Monday, September 26, 2011

The value of nothing

There is water in the river at New Norcia!

We were in the Benedictine town of New Norcia last weekend, taking part in a retreat lead by members of the Christian Meditation Community of Western Australia. It was a lovely quiet and restful time.

When we were able to take a break, we enjoyed the sights of the town we know so well, shown in its green and fruitful best after a reasonably good winter.

There was water in the river!!!

Lovely to be able to be there and enjoy the renewal of the earth and our souls. The olive trees are just budding.

Olive trees in bud. New Norcia's olive oil won major awards last year.

There is something very grounding in spending a couple of days in the farming belt -it reminds us city folk of how much the basis of our society depends on a healthy earth, and decent returns for farmers. Spending time in prayer reminds us of the big issues of life and death, and what is really important.

This coffee table in my lounge room is being decorated by an op shop find -a lovely lacy table topper- and a bowl of home grown musky roses.

Since I got home, I have been reading this book, which I found in my local library, called "The Value Of Nothing" in which Raj Patel makes some very interesting points which are very thought provoking. If you are in WA too, you will be able to ask your library to get an inter-library loan so that you can read it too. If you aren't here, it is available world wide in book stores. Easy to read and I recommend you do.

This is a quote about the book:

With great lucidity and confidence in a dazzling array of fields, Patel reveals how we inflate the cost of things we can (and often should) live without, while assigning absolutely no value to the resources we all need to survive. This is a deeply thought-provoking book about the dramatic changes we must make to save the planet from financial madness – argued with so much humour and humanity that the enormous tasks ahead feel both doable and desirable. This is Raj Patel’s great gift: he makes even the most radical ideas seem not only reasonable, but inevitable. A brilliant book.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine

I am writing this post as the Debt Crisis seems to lurch into another worrying phase. The ABC news has just now quoted an expert who is predicting Australia will be in recession in a year or so. To those of us who are trying to live simply, we look with concern for the people who get crunched when the big corporates and nations stuff things up.

  • Why haven't we been told of the things Raj writes in his book -about how, if we factored in the real cost to the earth and its people of a typical fast food hamburger, it would actually cost $200?

  • Why aren't we more concerned about the fate of the poor workers who labour to provide us with cheap consumer goods?

  • Why aren't we aware of how much the trade in rare earths which are mined in the Congo, and used to make components in mobile phones, has fueled the violence there over recent years?

  • Why hasn't any news outlet I have found in Australia reported the protests of these people in Wall Street for the past 9 days?
"The protest dubbed Occupy Wall Street kicked off September 17, targeting corporate greed and political influence, the government bailouts for banks during the 2008 financial crisis, capital punishment, and a litany of other grievances."

The title of the book comes from a quote by Oscar Wilde who described people who 'knew the price of everything and the value of nothing" .

I am heartened by what the author describes as grass roots movements of people around the world, often the poorest of the poor, who are taking back some of the political power and rights which our current system has stripped away.

Living simply is not just a lifestyle choice -it may be the only choice for the planet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Recycling, producing not consuming, and other lifestyle choices

Over at Down to Earth, Rhonda has got us all talking yet again about reusing and recycling.

I thought I would not just talk about ideas for recycling, but in fact the whole idea of producing not consuming -of living a more creative, productive life. It is an important part of being able to recycle -because we need active and shiny creative minds to be able to think of new ways of doing things with stuff other people would throw out. You need to practice making things to have the confidence to try something a bit out of the norm.

I found this very helpful book in the library recently -art of the Rochdale's Succesful Quilting Library- it encourages a novice like me to have a go at all kinds of interesting techniques built by others who were creative and willing to try something new.

I found this beautiful silver urn in an op shop recently. I was overjoyed as I have been on the lookout for this shape for over six months. I never dreamed it would be in such good condition.

The grey foliage I have in the urn is quite a showy feature of my lounge room at the moment, but so simple!

I guess someone threw this urn out to the charity which runs the op shop. Perhaps they couldn't be bothered cleaning the silver. I am so glad I have it -it is a thing of joy. I intend to change the display in it regularly -flowers or shiny glass balls or whatever I can find as I 'shop at home" for displays which keep me entertained as I decorate our little house.

This crumb quilt is made of scraps and orphan blocks left over from another quilt. So this is another way of recycling and re-using things.

I enjoyed making it, and learned a lot from it.

I call it "Think Outside the Box".

This quilt is back on my design wall. I am auditioning that green as a potential border, and slicing other blocks to see what I can make which is more interesting as a setting.

Finally, a picture of a whole bowl full of roses from the climber on the back fence. After years of doing nothing but grow leaves it is in flower at last. I wish you could smell the delightfully musky fragrance - it is so strong I can smell the perfume whilst I sit in my chair nearby.

I hope you feel inspired to be creative around your place -and to find new ways of using what you already have.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spring pretties

We have had the most perfect entrance to spring this year, with a good winter rainfall followed by a pattern of sunshine and showers. The days are gradually warming up, and the garden is calling out for action.

I am afraid things got a bit overgrown during the winter, but nearly every Saturday for over a month my DH and I have been toiling away bringing things back from the brink.

This morning there was so much loveliness to see, and so many perfumes to smell, as I brushed past the peppery geraniums, the astringent lavender and the musky tansy. I absolutely adore perfumed foliage!

The front garden has a nice mix of plants which give generously of their flowers, and some newish fruit trees which are settling in well.

It being such a wonderful spring day I had to bring some flowers into the house!
Nasturtiums grow like weeds around here. I bought a packet of seeds once, and they now come up all over the place!

Simple pleasure of a glass vase and a few geraniums and pelargoniums and lavender.

And here is the reminder of what kind of gardening we have yet to do....a huge bag of lupin mulch to protect the veggies as the weather warms up, plus we need to feed the fruit trees and mulch them, and weed the back yard, and give the roses a bit of attention and ...and....good thing there is a lot of spring left yet!