For the last few days, Shane Jones and I have been in Abbotsford, beginning the long, arduous task of clearing, packing and sorting a lifetime of possessions, AKA, Stuff.
We have settled into a smoothly coordinated production line, with me constructing bubble wrap bags, Shane packing them and Alice providing comic relief. For her, all this is heaven. She gets to indulge in some of her favourite pastimes, like playing on the table (strictly forbidden, but apparently no one told Alice, except me, at least two hundred times) and rolling around in bubble wrap, a particular obsession of hers.
As far as repetitive, seemingly endless tasks go, I’ve come to the realisation that I’d rather pack up artworks than books. We seem to have a bottomless pit of those too, despite periodic attempts at downsizing. Recently we boxed up our books at my Ballarat house prior to new carpet being laid. The process was so mind-numbingly tedious, I couldn’t face putting them all back, only to have to go through it all again when the house is sold. Most are in storage until we move into our new place.
The thing is, books and artworks are such a big part of our history, that any serious attempt to cull is inevitably doomed. St. Martha, the Patron Saint of Housewives (as portrayed in my 1997 painting, pictured above), reckons that compared to moving house, slaying dragons is a cinch.
Meanwhile, the downstairs area is piling up with our possessions and looking more like the last scenes in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane by the minute. A slight exaggeration, perhaps; nevertheless, if we find a sled called Rosebud down there, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.