Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

I'm Digging a Ditch Where Madness Lives

Sometimes when things are at their darkest a little ray of sunshine beaks through.

Not that our darkness can even cast a shadow on the circumstances of many people in this world; we are so blessed really. Still, any regular reader of this blog will be well aware of the limitless dysfunction of this family (and these are just a few examples) and I am sure our builders would attest to the same.

This past week has been yet another litany of stress:
Himself's business (why oh why did I get involved? Oh yes, because they needed someone who would remember to pay the bills); mounting unfinished jobs at work which were meant to be completed during the holidays (wooooosh....that was the deadlines passing); the builders (so where do you want this down pipe?); No 1 Son, here for a short spell which has extended to months (not that we mind except that we know he is simply avoiding things); the BA's approaching 18th birthday with attendant monster party (what was I thinking????); a nasty letter from the taxman...
So it was with a delight bordering on rapture that I came home to this tonight.

Why, you ask me? Well, it seems that both my stepsons have worked together, for the best part of a day, to dig trenches in unforgiving clay soil, so that the storm water may be connected up tomorrow ready for the paving to recommence on Thursday. They also purchased the required PVC pipe and assorted joining pieces.
Without supervision!
For no monetary reward.
And without killing each other.

Just when you think they are beyond hope....... <3 p="">
Here's the finished pergola awaiting the paving.

When that is done I get to pick up the new outdoor setting, hopefully before May 11th when the BA has her birthday party............

I mean, why do it with time to spare when you can have the enervating experience of biting your fingernails right up until the last moment?

Friday, 26 April 2013

In Which The Builders Blush

Picture the scene: it is mid morning on the day after the builders were supposed to have started our pergola. On day 1, a truck finally turned up at 2.30pm with  all the materials, but there was no sign of a builder. Now, I am dressed to the eights (I rarely make nines nowadays) and coming out onto the back, half built-patio to say goodbye to Himself, whom I can hear in conversation with what must be the builders. It is 9.30am and I am due to meet my friend for coffee at 10am (I am on holidays after all).

Hoorah for the building starting.


For several weeks, Himself had been in conversation with Lance and No 2 Son regarding the progress of their paving and the impending arrival of the pergola guys. Despite his constant reminders, today there are two substantial piles of dirt and bits of broken brick, paver and vegetation, sitting oh about approximately exactly where they will be most obstructive to the recently arrived builders. I am aware of this, after all, we had spoken to No 2 Son last night as he arrived home around 1am. I had also decided that it was not my problem.

So, there I am on the semi patio, about to say goodbye and leave Himself to it, when the conversation begins to get challenging.

Builder: Well we will definitely need this stuff removed. We need to get scaffolding in here (indicates pile one) and of course this (indicates pile two) is where we need to dig a hole for a post!

Himself: Arizaphale can you go and wake up No 2 Son and let him know this will need to be moved?
Arizaphale: Sure....(thinks....I have no need for this head anyway)

Sound FX: tramp tramp tramp down the stairs to No2 Son's  bedroom....knock knock knock
Voice from within the room: MMMMffffff???
Ariz: Hey No 2 Son, you're going to have to move those piles of dirt. The builders are here.
No 2 Son: uhhhhhhh. OK.....Uhhhhh....how soon do they need them moved?
(Did he NEEED to ask??????)

About 10 minutes later No 2 Son emerges from the depths of his unclean bedding and regards the piles of dirt.....He is is ropeable.

No 2 Son: I TOLD Lance that we needed to do this but oh no, he was too cheap to hire a skip and wanted to do the tip run all in one go.....
Himself: Well, you'll need to move it now
No 2 Son: Why am I left to do all the work?????
Himself: Well go and wake Lance up and get him to come and help.
No 2 Son : Well I told Lance that we needed to do it and he told me that you'd said it would be ok.....
(clearly the waking of Lance is not something No 2 Son relishes, a sentiment I am familiar with )
Himself: I never said it would be ok! I have been telling you for THREE WEEKS now that that this area would need to be cleared for the builders!!

And this is where it went pear shaped......

No 2 Son, if I have not mentioned it before, I suspect to be on the autistic spectrum. If not, he is definitely language disordered and fails constantly to fully process what we are saying to him. Unfortunately, because this was not diagnosed early in his life, he has plodded on convinced that he has made himself clear and continually angry becuase the rest of the world has NOT made itself clear. No teacher ever made him aware of due dates, no ex-employer really told him what he had done wrong, no parent ever clearly defined what was expected of him in the home environment! Apparently.

So here we go.......


This is not going to go well is it?

Himself: I told you three weeks ago and my instructions have not changed in that time


At this point Himself, who had been doing a reasonably good impression of a patient father, completely lost it and began throwing things into wheelbarrows himself whilst roaring at full bark volume (as in, more bark than bite) that he had clearly explained the need for moving the dirt, and enhancing his protestations with a hefty dose of 'f' related invectives to emphasise this point.

The next 5 minutes involved a fairly fruity (those weren't the 'f' words by the way) rendition of the same three points: 'I didn't know' and 'I definitely told you' and a fair bit of 'go **** yourself', 'no you!', 'no YOU!' etc

At the end of all this, Himself stamped off late for his appointment and in a hell of a rage;  the builders were hiding in their truck; I had changed into my digging gear and No 2 Son had driven off in a rage, presumably to go and try and wake up Lance who was conveniently not answering his phone. I also had to text my dear friend to explain why I would not be there on time.

I called on the BAmeister to give me a hand in the disassembling of the two piles of dirt and she manfully put on some gloves and started sifting through the piles for greenery. Before I could lift a spade to assist her, the builders, who on the departure of my men folk had emerged sheepishly from their truck, pointed to the pool plumbing and announced:

"According to these plans, there's meant to be a down pipe in behind there........"

Now it was my turn.....

After several phone calls to the supervisor, some creative thinking and the dramatic realisation, on my part, that these builders were not going to connect up the stormwater....

("Read the fine print madam, it's there in your contract..."
"What, you mean the one I never saw because I thought my husband had organised it all????")

.....the pergola frame is up, the plumbing did not need to be disassembled and the down pipes are in reasonable locations to assist me (and whichever boys I can co-erce) in connecting up the stormwater.

I think the builders may have been traumatised for life. I know I certainly was!!!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Communicating With Youth

I will be the first to admit that I cannot keep abreast of the mammoth task of keeping this house clean. We have four bedrooms, four bathrooms and two family rooms. Currently, almost everything is coated with a fine layer of builder's dust, especially now that the boys have motivated themselves sufficiently to make the cuts on the new pavers.
And boys. I mean, boys just don't do 'clean' very well do they? Or is it just the genetic pool I've inherited (in a step family way as opposed to an inheriting genes kind of way)? My own progeny, having been reasonably helpful through her early teens, seemed to descend to new levels of grotty around about her 16th birthday. I have recently resorted to this.

It seems to be working to some extent.

But to more exciting things.....

My official Keith Richards T shirt arrived in the mail from the US! I am slightly disappointed I didn't get one of the randomly signed certificates of authenticity.....but hey, it saves me having to frame the whole thing and hang it in the bar....

 And...YES....we are getting there with the paving!! Can't rush these things you know :-D

Off to Kangaroo Island this afternoon. Will use my new Blogger app again to post from one of the most beautiful, peaceful places in South Australia.

Monday, 15 April 2013

On The Fly

School holidays are here. I got to go to the gym this morning, make 5 important calls I've been meaning to make for a month and update the 'Flaming Family' page for Dawn, who needed a visual!
Now I have to go in to work and interview someone for a teacher's aide position. On Wednesday we're off to Kangaroo Island again for a workshop for our business.
The 'paving company' started work at 11 and now at 2.30pm seem to have called it a day. I can hear No2 Son outside revving his old bomb of a car in a most ineffective way, in that it keeps stopping. This does not auger well. For one thing, it means he'll be around more often

Friday, 5 April 2013

Where Do I Start With The Dysfunctional Paving Company?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the dysfunctional family are whirling themselves up a dust storm of trouble.

For anyone unfamiliar with our set-up, we have No 2 Son (quite possibly on the Autistic Spectrum) living with us, The Baby Angel (my only progeny), also living with us, and No 1 Son, recovering drug addict and tormentor of his bro, back with us for an undetermined length of time, having been forcibly ejected 5 years ago and now here for a 'holiday'.

Himself also has two ex step children from his relationship with the mother of Small Boy (a child who no longer speaks to me and is stirring himself up a mess of trouble over at his mother's place where he has been wagging school and handing up no work despite changing schools at his request, having had an assessment last year which showed he has a dyslexic profile and having had a Support Plan put in place. But I digress).

One of the stepchildren, I'll call him Lance, is a reasonably skilled young man who quit school at 16, because he could, and has tried a variety of jobs over the last 7 years most of which he tossed in because they required him to get out of bed before midday. Recently he has decided to start up a little business himself, doing landscaping. Himself, out of the goodness of his heart, asked him to quote on the paving of our yard.

Does this have disaster written all over it or what?
He came over initially, took measurements and sold Himself on these pavers >. He then went away to do his 'calculations'.

Three weeks later, Himself told me to look for other quotes. He also told his ex that Lance hadn't got back to us so we were looking elsewhere and lo and behold, there was Lance on a Friday afternoon, with his quote. It was for $7000. A further few measurements were taken,  we discussed the direction of laying the pavers, the placement of some beds to break up the corridor like appearance of the patio and off he went to finalise the quote. It came in at $13,000!!! When queried about the sudden jump in price he replied,
"Oh, well the first time I forgot to include labour costs."

Are the alarm bells now ringing loudly??

Himself was keen to give them a go. He had also assigned the task of building garden beds and levels on one side of the new retaining wall, to No 2 Son.

This photo was taken at the end of January, after No 1 Son had weeded out a stubborn shrub and No 2 Son had thus been shamed into weeding out a slightly smaller but no less gnarly nandina. The quote was in, the job was scoped....everything was set to go. The pavers arrived on the 28th of February.

As of yesterday, this was the progress.

The general work hours seem to be 11.30am til 12.30pm followed by a two hour lunch followed by an arbitrary hour, or not, afterwards....followed by knocking off at 3pm.

There has been some discussion over the slope of the area. The lads want to lay most of the pavers horizontally across the corridor with a vertical row running parallel to the roof-line of the house, draining any rainwater into the basin under the tap (see first photo). I have mentioned to them that it is illegal to run storm water into a sewage drain (not to mention the fact that I do not want a row of vertical pavers dissecting the already narrow patio!) but have heard no response. I see no reason why the patio cannot slope towards the retaining wall, and if a drain is necessary, an in ground channel could be laid along the wall to take run off toward the storm water drain over near the pool equipment. Anyway, whatever they do with it....it better not be contrary to building regs!!!! >:-( I feel this battle is one we still need to have. Himself has a limited knowledge of all this sort of thing and as a result feels quite resentful that I wish to have a say in it. It's a man thing.

So as the days grow short and the working hours of our 'contractors' grow even shorter, I am left wondering whether we will have to engage some professional pavers to rescue us from the mess these two renegades may possibly leave us in! The whole thing needs to tie in with the pergola (commencement date 22nd April) and the BA's 18th birthday which we hope to hold on the 11th May. Fingers crossed.

Oh well, we always have this......