Friday 30 November 2012

Moving (house) with the times

I feel as if I've been on a long trip – around the world and back and forth in time. I've been moving house, and it's been quite a mind-ride. 

Re-reading old letters and travel stories (found my first ever story, about a three-month overland trip across Africa, published way back in 1991 when I still used a typewriter and "google" was just a silly word). Looking at photos (slides!). Finding things I’m no longer attached to (and some I still am – e.g. random souvenirs: a prayer wheel here, a fridge magnet there). Thinking about stuff and how we relate to it.

A small disclaimer: I just moved downstairs into a newly renovated apartment, out of the soon-to-be-renovated upstairs apartment of this two-storey house. 

Inherited cupboard - thanks, Teri!
But a move is a move, and I hadn’t changed my address for almost 10 years. So there was lots of sorting to do - through objects accumulated, inherited from long-gone flatmates, forgotten about and saved for “later”. It was difficult, time-consuming, wearying.

There was dismay: I generated more rubbish in two weeks than I have in the past six months – tossing out things that can’t be re-used, recycled, sold or given away – but it is 10 years' worth of stuff. And gosh it felt good. I'm no hoarder (I love getting rid of things) but I was flabbergasted at the amount of stuff I had (past tense).

There was joy, too: at being able to dispose of a lot of stuff responsibly. Let me count the ways:

1. There was an ewaste collection in my street at just the right time.
2. Paper be gone: I emptied two filing cabinets into the paper recycling bin (let's hear it for digital files, hippip...). 
3. Gumtree is great - the other day I gave away a microwave, an iron, an ironing board and a step ladder, five minutes after posting the ad on Gumtree. It's free and easy to use and I've met some lovely people.
4. Vinnies - I’ve got a small room of stuff waiting to go to St Vincent de Paul. Crockery, clothes, lampshades, books. All for a good cause, helping families in need :)

Magazines going cheap (free)
5. Giveaways - Come over to my house, I'll give you some stuff! Friends have been very obliging this past week or so. There's a pile of books waiting to go to Desire Books in Manly (best second-hand book shop in the universe). Stacks of Outdoor Australia (now Australian Geographic Outdoor) magazines going to the editor for his archives. 

A highlight (an indication of my current head-space): our old fridge went to recycling heaven today, saved from landfill hell by the Fridge Buyback program – for fridges made before 1996 and larger than 200 litres. Two surly men picked it up and took it away in a truck, to be de-gassed (to prevent gases escaping into the atmosphere) and taken apart for scrap metal. 

New home + neighbour's cat Miffy
Now it's almost done, peace is returning and some free time. And at the end of it all, the reward is a new place to call home, not so much clutter and a clearer head, less shackled to the past and ready for new experiences. Bring it on J

Thursday 22 November 2012

Swimming with minke whales (part 2)

A short post this week as I'm in the throes of moving house (oh the catharsis of decluttering!) and hardly have time to string two thoughts together.

But here's my latest story from the pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, about swimming with minke whales off the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, called Meet the minkes. (You can re-read my original blog post about the trip here: Minke magic.)

That's all for now, back to swimming with boxes...