and pollution … I have been quite happy with the crackers and snacks that I buy in the night market.  These do not have boxes, these were not flown or sailed half way around the world and they were being sold by a local man supporting his family that I know and see every week.  

American strawberries in the large grocery stores cost RM26. for a small container (US $7.00).  I am too cheap to pay that when I can buy the same size container of local strawberries for RM4. (US $1.10) So, what is the real cost of shipping those strawberries half way around the world. The price difference is $5.90, but the cost to the Earth and its resources, the cost to families who are forced to work for cheap wages, the pollution and waste of buying these products is immeasurable. After watching this video, I am a little smarter and a lot wiser.  I will pay more attention to the items that I purchase, consume and dispose of in the year 2008.  I never really gave a thought to the “real” cost of products until I saw, “The Story of Stuff.”  Watch it and you may modify your New Year’s resolution too! 

(But right now what should I do with my box of Cheez-Its? I already bought them last week?!  I can’t waste them right?  Tomorrow is the New Year!  J)