Perhaps there’s a reason why Wendell Berry’s statement “Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire” caught my eye this morning.
But I would never be relieved to see my house catch fire and while I know we have too much we are looking forward to sorting and simplifying.
I want to show you our home as it is today, after the removalists have brought everything, right at the beginning. I want you to share this adventure of co-housing and community with us, the creating of the home, the evolving garden, our own journeys, the shared journey, the challenges we face, the successes, the life – our own, the house, the garden, the community, this valley and neighbourhood.
When you see these photos it might cross your mind that there’s quite a lot… and I’d agree, but there are mitigating circumstances. And here’s the background.
I am more able to understand nowadays the devastating effect chronic insomnia, illness and continual exhaustion have had on my life. The more I understand the more accepting and compassionate toward myself I am. As I become less tired and have fewer external demands I’m experiencing the contrast between a life chronically exhausted and a life less so.
No wonder I have spent years reading mainly escapist literature. No wonder I have started so many wonderful books only to put them down because I couldn’t concentrate. No wonder I have such a long list of things I want to do when…
I have just spent my longest period ever in a full-time permanent job. This was interrupted by severe and long illnesses, but…with a secure wage I experienced the joy of buying a spacious light-filled house – three bedrooms, two bathrooms. And then I enjoyed filling it up- such pleasure in having enough linen for guests, buying quality saucepans, a dinner set, crystal glasses, furniture that wasn’t just cast-offs and the indulgence of books and books and books (and yes, clothes and more clothes). I remember feeling I was a proper adult when I bought myself a new and beautiful fridge…and then a washing machine. I could look after myself, I could be independent, strong and capable. So empowering. But illness, Chronic Fatigue and exhaustion meant that I couldn’t keep up with the sorting and clearing out and throwing away…it’s all come with me.
Angela, my co-houser, moved to the UK eight years ago, for a planned long-term stay. Her possessions- furniture, linen, books, kitchen…all went into long-term storage. The move didn’t work out. Angie arrived back in Australia- heartbroken, homeless, jobless, broke…but not friendless.
When she found work her choice was to house-sit, furniture and possessions staying in storage. A move into a small unit meant there was no space to retrieve her belongings. After several years, my dominoes all fell perfectly and we bought this house. I moved… and all my stuff. Angela remained living and working in the city, but was finally able to move her long-term stored things to this house. (Imagine her delight in seeing much cherished possessions again! ) We stacked everything somewhere- we are talking two households here and neither were minimalist. And this house has no garage or external storage space.
At last Angela has reached the moment when she can leave her current work, uproot herself from the city and move to her home in this small, beautiful, rural valley. Today, the unit has has been packed up and all the contents are now here, Angie is yet to arrive. As Max says “Let the show begin!”
Share our adventure!
(And I thought this post was going to be all photos! Silly me.)