31 May, 2011

Yeah yeah yeah.

I ordered the stools for the kitchen from Matt Blatt's online store.  And while I was there I found my birthday present to me.

It's hard to deny that Ringo's looking a little bilious.  But then that's Ringo...

Happy birthday to me.

PS  My bedroom shelves were finally finished on Sunday too.  My Beatles babushkas have been photographed on their glossy whiteness.  

29 May, 2011

The big reveal: Kitchen Edition

[and I tell you, this picture is very very forgiving]


An enormous standing ovation for the two fellas who've worked slavishly for the past four days to deliver us a complete and flawless kitchen.  Not to mention immersing themselves wholly and completely in the surreal experience, that is the non-stop chatter of Milo, for the duration.  

Props to Sam the tiler, plasterer and cornice man.  And snaps to John the painter who not only did an incredible job, but offered to start the job on Saturday, and finish it on Sunday (no weekend penalty rates) just because.

We were so horribly demoralised by the experience with the painters from hell at the beginning of this journey.  So we can be nothing short of elated as we sit back and gaze and gaze and gaze at what's been achieved at the close of this chapter.


27 May, 2011

We have running water in the kitchen

- and not down the walls!

With the hard work and diligence of Nick Plumber, Shane Sparks and Sam Tiles and Plaster, the kitchen has come along beautifully.  Appliances in and functioning.  Floors finished, walls tiles and ceilings corniced, all ready for paint.  

And you know the days, weeks, months of agonising about the floor?  Well you're not going to believe how it was resolved.  Thanks to our open fire love, and the gradual emptying of the wooded underhouse hell, I managed to locate, on the morning Sam started, jammed in a corner, under a box of pool tiles, various kitchen wall tiles and paving stones, a glimmer of hope in the shape of a broken shard of kitchen floor tile. This in turn spurred me deeper, past old clothes, chicken wire, foil insulation, piled up slate, kindling and a vital colony of daddy long legs to an entire box of unsullied floor tiles.

Such a victory.  Such great timing.  

So the floor has been finished with matching tiles.  There is no patchwork.  There is no slate (the stuff we bought was too thick, anyway).  It's all matchy matchy in the best possible way.  And its remarkable that the tiles that've been down since the house was built haven't faded or aged in any meaningful way since they were put down.  Ugly then.  Ugly now.  But at least consistently ugly across the board.

Tomorrow, David (or is it John) Paint will start undercoating the bulkheads and by early next week 

So, too will be the shelves in my room - which is almost incomprehensible.

It's hard to understand, when you think about the adversity that some people have to live with (I'm thinking about carting fresh water, no food, bugs, etc) that surviving in a house with no kitchen would be such a trial.  But my word!  For this family of anti-campers, the last twenty-something days have certainly been no picnic.

I don't want to whinge (actually I do, but I won't) but instead I will observe.  

The experience of living in the House at Porter Street, when there was no kitchen, was akin to the experience of living at Riverside, the house with no drawers, but worse.  It's all piles and shuffling. And that is, every, EVERY time you need something.  No task is sufficient in itself.  Everything requires the dance around the boxes, the pondering of where things might be, the consideration of where things may reasonably and cleanly be undertaken and whether on earth it's worthwhile doing after all.

There is no room in this environment for autopilot.  Tiring.

And now, thank heavens, the end is in sight.

Stay tuned for the big reveal...coming soon.

24 May, 2011

Pipe Dream status: reinstated.

I've got a migraine so can't wax lyrical.  Am just here to say that the stone is in.  Suddenly, unexpectedly, magically, yesterday morning.  

Plumber, electrician today.

Tiler, plasterer tomorrow.

Painter tbc.

Looking good, Randolph.  Looking good, Mortimer.

Photos to come.

22 May, 2011

I used a cross-stitch project I undertook a decade ago as an analogy to explain my preferred approach to overhauling the garden.

In My Life - the Needlework. 
Started 2001.  Completed 2003

That is, to start with an idea, at the bottom, and work my way along, all the while conceiving, refining, linking and evolving.

The benefit of gardening over this piece, however, is that unless my poison fingers are more potent than my green thumbs, the garden is dynamic in its own right and therefore presents an ongoing challenge and delight.

My conversation was with Mum.  She is of a different school.  In her eyes, the plan and destination must be set in stone before we begin.  This should really be of no surprise:  she is not a person who flies happily by the seat of her pants.

It will be interesting to see how we move forward.  I'm anticipating a need to research and do diagrams.  

I'll begin by googling Australian Natives and a passionfruit vine for the side fence...

21 May, 2011


The People didn't ring, so the stone isn't in.  The flow on of the no show by "Architectural Stone" means our hopes of a functioning kitchen by end of day Monday is now a pipe dream.

To quote my dear, departed, aged aunt, in response, "Poo.  Bum.  Bugger.  Blast."

Mum and I ventured into the backyard early this arvie as the realisation dawned and summarily took out our disappointment on the wasp riddled lemon tree, which hadn't been pruned back hard enough on Thursday. 

Captured incidentally in a photo of my cat Bongo's posterior a few months ago, you can see the tree in all its leafy glory.  It's the bush behind that concrete pillar-thing at the top, centre of this frame.

When the tree people left on Thursday it was reduced to a very mini version of itself.

And today, with all the lumps cut out, we have shrunk him thusly

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.  Life's like that.  I'll feed it some Seasol and citrus food tomorrow and keep fingers crossed for a healthier tomorrow.

20 May, 2011

Kitchen Update : The Sequel Part 2

After the tree people left yesterday afternoon, as Mum and I enjoyed the sun streaming onto the patio...

(as opposed to "Before the tree people came, as Mum and I sat in the darkened kitchen resenting the dense, sun-blocking canopy of bay leaves outside, with its teeming community of spiders and insects...")

...and talked with renewed enthusiasm about the next steps, my thoughts, after 22 days without a kitchen, naturally fell once again upon the topic of Caesarstone and when our benchtops might be installed.

A couple of quick calls led me to Vince At-the-Factory who advised that there is a good chance they will be coming on Saturday morning.  Saturday morning!  That is, as I type, tomorrow.  Tomorrow!

Of course we have to wait for confirmation which will come today. 

I live in hope.

19 May, 2011

All it took was just one day.

With one figurative yet masterful stroke of the chainsaw, the last vestige of gloom from the previous inhabitants was purged from the House at Porter Street.  

Hip hip hooray.  Hip hip hooray.  You get the message.  

Props to the fellas from Out on a Limb (0419 882 740).  They were ace.

The only personages bemoaning the great expunging are relatively small and therefore voiceless:  the  league of snails inhabiting walls formerly clad in ivy blankets,

the flock of oversized mosquitoes displaced from the bay tree,  the hapless praying mantis who'd been minding his own business in a miscellaneous sap-leaking fruit tree,

and Poppy and Bongo who went to sleep inside when the heavy machinery started and woke five hours later to find the landscape somewhat altered:  

from this

to this

It's actually hard to conceive of just how oppressive all those conifers and the baytrees were, not to mention the oversized and unruly, overplanted everything else.  But now, actually from the instant that bank of conifers was gone, the garden has been opened up to a whole world of light and prettiness and movement and functionality.

It is up to us now to do what it takes to make that happen, one garden bed at a time...

18 May, 2011

Listing stuff on eBay

Spent the last hour making steps to rid ourselves of:

No room for this piece of imitation Chinoiserie, I'm afraid.

I do like this clock, but it doesn't go in the new kitchen
and i really don't see why we should keep any more remnants
from the previous owners than is absolutely necessary.

This hook arrangement is stupid, unwieldy and horrible and 
terribly reminiscent of the previous owners' aesthetic.

Glass doors from the dining room built it.
I wish I had a use for the glass...

No further words for this.

Can't get enough of this gilt edged goodness.  
Oh, wrong.  Apparently I can.

I don't even want to open the box to measure
the dimensions of this for the eBay description...

Watch this space in seven days...

Standing up kinder

Yesterday while I was assembling the third Billy bookcase of the four acquired at Ikea for my bedroom, Milo informed me that I'd blown out kinder.  If I was a user of the emoticon, I'd be inserting at this juncture an unsmiley face.

I'd been rostered on for two sessions at kinder this term, and it seems that yesterday was one of them.  Oops.

So, instead of staying at drop off and playing with the mini-people for a couple of hours, I shuffled off, with furrowed brow, head full of traffic jams, paediatricians, the kitchen table, eBay, cooking without kitchen and trying to decide whether to stop for coffee or go straight home and save the shekels. 

And now I think more about it, I was never going to keep that date, because if it hadn't been for my head full of crap, I'd've been rushing back home for the tree people...

I've got some explaining to do at Friday's drop off. 

Anyway, yesterday we managed to cram four Billys into my VW Polo, which in anyone's language is quite the achievement.  Also noteworthy is that I snapped the handle off my screwdriver, so vigorous was I in the assembly as I put together four Billys, and build a fire in five hours.  This also included pondering and reflecting time, watching "The Bold", having a big chat with Milo about what he did at kinder (see above) and feeding the cats.

Any day now I'll post photos of my wall of books, which even before it is dressed has had an incredibly transformative effect.

Also, please note when lighting a fire, do not use Ikea instructions as newspaper, they smoulder and smoke rather than lights properly.  Who knew?

17 May, 2011

Anticipating extention

The tree people are cleft in twain, their camp ravaged by pestilence.  We are rescheduled now for Thursday.

(But it's still Debs' birthday...)

16 May, 2011

Lots of things.

Tomorrow is 17 May, a greatly anticipated and important day.  Not only is it Debski's 50th (happy happy happy, dear Debsk) but it is also when we will welcome the second coming of Greg Tree, this time with companions two.  Armed with sharp wits and sharper implements the three will be transforming our choking environs into something unrecognisable.  A place with air and light.  A place with far fewer cyprus trees.  In short, they will be uncluttering our outdoors.  And this is good.

I meant to wander about today to photograph those doomed plants for posterity, however there were no spare moments in which to undertake the task.  

You see, we were buoyed by our stellar success in the fireplace stakes yesterday, so we purchased a $40 fire grate from an eBay "Buy it Now" seller in Croydon for our mini fireplace in the kitchen, and had to pop over and pick it up.  (Croydon has ENORMOUS, suburban blocks, don't you know.)

We visited Bunnings in Eltham in search of reasonably priced fireplace accessories for the kitchen hearth and I feel it is only right to warn anyone who may be tempted to go there, and let their child play on the enormous climbing frame thingumy (Milo got stuck at the top - of course he did) while they enjoy a coffee and a scroll.  DON'T DO IT.  The muck in a cup was to coffee what Charlie Sheen is to sensitivity and restraint.  And the bun.  Well, there are no words.

Fuelled by outrage and disappointment about our morning tea, and in readiness for the chaps tomorrow and their heavy machinery and their requirement to access our nether regions, Mum and I then conceived to create a pathway from the front of the somewhat overcrowded garage to the back.  This required a great deal of shuffling, dragging, piling, folding, cutting, shredding, discarding and reorganising.  Luckily Mum has a PhD in this arena and I did a short course at the CAE in the late '80s.

We collected the tiles and slate for the kitchen, whenever the hell that decides to be finished.

And at some stage too there was grocery shopping.

Oh, and I ordered the kitchen stools from Matt Blatt online.

It's all happening at the House at Porter Street.

PS  I would've squeezed in a haircut but the salon is closed for renovations.  Probably not a bad thing.  By the time the chainsawing and mulch-fest is over tomorrow, I'll be gagging for some time out and R&R on Wednesday.  Fingers crossed for that.

Small victories.

Yesterday we picked up the set of fireplace accessories I bought on eBay on Friday.

Firewood bucket, screen and four piece tool set (alas no tongs) for $56.00.

I was a little disheartened to discover the lounge's fireplace flue to be stuffed with insulation and envisaged masses of wadding and filth coming down on a person as we tried to clear it, but bless Dad for not being dissuaded.  In the end we extracted just half a small wheelie bin's worth shoved up there to stop the draft.

After that I couldn't get under the house fast enough (a first) to retrieve logs and kindling.  It's the first time I've thought of the hoarding and haven't cursed everyone involved.  Carting wood is not my favourite thing, and I must confess, I did spend a moment conceiving of some type of automated transport option, or maybe just hitching Milo to a cart - but with visions of coal mining children emerging from the blackened pits and all that dirty clothing needing to be washed, I banished the thought...

A brief life as a girl guide in my early teens equipped me with some knowledge around open fire preparation and lighting - it's all in the prep.  And within twenty minutes we had a significant blaze with warm and toasty ambience in the formerly somewhat chilly cathedral ceiling-ed lounge.

And then, when night had fallen and Masterchef was about to start...

Possibly my most pleasing and satisfying eBay acquisition.  O happy day.

PS  Who knew?  Proper Ash Removal.

15 May, 2011

Coveting #2: Curtains

I despise the apricot / salmon vinyl blinds in my room.  Although I grudgingly admit that they do the job of keeping out sunlight, very ably

To remedy I'm going to work out how to make lined drapes.  And I'm going to use a fun and sunny print, something like these.

Daisies Green on Cream Hemp Cotton by Pippijoe

Spotcheck seaweed by Cloth Australia

Bloom Vine Cream

Traffic Green by Puti de Pome
Marguerite Black on Cream Hemp/Cotton
I need to work out how much fabric I need.  
And what bits I need.
And then do a bit of research on how you actually make them.
As of now, I am clueless.

14 May, 2011

The Omega Man

What do you think of when you hear "Omega Man"?  A post-apocolyptic Charlton Heston with a few zombies thrown in for excitement.  

or a sharp looking fella with a snazzy watch?

The Omega man came to our door on Thursday, don't you know.

If you recall, our new oven was released from the bondage of its box when the kitchen cabinets were being installed, and we immediately noted some denting in the fascia  where the knobs and displays are.  Consequently we made ourselves a date with Omega's service department.

My expectation dial was set to resolution, and not expecting any sort of resistance from the company, I anticipated the guy entering our residence with a short greeting and perhaps fleeting eye contact, smalltalk as we made our way to the oven, a shaking of his head in acknowledgement of the issue, pondering (possibly aloud), offering some sort of thesis as to how this might've happened, a word of dismay that we'd been inconvenienced and a warm assurance that the matter would be taken care of, if not in that instant, within a briefest possible juncture.

Reality only mirrored my expectations in that I answered the knock of the door, walked to the kitchen, back to the front door again, and it was over.  And somehow in the intervening 15 seconds I gleaned that a replacement fascia would be ordered and we would wait for their call.

So I'm waiting...

I never anticipated the Omega Man being a person of such stealth and mystery. 

Kitchen Floor: The Resolution

I don't know what happened to my last post, but its disappeared while Blogger was off line.

Rather then try and recompose, here's the photo.

There was also this link about how to kill yuccas from eHow.

11 May, 2011

On Mother's Day we went for lunch at Min's and lo! on the way to the bathroom, I experienced an epiphany of biblical proportions.

I've puzzled and pondered about how to make my bedroom work, and now I have the solution by wholly and completely pilfering the look from Min's own boudoir.

In case you can't see from my elevation, there will be four Ikea Billy bookcases behind my bed.  The facing wall will be pictures.  On the left is the wardrobe and floating shelves. And on the right is the window overlooking the soon to be culled yetis.

We've secured the services of "Out on a Limb" to free us of the tyranny of the strangling garden.  They'll be here on 17 May, for a full day, to do their worst.

It has been flagged with us, by the five parties we had through to quote on the garden, that we're going to have a dickens of a time getting rid of the yukkas lining the pool.

Apparently there's not enough room to get the stump grinder down the gap between pool and boundary fence, so we're preparing for a long running war using poison.  Not even pouring concrete on the stumps would stop their vigorous growth, as I'm told they'll just bust through.  It's crackers.  What fool would put aggressive, unstoppable, prickly weeds along a narrow path beside a pool?

The conundrums keep rolling at the House at Porter Street.

08 May, 2011

Coveting #1: 2-D, Black and White

Artist:  Marina Strocchi - Black Roads

Artist:  Piero Fornasetti - Jerusalem wallpaper

Egyptian Garden

Senufo Artwork

If only I knew then what I know now...

Our plan for floating floor panels over the interruptions in the kitchen tiles were dashed completely on Friday at 10am when David Charming, the delightful morphing of Ang Christou and Anthony Koutoufides, came to measure.

Where the fridge goes.
Please note that the blue is the protective film

Where the long counter was made into an island.
I told him of our cunning scheme to fill these chasms with an element already existing in the kitchen environ:  brushbox timber.

Handsome did everything he could to talk us out of it eventually hitting on the thing which cut through our resistance.  

If the timber panels get soaked, if there's a leak, they will be ruined, bubbly, straight away.  And where are the areas for which these panels are proposed?  Under the dishwasher and under the fridge.

Cue the loser sound from "Family Feud".

He then went on to point out that the floor underneath the tiles is HARDWOOD.  Blackbutt.  AND what's more, the whole business to rip up the tiles, remove adhesive and sand and seal the floors would cost under $3K.

Can you hear my heart breaking?

Now the cabinetry is in, it's too late to rip up the tiles and polish the boards, isn't it?  If it was just me, I'd bite the bullet and get on with it.  But Mum's already a nervous wreck and I don't think she could go to that place and retain the semblance of sanity to which she is currently clinging.

The price will be living with the tiles  and patch job knowing that underneath there is gold Gold GOLD.

And if in the future, I do decide to lose the tiles, I'll have to factor into the costing a long, relaxing trip to Greece for Mama, so she's no where near the mayhem.

07 May, 2011

I don't remember walking though a giant mouth, and lining up for tickets, but somehow I find myself continuing on the rollercoaster ride that is the House at Porter Street.

The red card from the gas inspector.
When last I wrote our position was a little grim as we passed a chilly night and anxiously awaited the prognosis from the plumber about the state of our pipes.  

This is the bit of rag holding together our broken pipe
Gladly another person's misfortune became our boon when a stranger's granite benchtops didn't arrive.  So instead of having to wait for Nick Plumber until after midday, he arrived around 10, bright and feisty and ready to get stuck in.

Within half an hour the broken pipe was out and I was despatched to a plumbing supply place, to get a bit of pipe to replace that which is depicted above.  

Now, I've been to Reece recently.  Bought a kitchen sink, if you recall.  Wasn't in any way struck by the place being particularly, um, manly.  So I didn't think twice about heading off to Tradelink while Nick Plumber had a cuppa with Mum and Milo.  I drive past it a couple of times a week.  It looks quite normal from the street: a bathroom showroom shopfront.  But once inside there's an eerie silence.  And no people.  Nothing happening. 

I looked about and was drawn to a sign with an arrow saying "Trade to rear".

Down a long corridor and through the looking glass, I found myself in what was physically a warehouse, but so generously infused with the essence of bloke and the aura of tradie, that without my realising or noticing, I had become invisible and irrelevant.  

Khe Sanh filtered through the air.

Behind the counter there was a young man, talking to a telephone about packing nuts and leak detection systems.  His name tag said Mark.  Beside him was a doorway with another sign barring civilians from crossing the threshold.  Men passed through the doorway, carrying things and tools and talking to unseen others.  I wondered why they couldn't see me.  

I'd been sent to ask for Mark. 

Daring not approach to doorway I instead embraced my inner Brit and waited patiently at the desk while Mark finished up his phone call and was about to start another when I must've magically materialised before him.

I asked if he was Mark with the 250mm pipe.  He stared.  My plumber, Nick rang before.  He told me to ask for Mark.  Mark said, Oh.  Mark.  There's more than one.  He leaned over to the mystical doorway, pushed it open and called.  An indeterminate number of voices responded.  Who knows about the 250 mil threaded gal?  Sounds like you do, I thought.  Although I wasn't eager to interrupt this curious charade.

After a few moments, another Mark emerged with the pipe. I reached out to take it.  Mark handed it to Mark.  My arm was still extended.  Mark placed it on the counter 5mm from my hand. 

I paid, claimed my purchase, and turned back towards the corridor leading up to the showroom, half expecting it to've morphed into a wall or a forest or a wardrobe or something. The thought occurred that I might be trapped there for ever.

By the time I got home, anticipation of a warm shower overwrote any musings about the mysterious place where men called Mark did manly things with bits of stuff.  I lived in hope that no more corrosive failures would be present and identified in my home.

Gladly this was the case.

Nick Plumber's youngest and happiest apprentice, filling in the hole.

And now the gas leak's fixed, for some reason, the hot water is undeniably hotter.  How can that be?

04 May, 2011

This post was supposed to be about sawdust.

We had three lots of garden people come through today.  In between visits, I battled the tsunami of sawdust in the kitchen with broom and vac and muslin duster.  One man came to quote on the lawn, the other two to estimate the cost and time needed to get rid of the jungle in the front and rear yards and get the garden into some sort of manageable shape.  

Every fella commented immediately as I opened the front door, on the strong smell of gas.  And as we each walked around the west side of the house it became increasingly apparent that there was something awry.  That's where the gas meter is, and that's where it was extremely whiffy.

So I rang the plumber who'd attended to unplug the gas when the kitchen was being dismantled.  He told me to call the gas company and advise them of a leak at the meter.  Make sure you say it's at the meter, he said.  It'll be a leaking regulator.

So I phoned.  I told them what he said.  I then did as they instructed and turned off the gas at the meter, and then I continued sweeping while I waited for the emergency gas man to come.

It wasn't too long before he too was tapping at the door, and he too commented on the smell.  Normally though, he can't smell it because he's around it all the time.  Not a good sign he said.  So I took him to the meter and he got a bottle of soapy water and sprayed it about the place and sure enough the regulator was stuffed.  Not your expense, he said.  Hooray, I responded.  Everything we touch here has cost us money.  This is a small victory.

So he changed the regulator, turned the supply back on and asked me to take him to the gas heating and hot water service so he could relight the pilots.

Not happy with the water heater and its proximity to trees (bad news).  Happy with ducted heating unit - an oldie but a goodie.  

Ready to say goodbye.  Walking past the gas meter again and we stop.  Can you still smell gas?  Yes, I believe I can.  Hmm.  This is not good.

And whaddya know.  The pipe that goes from the meter to our house, that is the pipe that we are financially responsible for, is not actually attached in any meaningful way to the house.  It was sort of held in place by some sort of a rag, but was wholly and completely corroded through.

The corrosion, said the gas man, is what happens over time.  But this "repair" is unbelievable.  Criminal.  Bloody dangerous.  The previous owners have attempted a temporary fix and then just left it.  You should try and go them for some of the costs.  (Yeah, coz that will really happen.)

So he shut off the gas (we have now no hot water or heating as well as a BEAUTIFUL but not functioning kitchen) and the plumber will have to come tomorrow to replace the pipe and find out what's going on with it.

So much for the small victory.  At least we got a new regulator.  AND our house didn't blow up.  That's something, I guess.

03 May, 2011

Looking good, Mortimer.

Look what Ben did today. 

Of course the blue film is still on, the bulkheads need painting, not to mention cornices and tiles, the benchtops are still 11 - 15 working days off and the plumbing and appliances aren't connected...oh, and the oven has a dent in it.  Pardon?  The oven has a dent in it?  Well actually, the oven has two dents.  Symmetrical.  Unmissable.  Look.

When I phoned Harvey Norman to advise them, I was told that we should've told them within 3 days of delivery...HA!  That's not working for me.  Anyway, they promised to ring me back with a solution by the end of the day.  Sadly they didn't.  So tomorrow I'll be following up.  

This will be fun.