28 February, 2011

Day 6: Safari in the suburbs

The House at Porter Street was pretty quiet today.  It was probably our first dose of normalcy since we moved in.  

With only one appointment set for lunchtime (with Michael Klim the blind man who was coming to measure) and no plumbers available until Wednesday, Milo and I decided to take off and explore some unfamiliar neighbouring hoods.  The idea was to avoid consulting the "tell you where to go computer" or the "book map", so true to form we soon became hopelessly and deliciously lost amongst the trees and the giant electricity towers.

Milo maintained an intoxicating, alternating monologue and Q&A about venus fly traps, farms and outbuildings and his new obsession, jet-packs while we traversed the paths unknown.  It was very special.

The afternoon was spent, in the main, researching swimming pool maintenance.  I had no idea.  Now, at least, I have a clue about the scope of what I don't know.  The mountainous learning curve continues.

27 February, 2011

Day 5: Houston, we have a problem.

When Man Foxtel was here the other day, he commented on a touch of damp under the house, as he pointed to a pair of muddy knees  attached by thigh to his torso.  He also said that in the vast caverns beneath, tucked in every corner, nook and recess there are vast volumes of firewood stashed.

Aside from the wood, I knew immediately the truth of his observation, because it aligned perfectly with the damp smell along the corridor and in Dad's room that I have actively been trying to ignore.

But today, as the summer rains continued to fall, I found the garage was also full of water, resulting in the joyous task of unpacking wet, archived boxes, and repacking contents in a different location.


So now we have to get a plumber in.  Bloody flup.

26 February, 2011

Day 4: What did you do today?

While Poppy

and Bongo

and Bongo's tail

got acquainted with the garden, there was a bustle of activity in and around the House at Porter Street.

Before I took my first waking breath, I'd put together an enormous CD tower for Dad's study - which has now morphed into a music room.

Then after a cup of tea I spent a generous couple of hours on the phone with the internet people resolving email issues on the four computers that inhabit the house.

Communications restored, I did battle with the Tardis in the hallway outside the laundry, finding homes and making space for the various humdrum items contained therein.  VERY satisfying collapsing that box, I tell ya.

Famished by this stage and unfamiliar with the nuances of Mum's microwave, I inadvertently nuked the bejesus out of last night's leftovers, leaving myself with rubber and  mush for lunch.

And then, while Dad took Milo out to the shops, I maniacally began (and almost completed) the task of transferring a very patient four year old's life from cardboard box to laminated plywood Ikea shelf and also changed the water in the fish bowl - so much easier, I must say, with a big sink and bench to work at.

"Nice view out the front, but out the back, all you can see is a brick wall..."

I can guarantee the room will never be this tidy again, and must fess up to their being a pile more on the desk that I chose to crop out of the images.  But all in all, I'm happy with today.  It was good.  

Milo is happy too.

No, truly, he is.

25 February, 2011

Day 3: In which Friday is no different to any other day.

As Mum disappeared up the stairs, her parting words were to HAVE A REST.  Needless to say, and not for the first time, I've completely ignored the directive and been busy and productive while all is still and silent in the House at Porter Street.

I'm enjoying sitting in my room, on the bed, enjoying the scene to my left, banal and empty as it is,

and ignoring the display on my right

I've just heard that the builder is going to be starting on Monday:  this is great news, not the least of which because he'll be installing my chunky floating shelves in the nook currently being occupied by the cat cages.  I'm envisaging something like this:

Peter asked me on the phone how thick I want them to be.  I said chunky.  I guess that means somewhere around 40mm.  I hope they won't look stupid.

He will also be making the pool safe, by installing the glass fence (amongst other things). 

And talking about the pool.  Here's the progress from today when the Man threw a whole bucket of chlorine and some hydrochloric acid into the pool and told us the salt chlorinator needs to be replaced.




Needless to say there won't be any swimming for a few days...

The weekend ahead is slated for organising Milo's bedroom which currently resembles beginners' Tetris:  boxes on boxes balancing precariously. Probably best to fix that, before he realises it might be fun to climb.

Day 2.

Tomorrow we hand back the keys for Riverside and that chapter will finally be closed, wholly and completely without an ounce of sadness, sentimentality or regret.  

Apart for the inherent issues borne from a house with no drawers, I have developed a violent and increasing antipathy for the agent:  Uriah Heap.  His voice, presence and vibrations invoke intense negativity and scorn.  Such an unadulterated pleasure to never deal with him again.

Joy to the world.

***technical interruption due to exhaustion - resuming writing on Day 3***

What doesn't inspire quite the same level of joy is the pool which has suddenly and inexplicably turned:  from crystal blue to murky green.  Consequently the pool man is coming this morning to show us how to remedy.

Aside from lagoon, note absence of enormous cactus in the far corner
- it has been re-homed due to reluctance to encourage

near nude-bodies next to the extremely prickly foliage.

The new kitchen appliances are also being delivered, I have to go to the accountant, Milo has to go to kinder and Peter Smith, who's going to be doing our building works (except the kitchen) is due to phone with a start date.

A busy day.

The frenzy to unpack has stalled, but I'll tell you about that next time.

23 February, 2011

Day 1.

Utter aching exhaustion best describes the current state of every person and beast in the House at Porter Street.  And it is impossible to believe that it was only yesterday at 0930 when a team of commando movers swept through Riverside, clearing each room with the precision of a formula one pit crew and filled the truck in 60 frenetic minutes.  Even the truck's maximum speed of 80kph down the eastern was light speed.

On arrival at the House the guys emptied the truck, transferred Mum's considerable life in boxes from the garage into the upper, returned to Riverside for a half-load, zipped back, offloaded, shared a joke, emptied my wallet and zoomed away to another job, all before 3pm.

It was an extraordinary performance.  Impressive.  Noteworthy. Reasonably priced and highly recommendable.  Do yourself a favour and write this down. 

STEVE'S FURNITURE REMOVALS:  0 4 1 9   8 9 7   5 5 9

It was inevitable that once the storm was over, we were going to be left with something resembling, well, this:

And it was then, while we were all still standing jelly legged in the aftermath, Bongo and Poppy were released from their laundry prison cell to explore.

And this brings me to the best part and the worst part of the day.  The best part of the day was when Milo came home from his first full day at kinder, picked up by Papou, and I could hear him at the front door just moments before they entered, Milo saying "We're HOME at our NEW HOUSE and we're staying for EVER."

The worst part was when Poppy, who is forbidden from entering both the upper zones, and Dad's rooms, became overwhelmed from all the stress and uncertainty up in Mum's bedroom (is the only way I can explain it) and laid a dozen or so egg sized poos all over the freshly made bed.


Mum went berserk but I was obviously thrilled to be handed the perfect opportunity to see if the washing machine was hooked up properly.  Milo cried from all the shouting and Dad retreated into his study to play music.

So within a couple of hours we were right there.  Right here.  

The best of times.  The worst of times.  

We have landed.

22 February, 2011

Day 0. Let the games begin.

Can't talk. Too busy.
Let's catch up at the other end.
Have a good day.

20 February, 2011

The uninvited house guest

Madness today.  I've gone completely bonkers.  Two more sleeps and then the truck comes.  And to make things just that little bit more interesting, at the last minute, I've organised for an old friend to come round and help us with the ripping out of the cabinet in the dining room, and the desk thingumy in my bedroom.  He's also going to do some painting and help us get ready for Tuesday's big push.  

I'm thrilled to have the help, but now a little hysterical, as I was planning to have the whole of tomorrow to finish the packing here.

Instead, I've been turfing things into boxes like a mad person all afternoon.  And I think I'm there really.  The joy of a house with no storage, is that once the portable furniture is emptied (or in our case, gone) it's just a case of getting the stuff into boxes.  And we have plenty of boxes.

So it's all good.  And I'm going to take a breath and calm down.

I also ventured into the garage this afternoon to retrieve the cat cages for cleaning.  While brushing off the cobwebs on the balcony, I came across this little lady.

I don't think I've ever seen a redback before in real life, close up like.  They're very  very stocky.  And very very black.  I realise now that I've found a male one (smaller with no red back, but similar vibe) in Milo's bed in the last couple of months. Scary really, although I'm doing my level best not to breed a phobia in Milo about them.  He has already, unaided and unencouraged, developed an unnatural fear of flies.

I let this one go at the bottom of the garden after a stern talking to about not coming back into the house.  And now I'm even more glad we're leaving.

I feel like...

It's always such a treat to discover a new restaurant close to a new home.  Especially after an entire day packing packing packing, then loading up the car and offloading without so much as stopping for even a moment (except for the moment when I stopped to take the photograph).

The House at Porter Street is situated 500m from a shopping complex, which is incredibly handy when it comes to needing a supermarket, daytime sushi, Target, or the family optometrist, but for evening eats we needed to cast our net wider.  Three kilometres wider as it happens.  Japanese?  Indian?  Italian?  Nope.  Cantonese Tonight

The table was cramped, but the soup was hearty and the duck...ahhhh, a succulent sensation.

We will be back.

18 February, 2011

Turning tables

Inevitably when parties come together under a single roof there will be a period of forced learning and unwilling compromise, of tongues bitten and suppressed outrage, all for the sake of peace.  

And at other times there will be out and out warfare.  And that's where Mum and I are at.  Over.  A.  Table.

To me it's a battered old thing: 
worn, imperfect, solid, functional and full of character and potential.

To Mum it's an eyesore, a piece of junk 
definitely undesirable in the pristine kitchen zone (to be).

Our conflict is borne in fundamentals:

  • a difference of taste 
  • a generational divide 
  • a power struggle and
  • a line drawn definitively in the sand.

Who will win the battle?
Who will win the war?

With a fresh pair of eyes

I owe the man from Bedshed an apology.  

The key was an epiphany:  not screw 1, but screw I.  And then it all fell into place.

And I managed the assembly not only with Milo's presence, but also with his assistance.

As the mattress and bedding remain at Riverside the frame will remain charmless and naked for four more nights.

Please note: a whole post in my room, and I've not mentioned the floor.

Who killed Laura Palmer?

The corpse dumped behind one of our many banks of evergreens :
unceremoniously abandoned and hopefully once deposited in the skip, 
soon to be forgotten.  Good riddance.

By the way, it's the vertical blinds, not the boss painter.

The shifting sands

Life at the moment is all about adaptation.  The plan today was to pack this morning until 11 when Milo was to go to kinder, and then head off with a carload to The House at Porter Street.  I am all expectation that the whole place is going to smell fresh and deodorised (and significantly better) now the expanses of carpet have been steam cleaned.  

While enjoying the altered olfactory experience, I was also intending to put screw J into hole B and erect my new bed - delivered on Wednesday while screen door man, Peter, was talking my ear off about the benefits of galvanised steel mesh versus polyethylene.

Milo, however, has thrown a cat amongst the pigeons, by waking with high spirits, but "a sore swallow" and elevated temperature.  So now a rethink is in order.  I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get the bed happening if Milo is there "helping".

The man at Bedshed said if I can put together Ikea, there will have no problems with the bed.  But I took one look at the instruction while unpacking the THREE flatpack boxes on Wednesday evening and knew immediately the man was (and possibly remains) a lying swine.  

The process is going to require complete silence and the apex of concentration.  Possibly the support of an extra pair of hands but absolutely no other sensory input.

Is this going to be possible with a four year old present?  Certainly not.  But therein lies the unexpected challenge of the day.

Mental note:  Enjoy the process.

17 February, 2011

Counting the sleeps on one hand

Apart from that dream where I was standing in Dad's study for two hours packing his substantial vinyl record collection into boxes, and the forty minute hallucination when I was emptying his desk and dragging it out the front door for the eBay purchaser to collect, I've spent the whole day today on my bed with my eyes closed, having not recognised my migraine in time to take the magic tablet.

So my planned day of quiet productivity while the carpets at the House at Porter Street were steam cleaned ended up as something of a bust.

Five more sleeps.

16 February, 2011

Regrets, I've had a few

In 2001 I decided to apply for Survivor.  I thought it would be good for me to step outside my comfort zone, to challenge myself bla bla bla, not to mention a handy boon to come home with a million smackers (and a million US in 2001 went a lot further than it does today).

Of course, the idiocy of the plan was apparent to every single person I told, so pilloried and mocked, with confidence shattered, I let the idea go - peuff - never to be thought of again.  

That is until today.

I was doing battle with a giant woollen rug at the time.  Task, to get it from one end of the house, to the furthermost, uppermost corner.  And I realised as I sweated and heaved and struggled and slipped back down the stairs and strategised and cajoled and simply refused to bloody well give up, that this was exactly what Survivor would've been like:  Urban Domestic Survivor, that is.  Sadly sans Jeff Probst.

And what's more, as I channelled my inner dung beetle, and bundled that sucker up the stairs, I realised that all those nay sayers were bloody well wrong.  And if I had've gone on Survivor, I probably would've won.

15 February, 2011

I'm dreaming of a white kitchen...

White - Blue
White - Blue - Dark Grey
White - Blue - Black
White - Blue

We've now leaning towards the all white kitchen.  We're imbuing the house with all different textures of white, to complement the existing timber, and glossy white cupboards, white benches and white glass tiles for the splashback now seem to make more sense than anything.  (Please universe, don't talk me out of the glass tiles.)

The main reason for ditching the blue, and the dark benchtops is the kitchen floor.  The immovable kitchen floor.  We've considered removing and replacing it (too costly) and ignoring it (too mustard) but really, the only way to go is incorporating and embracing it.  Visitors keep saying its neutral, not mustard, so maybe if I called it "sandy", it'd help.

Anyway, the all white kitchen is our way of working WITH the floor rather than against it.  After all, the main issue with the space isn't with the floor.  It's the symphony of brown and beige that the existing structure embodies.  

And it'll be ok because we LOVE the white. 

Mummy, how do you build a wishing well?

Mid century favourite.  Ikea.  White brick and
the kitchen / family room floor.

This chair, a recliner, belonged to my grandparents.  It's part of a set.  There's another just like it, and a matching two seater.  The ensemble is part of a greater acquisition, made possible when my grandparents (in their early 90s) entered a nursing home together last year.

Eleni and Taki in the early '50s

Eleni and Taki, started their life together in Benghazi, Libya in the early 1950s after they left Egypt during the period of social reform under Nasser.  They eventually came to Australia and settled in North Balwyn, just two streets away from where I now reside in Riverside (the house with no drawers).

Eleni and Taki at Aquila Street, North Balwyn in the late 1960s

After 30 years in North Balwyn, Eleni and Taki relocated to the Gold Coast where they stayed for another 30 years, until they both passed away last year, within just 11 days of one another.

Much of the furniture we acquired comes from the '50s and their first and last homes together.  So you can understand that we are heavily invested in making it fabulous for its next life in the House at Porter Street, and remembering Eleni and Taki whenever bottom hits cushion.

Eleni and Taki circa 2006

14 February, 2011

Calm blue oceans II

More upholstery fabric - this time from Mokum

So we hijacked the painter this morning.  He arrived a little late and the tension was palpable.

With Dad for moral support, I showed the painter around the scene, pointing high and low every couple of steps.  There were audible gasps (not from us).  And when the end of the tour finally came, we were met with silence and after a moment, an enormous sigh.  

And then a promise it would all be fixed.

And by 6pm, as the father and son rinsed off their brushes, it was, in the main, all fixed.  And best of all the vibe of optimism in the house was restored.

The paint job now is by no means perfect, but it's certainly one hundred times better than what we were left with at end of day of Friday.  My feature doors are vastly improved but remain with hints of streak and drip, despite being sanded and then rolled.  Go figure.

Anyway, it's just nine days until the big move.  We kept ourselves busy by having Cozy Kitchens come to quote and getting all excited by the idea by fusion: 
glass spashbacks + tiles = glass tiles.  Sparkly, twinkly beautiful.

We also went to Ikea to look at their kitchens and bought more flatpack:  a four by four Expedit for the family room:
I'm undertaking a minor Ikea hack, too, by putting the unit on casters, even though the instructions explicitly state it's not a good idea.  I figure I can get away with it since I'm not going to be rolling the thing around, I just want the bottom shelf off the floor so it doesn't get as dusty and I can clean underneath.

We also went to Dulux and bought more gloss paint for the timber trims, 

We had the very lovely Danny from Melbourne Pet Doors come and perform a double cat-flap installation.  It's logistically difficult to have a functioning pet door in a security door and an adjacent timber door, don't you know.  But he did it like a genius.  And now a small great dane could make its way in and out of the house without any humans having to rouse themselves to help.

I am also incredibly proud to say that I erected the Expedit without even a hint of Ikea rage.  A first.  Not even when the stupid last screw just wouldn't go in did I lose my nut.  Extraordinary.

I think it helped that Dad had Milo at Riverside, so I was labouring without the accompaniment of incessant chatter.  Now however, as I sit in my room, I am overcome by the overpowering fumes of deodorant.  This has all the hallmarks of Milo tampering with Mummy's stuff.  And this is price I pay for a few hours of separation.

13 February, 2011

Calm blue oceans

Calm blue oceans.  Calm blue oceans.

Time for a well deserved holiday in the land of upholstery fabrics, looking for something wonderful and blue for my grandparents' arm chairs and two seater.

All these are by Warwick. 

Bull twang.

I think I was in grade five when harp lessons first appeared on the extra curricula activities list at St Catherines School. A glamorous pursuit inspiring images of  serene, long-haired ladies with heads tilted, enchanting audiences of distinguished admirers.  Not to mention angels.  I thought about bringing a little bit of that into my own realm:  growing my hair, hanging around in drawing rooms, wearing long frocks and corsets or halos, you know.  I even ventured a plink or two on the school instrument with the colour coded strings.  

I don't know what ultimately put me off.  It might've been the size of the thing, and how distinctly encumbering it would be. (I had an unhappy history with the cello the year before).  

Anyway, I ultimately took up the far more compact and sensible flute, and resolved that I would never harp.  That said, far be it from me to do so now.  I'll just let these images say it all.

My inspired feature doors are a disaster.
The paint has been blamed.  I don't think so.
Ah yes, and the paint smothered itself all over the fittings too.
I know its ugly, but this doorknob hasn't actually been put back on properly either.
The orange door, also streaky.
Drips I could've done myself.
Didn't need to pay a painting hack to do it for me.
An example of the finish around the light switches.
The blue painter's tape wasn't enough of a beacon to remind the painters
that this bit of wall needs more than a two minute lick by Milo.
The freshly painted shelves for the bookcase.
Stacked up before they were dry and the paint peeling off anyway.
Since it was the wrong paint, I guess it's doing me a favour.
And not to be left out, the fixed shelf on the bookcase erupted
with a blemish BANG! in the middle.
No need to paint along the edge of the steps, I mean
you'd only notice it IF YOU LOOKED.

Avert your gaze.  An allegedly completed brick wall.
This is the panel as you go up the stairs.
Even in low light, the strip of virgin plaster is visible.
Are you sure you didn't ask for a pinstrip wall, Ma?
Shabby chic, or just shabby?

Mental note: ladder applied with force to newly painted wall
does not result in happy client.
If he tries to tell me again that his brush wouldn't fit into the gaps,
I'm going to demonstrate just where a brush can fit.
Why would a person want the shelf painted?
When in doubt, claim to finish, walk out and hope no-one notices.
Blurring the lines between plaster and timber.
Dazzled by my own image, I didn't notice the shoddy cutting
around the giant mirror.
Oh, yes i did.
 Note: I have been restrained including only 18 examples.