Dream house, dream life, yeah right. Dream on…

Archive for October, 2011

Don’t wake me

OMG! Look at this! I don’t believe it.

Yes, that’s the first coat of varnish going onto my soooo smooth floors. The floor guy did a great job, helped no doubt by the fact the timber in this house is just perfect. There is one knot hole in the whole 3 rooms (of course it’s in the middle of the bedroom, no doubt will be on the visible end of the bed). There’s not a crack between boards, and even the water stains that were there after we lifted the carpet have totally gone. (My parents were very good at overwatering potted plants, especially ones sitting on the floor. I on the other hand just put them in places where they blow over at regular intervals and make the carpet muddy!) I can’t wait for the morning to see if they really look as good as I thought they did as I backed out the front door. One more reason to love this house. I have the three varnished areas shut off, still have a large house to move around in (well I would have if it didn’t contain all the stuff from the rest of it), and most importantly can get to the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom easily. Even varnishing, the bedroom was the only room that only had one exit. I’ll always remember Aunty Holly would always get lost when going to the bathroom here, she could never remember which direction to go, and never seemed to get that no matter which way you went, you’d go around. Very different to her own hall down the middle house. I keep thinking there must be something terribly wrong with the varnish I put on, because I thought it was easy. Everyone has made such a fuss about how hard it is to varnish your floors. It was… fun. I used a Teflon roller for the first coat. As instructed by the pro I rolled across the grain first then before reloading the roller rolled down the grain. Rollers only leave bubbles he said if it is so warm the varnish sets before the bubbles flatten. I guess we’ll see tomorrow. I’ll use the recommended lambs wool pad thingy for the next coat/s. Second coat will be harder to see where it’s been I guess, but it’s satin not gloss so hopefully it won’t show up too badly. I ended up going with Feast Watson Floor Clear, because it says it is abrasion resistant and lower odour. So far I can barely smell it this end of the house, so I haven’t decamped as planned.

OMG I have polished wood floors. It’s like a dream. Nobody wake me.

Normal is only a setting on washing machines

I walked past the terrace window tonight, forgetting I had earlier turned on all the solar lights that I had charging on the terrace. So things are flickering and twinkling away in little piles on the floor and tables and potted plants. Of course I went outside to play with settings.

In the dark.

I picked up a controller and felt for the switch. Click. It blinked then did nothing. Click. Ahh Steady on mode. Click. Hmm no light, maybe this is slow fade…. wait… nothing? Weird mode. Click. Steady on. Click. No light. Click steady on. This really is an uninteresting mode, why won’t it change to the next mode? I want them all twinkling, like fairy lights should.

It took me a few more switches and dark times before I realised I was pressing the on off switch not the mode switch.


My sister came in today.

“Want some shortbread?” I asked.

“Oh god yes I’m starved.”

I opened the fridge, pulled out the roll of dough, sliced off some bits and passed them over and stood munching.

She too was nomming down. And then she says “So, were you planning to bake these?”

“Oh my god! You’re supposed to cook shortbread? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“Yes, apparently. And ANZACs. Although you have to make a double mix in order to have enough left to make it worth turning the oven on.”


Surprise! Big surprise today – the guy sanding the floors trimmed back the bit of carpet in the doorway between the lounge/new study and the living room and the board under it was polished. Strange, I remember when we pulled all the old carpet out and laid this one 14 years ago, but I have no memory of the living room being polished. I knew the sunroom and small bedrooms were polished, because Mum and Dad had them carpeted soon after we moved in. I knew the lounge and hall and bedroom that I’ve just stripped had carpet on them from the beginning (it was still there when we moved in – mushroom in the bedroom and lounge, gold in the living room and hall,) but I simply don’t remember the living room having been polished under the carpet. This is the best news. Now if I can just find an economic way to line the ceiling of the downstairs flat to cut the noise I can strip up the rest of the carpets and simply buff the floors, no need for deep sanding like the unfinished boards received today.

For once this house has a surprise for me that doesn’t mean spending more money and more time and making even  simple jobs complicated.




Message from outer space

You know in Sci fi movies where the character must don a spacesuit and take heavy equipment out into space to fix the outside of a space craft? They usually play some haunting piece of music interspersed with the sound of heavy breathing amidst overbearing silence. Want to recreate the scene? First take noise cancelling earplugs and attach to ears. Suddenly all you can hear is the sound of your breathing and the rustle of your clothes or skin against the plastic rod joining your ears. Now add a disposable dust mask. They are termed disposable because after doing nothing more effective than convincing you you can’t breathe, you tear them off (the staples always give way at this point anyway) and toss them away in disgust after finding your mouth and chin caked with plaster dust or sawdust.

So, today I visited outer space and sanded back all the plaster holes I filled yesterday. Just to keep it authentic every few minutes my faceplate would go blank so I couldn’t see any advancing danger (or the sander!). Why they haven’t invented safety goggles that don’t fog up when you wear them with a dust mask I don’t know?

Sanding done, I then broke out the roller and decoloured the ceilings of the new study, the hall and the bedroom. Strange how I didn’t notice until I started putting white on that they were all painted quarter mix of the colour of the walls. Suddenly the orangey pink of the bedroom and the yellow cream of the rest are much less 90’s. I also discovered that Teflon rollers are better than cheap ones and that I’m never ever going to paint the ceiling of more than one room per day! I had to pin the monitor to the ceiling to type this because I can’t move my neck any more 😉 Not to mention my arms feel like they have been torn out of my shoulders. I’m almost looking forward to pulling staples out of the floor tomorrow because it means I don’t have to look up!

Sandy circles


The sound I make every time I move.

Thursday a man comes to sand back the lounge (new study), hall and main bedroom floors. Today I have scraped plaster out of cracks (ohh soooo many cracks) in the walls and ceilings, filled them, and sanded them back. The hall and the lounge are waiting for the morning so I can see what I’m doing) to be sanded.

Then I have to apply the world’s fastest coats of ceiling paint. Then there are more staples to be pulled out of the floors. Someone said I was making progress. I wish I could see it. All I can see is mess. There is nowhere to sit or stand that isn’t piled with stuff. After the floors are sanded I have to varnish them. After they are varnished it is still weeks before I can move furniture onto them.

Meanwhile I can’t empty rooms or get the uni in to assess my accommodation or get students in here to pay the mortgage. And I’m spending time plastering cracks between cupboards and walls in halls that no one will ever notice. In fact 90% of visitors to the house couldn’t tell you there was a cupboard there, let alone that the side of it was cracked! What am I doing???

So many ideas, so little brain

I swear my head will explode one day soon. Probably tomorrow, I hear that’s the new ‘use before’ date on the planet. Of course the world would end the day AFTER I finally commit and spend the day ripping up carpets, pulling staples from the floors and generally moving every book in the house twice.

The main bedroom floor has to be polished – by the time I took out the built in bed (no carpet underneath it), cut around the new ensuite, took out the built in dressing table (another bare spot) and then moved my new bed into a different spot in the room it was jsut going to look too weird. Besides, I LOVE polished wood floors.If the flat wasn’t directly below the living room, separated only by the carpet and underlay and a thin layer of some sort of precursor to plasterboard that looks like hard felt, then I’d have that carpet up in a moment. As it is – some sort of insulation will have to be installed before I dare go bare in that room. Anyone with proven soundproofing in a ceiling? Seems the only thing people can agree on in the topic is that it is going to cost $$$.

So I get quotes to polish the bedroom floor (5m x 4m room) which I’ve already pulled the carpet off and taken out all the tack board and nails. 4 quotes later I pull myself off the floor and ask if the rate would be better if I was doing more? Turns out it would. Also turns out I can save a heap by doing the varnishing myself. Quite frankly if I thought I could get the drum sander in and out of the car I’d be doing that bit too. Finally yesterday I found a young guy who will sand the bedroom, the lounge (future study) and the front hall for only $200 more than the first quote I had for sanding a single room.

So today we pulled up the carpet in the lounge /hall and after crawling around under the house (where no woman has ever been before) I discovered (well I had pointed out to me) that several of my brick foundation pillars were sitting there quite unattached to the floor joists they are supposed to be supporting. Using scraps of timber lying around we managed to fix that (so nice to have a friend’s husband who knows what he’s doing, and who can use a pinch bar to lift the whole house up while I shove wedges under it!) Not sure how well I’m going to do alone when I go back under to see why the floor seems to drop away from the skirting in the middle of the window and to see if I can get under the front door and fix that squeak. However, I’ve just been dancing around in my totally empty lounge/study and not hearing a single squeak. Unlike this morning when it sounded like a deaf violin orchestra tuning up every time you approached the doorway.

I was going to tell you some of the myriad of ideas that occurred to me today – everything from colours for skirting boards to what to decorate the walkway with and to how make a porch for the front door.

Mostly though, isn’t it amazing how different an empty room is? It’s like blank paper and stationery shops – so full of promise and opportunity. While spinning around my newly empted carpetless lounge room on an office chair today (what? you think you wouldn’t when confronted with a huge smooth surface? LOL) I completely changed the intended layout for that room. The nail salon part has swapped sides, bookcases have moved, cupboards have moved. I hope it all fits because it felt so right when I sat there and thought “this feels like a salon”. The other side of the room felt like a cell.

Now I need to fall into bed – of course I chose to do all this heavy work (yesterday was spent shoving boxes of stuff around and sorting mountains of clothes for vac packing) and my sister had to move house TODAY. It was 30ish C yesterday didn’t get below 22 last night until after 2am *insert insomniac emoticon here*, it was too hot to sleep and today was 22 by 9am and didn’t cool down until after 4. It’s October for crying out loud. What on earth is summer going to be like if this is spring?

Photos soon!


She’s dead Jim, dead.

Hello you’ve reached your electricity company. For enquiries about  reconnection, disconnection please press 1. For account enquiries please press 2. To report electrical faults please stick finger in socket and we’ll  follow the flashing lights. To speak to  someone with a brain please call a different number.


Hello, thank you  for calling  xxx. How may I help you?

Hi. I have just bought this house from my dead mother’s estate and I need to  change the billing details to my name.

So you want your name on the account?

I want my mother’s name off the account and it in my name since I own the house now.

*give account no*

Are you listed on the account as an authorised contact?

No, I don’t expect to  be on the account as an authorised person – when I rang a few months ago to  tell you  the bill  would be late no one would speak to  me because I wasn’t my dead mother.

*She goes off to  find out about  changing the account over*

Are you  there?


Is [mother’s name] there with  you now?

(Yes but spelling everything out on the Ouija board is making my arms tired so please confine your questions to  yes/no  answers!)
No, she’s dead. (I mean how many clues did you need to  figure that out?)

Oh. One moment please.

A bit later she returns, asks me to  fax through a copy of the death certificate or a notice from the paper and says it will  all be fixed.

Which  is different from the guy who  would not speak to  me  a few months back when I wanted a 2 week extension on an account and advised me to  go  in to  see them with  a letter from  my solicitor, copy of the will etc etc. Apparently it would be illegal for him to  discuss the account with me. I said I didn’t want to  discuss it, just put a note on it that it would be paid in a fortnight. No can do he said. So sorry, not spending $$$ on solicitors fees to  tell you  I don’t get paid till  the end of the month. Feel  free to  spend more money and time sending me overdue notices.

Polish is the key

I have a matter of days to get this house ready for students to move in. I’m looking for people to sand floors, tossing up whether to rip up more carpet, pulling out cupboards (more on that later) and I have a garden where the weeds are growing so fast they wrap around your ankles if you stop to admire the flowers. I plan to build floor to ceiling shelves down the front hall to turn it into a library. I have 3 rooms of books and junk to pack into boxes and relocate. So what did I do yesterday? I went to the tip shop of course. Yes I told myself I was looking for single beds that I need, but that doesn’t explain why I was inside looking at the dishes.

In my nonexistent library I plan to build one shelf that will be the ‘entrance console’ – maybe have a mirror behind it, space for a vase or something. After all you’ll open the front door straight into two walls of books, no foyer, nothing to say come in. And on that shelf I thought it would be nice to have a dish to toss my keys, headphones etc in when I walk in the door. So I’m looking through the dishes at the tip shop. There’s a brass one, labelled with whiteboard marker, $2.30 and a C in a circle. I’m not sure if this was supposed to indicate it was copyrighted or made of copper. It was very dirty brass and had some large black marks through the bowl and on the back. Probably wouldn’t clean up – after all someone tossed it out. But it was nice and heavy, maybe I could spray paint it with a bronze and it would do? Then beside it was a silvery chromey (I’m good with metal identification right?) looking bowl with a gorgeous punched pattern around the rim. You know the blackish look silver gets when you don’t clean it for years? (Go on, admit it, we all have that ‘its too hard’ piece in the back of a cupboard somewhere.) Well this bowl didn’t have that look, but it didn’t have a stainless steel clean look either. And it had big black stains in the bottom, like the coating had worn off. (Gee, if only I’d thought to photograph them I wouldn’t need to use all these words.) Anyway, it was only $2 and would look awesome painted black. I’m sure I could find a use for it – after all I really need bowls at both doors right?

By the time I got home it was raining (well PELTING) down, so I pulled out the Silvo and had a go at the bowl. Wow. Couple of little pitted marks in the bottom, but really pretty good for an ornament. No idea what I’m going to put in it, but I am sure of one thing. This bowl had never ever seen silver polish before.

So, I grabbed the Brasso. The brass bowl took a little longer and some lemon and bicarb, and the use of a some 1200 grit wet and dry sandpaper on some of the stains. But an hour later this is what they looked like.

A little more sanding and a good polish with Brasso this morning and look at it now!\

I bought some more sandpaper today – I can probably get the residue of the stains out with a little more work (I am SUPPOSED to be doing a million other things before I get to put bowls in the hallway…)

I am now convinced these bowls were the victims of a throwaway society. Maybe their owners have never seen anything polished? I can see it now, the new bride tossing out the canteen of silver cutlery because it ‘went off.’ Maybe I just have too many memories of newspaper covered counters spread with all the silver, then the copper, then the brass for polishing before every party. Polish still works folks (despite the craze recently for distressed and worn looking items.) Polish is the key.

Not even close to normal

Apparently normal people leave school, get jobs, buy a car as their  first  big purchase and then eventually buy a house. I’m not normal. It’s a long time since I left school but  apart from  computers, this house is the  first major purchase I’ve ever made.

Normal  people have  jobs, find a house for sale,  apply for  a mortgage, get the mortgage, settle on the house, get the keys and move in. I’m not normal.

Today I bought a house. My first house. Settlement was at 2:30.

I spoke to no one. No previous owner met me to show me how the sprinklers worked or where the hidden light switch was. No one even checked to see if the plumbing would hold up or if the building certificates were up to code.

I pulled up in the driveway after work and looked at MY house. I let myself in the door with the same keys I’d used to lock it this morning. I took a step and tripped over the same bag of stuff waiting to be stashed in the shedlet that I had tripped over on my way out the door this morning. I tried to see the couch in the sunroom, but the piles of my clothes I’d tossed on it over the weekend as I emptied a wardrobe obliterated it. There are boxes of xmas decorations piled on the dining table. Come to  think of it, it kind of looks like I’m moving in. Or moving out. Actually, I’ve lived here since I was 9.

Hi, my name is Minuet, and I own a house (and I’m not normal).

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