Graffitis and Curiosities

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“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.”
~ Banksy

 

It’s the last day of my holidays today, and then I’ll be on a plane and heading home. I must say that as soul-nurturing as this trip has been I am ready for my own bed, some big puppy hugs, and a cup of good tea.

One of my favourite travel pastimes is wandering by foot, taking photos and getting far off the well-beaten tourist paths.

I’ve discovered all kinds of wonders on this trip. Here are some of the wall and door adornments that have caught my eye during my rambles through places as diverse as Salerno, Santorini, Naples, Venice, Athens and Bangkok.

Enjoy!

Nx

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The wisdom of planting trees

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“Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn.”

~ Lord Orrery, 1749

 

Our humble little farmhouse was built firstly as a two room cottage in 1860 by the original timber-cutter in our area. The walls and ceilings are cedar, the floors are pine. Later, at the turn of last century, the house was added to again, with stone and teak and other found and reclaimed bits of timber.

The land all around was cleared of trees, and the rocks in the paddocks were piled up into stone fences. All was bare and orderly.

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But then someone planted trees again. Trees that they would never live to see grow to maturity.

Now our farm is graced with majestic Fig and Teak trees, enormous Hoop Pines, Bunya Pines, Sydney Blue Gums and a grove of ancient and delicious citrus trees.

There’s a beautiful Magnolia, a giant Jacaranda and some ancient palms.

Trees have turned this bare earth back into a home, and they cradle us in their energy.

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That’s the thing about planting trees. You need to hold a longer-term vision for yourself, and for the world. You need to have faith in a future you may never see.

The gifts of that farmer’s long-term vision are that we are surrounded by enormous old trees that provide shade and protection for us, and countless critters.

And now we’ve added to this vision by planting apples and pears, peaches and nectarines, mulberries, loquats and avocado trees.

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Don’t be afraid to take on big projects. Don’t be afraid to create things, plant things, or start things for which you may never see an end result.

Good things often take time – gardens, quilts, novels, gigantic lego projects, renovations, study, building things…

Your faith in a brighter future is what changes the world, and makes it more meaningful and more beautiful for the rest of us.

What seeds can you plant today? What dreams can you give birth to?

I dare you!

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Where have all the flowers gone? OR Vote for Variety!

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“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem or saying a prayer.”

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Right beneath our noses something sneaky is happening. Our choices are becoming more limited, even as it appears that there is greater diversity in the marketplace than ever before. Some things aren’t even what we think they are anymore.  Like milk. Milk has become a manufactured product, rather than a natural one.

Test me out, and see if I’m right.  Take a walk through your local supermarket. Are some of your favourite foods no longer being stocked?  Have many of them become available only as home-brand or generic brand items?

The truth is that fewer and fewer companies are producing and controlling more and more of our consumer take-home items. Small companies are absorbed into the larger ones and many of the brands we know and love disappear forever. Why, even my local lolly hangout, The Mullumbimby Chocolate Shop, is finding it harder and harder to source the old varieties of sweets.  Many of these companies produce their candies by hand, on equipment from the 1800s and 1900s. As owners die, or the companies are taken over, these old lines are phased out in favour of mass produced sweets. Goodbye Lemon Sherbet Bombs and Raspberry Twists, hello Skittles and Snickers Bars.

Add to this the global giant Monsanto, which dominates seed production and distribution throughout the world, and my world is painted a little drabber.

But I digress, because today I want to talk about flowers.  There is a link between the two themes though, I promise!

There is a dairy farm not far from mine where two elderly brothers tend a flower garden.  It’s not just any flower garden; they grow dahlias, and enter the blooms into the local Agricultural Shows every year.  The brothers grow an enormous variety of types, and they sell the excess flowers for ten dollars a bucket.  The buckets are placed under a tree on the side of the road, with an honour system, so that you leave your money under a rock in their letterbox. They ask that you bring the bucket back when you’re finished…

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At the end of each season the men collect the seed from their plants, including any variations from type or new crosses.  The seeds are then painstakingly placed into  labelled envelopes, catalogued, and stored in boxes in the shed until next season.

Some of the seedstock goes back to the men’s own grandparents.  Relatives brought a veritable garden in their luggage when they came out from England by boat, in the form of saved seed.  Other seed has been traded locally with neighbours who got their own seeds from family in Europe or America. And of course seed is often exchanged at shows and garden fairs.

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Every time I look at these dahlias now I wonder about the story behind them. I think of the people who tended the plants, saved the seeds, passed them on.

It saddens me a little. Most people get their gardens from the Nursery section of a supermarket or a mega hardware store these days. There’s so little choice – a predictable selection of propragated plants, multiple cheerful punnets of a few common annuals, one or two special varieties being plugged by TV personalities.

Few modern gardeners save seed.  Most people don’t even know how to plant or care for a garden anymore. So many simple skills for sustainability being lost. I do consider growing flowers to be about sustainability – sustainability of our soul and our creative heart, and sustainability of relationships and ties throughout history. Sure we need fruits and vegetables for survival, but an existence without flowers would be so much less satisfying.

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Perhaps there is some small pocket of space where you can create a friendship garden or help keep heritage varieties of plants in existence. Join a garden club, or talk to the oldies in your local area!

You can also buy heritage plants and seeds from the following places:

The Diggers Club – Australia

Eden Seeds – Australia

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – America

Landreth Seed Company – America

The Real Seed Catalogue – UK

Thomas Etty Esquire – UK

It’s gardening, not rocket science.  Truly it’s not hard, and it can be very rewarding.  If you’re time poor, or have no space to garden, at least buy produce from your local farmers markets, and support the growers who care about biodiversity and quality food.

And while we’re at it, why not vote with your dollar, and support the many other small businesses that provide us with variety, quality and employment in other areas of our lives? Avoid the large and no-name generic brands.  Ask for your favourite brands by name. Your purchasing power keeps these businesses alive, and allows us to enjoy freedom of choice.

At times you may feel powerless in this world, but as a consumer your dollar counts.  Use it to vote for variety! Bless ♥ xx

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Strengthening Intuition Week 4 – Sensing Energy in Places

Rossyln Chapel in Scotland – Image from www.sacredsites.com

“Spirit of place! It is for this we travel, to surprise its subtlety; and where it is a strong and dominant angel, that place, seen once, abides entire in the memory with all its own accidents, its habits, its breath, its name.”
~Alice Meynell, “The Spirit of Place”

Every place holds its own energy.  Wild places and nature places contain the wisdom and language of the Earth. Many of them also contain the echoes of history.

Man-made places absorb energy based upon what has unfolded there – the daily patterns of life, the intense emotions of happiness or tragedy, images and information seered into the very fabric of the place itself.

Hands on rocks at Stonehenge – Image from www.southmill.co.uk

Today, we are going to tap into the energy of places. We can find out all sorts of things simply by placing our hands upon the stones, or the walls, floors or the earth of a place. With practice you will be able to read energy from modern and ancient places.

What sort of information can you expect?  To start with you may just feel energy; a tingling or electric sensation, warmth or cold.  You may get colours or sounds, or a smell.  You might even get a taste in your mouth.  As you tune in further – with a childlike sense of curiosity – you may get images, emotions, words in your head, or a certain knowing.  Trust what you get.  If you stay open and trusting, suspending any natural doubt or disbelief, you will be far more inclined to receive a flow of energy and information.  Practice will build your ability over time.

To do this we will first need to start by activating our hand chakras.  If you can’t remember how, you can review that process from Week 2 here:

Activating the Hand Chakras

Places usually have quite strong energy, so we will use both hands for this process.  If you are feeling confident, you may also use just your receptive hand.  Here’s a quick review of that process from Week Three:

Sensing the Energy in Objects

Once your hands are nicely activated follow these simple steps to feel that energy of place:

  1. Clear your mind.  Allow yourself to become soft, relaxed and receptive.
  2. Place the palms of your hands against a surface, such as a wall, floor, a stone or the earth.
  3. Close your eyes and concentrate on the chakras in your palms.  What do you feel?
  4. Stay calm and quiet, waiting…
  5. Don’t try to force anything. Stay in contact with the surface for at least two minutes, eyes closed, calm, breathing in a relaxed and comfortable way.  This is the same sort of state you might move into during a meditation.

Places that are worth exploring include:

  • historical sites
  • homes and buildings
  • places of worship
  • places where people congregate, such as town squares or markets
  • ruins
  • natural places
  • sites of historical events, even if any man-made influences seem long gone

This is a terrific way of energetically opening to and exploring places when you travel.  It can also give greater connection to family and those who have passed over.  Some people even find that it stimulates connection into past life awareness.

Ruins at Delphi – Image from www.greekaudioguides.com

PS: If you’ve missed the first part of the program, you can catch up here:

Strengthening Intuition – A Program of Exercises

Image credit : Bibliojojo

Everyone has a story to tell…

In these days of emails, tweets and text messages we can spend our days constantly communicating, but not really sharing at that deeper level of connection.

One of my favourite forms of communication is a fairly old-fashioned one.  It involves conversation and cups of tea. Yesterday, my dear friend Carly-Jay Metcalfe, a poet and writer, came visiting with me as we sat in the kitchen of my neighbour, Gordon Greber, and heard some of his story.

Gordon is 85, nearing 86. He’s lived what he considers to be an ordinary life but as times change, what he has done and how he has lived is no longer ordinary. He has been a timber cutter, and cut sugar cane by hand and hauled it on his shoulder before the time of mechanical harvesters.  He’s been a fencer, a truck driver, a dairy man, a farmer.

As a young boy he left primary school when war broke out to work on a family banana farm, thus cutting dramatically short his formal education.

But Gordon, like many old bushies I have known, has a keen interest in the world around him.  Life has been his teacher. As we sit drinking strong tea and nibbling at the scones I have brought he gently unfolds his life before us.

There was plenty of hardship and cruelty in his childhood, followed by unending years of brutal physical labour in a range of jobs that took him far from where he was born, before he came full circle in 1954 and bought the farm he lives on today, not so far from his birthplace. That was the beginning of even more work, as he took a run-down and overgrown dairy farm and turned it into a home, and a productive enterprise.  He often worked several jobs, starting before sun-up and finishing well after sun-down in order to pay the bills. It took a huge toll on his health, but Gordon is uncomplaining. That was how life was back then, he said.  You had to work hard to get ahead. If you wanted a different life for your own family, that was just what you did.

I love watching Carly’s face as Gordon regales her with yarns about battles with brown snakes, friends killed in trucking accidents, crippling droughts and floods that tore families and farms apart. Gordon is so modest; his amazing stories told with humility and self- deprecation.

Carly’s drinking it in, and I see the writer in her storing it away.  Fodder for the mill. I know I will see echoes of this man’s life in her poetry, her novella, her fiction.

They part as firm friends, and I take one last photograph of them, Carly’s small hand pressed up against Gordon’s large one.  Both of them are battlers – with courage and grace by the bucketful. (More about Carly’s life-long journey with cystic fibrosis and a double lung transplant here) They have met life head on, and not given an inch. I wipe away a tear as they hug. Both cut from the same fabric, although they are not related and are generations apart.

Each of us has a story to tell, something to share, something to teach.  I hope that you can find some time to sit down with someone soon, and get to know each other a little better over a cuppa or a cold drink.  We are a tribe of storytellers – we need to hear them and share them.  It connects us.  It makes us whole. ♥