Monday, December 10, 2007

Orlaith has left the building

The special council form took a couple of visits - the Man Who Signs Such Forms glanced at my paperwork this morning as I came into his office, then walked out without signing it. I went back again this afternoon, and it all worked out. Phew.

The movers did great work. We had a couple (well, three) instances where they said "Can you confirm that the room is clear?" - I went in and opened a cupboard/wardrobe/other space which was still filled with my stuff. In each instance, I just backed out quietly. However, it's all done now. Another phew.

Landlady wandered through at one point and said "See you tomorrow morning!" Why oh why do I not record our conversations! So I fumbled, "Remember - you said that I could stay in your other apartment tonight - because all my belongings are now packed?" She finally remembered. Triple phew.

So, I'm off to meet a friend who I bumped into earlier, and said "This is your last night; I have plans!" I have no idea what that means...

I will set up another blog (but I'll take several days off this week to unpack/babysit). If you want immediate notification on the new blog you can sign into - I'll send out a note from there to those who are currently registered; else just check back here and I'll provide the new link to a new blog of Orlaith Somewhere Else.

In the meanwhile, thank you all so much, for everything. It's been fantastic.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A good theme

From time to time I get emails from people who are thinking about making a big life change of some kind or other: moving countries or careers or taking some big leap to follow a dream. They write because something about my story resonated with them - and their emails leave me often surprised and always humbled.

There are themes that we come back to: about taking risks, and believing in yourself enough to give yourself the opportunity to go and do something about it. And when we've gone through those, I'm usually the one that gets all practical, because there's a difference between taking a risk and flinging yourself into the unknown.

You can offset so much trauma by preparing for a big change - and I don't mean planning everything out in advance, because there'll always be a zillion things that are entirely beyond your control. I mean getting the overarching theme right: knowing why you're choosing to do something, and how you expect life to be different or better for that change. A good guiding theme provides stability within the tremendous change. With the move to Madeira it was a line from a Patrick Kavanagh poem: "For this soul needs to be clothed with a new dress woven / From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven". And the move did exactly that for me.

Understanding your own quirks - your strengths and weaknesses and fears and hopes - will go a long way to smoothing out how you move into the next phase; knowing what freaks you out is as important as knowing what makes you feel emotionally snuggled. I still treasure the lesson of the Incident Pit.

Apart from the elusive council form (to be tackled in some official offices in the morning), I think everything's settled. Today I got through the last bits on my To Do list, went out for a final pizza and sunshiney beer.

The day was peppered with people calling in to say goodbye (I was inevitably on a break when they called - watching Boston Legal and drinking Coral - so no-one got a sense of industriousness and organisation). The movers will be here first thing in the morning - broadband isn't cut off until Tuesday, so I'll do a final post tomorrow before I leave.

As I was packing this evening, I smiled at my loopy prioritisation: green & red crepe paper for christmassy crafty sessions with my nephew & niece; an Absolut disco ball for my sister (my own one will be shipped); arty stuff that's small enough to take; and my super hot air popcorn maker, which will never leave my side again - they're all in there. Know what makes you feel snuggled - that's important.

Oh, and never attempt an inverted yoga pose after more than two glasses of wine. That's important too.

Here endeth the lesson :)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Other goodbyes

Still haven't got that magic form from the parish council, but apparently wheels are turning (invisible ones, and slowly).

The nefarious paperwork is done, so I'm on the home stretch.

I like this stage of things, when you know it's all do-able. I've just got my little terrace to clear, then I'll sit in the sunshine and watch the waves for a bit (the flu medication is leaving me pleasantly dopey).

I like taking final photos before I leave a place. This was dawn on my last morning at a place called Conover Lake in Michigan; the U Haul van was all packed up and ready. I remember hesitating before I took the picture, thinking it would never turn out.

And this was dawn on my last day in my lovely house in Exeter. I woke about 4am, packed, then put on a pot of coffee and sat out in the garden as the first light crept through.

Right, now to sort out that terrace...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Caving in

"But you are more sicker!" exclaims the Nice Cafe lady.

And I figure, she's got a point. So I finally concede, and visit the chemist.

Remember back in the day, when chemists were purveyors of arcane medicines - everything was stashed behind the counter, out of reach and unintelligible? That's kind of what they're like in Madeira.

There's nothing like Walgreens or Superdrug or Boots - nowhere to browse along aisles of pain killers and lozenges and night-nursey type things. And you have to go to a chemist even for aspirin (to think, I used to complain about Solpadeine being prescription-only in the US...).

So this was my first visit in Madeira. I went in, recalling asking a UK chemist for advice about flu-stuff before: they talked about contraindications, side-effects, then distanced themselves from the whole process. If I chose to take the pills, that was my responsibility.

Not so here. She doesn't ask anything, just goes into the inner sanctuary and brings out two boxes. "One of these three times a day, and one of these at night", she glances at me, shivering in 25 degrees, "or more often. You can take these more."

Off I went, armed with pills, and got some red wine for good measure. My spidey senses tell me there'll be an afternoon nap today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Mike

Today is paperwork day - sorting out what to bring/scan/dump, and doing up an insurance assessment for the shipping company. This is probably my least thrilling kind of work. And the moving company just emailed to say I need a letter from my parish council to confirm they know I'm leaving. Hmm. First I've heard of it.

But in other news:

And, as the zillion fridge magnets were peeled off the fridge, a final message was revealed:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mostly about coffee

Have I mentioned coffee yet? It was one of those trial-and-error things when I first visited: I didn't want a thimbleful, nor did I want a cappucino (which not only comes with cream here, but cream-out-of-a-can. Gakkarama. And did I mention it's almost impossible to get fresh milk or cream on the island? There's one shop in the tourist district that ships fresh stuff in... but anyhoo, where was I?)

So, I figured out the portuguese for "a large (which is anywhere else's small, and wouldn't even register on the Starbuck's scale) coffee with milk". It felt like it took a minute to pronounce all the words. On the first day of playing with my new phrase, a nice lady explained that it was just called a chinesa. Pronounced shinyeza. Any coffee comes normal, extra-milky, or super-strong, so if your first cup needs some work, then adjust to taste.

So there you go - my helpful hint for today.

Super-productive morning (yes, I actually set an alarm. I felt proud; smug even) but the afternoon was a washout - Landlady appeared and one thing led to another and suddenly we were in a car - ostensibly off to ensure that the cable & broadband were cancelled next week, but somehow we ended up at her brother's house, waiting for a builder, and waiting... It occured to me that through these kooky trips, I've met four generations of her family :) An odd afternoon, but good craic.

And now pizza and beer. Luxury.

Monday, December 03, 2007

My last week

Beautiful day here. Still battling with a head cold; I'm treasuring being able to go for a wander and gaze out over the ocean (while snuffling) as a break from the organising-type work.

I dug out my winter coats, and the sarongs are now packed away.

Another rosy-lilac sunset.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Food tangents

Today is kitchen-clearing day.

I got slightly distracted as I was sorting the pantry, and ended up going through my cookbooks and scanning recipes that might come in useful over Christmas.

I'm hungry now.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Before and after

When I left Exeter, friends of mine adopted my cat Coco, and the pampered fluffball moved out of the big city to enjoy village life in the Devonian countryside.

It turns out, the big rural move hasn't changed her much. This is her now...

And this was her back in the day...

Little minx.