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A day with my elders

Last Sunday I spent time with two of my elders - My Gran and David Suzuki (I also spent the day with my Mum – but it wouldn’t be very smart of me to call her an elder now would it).

My time with David Suzuki wasn’t exactly one-on-one. I joined a couple of thousand other people in a packed Opera House to hear him speak.

His inspirational talk was based on his latest book ‘The Legacy’: an elder’s vision for our sustainable future. His reflections on how we got where we are today and his vision for a better future well and truly deserved the standing ovation he received.

If you want to read more about the talk you're probably better off reading one or more of the many other write-ups from his talk that night, or better still read the book.

For me, the take-home-message was about the meaning of life.

He spoke with fondness of the month he spent with his dying father.

"Dad was never a wealthy man, yet while dying, he said a number of times, "David, I am so rich". In all our weeks together, he never talked about a set of fancy clothes, a big car, or a special house - that's just stuff.

All we talked about were family, friends, and neighbours, and the things that we had done together. That was his wealth - the memories and relationships built over a lifetime - and in those things, he was truly a rich man."

I knew before that night that life isn't about 'stuff', but on that night the reality slapped me in the face more than it ever had.

That morning I had visited my Gran to say goodbye.

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My Gran in an article from a 1994 issue of Gardens & Backyards Magazine (the predecessor of Gardening Australia) where my grandparents garden is described as a 'suburban farm'. Find the full article here.

My Gran was the one who taught me to sew and garden. She and my Grandpa were the ones to give me my first chooks. They even built me my first shade house when I was ten so that I had a space to propagate my own plants. I'm pretty certain that my love of nature, and particularly plants, was inherited from my Gran.

So you can imagine how much she means to me.

I held her hand, said thank you for being such a good Gran and told her stories about the sewing and gardening I’ve been doing. I kissed her goodbye.

IndiancostumeMy cousins and I enjoying some quick and frugal costumes my Gran made from hessian bags (thats me in the middle).

She looked calm, relaxed and content. I think she knew who I was for a brief moment or two. But mostly she rattled on about a lovely little rabbit she once knew.

I found the experience comforting. I'm not saddened by the reality that she may not have long left. She has a legacy and it lives on...

Her legacy, for me (as I’m sure the legacy left by someone varies among recipients), was the way she lived her life. She and my grandfather lived a simple and sustainable life. They lived in the house that my grandfather built. They ate from their garden, they mended, they made, they lived without much but yearned for little.

I imagined myself one day 'in the death zone', as David Suzuki calls the final years of one's life. All that will matter then are my memories, the love that I share with friends and family, and my legacy.

I don't yet know what my legacy will be. But I do know it won't be material. A legacy of a big house or money in the bank won't last long. Maybe one generation? I want a legacy that will live on for generations to come. 

Like my Grans. I now see parts of 'the way she lived her life' in my life. And in turn i'm certain Little Eco will carry aspects though to her life and so on. I know my Gran's legacy is living on in me and my child and i'm pretty certain it will live on in many generations beyond that.


Recycled bookmark inspiration from the 1950's

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Flicking through the pages of an old book from the 1950's I spotted these sweet little bookmarks. 

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They're made from the corners of old envelopes and simply slip over the page to be marked.

I'll definitely be snipping the corners from used enveloped from now on. Then perhaps my books won't look like this:

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I don't treat good books well. Books that inspire me are full of dog ears, notes and tags. As you can tell, the above book inspired me. It's The Green Hour by Todd Christopher. I'll be posting a review in the next day or two and will be giving away two copies (not my dog-eared one I promise).

I hope you had a lovely weekend.


Pallet dreaming...

I’ve been inspired by some wonderful pallet upcycling creations recently. They’re too good not to share……

Lori-danell-3 Toddler bed by Design Sponge (found via Inhabitots).

VintagechicaOutdoor coffee table from Vintage Chica.

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Pallet shelf by Saltwater Kids.

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Chook pen by Helicopter Studios.

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Storage shelving by Pftburger.

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Recycled path. Image source. 

I'm also loving this coffee table,this bookshelf, this potting bench, these daybeds, and this mini shed.

I can't decide what I want to make first?

P.S. Thank you to those of you who shared your TV stories and struggles. I loved reading about your TV experiences. I was actually a little worried about sharing this story in case I was judged for letting Little Eco’s TV addiction get to this point…so it was lovely to read your wonderful positive comments. Thank you. We’re still TV free and loving it.

Have a lovely weekend.

STOP THE PRESS: I discovered these unreal fold out pallet chairs today (via inhabitat) and just had to add them.


Sustainable living bootcamp

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I've returned from my little holiday feeling energised and inspired. In many ways it was as I expected…waking early, daily yoga, plenty of relaxation and meditation, healthy vegetarian food, refreshing river swims, new friends, heart-warming kirtan, and quiet bushwalks. I surprisingly even enjoyed the daily Karma yoga (i.e. chores). But what I didn’t expect was for the retreat to be a sustainable living bootcamp of sorts.

We had lessons in cooking healthy balanced vegetarian meals and had plenty of cooking practice in the kitchen. I got used to bush showers (a.k.a navy showers) and became comfortable ‘letting my yellow mellow’. I was inspired by the lack of rubbish and the ease of chores when everyone pitches in and helps.

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All these eco actions didn’t happen automatically, there were signs everywhere politely telling people how to shower, when to flush, how to clean, what to throw out where, and so on... Perhaps that’s what we need……signs everywhere helping people make sustainable choices???

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A quick note for fellow Novocastrians regarding some upcoming local eco events.

23rd March: Climate Action Newcastle Lecture: ‘When will we stop pretending climate change is not going to happen?’ by Clive Hamilton.
27th March: Earth Hour Celebration at Braye Park hosted by Transition Newcastle.
27th March: Playdates for the Planet camping weekend (for details email playdatefortheplanet@gmail.com).
28th March: Kate's Clothes Swap Party Carrington Community Hall 10am - 1pm (if you want more information email me and i'll pass on Kate's details).


We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors....

Time for another dose of Monday eco inspiration to get you through the week. This week it is a quote:

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

Given that Little Eco has been the inspiration for my journey towards living a sustainable life, I can really relate to this quote at the moment.

In honor of Australia Day, and a younger Australia, here are some photos of the way my Dad and Grandparents lived.

Have a lovely Australia day!

Dad and Pat with Grans Shadow 

Gram and horse Wahronga

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2Stooks in wheat field 2