So I am chatting to The Girl on the phone and she says, "So how are you feeling?" and I say quickly, as every mother throughout history always says to her children, "I'm fine. FINE." And she says, "Well, that's good." And then she adds, my darling Girl-Woman-Child, "You know you don't have to be, don't you?"
And here I am on this glorious blue and golden Easter afternoon, quietly enjoying the freedom of not having to be fine. Instead I am being tired and fragile and grieving a little for the hopes I had for a forever-family home, and being a little wobbly and shaky about the decision to leave. Of course it is too late to change my mind, but it's never too late for a good dollop of self-doubt, is it? And in my mind's eye there are children climbing the pear tree and swinging in the hammock and shrieking in the cubby house and building castles in the sandpit. As Lucinda said in the comments on the last post, "I am sure the Germans have a word for the feeling of moving forward while still feeling sad at good byes, they are good at those words." Exactly. Whatever that word is, that is what I am feeling today. But also feeling okay about not being so completely fine as I like to let on.
So thank you, my darling girl, for your gift, which I am taking with both hands, and will try to remember to give freely in turn - the gift of making a little space in which those that we love can be sad when they need to be.
Our minimalist dining room from the real estate web site.
Three open homes plus two extra house showings this week have really put a dent in my get-up-and-go. But now that all the mad painting, cleaning, decluttering, weeding and planting is finished, I am really just in maintenance mode. Basically I cannot allow the house to get untidy until it is sold (soon, please God..).
It took a tremendous effort to get the house to this state, but it is surprisingly easy to keep it here. I do a quick survey of every room every morning, and put away everything down to the last bobby pin (or else get the girls to do it), make sure the beds are beautifully made, wipe out the basins and shine them, do the dishes, sweep the floor and head out the door. By picking up bits of fluff and dirt off the floor every time I see them I am not having to vacuum more than usual, and every time someone (mostly Posy) makes a giant creative mess I obsessively get her to clean it up before she starts something else, which keeps everything well under control. She doesn't appreciate this of course, any more than the five year olds in the classroom I work in appreciate it either, but it certainly does provide a constantly refreshed working and living environment, and it doesn't seem to have turned off Posy's creativity switch either. She has an inexhaustible flow of bright ideas, that girl..
I would normally tolerate a much higher level of background clutter, but I must say I am rather drawn to the more minimalist open spaces. We'll see what moving in to a tiny cottage does for those leanings. We will certainly have to learn to live with less, and may have to be quite the minimalists to survive living on top of each other all the time..
Dining room in our new cottage..
..we will be putting in a slightly larger table with less extra furniture. We are more about food than lolling!
Tell me about your optimum 'clutter' range. Are you comfortable with everything you own in view around you, or are you more a 'surfaces, surfaces' person?
I woke up to glorious sunshine, the lawn awash with tiny golden dandelions, and was happy to be alive. My second thought was that potential home buyers might not be so excited, so I went and picked those little yellow up-turned faces. Then I had a handful of sunshine that I wanted to put in a vase, but that didn't really work with the selling-the-house look I was going for either, so I took a photo for those of you who appreciate pretty weeds as much as I do.
Three open homes this week which prompts me to ask: is it actually possible to die from cleaning? Will let you know as the selling season progresses.
Meanwhile, because tales of cleaning are boring, here is a tale of how to get a tradie in Tasmania:
Monique, who is a very lovely friend of mine, set off to travel around Australia six years ago, got as far as Broome and stayed there for six years. She finally made it back to Tasmania at the beginning of this year, and spent a month with tradesmen in and out of her house repairing six years of rental wear and tear. A couple of weeks ago I texted her to ask if she could recommend a good handyman. She sent me Charlie's number as he had been doing some painting for her.
I texted Charlie asking if he could do some work for me during the following week, and he rang back.
"You know I'm not a qualified tradesman? I can be an extra pair of hands for you though."
Excellent, that is just what I needed.
"Where do you live?"
"Ah, clearly Monique didn't mention that I live south of Hobart."
"Ah, no, she did not. Well, thanks anyway.."
A couple of days later I get a text from Charlie. "Actually, I am on my way to Greece, and will be coming through Launceston on the way to the ferry. I could give you two days work while I'm passing through?"
Magnificent. Problem solved. Then I text Monique. "Charlie can get here for two days. Is he the sort of person I could offer the spare room to?"
"Sure, I've known him for years, lovely guy. Will chew your ear off about Hinduism though.."
Well, you know, there are worse things to put up with..
Charlie arrived, ploughed on through the jobs I had for him, had dinner with us, was remarkably non-forthcoming about Hinduism, much to my relief, and told us that he was a photographer and had met Monique in Broome during the Kimberley gas hub protest.
"Isn't it a small world?" we say with great originality.
Next day Charlie remarked that he would text Monique and try and catch up as he hadn't seen her for ages.
"But weren't you doing some work for her recently?" I asked.
"No, haven't seen her for ages."
That's odd, I could have sworn she said Charlie had done some painting for her. Maybe I misread the text. My brain has been a bit sub-par recently.
Charlie texted Monique to arrange a get-together, and mentioned he was staying at her friend Jo's house.
"Jo who?" came the reply. Charlie sent my full name, and there was quite the period of radio silence. Half an hour later I get a phone call. It's Monique.
"Jo, I am sitting here in complete bewilderment. Who exactly do you have working at your house?"
"Um, Charlie? Photographer? Met you in Broome?"
"Oh my lord, I sent you the wrong Charlie! I have two Charlies in my phone, Charlie the painter who lives in St Helens and Charlie the photographer... but the other Charlie lives in Melbourne! How on earth is he painting your house???"
Unbeknown to Monique, Charlie had moved to Tasmania last year, and was totally unfazed when a strange woman contacted him asking him to do some handyman work for her on the recommendation of another woman who had known him briefly two years earlier as a photographer. Because seriously, that is often how you get things done in Tasmania. He will make a great local.
I hung up and headed outside to where Charlie was stripping paint off the side of the house.
"I have a great story for you, Charlie," I said.
Later I get another text from Monique: "I bet he doesn't know a single thing about Hinduism."
Tired, but determinedly cheerful mother of four. One grown up son (The Boy), one grown up daughter (The Girl), two girls at home, Rosy (17) and Posy (12). Trying to buy a little less, make a little more, live a little lighter, not mess up the children too much..