The Drought is Over!

Love Ones, I’m still alive!

You’ve all heard of the winds of change. I have just experienced a veritable cyclone and it caught me up in a maelstrom that blew me off my regular path.

First up the dog died.

It was in many ways a contemptible cur but it had found its way into the family heart as only a four-legged, furry beast can. For the past 15 years I felt that canine breath against my leg as she doggedly (!) followed me from room to room, making sure I didn’t get too far out of her radar. Her love was complete and unconditional and I guess I felt a reluctant duty to reciprocate. All of a sudden it was gone. (The breath and the dog).There was a lot of wailing as the two grown men of the household completely fell apart, which was rather surprising as the husband had been threatening to “off” the dog for years – feeding it bacon scraps and toast with lashings of butter in the hope of clogging her arteries and causing an early demise. She got the last laugh.

whistler-2.jpgDays later we sold our holiday house in the mountains with a very short closing time, so with the other members of the family all tormented with grief it fell to me to clear it out. No small task, as therein were contained 18 years of accumulations. I often think of life as similar to Thai cooking – a strange association I know – but Thai cooking requires the perfect balance of five separate flavors; salt, sweet, sour, bitterness and spice. That’s life in a nutshell and cleaning out that house had them all. It was a solitary affair and the up side of such occasions is that I get to listen to MY music. So, as I spent quality time with Van, Paul and Rufus, I dug deep into the secrets and memories that had seeped into the woodwork.

The good thing about memories is that they are basically contained in the human heart which was my justification for tossing out their more material manifestations. Grannies furniture, which had been lugged all the way from Australia, and then from house to house, went to the re-use-it centre to become someone else’s Grannies furniture. I left the deluxe scrabble board for the next family, complete with old score cards in the hope that they would realize how often I won. Don’t worry Neily – just kidding!  I decided to spare them the “Worlds Most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzle” that nearly drove me and my daughter crazy. Why? 550 pieces, double sided, the same artwork on both sides, rotated 90* with respect to each other and the puzzle die cut so that the top and bottom are identical. Aaargh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pure torture, but a parent child bonding experience that reveals true character! Memories of Howard, the ultimate trickster, calling “the phantom” or the Frazee family with their infuriating game of “Kahoots” driving us mental trying to figure out how they do it, the endless games of charades where someone got “Desperados” by acting out “desk, pear and radio”  

Though physically arduous it was in its own way, educational. I learnt things about myself. I had always blamed the others for being packrats. Mad Max in particular has a sentimental attachment to everything he has ever owned. “Oh, that’s the jigsaw puzzle we played on the night of ……you can’t throw that out.” “No, no that’s my sacred collection of beer bottles from every country of the world. I NEED those.” But we all have our obsessions as I discovered, cleaning out the spice drawer. There was coriander seeds as well as ground coriander, cumin seeds as well as ground, cardamom pods as well as ground cardamom, 3 different mustard seeds, yellow, red and black, anise seeds, caraway seeds and fennel seeds, fenugreek, star anise and dried mandarin peel but perhaps the most useful of all was the Amchur, or dried mango powder, an ingredient unique to Indian cooking which provides an acidic flavor to curries, soups and chutneys. I guess I expected to have to whip up a gourmet Indian meal for 50 of my favorite friends at the drop of a hat and didn’t want to be caught without the bare essentials! Or perhaps the Rajah of Pukapoo would show up unexpectedly with his entourage and demand a home cooked meal.

Christmas stuff was hard. Having spent virtually all our children’s Christmas’s in Whistler there was a treasure trove of tear-inducing stuff. The only consolation was, as I sorted through the touching moments I realized that unless I commit a mortal sin I will not spend another of moment sorting Christmas lights.

Christmas music is always an issue in our family. I Love it, others don’t. I came across the CD my daughter had made me called “Christmas songs that don’t make me want to kill myself”. The collection of my favorite other Christmas music, that I tried to find EVERY year, I found conveniently stashed UNDER the CD player

There was a plastic bag containing 15 years of old ski passes – a photographic record of the aging process – with Max making a goofy face in every single one, even the recent ones . Some things never change. I was grateful, when several years ago they allowed adults to re-use their pics so that I was able to remain 49 forever. The never-aging Peggy

There were some not so happy memories, like Mad Max sitting on the floor sobbing on his 18th birthday – in complete disgrace having had a “party” and left the place in a shambles. But we somehow tuck those memories away in the farthest reaches of the memory basket and cling to the golden moments like when he “catered” a dinner party for 16 of our friends; delicate little nibblies all made by hand, Pasta with prawns and vodka, Affogato for dessert (chocolate gelato drowned in a shot of espresso). Rave reviews.

It was a beautiful sunny day so it was difficult to be sad. I danced to the tunes as I hauled out the contents of cupboards and fed the pet squirrel and blue jays for the very last time, all the time aware that I was folding up memories like they were old sheets. As the pain seeped into my body – both physically and emotionally, I thought of phoning my girlfriend Jane to ask her how early I could start drinking and then I thought “what the fuck – it’s 6 pm SOMEWHERE” – so with the music blaring, red wine in hand and the dancing becoming more spirited, I felt like I was soaking up the last few moments as I had soaked up the last few moments of my Rocksy’s life – aware something beautiful was nearing the end. Resisting the urge to fall into a deep melancholy – many people in the  world don’t have one house let alone 2 – yes, yes, blah, blah,blah – I was glad to be alone – lost in loud music and crazy dancing.

My productivity was diminishing in direct proportion to the afternoon’s imbibement. – I’m sure I tossed things I will live to regret and kept things that will cause me to scratch my head and question my sanity. The second round of doggy paraphernalia found the stash of saliva encrusted tennis balls we used to torture our dog with. When the snow and ice was thick we would find a slippery slope and send her careening after a ball only to catch it and go skating off into oblivion.

The whole experience made me wonder – “is it only OUR family that’s a gong show, or are there all sorts of other closet gong shows out there?” 

It was a cathartic experience. Bitter Sweet. 18 years is a long time to do the same thing. It was getting stale and it was time to say goodbye and move on to new and different adventures. With change comes opportunity. We felt all of a sudden that we were traveling lighter along life’s path. A good feeling.

But with so many treasures spread to the four corners why is the white “minimalist” apartment where we live is beginning to look like opening day of the Hadassah Bazaar ?

3 Responses

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Sad, beautiful, cathartic and empowering – good for you – you passed muster on to the next exciting stage of your life!
    Ciao bella,
    Suzanne

  2. Denys Says:

    Just discovered how this Comment things works. Difficult to correct my wayward fingers, though. This one was definitely worth waiting for. There’s a sixteen year gonbg show going on in Correns, you know.. That you can endure such an experience is inspiring!

  3. sally pirani Says:

    Dear Island Girl
    Thanks again! So glad you are back. As usual have been entertained and touched by all of your latest blogs. Thank God, you have the heart and courage to be so candid with us, and with humour too!

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