Category Archives: Planning and Staging

UPDATES on the Ad Lib Artisans website

Interesting how quickly time slides away — and we’re a bit shocked to realise that we are leaving the house that Mark has been working on since November in TWO WEEKS!

We’re headed over to the other side of Normandy for another reno — but it also looks like we’ll be leaving France in mid-June to have some adventures in other countries. Sooooo — it was time to update Mark’s online work portfolio with a LOT of pictures.

Gallery 1 has the images from here in Normandy over the last 5 months. And Gallery 2 is full of the pictures from that huge renovation he did on the Mid Century ranch house in Australia in 2014 through mid-2016.

Want a peek? Then go to Ad Lib Artisans to see what I’m talking about. DOZENS of photos showing the range of the work that Mark does.

Mark inside the Calvados house from the 1400s.

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Refresh — Regroup — Relaunch

You may have noticed a significant absence of posts for the last three months — and that’s because Mark has been working away like a busy little bee over in the 1400s house. And I’ve been carefully building a base of clients for my writing and editing business.

We took a much-needed weekend escape at the end of February — over to the far western side of Normandy in beachside Brehal. We didn’t do a lot — ate, slept, read, watched movies, and had a few outings in the icy cold weather. But it was a good break and we came back feeling refreshed.

Mark looking out to sea in Brehal, Normandy, France

Mark looking out to sea in Brehal, Normandy, France

A moules (mussels) farm at the seaside in Normandy, France.

A moules (mussels) farm at the seaside in Normandy, France.

On an afternoon drive along the seacoast, we stumbled upon this medieval chateau ruin from the 14th Century in Regneville sur Mer and had a quick walk around. It’s a tiny but very pretty village facing the sea.

The corner of a 14th Century chateau ruin in the seaside village of Regneville sur Mer, Normandy, France.

The corner of a 14th Century chateau ruin in the seaside village of Regneville sur Mer, Normandy, France.

What was meant to be a short hop back over to England for Mark’s parents’ 40th anniversary party ended up being a two week visit instead. It’s always wonderful to visit with them and see all of the other assorted family and friends, but everyone in the house ended up sick as could be with whatever lurghi was hanging around England at the time and I ended up in A&E getting meds for a chest infection when our local GP couldn’t see me. Aarrgghh!

Margaret & Brian Harmes at 40th Anniversary Party

Margaret & Brian Harmes at 40th Anniversary Party

We arrived back in France exactly 4 weeks after our icy cold visit to the seaside in Brehal — and everything here at the farmhouse in Notre Dame de Fresnay had burst into bloom!

View of the Normandy countryside through the bedroom window in Notre Dame de Fresnay.

View of the Normandy countryside through the bedroom window in Notre Dame de Fresnay.

Daffodils beside the old well.

Daffodils beside the old well.

Down by the duck pond.

Down by the duck pond.

We’re preparing to move on from here in three very compressed weeks. But we’re headed to the OTHER large house belonging to the owners of this house — and we’ll be there for 6 weeks whilst Mark does renovation work on it. I’ll send pictures of that project as it progresses.

The REGROUP and RELAUNCH part of the title refers to us regrouping, going over to England for several weeks at the end of June, and trying to decide if we want to settle down or continue to work and travel for awhile longer. That’s a longer stand-alone post about the turbulent social and political factors at play here in Europe right now, so we’ll save that for another time.

I have to be truthful, it’s one of those things that sneaks up on you a bit as you get older — the mental cushion of a home base. And right now our ‘home base’ is a huge storage unit full of our possessions in England — one we refer to far too often when we reach for something and then realise that it’s in the $%^&£@! storage unit!

In the next couple of months, we will be relaunching ourselves away from here. And I have ALSO just relaunched my personal website — but I’ll leave that for a follow-up post.

Back soonish!

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Sometimes You Stop — Simply Stop

When nothing is working, flowing, creating any joy or satisfaction in your life — sometimes it is necessary to stop — simply stop.

The past few years have been a bit like that and it reached a cymbal-crashing crescendo this year. We knew in our bones that we were never going to settle into Australia, our options seemed to be narrowing instead of expanding no matter how we tried to manifest change, and we finally gave in and realised that we needed to sell our JUST renovated Mid-Century house, downsize, and go back to Europe.

Mid-Century dining

Mid-Century dining

Amidst all of that, my darling husband Mark (and yes, he has given me permission to discuss this) began facing the facts about his chronic depression and anxiety and he began treatment. He hasn’t worked at all this past year and it’s been a real juggling act financially. But I don’t actually care about that because the charming sweetie that I met almost 23 years ago is back — well and truly back. Having the gift of time was a blessing and it brought a clarity that may not have arrived if he had been juggling work and 3+ hours per day of commuting. So hooray and then some!

The lovely house sold in 7 weeks, settled 8 weeks after that, and we had a lot of decisions to make about what to sell or donate or keep and ship overseas. None of that was easy, there were moments of frustration, but at the very last minute everything FLEW out the door — from cars to refrigerator to furniture. Hooray again!

On that last night before the movers arrived at 8 AM to put our now-reduced household items into a 20 foot shipping container, we each slept for 45 minutes at most. We stayed up all night long to make SURE that it was all packed and ready — and there was still an overlap in spite of our best plans.

Once the men had left and the house was clean and ready for the new owners, we took the train from Ballarat down to Melbourne and checked into a pre-booked apartment by the sea in our old neighbourhood — the beachside suburb of St. Kilda. Something told me that we would need a few days of decompression before we got onto a long-haul flight across the world — and that was more accurate than I could have imagined. I was shattered and on the verge of being seriously ill. But we slept and ate and walked in short bursts until I was just about back to normal after 5 days.

Sunday in St. Kilda

Sunday in St. Kilda

On Melbourne Cup Day, we headed for the airport HOURS ahead of time and eventually got onto our 25 hour flight towards London. By the time we arrived, we had been awake for over 40 hours!

Again, I knew that we would be two zombies when we arrived at Heathrow at lunch time on the 2nd of November, so I booked us a hotel nearby and we checked in and slept, slept, slept. The next day we headed to Mark’s parents’ house on the east coast of England. That’s where we are now — still resting, still recovering after 10 days, getting ready to leave here on Sunday.

We’ve slowly and carefully picked a new car, bought insurance, reopened accounts, sorted out the banking, purchased proper winter clothing, and done mundane things whilst being spoiled rotten by Mark’s darling family. We are feeling very blessed.

The new car...

The new car…

We’ve arrived about 5 weeks before Christmas and it is rather cheerful to shop for winter coats and shoes in gaily decorated malls — especially when the temperatures outside do actually feel Christmas-y!

christmasreindeeratroyals

These aren’t new ideas, but when life becomes overwhelming — sometimes you just HAVE to stop.

We HAD to stop fighting the fact that nothing was coming together in Australia and it was no longer a good fit for either of us. We had to stop avoiding the fact that Mark HAD to get himself back to a happy and healthy state with therapy. We HAD to have those necessary hotel breaks in Melbourne and London or these two over-50 (and then some in my own case!) folks would have been in a state of total collapse. We HAD to stop thinking we’d bounce back after 2-3 days here in England and be ‘right as rain’ in no time. Um — no — it’s taking a lot longer nowadays!

You’ll notice that I have hardly posted for the last 3 and 1/2 years compared to the stream of information and photography prior to that. Australia wasn’t our cup of tea on so many levels — and I’ll leave it at that.

I have a book to finish and it might be a few weeks until I get back into the groove of posting a few times a month — but keep watching this spot. There are NEW things on the horizon!

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Beginning The Back-to-Europe Process

Leaving Australia began to feel a bit more real this past week. I have booked the movers to come and pack up the household goods and ship them back to the UK — in a VERY few weeks. Yikes!

Several of you have asked if that means we plan to live in Great Britain — but truthfully, we don’t know where we want to resettle. We’re starting in England and sending our ‘stuff’ there because that’s Mark’s passport country. Are we more likely to end up living in one of the EU countries? Quite possibly.

We are very open-minded right now and since we’ve been away from Europe for three years, we plan to do short term work contracts and travel through several countries BEFORE we make a final decision.

Boxes, boxes, boxes and mountains of bubble-wrap and shipping tape. THAT is what will take up at least 50% of each day for the next few weeks. And we have to do a long list of pre-departure things like new glasses, dental cleaning, getting our medical records, donating things to charity, and a big garage sale. And did I mention packing – packing – packing?

Packing boxes -- ready to load!

Packing boxes — ready to load!

We’ve gone from a gorgeously tidy house as people viewed it for a few weeks prior to sale to stacks of boxes and bubble-wrapped artwork lining the walls of the hallway. I’m still wrapping my head around it!

Just a short update today.

More soon!

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
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Why So Driven With The Writing?

A friend asked me the other day why I was suddenly so VERY driven to complete an entire series of books before we leave Australia.

Short answer — I don’t know how reliable our internet connection is going to be when we first arrive back in the UK for a short visit with family — and then we head on to France.

Also, since I am truly ‘out of the closet’ now about all of the psychic encounters throughout my life, these books will hopefully be a sort of printed ‘calling card’ or multi-page business card that lets people know who we are BEFORE we arrive. And who knows — that up-front attitude may open some new doors that we could never have imagined.

That’s where my intentions and manifestations are aimed right now!

The latest book — Acts Of Intention — went live 45 hours ago. So from now on I will refer you to my AUTHORS PAGE at deborahharmes.com where I will update the BOOKS page each time there is something new in both PRINT and EBOOK versions.

actsofintention-cover-print-website

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page. All rights reserved.

Time To Move On — Joyfully

It’s been a challenge — being back in Australia after living in Europe. We returned to find the social and political climate had changed significantly — and it wasn’t our ‘cup of tea’ any longer.

We had a plan and we’ve stuck to it — even if it did all take a bit longer to unfold than expected. We bought a fixer-upper house in a charming and established neighbourhood — a practically derelict 1950 house on a 1/4 acre lot with mature trees. And yes, it was that classic real estate cliche — the worst house on a good street.

The goal was to fix it up and sell it and then head back to Europe. But my oh my — didn’t 60 hour work weeks (on top of the renovations) and BREXIT and other kerfuffles add to the stress.

The house was completed and listed for sale in early July — and 7 weeks later we had an unconditional sale. Now the gritty part begins — deciding what to sell, what to keep, and then the flurry of packing boxes and bubble-wrap appears again. There will be happy moments and wistful moments and we know that it’s all part of the process of getting us BACK to a continent where our hearts are happy and we resonate with the look, smell, art, history, and social ethics of the place.

gladstonestreet-sold-sign

So wish us luck as we transition away from this quite beautiful Mid-Century house and off to the unknown! I’ll post progress updates along the way — and there will be some REALLY big news in the next few weeks about my simultaneous project (as if I didn’t have enough on my plate!) of launching an entire trilogy into the Amazon universe plus re-issuing 2 previous books that have unexpectedly gained ‘traction’ again.

Whew! Back to work!

Calm Determination

This has been an odd week weather-wise and the heavy-soggy-blustery nature of it all finally took a bit of a break today. I feel rather relieved since I don’t sleep well when it feels as if the house is going to lift off the foundations. We’ve had cyclonic bursts of wind hammering the sides of the house along with constant, heavy rain — then it all swirls and hits the exact opposite side of the building. Rain alternates with hail. The temperatures plunge and snow falls then melts. Most unsettling…

The mood of the weather is rather a match to the mood of the world right now — but I choose not to focus on that.

The house has been on the market for two weeks — and now we wait. Oddly, since I am not always known for saintly levels of patience, I am feeling quite calm and purposeful.

Really looking forward to what will be coming in the post in the next few days. I’ve waited and waited until the time was right and the PRODUCT was right size-wise. I no longer enjoy huge honking camera bodies with humongous lenses dangling off the front. They make my wrists and shoulders ache and they’re a pain to worry about because they’re so expensive to replace if damaged or stolen. And with the ever-smaller equipment nowadays, it seems like the right time to downsize before we leave here.

On Sunday I bought a GoPro Hero 4 Session at a 20% off sale. Then I got accessories like hand grips, telescoping mono-pod, foam-cube protectors and the like, and a bike handlebar mount for Mark to try it out. And since this toy-sized video camera is so tiny, it will fit into a purse. It is seriously teeny-tiny — and we noticed that the Tour de France riders were all using them during the last few weeks.

GoProHero4Session

I’m ready to start making videos in addition to doing still photography and my agencies in London and New York have asked if I plan to add that sort of additional artwork to my portfolio since it now sells so well. Even wee burst videos of 2-ish minutes at 8 megapixel clarity seem to do well!

Happy that I will get ANOTHER my-brain-will-never-get-old-and-fuddly learning curve with a new editing program (ask me again how I feel about that statement in a week!) to master.

And other than the %^&*£@! flu that we’ve both picked up from all of the %^&*£@! sick people in Ballarat — life is good!

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©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.