Some serious editing of stuff!

Weary, but we made it.

We finally managed to get all our possessions down to hand luggage. It was weeks of sorting and repacking but we paired down to absolute essentials. Okay, I may have a couple of large suitcases stored with stuff that may be essential in the future, and we have to buy a few things such as underwear pretty quickly, but it’s not bad. This is how much stuff came out of our apartment for a yard sale:

There’s about the same amount of stuff behind me in this shot.
Enough cuddly toys for our own store!

While this process was stressful and exhausting, I learnt some valuable lessons:

  1. Our family had way, way too much stuff! I will NEVER let it accumulate like this again.
  2. Stuff really isn’t that important. People, pets, doing things you enjoy, your health etc. are important.
  3. You shouldn’t get nostalgic about objects, just because they bring back memories. The memories are fine in your head, not cluttering up your living space.
  4. Only keep things that are very useful and only keep clothes that are functional AND bring you joy (thank you Marie Kondo).
  5. You shouldn’t have so much stuff that keeping it organized stops you from doing the activities that you love.

I now have to figure out what an ideal amount of belongings is as we move to our new island. I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets, so I’ll have to watch that habit. I’ve also realized that I tend to hang on to things incase they will be useful in the future, and I found out from reading articles online, that this is a hoarder habit. Scary. I’m determined that we will be a minimalist household from now on, something that will be hard with two children. Relocating from a small island may be incredibly difficult, but it’s also been very liberating.

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Spring Chickens

10″X30″ Oil on Canvas, ‘Comedy and Cuteness’

There’s been lots of these little guys running around this spring. The mother hen appears to go about her business and her chicks struggle to keep up with her. They get distracted and lose sight of her, or get separated by some steps or a curb. I’ve tried to capture the comedy and cuteness of these moments.

16″X24″, Oil on Canvas, ‘Mother Hen’

Sunrises

Before the clocks went forward this March, I was managing to get up just before dawn to run our dog. This meant that everyday I witnessed sunrise at the pink sand beach here. I love sunrises because it’s the first appearance of the sun and the colors are so different every time. Also, few people are up to enjoy it, so it feels even more special. Often, the few people that were on the beach at that time, would largely be standing facing the sun at that moment that it pops above the horizon. I’ve tried to capture that feeling in these two paintings. Who knows, maybe it will inspire me to set my alarm and go experience them again!

Sunrise Explosion I, 12×12, Oil on Canvas

Mangoes in May

Our neighbor’s mango tree

Thud.

‘It’s mine!’ yells daughter 1.

‘Not if I get it first!’ shouts daughter 2, as she runs downstairs and out into the yard.

It’s mango season. Mangoes have always screamed exotic fruit to me. Therefore, every year since I’ve lived in The Bahamas, I find it exciting to see the branches of a tree in our neighbor’s yard, bending with the weight of them. Some hang over into our yard, which is also the school yard. For the next month, we will hear the thud as they fall. If it’s not school hours, one of my girls will rush out to beat the chickens and roosters to where it has fallen. If it’s school time, we generally can’t hear the thud, but everyone is extra keen to be first outside at break. Then, if the fruit aren’t on our side of the fence, they grab the longest stick they can find and ‘fish’ the mangoes close enough to grab through the wire. This is often while the neighbor observes this, unnoticed, through his window.

A pretty good haul – They might have bruises where they fell, but no holes from chicken beaks

Mangoes have been in my life for as long as I’ve known my husband. They are his favorite fruit and it brings back memories of when we were first dating. It’s not the first fruit that comes to mind when you pop into a store in the UK, but it was his choice of snack for every occasion: when we were hungover, visiting a quaint fishing village, or after windsurfing in a freezing sea. I usually declined his offer of a bite as I didn’t fancy staining my clothes, or having juice run down my chin. At that time, I was more concerned about how I looked in front of him. Although I would be secretly salivating for a bite of the juicy fruit.

Over the years, my enjoyment of eating is definitely stronger than concern about my appearance. Living here, I’ve picked up different ways to tuck into a mango.  At school, the kids peel the top half, leaving the skin on the bottom half to hold. My favorite way is to sit in the water and everyone in the family eat them there. No washing up and no sticky hands. My girls prefered method is for me to make them into ‘hedgehogs’, where I cube mango halves to look like the spikes of a hedgehog.

Mango Hedgehogs

Our neighbor generously hangs a bag of mangoes on our side of the fence, so I don’t have to worry if my girls are eating enough fresh fruit this month. It almost makes up for how expensive it is in the stores the rest of the year. Now I just need my pineapple plant to do something other than spike everyone that goes near it, actually get round to planting banana trees, and get that watermelon patch going …

Cock-a-doodle Don’t

I couldn’t leave without painting one of these guys. However, they were the bane of my life in my first year here. They don’t crow at dawn; they crow all night from about 2am. Also, when you’re in the depths of sleep, their squawking very much resembles the night time scream of a small child, of which I had two. Therefore, rather than wake up thinking, ‘darn roosters’, I would leap out of bed wondering which child needed urgent help. Now, they can make as much noise as they like: I sleep through. Although this maybe thanks to the white noise of my lovely box fan. Not only does it drown out the roosters, but crying children, backfiring golf carts, Junkanoo practices, drunken Spring Breakers, barking dogs, etc etc.

Oil on canvas, 18″X24″
Your classic streetwise, Briland rooster walking up Churchill Street

One Suitcase

As I write this, I have five and a half weeks left until my family and I leave our current rock. We’re relocating to another rock. We’ve done this before, twice, but it was between two islands in the same country, from Eleuthera to Nassau, and then back again. It was relatively easy because there’s a ferry service, so we loaded our pick up truck with whatever we could fit and six or so hours later we were in our new home. This time, we realized, a little late, that there are no direct flights between The Bahamas and the BVIs, so we have to go via the states. We’re going to the UK for a visit home in between, which further complicates it. To summarise, it would mean that it would cost over $500 in luggage fees if we each took a suitcase. I was pretty devastated at first, because a quick scan around apartment suggested we could need at least eight of them..

However, last weekend, I did a quick practise pack and realised that all my stuff easily fits into one suitcase, including my wooden easel and all my shoes. In fact, all my clothes fitted into a hand luggage bag, so I only needed part of a suitcase.  I was shocked. My girlfriend’s response when I excitedly told her, was, ‘You don’t have enough stuff!’ This is and isn’t true. I have a lot of stuff, as my stuffed drawers and wardrobe can attest. It’s just that most of my stuff should have been thrown out long ago. The reason it hasn’t is twofold. I’ve watched ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ and was keen to expel the things that no longer bring me joy. I never did this because it’s not as simple here as taking things to the local Goodwill store. There’s Social Services, but the opening hours are a little erratic. The second reason, is that it’s so hard to get anything to the island, so I don’t want to throw anything away that I might use. When I went through my wardrobe and only selected the items that were worth keeping and (just about) brought me joy, it would fit in hand luggage. I wasn’t sure how that made me feel, but I’d recently read an article on ‘Women who live on Rocks’ about how little you need to pack when you come to an island, and that made me feel better. It’s what I’ve always felt, but I’ve always thought maybe I should have a few cuter clothes. Yet when I do buy the odd item, I rarely wear it, saving it for the special occasion that doesn’t ever come. I’m going to try and be brutal and keep to hand luggage plus part of a suitcase, for all my possessions. I’m both excited and nervous. I’m hoping that my daughters are on-board with this minimal packing too ….

clothing items and pair of shoes in luggage

This is NOT what my suitcase will be looking like!