What’s In The Bag?

Heathrow Airport Arrival 2013

Coming home is particularly sweet after an extended time away.

There’s the obvious happiness of seeing my husband John waiting for me, and the ahhh feeling I get when the plane lands safely and I make it through customs and immigration, but this time has been different and I have been trying to figure out why.

I recently returned from a ten-week stay in the US and have been a bit overwhelmed since my arrival a little over a week ago.

I hear you thinking, What do you mean overwhelmed … how long can it take to unpack your bags and settle back into your routine?

Sometimes, it’s not about the stuff in the bags.

As you can see I am pushing a very full luggage cart and it’s not the first time I have arrived from an international flight looking like a smiling beast of burden. This collection of suitcases is fairly light compared some of my past Heathrow and Gatwick arrivals. Due to decreasing weight allowances, but increasing checked baggage costs, I tend to travel lighter on my trips between what I think of as my two homes.

Except this time.

This time the extra bag I checked carried some favorite product brands I can’t get in the UK along with some new clothes and other things I have needed for a while.

Needed might be questionable, but …

I tend to be a big charity store shopper with Salvation Army, Goodwill, and second-hand shops being my ‘go to’ places. This does not mean I don’t buy new, but when I do I tend stick to the sale section. Thrifty shopping can be just as bad as spending too much on new, a lesson my normally bulging closet would illustrate had its contents not been recently whittled down.

Thursday, John and I took seven huge garbage bags filled with clothing to a local charity shop along with several bags of barely worn shoes and two big boxes of books. I think I struggled more deciding which books to give away than I did with clothes and now after looking at my bookshelves and wardrobe more critically, I have decided to go back through and do another purge.

Remember when I said it’s not always about the stuff earlier …

I have been working on multiple parts of the house since I got home, clearing away clutter and organizing what is left. I have even been in the attic going through boxes and throwing out or giving away things while doing a total overhaul of what is allowed to stay. I’ve emptied a wardrobe and a too-full dresser in the guest room and I’ve reorganized other parts of the house as well even giving away loads of my books that were cluttering John’s study, but what I haven’t done is finish tidying up my studio space.

Studio sounds a bit grand for what I do there, but it is my creative get-away space and where I do most of my writing and photography work. It also doubles as my dressing room and has an en suite bathroom attached to it both of which have been an absolute tip (trash site) since I arrived ten days ago. I left it very tidy when I flew to the US in early July, but with the big clear out over the last week things have fallen into a bit of state.

Looking at it feels overwhelming and I have been finding ways to avoid slogging through what’s left to finish it off.

I decided to take a look at how my need for perfection keeps me from getting more done creatively after reading this post by Nadia Eghbal titled  Why I Wore The Same Outfit Everyday For A Year.  As good writers and bloggers will often do, she got me thinking.

Sure I can clean like I’m still in the Army getting ready for an inspection, or make a time-consuming special something _________ insert what ever suits you here, but be sure it’s something that could use a bit more of this, or a touch of that because that’s what my rarely satisfied self would do with something I make.

I could say I’m only nesting with all this clearing and decluttering, making room for the birth of some semi-new blog or book idea, or even some business daydream that can travel with us when John and I pack up and go and some of that would be true, but I have to wonder if there’s not something bigger underlying my need to restrict and control disorder in my environment to the extent that it distracts me from other parts of my life needing attention.

I’m not going to spend any more time mulling that one over as I do better when I make a decision and move on. With that in mind, I am committing to tossing a few extra things into my partially full give-away bag.

I am willing to begin by dropping in my perfectionist tendencies along with a too tight sweater and a dress that’s really a little young for me. Then there’s that old comparison rag where I tend to judge my work against that of others. Yep, that’s going too.

That will do for me for now, but what about you?

If you’ve got something you want to get rid of, something that’s keeping you stuck or distracting you from your next best thing, feel free to leave it behind in a comment.

Go ahead, I’ll bag it up and dispose of it for you.

Because you know I do like a tidy work space, and I’m already going that way.

The Last Photographs Of My Life … Not Yet

Wales 2013

Multi-Car Accident on A40 in Slebech, Wales ( I took this from inside the ambulance. The blue van in the middle of the road is the one that hit us. She also hit the car to the left, near the sign.)

Four days ago my husband John and I were hit by a woman in a van. It was 2:20 in the afternoon on a Friday in Wales.

The driver was drunk … almost twice the legal limit.

She drove head-on into our lane and only John’s quick reactions saved us from something that could have been very ugly. I don’t know why she made the decision to drink and drive or why she felt it necessary to try to pass a delivery truck on a crowded two-lane road after having had the equivalent of four pints of beer, but she did.

None of the cars were moving slowly although 40 to 45 miles an hour may sound slow to those used to higher speeds on major roads. I imagine the drunk driver was also accelerating when she pulled out from behind the large truck that witnesses said she’d been trying to overtake for a while before reaching us. They said it almost looked as if she had someone else in the car jerking the wheel back several times before she drove into our lane.

I looked up from a book I was reading when I felt John shift suddenly and saw the van coming at us, his quick response moved us to the edge of the road or what they call ‘the verge’ here. She hit the side mirror before striking the back side car near the tire which caused our car to go into a spin. We left the road temporarily while spinning … moving through the grass and mud before going back into the road and coming to rest across both lanes.

Wales 2013

We were traveling in the opposite direction of how the car is facing in this photo.

Wales 2013

The blue van in the middle of the road in the distance is the one that caused the accident. She also hit the car near the sign to left in the photo. You can see the grass we brought with us after spinning through it. The white car was behind us and stopped to help. (That’s our tire jack on the right … it flew out during the spin. We lost a big suspension coil as well)

Knowing there were other cars traveling in both lanes, I expected to feel the impact of more cars even after we stopped moving, but all was still afterwards except for the sound of my own coughing. As the dust from four airbags cleared, I knew I was unharmed, but I had to force myself to look at John because I knew his side of the car had taken the hit.

I was afraid to look for fear of what I might see.

Seeing him unharmed except for a bit of blood on his lip was unbelievable given the wild ride we’d just experienced and before we could say more than, ‘Are you alright,’ we heard a man yelling, ‘ Get out of the car, get out of the car!’ It turns out having four airbags going off at once can give an impression of a car filling with smoke and as we jumped out I didn’t know whether the car was on fire or about to be hit by something larger.

Having my camera in my lap at the time of impact proved useful and I snapped a few photos before a mad adrenalin rush and uncontrollable shaking had me sitting in an ambulance being evaluated. I took a few more photos from a sitting position inside the boxy vehicle which is larger than most American ones.

Wales 2013

My window to the world from inside a Welsh ambulance (enlarge to see the Welsh writing on the wall.)

Wales 2013

After hitting us and the delivery truck she was trying to pass, she hit the wall to the right and scraped the road. Somewhere during her out of control ride, she also hit the white car on the left side of the road too.

My title would suggest these were the last photographs I was referring to, but at then end of our day after being released from the hospital and having arrived by taxi at our B&B for the night, I was going over my photos when I came to those I’d shot less than an hour before the crash occurred.

I told John as I flipped through them that had things not gone as they had, someone else might be looking at the last photographs of my life … my final view.

These are some of those images.

Wales 2013

Wales 2013

I don't usually take photos that include the car, but I liked the cloud's reflection in the hood.

I don’t usually take photos that include the car, but I liked the cloud’s reflection in the hood.

My Last Photo ... Not Yet

My Last Photo … Not Yet

The photo above of the rider-less horse … is the very last one I took before the crash occurred. The rider had dismounted just before I took this shot.

Big big thanks for all of the kind thoughts from our Facebook friends. You heard first about our encounter with the drunk driver and your supportive comments were very much appreciated.

When Friends Win The Lottery!

On my recent trip to Dublin to spend a few days with my dear friend David Morris, I had the fun experience of seeing David and a new friend to me now, Michael Bang win a substantial amount of money through EuroMillions.

Here’s what it looked like to the photographer (me) watching as they realized they’d won and then began the process of collecting their winnings.

EuroMillions - A winning Ticket

I was with them on Friday when they bought the ticket and agreed to split the results 50/50 if they won. I was also with David when he checked the results a few days later online and decided they had not won, but saved the tickets anyway to give to Michael.

Michael then went in the store in the photo above to scan the tickets and thought the scanner was broken when it kept saying he was holding a winning ticket. He did this three times before confirming with the cashier that they had indeed won.

Then they were off on a hunt to see how they could collect.

This woman was not very helpful as she did not seem to know the answers to their questions on how to collect.

So they had to work it out themselves eventually learning that it would have to be picked up by check as it was too big for a cash payout and they could not get it until Monday, the day they were both scheduled to fly back to Atlanta.

EuroMillions Lottery Check - Photo by Michael Bang

Michael changed his flight and stayed an extra day to pickup their winning check. They agreed to keep the amount to themselves so he fuzzed it out before posting it on Facebook where I lifted the image that you see here.

Having been sworn to secrecy, I won’t reveal the amount either except to say that it was a sizable number and great fun for me to share the excitement.

Spending time with David is always sweet and I have more Dublin stories and photos to share over the next few days.

42 Hours To Share What I Love About Cornwall Life

We’ve got a visitor arriving by train in a few minutes. It’s Donna Freedman, who until now has been known only to me through her blogging here and her column at MSN Money.

Lest you think she’s a total stranger aside from being blogging buddies, Donna used to work as a journalist at the Anchorage Daily News with my brother-in-law, Leon. She has an interesting history and writes about how to live well on less.

She’ll be pleased to know that the flowers in her room are from the garden and the blackberries I’ll be using in a cobbler tomorrow, are frozen from the fifteen pounds of berries I picked last summer after reading about how she freezes them for winter use.

With only 42 hours, we’ll be moving pretty quickly. I have no idea what she’d like to see as she has left that up to us. We still have a few normal commitments during those 42 hours, such as a funeral service for our neighbor, but I figure we can leave her in downtown Bodmin for an hour to explore some of my favorite charity shops or she might want to stay home and write.

She’s posting about her frugal travel experience some of which includes staying in hostels in London. Having stayed a few hostels myself, I think she’ll find our guest room a nice alternative.

 

 

Power Shots & Love Lines

Earlier this year while John was driving us to Tenby Wales, I spotted this sight and I shouted something like, ” Stop, please … I want to take a picture! ” Being the patient and accommodating man that he is, John pulled the car over so I could take a couple of shots that would probably not appeal to many.

I pulled these two photographs today because they reminded me of how often John puts my needs first even when he’d rather be doing something else. He’s been busy lately helping me get ready for my upcoming trip to my home in Atlanta, Georgia where I’ll soon be for the next few weeks.

He’s been patient and calming even when travel worries have left me a bit stroppy. I love some of the new words I discovered after moving here. Stroppy is a perfect description for my mood lately and I think it’s because I’m really going to miss him. As an independent, space loving woman, this represents a big shift for me.

Even though we’ve only been together for about two and half years I’ve come to love sharing my time with him. I still need of lot of time to myself, but there’s something really easy about the way we move in each other’s lives and space and if we were dancing, I’d say we had definitely mastered the steps.

Of course I’ll have fun on my trip home to the US and it’s going to be good to spend time with Miranda and Cullene and the rest of my family and friends, but now while any family gathering is still sweet, not having him there to share it makes it feel a bit incomplete.

I’m not gone yet, but soon I’ll be writing from the other side of the Atlantic where the high temperatures and humidity may be just enough to distract me from missing him too much.

I’ve already scheduled a run/walk/hike with a blogger friend, Jules who John and I met on the TMB a couple of years ago along with her husband. If you’re reading me from Georgia and want to meet up to say hello, you can leave me a message here and I’ll get in touch with you. We don’t have to brave the heat like Jules and I will be doing … I am content to sit in a cool air-conditioned space and drink iced coffee with you instead.