Letter Home: Christmas 2002

Letter to  mum, December 2002.

Jingle bells, jungle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun (??) it is to have to find a Christmas tree and deccies not seen for 12 months and packed away before moving….

‘Tis the week before Christmas, and all through my house,
the creatures are stirring, and we finally killed that mouse.
Our stockings are shoved under the corner of the combustion heater with no care
and by the time Santa finds them, they will be coated in pet hair.

We sleep exhausted, unaided, snug in our beds,
while visions of renovation and demolition jangle round in our heads
and me in my daggy clothes, he in his cap
with projects half finished, no time for a nap.

All through the house and the lawn, such clutter and clatter
No point jumping up to see what’s the matter…
someone will have fallen over ‘important house stuff’
or the dog in his ambition to catch the ball of fluff
will have knocked it all askew once again, and just guess
who will have to collect it and pick it up, and… oops…  I digress…..

away to where the window should be, (mind your leg, on the sash)
peer through the curtains, (mind the broken shutter, if you are not careful, it will gash)
The moon, shining brightly, on half finished plumbing
reminds me of why, in this house, I am slumming…
when what, to my wondrous eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and 8 tiny reindeer!

My neighbours! His lights! Oh no – the Christmas bus tour!
Oh god help me now, I just spread fresh horse manure
on the roses out the front that I planted with care,
and odours are singing the tourists nasal hair..

and the little old driver, so lively and quick,
has turned a ghastly pale shade of green and looks like he may be sick,
and my neighbours are staring at my house with such sheer hate,
I think this weekend we will build a fence with a gate.
The tourists whistled and shouted and called us rude names
My relationship with my neighbours may never be the same.

Now front wall, and garden, and plumbing need fixin’
and the floor boards needs sanding and the roof needs uplifting
and we need to build on the porch, and knock out that wall,
and find a new kitchen and remove that old hall…

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
you can see through sections of the roof, right up to the sky,
when the wind blows you hear such a great creaking sound,
Convinced that the carport may soon be on the ground
and patching the roof seems such a long way ahead,
this is getting way too hard, let me go back to bed.

And then, in a twinkling, I hear on the roof,
good lord no, not rain? Is this place weather proof??
as I drew in my hand, and I turn myself around,
sure enough – what’s that – a puddle on the ground??

When was the last time I wore make up – a skirt?
and our clothes are all tarnished from renovators dirt
a permanent pony tail stuck on my head,
and phone calls from visitors, something I most dread

My eyes how they wrinkle, -and wrinkles, how many
new ones this week, with threat of any
new ‘surprises’ I may find in this old cottage shack
How I wish Santa would supply 3 airline tickets in his sack
and a small lotto winning, so I could  finish this shack
without nervous breakdown or mild heart attack.

This poor house is ready for much needed help
and I laugh when I see it, in spite of myself
and a wink of the eye and a toss of the head,
I resign myself to cooking on a frypan instead
of the gourmet kitchen complete with open fire
and a shower instead of the bath I desire

and hanging out laundry on a tilted Hills hoist
and preparing the walls for the new little joists
and smiling at the those neighbours, for soon they will be
jealous of my shack, and all it will be.
And take myself off for a walk to the beach,
and dream of completion, not too hard to reach…

So dash away, dash away, dash away all,
I have to go off, remove dry rot from my hall
I am really quite happy, here in my plight,
I will accept gold coin donations, though – letter box on the right –
and in a flurry of wood shavings, I am out of sight…


Letters Home: November 2002

Hi mum, all, everyone… 
I imagine you are, dear reader, sitting in your chair, propped at your computer, ready for an entertaining page  filled with renovation wonders, amusing tales of finds we unearthed, and gushing statements how how great our work is progressing.

Should that be the case , hit the close button. Now.

Still here? This is an interlude, of sorts,  rather than an update. Just in case you  think we are slacking off you see.   It’s gripe time. last we spoke, I let you know about Ross’s rewiring the home (which *is* gushworthy), and a promise of me enjoying a nice  hot shower with my new gas hot water system in place, and crystal clear water just racing down those pipes to get to my skin. Hmmm. I still have no gas. I still have no pipes. I still have no connected hot water system.What I do have, however, is half connected copper and plastic piping, snaking in and out of the floor and walls at the most interesting angles.

Nary an end is connected to any type of H20. I also have a new, shiny hot water system sitting on it’s own wee cedar pad in the corner. It’s bare copper connections smirk at me every time I walk around the corner of the house to manually connect the old hose to the galvanised tap that I use to fill the pet bowl or water the plants. (One day I will kick it and look accusingly at the dog). I also have a pyramid of besa blocks holding up 2 x 9kilogram barbeque gas bottles. I have a wonderful leaky showerhead.

And a mess.

All these together give me a shower, on a good day, and if I am lucky, and the wind is blowing in the right direction…   You see, when the pipe work was being connected, something possessed the HMOTH (handy man of the house) to fiddle with the shower base. “It leaks” he pronounced. “Right into the sand in the crawl space”. It does ? Since when?? “There is a puddle – wet residue?” ask I. “No…” “But you are sure it leaks?”  Yes, it does leak… now…” Indeed. I would leak too if I was hit with sledgehammer to check if I was solid.  So, it is silicone and fibreglass we need, so we can stop the leak until such time that we are ready to renovate the bathroom.The very next day, right on cue, the toilet begins to gurgle. “oh, says the HMOTH,  that will be air coming in from where the shower is leaking, thus creating a vacuum”  I hear him doing his very best Julius Sumner Miller voice, looking at me like I should *know* that.  I resist the temptation of saying “why is it so”… 

An interesting thing to note, dear reader, is that apparently, air locks can also completely block toilets when it comes to palm tree roots. Or so it appears….  So the gas hot water needs the pipework finished in order to have the water pressure to keep it happy, so to speak. The water pressure will be supplied via the pipework that is dangling out of the house, spider legs everywhere, waiting for the leak to be fixed. The silicone and fibreglass is in the shed, somewhere… The toilet is backed up, and HMOTH is currently  outside with an electric snake,  doing gawd knows what to gawd knows what,  making sure he stays far enough away from me so I cannot snort anything that sounds like “air lock – hah!”  (I told him he needs Rootex, he looked at me like I was being rude).

Mercy, the things that come out of blocked sewage!!!!! GROSS.

So, the last few weeks have been spent playing chase the water. At this stage, a motel is looking good. Tell me again will you  – location, location, location….

July 2003

A letter to mum, July 2003

July 2003

It’s been such a long time since I did an update, for that I apologise. After all, with Ross’s redundancy smacking us in the face like it did, we have had so many other focuses instead! Anyway, thought I better get this off before mum leaves Perth (Hi Mum!!) tonight, to fly over and spend a month with us in Paradise. (see it’s not raining today and I am in a T shirt!!).

Now that things are settling down, we have had a little, not a lot, of time to get back into the renovations. So far, the concept of doing it ourselves using recycled, vintage and/or antique materials has proved a challenge – not so much in fitting them, but more in locating what we want. Some compromises are now being made – I have a desire for NEW architraves, skirtings and power points (wouldn’t you?) The gutting of the old lounge room was fun, and many months later the new walls are in place. There is a floor (gasp!) and we were fortunate in scoring some early 1900’s floorboards through an auction, that we used to make the floating floor ourselves, right down to the ‘floats supporters” which came from the same place. Seems these are old schoolhouse boards, once sanded they will be lovely. There is a ceiling now – my how we move up in the world – but yet to have the holes and seams plastered. The VJ’ boards and dado rail are almost finished, and one can actually see that a room is taking shape. The fireplace should come out next weekend, but then again…… The best thing – the room, all self built does not leak! (small happy dance). Thankyou, Thankyou….

The leadlight front door looks lovely, and we have the matching bi-fold doors in where the lounge will step up to what will be  the new master bedroom. All very pretty.

In the guest room (where we now sleep) all that’s left to do are the architraves and a little plastering, and hang the new door. Then, when we move out of it, I can paint it (how exciting!)  The hallway only awaits it repaired dado rails, the new office needs the charming pink rosebud wall paper stripped off and painted, and Rielly’s room – the new windows and door – oh, and the removal of the wall…. (sigh).

Steptoe and wife next door have settled down, seemingly over their tanty about us ripping out the gross concrete eagles from the garden (shudder). Wait till we tell them we are putting in a 6 foot picket fence down that side, I am sure they will step out to tantyville again.

The poor old Hill’s hoist fell down (everybody say ‘Ohhhhh’) I hung up a sisal rug to dry and the whole concoction tipped goat over brisket, so I had to get a new clothesline. (everybody say ‘yayyyy’).

So today, I am paper working and invoicing then doing the school reports, followed by sourcing the last amount of floorboards needed to refloor the hallway, then the whole house is ready to have the boards sanded. That won’t happen for ages though – there are still 3 rooms to gut walls from first, the new bathroom, kitchen and laundry to go in and the ensuite to build and…….. gawd, I need a cuppa.