30 April, 2011

Before and After: Bedroom Chandelier

More cause for celebration.  The chandelier in my bedroom is GORN!



Even though my spanking orb emerged from the box with a dent, a dodgy silver cap on top to stop bugs falling in, and the most stupid design in all of Christendom as far as changing blown bulbs is concerned, it remains such a vast improvement that I'm not even going to mention the down-sides.

And the main thing now is that it doesn't collapse when the humid weather comes next summer.

The Beige Cloud is dispersing. Part 3. A blank canvas for a weekend.

Leigh Check Measure, came just now and carted off the last vestige of beige.  Eff the Royal wedding!  Now's the time for a knees up and cracking of the Moet.  You see, I was perfectly correct in my thinking that the moment all that buff was banished from our environs, the House at Porter Street would really truly and completely feel like OUR HOUSE and not a remnant of the previous incumbents.  It's all so much brighter and lighter and cleaner and nicer.  It's impossible not to look upon the early part of next week, new kitchen albeit sans benchtops, with delicious anticipation and excitement.

A collective noun of tradies came through yesterday:

The aforementioned Leigh, agent of Freedom Kitchens, with crowbar and barrow to continue the dismantling of the previous day.

Nick Plumber, worth his weight in gold, identified a potentially lethal hazard of which we were wholly oblivious.  The hot water service, nestling near the verandah was so choking with ivy and jasmine that the vents were totally obscured.  It was at risk of exploding.  Or, as the carbon monoxide was trapped, creating some sort of lethal circumstance if the window was open and the wind blowing the wrong way.  Such badness.  And we were clueless.  A recipe for tragedy.  So happy for Nick.  He DID growl though.  

A sparky who relocated and installed new powerpoints was welcome, but not so memorable as the others.  His name was not committed to memory.

Peter Builder successfully covered my entire bedroom (yet again) with a thick film of dust under the guise of sanding my shelves and saved our bacon by obtaining and fitting vast pieces of plasterboard to the kitchen walls where there should've been some but wasn't.

And finally Walter Gardener to whom we are thinking of giving the big FO.  He is very pricey, charging $50 an hour, and a large portion of each of those hours seems to be spent by us convincing him to undertake the things we want him to do.  Such resistance is not welcome when it's on our clock and when we already have a clear idea of what we want to achieve, and he just doesn't get it...

However, yesterday, he and his sidekick (therefore $100 per hour) did manage to get the lawns mowed, further poison the ivy and move the previously mentioned jasmine away from the hot water thingo.  

Obviously yesterday was an expensive day.  However I was too excited by the Royal Wedding to blog about it.  I was too tired from the rigours of cleaning a building site, dusting my room from ceiling to floor and endless mopping, to share my incisive observations about living in a house with no kitchen.  And as I eventually entered the Land of Nod, too pleased by my Blues' victory over the Swans (in Sydney, finally) to do anything but go to sleep happy.

[Strike up the chorus.]

29 April, 2011

The Beige Cloud is dispersing. Part 2. A story in pictures and a whole lot of dust.

The Beige Cloud is dispersing. Part 1

**Warning: Reality TV Spoiler Alert

So you know that old chestnut "You don't know what you've got until it's gone"?  Well. Never a truer adage has been spoken, particularly regarding the original kitchen in the House at Porter Street.

Finally finally FINALLY the dirty, filthy, nasty mess has been stood down (mirroring the fate of Garry Busey on last night's Celebrity Apprentice) in favour of the glossy mountain of blue-protective-filmed whiteness which is currently occupying the adjoining family room.

And what we didn't know until it was gone was that the original kitchen was installed straight over the frame, with no plaster board behind.  Not a conventional construction practice, but then again the thinking behind the building of the House at Porter Street could never be considered for even a moment to be standard or even logical.

This wee oversight was uncovered yesterday, and thankfully as Peter Builder is due back today, he's able to bring and fit some sheets of plasterboard so the construction of the new kitchen can commence on schedule on Monday.

The main thing now will be to ensure there are plenty of offsite things to do this weekend because living with 4.5 year old Milo in this state of flux is not very restful.

28 April, 2011

And lo! There was a BBQ.

As I sit here today, our kitchen is undergoing deconstruction.  

It is a happy day.

However two days ago, as the sun shone and we were caressed by a gentle breeze, Dad and I embarked on the decanting and assembly of the BBQs Galore "Cordon Bleu" four burner cooker (with side burner).  

That, disappointingly, was not a happy day.

I can't however, say that I hadn't been warned.*  I was advised it could take eight hours.  Seriously?  For flat pack?  


I just wasn't prepared for 

  • the critically bad design: for example, the first step required bolting a stupidly heavy "counter weight" to a flimsy piece of metal, which of course caused the metal to warp, which of course meant that nothing lined up with anything in any of the subsequent 800 steps.  More Struggle Street than Les Twentymen.
  • the stupidity of the three books of instructions:  we became accustomed to the diagrams in no way representing the steps being described, but found it difficult to reconcile omissions, such as excluding the seemingly crucial step involving the installation of the burners.
  • and the shabby, SHABBY manufacture:  it took us nearly 45 minutes to fit the "screw in" wheels, since the thread was terminally flawed (straight out of the box) and ultimately the decision had to be made to sacrifice use of Dad's left arm in perpetuity in order to finish the task.

But apart from all that, six hours, piece of cake.

*Thanks Al.

19 April, 2011

Bearing fruit.

There was activity on the outer of the House at Porter Street today.  Max Gutters and Shane Fixit were working on the upper, easing the guttering back onto the house and  assessing the extent of the rest of it.  (Outcome surprisingly not bad - phew!)

Mum, however, was in the garden, getting rid of cobwebs, trimming trees, pulling weeds and revealing treasures...

I have mentioned before my lack of horticultural prowess and knowledge and it is quite feasible that our enthusiasm and excitement at spotting this impressive fruit (on a particularly scrawny plant) over-rode the thought that I should check with the www on how you know if a pom is ripe or overripe, or something.

My only previous encounters with pomegranates has been in Athens, where Evie picks them from the orchard in their yard, halves them, and then belts the heck out of the outside to empty the seeds into a bowl.  I seem to remember a knocking on wood sound. But I might be thinking of clip clopping coconut shells in junior school.

So we picked.  We photographed.  We went inside.  We cut it open. We tasted.  The seeds had little hard bits inside.  (I don't remember that from Greece.) And the outside casing was soft, and made no satisfying "tok" when bashed with the handle of my knife.

It was all a little disappointing, truth be known.

Perhaps I prematurely picked.  Or maybe it was over ripe.  Anyone got a clue?

18 April, 2011

Dedicated to the noble inventors of household appliances.

At Riverside, the house with no drawers, our former residence, I used to spend an inordinate amount of time at the kitchen sink (apologies if I've gone on about this before).  Because of the lack of bench space, and the single sink, it was necessary to wash dishes at the drop of a hat.  And there were more hats being dropped there, than graduation day of the Upper Sixth.  

Truly.  I must've spent at least two hours a day, rubber gloved, armed with sponge, bubbles, a forced spirit of cheer and Wham! 

And that was when there were just three of us.

But now, at the House at Porter Street, equipped with dishwasher as we are, there is FREEDOM.  The unit is undeniably beige.  It is also unarguably externally decrepit.  But inside it SPARKLES.  And functionally it is my very best friend.

We entertained yesterday.  There were 11 of us.  There was an abundance of food, a river of drink, and nothing other than the intense intent to feast and chat and catch up.  Over the course of around five hours we made use of every plate, glass and utensil in the house.  And do you know how we managed?  The dishwasher, that's how. Loading and emptying. Three times loading and emptying.  And not a beat skipped throughout.  

At the end of the day, as the sun went down and we closed the door on old friends, made better friends by an afternoon of shared soul rubbing, I knew for sure that although I have declared at certain times in my life that I don't mind washing dishes by hand, I would much rather have a machine to do it, than not.

Beautiful beautiful roses and daisies: the aftermath of a lovely day.
(The fridge full of leftovers is not depicted.)
Thank you Al and Helen, Lauren and Lachie for visiting us all the way from the other side.  And V, G, C and Pea, I think you may've crossed the river.  I love you all. 

16 April, 2011

Hanging about. The Sequel

While I was tidying today, I unwrapped a significant artwork:  Milo's first painting.  

It needed to go up and the place for it was a no-brainer.  So I whipped out the hammer drill and behold...

The first picture is hung.



Milo's painting is on the left.  The painting to the right of
the clock is a watercolour study by Ma of which I am
particularly fond.

This probably isn't the final configuration, of course, but at least we're on our way.  And the hanging hoodoo is banished.

And for sake of demonstrating, this is where my workspace started, and where its going.



I've thrown a few things on the shelves without
a clue, a plan, or indeed, a roadmap. 

Stay tuned for the next evolutionary phase, Charles Darwin.

15 April, 2011

Hanging about.

Conversation in head, me to me:  In the morning I'm going to hang Hugo Haas above my bed.  

Hugo Haas is one of my very precious Astrid Kirchherr 
Beatle photos - the only one with all five original 
members -  bought from the Silver K Gallery in mid 
2002 when I was  in recovery from spinal surgery and
off my tree on pain pills.

And the moment the declaration was out, a whole anxious back peddling vibe followed, dictating that I wait.  

Oh my goodness.

I'm actually nervous about hanging pictures on my walls.


After all these years of renting, and banging nails in others' walls with gay abandon, I am finally in my own house, paying my own mortgage, with my own walls to do with as I will... ...and I am set upon with hangers' block. 

I'm going to have to sit with it, though.  I don't have a proper vision for my room, and shelves and walls still need to be sanded and painted before I can do anything anyway.  So I'll suppress my urge to get drilling and focus instead on the menu for Sunday lunch.

Not this weekend, anyway...

There's going to be some entertaining going on here at the House at Porter Street on Sunday.  Beloved school friends - I think the last time we were all in a room together was for our ten year school reunion, and that was more than 15 years ago - are coming over with their partners and spring-offs for a barbeque and catch up.

Except.  The barbie is flat-packed and I have it on good advice, there's a possibility that putting the thing together could potentially take somewhere in the vicinity of eight hours.  Eight hours!  And I'm definitely not in the mood.

Not with a funeral to attend today; cooking, shopping, tidying, chatting with Kimbles and moving boxes slated for tomorrow; and then the lunchtime funtime on Sunday.  No time for assembly of and profane utterings at inanimate objects and their conceptionators in the intervening ticks of the clock.

Instead a change of menu is in order.

No pity at all.

And in the great tradition of all procrastinators, I have put off for tomorrow [figuratively] what I could've done today [or tomorrow, literally]. 

14 April, 2011

A chair made for me.

In an attempt to kick myself out of the melancholic zone into which I've schlumphed, I'm journeying through the Unique Fabrics website for some inspiration.

And I found a chair.  A chair clearly made for me.

From Andrew Martin's "Beatles Book" Collection.

13 April, 2011

A whole lot of nuthin'

I know this is boring, so that's why I've not posted.  Waiting for it to pass.  

I don't even remember how long ago it started, but it seems like forever that a whole lot of not very much has been going on in the House at Porter Street.

And I have a headache that won't go away.

Milo has been an awfully sick little person with the wondrous trio of ear infection, pleurisy and croup.  Buoyed by antibiotics he's now feeling better, but it was ghastly when he was all floppy and wan.  Now he's just annoying and coughing.  Who would've thought this would be preferable to his more quiet state.

Since Sunday I've been flat with the passing on Sunday of a lady for whom I have dedicated time and brainspace for the past twelve months. She was a woman of iron will, but marshmallow heart; a force to be reckoned with, despite being largely confined to her bed.  She knew how to get the most out of people and always kept me on my toes.  And I will miss her.  

RIP Aunty Gai.

The only thing house wise that's happened is that Mum has painted the raw pine skirting board in my workspace and I've begun to think about setting it up.
But I need some cheap, light, robust uniform storage boxes for the open shelves.

Nothing of note has happened in my bedroom or anywhere else actually, except we shuffled some furniture around in the living room.  It's looking good.

But in all this nothing I have discovered:

  • the area of flooring is gargantuan and is enormously exhausting to vacuum, sweep and mop.  Welcome to the Big House, Soph.
  • the ducted heating throws up more dust than Miss Havisham's
  • I need to pay more attention when David Pool takes me through the process of emptying water out of the pond - which, with all this rain, keeps overflowing into the neighbours' property.  They haven't said anything, so I'm guessing the water hasn't penetrated their actual house - yet.
  • Milo's bedroom, though north facing, is horribly dark - so when Chris Sparks comes to install the new lights (after the kitchen goes in at the start of May) we need to add Milo's overhead to the list of things he has to do.
And that's the end of the story - for today, anyway.

08 April, 2011

Glad tidings.

Mum and I dropped Milo off at kinder this morning and decided to venture outside of our regularly and well trodden path to Bunnings and the eastern / south eastern suburbs and instead pointed our ample proboscises northwards. Our reward for so doing was to discover new shops.  And amongst these new shops we found our kitchen splashback solution.

It's not a sheet of glass - it was never going to be a sheet of glass.  

It's not shimmering glass tiles of any size or configuration.  Pursuing that option would be comparable, price-wise, with the big sheet of glass once you include installation.  

It's not even high gloss porcelain - which looked too matchy matchy with the glossy cupboards.  

Mum and I have warmly embraced the option of satin finished white tiles (with white grout).  10cm x 30cm in dimension.  They compliment the benchtops beautifully and are different enough in texture and finish to not complete with the cupboards.  They also present absolutely no competition with the floor tiles.  

And best of all, the tiles themselves cost $29.95 per square metre.  Bargain.  We'll be forking out less than $200 for materials, instead of $2000.  And you have to be happy with that.


Factors have been at play at the House at Porter Street, impacting on progress toward visualising the dream.  The most positive of these factors has been designing a few logos and business cards for folk.  It is good to have the work.  

We also had two adult visitors for a week and I'm pleased to report that the floorplan stood up well to the addition.  It would've been nice to have an extra downstairs bathroom, but hey,  wouldn't it always.

Visitors left on Wednesday afternoon, so yesterday we climbed tentatively back onto the activity horse.  I was overjoyed to inadvertently stumble on my Red Box of Adhesives as I was actually looking for a Box of Adornments in order to decorate Milo's Easter Bonnet.  Easter?  Yes, you heard right. The door on Term 1 closes today, and on Tuesday Milo was sent home from kinder with "Homework for Mummy":  turn a magnificent Milo creation into a stupendous hat for the Easter Parade to be held end of session today.

I never found the box I sought, but Yiayia came through with a couple of ribbons and we were away...

As long as he marches without moving his head, it will stay on.  Will have to make sure the teachers strap it on good and tight.  

Aunty Mad made me an Easter bonnet when I was in Grade 3, constructed from a Chinese food takeaway container, a cake tray, some red cellophane and a bit of silver belt.  It was crap and we both knew it.  But neither of us said anything because she did her best.

Mum also finished painting my workspace shelves yesterday.  Of course they're dry but I'm probably going to have to wait until Sunday to start setting up the space because Ma's paranoid about my putting stuff on the shelves before the paint has cured (!).

We went to Beaumont Tiles to look at tiles for kitchen splashback and flooring solutions for kitchen and my bedroom.  Mum decided I had to redo my whole floor because of the mess under the shelves where the desk was removed.  The quote we got for the room (5.25m x 4.3m) was around $1100 for floating laminated floor, underlay and labour.  Let me make this quite plain.  

JUST NOW, I DO NOT WANT, NOR DO I HAVE THE READIES, TO SPEND MORE THAN A K ON THE FLOOR. (I'd rather replace the peach vinyl blind, truth be told, but that's not happening either.)

We also might not be able to extend our budget to glass tiles for the kitchen splashback, but before we can settle, Mum and I have to come to some sort of agreement about what we like.  Currently we are at odds.  I find Mum's aesthetic rigid, somewhat stifled and restrictive and yesterday told her so.  She took the news remarkably well.


The gutter outside Mum's upper has had ENOUGH of our house and decided to leave.

So Max Gutters will be attending next week to remedy with Shane Fixit, who will also undertake some other maintenance, like trying to resolve the mystery of the cold water tap for biggest bath which has suddenly and spontaneously stopped working - and it isn't the washer.)


Mum found a light over the kitchen sink yesterday.  Very handy.

04 April, 2011

Another day in paradise.

Another day, another jaunt to Ikea.  This time the guise was to introduce my favourite lifestyle wonderland to my favourite NZ cousins.

It was a match made in heaven.

I though I was going to escape with the modest purchase of a 100 pack of paper napkins and a jolly romp.  Oh, the folly.

As we drove down the exit ramp the car was laden with the human cargo with which it arrived, the paper napkins (Fantastisk), and then in addition:

- the Fantastisk napkin holder

 - the NEW Obdy picture frame for Milo's Ostrich masterpiece
= sensational

- the Bygel rail for my workspace - still haven't worked out what to do with the Asker, but inside the cupboard under the stairs (which is part of my workspace is looking like the place, just now.

- Bygel hooks

Tomorrow morning, instead of having the long awaited full day at kinder for Milo (the last for the term) I am taking Milo with me to tour the school I hope to send him to next year.  This is very exciting and important.  So I'm not going to be allowed to even THINK of picking up my drill and beginning installation of rails and hooks and book holding spice racks until AFTER I've dropped Milo off in the middle of the day.

Tomorrow's mantra, therefore, is to BE IN THE MOMENT.

03 April, 2011

Don't be startled, but I started unpacking.

Brass taper candle holder from Aunty Mad
Chinese guard statue, standing on a  piece
of marble I found by the roadside in East
St Kilda in 2004, brandishing silver treasures
sent by our dear Michele from Athens
and a brass elephant massager from Gg

The strategy was distract myself from cough and sore ear by tackling L2 (aka Box of Precious Things).  All the contents of L2 came from within my chinoiserie glass cabinet and were destined to be returned to its safe (for that read "locked") confines once the farnarkling (for that read "painting and sanding") in the region was signed off by Ma.  

I am left in her hands after my physical limitations were tested during the painting frenzy of recent times, and I have pretty much been barred from any of it.  So I was somewhat tentative when I posed the question this morning.  

Happy days, though.  Maria (our houseguest and cousin from Wellington, NZ) occupied Milo.  Mum phaphed about in the upper.  And I had enormous larks over crowding the cabinet with my many and varied collection of things.

Two of the three shelves

Pretty blue glass bottles
A porcelain  teddy from Ma
Spode coffee cup and saucer from Lainie
Enamel box
Wendy's Grandfather's tiny ashtray
Hand sewn bunny from Ma 

Photo of Mousie and her ashes in a cocktail shaker protected
by a tiny little fairy given to me by V after I was a bridesmaid
at her wedding about one hundred years ago
A statuette of Athena
Enamel brooch and a sweet little soldier pin from my granny
A teaspoon from Cairo
An ivory and mother-of -pearl inlaid box from Jorj, who could
bear to have it in her house
A tiny silver box containing extracted teeth (human)
A pewter hipflask and a silver bookmark from Milo's godparents
in the years prior to Milo's arrival in the cabbage patch
And so buoyed was I by the task, I also unpacked a few boxes of books and trinkets and put them on the newly painted lounge bookcase.  Behold...

The place is coming to life.  And this is good.

02 April, 2011

I don't know what we did.  I don't know what went wrong.  But the House at Porter Street has been riddled with illness for the past week.  Conscious of not wanting to go into too much detail, let me put this incredibly brief tale of pestilence to rest with the word picture summoned by the expression "nose to tail gastronomy", but without the gastronomy.

I live in hope that we will all be well soon and the gripping drama of our journey can continue...

PS  Friday was busy:  Walter Garden came and was very grumpy.  He cut the grass, poisoned the ivy and trimmed a little citrus.  Frank Ducts cleaned our ducts (funny) and we were delighted to be freed from the bonds and weight of our blankets.  Not so great to realise, as the house temperature peaked at 28 degrees celsius, that the thermostat doesn't work.  Peter Builder showed up to replace some skirt he'd chopped off.  And finally David Pool replaced a broken light in the pond.  Exhausted after watching them do all that.