Category: moving – old to new

moving – settling – part 5


Thank you all who’ve read and commented on previous posts or those who have written to me personally. As I’ve said before, I’ve learned much from your insightful comments, and for this I am very grateful. I am also enormously grateful for your empathy.

I am grateful to friends who have visited and phoned, checking up on me and willing to help. This has been a learning curve for me, knowing that people care. I have often felt that it is easier to give than it is to receive; I am learning that it is equally important to receive. People do like to help and I need to learn to accept their help and not be so ridiculously feeble about accepting their generous being.

We are still settling in, albeit rather slowly. The garden is looking especially pretty and I can’t wait for Spring which is just around the corner. Already buds are appearing although it seems too soon. We’ve barely experienced a ‘proper’ highveld winter where the temperatures drop below zero at night. The days continue to be warm, bright and sunny and our azure blue, cloudless skies are to be seen to be believed. But where are our winter frosts that, although damaging to plants, are so necessary to spurt new growth? Where is the ice on the ground in the morning? Where is the biting cold?

Well, we’ll see what happens. Maybe the winter is still to arrive with a vengeance.

I go in for surgery under anesthetic this coming Thursday morning for removal of pins from two fingers on my right hand. These were very badly damaged in the car accident. The hand therapy three times a week has been extremely valuable in that the dense scabbing has been delicately removed from the top of my hand as well as on all of my fingers especially on the top of them. The removal of thick scabs has allowed for the growth of new skin underneath. The scars on top are pretty knotted at this stage; they are massaged religiously by the therapists as well as by me during the day so that they do not become fixed and overly restrictive in the use of my hand. I am a long way off from making a fist. My fingers can now almost make a right angle to my palm.

 For a long while now my right hand has been like a foreign part of me. A few days back, the therapists said I was to start using my right hand so as to become familiar with it. It was amazing to me how foreign it felt and how anxious I was about using it. Wash your hands normally I was told. Use the soap in your right hand. Use it in the bath. Just use it and become familiar with it. Try to use a knife and fork. Pick up a cup, move things around, use your right hand.

I am trying. Practice makes perfect. If I go out, I use the splints on my fingers and bandage my hand with a light cotton bandage as a protection usually keeping it close to me across my middle. Or, if not the splints, then a padded winter glove. I am wearing a glove as I write, occasionally using my well padded forefinger to type, giving my thumb and baby finger a break. I am not using my middle finger, the one that was almost chopped off.

I am using the same picture I have used before at the top of this post, with good reason. Perhaps when the winter has passed, and spring is in the air, and my hand is healed and functional, I will be able to bring both hands together so that the left may know the right and vice versa.

moving home – part 4 – existential questions


Well, the wounds to my hand are healing. It is less painful and a change of dressing and hand therapy 3 times a week is helping. My body is less sore. I can type with my left hand and the use of my now free right thumb makes it less difficult. The townhouse is still in a pretty shambolic state with boxes and paintings and stuff all over the place. How I would love to just sort it out once and for all!

The existential questions that have come up for me are not: ‘Why me dear Lord?’ Or, “What have I done to deserve this?”.

The questions that I am dealing with right now as I heal, concern ‘impermanence‘ and ‘developing patience’.

I know that one of the Buddhist tenets is the impermanence of lives and things. I am not even considering my own life (miraculously spared) for the purposes of this blog post; rather, I am facing the necessity of addressing ‘impermanence’.

I am faced with tossing things out – permanently. Much has already been given away – furniture, curtains, household goods, clothing, endless other things I was ruthless about in my desire to simplify before the final move to the townhouse.

But what to do with my late father’s school and university reports; writings of my late mother’s; my own; photographs; correspondence –  consign them to non-existence? What does this mean if I do this? Have their records served their purpose and now I must let go my attachment to them? I know that I will not be invalidating my parents or myself if I destroy what was once theirs and mine … but still … photographs of grandparents? Records of my parents service in WW2? All that history, to be no more? Will I ever regret this action if I carry it out? Can I let go of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ as well as on behalf of my parents and ancestors? Can I be dispassionate about this?

And more to the point, is this how it will be when my children consign my ‘stuff’ and my husband’s stuff to the flames or the garbage bags when we die? Will our lives in material form before our deaths be extinct? What will they do with all the family photographs  through the years lovingly kept and only occasionally  looked at? How many collages can I have made? I do not want walls populated with collages; one or two, yes.

I will be pondering this in the days to come.

On developing patience: this is something that fate has decreed upon me it seems to me. I no longer dart here and there, doing everything quickly and efficiently and, as I have come to realise, having a false sense of pride in my ability to do this. I have to go slowly, dress slowly, I eat sitting down. I walk to the offices of the hand therapists and take that time to observe my new surroundings, or contemplate a dream, or just think about nothing.

I know I said earlier that I would just love to get the townhouse sorted once and for all, but I  know that this will take time. I quite like going slow and not being in a rush. There is something of value in this, for me. I have changed my study a few times. I am not rushing it. I still need to unpack boxes and be ruthless in sorting and tidying it. It is winter here in South Africa and though it has been a long time coming, it is now here. Up here on the highveld (2000 m above sea level), it gets bone-chillingly cold although the sun may shine brightly. It is an inward time as Nature rests. I feel in tune with Mother Nature. I think I am developing patience with regard to myself, to me, me-time. I think patience is saying; be kind to yourself, be compassionate, don’t rush… all will be well. I want patience and I to be friends. I want her to show me the way.

Thank you all who have been on this journey with me and your comments and more recently your concerns. It brings a swelling of blood corpuscles somewhere about the heart.

moving home – 3 – and car accident


Well, we spent our first night as planned in our townhouse last Friday night, 21st June, the winter solstice.

What was not planned was a bad car accident the day before, Thursday 20th June. I’d just had my oil and water checked, the tyres filled with nitrogen, and was on my way home to check on the family and their packing. I did not see it coming; I was driving along the road I live in. It was about 11 a.m. A truck did not stop at the stop street and smacked into me flipping my car over the centre of the road into an oncoming motor cyclist who  connected with my overturned car.

I vaguely remember crawling out of it and seeing my mangled and bloodied right hand out of the corner of my eye. I gave someone my husband’s cell number and he and son Davey were there within moments. My hand was operated on for 2 hours that afternoon at my husband’s clinic and I spent the night in hospital. The movers came at 1.30 on Friday as planned and things were moved to the townhouse. Jane my housekeeper made up our beds, take out food was our supper that night. We all slept well, the quiet and silence of where we are is healing. Sunday night was the super moon.

Davey posted on FB about this event which I am sharing with you below. Also, the other evening when we were sitting around the dining room table eating proper food, he said that we have all become closer as a result of this. I expressed surprise because we are a close family anyway. He said; ‘pain sews the seeds of joy’. My good friend Monika said that maybe this crash was an outer manifestation of unacknowledged inner turmoil about the move. I went to see the orthopaedic doc this past week and stopped in at my husband’s rooms en route. Pat, one of his secretaries said; ‘I see you’ve had your wings clipped’. Susan my friend in Phoenix Az said about these times of major transitions being times when the demons have a field day.

Apart from bruises and aches all over, including my face and my hand now thoroughly stitched, pinned, plastered and bandaged, I feel alright. I haven’t had time to digest this all in the manner required but I give thanks daily, hourly, that it wasn’t worse. When strangers see my enormous bandaged hand and facial bruises and enquire and I tell, they are so sympathetic and say ‘God is great’, ‘by the grace of God’ and I feel the corpuscles around my heart area swelling a little. My WASP friends seldom mention this although they are, of course, sympathetic.

My right hand is out of action for at least 6 weeks; no driving – at this stage I have no car anyway as it is a write-off; I type with my left hand and do much else with my left hand. Who knew the left (sinister) hand could prove so beneficial. Getting dressed or undressed, bathing, brushing my teeth is difficult but not impossible. Flossing is impossible. Daily tasks are difficult. Sorting out the new townhouse is difficult.

I give thanks to G.d that it wasn’t worse. My family has been hugely supportive and helpful.

Davey’s face book message:

 Never wait for tragedy to strike before you tell someone that you love them. I could’ve easily have lost my mom in a car accident yesterday, but she survived. While she was lying on the ground next to her car which was flipped, bloodied and bruised, I told her that I love her and I prayed for her. Seems crazy that something like that had to happen for me to tell my mom how much I love her. New perspective on life!

If you enjoyed this post please consider commenting (I always respond) and sharing. Thank you.

moving home – 2



Someone said to me recently that moving home is one of the most difficult  transitions/experiences to undergo and that it ranks alongside the death of a loved one, divorce, losing a job and so on.

I wonder sometimes if I am in denial about our imminent move. Pretending to myself that it will go smoothly. And wondering if I am in denial, whether this is a form of resistance in me, in one of its more insidious forms.

There is something meaningful about my visits to the townhouse when I cart stuff from home that fits into the spacious boot of my small car when the back seats are down. I like entering the townhouse and unlocking other doors and especially going into my study to unpack books and placing them consciously and strategically in the newly installed, very large, brand new bookcase in my study to-be. The days are so bright and sunny and warm right now in spite of it being winter so the driving backwards and forwards is a pleasure. The freeze is yet to come.

I also keep on wondering how to position my study desk and drawers from home, so that all is comfortable and cosy, inspiring and conducive to creativity for me.

 It’s been rather wonderful to discover some old books like those slim ones by R.D. Laing. I remember his ‘Knots’ from when I was a young adult and how it made an impression on me; I will definitely re-read it soon and no doubt get tied up again in knots. There’s something rather special about untying knots and seeing whatever it is for what it is. I brought back home a few days ago his ‘Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise’ which I am currently re-reading in the bath at night. Deeply disturbing and psychologically penetrating and so apt for today’s world despite being published in the 1960’s.

I can’t say I feel stressed about the move because I don’t, not right now. I certainly feel more tired than usual and I put this down in part to the changing seasons here in South Africa, from autumn to winter. My skin is a bit grim and my erratic and appalling eating habits leave much to be desired. So maybe this is an expression of inner processes going on.

We have an indigenous herb in South Africa called impepho (do google it – it is a Zulu African Sacred plant and I am sorry I cannot yet figure out how to do a link but it is particularly interesting), which I used once before many years ago when tenants from hell in the townhouse finally moved out. It was an unbelievably stressful time over a year or two ‘dealing’ with those crooks. When finally, finally, they were out and locks were changed and all their stuff left behind was gotten rid of and the townhouse cleaned from top to bottom, side to side and inside out, I sourced impepho from an African market downtown and burnt it and let the smoke waft in and through and out. I could feel the horrible destructive negative energies leaving.

I won’t go the impepho route this time because there is no need. Our last corporate tenants loved the townhouse and its own well-tended garden and surrounding gardens in the complex and they left behind good vibrations.

I am hoping that our sons can fly up to Johannesburg and come and help with the final move on June 21st, (if that is when it is). In my fantasy I see the four of us having dinner at our new home on the longest night of the year, of bread and wine, blessing our new home and my husband’s father whose home it was until he died in it about 10 or 11 years ago. I will smudge the home with sage and ask the ancestors for safe passage for all.

All of that is looking forward in a positive way and saying hello to the new; but how will it actually be, I wonder, when I have to say goodbye to our old home. My sister is flying up from Cape Town next week and will hopefully keep me focused on the straight and narrow. I may well have a birthday lunch in the middle of next week as part of the ritual of goodbye and drinks later in the evening for those who can’t make lunch or tea or whatever I decide to do. Somehow it’s important that I do this.

That’s next week … and then the week after is the final push and pull.

moving home – from the old to the new –

photo of oak tree
photo of oak tree

This is a photo I took yesterday of the oak tree outside my front door.

I don’t know when the final moving date from our old home to our new one will be. I have in mind that it would mean something if we spent our first night in the townhouse on June 21, the shortest day, longest night of the year in the southern hemisphere. To sleep in the townhouse in our bed from our old home on June 21.

A way of bringing in a ritual – moving into our new home on the longest night of the year.

Already we are heading into June – sundown comes far sooner and sunrise much later. Our elder son Mike was here recently for 4 nights and days and helped enormously with lifting, carrying, manouevering, directing, guiding, suggesting placements of furniture with a fresh imaginative eye. Those few days have seen us using some real muscle power in carting things from our home to the townhouse. Nothing is final in terms of final placements of anything. We will not have enough cupboard space for linen, towels, blankets etc. My study is about a quarter of the size of the one I have here at home and I can’t figure out quite where to place my desk. My chaise longue will have to go into the bedroom. Much has already gone by way of auctioneers, still much to be sold privately, much to be donated.

A few friends have said to me that this is such a big thing we are doing, moving from our much loved home of 26 years to a much smaller place. They have said about loss, emotional upheaval. Because I value their concern, I wonder about this as regards my own feelings. I seem to not have any emotional upset about this imminent move, at least not now. Yes, it is true that I have little time for myself, my writing, or walking around my familiar block enjoying these beautiful autumn days.

But as my good friend Lynda said the other day, you never know until the actual event happens. As a medical doctor who has witnessed cancer in others, she never imagined it would happen to her yet would wonder sometimes how she would respond should it happen to her. It did happen to her – awfully so – and as we discussed recently, one has no idea until it actually happens to you personally. So, while there is no comparison about illness and moving, this is my sentiment about moving from the old to the new … I will wait and see, to feel how I experience this.

My gardener, Lowan, dug up some clivias and azaleas from my home and we transplanted them into the townhouse garden, while removing some plants from it and bringing them bagged, back home for any friends who may want them. There are about 60 pot plants whose fate is yet to be decided. There is something in me that wants to have something of my old garden in the new. I will have to say farewell to my secret garden at the bottom end of our garden, visible to no-one. I won’t have that at the townhouse.

Treasured books and note books, dream journals, files forever. As someone said this morning, you never clear out until you have to. I am not a hoarder yet I cannot imagine getting rid of the afore-mentioned.

Friends will be coming by in the next days to take from the garden here at home what they want. This makes me feel a bit lighter about it all, knowing that the plants will live on. I will make my own blessing on them as they leave my house hoping that they fare well in new homes.

The cats, Harry and Angie – already we think that they sense something.

Change is in the air …