Monday, August 29, 2011

Flooring puzzle

Since we bought our house a few weeks back, I have ripped out all the carpet, vinyl, curtains, blinds, some shelves, a half-height brick wall and a wheelie-bin full of enormous recessed downlights. 

Then I had a uteload of new power points and various other handy electrical bits installed.  I had the many facebrick walls (more appropriately called brick-in-your-face) either roughly bagged or smoothly plastered.  I  had the interior of the house painted.  I had the existing beige bath and shower box resurfaced so they are now gleaming white.  I bought a houseload of new light fittings.  I bought new curtains and curtain tracks and selected blinds.  I had the roller shutters mended.  I had various locks replaced or fixed, though not without first being locked out. 

I also excavated 16m x 20m knee-high front "lawn" to unearth the reticulation system in preparation for delivery of a truckload of mulch.  I trimmed various trees so that they don't cause the gutters to grow roof gardens.  I trimmed various shrubs so that the postie can visit without losing an eye.  I removed piles of inorganic rubbish from the garden and in the process I found that our garden is home to a bobtail lizard who looks like this,

and a quenda, or bandicoot, who looks like this.

I also had the gobby glue residue ground off the concrete pad ready for new floor coverings to be installed.  But there I hit a very puzzling and frustrating double-brick wall and sadly I still have a) a big chunk of my renovation budget sitting in the bank, and b) a whole house with bare, unsealed concrete floors.  This situation has not resulted from a lack of effort on my part; over the past few weeks I have developed cauliflower ear and callouses on my fingers from the number of phonecalls, texts and emails I've made to various flooring folk begging them to measure, quote and sell me their products.  I'm starting to wonder if they are just fronts for drugs operations.

So at crack of dawn today I started the whole sorry process again at yet another flooring retailer.  I left all my contact information and exact details of what products I want to get installed.  I've been waiting hopefully all day to hear from them about when they can come and measure and quote - and install.  This is my top priority as we can't move in until this piece of the puzzle is in place.

However if they want to swing by tomorrow they are out of luck.  There will be no renovating tomorrow because then I get something more far more important and exciting than even a houseload of floor coverings - though how this particular thing has managed to arrive so quickly is also somewhat puzzling.  See tomorrow, I get a teenager!

[Pics at top of Katrin Sonnleitner's version of a persian rug from here.  Best of luck getting that in Mandurah!]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday shopping

In Western Australia the shops are closed on Sundays.  OK, that is an exaggeration.  The truth is that only most of the shops are closed.  Some shops in leafy suburbs, which have blue flooring, less than 13 employees and a high percentage of staff called Barry are open.  Then in the school holidays, shops with a sea view, situated on streets starting with the letter P or S, which sell a wide range of orange-coloured goods are also open.  OK that too may not be 100% accurate, but the actual Sunday trading laws in WA are about as logical and perplexing as that.  Suffice to say that should I need to replenish a child's sock drawer, select light fittings, stock up on school lunch consumables or get some grog in, then I'm pretty much out of luck if I attempt to do it around here on a Sunday.

I'm not necessarily saying that I think WA's laws should change, as while NZ's trading laws are certainly convenient for us disorganised folk, they simply mean that each household's weekly spend is spread more thinly throughout the week, and that to enable this some people have to work very unsociable hours.  What I am saying is that after living here for a year and a bit, I'm still nowhere near used to the situation.

The fact that Mandurah's one shopping mall is closed on a Sunday does however enable locals to have a shopping experience far more interesting than anything the mall ever provides.  On Sunday mornings a Swap Meet is held in the closed mall's carpark and my daughter and I have become regular attendees.

On Sunday mornings I scoff my toast, gulp my coffee and dash out the door in anticipation of finding a Ladderax shelving system or some some Villeroy and Boch Acapulco for my collection.  By the time we park and head up the stairs to the market I'm convinced I'll find a Case Study daybed and I've already mentally reupholstered it with the Lucienne Day fabric I'll surely find.  My somewhat more realistic companion comes along in the hope of adding an antique key, interesting coin or Dr Who figurine to her various collections.

Then the shopping starts.  We stroll past the dusty framed jigsaw puzzles, endless crusty dolphin ornaments, laughably fake DVDs, sky-high piles of Dan Brown books and wheelie-bin sized soft toys. Sigh.  I'm not usually one for advocating throwing things out but after passing stall after stall of pilled K-Mart jumpers, budget furniture with its swollen chipboard busting out from its vinyl laminate, used duvet covers with pictures of tigers on them and nicotiney macrame creations, a little voice in my head starts chanting "Get thee to a landfill quicksticks!"

But the reason we go to the Swap Meet is obviously because sometimes we really do strike gold and even if we come away empty-handed, we always see plenty of bizarre, amusing and entertaining tat there. 

This is some small consolation for the fact that my Sunday evenings are often spent drinking Soda Stream out of a wine glass and warning family members not to eat various meagre foodstuffs required for tomorrow's school lunches while trying to convince myself that a) my drink is something more interesting and b) next Saturday will be the one I finally remember to get organised.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The wonders of child labour

When we took possession of our new house, the extensive paved areas around it all looked like this shot above.  Weeding that was certainly on my list but way, way down as my priority is to get the house to a stage that we can move in to.

But through the wonders of child labour by a very determined child who is madly saving up to buy herself a laptop, a large part of that paving now looks like this.

What's even better is that she's taken on the ongoing maintenance contract.  Who needs Hire a Hubby when you can hire a daughter.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Prison break

Although I'm working as many hours as I can squeeze in on my house renovation project during the week, I'm determined that it won't take over our weekends.  It is physically hard work, plus my partner works long hours, the children work hard at school and by the weekend we all need a break. 

But the main thing we all want to do in the weekends is, as my son puts it, "something fun".  I'm keen to ensure that we still get a chance to go on interesting outings and explore new places, as that was why we moved here.

Here is an outing we did recently.  We went to Fremantle Prison and did the Doing Time tour.  Now I wasn't sure about this outing before we did it but it was absolutely fascinating largely due to the fact that our tour guide was an excellent performer and storyteller.  His commentary was more like a one man show (best use of the dramatic pause ever!) and he made the gruesome and tragic history of the place come alive. 

Fremantle Prison was initially a convict prison then later became a general criminal prison.  Forty four people were hanged there; in the chapel the commandment most often written as "Thou shalt not kill" was instead listed as "Thou shalt not murder" as here it was the system doing the killing. We went into the room where the executions took place but I certainly didn't feel like taking photos in there.

The prison closed in 1991 and reopened soon after as a tourist attraction.  Most of the site has been left exactly as it was when the prison closed, with a couple of cells converted back to what they would have been like in convict times.

I'd recently read a book of short stories called The Window Seat by indigenous WA writer Archie Weller.  This author has spent time in prison for what he considered a wrongful conviction and many of his characters also spend time in prison, including Fremantle.  Given that this was one of the grimmest and saddest places I've ever been to, the despair and injustice in those stories became very real to me here.

We have a long list of other outings I want to go on, just not this weekend.  I've now spent one week breaking the house to the point where it is now quite uninhabitable.  I also made a start on tidying the huge jungle of a garden during which a large rotten branch fell on my face.  As a result I'm currently sporting a black nose and a purple eye and am getting strange looks when I go out in public; a quiet at-home break from the breaking will be just the ticket this weekend.