A portrait of my children once a week, for the whole year.

11-52 diptych

Xavier: He found a copy of “Mary Poppins” at Daddy’s shop (aka. The Salvos…aka…The Salvation Army Family Store).  As he is rather obsessed with the score from the original Walt Disney musical — Chim, Chimeny being his absolute favourite piece — I tried to explain that this was the book which inspired the music.  He was very, very confused.  “Dere’s no music here, Mummy,” he said while looking through the pages…I think he was looking for the actual sheet music.

Eva:  It is a totally fluke that I found them like this.  And the only thing that I love more than the fact that I found them this way, is that she is “reading” a book from the Anne of Green Gables series.  Is there possibly a better heroine for a little girl or even one more apt to describe my Eva than beloved Anne with an ‘e’?  I think not. Except perhaps Jo March from Little Women.

(Although, look out in the comments people — I’m sure my professional book critic sisters will argue that one with me!)

This is an ode to our daddy.

Our daddy works in an op shop.  That’s short of ‘opportunity shop’ as we Australians like to say.  Which in other words, is a thrift store.  Jason is a man of very many talents and has had many jobs ranging from pastoral to teaching to managing shops to web design.  He even speaks Mandarin Chinese.  Currently, he finds himself at what is certainly not as his dream job but what is quite possibly the best interim job he’s ever had.

Well, in the eyes of his children and wife anyway.

I absolutely couldn’t be more stoked that my husband works at second hand store — for the Salvo’s none the less!  It appeals to my sense of sustainability, recycling and world changing.

This man is wonderful.

The other day, he texted me to tell me about a conversation he’d had with a 13 year old boy who had been homeless for six months.  Self imposed.  It breaks his heart (and mine).  He set him  up with a preloved phone and some food and a date with the Salvo’s welfare office.  He gives away more than he asks for.  The Salvo’s job is, in a way, a perfect fit for him.  For now at least.

And this is the man who was originally allergic to second hand items, I might add.  Not the dust…the fact that someone had owned it before and he didn’t know its history.  I take full credit in changing him.  It has taken a good eight years of marriage to get to this point but I can safely say, I am now the one turning down the secondhand items that he wants to bring home.  That, folks, is a huge difference.

When we were newly weds, and having moved internationally with no jobs and a tiny apartment of our own, I naturally assumed that we’d furnish our first home from garage sales and second hand shops.  It took me ages to figure out that Jason did not do garage sales.  So you can imagine my absolute delight when I got a job as a nanny in a rather well to do neighbourhood and I discovered they had road side collection day!!! While I thought all my Christmases had come at once, Jason was horrified.

For about three days straight, I walked home from work, my arms laden with as many things as I could carry and then I would take Jason back with me to pick up the things I couldn’t lift myself.

Like a heavy iron lampstand, a set of huge terracotta pots and a full croquet set.  God bless him, he tolerated me.

“Why do you need a croquet set?” he asked me, slouching further and further into his seat on the driver’s side…like he didn’t want people to recognise him or something.

“Well…because I don’t have one and someone is throwing it away and I could use it for something…like a table!  Yes I could put a piece of glass on it and we’d have a lovely feature side table in our living room…”

“So…you’re not actually going to use it for croquet?”

“Probably not.”

“So we could just leave it there for the trash collection.”

Finally on day three of my rounds, Jason made me promise never to ask him to do this again.  I was crushed.

It took me nearly two years to get him to even step inside a second hand shop after that.

And then…somehow…somewhere between poverty and broke…he saw the light.  He saw that not only was shopping second hand a necessary way to provide for our family, but also, one’s man’s junk is another girl’s treasure.  Also, that people throw away, perfectly usable things that others need.  Furthermore, that people throw away things that have plenty of life left in them.  People throw away awesome stuff.  

From clothes to furniture to food, I say waste not!  My sisters call me an Urban Forager — its a title I wear with pride.

We live in such a disposable society.  Now I see the trend is go so far as to not buy anything at all.  I don’t think that solves anything.  Well, it saves money of course.  But I think our money and time is better spent in recycling and upcylcing…repurposing and reusing and putting our money and time into small businesses that can fix things up and make things better than new again.  Or into organisations like The Salvo’s who’s profits go to funding their welfare and community initiatives.

Now, our daddy is trying his best to get his own web developing business off the ground, but in the meantime, in Xave’s own words, our daddy has the best shop in the world!