35 days sounds quite a long time, until it dawns on you that you have to completely clear the house, shed and garage of all your belongings within that time.
“It’s not too bad”, I said to Barry. “We’ve already given a lot of things to Luke when he moved out, and I did chuck some stuff out of the cupboards when we painted them.” Baz just raised his eyebrows and gave me one of his “yeah right” looks. Organised as always, he had lists.
Things to give to Luke for his place now we’d sold our place;
things for Gordon as a big thank you for helping us with the renovations,
things for friends,
things for Lifeline, and
things for the tip.
Big items were easy to distribute: couches, tables, beds, fridge, washing machine – they were all just Things to me, and I wasn’t attached to them at all - just so much weight around our necks that I was happy to jettison. Crystal decanters from previous weddings, glasses, Royal Worcester dining set (what was left after 20 years of family use) were also given away pain free to Lifeline.
What I found tugged on the heartstrings were the more personal items, the ones with more significance, family history or sentimental in value. Items such as my little silver fork, and knife with the mother of pearl handle, which had been my sister’s and which I’d learned to eat with when I was barely 18 months old, and the silver napkin ring that had housed my linen napkin when I was a child posed a bit of a wrench. I couldn’t return them to my sister Judi, as we knew we would really be struggling with space and weight in our suitcases and these sentimental possessions were non-essential in terms of packing for our new lives. If I kept all of the little things, we would be way over our baggage allowance. I considered mailing them to Judi, but she now lives in a small retirement flat and space is a premium for her too. So what to do with them?
I ran through my friends in my mind, searching for someone who would not only value these old items, but would also perhaps use them. Eventually, my mental list stopped at Annabel, the mother of the owner of Bird Gard where I worked. She reminds me of my mother, is small, gentle yet has an inner strength, and importantly, also retains the ‘old, traditional’ way of doing things. She had recently become a grandmother, and it occurred to me that when her granddaughter was old enough, Annabel would quite likely delight in using this set when her granddaughter came to stay. So, together with the napkin ring, the knife and fork were gifted to her in a little hand-felted purse I had made.
I can’t get rid of my creative supplies!
Many other small items were easy to dispose of. My extensive stash of creative supplies however, caused me a great deal of dithering, as I tried to work out what to take and what to sell or give away. Emotionally attached to what represented my creative passion, I simply couldn’t decide what to take. Watercolours, acrylics, boxes of wet-felting materials, pans and eco-printing equipment, jewellery making supplies – how could I release any of these things? Supposing I got rid of something, but then needed it? I got quite emotional about it all.
Baz saw how upset I was becoming and offered to help me to prioritise what I could take with me onto a small boat. He asked me questions which seem obvious now, but which had eluded me, though when asked, simplified my decision making process to very definite choices. His line of questioning and my answers went something like this:
Q. What are the main arty things you do?
A. Felting, eco-printing, painting, jewellery making
Q. Give me the pros and cons of each one
A. Felting: Once made, scarves are lightweight and sell easily at markets. But, I need lots of space as it shrinks up to 50% during manufacture, so a scarf needs a whole kitchen bench top to make it on. When I’m laying out the wool rovings, any slight breeze will blow the wispy fibres away. That would be a problem on a boat! I have four boxes of wool and silk rovings and felting materials, I don’t think we will have the storage or working space for it all. I won’t be able to make felt on the boat.
No to the felting option.
Eco-printing: It does use natural materials – leaves, silk, wool and cotton. However, it needs to be boiled for up to 2 hours for prints to take place. On the boat we will be restricted in terms of water and power. Plus the pans I use are large. And I’m also concerned if I want to use mordants other than vinegar – they’ll be going straight into the sea. No that won’t be a viable craft.
No to the eco-printing option.
Painting: I love painting and can paint large (murals) or small works in watercolour or acrylics. I think small bright paintings would sell well, and are also fairly easy to store and transport to craft markets or sell via the internet. I’m not sure about taking the paints – I know many are good quality and expensive, but I have so many, I’m not sure which I’ll need and they’ll take a bit of space to transport. I think I’ll give what I have away to an arty friend and buy new ones as I need them. I will keep the watercolour pencils though as they’re easy to transport.
Yes to the painting option.
Jewellery making: I mainly make sterling silver and copper wire-wrapped jewellery using shells and beach glass. We’ll be on the yacht visiting beaches. I’ll be able to make jewellery from beach finds along our journey. My equipment all fits into one box, so it could be mailed to us once we have our boat. Jewellery is always an excellent seller at markets and I can also make my work available for purchase through the internet. It is light and easy to package and mail. This craft just lends itself to our lifestyle.
Yes to the jewellery making option.
Once Barry had helped me make my decision, it was simple to sell or give away what I wouldn’t need. A friend of mine who is also an amazing felter – Marnie Lee (Feltarty) was my first choice for the felting materials and most of the other materials went to Shannon, a friend of Luke’s who is madly creative; and finally art pads, brushes and some paints went to an old folk’s home for their craft days.
Everything else made its way out of the house one way or another.
Valuable keepsakes for the meditation group
Many of my crystals and other beautiful objects went to members of ‘my’ meditation group, who received gifts which were appropriate for each one. That, in a way, was a lovely way of dividing up the group’s things, but also gave everyone a keepsake and memory of our wonderful time together.
Some of the essentials were given to Pam Townsend, who is bravely taking over the group. She already runs a spiritual church and has wanted to have a meditation group for a while. The members from ‘my’ group have embraced her and it is heart warming to know that I didn’t leave everyone in the lurch, but that the group continues with a facilitator of pure heart.
Throwing out clothes wasn’t too bad either
Many of my leisure clothes had paint splotches on them, some of my clothes were out dated, some not suitable for yacht wear and some I just plain didn’t like any more. Given I had to fit them into 2 cases, and some of the space in my cases would be needed for computer or camera parts, I made pretty cut and dried decisions about what I would take with me. The hardest thing for me was getting rid of shoes (I love shoes). I had a few pairs of high heels that I had kept ‘just in case’, you know for occasions like weddings, but the last major occasion had been Luke’s formal when he left school and I really couldn’t justify keeping some of these pointy beauties. So off they went to Lifeline! I was left with a pair of trainers, one pair of high heel silk shoes which went with my dresses and one pair of back sandals for evening wear on land, one pair of nice flat pumps and a new pair purchased for travelling in, which were elegant and comfy. I know, that may still sound like a lot to some, and I may well still ditch the high heels at a future date, but they did all fit into one section of one suit case, so I figured that was an indulgence I could afford!
I did allow myself to keep some reminders of my past
I kept my teddy that I had as a baby. I also kept a pair of clap sticks, which were made by Aboriginal Aunties in the sacred land near Uluru in Australia’s red centre – and given to me by one of my meditation mentors, Linda Hodson. It gives me a great sense of honour to be carrying a sacred part of Australia with me as I travel the world. I also kept my Arthurian Hallowquest deck of tarot cards that I’d used since 1991. I really couldn’t let those go, and besides, if needed, I could still read people’s cards for income if some future need arose!
Where did the month go?
By the end of the 35 days, Barry and I had disposed of pretty much everything we wouldn’t need on the yacht, with last minute disposals (such as bulky items including Barry’s vinyl record collection) to occur closer to the final trial pack nearer our departure date.
For now though, we were able to do a final clean of what had been our family home for the last 16 years, and closed the door on one very important chapter of our lives.
We took one last look at the mountain behind the house, said goodbye to the rainforest we’d planted there 15 years before, and drove two semi-laden cars down the long bitumen driveway and out onto the road. Adventure awaited us. But we couldn’t quite step on a plane to Europe yet, until we finalised the banking, paid off the mortgage, organised paperwork and squared up book keeping with the accountant. As Barry has written in his blog # 5 – Hotel California, leaving the ‘system’ isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.
Now though, we were officially homeless and we had approximately one month before our flights to Javea in Spain, which would be our base until we purchased a yacht. Until then, we would take up the offer of some good family friends to stay with them until we left Australia on Barry’s 55th birthday, on the 18th of December 2017.