Hello March!

townhouse (2 of 4)Last month was a roller coaster of emotion as we went from the highs of just arriving and making new discoveries, to the mid-month lows when it all started to go to shit.  February ended on a nice, even keel as life started to settle into a new kind of normal.

We’re getting settled into our new home, and it’s beginning to feel more and more like a home.  Since the contents of my old kitchen are still in California, I’ve been doing my best to source those items I absolutely need, or at least think I do.

I try not to get too woo-woo very often, and I can tend towards the skeptic, but I am struck again and again with how the Universe will provide.  This last weekend was neighborhood clean up here in Balmain.  People put the items they no longer want out on the curb, and then people pick through it until the trash pick-up comes along.  Salt Lake City has this same thing, but here people throw away perfectly good stuff!  We were on our way out the door to go to IKEA, and we found an entire box of kitchen stuff on the curb.  Coffee cups, a big stainless steel bowl, a nice wok, and a chess set – everyone needs a chess set!

townhouse (1 of 4)This is what I like to call my easy-bake-oven.  It’s about the same size.  I thought all the stoves here were like this until I caught a glimpse of our neighbor’s from her front door.  It’s magnificent.  I am envious.  It’s one of those big fancy ranges you see on Pinterest in big, fancy European kitchens.

townhouse (3 of 4)This is our ‘lounge’ so far.  I have some mad decorating skills!  The furniture we ordered should be here in about five weeks.  We couldn’t justify paying $200 for a foot stool, so decided to wait on that.  Then Sunday, after we took our curb haul into the house, we came back out and found this blue foot stool across the street.  It’s in perfectly good condition; I’ll swap out that fabric for something that matches our new furniture, and it’ll all be good!

townhouse (4 of 4)This is the same room from the other direction.  Do you love that fancy red plastic chandelier?  As I was googling how to spell “bordello” I discovered that they are legal here in Sydney.  I did not know this.

We received word today that our shipment should commence sailing on the 14th.  It’s going to be like Christmas when it all gets here, and we see all the stuff we forgot we had.   We’ll be asking ourselves, “why did we ship this?”

I know there will be a comfort in getting our belongings back again.  Still, I have to wonder about this attachment to stuff.  We’ve gotten along just fine without all of it.  Sure, we’ve had to replace some things that we needed right away, but I’m thinking we don’t really need that 300 cubic feet of whatever it is we shipped to ourselves.  I know there is a mattress in there, my kitchen, and some books.  Cookbooks!  But we could have saved money and headaches by selling it all and starting from complete scratch.  As I packed, I tried to ask myself, “how much will it cost to ship this item vs. replace it when I get there?”  That question helped me let go of a lot of things, and I still kept a lot of things that wouldn’t really need to be replaced; I just like them.

As I look at this mostly empty space here, I think about stuff, and about wanting to decorate, nest, make it a home.  And then I think about what do I do with that stuff when it comes time to leave here?  I don’t want to go through the letting go of stuff again, so I’m half tempted to not put anything in here!  But I will, because I like stuff.  I want to accumulate.  I’m a crow who wants to fill her nest with shiny baubles.

Remedial Shopping

produce (1 of 1)In most of the U.S., everything is vast. Houses are big; kitchens are big; refrigerators are big; and grocery shopping trips fill a mini van.

I like to cook and having a fully stocked pantry and fridge gives me a feeling of security. I think this is an inheritance from Depression era parents. No longer having a vehicle in which to carry home loads of fully laden grocery bags, I’ve had to learn some new techniques.

The first adjustment was the acquisition of a wheelie cart. Not just any wheelie cart, but an insulated wheelie cart. It’s a shopping bag on wheels. I always considered these to be the dominion of old ladies, but, no matter that my children consider me an old lady, I’ve seen young men here pulling a cart behind them. This invention allows you to purchase more than you could comfortably juggle in bags slung over your shoulder, on the bus or hiking up and down the hilly streets.

In the U.S., I found myself purchasing most of the week’s comestibles from the Saturday farmers market, then making many side trips to various stores to fill in the gaps. I went to the health food store for raw milk and a particular brand of coconut oil with no guar gum. Whole Foods sold the laundry soap and peanut butter I liked, and Smith’s had cat food and toilet paper. Again, with a car that’s all easy. My only concern was with combining trips to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and the spewing into the air of more exhaust fumes.

Here in Sydney, I also find that foodstuffs I’m in search of are spread out across the map. I can get milk just up the street a couple blocks, at the quaint and diminutive Italian market run by sweet old Joe.  He has a nice selection of olive oils, delicious dried beans, and an assortment of imported pastas and semolina flour.

Another kilometer up the road is the butcher who specializes in organic, free range meats, and the fish market with fresh daily catch. A thirty minute bus ride will take me to the big shopping center and a market where I can find reasonably priced organic produce and most anything I might need to cook dinner. There are some things like raw milk, and almond meal that costs less than $8 a quarter cup, I have yet to locate.

While most everything I need is here in the city, getting it to my kitchen requires some puzzle piecing. To completely stock an empty kitchen can’t be done with a single wheelie bag or one trip to the market.

As I plan menus and shopping excursions I try to think through all the variables. This is not always one of my strong suits. I’ve mostly had to limit my purchases to no more than a couple of days worth at a time, as a good portion of the wheelie bag gets filled with staples and those kitchen tools I am having to replace. The thinking it through part means planning shopping lists that include the staples I need to replace, things like olive oil, red wine vinegar, flour – mostly things in heavy bags and glass bottles – and meals that require only those few staples I can get in one trip. Invariably, I get part way through dinner preparations and realize I don’t have a necessary ingredient, like salt, or a bowl to mix it in. Or a spoon to stir it with.

Another element of planning centers on the excursion itself: where am I going and how will I get there? While I am trying my best to get my walking legs in shape, I admit that too often I jump on the bus across the street and ride to the top of the hill. From there I work my way down. If I’m really organized and still have room in the wheelie cart, I can take the bus to the shopping center, and on the way back get off at the top of the hill and continue shopping on the walk down. OK, I haven’t really done that yet. I’ve just thought about it.

As I write this, I’m considering this afternoon’s shopping trip and trying to convince my tired feet that a walk up the hill would be good for them. I haven’t thought any of it through, farther than I need milk to make kefir, and I already have eggs and bits of this and that, that will become dinner. I haven’t made a shopping list or taken any of my own advice. I don’t think I’ll even take the wheelie cart. Just for today, I’ll live on the edge.

So Much Depends Upon a Three Piece Bistro Set

bistro set (1 of 2)I have these ideas of what elements are necessary to create a good life. Coffee on the patio, in the morning, with pen and paper in hand, is an absolute.

I only began this practice five years ago when we bought our house in Salt Lake City. Prior to that, coffee on the patio was only a fantasy that I pasted pictures of in my manifestation journal. As I think of it now, even after we bought the patio set, this practice remained more of an ideal than an actual reality. In the first warm days of spring I would sit out there, through June and the profusion of iris and poppies. Then July would find me hiding indoors again, away from the heat, until the end of August when I would go out again to dream about the approaching autumn. Then winter would return and I’d go back indoors to sit in a window, an acceptable alternative when it’s snowing.

This last year, I sat on the patio every opportunity I could find, knowing that at any moment I might be giving up that garden seat. Rose the six-toed cat would sit there with me each morning. (Gardens need a black and white cat to make them complete.) She died one day in September, and the next day we sold the patio set. I remember that morning, feeling I couldn’t bear to sit out there without her. Then as I watched the furniture being hauled away I regretted not spending one last morning there.

Winter came again and sitting on the patio was no longer an option, with or without a cat and a chair. The cold days of the northern hemisphere soon gave way to summer in the southern half of the world and I found myself on a balcony overlooking the streets of a Sydney suburb.

For thirty days I drank my coffee watching cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets, and a very vocal and territorial Australian Raven. As we spent the last month searching for a more permanent antipodean home, a proper patio was a required feature. We found this place, with not one, but two patios. I could choose which one I wanted to occupy on any given morning!

Except that I didn’t have a table or even a chair for the patio. Oh sure, I could have hauled a dining room chair out every day, but instead I sat in the dark corner, where I sit now because it’s raining, and pined for a seat in the open air. My mornings were just not quite satisfying.

Then last night, our two overly generous Kiwi friends came over for housewarming drinks, to break in the space with friendship and laughter. With them they brought a three piece bistro set: our housewarming gift. Once again, my life is complete.

That may come off as hyperbole and it’s not. The enormity of this gift goes far beyond the physicality of a small round table and two accompanying chairs. That bistro set is a front row seat to the day. It is a place to greet the morning, under the open sky where my thoughts and imagination can expand ever upward. It is a meditation retreat, a sacred shrine surrounded by flowers and vines. From that seat I can place my feet flat on the ground, feel my sit bones, and my connection to Earth.

That seat is where I plan to spend the next three years writing. It will be the birthing grounds of blog posts, short stories, essays, and articles I hope to publish. So yes, it is much more than a place to sit. This gift returned to me one of the things I miss most from my life in Salt Lake, one of the most important elements of my day and of my home. That bistro set and the friends that gave it to us transformed this place, a place I was feeling questionable about, into a home. Even if it’s raining and I can’t go outside to drink my coffee and write, I can think about doing it, and know that as soon as it stops raining I can go out there. And when I’m there, I will always be reminded of the loving and generous nature of the friends that made it possible.

~ for Merrolee and Lindsay

Stone the Flamin’ Crows, Mate!

Glebe Point Road and Rozelle Bay (11 of 18)
They say never say, “it can’t get any worse,” because it certainly can. This week has continued on its downward spiral. I was wrong; it’s not ok. Yet.

On Wednesday, I just couldn’t face the antipodean world, so I holed up in the air conditioned temporary lodgings instead of going to the new place, and never even bothered to get dressed until Craig came home from work and insisted (he didn’t have to try too hard) on taking me out to eat and filling my gullet with beer. I woke up Thursday in a brighter mood, believing all would be well.

I was determined that if I just pushed forth and made that place into a home, all would be well. To start, we needed to stock the larders. I headed to the market with my insulated wheelie cart and filled it up with milk, butter, cheese, and assorted other items that really like to be kept cold. I jumped on the bus (quite a feat with the wheelie cart) and traveled the thirty minutes to Balmain. Just as I was walking up the hill to our new home, I realized the keys were in the other apartment.

I stood there in the sun, my clothes clinging to my hot, damp self, and the tears started to fill my eyes. Then I cussed a little and stamped my foot, and rummaged through my bag begging any god that might care to listen. But I knew they weren’t there. After sending hysterical text messages to the spouse about what an absent minded twit I’ve become, I took a breath, cussed some more because that just feels good, hid the groceries in a shady bush, and got back on the bus. Luckily, the property management wasn’t too far up the road and they let me borrow keys.

I got back to the townhouse, unloaded the groceries, still naively believing it was all going to be fine. I had brought an old dress to change into while I cleaned, so I didn’t get any dirt on my sweat soaked clothes I had worn over. It was on the bottom of the wheelie cart; the ice pack I put in there leaked. No problem, I thought. I’ll just toss it into our brand new washer/dryer contraption that we bought last Saturday and I haven’t used yet.

The machine didn’t work.

I think this is when I started to cry for real. There was a lot more cussing and yelling, “I want to go HOME!!!!!” More breathing, and I decided to give up for the day. Because we thought we would be moving in last night, I had left Craig’s dry cleaning at the local cleaners. I hiked back up the road (it’s uphill both ways) to the cleaners. I stepped into the hot, steamy establishment, surprised that anything could be steamier than it was outside on the sidewalk. I had a nice chat with Gabby and Carol about accessing internet in Balmain. Gabby shook her head and said, “Awwww, you’re not from Australia, are you?” (Craig pointed out later that we had better internet when we were in Uganda.) After chatting with the ladies, I was able to see the humor in this whole business, and headed back to the air-conditioned apartment to start drinking.

Is it clear that I’m traveling back and forth between two properties in two different suburbs every day, sometimes a couple times a day?

The sun came up this morning and with it a positive attitude for me. I smiled at my husband and at the sun and the birds outside carrying on. I stretched my road-weary feet and stood up on them. I can do this. It’s going to be a good day.

I checked my email. I’ve been emailing the moving company for days trying to get the status of our shipment. The agent I’ve been working with from the beginning, wasn’t responding, so yesterday I tried another name. He responded promptly, albeit obliquely. We went back and forth for quite awhile, with him never answering the question, “where’s my stuff?”. I did, later, at the end of their day, get an email from their accounting department that our payment had been received. It costs a small fortune to ship your belongings overseas.

What I found in my inbox this morning was a message saying that our stuff has never actually left California. Now I understand why they were avoiding me.  They wanted the dollars before they gave me the news.

I’m still trying to believe it’s all going to be ok. I found a knitting group in our new neighborhood (or is that neighbourhood?). They meet on the first and third Friday of every month. I knew that if I just go hang out with some locals, especially locals who knit, my faith would be restored.

Well, no. I had it in my head that they met at noon. At 10:30, me still in Chippendale, a good 30 minute bus ride from Balmain and that doesn’t account for the ten minute walk to the bus stop or the 15-30 minute wait for the bus that’s always late, I realized that they met at 10:00 until noon.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

I still believe it’s going to be ok. Isn’t that the definition of insanity???

On the way back to the air-conditioned apartment today, I stopped at a little market just a couple blocks from our new place. It’s run by Joe, a darling upper middle aged Italian man. We chatted. Chatting with the locals does renew my faith, and reminds me that it doesn’t all suck.

I took the bus up the road to the property management and dropped off the condition report, with “no” written on almost every box that questions, “tenant agrees?” as to whether or not that item was clean and in working order. At the next bus stop there is a young man, probably 11 or 12. He looked up at me and promptly scooted over to make room. He politely informed me that if I wanted the 445, it had just passed, but the 433 hadn’t arrived though it should have done. Then his phone rang and he was all, “Hello Mum!” “Yes please” “No thank you” “I love you, Mum!”

If there are 12 year old boys in the world that are that polite and sweet to their mums, then, yes, it’s going to be ok.

Foreigner in a Foreign Land

trip to Manly Beach (7 of 18)
I wondered when it would happen, when I would hit that wall of culture shock and homesickness. Three and a half weeks, that’s the point when I became frustrated with the foreignness of every action, every unintelligible phrase picked up by my American ears.

For three and a half weeks, this new world was bathed in a magical, golden glow of newborn awe. Sun and sea breeze, colorful birds and fragrant blossoms, friendly, outgoing people, eager to talk and welcome us to their country. I found the differences charming; the little peculiarities – peculiar to me simply because they’re different from what I’m accustomed to – were nothing more than minor blips in my day, more learning moments. “Oh that’s different, too.”

You don’t realize until you’re here how many things you have to re-learn. Something as simple as where to buy a broom becomes a mystery to be solved. Not only do they drive on the other side of the street, but the latches in our new house have to be turned the opposite way from what you’d think in order to open the doors.

Being on vacation in a foreign country is different from living there. You bring what you need to get you through your stay. You go out to eat and don’t have to think much about electricity, water, internet, or how to clean your lodgings. You know that you’ll soon be returning to all that is familiar and comforting to you.

Taking up residence in a new place makes you realize just how much one takes for granted, especially if you rid yourself of most every worldly belonging and are starting from absolute scratch. Use to, if I wanted to mail a package, I went to the drawer where I kept packaging materials and wrapped that package. I had paper, tape, a black Sharpie. I don’t even know how to ask for a Sharpie, much less who might sell such a thing. And I’m in an English speaking country. Just imagine how hard it is for a person who moves to a country where no one speaks your language and you don’t speak theirs. Like those poor people running through the hall outside my door right now because they didn’t understand the announcement that the fire alarm was only a test and they should disregard it.

The glow started to wear off for me probably this last weekend, when I started to question if we’d made a bad choice on our rental property. Then on Monday, I started having trouble with my prepaid public transport card. My bus rides were costing 3 times as much as they ought to. When I got online to look at my card activity, I found that even with being charged the wrong amounts, the math wasn’t adding up to the balance they reported on my account. Are common and accepted rules of mathematics different, also? I called and talked to a person; he fixed the erroneous charges, but I was not able to articulate, in an understandable manner, the problem with the math. Today, I looked at my account again. I started yesterday with $66.00 on the account; I spent $4.20; my balance today is $58.16.  Is it just me?  Do I need to take a remedial math course?

I’m still questioning our rental choice. It’s a lot dirtier than I realized. I really should wear my glasses more often. In my effort to clean, I became not only irritated with the property management who swore that the cleaning crew was there on Friday (maybe they were there but they didn’t clean), but with the cheap tools I had to work with. I don’t know where to purchase quality, sturdy mops and such. I went to the Australia version of K-mart and Target, and all I could find were dollar store quality cleaning tools. Where is the Bed, Bath and Beyond of Australia? Where are my perfectly good cleaning tools that I gave or threw away when I left the U.S.? Why did I leave my pretty little bungalow to come here and rent a dirty, cockroach infested, townhouse with vinyl “wood” floors?

I know that I’ll get past this. It will all become easier as the days go by and I figure out a new way of living. I’ll walk down to the harbor and watch the boats go by. I’ll listen to the cockatoos carry on, and I’ll breathe in the aroma of frangipani.

It will be ok. It will be ok. It will be ok.

Trip to Manly Beach

trip to Manly Beach (17 of 18)“I must go down to the seas again; to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by” ~ John Masefield, Sea Fever

Opera House (1 of 1)I got my first glimpse of the Opera House last Sunday, as we rode the ferry to Manly Beach.  Unfortunately, there were too many heads in the way to get a good photo.  This will do for now!

trip to Manly Beach (1 of 18)My favorite “fellow-rover”. He got some great photos!

trip to Manly Beach (4 of 18)The view from the ferry was lovely.  On Sundays, you can travel all over by bus, train, and ferry for a maximum cost of $2.50 with the Opal prepaid transport card.  That’s a good deal!  Many others were traveling to Manly that day, as it was the Australian Open for surfing.

trip to Manly Beach (9 of 18)This little guy is inspecting a pile of jelly fish.  Another helpful young man was going around with his shovel, picking them up and placing them in a marked off area so people wouldn’t get stung.  Luck was definitely on my side; as I stepped from the water, I felt the slightest sting, just as I glanced ahead to see this collection.  I think one must have just barely brushed my foot.  I got away easy; I saw what happened to a small child who didn’t.

trip to Manly Beach (13 of 18)These guys were fun to watch with their soccer ball.  They bounced that ball off their heads, hips, knees, and never touched it with their hands.

trip to Manly Beach (14 of 18)

trip to Manly Beach (15 of 18)I couldn’t help but notice a relaxed attitude toward beachwear.  I saw women much older than myself, and not what I’d call fit, wearing bikinis.  It got me wondering about how body image issues are experienced here.  After asking around and paying attention to what I saw in the media, it became apparent that while the same media messages are being sent, and people do have body image issues, with the beach culture here people are simply more relaxed and uninhibited.  I will not be putting on a bikini any time soon and most likely never.

trip to Manly Beach (18 of 18)“And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.”
~ John Masefield, Sea Fever

I may or may not disappear for a few days if I lose internet.  We may or may not be moving into our new place this weekend and apparently it will take awhile to get the internet hooked up.

Anyway, you have a great weekend!

A Coffee Lover’s Paradise

coffee (4 of 10)I admit, I judge a city by the accessibility and quality of its coffee.  Based on availability alone, this place beats any other city where I’ve drank coffee.  Walk down the street and it seems that every other door is a cafe and espresso bar.

These guys are serious about their coffee.  You will not find brewed coffee; in fact, they like to make fun of the (American) diner style restaurants with their never-ending pours.  They go on and on about the “nasty stuff, sitting on the burner for hours.”

coffee (1 of 10)The coffee here is entirely based on espresso.  I’ve made it my personal mission to try every coffee drink available, and to drink coffee in as many spots as possible, without becoming overly caffeinated.

coffee (2 of 10)The problem with drinking coffee in cafes is they always have so many pastries to tempt as well!  This is a flat white, a drink that was developed right here in Australia.  It starts with espresso and adds steamed milk with very little foam.  It’s similar to a cappuccino, but smaller, with a higher proportion of coffee to milk.  This one came from Sappho Books Cafe & Wine bar.

coffee (3 of 10)This lovely, little cup is a piccolo latte from Glebe Deli Cafe.   This begins with a ristretto shot, ristretto being the first extraction of the espresso, to which is added the steamed and textured milk, and served in a tiny little glass.

coffee (5 of 10)We’ve returned again and again to Twenty8Acres for their coffee, not only because they’re next door, but because we are guaranteed a superb cup of coffee, delicious food, and fun conversation from the staff and owners.  This petite cup, with a cute little face, is a macchiato, similar to the flat white, but with less milk.

Chef Brendan Nolan talked to me a little about Sydney coffee culture.  He said that it began as early as the 1970s, and over the years more and more cafes were popping up.  Sydney coffee drinkers were keen for a European style coffee drink.

coffee (7 of 10)Latte Art, the pretty hearts, flowers, and faces drawn in the milk, also began to gain popularity, with the most passionate baristas attending specialized schools to learn the art.  At Twenty8Acres they are proud of their baristas and the coffee they serve.  They use only beans from Numero Uno, a boutique roaster in Sydney.

coffee (6 of 10)I’ve come close to trying all the coffees on their menu.  I branched out one day and had a Dirty Chai, hot chai with a shot of espresso added.  It did not disappoint!

coffee (8 of 10)Today, I decided it was time to try the technically challenging ristretto.  It takes a talented barista to get the right pour on this.  It is the first half of an espresso extraction, using the same amount of coffee, but half as much water.  The flavor is richer, nuttier, and sweeter than an espresso.

coffee (9 of 10)I seriously did not go there to get pastry.  It just showed up on my table.  Thank you, Chef Brendan:)

coffee (10 of 10)The gluten-free orange poppy seed cake is to die for.  Just look at the attention they pay to detail, the board dusted with sugar and the shadow of the fork.

I should probably stop thinking about coffee now and start thinking about what I’m making for tea.  That’s dinner:)

Eveleigh Farmers Market

Eveleigh Market (1 of 6)We discovered the Eveleigh (pronounce: Everly) Farmers Market this last weekend.  The market takes place every Saturday throughout the year, with the exception of Christmas holidays.  North South Wales growers, artisan food producers, and hungry shoppers fill the Blacksmith’s Workshop, a heritage listed building.

Eveleigh Market (2 of 6)I tried not to squeal too much at all the fresh produce,

Eveleigh Market (3 of 6)and the eggs from happy pastured hens!

Eveleigh Market (4 of 6)I’ve never heard of most of these varieties of potatoes.  We chose some Pink Fir Apple potatoes.

Eveleigh Market (5 of 6)Beautiful mushrooms.  I don’t remember what he told me the variety was.

Eveleigh Market (6 of 6)There were a couple flower stands, and another stand that sold potted herbs and some garden plants.

This market had everything you could imagine: pastured organic meats, fermented, cultured butter, cheeses, Australian olive oil, wine, bread, bread, bread and pastries, sauerkraut, kimchi, meat pies… oh my the list goes on!  I saw a couple varieties of fruit that I’d either never tried and/or never heard of.

Everything in the market is grown or produced in NSW (New South Wales).  I’m having to re-learn and probably re-define my idea of local foods.  I’ve done a little research so far; generally local food enthusiasts consider “local” to be within 160 km (almost 100 miles; I’m trying to learn, and think in, the metric system).  Tropical fruits like mangoes come from farther out than that, and are grown in the more tropical areas of NSW.

Back in the U.S., the bulk of our food came from within a 100-200 mile radius.  Still, I made exception for things like olive oil, coffee, wine, and other liquors.  Bananas and the occasional mango came from many more miles away from us than what we’re getting here.  I have to say, I’ve really never had a serious mango until now.  The difference is amazing.

I’m thinking seriously of signing up for the Local Harvest Eat Local challenge in April. If I’m going to do that, I need to decide how I’m going to challenge myself;  I need to push myself to rein in my exceptions a little.  I am looking forward to getting to know local growers, where they grow and what their methods are, as well as explore some of the other Sydney markets (there are more than just one!)

I’m still not giving up coffee, but I’ll keep to local roasters and baristas;)

100 Points

100 points (1 of 1)Before you do anything here, you have to have satisfy the 100 point check.  This is a list of documents you must produce in order to prove you are who you say you are, it came about as a result of the 1988 Financial Transactions Reports Act in order to limit fraud.  You’ll need this verification to rent an apartment, start a phone service, obtain a driver’s license, open a bank account, and I’m sure there are many more that we just haven’t run into yet.

When we first got here, we hiked over to the shopping center to get my phone set up, forgot all about the 100 points until we sat down to sign the contract, and had to hike back home.  That hike is nothing more than a quick jaunt now, but we had jet lag that first day.  Now we remember our points.

Each item carries a point value, depending on the particular agency you are working with.  You have to have enough documents to add up to 100 points.  The passport generally carries the most points, with birth certificates, driver’s license, bank statements, employer letters, utility bills, and credit cards holding fewer points.  A driver’s license from another country often doesn’t count for anything.  Each entity has its own list of which documents they will accept and which are not worth the paper they are printed on.

We managed to pull together our combined 200 points to rent a lovely townhouse that we get to move into eight days from now.  I can’t wait to post pics!  Of course, we don’t really have anything to put in it.  Our stuff is on a boat somewhere between here and California.  I hope I get to see it again someday.

Still Letting Go

I had terrible nightmares all last night. I dreamed we were still back at the Utah house, the plane was leaving in a couple hours and we hadn’t finished packing or clearing out the house. There was so much stuff there! Piles and piles, and I wondered where it all came from; I thought I’d finished packing. I kept finding old family keepsakes and objects from my childhood that I thought I had shipped to my mother’s, things I didn’t want to lose, but had no room for them in the luggage.

I’d wake up, wait for my eyes to adjust, then breathe a sigh of relief. I was here in Sydney; the house in Utah is empty. Then I’d go back to sleep and start the same dream, but this time the buyers had already moved in and they were following me around as I tried to clean up, waiting for me to get my stuff out. This went on all night.

The truth is, we let the buyers move in last Thursday, because we thought everything was all but wrapped up after extension upon extension had been granted to them. When we got word yesterday that it still hadn’t recorded, it looked like Craig’s fear of squatters in our house was becoming way too real. Finally today it recorded.

Relief. It’s done. Hopefully no more dreams.

In real life, back when I was sorting and purging, I came across a box of my childhood stuffed animals and dolls, lovies as my granddaughter calls them. They were disintegrating from decades of storage in a box, not something I’d want to display, yet it was hard to let go of them. It felt like throwing a piece of my childhood away.

I remembered reading somewhere, I don’t remember now where, a suggestion of photographing your keepsakes, then keeping the photo and letting the physical object go. So I did that. Yes, I took portraits of my lovies. Here they are.

childhood toys (16 of 20)

childhood toys (18 of 20)

childhood toys (14 of 20)

childhood toys (13 of 20)

childhood toys (12 of 20)

childhood toys (11 of 20)

childhood toys (10 of 20)

childhood toys (6 of 20)

childhood toys (3 of 20)