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Time capsule and monkey business

·1144 words·6 mins

The Move #

A view of some of the trees we planted in 2016
Unloading the truck into the garage and street

These have the busiest weeks I’ve had, physically, in the past few years. We moved into the new house and our stuff arrived from Thailand a week later. I’ve spent the best part of the past three weeks putting things together.

We asked for the stuff to be delivered in the morning, but it arrived at two in the morning instead. The driver and copilot proceeded to unload everything into the garage, which soon cascaded into the street. By the time they were done, our stuff occupied one whole lane of the street.

Several homeless people had come up to chat, look at the stuff and offer their help taking it upstairs. I thought it was probably a bad idea to accept their help and spent the best part of an hour uncomfortably chatting and telling them to get out of the garage when, from time to time, they would try their luck and inch their way past the doorway.

Three guys arrived on scooters and helped me bring the stuff up. The logistics guy had promised at least four guys, but only three managed to materialize at those ungodly hours, so I had to help them with the heavy stuff. We finished moving things upstairs after dawn.

The most time-consuming aspect of the unpacking process has probably been the time capsule aspect. Different things had been packed for 5, 10, or 20 plus years; a veritable time capsule. Some things had been packed in a hurry when they were packed in Mexico, thinking that they would soon be unpacked again. To give just one example, I found a pack of lined A4 paper with a price tag dated 1992. Insane.

Three other things have been time-consuming:

  1. Putting the books in order. I had a nice arrangement at the farm house but forgot to take a photo before putting the books in boxes. There are only a few hundred books, but it’s been a time-consuming and psychological burden to find order again.

  2. Reassembling the furniture. Because we had several identical cheap Ikea closets at the farmhouse, when I disassembled them and packed them I just mixed the pieces up, thinking they would be interchangeable. They’re not. Particularly the doors. It’s been troublesome to find the matching doors. Mismatched doors have wide gaps or don’t align vertically. Also, I had customized one of the closets and used nails for the purpose, thinking we’d never move the furniture again. Breaking it apart was tricky, but putting it all back together was even trickier.

  3. Hanging things on the walls. I didn’t realize how much stuff we had to hang on the walls. This has taken quite a bit of effort.

We’re about 80% done I think, though there’s a rule for organizing where the first 80% of the organization process takes up 20% of the time, and the remaining 20% takes 80%. I think Marie Kondo calls the remaining 20% “komono;” knickknacks. These things are difficult to organize because they’re often difficult to categorize.

Monkey Business #

Yesterday, N spotted a macaque monkey while we were putting out the compost on the box in the veranda. He was sitting a couple of meters away looking at us. When I looked at him he smiled aggressively at me. We went inside the house and waited for him to walk across the veranda, stopping to drink water from a small puddle that had formed after watering the plants, and on to the side of the house facing the alley, then crossed the street walking on a thin electric cable and disappeared into some trees on the other side.

I’ve seen gangs of macaques before around Wat Phnom, and know many people who have to deal with them at home close to that area, but I didn’t think they’d come all the way here. It was also peculiar that we only saw one monkey, as I usually see them in groups. Perhaps he was a lookout. If so, I hope his report of our veranda will be uninteresting to the rest of the crew.

Macaques can be a real nuisance and they can also be dangerous; playing with stuff, opening water faucets, turning houses over while raiding for food, and potentially attacking people. It was nice to see the monkey, but it has changed my perception of the outdoor area of the house (not unlike the herd of wild elephants changed my perception of our farm). We were already weary on account of rats as big as rabbits that parade on the edges of the veranda at night and seem to be unafraid of us (there are quite a few cats too, but maybe the rats are too big to be intimidated by the cats?).

Minimalism. Or not. #

There are so many things we own and don’t use. Some things we keep because they are sporadically useful. Some things we keep because we have vested psychological energy into them. Other things we keep because they are special, or expensive, and we keep thinking we’ll use them.

One such item for me are pens. I already had a bunch of pens and a few months ago my friend started a Lamy distribution business and I bought one of the nicer models from him when he invited me for a private tour at the atelier. I had another Lamy fountain pen that I used for years, taking daily notes on small field notebooks. At some point the nib started feeling rough, as if it scratched the paper, and I stopped using it. I didn’t throw it away, because I can always buy a new nib, but now I have the newer, fancier model, and should probably think of getting rid of the older one. The problem is I don’t use the newer one enough, so that when I want to use it, the ink in the cartridge has dried up, and I have to refill it. I don’t use it enough because I’ve grown out of the habit of having a field notebook. Nowadays, I type notes into Orgzly, which never quite feels right. I know I should go back to pen and notebook, but I’m lazy to carry a bag around with me everywhere I go. I also have a tablet with a nice keyboard, which I bought, so I wouldn’t have to haul the laptop around.

I like Lamy pens. I was reminded of our collection (N has another couple of them) yesterday, reading about another unused Lamy in Jack Baty’s blog. They’re good pens. Being left-handed, they’re the only fountain pens I’ve been able to use consistently without smudging.

I have so many items like the above example. Minimizing will have to come in waves. I can’t let go of everything at once. Not yet at least.