Lost and Found in Transit

Helvi Oosterman

Moving from a big place to a smaller home is not easy. You are attached to your life-long collection of things; to your furniture’, books, paintings, to your “sendogu”, Japanese for beautiful but not necessary objects. We were given only five weeks to decide what to keep and what not. We came to the clever idea of renting something two weeks earlier than we had to, and decided to pack in a hurry and unpack slowly. This way we were giving away things at both ends; tipping and burning on the farm, and taking to charity shops discarded items from the new place.

The most delightful loss of all was the shedding of three kilos of my weight, through stress and hard physical work. The second best was ‘accidently’ misplacing hubby’s humble underwear collection into the new recycling bin. May I explain here that I gave up buying his underwear years ago. This was my way of keeping abreast with any possible extra marital happenings; you know what they say about men suddenly shopping for Calvin Kleins…

Being busy and too tired to cook we got into a habit of grabbing some take away food; Mc Donald’s, Korean noodles, Italian style fettuccine (is there any other kind), soggy fish and chips, and more horrors.  Opening the white box of noodles made me puke, and even Milo refused to touch my hamburger left-over’s. The tasteless pasta was swimming in tomato sauce, Italian Style is not the expression to use here. I always thought that take-out makes you fat, the reverse was happening with me. Better lose the urge to shop for convenience food, rather than lose the will to live.

I also gained useful skills these last few weeks. For example how to get in and out Kennard’s rental truck; you put your left foot on some pedestal and swing the right one inside the cabin whilst hanging onto some kind of railing inside. The nice manager, Richard, had cleaned the truck just for me. All very nice but the seat was so slippery I was afraid of sliding out. Some fat lady has sat there before and the seat kind of sloped towards the door …As husband was struggling with the multitude of gears and other truck paraphernalia, I kept quiet and gained some of my usual calmness by Buddhist meditations. All the Christian prayers ,learnt at Sunday school, came in handy when the driver accidently reversed instead of going forward at a busy intersection…

Now to the gains: no more muck for lunch, but quick shop for sourdough bread and some nice cheese, and after unpacking the car, the trailer or the truck, it was to our newly found  real pub and fantastic twelve dollar steak for dinner. The usual Shiraz was not quite right here, so a big schooner of beer it was. We haven’t been to a pub for years, nor have drunk beer anywhere. Steak and beer was a good combo and we have now become regulars at the Bowral Royal. The nice barman, Hugh comes to chat to us and we even have our pub-loyalty-cards.

Among the plusses is the safely moved Persian Delight; Milo did not crush it at the back of the car. My Kalanchoe was not so lucky.

The books are stacked in the garage in their milk crates; I left some out even there wasn’t much time for reading. I had saved all John Updike’s books when packing. I’m now so pleased to re-read  his wonderful early memoir ‘Self-Consciousness’, and I love it.

This is what Guardian says about it on the back page: ‘If he (Updike) has an unmelting splinter of ice at the heart, that is our good fortune. Who wants words as good as these with water?’

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