Collecting memories

It appears to be a fact of modern life that technology becomes obsolete by the time you have opened the box. Our computer is now over six years old, security updates are no longer automatic, websites don’t always work properly and films over an hour in length freeze up in the middle. It is time for a complete system clearout and software upgrade – so if there is no post from me next week, we are still rebuilding…

Just as I like to tidy a room every few years and clear out what has become ‘clutter’, I have spent the last week going through my computer files. It is amazing how many folders remain untouched since the last clearout, that may as well be moved into ‘Archive’. A few thousand emails have been deleted, while a handful of wonderful ones have now been stored in appropriate folders to make me smile again at some point in the future. Photos of nieces and nephews remind me of when they were small. Good wishes or news from friends who live overseas. Memories and video clips of canoeing trips.

I am reminded how those who have lost all their possessions treasure the personal, the photographs, the keepers of memory. As the reward for this process of clearance, I will have a new printer that can do colour, so that I may collect a few of the most treasured pictures into a book. Something tangible that may be worth rescuing. Am I crazy to fill my physical shelves as well as the computer files? Well probably, but which will M enjoy looking at in years to come? Also I expect there will be at least two more computer rebuilds before she becomes an adult…

There are other, more pagan- or possibly witch-specific uses for physical photographs as well. While I am not a great one for spells, especially those involving living people, using photos for connecting to recently deceased ancestors is much simpler than trying to get hold of relevant objects to represent them. I have had a frame for some time now waiting for pictures to be printed out and inserted so that it may stand on a side table.

It seems to me that human nature hasn’t changed much; for thousands of years we have painted our memories, first directly onto our walls, then on wood, leather, canvases or parchment. We may puzzle at the exact meaning today, but we still value the pictures. However just as we have hidden files in silicon crystal that may be accessed in the future, so did the ancients, in the form of quartz crystals. Meditating with a stone, or even a skull, can reveal all kinds of truths and memories that have been stored there.

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Moving Kitchens

Some people are really organised. They make plans for their home, carry them out, and finish the job all within a few months. We don’t seem to manage that. We make plans, then discover something else that has to be done first, then find something that has to be fixed, then escalate the plans, then circumstances change and the plans have to be put on hold, eventually we return to the plans to find we have to remake them… you get the picture!

Today we moved into our new kitchen. We drew up the plans for it in around 1998. We have had the kitchen units in our shed since about 1999, thanks to a salesman who said (when we wanted advice on plumbings and electric points) we could order the kitchen and they would store it for us until the room was ready…

The outer shell for the kitchen was completed in 2001 – the two year delay being caused by the realisation we had to build the garage / workshop first because what was there was completely unsound. We had some help for both of those major undertakings, thank goodness! Since then we have done almost everything ourselves, including bricklaying, repointing, plastering, plumbing, electrics… I won’t go into all that has happened in the past decade, but a boundary wall got built in the garden, a chimney got rebuilt, the living room got stripped to bare brick and wood floor and then was redone in true Edwardian style, and the garden, garage and workshop all got some attention as well as many other smaller jobs. We planned to get to the kitchen some day, but lets face it, ours worked, sort of, and there were only the two of us. Finishing the extension was not the highest priority in our lives.

Then I got pregnant, and we knew we had to sort the house out. I got people in to get the room plastered and floored, then the fitting of the kitchen was started the week before M was born. Plans had to be remade slightly along the way (luckily we still loved the units and worktops!) and M accompanied us to tile shops as a tiny baby asleep in her car seat. Finally another year on it nears completion and we have had the grand move into the new space. Not finished, the old sink and drains had to come out before the new cabinets could be fitted on the other side of the wall, some painting and tiling needs finishing, there isn’t a bin under the sink yet, but it’s good enough to move into.

So what have I learned through this long process? Above all, how to hold onto a dream. That it is possible to rekindle the energy and enthusiasm for a project and complete it with love. Acceptance that we are only human and not everything can be done at once. Learning not to blame anyone else for what I cannot do myself. Forgiveness for when we fall short of the high standards that we set ourselves. That beauty is possible everywhere and is eternal; it doesn’t matter how delayed it is, the beauty is still there to be found and is what lasts. Even in a kitchen, especially where my stained glass is reflected onto the wall late afternoon in winter. I’ll try and get a photo of it when it returns in a month or so.