Margaret uses a Box iron – that is heated on the fire to iron her clothes. She cooks all her meals and bakes her own bread in a pot oven, over the open fire. She lives in a house without electricity and modern conveniences. This is not a reality show where we are taken back in time for a short period. This is the life of someone living in modern times, but just as people did 100 years ago in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The fire, Margaret says, is essential not just for life, but for the house itself to survive, as the timbers, need the fire to preserve them. Without the fire, you could not live this way.
In addition, this county has interesting natural and social history features. As well as rare plants, there is the pagan stone – where the firstborn of stock and family were sacrificed in pagan times! A Holy Spring is located there – the waters of which are supposed to cure nervous and paralytic disorders.
It is thought some of my family may have come from this county, around 130 years ago, so this is a snapshot into the way of life they may have led. Margaret doesn’t see this house as a time capsule, the way we might.
She sees it as home just as her father and Grandfather did.
Could you live a life without modern conveniences. the way Margaret does?
If you had to give them up, which one would you miss the most?
But the MOTH – The ‘Man About the House’ – is frustrated!
If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo, it may be that you don’t have a TV set or haven’t stepped inside a bookshop, of late. Marie Kondo, a Japanese lady, advocates the Kon-Mari method of Organization. Through her TV show and book titled, “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying,” Marie has brought a new wave of organizational and tidying techniques to the world.
Marie’s particular brand of household magic involves a range of vertical storage solutions, lots of folding strategies, and sorting one’s possessions into certain categories. The central tenet behind her de-cluttering techniques is to hold each item in turn, to one’s heart, whilst asking yourself the question, “Does this item spark joy in me? ” If the answer is yes, the item is kept; if the answer is no – the item is gratefully thanked for its job in one’s life, and then promptly ditched.
I began to read Marie’s book and then this happened –
Like a thrift shop’s sorting table, this was a scene from my house shortly after I started to read Marie’s book.
Around about that time my husband started to “lose” things.
I was reading Marie’s book and he was uttering a variety of indignant lamentations.
“Where is that hard drive I left on the desk,” he demanded, as I perused Chapter 3. Midway through reading Chapter 5, he asked me, “..Those batteries I had beside the TV, what’s happened to them?” By the closing chapter of Marie’s book, the crescendo of laments had reached a point of desperation, “Just where ARE my shoes?” he cried.
(They’d been moved to their new ‘spot,’ of course, at the bottom of his wardrobe).
I have to say Marie: – Because of you, papers are now never left to pile up on desks; shoes are regularly moved from under beds and chairs, and miscellaneous items are no longer stored, “to hand”, as a visual reminder.
But the MOTH cannot find anything because it is packed away neatly in cupboards and drawers, in places he never looks! So, he is definitely not happy with Marie.
Marie is also to blame for the careful rolling and folding of every piece of clothing I own. She’s responsible for the discarding of lots of my unused “stuff.” It is also, though, her fault for my having increased capacity in storage cupboards; a strong ability to locate those less frequently used items faster, and even to blame for me being capable of selecting coordinates in a blink of the eye.
For Marie is right.
A lot of that “stuff,” we accumulate over time, sits at the back of storage cupboards, and will most likely never be worn, or used.
Then there’s that feeling of guilt I no longer have for buying extra clothes, or purchasing things I won’t always use. Prior to reading Marie’s book, I used to admonish my daughter for throwing out so many new-ish clothes and goods, in so short a time after their purchase, thinking her a wee bit wasteful.
I am was a big up-cycling and recycling advocate, who could always find another use for any item. To throw out clothes that might be re-fashioned was akin to sacrilege.
But Marie believes that tidying and de-cluttering is a way of taking stock and finding out what we really do like. And Marie’s advice is spot on when she stated many of those so called ‘rescued and re-fashioned items would simply accumulate in storage, only to be thrown out years later, without ever being up-cycled.
Well, I did recycle a few items from my stash, but probably much less than half, I have to admit.
Where does this feeling of wanting to buy and keep material goods come from?
After spending a lifetime tidying and honing tidying into a fully fledged international business, Marie has an explanation for this behaviour. Marie says:-
We amass material things for the same reason we eat – to satisfy a craving. She insists that through tidying and de-cluttering, people come to know contentment.
Marie’s method is a way of respecting and organizing our possessions, caring for them and appreciating what we have and what we choose to keep. By employing the Kon-Mari method, Marie frees us from the burden of accumulating more and more ‘stuff,’ and in this way, tidying becomes a a life-changing experience.
And what happens to the MOTH’s shoes now that I have finished the book?
They are still placed neatly under the chair, each evening.
I guess Marie should address MOTHS in her next book.
My husband has built a house before, with his father, so for him, this is not so special.
For me, this is my first and last time to decide how a new house might look from the ground up. I will never do it again. This is it.
There are so many things to decide. We have to chose absolutely everything – colours, tiles, mortar, grout, locks, window frames, cornice, shelves. For every part of the house and every single thing in it, there is a choice. A good thing, right? But it makes my head spin, just a little bit.
A Block of Land
First things first.
We recently purchased a block of land in a new development that was close by the water’s edge. We wanted to be near the water. Two people, done with raising a family, growing old in a house by the sea. Sunset walks along the water’s edge. Cool breezes in the sub-tropical summer. Sounds idyllic? We think and hope so.
Selecting a block of land wasn’t as easy as we thought. I was very fussy about micro-climate and orientation. After living for many, many years in a house that was like a furnace in summer and a freezer in winter, I knew I was going to be particular about aspect. And I was lucky. I found one that ticked almost all the boxes.
The block in question was already registered with the governing body, as opposed to buying a pile of dirt way behind a barbed wire fence and shown only on a paper plan to prospective buyers. Whilst I was particular on the right environmental aspect, my husband was definitely not going to buy anything he couldn’t step on and feel, with his own hands. So we were lucky. We found it. First step done!
designing A house
Next we had to find a design we liked. Will the design we picked fit on the block of land, we wondered? My idea of this, might be a little different to local councils and also the idea of the land developers which is different to that of the builder. Negotiations await a pen pusher’s whim. We wait for that.
Our land has two frontages, that is: it faces a street on one side and a smaller lane way on another. This is great because it gives us uninterrupted sea breezes and views.
However, there are certain rules about how close the house can be situated to the street and neighbouring houses, called setbacks. They don’t want you to build your house right next to the road, as they did in years gone by.
What colour and materials will the exterior of our house be? How many windows? What type of fence will the garden have? How many plants will we get? The developer has a say in that too. It is called the covenant.
The developer in its wisdom, wants to keep selling their land for a good price and thus, they want to maintain certain standards for the houses getting built in their community. But when is a house really your own to design?
The land was previously low lying land that was filled and raised by creating an artificial lake that opened to the sea. This is coastal land – a tidal area now filled in with soil and a lake.
This means the soil test showed the soil is saline and highly reactive. That translates to more expensive foundations for the house and raised garden beds. But who wants their house walls to crack when it rains, or doesn’t rain? It has to be done that way.