wings and things

Sigh of relief

I have mentioned Dina before (my decluttering friend) and, more recently, Dan (my vegetable garden artist). Well, yesterday they both happened to be here at the same time. Dina was here in the house with me, helping me with a huge pile of filing, and Dan was outside, replenishing the crop of vegetables that had been eaten by rabbits.

The other people who were here were the guys (Eric and Aaron) who I’d employed to rabbit-proof the fence around the vegetable garden and they are doing a marvellous job! I think you have to be Australian to realise what a curse to crops rabbits are. Anyway these guys have dug trenches deep enough to put steel mesh underneath the ground to stop the scoundrels from getting in and eating my carrots etc.

The ‘sigh of relief’ title of this post is just to do with knowing that these are people I can call on, professionally and, sometimes, personally.

And Chris, my computer guru, has helped me solve my cursor acrobatics since getting the new modem – sigh. I have, once again, found it impossible (except via phone) to access the internet.

Dina visited Anthony the other day and helped him with his lunch. He asked for me but she explained that she was there instead of me (this is what my mother does. Then he said to her, as if he were in a restaurant,

“This is only the second time I have been here.”

When Dina told me this I had such a sad chuckle because Anthony has now been in the nursing home for nearly four years.


It’s time for an inspection!

Yikes! Dina is coming out to the farm tomorrow to pick me up for lunch at a brewery not far from here. This means she will spot any residues of chaos in the house and Ming’s shed.

Okay, just to refresh your memory, Dina is the wonderful woman who helped us to declutter and reorganise the house and sheds. Her business is

So I have around 25 hours to hide do my pile of paperwork, and Ming (who isn’t home yet from gallivanting down south) has even less time to make his shed presentable.

A few weeks ago, Dina, a mutual friend and I went out for lunch, and they picked me up. I wasn’t sure if they’d come into the house or not so, in the hour before they arrived, I went into a neat-and-tidy frenzy. Well they didn’t come in so that was a bit of an anti-climax and, during lunch, I told them and Dina laughed.

But tomorrow is different. Tomorrow, as part of her service, Dina will be conducting a follow-up inspection at my request.

Now don’t get me wrong; Dina is the kindest, most uncritical decluttering expert I know (well I don’t know any others) and I am not a slob (mostly). But she is also very frank and I am a bit disorganised. This makes for a beautiful friendship but OMG I only have 24 hours left!




Letting history go


Inside this suitcase are the last remnants of bits of history that are not mine: war medals, marmalade recipes, long-ago title deeds, documents, shop bills etc. Initially, when Dina, her assistant and I cleared the sheds and the old cottage, this suitcase was only half full but now I have filled it with every single other document/old photo so that all of the historical stuff is now in one place!

For some reason (procrastination + a bit of depression) I have saved this last job of sorting through for tomorrow when Dina is meeting me at the nursing home. There is a family member who has been writing a history of this family so it is wonderful to be able to put papers and photos into ‘the Margaret box’.

Also, the antique guy + heritage people have taken away the historical stuff that they know more about than I will ever know. Hence, I have earned a few thousand dollars for bits and pieces that were interesting to see, but not to keep.

The decluttering of this house and farm, over the last few months, has been an extraordinary experience of joy and pain, with a dash of relief!

Letting history go….


Best laid plans

It has been another extraordinary couple of days with Dina, my decluttering/organising friend.

Yesterday morning we tackled the wash house. For those who don’t know, in Australia, people used to have separate-from-the-house facilities for washing clothes, and out-houses for toilet matters. To my knowledge there was never an actual out-house here but the wash house is and I have never had a problem with going out the back door and into the wash house to do the washing. What I have had a problem with, though, is that this wash house’s washing machine has had to share its space with cupboards FULL of junk miscellaneous tools, ancient bottles of cleaning fluids, pesticides, methylated spirits, even old photos and jewellery, old boxes of shoe polish and brushes, funny little tins full of buttons, a multitude of rusty nails, screws, AND the enormous mess made by animal life attracted to the water I guess – lizards, goannas, rats possums, wild cats who tend to have their babies on the roof of the wash house, visiting snakes (possibly), and several years of dead leaves blown in daily because of course there is no door. After all, it’s a wash house! I am beginning to wonder if I am the only person in the world to still think this is a normal arrangement!

Anyway, in less than two hours, Dina and I cleared the cupboards, brushed all the cobwebs out, swept the leaves out and categorised things. Tools went into one box, rubbish into another, stuff for the Ming to decide about into another and we were done!

In retrospect, I am a bit embarrassed that while Dina did most of the dirty work of de-cobwebbing and brushing the walls, I mulled over objects like old hammers and wrestled with what was rubbish and what might NOT be rubbish. But in the end we sorted the stuff and put back the useful stuff and I was able to decide between rubbish and garage sale categories very quickly.

Dina has been sending me summaries, with before-and-after photos, every week, and I have become rather addicted to reading these because of how wonderful the ‘after’ photos are! To have made so much progress so quickly in decluttering and organising this house has been a mixture of exhilarating and exhausting but not once have I shed a tear of nostalgia; instead, I am rejoicing because finally, after three years of sorrow, this house is becoming the comfortable, orderly home it always was. AND for the first time for so long, I know where everything is!

This morning (and that’s where the best-laid-plans theme comes in), Dina and I met at the nursing home at 10am with the intention of sorting all of the hundreds of photos out. A couple of situations came up that prevented us from doing this in the planned time frame but we still managed to sort photos into labelled envelopes (‘family history’; photos Ants might be interested in – old cars, dogs, cows; my own family photos of childhood; and the Ming.) The latter subject – an over-photographed little prince from 1994 to high school – have been kept in photo albums in one of Anthony’s top cupboards to scan and turn into photo books at a later date. I took these photo albums into the nursing home a few weeks ago with that purpose in mind but also to remind Ants and it has been great looking through them from time to time.

It is several weeks now since I first discovered Dina’s service and it is probably the best decision I have made for the past three difficult years to solicit her advice and help. She does this magic trick of holding various things in her hands and asking me, “What do you want to do with these things?” And she always has boxes ready for the various categories – absolutely brilliant!

Thanks again, Dina. The space you have helped me to create in this house and in my mind has helped me (and Ming too I think) to begin to live in the future and not in the past.