Archive for November, 2010

Making it livible

Packing up and moving is not something most people look forward to but most of us have to do it at least once in our lifetimes. So I figured I’d share some of the things we did [and a few more we wish we did].

Firstly: use your time wisely and don’t wait till the last minute to move. Having time on your side makes everything seem less chaotic. Obviously this time we got ‘Clause 17’-ed so time was NOT on our side.

If we had had the time, we could have figured out where we were moving too and even which things would go where or at least which things we didn’t really want anymore.

If at all possible, get rid of the things you no longer want or think you won’t need in your new house. Think of moving as a good excuse to clean out your closet.

If you can create a mental or even physical picture of what you want your new home to look like, you can pack things in such a way that you unpack easily. Basically you can start by giving each room in your new house a letter or colour and then label every box or piece of equipment with that colour and a number so that you can track all of your things. The numbering system is also handy in the event of a box getting separated, since you won’t waist hours looking through all those boxes only to discover that what you’re looking for was actually in the box someone forgot to unload from the front seat of your car. Plus, if you have the time you can compile an inventory list of the items in each box allowing for easy access if needed.

Another advantage of the colour/letter system is the offloading. When you are moving as many items as we were you could get to the point where 15 people are offloading at any given time and if you have to stand there and direct each person and item individually to the correct location, it could take ages. With the colour system, they can go on without your guidance. Having everything you plan to put in that room already in the room, makes unpacking seem less daunting.

Staring at a few hundred boxes and way too many pieces of furniture doesn’t exactly scream: this will be fun! If you use the principle of divide and concur by taking one room at a time, at least you feel like you are making progress.

If you don’t know which rooms you want things to go into ahead of time, you can still use the same system except you label them by the rooms they were in in the old house.

Something useful but always possible is to pack up the entire house without moving any furniture or boxes out until it have been completely packed. The reason this is useful has to do with those little things in each room that are usually over looked or disregarded until you end up with 12 boxes of random things that you forgot to pack. It works out to about a box per room and usually includes things like your toothbrushes and the kettle and a few ornaments or your sunglasses and laptop and if you add these things together it could amount to a whole pick-up full of stuff. Stuff you could have found space for in your boxes if only you hadn’t already loaded them.

Oh and try to move your glass and mirrors either first or last, because anything in between is just asking for trouble. This is also when those curtains and blankets you found really hard to pack will come in handy. Once you get to your new house be sure to hang up your paintings, photos and mirrors as soon as you arrive because it is the human equivalent of marking out our territory and allows us to feel at home. Besides, if they are on the walls it means they are out of your way and at least you can say you completed one thing already.

If you are planning on living in the new house the same day you arrive, make one box of essentials. By essentials I do not just mean a spear set of clothes, I also mean silly things like toilet paper and soap along with a kettle and things to make coffee just the way you like it in your custom made mug. Keeping your own pillow handy will also help ensure that your first night is a good night. Keep these essentials with you on the front seat just to make sure it doesn’t accidently end up at the bottom of a random stack of boxes.

Once you have the furniture in each room arrange in a liveable manner and you can sit down with a cup of tea, it’s like the end is within reach. The house of chaos will finally start feeling like home and not an extreme challenge you just don’t have the energy to concur.

I know most of this seems obvious but sometimes under the pressure of moving you can’t always think ahead or you try to cut corners in the beginning not realising how much time it will cost you in the long run. Moving is a crazy business and I am seriously considering having only inflatable furniture in the future…

Till later,

AM

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Things my dad use to say

My dad use to say: “We will never be rich but we will always have old clothes and food in the fridge.” I’m not sure why I feel the need to share this with you. Maybe it’s because the people I’m with remind me of him or maybe it’s because the country I’m in reminds me of a simpler time in my life or maybe it’s just because I miss him today.

It’s always strange to remember my dad and finish off the thought with: I’ll never be able to make new memories with him. Especially lately since everyone is talking about babies and marriage and all I keep thinking [the same thought I had the second my dad died] is how my children will never get to meet their grandfather and I wonder who will walk me down the  ail? I’ve had this stream of thought in my head for the last 4 years and I’m not even ready to be a 24/7 mother or wife yet. I can only imagine how insane I’ll get when I have to plan my actual wedding… My poor husband!

The most annoying thing with any loss is the fact that those 5 steps of grieving is more like a revolving door and just as you think you’re through it, you have to go around again. Ok, maybe using a nauseating rollercoaster would have been a better example but either way: the feelings come and go. How I feel right now will change in a few hours and then it might even change back a few hours later. I’m glad that I have a whole lot of people around me who understand this and knows that I have some issues that I can’t exactly check-off my to deal with list.

Mostly I remember the little things like his moustache that got wet when he drank water too fast and how I didn’t mind the slobbery goodbye kiss that followed. And usually all these memories make me smile, it’s just when I start to think; think about how it was or what if or what won’t be or even what will be, that’s when my smile fades to a glazed look masked with random giggling. I’m strange that way: if I walk around moping and all sad, I’m probably just looking for attention or someone to fight but when I smile you have to be concerned. It’s actually quite simple, I love talking and if I’m really happy or excited I won’t stop talking so you won’t catch me just sitting there with a smile on my face. When I’m really sad, I become quiet but when you smile, people tend to not bother you so it works out great. Well sort of…

Like I said I have amazing people around me and they know me better than that, they also know to look at my eyes. My eyes change colour with my moods and I’ve never been able to get them to lie. I love my eyes and I love my friends and I love my dad. And sometimes it’s good just to be sad.

Just a thought,

AM

Story Teller

I’m not really sure anyone will be interested in reading any of the things I’ve written. To be honest I’m not even sure I’ll have the guts to publish it…

Most of what I share is just everyday stuff and random observations mixed with some crazy thoughts but some of it I share because I can. There are a lot of people who live similar lives to mine but I’m not writing this for them, I’m sharing my experiences for those of you who will never have the opportunity to meet the people I know or go the places I’ve been. They may not be famous people or rare locations but they are different and amazing in their own right.

Obviously if you ever want to talk to me about anything I write or think, you know where to reach me. If you find my babbling boring, I won’t take it personally. At the end of the day I just feel obligated to share at much of my experiences with who ever will be willing to listen.

I love my life and the people in it and sometimes I feel so incredibly blessed that I almost start feeling guilty. It is at these times I am inspired to share what I’ve learned or even what I’m still struggling to understand.

I hope you don’t mind that I’m taking up perfectly good bandwidth in order to play story teller…

Just a thought,

AM

The Cornel

At the top of this land reform act you have two committees: one represents the war veterans and one representing the land itself. Understanding the war vets association is something I’m still trying to do, however this particular piece is more about the guy in charge there we call The Cornel [Mostly because he is a war vet and that’s his rank but also because I can’t pronounce his surname let alone spell it!]

He’s not a bad guy. He actually tries to do what’s best for the country and its agriculture. Usually this benefits the true farmers. By true farmers I mean those who actually produce products on their farm for people outside their household a.k.a. the weekend farmers and land grabbers. These weekend farmers are the ones who leave hectares and hectors of land untended after forcefully removing the original farmers. The weekend farmers are the ones who allowed the country to slip into a famished-state and they are the ones we don’t like.

Throughout this whole land reform period of about 11 years, he has gotten to know this family very well. He was also partially responsible for asking them to come back here and fix the farm that was taken from them years ago… only to have it taken again right at the brink of success.

When he found out that someone had already started moving into the property during the Clause 17 24hour period, he was properly pissed off. Firstly because he is supposed to have a say in who get’s the land the WVA and the Land Office have to be in agreement. In this case they seem to have by-passed him in an effort to bulldoze this family of their farm. I’m sure he wouldn’t have been this upset if it wasn’t for the fact that the guy who now lives there also had a farm given to him a few years ago [a brilliantly running farm that he has managed to run right into the ground in only a few short years]. Of course the fact that he understands the state of the countries food supply and how important this dairy farm was and knowing that he convinced them to come back with the promise that the land is theirs, must have weighed in.

He’s not a bad guy and when he saw for himself how quickly those vultures moved in, he instructed his driver to go to town. Now as small as that gesture sounds, it actually implies that he got into his car and drove straight to Bob. In case you aren’t fully in the loop: ‘Bob’ is the president. The Cornel is so well respected that he can actually do that. He can actually drive right past the presidents guards and walk in to see his old friend.

What this means exactly, we won’t know for a while and I’m not even sure it will really change any plans but just the fact that someone sees how much this one family has survived and what they actually mean to the community and country as a whole, is a nice gesture in tough times like these. There has been a lot of speculation that the family will either get their farm back [for the 3rd time] or at least a piece of it with the house and dairy on. To tell you the truth that was all the family really wanted anyway, they were fine with only keeping 100 hectares and allowing the government to redistribute the other 700. At this point it’s just a matter of manners and people who keep going back on their word or who are overruled by land grabbers.

Whatever happens, at least this time the family isn’t fighting by themselves. All of their employees are devastated by their departure and even most war veterans admit that taking this land from these farmers is a mistake. With The Cornel standing up for this family and the land they have nourished, there is still a glimpse of hope.

Just for the record: this is just one family! I can only tell you what I see with my own eyes but I can assure you that there have been thousands of others too. I’m tempted to say that there will still be thousands more but unfortunately that would be a lie since there are less than a hundred farmers left who do not qualify to retain their land. By the looks of things, come elections mid 2011 even those farmers will no longer posses their lands.

These are interesting times we live in and I just hope that more people realize how needed these underappreciated farmers really are.

Sharing my view,

AM

Missing you already

We decided that I should stay and help JS’s parents unpack and settle in while he goes back to Harare. This is all very logical since I know exactly where everything is packed and I don’t have any real commitments in Harare at the moment. However, I miss him already… He hasn’t even left the driveway and I’m already looking at him with puppy-dog eyes practically begging him to stay. I had to close the steal gate as quickly as possible because I was on the brink of running in front of his bakkie; jumping on the hood and shouting: “Don’t go!” I’m not good with goodbyes. I’ve never been. This may be rooted in the times we use to leave my grandparents house after the long holidays to undertake the 12 hour drive back home or maybe I just feel bad for being lousy at phone conversations and afraid I won’t be able to keep in touch when we can’t speak face to face. Maybe I just love the people in life so much that I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Whatever the case, sometimes we have to part ways. Sometimes it’s for longer than we could ever have imagined. All I can do is hope that it will only be for a few days and start imagining the things we’ll do when we see each other again. I love his parents I can take comfort in knowing that they probably miss him almost as much as I do. On the bright side this gives me time to hear all the stories about him in diapers. I love loving him and I guess we’ll have to say goodbye many more times, let’s just hope we get to say ‘Hello’ even more times. In the time it took me to write this short piece, I already sent him 4 messages that he can’t reply to because he’s still driving home. To him it may seem like I’m pestering him but I just want to make sure he knows that I think about him when he’s not around and that I love him always… Think I’m going to go pester him some more.

Till later,

AM

The road ahead

With all things happening so quickly it is hard to say where we’ll be even next week, let alone ‘the future’. But in my honest opinion: I am glad that this happened.

Not so much the way it happened or the sadness and pain involved but definitely the freedom that comes as a result. Losing the farm [for the second time in 10years] your father built from scratch is obviously not easy but for the first time they have a choice in their path ahead. Since JS’s dad was born it was expected of him to grow up to take care of the farm and that was that. He would be a farmer forever and this was decided before he even had a name. With the farm gone and nothing forcing him to stay, he gets to choose.

Whatever he wants to do and where ever he wants to do it, he only has to think of himself because for once no one will blame him for walking away. The fought for 11 years; they started over 7 times with absolutely nothing; they came back and tried again; they stuck it out while everyone else left and in the end none of it really mattered. So this time, they have a clear conscience and no one will dare to say they did not try to make it work. No one can point a finger or suggest anything else they could have done. This time people will support their life choice no matter what it may be.

I’m not sure any of this makes since, I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m just choosing to see the silver lining where everyone else has chosen to sit in the shadow of the dark clouds. It can only get better…

Just a thought,

AM

My left hand

As strange as it sounds, I would like to tell you about my left hand. There’s nothing unusually strange about my left hand; I’ve had it since birth and it is not the hand I write with. This is more a random observation of pain.

I was trying to carry 2 glasses today [one in each hand] but had a bit of trouble. Not because my hands couldn’t carry them but because my left hand was practically covered with Jermaline. Pink antiseptic cream wasn’t exactly the decoration I wanted with my drink so it took a bit of careful touching to get my glass to the lapa.

The reason I had Jermaline all over my hand is mainly an animal thing. First DoDo bit me by accident while we were playing and I only realised it the next morning so it doesn’t actually hurt but with her being a wild animal and all, antiseptic is advised. Then came the cats during our hurried/bewildered moving. They were calm until the new owners kept slamming things and scaring the living daylights out of the poor kitties: Harry even went up the chimney to hide and in the process of getting him down, deep scratches ensued. Add a few scrapes and cuts from heavy objects and door frames and pretty much frustration and my hand will start to look like something out of a Hitchcock movie. Somewhere during the unpacking I was delegating boxes and sorting them in one room [the room DoDo decided she wanted to be in] and after she narrowly missed biting the movers several times I continued to move all the boxes and somewhere in there it got to be too much for her eager curiosity and as I retracted my hand after placing a box on the ground, DoDo leaped and went right for my middle finger. Consequently I have several gashes on my finger where her teeth got hooked in as I was pulling away. I’m quite proud of the fact that I didn’t get any blood on the carpet or even the other boxes.

I’m sorry if that was a bit gross but I just found it fascinating that with all of this activity around my left hand, my right hand is scrape-free. I haven’t even chipped a nail…

Sharing my view,

AM

Clause 17

Clause 17. Just that phrase alone makes me think of the small print in a legal document designed to mislead the signee… But how do you read the small print of a contract if the contract doesn’t exactly exist?

Here in Zim, there’s a land redistribution law that basically takes the land currently owned by farmers who fought on the ‘wrong’ side of the war with the British against the indigenise Africans and distributes it to the African War Veterans. In theory this doesn’t sound too bad, after all it was their land and they fought for its freedom. However, those farmers bought the land from the government of that time; planned and ploughed that land for many years and they were successful. To just take all of their hard work and effort and hand it to a war vet who knows as much about farming as I do about fossils [in case it isn’t clear: the only thing I know about fossils is the definition!] is plainly put: Not fair!

I’m not saying that they don’t deserve to be rewarded for their efforts; I just think there are a few facts conveniently left out of that story. Yes, they fought for the freedom of their country but the farmers who were born there and grew up there also just fought for their freedom and to do what they felt was best for the country. Depending on who you ask, you could be lead to believe that either party were terrorists. It’s a matter of perspective and I have a hard time understanding the logic of the current government.

Zimbabwe use to produce more than a third of the worlds maize and corn and now [not even 30 years later]they barely have enough food for those people left in this once magnificent country. This is largely due to the fact that a lot of farmers left the country around the time the war was lost and also due to the redistribution law that completely ignores the asset of growing up to be a farmer; the skills that could only be learned by many years of observation, trial and error. The government chooses to chuck out the human resources that were responsible for a huge portion of the countries economical growth and place in the world rankings, in order to settle a debt that never really existed in the first place…

If the government really wanted to reward these vets or at least create jobs for them after the war, they should have implemented a training scheme first. The government could easily have bought out the farms they felt had to be redistributed [to some extent they started doing this al be it at an undervalued price] and then given the original owner a smaller piece of the land back with its house and continued to pay him a salary in order to advise, guide and teach the veterans to whom his farm was distributed to. Basically allowing the knowledge the farmer gained to enhance the efforts of the inexperienced vets. The farmer would still supervise the running of the farm but not actually benefit from its proceeds, except for the governmental salary. No wasted resources; no land that went to waist; no real losers and less conflict. Instead the government took rich farms and gave them to people who did not understand how to run them or that they were now the principle provider of food [not just for themselves] but for the entire nation.

All of this is nothing new, it has been happening for the last 11 years. In this time many have died of starvation; thousands have fled and to seek asylum elsewhere; the country’s economy has crashed to the point where their currency can no longer be used in this country as it loses value way too fast. Just today I went to buy a cool drink and paid for it in United States Dollars and received my change in South African Rand, because they simply don’t have enough US Cents to comply with their increasing demands. Eleven years of farmers living in fear and being intimidated to the point where they are forcefully removed and have to start all over again with only the shirts on their backs. This is a long time for one country to be repeating the same mistake. This is a long time for the world to still be turning a blind eye. This is a long time for a people to hope that next year will be better…

In order to determine who the ‘re’-possed land goes to, there are two basic committees: the War Veterans Association and the Land Office. Both these parties are supposed to have equal say and make a fair and unbiased ruling. But this is Africa and unlike other countries where high level corruption takes place behind closed doors, here it’s pretty out in the open. So the friend of a friend will end up with the best farms even thought they don’t actually live in this country any more. And the second cousin of someone high up will eventually get more than one piece of land. Fairness is fading.

In some cases the Land Office has ruled that the original farmer can have their land- or at least partially- back, since those who received the land never bothered to farm it and basically destroyed all the work that went into its infrastructure. A lot of original farmers came back and, with their own money, rebuilt the farm to the point where it was actually going to make a profit again only to have the government decide that they are taking the land back again and handing it to some other ignoramus. Don’t misunderstand me, there are a few of these War Veterans who actually sustained the land but they are far too few and probably would have been even less if they had to start from scratch instead of walking onto a fully functioning farm. There are also a few of them who bought their land in what is called ‘willing buyer willing seller’ deals. This is similar to land redistribution except that the farmer gets paid a fair amount for his farm and he is allowed to move on his own time with whatever he chooses to take. Clause 17 is very different in nature.

This clause is relatively new and basically states that on top of the government basically just walking onto your farm and saying: This no longer belongs to you; we’re giving it to someone who doesn’t know half as much about this farm as you. They now also have the ability to say: you have 24hours to get out!

Packing and moving is difficult enough when it is your choice, doing it when you are being forced is extremely frustrating. Dealing with an inhumane deadline is something most people could not bear. If you take into consideration the psychological aspects of loosing absolutely everything and even being seen as a failure to your family and legacy… it’s hard to describe. This clause is insane!

Consider for a moment that you have to pack a 3 bedroom house with 2 lounges and kitchen that can feed 30 people at any given point in time. Add onto that all of your tractors and ploughs and a hundred other implements, extremely heavy and expensive implements. Now remember that you also have crops, seeds, pesticides and compost in storage. Don’t forget about your 200 chickens; 30 dairy cows currently in calving season; your 100 sheep that have only been sheered half way and of course your 20 price winning pigs.

Now you explain to me how anyone can pack up all of that within 24 hours? Ok, it is doable but now that you have packed them, where do you go? How do you find suitable space for all of your animals? How do you find enough drivers for all of your tractors? Where do you get enough man power to load all those boxes? Who has enough blankets to carefully transport an insane amount of mirrors and glass panes? Oh and where do you sleep tonight?

If you consider that during this very busy 24hours, you also need to fire all of your employees because whoever takes over your farm, probably won’t want them and if you think about the stress levels and millions of thoughts running through your head as you try to remember if you even packed your toothbrush, then you are reminded of the 40 min drive just to get onto the main road… how can you call this fair? How can you call this humane? How can anyone in their right minds think that this is the best solution?

1440 minutes… that’s all. 1440 minutes to put your whole life’s work into a box. 1440 minutes to generate a new destiny. 1440 minutes to say goodbye to everything you thought you were. 1440 minutes to do all the things you thought you’d get to do. 1440 minutes is just long enough for the new owner to drive out to your farm with a crate of beer so that they can celebrate the fall of yet another of the countries original providers…

Sharing my view,

AM

Moo-ving

Besides the enormous amount of furniture and old toys we will have to move, we also have a huge garden filled with vegetables and all sorts of plants to move. Obviously there are also so large implements and machinery from the dairy and other aspects of crop farming that we have to sort and pack up. But one of the most important things we have to move is of course the animals themselves.

Sheep, pigs, deer, cows, cats, dogs, a parrot and of course the mongoose. The dogs won’t be so bad, because they are use to driving around on the back of the bakkie. The cats, parrot and even DoeDoe have their own custom made travel cadges complete with water bottles and familiar blankets. All of this makes the travelling part easier but the adapting part will still take some work.

We split up the dogs: the two larger ones and Spot were in one vehicle and the 4 Toi-Poms were in ours. The reason for the split is firstly for their comfort during the hour journey and secondly because the 2 larger dogs were going to stay at his grandmother’s house for extra protection while the other for were going to stay in the new house and Spot is the favourite so he gets to ride up front. We allowed the dogs to run around as much as possible until 40min before the drive and made sure they had plenty of water. The heat can get pretty rough and we wouldn’t want them to get dehydrated. We placed their sleeping pillows on the back of the pick-ups and rolled opened up the windows enough for air but not enough for them to jump through. I also made sure the little ones looked out the window to ensure that they knew they were in motion- like with humans if we just sleep in the car or do something else like watching a DVD, our body can’t realize that we are moving and thus we end up feeling really sick. The parrot was happy and slept most of the time; I just made sure that his cage was not next to the cats’.

The cats were a bit harder to catch because they sensed all the movement and their incredibly strong homing instincts were in full swing. But once they were both in their cages and realized we were close by, they settle down and only meowed in conversation. DoeDoe fell asleep about a minute after she got into her basket and only woke up as we were pulling in but even then she was pretty relaxed. With both the cats and the mongoose we dipped their paws in butter as we placed them in their cages. Liking their paws clean is pretty effective distraction and it has the added bonus of encouraging them to ‘wash-off’ the smells of the familiar old house so that they can replace it with the smells and taste from the new house upon arrival.

At the new place we decided to divide and concur… After JS and his dad dropped off the larger dogs, they met up with us and kept the little dogs entertained under the trees allowing them to run and play for a bit. While they were dropping off the 2 dogs, we ensured that all the fences surrounding the yard were secure and of course filled and placed all the animals’ usual water dishes in similar places to at the old house. We added extra dishes of milk next to the water dishes, we wanted them to see the moving experience as a pleasant one and consider the milk as a treat. Some dogs tend to eat food whether they are hungry or not and usually they don’t even realize that they are actually dehydrated- even just slightly- by the journey, so it is advised to prevent your dog from eating for the first 3 hours they are there, allowing plenty of water instead. The longer the journey, the bigger difference this small yet important detail will make.

We also put Joe the parrot back in his cage with plenty of food and water. We took DoeDoe and the two cats inside, still in their cages. We really wanted them to be comfortable and have a smooth transition so for safeties sake we dipped their paws in butter again but this time we allowed them to get out of the cages as soon as they were dipped, that way they get a taste for the new place immediately too. We really didn’t want them to go back to the old farm or runaway so we decided to keep them locked in a section of the house with their food, milk, cages and lots of water. It will take a few days for them to adjust and feel safe and comfortable at their new home. Some people even have a tape of the night sounds that they play for the animals but we didn’t go that far this time. We wouldn’t even have locked them in the house if it wasn’t for the fact that we weren’t staying there the first night. It is always better to stay with your pets during times of change as this will reduce their stress levels dramatically but in this case it wasn’t possible for us to be there and we didn’t want to confuse and disrupt them even more by introducing them to yet another unknown place. The little dogs also had their area in the house covered in blankets and their sleeping pillows. The night watch knows the animals are there and has keys to the entire house so if anything seems out of place, he’ll contact us. We still wish we could be there with them but for tonight, we can’t.

In some respect the pets were the easy part, the rest took some more planning. Firstly permits are needed so we had to go to the police station to get them, followed by going to the vet for the final clearance. The dairy cows took a bit more effort as they have to be inspected and identified with great detail by an officer of the law before the permit can be given. We didn’t have any hassles getting the permits but while we were there they showed us some of the pictures of animals other people were transporting illegally. It was nauseating! Some animals being transported in normal cars on the back or even front seat; overloading a truck with double capacity of live stock and squashing them up against each other. Flies bussing around them because they are forced to stand in their own fesses and half of those who remembered to give them food just through it on the ground it was just so disgusting; pigs that couldn’t even stand up because they were on such unstable terrain that the animals gave up trying to keep its balance and instead just lay there helplessly.

Some people really just don’t care! I know moving is a crazy time and a lot of things seem to fall through the cracks but please make sure that your animals are NOT one of those things…

Please,

AM

Packing it in

The reason I wanted to focus only on the beauty of the farm in my last post, is because I left something out… This is the last time we’ll be here for a visit.

He’s parents are moving. I’m taking forever to get these sentences out, because even though I haven’t been here before: this feels like home. It feels like I have lived here my entire life! If you’re wondering if I am the only one saddened by this move, the answer is I’m not. This is not a move they made by choice… This was made for them. By some guy who doesn’t even know them.

Anyway, we’re starting to pack and figure out where exactly everything is suppose to go but mostly I’m just standing around because I have no idea where anything should go! I’m handy at making tea though… Well, actually that’s a bit of a lie. On the farm obviously they have people who do that, they pretty much have people around the clock for everything- People who can wash laundry and make coffee without electricity. So all I have to do is hold up 5 fingers so that she knows how many people want. That’s it… not one word spoken [mostly because I feel like an idiot for speaking when she doesn’t understand what I’m saying] and presto: coffee.

As for the general packing: I have to admit that I am extremely glad that this is not my mother’s house. Yes, the house is huge and so is the rest of the farm, so this could take a while but at least there are not as many trinkets and random ornaments everywhere~ excluding the massive animal heads on the walls of course.

I started with packing the clothes. I think we did pretty well. I am the master of making space where there are none! Sitting on the suitcase until it closed didn’t hurt either… It’s been a while since I had to pack a whole house of stuff. It’s times like these you really are grateful for those old newspapers you forgot to recycle. When I think about those mirrors and all the glass things down this crazy bumpy-half-non-existent-farm-road, I cringe. We’ll just have to drive really slowly and use tons of blankets!

We took a few of JS’s brother’s old things to his grandmother’s house today when we went to town to buy cooldrinks and stuff for our electricity-free lunch. Multitasking is always useful. I think we labelled them correctly… just don’t ask me what’s in any of them because then I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear you. It was quite a long drive and we had some serious conversations and a few silly ones about ant hills and radio frequencies. I have seen millions of photos of this farm.

This huge piece of land that they have had to give up little by little until there really is no more little left. This isn’t so bad if you consider he would have to take care of all of it all by himself. The true pain comes in seeing this land in the sunlight, without the veil of darkness to protect you from the disregarded truth. These hundreds of acres that they once owned, that his grandfather owned are now being left unattended and desolated. Nothing is being grown on most of the plots; there are barely any cattle and even the few there are, really need better care.

It’s just not the same when you have it handed to you. When you have everything waiting on a silver platter for you, you don’t need to bother to fight for it. And if you never had to fight for it, it becomes really easy to walk away… To say: ‘Sorry, I tried’ and just turn your back on it.

I feel their sadness but I also see this glimpse of a smile. It’s like for the first time in their lives they no longer have ties to this place that has been sucking the life out of them. They no longer have to live up to a legacy that existed in a different century. They no longer have to fear failure or watch what they say at the risk of losing it all. It already happened and that is that. It’s like for the first time [by taking everything they have and destroying everything they believed they were] someone asked them what they wanted to do. Where they want to be in 10 years time instead of telling them what is expected of them.

Packing your entire life into a box is pretty scary and some of those boxes can be really heavy but the prospect of starting over with a clean slate has its advantages.

We have barely reached the tip of the iceberg with this whole packing thing, so I better go make myself useful.

Till later,

AM

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