Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Of Houses, Wallpaper and Sugar

Good Lord. When did I start this post?????
Perhaps I should abandon words and make this a photoblog? Lately, I have had little time to formulate words either written or, sometimes, even spoken! One night recently whilst playing games with The Bestie and The Opera Singer, I found myself unable to formulate coherent sentences or follow the play. And I was not drinking at the time! I am trying to cut myself some slack. It has been a stressful and overwhelming 6 months.

I got the keys to my new abode on January 15th. We (The Bestie and I) immediately decided that the carpets were a lot worse than they had first appeared. Re-carpeting was too expensive so I decided to sand and polish the floors before moving in.
Unfortunately, this meant that moving in and starting back at school, happened in the same week.


 Here's the lounge room during the sanding process.


This is the 'family room' (west view). That strange construction at the rear on the left is the entry to the cellar. The doors in the wall are blessed, blessed storage.....<3 br="">


Now, here is an example of how over enthusiastic girls can create issues. The Bestie and I tore out a bookshelf to find this behind it. What next, we wondered?


Here's the floors after their treatment.

The lounge room  looking North and....


Looking south.....


At this point it is worth noting that the removalists had come on their original appointed date, regardless of floorworks, so we had had to pile all the furniture into the bedrooms which were not getting the floor 'treatment'.

 This was my bedroom.



Once the floors were 'walkable', we moved all the boxes and furniture into the rooms that we thought would become their permanent homes. This is the family room looking west.

Aaaaand, looking east....



Suffice to say a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing of boxes and  other large items occurred before everything started to settle in. By the way, that wooden construction above the family room is a mezzanine floor! Perfect for my sewing :-)

This is looking down towards the dining room. 

The kitchen presented problems as we didn't have the room for my oversized American style fridge. 
Here's the original:

The Bestie and I pulled out a bench and, bingo. Wall space. In this pic we hadn't quite moved the fridge into place as we were replacing the cork floor tiles that we had  damaged in the rip up.

Of course ripping out a bench meant I didn't have any bench space to speak of, so....
one 'gumtree' purchase later......


I'm loving this dinky kitchen now. The only thing it needs is a bench somewhere around where the wooden divider (near the camera) is. Well, actually that's not the only thing. The ancient electric range is a travesty and should be scrapped forthwith. The problem is its a domino effect, if I change this I have to change that and then I might as well change this too!....etc etc

But my post title included the words .....wallpaper.....

Now I will not lie to you. I have removed many a sheet of wallpaper in my time, usually with the assistance of the steamer, that wonderful modern contraption....however, this would have to rate as one of the WORST wallpaper removal jobs that I've ever had to deal with.....

Now on the back (highest) wall of the lounge room, there rested this innocuous beauty. I could have left it there but I knew that my time to strip things back was now. Besides, the paper was old and crusty, stained by many years of who knew what....


 We got stuck in, one Friday night, thinking it might take us 24 hours and, admittedly, the first layer came off without too much trouble. Then we hit ....this.


For those unfamiliar with the wallpaper genre, this is a foil based 70s metallic gem. It probably cost an arm and a leg when it was installed. It was a complete cow to remove.

The steamer had little effect on it. After two days of steaming and scraping we resorted to grinding the stuff off with a grinder. The house was coated in artificial snow!!!!!! Eventually, with two to three of us working at all times it took FOUR DAYS to completely finish the wallpaper removal!

Here's how things looked two days in...



Sadly, with our excessive steamer use, the underlying gyprock wall was completely trashed. The plasterer set us back another day....

So here's the finished product...

But now, this post is becoming unwieldy.... so I'll just show you my bush garden...


Which was ALMOST the reason why I didn't buy the property. Lord knows what I'm going to do with that wasteland. Stay tuned. And please share ideas :-)


Friday, 12 February 2016

Pack Up Your Dirty Books, Your Songs That Have No Hooks


This is a late post, mainly because I just dug my computer out of its packing box and connected it up. We have been in a world of: packing, house-sitting and unpacking and now, as the fetid breath of the approaching school year blows hot upon my neck, we are still waiting to get into our new house.

Here's what I wrote on the 18th December:

I am a week out of my house. This time last week I was collapsing, exhausted, in post traumatic stress, in Sydney, after a month of pandemonium.

What I had not computed when signing the all important house sale contract, was the significance of the date. It had been booked sixth months earlier, a flight to Sydney courtesy of the BA's father, for his annual Christmas bash. I asked the agent to suggest that we rent back a week or delay the settlement by 5 days (to give us time to return from Sydney and thoroughly clean the house etc before moving) but both suggestions were rejected. We had 30 days to get out of the house, and find somewhere else to live....


I continue the story today, knowing that I have about 5 posts up my sleeve with respect to the
ensuing chapters in our journey. There is
  • The Pool Fence story: this one will curl your hair
  • The Sydney trip
  • House sitting in North Adelaide over Christmas NY with an Account of Dog Whispering and Home Organisation
  • Dabbling in Paint whilst waiting...and waiting
  • Getting the keys and the Wallpaper Saga
  • New Floors
OK.....maybe six....

But maybe I'll start with  a few shots of the new house. These come off the real estate site so they are naturally stretched and shopped to make them more appealing :-)


This one is pretty good though. It's taken from the stairs down to the house and is a pretty faithful rendition.

Now this is is the lounge room:


And this is the family room (LOVE those carpet tiles....not)


This is the dining  room:  

This is the kitchen.


And this is the wasteland of a backyard which discouraged me from offering on it in the first place.


Looking up from the bottom of the yard.


As I finally finish this post, it is nearly 2 months since I started it.
Our world was changed suddenly and shockingly by the death of the husband of a dear friend, whose house we had stayed in over Christmas.
The  pictures I uploaded over a month ago, bear little resemblance to the chaos that is my house at the moment.
I still have lots to catch you up on.......
But I am happy.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Alright already, I've Been Busy!!!

The Chaos Fairy has been hard at work in my neck of the woods of late! Since I last wrote, the season of Evita charged forward with many interesting twists and turns, (all worthy of their own posts): followed by set painting and a whole bunch of other stuff for Local Light Opera's Christmas variety concert; followed by the church centenary; followed by selling the house: followed by finding a house I would like to live in; followed by the Bestie staying with us until she moves to her new house in November; combined with mum and dad living under our roof since October and you have a pretty good idea of the state of my sanity.

But on a happy note:

Grandma and the BA at the BA's place of employment on my mother's 56th (yes, those numbers exist!) wedding anniversary.

But back to 'Evita'.

Here's Colonel Peron adding the finishing touches to Evita's exquisite ballgown, in my loungeroom!


We had such a special day the three of us. They talked about their concerns that the show wouldn't be good enough and I told them of my journey towards and retreat from,  theatre. I am still clearing up the glitter.

In the middle of all this.....

I made a Jessie the Cowgirl costume for a friend:


The wig was quite another story...
Next:
After a year of planning,  meeting together and sewing, we finally completed the two 'centenary quilts' for the church. Here is one of them before we had even quilted it...



The gold links represent the connections we have wth community.

But while THIS was going on, I still had sets to paint for the  Light Opera Society variety performance. Stage one of the 'very fast' sets....


And here's the other Centenary Banner the night we hung it.



And here's the posters I did to decorate the walls of the church gym for the Centenary lunch. And yes, I did have to resort to putting the footprints on myself after the kids in Sunday school got bored with the idea....:

And here's the most exciting thing of all.....



Thursday, 15 October 2015

Checking Into The Blogosphere

Twenty groups attended our first open inspection on Sunday. Precisely zero of them were interested in buying the house.

Currently I am working backstage in an amateur production of 'Evita' here in Adelaide.  I have an enormous emotional attachment to the show, having shared a flat with an original cast member in 1980, so it is a bit of a thrill to be involved in any way possible. That 'way' is as a 'dresser'. This means I help people get in an out of costumes, often VERY fast!

Tonight, the dress rehearsal, we finally got everyone onstage in time. Except Evita who went on to the balcony with the back of her dress open. Oh well, no one noticed :-)

Meanwhile, my lovely Mum and Dad have arrived from the UK and I am embarrassed not to have my ubiquitous 'arrival' photo to display here. In my defence, this was because their place was delayed and I had to go to work rather than meet them at the airport. Still, they're here!

Roll on next Open Inspection....




Thursday, 24 September 2015

Graphic Design Does Not Equal Interior Design: Just Sayin

As I do not post here as frequently as I used to, it has come to my attention that some of you may have missed the whole house sale saga which began unfolding in October last year.

After I had decided that I was 'done' here, that Himself and I were never going to work through the mass of issues that grew, like a nasty bindweed through our relationship, Himself moved out (his choice) and we tried to sell the house.

We failed.

With a massive bill for (unsuccessful) marketing, not to mention the bills incurred for repair and refurbishment prior to the sale process, I was left to lick my wounds and batten down the hatches over winter.

Then our drains blocked up.


This is what the plumber extracted. It's tree roots, in case you were confused...

With lots of theatre and sewing to distract me, I avoided all thoughts of house sale for several months. And then I made some decisions.

One of the pieces of feedback we'd received about the house during the time it was on the market, was that the floor plan was awkward. Interestingly, I had thought this myself on our first inspection, but Himself and No 2 Son's enthusiasm had won me over and, living in the house, the quirkiness of the layout kind of grew on us. Mind you, it didn't stop Himself from complaining bitterly every time he had to climb the stairs from the garage with arm loads of computers etc. It didn't stop him complaining loudly about all the doors he had to open with full hands, because the vast size of the place meant vast power bills which meant that I spent my whole life running around turning off lights and shutting doors to 'keep the heat in'.

The most difficult time was when we had guests. There was nowhere to naturally 'congregate'. In Australia, people tend to move towards the kitchen on arrival in a home. Here they can chat whilst the host arranges drinks and nibbles etc, or in my case, attempts to finish the meal that should have been ready hours ago....our kitchen never lent itself to this. Designed as it was with a small hatch through to a similarly small eating area, people either got under your feet in the kitchen, or stood on the other side of the hatch, awkwardly, as people pushed past them, being in a corridor as they were.

Here it is from one side

And from the kitchen

And here's how crowded it seemed when we sat in the eating area (sad looking back on this photo).


I mean it was ok once we were at the table and eating, or in the lounge room chatting, but in that first 40 mins or so it was always decidedly awkward. The Bestie described the house as having 'no flow'.
And hey ho! There you go, everyone else thought so too.

They also mentioned the 'dated' nature of the place: kitchen, bathrooms etc. All the stuff you don't notice when you live with it.

So I was thinking to myself, what would dramatically change this house, with the least amount of financial pain (what would get me the most 'bang for my bucks' as Himself put it)? The horrible kitchen hatch! I decided to investigate removing the wall.

Well, thanks be! It wasn't as bad as I thought it might have been, and we were able to get new bench tops AND a proper range hood to actually suck air out of the kitchen and prevent the build up of grease etc that I have been struggling with for many years. I began financial negotiations with Dad.

So in August the process commenced.


 Oh. My. Goodness. What a difference!!!! Suddenly we have a place for people to congregate. The centre of our house is alive! It's lighter, cleaner, more inviting.....

But with the new range hood, we had the problem of tiling.


Being smaller and more stream lined, the new range hood exposed the edge of the tiles which had been previously hidden. And anyway, let's face it, those tiles with the 1980s still life......they had to go.

Here is where Himself stepped in. Mr Graphic Designer had a whole lot to say about the tiles. The thing is, he had successfully picked the new white-ish benches, so I had been softened up.
"Dark tiles," he announced. "We need dark tiles to make the benches pop and to draw the walls back, giving a sense of light and space."

Now dark tiles had been the last things I had been considering.  After all, the kitchen is pretty big anyway! Why would we need to give a sense of space...and how would dark tiles give a sense of light????? But, since I deferred to his greater expertise etc etc, we went and picked an appropriate dark tile called 'satin cocoa'.

Then I started to get nervous.

That space behind the cook top was awfully big, I feared the brown tile would be too overpowering. I started to look on the web and found a slightly lighter brown tile, with an etched 'score' line across it, meaning you could fill it with grout and get the sense of more, smaller tiles, broken up by light grout.
Himself was happy too so it seemed like a done deal.


On the morning the Bestie and I started to attempt the tiling of the kitchen,  we discovered that, at 10mm thick, we couldn't could not cut the tiles. Not even with an angle grinder! Massive panic, a re-think and it was back to the hardware store to buy the cheaper, but more importantly, thinner, satin cocoa tiles. Back to Plan A.

I was still worried about the over-all dark effect, so I bought some mosaic feature tiles while I was there.


I thought these would break up the dark tiles Himself favoured and I planned to put them in random vertical lines, behind the cooktop. Surely a fair compromise? Himself was cautiously in agreement and we settled on two asymmetric vertical lines behind the cooktop.


"Mosaics?! Behind a cooktop???? Imagine cleaning those!", squealed one of my more straight forward friends. " I would never buy a house with tiles like that behind the cooktop!"
How such minor statements can impact on our lives.
I spent a weekend planning a variety of ways to place the mosaics with Mondrian like randomness, anywhere BUT behind the cooktop. Most of these ideas got the thumbs down from Mr Graphic Designer.
"Keep it simple," he postulated and proceeded to outline two, slightly offset, tile width rectangles in very minimalist fashion. But more of that later.

In the meantime I had to contend with things like this:


 and this:


which I got sorted with the help of some of my new found theatre friends. Lighting blokes can be very useful!

I then had to back fill the exposed brick with plaster to make it into a flat surface for tile application...


...and then the Bestie and I were ready to go.

We started at around 9am on a Monday morning and it took us most of that morning to reach a finishing point.
 And I had lost significant amounts of hair.
And my wrinkles were 50% deeper.
The problem lay in that row of small tile cuts near the bench under the window there.


Rushing ahead like bulls in the proverbial china shop, and having wasted a day failing to cut the other tiles and making the decision to buy these ones, we forgot the number one rule of tiling. Put up a batten if your bottom tile is not a whole tile!!! (exhibit a) the correct method)


As it turns out, the correct method is NOT, putting up half a tile, then putting another whole tile above it, then watching them slide down the wall, then shoving bits of cut up lunchbox underneath them to prop them up and then putting the tile spacers in the wrong way so that some of the gaps were 1.5.mm and some were 0.8mm and then moving on to the next tile without really getting the line-up correct because the adhesive we'd mixed up was going to go 'off if we didn't get the bloody things up, and it cost a ****ing fortune to buy and we didn't want to have to back to the hardware store.......

Nope, that isn't it. But we forgot about that and, two hours later, covered with tile glue, red faced, panting and speaking quite curtly to each other, this is what we had achieved.


Sad, I know.
As a result, the Bestie suggested we hire a tiler. Hooray, hooray. My anxiety attacks abated (until I saw my bank account) and so, the brown tiles were applied, with 'marked' mosaic spaces (as determined by Himself)  filled, by mosaic tiles.


We hated the mosaic tiles.

But Lo!!!! We took them out.



So, meh, It is ok, I don't love it, I don't hate it. I hoped to be excited and I wasn't. Roll on open inspections!